You aren’t a “normal IT guy” is a phrase I’ve often heard after interacting with someone with a technology problem. My usual reply is, “Thank you. I try hard not to be”.
I’ve learned over the years that most people consider a “normal IT guy” to be a condescending, sarcastic jerk. One who looks down on others who don’t understand computer technology as much as they do. I get it, though, as it is easy to look at others without your knowledge in a particular area of expertise as being beneath you. However, we must never forget just because someone isn’t as well versed in our specific area of knowledge doesn’t mean they are stupid or dumb.
One of the most brilliant people I’ve ever had the pleasure of helping was Dr. George Keller. Dr. Keller started his career in 1955, three years before Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce would unveil the integrated circuit, now known as the computer chip. Think about that for a minute; this man started his chemical career before a computer chip. That means that he was doing his equations and engineering by hand and aided by a slide rule. He would come to me to ask for help with his computer, despite me many times saying he could call me and I’d go to him. It was often something like not being able to print or not finding a document he had been working on previously. He would come down to my office to ask for help, and we would walk back to his office together. He would apologize for his lack of knowledge on our walk, and I would tell him, “Don’t worry, George, computers are not your thing; they are mine, that’s why they hired me.” On one particular walk, Dr. Keller apologized, but this time he said, “Adam, I’m sorry for being so stupid.” His words struck me hard; here is a man who has helped millions of people with his innovations, apologizing to me for him being “stupid”? I immediately came back with, “Don’t worry, George, your intelligence is well documented with the United States Patent Office. Trust me. I’ve looked.” My reply made him smile.
Now that I’ve started my own business, I want to help companies with their information technology needs, whatever those might be, because that isn’t their area of expertise. They all are experts in their field, but networking, servers, phone systems, computers, email servers, databases, cloud infrastructure are not those things. I want to help them when they interact with vendors, as most times, they know their needs, but they don’t know how to go about implementing a solution. They need someone on their side of the table with knowledge of information technology and willing to help them find the best solution for their particular need. They will most times do a web search, contact one vendor, and buy a specific product or service that appears to cover the need. However, most times, there will be more than one solution to the problem. Some might be a better fit than others.
Businesses need an information technology strategy and plan to help guide them when making these types of decisions. They need someone with knowledge of various technologies to look and investigate what would best fit their need. They need to come to a “Not a Normal IT Guy” to get help.
Dr. George Keller, II
Dr. Keller, II was especially known for mentoring junior scientists and recruiting top-notch engineering graduates. His humility was such that perhaps his most beneficial invention, the oxygen concentrator that separates oxygen from air for treatment of respiratory diseases, lists the junior scientists on the patent before him.