It’s amazing what can trigger a memory. Usually it’s a scent, travel to a previously familiar place, or even a song.

But today I was looking for something in our storage and uncovered… a football. Not a photo, a old piece of clothing, or even a scrap of paper indicating a major day in my life. A mini football.

This football really embodies an important period of my life, both personally and professionally. You see, this football was purchased, and first used as myself and a hundred or so others entered the world of tech support. We were briefly trained and set loose on supporting a major ISP’s dial-up (remember that?) and DSL internet service. It was my first real “professional” job in a string of being a retail and service industry employee.

It wasn’t my first brush with technology. I have been playing with, programming on, and fixing computers since my friend’s Apple II and my own Commodore 64 in the mid-80’s. Heck, I was a veteran of the internet by 1999 having been on BBS boards and basic ISP service since the early 90’s. I rose through the ranks fairly quickly becoming a TTL (tech lead) in just a few weeks, monitoring calls and coaching techs to get better. I was a technical trainer. I worked on the group’s website to get information out to technicians in three separate call centers. I manually, and eventually electronically developed a call routing system that made sure calls were sent to call centers with availability. I worked with Tier 2 (upper level techs) in the ISP’s headquarters to streamline the support process, even creating a tech group between first level technicians and Tier 2 to handle harder issues that didn’t need direct connection to critical infrastructure tools. And finally, I was reluctantly moved into a management position.

All of this happened in a short time, but that brief two-year job set the next 20 years into motion.

I hunt and play softball with one of my supervisors from this job. Another lives just a block or so up the street from me. I play volleyball with another co-worker. An Officer Cartman doll still sits on my shelf right above my laptop that patrolled my office, a gift from another employee. My next job was a COO (eventually) position managing and working with several people from my teams. Almost every position I’ve had since, regardless of the job type, had someone I either supervised, or worked with at that job. Some of the people I worked with have leadership positions in companies or other organizations, even political positions.

What Is Love - HaddawayThis little football represents so much. I’m still building websites. I’m still consulting on technical issues. I’m still using the internet as the primary tool for marketing and performing work. I even used the internet to listen to some 90’s music while writing this blog post.

The important takeaway today is you never know how the experiences from a current position will affect you in 10, 15, or even 20 years. I am back working with someone I haven’t done anything with in almost 15 years on a new project. I never expected THAT!

Use every project, job, encounter, whatever as a learning experience. Get better at what you do because of it. Get better of interacting with people because of it. That way, when you find your football again, all of those experiences, good and bad, will come back to you as well and make your personal and professional life better because of it.

Have a great holiday season, everyone, and here’s to a wonderful 2017!