You’ve been in your chosen profession for several years. You’ve worked in a variety of capacities over those years, and you’ve been successful. Now the world has changed, and you find yourself seeking to maintain relevance given the ever-changing nature of almost everything. So what do you do?
Well, first you have to understand that not everyone can know everything. While our brains are magnificent computers, even the best computers have finite amounts of memory and finite amounts of storage. (Ok, IT folks – yes, I know you can find ways to expand memory or expand storage capacity, but this is about the human brain, and we can’t add a new shelf of storage to our brain – yet). While I admire those who seem to be able to recite the Encyclopedia Britannica (or, for those who don’t remember what that is, Wikipedia) from memory, those people are few and far between. So come to grips with the fact that you simply can not know it all.
Now that you’ve removed that obstacle from your path, decide what it is you DO need to know, and to what depth. If you are an IT professional, like I am, the ever-changing landscape of technology, while exciting, can also be a daunting task to keep up with. So, how do you decide?
From my experience, I find it better to think in terms of breadth, and not so much in depth. The key thing, in my mind, is knowing your customer, and understanding their needs. When you’ve taken that step, you’ll have a roadmap to relevance which aligns you with your customer so that you can provide maximum value to the relationship. At that point, you’ll have a clearer path to understanding your continuing education requirements.
So, while I would like to know everything about everything, as I’ve outlined above, that is not possible. Instead, I try to learn as much as I can about the things which are more appropriate for business audiences – security, cloud computing, flash storage, the latest trends in virtualization, IoT, etc., and learn just a little about things which may have more consumer appeal – like the features of the newest smart phone, or which wearable device has the bells and whistles I would want, or whether the Chevrolet Bolt is “better” than the Tesla 3. While those may have mass consumer appeal, I live 8 hours a day in the business world, so I concentrate my learning to tailor to those technologies my customers may need or want to discuss. I can always Google the other items if I find myself in the market for a wristwatch phone. 🙂
LinkedIn is a great source of information as well. Where else can you follow almost any company and see the latest updates on their product offerings? Many major publications also post to LinkedIn, and are absolutely invaluable for keeping up to date. And, there are many bloggers who regularly post articles on LinkedIn. Subscribe to those which are important to you, and regularly check for updates.
Another great help to me is aligning myself with friends and colleagues who are Subject Matter Experts (SME) on those technologies which I may not be as quick to grasp from just reading and doing online training. One thing I’ve learned over the years is people love to talk about things they are passionate about. One of my very good friends is a Network SME; another is a VMware SME; and yet another is an Application Developer. So whenever I get the opportunity, I talk to them about their area of expertise. And, I freely share with them about the things I am best at. It’s all about sharing of information so that no one feels like they are always giving and never receiving.
So, I hope this post has helped you in some small way. I welcome your feedback (preferably positive). ‘;-)
Note: This article may also be found on my blog at https://www.jamieadennis.com/blog
About the author
I’m just a Southern Ohio boy, born and raised in Chillicothe, OH (about 45 miles south of Columbus on US Route 23). I now reside in Delray Beach, Florida, and love it here. I’ve traveled widely, worked in many organizations of varying sizes, and learned something every step of the way.
I do not claim to be an expert on anything – I reserve that title for those who create and improve technology, but I’ve been successful throughout my career by applying common sense to complex problems, whether those be technology problems or people problems. I continue to learn on a daily basis, which is the nature of a career in Information Technology, and life as a Pre-Sales Consultant/Solution Architect.