Five Minute Interview: Lynn Allen

  [acronym] online sat down for a five minute interview with Cadalyst columnist and Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen. Lynn speaks to more than 30,000 users worldwide each year. For the past sixteen years she has written a monthly column in Cadalyst magazine called “Circles and Lines” and is the voice behind the popular Cadalyst videos – “Tips and Tricks Tuesday with Lynn Allen”. Lynn started using AutoCAD® software with Release 1.4, over 20 years ago, and she taught at the corporate and collegiate level for 13 years before joining Autodesk. You can follow Lynn on her blog and on Twitter @Lynn_Allen. Here are some things you might not know about Lynn!   Q: If I weren’t talking to you right now, I’d be…   A: Probably catching up on the many customer emails I never seem to have the time to answer…rushing through some airport or trying to keep up with the latest social networking trend (tweeting!)   Q: A phrase I use too often…   A: not a phrase – but the word "actually”. I use the word much too much when I am speaking or presenting. I once had a coworker raise her hand whenever I said the word during a rehearsal for the AU Mainstage and I was shocked at how many times I “actually” said it!   Q: I wish people would take more notice of…   A: many of my extremely talented colleagues (I am happy to share the spotlight!). I’m also so much more than just “AutoCAD” (not that AutoCAD isn’t fantastic)…my name has somehow become synonymous with AutoCAD over the years and I’d like to broaden out and be seen as much more. I like to think of myself as all things Autodesk…not just AutoCAD.   Q: The most surprising thing in my career was…   A: finding out that so many people, all over the world, would show up to listen to me present. Who knew? It never ceases to amaze me that so many of our customers know who I am – shocking actually (there’s that word!) The internet has definitely helped in that respect.   Q: A common misperception of me is…   A: that I like the attention. “Actually” that is not true at all.   Q: Five famous people I would love to have dinner with…   A: Randy Pausch (if he were still alive), Barbra Streisand, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen Degeneres and Michelle Obama (or if she’s busy…her husband would do).   Q: I’m good at…   A: Making technical information entertaining and easy to understand (years of teaching helped tremendously). I think I am good at listening to and relating to our customers. I’m also a pro at negotiating my way through airports! I have never missed a presentation due to travel situations (knock on wood) and I pride myself in that. I’m also a bit too good at speaking my mind (which isn’t always a good thing) – I’ve been known to defend complete strangers in airports who I feel are being taken advantage of. And finally, I’m good at making the best blackberry pie you’ll ever taste (don’t tell your grandmother).   Q: I’m bad at…   A: Letting something technical go without figuring it out – it will drive me crazy until I come up with an answer. I have also been known to literally lose sleep over a customer’s issues – I just want to fix everything and make them all happy! I am also bad at forgiving myself when I don’t do my best during a presentation. I am very hard on myself and never let it go! Anyone who works closely with me knows that I rehearse relentlessly. I’m terrible at doing my expense reports. At one time my manager joked that the CFO wanted to personally thank me for holding on to my expense reports for so long and floating the company financially. And…am I allowed to say that I am bad at these 5 minute interviews?   Q: In moments of weakness I…   A: Use humor to lighten up the situation…   Q: I am a technology geek and design professional but in a truer life I’d have been…   A: A defender of animal rights (not an extremist though) or a gourmet chef. I love entertaining and cooking dinner for friends. And I’d do just about anything to save a dog (or other animal).   Q: The most interesting digital design-related project I have worked on:   A: As I haven’t, myself, worked on an actual design project in ages I am going to say helping many of our AutoCAD customers in the manufacturing industry make the move to Autodesk Inventor. I know this sounds like a typical corporate answer but I love hearing the success stories from companies I’ve worked with – it’s very satisfying.   Q: In a nutshell, my philosophy is this:   A: Leave everyone you meet feeling better about themselves. I hate to be cliché here – but I absolutely believe it is better to give than to receive…and I like to think that comes through in my work. Caron Beesley, Editor