Solving Big Problems: Innovation is Not Creativity

What happened to the future?

What Happened to the Future? is the title of the manifesto of the Founders Fund. The subtitle is “We Wanted Flying Cars, Instead We Got 140 Characters.” Jason Pontin in the MIT Technology Review wrote an article entitled “Why We Can’t Solve Big Problems:”
[B]ig problems that people had imagined technology would solve, such as hunger, poverty, malaria, climate change, cancer, and the diseases of old age, have come to seem intractably hard….
Max Levchin, [a] cofounder of PayPal, says, “I feel like we should be aiming higher. The founders of a number of startups I encounter have no real intent of getting anywhere huge … There’s an awful lot of effort being expended that is just never going to result in meaningful, disruptive innovation.”

Juicero

The idea that “there’s an awful lot of effort being expended that is just never going to result in meaningful, disruptive innovation” is brought to life in a Guardian article by Ben Tarnoff, “America has become so anti-innovation – it’s economic suicide:”
Juicero made the perfect punchline: a celebrated startup that had received a fawning profile from the New York Times and $120m in funding from blue-chip VCs such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Google Ventures was selling an expensive way to automate something you could do faster for free. It was, in any meaningful sense of the word, a scam.
Juicero is hilarious. But it also reflects a deeply unfunny truth about Silicon Valley, and our economy more broadly. Juicero is not, as its apologists at Voxclaim, an anomaly in an otherwise innovative investment climate. On the contrary: it’s yet another example of how profoundly anti-innovation America has become.

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Advertising Creates a Climate of Violence Against Women

Advertising is an over $200 billion a year industry. We are each exposed to over 3000 ads a day. Yet, remarkably, most of us believe we are not influenced by advertising. Ads sell a great deal more than products. They sell values, images, and concepts of success and worth, love and sexuality, popularity and normalcy. They tell us who we are and who we should be. Sometimes they sell addictions.

“We all grow up in a culture in which women bodies are constantly turned into things, into objects.”

budweiser-bikini-girls-violence

“Of course this affects female self-esteem. It also does something even more insidious. It creates a climate in which there is wide-spread violence against women.”

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I-CAMP Creating Gods

People ask for God, ’till the day he comes
See God’s face – turn around and run
God sees the face of a man
Shaking his head, says “he’ll never understand”
“Understand”
The Roots featuring Dice Raw and Greg Porn

Mitsuru Kawai started working at Toyota Motor Corp. in 1963, in April he was promoted to the post of senior managing officer, the highest position ever held by a blue-collar worker in Toyota’s eight decades.
“When I joined, Toyota had two plants, producing just 300,000 vehicles a year. Last year it made 10 million vehicles. I got to witness that entire evolution,” Kawai said. “I’m one lucky man.”
Mitsuru Kawai

Mitsuru Kawai, senior managing officer at Toyota Motor Corp., poses in the forging department at one of the automaker’s plants in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture. | BLOOMBERG

“When I was a novice, experienced masters used to be called gods, and they could make anything.”

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Seven Magazine: Effective Marketing in the 21st Century

Ask, and it will be given to you;
Seek, and you will find;
Knock, and it will be opened to you.
~ Matthew 7:7

Seven magazine

On January 11th, 2010, about two weeks after my mother, Lezlie Linder, past away, I posted the above image on Facebook. Now over five years later, I am again working on bringing Seven magazine into fruition and changing the nature of marketing and advertising.
Lezlie Linder

Seven magazine is dedicated to Lezlie Linder.

Overwhelming clutter has made traditional advertising nearly worthless for most businesses. We live in a world that has become ad rich but idea poor. We are tired of being bombarded with ads—we want instead to be inspired by ideas that will change our lives. Ads may create transactions, but great ideas create transformations. Ads reflect our culture, ideas imagine our future.
Cover for the premiere issue of Seven magazine

Draft of the cover for the premiere issue of Seven magazine

The fact that people are tired of ads is demonstrated by the use of DVRs to skip television commercials and the use of ad blockers on the Internet. According to a TVGuide.com survey of over 5,800 respondents, 96 percent say they fast-forward through on their DVRs.“Ad blocking is beginning to have a material impact on publisher revenues,” says Mike Zaneis, general counsel at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a US industry body whose members account for four-fifths of the country’s online advertising market.

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Triune Brain

Paul MacLean’s “Triune Brain” theory, whose basic idea is that every human brain contains three independent competing minds – the reptile, the early mammal, and the modern primate.

Another big problem with traditional advertising is that it mainly engages the “lizard brain.” Whether you know it or not, we all have what Seth Godin refers to as a lizard brain. He says, “The lizard is a physical part of your brain, the pre-historic lump called the amygdala near the brain stem that is responsible for fear and rage and reproductive drive.”

“The lizard brain is hungry, scared, angry, and horny.”
“The lizard brain only wants to eat and be safe.”
Seth Godin No lizard
Godin writes in The Icarus Deception:

[T]he lizard brain is the resistance. The resistance is the voice in the back of our head telling us to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise. The resistance is writer’s block and putting jitters and every project that ever shipped late because people couldn’t stay on the same page long enough to get something out the door. The resistance grows in strength as we get closer to shipping, as we get closer to an insight, as we get closer to the truth of what we really want. That’s because the lizard hates change and achievement and risk.

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Everyone Can Create

Kevin Ashton - How to Fly a Horse

The encouraging part is that everyone can create, and we can show that fairly conclusively. The challenging part is that there is no magic moment of creation. Creators spend almost all their time creating, persevering despite doubt, failure, ridicule, and rejection until they succeed in making something new and useful. There are no tricks, shortcuts, or get-creative-quick schemes. The process is ordinary, even if the outcome is not.
Creating is not magic but work….
The best artists, scientists, engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and other creators are the ones who keep taking steps by finding new problems, new solutions, and then new problems again. The root is innovation is exactly the same as it was when our species was born: looking at something and thinking, “I can make this better….”
The creativity myth confuses having ideas with the actual work of creating….
The best way to create is to work alone and evaluate solutions as they occur. The worst way to create is to work in large groups and defer criticism. Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs’s cofounder at Apple and the inventor of its first computer, offers the same advice: “Work alone. You’re going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features if you’re working on your own. Not on a committee. Not on a team….
The vast majority—98 percent—of teachers say creating is so important that it should be taught daily, but when tested, they nearly always favor less creative children over more creative children.
[This] effect is not restricted to schools, and it persists into adulthood. Decision makers and authority figures in business, science, and government all say they value creation, but when tested, they do not value creators.
Why? Because people who are more creative also tend to be more playful, unconventional, and unpredictable, and all of this makes them harder to control. No matter how much we say we value creation, deep down, most of us value control more. And so we fear and favor familiarity. Rejecting is a reflex.
How a Fly a Horse
By Kevin Ashton

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Make America Again! The Documentary

Make America Again!

Langston Hughes

We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!
“Let American Be American Again”
By Langston Hughes

 

And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday.
~ Isaiah 58:10
Hope Community Services

HOPE Volunteer Coordinator Sue Gedney, New York State High Chess Champion Joshua Cola, 94 years old volunteer Iris Freed and Terrance Jackson. HOPE Community Services is the largest food pantry/soup kitchen in Westchester County. Photo: http://www.geneshaw.com/

Following in the footsteps of people such as Jack London, George Orwell, and Steve Jobs, Terrance Jackson spent over two years homeless in New Rochelle, NY and discovered the power of empathy to fuel innovation and creativity:

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Entrepreneurship as a Cure for Violence

Success Indicator
I-CAMP is a program to teach young people entrepreneurial skills such as computer programming. I-CAMP stands for Intrinsic, Community, Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose, which are fundamental elements for building wealth and health. According to Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow:

If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas, like Chicago, have been labeled felons for life. These men are part of a growing undercaste — not class, caste – a group of people who are permanently relegated, by law, to an inferior second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits — much as their grandparents and great-grandparents once were during the Jim Crow era.

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