About Lawrence of America

I am a writer, speaker and an entrepreneur fascinated by cultures, sustainability and business.

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Today I said goodbye to Cornell University where I have spent much of the last two years getting my MBA and the city of Ithaca where I’ve enjoyed this last beautiful summer in relative leisure. Tomorrow I fly to Singapore where I will be spending the next six months working, living, learning and hopefully loving my life.

What words to say on this eve of departure? I find myself without; but since I’ve decided that this will be the first post I broadcast publicly, I would like to take a moment to share with you what to expect from this blog in hopes that some of it may interest you and cause you to come back for more:

This blog is meant to be a continuation of my tumblr, which can still be found at lawrencegoesabroad.tumblr.com and has lots of excellent content that I’ll probably reblog here at some point. I want to include a combination of video and articles themed around conducting business in different cultures, but most of all I just want to share my experiences with whoever may be interested.

You’ll have to be patient with me as I am currently without a smartphone with which to easily take and share pictures and video, but I will try to keep your interest with witty, insightful and educational articles and reblogged videos from my Tumblr until I have access to a camera again.

In the last 12 months I have ridden a sled down the Great Wall of China, walked through the Cornell and Georgetown campuses in Qatar, stood under the giant Euro sign in Frankfurt, presented a renewable energy business plan live on the Thai Money Channel and watched a dancing contortionist perform outside the former home of Nelson Mandela in Soweto. If the next 12 months are anywhere close to as magical as this last year has been, I’m going to be glad I shared it.

Thanks for coming, and I’ll see you again soon!

Lawrence

The Dean and The Cube

Like most people of my generation, one of my favorite shows growing up was The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. One of my favorite episodes featured the indomitably spirited Will Smith interviewing for a spot in the Princeton freshman class with a comically dour Dean. I’m going to assume you’re familiar with the show, so it won’t be hard for you to imagine what happened – Dean is originally put off by Will’s brash and jocular demeanor, but eventually comes around and practically begs Will to attend. In this particular interaction, the turning point was when Will proved his intelligence by completing an unsolved Rubik’s cube sitting on the Dean’s desk. Immediate. Intellectual. Credibility.

Interesting fact – Will Smith repeated this performance almost exactly in his role as rags to riches businessman Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness, with the “Dean” being a partner at investment firm… Dean Witter (weird, right?).

Another interesting fact – it takes no special level of intelligence to solve a Rubik’s cube. Well, not now that it’s already been solved, that is. What was one of the greatest mysteries of the 1980’s has been reduced to a totally predictable algorithm for transposing specified cubes in certain ways. The best cubers now measure their solves not in hours or even minutes, but in seconds. The set of moves I’ve memorized is not so robust. I can generally solve the cube in about 3 minutes.

Like most people, I didn’t know solving a cube was possible for anyone but the uber-gifted, until a young uber-gifted mathematician showed me how it was done. It took me about a week before I had solved it for the first time, and I slowly honed my skills from there. I would estimate I spent about 60 hours of time to get to where I am now, and have stayed. In my old age (I turned 30 last month), I have become a lot more discriminating about how I invest my time. Long gone are the days of 5 hour video game sessions. I am not quite at the point where I put “personal time” into my Outlook calendar, but I can see it happening soon.

I guess the best thing I can say about the time I wasted, is that at least I wasn’t doing something worse. I try not to torture myself by over-analyzing sunk costs. I have been able to impress people with my cube solving abilities a small handful of times. A wave of smugness washes over me when I see an unsolved cube on someone’s desk or bookshelf. I always make a show of it. I start by asking politely if I can take a try. I look at it curiously for a while, like I’ve never actually held one before. After some time, I give a nod of understanding, like I’ve just figured it out. Then I spend the next 3 minutes sliding the pieces around as quickly as possible, making as much eye contact with my audience as I can without losing my position.

I haven’t met my “Dean” yet, but I think one day I will. It’s going to be one hell of a show.

I might even show him how it’s done.