Mark Richman, AWS Training Architect
“Taking courses is great, doing Hands-On Labs is even better. But the best thing you can do is build something for someone else to use.”
If you’re here to fully understand Mark Richman in his entirety, you’re going to need to keep digging.
Just as he’s spent his life building, engineering, and wrestling with what is presented to him, so too does he easily maneuver more invasive questioning. But he’s got a lot of courses to research and write for you, our learners, so we didn’t mind.
This former New Yorker turned Floridian gets to the point and brings the immediate truth in every conversation- and in the training world, nothing could be more beneficial. He’s tough, he’s hard-working, and he’s going to help you help yourself, just don’t ask about his personal mantra- it’s a tightly kept secret.
The early, nerdy years
Mark’s passion for learning and self-sufficiency began early on in life. By age 8 he was already writing his first program as a self-proclaimed computer science nerd. And once he reached high school, he eagerly consumed any bit of knowledge he could find on computers and engineering.
“I’ve been attached to a computer in some form for almost 40 years- it’s what I love to do”
One of his teachers at the time offered him a dusty book on the Pascal programming language; and he proceeded to teach himself the language, feeding his need to consume and implement content as rapidly as possible. And if you thought that was the nerdiest thing he did in high school, you’re wrong. Mark also proudly played guitar in the high school jazz band “The only cool way to do it,” according to him. But don’t worry, while Mark was learning programming languages and jamming out to the smooth sound of trumpets, he made time for the math club as well.
“I had a teacher that wanted to nominate me as a national merit scholar [because of my grades] but I had no real extra-curriculars.”
Luckily for Mark, we think his hobbies were just ahead of his time, and once he reached college, that proved to be true. While Mark initially pursued a degree in architecture, he quickly realized staying up till 4 AM gluing balsa wood just couldn’t satiate his growing appetite for knowledge. So he did what so few of us are able to, and made the decision to not only switch his major but his life trajectory, by focusing on his first love- computer science.
“I thought, I’ll probably be happier doing my hobby for a living.”
We, “probably” agree with that sentiment. And Linux Academy is glad he chose to run after his passions because it led him to become a training architect with our team. But how exactly did Mark get here? We’re so glad you asked.
The accidental career
The focus for Mark has always been on continuing education and empowering others through his talents. It’s no surprise, then, that he worked in higher education prior to becoming a training architect at Linux Academy. For around four and a half years Mark was creating enterprise software for universities using on-premises servers, as a cloud architect. Eventually, those customers realized the benefits and wanted to move into the cloud. To support this, Mark helped migrate the business application stack to Azure and spent almost 2 years helping customers with their AWS and Azure migrations.
At this time Mark’s company required that he pursue continuing education, which led him to find online training platforms. And while he liked the concept and some of the content, he knew it could be even better.
“Teaching was completely accidental. I took courses and thought it was good, but that it could be done better- because I’m an engineer and we all think that way,” Mark jokes.
So he pitched a course to a training provider, with no expectations, and ended up truly enjoying the process of creating the course. Soon after, a Linux Academy recruiter saw his work and well, the rest is history. Mark is truly passionate about his work in the cloud space, and not just because he gets to interact directly with learners, but also because of the life he’s created through teaching.
“Being a new dad, being able to be at home full-time and have a much more flexible schedule, spending time with my family, that sealed the deal. Equal to the environment and flexibility, it’s a no-brainer.”
Now Mark is able to spend even more time diving into the services he loves like EC2, Lambda, ECS, EKS, most Container-oriented services, DynamoDB, machine learning and more- all from the comfort of his home.
Infinite growth opportunities
So now that you’ve heard Mark’s story, you might be thinking, “I want that“. Whether you dream of the freedoms of a flexible schedule, more money, or a career shift- you think, “Sign me up!” But, not so fast, there’s more to consider when it comes to true success, and Mark isn’t shy about what it takes to find longevity in the IT industry.
“This business doesn’t really have a shallow end. Unlike 30, 40, or 50 years ago, everyone’s skills have a shelf life. You always have to start again”
And while becoming an expert in any field is no small endeavor, Mark does note a few things that personally helped him find success, and he encourages learners to do. Aside from watching video content and utilizing Hands-On Labs, Mark encourages you to build and build with fervor.
“Build something that one of your peers can use to make their job easier. You’ll learn a number of things in doing that. You’ll learn how to work with someone else, how to gather requirements, how to build something, and you’ll learn how to support something after someone else starts using your stuff.”
Mark also reminds learners:
“You should be reasonably passionate about something that you create.”
But once a learner is able to take their passion and knowledge and apply it to something that makes sense, for them, the opportunities are endless. And another key suggestion Mark emphasizes both in his teachings as well as his personal life is to give to others. Whether a person has been given a lot in life or the world has been less kind, Mark deeply believes there is no excuse not to help one another.
“There’s a basic human need to feel needed and capable- so if I can help someone feel more needed and more capable through mentoring them in courses or by answering a simple question on Slack, I will. I find that to be the highest form of giving you can offer. It helps create a sense of dignity for someone else.”
The ‘why’ behind it all
Dignity and empowerment are two values Linux Academy has always stressed at the core of what we do. And Mark’s drive to help others build the confidence to take authority over their life trajectory is truly inspiring. His attitude is reflective of the values we plan to bring both at Linux Academy and A Cloud Guru throughout 2020 and beyond. Both brands agree that there is no room for ego, and share Mark’s passion for lifelong learning.
“People who feel like they have nothing left to learn, aren’t here. It’s more useful to the world to be helpful than to be right, and that’s evident in our culture as well as A Cloud Guru’s culture.”
Although it’s obvious that Mark is all about helping our learners, he does have an even greater driving force behind producing high-quality content- and that’s the people that support him.
“My family gives me a sense of purpose. I’m able to make my family a better life through the work I do.”
Not only is Mark hoping to instill his insatiable longing to know a little bit about everything onto his daughter, but he is constantly striving to provide an example of genuine kindness for her as well.
“I would like my daughter to grow up feeling like I was kind, even more so than smart. Attitude is better than aptitude in almost all cases.”
But Mark is fortunate enough to receive the most important lessons in betterment from his own partner in crime, and states,
“I want to be more like my wife when I grow up.”
His work and commitment to our learners are admirable, but they are a small part of the many things we appreciate about the human they call Mark Richman. He is a believer in beginning again. He is a fierce promoter of helping those that first try to help themselves. And most importantly, when listing Mark’s attributes, we would be remiss not to include his constant pursuit of self-improvement by lifting up everyone you meet along the way.
The road is never easy, and we all have stories we tell ourselves that threaten to suppress our greatest achievements. Let Mark serve as a reminder that it is never the wrong time to try, and when in doubt, start by making someone else’s life easier.
So what are you waiting for? You can check out one of Mark’s courses today. Start learning with one of his most recent releases, like Amazon DynamoDB Deep Dive
And for our business platform learns, find even more powerful training advice in our previous common business training mistakes