Friday, May 26, 2017

This week in New Orleans and Manchester


Poet, friend, Robin Dyke writes:

Won’t You be My Neighbor


If wishes were helpers, how we’d abide.

The tale, two cities in best and worst of times.

Humanity sought and illuminated in one,

its vicious darkness exploded in the other.



In New Orleans the city which begat jazz,

monuments to a racist war come down.

Deliberate restoration, hope’s future

in one empathetic step eases forward.



Jim Crow holds hesitant to full embrace;

lynch the officials the confederate cry.

Their hatred still a snake of poison with us

coiled in a corner, its shadow skulks



In Manchester, an open, inclusive metropolis

the commodity of carnage crusades in stealth.

A cult of harm, indiscriminate of cause

lurches in self-loathing on its perverse path.



In the caldron moment, the helpers,

good neighbors, right where they need to be.

Instinctive as humanity’s first responders,

unpremeditated assistance, comfort.



And so the spectrum since the garden goes.

To love your neighbor much harder,

than to hate? Out of many, are we truly

one? Awakened or immune we rally on.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Manchester

Mark Nelson, Northern Powerhouse Artist

“The bloody scene is bloody sad.
The bloody news is bloody bad.”

Manchester poet John Cooper Clarke this morning as the death toll rises. 22 with 58 in grave/critical condition.

Philip Collins writing in The Times reminds us:

  • Disraeli called Manchester ‘the philosophical capital of the world.’
  • The Manchester school advocated free trade and democracy.
  • The City stood, and stands, wholly in opposition to Monday’s nihilism.
  • On June 15, 1996 the IRA exploded the largest ever bomb exploded in Britain, complete with 1,000 foot mushroom cloud. 212 people injured.
  • The City completely regenerated following this atrocity. From a failed industrial city into a cosmopolitan open inclusive metropolis.
  • Manchester was the home of Free Speech. From John Bright the Quaker, to suffragette Christabel Pankhurst in 1904 to Bob Dylan’s electric guitar in 1966 (this Judas moment!).
  • Manchester has the highest Jewish population outside London, vast Irish contingent, and the 4 percent of the City who are Muslim have been welcomed as good Mancunians.
  • Shelley said – after the St Peter’s Field Massacre in August 1819, with 11 killed and 600 injured by cavalry charging the 60,000 assembled arguing for parliamentary representation, the people of Manchester “Rise like Lions after slumber, in unvanquishable number.”

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A black day




A black day for Manchester.

And for Humanity.





Monday, May 22, 2017

Have you filled a Bucket today?


Ten years ago I picked up a story book – aimed at kids four – nine, by Carol McCloud and couldn’t put it down.  I was in Jaffé and Neale’s eclectic, independent bookstore in Chipping Norton last weekend where I stumbled upon two copies of the 10th Anniversary edition which I picked up for grandkids Kendall and Chloe.

The humble Bucket book has turned into a Bucket Fillosophy with seven companion books available from bucketfillers101.com.

Like all great ideas, bucket-filling is a simple concept – it’s designed to help kids understand how easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation and love by ‘filling buckets’.

In our 24x7 VUCA world we sometimes forget how unconditional generosity and random acts of kindness can make all concerned feel more positive and happier.

Personal wellbeing is a key element in sustainable peak performance – and filling buckets is one of the ten most potent behaviours in building our own wellbeing – and thus our own performance.

Wellbeing is important because:
  • It energises positivity and commitment to Purpose,
  • It enhances flow, productivity and performance,
  • The best companies to work for deliberately create happy work environments,
  • Happy companies significantly outperform their peer group.
And here are the ten things I mentioned earlier:
  1. Progress towards meaningful goals contributes significantly to happiness,
  2. Happy people take time to do things that give them pleasure,
  3. Quality time with friends and family is top of the happiness list,
  4. Doing altruistic things for others creates enduring happiness,
  5. Expressing gratitude enhances your own wellbeing and that of the recipient,
  6. Regular exercise increases happiness,
  7. Positive experiences tend to provide more enduring happiness than tangible purchases,
  8. Beyond satisfaction of needs, more money does not make people significantly happier,
  9. People quickly adapt to material advances,
  10. We get little enduring pleasure from short cuts.
Keep filling buckets and your bucket will always be full.

KR

Friday, May 19, 2017

Putting Life Onstage, but Bigger

Broadway is a blast. From the frothy tour de force of Bette Midler in "Hello Dolly" to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop historical “Hamilton” to the wrenching heartache of Arthur Miller’s “The Price,” Broadway stretches the heart and head in every direction. Broadway is a feast for the ears and the eyes. There is an instructive interview in Backstage by Casey Mink with Tony-nominated scenic designer David Korins (“Hamilton”) about visual storytelling. Korins has currently conjured the glamorous world of makeup mavens Helena Rubenstein and Elizbeth Arden in Broadway’s “War Paint,” starring stage legends Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole. Here are insights into the creative world of the set designer:

Putting life onstage—but bigger
“Set design is a master class in humanity and in psychology. Some advice [for getting into set design] is see as many pieces of theater as you can, read as many books as you can, see as many movies, and watch as many television shows as you can. Immerse yourself in culture in general. What we do is put life onstage, but bigger. To become a designer is to become a consummate and professional storyteller. I think the people who tell the stories best are the ones who listen to stories the best.”

Scenic designers are credited with everything but the actors

“If you ripped the ceiling off of the theater and dumped the building upside down, everything that falls out that isn’t an actor is the work that I make. I create the environment for a show or an experience and I sort of conjure up the entire world.”

Collaboration with actors is give and take

“I welcome collaboration with performers. It’s such an interesting conversation to have when someone says, ‘I know why you chose this lamp, but here’s why it throws me off.’ I might push back, [but] that give and take is where the magic of theatricality happens. There might be a tiny detail on the back of a phone or something only the actor sees, but that detail does inform their performance, and the audience feels it.”

Actors get to know the set better than the designer
“Inevitably, I throw a dart at the dartboard a year before we build this thing, and then on the first day of rehearsal I say to [the actors], ‘Here’s what I did,’ and they have to bend their performances around the physical space I’ve created. The nuances and the ‘eyelashes,’ as opposed to the ‘jawbones,’ are things they’re in control of. I’m happy to have them be in control, because by the end of the experience, they will know so much more about the physical space than I ever will…. Probably the biggest compliment I’ve ever gotten in this business is someone saying to me, ‘When I walk onto your stage, I don’t need to do any character development work because I know exactly who I am and who I’m playing.’ ”

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Brief Book, Big Message

ROI – Return on Investment – is one of the epic idea-killers in the corporate playbook. Initiatives to engage in pure research, and creativity for the sake of it, usually get quashed at the starting gate by the ‘Abominable No Man.’ In my early years of leading Saatchi & Saatchi I asked a searching question “What comes after brands?” I didn’t ask for a business plan, a delivery timetable, or an implementation matrix. I just wrote a check, and another one, and another…the result was Lovemarks and it was a sustaining idea for the company for several years.

“The Usefulness of Useful Knowledge” is a small book with a big message by Robbert Dijkgraaf, a mathematical physicist who specializes on string theory. He is Director and Leon Levy Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, established in 1930 with Albert Einstein as one of its first professors. The first half of the book comprises an essay by Dikjgraaf, followed by the 1939 essay “The Usefulness of Useful Knowledge” by the IAS’s founding director Abraham Flexner. Both essays are passionate and powerful advocacies for the unobstructed search for “answers to deep questions, motivated solely by curiosity and without concern for application.” Such a source “often leads not only to the greatest scientific discoveries but also to the most revolutionary breakthroughs. In short, no quantum mechanics, no computer chips.” Some choice quotes from Dikjgraff’s essay:

“In the early twentieth century study of the atom and the development of quantum mechanics were seen as a theoretical playground for a handful of often remarkably young physicists with little immediate consequences. The birth of quantum physics was long and painful. However, without quantum theory, we wouldn’t understand the nature of any material, including its color, texture, and chemical and nuclear properties. These days, in a world totally dependent on microprocessors, lasers and nanotechnology, it has been estimated that 30 percent of the U.S. gross national product is based on inventions made possible by quantum mechanics.”

“The life sciences provide perhaps the richest source of powerful practical implications of fundamental discoveries. One of the least known success stories in human history is how over the past two and a half centuries advances in medicine and hygiene have tripled life expectancy in the West…We should never forget that these groundbreaking discoveries, with their immense consequences for health and diseases, were products of addressing deep basic questions about living systems, without any thoughts of immediate applications.”

“There is a famous, but most likely apocryphal, anecdote that when William Gladstone, then the Chancellor of the Exchequer, visited the laboratory of Faraday in the 1850s and inquired what practical good his experiments in electricity would bring the nation, Faraday answered, “One day, Sir, you may tax it.” The equations were never patented, but it is hard to think of any human endeavor that doesn’t make use of electricity or wireless communication. Over a century and a half, almost all aspects of our lives have literally been electrified.”

“The Usefulness of Useful Knowledge” is a call for courage: for leaders, investors, financiers, government ministers and policy-makes…to just write the check.