Wednesday, 2 July 2008


There are 6000 words in the English language representing emotions.1 Can you name more than 30?

How does this affect your understanding of other peoples feelings?

1Tony Robbins @ TED

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Some advice on inspiration

(1) Never apologize for your enthusiasm, passion, or vision.
(2) Never apologize for being inspired by another human being.
(3) Seek out inspiration (don't wait for it).
(4) Inspire others by sharing your talents and time.
(5) And no matter what: Don't let the bozos grind you down, ever.

From zenpresentation.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Career Advice from Dilbert

Scott Adams, the creator of the wonderfully funny (and scarily accurate) Dilbert comic strip shares his advice on how to have a successful life.

If you want an average successful life, it doesn’t take much planning. Just stay out of trouble, go to school, and apply for jobs you might like. But if you want something extraordinary... become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Can we fix it? Yes we can!

There I was, minding my own business on the web when out of the blue I got hit with this on a corporate webpage:

"Our principal businesses are positioned in large growth markets driven by the continuing trend to outsource the maintenance and management of buildings and by the high levels of investment required to renew the UK's health, leisure and education facilities and its transport and utility infrastructure. With over 8,500 employees, we aim to be the partner of choice in the built environment where we can provide integrated solutions for our broad range of public, private and regulator sector clients."

Ouch! I should have been wearing a hard hat for that one. I think, roughly translated into English it means that they 'build stuff'. Please dear reader, if you think you can rescue the true message from that horribly verbose rubble pile of words please let me know!

Jack of All Trades.....

‘Man is the only animal that has bothered to work out half-a-dozen quite different ways of swimming, yet we are stillthe slowest of all swimming animals.’
-Miles Kington.

Two points from this great quote.

1. It's no use being an all rounder if you are useless at everything.

2. Don't reinvent stuff that has already been invented. Look around at your competitors, colleagues, friends and allies. If they've done it before, borrow it.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Harry Potter and the Death of Bookshops

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsIt probably hasn't escaped your notice that the final Harry Potter book is out this weekend. Looking a bit harder at some of the reporting around this there's considerable grumbling that Harry Potter is the death of independent bookshops and the death of literature and the book industry. I'm not going to argue with facts and figures presented by experts (largely because I can't be bothered) and I'm going to skim over the fact that Harry Potter has brought millions of pounds to it's publisher and all manner of bookshops and even managed to do wonders for film making in the UK. It's a fair point that independents can't compete on price with the bulk sellers like Waterstones and supermarkets that sell at a loss just to get people through the door. So they'll just have to compete on other fronts that big shops can't manage - quality, personal service.

Here are my top 10 hints for getting the most out of Harry Potter (some of which are admittedly a bit late)
  1. Throw a Potter Party - lots of the big shops are doing this, but local shops can make even more of it. Build a community who cares about you and they won't mind paying a little extra to buy from Rita or Chris vs. buying from faceless corporation.
  2. Throw an anti-Potter Party - if you really don't like the book, or don't think you're going to sell many otherwise, make a point of it. Throw a party celebrating other books. Maybe you have some Potter's available at full RRP for the desperate, you can take the high ground *and* take their cash if you advertise it with some humour.
  3. Vouchers - give away books of vouchers with the book for future discounts, you could even have date ranges on them to keep people coming in for the next few months.
  4. Discounts - give people a discount for buying other books, Borders are doing 20% off all books other than Harry Potter before midnight on Friday.
  5. Rely on your locality - independents are saying they can't compete with supermarket prices. If you can't/won't take a hit on your profit margins rely on the fact that people might not want to trek to get a copy of the book and will pay a premium for convenience
  6. Deliver - take your locality even further and jump on your bike. Take pre-orders and a promise to deliver the book to their doorstep.
  7. Reward Schemes - For 3 months before the release of the book offer a stamp scheme, every time you buy a book you get a stamp which will give you a pound off the rrp Harry Potter when it comes out. If you have to give it away free do you really care if it means you've sold 18 books to someone?
  8. Sign people up - if they're pre-ordering, make sure you make the most of having their contact details. Send newsletters, offers and information before and after the event.
  9. Reading groups - just 'cos kids love Potter doesn't mean their parents do. Use Potter to start a reading group that kids can join while their parents browse for their own reading material, or have a coffee. Once you've finished reading the Harry Potter books, slip straight on to something else and keep going.
  10. Potter Support Groups - for the more grown up readers extend the life of the book, have a series of discussion meetings before the launch re-reading the old ones, then discussing the final book, then discussing other similar books.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

How to teach

Had a bit of a break, but now I'm back!

I stumbled across a cool site today: Amateur Astronomy. Work your way through it, it'll only take you 5 minutes or so.

It's nothing flashy, complicated or groundbreaking, but it is a very simple tutorial on a few key points. That exemplifies some key points in teaching.

  • Minimise: break it down into a very small number of simple points per lesson. Have multiple lessons if necessary.
  • Repeat: keep going over the points you've already covered and recap frequently so that everything branches off from one point.
  • Practice: make sure there's something for your pupils to do. The astronomy example is a good webpage, but if you're giving a presentation have multiple choices for people to show their hands at, or if it's with kids have them move about and vote with their feet or something.
  • Cheat: provide tricks and tips for how to remember things, anecdotes and jokes make for a more enjoyable lesson and that will trigger the memory. If you have to teach facts hunt for little mnemonics, I am truly awful at remembering formulae, after many many years studying physics pretty much the only formula I can remember is that for a pendulum - "The laws of nature quoth he, are truly a marvel to me, for each tick and tock, of the grandfather clock is 2 pi root l over g"