On Tuesday, January 19, 2016, the Brimmer and May School held its 11th annual Kenyon Bissell Grogan Humanities Symposium, Innovation and Disruption. Keynote speaker Ben Mezrich P ’28 gave a talk entitled “Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of the MIT Blackjack Team, Russian Oligarchs, and the Harvard Geniuses Who Created Facebook.
With a writing career spanning 20 years, Mr. Mezrich has authored sixteen books including NY Times Bestsellers: Bringing Down the House which was adapted into the Kevin Spacey #1 box office hit movie 21, The Accidental Billionaires, also known as the #1 box office hit movie The Social Network in which Mezrich shares a prestigious Scripter Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and most recently, Once Upon a Time in Russia. Mr. Mezrich’s TV career spans far and wide as well, including a stint on Court TV with a series titled “High Stakes with Ben Mezrich.” He also hosted the “World Series of Blackjack” for GSN and CNBC's series "The Filthy Rich Guide." He has several scripted and non-scripted TV projects in the works, including an adaptation of Ugly Americans to a TV Series.
Mr. Mezrich addressed Middle and Upper School students, teachers, trustees, and parents. He shared the background stories on his book research and entertained the audience with many anecdotes about his adventures during the pre-writing phase. He says, “I love to become a part of the story as much as I can.”
Mr. Mezrich says, “There is no script for being a writer. . . “except writing a lot. He commented, “My parents made a rule that we had to read two books during the week before watching TV.” He wrote nine novels in first year out of college and was rejected a huge amount of times.
In response to the student question, “What makes a good journalist?” Mr. Mezrich replied, “The key is to attempt to tell the good story…there are multiple points of view. You interview as many people as you can. . .Good journalists gets as much information as they can and try to walk an objective line down the middle.”
He was asked by an audience member, “What advice would you give to an inspiring writer? Mr. Mezrich responded, “It’s [writing is] extremely hard. The reality is that there are millions of walls to get over. . .You have to have passion and a love for it. . . If you want to make a living as a writer, you have to write for people. The key is to find a voice that people will want to read.”
Highlights of the Symposium included the many workshops offered to Middle and Upper School students throughout the day that focused on ways in which innovations and inventions that may not seem significant can cause huge shifts in society and industry. Workshop topics included architecture, digital dentistry, environmental biology, full-scale human simulators, innovations in sea and land farming, Internet advertising, journalism, research on allergies and nutrition, software development, and surveillance.
Innovation and Disruption in Clean Water, Energy, and Agricultural Industries
Dr. Matthew Silver has more than 14 years of experience in technology, commercialization, innovation strategy, and engineering design. He has played a key role in building Cambrian’s underlying technology and in guiding the firm to penetrate successfully and scale in commercial markets.
Nutrition Science, Exercise Physiology, and Innovation
Bob is the owner of multiple Get In Shape For Women Body Transformation studios. He obtained a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Bentley University and Suffolk University while working as a project manager at the Entwistle Company.
If You Give a Monkey an iPhone, Will it be able to Take a Good Photograph?
Kathryn Lee received her Bachelors Degree in Visual Arts from Bowdoin College, with a concentration in Photography. While advancing her skills as an analog photographer over the last 15+ years, Kathryn has spent a significant part of her career working in a darkroom.
The Revolution in Software Innovation and How Simulation has Transformed
Health Care Education
Ulrik Christensen P ’18 P ’23
Dr. Christensen is a repeat-entrepreneur and currently the executive chair and founding partner of Area9 Group that, counts over a dozen companies that have their primary activities in educational software development, software product innovation, real estate and financial investments. Since founding his first company in 1997, he has devoted his professional life to advancing an improved, highly individualized way of learning, and has been driving the development of Area9’s and McGraw-Hill Education’s adaptive learning platforms.
Found a Million Dollar Company Today: Using a Minimum Viable Product to Accelerate
After working as a Biochemist at Pfizer and as a consultant at McKinsey, Clarence Friedman founded Antera Therapeutics in 2014 and is the CEO. The company’s goal is to reduce peanut allergies in the U.S. via an infant therapy approach.
Effective Solutions to Complex Problems in Architecture
With more than 25 years of experience in architectural design, Brooke brings leadership capabilities to each phase of a project, offering direct involvement with all aspects of programming, design, management, and execution.
Dr. Dano is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor and a Group Practice Leader at BUGSDM and is the Alpha Omega Faculty advisor for the BU student chapter. Dr. Dano enjoys teaching and sharing his clinical knowledge and expertise to help with the implementation of the all Digital Dentistry model at the school.
Innovations in Sea and Land Farming
CJ Husk worked for Island Creek Oysters for 12 years, where he had a hand in every part of the oyster process from breeding to eating. Island Creek Oysters is an aquaculture company based in Duxbury, MA, on the south shore of Boston and owners of two restaurants; Island Creek Oyster Bar and Row 34.
Disruption of Advertising - High Bandwidth and Big Data
Bill Guild is a product and marketing executive with experience delivering marketing products and marketing those products. After leading Product Management and then Marketing at ChoiceStream, Bill is currently managing the international expansion.
Innovation and Disruption in Ancient Social Networks: An Archaeological Case Study from Thailand
Matt Gallon teaches 6th and 8th grade science at Brimmer. He earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Michigan in 2013, specializing in the archaeology of Asia. Matt has conducted archaeological eld research in several Asian countries, including India, China, Mongolia, and Thailand.
Journalism in Digital Age
David Cutler ’02 and Sam Ravina ’17
David Cutler ’02 attended Brandeis University where he majored in History and earned an MA in the eld. He taught United States History, Government, and Journalism at Palmer Trinity School for six years before returning to work at his alma mater, where he serves as adviser to The Gator, the School's online student newspaper. He also writes a monthly column for Edutopia, among the most respected education sites, and he reports on education for The Atlantic and the National Association of Independent Schools.
Sam Ravina ’17 is Editor-in-Chief Brimmer's award-winning student newspaper, The Gator. He writes a series of articles, “Newsmakers,” on the views of leaders in politics, public policy, and academics; the series aims to inform and connect the Brimmer community to the events that shape Massachusetts, the United States, and the world.