A couple of weeks ago, I was in Vegas and joined two major annual events for the first time.

Thanks to T2 Tech Group, I recently attended VMworld 2017, the largest virtualization-specific event hosted by VMware. Aside from getting my VCP6-DCV certification, my mind was constantly being blown away by the new technologies presented. VMware Cloud on AWS, vSAN (virtual SAN), and WorkSpace One are the VMware products that excited me the most. After being in the IT industry for more than 15 years, I continue to be amazed how data centers and end-user computing keep evolving. I’m just thankful I’m at the forefront and have access to these tools as well as the ability to add new skillsets to my abilities. I’m still hyped and inspired to build these new technologies in our T2 Tech Lab environment, and I’m already looking forward to VMworld 2018.

A day prior to VMworld 2017 and after months of mental and physical preparation, I competed in the biggest Brazilian jiu-jitsu (bjj) tournament in the world, 2017 World Master IBJJF Championship. I came in with an injured elbow but still decided to compete. I won my first match but lost the second by a few points. The experience was totally worth every second.

Just like IT, you can totally geek out with a galaxy of techniques in bjj. There are no shortcuts as you constantly get smashed on the mat as you learn. The following are some things I’ve learned from bjj that I’ve incorporated into my daily work life at T2 Tech:

  1. Preparation and developing a game plan
  2. Drills, drills, drills as practice is everything
  3. Leave your ego at the door

I’ve learned a solid foundation, preparation and having a game plan are key. Having a solid foundation, like what I learned as a white belt, is essential just like understanding the basic concepts of the proposed solution to a client. Being prepared with a solid plan helps you anticipate what can go wrong, and it lets you have counter attacks ready even before obstacles become problematic.

“Drill to win” is what I’ve learned from my bjj professors and teammates. They tirelessly practice techniques over and over until they become masters of a specific technique. Practicing chains of attacks is the number one competition advice I have learned from bjj. Applying this discipline at work helps a lot. Surrounded by colleagues at T2 Tech who are each Jedi Masters in their own field, everyone gets to pick each other’s brains. Armed with answers, I get to practice a lot using our very own T2 Tech Lab. The T2 Tech Lab serves as our sandbox for new tools, and we usually stage the proposed solution in our office before deploying in a client’s environment.

In bjj, you lose the ego twice. At first, you have the ego when you walk in the door. After a couple of rolls and being tooled, you lose it. You train harder, and as you get better, the ego comes back. Later, you’ve gone through enough competition wins and losses, classes, and seminars that you finally truly lose the ego because its importance goes away. Working with a team of IT professionals is no different. There should be no signs of ego during meetings with clients. Each team member should be willing to listen, help each other, and communicate effectively with each other and the client.

At T2 Tech, I always end up working at a client site. The first thing I check is nearby bjj academies surrounding the client I’m assigned. Since T2 Tech specializes in healthcare IT, I’ve bumped into some physicians, IT professionals, and vendors that work for our client at the academy I’m visiting. It’s interesting how I’ve built some relationships from just sharing bjj experiences and techniques.

I guess the common denominator between us bjj addicts and IT workers is constant evolution. Because of that continuous change, you never stop learning when you’re grappling an opponent or implementing a new data center. Now, I get to test the best solutions in the T2 Tech Lab, and I look forward to getting in some bjj training tomorrow.