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Guest Lecture - Pablo David Cohn

Terrill Yazzie

David Pablo Cohn is an employee at Google who gave us a talk about creativity; since he works with a company that encompasses innovation and discovery. One quote that Cohn admires is, "I've not failed-I just found 10,000 ways that didn't work" (T. Edison). The statement is a reflection of real success-that it is not always linear and positive in correlation-because life is full of tangents and circumstances that divert the goal. One aspect of creativity that is hindered by the self is the imposter syndrome. This is a state of mind where a person thinks nobody else has failed; this feeling increases as one acquires further education in their field. To surpass the feeling, Cohn states that failure is inevitable, so one must accept failure as a way of life. This requires the creative person to understand 4 goals: 1) Plan for failure. 2) Fail quickly. 3) Learn from failure. 4) Adjust as necessary. This is accomplished by having a plan B; understand when you know you have failed and know what counts as failure-because it happens and denial is the enemy. Next, learn from your failures and iterate your goals, prepare yourself mentally, and practice affirmation. Believe what you say. Know why you are doing what you are doing. Have social support. Ultimately...fail better! This is done by fighting the lizard brain by abolishing the imposter syndrome and use failure to your advantage.

3 Questions

  1. Does the ideology of "failure as a way of life" span to all careers, because Seth Goden of Linchpin says you must find the job that accepts creativity?
  2. Is there a time when you regressed from your thinking of creativity and actually thought you failed?
  3. If one was to sell "failure as a way of life" for profit and use as their hook; what would be the failures you would have to address?

3 Future directions

  1. "Failure as a way of life" as an actual product.
  2. Start a university in computer science which uses Dr. Szauter and Dr. Werner-Washburne's strategy of creativity by getting undergraduates ready for the real world.
  3. Develop an on-line university that re-thinks the value of success and concentrates on personal values and growth.