Weekly Readings

31 03 2010
Ok so full disclosure – I stole the idea for these “weekly readings” posts DIRECTLY from Nina, so it should be no surprise when some of her links show up here.

Alright moving on.  Spent most of the week trying to figure out how Pell grants are ever going to catch up.  Education can seem like an eternal sinkhole – just keep dumping money in and nothing happens.  How do we permanently change the culture, I ask.  How do we re-empower teachers/students, and yet ensure they remain successful on the measuring tools we throw at them such as standardized tests?  My thought this week is that “teacher” is far too blanket a term.  After all – how can we compare a high school Physics teacher, pushing his kids to learn how things work as we approach the speed of light, with a teacher struggling to make sure her 5th graders know how to read?  How is that the same profession?  Please let me know your thoughts.  Links are below.

What Geithner Got Right – David Brooks, New York Times Opinion Page, November 19 2009.
Again, stolen from Nina.  I love the way Geithner thinks.  I have always struggled with the Democrat/Republican split.  I think conservatively but like to act liberally.  What do I mean by that?  I hate when progress is blocked just because it is progress – but yet the government shouldn’t seek to run what it isn’t good at.  Brooks says it best: “When financial confidence is cratering, Geithner concluded, government should generally be as aggressive as possible, as early as possible. At the same time, it should try not to do things that the market does better, like set prices or run companies.”  And on the topic of creating innovation, Geithner added: “government’s limited job was to get the underlying incentives right so the market could figure out what innovations work best. That suggests a pretty constrained view of government’s role.”

One hundred percent right, in my book.

On Authenticity – Steve Portigal, Stokes Jones, interactions magazine
I’m currently coaching a local school headmaster on marketing his private school.  Instead of recommending a full-blown rebranding, as I think he and others were expecting, I’m merely suggesting to refocus it.  Cut out what isn’t real/what isn’t actually doable.  Stop competing with the schools that aren’t his (he is like the small dog that thinks he is a German Shepard).  Start being realistic.  Start telling potential parents and students what they really get excited about at the school.  Be real!!  He is quite the character – I look forward to his video blogs soon (if I get my way).

This was the article I needed to back all that up.  In it, Portigal and Jones point out the huge differences between authenticity and inauthenticity – and how they are sometimes on totally different planes.  They tell stories related to communicating authenticity, and also how authentic story-telling can drive brands.  But they also ask good questions: is the waiter who smiles and laughs at your jokes inauthentic when you know they are just ‘acting’ to receive a better tip?  I guess I would rather have a waitress just act like herself – but if she hates serving people that much she is in the wrong profession!

9 Reasons Why Many Smart People Go Nowhere – Rajesh Setty’s Life Beyond Code blog
A very informative post by Mr. Setty.  His point is – even those with “sandbox smarts” (meaning they look extremely successful in school) are still not guaranteed success.  We must still push ourselves and recognize what type of person we are.  Many “sandbox smart” people become risk averse, comfortable being “smart”, and uncomfortable with the idea of failure.  It is important to remember that book smarts AND street smarts/reflective learning are important “knowledge tools”, and that action is still required for success!

If you read his article, be sure to check the comments – there is some ongoing dialogue that I think adds to the value.

A CEO Guide to Creating an Effective Board of Directors – Eric V. Roach’s “The Roach Post” blog
An extremely well-thought out and well-presented post on forming a board of directors for your startup.  As someone who is interested in startups, both from a management and investing angle, I find articles like this, written from an angle of experience, to be THE best source of information.  There simply is no textbook (or use for a textbook) for creating a startup.  You just have to surround yourself with information sources for what works, and more importantly, what hasn’t worked yet.  Some good points here that illustrate why Steve Jobs may have good reason to run his board like a “dictator” (RUMORED), why Larry and Sergei hold on to voting rights so tightly, and why Mark Zuckerberg has avoided giving up control of his company.

The Possibly Fantastic Notion of ‘A School for Everyone’ – Nikhil Swaminathan for GOOD Education
This post highlights the TEDxEducation talk by Bruce Dixon, a very smart Australian and founder of the Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation.  His ideas align well with some of my startup ideas (Educational Entrepreneurship post to come when I have the time), and his talk was absolutely brilliant and a must-watch.  Please enjoy!

Finally, best find of the week, Moon8, with it’s tagline: “Have you ever wondered what Dark Side of the Moon would sound like if Pink Floyd had written it for NES, instead of for a rock band?”

Enjoy the rest of your week, and happy reading.
jv

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One response

28 05 2010
Constance Gore

If only more than 89 people could read this!

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