The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast

Mark Calkins

May 21, 2024 Chris & Zoë Season 1 Episode 93
Mark Calkins
The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast
More Info
The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast
Mark Calkins
May 21, 2024 Season 1 Episode 93
Chris & Zoë

In this episode, we sit down with Mark Calkins, a visionary in the tech industry whose early love for technology led him to run a BBS at the tender age of 12.

Mark has navigated the highs and lows of the tech world, starting his career amidst the internet bubble and quickly advancing to work on AS 1 by 18. His journey took a pivotal turn at Time Warner Telecom, shaping his future endeavors.

He shares his transformative experience at ViaSat, where he played a key role in pioneering internet services on airplanes, witnessing firsthand the real-world impact of his innovations.

As a leader at Packet Fabric, Mark discovered his knack for steering teams away from office politics, focusing on direct and empathetic leadership, especially during crises.

We’ll explore his professional philosophy, views on the relevance of certifications today, and commitment to giving back to the community.

Join us for this inspiring and insightful conversation with Mark Calkins.

“I don’t think I’m one of the best at building things.
I am one of the best at fixing things though, and my approach to architecture and building is like troubleshooting in reverse.
It’s kind of how I approach things and what would I do if this was broken."



Thanks for being an imposter - a part of the Imposter Syndrome Network (ISN)!

We'd love it if you connected with us on LinkedIn:

Make it a great day.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we sit down with Mark Calkins, a visionary in the tech industry whose early love for technology led him to run a BBS at the tender age of 12.

Mark has navigated the highs and lows of the tech world, starting his career amidst the internet bubble and quickly advancing to work on AS 1 by 18. His journey took a pivotal turn at Time Warner Telecom, shaping his future endeavors.

He shares his transformative experience at ViaSat, where he played a key role in pioneering internet services on airplanes, witnessing firsthand the real-world impact of his innovations.

As a leader at Packet Fabric, Mark discovered his knack for steering teams away from office politics, focusing on direct and empathetic leadership, especially during crises.

We’ll explore his professional philosophy, views on the relevance of certifications today, and commitment to giving back to the community.

Join us for this inspiring and insightful conversation with Mark Calkins.

“I don’t think I’m one of the best at building things.
I am one of the best at fixing things though, and my approach to architecture and building is like troubleshooting in reverse.
It’s kind of how I approach things and what would I do if this was broken."



Thanks for being an imposter - a part of the Imposter Syndrome Network (ISN)!

We'd love it if you connected with us on LinkedIn:

Make it a great day.

Machines made this, mistakes and all...

[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 this is the Mark Calkins episode. Mark is a longtime friend and colleague. He's a network engineer and architect who has never strayed into content creation or marketing.

[00:00:27] Chris: Like many of our other guests have, although he did let himself become a manager. I thought I was hot. Shit. When I met Mark 17 years ago or so, and he showed me that there are folks out there, both smarter and harder working than I am, uh, cause he was both, but don't take my word for it. Here's how another colleague of Mark's has described him.

[00:00:46] Chris: I can confidently say that he is an exceptional. Exceptional professional who consistently exceeds expectations marks expertise in network architecture and design is unparalleled His ability to strategize design and implement complex global network infrastructures is truly impressive Mark recognizes the power of technology to streamline Operations and enhance productivity and his forward thinking mindset and willingness to embrace emerging technologies Have positioned our team at the forefront of innovation.

[00:01:14] Chris: I highly recommend Mark for any leadership position that requires a visionary results driven professional who can lead teams to achieve remarkable outcomes. While those are not my words, I cannot disagree with any of them.

[00:01:30] Chris: Hey Mark, welcome to the show. Would you like to introduce yourself a bit further to the imposter syndrome network? Sure. I mean, that's a lot to, uh, follow up on who said that anyway, I think it was a Lisa. 

[00:01:41] Mark: Oh, wow. 

[00:01:41] Chris: Well, in America we call her Lisa, I guess. I don't know. 

[00:01:45] Mark: Thank you, Lisa. Let's see it. Where would I build on that?

[00:01:48] Mark: It's it's a tall structure to try to build on top of. I would also add that, uh, I'm not, I don't think I'm really one of the best at building things. I am one of the best at fixing things though. And I kind of, my approach to architecture and building is kind of like troubleshooting in reverse. It's kind of how I approach things and what would I do if this was broken?

[00:02:08] Mark: How would I build it? 

[00:02:09] Chris: That's interesting. 

[00:02:10] Mark: I would add that I'm, I'm a good troubleshooter as well. 

[00:02:14] Chris: Nice. Nice. That's awesome. Let's dive in here. That is interesting though. I've, I've, I've never heard the idea of like designing a network by troubleshooting in reverse. I really liked that idea. Maybe what's interesting to start with first here is because I think you have a clear idea of what you're good at, um, and what you're not.

[00:02:31] Chris: How did you learn what you're good at? 

[00:02:33] Mark: I was lucky in that I found it very early. I was maybe eight or nine years old when I took apart my first radio and later a TV. Luckily, I didn't get shocked. I, the CRT, I didn't know that at the time, but uh, I loved electronics. I loved diving into how they worked and why they didn't work.

[00:02:53] Mark: And I mean, I was fixing stuff as a little child. By the time I hit 11 or 12 years old, I think I was running my first BBS, mostly so my friends and I could game, you know, doors games. That's what they called them back then. So I found what I was good at very early. Luckily, a lot of people have to go through their lives for a long time before they find that.

[00:03:12] Mark: And I knew basically right away, I was going to, I wanted to work in electronics and communications on top of that. And, uh, I did. So it really, really worked out for me. You know, I was lucky on the early, early career part. 

[00:03:24] Chris: Yeah, that's great. That is awesome. That you had kind of that, I guess, privilege to be around electronics, to be able to kind of take them apart.

[00:03:30] Chris: Right. And have parents that were willing to let you, uh, tear something apart. 

[00:03:34] Mark: Yeah. Yeah. I remember my father getting rather angry a few times. She still, still allowed me to explore, you know, what I was interested in. So, 

[00:03:42] Chris: yeah, that's cool. So what do you do now? What's your title and what do you actually do?

[00:03:47] Mark: So I am now at, uh, Oregon Health. in science university or OHSU, which is a research organization, a hospital and a university. So my job title is a IT systems engineer, which sounds like a step down compared to some of my previous titles, but I firmly believe titles don't really matter. It's what you bring to a role.

[00:04:09] Mark: And it's really interesting. My day to day, I could be helping a doctor in an operating room with their The remote controlled operating thing, or I could be helping a researcher, you know, get a hundred gigs of bandwidth to somewhere that does not typically have that kind of bandwidth available. It's a really interesting day to day.

[00:04:29] Mark: And you know, whether the job title is cool or not, I really, really am digging my current role. 

[00:04:35] Chris: Yeah. I'm actually, I just finished, um, reading. Machiavelli's Discourses and he like, like right towards the end of the book, which I just finished, he says something along those lines of like, uh, and I think he's quoting somebody from before him as well, but something like the title doesn't make the man.

[00:04:49] Chris: The man makes a title, um, or something like that. Yeah, or no, a title doesn't bring honor to a person. A person brings honor to a title. Oh, that's even better. Yeah, that's what it was like that. Cool. Um, so maybe like walking us back. I mean, you mentioned that you had other titles that maybe sounded more impressive.

[00:05:08] Chris: Can you give us a snapshot of, of your career? And I know you've made a few changes. There's been quite a few years of working in the industry now. So that's, you know, a long list, but maybe the snapshot of, of Mark's career from, um, You know, taking apart that TV to work in, uh, to help the Oregon idea. 

[00:05:27] Mark: So let's see, what was the first one?

[00:05:29] Mark: My first notable job was, uh, I worked for GTE internetworking. I was like 18 and a half years old or something like that. I'm just, you know, this was 1998 peak, uh, dot com bubble. They were hiring anybody that could spell internet. And luckily I could spell internet pretty well. So I got a job at GTE internetworking.

[00:05:50] Mark: Um, they owned at the time BBN, which had AS1. So like I got the whole sort of like second generation internet introduction of, oh, wow, I'm on AS1. This is a, you know, an amazing, amazing thing. Like it means literally nothing to the rest of the world, but it was a very amazing thing to a nerd. And, uh, so started there, um, later became Genuity when Verizon was formed, whatever.

[00:06:14] Mark: Then eventually ended up, I'd say my next notable job was, uh, TW Telecom, where I was a network engineer in operations. We, we met there. I mean, can't say enough good things about that role, how, how much I learned. It's insane. It was, you know, constantly pouring the best practices of how you, how you build a global backbone and operate it instilled in me and, you know, in that job pretty much.

[00:06:38] Mark: Uh, later went to an architecture role at TW Telecom. And then I went to my first role, I would say that I felt had some, um, purpose to it or some, something extra more than just the neat gee whiz, this, this is cool stuff. And that's when I was at Viasat and we were connecting, you know, rural Americans and people in, in airplanes.

[00:06:58] Mark: We were one of the first ones with KA, um, high speed internet in airplanes. So, That was pretty cool. The, the gee whiz factor really drove me a long ways, but being able to see the impact of my work was, was pretty cool. I almost liked it more, you know, and then, um, after that it was off to Packet Fabric where I spent the last seven years or so up until about six months ago.

[00:07:22] Mark: Um, so I was, I think employee number 10 and grew that role. I just started as a network engineer, um, grew that role into running the network team. I was the VP of network engineering at one point up to 20 employees, I believe. And while, you know, I excelled at that role, I, I don't think I would ever Be a manager again.

[00:07:46] Mark: I'm happy to be a leader. I'm not happy to, um, play the politics and, you know, money games that seem so prevalent in our industry now, but you know, 

[00:07:55] Chris: yeah, yeah. It was definitely fun to be involved in the very, you know, some of the early days of it, right. As, as you were, and I think I was as well a little bit, um, and to see that kind of kind of pioneering spirit and scrapping it.

[00:08:06] Chris: And definitely now the internet companies have become. 

[00:08:09] Chris: Like real companies. So we're all growing up now and it's a little different. 

[00:08:13] Mark: It's not, it's not all engineers for engineers or whatever, you know? 

[00:08:16] Chris: Yeah, 

[00:08:17] Mark: that's fine. I guess it's evolution. 

[00:08:19] Chris: Yeah. It also means there's more money in it. There is, if you, if you dig around a little bit, but I think that also brings up a really good point, right?

[00:08:25] Chris: Because you talked about like the politics of being a leader in packet fabric, but just in general, kind of add a big internet company, which. You know, rolling back to our time together at what was Time Warner Telecom and then TW Telecom and then, uh, Lumen and then Century or no CenturyLink and then Lumen.

[00:08:41] Mark: Briefly level three, I think. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:08:44] Chris: But at our, at our time there, I think one of the things that made that role, at least in my opinion, one of the things that made that role so awesome. Was our manager. Um, Matt Moriarty kept all of the politics of that company, which admittedly wasn't that big, but was the biggest company I've ever worked at.

[00:09:03] Chris: Still, I think like 1400 employees, which was, you know, was huge, but we, we saw none of that, right? We were totally sheltered in our group. We had to just do the work, which was pretty cool. 

[00:09:13] Mark: Exactly. That's an interesting point. And that's, that was probably one of my weaknesses as a manager. I would get frustrated and let some of that kind of stuff roll downhill.

[00:09:23] Mark: So, you know, it's hard not to, but yeah, Matt was great and thank you, Matt. If you're listening to this, you know, you, you did good. 

[00:09:31] Chris: You did. Uh, and then the other piece that was really important there, which I didn't, I totally didn't recognize until many years later was the Sella brothers and like the infrastructure that they had put in place before we even got there.

[00:09:43] Chris: It's amazing. Uh, yeah. Cause like, as like you, I kind of learned how to run a big network at, in that role. Right. That was where I would kind of say, okay, I think a lot of the best practices I still use today, I learned there. And at the time I was young enough that I was like, Oh, these are like the best.

[00:09:58] Chris: This is just how you do it. Not realizing that. All of the structure of, of what those best practices were and how we implemented them and, and having like a database with all the configs and all the, you know, I mean, we, we, we essentially had a source of truth before that was a term 

[00:10:11] Mark: we did before. That was even a thing, right?

[00:10:13] Mark: We're definitely standing on giants, the shoulders of giants, you know, the Sella's are great. I wonder what they're up to these days. 

[00:10:19] Chris: Yeah, it was a good question. So in all of that, uh, you know, I think one thing we often talk about here is, you know, you've had a really successful career, I think. Have there been.

[00:10:31] Chris: You know, low points and specifically like maybe mistakes you've made that were embarrassing or just, you know, cringe worthy at the time. I mean, can you think back on any times where, I mean, one, have you had those kinds of mistakes and then two, is there one that's worth, uh, worth getting a laugh out of? 

[00:10:47] Mark: I mean, I've, I've had mistakes like, you know, melting down a global network before stuff like that.

[00:10:55] Mark: Not entirely my fault, but, um, There were circumstances I probably could have avoided to not do that. So, you know, moving fast and breaking things sometimes can end up being embarrassing, I guess. That's really the only thing I can think of. It was a packet fabric. It was very early days, you know, we were doing a code upgrade on a device in the middle of the day that had no customers.

[00:11:18] Mark: And that's normally totally fine, but, uh, we were running very aggressively new code on, on the routers. And there's apparently a bug where when, when, uh, keepalive stopped coming from the RSVP daemon to other routers, the other routers would core. So. I took a router down for an upgrade and it told all its neighbors, I'm, my people lives are going away now.

[00:11:38] Mark: And every other neighbor then crashed and then all of their neighbors crashed and then all their neighbors crashed. So it was really a Juniper problem, but, uh, and the one that was at the keyboard. 

[00:11:48] Chris: Triggered it. Yeah. 

[00:11:49] Mark: Yeah. And then, you know, they would boot back up and do the same thing. 

[00:11:53] Chris: Oh man. So can you talk about how that feels when you're kind of watching this like cascading failure, uh, happen at the end of your fingertips?

[00:12:00] Mark: I've, I'm not sure I've ever felt that kind of panic in other situations before, and then having to catch yourself and you have to fix it now. I mean, it is kind of humbling. That's for sure. Yeah. I mean, trying to work under those conditions is, is a real challenge, but pulled it out and I could probably do it a little with a little lower heart rate today if it happened again.

[00:12:21] Mark: Maybe. 

[00:12:24] Chris: That is a gift of experience, I think. Right. It's, if anything, just a little bit lower heart rate. I like that. Um, yeah. And, and you're right, right. I mean, I think that is something that for a lot of, I think in, uh, you know, digital infrastructure and it generally, right, there's, there's these situations where something happens, you're involved in it happening, whether it was, you know, directly your fault or not, the fact that you were even, you know, nearby it.

[00:12:45] Chris: Right. Um, I mean, I, you know, I've talked to people who somebody, you know, racked a switch poorly. And then the next person comes along and closes the cabinet. And the fiber gets, you know, crimped off and causes an outage, which wasn't really that person's fault. But if you're the one who closed the door, panic inducing anyway, but then you're not, you can't spiral, right?

[00:13:04] Chris: You've got to like, okay, like this is terrifying, but I've got to fix it. 

[00:13:08] Mark: I'd say that's one of the harder things to do as a leader too, is trying to get your people not to spiral when they're having their minute. You know, kind of just have to let them do it, but also not let them fall in the hole. You know, it's tough.

[00:13:20] Chris: It is. It is. Do you have any advice for how you've approached that with folks? I mean, is it just, is it just encouragement? Is it just kind of the patting on the shoulder? I mean, you know, or is there anything you found that works or maybe even doesn't work? 

[00:13:31] Mark: Getting angry doesn't work. 

[00:13:34] Mark: I know that. Yelling doesn't work.

[00:13:38] Mark: Being direct and sympathetic or empathetic helps. In, in the times that I've had to, you know, push someone along to through an outage or, or something, just being direct is probably one of the number one things, but, um, empathy, second, definitely close. 

[00:13:53] Chris: Yeah. I like that a lot. And that, that's always, I mean, that's something that was really a struggle for me.

[00:13:59] Chris: Maybe it still is. And maybe, you know, less of a struggle now, but that balance of, I don't know, I tend to be maybe too sharp when I'm being direct. So for a long time, I kind of avoided being direct thinking I was being nice, which didn't actually work very well either. So I don't know. There's a fine line there.

[00:14:17] Chris: At least for me, I find it like being direct and not being an asshole together is hard for me. 

[00:14:21] Mark: A lot of times the people think being nice is not saying something or, you know, letting something slide or whatever. A lot of times that's not actually the nice thing to do. 

[00:14:32] Chris: Right. Yeah. Another book I recently read again was.

[00:14:35] Chris: What is it like winning for how to win friends and influence people, the Dale Carnegie book. It's a great book. I'm a little conflicted about it because like one of the things that he kind of talks about is like he almost says you never tell somebody when they're doing something wrong, right? Because it just doesn't work, which I don't know for me is really, really, really, really hard.

[00:14:53] Chris: When I see somebody doing something wrong, I almost feel like that, like, I feel like it's like my moral obligation to point out that they're wrong. When he's right, though, it almost always counterproductive. 

[00:15:03] Mark: It almost always is. 

[00:15:05] Chris: Yeah. 

[00:15:05] Mark: I mean, unless they work for you and they have to. 

[00:15:09] Chris: But Yeah. Well, and that's what I'm struggling with.

[00:15:11] Chris: Even then, right, it's kind of, you know, what I try to do is like, guide them down the right path versus telling them that the path they're on is wrong. Like, which again, and then, but which again conflicts with the directness a little bit, right? You know, it's, it's, you can still be direct, but say, Hey, you know, some of it's, um, I don't know if you've ever done like leading by questions kind of thing where you say, Hey, what if you tried this instead of telling them the path you're on is wrong.

[00:15:34] Chris: Go over there. 

[00:15:35] Mark: Right. That is kind of more what I do. Maybe, maybe I'm not as direct as I thought, but I do sort of try to lead to water a little more than, Hey, do this, do this right now. 

[00:15:46] Chris: Yeah. 

[00:15:49] Mark: I don't think I've. Leave a whole lot of wiggle room and what I actually want them to do, you know, in, in that way, but 

[00:15:56] Chris: right, right, right.

[00:15:57] Chris: Yeah. And again, I think there's, yeah, there's this, it's interesting, just the whole kind of concept there of like how to, how to do that. Well, what would you say is the greatest achievement of your career so far? And this can be like any way you measure it, right? What's something maybe that you're proud of, or they just like kind of stands out.

[00:16:14] Chris: I don't know for any reason. 

[00:16:15] Mark: I think it would be, you know, focusing on that. I want more purpose in, in my roles, which is something that I've just recently, you know, gone after in the last couple of years. Um, I think, I think even though back to job titles, even though I probably have one of the lower job titles I've had in a long time, this is probably one of the best jobs.

[00:16:36] Mark: Purposeful wise, which means it's one of my best jobs I've ever had. So I think under, you know, looking, looking into deeper into why I'm doing things and my purpose is, um, probably the best thing I've done in my career, you know, up to this point. Besides that, um, I, I did get, Two JNCIEs at one point. So that was kind of cool, but not that that really matters much these days.

[00:17:01] Chris: Less and less, uh, for various reasons. Uh, no, I, I really do like that idea that, you know, Finding and attaching that deeper meaning or deeper, deeper purpose to what you're doing. Yeah, I, I can't, 

[00:17:14] Mark: I think it's critical. Like I don't even know how I could get through the day just focusing on the what's and how's anymore.

[00:17:19] Mark: Like the what's and how's got me really far, but it's really the why that matters. So. 

[00:17:24] Chris: Yeah, that's the stain purpose. It's kind of, it reminds me a little bit of, um, there's like that, uh, I think somewhere in Africa, African proverb about, you know, if you want to go far, go, you know, if you want to go fast, go alone.

[00:17:37] Chris: If you want to go far, go together. This feels kind of similar in that idea of like, you know, if you, if you want to, I don't know how to do it on the fly here, but there's something there about, you know, using kind of, there's, there's two different types of intrinsic motivation, right? One is just like maybe pure curiosity.

[00:17:52] Chris: Yeah. Which is great, but then actually having that like reason behind it maybe is better. I don't know. 

[00:17:57] Mark: Right. Like the pure curiosity doesn't have the staying power. 

[00:18:00] Chris: Yeah. Yeah. If you want to get interested, be curious if you want to be accomplished, have purpose. I don't know. Someone else can make that into an actual quote at some point.

[00:18:10] Chris: Maybe. What's the role where you learned the most? I mean, was that at TW Telecom or was there somewhere else where, you know, 

[00:18:17] Mark: Yeah, I'd say it was TW Telecom for sure. Um, I mean, Genuity maybe, cause I mean, I had never logged into a real router in my life before then, but wasn't really capable of doing a whole lot until TW Telecom.

[00:18:30] Mark: I learned quite a bit there. I did, well, I almost totally forgot, I had a job in Montana for a little while at a cable company. 

[00:18:37] Chris: Oh yeah. 

[00:18:37] Mark: I did learn a lot there. I mean, they let me log into routers there, so I got to move fast and break things for some of the first times there, um, so that was useful. And, you know, cable technology is kind of neat.

[00:18:51] Mark: RF over RF and a cable. 

[00:18:54] Chris: Yeah, yeah, constrained RF, it's wild. 

[00:18:56] Mark: Yeah. 

[00:18:58] Chris: Have you ever been part of a dysfunctional team? I think our team at TW was really good and worked really well together. We all kind of compliment each other, but have you ever been on the opposite side where things just didn't quite line up or didn't quite work well, or it was hard or painful or 

[00:19:10] Mark: no, I've been pretty lucky.

[00:19:12] Mark: I don't think I've ever really been on a bad team. Hopefully people that were on my teams would say the same thing about my team. I don't think I've ever been on a bad team. I've been pretty lucky. 

[00:19:23] Chris: Cool. So then how would you define, like, how do you know you're on a good team? Or how, you know, why, why do you think the teams you were on were good?

[00:19:30] Mark: Like everyone without manager interaction will be there to support you. And, you know, if you're on call and struggling, someone will help you or offer advice or, you know, there's no ego first kind of thing in the team. I think that's a big, big component, you know, from the manager perspective, allowing that sort of thing to happen and, you know, building, building the right.

[00:19:51] Mark: Personalities into the team and sort of last the question. Sorry. 

[00:19:56] Chris: All good. So we were talking about, it's like, yeah, just what makes a good team. And I think, you know, I think your first reaction sounds really good. Right. Which is this kind of this camaraderie almost defining characteristics there. Yeah.

[00:20:07] Chris: That's one of the big ones for sure. Very cool. You mentioned that you had at one point, and I'm guessing the reason at one point is because you've let them expire as I have let almost all of my certifications expire. Any that haven't expired is just because of the due date. Not because I did anything proactive lately.

[00:20:21] Chris: But you had two JNCIEs. I mean, thinking about certifications now in today's environment, cause you did mention also that maybe they're less valuable than they were when, when you originally, um, you know, do you think that, I mean, well, yeah, what do you think about certifications today? Why would you say that that's, they're less valuable?

[00:20:36] Chris: Are they just generally less valuable or is it those certifications in particular? Or, you know, what do you think about certification now? 

[00:20:42] Mark: I mean, now I've seen much more of the, you know, you pay to play kind of stuff to get certifications. You take, you, your company pays for your Amazon training class.

[00:20:52] Mark: You basically get a certain Amazon certification. I think even Juniper is doing this in some cases where you can just basically buy a certification. So they don't tell you much of anything anymore. As a hiring manager, I mean, short of the lab certifications, they are still. Something you've sat for eight hours and took a lab test.

[00:21:09] Mark: That's, that's something that, you know, a lot of other people didn't do. So that from that point of view, they're great. I think overall these days, it's if I'm a hiring manager, it's, it's just maybe 10 percent of what I would look at in somebody if they have a bunch of certs and you know, it's, there's just, it doesn't seem to be as much, uh, What would I say?

[00:21:31] Mark: They're not as rare. Everyone has a certification program. 

[00:21:34] Chris: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And is that because more people got them or just because more companies offered them or both? 

[00:21:40] Mark: I think both. And, and they made them easier to get, which it's not supposed to be the point, but kind of dilutes everything when they're easy to get.

[00:21:50] Chris: Yeah. It's tough. Right. Because for me, that was definitely. At least I saw it as a way of kind of opening some doors early in my career. I could kind of, 

[00:21:58] Mark: it was for me too. Yeah. Cause we were both about the same age. I think late twenties. 

[00:22:04] Chris: Um, yeah, 

[00:22:04] Mark: it definitely did help. Yeah. I mean, I remember feeling pretty accomplished that I had two JNCIEs right around the time I was 30.

[00:22:11] Chris: Yeah. Well, what's funny is that was, you know, the JNCIE, um, was the pinnacle of the, the, the Juniper cert track. And, but I'll say, I don't know. Well, it's not totally true. I was gonna say that I don't think I've taken a job since then that actually cared at all about certifications. That's not totally true though.

[00:22:29] Chris: 'cause I did go a couple jobs after TW and ended up working at a, A var, right. A reseller and resellers. They love those care about certifications. You're like, like it's, it's just built into the whole partnership program where you have to, so Yeah. So that's not true. But, but I, you know, from a technology perspective, like it was interesting that, like, that was.

[00:22:48] Chris: The pinnacle of certification. And then after that, I didn't really need that certification to get in the door and more anywhere. Um, I don't know what that means. 

[00:22:56] Mark: No, I know what you mean. And, um, I was, I was going to make the point that they are, they're not always very current and stuff. And I just remembered that in 2011, I actually helped write the new JNCIE at the time, the JNCIE SP.

[00:23:10] Mark: That was kind of fun. That was kind of put my trickery in, in, in the lab tests, you know, for people to run into, um, number one tip for certifications, if there's anyone out there, read the whole form first. Don't even, don't even touch the keyboard until you've read the whole form. Period. . Because they're gonna try to trick you.

[00:23:31] Mark: Absolutely. I guarantee it . 

[00:23:35] Chris: Absolutely. There is a little bit of that. Yeah. That's funny. Yeah. So I think, 'cause you worked on the JNCIE, I think I was, I helped with like the The JNCIP. Yeah. You did the JNCIP. Right. Which was then mean converted to a written test. Right. 'cause when we took it, we actually took two labs to get a JNCIE.

[00:23:51] Chris: The good old days. Yeah. And then when we rewrote it, it was, uh, a written in the lab. 

[00:23:55] Mark: I kind of miss the double lab. 

[00:23:56] Chris: Definitely. Definitely. And yeah, the lab testing, but, but at the same time, here's an interesting question, because I think you've gone from, you know, working in networking and kind of the, I don't know, I'll call it like the, you know, the, the old school, very on premises device centric view, and then.

[00:24:12] Chris: You know, more recently in a very much more automated fashion. I've been thinking about this lately. Um, this is more deep into technology than we normally go on the show, but whatever I've been thinking about this lately in that, you know, these lab tests, which, which are, or at least were kind of the pinnacle of network engineering certification.

[00:24:29] Chris: It's, you know, build this network in this amount of time, and then it's fixed this problem in this amount of time. And it almost. Like the thought I've been having lately is that it, like, it almost encourages like the cowboy engineer vibe of like, get in there, jump device to device, move as fast as you can, just like, you know, pack it up and we don't really care too much about like design and, you know, standardization and a lot of the things that now I focus most of my time on.

[00:24:58] Mark: Right. That's actually a very interesting point. Yeah. The details are much more important now than any certification test is going to capture for you. At least anyone's I know of. Yeah, I mean, just think of all, just think of how ugly those labs were that were left, the estate they were left in whenever you finish troubleshooting or whatever.

[00:25:16] Chris: Right, is that a network you'd really want to put your customers on? 

[00:25:18] Mark: I wonder how you'd capture that proficiency, like, in a test from somebody. The detail oriented structure, you know, good architecture, whatever. That's an interesting thought. 

[00:25:31] Chris: All right. Well, as is always the case, we have pretty much exhausted our time for the day, Mark, do you have any, any projects you're working on?

[00:25:42] Chris: Any causes you're championing that, um, that you'd like us to know about? It could be something we've mentioned or maybe with something we haven't, but something you'd like. The imposter syndrome network and the folks listening to, uh, take a look at. 

[00:25:53] Mark: I kind of can't believe I didn't remember to mention IX Denver, uh, that's a nonprofit that both of us have launched almost 10 years ago now.

[00:26:01] Mark: So get out there and give back to your community. You know, I have been doing that kind of work for free for almost 10 years now and it's great. I would never have changed it for the world. We saw a problem in our community and made it better, still getting better. So I guess I would say that, um, you know, once, once you're in a place where you can, uh, try to give back.

[00:26:25] Chris: I definitely support that. Mark. Thank you so much for sharing your story with the imposter syndrome network and thank you to all of our listeners for your time, your attention, and your support. If you found this episode insightful, or interesting, or even just entertaining, please consider paying it forward by letting others know about this show and the great guests we have on.

[00:26:46] Chris: Before we close out, Mark, I have one more question. Is there anything you would change about your career if you could? 

[00:26:53] Mark: No, not at all. I can only accept what has been, what has come my way, so no. 

[00:26:59] Chris: Awesome. We will be back next week.