Today’s guest is Dr. David Bray, and hearing his life story is like hearing the movie “War Games” brought to life. At the age of 15 he began working on computer simulations for the US Military. By the year 2000 he was working as the IT Chief for the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response program for the US Centers for Disease Control, and in 2001 he lead the response to the horrible anthrax attacks that followed 9/11 as well as the SARS outbreaks in 2003 and other public health emergencies.

David has seen much of the world, from working at a newspaper in South Africa, to charting hydrothermal vents off the coast of Mexico, and “thinking differently” about military and humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan.  While David is a realist when it comes to the problems of the world (and he has seen many of the darkest problems in the world), he nevertheless has an optimism and can-do attitude that is refreshing.

“Humans have all sorts of challenges. And it’s precisely because at the end of the day if I’m fortunate enough to live until I’m 85 or 90 I want to say that we went through some very turbulent times as a species, and as societies. But I did my best to try and make sure whatever outcome occurred it was the most uplifting wherever possible to as many people as possible.”

Raised by a Methodist minister father and a school teacher mother, David learned from a young age that his talents were best used to help those around him.

“[H]appiness does not come from self-fulfillment. It comes from helping others and doing things for others.”

Now a leader at the People-Centered Internet coalition, David is determined to help others solve as many problems as he can.

“All of us can do something small. And, and as you said, what are some small things people can do? Start talking about these issues and talk about these issues with a bent towards being a creative problem solver. So don’t admire the issue, but put forward possible suggestions.”

Join us as we discuss his unusual “high school job”; the impact of cognitive easing; and what is more important than the desire to always be right. Listen in the player below, or download the episode on Apple Podcasts. As always, please let us know what you think!

Takeaways from this episode:

  • It is important to have empathy. Imagine what someone else is feeling or experiencing outside of your perspective.
  • Grit is a learned trait, it is not innate.
  • Ushers help others find a seat, but are not concerned with sitting down themselves. Those who are helping to “usher in” the future are intentional about shaping it and helping others find a place.
  • Despite being empowering, technology is also causing us to be lonely. Studies show Milennials report higher incidences of feeling lonely compared to previous generations. How do we empower communities?
  • Cognitive easing: If you repeat something enough, people begin to believe it’s true regardless of facts. We see this used in advertising and rhetoric.
  • We are all subject to confirmation bias; this is not always a problem, but we need to be conscious of it.
  • Every era needs to make a conscious choice to recommit to freedom, which involves responsibility and tolerance.
  • Instead of wanting to always be right, we need to pivot to wanting to be both understood and to understand others. It’s not us vs. them; it’s all of us trying to reach greater understanding.
  • Push for strength: “We have so many differences and, and it’s a beauty of differences. However, if we resort back to our more basic tribal natures and we don’t take the time to understand those differences we will miss out on something that that makes us all human in my opinion.”

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