Friday, November 27, 2009

Making it your own

I have been spending a lot of time recently writing things that have predefined templates. My thesis, which isn't so bad after all, my business plan, which is so bare it is kind of funny, a website, and of course my ebook. People often suggest that you need to make something representative of yourself. However, they don't tell you what that means. I'm going to try to answer that, at least for my life.

First off take my business plan. I am an engineer. It's what I do and I'm not half bad at it. Unfortunately, it's called a business plan and I am more than half bad at business. I want to describe the company and how it will survive but many of the things I want to say are from my personal experience. There are no formulas, I am aware of, that say why it is a good idea to go to ice climbing festivals to sell more ice axes.

The solution: write what I think needs to be in my business plan. Write it so that someone who doesn't know me can understand it. Which is to say that in the business plan I am saying that I am the one and only employee with experience engineering, mountaineering, and running and not so much with business, law, marketing and stuff. If someone wants to invest they should know my strengths and weaknesses.

Second take my thesis. Describe what I can stand behind. Everything else is left out. It turns out my summary is less than a page, as of now. A year and a half of long days in front of my computer screen analyzing finite element results in bright orange, yellow, green, and blue. Scrolling through thousands and thousands of lines of code to find that one misspelled word or comma or wrong number and I have less than a page to say.

The solution: besides an awesome literature review and background that describes most of what I learned in the last year and a half I can say a few things my simulations demonstrated. That is the key, being able to say something. I have been to a number of masters and doctorate thesis' presentations and I have learned when it comes to basic sciences advances happen slowly. A person can work on a project for years and at the end have a 25 minute presentation describing the difference between two sample groups. It is not that a doctorate degree or masters degree means any less now that I know what it takes to get one. In fact I respect the degrees that much more. Many of the most powerful discoveries in science can be described in ten minutes once you understand all of the background.

Finally, take my fun, like running, climbing, going to Pakistan... I am Isaiah Janzen not someone else. I can not live my life trying to achieve physical feats that other people accomplished.

The solution: I have my own unique set of goals. Some of them are probably the same as other people but the combination of all of them, I would assume, is unique. Top athletes try to innovate their sports by taking it to a new level. I just want to say 'this is what I did, it was fun, and my life is better because of it'.

So go out and make it your own. It doesn't have to be different, but it will be.

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