Linda Sandvik: Making Things Better

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

Linda Sandvik (@hyper_linda) was talking about getting out of your comfort zone at Whisky Web II, these are my notes from her talk.

We live in a world where you can take your phone and send it to near space to take photos and if you don't know how to do this you can easily find out. You can buy a book on how to build a satellite for less than $5 and you can rent space on a rocket for $20,000 which is not unachievable. On twitter you can talk to people who are in space. 3D printers mean you can make physical objects and even human tissue. Bacteria were engineered to solve sudoku and now they can find cancer cells.

We have mechanisms to prevent us doing crazy stuff in order to keep us alive but all of the awesome stuff happens outside our comfort zone. We used to have "polymaths", now we have "jack of all trades, master of none".

It's easy to stick with the same routine every day so do something completely different every day: take a different route to work, eat something different.

If you want to learn something new then make it easy to do - put it on your desk so you look at it every day and it's just there.

Fail. Fail fast. Fail often. Learn how to recover fast from your failures and learn from them. Don't give up.

Don't rely on your tools, you won't know how to solve problems without them.

Sometimes it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather then ask for permission. You don't need permission to be awesome, just go and do it.

If someone comes to you with a stupid brief then just do what you want, if it's awesome they'll get it.

(Use acetone to dissolve an Oyster card to get the RFID chip out and then mount it in a sonic screwdriver.)

Say "yes" to the crazy stuff.

Mentor other people - the World Wide Foundation are looking for people to mentor startups in Africa. It's cool to see what people are doing in other countries.

Write a blog. Don't assume that everyone knows what you think is obvious.

You must develop a complete disregard for where you abilities end and try to do the things you are uncapable of.

"So it was a Monday and I decided to apply for the longest horse race in the world. I didn't think they would accept me."

You should have side projects. You should go to hack days.

The bad side of being a generalist is outsourcing your knowledge to the internet. Disconnect yourself to get back in touch with remembering things and give yourself time to figure things out for yourself.

It's better to regret something you have done than something you haven't done.