Nerd Journey 038: Jon Hildebrand and Recovering From a Layoff

Welcome to episode 38 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two VMware Solution Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we have part two of our interview with Jon Hildebrand, where we get to hear the story of his layoff and recovery from being laid off.

Original Recording Date: 05-06-2019

Topics – Jon Hildebrand Part 2 – Layoff and Recovery

1:55 LightEdge Layoff

  • During year 4 at LightEdge, things were on the uptick like implementing new technologies, bringing in public cloud, etc.
    • Azure was a preferred partner, and they were looking heavily at Azure Stack.
    • They also looked at network virtualization and other technologies specific to service providers that could add greater value / provide additional services to customers.
  • There were internal rumblings about acquiring another company.
    • Borrowing money for an endeavor like this often leads to trimming high salaried positions.
    • On the morning of April 16th, 2018 Jon was asked to come into his manager’s office and was let go.
      • The experience was surreal. He had heard of others experiencing this but had never experienced it himself.
      • They gave him no time to box anything up (told he could come do that in a week) to prevent others at the company from seeing what was happening.
      • Jon told his wife "I guess I get to go look for a new job."
      • Jon was supposed to present at a VMUG UserCon in St. Louis the next day and no longer had a laptop to use. He was more worried about this at the time than the fact that he had just lost his job.
      • There was a feeling of a weight being lifted off his shoulders.
  • During the last couple of years with LightEdge, Jon had been blogging and attended analyst type events like Tech Field Day.
    • Jon’s manager encouraged him to attend these events as a personal benefit and a benefit to the organization.
    • While Jon was at these events, he realized there was something else he was looking for but couldn’t specifically identify it.
      • Losing his job allowed him to focus on finding what he really wanted to do.
  • Jon’s best job search advice is to expand the personal network. Always be in communication with even the farthest fringes of your network.
    • He ran into end of fiscal quarters with different companies when applying.
    • Jon ran into Andrew Miller of Rubrik (at the time) and ended up starting the interview process with that company, but their timeline did not align with his.
      • One of the folks at Rubrik encouraged him to look at Cohesity as an option.
      • Jon found an open position for a Technical Marketer role and applied.
      • Howard Marks happened to drop Jon’s name as a potential candidate for the same role.
    • Shortly thereafter, a whirlwind Friday consisting of 4 back-to-back interviews transpired. Jon had an offer by the following Wednesday.
      • He did not know how much of a pay bump the job would offer, but it turned out to be around 33%.
    • The personal network helped him land that specific position.
  • In a roundabout way, starting his career as a consultant put Jon on the path to where he is now.
    • At the end of the day it is about education. This role allows Jon to interact with the community in a number of ways.
      • He’s been a presenter at Tech Field Day a few times now after having previously been a delegate.
  • Jon’s manager was the reason he was content at LightEdge. The level of commitment to Jon’s development this manager showed was atypical and more like a mentor / leader, but it was a major contributor to his later success.
    • Words of wisdom from Jon’s former manager – "All of my best employees should quit on me at some point."
    • If you find a mentor who inspires you in this way, learn as much as you can.
    • Jon eventually needed the push out of the nest.
  • There is something to be said about being in a comfortable position. Jon felt like the last 18 months at LightEdge may have left him blinded by comfort.
    • The outlet was going to tech events and getting involved in blogging.
    • "It’s almost like you’re two different individuals, but I never see that person in the office. I want you to marry those two individuals."
      • It took a compelling event to eventually marry these.
  • The combination of technology and talking to people without being beholden to a sales pipeline is extremely enjoyable for Jon.
  • How did turning a hobby into a career turn out for Jon? Does he still like it?

32:08 Lessons Learned

  • Jon never would have imagined he would do something that required public speaking.
  • Getting challenged during your career tees you up to look for the next challenge.
    • Jon likes his challenges to be a little greater than they used to be.
    • First, he had to conquer the people problem. From there, that exploded the personal network. He had so many people tell him that, and then he lived it.
  • It seems like Jon went through the Area of Destiny exercise mentioned in Episode 20.
  • What’s next for Jon?
    • He’s told himself a number of times he will never go into management. If you don’t feel like you can manage people, go and do it.
    • Think back to The Phoenix Project.
    • "The only thing holding yourself back is you."
  • Jon talks about being locked in the back of a truck with Chris Colotti. Should we do a follow up episode with both of them?
  • How could someone get into Technical Marketing?
    • Look into Tech Field Day events.
    • Can you write and articulate well in your blogs?
      • All you need is that one person to read it and say "this is good stuff. I agree with that."
      • Writing a first blog post is difficult for people, but you have to start somewhere.
  • Contact Jon Hildebrand on Twitter @snoopj123.

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