Welcome to the new Surdek Solutions website! I worked on this project part-time for the last few months and I am very happy to finally have it online! What should you expect from me moving forward? To learn more about the new website, please read on!
2014 Update: I refreshed the website once again. As you read this, you may see that part of this text is outdated in terms of talking about the various sections of the website. There was something important for me not to lose in this article so I did not remove it.
Why I started this website?
I started this website about two years ago because of some encouragement from Steven Teleki, a former manager of mine at IBM. Steven strongly believes that in the knowledge economy we live in, you need to stand out and distinguish yourself from the people around you. This web site is a platform to allow me to share my experiences and publish my thoughts on different topics. I met many great people in my life that helped me be successful and I am a great believer in giving back. This website exists so I can share my stories and help others grow by learning from me. As Seth Godin would say, this is a place for people to find gifts.
This site is a reflection of the real life Steffan. At times, writing publicly on a website like this is more difficult than you would think. I always need to find the right balance for the following audiences:
- Colleagues / Management: I write a lot about my work and some colleagues know about my site. The challenge is finding the right way to tell the truth, without offending anyone if anyone knows about the situation I am writing about. The opinions I express here also need to be consistent with how I act in real life.
- Potential Clients / Employers: I realized this one when I left IBM earlier this year. I have no way of knowing who visits this website, so you I to make sure I do not write anything that I will regret later. When I wrote about leaving IBM, it was hard at times to keep the focus on the positives.
- Myself: I am probably my harshest critic and I come back to an article and reopen it a year later, I would rather not cringe at what I wrote. I reserve the right to chuckle though at how naive I was when I wrote the article. It would probably surprise people how much time I can spend writing and editing before I click the Publish button.
At times, to meet these objectives I leave some areas about my professional life unsaid here. Readers may find everything I write here has some positive twist put to it, I do this to move forward, learn and grow. There are some entries that I write that I do not publish because they do not meet the objectives.
Why the new website?
Since A Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum, the book I co-wrote with Elizabeth Woodward and Matthew Ganis, came out, the flow of traffic to my website is on the rise. I realized that I needed to do something to take it to another level. In the last three months, between talks, articles and work I slowly started rebuilding the site. When I redesigned the website, I had these objectives:
- Building my own brand: In the knowledge economy, building your own distinct brand is important so I designed this new website with an eye towards doing that. I am a technical person, not a marketing person so this is proving to be a good learning experience for me. At the same time, I like to push myself further and see how far I can take something. There are many different branding elements I am putting in place with the new website. As I create new talks, I will start using these more.
- Building expertise and sharing knowledge: When I give talks, sometimes there are attendees that ask me questions about topics of interest to them. I cannot always answer them on the spot either because there is no time or I do not have the answer. I see this website as a platform to enable myself to find and share answers either threw articles or blog entries.
- Sharing exclusive content: The biggest advantage of this website is that it removes the dependency on others to publish what I write. Whatever I write that I do not submit externally, I will publish on my own site. The Publications area of the site will contain these articles.
- Advertising for talks and published articles: I also intend to use this website to advertise dates my talks in the Upcoming Talks section of the home page. The Publications area of the site will contain links to any articles I publish on other web sites.
- Sharing audio clips: This fall, I bought myself a wireless microphone to record myself as I am doing my talks. The recording quality varies, but I intend to publish clips of some of my talks to help share more of my experiences. When I write, I try to share my passion, these clips will now allow people to hear it too and I hope they will learn something while getting a chuckle. When you listen to the clips in the Media Vault area of the website, you will see another piece of the brand I am building.
- Podcasting: This is a pet project of mine that I will try to make available in January 2011.
Why I do these things I do?
I had supper with a mentor a couple of months ago. We spoke about how my professional experiences in the last few years shaped where I am now. I also shared with him my ideas about rebuilding the web site, working on personal branding, giving talks and everything else I am doing these days. He asked me an interesting question that night: “Steffan, tell me the endgame? What is your goal?”
Before I answer the question, let me give you some context. I have a full-time job as an Agile coach in a large company. I do the website updates, talks and articles on the side. Thankfully I can reuse and redo talks easily once the materials are ready. When I worked on the book with Elizabeth Woodward and Matthew Ganis, there were times where I spent three to four hours a night just editing and writing content. These projects are time-consuming and at times sometimes feel like a second full-time job! So if you happen to be a semi-regular visitor, this explains the occasional long lag between updates.
Money is another consideration. When I spoke at AgileTour Quebec City and for the Agile Ottawa user group last month, it was specifically to promote the book. I can hear some of you thinking right now: “Bah, you are getting royalties… You are making money off the book!” The answer is no, I am not because the three authors agreed to give those royalties to charity. Those two trips were around a three-hundred dollar expense for me and that is aside from the six books I gave away.
Why spend that time and money? Why bother when I can still say I am a published author right? Personally, I do it because my passion for succeeding and trying to empower people fuels my life and helps me continually push myself to reach that next level! I love to take on projects where I have no idea if I will succeed, just to see if I can help the people around me succeed.
When we wrote A Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum, this passion helped me get through the project and get it done right. I reached a point where I realized I could no longer turn back no matter how hard it was. Through her dedication, one of my co-authors in this project Elizabeth Woodward inspired me to keep pushing on and finish the project. Together we were unwilling to fail.
When I give talks, this passion drives me to give back to the audience by sharing my knowledge and experience. I speak with heart and passion and try to inspire people to see change is possible. I design my presentation decks to support what I am saying during the talk so attendees need to listen and I need to be interesting!
Letâs go back to the question my friend asked me… “Steffan, tell me the endgame?” The answer I gave him that night was: “I am not sure yet but I know I need to build all this and good things will come. I know this seems like an answer pulled from the movie Field of Dreams, and maybe it is. Two months later, the answer is: “There is no endgame right now, I want to become a useful source of knowledge and make a difference for people. I want to push this as far as I can and see where it leads me.“ Reading through this, I guess you can still interpret it as build it and they will come… J
As a visitor, this means I would appreciate it if you visit regularly and enjoy the website! Comment on the blog posts and articles if you feel like it and feel free to email me personally through the contact form if you want to get in touch.
Thank you for visiting!