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Monthly Archives: August 2015

August 16, 2015

Why Passing The CCNA Exam Will Boost Your Earnings

Passing the CCNA exam I began my career in IT during the early 1990s.  After a few years working on mainframe computers it soon became apparent that products from a company called Cisco Systems would soon become commonplace in the world of computer networking so passing the CCNA exam became my goal and it was achieved in December 1999.  That step was the first of several that have kept me gainfully employed for nearly two decades.

The fact that you are reading this at all is proof of how commerce, entertainment, information, and a long list of other activities have come to rely on IP networks that connect us to each other and a huge amount of the hardware and software that forms the infrastructure of those networks is designed and produced by Cisco Systems Inc.  Thousands of network engineers are needed in order to install, maintain, upgrade, support, and troubleshoot these devices.  Engineers move on to other roles and new engineers are needed.  In addition to the public networks there are innumerable private networks that connect company offices in the same country, across continents, and globally.

Pass The CCNA Exam

Cisco quickly realised that no matter how well designed and built there products were they would not be successful if those installing and supporting them were not sufficiently trained.  The routers and switches needed engineers who understood the concepts of computer networking and who could configure the hardware in such a way that they operated at the optimum level.  It was only by demonstrating to companies buying these expensive products how capable the hardware was that Cisco could have any hope of cornering a large share of the market.  So the Cisco Certification industry was born.

The CCNA is still widely regarded as the entry level exam for network engineers.  The concepts and subjects it covers form the foundations of IP networking and a firm understanding of them is invaluable to anyone planning for a career in this field. Over the years the exam has evolved to match the changes and the evolution within the industry and the technology on which it is based.  In my opinion the exam has become more demanding.  The last time I renewed my CCNA exam I considered it as tough as the CCIE written exam if not a little harder.

When I first read about the OSI’s 7 Layer Reference Model it was completely alien to me.  I had to read descriptions over and over again and study the training guides page by page for the idea to sink in and take root, but eventually the effort paid off.  Using a combination of study, class room training, and the use of metaphors I eventually began to understand the basic concepts of IP packets, Layer 2 switching, and Layer 3 routing.  The most useful metaphor to me at the time was the idea that the packets were like small parcels with a destination address and a sender’s (source) address in them, and the routers were like sorting offices, checking each packet as it came in and sending it out of the correct interface to its onward destination.

Boost Your Earnings

If your employer (or potential employer) is not technically minded then the production of a certificate proving that you’ve passed a particular IT exam is some reassurance that you do know what you’ve boasted about on your CV.  The certification becomes a goal, a benchmark, and successive exam passes and certification can mean that the IT company will be able to negotiate a better discount on the purchase of hardware from Cisco.  Companies who have CCIE, CCNP, CCIP, and CCNA certified staff are given a more favourable price when they enter into partnership with Cisco.  The minimum requirement for Gold Partnership with Cisco at the moment is four CCIEs.

The point is that for IT companies it pays them to train their network engineers.  It’s an investment that will pay off in better productivity, better service for their customers (and therefore the more likely possibility of renewed contracts), and in the long term a stronger partnership with Cisco and all the benefits that such a relationship can bring.  You can use this information to build a business case to persuade your employer to sponsor your residential CCNA training course!

Once you have achieved CCNA certification several options open up to you.  You can specialise in Voice or Security, or just stick to the well worn path of Routing & Switching.  You will be in a position to negotiate a pay rise, promotion, and further training.  Employers need justification to agree to a rise and if you can provide them with that then they are more likely to agree to it.  At the very least you could work out a longer term training plan to obtain one of the CCNP or CCIP certifications.  By doing so you will add to your knowledge and experience, and be in an even strong position to boost your earnings in the years ahead.

N.B. Check the Cisco website for details of the current exam numbers and make sure the study guides you buy written for the current exams and not an expired exam.

August 15, 2015

Why You Should Learn To Fly (And Start Today)

learn to fly

learn to flyIn July 2015 the aerospace giant Boeing predicted that the world would need 558,000 new pilots during the next twenty years.  If this forecast for half a million pilots jobs is correct (and they should know, being Boeing) then there has never been a better time to learn to fly.  If you start soon and work your way along the path to a career in the airlines then you should be ready to catch this wave of opportunity as it gathers momentum over the next few years.

Learning To Fly

If you have no flying experience at all then the idea of one day being the pilot of an airliner and  responsible for the safe take-off, flight, and landing of a multi million pound aircraft, along with its passengers, crew, or cargo, may see nothing but a dream, but like all such ambitions they can be realised with the right amount of concentration, perseverance, money, and sacrifice.

At the very start of your journey into aviation you’re going to have a lot of fun and excitement as you learn to fly.  The milestones are many and come in quick succession; first solo, first solo navigation, first land away etc and within a few months you will become one of the privileged holders of a Private Pilots Licence.  This licence will entitle you to fly specific aircraft within the limits of the type of licence you have elected to obtain.

At this point the path for some pilots diverts into recreational flying and that journey can last for years.  For the lucky few it can last a lifetime and some pilots continue to fly into their eighth and even their ninth decades, but for those whose aspirations are firmly fixed within the world of civil aviation then the achievement of the PPL marks only the end of first stage of training.

From there they must move quickly on to twin engine ratings, a Commercial Pilots Licence, and Instrument Rating, and onward towards an ATPL (Air Transport Pilots Licence).

As you can imagine, all this training takes a lot of concentration and application. It also demands a lot of sacrifice.  If you take this path you will probably drastically reduce (and perhaps cut out altogether) nights out, holidays, nice cars, new clothes, and all the other things that working people spend their money on.

Obviously, if money is not a problem for you then this won’t be the case, but for most student pilots it is not uncommon for them to reach the end of their training in debt to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds and it is only the promise of a long career in the airlines, with increments of salary as they gain experience and seniority, and ending with a good pension, that gives them the confidence to continue with their goals.

Flight Training

learn to fly microlights Learning to fly isn’t cheap.  Yes, it can be done on a budget but since this post is about the airline career path it would probably be a false economy to learn to fly microlights or some of the other smaller, lighter aircraft.

The number of flying schools offering flight training varies from place to place and in quality.  You should try a few of those closest to you before committing to spending all your money in one place, and even if you find what seems to be the rights flying school don’t feel you have to stick to the same instructor.

It’s vitally important that you get the best flight training from the outset and that you have a comfortable and enjoyable relationship with your Flying Instructor.

If you’re in your teens or twenties with a mature and focused attitude to study and training, if  you’re the sort of person who looks skywards whenever you hear the sound of an aero engine, if you dream of flying and seeing the world above the clouds then perhaps you should delay no longer and start planning your career in the airlines over the coming decades.

August 13, 2015

How To Stop Wasting Time and Start Making Money Online

How to make money selling on Amazon

Do you aspire to be wealthy?  Would you like to make more money, even just a little bit more?  What’s preventing you from doing so?  There are many reasons why you have not reached your goals or realised your ambitions, but I wouldn’t mind betting that those reasons include some I have listed below because I speak from experiences.  These are some of the ways in which I could stop wasting time and start making money online, and they may just apply to you too.  Let’s both learn from my mistakes.

Time Management

One of the things that makes you no different from all those successful business men and women and all those wealthy entrepreneurs, is the 24 hour day.  No one gets any more or less.  It’s a resource that cannot be increased nor decreased, but what separates us is the way those 24 hours are used.

Think about your average day.  What are your daily and weekly routines and tasks?  They probably consist of several or more of these following. If you can think of any more leave a comment at the foot of this post:

  • Sleeping. No one escapes this one.  People’s need vary but about a third of your average day is spent asleep.  This is when not only our body but your brain detoxes.
  • Eating.  Even if you don’t cook or prepare any meals yourself everyone has to eat and drink and the quality of your food and your mealtimes has a direct effect on your productivity.
  • Exercise.  For some it’s an option, but like food and sleep, if your life lacks the enhancements that regular exercise can bring your productivity will reduce and it will lessen still further as you get older.
  • Chores.  Maybe someone does these for you, perhaps you pay someone to do them, but few of us get away with none at all.
  • Socialising. How much time do you spend with friends and family?  Again, it’s part of a healthy lifestyle.  You can’t live in isolation.
  • Recreation.  Do you have any hobbies?  Do you play any sports?  Perhaps you accommodate exercise into your routine here.
  • Work.  Are you working full time while you build your internet empire?  Are you obliged to devote a third of your day to your employer?
  • Traveling.  Do you have to commute to work?  If it’s on public transport you may be able to make use of this time, but if you drive your options are limited.
  • Vegetating.  I couldn’t think of another word that describes watching TV and browsing through social media.  You can kid yourself that it’s relaxation or even interaction with friends and family, and although there’s no harm in it in small doses, how much time do you lose each day due to these activities?
You can see how the above list quickly eats into your precious resource of time.  Somehow you’ve got to allocate time and energy to researching, planning, training for, and building your (online) business.  It takes self-discipline to:

  • Stop losing time spent browsing through Facebook and Twitter and allocate that time to being more productive
  • Stop losing time spent reading, watching, or listening to news that has no relevance to your life.  Most of it is pretty depressing anyway.
  • Spend more time on things that make you a more productive, well balanced, and energetic person.  Use the nourishment of sleep, good food, exercise, and the support network of family and friends.
  • Spend more time focused on your goals and make sure that time is free of interruptions.  We’ll cover this next.
  • Do one thing each day that is productive.  Complete a task, start another, take one step on the path every day.

Do Not Disturb

Perhaps you’ve arranged your time so that you’ve got two hours per day during which you can devote yourself fully to your business goals or any other ambitions. Maybe it’s more or less than that, the actual amount is not as important as the quality of the time.  This is your Golden Hour as some business coaches like to call it.  This is the time when you have to do the most important tasks of the day.  If you do nothing else that day use this time to write that blog post or article, do some training, create something etc. In other words, be productive.

In order to achieve this you need self-discipline and concentration.  You need to resolve to achieve the task you’ve set yourself, but you also need to be free of interruptions. Go offline, switch to ‘do not disturb’ on IM. Turn your phone to silent. Turn off the radio and write.  Tell your family you’re not to be disturbed and don’t answer any requests for contact in whatever form they come.  Stop checking your email and above all, stay off social media.

Writers of any type; authors, copy writers, bloggers etc. will tell you that writing is hard.  It’s the discipline needed to keep going day after day, sitting down to a blank page in front of you and starting, but that’s how they succeed.  They don’t allow themselves to be distracted or interrupted and they forge ahead with the task with the mental equivalent effort as the physical strength that a blacksmith uses to hammer and shape a rough piece of metal into a polished utensil.

Practice Discrimination

If you’re certain of your goals then this section probably won’t apply to you, but if you’re open to all kinds of ideas then you may be searching for any means to make money online or elsewhere.  This may mean that you’re losing time and energy by spreading yourself too thinly and trying too many things at once.

Google ‘make money online‘, or ‘work from home‘, or ‘build a successful business‘ and there are thousands of sites and blogs that claim to be able to advise you on these subjects.  You will also find a lot of people trying to sell you a course or tools that will lead you step by step so success.  After you’ve been researching these for a while you begin to notice a pattern to all these offers:

  • A free giveaway to entice you to register your email address
  • A discount on the full price of the course
  • A time limit for the discount
  • Free bonuses included
  • Up-selling of other products if you do buy the course

The above is a sales formula and it works.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that the course or suite of tools doesn’t give you value for money, but you have to discriminate and only buy those ones you really need.  It can take a long time to complete a course fully and to put into practice everything it has to offer, and it can take just as long to derive the full benefit from the suite of tools you bought. During that time, don’t be distracted by starting another course or buying another set of tools.  It’s better to be adept at one skill or with one tool than just a beginner with several.

Play The Long Game

Finally, keep in mind that apart from a large inheritance or winning lotteries there are no (legal) get rich schemes that work.  Keep in mind that you’ve embarked on a long term project.  Set yourself goals and milestones and keep moving ahead day by day.  That is a method that has brought success time and time again.

  1. Manage your precious resource of time efficiently
  2. Be productive every day and don’t get distracted
  3. Discriminate and stay focused on the key tasks

If you can offer any advice or feedback feel free to use the comment box below.