My modern aphorisms. Number 2: allowing spiritual Facebook memes to influence you

If a spiritual or philosophical Facebook meme contains the word, ‘you’, it is almost guaranteed to cause you a twinge of shame or guilt even though its apparent purpose is to help you become a better person, thus subverting its original purpose. Do not pay any attention to spiritual or philosophical memes with ‘you’ as the main subject.

What I wish to have revived: the teasmade


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Going Obsolete.”

Re-design and re-launch the teasmade. Use phones, apple watches, computers. Use web services; use ifttt or zapier. Hook them up to a quality, powerful but beautiful digital radio and media processor in a polished wood or fancy steel casing. Include a unit that heats water, and a mechanism that pours the water into a pot. Make it all cool and Japanese. Or get some genius modern industrial designer and distribute it under the V&A or MOMA brands.

This is what a teasmade looks now. Sad, isn’t it?

teasmade new

This is a Hawkins teasmade from the modern era; sometime between 1930 and 1950. I once lowballed someone on Ebay and nearly bought it for $70. (This is when I learned my lesson about lowballing beauty)

hawkins teasmade

That is all.

Just Add Sunlight

Information about me – as part of a Masters of Entrereneurship at Swinburne, which I commenced in 2004, dropped out of in 2006 and recommenced in 2014. It sounds a bit egotistical unless you realise I was following directions from the lecturer about which elements to include in the assignment. I created and wrote this in a day or so.

Just Add Sunlight

Just Add Sunlight is the title of Assignment 1 for ENT60005 Creativity and Innovation, part of my mission to complete the Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation course.

Creativity needs no money, and sometimes needs no time, but it doesn’t happen without sunlight or heat – and a rising agent – (but more about that later). Got a problem that’s taking you down, down, down? Just shine some light on it, and up comes the beginning of the answer, the first dot in a series of dots to join, or perhaps the missing ingredient, a single missing element in a complicated problem, or the missing colour in a boring but sound idea.

Sunlight is really diluted fire from the sun. When one is in the middle of a creative storm, one is said to be ‘on fire’; people talk of change-making, innovative leadership as being born in a crucible; people are said to…

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Calls For Aboriginal Juvenile To Be Shot For Target Practice After Public Shaming By NT Police – New Matilda

I am so very ashamed of the harm and misery our fellow Australians advocate and cause to children and vulnerable people. How do we not turn our gaze away when we live so far removed from the violence? How can we intervene apart from protests, money and petitions?

Once upon a time, you could visit someone and sit by their side (could you? am I just imagining it?) to comfort them but the violence is from governments now and they can place the vulnerable so far away from anyone else that there are suddenly two distinct realities – such as my reality and the reality of these people in the New Matilda article.

Out in social media land, let’s be always mindful that our views get skewed by our own feed and it’s worth not getting to entrenched into conflicts less we give up our ability to influence their views and to soften them towards civilisation..

Fashions in entrepreneurship: the pivot versus persistence

threesThe headline says it all, really. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of the pivot and the idea of persistence. In previous eras, before the networked, coded world, targeted, two-way communication was so hard. You could do focus groups or surveys, you could interview elders or spy on the competition, but short of having a tilt at an actual product release, there was no way of knowing whether your new venture or product was going to succeed. There was no ‘stealth mode’, because it was hard enough to get the word out to the right people at the right time; stealth mode is a feature of hyper-networked, niche markets and people who talk too much on social media. (Stealth mode isn’t really a thing for most women and people from migrant backgrounds, because we just don’t get taken seriously in the first place. So intellectual property protection is pretty cheap for us in the initial parts of building something grand). The idea of the pivot – taken from the combination of agile development and market-driven product development – is brilliant and liberating. When I wrote a style guide for a large telco in the year 2000, its rallying cry was based on the Cluetrain Manifesto, which at the time was radical for promoting the idea that markets were “conversations”. Nobody really believed it, but the execs at the telco thought it sounded great and suited the tastes of their target market, so they went for it. It took the practical implementation of message boards, email, social media, advanced and stable ecommerce and cloud computing generating accurate data for consumer marketers and their ugly cousins, tech entrepreneurs, to get to the stage where the feedback necessary for the pivot was available cheaply and easily. So now, in principle, instead of coming up with a product and hoping everyone likes it, you can just get to know your market really well and expose your ideas to it until you hit on something that really sings a song to them, that touches some need or some value. I came into adulthood in the late 80’s, when management and self-improvement books were beginning to boom. The lesson they taught, over and over again, was because you can’t really know in advance whether your idea is going to work out, you should hang in there. Never, ever give up. Surrender is not an option. Throw your hat over the wall. But the problem is this: how do you create world-changing products or services without making a series of wild guesses? Everything is otherwise either derivative of something else that already exists, or created using the limited attention span and design skill of the customer. But it’s not the customer’s job to design products, it’s yours as an entrepreneur. Customers did not come up with the graphical user interface. Customers did not come up with flat pack furniture. Customers did not wake up knowing they’d like spending half their waking hours playing Threes. I think it’s my job as an entrepreneur to walk the line between the idea of the pivot (humility) and the ideal of not quitting (a kind of hubris). The only way to walk this line successfully is to be constantly learning – learning new technical things, and reading up about ideas – and being curious in the midst of it all. Imagine there are two lines on a graph. Measure 1 is the desires of the customer to have a particular problem solved, and my interest in solving it for them (respect for customer) and measure 2 is the inherent beauty or truth or rectitude of a design or concept (artistic/egotistical creation).The point at which the two lines cross is theoretically the sweet spot, where my care for the customer is neatly balanced against the creative energy required to come up with an answer. Not so much a compromise but a point at which the two strengths are at their greatest, in terms of the likelihood of a product succeeding. In the meantime, my customers say they want what I’m developing, but will they still love the idea when we push it out? Maybe yes and maybe no. In the meantime, I’m going to go back to the 80’s and say to myself “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.”

Update 23 June 2015. Just read a post by Steve Blank about whether pivots really matter – and they sure do. Anyway, here’s another take on pivots: Do Pivots Matter?

I have a problem with the neddies. No. Actually, I have a problem with hypocrisy

ImageI am getting really tired of the slack arguments against thoroughbred racing. 

(Except obviously those made by vegans – so please this rant is not for you, vegans).

1.It makes you SAD! – oh dear, so it must be wrong that 50% of horses are killed? (Or whatever the figure is) What about the 100% of beef cattle, the 100% of lamb bred for meat, the 100% of broiler chickens? Oh, that’s okay! Why? They never even get out for a good gallop like the horses do. Their short lives are probably ten times worse. But people don’t wear fancy hats and have a good time near them, so it doesn’t count?Image

2. You hate the waste? Oh dear! But you wouldn’t dream of eating offal, pigs’ trotters, etc or learning how to cook the tough meat of old, tired breeding animals. Oh, not YOUR waste! The waste of the people in the fancy hats having a good time.

3. You have a sweet dog at home and you hate cruelty to animals? Yeah, but the dog doesn’t ever get let off the leash at the dog park, never gets to sniff or roll in really horrible smells – in short, never gets to be a real dog. But he’s kept alive and physically healthy. But we’re not talking about you not getting off your arse, putting on some old trackies and taking your dog out; we’re talking about those other people, in the fancy hats.

Our western problems with death are absurd. Us meat eaters cause living things to be killed EVERY day to put on your plate. You cause waste and you cause boring or uncomfortable lives for animals, yet your feelings of discomfort are basically tied to your own convenience. And your problem with those OTHER people having a good time in fancy hats.

I have a long-standing ethical problem: I eat meat, but it does not fit with my other values. This is my problem. It will take me years to sort out, but I am not going to outsource it to my feelings of envy over people having a good time in fancy hats, or outrage and guilt over something I can’t control like horse racing. Put up or shut up.