If you’re expecting a chronologically organized retrospective of my professional background (the done-that list), then meander over to LinkedIn. But know this: past performance is never a guarantee of future results.
For those who care (and it’s OK if you don’t), this is the place where I write a bit about how, what, and why I think, do and create.
I am a product of my experiences as: a husband and father, an entrepreneur, builder, inventor with a sh#tload of patents, a manufacturer of many things, a chef, pet owner and dog rescuer, a guide dog puppy trainer, a journeyman level carpenter, plumber and machinist, a dairy farm hand and milk man, a Nestle chocolate maker and Mc Donald’s manager, a custom gun builder, a walnut rancher, an architectural designer of buildings and engineering designer complex products, systems and processes. I’m an expert outdoorsman, a Navy and Army veteran, a medical lab technician, emergency medical technician, sports competitor, hunting dog trainer, cyclist, Boy Scout Master, mentor, published non-fiction, scientific and business author, a sometimes TV / radio show guest, an EVP of a Fortune 500 division, a US Secretary of Commerce appointee, and the first non-attorney in 100 years to author Federal legislation.
GIBBS ON GENIUS
OK, it’s the page title, so here’s the short story. On any given day, based on standardized IQ test scores, I’m usually the “smartest” one in the room.
But (and that’s a BIG but), my definition of genius leans heavily away from statistical scores and more towards “the application of practical ability, acquired knowledge and tireless work ethic to traverse the shortest path to the most efficient result”. With that definition, I find myself amongst many, many peers.
GIBBS ON WORK ETHIC
I grew up in rural western New York, and developed a stout work ethic early early in life. The proverbial lemonade stand at 8, working under Model T’s with my dad learning auto restoration, paper route, garden and roadside vegetable stand, and neighborhood leaf raking and show shoveling. Then, my first big gig at 12 years old – painting a neighbor’s house – for a whopping $200! Frankly, that was a job I didn’t want to finish, and that was the job that my parents taught me all about commitment and follow-through.
Driving tractors and bailing hay at 14, and a before-school milk man at 16, home delivering milk before the sun came up (and yea – for those who know Lake Ontario lake-effect snow, sometimes through 3 ft of snow at 4am … just sayin’ it like it was). The school day was followed by swim team practice, followed by dinner and homework. On my off time, my brothers and I would buy, fix and sell – turning them for cash – though my preference was racing our sail boat.
My parents informed us early that we would be paying our own way through college; the work ethic paid off as I received appointments to West Point and Annapolis, and was offered full ROTC rides at 5 the top engineering universities.
And for those who’ve founded a startup – you understand the requisite work ethic. I’ve started a half dozen – some failed, some didn’t.
GIBBS ON CREATIVITY
I quickly found that structured teaching is an inadequate learning tool.
The brain cannot distinguish between imagination and reality – and after digesting R. Buckminster Fuller on Education I learned how to learn – faster, broader and deeper – by leveraging imagination (which I briefly discuss in my 20-20 hindsight insight article).
Mozart said that he “just copied the music he heard in his mind.” Picasso said he never searched for creativity, but simply “found” it.
Invention comes to me naturally – devices, systems, processes, concepts, models, physical, corporate and human capital structures, all practical solutions to complex problems. Primed with a problem or an opportunity, complete roadmap solutions “arrive” effortlessly through lucid dreams which I can direct in real time to explore alternate scenarios that would literally take months in the “awake” world. But work ethic is required to create value from them.
The human brain must acquire big data to create new realities, data that’s obtained through actual experience, through books, or obtained virtually through previous dreams. Each of my inventions increase the data used to create the next one – a phenomenon that Einstein called “combinatorial” creativity. I think I’m now listed on 60 inventions, but I’m not keeping a scorecard.
GIBBS ON OBJECTIVITY
Objectivity simplifies life. I have little use for subjectivity in business – it’s inextricably linked to emotion which is ultimately destructive. Drawing a bright line between black and white through what others subjectively see as gray area allows me to acutely assess, decide and enact a solution – while the subjective-minded folks endlessly argue the possibilities with no results. Results trump process.
Objectivity is the foundation for meaningful discourse, a candid platform that leads to effective team-based, fact-based decisions. Human progress relies on objective actions.
And that objectivity is based on frank self awareness of assets, capabilities, limitations and such. It stems from a time when my daily decisions resulted in life and death – as a combat medic and Texas EMT. Most all of the time my decisions saved lives, but sometimes they didn’t – gray did not exist. But those sobering experiences, carried forward to each of my startups, taught me how to acutely analyze situations, identify available assets, and rapidly enact solutions.
All that being said, one of the most important aspects of self-awareness is that I increasingly discover more of what I didn’t know I don’t know.
GIBBS ON FAMILY, RELIGION, VACCINATION AND POLITICS
I despise structured group-think. Group discussion, when it occurs, is best left to the most important life topics such as Islay region single malt Scotch, insane home improvement projects, cycling, and most important, sharing life with my sole mate.
That’s it. Have an awesome day.