Archive for the ‘News’ Category

17
Feb

LeWeb: Curation of great minds

Written on February 17, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

GeraldineLeMeur2015

There are thousands of conferences these days and it is extremely difficult to select the one, which is truly valuable to you. It is the art of curation of people. LeWeb, an international conference in Paris, brings more than 3000 entrepreneurs, brands, geeks, and press from 80 countries.  Do you know who organizes this great conference? Geraldine Le Meur is an entrepreneur and mother of 3 kids. She tells us the essence of event creation and her life.

 

C: For those who are not familiar with you, let us know more about you. How did you start LeWeb and what do you like to achieve through it?
GL: We’ve started LeWeb in 2004. Being Entrepreneurs in the Internet since 1995, the idea was not at all to start a conference business but to bring together Entrepreneurs from Europe and the US, in Paris to help them in developing their ideas, find partners. We wanted to gather them within a platform for success.

 

C: One of the most interesting aspects of LeWeb is selection of speakers: curation of people. What are top gauges to select speakers?
GL: Inspiration I guess, this has been Loic’s garden since the very beginning.

 

C: When you started LeWeb, how did you get great speakers and partners? To get great speakers, you need lots of visitors and sponsors. To get lots of visitors, you need great speakers. How did you leverage resources you had in the beginning?

 

GL: Authenticity is key. Sponsorships have never been linked to speaking opportunities. Loic is doing the content and I’ve been leading all the production & partnerships. Actually I prefer the wording partner rather than sponsor, because this is really what it is about. Companies supporting LeWeb are really part of the event.

 

C: If you want to organise a conference, what do you have to remember?

 

GL: Organization & Execution and you have to gather a core Dream Team around you aiming towards the same objective.

 

C: On the course of expanding the conference, what was the most difficult thing and how did you overcome it?

 

GL: We’ve learned step by step, so there was no real “difficult thing”. But you have to keep in mind that every year is almost like starting from scratch.

 

C: When you hear the word “successful”, who is the first person you can think of and why?
GL: I don’t like this word, it does not mean anything for me.

 

C: What gives you mindfulness in your life?
GL: My 3 boys they are what’s most important in my life.

 

C: If you start everything from scratch without any resource, network, capital that you have now, but only with your wisdom, what would be the first thing you would work on?

 

GL: Inspiration and believing in your ideas. Sharing your ideas with as many people as possible to get feedback. At the end of the day, it’s not about the idea, very simple things can be huge success if well executed.

 

C: If you can make a call to 20-year-old Geraldine Le Meur, what kind of advices you would give to her?
GL: Do it again but keep your eyes open…

 

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

 

GL: Dare.

 

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©Masaaki Hasegawa

13
Feb

Say what you want to say: Be yourself

Written on February 13, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

cindy gallop

 

Do you have courage to talk about something that others are hesitant to talk about? Do you mind what other people think about you? If you idea is related to sex, do you feel comfortable to talk about it in the public? Cindy Gallop IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn, tells us how you can make your crazy ideas happen.

 

How did you become an entrepreneur?

 

CG: Everything in my life and career has been an accident. I never set out consciously to do anything. I believe that when over time you get a sense of who you are, what you believe in, and what you value, your mission finds you. Now, I have two particular areas that I’m pursuing. If We Ran the World reflects my professional side, which is redesigned the future of business. My start-up, Make Love Not Porn, reflects my personal side, which is redesigned the future of sex. Those two things are interrelated.

 

What drove you to actually make it happen?

 

CGI’m a naturally action-oriented person. In the case of If We Ran the World, it is the culmination of my thirty years, working in marketing, advertising and brand building. I believe that the business model of the future is: shared values, shared action, and equals shared profit. When brands, businesses and companies co-act collectively and collaboratively on those values to turn them into shared action, it allows all of you to make things happen that will benefit consumers, society, and brand. If We Ran the World is co-action software that allows brands to integrate that into their marketing and business programs to co-act with their consumers. Make Love Not Porn, was triggered by personal experience. Through dating younger men I realized that today’s total freedom of access to hardcore porn online results in porn becoming by default the sex education of the day. When I realized this, I decided to do something about it. Six years ago I made a little website, at makelovenotporn.com. The construct is the porn world versus the real world. I had the opportunity to launch it at TED in 2009. It went viral and drove an extraordinary global response to it. I saw the opportunity to do exactly what I talk about. To do well and make money simultaneously, I designed, makelovenotporn.tv, around the same business mode. Shared values plus shared action equals shared profit. Makelovenotporn.tv is a user generated crowd sourced video-sharing platform that celebrates real-world sex. Make Love Not Porn’s mission is to change the way the world has sex for the better.We operate a revenue-sharing business model. Anyone from anywhere in the world can submit videos of themselves having real-world sex. We are creating a whole new category. We make sure that every video is real, authentic, and you pay to rent and stream real-world sex videos. Then we split that income fifty-fifty with our contributors.

 

What kind of process do you have in your mind, when you have some idea and try to make it a business?

 

CG: When it comes to innovating in business, I always speak about how important it is to redesign, restructure the way you do business and howimportant it is to redesign your business model. You cannot do new-world-order business from an old-world-order place. All companies are old-world-order places. Their systems, processes and structures are the process used to be linear. Today, everything has changed but the systems and processes, but the structures still have not. If you do not redesign the way you do business, you will get the same old-world-order crap. That is why you have to redesign the way you do business. I observe that too many people think that there’s only one business model per industry. This is the way the industry’s always made money, whereas your business model can be anything you want it to be. You can design it around the way you would like to make money. I urge you to start by thinking, “How would I like to make money?”

 

What is the essence of raising the awareness for startups and middle-sized companies?

 

CG: Everything that is true in business is also true in life. Never waste your time banging your head against closed doors. Engineer yourself into a position where doors open automatically as you approach. Everything starts with you that are both you the person and you the company. This is at the core of everything I do and believe in. “What are my values?” Then act on those values. Too many people look at the sector they are embarking on. “What are the rules of the sector? We must play by those rules.” They end up making their company like everybody else’s. In other words, they drive the syndrome that I call “collaborative competition”; which is where everybody in the sector competes with everybody else in the sector by doing the exactly same thing everyone else in the sector is doing. Opposite of that is when you know who you are, and when you operate according to your beliefs and values. That is genuinely distinctive because there’s only one of you in your company. That is how you make people want what you have. “We don’t sell, we make people want to buy.” Entrepreneurs and businesses should not sell but make people want to buy. I have never done one single bit of PR outreach for my startups or myself. The media coverage comes to us because we are doing interesting things. Other people are drawn to that and want to hear more. That’s how you promote yourself. On the other hand, competitive collaboration is, and this is not happening currently, when all of you in a sector come together and collaborate to make things better for all of you; on the premise of “a rising tide floats all boats”. It allows each of you to be uniquely competitive, Leveraging your own individual skills, talents, and standards. If you have a truly world-changing startup, you have to change the world to fit it. Not the other way around. For example, my team and I fight a battle every single day to build Make Love Not Porn because the small print always says, “No adult content.” This is a huge barrier to doing business. We find it very difficult to get funding. We cannot find a bank anywhere in the world that will allows us to open a business loan account, openly and transparently, for our business. We cannot putpayment systems, like PayPal, in place. Online video-streaming services won’t host us. So, what I’m doing therefore is engaging in competitive collaboration. I’m fightingfor publicly on behalf of every sex tech startup and everybody who wants to change the world through sex. My startup will benefit when I create a better environment for all of us. So I’m doing things that nobody else does in this way. I see competitive collaboration, which is the future.

 

What were the most difficult things to overcome, and how did you overcome it?

CG: The most difficult thing was fund raising. The biggest obstacle is the social dynamic that I call “fear of what other people will think.” It is always their fear of what they think other people will think. Fear of what other people will think is the single most paralyzing dynamic in business and in life. You will never own the future, if you care what other people think. This notion rules out two of the usual three routes that most tech startups go down for funding. First of all, it rules out institution investment, VCs. Interestingly, it also rules out crowd funding because successful crowd funding requires a very largenumber of people, willing to go publicly when they announce something and publicly invite lots of other people into it. People will publicly marry around a piece of hardware, a video game, a movie concept but not something about sex. Also, crowd funding platforms like, Kickstarter; operate a no-adult-content policy. So, it leaves a third route, which is angel investors, for us. Angel investors currently are not putting their hand up going, “I want to invest in sex tech.” Sex is the one area where you cannot tell from the outside what anybody thinks on the inside. Finding angel investors for us is a long, slow process because what I have to do is put the word out there. The biggest challenge was finding seed funding to launch it. It took me two years of pitching to find one angel investor who got it. After two years in public beta, I am just setting out to raise another round of funding.I’m setting out to raise $2 million dollars to enable us to scale. The process is going to be very slow and very difficult because of fear of what other people will think.There is a huge financial money-making opportunity in the sex tech that the most hardheaded investors or business people don’t understand. A recession-proof market never goes away. The huge financial money-making business opportunity that we are out to tap into is the huge money-making opportunity in socially acceptable sex. When you socialize sex and make it socially acceptable and shareable, you potentially double, triple, and quadruple your returns when you normalize people feeling okay about publicly buying into your goods and services. That is the huge trillion-dollar market we’re going after.

 

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When you have an idea which is difficult for people to understand, how do you convince them to believe in you?

 

CG: First of all, I’m a very compelling salesperson. So I tell a very compelling story and pitch. Secondly, if you don’t get it, you don’t get it, and that’s fine. If I have to try too hard to convince you, you’re not the right person to work with. If you’re not with us, that’s fine, because there are other people who will be. I’m optimistic that I will find people who will.Finally, stay away from people and places that make you feel bad about yourself. I realized very early on that, Make Love Not Porn was not a VC-funding concept. So I don’t pitch VCs. When you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t need to have any more thoroughly depressing meetings than you absolutely have to. Those are really bad, because they make you question yourself. Stay away from things that make you feel bad about yourself. To be an entrepreneur and be successful, you have to be, to a certain degree, delusional. One of my favorite sayings is, “Those people who say it can’t be done should get out of the way of those people doing it.”

 

Common notion should be altered sometimes.

 

CG: As you know, the tech world and the startup world are dominated by men. I mention that because people don’t realize this often enough. Fact of life, diversity drives innovation. True innovation is such that it is born out of many different mindsets, world views, and perspectives coming together in order to get to a better place, that none of us would’ve gotten to on our own.

 

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If you can make a call to twenty-year-old Cindy Gallop, what kind of advice you would you give to her?

 

CG: Don’t give a damn what anybody thinks. Be yourself. You’re not trying to be the person that your parents want you to be, that your teachers want you to be, and that your boss wants you to be. When you are simply being yourself, you stand out naturally. Honesty is enormously endearing because so few people are. Telling the truth is very powerful in business and in life because so few people do.When you really identify who you are, what you believe, and what you value, that makes life so much easier. Life will still throw at you all the shit but you know exactly how to respond to that, in any given situation. In a way that is true to you. That is fundamentally the secret of being happy. Knowing you’re living life according to your values, the way you want to.

 

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©Masaaki Hasegawa

 

11
Feb

The Future of Work: Working for yourself

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

In the past, “work” meant being in an office between 9-5 and devoting your life to someone’s profit. Thanks to the technological progress, we have so many options to to be an independent worker. Jacob Morgan is a futurist, and speaker. Also, he is the author of The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization. He tells us how he thinks and what kind of steps he has taken. 

 

Jacob morgan

 

How did you become an entrepreneur and futurist?

JM: The reason that I became an entrepreneur is that I didn’t like working for other people. I worked very hard in college to get good grades and I double majored so I could get a good job. After college, I worked for a couple of companies. However, the experience I was hoping to get from these jobs didn’t align with what my thoughts were. I used to work for a company in San Francisco. At that company, I won a free pass to go to a conference: the Web 2.0 Expo, a conference that usually costs $2,000 to attend. I said “I have this free pass to go to this conference, can I go?” They told me “No, you can’t go.” I asked “why not? I don’t have any client deliverables, and if I have any work that I need to finish I’ll do it at night and during the weekend.” They insisted “You just can’t go.” I realized that I was basically a slave to these other people. I quit my job and I went to that conference anyway. I started to think to myself and saved up some money through jobs. After I quit that company, I started taking small projects -like writing projects for around $15-20 an article, social media consulting, and search engine optimization consulting. I also started blogging and speaking at conferences. You need the foundation and have to keep building on top of it and keep building and building. It took a couple of years, but I ultimately I became an entrepreneur. When I was working for other people, I was unhappy. I had my own ideas and things I wanted to do, but I could never do them. So, going off on my own, I had a lot of freedom and flexibility to do things that I wanted to do that I had the power to do so. As a futurist, I started spending a lot of time thinking about why these work experiences were bad, seeking out a lot of other people, and learning about employee engagement and workplaces. I found out a lot of people are unhappy with their current jobs. There’s a big disconnect between the ideas people have about work and the ways that companies are actually built and structured. It’s basically about what the future can look like and what steps organizations, managers and people should take to get there. This all stemmed from the unfortunate discrete experiences that I had while working for other people and I learned about other people that have these same types of experiences. That’s where I fueled my curiosity and my interest in how the workplace is changing.

 

 

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Why did you start educating and empowering people?

JM: I didn’t want other people to have the same type of work experiences that I had. I became very interested in how to create workplaces and how to create managers and leaders that give employees a positive experience: How do you create places where employees actually want to show up every day and enjoy being there? That’s what I’ve been exploring for the past couple of years: how the workplace is changing, why it’s changing, what are the trends that are driving these changes, and what we should be doing to adapt as a result of the changes that we’re seeing. I consistently and constantly learn new things. Every company that I talk to, I learn something new.

 

How did you develop your own brand and how did you convince people to start believing you?

JM: That’s always tough. There are always people who disagree with you and there are always some people who want to see you fail. I think that how you react to those people makes the difference. To build your own brand up, you can start talking and writing about your ideas. That’s exactly what I did through my blog and Twitter. Ultimately, what people like to do when they follow ideas and people is to learn, to be entertained a little bit and to hear unconventional ideas. I try to come up with new things and perspectives that aren’t always discussed. For example, in my new book, I clearly provide specific principles for employees, managers, and companies. There have been plenty of people talking about the future of work and management. I put it in the concrete set of principles that anybody can look at. They can look at the pictures they created, and understand what that’s about. I use a lot of visual storytelling. If you have an idea that you believe in, just go after it. Do not pay attention to the people who are going to make fun of you, nor to the people who are going to leave you negative comments. I had this idea of the future of work and I tried to support that idea by interviewing companies, doing research, and sharing my results. You obviously have to have several platforms. I contribute to Forbes. I use medium and LinkedIn. I have a blog, podcast, and video blog. I am in a lot of different places and I share my message with people who consume my content. Consistency is very important. I keep my message consistent and talk about it regularly. Stay on the message, be consistent with it, and explore new themes and new topics to make ideas around that message.

 

How long does it take for a community to spread ideas?

JM: Building a community is really important. You need to reach the right audience and build credibility and trust. A community can spread ideas instantly. You need to find a way for more people to see your message and idea, and to get out of your comfort zone. That’s why I started speaking at conferences, writing articles for other blogs and publications, doing as many interviews as I could and writing a book. Great ideas are meaningless if nobody knows about them. You need to come up with a way for people to actually find your ideas.

 

If you had the same amount of knowledge and experience at the beginning, what would you have done differently?

JM: I would have dealt differently with the people who had negative comments for me. When I first started writing, I was getting a lot of people who would try to get into my personal life and leave bad comments on my blog. I responded to a lot of them and engaged with them in discussions, thus spending a lot my time and energy. I wouldn’t have done that. Right now, I ignore a lot of people that want to see me fail. I use that negative energy to motivate me to do better. There’s a famous quote that says “Never argue with an idiot, they’ll bring you down to their level and beat you to death with experience.” The second thing I would have done differently is that I would have gotten out of my comfort zone a lot earlier. For example, I started doing a podcast and a video series. I should have started those years ago, not just a couple of months ago. I would have done more video recordings of sessions, spoken at more conferences, to build the brand a little bit larger and faster earlier on.

 

What is the key point to establish your personal brand value?

JM: You have to do everything. You can’t pick and choose and say “I only want to do blogging and nothing else,” because you need to get in front of people in person and online. Building a personal brand is about being in a lot of different places where people can consume your content and engage with your different content, such as videos, audios, and blogs.

 

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You are a profound thinker. Is it like your genetic ability or you have taken training?

JM: Chess is a very strategic game where you need to think a couple steps ahead, instead of just making a move. I look at things like a chess game. I like to think, “what is going to happen if you make this move” and “if you make that move?” The idea of chess and getting into that frame of mind of thinking has really helped me in my personal life. One of my goals for this year is to spend more time exploring ideas. It’s easy to get stuck on your computer, but sometimes, it’s good to disconnect and take your thoughts on a piece of paper and try to come up with ideas and frameworks around certain topics. I would like to think of various questions that I think are important for companies and explore trends in more detail and come up with unique ways to show people what the future or work is going to look like. I don’t want to just write the content; instead, I want to come up with different scenarios and I want to help people understand and reach these conclusions themselves. To do that, you need to rely on some type of visual thinking and the kinds of frameworks that exist out there.

 

In the beginning, you may have faced many obstacles and made some mistakes. How do you maintain your mental state?

JM: That’s also a very good question. There have been bad times. When I started I wasn’t able to get any business and clients, and that can be depressing and tough. People need to realize that these initiatives, of being an entrepreneur, are long term. You need to be realistic about what your expectations are. When you have your own business, there is a cyclical cycle. You might have a fantastic month and then the next month can be an awful one. It’s important to understand what those expectations are and being able to manage the budget accordingly. If you become an entrepreneur to do something that you don’t enjoy doing or you can only do a couple hours a day, it’s going to be really hard. You’re going to be completely immersed in this topic day and night. Regardless of your business and the area of your passion, you need to make it sure that you’re ready to have it around you all the time. Also, it’s important to do things in your life that give you pleasure and enjoyment. As a part of that, I use a guidepost for myself. I always check if I have any negative signs based on what I’m like. If I get too many negative signs, I know it’s time to switch direction. You need to start thinking about “maybe I’m doing something wrong,” and you need to pay attention to the signs. There are also plenty of positives signs as well. For example, I am able to get a client, and the next month I get two clients, and the next month I launch a website and I get a bunch of visitors to my site, that’s a good sign. I’m always very conscientious to how the content I create is received and I pay a lot of attention to the feedback I get. Those business signs tell you whether you are going in the right direction or not. Another way to deal with depression or fatigue is to surround yourself with a community. You can’t do things alone and just lock yourself into a room. You need to have a community around you that supports you and encourages you to do the things that you want to do. Finally, part of what being an entrepreneur means is that you will have failures. That is essentially synonymous with being an entrepreneur. It just depends on how you are going to deal with them, but you should have the idea in your mind or the expectation that you might make a couple of mistakes along the road. You need to have an idea in your mind “what are you going to do when a mistake or failure happens?” I always think of different paths I can take, what happens if something doesn’t work out, what other direction can I go down. This kind of thinking is very important.

 

How do you manage your fear when you starting a new journey?

JM: You can start small and take baby steps. When I was starting, even when I worked for other people, I was always building something for myself. If things fail, I’ll go work at Starbucks and do anything that I need to do to make money if I have to, but there are always opportunities to make money. It just depends on how much money you want and how much money you can make. My mentality, when I was getting started, was “I am an entrepreneur, I’m on my own. I don’t need a lot of money, so I could write articles for people, get a couple of jobs on Craigslist, and build from there.” In the worst-case scenario, I had enough money in my account for eight months where I could cover expenses. I never sold everything and I never had the risk of being homeless or having the risk of destroying my credit, and I never put my life on the line. The only thing I put on the line was a chance of doing something. Start small by doing things that you can do, by building your brand in an easy way. As things start to be well, you can go bigger and bigger and bigger. You don’t just quit everything you’re doing, take anything to loan and go do it. I wouldn’t advise that.

 

If you can leave one message to the next generation to make the world better, what would you say?

JM: Help others whenever you can, whether it’s giving advice or opening the door for somebody when they want to enter a building. The more we help other people, the happier we will be and the happier we can make others. So, the advice I can give to somebody else: help others.

 

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©Masaaki Hasegawa

10
Feb

Impact Hub makes impacts

Written on February 10, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

Could you imagine you would work with strangers working on different projects in the same place? Impact Hub is now one of the most famous co-working spaces in the world. It has more than 10,000 members and 60 locations in the globe. Richard Evans, Chairman of Impact Hub Association, shares with us the essence of his life.

 

Richard evans

 

 

For those who are not familiar with you, please let us know about you. Why did you get involved in Impact Hub as the chairman of the board?

 

 

I first got involved in Impact Hub about 7 years ago when I quit my corporate career to focus on impact. I felt a bit lonely because I didn’t know a lot of other people with that kind of motivation, and a friend introduced me to Hub Kings Cross in London, which was still not yet open. I loved the idea and go involved as a member and an investor, then ended up chairing the board there. Last year the global association Chair position came up, and I just felt drawn to stand for election, then to my surprise I got elected!

 

You have a rich experience in marketing and branding. How do you convert your experience and knowledge into the value as the chairman of Impact Hub?

 

I have learned over the years that word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing, and of course you cannot buy that. Behaving in ways that build trust is what leads to positive word of mouth – so I try and keep us focused on that. Our network has grown entirely through word of mouth.
If you had had the same amount of knowledge and experience from the beginning, what you would do differently?

 

If you mean from the beginning of my time as Chair of Impact Hub Association, I’m not sure I’ve been doing it long enough yet – I’m still in the early learning phase! If you mean from the beginning of my career, I think I would have invested far more energy in trying to develop a truly collaborative culture like we have in Impact Hub, rather than relying on traditional corporate ‘command & control’, which just does not get the best out of people.
In many cases, the main cause of failure is neither a business model nor a concept of business, but a mental failure: giving up, getting depression , or losing passion. How have you dealt with this point when things do not go well as you want them to go?

 

I think if you can be truly honest with yourself and develop a really clear sense of your life’s purpose, then you can never really give up on that. It’s a cliché I know, but when one door closes another opens, if you stay focused and remain open to learning from every experience you will never truly lose heart.

 

Why people need a co-working space?

 

Lots of people want co-working space for lots of reasons – it’s a growing market! But our members are drawn together not just for the cost or convenience of the physical space, it is the opportunity to hang out with like-minded people and connect with others who can help you turn your business idea into reality that they value most.
What is the most important thing you have ever learnt throughout your life? 

 

That’s a tough one! I think probably to try and always treat others as you would hope to be treated yourself. It doesn’t mean that you are always going to be treated well of course, but at least that way you can always live with yourself, and be at peace with yourself.

 

If you can leave one message for the young people around the world to make the world better, what advice you would give to them?

 

Ask yourself what you really want your life to be about, then follow your heart. In my experience, most people have kindness and generosity in their souls, but modern life puts many distractions and obstacles in the way. But these days it is really possible for any young person to make a difference on a global scale – we see many of our members doing just that – it’s exciting and inspiring to see.

 

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8. If you can make a call to 20-year-old Richard Evans, what would you say to him?

 

Ask yourself what you really want your life to be about, then follow your heart!

 

It is always valuable to learn what great people use. What are your favorite products, services, websites, applications, or places that help you work efficiently, learn better, or get inspiration?

 

I’m the last person to ask that question to! Probably the biggest challenge I have in my role at Impact Hub is that most people I work with are 10-20 years younger than me and they are constantly introducing new technologies to me that I have to get used to. I’m a techno-disaster, but I’m doing my best!

 

What is the book or who is the person inspired you most in your life?

 

Gandhi. I read his biography when I was 18. I loved the fact that he was able to make such a big difference in the world without any formal power or position. I also admired the way he combined really positive intent with amazing shrewdness in the way he took on the British authorities. I’m still inspired by his story today.

©Masaaki Hasegawa

6
Feb

Nothing can be better than great designs

Written on February 6, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

At age 17, he won a Reebok design competition, beating out professionals and college students nationwide.  At age 19, he became the youngest professional footwear designer in the industry. At the age of 30 he became one of the youngest Design Directors in Nike’s history and designed AIR JORDAN. D’Wayne Edwards, the founder of PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy, shares with us the essence of his life.

 

D'Wayne Edwards of Pensole–by Cathy Cheney

 

For those who are not familiar with you, let us know more about you. How did you come to a footwear designer?

 

DE: That is a long story, but I will try to keep it short. I grew up with the gift to draw anything I could see, and starting at age 11 I drew my first shoe. All through school I would draw shoes instead of doing my class work (which got me in trouble a lot), and one day I saw an ad for a footwear design competition. Well, I entered the competition and won but I was still in high school so I did not get the job. That sparked my desire to be a footwear designer even more, so I started trying to find colleges that offered footwear design so that could be my future. But there were no schools of that kind, so I gave up on my dream. I later went on to graduate from high school and started working, filing papers. One of my early jobs was at a footwear company by the name of LA Gear. Here I was, my dream job in sight, and one day they put suggestion boxes in every department for employees to give the company ideas on how to make the company better. Well, my idea was to hire me as a footwear designer, so I put a new sketch of shoe in the box every day. After six months the owner of the company called me into his office and offered me a job. That was shortly after my 19th birthday. There is more to the story, but I tried to keep it short. The longer version is on pensole.com under “founder”.

 

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When you design, what you can see in your mind? What kind of processes are taken in your thought?

 

DE: Interesting question, because I think my designs through in my head before I actually draw. I can spend hours or days building a physical image of each design in my head, adding things until I can see about 90% of what it will look like, then I sit down and five minutes later it’s on paper. I usually finish the final 10% once it is a real image on paper. I see my designs in black and white, which is why I only use a No. 2 pencil and white paper.
Even though you had an incredible career as a designer, why did you begin the PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy? What do you aim to achieve through it?

 

DE: I started it for a few reasons. The first is I wanted to provide a pathway for young kids like me—who grew up poor with limited resources in a tough environment with a better chance of ending up dead or in jail than of having any type of career. The other reason I did not want my legacy in this industry or as a designer to be the “products” I designed. I feel I was blessed with a gift that has more power if I share it with others than just using it to make me or other people rich. My aim for PENSOLE is to simply leave the footwear industry better than it was when I entered it by developing the next generation of footwear leaders. So far, so good. We have more than 100 students working professionally after just four years, at the industry’s top companies.
Being the best designer would be completely different from being the best teacher. How do you make a bridge between them?

 

DE: Great question! Never been challenged to think about that. I would say my life’s goal—to be better than I was yesterday—has impacted my approach to design and teaching. I think there is a certain level of discipline you have to have if your goal is to be great at anything. But the title of “great” is something you work towards and earn. I have always strived to be great, and now, instead of me trying to design a great product, I am focused on helping design lives. Today, I still think of myself as a designer, but I also see myself as a farmer, and my students are my seeds. If I am able to plant them across the industry, it will elevate design throughout the entire footwear business.

 

What is a method/thing/way that others do not take, but you take to transmit your knowledge and experience to the next generation?

 

DE: I lead by example and teach my students the way they will work in the real world. My relationship with my students is not one of just a teacher because my philosophy on teaching is summed up in this quote from Bruce Lee: “I am not teaching you anything. I just help to you to explore yourself.” To quote Bruce again, “Life is your teacher and you are in a constant state of learning.” I sincerely believe this, and I am not here to teach you “skills” with your hands, my goal is to help you develop your brain so you reach your full potential: as a person first and designer second.
What makes the difference between commercially successful artist and talented artists having a low profile?

 

DE: Visibility. I believe the talent can be the same, but if no one sees it, how will they know your talent? Now, of course, there are other factors, like working at larger companies with higher profiles, but at the end of the day you should be working towards perfecting your craft daily to achieve your own level of greatness. And who cares if anyone sees it because you should not be defined by what others think. Focus on being the best YOU, and at some point the world will discover who YOU are.
From the viewpoint of business, how does your experience as a designer help you manage your academy?

 

DE: It helps me greatly! Business is my new design challenge. How can I creatively solve problems that will lead to a better way of doing things is what I ask myself daily. I advise ALL designers who want to have their own business one day to approach business the same way they design If they do that they will see their vision for their company before it happens that same way they see their designs before they’re real. PENSOLE is my greatest design, and the world has only seen a very small part of it. I am excited to wake up every day to develop and reveal more and more of it. I can’t wait to show you what I am working on next.

 

If you had had the same amount of knowledge and experience when you started the academy, what would you have done differently?

 

DE: Hmmm, I am not sure because even thinking it has not been easy I would not change a thing. What people don’t realize is we do not learn from our successes. We learn from our mistakes. And when you adopt the willingness to take a chance to do something great, even if you fail, it might still end up good. Most don’t even try, and they fail before they start. So, for me, I don’t look back because I am focused on moving forward.
If you can make a call to 20-year-old D’Wayne Edwards, what kind of advices you would give to him?

 

DE: Another GREAT question! I can take this is a few different ways because so much has happened to me over the course of my life, but I would say: “Li’l Bro, it’s not going to be easy. You will experience the death of people closest to you. You will meet people you never dreamed of meeting. You will be praised and criticized by the same people. You will fail more than you succeed. Be thankful for everything because if it was too easy, it would not be worth it.”

 

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

 

DE: Man, where do you get these questions……? ☺ “Focus on being a person who inspires others because one day someone will need you.” – D’Wayne Edwards
What are your favorite websites/app, products/services/, and locations/venues that stimulate your creativity and help you work productively?

 

DE: Mannnnn, that was a long question….. ☺

>Website: Too many to list, but I would say my email because I never know what will show up daily.
>App: None. I am old-school. I don’t use apps!
>Products: Pencil and paper.
>Services: My brain
>Locations: Awake. As long as I’m breathing, I have no excuse.
>Venues: The Colosseum in Rome.

DE: I am inspired by what I cannot see or touch, so I am always open to embracing whatever happens.

 

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©Masaaki Hasegawa

5
Feb

Chief Happiness Officer

Written on February 5, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

Who does want to be unhappy? Most people work hard to be happy, or at least, they believe that they would be happier if they work hard earning more money. It is not right or wrong. It is just a result of education and common sense. What are truly important to remember to have a quality life? Why do you have to be so miserable in your office? We are to be happy. It is just whether you know about it or not. Alexander Kjerulf is the founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Woohoo inc, and the author of Happy Hour is 9 to 5. He tells us what we need to remember to have a quality life.  

 

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For those who are not familiar with you, please let us know more about you. What is the role of “Chief Happiness Officer” and what is “Woohoo inc.”?

 

I am the founder and CHO of Woohoo inc and we make people happy at work. We do workshops and keynotes for clients all over the world, to help them become happy workplaces.

 

What was the beginning of thinking of happiness? Did you have a specific moment that you started concerning about happiness in your life?

 

I’ve always felt that whatever work I do, I want it to be something I enjoy. I flatly refuse to do work that I hate.So when I left IT consulting in 2002 I decided to focus on happiness at work. Our company vision is to create a world where happiness at work is the rule and not the exception.

 

What was your first step to sharing your ideas, working with corporations, educating people to be happier? And, what kind of results you had in the beginning?

 

My first step was to study the field and find a lot of relevant research. I also talked to a lot of people to collect practical experiences and attitudes.

I then designed my first happiness workshop and tested it on a group of volunteers, who seemed to really like it. And then it was time to start the company and begin selling this to clients.

 

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I assume you sometimes had difficulties at the beginning that is the hardest part for those who start something new. How did you overcome it?

 

The hardest part was obviously selling our services in the beginning. Many people and companies thought it was a strange idea, but slowly it started to gain acceptance and now we’re very well known in Denmark and around the world.

Our main tool for overcoming this challenge was to be ourselves and to be bold. To do things our way, and not become too corporate or too traditional. It’s an easy trap to fall into, but I feel very proud that we stayed true to our initial vision.

 

“Arbejdsglæde”, happiness at work, is a unique word, which exists only in Scandinavian countries. What makes this word part of Scandinavian culture? Is it because of the education, nature, relationship with people?

 

It’s probably because Scandinavian societies are very egalitarian and focused on a good quality of life. Success in Scandinavia is not necessarily about becoming a millionaire, but more about having a good quality of life.

 

It seems that “work” is considered “exploitation” in the western cultures and “sacrifice” in the eastern cultures (totally opinion). Work does not make people make happy with these conceptions. How people can think to make their work happier and how they can behave differently to build an environment in which people can work and have happiness at the same time?

 

It’s true that many people consider work punishment and expect work to be hard and unpleasant and that for many, work is something you do only because you have to.

But we’re trying to make people realize that it doesn’t have to be that way. Of course, we still need to work to make a living, but we can find work that we actually enjoy.

 

You make a clear difference between “satisfaction” and “happiness”. What people should know about the difference between these 2 words?

 

Satisfaction is what you think about your job. When you make a rational, logical evaluation of your work situation, are you satisfied overall? It’s an important concept, but it turns out that satisfaction doesn’t have much of an impact on us.

Happiness is what you feel about your job. When you are at work, do you experience mostly positive or negative emotions. And our emotions are so important because they have a huge effect on our health, our well-being and our job performance.

 

It is interesting that many people look for happiness externally such as materials, bonus, status, and hardly try to look into themselves. Perhaps it is because they have got educated to think in that way. How this kind of people can experience a paradigm shift in their way of thinking to be happier?

 

Yes. All of the factors you mention still matter, because they can make us unhappy, if perceive them as unfair. For instance, if you feel you’re being underpaid, that can absolutely make you unhappy. But none of those things can make us happy at work.

The salary makes it possible to go to work – it’s not what determines if we’re happy when we’re there.

 

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What would be requirements for creating a world where the majority of people can feel “they are happy” ?
So if raises, bonuses, perks and promotions aren’t the key to a happy work life, then what is? This has been the subject of extensive research over the last few decades, and it seems it comes down to two things: Results and Relationships.

Results are about making a difference at work, knowing that your job is important, getting appreciation and doing work that you can be proud of. Relationships are about liking the people you work with, having a good manager and feeling like you belong. In short, we are happy at work when we do great work together with great people. That’s is where you need to focus. Instead of choosing the job with the fanciest office or the loftiest title, you need to choose a job where you can have great results and relationships. That will ultimately lead to a much better work life and home life.
And please note that this does not mean choosing between happiness and career success. Research shows that people who like their jobs, do a much better job. They’re more productive, more creative, more motivated and more likely to reach their goals.

 

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©Masaaki Hasegawa

3
Feb

Design x Entrepreneurship

Written on February 3, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

Primo Orpilla is the Co-founder and Principal of Studio O+A, the design firm in San Francisco responsible for groundbreaking offices at AOL, Facebook, Yelp, Levi Strauss and so on. Is it possible to follow your passion and to be successful at the same time? Yes, he proves it.

 

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For those who are not familiar with you, please let us know more about you. How did you come to be a designer and entrepreneur?

PO: When I was undergraduate at San Jose State University I was initially studying engineering technology, I wanted to be a power plant designer. I had always liked cars and my father was a machinist so I knew a lot about cars engines. My wife Verda was at the same school, only she was in the art department. I really liked the energy and creativity in the art department. I noticed the other disciplines such as product design, graphic design and multimedia design. I also had an interest in architecture, but that was not taught at there. I looked closely into the Interior Design program. I looked closely at what you could do as an interior designer and quickly realized that interior designers could be designing and directing many elements of the interior space and that appealed to me about how much the interior designer could touch and have influence on. The entrepreneur side of me probably came from my parents they had had business outside of their jobs. So I think it was always clear to me that there is a business component to any endeavor and that you needed to have some aspirations with owning a company. You also need to understand that you are creating a brand and that brand identity needed to convey who and what we are. So it became important to be col clear on whom and what we are. I do think that also being in the silicon valley and seeing the spirit of these startups that anything is possible has also fueled O+A.

 

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What is the core concept of your design agency?

PO: We have several guiding principles, but I suppose the key one is that every project should tell a story and that it should be the client’s story. Our design development process is all about immersing ourselves in the client’s culture and then figuring out how to make the work environment an expression of that culture. When you walk into Yelp’s office or Uber’s office, we want you to feel the spirit of those companies. And if you’re working there, we want your work to be enhanced by the spaces you’re working in. An effective workplace will inspire their people to do their best work.

 

What was the most difficult thing when you founded a company and how did you overcome it?

PO: Starting a new business is always a challenging.  Just getting clients in those early days was a challenge. And of course if your business is commercial design you are, to some extent, at the mercy of real estate cycles, economic cycles, boom and bust—that sort of thing. We have managed to survive and in fact to thrive in all economic climates by listening to our clients, staying nimble and hiring people who are creative and dynamic. I think we have the best design team in the business.

 

I assume you have experienced mistakes and refusals as well. How do you maintain your mental state?

PO: I’m an optimistic by nature and I also enjoy the journey. I feel that you need the ups and downs to make you respect the good times and remember what you have. It also helps put things into context; we are in the heart of the SOMA a part San Francisco where several worlds collide. You have the brightest minds in the tech industry and then stark contrast of those who are not so fortunate people rehabbing. I feel we make a lot of decision and terms of . I’ve been in business long enough—24 years!—to understand that setbacks are just a part of the process. Nothing proceeds simply from A to B to C—there are always diversions. Sometimes the diversions take you to unexpected places. Sometimes they lead to discoveries.

 

If you had had the same amount of knowledge and experience at the beginning, what would you have done differently and why?

PO: I don’t think of it that way. It’s the journey from that little 2-person company—Verda and me—in Fremont, California in the 1990s to the 40-something team we have now in San Francisco that has been so rewarding. And we’re still making that journey. I’m learning something new every day. So it’s not a question of fixed knowledge. It’s a matter of being open to new influences and being excited about what’s ahead. Long way of saying I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

How does your experience as a designer help you manage the company and how does your experience as an entrepreneur help you design?

PO: Being familiar with both disciplines allows you to appreciate all points of view. As a designer I know what it is to be invested creatively in a project. I hope that makes me a more perceptive judge of our employees’ work. As a manager, I’m aware of what it takes to get a project in on time and on budget. I hope that makes me a more focused and effective designer.

 

What is the biggest difference between designer/artists and business people in terms of their way of thinking?

PO: You know what? The differences aren’t that great. The clients we work with—tech clients, entrepreneurs, communications people—are all extremely creative. These folks are changing the way the world works. That requires an “artistic” sensibility. And the artists I know—and I know quite a few—are usually very practical people. You have to be practical to make a career of art. Or even to make a single work of art. Every creation comes down to a series of practical choices and steps.

 

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What is the enemy of creativity do you think?

PO: I think the real enemy of creativity and producing good design is complacency and settling. Good design hearts and that rigor and passion to create new and thoughtful approaches can seem overwhelming. But what you will find is that a process when followed will always yield a good result you just need to be willing to not have and preconceived notions of what something might look like you rather need to be willing to excepting of design ideas that came from a good rigorous process.

 

When you hear the word “successful”, who would be the first person come to your mind and why?

PO: Steve Jobs developed such an unbelievable company and brand. The products produced were iconic and revolutionary and really made us desire them.

 

If you can make a call to 20-year-old Primo Orpilla, what kind of advices you would give to her? 

PO: Good Design Hurts !!

 

©Masaaki Hasegawa

2
Feb

Make impossible things possible

Written on February 2, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

If you can convert CO2 into energy? Many people have been dreaming about it but it has been regarded as a fantasy for a long time. Do you have a courage to take a leap of faith to challenge it? NEWCO2Fuels has developed the technology, which allows us to turn CO2 into fuels. David Banitt, CEO of NEWCO2Fuels, tells us how you can think to make impossible things possible.

 

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1. For those who are not familiar with you, before founding the current company, you had experienced many different fields. What did make you motivated to found NewCO2Fuels and work in the renewable energy field?

 

Today’s world is all about quick inventions and quick money without real meaning for improving life quality, without paying attention to our environmental issues. I was looking for ways to contribute to a better world and create positive impact for the next generations. This is why a few years ago I helped founding a solar energy company and today I am working on the next step which is recycling CO2 into useful products.
2. How did you come up with the idea of transforming industrial wastes into energy?

 

Transforming industrial wastes into energy is not a new concept. For years, people have developed ways to recycle waste into products or energy, mainly under the form of electricity. Prof. Karni from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, came up with the idea to take CO2 that is currently considered as waste, use it as feedstock and convert it into energy after hearing global plans of CCS. CCS (Carbon Capture and Sequestration) plan to capture CO2 from energy intensive industries, compress it and buried it under the ground. Prof. Karni realized this is probably not the best idea to preserve mankind and started to work on an alternative solution for CO2 emissions in his laboratory. His idea was to convert it into useful products i.e. fuel. Once he proved that the concept work, Prof Karni, an old friend of mine, ask me to join in and assume the challenge to found a company and translate the concept into an actual product and commercialize it.

 

3. What was the first step you took when you decided to make your idea happen?

 

The first step was verifying that the economics is sound. A great idea that cannot be sold is not a product. After analyzing the economics behind our solution, and realizing there is a great economic potential we decided to go forward. The second step was arranging funding for the company and hire the right people to make it happen.

 

4. What kind of difficulties had you in the beginning and how did you overcome it?

 

As mentioned before, the two great challenges for any start-up are the funding and the people. You cannot go forward without either of them. You need the money to hire great people and you need great people to develop an amazing product. We were lucky to find Australian investors that have long vision and green spirit  took the challenge and associated risk to fund the initiation of the company. Soon after having these two ingredients, the challenges were mostly technical and we overcame then nicely. As said earlier, when you have people and the funds required if the commercial justification is there the technical problems will be solved.

 

5. What is your future vision and what kind of steps you plan to take to reach the goals?
My future vision is to have clean industries that are able to produce the products we all need today, but without leaving a carbon footprint behind. By working at NewCO2Fuels, I am showing the world this is something that can be done and I hope our work here will motivate others to find different solutions with the same aim.

 

6. What are the key factors to generate innovation?

 

Ideas, Brilliant People, Out of the box solutions and great financial and strategic partners that share your view.

 

7. How do you persuade people to believe in your idea, especially when it sounds crazy to the majority of people?

 

You explain to them, step by step why it is not crazy. Many people thought we didn’t need laptops. IBM CEO said many years ago that the market for personal computers will be very small. Same was with the telephone. Look at today’s world. It is important to stay motivated and to believe in your ideas in order to have others believe in it as well.

 

8. What is the essence of selling ideas?

 

Having an idea you believe in, an idea you are ready to fight for and take risks to make it happen. This way, you will be able to share your ideas and convince people this is an idea worth their time… and money.

 

9. If you can leave one message to make the world better, what would you say?

 

Clean up after yourself and find some time, every day or week to contribute to making this world a better place. We only have one home, one planet.

 

©Masaaki Hasegawa

 

 

 

 

30
Jan

Predictably Irrational

Written on January 30, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

Do you think you are rational and honest? Dan Ariely is the author of international best-seller book, Predictably Irrational, and a Professor of behavioral economics at Duke University, We have learned a lot about human’s irrationality from him. Today, we learn not only about how we are irrational but also lessons about life from him.

 

M. Lengemann

 

1. To begin with, please let us know more about you. Why or how did you get interested in the field of psychology, behavior science, and particularly “irrationality of human”? Did you have any specific moment?

DA: I was badly injured many years ago and I found lots of things that I did not like when I was being in a hospital. I was wondering whether doctors and nurses were doing their best. Particularly, the thing troubled me early on was “bandage removal”. Imagine you are in a hospital and someone needs to remove bandages from you. The question is what is the best way to reduce the pain to the highest degree. What nurses took was the quick removal approach that is holding your arm and ripping bandage from your arm. Honestly, I did not like this approach and thought it should be improved. When I left the hospital and started studying at university, I started experiments on pain and I found that the approach used in the hospital was not the best way for patients. This experience made me think about what are all the ways in which we might think with doing the best for our patient but actually we are not doing. This made me think of all the cases in which we think with we are doing the best for our patients, customers, citizens, but our intuition leads us to a different direction. Thus, I thought it would be better to study and understand better about decision-making.

 

2. You also have a rich experience in business. What did motivate you to jump into the field of business?

DA: I’m basically interested in applications: figuring out what do we do wrong and how we can fix it. The field of business provides lots of opportunities to figure things out and do things in a better way. Of course, I am also interested in the field of government, which is another place where you can make changes that we have far-reaching implications. It is just extremely difficult to work with them even though we have tried. It is sometimes easier to work in the field of business, which is more maneuverable.

 

3. What is the hardest experience you have experienced, and how did you overcome it? How people can deal with mental failure do you think?

DA: I was burned extensively and I was in the hospital almost 3 years. It was such a long time and I could not understand what is going on in the beginning. In order to overcome it, I was thinking about experiencing one day at a time. After that I tried to give myself targets of a particular time and particular changes; not to think too long term. I did other things as well, like the reward substitution, which is described in my second book. For example, when I did some difficult therapy, I give myself some rewards that I really love for doing. No single answer for this. There are many ways.

 

4. Do you have any habits that help you work productively, think creatively or achieve your goals? How have you developed your habits?

DA: First of all, I have a habit of working a lot. I try not to succumb temptation. When I am in my office, I try to focus on things that I want to work on and put them on my schedule, which determines what I work on at a specific time. Otherwise, it is very easy to succumb to temptation like doing Facebook for many hours. The question is “how we can get long-intentions” to play out in the way that let us do what we truly want to do. I think that using a calendar is an important way to do that. Actually, I now have a new startup company that tries to take over people’s calendars with understanding: if we get people create an actions plan, there is a much higher chance that they actually continue doing it. If we do not create an action plan, there is a higher chance of never doing it. So my habit is creating action plans, making them concrete, putting them in my schedule, and following it.

 

5. What is the rational way of pursuing happiness you can suggest to people?

DA: The idea is there are lots of irrational things that we do but if I had to pick one way, it could be pursuing something that have meanings. I think there are two types of happiness. One is happiness that comes from sitting on a beach and drinking mojito: instant gratification. The other one is coming from the feeling of satisfaction that is a sense of meaning and purpose: fulfillment. I think people often purse the first one, not the second one. The second one gives you long-term happiness.

 

6. Most people believe that they are honest and rational without any doubts. What would be the first step for them to be aware of their irrationality and dishonesty to make their life better?

DA: There is a lot of ways to realize the irrationality and it is always easier to realize that other people are irrational. In terms of irrationality of us, one of the easiest ways is that your view is biased when you watch a sports game. This kind of thing makes you realize that you have a biased view that you see the reality in the convenient way and in the way you want to see it rather than the way actually it is. Another way is looking at visual illusions. Visual illusions are a wonderful demonstration that our system is not perfect and we make a lot of mistakes. I think if you think about life, with visual illusions, you can realize lots of things might be wrong and you do not see that.

 

7. What person comes to mind when you think of the word successful? And why?

DA: Successful for me is a mixture of contribution and balance. I can say that I have reached that. First, successful means contributing to the world in a useful way. Second one is balancing friends, family, and career. It is incredibly tough to achieve and I have no secrets to succeeding it.

 

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8. If you can make a call to 20-year-old Dan Ariely, what kind of advices you would give to him?

DA: Life is a long-term game. Especially 20’s and 30’s are a good time to invest for your rest of your life and a good time to accumulate knowledge and understand what serves you better. I think in my 20’s and 30’s, I was too much goal oriented that I wanted to achieve all kinds of things and I always wanted to get things done. I did not invest my time in long-term skillset. I think mostly about education. When you are enrolled in a certain degree you can say “I just want to finalize it”. From a different viewpoint, what you are doing is setting up the toolset that you have your rest of your life, and it is useful to think longer term. Broaden your toolset for longer term.

 

9. If you can leave one message to the next generation in order to make the world better, what would you say?

DA: I think the amazing thing that we do as a mankind is that we design our environment. If you look around, humans design almost everything in your view. Humans have designed great things in a physical world, but we have not yet done a great job in our mental world such as education system, taxation system, and healthcare system. To the extent that we could do on those aspects, the world would be a better place. We need to figure out how to do that.

 

10. What kind of website/app, service/product, and place/location you like to use for your creative process?

DA: The most important thing in terms of creativity is to start. Thus, time management is incredibly important. We have an application called Timeful. What we are trying to do is helping people schedule things in the way that would get people live in the way that they would like to live. Usually, a calendar does not represent long-term aspirations, but without representing those things in a calendar, the chance, of being executed, is quite low. For me, real issue is that.

 

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©Masaaki Hasegawa

 

 

29
Jan

Creative Community

Written on January 29, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

To a greater or lesser extent, we have experienced some creations. As you grow up, you stop creating something for fear of being judged by others. What would have happened if you had had kept creating things? Jake Nickell is the Founder and CEO of Threadless, which is a creative community that makes, supports, and buys great art. He shares us the essence of creation.

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For those who are not familiar with you, please let us know more about you. You have learnt art and computer science. For you, creation may have been part of your life. What was the spark to found Threadless?

JN: Threadless started as a hobby while I was working a full time job as a web developer and going to art school part time. I first started the company as a thread on an online forum called Dreamless. At the time it was a small community of about 300 artists from all around the world. I simply asked people to post up designs into the thread and then made t-shirts and posters out of the best ones. Eventually it turned into Threadless.com. That was 15 years ago.

 

What did you do on Day 1 to embody your idea of Threadless and to make it happen?

JN: On day one, I promised the artists in the forum that I would make things out of the best designs. I didn’t know how to print t-shirts, charge credit cards, ship orders, etc, and figured that out as I went. I think that’s still a big part of Threadless today. We have a very DIY culture here and believe we can do anything we put our minds to!

 

What was the most challenging thing in the beginning and how did you overcome it?

JN: The most challenging thing for me was managing money. I like to focus on building great products, both physically and on the computer with our website. When it comes to accounting and legal and running a business, I had a lot to learn. The best way I’ve found to overcome it is to find great people to work with who are good at those things :) In the beginning my wife helped out a lot and now I have a lot of coworkers who are really talented at the things I’m not so talented at.

 

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If you had had the same amount of knowledge and experience at the beginning, what would you have done differently?

JN: I would have probably leveraged more third parties to do things that aren’t things we specialize in. For example, I’d use existing e-commerce and order fulfillment platforms rather than building our own from scratch.

 

How does your experience in art help you manage a company today? How does your experience in business help your creation?

JN: I consider myself more of a designer than an artist and I think the concepts in design and layout help out with managing a company. Design is about solving problems and setting up a system for something to happen within. On the business side, I really enjoy being able to prototype and build my ideas myself. I think it’s important to be able to understand how it all comes together.

 

Artists are not always the best salespeople. What are important things for artists to remember to get opportunities and exposures?

JN: Let the world react to the things you make. You never know what’s going to happen. Don’t just let your work sit in the garage, get it out there and show people!

 

Creative geniuses come up with more and more ideas every day. However, most of the ideas never get realised. What are differences between ideas with a huge success and those with, not do you think?

JN: Well, the first thing is that ideas that aren’t executed on are never going to be successful. So start taking your idea to paper as soon as you can. From there, I find that starting on something is also an easy way to know if maybe it’s a bad idea. So you can stop thinking about it sooner.

 

All the resources on the earth are available to you, what would you like to create?

I would like to create a camp for kids where the first week they spend doing something fun and exciting like rock climbing, mountain biking, or whitewater rafting. The whole time they do that they would be documenting the trip, taking photos & videos, keeping a journal. Then the second week of the camp they learn how to make a website, edit a video, etc about the trip they just went on. I think it’d be the perfect way to teach a kid how to code or edit photos, to do so because they are making it for the amazing trip they just went on.

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

JN: I think I’d have more questions than answers. I think I could probably learn a lot from 20-year-old me… It seems as people get older their experiences lead them to taking less risks and putting up walls.

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

JN: Make friends and then make things with your friends.

 

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©Masaaki Hasegawa

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