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a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast

Author: Andreessen Horowitz

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The a16z Podcast discusses tech and culture trends, news, and the future – especially as ‘software eats the world’. It features industry experts, business leaders, and other interesting thinkers and voices from around the world. This podcast is produced by Andreessen Horowitz (aka “a16z”), a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm. Multiple episodes are released every week; visit a16z.com for more details and to sign up for our newsletters and other content as well!
376 Episodes
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In recent years, there’s been a shift in how we think about psychedelics – from drugs of abuse and recreation, to powerful drugs for treating neuropsychiatric conditions such as depression, addiction, and PTSD.  But there’s still a lot we don't know about how they work, and how we can maximize their therapeutic benefits while minimizing their adverse side effects. So this episode of Journal Club discusses a method for striking that balance, from a paper published in Nature last month, “A non-hallucinogenic psychedelic analogue with therapeutic potential“... which could represent a major step forward in psychedelic medicine. This episode first appeared on Bio Eats World:https://a16z.com/2021/01/21/journal-club-safer-psychedelic/
Developers as Creatives

Developers as Creatives

2021-01-1333:191

The rise of developers -- as buyers, as influencers, as a creative class -- is a direct result of "software eating the world", and of key shifts in IT from on-prem to cloud & SaaS to the API economy, where application programming interfaces are essentially building blocks for innovation. Developers therefore not only play an outsized role in high-performing tech companies -- but managing and motivating them is actually critical in ALL companies, since every company is a tech company (whether they know it or not).As every industry turns digital, and a company's interface to their customers IS software, "asking" one's developer is the key to solving business problems and to thriving not just surviving, argues Jeff Lawson, CEO and co-founder of cloud communications platform-as-a-service company Twilio, in his new book, Ask Your Developer: How to Harness the Power of Software Developers and Win in the 21st Century. So in this episode of the a16z Podcast in conversation with Sonal Chokshi and David Ulevitch (who previously argued "the developer's way" is the future of work), Lawson shares hard-earned lessons learned, mindsets, strategies, and tactics -- from "build vs. buy" to "build vs. die", to the art and science of small teams ("mitosis") -- for leaders and companies of all sizes.But what does it mean to truly treat developers as creatives within an organization? What does it mean to be "developer first"? And how does this affect customers, product, go-to-market? All this and more in this episode.
All about section 230 of the Communications Decency Act -- in what Wired senior writer (and host of the Get Wired podcast) described as "one of the clearest-but-still-nuanced explainers I've heard - worth listening to". So what does and doesn't it say? How does this law play out against broader questions and debates around platforms, content moderation, and free speech? This conversation between Mike Masnick (founder and editor in chief of Techdirt) and a16z editor in chief Sonal Chokshi was originally published on our show 16 Minutes, in the context of previous protests and presidential tweets (and an executive order then to prevent “online censorship”)-- but is exactly as relevant today... perhaps now more than ever.https://a16z.com/2020/05/31/16mins-section-230-communications-decency-act-content-moderation-free-speech-internet-past-present-future/image: presidential tweet activity/ Wikimedia Commons
If software’s eating the world -- and more specifically, bringing costs down and increasing productivity through entire industries -- why have some industries, like healthcare, been so resistant? And what could the future look like once technology really gets in? With a16z co-founder -- and author of the now nearly decade-old thesis of “software eating the world” -- Marc Andreessen, in conversation with a16z bio general partner Vijay Pande. This episode originally ran on our show Bio Eats World, but we’re sharing it here in the new year as it’s very relevant for ANYone interested in, well, the future of software eating the world;)  https://a16z.com/2020/12/14/cost-disease-healthcare-baumol/
"In a year that left us speechless, 2020 has been filled with new words unlike any other”... so it's unprecedented that for the first time, the Oxford English Dictionary did NOT name a word of the year. But do we really need the dictionaries to tell us what our words of the year are? Especially if the approaches "Big Word" takes may be based on more lagging vs. leading indicators; after all, language is created and constructed as we go.And yet. People want the dictionary to give them permission of "tell me what the words are", observes internet linguist (and author of the NYT bestselling book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language) Gretchen McCulloch. No! We, the people, decide what the words are!! So in this special holiday, end-of-year episode, a16z Podcast showrunner Sonal Chokshi chats with McCulloch about the words of the year in and beyond Oxford's "Words of an Unprecedented Year" report -- and importantly, the tech shifts and cultural shifts behind them.From remote work portmanteaus to scientific discourse in a pandemic (for better and for worse) to social movements and more -- we take a whirlwind tour through the words of the year, exploring misplaced analogies, shifting metaphors, and even the evolution of interfaces. We dip into the settling of the "Zoomer" generation and "moonshots"; dive into the need for "third places" and parties; debate Dunbar numbers for conversations, and the trend of "proximity chat" -- and discuss the meta story of language, and of writing itself. The English language may have resulted from network effects involving the "loners" who introduce words, and the “leaders” who spread them; but writing is a technology that spreads with the tools, going well beyond medium/message, connecting us across time and place and online spaces. image: Andy Simmons / Flickr
In this special episode of Bio Eats World -- which aired right after the FDA authorized Moderna's mRNA vaccine for emergency use -- Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel tells the story of not just the vaccine’s development, but the machine that made the vaccine: the platform, the technology, and the moves behind the vaccine’s development.How does this new technology that uses mRNA work; why is this such a fundamental shift in the world of drug development; and where will this technology go next? https://a16z.com/2020/12/18/moderna-covid-vaccine-mrna-technology/
This episode features two relevant but previously recorded episodes, discussing the relevance of the Paycheck Protection Program (or PPP) from the Small Business Administration and the role of government stimulus/ pandemic relief for the economy as well as where tech comes in. It combines 2 separate episodes, beginning with one recorded much earlier this year (on our show 16 Minutes), which outlines a useful analogy of "eminent domain" for government-mandated shutdowns of certain businesses and technology considerations; and then is followed by an episode (recorded later this year) on preventing fraud and the role of fintech. Both episodes feature in common a16z general partner in fintech Alex Rampell, who also wrote about how Small Businesses Depend on the Stimulus Package, and The Stimulus Will Depend on Fintech, which you can find at: a16z.com/pandemicstimulus
The intersection of social and finance—as well as shifting attitudes around what we share about money online—have given way to an ambitious new wave of financial products.While revealing one’s financial information was once considered taboo, now people are more apt than ever to openly discuss money online, particularly Gen Z and millennials. That’s evident on both ends of the spectrum, whether people are bemoaning their crushing levels of student debt on Twitter and Instagram or bragging about their latest stock trades on WallStreetBets. The repercussions extend far beyond social media, fueling a wave of new social-fintech products like Public, Commonstock, and Doji, among others.In this conversation between fintech partner Anish Acharya, formerly a product manager at Credit Karma, consumer partner D’Arcy Coolican (who himself is a former founder in this space), and host Lauren Murrow, we discuss why the “holy grail” of social plus finance is both so challenging and, potentially, so rewarding. This episode was originally released last year and has been resurfaced as part of Social Strikes Back, a new series exploring the next generation of social networks and how they’re shaping the future of consumer tech. See more at a16z.com/social-strikes-back.
There's a few ontologies for describing the phases leaders -- and their startups -- go through, whether it's product-sales-etc. or pioneer to settler. In any case, as companies evolve, so must the leaders -- but can the same person transition across all these phases? When and when not; what are the qualities, criteria, and tradeoffs to be made?In this episode of the a16z Podcast, originally recorded as an internal hallway-style chat (pre pandemic!) a16z general partner Martin Casado, who co-founded but decided to remain CTO of Nicira -- and previously shared his own journey, lessons learned, and advice for founders about bringing in an external CEO and the question of "to CTO or not to CTO" -- and Armon Dadgar, co-founder (with Mitchell Hashimoto) and CTO of HashiCorp, chat with Sonal Chokshi about both managing their past psychology through these common questions and decisions. They also share their strategies on managing the specific tactics behind it all: Everything from the "dating" process of finding an external CEO to figuring out swim lanes; handling debates and decisions; who presents, who sells. And while the conversation is a brief glimpse into their longer personal journeys, there's lessons in it for startups and leaders of all kinds on the art of hiring and sales, managing credit and conflict, and more...
What happens if we treat food as a medicine in the healthcare system: How, where, and who (pays)? What role can technology play in increasing access, distribution, and more? General partner Julie Yoo talks with the founder and former medical director of Geisinger Fresh Food Farmacy, Dr. Andrea Feinberg, and with the co-founder of food delivery start up Plated in this "holiday" cross-promo of our show Bio Eats World. 
This episode features Q&As with two artists who are exploring crypto-powered auction sites and marketplaces – this is part of our ongoing series on the creator economy. The big picture is that emerging "tokenization" models, especially non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are creating new ways for collectors and investors to buy, sell, and trade digital art. More broadly, these innovations open the door to the tokenization of any products or collectibles that can be captured and owned digitally.  Marketplaces powered by NFTs open up new revenue streams for creators, because anytime digital work is resold or their tokens traded on these platforms, no matter how many times, the creator gets a percentage of those secondary sales. It's all transparent and governed by code on the blockchain, and it’s a big shift in creator economies. Our first guest is one of the biggest names in crypto art, and one of the most mysterious. Murat Pak is the artist and industrial designer who created the AI-powered image sharing site Archillect. Pak has made it a policy to separate their personal identity from their online work, and prefers to keep their quote-unquote real identity hidden, so we conducted this interview by email and converted Pak’s answers to audio using text-to-speech software. As Pak has expressed in other interviews, it's really the work that matters. And we do know a lot about the work, Pak has sold more than 60 pieces of digital art this year on the auction site SuperRare, for more than $350,000. And that’s just one of the several platforms on which Pak’s work is sold.  In this Q&A, Pak talks with a16z's Zoran Basich about NFTs. These "non-fungible tokens" are unique assets that are not interchangeable. Dollar bills are fungible — each dollar bill is worth exactly the same as every other one. But works of art, for example, or any collectible, can be non-fungible — their value varies based on the market for that particular asset. With crypto, these assets carry digital ownership rights that can be easily exchanged. We start by discussing the whole concept of digital art, and why anyone would pay for something that (seemingly) can be easily copied. Our second interview is with Signe Pierce, a visual, digital, and performance artist whose work has appeared in major galleries in Paris, Los Angeles, and New York. She’s currently featuring her artwork on the creator marketplace Foundation. On that site, in addition to auction-style NFT markets, the price of tokens associated with individual works of art is something like you’d see on a stock market – the pricing is real-time, and dynamic and fluctuates according to demand by buyers, who might be investors, collectors, or fans. Signe discusses why she went from working exclusively with galleries to trying crypto marketplaces, how this move affects her work and her business, and how crypto could change the way she engages with her fans. She also offers advice for creators interested in getting into the world of crypto. She starts off by talking about how social media popularity several years ago opened her eyes to the idea of new monetization models for creators.
A vaccine for COVID seems to be (almost) here… or is it? What’s hype/ what’s real beyond the headlines (and beyond the press release), when it comes to the announcement last week from Pfizer and BioNTech that their vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 -- and relatedly, the most recent news around Moderna's vaccine candidate? Of course, this was just the first interim efficacy analysis — so how close or far are we? What’s the significance of the readout and case numbers? How do we put all this in context of all the other (458!) programs in development? And how much should/ shouldn’t we read into the news, given the buzzy excitement and penchant for evaluating "science via press release"? a16z bio general partners Vineeta Agarwala and Jorge Conde recently broke it all down in conversation with Sonal Chokshi on our show 16 Minutes: the math, the science, and the practical considerations — from “vaccine efficacy” vs. efficiency, from cold chains to distribution, from patients to the system… as well as why mRNA matters in the present future of vaccines.
True cloud-native games—those exclusive to and solely playable within the cloud—are poised to revolutionize gameplay and unlock new avenues of hyper-personalized storytelling and socializing. It's a vision that, though steadily advancing, is still in its early stages. Just one year ago this week, Google launched its cloud gaming service, Stadia, which shares the space with competitors including Microsoft's xCloud, Playstation Now, and Nvidia’s GeForce. In this episode, Jade Raymond, VP of Stadia Games and Entertainment, Jonathan Lai, formerly of Riot Games and Tencent, and host Lauren Murrow talk about the challenges in building cloud-native games, their potential to upend prevailing business models and pricing, and, most importantly, the spontaneous, social, super-shareable experiences that true cloud streaming  will reveal. Through the rise of user-generated content, AI, and the cloud, they believe we're inching ever closer to the Metaverse.This episode is part of Social Strikes Back, a new series exploring the next generation of social networks and how they’re shaping the future of consumer tech. See more at a16z.com/social-strikes-back. 
The Great Data Debate

The Great Data Debate

2020-11-1326:251

Lakes v. warehouses, analytics v. AI/ML, SQL v. everything else... As the technical capabilities of data lakes and data warehouses converge, are the separate tools and teams that run AI/ML and analytics converging as well?In this podcast, originally recorded as part of Fivetran's Modern Data Stack conference, five leaders in data infrastructure debate that question: a16z general partner and pioneer of software defined networking Martin Casado, former CEO of Snowflake Bob Muglia; Michelle Ufford, founder and CEO of Noteable; Tristan Handy, founder of Fishtown Analytics and leader of the open source project dbt; and Fivetran founder George Fraser.The conversation covers the future of data lakes, the new use cases for the modern data stack, data mesh and whether decentralization of teams and tools is the future, and how low we actually need to go with latency. And while the topic of debate is the modern data stack, the themes and differing perspectives strike at the heart of an even bigger: how does technology evolve in complex enterprise environments? 
How to moderate good, productive discussions and navigate tricky conversations is top of mind -- whether doing a panel, conducting a live event, presenting a talk (or hosting a podcast), managing (and even just participating in!) a meeting. Especially in a world where remote and virtual work is increasingly become the norm for many knowledge workers, one in which we're increasingly communicating through little "Hollywood Squares, Brady Bunch"-like boxes.So how to translate physical and nonverbal presence in such virtual environments, or voice-only modes? How to manage unruly discussions? Do parasocial vs. social interactions change things? And beyond these broader contexts, how do the things inside us -- whether agendas, tics, anxiety -- manifest outwardly, and can we better control them?In this episode of the a16z Podcast, Matt Abrahams -- lecturer at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (where he also has a podcast, "Think Fast Talk Smart"); principal and co-founder of Bold Echo (a company that helps people with presentation and communication skills); and author of Speaking Up Without Freaking Out -- shares frameworks and best practices, in conversation with Sonal Chokshi. The discussion offers many concrete tips for moderation and communication for anyone, across all kinds of mediums and modes. image: Paul Hudson / Flickr
"The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they're indistinguishable from it." That quote from computer scientist Mark Weiser is from a 1991 paper where he outlined the vision of ubiquitous computing; in it, he also referenced "seamlessness"... We just can't get away from textile metaphors: we catch airline "shuttles", we "weave" through traffic, we follow comment "threads” -- the metaphors are as ubiquitous and abundant and threaded throughout our lives as the textiles (and computing) all around us.In fact, argues author and columnist Virginia Postrel, the story of textiles IS the story of technology and science (across all kinds of fields, from biology to chemistry); of commerce (as well as management, measurement, machines); but most of all, of civilization (vs. just culture) itself. That's what her new book, The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World is all about. But it's really a story and history of innovation, and of human ingenuity... which is also the theme of the a16z Podcast -- and of this special, inaugural book launch episode with the author in conversation with showrunner Sonal Chokshi.The discussion both dives deep and lightly dips into a wide range of topics: fabrics, from the genetics of cotton to the supply chain of silk (including pre-Industrial Revolution factories, early payment and incentive alignment, "maestre" and notions of expertise); knowledge, from the storage and transmission of it to sharing tacit and explicit code (including manuals, notation, measures); and math as the science of patterns, origins of mathematics (including early education and getting paid for it). The touch on the NASA space program, knitting and AI, and the environmental impact of dyes. Throughout, they discuss the what and the why -- the warp and weft of this episode! -- of HOW innovation happens, from incremental improvements to sudden leaps, also taking a closer look at the demographics and images involved. And finally, they cover the evolution and meaning of kente cloth (as well as other patterns) in Ghana and beyond... Because the story of textiles -- and of technology -- is not just a story of one culture or time or place: it is a universally human story, woven from countless threads and wires.links & other articles mentioned in this episode:YouTube & Instagram from the author, featuring cited images among othersThe Computer for the 21st Century, Mark Weiser, Scientific American, 1991Every topological surface can be knit: a proof, Sarah-Marie Belcastro, Journal of Mathematics and the Arts, 2009How an AI took over the an adult knitting community, Alexis Madrigal, The Atlantic, 2018Portrait of a Man, Portrait of a Woman, Maarten van Heemskerck, Rijks Museum, 1529In Ghana, pandemic inspires new fabrics, Kent Mensah, Christian Science Monitor 2020Welcome to the new world civilization, Virginia Postrel, Reason, 2020images: composite of knitting by © sarah-marie belcastro (courtesy Virginia Postrel) + magnetic core memory wires & beads, magnified 60x (photo from Virginia Postrel) -- combined by Sonal Chokshi for the a16z Podcast
Data, data, data – it’s long been a buzzword in the industry, whether big data, streaming data, data analytics, data science, even AI & machine learning — but data alone is not enough: it takes an entire system of tools and technology to extract value from data. A multibillion dollar industry has emerged around data tools and technologies. And with so much excitement and innovation in the space: how exactly do all these tools fit together? This podcast – a hallway style conversation between Ali Ghodsi, CEO and Founder of Databricks, and a16z general partner Martin Casado – explores the evolution of data architectures, including some quick history, where they’re going, and a surprising use case for streaming data, as well as Ali’s take on how he’d architect the picks and shovels that handle data end-to-end today.
Gen Z—those born between 1995 and 2010—now makes up 35 percent of the population and represent $143 billion dollars in spending power. This episode is all about how brands can better understand, collaborate with, and resonate with this hugely influential segment of consumers. Our guest, Tiffany Zhong, is the 24-year-old CEO of Zebra IQ, a company that helps brands interpret the wants of Gen Z consumers and helps Gen Z creators turn their content into businesses. In its recent Gen Z Trends Report, her company highlights important cultural trends and Gen Z behaviors based on a trove of proprietary research. In this conversation, Tiffany and a16z general partner Connie Chan discuss the key differences between Gen Z and millennials, the growing power of short-form video on platforms like TikTok and YouTube, our changing perception of luxury, and how Gen Z is shifting the paradigm around money, education, and work.The pair breaks down how brands can partner with Gen Z influencers in a way that’s compelling, not cringeworthy, and why when it comes to memes and the art of emoji, you’re probably doing it wrong.
We've already talked a lot about podcasting, both evolution of the industry as well as the form, but where are we going with the future of audio, more broadly? Can we borrow from the present and future of video (e.g., TikTok) to see what's next in audio (more layers, more interactivity)? Can we borrow from the past of audio (i.e., radio) to see what's next for audio experiences (more blending of music, talk, podcasting)? Where do all these mediums converge and where do they diverge -- when it comes to user experience, product design, recommendations, discovery?Gustav Söderström, chief R&D officer (who oversees the product, design, data, and engineering teams) at Spotify -- the world's most popular audio streaming subscription service -- joins this episode of the a16z Podcast for a deep dive on all things audio with a16z general partner Connie Chan and editor in chief Sonal Chokshi. They cover the past, present, and future of audio -- going high level into the big trends and also dipping down into the trenches -- especially given the increased blending of talk/ podcasting, music, more. What are the challenges to designing for different mediums, on both front end and back end (including machine learning and different graphs), when listeners want everything in one place when and where they want it... yet their contexts shift?But the conversation more broadly is really more about what happens when we give creators (of all kinds!) tools -- not just for expression but for fan engagement and monetization too. We also discuss the themes of super apps and full-stack approaches when it comes to innovating on top of a protocol, as well as how innovation happens in practice: How do mediums -- and organizations -- evolve, prioritize, "disrupt themselves"? All this and more in this episode.---The views expressed here are those of the individual AH Capital Management, L.L.C. (“a16z”) personnel quoted and are not the views of a16z or its affiliates. Certain information contained in here has been obtained from third-party sources, including from portfolio companies of funds managed by a16z. While taken from sources believed to be reliable, a16z has not independently verified such information and makes no representations about the enduring accuracy of the information or its appropriateness for a given situation. In addition, this content may include third-party advertisements; a16z has not reviewed such advertisements and does not endorse any advertising content contained therein.This content is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities or digital assets are for illustrative purposes only, and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investors or prospective investors, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by a16z. (An offering to invest in an a16z fund will be made only by the private placement memorandum, subscription agreement, and other relevant documentation of any such fund and should be read in their entirety.) Any investments or portfolio companies mentioned, referred to, or described are not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by a16z, and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results. A list of investments made by funds managed by Andreessen Horowitz (excluding investments for which the issuer has not provided permission for a16z to disclose publicly as well as unannounced investments in publicly traded digital assets) is available at https://a16z.com/investments/.Charts and graphs provided within are for informational purposes solely and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The content speaks only as of the date indicated. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects, and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others. Please see https://a16z.com/disclosures for additional important information.
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Comments (16)

Kevin Schreder

With everything going on in the markets today, I would be interested in understanding how a cryptocurrency, driven by a private entity or open source, could influence the public markets, interest rates, and the dispersion of money. Depending on the economic ups and downs, wouldn't there need to be a governing entity, such as the federal reserve?

Apr 25th
Reply

Al Yaz

a very powerful and thought provoking episode. thank you. Buy American.

Feb 19th
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Sara Jackson

This was a great episode! A lot of fun history to learn about.

Oct 20th
Reply (1)

AJF Nonprofit Podcast

That's why we in America need Yang2020.com.

Jun 16th
Reply

Connie Kwan

very informative. one of the best episodes!

May 30th
Reply

CJ

They really need to check out Castbox, we are working on a lot of the features they talked about, and some of the features are even available in other regions already. There will be lots of new monetization opportunities on Castbox for creators, keep an eye out in the near future!

Apr 7th
Reply

Cliffy B.

Even tho i had to slow down all the SPEED TAlKING this was enjoyable. Peeps be waaayyy Vata

Apr 4th
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Luke H

A lot.of this does not reflect UK market

Mar 23rd
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Pieter Haegeman

Let your guests speak and your audience make connections for themselves. The interviewers incessant hmms and rights are just distracting from the quality of your guests. Please think about the difference between showing your guests youre listening in the moment and letting your listeners still be able to experience the conversation for themselves.

Mar 17th
Reply

CJ

Really wish I could hear more from the CEO of Activision, he has some great stories!

Feb 22nd
Reply

Michael Bergman

Great podcast, please don't interrupt the subject so much next time.

Dec 26th
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Marcin K

this is actually a really interesting talk...

Sep 18th
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Melanie Matsuo

why are there only men in this interview? are there no women that have an opinion on hiring a vp of product???

Jul 13th
Reply (1)

Indrajit Rajtilak

- Idea meritocracy and believability weighted decision making - mission first people second - everything has precedent, understanding differences is important for good decision making - having 15 low correlated investments is great investing strategy - being early and being wrong are the same thing - ego barrier and blindspot - teacher vs peer vs student - Shaper : visualization to actualization - Simultaneous open mindedness and assertiveness - Open mindedness: having opinions but knowing that you might be wrong, and testing it

Apr 27th
Reply
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