Six days til graduation

Two weeks ago, I caught myself reminiscing about my experience at Presidio while driving with fellow students to one of our last few presentations for Presidio.
It was a business plan pitching session for Capstone class. As I watched fellow students gave pitch after pitch of presentation perfection, I realize how far many have gone on their journey. Presentation ability is one of the trained qualities at Presidio. Many who have been shy in front of crowds have truly conquered their fear. I always had little fear in front of crowds. But I fear. As I step out of the comfort of student status and make belief work, the burden that lies before us seems insurmountable. Even with a community as courageous in thought and action as Presidio to work with, the challenge still seems too great. The need to completely re-invent the way we do things, the very culture of production and consumption, is monstrously large. I have hope that, at least in the Bay Area, sustainability is not a foreign word beyond Presidio walls. But the challenge is there all the same. With clarity comes confusion again. With the understanding of sustainability and the vision of an idyllic future, comes the tormeting desire for said future, and the fear that we will not get there in my lifetime.

Well, "Do or Die" as they say.

Presidio video

Check out this video about Presidio Graduate School.  It really conveys the sense of community and care that Presidio provides.

Fall Info Session from Presidio Graduate School on Vimeo.

Our Food is Making us Sick

If you eat food in the US, you must watch this 18 min video of Robyn O’Brien at the 2011 TEDxAustin. Hailed as Food's Erin Brockovitch by the NYTimes, Robyn is on a quest to uncover the secrets of American food production and how it is making us sick.

She also authored “The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It.” A former Wall Street food industry analyst, Robyn founded allergykidsfoundation.org after discovering her child developed an allergy to certain foods and started digging into the cause. She was named by Forbes as one of “20 Inspiring Women to Follow on Twitter.”

VC pitch

In this TED talk, David Rose talks about the 10 elements you must convey about YOU in a VC pitch:
  1. Integrity
  2. Passion
  3. Experience
  4. Knowledge
  5. Skill
  6. Leadership
  7. Commitment
  8. Vision
  9. Realism and
  10. Coachability

New corporate structures that combine mission and profit

In this excellent article in strategy+business magazine, Marjorie Kelly describes four companies structures that have harmoniously integrated both profit and mission.  Examples of these mission controlled yet publicly traded companies with revenues greater than $1 include: New York Times, Novo Nordisk in Denmark, Grupo Nueva in Chile, and Google with its integrated .org philanthropic department.  Read the article to learn more about each company's different control structure.  BCorp has now established as a possible structure for companies who desire to protect both mission and profit.

Sustainable Politics depends on Trust

But when it comes to politics, where over 300 million people are affected, and the issues are many, complex and interdependent, systematic trust building is necessary.  Often, what is promised simply cannot be delivered in a short timeframe due to the complexity of the task and unanticipated roadblocks.  In this case, the best tool for building systematic trust is transparency.  It doesn’t help that the media likes to quote leaders out of context, taking promises made years ago and contrasting it with a shortfall clip of today, without explaining the complexities and direction change in between.  Adding to this are the emotional attachments to each political party’s historical branding.  To combat this requires a place where facts are displayed for all to see.   This would at least provide some basis for objective examination, even if political affiliations tend to be based on emotion rather than intellect.

Obama started pushing transparency in his administration with his Declaration of Transparency.  The reviews are mixed.  It’s better than before, but this TIME article criticizes the lack of total transparency by the administration on the item of White House visitor logs.  Indeed, even when it comes to transparency, there are many gray zones since there are national security concerns around transparency.  But federal program performance should be visible, and to a large extent, it is more visible today.  USAspending.gov provides information on where the government is spending money, while Data.gov provides various data sets from government agencies.  Recovery.gov tracks recovery dollar funded projects and results, and the coming-soon Performance.gov will provide reviews of agency performance that will be taken into consideration as the White House makes budgetary plans.

Today’s issues are complex and increasingly interrelated.  Transparency should a priority factor in trust building.  Everyone will have their own opinion when it comes to politics; check out this Bloomberg piece on CEO ratings of Obama’s performance.  So it’s imperative to provide all the information necessary so that people can make an informed opinion.  It's the essence of good, sustainable politics in today's skeptic environment.

The Money Fix and the Unemployment Paradox

The monetary system operates on the premise of scarcity.  Less money is issued than needed in order to maintain the value of money.  So while there is plenty of work to be done, and plenty of desire to work, there is currently a lack of jobs.  Why the unemployment paradox?  This movie, The Money Fix, explains how money is created and its systemic deficiency that creates the unemployment paradox.  Communities are solving the problem by bartering.

The movie provides a good explanation of how money is created by the federal bank, gives compelling interviews of community bartering systems, and explores money scarcity as the reason for the unemployment paradox.  It is weak on explaining the finer details of some of its assertions, such as the assertion that someone in the system has to eventually go bankrupt due to the scarcity in the money supply.  Nonetheless, it is an interesting watch.

Now Mentoring: Advice for a new student

It's the beginning of semester at Presidio Graduate School, which means a new batch of fresh minds.  I remember well my excitement on my first day at Presidio.  I cannot believe it has already been two dramatic and lifechanging years for me.  Here are a few things that are useful to know up front:
1. Experience it to the fullest.  You get what you put into it.  Budget time to attend the social events, spend time interacting with the students, and go on ski trips with Presidio.  As with any school experience, by the time you graduate, it's who you know, not what you know.  So budget your time accordingly.
2. Spend time to reflect.  Expect to grow not just intellectually, but also as a person.  The questions that we grapple with at Presidio are borderline philosophical.  Spend the time to reflect, be philosophical, and get to know yourself all over again.  It will be life-changing.
3. Chill out, and roll with the drama.  Presidio is a young school and quite dramatic at times.  This can be distracting.  Learn to laugh about it.  Remember the passion and positive intention of the Presidio community, and use that energy to find common ground.  If you are politically inclined, use this opportunity to involve yourself in student government.
4. Start something.  One benefit of a new school is that you carve your own path.  Presidio is not for the lack of courage.  Leverage this friendly community to test drive something, anything. Every club or function at Presidio was started by a passionate individual who just said "I'm doing it."  Get involved, get active and get your hands dirty.
5. Go part time in semester 3.  I took semester 3 full time, and there are certainly benefits to this.  But if school is not your only gig, take semester 3 part time because the classes are top notch, and you wouldn't want to rush through it.

Good Luck and Have Fun!

If you are a new student and have specific questions, add a comment or send me an email.  I'll respond with a post.  I will keep it annonymous unless you request otherwise.