Tag Archives: nerd

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


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


Joanie Connell: Introduction to Reinventing Nerds



Hi, I’m Joanie Connell, your host of Reinventing Nerds.

I’m a nerd myself.  But you know what?  I don’t think I’m a whole nerd.  I think I’m about half nerd.  I started out as an electrical engineer in Silicon Valley and, after several years, I decided to go back to graduate school to learn psychology because I wanted to help  engineers and other technical people be better at communicating with each other. It’s been about twenty years now and I love it!  It’s some of my favorite work.

In the Reinventing Nerds podcast, I bring people on who are nerds, and also people who are “people experts.”  For example, there are scientists, engineers, programmers, academics, researchers, doctors–people who are really focused on their technical skills yet have to have those people skills to be successful in their work.  I know it’s hard now.  Everyone wants us to have it all.

I know from being a nerd myself–at least half nerd–how annoying it is to have those schmoozy, salesy, slimy kind of people telling you what to do.  I don’t want to teach people how to communicate in a way that’s not authentic to them.  That’s not what we’re about here.  We’re about learning how to communicate in a way that works for you.

Please subscribe to the podcast.  You can also watch us on YouTube and listen to us on iTunes.  Enjoy!