Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Google News Trumps Newspapers

I used to read (print) newspapers, The Chicago Tribune being my favorite. It was easy enough to read it, when I was in the living room or at the kitchen table. But on the train, packed with rush hour commuters? Well, that was a bit of a trick.

It’s about holding it in the right places at the margins, and flicking it deftly with your wrists. If you have someone on either or both sides of you, then of course you can’t spread your arms too widely. You can spread them only the width of your shoulders, right. Because that someone to your left and that someone to your right are doing the very same thing you are. Some commuters fold them back in half to read. But the truly space-economical and dextrously-gifted among us fold them into a quarter, and manage to read the whole bloody newspaper like that! The Chicago Sun Times was clever in that they made it more like a large magazine. Had I liked its content better, I would’ve read it, instead.

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Well, reading newspapers this way is so 20th century, you know (lol). Now I read my news exclusively online. It’s free, it’s varied, and it’s convenient. This is how my migration to online news happened.

The soft copies have it

I was a management consultant working for a US firm. As I became more sought-after by clients, across the US, Europe and Middle East, for example, my travels were up to six countries a trip and for a handful of clients. As a neophyte traveler, I’d pack everything in my closet and, what’s more, in my study. Books, journals, printouts etc., along with client manuals and corporate literature. Well, my work day ranged from 10 – 16 hours, so I barely had time for leisure reading or even for scoping through all the extraneous client stuff I had. Plus, it was taking me way too long to pack-and-unpack, not just at home, but also from one hotel to another. With all of this in tow, I often flirted with the baggage weight limit at the airport.

Slow forward to top-dog consultant, and seasoned traveler, I schooled myself to work primarily on my laptop. I’d read PDF versions of all client manuals. I took notes on a Word document, instead of a notebook. No more corporate literature either, as I could easily review client information on their website. Newspapers, online, baby!

For the longest time, I read Wall Street Journal (WSJ) online. It was such a favorite that I made it my home page. It’s intelligent but readable, and it focuses on my favorite subjects: business, economics and leadership. You can read selected articles for free, but most of it was subscription only. Which I gladly paid for. Unwittingly, though, I agreed for them to charge my credit card each year, so they could renew my subscription automatically. No matter, I loved this newspaper.

WSJ became a vanguard of online reading for me, and more broadly online learning and enjoyment. From the International Herald Tribune and Asia Times, to McKinsey Quarterly and TED, to ESPN and Sports Illustrated.

Google News changed things

Then Google News came along. I was late to the party, admittedly, as far as sites that aggregated news were concerned. So when I stumbled on this, I was excited to know that I could personalize my news feed to subjects that mattered most to me. This has been nothing short of a tectonic discovery for me, and here’s how.

For one, I liked it so much that I decided not to renew my WSJ subscription. I even made Google News my home page. I enjoy its wide scope of articles, from a diverse range of sources. While it’s virtually impossible to know all the facts about incidents or events, the more diverse the sources and angles we read, the more complete and accurate of a picture we get about those things.

For another, I love to read and learn anyway. But Google News opened up my studies to a higher level and wider vista. It’s hard to describe what’s happened, since my discovery, but this opening up wasn’t just within this news feed, but more widely across sites and sources. For example, LinkedIn Today and Twitter Trends came into my radar more prominently. It’s like I was previously in a famine state, and now I’m voraciously sampling a veritable feast of information and knowledge.

What’s more, Google News has changed not just the breadth of things I read, but also the very way I go about learning things. You see, I’m pretty methodical. I have a list of core subjects, and I study them almost daily and in the order of priority (i.e., T’ai Chi, Einstein, Nash, and Google). Now my studies are more organic. That is, I review and refresh my core subjects more regularly, and I’m more likely to follow where my mind takes me, rather than direct my mind in a more regimented way.

Finally, Google News Badges.  At first, I thought this little feature was silly. I love Google News for its content, no need to resort to a Boys Scout or cute classroom mechanism to incent me to read. Or so I thought, until I realized that Badges actually worked! Yes, as I’ve mentioned, my reading, learning and studies have reached new heights and vistas. But if I read something on LinkedIn Today or Twitter Trends, I will slide back to Google News and check it for similar articles. Plus, I’ll pass the cursor over my badges, and relish how my numbers grow.

Are you as crazed about news, information and knowledge as I am? You can tell me. I’m a clinical psychologist, and I’ll keep everything you share confidential (lol).

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

TV is so 20th Century

My flat-screen in Dubai
At first it seemed like finding that proverbial pot of gold at the end of that proverbial rainbow.  Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration.

As a management consultant, I had the privilege of traveling throughout the Middle East, and staying at 5-star hotels. Like the Ritz Carlton in Bahrain, the Grand Hyatt in Muscat, and the Four Seasons in Riyadh. We also had quite comfortable, sizable flats in Riyadh and Dhahran.  By and large it was the same: 100′s of channels on TV, for our endless viewing pleasure.

Except that they’re in multiple other languages, besides English. If you’ve seen Lebanese and Egyptian music videos, you know you don’t need to understand Arabic to enjoy them. Same with broadcast news. The images and videos tell the story, plus of course the lovely lady presenters. Bored one evening, for example, the guys and I lounge in front of the TV, and watch some serial drama in another language. We take turns imposing our own dialogue into the show, effectively becoming the ‘talking heads’ for the actors. Trust me, it was funny.

Still, there were times when, exhausted from a long day of working, I just clamored for an English channel. At one accommodation, I swear there must’ve been just two or three. Upon moving to Dubai a few years ago, I longed for quality channels in the same, quite sizable offering. Well, I got fed up, and decided to just cancel my TV package. Turned out that that pot was at the end of a bleary-eyed scowl, and it was simply full of old, mildewed coins!

YouTube, genius concept

YouTube has become my TV, instead. It’s free, its offerings are virtually limitless, and many videos are in English.

Conan O’Brien is one of the quirky yet standout comedians in the American scene. I think his shows are just hilarious in a very wry way. From late night, toward prime time, he gradually entered mainstream culture. So, in lieu of watching him on TV, I enjoy clips of his show on YT.

To wit, here’s a feature on Kesha Rose Sebert on his show, who reveals that she uses auto-tune to mask a terrible, throaty manly voice.

How about the “Hitler Cat,” in an elite company of other heads of state? 

But my favorite YouTube discovery of the day today is of the lovely Anne Hathaway, proving that even nice girls can be hip rapsters.

So now if you mention ‘TV,’ I like, "Huh, whaaa?"  What are your favorite funny videos on YouTube?

Thank for your reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Friday, August 19, 2011

e-Mail Trance

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How much time do you spend on Facebook, Google or YouTube every day? How often do you drift into e-mail trance while using your Smartphone? It’s quite remarkable when we think about how much things have changed over the past decade because of these technologies, which are now an integral part of our daily lives.
This thoughtful, informative article asks these questions. Quite remarkable, indeed.

Years ago, I labeled each of my e-mails. Google makes it simple to create and manage these labeled e-mails. Except that, as the volume of my e-mails grew, labeling became a tedious task and I repeatedly fell behind. So I abandoned it, and relied instead on Google’s strong search mechanisms when I needed to find a particular e-mail. Still, for a while, the volume of e-mails was difficult for me to manage. I often dreaded opening my Inbox, and felt so overwhelmed that I’d just open one or two e-mails, then put off the others for another time. Or, unfortunately, forget them.

Getting my BlackBerry, my first smartphone, was truly a game-changer for me. Whenever I had a handful of seconds, I’d skim my e-mails, read the ones I wanted to read, and reply. I’d delete the rest. By the time, I opened my Inbox on the laptop, it looked marvelously clean! Mind you, I still fall behind, but not as badly as before and it’s easier now to catch up. BB literally changed how I communicated.

Then, I got an important lesson on communications.  From an unexpected person (a venerable gentleman), in an unexpected place (the post office). I posted about it on Facebook.

I do my best to be mindful of where and when I use my BB, especially when I engage in that absorbing activity of e-mailing. It’s usually longer messages to read, and longer responses from me. But I do fall occasionally into that trap of e-mail trance, when I’m with someone.

These days, how well do you actually connect with the people you’re with? 

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Big is Still Better

I am a Chicago Bulls fanatic. They ended the 2010-2011 regular season with the best record in the NBA, and I was thrilled in ways I hadn’t been, since the heyday of the Michael Jordan era in the 1990s. So when the playoffs came rolling around in April, I was psyched!

Unlike the 1990s, however, I now live in Dubai. There is a time zone difference with Chicago (9 hours). What’s more, no TV subscription: Too much crappy programming on offer here. But without access to live telecasts, I found that ESPN had live ‘gamecasts’ online, which allowed me to follow the exploits (and struggles) of the Bulls throughout the playoffs. I also watched as many video highlights as I could find online: on Sports Illustrated and YouTube, along with ESPN.

Now, in the advent of on-the-go devices, like smart phones and tablets, someone like me can keep up with sports whenever and wherever. In fact, with the time difference, I’d wake up in the early morning here and follow the gamecast on my BlackBerry. I’d be half-asleep, but it was cool to check live-play of the Bulls in bed.

There is a lot of talk about mobile technology being the next big frontier for information and communications. After all, many more people around the world have a mobile than they do a PC, and this is a boon to advertisers. Google, among many, is big on it.

Here’s the thing, though, about the internet on mobile: The screen is too small. I have to zoom-in, once or twice, to be able to read text. The CNN user interface for mobile is actually pretty good, as I don’t have to zoom-in. Still, it took a while to get used to reading ‘fine print’ on my BB.

What’s more, I’m not satisfied with the mobile ‘apps’ of some sites. I’d click ‘Like’ or make a comment, using the Facebook app, for example, but there was no apparent synchrony with my Facebook on the laptop. I couldn’t find those ‘Likes’ or comments. Also, the Newsfeed was entirely different, and I couldn’t access much of friends’ profiles. So I abandoned the app, and just browsed the site straightaway. It’s dial-up slow, mind you, but the synchrony is much better.

On a similar note, when a friend showed me photos on his iPad, my first reaction was, “It’s small.” Somehow I expected a screen as big as that of my HP laptop.

So, at the end of the day, my internet experience on the laptop is still tops. I love the convenience of my BB internet access, but for now it’s a modestly satisfying experience. (I hear from friends that the iPhone is better, though. Maybe, maybe not.) I do a good amount of working, connecting, and watching videos online, and my HP screen is nicely sized!

So, yeah, big is still better.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Choose All the Above

Journalists and readers alike must love a rivalry, don’t they. Apple vs. Google: Who Will Own the Tech World?, so goes this article: You’re either with the black mock turtleneck guy or with the former PhD students from Stanford.

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There is of course no denying the fierce competition for us consumers: for our attention, habits, and cash. I rely on Microsoft for my PC operating system and office suite, and I cannot easily switch because many of my friends and colleagues are on the same page. I can go Chrome or Internet Explorer, but a few years ago I chose Firefox as my browser. I cannot easily switch, as I’ve constructed an extensive ‘org chart’ of bookmarks. What’s more, I can use Crest among a handful of toothpaste in my bathroom, but I am partial to Colgate. So, it’s about choice, and only one rival wins.

On the other hand, there are areas in our day-to-day lives where we don’t have to choose. Or, more specifically, we can choose ‘all the above.’ For all the hullabaloo about Google+ versus Facebook, all of us can choose both, if we wanted. Yes, we have only so much time in a given 24-hour period to ‘social media-ize,’ but I can be active in the big space of Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter, plus in the arena of second tier players like A Small World and Google+.

So, Apple or Google? I choose both.

What they’re doing is awesome, and they dominate the market in key product lines. I study them for their algorithms and innovations, their business strategies and models, and their handling of sticky legal matters on IP and privacy. More specifically, I use a BlackBerry right now, but within the next few months I will buy an iPad and iPhone as well as an Android smart phone.

Picture this. Some former office mates come to a meeting, and lay a mobile then another one, neatly together on the table. A few bring out a third mobile. In time, I, too, will be showing off my wares:  Count ‘em, four!

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Monday, August 15, 2011

What's a Twitter?

What’s most amusing and remarkable, I think, about this video is the fact that it goes back only eight years. In 2004, who would’ve ‘thunk of’ blogs? I stumbled on a Wall Street Journal article, around 2008, about following someone and something, but I had no idea what Twitter was, either.

Well, how about going back further in time, shall we, when the internet was still a novelty?

Some choice quotes from this video:

  • Technology and the internet became “tools of the human spirit.”
  • “It feels a bit like everyday human fellowship, but it’s bigger and more precise … It’s tap a yearning to connect.”
  • “It’s a modulated anarchy. It’s an interesting kind of restraint that you find. There’s not a lot of cursing or swearing. There’s not a lot of personal cuts … There’s not screen fulls of ‘go to hell’.”
  • “This overwhelming desire for people to be rooted.”

Hmm, the good old days, eh, before YouTube gave thousands of viewers a forum to vent their rude, demeaning and vulgar sentiments. The explosive rate of innovation in media and technology in the last decade alone seems to have released scores of us from restraint. Lawmakers and citizens alike sometimes bemoan a sense of lawlessness on the Wild Wild West of the internet. Hardly a form of restraint, is it.

Now fast forward to the present, and glimpse at the future.

We’re now well into the second decade of the 21st century. If the first decade brought us such revolutionary media as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, and such revolutionary technology as iPod and iPhone … If the first decade also brought us such disruptive economic, political and military tragedies … then what can we expect next? If the curve on which media and technology progress gets faster and steeper, then might we fall off and get left behind at some point in the future? Or can we slow and flatten that curve a bit, so we can catch our breath and catch up with that rate of progress?

There are all kinds of predictions for this ‘teenage’ decade. Such as mobile technology being the next frontier for disruptive innovation, business models, and global reach. Such as China supplanting the US and becoming the number one economy in the world. Such as Google+ overtaking Facebook. In point of fact, we don’t know exactly. To me, predictions are an amusing academic, if not cocktail, activity. But with what I call The Black Swan algorithm, we ought to be mindful of, prepare for, and essentially expect the unexpected!

How was the preceding decade for you, and what do you anticipate in this decade? If time, money and knowledge were not an issue, what ‘next big thing’ would you want?

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To Stop or Not to Stop

It’s ludicrous to try to stop media.

Whether it’s social, traditional, or ‘old school,’ the means with which we can communicate with one another are vast, varied, and frankly unstoppable. The thing is, as media has evolved in the last several decades, we’ve adopted new forms of it without necessarily shedding old forms of it. Sure, authorities can try to shut down Twitter or the internet in general, but then people have access to TV, landline, or simply word-of-mouth in their community or circles.

So when Duncan Geere asks this question (left), I think he is speaking pointedly about (a) the realities of media as multiple platforms, but also speaking more tacitly about (b) the complexities of the content that passes through and the people doing that passing.

Geere mentions the UK Prime Minister specifically at the beginning, “Amidst widespread calls from MPs, David Cameron has pledged to investigate the possibility of turning off social networks during times of crisis, lumping Britain in with some rather unsavoury company.”

But when I follow that link to what was pledged, I see that Cameron was actually talking about stopping the people passing destructive content, not about stopping the media.

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Put this way, I agree with Cameron. Criminal activity must be stopped, anywhere it occurs and anyhow it’s done.  He goes on to add that the police must be verse in social media and mobile devices, and have the tools necessary to monitor such activity on such platforms. I agree once again. I understand, for example, that authorities in Egypt weren’t as verse in this respect, and consequently were caught off guard when the rebellion gathered momentum in social media.

Geere’s article triggered a slew of comments basically agreeing that, yes, trying to stop media is ludicrous. I encourage these readers to follow what Cameron actually pledged.  I imagine, then, that they’d have a different point of view about this sensitive, complex matter.

At the end of the day, it’s highly impractical, if not impossible, for us to find and follow all the news reports about a set of incidents. Still, I believe it’s a good idea to read a little more, before reacting.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Internet Reflections and Reversals

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Like millions of others, I am terribly excited about the internet.  Social media makes it so easy to connect with people around the world.  YouTube, in particular, is a treasure trove of learning and enjoyment.  I love to think and tinker with ideas, and I love to study its practically limitless videos.  From Albert Einstein, and drawing on his tectonic equation E = mc², in order to help companies push their results further.  To Warren Buffet, and reflecting on his beguilingly simple approach to investing, such ‘Invest only in business that you can understand.’  To the Tour de France, as I am a cycling fanatic and I can’t get enough of racing videos to watch.

If you happen not to be convinced on how crazy revolutionary and exciting the internet is, have a look at this video by Erik Qualman.

Getting lost in the internet

Still, I know how easy it is to get absorbed on the internet, and lose touch with people in the physical world.  How easy to get caught up on the treadmill of answering my private messages, e-mails, SMSs etc., and often times it seems I fall behind anyway.  Then, I’m frustrated, and feel reluctant to go out and socialize.

So it is with these introductory words that I mention an intelligent, illuminating yet warm, approachable article that John Freeman wrote:  Not so Fast.

Slow down, feel the grass under your feet.
Everything we say needn’t travel at the fastest rate possible. The difference between typing an email and writing a letter or memo out by hand is akin to walking on concrete versus stroll­ing on grass. You forget how natural it feels until you do it again. Our time on this earth is limited, the world is vast, and the people we care about or need for our business life to operate will not always live and work nearby; we will always have to com­municate over distance. We might as well enjoy it and preserve the space and time to do it in a way that matches the rhythms of our bodies. Continuing to work and type and write at speed, however, will make our communication environment resemble our cities. There will be concrete as far as the eye can see.
Get physical, go out and have coffee with a friend.
A large part of electronic commu­nication leads us away from the physical world. Our cafes, post offices, parks, cinemas, town centers, main streets and commu­nity meeting halls have suffered as a result of this development. They are beginning to resemble the tidy and lonely bedroom commuter towns created by the expansion of the American interstate system. Sitting in the modern coffee shop, you don’t hear the murmur or rise and fall of conversation but the con­tinuous, insect-like patter of typing. The disuse of real-world commons drives people back into the virtual world, causing a feedback cycle that leads to an ever-deepening isolation and neglect of the tangible commons.
Pause and step back, don’t send.
We need context in order to live, and if the environment of electronic communication has stopped providing it, we shouldn’t search online for a solution but turn back to the real world and slow down. To do this, we need to uncouple our idea of progress from speed, separate the idea of speed from effi­ciency, pause and step back enough to realize that efficiency may be good for business and governments but does not always lead to mindfulness and sustainable, rewarding relationships. We are here for a short time on this planet, and reacting to demands on our time by simply speeding up has canceled out many of the benefits of the Internet, which is one of the most fabulous technological inventions ever conceived. We are connected, yes, but we were before, only by gossamer threads that worked more slowly. Slow communication will preserve these threads and our ability to sensibly choose to use faster modes when necessary. It will also preserve our sanity, our families, our relationships and our ability to find happiness in a world where, in spite of the Internet, saying what we mean is as hard as it ever was. It starts with a simple instruction: Don’t send.
Uncluttering, cleaning up

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Years ago I got into the habit of throwing things out regularly.  I had a large study in my house in Chicago, and on pickup day for trash and recycling, I made sure I had a few old magazines, papers, and other unwanted stuff in the bins.

Then, I lived in a flat in Dubai, and it was only about the size of my basement where I had my study.  Not much stuff here, that is.  Still, my communication and computing devices had loads of stuff that, in keeping with this habit, I regularly got rid of.  For example, I used a clean-up program to delete junk on my PC and “clear all history” on my browser, regularly.  I deleted old contacts, and friends who didn’t respond, on my smartphones and Skype.  I did the same with some contacts, groups and pages on Facebook and LinkedIn, and with some subscriptions and favorites on YouTube.  I quickly deleted e-mails I didn’t read anyway, or I simply unsubscribed to e-mail lists.

In this vein, I wrote about this poem:  'Delete' (February 2011).

So what stays are the people and things that matter most to us.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Friday, August 12, 2011

Value for Many

Imagine this. You’re a confident young engineer, with an outstanding university pedigree. Now, you’re part of a project team, and together you’re called upon to create something as commonplace as the car. But you’re given such severe cost restrictions that you’re wont to throw your university books out the window, if not scratch your head and bang it against the wall.

Your director tells you, “I don’t care how you do it, just do it!”

This is a talk by RA Mashelkar at TED India, and he offers lessons not just on innovation and philanthropy per se, but also on human capabilities under severe constraints. Below are screen shots from this talk.

It may be a surprise for many of us to know that the majority of the world is impoverished. Never mind access to Facebook. Never mind possession of a computer or mobile.  The ultra poor among us don’t even have easy access to drinkable water, let alone anything remotely technological.  Theirs is pretty much a world of low-tech or no-tech.  

So Mashelkar challenges us:

Media and technology experts and laypeople alike may speak as if the internet ruled the world. As if the staggering number of Facebook members, about 750 million today, defined social relationships. Well, this figure represents just 11% of the world population.  So vast swaths of our fellow citizens are not posting status updates or checking each others’ photos. Facebook is arguably an internet giant, but its dominion is actually small.

So how do we, with our media and technology firepower, do good for the majority that need our help but don’t necessarily have the means to secure it?

This TED Talk speaks to what is possible with the creation of the ultra low-cost Nano car and Jaipur Foot. Some of the posted comments were critical of what Mashelkar shared. Granted, helping the poor is not an easy endeavor and sometimes solving one problem begets another problem, such as traffic gridlock and pollution because of car affordability among the masses. Still, his message is important to heed:  The problems of the poor can be solved, perhaps just in part but solved indeed.

In the end, I found his challenges inspirational.
  • We’re not talking about low cost, but ultra low cost and extreme affordability. 
  • We’re not talking about exclusive innovation, but inclusive ones so that the many can benefit as well. 
  • We’re not talking about incremental innovation, with lengthy development period, but disruptive, transformational innovation done at fractions of the usual time. 
  • We’re not talking about wide-ranging (concave) talent, but convex lens leadership meant to harness the power of uncommon focus on a challenge.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Think Different

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them, because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Inspiring commercial and ad campaign from Apple. A great success in 1997, it took the public by storm and won critics over. It heralded the return of Steve Jobs, and it ushered in a revolutionary first decade of the 21st century for Apple. Think: iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and iPad. Jobs’ name or image is nowhere in this commercial. Yet, like him or not, he unquestionably belongs among the luminaries captured here.

It isn’t easy perhaps for many of us to think differently. It requires us to break conventional wisdom when looking at things and drawing conclusions about events. Nassim Taleb, author of the book The Black Swan, spoke at length about the foibles of human thinking. For example, psychologists or consultants are wont to identify the traits that make a particular leader successful, say, strategic in thinking, engaging of others, and driven toward results. We believe, then, that if we acquire these traits, we can and should be successful, too. What these experts sometimes forget is what Taleb calls “silent evidence.” What about those leaders who had these very traits, but who failed? They may be far from the limelight, if their failures weren’t at all colossal, relegated into the dusty annals of those who couldn’t ‘cut the mustard,’ and therefore deserve not to be acknowledged or studied. So, to think differently means, among a number of things, weighing things that stand out and also things that don’t. Doing this makes us appreciate, I believe, how extraordinarily difficult it can be to achieve the levels of success portrayed in this Apple ad campaign.

Let’s unpack that inspiring quote above, shall we, and let me add to its short list of luminaries.

“They have no respect for the status quo.”

Sigmund Freud.  Indeed he dared to cut against the grain of 19th century Victorian Europe, by delving into the sexual and aggressive drives within us. Yes, some dismiss or otherwise vilify his views, but there’s no denying his impact on culture and insight into people. For example, these drives percolate in our unconscious, and can prompt us to act irrationally or impulsively. Indeed he argued, provocatively, that we as people weren’t even masters of our own ‘house’ (mind and body). Rather, it was the id and these unconscious drives.

“They push the human race forward.”

Charles Darwin. Through astute observation and painstaking study, he gathered the pieces of a colossal framework to explain the evolution of life. Adaptations over generations vis-a-vis the environment resulted in remarkable changes in the shape, function, and appearance of life. Moreover, he had the gall to suggest that the human was cousin to the chimp and that, with modern scientific discoveries, both human and chimp had a common ancestry in the fish! Evolution was what brought about and pushed the human race forward, not creationism, he argued.

“To think that they can change the world.”

Nicolaus Copernicus. The Ptolemaic view of the universe survived for centuries. It was a geocentric one, with the earth as the cosmic center. Copernicus had a radically different notion. He was greatly reluctant to publish his findings, for fear of criticism, censure, perhaps even death, from government and church authorities. Still, as Galileo succeeded him, there was ultimately no denying that Copernicus was right. That our universe was in fact a heliocentric one and that the earth was simply one of numerous celestial bodies revolving around the sun. What a blow to the ego of humankind, its world having changed before its very eyes!

These three, plus the Albert Einstein, the Amelia Earhart, the Pablo Picasso et al. captured in this Think Different commercial, are exceptional individuals indeed. Rare visionaries and talent, with whom, like it or not, we are gifted. The vast majority of us belong to an average lot, in contrast. Still, I believe that in our small ways, in our daily lives, we can think differently and consequently solve problems, make changes, and fashion things for the better for others.

In what ways have you thought differently about things, and what were the effects of doing so?

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD