How to Avoid Getting Caught Up in Career-Development Details as an Engineer

4-29-14 Post RoundedHere’s a HUGE challenge engineers face in their career development: they get caught up in the details of day-to-day tasks and forget to look at the big picture and how all of their actions affect it.

This is totally understandable. Our job as engineers, from a technical standpoint, is to make sure that all of the details are addressed. Not doing so could potentially result in catastrophic failures. The challenge becomes avoiding that mindset in our career- and personal-development efforts when it will hurt us.

Examples of Thinking Small [Read more...]

TECC 016: The Engineering Career Coach Podcast – Nine Points to Help Prepare for and Get the Most out of Engineering Conferences, with Christian Knutson, the Engineer Leader

4-8-14 InTheSands Knutson RoundedIn this session of The Engineering Career Coach (TECC) Podcast, I speak with Christian Knutson, PE, author of The Engineer Leader blog. Knutson has over twenty years’ experience in leadership. He learned, and earned, his expertise in one of the most demanding professional arenas available: the U.S. military. During a career in the U.S. Air Force spanning two decades, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel, he has led military and civilian teams in the international arena performing engineering, construction, and project and program management at locations across the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East.

Engineering Career CoachThe career-changing tip at the end of the show will discuss one very important aspect of your personal development that you must pay attention to at all times.

“The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck.” - Tony Robbins

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A Good Engineering Leader Can Dance to Any Song

3-31-14 Leaders Dance

One of my goals this year is to spend an equal amount of time pursuing personal goals as I do professional goals, as in the past it has seemed that 75% or more of my efforts have been focused on my professional life. To that end, my wife and I have decided to take up dance lessons. We both like dancing, and the lessons ensure that we spend some time together, which isn’t always easy between job responsibilities and our three young kids. We have learned many different dances so far, from Latin dances like the salsa and cha-cha to ballroom dances like the waltz, foxtrot and even the country two-step.

The most important thing I have learned about dancing is that it’s all about the beat of the music. Regardless of what the song is or what era it is from, if you can hear the beat in the music, then you can determine which dance goes with that beat. For example, there are many songs to which you can do either a Latin dance or the rumba, but you wouldn’t know that unless you can hear the beat.

What does this have to do with being a good engineering leader? Everything. [Read more...]

TECC 015: The Engineering Career Coach Podcast – How to Break into the Field of Sustainability with Professional Soccer Player Turned Professor Leidy Klotz

Leidy Klotz on SustainabilityIn this session of The Engineering Career Coach (TECC) Podcast, I interview Dr. Leidy Klotz, associate professor at the Glen Department of Civil Engineering at Clemson University. Dr. Klotz explains his journey from engineering student to professional soccer player to professor.

Engineering Career CoachThe career-changing tip at the end of the show will provide you with a resource that you can use to learn more about sustainability.

“Leadership is influence.” – John C. Maxwell

“The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Engineering Productivity: How and When to Break a Task Up into Smaller Steps

3-18-14 Engineering Productivity Rounded

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I often write about efficiency and productivity in the workplace, as I believe lack of these things is the leading cause of engineers working too many hours.

I believe that one of the most important aspects of being productive is the ability to focus for a long period of time, which can be difficult in a world full of distractions. Two different systems allow me to sharpen my focus, work more productively and generate high-quality results.

First, I set aside a certain time of the day or week to do certain tasks. For example, I usually write blog posts early Friday morning, at 5:30 a.m. By doing this consistently, I know that that is my time to write and only write. I focus intently on that task and don’t let anything else get in the way. [Read more...]

TECC 014: The Engineering Career Coach Podcast – Three Key Pieces of Engineering Career Advice from Randy Over – ASCE National President

 Randy Over ASCE

In this session of The Engineering Career Coach (TECC) Podcast, I interview Randal (Randy) Over, PE, FASCE—national president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Randy shares some key pieces of career advice and also some recommendations for achieving work-life balance and achieving full engagement in your career.

Engineering Career CoachThe career-changing tip at the end of the show will challenge you to implement some measures to achieve work-life balance in your engineering career.

“Leadership is influence.” —John C. Maxwell

Listen to this session and learn: [Read more...]

How to Be Fearless in Your Engineering Career

Be a Fearless Engineer RoundedLast week, my seven-year-old daughter was off from school, so my wife and I decided to take her skiing one day. She had never been skiing before, and I was interested to see how she would react to it. Just thinking about it, if you took me somewhere that I had never been before, put me in awkward boots with five-foot-long pieces of thin wood underneath them, and told me to ski down a mountain at high speeds, I would be terrified.

Then I realized I am 35 years old, she is seven, and kids are fearless. That’s right—fearless. She was excited from the time we left our house—no questions asked. She skied the bunny hill for most of the morning with relative ease and then graduated to the “real” ski lift in the afternoon. [Read more...]

TECC 013: The Engineering Career Coach Podcast – How to Improve the Quality of Your Engineering Design Work and Boost Your Confidence

Engineering Quality ControlIn this session of The Engineering Career Coach (TECC) Podcast, I am going to help a young structural engineer overcome a serious challenge he faces. He has been leaving some important technical details off of his design plans, which is extremely dangerous and can affect not only his career development but also the safety of the public. [Read more...]

Engineers, Everything You Accomplish After Lunch Should be a Bonus

2-18-14 Engineer Productivity RoundedI recently read a book called Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. The book details the daily routines of the most successful authors, screenwriters, and painters of all time. One of the recurring themes for most of the artists in the book was that they did their most productive work before noon. Some of them would write 3,000 words before lunchtime, then they would spend the rest of the day relaxing, exercising, or gallivanting out on the town.

Yet most engineers I know today spend the mornings checking e-mail, making phone calls, or participating in unproductive meetings. I understand, because this is what I did as an engineer. Now, I am not trying to compare engineers to writers—the workplace settings are certainly different—but my goal in this post is to give you a strategy to be more productive in the morning and subsequently overall in your approach.

Your Preparation [Read more...]

TECC 012: The Engineering Career Coach Podcast – Five Steps for Becoming the Best Engineer in Your Field

SESSION 12 big RoundedIn this session of The Engineering Career Coach (TECC) Podcast, I am going to provide five very specific steps for becoming the best engineer in your field. I get this question every day in many different forms from engineers. Having a recipe for how to excel in your specific discipline is invaluable, and that’s what I want to give engineers in this podcast. [Read more...]