#WeAreArity Wednesday: Eric Linder
Pick your favorite decade. Tell us why.
I have a couple of favorite years. I really enjoyed 2009, but the decade that year fell in wasn’t a great decade. My oldest son was born in the early 2000s, and he had a lot of trouble at birth. He was a million-dollar boy.
In 2009, I was in really great shape. I was training for an Iron Man in 2010 which I did in September. So, 2009 was one of my best training years in my adult life.
I ran Division 1 cross country and track in college and ran marathons and triathlons. I trained with guys like Chris Bunyan who was sixth in the Boston Marathon in 1982 and a guy named Don DeNoon who was Olympian Mary Decker Slaney’s coach and was an Olympic gold medal race walker. I trained with some really good guys early in my career as an athlete.
2010 was not as great. I actually got N1H1in March which was a really bad flu. I went ahead and did the Iron Man. I didn’t do a great job at it, but I finished it.
That flu caused a chain of events that lasted until 2017. I got sepsis, a blood infection, from it. And then I took some antibiotics, and a doctor overprescribed and damaged my tendons and cartilage and gave me neuropathy. It didn’t really kick in until 2011, and then I was barely walking.
In April 2011, I went to a clinic, and they couldn’t figure it out. It led to some things that weren’t really good – those problems with the tendons actually contributed to a leg break that I had in 2020.
That was 2010 to 2020 – not a good ten years, but I’m recovered. I have a good feeling. It’s starting to get better!
Are you more productive in the morning or at night?
My best workouts are in the morning between 5 and 7 a.m. I haven’t been working out as hard as I did in 2009, but I still work out pretty well.
My best thinking comes at about 10 a.m. and then it trails off until about 3 p.m. Then around 8 p.m., I start being productive again.
I see myself as a scientist, so I’m working on other things besides what I do at work. I have double digit patents to my name. I have a lot of inventions! I’m working to come up with things that make people’s lives better.
I’m also a professor at Dominican University. I teach on Wednesdays this semester, and I’m teaching the capstone project.
I try to keep myself busy.
Do you have a favorite invention?
One of my favorite inventions is not really realized by anybody. I used particle form technology to come up with a way to leave an event. Like when a football game is over, everybody tries to leave the event at the same time. So, what’s the most efficient way to leave?
I looked at ants and how ants find food. The ants go out and scatter, and one ant finds a food source. On the way back from the food source to the nest, it lays down a pheromone trail. As the other ants move around, they come up on that trail and go to the source. Then when they leave the food source, they also lay down a pheromone trail. So, it gets stronger and stronger, and it causes more and more ants to go to that location. As the food source depletes, the ants come back less often and the trail fades.
When you leave an event, a car has a GPS trail much like a pheromone trail. As more cars leave an event through the same exit, more GPS trails go through that exit. It’s very similar to what ants do to that food source. So, it can efficiently find a way for people to exit that event very quickly.
There are other things that can be used for – like fleets, taxi cabs leaving a location, or figuring out where to pickup fares.
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
I’m a Scoutmaster, and I’ve taken Scouts to the National Jamboree which is held at The Summit in West Virginia. So, I’ve spent some time in the state from doing that, and it seems like a place I would want to live. I want to keep investigating to see if that’s the place I want to retire.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received at work?
So, it was at my former company. The vertical leader was the former Colonel of Command Control for the U.S. Military. He was a really tough boss – there was a layer of management in between me and him, but we interacted a lot.
The guy between us had a lot of really quick sayings. And this saying is really about doing things on your own timeframe. He had this story about a sultan.
There was a man going to be put to death, and the man coming before the sultan said, “Give me a year, and I will teach your horse to sing.” The sultan said, “That’s impossible, you can’t teach my horse to sing!” And the man goes, “What have you got to lose? Give me a year, and I’ll teach your horse to sing.”
So, the sultan says OK and sends him back with the other prisoners. One of the other prisoners says to the man, “Why would you say that? There’s no way you can teach a horse to sing.” And he responds, “Look, a lot can happen in a year. We could be set free. He was going to put me to death right away, and if I had said nothing, I would not have had an extra year on my life.”
It’s about doing things on your own timeframe. So, when you’re at work and you’re passed over for a promotion or you don’t get the raise that you want or anything like that, if you just wait and teach your horse to sing, there’s going to be another opportunity to do something else and move in a different direction.
It’s said in other ways too, but this is my favorite saying.
What do you do with the extra time working from home (WFH) that you wouldn’t get to do working in person?
I work! I’m a Scoutmaster for my own troop, a dad for three kids that are in Scouting, and a National Jamboree Scoutmaster. There’s that part – that’s another job because there’s responsibilities, deadlines, and budgets.
I also teach. Like I said, I’m teaching at Dominican University. I want those students to leave my class and know what the real world’s like – I’m teaching them agile and a lot of the things we do at work.
What was the first way you made money?
My dad was a forward-thinker, and he bought me a TRS-80 computer when I was in high school. I was taking computer classes on the very first Apple II – I’m dating myself, but I worked on the Apple IIs.
There was a guy that came over from a company across the street from the high school and asked if there was anybody that could program on the TRS-80, so I said I could do it. He hired me, and I worked for this prescription learning corporation – they made educational software, and my claim to fame for them was that they had hundreds and hundreds of people retyping data in different formats for different programs, for different pieces of hardware.
I figured out a way to take the data from the Apple and put it on the TRS-80 and others through a cable. The year this happened, there was nothing like that. But I figured it out.
They were paying 50 dollars per data file transfer because you had to type them at that time.
My dad and I went to the company, and we said, “Look, how many files do you have left?” And they had a few thousand. My dad and I said we would like to take them home and do the rest of them. And they said, “That’s impossible. How could you do that?” We said, “Humor us, let us take them home. If we’re not done soon, we’ll bring them back.”
So, we took them home on a Friday and on Monday, we turned them all in. I used my program to transmit the files, I made 50 dollars per file, and I bought a car with cash.
That was my first job.
What is a good way to give back to the community?
Scouting in recent years has got a bad reputation, but the heart of Scouting hasn’t changed. Teaching young people how to lead others and how to be self-starters.
Me and my family have this joke about this generation being the “start my orange” generation. That’s not a phrase that I coined – that was my boss, Jeff Norton. Basically, you have an orange, and you give it to someone else, “Hey, start my orange.” Then you get it back and you finish taking the peel off.
Scouting teaches people to be people that will go out and do something themselves or go out and be self-starters, be self-sufficient in doing a task, and also be able to lead others into synergistic endeavors.
What is your favorite way to practice self-care?
I do karate. There’s kata in karate which is a repetitive set of moves that you do in a certain order. There’s a posture, and there’s an intensity, and analogous movements in self-defense.
Sort of like what Tai Chi is – you see people doing these rhythmic movements. Karate has those kinds of rhythmic movements but they’re deliberate and forceful. It helps you keep in shape, and it also molds your mind to be able to settle itself.
Workouts do the same thing, but karate really is more efficient at doing it. You can get to that settled state a lot more quickly.
How often do you do karate?
Before broke my leg, I did it every day in the morning after my workout – rain or shine, snow or sun. Then in 2020, when I broke my leg, I lost ankle flexion in my right ankle. So, I can’t do the whole kata.
I was pretty good. In 2019, I went to nationals and did pretty well. I finished just out of the medals.
With the loss of ankle flexion, it’s been difficult. So, I have to do a modified kata. It kind of messes up the focusing and the calmness of centering yourself. It’s still effective, but not as effective as when I had full range of motion.
Long story short, I don’t do it every day. Three times a week because I tend to degrade over time if I do it too much.