Bruce Springsteen's latest album 'Wrecking Ball' is full of fighting spirit. It's a man's view of the world today and a reminder that we need to keep working to make it a better place for everyone. At the recent SXSW, Springsteen talked about essence of music: creativity.
"The purity of human expression and experience is not confined to guitars, to tubes, to turntables, to microchips. There is no right way, no pure way, of doing. There is just doing."
I agree. The unreasonable power of creativity makes things happen.
Predicting the good, bad and ugly impacts of computer gaming is keeping a lot of brain researchers in business. When your subject of inquiry is a market involving many billions of dollars, you're onto something.
As expected with something so absorbing as games, the positive and negatives indicated are wide-ranging, covering everything from better hand-eye coordination in surgeons to associating compulsive gaming with being overweight, introverted and prone to depression. As a drumbeater for increasing moments of joy, I see fun on screens as a big positive, and figure the range of checks and balances on modern lifestyles will expand as the research vampires and others sink their teeth into these subjects.
I like the outcome of a November-reported study from Michigan State University's Children and Technology Project. It appears almost any computer game boosts a child’s creativity. Gender, race and kind of game didn't enter into it. However - in the study - using cellphones, the Internet or computers for other purposes did not affect creativity. Hold the phone, there’s a lot more to be discovered about games as the Screen revolution rages.
With the launch of its "failure week London's Wimbledon High School is teaching its pupils to embrace risk, give things a go and not be afraid of the unknown". As one of the UK's top girls' schools the focus is to ensure that students understand that failure is a normal part of life and learn the merits of not succeeding all the time. Over the course of the week, pupils attend workshops and assemblies, as well as hear stories of their own parents' and teachers' failures.
When Headmistress Heather Hanbury arrived at the school four years ago, she made a commitment to developing the resilience and robustness of her students. Some were so focused on academic success that the fear of failure was crippling them. Conscious of ensuring the stress doesn’t get the best of the girls, "failure week" is an attempt to teach her pupils how to 'fail better'.
It's not just young people who are afraid of failure. No matter what your age, a lot can be learned about overcoming your fears by listening to other people's stories. Want to get inspired? Take a look at these videos from Stockholm's Berghs School of Communication where some of the world's most loved creators like Stefan Sagmeister and Paulo Coelho share their experiences.
If you're looking to lower your stress levels, improve your health and live longer, the antidote may be as simple as learning to smile more. Entrepreneur and health advocate, Ron Gutman gave a TED talk last year that distilled 200 years of research into the science of smiling into a seven minute presentation. Gutman delves into studies from around the world and presented countless reasons why we should commit to smiling more. Who would have thought that:
I’m a Blues fan for life and though I love Manchester City, I can say that Lionel Messi is probably the best footballer in the world at the moment. The Argentine football sensation has just won about every award and accolade in the sport. Here are five outtakes from his success.
Ever found yourself staring at a to-do list that never seems to get finished? Well you’re not alone. The list wasn’t famously described as the “origin of culture” by Umberto Eco for nothing – it’s the tool of our subconscious minds use to help ensure we get things done.
I recently wrote about Willpower: Rediscovering Our Greatest Strength, and in addition to helping people improve their willpower, the book explores both the history of the humble to-do list and how we can make the most of this tool.
The to-do list has been a part of everyday life for millennia – everyone from the crafters of the Bible to Drew Carey has used them to achieve their goals. But despite being such a fundamental organizational tool, people are still working out how to make list work for them and create fulfillment instead of frustration.
Thankfully, by analyzing the history of the to-do list, the authors of the book give three tips to make your list fail-proof. According to them, your list should be:
Bryan Stewart is an Amsterdam-based designer who created a typeface as unique as his DNA. Stewart wrote the letters A to Z on his skin using black ink, picking up the creases and lines on his epidermis to create his very own 'skin type'. As I write most of my notes and messages to people by hand this project got me thinking about the uniqueness of handwriting.
Handwriting analysis, or graphology, is an intriguing practice that delivers some impressive insights into people’s personalities. It's a specialized art, but there are some basic traits even us amateurs can pick up on. Does your handwriting lean forward? Then you're typically caring, warm and outgoing. Slant backward? You're observant and typically conceal your emotions. No slant at all? You're practical and keep your emotions in check.
At the Florida International University, a study was carried out to see if handwriting had any relation to future success. Children in different age groups had their penmanship skills assessed along with their grades, and kids with better writing showed to deliver higher test scores. However, what about doctors who are known to have often illegible handwriting? Time constraints and habit are apparently to blame for this, but I wouldn't take the quality of one's handwriting as a prediction of the future. It may reveal a lot about your character traits, but good penmanship skills can be acquired with practice.
Neuroscientist Richard Davidson is a big fan of emotion. For over thirty years, he has been researching and writing about the relationship between the brain and emotion, and how certain types of mental activity, such as meditation, have the ability to induce changes in the brain.
In his book on the emotional brain, Davidson outlines how we can make better sense of how we feel and what we can do to change the way our brain processes emotion. As the brain is plastic (it has the ability to rewire itself through experience, stimulation and learning) we can use specific training strategies to change how we feel in particular situations. "We can take responsibility for our own brain," says Davidson in an interview. "Often, we leave our emotional patterns to happenstance and we don't intentionally cultivate them. But we shouldn’t think of emotional style as any different than cognitive skills, or activities with a tradition of intentional training."
Knowing of my passion for music Phil Rubel, CEO at Saatchi & Saatchi Fallon Tokyo, put me on to this curious study. Did you know that there is a mathematical formula in Western music? A team of researchers from McGill and Stanford analyzed over 2,000 pieces of music by more than 40 different composers over the last 400 years and found that it's the rhythm in the tune that people respond to and enjoy. Rhythm gets repeated in music and is the thing that babies, youth in nightclubs and people at weddings get up and move to. The study also revealed that all the composers who were studied had their own unique internal rhythmic signature but conformed to the same mathematical formula when creating their music. What is fascinating is that this 'fractal' rhythm also occurs in nature. Think of the repetitive patterns in snowflakes and prisms of light.
It has been a year since Japan experienced one of the worst natural disasters in history, but their drive to succeed and hard working ethos has kept the country ticking though hard times. In a recent presentation on Japan's Best Global Brands, Interbrand's Global Chief Executive Officer, Jez Frampton, asked his audience two important questions:
MIT is better known as a prestigious hub of technology and entrepreneurship than a meeting place for sports. Its Sloan School of Business has turned out many great business innovators and leaders, but few professional athletes.
Over a weekend at the start of March more than 100 speakers and 2,000 audience attended the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston to discuss the business of sport and how innovation and creativity can take it to the next level. One part of the conference that caught my interest is the 'Evolution of Sport', where presenters have 20 minutes to present an idea that could change how sport is played in the future. The Best Talk award went to Stanford University Biomechanical Engineering student Muthu Alagappan for "Redefining the positions in basketball". Other topics included Mixed Martial Arts, concussions, the force of slam dunks, automated journalism, the America’s Cup and NASCAR driver development. These presentations are original, thought-provoking, innovative, and make us see athletic capability in a whole new light. Other conference presentations topics ranged from training the athletic brain, to the effects of fan passion (fanalytics) and the power of belief.
Innovation in sport can do a lot to change the way a game is played, but fundamentally it still boils down to commitment and passion. Great athletes have the tenacity to push themselves to the limits in pursuit of being the best they can be, but it takes creativity and the courage to try new ways to get to the finish line.
On the West Coast our SaatchiLA agency posed a world-changing question ahead of the recent South by Southwest Festival: what if we make a bike inspired by the Toyota Prius (SaatchiLA has led Prius advertising in the USA since day 1). The result? The Prius X Parlee (PXP) bike. Toyota Prius Projects is an initiative developed to create conversations and advocacy within new consumer niches. Toyota has a long history of sharing their innovations to improve our way of life, and the PXP concept bike is no exception. It features eco-friendly materials, comfort, efficiency and groundbreaking technology - including a helmet that enables a cyclist to switch gears through "thought-sensitive" technology. This first-of-its-kind bicycle helmet was developed in partnership with Deeplocal, and the bicycle design was developed with Parlee. This video takes you behind the scenes during the brainstorming, development, testing and execution of the coolest bike ever made.
Meanwhile out East in New York, having a bike stolen - or 'involuntarily downgraded' - goes with the urban territory. For that matter, it goes with a whole bunch of territories in which a victim feels financially and morally distraught, and where the authorities will be more concerned about grand theft auto and violations of people before property.
This intriguing video provides a window into the nonchalance (or probably fear to intervene) people have when a property violation is a stranger's problem. Carrying a lock that's half the weight and cost of your bike is not ideal. Bike hiring or sharing is one way to go with various spinoff benefits, assuming it's available in your neighborhood. When it comes to your own beloved bike there's usually no easy answer. Given the global urbanization mega-trend, let the creative call go out to cities to invent, provide or share the cost-effective super solution. No doubt variations of this are already underway somewhere. Bring on the universal mass-producible viable everywhere-usable lockable magic bike stand, the invisible safely-parked bike, or its brilliant equivalent.
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