A Few of Our Favourite Things: January 2023

2023 is off to an exciting start! Here are a few things, new and old, that have our team thinking this month.

A black and white photo of Kickstarter CEO Everette Taylor is shown over a blue and red oil painting background.
Photo courtesy of Hustle

Kickstarter's CEO says Empathy is His Superpower

Kickstarter appointed Everette Taylor as their new CEO back at the end of September. Leading a company that brings in billions of dollars in funding to startups, small businesses, and creators is a big responsibility, and Taylor says that the key skill he brings to the table is empathy. We couldn't agree more!

“Leadership is all about empathy [...] being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes and think about how they feel before you act or speak. To me, the ability to empathize with anyone, from any walk of life, [...] is my true superpower."

- Everette Taylor, CEO at Kickstarter

3 children sit with their feet in a sandbox, playing.
Photo by Fabian Centuno via Unsplash

How play helps a kid's brain grow

Jesse Ilhardt's talk on how play-based learning requires grown-ups to play reminded us that just like empathy, play is a skill. We don't often get encouraged to wear a superhero cape made out of a blanket or blow bubbles as adults. If you're out of practice playing, especially if you have kids or work with kids, this is your reminder to practice playing this year!

“[W]hat does matter is that the interactions leave space for your child to learn, to persist, to play, to experiment. You have the power to have an enormous impact on their brain development. You are helping build the network of neural connections that lay the foundation for all of their future learning.

- Jesse Ilhardt, Early Education Leader

Two women sit on a grey couch in front of a window. Each has a laptop on their lap and they are looking at each other as though are about to start laughing.
Photo courtesy of WOCinTech

3 ways to fold humor and humanity into your work emails.

Did you know that the average worker spends close to 30 percent of their work hours on email and that 62 percent of Slack users spend over 3 hours of their work day in the app? When this digital communication takes up so much of our time, it's worthwhile to find some ways to make it more human, and maybe even fun.

“[T]hink of them  as bite-sized opportunities to invite genuine connection with your coworkers and partners. Even a touch of levity can start a chain reaction that shifts the dynamic.

- Jennifer Aaker, PhD and Naomi Bagdonas, Professors, Stanford University Graduate School of Business

A picture of a galaxy in outer space.
Photo courtesy of NASA

What if you could hear space?

You might know that the Empathy Toy was a tool that was developed for children who are blind or have low vision to connect with their sighted peers. You might not know that over at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, they were tackling a different but related challenge: how can astrophysicists who are blind or have low vision connect with astrophysics data? Just like the Empathy Toy, it turns out that the data sonification project is appealing and exciting for everyone.

“The effort started to connect audiences, particularly those who are blind or low vision, with astrophysics data. The COVID-19 pandemic meant that physical 3D models of space objects were no longer the best way to experience these phenomena. The sonification team worked with scientists and students who are blind or have low vision to share this information in a new digital way.”

- Hannah Ostroff, Smithsonian Institution