TEDxNashville talk “How to be a technology innovator – without an engineering degree or Asperger’s”
By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)
Meredith Perry is the founder and CEO of Wireless recharging startup uBeam. She is not an engineer by training or a expert. She knows how to use Google, and she knows how to think differently.
In her TEDxNashville talk "How to be a technology innovator - without an engineering degree or Asperger's", Meredith argues for non-experts to broach innovative solutions and learn new technology with the help of Google, Wikipedia and by consulting with college professors and such "experts". She found that said "experts" often have contradictory and different opinions.
In her talk she says,
"But because I already learned not to trust one person's opinion, I become immune to the naysayers.
For each technological hurdle deemed insurmountable by the experts, I would spend just a few hours thinking about the problem from a variety of sources. As Steve Jobs said, I had to think differently - so I found solutions based on the acoustics of musical instruments, based on other technologies, from authoritative sources such as Wikipedia and when I would present my progressto engineers, they say, yeah that could work. So I was able to solve problems when the Ph.D experts couldn't with just a few hours of really simple research.
Every single argument why the technology couldn't't work has been indisputably wrong and for every objection that has been raised I have found a solution. This was another very important lesson for me to learn. Engineers are inherently linear thinkers and tend to take a very binary approach to solving problems.
When faced with a problem, they think can this work, can this not work. I think - how can I make this work? As a non expert I had an advantage because I could look at the problem from different angles because I just didn't know what was possible. Being naive is sometimes a good thing. Because without constraints the world is literally your oyster...
My experience also made me wonder, how many game-changing brilliant ideas out there thought of by laypeople, teenagers, store clerks, paleobiologists have been squashed by experts that said it wouldn't work? I know that if I weren't as stubborn as I am I would have chucked this entire idea 8 months ago because I was told my idea wasn't possible.
But by thinking differently, by thinking outside the box, by thinking around corners you can outthink the top thinkers. They say that the most revolutionary ideas in the world were considered crazy until the point where they became revolutionary.
Dream out loud, ask questions, take risks, never give up, keep pushing and believe in yourself even when no one else is."
22 year old Meredith Perry was recently featured in Forbes "30 Under 30" for her energy startup uBeam.
About the writer: Angie Chang co-founded Women 2.0 in 2006. She currently serves as Editor-In-Chief of Women 2.0 and is working to mainstream women in high-growth, high-tech entrepreneurship. Previously, Angie held roles in product management and web UI design. In 2008, Angie launched Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, asking that guys come as the "+1" for once. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.