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Thinking Like a Rocket Scientist by Nancy Price

Are you struggling with a decision or direction to take to solve a problem or overcome a challenge? Has anyone tried to move you forward by saying, “It’s not rocket science”? Perhaps our reply should be “Maybe it’s time it is.”
I don’t know about you, but many people, myself included, were thrown a bit off balance by all that has occurred this year. Like you, perhaps, I started looking for something that gave me a glimmer of hope, of finding, and helping others find new ways of looking at issues with a goal of seeing new solutions and opportunities. That’s when serendipity entered the picture in the way of a friend’s LinkedIn post, that brought one such opportunity to my desk in the form of a podcast.

Not just any podcast, though I’m sure there are many great ones, but a podcast interview with a rocket scientist detailing strategies to help me do just that, see new solutions and help oneself and others along the way.
That rocket scientist’s name is Ozan Varol. Ozan grew up in a non-English speaking family and developed a passion for space as a child. His passion led him to learn English, apply to attend a university in the United States, and write to a professor working on a project, at that same university, for NASA. Leaving home at seventeen for the university, he was invited to interview with the professor, for an opportunity to work on the Mars Exploration Rovers project. The rest, you might say, is history.

But not so fast.

Yes, Ozan worked on the Mars Exploration Rovers project and was part of the hugely creative team. He then pursued a law degree and practiced successfully for years. His passion to impact lives and explore the unknown led him to academia. The earlier success of his legal career became the foundation for an award-winning time as a tenured law professor. His time with his law students launched a desire to impact more lives than a classroom would allow, so he started his work on podcasts, speaking engagements and books. All the time the nine simple strategies he cultivated during his time as a rocket scientist, propelled him forward.

Rocket scientists are always considering new solutions, new frameworks for solutions, and looking beyond “what is/was” to “what could be” in order to make complex decisions. Ozan Varol, a rocket scientist, lawyer, college professor and author explains these nine simple strategies we can use to be our own “rocket scientist” in our daily lives. Ozan’s new book, Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life, launched with the pandemic and the timing couldn’t have been more serendipitous. Ozan writes from the perspective of someone who knows what it is to see the unseen, imagine the unimaginable, and be courageous in leaping into the unknown. His work on the Mars Exploration Rovers project certainly propelled him into a world where much was unknown.
For Ozan, the pandemic became a time of reflection, as with many of our readers. His reflection led him to make a major life-changing decision which he discusses in his interview with Adam King. (See below)

We asked Ozan if he could share some of his experience and strategies with you, understanding that you and your children are experiencing phenomenal change and stress in your daily lives, with the goal of inspiring and supporting you. We are fortunate that he agreed.
Ozan, you will find, should you read his book, join his “Inner Circle,” or listen to his podcasts, will always be a humble, self-effacing individual. He’ll tell you he’s not one of a kind. Frankly, though I might disagree with his opinion, I secretly hope he’s right.


About Nancy Price – PWPORG Advisory Board Member

Nancy continues to travel the path of continuous learning and community service. She understands in a very real way the need to pay it forward by helping others, and understands that the pathway is always paved with education. Developing resources to help children learn and navigate the uncertainties of the world is in her DNA. The belief that it is her responsibility to try and make the world a better place led her to accept leadership roles in hospital administration, corporate communications, magazine publishing, volunteer service, higher education (UVA Darden and the Batten Institute) and economic development.

Nancy currently serves as a business investment manager with the Commonwealth of Virginia’s economic development partnership (VEDP). She works with businesses and local governments to provide opportunities for growth and economic resilience, a critical role, especially now for small businesses. Curious by nature, Nancy is currently pursuing Kanban certification and a mini-MBA executive education program at the University of Richmond.


Ozan Varol Interview with Adam King


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