Glenn Hickman | Design Reviews, Interviewing Questions, & TASER
Who is Glenn Hickman?
Glenn Hickman is a technology executive with Arizona farmer roots focused on producing results in integrated hardware-software ecosystems. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering, and an MBA.
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engineers, people, senior engineer, taser, super, officer, wrap, prototypes, pretty, engineering, robots, egg, developing, testing, bugs, idea, design, team, tased, tether
Presenter, Glenn Hickman, Aaron Moncur
Aaron Moncur 00:00
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Hi, everyone. We’ve set up this being an engineer podcast as an industry knowledge repository, if you will, we hope it’ll be a tool where engineers can learn about and connect with other companies, technologies, people, resources and opportunities. So make some connections and enjoy the show.
Glenn Hickman 01:03
Like Everyone claims to be a super hard worker, right? But then if you send an email at 7pm, like no one responds like being that guy who responds at 7pm or I think that makes a big difference and helps you stands out from all the people who say that they’re hard workers.
Aaron Moncur 01:31
Welcome to the being an engineer Podcast. Today we are speaking with Glenn Hickman. Glenn is a technology executive with Arizona farmer roots focused on producing results in integrated hardware software ecosystems. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and an MBA. Glenn, welcome to the show.
Glenn Hickman 01:54
Thanks for having me.
Aaron Moncur 01:55
So what made you decide to become an engineer?
Glenn Hickman 01:59
Oh, yeah, I grew up on a chicken farm. actually kind of liked it. It’s kind of nice to take care of the animals. But in high school, I loved physics and biology. I didn’t like math that much. But it seemed like biomedical engineering was a pretty good combination of the, of the physics and biology. So that’s what I majored in at Stanford. Stanford, actually, at the time didn’t really have a super like rigorous program for it. They basically, they had you take all the mechanical engineering core classes, and then they had you take a lot of the biology classes that the pre meds had to take. So actually, I could have gone into med school afterwards, if I wanted to.
Aaron Moncur 02:43
What was it like growing up on a farm, especially as if at all, as it relates to being an engineer? Were there any lessons or mindsets that you developed growing up on a farm that had been useful to you as an engineer?
Glenn Hickman 02:57
Oh, let me think I mean, obviously, they’re super different. Maybe one would be you know, you shouldn’t as an engineer, you shouldn’t think that your job is just to do the design, and then sit back and wait for other people to do the testing. And the and the manufacturing. Similar to that, like, on a chicken ranch, you have to be prepared to step up at like, wherever you can, if, if someone’s sick, or if a big order comes in, you might have to work it at night or on the weekend. So maybe, I guess, like that kind of like the need to wear multiple hats, is maybe something that would carry over.
Aaron Moncur 03:35
Yeah, just strong work ethic in general. Yep. Did you ever have to make any of your own tools growing up on a farm?
Glenn Hickman 03:44
Um, yeah, you have to make, you know, like different. There’s like some pipes that need to be loosened. It’s you have to make like these weird. It’s like a wrench but with like a rubber cable, so you can grab onto a pipe and loosen it. So like small things here and there.
Aaron Moncur 04:02
Yeah, yeah. Nothing that you would hire an engineering firm to do you just figure it out on your own on the farm?
Glenn Hickman 04:10
Yeah, well, actually, most egg ranches nowadays have a lot of robots to get, right, really. And to bring food to the chickens and to stack the boxes on a pallet. But those robots are kind of off the shelf, you just, you just buy them from Europe. And they kind of work all day and you maybe have to, like put some oil on there. But you don’t really need any kind of engineering to keep the robots going.
Aaron Moncur 04:34
So do the robots have some kind of vision system on them so they can identify what’s an egg and what’s not an egg?
Glenn Hickman 04:40
Yeah, yeah, depending on the robot, you know, like for example, you know, there’s like eight different sizes of eggs so the robot grabs on to each one in the plant and weighs it and then depending upon the weight, kind of puts it in the in the right spot depending on the carton. You know, if it’s like small or extra large or jumbo
Aaron Moncur 04:59
then That’s amazing. And now the robots I’m used to working with like FANUC, or Universal Robots. These are not inexpensive pieces of equipment. Are the robots used in egg farms? Much less expensive? Or is the return on investment just there even with expensive industrial robots?
Glenn Hickman 05:19
They’re pretty pricey. Yeah, I mean, like, a simple one to stack boxes is maybe like 100 grand. And then the big fancy one to weigh every single egg is like a million bucks. But the margins are pretty thin in the egg business. So you kind of have to do whatever it takes to keep your costs down.
Aaron Moncur 05:36
Got it? Okay. Very cool. I had no idea that robots were being used to harvest eggs.
Glenn Hickman 05:42
Yeah, if you actually if you go to Mike sturdy jobs, micro he went to Oh, yeah, in like 2005 timeframe, and stuff. That’s awesome.
Aaron Moncur 05:56
Let’s see you you worked for a company called Taser for about seven years, I think most people like are at least familiar with the term Taser and may or may not associate it with the product that Taser now axon makes in here in Arizona, we all know Taser because they’re there in our backyard. But for those who aren’t familiar with the company, can you just share a little bit about what Taser now axon does?
Glenn Hickman 06:21
Yeah, so the Taser is like what you’ve seen in the movies or in some movies where it shoots a Dart 15 to 25 feet, and then it causes you to be paralyzed. It causes some pain, although that’s not really how it works. It It works by causing all of your muscles to flex and then you can’t move so the officer can arrest you safely. So yeah, that’s why I worked the first eight or so eight or so years. It’s not really like how it is in the movies were in the movies, people like shake a lot and they they’re in like horrible pain. And even after the five seconds, or whatever, the duration is up, they’re still in pain. That’s not how the Taser works. It it just causes you to flex all your muscles and you can’t really move. And then as soon as the officer lets go with a trigger, you feel perfectly fine. And you can walk around.
Aaron Moncur 07:11
Did you ever get tased yourself is like part of an initiation?
Glenn Hickman 07:15
Yeah, yeah, pretty much all the men volunteer because we’re stupid and the women don’t. But yeah, we did pretty much all the all the male employees do the five seconds and because like everyone thinks that you can fight it off, but you’re totally paralyzed because all your muscles are flexed and the physiology right worst it is. Yeah. Yeah.
Aaron Moncur 07:41
Do you fall to the ground? Are you able to remain standing during that five seconds?
Glenn Hickman 07:47
Well, in the real world, yeah, you would fall unless there’s someone there to catch you. But in, like in the office, when you volunteer, you’re either there laying down or someone’s there to, to like slowly lower you to the ground.
Aaron Moncur 07:59
Yeah. Okay. What was worse the anticipation of getting tased or the actual teasing?
Glenn Hickman 08:04
Oh, the anticipation Yes. is so much worse. Yeah, it’s some people do scream just because if you take a big breath, and then the shock of it causes you to scream. So sometimes you hear the screaming down at the bottom of the office and you that causes you to get nervous.
Aaron Moncur 08:20
What kind of torture is going on out there? Wow. Okay. If someone else touches you while you’re being tased, do they get shocked?
Glenn Hickman 08:28
Ah, no, you have to have both electrodes in you. Yeah. And then it just takes the shortest path between between the two electrodes. So the way the officers taught is to try to get one in your belly and one in your upper thigh. And then it’ll just go between those two points and kind of lock up all your chest and your leg muscles. So the officer can grab you
Aaron Moncur 08:49
got it. Okay. And you just fire it once right? You don’t have to fire once in the building and then fired a second time the thigh,
Glenn Hickman 08:56
right? Yeah, two darts come out with every every fire. So there are more shots if you if you miss or if you’re wearing a really thick jacket, like in the winter, it might struggle to spark through the jacket. So you might have to do a second shot to get at least to through the jacket.
Aaron Moncur 09:16
Got it? Okay. Well, one of the things that that you accomplish the Taser was developing a creative design review process. Can you talk just a little bit about a what what even is a design review? Why is it important and what can you share about the process that you developed? That engineering teams listening to this might be able to use?
Glenn Hickman 09:38
Yeah, I think the process that we developed was had different stages. So at the very beginning, the design review process is about some senior engineer looked at the requirements, you know, like if the battery life is supposed to be five years or something, and then he proposes his overall idea to which achieve the requirements. So, for example, it might be, I’m pretty sure I’m going to use this kind of a battery. Or if he doesn’t want to use a battery, he wants to use a super cap. And then this meeting should be pretty inclusive of not just all the engineers, but anyone who has an interest in technology. Because this is kind of the time to brainstorm everything, is there any other way to achieve the battery life are we sure this is the smallest and the cheapest possible way to achieve the battery life. So that’s kind of stage one is everyone gives their idea to this senior engineer, and he has to input all the ideas and be pretty humble that his idea might not be the best. And then toward the later stages of the program, as it progresses, the group of people invited to the meeting should go down, because then it’s getting very, like, on the, on the technical side to go into all the details, which like only engineers wouldn’t be able to contribute. So suppose if he chose a super cap as his idea, then a couple months later, when it’s time to spend a lot of money on the prototypes, before you do that, you would have all the senior engineers and as many engineers as you can to look at the execution of the super cap and say, is it the right size? Is it the right material? Did you put it in the right spot, all that kind of stuff, because the key is you’re trying like when you test a prototype, of course, you’re gonna have some bugs, and you’re gonna have to iterate. But the idea is your first real attempt spending real money on the prototype should be as good as you possibly can. You don’t want to be in that cycle of testing over and over. Because the first time you test you have like 15 bugs, and then you fix them. And then second time you test you have seven, the third time you test, you still have three, to try to bring the cycles down and solve as many problems as you can on paper. Because that’s the fast way and the cheap way. It’s always expensive to buy 1000 prototypes or whatever, and have the manufacturing team try to make it at night or on weekends, and then have the validation team do the testing. So you’re trying to reduce the cycle time of all the all the testing.
Aaron Moncur 12:09
Yeah, great. So it starts off as kind of a big all hands on deck type meeting, where everyone gives their input and ideas. Senior level engineer kind of filters out what what he or she thinks is, is the the most practical, logical approach. And then from there, the meetings, the design reviews are smaller, mainly involving the engineering team about
Glenn Hickman 12:31
it. Yep. And I think one small, funny story, I don’t know if it’s totally true. But there’s a myth at Apple that the scroll wheel on the first iPod was actually the idea of the CFO. So like the moral of the story was invite everyone to those, those early meetings, because you never know who might have a good idea.
Aaron Moncur 12:51
Interesting. Okay, great. Well, while at teaser, also, you grew their hardware team, hardware and firmware team from 35 to 75. Individuals, what were some of the strategies that you use to grow the team? And what were a couple of the biggest obstacles that you encountered? And how did you overcome them?
Glenn Hickman 13:11
Yeah, I think the key thing was we wanted to be rigorous with our interviews. But we’re a small team. So we didn’t want our engineers to spend all day interviewing and like they have real work to do. So we came up with questions that I think there’s some interviews have like some puzzle questions that are fun, but maybe not very, like realistic, or college type questions that aren’t reflective of your job. So we came up with questions that you would face on the job to try to get people’s real skill as easily or as quickly as we could. So like, for the electrical engineers, we’d give them a board that was intentionally, poorly done. And ask them to find all the bugs and find all the things that could be better. For the mechanical engineers, it was, you know, what’s your test plan to, to make sure that this device is going to be strong enough for the drop tests and give them like very, like real world problems, and get an idea of what it would be like to work with them. And then, if they’re doing well, because we do like, you know, five interviews or something, if they aced the first three, then at that point, like they’re awesome, so you need to stop grilling them, and start to make sure that they’re having a good time and kind of sell them on why they should join. Because no one wants to sit through like five hours of being grilled. So after the first three, if you aced it, then we’d start to chill out. And just try to get to know you and try to convince you to join nice,
Aaron Moncur 14:45
what were some things that you shared to convince people that this is where they want to be.
Glenn Hickman 14:50
Yeah, I think similar to wrap. The nice thing about axon and wrap is we’re not just making like widgets. We’re trying to do things that save lives. and help the officer do his job and make it so that people can be apprehended safely and without harm. And, you know, especially for these people who are mentally ill like they don’t, they don’t have like an evil bone in their body. They’re just like lost. And so it’s really sad when an officer has to use a gun or use the nightstick on some of these mentally ill people like there’s got to be a better way. Yeah, yeah. So that’s it’s a lot more fulfilling, like some of us here at rap, we could have gone to work for Apple or for Google probably made more money, but it’s just more fulfilling to be helping people.
Aaron Moncur 15:34
Yeah, there’s a lot to be said for the fulfillment, you find a new job? Well, after working for I think about a decade, maybe a little over a decade, you decided to go back to school and earn an MBA? What motivated you to make that choice? And if you had it to do over again, would you make the same choice?
Glenn Hickman 15:54
Yeah, I’d always kind of thought about it. And axon was going through a lot of transitions anyways. So it seemed like a good time. I’d always thought about it, because I feel like there’s engineering stereotypes out there that somehow you’re super good at math and physics, but you’re not good at the math of how to calculate the profit margin or something. You’re not sure like how to write a business plan, even though, you know, like, let’s be honest, like engineering school is like the hardest school, if you can get through engineering school, you can get through like any other Sure. But I feel like there’s some stereotypes out there that, Oh, you don’t know how to do marketing yet know how to make a profit. So I wanted to, you know, go to a great business school so that people couldn’t say that about me. And I don’t regret it. Like at all. Kellogg, especially, they like made it their mission to go after all the stereotypes of business school, and try to address them. So you know, some people say that you don’t actually learn that much in business school, or some people say it’s super boring. So they really, they really tried to teach you a lot, but have fun while doing it. And like, not to knock Stanford but the professors at Kellogg word way more engaging, and, you know, like, loose and free and, and telling some jokes. So yeah, it was pretty great. Even though with you know, the second half of my business school was all remote because of COVID. But it still worked out pretty good, because I was getting kind of sick of Chicago anyways, it was super cold. So I can come back to Phoenix anyway. Yeah.
Aaron Moncur 17:30
Back to the egg form. What were what were, I don’t know, maybe a couple of the what you feel most important lessons that you learned at business school that engineers in general might benefit from?
Glenn Hickman 17:45
Oh, well, I think in general, if you’re an engineer thinking about going the finance, math is going to be super easy for you compared to the math and engineering school. So that’s, like all the other non engineers in my classes were struggling with the finance math, but the engineers thought it was just a breeze. I think another thing is, I feel like if you’re outside of the industry, that marketing, you might think that marketing is about pretty artwork and clever advertisements and stuff. And like silly stuff like that, when actually the right marketing people think of it as strategy like What do my customers need? What problems in their life am I solving? What are some possible substitutes that I think I’m better than? So actually, like marketing should be pretty fun and strategic. It shouldn’t be? jarring, pretty pictures and stuff. Great. Yeah.
Aaron Moncur 18:42
Well, I’ll take a very short break here and share with the listeners that Team pipeline.us is where you can learn more about how we develop or how we help medical device and other product engineering or manufacturing teams, develop turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines to characterize inspect, assemble, manufacture and perform verification testing on your devices. We’re speaking with Glenn Hickman today. So Glenn, you’re you’re CEO of a company called Wrap. What can you tell us about rap? How did it get started? What what’s the problem that they’re trying to solve? Etc?
Glenn Hickman 19:19
Yeah, so rap allows the officer to shoot a tether around the suspect, from 15 to 25 feet away, so that the subject has kind of stopped in their tracks and the officer can engage them without causing any injury or pain. And so that was kind of the goal was there’s a large subset of situations where, you know, the officer should always try to talk it out first, but then sometimes things are just impossible to solve just by talking. And he’s forced to use other tools. Obviously, the gun is very dangerous. Even the team even like the Taser can cause some injuries. It’s like a broken arm or leg or even like an injury to the head if you fall. So there’s right if you fall. So the wrap doesn’t paralyze you. So in a way, it doesn’t work as good. But it’s for all the situations where you don’t want to use more severe levels of force. So you’re just a little bit tangled up, if you fall, you can still use your arms to slow yourself down. But mostly people don’t fall and they’re just kind of stunned for a second about what just happened because it’s loud and some kind of a rope is on your legs, all of a sudden, in that split second ad, being confused is enough for the officer to to rush in and arrest you or just like lead you away. So it’s kind of unlike the taser. The bullet is intended for less severe situations and you can use it you know, once a week or something early in the situation as things as soon as things are starting to get out of out of control, you can kind of use this to get things back under control. So a lot of us here are from Taser because we like the taser, but the Taser because it does cause some injury, officers just can’t use it that much. You know, it’s more of like a once a year thing, whereas the bola is more of a once a week thing. So it’s pretty cool to see oh, wow, for your product to be to be used that often. So
Aaron Moncur 21:26
yeah, watch the videos online. And it’s it’s pretty incredible, just from a technical or mechanical standpoint in how it works. You know, you see in the movies people thrown this is that what it’s called as the Ebola that wraps around your legs and causes people to you know, they can’t move anymore. I didn’t know what Ebola was. Anyway. Okay, so the the way that this thing, you know, fires from the handheld device and then wraps around someone’s waist or legs or arms really quickly, I imagine it Taser just figuring out how to get these projectiles to shoot out and pierce someone’s skin and just the right way, there’s no significant challenge there tactically, but the ball wrap. I don’t know, I could be wrong. To me, it seems like there is even more challenging than mechanics of figuring out how to get this rope to wrap around someone in a repeatable manner. What were some of the challenges that your team had to solve some of the technical challenges and developing the bolawrap?
Glenn Hickman 22:23
Yeah, obviously, we want it to be safe. So we can’t just you know, shoot it like a gun, because then it’s going really fast. And it’s dangerous. So we use, it’s an explosive that’s similar to an airbag. So it gives it enough speed, but not too much. And we had to just do a lot of experimenting and track the results super carefully to see what was the effectiveness, different ranges. We knew that we wouldn’t like work well like 50 feet, but that’s okay. That’s officers always try to talk it out first, like I said, so they’re already like pretty close to you. And then yeah, trying to get the flight right, the, the length of the tether is seven and a half feet. That’s because it needs to be long enough to go around you several times. But if we make it too long, and it becomes heavier and also, if it’s longer, you know, it kind of flies straight horizontal. So it’s wide. So if you’re standing like five feet from a chair, if you make the tethers super long, it’ll hit the chair and not work. So we had to try to find the balance of being long enough but not super long. And yeah, compared to the taser, yeah, we have there’s a lot more challenges on the mechanical side and less on the electrical side obviously since the Taser is trying to make 50,000 volts so that was the main challenge of the taser.
Aaron Moncur 23:47
50,000 volts and a lot of voltage for for the ball wrap. I was really intrigued and if this is you know like a confidential the trade secret or something feel free to just move on we can talk about something else but I was really intrigued by mechanically how does this thing once it I assume this thing stretched out to you said seven and a half feet I guess it does it does the middle of the tether is that would strike the body first and then it wraps around kind of equally on both ends.
Glenn Hickman 24:18
Yeah, that’s correct. And so the anchor is what we call it is just like a metal piece on each end with similar to fish hooks on the end of it. So the anchor has some weight to help it go around you three or four times depending upon how skinny you are. And then it’s got a fishhook to latch on to your jeans or your pants or your shirt. Good pain is usually either zero pain or it’ll touch your skin. It’ll go like through your pants and touch your skin and you feel like a thumb tack on your skin but then it comes out and sticks to your pain.
Aaron Moncur 24:51
Okay, and what if you’re wearing shorts does it just hook into your skin?
Glenn Hickman 24:56
Sometimes it’ll hook into your skin like just barely on the surface.
Aaron Moncur 25:00
Yeah, okay. Interesting. I was wondering mechanically how that how it anchors to itself? Because it I mean, it looks like it’s a very repeatable process. What? What technical roles or skill sets? Did you need to build on your team to develop the bolawrap?
Glenn Hickman 25:19
Um, well, I think there was already some really great people here, we mostly needed to add people to do the testing and in a rigorous way, and log all the data. So we have some high speed cameras here that we also had to purchase so that you can watch everything in super slow motion, they cost like 50 or 60 grand each, but they take like 1000 frames a second. So you can watch the anchor, leave the muzzle, like one inch at a time. And then you can also watch it wrap around the subject and see how it wraps and Does it strike any other object? Does it bounce off the pants or stick to the pants? And people to log all the data and the setup? Like was the subject 15 feet away? What was the muzzle velocity? Where did you aim? Where did it actually land on the subject? Where did it hit? Or bounce off? All that stuff?
Aaron Moncur 26:14
Yeah. About some of the non technical challenges. Were there any significant non technical problems that you needed to overcome to bring this product to market?
Glenn Hickman 26:24
Um, yeah, I mean, law enforcement is a tricky market where they, it’s kind of infamous that they have a lot of former military, right in law enforcement. So they’re used to super high levels of quality on the military side, but they don’t want to pay those military. Those prices anymore, see your it’s a tough industry where they want really high levels of quality, but almost like a consumer level of costs. So it’s, with all of our engineering and supply chain, it’s really tough line to walk to buy parts that are super high quality, but not super expensive. And so you know, like, the cheap way to do everything is with injection molded. Yeah. But then you have to make sure that it’s strong enough. Like, ideally, we do everything out of like aluminum, like an iPhone or something, but that’s just too expensive. So we have to be really careful to make the plastic strong enough. Yeah. Okay. And then I think, yeah, in general, for like, on the on the non technical side, officers are just, they really want their stuff to work every time every day, no quality issues, it’s okay, if you drop it, it can be dumped in a pool and survive. So because of that, they they’re really slow to purchase. And they have to do like a T and D, where they get to test the product for free, and put it through its paces. And then even then they’re kind of slow to adopt, because they really, they don’t want like innovation just for innovations sake, they want to make sure that it’s really going to be dependable. Yeah,
Aaron Moncur 27:55
making their jobs easier. Can you walk us through the development process of bolawrap? Where did your team start? And, like, what were the major phases or milestones? And how did you know when you were done? You know, how did you know when good enough was good enough?
Glenn Hickman 28:13
Yeah. So every process should start really not very technical with a discussion about what the customer needs, what are their requirements, very specific, what price will they accept, because you know, if the device cost 1000 bucks to make, but the officer won’t take more than like $1,100 price, then there’s no way to make any money. So doing like the business case, that’s where everything should start. And then from there, you start on the research phase, very, like rough prototypes and proof of concepts just to make sure that this is like within the laws of physics, right? Once you pass those, then you start to make higher fidelity samples and rigorous on the testing side. So that’s kind of that, that testing is where you start to spend the money and it takes, you know, a year so make sure to log all the data, fix all the bugs. And then you start to make a pilot line, make sure that the manufacturing team is actually they should be involved the whole time to advise you on don’t use that kind of glue, that’s a really hard glue to use. Use this one, it’s easier. Get the pilot lineup, make sure that the the yield is going to start off acceptable on the first day, obviously, it’s gonna get better over time, but get the operators trained. And then have the launch and then monitor the metrics super carefully to make sure that customers are happy and there’s no bugs. And then from there, you just transition into like sustaining engineering. Are there any small features that we can add to make it sell better? And then just keep doing that for however many years until the end of life?
Aaron Moncur 29:56
What are your thoughts on building your own In house manufacturing versus working or outsourcing your supply chain to contract manufacturers?
Glenn Hickman 30:09
Yeah, I think in general, the approach I’ve seen work for law enforcement because like I said, it’s such a strange market is outsourced the easy stuff. And then do final assembly and final quality yourself. So we try to get things done, like in modules with the CMS. That’s kind of the easy part. And then we assembled the Legos here, make sure that quality is very good before we put it in the box and ship it to customers got
Aaron Moncur 30:38
it? Okay. Well, what’s your role like as Chief Operating Officer CEO? What are some of the common day to day activities that you perform? And? And how has the background in engineering prepared you for those responsibilities?
Glenn Hickman 30:54
Yeah, I think every engineer, the good thing about our education is we are rigorous and we try to break down big scary problems into like smaller chunks. That’s still like useful for many jobs. And then I think if you’re a senior engineer, you know that you need to be involved with multiple teams and not just do the design. So you know, a senior engineer has to talk to manufacturing about how do we make this? How do we get the yields up, talk to supply chain, about how do we find a good supplier, and it’s not super expensive. Talk to the quality team. And so like as CEO, your job really isn’t that much different from being a good senior senior engineer, it’s just kind of more often than that at a higher level. So, you know, I’m responsible for manufacturing and supply chain and quality. And it. So now, it’s just like a, it’s a little different, but actually not super different. If you’re a good senior engineer, trying to make sure that everything about your product is good. Yeah.
Aaron Moncur 31:58
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
Glenn Hickman 32:03
The best part, I would say is definitely not bored. Like, because I’m involved with everything. So you know, I’m like involved in in this project from from nine to 10. And then from 10 to 11, is totally different thing. And then one to two supply chain doing like a big negotiation. So there’s, it’s impossible to get bored, because I get to switch between all these different things. Um, the worst thing I would say right now, just the economy is not friendly to start up. They really don’t like there was a time like the whole last like 10 years, really, they didn’t really care about profit as long as your revenue was growing. And all that, whereas now they want to see profit. Now, super low spend. Like if you think about it, Amazon didn’t make a profit for a long time, and no one really cared. And salesforce.com didn’t make a profit for like their first like 12 years or something, and no one really cared. Those days are over, you know, you have to try to get your spend way down and get your profit as high as you can.
Aaron Moncur 33:11
What do you think is changed? Why? Why is the mindset different now?
Glenn Hickman 33:15
Well, it’s just the economy, right? Like inflation is going up supply chain is tough.
Aaron Moncur 33:21
To build just being
Glenn Hickman 33:23
bored. Yeah. Yeah. And you can see like, the, even the best companies in the world, like, Tesla and Netflix have had like, huge crashes, right? Yeah. Kind of for no reason. It’s just kind of the state of thing. Yeah.
Aaron Moncur 33:35
Okay. Fair enough. Well, what are one or two traits or skills that you’ve seen the most talented engineers have in common?
Glenn Hickman 33:45
Oh, I think it currently kind of already mentioned one where they, they don’t just do the design, they talk to all the departments and feel like they own the product, and not trying to throw things over the wall, the other teams. I think, just being a super hard worker, like Everyone claims to be a super hard worker, right. But then, if you send an email at 7pm, like no one responds, like being that guy who responds at 7pm, or comes in on a weekend to do just like a couple hours of testing. I think that makes a big difference and helps you stands out from all the people who say that they’re hard workers.
Aaron Moncur 34:21
Yeah, there’s this like, I don’t know if delicate balance is even the right term for it. But there’s kind of this movement these days against putting in a lot of hours, right? There’s a lot of talk about whom, whom homework balance, and not not letting your career consume you. And everything’s a balance, right? There’s no like right or wrong answer for everyone. But I will say that the engineers that put in more time than others progress more quickly. People ask me often, how do I accelerate my growth as an engineer? Well, I think One of the really good answers is you put more time in, you just you spend that time because over the course of many years, if you’re spending an extra, you know, three, four hours a week, against other engineers who are just putting in their 40, and that’s it, they’re done, you’re going to have hundreds or 1000s of additional hours of experience, being an engineer, and that’s going to pay dividends in the future. So, you know, personally, I like to work, I work a lot, I work on the weekends all the time, I often work in the evenings a little bit. And that’s, that’s just me, that’s how I operate. I guess I take a little bit of, of a stance against this, this whole movement of just putting in your 40 hours and be done and don’t work too much. I think. While there has to be a balance. Sure. I think working is great. And it’s it feels the soul for me anyway.
Glenn Hickman 35:58
Yeah, exactly. And then the other one I was gonna mention was some engineers aren’t going to like this, but like emotional intelligence and being easy to work with. You know, if it comes time to have a layoff happen, they’re not gonna lay off all the super nice, fun people, they’re gonna lay off the grumpy people, right? Yeah. So just being like, easy to work with. And, you know, if someone doesn’t respond to your email, don’t be like, how come you didn’t respond? took me forever to respond, you know, like, give people a chance. And just be be, like, easy to work with?
Aaron Moncur 36:31
Yeah, don’t be a jerk. Well, I mentioned one of the answers to this next question is just putting in more time, but what do you what do you think are one or two of the most effective ways that engineers can accelerate their growth and productivity over time?
Glenn Hickman 36:52
I think trying to solve, like I said, as many problems as you can on paper, because what like, the way that you can easily burn 1000s of hours is being in the lab testing, chasing down 5060 bugs, making tweaks forever to try to fix the bugs, like, it’s much faster to solve those things up front. And like, think about all the tools at your disposal, like, is there some kind of FPGA some simulation that that you can do? Simulation still isn’t the dream? Like you can’t just ask the software? Is this idea going to work or not. But if you have like 10 ideas, you can use FTA and simulation to kill like the three bad ones at least you don’t have to bother with the testing of those. So just thinking through like, you don’t want to be a lab monkey testing millions of ideas and fixing millions of bugs. Like there’s got to be a way to use your brain as much as you can before you get to that stage.
Aaron Moncur 37:51
Yeah, right. Okay, great. Well, Glenn, this has been a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you for sharing some of your time and experience and engineering wisdom. How can people get in touch with you?
Glenn Hickman 38:06
Yeah, I’m pretty easy to find on LinkedIn, at Glenn Hickman, so it’s probably the quickest way and thanks for having me. Perfect. Pretty fun.
Aaron Moncur 38:14
Absolutely. Yeah. Thanks for being here.
Glenn Hickman 38:16
Great. Have a good one.
Aaron Moncur 38:20
I’m Aaron Moncur, founder of pipeline design, and engineering. If you liked what you heard today, please share the episode. To learn how your team can leverage our team’s expertise developing turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines and with product design, visit us at Team pipeline.us. Thanks for listening
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The Being An Engineer podcast is a repository for industry knowledge and a tool through which engineers learn about and connect with relevant companies, technologies, people resources, and opportunities. We feature successful mechanical engineers and interview engineers who are passionate about their work and who made a great impact on the engineering community.
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