Archive for January, 2017

Future of Education

I am so excited to be part of Abundance 360 Summit in LA with Peter Diamandis. My purpose of coming is about exploring the future of education. I believe that the way we (not just our children) learn is going to fundamentally transform over the next decade.

The top 5 technologies that will reshape the future of education:

1. Virtual Reality which can make learning truly immersive

2. 3D printing will allow students to bring their ideas to life

3. Machine Learning will make learning adaptive and personalized

4. Artificial Intelligence or “An AI Teaching Companion will personalize the lesson for the specific student and his needs

5. Sensors & Networks are going to connect everyone, making access to rich video available at all times

5 guiding principles for future of education: 

Given that in a relative near-term future robotics and artificial intelligence will allow any of us, from age 8 to 108, to easily and quickly find answers, create products or accomplish tasks, all simply by expressing our desires. In this future, what attributes will be most critical for our children to learn to become successful in their adult life? What’s most important for educating our children today?

For me it’s about passion, curiosity, imagination, critical thinking and grit.

1. Passion: You’d be amazed at how many people don’t have a mission in life… A calling… something to jolt them out of bed every morning. The most valuable resource for humanity is the persistent and passionate human mind, so creating a future of passionate kids is so very important.

2. Curiosity: Curiosity is something innate in kids, yet something lost by most adults during the course of their life. Why? In a world of Google, robots and AI, raising a kid that is constantly asking questions and running “what if” experiments can be extremely valuable. In an age of machine learning, massive data and a trillion sensors, it will be the quality of your questions that will be most important.

3. Imagination: Entrepreneurs and visionaries imagine the world (and the future) they want to live in, and then they create it. Kids happen to be some of the most imaginative humans around… it’s critical that they know how important and liberating imagination can be.

4. Critical Thinking: In a world flooded with often-conflicting ideas, baseless claims, misleading headlines, negative news and misinformation, learning the skill of critical thinking helps find the signal in the noise. This principle is perhaps the most difficult to teach kids.

5. Grit/Persistence: Grit is defined as “passion and perseverance in pursuit of long-term goals,” and it has recently been widely acknowledged as one of the most important predictors of and contributors to success.


Module 1: Storytelling/Communications

Module 2: Passions

Module 3: Curiosity & Experimentation

Module 4: Persistence/Grit

Module 5: Technology Exposure

Module 6: Empathy

Module 7: Ethics/Moral Dilemmas

Module 8: Creative Expression & Improvisation

Module 9: Coding

Module 10: Entrepreneurship & Sales

Module 11: Language

Mindsets for the 21st century:

One of the reasons I really like Peter is because he is also talking about the importance of mindsets, and not just the abundance and exponential mindset for entrepreneurs and CEOs.

Many “mindsets” are important to promote. Here are a couple to consider:

Nurturing Optimism & An Abundance Mindset:

We live in a competitive world, and kids experience a significant amount of pressure to perform. When they fall short, they feel deflated. We all fail at times — that’s part of life. If we want to raise “can-do” kids who can work through failure and come out stronger for it, it’s wise to nurture optimism. Optimistic kids are more willing to take healthy risks, are better problem-solvers and experience positive relationships. Finally, helping students understand (through data and graphs) that the world is in fact getting better will help them counter the continuous flow of negative news flowing through our news media.

When kids feel confident in their abilities and excited about the world, they are willing to work harder and be more creative.

Tolerance for Failure:

Tolerating failure is a difficult lesson to learn and a difficult lesson to teach. But it is critically important to succeeding in life. This should be reproduced in the classroom: kids should try to be critical of their best ideas (learn critical thinking), then they should be celebrated for ‘successfully failing’ — perhaps with cake or balloons.

Our 3 biggest learnings about collaboration in 2016

The ability to lead yourself and knowing who you are allow you to better approach collaborating with others, producing better results and long-term satisfaction. Authentic leadership changes people’s lifes and also the way companies work. Competition is replaced with collaboration. The latter was a prominent topic for us at ATAIRU too, on several levels.

No rocket science, but …

Thinking back about the lessons we learnt in 2016, we surprisingly found ourselves thinking: „Well, but this is nothing new, is it?“ We were thus reminded of the fact that it is one thing to know something, and quite anohter to have experienced it in everyday situations.

Lesson no. 1: Collaborating on a diverse team hurts. Still, when all the team members care about the common goal, the result is worth it and the team grows stronger.

Our strategic team meeting: As the first point on the agenda, we wanted to unveil our newly defined mission and get everyone aligned on it. All of us had been involved in the early phases, but only some of us had gone the whole way. Having accounted for everyone’s input, we were really proud to show the end product to the world. No big debate expected. Quite the opposite was true. All of a sudden, we found ourselves in the midst of a heated discussion most of us don’t particularly enjoy. Anger was the first instinctive reaction. We may know, rationally, that we are not being personally criticized, but the emotions like to have their say. Going to the bathroom or just taking a quick stroll around the office is a simple way to calm down, open to other people’s opinions and start listening, and it worked for us too. Needless to say, the team discussion which ensued proved to be very useful.

In such discussions, we follow three rules:

  1. We keep reminding ourselves of our long-term goal – we remain clear about why we are doing what we are doing.
  2. We create an environment where anyone can speak up their mind in an open, safe, and straightforward manner.
  3. We learn to listen to each other and provide feedback with respect. When criticism is due, we make sure to separate people from the problem.

By the end of the day, we were on our last legs, emotionally speaking, but we knew rationally that we had done a good job, also thanks to the unpleasant exchange. And one last thing: with hindsight, we can tell each other how upset we were, appreciate and praise each other, and have a good laugh.

Other vantage points, backgrounds, and ingrained cultural patterns on our team serve as a key to unlock rich and deep discussions and better – more thought-through, consistent and long-lasting – decision-making.

Lesson no. 2: The more people are involved, the higher the need for clear rules. Standardizing processes in the growth phase frees up your hands and time.

In the fall, we attended Roger Hamilton’s conference in London, worked for Microsoft in Moscow, and launched the first ATAIRU program for Japanese female managers in Tokyo. Our team grew. We had more presence both at events and in the media. We made Leadership Games, and published an e-book (only in Czech). All in all, we had our plates full, and the old way we worked stopped working. Not for external audiences, but surely for us inside.

Because when your company starts growing, time is the first thing you lose. You can win more time by either growing your team or by improving your product and process standards. Or by doing both simultaneously.

We knew we needed a seamless team. For a long time I have believed that clearly stipulated borders (roles and responsibilities) and direction (where we are going to) will give us freedom and flexibility.

Our international experience confirms we have a great product. Authentic leadership works even in dramatically different cultures. This fueled our belief in the purpose and benefits of what we do. But there was a BUT. Taking a lesson from manufacturing, there is a difference between making 50 or 500,000 chairs. Similarly, we needed to simplify workshop preparation and systemize communication. It all starts with small things, such as presentations and workbooks.

Rules and a system are a good foundation and free up your hands. Things may change again in a year’s time; it all depends on where we’ll be then, it all depends on context.

Lesson no. 3: Sometimes, saying „no“ to something is more important than what you say „yes“ to.

It all started with my enthusiasm and passion for making videos. We put together the concept with Yemi, and got off to a good start. Then came post-production – editing and shortening the raw material. Engrossed in it, we forgot about the follow-up campaign. We learnt that our original intention to place the videos on our web was not an option: it wasn’t designed for it. So, we found an agency and started to build a new one. This surfaced more imperfections. And so, eventually, we ended up redoing our branding and visual style. Then, finally, we designed the campaign and launched Leadership Games.

Would it not have been better to start at the other end? You bet! We got carried away, fueled by passion, and the time pressure did not help either. While each phase mattered, a reversed sequence would have worked better. We would have achieved the same result much more easily.

Saying “no” doesn’t have to be a hard denial, as in “No, never.” Instead, it can be about making a responsible decision: “Not now, but in three months.” Or “Not until we finish this.” It can be about thinking through the time and logical sequence, and waiting for the right moment. It will save you time, money and energy.

Another notch higher this year

We want to keep growing also this year. But we’ll take the challenge from a different angle. We want to better prioritize, focus on fewer things with more impact, and on internal processes. And we want to make mistakes. Only different ones. Ones that will move us forward. Another notch higher.

Dominika Kolowrat – Krakowská: On the origins and traditions, duties and pleasures

Your life story is really interesting. You graduated from a Law University, became an advocate and then got engaged in fashion business. You met Tomáš Kolowrat and after he died, you turned to asset management. I wonder to what extent it was your choice and how big the influence of your call of duty, and the responsibility toward family traditions and your origins, were. I know that life is not an “if game”; however, if you had got the chance, would you have decided differently? 


JUDr. Dominika Kolowrat-Krakowská

You are absolutely correct, life does not play “if game” and I approach all the obstacles that destiny puts across my way as challenges which I have to humbly accept and try to deal with as best as I can, so that “at the end of the day” I can stop, look behind and tell myself: you did the best you could.

Some events really were not my choice. I am not the type who cries over her destiny adversity. I am rather grateful for the fact that nothing is decided in advance and all unexpected occasions taught me something new. I would have never imagined that one day I would be dealing with a forest business plan, beaver protection, asset management or palace insurance, and a number of charity projects. And this is just a little part of the real scope of my activities.

So, the saying “noblesse oblige” or origins obliges is still valid in the 21st century? How do you fulfil this obligation? 

Let me amend that saying a bit to “promise obliges”. I promised to my life partner, František Tomáš Kolowrat-Krakowský, on his last day that I would take care of everything: of our under-aged children, family assets, restitution claims, charity, there were many things to deal with. And I kept that promise and believe that Tomáš is satisfied…

I often notice that nothing stands nowadays; a word given has no value. I personally strive to meet all my obligations, to behave so that I fully meet the trust bestowed on me by Tomáš and our children. I would be really glad if such terms like “honour” and “decency” which are perceived rather as a weakness than a strength or natural trait would rehabilitate again.

Traditional noble families, besides bringing innovations, paid attention to asset management and its aggrandizing like good economists, put in today’s terms. How do you personally perceive this life mission and overall social context and conditions under which you fulfil the task? 

I perceive this tradition mainly as a responsibility to my ancestors, to the “roots”, my children, and society in which I live and act. Tradition is not an obsolete thing at all, it is not fossilised and dysfunctional. On the contrary, after all these years I have been managing family assets, I again experience concluding agreements by a “handshake”.

This is truly the right tradition showing not being ashamed of my behaviour, enjoying trust from people around me and prospering as well as increasing wealth under these conditions. Not by deception, by making quick profit at the cost of disappointing a business partner because I have, simply put, “fleeced him out of his money”. If this model was adopted by the majority in our society, our little country would enjoy really good times.

Let’s move from the profit-making activities to the sponsoring ones. The list of your charity projects is unbelievably long and almost took me back to medieval times when aristocracy supported art, music, and theatre. In your case, it is the support of artists through the project Young Czechoslovak Artists, support of a theatre and cooperation with the Prague Shakespeare Company, support of children and disadvantaged people through the Endowment Fund Kolowrátek, a horse riding project… How do you select the projects and is there a new one you would like to include? 

I was always interested in the lives of concrete people; we have never contributed – no, it is not plural majestatis and I am speaking about “our” Endowment Fund Kolowrátek – in a blanket manner, without a concrete “receiver”. Gradually (besides the partners who have been supported by Kolowrat-Krakowská family already for hundreds of years, like the National Theatre) we have focused on young people, partly those who are disadvantaged at the starting line, especially disabled children from socially disadvantaged families, and partly those who on the contrary received a lot, they are exceptionally gifted, but they do not have means to be able to develop their talents appropriately.

I perceive you as a very brave woman with a great inner strength. Taking over the asset management after your partner’s death, bringing up two little children. Where did your inner strength come from?

My children and mum were the biggest help. They, as well as my friends and colleagues, were giving me energy. I am a life optimist and of course I also believe that Tomáš is still with me and keeps his fingers crossed…

Endowment Fund Kolowrátek

Endowment Fund Kolowrátek

How do you generally perceive the situation of women and widowed women at present?

First of all, it is of paramount importance at what age or what life situation a woman becomes a widow or what the reasons for her living without a partner are. However, I generally believe in the saying “He who does not strive after his happiness shall have none”. So, if I have healthy hands and head, I can manage practically anything. I always find amusing to hear some women, or rather their self-proclaimed speakers from the political field, crying: we want more rights, more possibilities, more leading positions and chairs on the boards. But this is not the case. On the other hand, I would be offended if I received – by strange quotas – some advantage or priority at the expense of somebody who is more capable than me. Yes, the Bible has always emphasised protection of orphans and widows because they had no support at all. But fortunately, it is not this way anymore. Life simply goes on and I can’t freeze in the moment when I (and my children) lost the closest person 12 years ago…

What makes you happy and what are you looking forward to? 

I have reasons to be happy every day and I am looking forward to every new positive challenge. It is very important to find something nice every day, be it just the smallest thing which somebody else wouldn’t think it’s even worth mentioning…

Photo By Michal Linhart

The interview was published in Czech & Slovak Leaders magazine.

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