Tag Archives: problem solving

Experts, Gurus, “Mentors,” and Ninjas

They are everywhere. Experts, Gurus, “Mentors,” and Ninjas, oh my! They yell at you from autoplay Facebook videos. They fill your inbox with promises of riches. They twitter bomb you with endless inspirational quotes. They fill your physical mailbox with post cards selling their “must attend” LIVE events. And, you hire them and consult with them all the time.

Dan Shapiro, CEO and Co-founder of Glowforge and author of Hot Seat: The StartUp CEO Guidebook, even pointed out a new and growing problem in a recent interview I did with him for my podcast. “Mentors tend to give a lot of conflicting advice. At Techstars they have a phrase, ‘mentor whiplash,’ for all the opposite and conflicting advice that entrepreneurs get.” Continue reading

There’s Just Something About Paper

Composition of multiple cardboard paper sheets as an abstract background compositionMy battalion commander had tasked me with the responsibility of conducting an “officer professional development” training program for all the officers in our combat engineer unit. This was a first for me. My responsibility included coordinating the logistics for the field trip to a famous battlefield, developing all the materials to help my fellow officers learn the lessons of the fight, and become knowledgeable enough to answer the questions they would shoot my way.

I was very nervous. A few months before I had wowed them with a Harvard Graphics (precursor to Microsoft PowerPoint) presentation at the Officer’s Club. The topic was the capabilities of the North Korean Army. The officers were stunned by the new technology I was using. I used a liquid crystal display device that projected my presentation onto a screen. This was new technology in 1994. And it took a longtime to create and set up.

So when we were on the field trip to the battlefield, I could not use the new fancy equipment. There were no plugs and no electricity, just 30 people in the middle of some rice paddies. I was relegated to an old standby we called, “butcher block” paper, on an aluminum stand. Today we know this as “flip chart” paper. I felt my creative juices flowing as I reenacted the battle on paper with colored pencils, crayons, and markers. Continue reading