Why Being “PC” Matters

Jason Advice

The word “political” is often used in a negative manner, associating it with the sometimes shady nature of “politicians” and their ability to say things they think they should say rather than what they actually believe. Unfortunately, the negativity of that word has corrupted another term, political correctness (PC), which is now being used to refer to any form of tactful response that makes an effort to not offend others, even beyond politics. Being “PC” isn’t about censorship or free speech, it’s about common decency and respect.

Bring Solutions, Not Just Awareness

Jason Advice

Any idiot can point out a problem. There is never a lack of problems that can be pointed out, but there always seems to be a lack of practical solutions to them. If you’re going to raise awareness of a problem, then take the time to first research it and bring forth a potential solution as well. Keep in mind that the bigger the problem is (i.e. social issues) the more likely it will be complex and the less likely there will be a simple solution to it. When sharing your own solution, find out whether or not it has …

Listen Actively

Jason Advice

Most of the time when we are in conversation with someone else, we passively listen to them and actively think about what it is we are going to say next. But by doing this you’re doing them and yourself a disservice. We don’t learn things by talking, but by listening and actively trying to understand what it is the person is saying, both explicitly and implicitly. We can only think actively about one thing at a time and by doing so to prepare our own comments, we only catch the explicit words that are being said, completely missing the much …

Why Black Lives Matter Struggles and How to Fix It

Jason Advice, Incentives

Yes, black lives matter, but what’s in it for whites? Many may view that question as absurd, ignorant, and downright selfish, but that’s exactly what must be asked by the leaders of niche movements like BLM if they hope to spark the kind of radical change achieved by those such as the civil rights movement of the 1960s. While radicalism works well for raising awareness, it doesn’t do so well at actually solving the problems that are raised, unless the movement is willing to eventually adapt its message to embrace wider mainstream acceptance. The way to do this is by …

Crowdsourcing 2.0

Jason Crowds

One of the most potentially disruptive technologies today is a little known platform called crowdsourcing. There’s nothing aesthetically notable about it. It’s not “wearable” and there’s no colorful interface to tap. In fact, by any external measure, crowdsourcing, as far as technology goes, is just– boring. But the idea behind it is enormously powerful, simply because it’s a platform to link millions of other good ideas. Crowdsourcing’s strength lies not in the underlying technology itself, but in the diversity of thought within the crowd. It’s driven by good ideas that seek out and link with other good ideas to become …

Incentive Alignment

Jason Motivation

Incentive alignment is a unique idea that could significantly increase participation and idea quality during social impact challenges. The concept involves the perceived tying of a person’s participation within a social impact event, into something that he or she is already actively seeking or doing, such as applying for competitive schools, jobs, and grants. Incentive alignment has a chance to make a revolutionary impact on many of our current systems, with partners who participate in our experiment having to do nothing more than agree to include a one-line, optional invitation in a post-application communication. A Personal Example: When I applied …

From Losers to Leaders: Thinking Differently About At-Risk Students

Jason Education

“I guess I’m a loser,” 16-year old Michael told me when I asked why he was going to drop out, “and school is a waste of time.” Needless to say I was disturbed by his decision, but even more so by his self-assessment of being a loser. I shared with him my own experiences in high school and the fact that I too had failed, but then turned it around and became a leader. “I’m no leader,” he retorted and soon after dropped out. That got me thinking about the potential role of leadership development for at-risk youth. I concluded …

Persistence Pays Off

Jason Motivation

There are two ways to ensure you always get what you want, in business and in life, be strategic on the front-end (via rule of reciprocity, giving people what they want first, etc.) and being extraordinarily persistent on the back-end. This lesson involves a case study showing the level and depth of persistence that it sometimes will take to succeed as we look at one of the best cases of it in the past several years: Nick D’Aloisio, a 17 year old high school student who sold his mobile app, Summly, to Yahoo for $30 million. The real story here isn’t Summly, Yahoo, the …

Writing Quickly

Jason Advice

Even with all the talk of books dying and people not reading anymore (both misconceptions), by far the best way to get credibility quickly in any area is to write a book on the topic. I did it and my book helped get me into Harvard and onto the speaking circuit. Many others have done it and have had tremendous success with it as well. I recommend this method over anything else when trying to establish yourself among the experts in your field. When it comes to writing essays, articles, and books, the name of the game for the first draft …

Psychology, Persuasion, and Manipulation

Jason Motivation

It’s critical to understand psychology when trying to succeed in anything. Do you think great leaders achieved their greatness because they were just so much more skilled than everyone else? Of course not. Real success in life is similar to playing a game of chess. It’s extraordinarily strategic and the psychological moves behind it are played flawlessly by the rich and powerful. The thing is that they don’t want the rest of us to know that, because then their tactics would no longer work. This is why psychology isn’t exactly pointed to as a subject related to extreme success. They would …

How to Send Effective Emails

Jason Advice

This is the real deal on sending effective emails to people with power and influence– who will not normally email you back unless they know you. Forget all of the other crap you hear about sending good emails, this is down and dirty way to ensure you get a reply every single time. Drop a name. Being referred by someone they know increases reply rates dramatically. If at all possible you want this. This does not mean the referrer must make the introduction, but that you just need permission from the referrer to use their name so that you can reach …

Learn to Fail– A Lot

Jason Motivation

It’s critical that we learn to fail and fail a lot. In fact there is no real success without failing. It’s how we learn. It’s how we grow and get better. You should not avoid failing, but encourage it, both for yourself and for those around you (employees, students, family members, etc.). My colleague, John Couch, Vice President of Education at Apple, told me in my first meeting with him that, “We fail a lot here at Apple and we encourage it. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.” I agree. When I speak I talk a lot about this, …

Addictive Learning

Jason Motivation

In my second semester at Harvard I did an independent study that looked at the intentionality of addictive mechanisms built into games like World of Warcraft, Candy Crush, etc. That study culminated in this presentation for Professor Star called Addictive Learning. My theory was that if designed and implemented properly, we could make educational games just as addictive as entertainment-focused games and instead of getting kids hooked on uselessness they would be hooked on learning. Here’s the PowerPoint copy of the presentation:  Addictive-Learning.

Everything is Relative

Jason Videos

This video from 1977 is one of the best examples of teaching perspective to kids. It starts with a simple shot of a couple on a picnic, then the camera zooms out ten times every ten seconds until we are on the outskirts of our entire universe. Then it zooms back in (quickly) and then goes into the skin of the man, right down to DNA itself. Anyone even remotely interested in science or anything cool will love this 9 minute video.

Rule of Reciprocity

Jason Incentives

While I have implicitly understood this rule for most of life, it wasn’t until I read the book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, about 5 years ago or so. While I recommend the book as a whole, it’s the very first chapter, Reciprocation, that’s the real game-changer. This “rule” is probably the single most important factor to any success I have had thus far. I highly recommend reading, studying, and practicing it frequently. More on this in a future post. If you just want to read chapter 2 you can do so here.

Do We Have Time?

Jason Inspiration

Many of us believe that we are already “too busy” and don’t have time to do the other things in life that we really want to do (travel the world, write a book, adopt a child, mentor, etc. But saying we’re too busy is the easy way out, plus it’s actually not that true either. The fact is that we waste a lot of time on mundane things that, if we managed our time more efficiently, would add up to an enormous amount of free time. We only live once and our time here on Earth is very short. Do …

Define Success

Jason Motivation

I want you to succeed. I by no means mean to imply that success is related to money and wealth, in fact, I personally feel that those are simply one possible means of measuring success. While money is certainly great to have, it should be thought of as simply a tool, like any other tool, that will help you to become more effective or efficient at reaching a larger, more impactful goal. Thus, these lessons will cover a wide-range of topics with only one thing in common– they will hopefully make you think and, preferably, think differently– or “outside of …

The $5 Revolution: How Fiverr Changes Everything

Jason Articles

The revolution has begun—and it’s cheap. How would you like 50,000 Twitter followers, 10,000 Facebook Likes and 100,000 new visitors to your tiny blog overnight? For just $5 you can get these and more—with the click of a button. But while this will give your site a boost what does it do for the current system of social media and social sharing? Simple, it’s over. The game has changed and sites like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and even Google must make core changes or risk losing their credibility and becoming irrelevant. The culprit? A little startup called Fiverr and its army …

A Dropout’s Guide to Education Reform

Jason Education

It’s a telling commentary about education reform that just about everyone has been given a forum about ways to address the appalling dropout rate afflicting public schools in this country except the dropouts themselves. I say this unabashedly because I was an urban high school dropout myself, and after much research on the subject, I can tell you first-hand why it happens and how to fix it. Charter schools, vouchers, smaller class sizes, and standardized testing are definitely not the answer as they will not make real, systemic change. Until reformers start listening to the students who dropped out or …

What Makes You Black?

Jason Articles

Do you know someone who is black? Can you define it? This little debate was brought on by a friend who was of mixed-race. Her father was black, her mother was white and she definitely looked more white than black. Nonetheless, she was a bit confused as to what race she was and didn’t want to list “other” on all of those dumb forms. What I thought would be a quick answer to her question, “You’re considered black to most people, so therefore you’re black,” turned out to be a lot more difficult than I expected. In fact, I tried …