Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saying Goodbye Is Important

Maybe because it's a rainy, cold day and I'm feeling really sentimental because my oldest daughter is visiting. More's because of what happened to me today that I'm writing this post. Here is my thought.....

I have always felt that it is very important to say good-bye to somebody when you should say it. The first reason why is kind of obvious. The second reason is why I felt compelled to write this blog post today.

Primarily, it's important to say good-bye to somebody when they are moving or you are moving or they are getting old.....or you are getting old. You may never see them again. This is an easy one, relatively speaking though some people still don't like doing it. Here's why; People sometimes feel like if they say good-bye then it might "come true" and they might never see you again. It's sad. It's true though. People like to say all kinds of little tricky things like "I don't say good-bye. I just say see you later!" Or they like to say things like, "This isn't good-bye it's just 'until we meet again'." What they actually do is let the relationship kind of slide out into the vapor to wander around without closure or validation.

I like to say "Good-bye." The reason is because of the second reason you should say it. Because saying good-bye validates that you have a relationship. It means that you have had fun visiting. You've had a nice time with them. You're glad you got to know them. You are glad you got to spend time together and you won't quickly forget what you have shared. It validates your relationship. Saying good-bye doesn't end your relationship it strengthens it by actually admitting that it means enough to you to say good-bye and admit you recognize it's about to change. You are saying that the change in your relationship means enough to you to actually put a milestone in place.

At this point  you either think I'm nuts or you "get" what I'm saying. Here is my example from today though.

Some nice people across the street (Marius, Rosalie and their baby Amy) moved in a few months ago. We really didn't get to spend a lot of time together but we shared some good times and did neighborly things. Again, nice people. Well, they moved today. They are on their way to the airport right now as I write this. They are moving back to Germany. They have TONS of things on their mind. They have loads of excitement, stress and anxiety they are dealing with as they take their new baby back home to Germany after a brief (too brief in both of our books) stint in the United States. But....before they left for the airport, on a rainy and cold day, they take their baby and come across the street to knock on my door to say good-bye. That is awesome. validates that they value what time we've had. It says they want to stay in touch. It also (and listen closely here young adults) says that grown people say good-bye and walk through the awkwardness and sadness and do the right thing when they could have EASILY just driven to the airport and never seen me again. What a classy thing to do. They actually came and said good-bye. They said, "We will probably never see you again but we are glad we got to know you." And I said the same and I smiled and wished them God's blessings in their life. If they had just "left" I would have thought they never really cared. They might have thought that I was just some dude across the street that didn't really care about them. But...neither is true.

Now......why all the fuss from me about this? Because if you read this you might take the time to say good-bye someday to somebody NOT because you don't know if you'll see them again but because you want to say that what you had was enjoyable and rewarding and important to you. That is a real gift that you give somebody. So call it what it is. It's good-bye and it's okay. If you see them again you'll still be friends. If you don't see them again there will be no denying that you both actually had a relationship you appreciated and that's.....kind of what you were shooting for in the first place right?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My friend Josh.

Friendship is something that I take very seriously. Probably, as my wife and I have discussed recently, too seriously. Sometimes I get my feelings hurt when I want to be friends with somebody more than they want to be friends with me or when I choose to invest in a friendship and there isn't much reciprocation. I guess we've all been there. I certainly have.

It's hard, particularly, for guys. Men don't tend to make new friends. Rather we have friends from early in our life and as we grow apart we end up being alone. Many of us are fortunate enough to have great wives like I am. But it's not the same. As a man you need a guy or two that you can really count on. I can really count on my friend Josh. Here's why.

Josh has been there with me since "the beginning". He was there for me when I didn't really know how to be a good friend. He let me make mistakes and we looked to each other for guidance and friendship when we were both young men trying to find the right path to go down towards manhood.

Josh tells me what I need to hear not what I want to hear. This is what makes Josh "valuable" to me. Listen to me carefully here. When I need to be told to sit down and shut up he tells me. When I need to be told to quit doing something he tells me. When I need to be told my thinking is wrong he tells me. When I need reassurance I'm on the right track in times of doubt he tells me that too. He doesn't apologize for disagreeing with me and he doesn't sugar coat anything to save my feelings. We don't have time for that. Neither one of us do. We are accountable to each other and while it's not all about being valuable to people I don't think you can discount how important it is that you shoot straight with your friends.

Josh is there for the important times and I'm there for him too. Whether it's a funeral or a wedding, a birthday or a bbq. Josh and I are there for each other. We've fished some great afternoons and we've sat by a campfire and laughed our heads off. We've smoked a cigar (or two) during times like when my son was born and toasted to his beautiful wife at his wedding. We've been to (not enough) Braves games and he's been there when my kids were born to hold them and to hug me too. I only hope he appreciates having me there as much as I enjoy and appreciate his presence in the special moments in my life. I'm sure he does.

It's Josh's birthday today. I wanted to just take a minute to let you all know how I feel about Josh. Many of you feel the same way about him as I do. Let's celebrate Josh and the friendship that he has shown all of us.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Exercising- Lessons Learned

One of the things I'm very in-tune with is how I learn. I can read something and it doesn't stick. I can hear it. I can say it. But when I WRITE IT....then it tends to stick in my brain. So I'm going to keep a running list (pun intended) here on this blog post of the lessons I've learned from my running, biking and general "working out".

I've been TECHNICALLY running since I was in the Marine Corps back in the 80's though I've only become relatively serious about running, mountain biking and working out on a regular basis in the past couple of years. Like most middle-aged men I have come to the realization that I'm not this guy and that if I don't start working out soon (and stick with it) I'll end up being this dude. So I started back with a few activities that I enjoy and try to do them on a regular basis. Here are some things I've learned:

1. Donuts and coffee are not fuel for running. Yesterday (July 30, 2013) I ate a donut and had an iced coffee at 4:00 and then went running at approximately 6:00. About 4 miles into my run my body quit. I mean quit. I was mentally ROLLIN' BABY!!! But physically my body said, "Nah,  you're done. Walk home." So I had to walk 2 miles back to the showers. I tried running several times on that two-mile walk back and it was always the same thing. I had no fuel. Lesson learned.

2. Mountain biking - Look ahead on the trail. If you look a foot in front of your bike you will crash. Seriously.

3. The weakest link in my regimen is not my equipment, it's me. Let me tell you what I mean. The reason I shoot golf poorly is not my clubs, it's me. I could buy expensive clubs and still suck. I could buy a $8,000 mountain bike (Here is one I like) and I'd still ride like a dude that's 45 and only been riding for 6 months. I have basic running shoes but buying really expensive ones aren't going to get me off the couch.

4. Running: You have to stretch properly and you have to have good shoes. I wore some shoes too long and didn't properly stretch for about two months. During that time I developed plantar fasciitis. Now I get to deal with that for a couple of months.

5. Long bike ride coming up? Put in the miles beforehand or your butt will be sore. Trust me!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Barksdale Elementary School

Just a quick post that is likely too long to put into social media outposts. I'll drive traffic here from status updates and Tweets.

I'm going onto the Barksdale Elementary School PTO Board as President this year. (2013 - 2014) I'm also on the committee to implement a STEM program at BES for our school choice initiative. Real quick, what that means, is that we'll be a school where students can apply to attend with advanced cirriculum in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The entire county is migrating to school choice options.

I'm looking for a few things and wanted to start the dialogue with you, my personal and professional network:

1. We want to provide some technology training for the teachers at BES.
2. We'll need to make some device and software purchases.
3. We need partners in the community for fund-raising and in-kind donations.

I need ideas, volunteers and friends that can help me find free/reduced-price technology. Regarding the PTO I will also need partners that want to help our school through things like gift cards, donations, raffle prizes and such in exchange for some marketing exposure through the school to our parents.

Please email me ( if we can talk about our school and how we can work together this year!

Scott Burkey

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Price of Shovels

Many years ago a good friend of mine used to tell me the story of the price of shovels. He said you could tell some people there is a huge pile of gold out in the parking lot and it's free for the taking. All you have to do is buy a shovel and take all of the gold you want. Some people will then promptly complain about, "Don't you know the price of shovels!"

I hear a lot from people things to the effect of, "Hey Burkey, I'm looking at getting into I.T. what do I need to do to get some of that sweet money you make and work 4 hours a day?!" In most cases I tell them how to do what I did. Then they tell me that either they are GOING TO DO IT!!! or that they'll "need to think on it."  I never hear from them again in either instance.

Here is what I tell them: (and if you are not in I.T. and want to get into I.T. here is what I would tell you too)

1. I didn't just fall a$$-backwards into a job making six figures that affords me the opportunity to write snarky blog posts all day. : ) I had to follow some steps. (2-7 below)

2. Pick what you want to do in I.T. (graphic design, computer networking, programming, security, etc..) It helps if you make a wise choice here. Use a mentor that is already in I.T.

3. Work at it in your free time for a long time. "I don't have any free time Scott!" Yes you do. You're going to have to be honest with yourself or you're wasting your time already.

4. Get a certification if you can. MCP, CSM, MCSD, CCNE something........

5. Get a part-time job doing what your certification is in.

6. Get a better, full-time job.

7. Keep doing #6 until you are satisfied. Note: Happiness is an inside job. Your profession won't take care of that.

If you want to discuss this and talk about how you can do this and what decisions to make in steps 2-5 I can help.  I'm serious. I will absolutely help anyone that wants to get into I.T. Somebody did it for me and I'll do it for you. 

If you want to try to find the trick to getting to step 6 without doing the four steps before it.....don't waste either one of our time. Time is the one thing I am in shortest supply of and I don't waste it hardly at all these days.

Now I go on this rant as a "qualified rant" meaning I have actually lived this.....several times. I was having lunch with a friend of mine today and we were talking about how he used to wash windows by day and build software at night until he could build software in the day and watch tv while eating ice cream bars at night. I worked on a loading dock all day and learned how to build websites at night until I could build websites all day and watch tv while eating Moon Pies at night.

There is a pile of gold in the parking lot. It's in parking lots all over Atlanta and San Francisco and New York and DC. It's in Raleigh and Charlotte and Austin and Chicago. gotta get a shovel and roll your sleeves up and harvest it. It's not easy. But the payoff is there. Trust me or not. Your call. But you can't borrow my shovel.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Open Letter To My Kids - Part One

This isn't meant to be the single "In Case Of My Demise" posting where you all read this at my funeral and it tells you everything I ever wanted to say to the five of you. But, it is me taking a minute to say a couple of things that I'd like you all to know. By the way, older kids (Ash...Maddie...) be sure to tell the little kids my thoughts on this after they are old enough to know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, my purpose of this blog post it to tell you guys what I think you should know about life. There will likely be multiple posts so I'm calling this one Part One. We'll see how many I do......

First of all - Tell everyone you know (and like or love) how you feel about them before you don't have the opportunity. I know that my Grandma, today, as she sits in her chair watching tv knows how I feel about her. I know because I tell her every time I talk to her. My Grandpa knew too. I told him how I felt about him and when I went to his funeral I had no regrets. None. I'm going to tell my parents again in three days how I feel about them. I tell each of you all the time how I feel about you. You should do the same. Regret is a hell of a pain if it hits you.

On a practical note, work less. Exactly. Work less. Not "once you have kids work less" though that is a good idea, too. I'm saying work less starting today. If you're single go do something meaningful and enjoyable with your time. It is....after all....YOUR time.

With that having been said, the best thing I can tell you is this; If you work hard and live within your means you will be okay. Of course there are crazy, unexpected things that happen but as a general rule if you work hard and live within your means you will be able to pay your bills and still enjoy yourself. When you don't put in a full day's work (and I'll go into what that is in a minute) and don't buy junk you don't need then you will be okay.

On the living within your means part I'd say that you need to live a lifestyle that your income can support. Cars are a big thing that you gotta watch out for. You may need a car but you don't need a lot of the cars out there. You've never seen me drive a fancy car and you never will. It's not necessary. Houses are the same thing. There is a gap between what you need to be comfortable in and what the mortgage broker will loan you. Be careful there.

Work. It's called work because it hurts. If it were fun you wouldn't get paid for it. If it were too much fun they wouldn't pay you for it. Your Grandpa used to tell me, "There aint no shame in paying the rent." He's right. I've worked jobs that I hated and I've worked two jobs when one wouldn't pay the bills. But I worked and you need to work too. There aren't any reliable shortcuts to hard work in life. I'm not just saying this to my son, I'm saying it to my daughters too. Chances of you marrying into money are slim. Plan on being in a career and make the most of it. Don't job-hop either. I did too much job-hopping probably. Don't do that. Get in a job and stick with it. Work stuff out. Like in your marriage. Work stuff out and have some staying power.

So that was today's post.

Tell people how you feel about them.
Work hard but not too hard. (Yeah, I know that one was conflicting)
Live within your means.

I'm going home to take you little kids on a bike ride. Ash, oh how I look forward to going on a bike ride with you some day soon my sweetie.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Quick Rant: IT Recruiters

Typically, I try to be positive.......focus on the opportunity......look to the silver lining. So when I wanted to sit and do a rant on this topic I told myself, "Now Scott, you should do something positive! Talk about the Top 10 Ideas for Great Recruiting Practices!"


Here is my rant: I've known technology recruiters as long as there have been technology recruiters. I've hired from them. I've asked them to find me a job. I've helped them get into my employer to place consultants. I've networked with them, done them favors, asked them for favors and even become friends with many of them over the past 17 years. I actually placed consultants on-site with clients for a brief period. Here are my thoughts, if you are an IT Recruiter, on how to not be a creep.

(By the way, I'll use the term "Recruiter" for both IT Staffing Company Sales People as well as Recruiters that source talent.)

1. Bring value before you ask for something. You don't know me. You've never done anything for me. You should read Ricky Steele's book.

2. If I help you get into my company....don 't embarrass me or drop off the face of the earth.

3. Quit telling all of us how GREAT your company is only to call us a month later to tell us that you are with a new great company. Whatever. I don't actually care about your company. People do business with individuals. People buy from YOU, not from your company. At least they do if you're doing it right. Then they will buy from you wherever you go. So I don't care about whatever company you happen to be working at right now. That's just my opinion. 

4. Don't build a relationship with me and then introduce me to some new kid that is going to "take good care of me" while you are now focusing on large accounts or whatever. I'm not interested in working with Skip or Josh or whatever his name is. This is still a relationship business. What business is a relationship business you ask? Any business is a relationship business. 

5. If you're going to turn your nose up at the rates we pay for resources, that's fine. But quit humping my leg like a horny chihuahua asking me to help you out with just the good reqs. You can't always cherry-pick the good positions if you want to get in with a huge, global company. They aren't going to just give you the top searches to work on. Get over yourself. 

Then, there's the other side of things when you are trying to get me to go to work for you or your clients. 

6. YOU cold-called ME. Good for you. It takes a lot of guts to call me at my desk, or on my cell, and say, "Hey, you interested in talking to me about a position I need to fill with my client?" You get big points with me for reaching out to me as a passive candidate. But.....then, when you start in on the grilling me like I was 22 years old and I was trying to pull a fast one on you you lose me quick. Here's an actual conversation I had yesterday:

Recruiter: "Hi Scott, I'm with Whatever Staffing and I'm looking for a CTO for one of my clients in Atlanta. Would you be willing to talk about this position?"

Me: "Sure, what you got?"

Recruiter: "Well, first let me ask you a few questions. What is your total experience with web technology." (Seriously, "web technology", that's not even proper grammar.)

Me: "You want me to explain to you everything I have done related to web technologies?" 

Recruiter: "Yes, please. Have you worked with web technology?" (Obviously, he's reading off a 3x5 card)

Me: "Let me talk to your supervisor."

I've been a web developer, database administrator, project manager, technology director and business analyst for 17 years. You want to know my total experience with web technolog(ies) on this phone call? Beat it. 

7. When I help you. When you ask me what you can do for me. When I tell you, 'I like Bass Pro Shops gift cards." I'm serious. If I help your company get placements with my employer I may actually want more than just a Christmas card. Ha  Heck, even if you don't place anyone for some assorted reason it's still courteous to remember those that made the effort. (so that they make the effort again the next year)

8. When you place me somewhere, and that place screws me over, it's okay. I don't expect that you knew they would do that I you shouldn't expect that I'm going to be real happy about talking to you. Ever. It's cool. This is why I don't do business with friends anymore. Friendships are harder to come by than jobs and should be protected. 

9. Final one, I promise. You are so hot and heavy to get me to come work for you it's pitiful. Your client (or employer) interviews me 4 times and then either drops off the face of the earth never to be heard of again or (maybe) gives me some lame excuse like, "We decided to hire an internal candidate." or "You're more qualified to be the Online Marketing Director than the VP of Operations. We'll let you know when we need an Online Marketing Director." Then....I see you post a position for an Online Marketing Director two months later and you don't call me I know you were full of it. It's all just ridiculous. You know why.....? Because you're going to call me in 3 months wanting me to help you out. Let's go back to #1 above. Ugh.......

Now, I know a lot of good recruiters. Some of them are reading this now. I also know some recruiters that are new in their career and that are learning bad habits already from bad supervisors and mentors. I also know some crappy recruiters that I secretly hope will find this post and call me out so we can just get mad at  each other and get it over with on the phone or in person. Any way you slice it, there are good and bad people in any profession. Heck, I'm sure somebody out there is doing a post like this and ranting about bad Project Managers, listing out annoying stuff I've done in my role. You know what....? I should get better or not be offended when I'm called out. 

Goodbye. : )