Paces of learning

We are frequently learning at a linear rate. Slowly accumulating knowledge, ideas and skills.

Rarer is when we learn at an exponential rate. This type of learning is often reserved for new frontiers and failures.

With the right conditions, exponential learning can be replicated time after time. By having a bias to action, prototyping and testing assumptions in a human-centered way, you will find learning abundant and your pace will kick into overdrive.

The job shadow problem

What if any kid could (figuratively) raise their hand and say “I want to be a nurse” and then get set up on a job shadow with a nurse. Or a teacher, or a lawyer, or an entrepreneur, or a chemist.

We have plenty of willing adults and we have thousands of students needing exposure to potential career paths.

All that’s missing is the connection between the two.

It’s a problem that uber, airbnb and other sharing economy companies are all built to solve. We live in a connection economy and the opportunities to make change are more abundant than ever.

Why find differences?

It’s too easy. There are so many ways you could point out how two things don’t work together.

The harder, more important work is finding common ground. Doing the empathy work necessary to integrate two seemingly opposed objectives.

The more you can do this, the more you can create win-win situations for everyone.

The “wow” factor

It matters.

Especially when you’re working with young people or skeptics. People who don’t quite believe in the value yet. People who aren’t bought in.

If you can “wow” them, or more importantly, if they can “wow” themselves, you’re onto something.

The Disney Trash Cans

In a class I took, I heard an experiment that Disney did years ago.

They found the maximum distance people would travel to throw away trash. Say it was x feet. Then they made sure at any given time, there was a trash can <x feet away. According to legend x was 30 steps.

Who cares? Well, Disney was faced with a challenge because people litter. Trash sits around. Drinks spill. The park looks messy.

They could have put up signs that said “throw your trash away” or “$250 fine for littering.” But instead, they chose to make the right behavior easier by having more trash cans and placing more optimally.

When people on your team, in your organization or community aren’t behaving the way you would like them to, you have two choices. You could yell and hope it works. Or you could make the good behaviors easier.

I have a guess at which would have better results, but I’d say it’s worth an experiment or two.

The pitch collaboration

When the goal is to support entrepreneurship, why create a competition when there doesn’t need to be one?

Opportunity is abundant and choosing a scarce number of winners disregards that fact.

Rather than ranking people, why don’t we develop everyone? Not just by offering funding, but by offering resources, connections and new ideas.

It’s not a competition, it’s a collaboration. It’s a way for everyone in the audience to show up and add value to the lives of others. It’s a way for all participants to benefit greatly from sharing their ideas.

It feels like a magical possibility and I can’t wait to try it in just a few months.

Writing it down

Writing it down never hurt.

All the swirling thoughts in your mind.

Write them down.

The uncertainties, the fears, the dreams.

Write them down.

The chaos, the stress and the to-dos.

Write them down.

The brilliant ideas that pop in and out.

Write them down.

The appreciation and gratitude for those around you.

Write them down.

The love you feel right now.

Write it down.

You won’t regret it.

Zoom in zoom out

What is the thing?

Why does it matter?

Zoom in on something concrete.

Zoom out to make an abstraction.

Zoom in on a specific example.

Zoom out to draw a broader conclusion.

Design, innovation and entrepreneurship require the ability to do both. To focus intensely on getting something done, but also to imagine the future.

Zooming in and out is a helpful lens no matter what challenge you are faced with. If you’re having a bad day, you might be fixated on a little thing that went wrong. Zoom out. Does it really matter in the big picture?

At any given time, it’s good to know how zoomed in or out you are. It’s a natural technique many people use, but making it explicit can help you recognize when you need to get unstuck.


There exists a fascinating concept that truth comes from seeing many possible perspectives.

Imagine truth as an object. When you see from one viewpoint, you only get part of the picture. Kind of like when your iPhone needs your finger for touch ID. You have to put your finger down multiple times before the device is satisfied.

Truth is kind of like that. One perspective will not reveal everything. There is no objective measure that says “you have seen this from enough sides.”

Perfect information is never available. It’s your job to do the best with what you have, while at the same time gathering more insight.

Manysidedness is the constant desire to re-examine past beliefs. It’s also the judgment to know when it’s time to act.