Blah blah blah

August 12, 2013

Everyone needs ways of talking about themselves. And many people  says “I’m <name> blah blah blah” in their own heads because we don’t really like to talk about ourselves to ourselves.

On the other hand, you need to practice your personal introduction so you don’t end up vocalizing something that sounds like “blah blah blah” to the other person.

I’ve got my twitter self-description:

I’ve made DNA scanners, inertial boxes for airplanes and racecars, children’s toys, a gunshot location system and other neat gadgets. Oh, and I wrote a book!

Which then links to my book. This is my basic go-to introduction in a networking context (not that I quote it, it provides the highlights of what I say when meeting someone new). People often want to hear more about one of my past projects, so it starts a conversation. Plus I give the other person the option to choose the conversation path while still talking about *me*.

Ok, that last bit is terrible. Conversations do not need to revolve around me. Though, if my intro lets a conversation start that way for a minute, that’s ok. My followup question back to them is either a request for info about them or a query as to why they are interested in whatever path we’ve gone down.

See, the goal is to have an introduction that starts a conversation. Like a chess game, it is the opening gambit. Plus, I’ve given myself a plan for dealing with whatever move they make. Hopefully after we’ve each moved twice, the conversation is in play and we can stop with these silly games, get to real connections.

I’ve been thinking about this today because I’ve been writing other introductions to myself.

I wrote Making Embedded Systems for O’Reilly. I have shipped dozens of projects from DNA scanners to children’s toys to FAA certified airplane system. I have made many simple embedded systems (so many projects seem to be LEGO blocks: processor, sensor, some software algorithms, connect to USB, Bluetooth or WiFi, etc.). I also enjoy projects with more complicated math (signal processing, machine learning, control loops). For example, I worked at ShotSpotter, identifying gunshots in the midst of busy city soundscapes. I’ve been an engineer, a manager, and a director.  While the others roles were interesting and rewarding, I prefer engineering. I am founder of Logical Elegance, a consulting company focusing on embedded software.

I wrote that as an introduction to a company that I’d like a contract with. I didn’t want to just send my resume as I hate getting cold calls. I think this describes my skills and personality without taking all day. It may need to be broken into paragraphs but I didn’t for that email.

I had to write a section on a form, 1000 characters of “achievements” so I took the above email-description, made a few tweaks and wondered what else made me who I am. So I added this at the end:

I’m easily amused but care deeply about the application and users of the products I work on.

It isn’t exactly an “achievement” but it fits (to me).

In the same form, I had to write a linkedin-like 300 character description “what I do” so here is what I came up with.

I write software for things that aren’t computers, whether you call that firmware or embedded software. I like the little processors, dealing with their RAM, ROM, cycle, power constraints. I design and implement system architectures.

These forms are tough because I want to keep saying the same thing over and over again. I have to work to find a different spin. Ideally, something that will make the person reading it contact me to work on something neat. 

I wonder if I should change my LinkedIn profile. Let’s see… yes, it is getting a little stale:

My goal is to make interesting gizmos that make the world a better place.

I have deep experience in embedded systems and signal processing over a broad range of applications: a gunshot location system, educational toys, inertial measurement in race cars and airplanes; and a DNA scanner.

I am interested in solving big picture problems, producing quality designs and implementation, and delivering excellent technology products.

I can help you with signal processing, hardware/software intersections, complex system problems and resource constrained systems.

All this and management and mentoring experience.

Specialties: Embedded systems!

Preferred languages: C/C++, Matlab, some assembly, some python

And then it goes into acronym bingo with processors that is annoyingly out of date. And that “Specialties” line needs to go. I’m glad I wrote my new intros without looking at this. It sounds too sell-y to me know. What was I thinking?

Well, I kinda merged my new one with my old one. You should be able to see it on my public profile.