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In Life

By Daniel Kao

Adapting, Pivoting, and Flexibility

On 24, Mar 2014 | 2 Comments | In Life | By Daniel Kao

When things are the same year after year, being successful means sticking to a very rigid way of working in order to systematically achieve your goals.

But in many industries today, the only constant is constant change.

Moore’s law states that computational power doubles for the same price point every 18 months. This means that every year and a half, the power of our computers double. Computing power is growing at an exponential rate, enabling technologies and solutions to our world’s problems at an extremely fast pace. Pretty soon driverless cars, smart watches, and other smart technologies will be implemented into everyday life.

When nothing is constant and everything is changing, being too rigid can get in the way of keeping up with surroundings. One of the greatest assets of a person in today’s economy is the ability to think on their feet and learn quickly.

I had the privilege of visiting IDEO in San Francisco today, to learn a little bit about the culture of innovating, prototyping, and product designing. IDEO deeply embodies the culture of innovating by creating, researching, and testing.

“It is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission.”

Be quick to recognize and solve problems, and quick to learn and adapt.

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Learning to Start a Movement Online

On 20, Mar 2014 | No Comments | In Entrepreneurship | By Daniel Kao

Fifty years ago, a movement was started by gathering people together in physical locations in huge numbers to create significant demonstrations. The civil rights movement is an example of this. Thousands of people gathered together and marched for their freedom.

Today, movements are started by bringing people together virtually on social media platforms to make their voices known.

In theory, they seem similar. But in practice, the rules are completely different. The Internet brings much more visibility in much less time, which leads to a lot less commitment and a lot more noise. Taking a stand for something by joining a demonstration is on a completely different level than taking a stand by tweeting.

It’s more common to post something online that happens in real life than to share something in real life that you find online.

Websites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy have taken off recently because they’ve tapped into an understanding of the psychology of people hiding behind computer screens, especially younger people. They do this by creating short, triggering headlines that is usually over-exaggerated. People who read these websites “like” and “share” what they read, and maybe get a kick out of it for the next week, but it usually doesn’t make a difference to them a couple months down the line.

Movements today need to figure out how to powerfully and effectively cut through the noise, taking advantage of people’s short attention span and generally flakiness to build something that is strong and effective.

I haven’t figured it out, but I’m trying. What have you noticed?

photo credit: wili_hybrid via photopin cc

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I Don’t Know How to Study

On 17, Mar 2014 | 2 Comments | In Education | By Daniel Kao

I’ve never learned how to study, and I’ve never been particularly good at it.

And by studying, I don’t mean learning; I’m plenty good at that. I mean cramming knowledge into your head that you don’t really have a reason to care about in order to regurgitate it on an exam. I have no clue how to do that.

It’s amazing how much people are able to get done in the time spent procrastinating on studying. All of a sudden chores like cleaning the bathroom have a new appeal to them, because suddenly it appears more fun than what you should be doing.

The education crisis isn’t about how the United States is doing on PISA scores, it’s about students not being engaged in affordable, relevant, communal, collaborative, effective, and practical venues of learning.

I prefer learning over studying. Learning is about connecting the dots. It’s about synthesizing information given in a way that is relevant and practical to each person as an individual. It’s about an individual taking raw material and working with it in a way to build something unique, not something that’s been done hundreds of times before.

Studying is about adhering to a standard, learning is about failing. Studying is done in order to learn material so that people know the right answer, while learning is about trying new things and growing from whatever the outcome is.

Learning is about the process, studying is about the result. We have enough people posing as know-it-alls because they are afraid of being real and sharing their failures. It’s not their fault; schools train people to stand up and speak down on people, as if they are talking from a greater place.

Studying gets you through school. Learning gets you through life (Tweet That). I think I’d rather get better at learning than studying.

photo credit: betta design via photopin cc

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In Life

By Daniel Kao


On 13, Mar 2014 | No Comments | In Life | By Daniel Kao

“If you plant a redwood in a forest, it can grow hundreds and hundreds of feet, but if you plant a redwood in a pot, it won’t grow very far. Everyone has potential, but where they root themselves makes a huge difference.”

Many times the inability to accomplish something has little to do with you individually, but the environment and people around you.

The challenge is knowing the difference between what you are capable of doing and what your environment is empowering you to do. It doesn’t matter whether a flower is planted in a pot or a forest, it doesn’t make a difference on how high the flower is able to grow.

Thus, no matter where you are at or what you are doing, always ask if the people around you are helping you become the best person you can become, and adjust accordingly.

photo credit: skoeber via photopin cc

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