Rich Yumul: Website Therapy



Joanie has a conversation with Rich Yumul, a web designer and CEO of Sage Tree Solutions.  Rich calls himself a “website therapist” because he helps clients have better relationships with their websites.

Highlights:

Q: How did you come to start your own company?

“I started out being a freelancing contractor.  I got so much work, I started adding people.  That’s when it started to become a full-fledged company.”

Q: How do you find a customer like Comicon?

“They actually found us.  They were looking for somebody who could help them with a Drupal website.  That’s our specialty.”

Q: What’s a website therapist and how can people have a better relationship with their website?

“Often when we deal with clients, they’re in a state of distress.  Their budget has gone way over budget or time.  There are three things to have a good relationship with your website.”  Listen to the episode to learn more.

Q: How do you help clients decide what they want?

“I had to learn to translate…  Don’t assume because you’re using the same terms, you’re right.  The client’s paying the bills.”

Q: How do you bring empathy in to dealing with clients’ distress?

“I invested some time in learning about business.  Usually the people we deal with are business directors or marketing people.  Understanding business helped me understand how business problems create distress for them.  I help them get to a better place.”

Q: What kinds of problems come up in working with the engineers at work?

“One thing that served me very well was to learn to not take things personally.  When people are stressed out, they may be heated.  Have the awareness if you’re starting to feel triggered, to take a step back and really try to listen to the message.”

Words of Wisdom:

“Be open to being educated.”

“Be a vocabulary detective.”

“Email is the worst way to communicate because so much can be read into the words of the message.”

Shout Outs:

San Diego STEM Ecosystem: sdstemecosystem.org

Toys for Joy: toys-for-joy.org

Contact Rich:

Email: rich@sagetree.com

Website: https://www.sagetree.com/


Kevin Ehlinger-Wilde: Communicating Innovation



Joanie interviews Kevin Ehlinger-Wilde, a nationally award-winning creative entrepreneur, speaker, and innovation trainer who has worked with over 500 executives and companies across the country.  He’s an expert on the TIPS personality profiling tool and he has offered our nerd community a special offer.

Get a free overview of all of the TIPS profiles: www.wildespark.com/reinventing-nerds.

The first 20 people who visit will get a free TIPS assessment!

Highlights:

Q: Kevin, you’ve worked with numerous executives.  What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in working with them?

“People in the Sales Department tend to be more on the creative side. The IT people tend to be more systems oriented.  You’re dealing with a lot of different people who want information in different ways.”

Q: How do you know what your audience is?

“Sometimes it’s based on the skills they already have.  Sometimes it’s based on key indicators, like if their eyes are glazing over.”

Q: Tell us about TIPS.

“It’s a profile system, like Myers-Briggs on steroids…  As we go through TIPS, we learn how people like to be presented with things.”

“For example, with the Thinking Style, some people are very figure oriented.  They like facts and numbers.  Others are very fantasy oriented.  A lot of systems people are figure oriented.  A lot of entrepreneurs and people in Marketing are in the fantasy world.”

Q: How do you make it so people aren’t at each other’s throats?

“That’s management–how do you put together teams that can function at a high level?  The idea of using tools like TIPS is so people can understand where everybody can help, where everybody can work, and then what’s the best way to put together teams.”

Q: How do you put together innovative teams?

“Let’s talk about innovation styles.  Some people are very innovative or they are adaptive.  The adaptive people look at small, incremental changes, like adding wheels to a chair.  The innovative people will ask whether we need a chair at all.”

Q: How do you avoid feeling pigeon holed?

“We all have strengths and weaknesses.  It’s not a matter of being pigeon holed.  We all have value in everything we do.  Theorists develop ideas.  Entrepreneurs build businesses.  Systems people organize.  Innovation is messy and chaotic.  The most successful companies have figured out how to systematize, keep doing what we do really well, then branch out.  We all have a role.  We all play a critical role in the company in every stage.”

Words of Wisdom:

“Change can be really tough for a lot of people.  The more you’re open to change, the more you’re open to new ideas of how things can be done.”

“We’re all born 100% creative but we’re taught to conform.”

Contact Kevin:

Website: www.wildespark.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevinehlinger/


Elisa Yu: Start-Up People Skills



Joanie interviews Elisa Yu, a business coach who started out as a biochemical engineer.  Elisa talks about the people challenges she’s faced in running a startup company and being a business coach and what skills she has developed to succeed in these different roles.  She also gives tips for leaders from her business coaching practice.

Highlights:

Q: How did you come to move out of biochemistry?

“I did some soul searching and realized I was not interacting with people as much as I would like to.  I saw that ‘Field Application Scientist’ seemed like a good sidestep to make that happen.”

Q: What people challenges did you run into moving to a startup?

“There are two main people challenges.  One is dealing with the founders.  The second is dealing with employees.”

“The main challenge was we all have different personalities and we look at things differently.  Throughout the process, we built a level of trust.  We could have arguments.  We could have disagreements.  But we knew we were working to the same goal and we were not going to screw each other.”

“Retention of people is a huge challenge for us.  What we realized over the years was to deal with our mindset before dealing with employees.”

Q: When you hire people with good people skills, what do you look for?

“When we hire people, we hire for good fit.  Just by hiring the smartest person might not be the best for the team.  Sometimes you have a team of very smart people but it’s a very dysfunctional team.  Because everyone’s personality clashes, they don’t have a unified vision.  It may not be the best for the team to have everyone fit into one mold.”

Words of Wisdom:

“When someone in Silicon Valley calls you to join a startup, it’s not something you say ‘no’ to.”

“You learn on the way when to insist and when to give in.”

“When you say you cannot, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Contact Elisa:

Email: Elisa@actioncoachsc.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elisa-yu-mba-9032001/


Brian Dersch: Engineering Good Customer Relationships



Joanie interviews Brian Dersch, the president and CEO of Dersch Design & Engineering.  Their mission is to design power and lighting systems for construction projects with an emphasis on renewable energy, customer service, and employing engineers that you can hold a conversation with. Brian is no exception!

We start out a little bit differently in this episode because Brian is able to articulate how his keen awareness of what was going on around him led to his career and business and success—a great lesson for all nerds!  He also shares insights into how he developed his people skills, manages virtual teams,

Highlights:

Q: How did you get into your field of business?

“I noticed there weren’t a lot of people going into large-scale power engineering.  I thought, ‘There’s a gap here and ten years from now, someone could end up inheriting it.’”

Q: How did you come to start up your own company?

“I got married and my wife had a dream of becoming a travelling nurse.  She said, ‘You can either stay in San Diego and work or come with me.’  So, I quit my job…”

Q: How did you come to create a company where engineers can have conversations with customers?

“I am an engineer first, and a business person second.  Positioning the business for success, that was learned from trial and error.”

Q: How did you develop your people skills?

“I thought I was shy in high school.  I joined the speech team and theater and I broke out of my shell.”

“One of the skills I developed was public speaking skills.  I needed more architects.  I put together an educational presentation for architects to connect with them.”

Q: How do you connect with people?

“In networking events, I’m often the youngest person there.  It can be very intimidating to show up in a room where everyone is in suits and have grey hair…  All it takes is finding out what someone’s interests are.”

Words of Wisdom:

“In the small business atmosphere, there are no limits.”

“The more I practice, the luckier I get.” –Arnold Palmer

“Tell them the time, not how the clock was made.”

“You can’t beat face-to-face interaction.”

Contact Brian:

Email: brian@derschdesign.com

Website: derschdesign.com

Phone: 858-768-0867


Etienne de Bruin: The CTO’s People Challenges



Joanie interviews Etienne de Bruin, CEO of 7CTOs, a company that offers forums of peer groups of CTOs who follow a curriculum to pursue and inspire innovative thinking.  Etienne shares the typical people challenges CTO’s run into, as well as his own.  He also asks Joanie about hers!

Highlights:

Q: What kinds of challenges do CTOs run into?

“When you start going into a leadership role, especially CTO land, your problem starts to shift to a people problem.”

Q: How did you pivot when you moved into the role of a CTO?

“I had a few moments when I realized I was missing the plot.”

“A transformation for me was when I personally went from seeing my employees on my team as extensions of me.  I had to flip that and see them as creative beings that had their own ways of how they wanted to do things.”

“I always thought I was creating a collaborative environment, but I wasn’t.  At one point, I almost had a mutiny on my hands.”

Q: What kinds of things come up in your CTO forums?

“When you strike this beautiful balance between mutual trust and vulnerability, then you see tech geniuses open up at levels that are really amazing.”

“Being able to have your friends that you connect with is rare.  To get to that level where you can really share and have people give you actionable advice or help takes really hard work.  It’s an investment.”

Q: How does technology factor in to your forum format?

“In-person meetings are crucial to us because we think that the nuances, the unspoken gestures, all those things contribute to the larger conversation.  It does impact the way people share, to have a physical manifestation that your voice has an equal place at the table.”

Words of Wisdom:

“Letting them fail.  That’s tough.”

“With the control factor, oftentimes there’s something else going on.”

Contact Etienne:

Email: Etienne@7ctos.com

Websites: 7ctos.com, Everydev.com

Twitter & Instagram: @etdebruin


Abby Malchow: Women Vets in Tech



Joanie interviews Abby Malchow, who was attracted to the dynamic, growing tech industry even without a technical background.  Intel recruited her because of her experience with supply chain management in the Navy.  She now is a commodity manager in software and cloud technology.  Abby tells stories about how she made the transition from military to tech and how she helps veterans.  For example, while others use Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to generate revenue, Abby works with AI to help prevent suicide.  You might also be interested to know that Intel has an “AI for Good” team.

Highlights:

Q: How did you develop your adaptability in the military?

“In Iraq, I had to work with people who didn’t speak English and who weren’t comfortable working with women.  In the beginning, they would try to spit on me.  When they saw how hard I worked, they respected me.”

Q: How did you earn your respect at Intel without a technical background?

“I reached out to as many people as I could to gain information.  I leveraged my veteran network here.  Having discussions with people was more beneficial than reading a book or a manual.  I learned what others did, what their mistakes were, what I should know about this industry.  Relationships were formed from that.”

Q: What kinds of people challenges did you run into?

“While some people were willing to talk to me, some were less helpful.  In the military we’re always so quick to help people.  It’s our duty.  At Intel it’s different.  Everyone has to focus on their own responsibilities first, before they can help someone.”

Q: Why is it important to talk to women?

“If I’m not seeing women in managerial roles, what does my future at Intel look like?  I wanted to know Intel was investing in women in these roles.”

Q: What kinds of challenges do women veterans face when they transition out of the military?

“They tend to disappear.  There’s less of a community for them than for men.  People tend to think of the military in a very traditional sense, that it’s male-dominated, and, because of that, facilities have been built to not include women.”

Q: How is AI being used to help suicidal veterans?

“AI has grown in several platforms, including Facebook.  Suicide prevention algorithms exist to generate pop-ups with suicide prevention information when suicidal language appears.”

Q: What challenges do you run into in trying to get multiple different types of organizations to work together on veteran suicide prevention?

“You have to get the buy-in from the company.  In the end of the day, you have to appeal to them on more than an emotional level.  You have to bring in the data.”

Words of Wisdom:

“In this industry you’re never going to stop learning.”

“Working in a male-dominated industry, I had to look outside of my group to find women to lean on for support.”

“Veterans sustain invisible wounds.”

Contact Abby:

Twitter: @AbbyMalchow

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/abbymalchow/


Geoffrey Mattson: People Strategies for Techno-Entitled Nerds



Joanie interviews Geoffrey Mattson, CEO of MistNet.  Geoffrey leads a team of software engineers who use artificial intelligence to detect digital security threats in real time to keep organizations safe from cyber-attacks.  Geoffrey shares his insights into how having such valuable technical skills can lead nerds to feel entitled and not bother learning people skills that are critical to success in the long term.

Highlights:

Q: What kinds of challenges do you see with people at work?

“There is a nerd privilege, or techno-entitlement…  In Silicon Valley, the perks that are available to young people are like never before.”

“A lot of nerds grow up like a ‘spoiled child’ and it’s gotten even worse in the last tech cycle.  You can learn a lot of patterns that are not very helpful for you, your team, or your company.”

“If your tech skills become cold after some period of time, you’re just a nerd with a nerd personality without hot nerd skills.”

Q: How do you get your team to have good people skills?

“I start with a good core.  Part of being creative is being charitable—wanting to contribute and give.

Q: What are “nerd impulses?”

“To always want to be right, to have your own way, to use any information you have to your own advantage.”

Q: How do you squelch them?

“With my team, we have an understanding after working together that we’re going to be very frank with each other and be very friendly with each other after.”

Q: How do you see AI technology affecting the way people interacting with each other?

“The problem with AI is people are much more predictable than they think they are.”

Words of Wisdom:

“All tech booms come to a bust.”

“It’s good to have a little bit of conflict to keep people awake.”

“People can be more productive, more creative, and get more work done if they think about the long term and not always being right in the moment.”

Contact Geoffrey:

Phone: 408-499-7582

Email: gmattson@mistnet.io

Website: https://www.mistnet.ai/

Twitter: @geoffrey_mat

 


David Wallace: When the Sparks Fly



Joanie interviews David Wallace, who talks about emotionally charged situations on this entertaining and enlightening episode.  David is the president of 5th Avenue Energy where he combines two of his passions, electricity and protecting the environment.  5th Avenue Energy is a San Diego based Electrical Contracting Firm that specializes in solar and renewable energy solutions in the Commercial and Industrial space.  David is a funny guy and this interview will certainly entertain you, but you will also get some valuable insights.  David has given a lot of thought to people strategies and he’s very articulate.

Highlights:

Q: Tell us about yourself.

“As a kid, I would ask for very expensive robotic toys and I would take them apart to see how they worked.”

“I am a lover of all things technical, especially renewable energy. The largest obstacle I find, is not non-technical people, it’s engineers.  They’re used to speaking about other technical things, but not the flow of electrons.”

Q: What’s the emotion you refer to?

“There’s an emotion that comes when you’re driven by something.  Frustrations can arise when it comes between protecting the budget versus protecting the environment.”

Q: What do you do to make a pleasant environment for negotiation?

“The first thing I do is check my ego at the door.  I ask questions and try not to interrupt.”

Q: How did you learn to read body language?

“I had to hone in my focus because I’m usually thinking of the next thing I’m going to say.”

Q: How do you prepare yourself for being in the right mode for different types of situations?

“It’s literally a robotic function of mine: which button do I push to get the right version of David?  I put myself in a box and I choose which box I want to be in and I don’t let myself outside of the box.”

Words of Wisdom:

“Passion can make or break a sale.”

“As nerds and technical people, we’re competitive.  We can see a discussion as a competition and it’s not necessarily that.”

“Getting someone to understand that you want to understand disarms.”

Contact David:

(951) 285-4605

david@5thavenueenergy.com

http://www.5thavenueenergy.com


Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker: Communicating Science to Non-Scientists



Joanie interviews Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker, an evolutionary biologist, business consultant, author, and speaker.  Dr. Tamsin helps companies look to nature for sustainable business solutions but not necessarily in the way you would think.  Tune in for an extremely interesting episode of Reinventing Nerds.

Highlights:

Q: How do you bring evolutionary biology to companies?

“I ask myself, ‘How would nature design a company?’”

Q: How do you communicate with non-scientists?

“As scientists, everything is hypothesis driven.  For laypeople, it’s not.  We’re hardwired to tell stories. I try to meet people where they’re at and bring them on a journey to a different world.”

Q: What have you done to improve your communication skills as you moved from doctorate candidate to keynote speaker?

“Letting go of details while still being accurate.”

Q: What’s your biggest challenge with people skills?

“I’m an introvert and I talk a lot about collaboration.  Tamsin also helps other introverts collaborate.”  To learn how, listen to the podcast…

Words of Wisdom from Dr. Tamsin:

“A lot of people were traumatized by science classes.”

“Ants aren’t sitting in traffic.”

Contact Tasmin:

Website: DrTamsin.com
Twitter: BioInspired_Ink
FB: Dr. Tamsin
LinkedIn: Tamsin Woolley-Barker


Scott Krawitz: People Skills for a Technologist



Joanie interviews Scott Krawitz, the CEO of People Driven Solutions Inc (PDSI).  PDSI provides technology advisory services, such as the “virtual CTO.”  Scott has had many years as a technologist and a leader of technologists and he shares the people strategies he finds work best.

Highlights:

Q: What are the most critical people skills for a technologist?

In nerd parlance, think of it like a network communication model.  There are three stages: transmitting, receiving, and processing a message.

Q: What have you learned from your extensive world travel that has helped you develop your people strategies?

It’s an invaluable experience for any leader to explore different cultures.  Cross-cultural agility is key, especially in America.  You ignore cultural differences at your own peril.

Q: What do you mean by using the right “filter of empathy?”

Scott brings in research from cultural anthropologist, Angeles Arrien.  To learn more, listen to the podcast.

Words of wisdom from Scott:

“It’s always better to under promise and over deliver.”

“Show up and choose to be present.”

“Look for the words between the words.”

Scott offers shout outs to:

NFAR, the National Foundation for Autism Research, and 7CTOs

Contact Scott:

scott@peopledriven.co

619-908-1407

http://peopledriven.co