Silly sales

Tis the season of sales and unnecessary purchases. But as we proceed into tempting 40% off deals and buy one get one frees, let’s think a little more deliberately about the point of all this.

An item that costs $150 and is on sale for $120 is a good deal. But is the item worth $120? Is it worth $150? Is it really worth $200+?

Instead of determining value based on the percentage sale, determine value for yourself. Don’t let a retailer make a giant sign that changes your mind.

Before you make an impulse buy, think about the true worth of an item.

If a pair of shoes is worth $100 to you, and they normally cost $80 and they’re on sale for $60, what do you do?

Well, if you want them right now and they’re worth $100 to you, buy them! But if you don’t want them or need them right now, then wait. Wait until you do need them because it’ll still be worth it even if they’re not on sale.

Decide on value for yourself. Start with how much an item is worth, not how much it’s on sale for. The power is in your hands.

Everyone is lonely

Part of my life thesis is that everyone is lonely. Everyone is looking for better human connection. To be understood and appreciated for who they are

Yet all of the structures around us optimize for exactly the opposite. Shallow interactions in loud bars, the mask of being okay and not needing to share details with friends and the overemphasis on status.

So how might we develop new social norms?Ones that make purposeful vulnerability a regular occurrence. Ones that facilitate meaningful connections and prioritize shared experiences over status

What would a world look like if no one were lonely?

Finding states of growth

Being at Stanford for a week surrounded by brilliant people doing impressive work, it’s easy to feel like you’ve learned a lot.

As I came home, I was scared that growth mindset would diminish. I wouldn’t be as engaged in learning since home is not as exciting as an innovation conference. But I learned an important lesson yesterday that you can find growth in many places. For me it was driving a forklift on a tractor and moving branches. It put me out of my comfort zone. I messed up a few times but I got back on and did it again.

I tried something new and learned something new. Maybe for you that looks like cooking a side dish, playing a game or asking more questions.

There are states of growth everywhere. Lean into discomfort and find ways to learn in any situation.

Give some thanks

Not silently or in your mind

But out loud, in writing or with your eyes

Tiny ways to start

As I work with students pursuing ideas, the hardest part for them is finding a tiny way to start. What sets apart those who start projects and those who do not, are the choice of what it means to start. Those who make progress pick a tiny way to begin and then they gain momentum from there.

Others who never begin do lots of research, delay the hard part and end up leaving perfectly good work unpublished.

It might not be perfect, but we want to see your work. Dig through your drafts and show us the true story. Taking action is the only way.

Going rogue: Running a pop up 20k passion 3000 miles from home

It was a sunny, November day in San Jose, California. Standing on a street corner in downtown with an entire afternoon to kill, we had a crazy idea. San Jose State University was a few blocks up the street. We could check out the campus and start asking people about their passions.

We had sticky notes and a small piece of cardboard, the only missing ingredient was the daring to approach a stranger in an unfamiliar place. We deliberated. Sitting on a bench nervously waiting for someone to walk by.

“What are you passionate about?” Matt Criscuolo, my partner in wild ideas, asked a student.

No response.

Sometimes a small failure feels just as a good as a success. They’re both progress. With that one under our belt, we were off to the races and the moments were amazing.

With an emphasis on personal connections, we refined the interaction. Instead of settling for just a passion, we asked follow up questions. Asking for examples of what their passions look like in action.

It got deep fast.

One student’s passion was “seeing past the surface.” When prompted, the student began talking about how society perceives addicts. How very few people are able to see past the surface and find the human being. He explained that he knows how it feels to be viewed in this way.

We appreciated his vulnerability. We hugged. And we wished each other well.

My mind was blown. Realizing how a simple question “what are you passionate about?” could spark such a powerful moment. We came to this campus as strangers, and we left having shared experiences more personal than I’ve shared with people I’ve known for years.

We met passionate teachers, first year students excited to return home for Thanksgiving and athletes recovering from injury. We heard from a woman who wished she could spend the holiday with her husband who was traveling. And again our hearts were touched after a student wrote the passion “friends and family” and it felt like he had more to say. So we asked. He shared that a friend recently passed away and he went to the services and now he’s determined to spend more time with the people who matter.

The moment hung in the air. We felt the vulnerability. The honesty. That’s what it’s about.

All we have are moments. What more could we wish for?

To UIF

To the most diverse, inspiring and energized team I’ve been a part of.

32 people working together to coordinate four days of programming for 400+ students.

Designers, entrepreneurs, engineers, change makers, but most importantly, humans.

The workshops were fun. The learning was experiential. The stories were moving. People facing challenges, overcoming and sharing what they learned. Inspiring others to be vulnerable and take a stand for a better world.

The being on the leadership team for the University Innovation Fellows Silicon Valley meetup was an experience for which I have no words. Human beings coming together and performing a super human feat.

Thank you all for the opportunity. Though the event is over. I’m still here for you.

The path to improvement

It doesn’t matter where you start, it’s how fast you improve. If you can continue creating work, sharing it in public and iterating, you will get better faster than someone creating in isolation.

The isolated creator progresses linearly. Slowly improving day by day. The public creator grows exponentially. Improving significantly after each iteration. Gaining a following, spreading ideas and making an impact on human lives.

So why isn’t everyone on the exponential path? Because it’s scary. Because it’s hard. Because you have to show up every day and share something with the world.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Show up tomorrow ana share something.

Minimum viable life changing

You could create a semester long course for 1 hour every day with 20 people and not a single one of them would leave changed.

Or you could have an hour conversation with one person and it would change their life.

So if the goal is to change people, and I think it is, then let’s start there. Before we get carried away with the class and the curriculum and all of the logistics, let’s keep one person in mind. Then, let’s think about the smallest possible thing that would change their life. Start there and make it happen.

Breaking the trust barrier

Change requires trust. But trying something new is never perfect. It’s often messy and uncertain.

When someone trusts you to try something new, there’s a good chance the trust will break. If only for a moment. Something will go wrong.

What happens next is crucial. If you work to rebuild and improve, the mutual trust will increase. If one party panics and decides they will never trust again, trust disintegrates.

The scary part is, at that moment where trust looks broken, what’s needed most is one more ounce of belief. Are you willing to give it?