The Entrepreneurial Engineer

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Is hiring obsolete?

An old post at 106miles asks this question here. An abstract by Paul Graham states the following:
Most CS undergrads hope to get a good job when they graduate. But as the age of startup founders creeps downward, I foresee an alternative path for the most ambitious: instead of going to work for Microsoft, start a startup and make Microsoft buy it to get you.
Regardless whether graduating engineers do a startup right out of school, they would be well advised to treat their employment history as a process of building a portfolio (to use Charles Handy's term) that highlights exemplary work product and marketable skills. In today's changeful workplace, a strong portfolio can lead to traditional, startup, and freelance opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable.

Man's search for meaning

A recent discussion with the elder penguin (see here) about the meaning of life led me to reread Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. In it, Frankl, psychotherapist and founder of the 3rd Viennese school of psychoanalysis or logotherapy (meaning therapy) discusses his personal experience surviving the horror of the Nazi concentration camps and how search for meaning is a guiding principle of human mental health. In this reading, I was struck by how logotherapy may be viewed as a forerunner of the more recent positive psychology movement of Seligman and others (see here). Chapter 3 of The Entrepreneurial Engineer touches on these issues by focusing on personal mission, values, goals, and vocation (see here).

Peter principle plus one-to-three

The other day coming home from Nagoya, I was reflecting on several university administrators and wondering why a number of them seem to be one to three levels above their Peter level. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, The Peter Principle is
The theory that employees within an organization will advance to their highest level of competence and then be promoted to and remain at a level at which they are incompetent.
In Peter's time the rule made sense and was almost self-evident, but at present it seems as though many individuals punch through their level of incompetence (their Peter level) and are able to rise one to three levels higher.

If this is so, we must ask why, and the most obvious answer is that promotion, at least in academic circles, is no longer strongly tied to the value "competence." Indeed the academy is a postmodern ideological muddle, a point made by Victor Davis Hanson here. Regardless, keep an eye on your leaders and see whether they are competent (a transient state), incompetent (the modern de facto equilibrium), or plus one-three of the Peter level (the postmodern norm).

Monday, December 19, 2005

TEE Chapter 5 TOC

Chapter 5, Write for Your Life, will appear in the Wiley book, The Entrepreneurial Engineer, next year:
5 Write for Your Life
5.1 Engineers, Root Canal, and Writing
5.2 Why Many Engineers Don't Like to Write
5.3 The Prime Directive of Writing: Just Write
5.3.1 Freewriting
5.3.2 Directed Writing for the Real World
5.4 Getting the Content and Organization Right
5.4.1 The Primary Structure of Business Writing: B-P-R
5.4.2 Lists and Amplification: A Technical Writer's Best Friend
5.4.3 Sectioning, Titles, and Headings
5.4.4 Summaries, Conclusions, and Distinguishing the Difference
5.5 Edifying Editing
5.6 Improving Your Writing
Summary
Exercises
Stay tuned here for publication information.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Father and son entrepreneurial engineering tag team

Advice to young engineers from a father-son tag team here.

VC Funding: Israel vs. Europe

Interesting post at the Venture Captial Cafe about VC funding in Israel vs. Europe here. He also has a nice post about profiting from blogs here.

TEE Chapter 4 TOC

Chapter 4 of The Entrepreneurial Engineer is about time management:
4 Getting Organized and Finding Time
4.1 Time and Its Lack
4.2 Effective Ways to Waste Time
4.3 Seven Keys to Time Management
4.3.1 A Place for Everything
4.3.2 Work for Mr. To Do
4.3.3 Sam Knows: Just Do It
4.3.4 A Trash Can Is a Person’s Best Friend
4.3.5 Tuning Your Reading
4.3.6 Managing Interruptions
4.3.7 Getting Help
Summary
Exercises
I get lazy from time to time and have to reread the chapter to get myself back on track.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

All marketers are liars

is the title of Seth Godin's new book (see here), and I am struck by the truth of his thesis that stories can be more powerful than facts in the course of my work with a new startup. In the early days of a startup there is little in the way of concrete accomplishment and the story of the founding, the story of the vision, and the story of the people associated with the form are the basis for any and all investment and decision making. Those founding myths probably could be subjected to Campbellian style analysis, but they are powerful and are the life force of a new venture as much as the technology, product development, and business development activities in the early days.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

TEE chapter 3 TOC

Here is the full table of contents for chapter 3 of The Entrepreneurial Engineer, Money, Work, and You:
3 Money, Work, and You
3.1 Money, Moola, the Big Bucks
3.2 The Roads to Wealth: 4 Dinner Table Platitudes
3.3 Hidden Lesson #1: Engagement
3.3.1 Why Engagement Matters
3.3.2 Matching Your Vocational Impedance
3.4 Hidden Lesson #2: Courage
3.4.1 Locus of Control: Internal versus External
3.4.2 Exploring Courage
3.5 Tactical Lessons of Handling Money
3.5.1 Spending and Earning Styles
3.5.2 Spending-Earning Impedance
3.5.3 Investing, Saving, and Thrift
3.6 Get a Life
3.7 Plotting Your Course: Values, Mission, and Goals
3.7.1 Creating a Personal Values Statement
3.7.2 Writing a Personal Mission Statement
3.7.3 Setting Goals
I think this chapter was especially popular in Harrisburg.

TEE material well received in Harrisburg

My Joy of Engineering seminar in Harrisburg was well received. One of the participants wrote the following:
I have been attending engineering meetings...in Central PA for about 25 years. This event was by far the most informative and> inspiring I have experienced.

My post about that workshop is here.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Blogging styles

For those interested in blogging itself, I have posted a number of interesting links over at IlliGAL Blogging here.