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EP007: Jeff Bowdin – Director, Dad of Daughters, and Dynamo of the 80%.

In episode 007 of the Angle Free IT podcast, I sat down to get a lesson in priorities and reality from IT Director Jeff Bowden. Jeff is very saged with his experience in technology and we met online in a few forums in which we both help people out with career questions.  We talked about a lot of things, but my highlights were diversity and inclusion, Prioritization and the 80% rule that Jeff runs his shop with. I know that I am better for having met Jeff and having gained some of his wisdom, and I am sure you will be too.

00:00 Intro

03:00 Cyclical nature in computing.

07:00 How remote skills are key.

10:00 Degree vs No Degree thoughts.

13:00 Skills Jeff sees as declining and losing their relevance.

22:00 Customer Service is what we end up doing.

29:00 Interview skills for noobs.

31:00 how to clarify your priorities.

38:00 Branching out to determine who the important people in the company are – get outside of technology (mention workplace poker).

40:30 Who some of the most important people in the company are – it’s not who you think it is.

43:30 How Jeff finds mentorship.

47:00 Pivoting and making the jump with both feet.

50:30 The 80% rule explained. Balance and Prioiritzation.

53:00 Jeff gives Preston an unexpected huge compliment.

That cool website Jeff Mentioned is HERE.

EP006: UX Design with disruptor and trainer Tiffany Eaton – Why does UX even matter?

Sometimes, actually – let me rephrase that, a lot of times I know I want to talk to a guest but I have no idea what I’ll gain from them – a lot like UX.  What is UX?  User Experience within a piece of software.  It’s something companies spend A LOT of time on, or don’t – and then fail.  In this episode, we are lucky enough to snag a few cycles of brain time with Tiffany Eaton, UX designer, Medium Author, and upcoming grad/disruptor in the UX field.  Tiffany tells us what the main challenges UX attempts to fix, and how the goals of a UX designer flow.  Come join us for this great conversation – especially if you’ve ever used an app – so all of us, really.

3:00: What is UX?
4:00: Tiffany’s Interning experience, and talking about networking to get the first one.
7:00: Real world projects versus constraints within school – the shock of reality.
11:00: ‘Do I Belong’ game
12:00: Tools of the trade
17:45: Interview prep, and deep researching tips for prep from Tiffany
19:00: STAR method (this was new to Preston – it’s a cool method).
https://www.vawizard.org/wiz-pdf/STAR_Method_Interviews.pdf
22:00: Tiffany educates me on why she feels design doesn’t have nearly as many curmudgeonly folks – it’s just their nature of designing new stuff all the time.
24:00: Millennials don’t care about work that doesn’t matter.
26:00: UX market entry tips. Design of everything book. side projects.
29:00: Deep dive into how UX and programmers actually work.
32:30: Tiffany’s mantra of ‘Not holding users accountable because they don’t think like we do’.
34:00: GAMING TIME! Tiffany’s game and arcade experience, and the specific game she is an aficionado about.

If you’d like to find Tiffany online, go find her online at the following locations:

http://skl.sh/2nal9ZT (Tiffany’s class on UX research)
http://tiffanyeaton.com/asian-sterotype-story-game (Tiffany’s stereotype story game)
https://medium.com/@tiffanyeaton (Tiffany’s Medium account)
http://tiffanyeaton.com (Tiffany’s website)

Podcast Automation Stuff – V1.0 – The upshot

I create and program the things, and then I work on automation.

The trajectory of most people in technology, especially those who are especially adept at moving up in the world includes automation.  It should come as no surprise to those of you who listen to my podcast, that I love my podcast, but that I HATE wasting time.  Automation and streamlining things are what comes first to my brain when I started working on my podcast.

When I first started to prep my podcast, I was a bit naive:

Yeah… About that… No – I was wrong.

I thought I would give you a peek behind the scenes of what I’m finding out is a straight up friggin’ pipeline for a podcast.

So, Imma CI/CD this thing and here is where I’m going to display my findings.

But Why?

One thing you’ll hear me say throughout my blog and podcast is “I can make more money, but I can’t make more time“.  Because I travel a lot for work, I absolutely disdain wasting my time on the weekends doing what I feel like is busywork.  And, can I share something with you:  I have about 2% passion for post-prep on audio and social media.  But I don’t want the podcast to suck, and I want to have my guests reach and inspire a greater audience.  Fortunately, I’ve done so many audio things off and on, as well as a ton of Adobe products.  So I have the ingrained skills to figure out how to do stuff, and then the iterative skills to do them faster.

So, without further adieu, let me share my work-in-progress of a flow map of how I’m starting to get everything arranged.  The automation flows are as follows:

  1. Guest Inquiry (only semi-automated at this point)
  2. Guest booking automation.
  3. Recording automation.
  4. Post Prep Audio Automation.
  5. Post Prep Graphic Automation.
  6. Episode Posting (can’t really be automated on the blog … yet)
  7. Promote via laptop.
  8. Promote via mobile (Instagram, Vero, other methods that require mobile only uploads).

EP005: From EVE to TAM, Rick Chan on how Networking Has Been Key in His Tech Career.

Rick and I connected over a subreddit we both tend to hang out in – /r/ITCareerQuestions.  As the owner of the most popular 5 posts, he clearly has a lot of wisdom to share.  We talk about leveraging networking from even seemingly trivial things like online games to build your network.  Networking is a HUGE part of Rick’s success – and it came from a source that may seem unconventional.  We then went on to talk the evolution of the data center and what we think will be important skills-wise in a few years.

04:00: How Rick sees getting ahead – Networking With Humans. Even EVE Online can get you jobs – Rick’s proof.

12:00: Interview skills discussions.

24:00: Not boxing yourself in.

27:00: Career progression and figuring out – the journey is the destination.

30:00: We talk Hyperconvergence.

35:00: Talking CBT training.

40:00: Rick’s money is where his mouth is – Gaming wise! Check this out:

42:00: The ‘pick a practice’ quiz that Rick wrote.

 

We had a great time chatting, and I hope to meet him in person sometime – maybe I’ll shoot up to Calgary to ski!

You can find Rick on LinkedIn.

You can check out Rick’s quiz Right Here.

EP004: Career Blogger Mike McRitchie on telling your story in an Interview

Today, we sit down with Career Blogger Mike McRitchie.  Mike McRitchie works with people who’ve progressed in their technical or managerial career but who are feeling stuck.

He performs a “Career Checkup” where he helps them uncover their accomplishments, unique gifts and cool stories, and then performs a “Brand Alignment” – translating that into a résumé and LinkedIn profile that gets noticed.

00:00 Intro.

07:00 Skills discussions and where to build skills.

10:00 Networking Discussions in tech.

11:30 Preston ask the degree question.

18:30 Mike talks about pivoting into a new career, and how he’s helped people to do this.

21:00 The question that torpedo’s people in tech interviews ‘Tell Me About Yourself’- without bragging.

29:00 Pillar 6 – Being the dumbest person in the room, whenever possible.

30:30 (Loosely Paraphrased) You do you man… you do you.

37:00 Talking introversion and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

40:30 Two passionate side gigger’s talk side gig.

44:00 How Mike helps people market themselves.

To find Mike McRitchie on the web:

1: Go here for Mike McRitchie‘s resume and LinkedIn profile writing services.

2: You can also get Mike‘s free report about the One Thing you need on your resume that you otherwise risk NOT getting called for an interview.

EP003: Luke Misgen About Interviewing with a Director and future-proofing your career.

Today we sit down with Luke Misgen, Director of Technology at zTrip, a part of Veolia.   If you’ve been on a bus, cab, or train – you’ve probably been in a Veolia vehicle.  We talk about innovation with users “Uber-resistant” to change (you’ll get my terrible pun when you listen…) and also leveraging your way up the career ladder.

00:30: We meet Luke Misgen, Director of Technology at zTrip.

08:00: People Skills vs. Just having a degree.

12:30: Meetups, and bypassing the HR ‘filter’ by knowing people.

15:30: Interview Pro-Tips.

27:00: How Siloing is helpful and hurtful, and what happens when you try and break it consciously.

40:00: We talk farming and Pillar-1.

EP002: Nicolas Cole On Why Your Digital Brand Is More Important Than A Resume.

Here in Episode 002, We talk to Nicolas Cole, Founder of Digital Press and top Quora writer about building your brand online, and killing your resume. Definitely a great listen – even if you’re not in IT. You can find the show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, RSS, and on my blog at https://AngleFreeIT.com

00:00: Intro

03:00: Nicolas Cole’s origin story and how gaming shaped his career.

05:00: Why people know who Cole is who he is – ‘I Am The Brand’.

07:45: What the hell is ‘building your brand’?

10:00: Anyone can start this.

11:15: “Everyday”.

14:15: Quora is brilliant for building your brand.

19:30: Sometimes, taking an opportunity is better than waiting for someone to tell you to do so.

24:00: Cole shares about how people don’t prep for interviews, and why you’ve already failed if you do this.

28:00: Cole reminds me to have compassion for people.

30:30: Talking about finding a mentor, demonstrating you want to, and burning ships.

38:00: Why providing solutions vs spotting problems gets you a job.

42:00: “For the Horde” vs my boring ass Paladin.

You can find Nicolas Cole at his website, Digital Press, Right Here (https://www.digitalpress.com/) and personal blog at (https://nicolascole.com).

You can also find the article that made me say “I gotta talk to this guy” here:(https://www.inc.com/nicolas-cole/resumes-are-dying-heres-what-you-need-instead.html)

Feel free to reach out to Cole if you know some C-Suite person who needs some help with media!

 

 

Episode 001: Lifelong Learning with Julian Rodriguez 5x CCIE, CCDE and Master of Alphabet Soup.

In this Episode, I talk with Julian Rodriguez, a friend from many years back.  We talk through his expanding arsenal of certifications, currently including 5 CCIE’s, a CCDE, VCIX-NV, CISSP, Masters Degree, Undergrad and many others.  I circle back through our decade of knowing each other, and I get to fanboy a little bit.

00:00: Intro.

02:00: Julian’s Origin Story.

06:00: Julian’s Main Philosophy.

08:00: Julian Answer ‘WHY’.

17:00: Dealing with Failure (a lot).

28:30: H1B Immigration rough ride.

33:00: An edge for those wanting to immigrate.

36:00: When to Pivot.

41:00: Julian proves he’s a consultant and gives me ‘It depends’.

47:00: When Julian studies/time philosophy.

51:00: What’s next, and programming skills.

54:00: Pillar 6 showing up in Study Groups.

Episode 000: What drives an ultra-high-performer in tech?

Welcome to The Angle Free IT podcast.

Hey, I’m glad you’re here!  In this Episode, we explore all of the ins and outs of having a position within Tech throughout all different types of industries.  The focus of what we do is “How is it that some people get so much further ahead in their careers, and how do I do that too?”.  In this episode I explore the following:

00:00 : My motivation for starting the show.

05:20 : My Hypothesis.

08:45 : I’d Love your feedback.

10:00 : I’m ruining your misconceptions, but giving you the power to build them better.

11:30 : What ‘Angle Free’ means to me.

16:00 : Do what I do, not what I DID.

21:00 : You are Awesome – thanks!

Why I think you shouldn’t quit because of your boss.

All Boats Rise With The Tide - And Fall With It Too.

Why I think you shouldn’t quit because of your boss.

There was once a guy named Jason. I used to loathe, no HATE Jason.

We are now friends.

It is so very important to keep your perspective in mind with regards to your career.  The reason this is important is to make sure you don’t shoot yourself in the foot. I almost did this by nearly quitting my job over a boss that was new to his position and very ill equipped to manage someone technical. I was also young in my career and unwilling to consider business perspectives.

Allow me to paint the picture – and I apologize in advance if I send any of you off triggered (translation for y-xer’s like me – ‘full-tilt’). Jason and I were at one point peers.  I was technical, Jason was business.  Our respective boss, had been promoted to another position and Jason (who was pretty cocky at the time) got promoted to be my manager. Instead of being open to the change, I freaked out because I had pre-determined that I could not work with Jason. Period – end of story.  I believe in the things I preach – so I began my ‘new job’ search in earnest.

Fast forward about 2 months and something came up about the cell phone fleet (which at the time before BYOD was a big ass deal for our company). We had the ‘come-to-Jesus’ talk that I knew would come. Honestly I have no idea what the issue was looking back, all I know is that I walked out of a meeting butthurt and ready to quit. Something about giving someone a phone, or losing one – something kinda benign but expensive.

Remember how on my podcasts and woven throughout my posted content I mention how I’ve always sought mentorship? Instead of prematurely filling up my f-et bucket, I made a phonecall. The phonecall took all of about 5 minutes for a neutral third party to remind me that my boss was probably going to get his ass kicked because we blew up the budget for the phones. When I say blow up, I mean by a lot – like 4 or low 5 digits a lot, and this was not enterprise level but branch level. Neither of us had handled the conversation properly, nor had we handled the ‘WHY DOES THIS EVEN MATTER’ part of the conversation.

Taking an hour or two for lunch I entered into my boss’ office and asked him a few things “How can WE fix this problem, and how can I support you in it, and why did you have such a large reaction to the bill? ” If there are two things I’m proud of myself for, it’s that I am willing ask questions, and smart enough to ask ‘dumb’ questions. Most people forget you don’t have their exact 100% same world view and perception of reality. My boss confessed about worrying that he would fail budgeting his first go around and also be made to yell at me, so he got the worst part over with (yelling at me). Without some formal review or a write-up, I determined to make his life better and to genuinely serve my boss.

  • I worked with my boss to resolve the issue and also get a lower bill, which I let him take credit for. Did I do 98% of the work? Yes. Did it matter that I got credit? Not really – my boss knew I did the work and that’s the important part. Always remember Pillar 1 – when you help other people it comes back to you. I promise you this is a universal truth.

Let’s fast forward a few years. I have grown in scope, capability and responsibility but still work at the same company. An internal position to become one of the head network engineers opens up. I apply for this position. The team was on the fence about even interviewing me and they call Jason. My boss – who I was going to quit over – proceeds to tell them how awesome I am and that I should be given a shot for the role. The role didn’t materialize, but it was this interview process and other resulting interactions that resulted in me securing the follwing:

  1. A new job with a recommendation from my boss and my boss’ boss and the lead architect of the company.
  2. A cost of living raise of like 18 grand a year.
  3. A relocation bonus to help pay for moving and a wee bit of home closing costs.
  4. A (maybe, perhaps, possibly, not really, can’t prove anything) delay of acceptance of my resignation paperwork so my dumb ass wouldn’t lose stock vesting (I used to be bad with my finances – something we will discuss in later times). The upside for me was 27 grand.

All of this would have vaporized if I had quit a mere few months after my boss made a rocky landing in his new position. Some people are complete J-holes, I will totally give this to you. But most, most are not. And if you ask them the smart ‘dumb’ questions in an ‘I care about you’ way – are more than willing to tell you what’s going on and try and figure something out. Struggle is NOT bad. Struggle builds bonds and strong relationships.

Believe me when I say this – because it’s SO HARD to remember – all this stuff will not matter some day very, very soon. You’ll move companies or to another role. But that relationship will be there no matter what you are that other person is doing. And everything you do is cumulative. If you’ve been scorching earth up until now, it is not too late. Start thinking about where this ‘crazy’ other person is coming from and try and figure out what their motivation is. Better yet – ask them. They may have no idea why they’re acting a certain way, people are remarkably unaware of their actions at times – I know I am when I am not consciously trying to be nice. If your fears get in the way, or you are shy – keep in mind it may be very helpful for them if you are brave and ask why someone is acting strange. And as a byproduct your life gets better.

For the record Jason and I have gone golfing a few times and I always meet up with him whenever I’m in Dallas. I genuinely care for him, his family and his career. And for the TL/DR of why I didn’t get the job at the company I was with – I forgot pillar 4 and was too dull with my skills.