The non-SEO friendly, but more accurately reflective title of this blog should actually be: Why I believe we can change the world and other random thoughts from a red-eye and a double connection.
Now, I am not usually an overthinker. That fact is something I view as an asset, especially when running a company. With the number of decisions that will affect our customers, employees and product that I have to make every day, I don’t have the luxury of overthinking decisions. That doesn’t mean I make decisions lightly, but once I make them, I don’t sit around internally debating them because I’m confident I made the best possible decision I could given the information and circumstances.
Of course, as the full title of this post explains, I have a bit of travel time on my hand, which is giving me more time to think that I normally have. Usually at 9 pm, I would be trying to wrangle small people into their pajamas and telling my 6-year-old to stop dangling over the stair bannister before she breaks her arm. But tonight, I just got off a plane at the airport six miles from my house, and instead of going home, I’m at a gate awaiting another flight, which will take me to another flight, which will complete my San Francisco – Los Angeles – Minneapolis – Bismarck, ND trek.
I was in San Francisco today for an interview – don’t worry, I’m not leaving 7 Generation Games. But it was an interview for something that if I get it would be amazing. If I do, I will let you know about here; and if I don’t, we’ll pretend this never happened.
But at the end of the interview, they asked me what my co-founders would say about me.
“Well, they’re my co-founders, so they’d say I’m amazing,” I started.
“Understandably,” one of the interviewers said.
I mentioned a few other things, that I’m driven, that I’m a leader – which are all true things that I think they’d say. But then I added, “I think they’d say I’m optimistic, by that I mean, that I think they’d say, I believe we can change the world. And I do. And I don’t mean that in a ‘flowerly, everything is amazing and rainbows,’ but I do think we can be part of changing the world. I think that’s what education does.”
As with these type of interviews, you never how it goes until you hear one way or another. My personal opinion is it went well – but I’ve had other things where I felt “It went well” and it didn’t work out; and other things where I thought it went “meh,” and it did work out.
That said, somewhere between SFO and LAX, I was replaying the interview – and turning it over in my head. But as I think too often happens when people do that, instead of finding that that affirmation they’re hoping to find, they start to doubt themselves. I found myself thinking Should I have said that I believe we can change the world? Was that a cliché? I had said earlier that I don’t believe we’re going to change education on our own – because no single company is, but that I do think we can be part of the solution. But what about changing the world? Is that too big? Is that too much to say?
But then the anti-overthinking part of my brain jumped in with “No. It’s not. Here’s why…”
Education is one of the few things that I think truly has the potential to change the world. It is ultimately at the center of everything. Improved education can be tied to everything from lifting communities out of poverty, lower crime rates, better health, increased longevity and higher well-being.
And those resulting outcomes, not only impact a single person or a single community, but generations to follow.
People always say things like “It’s not rocket science or brain surgery” to indicate things not being hard – but you know what you need to be able to become a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist, an education with a foundation in the fundamentals. Everything starts with education. It’s why so many parents around the globe work so hard to see that their children have access to the best education possible, whether they’re in San Francisco or Standing Rock or Santiago.
Whether you’re talking about combating climate change to sustainable living to disease eradication to creating the next technological tool that will connect us as a society, it ultimately starts with education.
And I’m not saying that all happens just because of us and the work we’re doing, but I do believe that we can be a small part of that. And as we expand into communities and countries that are being overlooked and underserved, I am even more convinced of that.
If we can help a kid who is two years behind in math close that gap to one year or reach mastery when it comes to multiplication, we can open doors that would be otherwise closed if that kid just gave up. We might not be Avengers-style saving the planet, but that’s not how the world is going to be changed. There are often many little steps that lead to dramatic breakthroughs.
With that, I realized that it was an answer I could live with because I really meant it.