This last week was a busy one for me, and I chronicle it simply to illustrate that for those of you looking to transition or “join the dark side” that you enter into the journey with your eyes wide open with full awareness. I’m illustrating this not to complain or brag, but simply to assist me in chronicling my changing career and if it helps anyone else make their decision to pursue this line of work then to me that is an added benefit.
While not always typical of the type of work that Solutions Architects/Sales Engineers do, the travel & trade shows aspect of the job is something that one needs to embrace as a critical aspect of this career. In addition there are levels of flexibility, perseverance and discipline that you will not encounter during the typical cubicle world IT position. As for today a week can start with a standard customer/partner meeting that should have been a 60 minute presentation ballooning into a full blown 100 hour week.
Lets recap my last 5 days.
Monday started with a 6 AM flight to Phoenix for a customer meeting, training, and installation. Throw in 2 conference calls, and a faulty piece of equipment, 2 hours of “stump the chump” and a customer dinner and around 11 PM you get the chance to check into your hotel for this thing called sleep. Except you dont really get much of that. I find it difficult to fall into any form of restful sleep in most hotels unless I am absolutely exhausted. Monday was no exception.
Tuesday kicked off with an 8 AM flight to Las Vegas for a partner lunch and presentation. Key point here being that the outbound flight was delayed 45 minutes, giving us 15 minutes to get from the airport to the lunch location. Thankfully it was a 10 minute cab ride and we made it in time. 2 hours later we should have been packed up and ready to go back home, as we had an all day event the day following. But that faulty piece of equipment from Monday had to be replaced, so it was back to Phoenix for an hour of hands on, followed by the last flight back to Orange County. Roll into bed at home (always a plus) at 11:30 and call it a day.
Wednesday: It takes a good hour and twenty minutes to get to San Diego with standard 6 AM traffic, and I manged it in sixty. The California Technology Summit was a day long event where I was providing demonstrations, speaking with customers, and potential partners. One thing you won’t really know until you do it, is know how well your voice will hold up when you have to speak for 8-10 hours straight. I’ve learned that I’m good for about 20 hours of speaking in a 48 hour period before I have to give my voice a good rest. Another key component is hot water with honey and lemon, it really does help. Rushing out of San Diego back up to Orange County to hit a 6 PM flight to Salt Lake City, which of course requires a detour to Las Vegas for a layover. Luckily I was able to check into my hotel room at 11:20 for some of that sleep stuff I keep hearing about.
As a side note, this was the first CTS and it was a decent event that provided some good lead generation. I continue to get excited about the prospects of Hyper-Converged Infrastructure and how it can be utilized in organizations of all sizes. While as a concept its not necessarily ground breaking in its scope, it is a disruptive platform and as such it requires a lot more outbound education for customers and partners alike. Posts around my thoughts on this are upcoming.
Thursday: Salt Lake City VMUG was a well attended event with around 280 people showing up. The day end Key Note was provided by non other than Scott Lowe who gave his discussion on time management. I’ve seen this presentation twice before and I highly recommend giving it a listen. A lighter version was done for the vBrownbag a while back. Time management is a key aspect of my job, especially since I work from a home office. Having worked in a cubicle or office setting for the previous 15 years the transition to essentially working for yourself can be difficult when it comes to making that transition.
VMUG’s are great events and I’ve written about them in the past. I think VMUG’s and the associated trade show activities are some of the most enjoyable aspects of my job. I really enjoy speaking about the technology and its application for today’s data center environments. There is nothing better than showing someone a feature or aspect of a piece of technology and seeing that light bulb go off over their head as they A: get it, and B: start planning right there on the spot how they would implement it in their environment. I live for that moment.
SLC VMUG also ended with a vBeers that I had organized. Beer in Salt Lake City you say? Well you don’t have to drink beer, they offer other beverages. I was thankful of the VMUG leadership who allowed me to get up and invite all those in attendance at the end of show giveaway period. And while the attendance was lower than other events, Scott Lowe joined the small crowd and a very good discussion around Software Defined Networking was had by the group. To me that is the key value around a vBeer type event. People that have spent an entire day at VMUG are still passionate enough about what they do to stay even longer after and discuss and explore even further. You never know who will show up, and so far every one I’ve either hosted or attended has been worth my time, still I think that for next time it will be a vRootBeers for SLC.
Friday: The final day of the week found me up early for group calls. The one pitfall of working for an East Coast company is that for them a 9AM meeting is 6AM for me. Fridays are usually reserved for Sales Calls, Team Calls, and catching up on email, planning the next week, and administrative tasks. This Friday was no different except I did it from a hotel room instead of my home office. With 3 hours of calls down we met up with a potential partner to discuss our technology and how we believe that it would be a good fit for their line of business.
Some of my best meetings are the ones where I don’t have to deal with the slide decks and I can simply get up in front of a white board and start at the high level and work my way down. I find that these are the most productive meetings since we get to dispense with the marketecture and deal just with the merits and functionality. Suffice to say, not 15 minutes after leaving the meeting, the new partner was reaching out to get the specifics on how they could work with us. It was a great end to the work week, and also another aspect of the job I truly love, closing.
As luck would have it, my last two flights of the day were 100% booked. One advantage of flying a lot is the perks of hitting the higher level award programs, and in my case with Southwest, that means early boarding and priority checkin. I used to be a big window seat guy, but I’ve now found the benefits of the isle. Quick egress has become essential, especially when you have transfer flights to hit.
By the time I got home around 6PM Friday evening I was pretty beat. Having not seen my family for the better part of 5 days some time was allotted for the ritual Friday Burger at one of my favorite places in my home town, the Riders Club (highly recommended), and yes some much needed sleep (that thing I had been missing all week).
So while the above weeks level of activity is not necessarily typical of my job, any one of those days could take place in a given week, and in this case they all took place in the same week. Thus is the nature of this business and the workload for a startup company. I hope this level of detail provides some insight into the scope of activity that can and will be expected if you decide to make the transition.
Now time to start planning for next week.