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Jim's Career Path


Jim’s career began focused on technology and had evolved to address: (1) how humans can effectively use technology, and (2) creating flair in products and services that excites customers and in one’s daily work that energizes colleagues. During his undergraduate work at Stanford University in electrical engineering, Jim became interested in systems engineering – how parts work together. In studying for his Ph.D. in applied mathematics at Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, he studied optimization of systems – getting the best possible performance from systems. His Ph.D. thesis was about pattern recognition – for example computers recognizing written characters or speech – where he learned the fundamentals of applied probability and statistics. The systems courses prepared Jim to account for  interactions among all aspects in a problem. His pattern recognition thesis experience gave him a firm understanding of uncertainties and randomness that are part almost any problem. His work with optimization reminds Jim to keep his eye on the obtaining the best end-value in any project.   


Jim has expanded his system view of problems to include integrating all the success factors involving technology, employees, customers, suppliers, organizational structure and culture, processes, and external influences. He has developed ways to deal with emotional aspects of customers and colleagues so they will better understand and be more likely to make purchases or adopt recommendations. Most recently, Jim has written the book, FLAIR, with his daughter Jennifer Poage who works in fashion design.

Jim with some of the Little Thinkers from The Unemployed Philosophers Guild that he uses to emphasize points in his workshops. Clockwise from lower left the Little Thinkers and what they represent are: Socrates  – to continually ask probing questions when conducting work; Sherlock Holmes – to keep looking for facts and following threads to their conclusions; William Shakespeare – to write vividly; Leonardo Da Vinci to create amazing visuals for your ideas; and Charlie Chaplin – to add humor and entertainment to your presentations; and Carmen – to make your work sing and energize like opera.

Journey to Flair


The journey to flair began around 15 years ago when Jim was exposed to storytelling in business as a way to give examples of ideas and strategies to gain understanding and acceptance. As he thought about narratives, he realized that results and recommendations of his analysis could be expressed as stories about how the recommendations will provide value to clients and how the recommendations could be implemented – instead of just listing the results in a report or briefing.


Jim also learned graphic design so he could boil down an idea to a visual and a few words – get to the essence of the idea. If you think about presenting results of your work, you are doing what designers set out to do: understand how your work will provide value to your audience, how your audience can perceive this value, and how they can believe they will obtain it. Jim helps his clients evoke emotional connections through storytelling and creating an experience – thereby energizing their customers and colleagues to act on their products, services, and recommendations.

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