Tag Archives: TED

The one where I can’t sleep

I may have mentioned before but when it comes to sleep I have issues. One is a specific medical issue which I discovered I had aged 23 and if you ever want to feel exceptionally ridiculous tell people you are going for hospital tests that entail sleeping for 8 hours! The rests of them are far more non-specific but the biggest impact of them is I am shocking at getting to sleep but when it comes to actually sleeping I am world class – alarm clocks have given up and retired in the face of the challenge.

For those of you of a certain age (at least everyone older than me) you may remember this:

It’s the BBC test card and it’s what was broadcast when the channel was off-air. Yes – off air. Not broadcasting any content. You had a very nice man with a soothing voice thank you for watching, they played ‘God Save the Queen’ and that was it. If you think I’m joking – google it!

The problem I face now is there is just too many opportunities to not go to bed (and I should confess that I am writing this at 1.25am). If you think of the range of stimuli that are available to us 24/7 365 then it shouldn’t be a shocker that some people really struggle to sleep. A counsellor once told me that you should avoid screens (computer, TV etc) for at least 30 minutes before trying to get to sleep as they stimulate your brain in a certain way which isn’t conducive to nutrious sleep (you REM, dreaming and all that stuff). I forgot to ask about smart phones…

The other part of the problem is what a news journalist would refer to as the ‘B-roll’ the stuff they were recording whilst waiting around or setting up the story. You finally exert the discipline to get into bed, lie there in the dark with your eyes closed (counting sheep is a risk for me – I’m Welsh) and all of a sudden it’s like some pressing play. All of the stuff that has been pushed down for the previous hours/days comes leaping front of mind and I have yet to find a pause button, let alone a stop button.

I remember watching a TED talk a few years ago delivered by Arianna Huffington about Sleep and her assertion was that men have attached bragging rights to getting less and less sleep – I think it’s definitely another thing we can blame Margaret Thatcher for (she famously only needed a few hours sleep per night). I know for sure that I am more scratchy and irritable on days when I’ve had less sleep, more inclined to make quick decisions, more inclined to avoid things I have committed to (like the gym!) and often compound the problem by falling asleep on the sofa the following evening thus perpetuating the challenge of getting to sleep.

So I’m curious…how many people out there find themselves in the same situation?And more importantly – are there any tricks I am missing? Should I be drinking 3 glasses of water 1 hour before trying to sleep? Is there some magic formula that has so far eluded me?

Aside from being clearer about going to bed, switching off all the technology, making sure you try and make a note of all those things you have to do that will crop up when you are lying in bed, having a note book to write down the ‘b-roll’ stuff – what have you got for me?

Why write this now? Well it’s now 1.31am and I don’t want to have think about this stuff when I go to bed (I will go in a few minutes – I promise) but basically…I can’t sleep!



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The one with some perspectives

So yet more twists and turns on the global stage and still no real traction!

I saw a tweet today from @neilmorrison which linked to a video (below) produced by Dorling Kindersley which really got me thinking about the mindset we are in at the moment….

I have now watched it several times and apart from being a fabulous piece of copywriting it has provoked me to think. It also brought to mind this advert produced some years ago for the Guardian Newspaper…

There are always different ways of framing any given situation. I remember sitting in a meeting with a colleague from the manufacturing team and I will confess we weren’t paying 100% attention to the presentation but he initiated a tongue in cheek conversation which went something like this:

Him: “Your problem is you think that glass of water is half full”

Me: “Yes and your problem is you think that glass is half empty”

Him: “You really haven’t been paying attention have you! I work in manufacturing…. I don’t know how much water is in there because Technical haven’t calibrated it, Marketing didn’t tell us how they want the water, Sales have sold it to 3 different customers, HR tell us we need to fill it with 20% less people and we probably haven’t got the right type of water because Supply Chain have messed us around”

Me: “Oh good grief”

At which point we smiled at each other and returned to a fascinating presentation on the current capex commitments and plan.

My brother introduced me to the work of Benjamin Zander, who in addition to being the Musical Director of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra is an accomplished public speaker. Linked below is a talk he gave at TED entitled “Classical Music with Shining Eyes” in which he makes some excellent observations and it’s a very engaging session but even if you are currently time starved, watch the first few minutes until the adage of the shoe salesmen going to Africa

There must be a different way to frame this….but don’t worry it’s Christmas soon (and on this blog it starts tomorrow!)


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The one with a game changer on entrepreneurs

There are some very smart people around….and thanks to the joy of the internet (specifically YouTube and Twitter in this case) we get quick and easy access to their thinking. Not that trawling through indexes in a reference library isn’t fun of course, but it’s a lot more time consuming!

The specific smart people I am referring to in this post are Marc Ventresca and Grant McCracken . The first is on staff at Said Business School in Oxford and the second is on staff at MIT as well as writing books & blogs.

Ventresca ran a session at the recent TEDx in Oxford, the subject of which was Entrepreneurs and it was through McCracken’s blog on HBR that I came to see this session on YouTube. For those who want more than my perceptions, it’s linked here.

The beauty of a TED talk is they are punchy. 20 minutes maximum and given the diversity of the audience rarely rely on a great deal of in-depth knowledge of the specific area. Ventresca opens his by asking people to reflect on the word entrepreneur and what it has come to mean. He goes on to give what has evolved into the mainstream perception of entrepreneurs, the way it has been ‘captured’ – those who take big risk for big reward, those who are endlessly persistent, those who do things no one else will do and those who are free from the bounds of convention.

Given this is TED the audience was likely littered with real entrepreneurs and he makes the point that often these people are not particularly interested in risk but are in fact passionate and persistent and achieve things in the worlds they are already in. Stop there for a moment…

This is where I got really excited (sad I know) because actually to me what he was describing was not just entrepreneurs but more importantly to me, given the context of my research and reading, he was describing corporate entrepreneurs. Not the maverick celebrity special few, but a definition and understanding that could apply to people within organisations.

The phrase he used that was particularly resonant was, “start with what they have at hand” to “turn what they have in hand to something more” but most resonantly for the consideration of corporate entrepreneurs “they do something in the world they’re in”.

The phrase he used is “System Builder” and he uses various examples to illustrate this but he summarises a system builder with these 3 comments:

  • They understand the elements around them
  • They combine those elements to generate new value
  • They do this by taking heterogeneous elements and assembling them

It’s in these 3 things that I started to think about the differences between corporate entrepreneurs and other successful business managers. I would imagine every successful manager understands the elements around them but the two things that maybe distinguish entrepreneurs is firstly the ability (or creativity in its broadest sense) to combine them but also the ability to recognise the potential in the difference between the (heterogeneous) elements.

Also, given how hard people seem to find it to recognise or admit they are entrepreneurial, without being in a start up or small business situation, this definition could be very powerful in helping increase the identification of relevant individuals within organisations, the growth of venturing within businesses and a return to economic prosperity…but I may be taking this a little far!

I do like smart people….a lot. Now I’m going back to reading more of them

N.B. Any errors in the transcription from the YouTube clip are mine and apologies in advance to Dr Ventresca if I’ve taken his words in vain!!



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