Category Archives: Things that keep me awake at night

Wall builder or destroyer? Choose.

We were there in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down. Now the walls are going back up. – Bono, talking to the BBC in December 2016

Greetings, mesdames et messieurs.

I hope this toasty January finds you in scintillatingly cheerful humour.

That line by Bono has stuck in my craw ever since U2 did that gig with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in December.


They are everywhere.

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Alarms bells

A senior individual, heard recently on BBC Radio 4 (discussing government help for young people in finding employment and affordable housing):

“Look, just forget the young people, will you? It’s the older folk who are really struggling. They need the help!”

And a more junior individual, on their Facebook acount just after the Brexit vote:

“What an embarrassing day to be British. No surprise, it’s the 65+ vote that screwed us over.”

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UKIP will put British people first!

So says Paul Nuttall, leader of U.K. Independence Party.


Why should British people come first?

Remind me of that line in the Jason Bourne film. I want to save American lives. 


Why are American lives worth more than other lives, Mr Trump?

Charity begins at home, doncha know?

Really? Why?

Why is Here better than Over There?

Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave . . . . . 

No easy answers

Very interesting post from Tim Ferriss. He’s up in arms over the Washington DC local council‘s decision to protect the local (and purportedly corrupt) taxi services from upstart startup (pun intended) competition. And he’s calling for people to hound the council politicians, until the decision is overturned.

The idea being: Competition is always healthy, and any initiative that stifles it in the name of protecting fat-cat monopolies is inherently evil.

Not being American, I won’t be taking the action Tim Ferris requests. I do think he is right to feel angry. Whenever the powerful few collude to protect their privileged position at the expense of the hungry many, we are right to feel angry.

Look for this kind of story to occur more frequently over the coming years.

As the revenues of governments and many traditional business flatline (or decline), the temptation will be strong for them to collaborate, legally or otherwise, against anyone threatening further erosion of those revenues. Continue reading

Creativity without service = Zero

The flavour of the moment seems to be creativity.

Everywhere I look, people are finding new ways to be creative.

And we’re celebrating and promoting this surge of creativity (quite rightly). Seth Godin’s Linchpin and Poke the Box, Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art . . . . . . there are probably plenty of other books all championing art and urging us to be ever more creative.

It is overdue, of course. It resonates with me. I feel that somewhere in my youth, I allowed creativity to be squashed out of me. I remember drawing copiously in my formative years. By my teens, I’d stopped, for some reason.

A few decades on, now, I am experimenting with new musical and business ideas, which a decade ago I would not have had the courage to do.

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True, Stop Stealing Dreams, but Keep up the Foundations, too!

I was one of the purported 60,000 people who downloaded Seth Godin’s latest publication Stop Stealing Dreams on its first day. It’s vintage Godin, and though clearly aimed at a primarily American audience, his argument will resonate in most developed economies. I recommend downloading and reading it. (It’s free.)

The essence of his argument:

  • Our publicly-funded school systems were set up a century ago. They were never set up with an altruistic desire to better the lives of children. They were set up to supply the then-modern factories with plenty of cheap, compliant, skilled workers. They were set up primarily for the benefit of the people at the top of the food chain, not those at the bottom. (Although those at the bottom have also benefitted.)
  • But the rules of the game have now changed. The mass-production industrial era is ending. In its place is coming a new era that rewards passionate, initiative-taking people, who build connections and work with their hearts as well as their brains.
  • Our school systems (and the governments that funds them) have not recognised the change, and are not evolving to  equip our youngsters with the skills and attitudes to succeed in the new era. They are still churning out compliant youngsters suited to jobs that have disappeared.

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They Shouldn’t Teach You This in School

Here’s a cool site: They Don’t Teach You This in School. Articles and short videos by people, some famous, some not, each expressing what they wish they had learned a lot earlier. All of them very inspiring and motivational.

It’s a site created by a 17-year-old. Mighty impressive. I wonder what he’ll post on it in 30 years’ time?

Can’t help but wonder, though, if there should be a sister site, They Shouldn’t Teach You This in School?

It should include the following:

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The Chinese aren’t coming, they’re here

The NY Times recently published an article that should give everyone in the western world pause for thought. It documents the story of why Apple make the iPhone in China, not the USA.

The key points:

  • The Chinese factory that won the bid to produce the iPhone’s glass screen were building a factory, hiring engineers, and building worker housing, before they even knew if they’d won the work.
  • China is producing appropriately-qualified engineers (note, not necessarily highly-qualified engineers) at a scale the US (and I suspect, the whole western world) cannot match.
  • Those engineers (and workers in general) are lean, eager and controllable. They are willing to work crazy hours and be manipulated to a degree that western workers will not. (We would have done so 100 years ago, maybe even 30 years ago in some places, but not any more.)
  • Apple (and I suspect, most large multinational companies) feel no obligation to solve anyone’s economic woes except their own. They feel no obligation to hire people from their own town, country, ethnic group, race, or tribe. (Should they? I’m not sure.)
  • They do feel an obligation to be faithful to their own purposes. (Which might be as simple as producing the best possible piece of art that moonlights as a smartphone.)

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Going feral? Who? The children or the adults?

Had a good day?

Don’t worry, I’ll fix that. Read this. The children’s charity Bardardo’s has published the results of a survey indicating that just under half of adults in the UK think children are angry, violent, abusive and animalistic. One in four think that troubled kids are beyond help by the age of 10.

In short, they think kids are a {insert your choice of adjective} nuisance.

Well, whose fault is that?

Children are responders. If they are troubled or troublesome, it’s not primarily the kids that are to blame. They’ve been let down by the adults they’ve had (or haven’t had).

What this survey tells me is that the love of most (well, half, in the UK anyway) is growing very cold.

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