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lupe fiasco f/ jennifer hudson & common “remission”

as a follow-up to the motivational single “mission”lupe fiasco enlists grammy award winners jennifer hudson & common on his new track “remission”.  like the original song, “remission” was inspired by the fight against cancer.  proceeds from both songs go to the charity stand up to cancer, which raises funds “to accelerate the pace of groundbreaking translational research that can get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now.”  you can download “remission” heredonate directly to the cause here.  also, check out the su2c fundraising telecast (tonight @ 8pm est) to see the trio perform the song.

update: video of the aforementioned performance here.

related: jesús faces death with faith and bravadoremaking my voice

09/05/14 1 Comment

why everything you learned about success may be wrong

08/30/14 1 Comment

written by vanessa loder for forbes:

Our education system and society at large reward the idea of striving for perfection: getting an “A” on an exam, flawlessly executing a project, looking like the super fit people on the cover of most magazines; and yet, in the world of entrepreneurship, perfection is more of a liability than an asset.

I’ve seen the need for perfection stop many entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs dead in their tracks. Perfection paralyzes people. If you believe that you need to be perfect, you are less likely to take risks, and more likely to be afraid to take a single step because you don’t want to move in the “wrong” direction.

Because it’s easy to confuse perfection with success, figuring out how to navigate the perfection trap involves wading through some of the murkiest waters of entrepreneurship. True success involves more failure than most people realize, it also involves unlearning much of what we’ve spent our lives believing is “right.”

I believe the need for perfection is also deeply entrenched with the desire to avoid shame. We believe that if we are perfect, if we do everything right, then we are good people. Unfortunately, playing the perfection game is like trying to hit a moving target. And the target just keeps moving. You get good grades, get into a great school, get the most prestigious job, receive a promotion, find the ideal partner, buy the nice house, up and up you climb – trying to justify your existence through outward validation. Believing if you “succeed,” you’ll be happy and you’ll feel like enough. But it’s never enough.

From what I’ve seen, chasing external accolades often leads to a lack of fulfillment and a yearning that there must be more to life. And in the world of entrepreneurship, chasing external validation can cause collapse very quickly. Think about what it takes to “succeed” in most schools and traditional jobs today. You must follow the rules, avoid experimentation or classes you know you can’t get an “A” in, avoid risks, play it safe, and you’ll keep being rewarded. In the world of entrepreneurship, however, the rules are almost entirely reversed. Successful entrepreneurs are able to fail quickly, learn from their mistakes, and move on. “Prototype, prototype, prototype” is what one of our Stanford professors would always say. Trial and error and the classic ‘drunken walk’ – when your idea sways one way and then another before finding steady ground – are well known, and important, aspects of the entrepreneurial journey.

How can we reconcile these two seemingly contradictory ideas? We can’t. This is why many perfectionists avoid entrepreneurship, and those perfectionists who do give it a shot quickly learn that they must un-learn many of their current beliefs to survive as an entrepreneur.

Successful entrepreneurs are the ones who are willing to raise their hand and say, “I don’t get it,” or “I’m confused” rather than needing to look smart. These same people are open to getting it wrong. Rather than viewing failure as a setback, they view it as feedback and simply another step towards their future success.

Sheryl Sandberg has a large sign in her office that says, “Perfection is the enemy of the good,” a quote from Voltaire, and I couldn’t agree more. Here are 5 tips to let go of perfection and leverage your failures to create even more success.

1. Disentangle perfection and self-worth. To let go of the need to be perfect, we need to value ourselves for our intrinsic worth rather than our external success. Start to notice when you take failure personally, or when criticism feels like an attack on your character rather than feedback. Ask yourself “What is the gift or opportunity in this situation?” Focus on the positive rather than viewing it as a verdict on your inherent lack of worth. We need to believe we are enough. Brene Brown, PhD is a best-selling author who’s been studying shame and vulnerability for the last twelve years. She suggests printing a photo of yourself with the sentence “I’m imperfect and I am enough” as a caption and placing the photo in a prominent place – forcing you to see it every day – which will re-program your thoughts around perfection.

2. Create a Commitment Statement. Commitment Statements are great at getting people unstuck and, therefore, extremely helpful when you are paralyzed by perfection. A great statement to use to combat the perfection trap is “I commit to learning from my mistakes and moving on.” For full instructions on how to create a Commitment Statement, click here.

3. Take action. The most important thing you can do when you are paralyzed by perfection is to act. As soon as you do, you are no longer paralyzed. Start off small. Find a very simple and easy first step you can take to move yourself forward. I took almost two years before posting a single blog because I thought my first blog had to be “perfect” and go viral (no pressure, or anything). I finally decided to take action and wrote my first blog (ironically, or rather inspirationally, about perfectionism). The blog didn’t go viral, but less than six months later I’m writing for Forbes and that only happened because I forced myself to write something.

4. Find examples of people you admire who have failed. Think of someone right now who you look up to who had a big failure along his or her path to success. Everyone I know who is successful has failed many times. Kathy Ireland, who runs a multi-billion dollar company, recently said at the Forbes Women’s Summit, “I view failure as education, and I am very well educated!”

5. Play the flash forward game. Another way to get out of the perfection trap is to think of yourself at the end of your life looking back. If you were to say “I’m most proud that I….” how would you fill in that sentence? Chances are, you would rather try and fail then not try at all when you consider the big picture.

The truth is, no one is perfect. Deep down we know this and yet we continue to chase an ideal. Once you acknowledge this truth – instead of beating yourself up – you can live in a place of acceptance and empowerment. Choosing to learn from your mistakes and move on is the path to innovation, creativity, and successful entrepreneurship. So get out there and be perfectly imperfect!

related: the psychological origins of waiting (… and waiting, and waiting) to work | failing and flying100% life: muoyo okome

There is something about poverty that smells like death. Dead dreams dropping off the heart like leaves in a dry season and rotting around the feet; impulses smothered too long in the fetid air of underground caves. The soul lives in a sickly air. People can be slave-ships in shoes.

- zora neale hurston from her autobiography dust tracks on a road sometimes with art & communication, people choose between substance and presentation.  this is an uncompromising blend of both.

“there is something about poverty that smells like death”



a creative take on the common calendar


by artist susanna hertrich (1st spotted at artruby):

Chrono-Shredder celebrates remorse for the lost moment. It is a poetic machine with functions similar to those of a calendar and a clock: The device continuously shreds every single day, minute after minute, hour after hour. A pulse is given every 3 minutes, after 24 hours a complete day has been destroyed. Continuously, the tattered remains of the past pile up under the device as time passes by.

hertrich’s chrono-shredder emphasizes how precious time really is.  once it’s gone, you can’t recover or recreate it.  also, even though every second has a short shelf life, it doesn’t mean that you should easily forget them once they’re gone.  otherwise, you might have a big emotional/physical/mental/spiritual mess that’s begging your attention.  best to process your experiences as much as you can, and as often as necessary, to not only avoid that buildup, but to also give you a better sense of direction moving forward.

related: here’s a fresh way to look at a glass of water (and yourself)

Facebook can be depressing because everyone else’s lives are better than yours… But are they really?

one seedy aspect of social media is when people use it to make their lives seem better (to others or themselves) than they really are.  the short film what’s on your mind? does a great job highlighting this behavior and some of its consequences by showing what’s really behind one man’s facebook posts.

how does this video compare to your experience on facebook, twitter, instagram, wordpress, etc.?  via co.create.

related: real-life photoshop

what’s really behind your social media posts?


here’s a look at martin scorsese’s deliberate use of silence & the impact that it’s had on his work (raging bull, goodfellas, etc.).  while the video focuses on film analysis, i was struck by how much the discussion also applies to other forms of art & communication.  share any reactions in the comments.  edited/narrated by tony zhou. via explore.

related: martin scorsese on “reading the language of cinema” | to my oldest friend, whose silence is like death

the art of silence


the pleasure of teh typo

06/22/14 2 Comments



dedicated to the grammar nazis & the human auto-correctors. written by michael reid roberts for the american reader (via book riot):

Much of the exasperation my teacher-friends express confuses me. “How can an essay have so many spelling errors in the spellcheck era?” grumbles one. “If I see one more its/it’s mistake I’m going to scream” tweets another. I sense real ire from these people, or at least intense distaste. The typos and misused words offend them. And this phenomenon isn’t relegated to teachers; I often find this sort of disdain on message boards, comment sections, or any part of the internet where language goes unchecked and unedited.

I don’t understand these reactions at all. First, what is the source of this irritation? Do these typos or errors make it more difficult to read, understand, or evaluate writing, either professionally or personally? I always know if “there” is supposed to be a possessive or a contraction—it never tricks me! Then again I’m a pretty good reader; I can look at words and suddenly I’ve read them, without saying them or anything. But I also assume that these grammar sticklers are good readers too.

Perhaps a contempt for the authors’ ignorance or carelessness? This seems more likely, but wouldn’t this acknowledgement of superiority bring a kind of joy? If you are using your education to enforce class boundaries though grammar, then appreciate the chance to do so! That Ivy League school tuaght you to catch errors like these!

More importantly, though: do most people not appreciate the beauty of the word-error? It lets us take a tiny break from the onslaught of discourse and appreciate the form of language! Each mistake is a tiny narrative: what caused the mistake: greasy fingers, too-loud Ke$ha, a phonetic misunderstanding? These errors bring the body, with all its flaws, back to language. I can’t be sure, but I’m pretty sure that French (post)structuralist Roland Barthes would appreciate a good typo. For example:

The pleasure of the text: like Bacon’s simulator, it can say: never apologize, never explain. It never denies anything: “I shall look away, that will henceforth be my sole negation.”

So begins his brilliant and confounding essay “The Pleasure of the Text,” which describes my attitude towards textual errors at every turn. Later he describes the “text of bliss,” which seems to refer to typos and their kin: “the text that imposes a state of loss, the text that discomforts (perhaps to the point of a certain boredom), unsettles the reader’s historical, cultural, psychological assumptions, the consistency of his tastes, values, memories, brings to a crisis his relation with language.” To borrow another Barthes phrase, this “rustle of language” caused by unintentional mistakes slows us down a step, and forces us to consider, and even enjoy, the human element that lies behind the words we read. Let me outline a few of the different kinds of language errors and elaborate their various pleasures.

The typo

This is the simplest textual mistake you can make. It presumably reveals no misunderstanding or ignorance on the part of the author. A simple slip of the finger creates an error in the text, but rarely clouds intelligibility whatsoever. But what flavor they can add to even the most mundane chats or texts! I long for the days before standardized spelling. “Teh” is a favorite of mine because it elicits such a strange, stupefying sound; it is the onomatopoeia for the typo. “Htat” and “htis” are also pleasant on the eye and ear, and doublle (or especially triple) lettters force the gaze to linger and appreciate the construction of words. Simple typos like this rarely bring moments of sublimity, but they do act as charming stumbling blocks that remind you that you are reading human words.

The mistranscription

It seems to me that most people’s spoken vocabulary outnumbers their written vocabulary. The reverse can be true; for most of my school years I was afraid to mention faux pas or alma mater in conversation. But the (mis)transcription of speech to writing can serve as a joyful reminder of the shiftiness of language.

Some of these errors reflect an improper pronunciation into improper spelling: supposebly and expecially are favorites of mine. Does a student’s handwritten note that claims to have “expecially enjoyed” your class not drip with pathos? I could ask for nothing more evocative of the combination of empathy and despair that teaching rhetoric evokes.

Other examples consist of the author using a similar-sounding word (sometimes, but not always, a homonym) instead of the proper word. A remarkable number of these slips are Freudian: venerated becomes venereal; penal becomes penile. Once again, the body reasserts itself: how feudally we try to avoid our baseness with abstract nouns and latinate suffixes! Often these mistakes are mysteries to me; does the student who writes of “ejaculating refugees” actually say “evacuate” that way, or was it simply a typo? Or some dark, poetic metaphor?

The misused word/grammar error

These mistakes seem to inspire the most contempt in readers. So many OKCupid profiles forbid anyone “who doesn’t know the difference between its and it’s” from messaging. I can only assume that these banal criteria serve as one easily enforced method of determining the class and education level of a potential mate. I wonder how effectively most readers judge someone “sounding smart” through pronoun choice, though; a recent OKC study showed that men are more likely to receive responses if they use the word “whom,” whether they use it correctly or not. This news isn’t particularly depressing for me, but it shows what using proper pronouns/contractions/whatever is good for: a display of class/education/power that makes one more attractive (to a certain kind of person). I’m all for empowerment, and that is how I teach grammar to my students: a familiarity with non-communicative grammatical nuance has no value in itself, but it could be essential for a job or OKCupid message, so you probably want to learn it.

HOWEVER, I see the misuse of its/it’s and there/their/they’re as an act of rebellion, and I regularly include these tiny revolts into my everyday discourse. The increased usage of written (typed) communication by the uneducated, the young, and the disenfranchised is leading to a quick-moving destandardization of English (I’ll get into txtspk some other day). Do you really want to be a part of the old guard, enforcing prejudice against those who don’t know or don’t care about your rules of grammar or typography? Do you value a pristine text more than the people who create it? Or, to put it another way, there are to kinds of people in the world: those that see language as a test, and those who see language as a game. Ones alot more fun.


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