A Huge Tesla Fan Chats with his Pragmatic Wife about the Brand and their Test Drive

http://jeffmyrick.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Tesla-conversation-7_8_15-9.06-PM.m4a   My wife is very wise, but also very cautious.  She tolerates my rabid interest in Tesla but would certainly not consider such a purchase even if we could afford it.  In this audio blog post, she and I talk through how she went from not interested to very interested in Tesla’s challenge to think differently about...

Letter to the Williamson County School Board

Below is a letter I sent to the school board of Williamson County Schools in Franklin, TN. WCS School Board Members, I’ve put this off for too long and I’m wrong for having done so. I’d like to share some thoughts with you from the perspective of a WCS teacher. Hopefully today’s volatility won’t be too much of a distraction to receive my input. I’m not writing to endorse Dr. Looney or to request that you extend his contract; however, I would like to briefly address his tenure. Dr. Looney and I are only acquaintances at most; but I’m thankful to have served on committees or district level teams that he has been an active part of. I’ve also observed his participation and/or oversight of several board meetings and community meetings. In short, I’ve seen Dr. Looney share new ideas, respond to new ideas, share difficult news and information, engage in light banter, respond to awkwardness and hostility, and brainstorm. As a WCS teacher, I’ve been affected by decisions he has made and the culture he has established. I do not agree with every decision Dr. Looney has made nor the way he has delivered every sentence I’ve heard him deliver. If he were aware of every decision of mine and of every sentence I’ve delivered, he would likely feel the same about me. However, overwhelmingly, Dr. Looney has provided world-class leadership. He is a visionary. That can be very frustrating to those of us who are more pragmatic; but most great senior executives are vision casters. It’s worth noting as well that he has a solid understanding of top-notch instructional leadership. He understands the craft of teaching and is aware of best practices. The ability to both provide organizational leadership and display a solid understanding of an organization’s craft is a coveted skill set. He is amazingly comfortable with a wide spectrum of stakeholders and most importantly, I have only ever seen him operate with integrity and a willingness to recognize shortcomings. In short, it is highly unlikely that WCS could replace him with a comparable leader. However, I’m not at all concerned about the possibility of him leaving, especially to MNPS. I have for years expressed a belief that WCS should have at the center of its mission to engage in the kinds of innovative practices we have the luxury of tackling given our unparalleled student quality and parent engagement in order to assist, reinforce, and support districts in much less favorable circumstances. None of us have operated under the illusion that Dr. Looney would stick with WCS for the remainder of his career. What better place for him to put to work the world-class skill set we’ve helped him develop than in a city the entire world is watching right now? Rather, my concern with the possibility of Dr. Looney leaving is about timing, and that leads me to my second point. Over the past year, the goings on of the WCS School Board have been embarrassing to put it mildly. However, I want to say very clearly that there has been no tragic occurrence or loss for which the Board is to blame, thankfully. The catastrophic and unquantifiable downfall has been in the form of opportunity cost. Amid the debacle of the past year, the district has missed out on an unknown number of opportunities. WCS is not a district in crisis, in need of a major overhaul, or in need of outside intervention because of a failure to meet the needs of students. Districts around the state and around the entire nation look to Williamson County Schools for leadership on a variety of topics. A Williamson County School Board has the opportunity therefore to be forward-thinking and innovative. It has the opportunity to identify new avenues for success in a sector very much in need of real-world leadership: public education. Consider the enormously prosperous area in which we operate. Consider the innovative work taking place in entertainment, healthcare, technology, and finance. Now consider the wealth of human capital in our talented staff. While diversity is not necessarily at the top of the things for which we’re known, consider the handful of schools in our district with less than glowing data. Those are not threats; they’re opportunities to utilize our resources in settings that are a little bit more akin to the rest of the nation. And let’s not miss the fact that even some of our lower performing schools are more successful than similar schools in other districts. One more year of missed opportunities would be too great, even with Dr. Looney at the helm to counteract the Board’s...

What Business Does a Teacher Have Test Driving an $80K Tesla? …Plenty.

What Business Does a Teacher Have Test Driving an $80K Tesla?  …Plenty.

This is about Education. It’s also about innovation, creativity, thinking differently, technology, opportunity, sustainability, and the future. These are all things teachers are passionate about! It’s also about an amazing car, and I’m pretty passionate about those as well. Why am I such a fan of Tesla even though they’ve never so much as favorited a tweet of mine? Because, like Apple did with computing and mobile tech, they are going to transform the way my children perceive transportation and energy. They aren’t the only ones mind you; but their role will be significant. Right now the brand is primarily associated with cars, but the really exciting part is that they (specifically Elon Musk) are focused on infrastructure and renewable energy outside of transportation as well (TheVerge article re: utilities). Here’s a link to a recent post of mine about Tesla that addresses some big-picture things. My job here is to let you know that innovative technology has arrived and to describe it first hand. Over time, the price point will come down, so I want to spread the word sooner than later. And maybe they’ll learn a thing or two about customer experience from Discount Tire or Warby Parker along the way. And just so we’re 100% clear, this is all me. I admit my interest in Tesla is stalker-like, but I’m receiving no compensation, I promise. The Car The Tesla Model S is kind of like the Batmobile for the whole Wayne family. It’s big and crazy fast. But it uses no gas. It performs like a Porsche, but has 31.6 cu.ft. of cargo space (trunks in the front and back) because guess what’s not in the front? An engine. Look at comparable cargo numbers below: Lincoln MKS: 19.2 cu.ft. Chevy Impala: 18.8 cu.ft. Mercedes S550: 16.3 cu.ft. There are two options for the Model S based on battery type: 65kWh and 85kWh. There’s a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive option as well, but that’s a separate ball game. I drove the 85kWh. It has a realistic range of about 250 miles. The tour started with the massive touch-screen that controls literally everything. (Click the images for better detail.) In the above picture you can see that we’ve chosen to display navigation across the entire screen. The red dots are Superchargers. From where we are in Brentwood, I pretended like I needed to travel to Atlanta. I selected a Supercharger in Atlanta and with the help of Google Maps, it told me that I would be about 12 miles shy of my destination without recharging.  It recommended that I stop in Chattanooga at a Supercharger for about 20-40 minutes, just long enough to grab some coffee or lunch and use the bathroom.  If you don’t know what I mean by “Supercharger,” read my other post. When the Energy app is selected (above), it offers some customizable range data based on driving habits. It also lets you know when you actually gain energy. More about that in a second. This image also shows how you can customize the screen to split as needed. The settings screen above causes you to realize that you’re actually using a device similar to your smartphone that also happens to be a car. There are several fascinating features here but I’ll address just two: Creep You know how your car will “creep” forward when you take your foot off the brake? An electric doesn’t do that. So “creep” makes that happen. Why? Because you’re used to it. Regenerative Braking When you take your foot off the accelerator, the car is able to actually create energy through regenerative braking. In “standard” mode, you’ll actually feel that the car is braking as soon as you let off. In “low” mode, it will feel more like your current car coasting as you let off the gas. Why? Because you’re used to it. There are some incredibly cool features related to traction and suspension, but I’ll just quickly address one that blows my mind. Assume you have a really steep driveway. One that typically causes your car to bottom out. You can set the suspension to lift the car when you arrive at your driveway. But how is it going to know when you arrive at your driveway? Are you ready? GPS! Imagine that same technology at work in the P85D with a top speed of 155mph. You can research that on your own. The Web app is exactly that. But video is not an option for safety reasons. The camera feature is available not only in reverse but any other time as well. When parked, the bottom half of the image below shows anything...

Customer Service Highlight – Discount Tire

Customer Service Highlight – Discount Tire

Customer service is a huge deal to me. When I experience great service, I shout it from the mountaintops; although, for what I’m referring to, the term “customer service” doesn’t suffice. I’m talking about the way a patron should be treated by a merchant. I’m talking about the reason I buy glasses from Warby Parker, tires from Discount Tire and computers from Apple (every ten years or so if I can afford it). There are several things that factor into buying decisions, but the way I am treated sits right at the top. Discount Tire is a vivid example for two reasons. First, the way they treat customers is extraordinarily consistent across employees. Second, while they claim to have “discount tires,” I wouldn’t know because I’ve never had an interest in comparing price after my first experience with them. At Discount Tire, unless every employee is working with another customer, someone will come out and greet you by the time you exit your vehicle. Every time. They will introduce themselves and ask something like “how can we help you today?” Every time. After I explained what brought me in, the guy who helped me today engaged me in some light-hearted conversation about my car, with a smile, while he checked the tires. This has happened every time. On the way inside, they will hold the door open for you. Every time. The wrap-up is similarly consistent, but not at all robotic. “Mr. Myrick, you’re ready to go! Make sure to come see us again in 3 months or 3,000 miles for a rotation (included with the tires). Do you have any questions for us?” As I got my stuff together, he waited patiently with some friendly small talk so he could shake my hand and escort me to the door. He opened it for me as he thanked me for my business. My car was waiting a few feet away. This all happens every time. I’m wired to be loyal. If I am treated well, I will stick around. I’ll also go out of my way to honor loyalty and likely even pay more, within reason. I doubt that I am the only person who feels this way so why have so few companies placed the priority on service that Discount Tire has? In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about “getting the right people on the bus.” I agree with him completely; however, there’s something really interesting about Discount Tire. Their employees are typically 18 to 25-year-old males who are not the type to own a suit and maybe not even a pair of khakis. In most industries, these guys would not be banners for stellar customer service. But they are at Discount Tire. That tells me that while Discount Tire may prioritize getting the right people, they definitely have a killer training program. I would go as far as to say that we could use some of their magic in education, both for our own students and in teacher preparation programs as well. I’ll close with a comment about vision. I love talking about vision because these kinds of highlights in an organization often stem from a clear vision. Check out this excerpt from Discount Tire’s Vision and Values (no mention of tires): One common thread running through the hearts of everyone within the organization remains the same – treat customers and fellow employees with respect and fairness. Care for those in need, always do what is right, work hard, be responsible and have fun. This kind of service is not limited to their loyal customers by the way. The next time you have a problem with a tire they didn’t sell you, drop by a Discount Tire and see what...

Wealthy Nashvillians, It’s Time to Buy a Tesla

Wealthy Nashvillians, It’s Time to Buy a Tesla

I see high-end models of the following brands every week in the Nashville area: Maserati, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Porsche. All of them have an MSRP of around $100,000. There are plenty of exotic cars as well, but I want to focus on the $100,000 price range.  I want to challenge those willing to shop in that price range to consider another equally impressive option while taking part in a revolution. First, a disclaimer. I am a huge fan of Tesla Motors. I am also a stockholder (a whopping 14 shares). Their story, though somewhat scandalous, is extremely exciting to me because I am a fan of innovation as well. In the Model S, Tesla has created a beautiful and unprecedented machine.  In the P85D version of the Model S, for $104,500, revolution meets thrill ride. The Electric Revolution This is the primary reason I’m writing. For far too long, the auto industry has delayed this next chapter in automotive history, but Tesla has taken away the typical excuses. Range One of the most common reasons drivers are reluctant to adopt EV (Electric Vehicle) is range. The Nissan Leaf can take you 84 miles on a single charge. The Chevrolet Volt has an EV range of 38 miles. The Tesla Model S (P85D) has a range of 285 miles at 65 mph. Aesthetic Pleasure The Chevy Volt is a pretty cool looking car. But let’s be honest, the Leaf is not. Now look at the Tesla Model S.                         Performance The P85D is a groundbreaking dual motor all wheel drive with over 600 hp and a top speed of 155mph. Let that soak in for a second. Infrastructure This is the most exciting part to me. I’m not saying Elon Musk can do no wrong, but he is a very intelligent man who I believe is literally transforming the way we view personal transportation around the globe. The Supercharger station is Tesla’s answer to the gas station. teslamotors.com       “So what are they gonna do, build a bunch of ‘Supercharger’ stations all over North America, Europe and Asia just so people can use their cars?” Yes, that’s exactly what they’re doing. Check out the map below of current stations in North America. http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger           Now look at the number of planned stations for 2015.           The current map of Europe is impressive enough, but look at 2016.           Asia, 2015.           Coast-to-coast travel in the U.S. is currently an option and will include 98% of the U.S. population by 2015. At a Supercharger station, a Tesla Model S (85 kWh) owner can get a half charge in 20 minutes for free. It takes 40 minutes to get to 80%, which is typically sufficient to get to the next Supercharger. “Superchargers are located near amenities like roadside diners, cafes, and shopping centers. Road trippers can stop for a quick meal and have their Model S charged when they’re done.” The Persuasive Power of Presence We all know that one of the most powerful tools for introducing a product into the marketplace is seeing the product in use. I believe that getting more Teslas on the road will have a domino effect on innovation and conservation. As scale increases, I suspect Tesla and other companies will introduce more affordable products into the broader marketplace. Nashville has become known as a hub of innovation in recent years. We also are unique in that we have an extraordinary number of millionaires in our relatively small middle Tennessee metropolis. I am simply asking that some of you take a risk that would be akin to me buying a new laptop. And by all means, if you don’t like the car, let Tesla hear about it. Let me hear about it. And don’t buy another one. But after all, it was Motor Trend’s 2013 Car of the Year. And hey, if you have the kind of disposable income with which you are willing to put one on the road, but for whatever reason you don’t want to drive it, please let me know and I’ll gladly help you out with that. It starts at $69,900. I used the P85D to make my case, but you can get into a Model S (60 kWh) for $70,000. You can pre-pay for all service needs up to 100,000 miles for $3,800. History is being made. I really do believe early adopters will be taking part in historic change with respect to automotive technology. Most of...

The Adams Street Bridge

The Adams Street Bridge

The world is broken. Have you heard that before?  Does that statement resonate with you? In the film The Matrix, the character Neo begins to believe that something is not right with the world.  Morpheus offers answers to Neo but requires that they meet.  The meeting place?  The Adams Street Bridge. I often find myself wanting to explore ideas or possibilities that are rooted in solving a problem or looking at the world differently.  While many of these relate to who we are as spiritual beings, many of them simply relate to issues we confront daily:  marriage, children, work, money, friendships, and community.  I have decided to start writing about those ideas…here. I landed on The Adams Street Bridge as a blog title because, just as Neo faced a dilemma that night, so do we once we believe something to be true.  In my posts, I will often ask if there is room for thinking differently about the topic at hand.  In other words, could our paradigm shift somewhat?  From there, we will face a dilemma similar to Neo’s:  action is required.  When we believe something, we act on it.  If you fail to act on something you believe to be true, you’ll be miserable. You are reading this because I had an Adams Street Bridge experience of my own.  I began to believe that I had something unique and valid to say.  That belief required that I take some action. What can I expect from The Adams Street Bridge? Overall, I plan to bring attention to examples of thinking differently.  Eventually, I hope readers will be compelled to share their own paradigm shifting ideas.  Posts will likely fall into three broad categories:  personal life, professional life, and the arts. Personal Life Because I hope to write about things that are common to the entire human experience, I will address spiritual things.  I know this is one of those topics that either brings people together or tears them apart.  Therefore, I will attempt to write about such things with as little cultural bias as possible.  My views on spiritual life are at the core of who I am, so avoiding this topic would be foolish and disingenuous.  I suspect that readers will let me know if I write something that is out of place.  Thank you for being gracious as I fumble through.  As a husband and father, I will also explore the challenges, pitfalls and treasures of marriage and fatherhood under Personal Life. Professional Life The work we do is often what first identifies us to our community.  That is not necessarily a good thing, but it is true.  Our work also brings about interactions with people who are often very different from ourselves.  That is what makes professional life interesting…sometimes more so than the work itself.  Unfortunately, much of what takes place at work is anything but professional.  I want to confront some of the behaviors that drive peers, superiors and subordinates crazy.  And because I am passionate about my work, I will also explore issues of content.  My content area is education and I feel very strongly about the importance of its role in society.  However, I am the first to recognize that it is incredibly complicated and even messy. The Arts The arts are somewhat related to professional life for me, but I believe they are also the most significant tool available within the human experience for looking at the world differently and inspiring others to do so.  I will explore both what that looks like for me and how I believe the arts are central to the life experience of every human. The world is broken. It is a wonderful world.  But it is also tragic.  I want simply to shed light on some hopeful ways of thinking differently about difficult issues.  I also want to celebrate those who have already inspired others to think differently about specific things.  Finally, I am thankful to have you along on this journey. Welcome to The Adams Street...

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