We received a card the other day and in the card, and they mentioned that they missed my blogs. It was not my intention to stop blogging, it’s just that my health issues have left me with the inability of producing weekly blogs as I have done for years. It takes more “thinking” than I have the ability to accomplish and it has left me with typing skills that are almost non-existent. That lead me to remember those “first” things I ever did. Much of the world was ahead of me on many of these fronts but they were “firsts” for me.
Typing Class in High School
I attended a very small high school. One of the skills I thought would be useful for me in college and beyond was typing so I joined my high school typing class. I was the only boy in the room and because I was the fastest and most accurate I was at the head of my class. Unfortunately, that upset the girls in the class as they prepared to become secretaries and typists in the business world. They didn’t have a lot of opportunities in the business world when we were graduating.
Survey Class in My First Couple Years of College
One of my early classes in college was a survey class. At the time we would have to go into the field and run a survey circuit. We would make notes during the survey and then return to the classroom and use a hand crank Friden Calculator to check all of our notes and make sure our math “closed.” If your work “closed,” great. If not, back to the field to start over. It was very time-consuming and I felt I needed to find a better way.
I had started to hear about a Curta Calculator on the road race circuit. They used it to calculate the speed needed to hit their next point as accurately as possible. Now I could go into the field, take all my notes, then sit under a tree and use my Curta to check my math. I still own my Curta over 50 years later.
Structural Steel (Walking)
My first job out of engineering school was walking structural steel on a power plant. I worked as high as 160′ in the air. That’s approximately a 16-story building. Back then, there was no safety harness belt or any netting below me. Just me, the breeze, my instruments, and an 8-inch beam to walk on. It was a terrifying experience but I had a wise chief engineer.
When I went to him after that first day of terror and told him I couldn’t do that, he asked me to spend two weeks doing the best I could at my job up on the steel. If I still wanted off the steel, he would find me another job to accomplish. His wisdom came with the fact that after two weeks, I could do the job. There were still terrifying moments but I learned a great deal about facing my fears and what my fears were.
I had finished my bachelor’s degree at Michigan on a slide rule. I still own my Pickett from those days. Several years later I was teaching a course in the graduate engineering school at the University of Utah. None of the students had seen or touched a computer yet. I introduced them to computers and had them working on a program for scheduling that I had hired a friend of mine to write. Soon after, microcomputers were introduced and the computer age began.
In the late 90s, a company called Research in Motion (RIM) introduced what they called the Blackberry. I was blown away. RIM introduced the Blackberry publically in late 1999 (December?). I purchased my first one within months of that introduction.
Consulting with Executives
After years in engineering and software, I decided that I wanted to become a consultant. I started with a partner who has been in the business and learned “the ropes.” Eventually, I struck out on my own and named my company TLC standing for Team, Leadership, Culture.
I was working with one of my first CEOs and we had just finished a session with members of his teams from around the world. It was just him and me in his office that evening and he said,
- You helped me to build that global team more than I could have imagined.
- You’ve taught me more about being a leader than I’ve ever seen in the leaders I’ve worked for.
- Today you helped me build more of that into the culture of the company than I could believe.
At that point, I was feeling pretty good about my TLC company. Then he said, “Dut your real value is…”!! I was shaken. I couldn’t imagine what he was talking about. He had just covered every point of TLC. He finished, “Your real value is when we talk like this.” That’s when I learned that corporate leaders needed someone they could talk with, someone they could trust, and someone they could express their fears with. That was my greatest value.
Dictate in Word
Because of the deterioration of my typing skills I needed to find a new way to create blogs other than just typing them out. I discovered that Microsoft Word has a dictate section. I’m now learning how to talk with MS Word and convert it into text for publishing my blogs.
I’m sure there are others but the ones that came to mind for this blog included:
- Typing Class
- Survey Class
- Learning about my fears on the structural steel
- Computers and Blackberrys
- Being a sounding board for executives
- Converting my spoken word to the written word
Our “firsts” help determine who we are. They shape us and form us. Think about the “firsts” you’re accomplished or even walked away from. You’ll discover a lot about who you are.
So happy to read your blog. I always find myself stopped in my tracks to read, completely undisturbed, and fully focused on what you are saying. Always a learning read for me – thank you for these ‘Firsts’