July 20th, 2013 by Ken Categories: 4) Other No Responses

Adri and I had played around with sailing catamarans in recent years. This year we decided to really learn how to sail. We leased a time share Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37-footer from Pinnacle Yachts. We froze our butts as we took lessons in May, but at the end we were handed the keys to MoonDance, sailing out of Monroe Harbor. The weather has not been great so far, but we’ve found one or two beautiful days for sailing.


















Ken on Mac race day at Chicago Yacht Club

Ken on Mac race day at Chicago Yacht Club














Adri enjoying a sail on Lake Michigan

Adri enjoying a sail on Lake Michigan



Chicago skyline from MoonDance

Looking back at the Chicago skyline from about two miles out.

Progressive Computing, Inc.

June 27th, 2012 by Ken Categories: 4) Other No Responses

I consulted for Tom Blog’s start-up while he was still holed up in his apartment creating one of the first PC-based wide area network (WAN) protocol analyzers. At the time, I was living in West Lafayette running my consulting business and teaching at Purdue’s School of Technology.

When Tom finished the product and had some initial sales, he  wanted to build a team. In 1989, I moved back to Glen Ellyn and became VP of Marketing, joining Bob Everhart running sales and Tom Stelter as President. I was accountable for product management, pricing, distribution and marketing.

Under my leadership, we increased prices and focused on building more niche-driven specialty products for which we could generate more pricing power. This led to our “LM1 Olympic Edition.” ISDN tel/scope ISDN analyzer and CompaSS7 SS7 analyzers that drove profitability and complemented the original more volume-driven flagship analyzer, the LM1.

I ran our international distributor network. One quirky accomplishment was that I wrote a help system in C that could plug into the executable so that Tom’s engineers didn’t have to be bothered with writing help screens. We used that to translate the products into French and German which gave us an edge in those markets. At the time we sold the business, international contributed about 40% of our revenue.

We had pursued a project to develop an ISDN terminal adapter (the “tel/adapter,” a PC-based ISDN telephone) and won the PC Magazine Editor’s Choice, which was a big deal back then. It was a tough choice, but we divested it to Digi International so we could focus on the protocol analyzer business in which we had our core advantage.  The funds from that sale helped us accelerate our growth.  We also launched a patented, hand-held protocol analyzer called PocketScope that operated via the parallel port (remember those?) of any PC-compatible computer.  This product won “Product of the Year’ honors from Data Communications Magazine, further credentializing the business, not to mention our marketing communication chops.

We sold the business in 1992 to Network General (later: Network Associates) having increased sales five-fold in 2 1/2 years. We correctly anticipated the convergence of WAN and LAN testing. The value of our $10m in NGC stock quickly grew as NGC’s stock price soared from $9 per share to $40-something.

From Chicago, I served a one-year employment contract as Director of WAN marketing, managing the now branch office and spearheading the integration of the PCI product line into the Network General product line and authored the firm’s WAN strategy. One of my product managers, Bakul Mehta, relocated to Menlo Park and eventually became president of the Sniffer Technologies division until its spin off in 2004 as a reborn Network General.

In 1993, I decided to ‘retire’ to focus on home life (Soren and Eric, at the time 9 and 11), involve myself in the local school system via school board leadership and pursue musical interests. I did occasional consulting for projects related to the Progressive Computing experience, but ultimately NGC phased out the WAN analyzer software products and closed down the WAN operation around the time of their own acquisition by Network Associates.


June 14th, 2012 by Ken Categories: 2) Writing, Overview No Responses

Here’s an overview of my books, articles and other published work. I’ve had three books published by major publishers, as well as numerous articles. Check out amazon to learn more. My recent thought leadership is focused on the use of commitment-making in strategy- and project- execution.

Making It In High Tech Sales

Making It In High Tech Sales

Making It In High Tech Sales was published in 1989

Still in print, and still has its fans out there. I wrote it because as a sales manager at the tech companies I sales-managed, I could not find the skill set I needed in software sales reps for packaged software. Its main contribution was a focus on needs-based selling, managing technical evaluations, and avoiding role confusion in the customer experience of the selling process. I wrote this before Strategic Selling and ‘SPIN Selling’ came on the scene. SPIN selling especially was a big advance on my idea of focusing on ‘problem-solving’ value. Today it is mostly serves as a primer for newbie sales reps which is exactly what it was targeted as.

The book had a difficult first year in that Time had bought Scott-Foresman and had it on the block, and it did selling the division to Harper-Collins shortly after the book was published. It was common knowledge in the channel and accordingly the stores weren’t ready to stick out their neck until they saw what the new buyer had in mind for the catalog.

I did some speaking and training engagements with Fortune 1000 firms based on the positive reviews and modest following the book garnered.

Expert Systems Programming – Practical Techniques for Rule-based Systems

Expert Systems Programming by Ken Pedersen

Expert Systems Programming was published in 1989

Expert Systems Programming – Practical Techniques for Rule-based Systems came to fruition based on research I did as part of my association with mdbs in West Lafayette, IN. The firm was run by several Purdue professors doing bleeding-edge research on the use of production rule systems in business. The firm released Guru, which was the most complete PC-based expert system development tool up to that time. I was with mdbs as retail and international sales manager. It became pretty obvious that the product was ahead of its time and no one really knew what to do with it. I ended up leaving mdbs to start my own consulting practice specializing in expert systems. I served as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Purdue while doing the research that led to this book. The research began as a high-priced study comparing and benchmarking the PC-based expert systems products of the time. I created a methodology that claimed to establish an approach to develop ‘well structured knowledge bases’ analogous to the concepts of ‘structured programming’ in fashion at the time.

The book was a success in its niche. Among other things, it was a featured title in MacMillans Technical Book of the Month Club.

During this time, I also had several interesting consulting the projects. The most interesting was working with Waste Management in Oak Brook, IL helping them vet and prototype expert systems ideas. The most valuable of these was a system to assess waste sites for dangerous signs of methane build up. This required some expertise and they sought to distribute at least the core of that expertise to a larger group of practitioners. Given my marketing and sales background from the 1980’s, I also had several clients whom I did marketing and sales consulting. I eventually joined one of them, Progressive Computing, which was the end of my artificial intelligence career. This turned out to be a good move as rule-bases were integrated into more generalized environments, and the minor bubble in AI stocks collapsed when the three or four big LISP machine manufacturers saturated their market in the early 1990’s.

Using WordStar 2000

Using WordStar 2000

Using WordStar 2000 was published in 1985

Using WordStar 2000 was published by Que Corporation which was the leading publisher of software how-to books at the time on the strength of their title Using 1-2-3.  WordStar 2000 was the heir apparent to the original WordStar by MicroPro International in San Rafael, CA. I wrote the book evening and weekends while heading their midwest sales region. Right at the time Using WordStart 2000 was to be published, I got an incredible offer to join Ashton-Tate (of ‘dbase’ fame) to build a midwest sales force. The two firms somehow considered each other competitors. My solution was to publish the book under the pyseudonym ‘Eric Sorensen,’ created based on the name of my two sons Eric and Soren.

Using WordStar 2000 was the best selling book I ever had, tied as it was to the sales of the software product itself. WordStar 2000 the software product had a two-year run as a contender, but eventually WordPerfect and finally MSWord spelled the end of the product and several years later MicroPro sold to Spinnaker Software.


May 25th, 2012 by Ken Categories: 3) Music, Deja Views, Overview, Walden No Responses

I began composing music in the mid 1990’s as an outlet and avocation. Here’s a summary of my work.


In 1997, I set myself to record a CD based on Walden, authored by Henry David Thoreau. I had no commercial aspirations and the music I think shows it. The CD is reflective, introverted and generally not too interested in impressing the listener. My goal was to follow where the ideas might lead. Many of the tracks are based on improvisations I reworked into through-written pieces complete with written score.

Walden CD cover

Ken Pedersen’s Walden was released in 1998

Walden was released in 1998 on my own label Symark Records. I decided to send it out to some of the prominent (at the time) New Age publications and reviewers. I was surprised to find a good reception. In short order I had a distributor for the alternative music and book store market and received some nice published notices. Subsequently I received a good amount of alternative radio play as well. Walden was noticed enough to be named on the ‘Top 50 CDs of the Year’ by Backroads, and it made a brief appearance on the New Age Voice music charts. Walden found a niche in the Thoreau community and is still sold at the Shop at Walden Pond.  I was invited there to give a concert based on my Thoreau improvisations which was a highlight of the whole adventure.

With the positive feedback I was receiving, I decided to composed and record a second CD which I called Deja Views. The idea was to take well know claasical tunes as a basic for each track and to explore them in a New Age sensibility. Given that I had gotten some modest commercial success, my goals for the project included exploring if I might be able to open more commercial doors with this recording. Recordings like the Mozart Effect were doing well and the using of classical themes like those from Pachelbel were a familiar way to engage an audience.

Deja Views CD cover

Ken Pedersen’s Deja Views was released in 1999


With Deja Views, I used acoustic samples to accompany my piano and also collaborated with Judy Stone on cello for two of the tracks. There are more upbeat tracks (for new age music, that is) and in general the music is a bit more outgoing. Indeed the CD did find an audience. It was in the Top 10 on the NAV charts for six months, charted as high as #3 and appeared on NAV for nearly a year. My distributor was able to place Deja Views in many of the music chains including Borders and Tower Records nationally.

The record also was popular with radio, with over 600 stations playing it. I was featured on a number of programs and even had recorded audio FAQ on which I recorded answers so that radio hosts could conduct a virtual simulated interview with me. This was played in Chicago, Cleveland and on the Voice of America radio among other stations. In recent years, both Deja Views and Walden have been picked up by digital radio, with DMX and Sirius among its biggest recurring players.

The attention this CD received led to some discussions with several New Age labels that had international distribution, but they didn’t come together. Record stores were feeling the impact of digital competition. They started reducing SKUs and New Age music was one of the first to be cut deeply. Luckily, makes it possible to offer both the physical and digital versions of the music, not to forget the impact of itunes as well.

The Heart Aid Project was released in 2002

Ken Pedersen’s ‘The Dance Left Behind’ was included in the Heart Aid Project

Heart Aid Project

In 2002, I was invited to contribute a track to a compilation by the name of The Heart Aid Project. The CD was part of a fund-raiser for 9/11 survivors. Other composers include great names like Ray Lynch (“Deep Breakfast”), John Boswell (“Trust”) and Robin Spielberg, Michael Hoppe, Suzanne Ciana, and Windham Hill’s Ira Stein. The project was put together by Spring Hill.


April 14th, 2012 by Ken Categories: 1) Professional, Overview No Responses

Two themes in how I approach professional life in the dimensions of Clarity of Purpose and Commitment. On this page, I discuss my thoughts on ‘Clarity of Purpose.’

Clarity of Purpose

Execution is more important than strategy. Strategy ideas are out there for the finding. Indeed, the noise around strategic thinking is overwhelming. You get started in one direction and next thing you know someone or something is advising you of the better New Thing you should be doing.  So, for me, the trump card that drives value is to identify the One Thing that customers care about that you can do best, and then relentlessly organize around that.

You can count the number of seeds...

When you do that well, you discover the world of details that matter and you master them so the Your Way becomes second nature. When you do it with clarity of purpose, you evolve from ‘flavor of the day’ to a unique, rarified French sauce. The serving you worried might be too small becomes a world of rich opportunity. It is amazing how much opportunity lies directly before us if we slow down our gaze. Organizations need the rudder of Clarity of Purpose to avoid flitting from one thing to another.

This is the perspective I bring to my work whether it is marketing-, execution-  or IT-related. I look for the Clarity of Purpose and organize to cut through the noise. The opportunities get bigger and bigger as our world seems less and less able to focus deeply.