Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Cemento

Creativity is at the Heart of Human Progress – and a fine exponent of the art is my friend – Giuliano Mazzuoli, a Florentine designer and inventor of the classic school. Check out my favourite watch, the Manometro in stainless steel, and the table clock I can’t live without. Both look like they’ve come straight out of the fastest, newest Fighter Jet cockpit. Giuliano’s CEO, Simone D’Aleo contacted me yesterday with the latest news. The Manometro Cemento. A wristwatch made of Cement – the first ever. Pure. Clean. Strong.

At 70 years old, Giuliano gives all us oldies hope. Creativity is a fire that burns forever.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Victoria Wood RIP

My best friend (and first wife – Barbara) and our daughter Nikki’s favourite comedienne, Victoria Wood, died this week.  A Lancastrian to the core, she was the spokesperson and the mirror for English social class warfare.  Everyone loved Victoria and everyone of my generation has a favourite piece of hers.  Last night over dinner with half a dozen Lancastrian friends, the stories were recited and acted out to laughter all round.  Victoria spent her last hour telling jokes to her children.  Who couldn’t help but laugh.  Classic.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Just received my first 4 copies of 64 Shots – Leadership in a Crazy World – my new book. It’s my 6th published book and despite the ease and convenience of E-Books and kindles, nothing beats the touch, feel, smell of a brand new, fresh off-the-galleys, hardback book. (Nothing except maybe the thrill of actually seeing it being picked up and purchased in an old time physical book store – roll on June 21.)


Monday, April 18, 2016

First We Say Sorry

I haven’t posted in April – have been contemplating whether to continue the blog, or whether it’s time to move on.

We continue.

But first we say sorry – properly.

The 13th most famous quote is Love Story’s “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”. I couldn’t disagree more. I’m more in Ryan O’Neal’s own deadpan riposte to Barbra Streisand two years later “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard”.

In life – and in business – I’m more with Bernie Taupin “Sorry seems to be the hardest word”.

A study by Roy Lewicki at Ohio State has come up with a six step check-list designed to help you and your ‘victim’ regroup and move on.
  • Acknowledge your responsibility
  • Offer amends
  • Express regret
  • Explain what went wrong
  • Declare repentance
  • Ask for forgiveness.
So, say sorry, explain what went wrong, take responsibility, commit to never making the same mistake again, make amends and ask for forgiveness.

Whilst holding eye contact, speaking caringly and looking for a physical signal to accelerate the healing.

You may have to bear a vent – then repeat the steps.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

The ‘Art’ in Artificial Intelligence

Author Brian Green once said that art makes us human. Across the board it seems that many of us agree. Some call it culture, some call it creativity, but we all seem to believe that art in some form differentiates us humans from the rest of the living world or other forms of intelligence.

A recent report from UK-based innovation org Nesta argues that countries should nurture their creative industries and concentrate on jobs in creative industries as artificial intelligence might take other jobs away. But what happens when artificial intelligence starts to create art, which we thought was a just-human domain?

Google recently held an exhibition in San Francisco which featured art created by its ‘art generator’ Deep Dream. I have to say the art pieces – they sold for quite a bit by the way - were intriguing.

Google’s Deep Dream works with neural networks. Usually mechanisms like that are used to identify photos or faces online. In this instance, instead of recognizing a face, the programme searches for patterns. These patterns – regardless of how small – are enhanced over and over again by Deep Dream. The finished art works look a lot different than the originals and the reason for that is that we don’t recognise half the patterns Deep Dream does.

The idea of computers creating art doesn’t make sense to some. It might even make you feel uneasy. Computers are logical and rational – they don’t hold any of the attributes that we ascribe to art or culture:  on mood, nuance and emotion, as noted in an article on Economic Insights.

Mark Riedl, associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology hits the nail on its head in saying that creativity might not be unique to human intelligence, but that it’s one of the ‘hallmarks’ of our intelligence.

Maybe the question isn’t, or shouldn’t, be if artificial intelligence can perform certain tasks – like creating art for instance. Instead we should think about how impressive it is if something to be made by us humans – regardless of whether that’s art or artificial intelligence. After all people like technology, but for the most part, people really love other people.

Image source: Mike Tyca

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Here’s an example of a traditional institution that is changing with the times.

Despite the fact that so many people seem to believe that libraries are a thing of the past, they are still around and they are evolving.

A recent article in The Atlantic highlighted how libraries are changing from being a space where knowledge is consumed to a place where things are created. Five years ago the Fayetteville Free Library in New York brought a 3D printer into the library. That was the start of the first modern makerspace. Today that space has evolved into a 2,500-square-foot Fab Lab and a Creation Lab for Teens.

Having these makerspaces in libraries enables everybody to become a creator; a skill in today’s world that is as highly prized as reading was in the early century.

Jeroen de Boer, co-author of the book Makerspaces in Libraries, calls these revamped libraries “DIY spaces”. They are places where people can exchange knowledge and ideas to create and innovate. Rather than obtaining knowledge (many of you may be too young to remember the time where we had to go to a library to find out about stuff), it’s about engaging with knowledge. That’s great.

This is exactly the type of response that needs to happen from institutions whose functions are no longer in sync with the times. The post-office is another example of an institution in need of a makeover, and many around the world have re-positioned themselves as service providers in the world of e-commerce. It may not be mail that they’re carrying, but they are still in the business of delivery.

Image source: cmleinfofeed.com