Where Genius Grows

Navigating a rapidly evolving world: - What does it mean to find your voice? - How is our world changing? - What keeps society together?
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Jan 9, 2017

"Oh, no! I'm shooting a fish in a barrel, but also I'm in the barrel, and the barrel's going over a cliff!"Alexandra Petri *

What does a satirist do? What is the satirist's role in society? What, in turn, is our responsibility to the satirist? And what makes for genius satire? *

Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) is a Washington Post humor columnist. In this interview she addresses the terrifying convergence of her desire to write dystopian futures with her job of covering the actual news. What's a political satirist to do when it's impossible to come up with anything more bizarre or ridiculous than a verbatim transcription of our elected leaders' words? *

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Jan 5, 2017

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At the beginning of 2017 there are over 500,000 unfilled tech jobs in the United States. How will applicants learn the required skills to succeed in these jobs? How will employers avoid overlooking qualified candidates? How will applicants from underserved communities gain access to the training they need to compete for these jobs? *

Tess Posner (@tessposner) is the managing director of TechHire, an initiative by Opportunity@Work to connect 100,000 people to tech jobs by 2020. In this interview she describes the steps TechHire is taking to accomplish this feat and how you can participate. Tess also offers her vision of a well-rounded 21st-century education, balancing ever-evolving technical expertise against an understanding of what it means to be human. *

Further readings Tess recommends include: *
- "The World is Open" by Curtis Bonk: *
- "The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies" by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee: *
- "Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future" by Martin Ford: *
- "Savage Inequalities" by Jonathan Kozol: *
- "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoevsky: *
- "The Apology" by Plato: *
- "The Republic" by Plato: *
- "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith: *
- "The Federalist Papers" by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay:

Dec 15, 2016

What role does Social Security Insurance play in holding together the fabric of society? How does it benefit children and the disabled? Why is it constantly under attack on Capitol Hill? *

Discussing these questions for this episode is Alex Lawson (@alaw202). Alex is the director of Social Security Works, an organization dedicated to protecting and improving the economic status of disadvantaged and at-risk populations. Alex details concrete action steps that you can take to defend Social Security Insurance against existential threats. *

In this interview, Alex recommends reading the book Social Security Works! Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All: *

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Dec 13, 2016

By now we've all heard of Bitcoin, but what is it and how does it work? How is cyber currency changing the way we conduct financial transactions?

Jesse Posner (@JessePosner) is a securities lawyer turned programmer. In this interview Jesse provides a primer on cyber currency, covering both its great promise and tremendous pitfalls.

For further reading, Jesse recommends: 
Satoshi Nakamoto's white paper
- The forum Bitcoin Talk:

Dec 8, 2016

When you're dining out with your friends, it's fun to get lost in the conversation. Nothing brings you back to reality as reliably or as fast as the drawn out hassle of negotiating the check.

Software developer Serge Amouzou (@SergeAmouzou) doesn't believe that paying at a restaurant should dampen our mood. Serge is the founder of Delect (@GetDelect), an app designed to simplify and improve your restaurant experience. You will enjoy Serge's predictions about how dining technology will very soon cut wait times, improve service, and allow restaurants to tailor your night out explicitly to your preferences.

Download the Delect app:
- for iPhone
- for Android 

Dec 7, 2016

"My credibility is everything. If I'm viewed as in any way uncredible, I will lose everything." — Avi Mayer

What does it mean to be a spokesman? When you are one, why is it critical to know before whom you stand? And why is it important to build relationships?

Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) is the spokesman for the Jewish Agency for Israel. In this interview Avi explores his path to becoming a spokesman.

The spokesman par excellence that Avi talks about is Abba Eban. Avi recommends the following two books on Abba Eban:
Abba Eban: A Biography

Dec 6, 2016

When we hear a major public speech, we often take for granted that it was written by someone other than the speaker. But does the speechwriter do justice to the speaker's voice?

In this interview speechwriter David Levey discusses the process of writing for a principal, discovering their needs and providing appropriate support. David cites examples of genius speech-writing and suggests actions you can take to cultivate your own speech-writing skill.

Dec 6, 2016

Given how many natural languages are out there that you will never learn, what would possess someone to study an invented language like Esperanto, Klingon, or Dothraki? And who on earth would take the time to invent one?

This question drove linguist Arika Okrent (@arikaokrent) to research and write a book about invented languages. In this interview Arika offers an overview of the most salient languages invented since the 17th century. She provides fascinating historical context about the inventors, their motivations, and the reception of their languages.

Arika's book is In the Land of Invented Languages: Adventures in Linguistic Creativity, Madness, and Genius: Arika is also a columnist for Mental Floss.

Dec 6, 2016

To an outsider, the political arena may appear vast and foreboding. How do you get anything done?

Mark Bayer (@BayerStrategic) is the founder and president of Bayer Strategic Consulting, a government affairs and communications firm. Mark has served as a chief of staff, both in the US House of Representatives and in the US Senate in a Capitol Hill career spanning two decades. In this interview Mark shares useful perspectives on advancing your political agenda.

Dec 6, 2016

The languages we speak define who we are. What were to happen if you discovered a language that changed the course of your life?

Sarah Aroeste (@SarahAroeste) discusses this in depth in this interview. Sarah has forged a remarkable international, award-winning career by singing in the Sephardic language of Ladino. Sarah talks about infusing both her own original songs as well as 15th-century Ladino folks songs with her unique blend of pop, rock, and jazz.

Sarah's albums:
Ora de Despertar -
Gracia -
Puertas -
A La Una: in the Beginning -

The movie featuring Ladino language with Tom Hanks: Every Time We Say Goodbye

Dec 6, 2016

What if there were no need to find your voice? And owning your voice, with full-throated pride, were a matter of letting go of obstacles nobody can put in your way but you?

Celesta Kirk is a voice teacher and the owner of SolfedgeStudio in Washington, DC. She holds that your singing voice is your birthright. In this interview Celesta suggests concrete actions you can take to claim it!

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