What’s The Prepared?
The Prepared was originally my attempt to learn more about the world around me. My goal is to find a rewarding career somewhere in physical engineering or the built/made world. Its name grew out of the adage that “fortune favors the prepared.” It has existed as a free, weekly email newsletter for more than seven years. A few years ago, it also grew to include an interview-style podcast. And about a year ago, a private (members/special invitees only) Slack community grew out of it.
Who is The Prepared community meant for?
Well, it’s meant for people like me. It’s for people who want to do meaningful work in their lives, and who believe that understanding how the physical world works will help them do so. In concrete terms, that means engineers, operators, makers, journalists, and all manner of generally curious, inquisitive people working in and around physical engineering.
How can the community help them?
It’s just a drip of industry news/factoids for some people. For others, it’s a semi-professional network. It’s a less sleazy version of a conference floor, or a less forced version of a meetup. It’s also a great place to ask for advice with a project or a particular technology. There’s a wide range of disciplines represented there and a very friendly attitude towards helping others.
What channels do you use to communicate?
For years my highest signal:noise channel has been email – the newsletter itself. Written text is really amazing! I still blog a bit at my personal website. Also, I try to post to Instagram whenever I’ve got something visually compelling.
What is the coolest thing that happened thanks to your community (connections, initiatives, etc.)?
On a couple of occasions now, multiple community members have been hired by one of The Prepared’s sponsors or business members. I’m in a little bit of a unique scenario there because I personally know all the parties involved. It’s really cool seeing people come together and go off in a new direction.
What is important to you in the community that people don’t realize?
I *really* like talking with experts from disparate fields. I am being surrounded by people who spend all day thinking about a subject that I didn’t even know existed. And somehow, The Prepared’s community has cultivated that.
What’s your vision for The Prepared?
To be what trade journals and conferences and meetups all do a horrible job at. That is, to help hardworking people progress in their careers while also becoming more empathetic, conscientious, and knowledgeable.
What useful things can people find in The Prepared?
A lot of what gets shared in The Prepared is things that community members are thinking about for their own work. A few weeks ago, there was a fascinating explanation of feedscrew designs for plastic injection molding. However, there was a bunch of stuff on the useful life of bleach/water solutions for surface disinfection at the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdowns. A year before that, it was an explanation of Vickrey auctions. It end up being a really cool way to discover how much a product should be sold for. To me, each of these things exists in the adjacent possible in my own career. These are things that might not be directly useful now, but which might simmer for a few months before sparking an important insight.
Tell us about you?
I studied linguistics in college, focusing on English syntax. But I grew up in the construction industry, and spent about a decade in high end construction and fabrication after school. I’ve also done stints in consumer electronics (I have a little side business that makes FM radios, of all things). In addition, I did a bunch of time working on highly advanced 3D design tools for industrial additive manufacturing.