New Tech Tonics Podcast: When Companies Go Awry


Geoff Clapp

The success of Silicon Valley is often attributed to the ability of the entrepreneurial community to embrace setbacks, rather than punishing those who experience them.  Celebrating these setbacks has become an art form of it own; as a recent NYT op-ed suggested, “telling the story of what went wrong is a way to wring insight from failure, but it’s also a way of proclaiming membership in a community of innovators who are unafraid of taking risks.”

MichaelJordan-FailureQuoteIn contrast to pat narratives of failure and redemption, or of lessons learned from flying too close to the sun, today’s guest, Geoff Clapp, offers an unvarnished — and still slightly raw — account of what happened in the months between the time we interviewed him in early 2015 about his promising startup, Better, and the time it shut down last fall. Geoff’s candid discussion provides unusual insight into what it feels like to be a leader in this difficult and uncomfortable situation.

We are grateful to Geoff for his authenticity and generosity of spirit in sharing his experiences with us on Tech Tonics today. You can listen to his interview below or find it on iTunes by clicking HERE or on the Connected Social Media website HERE. (more…)

Women as Agents of Change in Global Development

Julie PotyrajWomen are essential to global development. Gender equality leads to higher rates of education, better health outcomes, increased economic growth, and even improved agricultural production. Focusing on the empowerment of women doesn’t just benefit women; it benefits society as a whole.

None of this is new information. The importance of women’s empowerment has been a part of the global development conversation since the very beginning of international development efforts. In 1948, theUnited Nations established the Commission on the Status of Women just three years after the organization itself came into existence. The Commission was the first global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the empowerment of women.

Gender equality has remained a part of development discourse ever since. In 2000, the world saw the largest gathering of world leaders in history. The Millennium Summit resulted in a 15-year-long strategy to reduce extreme poverty. Goal Three of the Millennium Development Goals focused exclusively on the empowerment of women. The conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 also marked the beginning of theSustainable Development Goals. According to the United Nations, women will not only be affected by all 17 of these goals, but they will also be the driving force behind the success of these programs.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. It’s a cliché, but still an inspiring message. Does the sentiment of this saying hold real possibility? Can we all truly be the change that’s needed? The history of gender equality has portrayed women as the beneficiaries of change. Programs and policies have been continually designed to uplift the status of women. Yet only recently are we embracing women as agents of that change. Gender equality cannot happen until women are seen as equal and active stakeholders in their development.

Women and girls comprise 49.5 percent of the world’s population. Despite the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, gender inequality continues to permeate the educational, health, political, and economic sectors. Women are egregiously underrepresented in decision-making positions. There are only 18 countries with female heads of state. Out of the five permanent members and 10 non-permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, there are six female ambassadors, but not one nation with a female head of state. In the very organization that has led the campaign for gender equality since the 1940s, women have a disproportionately small presence.

If the change we wish to see in the world is gender equality, then women must be that change. Women are not passive bystanders in their own empowerment. They are the innovators, the catalysts, and the leaders. In the issue of gender inequality, women themselves are the solution.

In a blog post series for Disruptive Women, I will highlight cases across the globe where women have not only inspired change, but also driven it themselves. If you have a story about women’s role in gender equality that you would like share, or a topic you would like to see explored in greater detail, please feel free to connect with me via Twitter @jPotterRay

Julie Potyraj is the community manager for MHA@GW, HealthInformatics@GW and MPH@GW, all offered by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. For several years, she served as a community development specialist in Zambia coordinating youth empowerment programs and reproductive health education. She is currently an MPH@GW student focusing on global health and health communications.

Olympic bronze for a “big girl”

Here is a great TBT post from July 2012. Olympian Elana Mayers contributed an excellent body confidence piece to our Body Image Series. Today, we honor our Disruptive Olympian! For more great resources on Body Image, please download our free e-book

Elana Meyers In 2010 when I was named to the U.S. Olympic bobsled team, I was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, female athlete on the team.  I was definitely not the tallest, but I did have one of the highest weights – it was even reported in an article.

In my sport, the goal is to push a 400-pound bobsled as fast as you can for approximately 5 seconds and then hop in, so it requires pure explosive speed, strength, and power. Competing in a sport where bigger is better, as long as you can still move, I came into the games anywhere between 178-180 pounds. It might seem odd to think of a female athlete who weighs 180 pounds, but moving a 400-pound sled is no easy task, and as my teammates like to say, “it takes mass to move mass.”  I proved that theory; at 180lbs I won an Olympic bronze medal. (more…)

Want to Improve Patient Health? Stop Promoting Health!

Michelle Segar, PhD, MPH is Director of  Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy (SHARP) Center and Researcher for the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, University of Michigan. Thanks to her for sharing the following post on the interest within the health care and wellness industries regarding the science behind why health promoters should stop promoting health if they want patients to adopt healthy lifestyles. 

Michelle SegarHealth promoters need a better hook than “health” if they want patients to actually achieve better health.

This suggestion may seem paradoxical and even downright heretical. But a quick reality check with those who have tried and failed repeatedly to stick to a health-motivated exercise or diet plan (maybe even yourself!) will reveal the truth: The vague promise of future “health” is rarely enough to sustain the behavior that gets us there.

Prescribing and promoting “health” as the reason for adopting a healthy lifestyle (eat more fruits and vegetables, move more, get enough sleep) seems like a logical thing to do, right? Interestingly, this is simply an assumption. It has no basis in science.

Based on research in behavioral economics as well as on my own published studies about how to motivate sustainable healthy lifestyles, the case that health organizations and professionals should stop promoting health right now is strong. Here’s just a few of the reasons why.

Logic Doesn’t Motivate. Emotions Do.

The logic behind promoting healthy living is easy to understand: “If my patients or employees make healthier choices, they will be healthier and use fewer health care dollars, so let’s promote healthy living.” And exercising and eating well for your health definitely sounds logical. The problem is that logic doesn’t motivate. Emotions do. (more…)

Concetta Tomaino and the Healing Power of Music

Congratulations to Disruptive Women in Health Care Dr. Concetta Tomaino who continues to show us the power of music to heal. The following post by  first appeared in Women’s Voices for Change on July 11, 2016.

Concetta Tomaino with her late colleague Dr. Oliver Sacks, to whom Dustin Hoffman presented the Music Has Power award in 2006.

Concetta Tomaino with her late colleague Dr. Oliver Sacks, to whom Dustin Hoffman presented the Music Has Power award in 2006.

Music! We know it can stimulate, excite, soothe, transport . . . . indeed, it sometimes sparks emotion so pleasurable that it actually sends chills down the spine. (Like sex, cocaine other abused drugs, and food, music triggers the area of the brain that releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and reward.)

But who knew that music has the power to help stimulate the memory of patients with Alzheimer’s disease; help Parkinson’s patients learn to walk again; help restore speech to a patient who has had a stroke; help a child with autism learn to socialize and speak for the first time; reduce blood pressure; and reduce severe anxiety in pre- and post-surgery patients?

Back in 1978, when Concetta Tomaino was doing her clinical internship as a music therapist at a nursing home in Brooklyn, practically no scientist was doing evidence-based research on using music to heal. She would be one of the first.

“At the time, all that people thought about music therapy was that it could be used to engage people, to help them socialize,” she says. “I was working with people with end-stage Alzheimer’s disease. They were non-responsive or very agitated and not connected to anything in their environment. And yet, when familiar music was played to them, they showed recognition – some sang the words Working with these people demonstrated to me that there was something about music that connected to people who seemed to have no cognitive function left. That’s what started me on this quest to understand how music can access and preserve function in people who seem to have lost it.” (more…)

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