To-Go Bag

Soooo….shit went down and you have to get out of dodge. You’re in a state of panic with adrenaline coursing through your brain shutting down your pre-frontal cortex (that thing you once heard about in science class that is the source of your so-called “intelligence”) leading to impaired judgement. What do you grab? You’re handy Emergency-To-Go-Bag-you’ve-spent-a-small-fortune-putting-together-while-your-family-and-friends-laugh-at-you-for-being-a-paranoid-crazy-person of course!

Realizing I do not have said bag, I reached out to my combat veteran friend Michael Conaway for advice. I told him I decided on a GR2 as my pack and needed help building it.  I'm rationalizing a to-go-bag in the event of a fire or natural disaster (neither of which are unfathomable).

Upon mentioning this side-project, many friends asked for me to share Mike's thoughts. Below, with his permission, are his words of wisdom. Happy prepping! 



So to start, the most important weapon you have is YOU. You will need items to keep your body properly protected from the elements, and those items need to be able to function properly for potentially weeks or months without a wash or major servicing. High-end utility clothing is highly useful for protecting the body from the elements, and should help you get where you need to go without being overly miserable, which degrades performance at the objective.

I would recommend having 2 complete sets of the following items, 1 stacked next to your ruck for immediate wear, and the other packed in your ruck for daily rotations.

Other clothing items you will probably want to accumulate for differing seasons as ready items:



You'll eventually die without water, so a good filter is a must have:

Katadyn Pocket Filter

Katadyn Pocket Filter

As well as something to carry the water. You could put a camelback bladder into your ruck if that fits your needs.



MRE's are pretty great for preparedness. You can purchase entire boxes of MRE's from military surplus stores or online. There are alternatives like dried foods and camp stoves, but you will likely be able to acquire food items like that after a few days on the go anyway. MRE's are usable without any additional end-items required and can be stored for decades before use. If you are going to purchase MRE's though, open every MRE bag and field strip all of your MRE's so they are ready to go. That means removing all of the inner boxing and most of the redundant items that come in each pack. You can essentially pull out all of the foil packs with actual food in them within each MRE, recombine and streamline them as you see fit, then bundle your completed meal builds together with a thin band of duct tape. Each of these compact food balls is then much slimmer and lighter than the original MRE, which will allow you to carry more usable calories. (You also probably only need 1 or 2 of the MRE spoons even if you are carrying 10 meals. They are pretty durable spoons.)  There are a number of other benefits to carrying MRE's, most notably that they are scientifically formulated to give you a shitload of calories and all the normal vitamins and nutrients you need to actually survive.

Also, don't plan on eating three meals a day. Under survival conditions, you should try to ration yourself to a single meal per day in order to keep functioning for as long as possible while searching for additional food supplies.  It will suck, but you will survive just fine.  You even get used to it after about a week.



You wont function well if you can't sleep, so you will probably want the following items:

(With the above combo you will never need a tent! Just wrap your ruck in your poncho to protect it from rain, and you ball up in your waterproof 1-man cocoon.)

And you will probably want a weather proof bag to protect all the items in your ruck in case you need to keep moving in the rain.



In the modern era, electricity is important for keeping your gizmos functioning. The longer your gizmos work, the more likely it will be that other people's will not work, thereby placing you in a positional advantage by default. If you are traveling on foot, it may be helpful to bring a passive charging kit in your ruck to keep your gps, nightvision goggles, and any advanced sensors or optics working. I personally have, and would recommend the following:

As a general note, try to streamline all of your devices to use the same battery type like AA, then you can carry a set of rechargeable AA's for the solar panel.

Nightvision (

GPS (Go with a water proof stand alone, or put an offline GPS app on your phone like Oruxmaps. Oruxmaps will let you download basemaps to make an offline map)

Compass (

Radio (


Innovation for Dummies


In 5 seconds, while listening to an interview with Derek Sivers, I heard the best innovation advice in all my years practicing and reading about the topic.

If you want to build a successful company, service, or product...

  1. Find a need that people are proving they're willing to pay for and,
  2. Find a profitable way to solve that need for them.

That's it. All of those books, articles, famous quotes, classes, canvases, and tools are an attempt at how to do it. Because, as it turns out, it's really...really hard. This is in large part because, contrary to popular belief, the human brain is not designed for thinking making us prone to cognitive biases that lead us astray. Countering these biases and looking to accomplish the two goals above led me to practicing and honing my skills in three activities.


Activity one: Frustrated and Desperate

Find these people. Innovation is about creating value for people, not novelty. Find people whose only alternative is your solution or nothing at all. People who would gladly use your crappy MVP because even in its incomplete stage is a painkiller and not a vitamin. Without clear evidence that you've found a real need don't move forward. If you are wrong about this, nothing else matters. The goal here is to discover need. 


  • Use surveys to discover need
    • People are really bad at telling you what they need or predicting their hypothetical future behavior
    • Surveys can be a powerful of way to validate need, but should not be relied upon to discover it in the first place.
  • Use focus groups to discover need
    • Groupthink is very real and, combined with your confirmation bias, can quickly lead you to false conclusions.


  • Learn ethnographic research methodologies
  • Learn Design Thinking
  • Learn Lead User Research by Eric Von Hippel from MIT
  • Learn Journey Mapping


Activity two: Assumptions. Assumptions. Assumptions.

Really good chance this is your team.

Really good chance this is your team.

I believe the number one reason new ventures fail is because of a disconnect between assumptions and reality. Therefore, spending resources to (a) uncover assumptions and (b) stress test those assumptions is of the utmost importance. Constantly get in sync about what is true and what to do about it. Ask yourself "Is it true?" How do you know? Recognize that conflicts between assumptions and reality are essential for high-preforming and innovative teams (i.e. teams that regularly create value).

Tools like the Business Model Canvas, The Value Proposition Canvas, The Environment Canvas, etc. are at their heart methodologies for uncovering assumptions in your customer segment, value proposition, and business model. Learn to make use of these exercises.


activity three: Experiment

I believe companies adept at using data to drive experimentation will win. Nature uses multiple strategies rather than a monoculture to solve problems. The diseases that threaten us constantly mutate, changing their tactics, making discoveries, hitting on breakthroughs, finding ways to disarm our drugs. Nature's research and development is based on billions on billions of experiments. It is a resilient, decentralized, and widely diverse scheme. Take a cue from nature.

"If it disagrees with experiment, it's wrong!"

- Richard Feynman

In my own work, recognizing alignment between need and solution is most crucial, I've used a modified Javelin's Experiment Board. It's a hybrid between the Value Proposition Canvas and Javelin's Experiment Board.

80% in 5 Minutes

Get really good at finding the frustrated and desperate, uncovering your assumptions, and experimenting to accomplish two goals:

  1. Find a need that people are proving they're willing to pay for and,
  2. Find a profitable way to solve that need for them.

With that you've learned 80% of what innovation is all about. All of those books and materials on the subject will add nuance and color. Good luck!




Accelerated Learning

How can we learn faster? Recently sat in on a panel to discuss how breakthrough technologies like VR/AR, simulations, and neuroscience are impacting education and corporate learning in coming years.


Experiential Technology?

Experiential Technology (XTech) is technology that directly improves the human experience. XTech products combine digital technology with advances in neuroscience to improve human performance. XTech products are impacting several $100 billion+ industries including health, wellness, learning, training, sports and entertainment, creating new growth opportunities. XTech is fusing new digital technologies with evolving neuroscience principles to achieve improvements in human performance in fundamentally new ways.

Relevant Technologies

  • Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality
  • Artificial Intelligence & Deep Learning
  • Experiential Sensor Technologies (i.e. EEG, galvanic skin sensors, eye tracking, etc.)


Accelerated Learning

This panel discusses how the latest advances in neuroscience, XTech, and gaming are being used to accelerate learning and improve the emotional and cognitive performance.

A few time marks:

  • 16:30 - Competency Based Education & New Business Models in Education
  • 41:16 - Micro-Credentialing & Online Talent Platforms
  • 54:30 - The Neuroscience Behind Learning & Applied Skills

Future of Assessment

Think of assessments in education, and you probably think of end of term tests, where kids sit in rows of desks, with a set time to answer identical questions. But in a world that increasingly values what you can do and not just what you know, this model of testing is outdated.

It is widely known that end-of-year assessments are an important way to help teachers understand how their students are performing. However, these grades are only one part of a wider toolkit of resources that teachers need in order to support student learning. What if we could find a way to accurately reflect student progress while learning is still happening, so that teachers could support their class in an even more targeted way? And what if we could make some assessment all but invisible by building it into an educational game?

In this video, colleagues at Pearson explore how developments in digital technology can help us support teachers in evaluating how students are learning through real-time, ongoing assessment, giving relevant support and feedback that helps learners understand and improve their performance. 



A Minimalist's Guide To Bartending

There comes a time in life when mixing coke and rum does not suffice. For young 20-something year old men this involves over investing in bar furniture, bottles of liquor, and cocktail making accessories.

Facing this moment I asked a minimalist bartender friend advice on starting a home bar to which she replied...

"You don't need much. You need whisky for people that like whisky. You need gin for people who don't like whisky, and you need tequila for getting drunk."

Words of wisdom. She was then kind enough to give me the following recipes. Enjoy!



Drink: Old Fashioned

Bottle: Old Overholt Rye Whiskey

What You’ll Need:

  • Double Old Fashioned Glass
  • Wood Muddler
  • Big rock ice maker
  • Jigger
  • Regans’ Orange Bitters
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Raw Cane Sugar
  • Fresh Lemon

When To Make: When you ask your guest if they like whisky and they say “yes.”


  • Add 1 teaspoon sugar, 2 dashes angostura bitters, 2 dashes regans’ orange bitters, and 0.5 oz water into Double Old Fashioned Glass
  • Muddle until you no longer hear the sugar crunching
  • Add big ice rock
  • Add 3 oz whisky
  • Add a few lemon drops
  • Stir



Drink: Gin Gimlet

Bottle: Hendricks Gin

What You’ll Need:

  • Coupe Glass
  • Shaker
  • Jigger
  • Ice cubes
  • Fresh lime
  • Homemade simple syrup

When To Make: When you ask your guest if they like whisky and they say “no.”


  • Add to shaker:
    • Ice
    • 0.5 oz fresh squeezed lime
    • 0.5 oz simple syrup
    • 2 oz gin
  • Shake well
  • Pour into coupe glass



Drink: Shots

Bottle: Don Julio Blanco

What You’ll Need: Don’t get shot glasses, unnecessary. Use the Coupe or Double Old Fashioned glass from above recipes.

When To Make: You’re looking to expedite the inebriation.

Recipe: Pour into Coupe or Double Old Fashioned glass.

Why You Should Rank Your Relationships

In Relationships I claim you should reject the first 37% of people you date. This concept came from a wonderful TED talk by Hannah Fry on the mathematics of love. In it she outlines how to apply Optimal Stopping Theory in choosing "the one."

I recently sat down with Lee Noto on her show My Whole Life to talk about dating, rejecting 37%, and why you should rank your relationships. Check it out below along with access to the spreadsheet to try it out yourself. Enjoy!

My Whole Life with Lee Noto - Episode 3: Why You Should Rank Your Relationships

Ranking Spreadsheet (Note: Watch Video First)


  1. Click on the spreadsheet image below and make a copy to edit

  2. Edit only YELLOW cells

  3. Start with FORMULA tab and add your categories/percentage weights

  4. Add relationships in column c of RANKING tab

  5. Score 1 - 10 for each relationship/category

  6. Adjust categories/weights/scores as needed

Student-Centered Learning

In Death of Education, Birth of Learning I outlined how technology is enabling paradigm shifts in curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

In order to realize these paradigm shifts, This Will (Not) Revolutionize Education focused on how pedagogy must come before technology.

This piece is an example of the above principles. Here at Pearson, our Future Technologies explored student-centered learning (SCL) and asked ourselves:

  • What could we offer that would help teachers bring student-centered learning into their classrooms and help students delve into areas of passion and discover new ones?
  • What are the needs, the obstacles, and the gaps we’d have to address if we want student-centered learning to flourish?
  • Can we put natural learning the classroom that engages everyone, while still linking activity to what teachers are being held accountable to?


Student Autonomy vs. Teacher Accountability

Early into our research it was clear that teachers implementing SCL activities experienced a natural tension between student autonomy and teacher accountability. The more standardized the school the greater the tension. Mandated curriculum, to which teachers were being held accountable, had to be covered. Deviations from this were seen as a risky luxury. We often heard comments like “If I let my students do what they want, then they will just play,” and “How do I know they are learning what they are supposed to?”

Learning from and working with these progressive practitioners we built Fiona, a web-based application to alleviate the tension between student autonomy and teacher accountability in implementing student-centered learning.




Fiona starts with the belief that the role of the teacher is to spark and nurture student curiosity through strong relationships.


Scaffold student-led inquiry

  • Support the inquiry process: Fiona leads students through stages that support an effective inquiry process, such as prediction, production, feedback, iteration, and reflection.
  • Formulate questions: Fiona supports students’ transition from answering other people’s questions to learning to formulate their own.
  • Manage chaos: Students learn more when they learn together, plus they develop social skills, collaboration, and communication. But for all its strengths, group learning also suffers from some common pitfalls. Left to their own devices, students might stray off task. Fiona structures a process so that self-directed inquiry can be effective.


Maintain teacher accountability

  • Link to curricula: When students choose what to pursue, it’s hard to tell whether the required curriculum is being covered. Fiona allows you to upload your own curriculum and shows who’s covered which topics and where there are gaps. It also suggests ways to link unique student interests to the curriculum.
  • Integrate assessment: With Fiona, assessment is integral to the process, not a separate activity. Fiona tracks student processes and products all along the way, from their question formulation, to their pursuit of their inquiry, to their contributions to others’ inquiries, to their deliverables.
  • Convey skill development: Teachers need concrete evidence of learners’ skill development. Fiona identifies the skills being practiced, and displays students’ progress towards mastering them. It highlights strengths and points out weaknesses — and ways to address them.

Fiona is still a prototype but we’re always looking to connect with practitioners. If this is of interest to you shoot me an email.

This Will (Not) Revolutionize Education

“The motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system and that in a few years, it will largely supplant, if not entirely, the use of textbooks.” -  Thomas Edison 1922

In the 1930’s radio was predicted to revolutionize education. The idea was to beam in expert knowledge directly into the classroom thereby improving the quality of education for more students at lower costs.

In the 1950’s studies were conducted to determine if students preferred watching a lecture live or sitting in an adjacent room where the same lecture was being broadcasted on a television.

In the 1980’s computers were the revolutionary solution to our educational woes. While limited in capacity, their future potential was obvious.

By the turn of the century, smart boards, smartphones, and tablets began entering classrooms only to meet the same fate as technologies of the past.

Today, advances in artificial intelligence promise to revolutionize education by bringing personalized learning to all. A digital tutor of sorts. Side note...personally I don’t like the term “personalized learning.” All learning is personal. What most people seem to mean when they say “personalized learning” is individualized education. A different concept altogether.

Each wave of technology promises to improve the quality of education for more students at lower cost while requiring fewer skilled teachers. A theme common to all the proposed educational revolutions. Aspiring entrepreneurs promise “this will revolutionize education,” yet to no avail. So why has this been the case? I believe it is because many efforts have placed technology before pedagogy. The opposite should be the case.


Pedagogy Before Technology

By and large, students are still taught in large groups by a single teacher as the sole arbiter of information. If you view the role of the teacher as a distributor of “knowledge” (i.e. content), then technology in the classroom has faced a natural friction. Two entities competing for the same role.

So what is an alternative relationship with technology as an educator? I believe it is one of symbiosis. One in which the natural strengths of teacher and student relationships are combined with technology’s speed and breadth in personalized content delivery. Pedagogies that support this model do exist, yet they are not the norm. Look at the following image.

Immediately it’s clear that technology plays a supporting role to relationships and learner curiosity. NuVu Learning Studio in Cambridge Massachusetts has an incredible environment where technology is used to support the teacher’s role of mentorship and problem solving alongside students. In this context, I do believe many technologies have the power to bring alternative learning pedagogies to scale.

The role of an educator is to spark and nurture curiosity. To build strong relationships and scaffold student ownership of learning. It’s the teacher’s job to point young minds towards the right kinds of questions. Technology in this context can be incredibly powerful. So long as you understand an evolution is happening, not a revolution.

10 Books That Changed How I Saw The World

I know it’s not what the cool kids like to do, but I like to read non-fiction. Lots of nonfiction, and my favorite moment reading nonfiction is when a book slaps my brain and completely alters my view of the world. I love it. It’s like entering the woods with nothing more than a journal and a child-like sense of wonder. In no particular order, here are 10 books that convinced me I knew nothing.



What it's about:

As humans, we are inherently biased against noticing both the number of random events in our lives and the impact these events have on us. Taleb calls these events Black Swans. Black Swans, due to the exponential scaling of technology, are becoming more common. Therefore, we should build up systems (and ourselves) to be “antifragile,” that is to construct our lives and infrastructures in a way that benefits from the volatility of major events.

For example, stress on a manmade machine will deteriorate the machine. In contrast, a lack of stress on the human body will deteriorate the body. As a such, you should frequently seek out stressors to improve any system including you as an individual.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

Natalie Portman, in her black swan costume, tripping you on the treadmill with an evil smile as your face heads straight for the wall.

Read this book if:

Your workout consists of running on the treadmill, using the elliptical, or any other such machine.



What it's about:

Advice and musings of an incredibly successful venture capitalist on what does (and does not) make startups successful.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

A screenshot of an empty bank account because, recalling all those soccer trophies you won as kid and your mom telling you were special, your “amazing” business idea turned out not to be.

Read this book if:

You hear the siren call of silicon valley.



What it's about:

How the most effective leaders communicate and why companies like Apple gain cult followings.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

Justin Long standing next to John Hodgman.

Read this book if:

People stop listening when you start speaking.



What it's about:

The reason established companies talk a lot about innovation but fail to deliver.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

Bill Lumbergh standing over your cubicle with a coffee mug telling you the company needs to be more innovative.

Read this book if:

You decided to make the “responsible” decision by working for The Man, are now working in a cubicle, and are secretly envious of your friends working at startups.



What it's about:

How humans are merely summations of their habits. Duhigg makes a very compelling case for understanding habit loops and developing a framework to alter them.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

Looking at your credit card statement and seeing a pattern of Dunkin Donuts charges next to your gym membership fee.

Read this book if:

You suck at New Years resolutions.



What it's about:

How we as humans inaccurately judge what made us happy in the past, what will make us happy in the future, and even what is making us happy right now.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

A dog named “Humanity” chasing it’s own tail with a big slobbery smile.

Read this book if:

You find yourself in credit card debit because that new dress was "such a great deal!" 



What it's about:

Challenging social norms around sexuality, marriage, compatibility, and lifetime monogamy. It makes a strong argument for how lifetime monogamy, established through marriage, is actually a recent human development.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

A 5 year old holding a one dollar bill in the right hand and snickers bar in the left, staring longingly in the candy isle, while his mom tells him he can only pick one.

Read this book if:

You have ever questioned the institution of marriage or monogamy.



What it's about:

Why thinking is so hard.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

A kid huddled over his laptop reviewing the SparkNotes version of The Great Gatsby at 1 am.

Read this book if:

You make terrible life decisions.



What it's about:

Why people give in to fanaticism, fundamentalism, or extremist ideologies.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

An open hand, heading straight for your face.

Read this book if:

You think you are always the “rationale” one.



Note: This is not officially a book. Nevertheless, it’s a must read and can be downloaded for free by Googling Ray Dalio’s Principles

What it's about:

You have no idea what you believe (i.e. principles) and people who spend time to critically articulate and challenge their principles are most likely to get what they want out of life.

If this book could be summarized in a picture, that picture would be:

Mike Tyson punching the crap out of a training bag called your Ego.

Read this book if:

If you think you know what you believe. You probably don’t.

Death of Education, Birth of Learning

We are witnessing the death of education, but the birth of learning. I’ve always loved this sentence. It captures both the frustrations and future hopes in decades of reform.

Kids are bored. A lot. Education does not always bring out the best in them. Somehow, they manage to get through it. There are people who can easily sit down for eight hours, take notes and then two weeks later say what they wrote, but for many, the system is broken. There is a huge population of extraordinarily talented and engaged people who can’t learn that way. They are made to feel like something is wrong with them.

It’s crazy when you think about it. We take kids and force them to adapt to this really complex bureaucracy instead of adopting the system to them. This is especially crazy in a world full of surprises. Surprises of the economy, of society, of invention and technology. Everyday is going to be a surprise. Education prepares you to cope with certainty. There is no certainty. Learning, however, prepares you to cope with the surprises of the world.

I want to see environments where kids are restless until their need for learning is satisfied. Where kids are allowed to pursue their curiosities and taught to solve interesting problems, not to memorize answers. These pedagogies do exist. What is new, however, are the technologies that have the power to shift the paradigm. To kill education and give rise to learning, but only when you place pedagogy first. So what are some of those shifts?

Curriculum: A shift from content-based to skills-based curriculum

Knowing something is probably an obsolete idea. You don’t actually need to know anything. You can find out at the point when you need to know it. We are going to see less and less of education as the conveying of content because that is going be a commodity. A lot more of what we think of as education today is going to go back to its roots of teaching. Where the instructor engages in dialogue with the student and helps them develop thinking skills, problem solving skills and passion for a discipline. The rise of models like General Assembly and coding bootcamps are indicative of a growing movement towards curriculum focusing on employability and applied skills (i.e. critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, creativity etc.).

Instruction: A shift from teacher-centered to student-centered learning

The role of the educator is to spark and nurture student’s curiosities. To build stronger relationships and scaffold student ownership of learning. It’s the teacher's job to point young minds towards the right kinds of questions. A teacher doesn’t need to give any answers because answers are everywhere. The maker learning movement, Sugatra Mitra’s SOLE model, and school like AltSchool are leading the way in creating learning environments where students take ownership.

Assessment: A shift from summative high-stakes to formative low-stakes assessment

Education has been very, very slow to look at data effectively and determine what is actually happening in the classroom. In large part, it’s because a lot of assessments today are focused on lower order thinking. What the student knows or does not know. There is a lot more potential in the process of learning, and in those moments giving the right feedback. If you watch a gifted instructor in the classroom that’s exactly what he or she is doing.

If we think of the purpose of assessment as being able to provide information to teachers about what to do next, high-stakes summative tests don’t give us enough actionable information. What is needed are more sensitive ways to measure and support low stakes formative assessments. Advances in artificial intelligence and companies like Knewton are starting to unlock new ways of measuring what the student has learned.


These are signs we are at the death of education right now. The structures and rules of school, learning from 9 to 3, working on your own and not working with others, is dying and learning is just beginning. Stay tuned.