Friday, August 21, 2009

The Recovery Plan – Get Rid of All the Motivational Speakers

On the subject of my post Dos and Don’ts of Talking to a Person who is Looking for a Job. Anyone caught delivering motivational speeches or a strategic advice of any sort should be rounded up to protect the public. With all the motivational speakers off the streets there is a hope for the economic recovery.

Let me explain. The rules of the game changed so dramatically that whatever script the motivationlists have been reading from, ain’t no longer working. The best motivational speakers are trying to convince themselves, hoping that repeating whatever carp there are saying, will improve their chances of actually believing in the bs. Most of them never held a regular job. And even if it worked for them personally in the past, as I wrote, there is a new game in town. More importantly there are certain truths that don’t report to change, despite the depression and the recession. As always and forever only three things are still working – cash, contacts or real leads. If a motivational speaker doesn’t include any on the three in the no power / no point presentation, they might as well shove it. Take the bastards off the streets now, protect the society! With ten million of them off the streets and off the tweets there might be just enough jobs for the rest of us.

Advice from Hugh MacLeod – Ignore everybody

I often speak and write about the puzzlement of advice. It is difficult to give and receive advice. Most of advice we receive from friends and strangest is either clueless or irresponsible. In fact closer and more trusting we are to people, more likely it is that we will be misled by a bad advice from them. A trusting guidance from friends usually results in a lasting damage. In this light with particular interest I read the sketch of the of the forthcoming book by Hugh MacLeod Ignore everybody:

“The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you. When I first started with the cartoon-on-back-of-bizcard format, people thought I was nuts. Why wasn’t I trying to do something more easy for markets to digest i.e. cutey-pie greeting cards or whatever? You don’t know if your idea is any good the moment it’s created. Neither does anyone else. The most you can hope for is a strong gut feeling that it is. And trusting your feelings is not as easy as the optimists say it is. There’s a reason why feelings scare us.

And asking close friends never works quite as well as you hope, either. It’s not that they deliberately want to be unhelpful. It’s just they don’t know your world one millionth as well as you know your world, no matter how hard they try, no matter how hard you try to explain.

Plus a big idea will change you. Your friends may love you, but they don’t want you to change. If you change, then their dynamic with you also changes. They like things the way they are, that’s how they love you- the way you are, not the way you may become.

Ergo, they have no incentive to see you change. And they will be resistant to anything that catalyzes it. That’s human nature. And you would do the same, if the shoe was on the other foot.

With business colleagues it’s even worse. They’re used to dealing with you in a certain way. They’re used to having a certain level of control over the relationship. And they want whatever makes them more prosperous. Sure, they might prefer it if you prosper as well, but that’s not their top priority.

If your idea is so good that it changes your dynamic enough to where you need them less, or God forbid, THE MARKET needs them less, then they’re going to resist your idea every chance they can.

Again, that’s human nature.


Good ideas come with a heavy burden. Which is why so few people have them. So few people can handle it.”

Hitchens on Religion

Christopher Hitchens gives a talk in Canada on Free Speech in November 2006.

The Three Things worth Doing in Life

by Ben Atlas on 08/08/2009
Hugh MacLeod tweeted yesterday: “Three things worth doing in life: Breeding, loving and learning. Everything else is filler…” I will take this aphorism for a spin.

1. Breeding – Offspring and fertility. A woman’s life long obsession with being attractive, the confidence of being able to arouse a man. A man’s sense of self worth depending on his ability to meet the challenge.
2. Loving – the intoxication and the yearning. The “loving” is never complete if unrequited. “Speed” Levitch said it must be reciprocal. Love is about being loved, about validation of what you are. Loving includes being respected, the accolades and appreciation. If you love a man or a god and they don’t love you back, you can’t put a check mark here.
3. Learning – Trying to understand your place in the universe, an opportunity to satisfy the natural thirst, an opening to quench the curiosity. The desire to travel and see the world. By no means is this a textual manipulation.

I have never met a person who had all three in the bag. If you imagine the world as a puzzle and the goal of the game to line up all three, the jackpot is theoretical. The vast majority of people manage only one of the three life essentials. There are a small number of the lucky bastards who lined up two of those. But the fascinating human condition is that even if a single goal is at bay out of the three, humans are in a state of constant agony, like a chronic plain, the realization that a defining component of life is missing. They constantly think about it and if you are a friend you have the privilege of always hearing about it. Perhaps the wisdom is the recognition of the bargain, and if you managed to score two of the three, acceptance of your luck. Just like at the end of his remarkable speech Alain de Botton says that “every vision of success has to admit what it is loosing out on”.

When people say “money is not important” they mean it isn’t amongst the three essential goals of life but no one ever argued that money indeed can facilitate all three. Or on a more nuanced level the traditional “bazaar” is treated in the Middle Eastern cultures as an elaborate ruse to cover up the transactions in the intangibles, the ritual of pretending to trade in physical objects. Pay respect to haggling, a breeding dance with love and knowledge.

P.S. I was thinking where creativity fits into the scheme. I have to say that creativity is a part of learning. People dance, paint, write code, do scientific research, play ball, all in order to think. These are the rosary beads of learning. As McLuhan said an artist confronts “present as his material because it is the area of challenge to the whole sensory life.” This is the process of learning and occasionally there is a byproduct, a breakthrough of discovery.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Michael Pritchard's water filter turns filthy water drinkable

Too much of the world lacks access to clean drinking water. Engineer Michael Pritchard did something about it -- inventing the portable Lifesaver filter, which can make the most revolting water drinkable in seconds. An amazing demo from TEDGlobal 2009.