11 Year Old Managing Engineers In India

Saturday 17 November 2007 @ 10:15 am

The beginning of this past summer I committed to myself to begin teaching my three oldest sons fundamental business principles. I decided the best way to do this would to actually build a businesses together. Each Saturday and Sunday afternoon my three sons and I would go down in my office and have a “board meeting”.

The first few meetings began as a brainstorm where we would discuss potential businesses. Nothing was off the table. We had some real interesting ideas pop up (particularly from my 11 year old Nathan). After several weeks we narrowed down the business options and informally discussed the pro’s and con’s using the Porter Model. What did we settle on? A website focusing on How To Tie a Tie. Why you ask? Well in our research we discovered that the 4th most searched “How To” phrase on the internet is How to tie a tie. There are over 2,000 searched a day on this term. Once decided we were off and running to the races. It has been a rather slow moving project, but one that has simply been life changing for my boys.

How To Tie A Tie Diagram

I am thrilled today to announce that last week we formally launched our website www.2tieatie.com. So why was this so important to me? The primary reason I wanted to do this with my sons was to give them a feel early in their life of what it took to create a business. I also wanted them to live the process not just talk about it. I also wanted them to take some ownership in saving and preparing for college in a manner different than just getting a job. Not that I don’t want them to also have a job and work hard, I do. But I want them in the mindset of creating assets rather than working a job. There has been one huge side benefit from this project that I had not pre-mediated. It has been the process of exposing my sons to the global economy. As we were discussing the project last night it was pointed out that:

    The project plan and specification had been put together by us in Utah.

    The initial site design was done in Ahmedabad India. With over 10 back and forth iterations of the design.

    The witting of the step by step instructions done initially by a writer in Eastern Europe (and failed).

    We then engaged a professional witter in the USA that I had previously worked with

    The picture diagrams were done by a talented diagrammer in in Pakistan

    The Assembly of the Pictures and Steps were then returned to India for build out and engineering

    The Quality assurance and debug of the site done by my sons back in Utah

    The online store is being done using Amazon.com which is located in New York

    The Video diagrams is being outsourced to my oldest sons 17 year old friends Scott and Wyatt

    The ties that we will eventually sell on the website will come from Thailand and Korea

    We engaged several link building efforts with two different firms, one in Southern India and the other in Romania

    We also did a press announcement which was distributed out of Washington State

Wow, that is quite the world tour for a eleven year old. The reality is, we live in a global economy and the only way our children will thrive is to learn to dance in this world. I am so proud of how my sons have interacted and embraced this experience. All said, I think the experience interacting and coordinating the efforts all around the world proved to be of more value than the business experience.

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Parable of The Peach Tree

Sunday 2 September 2007 @ 6:45 pm
Parable of The Peach

This weekend my wife and I had to make a quick day trip to a meeting which was several hours away. Before leaving I gathered my sons and gave them a series of chores to complete for the day. These included mowing and trimming the lawn, weeding part of the garden, hauling off some branches and most importantly picking the ripe peaches from our overflowing peach tree. I gave the kids very specific instructions to throw away all bad peaches that had fallen on the grounds as a first step. The second step was to then gather all the peaches from the ground that had fallen but still had good flesh. Then the final step was to pick the lush ripe remaining peaches placing them carefully in a cooler I had prepared. With these instructions given, off we raced to our meeting.

In my mind there is nothing better for breakfast than a fresh peach hand picked and drowned in milk and sugar. I salivated on this image the entire trip down and back.

Upon returning the first thing I did was go and inspect the peach picking job. I was delighted to see neat well organized boxes and coolers and a tree well picked. I congratulated my sons and went to pick a few of the nice ripe grade A picked peaches. I was shocked that they all were smashed on one side or another. Every one of them was bruised. Confused, I thought I had the wrong box but upon inspection discovered that all the peaches were less than desirable.

A bit chagrin I went to my oldest son John and asked what had happened. He then explained to me that they had indeed thrown the bad peaches away, gathered the usable peaches, and began to pick the tree. They realized how time consuming this picking project was going to be and were eager to get back to their friends, so he came up with the brilliant idea to shake the tree really hard, then simply go gather up the newly fallen fruit.

My first reaction was horror, but I could not help but laugh as I thought about it.

So it is in our businesses efforts. There has been more than one time that I have outlined a plan to my team but failed to communicate the desired end result and the necessity for thinking regarding the business processes outlined. It is easy enough to outline the tasks at hand for our teams, it is quite enough to get them bought into that end vision or desired result.

Upon reflection, maybe I should have prepared a fresh bowl of nice peaches for each of my sons and discussed the project over breakfast as they experience in a very personal manner what we were striving for.

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Laurel Christiansen Scholarship

Tuesday 22 May 2007 @ 11:58 am
Laurel Christiansen

As a child I grew up in a small town in Southern Utah. I had amazing parents. My father completely lost his sight when he was four years old. Despite being completely blind, he went on to become a successful Attorney. My mother was equally amazing. She was 15 younger than my father. One of their greatest fears was my mother would be widowed for much of her later life. Ironically fate played an awful trick and my mother and she died of breast cancer at the age of 58 leaving my father the one alone.

My mother was one of the strongest people I know. She had the courage and determination to become what I call a trend breaker. Despite all odds and with immense sacrifice she went on to be the first one in her family to graduate from college. She blazed a trail not only for all of her brothers and sisters to follow, but also all of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Growing up in my parents home, B’s were not acceptable. It was never spoken, it was simply understood.

My brothers and I collaborated and determined one of the best ways to honor my mother was to create a scholarship in her name. Our mother was always behind the scenes ensuring others received acknowledgment and award. It was with great joy we brought our mother into the spotlight by awarding scholarships to deserving young women in her name.

Today I drove down to Beaver High School and experienced a rush of emotion as I awarded scholarships to 3 young women whom have the great potential that my mother realized and we believe will be trend breakers in their respective families. These three young ladies are:

Recipients of Laurel Christiansen Scholarship

1st place – Courtney Ann Rogers
2nd place – Shannon Joseph
3rd place – Whitney Whitbeck

At the request of several of my associates, I post the scholarship information and a bit of my mothers background relating to her intense drive to obtain her education.

Laurel Christiansen was a born in a small town in Sevier County Utah. She was the first in her family to attend college and she did so at great personal sacrifice and with dogged determination. She was a trend setter who broke through many barriers allowing her brothers, sisters and her children to follow. After college she came to Beaver High School to teach Art. She married John Christiansen, the blind County Attorney and had four sons. While her children were young she took a break from teaching and focused on instilling a love of education in her children. She then returned to teach 1st grade at Belknap Elementary. She is fondly remembered by many in Beaver as a “Master 1st grade teacher”.

She raised four boys and twelve foster children. She loved with all of her might and strength her daughter in laws, grandchildren, and masses of elementary school children. Our mother’s impact has always been from the background. She has taken no public spotlight. Her life’s song has been sung in beautiful support by those around her. Through this scholarship we wish to publicly honor the incredible and lasting impact that this amazing woman has made.

Excerpts From My Story’s Song

Applicants, in preparation for this scholarship, please read the following Excerpts from Laurel Christiansen’s Biography titled My Story’s Song. This will give you a better feel for what this scholarship is about and what we are looking for in a successful candidate.

The first year of college at BYU was very challenging and difficult for me. I had earned enough money to pay tuition and start out the year; however, my resources quickly diminished with the many expenses of school. So, during my second quarter at BYU my father helped me pay tuition. Still, paying the cost of living expenses was left up to me. I soon became a familiar face at the BYU employment office. I checked there weekly to find any little “odds-and-ends” jobs to earn money. Dora Young, who shared the bedroom with me, and with whom I had become very close, suggested that I take my money and purchase a sack of whole wheat and some powdered milk. She stated that it would keep me alive and eating. It did! Wheat and powdered milk helped me survive. This first year of college was by far the most difficult and challenging for me. I just about didn’t make it financially, and my grades suffered terribly as well. However, I felt very determined to receive an education and to eventually graduate. The learning process gave me joy and satisfaction, and mattered very much to me.

During my second year my love and appreciation for education deepened, as did my desire to become an art teacher.

By my third year, I was taking many classes in my major. I decided to go into Art Education (Secondary). I took a very heavy schedule, 18-20 credit hours per quarter. Despite the extra load my grades were much better and I felt at peace and happy. After completing two additional quarters I decided to attend the summer block as well. At this time I needed to get a student loan so that I could finish out my last year of schooling. I remember that when I applied, the fellow interviewing me asked me many questions. He told me he would give me the loan, for which I was very grateful. He stated that he did not encounter a girl like me very often. He felt that I was unusual because I was so determined to finish my education. He said I seemed more like a foreign student, and that I had values like an “old-fashioned girl.”

In making the decision to teach, I determined that I wanted to stay and work somewhere in the state of Utah. That was where my family was. I also wanted to teach in a small rural town because I was a farm girl at heart. I was interviewed (grilled, may be more accurate) by both Ogden and Salt Lake City, but my heart was won over during the interview with David Pierce from the Beaver County School District. The position of art teacher at Beaver High School was exactly what I wanted. I accepted Mr. Pearce’s offer immediately.

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Rich Christiansen