Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
Are you always learning?
Hi, everyone. Leo Notenboom here for askleo.com. I was challenged this morning, actually, to think a little bit about what one word might characterize my career, my path, my work, my life, what I do. And it was an interesting exercise, because it’s something that I’ve thought of at least in concept for a long time.
Literally, for decades. One conclusion I came to is I’m not sure that I can encapsulate it in one word. It’s looking like it’s more of a phrase than anything else, but it’s a good exercise to go through, because as it turns out, it really has affected many of the decisions in my career and in what I’ve chosen to do today.
As I matured as an engineer at Microsoft, one of the things that I was very fortunate, actually to be able to take advantage of while I was there was the flexibility to have several different positions over my 18-year career there. And it didn’t take long for me to realize that there were a couple of things that really impacted whether or not I would enjoy a particular position, or whether or not it would turn out to be something really painful.
The first, not relevant to what we’re talking about today, was who I worked for. The person that I would be working with, but the second most important thing, and actually the thing that I would use as I was looking at opportunities around the company, was simply: What would I learn? What would this opportunity bring me that I didn’t already have – that I hadn’t already done? What new things would walk away from that opportunity with if I took it?
And I have to say that those two things in particular, really helped form my career at Microsoft and my career thereafter now that I think about it. Now, you might think that Ask Leo! hasn’t really done that much. I mean it’s the same thing I’ve been doing for 13 years. I’ve been answering your questions; basically, some of my stock answers are the very same answers that I’ve been giving for 13 years, because indeed, I do get many of the same questions over and over and over again.
But in reality, when you take a look at the things we’re talking about, for example, well technology is always changing. There’s always something new to be learned. There’s always something new on the horizon. What I’m doing today even, just recording this video for you is not something that was anywhere close to the radar 13 years ago.
No only is the technology we’re talking about, changing, but technology that I’m using is changing. Like I said, the video that I’m doing is not something I could have done 13 years ago. Things like YouTube, for example, either weren’t around or they were just starting. I do remember way back in the day when they were just starting, complaining that the resolution that they offered simply wasn’t good enough for me to do good screen capture for me to be able to show you things clearly on an online video. Of course, that’s all changed. It’s something that everybody can do very easily today.
The number of things that I can do, the ways that I can do them, the ways that I construct my website, the way that I interact with all of you, they’ve all changed. They’re all things that I’ve learned from and changed and grown from over these last 13 years. All in the guise of answering your questions.
So, it’s a really interesting position to be doing kind of the same thing for 13 years, and yet having so many wonderful opportunities to learn as I go along. One of my mottos, if you will, is that everything’s an experiment. Literally, everything I do, be it recording videos, be it writing articles, I’m always playing with something. I’m always wanting to tweak something; to try things out; to see how they work; to see if I can do things better.
This video right now that you’re watching is a wonderful example of that. It’s been a while but theoretically, when I produce this video it will be one of the first ones I’ve done with two camera angles. There’s the one in front of me, of course, but then there’s the one here off to the side where I’ve got a second camera running.
Not all experiments work. That’s why I call it an experiment. I originally had the two cameras set up last week when I did my video for Patreon. What I learned was that camera didn’t like the memory card that I installed, and in fact, failed silently. It actually went through the process of recording the entire video and gave me nothing.
Lesson learned – put in the right memory card, and the camera will work properly – we hope. If you’re seeing two angles on this video, then it did. Similarly, by now you may know that I’m planning on traveling overseas next week. When I do so, there are plenty of opportunities for me to learn different things about how technology will or will not work for me that will hopefully mirror, or at least, give me an insight into a lot of the problems that many of my readers, many of the people coming to me are facing on a semi-regular basis.
Maybe I’ll come up with some answers that we hadn’t thought about yet that will allow us to help more people with some of the problems that they face when they travel. It’s another grand experiment. I’m not going to do the experiment, but as I travel for whatever reason, those are the kinds of things I play with; those are the kinds of experiments I run, and to be honest, that’s the kind of fun.
That’s to me – that really makes technology and what I do for a living so interesting and so much fun because of all of these unknowns, all these things that are always coming up, always these opportunities to be learning something.
And if I had to narrow it down to one word: Learn. Learning. Or always learning, I suppose, which is why you can see it sounds better as a phrase. Always learning. I want to focus on, I’m trying to always be learning with what I do every day.
It’s driven not just my career at Microsoft but my career post-Microsoft. It’s really been part of making Ask Leo! a lot of fun for me. And it’s one of the things that I’ve mentioned people before that not only is there no shortage of questions about technology but there’s always something new. There’s always something interesting; there’s always something to learn and that’s where I get my kicks and that’s what I enjoy. That’s why I’m having fun doing what I’m doing.
I do want to share that this question was prompted by a video I watched this morning while I was on my elliptical. Again, something else that I creating wouldn’t have done 13 years ago (not the elliptical part. I was exercising for sure) but watching YouTube while I was doing that. Well, Evan Carmichael, he has posted a series of videos on a number of topics but this particular one was about the release or the upcoming release of a book he’s writing called Your One Word which basically focuses on this topic as a personal and business growth strategy. I have not read the book. I can’t recommend it because I haven’t read it but the concept got me interested enough to really be thinking about it because it dovetailed on to something that I’ve been thinking about already for a long time.
So, I’ll leave links for that video and that book or his promotion page for that book in case you’re interested. It looks like it will be interesting. I did, in fact, pre-order it so we’ll see what happens. But it’s one of those things to think about and thus my question for you, “Do you have one word or a phrase that sums up, I don’t know, your life, your career, your hobby, your favorite projects, whatever? Is there a word that you would use to characterize who you are and/or what you do?” I’d love to hear it.
Share it in the comments below. As always, here’s a link to this video posted on askleo.com. That’s where all the magic happens. That’s where I read all of the comments; that’s where the comments are moderated so we keep the trolls out. I’d love to hear what you think; I’d love to hear your ideas. I think we will all learn something interesting today. So, with that, as always, have fun, stay safe, take care and I’ll see you again next week. And … ha ha … don’t forget to back up! See ya!
Hey, if you found this video valuable, I could use your support. Visit patreon.com/askleo and pledge a couple of bucks a month or more depending on what kind of a reward you like. Yep, there’s rewards associated with it and what it will allow me to do is to focus on creating more valuable content like the video you just saw. Regardless of whether you do or not, thanks again for watching. I’m Leo Notenboom for askleo.com.
Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.
I'll see you there!