I get asked about my work and background frequently.  To that end, I’ll answer the ten most commonly asked questions here.

  1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
    • I grew up in West Fargo, ND
    • I lived in Southern California for over 20 years
    • I travel globally, some years more than 50% of my time, so ‘in an airplane’ as well
    • I moved to Minneapolis, MN in 2019 to be closer to my family
  2. What do you do? What is your job?
    • I have been an independent Software Architect, Developer & Educator since 2011
    • I do contract work for clients globally
    • Client contracts can run as little as 1 day or as long as 1 year
    • I allocate 25-50% of my time as non-billable – for learning and volunteering.  I wrote a Medium post about it – “Learn | Build | Teach”
    • I am an advisor and board member of CarbonDown.
  3. Who do you work for? Who do you work with?
    • I run my own company.  I work for my customers, rather than for any big company
    • I hire virtual teams (subcontractors) for each contract, usually on an hourly basis
    • I often hire college students, career changers or others who are new to the technology we are working on. I wrote a Medium post about interviewing – “Tech Anti-Interviewing”
    • Many people have asked to work with me.  I wrote a Medium post about my process for hiring interns (any age) – “Intern with Me”
  4. Are you an employee of AWS, Google, Linked In, etc…? How many people have watched your courses?
    • I was a FTE for Microsoft 2007-2011
    • I am a recognized partner for AWS (Community Hero) & Google (Cloud Expert)  because of my public education work. I am not an employee of either company.
    • I am a contractor for LinkedIn Learning
      • I have created 30 courses on Cloud and Data topics
      • Over 4 million students have watched my courses on LI_L or YouTube
  5. What is your educational background?
    • I started college at age 15 (graduated at 19) from University of Minnesota
    • I am a life-long learner and learn new languages and concepts continually
      • New-to-me languages recently are Scala and Julia
      • New-to-me concepts include Calculus which I learned when I was 51 years old (mostly from Khan Academy)
      •  A few years ago a good friend got cancer, after that I started working with bioinformatics teams. I help build efficient, usable cloud analysis pipelines for genomics research, including for personalized cancer treatment.
  6. What advice do you have for me? I am starting a consulting business.
    • Understand work (you get paid) vs. activity (you are doing something)
    • Ask clients to pay you market rate or better
    • Work only with written contracts
    • Start with very short feedback cycles, one week long deliverables is recommended
  7. What advice do you have for me? I am a career changer.
    • Stop watching TV – use that time to learn
    • Work with college students on projects for non-profits
    • Work on projects you care about.  I’ve volunteered on tech projects for…
  8. Which should I learn now?
    • Statistics and Machine Learning – 3Blue1Brown is magical
    • Cloud data pipelines and security – build working stuff for non-profits to learn
    • Serverless, possibly Kubernetes – as above
  9. Where are you favorite cities and why?
    • Sydney – fun people, beautiful city, did I mention fun people?
    • Berlin – art, music and multiculturalism
    • Santa Barbara – stunning natural beauty, perfect weather
    • Oslo – solitude in a major city, jeg snakke lit Norsk også
  10. Where will you go next and why?
    • Glasgow – whiskey and search for my relatives
    • Shenzhen – IoT hub and startup center in China
    • Perth – must go to anywhere that is nicknamed ‘end of the earth’
    • Wellington – was in Auckland, loved it, want more New Zealand