First, I want to extend my heart-felt thanks to vDestination, Veeam, Nutanix, and TrainSignal for selecting me to go to VMworld 2013. It really is an honor to be going this year.
Being in pre-sales and doing consulting requires you to travel frequently. When I am on the road, I often listen to audio books and podcasts. Today, as I was driving to the office, I was listening to The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. In the book, Thomas talks about two different individuals, a girl that is just starting out her life full of dreams and an old woman at the end of her life full of memories. He then talks about how the young girl is very much like developed countries, they are full of dreamers and individuals that want to make the world a better place; individuals that believe that they have limitless opportunities. In countries that are under-developed, they typically are filled with people that are looking in the past at their memories and their past accomplishments. They spend so much time looking back, that is hard for them ever to turn their head and see what is ahead.
I thought about this a little, it really describes individuals in IT as well; as the people in our industry grow older, I find that several of them look back at their past and aren't always passionate about the future. The wick that provides the fuel for their dreams is growing short and the light is growing dim, they have become stuck in a rut. They don't dream about how far this amazing industry can take them. Instead, they reflect back on their career, both good times and bad, and clutch on to those memories. They are biding their time, waiting for the day that they can finally retire and move on with the next phase of their lives.
I admit, I fell into this category myself, after working for the same company for 22 years, my tree of inspiration that was full of green leaves in my 20's and 30's started to turn scarlet, orange, and yellow; and my leaves which represented my dreams of the future started to gracefully fall to the autumn grass.
I started at Paul Revere Insurance in August of 1990; I was fresh out of high school. My first position was sorting mail for the customer service department. I decided to delay college (it has been delayed for 23 years now) and my starting salary in August of 1990 was a generous $14,000.00 a year. That pretty much covered my car payment, car insurance, gas, and my weekend expenses (beer).
I walked around in my dress shirt, dress pants, and tie (corporate policy even for mail clerks) with my standard issued mail cart delivering correspondence to customer service representatives, managers, and executives.
The early 1990’s were an interesting time to be in corporate America. Individual contributors that were part of the day-to-day operations didn’t have cubicles, instead 6-foot high walls zoned off the department and all our desks were jammed together. There was no privacy, and even worse was the fact that smoking was allowed in the office. Every day I would come into the office and sit next to Liz and Holly; they were two pack a day chain smokers. My introduction to cloud computing was the cloud of cigarette smoke hovering over my dumb terminal. By the end of the day my eyes were watering and my cloths smelled like I had been at the Philip Morris convention.
This prompted me to seek other opportunities in the company. The first position I applied for was with the company help desk. Why you ask? The IT department had cubicles! Cubicles with FULL walls! It provided some level of privacy, nobody in the department smoked, and I was able to learn about computers. Score!
When I applied for our IT department’s help desk position, I had been with the company for 3 years, I relied heavily on my customer service background, and of course, I read Microsoft Windows for Dummies. Yeah! I had learned just enough about Microsoft Windows to land the job. Now I was making some real dough, $22,000.00 a year. I remember in those days, I was under the delusion that if I could make $25,000.00 dollars a year that I would be living the high-life. Oh how life has changed…
Thus began my exciting journey into infrastructure IT.
I remember how passionate I was in those days, I was the second person in our company to achieve his MCSE. I loved to play with new technology, attend conferences, dive through product documentation to learn how to make my job easier (I still have my IBM DOS 5.0 manual which was the batch scripting bible), and most of all play Half-Life on the network.
Before I left my previous employer, my team was the calcium in the backbone of the infrastructure. We were in charge of all facets of the virtual infrastructure. We worked on the building blocks for developing an internal private compute cloud. I wanted to call the cloud offering “Just another server on the network” or the J.A.S.O.N cloud for short, unfortunately, I was overruled.
But, it was time for me to move on, to rekindle my dreams and try to grow both personally and professionally. It has been an amazing year so far, through consulting I have meet some extraordinary people; new colleagues, customers and channel partners. I was nominated to be a VMware vExpert for 2013, and I was lucky enough to be selected by vDestination to win a trip to VMworld (I have never been and I am very excited!).
I am looking forward to mingling with old friends and new friends; and talking about the technology that keeps us passionate about IT. I plan to keep my head looking forward, and only glance back once in a while.