CCIE Lab Success Strategy – with Vivek Tiwari

by Mirek Burnejko

Vivek TiwariToday we talk with Vivek Tiwari (CCIE RS and CCIE Service Provider). Vivek with his colleague Dean Bahizad (also a double CCIE) have just released their new book Your CCIE Lab Success Strategy: The Non-Technical Guidebook.

Vivek and Dean have a few book in their portfolio and work on new ones.

In this interview you will find:

  • Why strategy is so important on Cisco exams
  • What help you with a CCIE lab
  • What is the best, first step to become a networking rockstar

IT Certification Master: Hello Vivek. It’s a big pleasure to have you here. Tell what are you doing and what was you first IT job.

Vivek Tiwari: Hello Mirek that is a very interesting question and the answer will make me look very old (laughing). In my First IT support job I did Desktop support with DOS and installed Arcnet network.

ICM: I know you’re also big fan of certifications tell us about your titles. What was your first certification and what was the last one?

VT: My First formal IT certification was the Novell Certified engineer on Netware 4. The last one I got last summer was my Cisco Datacenter certifications. I do have a CCIE in R&S and Service Provider.

ICM: Why certifications are that important for you? Why you use your free time and a lot of money to achieve them?

VT: I see certifications as an investment into the future. You need to learn and evolve with the newer technologies. Certification is a way to tell the world that you know what you say. Looking from the outside Certification takes a lot of time and money.

Let me break it down into two:

Money: I have seen that I have been able to convince my employer to pay for my certification exam fees and pay for few of the books. The key here is that it is all about the presentation. If you tell your boss that, you are studying and need help in buying 4 books, tell him that you are spending x dollars and only y dollars from him. This shows you are committed and also tells your boss how much of an expense you are asking for. Secondly, you should present certification in such a way that the employer does not feel that you will certify yourself and change/ jump to another company; you should state the benefit to the boss and the your present employer. There are a few ways to get your employer to help you financially and I have written those in my book “Your CCIE lab Success Strategy the non-technical guidebook”.

Time: I agree it takes a lot of time to do certification but if you plan, you can make it less painful and sometime even pain-free for yourself. Using my 2x CCIE certification experience that takes about 12 months to prepare, I have written ways in my book “Your CCIE lab Success Strategy the non-technical guidebook” to make time to study.

ICM: You have one of my favorite certifications: CCIE Routing & Switching. Tell us something about this certification. Has it helped in your career?

VT: CCIE R&S helped me in many ways.

  • Technical: This certification proved to the world that I know the technologies.
  • Job: When you do consulting work a new client does not want to give the responsibility of making a decision that affects them monetarily and organization functionality to anyone who says who can do it. CCIE helps you here. Now people safely let you make million dollar decisions and believe in your architecture proposals.
  • Mentally: CCIE is very challenging certification. It tests your intelligence as well as mental stamina and endurance. That is the reason I call CCIE the Mt. Everest of certifications on my website. Once you achieve this certification believe me you can do a lot more in life. Like I did my second CCIE and now have written book on it and am writing more books.

ICM: You and your friend have few books. The last one: CCIE Lab passing strategy. Why strategy? Is it really important?

VT: Like any big long-term project in life, you need to have a strategy. CCIE is one of them and if you do not have a strategy, your chance of succeeding is much less. Only 1 out of 4 engineers who pass the CCIE written attempt the lab and very few pass it. The best strategy I hear from people is that “Once I book my lab date I will start studying and pass it” This may seem good but it does not work for every engineer as each engineer has its own skill set and learning method.

CCIE is a life changing experience and takes you to the next level so better use our experience and be successful with the strategies that have worked for us twice.

ICM: What can I find in this book?

CCIE LabVT: “Your CCIE lab Success Strategy the non-technical guidebook” tells you how to approach CCIE Lab exam. The book is in a very easy conversational format and each chapter is 3 to 4 pages only. We kept chapters short to that we do not take too much of your time. We give our own personal example. Therefore, this is all-real and tested twice by two different engineers (Dean and Vivek).

You can download a few chapter’s by going to and clicking on download.

ICM: Please give us three the most important things that can help us with a CCIE lab.


  • Think why you want to do your CCIE and write down as many reasons as you can. If you can’t write more than 5 reasons you need to think again.
  • Once you read our book and consider a timeline that is best suited to your style stick to that timeline. Do not change it drastically.
  • There is no shortcut to CCIE. It is like running a marathon. You have to run the full distance many times to practice. No shortcut will prepare you for the real race.

ICM: You have also other books. Tell us something about them and what can I learn from them.

VT: We have another series of books that we call “Learning by Immersing”. As the name suggests these books, immerse you in real world scenarios that have happened to us or our fellow engineers. In my experience, we engineers learn much more from scenarios rather than reading commands from books.

ICM: My readers still ask me a question. Where I should start? You know the industry. What is the best, first step to become a networking rockstar.

The first step is to do your CCNA. The real CCNA not by reading exam dumps. This is the base for your future careers so do not take a shortcut there. A building built on a weak foundation will never stand tall. Learn to use GNS3 it helps you a lot. Use the 100’s of free resources available for CCNA and then take the test. It is absolutely do able.

ICM: Any plans for the future? Will we see new certification in your portfolio and new books? 

VT: New books are on the way in:

  • Your Success Strategy Series
  • Immersing by Learning Series

Few technical books on latest technologies. You can also expect more videos on YouTube under the 2doubleccies channel. As far as Certifications, I am sure I will be doing more as technology evolves.

ICM: Thank you  so much Vivek. Tell us what is the best place to find you.

VT: You can easily contact me or Dean by sending an email to [email protected] We are also on Facebook and LinkedIn.

I wanted to say one last thing and that is if readers feel the need for a book or an e-book on a certain topic please do let us know. On the other hand, if you always wanted to write a book and have written a few chapters we can help you make that a reality also.

CCIE Success

[This is part of the Interviews with IT Pros Series]