21 | Brian Hart Explains Homelessness in America

Brian Hart is the co-founder of Lighthouse DC, a non-profit that helps people transitioning from homelessness in turning empty spaces into homes that are welcoming and functional for their families. We talk about homelessness in the capital of the world’s richest country, how to talk about homelessness to people with a spectrum of views on it, much more.

Episode 20 | Tova Levin on Experimental and Behavioral Economics

Tova Levin has worked closely with two of the most prominent economists of our generation – Steven Levitt and John List – serving as Levitt’s Chief of Staff for several years before joining Humana as a leader in their behavioral economics division. We nerd out about so much in economics – Gary Becker (read the Becker-as-criminal story we’re talking about here),  the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Institutional Review Board, and why an insurer cares about behavioral economics. Tova schools me on what we know about crime and punishment (that wonderful feeling of being in the presence of other UChicago people; some of you know what I’m talking about). Then we talk about women in economics and mentoring (we’ve been talking a lot about mentoring recently!). You might be interested in some of her other work: on The HeartStrong Randomized Clinical Trial,  on studying high-capacity givers. Read about the UChicago Charter Schools program here.

Episode 19 | Katy Dickinson on Technology, Mentoring, and Religion

Katy Dickinson has been around the tech-block. Hired by Eric Schmidt at Sun Microsystems, she literally wrote the book on the software development lifecycle that Sun used for release of almost 10,000 releases. She is a technologist, entrepreneur, mentor, and writer.

In our conversation Katy talks about her work as a technologist on creating processes:

A process has to not assume that you have world-class people working on it. A process assumes that that not everybody — while they are good-intentioned and competent — [is] perfect. You have to have a system that allows for lack of perfection but can work if you have the best that there is.

and the futility of only having excellent coders:

A good coder is a wonderful thing to have but you have to create something that the customer wants and feels comfortable with. Good coding and user experience are sometimes at odds.

But we spend the most of our conversation talking about mentoring programs that deliver high return-on-investment, and the intersection of religion and technology.

On the importance of example and networking provided by the Grace Hopper Celebration:

While they may be the only women in the room – which has certainly been my experience in 30+ years in the Silicon Valley – there are a lot of rooms.

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