Normally this is where I say something. Or try to argue two sides of an interesting issue. Instead of doing that today, I just want you to spend 7 minutes watching an informative video about the future, with “Solar Freakin’ Roadways”.
Tag Archives: Inspiration
Is Islam a Peaceful Religion?
This question may incite thoughts and feelings that you don’t want to think about right now. That’s ok. I don’t mind if you don’t feel like confronting this question at this moment. But shortly after the beheading of a British soldier in London on May 22, 2013 by individuals justifying their actions in the name of Allah, the Oxford Union society held a debate on this very question. They decided that they felt compelled to talk about it their feelings.
More than 450 Oxford University scholars and community members gathered for a debate, with arguments presented by six speakers- three that propose that Islam is in fact a peaceful religion, and three that do not. The speakers would have their time, to speak their piece on the subject. These people came with the most noble of democratic intentions – to hear reasoned arguments for and against something, to determine their position from the arguments poised and their own experiences, and to vote for or against the motion as they saw fit.
I am inspired by the individuals who had the courage to defend their beliefs, the individuals with the courage to question, and by the people that found it worth their time to spend an evening engaging in serious self reflection. Most of all, I am thankful for the Oxford Union for discussing topics that cause us to question our beliefs and actions, for keeping the masterful art of debate alive. Continue reading
Throughout my education, music and performance have played a pivotal role in my development. In high school and college, I was a full time student by day, and a full time performer by night – often juggling rehearsals for two concert bands, three choirs, a solo performance repertoire and a musical or two. Stylistically, this breadth of performing opportunities grounded my appreciation for music in several genres, from classical music, to jazz, to popular music today.
Particularly for classical and choral music, I marveled at the intricacies and beauty of 100 voices singing with perfectly aligned vowels to achieve sounds conceived by great men like Beethoven hundreds of years ago. Great men like those classical composers are on a whole other level. They hear in their minds the wisps of great master works and somehow have the ability to condense that to paper in a digestible form for the artist to recreate. All these great men don’t just exist in history. Eric Whitacre is one of the most lauded composers of our time, and I consider to be a great, possibly the greatest of this generation. Continue reading
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
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]
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.
Michael Martin – From a Marketing Strategy to a Global Movement
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.
Design Thinking – Mauro Porcini, Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo.
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.
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
The Overview Effect is a phenomenon experienced by a large number of veteran astronauts, who traveled to the moon and stars searching for answers to ancestral questions about who we are, what is our purpose, and what is our destiny. They were so focused on what was “out there” that it never occurred to them how breathtaking, how awesome, fragile and how perfect their home would look from mankind’s newest vantage point. It is this profound moment when they began to feel an overwhelming sense of inter connectivity, of unity, or purpose. That we are all part of one ecosystem, and that may have been the most important discovery of the journey. Fair warning: this post will get deep.