About

I Help Innovators Explain & Sell Technology

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.

Favorite Quote

Engineering is the art of making what you want from things you can get. - Jerry Avins

Who Am I?

Buddy with an idea

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.

Five Principles

Look for Why

If you’re a parent, your child has probably asked you “Why?” more times than you can count. In fact there is a stage - I think around 3 years old or so - when “why” seems to come in machine gun bursts. Then for some reason, as we age we become complacent with answers to “what” and “how”, leaving “why” as either an assumption or a distraction.

The dictionary defines “why” as “for what cause, reason, or purpose.” To me, unless we look for “why” besides “how” and “what” - we can't find the fix to a problem, just a solution. The pain is still there.

Fix Problems

Perhaps it's the curse of being an engineer, or maybe it's why I became an engineer - but when I see a problem I feel compelled to try and solve it. In my Mechanical Engineering classes at ISU, we worked problems (solving them) until the cows came home (that's a midwest expression). Those four years were hard, but they felt strangely comfortable.

While it's one thing to solve a problem, the real goal (in my opinion) is to fix it. It's not possible to fix every problem, and we'll never live in a world without problems. However, enduring problems can make us stronger, solving problems can make us smarter, and fixing problems ... well, maybe that can make our life (or the lives of others) just a little bit better.

Innovate

Several years ago, Apple Computer came up with a marketing campaign titled "Think Different." It celebrated people who continuously broke the box most of us feel comfortable living in, challenging us to think outside the box. When we see things differently, we open up new, impossible possibilities.

I've admired innovation since I was a small kid. I watched every space rocket launch, ready incessantly about new technology, and even (in later years) came to admire my mother's creativity. What clicked with me was innovation. Maybe that's why I like my favorite quote. Stop saying "We can't." and start asking "How could ...?"

Educate

My dad told me that when we're gone we may leave physical items behind, but what really matters are the lives of the people we touched (and the people they touch, and ...). I have to admit, when I taught web design classes at Wake Tech Community College and had a student who was there just to pass & get the credit - well, I was far from enthused to teach. But those students who really wanted to learn, who listened, asked, even challenged (respectfully) - they made it worthwhile.

Imagine a world where every time we learned, we kept it to ourselves. There would be no "Standing on the shoulders of giants." as my friend Rodney likes to say.  We owe it to humanity to pass on what we've learned. Small or big. Discovery or invention. There are always those who don't care about learning from our successes or lessons learned;  but there are those who do. And they make all the difference.

Make The World A Little Better

What the heck does that mean? I like to think of what we learned in Boy Scouts. When we went out on camping trips, our last job before heading home was to police the campsite. Anything that God hadn't left - even if we didn't leave it - pick it up. The phrase "Leave it cleaner than you found it." was drilled into our head.

I think that phrase applies not just to picking up litter we didn't leave (although thank you to the people who do), but to all life things. I try my best to live by the Scout Law and think that maybe my contributions (interactions with people, problems fixed, and things I've made) will leave the world just a little bit better than I found it (or it found me).

Bio

As CEO of Convinsys, Doug Foster helps innovators explain and sell technology.

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.

What Have I Done?

What Can I Do?

I'm good at:

  • Analyzing - How does this work? Why?
  • Audio - Capture more than words.
  • Convincing - Move a person from their Point A to your Point B.
  • Engineering - Find & fix problems (see my favorite quote).
  • Explaining - Writing, digital media, simplifying, presenting, demos.
  • Innovating - Creativity, ideas, concepts, trends, opportunities, "what if."
  • Internet - Telecom, networks, computers, software, architecture.
  • Learning - Comprehend the unknown & put it to work.
  • Making - Create what you need from what you have.
  • Questions - Conversations, interviews, uncovering, paraphrasing.
  • Software - Solve problems with code.
  • Teaching - Help others use what you've learned.
  • Teams - Building, rebuilding, budgets, strategies, leadership, execution.
  • Technology - Innovative ways of putting knowledge & skills to work.
  • Video - Storyboarding, capturing, editing, assembling.
  • Websites - Leveraging WordPress/JS/PHP/MySQL to tell a story (or two).

Hobbies

Social Media

the Idea Mechanic logo

If you're looking for me on social media, you can usually find me as theIdeaMechanic.

So what's up with the name? Well, the first word - idea - seems to fit me. I never (rarely) run out of ideas. And the second word - mechanic - that fits me too. There’s (usually) not much I can’t make or fix.

Convinsys

Convincing Systems, LLC (DBA Convinsys) has been my business since 2006. I help innovators explain & sell technology by offering courses and consulting.

convinsys-logo - sm