There are very few opportunities in life that major change presents itself. Maybe it’s actually just that we rarely get to embrace the opportunities.
My background as a technologist and systems architect was incredibly fulfilling. I enjoyed going deeper than needed to really understand what made everything tick. I also enjoyed learning from peers about how they used technology to do actual things. Combining these two traits soon led me to the idea of blogging as a hobby.
On January 1, 2010 my first blog went up on discoposse.com even though I had the domain before that. I originally launched it with my own custom designed Ruby on Rails CMS. The reason I built my own CMS was that I supported a development team who used Ruby on Rails and it made sense for me to learn how they need to consume and build systems. “eat your own dog food” as they say.
Then Blogging Became a Thing
Before you know it my blogging hobby was generating some traffic and I was learning more about products and vendors and how the connection (and the gap) between people and technology was something that I had a weird level of understanding. It excited me to no end to explore new things.
There’s a whole history of interesting events and many specific things that stand out. I could write a book on just what’s happened so far…but let’s stick to the quick version for now.
Along the way I met so many people like Angelo Luciani who opened the door for me to so much through things like the Toronto VMUG. Please pardon that I’m only calling out a few names here because there are hundreds of amazing people who have helped me out. The few names I mention will make sense, but it’s certainly not mean to leave out everyone else. I always despise having to mention people knowing I am missing someone.
I remember when we had Irfan Ahmad present at the VMUG and it turned out that he was launching CloudPhysics, the company he had co-founded, in the middle of when he was presenting at our community event. That was pretty awesome to know that someone cared enough about the local community to dedicate the time to join us even when he was part of something even bigger. It stood out to me.
Random Tweet + Random Dinner = New Opportunity
Angelo called me at work and told me “Stephen Foskett is in Toronto and asked if anyone is around to meet up”. I said “do it!!”.
We ended up meeting Stephen, whom I had been following for quite a while, and it was like this wild situation of a random tweet leading to something that transcended our day to day lives. Reading blogs and meeting people at events like VMworld was amazing. This was a new level of amazing that we could find seemingly random opportunities to meet people who were in the next circle of connections.
Stephen was such a great person. He still is, of course. Just calling out that he was more open and really friendly than many people we sometimes meet when you “know them online”. At the end of the dinner I asked how someone gets involved with being a Tech Field Day delegate and he told me just to go fill out the form. I think I still had my shoes on when I got home and was filling out the form.
Before too long an email arrived inviting me to join for Tech Field Day, Virtualization Field Day 3. The funny thing is that two big things (aside from meeting lifelong friends through those days) was that I got to see Irfan present with his team from CloudPhysics and also meet a new little Boston startup called VMTurbo.
VMTurbo -> Turbonomic -> IBM
There’s a whole blog to itself that could be written on what happened next. I was at VMworld later that year and had been talking with Eric Senunas who brought me in to meet a bunch of amazing folks including the founding team and the rest of the leadership at VMTurbo.
As I packed my bags to head back from San Francisco the call came in from Bain Capital. VMTurbo had an offer for me for the role of Technology Evangelist. This was the dream. I had the ultimate job that everyone kept trying to get and it was literally what I loved doing on the side because I needed a job to pay for the hobby…but now my job was my hobby!!
Many years, many changes, many lessons later we rebranded as Turbonomic, and then the big news came with the pending acquisition by IBM. Just over one year ago the transaction officially closed and all of a sudden I am an IBMer!!
It’s an amazing company and the welcome as an acquisition company was very warm. Not without its challenges, as any acquisition is, but the opportunity to work along side such an esteemed organization. I wear the badge proudly and to now have spent just over a year in the company I realized there is so much opportunity to succeed.
Meanwhile in the parallel timeline…
Like a good Quentin Tarantino film, there is always a parallel storyline happening at the same time. Back at my second VMworld with Turbonomic (then VMturbo) I had kept in touch with Irfan. We met outside the Yerba Buena garden and chatted for a while. It was so cool that here we were in San Francisco as friends in the industry, and in life. Even more interesting was when I told him that it was a strange to imagine we were working at what many thought were competing companies.
Irfan always put aside that and said something that always resonated with me: “Lives are long; jobs are short”
It’s rare to find people like that. It was why I was excited along the way in 2020 to be able to reconnect and help Irfan with some advisory for a really exciting startup venture he was working on called Magnition.
I loved the chance to do some Go To Market strategizing with Irfan and take the lessons I had from years with my team at Turbonomic to help solve a problem on the content engagement side. One of the biggest challenges faced was being able to create compelling technical content that is targeted to technical users who don’t want to read things that begin with “According to <major analyst firm>, by 2025….”. Luckily that’s my jam.
Who else shares this problem I think I see?
While all this has been I’ve also got another passion project doing hundreds of podcasts where I interviewed 200+ startup founders and incredibly insightful guests from the tech industry and many other people of interest from all over the world.
The more I talk to a lot of these founders, the more that it mirrored the challenge that Irfan was trying to solve where we needed compelling, strategic technical content to engage technical practitioners and the technical audience in general, while also making sure that it fit the overall content marketing strategy for the company.
It was going to take dedication to solve this problem. Dedication that would require my full attention.
So, as I like to say…we did a thing. My last day at IBM was July 5th. Thank you to everyone who made this possible.