What does Joel Leonard do?

Forgive me for making this post a personal elevator speech, but since my family, friends, classmates and industry contacts have expressed confusion about what does a Maintenance Evangelist do, I figured that this may help clarify and unearth more supporters once more understand the efforts underway to advance our cause. Over the years at Thanksgiving dinners, when my family of doctors, patent winning engineers and successful business people, would poke fun at me being the Maintenance Evangelist, it became quite frustrating because despite all attempts to explain no one fully appreciated what I am doing. Then after getting a few verbal jabs at recent at a high school reunion our former class president said, "What does Joel Leonard actually do?", I realized that this post and perhaps other explanations may be needed. To put in simplest terms possible... I am working to help build the next generation of skilled technicians. This has become much more than a job but my life's mission and most of my activities I receive no compensation but are done because of the importance of the cause. When I started this effort over 10 years ago, telling people about the pending maintenance crisis was like banging my head against the wall. I was making lots of noise but no one understood, or believed me the urgency and seriousness of pending challenges and the need to apply immediate action in developing solid pipelines of qualified technicians to replace the exiting boomer workforce. While serving as the Vice President of the Association for Facilities Engineering, www.afe.org, we received numerous trend reports, labor projections and future needs analysis that caused concern for the future talent. Then after attending the SMRP Conference in Nashville in October of 2002 and witnessing Bob Baldwin former editor of Maintenance Technology Magazine poll the audience of 600 of the nations reliability engineers saw that 80% were planning to retire within the next 10 years. Afterward I stepped outside in 30 degree temperatures to stretch my legs after sitting down all day, and saw at the Nashville Convention Center a line of 5000 young adults standing in line for audition to get on American Idol. Later that evening I discussed my discovery with other conference attendees while consuming a few barley infused beverages. Then I had an epiphany, telling engineers that we need engineers is not going to fix the problem. Writing a book will not fix the problem, because the people who need to hear of this issue, will probably not read a book or magazine. So I said we need to write a song. My associates said that is a good idea but you can't do it. Well they said the magic words that inspired me to not only write a song but to prove them wrong. So ten years ago I penned the lyrics of the Maintenance Crisis Song and then Greg Stockton encouraged a hobbyist musician and professional thermo-grapher,Harley Denio of Oregon Infrared to put my words to music. Thus the creation of the Maintenance Crisis Song.See the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJJ_zFvAS1M Then after releasing the song at the National Facilities Management and Technologies Conference (NFMT.com) in Baltimore in March of 2003, several in industry said I needed an operatic version, and a hip hop version if i wanted leadership and kids to hear the song. So then went on a band recruitment effort of trying to convince quality musicians to perform the song in different genres for free. After several years of begging and pleading was able to get 9 genres recorded including Operatic, HipHop, reggae, bluegrass, rock, blues, and even a gospel version. Then shared the songs with engineering conferences, radio stations and even had the opportunity to have Rock version played at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and played before US Congress at a workforce forum. The songs have been featured at the famed EuroMaintenance Conference in Brussels in 2008 and Verona in 2010. Also played at ICOMS Adelaide Australia Conference in 2010 and Helsinki MaintWorld Congress in 2011. The songs located on SkillTV.net can be downloaded for free and have been featured on National Public Radio numerous times. To help inspire more women to pursue careers in engineering and maintenance I also wrote another song called "Find Me a Maintenance Woman" Howard Penrose helped animate that song at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP2XjIiZusI These songs have been great recruiting tools and sources of pride for those in industry and have served their purpose of publicizing our challenges for more to consider pursuing the critical career paths of maintenance and engineering. I have another song in the works called "Dueling Departments." However, the songs are just a small part of the activities I have developed over the years. Please check back and read future editions of these activities so that you can leverage more tools to help elevate your career and help the industry fix it forward. Thanks so much for everyone's urgings to continue efforts to fix the maintenance crisis and all of your support to advance our cause.