10 books that have influenced my life

Reading has a way of making an impact on our lives and changing the way we think, observe and ultimately influences our decisions. I reminisce beautiful moments that I would spend with my Grandfather whilst he would be reading and hoping I would sit with a book he had particularly chosen for me to enjoy the sunny afternoon in the New Forrest rather than be the inquisitive Grandson, asking him about every chapter of my Grandfathers book. 😊

When I discovered reading and the journeys it took me on, I consumed books day and night. Despite the lights out rule that applied at 7.30pm every night and the threat of grandparental disapproval, I continued to read under the covers with my bedside lamp at my elbow.

The quote by Alex Haley, ‘Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children. Is so true. If you have ever turned to your Grandparents you will know how wonderful grandparents can be. I will never forget the special moments of reading and learning with my Grandfather and Grandmother.

I have been reading a lot recently. There are so many books that touch and influence my life. They have not only influenced me but instigated a lot of positive difference in my life. I believe if they can drive so much difference in my life, they will do the same to you. Some of these books unearth philosophies, drive innovation, creativity, spirituality and could be beneficial to your personal and career growth.

You do not need to head for the contemporary Best Sellers shelf for an excellent read. I have always taken the stance looking for acknowledged classics within the literary canon is a near certain way to find books which deserve to be on your bookshelf.
Reading, learning and consuming information and ideas is now a big part of my destiny and purpose. Some books change you more than others. My rule of thumb is that if I get one good idea, it is one book worth reading.

This tactic has worked well for me over the years, and the following 10 books are from my collection. All make for excellent reading and for different reasons, and I consider each one to be a classic worthy of anyone’s time. If you love reading, or want to take it up, these are all perfect books for current new insights and inspiration.

1. How To Fly a Horse – Kevin Ashton

As a technology pioneer at MIT and as the leader of three successful start-ups, Kevin Ashton experienced firsthand the all-consuming challenge of creating something new. Now, in a tour-de-force narrative twenty years in the making, Ashton leads us on a journey through humanity’s greatest creations to uncover the surprising truth behind who creates and how they do it. From the crystallographer’s laboratory where the secrets of DNA were first revealed by a long forgotten woman, to the electromagnetic chamber where the stealth bomber was born on a twenty-five-cent bet, to the Ohio bicycle shop where the Wright brothers set out to “fly a horse,” Ashton showcases the seemingly unremarkable individuals, gradual steps, multiple failures, and countless ordinary and usually uncredited acts that lead to our most astounding breakthroughs.
Creators, he shows, apply in particular ways the everyday, ordinary thinking of which we are all capable, taking thousands of small steps and working in an endless loop of problem and solution. He examines why innovators meet resistance and how they overcome it, why most organizations stifle creative people, and how the most creative organizations work. Drawing on examples from art, science, business, and invention, from Mozart to the Muppets, Archimedes to Apple, Kandinsky to a can of Coke, How to Fly a Horse is a passionate and immensely rewarding exploration of how “new” comes to be.

2. The Innovators – Walter Isaacson

Following his blockbuster biography of Steve Jobs, The Innovators is Walter Isaacson’s story of the people who created the computer and the Internet. It is destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution and a guide to how innovation really works.
What talents allowed certain inventors and entrepreneurs to turn their disruptive ideas into realities? What led to their creative leaps? Why did some succeed and others fail?
In his exciting saga, Isaacson begins with Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s. He then explores the fascinating personalities that created our current digital revolution, such as Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Robert Noyce, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee and Larry Page.
This is the story of how their minds worked and what made them so creative. It’s also a narrative of how their ability to collaborate and master the art of teamwork made them even more creative.
For an era that seeks to foster innovation, creativity and teamwork, this book shows how they actually happen.

3. Creativity Inc – Ed Catmull

As a young man, Ed Catmull had a dream: to make the world’s first computer-animated movie. He nurtured that dream first as a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah, where many computer science pioneers got their start, and then forged an early partnership with George Lucas that led, indirectly, to his founding Pixar with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter in 1986. Nine years later and against all odds, Toy Story was released, changing animation forever.
Since then, Pixar has dominated the world of animation, producing such beloved films as Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, and WALL-E, which have gone on to set box-office records and garner twenty-seven Academy Awards. The joyousness of the storytelling, the inventive plots, the emotional authenticity: In some ways, Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is. Now, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques, honed over years, that have made Pixar so widely admired―and so profitable.
Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation Studios―into the story meetings, the postmortems, and the ‘Braintrust’ sessions where art is born. It is, at heart, a book about how to build and sustain a creative culture―but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, ‘an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.’

4. Creative Confidence – Tom & David Kelley

IDEO founder and Stanford d.school creator David Kelley and his brother Tom Kelley, IDEO partner and the author of the bestselling The Art of Innovation, have written a powerful and compelling book on unleashing the creativity that lies within each and every one of us.
Too often, companies and individuals assume that creativity and innovation are the domain of the “creative types.” But two of the leading experts in innovation, design, and creativity on the planet show us that each and every one of us is creative. In an incredibly entertaining and inspiring narrative that draws on countless stories from their work at IDEO, the Stanford d.school, and with many of the world’s top companies, David and Tom Kelley identify the principles and strategies that will allow us to tap into our creative potential in our work lives, and in our personal lives, and allow us to innovate in terms of how we approach and solve problems. It is a book that will help each of us be more productive and successful in our lives and in our careers.”

5. The Organised Mind – Daniel J. Levitin

New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin shifts his keen insights from your brain on music to your brain in a sea of details.
The information age is drowning us with an unprecedented deluge of data. At the same time, we’re expected to make more–and faster–decisions about our lives than ever before. No wonder, then, that the average American reports frequently losing car keys or reading glasses, missing appointments, and feeling worn out by the effort required just to keep up.
But somehow some people become quite accomplished at managing information flow. In The Organized Mind, Daniel J. Levitin, PhD, uses the latest brain science to demonstrate how those people excel–and how readers can use their methods to regain a sense of mastery over the way they organize their homes, workplaces, and time.
With lively, entertaining chapters on everything from the kitchen junk drawer to health care to executive office workflow, Levitin reveals how new research into the cognitive neuroscience of attention and memory can be applied to the challenges of our daily lives. This Is Your Brain on Music showed how to better play and appreciate music through an understanding of how the brain works. The Organized Mind shows how to navigate the churning flood of information in the twenty-first century with the same neuroscientific perspective.

6. Animal Speak – Ted Andrews

Ted Andrews is best known for his work with animal mysticism and for his bestselling Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small. Certified in basic hypnosis and acupressure, Andrews was also involved in the study and use of herbs as an alternative path in health care, focusing strongly on esoteric forms of healing with sound, music, and voice. In addition to his interest in metaphysics, Ted was a trained pianist and often used the Celtic harp, bamboo flute, shaman rattles, Tibetan bells, Tibetan Singing Bowl, and quartz crystal bowls to create individual healing therapies and induce higher states of consciousness.
The animal world has much to teach us. Some animals are experts at survival and adaptation, some never get cancer, some embody strength and courage while others exude playfulness. Animals remind us of the potential we can unfold, but before we can learn from them, we must must first be able to speak with them.

7. In The Praise of Slowness – Carl Honore

We live in the age of speed. We strain to be more efficient, to cram more into each minute, each hour, each day. Since the Industrial Revolution shifted the world into high gear, the cult of speed has pushed us to a breaking point. Consider these facts: Americans on average spend seventy-two minutes of every day behind the wheel of a car, a typical business executive now loses sixty-eight hours a year to being put on hold, and American adults currently devote on average a mere half hour per week to making love.
Living on the edge of exhaustion, we are constantly reminded by our bodies and minds that the pace of life is spinning out of control. In Praise of Slowness traces the history of our increasingly breathless relationship with time and tackles the consequences of living in this accelerated culture of our own creation. Why are we always in such a rush? What is the cure for time sickness? Is it possible, or even desirable, to slow down? Realizing the price we pay for unrelenting speed, people all over the world are reclaiming their time and slowing down the pace — and living happier, healthier, and more productive lives as a result. A Slow revolution is taking place.
Here you will find no Luddite calls to overthrow technology and seek a preindustrial utopia. This is a modern revolution, championed by cell-phone using, e-mailing lovers of sanity. The Slow philosophy can be summed up in a single word — balance. People are discovering energy and efficiency where they may have been least expected — in slowing down.
In this engaging and entertaining exploration, award-winning journalist and rehabilitated speedaholic Carl Honore details our perennial love affair with efficiency and speed in a perfect blend of anecdotal reportage, history, and intellectual inquiry. In Praise of Slowness is the first comprehensive look at the worldwide Slow movements making their way into the mainstream — in offices, factories, neighborhoods, kitchens, hospitals, concert halls, bedrooms, gyms, and schools. Defining a movement that is here to stay, this spirited manifesto will make you completely rethink your relationship with time.

8. When Pride Still Mattered – David Maraniss

In this groundbreaking biography, David Maraniss captures all of football great Vince Lombardi: the myth, the man, his game, and his God.
More than any other sports figure, Vince Lombardi transformed football into a metaphor of the American experience. The son of an Italian immigrant butcher, Lombardi toiled for twenty frustrating years as a high school coach and then as an assistant at Fordham, West Point, and the New York Giants before his big break came at age forty-six with the chance to coach a struggling team in snowbound Wisconsin. His leadership of the Green Bay Packers to five world championships in nine seasons is the most storied period in NFL history. Lombardi became a living legend, a symbol to many of leadership, discipline, perseverance, and teamwork, and to others of an obsession with winning. In When Pride Still Mattered, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss captures the myth and the man, football, God, and country in a thrilling biography destined to become an American classic.

9. More Human – Steve Hilton

Government, business, the lives we lead, the food we eat, the way our children are brought up, the way we relate to the natural world around us – it’s all become too big and distant and industrialised. Inhuman. It’s time to do something about it. It’s time to put people first. It’s time to make the world more human.
Steve Hilton, visiting professor at Stanford University and former senior adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, believes that the frustrations people have with government, politics, their economic circumstances and their daily lives are caused by deep structural problems in the systems that dominate our modern world – systems that are broken because they’ve grown too far from the human scale. He shows us how change is possible, offering the latest research, compelling stories and case studies from all over the world across industry, politics, education, design and social action to show us what can happen when we make our world more human. This book is a manifesto and call to action for a more local, more accountable and more human way of living that will make us more productive, more fulfilled and ultimately happier.

10. Daily Rituals – Mason Currey

The working methods presented in Daily Rituals are so diverse as to offer no easy formulas (or what are now known as “productivity hacks”). It’s a string of lifestyles that are often eccentric, but always human. If we want to emulate Franz Kafka or Jane Austen should we copy their routines or find the routines that are right for us, which is to say the routines that are us? Isaac Asimov had an impressive schedule, but he credited it not to self-discipline but to his father’s sweet shop, in which he assisted as a child, which would open at 6am and then not close until 1am. “You’re who you are,” advises Bernard Malamud. “Not Fitzgerald or Thomas Wolfe.”
For most of us, our routines are imposed from the outside. They come from our employer or our family circumstances. They are the structure we rail against, the cage we dream of escaping. But is escape really so simple as just waking up each morning with no plans? Isn’t that just as terrifying? Or is freedom simply being able to reinvent your life around the work that you do, if that is also the thing you enjoy. “It’s not my work,” objects Stephen Jay Gould, quoted in his Daily Rituals entry. “It’s my life. It’s what I do. It’s what I like to do.”

Reading, learning and consuming information and ideas is now a big part of my destiny and purpose. Some books change you more than others, this is why I wrote “Freedom after the Sharks”, and more recently: “Meaningful Conversations”.

These 10 books were key to helping me change my life. I rediscovered hope for my future. I found my courage, strength, and my self-belief. I hope that by reading these books, you will find the same inspiration and motivation to take up the challenge and change your life.

Let us remember this great quote by Malala Yousafzai:

“One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.”

The Truth about Writing

I read a really interesting quote by the famous Ray Bradbury recently – it said: “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.” Ray was an American fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer, I have followed some of his work and, as with Woody Allen, one compelling fact is that they both shared tremendous passion for reading and writing, Woody Allen once said: “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time, if you have imagination”.

When I decided to become a writer and made the commitment to write “Freedom after the sharks” and then “Meaningful conversations”, every single day, was not a working day, it was the one factor of writing that kept me awake for the next 1000 words.

Sometimes I would not sleep, try to sleep and then wake up again, I would surface, get up early, make my exceptionally strong coffee, and sit down to write, I was incredibly fortunate the words just flowed in abundance.

When writing “Freedom after the sharks”, I was fortunate to be in one of the most spectacular destinations in the world, Sedona, Arizona – I compare Sedona with the Hawaiian Islands and even remote places of inspiration like Deia in the Spanish Island of Majorca, a remote and inspired destination where you can look out to mountains, space and feel the creative imagination flow.

“Meaningful conversations” was born in Eugene, Oregon on a beautiful May afternoon with my business partner and associate with his wife – we were discussing some of the problems of leadership in business today, whilst drinking a fine glass of Oregon Pinot Noir, watching the sunset over the Jasper Mountains and Mark expressed how he enjoyed ‘Meaningful Conversations’ across leadership.

I only ever had one point of writer’s block to date, and this was with “Freedom after the sharks”: it was with chapter 13 of the non-edited version, which finally made itself to becoming the epilogue in the book. Writing has a funny way of making you confront your fears, anxieties and only focus on your heart and the truth.

I have learnt through this experience that choosing a wrong point of view to avoid “the truth”. Perhaps you are writing from someone else’s point of view and not your point of view, which is generally why readers will purchase your book. Writers who uphold someone else’s version of a story rather than their own will find the unconscious hesitate if the flow of words and content. If you are blocked or you come to a stop, ask yourself. “Am I writing from my point of view?” Sometimes coming to that realisation can be enough to help your writing to flow once again, being true to yourself is being truthful to your readership, because it is from the heart.

Writing about something unimportant to you. Sometimes “writer’s block” is the way your unconscious has of telling you you are not writing about something important enough. Sometimes the writing flow is waiting for you to come up with a more substantive idea, your unconscious really does have a way to push your imagination, breaking new or better grounds to accomplish an idea that will command your loyalty. If you feel blocked, explore your current topic: does it warrant the time you are putting into writing it? Sticking to a topic of secondary importance is not conducive to good writing. It doesn’t command your loyalty.

We all love a great story. Whether we read or write or both, great stories can take us on emotional journeys of excitement, anger, love, despair and can live on for centuries. For thousands of year’s people have been moved by storytelling told around campfires, at bedsides, in theatres, in public squares… and today on Medium, Pulse, Thrive Global, WordPress, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, and books are sold in the Million’s everyday via Amazon, Barnes and Noble (Nook), Waterstones, Googleplay and iTunes etc.

The way the story is structured does not really matter; what does matter is the power of the story, how the story engages and connects with its readership.

Tell the right story the right way and you can illustrate even the most complex issue into one that is engaging and easy to understand and one that unlocks the mind’ creativity and imagination.

One of my hero’s in writing is Joseph Campbell – he explores the theory that important myths from around the world which have survived for thousands of years all share a fundamental structure, which Campbell called the monomyth. In a well-known quote from the introduction of his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, Campbell summarised the monomyth:

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

In laying out the monomyth, Campbell describes a number of stages or steps along this journey. The hero starts in the ordinary world, and receives a call to enter an unusual world of strange powers and events (a call to adventure). If the hero accepts the call to enter this strange world, the hero must face tasks and trials (a road of trials), and may have to face these trials alone, or may have assistance. At its most intense, the hero must survive a severe challenge, often with help earned along the journey. If the hero survives, the hero may achieve a great gift (the goal or “boon”), which often results in the discovery of important self-knowledge. The hero must then decide whether to return with this boon (the return to the ordinary world), often facing challenges on the return journey. If the hero is successful in returning, the boon or gift may be used to improve the world (the application of the boon).

Very few myths contain all of these stages—some myths contain many of the stages, while others contain only a few; some myths may have as a focus only one of the stages, while other myths may deal with the stages in a somewhat different order. These stages may be organized in a number of ways, including division into three sections:
Departure (sometimes called Separation), Initiation and Return. “Departure” deals with the hero venturing forth on the quest, “Initiation” deals with the hero’s various adventures along the way, and “Return” deals with the hero’s return home with knowledge and powers acquired on the journey.

“The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, Campbell’s theory, has been consciously applied by a wide variety of modern writers and artists. The best known is perhaps George Lucas, who has acknowledged Campbell’s influence on the Star Wars films.

So, in summary, whether you’re a novelist, a poet, a short-story writer, an essayist, a biographer or an aspiring beginner, when you write great fiction, poetry, or non-fiction, amazing things can happen. The best way to increase your proficiency in creative writing is to write, write compulsively, but it does not mean write whatever you want. There are certain things you should know first… it helps to start with the right foot…..

Another interesting quote by Ray Badbury which states:

“You will have to write and put away or burn a lot of material before you are comfortable in this medium. You might as well start now and get the necessary work done. For I believe that eventually quantity will make for quality. How so? Quantity gives experience. From experience alone can quality come. All arts, big and small, are the elimination of waste motion in favor of the concise declaration. The artist learns what to leave out. His greatest art will often be what he does not say, what he leaves out, his ability to state simply with clear emotion, the way he wants to go. The artist must work so hard, so long, that a brain develops and lives, all of itself, in his fingers.”

At what cost can the early bird catcheth the worm?

Nothing defines a culture as distinctly as its language, and the element of language that best encapsulates a society’s values and beliefs is its proverbs.

It’s interesting to note that the two most common words in English proverbs are ‘good’ and ‘never’.

Proverbs are short and pithy sayings that express some traditionally held truth. They are usually metaphorical and often, for the sake of memorability, alliterative. And, as so many proverbs offer advice and uplift, many of them are religious in origin. Here’s an additional list of biblical proverbs.

I was recently examining the proverb “The early bird catcheth the worm.” the saying is found in John Ray’s “A Collection of English Proverbs” published in 1670.

Are you an early bird?

The common phrase “the early bird gets the worm” is normally given as counsel to be early or prompt. In entrepreneurial and business circles, it’s also a reminder that the first business to enter the market with a given idea has a big advantage.
That advantage is so powerful that, of the handful of classic entrepreneurial strategies that work, being the first to market is the first one that many of us think of. You can not just be the first, though; you have to be the first with the most or, as Peter Drucker would say it, “the Fustest With the Mostest.”

However, being the first business to market is as perilous as it is popular. All too often, the company that actually prospers is not the one that is first to market but the one that truly works the opportunities created in the new market. Thus, a second winning strategy: being the second business with the capability to coax the opportunities that the first business cannot or will not provide.

As with any strategic decision, there are advantages and disadvantages to either route.

The main idea in being there first with the most is that you go first with the idea, lead with it, and put as many resources as you can into both innovating and delivering whatever it is and dominating market share.

Some of the early bird advantages:
1. There are no competitors to contend with.
You get to both define and play the game all by yourself, which is a supreme advantage. Prospects are not vetting your value proposition against any other competitor on the same dimensions, so it’s a lot easier to come up with a compelling unique value proposition.
2. The innovative edge is inherently motivating.
Doing something that no one else is doing or has done before taps into a core drive for many people. As much as innovators and engineers love to solve problems, they get really fired up to solve new problems.
3. You have the market lead once competitors do enter.
New entrants have to play the game on your turf, and we all know that the home team has the advantage. Rolling out with something new is far more compelling than being the new people rolling out something that used to be new.

Some of the disadvantages of being the early bird:
1. Novelty can be hard to sell.
Novelty is a bit of a double-edged sword; as Geoffrey Moore illustrated brilliantly in Crossing the Chasm, broad segments of the market have a bias against novelty and are waiting for the innovation to be tested. They don’t want to waste their money and time on something that may not work.
2. Most people resist change.
If you are coming up with something new, you have to advance why this new thing is a better solution than currently available (and tested) solutions. Remember, better trumps new every time – though clever marketing can alter the dimensions of better.
3. Being the early bird is expensive.
You bear the learning curve in both the development of the idea and the best ways to get it to market. You bear the infrastructure setup costs. And your marketing team has to work harder to shift values and build trust.
4. You are the new kid on the block that opens new ground.
This disadvantage is more than a summary of the first three – it points to the fact that you create the very conditions for other ventures to beat you.
5. Most entrepreneurs cannot stick the landing.
They cannot complete the idea, because of execution. They generally have difficulties doing the hard work of the follow-through. They cannot market and position the product in the best ways since they are too busy developing it.

Whether an advantage or disadvantage from being an early bird, you need to learn from each mistake. The challenges of business in the past decade has been so daunting for some, that many of organisations have fallen into the precipice and have lost the battle and closed their doors. Many others are living dangerously and close to the edge. There is many lessons from the mistakes those adversities can teach us and more.

It is a fact that for whatever reason, on whatever level, there are leaders who make on occasions bad or wrong choices in response to the onslaught of bad news; leaders unable to weather the storms and sail its leadership team and company into better waters. It may not have been completely their fault, and this is not meant to criticise anyone, but certainly some of the blame can accurately be placed at their failure of business/commercial acumen, knowledge and leadership.

Management need to observe at what decisions were made, and when, that contributed to the failure, and what were, in the final analysis, the real risks that were taken that proved too much.

Understanding that you can eliminate future risk, and the risks through shared planning and managed execution.

Finally, certainly we can learn from our successes, but it is more likely people learn as much, if not more, from their failures through adversity. And the need to increase learning from past mistakes include the compliance and regulation challenges on management and board agendas.

Steven Wright once said:

“A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking”

Wimbledon Gentleman Matthew Benwell and Editor at Wimbledon Gent Interviews Geoff Hudson-Searle

Talking Business with Geoff Hudson-Searle

The modern Gent likes to be seen as an approachable man who embraces new trends and feels confident in what he does. Business is a way of life and something that is a part of him but does not define him. The entrepreneurial streak reflects his opportunistic vision on life and that all things can be achieved.

One man who encapsulates all that is Gent about the modern entrepreneur is Geoff Hudson-Searle. I had the pleasure of working with Geoff a number of years in a different guise and was impressed with his natural charm and effortless relaxed approach to work. Since then, Geoff has written a book about the art of communicating at work and in the modern world in general entitled “Meaningful Conversations”.

I was a little apprehensive at first as business guides, I have always felt, are rather American in their outlook. I feel that, quite often, they are only relevant to the experiences of the writer and are a collection of power-phrases and long winded, overly complex explanations.

“Meaningful Conversations” is a simple and actually enjoyable read. One of its main deviations from the norm is that it is split into short, sharp chapters making concise and relevant points. The book does not also have that preachy quality which one usually associates with business guides. The relevance of the book is all –encapsulating to whatever level you feel you are at in the business world. It gives simple advice to the soul trader as well as the corporate employee looking for meaning. I hate to say it, I genuinely found the book to be a pleasant experience which covered not just an outlook to the modern business world but to life in general.

Having read the book Geoff kindly took time out to have a chat with me:

WG: Hi Geoff, thanks for meeting with me. Obviously our focus here is on SW London. What is your connection to SW London?

GHS: I have always lived in South West London, spending the majority of my time in Wimbledon Village, Barnes and now Chiswick Park. You will still often see me in the Village at the Ivy Cafe reminiscing and writing those special experiences, those memorable stories from our past and foresight’s for the future, that will always contain the line ‘and as it all happened or as it is going to happen’

WG: In a world full of business guides, especially in the American market, what do you feel separates yours from that field?

GHS: Many business books in the open market discuss what makes the author so successful at their accomplishment, “Meaningful Conversations” across 54 short chapters demonstrates the relationship between communications (human 2 human, human 2 technology, human 2 bot and robot), strategy and business development and growth. Readers will gain insights into topical subjects, components of Communications, Strategy and Business Development and Growth, including a wide range of tips, models and techniques that will help to build strong and effective solutions in today’s business world. It is important to understand that a number of the ideas, developments and techniques employed at the beginning as well as the top of a business can be successfully made flexible to apply the terms ‘Communications’, Strategy’ and Business Development and Growth’ not least forgetting the fact that these have become overused during the last decade and have become devalued as a result. In my book I aim to simplify these terms and to re-value management and leadership by addressing topics and subjects in each distinctive chapter. This book provides a holistic overview of the essential leading methods of techniques. It will provide you with a hands-on guide for everyone across business and life.

WG: For me I was surprised about the holistic approach you take in some of your writing. This is surely a clean break from the traditional, almost stuffy, image of business. What took you down that path?

GHS: The idea for the name “Meaningful Conversations” came to me because to some extent or other all of us carry 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. The only exception is that nobody has ever written transparently across the highly complex world in which we live and operate within our business and personal life’s, people try to divide their lives, but the reality is we only have one life. I would want the reader to walk away with determination to never, never give up on the dream. The dream becomes reality and you are the master of that journey.

WG: In the modern world of social media and whatsapp, do you feel that communication on a face-to-face level is something of a lost art?

GHS: Social technologies have broken the barriers of space and time, enabling us to interact 24/7 with more people than ever before. But like any revolutionary concept, it has spawned a set of new barriers and threats. In an ironic twist, social media has the potential to make us less social; a surrogate for the real thing. For it to be a truly effective communication vehicle, all parties bear a responsibility to be genuine, accurate, and not allow it to replace human contact altogether. I think the answer to a balanced life is to have human 2 human and creative time, send flowers, write cards, poetry, read real books, integrated with email, social media and collaboration tools. What ever happened to picking up the phone, or talking to someone face-to-face over coffee, I guess we do we not have time.

WG: Finally, what inspired you to write this book?

GHS: I started as a writer with a non-fiction, “Freedom after the Sharks”, and “Meaningful Conversations” was always to be a fiction. The book deals with the constant root cause of today’s plethora of life and business challenges. It explores the why’s and wherefores of communications, strategy and development and growth in our ways of thinking and experiencing the world, and then uncovers a way ahead through 54 short stories backed by research from MIT, Harvard, Stamford, Oxford and Cambridge. It draws upon Eastern and Western wisdom and blends philosophy with pioneering new thought. Are you up for crossing the threshold? In “Meaningful Conversations” you will find the answers to our most pressing challenges in business and life.

WG: Thank you for your time Geoff

So there you have it; an interesting and thoroughly thought-provoking take on he modern world of business. If you want to buy “Meaningful Conversations”, it is available via Amazon, Apple, Google Play, Nook, Kodo, Smashwords, Waterstones, Barnes and Noble in hardback, paperback, kindle, e-book and direct from the publisher via Matador.

You can see more of Geoff’s work at hsbusinessmanagement.com and his book at meaningfulconversationsbook.com you can also follow him on twitter: @GeoffHSearle

Happiness explained……

Following last week’s blog (“Do we have the power to say and do ‘when’?”), I was having extended thoughts on the subject on the ‘quality of one’s life’ and without using too many metaphor’s, ‘happiness’ is proven to be a major contributing factor to the quality of one’s life.

I have written extensively on the subject of happiness with blogs such as “What is Happiness?”, “Are good story tellers happier in life and business?” and many more subjects around love and relationships in today’s world – Richard Layard’s book ‘Happiness’ explains the paradox of happiness at the very heart of our lives – he has drawn on economics, psychology, neuroscience, sociology, philosophy and social policy – frankly there is little to disagree with his theories or indeed his findings. Neil Pasricha wrote ‘The Happiness Equation’, drawing on the same as Richard, but searching the collective wisdom of positive psychologists, dozens of Fortune 500 CEO’s and thousands of personal interviews, effectively attempting to solve ‘what is the simplest formula for a happy life? And Steve Hilton wrote ‘More Human’, a book that debates that much of our daily experience, from food we eat, governments we elect, the economy on which our wealth depends, to the way we care for our health and well being, has become too big, too bureaucratic, and too distant from the human scale, truly effecting our happiness and there are 100’s of more authors and books that study the human mind and behaviour on exactly how do we become ‘happy’.

In June 2016 the OECD committed itself “to redefine the growth narrative to put people’s well-being at the center of governments’ efforts”. 1 In February 2017, the United Arab Emirates held a full-day World Happiness meeting, as part of the World Government Summit. Now on World Happiness Day, March 20th, the OECD launched the World Happiness Report 2017, once again back at the United Nations, again published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and now supported by a generous three-year grant from the Ernesto Illy Foundation. Some highlights are as follows.

Norway tops the global happiness rankings for 2017 – it jumped from 4th place in 2016 to 1st place this year, followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland in a tightly packed bunch. All of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance. Their averages are so close that small changes can re-order the rankings from year to year. Norway moves to the top of the ranking despite weaker oil prices. It is sometimes said that Norway achieves and maintains its high happiness not because of its oil wealth, but in spite of it. By choosing to produce its oil slowly, and investing the proceeds for the future rather than spending them in the present, Norway has insulated itself from the boom and bust cycle of many other resource-rich economies.

To do this successfully requires high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity and good governance – all factors that help to keep Norway and other top countries where they are in the happiness rankings. All of the other countries in the top ten also have high values in all six of the key variables used to explain happiness differences among countries and through time: income, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on in times of trouble, generosity, freedom and trust, with the latter measured by the absence of corruption in business and government. Here too there has been some shuffling of ranks among closely grouped countries, with this year’s rankings placing Finland in 5th place, followed by the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia and Sweden tied for the 9th position, having the same 2014-2016 score to three decimals.

Happiness is both social and personal. This year’s report emphasised the importance of the social foundations of happiness. This can be seen by comparing the life experiences between the top and bottom ten countries in this year’s happiness rankings. There is a four-point happiness gap between the two groups of countries, of which three-quarters is explained by the six variables, half due to differences in having someone to count on, generosity, a sense of freedom, and freedom from corruption. The other half of the explained difference is attributed to GDP per capita and healthy life expectancy, both of which, as the report explains, also depend importantly on the social context. However 80% of the variance of happiness across the world occurs within countries.

In richer countries the within-country differences are not mainly explained by income inequality, but by differences in mental health, physical health and personal relationships: the biggest single source of misery is mental illness. Income differences matter more in poorer countries, but even there mental illness is a major source of misery. Work is also a major factor affecting happiness.

Unemployment causes a major fall in happiness, and even for those in work the quality of work can cause major variations in happiness. People in China are no happier than 25 years ago. Our China chapter is led by Richard A. Easterlin, who pioneered the economics of happiness more than 40 years ago. It contrasts the sharply growing per capita income in China over the past 25 years with life evaluations that fell steadily from 1990 till about 2005, recovering since then to about the 1990 levels. They attribute the dropping happiness in the first part of the period to rising unemployment and fraying social safety nets, with recoveries since in both.
Much of Africa is struggling. The Africa chapter, led by Valerie Møller, tells a much more diverse story, as fits the African reality with its great number and vast range of experiences. But these are often marked by delayed and disappointed hopes for happier lives. Happiness has fallen in America. The USA is a story of reduced happiness. In 2007 the USA ranked 3rd among the OECD countries; in 2016 it came 19th. The reasons are declining social support and increased corruption (chapter 7) and it is these same factors that explain why the Nordic countries do so much better.

The terms ‘quality-of-life’ and ‘happiness’ are often equated. This conceptual connection is more or less implied in the use of words. The phrase ‘quality-of-life’ suggests that life is good in all aspects. Such a good life must be a happy life. Both terms owe much of their popularity to their suggestion of inclusiveness. They came into use as slogans in discussions. ‘Quality’ of life was contrasted with mere ‘quantity’ of life (prolonging life at all cost).

Over the centuries, the term ‘happiness’ has been used as a catchword for all above mentioned meanings of ‘quality-of-life’. In philosophy the first two meanings mentioned prevailed: in social philosophy the meaning of good living conditions (happiness as the good society) and in moral philosophy the meaning of good performance (happiness as virtue).

In current social science the third meaning prevails; the word happiness is commonly used to denote subjective enjoyment of life. Subjective enjoyment of life is not a one-dimensional matter. One can enjoy the thrills of life, but at the same time suffer under its tensions. Likewise one can like life in one domain, such as marriage, but at the same time dislike life in another, such as work. In the literature on subjective quality-of-life, these appraisals are referred to as respectively ‘aspect-satisfactions’ and ‘domain-satisfactions’. These partial appraisals of life are distinguished from subjective appreciation of life-as-a-whole.

Happiness is the degree to which a person evaluates the overall quality of his present life-as-a-whole positively. In other words, how much one likes the life one leads.

So why it is so hard to maintain a continually happy and peaceful mind if we have all this potential for peace and happiness within us?
The term ‘quality-of-life’ suggest that the various things we deem good tend to coincide. Happiness is believed to be part of this syndrome. Happiness does indeed concur with several qualities of life, for instance with environmental qualities such as freedom and personal abilities such as autonomy.

Yet more of these qualities does not always give more happiness. Most of the relations are subject of the law of diminishing utility and much of the relations seems to be bound to specific conditions.

Further happiness does not concur with all cherished qualities – for instance not with state-welfare or with personal intelligence. Something deemed good may even reduce happiness. In reality there is thus less inclusiveness than the term ‘quality-of-life’ suggests. We should use the term only as a token, and base our reasoning and measurements on more distinct concepts.

Finally, all delusions function in this way, within our mind as well as the minds of others. They project their own distorted version of reality onto the world, and we become convinced that this projection must be true. When delusions arise within us we have lost our grip on reality and cannot see things as they really are. Because our mind is always under the control of, at least, subtle forms of delusion all the time, we should not be surprised at our seemingly never ending stress, anxiety and confusion. It is as if we are continually chasing mirages, finding only disappointment when they don’t seem to fulfil our desires or pacify our frustrations.

S. McCall once said:

“The best way of approaching quality of life measurement is to measure the extent to which people’s ‘happiness requirements’ are met. i.e. those requirements which are a necessary (although not sufficient) condition of anyone’s happiness – those ‘without which no member of the human race can be happy.'”

The Entrepreneurs Library – inside ‘Freedom After the Sharks’

Podcast with ‘The Entrepreneurs Library’ about my first book, ‘Freedom After the Sharks’.

“In this episode, Geoff Hudson-Searle shares his book Freedom After The Sharks where he helps you make dreams become reality and shows you how to be the master of that journey.

In his book Hudson-Searle takes you on his life’s journey after working in 160 countries to helping fortune 100 companies and starting his career into entrepreneurship. His goal is to show the truths, trials, and tribulations he went through when going into business and launching a company.

This book is perfect for entrepreneurs who learn what it takes to succeed in life by following the experiences of other entrepreneurs who have struggled and made it to the top.”

Enjoy!

Geoff

Do we have the power to say and do ‘when’?

One of my good friends recently visited me at my offices for coffee, we always have a set of thought provoking discussions and a set of “Meaningful Conversations”. The good thing about meeting my friend and associate is that I never close down the meeting early, we always have some much to discuss and we are both afraid of losing creative time.

We started to talk around one of his latest inventions ‘the listening map’ this gave me plenty to observe when suddenly if was my time to interject with my thoughts and I said ‘do we actually know when it is time to listen, for that matter do we know when to have the power to say or do absolutely anything in life? Is there a power of when?

This brought our thinking across to ‘What exactly makes for quality living? No two persons think alike on this matter. One may aspire for a bigger car, while another long’s for cycling lanes on main roads for a low-cost, pollution-free and safe commute. Rather than assuming what constitutes a high quality of life.

Quality of life around the world was revealed recently and the Great Britain did not even make the top 10. The UK has come 16th in a quality of life index of world nations. The index placed Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan above the UK in terms of quality of life, as the country placed 9th in Europe. The data from Numbeo, the world’s largest database of user-generated content about cities and countries, was collated from online surveys, not official government reports.

Happiness is proved to be connected to the quality of life, or is it?

The first World Happiness Report was published in April, 2012, in support of the UN High Level Meeting on happiness and well-being. Since then the world has come a long way. Increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy. You can read it here: Paris, 1-2 June 2016 OECD WEEK

There are many factors that can influence the quality of life, but let’s consider: what do modern people mean by “quality of life”? The modern conception of quality of life is a combination of factors: environment, standard of living, mental and physical health, social position, education, etc. But can we say with confidence that these are the only factors that determine one’s quality of life, or is there something else? Something that is more important than all the well known and well studied factors?

Philosophers say that when you change your attitude, you change your life. This does not mean that external factors are not important, but a person’s mental state is sometimes the key to understanding an illness. Thus, we can conclude that quality of life is determined mostly not by external but by internal conditions. If we want to enhance the quality of life, we must focus our attention on those factors that may change people from deep inside; otherwise all external conditions, including high living standards and social positions, will be meaningless.

Talking about new technologies, scientists must always keep in mind harmony and nature, and only after analysing their inventions from this point of view should they decide to give life to them. We also have to remember that our life depends on the natural environment, and that in caring for nature we care for ourselves. When every single person tries every day to bring quality to every kind of activity and for every kind of human being, this will enhance the quality of life for everybody in the world. Freedom, creativity, learning, harmony in everything we do—these are the real factors that produce a high quality of life and a healthy nation, and provide our progeny with a strong foundation for the future.

There were some really interesting studies from the Quality of Life Research Unit, University of Toronto whose findings showed:
0ur definition of quality of life is: The degree to which a person enjoys the important possibilities of his/her life. Possibilities result from the opportunities and limitations each person has in his/her life and reflect the interaction of personal and environmental factors. Enjoyment has two components: the experience of satisfaction and the possession or achievement of some characteristic, as illustrated by the expression: “She enjoys good health.” Three major life domains are identified: Being, Belonging, and Becoming. The conceptualisation of those three domains of quality of life were developed from the insights of various writers.

The Being domain includes the basic aspects of “who one is” and has three sub-domains:

  • Physical Being includes aspects of physical health, personal hygiene, nutrition, exercise, grooming, clothing, and physical appearance
  • Psychological Being includes the person’s psychological health and adjustment, cognitions, feelings, and evaluations concerning the self, and self-control
  • Spiritual Being reflects personal values, personal standards of conduct, and spiritual beliefs which may or may not be associated with organized religions.

Belonging includes the person’s fit with his/her environments and also has three sub-domains.

  • Physical Belonging is defined as the connections the person has with his/her physical environments such as home, workplace, neighbourhood, school and community
  • Social Belonging includes links with social environments and includes the sense of acceptance by intimate others, family, friends, co-workers, and neighbourhood and community
  • Community Belonging represents access to resources normally available to community members, such as adequate income, health and social services, employment, educational and recreational programs, and community activities.

Becoming refers to the purposeful activities carried out to achieve personal goals, hopes, and wishes.

  • Practical Becoming describes day-to-day actions such as domestic activities, paid work, school or volunteer activities, and seeing to health or social needs
  • Leisure Becomingincludes activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction. These include card games, neighbourhood walks, and family visits, or longer duration activities such as vacations or holidays
  • Growth Becoming activities promote the improvement or maintenance of knowledge and skills.

I said earlier in my blog that no two persons can think alike, when you start to examine this within human chronotypes it shows human behaviour in a large interindividual variation in temporal organisation. By this I mean extreme’ “larks” wake up when extreme “owls” fall asleep. These chronotypes are attributed to differences in the circadian clock, and in animals, the genetic basis of similar phenotypic differences is well established. To better understand the genetic basis of temporal organisation in humans, the authors developed a questionnaire to document individual sleep times, self-reported light exposure, and self-assessed chronotype, considering work and free days separately. A report which was written by T. Roenneberg summarised the results of 500 questionnaires completed in a pilot study individual sleep times show large differences between work and free days, except for extreme early types. During the workweek, late chronotypes accumulate considerable sleep debt, for which they compensate on free days by lengthening their sleep by several hours. For all chronotypes, the amount of time spent outdoors in broad daylight significantly affects the timing of sleep: Increased self-reported light exposure advances sleep. The timing of self-selected sleep is multifactorial, including genetic disposition, sleep debt accumulated on workdays, and light exposure. Thus, accurate assessment of genetic chronotypes has to incorporate all of these parameters. The dependence of human chronotype on light, that is, on the amplitude of the light:dark signal, follows the known characteristics of circadian systems in all other experimental organisms. The results predict that the timing of sleep has changed during industrialisation and that a majority of humans are sleep deprived during the workweek. The implications are far ranging concerning learning, memory, vigilance, performance, and ‘quality of life’.

I recently read a fascinating book by Dr. Michael Breus PhD called “The Power of WHEN”, his ground breaking studies and easy to read book details the best time for you to have sex, ask your boss for a raise, and talk to your children. Exciting new research proves there is a right time to do just about everything, based on our biology and hormones. Dr. Breus’s new program supports us with a getting back in sync with your natural rhythm by making minor changes to your daily routine. Watch his video here: Why did Dr Michael Breus PhD write the book video

Scientific knowledge can improve the quality of life at many different levels from the routine workings of our everyday lives to global issues. Science informs public policy and personal decisions on energy, conservation, agriculture, health, transportation, communication, defense, economics, leisure, and exploration. It’s almost impossible to overstate how many aspects of modern life are impacted by scientific knowledge.

Final word, change is inevitable in life and your body will change over time, therefore it makes complete sense for you need to understand your biological clock and scheduling, you will learn when you can maximise your energy levels to get the most out of yourself and significant relationships in areas like sex, love, family, planning an event, work and even decorating the home. When you can identify improvement in these areas you can enhance your health and your life in ways you could never have imagined.

Napoleon Bonaparte once said:

“One must change one’s tactics every ten years if one wishes to maintain one’s superiority.”