Category Archives: Episode

John Thornburgh: When Nerds Go to Trial



Are you looking for free legal advice?  Tune in as Joanie interviews John Thornburgh, a patent litigator and principal at Fish & Richardson, about the people skills you need if you go to trial over your technology.  Whether you’re suing or being sued, you may end up testifying some day and it’s a totally different language in court.  They don’t speak in binary; interpreting the law lands you smack in the gray area.  This can be difficult for engineers and scientists who are used to being precisely correct or incorrect.  The lesson is that it takes a lot of work to prepare to explain technical things to judges and juries.

Highlights:

Q: Tell us about what you do.

“I’m a patent litigator, so I’m the kind of lawyer who helps to enforce patents in court and defend people who get sued.  I’m not the kind of lawyer who goes and obtains the patents.  We call them ‘patent prosecutors.’ They go to the patent office and file the patents.  Once people have patents, I go out and sue people or defend people.  It involves a lot of technology.  I have mostly over the years worked on computer cases both hardware and software, but I’ve also done all sorts of other things, like recently eye surgery and roller blades and all sorts of technical things.”

Q: What’s the major people challenge that you have to deal with in court?

“Lots of times we go to trial to enforce a patent and some of the jurors will probably have a college education and some will only have a high school education and they’ll be asked to decide which Ph.D. expert is right about some circuit design.  If that sounds hard, it is.  It’s hard for them, but they tend to take it very seriously.  One of our jobs as lawyers is to help our expert witnesses and our client witnesses explain these concepts to ordinary people in a way that will make sense.  We try to be accurate, but we try to focus on the key things that will decide the case and be understood.”

Q: How do you know if the juries understand your message when you don’t get feedback from them during trial?

“That’s really hard because juries are generally not allowed to ask questions or tell you what they think.  There’s a good reason for that.  In our judicial system, in general, we have rules of evidence so only certain questions can be asked.  For example, there’s the rule against hearsay.  You can’t say what somebody else said.  You have to say what’s true that you have personal knowledge of.  You can’t expect jurors to ask proper evidentiary questions, so that’s the main reason they’re not allowed to.”

“In general, it’s up to the lawyers to guess what questions the jurors may be having and ask those.  It’s not a complete guess.  We have experience with this, and we do a lot of tests.  We hardly ever go to trial without practicing in front of a mock jury.”

Q:  What kinds of people challenges come up for witnesses who have to testify in court, who may be engineers, coders, scientists, or inventors who are not expecting to speak to juries?

“We are typically working with engineers and scientists as witnesses, both as client witnesses and expert witnesses.  It’s a very alien experience for them.  Engineers are typically used to working in an environment in which truth is binary, that the circuit is either correct or not correct.  It either works or doesn’t work.  The shades of gray that are introduced by language and lawyers and litigation are oftentimes a challenge for them.”

“They are also challenged by how they may be treated by the other side.  They’re used to being respected and they’re trying to explain something and tell the truth.  Yet, the other side may look for ways to make them look bad and humiliate them.  They need to be prepared for how to deal with that.”

Q: How do you prepare technical people to go to trial?
“We practice cross examinations.  We subject them to the kinds of adversity they might experience.  We try to make them comfortable with the process.  We spend lots and lots of time brainstorming how to explain something complicated in simple language.”

To hear more advice on going to trial and entertaining stories that illustrate his points, listen to John’s interview.

Words of Wisdom:

“The truth is complicated.”

“A lot of times the jury may not understand the details, but they will understand the body language.  Don’t be argumentative.”

“You have to be careful about analogies.  Every analogy usually breaks down at some point.”

“It’s unlikely in normal technical work that anyone is quite out to twist their words as an opposing lawyer may be.”

“Lawyer shows on TV are not accurate.”

Contact John Thornburgh:

Email: thornburgh@fr.com

Website: https://www.fr.com/john-w-thornburgh/


Jamie Leben: The Joy of Connecting with People



Joanie has a conversation with Jamie Leben, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of the Loveland Makerspace.  A self-proclaimed nerd, Jamie has developed from a socially awkward kid to a community builder.  He has a strong sales background as well.  As a community leader, he exhibits humility, gratitude, teamwork, and giving.

Highlights:

Q: What is a Makerspace?
“It’s simply a community workshop.  Makerspaces have been around for roughly twenty years, worldwide, starting back in Berlin and MIT, for example.  You’ll also hear the term ‘hackerspace’.  It’s a place where we do our best to make access to prohibitive tools, a workspace, and a community of people working on projects and hopefully motiving each other.  We make that accessible physically and economically as well.  The Makerspace is a volunteer project of mine.  It’s my volunteer passion project.”

Q: Why is the Makerspace such a growing phenomenon globally?

“There’s been such a development in technology and tools.  Computer controlled machines have come down in price such that most people can pool together to afford them, but they are often too large to fit in a person’s house.  We pool resources to share tools.  The resources are also available to the community.”

Q: What people challenges come up at your Makerspace?

“We have people of all ages, some very smart people, people who are very good with mechanical tools, some people on the spectrum.  There’s interaction between people with different perspectives.  In return of all that ferment and the different personalities, you get some wonderful things that come out of it.”

“For instance, our Makerspace has birthed several companies.  It’s like a ‘try before you buy.’  You might think, ‘I’ve worked with this person on volunteer projects and I know I can spend hours a day grinding away on something that makes us success and I might like working with this person.’”

Q: How do you create an environment where people want to interact with each other across traditional boundaries, like age and culture?

“They look for hierarchy.  I say, ‘no this is our place.’  We have a do-ocracy.  We do things.  This is our community, if you see something you want to engage in, please do it.”

Q: What kinds of conflicts have come up and how did you move through them?

“This is an interesting challenge.  Sometimes it’s a case-by-case basis.  If I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with it, my colleague being able to take it on and deal with it is important.  It is a team effort.”

“The first rule of the Makerspace is The Golden Rule, or ‘don’t be a jerk.’ Having the diverse experience and backgrounds of people who can say ‘I’ve got this, I’ve seen this before, let me give this a try’ helps in dealing with conflicts that arise.”

To hear more about Makerspaces, the benefits from being a member of one, and the joys and challenges of leading one, listen to the episode.

Words of Wisdom:

“You have things to share with me, I have things to share with you.”

“Surround yourself with smarter people and listen to them.”

“Be a mentor, not a hero.”

“Being able to laugh at yourself really helps.”

Contact Jamie Leben:

https://jamieleben.home.blog/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamie-leben-5253a061/
https://www.facebook.com/jamie.leben
https://twitter.com/jamieleben


Nick Armstrong: Super Skills for Super Leaders



Joanie interviews Nick Armstrong, a Super Nerd who founded Fort Collins Comic Con.  It’s a completely volunteer-run Comic Con that donates all of its proceeds to the local library reading programs.  It has burgeoned into a thriving, welcoming community of generous geeks who bring joy to themselves and the broader community.  It’s also a very affordable Comic Con.  Listen to Nick’s story of how he started this venture and what led to its success.  By the way, he also started FoCo TEDx and there’s a story about that too.

Highlights:

Q: How did you come to found Fort Collins Comic Con?

“I almost died.  I was a really horrible programmer for about two years.  They paid me to stop.  I had nine jobs during that time and was only fired from two of them.  It’s what most Millennials do.  It was after my last job and I didn’t feel well.  My stomach ache never went away…  My appendix almost burst.  The doctor came over to me after the surgery and said ‘What are you doing with your life?  You just got a second chance.  What are you going to do with it?’  I didn’t know.  And then I decided to start my own company.”

Soon after, “the Fort Collins Library District said, ‘We’d like to do something big for our summer reading campaign.  What have you got?’  I said, ‘Let’s make a Comic Con!’  Like any successful business venture, we recruited a bunch of people who could do it better than us.  It’s 100% volunteer run.”

“The idea of the value of a dollar: if you donate it to the Food Bank, they make five meals out of that.  At Comic Con I wanted to make sure we stuck to that core value of you have something to come to as a geek and you don’t have to pay a lot for that platform.”

“We focused on the fun and kept it family friendly.  It’s super affordable.  For less than a hundred bucks, you get a family of four in.  We donate every dollar we make from our Con to the library.”

Q: What kind of people skills come up in Cos Play?

“It takes a lot!  A lot of people think you can just go to the Halloween store to get a costume, but you can’t.  People usually make their own from scratch.  It takes a lot of creativity.  You have to be able to imagine that other half of the costume that you’ve never seen on the screen.”

“The Cos Play community, in particular, teach other cos players the tricks of the trade.  They work well together.  We’ve got some amazing talent and they are so generous with their time and their talents.  Extending that to the larger community to bring joy to people’s lives.”

Q: What people skills have you developed to lead people?

“I always look at the Star Trek characters to emulate their skills.  They all have their different style.  Each character has their own temperament, and each is adaptable is some way.  Star Trek really lends itself to leadership abilities and competency.”

“Growing up I had a lot of really strong female role models.  Business leaders and mentors, who when I was creating my business, were key in creating the sense of community and allowing the people who really shine at something to step forward and do their thing without machismo getting in the way.  I owe a lot of credit to, not only fictional people, but real people.”

Q: How do you make money?

“The thing that allows me to be generous with my time and money is that I have clients that I work with on a number of things, on marketing and marketing strategy, and I create events for them that have the same impact that Comic Con has for us.”

Listen to the episode to hear more about the impact that a volunteer-run Comic Con has.

Words of Wisdom:

“I don’t have ton of control and I think that’s a great thing.”

“The things that have turned out really great are the things that I’ve invited other people into.”

Contact Nick Armstrong:

Website: https://wtfmarketing.com/

Email: nick@wtfmarketing.com


Vidya Dinamani: Connecting with Product Managers



Joanie interviews Vidya Dinamani, founder of Product Rebels.  Vidya uses her impressive experience in product management to teach others how to do it.  She calls herself a fully qualified nerd, having started her career coding, with a physics degree in her pocket.  Vidya is quite articulate and has really nailed how developers and product managers can work together successfully.  She doesn’t go with the canned messages, but rather has her own that will no doubt resonate with you.

Highlights:

Q: What kinds of nerds do you work with?

“I have been very lucky to work with some really awesome nerds, some really smart people. I worked at Intuit for ten years. Intuit attracts great people—engineers, designers, researchers, product managers.  There really isn’t a dud among them. At Mitchell, I worked with product design teams.  I’ve worked with and coached hundreds of product managers.  We always extend to working with engineers as well.  You can’t have one without the other; it’s symbiotic.”

Q: What do you mean by product management and design being like a marriage?

“Think about it.  You spend more time together than you probably do with your spouse.  It’s like a marriage whether you like it or not.  When I think about a great relationship, a great marriage, I think about having someone on your side, someone who’s got your back.”

Q: What kind of challenges tend to arise in this relationship from the product management perspective?

“A product manager is the representative of the customer at the table.  People who are good product managers take that very seriously.  They take the solutions to make sure they really work for the customer.  When you get deep into your customer’s shoes and see the solutions, you jump into the ‘how.’”

“We’re all problem solvers, as nerds.  This is why we do what we do. We often throw solutions at problems.  That gets us into trouble when we don’t step back.  You’ve got to think about a problem in a way that whether you and your elegant product existed or not, the customer still has the problem.  That’s really hard to do.”

Q: How do you help customers understand they may not know what their problem is?

“A lot of time, asking the customer what they want isn’t the way to do it.  You have to watch the customer in their natural habitat.  You turn these observations into fully formed sentences.  Then the magic of product management happens.  You get “ahas.”  You create hypotheses.  Product managers spend a lot of time testing their hypotheses and then go to the engineers when they’ve figured out the problem. Then they talk through solutions.”

Q: How does trust break down between development and product management?

“It can feel like high-level business speak to say, ‘we’re all on the same team.’  It can feel like something different when you’re trying to get a product out.  The developer is trying to get the best, most elegant solution.  The trust breaks down when they’re being told what to do.  When the trust breaks down, the product manager feels like the only thing to do is to tell them exactly what to do.”

Q: How do you reduce barriers to trust?

“I like decision matrices.  I invite you into my world, but I am the decision-maker.  When it’s my world, I make the decision.  When it’s your world, I can contribute, but the engineer makes the decision.”

To hear more about respecting boundaries, setting roles, and trusting others, and much much more, listen to the episode.

Words of Wisdom:

“Share the pen.”

“You’ve got to be okay with others being wrong and turn it into a learning mindset.”

“You’ve got to be bold to try things you’re going to be surprised with.”

“Ask ‘why’ next time in a meeting.”

Contact Vidya Dinamani:

Website: productrebels.com

Email: vidya@productrebels.com

Twitter: @vdinamani


JV Crum III: Conscious Strategies for Entrepreneurs



Joanie interviews JV Crum III, author of Conscious Millionaire: Grow Your Business by Making a Difference. In nerd speak, JV is a Jedi Master.  Not only has he mastered the art of helping entrepreneurs make money, but he also uses the Force for good.  JV says you have to get in touch with yourself and know what your purpose is before you will be able to take focused action and have the biggest impact. The people skills for this episode center around communicating with one person: yourself.

Highlights:

Q: What is your book, Conscious Millionaire, about and what inspired you to write it?

“It really starts with purpose.  I start in a different place from most people.  Most people start with something external to the entrepreneur: ‘here’s what you need to do, do some research, and build a business based on that.’  I agree you need to do all that, but it’s not step one.”

“Step one starts with what’s that internal sense of purpose that you have that’s within you, that’s bigger than you, that makes your life really meaningful.  If you bring that in at the core of your business, you’re going to create a bigger vision of what your business can be, who you can help, and the impact you can make.”

Q: What does it mean to be conscious?

“It took me a while to figure that out.  I use conscious in three ways.  The first way is that conscious comes out of psychology—being aware, having an awareness of how to build a business.  The second way is visionary consciousness, like Steve Jobs or Martin Luther King or Ghandi’s visions.  This is where disruptive businesses come from.  The third way is social consciousness.  In the past two decades, people have become more socially mindful, but it has also been where big money is being made solving these problems.”

Q: There are so many companies that fail.  What’s your advice to help entrepreneurs thrive?

“Create the business model that will achieve your objectives.  My process is: conscious focused action.  Most people want to skip the conscious step.  That’s where you get clear about your number one priority, whether it’s for ninety days or three years. You can’t take the action until you’re clear about what your number one priority is.”

Words of Wisdom:

“There’s a fulfillment piece out of doing something that matters.”

“Ask yourself: what can you do that can have a thousand times the impact and have a thousand times the revenue than what you’re doing now?”

“The biggest way that you can win involves others winning and society becoming a better place.”

“The entrepreneurs who are just saying “what’s in it for me” are missing the biggest money that’s on the table.”

“You can’t have too much good will.”

Free Gift:

Download JV’s High Performer Formula at ConsciousMillionaire.com/highperformer.

Contact JV Crum III:

Text JV on his personal cell phone at 303-641-0401 and include your name.

Website: ConsciousMillionaire.com


Slava Khristich: Communicating with Global Teams



Joanie interviews Slava Khristich, CEO of Tateeda. Tateeda provides clients with software development resources in the USA and internationally to extend teams, complete complex projects and solve challenging tasks.  Their model provides, among other things, improved communications between technical and non-technical people.  You can see why he’s a perfect guest for Reinventing Nerds.

Highlights:

Q: What is your background?

“My education is in economics and mechanical engineering. I got to the US in 1991 and I was heavily involved in the biotech field.  I used to work at the Salk Institute, in the research facility, and this is where I got introduced to computers. I started writing small code here and there and learned how computers operated and communicated. I fell in love and have been doing this for twenty years.”

Q: Where are you from originally?

“I am from Ukraine.  I came over with my family during the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

Q: Where do you have offices and what’s the advantage of being international?

“We have resources in San Diego and in Ukraine. Instead of trying to stretch time, we try to shrink time and squeeze in as much productivity as possible in a single day instead of stretching it across multiple days.”

Q: What communication challenges do you run into?

“When you’re dealing with technical people, you’re speaking the same language.  When you’re dealing with business people, there’s a gap in communication and expectations of what the final product should be. We have constant communication daily with the client and with the team. That way we can address any question or any issue that is discovered daily.”

Q: How do you assemble a team of people who have communication skills?

“We tend to hire senior people who have experience.  We have them go through a series of interviews—technical and personality.  We do everything possible to keep our people.  Our turnover is really low.”

Q: What challenges come up with cross-cultural communication?

“Usually it’s a misunderstanding.  When a client gives us too much freedom, we try to do as much work as we think is relative to the problem, and sometimes we think it’s our way but it’s really a different way.  Those are due to cultural differences and experiences.”

Q: How did you decide to be a leader of programmers instead of writing the code yourself?

“I couldn’t scale what I wanted to do and that was my passion.  In being a developer or team lead, I could only work with a little team and one client at a time.  I wanted to introduce it to many, to almost make a movement.  When you outsource something, the outsource professional should be doing it better than you can.  When I hire a lawyer, I want to assume he’s doing a great job.  It’s the same with software.”

For Slava’s best tips on global communication and words of inspiration to entrepreneurs, listen to the episode…

Words of Wisdom:

“Poor communication leads to poor responses, poor performance, and a lot of money wasted.”

“It all comes back to communication.”

“If you cannot trust us, you cannot work with us.”

Contact Slava Khristich:

Website: Tateeda.com

Phone:      619-630-7568


Rebecca Johannsen: Acting Emotionally Intelligent



Joanie Interviews Rebecca Johannsen, a people expert.  Rebecca is a corporate trainer who has a Ph.D. in theater.  She writes and directs plays and, of course, she’s a skilled actor.  She’s taken her knowledge and skills in acting to teach executives soft skills.  It’s a really interesting approach and I highly encourage you to listen to this episode.  It’s truly unique and very informative.

Highlights:

Q: How did you start doing executive development?

“About ten years ago, I put together a course called ‘Acting for Executives’ at the Rady School of Management at UCSD.  I’ve since developed several different courses in soft skills areas using techniques that actors use in the theater for training their voices, understanding their bodies, thinking quickly on their feet, overcoming fear and nerves, and communicating effectively. I focus largely on emotional intelligence.”

Q: On Reinventing Nerds, we talk about how people communicate in a way that’s authentic.  How do you handle authenticity with your acting approach?

“One of the things we learn early on in actor training is that acting is really about tapping into authenticity and truth and finding your own truth within a character that may be different from you… We can tell when somebody is being fake.  The best actors find that truth within themselves.”

Q: How does emotional intelligence come into play?

“One of the key skills for any performer is the ability to listen, the ability to listen actively and to read how somebody is responding to you emotionally. That’s one of the foundations of emotional intelligence.  We break it down into four different areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

“The self part is having an awareness that I’m having an emotion.  Once you have that awareness, what do you do with that emotion?  Is that a useful emotion for me to be having now?  If not, how do I adjust? The social part is being able to recognize that someone is having an emotional response to what I’m saying and how do I adjust?”

Q: What comes up for the nerds that you work with?

“I’ve learned with many of the nerds I work with that, because they are so focused on solving a problem by working at a computer, they oftentimes are not that connected to their body language or how they are coming across to other people and oftentimes have challenges with eye contact.”

To hear Rebecca’s solutions, listen to the episode.

Words of Wisdom:

“Ninety-three percent of our message that we’re trying to communicate with people is nonverbal.”

“The people who are more emotionally intelligent are in more subordinate positions.”

“Research shows men and women have a different biological makeup of their brains that impacts communication breakdowns.”

Contact Rebecca Johannsen:

Website: rebeccajohannsen.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-johannsen-56622a7/


Agnieszka Vestal: People Solutions for Telecommuters



Joanie interviews Agnieszka Vestal, a software engineer at Grasstree Engineering who focuses on embedded software.  An MIT graduate with an MBA in her pocket, Agnieszka adds global experience and a business perspective to her programming expertise.  She’s also a long-time telecommuter and shares advice on how to make telecommuting more satisfying and productive.

Highlights:

Q: When working from home, how do you get the people interactions you need?

“I have to work at it, for sure.  That’s one of the harder things about moving, for example.  It’s one thing to integrate into a new job and with new people.  It’s another thing to integrate into a local professional community without having a local job.”

Q: Where is your community?

“I keep in touch with people I work with a lot, all day, through instant messaging.  But I also make an effort locally to meet people by going to events, to talks and such, and I volunteer.”

Q: What have been the challenges with telecommuting?

“Getting to know the people I work with.  You have to know the people.  With telecommuting, if you can meet the people you work with, it makes an enormous difference.  Dealing with time differences is another one.”

Q: How did your company set up a face-to-face meeting for your team to get to know each other?

“It wasn’t on-boarding.  It was after, and that was better because we weren’t trying to assimilate the work and the people at the same time.  We could make progress on the work, then get to know the people.”

Q: How does meeting the team members face-to-face help your work?

“Every time you start a technical conversation with someone, even if you exchange a few pleasantries, you don’t know how to read them.  Once you’ve met them, you hear their voice.  It makes it much more personal.  You feel like you’re talking to the actual person.  It’s just a lot more pleasant.  At the end of the day, you need to enjoy work.  What most of us enjoy is the interaction with people.

For more insights on the people side of telecommuting, listen to the episode…

Words of Wisdom:

“Getting to know your team members makes work a lot more pleasant.”

“If you’re working completely opposite hours as your team, you’re not communicating enough.”

“Ask yourself: do you want to have a collaborative relationship or a transactional one?”

Contact Agneszkia:

Email: arv@grasstreeeng.com

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

 


Duncan Davidson: Managing an Empathy Wobble



Joanie interviews Duncan Davidson, CTO In Residence at Microsoft, Berlin.  He provides service to and is a liaison between Microsoft and the CTOs at start-up companies that Microsoft supports through the ScaleUp accelerator program at Microsoft for Startups.

What’s great about this interview is that Duncan shares his own experience with what he calls an “empathy wobble” when his company was acquired.  He shares insights into how it happened, what the impact was, and what he needed to change within himself to grow as a leader.  This is an incredibly impactful episode.  Duncan is candid and authentic.

Highlights:

Q: What kinds of things do you do as CTO In Residence at Microsoft?

“I provide tools for the technical people who are in or end up in the CTO role.  It’s everything from what are three reasonable architectures for running a in cloud computing, to how do you scale up from two people to twenty to 200, and how do you act as a technical leader in these situations?”

Q: Where were you before Microsoft?

“I was at hired at Wunderlist as senior developer on staff underneath the CTO/VP Engineering.  I was there to influence where we were going from a technical standpoint…  We were able to launch our product without a hiccup.  It was the most boring launch I’ve ever done.  Then we got acquired.”

“We had to go through due diligence for the acquisition.  Microsoft’s risks were much larger than ours because, if we brought in a bug, we could cost Microsoft billions.  We went through the process for six or seven months.  We went from having thousands of issues to a hundred to none.  In the end, we were pretty satisfied.  We thought the hard part was done.”

Q: [Ominous music] What happened once you were acquired?

“My goal was to have a successful integration, one where our team was seen as successfully contributing to the new company so we could buy our way into being relevant to the new company.  If we could guide the group through a transition like that, then we could write the rest of our story within Microsoft.”

Q: How did the integration go?

“What made sense to us from a logical perspective wasn’t something that a large number of people on our staff wanted to do.  Our team was made up of open source Linux geeks running microservices in different development languages and they were badasses at that. Microsoft had big enterprise things that had been around for twenty years, like Exchange, which were almost anathema to the people on our team.  We found that we didn’t have the alignment we needed in the organization.  As we went through this, we had a lot of friction in the organization.”

Q: How did you manage the friction?

“I found that I had an empathy wobble.  I picked up the term from a TED Talk by Frances Frei on how empathy wobbles can destroy trust.  Here’s where I ran into something interesting.  The logical side of where I came from was never a problem.  My authenticity seems to do pretty well.  But where I had the wobble was in empathy, being able to motivate people to get on board during the integration. I didn’t think I had a problem in this arena, but…”

Listen to the episode to hear Duncan’s gripping story of his empathy wobble…

Words of Wisdom:

“An empathy wobble impacts trust.  The decisions you make seem arbitrary to the people on the other side.”

“Culture is not defined by what you put on a piece of paper.  It’s the behaviors you tolerate in an organization.”

“We postponed a lot of things we should have acted on.  It’s in those kinds of situations where you find you’re not the good guy.”

Contact Duncan Davidson:

Email: duncand@microsoft.com

Website: https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/advocates/duncan-davidson


Mike Nowland: Solutions to your Leadership Problems



Joanie interviews Mike Nowland, whose purpose in life is to help managers be better, do better, and live better. Joanie met Mike when he was working as the Corporate Training Manager for the Americas at ResMed. Now he’s the president of Enriched Learning and Development, LLC. Mike shares tips for technical people who move into leadership roles.

Highlights:

Q: What kind of nerd are you?

“I’m probably the least technically proficient person you’re going to meet, at least on this podcast.  Numbers and I have been enemies since middle school.”

Q: What did you do at ResMed?

“ResMed was smart enough to keep me away from the medical devices and let me focus on the leadership aspects of leadership and development.  There, we improved the health of people through better sleep.”

Q: What are you doing now?

“If you think about any business.  I don’t care if you’re a heart surgeon or designing a CPAP device or if you’re in the military, you’re dealing with human nature…  It’s a human being business.  If you’ve got people, we’ll work well together.”

Q: What is the difference between managing and leading?

“We have to do both.  In the normal execution of our duties every day, there are things that we manage.  We manage people’s arrival times and departure times, deliverables, performance reviews, and all these processes we manage that execute the performance of the organization.  At the same time, we lead people to understand what stellar performance looks like in this organization, how they contribute to the outcomes in the execution of their duties and how they fit with the outcomes of the organization.”

“Both are important, and both can be taught.”

Q: What kinds of challenges do people who are technically savvy and leadership challenged typically face?

“One is, because they don’t know how to effectively communicate expectations or how to train others in the skills that got them promoted, they almost double down on their workload.  They think: ‘I’m not comfortable training someone on how to do it.  I’m going to do it twice as fast.  I’m going to lead by example.’  Frequently, it’s not developmental for someone on the team.  And, in 3-6 months, they’re burned out.”

To hear all three typical challenges as well as solutions, listen to the episode.

Words of Wisdom:

“Most managers are managers today because they were strong individual contributors. It can be very frustrating to make that transition.”

“Other people were probably performing pretty well when you got promoted. You don’t have to do their work for them.”

“When you get promoted, you get a grace period to ease in.”

Contact Mike:

Email: mike.nowland@crestcom.com

Website: Enriched Learning and Development