Hello Readers, welcome to my new blog series “PowerShell Influencer of the Week“, where I’ll Interview one PowerShell Influencer, Microsoft Awarded MVP or a PowerShell Community Contributor and publish it every week! The format goes something like this… I’d be asking 10 questions total, wherein 7 Questions would be specific to PowerShell and related technologies, the next 3  questions would reflect individualism and personality of the influencer, something which we don’t usually see. I think it would be amazing to see the thought patterns and personalities of these wonderful set of people.

As we move on to publishing these interviews every week, I’m also very open to any suggestions or feedback, like if you can think of some better questions that you want me to ask to, feel free to tweet me @SinghPrateik . I’d love to hear them 🙂 and adapt the format accordingly.

This week I’m so excited to welcome Microsoft MVP ‘Doug Finke’ as our ‘PowerShell Influencer of the Week’.


Doug Charles Finke is a 10 times consecutive Microsoft awarded MVP in ‘Cloud and Datacenter Management’ for Windows PowerShell. Doug is Author of the book Windows PowerShell for Developers and organizer of New York PowerShell User Group where you can find him sharing his knowledge through hands-on demos and presentations. His open source contribution in the PowerShell community is huge, but he is well known for his ‘ImportExcel‘ Module and amazing creative ideas he implements in PowerShell.


Twitter profile: @dfinke
Github profile:
LinkedIn profile:

The Interview

Following are my questions along with Doug’s reply. You may see some inline comments from me in GREEN. Enjoy reading!

  • Why did you start learning PowerShell?

    I blame it all on Jeffrey Snover, the inventor of PowerShell, and Jim Truher. I was surfing the internet one day and came across both of them on a video demoing this new scripting language called Monad. Mr. Snover showed Get-Process | Where {$_.Handles -gt 700} , explained that objects, not text, were being passed over the pipeline, I was hooked and never looked back.

    I had a bit of a UNIX background, knew the power of scripting languages and Monad looked really cool and useful.

  • Do you have any advice for people who don’t think they can speak at a conference?

    They say the thing people fear more than death is public speaking. It’s scary and if you can learn to push through, it’s worth it on many levels. Being able to get up in front of a group of people builds many skills. Thinking on your feet when answering questions, learning poise, and building self-confidence to name a few. Plus, a geek who can speak, is worth more.

    You also learn how to communicate complex ideas, how to break them down, and how to work with a group of people who learn in different ways. This prepares you for meetings, makes it easier to give status updates to your team or managers and their managers.

    Also, preparing a talk, whether five minutes or fifty minutes, you need to figure out the goal of the talk, what you want the audience to walk away with and then lay out the steps and demos to get there. This really takes you on a deep dive of the topic, making you even more of an expert in it. Another benefit, you practice building your writing muscle. This can lead to blog posts, writing articles, and books.

  • Which is your favorite PowerShell Module and why you like it?

    My favorite module, of course, is ‘ImportExcel’. I started it a few years ago as an idea and it’s grown in popularity and has significant capabilities. Being able to collect data from SQL, REST APIs, CSV files, other Excel spreadsheets and more, then pipe that to Export-Excel, and not requiring Excel be installed, is a super time saver. Plus, sending out reports with charts, pivot tables, and other formattings, all made easy with the module, everybody loves the results and are amazed at how quickly it can be done.

    Another great part is when people in the community take the time to fix bugs, or add features to it and send them to the GitHub repo, Also, when people tell me how impressed bosses and co-workers are with the Excel output they generate because the PowerShell helps them build and maintain it. Fantastic!

  • How did you get into speaking at your first PowerShell conference?

    Another lucky turn of events, and my willingness to take a risk.

    I’m a geek, and I’m introverted. I prefer to be coding or doing my hobbies over going to networking opportunities, but you need to go. I was invited to a Microsoft party, figured other geeks would be there, let’s check it out. Well, a group of introverted geeks who don’t know each other can be pretty funny to watch. At one point, I made up my mind to approach someone, introduce myself, ask what brought them to the party and see where it’d go.

    Turned out, this person was coordinating a code camp and asked if I’d be up to come to do a talk on this new thing called PowerShell. I said sure and then immediately started dealing with the anxiety of what I just agreed to, right up to delivering the talk.


  • What were you expecting when you wrote your first blog post?

    When I finally decided to press publish on my first post. It was about my dog and how when I locked my machine Windows Key + L it played a chime, and my dog had learned when I did that, it meant I was going out. When he heard the chime, he’d bolt for the door (he was a 70lb Belgian shepherd). Even if he was “sleeping”, the chime would sound and he was off.

    I didn’t expect much from my first post, and I was worried about pretty much everything.

    I had researched blogging and the consensus was it takes a long time to build a following. You need to publish consistently so folks get accustomed to you putting out content. Plus, people need to be interested in what you publish. So there are a lot of variables in blogging.

    One book I read said, publish about things that get you excited, it does two things. First, it keeps you interested in writing and second, your excitement can transfer to your readers.

    That’s why my first post was about my best pal, my dog, Caleb, and computers. Both of those topics got me excited.

    I got several comments on my first post. That was exciting. It took a while and lots of posts and I increased readership of my blog.

  • How do you keep yourself updated to the latest technology trends and updates?

    I follow industry influencers on Twitter, both in technology and other topics. This brings a lot of things into my Twitter feed. Blogs, articles, other influencers product announcements, conferences where they are speaking, books they read, research they find and what/who influences them.

    Back before the internet, the two places I knew where you could find out what was coming was research out of Universities and the book store. Oh, and Ted, at work. He knew everything about Mainframes, and if he wasn’t in the room, no one had a real clue.

    I would go to the bookstore every weekend and browse the computer books. The internet and social media make that super easy today. I scan my feed multiple times a day, tagging things that look interesting and then when I have time, usually the weekend, I do deeper dives on that “ToDo List”.

  • Can you tell us a little about yourself? like some interesting fact about you, your Hobbies, education etc.

    One of my recent hobbies, in the last few years, was taking up drawing Sacred and Islamic geometric patterns. It started with the book “A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe: Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science“. It only takes four tools, a bow compass (like the one you used in high school geometry), a straightedge, a pencil (color markers optional) and a piece of paper. You call it a straightedge and not a ruler, because you build complex geometric tessellated patterns, with no measuring. Here are a couple of examples of what I’ve drawn:


    I drew both, with the tools described, and no measuring was involved.

    Two other hobbies I’ll mention are, I’m into paper folding, call origami and I knit. Knitting as in scarves, hats, and mittens. I took up knitting after reading the book, “The Artists Way“. When I decided I wanted to start writing and blogging I had lots of concerns which kept me from publishing anything. The two things from the book that helped were, first, journal five minutes a day every day for a month. Writing anything that comes to your mind, even if it repeats for the entire five minutes, even if the only thoughts that happen are, “I can’t do this”. It was super helpful, the exercise is for quieting your inner critic, it worked. The second thing was to take up a 3D hobby, like sculpting or knitting. The idea being is you can let your subconscious work on things while your hands and focus can be engaged in an activity. Doing sculptures was my first choice, but too much mess, so, I chose knitting, took classes and got hooked.

    Origami already fit into this, 3D, working with paper, making models, allowing me to focus while letting my subconscious do its thing.

    [Prateek]: A year and a half ago on Doug’s suggestion on Facebook, I picked up the book: “The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron” and started the habit of daily journaling it really helped me to silent the inner critic and I published my first book, before that I was too doubtful and critical of things I do in public domain.

  • What was the turning point in your career?

    I’m a high school graduate. Worked in construction, as a bank teller for a couple of years, and then worked the midnight to eight shift on Wall Street as a clerk here in New York City for the company that cleared all the stock market transactions for the brokerage firms. I got the wild idea I wanted to be a programmer. Depository Trust Company (DTC), where I was a clerk, told me if I went to New York University and took the Mainframe Assembler and COBOL course, they would consider giving me a job as a programmer. I did, and they came through. For the first few years, they sent me to IBM training every month and tech conferences a few times a year. I was very fortunate and enjoyed the opportunity to learn about software development.

    On the Mainframe, I learned and fully enjoyed working with the IBM CLIST and Rexx scripting languages. At one point I was so good at it, IBM asked me to write a book on using TSO (Time Sharing Option) and CLIST. I tried, but I didn’t think of journaling and knitting to quiet my inner critic. Interestingly by learning these scripting approaches it really prepared me to sit up and take notice when PowerShell came on the scene.

  • What is your favorite failure in life and why?

    Not making it through college. I started out as a pre-med student but had no clue how to manage my schedule and workload. It helped me really enjoy the quote:

    “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education”
    ~ Mark Twain

    I believe in lifelong learning and being flexible, especially in the software industry. I have learned and moved on from many tools over time. Some colleagues still make a living maintaining PERL systems.

    I like experimenting with new ways of doing things, they don’t always pan out, and you can learn new ways of solving problems that you can bring back to the toolset you are currently working with.

    [Prateek]: I really recommend going through Doug’s Github Profile and more than hundred repositories where he experiments his creative ideas in PowerShell. I was lucky enough to come across his code and blogging practices very early. His code so clean, well thought and beautifully written that sometimes it makes me think how can this be implemented so simply. Hence I often find myself following his work, which has helped me on a personal and professional level to be a better programmer. Thanks, Doug!

Thank you so much, Doug, for doing the interview and answering my questions! We as a community appreciate your creative work and consistent knowledge sharing.


Optical Character Recognition
~ Author of “PowerShell Guide to Python”

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