Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend the TEDx Detroit conference. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and is a gathering of leading artists, entrepreneurs, educators, designers, thinkers and doers who share their “big idea” worth spreading. Meeting in locations all over the world (the x factor), this Detroit gathering included people who offered bright ideas in a variety of areas. Here is a sampling of the ideas presented.
Paul Elio of Elio Motors believes that mobility is one of the primary roadblocks to individuals getting a job and thereby overcoming poverty. So he designed a 2 seater vehicle (one seat behind the other) priced at $6,800 that gets 84 miles per gallon. While that price seems very reasonable, he went a step further and devised a financing plan whereby the purchaser uses an Elio Motors sponsored gas card, and each time they get gas, he charges them three times the actual amount. This overage is applied to the principal cost of the vehicle, making it self-financing.
Alden Kane is a high school senior and student inventor. He’s committed to improving peoples’ lives by combining science and service, and believes that proprietary ideas are the future of science. And so he accepted a challenge to design a “wheelchair stroller” for a local mother. Sandwiching time to complete this between his academic and extracurricular activities, he came up with a novel solution to a common problem for millions of new parents who are confined to wheelchairs. Now he’s looking for angel investors, and a more user-friendly name for his invention.
Sharina Jones was the beneficiary of Alden’s creative genius. A victim of a gunshot wound at age 7, she now teaches people to think beyond the chair, to live past their disabilities and to live a functional life. She sets the example as Miss Wheelchair Michigan in 2011, author of The Life of a Push Goddess, and founder of a charity that brought wheelchairs to Panama. She challenges others to change the lives of one person, a community or the world; and now has a means of carrying her new baby boy with her. Continue reading
Many years ago, I was fortunate enough to attain the coveted promotion that I desired in my company. I was appointed to an executive position in a newly formed and fast growing business unit that energized me, provided a great fit and growth opportunity in my areas of strength, and stretched my mind to deal with a myriad of complex issues all at once. At the same time, I was in the final phases of a doctoral program, completing my research and writing my dissertation. Either situation by itself was intense and at times stressful; but put them together, and words can’t adequately describe the pressure to perform well.
Technology changes and times change, but sometimes it’s hard to let go of what was once a good thing.
I recently decided (in a fury of “decluttering”) to remove the perfectly good CD/cassette tape stereo from my office bookshelf and give it to charity. Truthfully, I hadn’t even used it in years. It was just taking up space that can be better occupied by something more relevant. Then, in another burst of energy and insight, I gathered up all the old cassette tapes stored away (for what?), the CD/DVD teaching packages that were regularly dusted but otherwise ignored, and gave it all away in boxes to The Salvation Army. I’ll admit that I had a moment of sentimentality. The information and music shared via these mediums was still good, but the method and technology no longer met my needs. I listen to music on my smart phone now, and watch videos on my laptop or iPad. Continue reading
We live on a corner and almost every summer day as part of my morning exercise, I walk down the side street of our home. The sun is still rising. The dew hasn’t yet vanished from the grass. Everything looks fresh and green. The bushes that we so carefully planted around the perimeter of our home several years ago have grown substantially since the lawn service gave them their spring trim. As each day goes by, I realize that some parts of the bushes are REALLY growing out, and maybe it’s time for a mid-summer trim earlier than we anticipated. Continue reading
Fortune Magazine recently published its annual list of the largest U.S. corporations. Among the top 500, the names are all familiar. Only about 5% of the overall companies are newcomers or returnees. But understanding the challenges some of these companies have faced over the past years tell a clearer story of the shifting headwinds. One popular acronym today is VUCA which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. According to writers Nathan Bennett and G. James Lemoine in the January-February 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review (What VUCA Really Means For You), your level of VUCA reflects how much you know about your situation, and how well you can predict the results of your actions. Continue reading