Author spotlight: Jeff Hicks - Windows PowerShell pro, Microsoft MVP & thespian
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There's more to Pluralsight author Jeff Hicks than meets the eye. This proud New Yorker transitioned from commanding the stage to commanding his scripts, and we're sure glad he did. From TrainSignal to Pluralsight, personal blogging to blogging for sites like Petri IT Knowledgebase and MPCMag.com as Prof. PowerShell, Jeff's dedication to sharing his tech prowess with the world has benefited the tech community for more than 25 years. His passion is undeniable, and not just for PowerShell. He's also a firm believer that toilet paper should roll out on top and cats are pointless pets. Whether or not you agree with his take on four-legged friends, you have to admit Jeff is a great author, writer and speaker. Get to know Prof. PowerShell.
You got your BA and MFA in theater. How did you transition from fine arts to the art of scripting and automation?
Yeah, my theater background always comes a bit as a surprise to people. My MFA is in directing, as I've always been more of a behind the scenes kind of guy, much like an IT pro. My original goal was to become a college professor, but with the job market at the time, it didn't pan out. One thing led to another, and here I am today. I still get to teach and exercise my creative interests through writing, my Pluralsight courses and solving IT problems with PowerShell.
You live in Syracuse, NY. What's your favorite part about New Yorker life?
Central New York is a terrific place. Yes, we get a lot of snow, so you have to embrace it. But the fall colors are magnificent and sunny summer days are glorious. For our family, a real perk is proximity to the Adirondacks where we frequently vacation.
With your jdhitsolutions.com blog and active Twitter account, you could say you're really passionate about PowerShell. What excites you most about this technology?
After you have invested the time in learning some PowerShell fundamentals, what I find so fascinating is how you can accomplish so much with little effort - and you don't have to be a .NET developer. I'm always trying to find ways for IT pros to learn, embrace and extend PowerShell so that they can get their work done and go home.
Share some of your most memorable career moments or highlights and why they were so special.
I remember speaking at my very first TechEd when PowerShell first came out. I presented a session on moving from VBScript to PowerShell. It was the first time I had been to TechEd as well so I was blown away by its scope and size. Speaking at TechEd had been on my career bucket list and it was a lot of fun.
Conferences: which is your favorite to attend and favorite to speak at?
I very much enjoy attending and helping organize the annual PowerShell Summit. While it is relatively small at only three days, and with an intentionally small number of attendees, the intimacy and intensity is amazing. A small group of hardcore PowerShell enthusiasts get together to share what they are doing and help guide the future of the technology. You won't find this amount of product depth at any other Microsoft conference, plus we have unfettered access to many members of the PowerShell team like Jeffrey Snover and Lee Holmes.
How did you become a Pluralsight author?
I originally created courseware for TrainSignal. I think over the course of a year or so Gary Eimerman, now VP of IT pro content at Pluralsight, “wooed” me to author for them. Once the time was right, I jumped in and haven't looked back.
What's your favorite Pluralsight course you've authored and why?
I really enjoyed the Play by Play I recorded with Don Jones. I've known Don for a long time and we're frequent collaborators, but we are rarely in the same location. This course features the two of us sitting at a table, bantering back and forth about getting started with PowerShell and the thought process you might follow to solve a problem using PowerShell. I like the course because it lets the viewer sit in on a conversation between two PowerShell experts and learn something along the way.
You're definitely not shy about sharing your scripting skills. What do you love most about teaching others?
One part is that I like to think I am making a difference in someone's life. I have had more than one person come up to me at a conference and thank me for my work. In a few instances, they tell me their career has advanced as a direct result of my work. The other part, and something I'm more likely to see during a private training class, is that light bulb moment when something clicks and it all comes together. My ongoing work is to find new ways to produce these types of moments.
What are the top three qualities you think every successful tech pro has?
These aren't in any particular order but I think a successful IT professional has to be curious about how things work, be self-motivated or directed, and recognize that learning never stops. If you think about it, these are all related. Successful IT pros must recognize that things change and be willing, if not eager, to learn more.
What advice would you give those who are trying to get started in the tech field or who want to advance?
Be willing to embrace the qualities I just touched upon. The only person who can advance your career is you. Don't wait or rely on someone else to provide the learning opportunities.
If you could be good at anything non-tech related, what would you pick?
I love the idea of gardening, especially herbs and vegetables. I'd love to be good at it, or even have the time and space to do it.
You like reading, cooking and wine. What's your favorite book, dish and bottle?
One book that has really stayed with me is Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. I'm a fan of big, juicy Napa Valley cabernets and love a well-prepared, classic cassoulet.
Hear more from Jeff Hicks by checking out some of his Pluralsight blog posts and visiting the links below.