The 3 Topics You HAVE to focus on to be successful in GIS and Geoscience… and 15 ideas to get you started!

I love geographic information systems! The creativity in map design, the science of spatial analysis, and the cross-industry power are amazing.

I also love Geoscience. Geoscience makes the world go. We find minerals for your phone, computers and batteries.  We find cheap energy to power the world.

I am going to give you little insight into something you may not have considered.

Technology changes fast, and people change slowly.
We are essentially still cavemen with computers. But this is ok!
We are essentially still cavemen with computers. But this is ok!

Your education may be great… but there is something called Moore’s Law which will start erasing your education by the minutes.

Moore’s law says that computing power will double every two years (roughly speaking).

Consider the “Human Law”… it took 100,000 thousand years for us to think the digital watch is a pretty neat idea.

It took you 2-4 years to get your degree.

This means, that keeping up is going to be a challenge… BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE!

And knowing that you have to keep up, and how to keep up is half the battle.

Knowing what is going on is always going to give you a leg up on the competition.
Knowing what is going on is always going to give you a leg up on the competition.

I talk about how to keep up in my post on “Learning how to learn, and Learning how to teach”.

I am also going to give you a couple more insights here.

You see when I first started doing geographic information systems in the geoscience, I was amazed.

…amazed at just how backward GIS in geoscience was.

Still use paper for field maps. Limited field connectivity. No data analytics.

Things were changing while I was still doing field ops, but it made me realize there are three areas that every GIS and Geoscience person needs to focus on.

Some of these you might say “I knew that” to.

But are you really doing them? Are you REALLY doing them with your data?

Web Connectivity

If your data is stuck on a land computer… you are doing EVERYTHING wrong.

Get your data and results to the web... as soon as possible, if not yesterday.
Get your data and results to the web… as soon as possible, if not yesterday.

The internet is not a novelty. It is here to stay.

You can refuse to order your books from Amazon, but you can’t refuse to connect your geoscience / GIS to the internet.

You need to always think about how you can put your data online to ensure you stay competitive.

Mobile Technology

Mobile technology follows us into the toilet… if you are not harnessing this opportunity for GIS or Geoscience, you are already behind.

You use your phone everywhere, you might as well use if for your job.
You use your phone everywhere, you might as well use if for your job.

Perhaps a few years ago you could complain that mobile tech was not that useful.

This is not the case. There are apps for everything.

Luckily more companies are doing what ESRI is doing and letting you harness their apps for your mobile operations.

All you have to do is use your imagination (I have given you some ideas below)

Cloud Technology

Cloud tech is the super child of mobile and web connectivity… the future is all in the Cloud.

Cloud technology will be where all our computing will be done in the future.
Cloud technology will be where all our computing will be done in the future.

There could well be a future where we no longer have home computers, only terminals and online cloud computers.

You could light up a supercomputer for 10 minutes to process your GIS data, and spin it down to go back to a normal computer for everyday use.

Cloud storage is no longer a novelty, it is a necessity.

I remember a time when losing a hard drive to a random crash was scary. Dead drive means lost data.

Just think how useful Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive area. The future is Cloud… get there sooner.

Stumped about ideas for GIS and Geoscience… here is a quick ideas I came up with ON THE FLY (I will show you how this is done in a future blog post).

Some of these might already be created… I don’t know, but I do know you can come up with your own.

  1. Cloud computing for seismic processing (already started!)
  2. Mobile technology for field safety
  3. Web connectivity for office/field communication
  4. Cloud computing for automated core log analysis
  5. Mobile technology for geological mapping
  6. Web connectivity for operation monitoring
  7. Cloud computing for automatic survey design
  8. Mobile real-time operation updates
  9. Web connectivity for up-to-the-minute operational analytics
  10. Cloud computing for massive seismic data storage (already started!)
  11. Mobile equipment analytics
  12. Web connectivity for client interactions
  13. Cloud computing to save on computer purchase
  14. Mobile permit documentation
  15. Web… to connect all of this

Have fun, you now have a ton of ideas to go out and make happen.

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5 steps to stay hire-able into the future… what I learned from being fired from a job I loved.

I love geographic information systems! The creativity of map making, the science of spatial analysis, and the cross-industry value are amazing!

But… being fired sucks.

Being fired from a job you love sucks even more.

Being fired from a job you love AND you are good at really sucks.

I was fired from a job I loved and was GREAT at… and it sucked

Turn the suck up to 11 when you get fired from a job you love and are good at.
Turn the suck up to 11 when you get fired from a job you love and are good at.

I was mad, sad, frustrated, angry, furious, and scared. All those emotions over a very short period of time.

I blamed my former boss, I blamed the economy, I blamed my career choices, and I blamed myself.

And then I found out they kept a lower-paid co-worker who was nowhere near as good as I was.

And I was really mad… for a short time.

Most people go through the stages of grief when something like this happens.

This is normal, this is ok… BUT DON’T STAY MAD FOR LONG

I wasn’t completely delusional, I didn’t think my job was completely secure. But I also thought what I was doing was enough to keep me there.

I know now that this was a great learning experience… and as I like to say:

Knowing the possibilities, risks, and rewards ahead of time will help  you make better decisions .
Knowing the possibilities, risks, and rewards ahead of time will help you make better decisions .

Before I go any further, the person they kept was perfectly capable of doing what the company needed. I don’t hold a grudge and wish them well.

Luckily for me, I was doing these steps I am going to share with you below.

These steps will help you stay hire-able if you are let go, and will even ensure you are kept employed at your current position.

The reason… you are investing in yourself.

1. Get Cross-Industry Skills NOW.

The old saying goes, never put all your eggs in one basket. The new saying is… GET CROSS-INDUSTRY SKILLS NOW.

Cross industry skills are easy to acquire. Online courses, on the job learning. Make sure to be purposeful in your skills.
Cross-industry skills are easy to acquire. Online courses, on-the-job learning. Make sure to be purposeful in your skills.

It is very important to have high-value industry specific unique skills. These skills can make your career… but… they are most likely useless in other industries.

I come from a geoscience background. These skills can be very niche… and this means useless outside of geoscience.

You need to think about cross-industries skills, you need to think about how things interconnect.

Here is a short list of cross-industry skills you can start learning right now:

Marketing / Management / Agile / Coding / Video production/ copywriting / Graphic Design / GIS / Coaching / Excel / Access

Cross-industry skills will help you the most when the going gets tough.

2. Always put in more value than you get paid for.

Note I said value… not time. Value may be time, but value will help you 10x more.

Adding value doesn't necessarily mean more time, but it means being purposeful in what you add to your job.
Adding value doesn’t necessarily mean more time, but it means being purposeful in what you add to your job.

Putting in more value means you have to do extra work. This is OK, because you will be learning from the extra work / extra value you are putting in.

What does value look like?

Adding more statistical analysis to a project, presenting using animations rather than just images, and making decisions ahead of time rather than asking permission.

You put in more VALUE, and you get more EXPERIENCE.

(Note: Beware of pointless work… limit the useless, maximize the useful)

This experience is yours… not the companies which lead to the next one.

3. You OWN your experience.

Your experience is your own. You get let go… You can go to a competitor. You can make your own business.

Your former company does not own your mind. They do not own what you have learned. They do not own your experience... YOU DO!
Your former company does not own your mind. They do not own what you have learned. They do not own your experience… YOU DO!

Unlike your work computer, all the code you wrote, all the documents you created (those are property of the company you worked for) YOUR EXPERIENCE IS YOURS!

Once you are no longer employed, any IDEAS you had are yours and you are free to pursue.

You cannot take any documents, code, proprietary material, trade secrets

You can use your experience, no one can stop you from using: your knowledge of software, databases, writing, leadership… THIS IS YOURS.

Note… I am not a lawyer, so don’t take this as legal advice. There is a lot of nuance about what can and can’t be done after you are let go… but you are allowed to use your experience.

4. Making money for someone else works… but won’t solve the problem… hire yourself.

If you think like an employee, that is all you will ever be.

You can build your own business, be a free lancer, consult, you can work for yourself!
You can build your own business, be a freelancer, consult, you can work for yourself!
If you want to be unfireable, hire yourself.

This is not for the timid or faint of heart. It takes time and patience.

Make social media your jump-off point!

If you have built the skills, you can market yourself on social media.

It takes time and effort, but you can do this while you are working for someone else.

5. Always move forward

Spend as little time worrying about being fired, and more time planning your next move.

Starting is better than nothing. Finishing is better than starting.  Keep moving forward.
Starting is better than nothing. Finishing is better than starting. Keep moving forward.

Yes it sucks getting fired. But what sucks more is not having a plan for getting hired.

If you wait, you will wake up one day and 6 months will have gone by with you have done nothing.

While you wait, other people are planning and moving on.

While you wait, students are passing courses and getting ahead.

Don’t wait… START NOW.

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Staying employed in GIS depends on 2 POWERFUL SKILLS… your ability to use them depends on these 4 steps… DO THEM NOW.

I love geographic information systems! The artistic nature of mapping and symbology, the science and statistics of geospatial analysis, and the cross industry value is amazing.

Here is something you need to consider.

You are going to go obsolete in GIS VERY QUICKLY… if you aren’t careful.

Technology changes fast… faster than humans can possibly change.

Humans are slow… it took us 10’s of thousands of years to figure out the wheel, and now we have new technology updates monthly.

Now say this with me… THIS IS OK! I CAN HANDLE THIS.

You can handle this because knowing what is happening is half the battle!

Knowing that you can

First I am going to tell you the two skills YOU NEED TO LEARN NOW.

And then I am going to tell you the only four steps you need to get this done.

The two powerful skills you need are:

Learning how to Learn and Learning How to Teach

These two skills are the currency of the future.

These skills are essential to make it just about any industry. Learn how to Learn and learn how to teach.
These skills are essential to make it just about any industry. Learn how to Learn and learn how to teach.

Your ability to use these skills for yourself, for your group, or your organization will determine your success.

Learning how to Learn

You have to learn how to learn because the world changes fast, technology changes fast, and the work environment changes fast.

I have an e-book coming out on how to learn how to learn. Will be good.
I have an e-book coming out on how to learn how to learn. Will be good.

Part of it is counter intuitive. You have to learn what to forget what you don’t need, so you ONLY learn what is IMPORTANT.

You have to be selective in your learning, and you have to be FAST.

This type of learning happens on the edges. This will put you out of your comfort zone.

You have to have removed the phrases “I knew that” and “I disagree” from your vocabulary.

You THINK you have the skills, but chances are you DON’T have them. This is because of your PERSPECTIVE.

You think you have the answers, you think you know what is going on, but you miss out on learning if you already KNOW and DISAGREE.

Learning how to Teach

Your ability to explain a topic reveals just how much you have learned about it.

Teaching does something to our minds... it makes us stronger, it makes us better. You have to learn how to teach if you want to get ahead.
Teaching does something to our minds… it makes us stronger, it makes us better. You have to learn how to teach if you want to get ahead.

Something magical happens in our minds when we teach. A responsibility switch is clicked on and we start to understand what we are teaching better.

Teaching takes guts. Teaching takes time. Teaching takes skill. All of which you can learn over time.

Now… the fours steps to being able to Learn how to learn and learn how to teach.

Step 1 – Know your Purpose

Your first step is to know your purpose in life. It can also be as simple as know your purpose in learning how to learn.

The more  you can define what you want to accomplish, the  better chance you have of getting it.
The more you can define what you want to accomplish, the better chance you have of getting it.

Your purpose will drive you forward and be as easy to understand as “Get a great job I love”.

This is the “WHY” of your life or current ideas. There is nothing more powerful than your massive “WHY” and purpose.

With purpose, you have a starting point to focus and push yourself forward.

Step 2 – Focus Focus Focus

Your ability to focus your attention over time will determine your level of success in your purpose.

The more you can keep on one topic at a time, the more you can get done... it works.
The more you can keep on one topic at a time, the more you can get done… it works.

To focus better can be as simple as turning off your social media.

It can also mean you isolating yourself socially for long periods of time to get jobs done.

Focus compounds over time allowing you to create something amazing.

Step 3 – Stay Aware

Your purpose will change over time, the world will change over time, and your life will change over time… YOU NEED TO BE AWARE OF AND MAKE NEW DECISSIONS BASED ON THESE CHANGES.

Pay attention, make corrections constantly, you will get there, even if there always changes.
Pay attention, make corrections constantly, you will get there, even if there always changes.

It is ok to change and adjust your direction and purpose.

Your purpose doesn’t have to stay static for years on end. You can alter it constantly to better fit new information.

“I want to be an astronaut” can rapidly turn into “I want to be an engineer” to “I want to invent a better car” to “I want to program safety into drones”.

Step 4 – Create Bulletproof Mindsets

The way you think about the world and how you fit in it matter. Your ability to harness your mind matters.

Mindsets will make you unstoppable (or the opposite if you are not careful)
Mindsets will make you unstoppable (or the opposite if you are not careful)

Great mindsets will add to your purpose, make your focus 10 times better, and keep you aware of changes you have to adjust to.

Here are several great mindsets:

Plan ahead

Success loves speed

No one cares, they want their problems fixed

Most of all… HAVE FUN!

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In GIS … What you KNOW vs. What you DO vs. What you are KNOWN for… MATTERS… Start doing these things NOW!

I love geographic information systems (GIS)! The creativity and artistic nature of mapping, the science of spatial analytics, and the cross industry value is amazing.

I hope you feel the same way, but here are a few things you might not have considered.

You go to school, or learn on the job. You have mad GIS skills.

You actually have a lot of GIS skills that you will never use.

You also have a subset of GIS skills that you use all the time and are probably awesome at.

What you know, and what you actually do are not the same.
What you know, and what you actually do are not the same.

You will be building your education and the skills you use over the years.

Consider your education raw gold, and your skills the jewellery you make from that gold.

You always, always, ALWAYS need a strong education in GIS. As I have said in another post, your GIS education is essential.

Your skills, you need to pick carefully. I cover this in another blog post.

But how does anyone know you have a GIS education? How does anyone know you have GIS skills?

If no one knows about either your education or current skill set, you might as well be shouting into the void.

You may have the skills, but if you don't have a good network, no one will know.
You may have the skills, but if you don’t have a good network, no one will know.

There is another component in this education and skill equation that you need to start thinking about.

This additional component is your network.

These are the people who know you. This could be interpersonal relationships, personal knowledge of, reputation, or perhaps even fame.

You can think of your network in relational database terms… One-to-One, One-to-Many, and Many-to-Many.

This is about what you are known for… good or bad.

One-to-one relationship is for people like your spouse, children, and close family. Very important, but not great for your career in this sense.

Very basic, important for life, but no useful for managing your career.

Then you have one-to-many networking, where you maintain several dozen professional relationships in your career.

The traditional why people would know your education and skills.
The traditional way people would know your education and skills.

This type of one to many is useful, old-school, and limited. This is your old-school network.

These people knew your education and skills. They know you in person. This is the way humans have networked for eons.

Enter the digital age of the internet where one-to-many changes meaning and many-to-many take over.

The New One-to-Many

Your digital network is now the most powerful tools you have at your disposal.

Even a slight upgrade in your social media will boost how many people see your education and skills.
Even a slight upgrade in your social media will boost how many people see your education and skills.

Every post, every LinkedIn addition, and every email that you create builds you up.

Your education and your skill sets are amplified in this one-to-many network.

Your education and skills increase by a factor of 10t 100 if you get this right.

(You can also get this wrong… but that is for another blog post)

YOU HAVE THIS ABILITY RIGHT NOW

Add a professional LinkedIn Pic

Add all your education details

Add all your work details

Post your current school work, post your achievements, and update your LinkedIn.

The next is for advanced users.

The New Many-to-Many.

This is not just for advanced GIS people. This is for GIS people willing to take a risk. This is is not for the lazy or the fearful.

You can shout to the world your education, skills, food likes, dislikes... EVERYTHING
You can shout to the world your education, skills, food likes, dislikes… EVERYTHING

The risk is to seriously put your skills out there.

This is where you combine your none-GIS skills and shout them to the world.

Videos, Graphics, Animations, Baking, Crafting, Lifting Heavy, All of these can open up HUGE possibilities for you.

The risk is getting on the internet and doing it.

Stay tuned for my eBook on how to get the New One-to-Many and New Many-to-Many working for you!

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other links!

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Your Skills are Amazing… Guess what… so are everyone else’s. Start doing these things NOW to get ahead.

I love geographic information systems! The artistic creativity in map making, the science of spatial analysis, and the cross-industry value is amazing.

But there is a HUGE problem… GIS is easy. It is easy like Word Processing and spread sheets are easy (If you are not careful that is)

Anyone can do Word or Excel… but they usually do it poorly. The same goes with GIS. A lot of people can do it… poorly.

But… how will anyone know?

Same destination, you did it better, they were all over the place.... but... (See next illustration below)
Same destination, you did it better, they were all over the place…. but… (See next illustration below)

Here is an example from my past with respect to Word processing.

When I was taking GIS at college I was require to do group work with two other students. We created a 100 page document together.

Everyone in the group insisted they knew how to use Word… but they didn’t have the experience I had.

I had already written a 200 page thesis and 4 research papers by this point and used all the “Referencing” tools in Word.

“Insert Caption” – Check

“Cross-reference” – Check

“Insert Citations” – Check

“Table of Contents” – Check

You use these functions because they update each other when pages are moved, figures are deleted, or sections altered. Plus, hyperlinks are made within the document.

One of my partners, an Engineer by training… insisted on removing all my formatting and hand-editing all figure captions, all cross-references, all citations, and all table of contents.

Hand editing… 30 images, 60 references, and three tables…

What a mess.

Here is the kicker… at the end with a printed copy… how would have known the difference between my skillful use of Word and their hand-hammered editing?

No one.

At the end, no one really cares how much work you put in, or how well you did... they just want it done.
At the end, no one really cares how much work you put in, or how well you did… they just want it done.

How is anyone going to know that you do GIS better than anyone else?

As I wrote about here, people don’t care that you have the skills, they care if you can solve their problem.

So how can you show them you can solve their problem?

It is actually simpler than solving their problem completely, but it does take showing a track record of solving problems.

This is where degrees and certificates matter. This is where training courses and endorsements matter.

This is where SHOWING WHAT YOU CAN DO MATTERS.

Here is something you need to know, because knowing is half the battle.

I like saying this, because it's true... if you know what is happening,  you can fix it.
I like saying this, because it’s true… if you know what is happening, you can fix it.

You will never be perfect for every role… EVER… so don’t try to be.

There is an old saying that says “He who chases two rabbits catches None”. Well same goes for GIS roles.

Focus on a single problem that you can solve, and define it completely.

In marketing terms this is called “Narrowing your Niche”, in career terms I will call this (for now)

Specialize.

You specialize in problems everyone can solve, or one that is not already thoroughly solved.

Google Maps works, don’t do that… unless you have a revolutionary idea… which is unlikely. Google pays thousands of people a lot of money for this specialization.

You find your idea and then….

Define your Problem

Remember people only want their problems solved. Find a problem, and make it yours.

Find a problem the you can fully identify, layout, and explain.
Find a problem the you can fully identify, layout, and explain.

Not all problems are created equal. Not all problems require you to focus your energy on.

Some problems are too easy and everyone will already know it.

If you are just starting out, research what industry needs. Ask industry insiders. Focus on that problem and go.

Define Your Solution

There is an old saying that “A question well asked is half solved”. Try this one, a problem fully solved is owned BY YOU.

Solve the problem completely (or at least most of it), and the solution is yours.
Solve the problem completely (or at least most of it), and the solution is yours.

You own the problem, you have researched the problem, and now own the solution. If you know the problem inside and out, you can solve the problem inside out.

Even better, people have the problem you KNOW inside and out, and that means they will trust you with the solution.

Promote Yourself

If no one knows you have the solution to a problem… then you might as well go home. SHOW OFF NOW.

Show off you problem and it's solution. You will soon find out what "sought after" means.
Show off you problem and it’s solution. You will soon find out what “sought after” means.

We live in a world where self-promotion is free. You have at your fingertips the advertising power never dreamed of by marketers in the past.

For zero dollars, you can shout to the world that you have the solution to a problem.

By promoting yourself, you own the problem, you own the solution.

You don’t have to be the best… but you may have to be the loudest.

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How I broke and fixed and broke ChatGPT using Geographic Information Systems.

I love geographic information systems (GIS)! The creativity in map design, the science of spatial analysis, and the cross-industry power are amazing.

If you are like me, you are amazed by the recent results of artificial intelligence (AI) generating “art” that has been flooding the internet. Some of the AI tools are “free”, and some are paid, the results… however, have produced a blog storm. 

AI art has massive ethical concerns about ownership and who does and does not get paid.

AI art has opened up new ways to make money.  

AI art might have to be stopped before it is too late.

I tried a few of the free offerings and came up with some interesting, albeit nightmare sauce results. You can see the first results below. I have no doubt that if I tried my prompts again, the results would be different… and most likely better.

AI and ML, the NOW of GIS
AI and ML, the NOW of GIS

Artists have some well-placed concerns when it comes to AI art. In the space of a few minutes, a person can generate some amazing visual results. From the fantastical to the mundane, from the comical to the terrifying. What would have taken human hours to complete takes AI seconds.

Below were my first attempts at AI “art”… EVER… and I assure you, the results are way better now.

AI Art is a bit of a fever dream
AI Art is a bit of a fever dream

I believe there are three possibilities when dealing with AI:

  • We can ignore it and not alter our behaviour in any way.
  • We can try to stop AL through legislation and direct action.
  • Or we can accept it, and integrate it… as fast as possible.

I am in the “integrate it NOW” camp. 

Enter. ChatGPT.

What is ChatGPT?

Let me ask ChatGPT and copy and paste the results here.

Explain ChatGPT to me like I am 9 years old

Sure! ChatGPT is a special computer program that can talk to you and answer your questions. It’s kind of like having a super smart robot as a friend! You can ask it anything you want, and it will do its best to give you a helpful and accurate response. It uses a technology called natural language processing, which allows it to understand what you’re saying and respond in a way that makes sense. ChatGPT is still learning, so it might not always have the right answer, but it’s getting better all the time!

ChatGPT

It is getting better, let me show you how I started to harness ChatGPT in GIS.

My First GIS Questions to ChatGPT (actually about the 10th… but let’s say its the first)

One of the biggest things I do when coding for my GIS is search for a simple solution. Sometimes I even have to search for the easy stuff like… how to remove only a certain string from an array in python.

In this case, I went for something I thought was easy using ArcPy.

ChatGPT first pass

This is not correct.

In code form, the shapefile, or feature, has to be a layer for any spatial selection to take place. So I follow up.

ChatGPT still didn't get it right

ChatGPT is courteous, but still wrong.

Both shapefiles or features have to be layers (or used to) before any spatial selection can take place.

So, this is correct now! But.. how correct will it be later.

So I try a slightly different question on a different account and see if ChatGPT learned overall. (I found out later it isn’t learning right now… maybe later)

Nope… didn’t learn. Again, ChatGPT currently does not learn.

But I know it will. As will all the other AI.

There are many examples of ChatGPT making errors. I will tell you this… this will change. Harness AI NOW.

Your future in GIS depends on it.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other links!

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They don’t care about your GIS, Your Education, Your Skills, or You… They care about having their problems solved…. STEP 1: Build the Skills

I love geographic information systems. The visual creativity feeds my artistic side. The spatial analysis and complexity feeds my science side. And all of this has massive cross industry value.

But here is something you probably don’t want to hear.

No one cares how much you care about GIS, or how willing you are to learn… they care how much you can help them RIGHT NOW.

This is a case of “Knowing is the half the battle” Because if you don’t know this, you will be stuck spinning your wheels.

Knowing what the real problem is put you half way to solving it.
Knowing what the real problem is put you half way to solving it.

Don’t believe me? How about I give you a quick example.

Your car dies in the middle of the freeway. As you are pulled over to the side, a guy wearing a lion-tamer outfit comes up with a spoon in hand and opens the hood.

He starts randomly poking around. You ask him “Are you a mechanic?”

“No, but I am really interested in being one” he replies.

Pipes get punctured (very sharp spoon), he hits the battery and ground a few times… sparks fly.

What the heck is this person doing? You stop him and say “You don’t look like a mechanic, you don’t act like a mechanic, and you certainly don’t have the skills of a mechanic… now get out of here”.

The guy may have been keen, and the guy may even be nice, but you don’t need him.

This is the world. You have the skills to fix the problem, or you don’t.

To get there faster you have to start with step one.

Build the skills.

There are three components to building the skills. The first is through formal, online or on-the-job education.

Get the skills, this takes "responding" to peoples needs first. This is where you start to learn
Get the skills, this takes “responding” to peoples needs first. This is where you start to learn

I would suggest formal education at a University or College. They SHOULD have up-to-date education standards and SHOULD have good instructors.

Online also works and helps you learn self-discipline at the same time.

These types of learning are responding to a very specific demand. They want X, you do X. They need Y, you do Y.

This is an important step when it comes to GIS. Learning this way is a necessity. This is building the basic market skills GIS needs.

You need to know what a buffer is, what a datum is, and what a projection is. There are a thousand concepts (roughly speaking… could be more… could be less) that you need to learn.

This learning process can take months or years. This is also the time when you focus on your skill set and begin to engineer your success.

Find out what specific skills will be needed in the future, and what industries need them the most, and focus in.

Do this and the skills you have at the end will be unique and valuable.

You can take a college education and make it 100 times as valuable by actively focusing ahead of time.

Next.

Fail Win Fail Win or the Path of Iteration

Failure is good. Failure is normal. It is after failure that we find some of the best learning.

Failure is good, failure makes you stronger, failure is the only way forward.
Failure is good, failure makes you stronger, and failure is the only way forward.

It is through this “Fail Win” iteration that you find out what works.

This is where you find gold that people really need for their GIS.

At this stage, find mentors in person, online or in literature.

This stage could be years in making.

Next

Teach What You Know

Something magical happens when you teach someone something you know.

Teaching is the best way to learn the skills... WAAAAAAY better than just doing them.
Teaching is the best way to learn the skills… WAAAAAAY better than just doing them.

A switch in your mind gets’ turned on and says “Holy crap… I need to know this before I tell someone else about it”. It is a responsibility switch. It is a switch that says “Don’t look like an idiot… do it right”.

Finally the last stage of Build the Skills.

Build

Purposely advance what you do, without permission, on your own, with your own ideas.

Many people don't do this step. They are content with not taking this level or risk. RISK TO BE THE BEST.
Many people don’t do this step. They are content with not taking this level or risk. RISK TO BE THE BEST.

You have built your skills and understanding to the point where creativity takes over.

You no longer have to ask permission because you know what works and what doesn’t.

Not many people go to this point. It is the riskiest of all the skill steps.

But I will help you… see how easy it is! (well… at brainstorming phase anyway)

GIS for arborists.

GIS for Automotive Experts

GIS for Entrepreneurs.

GIS for shoe repair.

You figure it out.

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Why It’s Easier to Succeed in GIS than you might think, or how a little bit of GIS can ROCKET your non-GIS career forward.

I love geographic information systems! The creativity in map design, the science of spatial analysis, and the cross-industry power are amazing.

However, GIS wasn’t my first career. I was actually in oil and gas research and the seismic world for almost 20 years. I had fun, travelled around the world, and got to do some interesting things. That all changed when I lost my job during a downturn.

Fired from my non-GIS job. It really sucked
Fired from my non-GIS job. It really sucked

I had a very high education in a discipline that no one was hiring in. I was seriously depressed.

It took me a few months of research, but I found “GIS” and couldn’t believe how useful it was. The creativity in map design, the science of spatial analysis, and the cross-industry power are amazing (Yes I copied and pasted that from the top).

I retrained in GIS and found myself back in oil and gas and the seismic world… but with one HUGE difference… I was now massively more useful and hireable with GIS skills.

I could speak a language (GIS) that allowed me to stand out from my peers. I entered a world of survey design, field operations, and spatial analysis.

All these new opportunities opened up for me because of a few GIS courses at a college. It was staggering just how little I touched on GIS, and how much it impacted my career.

Geoscience, which I was in for years, was perfect with GIS. However, what is strange is that I saw and still see people with almost zero GIS skills in geosciences. This got me to think about why this was the case.

An instructor I had in GIS told me a truth about GIS that has stuck with me for years. He said:

GIS is wide but also shallow
GIS is wide but also shallow.

“GIS is wide, but also shallow.” There is only so much GIS can do on its own. It covers almost every industry I can think of, but it is only skin deep (so to speak). That is why it is best combined with other disciplines, and SUPER easy to succeed with GIS.

Here are my top three best practices for easy wins with GIS.

Use GIS as an add-on to another discipline

Like I said above, geoscience and GIS go hand in hand, and it is mind-blowingly negligent how little geoscience people know about GIS

GIS is valuable tool to many disciplines
GIS is a valuable tool for many disciplines

GIS is a perfect add-on to so many industries. Geoscience, engineering, marketing, landscaping, real estate, and more. I have even thought it possible to create a GIS for arborists to track and mark trees that need cleaning up or removing, and contact home owners accordingly.

Same for landscapers. Same for window washers.

Use GIS in presentations

Since GIS is an inherently visual medium, always always always present your work in the nicest visual format possible. 

GIS is a visual medium, always use this to your advantage.

Most of the human brain is used for image processing, so use this knowledge to your advantage. Always go with great visuals.

I have been in more than a few meetings where an Excel spreadsheet could easily have been a map showing the ideas a presenter is trying to get across. In other words… show, don’t tell.

I see this all the time in geoscience meetings. Geologists talking about how much ore they have drilled or how much ground they have covered… all on spreadsheets. A map showing locations and highlights goes a long way to have you stand out in a crowd.

Teach what you know

Now, i don’t necessarily mean in a classroom setting, but I do mean teach your coworkers that cool tool you found that will create multiple points along a line, or how to project data properly

This is surprisingly easy when the bar for GIS is low in many companies. Yes, that is what the GIS department is for (if your company has one), but if you have a pinch more knowledge that could aid a coworker, help them out.

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Get hired in GIS NOW or Engineer your GIS Success or Make GIS work for you! or *Place Flashy Title Here!

I love Geographic information systems. It is so versatile and applicable across many industries.

So why do so many people find it so hard to find a GIS Job?

I see people every day on LinkedIn or Twitter, who are frustrated with the job prospects in GIS. Many times the jobs are either basic, or seem out of reach.

Today I am going to teach you about a system I am developing I like to call “Engineering your Success”. This system will increase your hire-ability in GIS by a factor of 10.

Engineer your success. Skills, mindsets, and reputation
Engineer your success. I am developing a method that will make you 10 to 100 times more hire-able.
I am going to show you what you need to start doing today to set up your life so that you can win in GIS.

GIS can be found in everyday activities that we take for granted. For instance, Google Maps!

Every time I get in the car to go somewhere I let Google Maps shows me the way. I can trust that it will route me around traffic, and more recently, show me locations of user identified speed cameras.

Perhaps there is moral dilemma (helping people avoid tickets!) but I think the Google Maps system brings more awareness and safety to commutes.

GIS is also used in urban planning, agriculture, geoscience, disaster management, environmental analysis, space exploration and the list goes on.

However, there is a HUGE problem with GIS:

GIS can be very easy and a TON of people are doing it.

GIS is drawing lines on a screen. GIS is “click-here-do-that”. GIS is making maps.

There is a low entry price to GIS (free in the case of QGIS), this means, it is not necessarily a career for most people.

A partial solution I like to talk about is “Code Everything”. I will leave this to a future post because I am going to give you a full solution here… “Engineer your Success”.

NOTE! I am working on this, so consider this 1.0, I will have more information to come!

Step 1 – Build the Skills

No matter how you look at it, you will need the “Click-here-do-that” knowledge of geographic information systems.

No matter how you look at it, you need the geographic information system skills.

You need to understand the software, you need to understand what datum’s, projections, data types, tables, features, etc. are.

You can do this through formal education at university or college, but if you are really keen, you can learn on line.

Protip: You will be doing this skill-building… forever, you must learn to love it.

Step 2 – Build the Mindsets (version 1.0)

Mindsets will dictate your success. People who have irrational belief in themselves, somehow come out on top. Guess what… you have to do this.

Mindsets are the second of the three for your GIS success.

The following are my top 3 mindsets for success in GIS.

Learning and Growth mindset.

Technology changes, algorithms change, you must learn and grow as fast as you possibly can. If you do not learn and grow, you will be left behind.

There is no failure.

People get wrapped up in worrying about making mistakes. Most mistakes aren’t catastrophic, sometimes they are just funny. The sooner you recover from “failure”, the sooner you win.

Find the Need, Fill the Need.

People get generalized skill sets because they don’t know exactly what other people need. Generalized skills are good… to start. If you want to win at GIS, you ASK what people need.

You can start by asking your Boss exactly what they want… and then giving them exactly what they want. Because you are learning and growing, you will be able to take the requests to the next level, and because you do not believe in failure, you keep pushing forward with new technology and new ways of thinking. Once you fill a need, move on to the next… as fast as possible.

Step 3 – Build the reputation.

Two words. Social media.

Social media is… a double edged sword… FIGURE OUT HOW TO USE IT PROPERLY

Get on LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, or whatever new platform may arise.

Learn out loud. Show your journey. Celebrate your successes, help people with their failures.

Work out loud (if you can). Show results, celebrate victories.

Help out loud. Have a GIS solution you know people will love… SHARE it.

Become social media savvy.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other links!

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Unemployed in #GIS? … Do these 5 simple tasks to make yourself 10x more hire-able in 30 days.

Being unemployed sucks, especially if you have a family to support.

I know this well. When oil went into the toilet a few years ago, I lost my job.

Granted I hated that job (which is for another blog post) but jobs mean money.

I retrained in #GIS over the next year and acquired skills outside of oil and gas.

Geographic information systems is an amazing skill set to have. It can be used in all sorts of industries and can allow you to be self-employed.

But what happens if you just finish school and are unable to get a job? What happens if you lose your job and can’t find something?

There is some bad news, and two sets of good news.

The first good news is that knowing what the issue is is half the battle.

Knowing what is in store will help you win the battle.
Knowing what is in store will help you win the battle.

And there there is the… THE BAD NEWS!

Most people when they are unable to find a job do nothing. They wait. They send out resumes (which is good). They search the internet. Then… they start doing unproductive things.

Watch TV, use social media for outrage, eat too much, and get depressed. You may even start questioning your choice of career.

Here is something more depressing.

According to research people will have forgotten 50% of what they learned within 24 hours, and forget 90% within a month.

You will slowly forget that which you are not doing. SO START DOING IT
You will slowly forget that which you are not doing. SO START DOING IT

This means you if you are not actively using your education, you are going be forgetting what you have learned.

You are not keeping up with new technologies. You are not making new connections. You are falling behind.

But as promised, there is some good news!

I am going to give you a few very basic steps to not only keep your skills ready, but also make your 10 times more hire-able in the next 30 days.

These steps will only take you 1 to 2 hours a day. That means only watching one less TV show (best not to watch any till you are employed).

You can make the steps fun, or just check the off a list.

The list looks like this:

Read a single blog (Day 1)

This seemingly small activity will keep you informed about what is currently happening the world of GIS. The great thing about blogs is that many people are writing on some really great topics.

Blogs give you distilled information that you can ingest quickly
Blogs give you distilled information that you can ingest quickly

They are doing the hard work for you by researching topics and bringing the distilled information right to you.

Even better you can listen to podcasts as they do the same thing, and you can listen while you work out (which you should be doing).

Here is a list of blogs to start:

https://www.esri.com/about/newsroom/blog/

https://blog.attentive.ai/

Bigger list here: http://wiki.gis.com/wiki/index.php/List_of_GIS-related_Blogs

Here are some great podcasts:

https://mapscaping.com/blogs/the-mapscaping-podcast

https://www.esri.com/about/newsroom/podcast/

Bigger list here: https://www.gislounge.com/geospatial-podcasts-roundup/

Gather Open Data (Day 2)

Finding free data is both easy and a pain. I have searched for sites that have links to open GIS data, but I find more likely than not, the links are long since broken.

Collect some data. Plenty of stuff is out there,, admittedly it sucks gathering it all.
Collect some data. Plenty of stuff is out there,, admittedly it sucks gathering it all.

Pick your country and search.

Imagery however, I use the following.

USGS – https://earthexplorer.usgs.gov/

Free imagery. Not the best quality, but great for keeping your imagery analysis skills up.

Sentinels Scientific Data Hub – https://scihub.copernicus.eu/

This is a recent find for me, check out GisGeogrpahy’s link on how to access it.

https://gisgeography.com/how-to-download-sentinel-satellite-data/

You can easily find more, the data is out there.

Do some analysis (Day 3)

You did this before for money, you might as well do it now for your future. You can really show off you skills if you are good!

You have done this for money or grades, you might as well do this for your future, like it matters.
You have done this for money or grades, you might as well do this for your future, like it matters.

You can use QGIS for free or ArcGIS Pro for cheap. With Arc You get access to all the apps, all the training, and even ArcGIS online.

This is a ridiculously good purchase which I would suggest you do.

Here are some example analysis you can do:

Analyze the spatial statistics of roads in a region which are under threat of flooding.

Analyze the location of factories and population centers.

Look at population density statistics.

Create a Graphic (Day 4)

Geographic Information Systems is at its heart a visual medium. The beautiful thing about creating graphics for your GIS is that they can be simple.

Even more skills you were getting paid for, or marks for. Do it for your future enow.
Even more skills you were getting paid for, or marks for. Do it for your future enow.

In fact, the more simple and easy to understand your graphic, the better.

You want people to look at your analysis and say “I see! Those are the roads that are going to be most affected by flooding”.

Here is another free hint. In case you get stuck trying to figure out how to represent your analysis… copy what already works.

Did I say copy? I mean be inspired by.

Show your work (Day 5)

No one is going to know you just did the above steps if you don’t actually show your work.

Social media is your new resume... HARNESS IT NOW
Social media is your new resume… HARNESS IT NOW

Show your work is risky.

What you have done might suck.

What you have done might change the world.

You will never know if you don’t show your work.

Social media is free. Post now. Post often.

DO IT.

Become social media savvy.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other links!

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