Blog URL: www.rtfm-ed.co.uk
Twitter handle: @mike_laverick
Current employer : Mike Laverick Ltd
How did you get into IT?
When I was 21 I became a teacher – just for a year. Teaching English in a UK school. I hated it. What's more the kids hated me. So I quit, and went back to live with my parents, whilst I figured out what to do with my pathetic excuse for an existence.
The week after I got home, the local University sent me a magazine for Graduates. I opened the first page – and there was an ad looking for Graduates to teach computers to newbies. It was the early 90's and folks were getting Windows 3.x and people were learning "What is a Wordprocessor?" and "What is a spreadsheet?".
I'd done a little bit of computer stuff at home. My first computer was a Sinclair ZX Spectrum in the 80s. But I hadn't really kept with it. I sold the computer for record player and guitar – and had discovered alcohol and girls (in that order… for some reason I've always had a better relationship with drink than women. Go figure…). At University the most I'd done was typed up essays using Word for DOS. During teacher training I'd been lumbered with the "IT and English" part of the curriculum mainly I was the only member of staff without grey hair. So really what I knew about computers could have easily fitted on postage stamp.
So I blagged my way through the interview and the train-the-trainer programme. The rest, as they say is history. I progressed from applications onto networks (Novell Knitware 3.11 and Microsoft Windose NT 4.) Bit later on I got into Citrix MetaFrame. By 2001 then I'd been made redundant and started my own training and consultancy company. By 2003 I was bored with Citrix whose star was already declining….
How did you get into working with VMware and becoming a 2012 vExpert?
I was bored. For while I looked at learning Linux. But that seems more of the same stuff I'd been doing, just a different OS. This VMware thing caught my eye. I'd been using Workstation in my classes for a while, but hadn't considered it as enterprise product until I saw ESX 2.0 and VirtualCenter 1.0. VMotion blew my socks off and I spent most 2004 learning the product desperately trying to make it into the VMware Certified Instructor (VCI) programme which at the time was only open to big education businesses (HP Ed, IBM Ed) or folks in the channel (Margius, DNS Arrow etc). In the end I got lucky when a student introduced me to the EMEA Manager of Education at VMware. They were desperate for freelancers like me – as the channel couldn't keep up with demand.
So I eventually got myself into the programme. By then I was very active on the community forums, and had been writing my own personal guides as memory aid. One day I decided to put them online for free, in the hope that other people would find them useful.
By the end of the week my ISP had stopped my website because of excessive downloads. I should have really charged $10 a download.
What would you tell someone who wanted to get a job like yours to do?
I'm not sure I really have a job in the conventional sense. My main revenue generator was training until about 2009. I sold my website to TechTarget Inc, a Boston based media outlet. For the last two years I've been an author, blogger, podcast, public speaker and part-time Elvis impersonator. The media side of this thing is fine – and the Global VMUG have offered me a terrific opportunity to improve my presenting skills to a large audience. I'm much more business oriented and business benefits oriented than I used to be. Apart from the authoring I'm less "down in the weeds".
Personally, I am where I am by a large dollop of luck and a large dollop of hard work. The luck was chancing upon VMware just before it exploded into the mainstream. I don't think that happens more than once in a lifetime. So my message would be keep open minded. Follow your gut. Work your socks off. When all those ducks line up in a row, tremendous things can happen that you would never have expected.