Ashley Nichols, How to Use Technology to Create a Better World – InnovaBuzz #434

Ashley Nichols

Ashley Nichols, Tech to Save the World

In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, Ashley Nichols, author of Tech to Save the World. Ashley brings more than 10 years of experience working with executives from the White House to Wall Street and beyond. In her consulting tenure, she has served a number of internationally-facing USG and multilateral clients including the World Bank, the Department of State, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

In her book Tech to Save the World, Ashley explores the idea that everyday people with a passion can use technology to build a better world. The book is a toolkit and a step-by-step guide, to be used as a resource for people who want to make a difference but don’t know where to start.

In our discussion, Ashley talked to me about:

  • Her principles of Idealistic Innovation
  • The importance of enlisting support and collaboration for implementing ideas
  • That there is no such thing as a tech person, or why we can all combine our specialist skills with tech

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

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Technology is complicated, but even if you don't understand how it works, it doesn't mean that you can't use it in a way that benefits you and the world around you. @ANicholsWrites on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Show Notes from this episode with Ashley Nichols, author of Tech to Save the World

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • Tech to Save the World is a conversational guide to helping everyday people use technology to change the world.
  • You can use technology to make a difference.
  • Technology is complicated, but even if you don’t understand how it works, you can still use it in a way that benefits you and the world around you.
  • You write a book either because you are an expert in something and you want to share your expertise or you want to learn about something and share what you’ve learned with others.
  • Humans tend to be afraid of things that we are reliant upon when we don’t understand how it works. 
  • You either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset that influences the way you view yourself and the way you interact with the world.
  • When you have a fixed mindset, you believe that you can’t change anything because you are who you are. On the other hand, having a growth mindset is believing that there is always an opportunity to improve regardless of who you are, and if you fail at one thing today, it doesn’t mean that you will fail at it tomorrow.
  • Having a growth mindset is something that has to be practiced and cultivated. You have to get used to trying and failing, and viewing it not as a failure of self but as a failure of the attempt at that time, and iterating on that attempt.
  • Principles of Idealistic Innovation:
    • Collaboration with others from different fields with different experiences
    • Iteration
    • Having a growth mindset
    • Not being afraid to fail
    • Applying your purpose and passion
  • Successful people are people who have a deeper drive than wanting to sell their idea or startup. They are people who are trying to solve a problem that they really care about.
  • Focus on the problem that you are trying to solve. Avoid getting too caught up in the tech itself to the point that you lose sight of the broader challenge you are solving for. 
  • Ai for Coral Reefs (Project CORail) is an Ai-powered system for monitoring marine life and analyzing coral reef resilience using smart cameras installed underwater.
  • Fabien Cousteau is an aquanaut, oceanographic explorer, and environmental advocate whose mission is to build a network of underwater space stations. His project PROTEUS is an animatronic dolphin robot that uses AI to mimic realistic behavior and connects people to wildlife without the need for captivity.
  • Nothing is impossible. You can turn your passion into action and advocacy when you have a clear vision and can clearly articulate its value and how it can change the world.
  • There is no such thing as a tech person. No one person can really create technology. It takes different people with very niched skills to make something. 
  • No matter how good you are at tech, you can’t use tech to solve a problem without your perspectives, insights, and expertise about the problem.
  • You can tie your perspectives and ideas with technology that already exists to make things better and create an impact.
  • There is no such thing as a tech person because technology is so niched and has so many tiny skills in it. More importantly, technology doesn’t mean anything without the people behind it with great ideas of how to use it.
  • Try and fail. You will learn from that failure and maybe someone else will learn from that failure too and do something with it.
There is no such thing as a tech person. No one person can really create technology. It takes different people with very niched skills to make something. @ANicholsWrites on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Ashley’s answers to the questions of our innovation round. Listen to the conversation to get the full scoop.

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Fail. Make room for failure. 
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Create a space for you and your team to fail. Research and share other people’s stories.
  3. Favourite tool for innovationMURAL digital workspace.
  4. Keep project/client on track – Keep in mind the reason why you’re doing it. Stay focused on the problem you are solving.
  5. Differentiate – Know your own strengths and your own story. Everybody has a different set of backgrounds and experiences but nobody has your unique mix. 

To Be a Leader

If you feel like you want to make a difference, go read a book, do a Google search, or dive into a small research to learn about a new tech that you think may somehow help the thing that you are working on. Believe that you are that kind person who can use tech to save the world. Go out there and do the small thing, because it takes billions of doing the small things to actually make a difference. 

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Ashley through her website and on LinkedIn.

Suggested Guest

Ashley suggested we have a conversation with Tyler Skluzacek of myBivy and Dr Laura Stachel of We Care Solar. So Tyler and Laura, keep an eye on your inboxes for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Ashley Nichols.


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Cool Things About Ashley

  • She enjoys reading, traveling, playing Dungeons and Dragons, scuba diving, and being out and about.
  • She’s a night owl. She gets most of her writing done in the dark of night
  • She’s a Senior Manager at Accenture.
Technology doesn't mean anything without the people behind it with great ideas of how to use it. @ANicholsWrites on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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