Rocket Scientist Defies Diversity Gravity: Ray Anderson Tells How

Today, many companies want to be inclusive, diverse and promote people of all backgrounds equitably but often struggle to take a homogeneous culture and make it represent our nation and our world. From recruiting to developing diverse talent that is already part of the company, Presidents and CEOs are often vexed by how more women and minorities can succeed in today’s business world. A recent Harvard Business Review article entitled, “Why Diversity Programs Fail,” outlines these many foiled efforts despite the best of intentions through training programs and other initiatives.

One leader and founder stands out in a field that, above others, lacks diversity—aerospace. Retired Air Force colonel, Ray Anderson is the founder and CEO of SEAKR Engineering, a company he founded with his two sons in 1983 and is still run as a family business employing more than 500 people. Although he is in his late eighties, Ray has the energy, passion and enthusiasm of a millennial, often working six days a week as he did when the company was young. If aging is a process which pulls people toward the ground, then Ray metaphorically defies gravity through his efforts in remarkable space achievements, his soaring vision, his unwavering results and his passion for people. He also defies diversity gravity because he has one of the most interesting, inclusive employee cultures in a field of traditionally white males. Insight to his personal story reveals how his culture became inclusive as defined by his upbringing, personal ingenuity and indefatigable spirit.

“We were raised poor by parents who received a tenth grade education,” Rays says. “My Dad worked in the lumber mill and I worked alongside him after high school.” When I graduated in 1946, I enrolled in a community college near the family home in Ontario, California because it was the only option I could afford.” Ray set his sights far beyond the town where he grew up and the confines of the minimum wage world in which he was raised by his hard-working parents.

“I had some of the best education I’ve ever had at the community college,” Ray shares. “My math instructor could make you understand anything and that was the beginning of my career in rocket science.” He transferred and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from UC, Berkeley and Master of Science from UT, Austin. In 1953, he got his Air Force wings during the Korean War. In his next post when he served in the Air Force for Special Projects, he learned the ins and outs of classified satellite work. He served for 28 years and retired as an Air Force Colonel where people of all backgrounds are valued and respected as equals.

Following that, he worked for Rockwell (now Boeing) in Seal Beach, CA but he was turned off by the large, impersonal corporate culture. His true grit and family values led him to a more rewarding path for his dreams and goals. “If you have lemons, make lemonade,” Anderson says, referring to his less than ideal fit with a company the size of Rockwell and the more traditional, good-old-boy culture of the time.

In 1983, he and his two sons, Scott and Eric, were sitting at the kitchen table when they decided to start SEAKR with the goal of using emerging solid-state technologies as an alternative data storage media for space craft memory systems. The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP)was the genesis of SEAKR. Although it took about ten years for the company to truly launch profitably, they eventually launched big and have delivered over 150 spacecraft memory/processing systems with Ray as the fearless leader.

Clean Air For Liveable Cities

Almost every day, we hear news about high air pollution episodes in cities: in Milan and Rome at the end of 2015, in Stuttgart in January 2016, but also in many other cities throughout the world. These episodes raise public concern, cause health complaints and sometimes make air pollution literally visible. They remind us time and again that air pollution is a pressing issue.

With more than half of the world’s population now living in urban areas and population and urbanization expected to grow, ever more people are exposed to high levels of air pollution in cities. The latest data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) on urban air quality shows that worldwide, more than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels exceeding WHO limits. This is a shocking number. And the impacts are grave: respiratory and cardiovascular diseases attributable to air pollution are taking a heavy toll on human health and are thought to cause around 7 million deaths per year — or the equivalent of the whole population of Bulgaria!

The economic consequences of air pollution have been documented widely. TheOrganization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently estimated that the global air pollution-related health-care costs are projected to increase from US$ 21 billion in 2015 to US$ 176 billion in 2060. Similarly, by 2060, the annual number of lost working days (currently around 1.2 billion) are projected to reach 3.7 billion at the global level.

My Dream City: A Young Person’s Model for Bold Social Justice

One of the major advantages of global study and travel is that we get a perspective on opportunities we may observe more clearly in a foreign land. When Anna Safronova, a student from Russia, came to the United States she had this experience, which revealed her life’s work. What ignited the spark in you to start My Dream City international? How did the idea for it come about? The idea of the project is rooted in my own personal experience. During my high school exchange year in the USA, I spent a significant amount of time volunteering as a teacher assistant at a local art museum. There I became friends with an orphaned elementary school student who lived in a foster home. He was 9 at that time but had already changed several families. It was obvious that he encountered more challenges in his childhood than other students. But his story inspired me to think about even less fortunate kids. Despite not having natural parents he led a completely normal life, went to a regular school, had extracurricular activities and felt included into the community. In many other countries that have institutional care for orphans those children experience a very traumatic separation from the society. For many children who enter these facilities, there is little realistic hope for a fulfilling life. The contrast between the foster kid’s life and those led by orphans in many countries around the world seemed to be too striking and too unfair. Upon my return, I decided to do something about it starting in my hometown in Russia. At the age of 17, I visited a local orphanage for the first time. And that is how MDC International started. The MDC international is aimed at providing tutoring and mentorship opportunities for kids living in orphanages. The company’s mission is to facilitate kids’ transition from institutional care to adulthood, help them become self-sufficient and craft the future of their dreams. A large part of the curriculum is focused on empowering kids through building their self-esteem and self-worth as well as providing them with hard skills to develop their natural talent.

The Pope, The Patriarch And The Christian World Pray

Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, in a prayer service on the Greek island of Lesbos (Credit: L’Osservatore Romano/Pool photo via AP)
Today, September 1st 2016, is a momentous occasion. All over the world, Christians from every major denomination are uniting in an official day of prayer dedicated to an issue of the utmost importance to all of us: our Earth, and the threats to its – and therefore our own – wellbeing. Indeed, the whole month of September and early October – known as the Season of Creation – will see a host of prayer services and other activities on the same topic. Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew both just released very powerful statements warning of “the catastrophic world developments in environmental matters” and inviting us to “acknowledge our sins against creation, the poor and future generations.”

These prayers are not taking place in a vacuum. The idea of praying for creation on September 1st was first introduced by the Orthodox Church in 1989, and several other Christian churches have followed since. In recent years these Christian churches have started celebrating the month-long Season of Creation (also known as Creation Time) running till October 4, which is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, author of the Canticle of the Creatures in the 13th century. It is no coincidence, however, that Pope Francis chose last year, just two months after his own Laudato Si’ Encyclical on ecological issues and four months before the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change, to announce that the Catholic Church would also participate.

The Biggest Lesson You Learn When You Travel

A crowded metro full of sweaty Germans on one of the hottest days of the year isn’t exactly the ideal space for inspiration. It’s not an ideal space for anything, really. Unless you just like being in a cramped space with sweaty Germans. But hey, to each their own, I guess.

So, here I was, sitting in a metro in Frankfurt, Germany (where I’m living for the next year) when two families hop on board. One of the families were presumably of German heritage and the other of Middle Eastern heritage (I’m not sure of the exact country), but they didn’t know each other, and each couple had a baby, both around the same age. Each of them somehow managed to fit into the sweaty mass of humans and once the metro starts up, the absolute worst thing happens. One of the babies starts crying and screaming like he just heard a Donald Trump speech. Yeah great, just what I wanted! Adding a crying toddler to the sweaty German metro mixture was just perfect, ya know?

But then, as I was turning up the volume on the new Carly Rae Jepsen album and trying to block out the crying, the non-squealing baby starts giggling and smiling at the squealing baby. And all of a sudden, at the snap of a finger, the crying stopped. Both babies start smiling and giggling at each other, which was kind of cute, but also still kind of annoying because they were interrupting my Queen Jepsen time.

As the babies started laughing, the two couples started smiling and making eye contact with the each other. Even some strangers gave a little grin at the babies just doing their cute thing.

Now, the point of this article isn’t to talk about cute babies or how gross that sweaty metro ride was, even though I could easily do that. We all know the world pretty much seems like it’s going to complete and utter shit right now. When I hear the news, this is how I imagine the world:

The Unfriendliest Cities In The World

Over the last four years, we’ve asked our readers to rate a city’s “friendliness” in the Readers’ Choice Awards survey, especially with respect to where you felt welcome (and where you did not). Did an outgoing local show you the way? Was the city easy to navigate? Some 128,000 people took the survey in 2015—and for the first time ever, we’re seeing how U.S. cities compare to the rest of the world. Counting down, here are the unfriendliest cities in the world…

See the full list of friendliest and unfriendliest cities in the world

Taiwan Is The Hidden Gem Of Asia

It’s the people who make Taiwan my second-favorite country in the world to visit.

The Taiwanese people have a very appealing confidence in themselves that has been forged through decades of struggle with China, as well as 50 years of Japanese cultural influence when Taiwan was under colonial rule from 1895-1945. This self-confidence allows the Taiwanese to turn outward towards other countries, as cosmopolitan, refined citizens of the new global order.

Taiwan blooms with an infectious passion for living. And one of the best ways to experience that vibrant life is on a bicycle. Owner Alex Chang of Taiwan Cycling took me on an unforgettable day trip outside the city of Taipei, and we pedaled through lush, verdant countryside from the mountains down to the sea shore. The villages were charming, and the people were smiling and friendly.

Whereas driving a car through a neighborhood is too fast to take in the ambiance, and walking can be tiring after a few hours, biking is just right. You can roll slow enough to take in a lot of the daily life in a village, while still enjoying the exhilaration of balancing on two skinny wheels with the gentle breeze on your skin.

The Grand Hyatt Taipei was the first of two hotels I sampled in Taipei, and their Yunjin Restaurant stood out for a delicacy to which I am addicted, known as the Sichuan Peppercorn (ask for 香椒子 xiāng jiāo zi, “aromatic peppercorn” or 青花椒 qīng huā jiāo. See the green branch below).