Archive for August, 2014

WSJ: “Teens Need Later Start to School Day, Doctors Group Says”

Thursday, August 28th, 2014


This entry is about the article titled “Teens Need Later Start to School Day, Doctors Group Says” by Sumathi Reddy.

The article starts with this main idea… “High schools and middle schools should begin the day no earlier than 8:30 a.m. to help teenagers get more sleep, the American Academy of Pediatrics said Monday in its first policy statement on the issue.”

The article continues by providing support for this idea. However, the correlation-causation case seems like it needs more consideration. Here are some of my thoughts on this issue:

– A fixed time such as 8:30 am seems unnecessary. We know that the circadian rhythms are biologically connected to sunrise and sunset times. Perhaps a more sound idea is that school should start at least 60 minutes after sunrise; and homework should be completable preferably by sunset (understandably impractical in general, and teachers should account for differing performance expectations after sunset – i.e., the amount of work that can be done in one hour during daylight time is less than that after dusk). So the solution – for optimization purposes – will differ based on latitude as well as daylight savings shifts, if applicable.

– A way to expand the timing benefit may be to not allow any college prep class in the first period (i.e., schedule PE, library, electives and other special courses). An alternative is to bring back a 20-30 minute home room period instead (Asian schools still have this, by the way).

– The article mentions the effect of blue light from electronics. There are also just routine home-based neurological stimulation factors – not just visual but with all other senses. A correlation-causation question arises around the influence of household evening settling time (sleep preparation) and bedtime on the lateness to which teens will go to sleep. Are parents sensitively aware that any noise during the desired sleep time could disrupt sleep? Laundry noise, television noise, working on computers, talking on the phone, etc. What about households which have pre-teens as well as teens?

– What recommendation can be made for weekends? Did the study follow the sleep patterns of the students on weekends? What about sleep patterns during holidays (both long and short)? Did sleeping in on weekends affect performance during the week?

– What is the effect of school-impacted sleep patterns on growth and body repair? Sub-optimal sleep is a chronic as well as acute health issue.

– This is not just a health problem, it is also an education problem (the article does suggest it). Educators need to be at the forefront as well. Educators control the settings and can have first-hand observations; health practitioners observe the after-effects and have little to no control over the settings. Parents should collaborate with both educators and health practitioners. Government should stay out of it.

– Are school hours set for adult convenience as opposed to educational optimization? If so, which is the priority? It’s not clear to me.

– There should be a no-caffeine rule prior to the start of school – and that includes educators as well as the students. I have observed teachers getting to school and starting the day with coffee. This is artificial stimulation and prevents teachers from being empathetic and sensing the appropriate pace to teach. Students (those not similarly caffeinated) cannot be expected to “connect” with the caffeinated teachers – and follow the teacher as they swing between caffeine hits. If caffeine is so necessary for teachers to get going, then it is quite apparent that school start times are inappropriate. [As an extension of this, perhaps teachers should not be allowed to intake any caffeine within 30 minutes of starting a class].

– I would suggest exploring the idea of inserting mindfulness or meditation times into the school schedule so that lack of focus due to disrupted sleep can be managed at school. You know the “power nap” idea, right? What are the heart rates of the students throughout the day? Is the pattern influenced by the amount of restful sleep?

So how does this relate to YCISL? It relates to some of the core ideas including:

– Use “youth” as an empathy advantage. Can our students incorporate sleep-related issues into their problem statement or solution? Can they be creative enough to develop a solution that would work for youth? Can youth see a solution that adults cannot otherwise see? Would students be able to persuade other students to adopt solutions that adults would otherwise not do so well?

– Mindset. Students need to understand the impact that sleep is having on their mindsets as well as performance. Without good sleep, can the mindset be positive? Without good sleep, can the mindset be attending to growth?

– Leadership. This is an opportunity for youth to speak up and be heard. Adults like to prescribe solutions that affect others but not necessarily themselves. Youth need to take a leadership role in ensuring a youth-centered and youth-accepted solution.

– Sustainability. What is needed is a sustainable solution that has a long-term beneficial influence and causes minimum inconvenience. Schools are forever experimenting with digressive and disruptive changes. This is unsustainable and confusing.

People: An Amazing Youthful Growth and Emotionally-Intelligent Mindset – Ku Hye-sun

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Few things in life resonate so powerfully.

My curiosity started out from the luminous talent I observed on the Korean tv drama “Boys Over Flowers” – not just acting, but also other remarkable talents, skills and traits that I could see – it drew my attention to actress Ku Hye-sun (구혜선) whereupon I learned of her record of creative skills and accomplishments. From this, I also am sensing her high emotional intelligence that has led to her continuing leadership experience and growth (e.g., sign language, music and art abilities). What setting and circumstance gives rise to such a meaningful personal philosophy and mindset? Most relevant to YCISL, she appears to be a person who is highly attuned to the “Your Personal Story” concept which serves as an exceptional example for our students.

The following is the information I found on the web that to me demonstrates her youthful growth-driven and intrinsically-motivated mindset.

1. Quoted from the Wikipedia entry for Ku Hye-sun (August 24, 2014):

“What is most important is to become the winner at the end/ultimately/finally. Right now is not the time to feel accomplished for what project is doing well or making that as a life’s goal. To me, what is more important is what kind of person I will live as and remembered. In my 20’s, a big hit came my way through BOF. But, I cannot be just stuck there. I felt that I need to mold/make myself even better and live my life even better. That is my life’s goal.”

She truly embraces the idea that success is a continuous journey (credit to Richard St. John for this idea). Her growth mindset is particularly clear and impressive. And she masterfully does it through intrinsic motivation.

2. Quoted from an article titled “More Than Just a Pretty Face” written by Claire Lee on ( based on an interview with Ku Hye-sun:

“I’m obsessed with documenting my ideas—all of my ideas. Whenever I get ideas for my art works, I either have to write them down or draw something right away. When I think of random melodies, I have to write a score on the spot. Otherwise I’d soon forget, and that’s the last thing that I want.”

“Everything that I do aside from acting and directing—painting, composing, singing and writing—is in fact what I’ve been doing all my life, ever since I was a kid. I started painting lessons when I was 6. Throughout my childhood I thought I’d become an artist one day. When I was in high school, I’d send scores of my own music to entertainment agencies in the hopes of becoming a singer. I had about 100 songs written when I turned 20. One of the reasons why I enjoy filmmaking is because I get to incorporate all of these things, music, art and writing, into one piece of work.”

She is a skilled practitioner in creativity and reflection, and her advantage is that she started from young and has managed uncertainty very well.

3. I listened to some of her musical composition from her Sketchbook “Breath” release – particularly the instrumental piano piece “The Sound of Rain at Night” which to me is an interesting aural parallel to the (visual) photo essay activity that we do in YCISL workshops. [I have also now listened to her “Happy” song many times too]. The focus that comes with her emotional artistry is remarkable. She shows mastery at the integration level of the YCISL leadership stage model.

To date, this is the first person I have found to embody the personal strengths discussed in YCISL. I hope to find more instances of people so exemplary in the YCISL ideals, especially those who possess youthful optimism like Ku Hye-sun. Having references such as this will be very beneficial to our young students.

4. [Added October 16, 2014] More of Ku Hye-sun’s positive and growth mindset is evident in an interview for Woman Chosun (original Korean source:; English translation available at Several of her thoughts stand out:

“I don’t think I get special inspiration. I just get it through my daily life.” Ideas come to us often times when we’re not focused on a particular problem and are more involved in routine activities. I get ideas when driving on the freeway. From this, we understand that inspiration is accessible by all.

“But, since I was able to tell my story, I felt I should take some losses.” Being able to share your personal story is an opportunity and victory in itself. Whether the storytelling influences the person hearing the story is not the only measure of success.

“But, for me, just the fact that something that I made came out to the world feels successful.” Simply going through the creativity and innovation process can yield the intrinsic motivation to continue. Valuable lessons in leadership can be added to the personal story.

“I am just going on my own path.” One’s personal story is like walking a path. There may be company along parts of the way while some parts might be travelled alone. What is observed or experienced is deeply personal, and a mindset that accepts that yields the positivity and growth one needs to feel intrinsically motivated.

“I give myself chances and I forgive myself.” Make the choices with confidence and feel that you are your own best leader understanding that mistakes can happen along the way.

From the above (translated) quotes, it is clear that she is intrinsically motivated to develop her personal story. What a remarkable role model for youth.

Idea: Can OOBE design count as a skill?

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Opinions about anything (people, places and products in the broadest sense) are formed quickly and the most influence on that opinion occurs on the order of seconds to minutes. It’s part of our rapid filtering process because there are so many things being sensed. And that initial opinion (bias) can never be completely erased. One of the things that goes on during product development is OOBE (out-of-box experience) design which is intended to craft the customer/user experience from the initial contact with the product until it is in basic operation mode. Apple is the best known in OOBE design especially from package opening to activation. Perhaps one of the most famous OOBE features is in the original Macintosh computer with its power-on sound. It gently provided the user assurance that the system was receiving power (the unplugged cable was a huge technical support issue back then) and that the user-friendly experience was about to begin (too bad for the Sad Macs). I learned about and worked on OOBE for a little while at Handspring. Before that, I had to be familiar with BOMs and the marketing requirements that went along with it. A Product Marketing Manager with an MBA qualification was the OOBE Lead but really it required a scientific approach to determine and achieve optimum OOBE. Careful research is required. We were focused on both external and internal factors but usually ended up being most selective with just a top few factors of what we thought would be the most influential. Funny story: I remember when a sticker would get attached to the product when a serious OOBE flaw was discovered after production. OOBE is more so important in product innovation because users will generally be having a first-time experience with the truly innovative feature and OOBE frustration could quickly become negative opinion. So in YCISL, where we take a guerrilla approach to innovation, OOBE design is a skill that should be coached to youth in order to optimize the minimum cost-maximum impact as well as competitive advantage. And since YCISL is a small group, we may be able to collectively analyze OOBE and practice it as a skill relevant to creativity, innovation and leadership. Even moreover, it would seem that excellent OOBE design could change the perception of sustainability as sacrificial as opposed to sensible organic growth.

Basic Introduction to OOBE (practice for YCISL activity mentors):
1. Choose a product.
2. Simulate user experience, taking photos at every step.
3. Evaluate each step with respect to visual, tactile and interaction experience. Also evaluate waste impression.

Outline of OOBE Evaluation Activity for YCISL:
1. Choose a product. Product should include packaging and collateral as well as the product itself.
2. Simulate user experience for 5 to 15 minutes (longer may be needed for multi-step set-up).
3. Evaluate visual, tactile and interaction experience and impressions of all materials. Were any sustainability features part of the OOBE experience?
4. Rate the overall OOBE experience including non-critical materials.
5. Repeat with a competing product. Compare.

Outline of OOBE Design Activity for YCISL:
1. Choose a product. Remove packaging and collateral, keeping only the main product and any required accessories.
2. Examine the product’s form and function.
3. Design packaging and collateral for the product. Add a sustainability highlight to the OOBE, if possible.
4. Evaluate the features of the OOBE design.
5. Have someone else evaluate and provide feedback on your OOBE design.

WSJ: “Revisiting Teenage Dreams”

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

In the Personal Journal section of today’s WSJ (Wednesday August 20, 2014), there is an article by Sue Shellenbarger titled “Teenage Dreams, 10 Years Later” ( which describes lessons learned from people watching videos they made during their senior year in high school – about their goals. In the article, this is called a “message to to my future self” and the students view their videos 10 years later.

We use videos of “graduating” students in YCISL too. At the end of every YCISL workshop, the students are provided a video camera to record thoughts from their visit – from the time they arrived at Stanford and through the workshop. Each student is allotted 15 seconds. All instructors and mentors move out of sight and earshot. The main purpose of the video is to remind the students of the parts of the experience that excited them. It is intended to serve as a reference point for them.

Somewhat in the vein of Tina Seelig’s “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20,” this WSJ article lists several “wisdoms” that the alums shared after watching their videos including:

– “Broaden your definition of success.” This is not as easy as it sounds. “Hindsight is 20-20” comes to mind – it is relatively easy thinking of regrets but how easy is it to think 10 years (or even days) out from now? Just as Richard St. John’s TED Talk title advises us “Success is a continuous journey” – and one should look for success (and happiness as well as opportunities for gratefulness) all along that journey.

– “It’s OK not to know what you want to do.” This should not mean that one does not have to think about their direction, strategy and goals. It basically recognizes that a change of plan is all right. A better way to put this is to “Think about what you want to do.” In YCISL, we recommend engaging in the elements of Daniel Pink’s Intrinsic Motivation – pursuing mastery, allowing for autonomy, and embracing a purpose. To address the article’s statement that “Often, young adults don’t find a clear purpose for years after graduating,” you don’t find a purpose (you find a passion), you define and embrace your purpose. And you start at the placement stage of the YCISL leadership model.

– “Don’t worry too much.” The article mentions that “a positive attitude helps.” in YCISL, we believe that positivity accelerates creative thinking and discuss how kids worry less than adults using Tim Brown’s TED Talk “Tales of Creativity & Play.” If high school students are worrying too much, they learned it from adults (see “The Importance of Childs Play” by Lenore Skenazy, WSJ 1/27/12).

– “Focus less on success and more on failing well.” There are more factors involved here than a simple thread of failures leading to success. There are support and timing factors, as well as competitive advantage and opportunity. A connecting-the-dots (successes, failures and corrective actions) agility is needed.


Training: Problem-Solution Attributes

Friday, August 15th, 2014

From this summer’s youth workshops, I learned to appreciate more the connection between problems and their solutions. Specifically, I learned to appreciate “attributes”, a term used by one of our docents at the Cantor Arts Center when she was asking students to look for visual clues in artwork.

A new skill that we will incorporate into our 2015 workshops is problem definition and problem statement development (it is a project rate-limiting step that takes a while to activate). For our training approach, we will use a reverse (people usually think of a problem first then the solution) thinking method where we choose a solution (they’re all around) then work out the problem they were intended to solve.

1. Look around you and pick an object to observe closely.*

2. What are its attributes? Think of both its forms and functions. Think of how you interact with it.


3. Describe the problem that this solution addresses. Remember that this is a trained skill so initially the thoughts may be slow to form, but we still want to use our creative thinking so do this step fast – within 30-60 seconds.

Repeat these steps as part of your training. Increase the detail of your problem description gradually – without becoming complex. You can develop scoping as well as depth skills. Apply your EQ as well so that others can empathize with the problem.

Bottom line: Practice this regularly. It should take no more than 3 minutes each time. Eventually you will understand how to form an effective problem statement by observing a problem that needs to be solved.

*Need a hint to get started? Pick something on you or in your pockets. Or look in your bag/briefcase. For something more challenging, choose something that you probably see often in passing but don’t really think much about it.

Supplement: Prepping for YCISL (White Paper Series)

Friday, August 15th, 2014

This is a supplement to the YCISL White Paper titled “Prepping for YCISL: Go for Breadth” which was recently posted to the CSDGC Youth Leadership web page. That white paper discusses the YCISL Leadership Objective of “Placement” and how prospective YCISL students can get ready for a future workshop at Stanford which focuses on the Leadership Objective of “Proof.”

This wiki entry shares some ideas on candidates for “Placement” and hopes to demonstrate a systematic seed and branch approach to surveying the opportunity landscape.



Primary Branches: Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello, Guitar, Flute, Singing, Songwriting, …

Secondary Branches: Musical genres

Tertiary Branches: Solo vs Duet/Quartet/Band/Chamber Orchestra/Symphony/Choir…

Quaternary Branches: For fun, amateur performance, competitive performance, professional performance.




Primary Branches: Swimming, Basketball, Soccer, Tennis, Golf, …

Secondary Branches: Self-taught, Lessons, Matches, Competitions, Leagues

Tertiary Branches: Spectator, Solo Participant, Team Participant, League Participant, Commentator, Writer, Coach, Referee/Umpire/Official, …

Quaternary Branches: For fun, amateur, competitor, professional



Seed: FOOD

Primary Branches:

Traverse these trees and you may come up with a compelling scene in your personal story.