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TIES 2012 Monday Keynote: Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek, author of the book, "Start with Why" was the keynote presenter Monday at the TIES Conference. His TED Talk on content from his book has been extremely popular.

Sinek, considers himself an early adopter, but he likes human beings more than technology! How do we use technology to make things work better for the human being?

We need a human problem before technology is used most effectively.
He gave the example of screens with string to pull down. 

A brilliant example of tech is to go to Bed Bath and Beyond. Some toasters have a function where if you lift the button, the toast comes up. 

First, what is the human problem we are trying to solve? We have to remember why we are teaching this in the first place. We teach students, not curriculum!!

So what can technology do for education? Sinek believes it can be used for:

Humans are fundamentally social. What is so remarkable about us that made us not only survive, but thrive?
Human beings want to feel that they belong. Especially with those with similar beliefs and shared values. 
How do we get people to do things
Rewards and incentives, threats of punishment, etc. The human body also has chemicals that incentivise us to happiness. Good feelings come from certain chemicals: Endorphins, Dopamine, Oxytocin and Ceretonin. 

Endorphin's are what give us the "runners high." They hide physical pain. They mask physical pain to incentivize us to keep going, whether in a workout or on a hunt. No practical reason to get this anymore.

Dopamine-When you find something you were looking for or accomplish something, you feel good because of this. It gets us to do things, even though we don't have an immediate need right now. "Write down your goals so you can check them off and feel good." "We are biologically designed to collect stuff-It's why we like shopping!" Refreshing a cell phone for e-mail. We love the ding, or the buzz. It's an addiction! Selfish chemicals to keep us alive. 

Ceretonin-The leadership chemical. The alpha chemical. We can feel that people are nervous about us. Getting awards in public is a way to get it. Graduates get it, AND so do their parents! The reason it is there is because we are looking after each other. Thank the team, or the coach, parents or God, because we need the respect from other people. Status symbols.

Oxytocin-Warmth, really good feelings. Women get huge bursts of it when giving birth. Human contact. Handshakes. We need to trust someone in order to get it. Acts of generocity also gives bursts for both the giver and the person giving. When you have it, you actually want to give more. Online, you don't get that reciprocity. Giving money doesn't create this, either. 

The greatest thing we can do is give TIME and ENERGY to others.-This generates a great deal of oxytocin for both.

Witnessing acts of generocity makes you more likely to give yourself. Money, or a promisory note don't do this.
His concern about technology is that we are trying to solve problems with technology that circumvent bonds of trust. We need to be intentional. It's about the teacher using the technology, not the technology itself. The bond between teacher and student, the trust, and being ok with failing, then 
Big mistakes in school are a way to learn!

He had us close our eyes and think back to high school, and the teacher who knew us, and believed in our potential. The people who believe in us are the ones we carry around with us for the rest of our lives! How many students would say your name? It's not because of the technology we used, it's because we connected with them and believed in them.

Technology does not form the bonds of relationships.
We are here at the conference to share ideas and build relationships. 

Alphas-The leaders, the strong, smart. We give them love and respect, which boosts their Ceretonin and their self-confidence. There is an anthropological reason we have alphas: the practical problem of food! We evolved into heirarchical animals. The weaker ones stepped back for the stronger to eat first. The alphas got first choice of meat and mates. 
Today, we have no problem with the fact that bosses have a bigger office at work, or that celebrities get all the pretty ones.
The rub: The alphas get this special treatment and ceretonin, but if there is an outside threat that attacks the group, the alphas have the confidence to stand up to it.
Leadership has a responsibility to protect those who serve you.
If you are not willing to put your career on the line to protect the studetns and teachers in your care, you are just an authority, not a real leader.
This leadership and sacrifice comes from the parenting model. Every teacher should be sacrificing so that their students can be greater than they could ever be. Every principal should be sacrificing so that teachers can be greater.

We have a strange over reliance on technology. He gave the example of the Air France Airliner that crashed after take-off from Brasil. An instrument on the aircraft calculating airspeed gave a false reading about the speed. The computers released the autopilot, but the pilots had never been trained into what to do. Airbus philosophy was that the computer was brighter than human beings. Because the pilots trusted that, over 200 people perished. Every now and then there are crashes. We are ok that people are fallible, but not technology. It can never replace human beings.

He finished with a story where he lost his sense of purpose. He went to Afghanistan with the U.S. Air Force to see how his theories were working in action. The goal was to be in country for 30 hours to view an air drop. 10 minutes after landing, his plane came under rocket attack. After the all clear, and a bit of rest, he went on a mission for the air drop. While leaving, he was supposed to leave on a Medical evacuation flight. He was bumped, and was going to be stuck there for 4 days. Cortisol, which is the chemical for anxiety kicked in, alert and hyper-aware. Survival mode. He felt himself becoming self-consumed, and tried to change his attitude, with no luck. It was like being in a dead-end job, and fear was all consuming. He gave up and resigned himself, and decided to make himself useful by serving others. After making that decision, he felt an amazing sense of calm. Just then, he ended up catching a flight with a fallen soldier, as the only passenger carrying the soldier home. The flight home was silent. After having gone through that, he felt honored to be on that flight.

The thrill of serving others is what it's all about. We get this not from tech, but from the safety and trust of human relationships.


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