This week, Skillology features John Paz (pictured), a technical writer, husband of eight years to Mrs. Daisha Paz, and a father of three children. In addition to being an all-around family man, at just 28 years-old, John is also a sports enthusiast, an advid traveler, a community activitist, and a writer of three blogs. John was one of Skillology's first members, and has been an active participant having contributed many insights and articles under the username "Spiegro," including the popular Birth of a Skillologist blog post, a chronicle of a Skillologist's never-ending journey to find fulfillment in his career and purpose for his skills.
Mr. John Paz, thank you for taking the time to share some personal insights with the Skillology family.
To kick things off, please describe yourself to fellow Skillologists in less than 140 characters:
I'm a writer, a father, a husband, a sports enthusiast, a traveler, and a seeker of beauty. You won't meet another person like me, ever.
Where do you live and how did you end up there?
I currently live in Orlando, FL. I went to high school and college here, so I consider Orlando my home. But I'm originally from St. Louis, MO, and a lot of my family and friends still live there. I also lived in Pittsburgh, PA for a while and still have many friends there. Oh, and I'm Cuban, so you know I have lots of family in Miami.
What's your occupation?
I'm a Technical Writer. I specialize in taking complex information and making it approachable for anyone.
What inspired you to get into your current line of work? And do you like it?
I've always loved to write, and people always told me I was good at it. Majoring in English was scary, because around that time was when people really started to criticize majors in the Arts, saying they don't add value or something similar. I landed my first Tech Writer gig more than two years before I graduated. But the true beginning of my interest in Technical Writing can be attributed to one flier I came across, posted on the door of a Tech Writing professor. The flier was titled "How To Tell If You're A Tech Writer," and listed things like "Bulleted list entice you," and "You find yourself rewriting poorly written instructions, for free." I could related to nearly every trait of a tech writer. My first introductory tech writing class was full of stuff I felt like I already knew, so I was confident the career path would be a good fit for me. I haven't looked back since.
What skills do you utilize on a daily basis to do what you do?
I lean on heavily on my writing skills and overall communication skills; I work with a lot of people remotely (they live in places outside of Orlando), so when I have technical questions (which I do, all the time) I have to ask using an instant messenger or email, and that can be tricky. You don't realize how easy it is to just ask someone a question to their face until you can't do it. I also really need my investigative skills to research issues or technology I'm writing about. I often need to rely on my critical thinking skills to attempt to solve my own problems before asking for help from an expert.
That education in the Arts came in handy, and proved plenty lucrative (take THAT Rick Scott).
Are there any other endeavors you'd like to begin, or are working on, that you envision pursuing and making a living from in the future?
Oh god yes, where do I begin? Law school: I'm fascinated by international relations/law, and I have an genuine interest in the language of the law. I started the whole law school process, but I wasn't ready, and more importantly I wasn't ready to sacrifice that kind of time with my kids. They're still young, they need their dad around. I had kids young enough so that when they go off to college I'll start law school then; I'll only be in my 40s!
I also believe I have a potential career in becoming a Career Counselor. I write and edit resumes as a side gig (hit me up!), and often times I do way more than just edit for spelling errors. I evaluate what a person has already done in their career and what they'd love to do, and I try to find an industry or career path that they would enjoy, or at least be satisfied pursuing. Then I help them target jobs that will lead to that career path, or at least move them in that direction (if you want to be a cook, it'd be better to work as a short-order cook at Denny's than a cashier at McDonald's. It's a start in the right direction).
I also cannot tear myself away from sports, and I get lots of great feedback on my sports-related opinion pieces. I also fell in love with sports travel (following a team, usually out of the country). I also love to coach and I still play at a competitive level. So, there is always that. Maybe I can try to coach at a higher level now that my new job is much more flexible with my schedule, who knows? I like to keep my options open.
I know, all of this seems unrelated right? Well, it's not. I'm just a complex person. Folks always comment about how many interests and potential careers I juggle. I'm like: "Don't be mad at me because you can't do more than one thing at a time..."
What people (or types of people) motivate you and why?
Dreamers, doers, and happy people. The creative types. I'm drawn to them. The people who challenge everything they see. People who may not have gone to college, but it didn't stop them from doing what they love. So many people go to college thinking it will tell them who they are through an evaluation or test. But it comes from interacting with people and figuring out, through trial and error--actually DOING something--what you're good at and love to do.
And I can't stand pessimistic people. I get realists, but even a realist has to admit that there is a good chance things won't go entirely wrong.
Anyone who does their own thing, and does it for a reason, is alright with me. Even if I disagree with them.
What's an interesting book, magazine, documentary , or online blog that you're reading/watching currently?
Thank goodness someone has asked me this question, because I just finished one of the better fantasy trilogies I've ever read. The Inheritence Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin is an absolute must-have for anyone ever interested in fantasy/science fiction. I was drawn to them after reading an interview of the author. In it she expressed her frustration about reading all of the epic fantasy, classical stories, and not being able to related to them after they're done. All of the European influence was seeping into her own work; all her landscapes felt like Narnia, all of her main characters seemed to be fair-skinned males. The Inheritance Trilogy was her attempt to write something with non-traditional characters and storylines, and damn if she didn't do a wonderful job. I flew through the three books and didn't want them to end. For all of those people sick of dark-skinned people (Orcs, anyone?) in a story being the bad guy, and for anyone tired of the typical love-interest formulas, just try the first book The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. You'll be hooked.
Get on the bandwagon early, because Jemisin will be a household name in a short time, and these books scream for an A-list script and actors for the movie version; it's only a matter of time. Just remember, you heard it hear first!
In just a short sentence or two, what productivity, business, or career advice would you offer someone fresh out of college (or who has no clue what to do with themselves just yet)?
Do what you love and the money will follow. If you're out of ideas, do something with programming or computer science, that way, even if you don't find (what you love) you'll at least be able to make good money.
Do you have a favorite quote? What is it? Who's it by?
"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be." - Shel Silverstein
"Believe you can achieve anything. Prepare like you might not achieve much. Live like none of it matters anyway." - John P.
"I speak soccer, so I am never alone." - John P.
Do you have a favorite travel destination? Where is it, and why aren't you there now?
Spain, Spain, Spain! I've been twice, once when I graduated high school and again when I graduated from college. Barcelona is the city that speaks to me. I have some crazy stories from that beautiful city. It's not a matter of "if" I go back, it's about "when." I really dig the Spanish lifestyle; how can institutionalized nap time (the infamous "siesta") be a bad thing? Really? I intend to spend a big part of my life in Spain at some point.
Anything else you want to add for fellow Skillologists to check out, while we're here?
Yeah I tend to take up a lot of time, what can I say, I'm a writer. I'll leave with you this: Curiosity and passion can make up for any deficiency. College is important, but don't wait to start working towards your dreams until you get some formal classroom and teacher to tell you what to do. This is the Information Age, go find what you love and do that shit to death. Seriously. I know people are struggling and times are tough, but personal sacrifice and planning can make up for a lot. Forget your friends for a while; your real friends will understand you're grinding right now and will hit them back. The ones who can't wait just need a distraction from their own lives.
And I'm not joking when I say if you can't figure out what you want to do learn programming. People think it's all numbers and stuffy rooms in front of a computer. It's not, you can do some really, really creative things with software and computers. The sky is the limit. And there is such a desperate need for those kinds of people that even knowing a little bit of programming can keep you employed forever.
Having visited Skillology.com, what do you think of the site as a tool and resource for other individuals like yourself?
Man I love Skillology. Since I joined I've relaunched my writing efforts in earnest. Before, I would talk about it, but I didn't write much. I still need to write more, but the prompts and discussion on Skillology really challenged me and pushed me to write more. I know the folks behind it are smart people with genuine intentions of making people better, so I can't see how they could lose. Now, finding more time to spend on it is another subject... But really, it's a great tool for those types of people that put hard work into their blog posts, drawings, music, or whatever they work on, and really want to have a discussion about it. Because Facebook and Twitter users aren't always into meaningful discussions.
Be sure to follow my blog(s):
Thank you John Paz for taking the time to provide personal insights into your creative endeavors.
Much continued success!
The Skillologist Spotlight is an on-going feature showcasing individual Skillologists utilizing their skills, talents, and ambitious drive to pursue their creative passions and entrepreneurial interests. If you would like to be featured, please contact us and tell us more about yourself.