Abundance and competition

Compared to a desert, the jungle is filled with a wealth of food. Yet, of the two, jungles seem to have more aggressive animals?

Why is that?

In ecosystems that have the right conditions for life to flourish, populations rise, and competition gets fierce.

This is the same with businesses. Consider two plumbers, one who owns a company in a town of 2,000 people, and the other who owns a company in a dense urban city. It’s likely that the small town plumber, can’t grow his business much, other than the natural growth of the town. However, it’s also that he doesn’t have to defend his business because there isn’t room for competitors. He’s in his desert!

The urban plumber, has potential to have employees, land big contracts, and make a lot of money. However, he faces fierce competition. With room for growth in the market, and new competition starting all the time, he has to make sure his prices are in line, his marketing is good, he retains his employees, etc.

Unlike the animals who are born where they live, and adapted to it, we get to choose which one of these “work styles” we want to be in. Choose wisely.

What a generous engineer isn’t.

  1. A pushover.
  2. A workaholic.
  3. A quitter.

For #1, a generous engineer is helpful, but knows their value.

For #2, a generous engineer knows how to go above and beyond, while still setting boundaries to set a balanced, fulfilling, healthy, happy life.

For #3, a generous engineer doesn’t quit because things get tough. Or because the right don’t respond. Or because they are misunderstood. In some cases of moral crisis, there are reasons to quit, but generally it shouldn’t be about the difficulty of a successful project.

 

The mathematical proof

Make a statement, then follow the logical steps with other already proved mathematical relationships.

The same basic concept applies to comedy, make an observation (the premise), then prove it to be true, and also applies to presentations predicting the future, make a prediction, then show evidence and arguments to back it up.

An unbelievable number of people struggle with mathematical proofs, so it’s not hard to understand comedy and future predictions are hard too.

For those that are good at any one of these 3, it’s likely if you think about it, you can find a way to do the other 2 as well.

Who does that robot know?

My career has amazed me again and again, how the right people being in the room together when an idea happens can significantly change the outcome. I’ve seen plenty of good ideas that just didn’t know where to go, or how to get there. Yet, when the right person was in the room, it just explodes because the right connections are made.

I’ve seen sales reel in a deal because someone was talking about it being competitive to a coworker, who then chimed in that his best friend works at the company and happens to have significant influence.

I’ve seen marketing events find great locations because someone had a relative who worked at not open to the public venues.

Those are only two examples, but the list could go on. And, I’m sure others have seen these types of “coincidences” happen as well.

Yesterday, I wrote about overautomation. Imagine a company with only a CEO as a person, and everything else automated. Can you tell me, “Who do those robots know that can help the company?”

The answer currently, is “No one.”

They don’t have lives.

They don’t have connections.

They only do what they were built to do. Nothing more and nothing less.

Overautomation will no doubt lead to a loss in the magic of the right people finding a way to make an impact on businesses through idea sharing, connections, and partnerships. All of which is an important part of the economy, and possibly the most overlooked.

Overautomation

It’s a real thing.

In the right corners of the internet, you’ll find a lot of fear about automation taking over jobs, and in some aspects they are correct. Automation can do certain tasks better than a human. Faster computations. Higher precision surgical tools. Longer hours.

What automation can’t do better is be flexible and think critically.

Imagine a machine that fills bottles with soda and caps them. All of a sudden, you need that machine to fill 5 gallon jugs. It probably requires a change of line equipment. Adjustments to height, fill times, feed rates. There is a setup cost to the shift. A human that was filling bottles may have been slower, but at the switch from bottles to large containers, it’s almost instantaneous by comparison.

People are amazingly complex machines. Versatile beyond belief. Easily able to expand other auxiliary devices such as tools, computers, software, and even other machinery.

Be flexible, and opportunity will always be found, at least until the robot overlords show up!

 

 

The Gap in the Engineering Solutions Industry

There is a gap in the engineering solutions industry.

  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Scanners
  • 3D Printers
  • CAD/CAM tools
  • Design Automation

All of these things have a symbiotic relationship and can help deliver a design and customer experience that are unparalleled. Yet, there are almost no companies that sell a “solution” to large companies showing them the way. There are companies that sell “solutions” to large companies within each of the categories listed above, but not many companies selling, all of these together into a “solution” unless it’s at a smaller, more local level. That’s because all of these tend to use a local reseller system, with a corporate accounts team handling the companies that exist across multiple territories.

There is an opportunity in this space.

Connection is a task that requires no credential.

Yet, it’s the task most of us fail to engage in.

You don’t need a credential to assist. To help your coworker meet his deadline. To track down a piece of information someone needs.

You don’t need a credential to lend a vision to a person struggling in a changing world. To help someone see a new inspiration. To make someone feel better.

You don’t need a credential to help spread a message. To introduce like-minded people. To point people where they need to go.

What you need is empathy, and understanding that connection is hard. Everyone wants some help, so start by offering what you can.

P.S. If you read this, and agree. It’s hard to find new people to share ideas with, so if you could point them to this blog, it would be a great help. If I can help you in anyway, let me know too. noneofthisisright@gmail.com.

 

It’s easy to get sucked into the task.

Even the tasks we give ourselves. The question is, “Do I really need to be doing this?”

Imagine you’re moving to a new house. You rent a truck. Pack your stuff in boxes, load them in the truck, drive to the new place, then unload.

Except in this unusual case, the house you moved to was right next door to the house you lived in previously!

Renting the truck, loading it in, and driving the truck over, was actually more work than just carrying the boxes directly over.

Our work, the important stuff anyways, is always unusual. As a result, part of the routine should be assessing what you’re doing and how it’s getting you where you want to go. Take plenty of time to assess, breathe, and decide what’s the most important task to be done before embarking on it.

Outcomes matter more than tasks. If you’re only moving next door, skip the truck no matter what the typical moving checklist says.

AI, the job killer.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is creating quite a reputation as something that should be feared, something that is going to take over all the jobs in the world. In the long-term, that will be something science and society has to figure out. In the short-term, it’s one of the technologies that’s actually going to free people to do the work of their lives.

Not a job.

Serving customers.

Their OWN customers.

The future will fracture with more products than ever, produced with groups of people in mind, rather than the masses. The people who decided what each of these “niches” are for these products are the ones who will create jobs for themselves. Forever.

Technology is enabling small business like never before. In fact, it was that last century that aggregated and grew big, global business as we know it today, then at some point the internet connected us all in a new way, enabling a new channel of connecting to customers. The immediate industries that changed are the ones who’s only competitive advantage was owning the advertising.

Big breweries are a great example.

There is a lot to fear. There is also a lot to embrace. It may be the “job killer” but it could also be the “career enabler”.

Passion and mediocre work.

Most of the work is going to be mediocre. Some will be bad.

I’m so good, 95% of my work is above my average!

There are 3 options for a statement like that:

  1. A few pieces that are so catastrophically bad they drag the average way lower than the median.
  2. Donald Trump said it.
  3. Or it’s false.

Sure, it’s possible that mediocre work by one person could be better than great work by someone else, it depends on skill level, but if you’re trying to make an impact, the highest quality is going to be needed, that’s only going to happen by skilled individuals, so even for them, the vast majority of their work is going to fall far short of their greatest works.

A real problem is most people think of work in terms of passion. Yet, the definition of passion is a strong or uncontrollable emotion. Can you imagine if all our work was done in “moments of passion.”

You know that phrase.

It always pops up in murder shows when a jealous lover kills their partner! The prosecutor in the show paints the picture:

He came home. Found her and the mailman, and in a “moment of passion…”

Well, you know what happened next.

The point is, if always in a state of passion, nothing would ever get done! Uncontrollable laughter is passion. Rage is passion. Crippling fear is passion. None of those are conducive with working unless you’re a comedian, an MMA fighter, or Woody Allen.

Passion is good, it’s just a short term inspiration, not a long-term fuel.

Choosing the right work

Going above and beyond is difficult, especially doing tasks no one told you to do. On the surface, it seems easy. Just follow your whims. If only it was that simple.

When someone assigns a task at work, just complete it to the best of your ability. When deciding on the work yourself, “What should I be working on?” runs through the mind constantly. Considering the work is “extracurricular” this premise sounds ridiculous, but consider how many people “Don’t know what they want to do.” or “Want to find their passion.” On some level, those are the same issues.

I’ve written over 70 blogs for noneofthisisright.com, and I still don’t know if I’m saying what I want to. There is a lot for me to relay, but it’s not always coming out. It’s not always clear what topic I should go deeper on and it’s not a question I can ask anyone. They don’t know the sum of the knowledge and experience contained in my brain.

The work itself shows the way. It generates more ideas. It’s the closest thing to a perpetual motion machine that will ever exist!

Grab the idea that’s the best at the moment, work on it. Let it lead you to the next great idea. If you never find a better idea, congratulations for finding something so powerful and elusive to most people.

 

 

 

Stealing is subtractive

The punishment of the perpetrator doesn’t make the victim whole. There is always a net loss. This doesn’t just apply to theft of physical items or money. It can also be taking someone’s time and attention.

Now consider generosity. The act of being generous itself produces something. A story. Advice. Goodwill. Even products.

A common generous act is a large tip for good service. With extra cash, the server can treat themselves, or turn around and also be generous with someone else. A nice gift. A donation. Helping a friend through a rough time. The generosity can be passed down multiple times over at times.

Or consider a story, posted for free on the web, that entertains and enlightens. In a better mood, we take better care of our loved ones, who also end up in a better mood. That initial story was generous, creating a cycle of happiness.

Or consider advice, it can increase the value of the knowledge the recipient already has. It’s possible an engineer knows how to run a certain design software, and some quick tips may help run it even quicker, allowing more work to be done in less time. This may mean showing up more often for dinner with the family at 5, leading to more relaxation in the evening, and more productivity in subsequent days. A generous cycle of productivity.

By being generous, value is created, even if it can’t be quantified. More than that, generosity tends to start cycles, though if they continue is usually based on the recipient.

 

 

Marketing in a fractured world.

Every Instagram account. Every YouTube creator. Every Blog.

Adding it all up, there are now billions of marketing channels in the world.

At one point around 1950 there were 4 nationally broadcast television stations, and some radio stations. By 1985, the channels were just shy of 20. Today, there is over 100. Consider, that even back when there were only 4 tv channels, there were still marketing companies that existed to help companies reach their audience.

In the future, jobs will exist doing nothing more than maintaining the knowledge of the channels based on the niche being sought. Want to reach mechanical engineers with a sense of humor? There’s some channels for that. Want to reach electrical engineers in Florida? There is a channel for that. Want to reach spouses of engineers? I’m not sure how that can be done, but someone could create a podcast called, How to be married to an engineer.

There’s billions of channels out there. Knowing what they are, and where the overlaps are is sure to be a new way to add value in an increasingly noisy world.

Moving forward through uncertainty

There are ideas that don’t have the clearly arranged data needed to make a decision on value. For these types of projects, the only way to move forward is to talk to those who are in the industry. Make statements, get corrected, ask questions, explore.

So many people want to sit in their own comfortable space, working in solitude until a solution comes together.

The world is a collaboration. It’s interconnected, it’s not just the sum of great ideas, it’s the sum of an innumerable number of connections through the ages.

There is no way to know if time is being wasted, chasing a rabbit hole that has no end, but certainly there is an opportunity to connect and learn while doing so, that’s never a waste.

Higher up the supply chain…

are businesses that are more likely to work.

Consider the real estate mogul on a busy boulevard renting to restaurants. Whether those restaurants have good quality, or keep up with industry trends, he still gets paid. Likely when one goes out of business, there is another waiting to move in. The risk is much lower.

However, owning that building requires more capital. It requires even more capital to be Sysco, supplying the food to all restaurants. It requires trucks, equipment, a supply chain, logistics tracking software, order management software, etc.

At the bottom of the supply chain, we have experience requirements rather than capital. That’s not experience in the form age or time, it’s experience in the form of an event. It’s creativity. It’s the ability to wow.

For a restaurant to succeed, it needs to make food that people want to put on instagram. It needs to be a place that sticks in everyone’s mind to bring their friends. To go for their birthdays. To be remarkable.

At the top of the supply chain, money is made by processes and capital investment, further down, remarkability is all that matters.

If you’re an artist, you’re only goal is to be remarkable. That’s not easy, but it’s the work that needs to be done.

The Halftime Show

The Super Bowl was over a month ago, and it wasn’t a memorable one. Neither was the halftime show.  The halftime show is the best example of bad marketing I can think of. I haven’t talked to many people about Super Bowl halftime shows in recent years, nor had a conversation that stemmed from one that led me to check out new music.

First, understand that the NFL doesn’t pay the artists to perform anymore, so with that being said, the halftime shows is a marketing attempt with an expected ROI.

The most recent halftime shows all have a number of guest collaborators, and never seem to finish a song, only playing part of each.

The thought process is likely, “I have the attention of 100,000,000 people, let’s try to show them as much as possible, getting as much interest as possible. We’ll also have a little something for everybody.”

On the surface it’s good strategy, except, there isn’t enough of any of the elements to make me interested, or a bigger fan. The better strategy would be to take 3 or less great songs, and create a newer, more generous version of them that exudes the spirit of the band. Expand the story or feeling of the song to a level that isn’t possible in other venues. Now that may involve collaborators that bring a new dynamic, technology that wasn’t previously included at shows, venue specific elements, and other generous ideas.

Instead, the artists seem to flip through 5-6 songs in 12 minutes with tons of people coming on and off stage, with nothing sticking in mind of anyone watching.

Social marketing today is about remarkability, someone texting another person to say, “Can you believe this?!” Or a conversation started the next day at work. Or every show on YouTube commenting about the performance because it was amazing and noteworthy, not because they were paid to. Expanding 1 or 2 songs to 12 minutes with over the top theatrics, choreography, robotics, pyro, water effects, and generous creativity is the way to do it. No one cares about 30 seconds of a radio hit from 10 years ago.

Don’t remind people they like you, make them like you.

The advice of tweeting 15 times a day.

Social media research was done, it says it’s 15 tweets is the optimal amount to get your work noticed. However, I would guess it’s more than what most people do today.

If everyone who didn’t tweet 15 times a day started to, what would happen to this stat?

It would change. 15 would no longer be the optimum. The number would rise.

This is the cycle of data feedback. Data should be treated with some skepticism because the decisions made from it will change the data in the future.

The tension in a good movie…

doesn’t disappear because you’ve seen it. At least not if it’s real tension, rather suspense. That inevitable collision of people and events, it’s happening whether you see it coming or not.

The changes taking place in your industry are happening too. Their not going to stop simply because they’re observable. AI, 3D Printing, Automation, these are all forces shaping the world today. If companies aren’t adapting to the technologies and the changing market forces, they’re going to get crushed by something everyone saw coming, but no one could stop.

Unlike the movie, we don’t have to stick the script. We can change it anytime we like. Just find the right people to see what’s coming.

Those that can’t do, teach.

Everyone assumes the inability in that saying comes from ineptitude.

A less popular possibility is there is too much change to make in the world, so teaching others is the path to bigger impact.

That’s the same mechanism of how a job is created, an owner, or shareholder, or manager, or executive with too much to do, seeks to teach an employee how to do the tasks he wants to offload. Repeat that enough times down the line and that is a company.

Of course, some owners, shareholders, managers, and executives are better teachers than others, but nonetheless teaching is making an impact. A bigger impact.

 

Unit cost of experiences

The arc of conveying experiences through the ages has been:

  • Spoken Stories
  • Written words
  • Pictures
  • Museums
  • Videos

If a picture is worth a 1000 words and a video is 1000’s of pictures, the pattern of history is the density of experience being shared is increasing.

As technology continued to evolve, each of these mediums continued to fall in unit cost of delivery. Today, spoken stories can be recorded and broadcast to millions of people for a few dollars a month, or even free. For contrast, in centuries past, spreading a story would require a man traveling to different communities sharing his story, then hoping others would repeat it.

In today’s world there is new technology for shared experiences, Virtual Reality (VR)/ Augmented Reality (AR)/ Extended Reality (XR). A museum may be the best way to learn about a particular piece of history, and with these technologies it will be possible to bring museums to where people are, rather than having to bring people to the museum, again lowering the unit cost of the museum experience.

The falling unit cost doesn’t happen instantaneously. The cost of making video cameras fell over decades. The cost of the internet and data storage have continued to fall over the last 20 years as development of ever faster connections, processors, and larger storage space in a denser area becomes possible. There are some of the technologies that need to evolve in order to deliver new Virtual Reality (VR)/Augmented Reality (AR)/ Extended Reality (XR), I’m going to discuss one opportunity that I see below.

In order to deliver a Museum or similar experience to someone through VR/AR/XR it will be necessary to build the model of the real equivalent. To do so, there are two options, modeling the entire Museum in software from scratch, or using 3D scanners to build capture a digital copy of the place. The challenge with the former is the length of time it would take to model likely complex shapes and items and the high cost associated with that. Additionally, recreating realistic textures and colors will be difficult. While if enough people still wanted the experience delivered it could be cost justifiable, it would likely be inefficient.

The second option of scanning is lacking in modern day technology. Here’s what’s missing: A 3D scanner, that can capture large spaces or objects, and also has a camera capability that captures the textures of objects as it is scanned and applies the surface appearance to the 3D geometry that is being captured. This would create a truly realistic digital copy that could be used to craft an experience with a lower unit cost.

Either way, there is a new option for experience, and I believe AR is what will be a powerful tool for continuing to lower the unit cost of experience.

 

CAD and the Cloud

Cloud based software has become a focus as many companies prefer the SaaS (Software as a Service) model. The model comes with steady revenues and data control by the provider (harder to switch), but what is the value to the customer?

  • automatic updates
  • disaster recovery
  • lower up-front capital costs
  • bandwidth flexibility
  • increased collaboration
  • increased security

Those points are debatable for any organization. If shifting an existing software to a cloud version without evaluating new possibilities the cloud provides, then adoption is likely to be less than stellar.Here are features the cloud can provide that regular software can’t:

  1. Insight from shared data
  2. Increased functionality that isn’t possible on basic hardware

Before further discussion, let’s look at an example.


Let’s start with the idea of a voice-activated, artificial intelligence CAD tool.

Imagine a group of people in a room planning out a new product, a pair of garden shears. There is an industrial designer named Dieter Rams, an engineer named Nikola Tesla, and a marketer named Mark Eter.

The meeting starts with Mark, laying out the goals and information based on market research:

Mark Eter

“The price point is $25, it has to be able to withstand 100 lb of grip pressure and a drop from 12′ high. They will be sold to Home Depot, and will have to sit along those 4 pictured garden shears I emailed yesterday. Let’s hear some ideas”

Dieter Rams

“I have a concept in mind.”

The CAD tool creates a new folder, and starts a file named “Concept 1”.

Dieter starts sketching out a concept on his touch screen laptop in his CAD tool. While sketching, Dieter proclaims,

Dieter Rams

“Good design must make a tool useful, so these shears need to help someone be better at trimming their plants. I’m picturing a measuring tape that pulls out of one of the handles, so that people who want to keep their plants trimmed at specific lengths can quickly measure, then cut. This will require making the bottom handle much bigger and bulkier than the top, but I think it will still look good.”

As he finishes his comment, he has free formed sketched the basic parts and shares it with everybody.

Mechanical Engineer

The engineer shares his thoughts,

“I don’t think this concept will be easy to manufacture. While the design makes the bottom bulkier, it doesn’t provide enough room for a round spool of measuring tape due to the wall thickness that will be necessary. Let’s start a second concept by starting with a copy of this.”

The software picks up his words, makes a file called “Concept #2” and includes the same sketch.

Mechanical Engineer

He points to the bottom leg, and the sketch and says,

“Can we erase that portion on bottom, and redraw a more circular bump?”

Dieter does so in response. The design now works more functionally, but doesn’t look great any more.

Mark Eter

“I’m concerned.”

Mechanical Engineer

“It will fit our price point.”

Dieter Rams

“But it’s ugly. No one will want it.”

Mechanical Engineer

“Perhaps we’re thinking in shapes that lend themselves better to injection molding, let’s think about handle shapes that can be extruded.”

Mark Eter

“That may be great from an aesthetic view too, because the competitors all have a similar look. This will differentiate us.”

Dieter Rams

“Alright, let’s start concept #3.”

Hearing this, the software, creates a new file named “Concept #3”

Dieter Rams

“Let’s start with the main leg sketches from Concept #1”

The software copies these from Concept #1 to Concept #3.

Dieter Rams

“Now let’s extrude them to a depth of 1/2”, says Dieter.

The software picks up on that and extrudes them to the proper depth. The design is taking shape.

Mechanical Engineer

“What if we had holes or squares removed from those extruded handles for weight and material savings?”

The software creates a hole pattern in the handle as a starting point and creates holes in concept #3 and square cuts in a new concept #4.

Mark Eter

“How do we think we’re doing with all the concepts? Can we look at them all at once?”

The software responds by throwing up a split screen of the 4 concepts that are being worked on.


Let’s break from our example for the moment. The above scenario is only some of the capability that would be possibly by combining AI with CAD.

Since people have different voices, or choose different words for commands, shared data collection allows for the software to learn and adapt using AI algorithms, along with some human interpretation where things fall short. The net benefit is that the software continues to improve and adapt for customers as a result of the shared information that wouldn’t be possible on the proper scale without the cloud.

To pull off this type of software, quick, powerful processing must happen, and that is enabled through infrastructure and equipment that wouldn’t be worth the cost of replicating at each customer facility making it ideal for the cloud.

For the last 6 years, I’ve heard how cloud computing is the future of CAD from the software producers. Based on hundreds of customer conversations I’ve had, 250 last year alone, the customer base isn’t convinced if all they get is the same functionality, with less administration.

It’s time to provide something new, and that something is CAD powered with AI.

Value Proposition for End User

  • Software behaves as an additional worker and increases efficiency
  • Keeps files managed automatically
  • Allows direct interaction from the customer without knowledge of software
  • Allows the user to focus on the concept rather than the clicks

Value Proposition for Developer

  • Removes end user need to be familiar with the tool due to natural language operation (easier adoption/switching tools)
  • Allows better understanding of customer usage and desired features based on recorded commands
  • Remarkable functionality worth users sharing (marketing)
  • Customers that switch CAD tools for this functionality can have a multiplier effect if their supply chain also switches

Competitive Advantage

  • Hard to replicate quickly due to complexity, 1st mover will be ahead of market.
  • First person to get users benefits from AI learning ahead of other companies and as a result, making it hard for competitors to catch up.
  • Catches people attention as a new revolution and lends itself to social sharing (network effect).

How to develop this idea further

This idea has different value and implementation depending on the company that wants to investigate the opportunity and its impact on their product portfolio further. I’ve done a lot of thinking about the topic and want to explore the idea deeper together, I believe for any major CAD company, it could mean a growth of 10+% in the bottom line going forward due to increased product sales, capturing competitive accounts seeking the functionality, and shifting customers to the cloud.

I would like to work with you to develop a project and implementation plan. Contact me at noneofthisisright@gmail.com to start the conversation and schedule a time to talk.

-Brandon Donnelly

Spreading an idea

“We can’t put this content out publicly. Our competitors will copy it. What if they beat us with our own investment?” says the fearful marketing director.

“Let me tell a story” the new, upbeat salesman said.

“Once upon a time, in an effort to start closing more deals against the competition, I wrote an essay, it told some harsh truths about them. They lie. They don’t deliver what they say they will. It had testimonials from customers they scammed backing up my claims” the salesman said in an exasperated tone before continuing in a more tranquil tone.

“I put this essay out into the world. One day, months later, I was at a tradeshow, and someone from that competition found me and confronted me. They showed me the essay on their laptop, and angrily said, ‘WTH is this?!'”

“The truth.” the salesman responded.

“They pummeled me with their laptop. Talk about the competition beating someone!” he exclaimed.

“They further went on to leave comments everywhere online, refuting the truth, saying it was all fabricated, even though it wasn’t. Customers on both sides believed what they wanted, and I didn’t get anything out of the essay.”

“If I had tried to keep it quite, and share in one-on-one environments, it wouldn’t provide much value because the amount of people it relates to is enormous, and the overlap with our meetings, mostly current customers, is much smaller.”

“In the end, what’s the most powerful thing I could do?”

The silence in the room rings deep, so the salesman continues,”Focus on creating content the competition agrees with. Content they also promote to start to change the industry. As we all create information that changes the culture, we all win. No one has to make value judgments on credibility between the two companies.”

This is a made up story, but it illustrates a truth. Concerning yourself with someone stealing your content is a sure way to lower the value of ideas being shared. Focus on something truthful and compelling enough it can’t be ignored by anyone, even the competition. Then they’ll spread it, and back up your idea. You may not gain some of the competition’s market share, but you may grow the market, which provides more opportunity for everyone.

20 years from now

20 years is enough time to accomplish anything. A presidential bid. Creating a multi-billion dollar business. Writing a book, or a series even. Building fitness from couch potato to superman.

Most of these things don’t actually require 20 years. The problem is from the perspective of younger audiences, comprehending that even 5 years isn’t a long-time is a tough task.

5 years is nothing.

Most people waste 5 years thinking about what they would like to do. Some waste their lives thinking about it.

Instead of being paralyzed, one thing that can pay off is a network. For an exercise, take the amount of networking done last year, and multiply it by 20. What’s your network look like? How many people know you? What are your career options? How many consultants can help you with expertise? Having these options when the time comes to invest in your dreams and ideas is a great opportunity.

If your current efforts times 20 don’t create something significant, your efforts aren’t enough. Make a new plan, and put in the effort.

 

The 10X Engineer

In software engineering, and Silicon Valley culture, there are mythical figures, known as the 10X (Ten-ex) Engineers. Basically, it’s engineers that produce ten times the amount of working code as other engineers. The thing is, that kind of next-level efficiency compared to colleagues can only comes from working smarter, there isn’t 80 hours in a day after all.

This type of great performance isn’t limited to software engineering. In any branch of engineering, or even other creative endeavors, the right person with experience and a knack for a certain type of thinking can often solve problems in a fraction of the time taken by the less experienced.

The unfortunate problem is that most projects all contain many different aspects, so much so, that it’s likely that some part of it will be inefficient, even if a 10X engineer is on it. So what is a 10X engineer to do to keep their reputation?

Network.

For every struggle in your purview, there is someone who can solve it 10 times faster. When I was a consultant, people would call me with structural analysis problems they had been struggling with for hours, even days, and often they would be back on track in 15 minutes. It’s not possible to have that kind of efficiency with every topic, so to be an effective engineer, it’s necessary to go beyond technical ability and build a network.

The world is a big place, there is endless knowledge about manufacturing, software, physics, mathematics, etc. While it is possible to be a 10X engineer in a shallow base of knowledge, it isn’t possible to be a 10X engineer in a broad one.  An example would be, it’s possible to be a 10X engineer in software, however, it’s not possible to be a 10X engineer in building a space shuttle, though, it’s not like there is one guy doing that alone anyway, but the point is individuals are often tasked with scopes beyond their core knowledge base. When approaching those pieces outside the core competencies, that’s when having a network is the key to maintaining efficiency through this. Whether it’s people to bounce ideas off, or to get some consulting work done.

The trick is building the network before needing it, that way when the project crosses your desk, the people who need to be contacted are clearly in mind.

Building a network is like planting a tree, the best time to do it was 10 years ago, the second best time is now.

 

The internet empowered introverts

The right connections use to matter more than they do today, though they still have value. However, when people have a problem today, they almost universally go to the same place…

Google!

This is an opportunity for those who are less inclined to take an active role in reaching out to the people they want to help. It’s an opportunity because writing and developing a location that shows the work that you do, and how you can help, will bring the right work to you if done with quality and consistency.

What work do you want to do?

How to get a grip on a big project

Before I started writing this blog, I had an idea about writing a book. I had no idea how to estimate the kind of time and effort it would take me to do so. However, a month into my blog, and I had a word count barely below 10,000 words. I know roughly the amount of time it took me to write those posts based on how much time I spend in the evening doing so.

I also know that the average book in the publishing space I would be writing for contains roughly 50,000 words. With some basic multiplication I can figure out how much time it would take to put those words on a page. I can then factor in an estimate of the project time that would be required for editing, book design, and publishing.

Bingo. Bango. Bongo.

I now have a “business” plan if I decide to pursue writing a book. I can estimate how much effort it would be, and the likely effort of marketing it, associated costs, and lifetime value to determine if it’s worth the effort.

This post isn’t about just book writing. It’s similar with any big idea that’s bouncing around in your head. Without putting in some smaller efforts, getting the metrics needed to decide if it’s worth it, isn’t going to happen. However, with a relatively small amount of work, the view becomes much more clear.

The small tasks lead to the big picture, just get started.

Everyone is looking for something interesting

  • Billy Mays was looking for an interesting product to pitch, he found OxiClean.
  • The lawyer is looking for a interesting case that he can brag about for decades.
  • The engineer is looking for interesting ideas to work on.
  • The venture capitalist is looking for interesting projects and businesses to put money into.

If you pay attention, perhaps you can deliver something interesting to someone who’s looking for it.

 

Non-verbal communication

In a communication class in college, I learned only 7% of of communication is the words chosen. That makes communicating with the right amount of confidence extremely important. For engineers, trained to rely on calculations for proof rather than intuition, it doesn’t come natural. However, if the research was thorough, the calculations are done, and testing will be done appropriately, report to the client or executives while being relaxed, smiling, and looking them in the eye.

You know what you’re doing. You’ve got this.

Will AI kill companies that adopt it?

Let’s make the following assumption for a moment:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will kill all jobs it’s designed to help.

In a hypothetical future, an AI designed to replace engineers, for a company, succeeds and leaves all engineers at that company unemployed.

Does the general population believe that’s how things will go down?

Imagine a company that has 1,000 engineers, and develops an AI system to replace them, putting them all out of work. Some will find jobs at companies that haven’t adopted AI, but I’ve been to a number of businesses that were started as a result of layoffs. Employees that became competitors to the company that let them go.

It’s likely that a company adopting too much AI to replace key employees may put itself out of business. Even if AI does better at its job than the engineers that were laid off, businesses still have finite resources. There are only so many product models, marketing angles, and connections that a business can put resources into. By creating any number of new competitors, a business is increasing the odds that someone else will find the right combination that puts the hurt on them.

For all the hype that AI tools receive, they should be seen as augmentations to existing business. If in the future, the tools reach a point of actually replacing skilled employees entirely, the decision to do so needs to be considered more than surface deep, if it’s not, the only artificial intelligence will be that of the executive, thinking he’s making smart decisions.