Category Archives: Science

Does Your School Hinder Creativity?

school hallway

Imagine one day you come to school after working hard on an essay only for your teacher to tell you that it is trash and you need to go back and rewrite it. You think to yourself, “rewrite it? But I just spent all night working on it? It was great when I turned it in.” You go back and work on it again and when you turn it back in the teacher marks it up again. You can not figure out what is going wrong so you turn to your friend in class and ask them to look it over. They tell you it’s not in the format and outline the teacher wants. You get mad that the teacher didn’t say that, or least you didn’t pay attention or read the instructions, and so you blame it on the teacher for not explaining it clearly. You write the essay again in the format required and end up getting a B- because it was turned in late. You are happy and move on with your life.

The example above is one that many students experience over and over everyday in school. It is the reason so many students lose interest in certain subjects because they didn’t follow directions or the teacher was not clear enough, or in some cases the teacher is only looking for a certain format. Any student in English class will lose interest in the art of writing after going through an experience like that because they learn that writing should only be formatted a certain way instead of a form that expresses how the author thinks and feels. Take that similar feeling and imagine the number of students each day who lose hope in ever getting good at math because they keep getting bad grades. Not all students are proactive enough to seek out help and in many cases they are waiting for someone to come and help them.

That is the case for many students at all levels of school. Not everyone is a leader and not everyone will seek out help. Students gauge their level of skill on the type of grades they get not really knowing that they have the ability to get better, if only someone provided them with support. So what about the super-achievers at school? The ones that want to impress and show off their talents? Where do they end up? Many of the overachievers get the support they need in class and at school because they know to speak up and raise their hands and attend after school help. They seek out the resources they should be using and take advantage of them. But what happens to that one student who gets punished because the understanding of one teacher, or teachers, mistook their amazing efforts for something terrible? What does that do to a child’s psyche and self-esteem? A lot of damage actually.

The Teachers at Schools in America
Teachers in America do not have to have the most rigorous training or educational achievements in order to teach in a K-12 classroom, infact, math teachers in majority of places do not have to have any kind of college math training or degree in order to teach math at the highschool level. This is why most high school coaches teach math and science, aside from the fact that they don’t have to throw any kickbacks to the math and science teachers to keep their athletes grades up in order to play, because they already have a certificate in addition to a education degree to teach in a school. I do need to point out that many schools are changing the requirements but for majority of them, which are public schools, they do not require more than a state teaching certificate and degree in college, most likely an education degree.

If math teachers are not required to study math in college than what does that say of the requirements for other teachers in their subjects? Do English teachers need to have read all the books they are required to teach in school or do they only need to know how to write and create curriculum lessons as long as they have a degree in education? The sad thing is that the college of education at most universities in America are the dumping grounds of the students who can not make it in any of the harder degree fields. Infact, the requirements for a degree in education are so simple that even the college students themselves take it because they know it is a knock-off degree that will get them a paying job after college. Of course little do they know, because they don’t bother to actually study, the economy is flooded with education degrees making them more worthless than they already are.

Don’t forget these are the same people that will be teaching your children study skills and the importance of getting an education later on. Scared yet? The challenge with that is that most teachers do not have the versatility in education to understand all the subjects students are learning in school and this is where problems arise.

Why Finland and East-Asian Countries Produce the best students
They do not mess around when it comes to education. Here is an example of what that means in South Korea: on the day of the exam that determines where seniors in high school will go after they graduate, police, airports, and transportation services all ensure that students do not have any distractions – this means no planes flying overhead during exam time, no traffic congestion so police block off and reroute traffic away from schools, and taxis offer free rides so students can get to school on time before their exam. That is what a nation, dedicated to providing a proper role model for students, does to show how important education is.

School days there are long so that means students learn to get along better with everyone but that is not everything. When the majority of the day ends the students change clothes and start cleaning their school. This very behavior teaches students to appreciate and take care of the very place that will give them a nice future. They are required to mop, sweep, clean, and take out the trash. That very dedication to taking care of the school lowers the costs for so many things that the school doesn’t have to worry about. Students notice more things than a regular janitor would so if there is a light broken somewhere then a student can go and fix that right away. After they are done cleaning they all go to the cafeteria and have dinner together and when that is over they head back to class until it is time to go and study with their independent tutor schools. There is a strong focus on studying and parents make every effort to ensure that students get all the help they need but also that the teachers teaching each class have proven themselves worthy to teach. Infact, the independent tutors work on a capitalist system which means that the higher demand for one teacher from students means more pay. You can read about how this teacher gets paid just as much as people in silicon valley because of his excellent teaching skills. These high standards coupled with students taking care of their schools produce high quality students.

Finland, on the otherhand, has made it a point to ensure that any teacher in front of any class has gotten the best training the top universities have to offer. The top job to have in their country is a teacher, whereas, kids in the US are told that the top job to have is to become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. Students respect their teacher because they understand how hard it was for them to even get in front of that class and teach. It is about the same amount of training that a doctor in America would receive, if not more. This is why they tend to be number 1 in the world in terms of producing the smartest students in the world.

Finland is the top role model in getting students to understand how important an education is and to understand what you want to do with it. How many schools like that exist in America? Chances are you would have to attend a private school to come even close to what Finland offers for free to all their students. Infact, students there have more freedom to do things on their own than in South Korea and America.

So why can’t schools in America strive to be the best?
The simple answer: paranoia from parents, politics and bureaucracy. Education is always ignored and the education budget is always the first on the chopping block.

Poor Education Leads to Terrible Mistakes
Students in schools take for granted that their teachers are always there to help them. Many students like to show off and impress their teachers because it makes them feel good about themselves and what they are able to do but it also is a way for someone in the same area of interest to acknowledge what they have accomplished. Unfortunately the lack of education on one teacher can have devastating consequences on a student. In this case the situation with Ahmed Mohamed is a perfect example of what happens when a teacher, in this case an Engineering and English teacher, were not able to determine whether a device is a bomb or just a clock.

Let’s look closer at what could have caused this problem. Ahmed said that he showed the clock he made to his engineering teacher who was very impressed but showed concern. It might confuse someone else that a student with a certain type of name and skin color might cause some problems. That part is assumed. In this case it lead to a huge problem with a student being arrested because a teacher, a high-school teacher at that, was not able to decipher correctly that an engineering project was a threat. What could cause a teacher to not understand the significance of what this student at his age, 14, was able to accomplish? Lack of science, tech, and engineering background. If you build and tinker with stuff all the time you will quickly learn what wires are used for what, how clocks are actually made, in this case a digital clock, and what all goes into a project like this. You would also know that in order to make a bomb of that size, some chemistry will be needed but in this case there were no liquids, radio controller, moving parts, external power source, or anything contained except the clock board and some circuits.

Does someone need to study these things in college in order to understand this kind of complex stuff? No, actually it was the same stuff I learned in middle and high school so it is not like a special background in this stuff is necessary. I attended an engineering high school where we were always building things and taking them apart and putting them back together and never once did I ever feel scared that a teacher would mistake what my friends and I were doing as something wrong. It takes experience and education in order to create a safe learning environment where students are pushed further.

In the case of Ahmed, it was his English teacher that got frustrated with the fact that his alarm clock was going off in class and took it away from him out of fear that it was a bomb. Teachers now are required to report any kind of disturbance or suspicious behavior to the office and alert the police. In this case the teacher’s lack of understanding caused Ahmed to be arrested at his school wearing something that only dedicated students of science and tech would wear, a NASA t-shirt.

So what is going to happen to Ahmed’s English teacher? The one responsible for all this mess? Are there going to be any consequences for their behavior and lack of science education? The simple answer is nothing will happen to a poorly educated English teacher. They will continue on with their job teaching more students in the coming years. Sad right? A student gets suspended and arrested but nothing to the teacher, why? Politics and school bureaucracy, plain and simple. Union rules make it extremely difficult to fire teachers but Michelle Rhee knows how to do it the right way. Those same union rules also make it difficult to fire a teacher who has had sexual relations with a student.

Lack of Education lands Trip to Google, Facebook, NASA, MIT, and the White House
In many cases this situation has shown a bright light on a student that would have otherwise had to have proven themselves the regular way like most students. If not for the lack of education by the English teacher Ahmed would never have been invited to the White House;

Mark Zuckerberg would never have known who this teenager was from Irving Texas,

and MIT and it’s student body would never have worked hard to create their own clock

and invite him out for a campus tour.

Google even saved him a seat with a complete invitation to their science fair.

The CEO of Box has invited Ahmed out to tour their company.

The whole world has taken notice of all the cool projects and gadgets that Ahmed has been creating for years, all for his love of science, technology, and engineering. The English and Engineering teachers are examples of people that are considered obstacles to student’s careers and for many high school students they would have lost their interest in what they love to do because of someone else’s poor judgement. It is great to know that Ahmed will be transferring to a school that will encourage and reward his creative endeavors but now that the top names in science, engineering, and technology know who he is, it won’t be hard for him to land a job right after college. Many top tech companies have already offered him an internship, including Twitter itself.

If Ahmed takes up all the offers he has been given his high school years will be unlike anything a typical teenager gets to do. He will have access to so many amazing people and places that he will be a role model for other teenagers to follow. Ahmed could easily build this into a program that helps more students connect to the top people and companies in the world by encouraging them to follow their passion in STEM programs. If I was Ahmed I would talk with all the people who invited me, build trust and raise funds to start outreach programs to get more students into building things and learning about how they can help their community.

The support from the science community, especially NASA and scientists has been amazing.

NASA sent out a tweet about all its programs for students

Ahmed was invited to the Toronto show Generator. which is a science-based variety show on Oct 28th and many supporters have offered to pay for his flight and hotel.

Former Astronaut Mark Kelly even tweeted his support for Ahmed

The outpouring of support from companies, institutions, and people show that they have to pick up the slack that schools still can not do on their own. They showed their encouragement to Ahmed because it is important not to kill any interest a child has in what they love to do. The world needs critical thinkers as well as STEM people too. It is even harder to find programs that combine both. The sad thing though is that schools love bureaucracy so much that it hinders the kind of help students actually get in school. For many public schools they are simply a place for adults to have a job and nothing more.

Why Schools Kill Creativity
Sir Ken Robinson gave one of the greatest TED talks on this topic explaining how and why schools kill creativity. Surprisingly enough many schools have done very little to fix this problem since his famous talk, instead, forcing more students to study in the areas that kill creativity. The hard part about creativity is that it is a very abstract thing to teach but it can be taught but only by those who know how to get the best out of students. In the book, Creating Innovators, the author, Tony Wagner, explains that the very teachers that produce the most innovative students are never considered for tenure at their universities because of politics and bureaucracy. Instead of changing the rules and encouraging more of these teachers, universities still focus heavily on professors that can bring in more research money instead of producing high quality students that have already proven how they will change the world. It is that backwards way of thinking in the higher education institutes that hurts students in the long run.

The other issue is teaching to the test that all teachers are forced to deal with. Many say that it limits their time and ability to get students interested in their subject because they have to make sure they cover certain topics every week in order to make sure they are on track for the test. That is one way of killing creativity for sure. The limits that teachers have on their time to teach hurts the future of this country because America is known as the powerhouse of innovation but how can you create innovators when you have to stick to a standardized level of learning. The students who are naturally smart and want to excel tend to get bored in their classes faster because there is nothing there for them to do. I remember in several of my classes in middle school and high school there were times when I had completed majority of the course work before it was even assigned and since the teacher didn’t know what to do with me I was just left to work on coursework from my other classes.

The teachers that are the best are the ones that push you past your limits and never give you the answer, even when you ask for it. They challenge you to try harder and they know when you need help and that is the only time they offer assist which is only after you have exhausted all your options. Students like Ahmed need learning environments that push him further and have the resources available for him to continue learning past what he already knows. The schools and universities that produce the best students are the ones that combine group work with multidisciplinary fields which focuses more on work than just reading.

This means that if you want students to learn chemistry then you need to give them more projects that require them to explore the properties. If you want students to learn Shakespeare then why not have them act it out in class instead of just students reading one paragraph at a time? You have to engage the students in creative ways that gets them to apply what they have read in order to see how it works. Ahmed has been doing this on his own for a long time and so when he goes to visit all the top Silicon Valley companies he will never want to leave because he will see people doing things that he wants to do right now.

Sir Ken Robinson wrote a book called, Creative Schools, in which he lays out an actionable plan that anyone in education can follow. The talk he gave is a way to inspire and motivate people to take action and his books provide all the resources and insight as to what people need to start doing. The rise in home-schooling has lead to a push-back of standardized testing but at the same time, many of those kids don’t come close to what exceptional kids have and that is, an internal motivation to really learn and create. It has been the case that I have met many parents who call their kids natural geniuses but in all my time working with kids it has been very difficult actually finding just a handful. Every parent calls their child naturally-gifted but that can not be true for every child and it is only the ones that create that set themselves apart from everyone else. I don’t care how high your test scores are, if you have nothing to show for how smart you are then you are just being selfish to the world.

Rewards and Positive Future
In the time since all this has happened to Ahmed, he has gained more support from people who realize there needs to be more of a push to help creative students. We need more critical thinkers so this means more people need to get a liberal arts education and on top of that we need more STEM people combined with entrepreneurial training. It is difficult to find schools that combine all three but they are out there like Olin College where students can build their own major and incorporate all areas of learning into the process of learning and building.

The engineer who can build something and see the complete impact of their product on the world at every level of the life-cycle process while at the same time determining if this will actually benefit the users and the environment are more important than the engineer who only knows how to build because they are told to do it by their employee.

It is great to see that Microsoft got in on the action of helping Ahmed by sending him an awesome swag box of tech goodies. The kind of tech goodies I would geek out on. If you click this link you can see the picture of all the stuff he got for being a science, engineering, and tech nerd. Microsoft sent a tweet saying they can’t wait to see what he creates with all of it. The number of invites shows that more students need to be encouraged as to what all is out there for students of STEM backgrounds.

Creating Enriching and Innovative Environments for Students
Freedom to Explore and Learn
Students need an environment that allows them to explore and find out how things work and where they come from. They need to know they can go out and attend events and meet people who will get them to see a new perspective in this world. I am always encouraging students that they need to attend as many events as they can in their city, especially SXSW and Startup programs. Students who explore on their own gain an advantage over students who can only do things with their parents around.

Watch lots of TV and Movies
The most creative people in the world work in Hollywood and if you want to see what kind of work they create, just turn on your TV or go to the movies and see. Peoples’ lives have been changed because of a movie or TV show. They are meant to touch and inspire people to see a different way of experiencing the world by what the writers, producers, directors, and actors create for everyone to see. The more you watch the more ideas you get.

Read a lot
The same can be said for books too. They open your mind to a creative world of imagination. The more you read about someone or something the more your mind begins to take on its own way of seeing things. Books are a gateway to the writers soul and when you see the works that people from the past to the present have created, you begin to see there is so many different ways to get inspired to create something. This also includes reading the news every morning.

Creative Teachers that Push students
These type of teachers are hard to find and they come in the form you least suspect. In the movie, Stand and Deliver, you have a teacher who came in and changed the lives of students who would have otherwise never gone to college. The amazing thing about what this teacher did was that he taught all his students to pass the AP calculus exam without a calculator, what teacher could do that today? Movies like The Power of One, Lean on Me, Spare Parts, Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, The Karate Kid, and McFarland, USA are all examples of great teachers pushing their students to do their best and showing them the natural gifts they have. Unfortunately the bureaucracy that is set up in schools do not reward the efforts these teachers make and that is why it is hard to find and keep them.

Connecting Students to Outside Opportunities
Students learn a lot of different things everyday at school but no where do they learn how to apply it in the real world except in class projects. Students need to be connected with programs outside their school that relate to what they are interested in doing and how that applies to the world. It is not enough to study and get good grades, students need to learn how to apply their knowledge. You need special teachers who will take the time to take students to programs that connect them with people who do what they love professionally.

Always on the look out for excellence
This part is hard to find in schools, even universities. Schools should always be on the look out for exceptional students who go beyond what is asked of them. Those are the students who need to be encouraged to work harder and learn more. When a school identifies a student like that and rewards them it raises their self-esteem and benefits the world later on.

Devotes time for Exploration and Play
Students need to know that they will have time to try out the things they are learning. They need to explore and play with stuff in order to see the issue they are covering from all sides. Play and exploration are the key components to creative learning. It engages the mind by taking what they are learning and allowing the student to see how it all fits together based on the projects they are doing.

Ahmed set off a firestorm of a debate about how students in schools should be treated for their natural talents. It is important for schools to teach students areas of interest that will help them later on in life. There is a rising trend of students from high school joining more trade schools and even coding schools because it means a shorter time in school and a higher paying job later on. They miss out on the fact that going to college is supposed to get you a well-rounded education, of course, that is for the students who truly apply themselves.

If you feel your school is not giving you the education you want and not providing you with the opportunities you thought you would get to have then you need to start looking at how you spend your time. How many student organizations are you apart of? How many internships have you done? What projects have you created on your own that relate to what you are studying? That should give you an idea of how you spend your time and once you start connecting with clubs and programs at your school the opportunities will open up. If your school doesn’t offer what you want, then start your own program or find a school that does.

Ahmed will have no problem picking what school he wants to attend and which company he wants to intern with and eventually work for. Like I said before, his options are wide open now so for every other student who has to do things the regular way, they just need to know that they need to start creating stuff that will show off their skills, as well as, help other people. I hope Ahmed is getting some good advice about how he should use his new fame.


News Articles

Family: Ahmed Mohamed, clock-making teen, transferring to another school

Here’s the ‘Bomb’ Clock That Got Ahmed Mohamed Arrested

Handcuffed for Making Clock, Ahmed Mohamed, 14, Wins Time With Obama

Ahmed Mohamed: No charges for boy, 14, arrested over clock

Facebook, Google roll out welcome mat to Ahmed Mohamed

Even NASA loves the teen arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school

Microsoft Seriously Hooked up Ahmed Mohamed After That Clock BS

They thought it was a bomb’: 9th-grader arrested after bringing a home-built clock to school

Why a ninth-grader’s arrest over a home-built clock struck a chord across America

#IStandWithAhmed: Scientists and the public surge to support boy arrested for homemade clock

How to Make Your Own Homemade Clock That Isn’t a Bomb

This teenager discovered a new planet on his third day at work

Tech companies Stand with Ahmed, offer the young inventor opportunities

NASA opportunities for students

Google Programs for Students

Improve Yourself with Books to Read in 2015

If you did a search right now on the top ten books to read for 2015, you would probably find tons of lists already out there. The challenge with this is that there are so many genre of books now that the lists are endless. Twenty years ago things were not as complicated because most “Must Read” book lists came from large chain book stores and newspapers. Now we have so many different sources on what to read, including this blog right here, that it is hard to narrow down just what all is good to read.

Goodreads is a good place to start if you don’t already have an account. If you love reading you need to open yourself an account and use it. I use that website just about everyday when I update everything I am reading. They have tons of lists to follow, groups to join, book reading challenges, and more. I enjoy reading the reviews to get a better idea of what it is about I’m to read so I know I will get something out of it.

In the meantime the books selected all come from authors who have already written some amazing books. A few of the books I look forward to reading this year are Clay Water Brick, The XYZ Factor, and Work Rules.

Try to always take at least an hour a day to read, 30 minutes when you wake up, and 30 minutes before you go to bed or 4 15 minute breaks throughout your day. If you are a real go-getter in life than you can have 8 15 minute breaks throughout your day. However you decide to read, make sure to take some time also to include the classics, self-help books, and adventure books, either in physical form or audiobooks. Always check your public library first to see if they have a copy available.

In the list I have included those from the list but also some classic business books everyone should read.

Top Business Books to Read for 2015
1. Clay Water Brick – Jessica Jackley
People wonder how anyone can make a successful business happen without having money to support everything. This book here shows you how some of the most innovative individuals created something great with the least amount of resources. This is a good one to start with to get out of the mindset that you need X – Y- Z before you can get started. If you think that is true, read the Kids who are exceptional article.

2. How to Fly a Horse – Kevin Ashton
You would think training a horse to fly would be easy but then again you probably have no idea where to start. The author takes the reader on a journey through history to show how some of the best creations came from challenge situations. Creating something from the ground up is never easy so with the world we live in today where costs for starting a business has dropped to near zero, why is it still hard? This book was on the list of Amazon’s best books of 2014

3. Getting To Yes with Yourself – William Ury
This is the same guy who brought you Getting to Yes, which is ranked as the number one best seller in Business Negotiating category on Amazon. The author explains that all the challenges that happen in life all take place in your head. When you think a deal is going wrong because you emphasized the wrong word, chances are you are probably wrong, or maybe you shook his hand longer than you should have, making you seem desperate. These are all mental games you play with yourself so when you begin to realize not to take life so seriously you can then see how easy it is to make yourself agree with what you are saying. A great movie to watch to help you understand why you should not take life so seriously is called “Being There.” Considered one of the best philosophy movies ever made about Life.

4. Bold – Peter Diamandis, Steven Kotler
This book explains the power of exponential entrepreneurship. When you bring people of life mind together to work on a task you double, triple, or even quadruple the power that goes into solving a problem. This is the idea behind XPRIZE, a program that uses crowdsourcing to it’s ultimate power by asking people all over the world to solve their problems posted on their website, Singularity University, in return for a large cash prize. This book explores all they have learned about this impressive program about how ideas are solved through the help of exponential power.

5. Yes, And – Kelly Leonard, Tom Yorton
The power of Improv acting has helped changed so many people’s personal and business skills for the better because it changes how a person thinks in any given situation. Improv is a form of acting that encourages no sensor thinking and to accept everything thrown at you and learn to think in the moment. Many companies hire theater companies to come in and provide Improv training with their sales staff because of how important it is to learn. If you want to learn more about this skill and join a program, read my previous article on the art of storytelling.

6. The XYZ Factor – Nancy Lublin, Alyssa Ruberman
This is a book about learning to empower people to see the benefit of their actions when they put them to good use for others. This can be very challenging for companies when they work with younger generations that are only interested in instant gratification and isolated circumstances, most of which they have grown up in. The program is meant to get kids out of this habit of waiting, which many grew up in homes where they had to wait to be told what to do and when, and start getting out there and making a difference on your own. For any kid who grew up in a restrictive household, the transition to learn how to think for themselves is very difficult, which is not fair to companies that have to deal with that, and so teaching younger individuals how change is possible through their actions is a good skill to learn.

7. Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader – Herminia Ibarra
This book takes on a different approach for leaders. There are many management books that say to find your style of management and leadership in order to guide your department or people. This book here says to listen to what the people are looking for and take guidance from how they need to be managed. When you don’t over think a problem and dwell on it you can then work from the insight your team gives you.

8. Better Than Before – Gretchen Rubin
Changing habits can be hard but when you learn how to find the little tricks to turn small little actions into bit time change that is when results start to show. The author here talks about improving your life with changing your habits and routines. Humans are creatures of habit so it is important to understand how to make new habits work. Chip Heath also wrote a great book on the subject as well called Switch – How to change things when change is hard.

9. Work Rules! – Laszlo Bock
Imagine being the HR manager for one of the best companies to work for in the world? How much pressure would you have to know that you have to hire people that are extremely intelligent but also creative at the same time? That is a lot of pressure, in that, you have to design and create interviews to weed out the fakes and still find the ones that are hard to see the first time. Then after that you have to learn how to create an environment that encourages people to grow and increase productivity, all of which can be challenge, but brought together in this richly packed book of data examples.

10. Surprise – Tania Luna, Leeann Renninger
This element of surprise is important for many reasons but none more so than in the business world. Surprises happen all the time so being able to anticipate that surprise can keep you on your toes but also understand that change is constant. When you learn to accept things as they come, training from Improv acting, you won’t feel threaten by what is happening every time something new comes up.

11. No One Understands You and What to Do About It – Heidi Grant Halvorson
Why do people know who we are? Isn’t that what makes people want to work with other people, because they think different and act different? People who really studied psychology in college, and when I say really studied, I mean they went way beyond the required readings and read more than your typical grad student, you would know that how a person walks, the words they use to speak, the actions they take says everything about a person already. Not everyone studied psychology in college or graduate school so books like this are important to read because it helps people connect with others when they understand them. Engineers have the worst record when it comes to social and people skills so a book like this might help them to learn that when talking about a project of their their’s it is important to include personal identifying properties of themselves with how they created it instead of just the dimensions and costs and benefits of the projects. If you want to read another book on the subject and learn more about a person by the words they speak, “The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us,” is a great book to read.

12. The Eureka Factor – John Kounios, Mark Beeman
Do you remember the time you came up with that amazing idea that someone has already come out with? Why did you beat them to it? And why can’t you have more moments like that? This book explains how those moments come about and how to have more of them. They spark imagination, ideas, and bring about change so if they are so important why are they so few of them? Learn more about how the brain works with this book about how great insights are achieved.

13. The Road Character – David Brooks
Ever wondered why Robert Moses lead the life he did, or why the Men Who Built America, had such deep rich self-fulfilling lives? The challenge with creating a rich fulfilling life is not just the doing part but the upbringing part; people of character are built upon a solid foundation of morals, beliefs, and values, which guide them in everything they do. When you have no guidance in which to follow, then why would it surprise you to learn that your life has no purpose? The men who built america found their purpose because they had the keen sense to see what others couldn’t and put it into action. This book takes a look at ten lives and examines them for all these traits to learn how to create a life worth living.

14. Triggers – Marshall Goldsmith
Behavior Consultant Mr Goldsmith looks at how to change behavior for the good and how to make them into certain habits. He takes a look at how behavior works and why we behave differently when we are in groups and when we are by ourselves. This book helps explore all that in order to find the right behaviors that will lead to a successful life.

15. The Misfit Economy – Alexa Clay, Kyra Maya Phillips
Did you know that Pirates in the Indian ocean make millions stealing huge oil tankers and cargo ships in the area? Or that hackers cause millions, if not billions in loses every year to companies, but encourage the growth for many more industries? The growing behavior of misfits is creating whole new industries to come about because the reality is when someone acts bad, you need another to fix it. This book examines the history of people that did things unconventionally and how it turned out for them and what you can learn from doing that. The reality is, business has no rules, so once you learn that rule, all bets are off for anything you do.

16. Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter – Cass Sunstein
This important book contains the very reason you don’t want to surround yourself with people of like-mind. But if you have too, this book will teach you what you need to be aware of to keep from falling into the trap of staying with status-quo. Cass showed that when people of like-mind get together their values strengthen because each member reinforces what they already know or believe in. This is very dangerous because this is how progress is slowed down because if everyone thinks the same way and they all agree with one another then there is nothing to change or improve.

Cass also shows that similar minded groups make less dramatic changes than groups that are composed of different mindsets. He talks about this in the new elected Congress that is very one-sided and how dangerous this will be for policy making and America. You can watch his interview on The Daily Show to learn more about what happens when people who are conservative get together with similar minded individuals, and vice versa. This is a very important concept to learn so you don’t fall into the same mental trap. This is why the phrase, “Keep Your Friends Close, but your Enemies Closer,” is important to learn because your enemies will keep you on your toes and learning all the time. This book is ranked number 1 in Business & Organizational Learning.

Here are some Additional Books to read

Zero to One – Peter Thiel (Number 1 in Economic Policy and Development)
The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
The lean Startup – Eric Ries
Business Adventures – John Brooks (Number 1 in Commerce)
Influence – Robert Cialdini (Number 1 in Marketing and Consumer Behavior)
22 Immutable Laws of Branding – Al Ries

To find more business books to read, check out my previous article and Book Page
This book changed this billionaire’s understanding about Business
Business Books

News Article

15 New Books to Read in 2015

This man produced 80,000 documents of his Life’s Work

It’s hard to believe anyone being able to create that much material for anyone to read. When you think about it, it’s difficult for the average person to write a simple cover letter for a job application, little alone, write volume’s of work. Many people say that geniuses are very different from ordinary people and they would be right in saying that. They see the world differently, the understand the world better, and they know how to make their mark. The average person limits themselves, although they don’t see it that way, by only doing the things they want to do at the time they want to do them. Genius’s don’t live like that. They see life as a clock about to run out of time and they only have so much time to get their work done, hence why they are always so busy all the time.

Ever wonder why Stephen King was able to write all those novels? Simple, he made himself sit down and write. If he let every distraction take over his attention, the world would never have been introduced to his famous characters that he created. What about plays? Sonets? Movies? Music? Science? Space Travel? etc… Genius people work hard and that is an understatement. If you call someone a genius because they do more work than you, listen to the words you use and why you felt the need to tell them that. You will find that most people you think are genius’s don’t feel they are themselves. This is because the lifestyle they have created for themselves just shows that they need to work harder in order to meet their results. If you look at the article I wrote about the MacArthur recipients you will probably think that all these people are brilliant individuals and you would right in saying that but you would be wrong in thinking that they were born a special way and that was proven in the book by a fellow recipient, Denise Shekerjian, Uncommon Genius.

Albert Einstein was a man that changed the course of math and science for mankind. Many people do not realize how simple of a math equation he created could have such a huge impact on everything about our future. Men like Stephen Hawking’s look up to Einstein because they hope to create simple and elegant equations that explain the universe. Einstein’s work revolved around math and science and he was so smart that when asked if he still knew how to do basic math his reply showed that he would probably not know where to begin. I think for a lot of parent’s who try to help their child with elementary and middle school math find that math at that level can still be hard for them. Einstein had a great quote about his troubles with math when he said,

“Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.”

This goes to show that men of higher thinking still have a long way to go before conquering their field. So if men like Einstein still knew their limitations about what they were working on, it just goes to show how much we still don’t understand our world and what we do know is still a very small fraction of the absolute truth. Einstein pointed this out when he said, “We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us.” This goes to show that we still have a long way to go before we really understand the world we are living in. My favorite quote of his is this one,

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

Life’s Work Preserved
In an effort for the world to see what this man created all of his work is being digitized and placed online for anyone to read and study. All his papers, letters, personal notes he wrote are available online in both english and german. People can even view documents side by side in each language to compare the two. This will help generations to come learn what this man knew long ago. If he had lived just twenty years longer, who know’s where he would have taken mankind today. If Carl Sagan and him had met, that relationship would have been wonderful to see grow.

When you look back at the history of individuals who lived great lives, you begin to see the trend that all they did differently in the life was that they worked hard at what they believed in and didn’t make excuses that would draw them away from their work. So the next time you feel that you are not doing enough in your life, look at how you spend your time and start trying to include more things that are helpful and productive to your life. If you want to write, then write, if you want to build something, find groups that will help you.

I have provided links below so you can access each online database and read all his life’s work. If there is anything you pick up on, pay attention to how he writes. Genius’s do write differently from ordinary people and if you can pick up on that then you can start to see where your life needs to start improving, or if you need improving at all. For the most part, we should all be improving as individuals. They say that you should never be the same person (i.e., beliefs, values, ideals, etc) you are every 5 years, if you are, then you are not growing as a person.

Here is my favorite picture of him with men who changed the course of study for their fields, also called the Picture of Geniuses, at least, that’s what I call it.


The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein

Einstein Archives Online

Einstein Website

Albert Einstein Wikipedia Article

News Article

Thousands of Einstein Documents Are Now a Click Away

The Impossible just Happened, Probe lands on Comet’s Surface!

If you don’t keep up with your science news then you just missed out on the most important advancement of our civilization yet. Think of the whole operation like this. You are in a room and you have a cup with a diameter a little bigger than a golf ball about a hundred yards away and you get only one crack shot at hitting the golf ball just right so that it lands in the cup on the first try, oh and the whole room is dark with no light anywhere.

That was the analogue used to describe what it was like to land this space probe on a comet millions of miles away from our home. In this case, a rocket was to take the little space probe which they called, “Philae,” from his mothership which was called, “Rosetta,” and detach from the rocket and then try and land on a comet that is traveling at 37,000 mphs. Rosetta will actually be part of the comet team and study it from a distance while the probe will collect samples and study the comet. It will teach us more about the origins of the universe and help us to understand how comet’s impact life on other planets and ours. In order to keep the probe on the surface it attached itself with harpoons into the surface along with a few other methods. This is progress for a project that is 10 years in the making. When Philae landed on the comet’s surface he tweeted out, “Touchdown! My name address: 67P!

You can follow him on Twitter, because I mean, come on, who doesn’t have a twitter account by now, right? Even a space probe has a twitter account with 107k followers as of this writing. Can you imagine the number of tweets going out if Twitter was around during the first moon landing? That would have been crazy but what’s even crazier is that when we land on the moon again, we will be able to tweet with the astronauts. Yes twitter even will be able to reach the moon, oh and a little space probe 317 million miles away from earth. That’s progress in science and technology for mankind. Enjoy

Carl Sagan would be very happy today if he was alive to see this amazing event.

News Article

European Space Probe Lands on Comet

Philae lander nears a comet touchdown

Rosetta Twitter Account

Philae Space Probe Twitter Account

Have you applied for your ticket to Mars yet?

This idea might seem far fetched but it was proposed, along with an open-cattle call more than a year ago, to send a group of people to mars to live there permanently. Anyone 18 years or older would be able to submit their application for review knowing full well that if they were chosen for the mission that they would not be returning to earth.

Space Exploration
Thanks to movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, and Star Trek humans have entertained the idea of what it would be like to travel through space and meet new species. Just the idea of leaving earth and visiting planets within our solar system has been an impossible task just because of financial and natural reasons. The only reason why the Star Trek universe works is because their way of life is different from the one we have today, granted of course they are still hundreds of years away from our present day, there is still a chance mankind might evolve into a community were money is no longer a thing and people only work to better themselves. That is why money doesn’t exist in the Star Trek Worlds and they are able to advance themselves so much faster.

Traveling from planet to planet is a difficult task because of fuel, energy, and life support systems, all of which cost money. Humans need food in order to live and without it, they die so traveling from just Earth to Jupiter alone would be a major undertaking just in terms of fuel, food, and oxygen which have to be stored somewhere requiring majority of the ship to be used as a storage unit. The satellites that have already left our solar system work because they don’t require any of that extra weight, they function off of solar energy and can work non-stop.

Imposed Restrictions
Money does exist for us and because it is one of our greatest limiting factors we have placed on ourselves we must work within the confines that it produces. In order to get a mission like this off the ground, lots of training, resources, and support will be needed to launch this program successfully. The chance of it going through is very low because at any point funding could drop out and the company managing the operation, Mars One, would be left with a very large bill.

Their hope is that with publicity and enough support they will be able to get the funding they need in order to launch the 40 or so people they will select and train in order to go live on Mars. Mars One estimates this project to be around $6 billion, a price that was determined more than a year or so ago, in which time of course, that price has probably gone way up since then. The planed settlement date is set for 2023 with a second mission planned for 2025, with various other unmanned supply missions landing before and throughout those periods.

The Application process has been closed since they have received enough to go through to determine who will be allowed to go. They did set limits as to who would be allowed to go since they can not send just anyone. In order for someone to meet eligibility requirements they must be mentally fit, able to get along with others regardless of conditions, physically fit, able to understand basic survival skills, and of course, not claustrophobic. Another one they have limited the program to is only for single individuals, no one in relationships or even couples for that matter are allowed into the program. The stress of being in a relationship of that matter would cause someone to lose focus of the mission and when it all comes down to it, even though money no longer counts over there, at least for the time being, it is still a job that all the applicants are fulfilling. They will be carrying out small projects, missions for companies, and their own personal projects. One of the biggest issues they will need to handle though is death. They will need to learn how to handle that and how to manage disease.

Even though this program was announced more than a year ago, the idea has not faded and if enough support comes through, travel to Mars will no longer be something we see in movies, but an alternative living arrangement that, for a while until costs drop, only the rich will be able to consider. The people who are picked for the first mission will not have to foot the bill for anything, except the $38 dollars needed for the application fee. So whether or not you think sending a group of people over to Mars to colonize it is a good idea, you can at least follow them along from the comfort of your home to watch what happens.

To Learn more about project, check out the links below.
One Way Ticket to Mars

Community Mars One

Need to Learn about the Last 125 years real quick? WSJ Makes it Possible

From 1889 to today you can explore all the major events that the wall street journal has covered in the United States through this well developed webpage that explores major events in US history through photos. They covered 125 years worth of events. You can look by certain decades of influence or you can look at individual events.

This site is a great tool for learning about and remembering all the major things that one should at least be knowledgeable about. Anyone studying US history this is a great learning tool to help illustrate those events in photographs. Take a look around and explore. You might be surprised to learn about some important milestones in this country’s history and the people who came before you.

Wall Street Big Issue