Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An old email and an Ex Girlfriend. Ha ha.

Ha ha ha. I just came across an old email conversation with an ex. Its very interesting going over an old part of your life. Remembering the things you did and said and thought.

Ha ha I made myself crazy over this girl and looking back it makes me laugh. Not because of who she was or because I think badly of her, but that its amazing to see the ridiculous stuff we say when we're totally infatuated with somebody.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Linchpin Meetup Successful! And a tidbit on Unschooling

Hey you guys!

Just had the 'official' 'unofficial' Linchpin meetup at SLC Roasting Co. As you may know, or not, Linchpin is a fantastic book written by Seth Godin.

Anyways, it was very exciting to meet with people who think similar things as I (and a lot of you) do. The great thing is that there was a very broad mix of people at the meeting. People who'd owned companies previously and retired, but now want to get back into the action; people who own successful companies looking to go to the next level; and people who are just starting their entrepreneurial/career journey.

Some great stories were told about people sneaking on to Hollywood sets to get jobs (which worked! Ha ha) and others about how to manage employees while keeping them excited about their jobs and performance.

It wasn't all business, of course. There was a lot of talk about education and the education revolution. Jeremy, one of the other Linchpins, talked about 'unschooling', a new learning model that borders on what we're implementing with Idea School.

Here's a random unschooling website I found, not sure if it's the group Jeremy was affiliated with. Basically he was working to develop a new learning model for children that seemed similar to home schooling but with a twist, students completely directed their own learning. "It's not a democracy," Jeremy said. "If four kids want to do something, 3 want to do another, and two want something completely different, then we do all of them."

The similarity to Idea School is that students direct their own work.

Anyways, it was fun. Maybe some of you should come to the next one? Ya, I thought you's say yes. Here's the group we'll be continuing with: Idea School's Neo Entrepreneurship Exchange. The group is geared toward entrepreneurship so if that isn't your thing, probably not going to be fun for you.

Ryan

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hey, it's my favorite stuff!

This is really the best way to know me:

-Seth Godin (Linchpin and Tribes)
-Tony Robbins
-The Four Hour Workweek (by Tim Ferris)
-The Secret (cheesy, yes, scientifically accurate, no, but still beneficial to think about, definitely)
-Three Cups of Tea (about Greg Mortensen, look him up)
-Making Ideas Happen
-The Art of Possibility
-Think Big and Kick Ass (Donnald Trump and Bill Zanker, two awesome dudes)
-Architecture
-Blake Mycoskie (founder of Tom's Shoes)
-Inc. Magazine
-Style and Design
-Learning

Thursday, November 18, 2010

True Place and Right Place

I was given this card recently by somebody very dear to me. It's old, but here's what it says:

"There is a vital difference between your True Place and your Right Place which everyone should understand.

Your True Place is the place where God [or whatever you believe: nature, destiny, etc] intends you to be. In that place you will have great happiness, good health and real prosperity, and you will be living an active and interesting life. That place is waiting for you somewhere, and the wonderful thing about it is that no one else on earth, but you, can fill your True Place adequately.

Your Right Place in life is the place you are actually in at the moment, whether it is pleasing to you or not.

You are always in your Right Place because you are always in the place that corresponds to your mentality at the moment; but this may not be your True Place. If your conditions are unwelcome, it means that there is something in your mentality that needs to be changed. Change it, and then the outer conditions will change too.

The sick man is in his Right Place in bed, because he has a sick mentality, but it is not his True Place, and his business is to change his mentality, heal his mind. When he is healed, bed will no longer be his Right Place. The man in the bread-line is suffering the natural consequences of having a poverty consciousness at the moment, but that is not his True Place.

You glorify God [or life] by working upon yourself until your Right Place and your True Place become one."

Monday, November 8, 2010

My latest pet peeve and how to fix it...

... began when I started reading non-fiction.

You see, the problem with the non-fiction genre (particularly self-help)- not that the genre is problematic, but it has one big problem- is that there are a lot of self-proclaimed 'guru's' out there that are itching to dole out utterly meaningless and repetitious advice. Here I'm going to give a couple brief examples:


Business: "Planning is very important if a business is to survive. By taking an objective look at your business you can identify areas of weakness and strength. You will realize needs that may have been overlooked, spot problems and nip them before they escalate, and establish plans to meet your business goals."

Depression: "Learning how to deal with depression is no easy task. There will be ups and downs and many people will feel like giving up along the way. You deserve to be happy and for that reason it is important to know exactly how to deal with your depression."

The first example makes me cringe. Do you gain any actual information from what you read there?? My guess is probably not. I know I didn't. The second example is a meaningless introduction to the idea of depression. News flash: if somebody is reading that page, it's likely that they already know what depression is! That's why they are there!

This self-aggrandizing babble must come from some desire for attention. That is my only conclusion.

My advice here is that finding good advice takes time, but never ever ever stop looking for it. The best advice on where to get advice comes from other people. I love sharing these inspirational sources with all of my friends and those close to me. You should check them out too:

-Seth Godin
-Hugh Macleod
-Anthony Robbins
-Paul Graham
-Blake Mycoskie
-Tony Hsieh
-The Zanders
-Donnald Trump
-and more to come.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

YOU need to give...

...and so do I.

A photographer by the name of Thomas Hawk is is extremely successful. He takes tens of thousands of pictures and distributes them under the Creative Commons license. They are free for anybody to use.

Is Thomas hurting for work? Not at all. But I'll let you be the judge: http://thomashawk.com/

If you want further convincing read this book: Linchpin

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Winning

I can't think of a creative story to exemplify this point, but I'm pretty sure that true winners don't view what they do as a competition.

Winning does not exist for them. The only "win" is constant, never-ending improvement.

They play in a league of their own.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A note on self worth and Values

I hit a point recently where I realized I've been selling myself short recently on my abilities.

I've been doing a Tony Robbins program over the past week and still have a little over a week left.

I've recognized the things I've let get me down in the past and my beliefs associated with why those things happen. Its incredible to see how out of whack your beliefs get when you let them run rampant for a couple decades.

For the first time, I'm in control of my life. I get up and exercise at 6AM because I know I can and that it makes me feel alive first thing in the morning. It then allows me to free up the rest of my morning for development, personal and business. I work hard because I know that the purpose of working isn't a vague line that somebody has fed me (like "to get ahead"), but something more specific: to occupy every moment of time with something that will decrease the time to launch Idea School. I work hard because working hard makes me valuable. It makes everything easier.

There was this incredible moment I had recently. There was a situation with a friend that I was pretty concerned about. Essentially, we had grown very distant. This came fairly unexpectedly and I couldn't really understand what had happened. I found myself trying to find ways to 'fix' it.

A strange epiphany happened. I realized that I can't 'fix' it. I know what you're saying: "This is the worst story ever, what do you mean you couldn't fix it?" I couldn't control the situation, but I could control what I did and how I acted toward it. I just decided that whatever was going on didn't have anything to do with me personally. I would just continue to be supportive and be myself. My new self that is. But still myself. I decided I'd give it some time and see how things turned out.

I knew that I had a lot of self worth so if I gave it time and just kept being a good guy that things would work out. And if they didn't, it would just be something I couldn't control and I still maintained my integrity.

Sometimes, you drive yourself crazy trying to think of how you can fix things in relationships, but there is one true thing you can always abide that will keep you on track long term. Your values. What values do you hold yourself to that will shape you as a person?

Values are supremely important.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Creative Fundraising Ideas (for madmen only)

Tired of trying to come up with that great fundraising idea? After rolling around the internet for about an hour I became frustrated with the lack of ideas out there. My question is: why search for other people's ideas in the first place? It's time to get creative.

First, I'll tell you some of my ideas I've thought up, then I'll tell you how you can come up with some custom fundraising ideas of your own.

  • The Restaurant Idea
    • Partner with a local fine dining restaurant, in my case, the Metropolitan, who will supply the location and the food for the fundraiser. 
    • You, the organizer, identify a contact source. This is somebody who has the contact information for a lot of people. This should be an organization that is bigger than you, more influential than you, and is aligned with your values, but may also be interested in fundraising. Form an alliance, which is valuable in and of itself.
    • Utilize the resources of your contact source ally. Use them to get the word out.
    • Book attendees at a price that far exceeds the cost of the restaurant, otherwise you will not raise any funds for your cause. 
    • Create a fun and exciting night. Get creative! Have fun! Have some live music. You can hire a local band for less than $200, which will be more than worth it if you raise several thousand or more.
    • Don't skimp on materials. If you need to design a website for the event, do it with posh and pizazz. Flyers? No way. Go full on with invitations. If you want to save money, go minimal. Minimalism looks expensive, but really isn't.
    • Everything should be prepaid and non-refundable, after all, it's a donation. There are no refunds for donations. People understand this. 
  • T Shirt Idea
    • Design bad-ass tees and sell them around town and online. 
    • Pick a theme. Ideally the theme should be centered around your fundraising cause, but please do not put your logo or name on them! This is the worst mistake. Nobody want's to buy your ill-designed swag.
    • Design a cool graphic. Get creative and clever. Need inspiration? Check these out:

    The first critical part of doing some fundraising is identifying a cause. So important! If you're raising money for your own pockets get the hell away from my blog and go chop your own head off! Ass. So what is your cause? Are you raising money for homeless pets? A school? Your business? An art project? Music? Whatever it is, make it big! The bigger and more altruistic your cause the more people will be willing to participate in your fundraiser. (Something to keep in mind: If you're raising money for a business, be sure to try to tie it to something social, needs-based, or really cool. Otherwise you won't have to chop your own head off, somebody will do it for you.)

    The second critical part is to identify somebody to foot the bill. You can foot the bill initially if you want, but this is less than ideal. You want a fundraiser that is free to you but makes money for your cause. Here is where your fundraiser partner comes in.

    What is a fundraiser partner? It is the person you team up with that also benefits from the fundraiser. If it's a restaurant, the restaurant needs to make a profit, unless they are donating their services. However, you'll have more of a chance of getting them to do the fundraiser in the first place if you make it beneficial for all parties.

    The last part is to make it fun, energetic, and creative, but to always remember your audience. Think about what you are bringing to the table for the people giving you money. If you're giving them a sweet sweet T shirt, they will give you money, but the T shirt has to be awesome. If you're doing a restaurant event, the night has to be fantastic and fun and very social.

    Ryan

    Needs-based and Social Business

    Coming Soon!

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Good Quote

    “Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.” Winston Churchill

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    NY Times article. Colleges are "Failure Factories"

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/business/economy/09leonhardt.html

    An excerpt:

    ...Yes, inadequate precollege education is a problem. But high schools still produce many students who have the skills to complete college and yet fail to do so. Turning them into college graduates should be a lot less difficult than fixing all of American education.
    “We could be doing a lot better with college completion just by working on our colleges,” as Robert Shireman, an Education Department official who has read an early version of the book, says....
    - David Leonhardt, New York Times

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    Entrepreneurs are Puzzle Solvers

    So what is an entrepreneur?

    A puzzle solver.

    Any entrepreneur worth respecting utilizes vision as his greatest resource. The job of an entrepreneur is to put together the pieces, in any order, to create his vision. That's it, simply put. There's a large range of flexibility with puzzles and the same goes for visions of businesses or movements.

    The process of a puzzle is exploratory by nature. You try, you do something wrong, you try again, and eventually you complete the puzzle. The pieces may be set, but you don't know what they look like until you find them. You need X, Y, and Z pieces, but you only need them eventually.

    The same principle applies to entrepreneurship. Do you have a vision for something? Take one step. Then take another. Keep going like that and you'll be far ahead of the pack.

    Now look at the picture on the box and pick up a piece.

    New Idea School Blog

    The Idea School blog has been set up and you can find it here. The progress of the school will be posted there and this blog will remain focused on education, learning, and entrepreneurship in general.

    Please stop by the Idea School blog and follow it. We'd love your support and feedback on the school's concepts and actions. Thank you!

    Saturday, July 24, 2010

    Opinion Social (food provided)

    Saturday, July 31st @ 10:00 AM.

    RSVP now to attend. Foot and beverages will be provided. The menu is soda and pizza! :D We're capping this one at twelve people and we have several slots full already.
    Address of the event: 2260 Foothill Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84109

    To get there from the North:
    Take I-15 South to I-80 East
    Follow I-80 East until you reach Parley's Way Exit (just before entering Immigration Canyon)
    After taking the exit, stay in the left lane which takes you onto Foothill Drive
    Turn left at the first traffic light (Stringham Ave.)
    Park anywhere that is uncovered, and walk to the Leasing Office (as indicated by the many signs)
    We are located upstairs, above the leasing office.
    Call Rob at 801-589-2157 if you have trouble finding it.


    To get there from the South:
    Take I-15 North to I-215 East
    Follow I-215 east, and it will turn toward the north
    Continue on I-215 until you find Parley's Way exit (near the mouth of Immigration Canyon)
    Take Parley's Way exit, and stay in the left lane which turns into Foothill Drive
    Turn left at the first traffic light (Stringham Ave.)
    Park anywhere that is uncovered, and walk to the Leasing Office (as indicated by the many signs)
    We are located upstairs, above the leasing office.
    Call Rob at 801-589-2157 if you have trouble finding it.

    Friday, July 23, 2010

    Focus Group Result

    We had a very productive meeting today and went over many aspects of the school!

    I was so inspired for the rest of the day. It felt great! After the meeting, I spoke with my mentor, John, and he's going to introduce me to a gentleman who teaches entrepreneurship at the University of Utah so that I can ask him questions and if he'd like to be involved in any way. I'll also see if its possible for me to sit in on one or two of his classes and observe his method. Based on his background, and the description I received of his class, I think he'll be at least somewhat interested in participating with Idea School.

    Also, news. We will be moving our efforts for the school to another web address that will be just for the Idea School, while this site will focus mostly on future projects and great ideas.

    As a little tidbit for all you you, check out this school to see if it peaks your interest. George Wythe University and Idea School have some similar agendas, though not all the same. We also have some similar methods, though not all the same. I really enjoyed their site and it gave me some great insights.

    Some of the differences for Idea School are:
    • Strong focus on business and starting your idea implementation/exploration from the get-go
    • Very little focus on writing for writing's sake
    • A lot of community involvement
    • Less class/"homework" time. (when I say homework, I mean traditional homework (see next post, coming soon))
    • Less 'rigorous' application process
    Some things I love about what I've read about George Wythe:
    • Student-centered curriculum
    • small class sizes
    • Colloquiums (essentially discussion formatted classes)
    • Critical Thinking as a primary subject matter
    • Simulations (though I don't think you can replace real world experience, they are trying to get close and I commend them for that.)
    You can check out more at gw.edu.

    Have a good night ya'll.

    Ryan

    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    First Focus Group for Idea School

    Address of the event: 2260 Foothill Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84109

    To get there from the North:
    Take I-15 South to I-80 East
    Follow I-80 East until you reach Parley's Way Exit (just before entering Immigration Canyon)
    After taking the exit, stay in the left lane which takes you onto Foothill Drive
    Turn left at the first traffic light (Stringham Ave.)
    Park anywhere that is uncovered, and walk to the Leasing Office (as indicated by the many signs)
    We are located upstairs, above the leasing office.
    Call Rob at 801-589-2157 if you have trouble finding it.


    To get there from the South:
    Take I-15 North to I-215 East
    Follow I-215 east, and it will turn toward the north
    Continue on I-215 until you find Parley's Way exit (near the mouth of Immigration Canyon)
    Take Parley's Way exit, and stay in the left lane which turns into Foothill Drive
    Turn left at the first traffic light (Stringham Ave.)
    Park anywhere that is uncovered, and walk to the Leasing Office (as indicated by the many signs)
    We are located upstairs, above the leasing office.
    Call Rob at 801-589-2157 if you have trouble finding it.

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    Why? How? What?

    Why:
    • Students enjoy learning when it is fun and inspiring. 
    • Students enjoy designing their own path through school. 
    • Our world needs new, inspiring, big ideas because we have new, inspiring and big problems that need to be solved.
    How:
    • Through student centered curriculum and project based learning, I want to create an environment that allows inspired learning, that creates better businesses, that believes that anything is possible. Open minded teachers, open minded students. Flexible tuition payments. Learning for learning, not for GPA.
    What:
    • Idea School


    Support us.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Crowdfunding

    I'm starting a crowdfunding project soon, where you can contribute to building the school. I'll toss out rewards based on what you donate! Exciting stuff! Very cool rewards coming your way!

    I'll update with details in a few days.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Don't write a business plan... almost...

    I read this fascinating article by Jason Cohen.

    In it, he explains why writing a business plan is best case scenario if your intention is wasting time. Mostly, he proposes, sticking to your plan is about as likely as winning the lottery. "At the beginning you don't know anything about what your business will look like. Your product will evolve to fit the market." writes Jeff.

    I tend to wholeheartedly agree with the following exceptions:

    • There are people who need to write things down. Not everybody, but some people do. Sucks for those people, but there are a lot out there that can only organize their thoughts in a long, drawn-out description. I would say that if this is how you think, you are at a severe disadvantage in business. You have to be able to think on your feet and juggle a lot of information in your head.
    • Writing some things down is necessary. It's good to have basic concepts written down so that others can read them, however this is far from what most business plans would look like. A short two-pager is sufficient for many investors. Spend the rest of your time working on your concept, networking, and most of all, believing in yourself.
    I strongly recommend that you read Jason's blog. It is a fantastic resource for the entrepreneurial mind.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    The school we are building...

    The school we are building is not:

    • A business incubator
    • A traditional higher education institution
    • A mentorship program
    It is, however:

    • A community that brings together students with great ideas, aspirations, and empathy for the purpose of creating sustainable platforms (business systems) that benefit the community and the world.
    • It provides hands-on education, new theory, practical counseling, and communal support to create innovative gadgets, services, and movements.
    • It encourages all things lateral, even bypassing itself. There is always a workaround. There is always a way.
    • It gives as much as it can. All proceeds go to growth, to help the school reach more students.

    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    We are destroying barriers to entry..

    If anything, the open source model has shown us that it works far better than restricted source.

    Take a look at the Wikipedia model and Linux. More problems are fixed faster and for free! Let's give students access to the source of their education and see what they do with it. Let them "develop" their own schooling. Let's help them get to where they need to go by giving them tools and guidance that ease the path.

    The era of open source learning is upon us. There are no more gatekeepers and no more hoops. It's time to adjust or die.

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Barbecue Meeting.

    Last night my team and I had a barbecue at my house in Millcreek.

    I invited a bunch of friends who aren't involved in the project as well. This essentially served two purposes, one which I planned, and the other I didn't.
    • First (planned): This would be the first time any of my staff members had met each other. It needed to feel fun and comfortable. This is fun and, while we're dead serious about accomplishing our goals, we don't need to act serious all the time. We want to always have the ability to kick back at the end of a hard day, relax, and have a good time. That's what life is all about.
    • Second: My friends and family, some of which were the biggest skeptics, were able to identify a little better with what's going on and, in some sense, feel involved in it. This ought to quiet their destructive criticisms for a while.
    I think a lesson I learned from this is:

    • Get the non-believers involved.

    Here is what we discussed during the meeting portion of the barbecue:

    1. Recruiting students and marketing ideas.
      1. If you see people running around in banana suits downtown, don't worry, bananas have not taken over the world. It's just us.
      2. Mostly, we believe so strongly in our mission that we know it will infect others. We are doing something because it matters and that's the best job in the world.
    2. Designing in-class curriculum.
      1. While students will design their own path, we need to have a solid base of stuff to teach them.
      2. The subjects we teach need to be based on real examples, from real business owners/social innovators.
    3. Financing
      1. Still a lot to do in this area.
        1. I have an optimistic idea that if we build it they (investors) will come, but it would be a lot easier with money.
        2. Not sure if I want to deprive myself of bootstrapping though. I sort of want to see what we can do with next to nothing, especially since our students will have next to nothing when it's their turn.

    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    A critique of a job posting...

    I feel compelled to point out one major flaw with this post:

    Immediate opening for a long-term, full time Administrative Assistant.

    The successful candidate will possess:

    • Mandatory Website experience --editing and creating
    • Compliance Regulation
    • Accounting Skills Strongly Recommended
    • Strong Excel, Outlook and Word skills
    • Strong attention to detail and organization
    • Strong multi-tasking skills
    • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
    • Ability to work in a fast paced environment and adapt to change

    Schedule: 9 AM to 5:30 PM
    Compensation: $11
    No Benefits Available

    Please fax resume to: 1-866-953-4157
    • Ability to work in a fast paced environment

    Schedule: 9 AM to 5:30 PM

    Compensation: $11
    No Benefits available

    Please fax or resume to: 1-866-953-4157 



    Flaw:
    • Fax? I find it astonishing that people still use this technology.

    Sunday, June 6, 2010

    Idea School Premises

    Our school, yet to have an official name (we're currently running with Idea School), is operating on several premises:

    • Students most easily learn what engages and inspires them (interest based)
    • Students need more real-world experience while attending school.
    • Students will be motivated to accomplish something great and world/community changing if they are provided a supportive, yet challenging environment.

    Based upon these things, we believe we can change the world. We are currently hiring teachers and are recruiting students. We have little money, no building, and a lot of work to do. However, we have a vision and a mission: "To greatly improve higher education by providing our students with a supportive community of active learners and teachers, who's aim is to create value while solving real-world problems. We do work that matters."

    Ryan

    Saturday, June 5, 2010

    Idea School Method

    The school is student centered and project focused.

    Students will come up with projects or business ideas that they want to enact. We initially require them to put it down on paper so that we can work with them on the idea, though teachers are discouraged from criticizing the idea itself. We want to see what happens when we turn our students loose.

    After the student puts down the idea they meet with their "home teacher" who is much akin to a guidance counselor, though much more. The student and the "home teacher" discuss which classes would be best for the student to take with the student making the final decision. Classes could be:
    • Marketing
    • Human Resources
    • Accounting
    • Business Theory
     OR
    • Legal Entities
    • Fund Raising
    • Networking
    • The Ethics of Outsourcing
    • Singing
    • Painting with Acrylics
    We actually want to stray from teaching subject matter technically, but instead provide a learning environment for a particular subject.

    The classes are meant to supplement the student's knowledge so that they can test the skills and information necessary to complete their project, not just learn about them. The project could be a business that the student wants to found, it could be a non-profit/community organization, or it could be a way to fund and expand the influence of their art or music.

    This is an exploratory school as well. Students are encouraged to test particular paths they are interested in, which is why classes are to be 1-2 months long (as opposed to 5 months) and why classes will be between $80 and $300 instead of $500 to $5,000.
    When the student "graduates", they do not receive a certificate of any kind (this may change when we begin to do professional/vocational training, 1-2 years out) Instead, the student accomplished something real! Either their business is off the ground and they are now obtaining funding (VC, Angel, bootstrapping, etc.), or they have a sustainable platform for their art or music projects via fund raising and networking.

    Friday, June 4, 2010

    UWC very interesting

    UWC

    UWC's mission: UWC makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Hiring teachers!

    If you or anybody you know is interested here's the ad:

    Our organization is looking for open-minded teachers to work with us while we develop a new education model. We are targeting collegiate students:

    -College Dropouts
    -New entrants
    -Business Students
    -Art Students

    Teachers should possess the following qualities:

    -Specific area of expertise (business, art, finance, etc.)
    -Teaching experience or management experience
    -Effective Communication
    -No degree required

    Compensation:
    -Varies
    -$20-50 per day
    -2-4 hours per day
    -1-4 days per week

    In order to start the interview process we will need you to email a resume and cover letter to me at rr.chatterton@gmail.com telling us about yourself. Student-teachers are welcome to apply. You will be a key member of our organization going forward. We are looking to hire 3 teachers initially. If you are currently a teacher, this is fine. We will be delivering classes after hours in the afternoon and evening as well. This will be a very different teaching position compared to what many of you are used to and we hope you are up for the challenge. 

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    A call to action....

    Our students need expert help to go... well, somewhere. They don't know exactly where they are going, and neither do we. Yet we keep asking them...

    What are you going into?
    What are you studying?
    What do you want to be?

    We need to stop. This is an uncomfortable question for most students, probably because they have no clue as to what they want to do with their lives.

    I propose that students are explorers. They encounter new territory and search around for meaning. Once meaning is found, they set off to another place.

    Students need to explore. They need to learn so that they can explore some more. Our students are charting new territory. There is no map to where they need to go. There never will be. So we need not teach them them how to better read maps, but how to better make maps, and navigate without them.

    Exploration does not consist of taking a known path to a known location! On the contrary, it requires us to open our eyes, test the waters, and proceed boldly in the face of uncertainty. If we misstep, then we correct course and move along.

    Our organization is engaging students here locally and helping them formulate and implement their ideas. We have to. It's the future.
     
    There is no model for this movement. How could there be? We're still exploring and still creating it. I hope you create something similar in your community, or hell, copy it exactly (I'll post regular updates). We need it. The world depends on it. Go. Do. Now.

    Watch this.

    Saturday, May 29, 2010

    Our Manifesto

    We're bored.

    Let's be honest here. We're just bored. The way school works right now is boring.

    Our friends tell us, "School isn't supposed to be fun. It's not meant to entertain you." They misunderstand us though. We're not saying that school should be like a video game (though maybe it should)we're saying that school shouldn't be as boring as it is now.

    There is a difference.

    We believe that school can be better. We want to learn in an environment that puts us in the real world tackling challenging problems that we care about. We do not want to sit in a classroom learning (or not learning, depending on how tired we are) about something that we do not care about. Why would we? We also understand the counter-argument to this. That maybe it doesn't matter what we care about, because society needs us to learn the things it teaches us, otherwise we won't know how to do things.

    Wrong, dead wrong. We actually know that we will learn just as easily while being engaged in something that inspires us and changes our community. We want to change the world, and do homework that makes a difference.

    We know that in order to engage our youth, we need to give them something to do that matters. It is no longer sufficient to tell us to tough it out. The world is changing, and we no longer accept your methods.

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    Day 1: First find, University Venture Fund

    The Eccles School of Business has a special program called University Venture Fund. UVF is a student-run private equity fund that began in 2004 and raised $18 million from investors who are limited partners, meaning they depend on the work of the students to select investments that deliver a fair return on their money.

    “When I sent out my resume consulting companies told me they were cutting back significantly on new hires, so I knew good grades alone would not get me the job I wanted, I needed work experience too… The experience just gives you a ton of confidence,” said University of Utah honors student Alexandra Weiss. “As a student, you can’t get that direct business education anywhere else.”

    Only a handful of students belong to this organization and it seems to focus mostly on teaching students how to pick start-ups to invest in.

    This is interesting to me. It shows that there is a desire to be a part of and to implement innovative programs where students are the performers and there are real stakes, not just theory in the classroom. This program seems small though, at least as far as student participants. However, they do claim to have been approached by a couple hundred student entrepreneurs across the United States. Which is not surprising considering that they can relate to each other on a student-student level.

    Check it out here.

    Ryan

    The Quest...

    Today, I'm starting a quest to discover what exactly is offered by the MBA program at the University of Utah. I will log my discoveries here and publish them as I go. Let's see what we find.

    Ryan

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    The US K-12 and College Problem Part 3



    Slides by Whitney Tilson

    The US K-12 and College Problem Part 2




    Slides by Whitney Tilson

    The US K-12 and College Problem Part 1




    Slides by Whitney Tilson

    Step One: Identify Problems

    In our current education system there are many areas for improvement. Listed below are those which I have identified as being the most important:
    • Time: School takes up a lot of time. It can take up to ten years of somebody’s life to finish the schooling they need to start a specific career. Why does it take so long? Should it really take as long as ten years to input that information into our brain? Are we learning things that we will just forget anyway?
    • Money: School costs a lot of money in most cases. Is what we’re spending really worth what we’re getting, especially when students are increasingly borrowing for school tuition and other expenses? Is there a way to make learning less expensive? Is there a way to make learning free?
    • Purpose: The purpose of a university is generally agreed upon. It is to prepare you for your career from which you will derive a standard of living. People go to school to increase their standard of living. The question then becomes: is there a faster, less expensive, more fun way to increase your standard of living? Is there a more effective method? We go to school to become experts, to gain credibility. The degree you receive from a college is your credibility slip. It says to people, “Look at what I’m capable of!” But what are you capable of? Does a degree in Political Science tell me that you’re qualified to run my political campaign? Most people would, of course, say no. We would all typically look to a person’s specific experience in running or working on political campaigns to make such a distinction. So, therefore, the four year degree in poly-sci has lost a proportion of its value. Then what is the value of a degree? Is there a better return on your investment working in a chosen field for four years, gaining specific experience?
    • Platform: School is a platform for knowledge. It is a place that allows us to learn in a structured environment where otherwise it is likely that we would drown in the vast amounts of knowledge that surround us. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of clutter out there. How do we know what types of information we need to know to improve our standings in life? How do we know what we need to learn to advance in our career? Let’s assume we are a low-level sales employee working for a manufacturing firm. We’ve made sales calls for years trying to get people to carry our products. We’ve made a modest commission from all of our sales. Now, we’re hungry for more. We know we’ll never get promoted unless we get better at certain skills like management and leadership. We need training. But how do we know what to learn in order to become a leader or a manager? This is where we insert the platform for improvement. Traditionally this role has been held by college, though in some cases this may not be true. We decide to go to school for business administration, specializing in anything that has to do with management. Four years later we get our promotion to a mid-level manager position. What would happen if we replaced that time with a different platform for improvement. Maybe instead of attending a traditional college, we decide to read a couple books on leadership and even catch up on some of the latest trends in manufacturing sales. We take the initiative and start implementing these in our daily tasks, helping our coworkers with problems, becoming a mentor to our peers, and helping others succeed. We keep a log of our activities and in a few months we report them to our boss and our boss’s boss. Our boss’s boss receives the cc of our logs and decides to have us promoted because he can use somebody with our foresight and drive in a leadership position. This, we’ll say, took a full year. We can think of countless other platforms that may be better than a traditional four-year degree.
      • The issues with self-learning are great, though. It takes a lot of discipline and drive to teach ourselves something and have the guts to apply it. A social setting is more beneficial, especially for those striving to be entrepreneurs. We want to bounce our ideas off people. We want feedback and we want to meet people who think a little like us, and also those who challenge our assumptions. Thus, it would be too simple-minded a solution to tell everybody to teach themselves what they want to learn. Not to mention, there would be no real system for checking if what you were learning were actually going to be beneficial. Some people need an external source of direction. Some people need a way to measure their progress. Having experts give you a general direction and a few pointers can save a lot of headache and frustration.
      • Therefore a social setting would be more ideal. A personal setting where students can learn from and teach each other. Perhaps an expert can be present, but what merit is there in having one person teach a whole class? That is a top down approach. What if we built knowledge from a foundation of students who wanted to learn and apply their knowledge in the real world? What if we had a brick and mortar building where we could meet and exchange ideas and explore ways to make them? Then, once the ideas were talked about and expounded upon, we could try them in the real world. Perhaps the process could take only a week from idea formation to idea trial.
      • What if the platform for learning were driven by ideas and questions instead of a set of curricula?

    Still here

    I'm still around. No worries!

    Right now I'm doing research so new blogs will be coming soon!

    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    The hard things in life are never easy...

    So it turns out that doing the right thing is much harder than it sounds, which maybe is why its so easy to avoid doing.

    I had to make a tough decision the other day because logically it seemed the better thing to do. For once, I actually took the advice of somebody else! (something I'm working on trying more) Though, the problem is that it's not really what I want; not at all. I suppose I'm trying to have faith that the advice of others is something to be trusted when you don't know what to do yourself.

    The only problem is that every hour that goes by, give or take a few where I'm feeling particularly excited about something I'm doing, feels like I'm needlessly and mindlessly beating myself up with a crowbar! Why should something, which everybody tells me is right, feel so fucking awful?

    Saturday, January 9, 2010

    Project Avoidance

    The real reason I'm writing today is because I have a large canvas next to me that is unfinished, but lack the actual free time to get into it. Day jobs..... go figure.

    Our new school should be about engaging every student primarily. Each student should have an equal opportunity to learn, which means first learning what they want to learn. Students should have an option to customize a curriculum to themselves, while still achieving standards of learning in a given field. It's obvious that in fields such as medicine and law there are a lot of classes that perhaps a student might not want to take, but is still pertinent to their field. What I aim to get rid of are the classes that are considered 'general studies' and by definition have nothing to do with what a student plans to specialize in. Another 'do-away' would be classes that may be pertinent to your overall field, but not to your specialty. Hence, maybe there is no reason for a patent lawyer to take classes in criminal law. I'm not positive, but it seems slightly redundant, right?

    Secondly, students should be able to customize their workload to learn in a way that is most effective to them, not to a general body of students. If you're a quick learner, but have a hard time with homework, and excel at tests, then why ought you do homework if the purpose of the homework in the first place is to give you practice for the test. Maybe a student doesn't learn well by reading. If the student can find the information online in video lecture format, all the more power to him/her. Also, if a student can read the book, never attend class, and pass, who cares?

    My main case here is that there is a divide between what schools teach and what students want to learn. There is a divide between how schools teach and how students learn. Initially I thought it was a small minority, including myself, that felt stifled by the Higher Education system, but as I ask more people I realize that many students feel the way I do. I guess they have better coping skills... :S

    Our school focuses on customizing each student's learning experience to themselves through multiple mediums in an engaging and social environment, where each student is responsible for his/her own education and is personally compelled to work side by side with their peers from all walks of life.

    Friday, January 8, 2010

    Why we want to teach...

    We've all been through a lot. Some have been through more than others, but what's important is that we all have different experiences, and none of us has the same lessons to learn from life. That's just the way it is.

    Yet, constantly, we are trying to teach others what we've learned. Why? Why don't people take our advice? Why can't others understand all we've been through and avoid the same pain? After all, we are telling them how it is! We've been there!

    My answer to this is simple, its because we don't want to.

    We, as humans, want to learn in a way that is engaging and fulfilling to us, which may not necessarily be the way our peers have learned. We want to experience life, not be told about it. As I look back, I remember that my favorite teachers were always those that engaged me and wanted to know what I thought. They were also typically the teachers that most of the students enjoyed. These educators understood the power of experience. Experience, it is said, is the great teacher of people. The school system is built with the idea that we will enter an environment that will allow us to learn, but what happens if the classroom does not give a student the correct learning experience? What happens when the experience is counter-productive to students' learning?

    The system falls apart, students leave, students fail. Not that it was actually the student that failed, but because the school failed. It failed to give the student the proper experience he/she needed to learn.

    Now, the bigger problem?

    Only the student knows what experience will lead to proper learning for him/her. Only the student knows how best to educate him/herself.

    Now, the biggest problem?

    The school is to structured. It has too many rigid edges. It's too stiff.

    The solution?

    A school that is malleable. A school that can bend but not break. A school where the object is to create experiences catered to students, not to some, but to all.

    Soon there will be art...

    The new piece I'm working on started of as a shitstorm... quite literally. Ha ha. I was trying a format that I was uncomfortable with, believing it would just come from me, as if I would already know how to do it. The format would have been more realistic. I wanted the painting to be in the form of flowing silk cloth. Different sections would be different colors. At this moment I am reminded of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Fuck me....

    I soon realized that I have no idea how to paint realism, so the painting turned purely abstract, mostly to save what ego I had left in the project, but also because this is a $100 canvas and simply can't afford to waste it *concerned faux-smile*. At the point where I accepted that I wasn't going to pull a semi-realist painting out of my ass the project took a turn. A near 180 degrees in fact.

    I started making obscure, small brush dabs at certain locales on the canvas, on top of splotches of color that I'd previously painted. They reminded me of people off in the distance, all grouped together, but I'm not sure why. There is a sense of defiance and maybe a hint of sadness.

    After that, I washed my brushes, thinking I was done.

    Why?

    So I picked up my brushes and my favorite color to paint, which is red and began creating filled red boxes and rectangles in random places and sizes through the center-right of the painting. This fulfilled my need of minimalism on top of my previous failure. It gave me a sense of returning home. Though not finished, I'm thinking of dubbing the painting: "Your red boxes can't make us leave, we were here first!"


    Thankfully home,
    Ryan

    Saturday, January 2, 2010















    Basically finished. Just needs some touchups. Two interlocking circles that are different in many ways, yet still cling together. Maybe just because it feels right. To the circles, thats enough.