64) Did You Allow a Rotten Childhood to Defeat You?

In the last post you read about a tiny computer chip (the ADXL50) that in 1993, I helped design for airbags in automobiles.  It saved lives and earned millions. In this post I raise the question “Is there one job or one task each of us was put on this earth to do?” 

Think about your greatest professional or personal accomplishment.

  • Was it an event or achievement that inspired someone or maybe inspired many?
  • Did you help someone or produce something so valuable it got the attention of others?

In my own life, I have come to believe one important purpose was to participate as one of the principles in the development of the ADXL50, the world’s first accelerometer on a chip!

Path to Progress

Age 0 – 20
  • family impacted at early age by train severing Dad’s legs and his beatings of Mom
  • at age 4, watched Dad die before my eyes. Did not go to the funeral, so virtually no closure and certainly no counseling.
  • first step dad holds family hostage at dinner table with shotgun
  • second step dad better but still mean and slaps the heck of of Mom after drinking
  • grow up in tough north Minneapolis  neighborhood during riots of 1960’s
  • barely made it through high school after attending at least 7 other schools.
  • failed at two colleges in Minnesota and lost college draft deferment
Age 20 – 30
  • enlisted in Air Force and was a marginal performer
  • quit Air Force early to join Air National Guard in Washington DC
  • quit going to Air National Guard meetings and eventually they lost track of me
  • drove to California with my new drug addicted blond girl friend
  • slept under the pier at Mission Beach in California
  • was nearly arrested for rent skipping in alley outside The Sam Wong Hotel in San Francisco
Age 30 – 35

Then around 1980, something remarkable began happening to me. As I began to turn my life around, I:

  • lost one free-spirited but troubled girl-friend
  • found another beautiful, wholesome, smart, disciplined woman who agreed to  marry me
  • opened my mind to organized, life-long, study of self-improvement
  • as a result of my learning and good luck, I developed my Little, Unshakeable  Foundation for Achievement
  • returned to college to complete my undergraduate degree in business
  • conducted business with several CEO’s who I met while holding no less than 4 marketing positions
  • lived on Nob Hill and managed properties in San Francisco
Far From Great – But Great Enough for One Moment

When the improbable happened and Analog Devices recruited and hired me, I

  • was totally unqualified technically,
  • had no relevant experience,
  • only lukewarm work references,
  • and no industry connections.

I wondered what in the world Dr. Payne and the group had seen in me.

fig5_ad1Then the design team for the ADXL50 embarked on a three and one-half year project culminating in the world’s first accelerometer on a chip in 1993.

As the principal mask design engineer drawing the layout,  my role encompassed many technical and human challenges. Dealing with the brilliant and sometimes eccentric personalities driving the circuit design and process technology development could be considered by far the most difficult. But through it all, I still had the knack for getting people to trust,  like and help me. Image on left is from magazine  that featured our accomplishment and was extracted from: http://www.stanford.edu/class/me220/data/lectures/lect09/lect_5.html on 5/31/2013


Prepared for One Purpose

I like to think that the chaos I  experienced growing up helped prepare me for those three and one-half years between 1989 and 1993 in Wilmington, Massachusetts.

I wasn’t great but great enough in the moment of need.

Participating on the team that designed the ADXL50 has been my highest professional achievement.

What was yours?

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