Posts Tagged 'Lateral thinking'

Recession Graph 4 – Bathtub

Optimism required here. Previous posts have called the shape of this recession and economic activity as flat lines off an ‘L’ or wonky lightning. An analyst from UBS sees an uptick. In 2011 or 2012.

Meantime, we’re on the slope of a bath going down to the plug hole. We’re skirting the bumps of the plughole… flat, drop, swirl, clunk up, swirl, clunk up, crawl out, gradual ascent, Olympic climb up the back and out.

And, with reference to my previous post – amazing what you can find on Flickr… dead cat in the bath:

Ted Goes Nuts in the Bathtub by Geoff Penn

And, for those who want to start to explore Flickr’s photo library… this might tickle you… on a bathtub theme… here. (Which reminds me of a funny internet etiquette story, because some guys recently employed a German student as an intern and she thanked them, giving them a Flickr reference which put her demure nature in a whole new light. Do they ask her to return next summer? Where do they put their eyes)!


Malcolm Gladwell in The Week on brainfood

Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Blink, has just released his latest book: Outliers: The Story of Success. Being a wired kinda guy, it’s all collected on his website here.

If you’ve never seen Gladwell’s TED lecture on Spagetti Sauce – and the difference between ‘push marketing’ and mass customisation (aka how choice is good economics)… then click here for a treat.

In this week’s edition of The Week, Gladwell lists six books of essential reading. The amazing thing about the internet is that you can fish the library to get a taste of this ‘stuff’ without even needing to buy the book:

The Blind Side by Michael Lewis – qed google gobsmack… watch this lovely YouTube video trailer for the book

Should I be tested for Cancer? Maybe not and here’s why by HG Welch – (Well, in the case of this book – I googled and got the whole book – click here!

Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner – book and blog click ici.

Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt

Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man by Garry Wills – again, boy, Google have the whole book up on the web!

The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking by Roger Martin – this time, I give you the Wikipedia cheatsheet 


Outliers has an interesting thesis. That there are no geniuses – just people who’ve done 10,000 hours of practise in the right subject at the right time and probably ahead of everyone else. So Mozart was doing more piano, younger… because his dad was a concert player himself. Bill Gates and Paul Allen were doing code in an area of computing in their school holidays, only to have greatness thrust upon them.

Two cliches: ‘Practice makes perfect’ and ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get’. Again, good news for us folk who presume we’re average: keep presuming, keep at it, No Surrender.

Venturesome Economy – the secret of innovation

Was recently reading an interesting book review in the FT of a book called The Venturesome Economy – How innovation sustains prosperity in a more connected World, by Amar Bhide.

The thesis is well worn – that innovation will keep developed economies like the US and UK ahead of the marching hoards of the BRIC economies.

I’ve been quaking that India and China are each spitting out a million MBAs per annum and thinking that my kids will not have any hope in the 2020s because our world will be overrun by the brainboxes of the emerging nations.

Good news for them! And, it chimes with intuitive thoughts I’ve had about our more developed marketplaces… it’s not necessarily the innovation that has kept our economies ahead, it’s the fact that our consumers are more willing to embrace new technology and this ‘venturesome consumption’ which drives the market, which drives the innovators, which drive the economy.

So, here’s to the early adopters of the bleedingly trendy. Here’s to Tweeters on Twitter… to flashmobs, to Huddle, to Six to Start, to Oil Productions, to Velo Agency… to nonsensical fashions in Hoxton, or crazy artists in the Tea Building… it all adds up to a vibrant marketplace that tests, filters, champions.

And, creates progress. And prosperity.


Another blog post picks up the topic here. Saying stuff that I’d pick up – on the public policy context for innovation… should government help start-ups at all? which ones – the big near-successes or the myriad of small/risky?:

The Venturesome Economy

Amar Bhide channels Austan Goolsbee when he writes:

[…] there is little evidence of an “undersupply” or a need for public policies to stimulate the production of more high-level know-how or to subsidize the training of more homegrown scientists and engineers. Rather, given the realities of modern innovation, there is a good argument for reversing policy biases against the development – and even more importantly – the effective use of mid- and ground-level innovations. Public policies should stop trying to rob mid- and ground-level Peters to pay high-level Pauls.

Next Big Thing – Reinvent yourself

Everyone’s got to do it. The Credit Crunch has changed all the rules. You need to reinvent yourself, because those old Pre-Crunch formulas just aren’t adding up.

Ask an Estate Agent. He got hit by the Tsunami first.

Tips from me below?

– Hold hands: As always in life, things seem alot rosier if you have someone who will hold your hand. This is a thread you can input to. I’ll feel less lonely if you can add your own comments. 

– Get a blog and all the cyber-tools (Delicious? LinkedIn? Feedburner? Twitter?). Don’t be slave to them, but realise that all the tools are gaining profile for a reason. Know your reason.

– Get out more: meet people you respect most, tell them your truths and ask them to recommend other people that you should speak to (cf Theory of the Strength of Weak Ties)

– Don’t worry about money, worry about being digital. Dubai, Russia, Brazil, India, China… the talk is that these markets (and what Martin Sorrell called ‘The Next Eleven’ on Radio 4 this morn)… they are emerging markets. But, the new big superpower is the digital continent. You don’t have to upsticks to stake your claim. (I’m blogging this wirelessly from The Diner

– Don’t get too clever. Stick to what you know. With the world’s foundations shaking, you need to get onto safe ground. There’s no better moment in a conversation, for me, than watching someone hit their sweet spot. The thing they feel passionate about. The topic where they lose their inhibitions and self-consciousness – and just spout their expertise. They don’t need your input and won’t be knocked off the track. Because they know they know best. Go there. And take it online. (or to Dubai – whichever you think is least extreme).

– Be a mongrel. Cross pollinate the things you are passionate about. Don’t start in anything that isn’t your comfort zone. Port in a storm. Better the devil you know. Cliches in a recession.

– Be happy. Downshift your expectations of yourself. Look for ways to pat yourself on the back. One pat and you can treat yourself to chocolates or downtime. Two pats and you take the rest of the afternoon off. Happiness is contagious. More contagious than money or love.

– Read history books. In good times, fortunes are made. In bad times, empires. Remember, the hard times are the making of people. Austerity measures are good for the soul. The journey is the reward. (And, there’s nothing new under the sun – so work out what history book to rip off for the ‘next phase’).

– Ignore as much as possible. Sit in your comfort zone and say ‘F*** it‘ to everyone’s silly alternative ideas or the host of bad news out there. In fact, there’s a book on the subject to go along with it. See here. Sent to me by my friend’s yoga teacher, the author. Now sitting on a hill in Italy with two fingers up at his old London adland life.

– Surf the web. In my first attempt to find ‘F*** it’, the book. I found Opens your mind. A bit.

– Back winners. The cream will rise to the top. Because it takes a devil-may-care attitude to troubles. It doesn’t feel risky to be jumping into things that you know well. Go with your gut feel. Take that leap.

Castaway – First night storming success

My quest for the Next Big Thing followed a hunch that a blog isn’t the only modern outreach tool. Beer and peanuts are modern too – ‘cept we call it ‘networking’ and it doesn’t hurt to do more of it when it’s a really great crowd.

Thanks to Big Al’s Creative Emporium, I got a venue in Soho to host a salon for ad veterans, web gurus, PR maestros, media experts, private equity hacks, design gods and widget warriors. A feisty combination of some 30+ real UK industry seniors and a solid kernel for Castaway2, 3, 4…

The connections were really popping – but modesty, exclusivity and privacy forbid me from naming names without your permission. 

The conversation was wide ranging… the need for us all to have our very own Digital Personal Trainer to max the benefit of new online tools; the Google OpenAd model; stories of growth amidst the looming recession; Diigo vs Delicious; the perfect tweed for a 21st century cycling suit (I kid you not)…

Fellow castaways, can you scribble down in the ‘Comments’ section some of the other lines of conversation to share with the rest of the world? Pretty please – and not just Oli Barrett.

I’m now working on AllofUs to host Castaway2 (Sept 24?) and Fortune Cookie to host Castaway3 (Nov 19?). Mail me if you’re interested, especially you folks on the Digital Magic Roundabout in Widgetland EC2-, skimbit, techlightenment, techcrunch, dopplr, trampoline systems, redmonk, songkick… twould be nice to meet you.

BT acquires Ribbit platform to take on Skype?

I’ve watched everyone blog about Cuil this week – taking on Google from Ireland. Flash in the pan?

Bigger UK news of a BT $100m acquisition seems to have gone under the UK blog radar. The blog ReadWriteWeb has 229,000 RSS readers and covered the fascinating story of Ribbit, an open source app allowing users to put a ‘call me’ button on their website and get an instant call centre hook-up. Not a call to a phone, but to your computer skype-like. Cool or what?! (well, that’s how I’m understanding it at first glance… over ReadWriteWeb’s post on the deal.)

TechCrunch blogged it here… they claim that Ribbit has given a ten-fold return to the investors who put in £13m some two and a half years ago. Nice work for VCs Allegis Capital, KPG Ventures and Alsop Louie Ventures!

The interesting case study to explain Ribbit is that you could, for instance, put together a page with a list of hotels for your holiday plans, or your wedding… and instead of clicking thru hypertext to the website, you could click straight thru to make a call to reservations. Neat.

All part of that trend I referenced earlier (Greycroft VC etc) of big tech-media-telecom firms trying to buy the right widgets to leapfrog into the future.

On forecasts and forecasting

Inspired by a blog of Oli Barrett.

My grandfather was an actuary, so a professional mathematician in the insurance industry predicting probability of life expectancy. In a cruel irony, he died by looking the wrong way on Tottenham Court Road, which Londoners will know is a one-way street. He confirmed that nothing was coming in the direction he checked and stepped into the road, only to have a truck confirm that he had looked the wrong way and flatten him.

Was this what forecasters might call a ‘Black Swan Moment’ – an act of randomness or plain human error? I prefer to imagine that, coming in from Suffolk, he’d been aghast at London crowds that summer day (and perhaps the 1980s ladies fashions?!).

Forecasters need to stick with the streets they know.

Charlie’s Twitter status

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