Are all Experienced Engineers Rude and New Engineers Obnoxious

This was written in response on Quora asking if all experienced engineers rude. In many respects, it is written as a letter to new engineers just coming out of school.

I have been producing software for many years. Most new and experienced programmers get along fine and learn from each other. There are different reasons why either group is rude to the other. I will group newbies into two groups, those who think they know it all and those who realize they do not. The experienced engineers can be broken into two groups also, the hoarders and the sharers.

For experienced engineers the hoarders are rude to everyone, they either hide as much information from others (who are either colleagues or below them in the hierarchy) as possible or give misinformation. They have put themselves into positions where their knowledge is critical to the organization’s success. In the short term, they can be very successful, but when technologies change they can find themselves in some difficulties. The sharers are the best people for newbies to get to know. The ones I know keep up with technology and freely share what they know until someone does something that may not seem totally ethical. Smart managers try to keep as many sharers as possible around, especially to train the new members of the team.

For newbies, I have had to deal with both the know-it-alls and the learners. The two toughest groups I had to deal with are the know-it-alls who really did not have the needed skills to do their job and the learners who were not able to learn what their job was and how to best do it. The know-it-alls who really did know their software development were obnoxious at first, and I was probably a bit rude to them. However, to be a true know-it-all they had to have a love for learning and would eventually know that other people can help them become better at their software development skills. These people, as long as they become sharers, usually became vital members of the team. The learners who had the fundamentals down, usually learned quickly and were willing to share their knowledge with others. These engineers also became vital members of our team.

For the teams on which I worked, the fastest way to be accepted by the experienced engineers is to both listen and contribute. You have learned some new techniques and concepts, look for ways they can contribute to the project. If your thesis was something that could help, have an informal presentation to those who would be interested.  Be involved in the code reviews of more experienced engineers code, you probably will learn many important concepts that were not taught in school but is only learned in industry. You may also be able to share some techniques that you did learn in school that would be helpful to the project. Work on overcoming stereotypes. Not all experienced engineers are rude, just like most newbies are not obnoxious. If we are on the same team, we need to work together to produce the best products we can.

Posted in Agile Methodology, Attitude, Code Reviews, Computers, Fulfilling Life, Goals, SCRUM, Software | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Agile Manifesto

It is best to understand a little history behind the Agile Manifesto to comprehend what the intention of the seventeen authors of the original manifesto was.  My link to one of the authors goes back to when I worked at Tektronix in Oregon. It was a great time to be in the software industry. Structured Analysis/Structured Design was the method of choice for most new development. As much organization as that brought to the software development process, people started to realize that software development should be more focused on delivering what people want and need instead of a massive amount of documentation. We were a very young team at the time given the task of developing the next generation of graphics terminal (Tektronix 4112/3/4). Because of all we learned on this project, the team started pushing for an even more interesting project for a stand-alone workstation that featured artificial intelligence (Tektronix 4404). My portion of both projects was to develop the Internal Diagnostics to help the field diagnose any problem that may occur with the hardware. Eventually, even manufacturing adopted my framework. Ward Cunningham was the Principal Engineer at Tektronix for our projects. The first language put on the Artificial Intelligence System was SmallTalk. With the merger of Object-Oriented programming and a desire for a more streamlined development process, Ward Cunningham developed Extreme Programming and eventually founded his own company. He was one of the software architects  invited to the meeting in Snowbird, Utah to develop the Agile Manifesto.

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

We are uncovering better ways of developing  software by doing it and helping others do it.  Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on  the right, we value the items on the left more.

Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

Each person who adopts the Principles behind the Agile Manifesto must internalize these principles. My internalization of these principles is:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable softwareTo make a project successful, the customer must love the final product. The best way to do this is to have incremental “done” products that the customer can determine if the project is progressing towards the desired solution. Communication and demonstrable results are the key to completing the product to the customer’s satisfaction.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.As customers see the results of your incremental implementations, they most likely will want “tweaks.” Changes between Sprints are far less costly than changes of specifications within a Sprint. The customer needs to be satisfied, but the team members need to also be protected from interruptions during each Sprint.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.Work should be delivered at the end of each Sprint. This is why Sprint planning is so important. Have plans for each Sprint on what can be delivered and presented to the customer at the end of each Sprint.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.Daily meetings should be short and to the point. The Project Owner and the Team Members should be involved in the daily meetings, the Scrum Master runs them. If necessary, representatives of the Stake Holders can also be included. See the list of Scrum Roles for more details of who is involved.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals.Projects always progress better if the customers and the team are enthused about the project.
  6. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.No one likes to be “micro-managed,” so trust the engineers to do what they promised for each sprint. In return, the Scrum Master must provide all the needed tools needed so each team member can complete the promised stories for each Sprint.
  7. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.True.
  8. Working software is the primary measure of progress.Each Sprint needs to deliver incremental working software that the customer can see you team’s progress. Testing the code is essential before delivering the application.
  9. Agile processes promote sustainable development.The Agile Process removes a great deal of the overhead associated with earlier processes, which frees the engineers to be more productive each week. Many studies show that working more than 45-50 hours per week actually decreases productivity and increases errors. As a team works together, they develop a good sense of how much they can accomplish each Sprint. People need to improve their productivity and take time to “sharpen their saws.” Without burning out, teams can be productive for long periods of time (many Sprints).
  10. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.See the answer above.
  11. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.Time has to be set aside for improving each team members techniques and knowledge of what tools are available to help each team member be more productive. One tool is code reviews so each team member can learn from the other members of the team.
  12. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.Do what is essential to produce an excellent product. Do no more.
  13. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.Each team member brings tremendous skill to the whole team. Use those skills. With a final goal firmly in place, teams can develop a superb architecture that meets the needs of the customer. All team members must be included from start to finish of each Sprint.
  14. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.At the end of each Sprint it is good to review what went well and what can be improved and how it is to be improved. Reflection is needed to make the team better. The team is collective responsible for the quality of the product, therefore each member must continually improve and help each other team member to improve also.

What Agile is NOT!

On February 11-13, 2001, at The Lodge at Snowbird ski resort in the Wasatch mountains of Utah, seventeen people met to talk, ski, relax, and try to find common ground—and of course, to eat. What emerged was the Agile ‘Software Development’ Manifesto.” – from History: The Agile Manifesto. At Hewlett-Packard, there was quite a bit of enthusiasm for this new “agile” methodology. Unfortunately, there was a tremendous amount of misunderstanding of what the Agile Methodology really was. When I first heard another engineer tell me about the new methodology, the engineer described it as “three or four engineers gathering around a computer and banging out code until it was complete, no more need for design, code reviews, or test.” This sounded more like seat-of-your-pants programming than anything I had done at either Tektronix or Hewlett-Packard. If I had know that Ward Cunningham, and eventually Rebecca and Allen Wirfs-Brock were involved, I know that I would have done a lot more research. This was nothing like what was developed at Tektronix. Good quality code that satisfies the needs of the customer is the key. There still needs to be a long-term and short-term plan, identifying what goes into each Sprint. The plans need to be flexible to meet the customer needs, but there needs to be a known direction to all development. Each Sprint includes planning, analysis, design, coding, testing, documentation, and customer acceptance. Each story is not implemented until all these steps are complete. The statement made about the agile methodology does not meet the criteria set forth by the Agile Manifesto. The purpose of the Agile Methodology is to produce the best possible solution for the customers with the least amount of unneeded requirements being placed on the development team. Enjoy your development.

Posted in Agile Methodology, Attitude, Code Reviews, Computers, Goals, SCRUM, SCRUM Methodology, Self-Worth, Serving, Software, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Code Reviews in a SCRUM

This is a little different than many of the items I have posted. But I do have four basic passions: Family, Computers, Health, and Personal Growth/Education. Today, I was thinking about SCRUM and how it relates to past software development methodologies. Since I do usually limit these posts to a single major topic, today is SCRUM and Code Reviews.

Too often people think about a Code Review as a tedious, draw-out event that really has no place in a SCRUM. As I study the Agile process, I am realizing that code reviews are agile also and are an important part of a SCRUM. As Jason Cohen points out in Scrum and Code Review — they go together like beans and cornbread, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland (the co-founders of SCRUM) say that code is not “done” until it is code reviewed. As a side note, I would highly recommend Jalapeno Corn Bread. Making your code reviews a little more enlivened would not be a bad idea also.

In the 1970s and 1980s, structured development was desired. Structured Analysis and Design was developed to overcome the haphazard development methods used before then. Using SA/SD, every stage was very formal and required so many steps that the overhead prevented meaningful work to get done in a short amount of time. Because of this overhead, Agile programming came into favor. How can work be done in a reasonable amount of time? Unfortunately, some people thought that code reviews are part of the overhead. It is interesting that Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the developers of the SCRUM methodology, believe that code reviews are a vital part of the process. Code reviews often help find overlooked problems that could cause havoc later. They can also be used for educating new members of a team. Since the same person does not always work on the same piece of code, it is good to have several people aware of many sections of code. Code Reviews also help improve the consistency of code, improving “best practices” in coding and documentation, and increasing good communication within the team.

I like limiting the reviewers to one or two people. In reviewing critical code that affects many members of the team, larger reviews are required. In this case, I would suggest making this review a separate task or story to make sure it is done correctly. The purpose of the code review can vary. If the developers are new to the development environment, the language, or the application, it is good for a more experienced member of the team to review the code to identify common mistakes of newbies, to share algorithms that work well in the desired environment, or help improve the readability and compactness of the code (no, those are not mutually exclusive). If the developer is experienced, the newer member of the team can learn from the experienced developer and ask questions/make suggestions based on knowledge gained outside of the organization. Even more experienced engineers need to continue to learn.

The most common benefit of having a second person look at code is to spot problems that the developer may not see because errors not seen immediately become part of the “background” and are often overlooked until something in that section of the code changes. It is also much less expensive to find problems in the early stages of development instead of when the code is actually released. Remember that the same person does not always work on the same section of code. Having familiarity with different sections of the project helps each member be able to work on more sections and have a better knowledge of the entire product.

Where mutual code reviews are essential are dealing with code interfaces. If one developer has a function that is called by a second developer, they need to verify the calls match, that any “corner case” will not cause a problem, and that all the caller’s needs are handled properly by the called function.

Code reviews are to verify the functionality and help with the maintainability of the code. If coding tasks are kept to an average of one day to complete, code reviews are  a small part of that time and help improve the quality of the final product. To be “Done” a code review must take place.

Posted in Agile Methodology, Code Reviews, Computers, SCRUM, SCRUM Methodology, Software | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Twenty Are Needed, Four Are Essential

I enjoy writing articles in areas that interest me. These fall into four categories, Health, Computers, Education, and Travel. I am currently looking for a day-job in Software Engineering as well as creating other streams of income. Since many of the opportunities for maintaining our best health are with the products of network marketing companies, this article covers that topic. If in network marketing interests you, keep reading. If you are a techie and more interested in Computers, I promise that the next article will be more technical. For now, techies please go to the Computers tab.

Binary Compensation System

Binary enables you to work more closely with those whom you have brought in.

In network marketing, most “experts” say that you need at least twenty people in your organization to start making money and creating a revenue stream. Due to the various structures that different direct sales marketing organizations use, you  either work with those you bring into your organization or compete against them for new prospects.

The traditional method was the “wide” approach,where you have to get the twenty people yourself and put them directly under you. In the nineties, the binary system was developed. Depending on the set-up, you needed to get two to four people directly reporting to you and then you would help them build their businesses to bring in the 20+ people you need to succeed. I believe that the binary method promotes better cooperation between team members. In order to succeed, you must help those you bring into the organisation to succeed also. In a good plan, you receive not only the commission for sales under you, but also a bonus for the sales of those you bring into the organization. A compensation method that encourages people to help each other is the best compensation mechanism possible.

The best compensation plan is no good unless there is also a good product to go along with the plan. Looking back over the history of direct sales organizations, each year produces at most one to two new companies who are still in existence at least 10 years later. Many die out the first year, and unless there is a good line of products, most do not survive for the ten years. Check out the product lines. What is the research showing the quality of the products? If they are associated with health, are scientists standing behind the products or are they sponsored by marketing experts? Are the products so good that customers are willing to buy them without involvement in the networking portion of the business? Too often, at least the ones I have seen, if the founders are marketers they are interested in making the big bucks and promoting just the opportunities to “make a fortune.” Be aware of the opportunities and see if your gut tells you it really is a good opportunity. One gauge is how long the company has been in business and if it has grown each year since its founding? Another is based on the company’s products, do the products actually deliver what they promise. Again, check your research. There are various places you can check for quality and customer satisfaction. Ask the person who is telling you about the opportunity about both the products and the compensation plan.

The company with whom I work is in the health industry. It uses direct marketing because of the cost of bringing products to market in the more traditional manner. I also teach Business Marketing. In the traditional marketing methods, bringing a product to market usually includes prices that include 70-95% of the cost of the goods going to middle-men or final resellers. A good example are soft drinks. A manufacturer will receive about $0.02 for the syrup to create one soda fountain drink. How much do you pay for one at a restaurant. The rest of the cost goes to that middle-man or restaurant where you purchased the drink. This is an incentive to developers of new products to use direct sales to allow them to sell their products to the consumer for far less than the product would cost going through traditional channels.

Once you look at the binary system, then ask how fair it is to people who come in later. Some of the original binary systems did not put a limit on each of the binary cells. This would cause the original distributors to receive most of the compensation no matter how well a new distributor does. To me, it is far fairer to have a maximum earning on each binary cell. People would then be provided methods to acquire more binary cells, to allow them to continue to grow their business. In this method, the people who do the work, earn the money. Just being in a good place will allow you to earn a comfortable living. To grow more, you will have to continue to do the work.

In conclusion, the best network marketing opportunities are with a company that has a fair compensation plan and a fantastic product line. There are such companies out there. Write me, and I would be happy to share any information I may have.

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Posted in Binary Compensation, Direct Sales, Financial Health, Fulfilling Life, Goals, Health and Wellness, Network Marketing, Northern Colorado, Planning, Self-Worth, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

In decisions, use your GUT

I went to a workshop yesterday presented by Roben Graziadei of Net Result$, LLC. Her presentation was on using intuition, gut, that still small voice, the light of Christ, or whatever that guiding voice is called. Everyone has it, it just depends on what we do with that “still small voice.”  There are a few possible translation of GUT:

  • God’s Utmost Truth (Roben’s)
  • God’s Ultimate Truth (mine)
  • God’s Universal Truth (mine)
  • God’s Unvarnished Truth (mine)

It all comes down to the fact that we each have a “still small voice” (as Thomas Magnum used to always call it on Magnum P.I. ) that will be totally honest with us if we but listen. This is a concept that flows through the writings of many authors and is being crystalized by Roben in her work on “Instinctology.” She is bringing out a book and a course on the concepts of “Instinctology” which she presented a version of the course to us at IBMC College.   We all have had gut feelings at important moments of our lives. We either have followed those GUT instincts or we have not. There is often a difference in outcome based on which way we follow.


The best way to illustrate this is with one company. Roben has been a consultant with several different companies over her career. After many years of consulting high level managers, she asked them in a survey: “What is the biggest regret you have about your management decisions?” The overwhelming answer was “not following my gut.” At a later consultation, a CEO told her about what the board wanted him to do. The CEO was told that the profits and growth of the company were OK, but they wanted more dramatic growth for the fourth quarter. The board told the CEO to let go of one-third of the sales force at the start of the quarter and then perhaps rehire them in Q1. He was told he could not tell the employees of the possible hire-back. This would stop the flow of residual income from going to the sales representatives who were fired, saving the company enough money to satisfy the board. The CEO pondered this and just happened to be meeting with Roben. He told her about the decision and she simply asked him: “What decisions have you regretted the most?” At that point, he made up his mind to go to the board and refuse to fire the sales reps. He knew he could lose his job, but firing that many people would go totally against the philosophy of the company.  Only the board and upper-level managers knew about his decision. Somehow what he did was leaked to the sales-force and other employees.  The first quarter of the next year smashed all sales records. People respond well when you treat them well. Most companies do well when run by their founders, because the founders had to use their own gut instincts to get the company moving. This GUT instinct is often lost on the second and third generation CEOs.

Needed Input

Instincts are essential, backed-up by data and experience.

Instincts are essential, backed-up by data and experience.

GUT Instincts are essential, but they are not the only basis of decisions, you must also include data and experience. The reason why data and experience are essential is that we want to make sure that the decision is a sound decision and not just wishful thinking based on the way we want things to be.

We are all hit with promptings, it depends on what we do with those promptings. If we have children, then most likely we have been struck by a feeling to drop everything and go out and check on them if they are playing outside. I am grateful I did when I received such a prompting. These promptings can happen in the business world as well as our personal world. Both are important.


When an insight appears, at least write it down and then evaluate and ACT

Insights do come. What are you going to do with one? According to Roben, the best thing is to STOP and evaluate the prompting. During the evaluation, be sure to breathe. Come up with a solution and ACT as quickly as possible. Sometimes promptings come that are urgent but they are not that important. Be sure to apply Dr. Stephen Covey’s quadrants to make sure it is both Urgent and Important.

If the decision that your instincts tell you needs to be made, then use your time wisely and just get it done. Remember that in your decision process to consider what would be best for the people involved. As we serve others, we best serve ourselves. Please remember the story above as an example of a Good GUT instinct.


The importance of education

Knowing how to best use your GUT instincts requires a good, well-rounded education. Keep learning and keep honing your use of your good instincts. As you use them more and see positive results, you will become more confident in the process. As John Wooden says, be your best and you need to worry about no one else.

To better understand the concepts Roben has developed, please visit her website at

Posted in Attitude, Divergent Thinking, Fulfilling Life, Goals, Health and Wellness, Mentor, Planning, Self-Worth, Serving, Thinking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Crisis becomes a “dangerous” Opportunity if you give of yourself

portrait WW CookI am listening to a series of commentaries on the teachings of Jim Rohn through Success Magazine. The one to which I listened today was by Denis Waitley.1 He covered a discussion that Jim Rohn had about the Chinese characters for the word “Crisis” In Mandarin, they are 危機. Separating them to 危 機, it becomes Dangerous Machine. When you add your own will (會) to the “machine” part, it becomes opportunity (機會). Putting them together, adding your will to a crisis will give you a dangerous opportunity (危 and 機會). Ackownledged that Chinese is not read left to right, so I cannot write this as a proper sentence. However, if I separate the two concepts they become clear as to each of their meanings. To create a true opportunity, or chance, the danger has to be managed. That can be done. From any crisis, adding your own will and controlling the danger will create an opportunity.

Everyone goes through some setbacks in life. What we do with those dangerous opportunities makes us who we are. It can be a bit scary going through the crisis, but we will each be better at the end if we use our God-given will to manage the danger and create the opportunity. For example, with the recent downsizing of IBMC College, where I teach, it has given me the opportunity to re-ignite my interest in Computers. I am learning and relearning so much. It will help me in that area. It has also given me the opportunity to start writing what I have always wanted to write. When my sons were younger, I told them Matthew and Aron Railway System stories every night when they went to bed. We all looked forward to those stories. I have finally written the first book in the series. If nothing else, it will be a great gift for our granddaughters. Aaron is earning a Masters in Civil Engineering with an emphasis on the various aspects of engineering with regard to constructing and maintaining railroads. I have asked my sister to illustrate it, if she has the time. She is a great artist, so I do look forward to her illustrations.

When a crisis happens, we can feel sorry for ourselves or we can have the attitude of abundance and see the opportunities that are opening up to ourselves. Have the will to open the opportunities will help us achieve what we want out of life. And it will, most likely, benefit others. What do each of us want out of life? I know that I want to make a difference and I can only do that by planning what I want to do and doing it. May you turn every crisis in your life into an opportunity to serve others and grow in all ways that are important to you.


1. If you are interested in Chinese-American relations, I would highly recommend Denis Waitley’s book The Dragon and The Eagle; Hansen House Publishing, Newport Beach, CA; 2008; ISBN: 978-0-9815058-0-0 or ISBN: 978-0-9815058-1-7

Posted in Attitude, Computers, Financial Health, Fulfilling Life, Goals, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Make Each Day Your Masterpiece” – John Wooden

As I grow older, I look for people I really admire and from whom I may learn. Sitting still, no matter what my age, is not an option. John Wooden Masterpiece I am going through a course on Jim Rohn through Success magazine with my son, Matthew, and a video about the life of John Wooden was a bonus. What a bonus. John Wooden was an amazing teacher. He considered himself a teacher and not a coach. His philosophy was to give 100% to every day. Coach Wooden also lived by the standards he expected from his players. Each year he had an individual plan for each player. Having coached basketball, I really admire his work ethic. If someone was not putting out 100% and working as a member of the team, that person would not play. Coach Wooden never looked at game tapes of other teams, he only wanted his team to be their very best, both as a team and as individuals. His philosophy is to play/do the best a player can. I know that if I do my best, I can accept the outcome no matter what it may be.

Through what he was taught by his father and his coaches in high school and college, he developed a very successful philosophy of life. He developed his pyramid of success John Wooden Pyramid of Success which he shared with each person he coached/taught. If you are interested in learning more, there is a free online course titled The Wooden Effect. The first video is excellent. Being a fourth generation Hoosier, I have been interested in basketball all of my life and find this a useful

Posted in Attitude, Divergent Thinking, Financial Health, Fulfilling Life, Goals, Health and Wellness, Mentor, Planning, Self-Worth, Thinking, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Live a Fulfilling Life

cropped-portrait-copy.jpgLife is too short. I am not sure where the time has gone, but it flies by so quickly. There is an old saying that one should live with no regrets. Unfortunately, you think about what you say even to yourself. My new motto is to “Live a Fulfilled Life.” Each day we are faced with decisions. Each of us have only 24 hours in a day, unless we are travelling east (with the exception of crossing the international date line). What do we do with those hours? Do we do what is urgent and unimportant or do we try to take care of the tasks that are important first. I strive to take the long-term approach, but sometimes that is hard. Today, I am writing this post, working with my son on reviewing some of the lessons that Jim Rohn gave, cleaning up the rotten apples under our tree and figuring out what to do with those that are still good, reading with my family, and teaching a math class tonight in Greeley. There is quite a bit to do, but it will get done if I use my time wisely.

Yesterday, I met with a friend and the CSU Computer Science department. It made me realize how much I enjoy Working with computers, as long as I can work with people also. He told me that another good friend who started the PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania with me is now retiring from his Professorship. There are two major times in my life that I just let life happen and I did not make the right decision for me. Since I did allow those times to happen, I cannot regret what happened. I can only learn from them and not make the same mistake again. Those who are still young, I would highly recommend looking at where you are right now, looking at your options, weigh the good and bad of each path, and choose very wisely, Life will happen and time will pass, decisions will be made for you if you do not make them for yourself.

The question is, who is in charge of your own life. Are you in charge and make the best decisions for yourself or do you let circumstances and others make those decisions for you. There are some circumstances that require specific decisions, but even then you always have some leeway in which to make life better for yourself and all around you. It has been an interesting few months. On 1 April, I was downsized where I teach. This has given me the opportunity to refresh my computer skills. I have received a C# certification and am now a Certified SCRUM Master. I am currently reviewing LINUX, Python, and JAVA. I have reviewed JavaScript and C++ and have been creating a Computers  tab on those subjects on this website. It has been fun. Then in August, Matthew came down with vertigo. This means that he cannot continue his job for now. In order to make sure we have money coming into the house to continue living here, we have started a SUCCESS magazine course on the teachings of Jim Rohn. It is a group of videos that feature his teachings, along with commentaries by the motivational speakers of today that were mentored by him. It is well worth the time.

Also, in “The Leadership Experience” [1] book I am using to teach Leadership in our college, there is a Consider This list that has some interesting thoughts on how to treat life:

  1. You will receive a body. You may like it or not, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.
  2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time, informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.
  3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error, experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works.”
  4. A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it; then you can go on to the next lesson[2]
  5. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.
  6. “There” is no better than “here.” When your “there” has become a “here,” you will simply obtain another “there” that will, again, look better than “here.”
  7. Others are merely mirror of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or have about yourself.
  8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need; what you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
  9. The answers lie inside you. The answers to life’s questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.[3]
  10. Whether you think you can or can’t, in either case you’ll be right. Think about it.

One of the main lessons we have learned from this is to give freely. What we give to the world will come back to us. In conjunction with this, Matthew and I have set up a free e-mail list where interesting articles on health and life are sent on a regular basis.  I really enjoy reading the articles that it posts and have learned quite a bit.

Please lead a fulfilling life and do good to/for yourself and all those around you.

[1] “The Leadership Experience, Richard L. Daft, Cengage Learning, 2015, ISBN-13: 978-1-4354-6285-4

[2] My NOTE: this has been the toughest one for me.

[3] My NOTE: we are all born with a special light that will guide us if we but listen.

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FEAR – False Evidence – Action Required

I have an old enough vehicle that all it has is a cassette tape player, so I took out a groupportrait WW Cook of motivation tapes and started listening to them on a long drive. One side was by Jeremy Stansfield talking about the effects of fear. His definition of fear was the basis of the title of this article. His definition was “False Evidence Appearing Real.” Things in our lives may appear to be more difficult than they really are or we are frozen in our own steps so that we cannot achieve what we truly desire. How many times in our lives have we really wanted something, but were afraid to do what was needed to achieve that goal? If we want to overcome our own fear, we need to plan and do what it takes to overcome that fear. It could be talking in front of large groups of people, it could be being alone with someone we like a lot (before we were married). There are all sorts of triggers to our fears. It could be as simple as forgetting what we wanted to say at a 2nd grade show-and-tell, or it could be a big presentation we tried to give at a major event. Either way can build in a fear that we might fail again. Unfortunately, too often, the fear comes from trying to do something we have never done before. The way I overcome this is thinking back on a time when I tried something new and succeeded. Jeremy talks about learning how to waterski. For me, it was just deciding to go out and learn how to ride a bicycle in one day. When I think about doing something new that is hard in my field, I think about the first three days of my Masters program in Computer Science. I had only written assembler and FORTRAN code on paper tape and punch cards. On Monday we were give an assignment to write five LISP programs and use a terminal to store them and turn them into the professor via a drop-box by Wednesday. That was a fun three (actually two) days. It is amazing how even related experiences might leave us a bit afraid. For example, I have talked at technical conferences in front of 1,000 engineers. I really did enjoy that experience. But presenting my business to a friend and new acquaintances can give me quite a few butterflies.

The only way I have learned to get over my fears is to take action. Practice is one of the keys. Another is listening to people we admire in order to improve ourselves. There are a few people that everyone knows that are excellent motivators. The more I read, the more I realize that Jim Rohn is one person whom most of the motivational speakers I know truly admire. I am listening to his tapes as much as possible. He would be the first person to point out that action is the only way to overcome fear. Jim is a big advocate of keeping a journal and setting goals with measuring techniques to track how you are achieving those goals. I am working with my son to build our business. We will have daily meetings where we can discuss daily goals and hold each other accountable. Good luck (and skill) with all that you do.

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What Are You Worth?

Too often we consider our own worth based on our income, health/looks, companions, occupation, ethnic heritage, age, gender, or any other number of items and thoughts. These might have some influence on us, but none of them are who we truly are. As a Child of God, we each have infinite worth. Deep inside, it is our own thoughts that give or take away our value. Each of us only has 24 hours per day. What are our thoughts when we are awake? What are our dreams when we are asleep? Are we living in the past, are we living in the future, or are we planning for the future and living in the present? For me, only one of these three options makes any sense. We have all made mistakes, otherwise we have never tried. Some mistakes may be more haunting than others, but this should be used for learning since it is impossible to go back and change what we have done or not done in the past. I personally feel that too many of my mistakes have been mistakes of omission and not commission. Not making a decision or doing something I knew was the right thing to do is more devastating that trying something and failing. Through  failure, we do learn, without trying, there can be no success or failure and thus no learning. The lack of a decision is often tied to the self-worth we have for ourselves. “The worst thing one can do is not to try, to be aware of what one wants and not give in to it, to spend years in silent hurt wondering if something could have materialized – never knowing.” ― Jim Rohn[1]

There are some key words that have been floating around about how to improve our own self-worth. What is my passion (what do I truly love to do), what is my purpose (we all have a higher purpose for our lives, how do we find and implement that), intent (we must decide on what we need to do and know why this action is important to us), and having long term and shorter term SMART goals. Daily goals that fit into our weekly, monthly, yearly, and long term goals are important. Our self-worth increases when we set and measure those goals. If we share those goals and have ourselves and others hold ourselves accountable, there is no real limit on what we can achieve. Just as a reminder SMART Goals are:


S Specific – state exactly what you want to accomplish.
M Measurable – state exactly how you will be able to measure when the task is accomplished.
A Attainable – set a target that is a stretch goal but is physically attainable.
R Realistic – is the goal something you want to and can achieve?
T Timely- set an exact date for when this goal will be met.

We are paid what we are worth to others, we earn what we are worth to ourselves. What is your self-worth? If any of us believe we can do better, then we need to follow Jim Rohn’s advice: “You cannot change your destination overnight. You can change your direction.” A railcar being switched in Chicago only changes direction slightly, but can end up in New York City or in New Orleans. We each need to know where we want to be and change our direction enough each day to reach that destination. Best wishes on achieving your dreams.


[1] – All Jim Rohn quotes are from Good Reads’ Jim Rohn Quotes page.

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