Marco tells the Innovators about the diverse, challenging projects occurring at MIT

Marco tells the Innovators about the diverse, challenging projects occurring at MIT

This morning, the Innovators hopped on the T—the Boston subway system—and traveled to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT is one of the most prestigious, innovative universities in the world. Its faculty members and students are responsible for some of the most groundbreaking, world-changing inventions of all time, including the GPS, the World Wide Web (or Internet), spreadsheets, the first computer game, the first fax machine, the doppler radio, credit card holograms, and voice recognition technology, among others.

Marco Muñoz, the Director of Strategic Initiatives at MIT, led the Innovators on a tour and introduced them to the university’s core values. MIT is a research institution—there, ideas are not simply ideas, but rather procedures to be implemented. The university’s mission, first and foremost, is to impact the world in a meaningful, productive, positive way. 

Students and faculty at MIT dedicate themselves to solving problems in order to better the planet. Sample projects include isolating and connecting genes to combat obesity, creating a microscopic device to inject medicine into the pancreas to fight cancer, and attempting to better understand illnesses like leukemia and Alzheimer’s Disease given patterns in people with Down Syndrome.

Then, the Innovators split up into groups and participated in a workshop lead by Bob Dolan, the Assistant Director for Postdoctoral Scholars at MIT. Bob instructed the Innovators on how to deliver a successful elevator pitch, or a short, succinct, professional introduction. Frequently, in interviews, the first prompt the recruiter will give is, “Tell me about yourself.” 

The Innovators pose with Bob Dolan after their elevator pitch workshop

The Innovators pose with Bob Dolan after their elevator pitch workshop

A good elevator pitch provides an excellent first impression, which is the deciding, pivotal moment in many interviews. Eleven traits are decided about a person within the first seven seconds of meeting them: their education level, economic level, credibility and believability, trustworthiness, level of sophistication, sexual identification, level of success, political background, religious background, ethnic background, and social and professional desirability.

The Innovators learned how to clearly and coherently brand themselves, or identify themselves. They practiced identifying their goals, describing their professions and strengths, giving credit and complimenting their mentors and team members, and engaging listeners. 

After the workshop, the Innovators came back to Suffolk University for lunch, and then engaged in an interactive, stimulating Values workshop by Javier Prieto, the Chief Operations Officer at the Dalai Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT. Javier led the Innovators in a discussion on the ethical and human dimensions of life and success.

With Javier, the Innovators named and studied successful leaders, outlining values and virtues crucial to their popularity and fruition. Some of these values and virtues include strategy, clarity, tenacity, empathy, curiosity, creativity, and loyalty. Then, the Innovators listed their seven primary core values, examining not only others, but also themselves.

Javier Prieta practices communication skills with Santiago, exemplifying both good and bad habits for the Innovators

Javier Prieta practices communication skills with Santiago, exemplifying both good and bad habits for the Innovators

Some of the most important values and virtues of a good leader, as outlined by Javier

Some of the most important values and virtues of a good leader, as outlined by Javier

The session also dove into the importance of active listening, and the lack of empathy involved in digital communication. Conversation and communication is paramount in not only making connections, but also enhancing human relationships. Javier taught the Innovators about the nuances of both verbal and nonverbal communication, and how they relate to becoming an empathetic leader. 

The Innovators practiced communicating with one another, examining their skills in an attempt to better their self-awareness. They compared the values they perceive themselves to possess with those that the world around them sees—a lesson in the gap between the understanding of oneself and the understanding of others.

In the evening, the Innovators participated in a unique STEAM activity—yesterday, supervisors silently demonstrated experiments, and different groups wrote instructions for the experiments. Today, the groups switched and attempted to perform the experiments based on one another’s instructions. The activity demonstrated how difficult it is to write scientific instructions, while also identifying holes in the Innovators’ scientific background knowledge.

Finally, after dinner, the Innovators engaged in a mindfulness session with Ashley Norwood, a yoga and mindfulness instructor. Ashley taught them how to focus on experiences in the present moment, and how helpful meditation, yoga, and other techniques can be to enhancing one’s awareness of the world around them and themselves. 

Emerson Monks