U.S. Mission Podcast Transcripts

The direct link to the official Podcast Page for the U.S. Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand is usembassynz.podbean.com.

Below you can find the transcripts to each podcast:

Podcast:

Podcast link.

Transcript:

[DCM Covert]
All right my name is Kevin Covert, I’m the deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Wellington.
[Nathan Carter]
Nathan Carter on the economic officer also here at the US embassy in Wellington
[DCM Covert]
and we’re here to talk to you today about entrepreneurship, in particular the global entrepreneurship week. I’ve just arrived about 100 days ago and one thing I’ve been really struck by is a common passion that Kiwis and Americans have for for business, for entrepreneurship and I’m, I’m really struck by a common commitment to promoting entrepreneurship and creating an enabling environment and an ecosystem that’s going to promote entrepreneurship. The innovation I’ve seen in New Zealand has just been inspiring and that, that, that, that whole phrase that I’ve learned “she’ll be right” you know, that, that’s something that tells me that kiwis are used to solving problems, they’re used to figuring things out, they’re used to coming up with solutions, they don’t need to be told exactly how to do things, they’ll, they’ll figure things out, and they will find a way and that’s very much consistent with the American spirit of entrepreneurship.
[Nathan Carter]
Sure and I think that’s absolutely true Kevin, a lot of things that we see you know New Zealand is kind of a Tinker’s culture and it’s a, it’s a place that likes to look at a problem, try and solve it, and come up with a creative solution. They also create an environment that supportive for people that have new ideas and that’s something that New Zealand shares with the United States, and the U. S. really has a long history of bringing entrepreneurs with their business ideas to our country to help them grow and help them expand. If you look at some of the more famous names like Sergei Brin who started Google with Larry Page, or Elon Musk who started Tesla and SpaceX we look, you know, as to be a place where people from anywhere in the world who have a good idea, they’re looking to grow, they’re looking to get access to capital, who want to have protection for their intellectual property rights, who want to have enforceable contracts, who’re looking for a place that they can expand, that is, yeah that’s who we’re looking to to bring to the United States and, and to partner also globally, with other countries that have the same values.
[DCM Covert]
and, and you mentioned that partnership in particular in space which is an area again that is incredibly inspiring, and were New Zealand is, is demonstrating it is a world class player. I was really pleased to go to Naseby recently, just to, just a short 2 hour drive from Dunedin, to visit the LeoLabs radar array and they’re doing incredible work to track and monitor space debris. It’s, it’s again a world class facility, it demonstrates partnership between US and New Zealand entrepreneurs, both the US government and the New Zealand government through the New Zealand space agency, our, our key players and facilitators in this project, and it just shows entrepreneurship and innovation at its best. Another experience I had recently was in the Hutt Valley here, close to Wellington, and I had a chance to speak to the Rotary club there, and one of the programs they’ve invested in, is called “innovative young minds”, and this is a program that, that really is designed to give young women an opportunity to enhance their skills in science, technology, engineering and math, and through this program they’ll bring these future young entrepreneurs to the United States, to visit NASA headquarters for example, or to visit Silicon Valley. Just last year the Hutt Valley Rotary club sponsored a trip for 12 young women to visit Silicon Valley to meet venture capitalists and to really explore their entrepreneurial spirit. It was fantastic.
[Nathan Carter]
it’s great that you mentioned Leo labs too because of this partnership, you know, some people don’t realize this, but the New Zealand government has its own venture capital fund and they actually put money into LeoLabs which is a US company to help it grow and again it’s creating jobs here in New Zealand, and we see something similar too with, with RocketLab, where RocketLab started as a New Zealand company, started to grow, built this partnership with the United States and, now it has offices and operations both in New Zealand, but also in the United States as well, and it’s benefited from venture capital from the U. S. and from New Zealand as well.
[DCM Covert}
Yeah I, I’m, I’m glad that you mentioned the role that governments can play. When we, when we think about entrepreneurship, we think about you know Steve Jobs or, or Bill Gates kind of tinkering in their garage and starting a company on their own, and that’s a big part of it but, you know, governments have a role to play a positive and constructive role to play too and I’m very pleased to say that the US government through the, the KIWI act has a new program called the E1/E2 visa program, that is designed to enable startup and companies and, and investors from New Zealand to invest in the United States in a substantial way and enable them to become essentially local residents and be treated as local investors. They can buy homes, their kids can go to local schools, they’ll be members of the community, for 5 years and it’s a renewable visa. So there’s some really great kiwi companies that have already taken advantage of this E1/E2 visa program, I know that the Kiwi Shake and Bake company is one example, and NoHo Chairs is another success story, so we’re excited to see where this program’s gonna go in the future.
[Nathan Carter]
Yeah, Kevin I’m glad you mentioned that too, it’s, it’s exciting to see, you know, that New Zealand companies that are coming up with a good idea or expanding an existing business that are looking to reach into the U. S. market, again, the population of New Zealand is 4.8 million people and so if you’re looking to expand into, to be larger, by going to the US you can tap into the 330 million people in the US, but also used that as a launching off point for Canada and Central America and South America, and it’s interesting because we’ve received dozens of applications so far, for the E1/E2 visas and they’ve been really across on the spectrum, as you mentioned the Kiwi Shake and Bake, I had the pleasure of being able to go to Boise, Idaho, to, to visit them and to see their business and they are doing a fantastic job of bringing the New Zealand meat pie culture to the American West, they’re doing really well, they’ve been quite successful and I think we’re gonna see a lot more of that in the future but you know these businesses are everything from a bakery to furniture company to text, tech companies, so the sky is really the limit in regard to the ideas that New Zealand is bringing to the U. S. to launch these businesses.
[DCM Covert]
yeah I agree Nathan and there’s one other program that we wanted to talk about today and share with our listeners, it’s the SelectUSA program and this is a an annual conference in the United States designed to promote investment in, in that large U. S. market, it’s designed to accommodate and support companies of all shapes and sizes including start ups, and what it does is it connects investors with economic development organizations from all 50 states, it gives them the opportunity to access market research, to explore, access to finance, it helps them learn about policy trends and rate the regulatory environment, so it’s, it’s a fantastic opportunity for New Zealand companies to look at entering or expanding their presence in the United States, and every year the US ambassador to New Zealand leads a delegation of, of Kiwi companies to Washington for this SelectUSA conference, so we hope that there’ll be a number of New Zealand companies looking to join the ambassador on that trip in June.
[Nathan Carter]
Kevin, I’m glad you mentioned that because I think that not that many people in New Zealand have really heard about SelectUSA and it is our premier trade and investment promotion event, we do it every June and I think that if people want to demystify the U. S. market you’re gonna be able to meet with groups from the economic development offices from all 50 states, you’re gonna learn about customs, you’re gonna learn about tax incentives, you’re going to learn about access to capital, you’re gonna learn about regulations and how to be able to expand your business in the U. S., so even if you’re relatively small businesses there’s real value in, in attending this event to make contacts, to make part, potential partnerships, for being able to expand. Everyone I’ve ever talked to that has gone on this event has just, has really enjoyed it and thought it was a great, great experience
[DCM Covert]
and don’t you have some experience yourself Nathan? from the private sector, and working with venture capital companies? I mean,
[Nathan Carter]
sure,
[DCM Covert]
tell us about that,
[Nathan Carter]
Well that’s one of things I find that’s interesting, we often really talk about the, the story of Silicon Valley as a place for people to take their business, but the reality is there are VC funds across the United States. In a previous job I did some work with a venture capital firm that was based out of Kentucky, and so I think if your a business and you’re looking for, going to United States, there are a number of different markets that you can grow, there are a lot of different partners who would love to work with you, help you to expand your business, find you partners on the production side or the marketing side or the sales side and I think that New Zealand has a tremendous brand in the United States so it’s a real opportunity to take something like SelectUSA to make those connections, and then spend a few weeks in the United States traveling around the country to find a market that makes sense. You know we’re seeing more and more brands that are out of New Zealand showing up in the U. S. Mojo Coffee is now in Chicago, it has 2 stores, it’s looking to do 20, Burger Fuel is in Indianapolis and doing really well, so there’s a real appetite for Kiwi brands and New Zealand products in the United States, and so I encourage our, you know, New Zealand listeners to think about their, their business and how they can leverage it into the US market.
[DCM Covert]
Well thanks everyone for joining us in learning more about global entrepreneurship week, the E1/E2 visa program and SelectUSA conference in June, please contact US Embassy Wellington for more information thanks very much.

Podcast:

Podcast link.

Transcript:

[Ted Danowitz]
Hello everybody and welcome back to another podcast from the US embassy my name is Ted Danowitz and I am based at our consulate in Auckland where I cover US New Zealand space policy and outside of my day job I am also NASA aficionado and space camp alum which is why I’m especially glad to welcome with us today Doctor Anna Fisher, NASA astronaut, who is here, coming to New Zealand to share her experience working with NASA, going into space, and promoting women into stem fields, so welcome Doctor Fisher.
[Anna Fisher]
I’m really happy to be here, it’s one of my bucket list items to come to New Zealand, so really excited about being here.
[Ted Danowitz]
Well happy to welcome you, you know most peoples bucket list is to go into space so I’m glad we could help, you know, I’m happy to help check your bucket list item off.
[Anna Fisher]
I’ve checked that one off
[Ted Danowitz]
Well fantastic. So I think it’d be great to hear about your experience getting in to becoming an astronaut, could you share with us sort of how how that came about?.
[Anna Fisher]
Well you know back when I became an astronaut it wasn’t it at all common for women and, and even people that weren’t pilots, to be able to become astronauts so I just found out, really totally by chance, I’d always wanted to be an astronaut since I was 12 years old but it certainly didn’t seem like a very realistic goal. I was in the middle just finishing my internship when one of my medical school friends who was a real NASA aficionado and he followed the program and said you know, Hey NASA’s looking for mission specialists for the space shuttle and I found out about a month before the deadline, got my application in a day before the deadline, and 6 weeks later was in the first group of women being interviewed, so you know looking back, it was just such a serendipitous thing, like what if I hadn’t been hungry that day and hadn’t gone to lunch, to, to have my whole life changed really on the basis of that, it was a dream come true and to find out that I was not only interviewed but then selected was everything I’d ever hoped for.
[Ted Danowitz]
What went into the selection process?
[Anna Fisher]
Well I’ve had a chance to, to experience it from both sides, both as a candidate to be interviewed, and as a member of the selection board for the 1987 class, so the process is, and even today the process is still pretty much the same, you know initialy you submit your application and then based on whether you have the right credentials and everything they pick out a group of about 200 people to, that they’re going to interview and they interview in groups of 20 and you come to the Space Center for a week, and that week includes medical tests, of course psychological testing, I think we’ve added a little, little bit more now, we’re, we test people for language skill, I mean ability to learn a language because a lot of the new astronauts have to learn Russian, which we did not, and a few little things like that, but basically the process is that but the, the biggest and the most important part of the week is your interview with the astronaut selection board, and that interview is an hour, and you write an essay the night that you get there about why you want to be an astronaut, and I learned years later when I was on the selection board that what happens is just before you come in for the interview they read your essay and have a good laugh about it usually. So but that, that, the board consists of 10 to 12 people that, chief of the office, the director of flight crew operations, several of the senior astronauts, some people from human resources, and, and basically if you pass everything else, that interview is the thing that determines whether you get selected or not. there’s a little bit of factors that come into it. but basically that’s the most important part once you pass the medical tests and everything else.
[Ted Danowitz]
What happens after that I’m guessing you don’t just start and then two weeks later they sit you on top of rocket?
[Anna Fisher]
Oh no, it’s a much, much longer process than that. You know first they notify everybody and they give you a little bit of time because you gotta move your whole family to Houston, good news is you get picked as an astronaut. Living in Houston was a pretty big change for me, coming from California, but I’ve lived there longer now than I’ve lived anywhere else and Houston really does grow on you but when the first year or so, it’s earned its reputation for heat and humidity, but so you move to Houston and then for the first year or so, and it varies, like for our class it was a year, for the newer classes, it’s a little longer, anywhere from 2.5, 2 to 2.5 years, mostly because they have to learn Russian, which is a you know really hard language to learn, and they have a little bit more in their, with its called your astronaut candidacy, it’s also a chance for NASA to have one more look at you to decide, you know if you really have the right stuff and all of that, but it rarely, I mean I, I can’t even think of any instances where people were not kept as an astronaut from that year, but it does give them a year or 2 years to evaluate you. So, so you have that year, and for the shuttle program you took a lot of training on the shuttle, after that, everybody in the office gets various jobs, and although that’s not party of formal training, obviously you learn a lot from the different jobs, so you can be a capcom in mission control, which I did, I worked in the area of space suits and space walks, I worked in the facility where we verify our software and we have a group of astronauts that spend about a year to 2 years at the Kennedy Space Center, you don’t live there, but you travel back and forth to support all the testing to get shuttles ready to launch and so all of that, you know, leads up to when you’re finally selected and I was really glad that I had all those different jobs before I flew in space because after doing all those different things you really understood how NASA worked, how it made decisions and, and so then when your assigned to a crew in the. In your formal training and that for a shuttle mission was about a year to a year and a half or something like that. For the space station now it’s more like 2.5 approaching 3 years because it’s just, the space station is a much more complicated vehicle, you also have to travel a lot so, but basically the process is still the same as it was back then.
[Ted Danowitz]
Great and so that brings us to actually going into space. Walk us through launch day, what’s going through your head as you walk out to the space shuttle and get loaded in?
[Anna Fisher]
I was selected for my flight at 2 weeks before I delivered my daughter and, my daughter who is, I had her on a Friday and Monday morning I was at the pilots meeting where we meet every Monday at 8:00 AM because I wanted them to be sure that they knew that even though I had a baby, I was in this and I was dedicated and everything. For the first maybe 4 weeks my training team was a little easy on me and tried to give me a couple days off a week and so forth but, but pretty much for five weeks and we’re back full time. So you train for like I said about a year year and a half. And you know when, when the day finally comes that you’re actually launching in space, it’s really surreal to be honest with you, it’s, you know, I’ve been thinking about that since I was 12 years old! and so, you know, to suddenly actually being going out to the pad and getting ready to launch, it just, it’s almost like you’re in a dream and it’s not real but it, but it is, and so it’s a pretty amazing feeling to go out there and I was the fourth person to get strapped, in so I had a fair amount of time standing on the access arm looking out at the ocean waiting for my crew mates to get strapped in, and to think about what I was doing, and you know, it was all the things you could possibly imagine, you know being excited, happy, scared. And you know it you can’t launch on a rocket like that without understanding that there’s risk involved, but to me the space program is worth that risk because it’s something I really, really believe in, and and was honored to be a part of it, to be in the first group of women selected, was an incredible honor, but when the moment there rockets ignite all that stuff coming out of your brain. And at that point you know you’ve done all the work everything’s happened, at that point what’s going to happen is going to happen, and it was almost like a relief to finally be on the way and whatever’s going to happen is going to happen, and you’ll deal with it, but the longest 8 and half minutes I’ve ever spent. When we finally got to MECO, main engine cut off, that was a really, really, great feeling and at that point I was no longer really worried about risk or any of that. By the time I flew I think we had become a little complacent about entry. I thought all the risk was really in ascent. And I still think that the bulk of the risk is in ascent but none the less obviously with Columbia, you have entry’s also, that has to be considered, but at that point you know, it was just such a great feeling to be on orbit and then comes the time that you got to do your part of the job.
[Ted Danowitz]
So what was your part of the job for this mission?
[Anna Fisher]
Our flight was really exciting. In the early part of the space shuttle program there were two satellites that were deployed from the shuttle payload bay in February, and we launched in November and so these two satellites were in perfectly great condition, but they were in the wrong orbit because the rocket that was supposed to take them to geosynchronous orbit failed about 4 seconds into what should have been about a 4 minute burn, so basically these perfectly good satellites worth millions of dollars were in great shape, but they were basically useless, and so nobody had ever done that before, to go and try to retrieve these satellites which 1. were not designed to be retrieved, number 2, nobody had ever handled hardware that big, I mean the satellites are about the size of a small school bus here on the ground, and so it was actually the insurance companies that pushed NASA to do it, they, NASA really wasn’t that excited about doing the mission, not because they didn’t want to, but they I think thought it was kind of risky early in the shuttle program. We were really excited about it and we really participated in actually helping design the mission, design the hardware and how we were going to do it, and so I was the flight engineer on the flight for ascent and entry. And then I was the robotic arm operator and my two crewmates, Dale Gardner and Joe Allen were the two that went outside and did the space walk.
[Ted Danowitz]
So you get back to earth, what are some of the post-space achievements that you have been really proud of?
[Anna Fisher]
Well when I, I actually was assigned to my second flight within a month after I landed and then I was about 6 weeks or so from flight when the Challenger accident happened, so we realized then that you know it was going to probably be a good two to three years before we were back flying. My husband and I decided we wanted our second child, and I found out that two children is a lot more work than one. And anyway, for lots of reasons I decided to take a leave of absence which, I didn’t plan for it to be 7 years, but it wound up being 7 years, but as a result of that, then in 1996 I came back to NASA and was very appreciative of the fact that 1. it allowed me to take a leave of absence, number 2. it allowed me to come back no one had ever really done that before and, but it turned out going back was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, because everything had changed while I was gone, most of the people I was selected with had left NASA by then because a pretty much typical astronaut career length would be to come for 10 or 12 years fly a couple missions and then they go back out into industry or go back to university. That’s the more typical career path, so I came back and 1. people were new and all of a sudden they gave me this thing called a computer, which you know when I left to go on my leave of absence, I think one person in the office who was a real nerdy scientist had a computer, and all of a sudden the whole way we were doing business changed. You know email, and you know, all that sort of stuff, so it probably took about a year to readapt back to the office and everything but, there was nobody left in the office that had been there at the beginning to see what the shuttle program was like before we were flying. There was nobody left really and I was the one person who could say, as we were starting to develop space station, a lot of people were criticized, critical of the fact that the displays weren’t good, the procedures weren’t good, the training wasn’t good, and I go well, it was just like that the beginning of shuttle, it takes time for all that stuff to get developed and to mature, and so I felt like I was able to be a, a voice of reason advising the chief of the office when I felt that some of my colleagues, younger colleagues, would be in a little bit unreasonable in what they were expecting and as a result of that, he may be the chief of the space station branch. It’s that old saying be careful what you wish for, whatever, but it turned out that, at, that was really a wonderful experience, I learned how to work with all our international partners and I went from thinking we were absolutely nuts to start out being partners with, with the Russians, and, and, and and I did a complete one-eighty in what I, what I believed in, and began to realize the real advantage of international cooperation as we go into space, and, and it was just really wonderful to, to see what it, initially was a relationship where people weren’t really certain how this was all gonna work. To being able to figure out how to meld all the different opinions and, and so looking back on my career I’d have to say going into space was absolutely amazing and was obviously the pinnacle , but chief of the space station branch and working with the international partners, and now we’re on expeditions 60, this is before expedition one. And you know to, to look at the things that we did back then that are still carried forward and that are successful and it, it’s a, it was a really neat feeling and I think it allows me to speak with some authority now as we’re looking at going to the moon, going to Mars then to really strongly advocate for it being an international effort as opposed to the US alone effort, and when I was working on expedition one and two I couldn’t even envision, you know, I was just glad we would get through the first 5 or 6 build flights, because that I don’t think people really understand how complicated it was to build the space station, to bring all these partners together, all these different modules built in different countries, and for it all work and, and for us to really get along as well as we have I mean, a perfect example was when we had a hurricane in Houston, seamlessly handling handing mission control over to the Russians, learning how to use all, work with all these different control centers around the world. I don’t think anyone who’s not involved in the program can really appreciate the complexity and the, how neat it was.
[Ted Danowitz]
You were one of the early testers for women in space suits right?
[Anna Fisher]
It was my first job after we finish that astronaut candidate year, and they didn’t even have a shuttle suit, I mean all we had was the A7LB, which is the apollo suit. And you know, I certainly didn’t know much about space suits so I’m sure you and your listeners probably don’t either but the Apollo suit was designed, it’s a one piece suit and it was designed, you know, so that you can go on the moon and pick up rocks, it was really not designed to do a lot of work like, repairing the tiles on the shuttle, building a space station, which at that stage even we were not planning on building the space station, but we knew that the space suit needed to do more than just allow you to walk around on the moon and so the, it was a more complicated suit, it was a 2 piece suit with a hard upper torso so it has like trousers if you will, and then a hard upper torso and what we found out as we got into it, to try to get that hard upper torso small enough that it fit someone like me, it was almost impossible to get into, it originally, it was going to be an extra small to an extra large, it turned out to be a lot more difficult than you could think to get it small enough and yet be able to get into the suit and it was way too late to change the design of the suit so NASA ultimately made the decision to only go with the medium, the large, the extra large instead of the smaller ones so, so that actually precluded me getting to do a space walk because they didn’t have a suit small enough.
[Ted Danowitz]
In closing what, what sort of advice do you have for all the youngsters and especially the young women looking to get a career in space?
[Anna Fisher]
Well a couple couple things, first of all, you know, being an astronaut is really wonderful but, you know, first of all a lot of countries don’t have a space program and so that, at least in the foreseeable future, not going to be an option, there’s so many wonderful jobs in the space industry, there are, I mean, engineers, flight controllers, so many, so many different areas, not everybody wants to fly rockets into space too, but want to be a part of it, so that’s the first thing I would say is, you know, if you really love space, you know, you don’t have to be an astronaut, there’s a lot of amazing wonderful jobs, like in Houston, it’s, it’s almost as exciting to be a flight controller and then work your way up to say being a flight director, the engineering director, it, it, there’s just so many jobs that you can do, so that’s my first advice is if you love space there’s many wonderful jobs. In the United States you do have to be a US citizen to be an astronaut at the moment, so you need to come from a country when you hear that the other countries have astronauts, they have their own space agency and somehow there’s some arrangement with the United States where they’re all at a high level, you know, have, have agreements of how those folks are going to fly, but you don’t have to be a US citizen to work in the space program, for example, I was working on the Orion displays before I retired, and the 2 young men that were leading the effort for designing the software, were both from Belgium, so you don’t have to be a US citizen to get involved in the US space program. I suspect it’s true of other countrie,s so that’s another thing to think about. But if you do want to be an astronaut, a US astronaut, you know you need to decide if you want to be a pilot or if you want to be a mission specialist. If you want to be a pilot, you really need to join the military, become a pilot and go to be a test pilot, you’re not gonna get selected if you don’t, haven’t been to test pilot school, at least at the moment, that could change in the future. If you want to be a mission specialist, you really can pick almost any area, I mean one of my office mates was a veterinarian and so, it, the area of science is not as important as the fact that you have an advanced degree. MD, PhD, a masters with some significant experience, in some cases, let’s see, then knowing another language is really important, and right now it’s still very important to know Russian, wouldn’t surprise me in the future that knowing Chinese would be a good thing to to do, and, and then you know, you got to think about how you would want your application to stick out, so, you know you want to show that you’ll be comfortable in other environments, so, like, I was a scuba diver before I applied and I was working on getting my private pilot’s license, some people, you know, mountain climbing, just just other things to show that you’re not going to be uncomfortable in the strange situations and so forth. So those are the,and then the other thing I would say is you know a career in science and math is a really, a STEM field is really exciting you know, when I was doing on my math homework at UCLA, I never had any idea it was going to lead to all this wonderful adventure and, and, this amazing career so, study hard, get good grades, I mean when I was on the board, we still looked at SAT scores, even when it was this many years past, when it rarely had any relevance.
[Ted Danowitz]
Awesome thank you so much again for your time, this is Doctor Anna Fisher, one of NASA’s first astronauts and correct me if I’m wrong but the first mother in space?
[Anna Fisher]
First mother in space, my daughter says I owe it all to her.
[Ted Danowitz]
Well thank you doctor Fisher and thank you to your daughter too
[Anna Fisher]
Thank you so much.

 

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Podcast link.

Transcript:

[DCM Kevin Covert]
All right so I’m Kevin Covert the deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Wellington and I’m here today with Dan Ceperly the CEO and co founder of LeoLabs and Dan thanks for spending some time with us today
[Dan Ceperly]
it’s my pleasure, thanks for joining us here
[DCM Kevin Covert]
it’s great to be here in Naseby and I wonder if you could tell our listeners what they’re not looking at but what we’re standing in front of
[Dan Ceperly]
Absolutely. Well we’re extremely excited to unveil our kiwi space radar, so it’s the third radar in our network and it’s the first one that tracks small debris.
So LeoLabs is actually in the business of space traffic safety, we monitor satellites and we monitor debris and we send out alerts about risky situations like possible collisions so the satellites can be steered around the debris.
[DCM Kevin Covert]
And so what is the technology behind that, I mean how does this radar installation actually work in layman’s terms if you don’t mind.
[Dan Ceperly]
Absolutely, so the, it’s a phased array radar and so what it does is it monitors the sky around the clock, so during the day, during the night it’s not interrupted by clouds. What it does is it sends out radio pulses and listens for echoes sort of like a dolphin or a bat sending out chirps for echo location, the radar does the same thing but it uses radio waves.
And whenever we measure a satellite or piece of debris we then combine that with data coming off our other radars, one in Alaska in one in Texas, to fit an orbit satellite which means basically predicting where it’s going to go, and in low earth orbit a satellite goes all the way around the earth every ninety minutes, every hour and a half, so we take a bunch of measurements, we predict where it’s going to go, we also predict where the debris is going to go and if there’s any close approaches that’s when we send out the alert
[DCM Kevin Covert]
That’s exciting and, and so what is the next step, I mean where do you go from here? I assume thatthis is a commercial endeavor
[Dan Ceperly]
yeah absolutely, so we’re a startup that’s located in the San Francisco area near California, we’re building out a global network. So New Zealand’s the third radar in the network.
The first of this new generation and we’re building three more copies of it, so we’ll have one near the equator because it turns out there’s a few satellites that stay over the equator and we’ll also have a couple more closer to the North Pole and closer to the South Pole so that we can check in on the satellites more frequently. The other big thing we do is also the software so we have a software system running in the cloud that interprets the data and archives the data and puts it, pushes out alerts to our subscribers. The archive is actually an interesting piece we’re also in effect kind of the DVR for space so if something happens, with our data you can rewind it and re play what what went on and try to prevent it in the future, spot it ahead of time so that doesn’t happen again.
[DCM Kevin Covert]
So it’s exciting to be here in New Zealand with you can you tell us a little bit why you chose to come to New Zealand, what was attractive about doing business here.
[Dan Ceperly]
Yeah absolutely there’s a few things that are important for us, relationships are probably the most important so Minister Woods in the space agency really had a strategic vision for where they wanted to take New Zealand in the space sector, and they’ve actually made New Zealand a leading space nation and it just started launching satellites a year or two ago and pretty soon they’re going to have the largest commercial fleet of satellites in the world. We’re in business because of all these new commercial developments, so we wanted to be here to both support that innovation cycle and keep it safe and also be part of it. We’re really hoping to have New Zealand software companies working on the data sets that we produce. Another thing is the relationshipa at local level so we develop strong relationships with the local district council that enabled us to build this radar and even the farmers so Phil and Joe invited us on to their sheep farm and it’s just been an honor working here.
The last bit, in terms of location there’s no radars of this type in the southern hemisphere.
So when you talk about safety, the safety situation in the southern hemisphere hasn’t been as good as the northern hemisphere this radar fixes that so by bringing it online we can actually help out with any potential collisions over the South Pole.
[DCM Kevin Covert]
So who are the companies that might be potential subscribers to your services and and what are they looking for from Leolabs?
[Dan Ceperly]
yeah absolutely, so LeoLabs is architected to serve four market segments, so we serve satellite operators directly, we serve regulators and space agencies, we serve the insurance industry, and we serve defense organizations and what they need is, by and large they need real time information about the risks that satellite face in orbit, so potential collisions that are coming up, if any satellites are malfunctioning, newly launched satellites, where are they, where they are going, that sort of information and then also mind of overall information that they can use to develop and revise policies, so huge questions in the policy world right now, how do we manage all the space traffic safety, how do we promote the space industry and because it’s a growing part of the economy, but how do we do that in a sustainable manner because if you create debris it actually stays in orbit for decades or centuries or potentially even longer so we need to make sure we’re not creating it and that’s a complicated question, and what we observed was before us there was really no data on the market, there was no data to underpin all these decisions so we’re getting the data out there and the subscribers are ultimately subscribing to that data and then using it to make decisions.
[DCM Kevin Covert]
Fantastic that’s really exciting okay so last question Dan I wonder if you can tell me a little bit how are you were inspired by this project, what what inspired you in the beginning to come up with this idea and found this company, I mean what was the initial impetus
[Dan Ceperly]
yeah, so myself and the other co founders we’d all been interested in space and we’d been working in engineering kind of related things and then just a couple years ago we started getting more requests from new satellite operators they’d launched their satellites and lost them, and they were asking for help finding them and at the time we had some scientific facilities that we were using, we could we could try to help them find the satellite but it didn’t work that well because it wasn’t really our day job and in fact it kind of interrupted the science so we said there’s really a need for a commercial service that is just going to provide these safety services day in and day out, nobody else was doing it, in fact nobody else knew how to build the radars that were necessary for it so two of out co founders Mike and John had a long history of designing, building and operating these radars so we said let’s do this, let’s raise a little bit of investment, let’s race around the world and build all these radars and let’s get that service out there because the number of satellites is growing so quickly there is about a thousand active satellites in low earth orbit today. In about three to five years there should be fifteen thousand active satellites so the numbers going up quick so we said now is the time and let’s just make this happen.
[DCM Kevin Covert]
That’s fantastic well congratulations on the launch of this radar installation and, and good luck with the next phase of the project
[Dan Ceperly]
thank you very much it’s an absolute pleasure
[DCM Kevin Covert]
thank you.

 

Podcast:

Podcast link.

Transcript:

[Jethro Gardiner]
My name is Jethro Gardiner, I am the cultural affairs coordinator at the US consulate Auckland, I have Ari South with me who’s here for the Pacific Fusion fashion Show, all the way from Hawaii,
[Ari South]
Aloha.
[Jethro]
Aloha, I would love to ask you a couple of questions on your time here.
[Ari]
Okay,
[Jethro]
First one, can you tell New Zealand or our listeners, what’s special to you about Hawaii?
[Ari]
Hawaii, its people,it’s definitely the people, and especially in the last year with a lot of cultural movement and a lot of, a lot of our Native Hawaiians coming together as a alahuia, as a single unit. It’s definitely the people like everywhere else,
[Jethro]
much like New Zealand, so with your creative spirit who or what is your inspiration?
[Ari]
My inspiration is: every woman, it’s every woman, and it’s really the joy that I get from, from women who come back to me repeatedly to purchase, families that come back to me and to see them enjoying what I do and to see them enjoying and living in what we do and being able to afford it and being able to really be a part of their lives that way, that’s really my inspiration to do what we do
[Jethro]
And so, when you say woman are we talking young woman, are we talking girls
[Ari]
Oh every woman, every every woman. We’ve seen, we have, we have women who come to us who are in their 20s.
We have women and a lot of our a lot of, and, quite honestly, a lot of our demographic are a lot of my auntie’s, a lot of the older women, and I think, that’s a that’s a market that often gets neglected because a lot of fashion brands will go after and idolize the young skinny girls and the young thin girls.
And I really love seeing when a normal woman and every, when I say every woman I mean like our kumukalai.
I really mean our aunties, and our grandmother’s, these strong women that we look up to you, but often don’t get celebrated in fashion, to celebrate them and to see them empowered, to see them excited on a physical level, because they have all this spiritual mana to put forward, that’s really, what is it’s so inspiring.
[Jethro]
Beautiful, you just answered my next question on who do you envision wearing the Ari South brand
[Ari]
Everyone, well men and women right? because we do both men and women’s, we’re starting to do kids clothing as well.
So we’ve been building our brand out as the years go by, everything is made in Hawaii, so it takes a little longer for us to do and it costs a little more, but we always try to keep our cost affordable so the building of the, of the vastness of the brand is slow and steady, but the support behind it is a hundred percent.
[Jethro]
Amazing, here’s one for you, for our emerging designers actually, what advice do you have for them?
[Ari]
Emerging designers?
Stick to your guns, don’t back down and never stop believing in what you see, and in your darkest times where it’s easy to give up, because I know it’s gonna come it’s gonna come back repeatedly.
You have to have your why, and so I do it for my community, I do it for my team and I do it for the men and women that that live among us, and so that’s my Why of why we keep going
[Jethro]
and then, on the other end of the spectrum, what advice do you have for leading designers?
[Ari]
Leading designers, leading designers know that we’re gonna be replaced, so we really have to nurture our young designers.
We have to really see the value in emerging designers because we were also there so everybody starts somewhere.
So anybody who is an established designer who maybe doesn’t have time to give advice to someone starting out, make the time, because it’s soon enough that the circle of life comes out and comes around and we’re gonna be out.
[Jethro]
Passing on the baton.
Okay, what’s special to you about New Zealand it’s your first time here?
[Ari]
It’s my first time to New Zealand.
It feels like home.
So I think that people here are really great.
We really love the meat pies.
Cheese, cheese, meat pies, and I mean you guys are our cousins right, so we just got off the boat a little earlier up in Hawaii, so we’re family.
[Jethro]
Amazing, the whanau
What are you hoping that people take away from your collection tonight, tonight once they see it?
[Ari]
A sense of joy, I definitely hope that people take home a sense of joy, I hope they feel lifted.
I hope they feel, I hope they see themselves in the clothing.
I think that’s really what, what I really hope and I hope that they like look for me afterwards.
That’s always the sign of a great show right, is that they that they feel like they’ve, been transported to somewhere else, and they feel inspired and happy.
[Jethro]
Amazing.
So, what’s next on the horizon for you?
[Ari]
Next, we have another show next weekend on Maui, at home in Hawaii, and we have another show the following month.
So we’ve just got a bunch of shows, we’re going into our holiday season back home.
I know you folks are going into spring, we’re going into holidays, so we’re gonna be going into a lot of like retail, a lot of pop ups for us as a brand, and so it’s continuing as usual, new prints on the horizon and ongoing you know? and kind of you know, keep we’ll keep doing shows like this abroad yeah it never stops.
[Jethro]
Amazing.
So I’ve got a scenario for you: I’m a creative person that is too scared to risk it all and start my own business, design or venture.
What message would you leave me that was pivotal to your involvement?
[Ari]
You’ve got to jump.
You’re never gonna be ready.
If you keep practicing for the game, you’re never, you’ll never be ready to leave the bench, so you just got to go in.
Sometimes you have to jump and then build the plane as you go down and that’s just, that’s how it is you’re, never gonna be as ready as you think you should be.
But if you really love it and if you’re obsessed with it, if you cannot go a day without doing it or thinking about it, then take that jump.
[Jethro]
Awesome last thing to finish: is there anything you want to add?
[Ari]
I want to say a big Mahalo to New Zealand.
I want to say a big Mahalo to the US Embassy for hosting us while we’ve been here, me and my team have been such a great time here, yeah, just a huge huge amount of gratitude to you folks and to the people of New Zealand.
[Jethro]
On behalf of the US Embassy Ari, it’s a pleasure to have you here for the Pacific Fusion Fashion Show, we’ve loved having you, we’ve loved seeing your workshop that you’ve been included in, the pop-up shop that you’ve also had, so we’re looking forward to tonight’s show, we’ll take lots of photos and get them to you.
But yes, Aloha
[Ari]
Thank you, Aloha

 

Podcast:

Podcast link.

Transcript:

[Jethro Gardiner]
Hello, my name is Jethro Gardiner, I’m from the US consulate in Auckland, and I have with me Afa Ah Loo from Utah, originally from Samoa, who is one of the designers here for the Pacific fusion Fashion Show. I’ve got a couple questions for you I’m just going to ask.
We’ll Start off with, tell our listeners what’s so special about New Zealand?
[Afa Ah Loo]
I think what special about New Zealand is, you feel the family units type of thing over here, where everybody is ,as a family.
You know, and that’s what I love most about New Zealand and about the Pacific Islands is just, you feel that.
[Jethro]
Cool, with your creative spirit, who or what is your inspiration?
[afa]
My inspiration is always from where, where I was born and where I’m from, Samoa, whether it be the culture, the people, my parents, the environment, whatever it is, I always think back to that and kind of like it, also helps me and motivates me to keep on going with my journey so yeah, that’s what it is
[Jethro Gardiner]
And for emerging designers, What advice would you give them?
[Afa Ah Loo]
Learn how to sew. That’s it. like you can’t be a designer if you don’t know how to sew, especially as a beginner, you can’t and you don’t have any money to you know pay people to sew for you, at least you have money to buy fabrics, then you can sew your own, so learn how to sew.
[Jethro]
Practical, and what advice would you have for current leaders?
What did I call it? leading designers? Sorry
[Afa]
Be a part of the fear, a solution through a problem and but not add to the problem.
I think there’s already a lot of problems when it comes to the fashion industry and especially with imagery and how people view beauty, I think, with designers and big time designers today, I think we should be able to relook at that.
I think we are slowly heading that way, so to be able to become the solution and not the problem itself.
[Jethro]
So you’re talking about body image,
[Afa]
yes,
[Jethro]
okay,
[Afa]
any of it like representation matters, really and so you don’t really see a whole lot of that going on the high fashion world, especially in big fashion, in the shows in New York and in Paris, but it’d be good to see more, more and more and more of it going on.
[Jethro]
Agreed,
Who do you envision wearing the Afa Ah Loo brand?
[Afa}
I think, any woman, I know this is very cliched, but a woman that is just that, once to, the woman that our world is a lot of as powerful and strong and beautiful inside and just need a little bit push to just get that beauty and confident out.
So that’s what it is! yeah
[Jethro]
So you’re from, you live in Utah.
[Afa]
Yes, I live in Utah,
[Jethro]
but you’re from Samoa
[Afa]
yeah for sure.
[Jethro]
So I’m gonna ask you a double-whammy then.
[Afa]
Okay,
[Jethro]
What’s special about both, gimme something about Utah and something about Samoa
[Afa]
Well, Okay, are you, okay I get it
okay, the thing I love about Utah is you have a lot of natural parks up there.
I think Utah has the most natural parks in the whole entire of United States of America.
So I love going, doing outdoors and you know seeing fossils and canyons or things like that.
So yeah, that’s what I love most about Utah and it’s the same with Samoa.
It’s a lot of outdoor things you can do like hiking and swimming and all that kind of stuff.
So I guess that’s why I love both, Yeah
[Jethro]
Great.
What are you hoping for people in the audience tonight to take away from your collection when they see it?
[Afa]
That they see my view of modernizing old Samoan fashion, especially the pulatasi, because that’s the inspiration behind my collection is when I went back to Samoa.
two weeks ago I saw, I was reminded of how beautiful Samoan pulatasi silhouettes were back in the days, and so you see my collections my take on that.
So it’s just modernising of that and mixing it.
[Jethro]
Great, so for the listeners can you just describe that, what a pulatasi is?
[Afa]
Pulatasi is what is worn by a woman, it’s usually a top and a lava lava or sarong.
That’s the same print, pula is print, tasi is one, so pulatasi’s one print for both, so that’s what this is.
[Jethro]
Thank you.
[Afa]
Yeah
[Jethro]
after this show after the your trip to New Zealand, what’s next on the horizon?
[Afa]
When I get back, I have another show in Louisville Kentucky, that same week that I get back, and after that I want to keep on growing my brand and hopefully show in Paris and London. That’s my next step
[Jethro]
Beautiful. I have a scenario for you: I’m a creative person that is too scared to risk it all and start my own brand design, or venture.
What message would you leave me that was pivotal in your own journey?
[Afa]
What are you waiting for?
Just do it, I mean I know it’s always scary to go on your own journey.
That’s from me as a creative as well.
I was afraid, but, like I have said this past few weeks, talking to the designers and the students in my workshop is that no, if it if it makes you feel happy, do it and no one is in charge of your happiness but yourself.
So if being a creative and starting a journey now will make you even more happy than just do it.
[Jethro]
And so to finish, is there anything else that you would like to add?
[Afa]
I mean thank you very much for bringing me here.
I appreciate it and I love it.
I am happy to be able to be sponsored and come here and share my journey and share my vision and yeah.
It’sS always good to be here.
So thank you very much for having me
[Jethro]
You’re more than welcome on behalf of the US consulate.
We are very happy to have you here.
We look forward to your collection tonight.
I wish you all the best and safe travels going home.
[Afa]
Thank you so much

 

Podcast:

Podcast link.

Transcript:

[Mike Cousins]
Hi Mike Cousins here from the US Embassy. The Embassy was proud to support TEDx in Christchurch 2019.
US embassy youth counselor James Fleury caught up with the TEDx speaker from the US, David Clifford, an American edu-agitator, you’ll find out more about what that is in the pod cast coming up.
[James Fleury]
You tell us a little bit about yourself and what is an edu-agitator, if you can correct me on my, my pronunciation that would be great
[David Clifford]
You pronounced that quite well so my name is David Clifford I am an edu-agitator and honestly all that means is somebody who is looking at the status quo of education and always asking “what if?” with one asking that question, having in one’s heart, how can we liberate the magic that exists in all humans. The current system was really designed to manage humanity and I feel an edu-agitator is one who is benevolently critiquing our education system and again asking “what if?” towards liberation of humanity.
[James Fleury]
Can you tell us three tips or lessons learned to any New Zealanders wanting to work in your area of expertise.
[David Clifford]
Three tips, and I’m gonna answer this as a white middle aged man, and it’s coming from years of experience in humility and constantly curious in critiquing my own role in education and in perpetuating oppression within education so I think tip number one as a white man, this is for other white men and who are curious about how to liberate the humanity in others is really developing a deep self awareness of, of who you are and your relationship to power and oppression in education, in particular because that’s my field, to develop that self awareness and to constantly ask, so that’s the next piece, is really be curious about how you can interrupt habits that are interrupting the liberation of women, of people of color and ultimately then all of humanity.
So that’s, that’s developing self awareness as a white person, being really curious about exploring ways that you are, we are as white people, getting in the way of opportunities for non white men. And then lastly, I think is really about practicing creative courage. And creative courage is different than what is popular, which is creative confidence, and creative courage is really, again going back to asking that question of “what if?” and “what now?” and the courage is on-going and it will weather every, any storm that comes, confidence is almost a false state of being, I have been creative my whole life and still don’t feel confident and that’s because I’m always in a state of curiosity and wonder.
[James Fleury]
And through this you’ve done some pretty ambitious and controversial projects. Where and from whom have you received the most resistance?
[David Clifford]
Where, I think of a couple of the things that have been, three things I think have been the most controversial, and that is when I was a shop teacher trying to elevate the arts in making with one’s hands to the same level as academic rigour. That’s one, the other was co founding a school for boys as a feminist act to redesign men, right while boys are still in the adolescent stage, it’s, the second most developmental stage in humans life is adolescence and I think the other thing which I did was hack design thinking, A to be more equity driven and I think the most resistance has, oh my goodness, and they’re all inter twined. The most resistance is really from people who have really benefited from education, so those that were successful in school, and that is again, it transcends race, it transcends gender, although because our system is patriarchal and racist, it does mean that there are more white folk and more men who have benefited from the system. So I believe that those, those are the, those that have really found success, through our education system have been the most resistant and they would never say so.
[James Fleury]
Was it difficult to get students to enroll at the East Bay school for boys and what was the response of the parents and community.
[David Clifford]
Well when we first started we started with seventeen families, and that wasn’t terribly hard, because those families were so desperate for their boys to love learning. Because they saw that the system was starting to callous their boys hearts, and their boys sense of themselves as learners. So they were a radical group of the families right, and it wasn’t terribly difficult there as we grew, and we grew in popularity. Is the hardest part struggling to start the school as a feminist act to redesign future men that’s an all boys school and it’s private and all those things are messing with people’s minds and so they automatically think that if you’re starting a school for boys, that is going to be a place for hard boys, difficult boys, divergent learners, and that was difficult so what we had to really do is really re-frame what the purpose of the school was, and that was to create a learning environment where we were redefining rigor to move away from academic rigor, to redefining it that being joyous is rigorou,s being creative is rigorous, having dialogues around race and gender is rigorous, and really actually more essential to twenty first century than than academics.
[James Fleury]
And how do you think your projects like the the East Bay School for boys would work in multi cultural New Zealand?
[David Clifford]
That’s, I believe, so it gets interesting, I tried to start a high school, and one of the goals there was how can we design a school where it’s safe for black boys to be black boys, and in design, especially in equity centered design, you want to focus on people who are at the margins, because they are generally the ones who are invisible, and who are left behind right? and so when we were starting this high school, in wanting to really focus on, where in a school culture where it’s safe for black boys to be black, because in the United States there’s almost nowhere where it’s safe to be a black man or a black woman, and so if we can go to that extreme, to design a culture, where it was safe for them, then it would benefit all, so in the same thing for we felt with that the the boys school, that if we can design a school for radical users like the middle school boy, it could benefit all. Here, I think you are, and what’s amazing is that you already have systems in place, and you have laws in place where Maori, and the languages, Maori culture is being taught in schools, and there’s a treaty, the treaty that you mentioned, that doesn’t exist in the United States, so you are, in my opinion light years ahead of, of where the states is. And if I can say as I mentioned to, I find it really refreshing that I can be in a room with two white men who have the reverence and humility for the Maori culture and the embracing of it that you, it’s hard to find white men in the United States that, that have that, very rare.
[James Fleury]
And just to wrap it up, which project or piece of work are you most proud of?
[David Clifford]
And the first thing that comes to mind is my marriage, and it’s the, it’s, it makes me weepy just thinking about it, is it’s, it is learning how to be thoughtful in an emotionally intimate and emotionally courageous man to my wife and as, and raising two teenage girls, it’s probably the most courageous, hardest thing I’ve ever done, because the world is telling me that I need to be out there in in being of service to the world, agitating and doing all of these things and I am not trained to to have skills of intimacy, of being fully present, fully in, my fully in my feminine side and fully in my masculine side in the home, so that is the full real answer of the the work that I am most proud of and I’m still deep, deep in that journey, and also because I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without my home, my turangawaewae
[James Fleury]
yeah exactly.

Podcast:

Podcast link.

Transcript:

[Mike Cousins]
Hi, Mike Cousins here from the US Embassy, the Embassy was proud to support TEDx Christchurch in 2019. U.S. Embassy youth counselor James Fleury caught up with TEDx speaker from the US, Doctor Sarah Kessans, a US born New Zealand scientist and biochemist, she has rowed across the Atlantic and was one of the top fifty applicants out of eighteen thousand in the NASA astronaut program.
[James Fleury]
Can just tell us a little bit about yourself and what is your what is your turangawaewae?
[Doctor Sarah Kessans]
So I’m Sarah Kessans, I am a an American born New Zealand scientists, so my turangawaewae, sort of lots of different places but currently I would say Mount Somers, which is one of my favorite mountains here in Canterbury, you just basically get a three hundred sixty degree view of of all the Canterbury plains and the the southern Alps and it’s just really where I feel most comfortable and and just being able to see of all of the South Island is a, is a really cool feeling.
[James Fleury]
So you were one of the top fifty applicants out of eighteen thousand in a NASA astronaut program, how was the experience?
[Doctor Sarah Kessans]
It was one of the most phenomenal experiences of my life, every, I mean the things that NASA does are so phenomenal, and getting to be a part of that for just even a little bit through, through the NASA astronaut selection process was incredible, you know it’s incredibly humbling and, and such an honor just to be able to interact with, you know, with people in the US astronaut corps and the the whole manned space program and the other interviewees who are just phenomenal people, it was really like adult Disney world I think to get to the Johnson Space Center.
[James Fleury]
So you’re developing synthetic biology suit solutions to combat climate change, facilitate space colonization, and advance innovations in medicine and agriculture. Can you explain some of the solutions in these areas?
[Doctor Sarah Kessans]
Yes absolutely, so some of the tools that we’re developing for biology right now are just really, really exciting and really, really powerful and we can do a lot of amazing things with those tools, and so it, the university of Canterbury, in collaboration with Massey University, Callahan Innovation and Victoria University of Wellington, we’ve built a new tool for basically assembling biosynthetic pathways, which gives us the ability to to ensure all sorts of organisms, to, to create better solutions for agriculture and pharmaceuticals, both here in New Zealand and around the world, and so couple the projects that I’m working on right now, I developed to develop both high value compounds for for agriculture and, and pharmacy, but then also we can we can create different different chemicals that can be used to mitigate climate change and to to develop new food for mars.
[James Fleury]
So wheree widespread do you see synthetic biology solutions in ten, twenty thirty, years time?
[Doctor Sarah Kessans]
It’s actually really hard to predict, because things are moving so rapidly, and it’s just, I mean it’s cool to see how far things have evolved in just the last five years, so crispr cast technology, you know we we used to have sort of a basic, you know cast-9 or cast-12 enzymes and even those, those enzymes, those, those proteins are actually developing quite rapidly to be even more precise, and so it’s hard to predict, but what I can predict and ten, twenty, thirty years time, is that they’re going to be able to to do things that we can’t even predict yet, so a lot of the the problems that we have with, you know with with climate change, or food production or, or agriculture will probably be solved using synthetic biology.
[James Fleury]
So you’ve achieved so much already, how will you know when you have been successful.
[Doctor Sarah Kessans]
That’s a interesting question, that’s a tough one, I think a lot of scientists, and I think a lot of people in general have real impostor syndrome and you know we we sort of downplay our own achievements and so I don’t really know when I will say I’ve been successful. I mean once once we got all the problems in the world solved. All right we can take a breath and take a rest, but it’s just, it’s something I’m really passionate about, really, I really enjoy, so I mean, don’t really think about you know the, the sort of milestone successes, I just, I just enjoy what I do and being able to keep doing it is a, is a success in and of itself.
[James Fleury]
Now I think everyone will be interested in the this, but what did you think about when clinging on your capsized rowboat in the middle of the Atlantic for sixteen hours, what keeps you going?
[Doctor Sarah Kessans]
My teammates Emily Cole, by far and away we had been teammates on the rowing team at Purdue University for five years at that point and we trained for the ocean row for two years, and so you know we we were very good teammates as far as you know just just understanding each other and and how to keep each other’s morale up during you know during all the storms that we, we had out there, but then when we were turned upside down in an emergency situation, having each other was definitely the the best thing that kept that kept us going, had either of us been out there alone it would have been a completely different story, but I mean it sounds strange to say now, but you know we just try to keep each other’s morale high and so we were singing songs and telling jokes and trying to keep each other’s morale as high as we could but we’re not very good singers and sixteen hours is a lot of songs, but still having each other was, was definitely what kept us going.
[James Fleury]
And do you think through that experience and like, that determination of getting through the thing, that’s kind of applied to the work you do today?
[Doctor Sarah Kessans]
Absolutely. Rowing is one of the toughest sports mentally and physically, and then ocean rowing puts that to a whole new level, and so you really have to have determination and persistence and then obviously, you know, going out there and, and getting into tropical storms and capsizing and, you know, sort of not knowing if you’re going to survive or not, and then being rescued and given that chance to, to keep going, and to continue pursuing your dreams and continue just life in general puts everything in a new and bright and just beautiful perspective and so definitely has shaped the the rest of my life and given me the great, the great ability to to just keep going yeah.
[James Fleury]
Thank you, is it anything else you would like to add?
[Doctor Sarah Kessans]
Yeah, wicked
Collapse

Podcast:

Podcast link.

Transcript:

[Mike Cousins]
Hi I’m Mike Cousins from the US Embassy. Recently I had the chance to interview MK. Haley, Disney Imagineer. She is the creative program manager at Walt Disney Imagineering. MK was here on a national speaking tour supported by Te Papa’s innovation hub, Mahuki
So tell us a bit about yourself.
[MK Haley]
So I’m a combination designer and educator, specifically in the spaces of immersive design and themed entertainment.
[Mike Cousins]
And Disney Imagineering, that’s come up quite a bit in your talks and it’s what you do as well so can you explain what that is.
[MK Haley]
So the group has been a bit secret for a while, Walter was, Walt Disney was always excited about the end product being the star, not the people who did it which makes recruiting super hard but Imagineering is the group that designs and builds our physical things, so hotels, theme parks, cruise ships, and also doing some immersive retail on some consumer products, experience, that you can interact with.
[Mike Cousins]
And so so you’re doing a tour of New Zealand with, through Mahuki which is the innovation hub at Te Papa, can you tell us a little bit about your tour and what you’re going to talk about to New Zealanders.
[MK Haley]
So I’m talking a lot to museum professionals, folks who do design experiences, but maybe different types of experiences than I do, but the exact same principles apply – do you understand your guests, do you understand their motivation, what makes people happy, what drives people, how do you interweave story through different types of experiences and whether you’re building a museum tour or an exhibit or educational experience or a story or show in a theme park, it’s the exact same design principles.
[Mike Cousins]
And so one thing you mentioned in your talk today was transformative experience, can you tell us what that is, that how someone creates that, that experience and give some examples of that.
[MK Haley]
Yeah so transformative experience is the idea that I experience something that may make the world a slightly better place, habitat for humanity is an example of people who volunteer their time and materials to construct homes for other people, I feel better about the world and made a little bit better because I contributed, I might actually end up feeling better about myself, sometimes I feel better about myself even if the project I worked on didn’t change the world, so transformative has a multi layered sort of approaches. I can tell you when I was younger I worked in hospitals with a lot of quadriplegic patients, senior citizens, I didn’t know at the time how much that would impact my design sensibility as an adult, so that was a transformative experience because it changed my point of view but I didn’t realize it until later. So you can do it consciously, it can be only after the fact you look at it, but humans like meaning, they like to look for meaning, and transformative experience is one way to provide that to yourself and to the community at large.
[Mike Cousins]
Finally what are your top three tips for a budding imagineer?
[MK Haley]
That is an excellent question, there’s a lot of folks who think because they love a products that they want to work in that field, and I like to tell them just because you like taking baths doesn’t mean you can be a plumber. You need to actually understand the skill set necessary to contribute. Are you an engineer, do you understand the principles and foundations, are you a designer, are you properly trained in the tools and the best practices. So it’s a huge bonus if you’re a fan of the product but actually understand what it takes to do the job is a big piece of advice. Make sure to spell check, I know that sounds crazy because usually that’s underlined in red it’s not spelled properly but that’s a massive issue, it’s a real easy way to get yourself dismissed as not terribly professional or credible if you simply don’t spell check and also it’s a project based industry, like film or theatre or television and understanding the nature of our industry before you jump in will allow you to strive for a long career.
[Mike Cousins]
Actually one more question – so where do people go to find out about Disney research and things.
[MK Haley]
So we have a, we have a couple of different public facing websites, the research branch of us is Disneyresearch.com and that’s where a lot of our forward thinking research is published, there’s also a few books that have recently been published on the Imagineering process, “The Imagineering way” is a fun book because it actually has a series of little activities in it that you can do and there’s two or three more books, John Hench has a book called Designing Disney which talks about our design principles for spaces and that’s a really fun book and then we have several coffee table books, just large gorgeous photos of what our processes from restrooms and air conditioning to rock work and parades and seeing the full scope of it I think inspires people who didn’t realize there’s a job to do that.
[Mike Cousins]
Right thank you very much for the interview in a cab on the way to Weta workshop.
[MK Haley]
Yeah thanks for the chauffeur

 

Podcast:

Podcast link.

Transcript:

*beat boxing*
[Dolores Prin]
Hi, welcome to the US Embassy’s podcast series. My name’s Dolores Prin, I’m the country public affairs officer for the US embassy, based here in Wellington.
Thank you for joining us today Butterscotch.
[Butterscotch]
Yeah thank you for having me.
[Dolores Prin]
So today our guest is a famous and super talented beat-boxer from the United States, she’s here visiting New Zealand for the first time. How do you like it.
[Butterscotch]
Yeah I love it however I still haven’t seen enough but Wellington has been great.
[Dolores Prin]
So for our audience out there who may not know exactly what beat-boxing is could you kind of give us a quick definition.
[Butterscotch]
Yeah I mean Beat-boxing is the art of vocal percussion, so making sounds that are either emulating a drum kit or a beat machine and so it’s basically but I mean it was it pretty much started in hip hop but now it’s basically an instrument that you can Beat-box with whatever genre you want so.
[Dolores Prin]
So could you give us an example like of a typical beatbox sound.
[Butterscotch]
I yeah will I mean there’s three basics with beat-boxing, and that’s like your drum, ah, your kick drum, your snare and hi hat so it’s just *beat boxing*
I mean there’s several different types of of snares you could do *beat boxing*
But I mean you can just put it all together. *beat boxing*
Which is like your kind of boom bap hip hop beat.
Or more complex. *beat boxing*
[Dolores Prin]
That’s amazing.
How long did it take you to learn how to do this
[Butterscotch]
I mean if you practice pretty steadily, I mean it took me like with the basics maybe like a couple months and that’s I mean that’s just getting the basics of but then really kind of becoming comfortable with it and you know having the strength to do it on stage and I don’t know I felt pretty confident within like one or two years.
[Dolores Prin]
Is there any beatbox sound or something that you kind of have in your repertoire and that is what you whip out when you need to really impress like for other beat boxers or something something that is like your, your super awesome thing that you can do.
[Butterscotch]
I mean I think the super awesome thing I do is just combining things, because I’ve like I am, I was very, very focused on beat-boxing like ten years ago and not to say I’m not anymore, but that was when I was like okay I’m doing competitions and you know kind of like battle rapper mode and now I’m more so in creative mode and I think writing songs, and being able to sing and putting out albums that’s what gives me longevity versus trying to impress other beat-boxers with different sounds.
*beat-boxing*
[Dolores Prin]
So tell me a little bit about why you are Butterscotch, do you just like the taste of butterscotch?
[Butterscotch]
Yeah I wrote this really stupid ridiculous song back in high school called Butterscotch and it was a punk song and the chorus was, just Butterscotch, Butterscotch, Butterscotch, Butterscotch and then my friends just started calling me Butterscotch and it just stuck, but actually I mean that was like, like fifteen years ago So I’ve actually kind of, I now refer to myself as Scotch, so you know still publicly it’s butter Scotch because that’s how it is on, online and but I’m kind of going through that change because I don’t necessarily identify with butter Scotch since I was like a decision I made, well people, you know, other classmates like fifteen years ago, so and it’s kind of I don’t know.You know scotches aged.
[Dolores Prin]
You know right, gets better with age.
That might be a good sort of segue into you telling the listeners how they can kind of find you, so we know your your stage name is butterscotch, and do you have social media?
Right yeah, Instagram is my favorite social media. Well I think besides youtube but Instagram kind of more day to day basis but on Instagram my handle is butterscotchmusic, also on YouTube it’s butterscotchmusic as well, and Facebook ButterScotch.
Yeah but trust music too.
Twitter Scxtchmusic.
[Dolores Prin]
Earlier today you went to a local intermediate school here in New Zealand and delivered what I felt was a very powerful message to these kids, over six hundred of them that that came to hear you beat-box and speak. And afterwards one of the faculty mentioned that you had really delivered a powerful message about being true to yourself and, and that seems like a a really great thing for kids to hear and for people to hear of any age.
[Butterscotch]
*beatboxing*
What some other advice that you can give to people who are thinking, you know I have this creative talent I would like to to make a career out of it, and you know some some other sort of wisdom you could share.
[Butterscotch]
Right, I mean I would say a whole heartedly believe in yourself, even if no one else does and and also just you know some things are, You might find that you’re, you’re awkward that I don’t know, your quirks are what make you unique. I mean that’s something that I was talking about earlier today is that like I feel like I’m, I’m awkward person but I think I’ve learned to accept that when I’m on stage, sometimes I, I say stuff I don’t even remember after, You get off and like did I really say that? and I think just knowing that it’s ok to be me and with all my imperfections it makes me relax a little bit more because you know when it, when we’re performing and we’re on stage, it’s kind of this, almost like this obligation that you have to be perfect and everything has to be like a hundred percent correct but what I do is I improvise, I love to improvise, so that’s kind of one of my specialties is that if something does go wrong I’m pretty good at just kind of picking it up and going in a different direction or, or just making it what it is and for me, you know I think the biggest things that I fight for are, you know I’m at a mental health advocate, L. G. B. T. advocate, Women, feminist and you know I’m, I’m multiracial, so yeah I mean if you want to check all the boxes than I pretty much have all of them. But it’s just.
[Dolores Prin]
Is that part of what your song accept who I am.
[Butterscotch]
Right. Yeah, I, I wasn’t sure what age I was doing today. So I, I, Normally do that song when I go to schools but today I think was a little bit too young for that song I think, maybe not. But I didn’t want to upset anyone.
[Dolores Prin]
Can people youtube that?
[Butterscotch]
Yeah, yeah you can check it out, Accept who I am tells my journey about. You know I was suicidal when I was younger. And you know still do get depressed and I think there’s just so much stigma around mental health and especially in communities of color and it’s important that we talk about it because I don’t know anyone who’s never been depressed. I know there’s there’s various levels. And it’s harder to come out. Because sometimes it’s a chemical imbalance and people just can’t snap out of it but yeah I mean with my music I want to reach anyone who’s going through a hard time and and know that there is hope and that they’re not alone.
*sample from Accept who I am*
[Dolores Prin]
You have such eclectic taste in music, I want to ask you to pick three artists or pieces of music that you would say to people “you’ve got to hear this. ”
[Butterscotch]
Earth, wind and fire, if we take it back, let’s take it way back, I’m like debating between Chopin and Beethoven, like those are like biggest influences, like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday like that can just count as kind of one era.
[Dolores Prin]
Okay, you’re trying to get around the rules
[Butterscotch]
yeah yes, that isn’t, there is not enough. Because yeah like everybody in Motown, I mean Erica Badu.
[Dolores Prin]
Yeah she’s special, so we’ve got Erica Badu, Chopin or Beethoven, Motown as a genre, and earth wind and fire you got one more
[Butterscotch]
Tupac
[Dolores Prin]
Tupac, all right that’s some good stuff right there, I’m sure our listeners appreciate, that would you like to give us a little beat to take us out.
*beat boxing*

 

Podcast:

Podcast link.

Transcript:

[Mike Cousins]
Hi, welcome to the US Embassy’s podcast series. My name’s Mike Cousins, late last year we interviewed Aaron Rasmussen, the co-founder of Masterclass.com, who was in New Zealand for the creative leadership conference.
So Aaron, gidday, how are you doing?
[Aaron Rasmussen]
Great, thanks for having me
[Mike Cousins]
no worries, so I’m going to start with quite a hard question, it’s really only four words, but tell us about yourself
[Aaron Rasmussen]
that is hard, so my name’s Aaron Rasmussen, I’m a serial entrepreneur. I grew up part in California, part in this sort of forest in Oregon, and I started my career in robotics, and I did consumer packaged goods, just recently I created, co-created the company masterclass.com
[Mike Cousins]
Cool, so yeah master class, you were the co-founder along with
[Aaron Rasmussen]
David Rogier
[Mike Cousins]
ok and how did that come about?
[Aaron Rasmussen]
Yeah, yeah, so um, so we’d known each other for quite some years and we wanted to, to make something, I just thought it would be, so, phenomenal to be able to learn from the best people in the world, it’s really about making something that we wanted to take ourselves, you know, and it was very difficult
[Mike Cousins]
So leading into that difficult part, I assume once you get one A-list, it’s easier to get other A-listers on to masterclass. So, how did you encourage that first a-lister or that first celebrity to say yes, I’ll, I’ll come along
[Aaron Rasmussen]
very good question. So it took us quite a long time, think it was about 7 months and the first one ended up being James Patterson that actually filmed with us, and at the time, David was really working on a lot of the the sales stuff, getting through Hollywood and getting our way to these masters and I think we pitched the instructions, the production company at one point then didn’t really hear anything. A couple of months later, James Patterson himself called David on his cell phone and was just like, “hey, this is James Patterson” and he said surprised and honored, “well I’m a surprising guy, tell me more about this” so we ended up flying out to New York and meeting up with Jim and talked through his process and you know his writing and his desire to really teach and he thought it was great so Bill Gutentag, he’s a two-time Academy Award winner actually films the first course and then once we had film in hand and I could cut a trailer from it became a lot easier because we could show people that this was something that was completely different from any other on-line education that anyone had seen before.
[Mike Cousins]
so you’re here for the Creative Leadership conference. Can you share some insights or finding the best out of someone during an interview, so you called this observations and modes of enquiry. Can you explain what that means and give some examples for each
[Aaron Rasmussen]
Certainly, so the idea was to talk a little bit about the characteristics that you see in masters but from the perspective of a layperson, I’m not a psychologist I’m someone who has to make these observations and apply them directly. So are one of them for example is that some, there is usually a very high level of analysis that somebody who’s masterful has. So they may have learned their craft by watching someone else do it. So for example Shonda Rhimes tore apart The West Wing and figured out exactly how that show was made. And then wrote Grey’s Anatomy. So you can use that characteristic as a line of enquiry. So for example if I were to ask you what your top three favorite movies were, it might be a really hard question. But if I provide you with three movies and ask you what you think of them, you could use your powers of analysis to give me some really good answers about why one is good and one is bad, so one methodology that we used was to provide examples of work and use that finely honed analysis to then help teach how this person sees the world.
[Mike Cousins]
so I myself I like, I like pies. It gives me comfort and a great deal of satisfaction to eat a really good pie. So what gives you comfort and makes you satisfied?
[Aaron Rasmussen]
oh my goodness. I think I spend a lot of my time maybe a little unsatisfied, which is why I sort of keep doing stuff, but I do, there’s something really satisfying about understanding at the fundamental level how someone else does something, about learning a concept and internalising it, and when you feel that kind of click, there is a giddyness, I think, when you really understand a new concept you know, especially when you’re doing something even like mathematics or when you’re looking at the way screenplay is written and Aaron Sorkin said something like everything in intention and obstacle, or you know, a character is defined by the methods they used to overcome an obstacle.You feel that click, you’re like “oh my goodness”. That is, that is the core fundamentals of it. So I don’t know what that would be exactly, in reference to pies, I don’t know if it counts because I’m a little new to the savoury pies of New Zealand but I’ve been enjoying them, but Gordon Ramsay’s beef Wellington has pastry and meat, does that count?. Or does it have to have a ground
[Mike Cousins]
No that’s good ratio between pastry and meat
[Aaron Rasmussen]
Well a beef wellington I find very satisfying
[Mike Cousins]
Great, so just heading back to masterclass, what’s popular at the moment, what sort of classes do you find are the most popular?
[Aaron Rasmussen]
Good question, I mean it’s, it’s hard to divulge exactly what does better or worse etcetera, you can kind of tell by the direction the company goes, I myself stepped away last year but you know, as you can see filmmaking for example, something people are very curious about, we do a lot of testing to find out before we make the classes, what’s going to be fascinating to people, so once you see something out there, and guess that there are a lot of people were very much interested in it, what’s been fastening to me to some extent is seeing what our clones and competitors to masterclass pop-up and see what those people think might be interesting for, for an audience and kind of gauging whether or not those guesses with have been successful.
[Mike Cousins]
Cool, thank you for your time and make sure you go out and try a pie sometime.
[Aaron Rasmussen]
Certainly, thank you
[Mike Cousins]
Thanks