How You Can Be a Danielle
As I point out in the Preface to Danielle: Chronicles of a Superheroine, for all the quandaries we face—business problems, health issues, relationship difficulties, the great social and cultural challenges of our time—there exists an idea that will enable us to prevail. We can and must find that idea. And when we find it, we need to implement it.
That is Danielle’s philosophy. And it can be your philosophy, as well. If you see a problem, big or small, you can apply your mind—and your courage, creativity and tenacity—to solve it. We can all be Danielles regardless of age and situation. If Danielle’s exploits seem remarkable, I would point out that each of her accomplishments are achievements that a person, even a child, can do today. Indeed young people are already changing the world. The major tech companies—Microsoft, Apple, Google—were started by students barely over twenty. We see students in high school and earlier grades creating transformative ideas.
This is also the best way to learn. “Learn by Doing” is the philosophy of Singularity University, of which I am cofounder and Chancellor, where students self-organize into teams to take on grand challenges. Whether these projects succeed or fail, the students will succeed in learning a myriad of skills and ideas. Learn by Doing is also the philosophy of the school founded by Danielle’s Dad, and that Danielle and her sister, Claire, attend. Danielle’s adventures represent her school projects. If I think back on my own life and what I have managed to learn, it is all from my projects, not from school.
This is a guide—for all ages—to help you contribute to solving the kinds of problems Danielle takes on. If everyone did this, the world would become a far better place.
One aspect of today’s technology is that it allows children and adults to magnify their reach exponentially in a way never before possible. An idea can spread virally on social media regardless of the age, background, status, title, or accomplishments of the originator. It is only the power of the idea that matters.
I do need to strike one note of caution: Danielle is a superheroine and none of us has all of her super powers, not yet anyway. For example, you might admire Superman and Wonder Woman and it would be commendable to emulate their dedication to truth and freedom, but I would advise you not to jump off your garage thinking you could fly.
Similarly, as you seek to be a Danielle, please use reasonable caution to stay safe. Although Danielle’s parents struggle with her independent ways, they do review—and approve—each of her ambitious ventures. She is always supervised by an adult—Uncle Eric, Aunt Ellie, Mom, Dad, and Claire (when she becomes an adult). So if you are a child, I encourage you to do the same: seek the guidance of adults who can steer your efforts while keeping you protected. For example, you can press for democracy and freedom in other lands, but it’s best to do it from a country that already enjoys these liberties and from which you can carry out your efforts safely.
These entries provide ideas and suggestions for activities and organizations that you can join and assist. Since organizations and websites are constantly changing, please consult with the updated version of this guide at this site: DanielleWorld.com/resources. All of the numbered notes in these sections correspond to resources on the website.
Your efforts will be multiplied by others following in your footsteps and being inspired by your ideas. The following conversation Danielle has with Mom, Dad, and Claire after six-year-old Danielle has returned from helping with the drought in Zambia illustrates this idea (written from Danielle’s sister Claire’s perspective):
“We didn’t do much,” Danielle said at the dinner table.
“Hey that’s an improvement over ‘we didn’t do anything,’” I noted.
“It sounds like thousands of people who were drinking contaminated water before now have clean water,” Mom said.
“That’s something to be proud of, not mope about.”
“Danielle is always looking at the glass half-empty rather than half-full,” Dad observed.
Danielle sighed. “By my calculations, the glass is now about one third of one percent full.”
“That’s a lot, Danielle,” Dad countered. “The Talmud says ‘whoever saves one life has saved the whole world.’”
She perked up slightly. “The Talmud says that? Okay, but a million people in Zambia are still without clean water.”
“Danielle, you can’t solve all of this by yourself. Anyway, you’ve contributed more than just some machines,” Dad pointed out.
“Like what? Amu’s and my instructional video?”
“You gave them the most valuable thing of all, a good idea,” Dad explained. “Others can follow in your footsteps.”
“We’ll see,” Danielle said. “Mao once said he felt he was only moving a few deck chairs around on a sinking ship. He didn’t feel he was having much impact.”
“Too bad Mao didn’t stick to moving deck chairs around,” Dad replied. “Impact is not as important as having the right ideas. If one percent of the world did as much as you, there would be no suffering.”