The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast

Daren Fulwell

January 30, 2024 Chris & Zoë Season 1 Episode 77
The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast
Daren Fulwell
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we chat with Darren Fulwell, a chief evangelist at IP Fabric, a network assurance platform.

Darren has been working in networking for more than 25 years and is passionate about network design, automation, and operation. He’ll share his journey from being a computer science student to becoming a network architect and consultant. He’ll also tell us how he got involved with Cisco’s certification advisory council and the INIT 6 initiative, a community effort to promote network automation skills and knowledge.

We’ll explore Darren’s views on the current and future trends of networking, such as cloud, DevOps, and AI. He’ll also give us some tips and insights on how to learn and master network technologies and certifications.

Join us for this fascinating conversation with Darren Fulwell.

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“ It was like Stardust.
I’d done stuff with bulletin boards before and dial-up and all this sort of stuff, but never really seen interactive networking.
And it was magic.
 
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[00:00:00] Chris: Hello, and welcome to the imposter syndrome network podcast, where everyone belongs, especially if you think you don't. My name is Chris Grundemann, and sadly we're missing Zoe Rose today, but it's still going to be a great episode. This is the Darren Fullwell episode, and I do really think you're going to enjoy it.

[00:00:26] Chris: Darren has been kicking around and networking for more than 25 years now, and he's passionate about doing network design right. He blogs about it. He contributes in communities about it, and he makes videos with his buddy, Malcolm Bowden about it. For Darren, it doesn't matter if it's on prem, in the cloud, wired, wireless, LAN, or WAN, software defined, intent based, or otherwise.

[00:00:45] Chris: It's all networking. Hey Darren. 

[00:00:50] Daren: Hi, I think you've done a great job already. Thanks, Chris. Yeah, I'm Darren Falwell. I'm a network old geezer. I mean, that's normally my, my description. Of what I am kind of trying to learn how to keep learning and keep changing and keep, keep growing in this space as it moves and changes under our feet.

[00:01:09] Daren: So, yeah, that's my back story. I suppose, uh, we'll see where this conversation takes us to how much more I expose. 

[00:01:18] Chris: Yeah. So let's dive right in. I think it's obvious at this point, I think that you are passionate about and experienced in networking technology. But I'm curious where that started. When did you first encounter networking and when did you know that was the path for you?

[00:01:33] Daren: Oh, that's a great question. So talk about the networking old geezer thing, right? I I'm in my fifties. I was a child of the eighties sort of growing up with home computers, right? That was, that was the thing. Everybody had the, the home micros. So it was almost inevitable that I was going to end up working in computers because that was just the thing that, that, that sparked my interest always was.

[00:01:56] Daren: And so I went to university to study computer science doing the, you know, the, the only thing that I could possibly have done. And in my first year, after my first year took a summer job working in it support, just, just to get me through the summer. And the very first thing that I did the first day I walked in there.

[00:02:16] Daren: Was start having to put together cables to connect computers together. I couldn't understand why people would want to do it. And then started to sort of see what this organization was using it for. And it was to basically do the equivalent, what we have now of online sales. These guys had sales order processing rooms with people phoning up and trying to place orders for things And then these orders had to get sent down to a warehouse And the network was there to make that whole process slicker so that every they could have a hundred or so people sat answering phones And those, those orders go and do their thing.

[00:02:51] Daren: And, and it was like magic. It was like stardust. I'd, I'd done stuff with bulletin boards before and dial up and all this sort of stuff, but never really seen interactive networking before. And it was magic, absolute magic. And so that, that was that really, I went back to university, studied hard. To understand networking technologies a bit better, and it all kind of went from there.

[00:03:17] Chris: So, does that mean your first job was, was building networking cables or were 

[00:03:21] Daren: My, my first, so my first real job, yeah, if you like, was actually sitting with cables, putting the connectors on, dealing with T pieces and having to be concerned about bridging and repeaters and, and I'll give you an idea of when it was.

[00:03:40] Daren: The vendor of our networking gear, we had, we had retics network bridges. We used to use. And the vendor came in for an education session one day to teach us about spanning tree, this brand new protocol that would help us, um, you know, with that, with the resilience of our network. And that was 1990, I want to say, so, uh, or 1991.

[00:04:02] Daren: So it was, uh, yeah, that was, that was it. And, and just completely hooked from the beginning. They had Novell servers, so we started looking at what networking looked like from a, from a server perspective. Obviously had to understand how the clients were all DOS PCs, right? So how all of that worked, the ground up, because none of these operating systems had native Networking capabilities, you had to build them on, right?

[00:04:29] Daren: So you had to learn from the very fundamentals of what does a signal look like on a wire, right up to what it means to have a repeater or a bridge in a network and how those things worked. 

[00:04:45] Chris: Yeah. It's wild for sure. And just, it's kind of the breadth of knowledge that was required to even make it, as you said, when you're networking work, you had to be in the PCs, I came, I think it sounds like maybe about 10 years after you, but still had lots of fun playing with, you know, IP chains and IP tables in Linux and trying to get things to work and, and get networking to function through that kind of perspective as well.

[00:05:04] Daren: So that's, that's one of the things, I mean, we'll, we'll talk about this as we go, I suppose, but. As time passes, I don't think things get simpler necessarily, but they just get more consumable, right? So you're able to, to consume network services, obviously a lot more simply than we, we could then, because so much more is built into the operating system and so much more is.

[00:05:26] Daren: It's provided for the network engineer to build solutions with. You don't have to worry about that, that sort of ground level stuff anymore, because it's just presumed that it's going to be there. And so you're, you're working on the layers that sit on top of that. So, 

[00:05:42] Chris: yeah. It's interesting for sure. And I think that maybe that plays into something maybe we'll talk about a little bit later is, is, you know, automation and these kinds of things.

[00:05:49] Chris: I think. Well, and maybe that's right now. I mean, so I think maybe fast forwarding interesting, right? All the way up to today, you are now a chief evangelist at IP fabric. What does that mean? What is, what is a chief evangelist? I mean, I don't think you're, you're, um, conducting sermons necessarily. But, uh, maybe 

[00:06:08] Daren: it depends, it depends on who's listening now.

[00:06:10] Daren: I mean, I suppose evangelism aside, you know, the, the main thing from my perspective, what I've been trying to do over, over say, let's say the last five, 10 years is to build networks that yes, they are technically technically able to deliver service. Yes, they are fast. They are efficient. They're all of those good things.

[00:06:33] Daren: You've got all of these, these incredible technologies that we've now got access to. These overlays, these SDN environments, the cloud stuff you mentioned earlier. These are all great, but in order for them to provide a service, they need to be consumable and they need to be maintainable and manageable and all of these things.

[00:06:52] Daren: And I think the problem is that we've, a lot of our tooling. That we've been using is probably not built in order to give that level of maintainability, that level of service. So, what I always tried to do was, when I was designing networks, was to consider, well, it's not just about bolting together the best technologies I can, it's about being able to make sure that once they are bolted together and doing their thing, that someone can support them, someone can maintain them, and someone can keep that service to be continuous.

[00:07:24] Daren: Because really that's the thing that everyone needs is the availability of service, right? So there are different aspects to that when I was a network architect. It was more about the making tech networking technologies work together in order to deliver that capability. But as I got more interested in automation, It became as much about looking at the tooling side of things and making sure that they helped in that, in that, that journey as well.

[00:07:49] Daren: And they made things easier to consume. And so working with IP fabric, it was kind of a natural extension to that because it's just a, it's a network assurance platform that, that gives you another layer of, of insight and another layer of. information that you need to deliver that service. This isn't about IP Fabric, this is about the direction, right?

[00:08:12] Daren: And for me, it's about how we're changing network operations to turn it into, to turn networking into that utility that we all want it to be. Um, it's just not there yet because it's still too complex to put together and understand. We have a conference that we're, as we record this, that we'll be attending in a couple of weeks time.

[00:08:31] Daren: But, um, as we, uh, as this goes out, we'll have happened, uh, I should imagine, and that's one of the topics that's, that's, that's close to both our hearts as a result of that, right. With Autocon, so. 

[00:08:42] Chris: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And I think, you know, going back to some of what you talked about earlier, I think, I mean, we try not to get too technical in the podcast.

[00:08:50] Chris: But this is something that touches my mind and my heart. And I think, you know, just drawing that comparison of those early days of networking, when you had to really understand so much more about it to kind of build it from the ground up on every device you touch, because they didn't have a networking stack at all.

[00:09:05] Chris: And to then, you know, fast forward 20 years or 30 years, and you can just plug an ethernet cable into the back of, you know, most PCs and plug it into a router and stuff just works or, you know, maybe 10 years further and now you just, you know, pick out your phone and it's online and you don't even do anything.

[00:09:21] Daren: Let's say, let's say everything's just, uh, you, you know, ubiquitous, isn't it? It just, it's just there. 

[00:09:27] Chris: And I think we're building the same kind of tooling for the actual operators of the network now, hopefully, right? When in kind of these observability and automation orchestration tools where more and more of these things will just kind of work and we can focus on how to use that service.

[00:09:39] Chris: The greater benefit, hopefully. 

[00:09:41] Daren: Yeah, and I think that's the key to it, isn't it? Is being able to say, yeah, that services will always be there. Now, what does that mean for us as users of the service? What does that mean we can do that we weren't able to do before? 

[00:09:54] Chris: So what do you love about your current job?

[00:09:57] Daren: Conversations like this. I mean, this is the beauty of it, right? I know this isn't supposed to be about the technical stuff, but this inevitably is when you get technical people talking together. And it is the being able to have these conversations, to see common threads, to see a trajectory that's familiar and be able to help and guide people along that path.

[00:10:20] Daren: I mean, that's really what my role is. So when we talk about evangelism, it's about being able to say, look, you know, I see this and I see this from, from many of the people I talk to, let me help you show you the way, right? There's the evangelism. It's, it's about being able to say, we're able to take you on that journey.

[00:10:40] Daren: So, you know, that's very much. Ties back to all of the things that I've always believed, I suppose, that I had a journey. My journey was very much through certifications, right? I was a Novell engineer back in the day, so I did my CNE back in the 1990s. I did my Cisco certifications from about 2000 onwards.

[00:11:04] Daren: I did my CCIE, I did the CCDE and I did all the things and I still keep them up to date. Now I'm looking at cloud certifications and those sorts of things. And I do believe in them in so far as giving you the framework to know what you don't know as much as what you do. I mean, this is, this is the thing, right?

[00:11:24] Daren: It's about being able to say, well, look, as a, as a networking person. We all have to learn and keep learning and learn the next thing. And the next thing, because things don't sit still, they do always change. And so to have the framework you can follow to take you on that path is fantastic. The other aspect to that, of course, is that the others will come behind you and, and you, you know, anything that you can do through your experience and your knowledge to help those people as well.

[00:11:52] Daren: The certifications give you a good opportunity to give some, you know, help to, to the people who follow because you can, you can be the expert on how to progress through those, those certification paths. And you can say to more junior folk earlier in their career, let me help you with that. Let me bring, you know, by creating content, by just having the conversations.

[00:12:15] Chris: Yeah, absolutely. So in that role, right. I mean, I think just in that environment of things are constantly changing. I tend to think that things change a little slower than we give them credit for. Um, but it is, but there are things changing. There's things, new things popping up. And I mean, this, this stuff is very dynamic and the state of the art does shift quicker in technology than in almost any other field, I think.

[00:12:34] Chris: And, you know, and then, you know, combining that with the role you have now for the last few years, at least, of kind of being that kind of voice of experience and kind of helping show people the way, you know, does that ever create an environment where you don't feel like you're smart enough? 

[00:12:49] Daren: Oh, gosh, all the time, every time you walk into a conversation, almost, you have to.

[00:12:55] Daren: Check and say, well, look, um, I'm, you know, because you can walk into a conversation and people Know more than you or have more experience than you or whatever. It's it's very much a question of being open, I suppose, share and exchange information and whatever and knowledge. Chris, the first time we met, you may not even remember it, but um, when you were working at the Myriad, I'd heard some of the work that you'd done before and I was like, right, okay, I'm actually going to sit back a little bit here.

[00:13:31] Daren: Listen and bide my time before we actually start exchanging here. Cause you're going to know more about things that we're going to talk about than I do. And I think that's a natural thing, right? I think it's a natural thing for anyone, particularly with, in my experience, techies who, who may be that little bit more, um, introverted and that little bit more just guarded almost about, about putting things out there, that little bit more humble, maybe I think it is, is something that you'll naturally do.

[00:14:02] Daren: And I don't think, I think if anyone says that they don't suffer from imposter syndrome in the, in the air quotes, I think they're making it up. I think everybody feels it, either that or they're an incredibly confident special case. 

[00:14:16] Chris: Yeah, which I guess is possible, right? And I think maybe it's not quite everybody, but especially in moments, right?

[00:14:21] Chris: It does feel like it's pretty pervasive in my life. Now that kind of, you know, giving to others and kind of kind of creating that environment for learning that you talked about a little bit there. I forget the exact words you used, but I wonder, does that have anything to do with the init six initiative?

[00:14:35] Chris: I know you're a co founder and contributor there. I don't know a whole lot about it though. Maybe you can explain kind of what that is. 

[00:14:40] Daren: Yeah. Before we got to that, I was through the relationship I've had with Cisco over the years. I was a member of the CCIE advisory council. Now that was. Basically as part of the certification process, when they're putting together certification exams and the, and the syllabuses and so on, they consult with a group of alumni, I guess, you know, ultimately people who have been through that process and done it, uh, it's about 30 or so of us at the time.

[00:15:11] Daren: It basically helped guide the shape of these certifications going forward. And as I say, there were about, about 30 of us. When we got involved with Cisco developing the DevNet certification. So it was a time where they called certmageddon when they wanted to just change everything. And a lot was changing in the program, but they also introduced these DevNet certs in order to help people.

[00:15:39] Daren: It's an interesting one to help people learn about the technologies used to do network automation. Obviously with the Cisco specific slant, but the bulk of the material was around programmability generally, not specifically Cisco based. And what we found was there was a group of about, about seven or eight of us within that team who Who it really resonated with and we said, look, this stuff is, we need to learn this for ourselves.

[00:16:08] Daren: We need to then, once we've learned this for ourselves, help other people learn this stuff, because this is going to be key, super important. And so we started the init6 collective, if you like, for that purpose, to Just open the door really as much as anything to get people to be able to to speak to the movers and shakers in that space to give them a picture of what that that journey might look like and just reflecting our own journeys in that space and and through through doing videos, we did a lot of work with Cisco learning and interestingly, we've we've kind of It's kind of quietened down a little bit in terms of, uh, content production, but we've all gone on and done other things and moved onwards ourselves and taken people with us.

[00:16:57] Daren: So we've got people now working in Cisco. We've got people from init6 who are working for Microsoft, AWS and working in the network automation space. And they're all people who are, who are voices. In the community, it will continue to be. So it's been super, super important to us. Like I say, and you'll know this, right?

[00:17:21] Daren: The initiatives tend to be cyclical like this, right? They'll become important and they'll become noisy and that things will happen. They'll quiet down again, whatever, and it will come back around again eventually, but things are quiet on the init six front at the moment. 

[00:17:37] Chris: Fair enough. Yeah, definitely. I think some of these things, right?

[00:17:40] Chris: I don't know that every project should set out to become an institution. Even, even as a goal at all, right? I think there is a lot of value in creating something that's going to serve a need now and then, you know, letting it fade away, especially these volunteer things, right? I mean, you know, it's a lot harder to kind of say, well, we created this thing, it did a job, let's find a new job to do well, no, maybe let's just go back to our jobs we're getting paid for.

[00:18:03] Chris: Right. I mean, there's definitely some of that. 

[00:18:05] Daren: That's a good point. It's a good point. It's, it's amazing how much. Time and energy that, that, that stuff can take and it can be all consuming. Um, again, the network automation forum, I should imagine is, is proving to be that for yourself at the moment.

[00:18:19] Daren: Something that's, that's a big part of, of the day to day. And again, it, like I say, it's cyclical. It may, it may or may not be going forward, but, um, but it's important that it, that it's, that it's done at that point in time. You're absolutely right. 

[00:18:32] Chris: If we do a good job with the network automation forum, hopefully it'll be not, it'll, it won't make any sense to exist three or five years.

[00:18:39] Daren: So 

[00:18:43] Chris: you talked a little bit about this. I think you said old geezer, I think somewhere on LinkedIn you might've said old network, old dog learning and teaching new tricks. And we already touched on this a little bit, kind of the teaching new tricks bit. Um, I think there's something else you said on your LinkedIn about kind of always be looking for ways to help develop others and, you know, being nice and giving back mentoring and contributing.

[00:19:02] Chris: Tweeting words of wisdom, anything. I'd like to dig into that a little bit. I mean, does this come from personal experience? Meaning, you know, have you had mentors that have influenced your career? 

[00:19:12] Daren: You know, that's a, that's a great question. Obviously, with my age, these kinds of community efforts weren't available really to, to us to, to do that.

[00:19:21] Daren: So, so having that instant community, if you like, of the LinkedIn's, the Twitter's or whatever, we, we didn't, we didn't have that. But what I did have. I was, I was lucky. I had real life mentors. If you're like people I could, I could relate to and who could help me along when I needed them as part of my work.

[00:19:39] Daren: So in particular, um, I can think of probably two or three gentlemen who I'm not going to, to embarrass them and name them, but certainly ex managers and the like, who, who basically, again, were that next generation who were able to impart wisdom and knowledge along the way. Whether that's through, so my first roles were in a, in a university environment, right?

[00:20:07] Daren: And obviously from an, in academia, you're going to be exposed to things like computing and everything were very much embedded in academia long before they were in business, just because of the nature of it. I also studied in Manchester, in England, which is, was a huge center for, for computing in. In the UK long before it was, was in most other places.

[00:20:29] Daren: So it was really ingrained there. And so I was able to learn from some of, some of the pioneers really, when I was at university. And then as I went through into my first jobs from people who'd been working in that, that sort of. IT space before it would, there was such a space before it was such a thing.

[00:20:46] Daren: That was fantastic, you know, being able to have that access to those people. But I think that's the beauty of where we are now, is that the community is that much more accessible, that we're able to make those connections ourselves with people who aren't necessarily just down the road, who are the other side of the planet, potentially, but still be able to make the connections.

[00:21:07] Daren: And I think that was big. We talked about init6 before. That was one of the beauties of init6. We had people in, there was one other person in, no, two other people in the UK. So that was quite nice. But then there were two in the US. There was one in New Zealand, you know, and so on and so forth. And we'd just grown our own mini community, but, and it didn't matter where we were physically apart from when we were trying to record material.

[00:21:34] Daren: Because the time zones were a killer, but, but that's the thing, isn't it? You've worked with what you've got, but you use the knowledge and the experience of the people who are around you and you learn from them. And that, that was great. Cause we were all of an age, but then we were able to, to, to take that to, to another generation.

[00:21:50] Daren: And, and now I've got several people as a result of the work that we have done that I've kind of, I'd say mentor, but it's probably a bit too formal. But there's, you know, younger folk who makes me sound so old, who I connected with, who I'm able to just, I don't know, just help with silly things. Like, you know, when they, when they've got a report that they've got to produce for work or something, and they're, and they're not sure how to approach it, or they might be thinking about interviewing and they want to know a bit more about what they should say and what they shouldn't say, or.

[00:22:25] Daren: Or they, they might actually be wanting to dig into the technologies and a bit more and see what experience I've got on things. I might not have any, but I might be a soundie board for them to talk to me about it. And I think this is, this is as much as, as, as everything, anything that it's about, it's about, about not being able to just tell them about the technologies.

[00:22:45] Daren: But be able to tell them about what it's like to work in a space and be part of that space. You know, I think that's, that's super important as well. 

[00:22:53] Chris: Yeah, I like that a lot. And obviously this is an area as we've talked about, you have a lot of experience with, right? You've done series of videos, you've done blogging, being at six thing that, you know, came together around you.

[00:23:04] Chris: But I also think these kind of maybe quote unquote smaller, you know, daily interactions are possibly just as important. I wonder, I mean, you've already given us some, but do you have any advice for becoming or, or being a good mentor? And I, and I think, I think you're right that that definition of mentor should be fairly loose, right?

[00:23:21] Chris: There are these kinds of maybe almost even, well, actually fully official, right, in some companies they'll put together people and say, you're a mentor, you're a mentee, like, you know, show them the ropes and show them how to get through this and, and that's great. Most mentor mentee relationships are much more informal and again, maybe, uh, ephemeral as well, right?

[00:23:38] Chris: It may be that you are able to give somebody advice once and that's a great, you know, life defining moment for either one of you. 

[00:23:45] Daren: Or not, you know, it might just be a little nudge in the right direction or whatever, but, uh, no, I mean, there's, I mean, I've got two good examples. One is. I was working in, actually, I was providing a service to one of my old employers and I'd gone in to work through consultancy.

[00:24:05] Daren: I was consulting into this place. And I ended up becoming friends with one of the, one of the guys who was working on the team there. And we'd perhaps poll each other, I don't know, once every six months. And we'd go have a coffee and we'd just chat stuff through. And one day he came back to me and said, well, look, I've just gone and got myself this incredible job.

[00:24:26] Daren: And it's like, well, what, how did you do that? And it's through just picking little pieces out of conversations that we'd had about certain technologies being interesting or. Certain areas of business that are using those technologies. And all of a sudden he'd sprung himself this nice new cool job because of it.

[00:24:47] Daren: It just pulled on some of those threads. So it's as much about that, that sort of conversation. As it might be with another example is, is a guy, actually, he lives about 10 miles down the road that way, works for a service provider in the Northwest of England. And we've become firm friends through just chatting nonsense about tech.

[00:25:08] Daren: And then it becomes more than that. It becomes more of a, it becomes more than just mentor or mentee then, right? It becomes, it becomes, you know, genuine friendship. And, and I think that, that also has a lot to play because, You can be that and you don't have to be that and you give and take as much as is comfortable and and appropriate And I think that's, um, it works as well as it needs to, um, you know, based on, on what people need and what they, what they want to hear.

[00:25:36] Chris: Yeah. That makes a ton of sense. And I like that. I think that's, I think that's good advice just to kind of think about it in those kinds of more fluid terms and just doing what you can to like, I think. As you wrote on, on LinkedIn, right. Be nice and give back I think is pretty.

[00:25:47] Daren: I think that's it. If if you've, if you've taken anything from, from any and anyone and whatever, and, and I think this is the thing now with, again, looking at the, the strength of the, the network and engineering community in particular and, and LinkedIn and, and on Twitter you see that there is so much to learn from so many people and so.

[00:26:08] Daren: Well, you've just got to flip that and say, well, actually, if there's anything I can give back, then, then I'll just make it available. And if people want, want it, it's there and give as much as you're comfortable with. 

[00:26:18] Chris: Fantastic. Um, well, as we often do, we've run out of time long before we've run out of things to talk about.

[00:26:24] Chris: Darren, do you have any additional, you know, projects or causes, something we did mention or something that we haven't mentioned that you want to highlight or let folks know about in the network? 

[00:26:32] Daren: Not. Right now. I mean, I've got, I've got so much that I'm still wanting to do and still developing. And I think, you know, obviously the network automation space in particular at the moment is a, it's such a big area of inspiration for any of us networking folk, whether we're old geezers or, or, or babies really, you know, I think there's, it's a time when network operations has really sort of captured the imagination.

[00:26:56] Daren: So I'm just going to be throwing myself more and more into network automation. And I think that's, that's where we all need to be focused on right now. 

[00:27:04] Chris: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. I maybe obviously agree with you quite a bit there. Well, Darren, thank you so much for being here and sharing your story with the imposter syndrome network.

[00:27:11] Chris: Yeah. And thank you to all of our listeners out there tuning in right now for your time, your attention, and your support. We know that those are limited resources, but if you found this episode insightful or interesting, or even just entertaining, please consider paying that forward by letting others know about this show and the great guests we have on. Before we turn the lights off, Darren, I do have one more question we touched on it already, but I would, I'd love to dive a little bit deeper into this just because.

[00:27:36] Chris: I think I saw, maybe it was on Twitter, you have like this hashtag cert princess somewhere. 

[00:27:42] Daren: Uh, there's, yeah, that's a, that's one that's been around for a little while. 

[00:27:48] Chris: And, and, and definitely certification has been important in your career. And I think you think that's true for others. Maybe you can just talk a little bit about, you know, how, how, how certifications have worked for you or how you think others should use them or, you know, just your thoughts in general on certification, I think it'd be interesting.

[00:28:02] Chris: And if you do wanna tell us a story about CER Princess coming to be, that that's, that's fine too. 

[00:28:08] Daren: right, sir? Princess, that's an interesting one. There was a debate, it was a, a few years back now on, uh, in socials around the value of certifications and the fact that some people almost measure their own value based on the le the level that they're certified.

[00:28:27] Daren: While I would never think that that was the case that, that yes, I've got these expert certifications, but that's because I either felt I needed them at the time or whatever. I took a front a little bit to that. I thought that the particular individual who was pushing that, that story was, was a very vocal person in the, uh, in the industry.

[00:28:47] Daren: They were well respected and very, you know, had a voice. And the problem was that. The people they were addressing didn't really have the same level of voice in order to, to have the conversation back with them, I suppose. And so it was, it was a few of us, actually. I mean, basically it got to a point where, where this, this particular person actually started referring to people as certification princesses.

[00:29:08] Daren: And so myself and a few of, uh, few, few other folk started adding hashtag cert princess every time we had any of the conversations that were relevant. I'm not particularly proud of that now for, for a number of reasons. And actually I thought I'd taken that off my profile. But I think the point was there, that what you had was someone who had probably benefited from certification programs at some stage, previously.

[00:29:34] Daren: And then kind of scrapped it as a meaningless idea. And then put a, there was this layer of, I don't know, kind of looking down the nose at people. As a result. And I think, I think I thought I was, you know, just unfair generally. So it was more about just making, making that point that certifications are in, certainly in my mind, a very valid way.

[00:29:57] Daren: of giving people an understanding of the direction that their learning can take, their education can take. By giving it structure, it makes it easier to manage the process of learning. And I think that was certainly what I've taken from certifications over the years. And I think that was, it's important to make that point that while it's difficult to say that a particular certification, once upon a time, the CCIE would add a certain amount of money to your salary because it was, you were able to map, right?

[00:30:29] Daren: You now have those skills, therefore you're worth this money. It's never going to be like that anymore. It's much more about being able to understand what you don't know as what you do know and being able to give you a path. Really to address that and I think that's for me what it's really about. So yeah, slightly embarrassing hashtag, slightly embarrassing story, but I think it's, it's important that, um, that people realize that, that, that certifications are and will continue to be relevant.

[00:31:01] Daren: You just have to use them the way that you, you know, that makes most sense to you. 

[00:31:06] Chris: Yeah, absolutely. No. And I think, you know, it sounds to me anyway, like there was some level of, I mean, I guess, essentially bullying going on. And, and so you guys kind of, you know, stepped in to diffuse it a little bit. 

[00:31:18] Daren: That's kind of, that's kind of what, you know, what the way, certainly the way I felt, I mean, it's, you know, you, you gotta, when you're participating in.

[00:31:25] Daren: in community. And I suppose this comes back to the imposter syndrome picture as well. You're always going to have people who you look up to. You're always going to have people who, who you respect and who, who you want to, you always seek them out to listen to what they have to say. The problem is then when those, when these people are, aren't humble about that and act in a poor way.

[00:31:46] Daren: That then just, that just reflects badly on everybody. It reflects badly on the followers. It reflects badly on the person themselves. And, and generally it leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth that might scare people off being involved in community going forward. And I think that's just not going to be, not going to work well for anybody.

[00:32:02] Daren: I think we all need this community. We need to look to the people who've been, who are the experts, the people who are, have gone through the process and have developed themselves. We need to give them. The opportunity to, to lead the rest of us, we need to be able to learn from them because otherwise there's too much right at the beginning, we talked about the fact that there's all of these fundamentals that you needed to learn back in the day.

[00:32:27] Daren: There's all of this stuff that knowledge is still relevant, but it's just not so many people need it now, right? Because we, we, we have these layers of abstraction that we put on top. Well, you still need a path to that knowledge. Ultimately, there's someone still needs to have it. And if you're going to start breaking the community up, people are going to lose that path to the knowledge.

[00:32:50] Daren: And then we're in trouble, you know, things start to get fragmented. So I think that the way we've built the community out, the way that we have these. These paths certifications are in all part of that, you know, we we need to maintain that as a Um as a community, I think 

[00:33:06] Chris: I agree and I think that's a great place to leave it.

[00:33:08] Chris: We'll be back next week