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Opinion Editorials

It’s easy to change the world, just do it

In a recent TEDx talk, a respected innovator describes what separates those that change the world and those that don’t. We take a deeper look to add our own thoughts about accomplishing great things.



byron reese

byron reese change the world

Why some people change the world and others do not

At a recent TEDx talk in Austin, author and entrepreneur, Byron Reese spoke on the topic of accomplishments, challenging why some people change the world and others do not. Reese speaks of various accomplishments from small to large, pondering why Benjamin Franklin was able to invent so many things, and why Mother Teresa was able to touch so many lives. Were their circumstances because they were geniuses, or because they had money, or perhaps they were well connected? The two people serve as an example of extremely different circumstances, which Reese opines is an indicator that it is not actually a person’s circumstances that dictate whether they can change the world or not.

But let’s revisit that phrase, “change the world.” If someone tells you they’re going to change the world, we’ve been conditioned as a nation to have a cynical knee-jerk reaction, but changing the world doesn’t necessarily mean curing AIDS or inventing a psychic robot, no, it can be much more local and start with one deed.

My favorite part of Reese’s speech (featured at the bottom of this editorial) begins at 11:47, and while I encourage you to watch the whole video, at least watch at 11:47. “Greatness is not a destiny granted to a few, but a decision available to anyone,” Reese says, basing his opinion on lengthy research. “The main difference between people who change the world and people who don’t is whether or not they’ve made that decision.”

Just do it: change the world

I’m one of those people that is always busy. I was born busy. Some call it workaholism, but I call it keeping busy. Even when idle, I have to be doing something, it’s in my DNA. When I’m standing in line somewhere, I’m responding to emails from my phone. When I’m watching tv, I’m working on my laptop. I can’t sit still. I’m not only the Chief Operating Officer here, directing a digital newsroom, I run operations for Spark of Genius Business Camp, the Big Ass Social Happy Hour, I’m a family gal, I am a runner, I read endlessly, attend Mass every week and on Holy Days, and do as much charity work as we can cram in (to the free time we know we’ll never have, so we make it up).

Recently, we began the groundwork for the philanthropic arm of AGBeat, and are in the process of founding a charity, and a program for high school students. Both are very different, but both are programs we feel called to start because they just don’t exist. Like many inventors or entrepreneurs, we create products, content, events, charities and the like to suit our own needs.

Is this changing the world? I don’t know, probably not, but I’ve always thought on a more local scale. My grandmother quoted Mother Teresa to me when I was very young, saying “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” I’ve always understood the ripple effect of small changes.

How YOU can change the world

As Reese challenges people to consider the excuses they’re using for not just getting off of their butts and actually doing what they are capable of, I would add that changing the world doesn’t take much. Really. You can give away your entire company’s playbook, and you’re still likely the only one with the gumption or passion to actually do it.

There is a tired inspirational quote derived from the Pareto principal that you may be familiar with, that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes, or sometimes it is said that 80 percent of all business in [X industry] is done by 20 percent of [X professionals]. You’ve also heard the famous Edison quote on posters in offices across the globe that genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.

Take any combination of the two and you come up with the same conclusion that Reese has – you can’t change the world if you don’t do anything, so just do it. It’s seriously that simple.

When people ask me “how do you do it all, Lani?” it feels like a silly question to me because it’s just my nature to do. It’s hard to understand that it isn’t ingrained in all people, but my grandmother was right in indoctrinating me with Mother Teresa’s theory that changing the world is feeding one person. So how do I do it all? I stay focused on the one mouth, be it a literal charity case, or a small business sputtering along in a bad economy that reads just one story here and finds something actionable with which they will find success.

I’m not special, I’m not doing anything special, I’m just doing. Will I change the world? I don’t know, but honestly, I don’t really care – I can’t, because I can only worry about staying focused on feeding the one. Anyone can do. Just do it.

Byron Reese on Achieving:

[pl_video type=”youtube” id=”XfCaArxitpM”]

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Opinion Editorials

Facebook fights falsehoods (it’s a false flag)

(EDITORIAL) Facebook has chosen Reuters to monitor its site for false information, but what can one company really do, and why would Facebook only pick one?



Reuters checks facebook

So Facebook has finally taken a step to making sure fake news doesn’t get spread on it’s platform. Like many a decision from them though, they haven’t been thorough with their venture.

I am a scientifically driven person, I want facts, figures, and evidence to determine what is reality. Technology is a double edged sword in this arena; sure having a camera on every device any person can hold makes it easy to film events, but deepfakes have made even video more questionable.

Many social media platforms have tried to ban deepfakes but others have actually encouraged it. “I’ll believe it when I see it” was the rally cry for the skeptical, but now it doesn’t mean anything. Altering video in realistic ways has destroyed the credibility of the medium, we have to question even what we see with our eyes.

The expansion of the internet has created a tighter communication net for all of humanity to share, but when specific groups want to sway everyone else there isn’t a lot stopping them if they shout louder than the rest.

With the use of bots, and knowing the specifics of a group you want to sway, it’s easy to spread a lie as truth. Considering how much information is known about almost any user on any social media platform, it’s easy to pick targets that don’t question what they see online.

Facebook has been the worst offender in knowing consumer data and what they do with that data. Even if you never post anything political, they know what your affiliation is. If you want to delete that information, it’s hidden in advertising customization.

Part of me is thrilled that Facebook has decided to try and stand against this spread of misinformation, but how they pursued this goal is anything but complete and foolproof.

Reuters is the news organization that Facebook has chosen to fact check the massive amount of posts, photos, and videos that show up on their platform everyday. It makes sense to grab a news organization to verify facts compared to “alternative facts”.

A big problem I have with this is that Reuters is a company, companies exist to make money. Lies sell better than truths. Ask 2007 banks how well lies sell, ask Enron how that business plan worked out, ask the actors from Game of Thrones about that last season.

Since Reuters is a company, some other bigger company could come along, buy them, and change everything, or put in people who let things slide. Even Captain America recognizes this process. “It’s run by people with agendas, and agendas change.” This could either begin pushing falsehoods into Facebook, or destroy Reuters credibility, and bite Facebook in the ass.

If some large group wants to spread misinformation, but can’t do it themselves, why wouldn’t they go after the number one place that people share information?

I really question if Reuters can handle the amount of information flowing through Facebook, remember almost a 3rd of the whole world uses Facebook. 2.45 Billion people will be checked by 25,800 employees at Reuters? I can appreciate their effort, but they will fail.

Why did Facebook only tag one company to handle this monumental task? If you know that many people are using your platform, and such a limited number of people work for the company you tasked with guarding the users, why wouldn’t you tag a dozen companies to tackle that nigh insurmountable number of users?

I think it’s because Facebook just needs that first headline “Facebook fights falsehoods”. That one line gets spread around but the rest of the story is ignored, or not thought about at all. If there is anything Facebook has learned about the spread of fake information on their platform, it’s how to spread it better.

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Opinion Editorials

Will shopping for that luxury item actually lower your quality of life?

(EDITORIAL) Want to buy yourself a pick-me-up? Have you thought of all the ramifications of that purchase? Try to avoid splurging on it.



shopping bags

In an era of “treat-yo-self,” the urge to splurge is real. It doesn’t help that shopping – or what ends up being closer to impulse shopping – provides us with a hit of dopamine and a fleeting sense of control. Whether your life feels like it’s going downhill or you’ve just had a bad day, buying something you want (or think you want) can seem like an easy fix.

Unfortunately, it might not be so great when it comes to long-term happiness.

As you might have already guessed, purchasing new goods doesn’t fall in line with the minimalism trend that’s been sweeping the globe. Being saddled with a bunch of stuff you don’t need (and don’t even like!) is sure to make your mood dip, especially if the clutter makes it harder to concentrate. Plus, if you’ve got a real spending problem, the ache in your wallet is sure to manifest.

If that seems depressing, I’ve got even more bad news. Researchers at Harvard and Boston College have found yet another way spending can make us more unhappy in the long run: imposter syndrome. It’s that feeling you get when it seems like you’re not as good as your peers and they just haven’t caught on yet. This insecurity often arises in competitive careers, academics and, apparently, shopping.

Now, there’s one big caveat to this idea that purchasing goods will make you feel inferior: it really only applies to luxury goods. I’m talking about things like a Louis Vuitton purse, a top of the line Mercedes Benz, a cast iron skillet from Williams Sonoma (or is that one just me?). The point is, the study found that about 67% of people – regardless of their income – believed their purchase was inauthentic to their “true self.”

And this imposter syndrome even existed when the luxury items were bought on sale.

Does this mean you should avoid making a nice purchase you’ve been saving up for? Not necessarily. One researcher at Cambridge found that people were more likely to report happiness for purchases that fit their personalities. Basically, a die-hard golfer is going to enjoy a new club more than someone who bought the same golf club to try to keep up with their co-workers.

Moral of the story: maybe don’t impulse buy a fancy new Apple watch. Waiting to see if it’s something you really want can save your budget…and your overall happiness.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer got you down? Does it make your job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment without budget worries.



better equipment, better work

Aside from bringing the boss coffee and donuts for a month before asking, what is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes. In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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