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Interview w/ VoyageLA | VoyageOhio

1 min read

It’s the small victories that prevent me from jumping out the window. – Unknown

Today is a special day for @staycuriousorg. The interview with VoyageOhio went live today. Being called a ‘Rising Star’ still seems odd, however, I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to collaborate them. Hopefully, it’s the first of many interviews to come. Let’s go Cleveland!!

VoyageOhio is part of the LA-based Voyage Group of Magazines. Their mission is to promote mom and pops, artists, creatives, makers and small businesses by providing a platform for these hidden gems to tell their stories in their own words.


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How It Started

1 min read

Origin Story

The concept started in San Diego, CA back in 2012. This Satori-like experience was born out of the onslaught of social media that was being thrown out into the web from family, friends, and complete strangers.

Millions of us sharing the fun times and personal experiences we were creating in life, the weekend activities, commenting on pop culture and headlines, sharing memes or the latest app that kept us entertained.

Yet, there we were, connected to everyone with tons of information and knowledge. Literally at our finger tips. Paralyzed by social media boredom. The ‘anchor belief’ for this commitment is simple:  Promote autodidactism by create a brand that inspires self-directed learning outside of your network, as well as within.

Almost 10 years later, the amount of distractions both online and in real life have grown insurmountably. Yet, the core mission still remains, help you kung fu your curiosity.

Think of staycurious.org as a whirlpool. A whirlpool has a definite form but no water stays put. This is how your curiosity should operate.


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Curiosity + Creativity = Innovation

6 mins read

If there’s an algorithm for Innovation, it must begin with two key components, Curiosity & Creativity.

These two words lie at the very foundation of every true innovative process. If great minds like Newton, Einstein, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci have anything in common, it would be these two qualities: Curiosity and Creativity. But let’s back it up and try to define these three words: Creativity, Curiosity, and Innovation algorithm.

Creativity is the innate ability to use one’s imagination to bring an original idea to life.

It can also be the use of original ideas to invent something; it can indicate a flash of insight otherwise known as the “Eureka” or “Light Bulb” moment. A good example of Creativity is Sir Issac Newton’s flash of genius as an apple fell while he under the apple tree. This event sparked a moment of creative brilliance that inspired Newton to develop the theories of Gravitation. Creativity would ensure that one can connect with the original ideas and convert them into material that can energize innovation. On the other hand, how can Curiosity be defined?

Curiosity is a passionate desire to discover and to know.

Curiosity is a subtle quality of great that mostly goes unnoticed. It doesn’t seem to garner as much acclaim as it deserves which is also makes it difficult for those who embrace Creativity without it to produce anything meaningful that truly impacts and changes the world. Curiosity has proven to be a precursor to Creativity time and again. One very notable example of Curiosity is the Ford Model T designed and developed by American inventor Henry Ford.

Ford is known to have made a quote which goes thus: “If I had asked them what they wanted; they would have said faster horses”. Henry Ford was curious about what other forms of transportation existed beyond the horses and the carts. This pushed him into a creative zone that was hitherto unexplored simply because of sheer curiosity. This curiosity made him into one of the greatest inventors America has ever had. His curiosity made the Ford Model T to be named in 1999 as the most influential car of the 20th century at the Car of the Century competition. By now, it is must be clearer how critical the qualities of creativity and curiosity are to the Innovation algorithm.

So, what’s the Innovation algorithm?It is a set of creative processes that work together to convert a problem into a solution.

In 1485, Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci conceived and mapped out plans and designs for a ornithopter (a device intended to fly through aid of human power). Leonardo saw a transportation problem that carts and horses could not solve and he got curious. He was known to be obsessed with flight so much so that he would buy birds in the market and set them free. He was always curious about how birds took flight, the position of their heads and wings, the settings of their tail wings, the shape of their bodies while in flight and so forth. This made him think of transportation in ways that were out of the conventional transportation of his day. It was never really known if Leonardo’s ornithopter worked.

Four centuries down the line, transportation by air would become a major issue especially in the military sector. In 1903, two brothers named Wilbur and Orville Wright made four flights at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. And they had successfully invented the first airplane. Was this a coincidence? Absolutely not! There is a link in creative processes. The innovative algorithm that solved the problem of human flight began in the 15th century in Italy in the curious mind of the Italian maestro, Leonardo da Vinci. And this curiosity birthed creative processes in inventors like the Montgolfier brothers -who developed the hot air balloon flight in 1783- and George Cayley in 1843 who published the biplane design until the Wright brothers came along.

It is safe to assert that Curiosity and Creativity exists in a loop or some sort of continuum that keeps the core process of Innovation alive. When there is a problem, curiosity must be engaged. We must ask “Why” like Henry Ford did. “Why” is the article of curiosity. When we ask why, it becomes clear how our imaginations must work to solve the problem at hand. Einstein is noted for saying: “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. Until curiosity is engaged and why is known, we cannot change our level of thinking.

Without changing the level of thinking, problems are never solved; they are simply recycled. As we become more curious about the ways to deal with problems, we become more creative in thinking of ways to solve the problem and the result is innovation that blows the world away.

Do you want your Innovation to blow the world away?

Embrace Curiosity and Creativity!

(Original Article Here)

What is an Autodidact?

19 mins read

Autodidactism: The ultimate guide to becoming a self learner

Ask any successful person how they feel about education, and almost all of them will tell you that education was a big part of their success. But with the skyrocketing cost of college, advanced education is becoming out of reach for a growing number of people. So how do you maintain and expand on your education without sinking into a lifetime of student loan debt? Enter the world of a little known practice called autodidactism.

In this very long article, we will explain what an autodidact is, why you should be one, and how to do it.

What is an autodidact?

So what is an autodidact? An autodidact is someone who studies new topics on their own in a deep and comprehensive manner. There are a lot of people who are curious about the world around them, but autodidacts take it a step further.

Instead of just visiting a museum or reading nonfiction books, an autodidact will get a textbook, perhaps even at the college or graduate school level, and take notes about what they learn. Depending on the field of study and their budget, an autodidact might even do some sort of lab work involving tinkering, experimentation, and hands on learning. The goal of autodidactism is to gain a deep understanding of the topic through self study.

Autodidactism vs lifelong learning

Autodidactism is related to the concept of lifelong learning. While some people bundle them together as one concept, we prefer to draw a distinction between them.

A lifelong learner is someone who keeps their mind active well into their adult life and old age. They probably read nonfiction, watch some documentaries now and then, and enjoy museums. They just stay curious and enthusiastic about any opportunity to learn something.

An autodidact takes it further than that. They don’t just learn, they actively study and take a deep dive into a subject, maybe even reaching a point where they can contribute new knowledge to the field.

If you want to use a fitness analogy, a lifelong learner is someone who lives a generally healthy lifestyle, while an autodidact is more like an amateur or even professional bodybuilder. The difference is really just a matter of depth.

Why become an autodidact?

At this point, you might be wondering why you should become an autodidact. We would argue that you not only should become an autodidact, but also that the world is reaching a point where autodidactism will become a necessity. In fact, we might have reached that stage already.

Many of the jobs available on job websites are positions that could be automated within the next decade. Cashiering and manufacturing jobs are already being handed over to machines, and truck driving will probably be automated within the next decade. The point isn’t to make a claim as to whether or not this is fair or right, but simply to say that it is happening either way.

The economy of the future will require people who can continue to learn new skills and continue to adapt. Everyone will be an entrepreneur to some extent, and that necessarily means you need to innovate. Those who are willing and able to pursue self directed learning are the people who will get ahead.

Famous autodidacts

Some of the great creators and thinkers throughout history have been autodidacts. Just to list a few:

Ray Bradbury

Author of novels in many fields, especially known for his science fiction works. Graduated high school during the Great Depression and couldn’t afford college. Instead, he went to the library 3 days per week for 10 years to continue his education.

The Wright Brothers

Invented the airplane. Neither one of them completed high school. They owned a bicycle shop to make a living and self studied aeronautics as a hobby.

Henry Ford

Founder of the Ford Motor Company. He did not attend college.

George Bool

Self taught mathematician and philosopher who made numerous contributions to both fields. In particular, he developed the field of boolean algebra, which lies at the heart of all computer logic.

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

Considered the father of microbiology. Mostly self-taught, he developed microscopes that were more powerful than anything else at the time. Used his microscopes to make some of the first ever observations of many common microbes.

Autodidactism is not dead

Many of the famous autodidacts listed above lived a long time ago. When reading about autodidacts from a few centuries ago, it is easy to criticize autodidactism as an outdated concept. You might be wondering if autodidactism even still works in our modern world.

Engineering applicants at Google are no longer required to have a college education. The book “Biopunk”, by Marcus Wohlsen describes a similar DIY movement that is taking place in the world of biotechnology.

Autodidactism is not an outdated concept. It is still possible to learn new skills and use them to build something meaningful without any formal training.

How to be an autodidact

If you have read this far, you are probably interested in autodidactism enough to become one yourself. Remember that autodidactism is really just the practice of deep, self-driven studying of a certain topic, so becoming an autodidact is mostly a matter of just picking up a textbook and getting started. But with that in mind, here are a few tips that you might find useful.

Tools for autodidacts

There are some tools available that will help you on your autodidactic endeavors. I won’t bore you with the obvious tools like Google and Wikipedia, but here some useful sites you might no know about. They are divided up by the goals they can help you accomplish.

Free books and textbooks

Project Gutenberg

Under copyright law, book copyrights expire after a certain number of years (the number of years varies by country). At that point, the book enters the public domain. Project Gutenberg hosts the full text of thousands of public domain works for free download.

Librivox

Similar idea as Project Gutenberg, except Librivox makes public domain books available as audiobooks thanks to the work of volunteers who read the books out loud and record it. The quality of the recordings can vary, but some are very good.

Wikibooks

From the makers of Wikipedia, Wikibooks offers free textbooks about a wide selection of topics. Most are incomplete, but this page lets you browse by their level of completion and find the ones that are done or almost done.

Free courses

Khan academy

This incredible resource is listed first for a reason. Khan Academy offers high quality video courses for free. They offer subjects ranging from kindergarten math to advanced finance, cryptography, and even LSAT preparation.

YouTube

There is an impressive amount of free educational content to check out on YouTube. There aren’t a lot of organized courses, but if you have a specific question you need help with you can usually find a video about it on YouTube.

Open Courseware

Many colleges including Stanford and MIT now post their lectures online for free. The easiest way to find them is through the Open Education Consortium. Just be sure to check the date, because some of them can be a bit old, especially the ones from MIT.

Paid courses

Treehouse

Most of the courses on Treehouse are about computer programming, but they have a large selection of courses within that field. A monthly fee of $25 gives you unlimited access to their courses.

Research papers

Google scholar

This little-known section of Google will only return search results from peer-reviewed journals, patent applications, and legal documents. Excellent for science and engineering topics.

DeepDyve

DeepDyve lets you pay one monthly fee of $49 to get unlimited reading from thousands of scientific journals. That might sound like a lot of money, but it really isn’t when you consider that a single paywalled journal article can normally cost $10-15 or more just to read it.

Don’t forget the library

With the entire internet at your disposal, it’s easy to forget about your local library. In fact, a trip to your library will often be far more productive than hours of surfing the web.

This is especially true if you want to learn about business, marketing, and related fields, but also for many other fields. A lot of the content you find online for those fields is formulaic, repetitive, and of very little value. But if you browse the shelves at your library you can find many hidden gems.

For other fields like science and computer programming, most of the good stuff is online. The printing cycle for physical books simply can’t keep up with the speed at which STEM fields are moving forward.

Math is an exception. I’ve found that a real math textbook usually has better explanations of the subject and much longer list of practice problems than what you can find online. And unless you are at the very cutting edge, math doesn’t change very much so math textbooks age well.

After spending some time as an autodidact yourself, you will start to get a feel for which topics are best to search online and which ones are best to get from a book. Just try a bit of everything and see what works for you.

How to remember what you learn

Whether someone is learning on their own or as part of a formal class setting, one of the greatest challenges to the learning process is the issue of trying to remember what you learn. This is where Lernabit comes in handy. Lernabit is specifically designed for autodidacts to solve the challenges of learning on your own.

By using Lernabit to keep track of what you learn, Lernabit can remind you to review it and make the memorization process a lot easier. Also, certain feeds in Lernabit will prioritize the notes you already have created about that topic that are due for review.

For example, when you search for a hashtag, any notes you have with that hashtag that are due for review will show up first. That’s cool because it helps you recall what you already know about the topic before learning something new, which provides context that helps the new information sink in. This and other features on Lernabit are carefully crafted to help you remember everything you learn.

How to stay motivated as an autodidact

At some point, everyone loses the motivation to study for brief periods of time. Sometimes you get tired, sometimes you are too busy, but in any case, it’s normal to lose motivation sometimes.

If you need a break from studying for a day or two, that’s fine. In fact, some time away from studying can help the information take hold in your brain. By leaving your studies to go enjoy a hobby, exercise, or do something creative, you can help the new knowledge form connections with existing information in your brain. So losing motivation sometimes isn’t really a bad thing as long as you get back on track soon before you start to forget what you have learned.

One of the hidden benefits of Lernabit is that it helps you stay motivated to keep learning. By actively reminding you to come back each day to study, Lernabit helps yo retain what you have already learned with just a few minutes of studying, even if you can’t find the motivation to do any new studying that day.

How to avoid becoming a quack

If not done properly, autodidactism can quickly turn into quackery. You’ve probably seen what I mean before. When I talk about quackery, I refer to the people who claim all types of miracle inventions and breakthroughs. I’m talking about the guy who claims to have built a perpetual motion machine or a cure for cancer that won’t get funding because “nobody understands it”. Becoming “that guy” is one of the risks you take when you learn something on your own without the guidance of someone who is already at the level you want to reach.

But in any field, those at the cutting edge are necessarily autodidacts. If you are discovering something that has never been known before, or if you are building something that has never been created, you can’t get guidance from someone who is already at that level because there is no such person. So how does an autodidact push the limits of their field without becoming a crackpot?

First, get rid of the idea that autodidactism and outside instruction are mutually exclusive. Just because you are learning something on your own, that does not mean you can’t learn from other people. In fact, that is exactly what you are doing as an autodidact anyway. If you study a textbook, somebody had to write it. If you read a scientific paper, somebody did that research. If you visit a museum, there was a curator who put together the exhibits with an intent to teach something. So don’t think that autodidactism requires you to be an intellectual lone wolf. Indeed, self directed learning with a dash of collaboration is precisely what is going on at the highest levels of academia.

Second, keep an open mind. Becoming an autodidact requires discipline, but it also requires courage. It takes courage to approach a tough academic subject without a teacher. It also takes courage to admit when you don’t understand something or when you are wrong. You absolutely must keep an open mind and be willing to change your viewpoints as you gain more understanding of a subject. If you admit when you are wrong and take that as a sign of poor understanding of the topic, you will eventually gain a deeper knowledge of your field. But if you hold on to misunderstandings and try to warp reality to line up with your biases, you put yourself on the fast track to loony land.

Conclusion

A true lifelong learner realizes that education is not something you get and forget about. It is an ongoing process that must continue throughout life. I hope this introduction to autodidactism has inspired you to pursue lifelong learning and given you some tools to help get you started on making your education a lifelong experience.


Original Article here.

The Art of Conversation

9 mins read

When was the last time you had a real conversation?

One not over WhatsApp or Hinge, or a brief catch-up / small talk exchange with your favorite barista? But a two-way exchange about something meaningful?

A new paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that people are too quick to pull the plug on a good conversation — thinking, mistakenly, that conversations that last for more than a few minutes are perceived as boring by their conversation companion.

A journalist recently spoke with Dr. Michael Kardas, a researcher at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and lead author of the paper, to discuss these findings in more detail. Here is a summary of the conversation.

What inspired you to investigate the topic of conversational dynamics and what did you find?

Having a good conversation is one of daily life’s most rewarding experiences, and yet people are often hesitant to set aside significant amounts of time for conversation because they’re concerned that they’ll run out of things to talk about and that their conversation will grow dull or awkward as a result. We wanted to test whether people have accurate intuitions about how much they will have to talk about and how much they will enjoy themselves as a conversation progresses. So we recruited pairs of strangers to have spoken conversations with each other, and we paused their conversations every few minutes to have them privately tell us how those conversations were going.

After the first few minutes of conversation, people tended to indicate that they were enjoying themselves but they also indicated that they thought they would run out of things to talk about as the conversation continued and that the conversation would become less enjoyable as well. But then we prompted them to continue their conversations and we again paused their conversations every few minutes to see how the conversations were going. And it turned out that people found more material to talk about as the conversations continued than they had expected, and they enjoyed themselves more than they anticipated.

What are the practical takeaways from your research for someone looking to have more meaningful conversations?

What these findings suggest to us is that people could allocate more time for conversations than they normally do, because they’re not likely to run out of things to say or to grow bored with the conversation as quickly as they might think. Of course, the longer that a conversation lasts, the better people get to know each other and the more meaningful these conversations tend to become. And so this mistaken assumption that people will run out of material to discuss in conversation might keep people from having longer and more meaningful conversations that might also lead them to form stronger relationships.

How does your research connect with, and inform, other research on conversational dynamics?

A lot of existing research looks at the overall quality of a conversation, whether that means how happy people feel after talking or how connected they feel to one another or how much they like each other. Yet relatively less research looks at the trajectory of a conversation as it progresses. Our studies suggest that even once people are having an enjoyable conversation, they might be hesitant to continue the conversation if they think that continuing the conversation is risky, or that they or the other person might run out of things to say.

But just as it’s hard to forecast exactly what another person will say when you say hello to them, it’s also hard to forecast exactly what topics will come up as a conversation continues, and this uncertainty seems to keep people from recognizing that conversations naturally flow from one topic to another and that there are usually many more topics to discuss than any two people could exhaust in a single conversation.

Are there personality traits, such as introversion, that might influence your general findings?

We didn’t measure introversion, but in one of our studies, we did measure how tired people thought they would feel and how tired they actually felt as a conversation progressed, which is something that many introverts may be concerned about in social interaction.

We found that people expected to grow tired significantly faster during a conversation than they actually did. Continual social interaction might eventually become tiring, but people seem to reach this point less quickly than they imagine ahead of time.

We also found that our results didn’t differ between people who spoke with someone of the same gender or the opposite gender, or between people who spoke with someone of the same ethnicity or a different ethnicity. In general, once people begin talking, they tend to find things that they share in common and these commonalities propel the conversation for quite some time.

What does this research say about a culture that is seemingly obsessed with bite-sized entertainment?

I think one possible implication of this research is that people may prefer shallower sources of entertainment through media and social media because they expect novelty to be the surest route to an enjoyable experience. And it’s true that novel experiences tend to be enjoyable, but what our research suggests is that familiar experiences, that is, interacting with the same person who you’ve already met, is also a more enjoyable experience than people expect it to be.

Setting aside more time for conversation with a friend you’ve recently made or for meeting new people might be a more positive experience than you think, and is very likely more enjoyable than most experiences you might otherwise be having, if those experiences don’t involve social interaction.

Do you have plans for follow-up research? Where do you hope to see the research go from here?

Whereas the current research studied people’s beliefs about the trajectory of a conversation, we’d also like to understand how accurately people can anticipate the trajectory of a relationship across repeated interactions over time. For example, people might assume after a few conversations that they’ve gotten to know another person well enough that future conversations will feel somewhat repetitive, or that they have little left to learn about another person. And this might keep people from pursuing deeper friendships.

Yet people are among the most complex objects that we come into contact with in everyday life. And so just as conversations remained rich with new material to discuss for longer than people expected in the current research, relationships might likewise remain rich with new experiences and new discoveries for longer than people assume as people get to know each other. This might be especially true when people are getting to know each other personally rather than on social media. We think that this more macro version of the question we studied could be a worthwhile direction for future research.

Original Article available here.

5 New Year’s resolutions for 2022 (even in a pandemic)

8 mins read

As we usher in another new year in the throes of a global pandemic, it’s time to call BS on diets that don’t serve us and habits that distract us from what we want to be doing with our lives. For 2022, I’m playing hardball by tossing soft and meeting you where you are — in your home, trying to make the best choices for your own health and that of your family.

New Year’s resolutions are personal and, crucially, optional — you don’t necessarily need to make any. But if you’re inspired to make small changes that could have big impacts on your overall well-being, here’s a list that might help.

Lean into a ‘slow morning’ routine

Think about the best possible start to your day. Does it involve savoring a cup of coffee while you read a book? Working out as the sun rises? Going for a quiet walk around the block? Listening to music or playing with your dog? Whatever it is, use the New Year as a new opportunity to refine your morning routine and slow it down for the things you love. Everyone’s ideal “slow morning” will be different, but carving out time for things that bring you purpose early in the day can lead to a more present work day, whether it requires waking up 30 minutes earlier or just reprioritizing your time in the AM.

Stop checking your phone first thing in the morning

We live, communicate and work through our phones, so it makes sense that they’re the first things we turn to when we open our eyes. And it doesn’t take much scientific study to conclude that scrolling social media or going through your inbox isn’t the best way for your brain to start (or end) the day.

But there is some science behind it. As Forbes reported, by reaching for your phone first thing in the morning, you’re “priming your brain for distraction” and disrupting the brain’s flow of different waves that allow you to be more creative and purposeful about your day. Staying on your phone for work-related matters hours after signing off can also inhibit you from getting a good night’s rest.

If you’re like many people who’ve considered cutting back screen time, there’s no better time than 2022 to start. There are different ways to improve screen hygiene, like using blue light glasses for work and reading a book instead of scrolling through your phone before bed. To cut back on screen time this year and reorganize your screen time, check out these tips.

Find a diet that keeps you satisfied (and won’t restrict you)

Finding an eating pattern that’s both intuitive and satisfies your nutritional needs can be tough, and daunting New Year’s resolutions that require you to completely switch gears for a diet that might be downright unhelpful.

This year, try subscribing to the advice of nutritionists and experts that work with you to create sustainable meal habits (also called the “anti-diet dietitians”). Chances are, you’ll start honoring food as the fuel our body needs to live and be healthy, make nutritious choices accordingly and become more expert about what your body needs.

Restricting calories can sometimes trigger binge eating, which can make you feel ill or lead to unhealthy habits. If you want to eat healthier but don’t want to sign up for a restrictive diet, make sure your plate is full of things your body needs first.

Practice your most creative hobby every day

In 2009, caregiver Bronnie Ware wrote a blog post detailing the top five regrets of dying people. A lot of news outlets reported on the list, it turned into a book and even inspired a TED talk. The number one thing on the list? “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

Many people may push aside their more creative pursuits because it doesn’t make them money or they feel they don’t have the time.

For 2022, I suggest you make the time, whether it’s 10 minutes of active daydreaming or an hour of active crafting, writing music, poetry, painting, graphic designing, figure skating, playing chess or anything else that inspires you. If you’ve been keeping it on the back burner, imagining the day you’ll have the time, 2022 is your year to make the first step.

Treat yourself the way you treat other people

Be as understanding with yourself as you are with other people: It’s the inverse of the Golden Rule. If your friend set a goal for themselves to exercise for 15 minutes each day, but they missed two days in a row, would you consider them a failure or would you tell them to just pick it back up tomorrow?

Probably the former, because unless you’re a robot, you know that someone experiencing a hiccup or less-than-productive day doesn’t undermine the value of their goal and all of the work they’ve put in so far. Sometimes, people just need a break to reconvene and figure out the best way to fit their new passion into their busy schedule. So why can’t we see that in ourselves?

Many people fall into the trap of thinking something has to be done perfectly or not done at all. While you may have already heard the phrase “done is better than perfect,” it’s worth repeating here. Picture it in the context of someone else’s creative journey, then give yourself the same space and grace. By learning to understand yourself the way you understand others, you’ll also start practicing self-compassion and you might just end up accomplishing more in the process.


Original Article and Author available here.

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