How to be black?

Baratunde Thurston at ROFLCon II
Baratunde Thurston at ROFLCon II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First came across Baratunde Thurston on the TWIT show – as a panellist on Leo Laporte‘s show.  And Leo plugged the book hard.

Just finished listening to the book via Audible.  Have to say thought it was a great listen (and therefore read). Baratunde Thurston is, amongst other things, a black comedian. I found the book thought provoking, stimulating and funny (at times).

Thurston has a very open and positive approach.  And this is also reflected by the panel participants.  In many respects while the subject is ‘black’ the theme could be ‘how to be …anything?’.  The message is that it’s up to the individual to make the experience positive.

Notwithstanding all of this, the book does not shy away from discrimination experienced by black people.  And Thurston’s own upbringing, his father having been shot when he was only a boy, by a far sighted mother who was ambitious for him is well documented.  The combination of attending the private school (Sidwell) while learning about his black roots and customs is brilliantly contrasted.

Well worth taking the time to read or listen to.


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Young entrepreneurs in Ireland

Having struggled though all the bad news about Greece, the Euro, the economy was great to get to ‘You Don;t have to be well-heeled’ on Page 9 of the business section of today’s Sunday Times.  Great report from Sandra O’Connell. If you are a young entrepreneur then Ireland is a great place.

Tara Haughton was an early starter at 15 – but why not?  Seems to me that the web waits for no one – but the corollary is anyone can start any time.  Have a look at the Rosso Solini Shop on line.

The interview with John Egan of Archipelago is great – with references to Sandbox and  The whole idea of ‘Archie Talks’ is great.  I think a lot of this points to the gaps that are there because of our traditional, slow to change, educational systems.  But rather than complain, these initiatives get entrepreneurs and smart people talking and working together.  The World is Flat and these people know it.

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Happiness and emotional intelligence

Attended excellent talk by Adrian Furnham last night at the TCD Science Gallery.

Interesting discussion about the tendency in the workplace to promote engineers, scientists, accountants out of the role which they enjoy and at which they excel into management roles – demanding a completely different skills set.

In some respects reminded me of Charles Handy‘s The Elephant and the Flea.  Explains why many people may be happy to work outside large organisations – focusing on what they like to do (and being more happy).

Enjoyed, as a laymen, the explanation of the different positions on emotional intelligence and how/ whether it can be measured.  Furnham is in the personality traits camp.

Also was interested in the quick review of Seligman’s myths about happiness.

His final answer to adivce on being happy was sound:

  1. Invest HEAVILY in friends/ friendships
  2. Work at something you enjoy
  3. Stay fit and healthy.



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Is Google serious about Docs?

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Have been trying to use google docs for a few days now.  Have struggled through some issues and figured them out.  But now that I have produced a proposal document for a client, using google docs, it seems that I cannot have the cover page configured with different header/ footer and no page number.  And having checked in the google docs fora I see messages such as: ‘Sorry, there is no option to have different headers and footers on the first page. Can you download to Word or Open Office etc. and do the fine formatting there?’

Back to my question: Is Google for real?



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Do technology companies such as Google have a social responsibility?

Read an interesting piece in yesterday’s New York Times.

Google has had this promise of many years: ‘Don’t do evil”.

But the playing field is changing.  Unfortunately the walled gardens are in business e.g. facebook.  This poses real challenges when you want to be able to search against everything of potential relevance but facebook won’t play ball.

Apple is another example of a wwalled garden.  Apple wants us to live in their garden, using their Apple storage and Apple devices.  Another problem for Google.

So can Google prosper and not do evil?

Interesting to see Reid Hoffman of Linkedin commenting.  Linkedin has built up a huge database and network based on data provided by site participants (for the most part not using the paid subscription version of product).  Does Hoffman/ Linkedin have a responsibility to these users?

In many respects the most interesting observation in the article is the reminder that in most cases the creators of new social sites (and other technologies) have very little idea as to what the eventual impact of their invention will be.




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Football coaching sessions and meetings

Have been thinking recently about how we structure a one hour football coaching session as against we run many of our business meetings.

The coaching session – potentially 3 or 4 coaches working with 40 players.  In advance we agree session objectives and roles to be undertaken by each coach in the session.  Perhaps open with 15 mins of warm up and stretching, move to three or four bases – rotate the players through the bases and close out with two mini games – probably with rules/ scoring systems altered to emphasise a particular skill.

We seek to ensure that players enjoy the sessions, that skills are developed and/or tested, that we simulate match situations.  We promote fairness, safety, creativity.

For a meeting may have 4-8 participants, a pre circulated agenda and pre circulated minutes of previous meeting.  Probably also allocate one hour for the meeting.  We spend 15 mins working though previous minutes and action lists, leaving 45 minutes to address the items listed on the agenda.  In theory the meeting should be a lot easier – smaller numbers, advance communication of what will be happening.  But, in my experience the meetings are no where nearly as successful as the one hour coaching sessions.  Why?

Unfortunately many meetings are not focused – what is the objective (or are the objectives) of the meeting?  Why are we meeting?  Do we accomplish our objectives?

The football session will start on time and finish on time.  Players will be active and play many roles.  Players will be tested.  Players will learn.  Many meeting start late, run late, are dominated by longwinded contributions from those who ignore (possibly do not understand) the purpose of the meeting.  and there is no coach to ‘spot and fix’.

I think members of committees who meet on a regular basis have a lot to learn from well structured football (or other sport) coaching.  Meetings need to be born again in many orgnisations.




Pinterest demonstrates that social media continue to evolve

Just starting using Pinterest.

My initial forays remind me a little of when I started with twitter – why am I doing this?  But Pinteret looks like it is gathering traction fast.  Interesting to see that there continues to be room in the web2.0 world for new applications, new platforms.  Twitter, Facebook, FourQquare do not service this market.  They may integrate but the founders of Pinterest have found a new angle, a platform allowing users to interact in a different way.

Karlin Lillington’s review in the Irish Times provides an interesting perspective on the emergence of Pinterest.

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Entrepreneurs – born, fostered or made?

I have worked with a number of different enterpreneurs over the years – in very different sectors (High tech, Catering, Engineering, Pharma).  What distinguished them from others?

The majority had worked for someone else, had seen something they thought they could do better and had the self belief and energy to get out and try to do it for themselves.  Some succeeded, some failed in their venture but most of them are back doing the next one.  They may have had to regroup, take a job, find some time to catch up with the family, but they are looking to get back in the game.

Read David Rowan’s piece about the Paddy Cosgrave F.ounders events.  Have attended a number of Paddy’s events and rubbed shoulders with, chatted with, listened to various entrepreneurs.  Interesting the Rowan references some ideas around the fostering of enterpreneurs – families encouraging kids down certain paths. I suppose this is not really that surprising – when I see the number of excellent sports people who have been started early by their parents.  Why would this not apply in business/ development of entrepreneurs.

Attended a seminar last night about preventing injury in sport – by identifying imbalances/ weaknesses in sports people early on and looking to rebalance these.  I wonder does this potentially have application in business?

At the end of the day I do believe  it has to be in your heart, in your makeup.  So many people see things they could do better but for any number of reasons choose to focus on something else.  However education and development systems which encourage people to think through alternatives, think about how they might develop/ implement the alternatives, will help foster entrepreneurs.

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Do not track me

Well, looks like public concerns about being tracked, spied on and reported on are beginning to have some impact.

The IT industry is obviously hugely powerful and influential – but people are less and less comfortbale about what is going on.

I have read a lot of stuff suggesting that the f generation are happy to share lots more information – that effectively they are not worried about privacy.  Seems like a lot of tosh to me – given how offended many young people are when casual snaps of them are posted on social networks such as facebook.  Of course it suits MZ to push the line that none of this is an issue – the fact is that it is an issue.

Excellent piece from the Wall Street Journal updating on developments with the large technology companies.  Looks like Google on board to play ball.




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Impact of YouTube – is it only beginning?

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Read a great piece reviewing history and recent developments in YouTube: Streaming Dreams.

We are all very familiar with YouTube – home video, music videos, links published in emails and on Facebook pages.  However John Seabrook paints a picture of the ambition of Google for YouTube – in competing with mainstream television for your time and the dollars of the advertisers.

Will be very interesting to watch the development of commercially produced content (lots of channels referenced in the article) including programmes developed specifically for distribution via YouTube.

We’ve seen the developments which have led to so many people struggling to read books, watch longer movies and television documentaries.  YouTube in many ways has been part of this – watch three minutes not 60 minutes.  However now we seem to be witnessing YouTube partly trying to morph to the longer format.  Three minutes is a good format for getting you to watch when you’re not supposed to be watching e.g. in work; but to sell lots of advertising (in the current environment) want you to stay for more than three minutes.

I just wonder of YouTube is missing a trick.  I think the big challenge for all of us is getting quality from all the distractions.  Yes – distract me, challenge me, stimulate me.  But I only have so many waking hours in the day.  I need environments such as YouTube to satisfy me – have I really been satisfied having spent x minutes in this environment?  If I have then surely I will look to spend more time there.


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