Friday, September 08, 2017

Success in the New Economy

I was invited to a community brainstorming session focused on MSD of Decatur Township's plans to build an Innovation Hub.  This session was centered on Computer Science.  Decatur Township has been one of our most energetic partners in our efforts to bring maker centered learning to schools everywhere.

During the presentation, Dr. Chris Duzenbery screened this video titled Success in the New Economy. It's about how colleges have been oversold and the opportunity for schools to ‘re-frame’ education for careers is overdue.

In a rare moment of insight I suggested that rather than inviting business owners and employees of companies that offer job opportunities and examples of careers to students - schools should 'flip' career days and invite parents to learn about the changing landscape of college and careers.  The group seemed to agree with me.  This video explains it well.  The 'freshness' date of college for everyone has expired.

Monday, August 07, 2017

America's First Female Millionaire

America's first female millionaire was a African-American, lived in Indianapolis, and should be better known than she is.

The good news is that she is getting some overdue credit for her accomplishments.  A 2014 story in TIME Magazine was recently mentioned on Reddit (which is where I found it mentioned.)

The difficulties she faced: sexism and racism among them, make the trivial setbacks and challenges I have faced in my entrepreneurial journey seem insignificant. 

Madame C. J. Walker was born on December 23, 1867 to parents who were former slaves.  She made her fortune in the hair care products business. The building where she operated in Indianapolis is still there as a testament to her success.  I've visited it often as a volunteer with Business Ownership Initiative to help other entrepreneurs succeed.

She developed a sales agent program, leveraged the power of black media (in 1890!) and developed a multi-level marketing system BEFORE AMWAY!

A black mom, widowed at 20, she was making $1.50/day as a washerwoman when she came up with the idea for a hair tonic that helped her stop losing her hair.

Her brilliant marketing strategy was founded on sharing her success with her sales agents. Not only generous, but motivating. She created a source of philanthropy that has lasted for over 125 years!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Tesla as an inventor

Odd that I came across this quote from Tesla's autobiography by scanning tech news (on Reddit) and stumbling upon the National Governor's Association video of the governor of Nevada's introduction of Elon Musk.  Despite having written a lengthy introduction (he said) he simply quoted Nikola Tesla's Autobiography.

"The progressive development of man is vitally dependent on invention. It is the most important product of his creative brain. Its ultimate purpose is the complete mastery of mind over the material world, the harnessing of the forces of nature to human needs. This is the difficult task of the inventor who is often misunderstood and unrewarded. But he finds ample compensation in the pleasing exercises of his powers and in the knowledge of being one of that exceptionally privileged class without whom the race would have long ago perished in the bitter struggle against pitiless elements. . . ."

Those words so succinctly describe the life of the inventor.  "Unrewarded genius" (in the words of Calvin Coolidge, except that the rewards are the kind of joy one receives from discovery.  Such is the construction of man that shear discovery is ample reward for years of toil.

There is a great cautionary tale included Musk's remarks about Artificial Intelligence.  Worth watching just for that.  Start about here.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What the brain is good for

I've been thinking about the brain and what a marvelous machine it is.  How did humans evolve such a powerful brain?  We don't have the largest brains in the animal word.  Even as a proportion of our body size, the human brain doesn't exceed that of some birds (where you will find a fascinating article debunking human brain myths.)

Brain size doesn't seem to matter for intelligence.  My wife is much smarter than I am despite the fact that women have, on average, smaller brains.

My recent fascination with brain function was due to an insight I made about what the brain does best: pattern recognition. This skill is at the forefront of computer science progress and is responsible for speech and facial recognition, the dominance of computers over humans in games like chess and go, medical diagnosis, technological unemployment, matchmaking, learning and music composition.

My thesis is that brains evolved to optimize pattern recognition - and they did so spectacularly.  I believe it was accidental in the way that all evolution is accidental.  It may have begun by detecting light and dark and eyes were born.  The ability to detect and ultimately discern smells, touch, sounds and taste gave us an evolutionary edge.  Then we developed motor skills to impact our environment. At one point, I believe, the pattern recognition became responsible for memory and ultimately consciousness.

All this is pure speculation and I wish I had time to research the subject more completely.  Perhaps a train ride to the West will afford the opportunity. 

Rotary invocation, October 25, 2016

Rotary Invocation
October 25, 2016
Good Will & Better Friendships

Every week we recite the Rotary 4 Way Test.  #3 is “Do the things we think say or do build good will and better friendships?”

Wow!  This election season has put a real strain on thinking about good will and better friendships between large numbers of us hasn’t it?  How can we fix that?

Sharing Rotary service projects, like Indy Do Day, bring people together.  Coming to our club meetings, where we hear from community leaders like our speaker Matt Gutwein and the good work he does at Health & Hospital Corp, when we share a common purpose and contribute to helping people, we are also sharing how we understand the world.  When you open yourself up to other people they see you on their side, not the other side, working towards a common goal.
The foundation of understanding is listening.  We need to listen more and talk less.  Look where talking heads have gotten us.  Challenge yourself to listen to a diversity of opinions.  Listening only to people who agree with you may validate your beliefs and make you feel smarter, but rarely uncovers the truth.

We are not so different.

1.2 million Rotarians all want to eliminate polio, doesn’t the whole world want to eliminate diseases and suffering? I believe we share many common goals: We want our children, our neighborhoods, and our planet to be healthy.  We want to keep the promises we made to the last generation and we make to the next.  We want our communities to prosper and every student to be above average.

When this election season ends – and it can’t end soon enough in my view – we Americans can hopefully begin working together again, listening to each other rather than the talking heads, and focusing on common goals and solving the problems we all care about.  Hopefully, we can be more mindful of our Rotary pledge to make all the things we think say or do build good will and better friendships.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Maker Spaces getting attention Inside INdiana Business!

I was interviewed by Gerry Dick on his television program: Inside INdiana Business.  We talked about how our 1st Maker Space business aims to put shop class back in schools!  Lots of fun as you can tell.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

My calendar

Having too many meetings and appointments is a byproduct of curiosity, connections and commercial intent.  I like the buzz and the beer.  But my days are packed and they don't give me much time to reflect or think.  I understand it's a trade-off.

Sometimes I share the analogy with friends that my calendar is like a well played, but losing game of Tetris.  'Well played' because there is very little unfilled space.  'Losing' because the column is filled to the top and the game is over.

Here are the images that reflect both.

Get the picture?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Could Women Be Trusted With Their Own Pregnancy Tests?

I loved this story which appeared in the NYT today about the woman who invented the home pregnancy test.  Unrecognized, uncompensated and disrespected for decades...she finally got the credit she was due.

Margaret Crane, 1965.
Why did society make laws to prevent women from performing such tests?  What was the logic - other than exercising some power over an entire gender?  Much the same as slavery but 'gentler.'