OpenBadges, badg.us & Community IT

I’m very excited to announce that the Badg.us website has fully transitioned over to Community IT Ops infrastructure!

Badg.us is a site where anyone can create a series of Open Badges to recognize skills, achievements and interests. This platform is available for free and intended to provide an easy option for issuing interoperable badges that align with the Open Badges metadata standard.

This took a lot of effort from the team but I specifically want to acknowledge Edmund Wong.

We are leveraging our HP Cloud OpenStack infrastructure as best as we can, including HP’s DBaaS and LBaaS. This allowed us to focus on the website & app and let the “cloud” handle the rest of the infrastructure. Edmund documented our setup, should you want to spin up your own version of Badg.us.

One of the core tenants of Community IT Ops is education. In fact, the Mission Statement even says so:

How we do it
Teaching and education are core to our mission and values. We mentor and teach today’s skills and help put those skills to practical use by hosting and running production sites and services. We use OpenBadges to acknowledge skills and accomplishments.

I’m extremely excited – and happy – that this is the first service that Community IT Ops stood up.

A big thanks to everyone involved.

ps. Maybe you want to get involved?

Expect the unexpected

Embrace the unexpected.  It might be the best experience ever.

Back in December I was at a leadership retreat. I had the chance to stand in front of a group of people and practice story telling. Somewhere in the middle of telling that story, the ending changed.

Expect the unexpected.
This was the story of my 2011 trip to Budapest when I lost my passport.

maxthesaxI took my first solo trip to Europe and made my way to Budapest with a friend over the weekend to see Parov Stelar at Boloton Sound. Excellent concert marred only by the fact that the night before I had lost my passport. On a Friday night and the US Embassy didn’t open until Monday morning. My flight was Sunday morning.

The story was supposed to be about how utterly horrible it is to lose your passport. About what a major inconvenience it was. About how I hated Budapest.

But the story changed.

I had all of Sunday to myself and if you’ve never been to Budapest in July I’ll tell you it’s one, if not the, hottest & most humid place on earth. I spent all day Sunday, miserable, hopping from one air conditioned coffee shop to another. Something to drink & free wifi.

As I shared my story I remembered that every coffee shop I visited played music.

Music tells a story
budapestbridgeAs I wrote back in March, at some point I learned that life without music is a waste. It often bookmarks points in time. It was the sound track to family vacations.

As I wandered around Budapest on that budapest-trainshot Sunday, I built a playlist of music – a soundtrack of my Sunday in Budapest – I heard while in random coffee shops. Some I had heard, some was new to me.

My story changed
As I tried to wrap up my story and how terrible it was to lose a passport, as I told my story of walking around picking up new music, suddenly the end of my story changed.

The play list of music I collected that Sunday is still on my phone. I listen to that playlist and it takes me back – instantly – to that Sunday.

My story telling ended with me realizing that that one day in Budapest on my own sits firmly in the list of top life events. Despite the heat. Despite the inconvenience.

Expect the unexpected.

developing my brand (week 4) ~ LinkedIn & story telling

[This is fourth in a series I started three weeks ago on creating my personal brand. I missed my own publishing deadline for this past week and I apologize for that. I started a new job this week at Lookout and as any first week can do, shifted my learning priorities.]

Creating Your Personal Brand – Week 4

mrz-linkedinMy social media channels largely revolve around Twitter and Facebook. LinkedIn wasn’t something I spent too much time cultivating.

That is, until this past August when I started interviewing. I completely understand the importance of LinkedIn but since, for the past seven years, I wasn’t job searching, it didn’t feel important.

Week 4 came at a good time.


“One of the biggest reasons to have a great personal brand is that when it comes to getting a job, having a well-defined, well-known version of your awesome professional self is extremely helpful. So that’s why today is all about taking your personal brand and using it to whip your tired old LinkedIn profile into shape! ~ @popforms


Building a LinkedIn Profile

As a hiring manager myself, LinkedIn was where I’d go to read someone’s story before I interviewed them.

I looked at my LinkedIn profile page – my story – as three parts:

  1. About me
  2. Where I’ve worked
  3. What matters to me

About me

I happened to be refreshing and moving my blog at the same time as I was updating my résumé/CV. Updating my LinkedIn profile went hand-in-hand with this. I focused first on my “about” page and then rolled that into versions I felt went best with LinkedIn or on a CV.

You should know what makes me me and who mrz is after reading this.

Where I’ve worked

This has always felt like a very tactical, bullet point-ish section but also an essential part of my story. I think a bulleted list is important but why not start off with a story?

For my role at Mozilla, I told a very short story in two sentences:

As Mozilla’s first Network Engineer, it was my responsibility to build Mozilla’s initial data center presence in San Jose, including building a network from scratch. In 2008 I took over management of a seven person IT/Ops team, including Desktop Support and over saw the build out of two international data center locations and eventually grew IT/Operations to a team of over 65 distributed around the globe.

I followed this with a short bullet list of highlights that every hiring manager – myself included – likes to look at.

What matters to me

I have to give an overdue hat tip to my wife. Her CV focused nearly entirely on her volunteer work at the grade school and other local groups. That inspired me.

Outside of my family and work there are a number of other things I do that matter to me. Without these, I am not me.

Reflecting on this actually made me edit my about page to include Causes that are dear to me.

One last thought

In Jake Wood’s article, “5 Lessons On How to Build High Impact Teams“, he mentions that one of the key areas to building a team is to build a brand that inspires.

That shouldn’t be limited to just teams. My personal brand should tell my story. It should inspire.

You can judge for yourself how well I did.

happy birthday son

wnz-03Son,

A decade ago you entered my life. A decade ago you fundamentally changed me. I thank you for that.

A decade ago you turned one horrific date – September 11 – into a celebration. I thank you for that.

You make me realize every day that I am a father first and everything else is secondary. I thank you for that.

I try my best to be the best for you. Sometimes I’m sure I falter but you appear more forgiving than I am. I thank you for that.

You’ve allowed me to share all my passions with you – biking, computers, baseball, movies. I thank you for that.

I see the way your mind works, the way you create and invent and I stare in awe. Utter awe, even if it means I have to clean up a seemingly endless pile of Legos. And even then, I thank you.

I was so excited to see you that, on the morning you were born, I raced home from the hospital to shave! I wanted to look my very best for my boy.

In fact, I was so excited to see you that shortly after you were born at 5:11p I wrote this short story to add to your website:

wnz-06

Mommy started having contractions Wednesday night around 5pm. An hour later Daddy took us to the hospital and Mommy got comfortable for a long night ahead of her. Nurse Wendy said it was a full moon! Grandpa and Grandma Toosky stopped for a short visit.

On Thursday, after a lot of hard work (and several visits from my new family), I was born! Daddy helped cut my umbilical cord while Nurse Sue checked me over. Daddy says I was very well behaved and very alert – I didn’t cry at all until Nurse Sue gave me a quick bath. But I really liked when she washed my hair! Daddy said I had to get all fancy for Mommy.

At night, I slept, Mommy tried to sleep and Daddy kept watch over his new family.

In the last decade I’ve seen you crawl. I’ve seen you fall. I’ve seen you try. I’ve seen you cry, smile, laugh and bring joy to those around you. I’ve see you take your first steps (on the kitchen island!), your first train, your first plane, your first everything.

I’ve woken in the middle of the night to comfort you and not thought twice about it. And you’ve rewarded me by reading to me, by holding me, by telling me “Dad, you made me happy today.”

Son: You make me happy every single day. And for that I say thank you and wish you a happy 10th.

~ Dad

on starting @ lookout

Lookout

Those who don’t follow me on Facebook or LinkedIn probably don’t know this.

I have a new job.

That’s right. I’m joining the team at Lookout on Monday, September 9.

I can’t be more excited!

Getting ready

For the past two weeks I’ve been reading books and putting thought into my “First 100 Days” (and learned to blame FDR for this 100 day notion).

I’ve met with with my mentors (you all have mentors, right?), with my friends, and importantly, with my new co-workers. I’ve had breakfast with some, lunch with others and a baseball game with yet others. (My wife’s helped too!)

(I’ve also spent a little time learning chef & OpenStack.)

What I have right now is a very rough agenda. Not really a 100-day plan but an outline knowing that the first month or so will be immersed learning. Learning a new culture and a new dialect with its own set of acronyms and cadence.

But.

I. can. not. wait. to. start.

Why Lookout?

In “You’re in Charge–Now What?: The 8 Point Plan“, Neff & Citron suggest that as people begin to size me up and figure out who I am, I should find a way to share the reasons I took this job. So,

I started talking to Lookout nearly 5 weeks ago over a cup of coffee and throughout the interview process, I was struck by this common sense of passion. Struck by a sense of passion and excitement that started from that very first cup of coffee.

Struck that every interview felt like a conversation and not merely an interview.

Lookout, Fort KnoxStruck with the complexity of the technology and the essential question – how do you secure mobile devices? –  while knowing that the next billion users won’t be desktop users but mobile, knowing that users have content on mobile devices that define their life, content that would be better stored in Fort Knox than in someone else’s hands.

And somewhere in the middle I distinctly recall knowing that these are people I want to work with.

What am I going to be doing?

At my core, I’m an Operations guy. Always have been. I love building systems that scale. Systems that break but don’t wake me up because they broke.

I also love building and helping lead excellent teams. I love seeing people do amazing things.

I pour my heart and mind into figuring out how to scale infrastructure (and teams!) to help grow to hundreds of millions billions of users.

So I join Lookout as Director of Operations because these are the challenges that make me tick.

developing my brand (week 3)

Creating Your Personal Brand – Week 3

I have a brand. How do you find me?

Week 3 is about taking control of my “online turf” and making it easy for someone to find me.

My brand should be consistent. It’s not but it should be.

“Consistency is key. Make it really easy to find you online. Keep your handles consistent across platforms, and try to keep your tagline or bio similar as well. When people see your profile or website, they should know it’s the same person whose LinkedIn they were just looking at. Use one headshot, or similar ones, so your face is easily identifiable.”

Get a domain & email address

Ages ago I grabbed velvet.org and this has long been my email domain (and if you’ve been following me long enough, you can figure out my email address).

When I moved my blog from my former employer I purposely chose mrz.velvet.org. As I said back in Week 1 I already knew my brand was encapsulated around “mrz“.

Domain & email address? Check.

Social media

Facebook, LinkedIn & Google have some crazy limitation on name lengths. Has to be no less than 5 characters.

Here’s where I’m stuck and where I’ve compromised and used a different format. Not ideal, sure, but I’m consistent there – mzeier.

Perhaps I’ve just rationalized or settled on this – I don’t project my brand on Facebook or Google but I sure would be real happy if someone at Facebook/Google helped me break this rule.

Social media? Check (with a caveat).

Headshot.
cropped-mrz-nsid2011-thinking.jpg

My most favorite head shots come yearly when I join a crazy cohort of people who stop shaving in December.

I go a little overboard every year and take a bunch of pictures and one becomes my headshot for the year.

Headshot? Check.

developing my brand (week 2) ~ name that brand

[This is a second in a series I started last week on creating my personal brand.]

Creating Your Personal Brand – Week 2

i-am-mrzName that brand

Week 2. My brand should be built to last, people should be able to immediately recognize me based on the brand I’ve publicly shared.

Last week I said that my brand was encapsulated within my name – mrz.

It has a story behind it. It may be hard to pronounce (but then I blogged about it, adding to the story). I worked hard to make it my Twitter handle ~ @mrz.

Communicating to the world about what makes me special

My homework this week is to tackle the following questions:

  1. Define my audience
  2. Where are they now?
  3. Who are the influencers in my sector?

My audience

Everyone.

I say “everyone” but I tend to be aware of who I’m speaking to in various formats. My brand doesn’t change. My language might but the core essence of me – who I am – does not.

My thoughts I share on Facebook are different than the thoughts and voice on Twitter and what I share on LinkedIn is different than both of those.

Where does my audience hang out?

Where does my audience consume content? For me this tends to be mostly Twitter and blogs. It’s likely why I tweet & blog in the fashion I do.

Where do others in my space hang out?

When I look around at others I learn from – both in IT/Operations and in Leadership – I find I mostly follow them on Twitter and subscribe to their blogs.

My reputation preceded me.

Or rather my brand preceded me. Let me explain.

In June 2013 I was in Chicago for two days attending Year Up’s National Summit. Chicago is very different than the Bay Area. Much more suit & tie – I was probably the only one not in dress slacks.


“The more people who know about it, the less work you have to do to build up your credibility from scratch with every new project or introduction. It makes you familiar, and being familiar means being welcome to the table.” ~ @popforms


On the first night of the Summit I was introduced during dinner as “mrz”. In a very business setting. There was this “ah ha” moment when people would run into me.

No one knew  who “matthew zeier” was but they knew who “mrz” was.

Instant street cred.