Sub Skill - Know When to Change Jobs To Learn More
In 1967, after 2 years at Control Data Corporation mostly the learning of new things slowed. The salary increases were not keeping up with my contributions. Every bone in my body was eager for a new learning challenge. The NASA excitement was over and it was clear we were going to land a man on the moon and return him/them safely to earth.
Sub Skill - Pick Your Mentors Wisely
Sam and Charles Wiley, two brothers, started a computer services company on campus at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and wanted to develop a state of the art Remote Computing Company called University Computing Company (UCC) in the Fannin Bank Building near today's NRG Park where the NFL Texans play. They based their service on a new Univac 1108. They hired away some some engineers from Boeing who had lots of experience maintaining the operating system and compilers. Bob Peterson (Operating System), Terry Connelly(Communications), Merle Proulx(Cobol Compiler) and Bruce Prendergast(Fortran and anything not covered). I was hired at much lower pay to assist these mentor experts. We stayed friends for many many years as our paths crossed across companies and technologies as we all followed our careers.
Sub Skill - Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open for Success Markers
The big anchor customer for UCC was Shell Oil Company. My first challenge was to assist the Shell Oil programmers to convert all their software from the IBM mainframe to the Univac mainframe. First I had a huge challenge to learn both the Univac and IBM software environments, both alike and different from each other and the Control Data Software environment I had just left. The Shell Oil Staff was very willing to give me documentation and answer any questions they had, but they asked no questions about the new Univac environment their software was moving to.
Sub Skill - End of Day You Are In Charge of Your Success
After 6 months of working alone with the learning curve and sample programs for Shell engineers I knew I was going to get no help. So to succeed I designed, developed and tested a software system to convert Shell from IBM to Univac automatically. It was Christmas and I was Invited to Shell's Office Christmas party. At the party I was introduced to Shell Oil Upper Management who confided in me that they were concerned about their development staff's confidence that their IBM software could easily be moved to Univac. I told them about the 95% automatic conversion software utility I had developed. They asked how much it would cost. Being a new and on my first assignment, I said I would have to ask my boss.
Sub Skill - Know the Market Value of Your Product or Service
My boss seemed surprised and pleased and said how about a price equal to a year of your salary, $11,000. I dutifully went back to the Shell Oil Executives and gave them the news. They immediately agreed and said they were willing to pay 4 times that much and would have considered that cheap, a win for Shell and a loose for UCC. As predicted the automated software conversion did better than 95% and my new boss was Sam Wiley.
Sub Skill - Avoid Inside-Outside followed by Outside-Inside Syndrome
I learned a lot from Sam. He would bring me into his office and just chat about how to view the world and value opportunities. One such conversation I remember today and it is the major reason I am doing this Month To Master. The syndrome is you have a group of people working for one or more companies who have what they think is a great product or service idea. They have probably tried to sell the idea within their company, but with no take up. They continue to work for their employer while working on the new idea on their time. When the time is right they execute their idea and are wildly successful. They quit working for their employer and start the new company; all is good they are wildly successful. Their new company grows they employ many people. Sale start to decline; they need a new product, but now they are outside not inside. They press forward, work hard a do eventually come out with a new product or service. It fails. The company declines to zero and all involved must go back to work for someone else. To master this skill you have to know the how and why of success.
I may write more about what I learned at UCC, all this learning took place in the first year.