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 / icreatenews.com

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.

KR

Image source: Twitter.com

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.

Image source: myfoodbag.co.nz

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 / wikimedia.org

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.”

Image source: fswl.se

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.

Image source: saatchi.com

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Guided By Emotions


They don’t call it an emotional roller coaster for nothing. Certain experiences, and ultimately, life itself, contain the lot of them: anger, disgust, fear and sadness on one end; happiness, exhilaration and excitement on the other. In today’s world, we tend to have a morbid focus on the negative and prurient end of the spectrum (do you read The Daily Mail?!), coupled with a strong desire to experience happiness, all of the time.

The scientific term for happiness, ‘subjective well-being’, encompasses three aspects, according to American psychologist Martin Seligman: pleasure, meaning and engagement. Studies have found that it’s determined by our genes (50%), our daily activities (40%) and our circumstances (10%). The daily activity aspect is up to us. And by ‘us’ I mean that it’s entirely personal because happiness is subjective, as pointed out by Tosin Thompson on New Statesman. It’s up to us to figure out what makes us happy, and then do it, or do more of it.

This drive for happiness involves a singular focus on one emotion, but in reality, others are equally important. Sadness in particular gets a bad rap. People go to great lengths to avoid it. It’s even badly cast in children’s movies (in the film Inside Out, Sadness is personified as a sluggish character that another character, Joy, literally has to drag around!).

Despite the obvious need for an image overhaul, sadness is an emotion that should be embraced, in much the same way that we embrace happiness. Inside Out reminds us of two key insights into embracing the full spectrum of emotions, as explained by Dacher Keltner and Paul Ekman on The New York Times.

First, emotions organize rational thinking. Sadness included, our emotions guide us through the world. They shape what we remember of the past, and the way we respond to our current environment. Second, emotions help organize our social lives. People might typically associate sadness with apathy and inaction, when in reality, sadness prompts people to unite in response to loss. Sadness can make us reflect on life and is a catalyst for song-writing and poetry for many. Anger can spur action. Sure, it would be nice if we could be happy all the time, but the roller coaster ride (and the soundtrack) would be pretty boring.

Image attribute/source: Inside Out / disney.com

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Surprising with The Obvious


A sign from Gabriel’s in Pojoaque New Mexico where I had dinner last night with a friend who lives locally.

A no frills place with old style Mexican food, guacamole prepared at your table with jalapeños and garlic to your heart’s content and a customer focus that is all about delight not just service.

KR

Image source: Gabriels

Monday, August 17, 2015

Find an Urban Oasis


It’s no secret that nature is good for us. But is it really capable of changing the brain? A new study by the Natural Capital Project says yes. It found that people who walked for 90 minutes in nature (versus walking for 90 minutes in an urban setting) showed decreased activity in a brain region that’s associated with depression. Other studies provide evidence of the positive impacts of nature on mood, cognitive function, memory and anxiety.

Nature seems to act as a ‘natural buffer’ against mental health problems. This is why I live in a natural habitat in Auckland on the edge of the world, in the Lake District in England, in the desert in Arizona, and one block from the mighty Hudson River in New York.

These findings provide an extra oomph for urban planners and efforts to maintain natural oases in urban environments, especially since the majority of the world’s population lives in urban settings.

Take a look at Jeffrey Milstein’s fantastic birds-eye-view photographs of NYC and you’ll see that in some areas, people have to wander a few blocks to connect with greenery. But that isn’t to say that we aren’t well-served by urban bursts of nature in NYC. Consider the vast 800 acres of Central Park, the luscious grass, plants and trees growing along the High Line, and further measures being taken to increase NYC’s ‘urban forest’, such as the Million Trees NYC program with an ambitious goal to plant and care for one million new trees across the City's five boroughs.

If you can’t bring people to nature, bring nature to the people. If you’re a city dweller who wants to reap the benefits (and you should), find your own urban oases and get amongst it.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Passion and Energy of Big Time Sport


A great weekend – if you love the passion and energy of big time Sport.

The All Blacks bounced back to slam the Wallabies at Eden Park, and Manchester City caned the Champions, Chelsea at The Etihad.

Great leadership on display (Richie McCaw and Vincent Kompany), genius in action (Dan Carter and Sergio Agüero), brilliant coaching (Steve Hansen and Manuel Pellegrini) and relentless commitment to the Cause (the All Black and Manchester City teams).

Brilliant. KR

Top image source: mcfc.com

Image source: YouTube.com

Image source: YouTube.com

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Trends for Telcos


Last week I gave two presentations to a major national telco in Asia, one on leadership, the other on Lovemarks. In preparing I reached out to a former colleague for some insights about the customer context in this dynamic and disruptive industry, and what telcos need to think about when designing products and services that help people lead better lives. Jason Paris, CEO Home, Mobile and Business at Spark New Zealand, sent me his thoughts, paraphrased here.

Self-Betterment Revolution: We are seeing increasing consumer interest in people taking control of improving themselves and their lives, which is leading to a boom in self-betterment in spaces that include: health and fitness, food and beverage, finances, well-being, parenting, and fashion and beauty.

Better buying: Buying decisions will be influenced more and more by the trust consumers put in people like them (and the celebrities that they deal with) versus the ads that they see. (i.e. “people helping people choose.”).

Entrepreneurship: New online platforms have made it possible for consumers to sell their unused resources direct to other consumers. AirBNB is an obvious example, but the trend is accelerating (e.g. Sharetribe, Task Rabbit, Eat With, Wonolo).

Management of Life: The largest issues facing New Zealand consumers have to do with the “administration of life” (i.e. family, work, money). Increasingly, people are looking for a technology “life platform” to help them navigate things like: a bad night’s sleep, the morning rush, traffic and transport, lack of preparation for the day ahead, work stress, parenting stress, and Internet stress if access goes down.

Spark has got customers front and center of their dreams, plans and operations. Thanks Jason.

Image source: lifefitness.com

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Can We Teach Happiness in the Classroom?


In the past, happiness was understood and experienced in the context of philosophical and religious beliefs. But today we tend to think of happiness as a lone agent, detached from broader visions of what constitutes a good life.

It’s a debate that’s been bubbling away for years; an obvious extension of the age-old question of what makes people happy. An article on The Guardian looks back; pointing out that the perennial question has a history.

The crux of the debate in the educational system therefore lies in where happiness ‘fits’ (I think most people will agree that schools aren’t just places for intellectual development and churning out exams). Happiness is an inherent part of schools, like it is in many other institutions in society. Schools help prepare young people for the professional world, by educating them and giving them the tools they need to succeed.

Education director of the Greater Good Science Center, Vicki Zakrzewski and Peter Brunn argue that we should be teaching young people that success in life and achieving happiness isn’t just about getting a job, but about living a meaningful life. They say that to do this, educators should promote students’ emotional health by making connections between what students are learning and their future work goals and lives.

Research shows that this approach works, with students finding more meaning in what they’re learning, and thus laying the foundation for a happy (and meaningful) life. But, this is only on the proviso that their goals must benefit others, in addition to themselves, and must not be solely about making money. Focusing too much on the latter and simply on ‘careers’ can have the adverse effect, contributing to a sense of meaninglessness. Happiness is where the real money is at, so best to find it in a career that you love.

Image source: travelblog.org

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Designing and Doing


“Actually trying something is very different from learning about it in theory. I could explain kitesurfing until we’re blue in the face, but you won’t be able to do it until you try,” says Eric von Hippel, a professor of entrepreneurship at MIT.

Von Hippel’s words of wisdom are especially appropriate given a 2014 Bentley University poll which found that 67% of Millennials in the US aspire to start their own business or already have done. So why not equip them with not only the knowledge but the experience to achieve this aim, during their college years?

Colleges that take this approach are becoming increasingly popular and understandably sought after. Stanford is one of the earliest adopters of a teaching method that embraces ‘design thinking’ across various fields. Students are given free rein to “observe, brainstorm, synthesize, prototype and implement their product ideas” in a space that provides the perfect conditions for encouraging creativity (think whiteboards, post-it notes and collaborative workstations).

The courses offered are unique in that they don’t just offer design for design’s sake. They’re integrated with the real world and its real problems, with students looking at how to solve them or how to improve inefficiencies. It’s also about doing, with students developing prototypes, and experimenting and seeing what works.

It’s a much-needed shift to keep up with the demands of many young people who are finding it increasingly difficult to commit to a four-year college degree, when they’re already chomping at the bit to design and create something themselves. “Some of the best innovation classes we teach put them [the students] in a position to drop out,” says Robert Sutton, professor of management science and engineering at Stanford.

The templates are being tossed out the window, and perhaps it’s about time. A one-size-fits-all approach to education no longer stacks up, manufacturing young people who are “great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it,” says William Dersiewicz, a former English professor at Yale. It’s education for the real world, with students empowered to choose an education that makes a difference – and do it. Stanford’s school motto sums it up: ‘Do to think. And think to do.”

Image source: smithsonianmag.com

Monday, August 10, 2015

Raw Pressure


High pressure is part and parcel of both business and sporting environments. In tennis it is “at its rawest” says Jeremy Snape, with the conditions serving only to magnify it: a very personal duel, played out in front of a global broadcast audience as well as a very large, and often very partisan crowd. Not to mention the fact that a single tennis match can go on for hours (the Isner-Mahut match at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships is the longest match in tennis history, clocking out at 11 hours and five minutes of play over three days!).

More recently at Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic won over Roger Federer to take the title, showcasing not only his technical skill on the court but his mental toughness. It’s often referred to in pre and post-match commentary (see Djokovic’s final press conference here, where he talks about pressure being always present and hitting a high point at the finals).

Snape shares some key lessons from Wimbledon for business leaders under pressure.

First, focus on your strengths to overcome self-doubt. Don’t dig up and dwell on previous mistakes and the past; focus on what you can control. After Rafael Nadal’s defeat to Dustin Brown, Nadal said: “I just need to accept these kind of things that can happen. I did all my career. Keep going. It’s not the end. It is a sad moment for me but life continues. My career, too. I have to keep going and working more than ever to try to change that dynamic.”

Second, stay cool. Practice turning anxiety into energy. High pressure situations can be a shock to your system, but this is also where the magic happens, so you need to learn to embrace it. After Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals, she said: “It’s never easy to beat such a great player who’s had such a wonderful career. Whenever you play someone that has beaten you before, you get really focused.”

Finally, confidence is everything. In Roger Federer’s game against Sam Querrey, he lobbed a between-the-legs forehand to win the point, and “cut his opponent’s big game to pieces with a sublime performance.” Federer said: “I’m very happy with the way I’m playing. I’ve been playing well this season, really since here last year. It’s also a bit of a relief to be playing well at Wimbledon.”

Another lesson from Wimbledon is to bring the fight, bring the determination, but also, be a good sport. Federer said of Djokovic’s win: “I think Novak played well not only today, but this week, this year, last year, the year before that…I didn't play too badly either, but that's how it goes. I'm still hungry and motivated to keep playing…it’s been a privilege to be here and back on Centre Court.”

Image source: wikimedia.org

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sleep: Only You Can Do It


Our lives aren’t geared particularly well towards sleep, despite the fact that it’s absolutely essential. Most toddlers need around 13 hours, including a daytime nap, but good luck trying to convince them of that. (I’m in Tuscany with 5 kids aged between 20 months & 7 years… I know of which I speak!!). Teenagers need around nine and a half hours, but their ‘ideal’ circadian rhythm means that they prefer to stay up late, which you wouldn’t call ideal when they’re rising early for school the next morning.

As adults we all have our “chosen level of uncomfortableness” in terms of lack of sleep, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re okay, says sleep scientist Elizabeth Klerman. Many people convince themselves that they can get by on five to six hours of sleep per night. But ‘getting by’ is a gross understatement when you consider what the research tells us about the impact of sleep deprivation.

Harvard neurologist and sleep medicine physician Josna Adusumilli says that getting six hours of sleep a night over twelve days has a significant impact on cognitive and physical performance, to the extent that performance becomes like that of someone who has been awake for twenty-four hours straight (which happens to be like that of someone who has been drinking). American physician and sleep researcher Charles Czeisler found that we usually only notice any impact of sleep deprivation on performance for the first one or two days. After that it becomes our slightly less sparkly, less effective, new ‘normal’.

We need sleep because it keeps our minds and our bodies in working order. When we sleep our brains do some very necessary ‘housekeeping’ such as processing and consolidating new memories and helping us deal with memories of bad experiences. Being tired also makes it harder to be happy by making it easier to recall bad memories over good ones.

We also need sleep so that our minds can go on adventures in the form of dreams. Freud’s theory was that dreams help us deal unconsciously with problems the conscious mind can't deal with. This might go some way to explaining why people who are sleep derived experience hallucinations.

It seems that sleep is a constant battle in the modern world. We’re either trying to get more of it, or complaining about not getting enough of it and suffering the consequences. Either way, we’re the only ones that can do it; we can’t delegate it to someone else.

Image attribution / source: Min Heo / newyorker.com

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Makes Sense


Our senses make us feel things. The fundamental five – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch – often come together to create results that are truly unforgettable. But more often we think of them as lone agents, having their own unique and powerful qualities, and pitting them against each other. As in, ‘which one is your favorite?’ or ‘if you had to lose one, which would it be?’

Intelligent Life resurrected the age-old question of favorites by asking a group of seven writers to take their pick and explain why. All seem to have a slightly different interpretation of what constitutes a sense. On the table are the big five but the net is also cast wider, identifying senses that are slightly more abstract. I’ve extracted a few musings here to capture the delight of our senses in various shapes and forms.

Starting with the first two, sight and hearing, perhaps the most fundamental of the five. Related to sight, Julie Myerson chooses a sense of color, noting that her synesthesia means that not only does she see color, but smells it, hears it and tastes it. She explains: “With colour around, nothing is fixed, everything is alive… a world suffused with colour and brightness allows you to dream of anything, doesn’t it?”

Adam Foulds chooses hearing, with music being the clinching argument. He wouldn’t have to argue with me. “We need music to escape ourselves – and to experience our deepest emotions…without music…there would be no Bach, no “Be My Baby”. There would be no reason to dance.” Music provides a soundtrack to our lives and sound effects provide punctuation. The pop of a Champagne cork, hands clapping, people laughing. Sounds trigger memories and powerful emotions.

Stephen Schiff paints a caste-like system of the five key senses, whereby sight and hearing “reign supreme” and are “opulently served by the cultural forms we have devised for them – art, music, dance, theatre, poetry” while the “two lesser nobles”, smell and taste, scrap over “the dominion of food.” Touch is where Schiff pauses. It “makes democrats of us all” he says, pointing out that while some can develop a keen sense of sight or smell, a particularly sophisticated palate, or an expert ear, it’s slightly more difficult to possess a superior sense of touch. Touch is a sense to be coveted.

Julie Barnes chooses a sense of self, suggesting that our outer five senses and our inner senses, such as memory, feeling, reasoning, moral sense and guilt, act together and make us who we are. Other senses in pride of place include commonsense, “the most invoked sense, and the least reliable”; the sixth sense, “nothing precisely seen, heard, or felt” but a sense that many are attuned to nonetheless; and a sense of humor: “If you can see humour in your own misfortunes, they are less unfortunate.”

Think laterally now…what’s your favorite sense?

Image source: WeAreDelgado.com

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Lorra Lorra Love


Priscilla White died last week, age 72. She was from Liverpool, like The Beatles, and everyone in the UK, I mean every person alive at the time in Britain, knew and loved her. Her debut single, Love of the Loved, was written for her by Lennon and Paul McCartney. She was signed by the Fab Four's manager, Brian Epstein, and had a string of hits starting in 1964, starting with the Burt Bacharach-Hal David composition, Anyone Who Had A Heart. It became the biggest-selling single by a female artist in the history of British popular music. And Priscilla White became Cilla Black.

Cilla went on to have 20 consecutive Top 40 hits on the British single and EP charts, including 11 British Top Ten singles and two consecutive Number One singles in 1964. She made her television debut in 1968 with Cilla, becoming the first woman to hold her own primetime chat show on BBC One.

Cilla was a great example of an ordinary person doing extraordinary things. She had a natural effervescence, a good voice, a popular touch and a huge work ethic. Her signature, delivered in a strong Liverpool accent, replaced the letter "t'' with "r'' as in "a lorra, lorra laughs."

A lorra, lorra luv to you Cilla.

Image source: static.guim.co.uk

Monday, August 3, 2015

Planet Positivity


We’re inherently afraid of what the future holds, partly because much of what we read about the future of the planet, and the way we treat it, is negative. It doesn’t help that movie depictions of our future are also pretty bleak (watch Mad Max: Fury Road!).

Is there room for a little optimism when it comes to our beautiful planet, or are we destined to ride (and endure) a one-way train to environmental-disaster-ville? The pessimists have a point, but I’d say there’s scope to recognize the efforts going in to making our world a cleaner and greener place too.

Let’s start with people, doing things that reflect a ‘positive tipping point’ in human behavior and our environmental impact. The authors of End Game explain, “family sizes have become radically smaller, defusing population bombs; rich societies are reaching ‘peak stuff’ as people spend spare cash on ‘experiences rather than things’; agriculture can become far more efficient; and recycling can both end pollution and stem resource shortages.”

Recycling in particular is where many people, including the government in some countries, have jumped on board. It’s mandatory in some US cities.

Businesses are also increasingly mindful of the impact they have on the environment, investing in sustainable and environmental business practices such as recycling. For example, in the US, mobile operators Vodafone, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile recycle electronic waste through trade-in programs. Computer manufacturer Computer manufacturer Dell has a recycling program in partnership with Goodwill Industries, which allows for discarded computers and accessories to be refurbished or recycled responsibly. Nike has a fantastic recycling program in the US called ‘ReUse-A-Shoe’, which involves people returning their used shoes to Nike stores, which are then shredded (28 million pairs so far) to surface athletic fields and playgrounds.

Energy is another one. We may still be burning fossil fuels, but at the same time we’re making considerable advancements in renewable energy, such as wind turbines and solar panels. In 2013 Denmark’s wind turbines provided one-third of the countries’ energy supply.

Of course we can always do better, but we’re putting up a pretty good fight against what once seemed inevitable.

Image source: Nike.com