My 2016 experiment

For the past eight years, I’ve taken on a new experiment every year. I do them for three reasons: to learn something new, meet new people and get outside my comfort zone. My experiments vary – in previous years I’ve been a polyphasic sleeper, read a book per week, gone to the gym every day or trained my memory with a world memory champion.

This year, I will volunteer for a day every two weeks in a hospital or charity caring for cancer patients. I have been fortunate not to have any friends or family touched by cancer, but through my involvement with Hospices of Hope, I have seen first hand how much of a toll cancer takes on people’s lives. In whichever way I can, I want to help the charities, doctors, nurses and patients dealing with cancer.

In order to make as big of an impact as possible given my time constraints, I will choose three charities or hospitals to volunteer for, one for each location where I spend most of my time (London, New York, and Bucharest).

In terms of the actual volunteering work, I will do anything that’s required of me, but focus on three areas where I think I can add the most value:

  • advise charities & hospitals regarding their technology, digital marketing & data strategies;
  • help with fundraising and
  • offer patient care, with a focus on helping patients with sports and physical activities

Given I am already on the Honorary Patrons Committee for Hospices of Hope, I will volunteer in their palliative care centre whenever I am in Bucharest. I’m still researching which hospitals or charities in London and New York to get involved with, so if you have any recommendations please email me (emi@brainient.com) or leave a comment below.

Experiments – the #elderproject

Almost every year for the past six years, I’ve taken on a new experiment. In 2008 I was a polyphasic sleeper for two months. In 2010 I lost 14kgs in two months. In 2011 I lived in London on £300/day for two months (rent included). In 2012 I read a book a week for a year. Last year I studied Mandarin. This year I trained my memory with a World Top 20 Memory Champion (for example, I can tell you the first 200 digits of PI or recite Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream speech’, for fun).

I do these experiments because I love learning and enjoy getting outside my comfort zone. They’re fun, challenging, and many of them become habits (for example – I go to the gym every day and read about 6hrs/week thanks to my experiments).

In 2015, I will interview an elder person a day, every day (except weekends), for a year. I think young people can learn a ton from the elderly, and we don’t spend nearly enough time with them as we should.

So for a year, I’ll be interviewing elder people. Friends of friends, people on the street, hopefully some entrepreneurs as well. I will post the interviews on this blog, every day, together with a photo of the person I’ve interviewed. I’ll be asking them a few questions about them (to get context), followed by 10 questions that are important to me. But before I start, I’d like to get feedback on my questions and get a couple of question from you.

Below, I’ve listed the questions I’m planning to ask, and I’ve deliberately left a couple of spots open. I’d love to get your feedback and, if you have a question that’s important to you that isn’t listed below, please leave a comment and it may go into the list. 

About you:
1. Name, age, nationality
2. What do you do (did, if you’re retired)
3. Are you married, with kids? How many? What are their names? What age did you get married? How old are your kids?
4. How many close friends have you had during your life, or currently have? Close friends, not acquaintances. How often do you speak to or see them? 
5. 

Questions:
1. Are you happy? Why? What makes you happy these days?
2. If you could go back in time, what would you change?
3. What did you think the most important thing for you was when you were young? What’s the most important for you right now?
4. Work and family. Which one’s more important? Why?
5. How important has money been in your life? How important is it now?
6. If you could live forever and could hold on to just one thing from your life (family, work, money, etc) what would it be? 
7. What do you want to leave behind? What do you want people to say about you when you’re no longer around?
8. Let’s say I’m your grandchild. What is the one piece of advice you’d like to give me?
9. What’s the meaning of life?
10.