Pushed to the edge

My old mentor would talk a lot about desire. He would say, you only fully pursue what you really desire.

What he was hinting at was that what you do is the signal that you have chosen that action, as a priority over everything else – even if it’s not a conscious choice, it’s a signal to the world – this is my highest priority, a reflection of my desire, at this time. This creates a feedback loop, you then react to what emerges from your choices.

It strikes me that, perhaps we are stuck in the wrong feedback loop.. one of broken systems and equally broken reactions.

I read an article by Steven Sinofsky yesterday about the future of work. ➡️ You can read it here

He was walking through some of the changes and actions that need to be considered around operating a company post pandemic. A lot has changed, not just in the practical realm but also in the psychological.

There was one part of it though that really got my attention. He wrote:

“The inability to sit in a room for hours on end and “hash out” a strategy while still needing to execute has shown that in fact strategy, for lack of a better word, can arise absent any strong centralized approach. Company after company just figured out what to do and delivered. Line people created new ways to work with customers. Video, email, messaging solutions to everything just appeared. Whole new offerings and approaches materialized and were lauded by executives wondering how this happened. Necessity has proven this can work.”

Steven Sinofsky – Creating the Future of Work

I must have been contemplating this in my sleep as I woke up thinking about how, when we were all pushed into a corner, with no other option than to respond with building something new to meet the needs of the situation, we just do it.

In the pandemic, It didn’t matter what kind of company it was, or how they may have previously approached creating new things or solving problems. What needed to happen, just happened, because there was no other choice but to act.

One of the interesting outcomes from COVID is that many companies, even ones that you may have imagined would be economically crushed by the situation, responded, and came out even more resilient that before.

I recall having a conversation with the owners of a small wine and tapas bar who had turned their main social space into a production line of “pandemic survival kits” – which of course contained wine & tapas (essentials). Their business revenue was up 50% from three months before, when they were open.

They were up against a wall, and they responded.  

The same story came from my local produce and pantry store – they doubled their customer base during the pandemic by offering delivery, which they kept after things opened up again. Now they have a business that is double the size of what it was pre-pandemic. I asked them why there didn’t offer delivery beforehand, and they said – we needed to be forced to figure it out to make doing it a priority above managing all things business as usual.

They needed to be forced to make the change that doubled their business. I’m sure that there are countless stories like this in big and small organisations alike.

There was also the opposite side of this. Business and lives significantly adversely impacted by COVID because the systems and governments that are set up and in existence (including being funded by citizen taxes) failed to co-ordinate and respond. When pushed against a wall, they broke.

Why is it, when it comes to transformation, in business or in life, do we need wait until things break, to make the choice we know is best?

If you want to create a life, you must pay attention to your desires. Yet, why is it that we need to be pushed into a corner to act on the things that are truly going to create growth.

Building on the edge.

Statements like “it’s time to build” are not as simple as they sound.

We all know it’s time to build. You simply can’t be alive and plugged into the internet in the past two years and not have noticed the absolute failure of the systems and organisations around us all.

No part of the world was spared the demonstration of just how broken things are. Everyone knows, we need better ways. Better healthcare systems, better community systems, better ways to work, better technology, to be better at listening, acting, and collaborating.

Yet, someone has to actually say – “it’s time to build”, and whole chunks of time need to pass, and still for so many, this isn’t enough reason to top the list of desires and act. This isn’t a judgement, but it is a fair observation.

Think about this on a personal level. How many times have you allowed situations which you knew would be detrimental to your emotional stability, continue until the point that something breaks?

Why do we need wait until things break, to act?

This is the behaviour that’s playing out when you see a mass sell off when the markets move. It reflects a group of people who did not fully consider and make active decisions around how much risk they can tolerance when they bought into their positions.

Do we need to wait until the coral dies, before we invest ocean conservation? Do we need to be censored before we choose decentralised technology?

Do we need to see iphone videos of people dying on the street before we think there is a reason to act on the issue of excessive force with police?

Do we need to wait for the eight women to say she was assaulted before we believe the first one?

Do we need to wait until we break to reach a break though?

Does necessity need to be the mother of invention, or can we make creativity the mother? Don’t we get to choose this?

A call to action.

So here we are. Post pandemic.

We all see how the systems failed. We can’t unknow it, but we can choose to ignore it.  

Right now, we are at time in history where there is such an abundance of opportunity to join and be part of the building of new systems. It doesn’t matter your interests or your skills, there is opportunity for everyone.

Finance? Cheek out DeFi. Medicine? Biotech is booming. Consumer goods? There is a new universe of goods being built in the metaverse. Supply chain? Pick any industry they need you. Environment? Insert one of 20 options here. Social & Equality? Have you investigated joining a DAO?  

+ + + the list is long.

We all have a choice to make.

Do we want to wait until everything falls apart, until our personal and professional selves are up against a wall? Or do we want to do something different? To use this unveiling and huge inbound feedback as a call to action.

Let’s break down “It’s time to build” to its most simple form. What does it take to build anything?  

To build anything, starts with action. One single action, followed by another, and another, until there is momentum.

So here is my call to action. Do one thing.

Just one action, that addresses what you know to be broken.

Maybe it’s changing your risk position, maybe it’s helping your neighbour setup their Metamask so they can participate in a new marketplace, air dropping an NFT to someone new to crypto, speaking up about something uncomfortable, walking away from what isn’t working. Just do one thing.

Then watch what emerges and do another.

A note about the art:

Wassily Kandinsky: Yellow, Red, Blue (1925) – I love how Kandinsky spoke about the importance of authenticity in art. This painting – with all the feelings of life – captured in yellow, red & blue illustrates how the profound and the simple intersect and create something new and beautiful.

Uh-oh.. We need to rewrite the models.

Like many others, I have been watching the financial markets go up and down and around and around in the past few months. A spasmodic like reaction to real life events.

Hertz files for bankruptcy and the share price goes up. Then they release a statement saying, everyone that newly purchased shares, will lose their money – and you guessed it. The share price went up again!

We base so much of our truth and meaning on models that try to make sense of world. They try to predict the future by only looking at a limited number of fixed variables of the past.

Occasionally, they are ‘on trend’, yet even then, it’s under fixed parameters of data that, with a closer look are often not even contextually accurate. Meaning the outcome is more by chance than by design.

I’ve been wondering why, despite reality, our way of prediction (that’s built into systems like the financial markets, political marketplace and relationships) stays basically unchanged, even after things (as in pretty much everything) have clearly, overtly, changed.

We can see it now, under the current conditions, in the way the markets are modelled to predict trend within a spectrum of “normal” that’s based on outdated past behaviours. The centre point (or mean) it’s pegging its “normal” point to has moved.

Yet here we are with a model that’s still operating based on the past.

Reality no longer fits the model.

It’s hard not to ask. Did it ever?

It all feels so strange to watch because, at a primal level, we all feel that the model for predicting anything should be led by reality not the other way around. Yet we are watching a society (not just relating to financial markets) be led by a model, that runs in spite of reality.

Is this the lived experience of post-truth?

Our political systems are modelled on a time, social structure and environment long since passed. Our education is modelled on an industrial system that has gone through a revolution, (and about to go through another) and our models for how we gather, assess and understand information have been broken open by digital connection and technology.

It all needs a hard reset.

Has the time come where we need to re-write all our models of reality?

If so, what is it that is important to us, as individuals, groups, collectives and countries, that we wish capture within this new sense making foundation?

In a world where our most precious resource, our time and attention, are up for grabs do we all need to learn how to write our own sense making models in order to survive?

To create strong models for sensemaking we need to get really good at one thing; telling ourselves the truth.

This sounds really basic, however, at its core we are speaking to the foundations of human behaviour.

Trust, empathy, connection, decisions. They all stem from what we think is true about the world. The better you get at understanding the way things really are, in any situation, the better you can trust, the deeper the empathy, the stronger the connection and the clearer the decision.

The key to using information as a decision-making ingredient, is accepting that there is a good chance, that some part of it, is incorrect. The minute you fully accept this notion, it becomes much easier to be objective about what you are hearing, how you decipher it, and how to make decisions accordingly.

It’s a willingness to accept that most of the time, we base our decisions on what we believe to be true, what we hope to be true and what we think might be true. Not on what’s really actually happening.

I recently read this discourse by Kapil Gupta and at the end he says –

What a serious man will do well to understand is; That what actually happens . . . Will always be the product of Truth.

Not the product of belief and opinion and hope. Therefore, if the thing that is going to happen, Is going to happen according to The Truth, And not according to one’s beliefs, opinions, and hope,

Then does it take overwhelming intelligence to devote oneself to learning The Truth, Rather than continue to pour his life into his beliefs, opinions, and hopes?

There are lots of techniques to check your bias and correctness. I’m sure there are countless books and courses on the topic. Which, if this is your way of learning, I encourage you to pursue them.

Personally I like to keep things pretty simple. The easiest way I’ve found is to simply observe how I react to things and then investigate why.  One I often use, is to check my own excitement.

I listen to a fair number of podcasts. For me podcasts are compelling as a medium because they are firsthand. You get a first-person view into someone’s thinking with tonal nuance.

I often find myself deeply moved by podcasts, especially long form style interviews that have the time and space to get into the detail of where ideas came from. I noticed in myself that I would often finish a podcast, of this style, with a sense of excitement.

Some may think ‘that’s great’. You are excited, motivated… all the “good emotions”. 

Excitement is a visceral emotional response.

If I was feeling another kind of visceral emotional response, like anger, I would immediately question it, question myself.

Excitement on the other hand is, pleasurable.

It’s difficult, to instinctively separate what is true, from what we desire to be true. To seek truth above the seeking of that which is pleasurable to know or experience. It’s easier to be hedonistic than honest.   

So, I set up a trap of sorts, to catch and check my excitement.

Whenever I’m feeling excited about a podcast, I instantly seek out 2-3 other interviews with that same person, and listen to them.

I have found that this has been the fastest way to understand if the person/ idea I am excited about is a sales pitch. Someone that says the same thing in three slightly different ways to three different people is not spontaneously talking to you. It’s rehearsed, practiced and about persuasion.

If someone can talk about the same concept, from three different perspectives, whilst in real time stumbling across new aspects as they are talking. That is something to get excited about!

That’s where I dig into the research, buy the book, reach out to connect and have a conversation. Then, for me I am no longer excited about what the person themselves have said, but about my own curiosity to dig into a topic, learn and understanding something new.

There’s a whole industry on daily gratitude habits, and an even bigger one on daily mediation practice. What about creating one to check your own sense-making? A sensemaking habit to fact-check the information you took in that day.

We base so much of our lives on the output from models that are themselves based on false signals from situations that are not even real. So much of what we experience in the world is a result of us outsourcing our foundational sense-making to systems that fail us by being based on models of sensemaking that are manipulative and largely incorrect.  

Like Seth Godin recently said

“we persuade way too many people to lower their expectations”.

We do this by naming hope, belief and theory – truth.

If we are open to realising just how bad our models are at predicting the future, let alone knowing where we are at present. If we can be open and curious enough to find ways to trip ourselves up, to tell ourselves the truth over pleasure or sedation, or apathy. We might just stop looking at the false cues and clues long enough to take what actually is and turn it into the countless possibility it could be.

Who knows, we might actually build some new systems as a by-product.


Digital Tribalism


“You must be the change you want to see in the world” ~ Gandhi.


Has connection got worse since we became so digitally connected or do we simply need to up-skill to catch the wave of modern tribalism?


Digital Tribalism

It’s difficult to miss the extent of which the world has changed in the past three decades. The exponential growth of technology has created a dynamic shift in every aspect of our everyday lives. How we eat, interact and work has shifted onto a mobile platform from dinner via UberEATS to a corporate employment strategy that involves filters on Snapchat, the world is different.

All of the above has been given a lot of airtime and a lot of consideration around how it impacts us on personal, country and global levels.

How we create, build and interact within community has also experienced exponential change. This change has caused great impact on the individual level that has been the focus of considerable negative coverage.

People feel disconnected. People feel lonely.

The thing is, loneliness is proof that your innate search for connection is still intact. The philosopher Aristotle, in his famous conversations with Plato said that there should be three parts to a loving friendship: Unity, Pleasure and Goodness. These are innate skills we are all equipped with, so the only thing standing between any person and their ability to create deep bonds with another is lack of access to others.

I have thought about this a lot. How it could be, that in a time where we are more connected to more places and people than ever before, the average persons experience of connection has decreased.

People have been saying tribal communities are a thing of the past, but I find myself questioning if this is really true, not to belittle the personal experience of people feeling this, more so to understand if it is that the opportunity to connect has actually increased (as you would expect inline with the advancement of digital connectivity) and we just all missed the how-to on YouTube?

Do we need, as a species; to rewrite the way we think connection is made, in order to open the gates to our new global tribe?

Historically if you connected with someone outside of your direct community, it was dangerous, often resulting in loss of life, so we have some deep wiring that unconsciously drives us to be afraid of reaching out into the unknown. Our wiring needs to untangle from the past and we need to reset our thinking about how and where connection is created.

If you set aside, all of the notions you have for how friendship, real lasting deep connected friendship is created historically, and forget any rules or conditioning you have around where it’s found and just look at the tools you have at your fingertips to create new connections in your life, how would you do it?

How would you search for your tribe?

It’s a question that forces you to look deeply within, past the stuff you do or the job you have or your role in your direct family. It is an asking of self; who am I? What kind of person am I? What am I really passionate about? And how do I find people that I will relate to?  What do I admire in others, what am I interested in learning about or being exposed to? What languages, places, subjects or activities are am I interested in?

Well, the chances are, if you set aside a day, just one Sunday even, to search online, on the global platform of connectivity you have at your fingertips, you would probably find groups, conferences, communities and institutions that share your interests. You will probably find them locally, or within your country, but you would also find them globally, in new and exciting places. You even have algorithms that have been specially created and optimised to support your search, and could probably find options that tick many boxes on your tribal wish list.

Perhaps the issue with digital social connection is not that its all “surface level” but that we, the user, are treating it that way and the results are simply a reflection of what we are putting in.

Friendship, the kind that Aristotle spoke about, with unity, pleasure and goodness takes effort. Real life effort. Regardless of where and how they are formed, this rule applies.

You make the connection. Then you do the work. Then it takes time. After all tribal trust was built over generations, not over night, and even with this generational membership every new generation underwent initiation and event to prove commitment to the tribe.

Finding your tribe is not as easy as a click of the button, the click and the button is just the new pathway for you to build and grow with other humans. Creating lasting bonds however is your personal choice and responsibility towards commitment.

Maybe when everyone stops dismissing digital social connection as “just fun” or “not important”, and starts approaching it as you would any other community, asking what are it’s needs, which needs do you personally want to serve and how it can serve you in return.

Ultimately, it comes back to what it always has, how much time, energy and effort are you prepared to put into building connection in your life? And how prepared are you to reach out and be vulnerable to create that connection?

It’s easy to read the Gandhi quote at the top of this and jump to the “change the world” narrative, however I urge you to consider it in another way, a little closer to home, “You must be the change you want to see in the world”, in your world, in your life, with your own personal ability to connect. Be the one to change your view on how, so you can head out into the world and find your tribe.

I like to think of this as a life changing kind of crowd-sourcing…I call it Digital Tribalism.


The New Power

The recent wave of political decision relating to visa and immigration got me thinking about how we distinguish authority from power.

As the elected officials of the countries by which we reside the political figures have the ability to impress these decision upon us. It is however fundamentally important that we as individuals start to differentiate the legal authority and ramifications of these decisions and the actual real power they have over our ability to move forward.

One of the big conversations that have come out of these recent decisions around immigration has been how the restriction of employment of foreign talent is seen as a restriction on innovation. Maybe on a surface level this holds some truth however it strikes me that perhaps the government backwards step on immigration has really done us all a favour. Allow me to explain.

Over the past twenty years during the rise and rise of technological advancement, it’s difficult to cover the depth of change that has occurred within every aspect of the commercial landscape. A rate of dramatic change that shows no real signs of slowing any time soon. One of the biggest casualties of rapid change can be our ability to change our mindset and approach to match it. If you really look at the way we approach innovation within companies, how much has the way we acquire talent and pursue innovation really changed to match the environment it’s trading within?

Historically the model has been that the key innovative skill in any organisation was derived from its core internal team. That specialty, solutions and technicality was really something you held within the company. When looking at this model it is easy to understand why large established or even new organisations following this model might feel a little concerned when their access to directly employ core skill is largely restricted.

If the current path is no longer viable, is it time for the company to try something new?

When approaching how we solve core problems and innovate does the organisational model need to be reengineered?

The new book by Andrew McAfee & Erik Brynjolfsson’s called ‘Machine, Platform & Crowd’ goes on a deep dive into the current and potentially new way of to approach the place of the company in society. They break it down in a great way, proposing that companies have three core aspects of function. In the past it has been focused on “Mind, Product and Core” verses a new system of “Machine, Platform & Crowd”. At the heart of this topic the real questions that companies are contending with is how do they balance and operate in an environment when “Machine v’s Mind”, “Platform v’s Product” and “Crowd v’s Core.” are being asked of everything they do?

This way of thinking raises a number of key questions around how you approach, acquire and use talent and innovation within an organisation. It’s a back to the basics conversation to consider what the core role of the company actually is in a future where Machine, Platform and Crowd hold so much power and potential. Is it the company’s role to be able to solve all the problems internally or has its role shifted to be able to take an externally created innovation or solution to an internal problem and turn that into a deliverable product or service. Historically it has been a game of both or nothing, but with the advance of technology within the crowd sourcing environment have the rules of the game now changed?

The discussion around this topic can get heated when it starts taking a road of one or the other, so for example, is machine a full replacement of mind. However that narrative is missing the critical point of this evolution. The real space that the company requires the focus is how to augment the two for its greater benefit and the benefit of those it strives to serve and going back to the simple questions is where it starts.

What is the best way to use machine technology and platforms to assist and expedite growth when these tools are coupled with the smart and agile minds of the organisation?

Under the operational model the company needs to let go of being the problem solver and become specialists in how to clearly define the problem needing to be solved. They need to become havens for defining what they really need to innovate to achieve their desired product or service and in turn how to clearly articulate this to the crowd.

The company needs to let go of being the problem solver and becoming specialists in how to clearly define the problem needing to be solved.

The crowd then becomes the innovators and the problem solvers.

Once the solution or innovation is sourced, the company must be prepared and setup to bring that innovation back into the organisational fold, to tweak and personalise the functionality to fit within the real service offering required.

It means the companies core focus is predominantly where it always should be; focused on what the client, market segment or industry its serving really wants and needs. More so focused how they can best deliver that in a timely manner.

It means that the success game will shift from being company’s that lead because they have the best talent, to company’s leading because they ask the best questions and can clearly define the specific needs of their target client. In the crowdsourcing of talent, everyone has an equal platform, the difference in outcome relies purely on the parameters given to be solved.

One of the most exciting (and interesting) aspects of this is that in so many instances the best solution does not actually come from the typical skill set or person an organisation would have hired for the purpose. This has been shown in countless examples to date, and will no doubt continue to trend in this direction. When single mums in London can deliver a coding improvement over all the qualified engineers and a student in India can invent major environmental advancements the social impact of organisations outsourcing innovation far outreaches pure commercial gain.

Now that governments all around the globe are taking restrictive steps with visa’s of skills workers, it is time for organisations to step up and recognise that governments might have authority to make these decisions, but as founders, leaders and individuals we have the real power to decide how and where innovation comes from and how much of it we want to have flowing through our workforce. ­­­

You can find yourself a copy of ‘Machine, Platform & Crowd’ on Amazon by clicking here