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Two Of The Mentors Who Helped Me

Are you new here?

Yeah, I just started last week. 

My name’s Sal, I’m the Director of Support.

My name’s Rodney. I came here from WordPerfect.

Oh, you’re the one.

This was the start of many conversations that Sal and I would have over the years. This conversation started in an elevator and before we reached the lobby Sam had invited me to a soccer game.

Here’s a bit of career advice. If you are new in a company and a senior executive invites you to go to a sporting event. . .say yes. Sal asked me a lot about WordPerfect. But he also told me a lot about Microsoft. He was a mentor. 

I have no idea why he offered to help me advance my career. Probably because he’s just a really nice guy. I went to him one day as I was preparing to travel to Bogata Colombia for the first time. At the time, the rebels held more than half the country, they financed their rebellion partly by capturing American businessmen and holding them for ransom.

Sal had travelled to Colombia a few months earlier.

So, we’re you nervous while in Colombia.

a little. They announced that I was coming to speak at a group in the city. I told my security detail that I didn’t want them to tell me what security measures they put in place. 

You ou didn’t want to know?

No. I assumed they were good at their jobs. Knowing the various threats they were prepared for would only make me more nervous.

I didn’t have a security detail. I had a driver who didn’t speak English and my Spanish was horrible. But, they also didn’t advertise my coming. 

Hey, Sal, you know that the U.S. Government won’t negotiate with terrorists. If I get captured will Microsoft pay my ransom?

. . .Don’t get captured.

Sal is now an Angel investor. We still keep in contact, and he still offers me advice. . .although nothing as valuable as “Don’t get captured.”

Kent is a VP where I work. He’s over the client that I work with. We joined the company around the same time. Several times he’s helped steer me through some of the intricacies of our corporate culture. Several months ago we were launching a new line of business. As the time for our first call approached, we realized that our system was not configured correctly. That’s my job to notice.

I started working the phones and emails. We had sixty agents waiting on me. I went into what I call “tank driving” mode. I figured out the shortest path to getting the system fixed and then I pushed hard for it. In the process I ruffled some feathers. Some of the ruffled feathers emailed my manager. To his credit, he realized the importance of getting the launch going and understood my actions. 

But I was talking the experience with Kent and one of our directors.

Should I have pulled back some?

No. If it happens again, do the same thing. Kent and I will back you. 

Sometimes it really is who you know. Mentors can make all the difference. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren

Follow him on
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Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss) 
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

You Mean That Fishing Analogy Isn’t Even About Fishing?

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and ou feed him for a lifetime.
– 12th Century Spanish philosopher Maimonidas

I love fishing. My dad taught me that any time spent fishing doesn’t count against your alloted time in life. 

  
But, I don’t think Maimonidas was talking about fish. 

Business requires all of us to both cooperate and compete constantly. I’m in competition with my competitors, of course. But, as a project manager, I’m in competition with my other PMs. There are never enough engineering resources to fully support all the projects that IT dreams up. It’s not unusual for PMs to loan resources like you might loan a tool. 

Russell, I need Jet on my call at 2:00 tomorrow, but he’s already committed to be on your call. Can I have him for that hour?

Okay, but only this week. I’ll need Telecom resources starting next week. 

Agreed.

Today, I want to talk abot the other side of competition. 

Have you ever had someone take an interest in you or your career? Someone like a senior manager? Someone who wasn’t in your chain of command, they just wanted to share some of their experience? 

I’ve worked for companies that had formal mentor programs and I’ve worked for many more that didn’t. Microsoft had a formal mentoring program. Applicants were matched with mentors who would meet with us once a week or so and help us by answering questions, or sharing ideas. 

It was a less than fulfilling experience, and I’m not sure why. I don’t even remember my mentor. I do remember that I was in the middle of the mentoring program when my manager’s manager decided to fire me. My mentor didn’t do much to help me foresee or head off that unpleasant event. 

I think the problem was that the mentor/mentee relationship was forced. I think to be truly effective, a mentor relationship has to be somewhat selfish on the part of both the mentor and the mentee. The mentor has to care about the person they are mentoring. It takes time and energy to mentor someone. If you don’t have, or develop a personal friendship with the person you are working with, it becomes an hour long classroom lecture. 

The mentee needs to be selfish too. They are want to see their career advance. They want to get a better review. They want to know how to climb the corprorate ladder from someone who’s already been there. But, like any dynamic relationship there needs to be a give and take. The mentee is going to bring youth and enthusiasm to the relationship. They also may bring contacts in other departments. 

Microsoft insisted that mentors/mentees not come from the same teams, or even departments. Everyone involves get some cross pollination. And while you may like your boss, and she might be a fantastic resource, she will be a terrible mentor. . .for you. A manager needs to be able to hold you accountable for tasks and reprimand you if they don’t get accomplished in a timely manner. 

That action is completely at odds with the mentor role. The mentor is designed to help you learn from mistakes and figure out what happened and how to keep it from happening again. You want a mentor who is 100% on your side. A manager, by her very nature, cannot be that person. 

A mentor can even be from a different company. Of course, it can’t be someoen from a direct competitor, but the IT world changes so often, that it’s very likely you will have contacts at multiple companies. A mentor at another company can be a great asset. Of course, you will have to be more careful in what you share. Mentor relationships should never trump company confidentiality. 

Mentors can help you in multiple ways. They can help you to

  • Learn vital industry skills
  • Introduce you to industry leaders and collegues
  • Offer advice on problems
  • Provide direction on career choices
  • Simply be someone to ask questions of

Metors can be a great asset to you and your career. However, you have to ask. A formal mentor/mentee relatioship doesn’t happen by accident. You need to pursue it as you would a job or promotion. Do your research. Identify the type of person you would like for your mentor, and then formally ask them. 

They can help your career in ways that might take years otherwise. 

To return to the fish for just a moment, my friend Howard interjected his own humorous take on Mainonidas’ quote into his Schlock Mercenary comic.

Maxim 21. Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Take his fish away and tell him he’s lucky just to be alive, and he’ll figure out how to catch another one for you to take tomorrow.
Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
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Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss) 
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

Interns: Because No One Starts Out An Expert

But, what would you DO with them, Rodney?

Trust me, I’ll keep them busy.

I love interns. I worked for a company one time, that had an intern policy, but my particular department never used them. Why would you want to? They know very little about the real world, and most of what they think they know came out of a textbook and is probably wrong. At least wrong for your particular industry. And to top it off, they are often young and headstrong and don’t always take direction well.

Who wants to sign up for that kind of grief?

I do. 

I like interns for three reasons. 

They Learn
Interns are like sponges. Our most successful interns game to us between their Junior and Senior year of college. It really didn’t matter what their major was, so long as it was close to IT. They could be Computer Science, Information Technology, or even Engineering majors. 

Interns typically approach business the same way they approach school. They require clear insturtions and they expect to have to learn how to do what you want them to do. And they expect to be graded when they get done. My manager assumed that all you could trust an intern with was making copies, or taking notes in a meeting. It’s part of the reason he didn’t like interns. 

I gave them projects. Granted, I had to scope the project very carefully. Jason was a Computer Science major. I had him writing custom reports out of our Exchange email system. He wrote a simple interface and created a dashboard to show us how the system was doing in near real time. He didn’t know anything about Exchange when he started, but he knew how to find out. 

And rather than hanging on their manager’s every word for instructions, interns know how to go find answers. In fact, they expect to have to go find answers on their own. 

They Don’t Know How It’s Supposed To Be Done

Experienced engineers are a critical piece of any successful project. But, the issue with experienced engineers, especially if you work for a consservative company is that engineers know how things are supposed to get done. And the more senior the engineer, the more likely they are to support the department methodolgy. There is nothing wrong with a well understood and documented methodology, of course. A playbook is as important to an engineering team as it is to a sports team. 

But, a playbook can be a limiting factor as well. It’s hard to go outside the playbook. Corporations do not reward you for thinking outside the box. I worked for a corporation one time where we backup customer data constantly. The percentage of custoemr data we backed up in real time was typically spelled out in the contract. Ten percent backed up in real time? Fifty percent? One hundred percent? There were costs associated with each percentage. We had one customer that didn’t require us to put the percentage in the contract, although we understood they wanted 100% recording; the most expensive. Our engineering teams didn’t have a process for recording customer data without a contract. 

From a business standpoint, what we didn’t commit to we couldn’t be penalized for. It took a letter from the vice president over their department to convince them to record the data without a contract. Engineers are like that.

Interns aren’t. Interns don’t have the experience of full engineers, but they also come without preconceived limitations. That can be refreshing at times. If you can contain it. 

They Have Passion

But, by far the most rewarding aspect of working with interns is that they have passion. We interviewed dozens of applicants for a single intern position. We sifted through hundreds of resumes. The person we got as our intern really, really wanted to work for us. We were often competing with other companies for the same select group of candidates. It renewed my enthusiasm for work just watching them attack their tasks. 

Microsoft was one of the most competive places I ever worked. In the 1990’s we knew we were some of the very best in the world at what we did. Interns were treated like gold. Their passion and drive was important for their current projects, but more importantly, they were viewed as the future of the company. At the end of each summer, the interns got to have dinner at Bill Gates’ house. They were viewed as the next generations and to be cultivated.

They were not a replacement for engineers or program managers or fulltime writers. But, they didn’t have to be. Given an entire team of interns, I would have failed terribly. Your team has to have the fulltime employees who get the lion’s share of the work done. 

But, one or two highly motivated, interns added a dimension that helped make some of my good teams great. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Book Review: Customer Experience Management

  
This book was literally the least expensive Marketing book I ever received. They were giving them away at work. It’s even autographed. At least I think it is, the signature doesn’t look a lot like the name of the author, Bernd H. Schmitt. 

  
I came to the book with pretty low expectations. I mean, if it was free, then all I’m investing is my time, right? 

I certainly got my money’s worth out of the book. It was worth the read. And I’m not just saying that because it was free. 

The author lays out a five part Customer Experience Management (CEM) framework. 

  1. Analyzing the experiential world of the customer
  2. Building the experiential platform
  3. Designing the brand experience
  4. Structuring the customer interface
  5. Engaging in continuous innovation

CEM is more than simply marketing to your perspective customers. Schmitt explains that it’s about adopting a customer experience-focused approach to marketing and management. 

CEM is a new paradigm that represents a radical break from the old marketing and management approaches. It offers analytical and creative insight into the customer’s world, strategic tools for shaping that world, and implementation tools that companies can use to increase customer value.

And, in my mind that was part of the problem. People have been selling stuff to each other since the first monkey climbed out of the trees and set up a roadside banana stand, or since the snake sold Eve on the benefits of forbidden fruit, depending on your particular theology. 

I’m always suspicious when someone designs something radical or new or tries to tell me that everything that’s known about a subject is wrong. At times “Customer Experience Management” comes across just a bit too strong on the radical meter. 

Still, for anyone interested in marketing, it offers a unique perspective on both how to connect with customers and more importantly, the need to connect with customers in a way that is customer-centric.

What I Liked

Schmitt understands the subject intimately. He brings years of real world experience, with concrete examples from some of the biggest companies in business. Whether you completely adopt the CEM framework, his examples of troubled companies and what he did to help turn them around is very valuable. And if you do attempt to adopt the CEM framework and fail to create it completely, you will still understand your customers better and that’s a very good thing. 

Schmitt’s writing style is also very engaging. For the middle portions of the book, where he’s laying out the details of the CEM Framework, his prose flows easily and I enjoyed it very much. 

What I Didn’t

It’s the beginning and the ending where his style becomes grating. Chapter 1 “Taking the Customer Seriously — Finally” not only explains why it’s important to pay attentiont to your customers, it also devotes several pages to “Three Misguided Approaches: The Marketing Concept, Customer Satisfication and CRM.” Schmitt seems to feel the need to destroy any belief in existing marketing frameworks before laying out his unique framework. It comes across like a class on the works of Picasso that spends the first class period explain how terrible Rembrant and Delocroix were. I kept hearing that line from Macbeth, “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.” 

The production value was also disappointing. The book has several photographs to illustrate various advertising and marketing campaigns. The picture quality was terrible. It was especially surprising given the over high production value of the rest of the book. 

  
The photos might be courtesy of JetBlue, but I’m guessing they looked a lot better when JetBlue first provided them. 

As a writer, you never want to remind the reader that they are reading a book. You want to suck them into your narrative and let them forget that it’s just words on a page. Schmitt’s prose was good enough to do that most of the time, but every time he introduced a photgraph, I was startled out of the narrative. Some of these photos were of professional ad materials. But, no one would be tempted to buy Nike shoes, or fly on JetBlue airlines based on these poor quality reproductions. 
What It Means To You

If you are in marketing and constantly attempting to expand your vision, “Customer Experience Management” can certainly give you a fresh perspective on many of the underlying needs that mareketers and advertisers need to address. At 229 pages, it’s not going to be too much of a time commitment. However, if you are looking at how to jump start your company’s marketing efforts, you’d be better served going with an author who doesn’t think that modern marketing is misguided. 

Rating

2 stars out of 5

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
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Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss) 
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

Halftime Adjustments For The Second Half of Life

What do you do when your opponent’s win probability is 96.5%? Super Bowl XLIX (that’s 49 in case your roman number math is rusty) was played on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. It pitted the New England Patriots against the defending champion Seattle Seahawks. (Who happen to also be the team I’ve supported since I was a kid growing up in Olympia, WA.)

At the start of the 4th quarter, the Seahawks held a 24-14 lead. No team in the 49 year history of the game had ever overcome a double digit lead in the second half. The odds that the Seahawks were going to win was 96.5%.

  
(Pro-football-reference.com)

If you are a sports fan, you know how it ended. With a brilliant Patriots comeback and the worst play calling in the history of the Super Bowl by the Seattle coach. 

Second half comebacks are the stuff of legend. It’s the stuff of movies and aging athletes’ stories. 

What’s it have to do with you, me and business? 

I turned 50 last year. If you consider that I started my career at WordPerfect in 1989 (Back Where It All Began), at age 24 and I will probably work until I’m in my 70’s, 50 is the middle. (Don’t get tripped up on the math. I realize I’m past halfway, but just go with it.) 

I’m not saying that my first half was terrible. In fact, I’m pretty pleased with how the first half has gone. There have been some disappointments, certainly. My il-fated sidetrip to the mid-west comes to mind. But, there have also been some really, really good days. I got to work for Microsoft during a time of incredible growth in the computer industry. I got to travel. I got to write books and teach classes. 

But, I’m now looking at the second half and trying to decide “Where do we go from here?”

It’s a question that any of us can ask, and not just when you turn 50. College graduation is a halftime moment. You are leaving school and starting a career, typically. My friend Howard reached a halftime moment while at Novell and turned the second half into a cartooning career. 

In fact, every moment can be halftime. All we need to do is decide that we are going to make a change. 

As I look forward to the second half of my career, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it should look like. What do I want to be when I grow up? What activities give me joy and excitement and which ones do I dread? What have I shown that I can be good at? 

Some of the things that are ahead for me, or at least that I want to make part of the second half are:

  • More education: School was always a means to an end for me. But, I love learning. I want to spend more time just learning new stuff because it’s interesting.
  • More writing: I appreciate all of you who follow this blog. I’ll keep writing it, but I also want to write novels, screenplays, songs and comedy.
  • More reading: Reading can take you anywhere in this world or beyond. I love to read and need to make more time for it.
  • More work: Sounds weird, I know. But, I still have things I want to accomplish in my career. I want to teach, I want to be in a position to share waht I know, or think I know about business. I also want to be influential in my company and industry. I really like the idea of a Chief Data Officer. 
  • More play: My kids are growing up, but the ones at home are still young enough to enjoy camping, basketball, bike rides and just hanging out with dad. And as they get older, my grandkids will be around.  

Remember that setting yoru game plan, doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. It simply means you’ve started on a journey in a particular direction. Regardless of your point in life, tomorrow is always the start of second half. Whether you are going into the second half tied, up big, or down by 10, you have the ability to make adjustments. Be your own coach and make your second half even better than the first. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss) 
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss) 
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

How I Wrecked By Making A Hard Left Turn At 40

It seemed like a good idea at the time. 

My career had been exclusively in the IT world for a couple of decades. I cut my teeth at WordPerfect learning how to value customers. I moved on to Microsoft and made a ton a money. I’d traveled the world, written books and enjoyed years of success as an IT professional. But, my last couple of jobs had a disappointing ending, and I felt I was ready for something new. 
I had a chance to move from the western half of the US where I’d spent my entire life bouncing between Utah and Washington, to the Midwest where I knew no one and had no experience. 

And it’s not like the money was that good. My new gig, partnering in a rafting business in Wisconsin paid half of what I’d made in IT. Well, it was supposed to pay half, but I’ll get to that. Like many people, especially men, who hit their 40’s, I was having a bit of an identity crisis. Not that I was unsure who I was, but I was unsure what I wanted to be when I grew up. The rafting job seemed to have many positives. My kids would get to grow up in a rural environment. We were in the Great North Woods. Our house was on 7 acres and we were just a couple miles from the river where the rafting would happen. I would have the opportunity to give up a cubicle and get outside. I’d still get to work with people. In fact, I’d be working with more people than any of my previous jobs. 

It was perfect.

Of course, it wasn’t perfect. 

The salary was low to start with and then my “partner” announced that it was 1/3 lower than we’d agreed on. The house he’d pressured me to buy had no furnace. We got the sellers to put in a new furnace, but we needed to put in an oil tank and fill it. That would cost thousands of dollars that we didn’t have, and with the low salary wouldn’t have. The Great North Woods are filled with ticks in the Spring and Early Summer and frigid cold snow through the winter. But, worst of all, my “partner” wasn’t really a partner at all. It turned out he was a liar and a crook. And the job collapsed after just 23 days. 

My left turn at 40 had crashed my career, my finances and my mental health. 

It took me years to recover. And like many people who go through traumatic experiences, I don’t know that I’ll ever fully recover. I’m more cautious. I’m less tolerant of risk. On the positive side, I’m stronger. I understand exactly what’s important. I got out of debt during the recovery, and financially, I’m stronger than before my foray into Northern Wisconsin. 

Compare my experience to a friend of mine that also made a left turn out of IT. 

  
((C) Howard Tayler and Hypernode Press)

I’ve written about Howard Tayler, and his award winning web comic, Schlock Mercenary, before. Howard was manager at Novell, a large computer company. In fact, Howard and I met when we were both working at WordPerfect corporation. Howard was, by all accounts a successful manager. He was in charge of development of Novell GroupWise, an email program with an extremely loyal user base. He had a secure position in a company known for layoffs. But, at one point he took that left turn out of IT and never looked back. 

Howard approached his career change differently than I had. He launched Schlock Mercenary in June of 2000. But, at the time he started drawing his web comic as a hobby, he already had visions of turning it into a career. 

It was actually before I launched. I had decided in April or May of 2000 that I wanted to head in this direction.”

I wandered away from the computer industry, Howard sprinted away in 2004. 

I definitely left the tech industry. Middle-management work was killing me by degrees, and while I honestly loved the things that my team and I were making, I couldn’t keep pouring myself into that job. . .cartooning was definitely something I embraced. That move in 2004 was a leap from something I was starting to earnestly hate to something I desperately loved. 

Howard also laid the groundwork for his success. He spent four years getting himself, his family and his finances in a position to make the leap. There are still no guarantees. Every new adventure had the risk of failure built into it. My worst fears were realized when I found myself unemployed, in debt and stuck in a house in a part of the country where I couldn’t put my marketable skills to work. And it’s so fears that often keep us from making a change. We might hate our jobs, as Howard did, but still be scared to immobility by the fear that losing our income will ruin us. Howard also had this fear. His biggest fear in 2004 about making the left turn was 

Poverty, hunger, and crawling back into the tech industry begging for a job. 

And here’s the irony in our two situations, what Howard feared, I longed for. I love working in the tech industry. My most enjoyable jobs have been in middle-management. I truly enjoy the industry and the ability to work with a team to create software solutions. 

Should you make a change? Have you thought about it? Have you thought, “I really hate what I’m doing, and I’d love to be able to do this other thing,”? It would be a lot easier to make the move if we knew the outcome before we started. But, I guess that’s part of the process too. Like playing a rugby match, if you knew the winner before you started, you’d still play. It’s not about which team comes out ahead in the end. It’s about the process of getting from here to there and the how many times you are going to get knocked down and get back up again. 

I asked Howard what the best and worst parts of working for himself are. 

Best? I can plan things so that I only do what I love. I only tackle projects that interest me.

Worst? My plans don’t always work out. Sometimes I have to do crappy stuff I don’t like, and in this organization there really isn’t anybody for me to delegate those things to.

I don’t know if I’ll have the courage to make another left turn at 50 or 55 or 60. But, if I do, I know a couple of things. 

  • The worst thing may be having to return to IT, and that’s not terrible for me
  • I need to take advice from Howard and start planning my turn well before I get to it
  • I can survive
  • There are people who’ve done it and done it well. I can too

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss) 
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss) 
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

My Kids Think Graduation Is The End. . .I Don’t Have The Heart To Tell Them The Truth

I was set. I’d found, if not my dream job, at least the last job I thought I’d ever have. I went to work for a large non-profit in Utah. It was a good job, a great company, wonderful coworkers. And they had a pension. 1.5% per year worked. So, if I put in 20 years, I’d retire with 30% of my generous salary. 

Yep, I was set. 

And then they announced layoffs. 

If you are in the IT industry you will switch jobs, possibly a lot. It’s one of the truths that everyone knows. It’s why we in the tech sector have so many certifications. Well, indirectly. The technology changes so quickly that we needed a way to show a prospective employer that you have a basic understanding of your area of expertise. 

Plus, engineers don’t get out much. It’s fun to go to training for a week in an exciting location like Vegas or Detroit. (Maybe one more than the other.) 

So, the layoffs hit and I should have been fine, right? I was an IT professional with published works, a history of success at multiple companies, and I was in a tech rich part of the country. 

I spent 13 months looking for work. 

So, what happened? 

I let my certificates slip. I was at that non-profit for about five years. Long enough for world of technology to turn over at least twice. I was on the wrong side of 40 and the only certifications I had were at least 5 and more like 10 years old. At first, I was in denial. Sure, the search was taking longer than I thought it should, but it would turn out okay. And then the weeks turned into months. 

Eventually, I had to face the fact that the “me” that I was presenting online wasn’t good enough. I needed to upgrade my image. I was a project manager, so the Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification was a natural one to pursue. 

I got my PMP in January, I got a job offer as a project manager in March. 

I’m not making the same mistake twice. In the past year I’ve completed 

  • CompTIA A+ – A computer hardware certification
  • CompTia Network+ – A computer networking certification, not surprisingly
  • ToastMasters Competant Communicator Silver – An award for giving speeches

  
I’m currently working on CompTia Security+, an information security certification, and Toastmaster’s Competent Communicator Gold.. I also have on my list to be a certified trainer for Influencer, a business course on gaining and using influence. I also intend to get Certified Scrum Master, a certification for Agile program development, and Six Sigma Black Belt, a process improvement certification. 

And it will continue. Ironically, when I took the PMP course, I didn’t really learn that much. I learned some vocabulary, but I already understood how to be a project manager. But, none of that knowledge is important if I can’t get into an interview to demonstrate it. 

I see the same thing happening with smart people in my life. My mother went back to school twice as an adult. Once to become a CPA and later to become a Licensed Financial Planner. Bill Gates was famous for taking a month off to go learn some new thing about biology, or third world diseases, or something. 

The school year is coming to an end. My kids are excited to be “done.” They don’t really understand that you are never done. 

I like my  job. I really do. But, it’s a computer job, meaning that the job or I am going to change at some point. Learning is a lifelong pursuit. 

What are you working on? 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss) 
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss) 
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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