Sunday, December 03, 2017

Interview with MCCOY on #GivingTuesday

Thanks to @MCCOYOUTH for giving me the chance to write down some thoughts on the subject of Entrepreneurship and Youth empowerment. The hour passed in a minute. Pardon the typos and awkward phrases.

Question asked by Jacie
What inspired you to start 1st MakerSpace?
Answered  8:58 AM
We made hundreds of 3D printers and placed many of them in schools...watching the kids go nuts with creativity and enthusiasm for learning was the trigger. I thought: we have got to do this for every kid in every school.

Question asked by J
I know youth who are interested in going into teaching/education. How can I support them?
Answered  8:59 AM
There are lots of avenues. We work with University of Indianapolis and Marian College. I just googled Teach for America. Visit a school and ask a teacher. Most of the teachers I've met are passionate about teaching and can help you take the next step.

Question asked by Anonymous
I saw the word "thinkering" on your website. What does that mean?
Answered  9:01 AM
It started as a malapropism during a speech I was making at Marian. I liked it and made a note. I've since learned it's a 'thing' - there's a book by the same title I bought. What I think it means is to tinker while you're thinking. That interaction with your hands and brain is critical. It's what kids want to do and it inspire creative solutions to problems.

Question asked by John
What is the most exciting thing about encouraging youth to be “Makers”?
Answered  9:03 AM
EVERY KID HAS POTENTIAL. Watching kids make stuff, solve problems is cool. But the best part is watching them gain confidence that they can. In education they call it agency. If you have it you believe you can learn anything! Isn't that what we want EVERY HOOSIER KID TO HAVE?

Question asked by Jace
What is a makerspace?
Answered  9:05 AM
The first makerspace is between your ears...it's the power you have to believe you can solve any problem by tinkering, adjusting, designing, building, breaking or just simply undertstanding the world. It's the place where we put tables and tools and supplies and a community of makers who share what they know to make stuff that is relevant to their lives. Sometimes it's art, sometimes machine, sometimes for sale, but it's always something they can be proud of. That pride leads to all sorts of positive outcomes for students.

Question asked by Doug Miltenberger
What can Indianapolis and Indiana do to grow it's tech community?
Answered  9:07 AM
WOW - that's a big question. Here's a simple answer: help more kids believe they can be a part of it. Make it OK to fail - failure is feedback. Change 'education' into 'learning.' There's never been a better time in the history of our planet where enthusiasm for learning is more important yet seldom enjoyed.

Question asked by Anonymous
Would you say this community is a good place for kids academically? I want to make sure my kids are challenged academically and creatively.
Answered  9:10 AM
Engaged parents are the key. Follow your kids' interests with encouragement. Create networks of mentors, experiences and resources. Make sure the teachers want your child to learn as bad as you do. Teaching is hard and it is changing fast. Let your kids explore. And help them understand that learning is a lifelong pursuit and grades are only a single dimension of attainment. My two questions on the final exam are: do you like yourself and do you love to learn. That's all that's really important.

Question asked by Jace
Are there other makerspaces in our community?
Answered  9:17 AM
We operate spaces at Arsenal Tech and Shortridge for IPS students. I know of several being built in township schools at Decatur, Pike, Lawrence, North Central. We visited a space at Cathedral and I know Gary Pritts at Chatard has one in his Physics lab. One of the best is in Beech Grove - they focus on Agri-Engineering. Avon is building a new one. You can join Club Cyberia on the east side for $35/mo and have access to all their tools and training. Herron School of Art has the Think it Make It Lab. We've proposed makerspaces for Fishers IoT Lab and the Hamilton E Library. We're building a makerspace at Mt Vernon Community Schools now in Hancock County and Ninestar - the Hancock County Utility wants to transform their tech center into a makerspace! And we're helping the new Newfields Museum (at the IMA) build one soon.

Question asked by Anonymous
Does 1st Maker Space have any summer or afterschool programs? What are they like? What age group do you usually work with?
Answered  9:19 AM
We turned over the job of producing summer programs to the Maker Youth Foundation last Spring so we could focus on designing/building and sustaining makerspaces in schools and libraries. Check with MakerYouth.org after the holidays to see what their schedule is. Bethany Thomas , their Exec Dir is a genius at programming STEM activities. She's served over 1000 kids since she's worked there and I have no doubt she'll be helping kids have a passion for learning next summer too.

Question asked by Anonymous
What is the worst business advice/guidance you ever received?
Answered  9:23 AM
OH WOW! I've probably moved on (suppressed the memory) :) I can only think of my own bad decisions (too many to count) and missed opportunities. I'm sitting hear scratching my head... Let me think about it...email me: kim@kimbrand.com if you want a follow up.

Question asked by John Brandon
What suggestions would you give to a budding entrepreneur about what to expect?
Answered  9:27 AM
OH WOW! As John Wechsler (@Wechsler) would say: STRAP ON! Entrepreneurship is not for sissies. If you are married, make sure your spouse is on board. It's not easy and they are along for the ride whether they want to be or not. Get a group of other entrepreneur friends you trust and meet with them regularly. Remember your business is not your child. Fail fast. Read. Keep whatever you are writing or saying very short. I update wiki.kimbrand.com from time to time with lots of info...

Question asked by Anonymous
How young were you when you decided to be an entrepreneur? I am not sure the kids I'm around know what that is, or that it's an option for them later in life!
Answered  9:32 AM
I started my first business right after I started working for my first employer after graduating from college. It was a motivation education franchise. I never did very well. Then I invented an electronic backgammon game that beat the world champion - but never made any money. Entrepreneurship is a big word. Just keep it simple: starting a business from scratch and making money and/or a difference. It's not for everybody. You need to be able to deal with rapid change, unpredictability, stress and problems you didn't know existed. You need to inspire a team and you are always SELLING.

Question asked by TMH
On the other hand, What is the best business advice/guidance you ever received?
Answered  9:35 AM
Too much good advice - and much of it I didn't follow. Keep a savings account - or marry someone who will. Pay attention to accounting - or pay someone who will. Cut all your income forecasts in half and stretch all your timelines by 3x. Here's one I can remember well: Cost of Sales will be much higher than you think...that was from Mark Hill of Baker Hill - an legendary Indianapolis entrepreneur.

Question asked by A
In case I missed it...What is 1st Maker Space, and how does it help students in the classroom?
Answered  9:39 AM
Kids want to make stuff. It's as much a part of their DNA as creativity. Neither of which are 'measured' by our current education system so it doesn't get taught. We want to change that. We think a makerspace belongs in every school. Like shop class 30 years ago but with modern tools like 3D printers and laser cutters . . . but just as importantly as hot glue guns, cardboard, straws and tape.) Once you see the engagement, focus, problem solving, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, inventing that kids are capable of you'd be amazed that more schools don't add making to their education toolbox (sorry for the pun :)

Question asked by Brandon
How do you "turn your brain off" so you are not always thinking about new and/or better ways to do things---or do you??
Answered  9:42 AM
I'm afraid that's not possible. I can try to redirect it - like figuring out why Christmas lights don't work :) But the maker mindset is a habit of thinking. You just look at the world through the lens of fixing/changing/adjusting/adapting. It comes from having that self-confidence that you CAN - SO YOU DO!

Question asked by John
What advice would you give to somebody who wants to be an entrepreneur and launch their idea?
Answered  9:45 AM
START NOW. Start small. Sell something (anything) to anyone. Listen to what they have to say about it. Take that feedback and improve what you are doing. Imaging growing that business. What will it take. How will it work. Who should be involved. How can you describe it better. Where are more customers. Ask them: WHY DID YOU BUY IT . . . or better yet: WHAT DID YOU BUY? Someone who buys insurance is buying peace of mind. A lady who buys eyelashes (I learned) is buying self confidence. Hang out with entrepreneurs. Expand your network. If you don't move or die you'll be growing your network every day. Do it on purpose. It will be the most valuable asset you have.

Question asked by Anonymous
If you could change one thing about the way we prepare youth for the world of work, what would it be?
Answered  9:48 AM
Breed self confidence into their education. If you have it you believe you can do anything. Without it you are worried you can't do anything. Lots of bad things happen when kids grow up hopeless and helpless. If kids graduate school thinking they are a C student - that 20%-30% of the other kids are smarter than they are that's the WRONG RESULT! We should put signs on schools that announce: WE'LL FIND OUT WHAT YOUR GOOD AT - not by testing you to death, but by helping you discovery what makes you happy. THEN - we can match them up with a career that meets their emotional needs as much as their financial ones.

Question asked by Jacie
Thanks for chatting with us today! Is there anything you'd like to add before the end of your chat?
Answered  9:51 AM
WOW! I feel like I've worked a whole day thinking so hard! If anyone wants to reach out after this I'd be happy to carry on off-line. This was like hanging out in the commons at a university and talking with friends (which I never did but thought would be cool! :) kim@kimbrand.com Thanks for helping McCoy do what they do! Money for them is an investment that pays better dividends than most of the businesses I've ever started! A SURE BET!



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?