Monday, May 30, 2016

Five Years Blogging

A little more than 5 years ago I started the RapidGroove blog with a post called “I think that bird said beep.”

I had my reasons for starting to blog; I wanted to challenge myself to be productive through more frequent writing on interesting non-work topics and hoped that it would help me to hone my writing skills. I also hoped it would be a fun way to connect with friends on interesting topics in an even deeper way than is practical on Facebook and Twitter.

In the spring of 2011 I had applied to grad school and was wait-listed. I knew I’d try again in 2012, so the year in between was a time during which disciplined writing practice made good sense. I’m happy to say that I got into my graduate program the following year on my second try, and two years after that completed my Ed.D. degree. 

During these last 5 years I’ve written nearly 200 blog posts – sometimes just once a month, at other times as many as 3 in a week. I even borrowed from my studies from time to time to share something with RapidGroove readers, such as when I posted a piece I wrote called Does History Matter.

Life Happens

Also during this same 5 year period, I have had some life experiences. During a management restructuring in 2015, after 20 years with my then employer, I suddenly found myself unemployed. I took the opportunity to step up my commitment to teaching both graduate and undergraduate college classes at several Philadelphia-area colleges and universities. I taught 7 courses over a little more than a year and attended many seminars and training sessions on modern teaching and learning practices. Most of all, I confirmed my suspicions that I would really enjoy teaching and being part of the student experience. I know that teaching is something I will return to when I can.

During this same time period, I started to look for a new challenge in a professional Information Technology position. Despite all the conventional career advice that a man in his 50s who finds himself out of work should look for a lateral move (that is, look for another Senior Director or Executive Director position in my field), I decided early on that I would set my sights higher. I would focus on moving up to a Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO) position.  As long as I was being aspirational, I decided that for now I would not seriously consider relocating, and I would remain focused on higher education, so I would be looking for great college and university positions within driving distance. That was a tall order – there aren’t all that many positions that met my criteria. Thank goodness my wife was supportive and well-employed. We could afford for me to methodically pursue such a position.

Months passed. I was teaching classes and applying for only a few great opportunities. I was also visiting my elderly mother more often. It was clear that she was coming to the end of her life and I was very glad that I could be with her more often. When she died in early February of 2016, I was grateful that I had spent quality time with her, including being with her on the day she passed away.

Over the months, I had made it to the final round of a few CIO searches but had not landed a position. By March, an exceptional local university was moving toward a decision and I was again a finalist. In April I accepted a position as Vice President and Chief Information Officer at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. I’ve been there now for about a month and I’m thrilled and honored to be part of their leadership team.

So what about that blog?

During these last five years, whatever else was going on (grad school, family issues, job changes, etc.), I blogged when I could. My blog posts have been seen more than 40,000 times. That’s a small number compared with the many popular sites on the Internet, but seems to me to be a fairly large number for a personal blog. I’m surprised and happy. Some of my popular posts have, predictably, been on technology topics. But other popular posts have been on grilling seafood, boating and fishing, and even the importance of voting. These and many other subjects I've written on are integral parts of who I am, and it is truly a pleasure to discuss them with all of you and to listen whether you agree or disagree with me.

Writing this blog has been a fun and rewarding experience for me. I’ll take a break for a while as I put all my effort into succeeding at my new position at West Chester University. But from time to time when an interesting topic comes my way, I still hope to write... just not as regularly or as often.

Thanks to you all for a great 5 years.


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