Memorable Meetings

July 22, 2014

From Greg McKeown in the HBR (I’m reading his book Essentialism at the moment):

Mr. Frost, my superb economics teacher in England, once shared the story of two people talking about a lecture given by the late Milton Friedman, the father of Monetarism. The first said, “Twenty years ago, I went to the worst lecture I’ve ever heard! Friedman gave it and I still remember how he just muttered on and on and all I could make out was the word ‘money.’” The second man responded, “If you can remember what the key message was some twenty years later, I think it might be the best lecture you ever heard!”

Indeed, Friedman’s singular message — that by controlling the supply of money, you can stabilize the whole economy — became, arguably, the most impactful economic theory of the second half of the 20th century. The point I wish to emphasize is not an economic one, but a human one: if you try to say too many things, you don’t say anything at all.

He highlights a few key lessons he’s learned over the years in giving effective presentations:

  1. You can’t communicate what you haven’t defined i.e. be really clear, starting with yourself, about what you want to say
  2. Lose the slides and have a conversation – something my friend David Gurteen has been saying for years!
  3. Kill your darlings i.e. ruthless editing
  4. Be repetitive without being boring i.e. focus on the one message you want to hammer home

See also, Why Are Most Events Rubbish?

Rereading this latter post, it may be a bit unkind but the underlying point is still a good one and one that everyone still seems to be struggling with.

 


Thinking About Your Networks

July 16, 2014

Connected_780

This picture plus it’s accompanying discussion can be found here. It’s quite interesting to think about one’s connections in this way, even if it’s hard to be too specific about the measurement of the (time dependent) factors.


Sunny Side Up

July 3, 2014

Nadine May - Solar EnergyThe red squares represent the area that would be enough for solar power plants to produce a quantity of electricity consumed by the world today, in Europe (EU-25) and Germany (De).

Amazing fact/quote: ‘in just six hours, the world’s deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind consumes in a year.’

From Wikipedia (which gives the history of the associated project plus it’s pros and cons as well as the remarkable graphic above):

“The DESERTEC concept was originated with Dr Gerhard Knies, a German particle physicist and founder of the Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC) network of researchers. In 1986, in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, he was searching for a potential alternative source of clean energy and arrived at the following remarkable conclusion: in just six hours, the world’s deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind consumes in a year.

The DESERTEC concept was developed further by Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC) – an international network of scientists, experts and politicians from the field of renewable energies – founded in 2003 by the Club of Rome and the National Energy Research Center Jordan. One of the most famous members was Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan. In 2009, TREC emerged to the non-profit DESERTEC Foundation.”

Official site, for additional info: DESERTEC Foundation.


Luck And Learning

July 1, 2014

Quote from the entrepreneur Richard Farleigh:

Do you remember your best and worst business decisions?

I can remember the worst ones. Psychologists say when something works well we put it down to ourselves, and when something goes badly we put it down to luck. I try the opposite. All you can say is you learnt from each one.

See also here, on the fascination of failure.


The Benefits Of Wasting Time

June 22, 2014

Lifehack Quotes Dylan and Success

Worth clicking on…

Time management is a perennially popular topic, there are articles and books on it everywhere (mostly saying the same things over and again).

You often get the feeling that the aim is to try to extract the very last drop of ‘value’ from your allotted span and that there may be some hidden trick that you’re not aware of that will allow you to do this.

Over the years I’ve bought quite a few books of the subject and read lots of articles and posted a few myself as well.

concentration

In this general context I was interested to read a couple of articles recently on some of the more intangible aspects of time management. One was by the journalist Rosie Millard, which emphasised that time wasting may not be a bad thing at all and was motivated by a recent book:

Getting to the airport frightfully early, we now learn, is a bad strategy. In his book How Not to be Wrong: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life, he summarises it thus: “If you’ve never missed a flight, you’re not doing it right.”

The article ends with:

Indeed, when I apply the Prof’s wisdom to my own crammed, time-poor, frantic lifestyle, I realise that the only moments I feel wholly relaxed are when my time-saving devices are nowhere near me, and I am actually “wasting time”. Running miles and miles along the Regent’s Canal tow path, for example. Or sitting leafing through ancient bird books at my parents’ house. I once spent 12 hours waiting for a plane at Sao Paulo airport. It’s the sort of thing that would have driven Prof Ellenberg crazy. I don’t even remember having a book to hand. I just drifted around and looked at people, who were also drifting around.

It was good.

That certainly rang a bell with me.

The other was by the writer A N Wilson on the value of a university education (prompted by record complaints by students that much of university teaching is not worth the fees):

That is why so much of university life should be a waste of time. The eight-week term flies past. If, in that time, you have fallen unsuitably in love (or, even more time-wasting, suitably in love); and/or if you have been acting in a play, or improving your squash, or becoming obsessed by Swedish cinema, the likelihood is that you will not have been giving enough time to your friends. And friendship, for many people at university, is its chief glory. This is the first time in your life when you are away from home, and away from the very limited circle of school contemporaries. You could, potentially, meet anyone from any walk of life, and this, for many people, is where friendships for life are formed.

Is it any wonder, in such circumstances, that you might neglect your work? Just a little?

Although the above viewpoint may be a little dated and whimsical, the underlying premise remains.

In summary:

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” - Bertrand Russell


Stealing Ideas

June 18, 2014

‘One can steal ideas, but no one can steal execution or passion.’ – Tim Ferriss

I’m not sure some people get this. Telling someone your idea is not the same as giving the game away, if it is then the idea must be very small indeed.

 


Apple, Microsoft and Google

June 16, 2014

Interesting and lengthy post by Jon Gruber, motivated by the recent Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), which discusses Apple’s CEO Tim Cook’s assertion that:

“Apple engineers platforms, devices, and services together. We do this so that we can create a seamless experience for our users that is unparalleled in the industry. This is something only Apple can do.”

Is this true, though? Is Apple the only company that can do this? I think it’s inarguable that they’re the only company that is doing it, but Cook is saying they’re the only company that can.

Apple, Google, and Microsoft each offer all three things: devices, services, and platforms. But each has a different starting point. With Apple it’s the device. With Microsoft it’s the platform. With Google it’s the services.

And thus all three companies can brag about things that only they can achieve. What Cook is arguing, and which I would say last week’s WWDC exemplified more so than at any point since the original iPhone in 2007, is that there are more advantages to Apple’s approach.

Or, better put, there are potentially more advantages to Apple’s approach, and Tim Cook seems maniacally focused on tapping into that potential.


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