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How Will Apple Dent the Universe Next?

by Teresa on September 19, 2014

Apple Inc. keeps disrupting industry after industry; and it looks as though payments at point of sale are next. Apple is hoping that their repository of consumer credit card information and their fingerprint reading technology will make them a natural leader in this category:

Apple Pay uses what’s known as a near-field chip to communicate with payment sensors at store checkouts. It works with Touch ID, a system built into recent iPhones that uses your fingerprint as a pass code. And Apple Pay promises to make transactions more secure at a time when major retailers, including Target and Home Depot, have reported massive breaches of their payment systems.

Apple already has what analysts believe is the largest cache of consumer credit card numbers in the world. In a conference call with investors this April, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company had 800 million iTunes accounts, the majority of which had active credit cards stored on them. (That’s up from 575 million in June 2013.)

For new Apple Pay users, the default payment will be the card that is already stored in their iTunes account. That’s one less hoop for consumers to jump through before they can start tapping and buying.

Dent the Future is a conference series that tackles the art and discipline of visionary leadership. The next Dent The Future conference is coming up March 22-25, 2015. Register here.

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Denter of the Week: Alanna Gombert

by Teresa on September 18, 2014

Each week from now through December, we’ll pose several short questions to a member of the Dent family and share their answers with you. This week’s Denter is Alanna Gombert, CEO of Gombert Consulting, a full service digital media consulting agency.

Say it in a sentence: Whether you’ve met you’re biggest goal or it’s still ahead of you, how would you like to be known for having dented the universe?
I want to help change the world in a positive way. Social good and the desire to better the world should drive commercial decisions. Specifically I would like to be known for disrupting the way content is distributed to consumers. More to come on that.

What would I know about you after we’d worked together for a year?
I’m obsessive about detail, loyal to a fault, and a believer in meritocracy.

What virtue do you prize most highly in those you associate with?
Loyalty.

If not yourself, who would you be?
I rather like being me. Although being Cady Coleman would be pretty awesome as well, as she gets to go to space.

Who else is doing interesting, universe-denting work right now?
So many people. My friend Laila Bokhari is certainly denting the universe with her work at LAMS (Laila and Amar School and College for Girls), a free elementary, college, and vocational school in Pakistan for mostly women students. She also is doing important diplomatic and peace keeping work in Norway. Truly inspiring.

Another “Denter” is my friend Laura Darby Singh, a woman dedicated to saving primates..be it chimpanzees, gorillas etc. She currently works for GRASP (Great Apes Survival Partnership) and is based in Kenya. She’s airlifted chimpanzees to safety and had malaria more times than I can count in the pursuit of her goals.

On the creative side, my friend Vincent LaForet for pushing the creative limits in photography, video, directing, and arm breaking. Google him.

And Elle Kaplan of course! I know she is one of us [Denters] but her approach to investment and women is bar none. Inspiring.

Question from last week’s Denter, Emmett Shear: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned recently?
That it is possible to start a company in one day.

What would you like to ask the next Denter of the Week?
What one thing would you like to do more of that you sacrifice for your day to day? And will you now make a plan to try to do it?

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Alanna Gombert is CEO of Gombert Consulting, a full service digital media consulting agency. Prior she was Head of Digital Sales and Strategy at Conde Nast and founder of CatalystDesk, Condé Nast’s digital media trading platform. Gombert joined Condé Nast from Google by way of Admeld, where she ran the trading desk, agency, and demand-side platform relationships and helped grow RTB from an idea to a killer business.

 Prior to Admeld, Gombert worked at Right Media, the first online advertising exchange, where she focused on ad selection algorithms and market dynamics. Right Media was acquired by Yahoo in 2007. Her early career included stints with Nielsen, DoubleClick, and the finance world with JP Morgan Chase and Commerzbank. Advertising has allowed her to travel the world, and she has experience in international markets, including EMEA, APAC, and Latin America.

 Gombert is also very active in the start-up community in NYC. She enjoys advising start-ups, angel investing, and is a proud board member of Rare Crowds and Snowball Technologies.

 

Dent the Future is a conference series that tackles the art and discipline of visionary leadership. The next Dent The Future conference is coming up March 22-25, 2015. Register here.

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Understanding the Neuroscience Behind Risk Taking

by Teresa on September 17, 2014

Our growing understanding of the physiology and chemistry of human behavior presents us with potentially universe-denting opportunities to hack ourselves and predict how others will behave in certain situations. For example, take a look at this recent New York Times article about the biology of risk:

When opportunities abound, a potent cocktail of dopamine — a neurotransmitter operating along the pleasure pathways of the brain — and testosterone encourages us to expand our risk taking, a physical transformation I refer to as “the hour between dog and wolf.” One such opportunity is a brief spike in market volatility, for this presents a chance to make money. But if volatility rises for a long period, the prolonged uncertainty leads us to subconsciously conclude that we no longer understand what is happening and then cortisol scales back our risk taking. In this way our risk taking calibrates to the amount of uncertainty and threat in the environment.

Under conditions of extreme volatility, such as a crisis, traders, investors and indeed whole companies can freeze up in risk aversion, and this helps push a bear market into a crash. Unfortunately, this risk aversion occurs at just the wrong time, for these crises are precisely when markets offer the most attractive opportunities, and when the economy most needs people to take risks. The real challenge for Wall Street, I now believe, is not so much fear and greed as it is these silent and large shifts in risk appetite.

Knowing this, our Federal Reserve could manipulate interest rates in ways that could prevent the boom and bust cycles that have so damaged our economy in recent years.

It has, in interest rate policy, not one tool but two: the level of rates and the uncertainty of rates. Given the sensitivity of risk preferences to uncertainty, the Fed could use policy uncertainty and a higher volatility of funds to selectively target risk taking in the financial community.

It may seem counterintuitive to use uncertainty to quell volatility. But a small amount of uncertainty surrounding short-term interest rates may act much like a vaccine immunizing the stock market against bubbles.

Dent the Future is a conference series that tackles the art and discipline of visionary leadership. The next Dent The Future conference is coming up March 22-25, 2015. Register here.

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The Center for Applied Rationality has broken out the decision-making and self-examination habits of particularly rational minds into a handy checklist.

Some of the my favorite habits are:

  • I notice my mind flinching away from a thought; and when I notice, I flag that area as requiring more deliberate exploration.
  • When facing a difficult decision, I try to reframe it in a way that will reduce, or at least switch around, the biases that might be influencing it.
  • I quantify consequences—how often, how long, how intense.
  • I try not to treat myself as if I have magic free will; I try to set up influences (habits, situations, etc.) on the way I behave, not just rely on my will to make it so.

Dent the Future is a conference series that tackles the art and discipline of visionary leadership. The next Dent The Future conference is coming up March 22-25, 2015. Register here.

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For Maximum Productivity, Take a Coffee Nap

by Teresa on September 15, 2014

When you’re running low on energy and you need to power through a day, it’s tempting to reach for that 13th cup of coffee; but what you really should do is drink that coffee and take a 20 minute nap:

It might sound crazy: conventional wisdom is that caffeine interferes with sleepBut if you caffeinate immediately before napping and sleep for 20 minutes or less, you can exploit a quirk in the way both sleep and caffeine affect your brain to maximize alertness.

The article goes on to explain the science behind the claim, which is pretty fascinating. Basically, it boils down to getting the neurological benefits of a short sleep during the time that caffeine needs to get through your digestive system and into your bloodstream.

I know I’ll be trying this the next time that I need to get through a long drive or sleep-deprived day on tour.

Dent the Future is a conference series that tackles the art and discipline of visionary leadership. The next Dent The Future conference is coming up March 22-25, 2015. Register here.

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Admitting Vulnerability Can Help Your Startup

by Teresa on September 12, 2014

According to The Atlantic, there’s a big problem in tech that nobody wants to talk about: depression.

Stress, uncertainty, youth and isolation—the virtual cornerstones of today’s startup—have all been shown to increase likelihood of developing the disorder.

In tech circles, depression is “more prevalent than anyone really talks about,” Brad Feld, managing director of the venture capital firm Foundry Group, and co founder of TechStars told me.

The competitive nature of the startup industry—less than 10 percent of ventures succeed—discourages people from talking about their problems and feeds into the myth that successful founders are confident and in charge at all times.

“The notion that you can be vulnerable, the notion that you can share a weakness, those are antithetical to the great CEO archetype,” Feld says.

Perhaps founders would be more effective leaders if they would buck the culture that encourages them to keep their feelings to themselves. Being brave enough to admit when the pressures of your job are unsustainable might just be the thing that separates a CEO who builds a company that stands the test of time and one that crashes and burns.

Dent the Future is a conference series that tackles the art and discipline of visionary leadership. The next Dent The Future conference is coming up March 22-25, 2015. Register here.

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Denter of the Week: Emmett Shear

by Teresa on September 11, 2014

Each week from now through December, we’ll pose several short questions to a member of the Dent family and share their answers with you. Our inaugural Denter of the Week is Twitch.TV CEO and Founder, and Dent 2014 speaker, Emmett Shear.

Emmett Shear speaks at Dent the Future 2014 in Sun Valley, ID. (Photo by Kris Krug) Emmett Shear speaks at Dent the Future 2014 in Sun Valley, ID. (Credit: Kris Krug)

 

Say it in a sentence: Whether you’ve met you’re biggest goal or it’s still ahead of you, how would you like to be known for having dented the universe?

Hopefully I still have lots to accomplish ahead of me. I want to be known for building great things and finding ways to turn things into positive-sum games.

What would I know about you after we’d worked together for a year?

I think through vigorous debate. You won’t be surprised if, after spending 2 hours discussing something, I come back with a completely different point of view the next day.

If your 18-year-old self could hang out with you now, what would surprise him most?

I’m a programmer and work in business! I was expecting to be a research scientist at 18. I was very certain.

What natural talent would you most like to be gifted with and why?

I try to have a growth mindset and so I try not to think in terms of natural talent. That said, I wish I could strike up and hold a conversation with just anyone. I find it’s the people you least expect who often teach you the most.

Which fault do you most easily tolerate in others?

It doesn’t bother me when people don’t follow social niceties. As long as we have interesting conversations and an authentic connection, I don’t care if someone reads their phone while we’re talking or forgets to call me back.

Who else is doing interesting, universe-denting work right now?

[Conflict of interest warning] My cofounder on Justin.tv Kyle Vogt has recently launched his new startup, Cruise Automation, which is a self-driving car company. Self-driving cars are going to be societally transformative and I think Cruise is going to be at the very bleeding edge.

What would you like to ask the next Denter of the Week?

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned recently?

Emmett Shear is an Internet entrepreneur and investor. He is the founder and CEO of Twitch, the world’s leading video streaming platform and community for gamers with more than 45 million monthly viewers. He’s a part-time partner at venture capital firm Y Combinator, where he advises fledgling startups on product and strategy. Shear also is a co-founder of Justin.tv, a general purpose live streaming site, and Kiko Software, the first AJAX-based online calendar. Shear graduated from Yale University in 2005 with a degree in computer science.

Dent the Future is a conference series that tackles the art and discipline of visionary leadership. The next Dent The Future conference is coming up March 22-25, 2015. Register here.

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To Improve Emotional Regulation, Encourage Sleep

by Teresa on September 10, 2014

It seems like the most popular metric for someone’s success these days is just how busy they are. If your schedule is jam packed and you’re constantly sleep-deprived, the thinking goes, then you must be really important.

But research shows that more sleep doesn’t just have health and cognitive benefits, it also increases people’s ability to regulate their emotions:

An abundance of research indicates that people who experience disrupted sleep, including obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia, are at dramatically elevated risk for depression and other psychiatric disorders. Insomnia is an important risk factor for depression, and has also been linked to a sharply increased risk of suicide among people who suffer from depression.

Given that anxiety and depression are public health crises that cost US employers $23 billion annually, perhaps encouraging employees to get more sleep would be a more effective way of keeping them at work.

Dent The Future is coming up March 22-25, 2015. Register here.

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The Search for Extraterrestrial…Pollutants?

by Teresa on September 9, 2014

In addition to monitoring for radio signals from alien worlds, another way of searching for extraterrestrial life might be to look at planets in certain types of solar systems for pollution:

Avi Loeb, an astronomer at Harvard University. [has] a new suggestion based on his experience here on Earth. Scan the skies for little, brown men – the chronic polluters. Astronomers have been able to glimpse the atmospheres of planets outside our solar system for a while now. And there’s a new space telescope scheduled for launch in 2018 that Loeb says, he could use.

The idea would be that when a planet like the Earth is passing in front of its host star a small fraction of the light from the star would pass through the atmosphere and show – potentially – evidence for these pollutants.

Certain pollutants don’t occur naturally. So if astronomers saw them that would point to industrial activity on the planet. And that would indicate intelligence. Loeb has published some calculations in the exciting, September issue of the astrophysical Journal Letters. They showed that if the new telescope looks at the right kind of star, the pollution will be detectable if it’s 10 times bigger than in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Dent The Future is coming up March 22-25, 2015. Register here.

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Drs. David Fedson and Steven Opal think that the use of drugs that have been traditionally used to treat people with cardiovascular problems and diabetes might help patients survive Ebola:

More than a decade ago, clinicians noted striking similarities between patients with Ebola and those with bacterial sepsis. Both diseases involve severe dysfunction of the endothelial cells that line blood vessels throughout the body. This dysfunction in turn precipitates major abnormalities in blood coagulation. Both can eventually lead to the failure of internal organs, primarily the liver and kidneys, and organ failure often leads to death. Something similar is seen in many patients with other forms of acute critical illness, including pneumonia and influenza.

Researchers have since discovered that abnormalities of endothelial function and coagulation can be modified or reversed by treatment with drugs such as statins, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs), which were developed to treat patients with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Known as immunomodulatory drugs, they also have the ability to modify the body’s response to infection. While they don’t prevent infection itself, they can prevent complications like organ failure. A clinical trial published in the journal Critical Care in 2012 demonstrated, for example, that early treatment of sepsis patients with a statin reduced the occurrence of organ failure (a complication that often kills Ebola patients) by 83 percent.

Perhaps one day these immunomodulatory drugs might be used in the treatment of patients with many forms of acute critical illness, including pneumonia and influenza, much as oral rehydration solution is used to treat patients with severe diarrhea, regardless of the cause.

Dent The Future is coming up March 22-25, 2015. Register here.

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