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Month July 2013

Friday Link Fest…*

Friday Link Fest | rethinked.org | Photo by Elsa Fridman

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Welcome to the ‘Sharing Economy’ ~ “It used to be that corporations and brands had all the trust,” added Chesky, but now a total stranger, “can be trusted like a company and provide the services of a company. And once you unlock that idea, it is so much bigger than homes. … There is a whole generation of people that don’t want everything mass produced. They want things that are unique and personal.” via New York Times, published July 20, 2013.

The Mistake Smart People Make: Being In Motion vs. Taking Action~ Motion is when you’re busy doing something, but that task will never produce an outcome by itself. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will get you a result. via James Clear on Medium, published June 27, 2013.

Innovation Isn’t an Idea Problem ~In most organizations, innovation isn’t hampered by a lack of ideas, but rather a lack of noticing the good ideas already there. It’s not an idea problem; it’s a recognition problem. via Harvard Business Review, published July 23, 2013.

Encouraging Students to Imagine the Impossible ~ Dreams inspire learning, according to the founders of The Future Project, a venture for social entrepreneurship in high schools. via The Atlantic, published July 23, 2013.

Compassionate Mind, Healthy Body ~ Compassion research is at a tipping point: Overwhelming evidence suggests compassion is good for our health and good for the world. via Greater Good Science Center, published July 24, 2013.

Test the Rules Of Creativity ~ CEOs across the country are calling for more creativity from their workforces. Andrew Benedict-Nelson, of Insight Labs, talked with Matt Wallaert, a behavioral psychologist who has founded and advised several startups, to unpack what they really mean. via Insight Labs, published July 22, 2013.

Meet the 17-Year-Old Who Created A Brain-Powered Prosthetic Arm ~ “The educational system has boundaries, and you don’t have to work within the boundaries of systems. You can do things to achieve your own outcomes–that’s what I’m doing.” via FastCo.Design, published July 23, 2013.

How Diagrams Solve Problems ~ 3 common problems that trip up your creative process & how diagrams will help you solve them. Via Joe Ringenberg on Medium, published July 22, 2013.

Encouraging Connected Learning Means It’s Okay for Students to Opt-out ~ Facilitating Choice: Value & relevance around a learning approach must be something the child determines on their own. via Connected Learning Research Network, published July 23, 2013.

LOOK

A Tea Party That Encourages Random Acts Of Kindness ~ Clare Twomey sets up tea for 1,550–and an artful way to promote good deeds–at London’s Foundling Museum.via FastCoDesign, published July 18, 2013.

Free Comic Books Turns Kids Onto Physics: Start With the Adventures of Nikola Tesla ~ PhysicsCentral, a web site run by The American Physical Society (an organization representing 48,000 physicists), has created a series of comic books designed to get kids excited about physics. via Open Culture, published July 21, 2013.

20 Places to Educate Yourself Online for Free ~ via LifeHack, published July 22, 2013.

City in Sky / Mu Wei + Sam Cho + Yu Hui ~ 39 kids & their families explore the boundaries of architecture. Raises some brilliant questions…~ via ArchDaily, published July 17, 2013.

The Weirdest Typewriters You’ve Ever Seen ~ from the Mailing-Hansen Writing Ball, 1865 (Nietzsche’s favorite) to the Chromatic Typewriter, 2010, which paints with oils, these typewriters are sure to delight. via Flavorwire, published July 25, 2013.

Seven New Courses Coming from the School of Open: Sign Up Today ~The School of Open is offering its second round of free, facilitated, online courses. Through August 4, you can sign up for 7 courses on open science, collaborative workshop design, open educational resources, copyright for educators, Wikipedia, CC licenses, and more. Courses will start after the first week of August and run for 3 to 7 weeks, depending on the course topic and organizer.  via Open Culture, published July 24, 2013.

WATCH

How do you build a culture of innovation? ~ How does a successful company maintain a climate in which new ideas and risk-taking are encouraged? Tim Brown, CEO and president of the design consultancy IDEO, describes how he thinks about innovation and why empathy is an important part of the equation. via Yale Insights, published May 2013.

How An “Impossible” Aviation Challenge Led To An Innovation Breakthrough ~ { YES…* } Atlas won the Sikorsky prize by zeroing in on the right box to think inside–and then rigorously, intensely, and persistently analyzing it. “Achieving the so-called ‘impossible,'” he says, “is a matter of removing unnecessary constraints, and understanding what’s in the box.” via FastCo.Design, published July 23, 2013.

A Look At The Devastating Effects Of Food Waste ~ Data visualization video “Food Waste, A Story Of Excess” presents a quick look at food consumption in America. via PSFK, published July 24, 2013.

How to Teach Math as a Social Activity ~ A master teacher in Anchorage, Alaska, establishes a cooperative-learning environment in an upper-elementary classroom. via Edutopia, published February 8, 2013.

Shouldn’t Personalized Learning Be Personal? ~ “It’s not about actually finding the information anymore. So, I think the model we’re trying to develop with connected learning is to say, how can we use the capacity of these network resources, these social connections, to bring people together that want to learn together.” via Teach Thought, published July 26, 2013.

David Kelley on Creative Confidence, Building to Think, Defining Innovation, Multidisciplinary Teams & So Much More…*

David Kelley, founder of IDEO consultants and Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, shares his thoughts and experiences on a wide range of topics in this engaging hour-long conversation and Q & A with longtime television journalist, Richard Sergay. From building creative confidence, embracing failure, learning by building, multidisciplinary teams, defining innovation to facing his own mortality and his friendship with Steve Jobs, Kelley’s pointed and valuable insights are sure to resonate deeply with anyone interested in rethinking…* how we approach the challenges of the 21st century. I have transcribed some of my favorite stories and insights from the conversation, which took place at the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships 8th Reunion & Conference at Stanford, July 11-14, but the full video is well worth a watch.

d.school founder taps into humankind’s innate creativity | via Knight Foundation, published July 18, 2013.

{ CURIOSITY } As a designer, you kind of do everything in your life with intention. You know, like I decided to wear these shoes, or this wall is painted exactly or not painted the way exactly because of intention. And so, when you’re that way, you’re always wondering why things are because you’re about to have to design the future and so being curious about the way things are now and being empathetic to people is the way that you […] you know, if you’re responsible for painting a picture of the future with your ideas in it, being hyper diligent about understanding what makes things stick.

{ CREATIVITY } Everybody is wildly creative–go into a kindergarten class, go into a first grade, just don’t go into a fifth grade class. But as long as you go early enough, it’s really clear that everybody is wildly creative. When we started working on this notion of building creative confidence in people, we were thinking we would have to do some remedial work, it’s just not true. I mean hundreds of students come through this building and they’re all wildly creative. We just have to remove some of the blocks. What happens is, somewhere along the way, you opt out of thinking of yourself as creative–a teacher said that wasn’t a very good drawing, or you don’t pick up the piano in the first lesson. I mean, I know what this is because I opted out of athletics. I said, “I’m not athletic,” and that allowed me to play sports for the rest of my life but I told everybody that I wasn’t athletic so they lowered the bar. If you say, “I’m not creative,” that’s a strategy for having people not judge you. Because when we look at it, the big fear is this fear of being judged. The reason you move from thinking of yourself being creative, to thinking of yourself as not creative, is really a fear of being judged–that other kids can draw better than you or your idea is not going to be up to snuff.

{ MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAMS & THE GENESIS OF THE D.SCHOOL } People have been talking about multidisciplinary teams for like 25 years and at Stanford, I can tell you, that meant that faculty from different departments came together, they had a meeting, they fought a little bit and they said, “I’m never coming back to this meeting again.” And then we said, “check, we’re multidisciplinary.” But what I saw after I got tenure and I started teaching classes with different professors–I taught with an art professor, I taught with a computer science professor, I taught with a business school professor–is that when the students from the different departments came together, it was kind of easier to come up with innovations because they were coming from different places IF there was a glue that held them together. The problem with the meetings, where they didn’t work, is that there was no common methodology. So what everybody wanted to do is to do the same thing that they are doing now and have everybody else do it that way. And so the idea for the d.school came from the fact that I noticed people would sign up for our methodology. […] What we saw early on was that design, for whatever reason, was a methodology, was nonthreatening. It’s all so human-centered, so when you got people from different backgrounds together and you said, “Ok, let’s go out and build empathy for the people we’re trying to help in Africa or waiting for the train, or checking in to the hospital,” for some reason, all these various disciplines, these big shot professors who had been trying to win a Nobel Prize, going in in their way, we’re willing to do that. So I felt like I was just, luckily, in the discipline that had a methodology, we call it design thinking, that people would sign up to do. And so I decided that I had to try to touch as many people at the university as possible and I proposed this notion of an institute that could bring all seven schools together and that we would do it in this way that I had seen prototyped in these other classes. […] It’s really about this notion that in this multidisciplinary world, I think diversity is the number one thing that correlates to better innovation. So different people, with different ideas, from different backgrounds–if you can get them to have a methodology where they can build on each other’s ideas, you, by definition, get to places, to breakthrough ideas because those brains have never done the mind-meld to the result in that new thing. The reason that I ended up at the center of this is that our methodology seems to be a universally acceptable way to do innovation, problem-solving, and that kind of stuff.

{ DEFINING SUCCESS AT THE D.SCHOOL } Our success, if you can call it that, has to do with finding a way to get these students to think of themselves in a creative way. And it’s through this confidence that they build by doing–everything is a project, everything is a real world project, and so they see that they have this sense of the world and that they can do what they set out to do.

{ DEFINING INNOVATION } Somebody, I’m trying to remember who, said, “innovation is creativity plus implementation.” I think that resonates with me. Being creative is this notion of having an open mind and trying different things and not having this fear of being judged or failing or that kind of stuff. But innovation is doing something that has real impact on the world. So taking those new ideas and sorting them and synthesizing them and deciding what to do and measuring its impact is really innovation. I usually try to stay away from the word creativity, because it has this meaning associated with talent and artistic that I don’t really mean when I say “creative,” and try to use the word innovation most of the time.

{ FAILURE } The trick is to kind of fail early on so that you get to a new place. […] We reward a spectacular failure and a spectacular success in the same way in the early stages of the project. That allows you to have insights and build a point of view that comes from a wider range of possibilities because you’re not fearful about failing. But then, as we start to converge, we’re not looking for failure, as it were. […] It’s actually hard to fail in our process because it’s so iterative. So, you basically come up with ideas, you show them to everybody that is a stakeholder, including the person who is going to use it, they tell you what’s wrong with it and then you go back and redesign it or even redefine the problem. […] And so, if you do enough iterations, it’s hard to have a failure in the end, because it’s built in that we’re going to cycle through and improve and improve and show it to the people. So we’re not surprised when the product or service goes out into the world because we’ve messed with a lot of people before that.

{ BUILD TO THINK } We really believe, at IDEO and the d.school, that the kind of fastest way to get to an innovation is to not do a lot of strategizing and planning–you know, cash flow analysis out ten years and stuff like that–and that all that planning is useful but AFTER you’ve done what we would say ‘building’. We call it a bias toward action. So, if you want to improve the experience of taking the train to San Francisco, you could start analyzing the train and all that stuff but what we would do is just go talk to Caltrans and have them give us a car and try a bunch of stuff. You know, like tear the seats out, serve coffee on the platform or try to get our bikes on–do a bunch of stuff. We think it’s a way of thinking. This building, this doing, prototyping, whatever we’re going to call it, is a way of thinking. As opposed to the kind of grubby thing manufacturing does after all the decisions are made. We spend a lot of time getting the students and at IDEO, to kind of think about how can you be really clever about jumping right in and finding out as much as you can from building. And we don’t mean like in a machine shop, we mean by doing something in the real place, with the real people and it really works for us because then you start to have real empathy, you start to have real understanding of the situation–what’s really going on on that platform when people are waiting for the train and what’s really going on when they find their way out of the station or how they book their seat in the first place.

[ H/T ] d.school founder taps into humankind’s innate creativity via John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford, published July 18, 2013.

Friday Link Fest…*

Friday Link Fest...* | rethinked.org | photograph by Elsa Fridman

“Everything is sculpture. Any material, any idea without hindrance born into space, I consider sculpture.” -Isamu Noguchi

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It’s Summertime: Let’s Play! ~ The benefits of play are great — more far-reaching than just helping kids blow off steam or get a little physical exercise. In addition to helping kids learn to self-regulate, studies show that child-led, unstructured play (with or without adults) promotes intellectual, physical, social, and emotional well-being. Unstructured play helps children learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, to regulate their emotions and behavior, and to speak-up for themselves. via Greater Good Science Center, published July 15, 2013.

“We Have a Responsibility to Awe” ~ Jason Silva’s new passion project – “Shots of Awe.”  A TestTube series about what it means to be ALIVE – these 2-minute videos are like little jolts of caffeine right to the frontal lobe. via The Wonderist, published May 30, 2013.

Facilitating Group Problem Solving in High Schools ~ If you’re a designer interested in teaching in the high school classroom, or you’re just thinking about bringing student-led problem solving into your classroom or community group, try the following best practices we discovered during our pilot of frog’s Collective Action Toolkit (CAT) in high schools, in partnership with Savannah College of Art and Design’s (SCAD) Design for Sustainability program, Design Ethos, Gatorball Academy, and teachers and classes at Beach, Groves, and Savannah High Schools. via Design Mind, published July 18, 2013.

Turning waste into building blocks of the future city ~ Modern cities create vast quantities of waste. But rather than causing a crisis, could these overflowing landfills help create urban landscapes of the future? In the third of Building Tomorrow’s expert viewpoints, urban designer Mitchell Joachim looks at ways our trash can be turned into treasure. via BBC Future, published May 28, 2013.

How To Schedule Your Day For Peak Performance ~ Are you a certified organizational ninja? It’s okay, nobody is–so steal this idea from career kickstarter Amber Rae, who shares her “Work, Play, Fit, Push” framework for getting things done while staying inspired.  via FastCompany, published April 17, 2013.

Roger Martin on Designing in Hostile Territory ~ You don’t need anyone’s permission to think like a designer. But there are five things you need to do if you want to be effective in a “design-unfriendly organization.” via Business Week, published November 16, 2013.

Unlock Your Creative Genius: 4 Steps To Being Provocative With A Purpose ~ In his book, Unthink: Rediscover Your Creative Genius, Erik Wahl says that “purposeful provocation” should be a part of our personal and professional lives, every single day. Here are the four steps he suggests we need to take to inject a healthy disorder to remain progressive: via FastCompany, published July 17, 2013.

5 Scientific Ways to Build Habits That Stick ~ In our day-to-day lives, habits can often be tough to build, as there are plenty of distractions that can lead us off the “straight and narrow” and right back to our old ways. To alleviate some of those troubles we can examine some academic research on motivation, discipline, and habit building, and break down their findings into actionable steps that any aspiring habit-builder can put into place. via 99u, published July 17, 2013.

LOOK

To Encourage Sharing And Reading, Creative Places Free Books On Subways ~ In her project ‘Books on the Underground’,  London-based creative Hollie Belton, leaves books at subway stations and on trains on the London Underground network—where they are to be taken, read, shared and enjoyed. via Design Taxi, published July 18, 2013.

Technology Is a Tool, Not a Learning Outcome ~hand-drawn image by author Bill Ferriter on the role that technology should play in teaching and learning spaces. via MindShift, published July 12, 2013.

LIFE at Lascaux: Early Color Photos From Another World ~ via TIME, published January 23, 2012.

The faces of education: stunning photos from the classrooms around the world Julian Germain started his “Classroom Portraits” series in 2004 in North East England, and since then he’s been everywhere from the Middle East, to Africa, to North and South America capturing the spirit, students, and visual culture of school rooms around the world.~ via GOOD, published July 17, 2013.

16 Real Modern Technologies Predicted by Inspector Gadget ~ Vanity Fair sifted through Inspector Gadget’s 86 episodes to see what this crystal ball of technology foretold. The results are a surprising collection of then fantastical products and concepts that we couldn’t imagine living without today. But perhaps the most forward-thinking model might be the show’s core relationship: a computer-obsessed child doing her best to explain technology to her forever clueless parental figure.via Vanity Fair, published July 11, 2013.

Villagers ‘Grow’ Bridges Using Vines And Roots To Cross Rivers ~ In the state of Meghalaya, India, villagers have been directing tree roots and vines to ‘build’ bridges for 500 years. By using hollowed out tree trunks, they guide these plants to the other side of the river and allow them to take root. In a region which receives much rain, it is counter-intuitive to make a bridge out of wood planks as the wood will rot. The natural solution was to use the surrounding plants as they would strengthen over time. via Design Taxi, published July 16, 2013.

WATCH

Sir Ken Robinson on How to Find your Element ~ Finding one’s passion and true purpose in life is essential to human flourishing. via RSA, published July 5, 2013.

What Happens When You Let Artists Play With San Francisco’s Trash ~ Trash can be beautiful. Just take a look at Recology San Francisco’s Artist in Residence Program, which lets professional and student artists run wild with the waste management company’s garbage. via FastCo.Exist, published July 19, 2013.

Martí Guixé: Food as an object of mass production ~ From a hands-free lollipop to a cake that displays its ingredients in pie-chart form, Martí Guixé’s work challenges perceptions of reality. The Catalonian designer works with food as an object of mass production, often creating interactive experiences. Working across food, platform and system design, Guixé’s work is often playful – like the parties he had to get partygoers to help him decorate retail interiors! via Design Indaba, published March 29, 2013.

The 7 Essential Life Skills ~ Ellen Galinsky on the 7 essential skills–focus & self-control; perspective taking; communicating; making connections; critical thinking; taking on challenges; self-directed, engaged learning–humans need to keep learning and growing throughout the lifespan. via BigThink, published July 18, 2013.

5 Great under 6 minutes TED Talks for Teachers ~ via Education Technology & Mobile Learning, published July 16, 2013.

Rethinking…* the Value of Play & Its Potential to Transform Education

“To be at play is an experience–you feel ideas of freedom, of being able to be creative, to make choices, to try out things, to experiment, to explore. I actually think it’s a state of being that, when you’re at play, you’re in a very different state of mind. You have a kind of openness about ideas. Definitely, when you’re at play with other people, there is an openness to what does it mean to be with these people in this space. You’re communicating with them, you’re trying to understand, “well, how can I relate to them?” “How can we do something together?” You’re always kind of pushing and pushing and exploring and feeling. Rather than a really close rule-bounded space, where you’re nervous about suggesting something or trying something or taking the next step. So that openness of that space feels incredibly important to people that are collaborating and are trying to engage in ‘what-if’ questions around what they might do together, what solutions might be to things, how they feel about each other. It’s a very very human experience.” – Katie Salen

Enjoy this fantastic video on the crucial importance of play to the human experience, produced by Nic Askew and commissioned by The Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. The film centers on game designer, professor and executive director of the non-profit Institute of PlayKatie Salen. Salen highlights play as one of the fundamental human experiences and frame of mind for experiencing the world. Based on Salen’s discussion of play, the film poses several poignant questions to help us rethink…* the value we give to play in our lives and our educational system.

  • Might we have underestimated the value of ‘play’?
  • How would your life look if seen through a playful state of mind?
  • Might confidence sit at the heart of an extraordinary education?
  • Might a playful frame of mind stand to transform the experience of education?
  • Might a playful state of mind enable the strength of our true human spirit?

Play & rethink…*

Connected Learning: Playing, Creating, Making from DML Research Hub on Vimeo.

Three Prompts to Help You Rethink…* How You Might Create A Remarkable Life

{ This is the third and final post synthesizing insights from this year’s third-annual World Domination Summit } 

WHAT’S YOUR SHAME & HOW DO YOU COVER IT UP? | Donald Miller

In his speech, Donald Miller shared a fascinating conversation he had with a friend. On the back of a napkin, his friend drew a circle, which he labeled ‘Self’, he then drew a concentric circle over the first one, which he labeled ‘Shame’, before adding a final circle encompassing the first two, labeled ‘Personality’. Miller’s friend explained to him that when we are born, there is just our core self, then at some point along the road to adulthood we discover and internalize shame. Our personalities are those traits we cherish and develop to help us cover up and compensate for our shame to protect our self. To better illustrate this, Miller shared what his own diagram looked like– in the first circle he wrote ‘Don’. He labeled the second circle “Not Enough” and the in the third he wrote, ‘humor’ and ‘intelligence’. Miller’s shame is the nagging feeling that he is not enough–not good looking enough, not smart enough, not loved enough–simply, not enough. For him, it is very important to be perceived as funny and intelligent. This is what helps him feel as though he matters, as though he exists and is relevant to other people. I was truly awed by Miller’s courage and generosity, to stand on a stage and share with 3,000 people his core shame was very inspiring.

This diagram may seem a bit overly simplistic at first, but after giving it much thought I found it to be an incredibly powerful tool for simplifying and laying out the source of many internalized and long-held fears and dysfunctions. Miller pointed out that to create something real, something worthy of our full potential–and creating one’s life certainly seems worth the effort–this act of creation needs to come from that core self.

Miller shared another anecdote from one of his own therapy sessions, where his therapist drew the outline of a person contained within a second slightly larger outline. She asked Miller to write down how he felt about the person inside, the core; DON/SELF. He wrote: calm, funny, cheerful, serene, creative. She then asked him to write in how he felt about the person closest to his skin, his exterior-PERSONALITY. Miller found himself writing, stressed, anxious, defensive… The therapist asked Miller how old that person deep inside was, he answered that he must be about seven years old, she then had Miller role play a conversation between the two. What if the two could communicate? What if the adult, outside outline could reach in and soothe the little core outline. What if they could collaborate and face the world together? Something to consider…*

 

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WHAT IF YOU FOLLOWED THE SPARKS THAT ENERGIZE YOU RATHER THAN YOUR PASSIONS? | Darren Rowse

Follow your passion, yes–but more saliently, follow the sparks that energize you. ~ Blogger extraordinaire, Darren Rowse, shared that for his first two years as a blogger back in the early 2000s, he did not know how to bold text. He started blogging after a friend of his sent him a link to a blog he enjoyed reading and which prompted him to want to start his own. As Rowse’s experience with blogging illustrates, the issue with following one’s passion is that we often do not know where that passion is until we explore and experiment with new things. Rowse recommends paying close attention to the things, ideas, experiences, people and situations that energize you and finding ways to engage more deeply and frequently with these sparks of interest and energy.

 

WHAT MIGHT YOUR PERSONAL CREED LOOK LIKE? HOW MIGHT YOU CONTINUALLY ITERATE IT? | Jonathan Fields

In a workshop entitled How To Live A Good Life, Jonathan Fields shared his Living Creed with the audience, going over each point of the creed. What I particularly liked about the Living Creed is the way in which Fields framed it, as “a dynamic doctrine based on current knowledge.” It’s a continually evolving document as it adapts in real time with Field’s current knowledge base. I attempted to do something similar three months ago when I wrote down everything I had learned thus far about being a knowmad. I have a copy of it in my wallet, which I never take out. I wanted to revisit the list daily and remind myself of these truths I had learned along the way, but have failed to take it out of my wallet, even just once. I liked how Fields framed his Living Creed as something not simply to be reread regularly but rewritten continually. I wonder {hope} if doing so would help provide a stronger impetus to translate knowledge into daily action.

 

GoodLifeProjectCreed
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Jia Jiang on Rethinking…* Rejection

Jia Jiang on Rethinking...* Rejection | rethinked.org

“Rejection is constant. I have people writing emails saying, “I want to get to a certain place in life so I don’t get rejected anymore.” That’s not true; the higher you go, the more you will get rejected. In the latest presidential election, President Obama got 51% of the popular vote, he won. But we forget that he got rejected by half of the country. This is the leader of the free world, he got rejected sixty-one million times.” -Jia Jiang 

Last Thursday, in my first post about this year’s World Domination Summit, I owned up to some deeply negative and counterproductive coping strategies for dealing with situations that take me outside of my comfort zone. Frankly, I had a bit of a panic attack after selecting the “publish” button. I had just publicly admitted to shutting in on myself when faced with uncertainty, I had owned up to the fact that I have a tendency to become critical and disengaged for fear of what would happen if I were to embrace the risks of uncertainty. All I could think was, “what were you thinking?”, “What have you done?”

What I had done was take the first step in following through on a promise I made to myself during the summit, right after hearing entrepreneur Jia Jiang’s brilliant talk on reframing rejection. I promised myself to be more open and honest about my fears, so that I may face and push past them. The point that Jia made about rejection which resonated most strongly with me was that rejection is inevitable, it is a constant in life. If we shy away from asking for or going after the things we want for fear of being rejected by others, we reject ourselves. We reject our own potential and dreams. When he said that, I realized that I was constantly rejecting myself and hiding this dreadful truth under the guise of my “comfort zone.” I was experiencing rejection every day, and it was not even the type of rejection that I could grow from, since it only included me, myself and I. If rejection is a constant in life, I want to experience the productive type. For that to happen, I have to stop rejecting myself and give others the chance to do it.

Jia’s story began in Beijing, China, where he was born and raised. When Jia was fourteen, he attended a lecture given by Bill Gates who was visiting Beijing. Deeply inspired by Gates’ speech, young Jia decided that he would grow up to become an entrepreneur. He wrote a letter to his parents, in which he laid out his goals and intentions: to become a world-famous entrepreneur and to build a company larger than Microsoft. A couple years after hearing Gates’ speech, Jia was given the opportunity to study in the United States, the first step in his achieving the American dream. And then he took off, he went to school, did very well, got a job, a house, a car, a white picket fence and a dog. He achieved the American dream, and in doing so he veered off course from his personal truth, the path that would create meaning and purpose in his life–to become an entrepreneur.

On his 30th birthday, Jia’s wife announced that she was pregnant, which prompted Jia to re-evaluate his life course and realize just how far off track he had gone. If he had not been able to pursue his dream of becoming an entrepreneur as a single man and then as as husband, how would he be able to pull this off as a father? Jia shared his regret with his wife to which she responded that while they would always be able to get a new job, a new car or a new promotion, they would not be able to erase and undo regret. She gave him six months to quit his job and start a new venture. If after the six months were up, his business had not attracted any funding or traction, he would start looking for another job but at least he would have given his dream a real chance. Four days before the birth of their son, Jia quit his job to pursue his dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Four months in, Jia had the possibility of getting serious funding, which would allow his venture to really take off. Unfortunately, when the call came, the answer was negative. Feeling devastated by this rejection and surprised at how deeply it had affected his sense of self, Jia was ready to fold, save himself and his family from another two months without a steady income and reenter the job market. His wife reminded him that she had given him six months, not four, to do this and told him that it was out of the question for him to give up until the full allotted time was up.

So Jia went online to learn more about rejection and coping strategies. This is when he encountered Jason Comely’s Rejection Therapy. Rejection Therapy is rather straightforward– it is framed as a game with one simple rule: get rejected. One goes out into the world and actively seek rejection by making absurd requests from people. Jia decided to try out Rejection Therapy for 100 days and blog about the experience. He was amazed to find so many people saying yes to the outlandish requests he made (getting customized doughnuts from Krispy Kreme representing the Olympic symbol–yes; flying someone’s private plane–yes; driving a police car–yes). And he was even more surprised to see how many people were engaging with his personal experiment and blog. Jia had found his way back to the path that held meaning and purpose for him. “Being an entrepreneur is about finding a problem and developing a solution for it.” And Jia had found a universal problem, people’s fear of rejection, and resolved not to stop until he finds a solution for it.

While the video of Jia’s talk at the World Domination Summit will not be made available for a couple more weeks, he shares many of the same ideas and insights in the talk embedded below which he gave at this year’s TEDxAustin conference.

 

Enjoy & rethink…*

“If I open up myself to the world, the world will open itself up to me.” –Jia Jiang

Surprising Lessons From 100 Days of Rejection: Jia Jiang at TEDxAustin | published February 19, 2013.

Friday Link Fest…*

Friday Link Fest...* | rethinked.org

WE ARE THE LANDSCAPE OF ALL WE KNOW ” – Isamu Noguchi

 

READ

Want To Help Kids Solve Problems? Have Them Design Their Own Solutions ~ via FastCoDesign, published July 11, 2013.

Empathy’s Non-Verbal Language: Six tips on how to reach children through our actions ~ via Ashoka, published July 10, 2013.

Improving 3-D Printing by Copying Nature: Biomimicry could make the technology safer and better ~ via National Geographic, published July 7, 2013.

LOOK

Monumental Plant Sculptures at the 2013 Mosaicultures Internationales de Montréal ~ via Colossal, published July 9, 2013.

A Strategy For Promoting Resilience In Children ~ Catch, Challenge, & Change. via Teach Thought, published July 9, 2013.

Total Strangers Who Have Never Met Pose Together In Intimate Portraits ~ via Design Taxi, published July 12, 2013.

51 Sources Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Free eBooks ~ via Teach Thought, published July 11, 2013.

The Modern Seaweed House by Vandkunsten and Realdania Byg ~ via Dezeen, published July 10, 2013.

WATCH

How 80,000 Bees Printed A Bottle For Dewar’s ~ via FastCoCreate, published July 9, 2013.

55 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for the Dog Days of Summer ~ via Open Culture, published July 9, 2013.

4D printing: buildings that can change over time ~ via BBC Future, published July 11, 2013.

How Do We Live A Remarkable Life In A Conventional World? Start by Pushing Past What You Know…*

{This is the first article in a series of posts synthesizing my experiences and insights from the 2013 World Domination Summit }

rethinked.org

This past Thursday I took off for Portland, Oregon to attend the third-annual World Domination Summit. Even on the plane ride over, I still was not entirely sure what WDS was other than that it centered on the key question “How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?” and the themes of community, adventure and service. Founder Chris Guillebeau and his team made clear in their communications that this was not a business mixer nor a convention but rather, a “coming together of unconventional, remarkable people for a weekend of adventure.” I was excited and a little bit apprehensive to find out just what that meant.

Weeks before the summit, we were asked to think about and articulate some personal goals for the event. My main goals were to get outside my comfort zone, and disrupt my routine.

On Friday afternoon I made my way to Director’s Park to register, hoping I would get a better sense of what this was all about. As I stood in the D-G line, waiting to get my pass, I noticed a man one line over in a full gorilla bodysuit, overheard another attendee explaining to an inquisitive Portlander that WDS is about establishing a new world order, “corporations are over and it’s time for everyone to wake up to that reality.” When I finally made it to the top of the line, I was handed my name tag, a collection of notebooks, maps and a schedule, and a sheet of ten stickers to “customize” my badge. I began to have serious doubts about the summit, worrying that this was not my brand of ‘remarkable’.

That evening, at the Oregon Zoo for the opening ceremony, I made the acquaintance of a delightful man named John. John was kind, friendly, passionately curious and easy to talk to. I finally started to relax. In the course of our conversation, he made an intriguing observation that resonated deeply with me. A local Portlander, he was sharing his love of the city and the thrill of being able to go skiing year round. I told him that I was a dreadful skier and he corrected me saying, “you’re not a good skier…yet.” Several times during our conversation he reframed what I had said with this little ‘…yet’ framework. He asked me what my goals for the summit were and I shared with him how I had hoped to get outside of my comfort zone.

As I sat in my hotel room that evening wondering why I had been feeling so negative all day, I realized that the discomfort was stemming from my uncertainty–I was in a completely new city (in fact, it was my first time on the West Coast), attending an event that persisted in evading definition, with some die-hard WDS fans who considered themselves part of a tribe and many of whom seemed to already know each other. I am quite shy and felt overwhelmed with meeting so many new people in one go.

If you have spent any time on rethinked…* or checked out our Twitter stream, you know that embracing risk and uncertainty is a very big theme for us. I am constantly reading, writing, talking and thinking about the importance of being fluid, adaptive and open to the potential of uncertainty. But here is my dirty little secret, while I am knowledgeable and well-informed about the immense potential and opportunities that embracing uncertainty creates, I have an incredibly difficult time translating that knowledge into action in my own life. Dominic defines wisdom as the ability to translate one’s knowledge into impactful, salient action, and the truth is that I am not very wise when it comes to embracing risk and uncertainty in my every day. I have a very low threshold for uncertainty and when I find myself in situations that push past that threshold, my primary goal becomes getting back to my comfort zone. One of my strategies for doing that, I’m dreadfully embarrassed to admit, is to dismiss what I do not know, to refuse the possibility that I may learn something and grow from embracing and exploring that unknown.

As I looked down at my name tag, still hanging around my neck, prominently displaying my name and “traveled 2475 miles”, it became very clear that I had a choice to make. I could keep playing it safe, dismissing these different views and frameworks, or I could embrace this opportunity, realize that there was no actual risk or threat to my being and go with the flow. I chose the latter, because I had traveled across the country for this opportunity, but more importantly, because I knew I would not be able to deal with the uncertainty of wondering, once I had returned to New York, what may have been if I had opened myself up to this experience.

The rest of the weekend was a blast, I met fantastic and inspiring people and was exposed to a whirlwind of intriguing ideas, many of which centered on the very theme of embracing and redefining risk, failure and uncertainty, such as Jia Jiang’s brilliant talk on reframing and embracing rejection (more on those ideas in the following post).

On my last day in Portland I decided to visit the Japanese Gardens (which, alone, are well worth a visit to Portland). I went to the Visitor’s Center in the hopes that they would be able to help me make sense of the MAX, Portland’s transit system. The lady at the counter was very helpful and provided me with maps and a detailed explanation of how to reach the gardens. We chatted about the Washington Park station, which is the deepest subway station in the whole of the United States and she promised that I would get to experience the fastest elevator ride of my life (at which point, I turned a bit green). As I was thanking her and getting ready to leave she asked me where I was visiting from. When I answered, Brooklyn, she burst out giggling and looked at me with a sense of genuine surprise, exclaiming, “Oh my gosh, a friendly New Yorker! Imagine that!” I laughed along with her, feeling awash with gratitude and excitement. Pushing past what I knew and rethinking…* assumptions–my own and helping others, in however small a way, rethink…* their own–was what a weekend of “community, service and adventure” had meant for me.

{ molo } design, play & rethinking…*

“I think everybody is at some level a maker. I constantly flashback to being a little kid doing things, probably a lot of us stop doing that after we’re not kids anymore but it’s really natural because it’s a form of play.”

Here’s a short video on Vancouver-based design studio molo to infuse your Tuesday with inspiration.

Enjoy & rethink…*

via Fast Company, published June 13, 2013.

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