nilofer merchant – onlyness

nilofer merchant 5 bw

onlyness celebrate

[notes from talk]

there’s something about shutting something down that seems really limiting

i am a nobody

what defines us


fold-it did some crowdsourcing, best folder – british nurse.. admin.. someone who would have been vetted out of the system if she would have first had to have been picked and deemed appropriate

patience like us, a bunch of friends wanting to help friend with lou gherig’s disease – typically patience is the nobody recipient and dr is all knowing

tedx started with 3000, now 3500 events around the world – nobodys – invisible to the system, because of transparency and crowdsourcing

sharing allows us to accelerate the innovation – nobodys become incredibly powerful

not so much the tech – but underneath the tech solution, it’s because everyone has a role to play, not because they are chosen or perfect or whatever, but because they have value

when people say – i want to contribute – they are owning something that only they can bring

when we have the opportunity to bring out issues that matter to us…

when we celebrate onlyness – we allow each of us to be seen

venture world – invest based on pattern recognizing – i invest in 23 yr old stanford grads who are white male

when we do pattern recognizing we have entire constituents that are left out of an economy

we have entire constituents that have come to believe they are nobody

what is it that calls you into this world, and how can you bring that out so others can see it

of course – none of us are nobody.. but it will take an entire shift in our own mindset to stop thinking about how we fit into a mold in this world

if you’re trying to kiss up – you’re kissing up to a moving target

how do we unlock that part of us that is so incredibly different

what’s your onlyness

trying to figure it out – is owning your onlyness too

onlyness can come in many flavors. the it is me.

remind me of Ellen Langer‘s – Prejudice decreases as discrimination increases.



Got a meeting? Take a walk

sitting 9.3 hours a day..

sitting has become the smoking of our generation


nov 2014:

Congratulations to @nilofer & others for being named Fellows at Roger Martin’s Prosperity Institute

Original Tweet:


Nilofer Merchant (@nilofer)
11/18/12 1:51 PM
And this is not optimism speaking, but policy recommendation. #education reform is central to our economy


11 rules for value

book links to amazon


interview via Jonathan:

5 min  -willing to take on mentor convos with others.. but not with self – on walking meetings (on ted above)

howard rheingold ness

the idea of walking and talking can’t be that new..

sitting is the smoking of our generation

in a generation from now things have changed because of invisible work…

we don’t know you for this.. – Jonathan

brand is the exhaust fume of the engine of your life.. what most of us really want is to be able to chase a burning question….

book – how ideas become powerful enough to dent the world

no pre-arranged marriage unless i get ed.. then 13 yrs bootstrapping a community college ed

30 min – islamic woman less agency because culturally – not as valuable as a man

32 min – the this must end is easy… it’s harder to define what you value/believe… brutally hard to say – this is something we can replace it with.. that is organically alluring.. – Jonathan

33 min – on chasing a question.. even if others don’t..

35 min – on invalidating the soft data.. causing a lot of pain – Jonathan.. even if deep down you have this knowing

36 min – how to value our intuition

42 min – sustained uncertainty – is it trainable..

44 min – carol dweck – if you don’t trust in the answer.. what do people trust in..? you trust yourself enough that you will figure it out.. you know you are resilient enough

47 min – what happened to you vs what choices do/did you make.. you have a muscle… to get back up again

50 min – i’m out there on the ledge as much as i have ever been – and if you’re not seeing that.. you’re not paying attention

52 min – we do have the connection – we just don’t tell that story… we’re not paying attention to the community we are in..

55 min – learning out loud for a reason

58 min – i bless them on – it was never about me – Jonathan

1:03 – my job is to hold the question.. and then pay attention

ie: what matters.. ness a nother way – iterating detox.. waking people up.. on the need for alive people

1:07 – have to be willing to not know – and listen

1:09 – enabling rather than empowering.. because empowering implies you didn’t already have it in you.. revealing what’s already in there..

to live a good life – is to know what question you’re chasing


feb 2016 – interview w/Lisa – on seeing around corners:

8 min – have we set up the infrastructure to let that person (any person) participate

io dance et al

10 min – onlyness is the opposite of being a cog in the system…

11 min – on not using word – unique –

12 min – on discovering what your onlyness is – lisa – hard to see what we distinctly bring… honing the vibration/gift .. which one do you hone.. a softer idea.. but very clear once it’s clear

15 min – about the question.. that everyone else thinks is a crazy question.. and it keeps coming back to you… and then.. how do you notice what you notice…

17 min – on it being the person we ignored for four years… what if it’s that we just notice what we notice..

18 min – the closer you get to the top. the more it’s the person protecting job..  – onlyness not always well received – lisa… so person chooses to plant in place where red is accepted.. or transfer to a place that it’s valuable..

19 min – on being limited to geography before.. and now you can mobilize…

decision making ness… consensus as irrelevant…

19 min – navigating by your onlyness – lisa – well timed w/blockchain ness..


27 min – i can’t be curious and prove who i am to that person… 

spaces of permission w\nothing to prove... chip takes care of trail

30 min – how do you see onlyness and ai – lisa

if jobs disappear.. how do we get people to do onlyness – what is the scaffolding org’s need..  i’m thinking how humans beat ai – as onlyness is our thing that can’t be replaced..

self-talk as data. as the day.


the power of onlyness


interview w Saul

Saul Kaplan (@skap5) tweeted at 6:42 AM – 2 Nov 2017 :

Jazzed to release my Business Model Podcast chat w/ the amazing @nilofer. Talking The Power of Onlyness. (

4 min – saying.. that idea is too wild, weird, .. too much

11 min – onlyness .. value creation more widely diverse

12 min – how do you find your people.. et al

2 convos .. as the day..

13 min – if you had turned to group you were operating w already.. would have said crazy.. how to claim original idea in spite of anyone else believing it’s valuable..

15 min – once find purposeful meaning (confidence for my ideas).. how do you find the other people..t..  then move it into action

2 convos..

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way

16 min – how to discover my onlyness

17 min – if we pay attention to what people really care about..t

self-talk as data

18 min – saul: so you and i .. we’re not challenged by this.. we put our pov out there.. we’re not afraid..t

but is it really your pov..? ie: krishnamurti free will law

are you being wild/curious enough..? or are you speaking from ‘group you were operating w already’..even if it is an innovative group.. ie: assuming made up money et al..

i think we’re missing like 7b onlynesses here.. (thurman alive law.. zinn energy law)

saul: but as roger martin says.. knowing you’re missing something.. so .. willing to listen to the pushback.. what about for others that aren’t as confident as you and i

19 min – funny you find me as confident.. because i don’t find myself that way

20 min – i had accepted his truth as a truth.. i embraced it.. one thing we have to realize.. sometimes these people.. who are saying.. ie: not going to work.. are not my people.. i need to go find my people who do believe in the set of beliefs..t

begs mech to facil cure ios city

22 min – as soon as your purpose lead you to your people.. your people.. find your power..

23 min – saul: diff from proselytizing..

27 min – onlyness is that evolving state that we are..t

bravery to change mind every day

the it is antifragile me


Big Think (@bigthink) tweeted at 7:05 AM – 10 Feb 2018 :

Moonlight, Juno, Slumdog Millionaire: @Nilofer tells the incredible story of how one big idea led to 48 #Oscar wins: (

What happens when you stop asking, “How can we make money?” and start asking people, “What do you love?”

as it could be