Category Archives: Uncategorized

Khan Academy – my favorite website (and pastime) for 2011 (Tracy Gojdics, Director TMMBA)

Have a hard time remembering exactly how things work  or exactly how to explain something?  Then you’ll want to check out my favorite website for 2011!

Chances are good if we have talked for any length of time in the past month that I have probably mentioned the entreprenuerial venture Khan Academy (KA).  I am one of its biggest fans (along with Bill Gates).  I first became aware of KA during the 2011 Eastside Leadership Conference hosted by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce.  During the conference they featured innovators/leaders in the education space with companies such as DreamBox Learning and KA.  For KA  they showed a Ted talk featuring Salmon Khan where Khan discusses the use of  video to reinvent the classroom (also referred to as “flipping the classroom”).  I have been hooked on KA ever since.   

There is so much to learn via KA – from GMAT Prep to Organic Chemistry to Statistics to the Credit Crisis.  I have learned something about all of these subjects, I am by no means an expert.  In fact, I find that sometimes it can be difficult for me to explain concepts such as confidence variables or currency trading to others.  I know that I know the basics and  maybe more than some given the rigorous TMMBA curriculum, but watching the 10-12 minute video segments has really helped to cement my learning. 

The videos are not for everyone as you do have to watch them instead of just listen, but I really recommend giving them a shot.  Some of the topic areas will make a wonderful supplement to your in-classroom learning.   For me,  they have served as a great refresher for subjects and topics I’ve learned  over the years and best of all –  KA is free. 

Some people wonder where I find the time to watch these videos.  Good question.   I usually read for an hour every night.  Now I read for 30 minutes and watch 3 videos.  I’m up to 4 books and 30 videos since October.   Check out my favorite website for 2011 and leave me a comment with your thoughts.   

Takeaways from Pitch, Don’t Spin: How to Create Buzz Around your Start-up

Rae Wang, TMMBA Class of 2003

TMMBA sponsored an MIT Enterprise Forum Northwest entrepreneur meet up last night, the topic was Pitch Don’t Spin.  I was very excited that the TMMBA program reached out to the community to connect with other tech enthusiasts, meanwhile making such events available us, the alums, to attend.  I have a two years old startup and customer acquisition through new media is always on my marketing agenda, so this topic caught my interest right away.

The panel consisted of the co-founder of GeekWire, Founder of Newsvine, editor of Seattle Business Magazine, Seattle Times Technology Columnist, and the senior editor of Xconomy.  They gave us a wide range of opinions on how to approach media in this new media age. General challenges in the tech media today are:

  • Too much information is flowing around
  • A lot of people are writing
  • New media and old media provide a lot of choices for entrepreneurs, it can get overwhelming

The panel presented very interesting points and suggestions on how tech entrepreneurs can effectively tackle these challenges:

  • Be authentic, be honest, and be yourself
  • Sell your true story not your credentials
  • Have a story: just because you have an app, it does not mean you have an interesting story
  • Explain your technology in layman terms
  • Get the reporters interested in you
  • Know your audience and use the correct channel to pitch: no need to do Twitter etc if nobody reads it
  • Get your interesting nuggets of news prepared ahead of time before meeting the press
  • Rethink press release and don’t be afraid to use new media, such as emails

If you would like to learn more about this event, my fellow note taker over at posted a visual note from the event. Check it out at

Bye Bye Summer and Hello Fall Quarter

Wei Huang TMMBA Class 11

Summer quarter ended on August 28, 2011 when our Macro Economics and Marketing exams were due. Now, there is a nice break before fall quarter, which starts on September 22 to 24 for the Monday section and September 29 to October 1.

Fall quarter 2011 will have a new twist. Every student will have new teams. There was an option for students in the Monday section to move over to the Wednesday section and vice-versa. A total of 6 students from each section swapped sections so a total of 12 students from both sections. Come to think of it, this sounds like reality TV show. We are all going to have all new study mates and some will have all new sections.

I am one of those students who will be switching sections. Originally, I was in the Wednesday section and I will be moving to the Monday section.  It will be interesting to see Monday class’s culture and inside jokes.  Honestly, I’m a bit reserved because I have been so comfortable with the Wednesday class.  It’s going to feel like going back to school again.  At the same time, I’m going to meet new people.  I know most of the Monday class students but not all of them.  Someone once said ‘Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.”  I take this quote to heart in these situations.

September 22, we start the Fall quarter with the Leadership Immersion on enhancing our leadership skills.  This is a 3 hours on Thursday and 8 hrs each on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  We had something similar when we started.  It was great to work with my current team (C5).  As I type, I just forgot I need to turn in homework today.  It’s a set of questions that will determine what my leadership style is.  Ok, got go…


Lucas Perin, TMMBA Student

This is a rip-off from a Brazilian writer named Luis Fernando Verissimo. He is describing a couple’s whole life using a dialogue. My first attempt at translating and adapting it is below:

– Shall we dance?
– Thank you.
– Do you come here often?
– I do.
– Are we dating?
– You need to talk to my father…
– I did already, now we just need to set the date.
– July 26th?
– Right.
– Don’t forget the rings…
– Do you love me?
– I do.
– I do.
– I can’t believe it, we are married. It all happened so fast!
– Were you nervous?
– I was not. Was it good?
– It was.
– I’m pregnant.
– It’s a boy!
– Looks like you!
– Where are you going?
– The baby is crying.
– Come here…
– Sweetie?
– Hmm?
– I’m pregnant again!
– It’s a girl!
– What’s up with you?
– Why?
– You seem distant…
– It’s my job…
– You’re having an affair!
– That’s silly.
– Yes, it is. Do you forgive me?
– Come here…
– Not here… the kids…
– Junior left, he had a date.
– Did you talk to him about…
– Yes, he knows exactly what to do.
– What? Did you tell him?
– No, he knew better than I did. This generation knows everything. I just had to teach him how to use the wrench.
– What!?
– Oh, do you mean… I thought it was the car. And what about Liz?
– It’s getting serious…
– With the software engineer?
– Yep, by the way…
– They are living together! I knew it!
– She’s going to the hospital.
– Already?!
– They’ve got twins!
– You know… you’re a cool grandma…
– Who would’ve known?
– Come here…
– Not here… the kids…
– What kids?
– The twins… Liz left them here.
– Aw.
– What?
– I feel a pressure in my chest.
– You have to take care of yourself. You’re in the dangerous age.
– Already!?
– Liz is pregnant again.
– Twins again? That software engineer must be using the binary system.
– Must Junior’s band use our garage? This is hell.
– And the name of the band? Terror and Ecstasy?
– They’re going to wake up the twins.
– Aw.
– What? Your heart again?
– Don’t worry. Hey, this ballad they’re playing… I sort of like it.
– Shall we dance?
– No way! Don’t you remember what happened last time?

What a difference a quarter makes

Tom Mackey, TMMBA Student

This post is mostly personal, and medical related; I’m posting in hopes that some of the lessons learned and pain experienced may spare someone else down the line. No TMMBA content — You have been warned.

After my annual physical in September, I started experiencing increased shortness of breath, momentary dizziness, momentary chest pains, irritability, and extreme fatigue. By the time Quarter Four was underway, I was getting worse, and I also started to experience rather severe back pains. My physician called me back into the office and told me my blood pressure was going up and she wanted to put me on a mild med to bring it down. She also told me to get more sleep. Between the worries over my health, and a conscious decision to limit my stress and anxiety level, I pulled back some on my studies and tried to get more sleep. By late November, my blood pressure had started to come down to just a little over optimum.

I was told to track my BP daily if possible, and since we have one of those BP measuring stations in my building, I could do that. Of course, I could not resist keeping track of my BP in a spread sheet, and then running stat pad on the results and creating a plot of Systolic, Diastolic, and Pulse along with date and time. That confirmed to my physician that I was a Class-A Nerd! But it also showed that the med and lifestyle changes were working.

While shuffling Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations down from and back into the garage attic, my back ache got progressively worse. I was starting to wonder if this was it and I would be reduced to hiring someone to do the work for me. Then about two weeks before Christmas I woke up one Saturday and could not bear to even sit on the bed. I could not stand, could not walk for sure. I had to crawl on my hands and knees to the toilet, and finally a full 30 minutes after I awoke I could finally stand and sort of shuffle around. The next day was much better — just a bad back ache mostly on my right side.

The Sunday before Christmas I woke and sat straight up in bed, with incredible pain. It felt like someone had stuck a spear in me. It was in my lower right abdomen. Marilyn looked up symptoms on the internet and there was a possibility that it was acute appendicitis. Another possibility was a kidney stone, but I did not seen to have the kind of pain over my kidney that seemed indicated. Now I warned you there would be medical content. After a bout of diarrhea I felt much better. By lunch I felt well enough to eat, so I did. Immediately the pain returned, worse than before, and radiating all the way through me, still centered in my lower right abdomen. It was well below freezing outside, and after trying and failing to install tire chains (I had been sold the wrong size, but that’s another story), we headed out into eight to ten inches of snow to get to the hospital. The pain was so intense that I came close to blacking out several times. Once there, the triage nurse told me that it was probably not a burst appendix, but was probably a kidney stone. I said that of the two, a kidney stone was probably less serious, and she agreed, but said the appendix would be less painful After five hours, chucking my lunch, three morphine drips, and a cat-scan which verified a 3mm stone two thirds of the way towards my bladder, they sent me home with a prescription of “Good Drugs” ™ and a filter funnel to catch the stone.

I think I paced a mile in the house that night, as anything else was too uncomfortable and the pacing seemed to make the pain more bearable. The drugs, by the way, when you have “Real Pain”, don’t really do that much. The ER doc said every six hours, but the effects were wearing off in three and I was hanging on until four. He also said to drink extra fluids to “flush it out”. My doctor was out on Monday so it was not until Tuesday that I could talk to her. She called her Urologist and then called me back with more bad news. It turns out that once a stone is moving, drinking more fluids just increases the pressure behind it, causing the duct to balloon, and thus causing even more pain. She sent in a prescription that would relax the ducts and I ceased fluid intake as much as possible.

Christmas Eve morning I awoke drenched in sweat but to no pain. I figured that the stone had passed into my bladder as I mercifully slept through the final burst of pain. Sure enough, the little bugger was captured in the funnel filter — a little black BB was all I was able to show for my efforts. The next day was the best Christmas I ever had: pain free!!!

So where are the lessons learned? Interestingly enough, my Blood Pressure is now within the “good” range. My back ache has also disappeared. I put all the Christmas stuff back into the attic without any problem. Turns out that pain can increase your BP, as well as stress, lack of sleep, and diet. Also, in further reading, “flank” pain like I had is an indicator of kidney stone issues. I suspect strongly that the Saturday I could not move was the day the stone started it’s journey and the back pain was the result of its movements through and out of the kidney. If passing a kidney stone, reducing, not increasing, fluid input may be best. And in the case of the type of stone I had, which is most typical (calcium oxalate monohydrate), drinking more water and some minor diet modifications (the same in many respects that help lower blood pressure) will help prevent future stones.

Finally, I hope that this nasty week-long cold that I just shook is the last of the medical challenges I face for some time to come. This getting old stuff really bites

Posting a picture — May be of interest to other bloggers


Marilyn, my life partner, and I like to go on road trips and we like finding interesting roads, old town sites, historical sites, and such. Two years ago we took a 6000 mile trip around a large part of the US, and I started a personal blog, “Travelers-Traces”, to record our impressions. If I did this right, here’s a picture of Chimney Rock in Nebraska, on the Oregon Trail route.


The main site is here:

And if you are interested, you might want to start with my first post: Preamble: Natchez Mississippi

And work backwards to the most current. I have not had time nor been motivated enough to continue, yet, but working on this one may get me in the mode of continuing where I left off. Last year we took a trip to the Canadian ghost town of Barkerville, which is run as a tourist destination during the summer. Later, and again this year, we took trips into Eastern Washington and Oregon and I have a lot to share. Again, if interested, set up an RSS notification thingy and when I post new stuff to Travelers-Traces, you will be notified.

I also have a set of missives I wrote back in 1999 when we did a Europe Through the Backdoor Tour — at least I hope I can find them. When I do, I’ll add them to Travelers Traces.

Other things I plan to add someday:

  • Trip from Michigan to California in 1971 on a Kawasaki 250
  • Trip from Washington to Michigan and back via US 2 and US 30 (mostly) in our brand new 10th Anniversary Special Miata
  • Trip from here to Moab Utah to attend a Miata gathering (over 200 other Miatas from all over NA attended)

I have not used many different blogging applications. Just the internal Boeing blog, Google’s blogging, and this. If any of you have experience with others, or tips or tricks for doing a good job of blogging, please let me know. I would like to be interesting and informative and not bore you all to tears.



We live in interesting times…

Tom Mackey, TMMBA Student

The market fell 504 points yesterday, and last night I didn’t sleep too well. I’m a TMMBA geezer; I’ll hit double-nickels on Friday. I know my Boeing VIP fund took a huge hit yesterday. I think my early retirement plans fell out the window right along with the market.

Yesterday was also my first day back at work after a short vacation. The week before that was Finals week, which capped off the third quarter of the TMMBA program. I was looking forward to this first blog entry and had composed a lot of it in my head as my life partner Marilyn and I traced a path to the Eastern Washington wine country, then back along the Columbia River, and finally to the Long Beach peninsula. This morning, as I ride the bus in to work, my mind is a jumble of disconnected thoughts — bits of composed blog entry, worries about the economy, the upcoming elections, factoids gleaned from our vacation and other road-trips, memories of the past three quarters, things I need to do at home, the difficulties at work where the machinists’ strike and an SEI-CMMI assessment have combined to make things even more hectic than usual, all spin together in my mind, each vying for attention. Suddenly a bumper sticker I saw once comes to mind: “Visualize Whirled Peas”. Peas in a blender — now that’s an apt description of my mental state right now! World Peace? I think recent events have not helped in that quest…

I volunteered to write because I thought I might provide a unique perspective on the TMMBA program. I’m a “late boomer”, and my parents were close to 40 when I was born, Especially in my mom’s case, her memories of the Great Depression were still vivid and so sometimes it is almost as if I had lived through that as well. My early years were shaped by the Mercury Seven, the tragedy of the Kennedy assassinations, race riots, sit-ins, and Kent State. The fabric of society was being torn asunder by multiple forces, and I was an awkward age — too young to participate and too old to not notice. The Viet Nam war was winding down during my draft year and I drew a high number. Looking back, entering the military would have been good for me. I could have used the discipline.

So it’s the next day — the fur was flying when I hit the office yesterday and the pace didn’t slow until I got home — late. Marilyn had some kabobs for me to BBQ, and by the time we ate and told each other about our day, it was time to go to bed. The market recovered about 140 points, but the Fed announced after the close that it was putting AIG into conservatorship. Who knows what today will bring. The market opens in 15 minutes, which is about the time this rattling bus will let me off at the airport.

I did take a quick look at the blog site yesterday, and this entry has definitely taken a different tone than the rest. I didn’t see any place for comments like a normal blog; you are welcome to email me: if you wish to comment. I’ll incorporate relevant feedback in future postings.

Discipline, among other things, was what drew me to the TMMBA program. I was working as a lead Configuration Management specialist at The Boeing Company, and a young man was hired for my team. It was my first leadership position, and he is a Marine. He had served as a tank commander in Desert Storm, and although easy going and laid back, there was a quality about him, a steely self-confidence, that I deeply admired. I noticed his discipline in completing his tasks; this, too, was expressed in a quiet and laid back manner. When his grandmother passed away, he inherited a modest sum of money that she hoped he would use to further his education, and he started looking into MBA programs. I had been noticing the TMMBA ads on the buses downtown and something clicked. If he could be considering an MBA, why not me?

I have a decision to make w.r.t. my career — Boeing has both a technical path (the Technical Fellow program) and a management path. The nice thing is that you can move back and forth, within reason, so neither path is permanent. Regardless of which I choose to take, I recognized that I needed an advanced degree, or more specifically, the skills learned in obtaining such a degree, if I wanted to do well. This program, which has evening and weekend classes, and finishes in 18 months, seemed ideal. Once in the program, I found additional benefits — we are placed in teams by the TMMBA staff, and we progress through the program as a team. Since nearly every facet of today’s high-tech industry involves working in teams, the experience is both natural and instructive. A large part of what we do is making our team work more efficiently. I am lucky to be part of a great team. Our personalities both contrast and compliment, as do our backgrounds and interests. I’ll be writing more on the team aspect later.

Well, I am about to get off the bus, so once I get to my desk I will submit this entry and get to work. Future posts will touch on the various classes, lessons learned, teamwork, and of course, personal and interesting tidbits that hopefully will pique your interest.

PS: Well, the market is tanking again, as feared. We are in for a rough ride and I am glad to be in high gear learning mode again.

I have a saying: “If you stop learning, you might as well start dying.” The TMMBA program is a Fantastic place to keep learning!