Jan 012012

Creative rights to Sean De Burca at Getty Images

What if we could use fun to change people’s behaviour for the better? I recently stumbled across this old classic that Volkswagen has been working on for awhile.


They have some really interesting ideas in there that I think can be translated further into other elements of the workplace, product design, customer service, etc.

My favourite idea is the Speed Camera Lottery. One gentleman sums it up perfectly with “This is a really positive thing, drive legally and earn money. Perfect!” This really is an ingenious way of rewarding those who are doing the right thing without focusing heavily on the negatives. Too often we tell people ‘don’t do this, don’t do that’ (which puts it at the forefront of their mind!) instead of saying what they can do. i.e. Don’t go outside the boundry vs Please stay within the boundry.

There are heaps of different entires listed under the “Award entries”tab. Be sure to check them out and leave a comment below on which one is your favourite, or if you have any other ideas.

Nov 162011

Michelangelo’s iconic image of God giving life to Adam is reimagined for the robotic age. Here, God gives life to a robot, a new kind of futuristic Adam – Creative rights to Mike Agliolo at Getty Images

A carpenter can’t do their work with just their bare hands – they need tools, their mind and arguably their heart as well. Same thing applies to a person – you can’t think with just your mind. As human beings, we interact with so much more around us. We are just as much outside of our body as we are within.

I’ve just returned home from Ci2011 ‘Deep Conversation on the topic “Super-connected world – marvel or myth?” with a panel of Ray Kurzweil, Tan Le, and Daniel Dennett. The purpose of the talk was to discuss what will happen as technology continues to grow at an exponential rate. Will it be same-same or will our radically different future be a place where we are merged with machines, overcome our mortality, and become billions of times more intelligent because we can now instantly connect to not only the web, but also with each other?

My personal viewpoint is that technology is going to increasingly become a part of us. Already today we feel lost and alone if we lose our smartphones. Not only is it our primary connection point to the world, but it is also where we outsource a wealth of knowledge to. I’d argue this one step further, that we are now pushing ourselves into the cloud with our personal connections becoming digital, programs/apps computing thoughts for us whilst we focus on other things, and we save a lot of our self-data such as photos, music, personal notes, etc. onto the cloud as well. Like the carpenter can’t do work with just their bare hands, are we as human beings already merging ourselves into the digital world?

We are already living our lives outside of our own body.

Please leave your thoughts/comments below on how you see yourself merging with technology (either today or into the future) and if you have any other thoughts as well. Thanks!


Nov 072011

Guy Kawasaki, previously an evangelist of Apple and one of the original marketers of the Mac, shares 12 insightful lessons he has had from working with Steve Jobs.

This came the day after Steve’s passing so was his first presentation of a new slide deck. I think Guy keeps it really interesting, relevent, and shares a wealth of personal knowledge in this talk. It goes for 47mins, but the main talk is approx. 20 mins followed by Q&A.

 Check it out at: 12 Lessons Steve Jobs Taught Guy Kawasaki – http://bit.ly/s4J4Us

Below are some brief notes. Please provide any comments/thoughts in the comment section below.
(Black circles are the key headlines; white circles are my takeaways/insights)

  • Experts are clueless
    • Experts can become too narrow focused sometimes when you need to look at something from multiple points of view to truly understand
  • Customers cannot tell you what they need
    • Asking the question ‘What keeps you up at night’ is the worst question you can ask. Sometimes just finding out what this is a market opportunity!
    • I want better, faster, cheaper (it’s the status quo)
    • Customers can’t tell you how to make a revolution (jumping the curve). They can help you make incremental changes though
    • 10% vs 10x
  • Biggest challenges beget the best work
    • Wouldn’t it be cool if……?
    • Solve the small problems that many people have (great marketing opportunity, that is valuable)
  • Design counts
    • In a world everyone is talking about price, everyone cares about design
  • Presentations: Big graphics. Big fonts
    • Best tip I ever learnt was decide if you’re presenting or creating a document. This will change the focus of how you create your slide deck
  • Jump curves, not better sameness
    • Ice harvester, Ice factory, Fridge (different market curves)
    • Too often companies don’t (can’t) redefine their business. You may need to jump curves
    • It’s not 10% better, it’s 10x better
  • “Works” or “doesn’t work” is all that matters
    • Don’t get stuck in one position. Be open to changing if it makes sense
    • iPhone and iStore story
    • True intelligence is the ability to change ones mind
  • “Value” is different from “price”
    • Engineers have to create and unique/valuable product. Marketers need to convince the world that the product is unique/valuable
    • The value is so great the price becomes irrelevant
  • A players hire A+ players. B players hire C players
    • Don’t lower your standards otherwise you will experience the bozo explosion
    • Hire people who are better than you and be proud of it!
    • Develop the emotional intelligence and let go of the ego. Let these great people do what they are great at
  • Real CEOs can demo
    • If you can’t demo, then quit
  • Real entrepreneurs ship
    • Don’t worry, be crappy. When you do jump curves, the first version can have elements that are crappy but it’s revolutionary! Ship something, get something out there.
  • Some things needs to be believed to be seen
    • This is how it works for an entrepreneur. You need to believe it, push it and then others will see and believe it. Believe in yourself
    • (This is my personal favourite insight from Guy)


Pitching tips (bonus)

  • Pitching is like online dating
    • Compare eHarmony (lots of questions, search for your soulmate) vs Hot or Not (simple, fast, raw)
    • VC’s decide within 30 seconds if they think you’re Hot or Not!
    • In the first 30 seconds, you need to explain ‘what the hell you do’ not who you are
    • They want a product that they themselves want to use
Nov 062011

I recently watched a very insightful and entertaining video on TED.com from Sir Ken Robinson who says ‘Schools kill creativity’. It has come at a really insightful time for me. Whilst I am proud of the fact I have achieved five different pieces of paper from great universities (more info here on my ‘What I’ve done’ page), I’m also currently making decisions on what is next. Is it an MBA? Is it a new career path? Is it the entrepreneurial path? My personal belief is that time will tell, but I’m always on the quest to learn more on how I can make better judgements.

Please have a watch of the video and place any comments/thoughts you have in the comment section below.

Sir Ken Robinson who says ‘Schools kill creativity’ – http://bit.ly/ucGOEB

Below are some of my thoughts on the video
(Black dot points are points from the video. White dot points are my own)

  • Creativity is an important today as is literacy – and we should treat it with the same status
    • Whilst those in the 3rd world still need to bring up basic literacy standards to ensure a high quality of living, how are we in the developed world helping future leaders come up with creative solutions to current problems? We need better training
  • Take a chance. If you don’t know, have a go. Don’t be frightened of being wrong. If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you won’t come up with anything original
    • Often in science it isn’t about finding out what is right, but more often finding out what it isn’t. There was recently funding given to research if a duck quack does indeed not echo. Whilst this might sound absurd (who would rightly pay money to research this), imagine the scientific ramifications and technological opportunities if a new sound was found that didn’t in fact echo!
  • Everywhere you travel in the world; there is the same hierarchy in the education system. Maths/Sciences on top, Arts on the bottom. This hierarchy was originally crated on the basis on the usefulness on skills to learn in order to get a job.
    • IS this still relevant today? As we move into the 21st century, the ever increasing ‘long tail’ in the market allow us to do unique, creative things that were previously unprofitable. We are now able to connect with other likeminded people easier and cheaper than ever before?
    • Traditionally success was critiqued by how much money you had. As work/life balance has come into play over the last 20 years, the value of family connection has begun to take weight. I believe that in the future, more people will opt to learn from experience and do things their way and technology is making it easier for them to do so (internet communications connects us globally and software is making previously ‘specialist’ skills more accessible such as accounting, IT, etc.)
  • Over the next 30 years more people will graduate from university than there ever has been before. Is this reducing the value of a degree (academic inflation)?
    • What are the alternative options? (see above point)
  • Regarding the dance story: ADHD hadn’t been invented – it wasn’t an available condition! Great story
    • Do you find you need to do something else in order to concentrate on work? Do you have to move to think?
    • Someone else may have put her on medication and told her to calm down! Cricky – is this really what we’re thinking about at the moment?
  • If all the insects on earth disappeared today, all forms of life would be dead within 50 years. If human disappeared, then within 50 years, all life would flourish. Our task is to make sure our future generations can make something of it
    • Are we giving them the right tools in order to achieve this?
Nov 042011

Pranav Mistry with SixthSense prototype (from http://www.pranavmistry.com/projects/sixthsense)

We all know and love the iconic story of Apple. Although people perceive them to be the innovators that introduced the Mp3 player market, the Smartphone market and the Tablet market, truth be told, there were several competitors already in that space before Apple came along. What they did differently is that they were pioneers in understanding what consumers wanted and delivering in a stylish, sleek package that was constantly improved with updates, new product launches and 3rd party additions such as the iStore – and everyone wanted one. But what’s next?

Following on from my last post ‘The (un)known future and lessons learnt from the Wright Brothers’, I could easily envision a sleek looking desk when you arrive at work, you place your Smartphone on the corner and the entire desk service becomes alive. Using a digital pen you can touch, open, and edit files (like a mouse), and a Bluetooth keyboards allows you to type from wherever. You could place everyday objects on the table and it’ll recognise it like your coffee mug and how hot it is, a book you’re reading and the notes you’ve made, or your wallet and any information you want. Get sick of looking down at your desk all day and you can ‘push’ it up onto your wall for you and others to more easily interact with.

Going one step further, is to leverage what could have previously been seen as a disability. A case in point is my deafness. Already the technology is available to have Bluetooth synced into the latest hearing aids which allow me to connect with my media players and even phone calls where I can hear what you’re saying in my ear and the microphone from my hearing aid communicates back to you. Looking forward to seeing a few odd looks on trams as I talk to myself!

The world is continuing to evolve and I have just watched these two amazing TED videos that I wanted to share with you. They demonstrate (in an utterly jaw dropping way) how digital technology and information/data could easily be integrated into our lives beyond the mere computer screen.

For maximum impact, I suggest watching them both in order. I love Pattie Maes final comment.

So how do you see yourself integrating into the digital world? Please leave your comments/thoughts below.

Nov 012011

Let me share a story with you about the Wright Brothers. When they first invented flight they flew 120 ft. At the time, this was an astounding achievement and to forsee a world where mankind could fly across the English Channel between Paris and London would have been amazing. 100 years on, man has walked on the moon, robots have roamed mars and satellites are out past Pluto.

The point is, if they could only imagine a world that amazing back then, but human kind has achieved the impossible over the next 50 to 100 years, then what is going to happen in the next 20 to 50 years as technology, communication, and our ability to collaborate continues to improve at an exponential rate?

The PC had a hard drive that cost nearly $1000 per Mb when first realeased. Now my iPhone has 32 Gb (32,000 Mb) and I get it for free with a monthly $89 phone contract. Dropbox has even built a ‘freeium’ business model where 98% of its customers use it for free (Up to 5 Gb), whilst the 2% paying customers cover all the costs, and bring in huge profits.

As I continue to think about what the future will hold, I continue to see these inspiring, creative videos which I’d like to share with you:

We see these amazing technologies, but it is still based on what we see as tangible today, mainly the touch screen device made so popular by today’s Smartphone.

Experts, including Ray Kurzweil in his Google Quarterly article ‘Transgressive Man’ (http://bit.ly/ulwM5c) predict that singularity (a device that is equally as smart as humans – a lot of people see this as AI) will occur around 2029. In less than 20 years, you could be holding a device that is just as capable of thinking as well as you can.

Imagine if we could connect with this device mentally, instead of a mere flick of a hand. Imagine then what the possibilities really could be.

Please share with me any thoughts, videos or comments.

Oct 232011

We’ve gone from vinyl records we could only play in fixed locations, to portable CDs, to super-fluid mp3s, so what is the next evolution? And whilst all this is going on, the issue of music piracy is becoming increasingly rampant.

Instead of claiming it’s all too hard and quitting, we’re beginning to see some amazing videos and experiences from music artists lately. Some great highlights include:

After watching these, I thought to myself ‘I love this and I’d pay for more!’ Could this be the beginning to a solution to music piracy? By putting ‘more’ effort into videos and content, fans will better appreciate the value and develop a stronger sense of connection (and pride in supporting). Fans always want faster, cheaper, better – could this be the next evolution?

I’d really like to see leading musicians and labels aiming to engage fans with added value they can only receive when paying. Already we see games like Mass Effect adding downloadable content to stop cracked gaming. What would happen if we were able to interact with our music or have better access to further information/features from our favourite artists?

Although I’m not a music nerd, I definitely would feel a stronger connection with the artist if this was the case. A statement I hear over and over again is that many people are comfortable with the idea of listening to pirated music to explore and test new music, however if they like a group/musician, they will buy the content in order to support them.

What do you think? Do you think customers/prospects would pay for this added value? Do you think less people will continue to download pirated music? What other examples are you seeing in the market today?