Branding may have finally reached its Mannerist phase. Where the old-fashioned brand earnestly embraced a core message that verged on religious doctrine (Apple’s “Think Different,” Nike’s “Just Do It”), the new brand is aggressively self-aware, exaggerated and self-referential to the point of collapsing in on itself; rather than imbuing the product with magical qualities, it embraces and undercuts... those qualities in one swift gesture. The effect is to subvert consumer prejudices and preconceptions and make us forget that we’re caught in a commerce-focused undertow.
Jocelyn Ling j_ling
Connector, Investor and Strategist. http://www.jocelynling.com
a home is a home because it blurs the line between the self and the surroundings, and challenges the line we try to draw between who we are and where we are.
“I think back to the different phases of a project at IDEO—it’s not so different from life, really—I’m in the exploratory, divergent phase. The part where you brainstorm a lot and encourage wild ideas and defer judgement. I believe that the longer you can hang with that ambiguity or unknown, the greater the results will be at the end. This was true for IDEO projects, it was true for Mailbox, and now it is becoming true for my life.”
Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.
The only thing worse than assuming you could get the better of suffering, I began to think (though I’m no Buddhist), is imagining you could do nothing in its wake. And the tear I’d witnessed made me think that you could be strong enough to witness suffering, and yet human enough not to pretend to be master of it. Sometimes it’s those things we least understand that deserve our deepest trust. Isn’t that what love and wonder tell us, too?
To triumph in this market, I believe venture capitalists must do three things. First, they must create continuous information asymmetries. Second, they must convince entrepreneurs they are the right partner. Third, they must employ technologies to benefit their portfolio companies.
Creativity always comes as a surprise to us; therefore we can never count on it and we dare not believe in it until it has happened. In other words, we would not consciously engage upon tasks whose success clearly requires that creativity be forthcoming. Hence, the only way in which we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity than it will turn out to be.
Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now. There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf – seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically,... for the rest of your life. Do all the other things, the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.
As E.B. White memorably wrote, “Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.”
Oman straddles effortlessly between the modern and the ancient. I love the way that the developers have embraced Arabic sensibilities in building a modern nation: the super fast highways co-exist with the intricately worked wooden doors, atmospheric souks and ornate mihrabs of mosques.
Talking out of love versus the desire to be loved. This is a profoundly simple observation that’s also an incredibly precise filter for parsing the intention behind one’s writing, or one’s actions in general. The desired to be loved, I think, is a fundamental reason that when we first start out, we emulate our favorite writers, artists, heroes. Because we know the art they’ve created has received... love: we’ve seen others give that love, and we have given it ourselves. And because we have seen their art receive love, we think that if we can imitate the style or technique or cleverness of the art, then we too can garner the same kind of love. The desire to be loved is as valid a reason as any to start creating art, and it can be a powerful motivator, too. But it stifles the creation of good art. The desire to be loved is the baser of the two motivations. Talking out of the other—the part that can love—requires bravery. It requires making yourself vulnerable, stepping out into the unproven. Talking out of love means not expecting anything in return. Talking out of love is done with the understanding that merely talking out of love is enough. It’s the share button with a heart on it.
“We are taught to think about the world in three lenses as designers: desirability – what people want, feasibility – the capabilities of a firm, and viability – its financial health. We are taught that we should start from the perspective of people’s needs first: desirability. This way of thinking, however, is selfish. It focuses on the needs of humans, but in doing so, ignores the needs of the... rest of the 8.7M species that share planet Earth. What would be desirable, feasible, or viable if we took the perspective of planet Earth and ran it through the same venn diagram?” [...] “Although we don’t believe earth is the centre of the universe, we still behave as if humans are the most important species alive today.”
If success is a catalyst for failure because it leads to the "undisciplined pursuit of more," then one simple antidote is the disciplined pursuit of less. Not just haphazardly saying no, but purposefully, deliberately, and strategically eliminating the nonessentials. Not just once a year as part of a planning meeting, but constantly reducing, focusing and simplifying. Not just getting rid of the... obvious time wasters, but being willing to cut out really terrific opportunities as well. Few appear to have the courage to live this principle, which may be why it differentiates successful people and organizations from the very successful ones.
TECHNOLOGY does not inflate like a balloon, expanding human power over nature evenly in all directions and at all scales. It grows like a sea urchin: long spines of ability radiate out towards specific needs and desires. Some of those spines now reach dizzying distances, allowing what would once have been impossible tasks; coaxing kilowatt hours by the million from the inner workings of atoms, or... driving tiny oil pipes miles through the crust of the Earth. But the spines are brittle, and they stand alone. When one breaks—as happened on board the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico a year ago (see article), or at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan last month—there is no ameliorative technology on a par with that which has failed. Instead there is floundering; there is improvisation; and there is vast damage. What was a continuous, miraculous conduit from the depths of the Earth or the heart of the atom becomes a noxious, tangled and inaccessible mess about which, for months, nothing can be done.
The key is to capture as many hunches as possible, and to spend as little time as possible organizing or filtering or prioritizing them. (Keeping a single, chronological file is central to the process, because it forces you to scroll through the whole list each time you want to add something new.) Just get it all down as it comes to you, and make regular visits back to re-acquaint yourself with all your past explorations. You'll be shocked how many useful hunches you've forgotten.
We’re moving to a more competency-based world where there will be less interest in how you acquired the competency — in an online course, at a four-year-college or in a company-administered class — and more demand to prove that you mastered the competency.
Nairobi’s osmotic cosmopolitan ways stretch from bankers cloning western excess to poets throwing off their yokes. The city makes its way by taking on the habits of others, grasping towards growth and the material. Long channelled by colonial authorities to develop a consumer class keen to spend money on markers of success and stability, whether bicycles or gramophones, Nairobi is also a city of... class segmentation and aspiration: lunchtime Botox sessions, Imax cinemas and city spas contrast with streetsellers who hawk roast corn and sugar cane. The well-off live in isolated compounds – sometimes entire streets or suburbs gated with guards, dogs and plantations. The poor live in shacks they rent from the well-off.