If you have stayed with me this far a number of possibilities spring to mind:
1. You have been totally fascinated by my story and utterly mesmerized by my command of the English language (Nah! That’s called wishful thinking!)
2. You have masochistic tendencies and love to be punished by reading my epistles (possibly and I would recommend that you immediately seek treatment)
3. You stumbled on part 15 and realized that you missed very little by skipping the first 14 (a definite possibility)
4. You found some value in my meanderings about my “passion for computers” over the past 40 years and comments about “people” and “life” (hopefully). Even if you only take away one item of value to you then I will consider it to have been a worthwhile effort from my point of view.
If you did read part 14 you will remember that I was unemployed yet again, sigh! So what to do now? For a time I worked on my own from home doing web design/web app dev work. The commute was great going from my bedroom to my office in the bedroom next door. Then the realities of life really caught up with me. Ongoing family illness issues required much more of my attention. Working from home was a great bonus but trying to work to meet other people’s schedules was creating too much of a conflict. So part-time work was the only choice. I have always enjoyed interaction with people and being able to impart knowledge and experience I believe is one of the most rewarding activities, whether it be in your personal or professional life. So I turned to teaching. I have always had an orientation towards the user community, both the average home user and the working person who is not a computer “techie”. So Windows desktop and Office was my choice.
I found work at a private school for overseas students, mainly from mainland China and Taiwan. Having worked in China was a huge help in connecting with the students, not via the language but because I understood the culture. My Mandarin is limited to “hello”, “thank you” and “we don’t have any”. Teaching in this case largely consisted of what I call “facilitation”, ie. sitting one on one and helping the students through problems, which I actually prefer. Now I teach at a union training centre, the irony of which is not lost on me since I spent many years on the management side of the table during sometimes acrid union negotiations; never say never! Also, I recently did my first Vista and Office 2007 training for a different organization moving from XP Pro and Office 97 (yes, Office 97!).
So much for my 40 years of ramblings, which for me has been a great trip down memory lane. Thank you to all who have read, or even scanned, at least some part of my epistles. I hope that I haven’t bored you too much! I thought that I would conclude by putting down a few things that I have learned (sometimes the hard way) over those 40 years. They are not in any particular order of importance. Nor is it remotely intended to be an exhaustive list. Your list may well be very different from mine. The interpretation of their relative importance is left for you to decide. Many will seem somewhat obvious. However, sometimes it is important to state the obvious because we don’t always follow the obvious in our lives, do we? Life pulls us in many different directions and sometimes it is all too easy to lose sight of those things that truly matter the most.
1. Family first!
2. Sometimes it’s about technology but it is always about people.
3. Every problem is an opportunity.
4. Even at the worst of times you can find humour if you look for it, and you must.
5. If you can truly laugh at yourself then you have finally figured out who you are.
6. Always give credit where it is due, regardless of whether it is a superior, a peer, a subordinate or a family member.
7. Give praise and criticism but try and make them both feel the same.
8. Life is about identifying, cultivating and maintaining relationships. It requires constant hard work.
9. As a leader always make yourself part of the “team” and yet apart from the “team”.
10. Contrary to popular opinion, making decisions is easy. Living with the consequences can be the hard part.
11. The absence of communication will always lead to negative assumptions.
12. “Assume” means makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me”.
13. There is nothing more constant than change. Don’t fight it. Embrace it and use it to your advantage.
14. Update your skills on a regular basis through formal education/conferences and learn the correct way.
15. Giving back through volunteering is good for the soul and the resume.
Remember to support your local Microsoft User Group(s) – it is a great way to network with the IT Community and extend your knowledge/experience, usually for free! If you don’t have one nearby, consider starting one. There is lots of willing help and advice around. Ciao for now!