3 lessons from a week in Lourdes

I just returned from a week in Lourdes, France. With 70 volunteers we guided a group of 50 elderly people, many seriously ill, on a religious pilgrimage. Millions of people travel to Lourdes each year to bathe in its springs that are supposed to have healing properties, after a young girl had 18 visions of the Virgin Mary there in 1858.

Equipe 5, Lourdes 2016.JPG

I am not a devout Catholic and I don’t believe in the miraculous healing properties of Lourdes’ water. So why did I go? I went because I wanted to help. My motivations are quite selfish, really: I know that serving others fills me with positive energy.

Here are three lessons I learned from a week with 50 elderly people.

1. Compassion can be cultivated.

We know that we can show kindness to our friends, and that on a good day we may even help a stranger in the street. But can we be kind to everyone? Surely there are some people we just don’t get along with! In Lourdes I realized that it is possible to develop sincere kindness for anyone.

On my first day, I felt repelled by an elderly man in his wheelchair. Subjecting my immediate reaction to walk away, I started a conversation with him. After chatting for fifteen minutes I had seen so many commonalities between us that my initial feeling of repulsion had shifted to sincere compassion. Through this incident I realized that we can cultivate compassion, even for people who we initially despise, if we just have an opportunity to see their humanity.

That’s exactly the insight that drove an Israeli restaurant owner to offer 50% discount on meals in his restaurant shared by Palestinians and Israelis. This Zen Habits guide of 7 practices will help mean—and maybe you too—to be more compassionate.

2. Helping someone matters.

Following the logic of Effective Altruism, it is easy to conclude that helping a few elderly people does not matter. “Why would I spend a week pushing old people in a wheelchair if I can work on a scalable solution for healthcare?” I think the lens of “impact” fails here for two reasons. First, I believe that if everyone would take care of their neighbors, the world would be a better place. Second, I believe that when we help someone directly, we are reminded what really matters in life. This causes ripple effects in how we choose our careers and lives.

 3. Religion can be a powerful framework for personal growth.

In an interview with New Scientist, E.O. Wilson said that we should eliminate religion because it causes great danger to our humanity. After Lourdes my view of religion is much more positive. Going to mass every day, I saw that religion can be a framework to become a better person. By reading stories of saintly behavior; reflecting on your own actions (and sins); and wishing each other peace during mass, religion can help people to be kinder. That is why I recommend everyone to read Alain de Botton’s book Religion for Atheists.

 

In summary, the week reminded me how helping others truly is “food for the soul”. It also reminded me that I should treasure the moments I still have with my grandparents.

What role does service play in your life? Are there experiences that have transformed you? Which experiences would you still like to live?

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4 Dutch projects you should know about

Now in Beijing, I spent the last two weeks in the Netherlands. Here are four Dutch projects that inspired me.

1. Ocean Cleanup
Boyan Slat’s ocean cleanup addresses a truly super-national problem (floating waste in oceans), with no direct commercial benefit to the founders. Supported by a young founder who combines a hacker-ethic with deep skill in involving the public (the team raised $2.1M through crowdfunding) , you see why it’s easy to be a fan. Boyan would fit well between the Thiel fellows.

2. Vandebron
Vandebron is a platform for Dutch citizens to buy renewable power from local farmers with excess electricity production. The idea of decentralized electricity sharing is promoted by many, but Vandebron is the first company I know that has successfully created a platform through which individual citizens can sell and buy power, becoming an “airbnb for electricity” as Matthew and I wrote on RMI’s blog.

3. Smart Highways
During the Singularity Summit in Amsterdam last week, Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde showed the audience two of his latest pilot projects: a bicycle-path inspired by Van Gogh’s “Starry Nights” and a glow-in-the-dark paint that can illuminate highways without overhead lighting. Roosegaarde’s ability to apply natural inspiration to objects in our physical world like roads, churches, and public parks in an artistic way fascinates me. Watch his excellent Zomergasten video here. Highly recommended!

4. Stroomversnelling
During a visit to Shell with Amory, Maaike Witteveen told me about this project to reduce energy consumption of Dutch residential buildings, called “rijtjeshuizen”, by 80 percent, by adding insulating wall panels, superwindows, solar PV, an air source heat pump. Led by BAM, a Dutch developer, and financed by housing cooperatives, incentives between tenants and the housing cooperative align: tenants reduce rent when using less energy; housing cooperatives reduce costs. Maaike and I will soon post a blog describing the potential of the concept on RMI’s blog. For now, here’s a description from the Guardian.

How Apple’s Watch Could Save Energy

On September 9, Tim Cook unveiled the Apple Watch, “the most personal product” Apple has ever made, says the company, “because it’s the first one designed to be worn.” The watch joins other products like bracelets from Fitbit and Jawbone in a category called “wearable technologies,” or wearables.

Beyond decorating your wrist, these products are primarily worn to send, receive, and process information, through cellular networks, WiFi, Bluetooth, or—unique to Apple’s Watch—near-field communications (NFC). The Apple Watch can monitor your heart rate, track your location (through an accelerometer, gyroscope, and GPS), and recognize your voice.

THE WEARABLE DIFFERENCE

Smartphones and their apps have already been doing great things for users managing their energy (and much more, including fitness), for example through connected thermostats, electric vehicle charging, solar panel output monitoring, sharing-economy services, and much more. So why would you wear Apple’s Watch when you have an iPhone? What extra value do wearables unlock that already isn’t accessible through other technologies?

First, wearable technologies can collect biological data, such as your heart rate and body temperature—that a phone in your pocket cannot. These data sources can tell a more complete story about your physical state than data from your phone. Second, wearable technologies are less likely to be separated from the user. Unlike phones, most users will wear their Apple Watch in the shower or in bed. In other words, it’s always with you.

This connectedness between wearable tech and the wearer opens up at least three categories of energy management opportunities: at home, at the office, and personal.

ENERGY USE IN YOUR HOME

Wearable tech can help better match our homes’ energy use—especially heating and cooling—to our needs. For example, Nest’s Learning Thermostat has a built-in motion sensor. It’ll put your home’s HVAC system into an energy-saving “away” mode after a period of inactivity. But imagine how much energy could be saved if a device on your wrist signals your thermostat to go into “away” mode the moment you leave your home or neighborhood.

Similarly, programmable thermostats can be set to pre-condition your house so that it’s a comfortable temperature when you wake up and roll out of bed in the morning. Some smart thermostats even detect when you typically wake up during the week and create a fixed start-up time for your thermostat based on that. But wearing a device on your wrist—which is either connected to an alarm to wake you up, or which detects your sleep cycles and learns when you’re likely to wake—can more accurately tailor your home’s pre-conditioning to match your actual wake-up time, rather than a weekday thermostat program set to the same time, on average, you’re likely to get up.

ENERGY USE IN YOUR OFFICE

Have you experienced working in a ridiculously frigid office in summer, because the building control system does not know how people feel? Or an overly hot office in the winter? Even an office that’s conditioned well to a target temperature could feel too hot and/or too cold (even at the same time!) given one person’s preferences vs. another.

Wearable technology can provide information like body temperature, heart rate, and respiration, giving a more complete picture of physical comfort. Voice recognition software could even detect when people are complaining about feeling too hot or cold.

Even more, wearable tech and other more personalized devices can help to condition the person, rather than the entire space—in fact, that’s the very principle behind heated seats and a heated steering wheel in the Nissan LEAF; it’s more efficient to make the person feel comfortable, rather than heat or cool the entire cabin. In an office setting, think of office chairs with heating elements, wristbands that cool your wrist like that from Wristify, or vents that determine personal air flow like those from Ecovent.

Beyond the office, wearable tech can have other applications when out and about, too. At the product launch, Cook described how the Apple Watch can replace a hotel keycard to unlock your room as you approach the door. Similarly, your watch can connect to your hotel room’s thermostat, to delay room cooling until you have checked in. No energy is wasted cooling an empty room, while ensuring a guest’s room is comfortable as they enter.

A COMING ERA OF PERSONAL ENERGY PROFILES?

In a coming era when energy use becomes not just highly personalized, but attached in fact to individual people, it’s not hard to imagine developing personal energy profiles of our individual demand and consumption. And that could open the door to personal energy bills. Usually we bill our energy use to our energy-consuming assets—electricity and natural gas billed monthly for our home, for example. But imagine if instead of assigning energy consumption to our assets we re-assigned that energy consumption to ourselves? Gone could be the arguments between roommates about how to equitably split the utility bill (one of the top sources of friction among roommates in places such as New York City).

Or what if wearable tech, in addition to sending personal information out to the systems around us, could also receive signals back to us, such as from your utility. Could wearable tech further open the door to a personal version of demand response? For example, similar to how utilities use demand response to cycle off air conditioners during times of exceptionally high peak demand in summer, could they instead signal a Wristify bracelet to cool a person instead of an AC unit cooling a whole house, or could your Apple Watch receive a signal from the utility asking you to have an ice-cold tea instead of turning up the AC at 4:00 p.m.?

PRIVACY VERSUS PERSONAL COMFORT

Many of the comfort-improving, energy-saving features above are enabled by more information about you being shared with computers. This of course opens up another set of issues around Big Brother watching and the privacy of potentially very personal information, who can “see” that information, and how will they be allowed to use that info. Whether having the option to turn such data sharing on or off, or another solution such as anonymizing the data, the face remains that wearable tech could be another front line in the grid’s evolution toward more distributed energy resources. Those DERs could now include not just things like rooftop solar panels and batteries in your garage, but also wearable technologies and the people who wear them.

This blog was originally posted on RMI’s blog. 

Leverage Points for a Better World

RMI's office in Snowmass, close to Aspen—the former estate of John Denver.

RMI’s office in Snowmass, close to Aspen: the former estate of John Denver.

I moved to Snowmass, Colorado two weeks ago to work directly with Amory Lovins, cofounder, Chairman and Chief-Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). RMI is a think-and-do-tank that aims to drive a world verdant, safe, and secure by developing  solutions in collaboration with for-profit enterprise in the areas of more comfortable and  efficient buildings; more productive and reliable industrial processes; and safer, better transportation systems.

A tool we aim to exercise at RMI is “Institutional Acupuncture”—sticking metaphorical needles into carefully chosen points in complex organizations and relationships to get the business logic flowing properly in the channels and directions it already naturally flows.

What does “Institutional Acupuncture” mean in practice? What blockages do we try to eliminate today? In the last two weeks I have spent much of my time asking questions and listening to my new colleagues. Below is a list of topics that represent we engage in today.

#1. New utility business models

The availability of ever-cheaper distributed generation technologies—such as the solar panels on your roof—begs the question: “Do I require a utility-contract for my power? Is it not cheaper, more reliable, and cleaner to privately power my home?”

This query is addressed in two publications by eLab: a program to unite decision makers and thought leaders to identify, test, and spread practical innovations to key barriers slowing the transformation of the U.S. electricity system. The first analysis, “Grid Optional“, is written for private citizens. The publication shows by which year investing in solar-and-batteries and defecting from the grid is cheaper than maintaining an agreement with a utility.   

The second analysis from eLab provides utilities with future scenarios. The publication is appropriately titled “New Business Models for the Distribution Edge”. David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy recently wrote an article about the death of utilities as we know them today, as did Amory on RMI’s blog.

 #2. Lowering the costs of solar PV

Lowering the cost of electricity from solar panels below the cost of electricity from other sources is a major driver for a high penetration of renewable energy. Although the cost of a solar panel is now five times cheaper than in 2000 , installation costs of a solar panel system are twice as high in the U.S. as in Germany or Australia. In collaboration with NREL, RMI’s Dan Seif and Jesse Morris have published a report to show how these soft costs—installation labor, financing and marketing costs for instance—can be lowered, introduced in this article.

When you  consider installing solar panels—or have done so already—it is valuable to understand the benefits and costs other than electricity savings from your system, qualified in this article by Lena Hansen and Virginia Lacy. 

#3. Reducing energy consumption in (groups of) buildings

RMI saved 30% of energy consumption in the Empire State Building by replacing 6,154 windows onsite on the 5th floor. This  is one of RMI’s most celebrated stories, and a good example of the value from deep energy retrofits beyond cost savings. Our physical environment is a critical place to invest in: buildings use three-fourths of U.S. electricity. If America’s 120 million buildings were a country, it would rank third in absolute energy use, only eclipsed by the energy consumption of China and the entire United States.

The Retrofit Challenge, part of RMI’s buildings sector, aims to implement deep energy efficiency solutions across a large volume of buildings. To reduce the costs of energy modeling of each individual building, we define building archetypes:  groups of buildings with similar energy use. AT&T is our first client in the Retrofit Challenge.

#4. Helping China get off oil, coal and natural gas profitably by 2050

After Reinventing Fire was published in 2011 a collaboration with the Chinese NDRC was initiated to translate the quantitative analysis of Reinventing Fire for the Chinese context. In collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Labs and China’s Energy Research Institute, the implementation of the strategies and policies outlined in Reinventing Fire is one of our key priorities. Since China is now the world’s largest market for private cars and has the highest volume of electricity generated from coal, our work with the NDRC is a key leverage point in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

#5. Uniting U.S. and Chinese automakers to lightweight and electrify vehicles. 

Project Get Ready was a big RMI initiative to push the adoption of electric vehicles by helping local U.S. communities learn from best practices outside America and install charging stations. Combined with RMI’s earlier work on light weighting—which led to the Hypercar design, the design philosophy on which BMW’s i3 is based—RMI is organizing a forum to bring American and Chinese automakers together.

Which other leverage points can we solve?

The list above does not exhaust RMI’s work. We started an initiative for sustainable islands with the Carbon War Room on Richard Branson’s Necker Island last month; we are planning an initiative to work with manufacturers to create more energy-efficient products.

Which leverage points do you see to work with business to get to a world in which people feel productive, happy, and safe, powered without the need of burning historic bank accounts of fossil-fuel cash?

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The idea of Institutional Acupuncture is closely related to systems change. A beautiful example revealing the complexities of systems change in a natural ecosystem is the introduction of wolves in Yellowstone Park. Watch it—you will be amazed and delighted.

Achieve your dreams by studying failure

Even when you understand reality, things can go wrong.

Even when you understand reality, things can go wrong.

“Truth-more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality-is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes.”

Have you ever wondered with hindsight why a project failed, despite all your effort?

In “Principles”, Ray Dalio outlines how he thinks people can be more successful. The goal of his essay is to make a reader think (1) what she wants, (2) what is true and (3) what to do about this. As explained in the essay’s introduction, principles are ways of successfully dealing with the laws of nature or the laws of life. People who understand more principles well can take action more effectively.

This argument – by better understanding reality we can improve our performance – compels me. We let what we wish to be true stand in the way of what is true. In the last two months, I built a team for a summer program of a new higher education institute in Amsterdam, assuming that the institute would happily work with us. If the institute turns out not to want any external help, my misunderstanding of reality led to an unsuccessful project.

 “I believe that the way we make our dreams reality is by constantly engaging with reality in pursuit of our dreams and by using these encounters to learn more about reality itself and how to interact with it in order to get what we want.”

To improve my understanding of reality, I have used two methods. The first method aims to identify shortcomings and failures in past projects; the second aims to reduce failure in the future by writing down expected problems.

Method 1: learning from the past

Take time to reflect on your three most recent work experiences. Why did you start those projects, jobs or companies? In what sense were you successful? Where did you fail? Why did you fail?

I keep a “Learning Journal” on all projects I have started or joined. Below is one entry of my Learning Journal that reflects on Cool Schools. Read it to understand the questions I ask myself.

Learning Journal

How do you reflect on past failures or shortcomings in work? How do you keep “lessons” in sight, to avoid making a mistake multiple times? 

Method 2: anticipating the future

To reduce chances of future failure, anticipate your problems today. Ray Dalio suggests a 5-step process: write down your biggest goals; identify the problems that stand in the way of your goals; accurately diagnose the problem; design an action plan that gets you around the problem; execute.

Below are the first 3 steps for one of my dreams for the next year: to organize a leadership program for my dearest friends in the Rocky Mountains. I put it here not because the content is interesting, but so you have an idea of the first steps.

5 step process

What are your dreams? Do you have ways to keep in sight the potential deal-breakers? 

What do you think of these methods? Do you consider it a waste of time to think about problems ahead of time? Do you understand “reality” through intuition? Do you have ways of better understanding reality?

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Like Ray Dalio’s style? Want to learn more about the economy? See this 31-minute video.

How to make the most of SET?

Two days ago I had the pleasure to speak to 150 new students of the masters I started 3 years ago (Sustainable Energy Technologies in Delft). This post contains tips & tricks of former SET-students reflecting on their experience. Thanks to Bert van Dorp, Ewoud de Kok, Diego Acevedo, Manuel Vargas Evans and Gaurav Durasamy for their contributions. 

1. Ask yourself: who do you want to become? Do you want to invent a new photovoltaic panel or help your government build a wind turbine park? You have much freedom to choose. Create the experience that lines you up for success after you finish in Delft.

If you do not know who you want to become, ask yourself: Which possible scenarios do I see for myself? Many students wrote this down on their slips of paper. Test different scenarios by joining side-projects or doing research with a professor in your evening hours.

2. Explore courses offered outside SET. Delft has much to offer at different faculties. Are you interested in water desalination? Approach a professor at civil engineering. Do you want to learn about electric vehicles? Speak to researchers at 3ME (Mechanical, Materials and Marine engineering). Look at the curricula of the energy masters in Delft and all masters in Delft.

3. Work with professors who inspire you. Find the professors whose research fascinates you and who you admire as human beings. A good way to start is to print the Energy Initiative’s list of professors and look at all their personal research pages. Make appointments with those professors who you find interesting. Write a reflection after each meeting, and see which meetings make you excited for future collaboration.

4. Sign up for email lists. You want to be at the center of information flows. Start with The (Delft) Energy Club, MIT Energy Club and MIT Energy Initiative. Through these lists you will learn about events, interesting people, books and competitions to take part in. Also take a look at YES!Delft students. You want to set up an environment in which information flows to you.

5. Build friendships with students from different backgrounds. The easy path is to connect with people who speak your language and eat your food. Don’t limit yourself – you will miss out on learning the stories and insights from many of the cool people in this room!

Back Camera

6. Work on side projects. The best way to learn is by doing. Participate in the Solar Decathlon, the Nuon Solar team or one of the many projects The Energy Club offers. Or: start your own team. Diego Acevedo joined the BlueRise team during SET, now a steady source for Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) projects.

7. Look for internships that make you uncomfortable. Just like side-projects, internships are a great way to learn. You will understand what skills you need to build a solar panel or change the heating and cooling controls, in stead of theorizing about these skills in a classroom. Find companies that inspire you; go after them. Resist the temptation to do an internship within the TUDelft.

8. Go abroad. Travel to international energy conferences. Consider the ATHENS program, the Cleantech Forums; ARPA-e and the Renewable Energy World Conference. You can pull the student card: this often means free or cheap access. If that does not work, find a newspaper to write for (start with Delta or a newspaper from your country) and apply for free conference-tickets as press. A third option is to offer your help as a volunteer. If you

Do you want to study in a different country? Hunt for the opportunity! It will take dedication and effort to study abroad. Approach professors at different universities directly (attach your previous research papers) or ask professors in Delft whether they have connections at other universities.

9. For thesis: find a research group that works together closely. Big ideas do not form in a vacuum (this book tells the story of Bell Labs, one of the most innovative research centers of all times). Sitting in a small room for 6 months will unlikely yield novel technology ideas. In successful research groups, PhD’s, post-docs and master students have lunch together and share their findings on a weekly basis. Look for groups where it is normal to walk into the office of your colleagues every day to ask them questions. To learn whether the research group you are interested in works this way, sit in their office for a week!

10. Do you want to prototype a big idea? Ask the university for support. Do not hesitate to approach the dean and other faculty members for (financial) support: they want to help you, and typically do not know what’s going on inside the classrooms. Delft Energy Initiative supports student projects with funding to build a prototype.

11. Participate in challenges and competitions. This is the best way to make your side-project fly. Look at the Cleantech Challenge, the Cleantech Open and  the Sustainability Challenge.

12. Join a startup. YES!Delft has lots of startups. If you feel entrepreneurship is your thing, just go there and join one! The atmosphere is fantastic.

13. Build long-lasting relationships with fellow students, professors and partners. Being a student gives you the opportunity to build relationships with other students, with the people you work with on projects and with the people in your research group. Make sure the relationships are long-lasting: who knows what you will be doing when you graduate?

When you leave Delft – for work abroad or for good – do not hesitate to send updates to your friends from SET. Send an email once every 3 or 6 months with the questions you’ve thought about; the way your life has changed; and  ideas you would like to work on.

Final advice: be proactive. This is so important that we have to repeat it. SET is a broad program, flexible enough to suit your own specific needs. Do not feel comfortable with “just the coursework”. Shape your agenda in your own way. If you need advice, contact fellow students and alumni.

The universe conspires in your favour

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Forty miles south of Kansas city, on a sunny afternoon, half our Spokes team stops to refill our flasks with cold water at a small roadside restaurant. After she walks in, Claire explains to the man behind the counter that we are crossing the country to help teenagers start hands-on projects, because we believe that every child deserves to feel empowered to realize their ideas. Within minutes, free nacho’s and hamburgers are on the table (this is America…) and we are offered a place to stay for coming nights.

At such moments, I feel like a monk receiving a three-star Michelin-dinner after asking for alms.

Surprisingly, such generous offers have occurred regularly during our journey. No week passes by without a stranger reaching out to help us. How can this be explained? Is this mere coincidence?

I believe the support flows from a deep commitment to the cause we are fighting for. We put our heart into this project. People see us, recognize our commitment and a desire arises with them to contribute – to be part of our story. This speaks to the natural desire of people to do good. Better yet, I experience now the incredible power that you can unleash when you fight for something you care about. 

I am not the first to observe this. Emerson writes in the first pages of his essay on self-reliance:

“Every heart vibrates to that iron string”

Paulo Coelho puts this into words in the Alchemist:

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

And Seth Godin has created an entire body of work around helping people to overcome fear and do what they care about. As said in the Icarus Deception -“Fly closer to the sun.”

I commit to putting my soul into my work.

Firewood for warriors

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In full battle, the warrior feels strongest. When we fight the good fight – when we work to realize causes we deeply care about – we shine light, we radiate heat, we inspire people around us.

Projects you deeply care about are like logs of firewood for your personal campfire. Without firewood, the campfire dies. Without a cause, the warrior becomes an ordinary human.

When your fire flickers or is about to die, feed it a log. Pick up a cause worth fighting for. 

“Als het vuur gedoofd is, dan komen de wolven”

 

The upside of adversity in life

Last Wednesday at Unreasonable Institute’s final presentations, Roberto Carlos Rivera shared a deeply personal story. As a child, Roberto was involved in gang fights; he created hip-hop songs; and he had been kicked out of school – twice – because he stirred up emotions in his classmates. 

Now, years later, Roberto is nominated a Top Young Change Agent. Roberto was selected as an Unreasonable Fellow and leads The Good Life Organization. In his own words: “I went from a dope-dealer to a hope-dealer”.  

Listening to Roberto, a thought came to me: challenging moments in life are necessary opportunities to become a great person.

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Looking at close friends and distant heroes, every single person I see as a leader has overcome big challenges in their life. I have friends who recovered from life-threatening accidents or convinced hundreds of people to join a cause before officially being a teenager. Gandhi was able to develop satyagraha because of his inhumane experience in South Africa; Jay-Z developed incredible perseverance because of his tough youth in the Bronx. 

This idea – that life challenges are necessary to develop character – triggers two observations. First, shielding children from pain may not be the best way to raise happy, fulfilled human beings. Brene Brown echoes this in an On Being podcast (mins 31:30-35:00). According to Brene Brown, American parents can be overprotective, a missed opportunity for their children to build character. “Hope is a function of struggle”, Brene Brown says, “I see students who have never experienced real adversity. How that shows up is hopelessness”.

Second, when children with seemingly dark futures ahead of them can break out of destructive patterns there is great hope for them. The struggle for life has given them the opportunity to build real character. These kids have the rough material to become diamonds. 

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Have you experienced adversity in your youth? Which were the moments that define you as you are? Do you know great leaders who have not struggled with adversity? 

Why do solutions cluster around a handful of problem areas?

Education is a popular problem-area for start-up founders these days. I see friends build companies that assist you in learning a language; help you with your dyslexia or allow you to train for your final exams online. Is the problematic state of education today the explanation for the surge in ideas? I don’t think so. I think education is a popular area for start-ups now because types of solutions are becoming possible that can address the problems in education. It is not a bigger problem that leads to new ideas; it is a more appropriate set of solution building blocks.

I believe education is popular today because of the adjacent possibilities. A jump in computer penetration in classrooms; the possibility to stream videos from one brilliant teacher to every schoolgirl with access to internet; and advances in video games and visualization have enabled solutions for problems that existed for years or decennia.

To come up with brilliant solutions, you don’t dream up future scenarios out of thin air – you use building blocks that are (becoming) available.