American Innovation Reads

Some materials about successful industrial/applied research labs. I recommend all of them.

Dealers of Lightning. The definitive book about PARC.

Inside PARC: the ‘information’ architects (IEEE Spectrum, Oct 1985). Good article about PARC.

Interview with Bob Taylor (and another), who ran the PARC CS Lab.

The Idea Factory. The definitive book about Bell Labs. (There should be more…)

The Art of Doing Science and Engineering. Only indirectly about Bell Labs but so good that you should read it anyway.

Tuxedo Park. Book about the MIT Rad Lab, among other things. (Also worth reading Endless Frontier. Broader influence of NDRC is underestimated, as far as I can tell.)

MIT’s Building 20: “The Magical Incubator”. Transcript of a talk about Building 20.

Funding Breakthrough Research: Promises and Challenges of the “ARPA Model”. An analysis of what the ARPA model is and why it might work.

The Dream Machine. Book about ARPA, Licklider, and the creation of the internet.

The Power of the Context. Alan Kay’s reflections on ARPA and PARC.

The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Book about the Manhattan Project.

Skunk Works. The Lockheed Martin facility behind the U-2, SR-71, etc. (See also: Kelly Johnson’s 14 Rules, Kelly Johnson’s own memoir, Augustine’s Laws, Boyd, and National Defense.)

Organizing Genius: an exploration of commonalities across the Manhattan Project, Black Mountain College, Skunk Works, etc. Demis from DeepMind commented that it accords with how he manages the company.

Sidewinder. A history of the development of the Sidewinder missile and of the China Lake Navy research lab.

Scene of Change. Personal account from Rockefeller Foundation’s Warren Weaver. (Worked with Bush at NDRC during WWII; helped fund Green Revolution; funded most of the Nobel-winning molecular biologists.) Worth a quick skim—some good passages.

Alvarez: Adventures Of A Physicist. Luis Alvarez’s first-hand account of participating in the development of GCA, radar, and the Manhattan Project.

Doing the Impossible. How George Mueller managed the Apollo Program

The Collaborative Impact Network – Good-Doers, Shakers, and Innovators

In the spring of 2018, I was reading a book by Reid Hoffman called “The Startup of You.” In the book, he wrote about the PayPal Mafias, the notorious group of the former PayPal team who have met in informal circles chatting ideas and pursuits to have since founded Tesla Motors, LinkedIn, YouTube, Yelp, and SpaceX.

The 2018 was the year after the Trump transition team had come into the State Department. I saw a lot of my former colleagues, mentors, friends leave government, as well as good initiatives along with it. I had also taken a few months off and rejoined the State Department after leaving for a few months as a contractor. I became involved with impact-oriented initiatives such as NEXUS, a global movement to galvanize the next generation of young social entrepreneurs, impact investors, and family businesses and Concordia Summit, a public-private partnership for social impact.

I knew there were really amazing people both in and out of government. I was working in government on a project called Engage America, a whole of government initiative to bring interesting foreign policy initiatives closer to the American people, and I witnessed an initiative, a thirst in DC in government to make good things happen.

I wanted to connect them. I wanted to make the resources available.

It was pretty quick. I went on Facebook and I wanted to create a small group. I initially added a few friends from government, the nonprofits I knew, and the investors, family offices, and the pioneers.

My fingers moved pretty quickly. I made a Facebook group called The Collaborative Impact Network after a few changes, I called it a “community of innovators, influencers, thought leaders, and mentors helping each other pursue “good” in original, purposeful, and creative ways.” I added a few more lines.

“Through a decentralized network approach, we unlock capacity for global impact through collaboration across unlikely agents across sectors – private and public. The group is based on the concept of PayPal Mafias.”

We had a few guidelines: “The network is only as good as its nodes. The group is as good as its members. Invite your mentors, leaders, and champions to be of a valuable resource for you! *Maintain ethos of sharing and cooperation. Be open and respectful when providing feedback or sharing ideas in the spirit of collective progress. *Drop a positive reaction or show gratitude for a member who spent time in helping you!”

The ideas was to build a platform and eventually a few events and a capacity to work beyond silos that our values are more aligned than we think – to activate global communities to work towards solutions across diverse sectors and industries.

I had a pretty vetted group of 400 innovators, diplomats, and social impact leaders, mostly based in DC. They shared updates and job postings, encouraging reports or studies from their respective organizations.

It was really my passion project. A facebook group, no less, but something I could pour my time into to connect people in my downtime.

My role was to elevate other people. I welcomed new members who are trailblazing their own success with innovative spirit, empathy, and leadership. Some of the members included Cameron Sinclair, former Co-Founder at Architecture for Humanity, a and the former Director at Jolie-Pitt Foundation, and now head of Social Innovation at Airbnb, Ashley Olafsen, Co-Founder of MOVE LLC and TedxYouth speaker on media diversity and self-esteem. She hosts “empowerment workshops and summer programs for girls on body image, self-esteem, mental health, and abusive relationships. Kevin Conroy, CPO at GlobalGiving, “ the world’s first global crowdfunding website for nonprofits. Scott Beale, Founder and CEO of Atlas Corps, and others.

Even now, I think I want to believe that we are good at heart. And we want to make good things happen.

We would gather thematically based on interests such as media, technology, social entrepreneurship, finance, diplomacy, and others in intimate groups of 4-5 and go around sharing one wisdom/network/resource in the spirit of vulnerability and sharing. We also host live interviews with media moguls, innovation leaders, and disability advocates: “Unleashing the Nonconformist in You,” “Harnessing Your Own Positivity,” “Eat, Accept, and Live,” and “Innovate Your Future.” We hosted various community-wide events on “Storytelling for Good,” “Innovative Leadership and Self-Empowerment,” and “Begin to Hope.” Our approach cultivates trust and credibility to build collective value, an automatic byproduct and a catalyst for common action.

In September, we partnered with the Global People’s Summit, a day-long, one-of-a-kind global digital and interactive dialogue that brings together delegation across industries to co-create solutions inspired by the SDGs. The digital platform of the summit brought together the voices of the United Nations General Assembly to foster dialogue and collective action.

Philanthropists. Impact Investors. Social Entrepreneurs. Policy Makers. We sometimes settle into the day-to-day often about how we can have more not give more. If we swap that dialogue around to creating value, that can be a completely different conversation. The given basis of our platform is how can we breathe in more value, love, and inner rich for someone else to shift the mentality from “me” to “us.” With a platform, we can co-create a shared outcome and catalyze global social impact.

Picture of the members of the the Collaborative Impact Network.

The sufficiency mindset will create something that translates into a new type of richness – the inner satisfaction and love for who we are, what we do, and the impact we can make by touching others with the same filled purpose and zest for life. The inner riches or purpose can be more fully realized through understanding that what we’re working on is often bigger than ourselves – irrespective of our own industry or field of interest. I think we can catalyze from within each to pursue the betterment of us all.

The Collaborative Impact Network – Good-Doers, Shakers, Innovators

In the spring of 2018, I was reading a book by Reid Hoffman called “The Startup of You.” In the book, he wrote about the PayPal Mafias, the notorious group of the former PayPal team who have met in informal circles chatting ideas and pursuits to have since founded Tesla Motors, LinkedIn, YouTube, Yelp, and SpaceX.

The 2018 was the year after the Trump transition team had come into the State Department. I saw a lot of my former colleagues, mentors, friends leave government, as well as good initiatives along with it. I had also taken a few months off and rejoined the State Department after leaving for a few months as a contractor. I became involved with impact-oriented initiatives such as NEXUS, a global movement to galvanize the next generation of young social entrepreneurs, impact investors, and family businesses and Concordia Summit, a public-private partnership for social impact.

I knew there were really amazing people both in and out of government. I was working in government on a project called Engage America, a whole of government initiative to bring interesting foreign policy initiatives closer to the American people, and I witnessed an initiative, a thirst in DC in government to make good things happen.

I wanted to connect them. I wanted to make the resources available.

It was pretty quick. I went on Facebook and I wanted to create a small group. I initially added a few friends from government, the nonprofits I knew, and the investors, family offices, and the pioneers.

My fingers moved pretty quickly. I made a Facebook group called The Collaborative Impact Network after a few changes, I called it a “community of innovators, influencers, thought leaders, and mentors helping each other pursue “good” in original, purposeful, and creative ways.” I added a few more lines.

“Through a decentralized network approach, we unlock capacity for global impact through collaboration across unlikely agents across sectors – private and public. The group is based on the concept of PayPal Mafias.”

We had a few guidelines: “The network is only as good as its nodes. The group is as good as its members. Invite your mentors, leaders, and champions to be of a valuable resource for you! *Maintain ethos of sharing and cooperation. Be open and respectful when providing feedback or sharing ideas in the spirit of collective progress. *Drop a positive reaction or show gratitude for a member who spent time in helping you!”

The ideas was to build a platform and eventually a few events and a capacity to work beyond silos that our values are more aligned than we think – to activate global communities to work towards solutions across diverse sectors and industries.

I had a pretty vetted group of 400 innovators, diplomats, and social impact leaders, mostly based in DC. They shared updates and job postings, encouraging reports or studies from their respective organizations.

It was really my passion project. A facebook group, no less, but something I could pour my time into to connect people in my downtime.

My role was to elevate other people. I welcomed new members who are trailblazing their own success with innovative spirit, empathy, and leadership. Some of the members included Cameron Sinclair, former Co-Founder at Architecture for Humanity, a and the former Director at Jolie-Pitt Foundation, and now head of Social Innovation at Airbnb, Ashley Olafsen, Co-Founder of MOVE LLC and TedxYouth speaker on media diversity and self-esteem. She hosts “empowerment workshops and summer programs for girls on body image, self-esteem, mental health, and abusive relationships. Kevin Conroy, CPO at GlobalGiving, “ the world’s first global crowdfunding website for nonprofits. Scott Beale, Founder and CEO of Atlas Corps, and others.

Even now, I think I want to believe that we are good at heart. And we want to make good things happen.

We would gather thematically based on interests such as media, technology, social entrepreneurship, finance, diplomacy, and others in intimate groups of 4-5 and go around sharing one wisdom/network/resource in the spirit of vulnerability and sharing. We also host live interviews with media moguls, innovation leaders, and disability advocates: “Unleashing the Nonconformist in You,” “Harnessing Your Own Positivity,” “Eat, Accept, and Live,” and “Innovate Your Future.” We hosted various community-wide events on “Storytelling for Good,” “Innovative Leadership and Self-Empowerment,” and “Begin to Hope.” Our approach cultivates trust and credibility to build collective value, an automatic byproduct and a catalyst for common action.

In September, we partnered with the Global People’s Summit, a day-long, one-of-a-kind global digital and interactive dialogue that brings together delegation across industries to co-create solutions inspired by the SDGs. The digital platform of the summit brought together the voices of the United Nations General Assembly to foster dialogue and collective action.

Philanthropists. Impact Investors. Social Entrepreneurs. Policy Makers. We sometimes settle into the day-to-day often about how we can have more not give more. If we swap that dialogue around to creating value, that can be a completely different conversation. The given basis of our platform is how can we breathe in more value, love, and inner rich for someone else to shift the mentality from “me” to “us.” With a platform, we can co-create a shared outcome and catalyze global social impact.

Picture of the members of the the Collaborative Impact Network.

The sufficiency mindset will create something that translates into a new type of richness – the inner satisfaction and love for who we are, what we do, and the impact we can make by touching others with the same filled purpose and zest for life. The inner riches or purpose can be more fully realized through understanding that what we’re working on is often bigger than ourselves – irrespective of our own industry or field of interest. I think we can catalyze from within each to pursue the betterment of us all.

9 Ways State Dept. Engages With Startups

*This summary with my own additions is drawn from my own experiences as well as those of my colleagues’ during the Obama Administration. They are results of the Secretary’s efforts to connect the capacity of U.S. startups to solve problems of interest to the USG. Results from many of these mechanisms have been transferred into functional bureaus, embassies, and into other offices.


U.S. small businesses and startups find it difficult and confusing to interact with the USG. Startups often do not have the revenue, funding runway, nor staffing capacity to understand or reach out to government that larger businesses do. Often the dynamic enterprises that develop the cutting-edge technologies that could enable the USG to achieve policy goals more effectively, but the interfaces between startups and the federal government can be weak.

Opportunities to apply the technical knowledge of U.S. startups to USG foreign policy goals cover the Presidential priorities, such as nuclear disarmament, food security, global health, and climate change. Sourcing innovative solutions from U.S. startups to support USG policy goals, such as the National Export Initiative, by providing more U.S. small businesses exposure to international markets at early stages in their lifecycle. These efforts implement various priorities of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (printed every four years, it sets institutional priorities and provides strategic guidance as a framework for the most efficient allocation of resources. It provides a blueprint for advancing America’s interests in global security, inclusive economic growth, climate change, accountable governance and freedom for all) and the Secretary’s emphasis on utilizing “smart power,” economic statecraft,” and “whole of society” approaches.

  1. University Student Engineering Team Competitions: The fellowships is a low-cost way to bring expertise into the Department. It can start with expanding direct contact with student teams at universities across the U.S. Direct DoS participation, either as judges or participations, in competition such as the Idea to Products Global Competition and the Annenberg Innovation Lab conference to put DoS issues in direct contact with enthusiastic engineering student teams working on solutions we need. These teams align very well with the Grand Challenge interests in clean water, energy, food, and food security. The “First Way” has already led to the deployment of a multi-lingual Twitter traffic analysis tool called r-Shief (Arabic for “archive”) that has enabled Embassy Islamabad staff to differentiate between sentiment online and in the general media.
  2. Open Challenges: Based on the concept of crowd sourcing, open challenges involve a carefully constructed question that is put before the entire internet community to solicit ideas and solutions to the articulated problem.E/STAS has worked in close partnership with the Bureau of Arms on an “open challenge” workshop called “Can AVC use open challenges to derive ideas that can address arms control transparency regimes, despite the classified and sensitive nature of so much of the information? The challenge was together with Innocentive.
  3. RRTO’s Defense Venture Catalyst Initiative (DeVenCI): RRTO or DoD’s Rapid Reaction Technology’s Office administers this program to identify U.S. startups with capabilities that are highly desired by different offices. This program expanded into NASA and into the State Department that have worked from the Office of Geographer and Global Issues to Overseas Building Operations, Diplomatic Security. They selected companies to proceed to an evaluation and to the test phase. Embassies that provided direct input and involvement of the companies proceeded with implementation, which improved energy efficiency of the buildings.
  4. LAUNCH: Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State (E/STAS) increased State Department involvement in partnership with NASA, USAID, and Nike with the addition of the Office of Naval Research as a Resource Partner. LAUNCH fostered rapid development of a mix of U.S. and foreign innovators targeting grand challenges of interest. One of the LAUNCH cycle – Beyond Waste sourced innovators around the world with unique and innovative approaches to reducing, converting, and otherwise transforming the mountains of waste produced globally into useful products.
  5. Technology Startup Engagement: E/STAS had established an informal relationship with In-Q-Tel, an organization that forms a bridge with U.S. startups and various USG agencies, which brought numerous startups to the attention of a variety of State Department offices. One interesting startup was Recorded Futures, a startup with capabilities of interest to the Office of the Geographer and Global Issues through the relationship with In-Q-Tel.
  6. S2S (Startups 2 State) Gateway: E/STAS partnership with Startup America connected U.S. startups with embassy officers to searching for solutions to problems identified as strategic to embassy’s goals. Startup America is an independent private-sector alliance intended to dramatically increase the development, prevalence, and success of innovative, high-growth U.S. firms. Startup America’s leadership includes CEO Scott Case, previous founder and CTO of Priceline, and board member Michael Dell, CEo of Dell, inc.
  7. Entrepreneur-In-Residence: Dr. E. William Golglazier, Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary, created the role of Entreprneur-In-Residence (EIR) in his office to manage the continued engagement with the U.S. startup to serve as a focal point for innovation discussion that progress beyond the preliminary how-to discussions concrete implementation.
  8. Presidential Management Fellows: The Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program is administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to serve for two years in the following agencies. In 2018, one of the PMFs designed a “Better Government Movement” and appointed “Ad Hoc Sherpas” to lead a series of design thinking initiatives and open studio sessions to offer specific subject matter expertise in areas like Human-Centered Design, Lean Startup, Agile, change management, and pitch coaching to Design Challenge teams.
  9. The Office of Global Partnership: The Office of Global Partnerships is previously a Secretary’s Office is main portal to which each and every office of the State Dept. conducts partnerships with. They used to hold hackathons, Blockchain Central event, and thinking exercises. Certainly one of the few offices at State using the word “impact” and has an active partnership with Concordia Summit and USAID for public-private partnership for social impact. Every partnership and gift also is vetted through this office. They offer trainings, events, and solutions to which each office and leverage the public-private partnerships solutions creatively to each of the foreign policy priorities.

If you’re interested in reading more, feel free to check out the innovation forum.

Network of Networks: A Gathering of Philanthropists

Destination Impact was a conference in Utah hosted by Jeff Raikes of the Raikes Foundation, the former CEO of the Gates Foundation. It was an attempt to map out the “network of networks” of philanthropists and was well attended by several donor groups. Here below are are summary files and ideas that came out of it.

“Destination Impact convened the leadership teams of 18 donor education networks and donor-leaders from within those networks for a week of inspiration, sharing, and thinking together in July 2018. This was a “first of its kind” gathering, bringing together groups who don’t naturally cross paths in other established venues. Gathered on the slopes of Powder Mountain, Utah, this group of committed philanthropists, donor educators, donor organizers and staff spent three days engaging in dynamic discussions about the challenges facing philanthropy and opportunities to support more donors to give with more impact. Participants also had plenty of time to make new friends and catch up with old acquaintances—all while exploring the beautiful surroundings offered by the picturesque Wasatch Mountains.”

Pitching the World Economic Forum.

“We know there’s an appetite for this type of content: our blog is visited by almost 5 million people every month. If you write for us you’ll be joining Nobel laureatesleaders of international organizations and UN bodies, cultural leaders, academics and heads of state.” How do you get published?

Check out here for the Write for Agenda.

You can submit your blog pitch here.

Quick Links: Navigating Space Tech for Good

Eighth Meeting of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable
Development Goal Indicator (IAEG-SDGs)

European Global Navigation Satellite System and Copernicus:
Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals

Space Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals

Space Activities to achieve Sustainable Development Goals

One giant leap for capitalistkind: private enterprise in outer space