March 15, 2017

Swiss = Bliss?

Switzerland tops the 2015 World Happiness Report, taking the #1 spot from Denmark (the other runners-up being Iceland, Norway and Finland in Scandinavia and Canada in North America). But is the report based on a sound methodology and valid indicators? And are the Swiss really all that happy?

January 06, 2016

No New Year's Resolutions Please

Do New Year's Resolutions matter? There is certainly some value in new beginnings, stepping back from the action, and reflecting on what we want to do differently. But how many New Year's Resolutions have you abandoned come February? (It's only 6 days into the year, and I already broke two...) Instead, to deliver on your commitments, adopt a set of small regular (weekly, for example) practices and rituals that give you peace, power and/or freedom, or whatever else you wish.

October 23, 2015

BBC Language Distorts Facts

In his 1946 essay, "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell famously decried the use of language by bureaucrats, politicians and corporations to obfuscate and distort reality. The media are not far behind: Now the BBC, in a misguided attempt at even-handed journalism, has reached new heights in the art of euphemism. What would it take to get the media to call a spade a spade?

September 22, 2015

Ashley Madison Data Leak Claimed Suicide

In August, Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman stepped down over the hacking scandal embroiling his marital cheating website. In September, a user whose data had been leaked killed himself. Were the hackers justified in publishing the names, account details, credit card information and sexual preferences of some 32 million users (including many records with .gov emails and, unless it's fake, of former UK prime minister Tony Blair), or are they needlessly and gratuitously jeopardizing the lives of countless people and their families?

June 05, 2015

Cognitive Computing: Good or Bad?

Fascinating article by Peter Fingar on Cognitive Computing and the breakthroughs the new technology makes possible. If you don't have time to read the whole thing, just watch the second video with Rick Rashid of Microsoft doing a demo of computer-aided real-time translation into Chinese. Think of the possibilities for cross-cultural understanding and uniting humanity. Of course technology is value-neutral, it can be used for good or for evil, so we will also need to think about how to prevent destructive applications of Cognitive Computing, for example robotic warfare that could get out of hand and bring down humanity as a whole. Peter concludes that "We must evolve a fundamentally new economics, one not based on the 20th century reality of scarcity but on a new 21st century reality of abundance..."

April 01, 2015

Workdays of Geniuses

From Mozart to Picasso, geniuses deliberately shaped their workdays to produce breakthroughs in creativity and performance. Author Mason Currey has researched 161 great artists, scientists, writers, composers and philosophers across history and found that none of them relied on their talents alone: they designed daily rituals and used original tricks that could work just as well for normal mortals like you and me. What strategies do you use to optimize your productivity?

March 05, 2015

Apple: Top Brand or Murky Money?

In 2014 Apple beat Google and Samsung to become the world's most valuable brand at $119 billion. And now the iconic company made $18 billion in three months. But how did Apple produce those record earnings? A report by the German weekly Spiegel Online shows four of the tech giant's questionable practices. Should brand value be tied to ethical practices, or does it not matter how you make profit?

January 30, 2015

Mohammad Cartoons: Taboo or Press Freedom?

The cold-blooded murders of Charlie Hébdo staff by Islamists pose a dramatic culture clash: On one side radical jihadists who want to avenge perceived insults against their prophet Mohammad; on the other Europeans who want to exercise their freedom of the press and poke fun at the mighty everywhere (be they Moslem, Jewish or Christian). Nothing can justify killing journalists. But do Moslems have a point? Have the Western media violated a fundamental taboo against depicting the prophet or does Islam need to lighten up and accept the universal human value of free expression?

January 09, 2015

Is Positive Thinking Foolish?

Positive thinking has long been praised by self-help gurus, positive psychologists and motivational authors. But what if all this positivity is actually part of the problem? What if slogans like the famous "Daily Affirmations of Stuart Smalley," Al Franken's Saturday Night Live character whose constant refrain "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, everybody likes me!" only make things worse? A question worth asking as we begin a new year.

December 18, 2014

Debriefing the Year

At the threshold of a new year, it's a great time to step back, take stock of what we accomplished and learned, and see what we want to change. Instead of rushing headlong into the next year and learning nothing, for decades now my clients and I have used ten systematic but simple debrief questions that hold the power of genuine renewal.