December 3, 2016

How Do We Get Better?

We know there is More we can do. We know we can do it better. But How?

How tears us. We think about it. We wonder. We ponder. We lose sleep. We get frustrated. And still …

What do you think? How do we get better?

November 28, 2016

Turning 60

As a teenager decided to live to 100, and when that seemed too common - raised it quickly to 120. So am I now middle aged? Mom’s statement comes to mind, “It is not the Age, it’s the Mileage.”

The writer in me wants to reflect and deliver something profound. Not coming to me despite a long weekend. However here are my best decisions.

1. Live within My Means
Income has not stayed consistent in my manufacturing / entrepreneurial career.  Chose an affordable house instead of stretching. Have an emergency fund, and can pay off mortgage in 12 years versus 30. Low debt and savings make life easier.

2. Contribute to 401K
Took the match when I started, and raised my donation rate 2% with each raise.  After 6 years have 4 times the average retirement savings of my age group.

3. Keep Learning
Since graduating college have studied computers, CAD, project management, writing, and real estate. Read experts on other topics to keep my mind sharp. Talking with teenagers to seniors keep me engaged.

4. Time for Fun and Enjoyment
Love weekly volleyball games, going to small groups, reading, running or hiking. Watching good basketball & football games, and parties are welcome.

Don’t believe that you can have it all. Don’t believe wealth or skill comes without effort. Don’t believe “This Time is Different.” Don’t believe there is a balance to life. Life is always unexpected challenges. Adapt and change is required. Good attitudes and faith will get you through change.

BTW also have an Aging System you can use -- Denial J

November 24, 2016


Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday and only a small part is the eating. What it is we count blessings and good people in our lives. Think about what went right and who supported you. Keep looking for it and you will find more. Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and more.

Even after the year’s disasters, you can see all those who volunteer and give to help others. The US is often criticized for not doing enough, but the American people are the ones that give the most.

Gratitude is the way to stay happy despite traffic, food that doesn’t turn out, people who voted differently than you, and diets ruined for a day. Actually it puts you closer to your faith.

Happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy your day.

PS - really enjoy the eating and nap in front of the football game too J

November 19, 2016

Fear and Decisions

Have you been talking with someone who is angry and not making sense? Their decision process is all emotion, and they are full of emotion. They could be angry with your company, angry at someone else, or angry with you.

How about when someone does not want to make a decision. They talk about the issue. They ask advice. They express opinions. But they definitely don’t want to commit. Not now.

What drives this behavior is simple. They are afraid. Afraid of making the wrong decision, afraid of failing, afraid of paying too much, afraid of losing, afraid of change, afraid of success, or afraid of anything.

We are just like these people under pressure. I fear making the wrong decision. I don’t want to lose. We are flawed. Our knowledge has gaps and bad information.

Take a deep breathe. Ask for more time (few things need the answer now). Set an appropriate deadline.

How important is your decision? If you are at a restaurant, most things on the menu will taste good. Likely it is not life or death, and if it is you have to rely on your training.

Second, be human. None of us is perfect. Start taking some action. Revise the question. Define the problem better. What are your constraints? Can we bypass one? Are there more options? There is always another way.

Most good decisions come from choosing with what you know. Not waiting for more information.

“Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is timing. It waits on the right time to act." -- Fulton J. Sheen

November 12, 2016


The protesters are complaining President Elect Trump is “not their president”. Immediate thought “Whiners”. (Never naturally “PC”)

Technically they are right, President Obama does not turn over the position until January 20th. They have a couple months until he will be President #45 Donald J. Trump, and everyone’s president.

BTW this is nothing new. Remember people saying the same thing when Obama won, Bush won, Clinton won, and back till I was young. And if you think this campaign was crude, you never read editorials from Yellow Journalism from the late 1800s, and from Colonial times. Our forefathers did the same.

It hurts to lose. You were so sure you were right. This was the year for your team. Then it does not go your way. Sometimes a close one, other times you get creamed. Someone else gets promoted. The person you wanted dates someone else. You get outbid on a home. The joke falls flat. We have all been there.

What really hurts is finding out people do not think your way. It is logical to you. Their choice is logical to them. Colleges are into groupthink. They are misleading their students about the real world. When I went to college it was expected other people thought about thing differently. Now saying it may get you punished.

Some of us choose to lose. We play against more experienced and talented players. We take chances. Write songs and posts no one hears or reads. Even after years of practice, still see horrible sentences with incomprehensible meanings. OMG I really wrote that? Afraid so.

The reason it is okay to lose, that is how you learn. Trial and error and error and error teaches us.

It is okay to vent and protest. That is why we have free speech. Go ahead and talk about it. Every says, “It is not fair.” Work can suck.

What is not okay is breaking car, business and home windows. That is not influential. That person probably voted for your candidate. They believed what you believed. Now you damaged their property and they have to pay for it.

Anarchist does not mean power. Anarchist is a “petty criminal” who needs to grow up.

Remember January 20th President Trump.

BTW voted, but for 3rd party. My vote was a protest.

November 9, 2016


The American people have spoken. 

They don't want very Conservative views, or they would have picked a different primary candidate. They did not want extreme Liberal views or would have been a runaway vote for an experienced candidate. The people voted against the existing political arguments.

They voted for the candidate who believes in the average working person. Pundits are missing the reason for the enthusiastic rallies. They voted for the person who believes in them.

November 5, 2016

Mentoring Teaching How to Think

Most of us will take a new job, and we depend on people to teach us. They become our mentors. Then comes the day we have to teach the newbie. We are their mentors.

So how do you train someone well? First remember some failures of other people to orient you before. Hours, breaks, bathrooms, and general rules of the office are helpful along with introducing coworkers.

The story of a new hire on a manual zinc die cast machine comes to mind. He just had to pull the lever to close the door, then push the lever open to get the part. New guy works through break, then thru lunch. Finally his manager asks him how he is doing? Sweating profusely the new guys says, “How do you stop this machine?” When told just don’t close the door. He picks up his things and walks out the door quitting on the spot. Training failure.

You need to show someone more than what steps to do. You need to teach them how to think. The steps are okay if everything goes right. What do you do if something is wrong? Mentors must teach how to think. How to handle unsatisfied customers. Who to call for problems. Safety rules and processes. Warning signs looking out for potential problems.

Here is a list of mentoring steps by a curmudgeon:
·   Read the draft manual & procedures.
·   Complete my required training.
·   Giddily using a red pencil to redline the hell out of my engineering drawings.
·   Go leave the comfort of our cubicle area to go to the labs and to walk the production line.
·   Forced me to talk with the mechanics and technicians.
·   No clue what to say, so he would politely say something in just the right way for me to rephrase it and ask it myself.
·   Stories shared from his 30+ years with the company on mistakes made & how they were fixed, successes achieved.
·   Important things to remember when running this test or that analysis.
·   Knowing how the organization works and who the key players are.
·   Why it's important to understand things from our customer's perspective.
·   The significance of integration & handoffs between engineering groups and our products.
·   Appreciation of the precision and detail required to generate computer equivalent engineering drawings by hand.

This woman’s career was been forever shaped by the time and effort this man put into her to learn about the craft of engineering.

Mentors are not done unless the trainee also has life skills to go do the job.  The soft skills of working with people have to be taught everyone. 

Especially the transition from schooling to working. Working with 2 interns they thought there would be no issue sitting down and talking with the CEO. My question was don’t you think he has other responsibilities to be working on? Most CEOs are the chief salesperson making decisions daily, that affect many employees. Part of our job is to protect their time so the CEO can focus. However if you have great ideas and necessary information, you need to bring it to the CEO.

Here are some soft skills were taught by my mentors:
·   Encouraged become a problem solver, to take initiative, and to meet deadlines.
·   Stressed 'problem solving'.
·   That things will go wrong, and to focus on prevention as well as recovery.
·   Asking good questions.
·   Help me develop perspective, and to take logical risks.
·   Humility - serious about my work and not so serious about myself. Life is easier.
·   Speak up and overcome my shyness.
·   Engineering should also be interesting and fun (and not to lose that)

Successful in my career and life because many people took their time to teach me life lessons, work skills, computer programs, problem solving, handling people on bad days, and maintain perspective in crisis’s. Am eternally grateful, and passing my learning on.

Who mentored you? Honor them by teaching others.