Embrace change

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 October, 2009, 12:00am

An award-winning academic from the United States will visit Hong Kong next week and deliver a talk to young people on creativity.

Tina Seelig, who teaches creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship at Stanford University, will take the stage on October 24 in a pre-event for the first 'Make a Difference' forum in Hong Kong, which will be held from January 22-24 next year.

Targeting 16- to 30-year-olds, the forums feature talks and workshops on self-discovery, entrepreneurship, the arts and sciences, environmental issues, social responsibility and global citizenship. They aim to encourage youngsters to think big and open their minds to the many possibilities in a global economy.

In next Saturday's talk 'What I Wished I Knew When I was 20', Seelig will share stories inspired by her own experiences and other successful entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world.

'I wish someone had told me to embrace uncertainty,' she said. 'The most interesting things happen when you get off the predictable path, when you challenge assumptions, and when you give yourself permission to see the world as rich and full of possibility.'

Seelig is now executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Programme, which aims to accelerate hi-tech entrepreneurship research and education for engineers and scientists worldwide.

Wide exposure to different experiences is her recipe for creativity. Apart from teaching, the winner of the 2009 Gordon Prize from the National Academy of Engineering has also worked as a management consultant, multimedia producer at Compaq Computer and is the author of 15 popular science books.

Seelig said the starting point of creativity was to get out of your comfort zone and try something without fear of failure.

'All learning results from trial and error, and failure is an important part of the process. If you look at people who are very successful, such as Steve Jobs of Apple or David Neeleman of JetBlue, their careers are marked by great accomplishments and well-documented failures,' she said.

'In fact, the ratio between our successes and failures is pretty constant. Therefore, if you want more success, you have to tolerate more failure.'

Whenever challenges come your way, they are actually opportunities to boost your creativity, Seelig said. The first thing to do is see problems in a fresh light. Instead of running away from problems, people can challenge themselves by coming up with multiple solutions for an issue, she said.

'There are some fun exercises you can do if you are stuck. One of my favourite approaches is to start by thinking about what would make your problem worse,' she said.

'Often, by looking at the worst idea, you come up with the seeds for a great idea. We often frame problems way too narrowly. By coming up with a bad idea, you force yourself to open up the frame of possibilities.'

Details of Tina Seelig's talks

Title: What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

Date: October 24

Time: 2.30-4.30pm

Venue: LG1, Y-Theatre, Youth Square (238 Chai Wan Road, Chai Wan)

Language: English and Cantonese with simultaneous interpretation

For more details, visit www.m-a-d.asia

Special assignment

As Tina Seelig said, the world is rich in opportunities. Now here's your chance - Young Post is looking for teen reporters to cover Seelig's talk on October 24 and interview her.

If you like talking to people, finding out what's going on, experiencing new things or simply expressing your opinions, we would like to hear from you.

Students should wrap up Seelig's key points, ask her questions and then write a short article. Once your reports are written, our sub-editors will weave their magic and combine them into a story which will appear in Young Post.

To be on this Special Assignment, e-mail yp@scmp.com with 'Seelig' in the subject field, and write us three ground-breaking questions you would like to ask the innovation expert.

Don't forget to include your full name, age, telephone number and school.

Get a reserved seat

If you are eager to attend Tina Seelig's creativity talk, the organisers have reserved a small number of seats for lucky Young Post readers. To get a seat, send your full name, e-mail address, year of birth and phone number to yp@scmp.com, with subject head 'MaD', on or before October 20.