October 24, 2011 / General
As you can tell from the title of this post, this is my first Cabling Chronicles blog. My name is Harley Lang and I'll be the guy doing most of the blogging here, so let me introduce myself and how I got here. The story could start with a ten year old boy using a lineman's snips for school art projects, but instead it starts in 1995 when I was a college sophomore, fresh out of the Marine Corps and in need of a job.
Cabling jobs were easy to find in the late 90's. After a few phone calls, I landed a job with a Seattle area contractor as a “ground man” on an underground cable placement crew. I spent more time in flooded trenches than on the ground that fall, and I felt pretty “salty” by the time I got promoted to “Cable Monkey” and traded my shovel, muddy boots and reflective vest for more comfortable clothing and a bag of hand tools.
But it turns out that I still had lots to learn. Companies were throwing borrowed cash at network upgrades and I got to help build some of the world’s biggest and most advanced voice and data networks. It was a crazy time! The technicians were far over their heads, best practices were obscure, and training was nonexistent. But the industry was growing at an epic rate and fueling job growth. Soon after I graduated from college I found myself in charge of a major product line for a cabling manufacturer. Ironically, the first question I was asked in the interview was “…do you consider yourself to be autodidactic?”
This story is probably more entertaining than unique. There are hundreds if not thousands of people like me in our industry around the world. The lessons we have learned along the way keep providing value. But the industry and the world have changed over the last decade, and it turns out that one cannot fly by the seat of their pants forever. To be successful as the industry has matured, we have had to take the time to get the formal training necessary for cabling professionals. And several other things remain important to our success:
• Intellectual and technical curiosity about how things work.
• Finding the truth among the marketing hype and political wrangling.
• How to turn technology into business or commercial value.
• Keeping the complex understandable by making it simple.
• Have a vision for how technology might change someone’s life.
In this blog, I will share encounters with these concepts as I interact with colleagues, travel around the world to visit customers and attend industry events, or ruminate on what I have heard. I hope it will help you be more successful and motivate you to comment!