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Time for 10 Things, by Janusz Korczak

By Shlomo Maital


      Janusz Korczak was the pen name of Henryk Goldszmit (1878-1942), a Polish educator, author, medical doctor and teacher known as “Mr. Doctor”.  He wrote wonderful children’s books.   He spent many years working as director of an orphanage in Warsaw. He was offered sanctuary repeatedly – but refused it, and stayed with his orphans when the entire population of the institution was sent from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka extermination camp, where he and his children died. Here is how an eyewitness in the Ghetto described the roundup:

   Janusz Korczak was marching, his head bent forward, holding the hand of a child, without a hat, a leather belt around his waist, and wearing high boots. A few nurses were followed by two hundred children, dressed in clean and meticulously cared for clothes, as they were being carried to the altar.    ….When the group of orphans finally reached the Umschlagplatz, an SS officer recognized Korczak as the author of one of his favorite children’s books and offered to help him escape. By another version, the officer was acting officially, as the Nazi authorities had in mind some kind of “special treatment” for Korczak (some prominent Jews with international reputations were sent to Theresienstadt). Whatever the offer, Korczak once again refused. He boarded the trains with the children and was never heard from again.

   On my wall at work, I have a small plaque with these words written by Mr. Doctor. Perhaps they are worth sharing.  


= = = = =

                                 Time for 10 Things

  1. Take time for work – it’s the price of success.
  2. Take time for thought – it’s the price of your power.
  3. Take time for playing – it’s the secret of your youthfulness.
  4. Take time for reading – it’s the foundation of your knowledge
  5. Take time for serenity – it will help you wash the dust from your eyes
  6. Take time for friendship and friends – it’s the fountain of your happiness
  7. Take time for fraternal love – friendship with someone nearby will ensure you   contribute meaningfully to others.
  8. Take time for dreaming – it will pull your soul up to the stars.
  9. Take time for laughter and playfulness — it will ease the burdens of life
  10. Take time for making plans — then you will have time to do the other nine.

   Rest in peace, Mr. Doctor.    

Kids of All Ages (up to 100) Need to Play!

By Shlomo  Maital   


   Hilary G. Conklin, Ph.D., is a fellow with the OpEd Project and an associate professor in the College of Education at DePaul University in Chicago. Writing in TIME magazine’s IDEAS on-line blog, she writes:  “Helicopter parents and teachers, stand down. Kids of all ages need time to learn through play in school.”   It’s time we got serious about the crucial importance of play.  (My wife brought this piece to my attention).

   She continues:   “In classrooms across the country, the countdown to summer vacation has begun. The winter doldrums have always taken a toll, but in the era of test-dominated schooling and the controversial Common Core, it seems increasingly that it’s not until summer that teenagers have any prospect for having fun any more. One of the casualties of current education reform efforts has been the erosion of play, creativity, and joy from teenagers’ classrooms and lives, with devastating effects. Researchers have documented a rise in mental health problems—such as anxiety and depression—among young people that has paralleled a decline in children’s opportunities to play. And while play has gotten deserved press in recent months for its role in fostering crucial social-emotional and cognitive skills and cultivating creativity and imagination in the early childhood years, a critical group has been largely left out of these important conversations. Adolescents, too—not to mention adults, as shown through Google’s efforts —need time to play, and they need time to play in school Early childhood educators have known about and capitalized on the learning and developmental benefits of play for ages.”    

   “To be sure,” she continues, “there are times to be serious in school. The complex study of genocide or racism in social studies classrooms, for example, warrant students’ thoughtful, ethical engagement, while crafting an evidence-based argument in support of a public policy calls upon another set of student skills and understandings. As with all good teaching, teachers must be deliberate about their aims. But, given that play allows for particular kinds of valuable learning and development, there should be room in school to cultivate all of these dimensions of adolescent potential.   Purposefully infusing play into middle and high school classrooms holds the potential for a more joyful, creative, and educative future for us all—a future in which kids have more interesting.”

      Dr. Conklin might have added that adults, too, of all ages, especially us senior citizens, need opportunities to fool around, imagine, create and play.   Creative ideas emerge from an ambience of fun, joking and just general fooling around.  And most important — play is fun.  When life is enjoyed, it is prolonged. 

2014’s Great Innovations: TIME’s Genius Awards

By Shlomo   Maital   


   Each year, at the end of the year, TIME has an issue devoted to the year’s greatest innovations. Here are some of the top 25 innovations chosen by TIME for 2014, from its Dec. 1-8 “genius” issue.

  1. The Hoverboard: skateboard that truly hovers. It has very short battery life, but like in the movie Back to the Future, it does hover.  
  2. The smart home: it knows when you’re there, when you’re away, when you’re hot, when you’re cold, what you need…
  3. fusion reactor: Lockheed claims it can now build an energy producing reactor based on fusion of hydrogen atoms, as in the hydrogen bomb.
  4. wireless electricity: delivery electricity through induction, without wires.
  5. 3D printing: it’s come of age, you can make anything. And at home.
  6. Coolest cooler: Neat cooler for picnics.
  7. Microsoft Tablet Surface Pro 3:   believe it or not, a cool product from MS, a great tablet.
  8. Lumo lift: a chip that ensures we maintain good posture.
  9. BMW I3: a great innovative car
  10. Glow ring: a ring that glows when we have an email or call on our phones.
  11. Smart pillbox: Pillbox that reminds us when and what to takes

15 Super banana: Lots of Vitamin A in them, keeps us healthy

  1. Super Wheel: a 3rd rear wheel on a bike, with a small motor…
  2. A filter that cleans viruses out of our system
  3. sign language translator: so we can talk with those who sign
  4. Play USMO: device (app) that gives kids ways to play actively

21   Bluetooth basketball:   tracks its speed, trajectory, so we can improve those 3-pointers

  1. eatable wrappers:   you eat the chocolate, eat the wrapper. Cool?

23   Women action figures: why just SuperMAN???

25   Monopole: the selfie pole, now ubiquitous worldwide. Why didn’t we think of it sooner?

   Notice the huge variety of innovations, the wide range of topics – the message is, innovate everywhere, innovate simple things (phones, bikers, balls), keep it simple, create real value.  

   Thanks, geniuses. Actually, you’re just ordinary people, motivated to work hard to create value and change the world.   Wish we all did that.

How to Build Great Ideas On Key Facts

By Shlomo   Maital


 How do you develop great ideas for startups (whether social or business-oriented), that truly meet unsatisfied wants and change the world?

   I got an idea about ideas, from the current issue of TIME Magazine, of all places (Sept. 8 and 15 double issue).    This issue has an incredible number of interesting facts, presented creatively, visually. 

   You get great ideas from one key fact.  That fact at one fell swoop demonstrates vividly the need, and sets the stage for thinking big,  for tackling huge problems with huge impact, if successful.


  •    At present,  2.4 billion people are connected to the Internet; 44.8 percent of them are in Asia.  That means that 4.6 billion people have NO Internet connection.  How can this pressing need best be met?   Challenge:  Find a way to bring the Internet to 4.5 billion people who currently lack it. 
  •    At present, 2.8 billion people in the world cook over open fires; 4.3 million people die each year due to indoor air pollution, caused by open fires used for cooking. Most of the deaths are women and children. Challenge?  Find a way to save millions of lives, lost through inhalation of smoke from indoor cooking fires; 
  • Half the world’s children go to schools without electricity. Challenge: Find a way to bring electricity to the 1.3 billion people in the world who have no access to it.
  • Between 1998 and 2010,    463 children have died of overheating or hyperthermia in cars in the United States, the majority of whom were accidently left behind by caregivers.   Challenge: Find a simple way to prevent this.
  •    60 million plastic water bottles are used annually in the United States alone. Challenge:  Find a biodegradable plastic, that degrades in 90 days, and that also fertilizes plants.  (One of my students in Shantou Univ. China, is close to a solution).

*  Apple has $158.8 billion in unspent cash reserves.  Huge cash reserves are held (abroad) by Microsoft, Cisco, Google, Pfizer, and other U.S. companies.  Challenge: Feasible legislation to get them to bring the money home and invest it in America.

   And, one example of how this could work.

  • Why don’t we get heart cancer???   Because tumors grow when cells divide and multiply uncontrolled – but heart cells never split and multiply, beginning shortly after birth, unlike other cells.  


  •    Idea: Technion Prof. Yoram Palti thought that if you put an electro-magnetic field around, say, the brain, when brain tumor cells tried to divide, creating a narrow cell wall, you could explode them with the magnetic field. This could treat ‘untreatable’ tumors and stop them in their tracks. Basis: Cell division is largely by sick ‘cancer’ cells.   Palti, who is over 70, and his startup now have a proven device that stops brain tumors in their tracks, as well as lung cancer (very hard to treat).  Check out “Novocure”. Thanks, Prof. Palti!

Two Perspectives on America: Optimist vs Pessimist

By Shlomo  Maital  


 The two major weekly news magazines, TIME and The Economist, each analyzed the U.S. economy in their most recent issues.

    TIME’s take:  A two-page spread headline, reading, in 120-point,  Surprise: The Economy isn’t as bad as you think; 7 signs America has turned the corner.    It is by Roger Altman, an investment banker who was deputy undersecretary of the Treasury, under President Bill Clinton. 

    The Economist’s take:  A brilliant cover showing a jockey riding a … tortoise,  headlined:  America’s lost oomph:  Why its long-term growth rate has slowed.

     Here are the arguments.  You judge.

     Altman:  1. Americans are spending more; 2. Housing has come back, with a 26% average increase in home prices in 20 key metro areas since April 2012;  3. Manufacturing is returning home to America;  4. Energy production is booming; in 2015 America will be the world’s leading oil producer!  5.  The environment is improving. 6.  American schools are working smarter; 7. Social trends are moving in the right direction; 80 % of high school students graduated, up from 73% in 2006.  

    The Economist:   The post-2008 recovery has been the weakest in the post WWII period.  The supply of workers and their productivity have not grown as expected. Many Americans have just given up job hunting and have disappeared from the labor force.   America spends little on retraining the jobless, has not raised the retirement age, as happened elsewhere, and has made disability insurance into a widespread welfare scheme.  Conclusion:  “The odds are that America’s economy will continue to lumber along at an underwhelming pace, and Americans will have no one to blame but their leaders.”

     They’re both right.  There ARE ‘upticks’ in America, as Altman claims.  He searched really hard for them; and he has a strong interest in optimism, because investment banking is built on it.  But The Economist too is right.  Long-term, it’s hard to see America growing much faster than its anemic 2.0 – 2.5 percent, without a boom in innovation that drives productivity.

     Conclusion?   That old half-full half-empty cup?  Drink the water.  Find opportunities, while the optimists and the pessimists are haranguing one another.     

The Einstein Principle in Innovation: Make Time Variable!

By Shlomo  Maital  

             Dali time               

  The painter Salvador Dali once painted a famous portrayal of time, in the form of ‘rubber stopwatches’.    It recalls Einstein’s breakthrough in relativity theory – in his theory of space and time,   time is no longer a constant, but in fact slows as the speed of light is approached.  Indeed, a space traveler moving at the speed of light would return to earth to find everybody much older than he or she. 

   This principle has now been used to revive television.  A few years ago, everybody was eulogizing TV  (Rest In Peace), with low quality programming jamming the cable airwaves and viewer ratings plummeting.  Amazingly, TV has revived.  According to David Carr, Media columnist for the New York Times, there is a blizzard of great new TV and cable series.  Here are a few:  Breaking Bad, Grey’s Anatomy (my own favorite), Nashville, The Walking Dead, House of Cards, Modern Family, Archer, True Detective, Game of Thrones, The Americans, Girls, Justified…and that’s just a start.

    What happened!

    Time changed.  That is – that high-tech remote, with the red button now enables us to record and view later, or to access and view an entire season of 7 or 13 or 24 shows from a whole series at one swat.   Time has become variable. That is, we no longer have to watch the program at the time slot allotted to it – often, in the past, the single most critical variable for a series’ success or failure.  We can now watch a series whenever we wish.

    There is a major lesson here.  When you innovate, if you can shift the time at which a product is used, consumed or enjoyed, you can turn failure into success.  So think carefully not only about your innovation but also about the forgotten question, ‘when’?  When is it used? When do people want to use it?  When CAN they use it?  Can I widen the range of (time) choice? 

    Television is the proof of concept.  Welcome back, TV.  As David Carr sums up, “the idiot box has gained heft and intellectual credibility to the point where you seem dumb if you are not watching it. “  Wow, what a change.   


Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital