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.

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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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Leadership: A Perennial and Millennial Issue

Leadership is one of the most pressing needs of our time. As the world we live in becomes more complex, and the diversity we represent uncovers a plethora issues needed to be addressed, we need people who can navigate us through the challenges and inspire us to greater things.

Identifying leadership is an art and a science. There many who may claim to possess the traits of a leader, but few who have the actual ability to lead. It is a unique mix of empathy and confidence; the ability to know yourself and understand others. A leader acts with courage in spite of fear. A leader steps up to the plate when they sense uncertainty in others. They call it as it is when no one else has the guts.

Adam Canwell makes a point that companies typically see leadership as something possessed by a select few. It’s usually a term used to refer to people at the top of the organization and “star players” who have been identified as having potential. But in my experience, leadership applies to everyone, at every level of an organization.

Anyone and everyone is capable of being a leader. These were two of the key findings from Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends survey report.

We should be ecstatic that 53 percent of Millennials aspire to become the leader or a senior executive at their organization. People want to be their best and motivate others to do the same, and the world will be a much better place because of it. The challenge is how we, the leaders of today, guide them towards this achievement. Leadership is teachable, and learnable. There are many different paths.

My advice to aspiring leaders is to become familiar with the approaches, dive into them, and choose the path that best suits your personality and emotional make-up. A great place to start is Bob Seelert’s book Start With the Answer: Wisdom for Aspiring Leaders.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Searching for Peter Drucker

I recently contributed a blog to the Drucker Society Europe, about what I learned and carried with me over the years from Peter Drucker, the man Business Week said “invented management.” As I explained in that article, I’ve been channeling from Drucker for 40 years, ever since I encountered his book The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (1967) while working at Mary Quant’s fashion house in London. Drucker’s revelations about managerial philosophy became embedded in my own thinking and operating framework.

While Peter Drucker is well-known in certain academic circles and business press, he remains largely unfamiliar to a new generation of managers and business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. Peter Drucker’s management philosophy has not dated at all since it was first popularized in the 1960s—in fact, his work is more prescient and relevant today than ever. This is the man who phrased the term “knowledge worker”—and presaged how information would become the world’s greatest currency—in the 1960s.

It’s time to reinsert Drucker’s thoughtful, strategic, and profoundly humane voice into the present conversation about the workplace and executive leadership. I’d like to help by bringing attention to “The Global Peter Drucker Challenge” essay contest for students and professionals from the ages of 18 to 35. The theme of this year’s competition is “Managing Oneself in the Digital Age”; essays are asked to be between 1,500-3,000 words and the submissions deadline is July 15, 2015. Winners will receive free registration to the Global Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna this November (a $2,000 EURO value all-access pass, with a priceless opportunity to hobnob with some of the world’s top executives and business thought leaders) with first-prize winners in two categories also receiving $1,000 EURO prize money and a one-year subscription to the Harvard Business Review.

For the uninitiated, the world of Peter Drucker and his humanistic management philosophy is an inexhaustible treasure trove that awaits discovery.

Image attribute/source: Peter Drucker /

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bursting With Enthusiasm

On a recent visit to Saatchi & Saatchi Synergize in Cape Town, I received a particularly enthusiastic welcome from the team. It was loud, energetic and infectious. It was fantastic and I loved it. Thanks again.

The welcome made me reflect on how music can breed enthusiasm. Different beats, tempos and tunes enthuse us in different ways. When I hear the song ‘Thunder Road’ by Bruce Springsteen I certainly don’t just sit around and listen. It makes me want to get up and get moving. It fills me with energy and enthusiasm for the day ahead. Fist-pump optional.

Enthusiasm is about approaching life with gusto and giving things your all. It makes a difference. Children certainly have their fair share of it. And lucky for us, it’s contagious. Demonstrations of enthusiasm by teachers, coaches and mentors are often alleged to have inspired and motivated.

The benefits of enthusiasm should not be underestimated. It’s a crucial part of overcoming challenges, solving problems and reaching goals. It gives us staying power in situations where our inner skeptic might be telling us to throw in the towel. The All Blacks have it each and every time they step on to the field. You won’t hear the word ‘half-hearted’ anywhere near ‘All Blacks.’

You often see it at the Oscars. In 1997 Cuba Gooding Jr. channeled his inner Rod Tidwell by repeatedly screaming “I love you!” and jumping around on stage. In 1999 Roberto Benigni won the Best Foreign-Language Film award for Life is Beautiful and upon hearing his name, hopped into the air and across seats to receive his award.

Great leaders have it in droves, as reflected in their great speeches. When Martin Luther King said “I have a dream” he had enthusiasm. When John F. Kennedy said “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” he had enthusiasm. People listened. People cared. They felt something.

Enthusiasm is all around us; it comes in many forms, and thank goodness for that, because it would be a pretty staid world without it.

Image attribute /source: SaatchiSynergize /

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Foodie Top Ten

Love a list. The below is courtesy of one of the team at My Food Bag, Danielle ‘Daikon’ Pearson. Yum. Enjoy.

10 foods I cannot live without!
  1. Avocado: this wee nutrient powerhouse is full of a number of important nutrients including electrolytes potassium and magnesium, as well as fibre and some of those heart healthy unsaturated fats. Avocados are a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant contributing towards optimal heart health, blood sugar control and weight management (through increasing the satiety of meals and snacks). I enjoy mine in the weekends for breaky with scrambled eggs, bacon or salmon, a grilled tomato, spinach and loads of fresh parsley.
  2. Salmon: another ‘superfood’ high in those powerful anti-inflammatory fats, in particular, omega 3’s. Omega 3’s play a vital role in protecting our cell health and function, as well as cognitive functioning. My absolute favourite way to eat salmon is my mum’s famous salmon en croute and a fresh side salad.
  3. Blueberries: these little balls of goodness are rich source of antioxidants and vitamin C. Research shows blueberries are extremely beneficial for the nervous system and can actually improve your memory! I had friends over for dinner the other night and had a heap of blueberries to use up so I made a macaroon tart topped with blueberries and pistachios, yum!
  4. Almonds: this popular and very versatile nut is the seed or pit of the fruit from an almond tree, a cousin of the peach, cherry and apricot tree. Almond fruit production peaks during the warmer summer months, but luckily for us, almonds are available all year round. One of my favourite ways to start the day is my breakfast smoothie with almond milk, frozen banana, almonds or almond butter, cinnamon and whatever else tickles my fancy (eg. berries, cacao and/or spinach).
  5. Cacao bean: cacao comes from the cacao bean and its name literally translates to ‘the food of God’s’ in the Aztec language due to its super high nutrient profile. Cacao is extremely high in antioxidants (apparently, even more so than green tea and red wine – great reason to eat more chocolate), and is also high in magnesium and iron. This makes it a great addition to your post-workout smoothie, reducing free radical damage and aiding muscle recovery and energy production. I like to make my own chocolate ‘ice cream’ at home using frozen bananas, cacao powder, almonds or almond butter and a drizzle of coconut cream. Yum!
  6. Bananas: you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em! Bananas are another food high in magnesium, potassium, and natural sugars, making them a suitable food for active people. Along with my breakfast smoothies and ‘ice cream’, you can’t beat a slice of homemade banana and walnut loaf with butter, or ricotta and a drizzle of honey for a real treat!
  7. Eggs: another love or hate food. Eggs can be eaten at any time of the day (breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks), they’re super cheap, super versatile and SUPER nutritious. Some even call eggs the ‘natural nutrient pill’ because they’re full of nutrients essential for life. Along with my weekend cook up, another favourite way to eat eggs for me is a good old eggs bene on potato or kumara rostis (instead of bread), with salmon and a drizzle of hollandaise.
  8. Coconut (anything!): coconuts have such a unique flavour and are another very versatile food. Coconuts are high in fibre and iron, with the coconut water being particularly high in electrolytes – a much healthier alternative to many sports drinks! One of my favourite things to eat is a spicy curry using coconut milk or cream. My sister makes a delicious Thai duck curry with lychees, and Nadia’s Thai red chicken and pineapple curry is another fav I have recently added to the list!
  9. Cheese (esp. feta and blue): according to one website, there are over 2000 varieties of cheese and mozzarella rates as the global fav! A refreshing blue cheese, walnut and pear salad on a hot day is one of my favs!
  10. Orange kumara: a sweeter alternative to red kumara, orange kumara is packed with fibre and vitamin C, beneficial for your immune system! Who doesn’t love homemade chips and wedges?! I make these to go with healthy homemade burgers, pizzas, fish n chips, or even eaten cold as a snack.

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