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What makes Silicon Valley the most innovative place in the world? That is a secret which everyone would like to know and be able to apply to their own situation. Dr. Tina Seelig who has lived there and teaches a course at Stanford University on creative thinking explored this idea and has challenged the entire campus with simple mind stretching problems.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 Entrepreneurship as an Extreme Sport Distinguished Lecture Speaker: Tina Seelig 202 South Hall, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
This is the exact type of lecture that I need because, if you have been reading my blogs, you understand that I have lots of ideas and some of them may even be good ideas but other than a readership of 20 thousand per month they have come to nothing. Dr. Seelig makes the point that most people before they have a big success usually have lots ideas and have generally failed to bring several of them to success before their eventual success. By that standard I’m doing just fine. She encourages the acceptance of failure as a very important part of succeeding, in part because one can learn from the experience that they can cope and grow beyond. The important thing is to take chances that might have a meaningful reward. That idea has been sprouting in many places these days and is getting some traction which will be of benefit to everyone in the world because of the broadly applicable new inventions. Nassim Talab in The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable recommends a similar approach — be prepared for positive extremely unusual events and take big chances where there are potential big pay offs and little punishment for failure.
Tina Seelig of Stanford University

Tina Seelig after her Berkeley I-School lecture with Charles Scamahorn

I introduced myself to Tina as the biggest failure in the world and then tried to explain why I feel that’s true. This conversing with speakers after a lecture is a habit which I developed specifically in response to taking chances with potentially big pay offs. The slight embarasment of introducing myself is more than compensated for by the pleasure of the conversation and something important might come of it. In this case I did a very brief bit on The EarthArk Project and some questions about her lecture and how she might get Steven Colbert to stretch a rubber band around his current batch of political wrist bands. Another thought was putting large Post-it notes on public places with obvious problems seeking signatures to present to the proper governmental authorites.

I hadn’t read her book What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: A Crash Course on Making Your Place in the World before the lecture but ordered it from Amazon when I got home.

It was a fun couple of minutes, as you can see from the picture.