2015 was tough just no getting around it. I started the year working with an amazing team as the CTO of a company I really believed in and the COO of the company that was supposed to be my future. By the end of 2015, I had been through 3 jobs (all of my own choosing), I had spent most of the year just trying to find out what my employers really expected of me and honestly never getting an answer. I don’t know if I can explain in words what it is like to go from the top of your game with people counting on you to make all the right decisions to people not even caring if you showed up to work.
But for me, it was a combination of things. For the first time ever I really experience depression. Having grown up with parent’s who deal with it and my wife who has made huge progress in her own mental health this was a shock to the system. But I found out that it is something that I can cope with when presented with it and push through so that was a win. Anxiety was not new to me. Starting in early 2014 when a critical project refused to go right no matter what I did I started having mild anxiety attacks and they really screwed with me. Being depressed is one thing but feeling totally out of control and on edge is a whole other thing that I was not really equipped to deal with. But through luck, hiking, and lots of time to let my mind and body disconnect from years of stress that I had never dealt with the anxiety slipped away and for now has become dormant. However, the hardest part was the self-doubt and that compounded both the depression and the anxiety.
After years of winning and moving forward, I had started to face failure no matter how hard I tried in my mid-30s. Let me tell you that is a tough time to face failure with 3 kids, a mortgage and staff counting on you not to fuck up. So when I jumped from a CTO/COO role to just being a cog in a big company I did so with plans to do more big things and get back on the winning path. Roughly a year later that had not happened. For about six months I had really been wondering if I had what it took to get back on the horse and do big things again. I considered a few things, start back from scratch and become the best network engineer I could be and downsize my expectations for my future. Honestly, that had lots of upsides and no matter how hard I try I would never be as good as most of my friends and engineers I look up to but I could do what I was good at which if fixing broken networks. Option 2 was to find a nice safe role where I was where I consistently bang out what was expected of me and hopefully retire in 30 years but there was lots of stuff wrong with that plan so I pretty much said screw that from day one. I am a lot of things but I am not lazy and willing to lay down and die. If I am going to go out it will be swinging even it is failing my CCIE for the 400th time if that is even possible. The final and most challenging (thus most likely for me to choose) was to go find a challenge that was bigger than my experience but allowed me to use my strengths. If you are reading this you probably already know what I chose.
Just short of a year on from the decision to take on a Sr. Director of Operations role things are still humming along. I write this hoping others see it and know that they are not alone when it feels like it is all coming unglued and years of work is slipping away. For me, it took a year of soul-searching and unexpected downtime followed by doubling down. Just remember to keep moving forward.
I want to apologize to all of you who may have been trying to use the site. Earlier this year I moved off of a shared hosting platform that had served me well for years. However in the year prior to the move things had just bogged down no matter how I tried to optimize the site. So I jumped over to DigitalOcean. I love these guys and if you have not tried them yet you should! They have all sorts of dedicated hosting options starting at $5 a month including one click applications setups and just raw servers. Anyway I had initially opted for the bare bones server mode and I did the entire LAMP and WordPress setup on my own. Ever since then I have had odd issues with poor MySQL performance and more recently (past few months) the database just quits responding to the application. So I decided to do yet another transition to one of the Digital Ocean WordPress installs. So here you find yourself on the new server with a clean install of all the goodies and hopefully I can start focusing on content not troubleshooting for awhile.
If you have been following me for any amount of time you will know that StaticNAT.com has gone through a few changes. This is no different. Sorry for any hassles this causes. The reality is that I moved to a dedicated host for this site I think about a year ago. Things have not been right since them. My RSS for the #WhoIS series has been borked, and all the iTunes listings have vanished. Randomly some posts have the wrong permalinks and that was an issue I fought for months to get somewhat working.
The good news is that I have really been learning and writing a lot in the past six months. I have used Medium for what little content I have published but as much as I LOVE that platform it is not mine and I don’t get control of my work. So I am doing a refresh on my core site. I plan on continuing to use Medium as an outreach tool for my past and future content here and in other places but StaticNAT is not going anywhere.
With that comes a new Theme: Make by The Theme Foundry which is free, easy and super clean. I really wanted the ease of use of Medium but the reality is that current blogging platforms don’t give that ease of use yet. Also a few years go I bought the great Genisis Framework but for what I am trying to do there are to many nerd knobs to turn to get a clean usable platform to write on.
Since the very beginning back in 2006 when I started this site I have been trying to figure out some branding. Branding is hard with you use a technical term like StaticNAT that does not have an icon to go with it. So this last year my friend Wes Kennedy Twitter did a rework of his blog WhiskyKilo.com and had his sister Thea Kennedy do up some new graphics and design principles for him. I love the branded no logo concept they ended up with and asked here to do something similar for StaticNAT. What you see with the new styling, colors, typography and images are all thanks to Thea!
Well to wrap this up keep looking for new stuff and bear with me a bit as I clean up some of the old messes. I will get the #WhoIS podcasts back up to where you can access them and hopefully do some more this year…no promises. Thanks for being my readers!
I want start off by saying congratulations to the team at Tail-F Systems! I have been in this business for a long time and I have seen some great companies come an go. When I was was at Network FieldDay 7 I was thrilled with Tail-Fs Presentation. These guys have amazing tech.
Every damn day we are pushed to succeed and I have made a pretty good career at doing just that. Yes things go wrong and sometimes I really mess up. But overall I win. But with every single big and even most small wins come hundreds of little failures. Those add up.