Creator Spotlight - Anne-Laure Le Cunff
The founder of Ness Labs and Maker Mind joins us for a few questions
Anne-Laure Le Cunff is the founder of Ness Labs and a PhD researcher in cognitive neuroscience at King’s College London. Her newsletter has more than 50,000 readers. You can find her on Twitter.
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When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was fascinated with dinosaurs and I wanted to be a paleontologist. Though life had different plans in store for me, there will always be a special place in my heart for anything that has to do with dinosaurs. Recently, I had the chance to visit the Jurassic World exhibition in London, and I felt like a kid again.
You used to work for Google. Without going into too many details, can you tell us one thing about working for Google that most people would not know or expect?
Something that really surprised me was how many people at Google suffered from impostor syndrome. There was even an internal group for self-perceived impostors! I guess this is a byproduct of working with so many smart folks — you end up comparing yourself and wondering if you really deserve to work there.
You have since then become an entrepreneur at this point. Would you consider working for a large corporation again?
I don’t think so. I love the freedom of working on what I want, whenever I want, from where I want.
One of the benefits of working at Google was the many collaboration opportunities with interesting people, but thanks to the Internet you don’t need to work at a large corporation anymore to have access to such opportunities.
Would you say you are a left-brain thinker, a right-brain thinker or are these concepts balderdash, given your knowledge of neuroscience?
There’s no such thing as being left-brained or right-brained. While some functions tend to be localized in one hemisphere of the brain, we use both sides of our brain. In terms of the kind of work I enjoy most, though, I’m definitely more of a creative thinker. I love finding innovative ways of solving problems.
What led you to start Ness Labs, along with its website, newsletter, and online community? Is it a direct outgrowth of your neuroscience studies?
I started Ness Labs while I was in the first year of my neuroscience studies as a way to use something called the “generation effect” — it shows that by creating your own version of the content you study, you’ll both understand it and remember it better. So, every week, I’d write articles based on what I was studying in school. My goal was to translate those scientific ideas into practical insights people could apply to their daily lives.
What are your long-term goals for Ness Labs and your own creative work?
To me, Ness Labs is a personal laboratory. It’s a place to learn, experiment, and connect with people. My long-term goal is to keep on learning in public and grow as a researcher.
What is your preferred writing method: pen and paper or the keyboard?
It depends. For creative essays and scientific papers, I prefer using my keyboard. It’s easier to move things around and edit the content. For self-reflection, I prefer pen and paper. I journal every morning in my notebook. This format helps me avoid self-censorship. It’s also an opportunity to have some screen-free time in the morning before I start working on my projects.
Have you been to Canada before?
I’ve only been to Canada once! When I was working at Google, I worked on a campaign to promote our smartwatches. We had a series of short films to produce, and I flew to Montréal because they had really good studios there. It was in the middle of the winter, and it was freezing cold!
One of my friends I used to live with in Tokyo is from Quebec. She told me Montréal is beautiful in the Spring, when everyone can finally spend time outside again, and that there’s a sort of magic in the air. So I’d love to go back and experience Montréal in the Spring.
Pretend you wake up one morning and the Internet has been destroyed. What’s the first thing you do?
I’d text my friends — or walk to their house if that doesn’t work anymore either — and have a picnic with them at the park where we’d all share our favorite weird internet stories. Then, since I’d be out of a job, maybe I’d interview lots of people and write a book about how to live in that new offline era.
Thanks to Anne-Laure for agreeing to this interview!
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Another great profile - interesting as always! Really like the variety of subjects, too.
Hello Mark. Can you share your email? I'll like to get an information