Thursday, June 14, 2007


I know what you are thinking. Yup, that movie is really cool. The battle scenes are awesome. The fighting skills are great. And the Queen is so pretty and wise.

But I’m not going to discuss about how those 300 Spartan soldiers fought for their country in Battle of Thermophylae. 300 here is the number of hours in the lab that I’m planning to do before I take my CCIE lab. Why 300? Same reason with King Leonidas, I guess. Or maybe it’s because I spent about 900 hours practicing in the lab for my first CCIE. And for the second, about 600 hours. Now I’m going for my third CCIE, and looking at the pattern I told myself I need to do at least 300 hours.

I have only 60 days left before my lab date, so if I want to lab for 300 hours I must do at least 5 hours a day. Doing 4 to 5 hours a day is not difficult since I always stay until late anyway, so I can do it after I finish my work. Yeah, right. That’s if you work for 9-to-5 company. In Cisco I don’t have to come to office at 9 as long as the work is done. Which means I may work for more than just 9-to-5. Well, it also means I may work most of the time. And I don't even have to come to office at all (except for the free bananas :))

The key here is to fully utilize the weekend. 5 hours a day means 35 hours a week. If I can do even only 2 hours lab during working day, I still have 2 days in the weekend where I can lab for 12 hours a day.

So when is the time for social life?
Uhm.. what is that, anyway?

My only challenge is with the frequent flyer life style. My lab is located somewhere in Cisco internal network so when I travel sometime I don’t get Internet connection to access them. Or the Internet might be very slow. Traveling also means it’s difficult to bring the books along since they are heavy. And I really don’t like to read from my notebook.

Fear not, I got the Internetwork Expert Advanced Technology class-on-demand for CCIE SP recorded as .avi file that I can play in my Creative Zen Vison W. So everytime I have spare time but no access to my lab, I can listen to the Two Brians explaining the SP technologies. Even the Zen screen is small, I still can see the command typed in the video. And just FYI, Zen has a slot to plug the CF card from my digital camera.
Yeah, vote Zen for CCIE-wannabe-that-must-travel-all-the-time!

I have to admit that many times I was tempted to delay my lab date. But then I told my self, if I delay this once I may do it again and again later. So no more excuse, I will do it in the next 60 days. Unless for some reason I don’t get the Schengen Visa to go to Brussels or my company asks me not to go.

As Leonidas said:
“Spartans never retreat! Spartans never surrender!”
For tonight, we dine in Hell!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Finding Talents

I just returned from Hongkong for some Cisco internal training. Wait, it doesn’t sound right.. let me re-phrase it:
I went to Hongkong to go to Disneyland, roaming around to take pictures and to check out the night life. While I was there, coincidentally Cisco conducted some internal training that, they said, I must attend. So I decided to pass by Cisco Hongkong office and attend the training since I had spare time anyway.
Well, you don’t have to believe this statement. But one thing for sure, going to Cisco office also means free soft drink and snacks, and if you are lucky you may get free banana :)

Anyway, the training was about finding my talents. It is not the talent in playing piano or such, but more into discovering my talents that related to professionalism at work, and turn it into the strengths that can make my work more efficient.
Yeah, you may think: that’s just another physiological crap. But I had to attend it regardless, and here are my top 5 talent themes I got from the website that I must take before going to the course:

Adaptability: prefer to “go with the flow.” They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time

Significance: want to be very important in the eyes of others. They are independent and want to be recognized

Positivity: have a enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do

Activator: can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient

Harmony: look for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement

Okay, I like the Adaptability one, especially the part of "discover the future one day at a time". But I think the rest of them are not the top 5 talents for an engineer. Top notch engineer, I believe, should have the following:

Analytical: search for reasons and causes. They have ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation

Learner: have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them

Achiever: have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive

Self Assurance: feel confident in their ability to manage their own lives. They possess an inner compass that gives them confidence that their decisions are right

And just add the Adaptability because it sounds cool. Those are the talents that I wanted to have. Imagine, an engineer like me doesn’t even have Analytical and Learner. And without Achiever and Self Assurance I can imagine losing my path to go to the next level.

I really wanted to change my talent themes during the training (I can, since the output from the assessment on that website is sent only to me and not to Cisco) but deep inside I have to admit that all of them are correct. Most of my work so far requires flexibility and my ability to adapt for changes (Adaptability), I always want to feel that my work is important and get recognition from others (Significance), I like to influence people to take CCIE and move ahead (well, I count that as Positivity), I have no patient to grow, no obstacles should be in front of my project or my development (Activator) and I notice that I’m fit in the project where there are many engineers from different background involved and I have to collect all the proposed designs from them to come up with a design that I hope can satisfy everyone (Harmony). Those are the talents that I have been using in my role as Consulting engineer. So it looks like my current role and my life style are fit with my talents.

So the question now is whether I want to accept my talent themes as they are and focus on developing them to become my strengths, or try to dig deeper to shape those talents that I want (Analytical, Learner, Achiever, Self Assurance) to become a top notch engineer.

Ah well, why bother.
Like you said: it’s just another physiological craps, isn’t it?
But after reading this if you feel curious, I suggest you to check the book that was used in the course: Now, Discover Your Strengths.