The Observant Project Leader

Engineering mindful self observation and mindful other observation

As engineers, it is not the technical problems that drive us crazy. It’s the miscommunicated requirements, the broken commitments, the capricious change requests that make us insane. If everyone just saw things the way we do, wouldn’t everything be so much easier? But they don’t. We’re all different, so we have to compensate for what looks like, from our perspective, other people’s’ “idiocy.”

Poor communication is the cause of most team problems. And that is what we should expect. You were hired for your engineering and technical prowess, not public relations or customer service skills. But if we are going to get through this together and make the project a success, we are going to need to become better observers and better communicators. Surprisingly, that doesn’t start with communication though. It starts with detailed mindful observation so that we can tell when things go off the rails. You can’t fix a problem you don’t see!

In 27 years of running team based projects and coaching project managers, I have come to the conclusion that getting good at this stuff is up to each of us, individually. Observing our own internal and external changes in behavior makes it easier to notice those changes in our team partners. Being able to read their unconscious micro expressions is the most valuable tool in establishing effective communication. It makes it possible to recognize when the words a stakeholder is saying do not reflect what they are actually thinking.

For example, being able to predict that a person is becoming angry, annoyed, tense, tired, motivated, excited, or any other intense emotion, gives you a chance to decide how you want to respond to these stressful situations. You might ask more clarifying questions, take a break to reset emotions, or steer the discussion toward a more detailed description of requirements or commitments, for example.

Observing your own behavior and managing it is different from observing someone else’s. If a manager has just “jerked your chain” for the umteenth time by changing work-product specs while demanding that the deadline must stay the same, it is valuable to observe yourself becoming frantic, so that you can calm yourself before your emotions affect the way you communicate to that manager, or to your subordinates who count on your support.

Careful observation of another person increases your ability to respond respectfully to their mood, when you can read the clues to their emotions. The best professionals depend on this skill to time critical communications so that they are more likely to elicit the responses they need from their bosses, peers, team members, and customers.

We all try to predict how others will respond. But our theory of their minds is only as good as our ability to understand our own mind and notice how other minds differ from us. That is why we must start by studying our self. The Buddhists call this “mindful self-observation” and it is easy to describe but can be difficult to do. We all have a tendency to get so caught up in what we are thinking that we forget to notice that there is an “us” who is doing that thinking and feeling. This is where mindfulness training can help.

Begin by trying to notice what goes on with you at all times. Start with low risk situations and exercise your awareness for short periods like say 4 or 5 minutes at a time. Watch how your own mind works. Not only your responses to yourself, but your responses to others. I like to do this at meetings when I am not the person leading the discussion.

Notice when something triggers an emotion inside you. Notice how you evaluate it as positive or negative, how it is being triggered, what behavior does it manifest in you, and ask yourself, “Is this the behavior that I want to represent?”

If not, determine what you want instead, and take steps to change toward a more appropriate response. Avoid “judging” yourself. Notice what makes you happy or sad, and notice what happens in life that prevents you from being present in the situation before you— what throws you back into memories or forward into future hypothetical possibilities?

The main function of this personal observation is to improve communication between you and your team and to better understand your own attitudes, feelings, and habits of thought.

Researchers have shown that much of communication is nonverbal. To understand another person’s nonverbal behaviors it is paramount that you really understand your own. Then you can pay attention to another person’s body language, understand better how they are reacting, and respond with choice to their total communication. Instead of just the words that they use. Mindful self observation is the beginning of this self understanding.

Once you can watch your own behavior, you can practice keeping up with the content of a conversation at the same time.

Then it is time start to study the other person’s facial gestures, body language, hand gestures, posture, movements, etc. These are almost always outside of the person’s conscious awareness. So if you can keep track of your own inner responses while tracking the person you are communicating with’s non-verbals, you will be lightyears ahead of them in project discussions and stakeholder negotiations. It can begin to look almost like you can read minds. What you are really doing is picking up on their nonverbal micro communications.

For example, there are many ways to say “yes”. Depending on the pitch, tone, rate of speech, and the volume of the way it is said, the word “yes” can mean “yes,” “YES!”, “no”, “maybe”, “I don’t know,” “probably,” etc. Perhaps they shake their head slightly “no” while saying “yes.” People regularly change their outside expressions before they are consciously aware on the inside. This allows you to respond to their experience even before they are fully aware of it themselves.

Learn to watch for the following personal observation clues:

  • skin color changes,
  • muscle tone changes,
  • changes in breathing,
  • lip size changes,
  • changes in posture,
  • changes in voice tone,
  • volume changes,
  • rate of speech, and
  • incongruity between any of these.

When you learn to pay close attention to not only what a person is saying but also to how they are saying it, as well as their outer behaviors that are accompanying their words, you become a powerful force for communication clarity. Like all worthwhile skills, it takes some practice. But as a super-observer you improve your chances of guiding your team and the projects that you take on to real success.


If you find this interesting and would like to learn more, please get in touch. We offer hands-on, experiential workshops to refine your team and management skills, and we specialize in working with technical people and engineers who never wanted to learn this fluffy stuff but were so good at what they were doing that they were asked to lead others. Call or WhatsApp +1-512-507-5464

How to Handle those Project Frustrations

Every frustration you experience on an IT, Telecom, or Engineering project will either be a communication that didn’t get across right, a goal or task that didn’t get completed according to plan, or an expectation that you didn’t manage and so didn’t get set correctly.

Negative experiences come from a few key areas

Negative experiences come from a few key areas

Communication requires all the people to come to a shared understanding. Do you know how to make certain you both understand the same thing? Questions.

Tasks and deliverables are the goals that drive a project plan forward. Do you know how to know in advance whether you are on plan or not? Questions.

Expectations are the mental projections that accidentally occur when different parties think they understood the same thing but didn’t. Do you know how to make sure that everyone has the same expectations? Questions.


Questions like:

  • What specifically…?
  • How Specifically…?
  • When specifically…?
  • Who specifically…?
  • For what purpose?  or To what end?
  • What allows or enables…?  
  • What is allowed or enabled by…?
  • Where specifically?  
  • Compared to what?
  • Every?  All?  None?  Never? Always? Nobody?  Everyone?  
  • What would happen if we did…?
  • What would happen if we didn’t…?  
  • What stops us from…?
  • What resources…?  
  • What is our circle of control?
  • What is our circle of influence?  
  • Is that within our control or outside of it?
  • What is the order of importance? time criticality? difficulty?
  • Who says?


There is a science and algorithm to asking the right question at the right time in the right order. There is a reason why the “Why?” question is left out of this list. If you would like to learn to be a better team member, learn the algorithm behind questions like these, and you will increase the efficiency of your team 10 fold.

And the nice thing about questions is that if you know how to match the project leader’s temperament you can ask them nicely without having to be the project manager or executive sponsor.  Even the newest coder can ask an “innocent” question that can get the team meeting or project back on track.

If you would like to learn more about asking excellent questions check out Genie LaBorde’s book, Influencing With Integrity.  It is a classic still worth the read because most leaders still don’t know about it.

You Up For a Challenge?

If the people around you are not as good as you, it might keep your ego from being hurt, but it is costing you money and holding you back.

To get better ride with people who are a little better than you are.

The better your peers are the better you will become.

It has been said that first rate managers hire people who are better than them and that second rate managers hire third rate staff because their egos can’t take the challenge of subordinates showing them up all the time. Well new research from the University College London has discovered that if you work with people who are better than you it causes you to do better and even get more raises.

These improvements come from both the increased competition you feel with your coworkers and from the added advantage you get from being able to learn from the people around you who are even better than you are.

So if your bored by your work and by your co-workers, it may be time to find a better place to work that challenges you more.  Cushy jobs are rarely rewarding and in the end they don’t pay as well either.


  • Thomas Cornelissen, Christian Dustmann, Uta Schönberg. Peer Effects in the Workplace. American Economic Review, January 2017


Adapt or Die!


“Never underestimate the power of improvisation to turn an unpopular
change into a winning strategy.”

~ Forbes

In the movie Moneyball, Brad Pitt’s character ‘Billy Beane’, the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team is having a frank discussion with one of his scouts about the future of scouting for the team. Here is the scene:

In business as in life we find things are constantly changing. We can either adapt or die. Billy Beane’s scout didn’t want to adapt to the new scouting philosophy. Billy was saying this is what we are doing and we’re not turning back.

In business, Anticipating change is important so an effective plan can be put into place, knowing that there will always be changes. For change to go smoothly requires an open mind.
Billy Beane saw his team couldn’t compete with the teams that had more money to spend on players. So he had to devise a different plan for finding players. Billy had to change the way he saw the game; he had to implement and manage the change.

Billy Beane modeled some key elements of improvisation we can apply to business. He showed flexibility in his way of doing things. He was open to accepting and embracing change.

Learning improvisational communication allows for “outside the box” thinking. Billy had to think in whole different way rebuilding and managing his team. The scouts who were unwilling to accept the change were let go or quit.

When we allow ourselves to become more flexible and let go of our preconceived ideas, we’ll see the new opportunities that open up. Billy’s team learned to let go of their approach to the game and start using their own strengths to play it better which helped them the break the Major League record for most consecutive wins during a season.

Billy Beane encountered failures with making changes, but he knew they were sure to fail if he didn’t do anything to change the team. Making big changes moves people out of their comfort zones and supports them in taking risks, embracing mistakes and exploring their own creativity.

So how do you learn to embrace change? We’ve found learning improvisational exercises provides tools and techniques that people can practice and implement on accepting and embracing change. Experiential and improv games cause participants to get out of their comfort zone and take risks. They learn to how to experience failure and bounce back quickly. We learn that how to accept new ideas and build on them to see what new opportunities might open up. Creativity is enhanced. Then we start to change, our attitudes and see our behavioral choices expand so the process of confidently dealing with change begins.


We get together weekly to practice these sorts of flexibility exercises.  If you or your people could stand to become better at adapting to change, then we can help.  Contact us at 512-507-5464 to get a catalog of our courses, workshops, trainings, mentoring and coaching.  Author, Terrill Fischer has 20+ years facilitating improvisational change skills and teaching improvisation both for pleasure and to add flexibility to the work place.  If  you have questions about how your team can better embrace change, give us a ring.




The Quality of Your Objectives Makes or Breaks Your Project Success

Ryder Schmidt, a promising young civil engineer working on water resources projects, is involved in hydrologic and hydraulic studies that focus on floodplain and stormwater management.  He had proven himself able when it came to technical activities on assigned projects, and he had hopes of moving up in his company.  Then he got his chance.

Ryder Schmidt Hydraulic Engineer

But Rider was quickly overwhelmed by his new job position as team project manager. There is so much to take in and stay on top of when leading a team, ensuring effective communication and coordination between all the architects, engineers, developers, contractors, and clients.

His habits still focused primarily on the technical problems, but now he was having what seemed like the same people problems occurring over and over.  As with many people under pressure, his tendency was to blame the other team members, but his boss pointed out that he was responsible for the ultimate success of the project.

Ryder’s new job was stressing him out.  And he knew he needed to focus on people process in addition to the content of his project, but his old work and thought habits were difficult to change.

To better manage people, we coached Ryder to become aware of the process of his and his team’s behavioral habits, not just the content of his projects.  This can be a tricky distinction for engineers to see and understand because engineers are typically so good at visualizing future creations in their mind that they expect that everybody else should already do things exactly the they imagine they will happen.  This is a sort of “mind-reading” and “projection” onto other team members.  It is a hazard of being so good at manipulating images in your mind’s eye.

The poor results Ryder was getting came out of the way he habitually used his brain.  To choose to do things in a different way, Ryder first had to focus his awareness on how he was producing the consistently poor results. And he had to understand the habitual sequence his brain used to automatically produce those poor results.

Beginning to learn to recognize and express his own desired objectives in a clear, detailed, and positive fashion, his people were able to collaborate to make sure his vision was in line with their own.  This may seem obvious, but in 15 plus years coaching Engineers and Scientists, we’ve learned that it is not as easy as it sounds.

Ryder learned a set of well-formedness conditions for communicating his goals, which allowed him to test his peers and team members’ understanding against his own pictures for success — a sort of failure mode and effects analysis but on the human factors affecting his project.  This proved to be incredibly valuable both to him and his team.

Organizing around “well-formed objectives” helped him both communicate more clearly exactly what was expected of his team and check to make sure that all of the key stakeholders shared the same vision and consensus about the steps that the project would entail.  This brought out problems for discussion a lot earlier in his projects when they were less critical (and less costly) to deal with.

With a lot of practice Ryder became a master of bringing his projects in on time and within budget.  Of course that allowed him to progress in his career.  But Ryder said that the biggest advantage came from knowing he could calmly handle any project with minimal stress because everyone was on the same page and working together to make him and his projects a success.

If you think you may be having similar communication problems on your team, you may benefit from learning to apply the well-formedness conditions to the objectives your team has to discuss.  To find out more join us for one of our weekly work sessions.  We do practice exercises and learn practical skills that help make you a super project manager.  Call 512-507-5464 for an invitation to join us.  We’d love to help you accelerate your career forward to new levels of successful leadership.


TOTW: Flexing Your Degrees of Freedom

… to Assure Success

Engineering Teams are dynamic systems instead of static systems.  People on your teams will never react exactly the same way two times in a row.  That is why you are charged with herding these cats and getting them to work toward a single direction.

In 15 + years of managing various types of projects and as many, coaching Technical Project managers, I have noticed that Engineers and Tech people such as ourselves tend to expect systems to statically repeat the same process over time.  That is why managing human processes can be so frustrating  — people don’t work that way.

The secret to success is to realize that as a leader, you must take a meta-perspective and exhibit a greater range of flexible behavior than those exhibited by your team members.  The part of the system that has the most meta-flexibility, that is the ability to adjust and constrain whatever happens, will always determine the quality of the results you get.

To level-up your flexibility, consider each encounter from not only your position, but also by stepping into the perspective of the other stakeholders and team members.  Imagine what it must be like to be in their shoes, with their experience, and their values.  If you can make this a consistent habit of your perception you will automatically begin to generate an Emotional Intelligence that will set you apart from other managers and project leaders.

To really become great, you have to cultivate a desire to learn these kinds of skills, and you have to practice them until they become natural habits of your thinking.  Learn to switch back and forth between being wholly in your own perspective and wholly in each other team member’s perspective.  Step into their perspective and ask yourself, “What do I know from here, that I didn’t know from my own perspective?”  Then listen carefully to your intuitive mind.  You will be surprised how different other people’s perspectives really are.

Three 3 perceptual positions diagram

Finally, after checking out each person’s perspective including your own, step outside of the whole team circle as if you were a fly on the wall and imagine the interactions you’ve just been through as if you were seeing yourself and your team from a third party position.  This overview is called taking a meta-perspective, and it provides a way to watch the interaction and the dynamics between team member’s communications.  From here you can easily see and hear those little differences of communication that cause mistaken ideas, hard feelings, and avoidable confusion.

Mistakes are always avoidable if you learn to watch and listen carefully.  Teams work together better when failures are treated as opportunities to learn and refine the team process.  If you will become an expert in flexible facilitation and in understanding every process from the three different perspectives — yours, theirs, and objective overview, your projects will come in closer to budget and schedule and the quality of your team deliverables will become impressive.


We get together weekly to practice these sorts of skills exercises.  If you recognize you are interested in getting good and mastering this skill set or in learning more people skill tips that will help you work better with people and become the sort of person they naturally like to follow, then we can help.  Contact us at 512-507-5464 to get a catalog of our courses, workshops, trainings, mentoring and coaching.


Seeing Problems Before They Happen

From the Tech Team Coach:

It is ironic.  You might be leading the hottest new technical development, but most common problems tech and engineering projects experience come down to people not understanding one another.


You’ve got brilliant people on your team.  So you’d think, “Why can’t these guys put in the same level of care and quality that I do to get this right?  Aren’t they responsible for understanding the specs, getting the requirements right?”

But as the leader, responsibility for success or failure falls on you even if the mistake occurs among your team.  Somebody’s got to be in charge.  Lucky you.

From consulting with technical and engineering teams over 20 years, the problem I notice is that most of the time managers and team leads miss unspoken cues that if they recognized them, would signal a potential issue that could be avoided.  Project communication is a two way street and your people are usually sending signals requiring corrective feedback.  Are you noticing the subtle cues?

Most people look at communication like this:

NLP linear communication without feedback

But the straight line sender, message, receiver model doesn’t cut it in our fast paced creative and agile modern environments.   Every communication is intended to get a particular result that others are dependent upon.  That’s why the unit of communication has to be a feedback loop rather than a straight line.


Calibrated communication feedback

90% of the time, if you increase your perception skills you can pick up on warning cues from body language that foreshadow future problems for your team.  But learning to watch body language while you are trying to get a message across doesn’t come easily to most of us, at least not most of us in the engineering fields and science fields.

You have to know what to look for.  And you have to be looking for those details even while your focus of attention is on the content of the communication you are trying to get across.

The best way to practice these skills is in a set of exercises designed to provide you with  mixed messages in an environment where a missed cue won’t hurt your performance reviews.

A raised eyebrow, tightening of the muscles in the jaw, pursed lips, even dilation of the pupils in a person’s eyes all can be important feedback to whether the listener really understands what you are saying in the way that you mean it.  You can learn to see and interpret these cues like a professional poker player, but you probably are going to need to set aside time and put in a few minutes of effort for a few weeks to get good at it.

If you would like to learn more about reading people’s confused and incongruent behaviors, check out Genie LaBorde’s book:  Influencing with Integrity.  It is an oldie but a goodie that I use when teaching expert Engineering Teams to work together more efficiently.

Becoming a really excellent technical leader takes concerted effort, but it is learnable.  And your results will be worth the effort.


Keith W Fail is a Coach and Trainer teaching leadership skills to STEM managers who “hate” people skills but recognize that even the best solutions will Fail, if the people do.   If you feel ready to take the leading role,  talk with Keith about sharpening your skills in these areas:  512-512-5464

Authenticity and Mindfulness Practice Cleanses Tech Leader’s Behavior

In teaching leadership skills and coaching Tech leaders, I notice that like most of us, they have recurring habits of thought that do not serve them well. Our minds run on automatic pilot most of the time. We are extremely habit-driven pattern generating machines.

Mindfulness Meditation in the business world helps Managers and other Leaders clear their minds of stress and distorted thinking.

Mindfulness Meditation in the business world helps Managers and other Leaders clear their minds of stress and distorted thinking.

We often don’t notice our most troublesome patterns because the very “software” that is watching for patterns is the same “software” that has set up the filters for what to watch for. Our minds often jump to premature and distorted beliefs and those beliefs fall prey to confirmation bias—  we tend to see what we expect to see and ignore what we don’t want to see. Because of this we don’t realize that our own ego minds are self-justifying systems, and we don’t recognize that we are not synonymous with our ego minds.

For example, Dave is a project manager who had some unwanted mindless habits. He wanted to do a great job, so he often said “Yes” to projects and tasks that were more than he could manage, and he found himself overwhelmed and frustrated. Then his mind jumped automatically to blaming others for his stressful circumstances. “Other people are just not as conscientious about their work as I am,” he told himself and his boss. He felt resentful of coworkers whom he saw as lazy and rebellious, and his blaming attitude did not endear him to his team.

The problem wasn’t with Dave’s external situation, although he thought it was; other people had managed his team before him and had not had these difficulties. The problem was that Dave was blind to his own mind’s natural tendency to look outside itself for others to blame for the stress that he had brought upon himself. Fortunately, Dave became aware of this pattern and was able to alter it when we introduced him to mindfulness practice at work.

Mindfulness practice entails meditation, ego observation, and change skills. These tools have taken off in the business world of late because they help executives and leaders better deal with stressful, constantly changing situations as well as clean up the “software” of the human organism, so that they create fewer cognitive biases and projective mistakes. We can use mindfulness to help us do this.

In order to change ourselves and our situations for the better, we need to align our mental models of the world with the truth about the way the world actually works. Seeing reality can be difficult; our confirmation bias runs so quickly and automatically that we are practically unaware of our automatic interpretations. Like putting on your shoes in the morning, you don’t think about it, you just do it, and that is where the trouble starts. But we can never change what we have not fully recognized. We have to admit where we are now in order to get to where we want to go next.

Mindfulness meditation creates a real opportunity for deep and lasting change by helping us dig deeply into the distortions and lies our minds are constantly telling us. By learning some basic tools of self-observation and meditative “following the breath,” practitioners begin to step back from their old way of thinking, becoming more true to themselves and more flexible in their choices of how they respond to situations. As a bonus, they become more authentically aligned with who they really are down deep inside. This is supportive of ethical behavior as well as long-term happiness.

The Business of Mindfulness is Booming in Business

The Business of Mindfulness is Booming in Business

I began working with Dave by getting him to journal about the situation with his coworkers as he saw it. Then I invited him to recognize the difference between his felt sense of who he was in this stressful situation and the “observer” consciousness that was aware of that “felt sense” of himself. By identifying with the observer instead of his ego, Dave was able to get some distance from his automatic negative emotional reactions. It was only then that he realized that he had been blaming his team, although his own lack of effective communication, combined with his unspoken expectations, was resulting in their confusion. On top of that, he could suddenly see that they were afraid to ask for clarification because he had often replied to their questions in a frustrated tone.

By practicing mindfulness, Dave became much calmer and learned to observe the processes of his mind, and he recognized that his behavior was not the totality of who he was. He became aware of  how automatically his habits of mind ran away from what he was trying to will himself to do. This was the first step in  strengthening his real will, and he recognized how he could interact more positively and successfully with his team.

We all hold onto patterns of thought, emotions, and behavior that don’t actually serve us. If you would like to learn to work day-to-day from your deep authentic self instead of having to constantly manage all of the ego masks/roles you play; if you are are tired of the stress; if you are ready to try being real, then you are ready to learn Authentic Leadership Skills. Give me a call. Let’s talk. 512-507-5464




Three Must Skills Areas for New Tech Leaders

In over ten years as an engineer and ten more coaching technical professionals to become leaders in technical companies, I have distilled down three key skills areas that it seems like we all need more of.

The first is what I call Proactive Learning Cycles.  This means setting up tiny projects to support your career where you can master the art of working toward measured performance goals while becoming a leader that makes stuff happen.  The whole point of leadership is to make stuff happen.  And you’ll get more bang for your buck if you focus on goals that invest in learning better process than if you simply develop a new product or strive for some riches reward.

The second area Tech Professionals consistently struggle to develop includes all the Collaborative People Skills that make worthwhile projects a success. Enrolling others in team efforts, building trust, vision, and negotiating aligned values across the team, for example.  All of these skills are based on underlying repeatable human patterns that you can learn to apply on projects.  If you are a problem solver you are halfway to being a great leader, but you must develop the people skills too.

The third area you need to focus upon is in Coordinating Valued Results.  This includes all of the skills for setting expectations for project stakeholders, negotiating commitments from team members, and managing both to assure successful project delivery.  If this sounds like project management, in a way it is.  But there are basic communication-level skills that you must learn to reliably deliver project results, and they don’t teach them at the PMP courses.

If you would like to learn more about how to be the type of leader that people naturally want to follow then join our weekly Tech Leadership mastermind breakfast.  For this week’s location call me.  512-507-5464  This group is guaranteed to help make your transition from individual contributor to leader in the Tech or Engineering field an easy and powerful one.  Why learn by hard knocks when you can model the best and learn from them in less time, with less effort.

Setting a Fire for Technical Leadership

Leadership is about making happen something that both yourself and others find important.  It is about getting from where you and your organization is right now to someplace better you both want to be.  To do that you have to get good at discovering where everyone is right now and where you all want to go together.


Leaderahip Cycle

You have to coordinate shared agreement about what you plan to achieve but also about exactly where you are right now and what is important about where you are going and how you will get there.  To be a good leader you need to learn to be great at evoking responses from yourself and other people. This is more than traditional communication skills, it is tracking everyone’s thinking and emotional reactions as well and being able to use those to get the responses you need.

Learn how to ask the types of questions that will help people discover the details of this process.  You need a procedure for determining exactly what success will look like and how you will recognize success when you achieve it.  You need skills to align people’s thinking and actions so that they work in a coordinated way rather than at cross purposes to one another.

You need the ability to ferret out what makes people think and act the way that they do so that you can predict how to best use them and work with them in a synergistic way that brings out their excitement and engages them in the collaborative work you need performed.

Leadership is about getting from where you are now to a better place by coordinating a like-minded group of specialists.  You can learn this.

The first skill set that must be mastered is the capability to define the current state of affairs and compare them to a description of a desired state.  And learning to make your goals a reality always starts with you proactively deciding on what you want for your team that will make a noticeable difference.

The better you are at envisioning and articulating a future that appeals to the values you and your bosses hold the more people will want to align with you and follow your lead.


These are the Leadership Skills I am thinking about this week.  If you feel ready to take the leading role, let’s talk about sharpening your skills in these areas.  Drop me a comment, or give me a ring: 512-512-5464