Adam Braun

NYT bestselling author and founder of Pencils of Promise

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 01, 2015

Discussion

Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
Hi I'm Adam Braun, NY Times Bestselling Author and Founder of Pencils Of Promise. What do you most want to know? Editor's Note: Check out Adam's book, Promise of a Pencil, here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Promis... For more Adam, check out our podcast episode with him here: https://soundcloud.com/product-h...
Hey @adambraun what subject area of education do you think technology could have the greatest impact?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@alfink92 Great question. There's a ton of places where technology could and already is impacting education (last mile communities, leveling playing field through open access to content, reduction in value of degrees/accreditation, flipped classrooms, etc). In terms of subject area, it's probably in the sciences. Greater technology lets you do things like map out greater health possibilities and accelerate evaluations through machine learning which have huge implications. In the arts though I'm psyched about how VR can change the study of history, creating immersive environments that recreate what it was like to live in different eras of history is probably a better way to learn than just through written text.
Teresa Hammerl@colazionearoma · Socialmediapreneur
Hi Adam, what book are you reading right now?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@colazionearoma I'm currently reading Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda.
SmartCodeHQ@smartcodehq · SmartCodeHQ
@adambraun Amazing book, along with The Active Side of Infinity two of my favorites.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@adambraun Hey Adam - Thank you for joining! For founders who want to hire CEOs, what would you recommend? I know you just went through that process with Pencils of Promise.
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@eriktorenberg great question Erik. I'd recommend you hire a great search firm and be incredibly patient. "Stay guided by your values, not your necessities" is the title of one of the chapters in my book and that applies to a Founder to CEO transition. We waited a full year and 700 candidates before we made an offer to Michael Dougherty, PoP's new CEO. The other thing I'd say is that their fit with your internal culture is even more important than their skill set. As a founder, if you've cultivated a great culture it's all about the people, and you need to find a leader you can trust will not only support but enhance that culture.
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
@adambraun - what's your opinion on some of the progressive schools in the country? Yay or nay?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@jeffumbro depends on the school, but in general I'm Yay for anything that attempts to improve/innovate on the status quo in education. Big fan of KIPP, Success Academies, Uncommon schools. I also think what Max Ventilla is doing at Alt-School is fascinating and could have huge ramifications for how we treat K-12 in this country.
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
@adambraun Check out Loving Learning by the late Tom Little. Absolutely worth the read.
David Bozin@davidbozin · STARTUP Growth | BD | Op's
@adambraun I was highly involved in an organization called No Right Brain Left Behind (Bringing STEAM to schools and students in modern ways). Regardless, it is incredibly difficult to get something that we all know as individuals to be so important into education. Why is the educational system so backwards and adverse to change, regardless of how beneficial it may be?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@davidbozin it's adverse to change because it's hard to quantify results and hold people accountable. In health you can either say someone has been vaccinated or not, in education there's a lot more arbitrary measures as to whether someone has been educated and even if they are at that level what about three years later. It's also a fragmented issue so the solutions are fragmented rather than one-size-fits all. Also, teacher's unions carry tremendous power and so do government mandated programs which makes rapid innovation incredibly difficult.
Melissa@bulldog2332 · Wish Program intern, Make-A-Wish
Hey @adambraun, do you have any recommendations for how recent college graduates can keep in touch with their professional contacts throughout the year in an authentic and meaningful way?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@bulldog2332 Hi Melissa, I think the best way is to provide value to them consistently rather than making asks. Occasionally send through a great article that might be of interest to them, offer to make a helpful introduction or ask if they're making any hires where you can be helpful in sourcing candidates. The more you offer to help up front, the more they'll want to help you back in return when you graduate.
Melissa@bulldog2332 · Wish Program intern, Make-A-Wish
@adambraun thanks, Adam! If you have an additional moment for this follow-up comment/question: even though I know it's so important to offer value when possible, I tend to struggle with knowing what articles to send and value to add as I am just starting out. Did you experience this right after you graduated from college and if so, what was your approach to maintaining your professional relationships?
Daniel Landy@danolandy · 📚Babson Student
You and your brother have achieved incredible things. What are some key thing your parents did do to help their children achieve success?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@danoliverlandy they held us to incredibly high standards in everything we did, and told us consistently that they expected that we'd do something great. I write about their parenting style a lot throughout the book (amzn.to/1z7ZLRb), but they were extremely loving and supportive while also not accepting anything other than the people they believed we could become. The same thing applied to my sister and two adopted brothers from Mozambique.
Marty McFly@mcflyinthechi
@adambraun Hi Adam, do you have any tips for someone starting a global charity using transparency and social media?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@mcflyinthechi build a small but loyal following at first. make sure you communicate directly (one on one) with those early followers and build a passionate base. then empower them to become your torchbearers and leaders. give them the tools to carry your mission forward in unique ways, but find ways to celebrate your super users at all times.
Ovi Negrean@ovinegrean · Founder @SocialBeeHQ
hey @adambraun - I've read your book a couple of years ago and it was a great inspiration. That year I've donated my birthday and was one of the best gifts I've ever received. This year I was feeling a bit off (turning 30) so I did nothing. But I was surprised that I was not contacted by somebody from PoP to be asked if I wanted to donate my B-day again. Such a missed opportunity. Also - Please tell this crowd about Passbook - I think it's somebody everyone here should join! And now my Q: what's next for Adam Braun - now that you're not the CEO of POP any more? Could there be a for profit (not just for impact) start-up in your future? :-)
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@ovinegrean Hi Ovi, first off big thanks for the bday donation. I'll tell the team about the missed opportunity, and if anyone reading this wants to donate their bday or start a PoP campaign please email Susie at sharrison@pencilsofpromise.org so she can help you get started. For those interested in Passport, it's a simple way to change lives every month via our member program. www.pencilsofpromise.org/passport In terms of what's next, I have a big idea I've been brewing on for a while and when the time is right will be pursuing it heavily. That said, my heart will always be in PoP and I'm going to be heavily involved as Founder and Board member. Stay tuned though, will be writing a lot more on those decisions and what's next via blogs at adambraun.com you can sign up for.
Ovi Negrean@ovinegrean · Founder @SocialBeeHQ
@adambraun Sounds good Adam. Getting back to my launch - I'm in the middle of launching nugget on Product Hunt. We're #4 now.. http://www.producthunt.com/tech/... BTW - we're nuggetizing your book as well - aka taking the best 'quotes' from the book and adding them all to our app. Looking forward to following your next BIG adventure Adam :)
Aditya Gopal Ganguly@gopcruise · Developer, Practical Knowledge Labs
Hi Adam, any plans for bringing your work to India?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@gopcruise right now PoP isn't expanding into any new countries but we'll be considering India amongst others when we do add our next country at some point in the years ahead. I'm currently working on an initiative called the Global Education Platform that was conceived by the UN Special Envoy for Global Education and we're planning to launch a major pilot in India in October. More details on that to come via www.gbc-education.org/gep
Dice-K Miyoshi@dicek344 · Growth Marketer, Tradecraft
Hey @adambraun, who is your roll model? and why? p.s. you are one of my roll models! Thank you!
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@dicek344 thanks a lot, that really means so much. My biggest role models are my parents, taught me everything I know about what it means to be a great family member, husband and man.
Dice-K Miyoshi@dicek344 · Growth Marketer, Tradecraft
@adambraun That is great answer. Thank you so much.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
@adambraun Hey! You recently got married - what’s the biggest relationship advice you have?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@bentossell haha great question Ben. Biggest relationship advice is to always find ways to show the person you love how much you love them. Whether it's a small handwritten note, sending them a gift while on the road, making them breakfast in bed, etc. It's when people stop trying that relationships fall apart, so spend each day trying to make your significant other fall back in love with you all over again.
Milly Toovey@millytoovey · BOOMCAST
POP is amazing, congratulations @adambraun for turning a dream into a beautiful reality! How much of the POP awareness has come from celebrity ambassadors (such as Justin Bieber)? And do you think the power of ambassadors is crucial in building a world-wide community?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@millytoovey Hi Milly, ambassadors have been absolutely essential to PoP's growth, but that doesn't just mean celebrities. Justin has always been an amazing supporter and he's used his platform to shine tremendous light on our work, but he's one of thousands of inspiring people who have found a passion for our work at PoP and shared that with others. Kennedy Donnelly biked across the country for us as a 17 year old, Mayer Sidikaro raised $7000 for his 7th bday, and there are plenty more stories like that. You cannot grow a worldwide movement without enabling others to become your ambassadors, whether they're famous or not. You can see a few of the stories of different PoP ambassadors at the bottom of the peniclsofpromise.org homepage or in this video-
Milly Toovey@millytoovey · BOOMCAST
@adambraun thank you for taking time out to reply - I'll pass it on to my team!
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
@adambraun How has your brother’s success effected you?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@alexcartaz of course, my brother is one of my biggest motivations and as we've both grown up we've only gotten closer. every time he reaches a new milestone of success I try to learn as much as I can from his growth, and he's one of the first people I usually consult on major life decisions as well.
Anthony Garibay@ajundftd · AJUNDFTD
@adambraun Do you think Social Media Advertising is the new wave for marketing that's coming? How important has it been to you?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@ajundftd it's not coming, it's already here. if you're not paying for ads on Facebook then you're not really getting seen, so advertising has deeply infiltrated social media. social media was and still is important to me because it allows me to have an authentic voice and make real connections with others. i think it'll only grow in importance as more people come online in the years ahead, but you'll need to navigate to new platforms to reduce the noise that advertisers are creating.
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
@adambraun! It's so good to have you here. I've learned so much from watching you grow Pencils of Promise over the years, but much of it has been through what is made public. What are some of the less public/obvious ways in which you've grown personally? In other words, how have you most changed? And what hasn't changed much at all from the Adam during the Semester at Sea days?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@melissajoykong let's start with what hasn't changed since the SAS days. I don't think my core personality and drives have changed much, I still love adventures and pranks, and I'm still really internally intense and introspective. the things that aren't as public (which this now makes public I guess) is how much my relationship with my wife Tehillah has impacted how I view the world. I used to be all about impacting as many lives as possible in the areas of deepest poverty globally whereas now I have more nuanced interests in some of the challenges here in the US as well as the desire to be the best person I can be for my future family. In the backpacker days I never thought much about how my decisions impacted my family, but nowadays it's very much top of mind and it's something I'm really excited about.
Juan Antonio Karmy@jkarmy · Maker | Engineer | Musician
Hey Adam. Your book is absolutely amazing and inspiring! I'm currently working hard on building my own company on healthcare, which means a lot of time working on my own space, alone. How did you manage / what did you do to handle the "day-time loneliness" while working on PoP in the early days?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@jkarmy It's def a part of the startup grind, fortunately I had good friends around that I could decompress with most nights. Maybe try working in a coworking space? Just make sure you're sharing the journey along the way with others.
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
People are driven by a host of different things: power, money, fame, startup growth, etc. Arguably, some of these are manifestations of more deeply rooted drives. At your core, what most drives why you do what you do?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@melissajoykong the thing that drives me most is the desire to use my life as an instrument to bring about as much positive change in people's lives as possible. things like power, money, fame, org growth are all factors that may or may not contribute towards enabling that end goal, but the question I consistently ask myself when deciding on a major challenge is always rooted in whether that most enables a path to make sure my life positively impacts others in a deep and meaningful way.
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
Last two: (1) What frequently given piece of advice do you disagree with, and why? (2) What advice do you think your 80-year-old self would give you right now?
Adam Braun@adambraun · Founder, Pencils of Promise
@melissajoykong 1- Follow your passion. I think people should follow their purpose instead. Follow your passion vs. follow your purpose is like saying "pursue happiness" vs. "pursue meaning". More thoughts on it here - http://adambraun.com/meaning-vs-... 2- My 80 year old self would say to me now, "stop worrying so much, it's all going to work out. stop sweating the small stuff and focus on the things that truly matter- family, health, love, travel, friendship, being there for others, gratitude, helping others and being a positive contributor to the world."