Nara day!

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Tom, Nathan and I goofing in our hallway

Years ago, I used to sign off email with Happy day! I don’t recall how it started or even how it stopped, like most things it was gradual. I do know I missed it being “my” signature. There was something about typing it that reminded me — and hopefully the recipient — to smile a bit more.

I was quite far into discussions regarding signing on as president of Nara Logics when I found out Nara has the Greek meaning of happy. So while I will share all the logical reasons I’ve joined the team, like the trend to practice gratitude, I know the practice of wishing happiness works. I’m looking forward to many Nara days ahead!

Now that you know I am smiling broadly, let me fill you in on why it is not just my heart, but my head leading this. About a year ago, it was time for me to take a step back and a breath, and figure out Jana++. I spent the time learning, both from the perspective of what was happening in the industry and what aspects in my career were missing. About a week after I declared to a few of my mentors that a role “where science meets business” was a likely focus for me, a headhunter called and said, “I found your next role.” I chuckled when he described the MIT neuroscience that is the basis of the company, thinking, wow, sometimes when you throw something out into the universe it comes back to you FAST.

I had been dabbling in a bit of research on the state of artificial intelligence, and felt about it how Kevin Kelly does in “You are not late” — we are at the early stages with great opportunity. Talking to Nathan, Nara’s co-founder and CTO (who is not only brilliant but a kind and delightful person), I got an understanding of how Nara’s approach is different, being based on the latest understandings of how our brain works. I called one of my buddies from my days at Los Alamos National Laboratory, who has stayed on the research side of life, having a successful and fascinating career in cognitive sciences. He gave me the “these guys are legit” thumbs up on Nathan’s background. (Actually, it was quite a bit stronger than this; the words “world class”, “best”, “leaders”, “amazing” were used, but I know how humble Nathan is.) And, the more I talked with Nathan, the more I learned about how we think, and how Nara is representing that in a technology platform.

Oh, I see I’ve gone on too long without stating what Nara actually does. Nara Logics uses neuroscience-based artificial intelligence and machine learning to take the loads of data we have in life today and help you take smart actions from it. As humans, we can’t process as much information as machines can. And machines can’t process that information in more refined ways we do. The “neural” part of what Nara is doing is mimicking the way we store information in our brains with many different links to that information. Based on different stimulus, like say being in a neighborhood or being served a certain dish, we can recall the name of a restaurant for example. We have loads of information stored and the stimuli that are applied helps us recall the right piece of information. Now, imagine if we applied that stimuli and our brains could tell us not only that one thing, but also others that have those same attributes? We get recall AND learning!

Where can this go? The possibilities are vast, likely endless. Think of all of the decisions we make each day. What if we did have support for making them, but not only based on the information our brains have, but all the information available on that topic? For me, this is an opportunity to take another giant leap towards making technology work for us, versus us working at technology.

…Which leads me to Tom, the visionary and entrepreneur behind Nara Logics. Tom started off with a vision of removing friction from people’s lives. He had done this already literally with one of his ventures, BodyGlide — as a triathlete I LOVE him for this product! This time he wanted to focus on the growing amount of information we are trying to process and how difficult the technology we have to solve this remained. On his own, Tom began searching for who was doing the leading research in how we think, in an effort to figure out how we can make technology work more like us. Long story short, this led him to MIT, which led him to Nathan, and four years later, there’s a revenue-generating company. You can tell from this snippet that Tom’s a remarkable person — a visionary who relentlessly pursues his vision to make it a reality, an entrepreneur who has already delivered ground breaking products, and someone who finds the right people to support his ventures, but it doesn’t tell you what a fantastic person he is. He is one of the most, if not the most, self aware people I have ever known. It is fabulous to be around.

I have so much more to say about Nara, but that will come. What I wanted to add to this note, in the words of J. Cole “I’m coming home… Back where I belong … I’ve never felt so strong”. While I thought for awhile I would end up in Silicon Valley, I can’t tell you how delighted I am to be headed back to Boston. So what’s on my shirt today? Can’t resist it…

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