The Art of Brain-Hacking

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

Ariel Garten is the CEO and co-founder of InteraXon, which creates thought controlled computing products and applications. She is also know as the “Brain Guru” that she works to close the gap between science, art, business and technology. Today, she shares her wisdom with us to boost our creativity. 



1. For those who are not familiar with you, please let us know more about you. How did you become a science driven artist/CEO?

AG: My background has been science and art and business my entire life. My mom is a visual artist. She would make these beautiful oil on canvases, and so as a child I knew that you could just imagine things and make them and have them come to life. Both my parents were self-employed. My father was in real estate, so business was literally in the blood from infancy. My dad would drive me around and ask me the price of houses on every block, from the age of maybe four years old and on.

Science is something I stumbled across myself; it’s not endemic in the family. I was always fascinated by the world and how it worked, and how one process could beget another. How molecules and particles would interact to create different substances, like the table in front of me, and the glass that I can see through. I stumbled upon neuroscience when I took that fascination with the world and how it worked and applied it to the self.


2. What do you try to achieve through your company?

AG: AtInteraxon we create brain sensing technology. We create devices, applications, and experiences that enable you to live a more actualized life, with greater degrees of freedom, by allowing you to understand and interact with your own brain. So we try to create applications, products, and experiences that let people touch their own mind, literally interact with their brain in a way that they’ve never been able to before. In the course of doing that allows people to discover themselves; allows people to learn new tools and techniques that allow them to improve their thought processes, their life, their ability to be generous, their ability to self-regulate; become these innovative spaces for discovery, both self-discovery and world discovery; and ultimately, hopefully make the world a better place through this.


3.You often state knowing yourself and being yourself. What exactly do you mean by that? For you, what was the motivation to start thinking of it?

AG: So we are existing now in a world that is increasingly more disconnected, where the vast majority of our time is spent tethered to devices and in digital realms. There’s a really outward experience of the self, and often that outward experience of the self is generated through the curation of other’s content. Knowing the self is about a turn inward and a return inward, and the ability to understand yourself, be connected to the self. From that fully kind of grounded, connected place we are able to engage in the world in a way that is not hollow – and just acting as an automaton, and just reacting to the world around you – but from a place of purpose and self-determination.

So I was a psychotherapist for many years and people act in all sorts of ways, often ways that don’t serve us, or ways that can be confusing to the self. It is because we have internal motivations and triggers that we don’t yet understand, or because we have thoughts and feelings that motivate us in ways that really aren’t positive and really hide the true self. So when you are able to uncover those, know the self, you can allow yourself to shine through without having those thoughts and feelings kowtow you into being afraid to actually be who you are; to be afraid to act in the world in ways that are happy and consistent with you.


4. What do you try to achieve through providing people with an opportunity to see their brain wave patterns?

AG: Seeing your brain wave patterns is really cool. We call it kind of the “first kiss” experience: the first time you can see that you have something that emanates from your brain. It is happening all the time, and you see this touch with your own brain. Seeing your brainwave patterns, in and of itself, is exciting and a kind of transformational moment, but long-term, that is not the meaningful part. The meaningful part is actually being able to learn about your own brain, learn its activity over time, and then learn how you can, through that information, get deeper into the process of self-discovery. And ultimately make choices from that information that you have to live a happier, healthier, freer life.


5. You have been working on lots of challenging projects. When you create something new, what kind of processes happen in your mind?

AG: So typically when I’m creating something new, I have a sense of it first, and then I see it, and it all galvanizes in front of me, then I can feel it. There’s also an embodied process, and I can see the steps that are required to get there, so I bring on people in different teams to come and fill the roles in the project. Then, I really also listen to the people around me as they bring their ideas, because, often, I’ll come in with something that I see so clearly, and it just makes sense, and then, my team members, as they bring in their own ideas and inspirations, just make it better. I can never have all the solutions, so it then becomes a team effort, where really inspired, intelligent individuals are additively interacting to make it all of our vision. The process of working in Interaxon with my co-founders Chris and Trevor has been absolutely amazing because our ideas and inspirations always compliment one another.


6. How does your experience as an artist help your business, and vice versa?

AG: So obviously being an artist is about being creative. It is also about being in touch with your emotional sense. For me, when I create something artistically, it is embodied. I feel it in my body, and then I am creating something that follows that feeling often. As a businessperson there is discipline, and there’s an ability to clearly interact with others around you and create an organized structure. So these two processes actually play really nicely into each other. I think the creativity to business allows us to come up with better, more human, more caring solutions. Adding the business to art allows me to have a process that ensures that there will be outcomes in a method of bringing it out to the world.


7. Challenging projects always bring obstacles and resistances. How do you deal with these difficulties, and how do you overcome difficult situations?

AG: Perspective. Perspective. Perspective. Things that seem really difficult or challenging or painful are because you are so deeply instilled in the moment of that pain or problem. You can’t see outside of it. You can’t see that it’s only a small little piece of a much larger issue or circumstance. So when I find myself maybe pained by something in a really tight spot, I jump up a level, and I see the relationship between it and the things around it. In doing so see solutions, see ways to go around it. I see that there are multiple other options, because there is never only one option. When you are in the problem stage it feels like that problem is the only option, and you have to stay in that problem state to fix that and make that option work. Whereas really, the world is so filled with opportunities that there are always other paths to get to the same solution.


8. You’ve created your own unique lifestyle. For most people, it is scary to follow their intuition or passion. How can they take a leap of faith to select a life path that they really want to take?

AG: I encourage all of you to take a leap of faith and select the right life path that you really want to follow. I think for most people there is an economic fear, which can be really real. “If I do this, will I have enough money to eat?” Then there is the psychological fear, which is not so real, which is, “Oh my god, can I do this, will I fail?” When you put aside that psychological fear, you can take steps and actualize, and do what you really want to do.

Most of us come from a place where we have a sufficient enough safety net, if we just ask. It might seem really scary to do a job transition because you are afraid that you may not have the money to survive through it, but if you galvanize that support of the people around you and know that you have their support to take that next leap, then it can become much easier, and the transition is not going to be as hard as you think.

You can also know that, for most of us, whatever you do, you will find opportunities. So when you start to take a step in one direction, if it is the right step – and I don’t mean that in any sort of metaphysical way – but if it’s a step to creating a product or service that the world likes, people are going to respond positively to it. So when you start to take a step in one direction and talk to people about it and engage people, you’ll know pretty quickly if the step is good, because people around you will start saying: “’Yes, that’s a good idea.’ ‘Wow.’ ‘Cool.’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Yes, I want this.’” That positive reinforcement is going to be very helpful to get you on the next leg of your journey.


9. If you could make a call to the 20-year-old Ariel Garten, what kind of advice would you give to her?

AG: I would tell her not to worry. We spend a lot of our time worrying that things are not going to work out. That worry is really not productive, and only degrades your quality of life. Imagine how much easier, how much freer, how much more productive, how much more you’d get done if you didn’t worry, and if you just did. Like I would tell her, I would also tell you, don’t worry; plan, but don’t worry.


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

AG: This is going to sound really cheesy, but love everyone. When you love everyone, you treat people with respect and humanity. In doing so, you make the world a better place, and “Love everyone” includes love yourself.


Quantum Leap in your life

Written on April 4, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

Have your ever thought about being successful? Did you actually take any actions to be successful? Dan Peña, is founder of Quantum Leap Advantage (QLA), the revolutionary method for super success with over 20 years of proven track record that has produced $50 Billion of equity/value, since 1993. Today, let’s learn “HOW HE THINKS” to be successful. 


Dan Pena

1. For those who are not familiar with you, please let us know more about you. How did you come a businessman, entrepreneur, and mentor? What drives you?

DP: It all started with the Army. I volunteered to join the US Army during the height of the Vietnam War. Then I volunteered to do six months of intensive training at Infantry Officer Candidate School, extending my military obligation an additional two years. The army experience builds character and the Officer Training was the first high-performance activity I ever engaged in. Prior to that I was lacking direction – I flunked out of college three times. But after the Army/Officer experience, I went back to school and graduated with honors. Then I decided to go where they say the money was and that is Wall Street. I worked for Bear Stearns then joined one of our corporate finance clients and eventually became CEO of that company after a year. But I got thrown out because I was headstrong and wanted to take the company forward in a way that not a lot of people who like comfortable jobs would want. That was a turning point because In January 1982 with just $820, I started my own company.

The mentorship happened much later after I was once again forced out of my own company. I was an out-of-work founder and former CEO of a public company and when I was “exited” from my company, a good friend of mine suggested I teach. I taught college kids, didn’t really like that because not everyone had the same level of drive and ambition as I had, or at least desired to see in them. That’s when I decided to go to mentoring/coaching high performance people. What drives me is being able to drag you kids across the goal line—even kicking and screaming—so that you can do what you don’t want to do so you can have what you want to have.


2. You have a military service experience. How it has changed your way of thinking and what kind of impacts it has on your life?

DP: As I’ve mentioned earlier, it was a major turning point in my life. It gave me the focus and discipline that was lacking in my younger years. I am a strong believer of breaking people down to build them back up into better versions of themselves. And obviously, that is a well-known military practice which I do in my Quantum Leap Advantage (QLA) seminars.


3. Do you think you succeeded in businesses because you had the same way of thinking that you have now when you were young, or you tried many ways and found out the essence when you look back later on?

DP: It was what I learned as a young officer and building upon that training. One thing that has helped me become successful is that I just fucking do it. A lot of people like to, as I often say, “spreadsheet” things to death. Analysis equals paralysis. Just do it and if it doesn’t work, do something else. Experience is a very important thing and you will never gain experience sitting back and reading books, listening to podcasts or just doing research.

I always say I have failed many more times than I have succeeded but that doesn’t matter because the only things people really talk about are the successes. And a lot of the things I tried and when I looked back in hindsight I realized I should have done differently. But I wouldn’t know if I didn’t try and the experience gained is worth it. Fail fast and move forward!


4. For most people, it is not clear what they have to do right now, what is the first step to take, what they need to change in the first place to perform better and gain success. What can they do in order to change their life to be a successful/high performer?

DP: The first step to take is to actually make things happen—take action! Again, do not overanalyze, just do it. That, in itself, can change their lives especially if they’re coming from doing absolutely nothing but just dreaming. Dreaming big is good but without action, they are just dreams.


5. Most people think only to be successful, not how to be a person who is successful. What are the important things you need to be the person you want to be?

DP: As I’ve always said, people have two types of bank accounts: the financial bank account and the emotional bank account. The emotional bank account represents your self-esteem and that is the key to your success. Many people believe that you need to first to earn money to strengthen your self-esteem. They are wrong. The first thing successful people need to work on is their emotional bank account. The growth of the financial bank account then follows.


6. Does having high self-esteem bring about successes or do successes give you high self-esteem?

DP: A lot of people think it is the other way around. But on the contrary, the formula for success, especially when you’re coming from nothing, is high self-esteem. Success follows. That’s how I turned $820 to $450 million in 8 years in a collapsing market.


7. When you hear the word successful, who would be the first person come to your mind? And why?

DP: Steve Jobs. Because there are a lot of successful people but nobody has stuck so firmly to their ways regardless of what other people might think and be hugely successful at it. Conventional wisdom is almost always wrong and he sure defied conventions.


8. If you start everything from scratch without assets, network, and all the resources you have now, but with your wisdom you have now, what would be the first thing you would work on?

DP: I would work on getting the money to finance deals I want to make. A lot of people think it is hard to get money. They couldn’t be more wrong. It is very easy to get the money. It is the how that a lot of people don’t know and is what I teach in my Quantum Leap Advantage seminar. I can help people with little or no money to achieve their goals in least amount of time. So to start from scratch, knowing what I know, is not too hard if you have the drive and determination to make it happen.


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

DP: I would tell my 20-year old self to get into the healthcare or telecommunications business with something you can be passionate about. It’s big business. I would have loved to be in there early in the game. Find a mentor, build a dream team, get accountants and lawyers that will do your deals on a success fee basis (meaning delaying fees until you have completed a deal), and exit through an IPO or industry sale.


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

DP: Just fuckin’ do it!


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Pioneer Your Life

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

Many people want to be famous and to live their own life. However, only a few people actually make it happen. Why? They miss something? They just misunderstand what is to live your own life? DJ SKEE is a mixtape pioneer, producer, Entrepreneur. He has pioneered his own life. Today, he shares the truth about his life with us.



1. For those who are not familiar with you, let us know more about you. How do you describe yourself for people who haven’t heard you?

DS: I don’t really know how to describe myself, but i’d say someone who likes to have fun, be different, challenge the old guard of the business, and empower others.


2. How did you get interested in the music, radio, and broadcasting?

DS: I always loved radio growing up. From the moment I played my first vinyl record on a turntable, I knew it was what i was going to do.


3. Compared to other media that you normally show up, our website is not that big. What is the reason that you accepted this interview offer?

DS: It’s not always about numbers. It’s about people doing cool things. Someone always has to step out and take a chance and be different and I thought my story might help empower some of the students reading it and hopefully inspire even just one person to go out and follow their dreams.


4. When you are on air, how does your mind work and how does it feel like? Do you perform and act in order to provide what the audience wants to hear and see or you just keep being yourself?

DS: It’s so natural now it just happens and I go with the flow. However, it took years and years to get to this point. I used to spend so much time practicing and preparing before I went on, and use so many takes. I’ve put in well over my 10,000 hours needed to master the craft so now I focus on not only the key points I want to get, but in listening to what others say and watching the reaction so I can tap into key points and not be so stuck to a script. You always have a clock in your head and know where you want to go even if it takes a few set up things to get there.


5. What does “media” mean to you and what is your philosophy to deal with the mass audience?

DS: Media is the delivery mechanism for the world to consume content. Each medium is different and should be treated as such. For example, with Dash Radio, we feel traditional FM radio is dying and created a new media network with Dash to optimize the experience for the audience and create the best broadcast radio media platform.




6. When you create something, what kind of processes do you have in your thought?

DS: How is it different, why is it needed, who else is doing something similar (and what is wrong), is it something I’m passionate about and think I will enjoy, what it the future of the market, and finally, if all those work, does it make business sense?


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7. In order to achieve your goals, what is one thing that you pay attention to but the majority of people do not?

DS: The long term vision. It isn’t just about hear and now and being the biggest thing overnight. If you focus on your vision- creating the best quality in whatever you do and put a strategic plan around it- it will usually work out. You have to always be realistic with where you are at currently and your goals and pivot if things don’t work like you expect, but if you know your on the right path stay persistent and focused with it.



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8. For the majority of people, your lifestyle is something beyond their imagination. However, you have proven that it is possible. In order to get your own lifestyle, what do you need to remember?

DS; I’m not supposed to be where I am. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon and had to work my way up as a kid from Minnesota to living the Hollywood dream with a LOT of obstacles, barriers, sacrifices, and more. However, if you want something bad enough, there is no one but yourself who can stop you. Anything is possible. Everything around us was built by others no different than you and I. Quit making excuses, put together a plan, work harder than anyone, and just find a way to make it happen.


9. What is a common misperception that people have about being “famous”?

DS: It’s easy and always awesome.


10. If you can make a call to 20-year-old DJ SKEE, what kind of advices you would give to him?

DS: It’s tough as everything I went through made me who I am today. I would have focused more on a lot of things I saw growing quickly around me and really focused on a select amount of things instead of trying to do everything. Most importantly I would say to enjoy yourself and take advantage of the great non work opportunities. I missed out on a lot of cool things because I was always busy working I wish I could go back and experience.




The Art of Empowerment

Written on March 20, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

Guy Kawasaki is one of the most inspiring speakers in the world. He contributed to changing the world with Steve Jobs at Apple as a chief evangelist. He has a rich experience in the tech industry as an evangelist, entrepreneur, and investor, and he shares his wisdom with people through giving speeches and writing books (The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books). Today, Guy Kawasaki tells us about the essence of his life.




1. For those who are not familiar with you, please let us know more about you. You have founded several companies, gained successful exits, experienced working in huge corporations, How come you did you become an evangelist and what is its role?

GK: Evangelism comes from Greek words meaning “bringing the good news.” Evangelists bring the good news about a product or service. I originally brought the good news of Macintosh—how it increased people’s creativity and productivity.

Now I am the chief evangelist of Canva, an online, graphics-design tool. I’m bringing the good news about how Canva can democratize design.



2. You engage in a number of keynote speeches every year. You have written more than 10 books. You often get a lot of media exposure. What does motivate you to empower people?

GK: It’s my calling. It’s what I enjoy doing. I want to leave this earth slightly better than when I got here by empowering people.


3. What is the greatest moment you have ever had in your career and why?

GK: My greatest moment was probably the three years I worked in the Macintosh Division of Apple. We changed the world with Macintosh—it was enormously satisfying to help democratize computing.


4. When you start something new, like starting a new company, what is the first thing you think of and what is the first step you actually take?

GK: The first thing to think of and do is to build a prototype and get it into the hands of people. This is more important than planning, pitching, and forecasting.


5. You have a deep understanding of social behaviour. Do you think people can truly evaluate the value of contents or they just follow what other people follow? What do you need to remember when you deal with a large number of people?

GK: People make instant judgements about the quality of content. The clues are the inclusion of an attractive graphic or short video, bulleted or numbered lists, and subheads. These are all functional clues—but they are good indicators of the quality of the content.

The social clues are also good indicators of quality. Social clues include the number of “likes,” comments, and retirees. By considering the functional and social clues, it’s easy to make a quick judgment about the quality of content.


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6. Most people know the price of everything but the value of nothing. The price is visible and the value is invisible. Normally the majority of people cannot understand the value of great visions. People can understand figures given by a market as a price. How can you convert the value into the business?

GK: I would not say that value is invisible. Value is the totality of the costs and the benefits. The costs are not only monetary but also support and training. The benefits are not simply getting the job done but also the pleasure and coolness of working with a product or service.


7. What does “be successful” mean to you? Who is the first person you can think of when you hear the word successful and why?

GK: Success means making the world a better place. It’s not necessarily tied to money. Teachers, for example, make the world a better place and are highly successful in my book.


8. What is the greatest advice you have ever got and what kind of situation you had then?

GK: The best advice I ever got was to never ask people to do something that you wouldn’t do. This is applicable to customers, employees, and partners. Unfortunately, I don’t remember who gave me this advice!


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

GK: I wish I had a bit more engineering in my background so that I understood product development better. In other words, I could tell when programmers are lying to me. I would also have lived in other countries besides the US when I was young.

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

The ultimate way to judge people is whether they made the world a better place. Everything else pales in comparison to this goal.

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Outside the box? No, Inside the Box

Written on March 16, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

When discussing innovation and creativity, it is often critical to “think outside the box.” Jacob Goldenberg, author of Inside the box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results, professor of Marketing at the Arison School of Business Administration at the IDC Herzliya, became one of great leaders in this field by advocating a completely different idea. Today, he shares with us the story of creating his life.


jacob goldberg

For those who are not familiar with you, let us know more about you, why did you become a professor? What has driven you and what is your vision?

JG: I didn’t plan to become a professor. Each degree I started was supposed to be the last one. I realized for each plan I had, the improvisations were much better than the original plans.

In the benefit of hindsight I can find that there is a theme behind my decisions and choices I made: I followed my feelings and trusted them. While I used my brain to analyze situations and compare alternatives, the significant choices I made were emotional: I wanted to do only what I was in love with.


When you come up with new ideas and discover something new, what happens in your mind? Do you visualize information or you are driven more by verbalization?

JG: I am more graphical than verbal, but I am not good in art. An idea appears to me usually not in words, and not in pictures either. It is something in the middle: I see charts that depict relations and correlations I can then try to understand.


What was the hardest challenge you have had in your life and how did you overcome it?

JG: My first significant study on creativity was consolidated into an academic paper on advertising while I was a research student in physics. I believed it was a well-researched, solid paper with salient points on creativity. I submitted the article with high hopes for its new insight and clear impact on this evolving topic. It was promptly panned, cited by the journal as completely off-topic and non-scientific. The paper was completely rejected. It was a failure. My brilliant mentor in physics (Professor Sorin Solomon), stunned and aggravated by the outcome, vowed never to work in this field again. I watched my entire plan crash to pieces. It was a terrible feeling.

Only with the benefit of hindsight I can see that it was actually a blessing in disguise. This failure was a turning point for me. I didn’t want to finish my Ph.D. on innovation and marketing, with publications only in physics. I wanted the right people from the relevant field to read about this work. I didn’t want to vanish from the academic world quietly – I wanted to leave something behind.

Instead of walking away from the idea, I opened my mind to the feedback I was given. I wondered whether my unfamiliarity with industry jargon was my downfall. I considered whether approaching the work as a social scientist versus a physicist would have provided a better end result. These conundrums plagued me.

Around the same time that I received news of my article’s rejection, I met Prof. David Mazursky, a social scientist in a marketing department at Hebrew University. I presented my paper to him and his reaction was overwhelming. He said that I had made several mistakes and pledged his full support if I continued to pursue this work. This was very inspiring to me, and during our short conversation, he became my co-adviser.

Little did I understand at the time, but this failure would lead me to unexpected successes, partnering with the brightest minds in innovation and working concurrently at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Columbia University in New York. This seemingly simple decision would be the beginning of a meaningful and successful academic career. In fact, it changed the entire course of my life.

Inspired by the combination of natural and social science paradigms I began publishing papers in my desired area of interest: creativity research. To my knowledge, we were the first to publish a business-oriented topic in Science, which only included social science topics in an extremely limited capacity. But the work grew from there, garnering the immediate attention of top scientific journals in the field. This work led to several texts on creativity and innovation, a worldwide consulting company called Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT) with international and Fortune 100 companies as clients, and most recently, the first practitioner’s book to systematic approach to creativity called Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results. I co-authored Inside the Box with my friend and business partner Drew Boyd, formerly a Johnson & Johnson executive. Published in June of 2013, our book has already been translated into 12 languages and is the preeminent guide to systematic inventing. Our process of creativity is used by Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, GE, SAP, Bayer and Philips to name a few.

When I reflect on my life and where I am today, I attribute my first failure – the rejection from the scientific journal where my work was initially submitted – as the impetus for continuing the work. But more than that, this failure led to unexpected joy. I found a passion and great reward in an academic career teaching others about creativity, new product development, innovation and marketing. I have made lifelong friendships with my mentors and partners. I have shared the outcomes of my work with possibly hundreds of thousands of inventors through SIT and Inside the Box. I learned that failure is a part of the job, and that it guides you.

We need to learn to love our failures because we never know when failure will become an opportunity.


What is the most typical misperception that people have towards creativity and innovation? 

JG: The traditional view of creativity is that it’s unstructured and doesn’t follow any rules or patterns. It holds that you should start with a problem and then “brainstorm” ideas without restraint until you find a solution; that you should “go wild” making analogies to things that have nothing to do with your products, services, or processes; that straying as far afield as possible will help you come up with a breakthrough idea. In short, that you need to think “outside the box.”

None of this is supported empirically, in fact most of these views lead to the opposite results: using these approaches you will most likely end up with fewer ideas and they will be less creative, and with lower value.

How could the entire world believe in this fruitless wild goose search using random search for ideas? Due to a few reasons:

  • It is a fun process.
  • The results are measured after-the-fact so it’s difficult to draw connections between poor results and the ideation process.
  • The metaphor “outside the box” is beautiful, even if misleading.


What is the difference between people who can make the most of their potential and those who cannot?

JG: In my view, people who do what they love, and love what they do, people who are honest with themselves, and people who are not afraid to fail (and learn the lesson) eventually make the most of their potential.

Any other way is suboptimal. The other advantage is that they are probably happier.


It is often the case that people are hesitant to accept a new way of thinking. How do you convince people to believe in you, especially when it is intangible like “Inside the Box”?

JG: Max Planck said that A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Well, I don’t wish anyone to die of course, but I try to convince only people who have an open mind and courage to seriously examine the possibility that what they believed in so far was wrong. You may be surprised how many people are willing to put to a test even the deepest beliefs.


For you, what is the definition of “being successful”?

JG: Success is when you are in a perfect equilibrium in your life, you have to break the symmetry to get there but you don’t need to invest energy in maintaining it.


So many young people are suffering from understanding what they want to do with their life although they have no inconvenience materialistically. What is the most important life lesson you have ever learned?

JG: I learned that prediction is very difficult. Instead of trying to predict the future, one should try to create it. Babe Ruth, the famous baseball player, had more strikeouts than anyone else, but he also had more home runs than anyone else. Embracing failures when trying to create a future will channel the efforts to the right success.


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

JG: I don’t know if I should give any advise on this matter. Societies are complex systems, and social forces are very strong. There is no magical action or a medicine we can take. But it does seem that we are trapped in vicious circles sometimes. If the complexity and its forces are blowing a wind that is too strong, we cannot control it, but maybe we can adjust our sails to have a better journey.

This means that instead of fighting against forces we keep the destination in our mind and sale to this target with given winds. It is not as passive as it sounds because all individuals will have the right target the coordinated journey can end up at the right destination. The problem is who decides what is the right destination? I believe that 99% of us know what is right. We just wait for macro forces to shape the world to be better, instead of taking a small boat and start sailing.


If you can make a call to 20-year-old Jacob Goldenberg, what advice you would give him?


  • It is not a mistake unless you make it twice.
  • No matter how long you have traveled on the wrong road you can always turn around.
  • Believe and doubt your ideas at the same time.

Passing wisdom to the next generation

Written on March 9, 2015 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

There are thousands of startup conferences, accelerator programs, and books related to Entrepreneurship. However, it is often difficult to find a person, who invests his great amount of time and money into encouraging entrepreneurs who need support most. Alberto Onetti, chairman of Mind the Bridge Foundation, shares his wisdom with us and tells us what are truly important to him. 

(Mind the Bridge was founded by Marco Marinucci in 2007 to bridge the world through Entrepreneurship.)



 Photo: courtesy of Stefano Fornari


1.  For those who are not familiar with you, please let us know more about you. What is your current role as the President of Mind the Bridge Foundation and how did you become an entrepreneur?

AO: I’m a University Professor (currently faculty member at Department of Economics of Insubria University), but, since day one, I felt uncomfortable to teach something (namely management and entrepreneurship) without having ever done it. Then, since entering my Ph.D. program, I kept myself busy with starting companies, together with my college friend Fabrizio Capobianco — an engineer by education. I have done this three times thus far, the most recent was Funambol, where we experimented with the so called “dual model”, i.e., headquarters in Silicon Valley and development center in Europe. Since 2005, when we closed our Series A, I have been commuting from Italy to San Francisco. In 2007 I met Marco Marinucci, at the time a manager at Google who was launching a project called Mind the Bridge to give back something to his country of origin by fostering entrepreneurship and the startup culture in Italy. We joined forces and, a few years later, Mind the Bridge has grown significantly by expanding its reach from Italy to the rest of the world, adding education programs for startups, investors and corporates and, most recently, driving a European Commission initiative called Startup Europe Partnership. These are the things that are currently keeping me busy.


2. You have engaged in empowering people through sharing your wisdom and knowledge, and investing in startups. What has motivated you to empower people?

AO: At the end the most rewarding thing you can do in your life is to help people to believe that they can realize their dreams. I think empowering people is the most effective way to change the world for the better. As Mind the Bridge we try to inspire people to believe in themselves and turn their plans into reality. We also raised an angel investment fund — Mind the Seed — to financially support the best ideas we identify. In a nutshell, we provide people with entrepreneurial guidance, and for some a check as well.


3. What did you do on day one of your entrepreneurial life? Did you have a clear vision from the beginning or did you gradually find it?

AO: I have learned that what you plan from the beginning very rarely happens as planned. Sometimes you realize something closer to your original vision, sometimes something different, frequently something better than you planned. It is important to have a plan, but it is even more important to reshape it along the journey. That’s the main message we convey at our Startup School: “keep your eyes wise open,” as our Director Charles Versaggi says.


4. When you are faced with difficulties, what is your thought process to overcome difficulties?

Difficulties and hurdles are part of the game, and actually make it more interesting and challenging. I’m trying to learn (not yet done) to avoid getting stressed and take it too personal. I try to analyze the problem in the most neutral way and focus on what I can do to deal with it and right the wrong, if possible. By the way shit happens, and when it does, better to deal with before it hits the fan.


5. People tend to go extreme either “Profit” or “Non-profit”. How can they reconcile these opposing ideas and build a “profitable yet mission-driven business”?

AO: Hard to say. At the end it is all about creating value and meaning. If you are for-profit, value is supposed to turn into money; if you are non-profit, value is going to turn into meaningful things. However, they are not mutually exclusive. There’s no reason why a for-profit can’t also create meaning for its customers.


6. Even though every person, region, and country have different “values” and behavior patterns”, business knowledge tends to be standardized. What can you learn from this standardized information and what can you learn through experience?

AO: Standardized information and education provides you with valuable basic tools that are a good starting point. But these need to be incessantly tested and proven in the real world. Interpretation models are important as long as you know you’ll never be able to apply them just as they are. The minute you learn them, they are old.


7. What was the greatest moment you have ever had in your life and what would be the ultimate goal of your life?

I had a lot of great moments, as well as plenty of crappy ones. I remember the excitement of raising the first financing round with Funambol — I never saw a $5 million dollar check before — the satisfaction after successfully organizing the first Mind the Bridge Venture Camp at Corriere della Sera in Milan, my first meeting in Brussels to shape our Startup Europe Partnership program…a lot of exciting things, most of them first- time achievements. I get satisfaction by attaining challenging goals, not repeating things I have done before. My ultimate goal? Keep up in being challenged and pursuing my dreams.


8. What is your definition of success? Who would be the most successful person for you and why?

Success is a state of mind, the internal satisfaction you get when you challenge yourself and make something really important happen. It’s measured by your smiling eyes when you know you have done it. And like all the smiles, it just lasts a moment. And thereafter, you are back to square one and ready for a new venture. Successful people for me are the ones who never give up and keep trying and doing, accepting failure but not avoiding to play just because they are not sure if they can be successful.


9. If you could make a phone call to 20-year-old Alberto Onetti, what advice would you give him?

I’m not sure he would pick-up the phone. If he did, I would remind him always to be humble — because the older version of him sometimes is not — and be open-minded. To do things and learn from the mistakes he will surely do. To listen to everybody, but do not allow anyone to undermine his dreams.


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

Always be curious, do things with passion and dream big. And anytime you get any result, don’t take it for granted, but consider it a new starting point.


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Psychology of the Web

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

The human race is an unique species that tries to understand its own behaviour through observation. In the 21st century, it is quite common to analyze the human behaviour on the web by using the statistics. The question is whether simply processing the number would truly tell us the truth. Nathalie Nahai is a Web Psychologist and author of the best-selling book, ‘Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion‘. She tells us about what she truly tries to achieve and what we can think about ourselves.


Nathalie Nahai


For those who are not familiar with you, please let us know more about you. What is the role of a Web Psychologist and how did you make a bridge between psychology and the web?


NN: My path to becoming a web psychologist was a curious one – I have always been fascinated by human behaviour, and having started out with the desire to pursue my music and art (I’ve been playing violin since the age of 3, guitar from 16, and have wielded paintbrushes since as far back as I can remember), I stumbled across psychology. Having had the fortune of being inspired by an extraordinary teacher, when the time came to choose my BSc, psychology seemed the obvious choice.


I was performing on the folk scene at the time and thought it would be a good idea to learn how to code and design websites, so I took classes and soon ended up working as a freelance designer to support my music. It was at this point that I became fascinated with the interplay between web design and online behaviour, and as these new interests took center stage, so I found myself at a crossroads: I could either dive deeply into one core area of focus with a PhD, or I could carve my own path and find a way to explore a wider breadth of disciplines with the goal of seeing how they intersected and influenced one another.


I settled upon the latter, and decided to write a book which would serve as a roadmap for people wishing to understand all the various facets of the psychology of online persuasion. Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion was published by Pearson in 2012, and became a business best-seller. That gave me the platform from which to speak on the subject at conferences across the world, and I now train, consult with and advise companies large and small on the psychology and ethics of online persuasion.


My goal is to empower people and business with the tools to understand how the web influences our behaviours, decision-making and relationships, so that we can choose how best to design environments that serve our goals.


When you started your career as a web psychologist, what was the most difficult thing and how did you overcome it?


NN: When I started out, the most difficult thing was feeling as though I was going out on a limb by deciding to apply academic research to a wider audience, and choosing to go down a less conventional path rather than a purely academic one. For me there’s always been a tension between conforming to a more traditional route versus carving my own way – whether professionally, in relationships, or with my approach to life in general.


To a great extent I think it’s a function of my personality to seek out new ways of connecting the dots, and I’ve always been fascinated by how seemingly incongruent elements inform and influence one another, often beyond the scope of initial inspection. The way I’ve approached my own development is to seek out people whom I respect to advise and mentor me, both in academic and commercial worlds, so that rather than react to prescribed social norms, I have the support I need to find an approach that actually fulfils me.


Web Of Influence


How did you convince people to believe in the value you provide? How does the experience of learning psychology help your business?


NN: I basically help convince people of the value I provide by showing previous success stories, and also demonstrating the scientific rigor of the recommendations I give.


Research is observing what happened in the past. For example, you could not observe the same social behaviour 10 years ago. How people can apply it to create the future? 


NN: The interesting thing about observing social behaviours from a historical perspective is that it can provide insights into the deeper, unchanging patterns of human behaviour that exist, and the motivations that underpin them. As technology advances and we adapt accordingly, it’s really the expression of these stable drives that will change, as opposed to the drives themselves. This means that whatever new trends emerge, if we have an understanding of the heuristics they are designed to tap into and the kinds of behaviours they may elicit, then we have a better chance of being able to predict new patterns and make more conscious choices as to how we wish to use technology to serve our needs.


Why do people follow others they have never met with online?


NN: One of the primary drivers of human behaviour is the desire to connect with others and to feel as though we belong. Face-to-face relationships can be difficult and complex, and for those of us who find it hard to relate to others in person, the web provides a less inhibited, more anonymous space in which to express ourselves in the way we wish to be perceived. It also provides an unparalleled opportunity to seek out like-minded peers with whom to share our experiences, our desires and our fears. This is especially seductive for people whose identities, views and aspirations do not conform to the norms of their society, and there is a lot of fascinating research that has been done exploring the dark net and hidden sub-cultures that exist beyond the grasp of Google and the walled gardens that have come to represent the face of the web as we know it.


By fulfilling what kind of requisites, you would be able to gain million followers from the viewpoint of the Web Psychology?


NN: The first thing I would need to know is why you want to gain a million followers to begin with. Is it because you want the reputation and reach that precedes this kind of notoriety? Or is it that you want to launch a marketing campaign in the hope that it will go viral and convert an audience of millions? Whatever your goal, the answer to this question very much informs the approach you would take.


If you are looking to build your credibility and reputation and thereby earn a global following, then I would recommend that you start by identifying your values, establishing what will be your unique contribution, and then engaging with the people who are most likely to share your passion and support you. This approach takes time, effort, and tenacity, but it also yields great benefits by virtue of the fact that you’re building your business around a core group of dedicated people who share your values and vision.


If you’re looking for a quick fix, then there are short-cuts you can take – from paying for fake followers and view counts, to cloaking deceptive content and hashtag hijacking, there are a multitude of ways unscrupulous companies can use blackhat social media practices to artificially inflate their following. I’ve seen this work for others in the short term, but it rarely generates long-term success and is a gamble not only in terms of the costs involved, but also in terms of your reputation. It’s not an approach I would advocate.


People tend to follow what others follow. Does this mean people cannot truly evaluate contents, but outfits influence them?


NN: The reality is that there are a great many variables that influence our decision-making processes, from social dynamics (such as such social proof and behavioural contagion) and our physical state (whether we’re hungry, tired, ovulating), to individual differences (such as personality traits) and cultural norms (whether we’re more collectivist or individualistic, for instance).


Research has shown that despite our desire to believe that we’re rational, when it comes to decision-making our choices almost always stem from an emotional trigger,. Not only that, but we’re also heavily reliant on countless heuristics (cognitive shortcuts) that enable us to make fast decisions in everyday life, which means that we’re also at risk of being manipulated by techniques that take advantage of these shortcuts.


However, just because we’re prone to respond in particular ways doesn’t mean we have to be at the mercy of others’ whims. If we are aware of the forces at play, we can employ conscious strategies to help us evaluate content more objectively. This could include taking the time to re-frame an offering to assess its core value, for instance by identifying and stripping out persuasion tactics (such as price anchoring or the use of scarcity) so that you can see what facts you are actually working with.


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If all the resources are available to you, what would you like to create?


NN: If I had all the resources available, I would create an alternative, affordable education system that enabled people of all backgrounds (age, ethnicity, gender, economic status, geographic location) to collaborate with, learn from and teach one another. This would expose us all to new ways of thinking, experiencing and interacting with the world, which would reduce between-group fear and enrich our understanding of what it means to belong to a global family.


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


NN: I would invite her to believe in herself, and to listen to the quiet voice of self-love.


One message to make the world better.


NN: Explore yourself, let go of the expectations of others and dance at the outer edges of who you might become.



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LeWeb: Curation of great minds

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


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


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



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

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