Curious Minds: Innovation | Inspiration | Improvem

Curious Minds: Innovation | Inspiration | Improvem

United States

Gayle Allen interviews innovators who are rethinking life and work in the modern age.


CM 074: Lisa Kay Solomon On Designing Strategic Conversations  

Leaders face an onslaught of new challenges that demand increasingly innovative solutions. Yet their approaches to finding them often get stuck in either blue-sky brainstorming or bottom-line decision making. Instead, leaders need a path that blends these two approaches — a middle road that engages not only the minds of their teams, but also their…

CM 073: Joi Ito on Navigating Our Faster Future  

How can we stay on top of changes that are not only getting faster, but more complex? We need strategies to take advantage of breakthroughs in fields as diverse as data mining, artificial intelligence and machine learning, since they are changing the ways we work, research, and live. To navigate this change, Joi Ito, Director…

CM 072: Bill Taylor on Innovation in Everyday Organizations  

Can extraordinary innovation happen in ordinary organizations? Yes, if you know how. In his latest book, Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways, Bill Taylor shines a spotlight on innovation in organizations such as banks, fast-food joints, and nonprofits. And he shares how they do it. Co-founder of Fast Company and bestselling…

CM 071: Ibram Kendi on Rethinking Racist Ideas in America  

Innovators often invent the future, and some do so by rethinking the past. For example, innovative historical researchers not only help us understand what happened yesterday, they improve how we respond to those issues today. Ibram Kendi is one of those researchers. In his book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, he…

CM 070: Francesca Gino on the Benefits of Nonconformity at Work  

Employee engagement is at an all-time low, but why? Francesca Gino, an expert on employee engagement and productivity, advises that if we do only one thing to fix it, we should encourage our employees to stop conforming and be themselves. When she and members of her research team introduced small interventions that encouraged people to…

CM 069: Lipson and Kurman on Our Driverless Future  

Self-driving cars are just around the corner. Are you ready? With the advent of machine learning and related tech, autonomous cars are more technologically mature than most of us think. Yet old-school policies and regulations are lagging behind, making it difficult for large scale adoption to take place. Essentially, driverless tech has become a people,…

CM 068: Michelle Segar on Exercise for Life  

If you struggle with exercise, Michelle Segar has a secret for you: Stop blaming yourself! Blame the system! After years of studying the science of motivation, Michelle Segar, Ph.D., Director of SHARP — the Sport, Health, and Activity research and policy center at the University of Michigan — has created a framework for rethinking exercise…

CM 067: Mick Ebeling on Achieving the Impossible  

Have you ever felt powerless to improve the lives of those less fortunate than you? Mick Ebeling believes that the key to helping many is to start by helping just one. He shares details and examples of this in his book, Not Impossible, The Art and Joy of Doing What Couldn’t be Done. Mick explains…

CM 066: Cathy O’Neil on the Human Cost of Big Data  

Algorithms make millions of decisions about us every day. For example, they determine our insurance premiums, whether we get a mortgage, and how we perform on the job. Yet, what is more alarming is that data scientists also write the code that fires good teachers, drives up the cost of college degrees and lets criminals…

CM 065: Tim Wu on Reclaiming Our Attention  

What is the hidden impact of constant demands on our attention? How does it affect how we think, how we act, and how we live? We have clickbait on our mobile devices and computer screens, ads on buses, and commercials on radio and TV. But as Tim Wu, author and Professor at Columbia University Law…

CM 064: Catherine Turco on Leadership in a Digital Age  

Is it possible to lead with full transparency? Can openness be the cornerstone of a large, fast-growing tech organization? These are just some of the questions that Catherine Turco answered when she spent 10 months observing all aspects of a fast-growing, high-tech company determined to build a new form of management. The result was something…

CM 063: Janice Kaplan on the Power of Gratitude  

Gratitude has a dramatic impact on well-being and success, yet many of us are not aware of this research. In this groundbreaking book, The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life, Janice Kaplan explains the science behind the power of gratitude. The author of twelve books, including The…

CM 062: John Maeda on Great Design  

Everyone benefits from understanding great design. Whether you make products, program apps, or provide services, design plays a critical role in how effectively you accomplish your goals. And if you work in the field of design, there has never been a better time to showcase your skills. In this thought-provoking interview, John Maeda talks about…

CM 061: Susan David on Emotional Agility  

It is essential to achieve our goals, yet few of us practice it. It is Emotional Agility — the ability to navigate the thoughts, feelings, and stories we tell ourselves as challenges arise. This does not mean ignoring how we feel or wallowing in those emotions. And it is certainly not about just being happy…

CM 060: Stuart Firestein on How Breakthroughs Happen  

How do breakthroughs happen? Not how we think. Movies, books, and articles, constrained by time and word limits, often leave out the realities --  the messy work, filled with dead ends, abandoned questions, and accidental discoveries. That is what Stuart Firestein, Professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, wants to change. He believes that the roles ignorance and failure play in the discovery process are vastly underappreciated, so much so that he has written two books about them, Ignorance: How It Drives Science, and Failure: Why Science is So Successful. An advisor for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation program for The Public Understanding of Science, Stuart shares insights from his own work as a successful researcher and scientist and from those of his peers, as well as scientific philosophers and historians. Insights from our interview:   Knowledge and facts are important insofar as they help us ask better questions Conscious ignorance offers a useful playground for discovery The messy process of science and discovery is where the value lies The disconnect between scientific textbooks and courses and actual science The innovative course he teaches that helps students gain a scientific mindset What it is that makes a problem interesting How scientists, researchers, and creatives look for connections Why failure can be useful even if it never leads to an eventual success The fact that the more expert a person is the less certain they will be How systems limit innovation Why we need better tools for assessment and evaluation in schools Why we need feedback tools that are more diagnostic and less judgmental Why he worries most about people who dislike or are disinterested in science Why he sees his lab as a cauldron of curiosity How writing books requires a different way of looking at things How philosophy and history can impact science in an interactive way Selected Links to Topics Mentioned Stuart Firestein @FiresteinS Be Bad First by Erika Andersen Is the Scientific Paper a Fraud by Peter Medawar James Clerk Maxwell Principles of Neuroscience Eric Kandel Kenneth Rogoff D.H. Lawrence Do No Harm by Henry Marsh MCAT NIH NSF Sidney Brenner Michael Krasny Karl Popper Thomas Kuhn Isaiah Berlin If you enjoy the podcast, please rate and review it on iTunes. For automatic delivery of new episodes, be sure to subscribe. As always, thanks for listening! Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo, and thank you to Rob Mancabelli for all of his production expertise! LinkedIn @GAllenTC

CM 059: Erika Andersen on Getting Good Fast  

Want to succeed in work and life? Be bad first. Do not confuse this with the familiar call to fail fast (so often heard in the startup world in recent years). This is a longer game. It is about getting comfortable with being novices and of committing to learning new, hard skills that take years to acquire. In a world of rapid-fire change, constant connection, and lots of choices, it is a necessary goal. Erika Andersen, wants to teach us how to do just that. Erika is the Founder of Proteus, author of three books on leadership, and a Forbes contributor. She shares concrete tips and great examples in her latest book, Be Bad First: Get Good at Things Fast to Stay Ready for the Future. Insights from our interview:   The key skill for success in the 21st century Why being bad first is not about failing fast or failing forward How open are we to learning new ideas? Less open than we say. How we hate being bad at things but love getting good at things How our desire for mastery can work in our favor with new challenges How hard are you clinging to the skills you have? How is that working for you? Four mental skills crucial for learning How Michelangelo successfully navigated being bad first The role innovation plays in getting ourselves to learn new things How to put our self talk to work for us rather than against us How we cannot get the help we need if we do not know our gaps How to revise and reframe our negative self talk What does healthy curiosity look like in adulthood? Confused about curiosity? Watch a 3-year-old! Get curious by unleashing your drive to understand Value the expertise of others enough to ask them questions Expected to be expert in your field? Beware of asking these questions. Want to reclaim your innate curiosity? Start with your hobbies! Anti-curiosity strongly connected to negative self talk Risk-free way to practice being bad first? Write with your non-dominant hand. It is impossible to be good at something you have never done - remember that Learning something new? Find your bridge - the part you know something about. Three things we need to believe in order to change our behavior. When leaders model new behaviors, change goes faster in their orgs Every year, pick something new to be bad at. Selected Links to Topics Mentioned @ErikaAndersen Erika Andersen Rookie Smarts by Liz Wiseman Duolingo If you enjoy the podcast, please rate and review it on iTunes. For automatic delivery of new episodes, be sure to subscribe. As always, thanks for listening! Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo, and thank you to Rob Mancabelli for all of his production expertise! LinkedIn @GAllenTC

CM 058: Jessica Tracy on the Benefits of Pride  

Is pride a deadly sin or a key to our survival? Will it lead us down a destructive path or can it actually help us resist temptation? In this conversation, Jessica Tracy answers these questions and more. Jessica is a Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia and author of the book, Take Pride: Why the Deadliest Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success. Her research has unearthed findings that help us see just how important pride is for human progress and survival. Her discussion of pride takes us beyond associations of boastfulness and arrogance, in order to understand how feelings of pride can boost creativity, encourage altruism, and confer power and prestige in ways that benefit us as individuals and as a society. In this interview, we talk about:   Why we need pride to feel good about ourselves The fact that pride is innate, rather than learned The body language we associate with pride and what it signals How residents of Burkina Faso helped us recognize that pride is universal How philosophers like Aristotle and Rousseau helped us see pride as positive How studying narcissism clued us into key aspects of pride The fact that there are two kinds of pride - authentic and hubristic What we learned when we asked people to talk about times when they felt pride How the speech of one political candidate included both aspects of pride Why asking if you are a voter vs if you will vote makes you more likely to vote How we can resist temptation by imagining the pride we will feel if we do How displays of pride convey status and why that is important What residents of Fiji taught us about pride, status, and evolution Why we evolved to have hubristic pride and the dominance that comes with it The connection between prestige and authentic pride How people with hubristic pride dominate through fear How dominant leaders are better at helping groups solve problems How prestigious leaders cultivate creativity and innovation in groups The fact that cultural ideas evolve through learning How pride motivates us to create and make things better How pride helps us want to teach and share and let others copy When people show pride in answering questions observers will copy them The fact that pride guides social learning How pride helps helps scientists make progress - they want to be right and it feels good when that happens Why we did not evolve to be selfless - we evolved to build a sense of self How hubristic pride is about a false sense of self and why it leads to shortcuts Why our sense of self is different from that of any other animal To what extent do pride and shame drive bad behaviors? Selected Links to Topics Mentioned @ProfJessTracy Dean Karnazes and Ultramarathon Man The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan Cumulative cultural evolution Lance Armstrong If you enjoy the podcast, please rate and review it on iTunes. For automatic delivery of new episodes, be sure to subscribe. As always, thanks for listening! Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo, and thank you to Rob Mancabelli for all of his production expertise! LinkedIn @GAllenTC

CM 057: Gretchen Bakke On Innovations In Energy  

We produce more wind and solar power than ever before, yet coal, oil, and gas constitute over 90 percent of our energy sources. Why? Blame it on the grid. While our electrical grid was once an engineering marvel, today it is the Achilles heel of energy efficiency. In her book, The Grid: The Fraying Wires between Americans and Our Energy Future, McGill University Professor Gretchen Bakke explains why. A former Fellow in the Science in Society Program at Wesleyan University, she holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Chicago. In this interview, Bakke shares how our grid became what it is today and offers fascinating insights into the technologies, personalities, and policies that got us here. Along the way, she explains all the fascinating ways innovators are helping us rethink it and what the future of energy looks like. In this interview, we talk about:   What the U.S. electrical grid actually is The history that informs the grid Why it matters when we use electricity Why the more we invest in green energy the more fragile our grid becomes How our current grid binds us to non-renewable energy sources How overgrown trees, sagging power lines, and a computer glitch caused a massive blackout in 2003 How electricity became a monopoly and a commodity How grid complexity works against complete reliance on alternative energy The good, the bad, and the ugly of smart meters Why energy storage is the holy grail of the energy business The innovation of vehicle-to-grid initiatives The feasibility of wireless electricity How an energy platform can help us reimagine the grid How an energy cloud can help us de-regionalize our reliance on energy sources What a cultural anthropologist brings to our understanding of the grid The values and history embedded in our electrical grid The fact that we made the grid and the grid makes us Whether choreography serve as a tool for helping us rethink power Selected Links to Topics Mentioned Arc lamp Charles Edison Charles Brush Samuel Insull National Energy Act PURPA Energy Policy Act of 1992 Enron Walkable City by Jeff Speck Vehicle to grid Elon Musk The Paris Talks Energy cloud If you enjoy the podcast, please rate and review it on iTunes. For automatic delivery of new episodes, be sure to subscribe. As always, thanks for listening! Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo, and thank you to Rob Mancabelli for all of his production expertise! LinkedIn @GAllenTC

CM 056: Mahzarin Banaji On The Hidden Biases Of Good People  

Do good people discriminate more often than they think? That is exactly what a team of researchers found when they analyzed the thoughts and reactions of millions of people around the world.   Harvard University Professor of Social Ethics, Mahzarin Banaji, author of the book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, shares surprising findings from Implicit Association Tests taken by over 18 million people from over 30 countries. What she reveals may surprise you. Banaji is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, as well as the Radcliffe and Santa Fe Institutes. She and her co-author Anthony Greenwald, Professor at Washington University, have spent their careers uncovering the hidden biases we all carry when it comes to issues like race, gender, age, and socioeconomics. In this interview, we talk about: How knowing our blindspots can help us innovate How we can measure the extent of our biases with the Implicit Association Test How the implicit association test can launch a dialogue around bias Who we say is American versus who we really believe is American How our tendency is to be curious and to want to learn about ourselves How much we want to know is a measure of our smart we are The role competition and social knowledge play in motivation to learn and grow Why we need to get beyond learning about it to doing something about it The importance of what we are willing to do to address our biases Knowledge of bias helps us rethink hiring, law, admissions, medicine, and more Bias in our minds hurts us, too The fact that implicit bias starts as young as 6 years old Disappointing differences in explicit vs implicit love of our ethnic or racial group What is not associated with our groups in society gets dropped from our identities Bias and discrimination can come from who we help How referral programs can reinforce bias and lack of diversity A tip on how to ensure referral programs cultivate diversity The fact that we all like beautiful people and how that harms us Ways to outsmart our biases What symphony orchestras can teach us about overcoming bias in hiring The fact that good people can and do have bias How we will be perceived by future generations if we can address our biases Whether Mahzarin likes science fiction Selected Links to Topics Mentioned @banaji Anthony Greenwald Implicit Association Test Fitbit Inclusion Conference 2016 What Works by Iris Bohnet Social imprinting Group identity Stanley Milgram Abu Ghraib My Lai Massacre If you enjoy the podcast, please rate and review it on iTunes. For automatic delivery of new episodes, be sure to subscribe. As always, thanks for listening! Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo, and thank you to Rob Mancabelli for all of his production expertise! LinkedIn @GAllenTC

CM 055: Jocelyn Glei On Slaying The Email Dragon  

What stands between us and meaningful work? Email! It is killing our productivity and distracting us from the creative work we crave, yet we spend over a quarter of our work week on it. What is behind our addiction and what can we do about it? Jocelyn Glei, author of the book, Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done, explains the science behind our addiction and offers strategies for prioritizing meaningful work. Jocelyn is the founding editor of 99U and editor of three productivity books, including the bestseller, Manage Your Day-to-Day. In this interview, we talk about:   The challenge of living in an age of distraction Why it is easier to be busy than to focus on meaningful work How, on average, we check email 11 times an hour and process 122 emails daily How we spend over a quarter of work time on email How the random rewards of email keep us addicted How completion bias makes us strive for inbox zero How designs like progress bars and percentages speak to our completion bias How our negativity bias influences every email that we read How empathy, emoticons, and punctuation can compensate for negativity bias The fact that email goes awry because of a missing social feedback loop How empathy goes a long way in overcoming email negativity bias Email is great for asking but awful for declining The difference between an email asker and an email guesser What it means to do creative, meaningful work Steps we can take to ensure meaningful work rules the day The role momentum plays in doing meaningful work Why we need to synchronize calendars with to-do lists How scarcity of time and resources impacts capacity, mindset, and attitude Tech setups to help us avoid frequent email checks How the best way to fail at email is to rely on program defaults Why the more we check our email, the less happy we are How segmenting emails senders helps us decide which emails to ready by when The fact that not all email messages are created equal How quickly we respond to emails sets expectations How to ensure your emails stand out How productivity can be about what we choose not to do Why we need to spend more time deciding than doing Why it is about leaving a legacy Selected Links to Topics Mentioned @jkglei B. F. Skinner Daniel Goleman and emotional intelligence Mark McGuinness Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much Gloria Mark Manage Your Day to Day Clayton Christensen If you enjoy the podcast, please rate and review it on iTunes. For automatic delivery of new episodes, be sure to subscribe. As always, thanks for listening! Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo, and thank you to Rob Mancabelli for all of his production expertise! LinkedIn @GAllenTC

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