fix it

Everyone ponders how we can decrease global incidents of crime, warfare, illogical radical behavior, disease, poverty and pollution. Everyone also ponders how can we increase incidents of social justice, innovation, happiness and friction free capitalism. We have lived in a polarized world of a tale of two cities where the have nothings had no chance of achieving their wildest dreams until [almost] now; decades from now we will reflect on this era and remark that ‘it was the best of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the epoch of belief, it was the season of light, it was the spring of hope and we had everything before us’. As you can tell, I am an eternal optimist and you are likely asking yourself “how do we solve every problem in the world”? Read on and find out my simple suggestion of a simplistic scholastic solution.

Does the solution entail prison reform? Years ago I would go into the Maguire Correctional Facility in Redwood City, California through my church and try to help inmates in their early 20s that didn’t have the luxury (like I did) of having two loving parents raise them. We helped to counsel them and we helped them come up with a life altering plan of finding a job that gave them a sense of purpose or a raison d’être. We helped them to be philosophically passionate and find a profession by the time they left prison that was ‘the reason they were put on this earth to accomplish professionally’; we offered hope. We did this as these poor young inmates were incarcerated for relatively benign reasons of having a very minor offense that often involved narcotics or other substances; heck that could have been me if I didn’t have the proper tutelage growing up. They are victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ultimately, I stopped volunteering in the prison system as I realized that we should be preemptive and help people before they end up going down the wrong path. I was fortunate enough to meet the founders of the LEMO Foundation and happily joined their board of directors. The LEMO Foundation offers full scholarships to at risk youth in East Palo Alto, where the high school graduation rate is only 40%, yet the surrounding towns contain many of the wealthiest people on the planet. The mission statement of the LEMO Foundation is beautiful: “Do not expect to accomplish your dreams if you are not willing to help others accomplish theirs”. Wow! How prophetic of a statement; many call it karma but I think of it as helping society progress by paying it forward (we are all in this together). The LEMO Foundation has provided full scholarships to 80 East Palo Alto high school students and many of them are now at the top universities in the country! #DREAMBIG

Confidence is a reason why the LEMO Foundation has offered a glimpse of hope in changing the lives of these students and of their younger siblings and, one day, their children. If we can instill a sense of confidence and optimism in the future of those that are oppressed or less fortunate then we can move mountains together. LEMO is a catalyst of change and we want to open many more LEMO Foundation chapters in cities across the world. If you would like to be a part of this charity, or start a similar one, please email David Tafoou @ dtaufoou@lemofoundation.org.

Access to unfiltered Internet access can change the world.  We don’t need to keep spending money on weapons of mass destruction. Imagine a day in the not too distant future when futurists like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Reid Hastings and Jeff Bezos find a way to launch low orbiting satellites that can send a next generation Wi-Fi signal into countries that have firewalls! Then we can have friction free democratic edifying access globally. One of my heroes is Malala. Imagine if we had thousands of Malalas rise up in the Middle East and change corrupt governments from within by leveraging unfiltered social media and learning new skill-sets online!!!! I am proud to be on the board of Providing Opportunities for Women (P.O.W.), which was started by a student of mine named Brenda Ibanescu. Brenda recently presented to one of my classes and remarked that “there are more CEOs in America named John than there are female CEOs”. Unacceptable. This will change and we can all leverage ubiquitous global unfiltered Internet access to provide distance learning programs from companies like Udemy.com, Google (Youtube.com) and LinkedIn (Lynda.com). Teachers that leverage technology are our future and teachers are illogically materially underpaid; this ends today starting with Udemy.com which makes ‘edutainment’ enjoyable and accessible to all (kudos to Microsoft for partnering with Udemy.com to make online learning free in parts of Africa). If you are interested in starting a Providing Opportunities for Women chapter in your school or town no matter where you are in the world, please email Brenda Ibanescu at brendaibanescu@gmail.com.

Teach a person to fish and they will eat for a lifetime instead of giving a person a fish, in which case, they will only eat for a day. This statement has held up over hundreds of generations and transcends time. I am so incredibly optimistic about the role that technology will play in liberating and improving the lives of many. A child in the middle of Africa has better and faster access to information using a mobile phone today than President Clinton did in the 1990s! One smart phone today has more processing power than all of the computers in the world that put the first person on the moon…and there are 2.6 billion smart phones in the world today (this will more than double by 2020). Wow; how can you not be optimistic about the future? We have so many incredible tech tools that are being developed today that will disrupt, optimize and deflate prices in industries commensurate with what Airbnb or Amazon have done. Broadband penetration and the growth of smart phones will help expedite this economically beneficial trend.

It will soon be a scientific fact that the person that is going to live to be 150 years old is alive today. God bless Bill and Melinda Gates for pouring billions into eradicating diseases. In fact, there is at least one company in the San Francisco Bay Area that has found a cure for cancer. There are countless others that are on the cusp of finding cures for many other diseases. I remember when I was younger and I grew up in Canada, there was an insurance company called “Freedom 55”. It blows my mind that people in their 60s and 70s chose to retire. Most of us alive today can live well into our 100s. Venture Capital investments in healthcare companies is on the rise today and this is reminiscent of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkin’s incredible Genentech investment many years ago.

Only ubiquitous freedom of speech can change the world for the better. With the friction free flow of information, we can empower the empowers to effect change and ensure the proper tutelage for those that are oppressed or too poor to afford life altering learning opportunities. Imagine a world where accidental environmental issues are resolved due to unprecedented accessible online courses? Imagine a world where we see the eradication of radical geopolitical and malicious militant events? Imagine a world where innovation accelerates? Imagine a world where capitalism and freedom thrives on a global level? Imagine a world where poverty and starvation issues are solved? I can; we all can if we ensure that every child and every adult has free and unfiltered access to online edification to eradicate inequities.

Needless to say, although we might live in somewhat turbulent economic and geopolitical times, the bigger picture is that we have a lot of positive tech-catalysts to look forward to; we will look back upon this era and remark that ‘it was the best of times [cures for many diseases were discovered], it was the age of wisdom [dramatic life extension occurred], it was the epoch of belief [a generation of confident formerly oppressed students emerged], it was the season of light [ubiquitous unfiltered Internet access occurred], it was the [Arab] spring of hope and we had everything before us [so much to look forward to]!’ In case you haven’t guessed how we can all solve every problem in the world, it is spelled out using the first character of each paragraph in this column. How can we all help? Please start volunteering to teach those that are less fortunate and/or oppressed; alternatively, please donate to schools or create scholarship programs. Thank you : )