The Blog of Daniel Francavilla

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You will fail to have a great career unless… 0

Posted on March 12, 2012 by Daniel Francavilla

You’re going to fail at having a good career, Larry Smith says passionately. Why? Because there are now only either great jobs or high-stress, blood-sucking, soul-destroying jobs – no “good” ones.

If you want a great career, you have to peruse your passion and dreams. Yet, so many people decide not to do this, despite countless desires to do so.

This talk, both funny and blunt from TEDxUW, Larry Smith “pulls no punches when he calls out the absurd excuses people invent when they fail to pursue their passions”.

One of many parts that stuck out was Smith sharing that, “When I was 5, I was a genius, but my professors have beaten that idea out of my head long since”. Although the audience laughs, I think it’s horrible how so many kids ideas and passions are shut down by parents, society and stereotypes they’re conformed to. These are missed opportunities.

Want to get a job and work hard? Society and your employer will let you work hard – but will that make you happy? Smith says the evidence is against it.

Even most people that find their passion fail because they continue to create new excuses on why not to peruse it. I don’t plan on being one of these people – I plan to continue per suing my passions and not locking myself into a job or situation that’s repetitive and doesn’t allow for continued growth and creativity.

It’s not just about pursuing your interests – it’s pursuing your passion. Passion is the key. Passion is the thing that helps you “create the highest expression of your talent”.

Don’t be afraid to try, don’t be afraid to fail.

Watch Larry Smith’s “Why you will fail to have a great career” from TEDxUW

TEDxToronto: Calling ideas into action 0

Posted on October 11, 2010 by Daniel Francavilla

“An idea without any action behind it merely stays as an idea.”

After downloading the podcasts and being shown the talks in various courses at school, for the first time, I was able to attend a TED event in-person.

My application was selected to attend TEDxToronto in September. The theme was A Call to Action, which felt like a great fit as we just personally hosted a conference named “Called to Action” for students last year.

Thousands watched online from across Canada and beyond, and it was exciting to be there. But what was the event all about? Inspiring talks and ideas; “In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, it brings together the city’s foremost thought leaders, change makers and everyday people from each discipline and challenges them to deliver powerful, unforgettable and unique TEDxTalks”.

It was incredible to be involved in the online discussion with Twitter; using hash tags and quotes and links to photos it was just amazing to see the online enthusiasm of everyone in the room. It was the #1 Trending Topic on Twitter for the day and 20,000+ people in 100+ countries viewed the live webcast.

Instead of re-summarizing the event, I found a great post that sums-it-up nicely by Elisa Birnbaum (a freelance journalist, producer and communications consultant who’s also the president of Elle Communications and co-founder of SEE Change Magazine):

Here’s the thing about ideas. They’re powerful. Not only in their ability to inspire, confound and configure, but in their capacity to motivate, and promote discourse and debate. They push us to reach outside our self-contained box of understanding and pursue our potential, our call to action, which was the underlying theme of this year’s TEDxToronto.

The ideas that came out of our agora—some brash and brazen, others pure and simple—gave us all reason to pause, think, and act. From Drew Dudley’s hope that we embrace our inner leader, to Dr. Catherine Zahn’s insistence that we open our eyes to discover, discuss and demand a better life for those facing mental challenges, and Neil Hetherington’s inclusive community-building model, one that instills eventual homeowners with a sense of pride and ownership (and his directive to stop watching Extreme Home Makeover, where that sensibility is lacking).

Amanda Sussman reminded us that politicians can make good partners if relationships are pursued effectively, stating, “Incremental reform is the triumph and frustration of our democracy. But change happens in small steps.” And Tonya Surman introduced us to the notion of community bonds as powerful tools of potential. Social change cannot succeed by the efforts of one person alone, she added, though social networks are only as effective as what we do with them.

Trey Anthony’s call to action was to remain true to oneself and be fearless. Break out of your restrictive self-generated box, she added, and by gosh, leave the job you hate (a standing ovation followed). “Dive into your fear; one cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to swim away from the shore…even at risk of drowning,” opined Anthony. Along those same lines, George Kourounis left the audience with this thought: embrace your fears for the worst thing you can be is comfortable.

The French writer Victor Hugo wrote that nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come. How right he was. Ideas are at the very heart of social change and the speakers who promote them embody Aristotle’s notion of leaders – inspirational GPS’ on the road to human potential. As such, our city’s new agora, TEDxToronto, established its place in the world of thought, provocation and action.

Powerful Quotes from the Talks

  • On living in the moment: “You’re as young as you’re ever going to be.” – NEIL PASRICHA
  • On walking into the crater of an active volcano: “Fear is my friend. If I don’t have fear in these extreme situations, then I’ll make mistakes.” – GEORGE KOUROUNIS
  • “The world says, ‘You’re black, queer, working class, and you fit in this box.’ I say that your call to action is to come out of your box.” TREY ANTHONY
  • “There is no world. There are only 6 million understandings of it.” – DREW DUDLEY
  • “I invite you all to join me in this jihad of love.” – BOONAA MOHAMMED

More recap is available at

I look forward to the next chance to experience TED, to inspire and motivate further – and to highlight the potential and opportunities available to us all.

Bill Gates working on helping the world 1

Posted on November 24, 2009 by Daniel Francavilla

As most of the world knows, Bill Gates stepped down from daily operations at Microsoft to focus on the Gates Foundation about a year ago.

Gates is working hard on major global issues of Education and Healthcare. Instead of spreading money over many, many causes, he focuses on these key factors and is a huge believer in education. On healthcare, he believes that by 2025 people will not have to die from Malaria, which is currently a leading cause of death in the developing world.

The philosophy is simple: it’s all about ridding the world of inequality. This is something we can all do, on different scales.

How does Bill Gates make such a substantial impact? Besides his huge financial wealth (plus the 31 Billion donated by Warren Buffet), he consults scientists when deciding where to invest, and hopes that in the long-run some of his investment will pay off as successful vaccines and cures, for example.

Mashable posted a detailed article called Bill Gates’ Plan for Fixing the World that summarizes what Gates is trying to do, his advice, and some of his thoughts on the financial crisis.

Gates gave an interesting TED Talk recently relating to these issues, which you can watch below [direct link]:

The power of taking time off 0

Posted on November 05, 2009 by Daniel Francavilla

In Think Tank class, my instructor was thinking about relaxation and how much we should value really taking time off. In school, we tend to be extremely busy and don’t have a lot of time to truly relax and take time to pursue our own independent projects to their full extent.

When asked, only a fraction of the class had actually did what it was they wanted in the past few weeks (e.g. go a for a walk in the leaves, make sushi, write a letter).

We were shown a video of a TED Talk by designer Stefan Sagmeister. Every seven years, Sagmeister actually closes his New York studio for a yearlong sabbatical. Why? To rejuvenate and refresh their creative outlook. He explains the value of time off, which we often overlook, and shows the innovative projects inspired by his time off in Bali.

Below is the full video of Sagmeister’s talk on time off (direct link):

Another thought we were asked about in class: With such pressure to be successful, get a job, do well and climb the ladder, when do you plan to stop? It’s a challenge to find the right point to do so.

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