The Entrepreneurial Engineer

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Embracing mistakes

In reading a post at Texas Startup Blog on embracing mistakes (here), I was reminded of an experience on campus last week. I've been on a campus committee looking at doing something fairly entrepreneurial and one of the committee members keeps fussing about "doing it right" and "not making mistakes." My reaction each time is that this person is the wrong person on the wrong committee at the wrong time.

To be an entrepreneur IS to make mistakes because you're off doing something others aren't doing. Moreover, the easiest way not to make mistakes is to never do anything. This is a theme in Chapter 3 of The Entrepreneurial Engineer, which cites sources as different as Stanley's studies of millionaires, Seligman's studies of learned optimism and helplessness, and Rotter's work on locus of control, internals, and externals. Assuming that people are vigilant against making mistakes (thereby striving to hold constant or reduce the number of mistakes they make), the number of mistakes one makes is an indicator of productivity or an indicator of daring (one makes more mistakes doing something new). Either way, making mistakes is usually a positive indicator for the entrepreneurial engineer.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

One night in Cincinnati

I didn't know that one of the benefits of being Chief Scientist for a VC-backed company was that I got my name up in the left field lights of Cincinnati Reds stadium. See the video here.

Entrepreneurial academics

Swamp Fox Insights has a post about a Kauffman foundation award given to Professor Toby Stuart at Harvard for research that examines the circumstances that support faculty members become entrepreneurial. The original papers are available here.

Urgency versus importance

Stephen Covey makes the distinction between activities that are urgent versus those that are important and goes on to draw a quad chart along the dimensions of whether something is or isn't urgent or important. The distinction is an interesting one in that it connects to those things that you value internally or that are valued by others externally.

A life driven by important-urgent matters signals a vocational impedance match between your career and your values. A life driven by the urgency of matters that you find relatively unimportant signals a life lived in reaction to the things that others think are important. A life driven by unimportant matters that lack urgency is a life of frivolity and caprice. A life without spending time on matters that are important and not urgent is a life with limited personal growth.

Each of the quadrants signals important information to the entrepreneurial engineer regarding the crucicial match between the internal self and external life he or she is living.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

TEE & online public relations

Over the past few weeks, I've used the online press release service www.prweb.com to promote The Entrepreneurial Engineer. The results have been astounding. Since the initial posting 3 September, I have received 59,020 reads of the press release, 514 pickups by journalists/media outlets, 4 prints, and 53 pdf downloads.

The service www.prweb.com is free; however, I used the $120 upgrade that gave the press release good visibility in major news search engines such as Google News and Yahoo News.

To use the service, simply go to PRWeb's site, sign up for an account, and start a press release. It's easy to use, with minimal extraneous data entry required. After submission, the press release goes and gets an editorial score. Certain kinds of services require a score of at least 4 out of a maximum of 5. The press release here, received a 4.

The response has been very good and it is still coming. As a direct result of this press release, the following articles appeared (see here and here). Last week, I was asked to write a short article on non-technical issues for a major engineering magazine with 50,000 readers, and the article was accepted for publication Monday. In addition, ordinary web searches show that the book has been picked up on dozens of product and book sites that did not carry information about the book prior to the press release.

Given this response, I'm now a believer in this form of public relations. It gives terrific bang for the buck.

TEE on front page of Daily Illini

An article about the book, The Entrepreneurial Engineer, appeared on the front page of the Daily Illini, the student newspaper of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Check it (here).

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

TEE reviewed in Electronic Design

David Maliniak reviews The Entrepreneurial Engineer in Electronic Design:
Goldberg’s writing style is conversational and highly readable; the book carries enough illustrative material to amplify its points. All told, it’s a worthy read for anyone thinking of striking out on their own as an entrepreneurial engineer.

See the whole review here.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A license to learn

One of the points I make in chapter two of The Entrepreneurial Engineer is that an engineering education is a license to learn.

A common myth is that engineering involves the education of a narrow specialist, but we live in the most technological of centuries to date, and in case some haven’t not noticed, the centroid of human knowledge has shifted. Analysis of the typical engineering degree finds a balance of (a) humanities, (b) social science, (c) science, (d) mathematics, and (e) major coursework in a technical specialty.

The average liberal arts degree by comparison stuffs much into the first two categories, requires only a smattering of courses in science and math, and no coursework in technology at all. Far from being narrow, the average undergraduate engineering major has a balanced curriculum that gives him or her a lifelong license to learn. Where the average liberal-arts undergraduate is closed out of whole swaths of human knowledge, especially those involving math, science, and technology, the engineering graduate can feel comfortable picking up almost any text on any topic, knowing that the fundamental coursework of their high school and college education give them the tools to read, learn, and grow.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sense of beauty

Started Santayana's The Sense of Beauty this weekend. Clear thought wrapped in lovely prose. Picked it up while browsing philosophy aisle at Barnes & Noble (see here). B&N has low-cost reprints of classic texts that make building a philosophy library somewhat less costly.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Entrepreneurial Engineer is out

I received my first copy of The Entrepreneurial Engineer in today's mail. See a press release about the book here. Order your copy at Amazon (here) or Wiley (here). The Wiley site appears to have the book in stock.