If you follow me on Twitter, you may have caught some of the story of chasing certifications in October and how the best-laid plans meant nothing to Hurricane Sandy. Despite the obstacles thrown in our way, my teammates and I charged ahead and succeeded in the Bold Plan that was Certification Quest, wherein 6 people achieved 10 EMC certifications in 3.5 weeks (I got 4 of them, taking 4 exams over a 2-day period).
Now that’s it’s over and we’ve had the chance to relax a little, I thought I’d pull together some of my thoughts about the whole process.
Technical certifications matter in this industry. They’re more than resume-builders. They matter to our customers, our partners, and us.
We’re a reseller. It matters to our customers that the engineer coming on-site to install a vendor’s solution has been certified in that solution by the vendor. They want to know that the people they bring in to work in their datacenter know what they’re doing.
As a reseller, our certifications matter to our vendor partners. Obviously, they want to know that the people representing them and their products know what they’re doing. It goes deeper than that, however. The time and effort put in to gain the expertise needed to get certified speaks to the level of commitment the reseller has to the relationship with the vendor.
Lastly, the certifications matter to us. We want to be able to represent ourselves to customers as experts. Customers we’ve done work for require no proof — our work speaks for itself. Customers we haven’t worked for previously don’t have that, however. Certifications serve as a third party vouching for us.
Give Them Room and People Can Accomplish a Lot
When we first came up with what we called our “Bold Plan”, most folks aware of the effort thought we we insane (I helped come up with the plan and I thought we were insane…). Ten certifications in 3.5 weeks? More than one of us needing to get more than one certification in that time? One of the certifications requiring attendance in a week-long class during that 3.5-week period? Any individual piece of the plan failing meaning the goal of the entire plan fails? It couldn’t be done.
Except that we did it. We made it a priority. We worked together. When we got discouraged or stressed out, the fact that our teammates kept working and pushing themselves gave us what we needed to get past it and get back to work.
We’re stronger as a team because we took on something difficult together. That we were “all-in” together, succeed or fail together, made the difference. I think the team would have been strengthened even if we’d lost — it was the shared effort itself that brought us together.
That we also had a shared victory made it even better.
Making Things Fun Makes Them Easier (and More Fun)
We didn’t need to call what we were doing “Operation Bold Plan”. We didn’t get extra points on any of the exams because we referred to it as “Certification Quest”.
But we did those things anyway.
The silliness and fun added by doing so helped bring us together, helped to make it less stressful, and, yes, just plain old made it more fun.
No matter how hard the work or how daunting the task, if you can’t find a way to have at least some fun with it, you’re doing something wrong…