15 Quotes To Help You Think Differently in 2015

Originally published as a Linkedin post.

Inspirational quotes and sayings are one of the best ways to help us inspire change when it comes time for self-improvement planning before 2015: they can prompt us to look at situations differently, motivate us to reach that next level, or simply capture thoughts or emotions that make us feel better after a rough day. Sure, they look cute on calendar box sets and your high school friend’s Pinterest posts, but they can also have a profound effect on your attitude towards life if you let them. Here are some quotes to help you think differently…

..About Success:

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

..About Adaptability:

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but about learning to dance in the rain.” – Vivien Greene

..About Optimism:

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden

..About Bullshitting:

“If you’re really successful at bullshitting, it means you’re not hanging around enough people smarter than you.” – Neil Degrasse Tyson

..About Limitations:

“Our fears are mental. The mind that perceives the limitation is the limitation.” – Buddha

..About Throwing Away Opportunities:

“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, It might have been.” – Kurt Vonnegut

..About Perspective:

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” – Abraham Lincoln

..About Ambition:

If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” – Donna Williams

..About Doubters:

“People will kill you over time. They’ll kill you with tiny, harmless phrases like ‘Be realistic.'” – Dylan Moran

..About Expectations:

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it; it’s that our aim is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo

..About Complacency:

“Whenever an individual or a business decides that success has been attained, progress stops.” – Thomas Watson

..About Courage:

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill

..About Acting Over Complaining:

“It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” – Chinese Proverb

..About Valuing Others:

“I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.” – Galileo Galilei

..About Life:

“The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.” – David Viscott

If you enjoyed any of these, feel free to tuck them away for a rainy day or share with a friend. Happy New Year and good luck with your resolutions for 2015!


The Timing is Never Right


One of the biggest factors of anxiety that we have when starting something new is the timing. We always want to wait until the “time is right” when we want to do something that will create a change in our life.

I wanted to share a quote from a great book I recently just finished called the Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss:

“For all the most important things in life, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The Universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up all the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually’, just do it and correct course along the way.”

If you wait for the timing to be right before you make a move, you may never make a move at all. Great advice to consider as we approach a new month!

4 Ways The “Hacker School” Is Changing Education

Like many things in life, education is not a black or white matter. Despite all our advancements in technology, there is no formula that can compute the exact resources we need to provide an optimal experience for all hackerschoolstudents, no device we can use to measure the precise amount of passion a student has for a subject, and no machine that can measure exactly how effective teachers are. The closest we can come is qualitative observation and the quantitative instruments like grades and standardized tests. Educators and schools are working everyday to come closer to the ideal “educational approach”.

One such example is the “The Hacker School”. The Hacker School is a three-month, full-time school for programmers in New York City. It is completely free and different from traditional schools. It has no grades, teachers or formal curriculum, yet it succeeds in cultivating new passions, building new skills, and positioning programmers for future success. Here are some great ways The Hacker School is innovating education:

1. Encouraging Mistakes

To quote Mahatma Gandhi, “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” In a regular school day, we are encouraged not to make mistakes. On a test or quiz, a mistake results in points off the grade. On a standardized test like the SAT, a mistake can be the difference between your dream school and your second choice. The stress to avoid mistakes creates an unsurmountable pressure that can distract a student from the purpose of learning. Instead of truly wondering why an atom is significant to human matter, one is instead caught up in the struggle of choosing Answer A vs. Answer B. At the Hacker School, mistakes in programming are not only expected, but encouraged. The lack of grades allows a student the freedom to mess up without negative consequence. With the collaborative environment and no grades to stir competition, students are more than inclined to help others out with their problems. The freedom to make mistakes allows students to focus more on what they got wrong and work on that specifically.

2. No Curriculums

The lack of a curriculum also allows freedom for students to explore exactly what they want. For every subject, there is a vast array of subdomains that students must also study in order to complete a course of study in that subject. For example, to study Math, one must study Geometry, Algebra, Calculus, Logic, Differential Equations, and Statistics. These are all slightly distinct with a strong chance that you might dislike one or more of them. Similarly, in a field like programming, there are many different functions one can accomplish with a knowledge of a programming domain. You can work in website design all the way to I-phone apps; this lack of curriculum allows students to create their own motivations for learning by enabling them to create their own schedule and courses of interest. It also allows students to learn at their own speed, and satiate their own interests.

3. Teachers are “Facilitators”

Facilitators don’t come into the room with a lesson plan in hand and an understanding of the exact schedule of the day. Instead, they are there to simply help if a student needs help. Most projects are student-led with students setting their own benchmarks. Facilitators appear simply to help students reach these benchmarks by their side, instead of dragging them along into a direction they don’t want or need. According to Mary Rose Cook, a facilitator at the school, many facilitators are students too. “We have our own projects as well — so we try to work on cool, interesting things, both to keep us occupied and excited, and to act as inspiration for other people at our school.”

4. Emphasis on Culture

“Culture” is now a buzzword at many companies hoping to emulate the successful environments of Google, Zappo’s, and the like; it is important for employees to feel like the company cares and is invested in their success. At schools, this is no different. To create a warm and inclusive environment, the Hacker School has also created rules to ensure that every student is valued. In addition to the ban on sexist, racist, and homophobic remarks, the Hacker School also has a ban on condescension. There is no putting people down, pointing out negative remarks irrelevant to the topic at hand and no “feigning” surprise (I can’t believe you have no idea what Java is!”). Not only does this allow teamwork to flourish, but it encourages students to return day after day. At the end of the day, there is no school without students.

The bottom line is that The Hacker School encourages autonomy, teamwork, and most importantly: freedom. Putting the education into the hands of the students creates a real-world simulation of the power of responsibility. You only learn as much as you put in.

To read more about the Hacker School, check out this article on Mashable!

Life Lessons from Calvin and Hobbes

Anyone who has been fortunate enough to read the Calvin and Hobbes comics can all remember seeing the world through Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 12.41.52 AMthe eyes of Calvin. Whether it was our experience in a monotonous education system, our grapple with existential thoughts that had no easy answers, or simply our fantasy adventures through the airline of imagination, we all empathized with Calvin’s opinions and antics. Calvin and Hobbes not only provided a profound and relatable commentary on life, but taught us the power of friendship, non-conformity, and self-realization. Not bad for a comedian whose end goal was just to make people laugh! Here are some of the best life lessons we can learn from Calvin and his furry friend:

1. Life isn’t Fair

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 3.03.17 PM

To quote Mortimer Alder, “Love consists in giving without getting in return; in giving what is not owed, what is not due the other.” Sometimes we can give, give, give and not receive in return. Life is a confusing place and we just have to deal with it. Whether you get ripped off, rejected, or frustrated, know that you’re not the only one. Facing our obstacles can prepare us to achieve our successes with even greater strength and vigor. Whether you’re Lebron James or a Homeless Guy living on the steps of the capital, just keep swimming.

2. Don’t Ignore Simplicity

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 2.59.31 PM

Through the journey of Calvin and Hobbes, we rarely see Calvin spend a dime. There is a rare replacement to playing outside as a kid but as we grow, we seem to throw it away altogether. Sometimes, an immersion into nature can be refreshing. It gives you time for introspection, healthy exercise and gives your mind much needed serenity. There’s few things more beautiful than seeing a sunset or an array of gleaming stars. As the old proverb goes “The Best Things In Life Don’t Come in a $350 smartphone box”.

3. Welcome Criticism 

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 2.53.10 PM

Our pride makes us somewhat mechanical; We are naturally triggered to accept any advice or opinion that favors us and resent that which makes us unhappy. Sometimes a “swift kick in the butt” can be the perfect elixir to move us into a right direction or simply a different direction. Don’t be afraid to criticize others either; the more you spoil friends and colleagues with they want to hear, the less you are actually helping them. Tell Jake in your accounting group he needs to man up and start coming to meetings on time; he’ll get the lashing from his boss in the future eventually.

4. Set Reasonable Expectations

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 2.52.59 PM

Often, when we are upset or disappointed in ourselves, it is because of the perceptions and expectations that we place on our own actions. If we expect ourselves to excel in every aspect of life, we will be faced with cruel realities severely and frequently. Make sure that you don’t undermine your own abilities, yet keep your expectations realistic. We will tend to be more optimistic if we are cognizant of ourselves. Maybe you can’t do 100 pull-ups. Start with 20. or 1. or 1/2. Whatever fulfills you! We go through life with everyone telling us to “reach for the stars”. There’s no harm in trying; there is harm in wasting precious time on something that doesn’t fulfill you.

5. Learn and Embrace What Excites You

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 3.07.40 PM

School and work has a tendency for many to offer a confined set of subjects that one should understand and learn. Satiating our intellectual curiosity requires making the extra effort to read books, internet blogs, connect with people in our field of interest, and just absorb new and relevant knowledge from life. If we restrict ourselves to what we learn in school, we run the risk of losing out on a wholesome education. To quote Mark Twain, “I Never Let My Schooling Interfere With My Education”. Your experiences will give you as much value than your degree, if not more.