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Archive for the ‘life’ Category

sustainability1

My own thoughts and ideas on what “sustainability” really means have now begun to be articulated, far more eloquently than I ever could, in Tim O’Reilly’s post, “Work on Stuff That Matters.” His First Principles are:

  1. Work on something that matters to you more than money.
  2. Create more value than you capture.
  3. Take the long view.

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phoenix-main_full2Reading Calacanis’ popular and excellent post on “The Future of Startups,” and more and more announcements like the one Zappos’ CEO, Tony Hsieh, gave to his employees last week, has given me the feeling we still have not yet seen the bottom of this particular barrel.  Thus, I do not envy President-elect Obama.  Though I doubt it is ever easy to lead a large organization or country, to lead the U.S. right now is most likely the hardest job on the planet given the death spiral we are in.

There are so many important issues to address, how does one choose and make sure one’s actions are successful.  Looking at the list of “agenda” items on Change.gov, it is a daunting task.  My guess would be the economy and the war are top of everyone’s list given their far reaching causes and effects. (As a sidenote, I see here, that someone is finally making some sense on the proposed automakers’ bailout.)

Two issues close to my heart and, in my opinion, the most important to our future success as a viable country, are the Environment and Technology.

During this week’s Governor’s Global Climate Summit, Obama sent along an inspiring vidcast of his objectives for this agenda item, the highlights of which include:

  • Federal cap and trade system
  • Target 1990 emissions levels by 2020, 80% reduction by 2050
  • $15b/year investment
  • Create 5 million green jobs

Given the response at the conference, these kinds of far-reaching, specific targets are just what we need to make a difference.  His environmental team is also saying the right things, especially by seeing the need to work across traditional government silo’s in order for programs to work.

As for technology, Obama will be the first U.S. president to understand the power of “being digital,” and how it can return power to the people and trust in government.  It is my sincere hope that rather than giving up his Blackberry, he instead pulls our government into the 21st century by making the necessary changes to antiquated rules and regulations, appointing a cabinet-level CTO and driving an appropriately open technology platform upon which we are all able to make our voices heard and be effective in fixing all that is broken together.  The BBC has a nice summary of the issues and great comments from some of the visionaries in the field, like O’Reilly and Battelle.

In order to rise from the ashes, we must make significant progress on these fronts.  They are the source of new jobs, new ideas and a sustainable way for us to exist.  The question is how…

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Political post

As a rule, I steer clear of discussing politics and religion in public and private life.  For whatever reason, I can work with, be friends with or be related to all kinds of people and enjoy their company all the time, so long as these two polarizing topics are never mentioned.  It’s not that I’m a raging lunatic about them or that anyone I know is, but these two topics have the power to send normal, friendly human beings into war thereby ending friendships, families and sometimes lives.

So, it is only because this election seems so very important to me…that we get the right person to lead this country back to where it should be…that I post a few thoughts/tweets from the last debate.

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There are some people in this world who are simply wired right…

Not only has Dean Kamen invented the iBot, a wheelchair which goes up stairs, the Segway, a two-wheeled, self-balancing human transporter, as well as a relatively inexpensive way for remote villages to easily purify water, but he is now crowdsourcing the “next big application to benefit society” from the world’s young mobile developers.  The $150,000 contest, “Calling All Innovators,” was announced today at the Web 2.0 Expo NYC by Kamen and sponsor Nokia.

I first saw Kamen on Sundance Channel’s Iconoclasts with Isabella Rossellini, of all people, and was blown away by both of them.  I had heard of both before of course, seen some of her movies and his inventions, but the program was utterly enlightening on what really interests and motivates them.  (A gem of a program BTW Sundance!)  I would have loved to have seen Kamen and Randy Pausch one on one!

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Olympic thoughts

As the Beijing Olympic Games came to a close today, some thoughts started stirring…

First, I came across this amazing data model from The New York Times.  It not only shows this year’s medal count, but the counts from over 100 hundred years of past Games.  I think it’s a fabulous way to show data over time, the changes are far more obvious than a bunch of bars or even the raw data.

Some of the changes in medal counts and top or even participating countries are easily explained, such as in the boycotts in the early 1980’s.  Others are not so obvious.  I confess my first instinct was to assume cheating by the host country when looking at the 1896 and early 1900’s counts.  Upon further consideration, I think it more likely due to the great difficulty and expense of travel in those days which meant more athletes from the host country were present than the significant global participation we see today.  At least I hope that’s the cause!  It would be a shame if the modern Olympics have been dogged all along by biased judging, underage participants or doping charges.

This then led me down the murky path of “way back when…”  I was a horse-crazy little girl, and my Olympic dreams looked something like the storyline of National Velvet.  Though I have become an accomplished horsewoman, I have little skill nor experience compared to the athletes competing today. I still have Olympic dreams though, and they manifest around world peace.  Trite or improbable it may be, but what if we take a lesson from the ancient olympic truce, which in theory allowed safe travel to Olympia and to varying degrees stopped/prevented some fighting for a bit, and apply it to our modern Games?

Maybe we’ll get used to the quiet…the pointless bombs and shooting would stop, families would stop weeping, 24/7 news networks would go dark and politicians would have to quit their confused yammering about “withdrawal horizons” or how the “US doesn’t torture” and actually solve a problem or two to stay in office…truly Olympic dreams!

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sublime and peaceful

sitting on the dock by the bay

sitting on the dock by the bay

I just wanted to share the most stunning day I’ve had at our shore house (Long Beach Island) this year (another pic). The picture on the left of this post was taken from the edge of our dock looking across the bay at the mainland, which is way over there on the horizon far past the marsh). For all those who think all of NJ is equivalent to Newark, I beg to differ…and it has reminded me that to be as productive as I need to be, I also need to take time to unplug, unwind and decompress. The Information Age is awesome in all respects, but even Gibson’s characters unjack every now and then.

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A friend just told me Randy Pausch, famous for his Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon, has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer today.  Though I am greatly saddened by his passing, I can’t imagine Professor Pausch would want tears.  So instead, I remind myself of his key tenets (pardon any paraphrasing) and assess myself, as he might instruct me to do:

1. Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore?
Lately, I think my inner Eeyore has been showing.  Frustrations at work and a few recent family setbacks are making me slightly psychotic of late.  I must remember to look at the glass as half full!  Thankfully, my acupuncturist is also helping me stay sane.

2. Don’t bail; the best gold is found at the bottom of barrels of crap
Now this one, I really needed to be reminded of…nothing significant is ever easy.  Getting my hands dirty, slogging through the crap and making progress, even slightly, is what will make me successful in the end.

3. Don’t complain; just work harder
Always good to remember and one I try hard to follow!  If I do complain though, I try to also have a solution or work around to suggest at the same time.  At least the conversation stays constructive instead of becoming defensive.  It’s the consultant in me…

4. Brick walls are there to prove just how badly you want something
Boy are they ever!  I often forget this one and become dejected at the first or second barrier to whatever I want to do appears.  My capricorn-ian stubbornness rarely lets me give up, but it keeps me from being happy sometimes.  Recently, however, I’ve been surprised by how my team and I can get things accomplished at the local government level by simply being calm, thorough and patient when the barriers to change are thrown at us.  There is something to be said for the power of the people…even if it takes 3x as long as you’d like.

Regardless of whether these tenets are of value to you, I encourage all who may read this to watch or read about Pausch’s Last Lecture and, if nothing else, be inspired by such a great soul as he.

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