An address to the incoming class of the The Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program at the United States Naval Research Laboratory emphasizing the importance of developing good communication skills for technical professionals.
Making, building, discovering are the good parts. And getting sponsorship for making, building, discovering requires communication. Communication is a professional skill you need to master.
My mentor Leonardo was backed by the Medicis, the Sforzas, and several Popes, the power elite of his time. That got him the assignments, the resources, and staff to do important work. He won contracts for both basic and applied research for naval technology.
Do you know the difference between basic and applied research?
Leonardo spent a lot of time hanging around in taverns, grooming the legend, the myth, of Leonardo, more than most. Even so, there were times of no support, no jobs, but less than for his competitors who neglected their communication.
Today, it is even easier to develop your following.
How many of you have published professional papers? Written a book?
How many of you curate a blog?
How many of you keep a journal to remind you of what you were doing yesterday?
Today, with the internet, it is important to build a legend of what you are doing. Like anything else that is worthwhile it is a practice. The more you do it, the better you get.
Every time I post on my blogs, I syndicate to over 200,000 readers. That takes 20 minutes. The Washington Post claims 500,000 readers.
I meet people I don’t even know who know what I am doing. And when they want help, they come find me.
Now is the time to develop your communication skills, just as you are building your scientific skills, and meeting the people who will have an impact of your future careers. Make the most of this opportunity. You are now in the major leagues.
You are getting a copy of this presentation because another mentor, Doc Fails of the Fails Management Institute, told me, “If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist.” Welcome to the major leagues.
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