TechSnips: Startup Struggles and Eternal Optimism

A Startup Founder

Short term pain, long term gain. That’s what we hear from people when they are watching on the sidelines when we’re working towards a goal. These people either strive to motivate us or are entertained by watching us struggle and want to see how stubborn we can be.

We go to the gym, see no results the next day. We start eating healthy and feel no different. We stay in a job that’s meh just because it’s comfortable and we entrepreneurs bust our asses for nothing for months sometimes years in hopes of a big payoff someday.

What does each of these situations have in common? They all require either:

  • A. balls
  • B. stupidity
  • C. tenacity and grit

I’m positive it takes a little bit of each.

When I quit my job nearly eight months ago for an opportunity that had no guarantee, no paycheck and no clear end goal everyone thought I had a screw loose. “Grit! “, I told them. “No, it’s a vision!”, I told them. They’d nod and wish me well still thinking I was nuts.

Short term pain

Imagine for a minute you’re on a tightrope high above the ground wobbling on a 1-inch wire. Scary, right? Now imagine you have an enormous cushion made of baby lamb’s wool and unicorn tears below you. If you were to fall, it may actually feel wonderful feeling that soft embrace of the net.

You’d happily stroll along the wire without a care in the world. Who cares if I fall? Hell, I may jump! This is what a nice, cushy job feels like. Another week, another big paycheck. Ain’t life grand? For some maybe.

There’s no pain but no challenge. No fulfillment. Take your Hawaii vacation with your loads of PTO and buy that Ferrari. As my Australian friends say, “Good on ya!”. But what kind of way is that to live? What are you actually accomplishing? Do you feel like you’re making a difference in the world? If not, ask yourself if this is what you want for the rest of your life.

Sure. There will be fights with your spouse, you’ll question your sanity, you’ll run budgets nonstop to reassure yourself it’ll be OK and you’ll constantly wonder what you’re committing your life to really is a good idea after all. “WTF HAVE I DONE??”

It’s painful. Sometimes very. But nothing great comes free and without risk.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither can a fruitful and fulfilling business like TechSnips.

Long term gain

It’s been nearly eight months since I started TechSnips and I can finally say my attitude is beginning to change from a pain to gain mentality.

We’re not making loads of money by any means and we’re not a huge team capable of destroying our competition. We do, however, have momentum and a growing community.

Since we’ve pivoted to focus on our course partner program we received our first course payment this month. Talk about exciting! We now have 13 courses in the queue and our dedicated team of contributors are hard at work cranking them out. I can see the snowball starting to build!

We are an agile company capable of coordinating hundreds of moving parts at once though our highly systematized processes. I knew being Adam the Automator would come in handy besides the occasional blog article or two.

We’re attracting 3-5 new contributors every week who immediately are put in touch with Anthony, my first lieutenant/VP of Content where he’s able to get them up to speed fast and part of our community.

I can say that after all of the hard work, we’re finally hitting our stride. With a dedicated community, collective knowledge and everyone’s commitment to coming together making TechSnips a success, I know we will succeed.

  • Adam

My TechSnips Saga

A little background

Do you ever sit back and look at the path you took in life and wonder how you ever managed to get to where you are? I sure do. Like every day. I’m currently involved heavily with TechSnips, but I sure wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t started getting into the twittersphere back in April, and I sure wouldn’t have been there if I hadn’t made it to the PowerShell Summit this year, and I sure wouldn’t have been there if a spot hadn’t opened up, and I sure wouldn’t have been there if I didn’t decide to start dictating my own career this year, and well, I’ll stop there.

2018 was not going to be an exciting year for me. I had a steady low stress job that paid me my worth, but worked me like an IT pro with half my experience. So I ended up being paid more than ever, but after a leadership change, I was also stuck answering more phone calls than ever, even compared to my short stint in a Geek Squad call center. I initially decided that the pay plus benefits were too good to walk away from, but like any independent spirit, I always asked myself: What would this look like if I were calling the shots?

From a reminiscent standpoint, I see that my career was treading water. In our industry, you might as well just call the lifeguard if you are content treading water. I, fortunately, was not. I requested to go to the PowerShell Summit, but that request was rejected. And so, in a move that was unprecedented in my career, I made the call to request PTO for that week and take myself. The problem? I missed registration by 3 days.

I dutifully put myself on the waiting list even after reading the statement about how the waiting list is rarely utilized. Kind of like the old ‘we’ll keep your resume on file in case something comes up’. A fun fact about me is that I live within driving distance of Bellevue and I decided to share this information with Don Jones in case something came up. He promised that if something came up last minute, that I would be the first to know. And, I’m sure you saw this coming, but a last minute opening did arise and within 15 minutes of receiving the notification via email, I was a registered attendee for the PowerShell Summit 2018, my first conference ever.

Due to the situation mentioned previously, I decided to put in my notice for my day job the week before the PowerShell Summit with the intention of going out on my own as a consultant. I had no clients, no plan, and no consulting experience, but I had a dream that I was prepared to burn through my savings trying to achieve.

Without venturing too far out of scope here, the PowerShell Summit was career changing for me, literally the best $2000 (admission + expenses) I’ve ever spent. If I hadn’t already put in my notice, I definitely would have the moment I got back, though by that point I didn’t have a job to come back to, not that I shed any tears over that.

While I was at the Summit, I realized just how much a topic like PowerShell thrives in it’s community. Heck, I sat in on Adam Bertram’s side session on how blogging increased his income two-fold because of how attracted a knowledge sharing expert is to some businesses. One of his pieces of advice was to be active in the community, so I decided to take that to heart, and thus The PoSh Wolf was born.

After I got back from the Summit, I made my first tweet ever. Within two weeks I had a blog up and running and I even managed to make my first pull request on a GIT repository, specifically a simple typo fix in the README for PlatyPS. It wasn’t anything major, but it was a start. I had finally put myself in the position that I could start giving back to the community and it felt good.

How I found TechSnips

It wasn’t long after that I responded to Adam’s tweet for content producers. TechSnips was looking for folks interested in sharing knowledge in snip format, an unproven how-to style. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this is revolutionary when compared to the rest of the technical training landscape. In a 3 minute snip, we can walk someone through how to create a LightSail VM in AWS and you don’t even need to know what AWS stands for! You’ll never want to sit through a full AWS course after one of those videos.

The nerve-racking part about applying to be a contributor is the audition process. You have to pick a topic and demonstrate your skills. For someone like me, this was tough! I felt like an imposter. Sure I had 8 years of IT experience, but when put on the spot, it didn’t feel like it. If you want a laugh, check out my audition video (https://youtu.be/NYkZpE_IDjs). Its obvious why it was never published. It was terrible! But, after practice and some good feedback from the peer reviewing stage in our pipeline, I’ve gone from being a shy imposter to a confident presenter. This has made me realize that the only difference between the well-known content producers and the rest of us is that they choose to share their experience. For the most part, they aren’t stuck up jerks, they are just IT pros that are happy to share their knowledge.

Why I’m still here

Beyond the concise format, one of the things I really like about TechSnips is that they’ve fostered a community of like-minded IT professionals that are passionate about sharing their knowledge. These folks stick around because TechSnips has an amazingly efficient publishing pipeline that removes most barriers between an experienced expert and a polished how-to video. And this process improves as fast as you can make recommendations. After working in financial IT, I can verify that this level of nimbleness in a platform is insane.

Now, before you asked about this ‘efficient publishing pipeline’, let me ask you this: Have you ever tried to produce a training for YouTube or somewhere else? It takes a TON of time. Preparation, recording, editing, and finally publishing. Well, TechSnips takes care of the editing and publishing for all of their snips. This means that I, as a contributor, just need to hit record and walk the viewer through a how-to and the editors go back and add the flashy title, the highlights, and remove my mistakes. So, after having a few snips under my belt, I can submit a snip in an hour or two, depending on the depth of content. Then it gets published after some review and the editing process. It is that simple and that is what I love about it. You can keep putting off learning Adobe Premiere and focus on snipping.

One thing I scoffed at when I initially joined up was TechSnips calling itself a ‘Career Development’ platform. They are obviously just using that as a marketing gimmick to attract interest, right? But do you think improving your confidence develops your career? Or maybe having a portfolio of snips would look good on your resume? It sure looks good one mine.