A friend—and founding editor of Stanford Publishing—told me the other day that many people who think they are an editor, are not. I’ve been acting as editor of UNREASONABLE.is for the past year, but I’m not a traditional editor. (I’m a 25 year-old, recently graduated business student with some startup and tech experience.)
This is not a traditional online publication, either. It is not just about polished content, but the people and action behind each author and story. So it’s necessary to unveil some of the inner-workings of UNREASONABLE.is and the people behind it.
These are the must-read articles on UNREASONABLE.is.
If you’re interested in learning how to, for example, design a water pump costing less than 1/12 of the cost of a typical diesel pump for farmers in rural India, ask Paul Polak (or, better yet, read his books). Reading Business Solution to Poverty while in college inspired me to get into development—and interview Teju and Daniel, co-founders of Unreasonable, for a college paper, which led me here.
If you succeed, against all odds, in designing a transformative, radically affordable technology, you are only a quarter of the way there. Tweet This Quote
Paul’s 23 years of experience as a psychiatrist coupled with his 30 years of experience building and scaling affordable, income-generating products allows him to make complex things simple, and that’s seen in the simple, eight steps Paul details in this post.
This past March, we began asking entrepreneurs for their greatest challenges and questions for us to send to mentors, who then respond. Chris Yeh—internet entrepreneur, angel investor, husband, father, author, and mentor—was one of the first mentors to respond to an entrepreneur’s question. This post was a hit.
You have to be willing to give people a chance to fail. Tweet This Quote
A little-known fact about Chris—other than attending Stanford at 15 years old—is that on top of volunteering his time as a mentor in Silicon Valley, running companies, investing, and authoring a book with Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, he always makes time to spend with his family, first and foremost.
While this post is fun and creative (definitely worth trying at your next dinner party), Jane Miller’s experience in corporate America and entrepreneurship is particularly insightful for young professionals, aspiring CEOs, and women business leaders, especially when it comes to soft skills.
Jane is the first mentor I met when I started at Unreasonable Group this time last year. In all honesty, I had no idea what I was doing. But her disarming presence and down-to-earth guidance helped me realize that these mentors aren’t here for business as usual (we don’t pay mentors who write at UNREASONABLE.is) or any self-serving agenda. They give before they get, and are willing to work together to support entrepreneurs.
Cheryl Heller, our most dedicated author—contributing more original content than any other person on UNREASONABLE.is—is an expert on design and communications.
Creativity is the product, and it rules. Tweet This Quote
As seen in this post, her understanding of people stems from experiences spanning from being a studio artist and a creative director in a billion-dollar advertising agency to facilitating conversations between communities and ex-convicts in California and Rwanda, and founding the Design for Social Innovation Department at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Although we address mentor whiplash when entrepreneurs attend our programs, entrepreneurs often feel overwhelmed with mentors and advisors telling them what to do with their business or technology. But, as Vivek Wadhwa explains in this article, “They shouldn’t let anyone stop them—no one really knows more than they do. As Peter Diamandis also says, ‘The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.’”
Vivek—entrepreneur, academic, and writer—has graciously let us syndicate his message for entrepreneurs around the world via UNREASONABLE.is—and we’re incredibly fortunate to have his opinions and wisdom as a part of the site.
This post and speech given at the GAIN Conference of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) will make you want to take action. Big oil beware: L. Hunter Lovins’ decades of work in environmental policy, climate change, and sustainable development—in corporations, governments, and academia—makes her a powerful opponent, and she is not afraid of confrontation when truth is at risk.
She is one of Unreasonable’s greatest supporters, but, because her time is in such high demand writing for the Guardian and other outlets, I couldn’t figure out a way to get her to write. Until I asked her if she would be interested in writing a response to Bjorn Lomborg’s campaign to fight poverty with coal. She replied, “Yes. I do. Have battled Lomborg on several continents… When do you need this?” The truth behind Lomborg’s campaign was published shortly after.
Like Hunter, Jigar Shah seems to share a personal vendetta against big oil. This article—backed with data—in particular cuts to the logic: “Oil companies will never create a solution to end our dependence on oil.” As an entrepreneur (he’s the founder of SunEdison), he is catalyzing the renewable energy industry through rigorous market-based solutions, investment, and creative business models that can acquire customers and scale fast. Together, Hunter and Jigar make a powerful team for sustainable business, and a dangerous opponent for big oil.
You can count on Ken Banks to ask the hard questions and push people to realize the dangerous fallacies and practices that have perpetuated failing development efforts over the years. “For the global development movement to be most effective,” he states in the piece, “it needs to have its own house in order first.”
His work in conversation, anthropology, and technology in Africa give him unique empathy often overstepped in development. He’s still working on new projects—tirelessly striving to put the power and knowledge into the hands of those who are in poverty’s grip. (Another favorite post from him: Who Know Best: Google or Mother Nature?)
As an internal activist, heretic, traveler, and social scientist, Manoj Fenelon challenges big business to tie its needs with those of society’s and individuals to parse spoon-fed information to create meaning. An understanding of international power structures, socioeconomics, and mainstream media allows him to work at the intersection of big business and entrepreneurship.
The market decides what the media will cover. Tweet This Quote
Our understanding of the world is handed to us on TV screens and computer monitors. Mediology arms us with the skills necessary to decipher truth—a foundational skill for independent thinkers to find creative ways to solve big problems, especially entrepreneurs.
The other week, I asked Tom Chi if he had mentors. He said that everything is his mentor. Normally if someone told me that, I would question their logic, relevancy, and grasp on reality. But not in Tom’s case. While walking to entrepreneur mentorship sessions at Unreasonable Institute earlier that day, he glanced at a pine needle. Observing its physical characteristics—green, flexible, durable—reminded him of a Chinese proverb that then gave him insights into entrepreneurship and adaptability. He then tied it back into our previous conversation on the dangers of creating false binaries—truth and innovation is usually between a falsely perceived either-or scenario.
That is something the GoogleX engineer does on a day-to-day (maybe minute-by-minute) basis. This post is an example of how he helps leaders and entrepreneurs rewire thinking about life and approaching big problems.
I made the fatal editorial decision of asking an author for a title suggestion (blame my youth). But, then again, I don’t regret it. David Howitt is an easy-going fellow that has the ability to introduce a wise and tactful idea inspired by Greek mythology followed by legal technicalities of that decision and how it could affect a business in the long run. His words: “I’ve been known to invoke the qualities of Pan [the god of mischief] and have slowly unbuttoned my shirt during a meeting just for the hell of it.”
Let your individuality shine at the workplace, and invite others to do the same. Tweet This Quote
While designing this post, my colleague, Cat, and I communicated strictly through memes the rest of the day to spice things up and get some laughs.
Humor and community are key factors to building relationships and teams, but rigorous and scientific methodology is essential for entrepreneurs taking on problems never solved before. Dr. Rebecca Calder’s work strives to further our understanding of how socially-driven startups can improve the lives of their customers.
Girls deserve access to menstrual hygiene information and products as a human right. Tweet This Quote
The world-renowned anthropologist and leader on girls and poverty has a soft spot for entrepreneurs. Her work brings evidence and data-driven decision making to startups trying to impact the lives of girls in poverty. Keep an eye out for more of her posts.
This is Daniel Epstein’s favorite story of perseverance and grit. His posts give the world insights into the personal growth of a young man hardwired to spur social change. To me over the past year, he has transitioned from a role model, to an intimidating boss, to a goofy friend, and back into a respected confidant and role model. He is willing to put his gut and logic on the line for feedback and progress. It’s rare to find a visionary who also has self-awareness.
Jeff Hoffman’s story speaks to the selflessness required in becoming an entrepreneur and leader—this line especially: “Your goal as a leader is to design yourself out of a job—to build a team that’s so good they don’t need you.”
For the past couple of years, Jeff has been traveling the world mentoring entrepreneurs and advising startup community leaders. This gives him unique opportunities to observe patterns and themes that reveal truths apparent in leadership regardless of culture and geography.
When I was in college, I began reading UNREASONABLE.is as part of a class assignment (we partner with university entrepreneurship classes to supplement their curriculum—that’s why we have a lot of comments during the school year and less during the summertime). Like many students who comment on Mark Albion’s posts, he responded to my inquiry within the hour. And what started as a Disqus thread led to a phone call and life-changing conversations with a man who’s been just about everywhere, spiritually and physically. He doesn’t care about the jargon or the resume—he cares about the heart. He argues that empathy helps shape love, and love is at the core of success—in life and business. Read the story and the paired commentary.
Teju Ravilochen understands the heart of the entrepreneur better than anyone I know. He’s spent countless hours empathizing amd learning with them, and becoming one himself. The Unreasonable Institute co-founder and CEO writes on a key sentiment shared throughout Unreasonable and entrepreneurs: We can’t do it alone. In his words: “Your strength isn’t held by you alone, but also by the people who march alongside you.”
The same friend who told me how many people think they are editors but aren’t editors also said the same thing about writers: many people who claim to be writers simply are not writers. But, we don’t house writers here at UNREASONABLE.is. We house people—scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, and others who are also mothers, fathers, and students—who build meaningful relationships and act on them.
Although we will always strive for moral and professional excellence, we’re not here to follow the rules. We’re here to learn, share, and support entrepreneurs as well as entrepreneurial activities that inspire hope and create meaningful progress.