The Entrepreneurial Design

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

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




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


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

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


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

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


How do your entrepreneurship spirit and artistic mind work together?

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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



Art Chooses You

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

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


bryan callen


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


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


What motivates you is passion?


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


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


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


Very interesting. So it just naturally happened?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


What are important criterias when you make a big decision?

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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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






The Art of Learning

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

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


roger schank


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

The following week I learned that he kept the money.

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



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

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


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

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

Start having conversations and stop teaching.



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!



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?


Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 10.46.11 AM


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.




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.


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.




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.



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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