As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Bryan Jimenez, founder of Archimedes Strategic Branding. Bryan is the unschooled yet educated founder, brand strategist, creative director and iconoclast at Archimedes Strategic Branding, a branding & consulting firm focused mainly on helping science & technology organizations innovate and spark A-HA moments. Raised in a broken home in Pomona CA, in the the heart of one of the US’s most dangerous gangs, Bryan’ early struggles ultimately led him to his first position in Ontario CA where he could utilize his creative vision and solutions. In 2006 he launched a joint-venture with his employer and co-founded a publishing company. In 2010 Bryan discovered MOOCs and started to utilize them in order to compensate for his lack of higher formal schooling and bolstered his knowledge via both autodidact and independent college coursework, mainly via Coursera’s online platform, which collaborates with many of the world’s top universities. In 2015, after learning of his difficult personal journey and his determination to overcome adversity, Bryan was invited by Coursera to their exclusive Coursera Partners Conference in Newport Beach CA. The added education Bryan received helped lead him to collaborate on innovative, strategic and creative projects with brands such as Harley-Davidson, Pepsi, US Department of Energy, TEDx and Wacom, among others. In October 2017, Bryan participated in breaking the Electric Vehicle World Hypermiling Record in order to help demonstrate the power of collaborative ingenuity even without massive corporate funding. In late 2018, Bryan began focusing his vision on helping primarily Science, Technology, and also LATAM organizations in order to help revolutionize not only their branding, but also their fundamental capacity for fostering creativity and for sparking breakthrough innovations.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I wasn’t always interested in effective decision-making, creativity and innovation. I spent quite some time aimlessly wandering before I found answers, my career and my passion. My varied life experiences, despite my relative youth, have contributed valuable perspective and have greatly shaped my path. The first half of my life was rather chaotic. Just a taste: I grew up verbally, emotionally and physically abused, I’ve been shot at, i’ve been in a half dozen car crashes including one that flipped the car over 5 times and burst it into flames, also a violent crash caused by a high-speed police pursuit, plus i’ve been in a hostage situation, and i’ve been in a point-blank police shootout, etc.
Without a father-figure for most of my life I felt I had no direction or help. The public school system confounded me so I did rather poorly there. An incident there sparked my journey in questioning both the legitimacy of authority and of the status quo. I couldn’t go to college since I had to work full-time to provide for my mother and 3 young brothers (plus I didn’t have the grades to go), so I took the only path I felt I could take, crime. Just kidding, it was autodidact (self-teaching) not crime. In the second half of my life I felt I was transformed as I focused more on the arts, self-expression and self-discovery, not just personal self-discovery, but also as part of humankind. Participating in artistic endeavors helped me to find solace, find a voice and discover the power of creativity.
In my search to make sense of the world’s idiosyncrasies I began to wonder if the combined power of my newfound perspective, curiosity and creativity would collectively amount to better solutions and better decision-making, essentially the whole being greater than its parts. I began to apply it and in stark contrast to my earlier life I began to see the positive fruits of my newly discovered process, resulting in my having been been called on three times to help persons from committing suicide, and with God’s help all three times played a role in saving their lives, I founded a rock band and wrote original music, I sparked a salsa-dancing champion, I married and started a happy family, I helped start successful startups, I sparked a new restaurant category, I sparked the career of impactful influencers, I helped break a science & technology World Record (still current), and I now host a podcast on how to spark innovative breakthroughs called The Archimedes Effect.
Both strategically and intuitively, as both a left-brain strategic thinker and a right-brain creative, I discovered the high value of objectively questioning the status quo as to it’s contemporary usefulness and of testing it’s assumed limitations. This created in me the desire to solidify my learning as a creative strategist and to focus heavily on facilitating strategy, creativity and innovation in order to spark new solutions, new processes, potential new applications and, if possible, even new paradigms. Today my firm, Archimedes Strategic, similarly helps forward-thinking organizations, brands and teams overcome mental & strategic barriers by helping them identify and solving key challenges, utilizing creativity in its many forms along with objectivity, problem reframing, design-thinking and innovative methodology.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
That would involve my journey in autodidact and lifelong learning, since they have allowed me to see the world from a wonderfully different perspective. At one time I didn’t have the resources or connections to access the great learning of the world, so I had to find my own way of accessing, qualifying, connecting, and making use of information. Informational globalization was a huge help in information access, but what about informational interpretation? With data, there’s little value in collecting huge repositories of information to aid in decision making if they’re being interpreted incorrectly and leading to bad decision-making. I knew I had to learn to evaluate, qualify, and utilize information for better decision-making. I didn’t want to be like the old proverb says: “The naive person believes every word, but the shrewd one ponders each step.” — Proverbs 14:15, NWT. So I didn’t simply allow pre-packaged institutionalized viewpoints to be handed to me, I holistically scrutinized the combined the facets of matters, factually and contextually in order to determine things like viability, strategic implications, appropriateness, fit & applicability, impact, limitations and possibilities & forecasting.
The huge potential I saw in non-conformist exploration, interpretation, problem solving, iteration and innovation began to impassion me! Combined with problem-reframing and with a strong sense of curiosity and creativity, also as a burgeoning artist & designer, I had inadvertently stumbled upon parts of the formula for sparking unconventional solutions now known as “Design-Thinking” despite not having gone formally to college. My journey thus far has helped me to see the importance of learning how to learn. Many people are good students, but they may be completely lost without a guide. Self-teaching is becoming critically important today and will be more valuable in times to come. Think, the previous human revolutions (economic, industrial and ideological) have diminished immensely in length, from hundreds of thousands of years of stasis to only lasting a few short years! Seeing that times are indeed rapidly changing, how will we keep up with such dynamic change? I think we should all become more acquainted with a design-thinking-like process to help us solve wicked problems, uncover unknown-unknowns, turn unknown-unknowns in to known-unknowns, learn and adapt quickly, test ideas, and test paradigms & processes for anachronisms that could prevent advancement and hinder good decision-making.
In order to fill in the gaps in my knowledge I’ve since taken many new courses ranging from Marketing (The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania) to Design Thinking for Business Innovation(The Darden School of Business, University of Virginia) to Nanotechnology(Technion, Israel Institute of Technology) to Constitutional Law (Yale University) via Coursera. These have complimented my autodidact and added more arrows in my quiver.
Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?
It involves what I call Cogitative AI. I’m very interested in the developments of Artificial Intelligence. Currently we see plenty of examples of great Narrow AI that does its one task really well, but many computer scientists will admit that the Holy Grail is achieving General AI. One of the reasons I am captivated by Cogitative AI is its potential for catalyzing monumental change. I think Cogitative AI will change the way we work, the way we run our organizations, and even the way we make decisions in our day-to-day tasks, both personally and professionally.
How do you think this will change the world?
I think Cogitative AI will not just improve current processes, I think it will dramatically change the relationship between mankind and technology, sparking breakthroughs that will turn human-directed “passive technologies” into new human-independent “proactive technologies”, taking human-machine relations to the next level. I think Cogitative AI will such a “proactive technology”, non human-directed, and will actually participate in the decision-making process with us like we’ve never seen before. We’ve already seen technologies, like the internet, catalyze big changes in how we interact with the world. They have augmented us as humans. Technology has augmented our access to unprecedented knowledge. Advances in computer microminiaturization have allowed regular folk like you and I to easily carry powerful computational engines in our pockets, and industrial and enterprise operations can harness the power of Supercomputers, and now Quantum Computation, to further enhance their computational power. This is allowing machines to do much more for us, and we’re starting to see them even do more for us than we can do without them.
One example we have today is Generative AI, which is essentially an AI system fully utilizing available computational power to iterate in order to find the one optimum solution to a problem, with only limited human input. One key benefit is that this form of AI is essentially free of human psychological preconceptions, allowing it to freely explore a full gamut of solutions unencumbered. Another benefit is that it can automated or semi-automated. We are also now starting to see Intuitive AI and it’s making technologies pro-active in the sense that they can intuitively “learn” and predict our needs based on historical information. Both these forms of AI can be quasi-independent, so as to operate with minimal human decision-making. Now by combining the hyper-iterative Generative AI with the hyper-proactive Intuitive AI, this allows the strengths of both to give life to something new, Cogitative AI.
This creates a historically unprecedented collaboration between man and technology. In essence the technology is telling man what to do. For the first time in history, humans are facing the prospect of sharing their spot at the top of the hierarchy. Humans will not be typing in commands as we do today. We will talk with Cogitative AI about our fundamental problem and then Cogitative AI will lead the decision-making process and dictate to us the innovative solution at light speed, perhaps even a solution that would we would not have discovered on our own for a very long time. What we’re talking about is man and tool consulting each other on an equal plane.
I really think that Cogitative AI will be exponentially larger than anticipated and that it shouldn’t be underestimated. I think we’re entering a world in which Cogitative AI will act as an equal partner at the forefront of not just engineering and manufacturing, but also design, advertising, medicine, energy, environmental efforts and possibly even day-to-day living. Each of humanity’s technological revolutions changed the world in way that made elements of it so different that they became unrecognizable. It makes me chuckle to think about how the ‘iPhone generation’, Generation Z, doesn’t even know what a rotary phone is!
I think Cogitative AI will work with humans more as a partner than as a tool, unlike current “smart” artificial systems. Today, when we make tools, we’re careful to install physical safety features that we can control so that they only work in our best interest. In contrast, between partners we would take a different approach, we would make an agreeable contract with enforceable terms. Such a contract and such enforceable terms applicable to artificial independent-agents do not currently exist and would thus need to be developed in order to establish clear boundaries for mutually beneficial collaboration. I imagine certain domains would need to be left to human-only collaborations, and I’m sure you can use your imagination to think of a few security-related situations that might fit here. I don’t think this will necessarily be a proverbial Pandora’s Box, but I do think that some of the cautions directed toward true General AI should be considered to avoid creating HAL 9000. Personally, I think we have a bit of distance from such a “Matrix” scenario spawning from a true General AI, and surely not from Cogitative AI.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?
I’m currently collaborating with a US-based company working on solutions optimization using automation, AI and machine learning, among other things. Just to clarify, I’m not a computer scientist, but I think the “tipping point” was when I started contemplating more deeply about the big picture trajectory of the human story. People have always been developing and utilizing new technologies to facilitate their tasks and processes, mainly in the form of new tools. Think of the Hunter-Gatherer Age of the middle to upper Paleolithic period; then the Agricultural Age, previously called the Neolithic Revolution; then the Mechanized & Scientific Revolution of 16th to 19th century AD, followed by the Information & Technological Age from the mid 20th century into the early 21st century AD. We’ve personally witnessed a global shift from industrial-focus to information-focus that has lasted only a few short decades. Each era experienced monumental advances in science, technology, learning, and collaboration. All the previous revolutions spawned new passive technologies, ones that had to be specifically directed by intelligent agents, in order to solve a problem. I see current developments pointing towards a quantum leap in proactive technologies, with Cogitative AI being unlike anything humanity has witnessed before.
What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?
Visionary and forward-thinking collaborators. This could obviously include VC in order to help develop more industry-specific Cogitative AI solutions and applications. The first barriers that need to be overcome are always mental barriers, which is why funding is not enough. Our partners must be visionary. As touched on previously, there would likely need to be a regulatory cross-disciplinary ensemble in order to help hash out the details of human dealings with human-independent AI’s, and even human-independent AI’s with human-independent AI’s, procedurally and legally. There will likely also need to be some PR to help calm people’s nerves about the safety and security around such a never-before-seen human-machine collaborations.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Pay attention to maths.
I always hated maths. In school this was the time I most utilized to draw. I thought: “All this complicated stuff was just a waste of my time. When am I ever going to use things like Geometry and Quadratic Equations in life?!” Then in my senior year in high school I started to develop a love for Astronomy, and I discovered that to pursue that field I needed to know complex maths, …and have really good grades …from a good university, …and lots of money. So much for getting into CalTech! Then I became interesting in using my natural artistic ability to pursue learning graphic design. Little did I know i would need to utilize things like fibonacci sequences, mathematical golden ratio, divine proportions, and spatial geometry! Talking with engineers and computer scientists, maths and logic is common. I’ll just stick to what I’m good at for now: Vision, design-thinking, qualitative objectivity and creative innovation.
2. Build lasting relationships.
I grew up an abused youth with no real direction, no proper fatherly guidance, no connections, and what seemed like no life support, hence I developed quite a low view of people in general and especially of authority figures and wasn’t too interested in building relationships, personally or professionally. I was a hard worker, but I was rough-around-the-edges. I simply did not know how to build good relationships, I never learned such basic things in my chaotic home. One result was that I frequently jumped from job to job for years, not knowing what in the world I should be doing with my life. I was a butcher, then a bag boy, then an office assistant, then a construction laborer, then a cashier, then a bank teller, then did pest control, etc, etc. At that time I never talked to those people again, never called to see how they were doing, never thought about having positive professional references. I would have been much happier then, and would now have a much stronger network, had I taken a keener interest in nurturing long-term relationships.
3. Don’t skip the fundamentals.
From playing guitar to art fundamentals I always learned intuitively using whatever resource I had available, jumping in to get my hands dirty and figuring things out along the way. There were some advantages to this approach, but many of the things I learned could have progressed at a much faster pace had I taken the time to learn the fundamentals first. Case in point, in my early twenties when I wanted to become a graphic designer and had to find ways to learn, since I had no money and no connections. Had I known about them, and their grave importance, I would have taken the time, even if by autodidact, to learn sooner about art fundamentals like color theory, spatial relationships, composition, grid systems, typography, painting, anatomy, etc.
4. Time, not money, is our most valuable asset.
I’ve had the privilege of making friends with some elderly ones, octogenarians and above. They brim with excitement when a listening ear is present so they can share the things they accomplished in life. Conversely, at times equally palpable is the feeling of crushing regret. I’ve heard one common regret consistently, not having had enough time to do what really mattered. Many of them amassed lots of toys, money and valuables but none were comforted by those things as they approached their demise. Many of them have passed away now, but before they passed, as they stared death in the face, none wished that they had amassed more money, none wished they had more time at the office, none wished they had invested in more high performing investments. They all wished they had more time. More time to invest where it really mattered, time with those they loved. As of this conversation I’m not yet forty years old, but I constantly think about the exceeding value of time and I attempt to use it wisely. This is a lesson I wish would have learned much earlier. Some spend all their time trying to buy worldly riches, but now I spend my worldly riches trying to buy back my precious time.
5. Focus on helping people.
As I was studying about the development of economic drivers throughout human civilization I was surprised to learn that one of the greatest drivers of early economic change was the agricultural economics derived from exceeding a lands crop and livestock production beyond what could be personally consumed by those farming it. On the surface it seems like a little thing, but this in essence was the birth of “luxury”. If you produced more than you could consume, then you could sell the excess and gain a surplus, doesn’t hurt to have a bit extra, right? It seems like that would be a good development, but human imperfection quickly turned surplus into excess, labor into exploitation, ‘your land’ into ‘my land’, and free men into slaves. Many corporate giants today are looked upon with awe and respect, but many times the underlying hidden reality is corruption, exploitation, and inequality. Many in the world are starving while few in the world dine on ‘Almas’ Iranian Beluga caviar. When this reality came to my attention I became determined to be a part of the solution to the problem. Of course, I work with businesses and businesses need to make a profit, it’s understandable. In my humble opinion there is more to good business than good profits, much more. I don’t work with organizations that don’t care for people or that look to exploit others. If we all helped each other, we would not need to exploit each other. If we focused on showing love for our neighbors instead of love for ourselves, we could accomplish greater things. I wish someone had told me this when I started. In the grand scheme of things what really matters is people.
6. Live a life of purpose.
There may be nothing that has eluded mankind more, nor has elicited such intense attempts for discovery, than the search for purpose. Some feel that life can have no real purpose, simply ‘let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.’” — 1 Corinthians 15: 32, NWT. Perhaps they are correct, or perhaps they are simply stuck near the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs and lack the vision to see any higher. In my opinion, the search for purpose is paramount. I think that only by the pursuit and fulfillment of purpose can we find lasting happiness, lasting peace and lasting reserves of energy with which to overcome obstacles. We’re often bombarded by corporations and advertisers, telling us that we need to have more money so we can purchase their products in order for us to have whiter teeth, the newest clothing style, more respect, more power and higher status. They imply that these things will make us happy, but in truth this is not the case. The world is a very distracting place, even disorienting in many ways. We must fight to not let it change our orientation of what really matters in life. Many rightly invest in looking for True North, and I have found my True North. I wish someone had told me it was possible when I started. I think purpose is the one of the most important matters a human being can endeavor to discover, and I think living a life of purpose is the most superlative way to live.
The future of work is a common theme. What can one do to “future proof” their career?
My advice is to start thinking about commoditization, and start stepping away from careers that might soon be commoditized. I think even the current trajectories of commoditization could change as AI systems find rapid, perhaps even non-linear, methods of commoditizing work that used to exclusively require human skills. One example often cited is that of truck drivers, within 5 to 10 years they could be mostly replaced by autonomous systems. This goes also for persons working in web security that might be replaced with decentralized blockchain technology. This could apply to engineers who might be competing with Generative AI on complex structural designs. We are seeing the development of AI technology with the computational power to rapidly go through entire solution spaces. This tells me that AI may find new ways to commoditize work in ways we may not have fathomed yet. I think creativity and creative problem-solving may be more difficult for even advanced AI systems, things like finding ‘root causes’ or understanding and dealing with deep psychological issues, and irrationality. Even in the case of Cogitative AI, humans will still need to identify the right problem that needs to be solved from within the entire gamut of other problems in the space. I think becoming more adept at creatively identifying and solving complex problems will be a way to future proof one’s career, at least until General AI and Skynet. XD
Based on the future trends in your industry, if you had a million dollars, what would you invest in?
I think I would invest in the next generation of automotive Cogitative AI & IoT systems so that motor vehicles could all “speak” to each other and “self-arrange” in order to start seeing the end of motor vehicle accidents. I would also try to solve traffic by investing in the first real flying car startup.
Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?
I have discovered many great principles that have guided both my life and career. The journal Counseling and Values said humanity’s survival “may depend on the acceptance of a global ethic, […] Perhaps the most agreed-upon universal moral value is the Golden Rule.” The Golden Rule is a quote taken from Jesus when he said: “Do for others what you want them to do for you.” — Matthew 7:12, GNT. I subscribe to this and other elevated moral principles, for example: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” — Mark 12:31, NWT. “The love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things.” — 1 Timothy 6:10, NWT. “Return evil for evil to no one.” — Romans 12:17, NWT. I have found that the basic principles found in the Bible, given to us by Jehovah God, have the best results and are of superlative value.
Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?
I think the following are great Success Habits:
Prioritize. Arrive early, leave late. Go the extra mile. Pay your dues (keep your word). Show honor. Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. Praise first, then counsel. Praise others often. Eat healthy. Never stop learning. Fill your mind with positive things. Eliminate the negative. Do the hardest task first. Ask for feedback.
I think these are great for having a Success Mindset:
Be honest. Be positive. Happiness is a choice. Don’t fear failure, fear inaction. If you fail, get up and try again. Learn from failure. Measure twice, cut once. Be curious. Take risks, risk equals reward. Work smarter not harder. Question the status quo. Break the rules. Be humble. Be teachable. Live simple. Be a visionary. Make a positive impact. Eyes on the prize. See the big picture, never lose sight of it. Wealth does not equal success. Man’s necessities are few. See others as worthy of more honor than yourself. Apply the Golden Rule. Love people. There’s more happiness in giving than there is in receiving. Give often. Listen to God.
Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say?
Via Cogitative AI, we’re revolutionizing information assemblage and communication. We’re enabling people and organizations to organize, design and disseminate information effortlessly. Through globalization, there are hundreds of thousands of flooding in to work in this unregulated industry, an industry that we plan on disrupting using Cogitative AI technology. Over 400,000 businesses globally utilize current solution systems. Over the past five years, this industry has grown by 3%, with a size of over $46 Billion dollars in 2018. I will be happy to discuss more specific details with serious interested parties.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.