The Power of Making Things

Greetings. On Sunday I had the pleasure of attending the Silver Spring “Mini-Maker Faire,” a brilliant event created by Kid Museum…a new museum in the Washington, D.C., area that is dedicated to “cultivating creativity, curiosity and compassion.” Three things that are near and dear to my heart and work. The faire offered proof that science, technology, engineering, and math can be fun and compelling for a new generation of young people who will, with the right encouragement, be vital to the future of scientific discovery and entrepreneurship. Kids who have an innate gift for imagining a world filled with possibilities and making super cool stuff. It turns out that “making stuff” that matters is a simple and very powerful way to think about engineering.

As part of the day, I had the privilege of facilitating a panel of creative kids (which is kind of a redundant phrase), public sector and nonprofit leaders, and entrepreneurs and innovators as they talked about the importance of coming together as a community to make things. And I was encouraged by the wealth of talent, energy, and insight that exists in our small corner of the world. In wrapping up our session I took a moment to share six ideas that can help all of us to unlock our real genius and thought they might be fun to share them with you…

1. Never forget that 99% of all new ideas are based on the ideas and work of others. In other words, we don’t have to have a totally original idea to make a difference. We simply need to combine what we know best with the wisdom of others.

2. Curiosity is a gift we were all born with, and we can rediscover it by changing our mindset and deciding to engage the world around us head-on.

3. Everyone matters. I can learn something important from everyone else on the planet.

4. Anything is possible. If I can imagine something I can, through hard work and openness, figure out how to make it happen.

5. Always carry a small notebook or journal with you as one simple way to capture your ideas, inspirations, and anything else that seems remarkable. And create a habit of writing, drawing, doodling, and imagining.

6. Each day we pass one hundred people, places, and things that could change our lives. But in our haste to get from Point A to Point B we rarely take the time to notice or connect with strangers. As a result, we limit our potential to build new relationships, learn new things, and make a greater difference in the things that matter most. Commit to connecting with a sense of curiosity and openness!


We win in business and in life when we rediscover the power of using our hands to make simple and important things.


The Future of Genius

Greetings.  Last night our family attended the annual "Awards Ceremony" for Montgomery Blair High School here in Silver Spring, Maryland.  The event was a wonderful tribute to students who have worked hard to excel in academics, athletics, the arts, and school and community service.  It was also a great chance to gauge our future and to sense the limitless potential of a new generation.  It's a generation that is very different than we were–in how they dress, what they watch and listen to, how they communicate, where they hang out, and what ideas and people they pay attention to.  But they seem particularly committed to making the world a better place by helping others who are less fortunate, restoring the environment, and protecting all of us through service in the armed forces.

They are also very different in the remarkable breadth of their diversity and their appreciation for, and comfort with, each other.  At Blair, the student body comes from every part of our community and just about every corner of the globe.  In fact, the school's students speak several dozen different languages in their homes and it was noted that several award recipients did not speak a word of English before they came to high school in America.

And as I watched them cross the stage and listened to their names being called for math awards, science awards, language and humanities awards, performing arts awards, writing awards, citizenship awards, ESOL awards, public service awards, Gates Foundation scholarships, National Merit awards, Navy and Marine Corps awards, the U.S. Presidential Scholars award, student-athlete awards, and more, I was struck by the remarkable beauty of the differences in their names.  And by the remarkable similarities of the smiles on their faces and the glows in eyes of their families, teachers, administrators, and friends.  Names that included:





Santos…Smith…Suryadinata…Williams…Zhang…and Zientarski

But mostly I was struck by the unique talents, perspectives, and dreams that each student brought to this school and will, hopefully, bring to the world we share as they head off to college, military service, "gap" years, or a first full-time job.  The same talents, perspectives, and dreams that we will need if we are ever to reach our collective potential.  Talents, perspectives, and dreams that can become even more remarkable when brought together in a tapestry of genius.

If our grandparents and parents created the great American melting pot, then this new generation is creating an even more diverse fusion of possibilities.  In one auditorium, in one city, on a night devoted to appreciating curiosity, hard work, determination, creativity, and genius.

Blair H S

We win in business and in life when we recognize the special talents of everyone around us.  And when we finally learn to see our differences as the most powerful gift we all share.