The Value of Education – From Both Sides of the Fence

This is a repost/rewrite of a piece I published back in September of 2013. You can check out the original at the following link if you are interested, but the majority of the “meat” of it is the same: Some Thoughts on Education. That was a long time ago now. I thought it would make sense to refresh the post with some new thoughts. While I’m at it I’m updating it to make it more search engine friendly. The things you learn when you are trying to get a new blog off the ground 🙂

The Value of Education – From Both Sides of the Fence

This is mostly a brain dump of some of my thoughts on the value of education. In this context education covers both formal (e.g. classrooms) and informal (e.g. knowledge transfer and mentoring). That’s what I mean by “Both Sides of the fence”. In re writing this I’ve got a bit better idea of how it will flow than I did on the original. This time I’ll be incorporating some new thoughts as well as follow up discussions from the old post.

“Those who can, do…”

There is an old saying, oft touted by those who don’t see the incredible value in the teaching profession as a whole:

“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

What a load of bull!!! If you don’t agree with my perspective on this then you probably want to skip the rest of this post. It is written from the perspective of someone who greatly values teachers and the act of teaching. I’m sure we can all remember experiences where we had a teacher who was less than stellar. Maybe it was a substitute teacher in Grade Nine science class covering a chapter on electronics who drew a diagram of a transformer on the chalkboard and proceeded to use it to “explain” how a rectifier works (Yes I still remember that moment fondly). Or maybe it was the university prof whose notes on the chalkboard were so illegible as to be absolutely useless. Or that guy who sits a few cubicles over from you who knows everything about everything and feels the need to educate you on any topic you bring up.

I’m not going to pretend these things don’t happen. But they shouldn’t impact our overall perspective on the value of education. After all you shouldn’t stop eating apples just because of that one you bit into when you were 8 years old that had half a worm in!

Some Clarity

Let’s start with a clear statement: Not all teachers are good and not all courses are worthwhile.

Here’s an other one: Wikipedia is often useful but shouldn’t be trusted beyond the proof provided that the source is reliable.

So how do we tell the good from the bad and know who and/or what to trust? Well that’s something we learn over time and it helps if you have a good teacher at the beginning.

Back to the point of teachers being those who couldn’t be successful in their chosen field. I’ve always preferred the teachings of someone who has actually done what they are teaching. Yes, a really good educator with a great curriculum can effectively teach a topic they don’t fundamentally understand. Maybe they can even teach beginner to intermediate level courses better than some of the folks who have experience. But when it comes to answering the questions that can come up in more advanced courses nothing really beats experience for getting the knowledge into the heads of the people who need it.

This can sometimes be challenging when dealing with courses offered by large organizations with departments devoted to training. The people with the experience aren’t always considered “qualified educators” and may not want to leave the area they work for (or may not be available to be loaned out even if they are wanted). Professional trainers (including contractors) handle the majority of the workload. With the right training staff this can still work out as long as the trainers are offered (and encouraged to use) a channel between the education department and the engineers and implementation specialists who design and use the company’s products. A great instructor will take the questions they can’t answer and use these channels to have the right answers available for the students the next day.

Sadly that seems to be the exception with “professional trainers”… at least in my experience. I’m not sure how I usually end up with the ones that are afraid admitting they don’t have the answer at the tip of their tongue. Surely it can’t be karma… I’m not THAT evil!!! But I’ve had more than one instructor make up an answer on the spot that was so ridiculous even the other students didn’t buy it. All you can do is fill out your eval forms accurately at the end of the course.

An Open and Shut case

While I’m on the topic of formal education I think I’ll touch a bit on the concept of an “open curriculum”. I’ve always liked this concept and I like the name for it because it reminds me of the phrase “open mind”. It’s not unusual for third party companies specializing in a specific industry, but not selling a product in that industry to offer courses that are more about the concepts inherent in that field and less about specific products offered. In the computer technology field one of the more commonly recognized certification tracks based on an open curriculum is A+. In the Storage field there is SNIA, although they seem to deal more with “open certification” than the open curriculum to support that certification. Other companies offer curriculum to support it as well.

I can’t speak directly to other vendors because I’m not as familiar with their course lineups. But if other major storage vendors are offering open curriculum courses they aren’t making a big fuss about it. Dell EMC on the other hand has a few tracks that are open enough to allow them to partner directly with major educational institutions around the world to offer a combination of open and product specific training. I don’t want to turn this into anything resembling a sales pitch, because I don’t work for Dell EMC and I don’t promote their products and services. I just call it like it is (in my opinion). In this case if you look at something like Dell EMC’s Information and Storage Management curriculum you begin to see what I mean when I talk about “open”. They hit all the major topics relevant to the storage industry without pitching their product lines beyond holding up occasional examples to demonstrate a point. Someone could use this course (or the excellent book that was published on the topic) as an entry point to Storage foundations and turn around and build a working knowledge of IBM products based on that… or Dell EMC products. I haven’t dug in deep, but there is promise of a similar open concept in some of the higher level Cloud and Data Center Architecture tracks as well. Personally I applaud a vendor doing something that benefits the entire industry and potential candidates to enter that industry without limiting the benefit (or even skewing it significantly) to their products.

Coaching & Mentoring

On to the root of what triggered this brain dump on education in general. It ties back to that annoying quote from the beginning of this post as well. In my opinion those who can, do. If they really know their stuff they can (and should) teach others what they know too! This doesn’t mean they need to stand up in a classroom and drone on in a monotone until everyone in the class is learning through osmosis (I hear just a little drool can actually help you absorb the contents of the handouts through your cheek while you snore).

What I really mean is that the people who have the knowledge and experience should make an effort to pass that knowledge on at every opportunity. There are times when that might not be completely appropriate. When something major is hard down in the environment you might be better off fixing it ASAP and explaining what you did and how you knew you needed to at a later date. But in your day to day work there are endless opportunities to add just a little bit of extra knowledge with each interaction.

This knowledge transfer does not need to be a massive dump of info at one time. In fact that is sometimes less effective if it isn’t done right. It’s just a slow build up of little bits and pieces over time. That allows those around you to grow in knowledge and experience without having to suffer everything that you did to get where you are.

One day the coaching might be as simple as explaining why you follow a certain process to double-check your info before each storage allocation. Another day it could be spending 10 minutes discussing differences of terminology with the new woman on the team so that follow up discussions within the team will flow more smoothly. Occasionally it might mean taking some time in a room with a whiteboard to share some info on a new product you have been delving into that the rest of your team hasn’t been exposed to yet. Do it enough and it becomes second nature to want to share what you know and why it is important.

Share? But what’s in it for me?

True, this may sound extreme. Most people don’t say this out loud. But that doesn’t mean they don’t occasionally think it quietly in the back of their heads. Sometimes they may think that sharing is a waste of time. They had to learn the hard way so why shouldn’t everyone else? Sometimes people think that if they share what they know they will not be as valuable any more and may be replaced. These aren’t trivial concerns and they do have some basis in historic reality. But current reality (at least in my experience and especially in the high tech field) is just the opposite.

If you are especially worried about change in your current environment you might want to check out my post on The Joy and Pain of Organizational Transformation (If you haven’t already).

Now I’ll qualify this by saying that if you are incredibly happy doing EXACTLY what you are doing every day and you don’t want to learn new things and deal with new environments (Oh, and you don’t mind losing your job when that environment is decommitted) then maybe knowledge hoarding IS for you. If that’s how you truly feel you probably gave up on this a long time ago and aren’t reading this part of my post. Of course you could be curious about something so foreign to your own thought processes that you felt the need to get a better understanding of where this nutjob thought he was coming from. Good luck with that

The advantages of sharing (for the more rational readers):

  1. It’s the nice thing to do, the right thing to do! Sharing your knowledge and experience with your co-workers shows that you have respect for them and for your employer.
  2. It looks good on your annual Performance Appraisal. Really it does. It’s good for your career in the long run if you are clearly willing to openly communicate with others.
  3. It raises your visibility with others – peers and management alike. If you really do know your stuff this is a good thing.
  4. It demonstrates your knowledge in small but concrete ways. if you are sharing your thought processes that help you reach conclusions it can even help people understand and trust you better over time since they realize that those conclusions they THOUGHT you were jumping to were actually the result of careful consideration of facts they didn’t realize you knew.
  5. If you are the only expert in something important you will never get the opportunities to learn and grow in new areas as long as you are spending all your time on the old stuff. If you don’t share, that old knowledge can stagnate you and your career opportunities. Sharing shows that you really do have deep skills and an ability to learn. You can be trusted with newer more critical projects that will help you advance.
  6. If none of that appeals to you then here is the clincher. Sharing your knowledge openly helps you consolidate that knowledge in your own head and actually helps you retain it and understand it better yourself. Sometimes it even leads you to find flaws that you didn’t realize were there when someone asks a question you didn’t think of. That gives you the opportunity to refine the knowledge and validate it further. Teaching others may actually teach you more in the long run than it does those you are helping along the way!

Hmmm… I rarely use numbered lists and that was a bit of a surprise to me. Well, it was a surprise the first time around… not so much on the rewrite *lol* Welcome to my thought processes!

Wrapping up

That’s pretty much all I have to say on this topic. I’ll be curious to hear what others have to say on the topic. As always this is open to discussion and comment below. And yes, I’m stepping down off my soapbox (for at least a few minutes) now.

Bonus – Have you read my post on Blogging for Beginners yet? This is a great time to learn about a very effective way of sharing your thoughts and knowledge (and at least potentially educating others).

Where it All Began

This is going to be another short post. I’m not saying it is a placeholder,  but it might serve to stall folks while I figure out if I can get some of my more substantial content migrated from my original blog. In the mean time I just wanted to touch briefly on where it all began for me.

I don’t want to repeat all of my original thoughts, so you can get the gory details in my bio and my very first public blog post from ECN here: Where to begin… How about at the Beginning?  I can summarize it pretty easily though.

Back in 2010 I was a technical specialist in a technology that not many people understood. I spent a lot of time trying to teach people enough about Storage so that we could have a meaningful conversation about it. Unfortunately the piecemeal education I could provide one on one wasn’t efficient enough. I tried doing lunch and learn sessions and decent attendance, but I still wasn’t reaching enough people. I considered writing a document, but it would have been massive and out of date before the first edition was complete.

That’s when I turned to blogging as a way to build something over time and publish it on the fly. One topic at a time I could build the “document”. Little did I realize at the time how that could grow over the years. I’m not even sure I could have imagined I would still be adding to it years later. It just kind of grew organically into what it is today.

Where it all Began (for real)

My very first blog post was internal on a company platform that was likely only read by a dozen people. As I started publishing some useful technical content my readership grew internally and it felt like I was making progress. What never occurred to me until I was in a discussion with a Social Media manager from EMC one day was that there was value in the content outside our organization as well. And the very EMC Community Network platform I was already heavily involved in gave me a ready made platform to publish “publicly”. I put that in quotes because I was still pretty much targeting a captive audience even though anyone could access the content if they went looking for it.

Seven years later I still appreciate my blogging roots and I look back at those beginnings with a bit of awe that I was able to step outside my introverted comfort zone. But that lead me to where I am today. Not that I have a massive readership, but it’s still growing (more now that I have my own dedicated site). While my roots were in technical blogging – and I’ll still be doing that – I’m finding more and more that there are other things I want to share. Now that I have my own platform to do that I’m even more comfortable delving into the (previously) unknown.

Stay tuned and we’ll find out what’s next together 🙂

The Joy and Pain of Organizational Transformation

I’ve really struggled with how to tackle this topic. I’m still not completely sure, but I feel like I need to get it out there anyway. Please keep in mind that these are my own thoughts and opinions. They in no way reflect the thoughts, policies, or directions of my company. They aren’t sponsored or promoted by my company. These thoughts do however reflect at least in part on my employer. Like every other company out there that survives and thrives… we go through change and transformation. Thus the topic of the day: The joy and pain of organizational transformation.

Transformation

Let’s start with a brief discussion of the word at the heart of this matter.  The word “transformation” has been thrown around a lot lately. It has been a huge theme through Dell EMC World in Austin in the fall and again at Dell EMC World in Vegas in May. And Dell EMC aren’t the only ones using it regularly. Lately it seems like transformation has become the new “cloud”. But what does it really mean?

According to Merriam-Webster transformation is “an act, process, or instance of transforming or being transformed“. Well, that leads to some circular logic so we’ll take it a step further and look at their definition of transforming.

  • to change in composition or structure
  • to change the outward form or appearance of
  • to change in character or condition

Outward Appearance

Now we seem to be getting somewhere. It turns out transformation is a whole lot easier to define (at least on the surface) than cloud was. When companies talk about transformation they may be (and often are) referring to a subset of the definitions above. The middle definition is one that is especially desirable to many organizations (and individuals) because it often seems easier to just change how you look or how people perceive you without having to make actual substantial changes. The problem with that approach (alone) is that people will always figure it out sooner or later. Image might be important, but it isn’t everything.

Composition

A change in composition or structure is a whole lot more disruptive and potentially a whole lot more rewarding if done correctly. I would venture that this is the most common type of transformation overall as it includes everything from minor layoffs and hiring through to complete restructuring of the organization. Sometimes the drivers are simple: “We can’t afford all these employees” or “We need more people to keep up with demand”. Other times the drivers are more complex: “To stay competitive in the marketplace we need to rethink our approach to business”. Sometimes this type of change goes hand in hand with changing image. Sometimes it inadvertently causes a change in image (e.g. massive unexpected layoffs or closing manufacturing plants).

Character

The third definition for me is so diverse it almost feels like an oxymoron. TO me a change in “condition” could be almost anything. It could be the tiniest of changes like a minor fluctuation in stock prices. Or it could be something as major as a change from profitable to bankrupt. I guess though it depends on whether you are considering transformation as something that happens or something that is made to happen. In my mind a change of condition is something that just happens. A change in character however is something that must be worked toward.

In talking about an individual, a change of character is something dramatic and life changing. It is usually driven by some self realization (if it is positive change) or some terrible event (if the change is negative). When talking about an organization a change in character is also dramatic and life changing. It is often driven by a realization that the world continues to change and companies that don’t recognize and embrace that aren’t going to be here for the long haul. This type of transformation in an organization, when implemented correctly, will likely drive transformation in composition and structure as well as a change in outward form or appearance. But in this type of change the outward aspect flows naturally from the inward changes and is not the purpose of the change in the first place. It’s a positive side effect of doing the rest of it right.

The Pain

I know… the joy was supposed to come first. But it isn’t. Deal with it. I’m going to follow my own hard and fast rule about how I like to receive news. When someone comes to me with “I’ve got good news and bad news” I always want to hear the bad news first. I’m not entirely certain why. Maybe the overall message feels better if I still have something good to look forward to.

Whether we are talking about small changes to the composition of an organization or massive restructurings there are bound to be pain points. We are going to talk about a few of them in more detail. If you think I’m missing any REALLY obvious ones, please comment on this post and let me know if I need to reconsider this non-comprehensive off the cuff list.

  • Job loss – Yes, I went for blood right off the bat. I did mention I like to get the worst out of the way early
  • New hires – this isn’t always a bad thing, but sometimes it can be if there is a lot of it going in a short period
  • New reporting structures
  • Changing policies
  • Fear of the unknown

Job Loss

I’m not sure exactly where to start with this one other than to say that transformation often involves a give and take process. There are many reasons that transformation could drive changes to employment levels. Sometimes it is as simple as needing to cut down on payroll expenses to prevent the company going under. It could be about cleaning house and making sure that everyone is pulling their weight. Or it could be about temporary savings to ensure other compositional transformation that is necessary to the future of the company can be funded.

Regardless of the reasons behind the losses the impact often feels the same. That holds true for the people who lose their jobs AND for those who don’t. I don’t doubt that the people actually losing their jobs are harder hit in the short term. That doesn’t mean that it’s all roses for those who remain though. I’m sure I could find some study or other to link to that talks about the survivor’s guilt felt by employees who didn’t lose their jobs. It’s late though. I kind of want to get this out tonight so I’m not procrastinating any longer.

Let’s face it… job loss sucks for the people losing their job. It sucks for their friends and co-workers who don’t lose their jobs. And it really sucks for teams who are now feeling short staffed. It also happens to suck for the managers and HR folks who have to implement. Thankfully I don’t fall into that category, but I respect the people that do.

New Hires

This one isn’t as common, but I have seen it. Transformation can involve a large influx of new talent. THose new hires all need to get up to speed fast. That requires busy people to bring them up to speed. But those busy people don’t have the time. But if they don’t take the time they’ll never have the time. It’s a catch 22 that happens a lot even with small hiring cycles. It is compounded significantly with large hiring cycles.

I should mention as well that large influxes of new employees can also cause unusual shifts in “corporate culture” and the feel of the workplace. I’m not talking here about the corporate culture that the organization tries to foster. I’m talking about how people interact day to day… “the way things were”. This change isn’t always a bad thing, but it can stress the incumbents.

New Reporting Structures

Sometimes it is difficult enough in a large organization to keep track of who’s who when it isn’t changing. Throw in a healthy dose of structural transformation and it can become a nightmare if not managed properly. By “managed properly” I really mean “communicated effectively”.

The other side of this coin is that individual’s reporting structure can change causing stress. Any time you have a new management structure above you there is an adjustment period. Different managers mean different opinions on what information is critical and how it should be presented. Priorities change. Level of detail changes. Personalities don’t always mesh the way they used to. This is not just stressful for the employees, but for the leaders as well. If everyone on both sides of this could remember that it might go a long way to reducing this “pain”.

New Policies

This isn’t always a pain of transformation. And sometimes it actually works out in employees favour. I suspect that this is most common when companies are merging (whether on an equal footing or some kind of takeover). Generally speaking multiple companies coming together are going to want to synergize things like HR policies. This means that at least a subset of employees will experience changes to everything from payroll and vacation policies to benefits and pension plans.

Fear of the Unknown

I left this one for last because it is probably the biggest pain of them all during times of transformation. It doesn’t really matter how good an organization is at communicating effectively with the employees. There are some things that just can’t be shared until the right time. As much as I would like to dispute that fact, there are things I would like to know that could potentially impact the future of the company if everyone knew everything that was planned. I have to trust that my senior management knows what they are doing and that they have the overall good of everyone from the employees to the shareholders at heart as they guide us through what may feel like uncertain times.

I don’t have to “like” that I need to trust them, but my other choice is to not trust them and either leave or live in fear. Neither of those two options really works for me, but everyone has to choose their own path.

The Joy

Finally I can talk about the more positive side of the transformational experience. I’ve taken many courses over the years on positive thinking, dealing with stress, promoting resiliency, etc. While I don’t agree with ALL of the material I’ve been exposed to, there was a common theme that I DO agree with. You won’t always be able to influence what happens to you, but you can always choose how you perceive and react to it!

I’ve heard that taken to extremes in a course about dealing with stress, but I’m not talking about the ridiculous extremes (e.g. losing a loved pet is NOT an “opportunity to bring happiness and joy to a new pet who needs a home”). I’m talking about maintaining a positive attitude and trying your best to find the opportunities that challenges may present.

Focus

Smaller groups do have some advantages even if it doesn’t feel like there are enough people to get the work done at first. Depending on team dynamics there is the potential for greater focus and more unity on a smaller team. This can only happen if the members of that team all commit to making the effort though.

Innovation

We have all heard and used (or misused) the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention“. Especially in large organizations it can be difficult to justify the effort of innovation when the necessity isn’t immediate. Maybe it’s automation where none existed before. Or it could be a reimagining of process to streamline entire production lines. The point is that sometimes the status quo isn’t the best way to do things and we aren’t always the best at thinking about alternatives till it matters to us personally.

That being said, I would like to point out that I feel like my company (and especially the IS department) have been exceedingly good at promoting innovation recently. And no, I’m not referring to the necessity factor!

Opportunity

I really don’t want to sound mercenary here, but organizational transformation can present numerous opportunities for personal advancement. Sometimes that can literally mean new responsibilities. It can also mean the opportunity to stand out from the crowd and have your voice heard. If you have ideas that fell by the wayside before they may not fall on deaf ears any more as everyone looks for better ways to do things. Maybe your ideas won’t get you that new job today, but you can be sure people are watching and will remember who stood up with a positive attitude when opportunities come up in the future.

The Moral of this Story

So I somehow sidetracked myself from my original intent with this post. The thoughts I really wanted to get down are mostly here. There is a bit more that got added in along the way, but that is just how my blogging brain tends to work.

How I really want to sum up this piece is to reaffirm that organizational transformation doesn’t have to be something to fear. I’m not going to pretend it is ALWAYS a good thing. I won’t even tell you that there is NOTHING to fear. What I will say is that fear can be a self fulfilling prophecy. The more time you spend worrying about what might happen, the less time you are securing your place in that future happening. I’ve been through more than one of these transformations and all I can advise from my own personal experience is this:

Don’t “keep your head down”!

Stand up and be seen accepting and embracing whatever comes. Put your hand up with ideas for how to make it better. Speak out to help others overcome their fear and get them back on track so everyone can work together to make the path to the future a little less painful for all.

Quick Update 2017 Q3

This won’t take long. I just wanted to provide a quick update to let everyone know I’m still here and will soon be getting back to real posts. This past two weeks has been rather hectic for my team at work and for me personally as I take on some additional responsibilities during our company’s transformation.

I’ll have more detail on that in the near future. In the mean time I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t given up on fine tuning my new site and I’ll soon be getting a handle on everything so I can balance my time more effectively and get back to sharing.

Hang in there and please be patient with me in the mean time.

Blogging for Beginners – Q & A on Getting Started

If you do a quick hunt with your favourite search engine you will find innumerable articles, posts, and videos on blogging for beginners. They mostly focus on the technical aspects of everything from picking a domain name to writing effectively. This post isn’t going to touch any of that. What I want to talk about is much more “Meta” than that. What I want to address today is the “5 W’s of blogging”. More specifically blogging by IT technical specialists. Hopefully this will be relevant outside my field of expertise as well.

Who?

There are lots of questions to ask when someone is considering blogging. In my mind the most fundamental is “who?”. I’m going to address some of the other questions further on in this post. If you don’t know the answer to THIS question there probably isn’t a lot of reason to keep reading.

The obvious answer to the question of who should blog is “YOU”. You are the only person who has your exact combination of knowledge, experience, and perspective. So the only person who can blog what you need to is you. Some people opt to write an autobiography and some people let others write their biography. Blogging isn’t like that (at least not for me). It is a much more personal connection between author and reader. I don’t believe anyone else can write your posts for you. It’s just too personal a thing to “farm out”.

What?

Now you have accepted that you are the only person who can tell your blog “story”. There is still a question of what to share. If we assume you have just decided to start investigating blogging I’m going to guess you already know this answer. You just don’t realize you know it. Something must have triggered in your brain to make you consider blogging. Whatever that trigger was probably links directly to your first topic.

I don’t know about other people’s experience in general, but I’ve found that the longer I go between blog posts the easier it is to come up with relevant topics. When I first started blogging I had a long list of things that I would get to over time. The more often I post though, the harder it is (usually) to come up with new topics. If this holds true for other people, then what to start with should be the easiest question of all.

What…

  • … is your passion?
  • … do you want to tell people?
  • … is your unique perspective that other people might be interested in?

Even if you don’t think the answer to those questions leads to something that people will want to read, it’s a place to start. And starting is sometimes more important than getting it EXACTLY right (months or years later).

When?

This seems to me like one of the most obvious answers of all. When should you start blogging? Take your pick from the following list:

  • Yesterday
  • Right now (after you are done reading)
  • There’s no time like the present

Unless you aren’t yet convinced that you really should start, the time is now! If you aren’t yet convinced then come back to this question after you finish reading the rest of the post. If you delay it will just make it easier to procrastinate.

Where?

This might actually be one of the more difficult questions to answer when you are considering starting out. There are a multitude of options out there. I’m going to try and narrow them down to make it easier to actually get started. It might be easier to decide this if you already have a topic/category selected to blog about.

  • An established non-professional blog – If you have a passion for something (e.g. photography, painting, sports, etc.) and there is a blog that you follow and enjoy, you could consider contacting the blogger and inquiring about guest blogging. This would give you an opportunity to dip your toes in the water to see how it feels. This may be a hit and miss method. For the record though I’m planning on allowing the occasional guest blogger on here if the topics are a good fit.
  • A vendor’s established platform – If your topics are a fit with a specific technology vendor’s direction, you could always see if their social platform allows personal blogs hosted on their site. I started out primarily blogging about EMC technologies using EMC Community Network. This was a great way for me to start and eventually led to me getting my own domain and managing my own site.
  • A free blogging site – I didn’t investigate a lot of the free blogging sites before deciding to launch my own site. I did however take a look at WordPress.com and actually started to set up a free site there. In the end I decided to take things to the next level. I still think that may have been a better place to start if I didn’t already have vision, direction, and experience. I know there are other free sites out there but I didn’t dig in deep to compare and contrast. It can be done for free, so don’t rule out that option.
  • A hosting provider – There are lots of hosting providers out there who have plans ranging from affordable for personal use to massive corporate scale hosting. Most of the free providers have paid options as well which make it easy to upgrade from free to full service once you are comfortable with your new site. While there are lots of blogging platforms out there, the one I’m (becoming) most familiar with is WordPress. There are many hosting providers out there that support WordPress and some of the best are listed and ranked by WebHostingBest10.com. Being new to this myself the best advice I can give for now is to do your research before committing to a hosting provider.
  • Host your own server – While I’ve been in the IT industry for many years, this is something I have no interest in. I’m much happier letting someone else manage the nuts and bolts of the underlying layers that support my blogging content. If you are really interested in this I have a few friends I can connect you with.

Why?

It might seem odd to leave this question to the end of the post. I questioned if it should come first. I eventually decided that if I put it first I would have to flesh it out a lot more. If I put it last I can almost assume that you already KNOW why you want to blog 🙂 Otherwise I would have lost you long before now.

I’ve already put a lot of the thoughts that could go into this section down in a previous post where I started blogging. You can find that post here. While that post wasn’t specifically about blogging much of the concepts carry over well. I feel like that post needs a follow up sometime this year, so stay tuned for that.

I think probably the simplest way of summing up the “why” of blogging is a combination of sharing and consolidating. By sharing your knowledge and passions with others you might expand there awareness an possibly even ignite their own passions. The advantages internally can sometimes be even greater though. By taking the time to organize and formalize/”verbalize” your thoughts you are “setting” it in your own mind. This can simply involve helping that knowledge sink in deeper, and sometimes it can force you to reevaluate what you thought and correct flawed thought patterns. Both are good for you.

Blogging for Beginners – Summing it up

Maybe blogging isn’t for you. Maybe in 10 years blogging will have gone the way of the psittacosaurus. In the here and now though I feel like it is still a vital way of sharing with the world. Please contact me if you are interested in talking more about getting started. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

In the mean time, if you don’t already know my story, check out it out to better understand where I’m coming from.

New Beginnings (Short and Sweet)

This post will be short and sweet. I’m focusing my efforts on wrapping my head around WordPress and this whole custom site, new domain, self maintained contents thing. Prior to this I have always published my content on an established site maintained completely by someone else. Now I’m taking a leap into the unknown and it feels like it is the right time to do it.

If this is the only content here please stay tuned. I’m working hard to finalize the site and start getting some new content out there. In the mean time, if you have ideas or suggestions please feel free to share. I don’t promise to implement everything suggested, but I do promise to listen and learn.

TTFN 🙂

Till later (but not too much later) then…