Invest In Non-Technical Training

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On October 18th I will be giving a presentation at a TechTarget event (details coming next week) on the FlexPod reference architecture and how it can enable companies to build their own private or hybrid cloud infrastructures. I have received formal training on FlexPod architectures from the manufacturer. I have experience designing and operating the components of a FlexPod architecture (in this case VMware vSphere, Cisco UCS blades, and NetApp arrays). I have put great effort and time into understanding what the “cloud” truly is (another article for another time). All of this qualifies me to speak on the subject, but I was asked to do the presentation because of my non-technical skills.

I was asked to do the presentation because I enjoy public speaking and blogging. I truly enjoy sharing information with the rest of the IT community, and I invest my free time and energy into developing the skills that make me a better presenter and writer. I read about and practice writing techniques to become a more effective communicator. I joined Toastmasters to polish and refine my public speaking skills. I research the psychology of PowerPoints.

Yes. I actually research the psychology of what makes a better PowerPoint presentation (minimalist templates, less words, more images, and no gimmicks in case you were curious).

None of this is technical training. None of it helps me to design infrastructure, configure systems, or keeps me up-to-date on the latest technology. Yet it gives me a competitive advantage in the business world against other IT professionals. I can do more than just work with the technology. I can present the technology to others. So could any IT professional who pursued these same skills, but I suspect that most do not because they believe that only technical skills matter in the profession of IT.

Great sales people study humor to improve the sales process and to put clients at ease. Champion wide receivers in the NFL have studied ballet to improve their balance and coordination. Famous chefs study foreign cultures in order to understand culinary trends. Let’s face it: The best professionals pull from outside of their profession to refine and master their chosen craft. We as IT professionals can benefit from this practice as well. The training may be non-technical in some cases, but that does not mean that it can not be applied to our more technical roles.

What non-technical training are you pursing in order to become a better IT professional?

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