Why you should make useless things | Simone Giertz | Summary and Q&A

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May 9, 2018
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TED
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Why you should make useless things | Simone Giertz

TL;DR

Simone, an inventor of useless machines, shares her journey of building and creating unique solutions to problems, leading her to find joy and humility in engineering.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What inspired Simone to create her googly-eye shirt?

Simone wanted to find a new method to deal with nerves and anxiety when speaking onstage. She wanted to be able to look at the audience as much as they were looking at her, to create a sense of comfort and balance. This inspired her to create a shirt with googly eyes, which took her 14 hours and 227 googly eyes to make.

Q: Besides the googly-eye shirt, what other inventions has Simone created?

Simone has created a range of useless inventions, as she calls them. Some examples include a toothbrush helmet, a machine for cutting hair with drones, a machine to help her wake up in the morning, and even a machine to help her chop vegetables. She has carved out a niche for herself on the internet as an inventor of useless machines.

Q: How did Simone's interest in building robots develop?

Simone's interest in building robots developed as she wanted to teach herself about hardware. She struggled with performance anxiety, and building things with hardware became a way for her to learn and create without the pressure and expectations she often faced. It allowed her to play and be enthusiastic about what she was doing.

Q: What is the true beauty of making useless things according to Simone?

Simone believes that making useless things is a way to acknowledge that we don't always know the best answer or how the world works. It allows us to turn off the voice in our head that thinks we have all the answers. While a toothbrush helmet or other inventions may not provide the perfect solution, at least they prompt us to ask questions and explore different possibilities.

Summary

In this video, Simone talks about her journey as an inventor of useless machines and how building these machines helped her overcome her performance anxiety. She shares examples of her machines, such as the toothbrush helmet and the glass of water machine, and highlights the joy and humility that comes with engineering. Simone believes that making useless things allows for exploration and questioning, encouraging a mindset of curiosity and openness.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Simone come up with the idea of building useless machines?

Simone came up with the idea of building useless machines as a way to overcome her performance anxiety. By removing the pressure to succeed and instead focusing on building things that were destined to fail, she found a sense of freedom and joy in her work.

Q: What is one example of a useless machine that Simone built?

One example is the toothbrush helmet. This machine was created out of Simone's dislike for brushing teeth and her desire to make the task more enjoyable. While it didn't revolutionize dentistry, it completely changed her life and led her to start building more useless machines.

Q: Did Simone study engineering in school?

No, Simone did not study engineering in school. Despite being a super ambitious student with straight A's, she struggled with performance anxiety. However, her interest in building robots and hardware led her to teach herself and explore this field.

Q: How did building stupid things help Simone overcome her performance anxiety?

Building stupid things, or useless machines, allowed Simone to remove the pressure and expectations she had on herself. It provided a safe space for her to learn and explore without the fear of failure or judgment. This shift in mindset unleashed her enthusiasm and helped her overcome her performance anxiety.

Q: What types of problems does Simone solve with her machines?

Simone is interested in solving various problems, both big and small. For example, she creates machines that help with daily tasks like brushing teeth or waking up in the morning. She also sees giving a TED talk as a new set of problems to solve, such as dealing with nerves or shaky hands.

Q: What problem did Simone identify in giving her TED talk?

One problem Simone identified was her shaky hands, which made her conscious and unable to drink water during a talk. To address this, she imagined a machine that could hand her a glass of water, ensuring that her hands wouldn't be seen shaking.

Q: How does Simone approach the process of building useless machines?

Simone starts by identifying a problem that needs solving. She then comes up with a concept and begins building the machine. Each machine is created with a sense of humor and slapstick comedy, bringing joy and humility into the engineering process.

Q: Does Simone plan to build anything useful in the future?

While Simone acknowledges that she may build something useful someday, she believes that she has already built something valuable. By turning her passion into a job and sharing her enthusiasm with others, she has created a fulfilling and unexpected path for herself.

Q: What does Simone think is the true beauty of making useless things?

Simone believes that making useless things is an acknowledgment that we don't always have the best answer. It allows us to turn off the voice in our heads that claims to know it all and encourages us to ask questions and explore possibilities. It's about embracing curiosity and openness in the face of uncertainty.

Q: What is Simone's takeaway from her journey as an inventor?

Simone's takeaway is that the process of creating useless things has brought her immense joy and fulfillment. It has opened doors she never could have planned for and allowed her to embrace enthusiasm and share it with others. The journey itself is valuable, even if the end result is not always groundbreaking.

Takeaways

Simone's journey as an inventor of useless machines teaches us the importance of embracing curiosity and joy in our work. By exploring problems and building creatively, we can overcome obstacles like performance anxiety and discover unforeseen opportunities. The process of making useless things allows for constant questioning and an open mindset, ultimately leading to personal growth and unexpected paths.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker describes how they cope with stage fright by making themselves and their audience more comfortable using humorous and inventive methods.

  • They share their journey of becoming an inventor of useless machines and how it helped them overcome performance anxiety and pressure.

  • The speaker emphasizes the joy, humility, and creativity that comes from building useless things and encourages embracing the process of questioning and exploring different solutions.

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