David Edgerton Jr

Experienced IT Leader | Business Educator | Diversity Advocate


David Edgerton Jr

Experienced IT Leader | Business Educator | Diversity Advocate


DAVID EDGERTON JR.

Experienced IT Leader | Business Educator | Diversity Advocate

16/11/16 Blogging , Insights , Inspiration no responses # , ,

Change is Inevitable – Growth is Optional

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In a sermon a few weeks ago my pastor made this statement that caused me to really think:

“Change is inevitable – growth is optional”

I thought, “What?  I thought you grow when you change or make changes in your life.  I don’t get it.”

Then I started thinking about the changes I’ve experienced at work, at home, and throughout my life.  What I started to see is whenever I experienced a change that was unexpected, how I dealt with the change usually made me aware of something I didn’t know about myself before the change occurred.  It was my choice to either accept the lesson and learn from it or dismiss it as some random act with no value I could extract in preparation for the next event that comes up.

When it comes down to it we all are going to change over our lifetimes.  We all are going to have events in our life that show up expectedly or we plan for but may go a different way than expected.  The question is what do you learn from these experiences that help you become a better person?  How do you use what happened to your advantage?  What is the lesson in the event that you need to get that prepares you in some way to face the next event with a better mindset and attitude?

Because change is inevitable make sure you take the option to grow from the changes.  It will make you better than the day before and help you reach your full potential and purpose.

03/11/16 Uncategorized no responses

4:30 AM

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I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago.  I love my birthday – it is my personal holiday.

I wanted to make some changes that would stick so I decided to focus on my health for the next 365 days.  I decided to go to the gym.

When I go to the gym I have to wake up at 4:30 AM to get there by 5:00 AM.  I thought this was going to be a hard sell to my body but I got a little help from a meeting I have with a software development team in India at 6:30 AM.  I figured I would go to the gym before this meeting – which was a little crazy.

I’ve been doing this for 2 weeks straight now (I go to the gym at 6:00 AM on Saturday and Sunday so I sleep in one hour) and I genuinely feel better.  I also cut out drinking sodas, tea, and coffee too (I don’t know how I did that) and it is working for me.  Once you get through the initial headaches that occur with getting that sugar out of your body it gets easier to drink just water.

This is what I’m doing and it seems to be working for me.

19/09/16 Business Model , Entertainment , Entrepreneurship , MBA , Teaching , Technology no responses

Texas Hold ‘Em: A Great Tool for Learning About Business and Life

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This past weekend I attended and won a poker tournament held at a colleague’s house.  The tournament is held every quarter to raise funds for a local charity and this particular tournament was the fiftieth one – so it was a special occasion.  The event has generated over $24,000 in donations which I’m proud to have participated.

When I think about the game itself I don’t consider myself the best player.  I don’t play all the time and don’t really have many friends that play the game.  Back home and in college the game to know and play was spades.  You couldn’t find a college campus that didn’t have a spade game going on in the student union or sometimes in the barbershop.

When I think about the game and what you have to do to be successful in business and life, it reminds me of what an entrepreneur and/or business person has to do to compete in the marketplace.  Here are a couple of things I picked up from the game that helps me with my ventures:

  • You cannot win if you don’t get in the game.  Before the game everyone paid $40 and got the same number of chips.  I can guarantee you that the people that don’t pay to play in the tournament will never win the tournament.  I think the same goes with being an entrepreneur or business person where you have to pay the cost of admission into the space you are trying to compete in and win.  If you have to study, take courses, get mentoring, work for someone else to learn your craft, then do it.  That education and/or experience will be the best thing you can use to set yourself up for a great entry into a market or introduce a new service.  But the thing you have to realize is that the business or venture you want to sell for millions won’t get sold unless you first start it – so go start it and learn what you need to learn as you need it.
  • Standing still and doing nothing will eventually kill you.  The game has what’s called a big blind and a small blind.  These are the bets that 2 players have to make that sit clockwise from the dealer – before they see the rest of the cards.  If the cards are good then they can play the hand but if the cards are bad then they lose the chips they had to bet.  The blinds in our tournament increase every 30 minutes so in the beginning they were $25 and $50 and by the end of the tournament they were $400 and $800.  This is designed to speed up the game by weeding out the players with short stacks of chips.  In life, if you don’t decide to get into the game and create your opportunities, the cost of getting into the game later will continue to increase and take what you have – until you don’t have anything else and you are kicked out of the game.  That resource could be time or funds or confidence so you have to watch what the game of life requires of you.  Some people choose to stay where they are because it is comfortable, but those who chose to play the game of life realize that they have to “keep it moving” and take advantage of opportunities when they reveal themselves or are created.
  • Make the most of every hand you play – whether you have a logical system or you can calculate all the probabilities for getting the cards you want, play the hand you are given the best you can every time.  Sometimes you can win with a bad hand if you play it right.  There was one time in the game where I had a couple of deuces and decided to play the hand since I had put in one of the blind bets.  When the flop came (the 3 cards you start with from the dealer to build your poker hand) I got another deuce and a seven of hearts.  Then later I got another seven which gave me a full house – which has a higher probability of winning than most hands.  Normally I wouldn’t have played that hand but something inside my head said “play this hand.”  The same goes with life – when you are given what you are given then use it to the advantage you have to be successful.  You can make your situation better than it is if you don’t focus on what you’ve got and focus on what you can do with it.  There are many successful entrepreneurs and business people that started with nothing and turned that nothing into something.  Pull the vision of success you have out of your head into the reality of your life by using what you have.
  • Always know what hand can beat you – some people would call this knowing the competition and the threats in the marketplace.  While making the most of the cards you have, you have to know what combinations of hands that can beat you; so you know if someone starts to bluff or play aggressively you know what you are up against.  There are many times in poker that the possibility of having a better hand was there for my opponents, but you cannot play effectively if you don’t know what hand can beat you.  In life, know your limitations, your development areas, and your shortcomings so that you can prepare to either shield yourself when competitive threats come against you or exploit those moments, when opportunities come, to get ahead of your competition.  Partner with people and organizations that can complement what you have so you can limit your exposure to competitive threats.
  • Mitigate, accept, or transfer your risks – Sometimes you have to see the flop before you go further with a hand.  You may have to pay more money just to get the privilege to keep going forward in the game at that moment.  There are many hands that I could have won but decided to fold because the cards were just too bad to play.  You can’t win if you don’t take risks so you have to learn how to read a situation to determine if the risk is worth taking.  I’ve played some crazy hands of poker and still won because I took some chances that just happen to pay off.  The same thing happens in life when you take certain chances to improve your outcomes.  It would not be wise to play every hand but it is wise to take some calculated chances.  That is what most successful entrepreneurs do – they don’t always jump all-in on an opportunity without some way to increase their probability of success.  They make sure they are shielded from the downside of a move they make while maximizing their upside potential. This is where entrepreneurs and business people have to learn how to take the right changes and risks to get where they are supposed to go.  Some smart person said that the fruit on the tree is always out on a limb so you have to sometimes climb the tree and go out on the limb to get the prize.
  • If you don’t succeed the first time keeping trying.  This was the third tournament I have played in 2 years.  The first time I played I was done and bowed out early.  The second time I played I made it to the final table but was out shortly thereafter.  Then the third time I played I outlasted the competition won the tournament.  In life, if you want to achieve something, you have to keep at it consistently and believe that one day everything will be in place for you to win.  But you must first believe that you can win before you do win.  When I made it to the last table something told me that I could really win this tournament if I believed I could win.  I started believing and the outcome was my first trophy.

As I reflect on my weekend fun, I can’t help but see the similarities in the game of poker and starting a business or taking on any major project in life.  You’ve got to take changes while mitigating your risks, you have to know what can bite you, you have to keep things moving, and you have to continue to learn from what you do.

 

14/09/16 Blogging , Diversity And Inclusion , Insights , Reflections , Social Media , Strategy , Writing no responses

Trying To Help Someone Showed Me Something Else

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A few weeks ago, I was driving through the city to get home and got the taste for a white chocolate mocha from Starbucks (now you want one too.)  I know where all the Starbucks stores are without the app so I pulled over to the one I knew in downtown St. Paul.

The weather was nice so I had my sunroof back and my windows down; enjoying the breeze of fresh air as I cruised through the downtown street.  When I parked, I heard voice from the driver side of the car saying “I’m hungry!  Help me!”  When I looked in that direction, I found a lady sticking her head in my car through the open window yelling at me.  While her presence startled me I quickly evaluated the situation and assessed that she was not a threat.

I get out of my car and say “Ma’am, I’d be happy to get you something to eat.  Come on with me to Starbucks and I get you something.”

To my surprise the woman then got really upset with me and said “I don’t want no Starbucks.  I want some chicken and biscuits!”

I said, “Ma’am, I don’t know where you are going to get some chicken and biscuits but I know I can get you something to eat in the Starbucks if you come with me.”  The Starbucks by the way was right across the street from where I parked.

The woman continued to yell at me and said “I don’t want no Starbucks!  It’s too expensive.  I want some chicken and biscuits!” as she walked away.

What did this show me?

I’m an advocate for diversity; especially in the tech space and specifically in Minnesota.  Companies are communicating that they want the best people to fulfill their need for talent but when someone offers a solution to can fulfill that need that doesn’t look like what they expect it to look like, then those hiring managers chose to bypass those opportunities and continue to search for what is familiar to them; even if they have to walk away and go pass the pool of candidates right in front of them.  Some call that unconscious bias.

If you need great talent then you need great talent; no matter what the package is.  If the lady was truly hungry then what she needed was food; not what she visualized the solution was.

What do you think?  

 

 

13/09/16 Uncategorized no responses

9/11 – The Date When Life Changed For Me

15 years old I was working at my first company that manufactured and sold TVs. I had been there for 5 years; graduating from the rotational technical leadership program and moving into the information technology department. I was running a team that handled updating content for all the web properties the company owned.

I remember coming to work that faithful day. The building had 6 floors and an atrium where you could see 60″ projection televisions all tuned in to the news. You could imagine my shock when I got to work and every screen was tuned in to the Twin Towers in New York. The first plane had already hit the first building and later on that morning I watched the second plane hit the other building.

I remember giving my team time to process the events. I had one team member that was so distraught that I let her go home to be with her family. Other team members were in a daze; trying to process the horror of the attacks and thinking about the people affected by the actions of terrorists. Others in the building were contacting relatives and friends they knew in New York to see if they heard from people that went to work that day in the Twin Towers.

While I couldn’t think of anyone I knew personally, I was thinking about my deceased father – whose birthday was the same day that the Twin Towers were attacked. Now there was this terrible incident attached to the same day I held in high esteem because of what my father meant to me.

In the midst of everything going on, I received a call from a hiring manager I had interviewed with at a company in Minnesota. When we spoke she acknowledged the event that had occurred and offered an apology for the timing of the call. She went on to talk about my offer to join her at a company that was spun off from a larger company 5 years before. After a short time of contemplating the offer I happily accepted.

For the next 15 years I’ve experienced the greatest and worst times in my corporate career. I’ve had some unique opportunities to grow and expand my knowledge while trying new things that I would not have tried had I stayed with my previous company. I’ve made new friends and have connected with great people that I probably would not have had access to had I not taken this opportunity. I can say that I am a better person because of this change in my life.

I no longer work for that company that brought me to Minnesota but every year I contact my friend, who called me that faithful day 15 years ago, to say thank you for inviting me to a new chapter of my life and I thank her for taking a chance on me. I propose that you do the same – on 9/11 remember those whose lives were impacted 15 years ago by showing gratitude for what you have and what you have been given.

21/08/16 Entertainment , Insights , Inspiration , Uncategorized no responses

The Greatest Musical Ever

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If you have not the opportunity to see The Lion King broadway musical you have to find a way to attend.  The production was unbelievable and the artistry of props and costumes really impressed me.  I had a chance to attend with my lovely wife and 2 friends a few weeks ago in Minneapolis and it was a great time.

What also amazes me about the production is that is has be going on for 15 years and has earned over $6 billion in revenue.  How does a story about lions and hyenas pull that kind of financial weight for so long?  I believe it comes down to a couple of things:

Everyone can identify with the strong characters – there is a person like Mufasa, Simba, Scar, Nala, and Zazoo in everyone’s life.  Their personalities are definitive yet relatable so you can immediately become a part of the story as you watch the plot unfolds.

The circle of life is definitely demonstrated in the story – while sad, Mufasa, the patriarch, passed on but makes way for his son Simba to take his place.  This is something about the changing of the guard that we like to see – even if there is a period where things don’t go the way they should.

The story is timeless – we will be thinking about this story forever because all the elements are repeatable throughout life.  This story is just as good in the 1990s as it will be in the 2090s.

 

06/06/16 Diversity And Inclusion , Education , Entrepreneurship , Inspiration , Software , Startups , Strategy , Technology no responses

CodeSwitch: Hacking for Change

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This past weekend I was the emcee for a great event that brought many people together to solve problems within our community using technology.  The event was called CodeSwitch and it was a hackathon focused on addressing the socioeconomic problems faced by marginalized groups in the state of Minnesota.

It started with breakfast and a panel of distinguished guests discussing the current issues we face and why there is a need to bridge the gaps we have in our community for future benefit.  The panelists proposed projects that could benefit people of color in their respective areas of healthcare, the legal system, and poverty.  After the opening discussion participants were invited to pitch their ideas in front of the crowd to form teams and get help building an app or website over the next 24 hours to address the issues.

Some of the ideas pitched were an app to help identify available beds at homeless shelters.  Another idea was to create an app that helps with mentoring young black boys by connecting them with black men in business, technology, and other fields so they have someone to talk to about how to make it in their world.  Another idea was an app that would help people navigate the public assistance system to ensure they could leverage benefits and be able to support themselves as they worked for a better life.

All in all, there were over 20 projects pitches and several teams presented their work yesterday to the panel and other guests.  The event ended with a party at Fulton Brewery with a DJ playing Prince music and people having a great time after putting in some hard work to help others.

I sincerely hope that this event continues and that some of the projects will be supported and funded in the future.  Events like these can not only address some of the challenges faced by underrepresented groups in the Twin Cities, these events can provide underrepresented groups in technology the opportunity to do something about the challenges we all face in making this world a better place.  #disruptinginequity

22/04/16 Music one response #

The Day I Met Prince

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I moved to Minnesota in 2011 after 9/11 and was in a MARS music store on Snelling Avenue, St. Paul, when I was approached by a guy named Walter Chancellor Jr.  Walter heard me playing the keyboard and came over to talk to me.  He said that I was great and that I should come down to one of the clubs and sit in with his group. I had just moved here and was like “Who is this guy?” He mentioned that he was a sax player and that his knew Prince and played with him. By now I was like “this guy is crazy!” but I ended up coming down one Friday night.

 

When I came in the club called Jazzmine’s on 3rd Street in Minneapolis, Walter Chancellor Jr. was on stage with his band Conversation Piece.  I didn’t know the guys but here is who was in the band:

  • Chance Howard on bass, who played with Prince on the Musicology tour and tours with Candy Dulfer
  • Kirk Johnson on drums, who also tours with Caddie Dulfer and is the estate manager for Paisley Park Studios
  • George Scott on guitar who has wicked chops
  • Todd Burrell on the keyboard, who will always respect for his musicianship and giving up his axe

Walter sees me come in and announces to the club that we have a special guest – David Edgerton – who is here from North Carolina and plays a mean keyboard.  Let’s welcome this new brother to the stage to sit in with us.  I was floored and humbled at the same time – as you can imagine.  Todd steps away from his Kurzweil 2000 keyboard and beckons me to come up on stage.  The guys start Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” and I play the song as if we had been rehearsing for months.  Walter looks at me to take a solo and I tried to draw smoke from the keyboard.  After the set the guys shook my hand and said “come back to play with us anytime.”  Walter had a look like “I told you” which I will never forget.

I came down to Jazzmine’s one time with my cousin who was staying with me over the summer.  This time I didn’t sit in with the band but enjoyed some good food and the music.  All of a sudden, his royal purpleness and his girlfriend come into the club and sit at the table directly beside me and my cousin Will.  Will looks at me and says “is that who I think that is?” and I said “Yeah, man” – like I was an insider or something.  The band sees Prince and say “come on up” to the stage.  George in the middle of the song takes his guitar off his shoulder and holds it up in the air as if to say “I’m not worthy – I’m not worthy!”  Prince goes up to the stage in a sweat suit and skateboard sneakers and proceeds to make George’s guitar scream like something out of an old horror movie.  I thought I saw smoke coming out of the house speakers while the guy was playing.  It was a sight to see and I’m so thankful to Walter for introducing me to the music scene in Minneapolis and making it so I could meet Prince – even if it was for only a few minutes.

Out of that connection with Walter I got to play with some of the best musicians in not only Minneapolis but the country.  That connection led to an opportunity for me to play with:

I want to thank Walter for not only introducing me to these gifted people but for also teaching me one of life’s best lessons – never, ever, judge a book by the cover. You don’t know who people know so you have to take them at face value until they prove you wrong.  Had I not listened to him and visited the club, I would have never met Prince and heard him play live like he played that night – and I would have never met such great people in Minneapolis.

RIP Prince and thank you for all the great music over the years.

11/04/16 Reflections no responses #

Running

Today I got up and went to the gym.  I hated it.  I hated it some more.  Then I got over myself.

You see all the cars and the people walking in and out.  This was going to be horrible I was thinking to myself.

I figured that the older I got the more I needed to exercise so I bit the bullet and bought some running shoes.  Why running?  What happened to biking and swimming and everything else?

My issue is simple – I’m lazy.  There I wrote it.

Sports wasn’t my thing in school.  Music was and still is.  Being in the marching band was a lot of work but not like being on the basketball team.

Now I’m trying to start some good habits so I can live longer.  That is the focus – healthier living – so I can be there for my family.

I started an 8-week beginning running workout that should have me ready to run 2-3 miles non-stop.  That’s not a bad goal so if I can do that I will then look at running a 5K race soon after.

Maybe I won’t hate it tomorrow.  Or the next day.  Who knows.

 

20/03/16 Blogging , Education , Insights no responses # , ,

How an Organic Burger Opened The Door of Opportunity

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Tre, Michael, Naomi and I were at the Mall of America last night hanging out. We tried a burger joint that was supposed to be organic and fresh called Burger Burger.

Since I talk to anybody I saw a couple while we were in line and asked them what burger should we get. The lady said get the one with everything on it.  I can’t remember what it is called but the name “John Wayne” rings a bell.

Everyone got the basic burger with American cheese and fresh cut fries.  I believe Naomi was really hungry because she ate most of hers.

When we sat down the lady I asked about the burger came over and asked us if we liked our food.  I said we did and I thanked her for giving us a recommendation.

Then the lady says she thinks she has seen us somewhere and named all these places that she thought she could have met me and my son Tre.  Usually you politely say “No, you have me mixed up with someone else” or “No, you got the wrong guy” and try to leave.  Something said, “Hang around for a minute, there is a reason for this.”

So we figured out that the lady was a neurosurgeon who just moved her to complete her residency program at the University of Minnesota.  She saw Tre and I at a lecture that Tre invited me to attend a few weeks ago on natural-language processing (my son wants to build a Jarvis and get into artificial intelligence while studying computer science) and it was held in the medical school auditorium.

Then she asked Tre where he wants to go to college.  Tre told her he has a couple of Ivy League schools on his list but hasn’t made a decision yet.  The lady then proceeds to tell us that she is both a Yale and Harvard grad.  The conversation immediately shifted to providing information for Tre to consider as he looks at Yale as one of his schools.  She talked about admissions, the campus, the diversity and challenges there, and offered to connect with him the closer he gets to applying to help with recommendations.

All of that from deciding to eat organic burgers right?

So now we have a contact to help Tre with his college admissions search that can provide him insight on Yale as a choice.  I think that’s awesome.

And it only cost me $46.

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