Time in Yerevan: 11:07:36,   15 December

Life should have experiments, drastic turnarounds and floating butterflies inside - Tony Fadell's most memorable answers in Yerevan lecture

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 16, ARMENPRESS. If butterflies don’t flutter in you every day, then you either don’t pay enough attention to your surroundings, or you don’t take the risk, you don’t try to think and act beyond the limits. Uproars, butterflies flying inside, drastic turns and experiments should happen in life. These are the thoughts of Tony Fadell, founder of Nest Labs and creator of the iPod. Fadell, the laureate of the 2017 Armenian Presidential global IT Award, delivered a public lecture in Yerevan and answered to the most various questions for nearly 1,5 hours.

ARMENPRESS presents the most noteworthy questions and answers of the lecture.

Which is your biggest achievement not known to the public?

It relates to leadership. For many years I was engaged in recruitment of staff and the main lesson which I learned is that people act in self-contained borders, they themselves draw these borders for themselves. These are fears. The most important thing you can do is to motivate them to go out of this circle, this will put them in an uncomfortable situation, but If you are able to do this, a few years later they will return and tell you what an incredible thing you did for them – I was able to overcome my own borders.

Now when I have children, I draw parallels that you do the same with your child. You let them face dangers, to become accomplished by overcoming them. This is what stays, this is the valuable, technologies come and go, but people with this kind of features stay.

Why did you leave Apple?

I met my wife in Apple, we got married and had children. At that time we both worked there and our children were half and 1,5 years old. One day, me and my wife returned home from work, our son was very worried, instead of running to me or his mother, he preferred the nanny. As parents, and first of all my wife’s heart was broken.

By staying in Apple we could have had tons of new successes, but me and my wife understood that we won’t bring back the years we didn’t spend with our children, we decided to leave and spend more time with our children.

How do you conceive various ideas and invent?

I pay attention to details, I approach them with criticism and notice problems. The goal is to solve these problems. For instance the iPod, I was a DJ, I was dragging around numerous CDs with me and I created it. In case of Nest, I couldn’t find a thermostat that I liked, so I designed and created the one I imagine. Our surrounding world is full of numerous problems, we simply must observe around us and solve these problems through our skills and technologies. Every one present here is capable of doing it, you simply have to search for the problems in the world that surrounds you and know that they are solvable, you aren’t forced to adapt to them.

Aliens didn’t create this world, but people did, therefore one can study what ideas other people have put in building it. By reading and studying, being curious, moreover not only about IT, but things that can have nothing to do with this sector. I am always surprised how much IT there is in biology and vice versa. It is through this path that you can develop the ability of creating new things in you.

It is also important to surround yourself with a friendly network, preferably so that they aren’t from the same professional field as you, this way you’ll be able to exchange your experience with each other and learn from one another.

About time management: How do your working and non-working days proceed?

Every morning I work out for 1-2 hours. This workout is without music, it’s like a mobile meditation. I workout and think about yesterday, the expected day, and new ideas are created as result of this meditation. During my working day I hold numerous meetings in and out of my office. There is something that I always did and do, since childhood – I learn a massive amount of information, about life, technologies, society, I always wanted to know and learn more. And I am here in Armenia for this reason also, to get to know and know more about your country.

I also try to enjoy life, I like cycling, I go to concerts, I spend time with friends, I acquire different life experiences rather going on vacation. My work is also a source of pleasure for me, it is oxygen for my brain. And I categorically rule out social media.

On Education

I’ve studies at 12 educational institutions in 15 years. Don’t expect your school – elementary, high school or higher educational institution to give you all necessary keys in life. I’m not saying school is a bad thing, it’s a good thing, but in the context of something, while people learn through experience.

In my case I had my first startup when I was studying in high school. I designed the first microprocessor before my first electronics class. One can learn only through trying, failing. As result of doing, I found out what I need to learn, then only I went to study. With this logic I understood my flaws, then only made steps to correct them. You should learn by doing, you yourselves must be the authors of your educational program. You can learn through talking to people, sometimes you’ll find answers to your questions not in books, but in life situations, by visiting museums or scientific centers, by guiding your education yourselves.

What’s the future human going to be like? Is he going to compete with AI devices?

I’ve been asked this question by others. I believe that machines, devices using artificial intelligence are technologies containing massive power. If we look at chess champions, Garry Kasparov was defeated around 20 years ago by the Deep Blue supercomputer.

At that time people said – chess died, no one will play again, the machine is defeating the human. Today, however, the best chess grandmasters are defeating supercomputers, at the same time people use computer programs to train. Today chess is popular in the world more than ever, there are many players. By using these tools, we and the machines can have joint development. But the possible negative side also exists, because people might be left out from various fields of economic activity because of technologies. Therefore technology must be a helping tool for school students, reach more with technology – at the same time doing so that jobs don’t reduce for people. Technology had similar affect once in agriculture, meaning people must learn to use it for becoming better.

Which are the three main values guiding you, which you spread among your teams?

First, that man and society must improve simultaneously. It angers me a lot when people don’t let go their phones when we are sitting at a dinner table.  This can have indirect consequences and serious problems.

Second, we must always take steps to at least not deteriorate the satiation of planet Earth, if not to improve, to keep it the way it is. To always find measures for the social and physical environment to at least be preserves, if you are unable to develop it.

Third, try not do something which you know or can predict will cause people to separate – be it technology, communication, for example spreading fake news.

How to leave the comfort zone?

As an entrepreneur and a person, If butterflies don’t flutter in you everyday, then you either don’t pay enough attention to your surroundings, or you don’t take the risk, you don’t try to think and act beyond the limits. Uproars, butterflies flying inside, drastic turns and experiments should happen in life. Same goes for evolution, if you don’t learn something new, you either don’t move forward or you die. Therefore the choice is in your hands.

Standing here at this moment I too am anxious about many things, only this way you can prepare yourself for growth.

On being an interesting speaker

I have to say that in high school, when I was giving a speech before 20 people, I was experiencing deep fear. Train, train, train to change it. I also had a mentor. I’ll tell you the truth, Steve Job’s presentations were so successful because he had a mentor who taught him how to do it. When designing, walking, speaking, you should fall, stand up, you must try to learn, you must also get other people’s help, only this way you can move forward in life.

By Ani Nazaryan



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