Last week on Born to Learn, we published the story of John Deardurff, one of two brothers who set out to get certified, on a dare. This week we hear from Frank Deardurff, the other brother—a “family guy” who became an MCP and later a successful web developer. “Push through the hard stuff, don’t sweat the small stuff, and never give up,” Frank says. Read the story.

As my brother John stated, that night back in 1999 made a huge impact on our professional careers. But I was no stranger to certification testing.

I had been working as a desktop publisher and technical illustrator for a company that was growing. The company needed someone to step up to handle IT and system administration for an out-of-date network. This turned out to be both a blessing and a hindrance, later on, as I started my Microsoft training.

A consultant recommended Novell, so I was sent to learn and get certified in Novell administration. We ran Novell for a short time, only to switch to Microsoft Small Business Server Network. It was after that time that I received the email about the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) Boot Camp.

I talked with my employer about it, but they weren’t interested in sending me, having just spent money on the other certification. I still felt called to check it out.

“The challenge was on.”

As my brother mentioned, it was a big step for us to take that financial risk—I had already started a family and was a father of two girls (12 and 14, at that time). I talked to my wife about what John had planned, and we agreed that, if worked out, that’s what I would do. So the challenge was on.

As for my earlier comment, the fact that working as an IT guy for an evolving network was a hindrance came to light as we moved through the course labs. You see, I had to change my way of thinking—from what I had come to know in a hodgepodge network environment to what our instructor was teaching and what the manuals were showing as the correct way to configure a network.

This was difficult for me, since I was working my day job in a mixed environment and taking evening classes in a straight Microsoft environment. This also was a challenge as I started my testing.

“I was a terrible test taker.”

Unlike my brother, I was a terrible test taker. I tended to overthink things as I read the test questions, heard the ticking of the test clock (knowing I only had so much time to complete the exam), and saw the credit card emblems sitting on top of the testing computer, which I took as a taunt about the test cost.

I did get my Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) certification that summer. Looking back, I can see that the challenge and the mental determination required by the course and the testing actually set me up to succeed at the next level.

Within a year or so after the Boot Camp, I went on to take the next big step and started a network consulting and web development company. With my background in graphic design and with my newfound networking knowledge, I felt it was the right direction for me.

“I still use many of the skills I learned that summer.”

To this day, I still use many of the skills I learned that summer. I handle many web servers—not only for my company’s web-hosting services but also for my customers, who have me monitor their web servers to keep their businesses running smoothly.

I’ve also discovered a passion for branding and marketing psychology. I use this passion to help individuals and small business owners (via my website at take their business online.

I think that a big part of what got me to where I am today is that challenge with my brother, along with the willingness to take a risk, plus good leadership from that Microsoft Boot Camp. As John said, “If two brothers from a small town in Indiana can do it, you can, too.” I think you just have to push through the hard stuff, don’t sweat the small stuff, and never give up.

Read John Deardurff's story on Born to Learn.