Dating Skills for Engineers. The 2012 Version.

I was out at UBC this week for a follow-up lecture on Entrepreneurship to Eng Phys ProjectLab students. The first lecture was on the process of developing one’s technical ideas into a “Marketable Product”. A “HowTo” startup a company for technical people. In that presentation I focused on 5 Points — Purpose, You, Scorecard, Process, and Customers. I tie together ideas from Peter Drucker (Purpose), Roger Martin (You), Alex Ostervalder (Business Model), Steve Blank (Process), and Christopher Moore (Customers).

In the follow-up lecture I focus on the People Skills that are required to execute on those ideas. I focus on four skills – Listening (Marshal Goldsmith), Communicating (Heath Brothers), Helping (Edgar Schein), and Don’t Be An Asshole (Robert Sutton). In recent years this lecture has earned a fun nickname Dating Skills for Engineers. Here is the link Dating Skills for Engineers. The 2012 Version – slideshare


Reviewing Mindfulness in Plain English ( It’s Sunday )

Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana is a great “HowTo” meditate book. It is thorough, answers most “newbie questions”, answers questions “newbies” should ask, and has a good sense of humour. It is by far the best “HowTo” meditate book I’ve read. This book seems to be available everywhere. I got mine at the library. A quick Google search will turn up free .pdf and .epub downloads. This of course begs the question, “How come it took me ten years to find it?”

The simple description of Vipassana (breathing) meditation as the development of two skills concentration (following the breath) and mindfulness (noticing when you’ve lost the breath) is very useful. I particularly liked the section on Loving Kindness (page 99–106). This topic is easy to understand on the surface, but it is difficult to understand at the practice level. It is covered very well here. Also I always get confused with the buddhist use of the word Liberation. I always leave thinking What am I being liberated from? On page 158 Bhante G says

This does not mean, however, that you will instantly attain Liberation ( freedom from all human weaknesses)….

That said my sense of this book is “Wow this is a lot of information!” no wonder it’s highly recommended that one only do this work with a monk. No wonder it took me so long ( a decade) to be able to do this. There are ups and downs. The Difficulties and Distractions chapters are so practical, meaningful, and useful. But they also bring some serious “doubt” into my mind. I keep asking myself the question “I don’t know if I’d have done this if I’d read the Difficulties section.” ( It’s like a sports book having a section on “common injuries in our sport”. It’s good to know what you’re getting into, but do you really want to know that most pro athletes have many surgical scars? ) Thus my sense of this book is that it’s really for people aspiring to be “teachers”, to remember what it was like back at the beginning and for “newbies” to see the worth and seek out a “teacher”. That just my sense.

The best part of this book is Chapter 15 Meditation in Everyday Life where Bhante G says that real life is the game and that ones practice (meditation practice) is just that “practice for real life”. Get on with living! Meditation is a skill that will help you live, it will help you get out into the raw, real, exciting world, it’s not a skill that helps you hide from our world.

Reviewing Quiet: The Power of Introverts ( A Very Good Read )

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Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts had a very interesting reception at our cottage this summer. I think everyone read the first chapter and few read the whole book. It was amazing how many people wanted to be introverts and how many were appalled that they were remotely close to being an introvert. The “extrovert ideal” was fully present.

I often like to read the “bad reviews” on Amazon when I reflect on a book. Quiet has many good reviews and quite a few one or two star reviews. The low reviews are all about “too much repetition of the core idea” or “this is segregating introverts”. I don’t share the opinions of the few low reviews. It is true that Cain has a “focussed and simple” message about introversion Awareness of “introversion traits” will help us all that she uses to explore many different environments and contexts. This is important because there are lots of introverts in the world and they have strengths. A lot of the force in her message is because she feels we live in a world where the ideal is “Extraversion”. I really liked how she took her simple message and explored it many environments and contexts. It’s like a a bunch of experiments with similar results but also lots of little differences. The nuances are the key. But it can be repetitive. It is what it is.

There is a lot on public speaking in this book. An common introvert issue ( she says). One of the stories involves a Professor named Brian Little who needs a tremendous amount of down-time after speaking. There is a description of him hiding in a bathroom stall after a speaking engagement so that he can recharge. I particularly liked this because I have a hard time with pre and post speaking engagements. I find that I leave all my energy on the podium I have very little left to give after a talk. Also I don’t like to use up my energy before either. Leaking energy before a talk never ends well. I usually run out of steam in the Q&A. The Q&A is the most demanding part of a talk. It takes tremendous energy to listen to a question, process it, and then answer in front of a crowd. The analogy is gas mileage, Q&A is inner city driving gas mileage of (~10 mpg) vs highway driving mileage of (~40 mpg), there is a big difference.

I applaud Susan Cain for taking on this subject. She doesn’t solve the problems of Introversion, but she does make the reader aware of them in a deep way. It’s up to us to solve our own problems. She also makes us aware of Introversion strengths. She definitely made me more aware of “Introversion Traits” and some coping strategies that can be experimented with.

I highly recommend this book. It provides a alternate lens to look at our “Extravert Ideal” world. It can help you begin focussing on your strengths and/or supporting them in a child (friend).

UBC Customer Development Alumni — in Gangnam Style

The Sunberry Fitness Gangnam Style Fitness Classes in Richmond article made my day.

It also reminded that I should mention other projects that have continued after classes ended. Here are projects that past BAEN 502 / e@UBC students and supporters are working on.

Swiip released their Swiip ToDo app “for twenty-somethings” to the AppStore this week.

Namkis has been “Smiling and Scowling” all summer.

and supporter Contractually keeps working hard.

Entrepreneurship and You @ UBC Eng Phys – 2012 Version

I was out at UBC yesterday lecturing on Entrepreneurship to Eng Phys ProjectLab students. Here is the slideware.

I focus on 5 Points — Purpose, You, Scorecard, Process, and Customers.

Purpose » Drucker’s purpose of business,
You » Martin’s Knowledge Funnel,
Scorecard » Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas,
Process » Blank’s Customer Development and
customers » Moore’s Crossing the Chasm.

A big Thank You to Jon, Chris, and Bernhard for providing me the opportunity to speak.

September Rocks with Cat Power, The xx, and Bob Mould


This September has been a great month to buy music. I’m really liking new albums by Cat Power – Sun, The xx – Coexist, and Bob Mould – Silver Age

Nothin But Time on Cat Power’s Sun is absolutely stuck in my head. I’ve been listening to it over-over-and over. Totally awesome. The pitchfork reviewer has this fun to read quote …

“Marshall (Cat Power) wrote it to cheer up her ex’s teenage daughter, and the longer it goes on, the truer its optimistic truisms ring, the stronger the urge to holler them along with the rest of of voices (”You wanna live!“). It’s an odd but fitting peak. By the sixth minute, when Iggy Pop’s voice comes in god-sized and benevolent, it’s like some sort of peyote daydream where one of the faces on Mount Rushmore stoops to talk to you and has only the kindest things to say.”

The xx just do “quiet” the best. The new album “coexist” adds more of these gems to my music collection. It’s amazing how popular they are right now. There are 40 reviews to-date on metacritic of this album. That is a lot.

Bob Mould is car listening at it’s finest. He’s mellowed, but I like that it reminds of his Husker Du days without the “blistering pace” of Husker Du. I’m too old for that (most of the time) Awesome guitar noise …. Warning many people may absolutely hate this.

A Quick Summary of Helping Book (A Must Read)

I’ve noted Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help( , by Edgar H Schein as a must read a few times now. I’ve tried to summarize the key points in the picture below.

At a glance – You should take away the insight that this is why you feel so good when you are asked to help and why you don’t want to ask for help. There is an imbalance of status (or power) that happens when help is requested. You can’t take advantage of the “helper” role. It’s why you can’t just jump into the most powerful helper role of “Doctor” and expect that the “asker” will be happy with the result.

I really like the point that Communication is not a choice. You can choose to be silent or not, but each action is an act of communication. ( I took liberties with this principle )

There is so much more in this book. A “HowTo on Humble Inquiry”, A “HowTo on Teamwork”, and a “HowTo in Organizations”.

There is no question that this is a great book for your “home life”. But it is also a fantastic book for you at work. This is how you can really figure out what your customers problems are and what they want from you.


added Oct 21, 2013 HELPING: AN URGENT NEW ROLE FOR LEADERS &laquo Ivey Biz School 2009