Startup Owner’s Manual -Steve Blank
Linchpin -Seth Godin
Business Model Generation -Alexander Osterwalder’s
Congratulations to the Creative Arts Team at the Research Foundation of the City University of New York on being one of the grantees of the EMPOWERED community grant program. More info here: http://thewashingtonsun.com/?p=3529
Empowered is a campaign effort sponsored by Grammy award-winning singer Alicia Keys and Greater than AIDS to educate and empower women on HIV/AIDS.
I had the pleasure of attending a joint event by Alicia, Greater Than Aids and Harlem Hospital last August, which was a frank and open community discussion on HIV/AIDS in Harlem, a neighborhood where HIV diagnoses are 4-5x that of the national average and the disease disproportionately affects women of color. Speakers on the panel included Ms. Keys who is also a co-founder of Keep a Child Alive and a UN Global Ambassador, Congressman Charlie Rangel, Vin Baker, Minister of Abyssinian Baptist Church, Dr. Helene Gayle CEO of CARE USA, Stephanie Brown who is an ambassador of EMPOWERED, Denise Soares who is the Executive Director of Harlem Hospital, hip hop mogul and philanthropist Russell Simmons and moderater Jeannine Amber, Senior writer at Essence Magazine. The event was held at Harlem Hospital and was attended by community organizers, physicians and other health care providers, HIV/AIDS activists, members of the Harlem community, and a number of young people.
Ms. Keys talked about her experience in Africa as a global ambassador as well what she has learned about the disease and the people it affects here in the US. Black women in particular are disproportionately affected and she sees education as a way to empower young women and the community. Dr. Gayle spoke frankly about how the stigma and misconceptions surrounding HIV (often related to it being classified as a “gay man’s disease”) are driving people away from information and treatment. I thought that Ms. Brown, who is openly HIV positive,was inspiring, especially when she talked about how she is not willing to be hampered by her status and that she is using her life and her story to educate others.
As a clinician who has taken care of patients with HIV/ AIDS and as someone who went to school in Harlem, it was inspiring for me to see such frank discussion about HIV and also to hear the community’s questions and concerns, as well as ideas on what can be done to address the issues that surfaced during the discussion. At one point during the discussion, the window period of HIV/AIDS testing came up and there was a stir in the crowd as some people were not aware of the window period (a time when an infected person can still transmit the disease to others but their antibody test might say undetectable). It is clear that an education initiative is needed so that people, especially young women, will be informed of the facts and empowered by that information.
One of the things that Ms. Keys said is that we no longer see people dying from the disease but it’s still here and it is affecting a lot of people. Indeed, that is true and reflects the disease’s change from being extremely acute to being a chronic disease that can be managed with medications. Instead of dying of AIDS, people are living with HIV. Just the same, it is important to have discussions about it because as she pointed out, complacency can kill.
I have long been a fan of Ms. Keys music having seen her perform at Nelson’s Mandela’s birthday celebration on Mandela day and very recently at the Global Citizen event to fight poverty, but I am an even bigger fan of her humanitarian work and education efforts. Good luck to her, EMPOWERED, the Creative Arts Team at CUNY and the citizens of Harlem on their efforts.
This month, my alma mater, the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education (http://www.ccny.cuny.edu/sophiedavis/), a 7-yr BS/MD program at City College in Harlem celebrated its 40th anniversary and I was able to attend the Homecoming and Research Symposium which featured research conducted by both Sophie students and faculty and featured amazing and venerable speakers like Dr. Jack Geiger, Dr. Thomas Haines, and Dr. Nirav Shah, New York State’s current Health Commissioner.
It really was a homecoming for me to be back at City College, which Forbes rated as #1 amongst New York State Public Colleges and Universities, and specifically Sophie Davis. I spent 5 years at Sophie and it is a place that helped shape me not only as a student but as someone who wants to make an impact in healthcare and in the world.
I like to think of Sophie as one of New York’s best kept not so secret secrets. What’s special about the school is that it and its student (who come out of high school) make a commitment to practice primary care and serve the underserved in NY. I was able to meet a lot of the students and talked to them about their research which ran the gamut from studying the macro and micro effects of stress on health to studying sex education and pregnancy in Brazil as part of the Mack Lipkin Broader Horizons Fellowship. (While I was there, I was a Rudin Research Fellow). I also talked to them about why they chose Sophie as school, as some of the students even turned down admissions to the Ivy Leagues to attend, and it was really inspiring to hear what they said. The students talked about recognizing the shortage of primary care doctors, the need and the want to serve people who may not have had access to good care, and being leaders in their communities (as some of the students come from underserved areas). In his speech, Dr. Shah commended the students for their commitment to primary care in light of what is happening in healthcare at this time.
As someone who is passionate about public health, primary care and digital health, I in turn was able to talk to the students about some of the exciting developments that are happening in healthcare right now. They were really interested and excited by the intersection of technology and healthcare and I can tell that in the future we might see some of them work on projects related to public health, and use or develop technology to do research, as a tool for patient education as well as their own medical education, and in their practices in a very high touch high tech way. The future looks really bright for them and I look forward to what they will continue to accomplish
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending Conversations on Urbanization with Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures and Richard Florida of NYU and the Atlantic, with MBA students from NYU Stern. It was a really interesting conversation for me as a native New Yorker, tech enthusiast, supporter of STEAM education, and recent attendee of the evening session of the Atlantic Cities City Lab event.
There were a number of conversation points that were thought provoking and compelling:
1. The World Wide Web as the most important factor in the shift from electical engineering to social engineering.
I have definitely seen this shift. There was a time when you had to have specialized knowledge, skills, and access in order to build web sites and create and share content. Now, you can set up a web site or blog in a matter of minutes as long as you have an Internet connection. The ease of being able to access and share information naturally leads to such a shift and acts as a platform which helps connect people and their ideas in real time.
2. The importance of art and artists to innovation
There was a lot of discussion on how many entrepreneurs have artistic talents and interests and how innovation often happens where artists hang out. Mr. Wilson talked about how technologists and artists are similar in that they create things and can show people their work. Mr. Florida talked about how the combination of art and cities can lead to innovation.
In my view, art and innovation go hand in hand. Art is about expression and getting people to see the world as you see it. Art is about creating things. Art is about challenging the status quo and it may not necessarily be subversive, it could be a change in the use of a medium or existing platform or technique. Mr. Wilson talked about the application of what has already been built, that Edison didn’t build the parts of the lightbulb but he was able to build upon what already existed. What comes to mind for me is how software engineers build apps on platforms or how companies like Square, Breathometer and AliveCor have built onto mobile phones.
At a PEN World Voices festival in NYC that I attended a while back, Salman Rushdie spoke about the idea that artists live at the edges, that they push the boundaries. I believe that innovators do the same thing and that in many ways artists and innovators are not only alike, they often exist within the same entity. It’s all about creating something, adapting and reacting to what is going on in the world, and doing something different, something that causes people to stop and think in wonder, delight, or even confusion lol.
3. How cities can attract startups- talent and quality of life (esp culture, safety, transportation,)
All startups are looking for great talent and to a certain extent, in the growing creative economy obtaining and keeping great talent has less to do with compensation and more to do with compelling mission, life goals, ability for growth and quality of life. I’m a proud New Yorker, and I have to say our city has it all.
New York’s communities have gone through a number changes over the past 20 years. I remember Time Square in the pre-Disney Lion King era (it was a *cough* very different and shall we say a more adult playground). Mayor Bloomberg and others have said it too, that safety has played a role in New York being an attractive place to live and start a business.
In terms of culture, we have museums, academic institutions, concert halls, restaurants. New York is very much a walking city and every turn can lead you to a new adventure. Life happens at the intersections and in New York you can always come upon something or someone new, interesting, exciting. I think that the interesections not only make life interesting but can also foster innovation as people who speak different languages, work in different field and have different experiences get together and talk.
Mr. Florida mentioned the idea that cities are great at surfacing problems and that startups that come to cities don’t just builld things that are purely technical but that often interact with the city and its people. I think about this a lot. The city as a source of inspiration and as a lab to test things out. Really love the NYC Big Apps initiative. What are ways that we as citizens can address issues that are affecting our city? What are the issues? (no one would know better than the very people that live here).
4. Real estate, startups and Brooklyn
I am very much a Brooklyn girl. I have lived there for many years and most of my education has been in Brooklyn. I love the distinct neighborhoods and the friendliness of its people. Mr. Wilson talked about how “Brooklyn is going to be fascinating…and I would move to Brooklyn in a heartbeat” which was pretty awesome. He talked about the changing neighborhoods (i.e. Crown Heights) and how startups have moved to the outer boroughs because of quality of life that can be found there as well as the fact that many of a startup’s employees may live in the outer boroughs so the move there makes a lot of sense.
I think that the NYEDC is doing a great job in terms of helping startups on the real estate front and in supporting co-working spaces/incubators/small businesses. Landlords too are starting to understand the nontraditional needs of growing companies which is great.
Brooklyn is fascinating. It’s home to chefs, tinkerers, Makers, artists, technologists, musicians and it’s a really interesting and inspiring milieu to float in, there’s always something interesting going on from Googa Mooga in Prospect Park, to what’s happening at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and NY3DP/Building 92, to the waterfront to the Bushwick Open Arts festival to Brooklyn winery, Brooklyn Brewery, Kings County Distillery and Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, or pizza celebrations in Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge. What I mentioned is only a fraction of what’s happening out here and I thought Mr. Florida’s mention of a Jane Jacobs quote was funny but also true, “When a place gets boring, even the rich people leave.”
5. Transportation and the waterfront
I just finished reading “Walkable City” by Jeff Speck and transportation in the form of bikes, taxis and trolleys were cited as important pieces of a walkable city. Mr. Wilson mentioned the idea that we could be doing more with the city’s waterfront and its potential as a “Central Park”.
I agree that we should look into expanding transportation and water fun/activities. I have a map of NYC at home and we are very much surrounded by water. Ferries connecting Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island and Governor’s island have been very popular and they are inexpensive and might help relieve commuter congestion (anyone who has ridden the L train from 7pm to 2 am on a Saturday night or between 6-10 pm on weeknights knows what I mean by that). Plus, you can bring your bike on board.
Boats are nice to be on in the summer and I know that many tourists really like that they are able to see many different parts of our city by boat. Part of me hopes that one day there will be ferries that take you from Manhattan to say Bay Ridge or Coney Island as well because it’s far if you drive or even if you take the subway.
6. Change in public education
The topic of changing education has come up in many of events that I have gone to over the past couple of months, from events with city government candidates, to a talk given by Dr. Margaret Honey of the NY Sci Hall at a LiveatAppNexus event, to a NY3DP roundtable to City Lab.
Education, health, poverty, are all inter-related. What I would like to see is an education system that gives our children a diverse set of tools and life and career-building skills that they can build upon. I think that we need a system where children are encouraged to ask questions and one that doesn’t necessarily slot them into a straight path but enables them to think critically, learn, grow and adapt. Instead of teaching them something that could be potentially irrelevant if the technology changes, let’s encourage them to create the technology or to come up with solutions.
7. Regulatory relief
Regualory relief was mentioned as something that could be addressed in helping to foster an innovation environment. I think that rules and regulations can be both hurtful and helpful. I support the ones that make practical sense. Plus, rules and regulations can be changed or amended to adapt to what is happening in our time. I often think about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they were written many years ago but reflect what has happened over time and have lasted til our present day. Remarkable and a source of national pride.
Had a great time at the event and really appreciated that NYU Stern UP made the event open to the public. Looking forward to hearing about the Startup Project being undertaken with Endeavor.