Here is a blog post, I don’t have to write. The journalist that did the interview, Yitzi Weiner, left the Huffington Post they took down all his work which I find kind of strange. This included the interview with me. So I am posting it here on my blog.
5 THINGS I WISH SOMEONE TOLD ME WHEN I FIRST STARTED
I had the pleasure of interviewing Avram Miller, self-proclaimed corporate trouble maker. Avram was formerly Corp. Vice President of Business Development at Intel and the Co-Founder of Intel Capital. He was the driving force behind creating residential high speed internet in the early ‘90s.
- Yitzi: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”? (If you share an inspirational or aspirational backstory, we will be able to publish this interview in Thrive Global as well as Huffpost)
I was a poor student but some would say (like me) a gifted mind. I tested out of high school but never made it to university. Instead I became a merchant seaman and sailed back and forth from San Francisco to where I lived in Asia. Skipping my time as a civil rights protester, a jazz musician and a tutor to economically disadvantaged high school students in East Palo Alto, I ended up in medical science. I developed the first equipment to take bio feedback for brainwaves, working with Joe Kamiya at UC Medical in San Francisco. I went on to develop systems for intensive and cardio vascular diagnostics at the Medical School at Erasmus University, where I ran the computer department at the Thoraxcenter. Later I ended up as an Adjunct Professor at the School of Medicine in Tel Aviv, I was 28 years old. Still no degree. Fast forward and I am Corporate Vice President of Business Development at Intel where I co-founded Intel Capital and laid the foundation for residential high speed broadband. I think my lack of a formal education was an important factor in giving me the motivation to take risks and be innovative. My full bio can be read at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avram_Miller.
- Yitzi:Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on?
For the last five years, I have focused on the topic of improving sleep quality. Most discussions about sleep have to do with sleep quantity, but I believe the quality of our sleep can be significantly improved as well. Opening the door to better sleep quality provides major health benefits overall and especially with improvements in cognitive function. In particular, I have been working with a company called Sommetrics (www.sommetrics.com) that has an innovative treatment for disorders of the upper airway, such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Snoring. This brings me full circuit back to my early days designing medical devices.
- Yitzi: Which person or which company do you most admire and why?
My answer to this question would change over time. At the moment, I admire Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. He has the ability to never get stuck. Jeff went from selling books online, to being the largest online retailer, to creating the leading internet cloud service and now moving into groceries. The greatest disjointedness in my career was my inability to get Intel to think beyond microprocessors and move into networking.
- Yitzi: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have always been involved with non-profits in various ways. For instance, I was the founding Chair of Plugged In, a technology center for disadvantage youth in East Palo Alto. Currently, I am mentoring and providing financial support to high school and college kids from various parts of the world. I believe the greatest leverage comes from helping young people not only reach their own potential but to learn to help others to do this as well. But my greatest contribution has been my children. All three are active in non-profit work. In fact, my two sons have always worked in the non-profit domain.
- Yitzi: What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Learn to be both strategic and tactical. A great strategy with poor execution looks like a bad strategy.
When I was at Digital Equipment Corp. as Group Manager, Professional Computers, I did not spend enough time with the details. I was focused on what was great and did not ask myself enough “what could go wrong.” I later learned that trait from Andy Grove.
- Realize that you will make mistakes in hiring and take action to correct those mistakes quickly.
We all make hiring mistakes. I would feel responsible and spend a lot of time trying to turn a mistake into a victory but it never happened. It would have been better for all if I had just let the person go.
- Be more patient and adjust your communication style.
Always think that you are responsible for poor communications. If someone did not understand my point, I might think they were stupid and stop communicating with them rather than trying a different approach. I had this problem a lot when I first joined Intel, yet a lot of the problem was cultural. Intel was not going to change its culture for me, so I needed to adapt. One of the things I learned was to be more muted in my presentations. I was over enthusiastic for that company’s culture.
- Get more sleep
I used to think that sleep was a waste of time. I was proud that I only slept four and a half hours. Now I know how bad that was and have made strides to correct it.
- Yitzi: I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, or I might be able to introduce you.
I would like to meet Elon Musk.