Category Archives: Inspirations

Code Combat: Wield JS, Slay Orcs, Get Jobs!

CodeCombatNever has Javascript been more fun to learn. A startup venture backed by Y Combinator wants to teach you that language you’ve always wanted to learn through gameification – or the usage of elements of game design(e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play)- to enhance motivation and the learning process. Slay orcs and battle minions by programming your units in a real-time web game. Compete against your friends to see who wrote the more robust code. Possibly get a job for your efforts?  Welcome to CodeCombat. Continue reading

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Isaac Asimov and the Foundation Series

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’

Isaac Asimov is one of the most read, accessible, and prolific science fiction writers that has ever lived.  One might say he helped define the genre. He has written popular works on science and the history of science, as well as a number of science-fiction classics, including I, Robot (1950), and the Foundation Trilogy (1951-53). He is most well known for having written these series. I have recently reread the entire foundation series (six novels), and am reminded again as to just how groundbreaking these ideas must have been in his time. I highly recommend that if you are looking for a book, and you like science fiction, pick up one of Isaac’s. Continue reading

Posted in Art, Inspirations, Literature. Tagged with , , .

Ready Player One: And My Love of Video Games

220px-Ready_Player_One_coverReady Player One, written by Ernest Cline, consumed all of my available attention from start to finish. I was transported to a captivating dystopia where the real world decayed and the general population spent their lives jacked into the Oasis, a virtual reality world based on Video games and 80’s pop culture, searching for the fortune of the designer and creator, hidden deep inside.

Published in August of 2011, It quickly joined the ranks of the New York Times Best Seller list.  Warner Bros. bought the rights to the movie before the book was even published. The genuine writing style and nerdy characters quickly drew me in.  I felt like one of them. I got to relive aspects of my childhood long buried. I highly recommend the novel, to anyone who has struggled to explain how immersing themselves into an rpg or platform video game was a formative part of their growth as an imaginative individual. I will not spoil the book! Just want to talk about games and growing up. GO READ IT! Continue reading

Posted in Art, Inspirations, Life Lessons, Literature, Shifting Perspectives, video games. Tagged with , , , , .

John Kao – Mr. Creativity on Large Scale Cultures of Innovation

Kao_JohnA lot of companies are starting to have earnest discussions about innovation. My own company strives to build a “culture of innovation” making it part of the fabric of everything we do.  But what does that look like?

Dubbed “Mr. Creativity” by The Economist, John Kao calls himself an innovation activist.  He is chairman of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation, whose i20 group is an association of 30 national ‘Chief Innovation Officers.’  John coined the term “large scale innovation” to refer to innovation as a societal agenda.  He has advised numerous nations and regions on innovation strategy and execution, including Finland, Singapore, the City of San Francisco, Abu Dhabi and elements of the US government as well as the European Union innovation policy team.

And as the last keynote speaker at the World Innovation Forum, I got to hear his response to his corporate clients trying to build a culture of innovation.  With several wise words and a few musical performances, John earned his nickname and my respect. Continue reading

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Kairos Society – Tomorrow’s Leaders on Today’s Problems

"Innovation is about thinking outside thebox.  give them your insight and see what the bright minds of tomorrow come up with."
 

"Innovation is about thinking outside thebox. give them your insight and see what the bright minds of tomorrow come up with."

“Innovation is about thinking outside the box. Give them your insight and see what the bright minds of tomorrow come up with.”

Ankur Jain is the founder and chairman of the Kairos Society. The Kairos Society is an international, student-run, not-for-profit foundation based in the United States that brings passionate young entrepreneurs together from all over the world and asks them to tackle the worlds toughest challenges. Ankur doesn’t just believe that they can solve these challenges, he also believes that by fostering inside tomorrow’s leaders a belief that they will do well by doing good, that they will impact the quality of life for the global population on a large scale.  Continue reading

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George Whitesides – Virgin Galactic

"Only 541 people have been to space (total). Within two years we will double that number."

“Only 541 people have been to space (total). Within two years we will double that number.”

George Whitesides is the CEO and President of Virgin Galactic, the spaceflight company founded by Sir Richard Branson. Prior to Virgin Galactic, Whitesides served as Chief of Staff for NASA, where he provided policy and staff support to the agency’s Administrator. Upon departure from the agency he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award the agency confers.

During this talk at the WOBI conference I was just in awe. There isn’t much to say after a video like that. I am unbelievably excited that the view from space may be something I see in my lifetime with my own eyes.  Especially after my thoughts on the Overview Effect, I think it would do the world a lot of good for people to see the world as one planet, one ecosystem, and not a collection of invisible borders. Companies like Virgin Galactic are pushing the envelope of what’s possible, going where governments have not. Continue reading

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Man-Powered Helicopter Wins Sikorsky Prize

The Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition was established in 1980 by the American Helicopter Society (AHS) International to develop the first controlled flight of a human powered helicopter that meets a set of extremely challenging requirements. In summary, the requirements to win the AHS Human Powered Helicopter Competition include a flight duration of 60 seconds and reaching an altitude of 3 meters (9.8 ft) while remaining in a 10 meter (32.8 ft) square. The flight must be certified by a representative of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. On July 11, 2013, 33 years after the competition was established, the award was officially declared won when AeroVelo, from the University of Toronto, flew a human-powered helicopter that met all the requirements of the competition. [Wikipedia]

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Dan Pink – To Sell is Human

"Whether you are peddling cars in the lot or ideas in the meeting, increase your effectiveness by decreasing your power."

Dan Pink is the author of five provocative bestselling books about the changing world of work. I highly recommend his work, as it is easy to get through and extremely informative.  His talk at the conference was around His book, To Sell is Human, about the art of selling: what has changed, what no longer works, and how to sell in a world of information parity.  Check out the video after the break of the core concepts of his book!

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On Your Feet – The Art of Making it Up

"The secret to Improvisation is Co-Creation. Life is Improvisation, and creativity is the willingness to play."

“The secret to Improvisation is Co-Creation. Life is Improvisation, and creativity is the willingness to play.”

Gary Hirsch co-founded On Your Feet alongside Robert Poynton in 1996. His premise is that business leaders benefit greatly from the skills imparted in improvisational comedy – most notably the concepts of co-creation, acceptance, and “throwing away the script.”

In Improv, you can’t force your partner in any particular direction. You have to respond to what they say, and them to you, without any preparation beforehand.  This often brings unexpected results, and laughter.  The takeaways are so important! Everything in Improv, in business, in life, is an offer.  Continue reading

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Rebecca Henderson – Sustainable Corporate Values

 Rebecca Henderson- Building a sustainable organization, culture, and values

“For the last 50 years we have been focused on reducing our reliance on Labor and Capital. All we have to do now is put the same focus on reducing energy and material dependence.”

In a riveting display of her professorial skills, this co-director of the business initiative at Harvard University “schooled” me on the subject of her career’s research: exploring how organizations respond to large-scale technological shifts, most recently in regard to energy and the environment.

Her success stories, or companies that seem to have been successful in navigating potentially damaging changes to their business, have done so by talking about some previously taboo subjects in capitalism: their values.  She contends that because values are a powerful motivator, and positive motivation has shown to make employees 3x as effective, sharing corporate values could have very positive economic effects.

Industry must become more self-regulating, because national governments just don’t have the jurisdiction to propose meaningful protections everywhere they are needed.  Having clear corporate values can drive to this goal.

Johnson & Johnson has been putting values at the heart of its business model for over a century, and it has paid off. Even after devastating losses in consumer sales due to Consent Decree, J&J acted quickly and responsibly to recall products. Now that these products are starting to return to the shelves, they are finding that the Brand Loyalty has survived, in no small part due to the ethical actions taken to protect their customers, which they put first. When you are against the ropes at a moral fork in the road, there is a lot to gain from taking the highroad.

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