Heather Newman: Hello everybody. We're here with another Mavens Do It Better podcast. I am coming to you from a very funny little phone booth. I believe I'm on the 85th floor of a One World Trade today. And our podcasts, we do interviews with extraordinary experts and mavens who bring a spark to our world. And I couldn't be more excited to have one of those fabulous folks on today. Heather Severino is on and you are coming to us from?
Heather Severino: Lovely Los Vegas.
Heather Newman: Yes. Heathers travel, the Heathers of our MVP community for Microsoft. We travel a lot, it seems, Huh?
Heather Severino: Yeah. We need to have like a Heathers travel tribe or something.
Heather Newman: I think so too. So it's awesome. So yeah, Heather and I have been trying to get some scheduled to do a podcast together and Chit chat a little bit and, and share a little bit. And you are, are you the founder and owner of TeachUTech? Is that your company?
Heather Severino: It is.
Heather Newman: That's awesome. Will you tell everybody a little bit about that?
Heather Severino: Yeah. So I started teaching tech about five years ago. I've been, you know, working in the technology and training space for many years, over two decades now. And, it's my passion and I really felt like there was a need out there for maybe more of like a boutique type of an offering to help organizations with adoption and usage of Microsoft technologies. So I help in an onsite capacity, a virtual capacity and on demand videos as well.
Heather Newman: Oh, that's awesome. And so, and Heather, she's a Microsoft MVP. You're an MCT regional lead as well as, is that right?
Heather Severino: Yes. So, an MCT is a Microsoft Certified Trainer. You have to hold certain technology certifications as well as instructional skills that you have to have to qualify to be an MCT. And with that, after so many years of being an MCT, you can apply to be a regional lead. So that's, it's an appointed position for community efforts, kind of similar to the MVP program. There's about 75 of us worldwide that help others that want to become MCTs, coming back into the program or just kind of mentoring existing MCTs.
Heather Newman: That's awesome. Wow. And I know you have been a OneNote MVP for a really long time too, isn't that right?
Heather Severino: Yes. That's actually how I became an MVP is I was helping educators learn how to use OneNote in the classroom and to get certified with OneNote and went out to a lot of conferences and spoke at those and helped with workshops to prep them for the certification exams. And then since then kind of OneDrive’s kind of come into the fold and now Teams is coming into the fold. So everything's kind of integrating.
Heather Newman: Yeah. That's awesome. I will admit OneNote is my favorite Microsoft product. It just is.
Heather Severino: I always, you know I had that hat from last year's MVP summit that says I Heart OneNote. And yeah, I kind of feel like I'm not holding up to that with Teams now because it's like it's a struggle because I heart Teams too.
Heather Newman: Yeah. I know Teams has definitely come on with a force and I think all of us do love it very much and there's so much buzz about it I guess as well. Do you, do you find that you're speaking more on the Teams angle than anything else right now these days?
Heather Severino: In training offerings? Yes. That does seem to be what everyone has questions about. If they've not had exposure to it yet or there's specific things that they're trying to understand on how it differs from or how it's similar to SharePoint team sites and you know, Office 365 Groups. There's still is a lot of curiosity around OneNote. I think now that they have a great mobile app that that is getting more interest as well.
Heather Newman: And I know I was writing a little bit about the, you know, changes and I think I was on a call about, you know, the OneNote for Windows 10 and then OneNote 2016 eventually going away that sort of a big change for people I think too. Potentially. I also was curious, so you, do you live in Daytona Beach? Is that where you live currently?
Heather Severino: Just outside of Daytona Beach. I'm in a small little beach town just south of there.
Heather Newman: Oh, that's awesome. That's great. Well and I want to know, so Heather and I've, you know, been around each other at different conferences and gotten to know each other a bit and we did a lot last year at Microsoft Ignite with the diversity in tech programming. And so we got to hang out a lot during that show, which was awesome. But, will you tell everybody kind of how you got started in IT and how that, how that happened for you? That would be great.
Heather Severino: You mean the whole accidental thing?
Heather Newman: Yeah, sure. Accidental technologist
Heather Severino: Exactly. I was in college majoring in biology with a minor in marine biology and working retail, you know, if any of you have worked retail the weekends and the nights and especially the holidays can be a bit challenging or daunting. So I looked at the College Board for a job and they were hiring for an admin assistant for our local government in the IT department. So that's really how I started. And then we would get calls and I would help some of our clerks and judges with the issues that they had instead of maybe passing them onto our desktop support. And the IT director kind of recognized that and mentored me and said, you know, I think you've got a knack for this. Would you like to kind of become a help desk? Start a help desk. So I was the help desk. Then after a couple of years I became a desktop technician, right around Y2K, which was a lot of fun. You know what I'm talking about Heather, and I'm sure some of listeners do too. All of the fun things that were going on around then. From there I became, you know, I was accidental help desk to accidental desktop technician to accidental technical trainer. And started getting my Microsoft certifications while I was there.
Heather Newman: That's awesome. Wow. So the biology, where did that come from when you were getting up in college and stuff?
Heather Severino: Growing up in Florida, just loved marine life. You know, my family would take me to Marine Land and Sea World a lot as a kid. There's pictures of me, you know, swimming at the beach probably before I could even walk. It was just natural exposure to something about something that I connected with, with the marine life. And some of the organizations I was in growing up, like 4H and other things, I had some exposure to it in summer camp. There was a marine biology summer camp that I went to. So just a natural progression and recognizing that, you know, I didn't go into that as a career. I've tried to find some ways to fit that in with helping, with organizations that, nonprofits that help with that as well as anyway I can be in the water, whether that's snorkeling, scuba diving, you name it.
Heather Newman: Oh, okay. You like blowing bubbles then, huh?
Heather Severino: I do.
Heather Newman: That's awesome. I'm PADI Certified as well. And I love getting down there when I can, so that's, that's so awesome. Yeah. And Daytona Beach, I think. Well, in growing up in that area, I like, did you like as far as the spring breakers, was that a part of your family's life of like, oh my goodness, these people are coming again. Was that kind of part of your growing up?
Heather Severino: Yeah, it's kind of interesting to watch how that progressed because it became really popular when MTV was coming there. We'd had Pauly Shore and all those folks there. So it was kind of cool to catch the tail end of that. Um, yeah,
Heather Newman: That is so funny. So, and that's very cool that you have those interests outside and yeah, I love it to learn about what people, you know, what they're passionate about and organizations they work with and stuff. So yeah, that makes sense with the growing up on the beach. And how, so as far as the diversity and inclusion in tech, I know you, you're doing a lot of work in that area as well. Do you want to tell everybody kind of things that are happening for you in that realm?
Heather Severino: Sure. You know, I feel like as a woman in technology, there's definitely more exposure and more awareness to that. And being a part of being able to kind of share those experiences throughout the years that we've had and how there's a shift happening and how we can get everyone to, to support that shift and get more women in technology. I think it's great to help, you know, speaking at conferences like Ignite that you mentioned, Heather, helping with community efforts as far as mentoring. I like some of the things that, you know, we're doing as MVPs that we kind of have more of a formal program for that now that we can throw ideas out there and, and do things with that. One of the companies in my local area that I'm interested to learn more about is a company that, a nonprofit that supports coaching adults with disabilities to be able to live on their own and work on their own. And it's, it's adults that have blindness as well as another disability. So I'm really interested to see how they're using technology and maybe what I can help with that helps their employees as well as who they're helping to kind of live that life.
Heather Newman: Yeah, that's super cool. You're an author. Talk about that with what have you written? Where can we find some of your authorship as well?
Heather Severino: Yes. So I've, I've written a book around Office 365 collaboration for Conversational Geeks. So, if you go to conversationalgeeks.com, you can register on that website to download a free copy an eBook of that. You'll also find printed copies of that at different technology conferences like Ignite. They usually have a booth there where they have printed copies and we have one in the works for Microsoft Teams right now as well. And that will probably be published, I would say sometime mid this year.
Heather Newman: That's very cool. So you're a Fitzpatrick.
Heather Severino: Uh Huh.
Heather Newman: So, is that family heritage Irish?
Heather Severino: It is. I'm kind of a mixture of many things. And it's funny you say that Heather, because I've started doing some ancestry research to find out where exactly a lot of my family is from. So some is Ireland, Germany, Bohemia, which is now the Czech Republic. Cree Indian somehow.
Heather Newman: Okay. Hm. Interesting. And then Severino, is that Italian?
Heather Severino: He's 100% Italian.
Heather Newman: Okay, awesome. You must have good dinners at your house then.
Heather Severino: My mother in law is an amazing cook. If you're in Florida, let me know. We'll figure something out.
Heather Newman: You know, with the MTC stuff, how long did it take you to get certified and to, you know what I mean? And I know a little bit about a bit, but how long did it take? And, like your experience in that. And if there's only 75 of them, it seems to me that must take a while and it's kind of a special thing. You know what I mean? Will you talk a little bit more about that, that experience?
Heather Severino: Yeah, absolutely. And this is one of those things of stepping outside of your comfort zone or knowing when you're ready to take that leap. And, you know, working at the clerk of the court I had found, you know, when I became a technical trainer, my director said, make it what you want, write your job description, write what you want for pay. And I said, hey, I found these Microsoft certifications. What do you think? And he's like, well, if you get each one of these, we'll give you x dollars per hour of a raise. Which was a great incentive, right. Who can be that. Yeah. So I started getting them and then I didn't become an MCT right away. I saw that it was out there, didn't do it. Saw there was a job at NASCAR that was a lot of the qualifications that I had and the certifications and didn't, did it do anything with that and then regretted it, and a few months later, went back out to monster.com and applied for that job. So while I was at NASCAR, it was still on my brain, I want to become an MCT, kind of afraid to do it. Saw something pop up on LinkedIn about this MCT summit happening in San Francisco three weeks out. And asked can I go to this and went to the instructional skills class to get that qualification. It's like a boot camp that they do. And that changed, changed everything for me. The networking opportunities there, meeting other MCTs, meeting Microsoft learning folks just opened so many doors that I can't thank them enough. And for anyone that's considering something like that, that's a big career shift or something they're uncomfortable with. I definitely say do it. Don't, don't hesitate, just do it.
Heather Newman: Yeah. Most of the time it's about listening to your gut and just saying yes, right, on those thing? So that's awesome. Yeah. And you know, I'm also a business owner and, and with Creative Maven and Content Panda, and I know you've owned your business for a while. Is there anything as far as like owning a business like tips, tricks of like, oh my God, you must, or oh my goodness, you mustn't, that you've sort of figured out along the way that you would share with folks being a business owner?
Heather Severino: Absolutely. Don't stress about everything in that first year, my biggest fears were am I going to have enough income coming in? Am I going to know how to manage everything right? To know when I'm owing in taxes and get some help on that if you're worried about those things. The other thing for me was I need to have a website. I need to have all these marketing things set up in place. You don't necessarily need to do that if you have a strong community that you're a part of. And I think that's where the difference was for me. Having everyone in my MCT community and saying, Hey, I'm available if you need my services did much more for me than having that website that needed to be perfect right out of the gate.
Heather Newman: Yeah. I think what sometimes we, we allow either technology or operations to like that's the excuse, right. Instead of moving forward with something that you have an idea for. And if you put an idea out in the world and don't follow it, like it's out there for somebody else to grab and do for sure. No, those are great pieces of advice. And you know, being someone who is, you know, you own a company that's about, you know, technology learning, development and you know, classroom and virtual training and all of that. Have you found over the years, because it's been, I don't know, five, six, seven years maybe you've owned the company, right?
Heather Severino: Yes, five years.
Heather Newman: Okay. Have you, what's the change that you've seen in sort of just the space of training and learning development? I'm sure, you know, because things are moving at the speed of light for us, right, in technology all the time. And have you seen, what's, what's the big shift that you've seen over the time that you've been doing this?
Heather Severino: For a trainer perspective or someone that is trying to keep up on these technologies, whether it's being certified or not, the way that we get that information and the speed at which we get that information has multiplied so many times compared to even two years ago. When you think about it, cause we used to have this cadence of a new version of an application would come out about every two years. So we would have time to kind of develop those training materials, read those training materials and now you can't do that. You don't have those printed training materials like you used to. Everything's online or eBooks. And a lot of times they're not even making a lot of those training materials because it changes too quickly with everything being in the cloud now. So that's one shift from an organization or an end user perspective, I would say similarly they have to keep up with all of those changes and understanding what's best for their department, for their business unit, for their organization. What things are they going to adopt and how are they going to kind of put some governance around that and set it up properly that it's not the wild wild west that it's going to work the way that they want. Recommendations for me, for anyone that's in those situations is follow a lot of those things online, on social media and have a lot of those updates and resources coming to you instead of you having to be the one out there looking for those things and finding them.
Heather Newman: Oh yeah, absolutely. That's a great point. Yeah. Cause I think you have to be a little bit proactive and also discern who's putting out sort of the right stuff, you know what I mean. Or the right way to do it, that's for sure. Yeah. That's cool. Yeah. And as far as you when you're looking out into the world and looking for inspiration, are there as far as say business or training or technology and, and things that sort of, you know, light you up, who are the people or the places where, where you, where you go, where you say, Oh, you know, this is a place that I look at it, you know, you can name names or not but, or be super specific, but you know what I mean. Like what, who, who, who sparks and inspires you?
Heather Severino: There's several, and I know we have one in common, which is Julia White and having a personal conversation with her on an escalator, very brief, but just one of those moments where you get to learn a little bit more about someone. Kind of following someone online like that I think really can inspire you to see how far they've progressed or what, what they find interesting and working in that, where you have similarities if not. Groups on social media sites. There's, you know, women in technology types of groups. I, that I like to follow or be a part of on Facebook. Different conferences, Ignite, formerly TechEd is a big one for me to kind of follow what's going on in that community and just find new people or new technologies that I am not familiar with. Like Azure is one of those things that I'm trying to learn a little bit more about. So I just, always go outside of your comfort zone and maybe outside of the technologies that you formally work with and, and try something different.
Heather Newman: Yeah, absolutely. And listeners, Julia White was on the podcast a couple of weeks ago and she's corporate vice president of Azure marketing at Microsoft and she, we had a really cool conversation. So if you want to check that out, that Heather mentioned. Yeah. We, cause she spent some time, you know, with all of us at the diversity and tech action at Ignite and so it was great and she's just, she's fun. She's fun to follow and a one to watch for sure. That's awesome. You know, I always, I always ask folks about, you know, moments and sparks. We got the big moments in our life, you know, where potentially we graduate or you know, kids get born or you get married and the good stuff and the bad stuff, right. You know, somebody gets sick or dies, you know, there's all these big moments in life that, you know, we all go through. And I also really, I look a lot at what are the micro moments like the sparks of, you know, in your life something that you can pinpoint a story, if you wouldn't mind sharing, of, you know, when you were like, yes, I am on the right path, or yes, this is what I want to do. Or somebody who inspired you. If you wouldn't mind sharing something, if you can pinpoint it. I know there's probably a ton, but anything that comes to mind?
Heather Severino: Yeah, they're there definitely is. One where I was, I think, afraid to make that change and was a pivotal moment for me and I had been talking about it for about a year with my better half and was afraid to do it. You know, I'm like, I think it's time for me to go out on my own. I had been in government for about 10 years. I'd been at Nascar for almost 10 years. It was that moment of being laid off that it was crushing, motivating, knowing that you have to take being scared and do something with it. And that was partly the motivation, but also knowing that you're passionate about this and doing it, you know, in that moment being told, you've just been given the gift that you've been asking for the past year and you don't realize it. You now have this opportunity to go and make it what you want and becoming a solo-prenuer, you know, an entrepreneur at that time, I think was, was one of the big moments. I would say another big moment for me, not really realizing where I was going with my career, but it was kind of sharing that, the computer stuff with my grandfather. You know, he wanted a computer, he'd never even been on one. And I, and I helped build one for him and help him learn that computer, I think was one of those things where he recognized something in it that maybe I didn't at the time. And I think that, a lot of that came from that.
Heather Newman: That's awesome. Isn't it interesting when you, you know, you're teaching somebody else, especially an elder that you, you know, respect and all of that. I've had similar with my parents. You know, I taught my mother, I don't know, I tell my mom how to Facebook and all the emojis and stuff, which now she checks in like everywhere, like whenever she does anything. But she definitely loves it. It's so interesting that you brought up retail cause my dad worked for JC Penney's for 40 years. So, and was a store manager, so I, every time he got promoted, we moved, you know, so I lived that retail life as a kid, very much and you know, long weekends and lots of standing. And I even worked at JC Penney's for a while, so that's kind of funny. We have that in common too. So you mentioned Nascar. How was that? How was working there and what was that about? What was that all about? Talk a little bit about that if you would.
Heather Severino: So, you know, when I took that job, it was a crazy experience and I applied for it. I didn't hear anything back from them for almost a month. And then when I did it was like, we want to do an interview tomorrow, you know? So it was that, that initial HR kind of check the box, it would be over the phone. Then it was okay, we want you to come in for an in-person interview the next day. And so within four days I had three interviews and then was hired on and I feel like that was a sign of the speed at which everything moves at Nascar. It's just about as fast pace as the cars on the track with what you're doing there. And the first day on the job, I remember being so exhausted, but it was one of those, this was really interesting, so much to learn. So many things that are different about corporate sports media world, then the government world I had just come from. I wanted the challenge and boy did I get the challenges. So it was similar to what I was doing before where I was overseeing the help desk, the service desk. During my time there, I started up the technology training program and was helping to train all of our corporate employees as well as our officials that work at the events, at the various race tracks and then helping our sister company that owns a lot of the tracks around the United States adopt when we're upgrading to maybe a new operating system or a new version of Office.
Heather Newman: Oh my gosh. That's so cool. Wow. That sounds like a neat place to work and a very cool experience. You know, it's interesting you say about, you know, when you get laid off and I've been laid off and/or fired or all those things, and I agree with you that, you know, there's the, I don't know, there's the moment of, you know, victim is the wrong word, but like it's, it's sort of like you get, you're just like, awhh. You know, like this happened to me and it wasn't my choice and no matter what it is, right, whether it's a bs thing that happened or it's just the contract ended and they don't have any more money or whatever. Right. But I don't know, I feel like, just like with what you said, it's like usually I think in every case that it's ever happened to me, it's been like, I've made a vat of like lemonade Martinis out of whatever lemon it was, you know. And it took me to the next thing. And do you, I mean, do you think eventually you would have been like, you know, I'm going to go out on my own, had that not happened? Do you feel like you would have gotten there anyway? I don't know.
Heather Severino: I think so. I think it just would've been delayed. I think that I was really, you know, wanting to kind of see through some of the things that we were working on there and I really enjoyed working with my boss and some of my colleagues that those relationships would have kind of been what would keep me from making that decision sooner, I think. The great thing about it is, you know, I still get to help them out with their training and still help them with, you know, particular efforts so definitely I'm happy for that, that there were, you know, there's still opportunities that I'm given and that, that I know that, you know, there's a good relationship there.
Heather Newman: Yeah. And a lot of times, I don't know, you don't always like, things come around too, you know what I mean? Like, you know, even if, because a lot of times people don't have a choice, right. And they, they're like, I'm sorry I have to do this. And you're like, yeah, you know, life is, it happens. So that's totally cool that you have a great relationship with them. And so you've got the book, another book coming out. What else is coming up? Like, what's coming up, where can people see you and find you? Where am I going to see you? I mean, I know a little bit where I'm going to see you, but like tell people what's coming up next for you.
Heather Severino: Sure. So, conferences coming up that you can find me at the North America Microsoft Certified Trainer or North America MCT Summit is coming up in Bellevue, Washington in March. So that's where I became an MCT for anyone that's interested in going to our instructional skills weekend course. And then attending our three day summit. We have a lot of folks from Microsoft learning and different programs that are speaking. So I help plan that event and I'll also be speaking at that event. You'll find me at the SharePoint North America conference. Delivering the OneDrive for Business pre-day workshop. Some other things to come at that conference you'll find out there. And usually you'll find me at Microsoft Ignite if you're online and you're looking for some learning resources, you can find my courses on LinkedIn Learning and lynda.com. Recently released was OneNote for windows 10. I have some other courses coming out around Dynamics 365, another course and a few others that will come out later this summer and in the fall.
Heather Newman: Yeah, I think everybody needs to have more of the dulcet tones of your voice so go check her stuff out cause it's awesome.
Heather Severino: Thank you.
Heather Newman: You're welcome. That's great. So I guess, maybe to close out, is there any, I don't know, piece of advice. I know as an entrepreneur we talked about that a little bit, but just sort of, you know, it's like, I think to me, you're such a like an expert in the technology and working in this space and, and I've always just thought, I've always seen your stuff and been like, wow, she is just so impressive and amazing. Anything that, you know, like you'd tell your, you know, I dunno, 20 year old self or someone coming up in technology, things to think about?
Heather Severino: Just to get involved in anything you can. User groups, local user groups, if you don't have user groups, maybe you're in a really rural area. Find some of these virtual user groups online that you can participate in. Those are really helpful. My 20 year old self, Heather, what I was really afraid of back then was toastmasters. I knew somebody that was in that. It took me a while to get there, but I think that that's made quite a difference in public speaking and how I deliver things or how I question in training scenarios. So definitely go maybe even outside of technology, I know Heather that you, were you a drama major, if am I remembering correctly. Yeah. So even things like that. Like we're gonna have to talk later because I'm thinking about doing this actor workshop that happens on Saturdays just to kind of get more comfortable in front of the camera. And learn some different tips and tricks. So, all over the board, I would say don't limit yourself to just learning about technology.
Heather Newman: Yeah, I completely agree with you on that. Yeah. And I think, you know, the toastmasters I think is great and you know it's interesting, you know, Julia White who we were talking about, you know, she mentioned that, you know, she was at some point like I'm going to have to do that. And she was like terrified, you know, and I think that's something that comes up for a lot of people and it's not just women. Public speaking is up there with like spiders and sharks and you know, as far as fears and stuff. So I think you're absolutely right. And I mean, do you find, I mean I find that, I mean I'm on presenting like all the time and I, you are obviously you're an instructor, but do you find that like what percentage of your time are you like giving something?
Heather Severino: It's probably too much to the point that when I come home, I'm told to not talk so loudly to not use my trainer voice.
Heather Newman: Could you take it down a notch, Heather? That's hilarious. Yeah, I've been told that too. What a shocker. But anyway,
Heather Severino: And I think it's okay to have, and you might agree with me on this, I think when you're on all the time, like 110% of the time, it's okay for you to take some time for yourself. Not, don't feel like you're being selfish if you just need to veg in of the TV or read a book in your pajamas for a day after you've been gone for a week or two.
Heather Newman: That's absolutely great advice. Yeah. So that's awesome. Well this has been delightful as usual. I love talking to you and I just think you're amazing. So, where can people find you online? Let's talk about that for a second and we'll put it in the show notes of course.
Heather Severino: Yes, you can find me on LinkedIn and on Twitter. And I recently changed some of my handles, so I have to kind of, I believe it's, Heather Severino is my Twitter handle now. And I think my LinkedIn is like Tech Trainer Heather.
Heather Newman: Okay, cool. Well, we'll make sure and put them in the show notes so everybody can find you. So yeah, that's awesome. And definitely LinkedIn learning and lynda.com she's got great courses up there too and then book coming out soon. So, all kinds of good stuff from Heather Severino. So it's so great. Well, I appreciate the time hun, and thanks for chatting with me while you're in Vegas. You're going to get out and get a little gambling in or a show or something?
Heather Severino: Yeah, we've got a little something planned. We just did a tour of the Grand Canyon. I think that's the big bucket list highlight of the week.
Heather Newman: Wow. Yeah. Yeah, I've been too, that's amazing. Good for you. That's great. Well cool. Well awesome. Well I will see you at the MVP summit in March. Yeah?
Heather Severino: Looking forward to it.
Heather Newman: All right hun, well thank you so much. And everyone this has been another episode of the Mavens Do It Better podcast. You can find us on iTunes and Stitcher and Spotify and Google play all the same places as usual on the Mavens Do It Better.com website. And at Mavensdoitbetta. B E T T A on Instagram and Twitter. So wishing you another beautiful day on this big blue spinning sphere. Thanks so much.