Category Archives: Blog

musings about new technologies, life experiences, and rogue ideas.

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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Texting and Driving Infographic

intexticated-teens

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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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Insights from World Innovation Forum 2013

A few weeks ago I attended the World Innovation Forum at the regal New York City Center, a two-day immersive look at what it means to build a culture of innovation, hearing from a broad range of speakers, across countless disciplines. From the experience, I came back to my work and personal life refreshed and invigorated, as is true of most conferences. I think what makes this experience truly unique is that unlike other conferences, Innovation is not an industry specific thing, and yet has become so widely desirable in so many facets of life. I found insights from this experience that I hope to carry across the broad spectrum of my creative endeavors, both personal and professional, and here, I plan to share them with you.

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Michael Martin – Vibram

Michael Martin – From a Marketing Strategy to a Global Movement

“We sold a product that went against everything we ever did in the industry, without a business model, that no customers asked for, that people initially hated, without spending a dollar in marketing.”

Michael Martin, General Manager of the Five Fingered shoes (you know, the “toe shoes”), shared his journey building a product that was doomed to fail according to virtually every conceivable measure of potential future success.

The company’s big break was actually deep in it’s history, when it sold the first rubber soled shoe, going on to supply the US military with all of its footwear. They had proven they could innovate once, why not again? As anyone in a large successful company can attest, it is a lot harder to innovate in a proven, successful market than it is at the start of a company when you have nothing to lose.

As if putting Mauro’s theory into practice, they relied heavily on their loyal customers to advertise their product for them. They have a website where their customers have made three minute videos about what Five Fingers means to them.  Suddenly, this confusing, unwanted product has evolved into the 2010 “Item of the Year” in the Plus awards for design excellence.  All of this is possible because they had the courage to stand by their idea, because of their experience with a young, unproven product. The courage to accept early failure as part of the road to future success is instrumental to building a culture of innovation.

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Design Thinking – Mauro Porcini

Design Thinking – Mauro Porcini, Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo.

“Innovating in Brand design is no longer about packaging and graphics, but about understanding people, and focusing on emotional needs of consumers.”

Mauro is a passionate, quick speaking, quicker-thinking visionary that has spent his career at the helm of several of the most iconic brands worldwide, first with 3M and currently with Pepsi. He really came with two talks (unfortunately for the timekeeper): one on the way he now views the role of Design Thinking in brand management for the next generation of marketing, and one on his path to design, finding himself through his role models and experiences.

From his remarks, his thoughts on overall brand experience rang true to me. He spoke about how the most successful brands are done with product packaging and graphics for their own sake, and are attempting to design your experience – how you and the product interact, and in turn, what the product says about you to those you care about. The most successful companies at this are those that are using marketing to build a story between your customers and their peers.  This bridge gives them the context to share what they like about your brand with others.

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Overcoming Obstacles: David Blaine

Nothing is quite as poisonous as the words, “you can’t do it.”  Those words are more caustic than tar, more debilitating than any disease, and have destroyed thousands of dreams. It’s not the words themselves; it’s just a sentence, an opinion, right?  It’s when the public ridicule of your resolve raises to critical mass, and becomes the mantra of the gloomy cloud of people that have already given up hope on their own dreams, and threatens to drown you out completely, that it becomes dangerous.  They start to convince you that, “maybe you can’t,” and it becomes clear that the emphasis on what we can’t do stifles our ability to “do the impossible.”

David Blaine doesn’t listen to these voices, even when the global scientific community insists that something isn’t possible. His insistence on pushing the boundaries on what’s possible can teach us a valuable lesson.  Sometimes, conventional wisdom isn’t true. Sometimes, failing firsthand is better than believing you are doomed to fail at the start. More on that after the break, but first, David Blaine, soft spoken and humble,  tells the story of how he learned how to hold his breath for 17 minutes.

http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/eng/id/741

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