Category Archives: Episode

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

 


Calie Hendrickson: Systems for People



Joanie interviews Calie Hendrickson, who is a systems engineer at Engility Corporation.  Calie acquired her people skills along a roundabout path to the aerospace industry.  She capitalizes on these skills to communicate with her multidisciplinary teams of engineers.  Calie also talks about how she mentors across disciplines and the surprising benefits of cross-disciplinary mentoring.

Highlights:

Q: How did you get to where you are now?

“My path to get there was puddle jumping.  I started out with an arts and science degree and moved into biotechnology…  Then I moved across the country and did interior design.  That’s where I got my people skills.”

“I came to be known as a specialist in data management engineering, which is managing the accessibility to data.  Rather than having something in a giant database, you can categorize it and have it at your fingertips.”

Q: How do you organize data logically?

“We rely heavily on use case.  It’s very user feedback driven.  When I personally build a database, I’m likely not the person who will be using it day to day.  Even though I think it’s perfect, the user may look at me like a deer in the headlights.”

Q: How do you learn what users do?

“I will go and sit with the person and observe them.”

Q: How do you engage in multidisciplinary communication?

“Especially in dealing with aerospace engineers—that can mean very different specialties ranging from thermal to avionics and software to structural to propulsion.  We’re all engineers.  We all have similar thought processes, but we have different things we focus on. It’s important to find a similar language so you can communicate with someone in a meaningful manner.”

Q: What does it mean to use a similar language?

“Anyone in any background has their own vocabulary.  You need to be cognizant when you do that yourself, so you can clarify.”

Words of Wisdom:

“When someone uses an acronym you don’t know, ask what it is.”

“Seek feedback from trusted coworkers.”

“Study faces.”

Contact Calie:

Email: keepincontactwithcalie@gmail.com

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/calie-hendrickson-93468010a


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/