Inventors are from Uranus. Investors are from Venus.

Sometimes you trip over a word and it takes on a shape.  It bugs you until you look at that shape and see something different.  Something unusual.

That happened to me this morning.  I received a note from a friend of mine who was talking about Elon Musk and his investor dilemma.  Whilst typing back a reply, I said: “it’s the difference between an inventor and an investor”.  And the shape of these two words hit me!  They were so similar – and yet poles apart.

So, as is my wont (an old English word meaning habit or custom that spellcheckers highlight as a mistake, but it isn’t), I set to with the idea that an inveNtor and an inveStor are two opposing forces under tension in any business.

And whilst deciding that this was, indeed, a good analogy, it struck me that so many letters are shared between these two words. In fact, seven out of eight letters are not just the same – BUT THEY ARE IN EXACTLY THE SAME POSITION IN THE WORD!  The only difference is the fifth letter – where one is an “N” and the other an “S”.  How can two such similar words have such contrasting shapes positions in business, yet share so much at the same time?

To use the old analogy “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”, it got me thinking about which planets would inveNtors and inveStors inhabit?  I looked up this idea on an astrology website and found that Venus is the bringer of love, beauty and money.  So that will do for the inveStor community (though I sometimes find it hard to see how those three words fit nicely into one sentence.

As for Mars – well that is a non-starter.  We needed another planet.  And so I typed-in “innovation” to find that Uranus represents technology, rebellion and innovation!  That will do nicely!

So, inveStors are from Venus and inveNtors are from Uranus.  There you go!

Yet that wasn’t enough.  I further studied the two words to find that the only difference were the two letters: N and S  – and suddenly it hit me!  They are also polar opposites on the dial of a compass!  I was so encouraged to find even more elegance down this particular rabbit-hole!

                                     North, South or somewhere in between?

 

Further to discovering this chance pairing, I thought again.  Whilst looking at the meanings behind the planets, I came across  Mercury, the Messenger God who is know for communication, day-to-day expression and  coordination.  A vital and often missing ingredient when inveNtors and inveStors cannot see each other’s point of view.  What other letter (in the same place as the N and S) could be a catalyst for change?  What could be the Mercury that goes between Venus and Uranus (though I know full-well that is impossible in our particular solar system – but work with me on this!)

And so I came across the letter “R”.  One of the few that makes sense and is a word.  An inveRtor.  It has a medical meaning, but I preferred the one used in electricity – which converts AC to DC current and back again.  An inveRtor is a converter of energy from invention to investment.  Perfect!

So, in summary, we need more inveRtors in business to go between the impossible stances that inveNtors and inveStors take when they stand-off in their own worlds of creativity and resolution.  A few more inveRtors that will be comfortable in the space between what is impossible and what is possible.  A few more inverRtors that will help  inveNtors like Elon Musk save the planet with his fantastic ideas to make the world’s transportation system run on electricity without making all the inveStors run a mile!

As it was such a great rabbit hole to go down (and it is Thursday and I have not written Thursday Thoughts for a while), I thought I would write-up the story.  More to follow soon!

Please do leave a comment below if you see any other strange or fantastic happenings on the road from invention to investment.

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Into the Vortex

After the feeling of being stuck. Of being bogged-down. Of going round and round in circles, the thought changes.  What if round-and-round gets you somewhere?

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Life flows. Events line up. Coincidences happen without any effort. Dreams start to crystalise in elegant ways that you had not expected.  You deepen your ideas on where you are.  Present.  Alert.  Observant.

Life speeds up. The pace of change shifts from first gear to fourth – apparently without going second or third. Patterns emerge that you have been working on for months – or even years.  Life becomes effortless.

Tempest in a teapot.

You give up control, because otherwise those tiny rituals that were once so important will stop you from riding the wave.  You surrender to the Universal stream of Life.

Then things go quiet.  The entry into the centre of the vortex creates an intense sense of peace. You are in the eye in the storm.

blue energy tornado

All is clear. All is aligned. You can make choices that you’ve never seen before.

Play with the energy.  Feel the power and use it for the good of yourself and your community.  Point the axis to where you want to go.  New openings will appear.  New guides will arrive to help you on your new path.

You are not just in the vortex.  You are the vortex!

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 All images from Crestock.

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The Heart’s Intuitive Intelligence

Last Thursday, I had a meeting with a business colleague.  We had only met once before – but somehow the energy felt really good between us.  Conversation flowed.  Ideas bubbled to the surface.  Creative spirit abounded.

During the conversation, it became apparent that I had talked in our previous meeting about intuition.  I had forgotten this – but it  is something I have recently become very interested in.  In summary, it’s the idea that the world is far too “mental” and that many have lost touch with their intuitive guidance system – based around the heart.  I’m also a strong believer in the idea that everything is connected.

And so it was, just by chance (as happens when browsing the internet) I came across this video below:

I don’t know too much about the organisation behind the video – but just love the overall theme, messages and visuals.  It somehow helps us to remember things we have forgotten or lost – so we can get back into the life-force and remember who we are.

Sit back and enjoy!

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How to Thrive in All Times

As we hear the conflicting messages of the US and UK stock market reaching all-time highs, but the British Pound losing its creditworthiness and predictions of the currency on a long-term slide into goodness knows where, the uncertainties about the world trigger a search for a model that can understand what is going on – and what one should do about  it.  More importantly, it makes us think more about what is important in life  so we can make the hard choices to navigate a fruitful future for ourselves and those who are important to us.

It was therefore a coincidence that yesterday, I turned to a set of cards of wise sayings that I was given a few years ago,  The cards summarise the ideas of Abraham-Hicks (more details at the bottom of this post).

March 6th

The text says:

Those who are

mostly observers thrive

in good times but suffer in bad

times because what they are observing

is already vibrating, and as they observe it,

they include it in their vibrational countenance;

and as they include it, the Universe accepts that as

their point of attraction – and gives them more 

of the essence of it.  So for an observer

the better it gets, the better it gets;

 or the worse it gets, the worse

it gets. However, one who 

is a visionary thrives

in all times.

For those new to Abraham-Hicks, words like “vibrational countenance” and “point of attraction” might seem a bit strange.  But for me, having read deeper into their work for a few years, I have found the Abraham-Hicks way of looking at the world to be extraordinarily powerful, interesting and helpful.

A simple message, shines through the more esoteric phrases: have a vision and hold it through good times and bad and you will find it is easier to take the ups and downs in life than if you just sit back as an observer and let life happen around you.

Food for thought.  I would love to hear from any readers who have thoughts on these ideas.  Please post them below!

More information on the Abraham-Hicks publications at:

http://www.abraham-hicks.com/lawofattractionsource/index.php

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The Story of the Broken Pot (of Honey)

The older I get, the more I believe in coincidences.  And one of the strange coincidences that I have recently discovered is that there are a set of stories that are told in slightly different forms all around the world – as if they all had their roots in one story told many thousands of years ago.  A fine example is the Story of the Broken Pot:

Once upon a time there lived a woman called Truhana.  Not being very rich, she had to go yearly to the market to sell honey, the precious product of her hive.

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Along the road she went, carrying the jar of honey upon her head, calculating as she walked the money she would get for the honey.  “First”, she thought, “I will sell it, and buy eggs.  The eggs I shall set under my fat brown hens, and in time there will be plenty of little chicks.  These, in turn, will become chickens, and from the sale of these, lambs could be bought.”

Truhana then began to imagine how she could become richer than her neighbors, and look forward to marrying well her sons and daughters.

Trudging along, in the hot sun, she could see her fine sons and daughters-in-law, and how the people would say that it was remarkable how rich she had become, who was once so poverty-stricken.

Under the influence of these pleasurable thoughts, she began to laugh heartily, and preen herself, when, suddenly, striking the jar with her hand, it fell from her head, and smashed on the ground.  The honey became a sticky mess upon the ground.

Seeing this, she was cast down as she had been excited, on seeing all her dreams lost for illusion.

Idres Shah in his book “World Tales” (which is where this story came from) notes:

“The tale is called a number of things like – “The Girl and the Pitcher of Milk”.  Professor Max muller remarks how the tale has survived the rise and fall of empires and the change of languages, and the perishing of works of art.  He stresses the attraction whereby “this simple children’s tale should have lived on and maintained its place of honor and its undisputed sway in every schoolroom of the East and every nursery of the West.”

“In the Eastern versions, it is always a man who is the fantasist and whose hopes come to grief: in the West it is almost always a woman.  The man generally imagines that he will marry and have a son, while the woman tends to think of riches and marriage.”

A collection of stories similar to this one was compiled as a set off folktales by Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 1430 entitled “Air Castles” – about daydreams of wealth and fame.  The theme is so strong and spans all cultures and societies.  Just one of the many coincidental stories that have been recognised across space and time.

And so it was, last week, I was visiting Telefonica’s incubator (which they call an Academy) in London.  There are 19 startups (or eggs) being hatched – each into what will hopefully be new chickens.  However, given the statistic that over 65% of companies fail in their first two years, I could not but think the question as to which ones might be successful, and which ones not.  Which ones would hatch and which ones would be eaten before hatching?  Talking to the head guy there, he said that it was surprising that some of the start-ups that showed no hope four months ago are now doing really well – and others that showed great potential have somehow stumbled.  Each of the eggs will be moved out from the Academy at the end of March – and I wish them all the best of luck in moving from the egg stage to the chicken stage!

Oh, and just to round off this Thursday Thought, I visited my own beehives on Monday to give them some sugar cake food.  All was well – each of the six hives had bees!  I just hope they will all survive through February and March.  No honey in the pot yet, but I still dream that their stories will make me rich and famous one day!

I am going to be exploring the power coincidence in a lot more detail in the coming months.  If you are on Twitter you can read the regular tweets and observations on coincidence and business by following my new Tweet stream  @coinmark.

—–

Story from: “World Tales” collected by Idries Shah published by the Octagon Press 1991 – page 27

Picture – Copyright iStockPhoto – I bought it and if you want to use it you should buy it too!

More bee stories at my other blog: www.beelore.com

 

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Powerful Forces Are At Work!

My father used to have a phrase that he used from time to time when something inexplicable happened.  “Powerful Forces are at Work” he would say.  In the past week or so, I have had a very strong feeling that somehow the universe is reconfiguring itself and that powerful forces truly are at work.  This is a difficult feeling to articulate – but the it got me thinking about our personal turning-points, crossroads and moments of truth that make us change and grow as we go through lief .  Naturally, we can all share in global turning points like the economic crisis.  But the ones that are closer to home, the ones that are personal and sometimes painful; the ones that are more subjective .  These are a lot more powerful change agents than the blah-blah we get from the constant barrage from the media, news and modern-day consumerist group-think.  Indeed, the Transition Movement is a collection of such ideas – interestingly portrayed in the Wordle below:

transitions-wordle

 And so it was that we passed 12:12 on 12/12/12 today.  It marked another milestone for Susie and me – because we got engaged at 7:07 on 7/7/07 and our subsequent wedding was on 8/8/08.  Apparently there were more people married on 12/12/12 than at any other time in history!  These dates seem to hold a romantic charm.   We won’t have any more quite like that unless you plan to live until 01/01/2101.  Most of us will be long gone by then!

Transitions in time are made more meaningful when there are coincidences – in this case with a string of numbers lining-up.  We still have one more this month on 21/12/12 – which is, apparently, the end of a cycle in the Mayan long-count calendar.  Some predict disasters, others a transition of the human race to a new level of consciousness.  Yet others think it will pass without incident.

But what if this month truly was a major transition and a marked positive shift in human consciousness?  What would that shift feel like?  What would each of us be doing differently as a result of it?  How would our behaviours change towards our selves, each other and towards the environment?  What small changes could we individually make that would create a big difference in 2013?

In the run-up to New Year’s Resolution time, it is something to think about, anyway!  I would love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

Oh, and here is a Wordle of this article:

Wordle of Article

Make your own Wordle at: http://www.wordle.net

 

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Lagom är bäst

I am always intrigued when I find a word in a foreign language that has no direct equivalent in the English language.  When I come across one, I feel that I have somehow found a new way of looking at the world that most people who just speak English cannot see.

And so it was, in doing some research for a client earlier this week, I had a single idea – and I was looking for a word or a phrase in the English language to describe it.  The phrase might describe the sort of contentment that a Zen Bhuddist Priest might have about life – all the time.  Not seeking or being exploited.  Just absorbing and giving back to the world sufficient energy, food, water, conversation that is appropriate in the moment.

On delving into Wikipedia the best phrase I could find was one from Swedish: “Lagom”.  Roughly translated, it means “just the right amount”.  No more.  No less.  There is a Swedish proverb: “Lagom är bäst” which translates as “the right amount is best”.  AhHa!  I thought.  This is it!  This is the word I have been looking for.

The word “lagom” (also spelled “lugum” or “lugom”) also exists in Norwegian. The connotations in Norwegian, however, are somewhat different from Swedish.  In Norwegian the word has synonyms as “fitting, suitable, comfortable, nice, decent, well built/proportioned”.  While some synonyms are somewhat similar in meaning (e.g. “suitable” and “reasonable”, “fitting” and “in balance”), many present in Swedish don’t exist in Norwegian and vice versa. The Norwegian words “passelig” and the more common “passe” are very similar, translating roughly as “fitting, adequate, suitable” in English. “Passe” can be used in every context where the Swedish “lagom” is used, e.g. “passe varm” (right temperature/adequately warm), “passe stor” (right size), etc.

The concept of ‘lagom’ is similar to Russian expression ‘normal’no’ (нормально, literally normally), which indicates a sufficient and sustainable state, for example of one’s livelihood. In Russian, the word is often used as answer to the question “how are you”. Comparable terms are found in some south Slavic languages, for example Serbian and Croatian umereno or umjereno.

Ιn ancient Greek, there was the infamous phrase of Cleobulus, ‘Métron áriston’ (μέτρον ἄριστον) i.e.: “Moderation is best”

Wikipedia further cites the origin of the term “Lagom” as “an archaic dative plural form of lag (“law”), in this case referring not necessarily to judicial law but common sense law. A translation of this could be “according to common sense”. A popular folk etymology claims that it is a contraction of “laget om” (“around the team”), a phrase used in Viking times to specify how much mead one should drink from the horn as it was passed around in order for everyone to receive a fair share.” 

What a rich idea!  What a joyous thought!  Passing mead around the team to ensure everyone gets their fair share.  It does not surprise me that the Scandanavian countries have enriched their language with this single word – when the rest of the English speaking world has no such idea in common parlance.  It somehow goes with their culture.

Furthermore, as the English language has been manipulated by marketeers and journalists into visions and scripts designed to stimulate through  sensational exaggerations, the idea of having just the right amount is no longer tolerated.  Even the world “sustainable” now comes loaded with connotations and political nuance.  The idea of having just the right amount is counter to the way the current consumerist (Western) economy works.  If people stopped consuming, then the economy would come to a halt, surely?

So the tensions in the current world continue to need one thing and promote another.  We have those who need to manipulate the public into buying more; into consuming more; into projecting a sense of needing and wanting more; grabbing attention in a world that is producing an ever-increasing amount of information.  IBM recently published an astonishing piece of data: that “90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone”.

And yet we know the world needs something else.  The thought that whatever you have is somehow just right requires a new way of thinking – perhaps triggered by a new word in the English Language.  Perhaps Lagom is just the right word for what we need!

Not “sustainable” – just Lagom.

Sources:

Wikpedia entry on Lagom: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagom

Picture: Viking Royal Meadhorn Design from Beowulf Blog: http://www.joshviers4.blogspot.co.uk

IBM Quote: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/data/bigdata/

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Two-Speed Engines and Wonky Gearboxes

I was with a client yesterday and drew attention to a recent article Two-Speed IT: A Linchpin for Success in a Digitized World from BCG Perspectives on how some organisations are being forced split in two with the pressure of the internet.  The BCG paper describes a “two-speed IT” – but in many ways, the IT is only part of it – and BCG have taken the two-speed analogy far further with other thoughts on organisations, economies and governments.

It would appear that, in order to survive, successful organisations now need to have (at least) two speeds or engines  within in them.  One is there to cope with traditional “industrial speed” business and the other need to cope with innovation and customer interactions at “digital speed”.

There is no finer example than Telefonica-O2 – which has recently split itself in to two companies.  One which manages the more traditional “industrial” network and handset business.  The second (called Telefonica Digital) was set up to manage innovation and all the different aspects of interconnecting the network business to new technologies and services.

I’m with O2 – and it was disappointing that even after splitting itself in two, the industrial part of the business, they still managed to knock-out my service for 24 hours in the early summer.  Even more reason to believe in the importance of  creating and adapting organisations so that they can take both the expected and unexpected demands placed upon them.

A better example of success is probably BT’s execution of the Olympic Games.  I am sure the stories will start to come out in the next few months, but I heard at a conference recently that there were over 50 severe attacks on the Olympic Network that could have brought it down – had BT not had the right protection in place.  In the industrial network game, true success normally means not failing!

As many of you know, I like to draw analogies, and I thought that this client that I was working with had a problem of shifting from first gear to second gear.  Somehow, they had all the parts to make very solid machines for the industrial age, but they were not thinking of designing and creating smaller, lighter, more nimble components to put in the small engines of the digital age (for new organisations such as Telefonica Digital).  To use a truck-car analogy, they were still assembling large-scale gearboxes for big trucks – (where each component takes days and weeks to manufacture and assemble) – whilst missing the market opportunity to provide new, smaller gearboxes (or even components) that will allow emerging digital organisations to engage with the bigger industrial engines of the past.

 

 These new gear boxes are going to be smaller, cheaper and faster to assemble.  It might even require a new, separate  organisation to design, market and support them.   The possibilities were very interesting.

So I was charmed by the Queen of Coincidence, when, whilst I was preparing for the client presentation, a good friend, Jo, sent me this brilliant recording of a telephone conversation between a guy who has just bought a BMW with a “wonky gearbox” – Listen and enjoy!

Please click here to listen to the WONKY GEARBOX STORY

Sometimes we simply get this whole technology thing completely wrong by not reading the instruction manual!

 

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Everything will be All Right in the End…..

Susie, my wife, booked us to go and see a film on Sunday evening – “The best exotic Marigold Hotel”.   A very funny film and well worth watching!  You can’t leave the film and not remember the line that one of the leading characters, Sonny, keeps saying throughout the film:

“Everything will be all right in the end; if it’s not alright then it’s not the end.”

Apparently this is a quote of the Brazilian writer Fernando Sabino: “No fim tudo dá certo, e se não deu certo é porque ainda não chegou ao fim” – but I am not sure if he really was the originator or not.  Doesn’t matter.  It is a great quote.  Actually, Susie has often quoted the first bit at me and it is strange, but somehow, everything always does work out in the end….

Anyway, it got me thinking back to the Thursday Thoughts theme two weeks ago about optimism – and the Optimist’s Creed.

And so it was that last night I got to Chapter 24 in Daniel Kahneman’s Book “Thinking, fast and slow” (which I started to review last week) only to find that  this chapter – entitled “The Engine of Capitalism” is all about optimism too!  Or perhaps, more accurately, over-optimism.  Coincidence or what?

Kahneman summarises in a section entitled COMPETITION NEGLECT:

“It is tempting to explain entrepreneurial optimism by wishful thinking, but emotion is only part of the story.  Cognitive biases play an important role, notably the System 1 WYSIATI (What you see is all there is):

  • We focus on our goal, anchor on our plan, and neglect relevant base rates, exposing ourselves to the planning fallacy.
  • We focus on what we want to do and can do, neglecting the plans and skills of others
  • Both in explaining the past and in predicting the future, we focus on the causal role of skill and neglect the role of luck.  we are therefore prone to an illusion of control.
  • We focus on what we know and neglect what we do not know, which makes us overly confident in our beliefs.

What was more extraordinary is that as I was reading this, a good friend and follower of this stream, David Brunnen wrote to me and  sent me this link: http://www.innovationpolicy.org/my-new-book-title-eh-the-future-will-be-okay   with the  comment: “Worth a read I think – partly because of his realistic assessment of US R&D funding and partly because Rob gets close to the tendency that has long-plagued the ICT world – eternal optimism and hype.” 

Even more coincidence.  Anyone else thinking about optimism, over-optimism and the way we think about the future?  Please join in the flow by commenting below!

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Opting In To Civilised Money

A couple of weeks ago, I took one of my sons to London. He wanted to go and see the Occupy London site near St Paul’s – during time that the Church of England were digging deep into their consciences to work out how they should react. A few days later, I was in Edinburgh with my daughter and went to the equivalent tented camp. In both cases, I took the time to try to understand what was in the minds of those protesting. There was a peaceful atmosphere in both camps – but a surprising lack of practical things for people like me to do. However, the two experiences got me convinced that the system is broken and that things need to change.
A chance Tweet on Twitter this morning gave me the opportunity to explore the issues further. The Tweet alerted me to a new sort of Peer2Peer investment site called CrowdCube and a new sort of bank – called Civilised Money – who were looking for investors.  The idea took my interest and I read to find out more.

I was particularly struck by the coincidence that the project is the brainchild of Neil Crofts.  I have been a keen reader of Neil Croft’s weekly blog – and applaud his ideas on Authentic Leadership.  On reading more about the Civilised Money idea, is struck me that this kind of Peer2Peer banking is just like Skype was in 2002 – only transposed onto the banking system.  It made a heck of a lot of sense, so I took the plunge and invested!

By the way, I am definitely NOT an investment advisor.  I am not even sure that by the time you read this, the investment opportunity will still be open.  But I am so encouraged that there are those protesting (making the issues clear) as well as those who are trying to find new ways to design banks.

I hope it makes you think a bit more about what you opt in to – and out of.

 

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