Is everyone creative?

Matt Richtel, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author (and UC Berkeley grad), thinks everyone is creative. I recently stumbled upon his How to Be Creative article and it’s worth checking out, even if you don’t think of yourself as a traditionally “creative” person.

His advice is for kids and adults. Whether you’re a teacher, business owner, coach or parent, it’s likely you utilize your inner creativity.

His advice that I’m working on: Let your brain rest.

Which of his suggestions could you use?

A lesson from Teddy

I recently finished Edmund Morris’s The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. There are plenty of lessons to learn from Roosevelt’s life but one struck me in particular. He was extremely curious. He was a sickly child and his curiosity for the natural world must have, in part, stemmed from his inability to explore it. When he wasn’t sick, he was outside studying nature. When he was nine years old, he titled a notebook "Natural History on Insects” and filled it with his observations on ants, beetles, flies and other insects.

This curiosity coupled with journaling reminded me of Jack from The Magic Treehouse series. This was my favorite series when I was nine years old. Reflecting on it now, Jack inspired me to be curious. He always takes a notepad on his journeys. Whenever he observes something interesting, he writes it down. I carry a Moleskine journal and do the same thing today.

Every kid is curious about something. Facilitating their curiosities can go a long way and reading fostered mine. What else works?

My opinion piece in the WSJ

I submitted an opinion piece to The Wall Street Journal’s Future View Series. The prompt was "Is the campus free-speech crisis overblown?” They liked my submission and chose it for publication! You can read it here.

I know many readers of the WSJ will disagree with my point. I think disagreement is healthy as long as you genuinely listen to the other side and work to understand them.

I would love to hear from you if you disagree! Please reach out.

For those who hit a paywall, here’s what was published:

“Is it as crazy as it looks?” As a student at the University of California at Berkeley, that’s one of the first questions my parents’ friends ask. No, I tell them, it’s not that bad. There is a loud minority that gets disproportionate attention in the news. But most of us on campus enjoy the free exchange of ideas.

It’s true, there’s a liberal bias. Conservatives sometimes hold back their opinions in the classroom for fear of opprobrium. There’s an irony here: The same students who mock “snowflakes” asking for safe spaces are often the ones complaining they’re uncomfortable voicing their beliefs in the classroom. The social pressure is real enough; but if safe spaces aren’t necessary, speak up. The professor isn’t going to fail you. Well, not most of them, anyway.

—Patrick Laird, University of California at Berkeley, business and political science

Better to be a learn-it-all

Thank you to everyone who sent their suggestions for how to improve the Reading Challenge. I received a lot of great feedback. If at anytime you think of something, please don’t hesitate to reach out. If you missed my last post, click here.

I read a quote recently that is a great lesson for kids and adults alike. The CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, said, “The learn-it-all will always do better than the know-it-all.” He discovered this studying the characteristics of children who do well in school. He applies that same framework within the culture of Microsoft.

A young child is almost never afraid to be wrong. But by midway through elementary school, many children develop the fear of saying, “I don’t know.” This persists through high school, college and into adulthood. I still find myself slightly embarrassed when I don’t know something that I feel I should know.

The earlier a child is taught that it’s okay to not know and then encouraged to learn, the more likely they will develop into a learn-it-all rather than a know-it-all. Nadella learned this from Carol Dweck’s Mindset, one of the books I recommend on my website: Recommended Reading. I’ve put up a list of my favorite books for adults and kids. If you find any of them interesting, let me know!