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Leadership


What People Want to Know About Hackathons

Lumohacks 3D Printing

There’s something intriguing about creating an idea quick and dirty from scratch. That’s why I’m a fan of hackathons: you get 24 hours to create a project about anything.

The most boring hackathon I have ever attended was when a bunch of doctors sat around and ate finger biscuits while they chatted about their patients’ problems — for goodness sakes, if no one is stressed, then it’s not a true hackathon.

I’ve heard from about fifty different doctors now that if you create a ‘physical activity tracking app’, you will “solve diabetes” or “decrease obesity” or some other sort of magic trick. Hi, can you google “fitbit”?

Doctors tell you about the flaws in their patients’  treatments and conditions though, which are good for working with. For example, after a while, breast cancer survivors become too lazy to get screened again. Or, for some tests, the length of time between getting screened and getting results is ridiculous. We put health science people together with engineers, designers, and entrepreneurs, at our hackathon, and got some great projects.

So, a hackathon is about getting the right people in the same room together and giving them the right tools to achieve a goal the dirty way. In music terms, this is like jamming in someone’s garage and coming up with a great song just because you were in the right place at the right time.

I put together a FAQ about organizing a hackathon, focused on logistics, which will give you a peek into the effort that goes towards a large-scale hackathon!

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How Travel Changes a Musician’s Life

How Travel Changes Your Life
Right before my flight to Mexico, I played beach volleyball because I couldn’t resist: Vancouver’s first non-rainy day in ages.

I come home unable to bend my foot, like it’s a giant lego foot. I am becoming sort of an eccentric travel figure suffocating under the weight of everyone’s opinion. Everyone thinks I should’ve gone to a resort in Cancun.

But there is something magical about experiencing a way of life that is so different from mine. If I incorporate some good into my life from each of my travels, then I’d get a bit wiser by the end of it all. 

That’s how I found myself at my first dinner in Tulum, sitting on a stump of wood, eating the best veggie burger I’ve had in my life while barefoot reggae musicians in hip-length dreads set up their drums and guitar and mic and start singing lilting Spanish tunes.

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What Happened at Lumohacks 2016

LumohacksI am reading through the notes for Lumohacks and it makes me so excited for the next one. Thank goodness we live in a time where anyone can start something they care about.

I wanted to create change in the healthcare sector using technology—this turned into Canada’s first major health hackathon.

Located in Vancouver, BC, engineers and entrepreneurs explored the underlying issues of living with major health issues. They were given the cutting-edge technology needed to make a difference (including twelve 3D printers plus hardware), and mentored by top industry leaders in the health and technology sectors.

I put together a few notes about the event below, that might help you run an event with a few hundred attendees! (Side Note: Here’s the behind-the-scenes of Lumohacks.)

LumohacksA lot of people outside of the tech sector weren’t familiar with hackathons. A hackathon is an event where teams of 2-5 people come together to collaborate on a project, and prizes are awarded to the most creative or useful projects. Sometimes there’s a theme, but nonetheless, it’s a great way to innovate because you are putting people into a pressure cooker.

The overall topic at Lumohacks was “Improving a Cancer Patient’s Life”; hackers were given 5 specific underlying topics to work on, such as Mobility or Prevention.

On Saturday morning, we started with talks from healthcare professionals (such as Dr. Rob Fraser, PhD, CEO of PMI and Dr. Melisa Hamilton, BC Cancer Agency Researcher), who presented the challenges in their work. For example, Dr. Rob Fraser’s challenge was Prevention: synthesizing the droves of data collected for patients to prevent cancers and other health issues.

We divided the speakers into two groups, who presented the challenges in two different locations, to speed up the process. We encouraged teams to split up and get to know all the challenges.

A lot of attendees come from a technical background, so we also asked oncologists to give talks on the basics of cancer as well.

Lumohacks

Lumohacks

Lumohacks 3D Printing

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The Best Way to Take a Mini-Vacation Right Now

Why We Shouldn't Make PlansFor the last two weeks of August, I tried to relax. Vancouver’s breezy summer is wonderful, and every island hotel in the vicinity is booked. So I settled for a vacation in the city. It rains nonstop in the fall, but in the summer, it’s perfect.

At first I was worried I’d end up watching Netflix if I didn’t plan activities but then I realized that summer is laid back, and events will unfold themselves with the right people.

I read that people with perfect lives don’t go on vacation because what a vacation is, is an escape from normal life, and if your normal life is great then you’d stay.

Now I realize: the kind of life I like is stressful. It’s making plans for tomorrow. Knowing what’s happening six months down the road but not planning it until the very last minute. It drives me nuts but it means I don’t have to plan.

And if I thought for a second that this kind of “normal” could last me years on end, then I would be batshit crazy.

People ask where I get my drive and motivation, and I say “discipline” but it’s deeper than thatI think we should all learn to manage our limited energy and attention and create lifestyles where we thrive.

We have a limited amount of energy everydaywe use so much energy when we work.

When we take a break, we are giving our minds a quick refresherthis is like a mini vacation. The time you sit at the piano, go to the gym, or jog around the neighbourhood, or do anything for yourself, is time for your mind and body to reset and return to equilibrium for the day.

During a lumohacks meeting, we are laughing at an inside joke:

“Excuse me,” a guy at a table across the room says. “Can you not laugh so loud when it’s unnecessary?”

“Okay,” I say. But it’s low and lasts five seconds.

“Sass master,” Marinah says.

Later, the same guy asks to borrow my laptop charger; I should’ve asked for $4 per minute (basically a green tea latte–once your minute is up, goodbye).

“Stop laughing so loud when it’s unecessary?” We laugh loudly at this.

And I think how important it is to laugh at ourselves especially when we are having a hard time.

Otherwise, we might get bogged down and forget what we love about what we do.

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3 Things Great Leaders Know About Timing

“I’ll help you with the event,” my good friend says. Then he never shows up for a meeting. You probably know who my good friends are anyways. If I didn’t care about this, I’d just say who it is.

But I do. Care, that is.

I’m writing this after three hours of sleep. In case you want to run an event or startup, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Timing is everything1. Remember what they say about mixing business with pleasure.

His girlfriend starts helping us, then he doesn’t let us recruit any of his friends. Isn’t your trusty best friend supposed to arrive when you dial the bat mobile? Okay, I may have the wrong number because I haven’t actually seen the Dark Knight.

What am I doing with my life that one of my best friends can’t keep a simple promise?

You can be friends with people you work with. But you don’t necessarily want to work with your friends unless you can risk losing them. Like, I don’t mind working with batman because I don’t know him, but he’s supposedly a hard worker with great biceps.

Maybe we all have friends we can’t work with, no matter how talented they are.

 

2. Learn about the team.

Pop culture says INFP personality types are not poised to be managers because we are so consumed with keeping peace that we tend to place achievement of team objectives below maintaining a great team dynamic.

I want to say that’s not true, but I’m like the reverse customer service desk. I will call to make sure you’re okay with your role and I will put myself on hold and even sing my own elevator muzak until you’re done meetings or cooking or whatever you want to do besides speak to me (crazy, right?).

When planning the timeline, we didn’t account for the month of fire-up time for settling into team roles; that is, how long the norming stage of team formation was. We lost more than a month that way.

Around this time of year, music teachers are growing their businesses and hiring new instructors.

You will meet people who are committed, and also people who are interested in what you are doing, without the same dedication. Ask them for favours like contact lists and introductions; ask for everything you think they can help with and let them say “no.”

We all know that “no” just means “no for now.”

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5 Golden Rules for Managing a Team

5 Golden Rules for Managing a TeamLeading people is hard sometimes. I want to make everyone happy. I want to be friends with people I work with.

I want to know about their family and friends and what they do when we don’t see each other; then, when they are not performing properly, I can be empathetic and we can have a real, gritty discussion.

But this is not a blog about management, and I don’t think you want to read about how important it is for me to be everyone’s friend.

So instead, I will talk about creating structure.

It’s summer ripe time for anyone, musician or teacher or startup/small business, to grow their team. Families are on vacation, teachers are on break before the new semester, music festivals have happened.

Our event team started from scratch, when I was bouncing ideas off close friends.

After describing my idea, I say, “Would you be interested in working on this?”

“Definitely,” Benta says.

“When?”

We look at the calendar, and we count forward four months.

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