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This Just In: The breakthroughs we need to build the future we want

Our future is in our hands

Our future is in our hands

A brighter and better future is before us because we have no other choice but to evolve and change. Our population is growing and the world is in need of innovative solutions to meet that growing need now more than ever. Our future is literally in our hands.

I read a report yesterday entitled “The 50 most critical scientific and technological breakthroughs required for sustainable global development”. If you are an entrepreneur, or just someone concerned about the future of our planet, this report is full of ideas to apply our creativity and efforts to build a better world. Many of the solutions center around energy, farming, and technology. Here are some of my favorites:

1. The need to desalinate our increasingly salty water around the globe.

2. E-textbooks that dynamically adapt content for different skill levels, languages and
other user-specific needs.

3. Truly smart smartphones that are cheap, need almost zero power, and do anything a computer can do. And truly smart homes that are cheap, built in urban environments, sturdy in the face of natural disasters and storms, and require very little power to be comfortable and functional.

4. New long-lasting chemical mosquito repellents delivered in novel ways. (As someone who is violently allergic to mosquitoes, I want these little buggers out of all of our lives!)

5. Solar-powered everything from medical devices to appliances to irrigation pumps to mini energy grids.

We start creating the future today. Let’s do it sustainably.

Inspired: You’re going to write the next Harry Potter. Or invent the next Apple.

J.K. Rowling thankfully hit rock bottom.

J.K. Rowling thankfully hit rock bottom.

When J.K. Rowling and Steve Jobs began, they had an insatiable desire to create with the few resources they had. Rowling wrote Harry Potter on an old typewriter as a single mother while receiving public assistance. Jobs grew up in a lower-middle-class family and spent his early adult years living in an apple-growing commune in Oregon. Then he returned to his parents’ home to tinker in their garage.

We have many more resources than they did. First, we have their example of what the human imagination can build. Second, we have more sophisticated technology and markets, at far lower costs of entry. Third, we have social networks that help us connect to one another and share our creations with the world.

Rowling and Jobs didn’t have any of those resources, but you can bet that if they did, they would have used them to the hilt. That’s exactly what we should do. Right now there’s someone who needs what you want to invent as much as we needed the inspirational creations of Rowling and Jobs. You have the resources to build it. Go!

Inspired: Check out my magazines on Flipboard for travel, stress-busting, product design, and office design

Check out my Flipboard profile: http://flip.it/tfH1RI’m now on Flipboard as @christanyc and created 4 magazines to curate content in travel, product design, workspace design, and stress reduction. I hope you’ll stop by and check them out:
Travel on Purpose – use your travels and vacations to build a better world

Insanely Cool New Products – the coolest new product innovations and the awesome people who make them

Crazy Creative Workspaces – interior design inspirations for the places where we work

Stress Sucks – the science of stress and how to bust it

Inspired: We have to defend and befriend the new – a lesson from Pixar

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

“The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.” – Brad Bird writing as Anton Ego of Ratatouille

Uber and Airbnb are two companies that challenge traditional industries. They face uphill regulatory and consumer battles every day. Can they be trusted, relied upon? Every new idea, product, service, and place faces this challenge: doubt. I love the new because it indicates growth, creativity, and evolution. I’ve made a pledge to befriend the new – to be open to new ways of thinking, doing, and being, for myself and of others. Will you join me?

Inspired: Lessons from Ryan Grepper and the COOLEST Cooler Kickstarter

COOLEST Cooler

COOLEST Cooler

Have you ever thought of posting a project to Kickstarter? Inventor Ryan Grepper and his COOLEST Cooler have quite a few lessons for us about perseverance, timing, and content. Ryan’s first COOLEST campaign in December 2013 wasn’t successfully funded. His revamped campaign that launched this month was successful and funded at 13,676% of its goal! I studied Ryan’s two campaigns and this is what I learned that I will apply to my own Kickstarter projects. I hope these insights help you, too!

1.) Timing matters
Ryan’s first campaign for his cooler was timed to hit around Christmas time. Few people are thinking about coolers during the winter months. Timing his new campaign in July, prime time for summer products, worked much better. Also, holiday time is an expensive time of year for people with gift giving and this impacted his ability to raise the needed funds.

2.) Keep the total as low as possible
Ryan wanted to raise $125,000 the first time. His second campaign had a total of $50,000. Consider how much you really need to do a project, not how much you’d like to have.

3.) Get to the point
On Kickstarter, get to the “what” as soon as possible in the description. Explain the product clearly and succinctly with features prominently placed as soon as possible in the description. Put the detail further down in the write up.

4.) Have clear rewards
It’s common for Kickstater giving levels to have different rewards. Make sure those rewards are clear and listed early on in the general description.

5.) Have FAQs and answers
Think of likely FAQs that people may have about the campaign and answer them on your page.

6.) Be conscious of giving levels
Think carefully about the number of giving levels you have and the range of the options. Kickstarter’s community is filled with people who can give modest amounts of money so make sure to have plenty of opportunities for support at the low and mid-tier giving levels.

7.) Keep shipping simple
Many people, myself included, feel cheated when it comes to online shipping. The original COOLEST campaign had complicated language concerning international shipping. In the second campaign, that language is cleaned up and that seemed to have an impact on the number of international supporters.

8.) Don’t give up. Learn and revamp!
I love that Ryan didn’t give up on his idea nor on the Kickstarter campaign just because the first time wasn’t successful. He asked a lot of questions, reflected on his experience, learned, and tried again. After all, you can’t beat someone who doesn’t give up!

Congrats to Ryan and his COOLEST team! Have you run a successful Kickstarter? What advice do you have for readers?

Inspired: To do, we must listen

From Pinterest

“Within and without, the voice holds the key.” ~ Kara Johnstad

All projects need doing and listening. We observe the outside world and our own inner world. We hear and see what happens around us and then tune in to what is happening in our own hearts, bodies, minds, and spirits. To do our best work, we must have this balance. The place where the inner world and outer world meet is our greatest source of inspiration, where we realize that what we have to give is exactly what the world needs.

Our Election System Needs a Reboot

From Pinterest

I just love it when the New York City Board of Elections goes to the trouble of sending me a postcard in the mail with the wrong polling station address. I moved in April and ever on top of their game, they sent me this postcard to inform me I needed to go to 84th Street to vote. I arrived there dripping from the heat and humidity to find out that I actually needed to go to 97th Street. I walk a lot in NYC, I’m in shape, and I’m doggedly determined to vote in a primary that has a lot at stake. If I need to walk 13 blocks out of my way in uncomfortable conditions, I’m going to do it. Goodness knows that many other people have endured worse.

But here’s why I’m fuming: how many other people got the same run around and decided not to make the trek to the correct polling station to vote? And who do we think we are to tell other people around the world how to run elections when our own Board of Elections is so mismanaged? The technology we use to vote is far older than I am. And let’s not forget that pesky little electoral college system (which thankfully is only involved when electing the highest office in the land, and the world.)

When is the innovation that is rolling full steam ahead in countless other industries going to be applied with rigor and vigor to our election process? When are free, fair, and organized elections going to hit the U.S.?

Disorganized or not, I’m going to keep voting in every election, mostly out of guilt. But when someone else says to me they don’t vote because it’s a disorganized process and they have no idea if their vote is even counted correctly because of that disorganization, I don’t have any rock solid arguments to persuade them otherwise. The only thing I know for certain is that the process is a mess and needs to be fixed.

Do you know of organizations and efforts to modernize the US voting system? I’d love to hear about them and find a way to help. 

Beautiful: Feeling Empty Is a Gift

From Pinterest

“Abundance is a process of letting go; that which is empty can receive.” ~ Bryant McGill

As I prepare to spend my summer re-thinking and re-shaping my future, I’m unpacking quite a bit of my life: my work, my time online, and the hustle and bustle of my everyday life. I’m taking very little with me in the hopes that de-cluttering my life will open the way for new beginnings.

We sometimes place an unfair connotation on the concept of emptiness. I think of emptiness as a blessing, as a state of being that helps us to re-imagine and re-invent. If every ounce of time and space we have is full, then we can’t be open to the many gifts that new experiences offer.

So I’m making room. I’m letting go. I’m giving myself the gift of fully experiencing life one moment at a time and the chance to celebrate the beauty that each small moment holds.

Beautiful: Forget Job Searching. Instead, Create the Job of Your Dreams.

eb20a4bca686ede0d04a1cc9628f3e6bImagine if college wasn’t about preparing you for the job search. Instead, imagine that it was a 4-year haven for you to grow the skills that most interest you and for you to craft your own business that utilizes those skills. Over 3 million people graduate from 4-year colleges every year in the U.S. That’s potentially 3 million startups created every single year.

Imagine what that would mean for our economy, for our communities, and for education. Tom Friedman did just that in his New York Times column last week. Soon, we won’t have to imagine. This is the reality for our children today, and for their children, and so on. They will be job creators, not job seekers. Our society and our economy are changing rapidly. The paradigm of work and income is shifting, and there will be no turning back. This is a transformation in the economy that is moving full-steam ahead.

Rather than asking our kids what they want to be when they grow up, we need to help them figure out what they intend to build. And then we need to set that example for them in our own careers.

Leap: New York Begins Its Quest for the LowLine, an Underground Park on the LES

Image courtesy of Delancey Underground

Is it technically “leap” or “jump” – as in down the rabbit hole below Delancey Street?

You’ve got 37 more days to back an incredible public works project known as the LowLine that promises to bring a year-round underground park to New York’s Lower East Side. The project envisions a re-purposing of a long-abandoned trolley terminal into a wonderland of green space, a badly needed amenity in that part of town.

When I read the article in GOOD yesterday, the concept was brand new to my ears and I jumped up out of my chair from excitement. It’s quite possibly the most innovative use of public space I’ve ever seen. The idea alone is enough to make any and every New Yorker crack open their wallets to support the vision. Go to the site to see the proposed images and the deal is sealed.  And that’s just the reaction that the founding team is hoping for!

Founder Dan Barasch and James Ramsey posted the project on Kickstarter (where it seems that all good project ideas are housed these days) they need our help to gain $100,000 in collective funding by April 6th to show local government that New Yorkers want to see this vision brought to life.

Join the effort for Delancey Underground and support it with as little as a buck. Let’s get this done!

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