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Idea Mechanic |īdēə| |mə'kanik| ñ - Imaginative strategist, conversational storyteller, demonstration engineer, experience architect, & customer advocate.

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180,000 Cisco IP Phones in 10 minutes

by Doug Foster on December 22, 2012

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Walk into Bank of America and you’ll see Cisco IP telephones. Lots of them. Want to know how they got there?

Let me tell you my best sales story.

The first time I saw voice and video work over a data network was at our Cisco sales lab in Raleigh. My boss Matt Mullady was standing beside me, watching a demo, shaking his head: “This is amazing. This is going to change everything.” …


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Who am I? (IndieConf 2012)

December 8, 2012
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Discovering who you are can be really tough.

After earning my BSME from Iowa State, I started work in Manufacturing Engineering at the John Deere Dubuque Works.

One of my projects was to implement Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM). After a few years we had hundreds of computers connected using office and shop-floor networks.

Working with Deere corporate, we also installed a wide-area network to our sister plant in Davenport. Corporate was really biased towards IBM mainframes and joked that we were in over our heads. They named our project the Factory Interconnect And Systems Connectivity Options (FIASCO) pilot …

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Building the Dome home (IndieConf 2012)

October 31, 2012
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Engineering is the art of making what you want from things you can get. – Jerry Avins

Shortly after I graduated in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State, I told my friend Jim Mackey “Cindy and I are going to build a geodesic dome home.” “Figures,” he said, “you living in a regular house would be like like an architect living in a mobile home.”

I was reading The Dome Builder’s Handbook by John Prenis at the time and thought “Cool, let’s build one.” Thing is, I’d never built a regular house. Heck, I was a machinist, not a carpenter. Granddad was the carpenter. I kept thinking “Maybe it runs in the family.”

So in September 1980 my wife and I started building our first home: a round house surrounded by cornfields outside Sherrill, Iowa …

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Machinist to ME (IndieConf 2012)

October 17, 2012
Working in the machine shop

“It’s hard to believe Jeff did that.”

“Did what?” I replied.

It was 1975 and I had just started at Iowa State. Reb’s mom and I were were standing by the fence, watching Saydel play their first home football game of the season.

“You didn’t know … Jeff committed suicide.”

Reb, Jeff, and I had graduated the year before in ’74. With my parents divorced and me out on my own, it looked like life after graduation was destined to be working at a machine shop. Jeff – my best friend since Cornell Elementary – headed off to Iowa State …

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5 Ideas from the 2012 National Storytelling Festival

October 10, 2012
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“If you learn one thing, then it was worthwhile.”

Dad told me that when I was a kid.

He was talking about reading books, but I’ve found his quote rings true for almost everything.

(This is my dad, that’s David Holt on the left.)

Sometimes you learn more than one thing. Last weekend at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, I learned five.

Here’s five ideas to help you build and tell better Short Stories that Sell™

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Stories and WordPress – indieConf 2011

March 5, 2012
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indieConf is a conference for independent web professionals – designers, developers, and everyone in between. It’s not really a web TECHNOLOGY conference, it’s more of a conference for people who USE web technology to earn a living.

Founder Michael Kimsal explains … “I’ve been a web freelancer for years. I love web stuff and I love tech conferences. Unfortunately most tech conferences are heavy on tech but light on issues I face every day. I have far more challenges with clients and collections than CSS and catch-blocks. So I decided to start a conference where the focus was on topics I needed to know more about: project management, marketing, contracts, legal issues, financial/tax topics, budgeting and more. I needed these things, and from what I could tell by talking to colleagues, others did too …”

I love stories. And I love WordPress. This year at indieConf 2011 I talked about how using stories and WordPress can help you sell your product, service, or point of view: What? You don’t use WordPress to tell stories? You lose

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Advertise your business on storyPanels™

September 22, 2011
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Shh … don’t tell anyone. Compared to other indoor advertising, placing your ad on a storyPanel is a steal.

According to national advertising rates listed by the Indoor Billboard Advertsing Association (IBBA), we don’t charge enough. In fact, advertsing on a storyPanel gives you MORE ad space AND costs LESS than the national average. Way less. But that’s ok. We figure your business is like ours: these days you have to offer and get the best deals you can. We’re confident storyPanel advertising is a deal you won’t want to pass up.

Where do other indoor advertisers place their displays? Well … when the IBBA says indoor advertising they’re talking about placing ads in restrooms. Now we’re not saying that doesn’t make sense, but we’ve got a different idea. We designed storyPanel displays to use very little floor space. And because of that, our business partners place them in the middle of traffic … not behind closed doors …

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