CAAT mentioned in Sun Times over the weekend

A nice mention of our new high school by Sandra Guy in the Chicago Sun Times over the weekend… it’s really exciting to interact with many of these kids… a huge THANK YOU to all of the companies and individuals that have helped fund and support this new school. Much work to be done, but the second freshmen class is now being recruited!

<strong><a href=”,CST-NWS-ECOL01.article” target=”_blank”>Tech-driven curriculum powers new high school ::  CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Sandra Guy</a></strong>
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Lessons from Branson’s “Business Stripped Bare”

h/t to 37Signals for passing along Derek Sivers’ notes on “Business Stripped Bare” by Richard Branson. Some that resonated with me:

Money’s only interesting for what it lets you do.

I had never been interested in being “in business”. I’ve been interested in creating things.

Business is not about formality, or winning, or the bottom line, or profit, or trade, or commerce, or any of the things the business books tell you it’s about. Business is what concerns us. If you care about something enough to do something about it, you’re in business.

Would I have been happy without my successes in business? I’d like to think so. But again, it depends on what you mean by business. Would I have been happy had I not found concerns to absorb me and fascinate me and engage me every minute of my life? No, absolutely not, I’d be as miserable as sin.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you need to find a manager. Then you should move on, enjoy yourself and then set up your next enterprise.

The first law of entrepreneurial business: there is no reverse gear. No one in business can unmake anything, any more than a band can unmake a song.

Inspire your people to think like entrepreneurs, and whatever you do, treat them like adults. The hardest taskmaster of all is a person’s own conscience, so the more responsibility you give people, the better they will work for you.

Engage your emotions at work. Your instincts and emotions are there to help you. They are there to make things easier. For me, business is a ‘gut feeling’, and if it ever ceased to be so, I think I would give it up tomorrow. By ‘gut feeling’, I mean that I believe I’ve developed a natural aptitude, tempered by huge amounts of experience, that tends to point me in the right direction.

Innovation is what you get when you capitalise on luck, when you get up from behind your desk and go and see where ideas and people lead you.

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Creative kids don’t follow all the rules.

Entrepreneurs take risks and break convention.  Everyone wants a creative kid, right?  Jonah Lehrer shares thoughts on an interesting study

… which looked at how elementary school teachers perceived creativity in their students. While the teachers said they wanted creative kids in their classroom, they actually didn’t. In fact, when they were asked to rate their students on a variety of personality measures – the list included everything from “individualistic” to “risk-seeking” to “accepting of authority” – the traits mostly closely aligned with creative thinking were also closely associated with their “least favorite” students. As the researchers note, “Judgments for the favorite student were negatively correlated with creativity; judgments for the least favorite student were positively correlated with creativity.”

This shouldn’t be too surprising: Would you really want a little Picasso in your class? How about a baby Gertrude Stein? Or a teenage Eminem?

I’ve never been very good a coloring within the lines, myself.

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Honoring Illinois Fifty for the Future

Four years ago Fred Hoch and I sat in an airport lounge talking about how many innovative, talented students are educated in Illinois but slip away to other regions after graduation. We created an initiative to identify and recognize the fifty brightest students graduating from area colleges and universities that would eventually become leaders of the local technology community. From that first year scouring the state for the best talent we could identify, the program has now matured and tonight we celebrated the 2010 recipients of the Fifty for the Future program, an initiative of our Illinois Technology Foundation.


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A huge thank you to CompTIA for $150k donation to CAAT

Last year we started a new high school focused on technology and entrepreneurship. CAAT is a public high school operated by private partnership with Chicago Public Schools, and we’re now recruiting our second freshman class. These are motivated kids from the inner city that seek a better quality education, one infused with mentorship and interaction from local technology leaders.

Funding for this school is dependent on the generous support of local companies, and two weeks ago we were able to announce a $150k donation from CompTIA, the global IT trade association based in the Chicago area. CompTIA’s donation is a challenge grant, with a call to other local companies and organizations to match and support their contribution to help solidify the future of CAAT.

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Students from Chicago Tech Academy reflect on their first months

Just over a year ago we came together to found the Chicago Academy of Advanced Technology, and the school became a reality for 150 freshmen in September. We drew kids from all across Chicago, there were no entry requirements, except a motivation to work hard and learn.

CAAT Students

This is a new kind of high school in the inner city of Chicago, where kids have a chance to develop an aptitude that will transform their lives. The volunteers and donors of the Chicago tech community are critical to the success of this school, and will soon discover more opportunities to engage with the students.

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Boy Soldier, a photo essay

In honor of Veteran’s Day, a captivating photo essay from the Denver Post that follows the enlistment, training, service and struggles of a young man joining the US Army. It’s easy to forget that the warriors we send to battle are often just other people’s kids, and how great their sacrifice could become. 

The United States military is full of heroic men and women that defend our country and liberate freedom around the world… people who choose to put their lives and families on hold in the name of service.

But sometimes it includes kids who simply have no alternative, who lack the family and skills or opportunity and direction in life to succeed. In the best cases, the military becomes the family, provides the skills and direction, and is the opportunity those kids need. 

Some battles are born of necessity, some lurch from the poor choices and failed policies of politicians. Regardless, the American warrior has been a force for good throughout our history, and deserves the support of a grateful nation today.

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The public & private partnership behind CAAT

… increasing the number of stakeholders in public education… giving private-sector leaders an opportunity to give back and play a role in public school education is a fundamental opportunity for systemic change.

A nice article on the evolution of CAAT, from and for the perspective of government tech leaders.

I hope to share some nice announcements about our new high school over the next couple of weeks, stay tuned!

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How do you see your life?

An interesting recent poll… People often use metaphors to describe their life… Which ONE of the following do you think best describes your life?

A Journey: 51%
A Battle: 11%
The Seasons: 10%
A Novel: 8%
A Race: 6%
A Live Performance, Like a Play: 5%
A Carousel: 4%
Other: 2%
Unsure: 2%

The responses above were provided to participants and are well-known life metaphors from Western culture. For example, life as a journey is from Homer’s Odyssey (and the Epic of Gilgamesh should also be credited as well). Life as a battle is Homer’s Iliad. Life as the seasons is from Ecclesiastes and ascribed to King Solomon. Life as a race is from St. Paul. And life as a performance or play is from The Bard – Shakespeare.

Fascinating that there is minimal difference by age, gender or region… statistically the same percentage of 25 year olds and 55 year olds both see their life as a battle (or a journey, or whatever).

But I wonder if it’s the SAME people with the SAME outlook on life as they age, or if there’s some greater social balance at play. What if the the metaphor people used to describe their life evolved over time, but on a broader social scale this was a zero sum game?

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