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Having worked in educational publishing for the last 8 years, we consider ourselves a part of the education community and its discussions, though we are definitely skimming the outskirts of where all the hard-fought day-to-day action takes place. And while we would never profess to be experts on the intricacies of the US public education system, our work does afford us the opportunity to meet and hear from a wide-range of those in the field of education — from teachers, consultants, and specialists, to principals, superintendants, and state officials.

We also try to absorb as much as we can from reading about people who are working to find new formulas for change in our education system. People like Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the DC Public School system; and Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone in Harlem, New York (also see Kevin’s recent post on Salman Khan). So it was with great interest that we heard about the documentary, Waiting for Superman, that not only featured both of these individuals, but was attempting to highlight some of the key issues that are currently plaguing the health and overall improvement of US public education.

 
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I don't read a lot of books, which I realize is ironic as a book publisher, but it's true. I do like reading business books, however, especially ones that aren't too dense, and explore themes through real life examples (think: Malcolm Gladwell). I enjoy books that make you reflect on what you're doing as a business owner and give you something interesting to think about without being so esoteric that you're reaching for the remote to turn on SportsCenter three pages into the Intro. With that in mind, I recently stumbled across a new read, Little Bets, written by Peter Sims, which explores how many people and businesses have garnered their success and grown their business through the experimental process of making a series of small educated guesses or bets. We often focus on the need to have the "Big Idea" in order to start a business or try something new. Sims dispels this notion and provides many examples of how success is often achieved through much less certain and much more modest steps.

As Yun and I enter the world of digital apps, this book could not be more timely. We are forging ahead in a new direction, without much experience (yes, we've published books, but mobile apps is a whole other ball of wax) and we're essentially making our own series of "little bets" to determine what direction to take our business. For myself especially, I know it's easy to get hung up on trying to plan out every permutation of how to grow our business, and trying to embrace the unknown is an even bigger challenge (to which Yun would certainly attest). Little Bets explores how successful entrepreneurs have built their businesses without knowing the end game, but having the guts to figure it out along the way and methodically using experimental steps as a proxy for which direction to ultimately head. 

It's a pretty fast read and one that I would recommend for anyone paralyzed by the planning process that is often overwhelming in starting a business. — Kevin
 
Historically, the world of education has not been a bastion of innovation and has been slow to adopt change. However, more recently, the struggles of the U.S. school system have come into greater focus and catalyzed many leading thinkers (i.e. Bill Gates) from outside the education universe to become involved. This intensified focus by those assessing the situation from an outsider's point of view had led to some exciting changes and advancements, which gives some of us renewed hope for the future of education in America.

One of the bright minds that has come to the fore is Salman Khan. Two years ago he posted a few math tutorials on YouTube to help his cousins. The videos created a viral following, and now he is one of the leading faces working with school districts to innovate how math and science instruction is being administered in the classroom. I was excited to learn about the work that the Khan Academy is doing and believe that education will be in a better place if we continue in this direction of embracing new models for instruction. 

You can read more about Khan and his academy in this recent Fast Company article.

Also, check out Salman Kahn's TED talk below. I think you will find it very interesting. — Kevin
 
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Not if you had an office like this! Check out Gucci creative director, Frida Giannini's office located in a nine-story Roman palazzo designed by Giulio Albernini  and built in 1515. Recently renovated by Studio Gigli, this office is truly a sanctuary that would definitely inspire much creative activity! Our own office may not quite be at this standard yet, but hey! it's always good to have a dream right?! Happy Monday morning! — Yun


 
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Well, since this is a blog not just about our work life and interests, but also about our work, it’s only approproate we do a shameless plug for our work! We recently launched our first children’s app on the Apple store, Letter Buddies AlphaBooks — for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

There are 24 books in one app — one book for each letter of the alphabet (x, y, z combined). We think that's a good deal for the money! (US$5.99 iPad, US$2.99 iPhone) This app was created based on our Letter Buddies materials that are currently being sold in schools through the US and Canada.

Next week, we’ll talk more about our experience creating this app and the marketing of it...which is a big change from what we were doing in educational publishing! In the meantime, check out some of the reviews we’ve received so far...

That’s it for today. Have a great weekend!
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Following my post about Morgan Spurlock's new movie, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, here is his recent hilarious and informative TED talk about the subject... "I like the way you think Sergey Brin!" — Yun
 
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Morgan Spurlock, the documentary filmmaker best known for his movie, Super Size Me, that explores the dangers of fast food, is about to create a whole lot more conversation with his latest film Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, with limited release starting today.

Spurlock was recently featured in the April edition of Fast Company (the greatest magazine, in my opinion!) talking about the movie and its focus on how brand sponsorship permeates every part of our daily existence...but the article itself, echoing the movie, exemplifies Spurlock’s mission by focusing on the sponsorship of the piece itself. Definitely makes for an interesting story, and I’m sure an even more intriguing movie. I can’t wait to check it out myself! — Yun

(ps- I've added his entertaining TED Talk on the KandY Shoppe too!)

 
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Hello! Kevin and Yun here. And the KandY Shoppe is our newest little project.
We are a husband and wife team who started our own educational publishing company, Cavallo Publishing, in 2006 selling early childhood materials to schools throughout the US and Canada. 

Last year we decided to take our experiences working with young students, classroom teachers, and educational experts, and combine them with the exciting developments in mobile technology. (Ok, and also we didn't want to feel like dinosaurs in a dying industry!). We recently released our first app, Letter Buddies AlphaBooks, through our new company Cavallo Media.

It's been a huge learning curve for us both — running the businesses, learning new skills, and discovering how much and how little we know about so many things (including each other...read more about us here)! We started this blog to share some of the interesting things we learn about on a daily basis, our crazy stories, the frustrations and successes that come with owning your own company, and well, whatever else we just feel like talking about. Hope you won't find us too tedious and that you'll check back with us once in a while. 

Thanks for reading!
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