Bad Coffee, 3D TV Turn off and the Marvels of the IPad

I was meeting a couple of business contacts in a soul less Auckland Westfield mall yesterday. We were looking for a place for a coffee, disappointed our favourite spot had been taken over by yet another coffee franchise that sells expensive buckets of scalded brown milk.

Sadly, we ended up at another coffee franchise spot, at least it was a good place to stop and talk, and the mall, antiseptic as it is, is close to home.

We came across a mall display of the latest 3D TVs, all with $250 glasses set up in front like those pole-mounted binoculars you get at scenic spots.

We all agreed what a turn off the whole thing was. How annoying would it be to constantly have the whole family having to wear three D glasses in the living room? Not to mention $1000 for the four pairs for an average household. What happens when you switch channels or hit a non 3D programme? Glasses on, glasses off. What will it do to interpersonal skills in the home if everyone is wandering around with 3D glasses on. And then how much better is the 3D anyway in terms of viewing experience? Not much, and it looks terrible without the glasses. How will that work as you sit in the lounge browsing magazines, your laptop, the remote, your cup of tea?

A definite 0 out of 10 for first generation 3D TV.

Ahh, now contrast this with our next technology experience over coffee, the IPad. Now I had thought, really, isn’t it a toy, and how much do I need one as well as the Iphone, the MacBook and the I Mac?

Well I do.

Sorry, it is amazing. Its potential for me to use in business and to research things I like and care about is fantastic. Gone will be the days of bringing up sites and pressos and info on a laptop and clumsily swivelling it round across the cafe table or board table for people to look at. Gone are the days of scribbling models and plans in a moleskin or notebook. All this will be done on the Ipad. Magazines such as Wired and Popular Mechanics have great apps for their mags. They give the magazine browsing experience a whole new dimension.

And then of course reading books, surfing sites etc etc is just a whole new experience. Another toy, another gadget. Yes, but in our, lovely post modern world, toys, gadgets, work, fun, passion and inspiration continue to converge. Isn’t that what evolution is all about?

All Things Bright and Beautiful

“ Storytelling reveals meaning without commiting the error of defining it.” ….Hannah Arendt

People, what ever walk of life hold great knowledge. In the western world we have divided people up according to the their education, their intellect and their wealth. Those that have, and those that have not. Those who are bright, and those who are dumb.

When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, and I imagine still today, parents put a great deal of stock in a child being bright. Bright was usually defined as doing well at school, reading a lot, having a good vocabulary and comprehension, or often being ‘ahead of your years’ in numeracy or literacy.

I think this is a rather narrow definition of brightness. Bright is about light, about shining. All human beings can shine given the right environment.

If we see humanity as having endless potential, then all can be bright. The old Christian hymn, went :

“ All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, the Lord God Loves Them All.”

So when one stops to think of the people of the world as having limitless potential, more and more untold stories emerge.

My great passion as a journalist, and still today, was to find the story in any person I dealt with. There was never ‘no’ story. In fact our training as journalists in the 1970s created a culture where it was completely unacceptable to come back from an assignment with no story.

Not only did you need to turn up with a story, it had to have a fresh angle, one that no one else had. So it had to be an untold story, with facts, and turns of phrase that were new. In radio, one was always hunting for the unique, or ‘telling’ sound bite. I taught myself to scan a conversation or an interview for fresh turns of phrase, that sound bite, that aphorism, that anecdote, that recollection that would sum up a whole story and strike a chord.

I was teaching myself to create an environment to enable anyone to be ‘bright’ about their story; where their conscious and unconscious met, and they spoke unfettered, with honesty and authenticity. This was great fun with politicians and business leaders who went to great lengths to obscure the truth, to control what they said consciously to the degree that there is not depth, validity or authenticity to what they say.

Tellingly, it was the man on the street or eyewitnesses to events that produced the most colourful and authentic interviews and soundbites. They told it like it was.

The art and science of great story encourages all in leadership to give up this control. It is ineffectual. No one believes it. The most effective leaders are ‘comfortable in their own skin’ and so when they speak, when they communicate, there is no separation between conscious and unconscious. They trust and are therefore trusted. They allow themselves to shine, to be bright, they do not obscure, and they achieve the results that they wish for.

Hard Wired For Story

I read the other day about a teacher who asked their young class whether they would like a story read to them, or a story told to them. Without pausing to think they all said ‘tell’ us a story.

Excuse the pun, but that is very telling. I reckon they instantly and instinctively knew that being told a story was going to be more engaging, and an experience, rather than something being read, more by rote, to them.
Our relationship to story is primal and it strikes a note at the heart of our brain, in the limbic system. Rational and more linear information does not sink in the same way.
So our brains are ‘hard wired’ to accept story as the most powerful way for us to learn.
Scientists believe this goes way back over many millennia to when we first evolved to become mammals. Esteemed American psychologist Renee Fuller says that we learnt what is called ‘object constancy’ where we became aware of stimuli that enabled us to distinguish danger. We eventually came to form language, with nouns to describe this stimuli and then developed verbs to describe actions, so snakes bite and lions attack. These linkages of object to action in ancient times were critical to our survival as they warned us of danger, and alerted us to the presence of food.
These cognitive links for humans became the way we formed story.