Wow… 2018 was a crazy year for me in most areas of my life, and full of experiences I am extremely grateful for.  I decided to start doing retrospectives so I can capture highlights of the previous year.  I have seen a few others do this and I feel it is a great way to reflect on goals and plans for the year ahead.

Given 2018 is the year I traveled the most (so far), let’s start there!

Travel

Thanks to career opportunities (I’ll get to that later) and a few holidays I travelled extensively in 2018, racking up lots of frequent flyer points and benefits along with it.  Though I know there are a lot of people who do travel more than I, here are some tidbits of information:

  • 65 flights
  • Approx. 215,000km (133,000mi) flown
  • 4 trips to the US, 3 to Japan and NZ, 2 to Singapore, 1 to South Korea
  • Cool new places visited:
    • Miami, FL
    • Singapore
    • Seoul, South Korea
    • San Jose, CA
    • Yosemite National Park, CA
    • Nagoya, Japan
    • Perth, Australia

In 2019 I’m going to make use of App in the Air so I can better track my travel and gain more insights and statistics! I’m 35 and have visited 10 countries, and aim to visit 50 countries by the time I’m 50.

The highlight of my travels was a holiday to California to visit friends and tick an item off my bucket-list: visit Yosemite National Park! I spent two days there in early October, and would love to go back and do some more hikes.  The photos below don’t do justice to the beauty of the views.

Health

Trying to maintain health and fitness while traveling a lot and working weird hours can be a challenge.

In recent years I had been fairly active with cycling to work every day since 2012, with longer rides at the weekends.  In August 2017 I decided to take up indoor soccer for some fun and additional exercise, having used to play soccer when I was younger.  It was certainly a step up for my joints and muscles, and I ensured I was warming up properly and using appropriate braces and supports when needed.

My aerobic fitness was improving, and I also saw this with my cycling.  However, after the holiday break I started the first game of 2018 on the wrong foot – I was in a rush, and didn’t spend enough time warming up.  Combined with being prone to having tight muscles and my body still getting used to the rapid bursts, I unfortunately tore my left soleus calf muscle on the blow of the whistle!

I instantly was hopping on one foot and had help to get off the field, and thought I had torn my Achilles tendon, as everyone heard (and I felt) a loud ‘pop’!  After a visit to the ER and a scan, and many ice packs and painkillers later; I found out I had suffered a Grade 2 tear, nearly Grade 3 (which would have meant surgery to repair).  I was unable to walk on my left leg, however could lightly place weight on it, could point my toes but could not retract my foot toward my knee.

It was a strange injury because it meant I struggled to walk and get up and down stairs, yet because of the specific muscle being injured I could still point my toes and apply force – so I could still drive my manual (standard) transmission car!

So, I was up for at least 6-12 months of rest & recovery and physiotherapy to heal and  rehabilitate the muscle.  There went my goals of longer distance cycling in the short-term!  But that’s not all…

The reason I have put the health section right after the travel section is to raise awareness around Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT.  Frequent long-haul travellers are at greater risk of getting DVT, despite ensuring you follow all the recommended preventative measures before/during/after flying.  Despite being checked out by several doctors and following all the precautions for a long-haul flight a couple of weeks after my injury; I ended up with two blood clots in my lower left leg after a flight back from the US to Australia.  One was near the injury location, and the other was just above my ankle.

In addition to recovering from my injury I had to manage the recovery and prevention of further clots (and most importantly ensuring the clots didn’t dislodge and make their way to my lungs or heart!), while choosing to continue with my current career choices and hence a fair amount of long-haul travel.  Thankfully my DVT was given the all-clear in June 2018 and was back on the bike a couple of months earlier.

In short – look after yourself and your health, especially given a lot of IT professionals travel a lot for work.  People often say time is our greatest resource, however it is our bodies & minds.  Without our health we cannot effectively make use of the time we have.

Work

I spent time around the 2017-2018 holiday period and the first week of January finishing up project work and performing handover in my role as Principal Engineer at Dimension Data in Brisbane, Australia.  I was sad to be leaving a great team of people, many of whom I had worked with in previous jobs; however, I was about to embark on an exciting new challenge in my wireless career…

Ekahau

Technical Sales Engineer for Ekahau Wireless Design in Asia-Pacific (APAC)!

https://twitter.com/Stephen__Cooper/status/950689428703387649?s=20

The role saw me building up the profile of Ekahau in APAC, enabling customers and partners through training, marketing, events, and a lot of networking.  This kickstarted the frequent travel throughout Australia and the greater region, and participating in events such as Cisco Live in Melbourne, Ruckus Big Dogs in Seoul, and various networking and training events across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore & Japan.

I continued building on my sales experience as well as my technical & training experience, while also enjoying working on marketing and event coordination; and the company saw a good increase in sales throughout 2018 in the region.

Many of you know a lot of the great people at Ekahau, and no doubt have also formed some good friendships with them.  Despite being on the other side of the world to Helsinki & the US I felt as though as I was part of a close-knit and supportive team.

In July 2018, I couldn’t believe my luck.  I was working for a leading Wi-Fi design and tools vendor (and producer of excellent swag), and had my goals laid out for the foreseeable future.  I was then presented with an unexpected opportunity, and had a big decision to make.

Cisco

Little did I know there was a position open at Cisco for a wireless specialist in Australia, yet after some back and forth via LinkedIn and many interviews later I landed the role of…

Wireless Technical Solutions Architect for Cisco in Australia & New Zealand!

It has been a whirlwind since joining the Cisco family, jam-packed with a lot of events, training, networking, and meeting & working alongside some wonderful people.

I started the week before the annual Cisco Sales Conference – GSX (Global Sales Experience), which is held in Las Vegas.  That was a full-on experience that I was fortunate to consider as an orientation, and understand what the goals were for the company in the coming fiscal year.

We supported our partner, Telstra, for their Vantage technology conference held in Melbourne (think of a small Cisco Live).  It was great to see the continued interest in Cisco’s wireless portfolio and the possibilities with Cisco DNA Center, which further grew my excitement to be working for the world’s leading networking vendor.

After my holiday and Wi-Fi Trek in the US in October (more on that later), the push was on for training and familiarisation with the latest & greatest solutions with a week in Tokyo.   Then I was involved with re-delivering these updates to our partners in November and December, which was a lot of fun.  Though it is certainly a challenge trying to cover 4+ hours of wireless-related updates in 1.5 hours!

Then before wrapping up for the holidays I was back in San Jose for a fantastic week of new hire orientation.

2019 is looking to be a great year for Cisco thanks to continued improvements to the Cisco DNA Center solution and the new Catalyst 9800 Wireless LAN Controllers.  Not to mention WPA3 and 802.11ax on the horizon!

Networking

I have been incredibly fortunate to meet so many amazing people thanks to working in IT and, in particular, the Wi-Fi industry.  Here are some snapshots of networking events and opportunities I had in 2018:

Certifications

The big achievement for me in 2018 with regards to professional development was becoming Certified Wireless Network Expert #276!  It was a great experience to earn this certification, and I’m extremely grateful to the Wi-Fi community and CWNP.  I look forward to helping others on their journey in future.

I was also lucky to attend an Ekahau Certified Survey Engineer (ECSE) class by Keith Parsons (@KeithRParsons), and despite being the SE for Ekahau in APAC at the time, I was surprised how much I learned!

To keep my CCNP Routing & Switching version valid I also knocked out the first CCNP Wireless exam at Cisco Live in Melbourne in 2018: WIDESIGN.  I followed that up with WIDEPLOY in November, and plan to complete the two remaining exams to achieve CCNP Wireless in the next few months.  I also passed the latest revision of the CWAP certification at Wi-Fi Trek.

Outside of work, yet still unsurprisingly work-related given how much we all love our coffee (and love sharing beans with other Wi-Fi professionals!), I completed a barista course to learn the art of espresso and being able to produce all the common styles of espresso coffee.  Need to work on my latte art, though!

Social Networking

It is often said in the Wi-Fi community that if you’re not on Twitter, then you’re doing it wrong!  There is a wealth of information and experience that is shared thanks to Twitter, as well as LinkedIn and Slack.  Most use these platforms as tools to ask questions, share updates, and challenge ideas; and they are also heavily used for professionals to promote themselves and present their blog articles to the greater community.

Twitter

If you aren’t already, I suggest following me on Twitter (@Stephen__Cooper) and checking out the people I follow to get a good idea of other Wi-Fi professionals to network with.

Also, many of you may not know that you can use Twitter’s own analytics tools to see which of your tweets and content has been popular and most engaged with.  Check it out here: https://analytics.twitter.com

While you can go back more than a year ago in your history, you can only view up to 91 days at a time; so unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way of looking at the whole of 2018 to see my activity for the year.  Though I’m quite certain I more than doubled the number of followers I had!  Let’s note this down for next year: as of December 31st 2018, I had 938 followers ๐Ÿ™‚

LinkedIn

I personally use Twitter for my anything-and-everything related to Wi-Fi and technology, my main platform to share, discuss, and contribute ideas on.  LinkedIn is a great tool to expand your professional network, as well as share content like on Twitter.  A lot of people share the same content all the time across multiple platforms, whereas I am more selective of what I share on LinkedIn.  The reason being? Target audience.

For me my LinkedIn network is a wider-ranging audience of colleagues and peers, but more likely to be people geographically located nearer to me.  Not everyone that follows me on LinkedIn is a Wi-Fi professional or in a technical role, whereas most people following me on Twitter work with Wi-Fi and are in technical roles.  My LinkedIn posts and shares are more relevant to a wider audience, some are less technical and some are more business-driven.  I feel Twitter is a better platform for sharing technical knowledge, and I have seen that the cyber security community operates similarly in this way.

Unfortunately, LinkedIn is even more limited that Twitter in terms of analytics, even with a Premium membership.

Blog

Now for some interesting statistics for my blog that you are reading now!  Kudos to WordPress for providing some good insights for bloggers.  Here’s some highlights of Wi-Fi Coops for 2018.

2018 views.png

  • 5652 views
  • 3340 visitors
  • Top viewer countries:
    • USA (1964)
    • Australia (769)
    • UK (352)
    • Canada (281)
    • India (203)
  • Top referrers where people accessed my blog from:
    • Twitter (1246)
    • Search Engines (941)
    • LinkedIn (218)
    • wirednot.wordpress.com (66 – Thanks, Lee!)
  • Highest visited site from my blog links: http://www.wlanpros.com
  • Most popular posts:
802.11ax – Recommended Resources (mid-2018) 750
Wireless Survey Setup 703
The Importance of Signal-to-Noise Ratio 553
Beam me up, Scotty! 470
Cisco SmartPort Macros for 802.1X 445
Wi-Fi Calling 313
Cisco Dynamic Channel Assignment (DCA) Intervals 235
Wi-Fi Monitoring & Assurance with NetBeez 201
Cisco WLC Uplinks to ASR 116
Where in the world is Coops, San Diego? 60

I thank all of my blog viewers and followers, and hope you have enjoyed the content I have published.  I plan to get some more ideas flowing and keep posting useful content in 2019!

Speaking and Events

In addition to the other work-related events and meetups I have been involved in, I have been very fortunate to level up my public speaking skills and also have my first participation in a podcast in 2018!  You can read more about the events below in my post ‘Where in the world is Coops, San Diego?‘.

CWNP Wi-Fi Trek 2018

My first time presenting to over 250 people!

Mobility Brazil Conference 2018

My first time presenting (remotely) to a South American audience!

Ekahau Wi-Fi Design Day – Sydney 2018

Proud to see Wi-Fi Design Day come to fruition and also participate in the discussion panel.

Podcasts

With the intention of further expanding my online presence and personal brand, as well as trying something new; I enquired about participating in two podcast episodes.  One was for Wireless LAN Professionals, and the other for Clear To Send.  Both were a lot of fun, and I hope to participate in more in 2019!  Look out for Scott Lester’s (@theITrebel) new podcast The Contention Window launching soon.

Concerts

Those of you who know me personally know that I love metal and hard rock music, so here is a quick list of the events I made it to this year.

Australia
  • Mastodon (6th time) with Gojira (2nd time)
  • Ihsahn
  • Stonefield (4th time)
  • Satyricon (2nd time)
  • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, live in concert with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (amazing!)
USA
  • Psycho Las Vegas, which included Wolvhammer, Acid Witch, Voivod, Pallbearer, Zakk Sabbath, Eyehategod, Boris (2nd time), Red Fang, CKY (2nd time), High On Fire (2nd time), and Dimmu Borgir (2nd time)
  • Clutch (4th time) with Sevendust (2nd time)
  • System of a Down (2nd time) with Skeletonwitch

Unfortunately missed Amon Amarth and Machine Head due to travelling for work, but at least I have seen both bands several times already \m/

I’m looking forward to Download Festival in March 2019!

What’s next for 2019?

I have some specific goals in both my personal and professional life, however here are the key focus points for me in 2019:

  • I plan to take better care of myself and my health.
  • Complete CCNP Wireless, and then prepare for CCIE Wireless.
  • Contribute further to the wireless community through mentoring, hopefully playing a part in the new CWNE website (hoping to be nominated to the CWNE board), and participating in events later in the year.
  • Cisco Live Melbourne presentations.
  • Spend more time volunteering and giving back to the community.

Summary

When I look back on 2018 I am amazed at what I have accomplished!  I wish to thank my wonderful partner, Sarah; my friends & family (special mentions to Warren Rautenbach @WazzFi and Bernhard de Montmorency @WiFiBurns for being awesome dudes – thank you for your friendship and support!); and everyone in the Wi-Fi community that I have met both virtually and in-person.

It has been a great ride so far, and I hope I can pay forward my gratitude by helping others on their journeys.

Posted by Wi-Fi Coops

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