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Nerd Journey Podcast
62 minutes | 14 days ago
One Year as a Google Cloud Engineer Part 2 with John White
Welcome to episode 99 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. Today’s episode is part 2 of a discussion we had where Nick asks John to reflect on his first year as a Google Cloud Engineer. Original Recording Date: 11-01-2020 Topics – Google Cloud 1-Year Check-in, Part 2 1:24 – Career in the Cloud This is part 2 of John’s 1-year check-in at Google Cloud. Go back and listen to part 1 if you missed it to get an idea of what John has learned during that time. What are the different advancement levels within the Customer Engineering role at Google Cloud? At Google there are levels. Usually entry level is L3. The levels go up to L7 as individual contributor roles. John thinks the promotion from L4 to L5 is the last one a manager can have sole discretion on, but there is heavier scrutiny for the higher level promotions. This is mostly speculative as John has not been through a promotion cycle just yet. Technical background and complexity of work you are capable of doing consistently continue to raise as one moves up through the levels. There are no specific descriptions for L3 through L7 except Customer Engineer. John mentioned a new role called Enterprise Cloud Architect (a role closely aligned with the Customer Engineer role), and most of those folks are L6 / L7. The job description is different from Customer Engineer, and the engagement model is also different. They just happen to report to the same managers as Customer Engineers. Keep in mind there are options at large companies to progress as an individual contributor which may not be there at smaller companies. It doesn’t have to be Pre-Sales either. What is John’s take on being tied more to cloud services than before? At VMware before John left there were a number of subscription services. Over time, that seems to be happening more and more. One of his favorite products was Wavefront (now named Tanzu Observability by Wavefront). It is a high volume time-series database that can really only be done in the cloud. When you buy something as a service (whether in your own datacenter or elsewhere), the service is owned and operated by a different party but provided to you for consumption. There is this bleeding edge perception of cloud services, but John’s thinking on it has evolved. Cloud services are not inherently bleeding edge / cutting edge. Listen to the examples he gives of services that are useful but aren’t super exciting (O365 / hosted e-mail). Some of the services Google has are a bit earlier in the hype cycle but may require more knowledge to handle. VMware is in this business as well (i.e. services around Kubernetes). Another example would be machine learning. The more these services become commodity, they become more like infrastructure and a bit less glamorous. Cloud companies of all types are focusing on products a little earlier in the maturity cycle. 13:07 – Many people go work for a vendor because they are passionate about the technology. Has John achieved a passion for the technology as a result of his experience after not having used much of the technology coming into Google Cloud? Before working for VMware, John was excited about bringing the technology he wished he could have used as a customer to his customers. Coming into Google Cloud, things like key differentiators of the services offered were not as clear to him. These were things he asked about in the interview process. Once on the inside, John came to better understand. Things like artificial intelligence and machine learning were somewhat "hand wavy" and felt like buzz words. Now John understands what machine learning is, what infrastructure needs to be in place for it to work, why we would want to use machine learning, etc. It was similar for data analytics, data pipelines, etc. These are all valuable when you have the right problem to solve, but one must understand the problem well. John mentioned streaming data analytics and how Wavefront from VMware helps solve this. John and his peers are able to leverage lab environments to learn about the products (how he learns best). Listen to his story about using Google products to create a COVID-19 data tracker. 21:53 – Cultural Changes in the Move to Google The in-office culture required some adjusting, and John came to value it greatly. While he does not miss the commute, he does miss seeing colleagues in person, picking brains, going to lunch with extended team members, etc. When you are new to an organization, this is such a valuable experience. John isn’t sure how he did it at VMware without this. John was able to shadow people and listen in on calls to help him learn and ramp. Over time you start to exercise the right muscles and get better and better. The Sales process was different. It was brand new to John to be assisting a Salesperson in efforts to drive business and to follow through afterward to help drive consumption. If customers do not use a service, everyone is unhappy at the end of a subscription term. There is an element of customer success to the role. Finding additional use cases within an organization for a technology already in use helps with the consumption element and provides more value to the customer. This seems to allow for flexing a different kind of muscle. Many of John’s customers are greenfield customers (i.e. no significant spend with Google Cloud). Only recently has he been involved in the monitoring of consumption. Being involved in hiring interviews is not something he did while at VMware. At Google Cloud, none of the interviewing is done by hiring managers as a general rule. All initial screening and interviews to qualify to get hired at Google is not an area in which hiring managers are involved. Managers get involved later in the process, however. In these initial screenings, interviewers are looking for things like role-related knowledge, general cognitive ability, leadership, and Googlyness. In the role-related knowledge interviews, it is usually two people (front line Customer Engineers) interviewing a prospective Customer Engineer. In cognitive ability interviews, a front-line Customer Engineer is trying to understand a candidate’s thinking and problem solving capabilities. Generally leadership and Googlyness screenings are done by a front-line employee. That’s 4 individual contributors which get involved in the interview process for an incoming Customer Engineer. John says there was a great deal of training internally on this which finally helped him understand what the documents he had read from careers.google.com had indicated (seemed a bit opaque at first). John has coached a number of people through this process. To be clear, John has participated in interviewing candidates who were going only for a Customer Engineer role or the Cloud Architect role (both report to his management chain). If you are looking to change jobs (even if not specifically targeting Google), look at the careers.google.com "How We Hire" section. It matches a number of things we have previously discussed on the show and describes the entire hiring process. Being a part of the interview process and coaching others through it has made John much more equipped to go through hiring processes in the future. The performance review process is very different than he had in previous roles. John does not remember ever preparing specific material for reviews at other companies. He did receive performance feedback from previous managers, but this is very different than Google. Google has a twice yearly formal review process which requires deep introspection. This is something you want to be preparing for on a weekly basis along the way. Asking for peer reviews was extremely helpful. The first time John had to do this, it was extremely intimidating. He was not sure what they were asking him for. Despite his manager explaining it clearly, John still had challenges with the process the first time through. At that point he had only successfully gone through training. It was challenging to describe an impact and accomplishments. This process is not routine (at least for John) an may require he go through it a few more times to get to that point. John has a weekly task on Fridays reminding him to pull information out of meetings during the previous week which would be useful for performance review purposes as well as a reminder of exactly what he needs to target. John was delivered a performance review yearly before VMware but little more than that. Nick shares his experiences with performance reviews (nothing compared to what John has been through at Google). John mentioned the official feedback after everything he prepared came at a later time with categories and ratings. This seemed to be extremely burdensome on management with the need to provide feedback and justifications for ratings to employees. In order to get promoted, John recommends preparing a promotion package which shows you are exceeding the metrics for success in multiple areas. At Google, the feedback ratings are calibrated and standardized across the entire organization (regardless of role, etc.). 41:50 – John’s Professional Development The job description at each level is very clear. On a weekly basis you want to describe how you are meeting or exceeding those job descriptions (i.e. strongly outperforming a specific metric, etc.). Recording things once per week was definitely not something John had previously done but is absolutely the best way to keep your accomplishments top of mind. This is near impossible to do well just before review time. John has learned to document the things he is doing even better now (account plans, customer overviews, etc.). In the past these types of documents had an ever changing format. John chose to create a narrative of his customers with engagement history. Listen to how he describes it and what gets tracked. When reflecting back on it, John isn’t sure why he didn’t do this before. This type of document is also helpful if an account changes hands to another team. Staying organized like this has done wonders to help John keep up with tasks. John has created a documentation web for each customer that he can share with extended team members to get them up to speed easily. Does John see himself moving to a different role within Google at some point? It’s too early to tell. He feels he needs to think of himself as an "Exceeds Expectations" person in a number of areas before considering a move. He has potential to be useful in a management position if company growth would allow for it, but again, he wants to first further sharpen his experience and level of excellence as a Customer Engineer (i.e. history of being a strong performer, influence on specific products, etc.). No specific product / product line has jumped out as an area in which he would like to at some point specialize. But, you never know. See also our Specialist vs. Generalist discussion from episode 26. Is the move to Google what John thought it would be? He didn’t really know what to expect. It is normally traumatic to move from a familiar place to something new. You’re walking away from all of the contacts, internal knowledge, and reflexes for navigating an organization. It has taken a year for John to understand enough about the organization to be effective. It had been long enough since joining VMware that he didn’t remember how traumatic it was to have zero institutional knowledge. John created a document to help others navigate the organization (getting a customer support that is in proof of concept, for example). 53:42 – Closing Remarks John doesn’t want every interaction with his previous teammates to hinge upon how great Google is. John tries to keep in touch with folks every 6 months or so, but it is not officially tracked in a document. Keeping in touch with others can be a challenge when entering a whole new world (new company). John suggests we all get organized early on and begin writing the narrative for your review process. Make it a habit as John wishes he had. Begin tracking your work against requirements in the job description for your role on a consistent basis. Even if there is no formal review process, it would be extremely powerful to give your manager a packet of information you have written. The weekly reflection process may seem like a whip, but get in the habit. Nick wishes he did it more as well. If this is not something you are doing, don’t complain when you do not accomplish what you want. This is something you can control relevant to your performance. If you do it and get nowhere, you have room to complain. If you chose not to do something to make it easier for your manager to help you get that next raise or promotion, it’s on you. If you do in fact get nowhere, there is still a benefit! This process has written / improved your resume for you. Getting hired is like a very structured performance review process. Episode 100 is coming soon! We should do something special for it.
53 minutes | 21 days ago
One Year as a Google Cloud Engineer Part 1 with John White
Welcome to episode 98 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we check in on John’s lessons learned after one year as a Customer Engineer at Google Cloud. Original Recording Date: 10-24-2020 Topics – Google Cloud 1 Year Check-in 1:48 – John’s Role at Google Cloud John is Customer Engineer at Google Cloud (the public cloud provider part of Google), which is a Pre-Sales Technical Engineering role. This type of role can be called different things at different companies – Pre-Sales Engineer, Sales Engineer, etc. Sometimes this is called a Solution Architect (depends on how the company defines it). John acts as the technical front line of the Google Cloud portfolio for a couple of salespeople. He helps with customer conversations about the technology and with territory management. This is similar to the role he had at VMware but has its differences. John supports two salespeople (account reps they are sometimes called) as a stateful technical resource. As for his customer base, he has about 15 ranging in size from startups born in the cloud to extremely large healthcare customers. All of these are in what Google classifies as the Enterprise space (again, may be defined differently than at other vendors). 4:34 – Potential Career Paths and Differences from VMware As John progressed at VMware he focused on excellence in Solution Engineering, but he did not take steps to setup for a career in Technical Marketing, People Management, Product Management, etc. When the opportunity came along to pursue a different role, it made sense to stay on the same path. The customer mix, the organization, and the products are different even though the role itself is quite similar (i.e. difference in the execution of similar tasks). Differences from VMware The Customer Engineers under John’s manager operate in a pooled model. Each person has strengths and weaknesses, and teammates can provide additional support to their peers with some additional freedom to take primary responsibilities when it makes sense. The set of specialists overlays (product specialists) available to engage for help is roughly the same but are specific to Google Cloud products. John gives examples of overlay teams for specific products such as AI, a Security Center of Excellence, G Suite, and others (recent acquisitions like Apigee). John has assimilated to G Suite after initially being hesitant about a move away from Office 365. He does, however, miss Visio. In roles like this, an Engineer is assigned from a compensation standpoint to the quota of a territory which is the same as one or more account representatives. The Engineer is there to act as a technical resource without regard to Sales attainment (compensated differently from a Sales rep). John shares some minor differences in percentages of variable compensation. Quotas at Google Cloud are very different. John’s quota is aligned with his manager’s quota (as are all members of the team), which means there is no disincentive to helping someone else on the team (no variable compensation misalignment among team members). This model promotes collaboration, and it made John feel freer to ask for help. John mentioned in some models, a manager’s compensation could be aligned with an Engineer helping a teammate, but that is not the case for the specific Engineer. The VMware portfolio was always growing and seemed to have expanded to over what someone could expect to know at a 200 level across the board. At Google Cloud it may be larger than that already. To be able to demo every product in the portfolio is probably expecting too much. John gives the examples of Machine Learning, Data Analytics, Data Lakes, and Data Warehousing as areas that were pretty new to him. There are 8 different database engines to understand (type of storage, use case, etc.). It’s tough to compare. The depth of knowledge required to gain proficiency / excellence in each area is a steeper climb at Google Cloud. When he first started at Google Cloud, John had moved from a 100% field role at VMware to working in an office each day. Previously, he had the luxury of visiting the VMware office here and there (maybe once per week), but at Google his commute became 40-50 minutes daily. The benefits were getting face to face with colleagues, which encouraged camaraderie and collaboration. With the need to work completely from home for now, John misses these benefits (especially eating meals together and just talking with others). 24:19 – Industry Experience without Organizational Knowledge The ramp time to really understanding the Google Cloud organization and its processes took longer than John thought. Structures and roles It was difficult to learn which teams do what and when to call them in. It takes time to understand. The Solution Architect role, for example, is more code driven and usually has some kind of product overlay focus (working on product integration, much like a Product Manager at VMware). Google has an Enterprise Cloud Architect role with a very subtle difference from a Customer Engineer. The need to be humble was extremely important as John had to repeatedly ask for guidance from others. He’s documented the rules of engagement to provide for others joining the Google Cloud organization to help them ramp quicker. With enough iterative work here, maybe this document could be something presented to people during orientation. New types of positions within the company are constantly being created (a Solution Manager, for example), adding to the list of things to know. A different customer base There seem to be many more cloud native customers in the Google customer mix. It’s quite different from what John saw at VMware. Some of these companies were born in the cloud (i.e. never bought physical servers, etc.). Many customers are greenfield (not current Google Cloud customers). At VMware, John worked with existing customers throughout his tenure and managing their growth. Some customers may have existing relationships with Amazon or Microsoft as it relates to cloud technologies, but Google Ads may be the only relationship the customer has today with Google. John has to help his customers understand Google’s capabilities and that they are more than just a search company or a company that develops Android. This working with greenfield customers is a muscle that someone in Pre-Sales should practice exercising (i.e. talking to customers about a new line of business your company has is along the same lines). The segment of healthcare At VMware this was a specific vertical segment for healthcare. John is sort of working in the vertical but not in the actual vertical. John’s manager does not focus only on managing Engineers in the healthcare and life science space, for example. The learnings from the healthcare and life science vertical can still be applied as a help in this customer set. Learning the healthcare industry, buying patterns, motivations, etc. was very new for John. With 80% of his customers being in this industry, he is required to bring an opinionated stance on how to use Google’s technology in the space. This is a tremendous growth opportunity. A new product portfolio John was nervous about this at first. It has taken a year to get his head around it. It was extremely important to remain humble. In the first 12 weeks, an architecture certification was required, but John was given focused time to train for it. Each product has a certain depth of complexity. See Episode 23 from John’s 3-year check-in at VMware. He mentioned it took a year to get competent in the job, and then he had to work to get proficient. It took the same amount of time at Google with the same methodology. John had to be ok with being humble and unafraid of asking questions in front of peers. He offers new hires the opportunity to ask him questions as they ramp in a safe space. Can someone get a job at a technology company without knowing the portfolio? John thinks the best bet is either 1) deep domain knowledge of the technology (implement, sell, or maintain the products) or 2) deep domain knowledge of the role (technical sales, product management, etc.). In the Pre-Sales field, there is a talent shortage. Many companies will look to recruit from colleges and train graduates to become technical sales professionals. This helps build the talent pool. John’s father was in technical sales at Eastman Kodak many years ago. Even then, John did not know the role existed or exactly what it was. If there is another way we left out, please let us know! We want to hear the story. 49:47 – Some Parting Career Tips For those trying to break into Pre-Sales… Identify what you want to do early on. Be open to nontraditional roles. Listen to podcasts on pre-Sales technical engineering. We had Ramzi Marjaba on as a guest in Episode 27. Get educated on the different jobs out there. Look on company websites for different technical roles (analyst role, systems administrator, database admin, project management, etc.). Spoiler alert…there is a part 2 coming! Contact us if you need help on the journey.
40 minutes | a month ago
Building Your Own Business From Idea to Operations with Ashley Connell
Welcome to episode 97 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss the journey that Ashley Connell, the founder of Prowess Project, took to get from idea to fully operational. Original Recording Date: 09-30-2020 Topics – Building Your Own Business From Idea to Operations 2:20 – The Start of Something New The morning just before A10 lost their biggest client, Ashley had a great idea for a new business. She had recently read Built to Sell by John Warrillow in a single sitting. The book is a business fable about an entrepreneur who wanted to sell a company that wasn’t worth anything and his journey to change things. Ashley read the book, wrote a list of things she thought she was good at, and the next morning picked one. This was the birth of Prowess. It started with an idea about meetings. Often times meeting wrap ups with action items and notes are not handled properly. What if they could do a sort of Uber for meetings and have people pay for a meeting facilitator? Ashley had lunch with a friend from middle school who was running an accelerator program. Ashley applied the next day and was accepted to Founder Institute, which takes you from idea to Incorporated in 4 months. The program is very challenging and is the best thing she has ever done. An accelerator program is typically for scaling an existing business. Founder Institute was more of an incubator (idea to reality). Regarding the list Ashley made, it was about 9 things she felt were her strengths. This was right after the A10 breakup. The number one thing on the list was note taking. She is very good at making sure things get accomplished at work. As Ashley later learned, meeting facilitation in small snippets is more of a discomfort and not a pain. People pay to get rid of pain and not discomfort. In addition, her heart was with women returning to work. She was, at the time, in her early 30s and married but did not yet have children. Throughout her career, she had an ongoing anxiety about how having children would affect her career progression. According to Harvard Business Review, if a woman is out of the workforce to raise children for 3 years, she loses 30% of her potential compensation that can never be made up. Ashley became obsessed with this statistic. How could women not have both? The meeting facilitation idea would allow training women to do this wherever they were located. However, the two real things people needed were additional project management and more empathy. Prowess helps the women who took time off from the workforce. They get training that leads to a certification. Half the curriculum includes confidence, goal setting, emotional intelligence, and communication. The other half is on working remotely, business trends, technology training, and project management. At the end, a candidate takes a test to be counted in or out of the Prowess job pool. During the process, the Prowess team gathers 52 different work style indicators on the candidates and their work. Getting to this point was all about responded to feedback. Ashley’s experience was as a hiring manager, someone who would use a member of the Prowess community to help their business. This was key in not getting overly passionate about the mission and not concentrate too much on talent development. Initially Ashley went and spoke to hundreds of women returning to the workforce. About 43% of women leave the workforce to raise children at some point. There was not a clear path for these women to return (no step-by-step process), making them feel overwhelmed and intimidated. The mix of mentorship, training, and community seems to be the secret sauce. All of the lessons Ashley learned from Spiceworks are being applied to her current company. 17:13 – Being CEO of Prowess and Finding Her Why They have been around for less than 2 years and have about 7 employees and 40 customers. The pool of talent is about 250 women. It was important to balance the talent with the opportunities for Prowess. They make money through placements and matching companies with talent. They can be more selective. There is an application process for candidates. Certain requirements apply to join the community. The certifications mentioned are a requirement as well. During COVID, Prowess created a pay it forward program so that once a candidate gets a job, they pay for another person to go through the program. This is fostering an ambassador program as well. 21:20 – Thinking Like CEO The way to get there is talking to your team. Truly understand their desires, dreams, what their family is like, and their personal goals. Ashley runs the business not for herself but for her employees. She surrounds herself with smart people and enables them to use their talents to move the company forward. Is she still in the Built to Sell Mindset? No. She has a 10-year plan for the company. Ashley built an organization to solve her future problem (being a woman who wanted to have children someday). Interviews, sourcing, and feedback take an amazing amount of time. Prowess can help cut down this time commitment for organizations because of their rigorous process. Ashley gives an example of how a prospective employer could get help from Prowess and get candidate recommendations for a specific role quickly. How do you progress the people? Ashley wants to build out more resources to bring emotional intelligence into the workforce. This is where many people shine, but this is dulled down or absent in a typical hiring process until you talk to them. Hiring is moving to the next step, and Ashley wants Prowess to be at the forefront. To own your own business, you must be obsessed with whatever it is you are doing. That was one of Ashley’s problems with A10 (was not obsessed with Marketing). With Prowess, Ashley has found her why. Entrepreneurship is extremely hard, perhaps even more than being in Sales. Obsession with solving the problem is the only way to keep going. The process is tiring yet rewarding. Finding balance Ashley has her employees write down what they want and what they don’t want. It is often easier to write down what you don’t want to paint the picture backward. After painting the picture, it’s important someone hold you accountable. Taking time off is certainly important here. The conversation may be over for now, but we certainly want to have Ashley back at some point! Contact us if you need help on the journey.
54 minutes | a month ago
Sponsorship, Dreams, and the Path to Entrepreneurship with Ashley Connell
Welcome to episode 96 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss sponsorship, dreams, and the path to entrepreneurship with Ashley Connell of Prowess. Original Recording Date: 09-30-2020 Topics – Sponsorship, Dreams, and the Path to Entrepreneurship 02:20 – Meet Our Guest, Ashley Connell Ashley Connell is the CEO and Founder of Prowess, an organization that helps companies find expert talent by vetting and certifying talented women who took time off from the work force in some way and want to get back into it. The candidates could be caretakers, a leader who wants to take a step back, or someone who is after a career pivot. Prowess has built a job matching platform that matches not only skills and expertise to roles but also communication style, behavior style, personality style with the team the person would be joining. This produces a better candidate fit to the role. 3:28 – Finding Spiceworks and A Fairy Godmother She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in public relations but had no intention of pursuing a career in it. Ashley started looking for internships in Marketing and stumbled across a small company in Austin called Spiceworks. She knew nothing about technology at the time but saw they had an opening in entry-level Marketing. Listen to Ashley’s story about the interview with her would-be manager and how it didn’t go exactly as she thought it might. In any case, Ashley became Jen Slaski’s first Marketing hire. She became a guinea pig for different Marketing projects. Once she tested them and got them off the ground they could be handed off to someone else. Ashley worked in the Austin office for about 4 years and then moved to London for a couple of years and helped open an office overseas, which helped her see Marketing from a global perspective. John and Nick originally met through the Spiceworks community. In much the same way, Nick met Ashley when she worked for Spiceworks at some local meetups in Austin. Nick digs into Ashley’s interview with Jen Slaski a little deeper. She was slightly overdressed for the interview and the culture at Spiceworks. Ashley was comfortable with asking questions and not knowing things. When talking to IT Professionals in the community, she made her role clear (helping to amplify the Spiceworks brand and connecting Marketers to IT Professionals). It wasn’t to know everything about technology. At the end of the day, Ashley’s knowledge of technology didn’t matter. People were more focused on building community than on their differences. 9:09 – What about the gender imbalance in the Spiceworks community and greater technology industry? The hard part about being a female is you do not know someone’s intention. You want to assume the best, but when people want to take you to coffee for career advice, for example, it may or may not be what they are bringing to the table. Spiceworks was a safe spot, but there were comments here and there that were inappropriate. Sometimes she had to pretend she didn’t hear them, which is horrible. If she could go back and change something, she would have said something. John makes the point that it is difficult early in your career to stand up to yourself in front of peers. Ashley talked to some women younger than her about these situations later. She had originally thought staying in those situations / being considered one of the guys was a good thing or a way to progress her career. "You should not have to be a part of the boys club to get to the next level." John says this is like a tacit allowance of harassment. It should be a constant 0 on the scale rather than getting to even a 1. Spiceworks was good at spotting this and calling it out, but at places later in Ashley’s career, the organizations weren’t so good about it. Even for males, why be considered one of the boys if that means allowing harassment? Many women in the tech industry leave their roles because of sexual harassment. For our male listeners, if you see something, say something. Ashley was involved in building Spiceworld, the annual Spiceworks conference which began in 2008. Listen to her story of when the conference was hosted at the Alamo Draft House in Austin. Putting on a conference like this makes you think through a number of backup plans for failure scenarios. When people pay for a 3-day experience, there is a lot of pressure to make things work. The Spiceworks community was great at giving feedback, whether good, bad, or ugly. It came from a genuine desire to improve things. There seemed to be a secret sauce behind Spiceworks and their community. There was empathy among IT Professionals, with Tech Marketers, and with Spiceworks employees. 19:19 – That’s What Dreams Are Made of When Ashley got to move to London, it was her dream. She studied abroad in college and really enjoyed it. During her interview with Jen Slaski, Ashley mentioned wanting to go back to Europe as a career goal. As it turns out, Jen orchestrated a way for Ashley to reach that goal by helping to open the European Spiceworks office. Ashley refers to Jen as her "real life fairy godmother." Finding mentors, champions, and sponsors early in your career is incredibly key to get to the next level. Sometimes we stumble upon these folks, and other times we have to seek them out diligently. In every stage of your career you need coaching. John gives the example of Tiger Woods at the top of his game still needing a coach. Great quote – "Managers talk to you. Mentors talk with you. Sponsors talk about you." This is part of that internal marketing we all need to do so people know who we are and what we are doing to make the organization more valuable. Great managers find a way to help their employees meet career goals and can help retain talent while promoting growth. 24:16 – Life at The Big Corporation Ashley left Spiceworks and worked for a small startup after coming back to Austin. She quickly realized she was doing all the same things she had done while at Spiceworks. A superstar is always wanting the next opportunity. A rock star wants to be steady and be an expert in one thing. Each of these personas has different types of motivations. Ashley is a superstar. She was recruited by SanDisk next, which was her first big corporate company. It was critical to her understanding of how big companies work. 25:16 – The role required a great deal of travel (50% of the time she was away in the Bay Area). She was able to get to know people higher up in the company, and they were able to get to know her. As in the past, the line was crossed a bit in some of these activities, which caused discomfort. There were a bunch of 1s that happened at this company. Ashley was eventually laid off. In fact, she was offered to either interview for her current position at 30% less pay or take a severance package. She chose to take the package (an easy decision). This caused no emotional downturn. Being an entrepreneur at heart, Ashley was ready for her next pursuit. Working for big companies with a very structured promotion plan does not work well for Ashley. It may not suit her ambition or progression goals. She realized this just was not for her. This is a lesson in finding out what a growth trajectory within the company is like. John mentions knowing to ask about this in interviews. When you bring in a spouse / partner, it is not just your decision in these types of situations. Sometimes there must be trade offs on who takes the career risk. 31:54 – The Entrepreneur Bug At this point, Ashley had the entrepreneur bug and started a Marketing consulting firm with some folks from SanDisk (A10 Partners). She made so many mistakes during this experience. It does not feel like failing when you’re in it. The entrepreneur bug started piece by piece with her experience at Spiceworks and then SanDisk. The biggest mistake at this consulting firm was having a "whale" client. Ashley worked with 2 other partners with much more experience than her. As a result, she hid her voice within A10 for a long time because of her perceived low rank. Ashley went along with ideas she wasn’t sure about as a result. She did not feel safe enough to expose weakness. She realized much later that not taking a more active role in activities like brainstorming was a missed opportunity. The culture was not one in which they could afford to have anything less than great ideas. The A10 client base was large tech companies, and these companies relied on the A10 team to be polished experts who always had the right answer. John makes a great point about this having to do with career inexperience, which can affect all of us. John references the TV show House, M.D. and relates it to Ashley’s predicament at A10. This dove tails nicely into diversity. You need a number of different views to get the best product in the end. Make sure your teams come from different backgrounds and have different experiences. Ashley shares her thoughts on culture fit vs. culture add. The latter makes the team better. John makes a reference to a county fair competition in which laymen guessed weight more accurately than experts. The Wisdom of Crowds This is about diverse points of view Nick points this back to Range by David Epstein and continues to buy into the idea of late specialization and varying experience. Go back and listen to Paul Green’s description of a team very much like this. Start around 33:16. 46:55 – Culture in small teams A10 dissolved because they lost their "whale client." After this kind of thing happens, it is difficult to think about what’s next. They decided to stop operation shortly thereafter but remained friends. Entering into a business partnership means having a plan for when the partnership dissolved. Don’t think about your marriage like this. Contact us if you need help on the journey.
36 minutes | 2 months ago
Losing a Teammate
Welcome to episode 95 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss losing a teammate. Original Recording Date: 09-27-2020 Topics – Losing a Teammate / Team Transitions 0:57 – Scenarios for Losing a Teammate Positive attrition Think of this as an internal transfer. This happens frequently in organizations that encourage progression. Negative attrition This is someone leaving the company (an outside offer, unexpected termination). Neutral case / re-organization For example, Nick moved to a new team last year because of some shuffling of resources within the company. This seems to be more frequent in large organizations or as companies change their focus. 4:11 – Effects on the Team Will the person be backfilled? This is going to affect morale. What can you do to take increased ownership of higher morale? This is a necessary step as part of your growth within an organization. This may be challenging of the team suffered from a sudden loss of a teammate. Many team members are going to wonder if someone leaving will be looked at as a cost cutting opportunity for the company. Nick recommends checking out this episode of Datanauts with guest Tim Crawford about the Transformational CIO. Workload Who will carry the workload and cover what the former teammate was doing, or how would it be distributed to everyone on the team? Replacing someone does not happen instantly, and covering someone’s workload does not imply you are immediately an expert in what they were doing. Factor in the ramp time. What about vacations when the team is short staffed? This is worse on smaller teams. Perhaps this is a chance to take on additional / more advanced work and gain experience. This could be a chance for you to step into a more senior role while the gap in the team shifts to needing a more junior role instead. There is a special case for smaller teams in regard to workload. What if there were only 2 or 3 people and you lose someone? This speaks to the need for good communication, documentation, and cross training on the team. 12:08 – Effects on the Manager Disclaimer – Nick and John have not had experience in a people management / leadership role (i.e. responsible for hiring / firing, compensation, career path for employees). Go back and listen to Episode 93 to hear Paul Green’s description of what a leader is. Have empathy for the manager and what may be going on in their life. The manager has to focus on hiring / filling the gap or perhaps having to justify the need for the role. Team morale will need attention, but they may have less 1-1 time for employee relationships. Does the manager have a bench of good candidates to pull from, or do they need to start working with a recruiter or possibly recruiting on their own? The manager must also be con This is a time to review job descriptions carefully if you’re the manager. Maybe the team needs something different now for strategic reasons. This will take more time, however. The workload of the manager will undoubtedly increase temporarily. Some of this may be filling in operational gaps from the loss of a team member or helping the rest of the team understand how their responsibilities have changed for the time being. It can be a rough job in times of transition. How can you jump in to help in the interview process? Ask your manager! Another career focused idea is to help review the onboarding processes for your manager. There may be nothing written down or a process that has not been updated in a while. If the head count cannot be replaced, the manager has to try to prevent greater morale dip / attrition. 20:15 – How You Can Help Provide good candidates for the opening on the team. Be candid about what you know of candidates you are recommending and their work. If you have not worked with them directly, be up front about it. Have you read the person’s blog and found it helpful, for example? Having a valuable network of candidates can be part of your value to the organization. Make sure you think it’s actually a fit. Check to see if your company has a referral bonus! How can you support your teammates? Provide 1-1 support. Be positive in team settings. Have empathy for others, and ensure they feel heard. Help the team out with coverage if you are able. Increasing the scope and scale of your responsibilities for the team is something you can put in a promotion packet. Document this somewhere. Go back and listen to our episodes with Cody de Arkland to help with showing empathy to others. Episode 85 – Impostor Syndrome, Anxiety, and Effective Listening Episode 86 – Emotional Tech Support and Debugging with Verbose Logging Welcoming a new teammate Take a new member under your wing, share knowledge, and make the person feel welcome. We can all take ownership of team culture. Learn about a new team member’s strengths. They have fresh eyes to analyze the organization’s processes. When someone asks about the why behind something and you cannot answer, maybe your documentation needs improvement or processes need to change. 31:26 – Keeping in Touch with Former Teammates Maintain your network, and keep the line of communication open. Schedule time to catch up now and then. You never know when the two of you may be working together again. Don’t make every interaction you asking for help. Ask what you can do to help. Curating your network is another series of tasks you can schedule. All of the things we have discussed are above and beyond our day-to-day tasks. It’s not something you will find in your job description. Look at what you are doing. How can you change it to further your career? Contact us if you need help on the journey.
42 minutes | 2 months ago
Career Progression, the CIO Role, and Growing Towards It with Paul Green
Welcome to episode 94 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss career progression, the role of CIO, and growing towards it with Paul Green, Chief Development Officer of Angel MedFlight. Original Recording Date: 09-16-2020 Topics – Career Progression, the CIO Role, and Growing Towards It 02:22 – Tips for the Individual Contributor’s Career Path Ask a lot of questions. Paul is notorious for this. His first boss even asked him to stop asking questions. New employees should ask if they don’t understand. Ask to understand the reasons behind the tasks and how they fit with the company’s goals. Paul used to go to stakeholders and ask why they needed something. Giving people what they ask for is not always the answer. Give them the perfect product for the process they are trying to accomplish. People generally don’t know what they want. We can usually give them something better. Paul talks about how his team looks at processes, outcomes, and solutioning at his company. Asking more questions allows for the delivery of better products. Don’t start off with a goal of wanting to be a supervisor or manager or CIO. Start by working hard, asking questions, and getting out of your comfort zone. Paul shares an interesting story of a mentee who wanted to be a Network specialist but ended up elsewhere. Don’t focus on the outcome. Moving to different roles allow you to figure out what you want to do. Staying at the same company for many years is pretty rare in today’s world and may not come with big pay raises. Normally loyalty and longevity of this nature comes from a love for the work. 09:40 – The CIO’s Role Paul never had aspirations to be CIO. He thought about doing bigger and better things every year. Paul wanted to do cool things in his industry to push what he was doing forward and shares career experiences in hospitality. During this process, he wanted to build the best IT solutions for the business. Paul doesn’t do things for compliments. He does it for the enjoyment and to show that anything is possible. You don’t really know what a CIO does until getting there, but if you’re coming up with ideas to make the business better, you are getting closer to it every day. A CIO today is 50% operations and 50% IT. Now IT is in the forefront of a CEO’s mindset. Quality IT drives business forward. Everything Paul has done in his career was to drive the business forward. Always be thinking about how to build a better process. Think of fellow employees as customers, and give them the best tools to do their job while treating them well. Keep pushing forward to build better processes. Paul shares an example of process improvement through technology from healthcare. A CIO should be just as worried about the operations as the company as the budget in IT and what products IT is delivering. Never buy a product because it has a cool tag line. It is not about new, fancy, shiny. Buy for what fits the goal and direction of the company. Organically move up through an organization without the goal of being CIO someday. On the way you may find something you are way better at than you realized. There is no right path for someone. It is not how you start but how you finish. 21:06 – Ideas for Personal Growth Paul shares the example of a college student with communication skills moving into IT. Paul does not like to silo people. You may not ever know their full capabilities. This is a challenge within large organizations. The way you communicate with others, and your enthusiasm will be noticed. The worst thing one can do is stay in the same job for many years. If you don’t show an enthusiasm to do something else, you won’t ever change. Show your superior you are capable of the job to which you’re applying. Start selling yourself on day 1. Communicate in the right way so that when the next step comes, your superiors have taken notice and will give you the chance to move on. Paul loves it when team members encourage one another. Leaders notice this kind of thing. It is much easier to sell yourself over time than to start when you get into the interview. A good leader is going to notice employees doing the right things. People don’t work for organizations. They work for leaders. Working for a good leader will deliver a good outcome. If a really good leader does not take notice, have a conversation in humility to confirm you’re on the right path. Put yourself in the position to humbly make the boss notice. Find a leader whose "why" you can support and that aligns with your "why," especially if you have aspirations to progress. These types of leaders will take you on a path of growth, even if some day it is not with them. 30:02 – Progressing to CIO Understand what is out there from a product perspective. Read and research, whether things relate to your business or not. You won’t know if something is best for you unless you know what is out there. Paul reads a number of different books on a wide spectrum of topics. He just finished The Sixth Man by Andre Iguodala. He just started Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. You are never finished learning. Paul shares the example of helping a recent college graduate think differently about what’s next. Paul likes to learn how to do something rather than be told about it. Learning how to do something and making mistakes allows deeper learning than just telling. He prefers guiding employees and allowing this same learning process. Learn about business, and understand what is out there. If you are in IT, you are in business. IT drives business processes, and these processes change companies. There’s no amount of information that is enough. If you want to be a really good leader, all of the information you take in will apply in some way. A lot of it will help you out with some of your team members. Talking to people on their level, and being conversant in a variety of topics helps build camaraderie. Ask questions. Be present. Too many of us are not present in the conversation. If you can’t be in the conversation, figure out how to get into the conversation. Contact us if you need help on the journey.
53 minutes | 2 months ago
Leadership and Supporting Employee Potential with Paul Green
Welcome to episode 93 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss Leadership and Supporting Employee Potential with Paul Green, Chief Development Officer of Angel MedFlight. Original Recording Date: 09-16-2020 Topics – Leadership and Supporting Employee Potential 02:12 – Meet Paul Green Paul Green is the Chief Development officer at Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance and was the CIO (Chief Information Officer) when he started with the company. Paul held the title of CIO at his previous company as well. He started in IT in 1998 as a kid thrust into a Network Administrator position at a public company. No one else there knew much about computers. The CFO was confident Paul knew more than other employees at the company. Paul shares a story about working as a night auditor while in college and setting up the new property management system for a fellow employee who struggled to get it right. Listen to the challenges of running Dell Optiplex hardware on Windows 98 from back in the day. Paul compares the difference in computer setup then vs. now. Coming through the ranks back then required real learning. Multiple iterations were required to get better. IT now is about software more than hardware (was previously more about hardware). There were few best practices back then and a lot of people just figuring things out on their own. This past experience allows Paul to think about things different than others. Instead of thinking outside the box, Paul didn’t realize there was a box in the first place. Paul did not start in IT to do things a certain way. He was doing his own thing and followed his father and grandfather’s examples of doing things right the first time. Something as simple as zip tying wires inside a server case mattered. Attention to the small details communicates to others that you are about the work you are doing. "The details are what really count in IT." – Paul Green The difference in having a nice application and having a really good application is the details. Take Instagram vs. Facebook for example. John mentions the idea of polish as an accumulation of many details. Think inside the box before you start thinking outside. Is this attention to detail Paul mentioned something managers appreciate today? It depends on the manager’s experience. Paul had a CFO who cared nothing about details (only completion) and contrasts with his current CFO who cares about every detail. It was more about how "clean" something was done, which lends itself well to paying attention to details. 11:44 – Management vs. Leadership Paul has seen the entire spectrum of management. If Paul is not willing to do something himself, he should never have to ask an employee to do it. He likes to work alongside his employees to accomplish goals while simultaneously helping support their growth. "It’s not my job to tell you how to do your job. It’s my job to help you figure out how to do it on your own." – Paul Green Paul likes to ask questions and use analogies to help employees think through a situation. It’s important to pay attention to how employees learn and understand things. Paul enjoys having lunch with employees to understand their personality, how they interact, and how they work. "I don’t have supervisors, and I don’t have managers. I only have leaders." Every single person with a staff is a leader whose job is to make the people below them better, which subsequently makes the leader better and the organization better. Paul references Start with Why by Simon Sinek as a great read. He started a book club inside the company, and they are currently reading Start with Why. The next book will be Talking to Strangers. Understand why you are doing something, and learn how to talk to the people for which you are doing it. IT leaders need to put together the right IT to accomplish the company’s mission. Understand operations within the company to associate the proper IT with the organization. Stop worrying about what a new tech product is. Find the one that fits the situation and goal the best. Tag lines, terms, and fancy acronyms don’t mean much. What gives my company’s goal the best chance to succeed? Nick references Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni and mentions many employees have trouble making the connection between what they do and the purpose of the company. Paul says giving someone a purpose helps them excel. When speaking of his current company, Paul says they don’t change the world. But, the people the company has helped might just change the world one day because of a second chance. Paul lets his employees know they don’t just do IT. Employees are the fundamental underlying reason why Angel MedFlight can do what it does…change people’s lives. Being better at the job helps people facing the patients be better at their job. We have to ensure people understand the role they play in these outcomes. This is a challenge in large organizations. We discuss VMware, Apple, Chick-Fil-A, In-N-Out Burger as examples of companies with very overwhelmingly positive morale and how this creates customer loyalty. John references Idiocracy and an example of a very unenthusiastic employee in a Costco in the movie. Enthusiasm for your organization is infectious. Paul wants to feel that when people from other organizations talk with him. How do leaders get people on board in a way that isn’t just saying the words? Don’t tell someone how to do something. Show them what a company means to you so others can be onboard. Paul tries to be relatable to others as much as possible and shares an interesting story about a discussion with the CFO about his influence on employees. Consistently showing employees that you aren’t going to lead them down the wrong path builds rapport and trust. Showing employees that anything is possible encourages them to think in a similar manner. For those just starting out in IT, say yes to what you’re asked to do unless there’s no way you can do it. Take time to learn how, and use proper resources. Be willing to do what it takes, and ask for more work. When you have spare time, asking a leader for something else to work on shows your dedication. This helps the leader put you in a position to get more work that is a greater challenge. Paul shares a great example of how he has done this for an existing employee and how it changed that person’s trajectory and increased self-esteem. John points out this is a stretch goal and that leaders can help make employees successful in getting to those goals. Paul says if something is a huge stretch, help prepare the employee for it in chunks. Give projects which allow the employee can succeed, and build on that. 33:16 – Detecting and Supporting Employee Potential Sometimes people surprise you. Paul has hired many people over the years. During the hiring process, Paul seeks to ask questions a certain way to determine if the employee is committed to their work and will give full effort. Some of the questions are outlandish. He asks real world questions to test the thought process. Paul is looking for thought process, attitude, mindset, and whether the person is a fit with the team more so than the educational background. A team is better than one person. Paul mentions Moneyball and its ties to the formation of a team. The highest draft pick may not make the team better. It’s about how you will integrate the new team member. Looking outside IT is fine. For help desk, find someone who can communicate, describe the thought process behind what they are doing, etc. Look at the role, and find the right fit for the role (i.e. skills fit vs. traditional background). Paul shares a great story about his lead developer (a Marine who was the lead mechanic on a helicopter and held a job deployed on a boat for a number of years). The environment in which this person worked was very different than those many in IT work in today. Putting together people from different background and different walks of life is almost like putting together a team of superheroes. Paul’s team is a unique group that really gels well together and has delivered some amazing outcomes. "The box doesn’t exist for my team." Nick mentions Range by David Epstein and how Paul’s team seem to fit into the premise that generalists triumph in a specialized world. Paul shares a great example of how a generalist would be best fit for a Security Specialist role and relates this to how the CIA makes their hires. Current leaders need to be setting up employees for long-term success. Someone once asked Paul why he wanted to train people to make them better for the company. This person was afraid this would make the employees so much better that they leave. Some people will leave and move on no matter what. Set people up for success. They may leave eventually, but you will get the best out of the employee while they are at your company. Otherwise, you may be settling for mediocre employees. A mediocre employee who improves is a positive impact on other employees and will infect the entire team. Helping people on the path to success will help you as a leader. One of Paul’s favorite things is watching people grow. Seeing the excitement when someone proves they can do what they never thought they could is extremely empowering. Contact us if you need help on the journey.
35 minutes | 3 months ago
Reddit Question Roundup – 2020 Week 37
Welcome to episode 92 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss some Reddit threads from the IT Career Questions forum. Original Recording Date: 09-11-2020 Topics – Popular IT Career Questions from Reddit 1:05 – We’re Testing A New Format! We’re trying a new format this week. It’s a round up of career advice threads from the Reddit forum IT Career Questions. We’ll be taking some of the top posts from the past week and will give a brief synopsis of the threads, categorize the post, and share our reactions. 1:47 – Keep not getting entry level jobs due to "lack of experience" Synopsis The poster claims little to no experience and that he / she keeps getting turned down in interviews due to lack of experience. They have an A+ certification, 6 months of IT experience, and want to change the experience. Categories Resume writing Interviewing Reactions Nick points out that commenters on this thread draw out the fact that the poster had an internship in addition to their 6 months experience. This speaks to the fact that we need to be mindful of what can be used as experience when writing a resume and interviewing. For example, a home lab is experience you can use! Listen to this episode with Cody de Arkland’s tips for leveraging experience with home labs on your resume / in an interview. John says we need to ensure we talk about everything that is relevant. Go into the interview with some goals (solid idea of what you have accomplished, how you measured it, make sure you are able to work in main talking points, etc.). The resume is an attention getter. It is a springboard for further dialogue in an interview to give more detail. 5:35 – Landed a job with no degree and experience Synopsis The poster landed an IT job without experience (only troubleshooting knowledge from home) and also without an IT related degree. They currently work as a junior engineer fixing computers and laptops. This poster was previously rejected for other jobs due to not meeting the requirements. John drops a reference to the Geek Squad. Nick shares a fun anecdote. Categories Encouragement Advice Reactions This post shows what someone did to achieve success and is sort of the opposite of the first post we mentioned. John harasses Nick for buying a new desktop PC. We’re truly happy for the poster. It’s nice to see someone achieving their goal after struggling. If all jobs require experience, how do you get hired with no experience? Building PCs as a hobby is practical experience that can be leveraged in these sort of situations. There are ways to get experience even if not in a professional experience. Many times hiring managers for entry level positions are looking for people who are enthusiastic and can acquire that knowledge. Nick mentions seeing Spiceworks Community posts from managers confirming the desire to find enthusiastic candidates. Nick references Switch by Chip and Dan Heath and the idea of finding the bright spots. Think about where you can go if you’re deep into PC hardware guts. The next level career probably won’t involve this, and the compensation has a ceiling. Progress into operating systems, networking, end user computing administrator. 13:56 – IT job that pays well, but does not offer a lot of good experience Synopsis The poster doesn’t feel like the work he / she does is valuable to get to the next level in the tech field (patching network cables and supporting customer computer / phone problems). They mention the pay is good but that they would rather be an expert in their field (seems stuck in "basic help desk", no chance to work on new technologies). Categories Stay here vs. go elsewhere based on career aspirations Career Advancement Reactions Nick sees working closely with end users as an opportunity to build soft skills that can help you market yourself. Perhaps this is an opportunity to automate the fix for repeating problems. John emphasizes interaction skills as a gateway to higher paying jobs. Maybe this situation is an opportunity to talk about long term career aspirations with your manager to get their support, influence the type of work you get to do, etc. Nick shares a story on this. 18:08 – How to transition from Tech support to DevOps or other technical roles? Synopsis The poster has worked in IT support for 3 years and wants to transition to Cloud / DevOps engineer. The person has no coding skills but some basic knowledge of software release processes. They are seeking advice on how to get started and how to handle job interviews about previous experience (have been very honest on resume but get no calls back). Categories Career Advancement Skills Gap – request for resources Resume writing Interviewing Reactions One of the best comments on this thread suggested a mindset shift in the metrics on which to focus when applying for a DevOps role (shift from tickets closed to SLOs and availability). Can you demonstrate you have made the mindset shift? It’s also important to understand what you’re asking for in this new role (i.e. understanding DevOps). Experience in the IT support side alone may not get you there. Check out one of the links provided in the highest rated comment on this post for a great roadmap – https://roadmap.sh/devops. Read the job description for anything entitled DevOps carefully. Approach with the mindset of the job you want instead of the job you have. John suggests reading up on the SRE (Site Reliability Engineer) role and adopting these same mindsets. This is a chance to get mentored by someone already doing the job you think you want. Try talking to your manager as well to get projects of interest. Go back and listen to Episode 45 on career conversations with your manager and Episode 13 on Tom Delicati’s job hunting approach that created a new role at the company who hired him. 25:09 – Just found out that I am the lowest paid employee at my mSP and I am very upset Synopsis The poster was hired at below asking salary at a small MSP and was the sole helpdesk person for a while, putting tons of effort into the job. After the company hiring a junior engineer to help with workload, the poster then found out the junior makes more money, which made him furious. The poster left and scheduled a meeting with the owners the next day to communicate the situation. It worked to land a raise! Categories Asking for a raise Anger Equitable pay Problem – resolution Reactions Figure out whether you are being compensated properly, and don’t wait for a situation like this to ask for more money! Putting in sweat equity when not getting compensated in some way doesn’t make sense long term. Discuss what you have been doing vs. requirements with management. Consistently going above and beyond requires some compensation (money). Maybe we should be asking about annual performance / compensation reviews during the interview process. John references a really interesting comment from the thread that shifts the issue from "I’m not being paid as much as a junior person" to "I’m not being compensated properly for the amount of work and quality of output." It’s uncomfortable to talk about compensation and something we do not practice. Nick shares a story about a new boss asking about compensation after Nick changed teams within the company. We seemed to skew toward early career here, but it was an interesting experiment. Let us know what you think! This is proof that many others are wondering the same things you are. Ask. Contact us if you need help on the journey.
39 minutes | 3 months ago
Career Stress and the Healthy Mind Platter
Welcome to episode 91 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss the concepts of Dan Siegel’s Healthy Mind Platter when managing career stress. Original Recording Date: 08-28-2020 Topics – Dan Siegel’s Healthy Mind Platter 1:00 – Setting the Stage Found an article validating stress in IT workers via Spiceworks Get involved with a community! Stress, burnout and redundancy: Tough times in IT No time to switch off Worry of losing job or contract during pandemic Fewer outlets to unload stress / get a break Boundaries around remote work Half of employers don’t provide formal support for mental health issues, and one in seven tech professionals describe their employer as unsupportive on mental health issues. The article tracked John and Nick’s experience with the current work environment. Not every company had the capability of providing universal work-from-home Even if you had the capability, it might not have been while every other person was at home working or remote schooling John forgot that other companies might have issued desktops in-office Nick has heard about people “living” at their data centers to properly support their applications and customers 7:01 – Healthy Mind Platter Introduction Seven daily essential mental activities to optimize brain matter and create well-being Optimize the performance of the brain Mindful Awareness Research Center John noticed that it was created in collaboration with David Rock who authored books we’ve mentioned before, Your Brain At Work and Coaching With The Brain In Mind 8:54 Focus Time When we closely focus on tasks in a goal-oriented way, we take on challenges that make deep connections in the brain Flow state We probably all do this every day Also includes active listening or doing presentations Nick shuts down email to help get there 10:48 Play Time When we allow ourselves to be spontaneous or creative, playfully enjoying novel experiences, we help make new connections in the brain John thinks this includes doing interesting work-adjacent projects which you really enjoy Nick regards the podcast as play time 12:07 Connecting Time When we connect with other people, ideally in person, and when we take time to appreciate our connection to the natural world around us, we activate and reinforce the brain’s relational circuitry It’s a tough time to do this during COVID-19 Video calls aren’t the same John’s heard that the fewer people on a video call, the closer to an in-person experience it is Nick especially likes this outside 14:18 Physical Time When we move our bodies, aerobically if medically possible, we strengthen the brain in many ways John’s experienced this with swing-dancing and cycling Nick’s experienced this with dance-aerobics, relieving tension and stress Nick was reminded of Brain Rules – John Medina: Physical activity can help solve problems and stimulate creativity 16:43 Time In When we quietly reflect internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings and thoughts, we help to better integrate the brain Oddly named; Maybe “Reflection Time” instead? Introspection on career progress Focusing on sensations and images, being present with yourself, as mentioned last episode as part of the Inner Game methodology 18:33 Down Time When we are non-focused, without any specific goal, and let our mind wander or simply relax, we help the brain recharge Unfocused is different “Give yourself some time to be bored” Gearing down 19:53 Sleep Time When we give the brain the rest it needs, we consolidate learning and recover from the experiences of the day The one we steal from the most We have an instinct that we can be more productive by just not sleeping 21:09 Reviewing the Framework It’s a representation of how a healthy mind might work, not a perfect model Activity: make a guess about how much time you’re spending in each state to see if you’re missing time in a specific state Inner Game Method: Just the act of observing in a non-judgemental way can lead us to naturally correct things 24:50 – Dear SpiceRex – Too Little Too Late– A scenario review Synopsis Employee not told about a project until execution begins (short timeline) Lots of stress Could not get server working at first once after a reimage Went to manager, and manager took pressure off – "no one died" Admin able to solve the problem without the stress on top Was this a good / bad manager? If there’s a change management process, it should include reviewing testing procedures. Why even have an approval process? It didn’t work. Was risk communicated? Was there a rollback plan? The person doing the work should be involved in the plan and testing Career tip: De-risking a process can help you take the next step What went wrong The question asker should have called out the risk We shouldn’t do it Here’s the process we should use The failure should have been called out immediately What went right The supervisor did the right thing by having a mitigation process and taking the process The supervisor should have communicated the approval with enough time to test With the short time frame, it’s much more difficult to push back; There weren’t designed times to examine things for a no-go decision Did the boss resetting the stress level help with the solution? Inner Game model: Self 1 causes the stress with speculating about consequences “I had a different mindset” Stop tool Trying on a new attitude Community again – connecting time! Contact us if you need help on the journey.
43 minutes | 3 months ago
Book Discussion: The Inner Game of Stress by Gallwey, Hanzelik, and Horton
Welcome to episode 90 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss our review of The Inner Game of Stress. Original Recording Date: 08-21-2020 Topics – The Inner Game of Stress by Tim Gallwey, Edd Hanzelik, and John Horton 0:58 – Setting the Stage DM us on Twitter if you want a free copy of the book on Audible! John liked the Kindle version in addition to just the audio version so he could see pictures, etc. Nick did audio only and took notes from time to time. This started from a podcast John listened to called Against the Rules with Michael Lewis. Season 1 is about referees, and season 2 is about coaching. There was an episode about the coach in your headhttps://atrpodcast.com/episodes/the-coach-in-your-head-s1!82597 he found intriguing. Michael Lewis is an author of some popular books that were made into movies like Moneyball and The Blind Side. On the show they mentioned another book called The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey. Tim Gallwey was a well known coach at the time of its writing. We found there were other books by Tim Gallwey and stumbled upon the one we’re discussing in this episode. With so many out there experiencing times of stress and burn out in our current world, we felt it would be appropriate to review the book on air. For Inner Game of Stress, Tim paired with two medical doctors (Edd Hanzelik and John Horton). These doctors sought Tim out and used a mixture of medicine and inner game techniques to help treat patients feeling the physical effects of stress. 7:29 – Overview of the Book Part 1 – The Game of Stress Why Stress This section discusses the physiological basis of stress, why it is necessary, the fight / flight / freeze reactions we can have, and what prolonged stress can do to the body. Two Selves Self 1 is the critical storyteller. Self 2 operates in the moment and leverages our natural abilities. Meet Your Stress Maker – Self 1 Learn how self 1 works, the stories it can tell you, etc. Gearing up and Gearing Down There were stories provided about the long-term effects of stress (gearing up) and the idea of gearing down (rest, recreation, reflection). 11:10 – Part 2 – Outsmarting Stress The Inner Game Learning Code Awareness This is a non-judgemental awareness of what reality is. The stories we tell ourselves are not always how things are. Awareness helps self 2 drive instead of self 1. Choice Conscious choice is important. Consider the why and reasoning behind choices and the intent rather than making them automatically. Trust Where will you place your trust? Will you trust that you have the tools to overcome your problems already without getting in your own way? Tree of Stability What brings you back away from the stress and allows self 2 to work? Build a Personal Shield This is a construct that describes the qualities / things that protect you from stress and push you toward stability. Be the CEO of Your Life Do we really act like we own all decisions we make? We are in control even though we do not feel that way at times. The analogies / constructs are very useful, but you are free to use your own analogies. 15:37 – Part 3 – The Inner Game Toolbox These are tools you can actively leverage to help deal with stress. Tool # 1 – STOP In the moment when you feel stressed, stop for a second (does not have to be a long period of time). Think about what it is that is stressful and what you want from the situation. Think about how you should actually proceed. John shares an example anecdote from the book. Tool # 2 – Being the CEO Tactically, if you define the mission of your life like a company, what would it be? What are your policies and values? What are your resources (inner and outer), and how are you going to use them? How many shares will you sell to others? Disclaimer – we did not say it before now, but the book is not a dry list of suggestions. It contains stories about anonymized real patients who had problems with stress and used these tools with coaching from one of the authors. Sometimes you need to buy the shares back that have been sold. Tool # 3- The Three Control Questions In self-reflection, consider these questions. What don’t I control? What am I currently trying to control? What could I control that I’m not presently controlling? Understand the things you are making active decisions about, unconscious decisions about, and what you could be making active decisions about. This really goes back to awareness. Tool # 4 – Trying on a New Attitude This one sounded similar to John’s mention of a clearness committee in Episode 85. Tell a group of people about your stress, and try to determine the attitude you have. Others suggest an attitude for you to try on, and you are required to try each one nonjudgementally. Choose the one that seems right / feels the best based on the situation. Facing the situation with a different attitude can really help, and it’s helpful to have others suggest those attitudes. In the moment, you can be blind to many things. Tool # 5 – The Magic Pen This is the idea of free writing the point where self 1 has run out of things to say and you get to what self 2 (or the non-judgemental observer) has to say. This reminded John of Free Writing popularized as morning pages in The Artist’s Way. Every morning, the creative should spend time writing without stopping. Fill three pages of content in a stream of consciousness exercise. The magic pen is more about a focus on getting into the mindfulness state rather than mentally clearing your throat by writing. Tool # 6 – Transpose Try to imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes and answer the following questions. What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What do you want? This is a great exercise to help you show empathy. It can also give some insight into another person’s perspective. If you assume the person does not have malicious intent, what could be going through their mind? Tool # 7 – Redefine Think about words used to define what is happening to you. Perhaps it can be defined in a different way to decrease stress. A process, policy, or rule in your life could be based on conditions that no longer exist. John shares a fun anecdote from the book. To Nick, this is similar to "that’s how we’ve always done it" and speaks to the value of fresh eyes. Tool # 8 – PLE Triangle PLE represents performance, learning, and enjoyment. All three are needed when making goals for yourself. Will that performance goal that allows learning and is enjoyable? If so, it is a recipe for success. 28:44 – Summary Discussion Is this a book that is worth reading to be better at handling stress? Nick says yes. He likes the stories as well as the tools. His favorite tool is the control questions. John thinks the book is useful. The analogies are powerful, but if they don’t happen to be something you click with, you could create your own analogies based on the same concept. His favorite tool was the STOP tool. Being aware that you are stressed in the moment is challenging. Having the power to engineer a way to pause takes effort. You will not be good at using the tools initially without practice. John didn’t feel like the book was selling a series of seminars (just the ideas in the book). Likely John and Nick will read some of the other books in the inner game series. Are there situations other than career in which this book is worth reading? John says yes. Keep in mind stress can come from work, personal life, extended family, friend group, or some other area. The source of stress is not important. Career burnout and stress are finally being talked about in our industry, but remember the lessons here are not just career related. Nick thinks the stories in the book allow you to see the ways stress effects people physically in different ways. He didn’t think about how degenerative that constant exposure to stress can be. Do we believe the lessons in the book? Nothing in the book is encouraging you to shy away from the stress. They encourage you to enter the stress on your own terms. The author addresses the idea of people believing if you are not stressed, something is wrong. John associates this with "macho" and "toxic masculinity." Nick mentioned the story about alpha males in animal observations being more susceptible to disease and the pack doing better without them. Don’t be that guy! Stress is needed if there is danger to keep you safe and keep you alert, but you don’t want it all the time. Pay attention to your physical reactions. Part of the philosophy of the inner game is being aware of what is happening without classifying things as good or bad. The tactics in part 3 of the book seem to assume using awareness to your advantage. Contact us if you need help on the journey.
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