Geek Mentoring: Don’t struggle with technology [Interview]
Sometimes you come across a person or business offering something so unique and so valuable to a great many people.
The problem is that what they're offering is so unique that no one really knows it exists yet. Once you know what it is, and how it works, you’ll want it!
Over the past year I’ve got to know Morgan who is the founder of TechHappy. One of the services that Morgan offers is ‘Geek Mentoring’.
I met up with Morgan to discuss what exactly it is that she offers and why it’s so special.
I love the phrase 'Geek Mentoring’ that you have uniquely coined for your service. It’s so unique that it’s showing up at position 1 on Google. Nice. What do you define Geek Mentoring as?
Geek Mentoring helps you find out what you didn’t know you don’t know about your technology. The objective is to make your interaction with technology more productive, more fun, less stressful and more secure. Importantly Geek Mentoring focuses on skills transfer by letting you put what you learn into action, and because it’s mentoring, rather than training, we only cover the things that are important to you. That means you get to make the most of your technology in the shortest possible time!
What sort of areas does Geek Mentoring cover?
Geek mentoring can cover any interaction you have with technology. I find most people want to know how they can use those readily available technologies they interact with on a daily basis to further their goals. That includes things like installing a password manager, making sure you have a robust backup solution (that works), identifying tasks you can save major time on through automation, deciding if you’d like to join Twitter, LinkedIn or the next up-and-coming social media platform, or implementing a plan to get more value from the systems that you’re already using.
Who would benefit from your Geek Mentoring service?
Geek Mentoring is great for anyone who wants to get more from their technology. I’ve delivered Geek Mentoring to a wide range of people - from Chief Executives, who are struggling to get their technology working in a way that makes their day less stressful through to up and coming young professionals who want to established a presence on LinkedIn and to access training through services like lynda.com.
I’m a real fan of the term ‘kaizen’, it’s Japanese for ‘continuous improvement’. It’s sometimes over-used in business and manufacturing as a bit of a buzz-word. Technology does move really fast though, and you can gain back a lot of missed value through continuous improvement of your technology eco-system.
If you have ever thought the following things about your technology, then Geek Mentoring can help you:
“Why is this stupid computer doing this???”
“This takes so long, and wastes my time, there has to be a better way”
“How come everyone else finds this so fast/easy??”
And if you’ve never thought these following things, then you might also benefit from Geek Mentoring:
“I’m just going to check my backups are working”
“Of course I use a password manager”
“I just added some great new automations, and they’re going to save me weeks of time each year”
Isn’t your service the same as I.T support?
To some extent, yes. A lot of the time the reason something isn’t helping you achieve your goals is because it’s broken and needs fixing, or is simply the wrong tool for the job. The name ‘IT support’ often has you calling when you’ve finally had it, when you can’t take it anymore and the ‘technology thing’ is broken. IT support often gets a bad rap as the ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’, which is very unfair to the people running the support desk.
Geek Mentoring is about helping you use technology to achieve your goals faster, more easily and more enjoyably. It’s not about fixing broken things, although that does happen too!
Because the distinction between our professional lives and our personal lives is now very blurred, I often find there is a growing disconnect between the technology mentoring people receive ’on the job’ and the mentoring they can access when they are not at the office. Technology mentoring on the job often is restricted to getting you up and running, but doesn’t necessarily allow you to be as productive as you can be. Technology mentoring off the job often boils down to asking your friends what they do. Sometimes that advice is on point. Other times bad habits get passed on and sometimes those bad habits can have terrible consequences. I get asked to help at that interface between our professional and personal lives.
Can you give me a scenario of how you can help someone with their technology?
One day I had a call from a customer of mine asking for some advice on buying a new laptop. I knew she already had two laptops, so I asked her “Why do you need another one?”
She said, “Well, I use this old, old QuickBooks software on my old Windows laptop, it’s so old it can’t be upgraded, and my whole accounting is in there going back years! I’m scared my laptop is going to break down soon because it’s so old. I can’t use that old QuickBooks on my Mac so I have to buy a new windows laptop, otherwise I’ll have to transfer and learn a whole new accounting package, and I don’t have time for that!!”
I introduced her to a tool she didn’t know about called a virtual machine. Now she runs a copy of her old, old laptop (complete with accounting software) on her mac book. The virtual machine software cost 60$, she didn’t need to buy a whole new laptop, or transfer to and learn a whole new accounting software package. We had already previously sorted out her backups so she was up and running in only 2 hours, she’s retired her old Windows laptop which is now her ‘just-in-case’ backup.
A week later she called me to say how happy she was with the virtual machine, she had been so worried about the costs of learning a whole new system it had been keeping her up all night. With the virtual machine, she just kept going as before, instead of lugging around her windows laptop, she would just open an icon on her mac and it would all be there!
How does the service operate, for example is it time based or a subscription etc?
Accessing Geek Mentoring just requires getting in touch – just email me morgan "at" techhappy.co.nz or find TechHappy on social media and we can take it from there. www.facebook.com/techhappynz
Sometimes I deliver Geek Mentoring over the phone or in a virtual context (say via Skype). In other instances, I will meet in person and work alongside people to define the problems they are facing and to help close any skills gaps they have. Very often it’s a mix of both approaches.
In the end the way I deliver Geek Mentoring is driven by the specific issues each client is facing and how they like to receive support.
Do you offer any other services to compliment Geek Mentoring?
Of course! A Digital Review is an annual must-do, just like checking the brakes on your car, you’ve got to find out whether you have any lurking ‘tech issues’ that might become a problem for you, soon or in the future. Think of a Digital Review as the tech equivalent of an annual ‘warrant of fitness’.
I also run short training sessions suitable for small groups, the sessions are personalised to your specific requirements.
Perfecting Profiles is a popular one, it’s a practical 2-hour session where I help people get the best from LinkedIn by ensuring their profile is working for them in a way that furthers their professional and career development objectives. The focus of Perfecting Profiles is much wider than just ensuring individual LinkedIn profiles are up to date and looking professional, when attending this course you also receive a new professionally taken profile pic to make sure you’re looking your best online. In the end, your online appearance is an important professional asset you need to maintain.
What made you start TechHappy?
The TechHappy story began on a tropical island, in the break between Christmas and New Years, relaxing with family and friends in the aftermath of another year of corporate life.
As we chatted about the year that was coming to a close, I noticed a consistent undercurrent to the discussions that went something like this - “my technology works against me and not for me”, “I’ve been given a new smartphone for work and the tech team at the office don’t have time to help me” and I’ve always wanted to do X online, but I have no idea how”.
And all that frustration got me thinking…why don’t I launch a company to help these people have a tech experience that is better planned, more rewarding, more fun and less stressful. One size doesn’t fit all – it doesn’t work with socks, with hats or those plastic rain ponchos at theme parks either. And it sure doesn’t work with technology! A personalised service which is right sized to the problems at hand was required.
I started doing Digital Reviews with a number of friends and business associates to help them head off tech problems before they ruined their day, and then it just grew from there. And with that TechHappy was born!
You must spend a lot of time regularly keeping up to date with technology, is it a passion?
Absolutely, I’m a card-carrying technophile. I just love tech, I’ve always been fascinated by how computers work, I went to uni to find out how electricity turns into pictures. Then I spent 8 years working as a systems integrator in industrial automation – I’ve seen the nuts and bolts, motors and valves, and written code that keeps our industry running, and our people safe. Consumer tech moves so quickly so it’s very helpful to have that detailed understanding of how systems fit together, it helps a lot with predicting what kind of problems will crop up, and how to head them off before they cause any issues.
What are you hopes and dreams for the future of TechHappy?
We are at a very exciting time for technology - we’ve now almost reached the point where our interaction with technology is ubiquitous. Technology is a consistent backdrop everywhere we go and in everything we do. When we walk into a room and hit the light switch we are not surprised the lights go on and the environment around us is illuminated. In fact, we are shocked if the lights don’t work. My goal is for people to have an experience with technology that is just as predictable and just as illuminating but way more rewarding than hitting the light switch!