About Eric Miller
Eric is a co-owner of Tempe-based PADT, Inc., a provider of tools and services to companies that design and manufacture physical products.
He holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley and started his career focusing on applying Computer-Aided Engineering to turbine engine components. As a co-founder of PADT in 1994, Eric also pursued IT, graphic design, 3D printing, database programming, HR, and small business management. Eric is often called upon to write and speak on simulation, design, and 3D printing. He is also steeply involved with the startup community and the high-tech sector. Eric hosts the podcast All Things ANSYS.
He is currently Chair of the Arizona Technology Council Board of Directors, a member of the Arizona Technology Investors’ screening committee, and serves on several advisory boards. Eric also serves as an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Arizona Commerce Authority and mentors through multiple startup incubators including Chandler Innovations and The CleanTech Open. He regularly contributes to the Phoenix Business Journal with articles about technology, small business, and the Arizona ecosystem.
Eric also moonlights as a freelance writer. He enjoys traveling, writing, history, cooking, and learning about new things.
Lesson 1. Communication is so important and drives everything. 03:28
Lesson 2. Never understate the importance of a strong network 06:11
Lesson 3. What you learned in Kindergarten works. 09:09
Lesson 4. People and situations change over time. 11:54
Lesson 5. Know your own bias. 15:10
Lesson 6. Feelings should guide you, not constrain you. 18:26
Lesson 7. Be able to do, or at least understand, your employee’s job 20:57
Lesson 8. Letting people go is good for their co-workers, for them, and for your company. 23:53
Lesson 9. Take the time to learn your tools. 27:45
Lesson 10. Understand the real and perceived value 30:41
Eric Miller-Know your own bias
[00:00:11] Diana White: Hello, and welcome to 10 lessons. It took me 50 years to learn where we dispense wisdom to an international audience of rising leaders. My name is Diana White, and I’m your host. This podcast is sponsored by the professional development forum, which helps diverse, younger professionals of any age, accelerate their performance in the modern workplace.
On this podcast, you hear honest, practical advice that you cannot learn from a textbook today’s guest is Eric Miller. Eric is a co-founder of Tempe based PADT, Inc. A provider of tools and services to companies that design and manufacture physical products. He holds a BS in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley and started his career focusing on applying computer aided engineering to turbine engine components as a co-founder of PADT, in 1994.
Eric also pursued IT, graphic design, 3d printing, database programming, HR and small business management. Eric is also often called upon to write and speak on simulation design and 3d printing. He is also steeply involved with the start-up community and the high-tech sector.
Eric hosts the podcasts, all things ANSYS. He is currently chair of the Arizona technology council, board of directors, a member of the Arizona technology investor screening committee, and serves on several advisory boards. Eric also serves as an entrepreneur in residence at the Arizona commerce authority and mentors through multiple start-up incubators, including Chandler innovations and the clean tech open.
He regularly contributes to the Phoenix business journal with articles about technology, small business, and the Arizona ecosystem. Eric also moonlights as a freelance writer. Welcome Eric.
[00:02:04] Eric Miller: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
[00:02:06] Diana White: I am so excited to have you here.
First of all, I don’t know how you do it all. I really, really don’t.
[00:02:12] Eric Miller: I’m an insomniac. So that helps. Um, so like that writing gig that I do it’s, it’s not too often, but when I do it, it’s, it’s late at night and I let them know that. Yeah. You’re going to be getting edits at two o’clock in the morning, so.
[00:02:24] Diana White: Oh, there you go. It makes sense. So, we’re going to get started with your lessons in a moment, but I’ve got a question for you. What would you, I know it’s only been about five years since you’ve, you’ve seen that age. Right. But what would you tell your 30-year-old self?
[00:02:40] Eric Miller: Don’t wait.
[00:02:41] Diana White: Don’t wait.
[00:02:42] Eric Miller: I think that the lesson that we all learn when we’re in our late fee, I just, I just turned into what I consider my late fifties now. is that, you know, you hesitate next month next week, next year. we’ll do this after this, and we’ll wait until this happens. And then you realized you spent a lot of time.
Doing other things. And maybe that’s why that list is so long. Right. I stopped waiting and I want to do that. I want to mentor those folks and I want to do some writing on the side. I want to do this. And so instead of waiting for the right time, I just started doing it all.
[00:03:13] Diana White: And finding a balance to be able to do it all.
So that nothing really suffers, which I admire so much about you.
[00:03:21] Eric Miller: I stick to stuff that I’m good at with stuff. I’m not that
[00:03:25] Diana White: that’s the key, right?
[00:03:28] Lesson 1 Communication is so important and drives everything
[00:03:28] Diana White: So, let’s start with your first lesson. Communication is so important and drives everything. And then, and then you have another sentence here. You need to learn to keep things short and not be afraid to ask questions.
Let’s talk about that one.
[00:03:43] Eric Miller: Yeah. So, I didn’t really understand how important communication was until it was too late, really in a lot of situations. And when I was young in my career, I didn’t really recognize that a lot of times there were failures to get things done because of poor communication and poor communication could take the form of people don’t talk, they don’t communicate, or they take so long to communicate that people stop listening or, and communicate communication is also about asking questions, right?
So, it’s that free flow of information and kind of the epiphany for me when I was younger, and I didn’t sit in as much as it should. I was working with two engineers. I was, I was helping them two very different disciplines and I was kind of the middleman between the two of them and, and they weren’t communicating, and things are going slowly.
We were making mistakes and we were doing things wrong. And so, I finally went down to go talk to one of them and I realized they shared a cubicle and yet they didn’t talk to each other. They never spoke to. And that was kind of a, this you just being close to people, you have to be proactive about it, and you have to accept the fact that you have to communicate and get good at communication and get good at listening, which is of course an important part of communication as well.
And, and, uh, you know, it’s, it’s served me well in a lot of what I do is communicating a lot of the, those roles we talked about. My bio is really about sharing information effectively and efficiently.
[00:05:06] Diana White: It always occurs to me. People assume that communication is listening and then giving your response. And it it’s so difficult to teach people that communication. It’s, an active thing. It’s something you have to really learn how to do. You have to learn how to communicate up and down. You have to learn how to communicate, with your colleagues.
it’s a hard skill and sometimes they’re really tough lesson if you’re a leader and you don’t have that skill yet.
[00:05:37] Eric Miller: And one of the things I’ve seen with leaders is, they don’t realize that they’re not communicating right. They sent the email, they gave the speech, they had the one-on-one with the employees.
That doesn’t mean you communicate, and I think a lot of it goes to, emotional intelligence, right? When you’re communicating, you got to pick up on those cues, especially as a leader. Is it sinking through, is it causing frustration? Is it causing anger or they, you know, try and read because when you’re a leader, people tell you what you want to hear?
Right. And they don’t give you that feedback. So, you got to find the feedback.
[00:06:11] Lesson 2: Never understate the importance of a strong network
[00:06:11] Diana White: Oh, true. Well, lesson number two, never understate the importance of a strong network and how proactive you have to be to maintain that network.
[00:06:21] Eric Miller: Yeah. Wow. In business and in life, but especially in business. Right. you know, we’re here having this discussion right now because you’re part of my network.
Right. And, and it’s an important part. people call up and they need something or, you know, the bigger your network, the easier it is for you to help other people and easier for other people to help you. And it’s important in our business, my business, you know, we sell tools to engineers, and we also do consulting and training.
And that’s a, that’s a trust business. That’s a relationship business. Right. And it’s not a commodity, uh, kind of software and hardware we sell. So, networks are so important and like the other day it’s been almost a year now. we got a significant design project for a company that you wouldn’t think does design, right?
Because of NDAs. I can’t get into what they do, but they’re not an industry. You would go, oh, they have a bunch of mini. Well, they do have a few and they came up with a product that would help what they do out there in the world work better. and they didn’t know who cause, cause they’re not an engineering company or a manufacturing company.
They didn’t know who to talk to in Arizona to get their work done. So, they were talking to a person who was friends with a person in economic development, who I’ve gone to events with and hung out and never really thought, you know, they’re focused on getting people to move here and sell buildings to them.
Right. But that person said, oh, you need to talk to Eric Miller at PADT. This is what they do. Boom, a few phone calls later. We’re helping them solve their problems. So, it always makes me happy when these connections pay off and they pay off in so many different ways. In friendships, and getting new employees, in getting work, in helping the community as a whole grow.
and that’s been an important part of what I’ve tried to do during COVID. Is try and be more of a connector so that we can continue to grow the Arizona tech community, even though we’re not going to meetings and we’re not talking to each other face to face. And the minute I slowed down on that; it fell apart.
People were going out of town for hiring people, um, opportunities that, I could help with didn’t come up. So, you just got to keep, keep it going and keep it going. Keep it going
[00:08:21] Diana White: You and I both live in Arizona. We saw the effects of going all virtual and what that did to relationships and networking and partnerships.
And I have to say, though, we, we rallied, we rally together, and we tried to continue pushing forward. And before, if a thousand people showed up to a physical event, that meant that maybe only 720 showed up to an online event. I’ve attended many of your events, you were still the same, Eric and I still got the same amount of gratification out of going to those events.
[00:08:59] Eric Miller: yeah, it’s been a bit of a challenge for us to learn how to do it and we trial and errored for a while, but it’s about creating connections. Yeah, for sure.
[00:09:09] Lesson 3: What you learned in Kindergarten works
[00:09:09] Diana White: That’s number three. What you learned in kindergarten works, especially the golden rule and learning to walk a mile in other people’s shoes.
[00:09:19] Eric Miller: Yeah, I don’t, I don’t know. They taught my kids that in kindergarten, but you know, these were kind of the core of, uh, some of these, these life lessons, they, besides how to tie your shoes, they taught us in kindergarten, and it really stuck with me. and it still sticks with me. You know, sometimes we’ll be in a meeting and we’re, well, what, what should we do?
It’s a sticky situation. we’ve got two options. What should we do? And you know, this idea of having empathy towards others and you know, what the, how would I want to be treated in the situation, right? It’s a business decision where we could go this place, but it’s kind of kind of, you know, we may go with company B, but you know, a company, A it’s going to screw them and, and the money isn’t that big of a difference.
You know, what would I do? How would I want to be treated? Well, I’d want to have that relationship with company A let’s stick with company A, um, because we built that relationship there and the other that’s really important is that walk a mile in other people’s shoes. And I think it was one of those posters of, uh, with moccasins or something like that, or it was right next to the cat and, you know,
[00:10:21] Diana White: can we all have that in
[00:10:23] Eric Miller: the classroom?
Scholastic was the propaganda machine, right. But, you know, gosh, that pays off so many times, because from a, from a leadership standpoint, you’re working with an employee and it’s, there’s something wrong. You don’t quite know why they’re not getting in or why they’re not responding or why they’re not performing.
And until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, you don’t really know why they’re doing what they’re doing. You can make all these assumptions in the world, but until you understand where they’re coming from and what they’re, what’s going on at home, what’s going on in their cubicle, what’s going on. You know, in their mind, you know, what kind of anxiety like right now, we really have to be sensitive to the amount of anxiety that people have hidden inside of them because COVID, and now the war and in Ukraine creates a huge amount of uncertainty, anxiety, and people don’t necessarily talk about it.
And that may be why they’re not paying attention to you or they’re just not getting it. So, trying to walk in their shoes really. Yeah, those are, those are great life lessons. I should probably find those posters somewhere on eBay and hanging up in the building.
[00:11:25] Diana White: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. You know, a lot of your lessons really do tie into each other.
And when I see that in a guest, it just leads me to believe that these are lessons that were cultivated over time but it’s. core to their personality. It’s core to who they are. and when I read through them and for our listeners and our viewers, yes, I get a sneak peek before you guys do sorry about that.
But I just, I said, this is Eric. This is absolutely he practices what he’s preaching right now.
[00:11:54] Lesson 4: People and situations change over time
[00:11:54] Diana White: So, lesson number four. People and situations change over time. And it’s a small world. Give yourself flexibility to adjust or walk away from relationships and don’t burn bridges.
[00:12:09] Eric Miller: Well, I learned that one the hard way a couple times where I didn’t live up to the golden rule.
and especially when I was younger, I, I talked to my friends. I was, I would say a little arrogant. I was arrogant at times and when I was unhappy with somebody, I would kind of burn that bridge. I was kind of snotty about it, burned that bridge. Well, some of those folks, in fact, one person that I remember, this is such a nerd thing, but we got into a fight about who got into the queue on the supercomputer first.
Well, he snuck in front of me, and it was like really mad at him. And I burned that bridge, and it was very, you know, looking back it was childish, but I burned that bridge. Well, he’s the CEO of one of the fastest growing solar companies in the southwest and fortunately, he’s a bigger man than me and he couldn’t care less that I did that and, they become a good customer but I, that, that bridge could have really burned me.
And, you know, you, when you’re young, you don’t really realize it. And that’s certainly a lesson I learned over time is it’s a very small world. you know that side of it, of don’t burn those bridges. Cause you don’t know who you might need to work with in the future, or might need to help you in the future.
On the, on the other side of that, that point about being able to walk away, that’s something else I struggled with, right? W we need to, we can fix this. We can fix this, and toxic people and toxic employees are deadly, and they don’t just hurt you. They hurt that toxic person and they hurt other employees.
So, You know, being flexible and adjusting or walking away from relationships has been a tough lesson to learn, but it has paid off for everybody when I finally do it. Yeah.
[00:13:42] Diana White: I go back to, one of my lessons because I was also interviewed on the podcast and one of my lessons was be prepared to walk away, but also be prepared that no one will ask you to stay.
You know, there’s so many times in business and personal relationships, anything you can think of where, you know, we almost try to subconsciously get a sense of validation from, if I put my line in the sand, if you cross it, that’s it. Yeah, that’s it. I’m outta here, you know, it’s my way or the highway.
Right? We have so many different phrases and cliches about that whole it’s me, me, me. And sometimes you just have to say for the sake of everybody’s mental wellbeing, we need to just agree to disagree and move on. Uh, that’s,
[00:14:30] Eric Miller: that’s a really important you’re so right about that. And I’m not a competitive person, so I don’t have to win all the time.
So, I think that’s an advantage that I have. It’s a disadvantage too, because sometimes they don’t try as hard as I should. Um, you know, I’ve, I’ve dealt with people like that, that are, that are just like I’m right. Or the world comes to an end and that’s not the flexibility that a leader needs.
[00:14:52] Diana White: I don’t know who said this, so, audience, please.
Don’t come for me for stealing a quote, but is that, would you rather be right? Or would you rather be happy? Yeah. Right. So yeah. I
[00:15:04] Eric Miller: mean, that seems to be the popular
[00:15:05] Diana White: thing. Hey, exactly.
[00:15:10] Lesson 5: Know your own bias
[00:15:10] Diana White: All right. So, number five, know your own bias. This is a good one.
[00:15:18] Eric Miller: It’s really good. it’s interesting. It’s come up very recently and that I’m Because don’t have enough to do. I’m actually taking a class on, on writing and, we’re learning to read right now and we’re sharing our analysis of the chapter, and everybody has a completely different point of view on what the author is trying to say. And it just brought home that we’re all bringing our biases.
Right. So, you know, my bias, the way I look at things as from the view of an engineer is very matter of fact, very logical and you know, and there’s no, there there’s ghosts in this story. So, there’s no such thing as ghosts. So therefore, the author is saying that, you know, our own imagination fills in these gaps and other people are like, ghosts are such an important part of the ecosystem and blah, blah, blah.
And it just has to do with your biases and where your point of view comes from. And that’s so true in business, right? Because you can be in a negotiation, or you could be trying to get a project done and where you set your priorities and how you respond is so based on your bias. And it may not be where you want to go.
Your goals may be over here, and your bias is driving you over to the left. You got to be aware of it and be conscious of it and adjust, and sometimes ignore that bias.
[00:16:29] Diana White: Would you also agree that sometimes your bias gets in the way. who you bring on your team, the talent you bring in,
[00:16:35] Eric Miller: but the obvious bias is, is profiling, right?
Is, you know, and, and negative and positive, right? There’s, you know, that smart kid in school kind of had a name like this person. And I see that we’re on a resume and I’m like, oh, well I knew a person with that same last name. So that’s one extreme or, you know, ethnicity and religion and background and how people look And so one of the things I do to avoid biases. When I interview folks, I don’t read their resume first. Cause my bias got really strong based upon the resume, right. Where they worked, where they went to school with, I’m really bad. I’m really a snob about that. and I was realizing that it was really biasing my opinion of them.
So, no camera let’s just talk, and get a feel for each other before I looked at your resume or tell me about your history and your past and things like that. So that’s one way I overcame that particular bias. That was pretty strong in me. And it’s a constant battle. It’s a constant battle of prejudging people.
and assuming the way they’re going to behave based on that bias can really get you in trouble.
[00:17:35] Diana White: I know you’re a writer. Write a book about that. What you just said was gold. Absolutely. Write it down too. And I’ve. I’ve not heard of anyone else in a position that you are that says when I interview somebody, I don’t look at their resume first.
That that is a first for me, and I’ve been in this game a really long time. I think that is a fabulous way to do things because. the truth will come out. Right. You know, they’re going to talk about it. you’ll find commonalities or you’ll find things in our common for, what they bring to the organization.
Um, that piece of paper, isn’t the end all be all. Think that’s amazing. So
[00:18:15] Eric Miller: true. So true. And there’s a lot of other examples where we just got to be aware of it and, and let us, come to the right decision and not let our bias take us down the path. we shouldn’t go,
[00:18:25] Diana White: there you go. There you go.
[00:18:26] Lesson 6: Feelings should guide you, not constrain you
[00:18:26] Diana White: All right, number six, this, this got me because, sometimes this happens to me and I’m still working on this. Number six, feelings should guide you not constrain you.
[00:18:39] Eric Miller: Yeah. And for me, it’s anger. Right. Or frustration and they’re close for me. So that’s on the negative side. Right. And on the positive side. We have millions of years of evolution. We’re pretty good animals at using feelings to make decisions, they’re there for a reason they’ve evolved for a reason, and we should use them to help guide us on things.
But the problem is when they kick in. to where the adrenaline starts flowing or the sadness starts going or whatever it is, or the, or the feeling a big one that everybody struggles with, right. Is insecurity. Right? So, everybody has a little bit of ostrich syndrome in some people. I have a lot of it actually.
And so, it’s a constant battle for me to not let that, that feeling overcome me and constrain me. But at the same time, you know, acknowledge it. It’s there. Why is it there? Oh, well, I feel like I’m out classed by this group of people, or they don’t really understand what my background is or something like that.
So then address it, overcome it. There are so many areas that this plays a role in, in, in business and in human relations. And we try to, we try to be Spock, right. We try to be logical. It doesn’t always work, you know? We were interviewing some folks a couple of weeks ago and
the hiring manager was just like, I just have a feeling, I just have a gut feeling. This is a good hire. And I’m like, well, go with that because when I’ve ignored my gut, I’ve been wrong more often. And then I use, I use my logic to justify my bias, basically.
[00:20:02] Diana White: I think my crutches, I always seem to have the sense of urgency.
Okay, this has to be solved. This has to get done because all of this other stuff is coming down. The pipeline, we gotta, we gotta, we gotta, we gotta, and, I know, I know a lot of people that fall into that trap of, trying to run literally speed of light through life, instead of just slowing down a little bit and understanding where all this is coming from and how they feel about it.
And what’s coming up, you know, unconsciously for them.
[00:20:32] Eric Miller: Fear is such a powerful tool and such a dangerous thing. Well, right. We make so many decisions based on fear that we shouldn’t. And then at the time we ignore it, some days cause you have fear for a reason your brain is telling you runaway, you know, fight or flight.
This is, there’s a reason why you’re feeling fear in a situation, but then when you let it overwhelm you, and guide you, and don’t often make decisions because of fear. That’s the downside.
[00:20:57] Lesson 7: Be able to do (or at least understand) your employee’s job
[00:20:57] Diana White: All right. Number seven. Be able to do, or at least understand your employee’s job in pitch when you can. And this goes back to some of the other lessons that you had walking a mile in the other person’s shoes, learning how to communicate. Tell me about this lesson.
[00:21:15] Eric Miller: So, this is one I learned from my first boss. Uh, when I was an intern in college, I worked at a large aerospace company and, they let me, they didn’t have anything, you know, internee for me to do so they let me do real engineering work. And the fact that my boss. who was pretty high up, was able to sit down and do some of the work with me.
made me feel like he understood what I was doing. It made me feel like what I was doing was valued as well. And probably the biggest impact was he was able to answer my question. So, it’s not something you can always do, especially in highly technical fields. There’s certain things now that, that I just don’t know anymore and I can’t do, but being able to, sit down and we had a new engineer join us and she was trying to figure out something.
And one of the pieces of software we use and she’s like, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to do this. And I feel, you know, she’s starting to feel kind of like she didn’t belong. So, I said, well, let’s bring it up and let’s work through it together. And by working through it with her, over virtual environment, which I love, we were able to not just figure it out, but her to know that I understood why she was struggling and why it was difficult and to help, understand that.
And, and the other reason why I really like it is you’re not, it’s not a black box. and when things are going right. And if you don’t understand what’s going on inside the box, you can’t help fixing it And then I see this in managers that don’t understand what, what their people do. All they do is yell.
You didn’t make the deadline. You suck. You need to, you need to get this fixed. Now you’ve got till tomorrow to get it fixed rather than, okay. Let’s look at why are we not done? And, and when they start explaining it, being able to understand what they’re talking about, even if from a high level and help guide them towards a solution, rather than, you know, being this autocratic, you need to fix it.
And I think that that comes from really not understanding what people are doing
[00:23:06] Diana White: so true. I have come across some leaders, who understand what the other person is doing. They have a grasp of it because they’ve mastered it. And now it becomes a point of, they don’t remember what it was like to learn.
It they’ve mastered it. So, it’s like, why is it taking you so long to do this? I could do this in my sleep.
[00:23:25] Eric Miller: That’s the flip side. and it’s a habit I had to break. I’ll just do it myself.
[00:23:30] Diana White: Oh yes. Yeah. That’s a big one.
[00:23:32] Eric Miller: it’s one. I don’t, have the time. Two, I’m probably not the best person to do it.
Sometimes I am. And in that case, I’ll going to roll up my sleeves and do it, but I’m working with the team. But what it really says is you’re not good enough to your employees. And that’s, not good. That’s
[00:23:48] Diana White: not a good culture, not a good culture. Um,
[00:23:53] Lesson 8: Letting people go is good for their co-workers, for them, and for your company
[00:23:53] Diana White: okay. So, speaking of company culture, let’s, let’s move into number eight here, which I love letting people go is good for their co-workers, for them and for your company.
Now how often do you get to write a sentence that says, letting people go is good for everybody? That’s an oxymoron. Is it not? But tell me about this.
[00:24:16] Eric Miller: So, I think, and I asked a person, an administrative person that I work with that help me with some of the administrative tasks, including HR. What’s what’s my biggest fault.
And her response was you don’t fire people, soon enough because I hate conflict. I hate conflict and there’s very little that you can do in business that has more conflict than firing somebody for costs. There’s not a lot. And so, I took the typical approach that a lot of passive aggressive people do is that we’ll just let them leave on their own.
And I was never one of those, and I know managers to do this, that, that purposely make people miserable. So, they’ll leave. I never did that, but it was just kind of like it’ll work itself. And I kind of had this philosophy of it’ll work itself out and it doesn’t work itself out. And, and what this person said to me that would help me with HR stuff was what you don’t get Eric is everyone around them is miserable. And so, you, you want to give them a chance you want to, you hope they leave on their own. You want to avoid the conflict of, of cutting them off, but you’ve lost credibility with other employees because you let them get away with this stuff. They’re miserable. They don’t want to come to work.
you’re miserable and guess what? That employee is miserable. And sometimes, you know, there’s different reasons why people need to be let go. And sometimes it’s in most of the time it’s the wrong fit. It’s not, there’s nothing inherently. I don’t believe it inherent evil, but there’s nothing wrong with them.
They’re not a bad person, but they just don’t belong in your culture. They don’t belong in the position from a technical standpoint, they don’t belong in the position for our responsibility standpoint. It’s just not a good fit and keeping that is not good sometimes. Yeah. There’s a, you look at, and they changed jobs four times in the last four years, you know, that it wasn’t me it was them. But, um, you know, sometimes they’re not going to fit, and I like to give it a try, I like to, okay. If it’s not a good fit, let’s find one of the things we used to do. And we’re really bad about this is if somebody wasn’t a good fit, we’d move them and then we’d move them and we’d moved them. And a third of the time, one move fixed it.
But most of the time. It wasn’t that they weren’t good fit for the job. They weren’t a good fit for the company. And, um, uh, yeah, that’s, that’s huge. And that’s when people ask you, what’s the one advice you would give to somebody starting a new company. It’s going to be a leadership. That’s always one fire people sooner rather than later.
[00:26:33] Diana White: Yeah. Again, another adage that we can, contribute to Einstein or Lincoln, right. Hire slow fire fast, but it, does make sense. I’ve seen many of an extremely healthy culture be destroyed by one person, one person, which it’s amazing to me, that one person who isn’t even trying to have the power holds that power.
[00:27:00] Eric Miller: Yeah, the dynamics, the human dynamics are really, really sensitive. And, and we saw that once with an employee that, you know, there was no reason to let them go, but that the company had changed and they had not, let’s put it that way. and they weren’t happy about it and they kind of grumbled a lot about it.
And that was kind of the persona. It was kind of a grumbler, and we have these up meetings of the day after the stand-up meeting, it was like a, it was like this, like the sun was shining from the, from the rafters. Uh, everybody was just more cheerful and happier. And when we’d bring up in spotting of things in times and stand-up meetings, you bring up problems and instead of going, oh, that was horrible.
It was like, okay, well, I can help you with that. And it just changed the whole mentality of the group. So sometimes it’s not even about them, violating your HR policies. It’s just that they just don’t bring the right vibe to the team.
[00:27:45] Lesson 9: Take the time to learn your tools
[00:27:45] Diana White: Very true. All right. Number nine, take the time to learn your tools.
[00:27:51] Eric Miller: Yeah, this is actually a core philosophy of our company. So, we, we, before we even started the company, we sat down and said, we’re going to, We want it to be different than the corporate environment that we were coming from. And so, what are our core philosophies? And, and one of the ones that I really fought for it strongly was, take the time to learn your tools. Because I have spent an early part of my career trying to find the best tools, you know, I can a better pair of scissors. I can cut this paper faster, but if I want to learn how to cut, right, I got to cut the paper faster. And it took me a while to learn that. And when I did it became core to our company and it’s, it really is part of our philosophy.
And is paid well because a lot of times efficiency is knocked down because. People don’t know how to do something, or they have the wrong tool. They just don’t know how to use the tool. Nobody’s taking the time to train them. They haven’t taken the time to learn it. And you know, sometimes I find myself taking 10 minutes to learn a new feature.
I’ve been using Excel since I was a junior in college. So that’s 1985, right. On a Mac, the original version of the Mac. And I learned new things in Excel all the time. And I got to take the time to learn this new functions, new capability. Cause I may not need it today, but six months from now, I’m going to, oh, I know how to do that and do it.
So, you know, taking that time to learn pays off and, not just software, which is what we’re focused on, right. As engineers, but the tools and management, the tools of, human interaction, you know, how you communicate, how you emote, How you mentor, right? That’s a tool, and learn those tools well, and that’s much better than trying to find the perfect tool or, and can be, uh, the biggest bang for the buck out there.
[00:29:24] Diana White: I agree. I used to have a mentor that would tell me the analogy of the paperweight, And that, and that goes for anything. It doesn’t have to be a tangible, you know, physical product. It could be mental; it could be a skill set. It could be an app. It could be anything if you buy into it, if you purchase it, if you get training on it.
And then it just ends up sitting there becoming a paperweight, that was such a waste of time. And that makes you think a lot about what tools you do bring into your life, what tools you are comfortable learning, because you don’t have time to fill your brain with paperweights.
[00:30:01] Eric Miller: That’s true. That’s so true. I’ll go into one of my pet peeves, which is, CRM systems, customer relationship management system. Right? So, these are these, these are amazing tools that can do everything you want. And most people use them as a Rolodex. And I always use that as an example, and in business have a tool where if people would just learn to use five more percent of that tool, they’d be there.
Their sales would go up their productivity to go up. Their customers would be happy. and it’s, it’s a great example. And for a lot of people, it’s just, it’s a very expensive paperweight that just sits there on their computer and they, and they look up phone numbers on it. Or if the email address is.
[00:30:37] Diana White: All right, we’re heading up to number 10 and then I got a curve ball after that.
[00:30:41] Lesson 10: Understand the real and perceived value
[00:30:41] Diana White: So, number 10, understand the real and perceived value of whatever it is you want to do.
[00:30:49] Eric Miller: Yeah, this is getting a little bit into the weeds. And, sometimes when I’m working with start-ups really get into this, because it’s really, really important to understand, what you, what you want to accomplish. Let’s do something simple. Like let’s go back to cutting paper, right? So, what is the real value of you cutting that paper? Before you invest in more scissors, learning how to use the scissors, getting the right paper, you know, writing a procedure to cut the paper. What’s the value, what’s the real value of you doing that? And then you have to look at the rest of the organization, your customer and their organization, whatever that network is, that’s impacted by you cutting that paper.
And how do they perceive that value? Right? So, if your customers perceive. your paper cutting is the most important thing you do. Even if it’s not, you should probably invest time and money, right? Because the perceived perception is more important than real. but you got to know the real value because if you don’t know the real value, you can’t fix things, you can’t optimize, you can’t get where you want to go. You’ve got to really know both and know the difference between both. And that’s true in sales. That’s true at management. It’s true in engineering. It’s true in personal relationships and, the disconnect between perceived and real is where a lot of businesses really struggle.
and they, they perceive the value in a certain way, but the real value is totally different, and they put all their time and effort in the perceived value, and they ended up with a real value that the market doesn’t respond to.
[00:32:15] Diana White: And, as an entrepreneur in residence, as an advisor, as a mentor, how do you work with these founders that, they’re totally off base with what’s perceived and what they wanted the value to be, uh, you and I both have come across founders that are, I created this to be used a certain way.
That is how the world will use it. And that is all I’m going to talk about.
I’m not calling any profession out here. We love you doctors.
[00:32:52] Eric Miller: And it’s true in every, and I stereotype that’s my bias. I think you have to get to basics right. Of, what I generally go in this engineering training mainly is the root causes, right? So, let’s, let’s say you are with a doctor that’s and this is very common. We develop medical devices is a doctor will develop a medical device because they want to do a procedure a certain way. But they happened to be the only one that wants to do it that way. but there’s, there’s a lot of value in the product. And if you can get them to accept the fact that it can be used in different ways, you can get significant benefits for patients and financial benefits. And so, we tried to do is the root cause.
what is this procedure for you? Why do you want to do this? all those exercises of asking why, so you want to, remove the gallbladder faster, so don’t, don’t go to your, your solution. So, what’s keeping you from removing it fast right now. Let’s uh, oh, well, your device actually solves these four problems, as well as the problem you care about.
Okay. Let’s do some research. Let’s talk to some of the people. Well, people care more about those. The real value is those two of those other four values. Oh, okay. You know, you got to get ego out of the way and, and each person is different. Sometimes it doesn’t work with folks. Sometimes you just got to get some people respond to just being forceful.
And I’ve done that before. I was like, look, no, one’s going to fund you. Unless you change your value proposition. It’s not going to happen. You will not get funded. And they storm off. They go out, they don’t get funded and then they come back, and they go, okay, what should I change my, my position. Um, and. If you can guide them to the answer themselves, it’s always better.
Uh, but if can’t, sometimes you got to be forceful. I think it goes back to some of the other things we talked about, or you got to understand, you got to walk in their shoes, you got to understand what the priorities are. And look at your own biases. That’s thing I have to deal with is because I look at it from a certain perspective, but what are their biases as well and adjust all those.
And try and try and do it sometimes. we’ll go back to the one about, uh, sometimes you have to fire them, right? We’re not going anywhere on this one, so let’s move on, but don’t burn the bridge because they might figure it out. Come back.
[00:34:56] Diana White: Exactly. For sure. Eric. I already knew, uh, when you agreed to come on the podcast, that you would have some amazing lessons and, and I wasn’t disappointed, this has been fabulous, but I can’t let you go away with just 10.
I got to give you a curve ball. Okay. You’ve had a lot of experience. You’ve got a lot of wisdom and you’ve gone through a lot of transformation. We all have. What have you had to unlearn in your life?
[00:35:26] Eric Miller: Yeah. So, a lot. I think the biggest one is, to not be so hard on myself,
[00:35:34] Diana White: you know,
[00:35:35] Eric Miller: I know, I don’t know. I don’t know of a lot. I mean, people are driven by a lot of different things. A lot of people are driven by being hard on themselves. And I, it took me a long time to realize that that’s not the only way to drive yourself forward.
Um, and you know, I think it, I don’t, I’m not there. I I’ll admit, yeah, it’s a constant battle. I got to take that voice sometimes and put it on the shelf and tell it to shut up for a little while. Um, but it’s still there talking on the shelf. you know, it’s. You know, you, you make us a simple mistake.
You’re that angry at yourself? Yeah, I do that every day, you know? Um, and I’m still, I’m still unlearning that I’m unlearning that capability. The, hopefully, you know, and, and it has, it’s much, much better. Yeah. It’s much better than it used to be. Um, and it allows me to move forward. Um, and that’s the problem with being hard on yourself.
it can be a way to teach, but it, it slows you down. It really slows you down and not fun.
[00:36:35] Diana White: And it’s not fun. And I will say I’ve had a, you know, several talks with myself. would you talk to your daughter this way? Are you kidding me? Would you talk to your mentee this way? Would you talk to, somebody that reports to you this way?
I mean, this is, this is ghastly. What you’re doing inside your brain here. And sometimes it works. Sometimes I get a wakeup call and I’m like, wait a minute. You’re absolutely right. I shouldn’t be doing this. And sometimes I’m just too far gone. What else
[00:37:02] Eric Miller: would you get over that? Once the, I would say once the brain chemicals started going, I just got to ride it out, but I that’s exactly what I do is, uh, in, in work situations when I’m like.
Um, I love to program, and I don’t do it. I don’t do it anymore. And I really miss it. But you know, one of the problems with programming is when I found a bug, when there was a bug and I found it, I would get really mad at myself. And then I remember I was coaching somebody that was a new engineer, helping them debug something.
And they’re like, don’t you get mad at yourself? Don’t you get mad when you find these bugs? I mean, I get so mad and I’m like with them, I wasn’t getting mad. Wait a second. I get angry with myself. So, it’s like exactly what you’re exactly right. It’s how would I treat somebody else? Cause it goes back to old rule.
Uh, the opposite. Is that a corollary legal and rule instead of treat, treat others, like you’d like to be treated, treat yourself like others would treat you
[00:37:54] Diana White: that’s what Lincoln said.
[00:37:58] Eric Miller: Well, next to a picture of him and put a quote, Abraham Lincoln announced not that. Yeah. I think it’s really important. And that’s, that’s the thing.
I’ve unlearned the most and then I have more unlearning to do.
[00:38:11] Diana White: Sounds good. So, before we wrap this up, Eric, tell us a little bit about, uh, what you’re doing, where we can find you toasts about the podcast.
[00:38:21] Eric Miller: Yeah. So, the best place to find me is on LinkedIn. There’s a lot of Eric Miller’s out there. So, if you do Eric Miller and then our company name P A D T I’ll show right up.
Um, and that’s really the best way I, unless you are blatantly trying to sell me, uh, leads, I will, I will probably look friendly or LinkedIn when LinkedIn, um, you know, our website is www.padtinc.com. And the podcast, if you, if you are that small demographic of simulation users out there, that’s called the all things ANSYS.
And we’re the only answers podcast. So, it’s easy to find. you know, also I’ll put a plug in for, uh, please subscribe to the business journal. If you, if you do live in Phoenix. every once I do a column, if I on schedule, um, and their topics or some of the stuff we talked about today, And everything in between including my favorite article was how waterless urinals work is, was always fascinated on how that happens.
[00:39:19] Diana White: Love it, love it.
And I’ll put a disclaimer out there that cause you know, we’re international. You don’t have to live in Arizona. Phoenix business journal is online as well. Um, there’s a lot of great things coming out of Arizona and coming out of, uh, greater Phoenix. So, uh, you’re absolutely right. It’s a, it’s a good, uh, publication to subscribe to.
[00:39:40] Eric Miller: Yeah. And then, and read all my ghost-written articles, which she won’t be able to tell what they are because my name’s not on them.
[00:39:45] Diana White: We’ll do that for sure.
[00:39:48] Eric Miller: But if it’s really good and insightful I wrote it.
[00:39:52] Diana White: Either you or Einstein. Well, thank you so much, Eric. I’m going to close this out. you’ve been listening to 10 lessons it took me 50 years to learn sponsored by the professional development forum. PDF provides webinars, social media discussions, podcasts, parties, and it’s all free. Visit professional development, forum.org to learn more. Don’t forget to like share and subscribe to 10 lessons. And we also will appreciate your feedback.
So, follow us on social media and engage. Thank you once again, Eric Miller and thanks to the audience. We’ll see you next time. Thank you.