Attending the University of Hertfordshire Economics Society lecture today by the political economist Guy Standing, I found myself nodding almost on automatic at the key problems with capitalism and its impact on the workforce.
Standing started the talk with an anecdote of the day he recieved a call from Noam Chomsky (very famous thinker) asking if he could endorse Standing's book "The Precariat". Guy dismissed the call as a practical joke from one of his colleagues - it wasn't. Since them Standing has sold thousands of copies around the world, and today brought his key ideas to the UH Economics Society.
The Precariat, Standing posits, is a class in the making; a class of worker that has become habituated to accept unstable labour in the form of zero hours contracts, freelancing and piecemeal work. From the Barrista right up to highly paid management consultants we see this unstable labour market forming. Standing uses the word "cloud labour". Elsewhere this week heard it called "Labour Crowdsourcing".
We can now buy many forms of labour through portals. Just in the process of dealing with my late Mother's estate I used two new cloud services. Any Van provided a web portal for me to list my need to move goods around the country, and potential 'man with a van 'companies pitched for my business. The house sale itself was given to Purplebricks, the on-line estate agency. With very scaled down human interaction [read on]
Our Dharma is the work that we were put here to do, the work that when we do it gives us more life, as opposed to a job that sucks the life from us. It can be hard to identify, but once we 'get it' then it won't go away. When you look back you see that all the moments of your life led you to this place to this understanding. All the people and places, they all lead us back to where we are meant to be.
Knowing our Dharma is one thing, but getting up every single day and walking down the path is quite another. Last Sunday my friend Kate and I had the most beautiful walk at Hatfield House. There we were talking about our life purpose (her's is quite different to mine) and how we get so easily distracted from the path. It was quite ironic when we looked up for a second and saw that we were looking down the very view in this photograph. Kate turned and said to me, it's like the little trees on the sides of this parth are like the lovely little distractions. We go off and see one, then wonder over to another and it takes a long time to get to the point. Distractions could be watching the TV, eating poor food, or just plain procrastination. But then the bigger picture is right at the end of the path. It's a long way and requires conscious effort to get there without being distracted, but far quicker if we take a straight line. To fulfil our higher purpose we need to leave behind the distractions and head straight down t [read on]
I have always loved the idea of equanimity. This is the Buddhist belief that all things are equal, that there is no good or bad. The first time I heard “there is no right answer” was actually in a marketing class and I remember that phrase struck right into my heart. Always an outlier at school, I could never seem to do the right thing in my early educational years, so to have this feeling sanctioned was amazing.
Today though, I start to question what exactly does equanimity mean? The word in popular parlance means to be calm and composed. I’ve met people who are so spiritual that they are zoned out. Equanimity seems to them to be a loss of feeling altogether, a disconnection. And yet this doesn’t seem quite right. On the surface these gurus look peaceful, but I’m not so convinced.
Recently I gave up teaching yoga because I became simply too tired, too overwhelmed with it all. I said I needed to establish my own practice. Six months went by, and now here I am at last with a fledging practice of my own again and I cannot tell you how much it has helped. I love it so much that I find myself being late for work, hurrying to get to appointments, because the act of meditating and doing yoga is so compelling that 2 hours go by without an awareness of time.
Today, this act of kindness to myself brought to mind a deeper personal view on equanimit [read on]
“I believe that in vulnerability, we really find what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”
I've been thinking a lot lately about vulnerability. I remember once being told that excitement is 50% fear. Things are exciting because there is a chance that whatever sparks our fire may also burn us, and so our anticipation of what could be marvellous in our lives is shut out by the fear of what could go wrong.
Brene Brown is a vulnerability researcher. In her wonderful Ted Talk she says we are losing our tolerance for vulnerability, that “we sidestep getting excited about something because we are not sure it’s going to happen”. After many years of research she tells us that the reason for the intolerance for vulnerability is that “We live in a culture that tells us that there is never enough.... that we are not extraordinary enough.”
I get this. I’ve spent my life flitting from one experience to another, seeking to make my life extraordinary. For me to stick with something, to be stable in an ordinary life was not an option. It’s taken me this long to realise that perhaps it is a good thing to just enjoy the feeling that what I have is enough already. Sure there may be other wonderful things out there, and I have no doubt that I will experience them, but wouldn’t it be brilliant if, as Alan Cohen says, we have Enough Already, if [read on]
It was with great excitement that I set off to Sweets Way yesterday with photographer Nicky Kirby, but after hours of touring and talking I left with a sense of unease I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
There is without doubt a passion behind the intentions here, on the eve of the last planned eviction from Barnet’s ex-military houses. In this eerily ghost-town-like estate Liam and Anna, representing Sweets Way Resists welcome us with open arms. We are here to document their latest project. For £400 Anna, a previous resident, and her team of men have transformed a vandalised wreck of a house into a show home.
Four hundred is a significant number. Liam, a main organiser here, has calculated this is roughly the same sum of money that Annington Homes paid per house, to take over this estate from the Ministry of Defence. What was once a thriving community of family homes, Sweets Way is set to become yet another London luxury flat development.
It’s a large estate - much bigger than I had envisaged. There are wide expanses of grass and fully matured trees. if you shut your eyes hard enough, you can almost hear the squeals of children’s laughter, the ball games, and kids on their cycles. But today it is quiet, desolate, haunted.
Anna first shows us the devastation of a destroyed home. A move, demonstrated by these before and after bathroom images, that highlights just what a difference that £400, 5 days and a community spirit can [read on]
Let's face it, most all organisations start off small with the idea of one single entrepreneur. If you are a small organisation, or an individual, it's so easy to feel dwarfed by enormous, some might say successful, organisations out there. However, let's face it, most all organisations start off small with a single idea that one person feels passionate about. Fortune favours the bold. But on a more practical level what does makes small companies think they can do it? And should larger companies be scared?
“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
Exhibiting at a digital marketing conference recently with a client, one of the UK's top marketing gurus came to our stand and asked what made Commsbox choose to take on a giant in the industry, in a market that isn't even that developed yet.
It's a great question. The fact that this even seemed possible to an SME, marks them out as true entrepreneurs, characterised by their unbridled passion for what they do, and an almost childlike belief that they can succeed. Entrepreneurs ignore obstacles and get on with what they can do rather than worry about what they can't. Entrepreneurs do what they do and believe that the money will follow.
But it's still a great question. I asked Pete, founder of Commsbox. He said simply "Because we can".
So now t [read on]
A review of Russell Brand's "A Trew Work in Progress" At the National Theatre on Wednesday 29th July 2015.
I wake up this morning unable to shake this guy out of my head. It's exhausting watching Russell Brand as he opens his mouth and out pours an endless stream of consciousness. My dad used to say to my Mum, “Engage Brain before Opening Mouth”. He would have had the same paternal advice for Russell. It’s what gets the man in trouble. In fact the whole Revolution thing seems almost an accident, a response to Jeremy Paxman challenging Russell on what should be done about the state of the country. Out pops the word “Revolution” and off he launches onto a new mission.
The 3am thing, which seems to be a feature of my week, pops up again as Russell admonishes the audience that it’s OK for us, we get to go home at the end of the evening, but he has to live with his incessant ramblings and his endless thoughts. Easily envisaged is the portrait he paints of a girl he picks up at a nightclub and drops a glass on the floor. In that moment he doesn’t just want to clear up the mess but sees metaphors for the meaning of life. In his own stream of consciousness he wakes up – alone - at 3am.
The format of the show follows the age old Brand format – pick an event (usually from his own life story), show some video of the event, freeze frame the funny bits and then carrying out the minutiae of self-psychoanalysis. A mix [read on]
Today I met someone for the first time who had read my LinkedIn profile and so pretty much knew what my CV looked like. But then after ordering coffee he asked me what am I REALLY interested in, as if he could see past my CV full of all that digital marketing stuff. "What keeps you awake at night until 3am?" And in the answer to that question, I found that I could articulate for 2 hours the concepts that have been brewing in my head for the last 20 or more years.
I understand from friends that this is one of those questions that interviewers use because it brings out what's bubbling in your sub-concious. And sure enough out spills my inner-most thoughts to a person I've never met before. What keeps me awake at 3am? At first I start to describe my interest in alternative economic systems. This is dodgy ground for me, however, because I am certainly no economist. Recently I bought Thomas Picketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century. I had to admit defeat within a morning, but swear I will be back to this once I've managed some slightly lighter reading.
But underneath this academic interest is the more heartfelt notion that people should be more important than possessions, probably spurred on by my dear Mum who thought that possessions and a detached house where the post-depression pinnacle of success. Many times I have reached financial success only to dash it down because I wanted to experience something more raw, mo [read on]