An optimist by nature, Matt Powell (he/him) has one of those minds that effortlessly pulls together seemingly disparate connections to solve thorny challenges. Where others see problems, he sees an ocean of opportunity.
Matt is the proud owner of a brand new snowboard. An experienced skier, gravel biker, Crossfitter, and outdoors enthusiast, home — for now — is in Vancouver, close to Canada’s most famous slopes. And he’s itching to try something new. Because Matt is never more at home than with the unfamiliar. He’s chosen a life of travel, soaking up new experiences and opening his mind to different ways of thinking and doing. He even completed his psychology degree via correspondence course while traveling through Australia long before remote learning was a thing.
A student of positive psychology and behavioral sciences, Matt is inspired by the fact that we live in the most peaceful, prosperous period humanity has ever known.
I see the world as rich in knowledge and ideas; there are so many opportunities to solve big problems."
<quote-author> MATT POWELL <quote-author>
The work on cognitive bias by Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky, along with the ageless wisdom of Charlie Munger, introduced Matt to the power of using a latticework of mental models to make better decisions and think more broadly. This approach was influential during his time at advertising agency Ogilvy in London, where he worked in the Innovation Lab before moving to create an R&D function at Unipro as Head of Strategy.
After seven years in London, a vacation to visit family and friends in Vancouver inspired Matt and his fiancé to make the leap to Canada in 2020. A remote work natural, his optimism and generalist’s breadth of knowledge make him a great fit as a product strategist at TheoremOne, where he’s establishing a Concept Lab to find answers to key challenges facing various industries.
I was blown away by the intellect and passion of the TheoremOne team, especially the desire to use technology to create positive change. "
<quote-author> MATT POWELL <quote-author>
Progress happens when ideas collide and breed
TheoremOne Concepts pull together ideas from different domains, skill sets, and technologies, and then through workshops, rapid prototyping, and hypotheses testing, identify innovative solutions. Matt believes this reflects the essence of what TheoremOne is. “Essentially, we’re a group of people from around the world united by a passion for our craft and a shared enthusiasm for solving complex challenges inside large organizations.” With Concepts, TheoremOne is stimulating interesting conversations, generating useful ideas, and helping those ideas find their place in the world (and doing a lot of learning along the way).
Matt says, “We can all do better by sharing information across knowledge domains. Progress happens at the edge of disciplines. It’s only with a healthy dose of curiosity and a willingness to explore that we can truly innovate. Concepts is an opportunity to do exactly that, to identify needs in the market and apply our collective expertise to find creative solutions. I'm very open-minded about where that leads—ultimately, it’s about creating better products, services, and businesses.”
The challenge of the new
Matt’s the first to admit it isn’t always easy. It can be challenging to push into new domains that require emergent technology because it stretches a team’s competency. And that’s fine. It’s not about knowing the answers off the bat. If something’s brand new, nobody knows much about it! It’s more about having the tools, and the mindset, to figure things out.
For Matt, taking a generalist approach and using various mental models provides the intellectual gymnastics and lateral thinking needed to understand challenges from multiple perspectives. It also helps navigate an evolving, non-linear roadmap that pulls together interdisciplinary teams—tunnel vision has no place here.
Flourishing amid chaos
Matt believes we’re in a transitory state with technology. The past two decades have laid the infrastructure for connecting every human on earth. The next two decades will look very different as our focus shifts to exploring what we build on top of that infrastructure. It’s time to address different problems and have a greater impact.
Of course, in solving old problems in new ways, it will be impossible to avoid creating new problems. The only constants are change and uncertainty, after all. But by employing the mental model of ‘anti-fragility’ (a term coined by Nassim Taleb to describe the state of things that gain from disorder), Matt believes that those who focus on positioning—not prediction—to thrive on disorder and volatility will emerge as the big winners.
You can take that from someone who lives and breathes the tricky business of flourishing in new terrains (and, like any true generalist, reads five books at once).