Cory Leonard

Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurs’

Straight TED Talk by Benjamin Bratton

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2014 at 11:14 pm

What’s wrong with TED? “Too much faith in technology,” lacking in economics, viewing design as an end rather than a means, and more:

TED of course stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and Ill talk a bit about all three. I Think TED actually stands for: middlebrow megachurch infotainment.The key rhetorical device for TED talks is a combination of epiphany and personal testimony an “epiphimony” if you like through which the speaker shares a personal journey of insight and realisation, its triumphs and tribulations.

What is it that the TED audience hopes to get from this? A vicarious insight, a fleeting moment of wonder, an inkling that maybe its all going to work out after all? A spiritual buzz?

Im sorry but this fails to meet the challenges that we are supposedly here to confront. These are complicated and difficult and are not given to tidy just-so solutions. They don’t care about anyones experience of optimism. Given the stakes, making our best and brightest waste their time – and the audiences time – dancing like infomercial hosts is too high a price. It is cynical.

Also, it just doesn’t work.

via We need to talk about TED | Benjamin Bratton | Comment is free |

Why so glum about this fantastic enterprise? Isn’t TED a lot of fun? Well, yes, it is–and I readily admit to enjoying many talks as much as the next person.

But if you want to do the hard work (and thinking) that is required for major steps forward–rather than inspirational infotainment– we need to understand more complexity, not less… as Bratton, apparently part of the loyal opposition, says, to “slog through the hard stuff (history, economics, philosophy, art, ambiguities, contradictions).”

In response, TED founder Chris Anderson makes the case that the forum aims to “help improve the quality of public discourse” in the Guardian. Definitely worth further discussion.



Back to School Insights | Haters Gonna Hate TED

In career on August 21, 2013 at 3:42 pm

The TED backlash is real, or as Evgeny Morozov called it, “an insatiable kingpin of international meme laundering”–but don’t discount the idea factory too soon.  The primary advantage is that these storied Talks take less time that you spend on Facebook in the morning and give you a new source of career advice and ideas to stew about as you plan your next steps.

From the importance of persistence or “grit” from former seventh grade teacher Angela Lee Duckworth, econ prof Larry Smith on why you will fail to have a great career, or Margaret Heffernan on why disagreement is essential.

So disagree with them–hate them even, but they are pretty hard to ignore and can be a very useful tool in your professional arsenal.

via 15 Inspiring TED Talks Every Freshman Must Watch.


Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen:”The New Digital Age”s Futurist Schlock | New Republic

In tech on June 2, 2013 at 3:16 am


My favorite anti-tech guy, Evgeny Morozov in TNR takes on the Google dynamic duo with his gloves off, tackling “Panglossian” techno-worship and what he regards as the “superficial and megalomaniacal” book.  Its like Wired magazine with the hyperdrive stuck in reverse.

In the simplicity of its composition, Schmidt and Cohen’s book has a strongly formulaic—perhaps I should say algorithmic—character. The algorithm, or thought process, goes like this. First, pick a non-controversial statement about something that matters in the real world—the kind of stuff that keeps members of the Council on Foreign Relations awake at their luncheons. Second, append to it the word “virtual” in order to make it look more daring and cutting edge. If “virtual” gets tiresome, you can alternate it with “digital.” Third, make a wild speculation—ideally something that is completely disconnected from what is already known today. Schmidt and Cohen’s allegedly unprecedented new reality, in other words, remains entirely parasitic on, and derivative of, the old reality.

via Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen:”The New Digital Age”s Futurist Schlock | New Republic.

Utah Up, Chicago Down: Why Mitt Romney Should Embrace His Mormonism – The Daily Beast

In politics on August 22, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Journalist and social chronicler Joel Kotkin tells the story of a different Mormonism and Utah than is commonly understood:

Like the church around which it is built, the Mormon Zion in Salt Lake Valley has also changed. It has what may be the largest concentration of multilingual people in the country. With 55,000 missionaries at 340 mission sites across the globe, native English-speaking Mormons have learned more than 50 languages. Former Utah governor and Romney rival Jon Huntsman gained respectability—even among sophistos—for his fluent Mandarin.

On the business side, Mormons’ linguistic skills have attracted loads of big international companies, such as Goldman Sachs, who need people capable of conversing in Lithuanian, Chinese, or Tongese. Goldman has 1,400 employees in Salt Lake City, making it the investment bank’s sixth largest location in the world.

In contrast to the antediluvian nonsense sometimes expressed by right-wing evangelical Christians, the LDSers have become more cosmopolitan as their faith has expanded. Once a peculiarly American creed, with the vast majority of its faithful living in the Western United States, Mormonism has morphed into a global religion with over 11 million members—more than half of them outside the United States. Once narrowly white, the church’s biggest growth now is in Brazil, the Philippines, and the Pacific Islands. Even in the U.S., converts have made for an increasingly diverse church, with blacks and Hispanics accounting for one in five new Mormons, according to Pew.

via Utah Up, Chicago Down: Why Mitt Romney Should Embrace His Mormonism – The Daily Beast.

via Utah Up, Chicago Down: Why Mitt Romney Should Embrace His Mormonism – The Daily Beast.

Of Luck and Success — Economic View –

In career, politics on August 7, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Its good to be talented, but better to be lucky.  Or is it?  Answering a very wide divide between liberals and conservatives (hard work pays off and rewards the talented v. luck favors a few) Robert H. Frank explores the implications for each view on public policy:

IN their experiments, the sociologists showed how feedback could be a vitally important random effect. And it can be seen in many other situations: it’s often hard to find information about the quality of a particular product, so we rely on the reactions of friends and acquaintances who’ve already tried it. Any random differences in the early feedback we receive tend to be amplified as we share our reactions with others. Early success — even if unearned — breeds further success, and early failure breeds further failure. The upshot is that the fate of products in general — but especially of those in the intermediate-quality range — often entails an enormous element of luck.

We always knew that it was good to be smart and hard-working, and that if you were born or raised with those qualities, you were incredibly lucky, just as you were lucky if you grew up in the United States rather than in Somalia. But the sociologists’ research helps us understand why many people who have those qualities never find much success in the marketplace. Chance elements in the information flows that promote that success are sometimes the most important random factors of all.

via Of Luck and Success — Economic View –


Why You Should Run Your Career Like a Startup – Knowledge@Wharton

In career on July 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Strategies for making it in a hard-to-break-into career:

Mollick: What about planning for careers where the odds of success are small but very rewarding? For example, choosing to be an entrepreneur, an artist, a video game designer…

Hoffman: The general pattern that we suggest is A-to-Z planning to figure out how to take intelligent risks. [To say to yourself], all right, I want to do this, but it’s a low probability of success. Even if I’m really good, my probability of success might be very low, [or it] might be moderately low. What you want to do is … to [make and keep a] plan…. You [need] a strategy to take a risk for competitive differentiation. Part of having plan B and plan Z is to think about [what will happen] if this doesn’t work: How do I … move around, try it again, try it different ways? If it isn’t really working, how do I reset to grow a plan Z? That allows you [to] try something but [also have the opportunity to replay] it. And you may decide to replay multiple times….

When I came back from Oxford, I told my dad it would take me somewhere between three and five startups to be successful. When I was doing each startup, even though I was putting my all in to try to make each startup successful, I was paying attention to … all the things I was learning: the network that I was building, the skills that I was building, the fact that the next play would be the one that would be more likely to be successful, just because I was learning a bunch of things while doing it. In all the flexible planning, make sure that you are always investigating your network and your skills and your [potential to increase the odds] for the next play. That’s the tight corpus of a mental framework for how to approach low-probability success ventures and careers.

via LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman: Why You Should Run Your Career Like a Startup – Knowledge@Wharton.

via Why You Should Run Your Career Like a Startup – Knowledge@Wharton.

Are Social Entrepreneurs Too Idealistic? | Dowser

In career on April 20, 2012 at 7:04 pm

The debate over whether social entrepreneurs are making a difference (really) is one that strikes close to home.  We receive numerous requests each month to support everything from small initiatives to major organizations–all with charitable, humanitarian, and other ‘save the world’ motives.  Since they are all working “internationally” they expect us to be sympathetic and supportive.

One major question that academics and policymakers are focusing on, thankfully, is the issue of accountability and effectiveness.  Certainly BYU’s PEAT and PEDL Lab are oriented in this direction.

David Brooks waded into this and I have to admit I’m sympathetic.  Just because you want to make a difference doesn’t mean that you will.  Even so, I suspect there is something more powerful at work, and as a closet socio-psychologist, Brooks takes aim.  “In short, there’s only so much good you can do unless you are willing to confront corruption, venality and disorder head-on. So if I could, presumptuously, recommend a reading list to help these activists fill in the gaps in the prevailing service ethos, I’d start with the novels of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler, or at least the movies based on them.”  In short, Brooks thinks we need more Mormon’s like Jack Anderson and fewer NGOs–at least the kind that we tend to see proliferating now.

Others may rain on Brooks and his “hardheaded” parade:

Powell told Dowser that he sees Brooks’ arguments as symptomatic of a generational divide. “An older generation grew up in a world with many more trade-offs, in the sense that if you were ambitious, it meant you wanted to go into politics or make money,” said Powell.

Today, however, being ambitious bears a much wider scope, beyond making money. Powell thinks that it has to do with “the extraordinary amount of investment that has gone into the Millennials’ education,” he said.

“Young people today with all these communication tools are able to project their ideas faster than any generation in history. They want to lead lives of significance in a world that has so many problems and challenges that they’re aware of, because they’re highly-educated,” said Powell.

via Are Social Entrepreneurs Too Idealistic? | Dowser.

What do you think?  Is Brooks too harsh or hitting the right note, kindly.

The Market Eats their Young, Sometimes

In career, tech on January 8, 2011 at 1:09 am

Where the jobs are for students right out of college: entrepreneurship.

The lesson may be that entrepreneurship can be a viable career path, not a renegade choice — especially since the promise of “Go to college, get good grades and then get a job,” isn’t working the way it once did. The new reality has forced a whole generation to redefine what a stable job is.

“I’ve seen all these people go to Wall Street, and those were supposed to be the good jobs. Now they are out of work,” says Windsor Hanger, 22, who turned down a marketing position at Bloomingdale’s to work on, an online magazine. “It’s not a pure dichotomy anymore that entrepreneurship is risky and other jobs are safe, so why not do what I love?”

via Young Entrepreneurs Create Their Own Jobs –


The only danger is that you may lose your shirt. Here’s how some have.�