There have been four people who have shaped my thinking over the years. I’ll list then in the order they affected me.
1. Sir Ken Robinson
I was able to see Sir Ken in 2006 when he came to speak to my university. He is very dry, witty and is very effective in conveying a message that we need to focus on not only reading, writing and math, but art and creativity too. I totally agree and have written a lot about it.
Here is his first TED talk which lays out his case.
What he taught me is the current educational system is not doing what we need it to do and in fact is hurting children in the long term.
2. Ray Kurzweil
Ray Kurzweil is a futurist and inventor who talks about the Law of Accelerating Returns. Essentially this means that the rate of technological innovation is accelerating over time. We don’t notice it because we live in a linear time space. He claims that we are going to experience the same amount of change in the next 20 years then we experienced in the whole 20th century.
Here’s a talk he gave which is fairly typical of his work.
What he taught me is things can change much faster than we expect.
3. Clayton Christensen
Clayton Christensen is a Professor at the Harvard School of Business. He is best known for his Theory of Disruptive Innovation. This means that large, established businesses can be targeted by smaller, more innovative competitors who approach from unexpected angles. The big companies don’t see it coming and therefore loose market share.
A typical example is Blockbuster video. They got blown away by online video such as Netflix and couldn’t adapt.
Here is him explaining his theory.
What he taught me is even things that seem set in stone can be changed. Just because a system or process has been around for 100 years, doesn’t mean it will be around for the next 10. Everything has a weakness and be exploited.
4. Elon Musk
Elon Musk is a recent addition to this list. He’s an very smart guy who made a bunch of money when he sold PayPal, then created a rocket company to go to Mars. He understands how to use the new technologies to achieve goals that used to require governments to do. I consider him the Thomas Edison of our generation.
What he taught me is anyone can have an impact now on the world. The Internet empowers the creative among us.