In this blog you can find the latest updates from the professors and students of the Masters in Corporate Communication, Master in Digital Journalism and Master in Visual Media.

The Entrepreneurial Story

Written on January 25, 2016 by jnelson in News

Last week the 2015-2016 Master in Visual and Digital Media (MVDM) had a session at the IE Venture Lab. As part of the practical, project-based component of the academic course for the MVDMers, this was also an opportunity for new start-up concepts within the Venture Lab to pitch their various entrepreneurial ideas with hopes working with one of the seven work teams that make up the MVDM group. Essentially, the entrepreneurs pitched, we (the MVDMers) voted on the concept we would most like to work with throughout the semester, and finally we were paired with teams. Although this is just the basic itinerary of the evening, a few things about entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial spirit stood out to me.

First, to say that the range of ideas presented on the evening was wide would be an understatement. We heard pitches from enterprises that had every type of characteristic you could think of – from digitally based to product based, from finance to culinary – through a sliver of the scope of what modern entrepreneurship has to offer, we saw an ample range of possibilities presented in just a few hours. But how, how can there be so many entrepreneurs loaded into one building? Is this really an organic environment for innovation, and if so, why are we of value as budding specialists in all that is communication, digital, creativity and media?

My preliminary conclusions are telling me this — entrepreneurship is not an engrained trait, nor is it solely the skillset of persuasion. One thing that it seems quality entrepreneurial ideas have in common is not even this buzzword of “innovation”. The common factor is closeness to a process. There appear to be a few things, innovative-mindset, detail-orientation, peripheral vision, flexibility, resilience, and other traits of concepts that mesh together to tell a story. An environment that promotes the formation of such a story will find success. Realization that as students in a course defined as Visual and Digital Media, one of our greatest assets is the ability of means through which narratives and journeys might be creatively expressed is of unexplainable importance to the entrepreneurial process itself, adding value for those telling their story and those who ultimately listen. In the end, an average story that is well-communicated can be far more valuable than a good story that is poorly communicated.

Now my group is working with ShareMad, a digital sharing platform for surfing and potentially other sporting equipment. Alongside some talented MVDMers, these promising start-ups will have much to tell in the coming months, look out for it!



What happens next? #IEWeekend

Written on November 20, 2015 by kiszivath in News

Hi candidates,

It was a pleasure to meet all of you in the past #IEWeekend fall 2015 edition. I am a current an IE MCC student, but this was my first IE Weekend as well. After all, I need to tell that I had an awesome weekend meeting all of you, you guys made the event a success.

We had sessions of creativity and innovation, up to one were we learned about entrepreneurial opportunities in the technological world. I was totally amazed by all the products you guys were able to create, putting into practice the class of the Prof. Peter Bryant. Nothing is better than learning by doing, and I can confirm that besides diversity, this is the essence of IE. 

Let’s not forget “The Paella Challenge”. So many chefs! For me, as a judge, was a tough decision. Let me congratulate once again the PaeIE Team for winning, and of course, having the best paella!

I hope you guys liked the IE experience: diversity, learn by doing, and work hard but play harder. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. So, what happens next? Apply to IE!

Until the next!

Suzanne Kiszivath

PS: Enjoy a recap from the weekend!

12273062_10153401831709331_897417250_n 12277198_10153401811979331_1340890703_n 12278213_10153401812024331_2117758803_n

12272954_10153401812219331_848612674_n 12273002_10153401812239331_68222914_n

12278293_10153401812319331_1137889852_n 12277246_10153401812464331_622410744_n

12167895_10153401812509331_1044118897_n 12243822_10153401812299331_410642491_n

12277315_10153401812499331_634790965_n 12272625_10153401812559331_1260809570_n

12248724_10153401812349331_1922076266_n 12272709_10153401812364331_1599996184_n

12248689_10153401812604331_1325416504_n 12272553_10153401812594331_357933036_n



IE Weekend – The Weekend In RevIEw

Written on November 19, 2015 by jnelson in News

A day after the completion of my second IE Weekend experience, I wake up before the sunrise to sink my nose into some tasks with alarmingly close due dates. Stopping to reflect on the fact that just last November I was awestruck with the prospects of attending IE and living in Madrid, it would be an understatement to say that I am a bit mind-blown to have the opportunity to actually reflect in this way. This affordance of a perspective that allows me to compare perspectives and views on all that is the IE Experience from both sides of the glass is truly valuable in that connecting with those participating in the IE Weekend this past Friday and Saturday did not in any way feel like a task, or an active practice. In reality, I felt very much like an attendee, transposing my year-old experience into the fresh, novel experiences of this year’s IE Weekenders. Fully immersed within my new capacity and role as a current IE student, oddly enough the weekend evoked strikingly similar sentiments in comparison to last year. Sure, this is the second year in a row that I have sat through Professor Andrew McCarthy’s creativity workshop (3rd time in 12 months to be honest), but it felt as captivating and novel as the first time I stepped foot into IE. Last year I was a prospective, aspiring student, and now I am a full-time and fully active member of the IE community—so how could the core of this event feel so analogous to last year?


That’s when it started to make sense – the essence is in the experience. Although I may be in a different position, things appear as clearly as ever. Maybe I am biased, as the paella competition was rather life-changing in my opinion, but the IE Weekend experiences seem to be pushing forth from an already high standard of representing what the IE Experience purports to be. I am just glad that I have 9 months left to experience it!


Until next time,


Jonny Nelson

Enjoying the IE Weekend with fellow IE fellow, Suzanne Kiss

Enjoying the IE Weekend with IE fellow, Suzanne Kiszivath



Anxo Peréz: Linguistic Prodigy. Be True to Your Vision

Written on November 11, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

Anxo Peréz is the founder of 8Belts which is an online service to allow people to learn Chinese in 8 months. He is well known as a language genius that he speaks multiple languages. He is also the author of 88 peldaños del éxito. Today, he tells us the essence of how to take a leap of faith to build your own life.

foto libro - Anxo Portada


1. First of all, for those who are not familiar with you, let us know more about you. You are well known as a polyglot. How did you get interested in languages so much?

AP: I am just a humble apprentice that still has much to learn. I became interested in languages when I was a child. However, my interest wasn’t what was important, it was the fact that I realized that language teaching constituted one of my oil wells. However, I’d like to stress that my abilities aren’t better than everyone else’s, they’re just different. As soon as I discovered that one of them was languages, I decided to strengthen this ability as much as I could. There are two ways to increase one’s value in the world. One is improving the bad. The other is taking advantage of the good. The key to success isn’t found in the first one, it’s found in the second.


2. When you speak different languages, what happens in your mind? Does it feel  like you’re a different person?

AP: Anxo Pérez is Anxo Pérez, whether he’s speaking Gallego, Spanish, Chinese, or English. It’s just like how you continue being yourself making lunch and writing an article for a blog, a person is the same person no matter what language they’re speaking. Me communicating with someone in one language or the other doesn’t matter. The important thing is that we communicate. I feel the same way in every language.


3. You often encourage people to take  action. Are you naturally an outgoing person or did you have a specific episode that changed you to become proactive?

AP: When I was fifteen, I realized that I wasn’t making the most of my talents and I decided to move to the US so I could better take advantage of them. While there, I was able to develop my language-learning and musical abilities. If I hadn’t decided to incite change at that time and in that way, none of the wonderful things that have happened throughout my life would’ve ever happened. Actions have strength. Not one thing in the world around us has come from someone’s indifference.

The world isn’t moved by people with ideas because everyone has them. The world is moved by the few that are willing the do something with theirs. This is why I defend the standpoint that there’s magic in action.


4. What was the motivation for you to help people learn Chinese in 8 months? Why it was Chinese instead of any of the Romance languages?

AP: Because I couldn’t find any other language that was as distant and useful as Chinese. I wanted to dispel the notion that Spanish speakers aren’t good at languages. If we were able to demonstrate that anyone could learn Chinese with the proper method, why couldn’t we speak any language, like English, in the same amount of time?

Our mission is to demonstrate, to Spain and to the rest of the world, that there aren’t any “bad” ways to learn, but that there are ways to teach that can be improved.  When people don’t learn, it’s not their fault, it’s the method’s. If you teach properly, everyone learns. Even Chinese.


5. How do you make yourself outstanding in such a competitive market: language learning?

AP: You can’t achieve more than anyone by doing the same as everyone. We offer a different method where there are no classrooms, no books, no teachers, no exercises, and no tests. We also offer different results: you learn to speak a new language in just 8 months. If you don’t, you get your money back. Up until now, we haven’t had to return anyone’s money, not even once, because 8Belts doesn’t work 99% of the time, it works 100% of the time.


6. For most people, it is very scary to take a leap of faith to change their own life. How they can get out of their comfort zone?

AP: With monotony, you don’t suffer, but without risk you don’t grow. There are circumstances in which life puts a “dare-to” moment right in front of you. In such a case, you have two options: stay in your comfort zone, the safe place where you’ll never suffer, or launch yourself into the unknown. If you choose the second option, you may win or lose, but you’ll always grow.


7. What would be the first thing that someone could do to change their life?

AP: Incite change. Do things that you’ve never considered doing, play a new sport, learn a new language, talk to people that you never thought about talking to,… shake things up and observe the repositioning of all the pieces that make up your current situation in life. Action is magic, and shaking things up multiplies your magic’s impact.


8. What is the most important thing you have ever learned in your entrepreneurial life?

AP: Be true to your vision. When you begin a project, there are a thousand people that “advise” you to stop, they say that it’s not worth it, or that you should give your idea a 180 degree spin to “make it better.” Resist these temptations. Accept advice, but always stick true to your project.


9. If you could make a call to a 20-year-old Anxo Perez, what kind of advice would you give him?

AP: Don’t let a day go by without getting closer, even if it’s just a little bit, to achieving your goals.


10. If you can leave one message to make the world a better place, what would your message be?

AP: Chase your dreams…


YouTube Preview Image




Every Weekend Is An IE Weekend

Written on November 11, 2015 by jnelson in News


Frazzled, groggy, and anxious I step off of the Ryan Air jet, hoping that my first moments in Spain are smooth ones. Touching down at 9:15, my interview at IE Business School was in only 45 minutes, and I had not even yet lifted myself from my window seat. All the while, seething with anticipation, I sipped down a quick coffee and rushed to the bathroom – just after the Spanish officers eyed my passport and permitted me to pass. Hurriedly dressing in the bathroom stall, I felt as if I was racing against time. Could I have really forgotten all methods of tying my tie in this crucial moment? Maybe it was the fatigue. After all, I had been up since 4 AM in order to catch the bus from Limerick to Dublin which finally got me to the airport. Either way, time was not particularly on my side, and I had about thirty minutes to fix myself up, catch a taxi, and get to Maria de Molina 13 in decent fashion.


In my overconfident and underdeveloped Spanish – which I had hardly used in a year – I got in a taxi and directed my good man at the helm to my final destination. Buttoning my cuffs and straightening the ever-problematic tie hanging precariously skewed around my neck as the taxista weaved through mid-morning Madrid traffic, I pondered what the next hour of my life might have to offer for my future endeavors. Deepening in thought while conversing about Real Madrid, we passed Avenida de America and I was scaling the steps to MM13 before I knew it.


As flustered as I was, I remember thinking how smoothly the past 12 hours had gone to get me from Limerick, to Dublin, to Barajas, to Maria de Molina – and at that moment, I knew things were on my side. From then on, I might have had one of the best weekends of 2014. Enamored by the aura of Madrid and captivated by the quality of the people with whom I was interacting, I knew IE was a place that I needed to be, no doubts whatsoever remained in my mind. Friends that I connected with on the IE weekend are ones that still remain as I traverse Madrid and the IE experience throughout this year. As a stepping stone—a platform—into my real IE experience, I would have to say the enamor remains. The allure of uniqueness, opportunity, and a life-changing experience has only been scaled to appropriate proportions. The contentment and the gratification felt on that one weekend has been amplified into a year of prospects, and I couldn’t be happier. From the IE weekend to the full IE experience – I was privileged enough to get a glimpse into what life might be like a year later. Now I’m living it, and I am loving it.


IE Weekend Welcome- Suzanne

Written on November 5, 2015 by kiszivath in News

This girl over here is me, Suzanne Kiszivath.


I am a Puerto Rican doing a Master in Corporate Communication (MCC) at the School of Human Science and Technology (HST).

I am glad to welcome all the IE candidates into the IE Weekend that will be held this 13-14 of November in Madrid. A year ago I was going through the same process deciding on what to do with my life and how I can enhance my professional career. Let me tell you I still haven’t found an answer BUT I decided to take control and push myself into a new amazing journey called IE.

The IE Weekend is an exciting weekend where you will taste the essence of what means to be at IE. Being an IE student combines the awesomeness of living in the beautiful city of Madrid (no doubt you will fall in love), live a unique experience of diversity (while studying with young professionals from around the world) and have professors that are gurus in their fields.

I will be with all of you during the weekend so feel free to ask me questions about IE, life experience or just about where in the world is Puerto Rico ;)

Let the fun begin!



Suzanne at Toledo (city that is 2 hours away from Madrid)


Start-up yourself: A lesson from the author of Start-up Nation

Written on May 19, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

If you have worked closely to the startup scene or if you read many books, you may have heard a book called “Start-up Nation” Saul Singer is the co-author of “Start-up Nation“, one of the most famous books about innovation. Today he shares with us how he has innovated his Life.



06.02.2009 - Author and journalist Saul Singer. Photo:Ariel Jerozolimski

1. For those who are not familiar with you let us know more about you. How did you get interested in journalism and writing?

SS. I started in journalism when I moved to Israel 20 years ago, working for a newspaper called the Jerusalem Post. I have no training in journalism, but my background in policy, from staff work in the US Congress, prepared me for writing editorials and eventually my own weekly opinion column.

2. When you write something, what happens in your mind? You know what you want to write from the beginning or you articulate it gradually?

SS: I find that ideas come from writing, rather than writing from ideas. Good writing usually requires clear thinking, but writing is often an important means to clarifying thinking.


3. What was the most difficult thing when you published your book? How has that experience changed your life?

SS: The most difficult thing was to invest a lot of time and effort without knowing whether anyone would actually see the result. The book completely changed my professional focus. Before the book I mostly wrote about strategy and politics. I have since become immersed in the much more interesting and exciting world of innovation, particularly, how countries become innovative. My travels to many countries to speak about the book have opened my eyes to the changing global map of innovation.


4. When you start something new, there are so many unpredictable things. Looking back, what did allow you to take a leap of faith?

SS: Ignorance helps. If I had thought too much about the chances of a book becoming successful, I might never have written it. All entrepreneurship involves a suspension of disbelief. Daniel Kahneman has written about the paradox that the most successful people have an essentially irrational approach toward assessing risk, and that progress and growth seem to be driven by such people.

5. Through your research and experience, what does make some people think differently?

SS: The main barriers to thinking differently are social and psychological rather than individual capability. Water likes to take the easiest, well-worn, path and so do we. I think that creative people don’t necessarily have more ideas than anyone else, they are just more driven and willing to stray from the well-worn path.


startup antion


6. What is the most important thing you have ever learned in your life and why?

SS: Victor Frankl was right; the greatest human need is for meaning. Most people are trying to make their life easier, but that’s not where meaning comes from. I know of only three sources of meaning: spirituality (belief or struggle), relationships (family and friends), and work (paid or not; what we do to have an impact on the world around us). We should be trying to bolster all three sources of meaning in our lives as much as we can.

7. When you hear the word “successful”, who is the first person come to your mind and why?

SS: It takes a lot of courage to actually do anything. I admire people who can build companies that change the world. I also admire people who can help one person at a time. Sometimes that takes even more courage.


8. What does “life” mean to you?

SS: Life is the pinnacle of creation. We are entering an age when we have to discover and re-discover what it means to be human. We are living in one of the most exciting moments in history. In this century, human life is changing faster than it ever has, and maybe faster than it ever will be.


9. If you make a call to 20-year-old Saul Singer, what kind of advices you would give to him?

SS: Get more experiences. Get out of your comfort zone. Educate yourself by building things and learning from people, not just in schools. Study stuff that you wouldn’t normally touch outside of school, like great literature, philosophy. Find ways to force yourself to write more often because that’s the only way to learn how to write – and other forms of creative communication.


10. If you can leave one message to make the world better, what would be your message?
SS: There so much that needs to be done; finds something that matters to you and do it. But in order to get stuff done, you also need to build your own character (see The Road to Character, by David Brooks). We often forget that part.


YouTube Preview Image




The Entrepreneurial Design

Written on May 14, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

Jack Schulze is a Principal at BERG, a design consultancy based in UK, and co-founded the company in 2005. He obtained his MA from the Royal College of Art in 2006, where he worked on physical products connected to the web and new behaviours for mobile phones. He is a world-class profound and conceptual thinker. Today, he tells us about how he has built a bridge between the design and business.




For those who are not familiar with you, let us know more about you. How did you start BERG and what was the moment that you determined to pursue it?
JS: I founded BERG with Matt Webb and Matt Jones. We decided to pursue it as a means of producing culturally relevant work in the technology sector. We also realised that the most significant artefacts of our age were connected products, and amongst them, those that included media the most powerful of all. We became determined that we should make our own piece of connected consumer electronics, manufacture and sell it.


You had entrepreneurial experiences before BERG. What has cultivated your entrepreneurship mindset?

JS: Entrepreneurship was a necessity. There are no business models for small companies manufacturing consumer electronics in North London. Mostly business is a flat, dull and uninventive pursuit by people in companies waiting for Californians to eat their breakfast and kill their markets. Experimental business models were all we had.


When you founded the company, BERG, what was the most difficult and challenging thing and how did you overcome it?

JS: Because we were unfunded, we had to overcome the costs of a brand new product to manufacture by bootstrapping the development to our consulting business. This creates a duality in motivations for the business which is very difficult to maintain. We managed it through solid internal communications and by billing very well in our consulting. Secondly, we lost quite a few core staff to Apple, which is hard too. Hiring is hard when you are small.


How do your entrepreneurship spirit and artistic mind work together?

JS: I’m not sure there is really a separation. I regard most of the artistic or creative pursuit as the core value that the business leverages for income and sales. So there is no entrepreneurship without the art. In some sense, design can be understood as a hybrid between entrepreneurial activity and artistic aims.


What would be the skill-set that would help artists to gain more business opportunities?

JS: Understand tax law, runways, P&L and know your worth when engaging business relationships. Especially with large companies. Ironically, traditional artists are under absolutely no illusion that they are part of a very lucrative market. It’s only the technology sector that artists resist commerce.


What is the viewpoint or perspective that artists have but business people do not have? How business people can apply that perspective to business?

JS: Business people cannot apply artistic instincts, because they don’t have them. The best thing they can do is put power in the hands of people with a cultural understanding. But they rarely do. Consequently, the best place for artistic or creative endeavour in the technology and media sectors is amongst the many floundering, panicking businesses run by ageing white men with no strategic grasp of their own markets. This panic and flux can create some remarkable opportunities for really inventive and commercially successful work.


When you design something, come up with new ideas, experience Eureka, what happens in your mind?
JS: Ha, good question, and one for which I’m afraid I have absolutely no idea. I can’t remember having any of the ideas that have emerged. I will say that lots more successful ideas emerge when I’m involved in the technical and cultural front end of making and prototyping. You have to be building things to understand the potential of the technology and markets you want to occupy.


If you can make a call to 20-year-old Jack Schulze, what kind of advices you would give to him?

JS: Learn to write C. Stop talking and start making.


If you can leave one message to make the world better, what would be your message?

JS: Big companies are bad at making the world of stuff that we live in. You can make things better, so make them.



Art Chooses You

Written on April 26, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

Bryan Callen is an American comedian and actor, who has starred in Hangover 1 & 2. He also hosts his own Podcast show, Bryan Callen Show. People often associate successful public figures with the fame and money instead of learning something from them. We got an amazing opportunity to learn from him about HOW TO CREATE YOUR LIFE.


bryan callen


First of all, why did you accept this interview offer, which is not as huge as mass media that you are accustomed to?


BC: I’ve never had an agenda. I’ve never been motivated by popularity. I’m more motivated by substance, and I think that also I very much appreciate anybody. I suppose it’s always thrilling to me to make a connection with anybody from somewhere else. And if I can have an impact on, then it is great. Interest and Passion. Those are the things that I pick up on, even in emails sometimes, which was I found from you a little bit.


What motivates you is passion?


BC: Yes. I love motivation, effort, and interest. It doesn’t matter if you have 1 million twitter followers. If you’re a young person just trying to get ideas out there, I like your idea. I like what you’re trying to do. We spend a lot of time fighting for something, but we lose anyway. I don’t think winning is the point. I think the point is to reach. The point is to try. Become a better person if you try.


What was the reason for you to be an actor/comedian/performer, and what kind of difficulties did you have, and how did you overcome then?


BC: I didn’t necessarily choose it but it chose me. I don’t think anybody should be an artist. It chooses you. It takes a great deal of work to refine and to distil your expression. I think that an artist’s life is actually a life of discipline. Learning where to place your energy. There are a lot of artists that have not-so-disciplined lives, but sometimes they’re disciplined. Art chooses you, and it’s up to you to listen to it. Somebody says, “Mom, Dad, I want to play piano”. “Mom, Dad, I want to be an actor.” “Mom, Dad, I want to be a comedian.” “I want to be a painter.” And parents, even my parents, would say, “No, you’re crazy. Don’t be crazy.” I knew that was going to happen and they were going to be worried, but I knew also that if I didn’t do that, I would be a small person and a coward. I felt like I wasn’t going to be listening to the true me, my primal urge, who I really am.


Very interesting. So it just naturally happened?


BC: Yes. An artist never has any satisfaction. The great dancer and choreographer, Martha Graham said, “An artist’s job is not to judge his own work, it is to keep going and to do it”. You will always have a sense of queer dissatisfaction, always a sense where I didn’t get it right. Even me, I think of how many people laugh. Sometimes it needs to be better.


Most of our lives we have been polite. Look at the Japanese society. The Japanese says, “You have to be very polite. Protocol, manners, discipline, all these things are very important but we are all different. When I’m on stage, I can say what I want, I can be who I am, I can move the way I want. Do you know why they laugh? It is because they recognize that inside of them. They come to say, “I feel just like that. I didn’t know it until he showed it to me, but I’m laughing because he surprised me. I’m laughing because I recognized it for the first time in me.” That’s what I think great writing, great art does.


When you write a script, what kind of process do you have in your mind, in your brain?


BC: When all these people are laughing, I forget when I wrote it, or how I wrote it, or why I wrote it. I’m always surprised at how it all come together. How did it come together over two years? How? I don’t know. Writing, painting, and singing, it’s an act of faith. I believe that the song or story already exists. It is already somewhere up there. It is up to you to keep showing up and channel it through you. Keep showing up in faith. Anything you try to do, when you’re an artist, it’s an act of faith. I know I can do it. I know it’s there. I have to keep showing up every day until it reveals itself, until it shows itself through me. I’m not making it; it’s coming through me. I think it’s a much better way to look at life.


I don’t like when artists take pride in their own work. It is not yours. You happen to have the certain wiring. Whatever happened, you channeled it through you. Why do you make art? Why? For girls and money? No. It is to make the world a better place; to remind the world of what is possible. Remind humanity that there’s a much higher level.


We as people should be reaching beyond ourselves. We are not the measure of all things. Sometimes when you read a great story or see a great movie, you cry. It’s because it creates a feeling in you that’s bigger than you are. It humbles you, and you realize that there is something beautiful, bigger, and all encompassing. You are overwhelmed by the beauty in the world. This is what I think the ultimate goal is. This is all I care about.


I’m not that great man, not even close, but at least I can try to surprise and to shock myself with my work at the end of my life. For what? It is just because I can. Maybe it will make the world a better place. That’s what I love. This is my god.


What are important criterias when you make a big decision?

BC: Usually, you know what you have to do. A big decision is not a big decision. A lot of times, you know the answer and the rest is denial. The difficult thing is how do I do it? I don’t think there are big decisions. What do I do if I want to quite my job, and I want to become an actor, but my father always wanted me to be a doctor? He paid for medical school. How could I be an actor? My father paid for law school; I’m supposed to be a lawyer; otherwise I’ll shame my family. You know the answer. The big decision is how do I tell my father? How could I disappoint my friends and family? That’s the decision, but I don’t know if there are any really big decisions about what you’re supposed to do. You know what you’re supposed to do. There are hard decisions sometimes but for the most part, you know the answer. Human beings are afraid of their own greatness. A lot of great athletes when everybody is looking at them, and they are supposed to perform, they give themselves an injury to take the pressure off.


In the 21st century, there are many people who are materialistically abundant but are not fulfilled. How can they get fulfilled?


BC:You can have everything materialistically. I know so many people with money, who are very successful, who fly first class, drink good wine, or have a nice view. I think there is a certain catastrophe to success. When you get successful, you see a luxurious life: nice clothing, house, status, reputation. These things can make you fat: spiritually and physically fat. I don’t think they are the answer but the struggles and challenges are. Putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation where you don’t know if you can do it or not makes you better at something. You know, human beings have a need for safety and certainty. I know I want to have a house. That’s very important, but you need some uncertainty and some adventure. You need to live in a world where you’re not sure what’s going to happen next. When people come back from war, it is hard for them to adjust. Why? Because of the adrenaline of not knowing what’s going to happen next.



What is the most important thing you have ever learned in your life? In terms of whatever, what is the most important thing you have ever learned?


BC: Learn what not to think about. Learn what not to do. Don’t worry about what to do. Most people are doing lots of things everyday to ensure their own failure. Learn what not to think about. Here is a good question: “If I knew I could never fail, what would I want, and do?”. Now you’re starting to ask the right questions and your body will start to move in that direction. Don’t think about who doesn’t like you. Don’t think about what could go wrong. You have to be critical and analytical. Everybody should make a “not-to-do list,” not a to-do list. There is a law of subtraction, not addition. Don’t worry about what to add to you. You don’t need to add anything to you. Learn how to get everything out of the way. Look, when Michelangelo carved the statue of David, he looked at the marble and said, “It’s in there already. I just have to know what to take away from it. I have to know how much stone to get out of the way.” Human beings are the same way. Your perfect self is already there. Learn what to move out of the way. Don’t worry about adding. Learn what to move and what not to think about. Learn what to move out of the way.


So the point is to make yourself simple. Then, you can reach a better quality question that will enrich your life.


BC: Yes. We are always thinking along the lines of safety. I think Schiller said, “Man is never more himself than when at play.” What is play? Play is not cocaine and hookers, no. Play is what you would do for the sake of doing it. What you would do just for it. I would do comedy regardless. I don’t do comedy to make money. I make money now, but I don’t do it for that. I never did it for that. I love making people laugh, or hearing people laugh. Everything is okay. I’m never going to be a professional, but when I get better, I learn to move my head. You know, stuff like that. I feel like I’m learning something that’s very difficult. That’s play. Play is to be free. Play is what you do when you are free. That’s what you should think about. What would you do anyway? What would you do if you made no money? What would you do if it didn’t come with any status? What would you rather be doing? I’m not saying you shouldn’t do a job like be a lawyer or a doctor. I’m not saying you shouldn’t make money. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a good job with healthcare. If you have it, there is no problem. Have something else that you are passionate about. Have something else that that makes you feel like you are also enriching your life.


If you can make a call to 20-year-old Bryan Callen, what kind of advices you would give to him?


BC: I would say, “You are enough. Learn what not to think about, and the things that you really want to do. Do the best of your ability. Do it with good faith and with patience, and know that if you keep showing up every day, you will be satisfied and fulfilled. I don’t know if you’ll win a trophy; I don’t know if you’ll make lots of money, but you will be fulfilled, and you’ll like what you see when you look in the mirror.


If you can leave one message to make the world better place, what would be your message?


BC: I think the world is so incredibly diverse and different, but I do think that all of us should strive for freedom of expression. I believe strongly in meritocracy. I just believe that all of us should be striving for individual freedom, personal responsibility. Our governments should be governments that facilitate that privilege, that human right. We don’t have countries with institutions that protect property rights, individuals, and minorities; whether they’re women, gay people, or whatever they are. When you marginalize people, you erase their potential and weaken your country.


It is very important for all countries to provide safety for the gentler spirits, artisans, and your innovators. It’s important to protect the rewards that come with that kind of effort. If you don’t, you will not have a better way to do something. The truth is freedom. The truth is expression. The truth is letting people do what really matters to them; letting people come up with a better way and rewarding them for that, protecting them, and allowing them to do that. Freedom comes with responsibility, but take the responsibility. That’s how you make the world a better place.


YouTube Preview Image




The Art of Learning

Written on April 14, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

Roger Schank is one of the greatest artificial intelligence theorists/learning scientists in history. There is no doubt that his theories and approaches became the foundation of artificial intelligence today. Now, he is the President and CEO of Socratic Arts, designing and implementing low-cost story-based learning. He has contributed to reforming the education system in order for children and young people to learn what they truly want to learn instead of memorizing information given by schools. In fact, he founded the Institute for the Learning Sciences (ILS) at Northwestern University in 1989. He is also well known as an author of “Dynamic Memory: A Theory of Learning in Computers and People” and The Cognitive Computer: On Language Learning and Artificial Intelligence


roger schank


1. For those who are not familiar with you, let us know more about you. How did you get interested in artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology?                                                                                                                                    
I first encountered computers in the early 60’s when I was in college. In those days you had to submit your card deck and wait 24 hours for it to come back to you. Many times mine came back with: “a semi-colon is missing” as an error message on the print out I received. I can’t tell you how annoying this was.

If the computer knew a semicolon was missing, why didn’t it just put it in? This started the beginning of my hatred of computers. They were always stupid and difficult to use. This didn’t (and doesn’t) have to be the case. I decided to work on making them better.

My first thought was that we should be able to just tell them what we wanted them to do. But spoken language would be a hard problem. I thought it might be possible to get them to understand typewritten English, so I spent the first years of my research life trying to figure out how computers would understand typewritten sentences. It was only a matter of time until I inevitability discovered human memory.

People can actually understand sentences easily enough, but they can’t without a experiential memory that enables them to relate what they are hearing to what they already know. I was trying to get the computer to hear a sentence and say what it meant without actually knowing about the world. This made no sense I soon realized. So I began to work on finding out what people know about the world, how they represent what they know in their memory, and how they change their memories in response to new experiences. This led me into a career in Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science. I became less interested in making computers better, although I am still very interested in that. But, I became more interested in figuring out what makes people intelligent, and how people learn, than I am in getting computers to learn. So, that’s how I got to be somebody who is focused on human learning.
2. What has motivated you to empower people through teaching, writing books, giving speeches, responding interviews?

It’s a normal part of a professor’s job to give speeches about his work, and to write books about his work, so, of course I was always doing that. But, things changed when I switched from artificial intelligence to education. We all went to school so everyone thinks they know about education, but there are a lot of powerful forces in education that are trying to preserve the status quo even when the existing system is so obviously dysfunctional. I learned this in an important way when I was giving a keynote address at a conference about teaching reading. I was actually starting to yell at this audience of education professors about why they had allowed reading education to be so bad, when there was so much relevant research about how learning to read actually worked. How had they allowed the school system to teach in such a wrong way? They told me that they all knew about my work but the problem was that the book publishers were determining what went on in education, not me, and not them. This made me very angry.

My concern for children’s unhappiness in school and the bad education they get that often leads them nowhere in life is what motivates me to write about education and talk about education and give interviews about education.

The general public has to begin to understand something that academics may well understand (but it doesn’t matter) which is that the school system is not for them. No one cares about them very much. It’s about the publishers making money and governments making sure their students become good citizens and behave well and do what they are told. The publishers and governments simply do not care if children enjoy school or are excited about learning. So, it’s my anger about the system that is in place that causes me to run around the world and trying to talk to people about the kind of changes we need to make.


3. When you start reforming the education system, you were already successful in the field of academy and business. What was the major reason to start it and why do we need to reform the education?

As a successful professor you get to teach what you feel like teaching. This usually means your own latest ideas. Early on, I realized that most students weren’t interested in whatever I had thought up that morning. They were there to get good grades and graduate and move on. Nothing I was teaching them was relevant (except to the odd student). I began to see the academic system as fraudulent, and I realized that I was a big part of it.

Most people don’t realize how insidiously bad the education system is. They accept that they went to school and studied some subjects and passed some tests and then they went to university and eventually they found their way. For those who do find their way by doing that, that’s fine.

But there are a lot of people who would have liked to have been doctors, or business people, or marine biologists, but had trouble with algebra and so they never could get into the right schools. What does algebra have to do with being a doctor? Nothing. The system requires algebra. No one remembers why. A student could try practicing to be a doctor, if that’s what interested them, when they are little kids, using a simulation. They could see if they really wanted to be doctors. People go to law school and discover that they really don’t want to be lawyers. They could have tried lawyering in high school. But we won’t let them do that. Many people get so frustrated in our education system that they drop out even though they’re very talented because they just can’t stand all the tests, the boredom, or the pressure. I have met many very intelligent people in my life who have had very difficult lives because the schools treated them badly in one way or another. I know a guy who works as a personal chef. He is very smart, but he just hated school so he dropped out. He likes being a chef. But he is frustrated knowing he could have done so much more.

Some people do well at school but that doesn’t help them either. I know somebody who was very good at school and did terrifically. She could get A’s on every test. She memorized every book. But she never got an opportunity to be what she really wanted to be, because nobody ever asked her or showed her the opportunity that exist in this world. So, she just took the courses that she was told to take and end up being a teacher which she hated. School should be about finding out who you are, not about “doing well in school.”

School has become a kind of contest. The losers are mistreated, and the winners don’t know what they have won exactly. Students are cynical about school. They have figured out that its about getting letters after your name. If you decide to go to business school its because you think someone will hire you if you have an MBA after your name. School has become about credentials, about getting letters after your name. Most students know that they can do the minimum amount of work and get degree and it will all work out all right.

But I’d like to see a school system that wasn’t a game that students were trying to win. I’d like to see a system where the professors in the best schools in the world (who are mostly into research) think their job is teaching a student how to do something (other than their own research.)

I want students to be able to express their interests and not all have to take the same subjects that everybody else is taking. School has come to be about academic knowledge for everyone when academic knowledge is not all that important to the average person.

I didn’t want to be part of this system that failed to treat students as individuals. We can do better, so I quit being a professor and became a revolutionary. (Being a professor pays better.)


4. When you have some idea that would potentially deny existing authorities such as the education system, people are often hesitant to take an action. If you have a huge idea, what would be your first step to make a change?

Changing the school system is more or less impossible. I’m aware of that. We are not going to get any school to decide to do things differently. Professors want to teach the courses they have always taught. They don’t want to work harder at teaching to move into a mentored, learning by doing, model. They would rather lecture despite the fact one can rarely remember a lecture one has heard.

The major impediment to the change we need is money. The change that I’m looking for is not going to happen overnight, but there is hope. The hope is that the frustration of the people will eventually be heard. The people tend to win when they complain enough to the government.

Governments around the world are beginning to hear the complaints. This is part of the reason that I am happy to do these interviews. I want more people discussing why things are the way they are. I want students to complain that the lecture/test system is bad education. No one learns how to do something they want to do by listening to lectures. They just try out doing things and they ask for help. We need to implement that model of education: do it and get help.

The government won’t provide that because book publishers don’t make money that way, and test makers don’t make money that way, and teachers would have do something different and many would resist.

But that doesn’t mean that the average citizen can really do anything about it. There is only one answer about how to make the changes we seek: money. We need to get money to build the alternative. I’ve gone to Congress in United States to ask for that money and it made them laugh. I’ve gone to rich people to ask for the money we need and they usually say that they don’t really care about education.

With enough money we can build individualized, learn by doing, mentored, education that allows anybody anywhere to learn what interests them. If you want to build airplanes, we could teach you to become an aerospace engineer even if you live in a small town in Spain. You don’t have to move to Seattle nor should you have to try to get into the University of Washington (in Seattle.) We could build a very nice elementary school or high school aerospace engineering curriculum and you could practice building airplanes anywhere in the world working with experts and other kids around the world to build airplanes and have fun building them. You could learn all about writing, and speaking, and negotiating, and planning, and diagnosis to deal with anything that might come up while you are designing your plane. Some kids would have a jolly good time doing that. We have to build that aerospace engineering curriculum (and hundreds of others) and make sure some school system somewhere allows kids to take those curricula.


5. It seems to be difficult for people living in developed countries to take an alternative education for fear of being isolated by others or having disadvantage when looking for a job. What would be the first step to change the education system drastically to let people learn what they truly want to learn?

Actually I am not sure that developed countries are the first place to make educational change. I built an alternative first grade for my grandchild in Brooklyn and my own daughter would not let him attend. She and her friends are all very fixated on making sure that their children will get into Harvard and they will do whatever Harvard dictates, which is, of course, the standard set of subjects, courses, and tests.

What college you went to matters a great deal to people in developed countries. People put up with anything because of that. I think the place where I will be successful are the countries in say Latin America, or maybe Africa. Those kids are not going to Harvard (or its equivalent) anyway and they really would like to get a job, and develop businesses, and learn how to live in a healthy way, or raise their children well, or learn new skills. We need to go where learning really is more the issue than credentials. As long as credentials are the first thing people think about with respect to education I can’t have an effect because I’m not a credentialing authority. So, first, we need to find a country that really cares about its people and really cares about improving the welfare of its citizens.

The first step is simply providing courses that lead to jobs. We have been doing that in the US and in Spain with online “boot camps” that teach technical skills such a programming and data analytics. We teach you to do those things in a learn by doing fashion with mentors. There is a great need for these skills. If you need programming help you will not care too much about what degree someone has. You will want to see what they have done. So, we need to make our own certification in areas in which there are more jobs than people with the skills to fill them.


6. For the majority of people, motivation for learning is to get a better job and earn more money. Does this truly help people learn something and make the most of their potential? What does the ideal environment for learning look like?

To find the ideal learning environment look at any good home. Children do what they feel like doing, play with toys they have, or are engaged in various activities with their friends, or try out new things. Kids play and they learn. The parents role here is to make sure the kids don’t hurt themselves or do anything dangerous and to be there when the kids have questions. Being there to help as needed is all there is to understand about good education at home.

Intelligent parents could spend all day with their children and it would be a great learning experiences for the children. But, school exists for two simple reasons. First, parents want to be rid of the kids for a good part of the day while they go to work or just to do something other than deal with their kid. Second, not all parents would know how to do this well.

Learning is about doing what you feel like doing and getting better at it, or trying to learn how to do something new. This can be done in any good home. What school does is give you a set of activities that you probably don’t care about.

Who wants to memorizing all the rivers of Spain? In the US every kid must memorize the state capital of each of the 50 states. What for?

School is not about learning to get a job and has never been about getting a job. This wouldn’t be so bad if kids didn’t actually go to university because they think it will lead to a job. Instead of teaching job skills, universities sell the idea that you’re an ignorant person if you don’t know all the kings of Spain, or all the capitals of Europe, or if you don’t know what Cervantes wrote. This is especially true in Spain where intellectualism is very highly valued by the elite. Intellectuals put down people who don’t know what they know. University education is about being able to feel intellectually superior, not about job skills. What’s really going on in school is memorization and trying to not look like a fool by acting like an intellectual. It’s never been about jobs. It should be about jobs. MBA programs are about jobs but, even there, theory is emphasized over practice most of the time. Learning should be fun, and is fun when you are not in school.

The ideal learning environment provides choice, help when you are frustrated, experts who are available to you and achievable goals that have been set out for you that align with your interests. School rarely looks like that.


7. Many people tend to attempt to select a “correct answer” from given options. This tendency makes them suffer from understanding what they want to do with their life. How can you find things that you truly love to spend your life for?

My son was a kid who knew his goals. When he was ten he was utterly and completely fascinated by subways. He visited the subway system of any city I took him to as a teenager. When he went to college he asked me what I thought he should major in. I said ‘subways.’ (He had already chosen to go to college in New York City, which, of course he loved because it had a great subway.)

I didn’t need my son to fulfill my dreams for me. I only wished for him that he could find his own dream. Subways seemed a weird choice, but who was I to say? He thought that majoring in subways was an odd idea but as a college professor I knew it would be possible to do this in some way or another. But, this is not the point of my story.

My son is now grown and works in Washington D.C. as the head of a transportation policy organization. He has called me three times in the last days to discuss a choice of two jobs that he has been offered. He has asked everyone he knows it seems for their advice on which (or neither) to take. Many people with serious knowledge of his field and about politics have offered their counsel. They often mention which would be a better career move for him.

The problem with all this advice is that it assumes that they know who he is and what he wants. I have been listening to him all his life and I know that his real question is which of these jobs is on the path to running a subway system. This is not the question that his advisers are answering because they don’t understand him or his real goals.

Understanding your real desires is the most important step in making decisions in your life.

The real question, for a teenage student is what they want in life. Nobody can tell them that. But, we can help them seek answers.

We can help students figure out their path in life. As an exercise, they could write down five things they want in life. (Not “money” or “power” or “love.” That is stuff they have been told about or have read about but can barely understand.) They should write specific things they would like to do at some point in their lives.

Now ask if they know about those things really. You can’t say you’d like to be a lawyer if you don’t know what lawyers do on a daily basis. If you think you want to be a lawyer you must spend some time in a legal office and see what goes on there. My students at Yale often told me they wanted to be lawyers. With a little prodding it was clear that what they knew about being a lawyer came from television shows.

Next, have them write down what their parents want them to do in life. Ask them to make a specific argument as to why their parents might be wrong. They do not have to be wrong. They might be right. But one needs to think about the other side of any issue in order to really understand it.

The point here is to help children know how to justify their choices in life beyond just following a path mindlessly. School doesn’t try to help kids set goals, and therein lies the biggest mistake that schools make.


8. Normally, schools teach you only “what to think”(subject) and not “how to think”. How can you learn “how to think” to enrich your life?                        
When my grandson Milo was six and we were talking on the phone, I asked him if he’d learned anything interesting in school lately, and he told me about how the rhinoceros is an endangered species. We discussed this a bit, and my reaction was to teach him that one person’s endangered species was someone else’s food. So on my next trip to visit with his family, we ate kangaroo, elk, wild boar, rabbit and pigeon (not all on the same day). Milo loved them all.

I visited him again some weeks later and he handed me a piece of paper. It was a letter collectively written by the kids in the class to all their parents, asking for a donation to the Save the Rhinoceros Fund. He had addressed his copy of the letter to me (and as an afterthought, it seems, he included his mother as well). I asked him why he was asking me for money for the rhinoceros and he said it was because we had discussed it.

I am against indoctrination of any kind in school. Besides which, I can think of a lot more important social problems to be concerned about than dying rhinoceroses. But this was part of his classroom’s “science,” you see, so they weren’t talking about social studies at the same time.

I may be morally opposed to indoctrination, but I am profoundly in favor of Milo learning to think hard, so I gave him five dollars for the fund. (His mother had earlier refused. That’s my girl.)

I added that he could keep the five dollars for himself and buy whatever he wanted with it or he could donate it. It was his choice. His eyes lit up. He said he was confused about what to do. I said it was his decision.

The following week I learned that he kept the money.

What else is there with respect to learning and education besides conversation that challenges you to think hard?



9. If you can make a call to 20-year-old Roger Schank, what kind of advices you would give to him?

As you can tell from my answers to your questions I am pretty angry about the situation in education in this world. All my life I’ve been angry about one thing or another. I was angry about how Artificial Intelligence was being approached when I first encountered it when I was young. I was angry about how linguistics ignored the mind when I was working in that field. I was angry about how psychology was only about experiments when I was working in that field. I was angry about how universities function when I was working in them. If I could go back and talk to my 20 year old self I would suggest learning how to be more of a politician and less angry. I doubt I would listen.


10. If you can leave one message to make the world better, what would be your message?

Stop teaching. Parents don’t teach their children, they help their children follow their interest. Stop talking at people. No one is listening. People listen only as long as it takes them to have their own ideas and then they want to react to what they heard.

Start having conversations and stop teaching.


YouTube Preview Image
1 2 3 17

We use both our own and third-party cookies to enhance our services and to offer you the content that most suits your preferences by analysing your browsing habits. Your continued use of the site means that you accept these cookies. You may change your settings and obtain more information here. Accept