Jeffery Hicks is a consultant, blogger, speaker and author. He is a very kind and wise man. I have read his tips, tircks and tutorials many times. He is the man who inspires. Have you wonder what makes a great speaker or a great consultant? Have you wonder how long do you have to study to be as good as Jeff him self? Let’s find out.
Jeffery Hicks Interview
Hi Jeffery, can you give us a little introduction about yourself and how you got into computing? When did you start working with computers?
I started working with computers back in the days of DOS 3.3, working as a lab assistant in a research hospital. Part of my duties including taking care of the computers and basic file management. This was when most networking was Novell, the Internet was for universities and research centers and everything was done from a DOS prompt. I was fascinated by the world at my fingertips and have been ever since.
How long did you study IT, which certificates do you have?
Back in the day I pushed hard to get my MSCE in Windows NT, and upgraded it a few times along the way. I was one of the first 2000 people worldwide to certify on Windows 2000. I have an MCSA and was an MCT for a number of years, but in my line of work certifications don’t play a major role
How much time do you dedicate for learning new technologies?
Being an author, trainer and speaker, I am constantly learning new technologies. If I’m not writing about or creating a training video, then I’m probably kicking something new around.
If you were approached by a student who is interested in career in virtualization and computing, what would be your advice to get where you are today?
For an IT Pro starting today, long term success means being able to be self-directed and self-motivated, especially when it comes to training or even exposure to new technologies. I don’t think an IT Pro can expect to get all of the training they need from their employer. You need to be willing to invest your own time and often money, if you want to advance your career. You have to be willing to invest in books, training courseware, and even tools or hardware. Fortunately, there is a lot of good free resources, but don’t rely solely on “free”. I believe the only person who can really look out for your career is you.
You are also author of several books, can you tell us about it? Why did you decide to write a book, how long was in the making? What’s hard about writing a book?
When I write a book, I usually take the approach I am writing a book that *I* would want to buy. If I’m writing a book, it is because I feel there is a need for the topic to be presented in a way that makes it easy to learn and hopefully is enjoyable. Tech books take a long time to write and the publishing process can be quite lengthy. It is not uncommon to spend 4-6 months working on a book and then another month or 2 before it hits the shelves. I suppose the only that that is “hard” about writing a book, is making the time to sit down and actually write.
You are also a speaker on IT events, was it always easy speaking in front of people?
Actually, it was. As a child I was used to being on stage performing in band concerts or theater productions. So being in front of a group wasn’t that unique an experience. Plus, before I got into IT, I taught college courses. It wasn’t too difficult to make the transition from speaking and presenting to a class of 30 people to a conference session of 300.
Do you have any advice how to make public speaking a bit easier?
I’d say simply relax and have fun. The audience is on your side and is there because they want to hear what you have to say. Make it conversational and not a recitation.
You are working as a consultant now, what’s the major difference between consulting and working as a sysadmin?
Well, for one you are not only working on a current assignment, but you are also working to find that next assignment. When you are an IT Pro, you usually know what is expected of you and know your environment. As a consultant you never know what you are going to run into and have to be flexible to adapt to different environments and corporate cultures. But that is what I find interesting and I think the broad range of clients and projects makes you a better consultant over time.
How do you fill in the time you spend on airports waiting for the flights?
It really varies depending on how motivated I’m feeling, which often depends on what time of day it is and how long I’ve already been traveling. I try to get some work done, but often find myself reading a book or doing a crossword puzzle
What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about writing a book?
Create a very detailed table of contents, even if the book itself will have a much simpler table of contents. When working on a chapter insert all of your headings and then start writing to satisfy the heading.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started in IT?
How fast things change in IT, and that the pace of change has been increasing over the last 25 years. If you aren’t open to change, IT is not a place for you.
How do you spend your normal day?
I don’t really have normal days. I try to make of list of what I want to accomplish the day such as articles or training videos. In between I maintain my social media presence and try to engage with my community. Since I work at home, things like Twitter are my only way of interacting with people. I suppose that is why I love speaking at conferences and running training classes.
What drives you? Where do you get your passion, inspiration?
I am motivated to create items, be it scripts, articles, videos, books, or webinars, that can help other IT Pros learn how to do their jobs better or advance their career. I enjoy helping others learn and grow.
What is the best fiction book you read?
I read a lot so it is hard to select one piece of fiction. One book that has stayed with me, and one I keep meaning to re-read is Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. (http://www.amazon.com/Cryptonomicon-Neal-Stephenson/dp/0060512806)
What kind of home lab do you have?
My home lab consists of a Toshiba Qosmio laptop with 8GB or RAM, a Yoga 2 Pro with 8GB of RAM and a Gigabyte Brix (16GB RAM and 256GB mSATA) that runs most of my Hyper-V setup. My lab is designed so that I can pack it up and take it with me to conferences and classes.
What’s the story behind the decision, to become a consultant?
I decided to work for my self primarily so I could do the projects that I wanted to do, have the flexibility to be with my family and to take charge of my own career. This means I am directly responsible. Plus, working for myself allows me the freedom to work on a variety of interesting projects and technologies. There is always something new and that keeps me interested and motivated.
I would like to thank Jeffery for his time. You can read more about Jeff and his work on his blog