My career has really been focused on various combinations of Technology, Business, Visualization and Learning.  Sometimes it’s just one or two, but to I’ve been involved in all of them to some extent for over 20 years.

Outside of work, I enjoy music, food, and travel among other things. Music has always been a big part of my life.  I’ve played piano for over 35 years with formal lessons for about 14 of those.  I’ve written, recorded, and performed my own music and have played in several bands.  I really enjoy going to live concerts, especially in smaller venues.  After high school, I didn’t really know much about food, but I learned quickly.  Experiments in the kitchen are a lot of fun.  It’s even more fun to try those experiments on my friends when they come over for dinner.  Travel is such a great hobby because it allows me to combine many of my other favorite things like food, wine, and reading into one thing.  Travel is a great way to experience the things that most people only read about.  The worlds come alive in ways that words just can’t describe.

However, the real fun begins when I begin to combine these things. Travel is, of course, almost inextricable from food. But several of my projects beginning to put all of these together in unique ways. What would happen if you combine food, visualization, learning & technology? Well, hopefully we’re about to see.

Anyway a sampling of my bio is below.  For more information on my career, please check out my resume.

My Bio…

The Early Years 1969 – 1987

I grew up in Sterling Heights, Michigan about 8 miles north of the border of the city of Detroit (which you all now know as 8 Mile thanks to Eminem). That places me at 16 Mile (Detroit’s navigation is easy that way). My dad worked at Chrysler’s Mound Round Engine plant for most of that time (long since torn down), though during the ’80/’81 bankruptcy he worked for Fairchild working on mining equipment in West Virginia. I graduated as Valedictorian from Bethany Christian School in 1987. Bethany is a small private school that is part of the First Baptist Church in Troy, MI. They are independent fundamentalists (if you know what that means). It was an o.k. education, but in the last several years they’ve become more and more extreme. One version of my site had a pretty good rant about it. If I ever find it, I’ll post it to the blog. In any case, it’s very different now than it was then.

Car: 1982 Dodge Omni
Home: Sterling Heights

Undergrad and Beyond 1987 – 1996

Anyway, less than two months after graduation, I started college at GMI Engineering and Management Institute (formerly General Motors Institute, now known as Kettering University) in not-quite-so-beautiful Flint, MI. All of the students rotate between school and their sponsoring company on a quarterly basis. Those quarterly changes made me pretty mobile for almost that entire time as can be seen from all of the places I lived. I spent 9 years (5 as a co-op student) in the MIS (computer) department at William Beaumont Hospital based in Royal Oak, MI.

My very first task was to assemble Data General PCs (yes, they made PCs at one time). They weren’t the best quality and even had jumper wires running from circuit boards to the motherboard. My first programming project was a random number generator for the financial department to audit checks written in Basic. It was a great experience, a very good place to learn, and a great place to grow up. I worked on a variety of projects over the years, including PC support, Operations, Elevator Studies, Staffing Studies, etc. However, my two largest were for the Physician Referral Service and Cardiology. Those are still two of my favorite projects ever. We did some really innovative, cool solutions for the departments. One of my very last tasks before I left was to demonstrate this thing called the Internet. At that point Yahoo was still the leader, was a straight-up, manually created directory, and you could still surf the entire public web if you wanted to.

While at GMI, I joined the social fraternity, Beta Theta Pi. After college, I spent several years working with undergraduate Betas as House Advisor and, later, District Chief. I graduated from GMI-EMI with my Bachelors of Science in Management in 1992.

Cars:
1988 Dodge Shadow
1992 Dodge Shadow
1996 Dodge Stratus

Homes:
Flint
Utica
Fenton
Birmingham
Troy
Farmington Hills
Warren (my first house)

The Transition 1996 – 2000

During high school, I had set the goal to get my MBA. In 1996, I joined Valassis in part because of their full tuition reimbursement at the time. During my four years, I was a Sr. Business Analyst in the MIS (computer) department. Valassis, at that time consistently one of Fortune magazine’s “Top 100 Companies to Work For”, is a Livonia, MI-based marketing services company. Most people are familiar with the company’s coupons that come in the Sunday paper (in which they maintain about 50% U.S. market share), the pizza box coupons, the product samples that come in the newspaper or in the newspaper bag, and the various games of chance like McDonald’s Monopoly game, or the TriCon (Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC) promotions.

Car: 1998 Dodge Avenger

Homes:
Novi
Plymouth

Recent History 2000 – 2006

I finished my Masters of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Michigan Business School in Ann Arbor on April 28, 2000. The U-M Business School has continually been ranked in the Top 5 business schools in the nation by all of the leading publications. After 3 1/2 years of hard work and studying, it felt good to be done. To be honest though, there is a part of me (a sick, but important part) that misses it, just a little. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go back to get my PhD someday very soon.

I went through the recruiting program at the university and was hired by Root Learning. Root is a pretty unique company that helps other companies create business literacy among their employees using tools that foster self-directed learning through discussion and visualization. So what does that mean? Root creates tools that help people talk about and understand issues that are important to their client’s companies.

While I was there, I worked on projects for Holiday Inn, GM, Pepsi, American Express, and Blockbuster. After about 6 months of working with Root’s traditional paper products, I began working on a new venture with their e-Learning (now Digital Interactive) solutions which are now over 10 years old. In early 2001, I was promoted to Director of e-Learning. We did a lot of incredibly interesting and innovative projects from simulations to teasers making use of all kinds of new technologies. The revenue for the team grew 30-50% per year even as the company grew and eventually became 20-25% of the business. I’m really proud of having been part of (and in some small way responsible for) such a great team that contains strong expertise in programming, interface design/usability, animation, audio, and graphic design. I believe the team creates some of the best and most engaging e-Learning tools on the market today.

In 2005, I completed my goal to go to all 50 states. Alaska and Hawaii were the last two on the list and there are some great pictures from there on the site. I’ve traveled to a bunch of countries in Europe and the Middle East as well. Most recently was Australia and New Zealand which was a great trip.  I always get asked my favorite places to travel and its so hard to decide.  There are so many great places to choose, but my favorites are probably Portland (OR), Melbourne, Rome, Montreal, New Orleans, and Washington DC.

In 2006, I left Root to join The Masie Center’s Learning Consortium as Vice President. The Masie Center is a learning industry association, based in upstate New York. Root was one of over 250 member organizations who gather to talk about the industry and determine new directions and opportunities. It was an incredible time to meet some incredible people and learn about all varieties of new technologies that will be impacting our world.

Cars:
2001 Jeep Liberty
2004 Jeep Liberty

Homes:
Saline
Saratoga Springs, New York

Current 2007 – Current

In 2007, I decided to return back to Michigan and take a little bit different spin on my work so far.   Before starting the current business, I was CEO of VizThink, an organization dedicated to the creation of a sustainable, global community of people who use any form of the visual arts for learning and communication.  Now, I’m the Owner and Principal of Visualization Network, providing education and hands-on experiences for leaders who need to solve problems and communicate more effectively.  I have run workshops on learning, simulations, visualization, and communication all over the world for thousands of people. In addition, I coach speakers and am working on an iPad app that combines many of my interests and background experiences.  Stay tuned…