View from the Top: Ashraf Habibullah, Computers and Structures Inc.

View from the Top: Ashraf Habibullah, Computers and Structures Inc.

– Good afternoon, everyone and welcome. I’m Tsu-Jae King Liu, dean
of the College of Engineering and it is my pleasure to host this series, View from the Top, which brings leading thinkers
and innovators to campus. Over the years, this
lecture series has become a favorite of students
and faculty on our campus and it’s wonderful to see a
full crowd here today with us. Before we get underway, I just
wanted to thank those of you in our community who have
already provided input for the College of Engineering’s
facilities master plan. Tomorrow is actually
the last day to provide your inputs through the online survey to help us plan for improvements
to the physical spaces, indoors and outdoors in our college. If you haven’t done so already,
please check your email and complete the short survey. We really want to hear from everyone. Now, today’s event is
co-sponsored by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the students of the
Cal Seismic Design team. Please join me in thanking
them for their partnership. (audience applauds) As you know, Berkeley
Engineering has amazing alumni. It’s been one of my
pleasures as dean to meet many of the alumni, but I have to say, of all the people that I’ve met so far, there’s no one quite
like Ashraf Habibullah. He truly is a force of nature,
with a style all his own. And you’ll see that, if you don’t already know that, by the end of today. Ashraf came to Berkeley
from his native Pakistan to earn a master’s degree in
structural engineering in 1970. Now, that was a time when engineers used slide rules, is that correct? To design and to analyze structures. From the modest structures
that make up the world’s towns to the towering high rises
that exist in big cities, and to the massive bridges
and dams that we rely on for our transportation and energy. So, only the very
innovative, like some of his Berkeley professors were
beginning to use computers for more sophisticated structural design and analysis back in those days. Now, when Ashraf was
fresh out of Berkeley, he made a leap, head first, into the new world of computers and structures, which became the name of his company that he would found five
years after graduation. As he adapted what he learned
at Berkeley to this new field, he kept in close touch with
his Berkeley professors, always learning, always growing. Today, Computers and
Structures, Incorporated is headquarted in Walnut
Creek and it is a pioneering leader in developing
software for structural and earthquake engineering. And its software is used in
over 160 countries to design the most iconic structures in the world. Ashraf has a spirit and
philosophy that sets him apart, which he will share with us today. He is adamant that young engineers should think beyond
technology to cultivate deep personal beliefs
and pride in their craft. They should also have
powerful communication skills and an understanding of human psychology and human chemistry. Please join me in welcoming
Ashraf to the stage. (audience applauds) – Well, that was quite an
introduction, I’d have to say. So, needless to say, I
am so happy to be here for a wide variety of reasons. I came here, actually in the fall of 1969 as a graduate student and that’s 50 years. And so much has happened. And I had the most amazing
time when I was on campus. And there’s so many things
that I love about the campus that I wanna talk about. There’s so many things I
love about our profession that I wanna talk about. And there’s so many things
that I love about you young students that I wanna talk about. Because everywhere I go, you know, I’ve been around 50 years, right? I graduated in 1970, which is
literally nearly 50 years ago. People my age are already retired. I’m only 72. I plan to be around another 50 years. So, the thing is that I
have to come to universities like this and make friends with you guys because most people my age
are retired and you represent the future of our profession, you know? Besides, if I have to go
to a Katy Perry concert, I have to come to you because most people my age don’t even know who Katy Perry is. But, all kidding aside, my experiences at Berkeley
were just absolutely amazing. And I wanna talk about some
of those things because this campus not only gave me
an education, but it gave me a profession and it was so kind to me. You know, when I was on
campus, I was really scared to take hard courses because
I didn’t want to ruin my GPA, so I took the easiest courses. There were some professors
that you really didn’t have to do anything and they gave you an A. And I took all of those courses and I graduated with a GPA about 3.6, which was decent in those days. But there was a lot that
I should have learned. So then I came back to campus
and I talked to the professors whether they would just
let me audit the courses and they let me. And they were amazing, amazing professors, giants of our industry. People like Ray Clough,
Ed Wilson, Bob Taylor. I mean, Alex Cordellis,
Aliyah Tropra, Gran Paul, the list goes on and on and they were all there on the seventh floor in Davis Hall. You know, I’m telling
you, we are lucky that intellect and talent
doesn’t weigh anything. Otherwise, Davis Hall
would’ve come crashing down. It was just amazing. And there I was, thrown in the
middle of all of this stuff. And I just think that there
are things that our profession, especially our professors
at Cal did on campus that we all need to know about. The development of the Finite
Element Method was done here. For those of us that don’t
know with the Finite Element Method is, it’s the method
that’s used in the design of all these airplanes,
buildings, bridges, automobiles. It’s the method that put
humanity onto the moon and brought ’em back. It’s the method that’s used
in the design of the blender blade at Starbucks that made
your frapuccino this morning. Artificial limbs, dentures, the groves of a potato chip for maximum crunch. That’s the legacy. That is your legacy that you inherit. So, I’m here to celebrate
all of these things. And you know, of course
when you celebrate, you need fireworks, lights
and sparkles, right? Well, I can’t bring you fireworks here, but I can definitely bring
you some lights and sparkle. So, let me do a little bit
of a costume change here. (audience laughs and applauds) Now alright. Ah! Okay. Let’s see. (audience laughs) Okay, now, let me tell you a
little bit about this jacket. Now, you know, I think
every keynote speaker or even every professor,
should have jacket like this because, you see, when you
come to an event wearing a jacket like this,
something magical happens. You see, first of all, you
are never gonna forget me. I can see it already. You go to dinner tonight, what are you gonna be talking about? Forget that! It’s Spring Break pretty soon, right? You’re gonna go back home. That’s the first thing you’re gonna say, “hey, I attended this seminar. “There was this guy, I
don’t know what he said, “but man, did he have this jacket!” (audience laughs) And you’ll get invited everywhere. Why do you think I’m here?
Somebody saw me somewhere and said, “hey, we gotta get this guy.” You have no idea the invitations I get. Soccer moms call me up, “can you come talk to
my 12-year-old girl?” And I do! And I do! And I talk to them about engineering and, you know, they are glued
to every word that you say. The moms write letters to me afterwards, “these girls never paid
any attention to anybody.” And you get paid. I was invited all the way to Australia. They paid me $12,000 to
speak for 30 minutes. All expenses paid. And there were 600 architects. I’m a structural engineer! You know, architects
and structural engineers don’t get along at all because there’s a conflict of philosophy. Structural engineers want
columns to hold the building up. Architects don’t want
columns for open spaces. So, there’s a constant fight. And I told them, I said,
“you guys, you should be “thankful that there are
structural engineers out there “because if it weren’t
for structural engineers, all of you guys would be in jail.” And they loved that. Because they’ve invited me back. I’m supposed to go to Scotland this year. But we shall see, but anyway. I have a lot to talk about. And time is tight, so I’m
gonna go a little fast. But this is probably one of the few non-technical talks
you’re gonna have, okay? Because I’m here to basically talk to you about ways in which you can be popular, you can be healthy and productive, and maybe I wouldn’t say most importantly, but also so you can be rich. Now, you’re saying, “you know what, “heck with the rest of the Scots stuff. “Just make me rich! “I’ll take care of the rest.” So, we’ll talk about that. But let me first talk about how incredible our profession is so that you know. You know, the thing is that
for those of us that study human psychology, which is not you guys because engineers don’t
study any human psychology and it’s a problem and we talk about that. For those of us that
study human psychology, we’ll come to the
realization that human beings are created for one fundamental reason. And that one fundamental reason is to make the life of another human being better. That’s what we’re created
for and it’s not religion. It’s not something that
I’ve cooked up, okay? It’s part of your human chemistry. And we’ll talk more about
that, but that’s the reason why you feel good when you do
something nice for somebody. It’s a serotonin factor,
we’ll talk about that. The beauty about engineering
is that we make life better for humanity on a daily basis. That’s what your profession does. I’m a structural engineer. You’re the reason why
when you turn on a switch, the light goes on. I’m one of those crazy guys
that thinks about crazy stuff. Have you ever thought about
when you flush a toilet, where does the crap go? Most people don’t think about that until the toilet gets clogged. But that’s engineering. The infrastructure, the complexities of just pushing an elevator
button and things working. All this stuff is taken for granted. You’re the reason why
structures stand in earthquakes and don’t topple over in wind storms. Where your technology is not used, thousands of people die
when an earthquake comes. When it’s used, only one person dies. That’s out of a heart attack, out of fear, nothing to do with the
physicality of the earthquake. It is because of your profession that we even have an
economic infrastructure. If you stop working,
progress of all of humanity would come to a screeching halt. Okay? So, if we’re so amazing, how
come we’re not billionaires? Right, I mean if we contribute
so much to humanity, well forget billionaires, let’s talk about being a millionaire. Okay, so let’s talk a
little bit about that. There’s actually a report from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, which is nearly 100 years old. And you know what that report says? The report says that only
15% of your financial success is based upon
your technical knowledge. Everything that you’re learning here, even if you’re amazing at it, 15%. The other 85%, they say, is attributed to what they call human engineering. What is human engineering? Human engineering is your
ability to deal with people. Your ability to lead people. You know, create paths for them. Your ability to inspire them, expose their own
capabilities to themselves so they actually end up doing things that they thought they could never do. Inspiring them, having
influence over them, so that they will actually do things that you want them to do without you even asking them to do it. How magical is that? It’s your ability to celebrate
the things that you do. Celebrate people like Ray Clough, whose contributions to humanity are greater than those of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates combined. We need to celebrate those kind of people, have parties, engineers
don’t have enough parties. I’m serious. When you have amazing parties,
where you call people, invite them, and make them
feel like a billion bucks! I don’t know how many of you
have attended a CSI party, but you haven’t, you should come. To take credit of things that you do, to be proud, proudly talk about things. There’s nothing bad in
going out there and telling people how amazing you are
because there’s a very distinct, fine line between being
proud and being arrogant. Pride is when you think you’re amazing, but everybody around you
that has helped you get to where you are, they are also amazing. Arrogance happens when
you think you’re amazing, but you start thinking that
you’re better than others. I mean, they talk amazing
things about Computers and Structures, right? You just heard it. And I would love to stand up here and say, “hey, look how amazing I am,” but I know that, yes, I started the thing, I started CSI at a time when
there was not even Microsoft. And I had this idea of doing
something with software. And people were telling
me, “you’re gonna starve “on the streets because
nobody buys software. “Software is delivered
by professors on campus “and they give it away for free.” And they were right, but I was stupid, so it takes a certain level of stupidity to start something like that, but it takes genius to make it last 50 years. And that genius is not me. It’s not embedded in me. It’s all of the people that surround me, that call us up and tell
us, “your software sucks,” but then they give you a chance to fix it and they continue to use it. All the people that work at
the company, that put their blood, sweat, and tears
into developing stuff. It’s the people. It’s all about people. And the more people you
surround yourself with that have good will towards you, nature will have a
tendency to be kind to you. Believe me. And then, to face the camera. Oh my God, why are we so
afraid to face the camera? When an earthquake comes
somewhere, I woke up in the middle of the night and
there’s some dude on CNN standing in front of a amazing,
base-isolated building, talking about how the building survived. And they implied in there is
that he’s taking credit for it. Why? We should be there. It’s our shit! Oops. (audience laughs) Okay, this is being recorded. Now, my videographer’s
there, I can talk to him. But this is now all public here. You got that internationally televised. But anyway, but that’s the truth though. It’s our stuff! But you see, we have no
training in facing the camera. We’re scared. See, I learned it young
and I learned it early, and I learned it from Madonna. She taught me, what’s the
point of doing anything unless it’s on camera, right? Everybody has something to teach you. And then public speaking. Why do not we have any
courses in public speaking? Why? If you’re so amazing, you
have so many amazing stories to tell, if you can’t face the public, you’re gonna get nowhere. They are not going to know what you do. And when they don’t know what you do, you are not gonna get paid for anything. And public speaking is not easy, it’s not a natural thing. You know what they say,
like when you’re speaking at a memorial service,
after somebody died. You’d rather be the person in the box than be the person on the podium. It’s so scary. You see? But you have to get over that. And after you get over that, then you do stuff like this. (audience laughs) And then marketing. Nobody teaches us
anything about marketing. You know? People have no idea what we do, but when they find out,
they’re blown away. You know, I don’t know
how many of you know this, but those know me know that I ran a ballet company for 12 years. I founded a ballet company
and we’d raise money for them. Then called the Engineer’s
Alliance for the Arts, which I would get a whole
bunch of engineers together and bring them to a ballet performance. And then I would get up there
and take one of my software packages, SAP2000, and I would auction it from the stage and all these engineers bidding on it, you know, and you know the software sells for what? Fifteen grand a copy? So they’re gonna try and
get it for three grand. So they bid up to three or four thousand, meanwhile, the rest of the
public is like completely in awe. “What is this thing for
three thousand bucks? “I can get Windows for $99.” And then you tell them. This is the software that if there was an earthquake right now,
it will allow you to leave the auditorium with your legs intact. See, but that’s what you have to do. Intel has this thing, round
logo that says, “Intel inside.” It never used to be that way
until Andy Grove went and said, “you don’t put this logo
on every computer you sell, you ain’t gettin’ no microprocessors.” We need to tell all these builders, “unless they put on that thing “‘structural engineering
inside’ or something like that, “architectural engineering,
whatever you wanna call it.” Because it’s because of
that, a big, round logo, that says ‘structural engineering inside’ then people would know
that this building is only standing because of the
structural engineers. That’s marketing. But, all of this stuff requires what? It requires to step out
of your comfort zone. If you’re comfortable what you’re doing, you’re not learning anything new. You know, they say, the
biggest tragedy in life the biggest tragedy in life is not death. The biggest tragedy in life is arriving to the end of your life and looking back at all of these
opportunities that you missed because you were afraid to answer the door when opportunity knocked. At that point, you won’t
have to worry about how you are going to die. That thought alone will kill ya. So, you need to try everything. I didn’t want to be an engineer. I wanted to be a rockstar. I wanted to come to
America, put Elvis Presley out of business, and run
away with Mary Tyler Moore. And when that didn’t seem
like it’s gonna be possible, I took my father’s advice and I said, “maybe I should go to Berkeley.” So, here I am. But you see, this isn’t too bad, you know? Seventy-two-year-old rockstar? For another 50 years? We got a lot going. So, you try everything. Don’t do looking for your passion. You know, people say, “let
me look for my passion. “I’m gonna find myself. “I’m gonna take three
years off and find myself.” No, you don’t do that. You try everything. And you know what’s going to happen? Your passion is gonna find you. That’s what happened to me. I got into engineering and all of a sudden realized, my God, is this
some profession or what? You start realizing
its impact on humanity. And then to learn about human psychology. What makes people like you? I mean, what would make people like you? Have you ever thought about that? I mean, why would you like me? Because of my lighted jacket? Or my Lady Gaga boots? Or my hat, what? No, people like you for only one reason. Listen to this loud and clear. And that one reason is how
they feel about themselves when they are in your presence. It’s called the serotonin factor, you see. If you can make a person
feel like a million bucks when they are in your presence,
they will come back to you again and again and again. Life is about empowering people, making them feel good by
things that you do to them. Giving them serotonin rushes every time you interact with them. And you don’t have to do anything special. You can just smile at a person. You don’t have to give them money. Well, let’s try it. Let me just demo with some money! Alright, look, here! Here’s a hundred bucks for you and here, you can have a hundred bucks. Alright, look at her! Look at how happy she is. (audience laughs) Okay? Look at how happy he is! Right? And look at all of you guys. Look at all of you guys, happy! You ain’t gettin’ jack shit. Right? Why? Because you see, when I do something nice for somebody like that,
the reason she’s happy, she got a serotonin rush. It’s the rush that makes her feel good. And watching that interaction, I get a serotonin rush. But, you see, the beauty
about the serotonin factor is that anybody watching this interaction, they get a serotonin rush. That’s why game shows are so popular. A girl is jumping up
and down, winning a car, the host is happy giving the car, but what about the rest of humanity that’s tuned in all across
the nation in the millions. What are they getting? They’re getting serotonin rushes. And it applies to everything. People that work for you,
people that are your friends, anybody interacting on the street. All you have to do, just
smile somebody, say, “hi.” I had my office in Berkeley for 35 years. The homeless people on the
street knew my first name, okay. I would walk by somebody,
they say, “hi, Ash.” Somebody walking next
to me, “who is that guy? “Do you know him?” I said, “no, I don’t.” But you see, when you smile at someone or even when you have
an air about yourself, when you’re approachable. And then the oxytocin factor,
where you connect with people. I could do this on WebX, right? I could do this thing
on WebX and I could say, “Tsu-Jae, put up a nice,
big, hunkin’ screen. “I’m going to talk to them from there.” That’s not the same. I wanna come here where
I can shake your hand, see the responses in your eyes as I talk because it gives me an oxytocin rush. It’s the feeling you get
when you hug somebody. You know, we have a amazingly big market of our software in South America, right? All Spanish people. Every Spanish-speaking
nation, we have our software because for some reason, I don’t know why, but wherever they speak
Spanish, there are earthquakes. (audience laughs) I don’t know, it just
dawned on me, you know? And maybe it’s the hot blood,
because I’m telling you, they know how to party. I mean, we go out there, they took me into a dicsotec one day. The seminar ended at seven in the evening. We were at this dance club
at seven in the morning and we took a flight after that. It was insane. But, you see, when I go into a Spanish-speaking country, this
is how I start my seminar. I go (sings in foreign language). Now, I have no idea what that means. (audience laughs) But it’s not important. The important thing is,
you took eight months to learn this verse because
you wanted to go and connect with every Spanish-speaking
person that was in the audience. From that point on, they are your friends. You can do no wrong. But that’s human. That’s the human thing that we need to learn the magic of it. When you connect with
people on a human level. There used to be an ad years ago, “the best business deals are personal.” I don’t know why they
don’t teach that anymore, but 50 years ago it was a ad of one of these major corporations. And they were talking about oxytocin. There’s a whole thing
about human’s chemistry that I would wanna talk to you about. Maybe, you need to invite me back and we will have a session on that. It will completely change your life. One last thing, then I promise to end. I need to talk to you about
the concept of belief. Having belief is so important
and I don’t know how many of you have heard of Simon Sinek, whether you’ve read some of
his books or not, but he talks about this concept of belief
and this is what he says. And it’s so very true. For instance, do you
actually believe that your profession of engineering
is a true gift to humanity? I mean, do you really believe that? I mean, seriously, because I do. And when you have belief of anything, and when you get out there and
you talk about your beliefs, publicly, something magical happens again. You’re gonna say, “wow, everything magical “happening with this guy.” But, it’s true, you know? And the magical thing that
happens is that you attract other people that
believe what you believe. Why is that important? Well, when you surround
yourself with people that believe what you believe, they will do exactly
what you want them to do without you asking them to do it. Not because you’re asking them, but because that’s their belief. And then, when you get out there and you speak in public, with
passion, about your belief, something even more magical happens. That you convert people that
didn’t believe what you believe into believing what you believe. Pretty soon, you have a following. They’ll follow you everywhere and do exactly what you want them to do. And they will pay you what
you deserve to be paid. Not because you’re asking for it, but because they believe
that you deserve it. But it all starts from you. And one last thing. I’m starting to sound like Steve Jobs. One last thing. Money. Don’t let anybody tell you two things. Number one, don’t let them tell you that a profession is not about money. Our profession is about
serving the public, which is great. Serving humanity is amazing thing, but I think I can serve humanity much better if I have my
structural license in one pocket and a billion dollars in the other. (audience laughs) Okay? And then, don’t let anybody tell you money doesn’t buy happiness. They will tell you that, which is BS. Now, money only buys happiness. And they give you
examples, all these unhappy billionaires sitting
out, they’re so unhappy, they’re killing themselves
and all this kind of stuff. Money only buys happiness if
you do the right thing with it. Try handing a homeless
person a hundred, a stack, just the one I gave you. Try handing that to a homeless
person, see what happens. That person’s gonna jump
out of his or her skin! Because that doesn’t happen that often. And, probably, he or she will remember you for a very very long time. But that’s not the important thing. The important thing is
that you will remember that person forever and
every time you think about that event, you’re gonna get this warm feeling in your heart because every time you think about that, you will get a serotonin rush. You have a thousand such
events in your life, you are constantly drunk with serotonin. Happy, but you have to, money does nothing sitting in the bank. Yes, you have to keep enough
money for your security, for paying bills and whatever you have, but you don’t need millions and billions of dollars in the bank. You give it away, you’re
not taking it with you. And see what kind of happiness
it creates for the rest of humanity around you, but
more importantly, for yourself. So, when you’re rich and
famous, which you are gonna be, just remember that. Alexander the Great said
it most profoundly that when I die and you guys roll
my coffin out onto the streets, make sure my hands are outside the coffin, so that they know I’m not
taking anything with me. Just remember that. Well thank you so very much. (audience applauds) – Alright, thank you so much, Ashraf, that was so inspirational
and very informative. We have time now, actually for questions and we’d like to give the
students a preference, if you could please stand
up, identify yourself, your name, your major, and
your year, that’d be wonderful. We have some microphones
going around the auditorium. – [Megan] Um, hi, I’m Megan, I’m a junior, and I was wondering, what was the biggest challenge you faced when you were at Cal? – You know, I just had such
a great time when I was at Cal, there were really no challenges because I took the
easiest courses, for one. And times were wonderful. You know, it was like you
had the free speech movement going on, all of the
beautiful hippie girls were all over the place, you know? And people were smoking
all sorts of stuff. And Berkeley campus was
the center of everything. I mean, I lived on the
corner of Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft, so my window
opened onto Sprout Plaza and every time the
National Guard came there, there would be teargas in my bedroom. So, I just had a really
great time, you know? (audience laughs) What can I say? So, but, yeah, there
were really no challenges during my time and you
know, the fees were nothing. It was $173 a quarter. My my whole master’s program cost me like a thousand bucks, so although
I did have a shortage of money, because I was a foreign student and my father actually sold his house to give me airfare and send me out here, but I just have to tell you the kindness of the professors. There was one professor, Frank Barren, I needed $500 to finish my final quarter and I didn’t have it. There were cutbacks at the
university that quarter. He wrote me a check for
$500, personal check, and he said you don’t have to pay it back, but I know that a time will
come where you will be able to pass this on a thousand times over. And the time is now. So, that’s why I love this university. So, but no, I had the most amazing time. It was a great time. In may ways it was, in
many ways it wasn’t. And we would get time off because there’d be riots on campus and
then classes were canceled. But, yeah, no there
were no real challenges, but those were different times also, yeah. – [Madeline] Hi, I’m Madeline,
I’m a graduate student. I used to coach thirteen-year-old girls, so I’m just wondering what
you said to motivate them. (laughs) – Well, the same thing I say. You know, the thing is that
life is totally about people and it is so important
that I have just been lucky that I have so many incredible friends all across the world and it’s amazing that when you come to
realize that the world is a reflection of yourself. When you are nice to people, they are nice in return, when you trust them, they will trust you, and
when you are suspicious, they will be suspicious. So, once you realize
that, you end up having, you know, like whenever we
do this party every year, everybody wants to come to this party. They want to not only come themselves, they wanna bring everybody they know. We do these parties at every convention and people ask me, “why
do you do those parties?” The reasons for doing
those parties is simple. I mean, they cost a lot of money. Some of these convention parties are $300, $400 thousand a shot, but you spend the money because everybody coming to the party, they feel like they were invited
to something special and everybody’s dressed up,
they go away feeling amazing about themselves, and what
do you think they talk about every time the name CSI comes about? They talk about how amazing the party was and I hope I get invited to the next one. And they are your PR agents. And when you make so many
people feel so amazing about themselves, I just think nature has a way to return the favor. And there’s so many amazing
things that happen at CSI that, from my perspective,
are unexplained. Just great things happen. Why do they happen? I have no idea, but I
do know that it’s just because of all of our friends. All of our friends all across the world. I mean, wherever I go, the deference that the profession accord me. I’m going to Seattle,
to Vancouver next week for the EERI conference. I’m taking my band. We have a band, by the
way, Ashraf All Stars. (audience laughs) I’m taking my band. An engineer has to have a band, right? You can’t be an engineer without a band. Yeah, I’m taking the
Ashraf All Stars up there and taking all 400 EERI
Seismic Design Competition contestants to this amazing party. We’re gonna have dinner, we’re
gonna dance past midnight, and they’re from 40 countries and then send them away feeling
amazing about themselves. So, I think that’s what life is about. So, if we can learn that
real early in the game, that life is about people,
you’re gonna end up way ahead on the curve and I
think that’s what I feel has happened at CSI. Nobody leaves CSI. People have been, it’s a
software development company. I have people working at
CSI that have been there 15, 20, 25, 35 years,
with no plans to leave. It’s, again, the serotonin factor, when you make people feel appreciated because it’s more than money to know that they have value on a personal level, as a person working for the company. And know that when they
would be in trouble, the company will stand by them. When you know that when
the company makes money, they will make money. People come work on the weekends. I never tell them to,
they just come and do it because they know that if the company does well, they will do well. But that’s all the human level. That’s what all this human
psychology and this human engineering is all about and it bothers me that we’re forced how to
learn how to read and write, but knowing the fact that
every person that we deal with is a human being, why is it
not mandatory for us to learn something about human
psychology or how our human chemistry works? Because all feelings are
chemical and if we know how our chemistry works, maybe
we’ll be more understanding about how other people
feel, but more importantly about yourself. So that’s, I mean I could
go on this thing for hours, so don’t get me going. – Okay, any other questions?
– Anybody else? – [Murtada] Hi, my name is
Murtada, I’m a sophomore. So, I’m sure you’re aware
of the hyper-competitive atmosphere at Berkeley and
lots of other universities, so what would you say to students who, every so often, find
themselves being surrounded by brilliant other students
and wondering if they would ever be able to reach
that level themselves? – You talking to me? My God, when I came to campus, it was completely intimidating. What about that? I deal with it everyday. I’m no genius. And in know that because I
deal with people that are geniuses on a daily basis. It takes me 10 hours to learn something, which takes many 10 minutes to learn. But the beauty about it,
when I had put my time and I had learned it, nobody
knows that it took me 10 hours. Besides, I can get out
there and talk about it with my lighted jacket,
which they don’t have. (audience laughs) But, you see, so it’s yes, you’re right, but what’s there to be intimidated about? It’s like, I used to have this roommate. He would come do his math. We were taking this course, called Solid Mechanics, by
McNiven, Professor McNiven. And he would come home and do
his homework in 10 minutes. My roommate! And then, basically, I haven’t
even read what the question is and the guy’s got it already done. I mean, how is that amazing for your ego? But, I dealt with that and he’s somewhere. He ain’t got no lighted jacket. (audience laughs) Hey, these lighted jackets are not cheap. My latest one has a thousand lights on it. Its $18 a light, so it’s
$18,000 just for the lights, plus another 10 grand
because these are all controlled by a digital controller, where you can change the patterns and things, you know? (audience laughs) So, they cost money. You know it’s a software developer, right, doing my jacket design. So, of course, you know, when I say, “they don’t got no
jacket,” it’s a big deal. But that’s, again, there’s
things that you have to offer that others don’t
and that’s why if you think you’re not as smart,
take the easiest courses and get the heck out of there,
you’ll have the same degree, and then you go get yourself a
lighted jacket and do things. But, all kidding aside,
it’s just something that is part of life. There are a lot of competitors. People look at software, even
in structural engineering, software, it was very
competitive for many many years. And look at us. We were Fortran developers. Everything I learned at
Berkeley was in Fortran. Okay, so come the 90s,
Windows came around. For those of us that Fortran
program and then also know what Windows is, it’s a
completely different language. It’s like and it happened overnight. Whenever we would go to
trade shows, talk about our incredible numerical methods
and things like that, people said, “that’s
wonderful and everything, but what about Windows?” We knew nothing about
Windows, so we had to learn. It was a decision point at
that point, in the early 90s, do I retire or do I learn Windows and get this thing on track? And we spent a lot of time, I spent five years learning Windows. We got our new product out very late, but because of our
friendships, people waited. Because of the fact that
they knew that when CSI produces something, we are
gonna have their backing. We’re not in this business,
yes, we’re in this business to make money, but that’s
not the only thing. I love doing what we’re
doing and the reason I will continue to do it is because
it’s the same old thing that when you hire people,
just for the money, they’ll do a good job,
but when you hire people that believe in what you believe, they will put their blood, sweat, and tears into what they do. And even when money runs out,
they will continue to work. Those are the kinds of
people you want to hire and those are the kind of
people we have at CSI. So, it’s just one of those
things that you will deal with and you will come out amazing. You have that belief system, I think, and with the human, see
this human engineering thing is so amazingly powerful. Like, a lot of these
companies, by literally the dozens, have come and gone. I’ve been around two
and a half generations. I plan to see all of you guys enter retirement, so don’t you worry. – Alright, Ashraf, that you so much for sharing your wisdom with us. (audience applauds) UC Berkeley really has been fortunate to be the beneficiary of your generosity in words, in spirit, and in deed and we have a small
token of our appreciation that a student would like to
present to you here today. It’s a Berkeley Engineering jacket, which I hope you will light up. – Thank you so much, thank
you, really appreciate that. Thank you. – Thank you so much. (audience applauds) – So, thanks to Ashraf’s generosity, ice cream sandwiches are
available outside the auditorium, in the Kwame Atrium, so we’re gonna get a sugar rush, as well as a serotonin rush and oxytocin rush. – Can I just say one last thing? Can I have a picture with all of you guys outside in some form or the other? So, please, just don’t run
away, take a picture with me. – Yes, please join us in the auditorium. Thank you all and go Bears! (audience applauds)

Posts created 40981

3 thoughts on “View from the Top: Ashraf Habibullah, Computers and Structures Inc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top