Why emotional intelligence is leadership, team spirit and company culture

As all leaders experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, you will know you have been tested in ways that you never expected. And yet, somehow, we all prevail. Despite the frustrations, anger and fear, you will have learned a lot about yourself. You will be forced to recognise your own weaknesses and eccentricities, and discover reserves of strength that you had not known existed. In the process, you will become less judgmental and more accepting of yourself and of others.

No matter how large or small a company is, teams are vital to businesses these days, allowing them to maximise productivity and profitability when operated effectively. As such, it’s absolutely imperative for employers to nurture team spirit in the modern workplace.

That being said, employees should make the effort to connect with their team as much as possible as well. A genuine sense of camaraderie not only improves the morale and general mood of each individual member of staff but similarly helps them feel like an integral part of the organisation.

A united team’s greatest strength is undoubtedly the combination of skills present in collaborative environments with engagement into the company vision and mission. With a broader range of abilities and knowledge at the employer’s disposal, businesses can be more flexible, taking advantage of the greater number of opportunities open to them as a result. Close-knit teams are also better equipped to deal with individual shortcomings; for instance, if during the course of a project it emerges that a team member is lacking in a particular area, a strong bond makes it easy for the individual to simply defer to a colleague for support.

Likewise, working in a collaborative environment alongside trusted companions makes it easier for employees to discuss any ideas they might have for improving the firm’s operating practices, or even ask for assistance if they’re struggling personally or professionally.

Team spirit often produces a healthy dose of friendly competition; not in the sense that each individual is trying to outperform their colleagues, rather, as the group contribute to the overall success of the company, team members will work assiduously to avoid being seen as the weak link in the chain. Conversely, innate trust in a co-worker’s abilities enables one to concentrate fully on one’s own tasks and responsibilities, without fear of interruption.

Contented employees that are able to participate in traditional team-building exercises tend to be less stressed than more isolated workers, resulting in increased productivity, and a tighter connection between individuals; understandably, these effects are amplified if regular social outings are arranged. In addition, office disputes will be easier to resolve when team members feel able to communicate their grievances with each other openly, especially when there’s a professional and personal association.

From a practical perspective, cohesive team units often correlate with low staff turnover rates, saving the business money in a number of ways. For starters, as these employees are much happier in their work, businesses are spared the hassle of replacing staff on a regular basis; often a costly and time-consuming process. Furthermore, with fewer new starters each year, the company can save money on training staff and reduce the impact such transitional periods tend to have on productivity.

Company culture is an integral part of business. It affects nearly every aspect of a company. From recruiting top talent to improving employee satisfaction, it’s the backbone of a happy workforce. Without a positive corporate culture, many employees will struggle to find the real value in their work, and this leads to a variety of negative consequences for your bottom line.

According to research by Deloitte, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct corporate culture is important to a business’ success. Deloitte’s survey also found that there is a strong correlation between employees who claim to feel happy and valued at work and those who say their company has a strong culture.

There’s a reason why companies who are named as a Best Place to Work see so much success. These organizations tend to have strong, positive corporate cultures that help employees feel and perform their best at work. Research gathered by CultureIQ found that employee’s overall ratings of their company’s qualities – including collaboration, environment and values – are rated 20% higher at companies that exhibit strong culture.

But why is corporate culture such an important part of a business?

The culture factor – 8 types of company culture

The 8 Types of Company Culture

A great quote we have all heard time and time again is: ‘No man is an island’, especially in a business organisation. Everyone in the organisation needs someone else’s help sometime or another, either as part of the regular workflow or during emergencies.

Whether it’s the CEO or the cleaning lady, every person in an organisation has to consider himself or herself as part of a team in order for a business to function smoothly. The moment a “That’s not my job!” attitude appears, you have the makings of a dysfunctional organisation and a decline in team and company performance

What Creates a Team Environment?

Creating a team environment in a company does not come easy. To effectively build teams, it is important to remember that:

Teamwork is based on a company’s culture. Companies that encourage open, honest communication and foster employee interaction are in a better position to have good teamwork among employees.

Team spirit comes from the top. Building effective teams with the right attitude emanates from the highest levels of an organisation. Only by flattening the traditional organisational pyramid can one expect to instil the right team culture.

People must fit the culture. Some people are team players and some are not. It’s partly a question of personality and partly a matter of training. One person in the team with the wrong attitude can undermine the effort of the entire team. Hiring only people with the right traits for teamwork is crucial in building effective teams.

Leaders that develop great teams around them have two things that they do well:

• they have a lot of emotional intelligence and
• are able to provide a clear vision for the team.

Well, you are probably wondering what the team members need to have:

The team members themselves also need to possess high emotional intelligence so that they interact with each other with the least amount of friction.

The importance of teamwork is essential in today’s multidisciplinary world. In the past, during the industrial era when most jobs were represented by people on a manufacturing line doing one thing all day – teamwork wasn’t as important as it is today.

When emotional intelligence first appeared to the masses, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time. This anomaly threw a massive wrench into what many people had always assumed was the sole source of success—IQ. Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack.

Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behaviour, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results. Emotional intelligence is made up of four core skills that pair up under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence.

At a recent World Economic Forum it was stated in a report named ‘The Future of Jobs’ that in 2020, the core skill sets in highest demand will be complex problem-solving skills and social skills, including emotional intelligence.

In today’s knowledge economy, most of our jobs involve interacting with others that are not even in the same line of profession. The need for effective teamwork is critical for any business.

The ability to simultaneously perform as an individual and together with your colleagues or employees in effective teamwork is key to attaining growth and success.

In every aspect of a business, the diverse skills of teams are needed for reaching success. Make use of every opportunity you have to engage in teamwork so you develop effective communication skills.

Steve Jobs changed the whole pattern of living with his innovative and creative mind. However, without his team of hard-working professionals and their abilities, his innovations would not have reached the hands of so many people around the world.

In effect, teamwork is important and essential in order to accomplish the overall objectives and goals of an organization.

The following 5 reasons summarise the importance of teamwork and why it matters to you:

• Teamwork motivates unity in the workplace

A teamwork environment promotes an atmosphere that fosters friendship and loyalty. These close-knit relationships motivate employees in parallel and align them to work harder, cooperate and be supportive of one another.

Individuals possess diverse talents, weaknesses, communication skills, strengths, and habits. Therefore, when a teamwork environment is not encouraged this can pose many challenges towards achieving the overall goals and objectives. This creates an environment where employees become focused on promoting their own achievements and competing against their fellow colleagues.

Ultimately, this can lead to an unhealthy and inefficient working environment.

When teamwork is working the whole team would be motivated and working toward the same goal in harmony.

– Listen to our teamwork fundamentals audio course:

• Teamwork offers differing perspectives and feedback

Good teamwork structures provide your organization with a diversity of thought, creativity, perspectives, opportunities, and problem-solving approaches. A proper team environment allows individuals to brainstorm collectively, which in turn increases their success to problem solve and arrive at solutions more efficiently and effectively.

Effective teams also allow the initiative to innovate, in turn creating a competitive edge to accomplish goals and objectives. Sharing differing opinions and experiences strengthens accountability and can help make effective decisions faster, than when done alone.

Team effort increases output by having quick feedback and multiple sets of skills come into play to support your work. You can do the stages of designing, planning, and implementation much more efficiently when a team is functioning well.

• Teamwork provides improved efficiency and productivity

When incorporating teamwork strategies, you become more efficient and productive. This is because it allows the workload to be shared, reducing the pressure on individuals, and ensure tasks are completed within a set time frame. It also allows goals to be more attainable, enhances the optimization of performance, improves job satisfaction and increases work pace.

Ultimately, when a group of individuals works together, compared to one person working alone, they promote a more efficient work output and are able to complete tasks faster due to many minds intertwined on the same goals and objectives of the business.

• Teamwork provides great learning opportunities
Working in a team enables us to learn from one another’s mistakes. You are able to avoid future errors, gain insight from differing perspectives, and learn new concepts from more experienced colleagues.

In addition, individuals can expand their skill sets, discover fresh ideas from newer colleagues and therefore ascertain more effective approaches and solutions towards the tasks at hand. This active engagement generates the future articulation, encouragement and innovative capacity to problem solve and generate ideas more effectively and efficiently.

• Teamwork promotes workplace synergy

Mutual support shared goals, cooperation and encouragement provide workplace synergy. With this, team members are able to feel a greater sense of accomplishment, are collectively responsible for outcomes achieved and feed individuals with the incentive to perform at higher levels.

When team members are aware of their own responsibilities and roles, as well as the significance of their output being relied upon by the rest of their team, team members will be driven to share the same vision, values, and goals. The result creates a workplace environment based on fellowship, trust, support, respect, and cooperation.

Final thought, without the ability to effectively work in a team environment, you could delay the success of developing, formulating and implementing new and innovative ideas. The ability to problem solve is reduced, as well as the attainment of meeting goals and objectives, in turn, limiting the efficiency and effectiveness of growing a successful company is hindered

No matter how much they want to be part of the team, some will always find it difficult to work collaboratively, whether that’s due to a lack of confidence, a clash of personalities, or simply that an individual prefers working alone.

Fortunately, most people – even those who’d describe themselves as shy – can succeed in a team environment given enough time, enjoying the benefits of a happier and more fulfilling working life.

One of the most important roles a leader has is creating a positive culture. Be sure to cultivate a positive culture that enhances the talent, diversity and happiness of your workforce. Building a unique, positive culture is one of the best – and simplest – ways to get your employees to invest their talent and future with your company.

As Paul Ryan once said:

‘Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together.‘

Tequila and a very Meaningful Conversation with Michael

tequila

Tequila has never been a good friend to me and to be honest with you I have never really understood the drink, only to say occasionally an ice-cool margarita can be very inviting especially in hot weather.

If you’re anything like me, early memories of tequila drinking bring back foggy images of high school house parties a la Tom Cruise in “Risky Business.” Some of you might remember staring at the lifeless worm floating sadly on the bottom of a bottle, and wondered, who would drink that? Many of you still wince and cry, “It burns!”

On a recent visit to Oregon, my business partner and good friend Mark Herbert, decided to introduce me to Michael Bailey, who frankly is an expert in tequila. We arrived at Michael’s house, deep into the Mohawk Valley, where he showed us around his vast tequila collections, where this tequila cannot be purchased, my curiosity did get the better of me, there was no Patron tequila in his collection, not even Patron ultra-premium, no salt and no lime, just tequila.

Also, tequila does not have a worm in its bottle. The worm, or guano, is associated with mezcal. In the 1940s, a few brands started a marketing ploy attributing aphrodisiac and magical qualities to the worm and the person shooting it. As you can probably guess, ingesting the worm has no effect on desire, nor are fine bottles of either tequila or mezcal sold with a worm in it.

The word tequila comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec) language and translates to “the place where plants are harvested,” or possibly “the place where a lot of work is done,” according to Jose Maria Muria in his book, “A Drink Named Tequila.” And that pretty much sums up the sentiment behind tequila: A plant, a place and the people who make it, Michael believes that the word Tequila has a translation of ‘The Stone That Cuts’.

Michael started to discuss the subject of Hollywood actor George Clooney and his recent investment into tequila, ‘when George Clooney and Rande Gerber’s tequila company, Casamigos, sold for $1 billion last year, it begged the question: that there really so much money in tequila.

In the Guadalajaran skies, desert heat, verdant blue-green leaves, distilled down via an ancient recipe into a crystal-clear, power-punch of a spirit. The roots of our most beloved, hangover-inducing inebriant go all the way back to the 13th century.

Agave was an important part of life in pre-Hispanic Mexico: the dense fibres were perfect for mats, ropes, possibly wigs, but people also had another use for the plant: they loved to booze around with agave juice.

Pulque was their favourite drink, a fermented, milky coloured, yeasty agave juice concoction that pre-Aztec civilisations had the good sense to distil. North American fascination with tequila began during prohibition, and surfaced again in the Second World War when European spirits were hard to come by.

Agave – The Cultivation of the Tequila Tradition

The History of Tequila

The town of Tequila was founded in 1656 in what is now the Mexican state of Jalisco. It didn’t take long for tequila to be produced throughout the country and Jose Cuervo was the first to commercialize the product. The late 1800s saw the first exports to the United States and the following Mexican Revolution and World Wars added to the international popularity of tequila.

Tequila can only be made within particular regions of certain Mexican states. They include 124 municipalities of Jalisco (including the town of Tequila and the majority of modern tequila production), 8 municipalities in Nayarit, 7 municipalities in Guanajuato, 30 municipalities in Michoacan, and 11 municipalities in Tamaulipas.

Mark and I were hugely curious, sipping gently on our first Margarita, ‘so Michael how is tequila made?’

Good question guys, tequila is made by distilling the fermented juices of the Weber blue agave plant with water. The agave is a member of the lily family and it looks like a giant aloe vera plant with spiked barbs on the tips. After seven to ten years of growth, the agave plant is ready to be harvested and used in the production of tequila.

Underground, the plant produces a large bulb called a piña, which looks similar to a white pineapple. The agave’s spiky leaves are removed and the piñas are quartered and slowly baked in steam or brick ovens until all the starches are converted to sugars. The baked agave is crushed in order to extract the plant’s sweet juices, which are then fermented.

100% Agave vs. Mixto: According to Mexican law, all tequila must contain at least 51 percent Weber blue agave (Agave tequilana). Really good tequila, like the one you are drinking, is 100% Weber blue agave and will be clearly marked that way on the bottle. The law also requires them to be produced, bottled, and inspected in Mexico.

Tequila that is not 100% agave is called mixto (mixed) because it is blended with sugar and water during distillation. Mixto tequilas can be produced outside of Mexico. Until around the turn of the 21st century, mixtos were the main tequilas produced. Today, the majority of the tequila you will find is “Tequila 100% de Agave.”

Tequila is distilled in either pot or column stills until it reaches around 110 proof. The result is a clear spirit with a significant amount of congeners. These congeners are by-products of alcohol fermentation that are often thought of as impurities which may lead to more severe hangovers.

Some tequileros (tequila producers) re-distil the tequila to produce a cleaner liquor. Before bottling, the distillate is cut with water to obtain the bottling strength, which typically is around 80 proof, or 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).

Some tequilas are clear and are called blanco or silver tequila. Others take on a brown color due to one of two possible sources. Gold tequilas often get their colour from the addition of caramel or other additives. Reposado and añejo tequilas obtain their golden-brown colour from barrel ageing. Some tequilas are flavoured with small amounts of sherry, prune concentrate, and coconut, though these are not “true” tequilas, but “tequila products.”

The recipe for tequila is startlingly simple. All you need is agave, yeast and water, a few years for your crops to mature, oh, and a donkey or two. Jimadores (agave farmers) harvest the piña (heart) from the centre of the huge Weber blue agave at the perfect point in its life cycle (by all accounts, a rare, almost esoteric skill passed down through generations).

The piña is chopped up and gently steam-baked in a brick oven for a few days (or in an industrial pressure cooker for shorter cook time) and – slowly – the heart softens as the starch turns to sugar. The cooked piña is shredded like pulled pork, then crushed (often on a stone wheel, sometimes by donkeys) to extract the aguamiel, or juice, which is poured into heated wooden tanks.

The nectar ferments for a week or two – the yeast found naturally in the leaves of the agave plant is traditionally used to speed up the process – and then it’s distilled two to three times, water is added and it’s aged in wooden tanks or vats.

Each producer’s distillation process, ageing time and vessel give the tequila its unique flavour notes and aroma. It takes between 14 and 21 days to create the perfect white, clear-as-crystal tequila, while ageing the spirit for two months creates a pale gold tequila, drawing in some of the flavours and hues of the wood. Ageing the spirit from two to 364 days creates reposado (rested) tequila, and one year and beyond is known as anejo or aged tequila (and it’s delicious).

Before I make you both another Margarita, we are going to try all the 5 types (Tipos) of tequila, so you can fully understand the variables in taste, colour and quality of tequila, they are:
Blanco, Silver, or White Tequila (Tipo 1): Blanco tequila is a clear spirit that can be either 100% agave or mixto. These tequilas are “aged” — more like “rested” — no more than 60 days in stainless steel tanks, if they are aged at all. The unaged blancos give the drinker the rawest taste of agave available and have a notable earthy flavor that is distinctly tequila. If you have not tasted a blanco, then you are missing out on the pure taste of the agave plant.

Silver tequila is primarily used for mixing and is perfect for almost any tequila cocktail and often smoother than the gold tequilas shots. If you are looking for a quality, affordable, all-around tequila to keep in stock, a blanco is your best option.

Joven or Gold Tequila (Tipo 2): Joven (young) or oro (gold) tequilas are the ones that many older drinkers are familiar with, particularly if you spent any time doing tequila shots in the last few decades of the 20th century. Gold tequilas are responsible for many bad tequila experiences and were the most widely distributed in the U.S. during that time.

These are often unaged tequilas that are typically mixtos and have been colored and flavored with caramel, oak extract, glycerin, syrup, and other additives. While many gold tequilas leave something to be desired in comparison to the other classes, there are now a few decent bottlings available. If you are going to drink a gold tequila, stick to heavily flavored cocktails or (if you must) shots.

Reposado Tequila (Tipo 3): Reposado (rested) tequilas are aged in wood casks for a minimum of two months and many are aged from three to nine months. The barrels mellow the flavors of a pure blanco and impart a soft oak flavor to the agave as well as giving the tequila its light straw color. It has become popular for distilleries to age their tequilas in used bourbon barrels, which adds another dimension to the finished taste.

A little more expensive than blancos, reposado tequilas are the middle ground of the three main types found that are now pretty standard in a brand’s tequila line-up. They are versatile enough to be used in a great number of tequila cocktails, particularly those that have lighter flavors like the margarita or tequini. Reposados also make great sipping tequila.

Añejo Tequila (Tipo 4): Añejo tequila is “old” tequila. These tequilas are aged, often in white, French oak or used bourbon barrels for a minimum of one year to produce a dark, very robust spirit. Most añejos are aged between 18 months and three years while some of the best can spend up to four years in barrels. Many tequileros believe that aging longer than four years ruins the earthy flavour tones of the spirit.

Añejo tequilas tend to be very smooth with a nice balance of agave and oak. You will often find butterscotch and caramel undertones, which makes these perfect for sipping straight (chilled if you like) or for those really special cocktails.

You can liken an añejo to a high end brandy or whisky. Try these tequilas in a snifter to get a real sense of their aromas and flavours. As might be expected, añejo tequilas are some of the most expensive on the market, though there are many reasonably priced options available.

Extra-Añejo Tequila (Tipo 5): The change in the tequila market of recent years has led to the creation of a fifth type of tequila, which is labeled extra-añejo or muy añejo (extra-old).

These tequilas spend over four years in barrels and have a profile that rivals some of the oldest whisky you can find. Logically, the price of these tequilas reflects their extra time in the barrel and these are ones that you will want to save for straight sipping, enjoying every second of the experience.

Mark and I finished our last tequila with Michael, thanked him for a wonderful afternoon of tequila, home-made Margarita’s and phenomenal learnings, thankfully our taxi was on hand to drive us home.

So, what did I learn, one hundred percent agave tequila is made for sipping and savoring from a snifter, like a good scotch. No lime or salt is necessary to mask the flavor. (The more aged a tequila is, the more mellow the flavor, so opt for darker-colored añejo or reposado.)

After every sip or two you can dip a wedge of lime into a little salt and suck on it if you want to, but if you’re drinking mezcal skip the lime and opt for an orange slice instead.

If you find yourself at a great tequila bar that really means business, you can see if they have any sangrita, which is the only real “chaser” that Mexicans drink with tequila. It’s a sweet and spicy mixture of citrus juices, hot sauce, and sometimes tomato juice and/or Worcestershire.

It’s served in a small glass alongside the tequila, and when sipped in between sips of tequila, it cleanses the palate and highlights the tequila’s peppery and citrusy taste.

And if you’re looking to drink tequila in a cocktail, do as the Mexicans do and mix it with grapefruit soda (like Fresca) to make a refreshing Paloma.

Michael’s Margarita was super easy, delicious and possibly the best Margarita, I have EVER tasted, one part juice made from fresh oranges, one part juice made from fresh lemons, ice, Michael’s special tequila, ice and for taste coriander – AMAZING!

Statistics show that the United States is the largest consumer of tequila. In addition, the US demand for tequila is increasing year by year. Spain and Chinese demand for tequila are increasing at a very high rate.

Tequila has very strict requirements for raw materials. A mature blue agave requires a minimum of eight years, which limits the total production of tequila.

In 2017, the global tequila market size was 4.660 million US$ and is forecast to 6.360 million US in 2025, growing at a CAGR of 4.0% from 2018

Michael believes that tequila is a fine drink that enchants us all from the very beginning. It needs to have that certain ’WOW’ effect. It was very hard work, but at the end of the day there are many tequilas with an incredibly smooth finish. Like alchemists, you need to search for a tequila that when first sipped you will experience a magic moment.

As Rainbow Rowell, an American Author once said:

“Drinking tequila is more about the journey than the destination.”

Purposeful Driven Discussions with Mark Herbert

Every year, I travel to Oregon to visit my business partner, Mark Herbert, to discuss cross border challenges and to hold meetings with his team, my relationship with Mark and his team is a good example of a ‘special relationship’ that has grown from strength to strength over the last decade. We always discuss US to Europe and the effects on business and personnel who hold office.

Mark and I had quality time to discuss many subjects and in particular working in an increasingly fast-paced and ever-changing world, and the rationale behind my new book ‘Purposeful Discussions’.

Mark Herbert

We decided to take a road trip to the beautiful town of Brownsville, originally known as “Calapooya” after the area’s original inhabitants, the Kalapuya Indians, or “Kirk’s Ferry”, after the ferry operated across the Calapooia River by early settlers Alexander and Sarah Kirk.

When Linn County was created from the southern portion of Champoeg County on December 28, 1847, the Provisional Legislature named Calapooia as the county seat. Brownsville was named in honour of Hugh L. Brown, who settled there in 1846 and opened the first store. In the mid 1980s Brownsville assumed a modicum of international notoriety as the location set for the film ‘Stand by Me‘, directed by Rob Reiner. The film was shot in and around the community in June and July 1985 (and Richard Dreyfuss, whom I blogged about 2 weeks ago, plays in it).

It was a hot day driving through some of the back roads in Mark’s Porsche convertible, I started to ask Mark about purpose-driven outcomes in business, to which he responded: ‘Great subject Geoff, you could question to wonder too openly, or intensely, about the meaning of life sounds like a peculiar, ill-fated and unintentionally comedic pastime. It isn’t anything an ordinary mortal should be doing – or would get very far by doing. A select few might be equipped to take on the task and discover the answer in their own lives, but such ambition isn’t for most of us.

Meaningful lives are for extraordinary people: great saints, artists, scholars, scientists, doctors, activists, explorers, national leaders…. If ever we did discover the meaning, it would – we suspect – in any case, be incomprehensible, perhaps written in Latin or in computer code. It wouldn’t be anything that could orient or illuminate our activities. Without always acknowledging it, we are – in the background – operating with a remarkably ungenerous perspective on the meaning of life.’

I responded by saying ‘it is my belief that an important part of empathy is the ability to trust and be trusted. When your employees feel that you care, then you have earned their trust. If they trust you, they will take more risks with you and be more open with you. People will talk openly with you only when they trust you. As trust builds, there will be more sharing of information, feelings, and thoughts. The more you share, the easier it is to relate to one another. Building trust is something that takes time and effort. It involves both you and the other person in the relationship. The level of trust is what makes each relationship unique.

So how do you build a trusting relationship with someone?

Mark answered by exercising five ways to build trusting relationships:
1. Learn to trust others
2. Earn the trust of others
3. Share information, thoughts, and feelings
4. Show weakness and take risks
5. Be personable

It is true, if you want to develop your organisation’s culture around purpose, it’s hard to imagine anything more critical to your success than trust. Yet, unfortunately, trust is sorely lacking in workplaces in the US and Europe, if fact across the globe, reflecting society’s growing distrust of business, government and other vital institutions.

How big is the trust gap? I recently read The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, which found that just 37% of respondents find CEOs to be credible spokespeople, down 12% compared to 2016. Trust in employees is also falling. Edelman found that 48% of respondents found employees trustworthy, down from 52% in 2016. In fact, for the first time, a majority of global respondents say that they no longer trust “the system” – government, media, business and institutions – to work for them.

It’s clear there’s a crisis of trust brewing. Yet, there’s hope for companies that pursue purpose transformation, for it is only by being trustworthy that we can gain the trust of employees, customers and others who are invested in mutual success. In my continuing series of interviews around culture and purpose, I spoke with five experts on workplace relationships who shared their ideas on why trust is integral to purpose transformation.

Mark went on to say ‘organisations, values play another vital role’. “Values prevent teams and individuals from giving into that short term, numbers-oriented mentality, which is so prevalent in many publicly traded organizations,”. “We have to give up the notion that it’s okay for work to be unsatisfying; that it’s simply an obligation versus something we feel fulfilled and passionate about doing. We as individuals have to change our beliefs; that’s what really changes the organisation.”

The ability to trust your team to embody your values is the foundation for a successful purpose transformation. After all, you can expend a lot of energy defining purpose and values, but if you can’t rely on your team to embody them, then it won’t impact how teams interact with customers and each other, and it won’t impact how business gets done.

Values should drive decision-making, especially around hiring and retention. Organisations must hire people who believe in the organisation’s purpose, and who embody the values you want to see in the organisation.

I continued to question, ‘so how do you build a trust-based workplace? Mark responded, inspiring trust is about walking the talk and great storytelling, “As a leader, you build trust by making yourself available, listening to questions. You have to listen to your customers and your people, and recognise the questions people have.”

Final thought, it might not seem like trust would be such a crucial component of building a purpose-driven organisation. But in truth, it’s trust – between employees and managers, managers and executive leaders, and customers and those within the organisation – that gives purpose and values the power to transform.

To be successful in today’s dynamic business environment, leaders must work toward building relevance, managing business fundamentals with a balanced approach and guiding employees through open, two-way communication. Those leaders who leverage opportunities to adapt, innovate and learn can make ever-changing times invigorating and advantageous for themselves, their employees and their organizations.

A great quote by Howard Schultz sums up our thinking on this incredible roadtrip, when he said:

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”

The extraordinary life of Richard Dreyfuss and why the need for a human interaction

Richard Dreyfuss

I had the great fortune to see Hollywood legend Richard Dreyfuss at the Cadogan Hall – Chelsea, London recently and what a huge inspiration this incredible man is, he is so much more than his accolade of movies from Jaws to Daughter of the Wolf.

This close encounter with Dreyfuss was billed as an intimate evening with a living legend. This opportunity to see Richard Dreyfuss, the engaging actor known for his roles in the Spielberg films ‘Jaws (1975)‘ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)‘ (and a hundred other films).

At just thirty-one, Dreyfuss already has been seen in three of the biggest-grossing films of all time: ‘American Graffiti (1973),’ ‘Jaws’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind.’

He has always wanted to be an actor, and has always been, according to nearly everyone he’s ever known, geared for success. Now he is all but synonymous with the word. After only seven features, he received his industry’s highest accolade when he won the Oscar for Best Actor of 1977 (over Richard Burton) for his performance as Elliot Garfield in ‘The Goodbye Girl (1977)‘.

Video bio of Richard Dreyfuss:

Dreyfuss noted that he enjoyed working with Spielberg, “who understands the acting process.” Not every director does.

But within a minute, the conversation turned unexpectedly to Dreyfuss’ true passion these days: the need for civic education in America.

We have managed to disconnect education from preparation for the rest of your life. We are addicted to immediate gratification, removed from the necessity to take time for decision making, for rumination and contemplation, thinking things through. Under the Bush administration, Bush said: ‘Thinking things through is for sissies.’ Education is horrible in the United States.

Dreyfuss’ passion is such that he recently spent four years studying at Oxford, to prepare for his project to instil civic education in American schools. Already he was speaking to schools in Texas and California, to propose his civic-centric curriculum, entitled “The Fourth Branch”, which includes American history, the importance of dissent and debate, and civic clubs, for the purpose of reinforcing Enlightenment values.

An incredible and extraordinary man to see, earnest and modest at the same time, with his famous laugh coming to the surface ever so often, Dreyfuss himself interestingly enough had no formal education after high school, clearly an issue for him, as he came back to this point often.

“Why did I become an actor?” he said. “Because it is not one of those artistic professions that requires training. You do it spontaneously, in the present. You can’t go to class and learn to become a better actor. Plus with acting you are saved the frustration of making mistakes on paper, then ripping the page from the typewriter,” he imitated, in his lively way, a hand pulling out the ream.

Dreyfuss perceives a distinction between the gift for expression on paper and that for live expression. As a child, aged nine, he already had the confidence that he had the latter gift. “I was certain I would become a successful actor,” he stated firmly. “Certain. 100 percent. I didn’t want to be one, I was going to be one.” He grinned and gestured to his chest. “I was built for the hunt!” Already, in his family, he always liked be the “spectacle,” vying for this position with his siblings and cousins.

Dreyfuss continued to reiterate the need for better human connection, to the point of using film as the medium for accomplishing this fact.

Richard Dreyfuss

Humans are born wired for connection – it’s in our DNA, as strong a need as food, water and warmth. And if you look at a new-born baby, that makes sense. Unless babies successfully attach to their mother, they won’t be able to survive – human infants are born completely helpless, so we are entirely reliant on our caregivers. A loving, secure relationship is literally a matter of life and death for babies.

So, in our brains is an ‘attachment system’, which gives us a magnetic attraction to others – (usually) first mum, then dad, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, school friends, teachers, adult friends, colleagues, mentors and later romantic partners and our own family, when the whole cycle starts over again.

Jeffrey Young, the founder of schema therapy, understood this need for attachment – that’s why it is one of the core developmental needs he identified in all children (along with the need for safety and protection; to be able to express our feelings and emotions; spontaneity and play; and boundaries/being taught right from wrong).

Another psychotherapy pioneer to understand this fundamental need was psychoanalyst John Bowlby, often called the ‘father’ of attachment theory. Bowlby realised that all children (and adults) need a secure attachment to their caregivers, especially mum. If we are lucky enough to develop this secure attachment in infancy, this ‘attachment style’ will remain constant throughout our lifetime and help us form strong, stable, loving relationships with friends, romantic partners and then our own children.

A strong culture is one where there’s trust, connection and belonging, among more. Without trust, you don’t connect with colleagues and without connection, it’s only a matter of time before any sense of belonging to that employer dissipates and you start looking for a job elsewhere — likely with a competitor.

One of the best ways to gauge whether there’s connection or not is to look at your meetings. Do the right conversations take place during those meetings, or, do people wait for the meeting after the meeting so they can get “real work” done? If it’s the latter, then you might want to consider strategies for building trust.

The Value of Human Connection—Unplugged | Kim Gemmell | TEDxChilliwack

Dreyfuss is an incredibly extraordinary individual, one that has an astute purpose in life and one that will continue to be transparent with the truth any why.

Final thought, I really love films. From science fiction to drama, almost all kinds of genres and sub-genres. However, the best aspect, which encompasses all forms of art, is the ability to create meaningful social connections through a shared experience, which as an author has been my mantra for writing.

Richard Dreyfuss

This is the power all art has and almost all art strives for. Art has been the glue that has held various human beings and various cultures together. Film has the power to express a culture’s ideals and shape them. Art, especially film, is important because it gives us the ability to form lasting human connections through by letting us share our experiences with each other, something that Dreyfuss shares in every film he has ever made.

In a world full of people, what can be more fulfilling than knowing how to form healthy relationships and establish deeper connections with those around us – to feel socially connected, especially in today’s increasingly isolated world.

A great quote by Richard Dreyfuss:

“We need to get back to reasoning and thinking things through. The future generation is being brought up in greed and without a true understanding of civics. There is no more emphasis on knowledge and time. As a society we need to process ideas and understand what certain principles.”

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?”

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.”