Different

In everything we do we need to think differently, to do things the way nobody expects us to, to never accept that the way everyone else does something is the right way, and to do everything with the ultimate aim of producing a social good in some form.

να εύχεσαι νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος

Something special and affecting read to us at TEDxSummit in English by Jason Hsu of TEDxTaipei and in the native Greek by Katerina Biliouri of TEDxThessaloniki.

There are real, and enduring messages in it for those of us who wish to create change in the world. Better yet, it’s no less about relationships, friendship and love.

I hope you enjoy Cafavy’s Ithaca.

Ithaca

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon—do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1911) (Greek original)

Words to live by

Fuck the low-hanging fruit. Aim for the top. Forget quick wins; go straight for the long-term. Screw office politics & mow down the ignorant

A better kind of business – Patagonia

Here’s how it works. Flexible Purpose Corporations can write one or more special missions into their articles of incorporation. They can be as ambitious as fighting climate change or as modest as maintaining a park near the company’s office. The law instructs directors to consider the special aims in their decision-making, even when it could mean lower returns for investors. To make the appeal as broad as possible, the law’s authors avoided setting a minimum standard for what a “special purpose” could be.

From an article on the outdoor clothing/adventure company Patagonia and its adoption of a new incorporation model under California law.

I strongly believe we need similar laws in Australia.

Here’s how it works

Here’s how it works. Flexible Purpose Corporations can write one or more special missions into their articles of incorporation. They can be as ambitious as fighting climate change or as modest as maintaining a park near the company’s office. The law instructs directors to consider the special aims in their decision-making, even when it could mean lower returns for investors. To make the appeal as broad as possible, the law’s authors avoided setting a minimum standard for what a “special purpose” could be.

Patagonia Road Tests New Sustainability Legal Status – Bloomberg

We need similar laws in Australia, I believe.

Book Review – The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business by Umair Haque

I’ve never been one to conform, and Havas Media Lab Director and HBR blogger, Umair Haque isn’t either. The radical re-imagining of economics and capitalism he proposes in The New Capitalist Manifesto is an idea for the 21st Century, rising out of the ashes of a still-burning post-Industrial economy. Illustrating his new economics through comparisons between old economics (and the companies living off it) and the new “betterness”-based economics, Haque argues extensively and convincingly that what organisations need to do in the 21st Century to continue to survive is focus on an operational model:

The twenty-first century capitalist’s agenda, in a nutshell, is to rethink the “capital”—to build organizations that are less machines, and more living networks of the many different kinds of capital, whether natural, human, social, or creative. And, second, to rethink the “ism”: how, when, and where the many different kinds of capital can be most productively seeded, nurtured, allocated, utilized—and renewed. What we need, then, is a new generation of renegades, laying deeper, stronger institutional cornerstones.

Haque’s argument resonates super-powerfully with me. While I certainly don’t have the chops to have written The New Capitalist Manifesto, it articulates many of the arguments I’ve put to people in the past 10 years; business today is no longer sustainable in the way it was before. It can’t go on cannibalising profits and circulating the same money (and making more and more “pretend” money that only exists in a computer somewhere. Business needs to act to add real social value and not only make money but make social goods as well, as Haque suggests, the paradigm needs a shift thus:

  • Loss advantage: From value chains to value cycles
  • Responsiveness: From value propositions to value conversations
  • Resilience: From strategy to philosophy
  • Creativity: From protecting a marketplace to completing a marketplace
  • Difference: From goods to betters

I can’t recommend The New Capitalist Manifesto strongly enough, and also highly recommend Umair Haque’s new, short ebook, Betterness, which extends his articulation of some of the themes in this book. If it was mathematically possible to give a book 6/5, I would give it here.

Life as a Conscious Practice

“What if, instead, we practiced consciously, deliberately, and became good at the things we really want to be good at? What if you first, above all skills, learned to be more aware of what you are practicing? What if constant conscious action is the skill you became good at? If you could learn to take conscious action, you could learn to practice other things you want to be good at, rather than the ones you don’t.”

– Life as a Conscious Practice :zenhabits