Thursday, July 30, 2015

Summer Novels


Summer novels are here. Legendary espionage maestro and assassin Gabriel Allon leads the way in Daniel Silva's The English Spy. ‘

“That’s the problem with revenge, Christopher. It never makes you feel better.”

“That’s true,” said Keller. “And I’m just getting started.”

And try Don Winslow’s powerful drug fight back follow up to the amazing ‘Power of the Dog’ – The Cartel.

Andreas Norman’s  Into A Raging Blaze is a worth a read too…”Your friends are not who they say they are.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The World As We Know It


One hundred years ago something changed dramatically the course of photography…the first Leica was born. Leica took the camera out of the studio and placed it into real life. We were able to see, to feel, to smell…thousands of moments. It became an extension of the eye of the photographer. Joy, pain, ordinary things, fear, losers, winners, misery… The most iconic images in history, even the ones that weren’t taken with a Leica, were taken because of the Leica.

The Leica made photography accessible. It gave people the ability to augment real life, personally, by capturing the banal and the beautiful in one single shot. Not only that, it gave us a glimpse into how other people see the world, and a view of the world that we might never have been able to see with the naked eye.  Visual artist John Paul Caponigro explains: “Because of photography the world of images became more like the way we see it and our understanding of the world itself became less like the way we see it.”

One-hundred years on, photographs continue to transport us into unseen and unimaginable worlds. Images have power. “By wresting a precious particle of the world from time and space and holding it absolutely still, a great photograph can explode the totality of our world, such that we never see it quite the same again,” said Robert Draper, contributing writer for the National Geographic. In much the same way that the Leica did in 1925, today the smartphone brings photography to the masses.

Who would have thought the marriage between a phone and a camera would be a match made in heaven? Who would want that? Everyone it seems. We’re now living in a digital world where millions of pictures are taken and uploaded online every minute. Everyone and everything is a subject. We document and authenticate our lives through taking photographs and sharing them online. ‘I was there’. ‘Look at me’.

Images still have power, but in a slightly different way. We use them to communicate and to share aspects of real life, thanks to Leica’s foresight in bringing the camera out of the studio and into our lives. And just like we have our own personal collections of photographs we covet dearly, the Leica has an impressive catalogue of photos that were recreated in a beautiful tribute by F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi (Brazil), which won the Grand Prix at Cannes. The best film of 2014/15. Bravo Fabio. Bravo Leica.



Image source: Youtube.com

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Nature’s Antidote to Urban Living


Getting out of the office or house and into nature is seen by many as an antidote to the modern world. Most urban environments don’t allow for a lot of green. We live in concrete jungles. We’re constantly on the move and instead of looking out, people are often looking down (at their mobile phones!). Given this, understanding and publicizing the benefits of interacting with nature is important, as it can do us a world of good.

RWF Cameron from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape, makes an observation that in the past, community leaders “had a greater understanding of the relationship between green space and wellbeing than subsequent generations of planners and designers”. Think Thoreau. Given the vast green spaces reserved for parks and gardens on prime real estate in some of the world’s biggest cities, would planners take the same approach today? I couldn’t imagine London without Hyde Park, Paris without the Jardin des Tuileries or NYC without Central Park.

Public parks and gardens provide a refuge from the hubbub of a city and bring people together. Studies have shown that there is a significant decrease in crime rates and violent behavior in urban areas with surrounding green space. Easy access to parks and gardens also opens the door for improved brain function, with a study of students in Michigan discovering that cognitive performance was greater after walking through a tree-lined arboretum, compared with a busy city street.

There are obvious benefits from getting out and about in nature, such as calories burned and vitamin D gained. At a societal level, adopting gardening as part of a healthy lifestyle strategy is claimed to provide at least a £5 health benefit for every £1 spent. In healthcare environments, gardens and natural spaces provide a hint of normality, with patients, visitors and staff reaping benefits from active experiences (such as horticulture therapy) as well as inactive experiences, such as simply being able to sit (or play) in a natural environment. Even just the act of looking out at a garden through a window has benefits. A study of patients in a Pennsylvania hospital found that patients in a hospital room with a view of nature had better post-operative healing outcomes compared with patients who had a view of a brick wall. I know which one I’d rather be looking at.

In the general population, gardens and nature are important for well-being, and are linked to improved mood, reduced anxiety, social interaction, and increased inspiration and creativity. A Netherlands study that involved people completing a stressful task found that people who gardened afterwards were less stressed, compared with people who read indoors.

What springs to mind for me is nature’s ability to create an emotional response, which can make us withdraw, reflect and contemplate, or draw us out, by stimulating us with exhilaration and delight. As noted by Matthew Wilson, outgoing voluntary Chairman of Greenfingers Charity (which works with children’s hospices to create outdoor spaces), “There’s no shortage of proverbs, sonnets and poetry extolling the virtues of gardens and green space and how they make us feel.”

Image source: Wikimedia.org

Monday, July 27, 2015

Success On The Job


The notion of what it takes to succeed in the modern workplace is changing, according to a new poll.

The Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll showed that while most Americans thought that college was an important foundation for a successful work life, other factors were also considered “very important” for a good career. These included computer literacy, people skills and family connections. In the United States and other developed countries where college has “long been seen as a Holy Grail to a good life,” these findings are somewhat surprising.

Around half of people in the poll thought that a four-year degree was “very important” for a good career. Attributes that reflected amoeba-like abilities were also ranked highly in terms of career success, such as being able to work with different types of people, keeping skills current through training, being willing to work long hours and being willing to switch jobs/occupations.

The reality is that many jobs nowadays have a preference for both experience and a degree, and these findings reflect that. While having a degree won’t necessarily guarantee professional success, there’s a good chance it won’t impede it either, so it’s certainly not to be sniffed at.

But going to college isn’t just about getting a piece of paper or the degree to which that piece of paper might prepare you for the workplace. It’s about the experience. It’s not so much about what it teaches you but how it teaches you; to think, how to question assumptions, and problem-solve.

These are skills that you may well develop in the workplace, but if you’ve been to college, you’ll already have that in your arsenal when you get there.

Image attribution / source: Steve Wilson / flickr.com

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Eudaemonia At The Movies


The clichéd Hollywood movie has been long associated with an optimistic ending. You know, the one where the protagonist gets what he wants, even if it wasn’t what he was looking for in the first place. What’s interesting is that movies that end on a bright note often don’t leave you feeling entirely happy. It is sad movies, however, that can boost happiness by prompting people to reflect on their own lives in a more positive way. People are often drawn to sad movies when they’re sad, so perhaps there’s something in it.

Aristotle coined a term for it: eudaemonia, which is “the meaningfulness, insight and emotions that put us in touch with our own humanity.” He acknowledged that far from driving us to become a society of Debbie or Donald Downers, eudaemonia can actually enrich us and perhaps even teach us something about ourselves.

Opinion columnist Jessica Alexander suggests it may be a cultural thing. While American films often providing an optimistic ending, Danish films are known for tragic or sad endings. They reflect the Danes’ perspective on life; that upsetting events are something people should talk about and learn from. Pondering this, I took to Google to find out how the Danes fared in the latest World Happiness Report. Denmark places at number three, behind Switzerland and Iceland. They’re obviously pretty happy (as a country). The United States comes in at number 15; New Zealand at number nine.

An article on Salon made an interesting observation about how some literary classics have fallen out of popularity with readers, possibly because more readers are opting for optimism nowadays. Add to this, that our penchant for seeing the world through rose colored glasses is well-catered to by the film and television industry, which ultimately (and understandably) want to please their audience.

But back to sad endings. Sure, they make us reflect and think that life could be worse. But as noted by Laura Miller, they also show us “that a great spirit is still great even when it doesn’t win, that aspiration, courage and hope, however doomed, are virtues in their own right.”

Image source: Festen / thelocal.dk

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Team Of Teams


Can a team be ‘too strong’? It’s not the kind of question leaders ask, but it’s a question that should be considered. Strength can be a weakness if it is at the expense of the wider organization and its mission.

Joseph Grenny uses the phrase “tribalism trumps mission”, which is what happens if managers see their job as building ‘my team’ as opposed to building ‘the team’. It’s about seeing the bigger picture and connecting with it, instead of creating individual empires or tribes.

The irony lies in the fact that tribes aren’t necessarily a negative thing. Seth Godin argues that tribalism is in our nature. “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.” It sounds like a strong team to me; a collection of individuals that form a cohesive whole, moving in the same direction, with the same ultimate aim. But there’s a balance to be struck between building a great team and making people understand and feel good about contributing to the big picture.

In an article on Harvard Business Review, Grenny provides advice on ‘tribe versus team’ in the form of four questions. I’ve abridged them as ‘this – not that’ here.

A team:
  • Describes team goals as means, not ends. A team understands how their tasks connect with the wider purpose; they don’t just operate in an independent bubble.
  • Frames its budget and resources as stewardship, not property. For example, a team that finds itself with extra money at the end of the financial year will offer it to other teams in need, instead of finding ways to spend it.
  • Refers to people outside the team as teammates, not competitors.
  • Is in free contact with people outside the team, not monitored.
Explaining not only the what, but the why of your business, enables the creation of a movement that everyone wants to be a part of. Businesses must be purpose-driven. Providing a purpose provides a basis for team alignment, and enables a team of teams.

Image source: mroutsource.com

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Making Hat-Trick History


“The only way we win, the only way we get to that top podium, is if we believe in each other, and we fight, and we fight, and we fight some more.” – Abby Wambach, two-time Olympic Gold medalist and 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year.

On Sunday the 6th of July, the United States’ Women’s soccer team played a game and celebrated an event that galvanized the US population in a way that soccer has never done before.

The beautiful game attracted the highest number of viewers, for any soccer game broadcast on English-language television in the US, ever, men’s or women’s.

A record audience of 25.4 million viewers (on FOX) watched the United States play Japan in the Women’s World Cup final. People watched. They watched in anticipation of what the game might deliver. And deliver it did, with compelling story lines and first-timers that will go down in history.

Just 16 minutes into the game, Carli Lloyd literally smashed it out of the park, scoring one of football’s most prized possessions, a hat-trick, in a record time of 13 minutes. She scored her third goal from all the way back at the halfway line. An almost unthinkable feat in professional football.

The team entered half-time with a 4-1 lead. This is when people started getting in on the action, sharing in the excitement and telling their friends to watch, with the viewing audience almost doubling by the end of the match from what it was at the beginning. Go team.

In the 79th minute, Abby Wambach came onto the field and was given the captain’s armband by Carli Lloyd, who obviously felt that Wambach, who had alluded to the game being her last World Cup, should finish the game as captain. A touching exchange between two members of the team.

The team won 5-2, the highest scoring final in Women’s World Cup history, and overtaking Germany for the highest scoring team in Women’s World Cup history. And the United States became the first team to win three Women’s World Cups.

And my club Manchester City built on the momentum – England reached the semi-finals…with five players in the English team and record attendance at the first game back home in Manchester. Boomtown.

Image source: ussoccer.com

Monday, July 20, 2015

Effective Executives Turn Out for Drucker


Come early November, it’s Vienna for me. My speaking agent Danny Stern has re-plugged me into the world of Peter Drucker and the seventh annual Global Drucker Forum held November 5-6 in Vienna with the theme “Creativity, Intuition, and the Algorithm,” subtitled  “Claiming Our Humanity: Managing in the Digital Age”.

Convened by the estimable Richard Straub, it’s a cross between Davos and TED though I am sure it will be altogether because it has the mantle of Peter Drucker looking over it. And the Viennese do style and efficiency wrapped together.

I’m on the roster and will be on my best behaviour because companions include:

Sherry Turkle, Director of MIT Initiative on Technology and Self
Charles Handy, Social philosopher
Rachel Botsman, author of “What's Mine is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption Is Changing The Way We Live
Tammy Erickson, Adjunct Professor at the London Business School
Robin Chase, founder and former CEO of Zipcar
Adi Ignatius, Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Business Review

Why my deep attachment to this intellectual titan? As I explained in earlier posts, Drucker’s thinking became embedded in my own managerial philosophy since I read his book The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done while working in London in the late 1960s. Looking ahead to the Forum, here are four Druckerisms to muse over, tweet, post above your office computer, and use to jumpstart your own thinking and inspire your staff:
  • Effectiveness is a habit, a complex of practices. Practices can be learned.
  • Time is the scarcest resource; unless it is managed, nothing can be managed.
  • Knowledge workers do not produce a “thing.” They produce ideas, information, concepts.
  • Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.
See you in Vienna. Permission to misbehave required....

Image source: druckerforum.org

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Long And The Short Of It


Bless ‘em all, Bless ‘em all
The Long, The Short and the Tall.

In the past 24 hours I flew the long and the short – well actually Air New Zealand’s longest and its shortest.

Their new Boeing 777 Dreamliner from San Francisco to Auckland.  Seats 332 in luxurious comfort with a cruising speed of 910mph.  Next up was their Beech 1900D.  Seats 19 with a cruising speed of 510.  There were eight of us on board from Rotorua to Auckland.  No stewardess, no luggage compartments (under the seat or in the hold), no ID required, no security checks whatsoever.  A time gone by.  Bless ‘em all.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Business Success Tips


“A dream. A belief. An action. That is all it takes to create the life you want.” Adèle McLay

Adele is a Kiwi based in London who is an author/coach/mentor to business entrepreneurs from around the world and she recently invited me to talk on her ‘Business Success Tips’ interview series. We covered a lot of ground talking about brand loyalty, businesses big and small, Lovemarks, storytelling, the future for businesses, and personal purpose and branding. At the end of the interview I offered some advice for small businesses, with a nod to Bob Seelert, Tom Peters and Brian Ashton. Three things: start with the answer and work back; fail fast, learn fast, fix fast; and the ABCs – ambition, belief and courage – all three, every day.

You can check out the interview here (29 mins).

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Here’s to Heroes


Who are your heroes? Three of mine are JFK, Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol. Heroes are important because they inspire us to realize our dreams.  As a rugby mad boy in Lancashire, I found heroes in the All Blacks. Waka Nathan, the “Black Panther.” Brian Lochore. Mac Herewini. Earle Kirton.

I was drawn to my heroes for the same reasons we all are. “Our heroes are symbols for us of all the qualities we would like to possess and all the ambitions we would like to satisfy,” wrote Scott LaBarge, Associate Professor of Classics and Philosophy at Santa Clara University.

Heroes bring hope that we can better our lives, and not just our own personal world, the world that we all share through upholding common ideals.

There are our everyday heroes, ordinary people doing the extraordinary, the most important heroes.

There’s also a recent study of the heroes and villains in history, as assessed by young people (average age 23, drawn from 37 countries) across cultures. One thing of interest in the study is that there is fairly clear agreement on who world history’s heroes are, and a much bigger discrepancy on who the villains are. If disparate outlooks can agree on what is inspirational, they can agree on anything.

Here are the study’s top 10, in order: Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Isaac Newton, Jesus Christ, Nelson Mandela, Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, Buddha.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Talent Brief


Saw an old ad yesterday for the America West’s Overland Express.

Wanted

Young, skinny, wiry fellows
Not over eighteen
Must be expert riders
Willing to risk death daily
Orphans preferred
Wages $25 per week

Now that’s what I call a talent brief!!!

KR

Monday, July 13, 2015

Among Thieves


How can you like a Brooklyn based criminal, gang leader, and ruthless killer? Meet James Beck. My new anti hero. Created by John Clarkson an ex advertising copywriter. Beck amazingly has values, principles and great leadership skills. And I couldn’t get enough of him. A criminal Jack Reacher.

In his first appearance (set in my Tribeca neighborhood), Beck takes down guys worse than him including Russian arms dealers, war criminals, Russian mobsters and even the “biggest gang of all”, the NYPD. Not to mention crooked Wall St traders and a clandestine U.S arms agency.

Read Among Thieves this Summer.

Image source / attribute: amazonaws.com, johnclarkson.com / John Clarkson

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Who Gives A Font?


I recall a few years back when IKEA changed its standard font from Futura to Verdana. The former was considered to be a well-regarded and handsome specimen with a “warmth and cheer” that resonated with the IKEA brand, while the latter was described as a font that designers had little respect for, lacking in originality, and drawing into question IKEA’s credibility and reputation.

It turned into a very public, and very personal, debate. Personal because many people were of the view that font mattered. It becomes even more obvious when you see how different typefaces are described. Arial has been described as “generic…almost bland,” while Helvetica has an iconic status, an “invisible typeface due to the extent of its visibility and influence”. And then you have Comic Sans, the “casual but legible face” that has long been the bane of the typographic elite. Google knew it when it played a prank on April Fool’s Day in 2011 that involved all Google searches for ‘Helvetica’ appearing in Comic Sans.

Given the passion and personal connection that people have with different typefaces, it should come as no surprise that typefaces have also been found to have an unconscious impact. Many who work with the written word will attest to feeling more comfortable typing in one font over another. We grow accustomed to using certain fonts; some might even consider them to have an influence on our creativity and productivity.

Some typefaces have also been found to be more believable than others, according to an experiment conducted by Errol Morris of the New York Times. The experiment found that readers were more likely to agree with a statement written in Baskerville than other fonts, including Comic Sans, which happened to promote (at least among some) “contempt and summary dismissal.” Baskerville simply had what one professor describes as “gravitas” aligning itself with “tuxedo” fonts with “just a touch more starchiness.”

Morris points out that it seems a little ridiculous that we would be nudged into believing one typeface over another, but I can see it.

Image attribute/source: Tommaso Sorchiotto / flickr.com

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The ‘Goldilocks’ Zone


Offices. A strange notion, really, when you think about it. A bunch of people sitting together in a confined space, often multiple levels up, with little to no fresh air and often limited natural light. People sitting in cubicles, clacking away on keyboards, clicking mouses, talking on phones and to each other.

Studies have shown that ambient noise in an office, as opposed to noises of a sporadic nature like I’ve just described, is good for productivity and creativity. Perhaps because constant noise is a more common thing for city dwellers; pure silence can often truly stun or set people off course. I like how David Burkus refers to it as the “Goldilocks” zone for creatives who like just the right amount of noise, but not too much (although let’s not forget that Goldilocks was a tad shameless about sampling all of the options available!).

Organizations will go to great lengths to create that perfect balance of ambient noise in an office, as reflected in the bevy of options available that enable it to be created in a virtual sense. Coffitivity is an app that provides a continuous loop of coffee shop noise: conversations, brewing and serving coffee. Clever. It’s even possible to use small speakers throughout the office to broadcast ‘electronic white noise,’ a purely non-descript sound that mimics, well, nothing in particular. Just enough to mask the other erratic sounds that might distract you in the office. Or you could try an age old suggestion proposed by ‘new’ research – you could try listening to the sounds of nature.

Image source: greendigital.com

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Heights of Performance


The colossal presence of skyscrapers is mind-bending, particularly if you’re standing at the bottom of one and looking up. NYC’s One World Trade Center practically performs a magic trick when you look at it, forming a perfect point at the top, despite not being triangular in shape.

The designers of skyscrapers are inherently ambitious, but the goal of ‘tallest’ is increasingly paired with an equally desirable goal of efficiency of space and use of energy; in keeping with their raison d’etre in cities that are bursting at the seams. The imposing heights of skyscrapers also make them representative icons of their cities by default. They become tourist attractions. Geographical and emotional reference points. Renzo Piano said of London’s Shard, “I always thought this tower will be a sensor of the city, reflecting the mood.”

Some of the world’s tallest towers include Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (almost a kilometer tall at 828 meters), the Shanghai Tower (632 meters) and NYC’s One World Trade Center which tops out at 541 meters. There’s understandably a fair bit of rivalry among cities to reach the greatest height, but that’s not for lack of necessity as many are growing at alarming rates. Shanghai’s population reportedly grew by 10% each year between 1993 and 2013, while NYC grew by almost 4% between 2010 and 2014. What better way to grow than up?

But more than just being tall, skyscrapers send a message, as pointed out in an article on The Atlantic. They say, “We’re risk-takers. We’re innovators. Look at us!” The speed in which it takes to build such tall buildings also seems to be an indication of a country’s capability and innovation. China built a 57-storey skyscraper in 19 days. Compare this to the Home Insurance Building in Chicago, which took a year to build in 1884/85 and was the first tall building of its kind - all 10 stories of it.

Skyscrapers give cities a sense of presence, at least in comparison to other cities that aspire to develop skylines that reach staggering heights. They draw people in. Perhaps that’s why a magnificent skyscraper has the ability to inspire and provides a visual focal point that reminds us of our human ingenuity.

Image source: hdwallpapers.im

Monday, July 6, 2015

Tactics Lead to Action


Tactics are what you do when there is something to do.

Strategy is something you do when there is nothing to do.

Chess Grandmaster Savielly Tartakower

Image attribute/source: Aron Nimzowitsch, Savielly Tartakower and Egil Jacobsen / chesshistory.com

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Love is the Last Frontier


Do you want to join the Navy or be a Pirate? (Steve Jobs)

I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be yours.  I said that.  (Bob Dylan)

Love is the Last Frontier.  (Tom Russell)

I love the Wild West.  I have a place in the Arizona Desert in Carefree.  I saw Tom Russell recently in a tiny café in Austin.  Listen to his new concept album The Rose of Roscrae.  It’s Glenn Ford’s Stagecoach for 2015.

Image source: youtube.com

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Out of the Driver’s Seat


For those who haven’t seen it, Driving Miss Daisy was a 1989 film based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, telling the story of an unlikely friendship between Miss Daisy (Jessica Tandy) and her driver (Morgan Freeman). Brilliantly cast. Despite its charm, it’s a film that may never be resurrected, according to Andrew Shanahan.

It’s one of ten things that driverless cars could possibly “eradicate from the face of the Earth.” Other things include the savage, intuitive joy of man and machine (it’s undeniable), rubbernecking (will your driverless car enable your gawking?) and car parks (will they become obsolete, if your driverless car can simply turn around and take itself home?).

Shanahan certainly provides food for thought. Humorous, yes, but also somewhat of a reality check, with driverless cars expected to be part of our lives by the end of the decade. One thing for certain is that they will be a game-changer, but not before we see a significant psychological and cultural shift.

Psychologically, many of us have a strong bond with our vehicles. How much of this bores down to our position in the driver’s seat? And will we be able to relinquish control and allow ourselves to be taken for a ride? An article on The Atlantic sparked a question – can we still call it ‘driving’ when we’re riding in driverless cars? Perhaps a more appropriate term would be ‘conducting’, as suggested by Daimler.

Culturally, the introduction of driverless cars will have a considerable impact on society. Will we see the demise of driver stereotypes, or perhaps a heightened sense of judgment regarding different types of cars and their driving habits? What about road rage – where will people direct their anger, and will they need to? What about getting a driver’s license as a rite of passage for teenagers, and the sense of freedom and responsibility that comes with it? Will our daily commute become any less of a monotony, with the ability to concentrate on other things if we’re not driving, or will we simply feel even more useless when we’re stuck in traffic?

And will driverless cars reduce the nearly 1.3 million road fatalities worldwide each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day? Or the additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled?

Now that’s something to rage about.

Image source: govexec.com

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Imagination Running Wild


Imagination is what inspires the creation of ideas, and the possibilities therein are boundless. Being told to ‘let your imagination run wild’ isn’t just a euphemism; it truly is a place where you can let loose without being inhibited by the past or the present. Imagination is about the future. Ideas are the future.

As children we were told to use it (‘use your imagination’) or asked whether we’ve misplaced it (‘where’s your imagination?’). On the contrary, we were also told as children to ‘stop daydreaming,’ when in fact, daydreaming is one of the key elements of imagination and creativity, according to Scott Barry Kaufman, scientific director of the Imagination Institute. It’s no wonder there’s confusion about how wild we should be letting our imagination run. As Kaufman says: “We feel as though imagination is a very neglected, yet very valuable skill in the 21st century.”

The mission of the Imagination Institute is to stimulate the field of imagination. A laudable and necessary mission indeed. Necessary because we’re in an age where we’re constantly distracted and information is freely available. Sometimes we need to stop going in search of distractions and information and to instead put our minds to work or simply let our minds wander. Kaufman says there is an environmental element to imagination, with those who are considered to be more imaginative having experienced greater resources and encouragement to imagine and create.

Reading or listening to someone tell a story is a good form of training for our imagination, as we’re required to conjure up an entire world in our mind. What makes it so special is that it’s also entirely unique; you can try, but you can’t really share your imagination with anyone else. Which is why it’s also our responsibility to nurture and use it.