Making Eyes Pop

There is nothing better, when you are in a commercial role, than teaching someone a new way to do things and watching their eyes pop. Recently, I had the pleasure of watching a senior faculty member experience some eye-popping results, but how it came about was different than what you might expect.

I have waited awhile and won't mention names, but this lab was doing what I would call "grad student grinding" experiments. Here is the protocol we have used for 20 years, it involves a lot of manual microscopy and even more manual analysis. Each experiment, from the time you put it on the microscope, will take you at least a full day to do correctly. We ran a Proof-of-Principle experiment on a high content system and gave them results to analyze in a few minutes. We then showed them how to automate the analysis and get those results in a few minutes as well. Here is where things were unexpected.

During our initial visits we discussed this with the graduate student doing the work and they had no interest whatsoever. Later, we ran into the faculty member behind these studies and mentioned what we were demonstrating, without realizing the above-mentioned graduate student was from that lab. The faculty member was very excited and from there the demo proceeded. So, contrary to the jokes many of us post on Twitter, in this case it was the senior faculty that saw the advantage to changing methods and the grad student who was stuck in "this is how we have always done it" mode.

Are you questioning "this is how we have always done it" in your organization?



The volume of the gas is considered equal to the volume of the container…Gas particles are far apart and will fill a container of any size and shape.

So, gas will expand or be compressed to fill its container. I find the time involved in raising kids to be the same way. It doesn’t matter if you have 1 or 4, they will fill your time. All of it. 

Likewise, for me the amount of parental freaking out I do it inversely proportional to the amount of freaking out already happening. More freaking out by someone else, I’m good. Kids acting crazy and there is no one else around? Prepare for me to fill that container. 

I was reminded of this during our second trip to the beach this morning. Kid4 was being whiny and not having fun. But, I found myself feeling pretty zen. Then, I realized there was a grandparent behind me that had been flipping out at her grandkids over small things. They seemed to be well behaved to me, so I guess subconsciously I felt the freak out container was full so my potential freak out level was zero. 

You know that line from the Hulk? Maybe the key to less freaking out for me isn’t to try and be zen, but to try and empathize with everyone in the situation. Feel their stress, internalize their stress, be less stressed myself. 

In my field, we do a lot of large group sales. I am currently working on a sale in which there are at least 10 to 15 stakeholders. How do you satisfy that many different people? In my own life, I just recently switched to AT&T fiber. I felt like it was a good decision because I would save some money and get faster Internet speed. But, it hasn’t worked out that way.

We still have our Time Warner Internet and router running. I’ve been using various website speed tests on a bunch of different computers in a series of different locations. The result is that I get better Internet connection through the AT&T fiber and router when I am near their location, but as I move away it gets worse. But, my wife’s new MacBook Pro gets much better connectivity through the old router. If she comes within site of the routers, then the new router works better. But, she works for an online education company and needs fast Internet. There are places in our house where we used to get connectivity and now don’t. The router placement was suggested by AT&T.

What do you do when one of the buyers in the deal is unhappy after delivery?

  1. Take an honest look at your assumptions. Whether a buyer or a seller, it’s important to be honest with yourself about the assumptions you made during the sale. I had spoken with my neighbors and they raved about how great their connection speed was with fiber. I assumed that we all had equal connectivity at the time. Maybe that’s not true. I might’ve had much greater connection speed before AT&T fiber, than they did.
  2. Ask for a service visit.  Life isn’t perfect and neither are products. It might be that some settings are incorrect or some other changes could be made to improve the speed. Ask the company to come in and make sure everything is working properly.
  3. Determine if there are modifications they can be made to solve the issue. When I was selling for a previous company I walked into a situation where a past sales person had made some promises that the new equipment didn’t meet. But, I was able to show some other functionality isin the system that met their needs. It wasn’t exactly what they had been promised, but it delivered nearly identical results. Do you have a better router AT&T?
  4. Have a non-emotional discussion about returning your item. Sometimes, things just don’t work out. If that’s the case then you have to think about returning the item that you purchased or taking back the item that you sold. He doesn’t have to get emotional

I was a selfish scientist. Now, at the time I did not know I was a selfish scientist but instead a person who wanted to surprise others with a completed package of results. That did not happen very often, but what did happen was that I locked people out of my day-to-day science. Collaboration was not something I valued, instead I was “independent”. Starting with my postdoctoral fellowship at Duke I began collaborating mentally but not physically. There were many long and interesting discussions about what interactions might take place during embryogenesis, but no collaboration on experiments to prove it.

My first real experience with collaboration came at Coastal Carolina University when I co-taught an MAT course on Reproductive Biology. It was fun, thinking and planning out how to teach this course, what materials to use, who would teach what lessons. Not long later I ended up at UNC-Chapel Hill as Core Director at the UNC Neuroscience Center. This is where  my interest in collaboration really grew, but in a unique direction. I was writing and spearheading equipment grants and in the process of finding new grants I came across several opportunities that weren’t right for me, but were for two or more faculty members at UNC. I found great joy in connecting faculty members to these grant opportunities.

After my transition to sales, I have found that collaboration is the norm. If you are a customer and you are not collaborating with your sales professionals then you are missing out on an opportunity. If you area sales person and are not collaborating with your customers to find the best solution, then you are doing it wrong.

Peterson Beach

When you can’t go to the beach, do your best to bring it to you. 

Mushroom Coffee

About to have my first @foursigmatic mushroom coffee with cordyceps and chaga. Will post any positive or negative effects in comments. 

I am quickly becoming a shroom convert, the legal kind! My next task will be to make my own mushroom logs.

My laptop has been down and gone for about a week and a half. I have been working using my iPhone and iPad. But, there are just some things that I can’t accomplish using those devices. It’s been kind of nice! Here are a few positive side effects of not having a laptop. 1. Figured out some new apps on the iPad. It’s hard to do to finger typing for in-depth work on the iPad. I’ve been using some notes apps and writing apps that are very useful. Now I need a good organization App. 

 2. Visual planning. I got a big drawing pad and a bunch of colored sharpies and wrote out or drew my strategic plan for the year. I even uploaded this plan to our company website as a picture. No text.

 3. I picked up the phone! So easy in this day and age to just keep bouncing emails back-and-forth between people. But, that is less easy when you have to to finger type everything on the iPad. So, I have been picking up the phone and calling people to resolve issues or set up long-term plans. Definitely a change I will be keeping.
I will be getting my laptop back today. I am hoping to be more productive, and yet not forget the lessons of the great laptop drought of 2017.

Mushroom coffee

Okay, am I a total marketing pawn? Sure. But, I am thinking of trying out the mushroom coffee from @foursigmatic . I like the idea of decreasing the caffeine content and the acidity. 
On a related note, my dentist just told me my Seltzer is eating away my enamel. Anyone have a pH meter I can use to look at the acidity of my water?

I am using Siri to write this as I walk around the casino. Forgive any Errors. I don’t have enough time to proofread.Bit of a weird situation, since my first night in Vegas is for a business meeting. Flew out. Had a big company dinner until about nine. And basically went back to my room and went to bed. Woke up at 4 AM did some work and head to the gym. My take on the casino, is that there isn’t enough gambling. I realize that probably sounds weird.  casino is basically restaurants and shops. There’s actually very little gambling going on. I guess my time and casinos was back in the late 80s and early 90s when It was about to gambling.

I blame the election. 

I had a number of dissatisfying meetings or lack of meetings this week. Customers who have asked me to drop everything and provide last minute quotes, those who blew off training and then asked for additional training, some people who asked for help with grants. This week those same people wouldn’t return my calls or emails. 

I blame it on the election. Whether that is actually the reason or not, I think the important thing is to remember that everyone has their own life. You never know whether someone just lost an election, or found out a loved one is ill, or maybe they just had too much of a good time last night. Regardless, keep in mind that what you might view as a slight is probably just preoccupation. 

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