Over the past week, 16 entrepreneurs and over 50 mentors and specialists have gathered at Project Literacy Lab to solve key challenges related to illiteracy. During the program, experts in design thinking, marketing/branding, investment, rapid-prototyping, and social impact share their insights and perspectives in the collective goal of closing the global literacy gap by 2030. Of the many words of wisdom shared, here are some of the most salient and inspiring quotes directed towards the entrepreneurial community.


“150 years ago, everyone was an entrepreneur. Since Henry Ford, people have relied on jobs to carry us along. Before that, we all worked for ourselves.”

Patrick Hanlon, founder and CEO of Thinktopia, author of “Primal Branding” and “The Social Code

Tom Chi leading a rapid prototyping workshop // Photo by Caitlin Kleiboer

Tom Chi leading a rapid prototyping workshop // Photo: Caitlin Kleiboer

“[When considering the education market], the buyer is different than the user. Very few people talk to a kindergartner.”

Elliott Hedman, lead researcher & experience designer at mPath


“The 10 Second MBA: Step 1) Do something that meaningfully improves people’s lives. Step 2) Make Step 1 cash-flow positive.”

Tom Chi, rapid prototyping genius, former experience lead at GoogleX, Chief Prototyping Officer at FACTORY


“If you don’t plan from the beginning for scale, you’re likely to screw it up.”

Paul Polak, serial entrepreneur and author who has helped uplift over 20 million people out of poverty

Paul Polak addressing the barn at Project Literacy Lab // Photo by Caitlin Kleiboer

Paul Polak addressing the barn at Project Literacy Lab // Photo: Caitlin Kleiboer

“In an investor deck, the top things investors want to see are what is the problem, how big is the market, and why are you the ones to do it?”

Allen Taylor, VP of Global Network at Endeavor


Design is an attitude and plays an important role in not just making everything work, but making it magical. Tweet This Quote

“Design is an attitude you can take. In every moment, you’re designing conversations, meetings, pitches, your organization, operations, infrastructure—everything is actually being designed. Design plays a really important role in not just making everything work, but making it magical.”

Sandy Speicher, Partner and Managing Director at IDEO


“What we need are policies in which the people who are most affected are the most included.”

Khalida Brohi, Founder and Executive Director of Sughar Foundation; Pakistani women’s rights entrepreneur and activist

Khalida on her work as a Pakistani women's rights activist // Photo by Caitlin Kleiboer

Khalida on her work as a Pakistani women’s rights activist // Photo by Caitlin Kleiboer

“What does 10x look like? Instead of thinking 10% improvement, force yourself to 10x. Once you think of 10x, it forces you into a new way of thinking; it gets you thinking of exponential scale.”

Pascal Finette, VP at Singularity University Labs


People last longer than companies, so invest in what lasts. Tweet This Quote

“People last longer than companies, so invest in what lasts. A thing is worth 5 minutes of your thought, but people are worth a lifetime of consideration.”

Tom Chi, rapid prototyping genius, former experience lead at GoogleX, Chief Prototyping Officer at FACTORY


“It’s really easy to get wrapped up in the challenges of your business and what you know to be true. It’s always worth looking for surprises, so you challenge what you understand to be true. That’s when you push the edges of what you’re doing.”

Sandy Speicher, Partner and Managing Director at IDEO


“Start by listening with your soul to the people you are designing for, as your teachers and your friends.”

Paul Polak, serial entrepreneur and author who has helped uplift over 20 million people out of poverty

Group huddle after one of the daily deep-dive sessions // Photo by Caitlin Kleiboer

Group huddle after one of the daily deep-dive sessions // Photo by Caitlin Kleiboer

“If we can read and write DNA, we can eradicate every cancer on the planet.”

Pascal Finette, VP at Singularity University Labs



“There’s something to making sure that the mountain is big enough, so you have years of trying to answer it. If you make it too specific, you finish too quickly. Keep a big question, and then remind yourself of it all the time.”

Sandy Speicher, Partner and Managing Director at IDEO

About the author

Brittany Lane

Brittany Lane

Brittany is the global editor of Unreasonable.is, which exists to drive resources and value to entrepreneurs around the world solving big f*$ckin' problems. She believes lasting change happens at the intersection of entrepreneurship and empathy and that good storytelling can move mountains.