A Brief Introduction

We are the sum of our experiences, multiplied by our talents and desires. Here’s how my math works out.

Movements

Somewhere in Southern IllinoisI was born in a suburb of Paducah, Kentucky in 1960, and spent the next ten years in various towns and cities in Kentucky and Illinois, including Harrisburg and Carbondale. While I am amazed that I still remember this, I went to Springmore for kindergarten and elementary, and then transferred to Brush Elementary for 5th grade. In 1970 my family moved to Plantation, Florida, where I attended Plantation Park Elementary, Seminole Middle School, and South Plantation High School. (I confess, I wasn’t much of a joiner, so don’t expect me to break out with a hearty “Go Paladins!” or any such school spirit.)

Not an anarchistThat house in Plantation was home until I left for college back in Kentucky. After a year studying music composition and English at Murray State University, I returned to Plantation with — shall we say — new ambitions. That classical composer gig was just not going to happen.

Lime corduroy leisure suit and quiana shirt, 1977Soon I’d moved to a one-room efficiency by Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport at Dania. I stayed there for several years, then bopped around a series of apartments in Miramar, Hollywood, and Hallandale before settling back down in Plantation. That Plantation apartment was my home through my long-term relationship, engagement, and the first part of my marriage. In 1998 the North Miami/Miami Shores area became my home for the rest of my marriage — my separation and eventual divorce. That’s right, I lived in Miami, the alleged third-world nation. No, I don’t speak Spanish, but I get by just fine. For all the chaos and confusion and creole weirdness, I actually liked it. Well, except for the heat. And the humidity. And the cost of living. And the traffic. And the lousy job market. And you know, maybe it was time to move on.

In DC for Snowmageddon 2009So, I moved on. In August 2011, I relocated to the area around Washington, DC. Yes, DC can be hot and humid, but it has seasons. Yes, it has a high cost of living, but you get more for your money than access to the beach. Yes, the traffic can be awful, but there is a viable mass transit system. And yes, it can be just as chaotic and frustrating as Miami. However, it also offers opportunities which are much more in sync with my goals than Florida ever has. It feels good. I think I’ll stick around for a while.

Interests

The obligatory typewriter shotFrom an early age I have been involved in creative pursuits. I was dictating stories to my mother before I knew my ABCs, and by fifth grade I’d decided to be a writer. I complicated matters, though, by starting trombone lessons. Against the odds, I had a talent for music, so my musical and literary pretensions fought for years.

Conducting high school bandIn middle school, high school, and college I played trombone, along with a lot of other instruments, and developed an abiding love of jazz in all its myriad flavors. I did a fair amount of composing and arranging, as well, always tending toward the avant garde. Apartment life brought my practicing to an end, though, and with that my musical career ground to a halt. I haven’t given up hope, though, that I may return to it some day. I have a synthesizer keyboard at the ready for when that time comes. So for now, the pen is mightier than the baton.

Writing, though, has stayed with me. Bad poetry, occasionally acceptable poetry, fiction, journals, dream logs, reviews, technical documentation, corporate communications — if it involves stringing together letters into words and then into something approaching narrative or image, I’m there. When I first got access to a computer — back in the days of CP/M and Word*Star — I started writing even more; I could finally stop wasting reams of paper in rewrites every time I changed my mind about something. This helped me get in on the desktop publishing fad early, and for several years I self-published a small circulation ‘zine called Ambergris from Leviathan.

Guest star on Miami Vice?My discovery of the Internet in the late ’80s moved my focus from paper publishing to electronic media. I learned to create web pages, and began putting my errant thoughts on-line for… well, probably no-one read them, but they were still published. Those were heady days, when web pages were pretty much all words and no pictures, and all you needed to create your own publishing empire was a computer, a phone line, a text editor,  and a strongly worded opinion.

Live announcingIn retrospect, it all fit together remarkably well. Music and writing are about communication, about reaching the hearts and minds of other people. The promise of the Internet remains an unprecedented ease of self-expression, finding an audience on the strength of your talent, skill, and passion.

Jobs

In my old officeLike most Americans, I’ve spent my share of time behind a cash register, having worked for both small retail outfits and national chains. I managed two different specialty retailers, an adventure game shop and a comic store, with the unique challenges those environments bring. Eventually I moved on to a jewelry wholesaler/importer, starting out in the warehouse handling packing and shipping. Eventually I was given the chance to get their nascent computer systems going, ending up teaching myself AT&T Unix System V on an AT&T 3B2/400. It’s a good thing I didn’t realize that doing so would be impossible, or I’d have never succeeded.

On the Miami RiverThrough a peculiar set of circumstances, I ended up back in retail again, working in the advertising department of the Florida-based Burdines department store chain. My computer experience — both those from the previous job and my own hobbyist skills — brought me to an IT management position. (As part of a corporate strategy, Burdines was rebranded as Macy’s). I directed the team running the Lotus Notes e-mail system, the intranet development group, and the divisional user support help desk, among a great many other areas. However, that’s just on paper. In reality I spent a significant portion of my work day as the unofficial “director of ideas,” as one of the VPs phrased it, helping task forces look at projects and processes with a fresh perspective. If only I could put “Director of Ideas” on my business card.

After a major corporate restructuring, I — along with seven thousand of my peers — was laid off. After the dust settled, I spent some time with my family, learned a few new skills, researched the impact of connected technology on society, wrote a book (as yet unpublished), and provided technology consultation for small businesses and non-profits.

Professions

Always writingBefore I begin, if you are looking for deep details — if you are considering me for a position, for example — visit me on LinkedIn, or just ask me for a copy of my résumé. This is just an overview for the idly curious, or people who think they might know me.

I divide my professional life between two areas: information technology management and writing, with the bulk of my time spent in IT. In both cases I make a mark on the world — only the tools change.

Good project management — good management in general, really — is all about communication. My time with the Florida/Puerto Rico region of Macy’s was a period of tremendous change in technology, and enabling those changes required much more than just writing code. In spite of facing an entrenched corporate skepticism about technology, through leadership and a willingness to understand the needs and concerns of the executives we deployed the company’s first intranet; moved from mainframe-based e-mail and reporting to PCs and business intelligence; and built not just an awareness of the benefits of technology, but a business model that eagerly embraced technology’s benefits.

If you’d like something a little more specific, my skills and experience include: IT team management, including staff development and mentoring; project management; intranet design; content management systems; IT policy development; Windows server administration (including MS-SQL and IIS);  network planning and administration; technical writing; user support, including script-writing and team management; internal marketing; and business continuity planning. I also co-produced the executive awards show, and did some work behind the microphone as an announcer, too.

Since leaving Macy’s I’ve focused on providing consulting services for not-for-profits, as well as for small and medium businesses. Since the end of 2013, I’ve been providing full time technical writing services for a healthcare-related software company in Maryland. As I said, if you’d like to know more, just ask.

Causes

Recording for Morning EditionI invest my time, money, and thought in support of important causes. I’m particularly interested in free speech, LGBTQ issues, animal care, literacy, voting reform, reproductive rights, social justice, and health care reform, but I could go on for days without running out of groups you should support. In fact, I’m actively looking for work in the not-for-profit sector, to allow me to put my talents to use improving our lives. Wherever I land, though, I try to make the world a better place for the people around me.

What do you believe in?

Contact

Business Objects conference in TexasSo, am I the Marc Kevin Hall you were looking for? If so — or hey, even if not — get in touch with me! I mean, if you read all the way to the end, you are clearly someone I want to know.