Arizona Innovation Summit

The Arizona Commerce Authority, MIT Enterprise Forum and the Arizona Scitech Festival put on the Arizona Innovation Summit earlier this month. It was well attended and had a wide range of innovators. Jeremy Babendure has done a fantastic job rallying the Arizona community around science and technology.

Arizona Innovation Summit

There was a mini trade show floor for organizations to share their work. Sessions of various varieties and a keynote from Logan LaPlante. Logan is 14 year old that has opened the world to the concept of Hackschooling. During lunch a number of organizers of SciTech events got together to discuss how to better work together. I believe Jeremy will be releasing something sooner than later that captured the results.

I sat with a group that had the topic of “Collaboration – Strengthening the AZ SciTech community. How do we create more opportunities for collaboration to connect with collaborators year-round?” Ideas collected:

Presence Together
Whether it be networking, cocktail hour or service events. It is apparent that there needs to be more presence with each other. Something that can be difficult with the disparate nature of Arizona’s infrastructure.

Database of Organizations
It is hard to collaborate with people that do not know what they want, but even more difficult to be found if you aren’t broadcasting it. There was mention that the AZ SciTech Festival already had started a site that contained a list of participating organizations and perhaps it just needed some more data.

Collaboration Prize
Incentivize collaboration monetarily. Have a local organization similar to The Arizona We Want annually coordinate a prize for the organizations that have collaborated together for the greatest benefit to Arizona. Similar to the Lodestar Foundation‘s The Collaboration Prize.

Workshops / Mentor (Buddy) Program
Collaboration is a skill that needs to be developed. Some organizations are doing it well, some are struggling. Regional workshops to give organizations the basic skills required and pair them with mentors to help them down the path to collaboration. (Shout out to one of my mentors that introduced me to so many people [Francine Hardaway]).

Do Shit Together
The best way to build a skill is to use it. There is way too much talking about working together in this state. It might be fun to draw interested organizations out of hat at random and pair them together.  The paired groups having six months to deliver something together. It could be a physical something, an event or who knows what…

Are any of these ideas new and stellar? No. Don’t throw them out blindly though. It is easy to say just go collaborate. It is much harder to do it in practice.  Almost impossible to do it well consistently.

I am always open to new things and working with new people. Hit me up. Let’s collaborate on something to make Arizona better.

Sunday Book Review : The Oz Principle by Roger Connors

The Oz Principle: Getting Results through Individual and Organizational AccountabilityThe Oz Principle: Getting Results through Individual and Organizational Accountability by Roger Connors

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Refreshing book that talks about accountability. It isn’t evil and it has a bad reputation. As someone who deals with commitments and visibility of work in teams, it feels like people are distancing themselves more and more from this style of think. I think that is a mistake. The book could have been half as long and the phrases “above the line” and “below the line” are used at least once per paragraph. The writing style leaves a lot to be desired but the content is definitely worth putting up with it.

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Sunday Book Review : The Honest Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially OurselvesThe Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone–Especially Ourselves by Dan Ariely

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you like Dan Ariely’s stuff you will like this book. If you don’t, you won’t. It does a good job of putting forth a number of experiments to get to the bottom of lying, deception and dishonesty. What you find might surprise you. Does culture matter? How you were raised? Your gender? Your potential gain in lying? I thoroughly enjoy hearing about the data in detail.

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Sunday Book Review : Enjoy Every Sandwich by Lee Lipsenthal

Enjoy Every Sandwich: Living Each Day as If It Were Your LastEnjoy Every Sandwich: Living Each Day as If It Were Your Last by Lee Lipsenthal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lipsenthal has an easy flowing style that makes staying engaged with the book easy. As a medical doctor his lessons learned surrounding death, fear and anxiety seem to carry a unique perspective. Opening up new insights into what a life of meaning, purpose and peace might look like. A purposeful life is certainly not a unique concept nor is writing about it, but it is rare to hear about it from someone with a strong science background. One must be warned that Lee goes into the metaphysical quite a bit and stretches way outside the comfortable norms of western views on many subjects. I suspect for most this will discredit much of what he has to say, but I have learned over time to largely ignore rather than discredit that which I am not fully aware of. Your mileage may vary. Did some one say sandwich? nom. nom. nom.

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5 Principles of Life Seen Through an El Pollo Loco Birthday Lunch

A few weeks ago Laurie and I were running errands. We fired up Yelp to find a place to eat. We decided on El Pollo Loco. The menu seemed vastly improved since the last time I had eaten there. This particular location was exceptionally clean not only for an El Pollo Loco, but for fast food in general.

El Pollo Loco

While waiting I signed up for their My Loco Rewards program. Almost immediately I got a coupon for free chips and guacamole. Score! then a few minutes later I got a coupon for a free meal for my birthday that was a few weeks away. Double Score! The best part is it was good for a few days after my birthday, so no pressure to eat there on my birthday.

Fast forward to today. After a stressful morning I left the house without a lunch. Then I remembered I had a free lunch waiting for me. So I headed out to El Pollo Loco (#3578) to claim my birthday present. The encounter left me impressed and thinking about simple principles of life.

The cashier took my order just fine. She attempted several times to enter the coupon, but the machine would not take it. After each attempt she looked back up and gently apologized and let me know it would be just another second.

Take Away 1: Be visible with progress. It goes a long way to helping gain empathy. I wasn’t angry it was taking extra time because I felt her frustration in letting me down.

The cashier excused herself after three attempts to go find help. She scanned the kitchen looking for the right person. I could tell she was sizing up each person she locked eyes on as to whether they could help her. There was a gentleman in the back preparing food, which is a large part of the duties when serving fresh food (see interesting fact below). She approached and asked him for help.

Take Away 2:  Seek effective help. It is important to know when you are in over your head. When you are, don’t fight it, ask for help. Not any help, but the help that will get you the best results.

When Ignacio (yes I remembered the name from the badge) got interrupted he didn’t get frustrated or seem inconvenienced. He came over and showed the young lady how to process the transaction. Explaining to her why it was different than how she thought. Instructing her on all aspects including what to do with the coupon etc after the sale. When done he looked up and said, “Happy Birthday, Enjoy your lunch.” then hurried back to his preparation station.

Take Away 3: Help others when you can. Having an a sincere attitude to make those around you better and help them learn is key to creating great teams. It would have been easy for Ignacio to be frustrated or just process the order and turn around and leave without teaching her a thing.

Take Away 4: Details matter. Take the time to observe the details. This wasn’t any coupon. It was a birthday coupon. MY birthday coupon.  Noticing that allowed Ignacio to give me personal service that made me feel human and appreciated.

The cashier was equal part relieved and excited that it wasn’t so painful. She was able to fall right back into the groove of the transaction and straight into the customer after me.

Take Away 5: Don’t get flustered. By asking for help and collecting yourself you can avoid frustration. Frustration that gets passed on to those around you. Take the time to collect yourself and get back on track.

There is a lot you can learn by observing everyday life. Who thought a forgotten lunch would turn into a reminder of these principles of life? Maybe I am just Loco?

Interesting Fact:  On the back of the cup was the following: Giving Tomatoes the love they deserve.  All 357 of them, to be exact.  That’s how many tomatoes we hand-chop at each El Pollo Loco restaurant every single day.  Because here, we strongly believe in preparing fresh ingredients by hand, and you can taste it in every dish, from our pico de gallo to our guacamole.  What can we say?  Preparation is kind of our thing.  Some say the lengths we go to are crazy.  We say it’s crazy you can taste.

Sunday Book Review : Microsoft: First Generation by Cheryl Tsang

Microsoft: First GenerationMicrosoft: First Generation by Cheryl Tsang

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Those that know me well, know that I am not a fan of Microsoft products. However, there is no denying that Bill Gates and Paul Allen created something special back when they began. I have heard Bill and Paul’s stories, but this book was different. It showed how the company was perceived not by the founders, but by the first wave of employees that implemented the vision the founders put before them.

Cheryl did a fantastic job of telling the stories of these employees. Showing the culture of Microsoft. Highlighting that many of the first wave left as Microsoft got bigger because they couldn’t adapt to a more corporate setting. This gave me insights into Microsoft that I have never had before. I felt what it must have been like to be there in the beginning before the machine started to turn people out. If I was born 5 years earlier I may have been a Microsoft fan.

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Sunday Book Review : Birth School Metallica Death Volume 1 by Paul Brannigan

Birth School Metallica Death, Volume 1: The BiographyBirth School Metallica Death, Volume 1: The Biography by Paul Brannigan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are looking for the early history of Metallica seen through the lens of someone not in the band this is it. It does a good job of telling the story without being a tell all. It mainly covers the musicians and their journey opposed to highlighting all the stories and antics. This is the story of the grind it took to make it. No over night success here. Looking forward to Volume 2.

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Sunday Book Review : What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite by David DiSalvo

What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the OppositeWhat Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite by David DiSalvo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed DiSalvo’s journey on this topic. His search grabbed from cognitive science, neurology, social psychology, economics and the kitchen sink to find out about what makes us happy. Why do our brains get in the way? How do we find a fulfilled life? If you dig cognitive psychology or books that highlight studies on the brain and behavior (think Malcolm Gladwell) done well, you will like this book.

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