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In Experts we Trust

3 Sep

“There is not the slightest possibility of such journeys.” -American astronomer F.R. Moulston on humans going to the moon (1935).

“Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.” – Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society of London (1895).

“The [atomic] bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives.” -U.S. Admiral William D. Leahy to President Truman (1945).

“There is no reason for any individuals to have a computer in their home,” -Ken Olsen, founder of DEC computer company (1977).

Good motivation for entrepreneurs who get a lot of doors slammed in their face 🙂


Cloud Organization…not Computing

11 Nov

Quick post to help you efficiently organize your thoughts into a coherent argument, speech, presentation, etc.

3 step process;

1) brainstorm ideas without regard to organization

2) write good ideas into one of three clouds drawn around a central issue

3) convert your cloud map into an outline Cloud Idea

“Clear writing and clear speaking are a result of clear thinking.”

Look for logical segues between clouds and create a 5-part outline.

In summary the 3 step cloud process to create a 5 part outline is as follows;

1) brainstorm

2) cloud up your ideas

3) outline your speech

4) edit and revise the outline

5) rehearse and perform your well organized speech/presentation

For a more detailed analysis please visit (Joe Cook)

Cloud Map

TED x Buffalo

21 Feb

Excited to be a part of the team organizing the 2013 TEDxBuffalo event. If you know of anyone who would make a great speaker- email me at

Past events see here-

More info to follow


David Foster Wallace

11 Dec

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day…. The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t…. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness.

The Power of Negative Thinking…?

11 Dec

Research by Saras Sarasvathy, an associate professor of business administration at the University of Virginia, suggests that learning to accommodate feelings of uncertainty is not just the key to a more balanced life but often leads to prosperity as well. For one project, she interviewed 45 successful entrepreneurs, all of whom had taken at least one business public. Almost none embraced the idea of writing comprehensive business plans or conducting extensive market research.

They practiced instead what Prof. Sarasvathy calls “effectuation.” Rather than choosing a goal and then making a plan to achieve it, they took stock of the means and materials at their disposal, then imagined the possible ends. Effectuation also includes what she calls the “affordable loss principle.” Instead of focusing on the possibility of spectacular rewards from a venture, ask how great the loss would be if it failed. If the potential loss seems tolerable, take the next step


Sobering Analysis

9 Nov

Is U.S. Economic Growth Over? Faltering Innovation Confronts the Six Headwinds


Robert J. Gordon

NBER Working Paper No. 18315
Issued in August 2012
NBER Program(s):   DAE   EFG   PR

This paper raises basic questions about the process of economic growth. It questions the assumption, nearly universal since Solow’s seminal contributions of the 1950s, that economic growth is a continuous process that will persist forever. There was virtually no growth before 1750, and thus there is no guarantee that growth will continue indefinitely. Rather, the paper suggests that the rapid progress made over the past 250 years could well turn out to be a unique episode in human history. The paper is only about the United States and views the future from 2007 while pretending that the financial crisis did not happen. Its point of departure is growth in per-capita real GDP in the frontier country since 1300, the U.K. until 1906 and the U.S. afterwards. Growth in this frontier gradually accelerated after 1750, reached a peak in the middle of the 20th century, and has been slowing down since. The paper is about “how much further could the frontier growth rate decline?”

The analysis links periods of slow and rapid growth to the timing of the three industrial revolutions (IR’s), that is, IR #1 (steam, railroads) from 1750 to 1830; IR #2 (electricity, internal combustion engine, running water, indoor toilets, communications, entertainment, chemicals, petroleum) from 1870 to 1900; and IR #3 (computers, the web, mobile phones) from 1960 to present. It provides evidence that IR #2 was more important than the others and was largely responsible for 80 years of relatively rapid productivity growth between 1890 and 1972. Once the spin-off inventions from IR #2 (airplanes, air conditioning, interstate highways) had run their course, productivity growth during 1972-96 was much slower than before. In contrast, IR #3 created only a short-lived growth revival between 1996 and 2004. Many of the original and spin-off inventions of IR #2 could happen only once – urbanization, transportation speed, the freedom of females from the drudgery of carrying tons of water per year, and the role of central heating and air conditioning in achieving a year-round constant temperature.

Even if innovation were to continue into the future at the rate of the two decades before 2007, the U.S. faces six headwinds that are in the process of dragging long-term growth to half or less of the 1.9 percent annual rate experienced between 1860 and 2007. These include demography, education, inequality, globalization, energy/environment, and the overhang of consumer and government debt. A provocative “exercise in subtraction” suggests that future growth in consumption per capita for the bottom 99 percent of the income distribution could fall below 0.5 percent per year for an extended period of decades.

abstract linked here-

Reminds me of Tyler Cowen’s e-book “The Great Stagnation”

Pockets of Longevity

24 Oct

Seeking to learn more about the island’s reputation for long-lived residents, I called on Dr. Ilias Leriadis, one of Ikaria’s few physicians, in 2009. On an outdoor patio at his weekend house, he set a table with Kalamata olives, hummus, heavy Ikarian bread and wine. “People stay up late here,” Leriadis said. “We wake up late and always take naps. I don’t even open my office until 11 a.m. because no one comes before then.” He took a sip of his wine. “Have you noticed that no one wears a watch here? No clock is working correctly. When you invite someone to lunch, they might come at 10 a.m. or 6 p.m. We simply don’t care about the clock here.”


Ikaria, an island about 30 miles off the western coast of Turkey where people are reaching the age of 90 at two and a half time the rate Americans do, and suffering about a quarter the rate of dementia.