We are just about halfway through March now, and with that, a lot of the major IT industry influencer programs have kicked off. I am extremely excited to be a part of a few of these for 2018. Yes, a lot of them may have fancy titles, but that is somewhat beside the point. In most cases, folks are accepted based on contributions that they have made, usually in a public fashion.
I was excited to see that I had been accepted as a Cisco Champion for 2018. Although I had never applied in the past, I took some of my own advice: you’ll never be accepted if you don’t apply. So, why did I apply? I’m trying to branch out not just my knowledge, but also my peers.
I am by no means a networking person. I know the basics, and I’ve taken a CCNA course, but I don’t live or breathe the stuff daily. That means I get very rusty in some cases, while in other situations I may not be at all familiar with a technology. My mindset here was that if I am able to find peers to hang around I can hopefully start learning by osmosis. The Cisco Champion program definitely provides access to peers, so hopefully, I’ll be able to help contribute back to the program while still growing.
2018 marks my third year as a vExpert. I still remember when I realized that this was something I wanted to pursue: it was my first VMworld in 2015. By the end of the event everyone who I had met, folks who I seemed to make a connection with, I realized that they were all vExperts. I had some encouragement from Ariel Sanchez to apply, and he also helped with a wonderful unofficial on-boarding process.
The benefits from this program are highlighted with NFR licenses for just about every VMware product. This is huge if you run any sort of a home lab – especially useful for studying or learning new technologies. Other benefits include subscriptions from companies like Pluralsight and Ravello Systems. Some of the real value is in the other vExperts though. If you are part of this group, be sure to hop into vExpert Slack. There is a lot of brain power in that group.
I am beyond thrilled to be invited back for the 2018 Veeam Vanguard class. I have written about this program many times, and if you ever ask me in person, you’ll find out that I have a lot of things to say about it – all excellent. There are two things that really make this program unique: 1) the relatively small size (controlled on purpose) and 2) the people.
Given the small size, and the contagious desire to learn from everyone involved, this is a program that has had the largest impact on me. I am continually forcing myself to do more, whether it is blogging, learning, presenting, etc.. Having role models like Jorge De La Cruz, who is a blogging machine (and now works for Veeam), forces you to up your game. At the same time, I can ask any single Vanguard, or anyone on the Veeam Teeam for help, and I’ll get it. The reverse is true as well: anytime I can help out a fellow Vanguard, I jump at the chance.
So why bother with these programs? Why do I do the things required to get in? Because I like learning, I like growing as a person, and I like helping people. Each of these programs has different specialties, but most of them take vCommunity activities into account. At no point do I want to take any of these programs for granted. Yes, there are some great benefits, whether it be swag, licenses, or exclusive content. I would be lying if I said I didn’t care about those things, but they aren’t my primary driver.
I apply and respect these programs because they keep challenging me and it is a chance to help others. They also give me a chance to network with peers who would otherwise be seemingly “out of my league”. I’ve also run across many folks who don’t feel like they would qualify for some of these programs. My stance on that: there is no harm in applying – push yourself out of your comfort zone.