Today I have the honor of sharing a conversation I had with one of my closest friends / mentors. Brandon has been one of the biggest influences on my journey, and much of who I am today can be attributed to him.
Show Notes and References
- Brandon’s background as a child (3:12)
- When Brandon began thinking for himself (5:20)
- Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsburg (http://www.amazon.com/Education-Millionaires-Everything-College-Successful/dp/1591845610)
- Brandon’s journey through education (7:35)
- Brandon’s learning framework (12:55)
- The 4 Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss (http://www.amazon.com/4-Hour-Chef-Cooking-Learning-Anything/dp/0547884591)
- The learning framework applied to learning piano (15:00)
- The biggest gaps between learning and education (17:50)
- Brandon’s journey after college (18:23)
- What recommendations would you give younger people? (24:45)
- Start with Why by Simon Sinek (http://www.amazon.com/Start-Why-Leaders-Inspire-Everyone/dp/1591846447)
- Ramit Sethi (http://iwillteachyoutoberich.com/)
- How to network (29:55)
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Andrew Carnegie (http://www.amazon.com/How-Win-Friends-Influence-People/dp/0671027034)
- Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi (http://www.amazon.com/Never-Eat-Alone-Expanded-Updated/dp/0385346654)
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (http://www.amazon.com/Power-Habit-What-Life-Business/dp/081298160X)
- Habits and attitudes that change everything (33:56)
- How Brandon does his mornings (38:12)
- What success means to Brandon (40:18)
Peter Thiel talks about how in economics, competition and capitalism are opposites.
In a similar thread, I’ve been thinking about the effects of competition and grades when it comes to our education system. The system is set up with the belief that grades play two main roles: the role of measuring how much you’ve learned, and the role of motivating students to do better. But as a side effect, grades breed competition.
And then there’s learning. Just as competition and capitalism are opposites, I find that learning and grades are also opposites. Learning a very personal endeavor, and is always best achieved by having personal agency and drive to learn. By standardizing learning and encapsulating it within grades, we have taken out the most powerful force of learning and turned it into more of a routine.
And even though grades don’t inherently cause competition, they do create a quantified gauge of an arbitrary number that is supposed to reflect how well you’ve learned. But unfortunately, instead of serving as a guideline, many people use their grade not to reflect how well they have learned, but how well they will be able to avoid the punishment that comes with receiving poor grades – whether it be social, academic, or otherwise.
Learning is also a very organic process. It’s a process in which you take in knowledge presented by another human being and you integrate it into your own life. It’s almost an adaptation of knowledge into understanding and application.
I’ve found that I do my best learning through personal curiosity, creativity, and self-directed practice. I find that a very good way to get myself disinterested in a subject is to take a class on it.
Learning is most powerful when it is organic, and our education system is often the furthest thing from organic.
I’m extremely excited to announce something that I have been working on for the past couple of weeks.
Ever since I started diving into the world of podcasts about a year ago, I’ve wondered what it would be like to host my own.
As a team member of BrightEyes, a study tour program that provides undergraduates at UCSD with the opportunity to experience an industry firsthand, I’ve decided to leverage the BrightEyes platform for my podcast. In this episode, I have the privilege of interviewing one of my mentors and the founder of BrightEyes herself.
The BrightEyes Podcast is the official podcast for BrightEyes. Tune in every month for a new podcast! The podcast features various individuals part of the BrightEyes community. BrightEyes team member, Daniel Kao, will be joined by founders, investors and various industry professionals to chat about college to real world transition, career development, industry trends and startups. Visit our site (brighteyes-students.org) to learn more about the program and what’s next!
Give this podcast a listen, and feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts, questions, or comments!
Show Notes and References
- Tiffany’s background (2:09)
- How Tiffany began exploring careers in college (3:30)
- Tiffany’s trip to New York and how that impacted her career (5:18)
- How do you reach out to professionals? (7:02)
- How did BrightEyes get started? What were the challenges in the beginning? (8:56)
- The two years of BrightEyes tours, and the difference between them (11:52)
- Where BrightEyes is headed in the future (15:45)
- Self-awareness and the power of knowing yourself (17:52)
- Networking is about adding value and building a relationship (21:05)
- What it’s like to be on the mentor side of the relationship, and why Tiffany does BrightEyes (23:35)
- What is it like to be a female in a very male dominated industry? (25:30)
- What does success mean to you? (28:29)
- What advice would you give your 10 year younger self? (31:10)
- What daily routines are crucial to your life? (31:52)
- Find out more about Tiffany @tiffanydstone, http://tiffanydstone.com/
- Find out more about BrightEyes @brightEyes_news, firstname.lastname@example.org http://brighteyes-students.org/
For the first time in my existence, I boarded a plane for New York City. I was headed for Student Voice Live! 2014, a convening of education stakeholders from all across the United States.
As I was struggling to stay awake during the board meeting, one of my colleagues shared about how the work that Student Voice does should be actionable and foster tangible change.
I hesitantly wholeheartedly agree with that statement. Hesitant because I know that making a tangible dent in the face of global education is not only a daunting task, but an extremely difficult one. The education system is one of the largest systems in the world, interconnected with just about everything else and encapsulating over a million different issues. And it’s challenging to even imagine how a small team of students could even make a difference in such a space.
But as the day went on, and Student Voice Live! happened, my eyes were opened to conversations and more importantly the potential of impact in a way I have never seen it before.
Even though Student Voice is a relatively vague concept that tends to spark more discussions than action or results, it still is a determining factor in how the students of today are prepared and empowered to take on the problems of tomorrow.
There’s been some research done into this idea, but the challenge today as it has always been, is figuring out how to arrive at a goal that is so seemingly abstract.
I don’t necessarily have a good answer for that at the moment, but I do know that this past weekend was an example of students coming together and using their voices to put something on that was tangible.
Over the past couple months, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. The founders of The New School SF, a charter school to open in the fall of 2015, asked me to help support their web and marketing initiatives. It’s always been a dream of mine to be a part of starting a school, an item on my bucket list that I thought I wouldn’t be able to cross off until decades later.
The New School SF is a charter school with three main distinction points. Firstly, the school will be k-12, making it a complete 13 year program from kindergarten to graduating high school. Second, the school will be mixed income, promoting diversity and openness to all of San Francisco’s children. And last (and probably the most exciting personally), the school will have an inquiry based education model.
The inquiry model is a model that is based fundamentally on student inquiry. The student takes initiative in asking the questions and figuring out how to learn. Through exploration, exposition, and expression, students are able to use the innate curiosity to fuel their passion to learn. I’ve read and written about inquiry based models for a long time, but I’ve only ever used it myself, not in an environment of a whole group of students.
Through exploration, exposition, and expression, students are able to use the innate curiosity to fuel their passion to learn.
Over the last two weeks, The New School SF put on a pop-up program in which we were able to bring together a class of students ages 5 to 10 to attempt an inquiry based learning unit. We had amazing teachers from the UCLA lab school (a school doing inquiry based learning for the last 100 years) come in to show us the ropes of inquiry based education.
The students learned about roots and wings through creating collaborative projects, learning aspects of communication along the way. Pictures can be found on our Flickr album.
Even though I was running around doing errands, taking pictures, and designing the website, I realized that even the process of what I was doing was a manifestation of experiential learning. In one of the debrief meetings after a day of the pop-up, I listened in on insights and perspectives of teaching that I’ve never heard before. Besides feeling completely unqualified to be a part of those conversations, I saw how inquiry based learning starts with building community and identity, and attempts to relate everything to empowering a child’s dream.
Throughout the whole two weeks, I couldn’t help but wish that my own education had been inquiry based. Getting to know each student individually brought a whole new depth of learning to each of the students that brought growth in a mere two weeks. I already miss the kids, but I’m excited to see how inquiry based learning scales from two week pop-up to a 13 year program.
“We all spend so much time putting up walls so that others can’t see our vulnerabilities, but those same walls often enclose us within our own insecurities” – Adam Braun
The Promise of a Pencil, a book by Adam Braun, details the journey of starting the “for-purpose” organization Pencils of Promise. Adam Braun, although coming from a upper middle class family in New York, responded to questions and challenges in a very uniquely purposeful and significant way. He recounts near death experiences, being laid off, and other big risks and realizations.
In short, Pencils of Promise is a nonprofit organization that seeks to bring education to children all over the world, mainly through fundraising and building schools in other countries. They’ve scaled to the point of opening a new school every 90 hours.
What fascinated me the most about this story was Adam’s ability to think outside the box, go against the life career path that he was set up to take, and go down his own unique path.
Let’s face it, we’ve all made excuses as to why we are not capable of taking a bold step to change the world. We’re not tall enough, fast enough, smart enough, rich enough, social enough, weird enough, knowledgeable enough, skilled enough, qualified enough, etc. Our excuses aren’t completely irrational, as much historical data points to people more or less growing up to remain in the same social position as their parents. Malcolm Gladwell even argues in Outliers that much of who we become is a function of our background and environment we grow up around.
I’ve always found this to be a tricky debate, torn between seeing people stuck with struggles similar to their parents’ and the idealistic hope of the American Dream. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that rising above the “glass ceiling” isn’t about working hard, but working smart.
Simply working harder won’t necessarily bring you to winning a Nobel Peace Prize, starting a company, or changing the world. In fact, many times hard work without proper grounding in passion and purpose leads to burn out and frustration. The question in our modern day connection economy is no longer how many units can you produce on a product line, but how can you work to be effective in the things that you produce?
Today is my birthday, and I’m giving it to help give kids an education. I’ve partnered with Pencils of Promise in an attempt to raise $1000 for kids all over the world. It would truly make my day if you could help some kids out!