How to Be an Adaptation Machine | Dean Kamen on Impact Theory | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "How to Be an Adaptation Machine | Dean Kamen on Impact Theory".


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Intro (00:00)

When you think of how we look at evolution, Charles Darwin, everybody's heard. Charles Darwin, but they don't know what he said. Charles Darwin did not say it's the strong that survived. He did not say it's the smart that's the wrong. What Charles Darwin said, which is so brilliant about evolution, what Charles Darwin said, it is those that are most capable adaptation. Hey everybody, welcome to Impact Theory. You're here my friends because you believe that human potential is nearly limitless, but you know that having potential is not the same as actually doing something with it. So our goal with this show and company is to introduce you to the people and ideas that will help you actually execute on your dreams. All right, today's episode is a little bit different than normal. It was shot at Peter D. Amandis's Abundance 360, which is an incredible gathering of some of the world's most profound thinkers to look at the state of technology and where humanity is going to be in the future. And it brought through some people that we've been trying to get on the show, but for scheduling reasons haven't been able to. So we took advantage. All right, today's guest is one of the most accomplished inventors in US history. He has over 440 patents to his name, and he started inventing when he was just five years old. And by the time he graduated high school, his inventions were netting him roughly $60,000 a year, which was more than both of his parents made combined. While still in college, he founded his first company called AutoSaringe, which made cutting edge medical equipment, including the first wearable insulin pump for diabetics. The company was so successful, he was able to sell it to Baxter International and then create Decca Research and Development, a company that was designed from the ground up to foster innovation and generate creative breakthroughs on a grand scale. He and his team at Decca have already revolutionized several industries, including human transportation, healthcare, and bionics. They've created such game-changing technologies as the advanced prosthetics used by DARPA, the HydroFlex, surgical irrigation pump, the crowns dent, which has saved millions of lives, and the first home dialysis machine, as well as a water filtration device that can turn the world's filthiest water into safe, clean drinking water. They've also created such ubiquitous staples as the I-BOT Mobility Device, which is the world's most advanced wheelchair and the segue. He was also recently granted a $300 million contract to begin work on regenerative medicine, and for this insane list of accomplishments, he was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame in 2005, awarded the National Medal of Technology presented by President Bill Clinton, the Lemelson MIT Prize, and in 2011 he was named the Laureate of the Franklin Institute in Mechanical Engineering. So please help me in welcoming the founder and chief enthusiast of FIRST, which serves hundreds of thousands of kids ages 6 to 18 in more than 60 countries around the world. The college dropout who is now a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, Dean Cayman. Dean, thank you so much for joining me today. This has been, for me at least, this has been an interview that I've been hounding Peter to help put together for a very long time, and it is an honor to be sitting here with you.

Education And Personal Development

Imagination over knowledge (03:06)

Your accomplishments are just astonishing, but what I find far more interesting about you is the way that you bring humanity into it, and that collision to me is really, really interesting. And I want to start earlier today, actually, when you and I met for the first time, you quoted Einstein and you were talking about how he said knowledge is less important than imagination. So why is it that you think imagination is more important? And what does that really mean? I think what he meant when he said it, and it's even way more true now, because while imagination is more valuable than ever, knowledge is a commodity. I mean, you know, 100 years ago, if you wanted some fact, you might have to trace to some library if they had it and if you know where to find it. Today, a few billion people are walking around with a thing in their pocket that has access to all the knowledge that's ever been documented. So knowledge is virtually free and accessible instantly. Imagination is what allows us to do the next great thing. Imagination allows us to say, "Well, I can take all this knowledge. That's what we have today. How do I make a better tomorrow? Well, what do you add to knowledge to create the future? You have to innovate. What's innovation? Innovation is taking all the same facts that everybody else has, looking at the same problems that everybody else is looking at, but see them differently and say, "Aha, this is what we can do to fix this problem." That's imagination. And I think what Albert Einstein was trying to say was, in his days, surrounded by the great physicists of all time, they were stuck in a model where they all had the facts in the emerging field of quantum mechanics and the emerging fields of physics at the turn of the 20th century, he was one by one literally pulling out the pillars of what for a few thousand years were the core of what we thought was knowledge. I mean, he said, "Well, time isn't a constant. Time. The unit of time depends on your frame of reference. That's relativity." He said, "Mass is what you think it is. You accelerate things. Their mass changes. The guy literally undermined the fundamental pillars of what we all knew were the laws of nature, and he said, "Well, Newton sort of got it right. It was an approximation that sort of works, but just philosophically as well as based on data that came from the experiments done as a result of his theories." But philosophically, he said, "Nature is actually more beautiful than it had been depicted in the classical version of physics." And he changed it all. But what I think he was trying to say when he said imagination is more important than knowledge was, he didn't incrementally take all those ideas and then jump to relativity or any of us. I think it's the other way around. He had the imagination to know the answer and then backed into the proof to get us there because he was also a brilliant physicist and mathematician. Now, do you think that you can train people to think in that way? I know you've warned people about getting stuck in their dogmatic beliefs and that being an expert can actually be a trap. What can people do to keep their thinking fresh? Well, you hit a couple of things. I think an expert is somebody that, because they spent a lot of time and energy on something and got to some result that worked, that's why they're considered by their peers and expert, is now stuck with that fact, with that truth. And the irony to me is truths, things we value are unfortunately transient. And most people, once they've spent the time in the effort and the energy and the frustrations to learn the hard way what a truth is, don't want to give that up. I mean, think about an industry. Probably in the year you were born, the truth was television is for everybody and it comes over the air. There were bunny ears and it was NBC and ABC and CBS and telephones in the year you were born had a wire on them because it was for private conversation. The truth was, television is through the air, telephone is overwires. You ask a millennial today, television is called cable and a telephone is something you carry anywhere you want and they don't know what a pay phone looks like with a receiver connected to a box. Now, people weren't lying in the 60s and 70s and 80s about what the truth was, but the truth changed. And the proof that being an expert is dangerous is who were the last people to figure out that that changed. The big networks nearly went out of business. They didn't see that change. They didn't believe in that change. It's ironic to me that once you're big and have a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge about something that worked for you, you don't want to give that up.

Charles Darwin (08:24)

It's unnerving. In fact, we talk about things like experience and judgment and all those things that we value in a mature adult as positives. I think you might want to say those things really represent a fixed perspective of a changing world. And if you can't change with the world, those perspectives might be your downfall. I mean, when you think of how we look at evolution, Charles Darwin, everybody's heard, "Charles Darwin," but they don't know what he said. Charles Darwin did not say it's the strong that survive. He did not say it's the smart that survive. What Charles Darwin said, which is so brilliant about evolution, what Charles Darwin said, it is those that are most capable adaptation. What he said was, if an animal can't adapt to its environment, it's toast. It's going to go extinct. Well, that's true of people and ideas and cultures. And all I was trying to say was, while there are things that worked very well for us when we had this level of knowledge and this technical capability, this is the best we could do, those things change. The point is, as our understanding of the world gets better, we have to change what we believe to be is true, what the norms of our behavior ought to be, and we're reluctant to do that. Our education system today looks like the education system of 150 or 200 years ago. I used to say to people, "The reason you need to put first in your school is kids want to be interactive. They want project-based learning. That's why they love to be in school, to do team-related things, football and basketball and cheerleading. They don't like to be lined up. They don't need to get facts anymore." And I used to say, like the industrial revolution mentality of training people to be workers at a factory, and I decided that was being too kind to our education system. It acts like it was stuck in the age of the industrial revolution. I think it's stuck in what was just before that, the agrarian age. Our school still let kids out for three or four months during the summer, I guess, to go raise all the crops and bring them in. Our education system with the available technologies that we now have should make kids so excited to learn whatever they want to learn, music or art or history or mathematics or physics, because we have the resources to do it, because they don't have to spend 10 hours a day in the field. They don't have to spend the summer harvesting. We should have the most exciting environment for kids to learn relevant things. And the relevant things include teamwork. Tell us a little bit about first and why you developed it, and primarily around this idea that I love, which is tell people what it stands for, because that notion of inspiration is so critical to this. So first, for inspiration and recognition of science and technology, I put together now about almost 30 years ago on a premise. I said a few minutes ago, I'm an inventor. What do inventors do? Inventors look at the same problems as everybody else, but see them differently. My mom is a teacher. Still is. I talked to her this morning. She was a good teacher. Everybody, I know can think about some great teacher that impacted their lives. Yet 30 years ago and today in a culture that loves to find blame and one line of solutions to everything, we decided back then and today we have an education crisis. If you assume you have an education crisis, we need more books, more standards, more teachers, you might solve your problem.

We Have an Education Crisis (12:25)

If you've misdiagnosed your problem in the first place, it's unlikely you're going to do anything to fix it. So 30 years ago, I said, while everybody else is saying, "Oh, we got this crisis and education change that changes that." Teachers are incompetent or lazy. Who knows? I said, "You know what? Let's take the assumption. We don't even have an education crisis," which is a good thing because if we did since it's already a massive piece of every local budget, it's not like you can easily add a material amount of resources to it or amount of time in the day or amount of anything. So I said, "Let's take the assumption. We don't have an education crisis at all. It's not what we don't have enough of." Teachers, books, resources. It's what we have too much of, distractions, when kids wanting to learn. Let's assume it's not a supply problem at all. It's a demand or lack of demand problem. We live in a culture. It's a free culture America. That's what's great about it. And in a free culture, you get the best of what you celebrate. And in the same schools that all had an education crisis, even the inner city schools that have no budgets for anything, in fact, particularly the inner city schools, we're managing to make all the great football players and basketball players and stars or Hollywood. Well, why is that? Maybe it's because a little bit of real desire and passion is worth a whole lot more than the opportunity they throw at you when they force you to go to school like it's a punishment.

Education Is a Catalyst for Progress in America (13:57)

And I said, in our culture, by then 30 years ago, we knew certain things were really energizing old kids, no matter what the socioeconomic background, all kids, our whole culture was obsessed and still is with sports and entertainment. That's not bad. My love sports and entertainment. But you got to understand that's the result of having a rich enough society to be able to afford those things. It is not the cause of our wealth. It's the result of it. I like ice cream. But when you're a little kid, your mom says to you, you're going to have the ice cream after you eat your Brussels sprouts, right? It's great to have sports and entertainment. But kids have to get an education that can give them skill sets to build careers, to become successful for themselves and their community and their country and the world. But I said, hey, a good inventor never invent something when you can see something that already works and you borrow it. You only invent the stuff that's missing. You don't invent the wheel to make a car. You just put four of them together, right? You don't invent the wheel to make a segue. So I said, look, here's the problem. We know kids all over this country are rarely excelling in math and science. Those are hard things to learn. It takes many years to do it. Compared to even the developing world, we were sliding. That bodes very badly for this country maintaining a quality of life, a standard of living, or even our security. But I said, here's the thing. We know something that works, that motivates them, that inspires them. They recognize as being something they can do, the world of sports and entertainment. So I said, I never saw a kid running around cheering. I want to be second, not in the sport. But they're willing to take math pass fail. They're willing to not take physics at all. And you think, wow, in this culture of ours, that creates role models and superstars in a couple of industries that very, very few people will ever have a career in. But they'll spend a lot of their time trying to get there, these same inner city kids that become the superstars of basketball and football. All the other 99% of the kids in that school have a pretty marginal skill. And they're not ready to take on the exciting jobs and careers of the future. So I said, given what we got, I don't need to reform education. These teachers are fine. We've got schools there fine. We spend more money on education than the rest of them. What I need to do is change the attitude of the kids so they'll make use of this resource. So I said, well, we know how to get them passionate. They like sports and entertainment. All I got to add is the sport they do has to give them a skill set which isn't bounce, bounce, bounce, throw. The skill set they're going to pick up is analytic thinking. They'll learn the power of mathematics, of physics, of engineering, of what real logic is. Oh, but let's package it up in the stuff we know they really like. In fact, we justify sports in school budgets all over the country, the big cities, the parquet floors and the justify sports all over because we said, well, Dean, they learned teamwork. Well, if teamwork's so important in school, why when they do it in a classroom, do you call it cheating? So I'm sitting there thinking, I'm sitting there thinking they've nailed it. The world of sports and entertainment are the perfect model for education. It's engaging. It's involving. It's a project-based situation. They do have to learn teamwork. They have to think on the fly. It's a reason to get together. Now that everybody's got the internet, they don't need to get together to look at facts. They don't study football. They play it. They're involved. So we got to get them to play with math and science and engineering and physics. And what's the game that you guys use? So 30 years ago, having this epiphany, hey, we don't have an education crisis. We have a culture crisis. I said, I'll form a not-for-profit organization. It's a simple goal. Change the culture of the United States. Using sports and entertainment, create as much passion among kids to develop the muscle hanging between their ears as any of the others, because it's the most powerful muscle we got. And the perspective of kids comes from our culture. Don't blame the Department of Education for the fact that these kids aren't working hard at math and science, because our culture doesn't show them how, particularly girls and minorities. So 30 years ago, I said, I'm going to form a sport. I said, I'm going to form a not-for-profit that doesn't have the word education in it, because it's not about education. It's for inspiration and recognition of science and technology and make it fun and competitive. So the word first, everybody in sports wants to be first. So tell me a kid. Tell me a kid you've ever met that doesn't want to be first. So I want all kids to be first. So I go out and I found about 20 CEOs of little companies, IBM, Boeing, United Technologies, small electric, but they're all companies that desperately need the next generation of tech capable people. And I said to all of them, you're own worst enemies. You complain about the education system and think they're going to fix a problem that you created. Because you guys market the world, your products, but you are the biggest sponsors of all the international sporting events and all the international television. Whether it's entertainment or sports, your industries support them and we get what we celebrate. So I'm begging you, you need these kids more than they need you. I said to these companies, if each one of your companies will end me one or two enthusiastic technology people that can go to a school and be there as the mentor, not the teacher, not be the mentor. I'll give you kits and they can work with the teachers who might be a little intimidated to do this on their own. And we'll just make it a fun thing with no grades. We'll do it in the same way sports work. They don't get, they do it. And at the end of the season they build their own, but they don't get a final exam.

How Dean s Not-For-Profit Organization Is Showing Results (20:16)

They have a double-limination tournament and they get trophies and prizes and we'll bring the cheerleaders and we'll bring the mascots and we'll bring the school band and we'll celebrate science and tech. I love that idea because you and you've talked a lot about that. Like you get when you celebrate, you said that just a minute ago, but seeing these events which you can now see on YouTube, it is pure insanity. It's super high energy. It's robots playing basketball, thrashing each other. I mean it's really cool. So think about this. In that first year I convinced I think 23 companies. Now, that's a small number, but they were some of the biggest companies in the world to lend me these people and I connected them to 23 schools. I could really use a boost in their perspective on tech. So the second year we had about 50 teams. The third year 100 teams. The fourth year 200 teams. By about the fifth year, some of these whole high schools that had played year after year had been transformed by this thing. They had more kids on their first team than their football team. This year we have 55,000 schools. We have over a million kids. We have 200 universities. Little ones like MIT and WPI and RPI.

Scholarships for kids (21:30)

That gave us 50 million dollars in scholarships for these kids. It's incredible. Which we will give out this year at the championship. We have over 100,000 volunteer technology people acting as the local mentors. This program brings together the technology community, the education community, mom and dad. Corporations that are desperately meeting world class kids. What you've put together is otherworldly. I want to put it in context. You struggled with dyslexia as a kid.

Growing up with dyslexia (22:05)

That's still do, but I consider it an asset. And that's actually what I wanted to ask you. So how does that become an asset when you're a kid? I'm assuming it doesn't feel like an asset. So how do you shift your mindset to becoming an asset and how much does that play into what you've done here? I would have to admit I didn't consciously believe that I started first as a result of a life in which part of my life is dyslexia. But early on other people have either asked me about that or through their questions pointed out to me they're probably not unrelated. As a kid I couldn't read very well. Did you feel stupid? Yes, that's the problem. I couldn't read and I was watching everyone. I also would sit in the classroom and the teacher would be screaming along. Now I think it fundamentally unfortunately after torture myself for probably six or seven or eight years, probably if you start school at five or six. I probably was in like junior high school, getting to high school before I realized that their definition of learning or knowing something, knowing something really meant being familiar with it. To me understanding something is very different than being familiar with it. But in retrospect it's not their fault. They got to cover all these. I remember sitting in a classroom as a kid and we were doing square roots by then fourth or fifth grade and there were some easy square roots. I don't know. The square root of four is two and the square root of nine is three. What's the square root of three? That's really weird. Well 1.732. 1732. Oh, that's the year George Washington was born. Now the fact that the square root of three happens to be quick. There aren't any way to put your sitting in a classroom and a minute ago you're doing history and you saw the book and it said 7032. The next thing is square. What does that got to do? And then you're thinking about how bizarre that is and you're asked a question. You don't even know what they're talking about. You're accused of not paying attention, which I guess is true. I wasn't paying attention. I was thinking. But I would sit in school and this fire hose of information at any level, you know, like a teacher, we're going to do division. And you know, I tried to do the, you know, you learn things you have to do by memory. Sometimes it's 35, it's 35. And then you're going to do division. And the teacher says, well, division is exactly the same as multiplication. You do the opposite thing. They're the same. And I'm thinking, oh, yeah, because four times three is 12. 12 divided by four is three. 12 divided by three. But I'm sitting there thinking about this and I'm thinking, well, division really can't just be the opposite of multiplication because I could take any two numbers. Or again, you're a kid, you're not doing irrational transcendental functions. You got numbers. So I got a number.

Calculus (25:01)

And I could pick a number seven and I could pick another number three, 21. You could take any two numbers, multiply them. But if you take any two numbers and divide them, 21 divided by seven is three, 21 divided by eight or nine, holy mackerel. You got to get really lucky when you want to do it backwards. Any two numbers you multiply, you get another number. Any two numbers you divide, not so much. And I'm thinking that's really odd. They're not the same. And then you hear, oh, well, we had this rule. Any number divided by itself is one. Well, that makes sense. Well, I had 10 apples and I had 10 people, 10 divided by 10. They each get one. If I had seven people and seven apples, seven divided by seven, why? So any number, no matter what it is, divided by itself, I'll buy that. And zero is zero. So zero over one is zero, zero over 25. If you got none of them and you got 25 people, they all get none. If you got zero and you divided by 52, so zero divided by any number is zero. One, any number divided by itself is one. Those are the rules they gave us. I'm sitting there thinking, hmm, what is zero divided by zero? By the rule I heard yesterday, any number divided by itself is one. So zero over zero should be one. But that rule they gave me was zero divided by one is always zero. How do you divide zero by zero? What do you get? I don't know. So I asked the teacher. So well, I don't know what the right answer is, but you gave me two rules that are internally inconsistent. One of them's got to be wrong. So then you go to the library and you don't get a book for a third grade or you find out as you look at this, this is not, you're not the first guy that's worried about this. That's sort of the rudimentary process of limit theory. That's calculus. Oh, well, if you're sitting alone in the library, no matter how slow you read, you can read it. And you can go read, you know, then they went to physics and you know Newton's laws. F equals ma. The most powerful law in all the physics. F equals ma. By then I'm probably in junior high school learning and I'm sitting, wait a minute, Isaac Newton, the greatest physicist, greatest mathematician of all time, gave us this mathematical equation. F equals ma. Something is equal to something times something. Linear first order. That's like saying, well, A equals B. It's probably true, but it's pretty trivial. What are you going to do with that? Okay, A equals B times C. Something is equal to something times a constant. That's the simplest mathematical statement you could possibly make without being trivial, like A equals B. A equals B times a constant. So it couldn't be that Isaac Newton is recognized for the most brilliant mathematics there. It's the simplest equation that's not trivial. There had to be more to this story. Well, he didn't say A was DPDT, the second derivative of that. And he was doing it in a way that he was trying to figure out, you know, projectile motion. And if he's really such a great genius, how come F equal ma got one paragraph in a book that also had the next chapter is electricity, the next chapter. So wait a minute, I'm just some dumb kid. And I'm supposed to read in one paragraph something that took the greatest genius of all time his whole life to do. Yeah, this isn't going to work for me. So I go to the library and I find out he wrote a book. It was called Principia. Incredible. But it's hundreds of pages thick. But if this genius wrote this thing, which today we still have called Principia, instead of feeling like an idiot and not even understanding what's so special about it, why don't you read what this genius wrote? Well, because they can't in a school environment spend a couple of years on that, they got one part of one 45 minute class to cover that subject. So to me school was like being a fire hose of of knowledge is being shoved at your head and you're drowning in it. Yeah, I don't even know what subject they were on. Oh, now we're doing spelling, you know, knife. I mean, I don't get it. So I just didn't understand what made sense. And then I realized you couldn't possibly learn all that stuff that quickly and how it makes sense. What school was there to do was introduce you to all these ideas and make you familiar with them. So on the test, they'd say, what's new? I think like, you got it right. That doesn't mean you understand this remarkable relationship that tells you all about the motion, whether it's some atomic particles or galaxies, if equals ma is a pretty powerful, all encompassing statement. But it wasn't just the algebra, it was the concept. And to understand the concept takes a lot of time, at least it did for me. But what I found was I'll go to school, it's a blur, I can't keep up with them. And then I'll look at what seems like it must have been really interesting there. And then I'll go off by myself, go get the book. And even if it took me hour after hour to read it, reread it, try again and reread it, I'd finally get to where I thought, I really understand some of this stuff. It sounds like curiosity really saved you, which is amazing. And I think that a lot of people don't have that and thusly don't get saved. Well, it's worse than they don't have it. I think it gets knocked out. I think every kid shows up at school as a question mark and goes out as a period because you've got to take what they gave you right away and then regurgitate it. And again, this is not a wrap on schools. As I said, I love teachers, my mom's a teacher. This is the process we have of what the education system has done. And instead, let school be a place where they can work with each other to understand some of these concepts. And again, first, I think the reason kids like sports is they can practice it, get better at it, work with each other. There's all sorts of reasons and it's not judgmental and if they don't do well, they don't get in there. And if they do well, they get recognition. But I said, let's take all the ideas from everything we know about science. The laws of the universe, the power of mathematics to write them, the language of science is mathematics. Give kids that language, that tool, give them a sense of this incredible stuff and then let them see how to apply all that science through technology and engineering and feel that they're competent in it and that they're moving positively in that world and it'll just take them over. Because there is no other sport they can do that is as empowering to them as learning how to develop the muscle.

Building self esteem (31:57)

And empowering is what I really want to ask you about. So how did you, if you're dyslexic, you're feeling dumb, the school isn't exactly helping. How did you build self-esteem? So what I finally did, and this is not probably not the most proud of this, is I reached a point where I just said, yeah, these teachers will keep giving me bad grades and ridiculing me and telling me I'm not paying attention. But I finally realized they just have a different set of standards. So I'll sit there. But I won't let it, I won't take it personally. They have a job to do, which is to give me an F because I couldn't finish reading the whole thing and or I would sit there and it'd be this multiple choice question. I used to love those tests. You'd sit down like the SAT kind of thing and you read the question and then you had to pick the best answer and they'd say the best answer, A, B, C, or D. Well, you'd read A and it's ridiculous. It's almost funny. B, huh, I bet that's almost right but it's subtle and it's not right before. That's a bad thing because you could almost think it would work. So it's sort of reinforcing a tricky but wrong answer. C, yeah, that's probably the answer they want. D now. But I'd look at them and think, well, of the answers they gave those four, they probably want this one. But they said, what's the best answer? I think there's got to be a better answer. And I'd sit there and look at that question and try to think of a better answer. I got a better answer. But so the hour's up, I didn't do any other questions but I got a better answer. And you fail, right? But I said, that's fair. They're playing their game with their rules and in that game I probably wouldn't do very well. But I would just learn that then I can go and think and learn at my own pace, which is slow and I focus deeply on something and then I would go and find people that can help me. And I said school is probably an efficient way to get everybody to a baseline if they're good at taking it in in regard to my older brother is a brilliant guy. You know, he used an MD, PhD faculty member at Yale.

Playing His Game (34:00)

I mean, he's a brilliant guy. He used to say to me, Dean, why do you touch yourself? Just give them what they want and then I say, boy, it's not like I can't just, I don't weep that, I can't give them what they want. So I either have to sit here and decide I really am just dumb or I have to just not be offended by not doing well playing their game. I'll play my game and in the end I'll let history answer whether I could add value of my way. And so when I was 14 to 15, I started a little company making electronic stuff and I said if people want this and they'll buy it from me and I can add up the cost of making it and add something to that for my time and my effort and sell it and make money doing that, it proves A, I knew something, B, I could create something that people want because they freely parted with their money to get my thing and now if I went and by the time I got into high school I was making a lot of stuff and making a lot of money and I turned my parents a little basement in my little electronics production facility and by the time I got to college I was making insulin pumps for diabetics because my brother was then at the med school I was making all sorts of things that people needed and I was using the faculty there as advisors. I love learning. I think people said boy you were a terrible student and you hated school. No, those are two different statements. I love learning. To me that's what life is all about. I just don't do it in a way that schools are not a very efficient way for me to get information. I have a different board rate. I want to understand things at a deeper level perhaps or from a different perspective and some of the stuff they're teaching I don't really care about it all so I can't pay attention to it and if I need to I'll go learn it later. So that's a long way of saying I finally get 25, 26 years ago to a place where I have lots of engineers.

Different Skill Set (36:03)

My company now I have 500 engineers but back then I was looking for smart people. I was listening to this public debate, oh there's education crisis and I said boy there's got to be a lot of people out there that given the opportunity particularly girls that don't see how much fun tech is and I said if I can make it a sport like every other sport except kids that play it even one season will say it's more fun it's more accessible it's more rewarding than any of the other stuff I did will change their perspective and will change their life choices while they're still young enough to pick a different career and sure enough we started it and my belief was there may be kids that are great academically in school and they'll be on the team they'll be the the organizer the president of the team they're that's fine and then there'll be kids that didn't do well in school that don't do very well at multiple choice tests but give them a box of junk and say what could we do with this box of junk to turn it into something that's going to be better at getting balls over that wall than the other guy well whether you were good academically or not you might have a really good shot at shining and participating on that team and then that kid instead of feeling inadequate or stupid would say I just have a different skill set I just learned a different way but does it place for me I love that all right sadly I've got to get to my last question but before that work in these guys find you online I would suggest everybody goes to first first inspires I love to get more support for first anyway I can and if it's a parent we'll figure out to get it wherever they live these


days as you can see we'll get somebody from first to help them organize a team for their school if it's a company or an engineer that's willing to step in and be the role model and the mentor if it's a school that says yeah we need a team no matter who you are in our society the kid the parent the teacher the company everybody that gets involved in first gets more out of it than they put into it and they put in a lot I don't know how to get enough media attention behind first because there's now two kinds of schools there's the ones that have been transformed by first and there's the ones that have never heard of us what if we can get all the kids in the world on first teams because the language of tech is the same everywhere f equals ma everywhere what if these kids around the world could learn how to communicate and cooperate and be on teams helping each other build a future instead of learning from their parents how to destroy each other this could be the first generation due to technology of kids on this planet that could grow up saying we're all on the same team we're

Concept Of Gracious Professionalism


still competing but we're all on the same team we're competing all of us with global warming with access to food and cybersecurity and health care what if this generation of kids said instead of the mindless never-ending self-inflicted wounds of one tribe to another what if we get to them young enough to get them on first teams and by the way in first we don't call it a competition it's called a co-oportition because the kids all work together the robots some of them lose but all the kids win and we say you're in a co-oportition and you have to exhibit what we call gracious professionalism you have to be as competitive as you can to raise the bar to make it exciting to feel good about competition and winning but you can never do it at the expense of the other people it's gracious professionalism and it's a way to build a world that if we don't do it right you're not going to want to live in. I love that Dean thank you so much for coming on the show that was absolutely incredible guys this is somebody whose world you are going to want to dive deeply into it is absolutely astonishing what he's done with his life and I absolutely love the way that he set that question up that in school he felt stupid he felt like he was being beaten down by the system a fire hose and knowledge in his face he didn't know what to do he's going to the library he's trying to learn and ultimately realizes he can't give them what he wants and his only solution is to either see himself as stupid or let history be the ultimate judge and from that begins to look at the world in terms of the way of saying I can develop a certain skill set that skill set has value and can I create enough value that people will get things from me that will improve their lives and when you look at the laundry list of things that he's invented I think the answer isn't inequivable yes so to everybody watching I hope that this story inspires you to look at yourself that way to look at yourself and say what can I do what skill set can I gain go out execute against and become whatever I want to become so guys if you haven't already be sure to subscribe and until next time my friends be legendary take care hey everybody thank you so much for watching and being a part of this community if you haven't already be sure to subscribe you're going to get weekly videos on building a growth mindset cultivating grit and unlocking your full potential

Perspective On Failure



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