The Self-Edit

As children progress through school they become self-conscious and quietly begin to suppress their playful tendencies for fear of being childish or breaking with social norms. These children grow into adults who self-edit in an attempt to adhere to these social norms for fear of being different. Play is dismissed and creativity eyed suspiciously as something that lacks discipline and is confined to the arts. It’s not really anyone’s fault but the trappings of a system steeped in tradition and outdated ideas. Ironically, it is creativity, imagination and courage that is required to create new social norms as we overcome the systemic inertia in our fight against this spiralling trajectory.

I had a chance to meet Nolan Bushnell earlier this year. Growing up with the magic that was Atari I was fascinated to hear about his history of serial entrepreneurship, how he managed a young Steve Jobs (and turned down a 1/3 stake in Apple), and how he found and nurtured creative talent in the workplace. He shared stories of identifying, recruiting and hiring by offering gems like employing people for their passions and intensity, ignoring credentials, looking for people who have interesting hobbies, avoiding the clones and hiring the obnoxious and crazy. To nurture and then retain creative employees he suggests celebrating success often and loudly, instituting a degree of anarchy within the organization, championing the bad ideas, treating employees as adults, having a yearly demo day (think HackSIS), neutralising the naysayers by making them take ownership for their criticisms and throwing the dice.

Throwing the dice, a concept published by George Cockcroft in 1971, involves leaving decisions in life to chance. Why should we do this? Because we tend to self-select our agenda without being aware that we’re doing so. Bushnell states that this is the biggest problem with creativity – self editing.  Living by the dice is the easiest way to break old habits, get out of a rut, or change your daily routine. How does it work?

1) Buy a 20 sided and an 8 sided dice.
2) Create a list of 8 new daily habits you would like. Every day, roll the 8 die, and do whatever number it lands on.
3) Create a list of 20 goals or projects. These can be as small or as outlandish as you like but don’t self-edit, as big innovation often lives right on the edge of seemingly ridiculous ideas. Roll the 20 die, and do whatever number it lands on until you finish the goal. Then, roll again.

In his book Finding the Next Steve Jobs, Bushnell states,

Do not self edit. Your ideas may be the key to everyone’s future.

It’s always been the seemingly improbable, boundary-pushing ideas that have created this world around us. The people who say something can’t be done are the ones standing in the way of people doing it. Nolan Bushnell’s advice to anyone is simple. Act. Don’t just talk about it. Do something.

Roll the Dice.

The Creed of the Persistent and Passionate Mind

In Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World, Diamandis shares the importance of having principles and truisms that can guide you in times of difficulty and opportunity. He shares;























What are your go-to principles?

The Rising Billion

Imagine a world of nine billion people with clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalized education, top-tier medical care, and non-polluting, ubiquitous energy – it’s a not an issue of scarcity, its an issue of accessibility.

Peter Diamandis in Abundance suggests that exponential advances in robotics, AI, synthetic biology and infinite computing, means that something is only going to be scarce until we use technology to make it abundant. Clean water? Energy? Environmental issues? All problems that will be solved in the coming decades.

Ubiquitous connectivity will see another 3 billion people gain access to the web by 2020 and with it, provide many the opportunity to break the cycle of unending poverty, violence and despair through access to education, banking, communication and finance. For the first time ever, the “rising billion” will have the power to identify, solve and implement solutions to their own problems through unparalleled access to information, expertise and finance (think Kiva, Kickstarter, Freelancer) and this is creating opportunities for collaborative thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship. We are seeing this every day and not just in the developing world. For instance, it’s mind blowing to think that in 2012 Instagram was acquired by Facebook for a billion dollars. A billion dollars! Uber has turned into a 40 billion dollar company within 5 years. Occulus Rift raised 3 million on Kickstarter and then sold to Facebook for 2 billion dollars 18 months later. It has never been easier or cheaper to take an idea from concept to reality.

What does this mean for schools? Students must have an empowered mindset – not one saturated with notions of conformity, passivity, compliance and control, but instead one that is liberated, critical, curious and exposed to contemporary ideas and models of business. Students who think that they can change the world will be the ones that will.

Schools still discussing social media policies are missing the point. Not only is Cognitive Load Management going to be an important skill in an increasingly digital world full of wonderful distractions, but the reality is that many of our students are going to be involved in social entrepreneurship, creating the jobs, tools and platforms that will lead to a world of Abundance.

Peter Diamandis spoke at Creative Innovation earlier this year.

Creativity Inc.

Creativity Inc. Overcoming The Unseen Forces That Stand In The Way Of True Inspiration is the story of Ed Catmull’s journey to the helm of one of the worlds most famous film studios, Pixar. With hit titles like Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo and WallE, Pixar was initially funded by Steve Jobs who invested over $50 million of his own money into a company that was yet to make a single dollar. It was this vision, combined with a technology that was created many years before, that made the animation movie business a reality today.

Ed Catmull started his career studying computer graphics in a time when computers were the size of a large room and in 1979 was recruited by George Lucas to help work special-effects images into live-action footage.

Soon after the original Star Wars, and at George’s request, Catmull and his team created the world’s first video editing system that would enable editors to do their work on the computer and combine animation with actual footage – truly groundbreaking work at the time that built the foundation for Pixar to exist in the future. The only problem was that the film editors at Lucasfilm resisted working with a computer. They didn’t think it would do much more than what could already be done by snipping filmstrips with razor blades and physically and painstakingly gluing them together one by one.

For me, this simple story highlights that certain processes and efficiencies can breed habits which may have indeed worked in the past, but in a time of change these same processes and efficiencies don’t guarantee future success. Eric Hoffer captures the essence of this in his pertinent quote, “In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

At our College, the Identity dimension in our Vision for Learning has as one of its elements Time and Change which states that students will understand that not only is change inevitable, but that peoples’ actions and values are influenced by their understanding and interpretation of the past. The lesson that Catmull shares is one of embracing the inevitability of change and allowing a brighter future to unfold – in this specific example, the amazing special effects we have in films today.

A great book about what it takes to lead creatively.