Monday, August 31, 2015

Stroke of Genius

The origin of ‘genius’ is Latin, ‘attendant spirit present from one's birth, innate ability or inclination’. It implies natural ability, though the jury is still out – many would argue that genius exists in all of us. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’ he suggests that it takes 10 years or 10,000 hours of dedicated practice for people to master most difficult endeavors, a theory originally proposed by psychologist Anders Ericsson.

An opposing theory by psychology professor Dean Keith Simonton is that practice helps but it’s not enough on its own, and that intelligence is a necessary condition for creating genius. Simonton defines a genius as someone who has “the intelligence, enthusiasm, and endurance to acquire the needed expertise in a broadly valued domain of achievement.”

Thomas Frith has the whole package. He’s the stand-out star of ‘Child Genius’, a UK television series that involves 7-12 year olds competing for the title of child genius of the year.

At the age of two Thomas woke his mother up in the middle of the night to tell her he’d just counted to 503. She told him to go back to bed and do it in French, and then backwards in German. At the age of three he memorized the times tables. Now, at only 12 years of age, Thomas has read ‘Ulysses’; plays the piano, cello, trombone and bassoon; plays football, table tennis and rugby; and is passionate about double chess (playing two games at the same time).

Thomas has an IQ of 162, higher than Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein.  Mensa, the largest and oldest high IQ society, restricts membership to people with an IQ of 130 or above, which equates to around 2% of the population. Remarkably, at only 12 years of age, Thomas’ IQ means he falls in the 0.003 percentile.

“Intelligence, enthusiasm, and endurance” seems to epitomize Thomas. Far from the stereotype of a maths geek, he is described as “sunny, funny and philosophical.” Wise beyond his years, he understands the genius in storytelling. On books, he says, “Separating the world into facts lacks truth. Just stringing facts together doesn’t describe the world as people know it and experience it.”

Image attribute/source: Thomas Frith /

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Wise Words

We can’t win this World Cup by having something ordinary – we have to bring something extraordinary.

All Blacks Head Coach, Steve Hansen.


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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dinner for One

Cooking for one doesn’t have to mean eggs on toast. Nor does it have to mean cooking something and eating it for five days straight. Nor does it have to mean the old ‘what am I going to have for dinner tonight’ chestnut, whiling away precious minutes of the day, trawling the aisles of the supermarket for inspiration. (Of course, it’s not only solo diners who suffer from this!)

I’m Chairman of My Food Bag recently we launched My Own Food Bag. It’s My Food Bag for one. Good news for one-person households, which are projected to be the fastest-growing household type, estimated to account for almost one-third of all households by 2031.

The My Own Food Bag meal options are full of seasonal quality ingredients for the single diner to cook at home, including four quick and delicious recipes to feed one adult for three nights, and to feed two adults for one night, opening the door to a weekly visitor, or a guest appearance at the dinner table, or tasty leftovers for lunch the following day. I like it.

My Food Bag now offers six different weekly food packages that cater to different households and real people and what they want and need. They worry about what you’re having for dinner, so that you don’t have to. If you’re worried about what someone else is having for dinner, My Food Bag can help them too.

The idiom ‘hit the nail on the head’ doesn’t need a lot of explanation. I think it fits the bill for My Food Bag.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Think Broader, Closer, Younger

Tony Fadell is known as the mercurial “godfather” of the iPod and described as a born tinkerer with a combative reputation. His passion for life and design is contagious. In a recent TED Talk he spoke about the little things humans notice at first and perhaps become slightly perturbed by, and then invariably stop noticing as we get used to them, through a process called habituation. As a designer, he wants to fix those little things, by trying “to see the world the way it really is, not the way we think it is. Why? Because it’s easy to solve a problem that almost everyone sees. But it’s hard to solve a problem that almost no one sees.”

The tips he offers for ‘fixing’ habituation reflect his creative approach, his meticulous attention to detail and his drive to make the world a better place through design. First, look broader. Take a step back and consider the elements of a project or problem…consider removing one or combining them. Second, look closer. Focus on the tiny details that you typically overlook. Can you fix them? Would it make a difference to the consumer? Third, think younger. What would a child ask or say? Encourage the young minds around you to contribute. Ensure they’re part of your team.

After leaving Apple and taking a break, Fadell founded Nest, which “reinvents unloved but important home products” with a focus on “delighting consumers with simple, beautiful and thoughtful hardware, software and services.” He sold it to Google last year, but not before making some serious progress towards disrupting technology in your home in the best possible way.

Fadell talks about the future of the internet in a recent article on The Wall Street Journal. “Like a library,” he says, so long as you know where to look or you know the right question to task. He predicts that soon it “will be everywhere and in everything,” helping us to make more informed decisions as we navigate our way through daily life.

For those of us who are connected to the internet (note that apparently 4.4 billion people worldwide are still offline) it’s quickly becoming one of life’s necessities, right up there with our physiological needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy. But it’s not just people who will be more connected in the future. Devices will be too. Of course, computers and phones, but also appliances and armchairs. One of the major transitions that we’re going to see is a move from a reactive approach (where the internet will do things when we tell it to) to a proactive approach (where the internet will do things before we tell it to).

The future for Fadell seems big. Why doesn’t he just sit back and bask in the already hugely successful products of his labor? “I gotta keep growing,” he says. “Because I’m old, but I’m not that old. I’ve still got a lot of years ahead of me, and I’m not just going to sit here.”

Image attribute/source: Tony_Fadell /

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Rise of the Global Cosmopolitans

The world is an oyster to a growing number of people who have lived, worked and travelled across the globe and across different cultures. “The technological revolution has made it not just possible, but even routine for people to establish roots and maintain ties across great distances,” says Linda Brimm, INSEAD Emeritus Professor of Organizational Behavior and author of Global Cosmopolitans.

Brimm argues that there are certain qualities that bind Global Cosmopolitans together, which have been honed through their journeys, experiences and the complexities that they face. For example, Global Cosmopolitans:
  • Have adaptive capacity, which expands as a result of having to adapt to new situations and experiences, and learning new skills. They thrive in new circumstances because their reflexes are already agile and loosened up.
  • Have relational awareness, are skilled at making connections and adept at dealing with different types of people and problems.
  • See change as an opportunity. Humans are creatures of habit, and most people will agree that change is hard. Global Cosmopolitans embrace change and express ambivalence about leaving things behind.
  • Have observational capacity and are naturally curious, which means they’re good at finding things out. This helps with integration in foreign countries, where obtaining cultural knowledge is key.
  • Use kaleidoscope thinking. They’re experts at shaking up their point of view and challenging conventional patterns of thinking, by looking at life from a different perspective.
These qualities are becoming more and more desirable in the workplace, where change and diversity are growing management challenges. Brimm explains, “This is a global workforce that knows what it’s like to come to a new school, a new city, country, make a new life and feel that sudden loss of identity. They become masters of recreation and reinvention and the ability to integrate into a new situation with the capacity to maintain a sense of their own identity.”

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Monday, August 24, 2015

25x 25 at MoMA

The Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase and the ‘experiment in film’ 25x25 will screen at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Tuesday night. Debuted at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June (px above), the showcase features the short films of 14 emergent directors, and 25 acclaimed directors who are alumni of the New Directors’ Showcase over the 25 years it has been curated and produced by Saatchi & Saatchi.

25x25 has been created by Antoine Bardou-Jacquet, Carl Erik Rinsch, Charlie Robins, Daniel Kleinman, Daniel Wolfe, Dante Ariola, David Wilson, Dawn Shadforth, Dougal Wilson, Floria Sigismondi, Fredrik Bond, Ilya Naishuller, Ivan Zachariàŝ, Jake Scott, James Rouse, Jamie Rafn, Jonathan Glazer, Michel Gondry, ne-o, Noam Murro, Philippe André, Ringan Ledwidge, Tim Bullock, Traktor, Vania Heymann. Each director has created a minute long film. The secret is how they all tie together. Casts and crews also to be applauded.

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