Sunday, 20 April 2014

Does using technology keep you mentally sharp in your old age?

When you get older your mental capacity shuts down. I recently read an article saying that your StarCraft 2 ability goes down at the age of 24. It makes sense because there is a lot going on when it comes to a StarCraft 2 game.

It also makes sense that when you get older you are not mentally as sharp. It's harder to learn new things as you get older. Even simple things can be harder than it sounds. I recently played a game to teach kids math. In this game 1-5 animals went into a barn and 1-5 animals left. You had to pick how many animals and what kind of animals remained in the barn. This sounds really simple right? For me I got it right but it was doing the task was much harder than I anticipated.

I have also noticed that older people who are into technology are more "with it". This leads me to believe if somebody is using the most current technology for some reason they are more cognitively able.

When you start to think about it it makes perfect sense. Technology changes all of the time and you have to find a new way of using it. When I upgraded from iOS6 to iOS7 there were a few things that I found hard to do. By using this technology I learnt how to do something new. When you use technology more this happens all of the time.

The short answer is that people are learning when they are simply using technology.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Do music lessons and organized sports make kids future focused?

We have all heard of the marshmallow test you give kids. You give the kid an option to either have one marshmallow now or two later. Most kids eat the first marshmallow but some kids wait. The idea here is that the kids who do not eat the first marshmallow are future focused. They know that if they wait they will be rewarded in the future. This concept works for everything from career planning to savings. 

The core concept is that if you put in the sacrifice today the future you will be better.

If you are a parent and you gave you kid this test and they failed, the good news is that you don't have to jump off the balcony because your kids going to wind up working in some low end job. 

You can really teach your kid to be future focused. You can always talk about being future focused and furthermore you can actually be future focused. You could start saving and working on a new skill.

In implicitly, you can sign you kid up for music lessons or organized sports. Both of these in implicitly teach kids how to be future focused. By putting in the practice today, you will be better tomorrow. Eventually, the kid will understand and see the results of this.

Friday, 11 April 2014

How do you compete with companies that get more than 10 million in funding.

It's no surprise that tech startups in the last few years have received more funding then they are worth. If you are interested you can always google a company with the words "startup capital" or "investment funding". You will be surprised on how many ideas get million dollar evaluations.

What's worse is that now reality hits and these companies and they are not as profitable as they would like to be. That's every business's problem but at the same time. Making even 100 dollars can be challenging let a lone 10 million.

If there is any lesson I had to learn in life it is the lessons that ideas are worthless without execution. I always say whatever happens in reality is what really happens. What happens in your mind never happens.

This is of course a hard lesson. In university a professor told a story about the muses in class. If you don't know the muses are the gods of inspiration. They would "talk" to people and inspire them to create. It's very perceptive as creative people tend to have a flash of inspiration.

Later that day a friend said to me "John I really think the muses talk to you. You have so many ideas". In university I discovered coffee and I did have lots of flashes of inspiration. Suffice to say, I am an idea guy. If you flash forward a few years until after I graduated, I was confronted with the 2008 global financial crisis and the harsh reality of nobody caring about your ideas. It wasn't until about 2 years after I graduated that I heard that I could get funding for my ideas.

It seemed simple enough, I could pay myself more than I was making and of course money cures all right? Anybody who actually produces and tries to sell a product will realize that even 1000 dollar loan is hard to pay back let alone a 500k or 2 million dollar loan.

I thought about it but declined. Luckily. I said, there is no way I could get a good ROI on any investment.

How do you compete with companies that get funding. Simple. Produce a product, sell it, listen to your customers, stay small, improve and repeat.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Why does school need to be so unproductive?

We talk about productivity a lot. What does it even mean? In economics, productivity means the rate at which you can produce products. If you are more productive you can can produce products that are better quality for cheaper and today with people thinking about the environment, it means to be less harmful to the environment.

How does this apply to education? Productivity in education would center around these points
1. How fast the students learn
2. How easy it is for the teacher
3. How expensive is it?
4. Overall happiness for both students and teachers.

Currently most school systems are not productive. This is not surprising because most schools use standardized testing. If schools marked produced products instead of standardized test, then we could measure productivity better.

Instead we can focus on the delivery of the material. Most teachers spend their time making lessons for the students. That means teachers spend all this time making material that is about 90% the same. It would be much better if the lessons were made pre hand and the students could then watch the videos. They would still go to class, but watch the lectures in class. If they didn't get what the teachers were saying the students could go watch the videos at home.

This makes life easier for so many reasons. The first is that the teachers don't have to make lessons plan each night. The second is that the students can watch the videos as many times as they need. Lastly, it frees up the teacher to help the students who need help.

This makes the classroom way more productive. It also makes life easier for a teacher. That may not seem important, but having employees that are not stressed out is really important. A lot of teachers end up burnt out or with even more severe mental problems.

When it comes to mental problems you have to treat them like physical problems. Often times you hear "you wouldn't tell a cancer patient to just deal with it and cheer up". Going with that line of thought, you wouldn't work at a factory that has poor air quality and can give you lung cancer. If you did get cancer and the factory was at fault you could sue them. Why would you want to work at a place that was mentally hazardous in the same way the factory is physically hazardous.

It's only a matter of time before a teacher is going to sue a school board for this reason and win. Frankly teaching the classroom is not fun, tiring and physically exhausting.

All roads point to the online education revolution.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Does dyslexia make you more productive?

It's no surprise that lots of entrepreneurs have lysdexia. If you read through a lot of biographies it comes up again and again. Recently I was watch shark tank and I heard Daymond John say that he was really dyslexic, couldn't read and didn't go to college. His networth is also 250 million. That's a lot more than people I know. You might also think that this might be a one off, but if you talk to a lot of entrepreneurs you find that they do mention just in passing that they are somewhat dyslexic.

Does dyslexia make you more productive? Consider what you would be doing if you were not reading, you would be probably out talking to people and possibly making something. Those two ingredients are perfect for entrepreneurs. On top of that the ideas you would be formulating would be practical ideas versus theoretical ideas.

Entrepreneurship is all about doing and much less about thinking. If thinking practically will always trump thinking theoretically.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

This picture really says it all.

When it comes to life your 20's should look like the picture above. So many people change paths or change careers. Ultimately its for the better. The next big idea is just waiting to be discovered and age is not really a factor.

You can start a new idea today with no experience necessary. All you have to do is get started.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

What do startups really spend their money on?

In the last post we talked about what not to do when you get your project funded. If you don't know the silicon valley tech startup bubble is either deflating or about to pop. What this means is that mediocre ideas are getting overvalued and getting more money then they are worth.

For example, I could go to an investor with a mediocre idea like: "Let's make educational iPad games for kids and get a lot of funding.

In the real world it doesn't really work like that. You have to build your product first, make some sales, then go to an investor for capital. Although sometimes tech companies can do this process a little differently. Generally you want to make sales first before you go ask for money. The invest is there to leverage your business not make your business.

What are all of these startups spending their money on? Advertising. I see it everyday on my Facebook page and in the ads on the internet. Startups that have too much funding spend a lot of their cash to get the word out.

This is why I don't like to advertise. I can't compete with the "Educational iPad games for kids" start up that just received 2 million dollars pre revenue. It's not cost effective.

For people like me this bubble deflating is going to be a great thing because what you see on the advertising sites will be established companies with profits to actually pay for their advertising. It brings down the noise and it highlights the businesses who are actually profitable.