ORIGINALS … & how non conformists move the world



View from Paria Bay

Considered one of this generation’s most ‘provocative thought leaders’, Adam Grant explores how individuals with great ideas get ‘discovered’, their own human foibles (like you and me)  and their persistence to act anyway!

In pointing out some flaws that plague most creative minds, Grant suggests that we’re typically “too close to our own tastes…to evaluate it accurately” or what psychologists call confirmation bias where we focus too much on the strength of our ideas and ignore the limitations. What we deduce here is that as ORIGINALS if we aren’t reliable judges of the quality of our ideas, we may best maximize the odds of creating a masterpiece by creating a large number of alternatives, so that a greater volume of work allow for a higher chance of hitting on one for originality!

In the book’s Foreword Facebook’s CEO, Sheryl Sandberg refers to Grant as the Informed Optimist and we can see why as he explores the Sarick Effect with full confidence.  Here, Grant talks about putting ‘your worst foot forward’ – a theory developed by social scientist, Leslie Sarick.  We learn how Rufus Griscom pitched  his online mag and blog, Babble to venture capitalists by giving top 5 reasons why not to invest in his business.  This counterintuitive approach brought in $3.3 m in funding … and that was just the beginning! The lesson here is that most of us have been taught the reverse: how to emphasize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses.  According to Grant, that mindset works when our audience is supportive, like let’s say community activists.  But when presenting to venture capitalists, who are looking to poke holes in your arguments you may want to start by ‘doing it yourself’…right!! According to Grant “leading with weakness disarms the audience”

Another counterintuitive concept that Grant explores is one where procastination can be conducive to originality; meaning that by delaying work that needs to be done, you buy yourself time for more divergent thinking rather than foreclosing on one particular idea!  All well and good for those who may not be in the copy room where your editor is breathing down your neck to meet press deadlines!

Using a stream of familiar tag lines such as “Fools rush In”, “Out on a Limb” and “Rebel with a Cause” as chapter headlines, Grant delves into themes such as timing, procrastination, mentors and devils advocates to hammer home thoughts on drawing our better creative instincts. His final chapter on Actions for Impact is indeed a call to action for readers (and inventors) bent on making their original ideas rise to the top. So whether you’re planning the next community rally or a sales pitch for your invention, Originals is certainly a must read for you! 


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Cudillero: A View from Above — Discover

At Wandanlust, Danielle — who’s currently traveling around Europe by sailboat — shares a gorgeous shot of Cudillero, a fishing village on Spain’s Asturian coast.

via Cudillero: A View from Above — Discover

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Finding mutual pathways for a Multi Gen workplace

doesn't get better than this.JPG

Just recently I had the opportunity to volunteer at a large non-profit agency in Atlanta where a diverse team of employees came together (at short notice) to rescue parrots that were in a state of neglect by a pet lover turned alcoholic.  The team was required to handle all logistics: police notice and intervention, local SPCA authorities, temporary shelter, vet, food and medication for birds and a volunteer shift schedule to handle round-the-clock care.

What struck me the most is that staff ranging in ages from 18 to 65 had this great sense of camaraderie –  a quality that most reports on ‘multiple generations at work’ don’t seem to celebrate. In fact, we hear complaints on both sides: Boomers: “they’ve got no work ethic” … “they want minimum work, quick rewards”. Gen Y: “their long meetings will kill us ..why can’t they let us work from home sometimes?”

These are just a few of the many issues that supervisors today find themselves facing as they attempt to bridge gaps to get the work done!   Experts like Sylvia Ann Hewitt, of The Hidden Brain Drain, hold the view that there’s more common ground in these 2 ‘book end’ generations than we think!

In her survey of over 3000 participants, there are certain elements that mutually motivate both Gen Ys and Boomers and which talent managers can pay attention to. The popular wisdom that Gen Ys have short attention spans isn’t really true; what they want are a range of experiences throughout their work life.  For example, Gen Ys will happily trump the pay check, and do sabbaticals abroad where they can volunteer to teach English to students; the same is true for those in their 50 & 60s – who themselves want to ‘mix things up’ and join the Peace Corps or volunteer for building homes with Habitat for Humanity.

Another quality that both generations have in common is work/life balance. No longer content with spending 40+ hours in the corporate mill, they both want time to pursue private passions.  Again HR and Talent managers may want to pay attention to this.  ­­Finally, despite difference styles in how they approach work, each generation ultimately want collaboration and a sense of team work.

The old adage that there’s ‘nothing new under the sun’ holds true here – both generations crave age old values for belonging and balance.  The crux now is figuring out ways to make it happen.  One simple way may be ‘opening the conversation’ for solutions – how about intergenerational mentoring where boomers may help Gen Ys with ‘navigating corporate culture’ and Gen Ys can help them figure out the latest tech tool.   Finding solutions to journey together will create the synergy business needs in these competitive times.


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The Metaphor Tool — Live to Write – Write to Live

Sometimes, when we are wrestling with a big topic, it can be difficult to address it in a direct way. For example, I struggle with making time for my writing, as I wrote in a recent blog post. I addressed the problem directly there (and have implemented the strategies I mentioned) but sometimes it can […]

via The Metaphor Tool — Live to Write – Write to Live

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The Past: It Sounds Beautiful, Whatever It Means

Tessa Hadley’s The Past is an exploration of family tensions that intensify when a group of relatives gather in their grandparents’ country home, possibly for the last time. The gathering includes …

Source: The Past: It Sounds Beautiful, Whatever It Means

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Technology at the speed of light…. but where will it take us?

The world of technology and robotics continue to astound me.  Before 2016 closes, there’ll be Apple’s I-phone 7. Maybe another one that dispenses medication or selects our evening entertainment is also in the making. These notions may not be so far off if we consider what’s happening in the tech world today.

Remember Disney’s Wall-e who rid the earth of garbage! Next, drones may soon be littering the skies delivering packages and other paraphernalia to our doorsteps.Wall e

Already techies are investigating unmanned vehicles aka driverless cars –images we saw in futuristic film some years ago.  … And, you may ask, just how is this new phenomenon going to be regulated so everyone feels safe on overcrowded highways and by-ways?

Recently we’ve been hearing about the Ladybird, a giant-sized solar-powered red-winged robot that can help farmers manage weed control, by targeting individual weeds and assist with insect management! Following closely behind is Shrimp another robot designed to collect agricultural data in the fields and so help farmers determine crop yield and vigor on their farms.

Ladybird robot


Pretty much we can think of any type of computerized gadget that can support and enhance human capabilities. But the big question is whether they will soon do us out of jobs. More concerning is what will the jobs of the future look like for younger graduates and is our education system surveying the landscape to determine what technological skills need to be taught to keep abreast of changing tides. The more we search the deeper our questions become: How far will robotics advance to assist human efforts and what are some of the ethical issues we need to address as we advance along the technology continuum.  In some fields, scientists are working on getting robots to perform like humans (consider the Henn-na Hotel which opened as a full scale ‘robot hotel’ in Japan!) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/asia/japan/galleries/Henn-na-Hotel-inside-the-worlds-first-robot-hotel/

Other researchers have even gone further afield to consider suggesting emotional intelligence so they (robots) can think like humans.  There’s little doubt that robots can compute faster and sometimes more accurately than humans, but can we equip them with the powers of deduction and discernment or understand human emotions like love and compassion or is the jury still out on whether emotions can be mere computations?

Artificial intelligence warns world-renowned physicist,  Stephen Hawking, has many dangers.  Professor Salah Sukkarieh who is leading the robotic aircraft project at ACFR http://confluence.acfr.usyd.edu.au/display/AGPub/Welcome+to+Agriculture+at+ACFR

has determined that computers can fly and do flight control more accurately than pilots and adds: “but largely computers still can’t deal with risk and uncertainty fast enough, as compared as human pilots”

So where will it end …. I continue to delve deeper with skepticism yet with a sense of awe and wonder.

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Swimming in the big blue ocean

Blue Ocean graphicThe Blue Ocean Strategy leadership strategy has been around for a number of years, ( W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne pub, 2005).  Considered an all-time classic management book it encourages today’s leaders to stop competing, get ‘innovating’ and yes, start swimming in your big blue ocean!

But how exactly do we define then refine the innovation message? One of the things we know for sure about innovation is that it is ‘thinking outside the box’ i.e. changing the way we think about doing things and we all know that is not the easiest things to do!   Even though we live in a world now where things change in front of us daily: new and improved technology gadgets …digitized and robotic processes.

Chan Kim and Mauborgne say that there are 3 propositions for success when we consider the highest level of strategic leadership:

  1. VALUE proposition (an offering that attracts buyers)
  2. PROFIT proposition (creating a business model that enables the company to make money
  3. PEOPLE proposition (motivating the people who execute the strategy)

They further suggest that most organizations stay safely within the RED Ocean strategy when they fail to incorporate all 3 propositions

But there are those who adopt the Blue Ocean strategy and step out on their own ledge. Let’s take some success stories like Facebook founder Zuckerman whose venture captured millions who simply want to ‘chat and share’. This venture has turned it into a billion-dollar industry called ‘social media’ which most business leaders rely on as part of their marketing campaigns to get ‘the word out’

Another great example is Google, where you can find just about anything on the internet using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Google Analytics to track online marketing success

… And now Blue Ocean ‘brings it home’! Here in Trinidad and Tobago, a group of shrewd business innovators called ISLAND PEOPLE have mastered the Blue Ocean strategy in the art of mas making (costumes) during the local Carnival celebrations. Using the internet and a shoebox delivery service they’ve brought convenience, comfort and a new value proposition to those willing to pay for it. With a few collaborations they’re also able to use Apps and a few ‘taps’ so masqueraders world over can order costumes, secure airline tickets, book accommodations, and pay for non-stop partying, music and drinks way ahead of the much touted “world’s greatest festival”.

The whole idea of Blue Ocean Strategy is to move away from slugging it out with your competitors and finding ‘blue oceans’ i.e. new market spaces to grow your business

In the world of technology today just think of the possibilities for e-commerce, bio and nano technologies and more. Then push the clock forward and ask how many now unknown industries are likely to exist as a result of these technological developments that emerge almost everyday. It’s time to swim in our own blue ocean!

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