The Makings of an Innovation Commando

by Angela Noel

October 27, 2016

Galileo Galilei disrupted the status quo, challenging the beliefs of some of the most powerful people of the day — including more than one Pope. Considering Galileo lived during the time of the inquisition, ticking off the Vatican was kind of a big deal.

Along with pushing scientific boundaries, he developed mathematical instruments to either sell to the military or for uses in engineering. Solving problems and posing theories using observation, data, hard work, communication, rhetorical argument, and grit made Galileo a successful entrepreneur. Running afoul of the prevailing authorities of the day, the Catholic Church, made his story into a cautionary tale for all those who would speak truth to power.

Dipanjan Chatterjee could be the intellectual descendant of Galileo. He and others like him, hired by corporations to be an EiR or Entrepreneur in Residence, must find the courage to speak truth to their “corporate overlords” without losing their heads. They must bring new products and processes into systems fundamentally designed to reject anything that challenges the comfortable stability of the past in order to drive progress. Though the modern day Inquisitor is less likely to wear a robe, and more likely to shop at Brooks Brothers, EiRs face many of the same troubles Galileo did 400 years ago.

For example, Pope Urban VIII initially liked Galileo, supporting his ideas overall while asking him to go easy on the whole “earth revolves around the sun” thing. Unfortunately for Galileo, when his resulting book came out, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, the Pope found reason to be offended, hauling Galileo to Rome to defend himself. Dipanjan, as far as I know, hasn’t been called on the carpet by a religious official, but he continually faces the Sisyphean task of attempting to convince huge corporations to try something new without losing his job or his mind.

Luckily, he’s been preparing for this job all his life.

Continue reading “The Makings of an Innovation Commando”

Book Review: Indian Boyhood

By Angela Noel

October 20, 2016

Charles Eastman was a complicated man. I had never heard of him until my son and I visited the Baaken Museum on the banks of Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. I wandered outside of the museum, as Jackson built an electrical circuit, and read the placards placed at regular intervals on the terrace. Looking out over restored wetlands on the museum property connected to the lake by a snaking track of road, I learned that Mr. Eastman had lived near the lake as a child and later wrote a book about his early life as a member of the Santee Dakota tribe.

Intrigued by the opportunity to read about my adopted Minneapolis home through the eyes of a young boy raised in a Native tradition, I downloaded the (Free!) book Indian Boyhood, published in 1902, that afternoon.

I devoured it. Continue reading “Book Review: Indian Boyhood”

Wanted: Best Big Sister Ever

A Love Letter by Julia Zhang

October 13, 2016

I was a two-year-old preparing for the most important role of my life: Best Big Sister Ever. My parents told me it was my job to take good care of my little sister because she would look up to me, which is a big responsibility.

I relished responsibility. I loved to show off how great I was at doing jobs for my parents, like fetching my dad’s sandals for him, or helping my mom break the ends off string beans . . . taking care of a little sister was just another job that I could get pats on the head and praise for. I read stories with my mom like this one extolling the virtues of sharing, and practiced taking care of a baby with my dolls. As much as I rehearsed for my role, when baby Jenny came into the world, I was wholly unprepared for one thing – how much I would absolutely adore her. Continue reading “Wanted: Best Big Sister Ever”

Four Ways to Give a Child the World

by Angela Noel

October 6, 2016

“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”- Abraham Lincoln

Becoming a mother isn’t, in my opinion, a biological or a legal event. It’s a choice made with every action. Mothers build us, piece by piece. The tools they use differ. No two mothering methods are the same. Every mother would express what she wants for her children differently. But underlying all these differences remains a simple fact: Our mothers want the best for us. 

Often our biggest fans and sometimes our worst critics, mothers tell us truth even when we don’t want to hear it. They are the masters of the teachable moment. For example, my mother warned me that riding a Big Wheel in my favorite dress wouldn’t turn out well. When I shredded it under my plastic tires, just as she’d predicted, she didn’t scold me. Instead, she talked to me about cause and effect, how our actions have consequences and why. Many other such moments populated my childhood. Here are four gifts my mother gave me:

Continue reading “Four Ways to Give a Child the World”

Book Club Love

by Angela Noel

September 29, 2016

I recently attended a class on unconscious bias at work. The facilitator asked participants to think about this question: When was the last time you deliberately disrupted your routine? She gave us a few minutes to share our responses with others sitting nearby. Almost immediately, I knew my reply. Continue reading “Book Club Love”

What I Choose to Believe

By Angela Noel

September 22, 2016

I love finding money in my pants. I know it’s my own money in my own pants, but it still feels as if I’ve unearthed a hidden treasure. The routine of daily living can cause me to overlook something of value only to be surprised and delighted when I discover it again. I experience this same thrill whenever I encounter playful reminders of the creativity and kindness of my fellow humans in everyday life. Continue reading “What I Choose to Believe”

The Art of Goodness

By Angela Noel

September 15, 2016

Jenelle Masterson, self-described do-gooder, recently saved a squirrel from a terrible fate.

Her squirrel story begins with a cold. Feeling yucky, she dropped her twin, third-grade boys off at school and looked forward to a long nap. As she pulled into her driveway, she noticed a little grey lump on the sidewalk. Curious, she parked her car and walked over to see what it was. A dead squirrel lay on the busy sidewalk where children regularly walked. Jenelle thought she ought to move it. But then she noticed something else. . . he was still breathing. Continue reading “The Art of Goodness”

First Love

A Love Letter by Destiny Ely

September 8, 2016

Excited to write for Angela’s blog, I couldn’t wait to go home, open up the computer, and begin writing a letter to someone I love. Of course, my parents came to mind first, then I thought about my sisters or my amazing friends. The more I thought about it, the harder it was to choose.

While sitting on my bed, pulling at my bottom lip, because that’s what I do when I’m thinking, I realized I should write a love letter to myself. The most important kind of love is self-love. I can’t give what I don’t have; I need to love myself first before I can really love anyone else. So here is my love letter to myself, a constant  reminder that I am loved, and not just by the important people in my life, but by the most important, me. Continue reading “First Love”

Doing the Little Things Right

By Angela Noel

August 31, 2016

At six foot four, broad-shouldered and bearded, Joseph Vasterling looks every bit like the guy who earned a scholarship to play football at a now Division 1 school. At a practice before his freshman year even began, his hip flexor, the ghost of an old injury, screamed. His football career on the line, his coach asked, “Are you hurt or are you injured?” The implication was clear; if you’re hurt, rub some dirt on it and get back out there, but if you’re injured . . . goodbye scholarship. He walked back out onto the practice field under the blazing South Dakota sun only to watch the running back collapse. Joe decided then that football, a game he excelled at with minimal effort, wasn’t for him. He called his parents and boarded a bus for home. On that day and many since, he proved he has more in common with a reclusive 19th century poet than he does with a stereotypical jock. Continue reading “Doing the Little Things Right”

Saying Goodbye (For Now)

A Love Letter by Tessa Moore

August 25, 2016

Dear Kyra,

We told you for months that I was leaving for college, but it wasn’t until you were looking through my bottles of shampoo, laundry detergent, silverware, and soap that you finally understood. You turned around and crawled on my bed next to me. “I don’t want you to go to college.” Your six-year-old voice cracks with tears. Then, I had to hug you and let you cry. You didn’t know this but I was crying along with you. Technically, I was tearing up. But I wouldn’t be crying if I hadn’t tried so hard not to. Continue reading “Saying Goodbye (For Now)”