Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Geeks vs. Nerds vs. Me

These days it has become fashionable for computer technicians and networking consultants to call themselves geeks or nerds or something else as equally insipid. I shudder to think about calling myself by either designation. If being a geek or a nerd builds confidence in a client, then they should by all means run, not walk to seek them out. On the other hand, I like to consider myself a professional business consultant who does not need to come up with some kitschy phrase to identify myself. I know what I am doing and I do it. In popular parlance I am one of those that do, not one of those who can’t. I have built my reputation on personal relationships with clients. It is a level of service that they appreciate and respect - one that a geek or nerd knows woefully little. Right after Hurricane Katrina had hit New Orleans and I was literally stuck in Cleveland, I did fill out an application to join one of these outfits. The limited number of hours involved weekend work and the pay scale was hardly worth the 20-30 minute drive I would have to make daily. When I scoffed at the salary, I was told that a higher paying job might be available through a downtown office, but my calls were not returned forthwith and I was soon offered the job I most relished at the Cleveland Jewish News where I was able to work as an IT advisor and a staff reporter. Again, I believe there was a divine spark there -- some omnipresent force at play -- which prevented my being labeled a geek or a nerd while allowing me to write for a living. Can I get a Hallelujah? Back in the days when I ran my family record store, people would invariably ask me about how I felt when Tower Records, Virgin Records or Warehouse Records had opened up megastores or multiple locations around town. My answer was that we offered a level of service and knowledge that few could return in kind. To this day I see former customers who still bemoan the loss of our store. Yet not one of them confides in me how they wish any of the other music stores would return. The truth is they have all shuttered their stores or else gone bankrupt. They were all victims of the paradigm shift associated with record distribution in which the Internet now plays a critical role or the effects of rebounding from Hurricane Katrina were too severe. Nearly 12 years ago my mother and I closed our record store, keeping it open for select customers for several years thereafter until the building was leased. That gave me the time needed to reinvent myself as a computer technician and a networking specialist. During those days, when the record industry suffered its greatest losses, Netware was still considered the most prevalent computer networking option for business. In less than a decade Microsoft networks have become the preferred standard for business. Change is inevitable and not being able to transform one's self or deal with it head on will always slow you down or stop you dead in your tracks. I will be keeping up to date and trying to stay ahead of the curve because in reality, dear friends, it is vital in my business. Besides, it is the only assurance that I will never become a geek or a nerd.

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