vTesseract











My name is Josh Atwell and I've been working in the IT industry exclusively since 2004. I'm a serial IT community builder and leader, podcaster on vBrownBag and VUPaaS podcasts, vExpert, CiscoChampion, author, and generally fun person to have around. I am currently working as a Cloud Architect for SolidFire.

vTesseract is my personal presence for my thoughts, musings, and technical write-ups involving PowerShell, datacenter virtualization and other technologies I come across daily. The opinions and thoughts on this site are my own and are not endorsed or affiliated by my employer or anyone else. This is done on my own free time and all work is limited based on my time and available resources. Your comments, thoughts, opinions are welcome. Thanks for reading!

Current Resume-CV

Tue Jul 8

Evolving from Organizational Silos

Today’s datacenter is evolving yet again and with this change the conversation is moving to how we transform the operational model in order to adapt.  The emergence of public cloud offerings, private cloud management systems, and converged infrastructures are moving organizations to require a greater level of collaboration from an operational standpoint.  These frameworks require individuals who possess broad knowledge across all elements of the environment, not just one specialty.  Unfortunately organizations are having challenges creating an environment of collaboration with their existing silos.

Today’s operational silos are the byproduct of virtualization growth over the last decade.  Consolidating workloads and abstracting the underlying hardware with the hypervisor meant greater complexities to deliver physical resources.  Individuals quickly began to specialize more deeply on storage, networking, compute or virtualization.  Over a short period of time the walls between these groups became tall and strong, reducing effective communication and collaboration.  Unfortunately these silos isolate people, provide restricted areas of growth, and breed moderate distrust.  This framework will not function well in our evolving datacenters.  It’s time to elevate the conversation and start talking about what we really need to maintain and improve operational efficiencies.  

IT leaders do not have to tear down the walls of their organization in order to accommodate next generation frameworks.  The first step is to simply mentally dissolve these walls and adopt a mindset of disciplines over silos.  If you look in today’s current silos you’ll note that the majority of people in those organizations are there because they chose that technology as their field of study, or discipline.  There are likely many who have backgrounds in multiple disciplines who may not feel empowered to work closely with other teams of differing disciplines.  They are trapped in the silo with only one direction to move.  

Aligning your support organization with the concept of disciplines in mind allows for better communication, increased collaboration, and a higher chance of success at operating a lean and agile datacenter.  This is accomplished by encouraging people in each group to share and work closely with individuals in other disciplines.  These individuals are not silo invaders; they are the key to quicker success and adoption of the next generation datacenter.  They are coworkers who wish to expand their knowledge to improve how they work and how they engage with others.  Through this encouraged collaboration they gain a broader perspective of the technologies that service your business needs and consumers.  What should emerge is a new breed of datacenter architects, engineers, and operations contributors that are well positioned to manage and implement cloud and converged infrastructure frameworks.

This model will not dissolve the need for specialists on a discipline.  You do not have to immediately restructure you organization.  I often counsel organizations to identify individuals who either desire to work only on their discipline or show interest in growing broadly across disciplines.  Most likely the majority of contributors will fall into these two categories.  Any remainders need not decide immediately.  They will eventually make a decision as they see their coworkers’ roles change and careers advance.

Looking further into the future the next generation of control layer, or software defined datacenter, has evolved out of the challenges presented by cloud management.  These tools also require broadly knowledgeable engineers, architects, and operations staff to implement and manage.

Adopting an organizational mindset of disciplines over silos early will enable your best and brightest to expand themselves horizontally and create these required employees in house.  What you will need is likely already in your organization, it is time to open up the silos and provide these individuals another path to collaborate and grow.

Thu Jul 3

You’ll Still Script in the Software Defined Datacenter

Greg Ferro posted a blog post today (link below) about scripting not scaling for network automation.  I agree with the premise that it does not scale, but found some argument in his thought that there’s little value in continuing to invest much in scripting.  His point of view isn’t harsh or pointed and neither is my counter-argument.  There is a great deal of truth in what he is saying.

Below is the content I included in the comments on his blog. I think his post is a great place to continue the conversation!  Check it out at http://etherealmind.com/scripting-scale-network-automation/

< Begin Comment >

Totally get where you’re coming from on this post. As a guy who’s built a career around scripting and automation I agree it can be very frustrating and challenging to maintain code through product life cycles. However, I’ve also found that the quality and extent of my output still maintains higher than doing my work without scripts. Here’s three reasons why I think people need to continue to script, and WILL script even with the approaching Software-Defined age.

1. SDN isn’t fully realized yet and as you say it’s time to value is probably 2 years away. That’s 2 years where the need for automation still exists and the benefits of dealing with the issues you described still outweigh the efforts.

2. SDN is going to provide a considerable amount of intelligent functionality. However, that functionality is still going to require input from architects/engineers/admins to put the rails around it’s capabilities. As such, scripting is a great mechanism for identifying the needs and those rails. Work in scripting today increases the likelihood that organizations will feel less overwhelmed as they make the transition to software defined. I think that response will vary from environment to environment but in the end value will still persist.

3. Pretty sure that scripting will still be required in the Software Defined age. The use cases around specific reporting, batch changes across multiple policies, batch adding or removing of various elements will likely still persist. As you say, just another language/framework to work with.

Final Note: Always script in test/dev before production :-)

</ End Comment>

Thu May 1

A Tribute to the Godfather

Today was quite a day.  There was a tremendous amount of activity in the virtualization/datacenter community with some notable job moves.  It started out pretty exciting for me with a humbling list of well-wishes from friends and acquaintances responding to my recent move to SolidFire (more on that in the future).

Things kept moving right along with announcement from fellow vBrownBag crewman, Jonathan Frappier, moving to EMC.  The community also saw Vanessa Alvarez moving to Amazon.  Then we got the real nuclear bomb with the virtualization community godfather, John Troyer, leaving VMware after 9 years.

The virtualization community, primarily concentrated around VMware technologies, is absolutely phenomenal!  It is unlike any other.  I attribute the majority of this to Mr. Troyer himself.  

John has done amazing things for us all; whether it be running the VMware Community Roundtable Podcast, starting and managing the vExpert program, helping keep the VMware communities active, or just making people feel more than welcome at VMworld.  His work has given us all opportunities to meet with our peers and form tremendous bonds, both personal and professional.  

People in our industry are typically thought of as introverted, and that’s not an unfair appraisal.  John’s work over the years has provided even the introverts an opportunity to feel part of a larger group.  The positive influence this has on people is wonderful.

I guarantee John’s work has also directly provided increased confidence and support for folks interested in participating more with local VMUGs.  I’d hate to think what our industry and these events would be like without John’s guidance and continuous efforts.

All being said.  I’d like to pay tribute to John for all the work he’s done while at VMware and all the amazing work I expect he’ll be doing in his new adventure, TechReckoning.com.  As he said himself, he’s not leaving, just shifting platform

Please take some time to support John and sign up at TechReckoning.com

Thank you John and keep up the amazing work!  We’re all so fortunate to be part of “the family”.

Mon Mar 31

Dreams to Goals

'It’s Only a Dream Until You Write It Down, and Then It Becomes a Goal'
~ Emmitt Smith, crediting Dwight Thomas


I recently heard the popular tale of Jim Carrey who took a bold step early in his career by writing himself a $10 million check. He placed it on his bathroom mirror as a constant reminder that helped inspire him and the work he was doing. Hearing this tale reminded me of Emmitt Smith’s induction speech for the Pro Football Hall of Fame where he spoke the above quote. These two incident’s reinforced something that I feel I had lost focus on. Where am I going and where do I want to be?

I’m not going to go all existential in this post so fear not. Instead let’s discuss the importance of setting goals in achieving success in our careers. I respect that not all people have a desire to climb the ranks to bigger and more challenging positions. Regardless, it is still important to set some goals for your career so that you work with direction, or a destination in mind. I’ve had a ton of seemingly lofty ideas and dreams, but until recently they didn’t feel tangible.

Here are the three steps I’m using to achieve my goals. Those interested in a more thorough examination should continue after the list and image.

1. Identify your loftiest goal(s) and write them down
2. Identify potential paths to these goals
3. Work towards these goals by building required skill-sets and experiences

My first step in turning my dreams into goals was to write down where I’d like to see myself nearing retirement. I’m not interested in working all these years without setting myself up for an interesting retirement. Additionally should good fortune fall on me and allow me to retire much earlier than anticipated, I’d like to be ready.

I’m not one to sit idle for very long. As such, you’ll note that my top goals include items that can keep me occupied in retirement, and potentially generate additional income that I can lavish on my wife and family. Ultimately I’d like to see the culmination of my professional career to be a consultant to executives and leaders. I’d love to pick a place in the world, consult the winter away, and enjoy the region with my wife the remainder of the year. The next year could bring somewhere entirely new. The viability of this goal is both reasonable and doable. My timeline would be around the time my children complete college and start their own families. That gives me just under 30 years. The other two items fall in line with my personal creative interests and are activities I can do anywhere in the world. While I don’t suspect I’ll become a famed science fiction writer, I’m certain many famed sci-fi writers didn’t suspect it either.


My second step was to write out what I thought were my various potential paths to achieve these goals. This act gave me several ideas and I was actually able to prioritize the different items into a rough timeline. I identified the loftiest goal, one day running an innovative technology company, and placed it at the top. I then took some of the other ideas and organized them into potential paths to reach my larger goal. In this I also placed a big red question mark because while I know where I feel I want to be, I do not know all of the options to get there. I suspect my path will vary from this quite a bit over time. Writing these down gives me the ability to better focus on my future options.

The third and final step is the one we hold the most control over. Our lives may change, our interests may change, and as such our goals may change. Having the greatest goals mean nothing if I don’t actively work towards achieving those goals. This exercise allows me to look through this path and start to identify key skills, find mentors, and find ways to gain relevant experience throughout my career. I accept that there are roles and opportunities I do not know exit. Focusing on building skills that I believe are required or desirable for a CTO/CEO means that regardless of the role I am in I continue to always advance towards my goal.

The second takeaway from this is that if opportunities present themselves you can compare them to your goals and path. You should be able to quickly see if the opportunity aligns with your goals, or if you think you should adjust your goals. My recommendation is to update your long-term goals separate from presented opportunities. Consistently modifying goals based on today’s opportunities can lead to a lack of focus and potential setbacks if you find that your ultimate goals haven’t truly changed.

If you haven’t started this yet there is no time like the present. Grab yourself some index cards, your favorite workflow diagramming application, or a whiteboard and start writing out your goals. Once you’ve established your ultimate goal write it on a business card and tuck it neatly behind your debit/credit card in your wallet. You’ll be reminded of it each time you make a purchase. In time this constant reminder should serve as a compass for reaching your goals. It’s only a dream until you write it down.

Mon Mar 24

Content Balance - Work/Leisure/Life

I’ve been involved in a good number of conversations recently about how to balance the content you release to the world.  People are very multifaceted and as such have varying interests and perspectives.  There is often overlaps and distinct lines in the content a person releases through their blog, podcast, social media, etc.  Additionally I’ve also seen in the politics front (no I’m not going to get political) a great deal of displeasure with the President and the White House taking time to comment or spend time on the NCAA tournament given all that is going on with Russia/Ukraine.  I’ll touch on that in a bit.

I work for a company that does some really cool stuff with various products.  In all fairness I don’t have deep experience with some of these products and don’t always feel that the work I do on a regular basis resonates with my audience at large.  Personally I try to focus on a content that touches on either automation of datacenter technologies or career development since those are the audiences that typically yield the most interest.  I have personally made a choice to limit myself to these topics on my blog, even though my current efforts don’t always align.  As a result readers of this blog have not seen outlines of the VCE value prop, the advantages of converged infrastructure in the datacenter, or the newest technologies integrated into the Vblock systems.  I have chosen to primarily limit that content to channels where the audience is seeking that information.  Does this make me a bad corporate citizen?

The touchy part of this is that sometimes I’ll find things posted on Twitter and other blogs that I think is truly interesting and relevant to the industry at large outside of my normal buckets.  Sometimes it’s just a desire to publicly acknowledge something interesting that I think the community will find equally interesting.  I’m grateful that my Twitter followers have responded with increased interest.  Regardless, I’ve worked to keep my blog focused, my efforts with vBrownBag focused, my time with VUPaaS and EngineersUnplugged focused, etc.

image

What does this say about me as a content creator, or dare I say it aloud, influencer in our industry?  I hope it says that I respect my respective audiences not to inundate them with information that doesn’t relate to their interests.  This is not to say that my content can’t, and won’t, evolve over time and start drifting from its core.  This is to say that each time I post, I’m posting based on how I think my experiences can best serve my audience, the community at large.  This does NOT say that if I spend time sharing unrelated content that I’m squandering time on the primary task at hand.

I’d like to now circle back to the White House.  They are currently in a position where people (their audience) are looking to them for insight and perspective on important issues in the world.  This is completely fair and I, too, am interested in this information.  However, I’m a bit surprised by the strongly negative responses when the President expresses his picks for the NCAA tournament or sends out notes of congratulations, through social media, to teams who have overcome higher ranked opponents during this annual national event.  Why is this?

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SImply put I expect that our President, while overwhelmed with the issues of our nation and our world, has interests of his own that he wishes to express.  He, like any employee, has interests outside of his core job.  In some cases his interests get directly related to his job.  How then does the leader of the free world, or the systems administrator of a small enterprise, have the freedom to express opinions and thoughts that are not job-related.  Are we now nothing more than the sum of the work we do for a living?  Is it more likely that we each have moments where our thoughts digress to other interests which we may wish to share our thoughts on?

i’d like to think we all have the opportunity to express thoughts outside of the core work we do.  If we were limited solely to our professions we’d lack broader experience and capacity for creativity and diversity.  We all have interests and responsibilities, while often secondary, that we feel the desire to share with others.  It shows that while we may be primarily single-focused we are not automatons.

I plan to slowly move my core content of this blog to more IT strategic content.  I’ll occasionally continue to post career posts, scripts, interesting things or events.  I’ll continue to post various things on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.  i do these things because I feel I have more to contribute to the world, and my industry, outside of the scripts I’ve written or the problems I’ve solved.  I’m a multifaceted person and I expect the same of others, even the leader of the free world.  

I think it’s time we all keep perspective on what we expect from people who we “follow” on these various platforms.  Speak with your feet and your voice, but be fair and reasonable in your judgements.  Each of us is more than the job we have and we should all have the freedom to express those interests without too much criticism.

Thanks for reading and I hope you find most of my content relevant to you. If you don’t I’m always open to your feedback.

Sun Mar 2

The IT Field Bag

A couple of weeks ago I was needing to work on a little low-voltage wiring project in the house.  My instinct for this project was the same as always.  Time to go grab the field bag.  Those of you in the IT industry, especially those with experience dealing with Layer 1 problems, likely maintain a bag similar to mine.  I thought it an interesting topic, so I posed the question on Twitter.  “What’s in your IT Field Bag?”  Here’s what’s in mine going clockwise from Top Left.

 

  1. The Bag - Sturdy little tool bag. I preferred this over a standard toolbox due to multiple exterior pockets and varying compartments.
  2. IDE Ribbon cable - ran into enough damaged cables I started carrying a spare (before SATA became standard)
  3. Various Cables - Video, USB, CAT5
  4. Power Cables
  5. Adapters - I used to carry a wide range of adapters. VGA to DVI, USB to PS2, etc.
  6. Zip Ties - Varying Lengths
  7. Various Screws and Motherboard mounts
  8. Fish Tape - I used to IT without one of these.  Those were the aggravating clothes hanger days.  Worth every little penny it costs.
  9. CD Case - Carry everything from OS, Drivers, to Hiren’s Boot CD
  10. Staple Gun and Staples - Staple gun not shown.  Perfect for cable management under the house, in the attic, etc.  Used to staple zip ties down.
  11. Paperclip with one end extended - Eject those CDs (Hard to see in photo)
  12. Leatherman Tool - Never leave home without this guy
  13. Magnetic Tip Screwdrivers - Long and slender are the best for PC repair from my experience.  Also great for retrieving pesky little screws
  14. Diagonal Cutters - Both light and heavy duty.  These are essential for terminating CAT5 ends for patch cables. Heavy duty are great for cutting thick zip ties, etc.
  15. Electrical tape - Because duct tape can be too much :-)
  16. Simple Punch - necessary for terminating those awesome RJ45 wall jacks
  17. Drill Bit - Not used often as you can see but worked great with the electric black and decker screwdriver I used to carry - Not Pictured
  18. Pen - Yea, gotta have it
  19. Cable Stripper
  20. Crimper - RJ45 and RJ10
  21. Mice - USB and PS2 - Yes, there were adapters that you can carry.  Your mileage may vary though.

Other items I used to carry but not pictured were

  1. Small Flash Light (Torch to some of the global audience)
  2. USB Flash Drive(s)
  3. Toning Wand - For tracking cables in a bundle or at the endpoints
  4. Cable Tester - Verify my cable patching was good.
  5. Keyboard(s)
  6. Velcro for cable management
  7. Electric Screw Driver
  8. Drill
  9. Multimeter
  10. WRT54G Router - This little workhorse never got to retire. I still have it as a backup

Please feel free to share the items you have in your IT Field Bag in the comments below.  Thanks to Mark Kenney @mkeeny005 for sharing information about his field bag.  Reminded me of a few things that I used to carry but use elsewhere in the house now.

Wed Jan 29

Book Review: Troubleshooting vSphere Storage

As a virtualization administrator for various organizations my biggest skills gap was in troubleshooting storage issues in my environments.  Most of the time you’re limited to VMware KBs (which are great), blog posts, or trying to work through various help files.  What we have always lacked was a comprehensive resource that can provide a strategy, an outline of tools, and an easy reference.  Recently I got the opportunity to read Mike Preston’s (@mwpreston) book Troubleshooting vSphere Storage by Packt Publishing.

I particularly like the appendices that provide Troubleshooting steps, a breakdown of statistics for esxtop, and iSCSI error codes.  The chapters themselves also provide a well structured gathering of valuable information.  Mike puts together chapters on:

1. storage concepts
2. Tools used for troubleshooting and managing storage in vSphere
3. Troubleshooting storage visibility
4. Troubleshooting storage contention
5. Troubleshooting capacity and overcommit

Each chapter provides a wealth of information and often procedures for configuring storage in vSphere environments.

I particularly enjoyed the Tip sections located throughout the chapters.  These breakout segments provide a side conversation to the topic at hand.  Often these Tip sections would address questions you may have while you’re consuming the chapter.

All in all I give this book two thumbs up and a three sighs of relief.  I’m sure any VMware administrator who picks it up will gain some valuable tidbits, as well as an excellent consolidated reference document for troubleshooting and understanding storage in their environment.

You can get more information on, and purchase a copy of Troubleshooting vSphere Storage, at http://bit.ly/IuWc5R and Amazon.com

Tue Jan 28

Powershell Saturday #007 - Charlotte

Like Powershell?  Live in the Carolinas or surrounding areas?  You need to make sure you have PowerShell Saturday 007 on your calendar. February 8, 2014 in Charlotte, NC.  Yea, it’s a Saturday, but it’s a Saturday where you’re meeting with PowerShell experts and enthusiasts.

I was fortunate enough to speak at PowerShell Saturday 002 in 2012 in Charlotte, but this year I’ll be spending that Saturday with family celebrating the Krispy Kreme Challenge with my brother-in-law just returning from deployment.  

You, on the other hand, should go.  There are great speakers such as the Scripting Guy Ed Wilson, Jim Christopher, Jeremy Engel, Glenn Sizemore, and Sean Kearney.  I’ve seen all of these gentlemen present and they’re great.  See the full list of presenters at http://powershellsaturday.com/007/speakers/

As with all events they are not possible without the sponsors.  Give their page a look at http://powershellsaturday.com/007/sponsors/.  At 002 there were some excellent prizes given away.  Still jealous.  Don’t worry, they won’t use Get-Random and forget about the numbers starting at 0. :-)

You can register at: http://powershellsaturday.com/007/register/

Mon Jan 20

The Perfect Job for YOU, Part 4

Welcome Back.  We’ve almost completed the scheduled series. Let’s look at the list again:

  1. What do you want to do?  
  2. What do you enjoy doing?
  3. What do you NOT want to do?
  4. What do you NOT enjoy doing?
  5. Will this job help in your long term career aspirations?
  6. What impact will this job have in your life? [Time, Travel, Financial]
  7. Can you trust the advice and recommendations of others?

In the last post we discussed the importance of looking at how a potential job might impact your life.  Today we’re going to cover an interesting social dynamic I’ve discovered over the last few years, “You’d be great at MY job.”

When looking at potential jobs it is natural for you to desire to talk with others about their experiences in that type of role.  As mentioned in a previous post, a mentor is a great way to solicit experienced advice.  The other type of advice is generally from your peers, and is often unsolicited.  This can come from coworkers, industry peers (LinkedIn connections), or even people who work at a company you are interested in.  Listen carefully to this advice, but always consider the source.

The one thing I’ve noted in nearly all experiences is that the peer often appraises you with respect to the job that they have, or recently had.  I’m no exception to this.  I have found myself doing the same.  Additionally, in a recruiting process those who you talk with about the job will be candid, but always in such a way to help make the role appear desirable and a perfect fit for you.  This makes sense as they wouldn’t likely have you there if your posted skillsets didn’t match with the characteristics of the job.  What neither party can necessarily provide you is if you’ll be happy in the role.  Some critical assessment needs to come to play.

While I am no psychologist, though I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, this seems to be a natural response.  We tend to measure things based on our experiences and what we know from the work we’ve done.  Since this is professional/social situation can be challenging to prove I recently put out the following tweet to help see if my theory rang true (in a solicited request for feedback).

image


I noted from the responses a variety of things:
1. Many people thought my perfect job was just like theirs (or similar)
2. The majority thought that my perfect job would be an amalgam of several of the options.
3. A couple of people provided some valid reasoning around their response.  These were  generally targeted on a specific role by industry veterans.

I took away multiple things from this exchange.

First, respondents appear to have based their answers on what they know of my body of work and the jobs they thought I would do very well.  This includes seeing me in action at work, blogging, podcasting, public speaking, and generally sharing knowledge.  One peer even commented that they can’t see me in a CTO role because they have never seen me work in this capacity.  Very fair and reasonable. Note:  If VMware still wants a CTO padawan, I’m totally game :-)  The key takeaway from this was that the responses were more about whether I would be good at a given job, versus whether it would be the perfect job for me.  Keep in mind that they do not know your mind and your heart.  We base our alignment of others based on only what we see of others.

Rounding out this thought I want to point the incredible value you can gain from being gauged by the community.  While I’m not much of a fan of LinkedIn’s quick serve endorsements, I do think it can provide a fair stacking of what your network thinks about your primary skills.  Keep in mind that it is still important to self-gauge.
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Second, those that chose multiple options were closer to my own self assessment.  I strike this to the fact that I’ve been told it’s pretty transparent when I’m enjoying myself.  I think we all show our passion when doing what we love.  This makes me pleased to see others recognize that and respond accordingly.  Want to know when your passion moment was?  Tell me when you felt the most pride and excitement from something you did professionally.  Break that down and see if you can identify what it was that made you so passionate.  Was it sharing knowledge, recognition for extra effort, saving the day?  Once you figure that out add it to the top of the list of things you enjoy doing!

Finally, I noted a trend with the veteran responses.  Those responses were very focused on the job’s impact to the business.  Mapping my skills to how I could best contribute to an organization definitely went beyond speaking to what job I’d be happy doing.  Granted, this is very valuable information depending on the second assesment.  If you thrive on demostrating value to the businesss (we all should actually) then you definitely want to place that high in your consideration for the perfect job.  Add it to the list for topic #1.

There is a concept in the book ‘The Five Love Languages’ that discusses your emotional/love tank.  The book outlines different love “languages”.  You identify which is your language based on what “fills your tank”.  You should consider this concept with your professional satisfaction.  What things bring you satisfaction and fill your professional tank?  Take the feedback from others, align that with the other items listed in this series. Hopefully in the end you’ll have a solid grasp on what the perfect job for you might look like.  Keep in mind that it’s not always black and white so keep an open mind and fair assessment of each every opportunity.  When possible try to create your own role that provides highest opportunity to fill the professional tank.  Your career should be a journey.  It’s important to make sure each step keeps you fulfilled and takes you to your “retirement goals”

I sincerely hope that you have found this series useful.  It’s been a considerable experience for myself as I continuously assess where I am on my career journey.  I look forward to your comments.  Thanks for reading!

The Series:

Mon Dec 23

The Perfect Job for YOU, Part 3

Welcome back.  Glad you’re still with me!  In part 1 of this series I introduced you to a basic checklist of things that you should consider today, for potential job opportunities tomorrow.  Let’s look at the list again:

  1. What do you want to do?  
  2. What do you enjoy doing?
  3. What do you NOT want to do?
  4. What do you NOT enjoy doing?
  5. Will this job help in your long term career aspirations?
  6. What impact will this job have in your life? [Time, Travel, Financial]
  7. Can you trust the advice and recommendations of others?


In the last post we discussed item 5 with a focus on the value of getting a Mentor in determining if a job will help in your log term career aspirations.  In this post we’re going to discuss 6, assessing life impact of a job.

Prior to making my transition to VCE as a pre-sales architect, or vArchitect, my wife and I had considerable discussions about the impact this job would have on our lives.  Discussions with my mentor(s) and others in similar roles gave me the necessary perspective on what would be realistic to expect.  Since I had also addressed items 1-4 the conversations with my spouse were very constructive.

I’ll go ahead and knock out the low hanging fruit on this item.  Financially few people voluntarily change roles for less money.  This move was no exception for me and I’d expect if you’re looking it will be the same for you.  Granted, there was no guarantee that it was going to be a considerable increase.  As my mentor pointed out; in sales the greatest rewards are at the end of the year, if you meet or exceed your goals.

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My wife’s primary concern, as was mine, was the day to day impact on our finances this role would have.  We made specific decisions on how we would spend any incoming commission payouts and verified that we could continue to have business as usual with the base salary.  VCE worked with me during the negotiation phases to help ensure that this was going to be a positive move and it has worked out just fine.  The Mrs was pleased, and it worked for me, so we moved on.  Be realistic about the finances part.  Doing this wrong can create challenges that can reduce your ability to focus, grow, and live a balanced life.

Travel was the next big consideration.  At the time I was interviewing, my wife was a stay at home mom with a 3 year old and a 9 month old.  This can be an exhausting job which I certainly do not envy.  Given that my previous job was time intensive, it was NOT travel intensive.  We discussed at length what life was going to be like when I traveled.  We also discussed what our days would look like when I did not travel.  We recognized that I would be working from home some, dinners with customers some nights, and other times in office or meetings.  In short, I was going to be out and about quite a bit.  Challenging as this was, we focused on finding times we would spend as a family and planned fun events and activities.  This let us maximize our family time and not spend it in front of the television.
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Over this last year things have lined up pretty closely to our expectations.  We have adapted well to the travel and it has had its own rewards.  The boys are not devastated by my absence because we make the most of my presence.  The key here was being realistic about what the travel would mean and communicating.  I find that my current travel is very doable and as such we all know what level absence we’re willing and able to bear.  This gives me great power in any future job considerations and should be something you consider sooner than later if you’re looking for the perfect job for you.

The last bit is a wrap up of the previous.  The time spent in a role can vary widely.  I think everyone in IT can agree that the 40 hour work week is a misnomer.  My welcome when joining Cisco was: 

"You may have heard we only work half days at Cisco.  That is absolutely correct.  You get to pick the 12 hours each day you work."

While I didn’t always work 12 hours each day I definitely put in a large number of hours.  The work was time consuming, stressful, and very rewarding.  Make sure when considering your career and new roles that you also consider the things in your life that you need or want time.  It really comes down to priorities as we only get so many hours in a day so communicate with those who have interests in your time.
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The biggest piece of advice when looking for your perfect job is balance.  The majority of us work to live instead of living to work.  Just as you weighed the things you enjoy versus those you do not, consider the changes in your life you’ll need to make for that next job, or to meet your career objectives.  Finding the right balance between life and work leads to greater satisfaction.
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I hope my experiences this year have provided you an example of how assessing the impact a job has on your life can better help you determine the right course to meet your career objectives.  In the final planned segment of this series I’ll share my thoughts on how to assess the advice you receive from others when making your career decisions.  Thanks for reading.  As always, your comments are welcome.

The Series: