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Month: December 2013

Quotes 2º Semester of 2013

Quotes 2º Semester of 2013

“It’s vital to establish some rituals—automatic but decisive patterns of behavior—at the beginning of the creative process, when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up, or going the wrong way.” – Twyla Tharp

“Lifestyles or interests that deviate from the mainstream need critical mass to survive; they atrophy in smaller communities not because those communities are more repressive, but rather because the odds of finding like-minded people are much lower with a smaller pool of individuals.” – Steven Johnson

“Underrated skill: knowing how to detect bullshit in a world where everyone is pretty good at selling/framing themselves.” – Carlos Miceli

“A passion for learning leads to a passion for life. Young people should be encouraged to develop deep interests, and adults should help them connect those interests to a broader exploration of the world. The very notion of maturity implies completion, and most of the things we finish with enthusiasm are born of significance. We cannot lead interesting lives without being interested in life, and, without strong interests, there is no path that leads to maturity.” – Charles Hayes

“If you desire peace in the world, do not pray that everyone share your beliefs. Pray instead that they all be reverent.” – Paul Woodruff

“Rescue will come as a welcome interruption of the survival voyage.” – Dougal Robertson

“I’d start a room dedicated to Love with a fundamental reminder of the enormous gratitude with owe to anyone who would put up with us for even a day. We’re tricky, all of us are tricky.” – Alain de Botton

“You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.” – Robert Pirsig

“I have iron will power when I’m all-in, and terrible will power when I’m half-committed.” – Zach Obront

“Any man’s death diminishes me, Because I am involved in mankind,

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

It tolls for thee.”

– John Donne

“If you own your story you get to write the ending.” – Brené Brown

“Fear keeps pace with hope…. both belong to a mind in suspense, to a mind in a state of anxiety through looking into the future. Both are mainly due to projecting our thoughts far ahead of us instead of adapting ourselves to the present. Thus it is that foresight, the greatest blessing humanity has been given, is transformed into a curse. Wild animals run from the dangers they actually see, and once they have escaped them worry no more. We however are tormented alike by what is past and what is to come… No one confines his unhappiness to the present.” – Seneca

“Those who will not face improvements because they are changes will face changes that are not improvements.” – Charlie Munger

“Good, better, best Never let it rest

Until your good is better

And your better is your best”

– Nursery Rhyme

“Going from PayPal, I thought: ‘Well, what are some of the other problems that are likely to most affect the future of humanity?’ Not from the perspective, ‘What’s the best way to make money?” – Elon Musk

“The greatest psychological bias and barrier that I’ve seen in my many conversations with people that tell me they want to do something new and improve their lives is their overestimation of what they are leaving behind (when they are aware it’s not fulfilling their needs), and their underestimation of what could lie ahead if they take a chance.” – Carlos Miceli

“Chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort. The best way to make decisions is to go after what it is that creates meaning in your life and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.” – Kelly McGonigal

“To determine the fair value of a startup company, multiply the number of engineers by $250,000, add $250,000 for each engineer from IIT, and then subtract $500,000 for each MBA.” – Guy Kawasaki

“People won’t remember what you said, but how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

“Medals are won while training, and picked up on the field.” – Cristián Gorbea

“Here’s how you offer help: you say what you can do and how you will do it. You don’t put the burden of figuring out how to “use you” on the other person, that’s lazy thinking, and while it’s a nice gesture, it’s an early sign of lack of entrepreneurial spirit.” – Carlos Miceli

“I might be the only person on the face of the earth that knows you’re the greatest woman on earth. I might be the only one who appreciates how amazing you are in every single thing that you do, and how you are with Spencer, “Spence,” and in every single thought that you have, and how you say what you mean, and how you almost always mean something that’s all about being straight and good. I think most people miss that about you, and I watch them, wondering how they can watch you bring their food, and clear their tables and never get that they just met the greatest woman alive. And the fact that I get it makes me feel good, about me.” – As Good As It Gets

“If we’re going to become kinder, that process has to include taking ourselves seriously – as doers, as accomplishers, as dreamers. We have to do that, to be our best selves.” – George Saunders

“If the art of war were nothing but the art of avoiding risks, glory would become the prey of mediocre minds.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

“I had few really definite ideas, and the reason for this was that, instead of obstinately seeking to control circumstances, I obey them, and they forced me to change my mind all the time. Thus it happened that most of the time, to tell the truth, I had no definite plans but only projects.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

“Envy arises from laziness in doing the work you need to achieve, and from ignorance of what you should uniquely want for yourself that nobody else already has.” – Skinner Layne

“I want to argue that the true purpose of education is to make us fully human. By this, I mean that education should help us with the many ways in which we end up less than we can be.” – Alain de Botton

“If there was one thing I wish I’d known as a naive kid or impetuous teenager, it would be that it’s never too early to look into the future. Having fun and enjoying the present are the results of a well led life, but never an ultimate goal, because those that seek immediate gratification are the ones that don’t respect time and its unavoidable regrets.

I wish I knew that the rebellious passion of the early years can be lost forever, leaving you with wisdom but without energy to use it. With time I realized that fulfillment comes from creation and not from spending, because despite the fact that laughter, tears, lies, frustrations and love shared with your first friends and enemies are beautiful memories, they are nothing compared to the pleasure that construction (with all of its sweat and pain) brings to the prepared mind that appreciates a finished product over fleeing bursts of happiness.

No immediate gain comes close to the growth that a person can experience by overcoming life’s real hardships.

The contentment of sharing the knowledge acquired after choosing to fight early battles, instead of resting on tradition, surpasses anything that a single short-term moment will provide.” – Carlos Miceli

“Boundaries are only boundaries if left uncrossed, a maze is only a maze if you adhere to the ink which makes it so, rather than adhering to the nature of the paper itself. Rules are only rules if left unbroken.” – Dylan Shaffer

“Achievement comes only through the subordination of every power to a great ideal.” – Mike Cane

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

The Touristification of Education

The Touristification of Education

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I’m currently reading Antifragile, by Nassim Taleb (probably the most relevant book of the year), and there was a particular concept that caught my attention: the idea of “touristification”. Taleb explains:

Touristification castrates systems and organisms that like uncertainty by sucking randomness out of them to the last drop—while providing them with the illusion of benefit. […] This is my term for an aspect of modern life that treats humans as washing machines, with simplified mechanical responses_and a detailed user’s manual. It is the systematic removal of uncertainty and randomness from things, trying to make matters highly predictable in their smallest details. All that for the sake of comfort, convenience, and efficiency.

This, I believe, is the biggest challenge for any institution that aims to be a responsible alternative to the broken traditional educational system: how NOT to create a “touristified” educational experience.

We all face the same pressure to “touristify” our lives and remove volatility and chaos from everything. It’s how modernity tries to function: by being safe and predictable. We mistakenly think that value delivery for an experience means removing all uncertainty and stress, and we don’t realize that by doing that we also remove all possibility of learning by assuming responsibility of one’s choices.

Sure, you don’t want to learn life lessons from a microwave or a train that is too volatile and unreliable. Some things in society should be predictable. But the path to develop maturity and self-reliance is anything but predictable, which is why universities and big companies are terrible at it and only foster dependency and powerlessness, with their super-structured 4-year degrees and their 8 hour, 5 day workweek. The things that matter, the things entrepreneurs and strong-spirited people are made of, one can only develop these things in volatile environments, not in educational tourism agencies.

It’s important to clarify that you can go through this maturity and self-reliant process alone (it’s how I did it), but it’s harder and the chances of failure are higher (I know I failed more than was necessary). Another option is to join a community that will support you and pick you up when, not if, you stumble.

Selling broccoli, not candy

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To borrow another term from Taleb, it is paramount for new educational alternatives to have “skin in the game” for the success of their participants. They need to risk something. Otherwise, it’s not real. There’s no potential loss for the institutions, therefore no effort. That’s why they don’t care when you go into the real world and experience real pain without any real preparation. They give you your piece of paper and say good luck, then reality hits you square in your unprepared face.

Lifelong learning and curiosity, two key attitudes behind maturity and self-reliance, only come after one reaches what Charles Hayes calls a “critical mass of knowledge”, a sort of tipping point in learning after which the activity is self-fulfilling. But that’s a path that people can’t be pushed into, there’s no one path towards a critical mass of knowledge. There’s no pre-packaged body of knowledge that can inspire one to become a lifelong learner in a passive way. There’s no degree you can acquire or job acceptance that gives it to you. It’s a process that you have to discover for yourself. It’s chaotic by nature.

It’s easier to create a “touristified” experience and not be responsible for how participants behave. After all, how can anyone complain if one delivers a predictable, streamlined experience that begins and ends the same for everyone? One would be off the hook. Once participants leave, one can blame them for their future shortcomings because “they didn’t work hard enough”, and take credit for their successes because “they learned at my institution.”

But that’s why one shouldn’t do it. Because one shouldn’t follow the cowardice of traditional institutions, where they disconnect themselves from the process and results of their people by making things too safe for themselves. One should always speak out of love, tough love, with the participants. One should always remind them that both their successes and failures are up to them AND us. We’re in it together.

The challenge is to have the right balance of structure and volatility where people can go through the pain and growth of entrepreneurship as a lifestyle and mindset, without being completely isolated to the point where they could fail too hard to ever get back up.

The challenge is to sell broccoli, not candy. If you want to learn and grow in a healthy way, you should start paying attention to the nutrition facts label of the more traditional institutions. We’ve had too much sugar in education already.

A case for a “flâneurial” education

If the tourist is the traveler that wants things to be clear, safe and predictable, then his opposite would be the “flâneur”: he who strolls aimlessly, open to randomness and volatility in the journey as he moves forward. What we need is institutions that can provide a “flâneurial” education.

What should you expect in a “flâneurial” education, you ask?

You should expect uncertainty, unknowns, and a sense of adventure.

You should expect to assume responsibility for the consequences of your actions and inactions.

You should expect the availability of resources and support, but not directions of when or how to use them (unless you ask).

You should expect to stay attached to reality and listen to opposing views, in order to look for the truth and achieve a better outcome.

You should expect to feel sad and lost sometimes, because that’s feedback. It’s your mind reorganizing to know how to do things better next time.

You should expect to feel thrills and emotions that you never felt before when solving real problems. You’ll discover an inner creativity and resourcefulness that only wakes up when dealing with real problems.

You should expect to always have someone willing to listen and help you work through your problems.

You should expect to feel fulfilled, to experience spiritual growth, and to develop strength and discipline.

You should expect to feel like your life matters, and embrace how necessary you are to make other people’s lives better.

You should expect to meet the people that come for the broccoli and the unmatchable rewards of a courageous and uncertain life.

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