My Story

I’ve been in the Technology space for over 25 years and have held many positions in corporate in Senior Management, Executive Sell Side, Program Supply Side, and on the Demand side in Executive Business Development over the course of my professional career.

My employers have been Fortune 50 Global Technology and GSI organizations including KPMG, Deloitte, SUN, VMware, IBM, Atos, Oracle, and Cisco Systems just to name a few.

All of these popular tech “brand name” corporates have their own strengths and weaknesses and ill definitely take some time to compare and contrast them in future blog posts. Good, bad, and ugly! However, in retrospect, the work cultures of these organizations are so drastically different from each other and that has been the one constant thought-out my career. So much of the way people behave in one tech org vs another is usually predicated on how effective the executive leadership team is outside the numbers game.

Philosophical Grounding

The way I see it is that life is divided into two halves. For simplicity, let’s call it the first half and the back half and assume we live to be around the century mark.

So with regards to my first half, I can say with certainty that it was not all rainbows and unicorns. There were some really high highs and even more really low lows. No pain no gain right?

Fast forward to the current chapter. Director of Client Engagement at a publically traded Digital native consultancy where I work with clients to accelerate their journey of end-to-end digital transformation journey’s to give them the best chance possible to achieve their desired business outcomes.

As Director at a Digital native consulting firm, I have the privilege of working alongside some really amazing people and many of these people are leading their organizations down the rabbit hole of DX. In my blog, I tend to combine all my work and life learning experiences together, share ideas, and interests and distill the data into edible morsels for y’all to consume. Hopefully, the information will provide you with some value and new fresh perspectives and relevance in your own journeys whatever and wherever that may be.

I’ve also been an entrepreneur in the past and had side hustles as CEO of an Internet 1.0 Incubator and Consultancy and then several years later President and CEO of XFLY Systems and a Founding Partner at the Drone Media Group

XFLY was an Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) manufacturing company that developed heavy lifting (100kg+) industrial-grade Drones that were used on Hollywood feature films all over the world and in many high-risk Industrial applications from Firefighting California Wild Fires, to Search and Rescue Operations and Agricultural applications from crop spraying to researching the Rainforest Canopy.

If you are into Drones you can check out my IEEE Spectrum featured article.

Me second, from left- "Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Myths & Realities. moderated by Brian Fung (Washinton Post )
TJ second, from left- “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Myths & Realities. moderated by Brian Fung (Washinton Post )

Fast forward to today, where I work with the largest Cloud Services providers like AWS, Azure, and Google, and many of the Fortune 500 organizations and Governments that consume cloud services helping them get the most out of their investments while transforming their Software Applications to ultimately Transforming their core business.

Obsession

Back in the ’90s, I started teaching myself how to create websites, code, and design. The internet was in the early beginnings of what it is today and at that point in time, I was just in the early career beginnings. The web was buzzing and at the time people were starting up dot com’s daily. It was hyper-growth and I was on the cusp of a movement that put us where we are today.

I quickly jumped on the bandwagon after I realized how exciting the trend was going to be and decided to go all in. I literally got my hands on every book that was published on the topic and probably read about 60 books that single year as well thousands of online posts and news articles. I really began to live in it, breathe it and obsess over it.

Nothing else really mattered for the good part of four years. This knowledge however did come with a hefty price tag; it took over every waking moment and every cell in my body for the good part of 4 years as if I was building up the energy necessary just like running a marathon. But one day, one realization changed everything.

Hiding in Plain Sight

This notion had such an impact on me that it is now the name of my Podcast. Part of my training included going to as many internet user groups/events (today’s equivalent of meet-ups). One event, in particular, changed everything.

I ran into a Senior Executive and IT leader at one of these random events. She was part of the Executive leadership team at OppenheimerFunds a leading financial firm at the time and we began talking about how the Internet was revolutionizing the Technology and Business landscape. The conversation ended up going on for over two hours and to my amazement, she had very little knowledge of how to leverage the Internet in her business.

Keep note that this is an IT veteran who was likely making close to $1M per year in base salary with bonuses sometimes equal to or exceeding that. I was absolutely mind-blown that someone with this stature and title was absolutely clueless when it came to leveraging the Internet for positive business outcomes. It seemed like she was asking me questions to learn how she could leverage this new technology for her firm.

It was at this moment that the light bulb went off in my head and realized that my knowledge of the new Internet era exceeded most when it came to anything Digital / Web-related.

I kept this very notion in my back pocket over the next 10 yrs. This one breakthrough was the hi-octane, long-lasting fuel that would drive me forward for years to come. Even though the dot com bubble was shattered into millions of pieces in 2008. It was more of a confidence-inspiring affirmation; and sort of a chip on my shoulder.

The game-changing realization was Hiding in Plain Sight.

Approaching The Back Half

The confidence discussed above began to slowly erode over time. It felt like a board game where you have to go back to start over and over again. I had a really good level of experience but even with solid results, I kept hitting a plateau that I could not break. Here we go again on the roller coaster ride. Ugh! WTF!

This plateau persisted throughout my late 30’s and ALL of my 40s. I was not making more money (or making less at times) and was not getting promoted into higher roles. Was this the glass ceiling we all hear about? I was living in Austin for a good part of this timeframe, and traveling every week to the East and West coasts and it was really starting to suck the life out of me.

At that time I had weekly travel M-F and then would have team calls at night from 8 pm to about midnight with my offshore team. I was burning the candle at both ends. After almost three years at this pace, I woke up one morning and could not get out of bed. I was fried!

I had just realized my first corporate burnout and ended up having to take time away from work to recharge the batteries. This shit is for real folks!

When I got back to work there were aftershocks. The work I had been killing myself for had been assigned to another fresh mule and things slowly started to decline on the work front as I tried to make my way back towards my next body of work. The struggle was real and it was time to step back and re-invent myself.

The Back Half

Today, now in the back half of my life, I can’t really say that I’ve been able to break through that glass ceiling but the real question is should I even keep trying? The first time I tried that it almost put me in a grave. I’ve gained a lot in personal growth since then. Better sleep, work-life balance, in fighter shape!

So now that I have my body and mind back on track, do I really want to move into the Executive ranks in the corporate world? Working for the man, and continuing to keep trading globs of scarce limited time for a slight bump in a paycheck with twice the amount of stress? Not really sure at the moment!

Is this the A-HA moment? The new lens that is now coming into focus? Is it more about people, relationships, self-awareness, living healthy, and creating more Impact? Perhaps… Is this a new beginning to the second half? Maybe… Is this a new transformation in life? Is this a transformation opportunity? So many questions with very few answers. Here are a few things in my process of making sense of the situation. Transformation is iterative so it is likely to be enhanced in the future based on what is working and what is not.

Curiosity

My sense of curiosity about the unknown is what fueled many of my successes in life so far. Leaning in or leaping into the unknown and figuring shit out through hypothesis, trial and error was one of my first real breakthroughs and not necessarily the end result.

The journey was more valuable than the final outcome! Furthermore, this chaotic and often expensive way of “leaping in” has turned out to be the most gratifying and rewarding part of my achievements.

Transformation

Transformation” means a lot of things to a lot of people. For me, it’s about continual change and improvement. It’s a mindset that starts with the willingness to challenge the status quo, look for new ways to do things, and embrace change both personally and professionally.

Change

Change is all about making things better. It’s about taking what you have and making it better.

Continuous Improvement

The world is changing faster than ever before, and people and businesses alike must change with it to stay relevant.  That’s why I’m interested in re-imagining and re-inventing the way we do things.

I’m constantly looking for new ways to do things, and I’m always experimenting with new ideas. I think that there’s always room for improvement and that we can always find new ways to do things better.

I believe that technology can help us solve many of the world’s problems, and I’m always looking for new ways to use technology to make a positive impact on the world.

Leadership

Leadership is about setting the tone and heading in the right direction. It’s also about inspiring people to do their best and being a role model. I’m a big believer in servant leadership, which is all about putting the needs of others first and helping them develop and succeed.

Breakthroughs and Fundamental teachings are found in the most unexpected situations.

Relationships

I’m a fan of the power of relationships, and trust is absolutely earned. Trust is a foundational pillar of all relationships.

I also think that conflict is a natural part of any relationship and that it’s how we handle conflict that defines the quality of our relationships.

We should always strive to be our best selves and we should never settle for anything less. We should always be learning and that we should never stop growing. Growth is a fundamental human need, and I think that it’s what makes us truly alive.

We must become masters of our verbal language so we can communicate contextually to resolve conflicts and strengthen our relationships. If we are going to create a positive impact on the world we need to get our own houses in order first.

Impact

Finally, when we have a goal in mind, it all comes together. We have the ability to make a positive impact on the world. To create a brighter future for everyone by establishing greater equality and inclusion. This objective spurs us into action. Our discussions and feelings are guided by our objectives.

The use of technology to promote goodness. It’s not simply a call to arms for launching an open future for everyone. It’s recognizing that if we want it to happen, we’ll all need to collaborate. If we consider this as individuals or leaders, we won’t get very far, but as a society, we might achieve a great deal more.

Going Forward

So today this is ultimately my why as far as I know it. Searching for maximizing my impact in the back half. We can make a difference in this world. We can leave our mark on the planet and we can do this by doing things so much better than in the past. So that’s what we’re going to do: let’s get started!