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Advice for a Nigerian Engineer

Got an email from a Nigerian engineer asking for my take on where he's at. Basically, he's on a steady upward career track but he doesn't care for his field of engineering. So he's got a tough decision at hand - he's already got a great credential and skills, but he really wants to do more abstract/entrepreneurial work - but he doesn't currently have the skillset for it. He had two kinds of questions - a high level strategic question about whether the tradeoffs between switching professions are worth it, because he'd be losing out on a lot of his current credentials/skills and be behind other people. And second, tactical questions on getting started on the creative/entrepreneurial path even though he's got a good full-time job right now that he doesn't love, but doesn't want to quit.

He felt pretty unhappy and stuck when he wrote - good solid job right now, not a ton of other opportunity in his area, and worried about how his skills and life would transfer to his desired field. Here's my reply -


Okay. You're obviously a highly intelligent guy. I think one problem that people have is when they decide to become ambitious, they see there's 10,000 ways they could improve and it's easy to kind of panic or get overwhelmed.

Don't panic. Don't get overwhelmed. Calm down, pick 1-3 things to work on, improve those areas like crazy, then pick the next ones. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Tesla Model S Factory Tour in Fremont, CA

On DROdio

Sue and I took a tour of the Tesla Model S factory in Fremont, CA today.  This is the old NUMMI plant.  If you haven't heard the NUMMI story between GM & Toyota, and you're a car buff, there's a This American Life episode about it that's just mind blowing.  The net of it is that GM tried to learn Just In Time assembly practices from Toyota, they built a factory together for Toyota to transfer this know-how to GM, and GM completely blew it.  The factory shut down and was sitting idle after that fiasco.

When Elon Musk was looking for a place to build his new Model S sedan, he approached Toyota with a $50MM bid for it, which Toyota accepted.  Why would Toyota sell a car production plant arguably worth $1 billion or more for $50MM?  For the answer to that, you really have to understand the relationship between Musk and Toyota, which is well portrayed in this 2010 WIRED magazine article.

As a reservation holder for the Model S, I'm proud to support one of the most amazing entrepreneurs of our generation.  What makes Elon even more amazing is that he's not only revolutionizing the automobile industry, but the space industry as well, with SpaceX... at the same time.  Elon, my hat is off to you.

Below are a number of pictures and vidoes of the factory and the event, which was very well done.

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