Chase that Ghost

This is my first post for the 6 week Support Driven writing challenge. For this post, the topic is “Our history shapes us – what path led you to Support? Was it a planned career? Or did you happen upon it?” I revisit the Origin Story I wrote for the 2015 flavor of the #challenge.

… I didn’t set out to become a Support Professional.

  • Me (2015)

When I look back at my professional history, I realize that I was on the path to becoming a Support Professional from the beginning.

One of my grandfathers serviced typewriters and other machines for a bank, this type of role that would become “IT.” Growing up, my dad managed a support desk. My mom calls me her help desk for when she has a question about her iPad. This type of work is in my DNA.

When I was in college, I shunned a non-help desk internship, for a help desk position in the Political Science Department. And since graduating college, I’ve only held roles in the support industry.

Becoming a support professional was no accident. The accident was thinking that I could be something else.

Going into my college career, I choose Civil Engineering as my major. Becoming an “Engineer” was something I aspired to be. Chemistry and I could never get along, so I quickly transferred to a business degree. After graduating, this would haunt me for the next ~5 years as I chased the ghost of engineering.

After college, I joined a big bank working in their support department. It was hard work, being in a phone queue for 8+ hours a day, working with loan officers trying to close deals while having technical issues, and adhering to strict metrics. Looking back it was good for me, I learned how to get pushed around by people and bounce back 5 minutes later, and I learned how to work with people in stressful situations. It has become the foundation of my career.

The first job after the big bank gave me the opportunity to create a title. “Oh, Fancy!” I thought. I gave myself the title of “Support Engineer.” At the time I was so excited, here, the guy that couldn’t get through chemistry still had “Engineer” in his job title! The next job was similar–my title still included “Engineer,” yay me!

Fast forward a few years and my job title at Wildbit is “Customer Success” and I couldn’t be more proud that it doesn’t include “Engineer.”

What changed? After discovering the Support Ops podcast, Support Driven, and reading numerous books I’ve adopted a Customer Centric view for my career, I realize that being an “Engineer” has no notion of anything that I’m good at and was a dream that 18-year-old me was chasing.

Today, I’d much rather have a “Be So Good They Can’t Ignore Your” philosophy and work from there. I’d prefer working hard in the weeds, and value learning over a job title.

Each day, I’m going to become a better support professional. Some days, I might learn new thoughts on Customer Success, others it’ll be how to handle an email better, and sometimes it’ll take me in a direction I never expected as I learn more. For example, I’ve been reading “Setting the Table” and it’s opened my eyes on what hospitality means and why it matters when making a great customer experience (Hint: It starts by empowering your colleagues).

As I think about my future, I remind myself a great blog post Gregory Ciotti wrote, titled “If You Aren’t Cringing, You Aren’t Improving.” Just as I want to cringe at the “Origin Story” post I wrote over a year ago, I’ll cringe at this post someday–And that’s okay! The only way to keep cringing is to keep improving.

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