Kentik - Network Observability
More episodes
Network AF  |  Season 1 - Episode 11  |  February 15, 2022

Networking procurement and the merits of asking questions with Jezzibell Gilmore

Play now


On this episode, Avi talks with longtime friend Jezzibell Gilmore. Jezzibell is the Chief Commercial Officer at PacketFabric, and works toward revenue goals. She and Avi discuss:

  • How Jezzibell entered the networking industry after not enjoying the world of law
  • Moving into operations and deployment at Akamai and then transitioning to enterprise
  • Differences between enterprise and service provider
  • The networking community, bringing people in and developing their skills


Welcome to network a f. On this episode, I talk with my friend, Jessabel Gilmore, but how she got into the industry, starting, working as an assistant at, Abovnet, a hosting company, moving into operations and and deployment at Akamai going over to the enterprise side and then coming back actually being an entrepreneur in the service provider world. We talk about how she got into tech, a little bit about the difference between enterprise and service provider, how she's thought about and learned between the business side and the technical side. And as we often do about growing the community, bringing people in, and teaching and educating.

Thanks, and enjoy the episode.

Hi, and welcome to network AF. I'm here with my friend, Jezebel Gilmore. Jezabelle, could you give us a little bit of an intro? Where are you, and what are you up to professionally?

Hello, everybody. I am Jezabelle Gilmore. And I am currently in Milton, Massachusetts. There's an ice storm going on outside. And I am the co founder And chief commercial officer of Packa Fabric, we are a network as a service platform, providing Data Center interconnection, band cloud connectivity for anybody and everybody who needs to reach a destination.

Awesome. That sounds like a lot of people. What is a chief commercial officer?

Well, that means I am in charge of the revenue, of the business. Okay. Finding customers and making them happy.



So we've known each other for over a decade, a few decades.

Could you describe how you got into networking?

Well, Absolutely. In fact, you know, here's a great story that involves Avi.

I got into networking totally by chance. I was working at a law firm in which I founded not to be a great fit for me, and I was leaving the firm.

One of the clients of the firm, which was the CEO of Above Net Communications at that point, said, hey, I hear you're leaving the firm.

Where are you going?

I said, oh, I am just looking for something new to do. This is not a great fit for me.

He said, hey, I have a startup company called Abovnet.

And do you want to come and work for us. And I said, what do you do? And he talked about to what Abovnet did, which at that point, it seems like a total foreign language to me, and we talked about, carrier hotels and internet, you know, sounded really cool, but I didn't understand really any of it and I said, you know, what am I gonna do if I don't really understand what you do? And he said, well, you know, everybody's learning because it's a fast evolving industry.

And to me, that sounded very interesting, something that is moving fast and everybody in it is trying to do something new. So I decided to give it a try. And, well, at Above Net Communications, I met Avi, who was the VP of engineering at that point. And, Avi and many others that above that truly helped me learn, what in internet is all about, you know, what colocation is all about, how the ecosystem plays into each other And, in addition to learning the technologies, you know, which evolved tremendously since then, Ali, it was in think nineteen ninety eight.

A lot of the stuff is the same, but yes, the the applications of it is different. Yes. It has different names. Absolutely.

The same concepts.

We might have added a few zeros, right, for the capacity that but The business concept didn't change. The ecosystem didn't change.

What really drove the business had grown. And I think that the my ability to really understand what is driving the business, has helped me to get into the position that I'm in today, not just the technology itself.

Well, it was interesting because as someone that likes to solve problems for people, Dave Rand, who's, you know, the co founder who I work for had his own version of focus. I did a, an interview with Dave Schaeffer of Cogent, and they certainly have a lot of focus. And Dave said, you're welcome to bring your t three or o c three in, but we give you an ethernet. Everything we do is ethernet.

You can do whatever you want to the other end And, you know, that brought a certain amount of focus to the organization and, what we did and how we thought about it. And then the other principal, which is still debated, was QOS means quantity of service and not like rate shaping people. And, you know, aggressively peering which, again, is still debated. You know, more capacity means more revenue if you charge usage based and happier customers and Again, no one was talking about customer success in nineteen ninety nine, but as a as a as a formal thing, but the idea of that was a little bit heretical because you know, at the time, people were saying, well, my goal is to charge just to sell you as much capacity as I can and hope you use none of it.

Which is a very different philosophy than SAS or, network as a service or or even modern networking, you know, the way some people think of it. Was it was it helpful to be in the Bay Area? Did you get info? I'm trying to remember back into the the late nineties you know, because, you know, I remember we had networking meetups, and I think you might have went to one of them.

We're trying to figure out when you met your now husband who's also in the networking community.

Well, I I actually did meet him back in the Bay Area. And I think that I he tells me all the time. He reminds me all the time that, I don't remember meeting him, in the area.

But, but we did, go to many industry gatherings. And I think that really helped, right, because everybody were willing to share, exchanging knowledge. And I think for me, I actually exchanged making dinner for the engineering team often, for their support in teaching me how the technologies worked and set up labs for me to work on so that I can have somewhere to practice, you know, the information, the knowledge that I've learned. So, It's not hit for tag, but it's a great to me, it was a great exchange because that's not education you can buy even.

Right? And I didn't really have any time to go to school to learn that. And so, it was really useful, hands on information that I was able to acquire that was not taught at school because that was technology that's been put into use right there and then, that's been developed. Right?

So, to me, that really helped to shape my cur shape my career and shape my understanding of pushing the envelope, you know, doing something new on the fly and learning, having the ability to learn while doing.

Has really helped me grow throughout my career.

Yeah. And and I guess also not waiting and not asking for permission.

However, you formalize that, right, which is you know, yeah, a friend of mine from high school, Hillary who worked at my ISP, Also, she would just go up to people and say, tell me this. Tell me this. Tell me this. Yeah.

I'll answer the question. If you tell me this and enable me, We had no training program, and we had no it was all, you know, just go figure it out, which only works to a certain scale. So you need to have that willingness Well, that actually is one of the reasons why that I, as the chief commercial officer today invests so heavily on sales enablement, which is basically training for the sales team because the better informed they are, the better that they can towards the customer base. Right?

Just so having constant interaction with engineers and having the ability for the engineers to explain how something worked or why it works the way that it does. And, you know, what are the features? What do they mean? How does it affect the customer's lives empowers the sales team to work better with the customer base.

Because sometimes when a customer asks the question, and the sales team only can answer it in a way that is prescribed by the product team. If they don't understand why it is, then they can't answer it intelligently. But when the engineers or even the product team explains it in a way that the customer may not even be aware that it does more then what the customer wants to do, what it does, it just does what the customer wants in a different way. It can help the customer changed their mind on how they're architecting their solutions by utilizing something that's more innovative.

So to me, is always a different way of wrapping yourself around the language and letting it help not just me myself, but, you know, others. So the the learning piece of being in a growing environment is something that's always inspires me, and inspires me to push others to learn. It's a difficult life selling to network people as a pain in the ass network person you know, we see this, you know, it can't take also. If people are happy, then usually they're like, leave me alone.

I'm happy. Even if you want to say, like, tell me about your problems and what you're trying to do. And even if it isn't something I can help you with, I'll introduce you. I'll share with you, you know, from your peers who don't compete with you and you can all talk to each other, but it's a very multitask world.

You know, in the service provider and and web company world and what we call production networking. It's not as much ticket based as like IT, but it's still very There's lots of stuff going on, and it's hard to compete. And so those conversations can be hard. And, yes, if you don't add value, then you get put in the category.

It could be hard to go from the no value to value.

And, so, yeah, you have to hire you have to select for people that want to want to do that learning and and take that plus their interpersonal skills. And so when I look at things to do, I generally wanna make things happen and create things and drive them forward, and and you can do that by building things. You can do that by selling things. You know, there's this continuum between business and technology when you make a company, you have to do both.

You talked about labs and and trading food for technical knowledge and, well, let's say friendship and and engagement for for a technical knowledge. How did you, you know, think about and decide between, you know, your interests on the understanding the technology and policy and business, you know, continuum, you know, You know, I actually at the beginning, I never started that I was gonna get into the business side of things. I was really interested in operational side of things. I wanted to know how things worked on how to make them better, right, and how to improve the processes and the technologies to just make it work better.

I enjoyed as you say helping others to achieve their success. But then, I think it's part because that I had to learn on my own. And that I didn't quite feel as confident and as technical, as probably most others in the industry when someone's talking about something in a really technical fashion, and I see other people's eyes glaze over, You know, I I apologize. I want to thank you, Abby.

But although, you know, you can be extremely technical. You are also, able to explain in layman's terms how something works. You've done that for me so many times, and I absolutely appreciate that. And so I want to be able to do that for others, which is, you know, I want to help others understand the benefit and of some services or technologies that brings for them, because it could truly change somebody's life and make their lives better.

And and I recognized, at some point in my career that I had the ability to be able to break things down into terms that others can understand and feel comfortable with in asking questions and listening to what, you know, I'm trying to explain because I don't appear to be super technical, and I'm not using you know, technical jargons, left and right. I'm not trying to prove myself. I'm trying to help, others to understand. And so I think I've over time gained the luxury of people, putting their guards down and, you know, having honest and, grounded conversations with me.


And again, you know, that has a lot of influence with me asking really probably pretty dumb questions early on, and having you having the patience, have many others Foundas, please say say foundational questions. Foundational questions. I I had to ask very foundational questions. Mhmm.

Yeah. I mean, it's interesting because the process the time when you're learning is the best time to teach other people because you're just remembering what was confusing that shouldn't have been.

And so how do we normalize that when I run into people that are, I guess I'm an old old personnel, but, you know, in their graduating college, and they're talking about how they get a job and career, I'm saying, you know, start a blog, document the things that you're learning.

Julia Evans does this with Zines in the observability and sysadmin space. And, you know, they're foundational things, but, you know, wind up being very helpful to people because it's it's at that time when, you know, the experts write the books, and but they're written for experts. And then so, you know, it could be it can be difficult to get into that. So from, from above net, then you went directly to Akamai. Right?

That's right. Yes. Which is not where you met your husband, but you did learn to take it there.

That's Well, that's where I thought I met my husband even though I actually met him in the Bay Area.

Multiple times apparently as well because multiple people vultures for him, for That's what we used to. We used to have the sushi meetups, the sushi meetups in in the Bay Area. So The sushi kavals. That's right. Yes. The sushi kavals. Yes.

And, so there you were more on the operational side.

Making, you know, making the world's largest non network get bigger.

You know, working on the logistics and of all that. But then you went into the, the, the enterprise side.

I I did in the Was it directly there at the State Street or Yes. I went from Aklay to State Street, on the technology sourcing side. And so a totally reversed role. Right? I was really pushing Akamais A and P services to the networks, and now I'm turning it around at a, you know, one of the largest financial institutions in the world at that point sourcing all the different technologies that, you know, they needed, from network services, whether it's wave and or ATM service, or, IBM mainframe. Right? Because that, you know, I remember in the, at the last day of the year or two the two days before the last days of the year.

We were running around to trying to complete a purchase if, you know, multi million dollars of mainframe maintenance contract and and it required so many different signatures, across the organization. And people had already gone on holiday and you know, trying to call people on their, really precious mobile phones because it was still early, you know, not everybody had mobile phones. And while they're on holiday, to obtain a signature because you have to fax, the contract over and then resort them back into, the way the contract needs to be. Taught to me the process, how enterprise companies worked in their purchasing process which came in. And and I never thought I thought, oh my god, this is the most ridiculous thing at that point. But now it is so useful because now as the chief commercial officer, which sells largely to enterprise, large enterprises.

I have a total appreciation for the trouble that, you know, my counterparts have to go through in buying a service. And how challenging it is even when they want to spend the money. It's amazing how much longer it can take to buy it than the decision that it makes you know, that that they have to make to buy it.

You know, especially with large, you know, service providers, and then Yeah. Lots of, I'll say customs that we build up that that get brought from company to company that probably need to be modernized, but on the other hand, you know, there needs to be some way to safeguard that people are spending properly. Have you have have you had packet fabric considered offsetting your calendar year and fiscal year? We keep talking about it and not doing it, you know, somehow. Not quite yet. Not quite yet. Although, I am going to say that, you know, which I pack of fabric is very focused on automation.

Right. But there's a human element in the enterprise purchasing process today that you cannot automate because you cannot to change the culture of your customer's organization. It's the customs of the customers. It's the traditions, the way people are raised.

You know? Yeah. And so so much of that that you have to adjust the way that you're doing business towards. And so sometimes You say you can't leave, you know, you can leave the horse to water, but you can't make them drink.

And the two diverse side of the organization, right, the engineering said, yes, I want to consume the automation. I need it. And then you have to have both the patience and appreciation and, create a process that can work with the sourcing the procurement team, to make it work on their side so that the engineering side can have the solution that you offer it. Yep.

Yeah. No. It's it's all of these are things to nerd about, you know, who can nerd about the networking, the interconnection politics, and and policies, the business side and ultimately to make, to make something and and bring it to market, you need to there there needs to be a team of people to do all these things. So, and, you know, it's it's interesting and we're thinking about the community that the the the mix, like, if you go to a peering forum, it's a much more diverse crowd, then then, you know, IITF or or, you know, an area where people are building protocols. Actually, probably ITF is more diverse than Nanogg actually, in some ways, you know, on the core engineering side. But, you know, it's just interesting to see what people's passions are and and how you pick it up, but it's all it's all things to know about.

So you were in enterprise. We talked about understanding how enterprises buy when they reverse how you sell to them. But, you know, it's interesting because There's smart people doing things that are really critical in both service providers and enterprise, but they are different cultures in some ways.

You know, what was your takeaway from that? And did that drive, you know, some of your know, your choice to come back more on to the service provider side, or is that more about, you know, stage of company and wanting to be in startups? Like, What what did you take away from? I'll just say the enterprise experience, about the deltas and cultures and, you know, what what your what the how that drives your passions?

Well, so first of all, what drew me back into telecom is the openness, the welcomeness, and, you know, the the tight knit community and the interdependency that, the community has, right, And I think the word frenemy, or a coopetition Yes. You know, is, it is common. I think everybody knows that. And we all work together to really, at the end of the day, to create a better internet for everyone to consume. And from the enterprise side, you know, I learned so much, not just the mentality, the practice, but which is the key objective that enterprises had or that drove their decision making?

Right? And it's it's so very different than what carriers and telcos, keep in mind and have as their decision making criteria.

So, that that actually helped shape, packet fabric as a company. And by the way, for all of you who's out there and didn't know, packet fabric was a company that Avi actually started in two thousand and seven. Yeah. Version one.

And so, Regis and Avi as a friend of Packa Fabric gave us the company name, and, as as a, a gift in support of the company. So, Abby, we are eternally grateful for for that. You're welcome. That's a future conversation is when you're right when you're right with the idea, but wrong with the timing.

Which I've had happened to me a few times. So, you know. Sorry.

But, you know, I was there in, with Avi in the rev one of pack of fabric. And then, Avi had already at that point, I started the rev one of Kantic in cloth Helix, and so we, he gave us his blessing to move forward with pocket fabric rev too, in two thousand and fifteen. So But coming back go ahead. We thought we might want the name because early on, we actually were doing sensors and packets and stuff, but Kentech has really stayed cloud helix.

Now Kentech has stayed at the high level, analytics, telemetry, operations, security, And in in the modern ways of orchestration and cloud and and as you said automation, people generally don't wanna be watching all the packets. So You are now. So the packet fabric is moving the packets, not watching them. So I'm I'm glad to see.

Everyone talking about packet fabric, and the name being used well. So And, again, thank you. But, you know, something that you talked about earlier, that's a legacy mentality in, at the Beltnet days, you know, people wanted to have customers who bought a lot of capacity and didn't use any of it. Right?

The mentality, at least to me, has really shifted in that your network is really only as good as the people that's consuming it. If nobody's using it and then what good does it do. Right? So, interconnection is based on the principle that you are leveraging each other over a platform. And that's what I think made pack of fabric really powerful and will continue to make pack of fabric powerful. And And that's what I learned from, you know, the years of us working together and, you know, listening to the conversations.

I I'm generally not this talkative.

And I let other people talk smart people like Avi, and I like to listen, and I hear everybody talking, you know, the consumption model, of services across a broad platform. And it always made me think, you know, why is it so difficult for people to get connected to each other? And that's really, at the end of the day, the driver that we came up with for package fabric for interconnection.

So first of all, don't downgrade your own smarts, but second of all, synthesis can be more valuable than deep technical knowledge. Because as you said, if people if you can't make people understand it, then, you know, what good is it. But I'll make a note mentally Definitely, we'll do a panel about the evolution of pairing, you know, from cost optimization to I mean, you have taught me value increase. Right? How do you get, you know, synergistic value by bringing people together or is it about control and performance, which it is for a lot of a lot of my customers?

We sort of always viewed it that way at above net, which was heretical back when people were trying to shape, you know, rate limit the bandwidth down and optimize.

And that's still a something that's interesting as I think about enterprise versus service provider is, you know, service providers, being on this shift to away from just like, oh, I must make a maximum amount of return from my CapEx to just thinking more broadly about services that they can be in to help customers, you know, and that also happen to be higher margin. And where people are, on that trend. It was very interesting for me at PTC, where we didn't have quite as many meetings as previous years. So I actually went to the panels, which I didn't usually do. And just, you know, to see that what we're doing, especially with COVID, people really understand, you know, being connected is important.

Both the coopetition and frenemies and just all people on panels that used to work for each other, but they're now, you know, competitors. But also just people are, you know, understanding that core infrastructure could be good business. You know, you know, it's very sticky and and it's also necessary and it's, you know, probably not going away. You know, because the data center space has been hot and not multiple times.

Let's just say, you know, over the decades. So, There's so much of building happening, you know, on the data center side. And and I I think that's something I learned early on in my career for being at a bus net. Right?

I was I was told, you know, what what is a data center gonna do if there's no network. It's just a concrete box with, power. Right? So Bigrow weeds.

Christo Mine. I mean, there's a few things you could do with power, with cool power, but, you know, Absolutely. I hear, cannabis is big business. It is. Well, there's a lot of opportunity zones. I I know some buildings where opportunity zones are doing both crypto mining and, Florida. And agriculture?

Everyone wants to be in, opportunity zones, which is another question in policy wise, what we should do there. So, yeah, I know I was in Virginia few times the end of last year, and I just as much as you know how much building there is, I just to see if there were heat map. There's more everywhere I was driving. I was like, oh, let's go to the McDonald's.

Let's go to the whatever. Everywhere that I was driving, there was, like, six more multi megawatt data centers, you know, that I had never, you know, gigawatt data centers probably that I had never seen. And, you know, well, our stuff half of our stuff is a DC three, which is one of the I think it was actually an old exodus data center that, you know, that then Equinix took over. That's off the campus.

So that's, like, quaint and tiny, by, by moderns, even above that, was quaint and tiny, except for the DC plant that Dave was a big believer in.

So you did mention, back in the nineties when everything was moving very fast, I think it is that definitely that kind of time Now it is from what we see with customers with where's the network? Is it the cloud? Is it the container native, you know, interface in in the server? Is it is it my network? Is it their network? Is it the application?

People trying to replace network people with APIs, provisioning, and automation of everything.

What are you excited, you know, what makes you excited to live in these times and be in the network space? What are you watching over the next couple of years and and hoping or fearing, you know, around innovation?

Well, I think there's a lot of different things to watch. Right? So first of all, I am always looking for the killer application that is gonna drive real edge compute. Everybody's been talking about edge.

Right? But and then lots of people talk about, It's not Tesla. Self driving cars. Right.

And then I was like, Listen, if the car have to wait for the network to drive, then I'm never getting in the car again. So, so It's not the self driving car. The car needs to make the compute on the car has to be able to make the decision. Right?

The the the data connectivity has to come at a later point.

But what is the application? Because we know it's coming. Right? It's just like we, you know, everybody talk about compute, cloud computing, Avi, I know that we talked about this in two thousand and four.

At Akamai. And, you know, it's too bad that we didn't get into the business then because I sucked at product I still sucked at product marketing, but I really sucked at product marketing at the time. And let let me clarify. It might be the metaverse on Tesla, ready player two, which we should only do while parked, but it's not gonna be merely, you know, smart city telemetry that requires that to be stored and processed at the edge, you know, today.

But yeah. But you're right. I mean, everyone's investing in it. The infrastructure's there. We know CDNs need it.

We know performance testing needs it.

But, you know, how does it get how does it evolve from there? I'm I'm fascinated too.

Right. And, you know, is it going to be the killer health app, you know, lifestyle app? Like, what is it that's gonna be driving this We don't know that. Is it going to be that, you know, we can now, in the future instead of watching, game is wrong.

You can actually now be a part of game is wrong. Is future entertainment going to be that you are actually part of the entertainment. You participate in that entertainment yourself. Right?

And given Twitch, again, was a total new concept to me back in early two thousand tens. Right? Yeah. And, Wait.

Somebody's gonna want to watch somebody else playing video games online. Why?

Okay, Bert. But god, there's right.

There's a one So millions of people do that every day. Right? So, who knows what the future would bring? And And I I am open minded.

I'm trying to be more open minded, I'm keeping my eyes out, but knowing that all of that will depend on having infrastructure and that, yes, software is cold, but I also know deep down, that there's a physical element to infrastructure that's not going to be able to go away. Mhmm. Right? And so And unless you have the ability to put them together to associate to that, the software element to the actual physical infrastructure, and tie them together to work for the eventual business objective.

It, you know, you're not going to be able to take advantage of the entire stock.

It's an interesting question that's playing out before us.

Where is the line between, you know, network and application?

Is it even if you ask someone, what is a service mesh? What is a load balancer? What is a network mesh? Where where do you apply policy? Where do you give telemetry?

How much do you compute at the edge versus not?

Yeah, it's fascinating.

And then there's different tribes. Have different religious opinions about how far up and down it's gonna go. The trend that we're seeing is an investing in is that operators are is that we really ultimately need to be more like it was in the nineties when there was just nerd, and it wasn't SIS admin nerd or IT ops nerd or database nerd or storage nerd or telemetry nerd or, security nerd or, you know, and it was it was the entirety of it. Again, at the same time as things get more complex, automation doesn't mean simplicity and and, you know, if you do need to go down, what you said, Isabelle, about you know, there's ultimately infrastructure.

That's true across all these dimensions. And, which I guess leads to a next topic, which is Let's play on your Game of Thrones. One of the one of the quotes from Game of Thrones is it is known. Right?

You look at someone. It's like, well, how could you not know that? But in many professions, including networking, a lot of the what we need to know doesn't come from, you know, classes that we learn or study on our but is someone says, well, of course, you wouldn't use expanding to that way, or you wouldn't, ask network Jill to do this because, you know, their policies are this. And if we want to grow the network of networkers and awareness and and and and going between layers we need to, you know, recognize that.

Is that, you know, this tribal knowledge and apprenticeship versus formal knowledge.

You know, how do you see that? I mean, how did you It's you talked about sort of being in conversations and trading food for and friendship for for learning. I mean, do you think that's getting better or more complex when you're hiring people, how how do you address it now?

Well, that's actually a very difficult question because, there's a whole new set of platforms, information, attainment, apparatus, right, methods, but you can obtain information.

It's much easier to search for information these days.

But even then, how do you know what's correct? What's not?

One? And, And even if you learned in school, how do you know it's still relevant? Because things are moving so fast and everybody's making changes all the time. So, from the tribal knowledge perspective of the you know that that, people say, oh, there's the ingroup, there's the outgroup, but it's not even that.

Right? It's But how did you get into the engobe? And people say, oh, how did how did you get, you know, in to be accepted? You're not like a normal nerd.

Well, we broke things together. We grew up together, and we helped each other out. Well, you know, someone broke the internet, helped me fix it. And I, you know, I took part of the internet down. Oh my god. We had a panel about that, We had a panel about that a couple of nanox ago.

And right. In nowadays, nobody has the ability to easily break the internet Oh, okay. Never mind. Well, yes. But most companies put Oh, no. You don't have permission the the consequences are more severe. Yes.

Yes. Nobody ever had permission to break the internet, but it was easier to make a mistake than because now there are gatekeepers in technology, right, that to prevent you from doing something stupid.

But back at those times when you broke something that, you know, that's when you really learn that you screwed up and you're trying to find a way to fix it and you're leveraging all of your friends, all the people you know, on helping you. And those people became your trusted resources.

And you rely on each other, you still do that today. Right? We talk about front of me and coopetition.

If part one part of the internet is down, that means that nobody else can reach it. It's not just that part that is down, that that it's down for everyone. So We used to talk about the hallway track at Nanogg, which is getting going again, but with COVID, you know, is not fully enabled.

Right. And, you know, people talk about and people are also more open in the We call it the olden days, you know, that people were open to talk about the mistakes that they made. Nowadays, nobody wants to talk about it because the companies that they work for prevent them from talking about it Right? Nobody wants to make that.

Tens of billions, hundreds of billions of trillions of dollars.

Totally. Which is a little different than the nineties. So Absolutely.

The little industry that, you know, we worked down that was sort of a science project is now one of the largest industries in the world. Right? So, absolutely. Things have certainly evolved and grown and are very different. Today, then they were back then.

But even now when you were thinking about, how to get into into that. Really, you just need to lose your inhibition and you know, step into a conversation, ask the foundational questions, see, Avi, I can learn too.

Ask the foundational questions. You know, don't let your ego get in front of you being a part and taking part because just so that for the people who are listening or watching, If you think that, oh, how embarrassing it is for me to ask something that's not smart or not not be seen as sophisticated, Nobody really go out there and think, oh, I'm gonna ask a question that's gonna make me look really sophisticated.

Of our people just do that. Everyone hates them because they're they're asking a question. Just ask a question. So don't be that person. No. Right.

I ask what you ask questions to learn. And when it's authentic, people spot that, people recognize that, and they want to help you. And we live in a community in an industry but people truly want to help each other. So it that's how I got into the industry. And I think Avi would say that's how he's helped many, many and that's how I continue. And we all continue to help many others in the industry, you know, be authentic and just don't be afraid and let yourself ask the questions that you want to know and want to learn about.

It's interesting to hear you talk about the in crowd, and I certainly in I'll say middle school and high school is not in the in crowd. But it's interesting because I don't wanna because I don't see it. I've heard you and your husband, Patrick, describe it and others, but I don't see it because I started, helping people long enough ago that, to me, it's just a bunch of people and we all talk.

And I but as I've tried to pay attention, it does seem like it is better than it was. And let's just pick on Nanogg, the North American Network operator group, I think there are, there's news, comma breakfast. There's, women's, women's lunches. There's ways that we try to formalize that, and I definitely also would encourage people, and also, I know it can be hard there there I won't say that everyone in these communities is, friendly or that you'll hit them at a time when they're not working on five other things because sometimes network people get, you know, like that, but, I definitely would also encourage just trying to, make connections in chat. And if you have If you're going to your first conference and want some assistance, feel free to ping Jezebel or I, and we will try to help as well.

Absolutely. And, you know, Avi, something you just said. The in crowd, we people who are the in crowd, don't think that's the in crowd. It's just friends getting taught together sometimes having very, passionate discussions.

And that, that make it seem very intimidating for others It's not that we're fighting. We don't we're not fighting with each other. We're just very passionate about what we're talking about. Sometimes our voice get raised and our arms are moving around.

But it's not the in crowd to you know, people probably consider you and I are in the in crowd, but we're not we never think it's the in crowd. It's just friends seeing each other talking about something that, that is really important to ourselves, to us.

Right? And so if you see us talking in the hallway and that seems, you know, really heated and passionate, come and just come in and listen and talk and, you know, jam with us and jive in and to jump in and, you know, Yeah. And it's all relative.

One time I saw, Steve Belovan, and I forget who he was talking to and someone else And I was like, oh, I wonder what they're talking about. Those are smart people. And then, you know, Steve turned to me and talked about how his sons saw me on on TV playing poker, and I didn't even know that he knew who I was, but I have his book because he, you know, and followed the work that he did at Bellabs and and all that. And, you know, when you then meet people, you realize they're just people.


Yeah. And they have, you know, and and we definitely do talk about things that are not only networking.

But I'll say not only networking and maybe food is the second topics, not only networking and food, but, you know, they'll tell me about which knowledge and which city. Just remind me which restaurant we ate at and, you know.

Absolutely. Although I definitely have some.

I was gonna say so much, you know, relationships so so many great relationships and conversations or had over, you know, meals of people sharing meals together and, what a great way to build friend friendship. Mhmm. Definitely.

You talked about, I'll just keep coming back to it because I don't remember the trading food for networking tidbits and lab assistants and all that. But, that certainly wasn't in your job description as executive assistant to the CEO.

No. Not at all.

So when you think about people that do want to get into get into the industry, get into more advanced kinds of networking, whether it's the technical side or the business side, what are you looking for when you are hiring? What are you looking for or do you encourage people to do when they're, you know, new, to the industry, you know, in the commercial, in they in the job sense.

Nowadays, you know, I recognize that something that you cannot teach or build is grit. It's the because you have to come back. Life is not easy. Building a network is not easy working in a fast pace, fast moving ever changing industry is not easy. And what you really need is someone who is willing to get up again and again every day after, you know, challenges insurmountable. It seems like You're saying I'm gonna start as a recruiter or an SDR and spend spend a few months being told no fifty times a day.

But it in, you know, it's not it's just that. It's it's not the internal. Sometimes it's even internal, right, when you're trying to do something and, and you're not just finding the success as a parent now. I am learning how you help, you know, your child build confidence.

Is to allow them to fail.

And then help them try again and succeed at that. That's how you build confidence. They they need to If they succeed the first time around, it doesn't help them build confidence.

Right? And so if you give them an answer and help them succeed the first time. It doesn't really help them.

And really, what needs to happen is for people to get through. They need to experience the failure, and then they need to be able to get back up and do it again. But When that's repeated, as you say, fifty times a day, it becomes really challenging. And then for someone to come back again and willing to put in the effort and then do it again the next day and the next day.

And that's, you know, the kind of perseverance, that kind of character I look for in someone. You know, obviously, you need to have the basic knowledge and the tech the technical knowledge that's needed, but even if nobody's gonna know at all, right, and it changes all the time. So you have to have the drive and the curiosity to say that, you know, I'm gonna learn what I don't know, and I'm gonna do it until I get to success. And that's, I think that you can call it drive, you can call it grid, whatever it is.

It's, you know, it's that character that I look for individuals, that's that helps me and helps my company to be successful.

That's a good way of describing it. I sometimes think about looking for people that enjoy being confused and unconfusing themselves like the solving the puzzle, but not everybody works that way. Sometimes you still have to get through it even when it's very frustrating.

One of the, masters at the taekwondo school that I I went to in Philadelphia I asked to, you know, I I I quoted keeping the faith and is like, well, I I just have to embrace my suckiness because I'm never gonna be good at this. And he said, but That means you can be the best. Again, very sort of, you know, in in Kaekwondo, there's a principal, Bechul Bugul, which is the indomitable spirit. Which is just, you know, keep trying.

Keep keep at it. And he said the people that come to Taekwondo that he's in his experience who have been sheer leaders and athletes and super flexible and it's all super intuitive to them. All hit a point where all of a sudden they it's hard. And then more often than not, they quit.

They're like, okay. This is no fun anymore. But the people for whom it's super hard from the beginning have to sort of self select that they wanna do that. Now everyone I think has to figure out their own way of endorphin mapping, how do they get the reward, right, for me, it's about creating things or, you know, and seeing people use them and talking to customers.

But for some people, it's knowledge for knowledge sake. So, yeah, how do we select for that? How do we look for that? Is, an interesting question?

And you know, give people the opportunity and permission to do that. The maybe not the permission to blow up the internet or to blow up production.

But, that's a challenge too, which I have talked about with other folks is there used to be smaller consequences, as a company that talks about outages on public media, well, public and private media, but, you know, and in the press and provides data, we try to keep it just to the facts, but you know, these things have bigger impacts. So how do we help people learn? Now we have virtualized labs. You don't need to put routers in on your bookshelf or, you know, your basement or whatever, but interesting questions. So, well, I hope to see you soon. Good luck with continued with packet fabric. If someone wants to contact you or find you, how should they do that, Jasmine?

Oh, well, you can reach out to me at jezebel at jezebel com or jezebel at pocket fabric dot com.

So and to see me in the hallway, flag me down, I am also on LinkedIn Facebook, you know, all different types of social media, but Again, I think, Avi, you hit on something that you just said, which is the people are normal people. Everybody are just people. So, you know, We are the ones that get in our own way. Our evil is what to get in our own way of becoming the best versions of ourselves and often providing us preventing us from, you know, reaching out to connect with others to become better versions of ourselves. So, don't let that happen. Don't let, you know, your Insecurity prevents you from growing. And so and that's Aavi makes it so easy for me to always reach out anytime to ask any kind of questions.

And so by the foundational we're not, Aavi.

Well, for those that are feeling what you're describing, Isabelle, I'd encourage them to Google imposter syndrome, and most of the most successful people that I know of that I've talked about with it have imposter syndrome themselves. And I think that's we haven't talked a lot about it, but through the decades, Jezebel and I have seen many people that have gotten wealthy. And one of the things that you learn is a lot of it is just about luck Right. A lot of the timing, the end lock, you know, now you can help your unlock in different ways, but there's some great people that worked really hard with super great created great things that we all use who didn't get that wealthy.

And and then there's some people that know, it's easy to look at it and then say, they didn't deserve that. They just got lucky, but, you know, some of the people that you know, wound up creating the most foundational things and and or did the best, still are, like, saying to themselves, well, why why am I in this position? I'm just a person, you know, I'm just a nerd. And so this is the people you wanna be friends with.

But if you feel like that, it probably means that you're coming from a good place and that just trust that other people are feeling the same way, including the people that you think are the the build all the foundations that you, you know, you live in and work in. So That's right. And people I admire, like, Avi, just a normal person. So I I may be the, third least normal person at my company, but I I pretend I pretend to be normal and, collect people that are collect friends that are, that are, at least you I'll say unique.

We don't wanna say foot value judges. It's a unique, express their uniqueness comfortably. So And thank you for appreciating my uniqueness.

Absolutely. Anytime.

Well, thanks again, Jezebel, and this has been network a f. You can I'm Avi Friedman. You can reach me on, avi at kintech dot com. I'm Avi friedman on Twitter. I'm avi at freeman dot net. I'm a treatment on LinkedIn.

And, we've got full educational resources and a kintech, and also, lots fun conversations on the blog.

Got a guest?

Network AF is accepting guests for upcoming episodes. If you’d like to be on the podcast or refer a friend, reach out to

About Network AF

Network AF is a journey of super-nerd proportions into the world of networking, cloud, and the internet. Avi Freedman, self-described internet plumber and podcast namesake, hosts top network engineering experts from around the world for in-depth, honest, and freewheeling banter on all-things-network — how-tos, best practices, biggest mistakes, war stories, hot takes, rants, and more.
We use cookies to deliver our services.
By using our website, you agree to the use of cookies as described in our Privacy Policy.