Doug Foster is the Founder and CEO of Convinsys. Bridging the gap between engineering and sales, Convinsys helps innovators better explain, demonstrate, and sell technical solutions.
Prior to starting Convinsys, Doug served in technical and managerial roles for sales, marketing, IT, engineering, and manufacturing companies ranging from startups to global high tech.
Since giving his first tech demo at age 13, Doug has helped people understand new technology and how it can solve challenging problems. He has built international computer networks, spoken at industry events, developed software, taught classes, provided guidance for licensing NASA intellectual property, given countless executive presentations & demonstrations, and helped close global sales opportunities.
Doug holds a bachelor of science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University with postgraduate work in numerical calculations at the University of Iowa.
I ask questions, especially why. I’m an engineer who loves ideas, tools, & creative problem solving. I’m a technology geek - especially for everything Internet. I can explain difficult subjects with simple words and insightful demonstrations. I can tell stories , make anything, and convince people to take action. I have integrity and lead by example. Most of all, I care.
- Analyzing - how does this work, why?
- Convincing - strategy, stories, proof points, engaging experiences
- Engineering - finding & fixing problems (see my favorite quote)
- Explaining - teaching, writing, digital media, simplifying, presenting, demos
- Innovating - creativity, ideas, concepts, trends, opportunities, “what if"
- Internet - telecom, networks, computers, software, architecture
- Making - mechanical, prototypes, audio, video, software, websites, fixing, manufacturing
- Questions - conversations, interviews, uncovering, paraphrasing
- Teams - building, rebuilding, budgets, strategies, leadership, execution
- Technology - most everything except life sciences
Engineering is the art of making what you want from things you can get. - Jerry Avins
Who am I?
Have you ever been asked to tell a story or two about yourself? People like to understand who you are and what you've done. Here's four stories that describe some real turning points in my life.
Machinist to ME
“It’s hard to believe Jeff did that.”
“Did what?” I replied.
It was 1975 and I had just started at Iowa State. Reb’s mom and I were were standing by the fence, watching Saydel High School play their first home football game of the season.
“You didn’t know … Jeff committed suicide.”
Reb, Jeff, and I had graduated the year before in ’74. With my parents divorced and me out on my own, it looked like my life after graduation was destined to be working at a machine shop. Jeff – my best friend since Cornell Elementary – convinced me otherwise.
Read more: Machinist to ME
Building the dome home
“Engineering is the art of making what you want from things you can get.” – Jerry Avins
Shortly after I graduated in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State, I told my friend Jim Mackey “Cindy and I are going to build a geodesic dome home.” “Figures,” he said. “Foster, you living in a regular house would be like like an architect living in a mobile home.”
I was reading The Dome Builder’s Handbook by John Prenis at the time and thought “Cool, let’s build one.” Thing is, I’d never built a regular house. Heck, I was a machinist, not a carpenter. Granddad was the carpenter. I kept thinking “Maybe it runs in the family.”
So in September 1980 my wife and I started building our first home: a round house surrounded by cornfields outside Sherrill, Iowa.
Read more: Building the Dome Home
Who I am?
For me it happened when I was unemployed and had to (re)write my resume.
Bob was a good friend of mine and the VP of HR for a big six accounting firm. I thought he could give me some tips on how to make my resume better. He took it, looked at it, then handed it back to me. He said “Who is this?” I said, “Not funny, it’s me! “No it’s not,” he said, “I don’t see you in this piece of paper. Go try it again.”
I was crushed, but I learned a good lesson. Since then I’ve read thousands of resumes and hired hundreds of people. While this version reflects who I am, what I’ve done, and what I can do ... I think you'll learn more about me by reading the backstory.
Read the backstory behind my resume: Who Am I?
180,000 Cisco IP Phones in 10 minutes
Walk into Bank of America and you’ll see Cisco IP telephones. Lots of them. Want to know how they got there?
Let me tell you my best sales story.
The first time I saw voice and video work over a data network was at our Cisco sales lab in Raleigh. My boss Matt Mullady was standing beside me, watching a demo, shaking his head: “This is amazing. This is going to change everything.”
Read more: 180,00 IP phones
If you're looking for me on social media, you’ll almost always find me as theIdeaMechanic.
So what's up with that name?
Well for one thing it's pretty unique – there's not many times that somebody has already claimed it.
The first word - idea - I seem to never run out of ideas. There’s a line in a song I like: "Once conceived, once believed, fantasy's reality's childhood." Without ideas the world would be stuck in yesterday.
The second word - mechanic - that fits me too. There’s not much that I can’t make or fix. So it seemed combining those two words created about the best moniker I could think of.