PERSONAL SITE AND BLOG

GOOFBALL

I'll never apologize for being a little bit weird... I work hard so I can afford to play even harder and get the most out of life.

HUSKER

Growing up in Nebraska during the 80's and 90's made it easy to fall in love with college football. Going to school in Lincoln sealed the deal.

OUTDOORSY

Spending time on the mountains, at the lake or simply camping on a nice evening is my idea of a great time

IN LOVE

I have the pleasure of living my life with someone who adores me, makes me laugh and pushes me to do the best in everything.

I started life on a Christmas Tree farm in Nebraska where my parents raised me and 3 younger brothers. After graduating from the University of Nebraska, I met my lovely wife and moved to Kansas City where we currently reside.

  • MOBILE

    EXPERT

    I stumbled upon my passion for mobile technology during college working in a retail store as the first camera phones were hitting the market, internet on your phone was stil a wild concept. Since then, I’ve focused my career on becoming an expert in marketing apps and services.

    I’m extremely EXCITED about the future of Mobile Commerce, Communication, Engagement, Gaming and how Parental Controls will play a role

  • CREATIVE

    THINKER

    I pride myself on thinking differently. Finding creative solutions to every day problems is one of my favorite ways to spend a day. Whether it’s through freelance consulting work, my day job or tackling boring tasks I always look for a better way.

    Some may call me an IDEALIST, I tell those people thank you.

  • SOCIAL

    NETWORKER

    I’ve always looked for roles where my people skills can thrive. Working in retail, waiting tables, tending bar and representing Sprint into indirect retailers like Radio Shack and Best Buy have given me the confidence to build relationships, present to large audiences and matrix manage groups of people.

    Surrounding myself with talented, energetic and DIVERSE personalities in my personal and professional life has made me the person I am today. I have strong parents, fantastic brothers and amazing mentors/friends that I lean on daily.

  • LOOKING

    FOR WHAT'S NEXT

    I’ve learned a lot this far in life, but I like to shake things up when things start to feel too comfortable. Growing up professionally in the mobile industry, I’ve seen revolutionary changes over the last decade.

    Knowing that CHANGE is the only constant, I like to stay up to date on upcoming trends and understand how to handle them by staying well read on marketing theory, customer behavior and business strategy from thought leaders in each space.

I rely heavily on the KNOWLEDGE of others. Below is a collection of people, books, videos, quotes, concepts and more that inform my point of view

I'm a pretty big GEEK, so prepare yourself for that. For the most part, I'll talk about Marketing, Mobile Tech, Bourbon and my experiences with the preceding

  • WILLPOWER AND THE PEOPLE CHEERING YOU ON

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Leadership, Life Lessons

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    A lot has been made of this dog’s problem solving skills while some may fuss that the person filming is being cruel to animals. I can empathize with the dog at many points throughout the video and watching it makes me downright emotional.

    Early in the video, Theo (the dog) shows frustration, you can hear him whimper a bit. He tries taking a step back to see if maybe he’s just not going fast enough….that doesn’t help. He lifts his head up higher, but the bridge’s railings are too high. Theo’s owner continues to cheer him on from afar. She could easily fix this problem for him but she doesn’t and he lets out another whimper.

    Finally a random twist of the head and the end of the stick hits the bridge as he’s backing away…inspiration strikes. He takes a step back and enters the bridge with the stick at an angle and sails smoothly through with just a couple bumps along the railing.

    —————————–

    For me, the demonstration of willpower is what is most remarkable in this video. You can feel Theo fighting his natural impulse to take the easy way out all because he wants that damn stick on the other side of the bridge so badly.

    Theo could have easily dropped the stick and continued on the walk…maybe he would have found another one. He could have walked around the bridge and maybe been a little muddy. What was it that made him push just a little harder, to struggle just a few more moments to make it happen?

    —————————–

    I don’t know much about Theo’s videographer but she doesn’t sound unpleasant…in fact she sounds extremely nice. She was encouraging Theo along the way and while she could have helped out…she didn’t. Picking up the stick and walking it across would breed dependency and Theo’s friend is trying to show him that he has the will to do what it takes.

    Hopefully you’re surrounded by people like this in life. You probably grew up around them. An encouraging father, a tough love moment from your mom, a stern warning from a relative…who’s pushing you today?

    I had a chance to hang out with a good friend today who always has this effect on me. Alana is a person I admire and is more than comfortable encouraging me to keep crossing the bridge. She’s been there before and probably knows how to get across but doing it her way would only make me more dependent on others.

    One isn’t always better than the other, but recognize when the people around you just need someone to believe in them. Listen to the joy in the woman’s voice at the 45 second mark…probably my favorite part of the video.

  • MY FRIEND CHARLIE – CREATING COMMUNITY WHERE IT DOESN’T EXIST

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Kansas City, Life Lessons

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    I found myself somewhat enamored with the odd looking character off to the side of the room.  From across the expansive lobby of the Kansas City Star building he clearly stood out in the crowd but it was apparent standing out in a crowd was nothing new for this guy.  Amongst the attendees of the 2014 Middle of the Map Festival Forum was Charlie Mylie, an artist who donned a sequin vest and a matching bowtie, shrouded by the robe of a wizard.  On top of his had a gilded dunce cap covering up a head of curly dyed hair and his water color stained fingers were hard at work making people’s wildest dreams come to life on a 4×6″ postcard.

    Had you asked me in that moment whether or not I would want to spend time with this person….I probably would have told you “sure, why not.”  If you would tell me that this person would be someone I would soon consider a friend…I would call that improbable.

    ————————————————–

    So I find myself sitting in a bar, patiently waiting for Charlie to show up.  I don’t remember how we came to exchange contact info but it happened and we were going to have a beer together.  In he walks, this time not in a wizard’s outfit but definitely not dressed like me.  He’s brought his fiancé Lindsey who is also an artist (possibly for comfort…I imagine him telling her how strange I dressed and that he didn’t want to show up alone).  Over the next hour or two (I lost track) we had one of the best conversations I’ve had in a bar.  Though our skill-sets couldn’t be further apart our dreams and desires were eerily aligned.

    We talked about my new career path and my desire to discover a side of KC people don’t experience every day, they talked about swimming in the fountains of the mansions on Cliff Drive.  I discussed my journey to Las Vegas to visit the Downtown Project and they talked about their friends wedding where they canoed down the Missouri from Omaha to KC to hold the ceremony on KAW point.  I told them about my mission to make Kansas City a destination young people are proud to call home and they said the exact same thing about young, up and coming artists who see New York as the desirable destination to be “discovered.”

    We were worlds apart and neighbors at the same time…

    ————————————————–

    Charlie and I have stayed in contact but out of the blue he sent me an email this week and we decided to get together.  The last time we met I showed him one of my new favorite places, The Belfry, a new bar in the Crossroads District.  Tonight he suggested we throw darts at the Blarney Stone, a dive bar outside of Westport.  The record stopped when I walked in the door.  Counting the bartender, I was the 4th person in the place and it was apparent to them that I didn’t belong.  No problem, I ordered a Boulevard Pale and sat down.  Charlie walked in 2 minutes later, was greeted by name and he promptly ordered a pitcher of PBR for only $2 more than my pint.

    Minutes later his friend Tim walked in (a photographer) and ordered the same thing…clearly I was an amateur.  We threw darts, drank beer and continued to bond over similar interests.  None of us were great at darts but the three of us excelled at getting the most out of our dollars at the juke box finding excessively long guitar solos within classic songs (7 minutes and 28 seconds of The Allman Brother’s Jessica was my pick).

    We talked about our days and I found myself growing green with envy at these two guys who will do just about anything, but spend most of their time on what they love.  I’ve been searching for a long time for something I can refer to as my craft and these guys are constantly crafting.  I have been swinging a hammer lately in my spare time trying to rediscover the pride of building something with my hands.  Tim remarked that he probably needs to do a little less of what he loves so he doesn’t have to swing a hammer to pay the bills (he spent a lot of the day outdoors today, the coldest day of the year, doing physical labor).

    We enjoyed the company, had more than a few genuine laughs and most importantly agreed to make this happen again.

    ————————————————–

    Community is an amazing thing, most likely one of the most powerful abilities all living things on this planet have developed.  It can galvanize people of similar backgrounds, interests or locations.  It creates a sense of belonging and can build momentum behind movements.  It is a way of sharing knowledge, developing core values and creating culture.  

    Most often, we consider community a group of people who have something in common.  Truly powerful communities have much more to do with diversity than they do with similarities…in fact, it’s possible that the strongest communities are those with extremely diverse backgrounds that are bound by one extremely strong purpose.

    Charlie and I have found community in an unlikely place and I don’t know how many more people like him (or his friends Lindsey and Tim) I’ve walked by without a second thought.  And I guess that’s the rhetorical question/statement here…what are you doing to discover and create community where it doesn’t exist today, where it (by most standards) shouldn’t exist?

    I feel lucky to have found a friend in Charlie and I know we’ll share many more games of darts as we both work to change this city.

    ————————————————–

    Check out Charlie’s work at http://charliemylie.com/

    To catch a glimpse of Charlie and his fiancé Lindsey Griffith in action check them out in this project by Concept/OK:

  • THANK YOU SPRINT!

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Kansas City, Leadership, Life Lessons, Sprint Accelerator

    4 Comments

    [this thank you note is too long for a card but humor me…]

    On August 1st, 2014 I took the stage of the Sprint Accelerator to address a group of employees.  This platform and the surrounding space has witnessed countless presentations, endless nights of hard work, hilarious conversations, serious meetings, open brainstorms, raucous dance parties (there’s a video but I can’t find it…) and uncontrollable tears streaming from my face.  Right now, I was getting up to announce the winners of what would be my final #HackFriday as a Sprint employee and one of my last events in a building that had my fingerprints all over it.  I manufactured a little extra enthusiasm to counteract the swelling of my throat and cracking of my voice…

    The memories of the preceding 11 years run through my head and the overwhelming emotion of how lucky I am to have been afforded the opportunities/risks to get me where I am right at that very moment hit me all at once.  I often joke that I bleed Sprint Yellow and honestly, if you would have cut me that afternoon, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

    —————————

    In 2002 I started an informal relationship with a cute bartender at the Old Chicago in Lincoln’s Haymarket District.  I wasn’t some patron throwing down large tips in exchange for friendly conversation.  No, I was washing glasses and hoping to win a spot as her sidekick on the lucrative Wednesday night shift and maybe a small place in her heart.  I accomplished the former pretty quickly which accelerated the latter…soon we were officially dating and I was hitting the streets looking for a new job (restaurants were full of enough drama, our relationship would be much stronger outside of the walls of that building).

    I looked at my options…  I considered other establishments in town, a number of my friends and co-workers were willing to vouch for me at any one of the “O Street” bars, but I was a junior in college and it was time to set an eye toward my career.  I was currently in the J-School working on my advertising degree and loved it.  A quick check on available advertising jobs turned up a bunch of unpaid internships.  I kept looking.  Around that time I went to the mailbox, to find the first bill from my cellphone provider, Sprint.  The job hunt had my sensitivity to cash flow on red alert and there were some charges that seemed incorrect.  I marched into the local store to figure out the error.

    I unloaded on the poor sales rep who greeted me and we eventually got to the bottom of the mess…someone forgot to inform me of the state/federal fees on top of my monthly charge.  The rep was sorry about the miscommunication but I could sense he wasn’t truly empathetic to my situation, so I asked him what he paid for his phone.  He replied that sales reps get a free employee plan and I asked to speak to his manager immediately.

    After some negotiation, I walked out of the store with a job application in my hand and a couple weeks later I proudly donned a bright red polo shirt with the Sprint logo.

    —————————

    I never saw a long-term relationship with Sprint and when Stacey was accepted into law school I felt the same way about Kansas City.  I figured that she would finish up her degree and then we would be back to Omaha where all of our friends/family lived….I was wrong.

    Over the last decade I have had a lot of fun setting and achieving goals that were important to my bosses while finding ways to start things that were important to me in my free time.  Connecting with people in our community, sending millions of handwritten notes to customers, bringing diverse groups of Sprint employees together for #HackFriday’s and starting the Sprint Accelerator.

    A mere 15 months from the conception of the Sprint Accelerator and only 60 days after wrapping up our first class with Techstars, I’m leaving behind some really amazing people and [up to this point] the best role in my professional career.   We are nowhere near flying the “Mission Accomplished” banner but I’m confident that awesome peers like Tina, Doug and Monica will continue to grow the Sprint Accelerator into another remarkable chapter in the 115 year history of our company.

    Throughout my journey at Sprint, I’ve had nearly a dozen bosses; people who provided amazing guidance and even better lessons of what not to do.  From the get go, my relationship with Kevin McGinnis was different.  We didn’t get along for quite some time but the gravity of our disruptive personalities eventually brought us closer and closer together.  A bond was formed between the two of us after an internal hack-a-thon and I came to appreciate the vision and passion he has for KC.  As the oldest of 4 boys, I was secretly jealous of my friends who had older siblings.  Kevin has been, and always will be, more of an older brother than a boss and more of a visionary leader than anyone else I’ve ever dealt with directly during my career at Sprint.

    There are hundreds of other people who have impacted me along the way (too many to name here), none have had the same effect on the direction of my life.  Kevin showed me the importance of developing community inside and around the company walls and ironically, he’s partially to blame for the opportunity that has led to this new path in my career.  I’ll continue to lean on him for guidance and I’m nothing but appreciative for where he’s steered me so far [THANK YOU].

    —————————

    Another friend and executive at Sprint sent me a note this week after he heard the news that I was leaving:

    You have inspired or frightened many people. Both are good as it made them stop and think. Your presence will be missed.”

    I pride myself on the reputation I’ve built as a corporate revolutionary.  For a company sitting in 3rd place, there were a number of people who felt unnecessarily comfortable collecting a paycheck and I found it my duty to make them feel uneasy.  Watching Marcelo Claure yesterday during his very first Town Hall with the employee base was heart warming.  Sprint’s roots can be traced back to an entrepreneur who challenged a gigantic monopoly from the center of the country.  As a founder himself, Claure understands the cultural values required to do the same thing all over again and I have confidence that Sprint is in great hands with him at the helm.

    Thank you Sprint.  Thank you for everything….the last decade has been a learning experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  I look forward to taking everything you’ve taught me into making KC a more attractive place to live, work and play.

    Your #1 fan and now loyal customer,

    Erik

  • A LOT CAN HAPPEN IN 14 MONTHS…WHAT WILL YOU DO?

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Innovation, Kansas City, Life Lessons, Sprint Accelerator

    4 Comments

    I woke up unaided this morning at 6am (that’s unusual for me…I generally battle my alarm clock starting at 6:30 and it finally wins by around 7).  Today is Demo Day for the first ever Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator powered by Techstars class.  It has been a thrilling 90 days and I’ve learned so much, worked with amazing people and will dearly miss every single one of them…but that’s a topic for another day.

    What got me out of bed this morning was reflecting on what got us to this point.  It was fun for me to look back on this post from April 4th, recapping a 10 day journey that would forever change my career and my life.  On the flight home from Portland, I wrote two blog posts and put together a pitch deck that became the foundation for what would eventually become the Sprint Accelerator.  Kevin McGinnis (who is now my boss) was the first recipient of this presentation and eventually would refine this pitch and get it pushed through the executive ranks of Sprint, all the way up to our CEO Dan Hesse.

    It wasn’t just that…  A switch had been flipped on that trip.  I wasn’t interested in sitting at a desk any more and my day job that was truly amazing at one point in life seemed dull.  I did enough to not get fired during the week but nights and weekends were mine.  In that time I attended Startup Weekend and joined in on two other hack-a-thons.  I took a cross-country trip from San Francisco back home to KC with new friends, filming a documentary on technology along the way.  I was asked to speak multiple times with internal teams on innovation and I eventually launched HackFriday, bringing the magic of rapid prototyping/customer validation inside the walls of our corporation.

    I don’t know what’s to come but there’s one person who continues to stand by me through what I’ve referred to as my early life crisis.  My wife Stacey has been supportive through my ups and downs.  Working outside of the lines has moments of mania and depression….she’s dealt with me through both.  Milestones like this allow you to reflect on the things you’re truly grateful for…she’s #1 on the list.

    The last 14 months have been a hustle but today is a day to sit back and smile as the first batch of companies through this program will take the stage this evening at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts.  I couldn’t be more proud of them.

    They will make a HUGE impact on the world but they’ve already made a bigger impact on me personally.  I grew up around entrepreneurs and I started my life as an entrepreneur…I’ve finally discovered in the last year what was missing from my career and I’m grateful to everyone who’s been a part of that.  For those of you sitting out there who also feel like something is missing…get out there and make something happen.  You won’t regret it.

    P.S.  If you haven’t signed up for tickets to Demo Day yet….make it quick!  We’re very close to selling out and I want to see a packed house tonight!!:  RSVP HERE

  • RSVP NOW FOR THE SPRINT MHEALTH ACCELERATOR DEMO DAY!

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Innovation, Kansas City, Mobile Tech, Sprint Accelerator

    1 Comment

    70 days ago, we welcomed 10 companies to Kansas City.  As a group, there were 43 of them and they came from all over the World (Chicago, Salt Lake City, Boston, Baltimore, New York, Atlanta, LA, San Francisco and Seattle.  Italy, Australia, Bulgaria, Belarus, Spain and Argentina).

    I’ve been surrounded by remarkable people…a physician who put her medical residency at a Boston Hospital on hold, a former attorney who left his job on Wall Street, a founder who turned down a Fulbright Scholarship to med school, a mobile developer who starred on “The Amazing Race”…twice, former Google, Intel, Microsoft engineers, and more accomplishments than I have time to list here.

    Each company formed around a problem they had personally encountered related to healthcare.  Relatives struggling with diabetes, a grandparent who had suffered a traumatic fall, a parent sifting through mounds of paperwork through treatment of a chronic illness and a desire to better understand how a beloved pet was feeling just to name a few.

    They came in various stages, some with just 3D drawings or prototypes, others with customers and growing monthly revenues. During their time in KC, they all had a mission to accelerate the growth of their startup companies, cramming about a year’s worth of work into 3 months with access to experts in health, tech, business and each-other in the collaborative Sprint Accelerator facility.

    According to the “you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” rule, my average has shot through the roof.  I feel like a pretty lucky guy.

    ———————–

    I’m looking forward to sharing these companies with the world…  On June 12th, the 10 CEO’s will stand on stage to talk about their business and the progress they’ve made over the 90 day program.  This is your opportunity to get a sneak peek into what progress looks like in a changing healthcare industry.  The event is free and open to the public…all you need to do is RSVP now.

    In addition to you, we’re looking for interested investors, media, business leaders, government officials, healthcare workers, university students/faculty, entrepreneurs and community members here in KC who want to learn more about the 10 companies.  With 1,700 seats available in the Kauffman Performing Arts Center, we will nearly triple the audience size of an average Techstars Demo Day, truly showing off our supportive Kansas City community.

    Sold?  Go RSVP for the show!!

    After that, share the link with your friends, post it to your social sites and bring the rest of KC out for an evening that will be one to remember.

  • MAKE SURE YOUR PRIORITIES MATCH YOUR PITCH

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Leadership, Life Lessons, Marketing Brilliance, Sprint Accelerator, Uncategorized

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    David Mandell

    I first met David Mandell while in NYC during the whirlwind recruiting tour for the Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator.  We had a relatively short conversation before jumping on stage for a panel discussion.  David’s balanced personality as a warm/friendly listener and honest/straightforward communicator is remarkable, something that serves him well as an entrepreneurial leader.  When I saw him walk into the Sprint Accelerator this afternoon, I knew our teams were in for a treat.

    Shortly after the mentoring sessions concluded for the day, David jumped up on stage to give his story as a Techstars Alum.  He covered a number of topics but I was excited to hear him address the topic of focus.  Startups (and for that matter, just about any early stage product/idea) often fail not because of a lack of talent or customer demand but because they can’t stay focused on basic marketing strategy.

    Brand and marketing (not to be confused with advertising) are often overlooked or considered way too late in the game.  David shared a fairly simple template can keep your team focused and executing on the right things for your business:

    For [fill in the target audience here] 
    Who [fill in the pain point your target audience is feeling] 
    My company [fill in what your company does] 
    As opposed to [know your competitors…not just direct competitors but substitutes as well] 
    We [tell the world how you’re better, different, worth paying attention to] 

     

    When read out-loud, this marketing template should sound a lot like a pitch…and it did when David filled in the blanks with details from his company Pivotdesk.  As you dig into that statement, it clearly states the vision of the company including who to target, the problem you’re solving, who you’re competing against and how you continue to differentiate.

    Put simply…with limited resources, focus is critical.  Make sure the priorities of your company match your pitch.

  • A CHARISMATIC NERD ON A MISSION…UNSTOPPABLE.

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Kansas City, Leadership, Life Lessons

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    At 9:30am, Micah Baldwin visited the Sprint Accelerator during a stop in Kansas City.  I’ve seen him speak a couple times before and had some idea of what to expect.  He’s informal, conversational, and sometimes so brutally honest that it may come off as a bit vulgar….it’s always awesome.  Today he reflected on his career so far and listed three rules for founders.  I captured the words on twitter so I could remember, here’s my interpretation:

    1. Be a Missionary – Be purposeful and mission driven with your business…understand why you exist.
    2. Be Nerdy – Be obsessed with what you’re working on.  Working on something that is a passion isn’t really work.
    3. Be Charismatic – Be approachable and infectious, make it easy for others to believe what you believe….

    Know why you exist, be obsessed about it, find a way to spread that passion to everyone you come into contact to.  Pretty simple lessons for everyone doing anything…if you can’t follow those three rules you probably won’t be successful.  Great advice Micah!

  • DO MORE FASTER: ACTION IS CONTAGIOUS

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Kansas City, Life Lessons, Mobile Tech, Sprint Accelerator

    1 Comment

    Hello again internet…it’s been a while.

    Kevin McGinnis brought it to my attention last week that I hadn’t posted anything since October 22nd.  My last post may have read somewhat like a George Bush “Mission Accomplished” banner but I’m far from done here; I simply didn’t realize how much time had passed.

    (To be fair…I have been writing a little bit, but it’s been on the Sprint Accelerator blog HERE)

    I’m writing this post from the comfort of my couch after the very first public event at the Sprint Accelerator.  My feet hurt, my voice is fading in and out from talking too much and I feel fantastic.  Tonight was a gigantic milestone in a journey that started 9 months ago with a serendipitous trip to Portland.

    *Wayne’s World Flashback – do do do, do do do, do do do*

    I stood inside of the Nike+ Accelerator on that evening in April, sipping on a Bridgeport IPA, reflecting on a long day of “speed dating” with entrepreneurs.  As I looked around the room of Techstars teams, a speaker from Big KC came to mind who had quoted Jim Rohn (“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”).  The creativity and hustle that filled the room was palpable, these people had already affected me.

    I’m not going to bore you with the entire story of how the last 9 months unfolded, because it’s probably better told over a cold beer.  My big takeaway in working closely with Techstars, the KC entrepreneurial community and my peers?  The word “accelerate” is contagious.

    Over the last 9 months, I watched our executives, our corporate real estate team, lawyers, architects, contractors and co-workers move quickly, sometimes in a way that was un-natural or outside of their “process,” to pull off everything leading up to tonight’s milestone.  Much like this blog, the Sprint Accelerator isn’t anywhere close to flying a “Mission Accomplished” banner but we’ve established some good momentum, building a culture that will infect everyone who comes into contact with us.

    Remember…you are one of the 5 people that someone else spends a lot of time with.  Set a great example and make them catch up to you.  Stop talking about your great idea, do something about it.  Quit waiting for initiative, take it.  Don’t plan on learning something from inaction…give it a shot, take good notes and try again as a more enlightened individual.  Hustle.

    Or as Techstars likes to say:  “Do More Faster”

  • DEFINING PURPOSE WITH THE AUDIENCE EFFECT – THANK YOU READERS!

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Innovation, Leadership, Life Lessons

    4 Comments

    Today I was given the opportunity to talk with a few of Sprint’s best and brightest, newly graduated MBA’s from the most prestigious programs across the country (that isn’t them above…I just wanted a picture of an audience, bear with me).  I was asked by our HR department to come in to discuss some of my recent successes and how I’ve overcome certain failure along the way.  It was a great conversation and we covered a lot of ground.

    The presentation can be found here, but the real short version….I’ve always looked at my role with Sprint as more than a “job.”  I’m a person who bleeds Sprint Yellow (except for Saturdays when it’s Husker Red); most likely dating back to my beginnings as a retail rep for our company.  Completing the responsibilities of my “day job” has always been a focus but starting things like Thank You Thursday, #HackFriday and Sprint Accelerator are passion projects that I have developed for the good of my co-workers, my company and ultimately our customers.

    I built my premise around three points:

    1. Define purpose in your career – figure out why you’re here…what will keep you energized and engaged beyond the current work in your hand?
    2. Bet your paycheck – you can often hear me saying this in the hallways at work.  This is a figure of speech around conviction, know what you want to do and commit to it, own the results of a massive failure or success
    3. Move fast and break stuff – no one is going to hand you initiative, you need to TAKE it.  Ideas are easy but execution is the real work.

    So if you know why you were put on this earth as a means for evaluating opportunities, you’re convicted enough to put your livelihood on the line and you’re willing to put in the work to make it happen there’s no avoiding a promotion.

    Simple enough…right?

    ——————————————–

    After the event, I got a really amazing email…something I’ve struggled with for a long time.  Essentially it was along the following lines (to protect the identity of this person, I’ll shorthand our conversation):

    Erik – great talk today, really connected with your presentation.  I would like to say that I understand my life’s purpose, but that would be a lie.  How did you go about defining that for yourself?

    Damn…busted…at first, I didn’t have a good answer for that.  There are plenty of experts out there who have told you that purpose is important, but who the heck will help you figure out WHY you exist??

    To be honest with you, the statement in my presentation (“My Purpose:  Solve old problems in new ways, inspire others to do the same”) is something that has gone through numerous revisions and probably still isn’t finished.  It’s become a great filter to view life’s choices through, but it hasn’t been by my side for very long in that short and simple format.  My purpose statement is something that’s evolved over time through my life experiences.

    That led me to think more about the evolution.  How has it changed over my life, during my career at Sprint, over the last 2 years….?

    ——————————————–

    Last week, on my way back from California, I read a phenomenal article in Wired Magazine:  “Thinking Out Loud” by Clive Thompson.  In the article, Thompson discusses how social media tools are actually improving the process of critical thought and shaping those who participate through the audience effect:

    “Having an audience can clarify thinking.  It’s easy to win an argument inside your head.  But when you face a real audience, you have to be truly convincing.  Social scientists have identified something called the audience effect – the shift in our performance when we know people are watching.  It isn’t always positive.  In live, face-to-face situations, like sports or concerts, the audience effect can make athletes or musicians perform better – but it can sometimes psych them out and make them choke, too.  Yet studies have found that the effort of communicating to someone else forces you to pay more attention and learn more.”

    So, my eventual answer to this truly difficult question was that YOU ALL have helped me define my purpose.  The simple act of putting my thoughts in a public setting where others (theoretically) can read and critique has made me pay more attention to my experiences and thoughts.  Cataloguing simple events like a trip to Portland or identifying with some crazy guy at the Kentucky Derby has helped me arrive at a clear and simple purpose for my life and in turn, my career.

    So what are you doing?  Why are you still on this site?  Go to wordpress.com and start a FREE blog, start writing, post it for everyone to see and start learning from yourself.  Don’t get hung up on the audience…Thompson says that “going from an audience of zero to an audience of 10 is so big that it’s actually huger than going from 10 people to a million.”

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    Still not convinced, here’s one more excerpt from the Wired article…

    Mom – look back to one of my very first articles published on this blog.  I know you’re a regular reader and I thank you for that!!  Love you!

    You can see this audience effect even in small children. In one of my favorite experiments, a group of Vanderbilt University researchers in 2008 published a study in which several dozen 4- and 5-year-olds were shown patterns of colored bugs and asked to predict which would be next in the sequence. In one group, the children simply repeated the puzzle answers into a tape recorder. In a second group, they were asked to record an explanation of how they were solving each puzzle. And in the third group, the kids had an audience: They had to explain their reasoning to their mothers, who sat near them, listening but not offering any help. Then each group was given patterns that were more complicated and harder to predict.

    The results? The children who didn’t explain their thinking performed worst. The ones who recorded their explanations did better—the mere act of articulating their thinking process aloud seemed to help them identify the patterns more clearly. But the ones who were talking to a meaningful audience—Mom—did best of all. When presented with the more complicated puzzles, on average they solved more than the kids who’d explained to themselves and about twice as many as the ones who’d simply repeated their answers.

  • INTERNET DEPRIVATION

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Other Cool Stuff...

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    dep·ri·va·tion
    deprəˈvāSHən
    noun
    1. the damaging lack of material benefits considered to be basic necessities in a society.

     

    Stacey and I moved to a new house a month ago.  As a resident of Kansas City, I’ve been extremely exited about the promise of Google Fiber and it just so happened that the new house was in a “Fiberhoood” with an earlier install date than our old location.

    We moved in on the 10th of August and decided to forgo internet and television for a few days until the Google Fiber guy graced us with blazing fast internet speed and HD Television broadcasts.  The “few days” we thought we were in for turned into 3.5 weeks and it was a lot more painful than either of us had originally imagined.

    To be perfectly honest, I could have gone a lot longer without TV.  I spent the first 18 years of my life without cable television.  Going to grandma and grandpa’s house meant we could hide away in the basement for hours catching up on marathons of Heathcliff and Inspector Gadget.  The TV at their house had amazing content compared to the analog dial that was in the living room of the TV back in our home on the outskirts of Omaha.  It wasn’t until college that I came to realize the benefits of Jon Stewart and Eric Cartman.  While extremely entertaining, paid TV content has always been a luxury (something I couldn’t afford to pay for until I realized that I was spending more money in sports bars during Husker football season than I would paying to Dish Network for the entire year).

    No, TV has always been nice to have…..Internet, that I’ve come to realize over the last month, is something that I can’t live without.  Sure, I had my phone and was able to connect with the outside world, but my news feeds, my blog and *gasp* my social accounts were basically impossible to keep up with.  I went to work one day to hear friends discussing the “situation in Syria” to which I had to ignorantly ask “what situation in Syria.”  My email inbox was out of control every morning due to the fact that I hadn’t logged in to clean it out during the evening news.  I had limited ability to reflect on the day as this blog sat idle over the last month.  I had been cut off from the world.

    It wasn’t all bad…  My wife and I were given the opportunity to completely unpack.  We took evening strolls through the neighborhood.  We read books before bed.  In what seemed to be a sad statement on our personal life, we both felt extremely out of touch.

    Judge both of us as you will, but I started to think about the word deprivation and what it truly means.  This technology that literally didn’t exist 2 decades ago had become so integral to our lives that the thought of living without it received odd stares from close friends.  It wasn’t a question as to if we could live without it, but a matter of how much longer could we handle it.

    On Wednesday, September 4th, Josh (our Google Fiber installer) walked up to my door.  It was 8am and I can’t remember being happier to see a service installer walking toward me.  I posted on my social sites whether or not it would be inappropriate to hug him…..most of my friends said it would be cool, so I did.  It was strange, but he went with it.

    When I looked up the word deprivation, the definition made me feel a little guilty.  How would my Great Grandpa Wullschleger look upon this post?  Surely he would shake his head at my digital dependency….  My thoughts quickly transitioned from my Great Grandfather to the 90 year old me, what will my great grand children consider to be necessities 60 years from today?

Thanks for stopping by! Find me on one of your favorite social networking sites.

Erik Wullschleger