Sometime last year, I came across a speech from the 2015 Toastmasters World Champion, Mohammed Qahtani. If you have a few minutes, I really suggest you take the time to watch it. OK, let’s say you only have a couple of minutes: just watch the introduction.
While I’m not a fan of Qahtani’s parenting style (either option), I’m going to skip over that for now, as it’s not the main reason for writing this post. I’m also going to skip over the stereotypical portrayal of scientists, again, as it’s not the main reason for writing this post (but I will say that I’ve never meant a scientist who confirms that ‘stereotypical portrayal’). The main reason for writing this post is the first few minutes of the video. The startling anecdote that Qahtani shares about smoking and diabetes. Be honest — did you believe him when he said, “the amount of people dying from diabetes is three times as many dying from smoking?” Based on the audience’s response, I suspect that there are probably — at least — some of you who didn’t know this. To be clear, it’s not my aim to make you feel bad about this. If this isn’t a piece of data you’ve been exposed to at some point in your life, you probably have little reason to know. (Unfortunately, smoking is part of my family history, so I knew Qahtani was up to something when I heard him make that statement. Oh, and if you’re curious, WHO posits that smoking is the leading cause of death where 1 in 10 adults worldwide [!] die as a result of it, whereas diabetes is ‘only’ the 7th leading cause of death in the US.)
Circling back to the video… conviction. Did you notice the conviction with which Qahtani parroted the statistics about diabetes and smoking? He said it so assuredly that it almost makes you want to believe him (or at a minimum, question whether what you thought you knew about those two pieces of statistics was true or not). When I saw him do this, it reminded me of the hundreds of articles you see published each year that advise people on how to sell themselves or their company. The infamous elevator pitch.
Invariably, when you read articles (or books!) about how to give a good elevator pitch, you’re going to find that it’s very common that one of the most important things you can do in that elevator pitch is to be confident (or passionate or some other synonym that fits nicely into the author’s acronym). Don’t get me wrong, confidence is certainly important when it comes to making your elevator pitch, but in seeing Qahtani express himself with an air of confidence, it made me wonder about the human fallibility, with regard to elevator pitches.
Sure, I suspect that for people who’s job it is to listen to elevator pitches on a constant basis will tell you that they have a finely tuned BS-detector, but what about the rest of us who haven’t spent 10,000 hours listening to elevator pitches? I bet you’re thinking that you don’t have to worry about that when it comes to your field because you’re an expert. OK. Let’s accept for a moment that you are — what about all the other fields that you haven’t achieved “expert” status in — what do you do there? Well, I suppose you/we could perfect y/our BS-detector, but I suppose there’s still the possibility that you might make a type I/II error (depending upon your perspective). That is, there’s still the possibility that you might miss the BS for what it is and it’s also possible that you might incorrectly assess something as BS when it’s actually gold!
On that note, I want to leave you with the powerful words of Dr. Maya Angelou, on words:
Posted in Business, Education, Health, Philosophy, Wisdom
Tagged 10 000 hours, BS-detector, Death, Diabetes, Elevator Pitch, Entrepreneurship, Lifehacker, Maya Angelou, Obesity, Smoking, Statistics, Toastmasters, Toastmasters International, Tobacco, Type I error, Type II error, Words, World Health Organization
Are you in search of a million dollar idea? Great! I’ve got one. Soup scoop crackers. Sound crazy? Read on.
A couple of months ago, I was eating soup. There happened to be a little bit of nip in the air, so I thought I’d dive into the soup cupboard. After heating my soup on the stove, I got the crackers out of the cupboard and proceeded to sit down at the table. Upon opening the package of saltines, I then dipped my cracker in the soup and used it as a scoop to get some of the ‘stuff’ onto the cracker and into my mouth. Yum. As I sat there doing this with the remainder of my crackers, I wondered: How come there aren’t soup scoop crackers?
There are scoops for salsa and dip in the form of chips, but we don’t have this same luxury for soup. Why? Well, I thought about the way people eat soup. I’ve seen a lot of people who simply dip their cracker into the soup and then eat the cracker (almost as if the soup is warming the cracker and adding some flavor to it). I’ve also seen people who break the cracker into bits and then eat their soup with the broken crackers in it. But there’s another group of people… People like me who like to scoop the stuff out of the soup with crackers.
After I had this idea, I thought that someone must have thought of this, right? Maybe I’ve just missed these soup scoop crackers when I go shopping. It turns out, that’s not the case. I’ve done a number of google searches for crackers and I never see anything resembling a scoop cracker. Then I thought, it’s possible that I’m using the wrong terms, so let me go to the grocery store and see if there just might scoop crackers. I checked Mom’s Organic Market. I checked Whole Foods. I checked Wegmans. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing!
There doesn’t seem to exist something in the form of a scoop cracker. So, all of you entrepreneurs out there (maybe the more food-inclined ones), here’s a million dollar idea: soup scoop crackers.
Posted in Business
Tagged Chip, Chips, Cooking, Cracker, Crackers, Entrepreneurship, Food, Fresh Perspective, Mom's Organic Market, Saltine cracker, Soup, Soup Cracker, Soups and Stews, Wegmans, Whole Foods, Whole Foods Market
Yesterday, I saw a post from Mental Floss about whether or not cockroaches would be able to survive a nuclear war. That is, not whether or not the cockroaches would put up a fight in a nuclear war, but whether or not they would survive the radiation from a nuclear war that happened where they existed.
The post cited research done by MythBusters that concluded cockroaches have a much higher tolerance for radiation.
Does anyone else see an opportunity for innovation here?
If I were a scientist, (aside from ethical conundrum), I might be interested in seeing how much radiation cockroaches could withstand before it affects their ability to function. Why? Because then I would want to study what it is about the cockroaches that allows them to withstand such radiation. Then, I’d want to see if I could design some sort of protection for humans. To be fair, it’d be very hard to get this to pass through any kind of Institutional Review Board (IRB). That is, the IRB would probably balk at any kind of research where humans were being used to test the strength of some kind of cockroach shield. Though, I imagine that scientists might be able to work around this by using human cells in the lab, right?
Posted in Health, Science, Technology
Tagged Cockroach, Cockroaches, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Korean Peninsula, Mental Floss, MythBusters, North Korea, Nuclear, Nuclear Energy, Nuclear War, Nuclear warfare, Radiation, Radiation Poison, Radiation Poisoning
I was driving down the 401 in Toronto and I noticed a wind turbine setback from the highway. As I looked at it, I remembered seeing it when I used to live in Toronto over 10 years ago. That’s a long time. On one of my first trips across the USA, I drove north through the California desert. As you’d expect, there were lots of wind turbines. When I traveled through New Zealand, there were lots of wind turbines there, too.
The extent of my knowledge (at this point) of wind energy is that the energy is captured through the use of a wind turbine. And because of the structure of the turbines, there are lots of folks who oppose wind turbines. There concerns are understandable and shouldn’t easily be dismissed. That being said, I think about the abundance of wind on the planet I think that there’s gotta be room for innovation in this industry, right?
If I had to choose, my guess is that solar energy is going to be what revolutionizes energy on our planet, but while we’re still trying to perfect energy storage (batteries just won’t cut it), I have a hunch that there’s something we can do about the wind energy industry. I don’t have a grand idea to propose in this post, but there are many inventions or discoveries that come from people who weren’t working inside that industry. My guess is that I don’t have many readers who work in the wind energy industry, so it might be people like you and I who come up with an idea that revolutionizes the wind energy industry.
The next time you get a few minutes, think about the abundance of wind on the planet and how we might capture and store that energy. It just might be a million dollar idea…
Posted in Business, Technology
Tagged California, climate, Energy, Energy Industry, Entrepreneurship, Environment, Idea, Innovation, New Zealand, Renewable, Toronto, Wind Energy, wind energy industry, Wind power, Wind turbine, wind turbines