Denting the Universe with NASA Astronaut Cady Coleman

Attending the Dent conference can be a life altering experience and I've been lucky enough to be present for the past two years. Dent is an invitation-only gathering held once a year in Sun Valley, ID for people who want to "put a dent in the universe," as Steve Jobs once said. It was founded by Jason Preston and Steve Broback, two forward thinking visionaries that have changed the landscape of technology for over twenty years.

At this year's conference, I had the honor of interviewing NASA Astronaut, Catherine Grace "Cady" Coleman about her career in space. This interview was a prelude to the announcement of Dent: Space. The first Dent: Space conference will be held in San Francisco on September 21st through 23rd, 2016.

I had some interesting questions for Cady. Watch the short thirty minute video where you'll learn about calluses in space, UFOs, CAPCOMs, the Journey to Mars, Space X, and the NASA Space Apps Challenge.  If you prefer, the full transcript is after the jump.

MC: Cady Coleman is an astronaut, can you tell? Because she has all the badges and everything which makes her absolutely official! Cady has over a 180 days in space (accumulated over two space with Shuttle missions), a six-month expedition with the International Space Station; she launched and landed aboard the Soyuz Russian spacecraft, she acted as the lead robotics and Science Officer during her tenure abroad the ISS and you performed a second ever free flyer robotic capture from the ISS. Presently, you are astronaut and innovation lead at NASA’s Office at Chief Technologist. Are you the Chief Technologist? 


Thoughts on International Women’s Day #OneDayIWill

International Women’s Day is March 8, and Google is encouraging women everywhere to share their aspirations that day on social media using the hashtag, #OneDayIWill.

The team from Google Doodle reached out to see it I wanted to be part of of the day, but I had to come up with a single aspiration. This, as a friend said, is a problem that happens too rarely. What could I possibly say that would, in one Tweetable sentence, say everything I wish for women everywhere?

I asked friends. I asked my daughter who works at a University. I asked millennials (thinking perhaps they had a better line on this than me). No one's input expressed exactly how I feel. There's no way I could be snarky. This had to be real. 

So, after a weekend of thinking and writing lots of notes; it was time to turn in my aspiration - for women everywhere.

After watching the Academy Awards, it came to me. It seemed like there weren't enough women represented. Where are the women ready to take on the projects that will be honored by the Academy?


Secrets You Need to Know Before You Write and Sell Your Book

If there's one question that I consistently get from friends and online acquaintances, it is one for advice on writing a book. It seems that everyone wants to write a book. People write books for different reasons. I think I was born wanting to write a book, I majored in English Literature for that reason. For other reasons, I ended up in marketing, but the need to write a book - to help people - never went away. The most common reasons I hear from people are:
  • Establish themselves as an expert in their field (does that really work?)
  • Get more speaking engagements
  • Satisfy a heartfelt need
  • Fulfill their ego to be a "published" author
Writing and selling my books is my main job (along with constantly researching my topics), it comes before everything else, even social media and speaking. I have been writing books since 1998 and sold a million by 2007. I don't count the numbers anymore, what counts to me is hearing from my readers. I am lucky to have been writing long enough to see the impact my books have made on my reader's lives.

Wanting to write a book and actually finishing the project are two vastly different things - just ask anyone who has written one. You also need to know, writing books are not for everyone. "Long form" content takes on a completely new meaning when you're expected to write not just 1,500 words - but over 300 pages on a topic.


Watson's Cognitive Computing Enables Trendspotting and Foresight

I was lucky enough to be a part of an IBM Signature Moment, the launch of Watson Trend App and web hub; the meeting of the world’s most famous super computer and consumer holiday shopping needs. Watson is the “Jeopardy” winning supercomputer that is capable of understanding natural language to reveal insights from massive amounts of unstructured data. This is artificial intelligence, or more exactly called, cognitive computing. Cognitive computing is self-learning and builds upon itself as it gathers more and more data.

Using Watson Trend as a gift guide this holiday season, shoppers will have a new way to understand the reasoning behind “why” certain items become “must haves” during the gift-giving season.

A retailer will also be able to examine Watson Trends to plan what inventory to ship where, whether to stock up and which products are likely to stand the test of time.

For the launch, on November 19, I interviewed Maria Winans, CMO, IBM Commerce, in a #WatsonTrend Twitter chat. She gave the Twitter participants further insights into how Watson will change the way people will benefit from machine learning.

Maria made it clear that unlike standard analytic analysis, through cognitive computing, Watson understands the human language.