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How Geddy Lee Changed My Perspective

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How Geddy Lee Changed My Perspective

Zone Leader, John Vester, reflects on how an over-the-air interview with a progressive musician changed his perspective, over 30 years ago.

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One of my favorite bands, when I was in high school, was the progressive rock band from Canada named Rush. At the time, I had similar aspirations to be in the music industry, focusing first on drums and then keyboards. Since Rush maintained a drummer who was aptly named "the professor" I quickly became a fan of their work after hearing the All the World's a Stage double-live album.

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As a part of the music genre of the 1980s, synthesizers and other electronic devices found their way into a majority of music at the time. This became the case for Rush with the release of their Power Windows album in 1985. I was immediately hooked, even though some are not as much of a fan of this era of Rush's sound.

Before the album was available for purchase, local radio stations would play songs over the airwaves as a way to preview the album. I became glued to the station in my area, excited to gain a glimpse of the new songs that were contained in the Power Windows release. During that time, the radio DJ announced that Geddy Lee (a member of the power trio from Canada) would be doing an interview on the coming Sunday night's King Biscuit Flower Hour syndicated broadcast.

I was excited, to say the least.

Geddy Lee's Advice

Aside from a number of questions related to the new album, including inspirations and meanings behind their poetic lyrics, the topic of learning was brought up. Prior to the synthesizer era, the band mainly focused on guitar, bass, and drums. Now, there were electronic devices used by all three members of the band, to broaden their horizon and provide a larger sound to orchestrate their music. Adding this new layer to their sound, required effort for each member to learn and perfect their new instruments.

Geddy provided insight that even at this point in their career, they are always learning. He closed his point by noting, "the day I stop learning, is the day that I will die."

I could not validate Geddy's quote word-for-word since the cassette tape I used to record the interview over the radio has long since disappeared. However, I am confident I am conveying his thoughts. While Geddy Lee may have been focusing on his music career being dead, I wonder if his thoughts extend beyond simply music.

The Impact on Me

I have written numerous times how blessed and fortunate I am to have had a long career in the Information Technology (IT) industry. When I started this journey back in 1991, I had no idea the path that was before me and the excitement of being a part of IT through the dawn of the Internet age and beyond.

I think back to my first job, supporting a Novell NetWare network, with personal computers attached via some really thick coaxial cable and no idea of the Internet. On these computers was a product called SmartWare, a product of Informix at the time. My job was to maintain and enhance the SmartWare product - to meet the needs of the small business where I was employed. The SmartWare product, ahead of its time, contained a database, word processor, and spreadsheet. Running on MS-DOS, it was the combination of an early office suite and ERP system - first created in the early 1980s.

What I failed to realize until recently, was how much I have taken Geddy Lee's thoughts to heart on my personal career journey. While I may have been well-versed in the technologies I employed in the early days of my career, none of them are in still in use for me today. Sure, there are concepts like object-oriented programming and the structure of classes, methods, and functions, but those technologies which provided a weekly task load are no longer part of my daily roles or responsibilities. In fact, unless noted on a developer bio (or in articles like these), they are not even a topic of discussion.

As technologies changed and business needs have driven innovation, the role of an IT professional has changed many times since I started working in this industry in 1991. Just like members of Lee's band Rush, IT professionals have continued to learn week after week, month after month and year after year. Through self-study, industry-related conferences, or some form of training, the challenge to maintaining a valid set of skills has made the effort somewhat easier to accommodate.

For me, each challenge provides a new level of excitement - especially when concepts of the new technology begin to make sense as solutions are formulated. Even now, when my first ReactJS application began working, I was excited to understand and utilize the framework.

When I have conversations about working in an industry whose only constant is change, I would go as far as to say, the day I stop learning new patterns, frameworks, languages or skills, is the day I am convinced my career in IT has reached a conclusion. Geddy Lee changed my perspective, long ago, before I even realized. I am so glad I was able to listen in on that Sunday night interview over 30 years ago.

Have a really great day!

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Topics:
devlife ,career growth ,learning and development ,agile

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