It takes hard work, hard science, and hard-core commitment to change the world. But Coursera cofounder Daphne Koller and GoldieBlox CEO and cofounder Debra Sterling are doing it. These technologists turned entrepreneurs have created building blocks for empowering people to meet their potential. Coursera revolutionizes global education through universal online access. GoldieBlox is a children’s multimedia company that challenges gender stereotypes with the world’s first girl engineer character.
Koller and Sterling were both named Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship by President Obama for their entrepreneurial leadership in education. In this conversation with CHM Exponential’s Marguerite Gong Hancock, they share their stories and offer insights into what the future holds for all of us.
This guide introduces provocative questions for reflection and conversation to enhance and extend what you learn through watching the video. It is suitable for mature high school students and college and adult learners in an educational, professional, or social setting. It may be particularly interesting for people who are curious about innovation, entrepreneurship, and the start-up ecosystem of Silicon Valley. Consider the discussion questions below or download a PDF of the Discussion Guide.
Both Daphne Koller and Debra Sterling became interested in STEM topics when they were young.
Daphne Koller believes her online courses reaching 100,000 learners worldwide in a matter of weeks made a more significant impact than her years of research and work mentoring PhD students.
Why did Daphne feel that she had no choice but to start Coursera? What might prevent you from taking action on something you think is important?
Debra Sterling speaks about her career path and initial hesitation to quit her job and run Goldieblox full time.
Daphne Koller and Debra Sterling speak frankly about the challenges they faced starting and growing their companies.
Early on, Debra Sterling’s executive team told her that she was “not doing a good job” as CEO. She responded by seeking out executive training.
In the early days of Coursera, Daphne Koller says she did not understand the importance of company culture. But over time, she came to believe that the right culture will not just emerge on its own and that it is important to be “thoughtful and proactive” about developing it.
Daphne Koller believes education should incorporate a balance of technology and social connection.
Debra Sterling says her negative experiences as one of the few women in her engineering classes fueled her initial desire to found GoldieBlox as well as learning
that girls start losing confidence and interest in math and science as young as age eight.
Daphne Koller and Debra Sterling discuss the sexism they have experienced in tech-centric environments and the ways they have coped.
Daphne Koller encourages men to proactively change the culture of the workplace, and Debra Sterling urges investors to be more open to funding women entrepreneurs.