Table Top Inventing Podcast

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August 2015
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Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

How can a math deficiency be a roadblock to your dreams? What does one do with 12 different college degrees? How can a college education prepare you for the new career landscape? Join us for the informative answers on today's podcast.

Hey there, Innovation Nation!  Today's guest is long-time friend of my wife's who has an amazing story and a more impressive college preparation than anyone else I know.  With all the education she has, you might be tempted to believe that she's inaccessible or aloof, but far from it!  She's a compassionate, passionate math educator who wants to change the world!  Around here we love World-changers, which reminds me of a quote you'll hear again in the interview, a quote by Edward Everett Hale:

"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."

If you listen to our podcast long enough or visit one of our Inventor Camps, Inventor Workshops, or tech mentoring programs for high school students, you'll find out that we're passionate about inspiring world-changers.  We want students to find their curiosity if it's been lost.  We want them to face their fears and find courage.  Then we want them to use their curiosity and courage to become leaders who change their world.

This is not just talk.  We have seen 4th graders decide they want to become inventors, middle schoolers decide to find a career that "has computer coding as a significant part of the job", and college-bound high school seniors decide to alter their college plans so that they can make a bigger impact on their world.  These are real stories from real kids we've worked with in the last month.  If you are curious, go visit to find out more.

So with this focus, it should not surprise you that we seek out friends and colleagues such as Dr. Rachel Winston, a math-teacher with a passion to see high school students get into whatever college most fires their imagination.  Rachel believes that education should ignite the brain's excitement for learning.  Her passion for students, though, is very practical as anyone could observe by visiting her in the classroom.  I hope every student can discover the passion for learning Rachel has found.

Original Release Date; 8/27/15
Category: Innovative Educators

Direct download: 05020-20More20Input20with20Rachel20Winston.mp3
Category:Technology Educators -- posted at: 5:01pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Phil Drake and Steve Kurti - Table Top Inventing Podcast

How important are failures in the process of success? Just how different is a career in computer science in 1977 from the same degree in 2015? Can small town students find success in the "real world"? Join us for the down home answers on today's podcast.

Hey there, Innovation Nation! Today's guest is from my home town of Franklin, NC. Franklin is a small town in the Smoky Mountains and home to some of the most down-to-earth, gentle, gracious folks in the country--I'm not biased or anything. As a kid, I always dreamed about growing up to be significant, and businessmen like Mr. Drake fired my imagination. However as a young teenager, noone told me how to get on that path to significance.

Unfortunately, many young teenagers are like I was:  a little misguided. I didn't know what it took to realize great dreams, but T. E. Lawrence--an English archaeologist and military officer--sums up the process quite poetically.  He says,

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did."

Great deeds do not begin on the drawing board. They begin in the heart. Perhaps rather than trying to find out how great our students are by testing them, we should instead spend time working to inspire them.

At Table Top Inventing, we exist to inspire teenagers. Our summer Inventor's Bootcamps, after school Inventor Workshops, and exclusive tech mentoring are all designed to inspire students to aim higher. Our globe is facing significant challenges over the next 20 years, and today's students will be the ones to solve many of the current problems.

Students must learn that they can find the answers they need through research, experimenting, and collaborating with others. They need to discover just how powerful they can really be, but these realizations will not happen by accident. The proper environment for innovative, creative learning is essential. Learn more at

Today's guest is no stranger to innovation. Phil Drake started programming a computer in 1977 when computers still had to be programmed by hand if you wanted them to do anything. You might think that such a forward thinking individual would come from New York City or LA or San Francisco, but this entrepreneur started life on a farm as the son of the local "tax man". Let's listen in to the story of a fascinating homegrown businessman.

Original release date: August 20, 2015

Category: Business Professionals

Direct download: 04920-20Running20the20Numbers20with20Phil20Drake.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 7:10pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Table Top Inventing Podcast: Kirk BowmanHow does a music teacher for a school district create a successful software business? What is the connection between entrepreneurial thinking and great school performance? How can farm work encourage a young man to become an entrepreneur? Listen in for the wide ranging answers in today’s podcast!

Hey there, Innovation Nation! Our guest today has a broad background with a distinct entrepreneurial thread. Entrepreneurs are the reason we have iPhones, cars, planes, and most other modern conveniences. They see a problem in the world and proceed to fix it. I came across a great quote today about entrepreneurs from Nolan Bushnell. He says,

“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”

Nolan knows what he’s talking about because he’s done quite a few things including starting Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza. He lives entrepreneurship and his son, Brent Bushnell who was on our podcast earlier this year, caught the same entrepreneurial bug, and we want to pass that same spark onto all the kids in our Inventor’s Bootcamp this summer.

If you think about many of the tech startup companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, etc., they were started by passionate young entrepreneurs that caught the vision early. We know how to fan those flames in our Inventor’s Bootcamp. We introduce teens to technologies they never knew they could learn, and then set them loose to innovate. Kevin is one of those teens. He started by learning about 3D printing, and recently his mother told me that he’s begun taking all kinds of things apart at home just to see how they work!

Today our guest, Kirk Bowman, is from the great state of Texas, and he and I discuss the effects of entrepreneurial tendencies on his life trajectory. He started his first business as a farm kid selling blackberries and now has a software company and is starting a consulting business focused on helping businesses properly price their products. Join me for a fascinating discussion about how entrepreneurial thinking can shape your world.

Original release date: August 13, 2015

Direct download: 048_-_Value_of_Entrepreneurship_with_Kirk_Bowman.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 6:00pm PST

Show Notes | YouTube | iTunes

Ed Kless - Table Top Inventing PodcastIs it possible that questions are more powerful than answers? What is the ultimate question? What are the Latin roots of the word “educate”? Listen in for a deep discussion about the answers in today’s podcast!

Hey there, Innovation Nation! You are in for quite a ride today. Strap on your oxygen tanks because today, we are going deep.

“Language was invented to ask questions. Answers may be given by grunts or gestures, but questions must be spoken. Humanness came of age when man asked the first question. Social stagnation results not from lack of answers but from the absence of the impulse to ask questions.”

This quote by Eric Hoffer has become my new favorite. Our guest today, Ed Kless mentioned it, and I had to go find it afterwards. Hoffer basically says that curiosity is the engine of human social structures. Curiosity in this context is not just following random synapse firings but rather the pursuit of intelligent, thoughtful impulses of the human heart. From these impulses spring the desire to understand others, to understand the world around, and perhaps in its most powerful form, to understand ourselves.

I’ve said it here on the podcast before, but it always bears repeating: Answers are short-lived and uninspiring, but a burning question can fuel curiosity and even a whole life’s work. Curiosity about numbers and burning questions about how they behave have driven mathematicians such as Paul ErdÅ‘s to create a rich and vibrant understanding of math. Burning questions about how the most basic elements of the universe interact have driven physicists such as Erwin Schrödinger, Richard Feynman, and the ubiquitous Albert Einstein to develop a robust theory of matter and energy along with a rich understanding of their underlying constituents.

Questions always involve a quest, and quests are rich and varied things which almost never end up the way we imagined them in the beginning. I’m not one of those who believe the “journey is the destination”, but the journey certainly makes for great stories and wonderful memories once we reach a destination. For some of us, the journey often calls us back to the open road of life to ask ever deeper questions or perhaps just to find some other interesting destination. No matter your disposition in life, questions and the pursuit of their answers are at the core of what it means to be human as Hoffer suggests.

Today, Ed Kless and I will delve into deep water. Ed is a fellow podcaster. He is a businessman. He is a philosopher. He is a thespian. Let’s find out more about our fascinating guest.

Original Release Date: 8/6/15

Direct download: 48_047__Great_Questions_with_Ed_Kless.mp3
Category:Business Professionals -- posted at: 6:00pm PST