In praise of speed, or not, as the case may be?


In the last 150 years, however, the human relationship with time has radically changed. Some say the problems started earlier, with the development of agriculture or writing, but it was really the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the Machine that put humans in thrall to mechanical processes and machine time. And the recent exponential speeding up into Cybertime has accelerated the process still further. Industrial time was bad enough but Cybertime is changing the force of game play.

And that’s how many modern people feel completely frazzled and out of synch with our deepest selves.

The results of this disconnection from nature and nature’s pace show up in therapists’ and doctors’ offices every day. Living under unnatural time pressures causes a myriad of psychological, social and physical ailments. Delinked from the natural rhythms of our bodies and the rest of the planet, we struggle with diminishing success to adapt to the strange mechanical and disembodied world we have created.

It all underscores a vital point: While our world has always experienced change, the rate of change is speeding up. Many historians, sociologists and journalists have expressed concern in recent years about the rapid change in our society. They tell us that today’s world is changing at an accelerated rate, unlike anything past generations witnessed.

Do you feel bombarded with change from every direction? Do you feel stressed, overworked, with too little time to appreciate and enjoy life? Do you find it difficult to keep up with everything you need to do? If so, you’re not alone. Our rapidly changing world is rapidly stressing us out. What can you do to cope?

One of my favourite books on the subject is called In Praise of Slowness, by Carl Honoré. Tthe book dissects our speed-obsessed society and celebrates those who have gotten in touch with their “inner tortoise.” Honore’s bestselling book plots the lineage of our speed-obsessed society; while it recognises the difficulty of slowing down, it also highlights the successes of everyday people around the world who have found ways of doing it. A must read for people who can make the time!

The Slow Movement aims to address the issue of ‘time poverty’ through making connections. If we think about the following trends. Buddhism is the fastest growing religion in the world today. People are turning to organic food in droves. Schools are in turmoil.

How slow can you go? Home schooling is becoming commonplace. People are downshifting.

Stress is leading to unprecedented health problems. “Stop the world, I want to get off” is a feeling we all have sometimes.

Why is this happening? What is wrong? What are we searching for? The one thing that is common to all these trends is connection. We are searching for connection. We want connection to business, our people – ourselves, our family, our community, our friends, – to food, to home, and to life. We want connection to all that it means to live – we want to live a connected life.

This desire for connectedness is not new. Traditionally, in times past, our lives were connected. Most traditional cultures still have these connections. Cultures with connection, these people are connected to their culture, to people, to home and to their lives.

Speedy-Summer-Business-700x360 (1)Our fast paced life has weakened these connections. Technological advances have meant that the work we do is different from work in the past and it is less connected to living and life than it has been in the past.

Technological advances have resulted in labour saving devices for the home. Who would complain about vacuum cleaners, electric stoves, hot water systems, flush toilet, or the bread maker, but have these technologies really given us more time to enjoy life as was their claim? Or have we used this time to become even more busy. We are engaged in constant fast-forward motion whereby we are often overscheduled, stressed and rushing towards the next task. This rushing is not restricted to our work environment. We rush our food, our family time and even our relationships, not to mention recreation.

In summary, the ideal balance is to be moderately motivated to work towards your goals but not so much as to breed workaholism, moderately positive when we look back on our lives, we have a generally positive outlook, and that we take time out for friends, family and fun.

The problem occurs when we support an over-reliance on technology, to constantly checking email and social networks, and being distracted by alerts on our mobile devices, this can take us out of both the past and the future, and into a state of heightened compulsion in which we are constantly focused on what is either right in front of us or coming immediately afterwards.

With technology we are simply being in that moment to take the next action. It is really minimising the quality of our life. It is minimising the joy that we should to be getting from everyday life.

Neil Postman once said:

“I don’t think any of us can do much about the rapid growth of new technology. A new technology helps to fuel the economy, and any discussion of slowing its growth has to take account of economic consequences. However, it is possible for us to learn how to control our own uses of technology.”

Do we truly understand our individuality and character?

thYLS0WE4XA very good friend of mine is a newly published author, he has written very passionately on and around the subject of the human character or as he describes 100% character, when speaking with him, energetically he informs me that your character is not just your signature strength but the traits that your character forms are so much more, my intrigue at this point just became incredibly engaging, our discussion continued, imagine your wisdom and knowledge combined with courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. Whilst I have written about these subjects on their own individual merits, I felt an absolute need to investigate further and write this blog.

The facts…..the dictionary defines character as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” Another says it is “the complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person.” In still another dictionary, character is said to be “the stable and distinctive qualities built into an individual’s life which determine his or her response regardless of circumstances.”

Character is important in both your business and everyday activities. It consists of a set of behavior traits or way to you conduct yourself. Your behavior or conduct then determines how other people judge your character or the type of person you are.

When you have good or positive character, you act in a manner that is honorable, courageous, compassionate and ethical. It results in being viewed with respect, overcoming the difficult and feeling good about yourself. This increases your esteem and self-respect, as well as allows you to prosper. A bad reputation can even affect your confidence and relationship with others.

Having good character is important to us all in maintaining a good position in society and a favorable opinion of yourself. Having poor character affects whether others want to deal with you or your business.

Character is a pattern of behavior, thoughts and feelings based on universal principles, moral strength, and integrity – plus the guts to live by those principles every day. Character is evidenced by your life’s virtues and the “line you never cross.” Character is the most valuable thing you have, and nobody can ever take it away.

Whether we are able to name our signature strengths or not, we are naturally motivated to use our greatest assets. The Seligman and Peterson research shows that when using your strengths, you can expect to experience:

Increased happiness at home and at work.
A sense of ownership and authenticity while using the strength.
A rapid learning curve when using the strength.

Your top strengths, typically your top five, are considered your signature strengths. Nurturing your strengths is shown to be both energising and satisfying. Nurturing your strengths is linked to increased happiness.

Kindness: Visit someone in the hospital or a nursing home.

Fairness: Encourage everyone’s participation in a discussion or activity including those who may feel left out.

Honesty/Authenticity: Consider whether the actions you take over the next week match the words you use.

Gratitude: Express your gratitude without using the words thank you.

Open-Mindedness: Play the devil’s advocate by defending a position opposite from your own opinion.

Character image

Why Character is Important

Character in life is what makes people believe in you and is essential both for individual success and for our society to function successfully. Each individual must do his or her part every day by living a life of integrity.

Integrity is adhering to a moral code of honesty, courage, strength and truthfulness – being true to your word. When you do not exhibit integrity, other people get hurt. But you hurt yourself even more.

When you cheat, your “success” is false. When you break a promise, you are showing that your word is meaningless. When you lie, you deceive others and lose their respect.

All of those examples destroy your reputation and break the trust others have in you. Without your good reputation and trustworthiness, your relationships fail.

Relationships and Success

Relationships are the foundation for success in life.

For example, when you destroy the relationships with your friends, you will have no friends. You will be isolated and alone.

If a student promises not to cheat, but does, he is taking unfair advantage to put himself ahead of others without deserving it. He can ruin his reputation, his academic record and his job prospects forever.

When a businessman makes a promise to customers and doesn’t deliver, he destroys his relationships with his customers. His customers go elsewhere and his business fails.

By breaking your relationships, you break the foundation for success in your life. What is true success? For example, who is more successful? Someone who is famous and makes a great deal of money, or someone who has no fame, makes little money, but is a great parent? Today, in school, is too much emphasis being placed on “good grades” and “high test scores” – so much so that are these things, rather than good character, how we define success?


Your good character is the most important asset you have. It takes a lifetime to build but can be lost in an instant. Once lost, it is difficult to regain. Your true character is revealed when no one else is looking. Often, people decide to act based on short term gain, or an easy fix to a problem and end up doing the wrong thing.

The old adage “you are what you do” is true. Failure to consider the long term consequences of your acts can be disastrous. By study and focusing on the importance of character, you will be guided by principles, moral strength, and integrity to do the right thing. Nothing is more important for true success in your life.

In summary, I guess we need to start asking ourselves some deep questions:

Is our character influencing others for good and helping them build their own power and strength?
Are we doing our part to be a man of character and infuse our culture and nation with vitality?
What grooves and lines are you engraving upon your character each and every day?

Character is our legacy – what will yours be?

Abraham Lincoln said:

“Reputation is the shadow. Character is the tree.”

Our character is much more than just what we try to display for others to see, it is who we are even when no one is watching. Good character is doing the right thing because it is right to do what is right.

No Concern, No Timeline, No Passion

NoConcernI recently had a conversation with an associate of mine in the US across ‘no concern on timeline in the business environment’. As you can imagine the conversation turned into a heated debate and we lead the discussion to ‘where is the driver of Passion’ in the business environment.

Knowing where your professional passions lie puts “you in a good position,” says Dorie Clark, the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future. Lots of people don’t know what they want to do. “They’re struggling because they know they’re not happy doing what they’re doing, but they don’t know what else is out there.” An idea is certainly a promising start, but executing it while holding down a busy full-time job is undoubtedly a challenge. “You’ve nailed the one percent inspiration, now it’s time for the 99% perspiration,” says Daniel Gulati, the coauthor of Passion & Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders.

So exactly why are people so unhappy in the workplace, why is there so much no concern’, well, lets start with business decisions.

If everyone in a company made ordinary business decisions in a commonsense way, a company could be unstoppable. It turns out that very few people, in companies or anywhere else, make ordinary business decisions in a commonsense way. Most companies don’t fail for lack of talent or strategic vision. They fail for lack of execution—the mundane blocking and tackling that the great companies consistently do well and strive to do better.

So what happened to daily, tiny miracles and emotional intelligence driven by leadership.
Senior management cannot manage without a thorough mastery of the details of its business. To my knowledge, no CEO can claim to be in charge of the organisation unless within nano-seconds and I mean this literally, can a CEO answer the following questions:

  • What are the company’s revenues per employee?
  • How do the figures compare with the competition’s?
  • What are the revenue-per-employee figures for each of the company’s leading product lines?
  • What explains recent trends in each line?
  • What is the average outgoing quality level in each product line? How many orders are delinquent?
  • Which of the company’s top 20 executives are standouts, which are low performers, and why?
  • Which departments could recover from a major competitive shock, and which are vulnerable to change?
  • What are the yields, costs, and cycle times at every manufacturing operation?
  • What explains the company’s stock market valuation relative to its competitors’?

Could this be a formula for “micromanagement” by the CEO…..? Will top executives get lost in the details and lose sight of broader strategic imperatives? Being in command of detail does not mean interfering where you don’t belong. Collecting information, reviewing it regularly, and sharing it widely allows you to practice management by exception in the truest sense. So long as you stick to  strategy and process.

Great people alone do not guarantee corporate success but no company can succeed without them. Sounds like a truism, right? Yet how many companies are as scientific about hiring as they are about designing new products or perfecting the latest market-research techniques? Hiring is one of the most bureaucratic, passive, and arbitrary parts of corporate life.

Most companies, and certainly most big companies, do just the opposite. Managers sit behind their desks and wait for personnel to parade candidates through their office. Of course, personnel is never as motivated as the hiring manager is to fill an open slot. As the hiring schedule falls behind, the manager grows increasingly desperate and makes an offer to the first warm body that meets rudimentary requirements. This approach guarantees that the quality of the company’s work force will nicely (and disastrously) mirror the quality of the available talent market. The organisation drifts toward average.

Middle managers can be an organisation’s most enduring strength. They are more aware of the company’s day-to-day business realities than any other group, and they are earnest, committed, and creative. Middle managers can also cause companies to grow fat and being non-competitive, not because they can not do their jobs, but because they think their jobs are the most important in the world and thus lose sight of the broader corporate imperative. In organisations that suffer from this disease (and it afflicts the majority of large companies), middle managers clamor for resources while top managers are chartered to hold the line. Usually, top managers are forced to cave in because middle managers can call on so much more information and functional expertise. How can a senior executive turn down a request for resources (people, equipment, expenses) when a well-respected middle manager makes a plausible argument that the department will unravel without them, probably taking the company with it?

The moment senior executives buy into the tunnel vision of their middle managers, they really have lost control of the company. If that happens, it’s not the middle managers’ fault; they’re simply delivering their tasks as they understand them.

There are many issues to tackle in the organisation to reignite Passion’ and effect Organisational Behaviour’ some of these issues can be addressed at a local level of operation, but experience stated that it is better to effect transformation and change from the top down and bottom to maximise true effectiveness, especially when you are effecting; attitude, personal sensitivities, and culture.

Culture is one of the most important factors that affects how executives organise themselves internally and to the external world. Some cultures emphasise the individual while others stress the group.
Finally, the real question is to know if the the anticipated change will impact culture or if the result is the culture.
Changing corporate culture is changing people, make them adopt new individual and collective values.
Changing the system is making some behaviors logical, accepted, coherent in the workplace.

Can we preserve Strategy and Culture in the new Digital Economy?

5-digital-interview-tipsDespite growing acknowledgment of the need for digital transformation, most companies struggle to get clear business benefits from new digital technologies. They lack both the management temperament and relevant experience to know how to effectively drive transformation through technology.


Even companies where leadership has demonstrated it can effectively leverage technology can run into challenges with new digital technologies. Today’s emerging technologies, like social media, mobile, analytics and embedded devices, demand different mind-sets and skill sets than previous waves of transformative technology.

There is no one factor that impedes digital transformation. Lack of vision or sense of urgency plagued many companies, culture at others, and organisational constraints problems at still others.
Too often a company’s strategy, imposed from above, is at odds with the ingrained practices and attitudes of its culture. Executives may underestimate how much a strategy’s effectiveness depends on cultural alignment.

A strategy that is at odds with a company’s culture is doomed. Culture trumps strategy every time.

Some corporate leaders struggle with cultural intransigence for years, without ever fully focusing on the question: Why do we want to change our culture? They don’t clearly connect their desired culture with their strategy and business objectives. Many times when I have been asked to review a dysfunctional board or company operations, we reviewed issues in attitude for cultural traits: non-collaborative teams and communications, no-innovation, lack of risk taking, unfocused on quality, and more.

When choosing priorities, it often helps to conduct a series of discussions with thoughtful people at different levels throughout your company to learn what behaviors are most affected by the current culture—both positively and negatively.

It is always tempting to dwell on the negative traits of your culture, but any corporate culture is a product of good intentions that evolved in unexpected ways and will have many strengths. If you can find ways to demonstrate the relevance of the original values and share stories that illustrate why people believe in them, they can still serve your company well. Acknowledging the existing culture’s assets will also make major change feel less like a top-down imposition and more like a shared evolution.


One of the best-known, and yet most misunderstood, examples of cultural backsliding took place at the Arthur Andersen accounting firm.

With practices in more than 30 countries, it was once the envy of professional service firms. Then in 2002 indictments during the Enron investigation forced Andersen into bankruptcy. At the time, many believed that a single client relationship had brought the firm down for largely legal or regulatory reasons. In fact, its fall stemmed from declining cultural erosion that had begun decades before the Enron debacle.

At least that was the conclusion of analyst and journalist Charles Ellis, who studied the Andersen failure in depth and described it in an unpublished manuscript, “What It Takes”. “Arthur Andersen, once the world’s most admired auditing and professional services firm, descended through level after level of self-destructive decline to its ultimate death,” he says. Ellis traces the firm’s decline to the 1950s, when its leaders shifted their focus from quality and integrity to beating other firms’ revenue numbers and market position.

As Andersen expanded around the world, it abandoned practices geared toward professional excellence, such as a rule that all accountants had to spend two years in auditing and the use of a global profit pool that ensured that all partners had a stake in one another’s success. Each new measure, while defensible, made it a little easier to compromise the firm’s values. The cultural deterioration also made it easier to ignore many warning signs, including the 1973 bankruptcy of Four Seasons Nursing Centers of America, in which the founder pleaded guilty to securities fraud and Andersen, as the auditor, was indicted. By the time Enron became a key client in the late 1990s and insisted on using only individual accountants and auditors who accepted its questionable practices, the accounting firm’s professional culture had already declined past the point of no return. A few modest interventions might have preserved the firm’s commitment to integrity and avoided a very public and embarrassing demise.

All too often, leaders see cultural initiatives as a last resort, except for top-down exhortations to change. By the time they get around to culture, they’re convinced that a comprehensive overhaul of the culture is the only way to overcome the company’s resistance to major change. Culture thus becomes an excuse and a diversion, rather than an accelerator and an energizer.
But cultural intervention can and should be an early priority—a way to clarify what your company is capable of, even as you refine your strategy. Targeted and integrated cultural interventions, designed around changing a few critical behaviours at a time, can also energize and engage your most talented people and enable them to collaborate more effectively and efficiently.
Coherence among your culture, your strategic intent, and your performance priorities can make your whole organization more attractive to both employees and customers. Because deeply embedded cultures change slowly over time, working with and within the culture you have invariably is the best approach. The overall change effort will be far less jarring for all concerned. Simply put, rather than attacking the heart of your company, you will be making the most of its positive forces as your culture evolves in the right way.

Before you can change the company culture, you have to decide what you want the company culture to look like in the future. Different companies in different industries will have different cultures. Look at what kind of a culture will work best for your organization in its desired future state. Review your mission, vision and values and make sure the company culture you are designing supports them.
Here are some characteristics of company cultures that others have used successfully. Decide which work for your company and implement them.

§  Mission clarity
§  Employee commitment
§  Fully empowered employees
§  High integrity workplace
§  Strong trust relationships
§  Highly effective leadership
§  Effective systems and processes
§  Performance-based compensation and reward programs
§  Customer-focused
§  Effective 360-degree communications
§  Commitment to learning and skill development
§  Emphasis on recruiting and retaining outstanding employees
§  High degree of adaptability
§  High accountability standards
§  Demonstrated support for innovation

In summary, if you are an executive leading a company looking at these technologies, you need to lead the technology — do not let it lead you. You will want to think about, how is your company going to be different and implement a framework, so that you are not just buying technology, you are actually pushing your company forward in a different way, because the technology is taking you, your company and your culture into the digital economy.

Henna Inman once said:

“Authentic leaders inspire us to engage with each other in powerful dreams that make the impossible possible. We are called on to persevere despite failure and pursue a purpose beyond the pay check. This is at the core of innovation. It requires aligning the dreams of each individual to the broader dream of the organisation.”

So exactly what is the Gig Economy


Recently I had a coffee meeting with a good friend and associate, reminiscing over our cappuccino’s we decided to talk about the UK economy, politics and 2016, when Zaur said ‘so what exactly do you know about the Gig Economy’ my first reaction was to smile and say ‘the gig economy’ the word gig has many connotations particularly in the US, people relate to the word gig with statements like so how’s your latest gig, you can think of music, employment and many other subjects.

With all of these new economies in our every day life, exactly what is the Gig Economy?

Broadly speaking the gig economy is an online platform which connects people who have space to spare in their daily life with skills and competencies with those looking for a short stay at a competitive price. Services such as these, along with Uber, are driving the ‘gig economy’. Their platform enables people to become freelance service providers without the inspections and legal oversight that traditional lodging and cab industries are subject to.

Today, more and more of us choose, instead, to make our living working gigs rather than full time. To the optimists, it promises a future of empowered entrepreneurs and boundless innovation. To the naysayers, it portends a dystopian future of disenfranchised workers hunting for their next wedge of piecework.

Today’s digitally enabled gig economy was preceded by marketplaces such as ELance and oDesk, through which computer programmers and designers could make a living competing for short-term work assignments. But the gig economy isn’t just creating a new digital channel for freelance work. It is spawning a host of new economic activity. More than a million “makers” sell jewellery, clothing and accessories through the online marketplace Etsy. The short-term accommodation platforms Airbnb, Love Home Swap and onefinestay collectively have close to a million ‘hosts’.

This explosion of small-scale entrepreneurship might make one wonder whether we are returning to the economy of the 18th century, described by the economist Adam Smith in his book “An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”. The economy Smith described was a genuine market economy of individuals engaging in commerce with one another.
The gig economy has lots of positives but it is undermining the traditional employer-employee relationships that have been the primary channel through which worker benefits and protections have been provided.

Unless government act, employment will continue to drift toward a two-tier employment market. One tier will be populated by fully employed high-skill workers with generous employer-provided (and tax-advantaged) benefits, as well as high-skill individuals who finance their own benefits from high incomes earned as independent contractors or from self-employment. The other tier will include a large pool of contingent middle- and low-skill workers without the benefits, income, or security on which a robust and resilient middle class depends.

New policies are needed to provide workers in contingent employment relationships access to benefits, and new institutions are needed to deliver them. There is growing support for the view that benefits should satisfy at least three conditions. They should be portable, attached to individual workers rather than to their employers. They should be universal, applying to all workers and all forms of employment. And they should be pro-rated, linking employer benefit contributions to time worked, jobs completed, or income earned.

There is a lot of potential in the new world of work. The McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of the management consultancy, estimates that what it calls “online talent platforms”, job sites such as and platforms such as Uber, could add 2 per cent to global gross domestic product by 2025, increasing employment by 72m full-time equivalents.

The UK has added 1.4m “micro-firms”, those with between zero and nine employees, since 2000. The Freelancers Union, a US employee group, estimates that 53m Americans now freelance in some form, including 21m independent contractors. Some 82 per cent of millennials believe that the best days for freelancers lie ahead.

The ideal working life for many millennials is not finding a safe job that will last them a lifetime but creating a technology start-up, a glamorous form of small business that is backed by angel investors. They dream of being Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook or Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, not an executive of a professional services firm or public company.

The new world of work must chart a course between the twin dangers of corporate conformism and worker exploitation

The dream can be just that; the average income from self-employment fell 22 per cent in the UK between 2009 and 2014, even as self-employment contributed 732,000 of the 1.1m rise in total employment. The rewards of new forms of employment contract accrue to a minority, while others lose out.

So the facts and more importantly the trends are showing the number of gig’s within the economy will only increase.  The changing generational workforce is a major factor of the growing gig economy.  Through technology, other types of work in the gig economy, such as driving for Uber, or listing a rental on Airbnb, has brought offline activity to online.  As the old concepts of work are being challenged, the gig and freelance economy is being viewed as a legitimate option to participate in, and build a career.

The bigger sentiment is how this will effect business culture, values and community behaviour, as Jeff Weiner once said:

“You have to maintain a culture of transformation and stay true to your values.”