Determination and Perseverance: Keys to fulfilment

Determination and perseverance were a way of life for me growing up, some of you may of read my first book, ‘Freedom after the Sharks’. Each of us is, to some extent or other, a reflection of the experiences of our lives. However, whether and how we succeed is determined at least in part by how we cope with those experiences and what we learn from them.

Everyone has a story, despite difficulties in family life and professional setbacks, the journey to success is the learnings we all have, we all possess the determination, drive and skills to create a successful and happy life, the bigger question is if we choose to use these skills…..for the great of good.

Change has a funny habit of teaching you much about yourself; it goes to the core of your own weaknesses, strengths and eccentricities. Leadership forces you to stay true to yourself and recognize times when you are at your best and worst; the key is to stay focused and to make decisions that will look at continuous improvement. Even though this may be small, incremental change, it is positive change you can build upon even though you may be in quicksand.

Business has taught me much about life, learning and sharing knowledge and life stories with my employees and associates. My hopes, fears, beliefs, values and dreams were tested to the limit. I learned that only the difficult things in life truly bring satisfaction, and that achievement is proportional to the struggle needed to get there.

There is a great quote by Lao Tzu: “A tree beyond your embrace grows from one tiny seed. A tower nine-story high begins with a lump of earth. A journey of thousand miles starts with a single step.”

Taking the first step or leap of faith is hard. It involves risks, learning of new things and getting to know new people. Making sure the direction is right can also be trying. But when there is no step, your vision or dream will not come true.

Once you have made up your mind, take the first step, however small the first step is.

Each of us thrives on being successful and in doing so we often forget the difficulties lying in the path to success. We set targets and want to achieve them right away, but we are humans and may fall short on those goals.

Failure at the start can lead to frustration, and it shatters the self-confidence you had at the beginning. You might consider giving up on your dreams because you don’t feel like you can ever succeed in life.

Most of us are ambitious. We have hopes and dreams. We have big goals and fantasies of success. But there are not just big ideas and empty words. We work towards these dreams on a daily basis.

We fight, we struggle, and we make progress day-by-day. It’s not easy, but there’s value in what we are trying to achieve.

The problem is, we tend to lose steam as time passes. We start to falter in our devotion to a project and we arrive at a cross-roads where we consider giving up. This happens for a few reasons.
Success, despite the popular belief, is not a one-way path or a straight line.

It is a muddled road with various ups and downs, and you should navigate it with popular care. You might fall or get lost in your way. However, if you keep going, you will eventually reach your destination.

Have you ever wondered how some prominent personalities achieved great heights of success? What did those individuals do that set them apart from the rest of us? How did they stay positive, when faced with failure?

Determination and perseverance can be summed up to mean you are committed to your goal. Additionally, it enhances the goal’s value for you and intensifies your motivation level. It leads you to wonderful findings and broadens your knowledge about yourself and your goals.

It is a well-established fact that success is not achieved overnight. There is no such thing as getting rich fast successes in the world. The road to success is a slow and quite precarious journey at times. It takes hard work and time to build up and makes you solely responsible for your progress.

Determination and perseverance is a trait to the key to a successful life. If you keep determined long enough, you will achieve your true potential. Just remember, you can do anything you set your mind to, but it takes action, determination, persistence, and the courage to face your fears.

There are no guarantees in life and certainly not in success. The number of factors at play when determining success cannot be controlled. Things like luck, timing, people, and so on, are often out of our hands and that’s OK. Success shouldn’t be measured by the external value we gain from our endeavors, but instead on the internal benefit we receive from actually delivering on what we set out to do.

A quote from Theodore Roosevelt comes to mind when I think about the individuals who struggle for what they believe in:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

For any endeavor that you may start, always remember why you started, and use that to fuel your determination and perseverance to finish it. Whether it ends in victory or defeat, the simple act of trying, of not giving up, is what makes our work worthwhile.

I had the very fortune of learning more about myself by being put into adverse circumstances than I could ever have learned about myself from a psychometric test or a new Oxford business book; it was reserves of inner self and energy that made the journey possible.

The question is always: “How much do you truly want your dream and do you have the courage to pursue it?”

New book: ‘Purposeful Discussions’

Purposeful Discussions cover

‘Purposeful Discussions’ has been written as a natural next step to ‘Meaningful Conversations’, across four of the most passionately debated subjects in business and life today: Communications, Strategy, Business Development and Life Growth.

In February 2014, I set out as an author with my first book, ‘Freedom after the Sharks’, to write a weekly blog across a variety of subjects and foremost about people in business, opinions, research and tips, advise on some revelations, past and present.

‘Purposeful Discussions’ is now my fifth book in a series of books that provide purpose-driven outcomes in support of some of the most talked-about subjects in life today.

This book demonstrates the relationship between communications (human 2 human), strategy and business development and life growth. It is important to understand that a number of the ideas, developments and techniques employed at the beginning as well as the top of business can be successfully made flexible to apply.

It provides a holistic overview of the essential leading methods in these areas and can be viewed as a hands-on guide or as one person described in an Amazon review from my last publication ‘Meaningful Conversations’: ‘What makes a book remarkable, useful and meaningful for professionals? Well, read (not only once) Geoff’s masterpiece and you will understand. This book is my “win book” from so many aspects ‘.

Each person, no matter their age, occupation or place in the world has a tremendous story to share. A vast tapestry of experiences, truths & pearls of wisdom lies in the vault of the mind, waiting to be unlocked.

It takes the slightest intuitive spark to get us talking about our inner lives, the details and dynamics of being human. We are all aware of how important technology is in our lives and keeping our individual worlds connected. we need to explore new and creative ways of listening, engaging, working together, learning, building community and being in conversation with the other.

We are more connected than ever through technology and at the same time the disconnect with ourselves, others and our environment is growing. We need Purposeful Discussions to help us reconnect, going beyond our egos and our fears to build strong relationships, communities, networks and organisations, so that through collaboration we can begin to co-create a more sustainable future.

Paperback-cover (click to enlarge)

Continuing, 21st-century technology is making a huge impact on how the world does business and how we behave as humans, while it affords limitless opportunities, it’s also easier than ever before to lose track, fall into traps and stray off course through lack of control.

I’ve identified communications, strategy, business development and life growth as four factors that are vitally important and interlink seamlessly, and are essential for success and profitability in the business process.

This book provides a holistic overview of the essential leading methods of techniques. It will provide you with a hands-on guide for business professionals and those in higher education.

Readers will gain insights into topical subjects, components of Communications, Strategy and Business Development and Life Growth, including a wide range of tips, models and techniques that will help to build strong and effective solutions in today’s business world.

The terms ‘Communications’, Strategy’ ‘Business Development and Life Growth’ have become overused during the last decade and have become devalued as a result. In this book, I aim to simplify these terms and to re-value management and leadership by addressing topics and subjects in each distinctive chapter.

As Richard Cohn once said:

‘Our lives are measured in choices we have made along the path we call living, each compass point, a possibility, each step, an opportunity, seemingly random, each decision moves us inexorably in a direction both unknown and yet somehow familiar for upon reflection, the strength we find in choosing, or the surrender of letting all unfold leads us to the place we started from when we made that first choice to be here again.’

The book, therefore, covers all the essential components of Communications, Strategy and Business Development and Life Growth, but ensures that they are described in an engaging, enjoyable way with clarity.

Synopsis

The book is divided into three key areas: the first ‘The Importance of Communication’, the second ‘The Role of Strategy’, the third ‘Company Growth and Planning’, to make it easy to find the topics and material you need.

Each component is easy to locate by the titles of the short story at the top of the pages. Each chapter within the three components relates strongly to each other but is also interrelated to all the other chapters.

Those with interest in certain topics may wish to start at their area of interest first, while those who prefer to read the book from the first page to the end will proceed as they started, there really is a topic for everyone in the book.

History has proven that some of the most passionate, successful people are those who have sacrificed many of their needs to push toward one all-encompassing goal.

We all have different advantages, some based on good fortune and some based on choices we have previously made. We can only ever start from where we are. If we have the strength to play our hands, instead of questioning why we don’t hold different cards, then we can decide at any time to work toward doing what we love.

The important thing is to remember that so much is still possible. We all deserve to enjoy the way we spend our days. If we’re willing to dream, work hard, learn, and navigate uncertainty, we all have the potential to do it.

Hardback-cover: (click to enlarge)

Business professionals and individuals in the great challenges of today’s business world have renewed responsibility for what business does best; innovate, invest and grow.

Many people wait until circumstances force change and transformation, that can be radical and painful, this book will arm you with the tips, advise and techniques to provide fresh thinking to your everyday environment and to innovate your circumstances for a better environment, we are all extraordinary people and have the ability to share and provide wealth creation and richness to our surroundings, the question is how much do we want to be extraordinary?

This book has been written not just for people in a company or organisation, it is about helping and supporting understanding across a wide variety of subjects to anyone in life; students, budding entrepreneurs, business people and aspiring individuals.

I do hope my book will provide you with a better lens to understand the opportunities and challenges ahead, that you have a better understanding to chart your course for change and fulfillment of your dreams, desires and aspirations.

For more information on the release of this book, do visit www.purposefuldiscussionsbook.com

Emotional Intelligence and Your Survival through the 4th Industrial Revolution!

Many experts now believe that a person’s emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) may be more important than their IQ and is certainly a better predictor of success, quality of relationships, Meaningful Conversations and overall happiness.

I have written many blogs on the subject, some of my readers may even recall the balance of IQ vs EQ is it really necessary?

Emotion has long been something of a taboo subject in the workplace. It’s widely seen as inherently negative – it clouds decision-making; allegedly it’s a source of weakness; it should be left somewhere but certainly not at the office. But recent changes in business and the wider world have caused a seismic shift in how people view emotion and appreciate its power when used intelligently.

One of the root causes is that the composition of the workforce has changed vastly over a relatively short period. It has become far more diverse in terms of ethnicity, culture, religion, gender and sexuality. And a gap has opened up, especially between members of the older generations who run most organisations and the millennials and gen Z-ers who work for them when it comes to personal values and expectations of employment.

The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019 has found that millennials (defined by the researchers as those born between January 1983 and December 1994) and gen Z-ers (born January 1995 to December 1999) are mistrustful of businesses that prioritise their own agendas over their impact on society.

Many respondents to the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey said they would cut immediate ties with any company that didn’t share their values.
With the active rise of EQ, The World Economic Forum now considers EQ a crucial skill for the fourth industrial revolution, while research has always shown that EQ improves decision-making and morale in organisations.


The Fourth Industrial Revolution introduces integrated adjustments to the way we interact with the world around us, including new advancements like the Internet of Things, the Internet of Systems, artificial intelligence, and more. We’re looking at not just technological assistance, but a flourishing form of technological assimilation

Move over, IQ; it’s not just about increased academia anymore. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will change how we interact with one another in conjunction with our technology, and it requires that we reconnect with our EQ (emotional quotient). As AI begins to make its way into the decision-making processes of modern business, emotional and social intelligence become two capabilities that can’t be automated yet – so more Meaningful and Purposeful Discussions…….?

In fewer than five years, more than a third (35%) of skills considered important today will have changed, according to this REPORT by The World Economic Forum. Amongst cognitive abilities such as complex problem solving and critical thinking, emotional intelligence – often referred to as ‘street smarts’ – has been identified as a crucial social skill that will be needed by all.

The report, based on the opinions of chief HR and strategy officers from leading global organisations, suggests that seismic advances in technology including artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and machine learning will revolutionise the way we live and work. As a result, organisations and employees will be under growing pressure to upgrade and fine-tune their skillsets to thrive, or even survive, in what is being termed The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

It’s one thing to have complex thinkers with lightning-fast computational skills and incomparable technical abilities, but it’s quite another to have an intercommunicating workforce that’s situationally aware and adaptive.

Consider the example of FedEx, which took EQ to heart when designing its leadership program. By focusing on building emotional intelligence into its management team, the company has yielded an 8-11 percent increase in core leadership competencies. Employees also made vast improvements in their decision-making and influencing abilities and experienced a marked improvement in their quality of life.

According to The World Economic report, by 2020 there will be a greater bidding war for employees with social abilities including persuasion and emotional intelligence compared to more limited technical skills like programming or equipment operation and control. Furthermore, professions previously seen as purely technical will see new demand for interpersonal skills, such as being able to communicate data effectively. Emotional intelligence is likely to be a major deciding factor in who will be able to adapt and flourish in these new roles.

In his books, ‘Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ and Working With Emotional Intelligence’, Daniel Goleman presents five categories of emotional intelligence. To hire candidates who will thrive in your workplace, look for those who have a handle on these five pillars:

1. Self-awareness: If a person has a healthy sense of self-awareness, he understands his own strengths and weaknesses, as well as how his actions affect others. A person who is self-aware is usually better able to handle and learn from constructive criticism than one who is not.

2. Self-regulation: A person with a high EQ can maturely reveal her emotions and exercise restraint when needed. Instead of squelching her feelings, she expresses them with restraint and control.

3. Motivation: Emotionally intelligent people are self-motivated. They’re not motivated simply by money or a title. They are usually resilient and optimistic when they encounter disappointment and driven by an inner ambition.

4. Empathy: A person who has empathy has compassion and an understanding of human nature that allows him to connect with other people on an emotional level. The ability to empathize allows a person to provide great service and respond genuinely to others’ concerns.

5. People skills: People who are emotionally intelligent are able to build rapport and trust quickly with others on their teams. They avoid power struggles and backstabbing. They usually enjoy other people and have the respect of others around them.

Daniel Goleman on the importance of emotional intelligence

Effective leadership requires mastering and blending both left- and right-brain thinking.

Accenture recently conducted a research study across 200 C-suite executives from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States which indicated that pushing the C-suite to find new ways to lead, grow and sustain their organisations, demands a new type of leader to engage passion, principles and capabilities. Their expectation? Leaders who have a strong balance across analytics-led and human-centred skills.

This approach blends what’s traditionally been considered “left-brain” (scientific) skills that draw on data analysis and critical reasoning with “right-brain” (creative) skills that draw on areas like intuition and empathy. Bringing the two together intentionally to drive deeper levels of problem-solving and value creation is critical.

But the majority (89%) of today’s C-suite leaders hold business school, science, or technology degrees and have honed “left brain” skills—like critical reasoning, decision-making and results-orientation. Numbers. Data. Stats. The science of management, rooted in reasoning and proof points. This has served them well, and these capabilities will always be vital. But they are no longer sufficient.

Final thought. As the pace of change continues to accelerate and we head towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution, being able to identify and anticipate future skills requirements will be crucial. Those organisations and employees who embrace and prepare for the changes will be the biggest winners.

Look around you: Tech is being transfused into the veins of every industry. You need to make an educated guess as to how — and which — new technologies could impact your business and then act.

Rapid disruptive change is inevitable, and the assimilation of technology into every aspect of modern business is unavoidable.

The question is whether today’s business leaders can remain competitive in a technological world that’s rapidly and exponentially evolving. The tide is rising on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Guest-blog: Patrick Bailey – Diversification vs. focus-driven

Patrick Bailey

Adversity of any magnitude should make us stronger and fill us with life’s wisdom, however, strength in any form is born from adversity – I wrote ‘Freedom after the Sharks’ from adversity and set up a business in the double-dip of 2008 and 2009, many people have done the same and it is almost a universal theme in the lives of many of the world’s most eminent minds.

As Michelle Obama once said:
‘You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.’

Determination, resilience, and persistence are the enabler for people to push past their adversities and prevail.
Overcoming adversity is one of our main challenges in life.
When we resolve to confront and overcome it, we become expert at dealing with it and consequently triumph over our day-to-day struggles.

Have you ever felt that your world is starting to fall apart because of how life tends to bombard you with seemingly impossible challenges?
Have you ever felt helpless and would rather spend your days feeling like a solitary zombie while the rest of the world doesn’t even care that you’re this close to almost losing your sanity?
Well, you’re not alone and the good news is, there are ways to properly deal with and overcome these obstacles.

Reality has a way of reminding us that no matter how hard you try and how good you treat people, you will always have those days, those times when you think the world is against you. During these moments, you often have the urge to either shut down or finally give up and think of the most foolish remedies available to you – both can have long-term damaging effects on you, emotionally and physically.

Today I have the pleasure of introducing another Guest Blogger, Patrick Bailey, who is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery.

He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoys writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. His website is: www.patrickbaileys.com

Patrick is going to discuss with us today “Diversification vs. Focus-Driven”

When the Tough gets going, remember this motto: ‘Hibernation is not Survival’

There’s a prevailing rule in a bear market, and that is to play dead when the stock prices are plunging.

After all, the market almost always corrects itself. Stocks operate on a cycle — sometimes up, sometimes down — except, of course, in cases when the economy is undergoing a recession.

Hibernation is different from inactivity, however. You just park your money in treasury bills or certificates of deposits for the moment.

But is hibernation a good tactic for your business during an economic slowdown?

Diversification vs. Focus-Driven

This has been the subject of debate.

Startups that manage to grow will often hit a fork in the road where they can no longer grow with their current set up.

Now, they have to make a choice: diversify their portfolio or bolster their product while they take a more focus-driven approach.

Instead of diversifying, they just ensure that their processes and workflow are more efficient, they automate to limit disruption and enhance the customer experience to guarantee client loyalty.

However, while you may see your bottom-line increase, it could just be temporary. That’s because you are not adding products or service value to your business.

Diversification doesn’t immediately produce results either. There’s no guarantee it will ever deliver the outcome you anticipate.

When the economy is in transition, you will find many competitors fighting over the scraps. This is a high-stakes game that could spell success or the end of your business. However, the alternative is no less disastrous.

The other option is not doing anything. When you pin the future of your company entirely on the hope that the economy will get better, you have the wrong strategy.

If you do decide to diversify, here are some quick tips to cut your risks:

  1. Don’t veer away too much from your core competency. Diversification doesn’t always mean being different. That’s oversimplifying its definition. Knowing your core competence will give you insight into how other capabilities tie together. Your main goal should be to create a new product or service that is still tied to your core competency in order to bring in new customers.
  2. Don’t forget your loyal customers. In fact, you need to align your strategies by boosting the value of your core business. You then retain the same customers and offer them another product that matches another — but still related — need.
  3. Put money into your marketing efforts. Ads and promotions are typically the first things to be sacrificed by companies that are scrimping on the budget. However, you need to make people aware that you have a new product. Even in an economic slowdown, people still buy. That’s consumer resiliency. You need to funnel these customers to your company by showing them that you are the answer to their most nagging questions.
  4. Timing is everything. Still aligning your diversification with your core competencies, you need to know when to change tack and when to sit it out. Before deciding to diversify, you need to bolster your core business to make sure you don’t lose focus. When the revenues have plateaued, then it’s time to shore up your business and add value by creating another product or service.
  5. Watch out for your cash flow. Revisit your inventory and your credit policies. When the times are tough, you may need to borrow in order to infuse new capital into your endeavors. However, no bank will offer you a lifeline when you have a shot credit and lousy financial prospects.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

There’s a saying in sports and even in war: The best defense is a good offense.

This strategy will allow you to take back control of the situation. Rather than wait for the next hammer to fall, you change your approach and bring the fight to the enemy.

This is a scary part, especially when the economic landscape is very fluid. However, there are numerous success stories of businesses that found some opportunities when they decided to go on the offensive rather than wait the economy out.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that this result in a better outcome, but it’s a lot better than playing dead while you wait for the economy to turn.

Here are some quick tips on how to go on offense from defense:

  1. Diversify. If you are putting all your eggs in one basket, chances are you will lose money if most of them crack. Businesses that rely only on one product will be badly hit during a slowdown.
  2. Think outside the box. It doesn’t even matter if you are earning less with your new business than you were with the old one. Expanding your network is the only way to learn and earn. Step out of your comfort zone and attend some industry trade shows.
  3. Reinforce relationships. This is a good way to let your clients know that you can be trusted even when the times are bleak. Don’t cut corners on the quality of your work, and don’t use the economy as an excuse for missing deliveries. In the same vein, get in touch with your suppliers to reassure them that work will continue (although the volume likely will be down).
  4. Cut fat. Sometimes the only way to take flight is if your business isn’t as heavy. This is a good opportunity to revisit your operations and trim the fat. You will find that your employees won’t be inflexible when you institute changes. They know that the market is very challenging, and they will be more apt to help.
  5. Form an advisory board. It seems paradoxical to suggest this when the item above tells you to cut fat. But if done correctly, the board can become a rich repository of ideas with which you can follow-through as you go about diversifying your products and services.
  6. Automation and analytics. Automating your workflow can boost your efficiency. Big data analytics are already being used by companies in order to improve customer experience. Analytics will give you insight into the minds and behaviors of your clients. This, in turn, will help you come up with a product that truly addresses their needs.
  7. Ask for help. If you are a member of any industry associations, this is the right time to touch base. The government also has some assistance to offer — in terms of technology transfer or financial assistance — to help you keep your head above water.

Lastly, you need to understand that there’s life beyond your business. Too often, you see CEOs with failed marriages and broken families because they prioritized their careers at the expense of spouses and children.

You hear of executives becoming addicted to the drug fentanyl, heroin, or alcohol to help them cope. They equate the failure of the business to their value as an individual.

However, there are more important things in life than being a successful CEO.

Life is all about challenges. Life will push you down if you refuse to push back. It doesn’t matter how many times you stumble. What’s important is how many times you get back up.

Take advantage of the economic slowdown to take stock of what’s important to you.
Bond with the kids, rekindle the romance with your spouse, visit your parents and siblings.
You just might realize that it doesn’t matter if you see yourself as a failure; you will be a hero in your kids’ eyes.

You can contact Patrick Bailey:

Email: bailey patrick780 @gmail.com (remove spaces)
Blog: http://patrickbaileys.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Pat_Bailey80
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-bailey-writer

Not-for-Profit Directorships – It’s not a charity!

Roger Phare

Today, non-profit organisations in the United States control upward of $1.5 trillion in assets and are increasingly relied upon to help address society’s ills.

Corporations are not alone in focusing on governance; rigorous oversight of management and performance is increasingly important for non-profits too.

The corporate-governance debate globally is spreading from the for-profit to the non-profit world.

To improve the governance of non-profits, boards must venture beyond the traditional focus on raising funds, selecting CEOs, and setting high-level policy.

The litmus test of the chief executive’s leadership is not the ability to solve problems alone but the capacity to articulate key questions and guide a collaborative effort to formulate answers.

Theory and law dictate that the board of directors is responsible to govern your organization. Typically, new boards of directors in a new organization work hands-on, almost as partners — or as a “working board” — with the chief executive. A wise CEO will see Board members almost as strategic partners, rather than as a necessary evil that corporations must have.

It is important if you are building a board with the right set of tasks in mind. Boards have multiple roles, from fundraising to caretaking, governance, and oversight. Just like any company or corporation, it is important to do an assessment. Understand the skills that your particular non-profit needs to fulfil your mission.

Putting together an outstanding non-profit board is easier said than done, and it takes a lot of precision. Not everyone makes a great board member, so it’s acceptable to be picky when it comes to putting together a non-profit board.

Board challenges are something that many non-profits struggle with, and there’s no easy solution. We often hear horror stories of board takeovers—when the non-profit leadership is “overthrown” by its board of directors.

We welcome back Roger Phare as our guest blogger who is an accomplished Global Executive Director, equipped with a commanding track record over the past 38 years of bringing sound judgement and a strong commercial perspective to IT businesses, from ‘Mainframe to Mobile’.

Roger has been fortunate to have been part of the commercial computing lifespan. With a market driven approach, which he has strategically supported, a number of organisations, both at significant Board, Executive and Regional Directorship and responsibilities. An expert in corporate governance and compliance and risk management; enjoying challenging the status quo and providing independent advice to Boards whilst maintaining sound judgment, impartiality and with integrity.

Roger is going to talk to us about ‘Not-for-Profit Directorships – It’s not a charity!’

Thank you Geoff, the blog heading might seem like an oxymoron (or perhaps even a paradox for those of the literary-minded fraternity). After all, surely Not-for- Profit (NFP) organisations are charities; a fact that very few would dispute. At board level, however, the leadership, governance and compliance responsibilities are on at least an equal footing with commercial businesses of equivalent size and complexity.

I mentioned in a previous blog that that the term “Not-for-Profit” is a misnomer; in reality the correct term would be more likely “Not-for-Dividend”. In other words there is nothing at all wrong with, in fact commendable that, a charitable organisation makes an operational monetary surplus. The major difference is that the surplus is not distributed to external shareholders but channelled back into the organisation for ongoing initiatives. The governance and risk at board level is substantial and yet directors are often voluntary – pro-bono if you like.

The issue is not just one of payment but the value and importance placed upon such roles. At a recent business event I overheard a young professional discussing board opportunities. The individual was alluding to a recent application they had made to become a voluntary director on a NFP board. They went on to say that they hoped it would give them experience to apply for “proper” board positions in the future and – wait for it – if they made mistakes along it didn’t really matter because it was only voluntary! The concept of “free” having little or no “value” is the problem.

Now I am not proposing that Not-for-Profit Directors are necessarily paid at the highest commercial rates; there does need to be a good amount of desire and passion to be involved with the sector which means there is in-effect, a subsidised participation. I have long held the view that the NFP sector should consider the concept of “paid volunteers” (there’s that oxymoron thing again) for all roles within the organisation. What does this mean? Well – currently NFP’s have two types of staffing – paid and voluntary. Voluntary means no payment (other than direct expenses) and this leads to issues such as talent pool availability plus difficulties in selection of one candidate over another.

If, union rules permitting, all staff were paid volunteers i.e all paid but at say, 50% of market rates then this overcome a good number of the issues currently faced. At board level an experienced director could value the 50% subsidy as their pro-bono contribution, yet still be able to justify the time, effort and corporate responsibility required within their portfolio.

With this approach, charity could well begin at home….

We hope you enjoyed this blog!

You can contact Roger Phare via LinkedIn: Roger Phare on LinkedIn
or by email: roger phare @ gmail .com (remove all spaces)

Is rhythm the human connection of happiness!

I read a very interesting book recently called ‘J.S.S. Bach’, by Martin Goodman – the book was twenty years in the making, a subtle novel that treads delicately around identity, values and life purpose. Otto Schalmik is a world-famous cellist and composer; Rosa Cline is a young musicologist researching his biography. Yet underlying this ostensibly professional relationship lies a web of bonds that have shaped their lives. Otto and Rosa have both, in different ways, emerged from the Holocaust. Otto is a former inmate of Dachau and Buchenwald, while Rosa is grandchild of the Nazi administrator of these same camps. Musician, musicologist and Nazi are joined by a shared love of classical music that transcends history.

There’s little question that humans are wired for music. Researchers recently discovered that we have a dedicated part of our brain for processing music, supporting the theory that it has a special, important function in our lives.

Listening to music and singing together has been shown in several studies to directly impact neuro-chemicals in the brain, many of which play a role in closeness and connection.
Now new research suggests that playing music or singing together may be particularly potent in bringing about social closeness through the release of endorphins.

There is a wonderful quote in the book ‘The magic Mountains’ by John E. Woods (1924) “Time is the element of narration… it is also the element of music, which itself measures and divides time, making it suddenly diverting and precious.”

Some time ago I wrote a blog ‘Music is emotional communication… explained’, where I discussed whether music makes you happy or sad. One of the fascinating things that has become clear is that people from very different cultures and backgrounds will often agree on whether a piece of music sounds happy or sad – making it a truly universal form of communication.

In another context Nelson Mandela drafted his memoirs while jailed in the notorious maximum security prison of Robben Island, where he spent 18 of the 27 years he was jailed by the Nationalist Party for his part in fighting for racial equality and the eradication of apartheid.

In prison, where the different pillars of, and approaches to, struggle interlaced – mass local protests, underground struggle, armed military units, and international demonstrations – music transcended political, tribal and linguistic differences to unite an oppressed people against a common enemy.

The prisoners also set up a choir in their isolation section, conducted by Joshua Zulu – a music teacher, with about ten members, including Mandela, and Selby Ngendani who was well-versed in popular music.

The prisoners also enjoyed a daily music programme played by the warders over the intercom system, including musicians such as Miriam Makeba, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez and Nat King Cole.

Music has also been linked to dopamine release, involved in regulating mood and craving behavior, which seems to predict music’s ability to bring us pleasure. Coupled with the effects on endorphins, music seems to make us feel good and connect with others, perhaps particularly when we make music ourselves.

But music is more than just a common pleasure. New studies reveal how it can work to create a sense of group identity.

In a series of ingenious studies, researchers Chris Loerch and Nathan Arbuckle studied how musical reactivity — how much one is affected by listening to music — is tied to group processes, such as one’s sense of belonging to a group, positive associations with ingroup members, bias toward outgroup members, and responses to group threat in various populations.

The researchers found that “musical reactivity is causally related to basic social motivations” and that “reactivity to music is related to markers of successful group living.” In other words, music makes us affiliate with groups.

It is not just music that connects people, with music you also have dance. Footloose is a 1984 American musical comedy-drama film directed by Herbert Ross. It tells the story of Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon), an upbeat Chicago teen who moves to a small town in which, as a result of the efforts of a local minister (John Lithgow), dancing and rock music have been banned. The film is loosely based on actual events that took place in the small, rural, and religious community of Elmore City, Oklahoma.

Footloose

From the film Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) even quoted from the bible:
‘The oldest of times, people danced for a number of reasons. They danced in prayer or so that their crops would be plentiful or so their hunt would be good. And they danced to stay physically fit and show their community spirit. And they danced to celebrate. And that, that is the dancing that we’re talking about. Aren’t we told in Psalm 149: ‘Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song. Let them praise His name in the dance’?…It was King David. King David, who we read about in Samuel, and, and what did David do? What did David do? What did David do? ‘David danced before the Lord with all his might, leaping, leaping and dancing before the Lord.’ Leaping and dancing! Ecclesiastes assures us that there is a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to laugh and a time to weep. A time to mourn and there is a time to dance. And there was a time for this law, but not anymore. See, this is our time to dance. It is our way of, of celebrating life. It’s the way it was in the beginning. It’s the way it’s always been. It’s the way it should be now.’

One of the most captivating shows full of emotion that I have ever seen is Frankenstein at The Royal Opera House in London, Love, grief and the desire for power over death fuel a tragic spiral of events in Liam Scarlett’s ballet adaptation of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece.

Below is a link with an excerpt of the show.

A long time ago, when dance was expressed by simple dynamic movements of human, music was just the sound that made by the collision between pieces of woods or other simple objects. From there, music and dance go together and develop together until today. From the rudimentary musical instruments, people invented many other types of musical instruments which can make many different sounds.

With those types of sounds, the dancers feel the music and create new movements. We can say that music is the inspiration of dance. Therefore, dance cannot be without music. For example, the dancers got on the stage to perform a dance without music and without any other sound, the movements of dancers would not follow any rhythm then the dancers couldn’t connect to each other to follow the same rhythm. All the audiences saw on the stage was a bunch of people running and jumping around. However, it will be a huge difference if the dancers dance with music. Music will give the dancers the rhythm that can connect them together to make the same movements at the same time.

Music is like a director who is telling the dancers what to do, when to do, and when to stop. Not just like a director, music also give dancers the feelings when they are performing. With the connection between music and the movements, it will bring to the audience a feeling about the dance. While watching the dance, music is such an important letter that is written down with a lot of emotions by the writers who are the dancers. Therefore, music plays an important role in dancing. Once again, dance cannot be without music.

Not just music affects to dance but dance also affects to music. Dance is a way to express the music as well as to feel the music. There are lots of types of music with different rhythm and emotions. With that rhythm, dancers create the dances follow the rhythm to make the music, songs more emotional and it will be easier to touch the audients’ hearts. Each rhythm has different dance. For example, with fast, funny, and happy rhythms, the dance will be quick movements with some funny and definitive movements as well as the happy emotion on dancers’ faces. However, for slow and sad rhythms and music, the dance will be slow, smooth combine with emotions which are expressed from inside out of the dancers. Therefore, a different music has different type of dance to express the true meaning and emotion of the songs, music. Thus, dance is a main way to express and feel the music as well as bring that feeling to the audiences.

Follow the appearance and developments of countries in the world, each country has its own culture, festival, or religion. In the culture of the countries, there is an indispensable activity is dance. That dance is also the traditional dance which is always danced in the big festival. Each dance has its own music. Therefore, music becomes a sign of traditional dance. For example, when a song is play, by listening to the rhythm and the beat, people can know which type of dance that music belong to or that music belong to which type of dance. Music and dance develop beside each other and play the important roles in each other as well. Nowadays, many famous dances such as Samba of Brazil or Cha-Cha dance of Cuba are one of the inspiration for the composers to write their songs.

There is not just a relationship, music and dance become an insightful interrelationship. In many religions, it is one of the most sacred and considered as one of the biggest, most special forms of connecting to a deity. The Native American believe that the rain dance will connect them to the deity and send their message and petition to the deity. They believe that after seeing the dance which is also the symbol of the petition, the deity will make rain and give them a healthy life and successful crops.

The relationship between dance and music is very profound. They go together as one cannot miss the other. Dance cannot be without music. Without music, dance is just like some funny actions of dancers on the stage which is running and jumping around without a meaning, emotion, or feeling. Dance needs music to help to bring the emotion and the soul of the dance to the audience also help the dancers on the stage to connect to each other like an invisible string. Music needs dance to express the emotions that the composers put on the songs or music. Dance is also an inspirational for some of the most world-class composers to compose their music.

Especially, when dance and music come and connect, it is something more than a relationship. It is an interrelationship between people and deity. In their religions, there is a belief in music and dance which is they will bring and send the petition of people to the deity to bless them a successful crop and a healthy life. Relationship between dance and music is one of the special and indispensable relationships.

Finally, as I stated at the beginning of this blog, research has also shown music helps release dopamine, the neurotransmitter often referred to as the “happy chemical” associated with our brain’s reward system.

It’s why we get that ostensibly inexplicable “chill” during that moment when a song really speaks to us (think the guitar solo in “Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile by Santana). As it turns out, this sensation can be explained by the way music interacts with our brain chemistry.

Robert J. Zatorre and Valorie N. Salimpoor, both neuroscientists, have conducted extensive research on music’s impact on the brain. As they explain it:
When pleasurable music is heard, dopamine is released in the striatum, an ancient part of the brain found in other vertebrates as well, which is known to respond to naturally rewarding stimuli like food and sex and which is artificially targeted by drugs like cocaine and amphetamine.

Simply put, our brains are programmed to be happier when we listen to music. It speaks to us and affects us in ways we can only begin to fathom.

Music is an indispensable gift, and we should never take it, or the happiness it produces, for granted.

In the same way that music is beneficial to our health and overall outlook on life, happiness helps improve productivity.

Happiness isn’t something that is naturally bestowed upon people. It takes effort, and a willingness to focus on positive thinking, but your hard work will pay off.

As Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Steven Kramer, an independent researcher, contend in the New York Times:
‘Employees are far more likely to have new ideas on days when they feel happier. Conventional wisdom suggests that pressure enhances performance; our real-time data, however, shows that workers perform better when they are happily engaged in what they do.’

Along with greater rates of productivity, teamwork and creativity, research also suggests happy employees lead to increased profits.

Interestingly enough, there is also a link between listening to music and efficiency. A study found that nine out of 10 workers performed better while listening to some tunes.

There was also a correlation between efficiency and the type of music they listened to. For example, classical music has shown to aid in work that involves numbers. So if you’ve got math homework, Mozart might be your best friend.

This all goes to show that music is the secret ingredient to both happiness and productivity.

In other words, music is arguably the root of all that’s positive in this world, or as Mark Twain once said:


“Sing like no one is listening.
Love like you’ve never been hurt.
Dance like nobody’s watching,
and live like it’s heaven on earth.”

Is Life a Mathematical Equation?

Solving a Rubik’s Cube tests key mind skills – memory and visual thinking and sometimes challenges in life can be overcome.

It took Ernõ Rubik more than a month to solve his namesake puzzle the first time. Today, competitive cuber’s can best the classic brain teaser in less than five seconds, and casual players can do it in minutes. Their not-so-secret weapon is math. More specifically: algorithms. Devising or memorizing sequences of moves that accomplish a particular goal—for instance, swapping two corners—is key to cracking your Rubik’s Cube. When game designers start stacking more layers onto a standard 3-by-3-by-3-square cuboid, it doesn’t change those algorithms much; it just makes the solve mega-tedious. But changing other variables like rotation angles and block depths creates puzzles for many skill levels and breaking points.

There are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 ways to solve a Rubik’s Cube. That’s just over 43 quintillion for the less numerically minded. But don’t try to figure them all out – at a rate of one turn per second, it would take you 1.4 trillion years to make your way through all the configurations!

‘When you are studying from a book, lots of people go straight to the end to look for the answers. But that’s not my style. For me, the most enjoyable part is the puzzle, the process of solving, not the solution itself. Erno Rubik.’

What’s the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything? In Douglas Adams’ science fiction spoof ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, the answer was 42; the hardest part turned out to be finding the real question. I find it very appropriate that Adams joked about 42 because mathematics has played a striking role in our growing understanding of the universe.

The idea that everything is, in some sense, mathematical goes back at least to the Pythagoreans of ancient Greece and has spawned centuries of discussion among physicists and philosophers. In the 17th century, Galileo famously stated that our universe is a “grand book” written in the language of mathematics. More recently, the Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner argued in the 1960s that “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences” demanded an explanation.

Soon, we’ll explore a really extreme explanation. However, first we need to clear up exactly what we’re trying to explain. Isn’t math all about numbers? You can probably spot a few numbers here and there but these are just symbols invented and printed by people, so they can hardly be said to reflect our universe being mathematical in any deep way.

When you look around you, do you see any geometric patterns or shapes? Here again, human-made designs like the rectangular shape of a book or a magazine don’t count. But try throwing a pebble, and watch the beautiful shape that nature makes for its trajectory.

The trajectories of anything you throw have the same shape, called an upside-down parabola. When we observe how things move around in orbits in space, we discover another recurring shape: the ellipse. Moreover, these two shapes are related: The tip of a very elongated ellipse is shaped almost exactly like a parabola. So, in fact, all of these trajectories are simply parts of ellipses.

We humans have gradually discovered many additional recurring shapes and patterns in nature, involving not only motion and gravity, but also electricity, magnetism, light, heat, chemistry, radioactivity and subatomic particles. These patterns are summarized by what we call our laws of physics. Just like the shape of an ellipse, all these laws can be described using mathematical equations.

Equations aren’t the only hints of mathematics that are built into nature: There are also numbers. As opposed to human creations like the page numbers in this magazine, I’m now talking about numbers that are basic properties of our physical reality.

For example, how many pencils can you arrange so that they’re all perpendicular (at 90 degrees) to each other? The answer is 3, by placing them along the three edges emanating from a corner of your room. Where did that number 3 come sailing in from? We call this number the dimensionality of our space, but why are there three dimensions rather than four or two or 42?

There’s something very mathematical about our universe, and the more carefully we look, the more math we seem to find. So, what do we make of all these hints of mathematics in our physical world?

Let’s look at mathematics in a wider context:

1. Science mostly frames data in mathematical relationships. But physicists like Joscha Bach are updating that nature “written in mathematics” picture, repainting the universe as “not mathematical, but computational.”

2. “Computation is different from mathematics.” Math mostly isn’t computable ( = unsolvable). But matter computes (it always knows what to do).

3. For Bach, physics is about “finding an algorithm that can reproduce” the data. He calls this computationalism, but “algomorphism” better emphasizes algorithmic structure.

4. Algthe orithms are detailed instructions, recipes that specify every ingredient and processing step. Beyond Bach’s desire for computability, algorithms can better express critical properties of sequence and conditionality.

5. The algebraic equation language (AEL) that physicists are trained to love has key limitations (classic case “the 3 body problem”).

6. Deeper consequences lurk in AEL’s grammar. X + Y = Y + X, but cart before horse ≠ horse before cart. Sequences often matter (in life, even if not in AEL syntax).

7. Some seek only AEL. Sabine Hossenfelder challenges anyone “to write down any equation … that allows … free will.” Perhaps AEL can’t paint the needed picture?

8. Freeman Dyson says “the reduction of other sciences to physics does not work.” Living cells aren’t best viewed just “as a collection of atoms.”

9. Your bag of atoms, to be you, takes mind-bogglingly complex processes, orchestrating trillions of ingredient atoms (= massively sequential, utterly algorithmic, not algebraic).

10. Biology also needs algorithmic logic because life unavoidably involves choosing (like choosing what to avoid to avoid being eaten). Algorithms provide a language naturally fit to describe choosing. AEL can’t easily express rules like, “If predator, then run; otherwise graze.”

11. Natural selection is itself a meta-algorithm. Likewise economics (~productivity selection) is deeply algorithmic (sadly its modelers mainly write AEL).

12. The universe abounds with algorithms in action. Physics has mostly painted AEL-suited pictures. But life expresses richer logic in its empirical patterns.

13. Choosing is key (as is choosing the right language). Even non-living systems — e.g., computers — embody choosing logic.

14. Babies, of necessity great causality detectors, distinguish two pattern types — physicsy things (=unchoosing) from what’s living (=exhibits “contingency patterns”).

15. What if systems could be described by a “choosing quotient,” CQ, that works sorta like electric charge. Things with electric charge (net charge > 0) do things that things without it don’t. Perhaps CQ > 0 systems can use energy to respond differently than physics’ CQ=0 systems?

16. Causation itself could be pictured as that which enables transitions between algorithmically computable states.

17. AEL can’t usefully paint all empirical patterns. Algorithms provide a richer palette.

The Mathematical Universe Hypothesis, which states that our external physical reality is a mathematical structure, to answer this question….we need to take a closer look at mathematics. To a modern logician, a mathematical structure is precisely this: a set of abstract entities with relations between them. This is in stark contrast to the way most of us first perceive mathematics — either as a sadistic form of punishment or as a bag of tricks for manipulating numbers.

Modern mathematics is the formal study of structures that can be defined in a purely abstract way, without any human baggage. Think of mathematical symbols as mere labels without intrinsic meaning. It doesn’t matter whether you write “two plus two equals four,” “2 + 2 = 4”.

The notation used to denote the entities and the relations is irrelevant; the only properties of integers are those embodied by the relations between them.

In summary, there are two key points to take away: The External Reality Hypothesis implies that a “theory of everything” (a complete description of our external physical reality) has no baggage, and something that has a complete baggage-free description is precisely a mathematical structure.

The bottom line is that if you believe in an external reality independent of humans, then you must also believe that our physical reality is a mathematical structure. Everything in our world is purely mathematical — including you.

As Erno Rubik once said:

“If you find a solution with the Cube, it doesn’t mean you find everything. It’s only a starting point. You can work on and find something else: you can improve your solution, you can make it shorter, you can go deeper and deeper and collect knowledge and many other things.”

Biochemistry is pure purpose, passion and dedication to innovation

Every now and again, we hear the clichéd question, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ or ‘What is the purpose of life?’ or ‘Why are we born?’. In most cases, we have our own agenda on what our purpose in life is.

To become a scientist today, you need experience in experimentation – but getting lab experience if you’re an undergraduate can be incredibly difficult.
Biochemistry itself determines, to a large extent, the sort of passion you have in you towards Biochemistry and as you know with success, you require a passion, a vision, a plan an objective.

Why I love Biochemistry

From biotechnology and digital media to sustainable energy and cloud computing, almost everything today is somehow affected—and sometimes entirely reshaped—by scientific and technological advances.

As a society, we have come to take the fruits of science for granted, such as our use of computers, our access to running water and electricity, and our dependence on various forms of transportation and communication. But all such benefits follow from the discoveries and inventions of scientists as they pursue deep insights into the workings of nature and its materials.

Some scientists are enormously influential as culture critics or public intellectuals. In this respect, figures like Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, or Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould a generation back, come to mind.

Biochemists study the structure, composition, chemical processes and chemical reactions in living organisms. They analyse the chemical reactions in the cells and tissues of living things, study the expression of genes, and research on the effects of food, medicine and other substances on living tissues. Biochemistry is an interdisciplinary field and encompasses elements of molecular biology, molecular genetics, microbiology, and organic and inorganic chemistry. Pure research in biochemistry is conducted to further human knowledge of the subject while applied research is conducted to solve practical problems.

The work of biochemists is applicable to a variety of fields like medicine, food science, agriculture and industry. In human and veterinary medicine, biochemists analyze drug function and mechanism, and help in the development of new drugs. Biochemists engaged in agriculture and food science determine the chemical composition of foods to explore different sources of nutritious food, and study the effects of herbicides and other chemicals on crop plants. They use advanced tools and techniques like radioactive isotopes, spectrophotometers, centrifuges, electron microscopes and specialized software to perform experiments.

When I was younger, I remember studying the work of Louis Pasteur, a French chemist and microbiologist who developed the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax. He is also credited with the invention of the technique of treating milk and wine to stop bacterial contamination, a process named “pasteurisation” after him.

One of the pioneers in the field of microbiology, Pasteur, along with Ferdinand Cohn and Robert Koch, is regarded as one of the three main founders of bacteriology. Born as the son of a tanner who had served in the Napoleonic Wars, Louis grew up listening to his father’s patriotic tales which instilled in him a deep love for his country. As a young boy he loved to draw and paint, but his parents wanted him to focus on his studies. He was an average student who even failed in his first attempt to clear the entrance test for École Normale Supérieur though he eventually went on complete his doctorate.

In his career as a chemist he disproved many of the long-held erroneous “scientific” beliefs such as the concept of spontaneous generation. He received international acclaim for developing the first vaccination against rabies and for his seminal work in the field of germ theory. Although much renowned for his ground-breaking scientific works, Pasteur’s life has also been the subject of several controversies.

You have to feel nostalgic when you start to think of some of the greatest discoveries ever created, and just maybe without these genius biochemists we may not even have the revolutionary world that exists today, here are some of those great discoveries:

1. Galileo Galilei (1564 to 1642)
Legend has it that in order to test how gravity worked, Galileo dropped two balls, a heavy one and a light one, from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, showing that they landed at the same time. Historians doubt this – because his actual experiment was much better.

The Italian carved a groove down the centre of a board about 20 feet long and 10 inches wide. Then he propped it at an angle and timed how quickly the balls rolled down the track. What he discovered was that the distance the ball travels is proportional to the square of the time that has elapsed. But how, in an age before clocks, could Galileo measure this so precisely? He probably used music. Along the ball’s path, he placed cat-gut frets, like those on a lute. As the rolling ball clicked against the frets, Galileo sang a tune, using the upbeats to time the motion and discover a new law.

2. William Harvey (1578 to 1657)
Galen had taught that the body contains two separate vascular systems: a blue “vegetative” fluid, the elixir of nourishment and growth, coursed through the veins, while a bright red “vital” fluid travelled through the arteries, activating the muscles and stimulating motion. Invisible spirits, or “pneuma”, caused the fluids to slosh back and forth like the tides. The heart just went along for the ride, expanding and contracting like a bellows.

Harvey was dubious. Cutting open a snake, he used a forceps to pinch the main vein, or vena cava, just before it entered the heart. The space downstream from the obstruction emptied of blood, while the heart grew paler and smaller, as though it were about to die. When Harvey released the grip, the heart refilled and sprung back to life. Pinching the heart’s main artery had the opposite effect: the space between heart and forceps became gorged with blood, inflating like a balloon. It was the heart, not invisible spirits, that was the driving motor, pushing red blood to the extremities of the body, where it passed into the bluish veins and returned to the heart for rejuvenation. There was one kind of blood and it moved in a circle: it circulated.

3. Isaac Newton (1642 to 1727)
In Newton’s day, Europe’s great scientists believed that white light was pure and fundamental. When it bounced off a coloured object or passed through a tinted liquid or glass, it became stained somehow with colour – whatever “colour” was. Newton, holed up in a dark room at his family farm in Woolsthorpe, turned the idea on its head. He cut a hole in his window shutter and held a prism in the path of the sun, spreading the light into an oblong spectrum.

Then he funnelled the spectrum through a second prism. White again. Finally, he allowed the colours to pass, one by one, through the second prism. Starting at the red end and progressing toward the blue, each colour was bent a little more by the glass. Light, Newton had discovered, “consists of rayes differently refrangible”. It was white that was the mongrel – not just another colour, but a combination of them all, a “heterogeneous mixture of differently refrangible rayes”.

4. Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743 to 1794)
In the 18th century, the conventional wisdom was that things burned because they contained something called phlogiston. Set a piece of wood on fire and it exuded this mysterious essence, leaving behind a pile of ash. Wood, it logically followed, was composed of phlogiston and ash.

Likewise, heating a metal under an intense flame left a whitish brittle substance, or calx. Metal was thus composed of phlogiston and calx. But Lavoisier was troubled by one thing: with the phlogiston expelled, the calx was heavier than the original metal. How could phlogiston weigh less than zero? By cooking mercury in a flask, he showed that, as the calx formed, something was sucked from the surrounding air. He isolated the gas and lit a taper, noting that it burned “with a dazzling splendour”. Calx was not metal without phlogiston, but metal combined with what Lavoisier would name oxygen. Left behind in the flask was a gas that extinguished flames – what we now call nitrogen. Fire and rust produced similar reactions. Lavoisier had discovered the nature of oxidation – and the chemical composition of the air.

5. Luigi Galvani (1737 to 1798)
One day in Bologna, Galvani was startled to see a dismembered frog’s leg twitch when an assistant cranked a static electricity generator on the far side of the laboratory. The same effect occurred during lightning storms. Even more remarkably, Galvani found, the frog’s leg would move, seemingly of its own accord, as it hung from a hook, even in the clearest weather. He concluded that some kind of animal electricity was involved. His compatriot Alessandro Volta was just as sure that the electricity was non-biological, produced by the touching of two different metals: the frog’s leg had hung on a brass hook from an iron rail.

Though neither man could quite see it, they were dancing around a single truth. Volta confirmed that electricity can indeed come from two metals – he had invented the battery. But Galvani went on to show that there is also electricity in the body.
Taking a dissected frog, he nudged a severed nerve against another using a probe made of glass. No metal was involved, but when nerve touched nerve, the muscle contracted, as surely as if someone had closed a switch.

6. Michael Faraday (1791 to 1867)
In his youth, Faraday had performed a suite of experiments showing the linkage between electricity and magnetism, inventing, along the way, the electric motor and the dynamo. But by the time he was 53, he had fallen into a deep depression.
Maybe it was a barrage of flirtatious correspondence from Lady Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Byron, that snapped him out of his funk: whatever the cause, he decided to push the unification a step further, and show that electricity and magnetism are related to light.

Using an Argand oil lamp, Faraday projected polarised light through a block of glass, alongside of which sat a powerful electromagnet. Holding a polarising filter, called a Nicol prism, to his eye, he rotated it until the light was extinguished. Then he switched on the current. The image of the flame suddenly reappeared. He turned the magnet off and the flame disappeared. The magnetic field, he realised, was twisting the light beam – and if the polarity of the field was reversed, the light beam rotated the other way. Faraday had unified two more forces, demonstrating that light was actually a form of electromagnetism.

7. James Joule (1818 to 1889)
Lavoisier had done away with phlogiston, but before his death he had introduced the idea of caloric, his name for an invisible substance – a “subtle fluid” – said to be the carrier of heat.
Put a metal poker in a fire, he argued, and the caloric will rise up the shaft until you can feel the warmth in the handle. According to this theory, the reason something gets hot when you rub it is because you abrade the surface and let some caloric out.

But why, no matter how long you rubbed, did the heat keep coming? Either there was an infinite supply of caloric in every object or, as Joule suspected, heat was something else altogether. With a rigging of pulleys and weights, he spun a paddle wheel inside a vessel of water and carefully measured the change in temperature. The motion of the paddle made the water warmer, and the relationship was precise: raising one pound of the liquid by one degree took 772 foot-pounds of work. Joule had discovered that heat was not a thing. It was a form of motion.

8. A A Michelson (1852 to 1931)
For a Navy man such as Michelson, it was unthinkable that the Earth could be adrift in the infinitude with no landmarks to measure by. So he set out to prove the existence of the aether, the fixed backdrop of the universe and the substance in which our planet swam as it moved through space. In his apparatus, two beams of light travelled in perpendicular directions. The beam moving upstream – with the earth’s orbit – should, he predicted, be slowed by the wind of the aether, while the other beam should be less effected. By comparing their velocities with an interferometer, Michelson would calculate the motion of the Earth against the heavens. But something was wrong: the speed of the two beams was the same. With help from Edward Morley, Michelson made the measurements much more precisely. Still there was not a hint of aether. In fact, the experiment was a beautiful failure.

As Einstein went on to show, there can be no fixed space or even fixed time. As we move through the universe, our measuring sticks shrink and stretch, our clocks run slower and faster – all to preserve the one true standard, which is not the aether, but the speed of light.

9. Ivan Pavlov (1849 to 1936)
Contrary to legend, Pavlov hardly ever used bells in his experiments with salivating dogs. His animals were more discriminating. In his “Tower of Silence”, sealed from distractions, he and his assistants conditioned the animals to distinguish between objects rotating clockwise or counter-clockwise, between a circle and an ellipse, even between subtle shades of gray.

But for his most remarkable experiment, he used music. First, a dog was trained to salivate when it heard an ascending scale, but not a descending one. But what, Pavlov wondered, would happen if the animal listened to the other combinations of the same notes? The melodies were played and the spittle collected. Through simple conditioning, the dog had categorised the music it heard into two groups, depending on whether the pitches were predominantly rising or falling. The mind had lost a bit of its mystery, Pavlov had shown how learning was a matter of creatures forming new connections in a living machine.

10. Robert Millikan (1868 to 1953)
By bending a cathode ray with an electrical field, Cambridge scholar J?J Thomson had shown electricity to be a form of matter, and measured the ratio of its charge to its mass. It followed that electricity was made of particles, but to clinch the case someone needed to isolate and measure one.

In Millikan’s laboratory in Chicago, two round brass plates, the top one with a hole drilled through the centre, were mounted on a stand and illuminated from the side by a bright light. Then the plates were connected to a 1,000-volt battery. With a perfume atomiser, Millikan sprayed a mist of oil above the apparatus and watched through a telescope as some of the droplets – they looked like little stars – fell into the area between the plates. As he tweaked the voltage, he watched as some drops were pushed slowly upward while others were pulled down. Their passage through the atomiser had ionised them, giving the drops negative or positive charges. By timing their movement with a stopwatch, Millikan showed that charge, like pocket change, came in discrete quantities. He had found the electron.

Biochemistry is fast developing into an extremely important subject. Forming the basis of a great deal of research, its study can make for a successful career offering more alternatives than many other streams of science.

Its applications are of vital significance to the fields of medicine, diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, microbiology, veterinary, agricultural and dairy sciences.

Biochemists study the structure and function of enzymes, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and their metabolic processes, molecular basis of the action of genes, etc. Biochemical engineering harnesses the knowledge of living organisms and systems to create safe and efficient processes. Mainly concerned with biological changes, it is an essential input in the production of pharmaceuticals, foodstuff and waste treatment.

There is an increasing demand for biochemists involved in biochemical genetic research all over the world, especially for those with a specialisation in cell biology, genetics, proteomics, developmental chemistry, organic and medical chemistry, biochemical methods and research. Openings for biochemists exist in R & D in scientific departments in industry, public sector laboratories, universities and hospitals.

It is clear the world needs more biochemists for evolution and revolutionary creations of innovation across its applications.

As Donald J. Cram, American chemist who shared the 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, once said:

“Few scientists acquainted with the chemistry of biological systems at the molecular level can avoid being inspired. Evolution has produced chemical compounds exquisitely organized to accomplish the most complicated and delicate of tasks. Many organic chemists viewing crystal structures of enzyme systems or nucleic acids and knowing the marvels of specificity of the immune systems must dream of designing and synthesizing simpler organic compounds that imitate working features of these naturally occurring compounds.”

Do we really understand the waves of Economics?

Do we really understand the waves of Economics?

For most people, economics is all about money and finance and issues of supply and demand. While these are important elements, economics is about much more. Economics provides a framework for understanding the actions and decisions of individuals, businesses and governments. It provides a means to understand interactions in a market-driven society and for analysing government policies that affect the families, jobs and lives of citizens

If you watch the news at all, you will probably hear the word ‘economy’ branded in many contexts. But if you are like many people, you may not understand what economics is and why it matters so much.

According to the American Economics Association (AEA), “Economics can be defined in a few different ways. It’s the study of scarcity, the study of how people use resources and respond to incentives, or the study of decision-making. It often involves topics like wealth and finance, but it is not all about money. Economics is a broad discipline that helps us understand historical trends, interpret today’s headlines, and make predictions about the coming years.”

Economics may seem obtuse in the abstract. However, it has very powerful real-world implications. Specifically, according to the AEA, economics can help us answer many big questions, such as why some countries are rich while others are poor; why men earn more than women; how data can help us make sense of the world; what causes recessions; and why we ignore information that could be used toward better decision-making.

Economics Help provides several examples of times when economics come into play, including dealing with shortages of raw materials; working out how wealth is distributed and redistributed within society; determining the extent to which the government should intervene in the economy; and using principles and measures such as opportunity cost, social efficiency, forecasts, and evaluation.

Friedrich August von Hayek once proposed: “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” In this sense, economics lies at the intersection of the natural sciences and the humanities: applying a quantitative, data-driven approach to human behaviour. “As such [it] is one of the most important and relevant skills for the world today, helping us choose wisely when it comes to our personal, social and professional lives,” asserts Financial Express.

In 1998, as the Asian financial crisis was ravaging what had been some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, the New Yorker ran an article describing the international rescue efforts. It profiled the super-diplomat of the day, a big-idea man the Economist had recently likened to Henry Kissinger. The New Yorker went further, noting that when he arrived in Japan in June, this American official was treated “as if he were General [Douglas] MacArthur.”

In retrospect, such reverence seems surprising, given that the man in question, Larry Summers, was a dishevelled, somewhat awkward nerd then serving as the U.S. deputy treasury secretary. His extraordinary status owed, in part, to the fact that the United States was then (and still is) the world’s sole superpower and the fact that Summers was (and still is) extremely intelligent. But the biggest reason for Summers’s welcome was the widespread perception that he possessed a special knowledge that would save Asia from collapse. Summers was an economist.

During the Cold War, the tensions that defined the world were ideological and geopolitical. As a result, the superstar experts of that era were those with special expertise in those areas. And policymakers who could combine an understanding of both, such as Kissinger, George Kennan, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, ascended to the top of the heap, winning the admiration of both politicians and the public.

Once the Cold War ended, however, geopolitical and ideological issues faded in significance, overshadowed by the rapidly expanding global market as formerly socialist countries joined the Western free trade system. All of a sudden, the most valuable intellectual training and practical experience became economics, which was seen as the secret sauce that could make and unmake nations. In 1999, after the Asian crisis abated, Time magazine ran a cover story with a photograph of Summers, U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and the headline “The Committee to Save the World.”

In the three decades since the end of the Cold War, economics has enjoyed a kind of intellectual challenge. It has become first among equals in the social sciences and has dominated most policy agendas as well. Economists have been much sought after by businesses, governments, and society at large, their insights seen as useful in every sphere of life. Popularized economics and economic-type thinking have produced an entire genre of best-selling books. At the root of all this influence is the notion that economics provides the most powerful lens through which to understand the modern world.

The crisis of 2008 may have been the wake-up call, but it was only the latest warning sign. Modern-day economics had been built on certain assumptions: that countries, companies, and people seek to maximize their income above all else, that human beings are rational actors, and that the system works efficiently.

But over the last few decades, compelling new work by scholars such as Daniel Kahneman, Richard Thaler, and Robert Shiller has begun to show that human beings are not predictably rational; in fact, they’re predictably irrational. This “behavioural revolution” landed a debilitating blow to mainstream economics by arguing that what was perhaps the centrepiece assumption of modern economic theory was not only wrong but, even worse, unhelpful.

Let me be clear: Economics remains a vital discipline, one of the most powerful ways we have to understand the world. Economics remains a vital discipline, one of the most powerful ways we have to understand the world.

Economics promotes understanding of and insight into problems specific to our times, including everything from education and the environment to health care and national security.

“One of the principal jobs for economists is to understand what is happening in the economy and investigate reasons for poverty, unemployment and low economic growth. For example, in a political debate such as – Should, the UK leave the EU? There are many emotional arguments made about immigration. Economic studies can try and evaluate the costs and benefits of free movement of labor.

Economic studies can try to examine the economic effects of immigration. This can help people make a decision about political issues,” says Economics Help

The problems that we want economists to help us solve are more like predicting how leaves will fall on a windy day than predicting how objects will fall in a vacuum. Economic phenomena are affected by a very large number of causal factors of many different kinds.

The world is now facing what observers are calling a “synchronised” growth upswing. What does this mean for the economic “convergence” of developed and developing countries, a topic that lost salience after the Great Recession began a decade ago?

The answer will depend on developing economies’ ability to find and tap new, more advanced sources of growth. In the past, the key engine of convergence was manufacturing. Developing countries that had finally acquired the needed skills and institutions applied advanced-country technologies locally, benefiting from plentiful, low-cost labour.

Rising interest rates, increasing trade tensions, Brexit uncertainty… the world economy in 2019 faces many headwinds, but there are also many positive signs that global growth will continue in the coming year. The incoming and outgoing chief economists at the IMF discuss in this video where we are headed.

Maury Obstfeld, Outgoing Economic Counselor, IMF; Gita Gopinath, Incoming Economic Counselor, IMF; Gerry Rice, Director, Communications Department, IMF

Moreover, today’s cutting-edge technologies – such as robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and bioengineering – are more complex than industrial machinery, and may be more difficult to copy.

And, because intelligent machines can increasingly fill low-wage jobs, developing countries’ cost advantage may have been diminished significantly.

Of course, for robotics and AI to appear in developing-country value chains, including services that rely on frontier technologies, a minimum set of specific skills and infrastructure will be needed. But deploying some new technologies and tasks in the emerging economies may turn out to be no more difficult or costly than in advanced countries.

Here, much will depend on what kind of complementary labour is required. It is often assumed that a pool of very highly skilled labour is crucial to deploy AI. That may be true in some cases, but the opposite may be true in others.

For example, the new labor-displacing technologies could make feasible activities for which there had been insufficient skilled labour. Thus, complete automation can lead to a greater share of an economic activity being located in a developing country.

Another factor that will shape the process of technological upgrading in developing countries is global firms’ willingness to invest. Global market structures and pricing will partly determine the distribution of benefits. But so will countries’ efficiency at learning regulatory lessons, including how to design rules that attract investors, capture important segments of value chains, and secure a sufficiently large share of the gains from innovation. Those countries that learn quickly may actually grow faster than advanced economies, even in high-tech sectors.

Of course, for many countries and sectors, there remains considerable room for traditional catch-up – a process that will likely continue to fuel growth. But it will not be enough to fuel true convergence. For that, developing countries will need to deploy new technologies relatively efficiently, taking into account the role of labour-market skills and regulations. This will not be easy, and we may never return to the “golden age” of convergence that preceded 2007. But new technologies should not be expected to stop convergence, even if, as is likely, they slow it down.

My final word: Economics remains a vital discipline, one of the most powerful ways we have to understand the world. Economics remains a vital discipline, one of the most powerful ways we have to understand the world.
But in the heady days of post-Cold War globalisation, when the world seemed to be dominated by markets and trade and wealth creation, it has become the dominant discipline, the key to understanding modern life. That economics has since slipped from that pedestal is simply a testament to the fact that the world is messy.

The social sciences differ from the hard sciences because “the subjects of our study think,” said Herbert Simon, one of the few scholars who excelled in both. As we try to understand the world of the next three decades, we will desperately need economics but also political science, sociology, psychology, and perhaps even literature and philosophy. Students of each should retain some element of humility.

As Immanuel Kant, an influential German philosopher, in his doctrine of transcendental idealism said:

“Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”

Will globalisation actually happen?

The age of globalisation began on the day the Berlin Wall came down. From that moment in 1989, the trends evident in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s accelerated: the free movement of capital, people and goods; trickle-down economics; a much diminished role for nation states; and a belief that market forces, now unleashed, were unstoppable.

There has been pushback against globalisation over the years. The violent protests seen in Seattle during the World Trade Organisation meeting in December 1999 were the first sign that not everyone saw the move towards untrammelled freedom in a positive light. One conclusion from the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington in September 2001 was that it was not only trade and financial markets that had gone global. The collapse of the investment bank Lehmann Brothers seven years later paid to the idea that the best thing governments could do when confronted with the power of global capital was to get out of the way and let the banks supervise themselves.

Now we have Britain’s rejection of the EU. This was more than a protest against the career opportunities that never knock and the affordable homes that never get built. It was a protest against the economic model that has been in place for the past three decades.

Extraordinary times are leading to extraordinary challenges. Linda Yueh, Fellow in Economics, Oxford University addresses these geopolitical challenges and demographic changes and how it will affect global economics and the asset management industry.

Modern humans have created many thousands of distinct cultures. So what will it mean if globalisation turns us into one giant, homogenous world culture?

The importance of the tribe in our evolutionary history has meant that natural selection has favoured in us a suite of psychological dispositions for making our cultures work and for defending them against competitors. These traits include cooperation, seeking affiliations, a predilection to coordinating our activities, and tendencies to trade and exchange goods and services. Thus, we have taken cooperation and sociality beyond the good relations among family members that dominate the rest of the animal kingdom, to making cooperation work among wider groups of people.

And so in a surprising turn, the very psychology that allows us to form and cooperate in small tribal groups, makes it possible for us to form into the larger social groupings of the modern world. Thus, early in our history most of us lived in small bands of maybe 50 to 200 people. At some point tribes formed that were essentially coalitions or bands of bands. Collections of tribes later formed into chiefdoms in which for the first time in our history a single ruler emerged.

But two factors looming on the horizon are likely to slow the rate at which cultural unification will happen.

One is resources, the other is demography. Cooperation has worked throughout history because large collections of people have been able to use resources more effectively and provide greater prosperity and protection than smaller groups. But that could change as resources become scarce.

This must be one of the most pressing social questions we can ask because if people begin to think they have reached what we might call ‘peak standard of living’ then they will naturally become more self-interested as the returns from cooperation begin to leak away. After all, why cooperate when there are no spoils to divide?

If we try to draw some conclusions from the ‘why’ we can see high levels of global employment and any form of prosperity will elude us and big reductions of poverty in the emerging world will not happen quickly enough.

Obviously, it is important to base these conclusions on where people are located and their individual views about the economies in which they live: how they see the problem, how they see their future, and whether the ambitions of different countries’ citizens can be advanced by stronger, more coordinated action around the world.

If you were to ask Americans what America has to do now to sort out its economy, some would say ‘cut deficits’; many would say ‘cut taxes’; but most would say ‘cut the foreign imports that are stealing our jobs’.

If you were to ask Europeans what their answer is, they would probably say ‘cut the debt’; and some might even complain about the very viability of the Euro and Brexit.

If you asked the Chinese what their solution was for their best future, they would probably answer that they are a developing country so other countries should stop threatening them with protectionism and complaining about their currency.

If you asked the developing world, they would call for an end to unfair trading practices that ruin their basic ability to export and say that aid is unfairly being cut or withheld.

If I asked the question a different way, asking the citizens ‘what do you really want to achieve as a country? I am sure that the answer would be very different.

In America people would say the main issue for them is jobs and rising living standards for the working middle class.

In the countries of the European Union people would say that Europe needs to get its young people into work and cut its high levels of unemployment.

In China people would say they want to see more personal prosperity and that means cutting the numbers of poor people and giving the rising middle class the opportunity to buy homes and access opportunities.

In many developing countries, people would tell you the problem was poverty.

Yet in the absence of a bigger vision of what can be achieved, the politics of each country inevitably pulls towards the narrow tasks and not the broad objectives.

So how can this wider debate contribute to global growth and collaboration?

Bradford DeLong once wrote: ‘History teaches us that when none of the three clear and present dangers that justify retrenchment and austerity – interest rate crowding-out, rising inflationary pressures on consumer prices, national overleverage via borrowing in foreign currencies – are present, you should not retrench’.

Yet in the absence of seeing a different and global route to greater prosperity, each country is trying, post-crisis, to return to its old ways. However, the security people crave will come not from countries clinging to an old world, but from reinventing themselves for our new interdependent world: Asia reducing poverty and building their new middle class; America and Europe exporting high-value-added goods by building a more skilled middle class; all undertaking structural reforms but in a growing economy.

This is the answer to those who travel today not with optimism but in fear. But there is no old world to return to: it has gone. The transition between epochs is always the moment of maximum danger. It is also the moment of maximum opportunity.

Final thought: against this backdrop the seemingly unstoppable and ever accelerating cultural homogenization around the world brought about by travel, the internet and social networking, although often decried, is probably a good thing even if it means the loss of cultural diversity: it increases our sense of togetherness via the sense of a shared culture. In fact, breaking down of cultural barriers – unfashionable as this can sound – is probably one of the few things that societies can do to increase harmony among ever more heterogeneous peoples.

So, to my mind, there is little doubt that the next century is going to be a time of great uncertainty and upheaval as resources, money and space become ever more scarce. It is going to be a bumpy road with many setbacks and conflicts. But if there was ever a species that could tackle these challenges it is our own.

It might be surprising, but our genes, in the form of our capacity for culture, have created in us a machine capable of greater cooperation, inventiveness and common good than any other on Earth.

And, of course it means you can always find a cappuccino just the way you like it no matter where we wake up.

As Herbie Hancock once said:

“Globalization means we have to re-examine some of our ideas, and look at ideas from other countries, from other cultures, and open ourselves to them. And that’s not comfortable for the average person.”