Category Archives: Career & Leadership

Ideas on leadership and career related items. Most of which will relate mostly to the IT industry, but I will keep it as general as possible

A Windows Guy Learns DevOps, part i

As a 14 year IT veteran it would be an understatement to say that I know how to stay on top of technology trends. In this industry it’s not just a ‘good’ thing to do, but a survival requirement. Lately I’ve been a little complacent about things like keeping up with my certifications and researching subjects outside of my job-related duties. On my climb out of the slump I seemed to get reignited with the spark that originally led me to this career at the age of 17. Due to personal and professional obligations I’m unable to stay up until 5AM every other day to tinker with new things, but I can still spend a little time learning new things off of the job.

I’ve decided to put some effort into learning this whole DevOps thing that’s all of the rage on job postings. I understand the concepts already, but I’ve never had to put them into practice. Some of my previous jobs have had me doing some heavy scripting, but never anything like what I’ve researched for DevOps. The concept of clicking a button (or sending a command) and creating a new service instance whenever code is updated is just so cool to me. Like most battle-hardened system admins/engineers I absolutely HATE doing the same task more than twice if I can execute it with a script.

I don’t have much in the way of spare equipment to setup a lab so I’m going to test everything in Virtualbox if possible. My first server will be the base image for a majority of my test servers. I’ll be using CentOS 7 minimal install ISO.

More to follow.

The results are in…

After months of searching (years in total really) I’ve finally figured out my problem with finding my passion. If you don’t know me then I’ll just say that I’ve struggled with finding myself for a long time now. I’ve taken a bunch of different personality and career matching tests with pretty much the same kind of results. I’m Introverted until I get to know you better. I am a good problem solver and leader (with compatible types as my subordinates); though I will never ‘choose’ to be a leader. It’s usually chosen for me by management. I enjoy challenges deep thought and tend to stay extremely focused on the challenge until it is complete.

But that’s where the results stop. What the tests don’t go into is the fact that once the challenge is complete and I feel that I’ve learned a lot about the given subject I get bored with it and want to move on. Looking at my job history I can see a pattern. I typically work really hard on some tough problems at most places before I start to get bored with it. And I mean really bored; like physically ill bored (and depressed afterward). I’ve been living my professional life for the past ten years just thinking that something was wrong with the jobs I was working; or even worse something was wrong with ME.

While watching a bunch of TED videos on Youtube.com I started writing a list of the things that I want to do; my passions if you will. Most speakers kept trying to encourage listeners to find THAT THING that would make them jump out of bed in the morning. I looked at my list and found that not a single one made me feel that way. I’m just not that passionate about anything. “Great!” I though. Not only do I not like what I do, but there is nothing that I’d like to make a new profession either. So what does a geek do when faced with a problem like this?

I googled. I searched “I have no passions…” in Google and came up with surprisingly less results than I thought that it would. One site stuck out in the results and I finally decided to follow one of the links: http://puttylike.com/terminology/

It was there that I discovered what I truly am. I am a Multipotentialite; aka Slasher; aka Scanner; aka Polymath. Basically…

A modern day Renaissance  Man. I have multiple things that I want to learn about, but not necessarily become a master in any of them. I don’t want to devote my life to becoming a specialist in something; I want to devote my life to learning about anything that interests me.

Emilie Wapnick is the creator of Puttylike and has brought together a community of non-specialists as well as written a ton of useful information. After reading a good bit of the site I decided to change my thought process. I tossed my list of ‘passions’ and started a list of what I’d like to learn more about:

– Photography
– Computer Programming
– Linux Operating System
– Wood Furniture Making
– Landscape Engineering
– Creative Writing
– Guitar (Learn to Play)
– Automotive Maintenance & Upgrading
– Plant & Tree Identification (I was never a boy scout)
– Physical Fitness (Explosive Power Specifically)
– Healthy Cooking (and not so healthy baking)
– Home Alcohol Production (Still want to make the drink of my ancestors; mead)
– Graphic Design

I fully expect this list to continue to grow, but for now this will do. The next step is to train myself that (job growth + job skills != happiness). The real equation I need to solve is (x + x.skill obtained == happiness). If you don’t algebra just know that ‘x’ represents the items in the list above.

Green-Red-Introvert

I did a lot of reading on personality types yesterday. I had originally based my ideas on the MBTI, and planned on following “What Color is Your Parachute.”. However, I found that the Q Color test described me the best. My results reflected that I am a:

Green/Red Introvert

So what does this mean exactly. From the reading that I have been doing I am an idea person that values people, honesty, creativity, fairness, and solidarity. All of this is true. I get aggravated when my intentions are questioned, and I take criticism personally even if it is not meant to be perceived that way.

All of this information began to make me think; am I in the right career? What can be done in my current position to make the job more in line with what I would like? I’ve come up with some ideas that I will try out. If they work I will definitely write them up in a post. If these things don’t work I have some ideas for possible career shifts.

What Color is My Parachute

I don’t really know yet. I do however, plan to find out.

http://www.amazon.com/What-Color-Your-Parachute-2013/dp/1607741474

What Color is Your Parachute is a book designed to help people find out what they really enjoy, and how to couple that with a career. This is a topic that I have been trying to figure out for a long time now. The problem is that as soon as I think I have a good lock on what type of career I would enjoy I tend to lose focus.

I hope this helps…

Sacrifice Yourself

I can’t help the rush I get whenever I read “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Charge_of_the_Light_Brigade_(poem)

Sometimes you know that you are outnumbered in a situation, and you are in the situation by no fault of your own. Surrounded on all sides by those that want you to fail. We’ve all been there at least once. So what do you do in the face of almost uncertain victory? Do you back down to allow the greater numbers to move in? Do you stand strong and attempt to hold off the onslaught until assistance comes (if it is coming)? Or do you recognize your fate, and decide to charge the opposition anyway?

It’s time to go down swinging. It’s time to charge those against me. And maybe, just maybe; my honorable actions will bestow respect for me among those that stand against my charge. Maybe they will move aside and not make me fight them. If I’m lucky; maybe the will join me on my charge.

From now on it’s no holds barred. I have wants for my family and myself. It’s time to take this career seriously.

Singletasking

A lot of people list multitasking as a skill that they posses. The professional world makes it almost necessary to work on multiple priorities at once. My thought on the value of this “skill” differs than my peers.

I believe that you can only effectively work on ONE task at a time…

Think of it this way. Let’s say that you can measure the focus of a person with a pitcher of water. In front of them is a row of empty glasses. Each glass has a fill line to represent task completion. The glasses are grouped by their collective project, and a small space is left between each grouping to signify a project focus switch (ie. “changing gears”). Once the pitcher is turned and water begins to pour it cannot be tilted back to stop the flow of water (you only have a certain amount of time in a day). Once the pitcher is empty the day is over and another pitcher will be given for the next day.

Singletasking vs Multitasking; let’s get it on!

The single task worker pours in the liquid to one glass at a time; making sure to hit the fill line before move to the next task. The next task is then completed and the pitcher is moved over the next task. This continues until the group of glasses in the “project” are filled. Keep in mind that no water has been spilled outside of a glass yet because of their groupings. This may have taken several pitchers of water depending on the glass sizes (“task timelines”). However, the only water that is spilled on the tabled is when the pitcher is moved to the next project. This spilled water is measured over the course of all of the projects and it is found that it can fill half of a water pitcher; or half of a day.

The multitask worker pours the liquid while continuously moving the pitcher around to different tasks and projects. Water is spilling onto the table during focus shifts. In the end it takes more water (“more time”) to fill all of the glasses due to the amount spilled (“focus changes”). The spilled water is measured and found that it can fill multiple pitchers; or multiple days of lost productivity!

Something to remember is that it is not always the fault of the person doing the pouring; sometimes it is the employer forcing the employees hand to move around and waste the productivity. This will have multiple consequences for the employee including; lower-moral, loss of sense of control, higher stress, loss of connection with work, etc.

So you think that you are one of the 2% that can multitask without spilling any water? Check out this link: http://mashable.com/2012/08/13/multitasking-infographic/

Money Problems

“It’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see.” – Biggie Smalls

It is believed by many that more money creates more problems. Yet almost all of us chase it down like there is no tomorrow. We overwork and neglect other priorities to make that extra bit in the next paycheck. Those of us that work salary are doomed to not know if more money will be made until the next performance review or surprise bonus check. A lot of the time the extra money doesn’t show up…

And then we begin to resent our current situation. So much hard work was put in to make that extra money and no reward is given. Our minds tend to “fill in the gaps” during these situations.

“This company doesn’t understand the work I do here.”
“My boss could care less about me our my team.”
“I can’t wait to see the look on his/her face when I quit this place.”

You may be thinking that I say, “well then quit! Take your skills and start your own business. Follow your passion and you will be happy!”

Well, that’s not what I am going to say at all. Quitting my job and following my passion would be great and all, but it just isn’t possible. Currently I simply CANNOT make the same kind of income with any of my passions. Could I develop a passion into a business that makes as much or more than I do at my current job? Sure; after many years of building and skills refining.

I (and most people) don’t have time for that.

So what can be done then? Should I just give up on my dream/passion and continue to work at a job that doesn’t understand me or what I do? My answer… Yes and No. Give up on your passion development (temporarily) and work on a few things at the office.

1) Realize that the company does not exist to keep you employed and/or happy. The company exists to make money. It’s as simple as that. Regardless of what is EVER said in any meeting in the end of it all the board DOES NOT CARE about you. They may even believe that they care, until something is done to mess with profits. Then the responsible party is in trouble. Big trouble.

2) Stop putting in extra effort where it isn’t needed. I am a strong believer in ENERGY management instead of TIME management. If working on a project for 2 extra hours is going to zap your remaining energy and only “get you ahead” slightly don’t do it. Go home. Enjoy time with family. Or spend those 2 hours on a hobby. You will enjoy those 2 hours versus the other option.

3) Find a way to enjoy the things that bother you about your current situation. For instance, I drive about an hour each way for work. I use this time as a release with inspirational music or podcasts.

I believe that money isn’t the problem. More money does not create more problems, but what it takes to make more money usually does create problems.

SO STOP WORKING SO HARD!