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 Effective Engineering e-Newsletter – 5/07/2009

This is your monthly e-Newsletter from
Effective Engineering Consulting Services (www.effectiveeng.com).  If you would like to receive Effective Engineering e-newsletters as they are published, please send an email to e-newsletter@effectiveeng.com, and we will add you to our distribution list.  Comments and suggestions are welcome and encouraged!


Making Friends Around the World

  By Tom Dennis – President, Effective Engineering [tdennis@effectiveeng.com]

It’s hard for even me to believe, but this is my 100th Effective Engineering e-Newsletter!  When I started writing them in late 2002, I had a very modest email distribution list.  With time it has grown and shrunk, but it has grown substantially more than it has shrunk.  It shrinks as people leave their companies and their email addresses are no longer valid, as companies get acquired by other companies, or as some companies go out of business.  It grows as old friends become aware of it and friends of theirs join as well.  But it grows even more as new requests come in from around the country and around world.  Thanks to the Internet, the reach of the website and the e-Newsletters are well beyond the email distribution list.  In an average year the website gets thousands of unique visitors, tens of thousands of page views, and hundreds of thousands of hits.  It has had visits from every continent except Antarctica (at least to my knowledge), and I think virtually every free country in the world and many not so free.  While still small compared to more well-known web sites, it is well beyond expectations for a modest company specializing in engineering consulting with little marketing to speak of other than the website and e-Newsletters.  Most of the visits come from web searches, and they truly come from all around the world.  Some of these are a result of triggers from the website’s other web pages, but the bulk of these, when I look at the search keyphrases and keywords, come from hits from the e-Newsletters.  Many of the additions to the e-Newsletter email distribution list have come as a result of people finding Effective Engineering through the e-Newsletters.  I thought I’d pause from my normal topics to indulge a bit and celebrate #100 and to illustrate the reach of even a modest website/e-Newsletter and some of the people and circumstances that brought them here.

In 2004 I received a request from Dwayne Long to join the email distribution list.  He was an engineering manager at a Wisconsin elevator company.  He discovered the newsletter while searching for information to help him better communicate engineering needs and requirements to his company president, which was the most challenging part of his job at the time.  We had a number of interesting email discussions since that time, one coming after an article about the different “languages” spoken by different organizations in a company (see eN-050602 – Speaking In Tongues), which led to another featuring Dwayne in our discussion about the different thought processes between senior managers and engineers that leads to difficulties in communicating (see eN-050707 – Can You Hear Me Now?).  Dwayne subsequently moved on to a better opportunity at a packaging company in the area.  What makes this story unusual is that about 2 years later I received an email from Brian Larson, a manufacturing engineering manager at a medical device company, to join the email distribution list.  He happened to go to a Green Bay Packers game one weekend and sat next to a stranger who was also an engineering manager.  You guessed it – it was Dwayne Long.  They started discussing their jobs and challenges, and Dwayne mentioned the Effective Engineering e-Newsletter, and soon there was another subscriber.  Small world!

In 2005 I received a request to subscribe to the newsletter from Bruce Haycock, a consultant from New Zealand.  Bruce was one of my earliest international members and clearly the most distant.  We also had many interesting discussions and developed a strong camaraderie and friendship.  This began with one of my e-Newsletters discussing a fresh start when I left a company I had been working at (see eN-060302 – A Fresh Start!), and subsequently led to e-Newsletters eN-060413 – Who Funds Your Life?, and eN-060907 – Connect With Your Customers (Even When You Don’t Know Them)!.  His third contribution was on building trust in organisations (Kiwi spelling
:-)), which led to eN-080207 – Trust Me, I’m Not Like the Others!.  A fourth article on globalization and a somewhat different approach regarding the reach of the Internet is still in the works.  Some day I hope to meet Bruce in person, but I treasure our friendship even if we never meet.

Lee Beaumont is someone who I knew briefly at Bell Labs.  He was coming into the organization about the time I was leaving.  I had lost touch with most of my Bell Labs friends until I was contacted by Dave Bergeron, an old friend.  Dave put me in touch with a group of other old friends, many of whom subsequently became subscribers to the e-Newsletters, and I still get frequent and welcome comments from Dave, George Scott (see eN-080807 – What Horse’s Ass Said You Should Do It That Way!), John Sheehan (see eN-050804 – Say What You Mean, Mean What Your Say, and Do What You Say You’ll Do!), Paul Floyd, Pete Savage, Rich Gitlin, John Marciszewski, Howard Meadors, Bill Lawless, Larry Murphy, Jim Crouch, Marty Singer, Emil Wrede, and others (Hi guys!).  But Lee and I have had the strongest connections, with Lee contributing to now four e-Newsletters (see eN-071004 – The Schedule Estimate Extortion Game, eN-081113 – Start Spreading The News!, eN-090108 – Can You Pass The Red Face Test?, and eN-090305 – Hire Adults, Expect Results!), with many interesting discussions in between and more topics that are likely to turn into more newsletters.  I am grateful for all of the connections and the discussions, and strongly encourage more.

In 2008 I made contact with Perry Gregg, a former high-tech executive and Harvard-law graduate living in Berkeley CA.  He was looking for material for a speech he was preparing and I suggested he take a look at some of my e-Newsletters for some relevant information, which he did and he subsequently subscribed.  That has turned into a friendship that will hopefully lead to us jointly writing a book, if I can ever spend the time needed to really get this going.  Exciting stuff.

Internationally, in addition to New Zealand, I’ve thus far had e-Newsletter subscription requests from Canada, Belgium, France, India, Japan, the Philippines, and even Iran.  Domestically, the list of requests is considerably longer.

Because of the e-Newsletters, I’ve reconnected with many friends from a number of the other companies (in their latest incarnations) where I worked besides Bell Labs, including Xylogics (now Nortel Networks), Northstar Technologies (now Navico), Unex (now GN Jabra), Dynatech Wireless Technologies (now gone), Cabletron Systems (now Enterasys), Aprisma Management Technologies (now CA), Russound (still Russound), and now Silverlink.  I even landed my job at Russound (2004-2006) as a result of my e-Newsletter.  I had interviewed there in 2003, but another person was hired.  I put the hiring manager on my email distribution list, and when things didn’t work out with the person they had hired, I was asked back to interview and subsequently got the job working with a great group of people designing and building great products.

What is most amazing to me is the reach for even a modest consulting practice such as Effective Engineering.  We live in a highly interconnected world, enabling making friends around the world easy and a pleasure.

Thank you for allowing this self-indulgence and digression from the normal articles addressing topics that I hope you find useful and entertaining.  I will return to them for the next 100 e-Newsletters. :-)

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