Tech and the Art of Troubleshooting

By Chris Kidd, Sr. Remote Desktop Specialist, Enterprise Solutions, TSP

Recently, someone asked me about the hardest problem I have ever had to solve at work. Since I have worked on helpdesks and desktop support for nearly 20 years, most of what I do is about solving problems, so I had a long list to choose from.

About a year ago, I was working with a client who kept getting locked out of the enterprise environment he was working on. It happened again and again, which was obviously disrupting his productivity. Sometimes this happens in enterprise environments because of the way active directories and exchange systems are set up, but the problem was so persistent that I ended up talking to the guy every day until the problem was fixed.

I did research, talked with the network guys, viewed logs, and did a lot of detective work. Finally, every possibility was whittled down until we coordinated with our local desktop team. It turned out that he was running a piece of hardware that wasn’t approved, making him an automatic hotspot, which kicked him out of the system again and again. It took a bit of dedication and creative thinking, but there is nothing like the feeling you get when you solve a problem—especially when it’s a hard one.

Get to the point and don’t waste time
My personal philosophy is about getting things done as efficiently as possible. Don’t go through unneeded steps if you can just get straight to the point and just fix the issue. I like working for TSP because the company shares that same spirit of doing business, which is to get the end user’s tech fixed and back to life as quickly as possible. I like to find a solution with the client over the phone, and if I have to take a step back and do some research, I always try to find a fix the same day.

Stay on top of what’s going on
A lot of tech service businesses are too big to respond to IT changes, which means their techs aren’t as prepared to answer questions and adapt to emerging environments. For me, TSP is a “just right” size because we’re big enough to access major resources and training tools, yet agile enough to stay on top of new technology developments and remain connected with other parts of the team. TSP is willing to take calculated risks, which means we have the flexibility to try vetted potential solutions and make breakthroughs. We’re always right on the cusp and checking out new ideas and concepts. IT is a trend business, and we have the capability to see what’s going on and respond.

Get to know the client
A lot of tech help is remote, which leads to incomplete or inappropriate solutions when clients call for help. TSP works onsite with clients, so we know how they operate. Knowing the environment means you can have a better sense of what might be causing an issue, which makes it that much easier to get to a fast, complete fix.

2016 Corporate Chili Cook-Off

Another year, another infamous chili cook-off at TSP headquarters! Since our people and our company culture is a huge part of who we are as an organization, we were happy to have our most celebrated and mouthwatering internal contest, the 8th Annual Chili Cook-Off, at Dallas HQ on Friday, February 5, 2016.

Not only did the cook-off help us celebrate Super Bowl weekend early, as our corporate Dallas employees know, this notorious cook-off can get a tad competitive, providing us all with some (always welcome) Friday fun.

TSP provided the delicious fixins to enjoy with the entrant chili dishes. In the spirit of always going bigger and better and listening to our people, we even added a cornbread submission this year to enjoy along with all the chili recipes. There were a total of nine cornbread submissions and 12 chili recipes for all employees to enjoy and taste test.

All Dallas employees located at TSP’s corporate office judged the chili concoctions.  After some tough competition and several helpings, Chris Skaggs received first place for his chili and Eileen Pena received first place for her cornbread. Eileen Pena also won second place for her chili recipe, while Ryan Bullock received second place for his cornbread mix. Congrats to our 2016 chili kings and queen! We’re all already craving your winning recipes again.

Winners in past years have included:

  • 2009 – Omar Gonzalez
  • 2010 – David Sims
  • 2011 – Annette Lozuk
  • 2012 – John Hills
  • 2013 – Michele Benson
  • 2014 – Annette Lozuk
  • 2015 – Karen McElwain

While TSP employees and their fellow #TSProckstars were munching on chili and cornbread, CEO Frank Gonzalez and CFO Keith McElwain played a game of cornhole in the hallway…never a dull moment at TSP, especially on a Friday!

We truly enjoy hosting fun employee-centered events like this one, aimed at keeping morale and engagement high. As you all know, we value our positive company culture and hope you (and your hearty appetites) enjoyed this year’s cook-off. And we hope that our remote employees enjoyed following along the fun on social media. We already can’t wait until next year!

The Competition Heats Up Among TSP Employees During the Dallas Hot Chocolate Run

TSP loves to ensure that our #TSProckstars are healthy and happy. As part of this company goal, TSP often participates in different charitable runs in the community, including the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k Run, which we participated in last weekend, on February 6, 2016.

The Hot Chocolate Run gives runners the option to run a 5k or a 15k, and start and finish in Fair Park amongst Dallas’ biggest chocolate aficionados. As an additional push for our #TSProckstars to participate in the Hot Chocolate Run, we sponsored the entrance fees for our employees. We value the health, wellness and happiness of our people, so supporting them in this way was a no brainer for us.

One of our valued and longtime employees, Karen McElwain (our senior accounts payable specialist), decided to use the Hot Chocolate Run to improve her personal health. She used to refer to herself as un-athletic, and certainly not one to run races. Last year, Karen was moved (literally!) to join the TSP team and train to run in the Hot Chocolate run for the first time, opting for the 5k.

After completing the 5k in 2015, Karen decided to take her newfound perspective on wellness and interest in fitness, and sign up to run the 15k in 2016. She was inspired by the other runners and dedicated herself to training for this race. She even participated in other races with TSP last year (including the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and the Walk for Alzheimer’s) to prepare for the 15k Hot Chocolate Run. She also opted for runs and walks on her lunch breaks, creating the work-life balance that we encourage all of our people to strive for.

“Before last year, I had never entered a race in my life,” said Karen. “I chose to participate in these races with my co-workers and gained a new perspective on my health and wellness thanks to TSP and my supportive coworkers. TSP has helped me to set new goals for myself and exceed them, both in personal and professional life!”

At TSP we always encourage our #TSProckstars to participate together as a team. The runs in particular help us bond while also encouraging employee wellness and improving teamwork through experiences outside of the office. Stay tuned to learn about our next fun run or wellness initiative, and let us know if you come across one and are interested in bringing it to the attention of the Fun Committee!

Just Starting With Social Media? We Can Get Through This Together

“I’m not on social media.”

“I have an account, but don’t post or share any content.”

“How could I possibly have a personal brand, no one outside my family and immediate co-workers knows who I am.”

Do any of these statements ring true for you? Read on.

“Brand or be branded.” I first heard this from the incomparable J.T. O’Donnell at Talent Connect 2014 in San Francisco and it really struck a cord with me. J.T. was talking about companies building an employer or talent brand, but the same concept applies to building your personal brand. Social media is an integral piece of the branding puzzle.

Join the Social Media Revolution
Every day, millions of tweets, status updates, snaps, vines and pictures are generated out into the interwebs for anyone to consume. If you aren’t taking part in this digital conversation, you are seriously missing out.

“Where do I start?” Great question. I wish more people asked this before they created profiles on every single social media platform known to man and then did nothing with them. The number of social media platforms available today is daunting…not to mention the new lexicon you have to familiarize yourself with in order to use the platform correctly.

My advice is to start small. Become proficient at one or two platforms, build a follower base and confidence level with them, and then branch out from there. There really is a skill associated with a strong social media account, and you need time to develop those skills and get comfortable. If you try to come into the social media world “guns blazing,” you run the risk of falling on your face and more realistically getting discouraged and becoming another casualty of the inactive social media profiles graveyard.

Do yourself a favor and conduct a little research to find out what social media platform a) is best for your brand and b) will allow you to genuinely engage with the right audience for your brand.

What Social Media Platform Is Best For Your Brand?
Not every type of brand and/or business makes sense on all social media platforms. For example, if you’re a photographer, you better believe you should be on Instagram, which is known for it’s photo-centric interface, at the very least. You’re a blogger? I would strongly suggest Twitter due to the brevity the micro-blogging platform allows, as well as the ability to post hyperlinks to your original content.

Like most things in life, you have to start by defining your purpose. Are you trying to become an authoritative voice, do you want to build brand awareness, do you want to let your freak-flag fly and have a little fun?

What Is Your Purpose?
Whatever your answer, by first defining what you are trying to accomplish with social media, you can save yourself some heartache later. Identifying your purpose upfront is like figuring out a roadmap for your posts. Keeping that purpose front-of-mind allows you to post content that always stays true to your brand.

Generally speaking, when someone follows you on social media, they are expressing an interest in what you have to offer and digitally saying, “I want to know more.” Don’t let them down! The worst thing you can do is open a handful of accounts, generate some content, and then waste away to periodic and/or non-existent updates. It’s not fair to you or the followers that want to engage with you.

Starting small and focused builds the proper foundation setting you up for social media success. Happy posting, gramming, vining, tweeting, updating, videoing or whatever social media mechanism it is you discover is best for your brand.