Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Leadership by Stefan Posey

The following tips/ words of wisdom are from the past president of the Georgia Tech RoboJackets  Stefan Posey (stefan.posey@gmail.com) 

Time, Sacrifice, Effort & Who works for who

I never ask others to do more than me, to put in more time, to put in more effort, or make bigger sacrifices. You will always work for the people below you as they depend on you to achieve their goals and meet their milestones. They don’t work for you. They work for themselves and you work for them. This is true for both volunteer and paid jobs. Quality people can and will, if needed, find other ways to do what they need to do. The ones that step up and try to match you in at least one of the ways (time, effort, or sacrifice) those will be your core of dependability. To keep these people you must remember the above as they can find another source of compensation should they feel inclined to do so.

To Quote The Game “I need some meditation so I can lead my people”

Being the workaholic that I am I really suck at this. But its true you do need it. I like rap/hip hop (ATL stuff & pac), quality R&B, big cars with relaxing rides, and a decent movie/tv episode. Also hanging with people that don’t constantly need help and can think on their own. Watch out for those under you. Understanding what's going on outside of the project can give you perspective and help you enable your team to be more effective. You will be largely surprised by what's up behind the scenes. When people are pushed hard they can and will break in unpredictable ways. You are not an exception to this. Be aware as the definition of hard is variable.

Be Prepared

Thats the best lesson from scouting. Yes, I’m infact an Eagle Scout. People may ask why on a project do you have spares of X, extra cash, and they won't understand. Some will even say that having extra of Y “just because something might happen” or there are unknowns is retarded. Don’t listen to these people. I keep a bottle of motor oil, trans fluid, a rubber mallet, jumper cables, and some type of canned food in my car. Those items aren't always for me.


Money does one thing and one thing only. It expedites the resolution of easier problems. Its a tool never forget that. Always focus on the cash I/O when trying to diagnose situations. Meaning you need X, how much are you burning, how much do you have, and how much are you keeping in reserves. The proper reserve amount is really dependent on what you're doing you’ll find this out after a few disasters. A good starting point to try and estimate what you might need as backup would be to look at the problem or task that is the most critical that has the most unknowns. Then looking at the cost of reattempting failures in this path.


The best ones always present themselves in strange and non typical circumstances. I once showed up to a 1.5 hour midterm 45 min late. Walked to the front of the class requested a test from the professor and was handed one. Apparently that was the ballsiest thing they'd ever seen. The end results weren’t great, but I did do pretty good on the second half which the entire class failed. Doing that on 2hrs of sleep wasn’t going to be spectacular anyways. Ended up spending the night cleaning up shop for a suprise safety inspection as a few days before the the high school group had shipped their bot and the shop was pretty rough. The point is sometimes things that might seem overambitious are a lot simpler than you initially think. Also you will have to fly from the seat of your pants so get comfortable with it. Acting without perfect info is often mandatory.

Soft Power and Helping People Out

Personal favors are worth more than you think. True helping someone out is a bet, but its a bet thats paid off more than once for me. An example I will share: Often when running my team in our shop people would drop by asking for help or advice on a project. One day a girl showed up stating that she had heard this could be the place to get some wood cut for a project for a class. I didn’t really have time, but it was simple and fast (ended up being late to a meeting). Sort of forgot about this girl for a bit because it was so random and simple (for me). Fast forward a few years this person is highly involved with ANAK and tries to help us out when our shop is getting torn down. Quality people will do what they can to help you out in the future and those that don’t won't be worth your time later on.

Chains of Command & Asking Questions

All chains of command are doomed to failure. This can be both good or bad depending on who and where you are in it. Perpetually sitting at the top can lead to blindness of this. You should try to jump in occasionally when you can if only for diagnostic reasons. When given a path to create information flow that covers many links do it. Just because people above or below you have responsibilities doesn’t mean they are fulfilling them or understanding them. Find out because you need them to be functional so you can be effective. To do so I routinely will ask multiple people the same / similar questions. Also the same person variations on the same question. Is there miscommunication, is the communication slow, which direction is the speed and from which point do things travel from the slowest and the fastest?


All players should know everything (or as much as possible) about the objectives. My approach and what I think works is email lists. That way team / subteam X knows where team Y is. I keep my email bulleted and in task form. If I need someone to do X the task lists starts with their name. Everyone should get everyones task list as people will need to collaborate. No one has time to read through paragraphs to figure out what you need them to do and they might miss something or interpret it wrong.

Small Details

These can be very important for overall implementation. There are people that spend allot of time getting that plastic bezel to feel just right on that mobile device you hold in your hand and make it happen the exact same way thousands of times. Its true small details can make or break any project or product. However small details should not hold up an entire projects progress. I call this the “tables and chairs” problem. If you're running an event and your biggest concern is where do those go and what color your balloons will be your either really close to done or impossibly screwed. From what I’ve seen it's often the latter.

Situational Awareness & The Critical Path

I would always make people plan out what they need to do, what they need to do it (tools, people, money), and define the minimum required functionality. Your first step should be to see how those under you see the problem. An example could be “Man I’m really having problems implementing sensor X, but the robot can’t yet drive and competition is in 1.5 months in a foreign country that doesn't speak your language.”  Next up,

  • What is your critical path? You might have more than one.
    • Sometimes you can redefine these to alter their dependencies and as a result decrease some bottleneck in project flow.
    • I like to simply define a critical path as relatively long serial steps that can’t be broken down into parallelized actions.

  • You need to figure out what resources do they need?
  • Why aren’t these resources or tools currently available?
  • Is this for test or final product?
The last one is an interesting one as for testing and validation you might have allot of substitution possibilities. In the end the robot needed to be able to drive first and the degree of  implementation of the sensor was scaled back.

Overoptimism, Being a Pessimist, & Measuring Success

I’m pretty much a everything is always screwed and will be so we need to man up and deal with it type of person. Sometime I get a bit of static from others due to this. However it is a quality of mine that has allowed me to look at situations and try to anticipate possible failure paths. Be wary of blindly over optimistic people they can cause strange problems to occur. In the end success is what you make of it to yourself. However, how others see it can make for quality feedback.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Great Leaders Can Achieve Great Results

Here is a story of leadership from one of our new readers Savannah Anderson (savannah.andersen@gatech.edu) from Georgia Tech!

Savannah's Story
The task was clear...build a 23' long rolling tribute to our football team and our beloved mascot (the Purple Hurricane). It must recognize our opponent (the Buccaneers), be based on the board game Battleship and include our gargantuan chicken-wire hurricane stuffed with purple tissue paper. The funds to pay for this $700 masterpiece must be raised. Lastly, all work must be done solely by students within a supervised 10 hour period. Translation: Once again I would have to peddle doughnuts on street corners, hunt for supplies and beg for volunteers.
I would love to say that my most notable leadership experience had lasting benefit to humanity, but really, the construction of our senior classes' homecoming float was undeniably a task that would challenge the most seasoned executive. Having been class president during both my sophomore and junior years, I have learned what to expect......we labor to construct awesome floats, undeniably superior to those of our competitors, yet each year receive disappointing 2nd place finishes.
So with me at the helm, approximately 30 of my classmates and I set out to build. Bound together by our task, we toiled. We painted, taped, glued and stuffed. For the first time in 3 years, it was actually fun! It was not the frustrating and chaotic experience of years past, but rather a memorable time of fellowship. It was truly a memorable finale to our 4 years together. And as a bonus, we paraded away with a blue ribbon.

What Have We Learned?

Savannah's story shows us that when a leader has a cause that they care about they bring people together to help accomplish it. Their drive as a team can lead to outstanding results. Do you have a story about leadership? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Top Ten Leadership Tips

Below are a few links with different peoples top ten leadership tips! The ten tips below were taken from Bob Schultz Leadership Lessons slide deck.

1. Have Vision 

"Can you tell me which Road to take"
"Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat
"I don't know," Alice answered
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter"

"Begin with an end in mind." - Steven Covey

"Without a vision, the people will perish." - Proverbs 29:18

"We need men who can dream of things that never were." - John Kennedy

 "Why not go out on a limb? That's where the fruit is." - Will Rogers

"Only those who dare to fail greatly achieve greatly." - Robert Kennedy 

2. Drive Change Through Action

"Strong reasons make for strong actions." - William Shakespeare

"Change before you have to." - Jack Welch

"To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often." - Winston Church Hill

3. Be Optimistic, Expect Success

"Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right." - Henry Ford

"If you can dream it, you can do it." - Walt Disney

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." - Alan Kay

"Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier." - Colin Powell

"I've never seen a monument erected to a pessimist." - Paul Harvey

4. Welcome Problems, Failure isn't Fatal

"Problems are only opportunities in work clothes." - Henry J Kaiser

"A problem is a change to do your very best." - Duke Ellington

"Smooth seas do not make a good sailor." - African Proverb

"Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently." - Henry Ford

"Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn." - Harriet Beecher Stowe

5. Leader Behavior is Crucial

"Whatever you are, be a good one." - Abraham Lincoln

"Nothing of significance is accomplished without self-sacrifice and enthusiasm." - Dr. Albert Sweitzer

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." - Theodore Roosevelt

"It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself." - Eleanor Roosevelt

"Ask yourself a question: is my attitude worth catching?" - Zig Ziglar

6. Care About your People

"It takes two weeks for employees to treat customers the same way management treats them" - Sam Walton

"People never care how much you know until they know how much you care." - John C. Maxwell

"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much" - Helen Keller

7. Take Care of Yourself.

"People who can not find time for recreation are obliged sooner or later to find time for illness" - John Wanamaker

"To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it " - Mother Theresa

8. Be Lifelong Learner
"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood"- Madame Curie

"Over the long run, superior performance depends on superior learning" - Peter Senge

"No matter what you want to accomplish, you are going to need more knowledge that you have now." - Brian Tracy

9. Give Back to the Community 

"From what we get, we can make a living; from what we give, however, makes a life" - Arthur Ashe

"There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up" - John Andrew Holmes

"No one is useless in this world lightens the burden of it for anyone else." - Charles Dickens 

10. Do the Next Right Thing

"Time is always right to do what is right" - Martin Luther King Jr.

"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing" - Theodore Roosevelt

Even more leadership tips:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Lead By Example

A wise man or women does not just talk the talk. They walk the walk.Their walk is not just down the path to their own success. They reach down and pull others up. A great leader knows about sustainability, tradition and legacy. When you look up and see a great leader they do not just flaunt their power. They spread the belief that others can achieve as well. They strive to leave their mark while gaining a following of others. They mentor those below them. They teach others how to master their strengths and to strengthen their weaknesses. I have had a great many role models and mentors over the past few years. Today I want to highlight Jerica Richardson. A strong women who taught me most about sustainability, tradition and legacy.

Jerica has a passion for helping others(just like me). She has a smile that lights up a room and a warm spirit that you can feel from miles away. When Jerica looked out into the world all she could think was: I want so much more. Jerica wanted more for her family, city, country and the world. She knew that one great leader was not enough. More people must not only be inspired but trained to take their goals, aspirations and plans for humanity and make them happen. She shared with me that we needed to create a system or an organization to create more leaders. Not just leaders who know how to give commands and delegate but leaders who truly care and are driven by an unstoppable passion. We have to be able to sustain this.

How do you make something withstand the test of time? You engrave it on someones heart. You burn it into their mind so that it shines through in their character. There are few things that last forever but something that can is tradition. Traditions are sacred and they are treasured. They make a people unique. They bound them together and set them apart. Most importantly traditions are shared. This keeps them a live and thriving. There is a unique quality about tradition that always amazes me. Traditions can't be forced. There comes a time when a choice must be made. One must think to themselves: "Do I believe in this?". That is so powerful because when the answer is yes there are few things that can change that.

We need to find a way to encourage more people to be leaders and saturate this planet with mentors, role models and heroes. This will be our legacy. Our time has come and they days of old are gone. We have to deal with our current state together. We have to work harder but more importantly, like Jerica, we have to want more. A legacy is strong and can change a life. I am sure you can think of someone and how their accomplishments, lifestyle and deeds have pushed you to ask more of yourself. You can't leave a legacy if you don't do. Serving is what I will do. I will use technology to make the world a better place and I will make a difference in the lives of others. What will you do?

When we have leaders that can be sustained, who believe in a tradition of service and excellence, and they leave legacies to inspire our youth then I think Jerica can rest easy. Then I think the world will truly see change and I would be honored to be a part of it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Leader of Me

"I am the leader of me,
I decide who I’m meant to be
Things are never as hard as they seem
I’ve found my passion, I’m living my dream"

The qualities of a good leader are not just traits that they demonstrate in the boardroom. These skills are displayed in their personal life as well.  If you want to be a better leader you need to start at home, with yourself. Hold yourself to as high and as rigorous a standard that you would your team. Know your own strengths but more importantly your weaknesses and surround yourself with people who can teach and improve you. Take responsibility for your life and all of your choices and the world will be at your command. Stand strong and never stop fighting to be a better you. Only then can you impact others, change the world and accomplish anything you ever dreamed of.

A man who masters himself cannot be mastered by another.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Oh Brother!

Leadership, like most skills, starts in the home. Today I want to focus on the not so obvious home example of leadership: your siblings.

If you are a little brother or sister you probably looked up to your older siblings. What ever they did you wanted to try. You wanted to talk like them, dress like them and hang out with their friends. As a big brother or sister you were the trendsetter in the household. You were constantly pushing the bounds of what your parents would allow you to do and showing your younger siblings the ropes.

You parents expect you to and I want to challenge you as an older sibling to be role model to your younger siblings. The amount of trust, respect and admiration they have for you is amazing. Whether you are 50 or 15 your younger siblings are watching what you do. They reach out to you for help and learn from your mistakes. One of the best way to do this is to have a very open communication with them. Share your faults with them and let them know that you have been in their shoes in the past. Support them when they try new things and let them know that despite what you have done they can create their own destinies.

Growing up one of my favorite things to do was to play school with my little sisters. I tried to teach them basic math and spelling because it was something I struggled with in elementary school. Now my sisters want to pediatricians and nanotechnologist. I can't help but think that my lessons had something to do with that. :-).

Everyday you get many chances to impact another persons life. Take today to reach out to your siblings and talk to them about how being a leader can impact their future.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

EDEN BodyWorks & Empact100 List

Brought to you by Empact, the Startup America Partnership, and a number of other partners, the Empact Showcase is a compilation of the top entrepreneurs in the US age 30 and under with revenues over $100,000.

The Empact Showcase is a testament to the impact entrepreneurs make on our economy and an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs.

The Empact100 List recognizes the top 100 of those companies. In 2011, the inaugural list of companies was recognized in a ceremony at the White House for their achievements. Combined, the 2011 Empact100 list of companies had contributed over 2,700 jobs to the economy and controlled $374 million in revenue.
All final 2012 Empact100 List honorees will be invited to attend a recognition event at the White House in the afternoon on Friday, September 28, 2012.  
As President and CEO of EDEN BodyWorks I have recently been notified that I made it to the final round of judging. On September 6th I will be notified if I made the final 2012 Empact100 List. 

Vote for EDEN BodyWorks here by liking the showcase page. These votes help show the support that I get from the community for my business. Show me some love!! Thanks for your support!