How Cisco Live! Changed My Career…

As Cisco Live #CLUS approaches, I am reminded of way back in 2012, my first Cisco Live.    I was working for a cloud startup, and managed to talk my boss into letting me go.   Not always an easy thing to do in a small 8 person shop.


 Where it all started…

When I arrived, I found my way into Tom’s Corner – and ran into Tom Hollingsworth – @NetworkingNerd .  Tom was very welcoming, and introduced me to an entire community of peeps, many of whom I now consider family.

I became more active in social networking online, mostly twitter.    Slowly growing my social network online.  Until one day in 2015 – I launched my online presence known as CANTECHIT.   Just so we are clear,  That is CAN-TECH-I.T. – Although many over the years have called me “Can Tech IT”  either way, I am Justin.   A technology generalist geek.

After launching my blog in 2015, I wrote some articles that became rather popular, with my own writing style, and what has been described as a conversational blogging flare.     Some articles about Meraki as their platform was blooming, a few quick articles as the Cisco WebEX board was launched and to this day, and article about Windows 2012 WiFi Authentication continues to be my number 1 search hit.   I am really no good at SEO – to be honest I am not that great at english either.   However I am always sure that my premises is clean, and my premise is well thought out (That’s for you Tom).

Inspiration Hits and Content Rolls in

During 2015 and 2016, I really started to publish some of my best work.     I was getting some ping backs from other bloggers,  I had written about some strange technical issues I had run into and how I solved it.   I had also written some personal stories about my life.  One article I am very proud of is one on what I call “Dedication Sickness” and how it changed my life.   A link to it here.

I had also started working with the Cisco Champion program at Cisco, a team that delivers content for social influencers.  I had been accepted into their program, and happy to say to this day, I still working with the program even though I am now an insider.

Picked up by Gestalt IT and Field Day

For me much of this changed the day I got a call from Tom Hollingsworth, and it went something like this “Are you free Aug 10-12 we would like to invite you to Networking Field day 12”

This was pivotal for me.   I highly respected the “Field Day” team, their content and those involved, and to be honest did not feel like I had risen to the occasion, nor did I feel like I was good enough.  Quickly I found my stride in that program, and figured out that I was just me – and that is all they wanted.

Content Is King – Opportunities Abound

If we could all be tripping over content like crazy, blogging would be simple.   Finally, I had content available to me.  Between Cisco Live,  Cisco Champions and Tech Field Day, I had lots of content.     I was offered the opportunity to host Cisco Champions Radio, basically given the opportunity to have my own radio show, and interview anyone I wanted (They said, except @ChuckRobbins – but hopefully I will get to one day).    Along with many co-hosts, we interviewed everyone from Cisco TacOPS, to Enterprise Networking, to program founders.     A sample here.

In 2016, I was given the opportunity to talk at Cisco Live about Social Branding and how to build a social brand.

Professional Social Networking Was Key

All of these programs and opportunities gave me the opportunity to meet people, and build relationships with amazing professionals.   These were people that designed Cisco technologies, actually built Cisco silicon and held titles of distinguished engineer and an entire host of distinguished speakers.

Year after year went by, and I was provided the opportunity to work with, and learn from these amazing professionals, and they pushed me.

Empowering My Employer

As all of this was happening, I worked for a Cisco Partner.   My involvement, my blogging, my time with Tech Field Day helped me get better at my job.  I gained significant knowledge and became a better architect.  I was able to keep my company ahead of the curve, and help train others.  This lead to promotions, and leadership roles within my company.   Some of the things I learned, and some of the things I blogged about became major business opportunities for the company – that lead them to fully support my activities including going to Field Day, and Cisco Live every year.

I knock on Cisco Canada’s Door….

One Friday night, while updating some LinkedIN postings, I ran across a posting at Cisco Canada.   They were looking for someone for the Toronto Innovation Centre.    As I read the postings I kept thinking “There is no way this is real” and “Did they write this just for me”

There was zero hesitation.   I loved what I was doing – and I was working on amazing projects with amazing customers and together with my leadership team we had built an amazing professional services organization – but, this read like a dream.

So I brushed off my resume, cleaned up my cover letter and applied.    After a long process, many many many interviews (including 3 the day after my first daughter was born),  I made the call to my boss at the time and said “We need to talk”.

He told me “You have to go for it!”  he knew that this was my dream, and something that would turn into something great, and with his support, and that of my internal references.  I got the job.

Those internal references – are people I met as a part of my involvement in Cisco Live!.

Where I have landed, and why I am quiet.

Anyone who knows me in real life, knows I am hardly ever quiet.   Currently working with the Innovation Centres at Cisco (Not affiliated with my blog) I spend much of my day on confidential projects, or working with technologies that I cannot share publicly.      I also have been lacking the inspiration to write about something specific, and I never have written unless something specific pops up.   The work we are doing is revolutionary, and we are working on the latest in technology and solving many difficult problems for customers and we speak to 1000’s of people per year about our programs and talk to many students per year.   We all love what we do.

That is it… and some thanks….

So that is it,  Cisco Live, changed my career.  It was not without some hard work – but it all started with a visit to Live, and ending up in Tom’s Corner.  That resulted in joining the Cisco Champs, attending multiple Networking Field Day’s, even more Cisco Live’s and eventually now working as the Innovation Architect at Cisco.    So thanks to all of you that believed in me, and gave me a chance, and those that are continuing to support me.

See you at #CLUS 2019….

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