Thursday, September 15, 2011

#WTBI: Darwinism, Brain Hemispheres and Unconventional Teaching

Check out this article over at UNYStartups...

As students in #WTBI begin to roll up their sleeves and prepare to pitch, develop and grow ideas into future businesses and startup opportunities, this week, the class have been presented with two unique learning opportunities. One in the form of a real life, out there finding investment, and attempting to find their footing startup company iZoca. The other in the form of Brain Hemisphere, creativity and limitation discussion ranging from elements of Young Frankenstein to quotes from Dr. Spock lead by the eccentric, whimsical and passionate VPA Professor William Padgett.


Darwinism in Startups: iZoca comes to #WTBI

iZoca is a startup social networking tool that allows for the creation of groups within communities where the control and sharing of information is easily and readily approved. CEO and Founder, Jeffrey Goronkin, and CFO, Susan Bardack, came to #WTBI to discuss their product and hopefully receive feedback on what has become an $800,000 investment for them. Students, although timid at first, unleashed a hell fire driven fury of questions, comments, and knee jerk reactions to their product which was only stoked by Professor D’Eredita’s comments telling them “BE HONEST!”. Responses and questions ranged widely from “I think you have something here especially since Blackboard has such a bad webpage”, “You are pitching to the wrong audience, because I’d never use this having it pitched from you”, “How do you expect to make money from this? Have you made any money?” and  ”What’s it like pitching to investors?”

This clearly marked a turning point in this classes journey, not only did they hear about the evolution of iZoca but they became a part of the evolution. They gave honest feedback, asked the hard questions and forced the creators to step outside their idea of what iZoca is and will become. It will be interesting to see what the next evolution of iZoca will be given the #WTBI classes feedback and even more exciting the evolution of ideas yet to come from the #WTBI class.


Following the topic ideas yet to come from #WTBI in the following class students had what might have been one of the most hysterical and passionate lessons they have ever received in their academic careers…

Breaking Mental Locks:
The right answer…There is no right answer!

That’s not logical…Throw logic out the window!

Follow the rules…Break the rules, be disruptive!

Be Practical… In brain storming, everyone is brilliant, there is no practical!

To err is wrong… To err is correct!

- Professor William Padgett

Believe me when I say, I could easily give you ten or fifteen more of these quotes from Professor Padgett’s lecture and discussion on brain potential. We throughout out our linear education as students are taught, except in very rare cases, that we need to adhere and think within regimented guidelines, that there is a logical solution that is practical and that there are right and wrong answers to the questions we ask. Now, if any of that holds true for you, a seat in Professor Padgett’s audience is the wrong place for you to be. He turns slightly pink as he runs back and forth across the stage showing various droodles and calling on students asking them what they see and drawing out creative forces en mass from a class of 80+ students. He is forcing people to think outside of their comfort zones and teaching them that even what may seem like silly ideas could the potential to grow. Whether or not the students realized it between laughs and shouting out ideas, his message and lesson hopefully planted the seed for some truly exceptional ideas. A quote from Professor Padgett’s lecture summed up his lesson perfectly:  “Believe you are highly creative, because you are!”

Editor’s Note: Isaac Budmen (@ibudmen) is an employee, Senior Policy Studies Major at @SyracuseU, and Founder of