iCan Blog Archive

This week marks the 5th year of “i Can” – five years already?! When I review the long list of blogs that have been published, only a small number have content that’s dated – most of the blogs are as applicable as when they were first written. New readers of this blog might want to review the older articles.

My biggest challenge with the blogs is “What am I going to write about this week?” I still have a long list of topics to write about, particularly now that 7.2 is available … but there’s also the time factor that comes into play. This blog is an extra piece of work I do each week and is not really part of my regular job. Some weeks it’s not a problem to spend a few hours writing, but some weeks I can hardly find a few minutes to spare. Some weeks a guest author is immensely appreciated! Often the topics I pick are simply based upon how much time I have to write. I try hard to write something each week; occasionally I miss a week, but not too often.

This week, I’m going to diverge from the usual technical topics to share a little about my writing (and speaking) background. My English skills were rather poor in high school – both written and verbal. I attribute it to growing up in a meager, rural environment. I’m old enough (although I don’t like to admit it!) that there were no computers at the time. My high school writing projects were always done in long hand (I didn’t even have a typewriter until I went to college); I didn’t know how to think through my sentences prior to writing them down and rewriting was tedious. C’s were a typical grade on written papers. Although my English skills were poor, I was a wiz at math and went to college for a degree in Mathematics and picked up a degree in Computer Science as well.

Then two things happened – I got a job at IBM where I was surrounded by really smart people all the time, and I had access to computers. Being around really smart people helped my English skills improve dramatically – although some people were so smart I couldn’t understand what they were talking about! Although my English skills improved, my speaking and writing style remained somewhat basic – but this has been to my advantage as I’ve often been told that my style makes me easy to understand. Using a computer for writing is a huge benefit – I can easily cut/paste/copy/edit/rewrite – and rewrite I do! I rarely write a sentence correctly the first time.

The experience of going from poor language skills to writing a blog and public speaking has been unexpected, but very exciting. When I was 17, if someone would have told me that I would write often and be comfortable speaking in front of an audience, I would never have believed it. You can overcome handicaps and even let them work to your advantage.

This blog post was originally published on IBMSystemsMag.com and is reproduced here by permission of IBM Systems Media.