Six ways to turn a bad day into a good day
Monday, May 13, 2013
Do you know how to make lemonade from lemons? Here are six powerful ways to turn your day around. By Kevin Daum, Inc Read more ...
Six ways to turn a bad day into a good day
Monday, May 13, 2013
Do you know how to make lemonade from lemons? Here are six powerful ways to turn your day around. By Kevin Daum, Inc
1. Curb your optimism
Many people talk about optimism being the path to happiness. I couldn't disagree more. Obviously pessimism is not helpful in bad times, but there is another approach.
When things are going poorly, it's pragmatism and not optimism that will get you through.
In Good to Great, Jim Collins suggests: have "undying faith" that things will get better, yet "confront the brutal facts" that you may not have much control over how or when they'll improve.
This way, additional problems won't feel like major setbacks and you'll be able to manage your impatience and persevere through any hindrance on the way back to happiness.
2. Maintain disciplined structure
Anyone who is religious is familiar with strict ritual in the face of emotional circumstances.
In my dark times I created and adhered to a rigid schedule of productive activity like networking, writing, and physical activity. The networking forced me to engage with people so I wouldn't feel alone.
The writing allowed for creative activity and much needed emotional release. And the exercise released endorphins and allowed me to manage the one thing I solely controlled - my body.
3. Lean on those around you
When times are tough, many hold it in. You don't want to seem like a complainer and there may be a degree of embarrassment in the bad circumstances. Find people close to you who will let you verbalise your issues.
My friends were my strength when things got bad. Mostly they listened but often kept me on track with brutal honesty.
After a while I got so tired of hearing myself complain that I was motivated simply to have good news to share for their sake. Today I am the first to support friends on a bad day, if only to listen and share truthful observations.
4. Revel in the humour
There is humour in everything, no matter how traumatic. Humour is the way we get in touch with our humanity and ridicule situations beyond our control.
Given the choice of crying about a bad situation or finding the humorous side, I go for the laugh every time. Laughter breaks tension, releases powerful endorphins and allows for a much needed emotional release.
5. Celebrate victories (especially the small ones)
No day is ever all bad. Ironically, some of my greatest triumphs and opportunities came on the heels of difficulty. Certainly the bad news at times felt like someone was swinging at my head with a baseball bat.
But those were the days I would focus hardest on looking for some sign of forward progress. Any small win became a reason to pat myself on the back.
Even though I often moved one step forward and two steps back, it was the smallest victory that would give me the confidence to slug it out and continue. Soon enough, that string of small victories leads to big ones if for no other reason than opportunity attracts people who win often.
6. Pay it forward
No matter how bad things got, I always knew that my life was still far better than many others, particularly during the financial crisis. I did my best to find and help others who were struggling like me.
Sometimes I had nothing to share but empathy and experience. But it helped build my confidence and disposition to support others in finding the path to recovery.
Many of those people today are my most ardent supporters. And now our shared celebrations of success are that much more meaningful.
BrightStuff8 things to add to your not-to-do list16 April 2013
Cut these things out of your day and you'll see gains in productivity, not to mention happiness. By Jeff Haden, Inc. If you get decent value from making to-do lists, you'll get huge returns - in productivity, in improved relationships, and in your personal well-being -from adding these items to your not to-do list: Every day, make the commitment not to: 1. Check my phone while I'm talking to someone. You've done it. You've played the, "Is that your phone? Oh, it must be mine," game. You've tried the you-think-sly-but-actually-really-obvious downwards glance. You've done the, "Wait, let me answer this text..." thing. Maybe you didn't even say, "Wait." You just stopped talking, stopped paying attention, and did it. Want to stand out? Want to be that person everyone loves because they make you feel, when they're talking to you, like you're the most important person in the world? Stop checking your phone. It doesn't notice when you aren't paying attention. Other people? They notice. And they care. 2. Multitask during a meeting. The easiest way to be the smartest person in the room is to be the person who pays the most attention to the room. You'll be amazed by what you can learn, both about the topic of the meeting and about the people in the meeting if you stop multitasking and start paying close attention. You'll flush out and understand hidden agendas, you'll spot opportunities to build bridges, and you'll find ways to make yourself indispensable to the people who matter. It's easy, because you'll be the only one trying. And you'll be the only one succeeding on multiple levels. 3. Think about people who don't make any difference in my life. Trust me: The inhabitants of planet Kardashian are okay without you. But your family, your friends, your employees - all the people that really matter to you - are not. Give them your time and attention. They're the ones who deserve it. 4. Use multiple notifications. You don't need to know the instant you get an email. Or a text. Or a tweet. Or anything else that pops up on your phone or computer. If something is important enough for you to do, it's important enough for you to do without interruptions. Focus totally on what you're doing. Then, on a schedule you set - instead of a schedule you let everyone else set - play prairie dog and pop your head up to see what's happening. And then get right back to work. Focusing on what you are doing is a lot more important than focusing on other people might be doing. They can wait. You, and what is truly important to you, cannot. 5. Let the past dictate the future. Mistakes are valuable. Learn from them. Then let them go. Easier said than done? It all depends on your perspective. When something goes wrong, turn it into an opportunity to learn something you didn't know -especially about yourself. When something goes wrong for someone else, turn it into an opportunity to be gracious, forgiving, and understanding. The past is just training. The past should definitely inform but in no way define you - unless you let it. 6. Wait until I'm sure I will succeed. You can never feel sure you will succeed at something new, but you can always feel sure you are committed to giving something your best. And you can always feel sure you will try again if you fail. Stop waiting. You have a lot less to lose than you think, and everything to gain. 7. Talk behind someone's back. If only because being the focus of gossip sucks. (And so do the people who gossip.) If you've talked to more than one person about something Joe is doing, wouldn't everyone be better off if you stepped up and actually talked to Joe about it? And if it's "not your place" to talk to Joe, it's probably not your place to talk about Joe. Spend your time on productive conversations. You'll get a lot more done - and you'll gain a lot more respect. 8. Say "yes" when I really mean "no." Refusing a request from colleagues, customers, or even friends is really hard. But rarely does saying no go as badly as you expect. Most people will understand, and if they don't, should you care too much about what they think? When you say no, at least you'll only feel bad for a few moments. When you say yes to something you really don't want to do you might feel bad for a long time - or at least as long as it takes you to do what you didn't want to do in the first place. http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/8-things-you-should-not-do-every-day.html?nav=popBrightStuffThe 21 principles of persuasion03 April 2013
Why are certain people so incredibly persuasive? Can we all harness those skills? Yes, says business consultant Jason Nazar. Here’s how. Via Forbes. 1. Persuasion is not manipulation - Manipulation is coercion through force to get someone to do something that is not in their own interest. Persuasion is the art of getting people to do things that are in their own best interest that also benefit you. 2. Persuade the persuadable - Everyone can be persuaded, given the right timing and context, but not necessarily in the short term. Political campaigns focus their time and money on a small set of swing voters who decide elections. The first step of persuasion is always to identify those people that at a given time are persuadable to your point of view and focus your energy and attention on them. 3. Context and timing - The basics building blocks of persuasion are context and timing. Context creates a relative standard of what’s acceptable. We chose to marry a different type of person than we date when we’re younger, because what we want changes. 4. You have to be interested to be persuaded - You can never persuade somebody who’s not interested in what you’re saying. We are all most interested in ourselves, and spend most of our time thinking about either money, love or health.The first art of persuasion is learning how to consistently talk to people about them; if you do that then you’ll always have their captive attention. 5. Reciprocity compels – When I do something for you, you feel compelled to do something for me. It is part of our evolutionary DNA to help each other out to survive as a species. More importantly, you can leverage reciprocity disproportionately in your favour. By providing small gestures of consideration to others, you can ask for more back in return which others will happily provide. 6. Persistence pays - The person who is willing to keep asking for what they want, and keeps demonstrating value, is ultimately the most persuasive. The way that so many historical figures have ultimately persuaded masses of people is by staying persistent in their endeavours and message. 7. Compliment sincerely - We are all positively affected by compliments, and we’re more apt to trust people for whom we have good feelings. 8. Set expectations - Much of persuasion is managing other’s expectations to trust in your judgment. The CEO who promises a 20% increase in sales and delivers a 30% increase is rewarded, while the same CEO who promises a 40% increase and delivers 35% is punished. Persuasion is simply about understanding and over-delivering on other’s expectations. 9. Don’t assume - Don’t ever assume what someone needs. Always offer your value. In sales we’ll often hold back from offering our products/services because we assume others don’t have the money or interest. Don’t assume what others might want or not want, offer what you can provide and leave the choice to them. 10. Create scarcity – Besides the necessities to survive, almost everything has value on a relative scale. We want things because other people want these things. If you want somebody to want what you have, you have to make that object scarce, even if that object is yourself. 11. Create urgency – You have to be able to instill a sense of urgency in people to want to act right away. If we’re not motivated enough to want something right now, it’s unlikely we’ll find that motivation in the future. We have to persuade people in the present, and urgency is our most valuable card to play. 12. Images matter – What we see is more potent that what we hear. Perfect your first impressions. And master the ability to paint an image for others, in their mind’s eye, of a future experience you can provide for them. 13. Truth-tell – Sometimes the most effective way to persuade somebody, is by telling them the things about themselves that nobody else is willing to say. Truth-tell without judgement or agenda, and you’ll often find others’ responses quite surprising. 14. Build rapport - We like people who we are like. This extends beyond our conscious decisions to our unconscious behaviours. By Mirroring and Matching others habitual behaviours (body language, cadence, language patterns, etc.) you can build a sense of rapport where people feel more comfortable with you and become more open to your suggestions. 15. Behavioural flexibility - It’s the person with the most flexibility, not necessarily the most power, who’s in control. Children are often so persuasive because they’re willing to go through a litany of behaviours to get what they want (pouting, crying, bargaining, pleading, charming), while parents are stuck with the single response of “No.” The larger your repertoire of behaviours, the more persuasive you’ll be. 16. Learn to transfer energy - Some people drain us of our energy, while others infuse us with it. The most persuasive people know how to transfer their energy to others, to motivate and invigorate them. Sometimes it’s as straightforward as eye contact, physical touch, laughter, excitement in verbal responses, or even just active listening. 17. Communicating clearly is key - If you can’t explain your concept or point of view to an 8th grader, so that they could explain it with sufficient clarity to another adult, it’s too complicated. The art of persuasion lies in simplifying something down to its core, and communicating to others what they really care about. 18. Being prepared gives you the advantage - Your starting point should always be to know more about the people and situations around you. Meticulous preparation allows for effective persuasion. 19. Detach and stay calm in conflict - Nobody is more effective when they are “On Tilt.” In situations of heightened emotion, you’ll always have the most leverage by staying calm, detached and unemotional. In conflict, people turn to those in control of their emotions, and trust them in those moments to lead them. 20. Use anger purposefully - Most people are uncomfortable with conflict. If you’re willing escalate a situation to a heightened level of tension and conflict, in many cases others will back down. Use this sparingly, and don’t do it from an emotional place or due to a loss of self-control. 21. Confidence and certainty - There is no quality as compelling, intoxicating and attractive as certainty. It is the person who has an unbridled sense of certainty that will always be able to persuade others. If you really believe in what you do, you will always be able to persuade others to do what’s right for them, while getting what you want in return. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonnazar/2013/03/26/the-21-principles-of-persuasion/BrightLivesLucky Dube’s daughter lives up to his legacy03 April 2013
Her father was a South African Reggae legend, gunned down in his prime. Now Nkulee Dube is keeping the beat alive. By Baz Dreizinger, NPR It's Thursday night in downtown Johannesburg and some 500 people are packed into Bassline, a warehouse-like club in a hipster-friendly neighbourhood. They're here for South Africa's longest-running sound system, or crew of reggae DJs. But tonight they get something extra: a young woman sporting dreadlocks and an army cap gets on the mic to freestyle. Her name is Nkulee Dube, and she carries two storied legacies on her shoulders. She's now the country's biggest reggae star — and the daughter of the man sometimes dubbed "Africa's Peter Tosh." "When I travel around the world, people are like, 'We are just happy there is someone taking over, putting on your dad's shoes,' " Dube says. "I'm like, 'What? I cannot put on those shoes. They're very heavy!' " Reggae, after all, runs deep in South Africa. During the 1970s, songs by Peter Tosh and Burning Spear were gospel to the anti-apartheid movement. James Mange, a reggae artist and former resistance leader, was the first Rastafarian prisoner on Robben Island alongside such anti-apartheid activists as Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela. He says they were huge reggae fans. "Walter Sisulu even asked for certain albums in particular: 'That one, that one, by that boy. What is his name?' We'd say, 'Bob Marley; he has about three,' " Mange recalls. "'Exodus—give me that one.' " Mange became known as the Bob Marley of Robben Island, where reggae was a mainstay even when warders censored political songs. "It was not anything for entertainment. It was almost like your prayer time, if you like," Mange says. "It was a time when we started remembering why we were where we were and what lay ahead. And it was the kind of food we needed to sustain us during the hard times." During the '80s, South African acts like O'Yaba and Johnny Klegg recorded political reggae tunes and Lucky Dube would become the first African reggae artist to perform in Jamaica. Lucky Dube released 22 albums in three languages. Meanwhile, his daughter, Nkulee, has toured four continents and released her debut album, My Way, in 2011. "When they heard that I was going to release an album, everyone was like, 'You're gonna do reggae like your dad,' " she says. "Obviously I am gonna keep my dad's roots and my dad's teachings. I am part of that reggae history. So that album is just saying, 'Yes, I am. But I am doing it my way and I can do whatever I want, so don't put me in the same box as my dad.'" Nkulee Dube's career started at age 16 — in dance. She toured as a backup dancer with the risqué Afropop star Lebo Mathosa, a woman who made it in the male-dominated South African industry. Mathosa heard Dube singing and invited her onstage one night. Afterward, she took the teenager under her wing. "She created who Nkulee Dube is onstage," Dube says. "Because I would look at her on stage and she would say, 'Do you see what I did there? I moved from that corner to that corner because there's people all around the stage, so you have to perform for each and every person.' " That was more than Dube got from her father at first. She did not grow up with him, though her mother told her who he was. She waited until she was 18 years old to knock on his studio door. "And he's like, 'Who are you?' I was like, 'Nkulee,' " she says. "He said, 'No, who are you?' I said, 'Nkulee, why?' And he said, 'What are you doing here? Sit down.' I was like, 'I'm your daughter.' And he said, 'I knew it!' " Their relationship took off from there — in and out of the studio. They recorded still-unreleased duets, and Nkulee got schooled in writing music. "He would say, 'Whenever you write, have depth,' " she says. " 'Let's say it's a love song. Don't just say hey, I love you. Go deeper than that.' " And in that depth, a legacy lives on. http://www.npr.org/2013/03/30/175583890/in-south-africa-a-reggae-legacy-lives-on
BrightSpotsYum! SA’s fabulous food festivals18 March 2013
From cheese to cherries, from Kiwi-fruit to koeksusters, there’s something on the menu for food-lovers of all tastes at South Africa’s annual food festivals. Here’s an appetiser by Andrea Fedder, for yuppiechef.co.za In a country with such plentiful natural bounty, from internationally acclaimed wine to fantastic fruits and fresh fish, we can understand why food festivals are an ever-expanding trend. Here’s our selection of some of the best food festivals SA has to offer. Which festival is on your foodie bucket list? South African Cheese Festival When: 26-28 April 2013 Where: Stellenbosch, Western Cape Say cheese, if you please. For friends of the great fromage, the South African Cheese festival is for you. Sample more than 200 different cheeses accompanied by other fancy delectables while meeting the passionate cheese masters from around the country who prepare their cheeses with the utmost care and patience. You may even change your perception of cheese, from a humble snack to a gourmet experience. http://www.cheesefestival.co.za/ Prince Albert Town and Olive Festival When: 27-28 April 2013 Where: Prince Albert, Western Cape Come through to the serene and majestic town that is Prince Albert to celebrate the outdoors with a feast and festivity. The Prince Albert Town and Olive Festival is alive with games and activities, unusual shops, arts and crafts. Browse art galleries and gardens or sit and listen for a moment to local storytellers who entertain with tales, fables and legends from the past. Watch the fire dancers, stroll around the beautiful flower displays and participate in the Miss and Master Olive pageant. Local food will be on sale such as organic vegetables, Karoo lamb and fruit and, of course, olives and olive oils – all to be enjoyed, wine glass in hand or even on a tour of the dairy farm where award-winning cheeses are made. http://www.sa-venues.com/events/westerncape/prince-albert-town-and-olive-festival/ Kiwi Festival When: 27-28 April 2013 Where: Haenertsburg, Limpopo Like the kiwi fruit? You’ll love this festival. Celebrate the succulent green fruit in the quaint village of Haenertsburg. Take part in guided tours of the kiwi fruit farm, enjoy tastings and informative talks discussing the origin and history of this green little gem. They even hold cooking competitons where participants need to use kiwi fruit in their dish. Tours of other local farms such as the raspberry farm are also open to the public, where you can take your pickof the fruit while the local market showcases kiwi-based delicacies and jams. Kids entertainment is also aplenty, so bring them along. http://www.sa-venues.com/events/limpopo/kiwi-festival/ Cook Franschhoek When: 14-16 June 2013 Where: Franschhoek, Western Cape Food and wine enthusiasts join some of the valley’s highly acclaimed chefs and winemakers as they give hands-on demonstrations. Each demonstration caters for between 8 and 30 people in order to focus on exclusivity and personal engagement. Most of the demonstrations also include a 3-course meal paired with wines. If learning to make sushi from an expert who lived in Japan for 15 years or mastering the art of making a perfect risotto sounds like a fabulous foodie vacation, then this festival is where you want to go. http://www.cookfranschhoek.co.za/ Knysna Oyster Festival When: 28 June -7 July 2013 Where: Knysna, Western Cape This one is a national attraction – it’s the country’s longest-running sports and lifestyle festival. From marathons to adventure racing and great parties, the Knysna Oyster Festival has people coming back year after year. There are plenty of activities to get kids involved while you enjoy oysters and perhaps a glass of bubbly. Oyster-related events include oyster shucking and even an oyster eating competition, as well as the oyster and wine Mardi Gras. http://www.oysterfestival.co.za/ Ficksburg Cherry Festival When: 21-23 November 2013 Where: Ficksburg, Eastern Free State Come join in the fun at the oldest crop festival in South Africa, held annually during the third week in November. Situated in the scenic Eastern Free State, Ficksburg lies on the banks of the Caledon River showing off magnificent views where you can participate in activities such as cherry tours, golf, marathon, competitions and the like. Aside from the ample food and wine stalls to explore, you can even take part in a cherry baking competition. Live entertainment is always on the agenda and the festival is usually hosted by a national celebrity. Nice. http://www.cherryfestival.co.za/ *Before heading to any of these festivals, check the dates and times with the organisers, as they can change from year to year. http://www.yuppiechef.co.za/spatula/sa-food-festivals/BrightLivesJunior philanthropist helps the hungry12 March 2013
With his innovative campaign to combat hunger in schools, this young go-getter is giving his peers and elders plentiful food for thought. By Lucille Davie, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com He's only 12 years old and has already picked up several awards for his philanthropy. He's Jordan van der Walt and his initiative has fed a million hungry tummies in two years. Jordan, a pupil at St John's Preparatory College in Houghton, Johannesburg, started a school feeding campaign called Just One Bag back in March 2011, which has seen 100 tons of South African food staple mealie meal delivered to schools all over the country. It started after calls for the annual Easter egg collection to be made at the school. The donations would be delivered to underprivileged schools. But Jordan had a better idea. Based on a documentary he'd seen stating that three-million children in South Africa go to school hungry each day, he felt that Easter eggs wouldn't make a difference to those children. He suggested to his principal, Patrick Lees, that instead of Easter eggs, perhaps each boy could bring a bag of mealie meal instead. Lees didn't hesitate. Posters went up around the school, reminders were written in diaries, and bulk text messages were sent out. In just a few weeks five tons of meal were collected. Lees then challenged other schools in Johannesburg to join the campaign. By the end of 2011, 50 schools had committed to Just One Bag, 30 of them in Johannesburg, involving 30 000 children. It wasn't long before the big food chains, like Spar and Pick n Pay, got involved, delivering truckloads of meal to the school. Soon truck companies came to the party and distributed the food to schools. "Jordan has the biggest heart and he really cares for everyone. I am so proud of him and we are very honoured to have Jordan at St John's," said Lees. In 2012 the youngster received the Inyathelo Award for Children in Philanthropy, given by the South African Institute for Advancement, a non-profit trust promoting philanthropy. He said when accepting the award: "My project came about because of a feeling that I had in my heart, and when it comes to giving or helping, I believe that feeling is important – it has to come from within. We can think and devise all sorts of nice things to do for people, but if they don't come from the heart, I feel that they are meaningless." Jordan's mother Lynn says he just wanted to show that children can make a difference. "He doesn't understand the big fuss when you are helping children or people with food. How can we award people for giving?" She says Jordan has always been a generous child, giving to those less fortunate at every opportunity. "He is just a very loving, giving person. We are proud of him." In December 2012 he was invited to talk to the University of Free State's medical graduates by its distinguished vice rector Prof Jonathan Jansen. He nervously stood in front of 3 000 students and said: "And so my challenge to you wonderful and talented graduates is to go out into South Africa and serve. Do it from the heart because you have a feeling inside you that makes you want to serve. Don't do it for me, don't do it for anyone else, do it for yourself because your heart tells you to." He told them not to think that because they were now doctors, their role was to "become rich, drive fancy cars and live in big houses". Instead they should be thinking differently about being a doctor. "The only way that you are going to enjoy it and live a fulfilling life is if you want to take on the profession for the right reasons and you do it with your heart." On the future of the campaign, Jordan says he wants "more children to help children". His main ambition is to become a lawyer, but also to play sport. http://bit.ly/12wDfb4BrightListsHow to be the boss of all time04 March 2013
Do you find you’re constantly running out of time to do the little things in life, never mind the big things? Try these time-management tips from business coach Ann Mehl. Via Entrepreneur.com Recently, in my work as a business coach, I was asked to give a presentation on the subject of "productivity and time management." In order to prepare for this, I polled a number of friends and colleagues - ordinary people whose work styles I admired - on their individual work habits. Nobody I spoke to felt like they had enough time. It's as if we've all become the proverbial "plate spinners," those talented jugglers rushing from plate to plate in order to keep each one spinning in the air. Based on my interviews, there were a number of themes that emerged from those who managed to successfully juggle their many labours. Here, in condensed form, I offer you these 12 time management "principles" in hopes that some of them may also be useful to you. 1. Spinach first. Your mom was right. Always tackle the most difficult task on your plate first thing in the morning when your energy and concentration level is at its highest. Get to the hard stuff as early as you can. The longer you put it off in favour of easier, lower priority matters, the bigger that mound gets (and the worse it tastes). Keep the main thing the main thing. 2. Think sprint, not marathon. We are not designed to "park it" at a desk for eight hours at a stretch and get all of our work done. Short, uninterrupted bursts of concentration are the key to knocking out good work. Get a kitchen timer, or stopwatch. Set it for 45 or 60 minutes, and don't top until you hear the buzzer. You'd be amazed at what you can accomplish in one good uninterrupted hour. 3. Be selfish. Once you have prioritised your to-do list, you must put that ahead of all others' lists. When you are able to get your own work done, you are in a much better position to support others with their projects. But your work comes first. Always. 4. Date stamp your expectation. Whenever you request a deliverable from someone, do not simply ask for it, but also inquire when you can expect to receive it. Things tend to happen much faster when there is an explicit deadline. Similarly, if someone asks something from you, ask them when they need it by. Then write it in a calendar. 5. Touch it once. With the never-ending onslaught of email, it's crucial that you have a good filing system in place. My rule is "read it once" - then decide what to do with the information, then do it. Same thing with other incoming requests. Touch it once, do something with it, then let it go. 6. Group “like” items. Organise your week into specific days for similar tasks with allotted timeframes. For example, on Mondays and Wednesdays, focus on face time -- seeing clients, making sales, etc. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, reserve the time for writing, emailing or working on strategy. Friday morning is for overflow and Friday afternoon is free. Knowing what your week looks like in advance makes it easier to be in the right mindset when the time comes. 7. Face time saves time. Don't try to figure out what someone meant in a confusing email; go straight to the source and ask. This saves on time, energy and mistakes. Asking for, and giving, clear communication is key. 8. Delegate. Learn to delegate more of the work. When you actually do this, you'll notice how your role and work output will transition to the next level. Know what parts you do well yourself, and then give to someone else whatever parts you feel do not play to your strengths. Then let go. 9. Track it. If you can't figure out where the week went, it's time to take a closer look at it. Track your time hour-by-hour for one week: everything that you're doing from the time you get up until you go to bed. This is sobering! You'll likely see where the holes in your calendar are. You may find that you need to rearrange your life (and calendar) accordingly. 10. Move it. With so much head work, we can often neglect our bodies (without which our heads do not work). Regular vigorous exercise will help you blow off steam, give you more energy, greater concentration and a better night's sleep. Not a bad return! 11. Slow down to speed up. Sometimes we need to slow it right down in order to get good work done. By minimising distractions, and focusing carefully on one task at a time, we can actually speed up our overall work rate. Mono-tasking is the way. 12. Lighten up. Nothing is so serious that we cannot laugh about it. One good belly laugh each day is essential for defusing tension, and yes, getting our work done. Work is work, but that doesn't mean we can't have a laugh once in a while. Even at our own expense. Even when the chips are down. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224104
BrightLivesMeet Nelspruit’s teenage golf sensation04 March 2013
Cool and calm under pressure, Thriston Lawrence is poised to make history on the championship circuit, reports Sports24 At 16 years, two months and 26 days, Mpumalanga teenager Thriston Lawrence became the youngest champion of the South African Open Championship in the 106 year history of the event at Country Club Johannesburg. Playing with the steadfast persistence of a man many years his senior, the Nelspruit golfer fought his way into the records books with an emphatic 9-and-8 victory over Southern Cape’s Andrew Light. "You know, I didn’t have any expectations when I arrived here at the start of the week," Lawrence said. "I just wanted to gain experience. If I did well, it would have been a bonus." Lawrence not only bettered the previous youngest player record set by Desvonde Botes in 1991 by just over two months, but his winning margin was the biggest since Ettienne Groenewald lifted the trophy at Royal Johannesburg in 1980 with the same result. Demonstrating maturity well beyond his years, Lawrence stuck to a well-laid game plan of keeping the ball in play and relied on a red-hot short game to win the 36-hole final in his SA Amateur debut. The teenager took charge at the par-four 11th after Light bogeyed the hole and never took his foot off the gas again. After the first 18 holes, Lawrence was five up and extended his lead to nine after 27 holes. At his second visit to the par-four 10th, Lawrence’s approach pitched just off the front edge of the green. He chipped it to just inside a foot, leaving Light under pressure to hole out from the edge of the green to extend the match. However, the 23-year-old’s putt came up short and Lawrence could finally celebrate a larger-than-life performance. "I knew what I had to do to give myself a chance and I’m really proud of how I was able to stay calm and keep my focus going," Lawrence said. "I didn’t get ahead of myself. The first time I thought I could actually win this was when I got to the seventh and I was eight ahead." Lawrence said it was still all too much to take in. "Knowing that my name will go into the history books with Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen...wow, that’s incredible," he said. "I can’t get my head around it." The young golfer rose to prominence when he first represented Mpumalanga at the SA Junior Inter-Provincial at the age of 13 and won the SA Boys Under-14 Stroke Play, but he warranted serious attention when he claimed the SA Boys U-19 Match Play Championship at Katberg last year. Lawrence was only 15 when he made the Mpumalanga team for last year’s South African Inter-Provincial, where he underlined his growing stature as the team’s second most valued player. After winning a Junior Order of Merit in January, the young gun wet his feet on the senior circuit with a tie for 10th in his South African Stroke Play debut. Lawrence said he will campaign on the junior and senior circuits this year and hoped to win a national amateur championship. If he can get into and maintain a top five ranking, a pro tour could be on the cards next year. "We’ll take it step by step," said dad Steven, who did bag-duty all week and was happy to have his heart-rate return to normal after his son’s historic triumph. "Thriston is very composed, very calm and great under pressure. He is certainly mature enough to turn pro next year, but first we are looking for consistency and top five finishes. If he gets that, we’ll talk about the pro circuit."BrightLivesSA’s bright new internet sock-star26 February 2013
Meet the South African high-tech entrepreneur who is socking it to the Internet. By Rob Boffard, The Guardian "You're off your rocker." That was the response Nic Haralambous got when he tried to find a manufacturer for his designer sock business. And on the surface, they were right. Haralambous, 28, is a South African tech entrepreneur who has just sold his latest company, Motribe, to instant messaging giant Mxit for an undisclosed sum. But until recently, he knew nothing about the fashion industry. And besides, manufacturers said, no-one will pay R99 for a pair of coloured socks. But Haralambous is persistent. He finally found a manufacturer who would make him some samples. He put photos of the socks online. A month later, NicSocks had sold over 1,000 pairs, not just in South Africa, but to customers as far afield as the US and France. The company sells limited-edition socks with colourful geometric designs, either as one-off buys, or by subscription – those who sign up get two pairs every two months. The socks are made from bamboo, because Haralambous wants his socks be environmentally friendly and entirely made from local materials. Haralambous had long since discovered that his penchant for wearing colourful socks was a good conversation-starter at investment meetings. "I've been wearing a brand called Happysocks for three years. When I was pitching to investors it became my thing: the sock guy. A little business trick I used to get people to remember me." And so, while Haralambous was sitting at home waiting for the Motribe deal to be finalised, he started thinking about how expensive designer socks were – brands such as Paul Smith and Ben Sherman retail in South Africa for close to R600. And he thought: I can do better. "On my website, I call my designs foundations," says Haralambous. "I believe socks are the foundation of the style that men choose to wear." There's a rich history of colourful socks in fashion, going all the way back to 18th-century dandies, whose delicate, embroidered socks were a crucial part of their outfits. "Socks, like underwear, are an essential part of a man's wardrobe," says Max Berlinger, the contributing style editor for Esquire.com. Designer socks-by-subscription is not a new idea. Companies such as Blacksocks, Sock Rush and many others have been doing it for years. But Haralambous's company is the first subscription sock company in Africa. Haralambous says: "I think the fashion industry in South Africa is very used to doing things in a specific way, with specific people turning out specific designs. They are complacent, and they need to be disrupted. The online space is going to disrupt the fashion industry in South Africa, even if it takes five years. I'm getting in early enough so I'm the leading disrupter." http://www.guardian.co.uk/fashion/fashion-blog/2013/feb/21/socks-subscription-south-african-fashionBrightIdeasThe camera that records your day18 February 2013
This tiny wearable device will make sure that you can go back and remember everything you see Life is made up of moments. Some of them are memorable, some of them are magical, and some, well, you’d rather forget. But what if there was a way to automatically record these moments as you go about your life, stockpiling them for editing, scrapbooking, and future reminiscing? The perpetual digital “life-logging” device has long been a staple of science fiction, but now comes a tiny new camera that will make that vision come true. The Memoto, designed by a Swedish startup, clips to your shirt like a pendant, and snaps a high-resolution, 5-megapixel image of the world as you see it, every 30 seconds. It has no buttons or settings, and the battery last for up to two days, so the idea is that you won’t even realise you’re wearing it. The images are automatically uploaded to servers in the cloud, tagged with the date, time, and location, for your later perusal. If this level of hyper-vigilance sounds a little too Orwellian for comfort, the good news is that you can stop the Memoto from snapping away by removing it from your person and laying it flat. As co-founder Martin Källström explains, the device was originally intended as an easy, hands-free way for parents to ensure that they don’t miss those little milestones - first word, first step, first tooth - that can happen too quickly to be documented. With the Memoto, you’ll have a memento in seconds, allowing you to retrieve the memories that may otherwise have passed you by. The Memoto will retail for about $280, and will be available in the US later this year.
BrightIdeasWhy faxing is still big in Japan18 February 2013
The squeal of a fax machine may be something of a quaint sound these days, but in one of the world’s most high-tech societies, it’s still a sound you’ll hear a lot. Here’s why. By David McNeill, The Independent While much of the developed world has decamped online, millions of Japanese still prefer to send documents by fax, according to new government figures. The study reveals fax machines are almost universal in Japanese companies, while nearly half of homes also have one. Last year, 1.7 million of the machines were sold to Japanese customers, partly to replace those lost in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Japan was quick to embrace fax technology in the 1980s because it meant offices could write characters from the complex writing system on paper – Japan uses three separate alphabets and about 2,000 Chinese-derived characters. Culture plays a part too: many Japanese still prefer hand-written over typed documents. “It’s considered a warmer, more personal touch,” says Atsushi Nakagawa, who runs a small import business. CVs, for example, are often written by hand, he explains. But Japan’s affection for the fax is also partly about its love of a solid paper trail, explains Akiko Suzaki, spokeswoman for NTT Communications, one of the world’s largest telecom firms. “We mainly use email and temp files for business too, but we still use fax in some situations – like sending or accepting estimates, or sending copies of drivers’ licences.” Banks, insurance companies, real estate offices and even supermarkets still widely accept faxes, stamped with the customers’ all-important hanko, or personal seal. Smaller businesses in Japan are simply not used to emailing temp files or scanned documents and tend to fall back on the dusty facsimile, adds Ms Suzaki. Japan has clung to the fax as its population has aged. More than a third of the population is over 65 and many pensioners have never used the internet. In an effort to bridge the gap between the fax and smartphones, NTT has begun offering new services. One allows a PC or mobile phone to send faxes over the internet using an internet protocol telephone number. The service can be reversed to allow pensioners to send messages from faxes to mobile phones. Will efaxes finally wean millions of Japanese off their clunky machines? Perhaps, says Mr Nakagawa – but don’t hold your breath. “People value written communication very highly in his country. I don’t think the fax is going away any time soon.” http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/the-joy-of-fax-why-japan-refuses-to-enter-the-21st-century-8495868.htmlBrightSpotsGo farming in the heart of Cape Town18 February 2013
With a bold new urban farming project, the Mother City is going all the way back to its roots, while looking forward to a greener future. By Maciek Dubla, for Visi Urban or city farms aren’t a new concept. You can find them on rooftops in Bangkok, San Francisco and London, in numerous neighbourhoods around the US and along busy railway lines in Australia. In South Africa, the idea of urban farming has taken some time to take root and grow, but it’s about to gain momentum with the development of the Oranjezicht City Farm (OZCF) – the first in a project that will hopefully grow into 20 city farms throughout Cape Town. Sheryl Ozinsky, one of the project champions, meets me onsite at the farm, located between Sidmouth Avenue and Upper Orange Street. While still being laid out, the basic design is in place and the beds are being sown with vegetable seeds by one of the farmers, Johannes, an ex-miner from Limpopo. Local residents hatched the idea of the project some years ago, but Sheryl’s passion for the OZCF is still strong. “We have an ambitious vision, but when you plant a seed and the community nurtures and waters it, then you can do anything,” she explains while overlooking the farm. “It’s going to take partnerships, sweat, dirty boots and green fingers, but worthwhile it is.” The OZCF is a non-profit project that aims to celebrate both food and community. Using the tagline “From Bowling Green to Bowl of Greens”, the site of the OZCF comprises part of the original “Oranje Zigt Farm” established in 1709, making it one of many heritage sites around Cape Town. Through education, design and vegetable gardening, the project hopes that it will act as a catalyst for skills development, education about food and environmental issues, and a showcase for what can be done with unused or under-utilised public green spaces in the city. Most importantly for Sheryl, the OZCF is about building social cohesion, and reconnecting the residents of this suburb and, in time, other suburbs and its communities. “This is about building relationships between people from all parts of this beautiful city. That’s the beauty of something like this,” she says distracted by the view of the city just past the farm and a friggot in harbour. “It’s a catalyst for relationship building, nutrition, health, treading lightly on the planet and seeing that there is another way to be in the world. It’s about neighbours meeting for the first time while bending over to plant a Moroccan mint – how wonderful is that?” The design of the OZCF reflects its context in time. Mark Stead of Derrick Integrated Communication and Tanya de Villiers of CNdV Africa played a key role in ensuring that the farm was inspired by its existing context – a 16th-century Dutch garden. Looking to the Dutch East India Company markings and symbols for inspiration, they found the diamond shape that runs as a thread through the project, from the logo to the centrepiece of the farm. The vegetable beds will be protected from the wind by hedges of herbs including thyme, lavender and rosemary, and they hope to tap into the fresh water springs that run through the area to irrigate the plants. Walking along the pathways, Sheryl explains that this is only a pilot project; each community is different. “We may have found what works for Oranjezicht, but each community is different and what works here, may not work somewhere else.” They have already been approached by the Bo-Kaap and Three Anchor Bay to start farms in those areas. “Passion and enthusiasm are important ingredients,” Sheryl smiles. “If that is available in tons and mixed with a bit of compost, one can make miracles.” http://www.visi.co.za/article/index/tags/gallery_image_id/12715BrightLists9 daily habits that will make you happier11 February 2013
These minor changes in your daily routine will make a major difference in your life and career. By Geoffrey James, Inc. Happiness is the only true measure of personal success. Making other people happy is the highest expression of success, but it's almost impossible to make others happy if you're not happy yourself. With that in mind, here are nine small changes that you can make to your daily routine that, if you're like most people, will immediately increase the amount of happiness in your life: 1. Start each day with expectation. If there's any big truth about life, it's that it usually lives up to (or down to) your expectations. Therefore, when you rise from bed, make your first thought: "something wonderful is going to happen today." Guess what? You're probably right. 2. Take time to plan and prioritise. The most common source of stress is the perception that you've got too much work to do. Rather than obsess about it, pick one thing that, if you get it done today, will move you closer to your highest goal and purpose in life. Then do that first. 3. Give a gift to everyone you meet. I'm not talking about a formal, wrapped-up present. Your gift can be your smile, a word of thanks or encouragement, a gesture of politeness, even a friendly nod. And never pass beggars without leaving them something. Peace of mind is worth the spare change. 4. Deflect partisan conversations. Arguments about politics and religion never have a "right" answer but they definitely get people all riled up over things they can't control. When such topics surface, bow out by saying something like: "Thinking about that stuff makes my head hurt." 5. Assume people have good intentions. Since you can't read minds, you don't really know the "why" behind the "what" that people do. Imputing evil motives to other people's weird behaviours adds extra misery to life, while assuming good intentions leaves you open to reconciliation. 6. Eat high quality food slowly. Sometimes we can't avoid scarfing something quick to keep us up and running. Even so, at least once a day try to eat something really delicious, like a small chunk of fine cheese or an imported chocolate. Focus on it; taste it; savour it. 7. Let go of your results. The big enemy of happiness is worry, which comes from focusing on events that are outside your control. Once you've taken action, there's usually nothing more you can do. Focus on the job at hand rather than some weird fantasy of what might happen. 8. Turn off "background" TV. Many households leave their TVs on as "background noise" while they're doing other things. The entire point of broadcast TV is to make you dissatisfied with your life so that you'll buy more stuff. Why subliminally program yourself to be a mindless consumer? 9. End each day with gratitude. Just before you go to bed, write down at least one wonderful thing that happened. It might be something as small as a making a child laugh or something as huge as a million dollar deal. Whatever it is, be grateful for that day because it will never come again. http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/9-daily-habits-that-will-make-you-happier.html?nav=pop
BrightStuffPick up the phone and call someone already!11 February 2013
In an age of instant email communication, we’re missing out on the wonders of a device we’ve almost forgotten…the telephone. By Dan Pallotta, Harvard Business Review You won't believe this. There's a technological marvel that, instead of forcing you to communicate with others in writing, actually allows you to hear other people's voices and words — you can even hear the tone and volume of their voices! And wonder of wonders, they can hear you! Across any distance! It's incredible! Not many people use the device today, but it's truly in a class by itself for productive communication. Please pardon the sarcasm, but the way people shun the telephone these days is getting ridiculous. You used to be able to just call people. You didn't have to be on someone's calendar to have a phone conversation. The telephone was an important and valuable domain of communication, both for casual, friendly chats and for professional exchanges of ideas and information. But no more. It's considered annoying — lame, even — to pick up the phone and call someone without a prior appointment. It's too friendly. Too intrusive. If you did, you'd be considered a professional misfit. So instead, you send an e-mail to set up an appointment for the phone call. About six or seven e-mails, actually. More words pass back and forth in the setting up of the call than are required for the communication for which the call itself is intended. And if each of you has an assistant, all this multiplies. Much worse than the inefficiency of using e-mail to set up phone calls are the missed opportunities and unnecessary misunderstandings that come when we use e-mail instead of phone calls. That happens far more often than is prudent. We use e-mail to avoid conflict. We use it to avoid feeling uncomfortable. To overcome shyness, inferiority complexes, doubts, apprehensions, and all manner of other psychological and emotional problems. In business, we use it to overcome our fear of selling. To make sure we're never caught off guard or put on the spot. Because it's just too much trouble to get up and walk two cubes over to ask a question in person. And we have convinced ourselves that this is all more advanced, more expedient, more productive. But to the degree to which e-mail allows us to avoid authentic communication or persuasive communication — and robs us of the ability to get better at either or both — there's nothing efficient or productive about it. I won't go on about how e-mail messages can be misinterpreted — we've all read way too many blog posts about that. But even those posts assume a context in which the telephone doesn't exist. They preach about being more sensitive to the way we write the e-mails, using emoticons, or rereading messages before we send them to scan for anything that could be taken amiss. Those posts never advise us to just pick up the phone and call the person. Doing so would eliminate the possibility of misconstrued text for sure, but it's never in the e-mail tips lists. And as we strive relentlessly for efficiency, we leave no room for life — for the little things that balance out our day and put our business into a larger perspective of existence. There's no room for other human beings who have colour in their voices and nuanced thoughts that typography cannot convey. It has been said that love is a function of communication. I believe that to be true. I believe, by extension, that human understanding is a function of communication. And the better human beings understand one another, the higher the level of functioning. The overuse of e-mail as an alternative to a call creates emotional distance. In advertising, it is said that the medium is the message. In this case, the medium is e-mail and the message is "I don't actually want to talk to you." There is an unintended lack of civility, humanity, and friendliness to it all. A powerful side effect of this reduction in phone conversation is the near total elimination of the impromptu personal meeting. When I was a kid my grandfather would stop by our house unannounced for a cup of coffee. We'd have great conversations. That rarely happens in life anymore. It never happens in business. We've sucked all the spontaneity out of the workday, so we're forced to buy foosball tables and study "play" to get people into a mood where they can have a spontaneous creative thought. If you want to be innovative today, if you want to take a risk, if you want to exercise your courage, try calling someone with whom you have an issue to discuss. Do it without an appointment. Just call them up and have a conversation. And when your phone rings, pick it up. Open yourself up to the possibility a phone call offers. Discover this remarkable device called the telephone. It will give you a serious competitive advantage. http://blogs.hbr.org/pallotta/2013/02/just-call-someone-already.htmlBrightLivesA helium-balloon flight04 February 2013
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a man with a dream…and 100 helium balloons to make it all come true. By Adel Groenewald, Getaway Ever pictured one man flying over the ocean as he hangs onto a massive bunch of party balloons? Well of course you’ve seen the movie where a house is sent a-floating, but funnily enough, Matt Silver-Vallance had the idea first. Or at least that’s what he said at the press launch for the Robben Island Balloon Run, said to take place somewhere between 1 and 27 April. You could imagine that a stunt like this is rather dependent on the weather and hard to pin to a specific date. Matt is planning to tie himself to 200 helium-filled balloons and fly from Robben Island to Cape Town, all for the sake of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. He used to be a volunteer paramedic and, as he said himself, ‘proper medical care for our children is something very close to my heart’. His plan is to raise R10 million for the building of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in Johannesburg. The hospital will supply medical care to children across southern Africa. Luckily, Matt isn’t planning to tackle this rather daring, yet very fairytale-like, adventure on his own. He has a team of about 60 people who are, and will be, helping him with the planning and execution. The team at eNews will be supplying him with detailed weather reports so that Mike Howard, his operations manager and the record holder for the highest cluster-ballooning flight, can give the word go. The wind should be very light on ground level, blow in the right direction, and be strong enough at 600 metres above ground to carry Matt from the island back to the mainland. Since these waters are shark infested, Matt will certainly need someone down there to help break his (possible) fall as well. For that he has a boat crew who will follow in the water, medics and 10 open water swimmers who will start swimming from Robben Island three hours before Matt’s flight in order to catch him when he lands on the mainland. When all of these are in place, Matt will be strapped to a paragliding harness, which will be attached to approximately 200 four-foot diameter helium-inflated balloons. His ascent and descent will be controlled by either jettisoning ballast or deflating a balloon. The inflating of the balloons will start at around midnight so that Matt can take flight just as the sun rises. This is not only for the sake of some epic photographs, but because the conditions should be as close to perfect as they can be at this time. International rugby players from around the world have also come to the party to support Matt in his endeavour to raise funds for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. Jean de Villiers, captain of the South African rugby team, along with both New Zealand and Australian captains, has donated his rugby jersey to the cause. These jerseys, which include the Springbok Captain’s inaugural jersey from the Rugby Championship, will be raffled off to raise additional funds. This symbolic gesture of support follows the famous post 1995 Rugby World Cup match gesture of solidarity between Mr Nelson Mandela and the then Springbok Captain Francois Pienaar. “I think Matt’s crazy,” comments de Villiers with a laugh, “But it’s a great initiative and it’s for a good cause, so hopefully everything will go well and he’ll firstly raise the funds and also get there safely.” The Balloon Run is further supported by BMW, Afrox, Castrol, the Mount Nelson Hotel, Google SA and Rent Shield. Some of these will be running exciting competitions during the build-up to the event, so keep your eyes open for that. To follow Matt and his team and stay up to date with the planning stages or donate to the cause, you can follow Matt on Twitter (@balloonbloke), like the Robben Island Balloon Run Facebook Page or visit www.balloonrun.com. http://blog.getaway.co.za/travel-news/robben-island-balloon-run/BrightStuffWhat Richard Branson’s mom taught him about life04 February 2013
Behind one of the world’s leading entrepreneurs, stands a warm and caring mom who takes no nonsense. Via Entrepreneur.com I’m often asked who my biggest inspiration is, and who has had the most profound influence on my business life. Like most people, I answer: my mother. My mother, Eve Branson, has always been known for her incredible energy. As a girl she loved sports and dancing, and she was very outgoing. During WWII she worked for the Navy, and afterward became a stewardess, back when the job involved making sure that all the passengers were wearing oxygen masks on particularly high-altitude flights. After she met my father, Edward Branson, a barrister, they settled in a small village in the English countryside. They were both generous with their time, energy and love, providing me with opportunities to succeed, along with a lot of freedom. I hope that the Virgin brand reflects the values they taught me. Of all the lessons they imparted when I was growing up, these five from my mother really stand out. 1. No regrets I’m often flabbergasted by the amount of time some people waste dwelling on their past failures, rather than directing that energy into new projects. My mother always taught me never to look back in regret, but to immediately move on to the next thing. Our family budget was fairly tight when I was growing up, and I was always fascinated by her money-making projects, which were often craft-based, like building and selling wooden tissue boxes and wastepaper bins. If an item didn’t sell, she tried something else. Her activities inspired some of my first ideas, like breeding budgerigars and growing and selling Christmas trees. Both of those businesses failed: Since I went to a boarding school, I couldn’t take care of the birds, and rabbits ate the tree seedlings. But Mum had showed me that a setback is just another of life’s lessons, so I quickly moved on to other projects, following her example. 2. Learn to survive – fast There is a rather well-known story about Mum stopping the car on the way home from a shopping trip and telling me to find my own way home – about 3 miles through the countryside, and I was somewhere around 5 years old. She was punishing me for causing mischief in the back seat, but she was also teaching me a larger lesson about overcoming my disabling shyness and learning to ask others for directions. I got horribly lost, but eventually a neighbouring farmer helped me to reach home. The experience made me learn to find the grit to overcome what may seem like overwhelming obstacles. This has been a key principle in my business life. In a company’s first year, your goal should be simply to survive, and this will likely take everything you’ve got. No matter how tired or afraid you are, you have to figure out how to keep going. 3. Put others first There was always a focus on teamwork in our home – working in the garden, helping to prepare meals, cleaning up. I have two younger sisters, Lindi and Vanessa, and Mum always kept the three of us working hard. It certainly instilled a very healthy work ethic in me, as many of my staff would point out! If we tried to escape chores, she would explain how selfish that was by describing the effect on everyone else in our family. We were a team, and we had to be confident that we could rely on each other. This has always informed my business philosophy: People are the most important part of any company. 4. Keep your feet on the ground When you start to become relatively well known, it can be easy to get carried away with your successes. It can be especially hard to keep your head out of the clouds if you own a few airlines and have a taste for flying hot air balloons. But Mum has always kept my feet firmly on the ground – metaphorically at least – partly because she knows me so well, and so she does not believe all the press. She has rarely praised me in public; I was surprised but pleased when she admitted in a CNBC interview last year that she was proud of me, particularly of my charitable work. But she has always given me quiet, constant encouragement. Everyone in my family shows each other a lot of love, which is far more important than anything else. 5. Every day is a fresh chance to achieve something new Mum has always seen every day as a fresh chance to achieve something new, fun and exciting. Even today, she is incredibly active, working very hard on all manner of projects – right now she is working on a memoir, and she recently published a children’s book. We still have to fit our schedules around her plans. Mum is always looking ahead, focused on trying to improve things and bring about positive change. Following her example, I am always focused firmly on the future too. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225527
Brightlists10 things you might not know about love04 February 2013
There’s more to love than Cupid and his little arrows, reveals Barabra Fredrickson. Via CNN. Barbara has written a ground-breaking new book about the science at the heart of the emotion that makes the world go round. Via CNN. 1. It can be hard to talk about love in scientific terms because people have strong pre-existing ideas about it. The vision of love that emerges from the latest science requires a radical shift. I learned that I need to ask people to step back from their current views of love long enough to consider it from a different perspective: their body's perspective. The radical shift we need to make is this. Love, as your body experiences it, is a micro-moment of connection shared with another. 2. Love is not exclusive. We tend to think of love in the same breath as loved ones. When you take these to be only your innermost circle of family and friends, you inadvertently and severely constrain your opportunities for health, growth and well-being. In reality, you can experience micro-moments of connection with anyone - whether your soul mate or a stranger. So long as you feel safe and can forge the right kind of connection, the conditions for experiencing the emotion of love are in place. 3. Love doesn't belong to one person. We tend to think of emotions as private events, confined to one person's mind and skin. Upgrading our view of love defies this logic. Evidence suggests that when you really "click" with someone else, a discernible yet momentary synchrony emerges between the two of you, as your gestures and biochemistries, even your respective neural firings, come to mirror one another in a pattern I call positivity resonance. Love is a biological wave of good feeling and mutual care that rolls through two or more brains and bodies at once. 4. Making eye contact is a key gateway for love. Your body has the built-in ability to "catch" the emotions of those around you, making your prospects for love nearly limitless. As hopeful as this sounds, I also learned that you can thwart this natural ability if you don't make eye contact with the other person. Meeting eyes is a key gatekeeper to neural synchrony. 5. Love fortifies the connection between your brain and your heart, making you healthier. Decades of research show that people who are more socially connected live longer and healthier lives. Yet precisely how social ties affect health has remained one of the great mysteries of science. My research team and I recently learned that when we randomly assign one group of people to learn ways to create more micro-moments of love in daily live, we lastingly improve the function of the vagus nerve, a key conduit that connects your brain to your heart. This discovery provides a new window into how micro-moments of love serve as nutrients for your health. 6. Your immune cells reflect your past experiences of love. Too often, you get the message that your future prospects hinge on your DNA. Yet the ways that your genes get expressed at the cellular level depends mightily on many factors, including whether you consider yourself to be socially connected or chronically lonely. My team is now investigating the cellular effects of love, testing whether people who build more micro-moments of love in daily life also build healthier immune cells. 7. Small emotional moments can have disproportionately large biological effects. It can seem surprising that an experience that lasts just a micro-moment can have any lasting effect on your health and longevity. Yet I learned that there's an important feedback loop at work here, an upward spiral between your social and your physical well-being. That is, your micro-moments of love not only make you healthier, but being healthier builds your capacity for love. Little by little, love begets love by improving your health. And health begets health by improving your capacity for love. 8. Don't take a loving marriage for granted. I used to uphold love as that constant, steady force that all but defines my marriage. While that constant, steady force still exists, I now see our bond as a product of the many micro-moments of “positivity resonance” that my husband and I have shared over the years. This shakes me out of any complacency that tempts me to take our love for granted. Love is something we should re-cultivate every single day. 9. Love and compassion can be one and the same. If we re-imagine love as micro-moments of shared positivity, it can seem like love requires that you always feel happy. I learned that this isn't true. You can experience a micro-moment of love even as you or the person with whom you connect suffers. Love doesn't require that you ignore or suppress negativity. It simply requires that some element of kindness, empathy or appreciation be added to the mix. Compassion is the form love takes when suffering occurs. 10. Simply upgrading your view of love changes your capacity for it. The latest science offers new lenses through which to see your every interaction. One of the most hopeful things I learned is that when people take just a minute or so each day to think about whether they felt connected and attuned to others, they initiate a cascade of benefits. And this is something you could start doing today, having learned even just this much more about how love works. Barbara Fredrickson is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of the new book on love. http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/24/health/love-psychology-book/index.html?eref=editionBrightLivesMossel Bay guitar hero plays guitar with a spoon28 January 2013
Oom Hannes Coetzee, from the Klein Karoo, makes sweet music with a teaspoon in his mouth. Now his stirring sounds are being heard around the world. Via Mossel Bay News He is a humble, introverted musician from a small town near Mossel Bay. And now, at the age of 69, a rendition of his song has made it on to an album nominated for a Grammy Award. He is guitarist Hannes Coetzee, from Herbertsdale in the Eden district. His music style is unique – so unique that a song he composed features on US folk band Carolina Chocolate Drops’ album. Coetzee’s song Mahalla went viral on YouTube and in no time the US band heard it and played it themselves. They then included it on their album Leaving Eden last year. Coetzee, 69 plays his battered guitar in a pick-up and pinch style, sliding out the melody with a teaspoon in his mouth. He was one of several guitarists songwriter David Kramer had presented in the show Karoo Kitaar Blues – a concert presenting eccentric guitar styles of a marginalised people from rural areas. Coetzee also featured on Kalahari Karoo Blues, Kramer’s most recent production which showed at the Baxter Theatre last week. “I’m not sure how they (Carolina Chocolate Drops) got Mahalla. Maybe they got it from YouTube. It’s okay for them to use it like that,” Kramer said about Mahalla being included in Leaving Eden. He said royalties for use of Coetzee’s song had already been negotiated with a US record company. “We are hoping it will be a Grammy-winning album. It is not the first time Hannes did well. His song Die Hannetjie en Die Hennetjie was on television,” Kramer said. He was not aware of Coetzee’s style of music elsewhere in the world, Kramer said. “He is the first as far as I’m aware. When I saw it for the first time I immediately saw it as unique. When it went on YouTube everybody was so struck by it,” said Kramer. “We are so proud of him and really happy for him. Hannes used to work in our garden as well as the church’s garden. His music is extraordinary. He played for church bazaars and community functions. On several occasions I took him to play at birthday parties,” said Tokkie Oosthuizen, a dairy farmer from Herbertsdale. He described Coetzee as a well-mannered, kind and humble man who loved his guitar. “He is part of the community and whatever his achievement it will also be recognition of where he comes from,” said Oosthuizen. With the Grammy Awards being held on February 10, excitement was building for the outcome, Kramer said. Carolina Chocolate Drops walked off with a Grammy in 2010 when their album Genuine Negro Jig won best traditional folk music album prize. http://thegremlin.co.za/mossel-bay-news/wordpress/2013/01/23/klein-karoo-guitarist-gets-grammy-fame/BrightLivesMan sets off on seven-year trek out of Africa28 January 2013
Following in the footsteps of humankind’s earliest ancestors, an American journalist has embarked on the trek of a lifetime. Via Live Science, Washington Post Paul Salopek has a long walk ahead of him. The 50-year-old journalist left a small Ethiopian village on foot this month, planning to retrace the steps of humans’ migration from Africa until he gets to Tierra del Fuego, at the southern tip of Chile. The 33,796 kilometre journey — which will cross 30 borders and bring him in contact with dozens of languages and ethnic groups — will take Salopek seven years. By today’s standards, that’s a long time, but the same trek took ancient humans thousands of years. When and how our ancestors dispersed out of Africa has long been controversial, though it is generally believed that they slowly spread into the Middle East about 60,000 years ago, and while some branched off and headed to Europe, others migrated eastward into Asia, crossed a land-ice bridge that once spanned the Bering Strait and travelled down the length of the Western Hemisphere. Other than using a vessel to take him from Russia to Alaska, Salopek will mimic this epic voyage on foot. He started out in Herto Bouri, a village in Ethiopia’s Middle Awash valley, which has the longest and most continuous record of human evolution of any place on Earth. Although he’s using the past as a road map, Salopek has emphasised that his goal is to report on current global stories at a slower pace and from a different perspective than they are usually covered. “Often the places that we fly over or drive through, they aren’t just untold stories, but they are also the connective tissues between the stories of the day,” Salopek told the Associated Press. National Geographic, one of the backers of Salopek’s “Out of Eden” walk, says it will publish his dispatches from the journey. The journalist is carrying just a backpack with some camping equipment and high-tech communications gear, including a lightweight laptop and a GPS device. Salopek told CBC Radio that he is planning to use some social media throughout the walk, though he won’t be microblogging. In his last tweet before starting the trip, Salopek posted a picture of his house keys. “Existential question before a 7-year walk: Take or leave house keys?” he wrote. *You can follow Paul Salopek’s epic trek at http://www.outofedenwalk.com
BrightStuffFitness 2.0: The new rules of fitness for 201328 January 2013
In a world that moves at Internet speed, it’s time to relook at the way we strive to get fit, says lifestyle coach Leo Babauta We’ve entered 2013, and yet most of us think of exercise like it’s 1991. Let’s toss out the old and welcome the new. The old: long sessions of jogging, or marathon sessions on the elliptical machine or treadmill, or working every body part individually on a dozen different weight machines and dumbbell stations, doing circuits in a fitness centre, taking dance-aerobic or kickboxing-aerobic classes. There’s nothing wrong with all that, but it’s not how we live today. Today, we live online, in a world of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest, of Gmail and iPhones. The way we live and think online isn’t at all how we think about fitness. Let’s take a cue from how we actually live and think today, and change up fitness. Let’s rethink things for 2013. The new rules of fitness If we take cues from our online world today, here’s how we’d do fitness (and some of us are already doing it this way): Small. In the world of tweets and SMS messages, long classes or gym workouts or jogging sessions just don’t seem to fit. We don’t have time for all of that. So toss out the workout, and instead think of fitness as small as a tweet. Sprint up a hill after getting off the train or parking your car. Sprint up a flight of stairs as you go into the office. Do some pushups before a meeting. Do some squats after sitting for 30 minutes. Pick up a friend, put him on your shoulders, and carry him for a block. Let’s call it a fitness bit instead of a workout. Social. We rarely do anything online or offline without sharing it, or collaborating with others. So share your fitness bits, or do them with others. Play a sport. Find a place where others are sharing their fitness bits too (it’s probably where you’re already sharing other stuff). Distributed. Everything is out there in the cloud these days, not just on one server but distributed across many. But when we schedule a workout, we schedule it at just one time. So 1990s. Instead, do bits throughout the day, distributed among all the other little tasks you’re doing. Do some yoga sun salutations in the morning, a bit of walking or sprinting on the way to work, some bodyweight exercises at your desk, some basketball or walking/running with friends after work, some chin-ups at home in the evening. It breaks up all the sitting you usually do, which is a good thing. Fun. We do most of our stuff online because it’s fun. So why is fitness so boring to so many people? They’re doing it wrong. If you’ve been doing exercise you hate, find something funner: a sport, playing with your kids, walking or running with a good friend, a new challenge with a group of friends. Open. Let’s toss out the days when companies had proprietary, secret methods for getting you in shape, and you had to hire a trainer to tell you what to do because they had all the knowledge and you didn’t. Instead, let’s share our best methods, learn from each other, improve on each other’s methods and share those. Let’s find a good way, like open-source software has, to collaborate and share our fitness methods. Exportable. These days, the best services allow you to export your data anytime you want, and you can take that data anywhere you want to take it. So let’s do the same with fitness. Instead of having to do your workout at a gym, or a track, or a yoga studio or crossfit gym or some other specific place…be able to take your workout anywhere. You can do bodyweight exercises anywhere, do yoga poses anywhere, do chinups at the playground or on a tree branch, sprint up a hill or some stairs, walk briskly anywhere. Be fluid with your fitness and be able to adapt to wherever you are. Fast. We work with unprecedented speed online these days. If a page takes 10 seconds to load, it’s too slow. That was unimaginable 15 years ago! So let’s get our fitness to move at the same speed: remove all the barriers to doing a fitness bit. Page speed comes when you remove all the heavy stuff from a page or app — so remove the heavy stuff that slows you down before accessing the fitness bit. What are some of the barriers? Having to go to a gym, sign up for a class, get some clothes or equipment. Instead, you should remove anything that keeps you from doing a fitness bit right now, or at any moment you want to do it. Those are the new rules of fitness, and they will keep you active, all the time, if you give them a try. *http://zenhabits.net/fit13/BrightLists11 common words you're probably mispronouncing28 January 2013
Ever feel embarrassed when you don't know how to say a word? Don't be. Even the most fluent English speakers sometimes stumble. By Amanda Green, Mental Floss A checklist of common problem words: 1. Seuss Pen names don't always make things easier. Theodore Geisel's college buddy Alexander Liang made a rhyme to teach you the right way to pronounce it: "You’re wrong as the deuce/And you shouldn’t rejoice/If you’re calling him Seuss/He pronounces it Soice" (or Zoice). 2. Kibosh Let's put the kibosh, pronounced "KY-bosh," on saying this word like "kuh-BOSH." 3. Celtic An initial hard (k) sound is the standard, but linguists say the (s) sound emerged as far back as the 17th century. Still, you'll sound ridiculous (but correct!) if you bring that hard (k) to a Boston Celtics basketball game. 4. Comptroller This word sounds just like "controller." If you're tempted to pronounce that silent (pt), please comptroll yourself! 5. Cache Maybe it's because it's one letter short of "cachet." Maybe it's just more fun to mispronounce. This words sounds just like "cash." 6. Chicanery This word meaning "deception by trickery" is aptly tricky to pronounce. The beginning (ch) sound is "sh," as in "Chicago." The French pronounce the word "shih-connery," which makes it easy to remember the definition. However, Americans love a long (a) and tend to pronounce it "shih-cane-a-ree." Choose your own adventure. 7. Banal You'll be the butt of the joke if you pronounce this "BAY-nul." It's "buh-NAHL." 8. Affluent If pronouncing it "a-FLU-ent" is wrong, some people don't want to be right. The stress on this word is supposed to be on the first syllable—"AFF-lu-ent." But stressing the second syllable became so mainstream that dictionaries started validating the pronunciation in the 1980s. 9. Forbade Pronunciation quirks and mistakes happen when people try to read and speak by the rules. Too bad the English language doesn't always make sense. The past tense of "forbid" was originally supposed to be spelled and pronounced "for-bad." But then people started spelling it "forbade" and rhyming it with "made." Now linguists say the word sounds archaic any way you say it. Most people use "forbid" as a past or present-tense verb. 10. Boatswain Okay, so maybe this word's not that commonly used. But now that you know it's pronounced "bo-sun," you might find more reasons to work it into conversation. 11. Niche When this word was borrowed from French in the 17th century, it was quickly Anglicised to rhyme with "itch." But in the 20th century, more people embraced a true French pronunciation and decided to pronounce it "neesh." Both are correct. http://www.mentalfloss.com/article/32273/11-common-words-youre-probably-mispronouncingBrightStuff10 things extraordinary people say22 January 2013
They're small things, but each has the power to dramatically change someone's day. Including yours. By Jeff Haden, Inc. Want to make a huge difference in someone's life? Here are the things you should say to your employees, colleagues, family members, friends, and everyone you care about. "Here's what I'm thinking." You're in charge, but that doesn't mean you're smarter, savvier, or more insightful than everyone else. Back up your statements and decisions. Give reasons. Justify with logic, not with position or authority. Though taking the time to explain your decisions opens those decisions up to discussion or criticism, it also opens up your decisions to improvement. Authority can make you "right," but collaboration makes everyone right, and makes everyone pull together. "I was wrong." When you're wrong, say you're wrong. You won't lose respect. You’ll gain it. "That was awesome." No one gets enough praise. No one. Praise is a gift that costs the giver nothing but is priceless to the recipient. Start praising. The people around you will love you for it, and you'll like yourself a little better, too. "You're welcome." Think about a time you gave a gift and the recipient seemed uncomfortable or awkward. Their reaction took away a little of the fun for you, right? The same thing can happen when you are thanked or complimented or praised. Don't spoil the moment or the fun for the other person. The spotlight may make you feel uneasy or insecure, but all you have to do is make eye contact and say, "Thank you." Or make eye contact and say, "You're welcome. I was glad to do it." Don't let thanks, congratulations, or praise be all about you. Make it about the other person, too. "Can you help me?" When you need help, regardless of the type of help you need or the person you need it from, just say, sincerely and humbly, "Can you help me?" I promise you'll get help. And in the process you'll show vulnerability, respect, and a willingness to listen - which, by the way, are all qualities of a great leader. And are all qualities of a great friend. "I'm sorry." We all make mistakes, so we all have things we need to apologise for: words, actions, omissions, failing to step up, step in, show support... Say you're sorry. But never follow an apology with a disclaimer, or any statement that in any way places even the smallest amount of blame back on the other person. Say you're sorry, say why you're sorry, and take all the blame. No less. No more. Then you both get to make the freshest of fresh starts. "Can you show me?" Advice is temporary; knowledge is forever. Knowing what to do helps, but knowing how or why to do it means everything. When you ask to be taught or shown, several things happen: you implicitly show you respect the person giving the advice; you show you trust his or her experience, skill, and insight; and you get to better assess the value of the advice. Don't just ask for input. Ask to be taught or trained or shown. Then you both win. "Let me give you a hand." Many people see asking for help as a sign of weakness. So, many people hesitate to ask for help. But everyone needs help. Don't just say, "Is there anything I can help you with?" Most people will give you a version of the reflexive "No, I'm just looking" reply to sales clerks and say, "No, I'm all right." Be specific. Find something you can help with. Say "I've got a few minutes. Can I help you finish that?" Offer in a way that feels collaborative, not patronising or gratuitous. Then actually roll up your sleeves and help. "I love you." No, not at work, but everywhere you mean it - and every time you feel it. Nothing. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. If you're upset, frustrated, or angry, stay quiet. You may think venting will make you feel better, but it never does. Be quiet until you know exactly what to say, and exactly what effect your words will have. http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/10-things-extraordinary-people-say-every-day.html
BrightLists26 useful words that have no English equivalent22 January 2013
From around the world, a series of words that conveniently sum up feelings and situations both familiar and obscure. 1 Age-otori (Japanese): To look worse after a haircut 2 Arigata-meiwaku (Japanese): An act someone does for you that you didn’t want to have them do and tried to avoid having them do, but they went ahead anyway, determined to do you a favour, and then things went wrong and caused you a lot of trouble, yet in the end social conventions required you to express gratitude 3 Backpfeifengesicht (German): A face badly in need of a fist 4 Forelsket (Norwegian): The euphoria you experience when you are first falling in love 5 Gigil (pronounced Gheegle; Filipino): The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute 6 Guanxi (Mandarin): in traditional Chinese society, you would build up good guanxi by giving gifts to people, taking them to dinner, or doing them a favour, but you can also use up your gianxi by asking for a favour to be repaid 7 Ilunga (Tshiluba, Congo): A person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time 8 L’esprit de l’escalier (French): usually translated as “staircase wit,” is the act of thinking of a clever comeback when it is too late to deliver it 9 Tartle (Scottish): The act of hesitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name 10 Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan): A look between two people that suggests an unspoken, shared desire 11 Prozvonit (Czech): To call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, thereby saving the first caller money 12 Meraki (Greek): Doing something with soul, creativity, or love. It’s when you put something of yourself into what you’re doing 13 Nunchi (Korean): the subtle art of listening and gauging another’s mood. In Western culture, nunchi could be described as the concept of emotional intelligence. Knowing what to say or do, or what not to say or do, in a given situation. A socially clumsy person can be described as ‘nunchi eoptta’, meaning “absent of nunchi” 14 Tingo (Pacsuense): The act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing and not returning them 15 Pochemuchka (Russian): a person who asks a lot of questions 16 Sgriob (Gaelic): The itchiness that overcomes the upper lip just before taking a sip of whisky 17 Taarradhin (Arabic): A happy solution for everyone, or “I win. You win.” A way of reconciling without anyone losing face 18 Tatemae and Honne (Japanese): What you pretend to believe and what you actually believe, respectively 19 Drachenfutter (German): Literally translated as dragon fodder, these are peace offerings made by guilty husbands to their wives 20 Waldeinsamkeit (German): The feeling of being alone in the woods 21 Yoko meshi (Japanese): literally ‘a meal eaten sideways,’ referring to the peculiar stress induced by speaking a foreign language 22 Fremdschämen (German): A feeling of embarrassment on behalf of someone who should be feeling embarrassed, but isn’t 23 Yuputka (Ulwa): The phantom sensation that something creepy is crawling on your skin 24 Boketto (Japanese): The act of gazing wistfully into the distance for no apparent reason 25 Verschlimmbesserung (German): Attempted improvements that in reality wind up making things worse 26 Seigneur-terraces (French): People who sit at tables in coffee-shops for a long time, without buying muchBrightLivesCoining Zulu words for a computer world22 January 2013
Meet the UCT and Oxford graduate who is giving IsiZulu a new spin for changing times. “Gfixa”. The word is IsiZulu, and it means “print”, from the sound a printer makes. Then there is “Onhlolinhlo”, which means explorer, and “Izilwebu”, which means Internet. Put them together, and you have Izilwebu Onhlolinhlo, which is a proudly South African way of referring to your Internet Explorer browser. Until recently, these words, and some 450 others like them, with a science and technology flavour, didn’t exist in the Zulu language. Enter Phiwayinkosi Gift Mbuyazi, a 41-year-old writer and company director who has set out to bring his mother tongue in line with trends in the fast-changing world of today. Born in Obanjeni in KwaZulu-Natal, Phiwayinkosi holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from UCT, and a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford. But his driving passion lies very close to home, where he has become a leading light in the battle to revitalise the most widely-spoken of South Africa’s 11 official languages. Worried that IsiZulu is in danger of being overshadowed by the increasing use of English as a contemporary lingua franca, Phiwayinkosi has personally coined dozens of words which he hopes will become common currency. “Take the word ‘planet’, for example,” he explained in an interview with the City Press newspaper. “In isiZulu we have the word ‘umhlaba’ which refers to the earth, but there aren’t any other words that refer to Jupiter, Mercury, Pluto and the like. “If you observe the movement of the planets, they appear to hover around the sun, which is why I named them ‘umzulane’ which means ‘going round’.” Some of Phiwayinkosi’s neologisms have their roots in Ancient Greek, while others are based on sounds or a combination of existing IsiZulu words. By fusing “iciko”, which means “good at what you do”, and “ubuchwepeshe”, which means “expertise”, for instance, he was able to invent “Izingcikochwe”, the new IsiZulu way of saying “technology”. Or how about “Buyafuthi”, combining the IsiZulu words for “bring back” and “again”, to put a homegrown slant on the familiar Recycle Bin on your computer desktop. As an impassioned “language activist”, Phiwayinkosi is frustrated by the lack of educational material in his own language, particularly in the cosmopolitan Johannesburg suburb where he now stays. “Where I live there are not many Afrikaans speakers but there are six Afrikaans-medium schools,” he told City Press. “I go to Exclusive Books and there’s a whole rack of Afrikaans literature but almost no books in isiZulu. “If you buy a TV the manual is in all these languages – Chinese and Swedish and the like. There is never an African language. We need to shake up our minds and take the right steps to spread our languages to all nations in the world.” Phiwayinkosi is playing his part, minting words of colour and flair that are just as inventive as the tools and technologies they describe. *You can watch a short documentary on Phiwayinkosi’s work and writings over here: http://vimeo.com/56248387BrightStuff6 useful things I’ve learned from game drives14 January 2013
You can learn a lot about the game of life from the great South African tradition of the bushveld game-drive, says Sarah Britten After sunset on New Year’s Day, while driving back from sundowners on the Timbavati, we spotted a pride of 12 lions, including two of the reserve’s famous white residents. They sat quietly a couple of metres from the road before hauling themselves to their feet and stalking off into the dark. We drove off, congratulating ourselves on our luck. Anyone travelling that road even two minutes later would see nothing. They might as well never have been there. It was a reminder of how important luck and timing really are. Thanks to our abundance of national parks and game reserves, the game drive is something many South Africans are familiar with. For some, it’ll be an all-day expedition through the Kruger Park. For others, it might be the back of a Land Rover at a luxury lodge that offers the Big 5 in a weekend. (For me, it’s usually a drive around a private farm without any of the commercial pressure to ensure guests see everything.) Game drives all have one thing in common: their purpose is to see wildlife, as much of it as possible. If you’re in a Big 5 area, you’ll want the Big 5. When you see what you were looking for, you’re thrilled. When you don’t, you’re deeply disappointed. So you need to be philosophical. In a way, the game drive contains some lessons useful for all aspects of life. These are the 6 that stand out for me: 1. It’s all in the timing. 30 seconds either side of a cheetah stalking through the undergrowth and you’ve seen grass and bushes, not big cat. 2. Know what to look for. It might be eyeshine, a tail, the shape of the ears: knowing whether what you’re looking at is a duiker or a leopard is a useful skill. The more trained your eyes, the more likely you’ll spot something. 3. Sometimes, it’s good to be still. When you’re always on the move, you’re not fully appreciating where you are, and the noise from the engine obscures a lot of the sounds. Stopping to listen to the woodland kingfishers and watching the sun slip toward the horizon is a way to be present in a beautiful environment instead of just ticking off a list of what you’ve seen. 4. Watch, wait and see what happens. Most of the best sightings of unusual behaviour happen when you stop, switch off the engine and wait to see what happens. When you’re in a hurry to be on your way, you miss out. 5. The more you know, the more you enjoy. If you’re only there to see the Big 5, you’ll miss out on a lot. But if you’re interested in everything from the birds to the trees, you’ll find so much more intellectual stimulation. On late afternoon drives, I know that when I hear the piping call of the Red-crested Korhaan, I should see a bird fly up, fold its wings and plummet to earth like a feathery football (all part of the male’s mating display). 6. Enjoy the experience even when you don’t see anything. This is the most important lesson of all, and the hardest. I’ve been on some terrible drives – one through the north of the Kruger Park was so devoid of life that we were reduced to getting excited about the sight of a Laughing Dove – and you dread those, because they’re boring and you return to camp feeling oddly deflated, as though you’ve somehow failed. The only way to get around this is to take the focus off ticking off lists and the pressure to see everything, and just enjoy being in nature. You might have to develop an interest in trees or clouds, or let your mind wander off, but the trick is to find a way to take pleasure in the experience, despite the fact that it’s not what you were hoping for. Ultimately, a lot of it comes down to luck. Some people are just luckier. My uncle can see five leopards in one trip to the same farm, while I am ecstatic if I see one every five years. There’s no good reason for it, it just is, and all you can do is accept it. Happy leopard spotting. And if you just miss it, you can still enjoy the drive. *You can read more by Sarah Britten on http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/author/sarahbritten and http://www.thecreativityproject.co.za.
BrightStuffWhy humans look on the bright side of life07 January 2013
Even in the face of stone cold reality, human beings are hardwired to be hopeful, says author and researcher Tali Sharot We all like to think of ourselves as rational creatures who smartly prepare for the worst. We watch our back, weigh the odds and pack an umbrella when the skies look threatening. But although we take such precautions, we generally expect things to turn out pretty well – often better than they do. The belief that the future will probably be much better than the past and present is known as the optimism bias. Most of us tend to overestimate the likelihood of good things happening to us and underestimate the chance that bad events will come crashing down. In short, we are often more optimistic than realistic. Collectively, we can grow pessimistic – about the future of our fellow citizens, about the direction of our country, about the ability of our leaders to improve education and reduce crime – while we continue to think our own future is bright. Why does optimism about our personal future remain incredibly resilient? It is not that we think things will magically turn out OK for us, but rather that we believe we have the unique abilities to make it so. Optimism starts with what may be the most extraordinary of human talents: mental time travel, the ability to move back and forth through time and space in one's mind. To think positively about our prospects, it helps to be able to imagine ourselves in the future. Our capacity to envision a different time and place is critical for our survival. It allows us to plan, to save food and resources for times of scarcity, and to endure hard work in anticipation of a reward. The capacity to envision that future relies partially on the hippocampus, a brain structure crucial to memory. But the brain doesn't travel in time randomly. It tends to engage in specific types of thoughts: we consider how well our children will do in life, how we will obtain that desired job, whether our team will win, and we look forward to an enjoyable night on the town. When we do contemplate defeat and heartache, we tend to focus on how these can be avoided. Why do we maintain this rosy bias even when information challenging our upbeat forecasts is so readily available? We know the economy is unstable, for example, but still we remain optimistic about our own future. When expectations are not met, we alter them. Everyone shows an optimistic bias. In a study not yet released, my colleagues and I found that people of all age groups changed their beliefs more in response to good news, and discounted bad news. Even more surprising was the finding that children and elderly people showed more of a bias than college students. The young and the old were quite good at responding to desirable information: everyone updated their beliefs similarly when they learnt they were less likely to get cancer or have their credit card stolen than they had initially believed. But when they learnt their chances were worse, children, teenagers and older adults seemed to ignore this information more than college students and middle-aged individuals. The behavioural economist Andrew Oswald has found that from about the time we are teenagers, our sense of happiness starts to decline, hitting rock bottom in our mid-40s. (Middle-age crisis, anyone?) Then our sense of happiness miraculously starts to rise rapidly again as we grow older. This finding contradicts the common assumption that people in their 60s, 70s and 80s are less happy and satisfied than people in their 30s and 40s. Oswald tested half a million people in 72 developing and developed countries. He observed the same pattern across all parts of the globe and sexes. Happiness diminishes as we make the transition from childhood to adulthood and starts rising as we grow wrinkles and acquire grey hair. A possible explanation for the age findings is that happy people live longer and pessimistic ones die earlier, so those elderly individuals who remain for scientists to test are happier than the average 30- or 40-year-old. Another possibility is that older individuals have experienced a larger range of adverse events, so they are less likely to view these events as frightening and consequential. Thus, their psychological coping mechanisms may be better. It is tempting to speculate that optimism was selected by evolution precisely because, on balance, positive expectations enhance the odds of survival. Research findings that optimists live longer and are healthier, along with the fact that most humans display optimistic biases – and emerging data that optimism is linked to specific genes – strongly support this hypothesis. But the optimism bias also protects and inspires us. To make progress, we need to be able to imagine alternative realities – and not just any old reality but a better one. And we need to believe we can achieve it. Such faith helps motivate us to pursue our goals. *Tali Sharot is a research fellow in cognitive, perceptual and brain sciences at University College London. This is an excerpt from the TED e-book, The Science of Optimism. Visit http://bit.ly/UAGJTt for more information.BrightStuff6 steps to getting more stuff done07 January 2013
How to manage your technology and minimise disruptions. By Karl Stark and Bill Stewart. We live in an age of ubiquitous technology, designed to make our lives easier. But technology can also distract us from getting down to the business that matters. Here's how to minimise the disruptions: 1. Do the worst first Whenever possible, we like to get up early, sometimes before others are even awake, and knock out the most important (or most arduous) tasks of the day before the phone calls and emails start rolling in. This can be the most productive part of the day, and it feels great to have your most time-consuming or undesirable task completed first thing. If you are not a morning person, then identify your personal peak time in which you are able to fully dedicate yourself to your highest-priority task. 2. Break projects into chunks It's easy to get overwhelmed with large, ongoing projects. A good trick is to consistently chip away at the project to avoid procrastinating and finding yourself in a bind. By taking one large project and separating it into individual mini-projects with individual deadlines, you can achieve small wins each day to keep yourself motivated and on track. 3. Pay attention We've all had that moment in a meeting where we are asked a question only to realise we weren't fully paying attention. Put down your phone and shut off your laptop during conference calls or meetings. Don't just go through the motions; nothing is worth doing unless you are fully engaged. We understand it might be difficult to disconnect, but give it a shot. You will be amazed at how much more you get out of meetings by giving them your full attention. 4. The inbox can wait Responsiveness is critical for professionals at all levels. However, don't let the influx of emails distract you from getting your work done. Designate communication-free times in which you dedicate 60 to 90 minutes to real work. 5. Write everything down Any time an idea or to-do pops into your head, immediately write it down. This isn't rocket science, but we often have so much on our plates or so many back-to-back meetings that we can forget critical thoughts and ideas we have throughout the day. 6. Take breaks An often overlooked pillar of productivity is to make time for yourself to do something you truly enjoy. Whether it be reading industry-related articles, taking an exercise class, or leaving a little early to eat dinner with your family, it is important to take the time to refuel and recharge so you are ready to attack your to-do list again tomorrow. The most important part of this process is finding a system that works for you and sticking to it. And always remember to fully engage in whatever it is you are doing, whether it be a project, a client meeting, or even a vacation.BrightStuffWhy dreams can be more powerful than resolutions07 January 2013
Don’t just set out to fix wrongs at the beginning of a new year. Set out to dream dreams. By Whitney Johnson, Harvard Business Review You can't know what resolution you need until you know what your objective is. In photography, the resolution of the image is entirely dependent on the output you want. If you're looking at an image on your computer monitor, 72 dpi (dots per inch) is fine, but if you want to print that image, you'll need a much higher resolution, say 240 dpi. If you then want to make that image into a billboard, you actually need a relatively lower dpi, because the further away you are from it, the more your eyes will blend the colours for you. And that is why I believe we've got it backwards when it comes to making New Year's resolutions. Instead of starting January trying to "fix" all the wrongs, let's take some time to figure out what our objectives really are. So, dream. While resolutions are about "shoulds," dreaming is about hope — and who we may become. Dreaming is at the heart of disruption — it is only when we dream that we can hope to create something truly new, something that will overtake old habits, old customs, and old ways of thinking and being. And we all know by now that a disruptive path leads to a greater measure of success. According to psychologist Timothy Pychyl , "until we have a vision of who we are and who we want to become, we can't accomplish much." In other words, the more you know who you are, the less likely you are to procrastinate. And the more we dream ourselves into becoming who we want to be, the closer we'll come to accomplishing our resolutions. If you've already made a few resolutions, these might provide some clues as to what your deeper dreams are. Especially if those resolutions were made while gazing fixedly into your personal Mirror of Erised — a mirror that, as Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling describes, "shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts." When Professor Dumbledore discovers Harry entranced, he explains why the mirror is so beguiling (and dangerous): "You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge nor truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible...." I suspect that most of us have a desperate desire of our heart, something we may even deserve that we don't or can't have. When you take a moment to look at the "why" of a resolution, you may find the fierce desire that fuels it. Harry Potter, for example, can't have his parents, but he can be beloved. Inside of the something you can't have, there is often the makings of something you can achieve. And what better time to be plumbing our deepest desires for dreams and planting the seeds of our personal disruption than the shortest days of the year. For "the shadow is the seat of creativity," wrote Carl Jung. After a few weeks, possibly even a month of inner reflection, the resolutions required to make your dream a reality will become evident. And rather than procrastinating, or worse, chucking your resolve after a few days or weeks, this year you may actually see your resolutions through. You may even discover that some of your pesky wrongs have inadvertently been righted. So resolutionise away. But begin in February. During January, dream. *Whitney Johnson is a co-founder of Rose Park Advisors, Clayton Christensen's investment firm, and the author of Dare-Dream-Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream (Bibliomotion, 2012). http://bit.ly/UBxDpo
BrightStuff5 things that really smart people do10 December 2012
One thing you learn about life is that you never stop learning. Here are five ways to open your mind and boost your brainpower. By Kevin Daum, Inc. Most people don't really think much about how they learn. Generally you assume learning comes naturally. You listen to someone speak either in conversation or in a lecture and you simply absorb what they are saying, right? Not really. In fact, I find as I get older that real learning takes more work. The more I fill my brain with facts, figures, and experience, the less room I have for new ideas and new thoughts. Plus, now I have all sorts of opinions that may refute the ideas being pushed at me. Like many people I consider myself a lifelong learner, but more and more I have to work hard to stay open minded. But the need for learning never ends, so your desire to do so should always outweigh your desire to be right. The world is changing and new ideas pop up everyday. Incorporating them into your life will keep you engaged and relevant. The following are the methods I use to stay open and impressionable. They'll work for you too. No matter how old you get. 1. Quiet your inner voice You know the one I am talking about. It's the little voice that offers a running commentary when you are listening to someone. It's the voice that brings up your own opinion about the information being provided. It is too easy to pay more attention to the inner voice than the actual speaker. That voice often keeps you from listening openly for good information and can often make you shut down before you have heard the entire premise. Focus less on what your brain has to say and more on the speaker. You may be surprised at what you hear. 2. Argue with yourself If you can't quiet the inner voice, then at least use it to your advantage. Every time you hear yourself contradicting the speaker, stop and take the other point of view. Suggest to your brain all the reasons why the speaker may be correct and you may be wrong. In the best case you may open yourself to the information being provided. Failing that, you will at least strengthen your own argument. 3. Act like you are curious Some people are naturally curious and others are not. No matter which category you are in you can benefit from behaving like a curious person. Next time you are listening to information, make up and write down three to five relevant questions. If you are in a lecture, Google them after for answers. If you are in a conversation you can ask the other person. Either way you'll likely learn more, and the action of thinking up questions will help encode the concepts in your brain. As long as you're not a cat you should benefit from these actions of curiosity. 4. Find the kernel of truth No concept or theory comes out of thin air. Somewhere in the elaborate concept that sounds like complete malarkey there is some aspect that is based upon fact. Even if you don't buy into the idea, you should at least identify the little bit of truth from whence it came. Play like a detective and build your own extrapolation. You'll enhance your skills of deduction and may even improve the concept beyond the speaker's original idea. 5. Focus on the message, not the messenger Often people shut out learning due to the person delivering the material. Whether it's a boring lecturer, someone physically unappealing, or a member of the opposite political party, the communicator can impact your learning. Even friends can disrupt the learning process since there may be too much history and familiarity to see them as an authority on a topic. Separate the material from the provider. Pretend you don't know the person or their beliefs so you can hear the information objectively. As for the boring person, focus on tip two, three, or four as if it were a game, thereby creating your own entertainment. http://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/5-things-that-really-smart-people-do.htmlBrightStuffThe competitive power of smiling, by Richard Branson10 December 2012
A smile doesn’t cost you anything, and it can earn you big returns in business, says the ever-smiling Richard Branson in Entrepreneur magazine When you meet somebody new, the natural thing to do is smile. When you hear good news, your likely reaction is to grin. After you’ve suffered a misfortune, you know you’re on the way to recovery when you can share a smile. Granted, smiling can’t solve every problem, but it can make almost any situation a little better. When our house on Necker Island burned down in the middle of the night, it wasn’t long before a humorous story had everybody laughing – my wife and I were sleeping in a cabin nearby, and I ran stark naked into a cactus while rushing toward the fire! Our next step was to start planning the even more special home we would build on the ashes. In business, a smile can often defuse a difficult situation. If you are negotiating with a tough investor or discussing issues with a customer, a smile will show that you are willing to listen and eager to help. Smiling is infectious, so your smile may have just brightened up the day for many other people too. Some business leaders take their work very seriously indeed; they think they have to be stern in order to get things done. This can create a culture of control and fear that trickles all the way down through the company, because if the boss is scary, senior managers will be scary, and so on. In this solemn environment, people will be afraid to fail – rather than trying to do new things, they’ll play it safe. If you smile, you’ll encourage your employees to be more open, communicative and innovative too. When an entrepreneur creates a culture of openness at a new company, it can make a big difference to employees’ and customers’ enthusiasm. This is especially true in environments where stiff upper lips and reserve are common. While spending time in Russia recently, I was struck by the austere atmosphere dominant in business there. However, times are changing and entrepreneurs like Oleg Tinkov, who made his fortune selling premium beer in Russia and has now set up a credit card business, are launching companies where staff and customers can expect smiles, friendly greetings and relaxed settings. If this trend catches on, we may see more inventive business ideas coming from that part of the world. When you enter a store, if a saleswoman smiles and asks how you are doing, you are more likely to be open to looking around, asking questions and making a purchase. At Virgin, we all know that our smiles make a difference. When you get onto a Virgin plane, it’s the smiles from our staff that make you feel good - that touch of heartfelt service that says “We give a damn.” After Virgin Trains lost its franchise this fall, over 170,000 people signed an e-petition to the British government to keep our trains running. We received lots of tweets and messages from people who told us they wanted to support a company with such happy, helpful staff. Back in the `60s, our friendly approach helped us to sign the Rolling Stones to Virgin Records. We often joked around as we worked together, and so Mick Jagger and the rest of the band saw us as being like themselves, rather than just stuffy coin counters in suits and ties. One day, when we were having dinner in London to celebrate completing the record deal, Mick Jagger and I kept grinning at each other. Quick as a flash, Bill Wyman said: “Look at you two. I wouldn’t fancy being an apple between those two sets of gnashers!” Who would have believed that we’d still be working together five decades later – now on their amazing 50th anniversary shows. Something to do with those grins, perhaps? (Over the years I have become known as the smiley man with the beard. It could be worse!) These days, a lot of my time is spent traveling to different countries around the world meeting people on behalf of our non-profit foundation, Virgin Unite. Communicating can sometimes be a little challenging, but it is a truism that everyone smiles in the same language. I learned from two brilliant diplomats, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Jose Maria Figueres, the former president of Costa Rica, who do wonderful work for two of our Virgin Unite-incubated organizations, The Elders and the Carbon War Room. They are always smiling as they bring about change. If you’re looking for the next big investment for your business, but don’t have much money to spend, start by looking at yourself in the mirror. A smile won’t cost you anything, and the returns to your business will start right away. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225074BrightStuffThe best business books of 201203 December 2012
Find fulfilment, get productive, and create healthy habits, by catching up on the best of business reading in this roundup from Fast Company. By Drake Baer 1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain In Quiet, author Susan Cain argues that introverts are a reservoir of untapped talent - and that progressive managers can create environments in which they thrive. “Any time people come together in a meeting, we’re not necessarily getting the best ideas," she tells Fast Company, "we’re just getting the ideas of the best talkers.” 2. How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth and Karen Dillon As the author of the disruption-defining Innovator’s Dilemma, Clay Christensen is one of the most esteemed minds in business. In How Will You Measure Your Life?, he and co-authors James Allworth and Karen Dillon investigate what it means to have a fulfilling career, and finds that it is both a focused and open process. "I believe that we can, in a deliberate way, articulate the kind of people we want to become," he says. "As the rest of life happens to you, you can utilize those things to help you become the kind of person you want to be." 3. Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours, by Robert Pozen Bob Pozen once simultaneously served as president of Fidelity Management, lectured full-time at Harvard Business School, and wrote for the Harvard Business Review - meaning that he’s earned the right to write a book called Extreme Productivity. "If you want an active schedule," he tells us in an interview about turning career plans into daily actions, "you have to husband your time so you can act on the things that are important." 4. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail - but Some Don't, by Nate Silver Nate Silver has become a bespectacled icon for his prediction prowess - as you might of heard, he called every state of the presidential election (and pulled 20+ percent of the New York Times’ web traffic on election night). But as he observes in The Signal and the Noise, we as a culture have grown forecast obsessed - something all businesses would do well to be aware of. "We need to stop and admit it: we have a prediction problem," he writes. "We love to predict things - and we aren't very good at it." 5. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown There's a myth about how entrepreneurs have to be invulnerable. Brené Brown will have none of it. “If you are alive and in relationship, you do vulnerability,” she tells us. “If you are alive and in relationship and in business, you do it hourly.” 6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explores how habits shape our lives - and how savvy businesses can shape them. Febreeze, for instance, flopped when it launched as an odour killer, because, as Duhigg says, "the people who needed it, who lived with nine cats, had adapted to it.” After noticing that people look proud after making their beds - a habit to capitalize on - P&G rebranded the spray as a post-cleaning reward, one that now makes $1 billion a year. 7. Renegades Write the Rules: How the Digital Royalty Use Social Media to Innovate, by Amy Jo Martin Amy Jo Martin shares her story on how she got the Rock to become a social media machine in Renegades Write the Rules. She argues for why you need to share your life with your followers, whether you're an an action star or an entrepreneur. "With more than a billion people using these communication channels," she writes, "you can't afford not to have an active role in the conversation." 8. Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck: What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur and Build a Great Business, by Anthony K. Tjan, Richard J. Harrington, Tsun-Yan Hsieh Business takes courage, observe the authors - but don’t confuse courage with fearlessness. “Guts-driven entrepreneurs aren’t fearless,” they write in our excerpt, “They just know how to cope with, and maybe even thrive in, uncomfortable environments.” 9. The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World, by Frans Johansson In every great career, Frans Johansson writes in The Click Moment, there's a time when talent and luck intersect in a fit of business serendipity. "If you scratch underneath the glossy exterior of success stories, you're actually going to find that behind those things you're going to find an unexpected meeting, a surprising insight, and that's what's behind most success," he tells us. "It follows then that we should court those types of things." 10. Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, by Frank Partnoy When making decisions, Frank Partnoy observes in Wait, you need to be able to understand whether you're operating at a Twitter or glacial pace - two contexts that might be happening simultaneously. "What really good leaders are able to do is inspire the rest of the team by their knowledge of the granular," Partnoy says, "but also be able to step back from the granular and put together the tectonic pieces that need to be placed together." 11. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner Thirty years of research into leadership yields impressive results - like The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, now in its fifth edition. Culled from decades of asking leaders what they're doing when they're in top form, the authors distill leadership to its essence. "Leaders accept and act on the paradox of power," they write. "You become more powerful when you give your own power away." 12. 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era, by Nilofer Merchant Social media is a game changer, yes, but it's only part of the larger shift of the Social Era, writes Nilofer Merchant. What's at the center of the social era? Connections. "If the industrial era was about building things, the social era is about connecting things, people, and ideas," she writes. "Networks of connected people with shared interests and goals create ways that can produce returns for any company that serves their needs."
BrightIdeasSouth African team invent the world’s first tweeting braai03 December 2012
What’s more sociable than a braai? A braai with a Twitter account and a connection to the Internet, of course… From the automatic pool-cleaner to the wind-up flashlight, from the human heart transplant to the concrete blocks that keep ocean waves at bay, the spirit of South African invention takes its cue from a simple proposition. ’n Boer maak ’n plan. No matter how daunting the challenge or problem, you’re sure to find someone willing to tackle it from an unusual angle, fusing lateral thinking with gritty, hands-on ingenuity. In few areas of South African life is this principle applied with as much spark and passion as the braai. Here, at the coalface of our mutual cultural and culinary tradition, people spend hours building the perfect braai, mixing the perfect marinade, and arguing over the perfect combination of wood chips and seasoning. So it should come as no surprise that it has taken a team of South Africans to come up with the ultimate barbecue for a new age of social interaction. The Tweeting Braai. That’s right, a braai with a connection to the Internet, equipped to transmit status updates about the weather, the music, the partygoers and the readiness of the coals. It’s the brainchild of a creative agency called Trigger Isobar, with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and no easy way of sharing the vibe of their customary Friday office braai. That’s why a duo of engineers in the Joburg office got together to “maak ’n plan”, rigging a standard braai with electronic sensors for sound, light, and motion, and a social media connection to let colleagues at the coast join in the conversation. Now, when it’s braai-time, anyone can join in. “We like to be seen as problem solvers,” says creative director Gustav Greffrath, “so the challenge of getting the two offices talking was one the whole team jumped at solving.” True, the Cape Town crew don’t actually get to smell the steak and chops sizzling on the coals, but they do get to share the experience in a fun and engaging way, and for better or wors, that’s what connecting in the social media age is really all about. If you’d like to join in too, visit www.isobar.co.za/braai, or follow @TweetingBraai on Twitter.BrightStuff20 top-secret things you probably never knew26 November 2012
You’ll give your Bond Age away if you admit to knowing all these factoids about the world’s favourite not-so-secret agent, now back on the screens in Skyfall Roger Moore, who played the suave superspy in seven Bond flicks, almost didn’t get the role because of his pathological fear of firearms. His phobia stemmed from an explosive incident during his military service in England, when a faulty rifle blew up in his hands. Sean Connery’s behind-the-scenes martial arts instructor on Never Say Never Again was the action movie star, Steven Seagal. He did his job a little too well, breaking Connery’s wrist during training. The Bond family motto, emblazoned on the crest of the clan, is “Orbit Non Sufficit”, which is Latin for The World is Not Enough. That was also the title of the 19th Bond film, starring Pierce Brosnan as the extraordinarily ambitious secret agent. The young Bond was educated at Eton in England and Fettes College in Edinburgh, which was Bond creator Ian Fleming’s alma mater. By a strange quirk of destiny, Sean Connery was once the college’s milkman. In You Only Live Twice, Bond breaks a cardinal rule and accepts his vodka martini stirred, rather than shaken. Yes, even James Bond loves change. The real name of everyone’s favourite steely-toothed Bond super-villain, Jaws, played by Richard Kiel in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, is Zbigniew Krycsiwiki. That’s a mouthful. Bond producer Harry Saltzman, just like Bond creator Ian Fleming, worked for military intelligence during his army career. Very little is known about exactly what they did during their secret agent days, because a secret agent’s word is his bond. M, Bond’s back-at-the-office boss, really does have a name in the series: Admiral Sir Miles Messervy. Ian Fleming is believed to have chosen the initial as a sly reference to his stern, overbearing mother, who he called “M” as a boy. Christopher Lee, who played the sinister, triple-nippled villain, Scaramanga, in The Man With the Golden Gun, is a cousin of Bond author Ian Fleming. Early in his acting career, Clint Eastwood turned down the role of James Bond, after Sean Connery left the franchise. Eastwood, a big Bond fan demurred on the grounds that he didn’t want to take “somebody else’s gig”, and because he felt strongly that Bond should be British. Roger Moore felt so embarrassed about his awkward gait when running, that he insisted all his running scenes should be played by a stunt double. Despite this, he still holds the record as the longest-running Bond, with seven movies to his credit. Skyfall is the first James Bond movie to feature a blond hero (Daniel Craig) and a blond villain (Javier Bardem). Blonds really do have more fun. While an exact count is problematic because of the complex nature of many of his gunfights, it has been scientifically estimated (in the New Scientist) that 4,662 shots have been fired at James Bond in the course of 22 movies. He has slain 198 bad guys and has only taken a bullet twice, which is pretty good going. Ian Fleming is believed to have named 007 after the 007 bus route, which ran between Canterbury and London. Q, the man who equips Bond with a seemingly never-ending stockpile of supercool gadgets and bad-guy-fighting devices at the outset of his adventures, actually has a name, and it doesn’t begin with a Q. He is Major Boothroyd. The Q stands for Quartermaster. The first gadget Bond used was a geiger-counter, in Dr No. But everyone’s favourite Bond gadget is surely the jetpack he uses to escape from the bad guys in Thunderball. Sadly, it never went into mass production. Daniel Craig, at 44, is the first Bond who is younger than the James Bond series itself. The oldest Bond was Roger Moore, who was 45 when he first played the role, and 58 when he finally handed in his pistol. James Bond sings a line from “Underneath the Mango Tree” when he meets Honey Rider, played by Ursula Andress in Dr No, the first Bond movie. The fact that Bond hasn’t sung a line since then will tell you everything you need to know about his vocal prowess. The famous James Bond theme, which you’re probably humming in your head right now, was original composed for a musical called A House for Mr Biswas. It didn’t make it into the show, and Mr Bond got to use it instead. The composer was Monty Norman. More than 2-billion people, a third of the world’s population, have watched a James Bond movie at some point. That figure almost certainly includes you. If not, Skyfall, the 23rd movie in the series, is now showing at cinemas nationwide. Don’t miss it!BrightSpots21 cool, fun things to do on the December long weekend26 November 2012
From abseiling to river-rafting to hat-racing to tea and koeksusters with Tannie Evita, here's a check-list of things to do... ...and enjoy on the Day of Reconciliation long weekend, from December 15 to 17…or any other time you choose. By Claudia Hodkinson, Getaway Eastern Cape Beach ride on the Wild Coast If you are in the Kei Mouth or Morgan Bay area of the Wild Coast, then make sure that you take a horse ride on the beach. There is nothing more exhilarating than riding a horse through the waves and along the beaches. Beginners are welcome and all rides are guided. Prices from R200 a person. Tel 043-831-1087, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.wildcoasthorsebackadventures.com Fun run in Gonubie Get some exercise before the lashings of turkey and mince pies make an appearance with the 5km Jingle Bells fun run through Gonubie. Lovely sea views will motivate you to the finish line, not to mention that it’s for a worthy cause. Pets, children and strollers are welcome. Tel 072-056-2374, email@example.com , www.runnersworld.co.za Gauteng Learn to fly-fish in Magalies Get a complete lesson on fly-fishing covering topics such as fly-fishing equipment, techniques used, local entomology and how to handle fish. You’ll put all of this in practice at the trout dam and along the river at Magalies Barbus Haven. All fishing tackle can be provided. There are braai facilities available and picnic baskets can be made up on request. Tel 011-315-4503, firstname.lastname@example.org , www.sundowner.co.za Horses and Christmas carols in Kyalami Watch the magnificent Lipizzaner horses and their riders put on a Christmas show in conjunction with the Welsh male voice choir. This special carols by candlelight show is a must for the family. Picnic baskets are available on order. Tickets cost R130 and R110 at the door. Children under 3 enter for free. Tel 011-702-2103, email@example.com , www.lipizzaners.co.za Climb the wall in Strubens Valley If you consider yourself an absolute beginner when it comes to rock climbing, then this course will teach you how to tie knots, feet and hand placements and allow you to climb different levels of climbs. Suitable for young children and even oldies. All gear and equipment will be provided. Prices from R395 a person. Tel 083-264-3778, firstname.lastname@example.org , www.outsideadventures.co.za Hat race in Greenside For this one you are going to need an outlandish hat. If you don’t appear with one you will be instantly disqualified from the race. The Pirates Wobblers and Wigglers Hat Race departs from Pirates Club on 16 December and is roughly 8.3km. Interesting drinks are served along the course and the winner gets to kiss the Queen Wiggler. Loads of fun is guaranteed to be had. Tel 082-485-8168, www.runnersworld.co.za KwaZulu-Natal Prawns and jazz in Ballito This is definitely a combination you don’t want to miss! Three days of international and local jazz artists will be providing the beat for the Ballito Prawn and Jazz Festival from 15-17 December, with an organic and farmers market, kiddies carnival area, outdoor sports and moonlight craft fair also in the mix. Tickets cost R60 for adults and R40 for children. Free entrance for children under 5. Tel 082-459-9567, www.ballitoprawnfestival.co.za Hit the beach in Umhlanga The Umhlanga Summer Carnival, taking place from the 08-23 December, will be bringing carols by candlelight, family street parties, beauty competitions, trail runs and surfing to its shores. The oldest yacht club in Africa will be racing from the Umhlanga pier over the long weekend. Tel 031-312-1281, email@example.com , www.umhlangatourism.co.za Christmas shopping in Durban Last minute Christmas shopping needn’t be a nightmare with the Shongweni Farmers Christmas Market taking place in Durban on 16 December over the long weekend. Hand-made crafts, Christmas decorations and tasty treats will be available to purchase just in time for the big day, with live entertainment to get you into the festive mood. Tel 083-777-1674, firstname.lastname@example.org , www.shongwenimarket.co.za Mpumalanga Wildlife experience in Kruger Whether you are after a day walk in the Big 5 Kruger National Park, an elephant interaction up close with the giants of the bushveld, a horseback safari through the bush, or a game drive in an open landrover, you are promised an outdoor weekend in nature with any one of these options. Tel 073-289-9963, email@example.com , www.krugerparktrails.com Saddle up in Sabie If you have a competitive edge and enjoy putting your body though its paces, then the Sabie Mountain Bike Experience from the 14-17 December will get the muscles pumping and the team spirit going. You can ride in the 4-day solo event or round up a group of mates for the 2-day team event. Tel 083-678-3937, firstname.lastname@example.org , www.sabieexperience.co.za North West and Limpopo Rafting the Crocodile in Broederstroom Experience a half or full day of excitement rafting the Highveld Crocodile River in two-man inflatable boats and navigate your way through Grade 1 and 2 rapids. The half-day trip extends for 3 hours and the full day for 8 hours and departs from the Lanseria airport. A qualified river guide will show you the ropes (and paddles) and lead the course. Prices from R295 a person. Tel 083-264-3778, email@example.com , www.outsideadventures.co.za Animal encounter at Moholoholo There’s so much to do in the Limpopo province with the family over the December long weekend. Take a trip to the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre for an encounter with owls, predators and other species, learn about endangered wildlife at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre or be engrossed by crocodiles, snakes, scorpions and lizards at the Khamai Reptile Park. Tel 078-478-2638, firstname.lastname@example.org , www.amafuforestlodge.co.za Abseil in Magalies Take a guided trip to the highest point in the Magaliesberg Mountains where you will have spectacular views and also get to visit a vulture restaurant, and if you’re lucky see vultures feeding. You’ll also get to abseil a 55m cliff that will complete the day adventure. Prices from R375 a person. Tel 083-264-3778, email@example.com , www.outsideadventures.co.za Western Cape Surf’s up in Muizenburg The weather in the Cape is hotting up and what better way to enjoy the waves and sun than in the water, learning to surf. All you need to do is come prepared with some sunblock and buckets of energy. A guide will kit you up in a wetsuit and board and walk you through the steps on how to ride waves for the first time. This is a great day outdoors – for youngsters to oldies. Tel 021-788-9839, firstname.lastname@example.org , www.garysurf.com Trail running and mountain biking in Greyton Grab your bike, your outdoor gear and the family and head to Greyton in the Overberg for a fun-filled outdoor festival from 14-17 December. There will be night rides, trail running, cross-country fun rides and gravity events. Overnight camping is available. Tel 021-884-4752, email@example.com , www.dirtopia.co.za/mtbfestival Photographic exhibition in Cape Town The Wildlife Photographer of the Year (04 Dec-04 March 2013) is a not-to-be-missed exhibition, taking place at the Iziko Museum. It will showcase some of the world’s very best wildlife photographs in a visual and awe-inspiring display. Entrance is R30 for adults. Tel 021-481-3897, firstname.lastname@example.org , www.iziko.org.za Icons and aikonas in Darling Being Reconciliation Day weekend you can have a good laugh and entertaining evening out, in the company of Pieter Dirk Uys and his host of memorable characters including Pik Botha, Nelson Mandela and Tannie Evita and celebrate our colourful history. There are shows on Saturday and Sunday during the December long weekend so be sure to head to Darling. Tel 022-492-2851, email@example.com , www.evita.co.za Summer in Stellenbosch If you like the idea of winning a car boot full of wine then attend the Summer in Stellenbosch Festival and collect 10 orange dots during the show from the 8-17 December. 16 estates will be participating and hosting events such as wine and salt canapé pairings at Die Bergkelder, sunset carols and boere sport fun at Middelvlei, a pure food Christmas market at Asara and safari-style vineyard tours at Jordan, to name but a few. Tel 021-886-8275, firstname.lastname@example.org , www.batonage.com Bonsai exhibit at Kirstenbosch Come and admire over 100 beautiful bonsai specimens at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens at the annual Cape Bonsai Kai Show from the 15-17 December. There will be demonstrations on how to design and care for your own bonsai and a performance on the art of Japanese drumming. Entrance is free. Tel 021-797-8972, email@example.com , www.capebonsaikai.co.za Action event in Knysna Get down to the Knysna Waterfront from the 15-17 December and watch the adrenaline-pumping action of the Hansa Waterfront Rush Challenge that puts competitors through their paces from powering a steam train to scaling a tough climbing wall. A great day’s entertainment if you’re a spectator and a competitive event for participants. Tel 044-382-6496, firstname.lastname@example.org , www.entrytickets.co.za http://blog.getaway.co.za/activities/21-ideas-december-long-weekend/
BrightIdeas5 mind-blowing ideas that could change the world26 November 2012
From a digital pill that tracks your health, to a security system with x-ray vision, these hi-tech breakthroughs are about to turn sci-fi into sci-fact. By Maeghan Ouimet. Inc. 1. A laser printer for DNA The idea: San Francisco-based Cambrian Genomics is creating the world’s first DNA laser printer. Instead of printing ink, this gadget will spit out genetic code. The traditional process of synthesising DNA is tedious, costly, and error-prone. Cambrian's printer will produce accurate strands much faster and, theoretically, much cheaper once the technology comes to market. Mind-blowing factor: Because the printer may drastically decrease the time and cost required to produce synthetic DNA, researchers will be able to generate larger quantities of DNA. The end result could be more advancements in personalised medical treatments - and even new organisms. "People get upset about extinction of animals, which I think is pretty silly,” Cambrian CEO Austen Heinz said in an interview with TWiT Live. “We're going to make new ones and we're going to make more creatures." 2. Software that thinks like a human brain The idea: If you wanted to teach a computer to mimic the way the human brain works, where would you start? California-based start-up Vicarious is starting with the eyes: It's building software that can “see” and make sense of the world. Its first product is called the Recursive Cortical Network, which is designed to recognise objects, people, and places just as the human brain can. The company claims it's training the Cortical Network to mimic the way the primary visual cortex works in humans. Mind-blowing factor: Vicarious combines visual data with pixel recognition to create a mathematical understanding of an object, similar to the way neurons in the human brain make the same visual connections. Down the line, the system will be able to scan a dinner plate to report how many calories are in the meal or even recognise cancerous tumours in a patient’s body. 3. Medical drones that deliver on demand The idea: When heroine Katniss Everdeen suffers a bee sting in The Hunger Games, a tiny parachute-like drone drops the medication she needs at her feet in the middle of the woods. The idea isn’t as far-fetched as it seems: Matternet is developing an unmanned drone that can carry between two and four pounds of medicine, vaccines, and blood samples. The Palo Alto-based start-up’s goal is to give patients that live in hard-to-reach areas access to much-needed medical supplies. Mind-blowing factor: According to the company, nearly 1 billion people are unable to get medical aid because of where they live. Currently, the size of Matternet's drones limits what it can deliver, but eventually the company plants to develop pilotless vehicles that can transport heavier supplies and even people. 4. X-ray vision The idea: The typical motion detector with infrared sensors has weaknesses: It must be cleaned, it’s sensitive to temperature changes and dust, and it doesn’t work if obstructed or deployed in large open spaces. Salt Lake City-based Xandem has developed a new kind of technology that not only solves these problems but also has a superhero-like power: It can “see” through walls to sense movement. Mind-blowing factor: Intruders can’t beat this system: There is no place to hide from these small, card-size nodes because they can be embedded in walls, beams, and furniture. The technology could be used in households and commercial buildings, but the company also claims that it’s sensitive enough to protect government buildings that require the highest level of security. 5. Digital pills to track your health The idea: How do you know if your medication is really working? One way to know is to look inside the body. Proteus has developed a small, swallowable sensor that lets you do exactly that. There are no wires or batteries - the sensor, which has received FDA approval, is powered completely by your own stomach fluids. A disposable patch worn on the body captures data from the sensor and relays it to your - or your doctor’s - mobile device. Mind-blowing factor: This is the only sensor of its kind to run solely on body fluids. Co-founder and CEO Andrew Thompson says the bigger idea behind Proteus is that it could help patients seek preventive treatment. "Right now we have a sickcare system,” Thompson says. "What we need is a healthcare system." http://www.inc.com/maeghan-ouimet/big-ideas/5-mind-blowing-ideas.html?nav=popBrightListsSurf’s up! Seven ways to ride the waves of change20 November 2012
A surfer’s guide to confronting an ocean of opportunities, and catching the big waves back to the shore. By Srinivas Rao www.99u.com Life is like the ocean: sometimes it's stormy, choppy, and a complete mess. Other times it's calm and perfect. In the ocean, risk and opportunity go hand-in-hand. The more waves you go for, the more you'll catch. Every day in the water and every wave presents a new opportunity. As a surfer, every time I get in the water it's a risk, every time I paddle for a wave it's a risk, and every time I catch wave it's a risk. Surfing is completely unpredictable, which keeps me constantly coming back for more. But there's a strong correlation between your success and your tolerance for risks in both the ocean and life - and both require the same approach and process: 1. Get in the water As you stand on the shore suiting up, you can watch other surfers catch wave after wave, in anticipation of the perfect ride. But you're not going to catch any waves unless you're in the water. The more waves you go for, the more you'll catch. The game of life is quite similar. It's exciting to watch people start companies, push their limits, and experience new things. But living vicariously through other people just means you'll be standing on the shore watching others catch waves your entire life. 2. Understand and accept the fear When you initially get in the water on a bigger-than-average surf day, the excitement you felt on shore dissipates and turns into fear. Every surfer strives to align themselves perfectly for the "take off point" of a wave, but in order to get there you have to get past the rough whitewater. Like the whitewater, you will face obstacles that seem like they're there to keep you from getting to your goal. But you have to realise they're just a part of taking risks. 3. Go for it Waves are completely unpredictable, which makes surfing thrilling and terrifying at the same time. As each wave rolls in and you contemplate going for it, you'll have an initial tinge of doubt. The only way to know if you'll make it is to go for it. It's best to catch a wave just as it's setting up, when there is enough incline to catch it, but before the wave goes concave. When opportunities present themselves, you'll experience doubt. This is completely natural. Instead of fighting the doubt, let it be. If we embrace it, it tends to dissipate. 4. Embrace uncertainty There's a moment on a wave known as "the drop." It's the moment when either our hopes are crushed or our hard work comes to fruition. It's also the most uncertain moment of a wave. A wave's shape is in constant flux and the surfer must adjust accordingly. But the shape also has a tendency to disappear or "close out," meaning that a seemingly perfect wave can crumble into whitewater, leaving a surfer scrambling. You have to embrace the uncertainty of it all and remember that the more waves you go for, the more you'll catch. 5. Enjoy the bliss The moment you stand up on your board something magical happens: fear, doubt and uncertainty dissolve, transforming into absolute happiness. Some researchers call this being “in the zone” or “in flow.” Standing up on your board is the moment when your risk pays off. Everything you went through to get there will seem worth it. 6. Reflect on the choice One of my friends once said that "surfing is the greatest natural high in the world." Maybe it's because it forces us to be truly present - there's nothing else on our minds when riding a wave, both literally and figuratively. Catching that perfect wave can bring a peaceful calm to your life. Once you know the consequences of your risk (whether good or bad), you're overcome by a sense of calm. You're no longer forced to confront a fear of the unknown. 7. Do it all again After you catch that first wave and the adrenaline kicks in, all you can think about is catching the next one. You're overcome by a sense of confidence that anything is possible. A surfer may call this being "stoked." You realise what you're capable of and become interested in continuing to defy your own limits. There's nothing else on our minds when riding a wave, both literally and figuratively. Talk to a surfer and he or she will tell you "all it takes is one good wave and you'll be hooked." The way you develop a tolerance for risk is by going for your wave.BrightStuffDo we really only use 10% of our brains?20 November 2012
It’s a brain-teaser of note…the notion that human beings use only 10% of their available brainpower. But is it true? Claudia Hammond of the BBC puts the theory to the test. It’s amazing just how many medical myths there are to choose from, but one part of the body seems to attract more than its fair share, and that’s the brain. One of my favourite brain myths is the idea that we only use 10% of it. It’s an appealing idea because it suggests the possibility that we could become so much more intelligent, successful or creative, if only you could harness that wasted 90%. This might inspire us to try harder, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean there’s any truth in it. First of all, it’s important to ask the question – 10% of what? If it is 10% of the regions of the brain to which people are referring, this is the easiest idea to quash. Using a technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging, neuroscientists can place a person inside a scanner and see which parts of the brain are activated when they do or think about something. A simple action like clenching and unclenching your hand or saying a few words requires activity in far more than a tenth of the brain. Even when you think you are doing nothing your brain is doing rather a lot – whether it’s controlling functions like breathing and heart rate, or recalling the items on your to-do list. But maybe the 10% refers to number of brain cells. Again this doesn’t work. When any nerve cells are going spare they either degenerate and die off or they are colonised by other areas nearby. We simply don’t let our brain cells hang around idly. They’re too valuable for that. In fact our brains are a huge drain on our resources. Keeping brain tissue alive consumes 20% of the oxygen we breathe, according to cognitive neuroscientist Sergio Della Sala. Yet many people do cling on to the idea that we only use 10% of our brains. So how can an idea with so little biological or physiological basis have spread so widely? It is hard to track down an original source. The American psychologist and philosopher William James mentioned in The Energies of Men in 1908 that we “are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources". He was optimistic that people could achieve more, but he does not refer to brain volume or quantity of cells, nor does he give a specific percentage. The 10% figure is mentioned in the preface to the 1936 edition of Dale Carnegie’s best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People, and sometimes people say that Albert Einstein was the source. But Professor Della Sala has tried to find the quote, and even those who work at the Albert Einstein archives can find no record of it. So it seems this might be a myth too. There are two other phenomena that might account for the misunderstanding. Nine-tenths of the cells in the brain are so-called glial cells. These are the support cells, the white matter, which provide physical and nutritional help for the other 10% of cells, the neurons, which make up the grey matter than does the thinking. So perhaps people heard that only 10% of the cells do the hard graft and assumed that we could harness the glial cells too. But these are different kind of cells entirely. There is no way that they could suddenly transform themselves into neurons, giving us extra brain power. It is, of course, true that if we put our minds to it we can learn new things, and there is increasing evidence in the area of neuroplasticity showing that this changes our brains. But we are not tapping into a new area of the brain. We create new connections between nerve cells or lose old connections that we no longer need. What I find most intriguing about this myth is how disappointed people are when you tell them it’s not true. Maybe it’s the figure of 10% that is so appealing because it is so low that it offers massive potential for improvement. We’d all like to be better. And we can be better if we try. But, sadly, finding an unused portion of our brains isn’t the way it’s going to happen. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121112-do-we-only-use-10-of-our-brains
BrightStuffAn answer to the most puzzling question in the world20 November 2012
Have you ever wondered why you can’t tickle yourself? A proper answer to the age-old conundrum, at last, from neuroscientist David Eagelman Why can’t you tickle yourself? To understand why, you need to know more about how your brain works. One of its main tasks is to try to make good guesses about what's going to happen next. While you're busy getting on with your life, walking downstairs or eating your breakfast, parts of your brain are always trying to predict the future. Remember when you first learned how to ride a bicycle? At first, it took a lot of concentration to keep the handlebars steady and push the pedals. But after a while, cycling became easy. Now you're not aware of the movements you make to keep the bike going. From experience, your brain knows exactly what to expect so your body rides the bike automatically. Your brain is predicting all the movements you need to make. You only have to think consciously about cycling if something changes - like if there's a strong wind or you get a flat tyre. When something unexpected happens like this, your brain is forced to change its predictions about what will happen next. If it does its job well, you'll adjust to the strong wind, leaning your body so you don't fall. Why is it so important for our brains to predict what will happen next? It helps us make fewer mistakes and can even save our lives. Because your brain is always predicting your own actions, and how your body will feel as a result, you cannot tickle yourself. Other people can tickle you because they can surprise you. You can't predict what their tickling actions will be. And this knowledge leads to an interesting truth: if you build a machine that allows you to move a feather, but the feather moves only after a delay of a second, then you can tickle yourself. The results of your own actions will now surprise you. *This is an excerpt from Big Questions from Little People & Simple Answers from Great Minds (HarperCollins), a handbook for curious children and their perplexed parents, by Gemma Elwin Harris. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/TW8Tbs.BrightStuffSharp find pinpoints Mossel Bay12 November 2012
The origins of fine industrial design, complex thinking, and technological dexterity can be traced to a cave in Mossel Bay Reports Agençe France-Presse Small blades found in a South African cave have provided proof that humans were advanced thinkers making stone tools 71,000 years ago – millennia earlier than thought. The find suggests early humans from Africa had a capacity for complex thought and weapons production that gave them a distinct evolutionary advantage over Neanderthals, say the authors of a study published in Nature. Scientists agree that our lineage appeared in Africa more than 100,000 years ago. But there is much debate about when Homo sapiens' cultural and cognitive character began resembling that of modern humans. Small, manufactured blades such as those found in hunting arrows were first thought to have appeared in South Africa between 65,000 and 60,000 years ago. Now, a team of scientists say they have found much older blades, called microliths, produced by chipping away at heat-treated stone, in a cave near Mossel Bay on South Africa's south coast. "Our research shows that microlithic technology originated early in South Africa, evolved over a vast time span [about 11,000 years] and was typically coupled to complex heat treatment," the study authors wrote. "Advanced technologies in Africa were early and enduring," they said. They added that long absences of tool-use evidence in the palaeontological record are explained by the relatively small number of sites excavated to date, not by an ebb and flow in early man's technological know-how. The find is evidence that early modern humans in South Africa had the ability to make complex designs and teach others to copy them, said the researchers. This would have allowed them to produce tools like arrows with a much longer killing distance than hand-cast spears. "Microlith-tipped projectile weapons increased hunting success rate, reduced injury from hunting encounters gone wrong, extended the effective range of lethal interpersonal violence," wrote the team. It would also have conferred "substantive advantages on modern humans as they left Africa and encountered Neanderthals equipped only with hand-cast spears". Neanderthals lived in parts of Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East for up to 300,000 years but appear to have vanished some 40,000 years ago. In a comment on the study, also published by Nature, anthropologist Sally McBrearty from the University of Connecticut, USA, said humans making the monoliths would have chipped small blades from stone carefully selected for its texture and heat-treated to make it easier to work with. They would then have retouched the blades into geometric shapes, probably for use in arrows to be shot from bows. This, in turn, meant the makers would have had to collect other materials such as wood, fibres, feathers, bone and sinew over a period of days, weeks or months, interrupted by other, more urgent tasks. "The ability to hold and manipulate operations and images of objects in memory, and to execute goal-directed procedures over space and time, is termed executive function and is an essential component of the modern mind," McBrearty wrote.BrightLivesOne-legged golfer on course for greatness05 November 2012
Life is no handicap for this young golfing star, whose attitude and aptitude have taken him a fair way to victory. Via South Africa, the Good News Daniël Slabbert is no ordinary 21-year-old. He was a veteran of the golf course and a championship-winner before he made it to his twenties. He also happens to be an amputee, but that does not hold back this driven, energetic young man. Thanks to the right prosthetics and the right attitude, he is capable of more than most other men his age. Daniël was just 14 years old when a trampoline accident caused a severe injury to his leg. Doctors were unable to repair the damage and they had to perform a through-the-knee amputation. After the amputation, the wound to Daniël’s leg took a few months to heal and his rehabilitation started. He was fitted with a prosthetic leg and started his road to recovery. The spirited young man stayed positive, despite this unfortunate accident, and he pressed on, making each day a personal victory. Before the accident, Daniël was a keen golfer, having inherited his considerable aptitude for the sport from his father. He continued playing after losing his leg, garnering a reputation as a brilliant young golfer as the years passed. He also started playing in several tournaments for the South African Disabled Golf Association. At one of these tournaments, a spectator noticed that Daniël had difficulty walking comfortably. "I was put in touch with Marco du Plooy, a brilliant prosthetist from Pretoria. I met with him, and I was impressed with the way he built prosthetic limbs," says Daniël. "Marco was very accommodating and attentive in his approach – and he understands that a great prosthetic leg is reliant upon a great foot, knee and socket (the part where the remaining part of the amputated leg fits into the prosthetic leg). However, the most important thing is that the leg fits properly and comfortably. The sockets Marco builds are a cut above the rest and he has been making my legs ever since," Slabbert explains. Slabbert continues his success as a golfer, while working towards his PGA-diploma. He also currently holds the title of the SA Disabled Golf Champion. He first won the title in 2011 and successfully defended it again this year at the Langebaan Country Estate. The young champ is not planning to slow down at all – he continues to work on his game and has even dropped his handicap to two. "I am very fortunate to have the best leg prosthetic technology is capable of creating and to have a solid relationship with Marco du Plooy – one of the best prosthetists in the business", says Slabbert. "It just helps me to do my best on the golf course." Daniël is in his element when playing, just enjoying every moment. He is living proof that a positive attitude and the belief in one’s own talents are no match for adversity. South African’s everywhere look forward to seeing what this brilliant young golfer will accomplish in the future.
BrightStuffThe 3 superhero powers of great innovators05 November 2012
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s an innovator, about to change the world! Here’s how. By Mike Maddock, Forbes Superhero power #1: They have x-ray vision Most business people fall into the trap of thinking they are in a “what” business. They become so fixated on what they sell that their whole world revolves around a product or service instead of the people it’s meant to serve. Symptoms of this malady include product-focused sales goals, minimal to no consumer research, marketing and ads that focus on some super cool (and expensive) technology, and new products that are conceived by the people (agents, distributors, doctors and professors) who sell the “what” instead of the too-often-overlooked consumer or customer. Innovators have x-ray vision. They easily look beyond the latest and greatest gizmos and outdated sales models to find underserved and underwhelmed people in the crowd. Their x-ray vision (which turns out to be empathy) gives them the ability to focus on “who” not what, and consequentially allows them to imagine and create new products, services and business models that most businesses could never imagine in a million years. Today, whoever knows the consumer best and fastest wins, so you must push to move your business from a “what” business to a “who” business by learning to understand the “whos” better than anyone in your category. Superhero power #2: They see the future Innovators have the ability to imagine the future and then charge ahead toward making that vision a reality. They are not concerned about limited resources, limited experience or even limited amounts of encouragement; they are so committed to what they envision, they just start building. They build the bridge as they cross it. While this enterprising style often gets them into trouble, it just as often gives them a competitive advantage over slower, more conservative competitors. Why? Because they may be on version eight of an idea before that play-it-safe competitor has mustered the guts to start building its first prototype. And with each attempt comes new lessons that make our superhero smarter and more emboldened. The lesson? If you are a futurist, find yourself a pragmatic partner who can keep you focused and on strategy. If you’re more pragmatic, find a partner who can pull you toward the future. Walt Disney needed Roy. Bill Gates needed Paul Allen. Superhero power #3: They are uber curious Show me an overly curious child and I’ll show you a future innovator. There is perhaps no greater superhero power than curiosity. Why? Because in my experience, curious people are naturally grateful. They look for possibility. They expect good things to happen. They sense that opportunity is all around them. They look for treasure in every room, in every relationship and every challenge. And since they are the ones looking for treasure, they are usually the ones who find it. The lesson? Be grateful and curious. And if you can’t be, make sure you build a team of people that has enough curiosity to share.BrightLists6 steps to get more stuff done05 November 2012
Technology is great, but it can distract us to the point where productivity suffers. Here's how to minimise the disruptions. By Karl Stark and Bill Stewart, Inc. Let's face it: Despite all of the positives associated with today's rapidly changing business environment, technology can also cause distractions and put a strain on our productivity. You answer 10 emails only to have 20 more in your inbox. You are expected to be available 24/7. You have to schedule conference calls with people across the globe. You are tempted to text and email during meetings. You can't stay off Twitter during the workday. Whatever your personal distractions may be, following these six simple steps should help you to increase personal productivity and job performance. 1. Do the worst first Whenever possible, we like to get up early, sometimes before others are even awake, and knock out the most important (or most arduous) tasks of the day before the phone calls and emails start rolling in. This can be the most productive part of the day, and it feels great to have your most time-consuming or undesirable task completed first thing. If you are not a morning person, then identify your personal peak time in which you are able to fully dedicate yourself to your highest-priority task. 2. Break projects into chunks It's easy to get overwhelmed with large, ongoing projects. A good trick is to consistently chip away at the project to avoid procrastinating and finding yourself in a bind. By taking one large project and separating it into individual mini-projects with individual deadlines, you can achieve small wins each day to keep yourself motivated and on track. 3. Pay attention We've all had that moment in a meeting where we are asked a question only to realize we weren't fully paying attention. Put down your phone and shut off your laptop during conference calls or meetings. Don't just go through the motions; nothing is worth doing unless you are fully engaged. We understand it might be difficult to disconnect, but give it a shot. Trust us - you will be amazed at how much more you get out of meetings by giving them your full attention. 4. The inbox can wait Responsiveness is critical for professionals at all levels. However, don't let the influx of emails distract you from getting your work done. Designate communication-free times in which you dedicate 60 to 90 minutes to real work. If you are a manager, it is also helpful to set the tone at the top by not expecting others to be available 24/7. 5. Write everything down This tip comes from David Allen's book Getting Things Done. Any time an idea or to-do pops into your head, immediately write it down. This isn't rocket science, but we often have so much on our plates or so many back-to-back meetings that we can forget critical thoughts and ideas we have throughout the day. 6. Take breaks An often overlooked pillar of productivity is to make time for yourself to do something you truly enjoy. Whether it be reading industry-related articles, taking an exercise class, or leaving a little early to eat dinner with your family, it is important to take the time to refuel and recharge so you are ready to attack your to-do list again tomorrow. The most important part of this process is finding a system that works for you and sticking to it. And always remember to fully engage in whatever it is you are doing, whether it be a project, a client meeting, or even vacation. *http://www.inc.com/karl-and-bill/6-steps-to-getting-more-stuff-done.htmlBrightStuffWhy laughter is such good exercise01 November 2012
Instead of lolling about on the couch, try lolling at a funny movie. It may do you the world of good. By Gretchen Reynolds, The Well, NYT Is laughter a kind of exercise? That offbeat question is at the heart of a new study of laughing and pain that emphasises how unexpectedly entwined our bodies and emotions can be. For the study, researchers at Oxford University recruited a large group of undergraduate men and women. They then set out to make their volunteers laugh. Most of us probably think of laughter, if we think of it at all, as a response to something funny — as, in effect, an emotion. But laughter is fundamentally a physical action. “Laughter involves the repeated, forceful exhalation of breath from the lungs,” says Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford, who led the study. “The muscles of the diaphragm have to work very hard.” We’ve all heard the phrase “laugh until it hurts,” he points out. That pain isn’t metaphoric; prolonged laughing can be painful and exhausting. Rather like a difficult workout. But does laughter elicit a physiological response similar to that of exercise and, if so, what might that reveal about the nature of exertion? To find out, Dr Dunbar and his colleagues had their volunteers watch, alone and as part of a group, a series of short videos that were either comic or dryly factual documentaries. But first, the volunteers submitted to a test of their pain threshold, as determined by how long they could tolerate a tightening blood pressure cuff or a frozen cooling sleeve. The decision to introduce pain into this otherwise fun-loving study stems from one of the more well-established effects of strenuous exercise: that it causes the body to release endorphins, or natural opiates. And in Dr Dunbar’s experiments, pain thresholds did go up after people watched the funny videos, but not after they viewed the factual documentaries. The only difference between the two experiences was that in one, people laughed, a physical reaction that the scientists quantified with audio monitors. They could hear their volunteers belly-laughing. Their abdominal muscles were contracting. Their endorphin levels were increasing in response, and both their pain thresholds and their general sense of amiable enjoyment were on the rise. The physical act of laughing contributed to the emotional response of finding something to be funny. Why the interplay of endorphins and laughing should be of interest to those of us who exercise may not be immediately obvious. But as Dr Dunbar points out, what happens during one type of physical exertion probably happens in others. Laughter is an intensely infectious activity. In this study, people laughed more readily and lustily when they watched the comic videos as a group than when they watched them individually, and their pain thresholds, concomitantly, rose higher after group viewing. Something similar may happen when people exercise together, Dr Dunbar says. In an experiment from 2009, he and his colleagues studied a group of elite Oxford rowers, asking them to work out either on isolated rowing machines, separated from one another in a gym, or on a machine that simulated full, synchronised crew rowing. In that case, the rowers were exerting themselves in synchrony, as a united group. After they exercised together, the rowers’ pain thresholds — and presumably their endorphin levels — were significantly higher than they had been at the start, but also higher than when they rowed alone. “We don’t know why synchrony has this effect, but it seems very strong,” Dr Dunbar says. So if you typically run or bike alone, perhaps consider finding a partner. Your endorphin response might rise and, at least theoretically, render that unpleasant final hill a bit less daunting. Or if you prefer exercising alone, perhaps occasionally entertain yourself with a good joke. But don’t expect forced laughter to lend you an edge, Dr. Dunbar says. “Polite titters do not involve the repeated, uninhibited series of exhalations” that are needed to “drive the endorphin effect,” he says. With laughter, as with exercise, it seems, there really is no gain without some element of pain.
BrightLists12 delightfully “old school” things to do with ten free minutes22 October 2012
Got a little time on your hands? Go back in time to the pre-digital days with these simple, pleasing activities. By Becky Gaylord, 12most.com The more technology swirls around us, the more it seems we crave glimpses of a slightly slower time, when people didn’t send a text message first to see if someone was available to Skype. Here’s a list of some things to do if you find ten minutes on your hands. Oh, and put down your smartphones. These are all throwbacks to, let’s say, a quainter era. 1. Write a thank you note So, you didn’t just have a birthday? Or don’t “owe” anyone a note of gratitude? How about leaving a card for the postman, or your son’s teacher? Or your mom? 2. Clear a pile on your desk Oh, the light sense of freedom that banishing some clutter can create! You won’t get your whole office straightened, but don’t let that deter you. Even a few minutes of desk-clearing can bring a solid sense of progress and accomplishment. 3. Cuddle someone you love You might be getting dinner ready, or doing laundry or making the grocery list. These tasks are all important. But they can also be pushed aside for a few minutes. Go find your kids, your partner or your furry four-legged companion and give ‘em a good squeezing. 4. Make amends Ten minutes is not going to afford enough time to delve into a soul-searching quest to repair serious interpersonal damage. But, were you short with your sister on the phone yesterday? A little snippy in that email to a friend? Maybe too curt with a colleague this morning? Take a moment and let them know you’re sorry about it. 5. Sew on a button At one time or another, most of us have had an item of clothing we kept aside in the closet because it was missing a button. Take a few minutes to fix it, and you’ll thank yourself next time you’re running late and need that garment. 6. Breathe Close your eyes, quieten your mind and drink in some soul-calming oxygen. 7. Allow yourself to daydream Give yourself permission to let your brain have a micro-mini vacation. It’s okay — and probably even necessary — every once in awhile to just be. 8. Offer to help someone Undoubtedly, you have a skill that others really value. A colleague, neighbor or friend might dread a task that you find relatively easy, or even fun. So help them out. It could make a world of difference. 9. Smile When you’re out doing a quick errand, smile at the store assistant helping you. Or at the other customer in line. Or at the harried mom who looks like she needs a break. A pleasant, genuine smile is a small gift. Why not spend a few minutes passing out some free joy? 10. Reconnect with a friend Life gets so busy that we sometimes forget to make time for people we love to see. Pick up the phone and set a date to get together. 11. Do something nice for yourself Eat a healthy snack. Stretch. Book a massage or some other treat. Go ahead, you deserve it! 12. Be grateful We all have days that are tough to bear. But we also have so much to be thankful for, if we stop to think about it. Remind yourself of a few of them and reflect about how fortunate you are.BrightStuff10 smart tips for shooting better pics with your smartphone22 October 2012
Always close to hand, camera-equipped cellphones have revolutionised the art of picture-taking. Here’s how to use them effectively. By Stan Horaczek, popphoto.com 1. Get close Many cell phone cameras, especially the iPhone, really start to shine when you bring them in close to your subject. The small sensor provides a relatively wide depth of field so you can get entire objects in focus where cameras with bigger sensors and longer lenses would have trouble. 2. Crop, don't zoom Many smartphone cameras offer a digital zoom function, but you're almost always best served by pretending it doesn't exist. Even in the liveview preview, you'll be able to see how noticeably your images degrade the second you start to "zoom." When you're cropping, however, you're actually just sampling pixel info that was actually recorded. Many smartphones have 8-megapixels of resolution and sometimes more. That means you can crop substantially and still have plenty of resolution left for display on the web. 3. Edit, don't filter If you want your images to be unique, the last thing you should do is paint them with the same filters that millions of other people are using. I suggest getting a full-on image editing app like the excellent SnapSeed, Photoshop Express, or iPhoto. They'll let you make reasonable adjustments, like contrast, sharpness, and colour temperature. Stuff you'd actually do with images from your big camera. 4. Don't add fake blur Depth of field will always be one of the biggest challenges for a smartphone camera. Wide angle lenses and tiny sensors make any substantial background blur difficult to achieve. But faking it almost always makes things worse. If you want the viewer to focus on one specific thing, make it the central object in the frame. Try to keep your backgrounds simple, even if it means asking your subjects to turn around or move a few steps back. 5. Pick a better camera app This applies more to iPhone users than Android users, but in any case, the goal is more control. There are a couple of standard choices in this category and any of them will treat you better than the stock camera app. Whatever you pick, it's worth spending a little time getting used to the app. It seems silly to take out your phone and practice taking pictures, but you'll be glad you did it if you manage to catch a great shot while others are still flipping through pages of apps or trying to turn off their flash. 6. Ditch the flash The problem with many smartphone flashes is that they don't actually, well, flash. They're glorified LED flashlights, thrust into a duty they're not fully prepared for. They are bright, but they miss one of the primary duties of a strobe: freezing the action in the frame. So, what do you do in the dark, then? Often, your best bet is to seek out another light source. It likely won't be perfect or even flattering, but it can be interesting. In a dark bar? Look for a neon sign or a bright juke box. At a concert? Wait until one of the wacky swinging stage lights makes its way over to your area. Photography is about creativity after all. 7. Keep your lens clean Your pocket is not a clean place, and the grime that lives within loves to get onto your smartphone camera lens. The hazy, dark images that won't look good no matter how many retro filters you slap on them. The lenses are now remarkably tough, so giving them a quick wipe with a soft cloth can't hurt. It may not look dirty and you might not even notice it in your photos, but often a deep clean will make a difference. 8. Watch the lens flare Adding lens flare is another trend in mobile photography that is getting more overdone by the minute. But this one can actually work for you if you do it the natural way. The tiny lenses are often more prone to wacky light effects than their full-sized counterparts, so you can really play it up if you want to. A silhouette with a bright, flaring background can look very stylish. 9. Make prints Putting photos to paper makes them tangible and take away some of the assumptions people often make when looking at photos online. Chances are, if the photo is good, you'll get the whole "you took this with your phone?" reaction that you're looking for. 10. Don't forget the rules of photography The rules for taking a good picture don't change when you switch cameras. Just because your camera can also make calls, doesn't mean you should ignore everything you know about balanced composition and expressive lighting.BrightStuffWhy you need to do absolutely nothing every now and again22 October 2012
Taking a few minutes out of your day to do nothing but meditate can be good for you, your work, and your life in general, says business adviser Peter Bregman, in the Harvard Business Review. This morning, like every morning, I sat cross-legged on a cushion on the floor, rested my hands on my knees, closed my eyes, and did nothing but breathe for 20 minutes. People say the hardest part about meditating is finding the time to meditate. This makes sense: who these days has time to do nothing? It's hard to justify. Meditation brings many benefits: It refreshes us, helps us settle into what's happening now, makes us wiser and gentler, helps us cope in a world that overloads us with information and communication, and more. But if you're still looking for a business case to justify spending time meditating, try this one: Meditation makes you more productive. How? By increasing your capacity to resist distracting urges. Our ability to resist an impulse determines our success in learning a new behaviour or changing an old habit. It's probably the single most important skill for our growth and development. As it turns out, that's one of the things meditation teaches us. It's also one of the hardest to learn. When I sat down to meditate this morning, relaxing a little more with each out-breath, I was successful in letting all my concerns drift away. My mind was truly empty of everything that had concerned it before I sat. Everything except the flow of my breath. My body felt blissful and I was at peace. For about four seconds. Within a breath or two of emptying my mind, thoughts came flooding in — nature abhors a vacuum. I felt an itch on my face and wanted to scratch it. A great title for my next book popped into my head and I wanted to write it down before I forgot it. I thought of at least four phone calls I wanted to make and one difficult conversation I was going to have later that day. I became anxious, knowing I only had a few hours of writing time. What was I doing just sitting here? I wanted to open my eyes and look at how much time was left on my countdown timer. I heard my kids fighting in the other room and wanted to intervene. Here's the key though: I wanted to do all those things, but I didn't do them. Instead, every time I had one of those thoughts, I brought my attention back to my breath. Sometimes, not following through on something you want to do is a problem, like not writing that proposal you've been procrastinating on or not having that difficult conversation you've been avoiding. But other times, the problem is that you do follow through on something you don't want to do. Like speaking instead of listening or playing politics instead of rising above them. Meditation teaches us to resist the urge of that counterproductive follow through. And while I've often noted that it's easier and more reliable to create an environment that supports your goals than it is to depend on willpower, sometimes, we do need to rely on plain, old-fashioned, self-control. Meditating daily will strengthen your willpower muscle. Your urges won't disappear, but you will be better equipped to manage them. And you will have experience that proves to you that the urge is only a suggestion. You are in control. Does that mean you never follow an urge? Of course not. Urges hold useful information. If you're hungry, it may be a good indication that you need to eat. But it also may be an indication that you're bored or struggling with a difficult piece of work. Meditation gives you practice having power over your urges so you can make intentional choices about which to follow and which to let pass. So how do you do it? If you're just starting, keep it very simple. Sit with your back straight enough that your breathing is comfortable — on a chair or a cushion on the floor — and set a timer for however many minutes you want to meditate. Once you start the timer, close your eyes, relax, and don't move except to breathe, until the timer goes off. Focus on your breath going in and out. Every time you have a thought or an urge, notice it and bring yourself back to your breath. That's it. Simple but challenging. Try it — today — for five minutes. And then try it again tomorrow. This morning, after my meditation, I went to my home office to start writing. A few minutes later, Sophia, my seven-year-old, came in and told me the kitchen was flooded. Apparently Daniel, my five-year-old, filled a glass of water and neglected to turn off the tap. Oops. In that moment, I wanted to scream at both Daniel and Sophia. But my practice countered that urge. I took a breath. Then, together, we went into action mode. We got every towel in the house — and a couple of blankets — and mopped it all up, laughing the whole time. When we were done soaking up the water, we talked about what happened. Finally, we all walked together to our downstairs neighbors and took responsibility for the flood, apologised, and asked if we could help them clean up the mess. After that, I had lost an hour of writing. If I was going to meet my deadline, I needed to be super-productive. So I ate a quick snack and then ignored every distracting urge I had for two hours — no email, no phone calls, no cute Youtube videos — until I finished my piece, which I did with 30 minutes to spare. Who says meditation is a waste of time?
BrightStuffThe brain-boosting power of a power nap22 October 2012
A good “power nap” can set your thinking free, reports Amanda Gardner, of Health.com We've all been there: After struggling over a problem for hours, we rest our eyes for a few minutes and suddenly the answer is lying before us, clear as day. This common phenomenon has contributed to the idea of the so-called power nap, a quick snatch of rest that stops short of deep sleep yet somehow manages to refresh and stimulate. Although there is much about the power nap that remains a mystery, researchers have begun to uncover the brain processes behind the little miracles it produces. Researchers monitoring the brain activity of 15 at-rest individuals found that the right side of their brain - the hemisphere most associated with creativity - chattered busily to itself as well as to the left hemisphere, which remained relatively quiet. "The right side of the brain was better integrated," says study author Andrei Medvedev, an assistant professor at Georgetown University's Center for Functional and Molecular Imaging in Washington. Medvedev had expected the left side of the brain to be better integrated, since that hemisphere tends to be dominant in right-handed people (and vice versa in left-handed people). All but two of the study participants - and fully 95% of the general population - are right-handed. The division of labour between the right and left sides of the brain isn't as clear-cut as once thought. Generally, though, the right hemisphere is associated with creative tasks, such as visualisation and big-picture thinking, while the left is more analytic, specialising in numbers and language processing. It's not yet clear how, or if, the new study results fit into this framework. But Medvedev speculates that the right brain may be performing important "housecleaning" tasks during a nap. The most important of these is probably the consolidation of memories, although other tasks are probably involved as well, he says. This hypothesis jibes with the current understanding of the essential role that sleep plays in memory formation, says Dr. Suresh Kotagal, a professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "We are exposed to certain pieces of information, but if we get to sleep on it, the sleep seems to facilitate the transfer of information from the short-term memory bank into the more permanent memory bank," says Kotagal, who was not involved in the study. Dr. Jonathan Friedman, director of the Texas Brain and Spine Institute in Bryan, says the new findings come at a time of growing interest in the neuroscience of sleep. "Emerging scientific evidence suggests that naps - even very short ones - significantly enhance cognitive function," Friedman says. "Increasing understanding of how sleep improves brain function may someday allow us to harness this effect, and the current study may open one of many doors in this regard."BrightLivesHow a township hero is helping kids take charge of their future08 October 2012
Nominated as one of CNN’s Heroes for 2012, Thulani Madondo is making a positive difference in the township of Kliptown, Soweto. By Kathleen Tone, CNN. Brian Munyai has spent nearly all of his 22 years living in a small metal shack that has never had electricity or running water. He shares a pit latrine with his neighbours. He bathes in a bucket with water drawn from the communal tap. At night, he reads by an oil lamp. Conditions like this are typical for the nearly 40,000 people who live in the slums of Kliptown, a district in the largely black township of Soweto, South Africa. The community has long suffered from high rates of unemployment, crime and school dropouts, and the end of apartheid more than two decades ago did little to change the situation. "Living in Kliptown ... I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy," Munyai said. "We are simply trying to survive." Raised by his aunt, who often struggled to find work, Munyai found basic necessities like food and clothing difficult to come by. But although his circumstances didn't make it easy, he was determined to get an education. "I spent a lot of time without a school uniform," he said, recalling the embarrassment he felt being different from classmates from middle-class neighbourhoods. "Going to school with a hungry stomach ... it was very tough." Munyai worked hard, however, and in high school, he heard about the Kliptown Youth Program. The after-school program, commonly known as KYP, provided him with intensive tutoring that helped him pass his senior exams and find funding to attend the University of Johannesburg. He recently earned a national diploma in banking. Stories like this motivate Thulani Madondo, the director and co-founder of KYP. A lifelong Kliptown resident, he has a goal of helping people like Munyai change their lives and their community through education. Madondo's group provides academic support, meals and after-school activities to 400 children. Madondo, 30, grew up in a family of nine and faced many of the same struggles Munyai endured. Financial pressure forced all of his older siblings to drop out of high school. Ultimately, he couldn't afford to go to college, which was a disappointment. "It was hard. ... You feel like you have no power over your future," Madondo said. It's that mentality that Madondo and several other young Kliptown residents were looking to change when they founded the program five years ago. Rather than wait for the government to come to the rescue, they decided to take matters into their own hands. "We didn't want to see other young people going through what we'd gone through: no uniforms ... feeling hungry in class," Madondo said. "We know the problems of this community, but we also know the solutions." The program requires a commitment from its members. Every child must come in with a parent or guardian and sign a contract. Students must agree to stay in school and attend mandatory tutoring sessions twice a week; in exchange, KYP agrees to provide uniforms, books and school fees for any student who cannot afford them. "We're not just giving handouts," said Madondo, whose group is funded by corporations and private donations. "We're making kids earn whatever they get." The organisation opens the doors to its headquarters every weekday at 7 a.m. to hand out sandwiches for students to take to school. At 2 p.m., when students flood through the gates after school, everyone gets a hot meal and the chance to have some fun. Primary school students are tutored by the program's staff twice a week; on alternate days, professional teachers work with the high school students to prepare them for the matriculation exams required at the end of 12th grade. On Fridays and Saturdays, students play sports or enjoy cultural activities like drumming or dancing. Books can be borrowed from the program's library - the only one in the community - and there are nearly 300 Internet-accessible laptops that were donated through the nonprofit One Laptop Per Child. "Not every child will want to be in the books every day," Madondo explained. "We've got to come together for fun while we also come together for academics." Teachers report that the group's members have increased confidence, greater participation in class and better grades. And over the past four years, nearly every member has passed his or her matriculation exams. So far, 21 members, including Munyai, have gone on to a university. While the Kliptown program doesn't have the resources to pay for all of its members' higher education, it does provide some financial assistance and helps members find ways to finance the rest. The organisation also tries to help the other members find internships or jobs. Madondo can be seen rushing around the program's complex six days a week. Although he's always busy, he's someone who everyone believes they can count on and look up to. The commitment of Madondo and his staff has inspired many former students to follow in their footsteps, strengthening the organisation from within. "It's such a great thing to give back," said Munyai, who makes time to tutor at least twice a week. "We can actually help the new generation to succeed. A little can go a long way." Madondo believes that each student who succeeds is paving the way to lift their family and their community out of poverty. When asked about their potential careers, the students' answers run the gamut: scientist, lawyer, editor, accountant. "Helping them, I feel excited," Madondo said. "We want them to realise there's something they can contribute to this world. We're trying to give them the sense that everything is possible." *You can vote for Thulani Madondo as a CNN Hero at http://bit.ly/QEdDky, or check out the Kliptown Youth Program at www.kliptownyouthprogram.org.za.BrightLivesKing Kenny Solomon, SA’s supreme chess athlete02 October 2012
Life is Grand for this young Master of the Ancient Game. Kenny Solomon was just a teenager, growing up in Mitchell’s Plain on the Cape Flats, when he discovered the game that would change his life. It was a tough game, calling for vast reserves of stamina, focus, discipline, and intense strategic acumen. The game of chess. In theory, anyone can learn to play the game, figuring out the moves of the kings, queens, knights, rooks, bishops and pawns on a battlefield of 64 black-and-white squares. In practise, there are more possible moves in chess than there are galaxies in the known universe – more than 100-billion – and the ancient board game is a fearsome contest of wits and wills for those who take it beyond the level of a leisurely pursuit. Like Kenny, who at the age of 13 picked up a chess book in his brother Maxwell’s bedroom and taught himself how to play the game. He proved to have a natural flair, and was soon getting the better of Maxwell – an Olympiad-quality player – in “blitz” battles in the backyard of the family home. Soon Kenny was known in the neighbourhood as King Kenny, for his checkmating prowess, but today he holds an even more impressive title. He is South Africa’s first chess Grandmaster, one of six in Africa and only 1,300 in the world. Now 32, he staked his claim to global greatness after his stunning performance at this year’s World Chess Olympiad in Istanbul. His secret? It’s in the mind as much as in the moves. “There is a strong psychology behind the game of chess,” says Kenny. “One must be able to analyse one’s opponents’ style, strengths and weaknesses and be focused enough to conceal one’s emotions.” A championship game can last up to five or six hours, so physical stamina is just as important. Kenny, who is based in Italy, gets fit by running and swimming, and his quest now, as one of the finest chess-players in the world, is to get more youngsters to pick up the pieces and learn the power of the game that changed his life.
BrightStuff12 inspiring tips for an organised office02 October 2012
Yes, it is possible to have an office that doesn’t look like the aftermath of a hurricane. Here’s how, says Kacy Paide of 12most.com. Imagine being able to find what you need when you need it. Imagine having an office you are proud to show off. Imagine having plenty of clear space where you can spread out and work, think, and create. The tips here allow for some wiggle room, letting you create a functional workspace that is uniquely yours. Here are twelve fresh ideas that you can start implementing today: 1. Know your goals (aside from having an organised office) People never get organised just for the sake of having pretty folders. They organise so that they can spend more time with their family, delegate more, workout more. It is an eye opening exercise that you should do before touching a single sheet of paper. 2. Group like with like Let this be your mantra. If I had to explain how to organise an office in just four words, this would be it. Group anything from statements and receipts to writing utensils and paperclips. It’s awfully hard to create files when you’re not looking at complete categories. This should be a very straightforward step. Don’t get caught up in where these things will go. That will come to you once you see everything in one snapshot. 3. Purge anything that is not useful or beautiful How do you know what to toss and what to keep? It really is this simple. Anything else in your office will just be in the way. This also applies to office supplies. Many people overbuy or recycle tattered folders one too many times. The more beautiful the space, the more you (and others) will respect it. 4. Be held accountable Share your immediate goals with a friend, not a family member. Have him or her check-in on you at the end of the day or week. Personally, this is how I move mountains and get things done. 5. Don’t get too hung up on going digital I constantly hear “I just want to scan it all.” This usually comes from a place of utter frustration. Going digital only works when dealing with essential, orderly papers, not piles and bags of crumpled papers. Focus first on weeding, then you’ll be in a better place to decide if going digital is necessary. 6. Start with the low-hanging fruit If purging is hard for you, go easy in the beginning. Get your sea legs by starting with what is easiest. This may mean starting with what’s oldest, such as old catalogues, starting with what’s irrelevant, such as faded grocery receipts, or what’s useless, such as dried up pens. 7. Declare your office a no ________ zone Decide to ban certain items from your office. Write the list down and post it on the door. Here are some ideas to get you started: no laundry, dead plants, kids’ toys, expired coupons, ugly office supplies, broken things, dead electronics, etc. 8. Don’t force yourself to use a filing cabinet Don’t feel bad if your files in the cabinet haven’t seen the light of day in years. Keep all essentials in plain view and reserve the cabinet for archives. Think of your cabinet as a dead end, reserved only for things you’re keeping “just in case.” 9. Label like crazy It’s nearly impossible to over-label. Labels create nice, neat lines between categories. Without labels, many categories quickly slide into the dangerous “miscellaneous” zone. 10. Create designated places for everything This rule applies to all things big and small. For example, tax archives should all be together in one, and only one spot. The same applies for bills to pay, stamps, mailing supplies, chargers, Sharpies, and more. Keep close to your desk chair only things you reach for at least once weekly. 11. Keep it visible If your office is out of order, it’s probably in part due to you being out-of-sight-out-of-mind. For many, anything filed is as good as gone. Files in drawers are best for archives. Anything active should be organized on the desktop or on the wall. Step racks and wall file pockets are good solutions. 12. Be decisive Every paper that’s out represents an unmade decision. Your decision doesn’t have to be on the paper’s final resting place, but it does have to result in it either getting trashed, acted on, or filed properly in a place where you’re 100% sure you’ll be able to find it again. Any one of these rules has the power to transform an office. It’s unlikely that you’ll have the need or focus to perfect each of these steps. I do encourage you to start with tip one, then feel your way to the next action step. There is no underestimating the value in of an inspiring, organised workspace!BrightLivesSouth Africa’s great trek for trash gets underway25 September 2012
Bugged by litter, two young South Africans are about to start a long trek to help clean up the nation. By Cadine Pillay, South African Tourism. A pair of South Africans who are determined to see cleaner beaches around the country’s coastlines are set to embark on a seven-month journey to create awareness about littering and the changes in attitude that citizens should embrace. Camilla Howard, the founder of a Cape Town cooking school, and Michael Baretta, a manager for a branding agency, plan to walk along 3 300km of coastline from Alexander Bay near the Namibian border, around the southern tip of the country and all the way up the east coast to Kosi Bay, next to the border with Mozambique. Trekking for Trash, as their initiative is called, gets underway in October, and will last until April 2013. It aims to raise awareness among South Africans about the growing problem of littering. “Camilla and I have always wanted to combine our passions,” said Baretta. “This is something we've always wanted to do and we'd really like to inspire a change in our society.” Before starting Trekking for Trash, the two researched the common reasons for littering and what this means to the South African society. “Litter is so much more than just unsightly,” explained Baretta, adding that it results in some serious environmental, social and economic issues. “Most notably it perpetuates the broken-window effect in our country.” The broken-window theory argues that a clean environment that is well maintained is a sign that the area is monitored and that criminal behaviour will not be tolerated. “If we can clean up South Africa, maybe we can reduce crime,” said Baretta. “Fundamentally it’s about an attitude of respect.” Howard added that litter is something that has always bothered the pair on a personal level, and this is prompting them to make a real difference and to change the attitudes of South Africans, especially young people, towards littering. Baretta and Howard plan to start each day of their journey at 6am and walk between 18 and 35km before resting for the day. While one carries the litter bin – which is made of cloth, and can be carried like a backpack to take about 20 litres of trash at a time – the other will be responsible for carrying their food and water supplies for the day. The objective for each day’s mission is to fill the bin as many times as possible, while identifying the problem areas with regard to littering. The pair also hope to encourage communities in the towns they will pass through to make an effort to keep their areas clean. “It's very difficult to measure change in perceptions,” said Baretta. “The strongest motivation for us would be to see how many other people we motivate to do something similar to our cause.” They plan to visit 15 schools along their route, where they will perform a skit with a theme related to littering and recycling. They plan to install recycling stations sponsored by Collect-a-Can on the schools’ grounds. The schools will participate in a programme where they will compete for a cash prize that will be given to the one that collects the most cans. The visit in each town will be marked by the delivery by Howard and Baretta of a letter to municipal authorities that testifies to the efforts of Trekking for Trash. The letter will serve as a challenge to each municipality to take up the task of cleaning up the environment. Using social media like Facebook and Twitter, Baretta and Howard will post pictures of the country’s most littered areas. By geotagging areas that are too large for the two of them to manage, the two challenge friends and fans of their initiative to take on the task of gathering volunteers to help clean them up. On a national level, they are raising funds to support informal waste collectors by providing them with protective gear, reflective outfits, gloves and also the skills to develop their small businesses.BrightIdeasWizardly GPS shoes will magic you all the way home25 September 2012
Inspired by a little girl’s travels to a faraway land, these shoes are made to help you find your way when you stray from the Yellow Brick Road. Three clicks of the heels of her spangly red shoes were all it took for a homesick Dorothy to whoosh her way back to Kansas in The Wizard of Oz. In the real world, there are no wand-waving witches to weave the spells for such flights of magic, but there is a technology that is almost as good at getting you places. GPS. Now an innovative London designer, inspired by that scene in the classic movie, has crafted an invention that could be a boon to anyone who loses their way on the Yellow Brick Road. The “No Place Like Home” shoes were designed by Dominix Wilcox, in response to a commission for a Global Footprint project in Northamptonshire, where shoes of legendary quality have been cobbled together since the 15th Century. Dominic took that craftsmanship into the modern era by embedding a GPS chip into the heel of one stylish leather shoe, which communicates wirelessly with the other shoe to point the way for the wearer. You plot your destination on a map, and upload it to the shoe using a USB cable. Then you click your heels three times, just like Dorothy, and a set of LED lights in the shoes guide you on your journey. "The progress bar starts with one red light at the beginning of the journey and ends on the green light when you arrive,” explains Dominic. “The correct direction to walk is shown by the illumination of one of the LEDs on the circle.” The soles of the shoes are illustrated with a whimsical zig-zag past a series of city landmarks, and the insides are red, in a further homage to the fancy footwear that sparked Dominic’s imagination. While the shoes were designed for an art project, they are fully functional, and could point the way to a future where no-one can easily get lost…even when they’re sure they’re not in Kansas anymore.
BrightIdeasWhy lunch isn’t for wimps anymore?17 September 2012
People are always being told that lunch is under threat from workaholism, but would a compulsory long break actually mean we achieved more? Frank Partnoy thinks so. Via BBC News Most of us rush through lunch. We might have a sandwich at our desk or grab a quick salad with a colleague. Or perhaps we skip lunch altogether. After all, breakfast is widely regarded as the most important meal of the day. Dinner is often the most enjoyable. Lunch gets short shrift. Lunch also has suffered from the crush of technology. Email, social media, and 24-hour news all eat away at lunch. Even when we have lunch alone, we rarely spend the whole time quietly reading or thinking. We are more connected to our hand-held electronic devices than our own thoughts. Given the fast pace of modern life, it is worth considering whether employers should require a substantial lunch break. One obvious reason to do lunch is to slow down and gain some perspective. If we burrow into work, and don't come up for air during the day, we will have a hard time thinking strategically or putting our daily tasks into broader context. By taking a lunch break, we can think outside the box. Where we have lunch can be almost as important as whether we have it. If we sit down at a real restaurant and take time to chat leisurely with colleagues, we are more likely to slow down than if we dash to a fast food chain. When people do lunch quickly, they often feel forced to choose fast food. But that kind of lunch experience doesn't slow us down. Instead, it speeds us up. A mandatory break would be especially helpful for people who trade stocks during their lunch break. When I worked in Morgan Stanley's derivatives group in Tokyo during the 1990s, there was a mandatory halt to trading every day for 90 minutes during lunch. I was struck by the positive impact of the break on the tempo of trading. The pause led to more rational thinking about the trading day and often helped cooler heads prevail during times of stress. We read. We contemplated strategy. Sometimes we even ate. A long, mandatory lunch would also benefit another important group - single people. It would free up time for them to do something people don't do nearly as well during the evening - go on a date. Dinner is a risky proposition for a date, especially a first one. It almost always lasts too long. If the date goes poorly, both people want to leave after an hour, but find it awkward to do so. And even dinner dates that go well probably should end sooner than they do. There is plenty of time for a second date. The two factors that matter most at the early stages of a relationship are chemistry and compatibility. You can get a sense of those during an hour-long lunch, but not based on a glance. Also, there's a hard stop so both people know the date is going to end. Although a mandatory lunch could generate substantial benefits, we are unlikely to do it on our own. When we have the choice, many of us see the salient costs of a leisurely lunch, but not the benefits. Economic growth was supposed to make us better off by creating more opportunities for leisure. Yet people feel they are working harder than ever. A mandatory break might help reverse this trend. Employers could ensure someone is on staff at all times by staggering lunch periods (11:30-13:00; 1200-13:30 and 12:30-14:00), like schools do. Finally, lunch breaks could create new opportunities for part-time work by institutionalising two half-time shifts - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. It might become easier and more acceptable to become a halftime employee if there were a clean, natural split between morning and afternoon. If our leaders want to improve economic growth and productivity, they could start by experimenting with a policy tool that is simpler than fiscal spending and less risky than monetary stimulus. How about lunch?BrightLivesTeen entrepreneur bottles a bright and healthy idea17 September 2012
With a little help from his parents, a 14-year-old set to change the future of healthy drinking. By Dinah Wisenberg Brin, YE.com. Necessity may indeed be the mother of invention. Sometimes, though, an actual mother is the necessity — for the inventor at least. That’s the case for Carter Kostler, a 14-year-old ninth-grader from Virginia Beach, USA, whose parents invested time, research and personal funds to make his vision a reality. Six months after dreaming up his concept for a fruit-infused water-bottle – a product designed with the goal of improving one’s health and the environment — Kostler’s invention received patent-pending status. And with a little help from the Kickstarter startup-funding community, he’ll soon kick his bottle-making enterprise into full gear with his first production run. The young entrepreneur expects to have 1,000 bottles arriving in stores during the first week in December, possibly in time for the Christmas shopping season. “This has been the greatest experience of my life and I consider myself so fortunate to have parents that believed in me,” he said. Kostler got the inspiration for the Define Bottle from watching his mom, Carla Weisman cut up fresh fruit in the mornings to make “spa water” in a pitcher. When she left the house, though, she couldn’t bring the fruit-infused water with her. That got him wondering, “How can we make spa water portable?” Soon, he came to his parents with sketches, and the family quickly went into action. They researched and found a patent attorney, an industrial design company and a branding firm — all, coincidentally, in California. The family never met any of the consultants in person. The industrial design firm signed a non-disclosure agreement, and started making renderings, coming up with some 40 concepts, says Weisman. The family narrowed down their choices, and the designers developed a prototype. “We really let him take the lead of his vision on it,” says Weisman, who filed the patent application in her name because her son is a minor. Kostler, who is interested in marketing, also worked on branding the bottle. And with a recommendation from the industrial designers, the family found a production facility in China. The Define Bottle is a contemporary-looking glass and bamboo cylinder that is small enough to fit in standard cup-holders, with two chambers to keep ice and fruit away from the spout. “Aside from my interest in improving health, it was important to me to do something good for the environment also,” says Kostler, who notes that fruit-infused water is healthier than soda and other artificially-flavored drinks. While Kostler has received some interest from web traffic for the Define Bottle, he says it would be premature to shop the concept around to bigger companies. Instead, he plans to focus on his startup — and high school. “I read everything I could get my hands on about being a teen entrepreneur and came across some great resources and really helpful mentors,” Kostler says. “By reaching out to people, I was surprised just how willing they were to offer advice and mentor me,” he says. “I’m 14 and actually have some pretty cool connections on LinkedIn. I emailed them, let them know my story and simply asked for advice.” “I hope that one day I am successful and can pass on my experience,” adds the ambitious young inventrepreneur.BrightSpotsThe great Cape caper12 September 2012
There’s more to the Cape than Cape Town and its mountain, as the Cape Country Meander sets out to prove. By Myrtle Ryan, IOL. The Cape Country Meander is described as a portal into a land which is green, healthy and wholesome. Who can resist such an invitation? Meanders have popped up all over as towns get together to market what they have to offer the traveller, be it accommodation, activities, food, local specialities, or fun things to take home. The local tourism body under which the Cape Country Meander falls has a name which evokes pictures of streams rushing down gorges and valleys – Theewaterskloof Tourism. The towns under its umbrella are Caledon, Elgin Valley and Grabouw, Botrivier, Greyton, Genadendal, Riviersonderend, Villiersdorp and Tesselaarsdal which, despite my extensive travels in South Africa, I had never heard of. My reputation as a wanderer who has explored most little side roads was at stake. So I felt a whole lot better when I was told few people had heard of the place. In fact, it is said to be the Cape’s most hidden village, tucked in among the mountains between Caledon, Napier and Hermanus. The village stems from the days when land was often given in payment for services, which is how a lieutenant in the Cape Cavalry, Johannes Jacobus Tesselaar, came to receive two large farms in 1748, one of which was Hartebeestrivier – the name originally given to the settlement, before it finally was renamed after its owner. Nowadays, the village is a spot where those who love roughing it on their mountain bike can find trails on nearby farms, while horse riders and 4x4 owners can enjoy their own kind of fun. When it comes to what tempts the palate, Elgin Valley/Grabouw is famous for its apples, as well as Appletiser and Grapetiser. It also produces wines and potstill brandy, while Genadendal is famous for its honeybush syrup. In Caledon, caramelised onion tart – made from the region’s Caledon globe onions – is a big drawcard. This being one of the oldest parts of our country, it is also rich in history. In 1898 medical doctor and Cape senator Sir Antonie Viljoen established the first commercial deciduous fruit orchards – thus starting our apple industry. He was knighted in 1916 for his efforts to bring together Boer and Brit after and Anglo Boer War. For me the big lure in Caledon is to soak in the hot mineral waters and in flower season stroll amid the scents and colours of the Caledon Wild Flower Garden. By the way, Errol Tobias, the first black South African to receive Springbok colours (in 1980), hails from here. As to Villiersdorp, it plays host to the Oude Radyn House, built in 1843, which is the only building in the Cape with the original wooden Batavian gutters. It is also located near the attractive Theewaterskloof dam with its mountainous backdrop. This is also where the Riviersonderend, which lends its name to the town, starts its life, then meanders some 140km to join forces with the Breede River not far north of Swellendam. As to Theewaterskloof dam, it is said to be the seventh largest dam in the country, covering some 50km2. And who can resist a place with the name of Aphrodisiac Shack Smokehouse, which provides picnic baskets for those wanting to munch lunch on the shores of the dam. You get to choose from an array of cheeses, meats, fish dishes etc and the Shack throws in a complimentary bottle of wine or soft drink and a loaf of bread. At Botrivier, Beaumont Wines on Compagnes Drift farm (the site of the Dutch East India Company’s outpost) houses one the of oldest water mill houses in the Overberg. Now it is a museum, providing insight into the history of wheat production. We also learn that Charles Darwin, during his visit in 1836, was intrigued by the rock formations in the area. Around these parts, the traveller is highly likely to encounter our national bird, the blue crane. Many years ago my best sighting was of about 50 of these elegant birds in just one field. Nowadays I doubt they are that prolific, but it is still an evocative sight if you come across them. Genadendal is probably the most fascinating. The oldest Christian mission station on the African continent was established here in 1738 by Moravian missionary George Schmidt. Schmidt was a tireless worker who diverted the Baviaans River so the settlement crops could flourish. From humble beginnings, with just 32 Khoikhoi attending reading classes in the first year, Baviaans Kloof (the original name for Genadendal) became the biggest settlement outside of Cape Town by 1798. It also opened the first teachers’ training college in the country in 1838. There is a timelessness to Genadendal, a place where you can simply walk and get the feel for another era. Perhaps you might like to spend a few silent moments under the old pear tree which served as a classroom to the early students. Incidentally, Ilse – the wife of anti-apartheid campaigner the Rev Beyers Naude – was born at this mission station. Her parents worked here throughout their lives. So, if you are in the area, this meander has something for everyone. *For more information, contact Theewaterskloof Tourism on 028 214 3300.
BrightIdeasBamboo bikes move hearts and minds in Zambia10 September 2012
Helping to break the cycle of poverty in one of Africa’s poorest countries, an innovative bicycle-manufacturing initiative is turning the wheels of small business in Zambia. By Teo Kermeliotis, for CNN. In Zambia, bicycles are grown from the ground. Making the most of the southern African country's bamboo plants, two Americans and two Zambians have set up a company that is crafting high-end, lightweight bicycles with frames made out of the locally-grown wooden weed. Dubbed Zambikes, the company is putting its custom-built Zambian bikes on roads around the world, offering pedal enthusiasts a unique ride while helping to empower local communities back home. "It's a plus to have a product that is grown in Africa, made in Africa and exported to everywhere else in the world," says Zambikes co-founder Mwewa Chikamba. "It's rare that we have such incentives coming through - mostly we are importing stuff from the rest of the world." Eye-catching, super light and extremely durable, bamboo bicycles have gained traction in recent years, becoming a popular alternative to traditional steel or aluminium bikes. The material, one of nature's fastest growing resources, has great shock absorbing abilities that contribute to a smooth and eco-friendly ride. The idea for Zambikes surfaced in 2004 when two young Americans, Vaughn Spethmann and Dustin McBride, visited Zambia on a six-week university field trip. The two college friends were impressed by the hospitality of Zambians but also witnessed first-hand the economic hardship that many of the country's people were suffering. "We noticed that unemployment was well over 60%," says 27-year-old Spethmann. "Everybody we talked to didn't have jobs or couldn't find jobs and when we looked around nobody had decent bicycles." Spethmann and McBride decided to return to Zambia straight after their graduation. They teamed up with Chikamba and fellow Zambian Gershom Sikaala and together they set the Zambikes operation in motion in July 2007. So far, the company, which employs some 40 people, has produced about 500 hand-made bamboo frames. More than just a business, the company says its mission is to save lives and develop efficient and affordable transport solutions in a country where most people live on $2 a day. Viewing social business growth as a sustainable answer to the country's economic woes, Zambikes founders say the want to benefit local communities by providing employment and skills training to the "uneducated and underprivileged." "The main goal we have is firstly to make the most vulnerable Zambians realize that they have an equal opportunity in life to excel, to move from where they are to the next point and begin to grow into what they are meant to be," says Chikamba. The company is also offering additional business training and interest-free loans to its staff as part of its commitment on community development. "Much more than just a project, the incentive we get is seeing someone on a Zambike and enabling him to do or acquire whatever he is purposed to -- that is a great reward," says Chikamba.BrightStuffA quick guide to de-gunking your gadgets10 September 2012
It’s Spring and the urge to clean can prove irresistible. So start with the gunk-prone gadgets you carry on your person every day. From Good Housekeeping. 1. Swab off smears. Fingerprints, sweat, and makeup residue can coat touchscreens and other smooth phone surfaces with a hard-to-see-through film. To quickly and safely get rid of the schmutz, wipe with a slightly dampened microfiber or lens-cleaning cloth. If your phone already has a soil-resistant coating on it (check the manual), simply wipe it with a dry cloth — anything harsher will accelerate the removal of the coating. Never use any cleaners, solvents, or abrasives on these surfaces or spritz them with anything. 2. Bust keypad dust. Clean your mobile device the same way you'd clean your computer's keyboard: Use a can of compressed air or a soft, clean brush, like a baby's toothbrush or a small paintbrush, to whisk away the dust and dirt that cause keys to stick and trackballs to stop rolling. If that's not enough, and your LOLs are still turning into LOLLLs, grab a pre-moistened electronics cleaning wipe (wring out excess moisture) and, with your fingernail or a toothpick, work it into the crevices around the buttons and the ball. 3. Clean out your earbuds. Don't be surprised if your earphones' sound quality is suffering — if the last time you cleaned them was never. To remove loose dirt and other icky gunk, gently go over the buds with a small brush. If the covers or caps are removable, unscrew them or pop them off and soak them for about 30 minutes in a bowl of hot water with a drop or two of dishwashing liquid added. Rinse and dry them with a soft cloth, then put back in place. For one-piece earphones, dip the tip of a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol, squeeze out excess, and go over all sides. Use the swab's other end to wipe and dry. Make it easier next time. Consider a screen protector. Widely available online and in stores, these thin adhesive sheets protect the surface from scratches and dirt. Raid your first aid kit for individually wrapped alcohol wipes and stash some in your purse, tote, or car for on-the-go keypad (but not screen) cleaning. Store personal electronics in their own cases, or use the special pockets in your purse, to keep them cleaner longer. A small drawstring jewelry pouch is great for stashing earbuds.BrightLists10 habits of remarkably charismatic people03 September 2012
Charisma isn't something you have. It's something you earn. Here's how. By Jeff Haden, Inc. Some people instantly make us feel important. Some people instantly make us feel special. Some people light up a room just by walking in. We can't always define it, but some people have it: They're naturally charismatic. But being remarkably charismatic isn't about our level of success or our presentation skills or how we dress or the image we project - it's about what we do. Here are the 10 habits of remarkably charismatic people: 1. They listen way more than they talk. Ask questions. Maintain eye contact. Smile. Frown. Nod. Respond - not so much verbally, but nonverbally. That's all it takes to show the other person they're important. Then when you do speak, don't offer advice unless you're asked. Listening shows you care a lot more than offering advice, because when you offer advice in most cases you make the conversation about you, not them. Don't believe me? Who is "Here's what I would do..." about: you or the other person? Only speak when you have something important to say - and always define important as what matters to the other person, not to you. 2. They don't practice selective hearing. Some people - I guarantee you know people like this - are incapable of hearing anything said by the people they feel are somehow beneath them. Sure, you speak to them, but that particular falling tree doesn't make a sound in the forest, because there's no one actually listening. Remarkably charismatic people listen closely to everyone, and they make all of us, regardless of our position or social status or "level," feel like we have something in common with them. Because we do: We're all people. 3. They put their stuff away. Don't check your phone. Don't glance at your monitor. Don't focus on anything else, even for a moment. You can never connect with others if you're busy connecting with your stuff, too. Give the gift of your full attention. That's a gift few people give. That gift alone will make others want to be around you and remember you. 4. They give before they receive - and often they never receive. Never think about what you can get. Focus on what you can provide. Giving is the only way to establish a real connection and relationship. Focus, even in part and even for a moment, on what you can get out of the other person, and you show that the only person who really matters is you. 5. They don't act self-important… The only people who are impressed by people who are stuffy, pretentious, self-important self are other stuffy, pretentious, self-important people. The rest of us aren't impressed. We're irritated, put off, and uncomfortable. 6. …Because they realise other people are more important. You already know what you know. You know your opinions. You know your perspectives and points of view. That stuff isn't important, because it's already yours. You can't learn anything from yourself. But you don't know what other people know, and everyone, no matter who they are, knows things you don't know. That makes them a lot more important than you--because they're people you can learn from. 7. They shine the spotlight on others. No one receives enough praise. No one. Tell people what they did well. Wait, you say you don't know what they did well? Shame on you - it's your job to know. It's your job to find out ahead of time. Not only will people appreciate your praise, they'll appreciate the fact you care enough to pay attention to what they're doing. Then they'll feel a little more accomplished and a lot more important. 8. They choose their words. The words you use impact the attitude of others. For example, you don't have to go to a meeting; you get to go meet with other people. You don't have to create a presentation for a new client; you get to share cool stuff with other people. You don't have to go to the gym; you get to work out and improve your health and fitness. We all want to associate with happy, enthusiastic, fulfilled people. The words you choose can help other people feel better about themselves - and make you feel better about yourself, too. 9. They don't discuss the failings of others... Granted, we all like hearing a little gossip. We all like hearing a little dirt. The problem is, we don't necessarily like - and we definitely don't respect - the people who dish that dirt. Don't laugh at other people. When you do, the people around you wonder if you sometimes laugh at them. 10. ...But they readily admit their failings. Incredibly successful people are often assumed to have charisma simply because they're successful. Their success seems to create a halo effect, almost like a glow. You don't have to be incredibly successful to be remarkably charismatic. Scratch the shiny surface, and many successful people have all the charisma of a rock. But you do have to be incredibly genuine to be remarkably charismatic. Be humble. Admit your mistakes. Be the cautionary tale. And laugh at yourself!
BrightStuffHow learning to play music can benefit the brain27 August 2012
If music be brainfood, rock on! By Christie Wilcox, Scientific American Music has a remarkable ability to affect and manipulate how we feel. Simply listening to songs we like stimulates the brain’s reward system, creating feelings of pleasure and comfort. But music goes beyond our hearts to our minds, shaping how we think. Scientific evidence suggests that even a little music training when we’re young can shape how brains develop, improving the ability to differentiate sounds and speech. For example, researchers have found that musicians are better able to process foreign languages because of their ability to hear differences in pitch, and have incredible abilities to detect speech in noise. But what about the kids who only get sparse musical tutelage? Does picking up an instrument for a few years have any benefits? The answer from a study just published in the Journal of Neuroscience is a resounding yes. The team of researchers from Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory tested the responses of forty-five adults to different complex sounds ranging in pitch. The adults were grouped based on how much music training they had as children, either having no experience, one to five years of training, or six to eleven years of music instruction. Music training had a profound impact on the way the study subjects’ brains responded to sounds. The people who had studied music, even if only for a few years, had more robust neural processing of the different test sounds. Most importantly, though, the adults with music training were more effective at pulling out the fundamental frequency, or lowest frequency sound, of the test noises. “The way you hear sound today is dictated by the experiences with sound you’ve had up until today,” explained co-author and lab head Nina Kraus. As she and her colleague wrote in an article for Nature, akin to physical exercise and its impact on body fitness, music is a resource that tones the brain for auditory fitness. Thus childhood music instruction has strong linguistic benefits and improves performance on everyday listening tasks. Since we live in an inherently noisy world, the better we are at focusing on sound and perceiving different sounds, the better. This can be particularly important for children with learning disorders or those for whom English is a second language. There is a body of research that suggests music training not only improves hearing, it bolsters a suite of brain functions. Musically trained kids do better in school, with stronger reading skills, increased math abilities, and higher general intelligence scores. Music even seems to improve social development, as people believe music helps them be better team players and have higher self-esteem. Based on what we already know about the ways that music helps shape the brain, the study suggests that short-term music lessons may enhance lifelong listening and learning,” said Kraus. “Our research captures a much larger section of the population with implications for educational policy makers and the development of auditory training programs that can generate long-lasting positive outcomes.”BrightLivesThe wonderful world of South Africans and their bicycles27 August 2012
Two photographers set off on an eye-opening odyssey to tell the heartwarming stories of a nation on two wheels. Next to ambling, strolling, sprinting, sauntering, jogging, hiking, striding, strutting, or just plain perambulating about on your own two feet, there’s no finer way to get from point A to point B than on your own two wheels. A bicycle, whether a sleek Italian racing model with 21 gears, or a mud-splattered delivery vehicle with balloon tyres and a tring-a-ling bell, is a trusty form of transport as well as an easygoing companion to carry you on and off the trail. And once you learn to ride one, of course, you never forget. Most of us, cocooned in our cars, give bicycles little thought as we hog the better part of the road. But for more than two years, two South African photographers, Stan Engelbrecht and Nic Grobler, have thought of little else as they traversed the country – on their bicycles, naturally – in search of fellow cyclists with interesting-looking machines and interesting stories to tell. The result is a fascinating, heartwarming series of books called Bicycle Portraits, filled with striking photographs of more than 500 cyclists in a wide range of locations, from bushveld to urban jungle to beach promenade to mountain trail. What comes across strongest in the portraits, of cyclists young and old, across the spectrum of race and culture, is the sense of pride and the spirit of freedom that comes from having two wheels (and sometimes even a working set of brakes) at your command. Bicycles are perhaps the most democratic form of mass transport, and the photographers sought to focus not on “people who ride purely for exercise or recreation, but instead on those who use bicycles as an integral tool in their day-to-day existence”. With their ambitious project funded by pledges on the online social network, kickstarter, Stan and Nic embarked on their two-wheeler odyssey with a bigger purpose in mind. “Given all the benefits of cycling - independence, health, fitness, cost-effectiveness, environmental friendliness - we would love to encourage the use of bicycles in South Africa amongst all social classes,” they say. “We've noticed that as our major centers develop, there still seems to be a trend to make cities more friendly for cars, not people. The effect on individuals seems to be very dramatic in a country like South Africa, where there is a growing divide between those who can afford motorised transport and those who struggle to. Owning a bicycle in this social climate can be very empowering, if the correct infrastructure exists.” There are three books in the planned series of Bicycle Portraits, each featuring 55 stories and essays by South African and international bicycling enthusiasts, including the novelist JM Coetzee. The books are beautifully designed by Gabrielle Guy, with artist Gabrielle Raaff adding individual hand-painted watercolor maps, based on Google Maps, to indicate the location of each of the portraits. If you own or have ever owned a bicycle, these portraits and stories will touch a chord and make you feel part of the journey. And if you haven’t, they’ll make you want to get out and start riding your own way, on your own two wheels. *For more information on Bicycle Portraits, visit www.bicycleportraits.co.za.BrightLists9 brilliant inventions made by mistake27 August 2012
From penicillin to Post-It Notes, from the Slinky to the Pacemaker, these tales proves that sometimes, serendipity is the mother of invention. By Tim Donnelly, Inc. Think necessity is the mother of invention? Not always. There is a very thin line between brilliant innovation and absolute failure, as some of these inventors famously found out. Some of the most popular products we use today were accidents stumbled on by clumsy scientists, chefs who spilled things, and misguided inventors who - in the case of the glue used on Post-it Notes - were trying to create the opposite of what they ended up with. But we can all take comfort in knowing even some huge mistakes can come with silver linings, sometimes big enough to change entire industries. And sometimes, even forgetting to wash your hands has its advantages. 1. Penicillin If Alexander Fleming's mother were around, we all might be a lot sicker. Like anyone eager to go on vacation, Alexander Fleming left a pile of dirty petri dishes stacked up at his workstation before he left town. When he returned from holiday on September 3, 1928, he began sorting through them to see if any could be salvaged, discovering most had been contaminated - as you might expect would happen in a bacteria lab in a hospital. Fleming dumped most of the dishes in a vat of Lysol, but when he got to a dish containing staphylococcus, something odd caught his eye. The dish was covered in colonies of bacteria, except in one area where a blob of mold was growing. Around the mold was an area free of bacteria, as if the mold had blocked the bacteria from spreading. He realized it could be used to kill a wide range of bacteria - and penicillin was identified. From that minor act of scientific sloppiness, we got one of the most widely used antibiotics today. 2. The Slinky Somehow if the song had gone: "A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing! Everyone knows it's Industrial Equipment Stabilizers," it wouldn't have been quite as catchy. Yet that was the intended use of the springs naval engineer Richard James was developing in 1943. The sensitive springs were meant to keep fragile equipment steady on ships. Then James knocked one of his new springs from a shelf and, like a kid on Christmas morning, watched it do that famous Slinky walk down instead of just hitting the ground. He took the creation home to show his wife, Betty, who saw the potential for a new toy. After consulting the dictionary, a name sprung (sorry) to mind: Slinky, a Swedish term meaning "sleek and sinuous." By the time the toy was demonstrated in front of Gimbels Department Store in Philadelphia, during the 1945 Christmas season, it was clear it would be the Tickle Me Elmo of its time. The industrial machine James had could coil 80 feet of wire into two inches, and hundreds of Slinkys were already being sold. That's not all, either: The Slinky has found other uses, including as an antenna by soldiers in Vietnam and as a therapy tool. Whatever the use, everyone knows it's a Slinky. 3. Wheaties Mmmm, delicious bran gruel…the breakfast of champions? The legend behind this famous cereal's creation did actually begin with bran gruel, which was what a clumsy dietician at the Washburn Crosby Company was preparing in 1922 when he spilled some on a hot stove top. The gruel drops sizzled and crackled into flakes. Once he gave a flake a taste, the cook realized his accident had created something that tasted way better than that old gruel. He got the head honchos at Washburn on board, and they tried 36 different varieties of the creation before developing the perfect flake that wouldn't crumble in the box. Even the name could have gone another way. The cereal was released as Washburn's Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes; soon after, an employee contest resulted in the name being changed to Wheaties, allegedly beating out Nukeys and Gold Medal Wheat Flakes, though who would have known 90 years ago that so many gold-medal winners would eventually don the box of that glorified gruel? 4. Post-it Notes You know how when you're done with a Post-it note, you throw it in the wastebasket? That was pretty much what Spencer Silver almost did when he was trying to develop a super strong adhesive for 3M laboratories in 1968 and came up way short. Instead, he had invented the opposite: an adhesive that stuck to objects but could be easily lifted off. Silver proselytized the potential uses of his new, sort-of-weak glue around 3M for years, all to deaf ears. Finally, a colleague named Art Fry attended one of Silver's seminars in 1974 (3M has long been known for encouraging employees to step outside of their own departments to see what people in other areas of the company are doing). Fry saw a use where no one else did: holding his page in his hymnbook, which his bookmarks kept falling out of. And when you added Silver's mild adhesive to paper bookmarks, a rudimentary Post-it Note was born. 3M finally agreed to distribute the Post-it Notes nationwide in 1980, a decade after Silver had first stumbled upon the formula. Thirty years later, they'd be as iconic to the office as the stapler and the fax machine, with the added bonus of being great for dorm-room pranks and stop-motion animation viral videos. 5. The Colour Mauve In 1856, 18-year-old chemist William Perkin turned out to be quite the young prodigy, inventing synthetic dye and going on to help fight cancer. Only, dye was nowhere close to what he intended on making. Perkin was working on a creating an artificial version of the malaria drug quinine. Instead, his experiments produced a dark oily sludge. Not only did the sludge turn silk a striking shade of light purple, it didn't wash out and was more vibrant and brighter than the existing dyes on the market. Up to that point, dyes were made mostly of insects, mollusks, or plant material. Perkin's invention of mauve colouring became the hit of the Paris and London fashion scenes; Queen Victoria even wore it to her daughter's wedding in 1858. Perkin's work with dyes inspired German bacteriologist Paul Ehrlich, who used the inventions to pioneer immunology and the first chemotherapy, eventually winning a Nobel Prize. 6. Plastics Can you imagine carrying water bottles made of clay or using disposable utensils made of eggs and animal blood? The legend of the discovery of plastic says that were it not for two accidents, those might be the materials we'd be stuck with today. The first tale starts in the lab of Charles Goodyear (yes, that Goodyear), who combined rubber and sulfur and accidentally put it on the stove for a period of time. When he came back, he found a tough and durable material--created through a process eventually called vulcanization. The second was a spill in John Wesley Hyatt's shop. Inspired by a $10,000 contest to find a replacement for elephant ivory in billiard balls, Hyatt accidentally spilled a bottle of collodion, only to discover that when it dried it formed a flexible-yet-strong material. He didn't win the contest (nor did anyone, for that matter), but by 1872 his brother Isaiah coined the term celluloid to describe what was becoming the first commercially successful plastic - even used in the first motion-picture film used by George Eastman. 7. Saccharine The familiar sweetener in the pink packet was discovered because chemist Constantin Fahlberg failed to do what even a high school chemistry student knows: Always wash your hands. Prepare to be grossed out. Here's the scene: It's 1879, and Fahlberg was sitting in his lab, toying around with new uses for coal tar, to no great success. The work interested him so much he forgot about his supper until late, then rushed off for a meal with his hands all still covered in laboratory goo. He broke a piece of bread, put it to his lips, and noticed it tasted unusually sweet. He rinsed his mouth, wiped his mustache with a napkin, and found the napkin tasted sweeter, too. Even the water in his cup tasted syrupy. Then he did what would surely gross out any scientist passerby: He stuck his thumb in his mouth, then went back to his laboratory and tasted every beaker and dish in the lab until he found the one that contained saccharin. 8. Corn Flakes Dr. John Kellogg and his brother Keith would have fit right into today's world of new agey health fads. In 1894, however, they were probably laughed at as weirdo health freaks who put visitors at their hospital and health spa in Battle Creek, Michigan, through strange health regimens. One part of that was eliminating caffeine by using a coffee substitute made of a type of granola. After cooking some wheat, the men were called away, as happens when you're running a busy sanatorium. When they came back, the wheat had become stale, but they decided to force it through the rollers anyway. Instead of coming out in long sheets of dough, each wheat berry flattened and came out as a thin flake. The brothers baked the flakes, and, boom, a new breakfast cereal fad was born. That wasn't the only cereal trend that was born at the Battle Creek sanatorium: Charles William Post, who later founded Postum Cereal Company (aka Post Cereals), was a student of Kellogg's. He developed his own line of products based on the cereal he ate at the clinic. The Post Cereal Company went on to make Honeycomb, Fruity Pebbles, Waffle Crisp, and lots of other sugary cereals the health-conscious Kellogg probably would have shaken his head at. 9. Pacemaker Wilson Greatbatch made a classic dumb move: pulling the wrong part out of a box of equipment. It was a major act of numskullery that became a major part of saving millions of lives. In 1956, Greatbatch was working on building a heart rhythm recording device at the University of Buffalo. He reached into a box and pulled out a resistor of the wrong size and plugged it into the circuit. When he installed it, he recognized the rhythmic lub-dub sound of the human heart. The beat reminded him of chats he had had with other scientists about whether an electrical stimulation could make up for a breakdown in the heart's natural beats. Before then, pacemakers were hulking machines the size of TVs. Greatbatch's implantable device of just 2 cubic inches forever changed life expectancy in the world. Now, more than half a million of the devices are implanted every year. Not bad for a numskull.
BrightLivesGoogle goes wild for Joburg teen’s game-spotting website13 August 2012
How a schoolboy with a love for the Kruger is helping wildlife-watchers find and share their best sightings online. “Look! Over there! A cheetah!” Oh, wait. It’s actually just the breeze wafting through some tufts of grass. “And over there? Isn’t that a silver-backed jackal?” Sorry. It’s just the sunlight glinting on a fallen branch. For the amateur game-spotters among us, scanning the bush can be an exercise in frustration and optical illusion. All the more so in the vast, shifting landscapes of the Kruger National Park, where the teeming reserves of game can outwit the most dedicated binocular-wielder. But happily, help is in sight, thanks to the expert eye of a 16-year-old Johannesburg schoolboy, Nadav Ossendryver. The teenager, a regular visitor to the Kruger, runs the Kruger Sightings website, at www.latestsightings.com. Here, successful spotters post their prize sightings, updated in real-time on a map, making it easier for other visitors to head where the wildlife are hanging out. “2:15 pm, 70 Elephants drinking and bathing in river, visible from Biyamiti”, reads a typical update, posted by cellphone using the GPRS signal that covers most camps in the Kruger. It’s a high-tech version of the traditional methods of sharing a sighting. It's a lot like sticking a colour-coded pin into a map back at camp, or simply pulling up alongside a fellow motorist and pointing excitedly into the bush. That’s how it all started for Nadav, who remembers nagging his parents to stop and ask where the good sightings were. Now his website draws visitors from around the world. It is earning him an appointment as “virtual honourary ranger” from the Kruger National Park, and attracting the interest of Google, who believe the site has strong commercial possibilities.BrightStuffFour lessons in creativity from John Cleese13 August 2012
The legendary comic, now in South Africa to shoot the sequel to Spud, talks about the art and science of thinking your way to creative enlightenment. By Rae Ann Fera, Fast Company. There’s a certain generation, or two, that owes its twisted, awkward, scorchingly black sense of humour to John Cleese. Famous for his work with the Monty Python films and television series, the BBC comedy Fawlty Towers, as well as feature films like A Fish Called Wanda, the writer, actor, comedian and film producer knows funny. But he also knows a thing or two about wrestling the creative beast. Cleese brings a storytelling flair to the topic of the creative process, something he’s been discussing for decades through his educational video company Video Arts, sharing tales of writing mishaps and lessons learned from leading creative and scientific minds. Here are those stories, from a recent talk. Let your unconscious do the hard work for you Cleese begins his talk by recounting one of his epic writing sessions with longtime writing partner Graham Chapman. While the two wrote arguably some of the most seminal comedic sketches of their generation, the partnership was not without its glitches. Like the time Cleese wrote and then lost a piece of work - and how that turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. “I was embarrassed that I lost our work, so I rewrote it from memory, straight off in a hurry. Then I discovered the original and the one I’d done very quickly was better than the original. I didn’t spend any time thinking about it, so how could it be better than the original? “The only thing I could think was that my unconscious had been working on the sketch and improving it ever since I wrote it. I began to see a lot of my best work seemed to come as a result of my unconscious working on things when I wasn’t really attending to them." “I’m not talking about the Freudian unconscious but the intelligent unconscious. We can’t control our unconscious but we can look to how we can create the circumstance in which it becomes easier for us to work with our unconscious.” Learn how to play and defer As well as identifying that ideas and breakthroughs percolate in the deep recesses of our brain, Cleese talks about some of the key, practical traits of truly creative people. He tells a story of Brian Bates, a psychology professor at Sussex University. Intrigued by how the creative mind works, Bates chose to study the work practices of architects, because the profession required the combination of two brains in the creation of beautifully groundbreaking yet structurally sound buildings. He did a very simple test. He asked various architects to name who, in their opinion, were the most creative architects in the field. He then asked those creative architects to tell him what they do from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed. He then went to the uncreative architects - without perhaps explaining that’s why he was talking to them - and asked them the same thing. Then he compared the two. He discovered two differences, and neither was to do with intelligence. The first thing he discovered is that the creative architects knew how to play. They could get immersed in a problem. It was almost childlike, like when a child gets utterly absorbed in a problem. The second thing was that they deferred making decisions as long as they could. “If you have a decision to make, what is the single most important question to ask yourself? I believe it’s ‘when does this decision have to be made’?,” says Cleese. “When most of us have a problem that’s a little bit unresolved, we’re a little bit uncomfortable. We want to resolve it. The creative architects had this tolerance for this discomfort we all feel when we leave things unresolved." Why would those two things be of importance? The playfulness is because in that moment of childlike play, you’re much more in touch with your unconscious. The second is that when you defer decisions as long as possible, it’s giving your unconscious the maximum amount of time to come up with something. You don’t have to be “creative” to be creative As is the trend with talks about creative thinking, Cleese makes a point of illustrating that creativity is not the domain of the “creative class." He tells the story of how Einstein and other lauded scientists and Nobel laureates describe their breakthroughs as visions. Consider this passage from Einstein: “The words of the language as they are originally spoken don’t seem to play any role at all in my mechanism of thought. The elements of my thought are certain signs, or more or less clear images, which in my case are of a visual and sometimes of a muscular type. When Einstein was thinking he could not describe to anyone in words what’s going on in his mind. And if you press too hard, nothing comes of it. Guy Claxton, the author of Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind, says there are two kinds of thinking: one dependent on reason and logic, and one that’s less purposeful, it’s more playful, leisurely, and dreamy. In this mode, we are mulling things over, almost meditative, pondering a problem versus earnestly trying to solve it. He says allowing the mind time to meander is not a luxury. You need the tortoise mind, such as Einstein described, as much as you need the hare brain. The hare brain loves clarity; it wants everything to be expressed in a very simple, straightforward clear way. Tortoise mind doesn’t expect clarity; it doesn’t know where the illumination is going to come from. The language of the unconscious is images. That also means a lot of times when you’re being very creative you can feel very confused. You don’t know where you are or where you’re going. And you can tolerate that and continue to defer the decision. Because you’re taking your time in tortoise mind, if you have a question, you’re much more likely to get interested in the question. One other important distinction between the two is that hare brain always treats perception as not being important, when in fact how you perceive things is enormously dependent on your emotional state. And when you’re more relaxed and focused, you’re much more likely to be more aware. The lesson of the Chinese ideograms The tension between impulsive action and contemplative thinking is a very real one. But, says Cleese, don’t let that get in the way of giving yourself time for deeper, unconscious thought. This is how extraordinary the unconscious is. A researcher once got a bunch of people together and showed them a bunch of Chinese ideograms. He asked them back a week later and said he was going to show them some they saw the week before and some they didn’t see. They were hopeless at identifying the ones from the week before. He tried it again but this time asked them to tell him the ones they liked best. When they picked the ones they liked, they were the ones they’d seen the week before. So the unconscious has this extraordinary knowledge; the trouble is it doesn’t come up very clearly. That’s why you have to give it time. That’s why when you start on something that’s fundamentally creative, don’t bring the old critical mind in too quickly. Let the thing fall, find out when it is. And then, by all means, bring your hare brain in to evaluate them, because you’ll get ideas, but not all of them will be good.BrightSpotsFour ways to feel the township vibe16 July 2012
Tours of South African townships are adding new heart and soul to the usual tourist itinerary, and are helping to uplift communities into the bargain, reports South African Tourism Cycle through Soweto Soweto, the famous South African township, feels like a universe unto itself. It is a place best experienced on the ground, rather than cruising through it in an air-conditioned bus with sealed windows. It’s much better to hear kwaito music and people shouting greetings; to see children running alongside; to smell the corn cobs over the fire and the strange things sold at herbalist shops; and to laugh at the good-natured comments from vendors selling everything from sunglasses to snuff. Soweto Bicycle Tours offers a way to experience this excitement on two wheels, and makes for an unusual and memorable township tour. You can opt for two-hour, four-hour or full-day guided bicycle tours. There is also a three-hour tour of Kliptown, a section of Soweto where the Freedom Charter, a historic document outlining South Africa after apartheid, was signed in 1955. That document became the foundation of South Africa’s Constitution, one of the most progressive in the world. If you’re not into bikes at all but still want a ground-level experience of Soweto, why not try a tuk-tuk tour? Depending on which tour you choose, you will see an old apartheid workers' hostel (now transformed), the place where the 1976 Soweto student uprisings started, the Hector Pieterson Memorial, Nelson Mandela’s Soweto home, and a shebeen, among many other attractions. Soweto Backpackers Tel: 011 936 3444 Cell: 084 851 8681 Email: email@example.com Feel the vibe in PE A morning spent in the Port Elizabeth townships and settlements of Zwide, KwaZakhele and Ramaphosa puts you in the midst of a bustling street market where sidewalk barbers, wire artists and hooting taxis hold sway. And rest assured – your touring company is an expert crew with a social conscience. On a midweek Port Elizabeth township tour you'll find places like Zwide, KwaZakhele and Korsten humming with activity. A troop of streetwise goats look left and right before crossing. A few mothers stand gossiping at a tap collecting water while their children play. Further along on your township tour, you'll find a market. On sale, everything from fruit and clothes to beaded cell phone holders and doilies. Under an awning, a hairdresser shaves all the hair off his customer's head - they call it the chiskop look. Then you'll come to the Ramaphosa informal settlement, a maze of close-set shanty houses. The poverty is unavoidable. But in the very centre is a joyous pre-school and nutrition scheme, funded by a trust set up by the tour company that is hosting you. Here volunteers chat while they cut up vegetables and prepare nutritious porridge for hungry youngsters. Last stop is a primary school. The children, all shiny-faced, array themselves in a group and sing the most delightful hymns. You cannot help notice that there are no bookshelves, no posters and no reference books. Maybe this is something you'd like to help them with. Whether you do or not, you know that your mere presence here today on this township tour in the Eastern Cape has helped uplift a community with a fascinating history, and has immeasurably deepened your experience of South Africa. Contact Calabash Tours Tel: 041 585 6162 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Make friends in Masiphumelele Masiphumelele, a pint-sized township with fewer than 30 000 souls, is the perfect example of how travelers can help uplift a community. Visitors have helped provide housing, a clinic, a bicycle repair shop. As you walk through the streets, friendship is only a smile away. On the teeming streets of Masiphumelele township just over the hill from Simons Town, it's weekend, and braai time. The avenues are fogged with fragrant smoke as the aromas of beef steak and lamb chops in home-made marinades fill the air. Cheerful township women are roasting their mealie cobs and meat on makeshift sidewalk grillers while kwaito music blares out from the open windows of battered cars. Like a schooner in full sail through the cheerful South African township of Masiphumelele comes our escort, Charlotte Nomthunzie Swartbooi. Charlotte, one of the community leaders in this hardscrabble enclave of about 30 000 souls, has an open smiley face and a bright red turban on her head. ‘A lot of people – many of them foreigners – have donated what they can to Masiphumelele township,' she says as we stroll to the Bicycle Empowerment Network. ‘We get old and broken bicycles from England, Switzerland and Germany,' says Charlotte. ‘And they are fixed here and sold cheaply to the locals.' A bicycle tour of Masiphumele was recently accredited by Fair Trade in Tourism SA. There's something different about this Cape township, a tangible attitude of self-help and determination. It's an attitude that has attracted useful funding. There is a European-funded clinic, an orphanage for AIDS children, a vegetable garden project for the township women and a Habitat For Humanity home-building project, sponsored by an American couple who have visited Masiphumelele. This direct help has been a real boon to the community. Charlotte 'Nomthunzie' Swartbooi Nomthunzie Tours Tel: 083 982 5692 Email: email@example.com Get arty in the Eastern Cape From its humble beginnings in the village of Hamburg in the Eastern Cape, the Keiskamma Art Project has grown into five art studios specialising in beading, felt-making, embroideries, ceramics and printmaking. The project began in early 2000, when artist Carol Hofmeyr began teaching arts and crafts to a handful of local women. They used the plastic bags littering their village as material to crochet hats and bags. As their skills and confidence grew, so did their numbers. Today 130 artists, mainly women, work under the leadership of 12 local managers and group leaders. They produce arts and crafts that include cushion covers, wall-hangings, bed linen and bags that are all hand-embroidered with scenes depicting the culture and heritage of the region's Xhosa people. Over the years, this arts and crafts project has successfully completed a number of ambitious tapestries depicting scenes and themes from their daily lives. These have become highly collectable artworks, have been exhibited all over the world, and have won numerous local and international awards. Among the best known is the Keiskamma Altarpiece. It was inspired by the Issenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grunewald, which was designed to bring hope to people suffering from ergot poisoning in the 15th century. The women in Hamburg saw parallels between this and their friends and family members living with HIV and Aids. They infused their tapestry with details from their daily lives, telling a local story of suffering, compassion and hope that has touched people all over the world. Another well-known piece is the Keiskamma Tapestry, which depicts Xhosa history over the last 150 years. Inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, it makes use of beads, wire, thread, Nguni cowhide and even wood to create an extraordinary depiction of Eastern Cape culture and heritage. Contact the Keiskamma Trust Tel: 040 678 1177 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.keiskamma.org
BrightStuffThe happy science of smiling06 July 2012
Face it…putting on a smiley-face can make a really meaningful difference to your day. "Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." -- Thich Nhat Hanh "Smile - it's free therapy." -- Douglas Horton Maybe those sound like just sappy, supposedly inspirational quotes. They don't really mean anything. Right? Maybe ... maybe not. In psychology, there is a theory entitled the "facial feedback" hypothesis. This hypothesis states that "involuntary facial movements provide sufficient peripheral information to drive emotional experience." The authors of another study wrote that "feedback from facial expression affects emotional expression and behavior." In simple terms, you may actually be able to improve your mood by simply smiling! A number of research projects support this hypothesis. One study found that involuntary biological changes similar to those caused by emotions were experienced by participants who were instructed to make certain faces. A person told to make an angry face experienced increased blood flow to the hands and feet, which is also seen in those who are experiencing anger. Participants from another study involving posed faces reported more favorable impressions of other people when they were asked to smile. Research has also found that when you mimic the face of someone else, it may cause you to feel empathy for the other person. In another research setting, participants were either prevented or encouraged to smile by being instructed how to hold a pencil in their mouths. Those who held a pencil in their teeth and thus were able to smile rated cartoons as funnier than did those who held the pencil in their lips and thus could not smile. So what does all of this mean? The next time you are down - the next time you are feeling blue or just plain old blah - SMILE. An action as simple as that just may improve your spirits. It is most certainly not a cure-all, but in the struggle with feeling gloomy, every thing that helps in even a small measure is worth a try. Dame Sybil Hathaway summmed it up best when she said, "Smile, damn it! Smile!" Having trouble forcing a smile? Here are a few suggestions that may help bring one on. Jump on the bed Make faces at yourself in the mirror Bake cookies Dance Find a playground and swing on the swingset Look at your baby pictures Take a walk in the sun - or the rain Watch cartoons you loved as a kid Imitate a celebrity - with exaggeration Visit a pet store Blow bubbles and watch them Watch children playing and laughing Picture yourself smiling…and smile!BrightIdeasThat new-Apple smell06 July 2012
Introducing a brand new scent-sation…the heady perfume of a freshly-unboxed computer Some say there’s no sweeter smell on earth than the smell of freshly-cut grass. Others may argue that only the aroma of freshly-roasted Arabica beans can truly take your breath away. Then again, how about that famous New-Car Smell? If only you could bottle that and wear it to work. Well, forget about those olfactory wonder-workers. Because there’s a new sensation in the air. The scent of a freshly unboxed Apple. Not the tangy, fruity kind: the kind with the logo with a bite in it, and the little leaf jutting out at the top. If you’ve ever opened an Apple product – an iPad, an iMac, a MacBook – you’ll know that the un-packaging alone is a big part of the deal. And now a group of artists in Melbourne, Australia, has turned that experience into what sounds like the world’s most high-tech perfume. So what does it smell like? “It’s the smell of the plastic wrap covering the box, printed ink on the cardboard, the smell of paper and plastic components within the box and of course the aluminum laptop which has come straight from the factory,” enthuse artists Gavin Bell, Jarrah de Kuijer and Simon McGlinn, who commissioned the scent from a factory in France for their “Greatest Hits” project. Perfumiers at Air Aroma created the scent by mingling the essence of glue, plastic, and rubber with a hint of the intoxicating whiff of…technology? Metal? Money? Either way, if it ever goes into mass production, a spritz of Eau de Apple in the morning could be just what you need to get in the mood for work. That, and a cup of freshly-roasted Arabica.BrightLivesTeen’s brush with destiny takes her to the top of the world06 July 2012
How a KwaZulu-Natal teenager invented a device to clean the devices that keep our teeth clean. Archimedes was in the bath, mulling over the displacement of objects in bodies of water, when he had the Eureka moment that would change the course of scientific thinking. There must be something about bathrooms that encourages such epiphanies, because that’s where a KwaZulu-Natal Matric pupil named Chené Mostert found herself when she had her brush with destiny. Chené, 17, who attends Ladysmith High School, was brushing her teeth one night, when she begin thinking about bathrooms as ideal breeding places for bacteria. Surely, she reasoned, there must be a way to keep toothbrushes free of germs in these cold and wet environments? There was only one way to find out. Experiment. Chené collected 150 toothbrushes, and had them tested for bacteria. Her findings showed more than 100 different types of bacteria growing in the bristles. Then came her global prize-winning solution. "I realised there was nothing on the local market for cleaning toothbrushes,” she says, “so I designed a plastic box with a rotation system in which toothbrushes can be stored and cleaned." Her device consists of four plastic tubes which act as toothbrush-holders, and a handle that activates an internal scrubbing brush. The toothbrushes are then scrubbed clean with hydrogen peroxide. Now Chene’s device has won her the top prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh. She will return to the USA later this year to patent her invention, before enrolling in medical school to fulfill her dream of becoming a pediatrician.
BrightStuffHow I made the time to change my life02 July 2012
Time is the most precious commodity. Here’s how one man, Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits, manages to save time and enjoy the dividends…for life When I decided to change my life a little over five years ago, I had a very common problem: I didn’t have the time. I wanted to exercise, find time for my family, eat healthier (instead of the fast-food junk I’d been eating), read more, write, be more productive and increase my income. Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day, and we sleep for about eight of them. Subtract the hours we spend eating (3), showering and dressing and fixing up (1), cleaning and running errands (1), driving (2), working (8)… and you’re left with an hour or two at most. Often less. Eventually, I figured out how to do all the things I wanted to do. I’ve achieved all of that and more, and in fact I have more leisure time now than ever. But first, I had to figure out the fundamental problem: how could I find the time to change my life? THE FIRST STEP You must make a commitment. You have to decide that you really want to make a change, and that it’s more important than almost anything else. For me, only my family was more important—and in fact I was making these change for my family as well as for myself. So these changes I was making were really my top priority in life. It has to be that urgent for you. Think of this not as “improving your life” but saving it. The changes I made saved my life—I am so much healthier, my marriage is better, my relationships with my kids have improved, I am happier rather than depressed. If you don’t feel you’re saving your life then you won’t make the tough changes needed. NEXT STEPS Once I made the mental commitment, I took small steps to give myself a little wiggle room to breathe and move: Cut out TV. I watched less TV than ever before (eventually I watched none, though now I watch a few shows a week over the Internet). For many people this one change will free up a couple hours or more. Read less junk. I used to read a lot of things on the internet that were just entertainment. Same with magazines. I cut that stuff out early so I could focus on what was more important. Go out less. I used to go to a lot of movies and to dinner and drinking. I cut that out (mostly) for a while, to make time. Wake earlier. Not everyone is going to do this but it was a good step for me. I found that I had more time exercising and working in the morning before anyone woke up—the world was quiet and at peace and without interruptions. In general, find the things that eat up your time that are less important than the changes you want to make. That’s almost everything except the things you need to live—work and eating and stuff like that. Cut back on them where you can. SIMPLIFY COMMITMENTS I had a lot of commitments in my life—I coached soccer, was on the PTA board, served on a lot of committees at work, had social commitments as well, worked on a number of projects. Slowly, I cut them out. They seemed important but, in truth, none of them were as important as the life I wanted to create, the changes I wanted to make. Lots of things are important—but which are the absolute most important? Make a decision. If you are having trouble making a decision, try an experiment. Cut out a commitment just for a little while. See whether you suffer from cutting it out, or whether you like the extra time. If you’re worried about offending people, don’t. Send an email or make a phone call and explain that you’d love to keep doing the commitment but you just don’t have the time and don’t want to half-ass it. The person might try to talk you into staying but be firm—respect yourself and your time and the changes you’re trying to make. Here’s a secret: the people and organisations you’ve been helping or working with will live. They will go on doing what they were doing without you, and (omg!) they will survive without you. Your departure will not cause the world to collapse. Let go of the guilt. STREAMLINE YOUR LIFE Eventually, I made many other changes, including: Making bills and savings and debt payments automatic. I set everything up online so that I wouldn’t have to run errands or spend time making payments. This put my debt reduction on automatic, and I got out of debt. Streamlining errands. I tried to cut as many errands out of my life as possible. Often that meant changing my life in some way but I adjusted and things became simpler. I cleaned as I went so I didn’t have a lot of cleaning to do on weekends. I did the few errands I had all at once to save running around. Work less. I would set limits to how much I could work, forcing myself to pick the important tasks and to get those tasks done on time. I learned which tasks needed to be done and which could be dropped. I became much more effective and worked less. Say no. When people asked me to do stuff that was important to them but not to me, I learned to politely decline. Instead I focused on what was important to me. Slowly, I learned to simplify. I simplified my daily routines, my work, my social life, my possessions, my chores, my wardrobe. It took time but it has been more than worth the effort: life is so much better now that I’ve created the time to do what I want to do.BrightIdeasA smart search engine for the stuff in your home25 June 2012
If you misplace your cellphone, no problem: you just ring it to hunt it down. But what about your keys? Your wallet? Your sunglasses? Help may be at hand, reports the BBC, with a new system that keeps track of easily-losable household objects. Forgetful geeks need never lose keys, phones or even cutlery at home again. Two computer science researchers have developed a depth-camera based system that keeps track of household objects as they are moved around a building. The project - dubbed Kinsight - relies on several of Microsoft's Kinect sensors attached to a computer running the team's software. Although the project is still at an experimental stage, it has been shown to work in a "real-world scenario". Details of the system were recently outlined at a conference in China and were subsequently reported by New Scientist. "Imagine if we had a system that could keep account of all the objects that we interact with in our daily lives," the researchers said. "By keeping track of the locations of the objects, we could build a smart search engine for our home that could answer queries like - where are my eye glasses, or my TV-remote, or my wallet?" Although alternative solutions, such as the use of radio-frequency identification chips already exists, the men said their system was many times cheaper due to the high cost of RFID readers. The researchers noted that running a computer program that simultaneously tracked all the owner's objects in real-time would be too processor-intensive. So they based their design around the principle that objects only change locations when humans move them. As a result the system focuses on tracking human figures and then looking for objects that have changed position in their vicinity. Although the Kinect sensor's capabilities are limited - it only sees objects up to 11 feet (3.4m) away and only provides "skeleton data" at 15 frames/second - the Kinsight program has commonsense notions built into it to improve accuracy: so it knows that a coffee cup is most likely to be found at a study desk, or kitchen sink, but not inside a bath. "This means that, when in doubt, an object recognition algorithm can use this knowledge to identify an object by analysing the likelihood of it being at some location, or looking for the candidate objects in their other locations," the researchers said. Algorithms were also created to help the computer learn the appearance of objects and the context they were likely to be used in by analysing the data gathered. To prove the system worked the two scientists labelled 48 objects - including knives, forks, keys and a Rubik's cube - and identified 80 possible locations around a house. They then asked volunteers to move the items around according to randomly generated patterns. The results suggested room for improvement - errors were more likely if the objects were very small, far away, transparent or placed too closely together - but the team said these problems should be addressed by using more sensors per room and adopting more sensitive depth-cameras. In the meantime, they say that even when the program does lose track of possessions, it can still say were they were last seen which may still prove helpful.BrightLivesSA-born Elon Musk is America’s new rocket man11 June 2012
It’s been a long journey from Pretoria for the billionaire Internet entrepreneur whose bold new goal is to make a trek to the stars. Mark Shuttleworth may have been the first South African to travel beyond our Earthly bounds, and now a Pretoria-born man may be responsible for making space flights a commercial reality. Elon Musk, the billionaire businessman who left for the US after matriculating from Pretoria Boys High School, has launched his own spacecraft to deliver cargo to an international space station. Watching the rocket rise from the launch pad was an “extremely intense moment” for him. “Every bit of adrenalin in my body released at that point,” he told reporters after the flawless launch, which followed an attempt on Saturday that was scrapped at the last second when computers detected high pressure in the central engine of the Falcon 9. This marks the first time a privately funded and crafted space shuttle has been sent to the low- orbiting International Space Station (ISS) that is used as a staging base for future missions to the moon, Mars and beyond. Musk’s California-based conglomerate, SpaceX, is the first of several US companies trying to send its own spacecraft to the ISS. The reason for the new space race? To help restore the US’s access to space for human travellers by 2015. The first test flight of Musk’s Falcon 9 rocket was deemed a rousing success, and is expected to arrive at the station within days, delivering half a ton of provisions to the ISS’s crew. His 40 000 Twitter followers heard of the success: “Falcon flew perfectly!!” In an interview with author Michael Belfiore for his book Rocketeers, Musk spoke of why he left SA to pursue his dreams, saying he left his Pretoria home in 1988 in part because of the compulsory military service in SA at the time. “I don’t have an issue with serving in the military per se, but serving in the South African army suppressing black people just didn’t seem like a really good way to spend time.” He wanted to move to the US, “where great things are possible”. Musk spoke of three areas or “important problems that would most affect the future of humanity”, identifying them as: the internet, clean energy and space. The unmanned Falcon mission may lead to commercial spaceships carrying astronauts to and from other space stations in the next five years. And eventually, space tourism for those able to afford it. SpaceX successfully test launched the Falcon 9 two years ago, and made history when it became the first non-government based company to send a spacecraft into orbit and back. The capsule, which lies at the top of the Falcon rockets, known as the Dragon, was built to carry cargo and up to seven crew members on their journeys. Previously, only the space agencies of Russia, Japan and Europe were able to send ships to the ISS. SpaceX has said that its goal is to cut down the heft price Nasa pays Russia to send US astronauts into space – a whopping $63 million (R525m). Despite an initial failure to launch, the current success could mean a massive contract with the US government to become the official “space bus” for astronauts. As one of the CEOs of global e-commerce corporation PayPal, and the CEO of electric car company Tesla Motors, space seems to be Musk’s current focus. The billionaire in a recent interview declared that he would be responsible for putting the first man on Mars in the next decade. The 40-year-old’s corporate exploits have also caught Hollywood’s eye. In an article written for Time magazine, director Jon Favreau (director of Iron Man) praised Musk for his contributions to rocket science, and said he based his Iron Man character Tony Stark on the South African. Favreau described Musk as “a paragon of enthusiasm, good humour and curiosity – a Renaissance man in an era that needs him”. - The Star
BrightStuffSix ways to turn a bad day into a good day13 May 2013
Do you know how to make lemonade from lemons? Here are six powerful ways to turn your day around. By Kevin Daum, Inc 1. Curb your optimism Many people talk about optimism being the path to happiness. I couldn't disagree more. Obviously pessimism is not helpful in bad times, but there is another approach. When things are going poorly, it's pragmatism and not optimism that will get you through. In Good to Great, Jim Collins suggests: have "undying faith" that things will get better, yet "confront the brutal facts" that you may not have much control over how or when they'll improve. This way, additional problems won't feel like major setbacks and you'll be able to manage your impatience and persevere through any hindrance on the way back to happiness. 2. Maintain disciplined structure Anyone who is religious is familiar with strict ritual in the face of emotional circumstances. In my dark times I created and adhered to a rigid schedule of productive activity like networking, writing, and physical activity. The networking forced me to engage with people so I wouldn't feel alone. The writing allowed for creative activity and much needed emotional release. And the exercise released endorphins and allowed me to manage the one thing I solely controlled - my body. 3. Lean on those around you When times are tough, many hold it in. You don't want to seem like a complainer and there may be a degree of embarrassment in the bad circumstances. Find people close to you who will let you verbalise your issues. My friends were my strength when things got bad. Mostly they listened but often kept me on track with brutal honesty. After a while I got so tired of hearing myself complain that I was motivated simply to have good news to share for their sake. Today I am the first to support friends on a bad day, if only to listen and share truthful observations. 4. Revel in the humour There is humour in everything, no matter how traumatic. Humour is the way we get in touch with our humanity and ridicule situations beyond our control. Given the choice of crying about a bad situation or finding the humorous side, I go for the laugh every time. Laughter breaks tension, releases powerful endorphins and allows for a much needed emotional release. 5. Celebrate victories (especially the small ones) No day is ever all bad. Ironically, some of my greatest triumphs and opportunities came on the heels of difficulty. Certainly the bad news at times felt like someone was swinging at my head with a baseball bat. But those were the days I would focus hardest on looking for some sign of forward progress. Any small win became a reason to pat myself on the back. Even though I often moved one step forward and two steps back, it was the smallest victory that would give me the confidence to slug it out and continue. Soon enough, that string of small victories leads to big ones if for no other reason than opportunity attracts people who win often. 6. Pay it forward No matter how bad things got, I always knew that my life was still far better than many others, particularly during the financial crisis. I did my best to find and help others who were struggling like me. Sometimes I had nothing to share but empathy and experience. But it helped build my confidence and disposition to support others in finding the path to recovery. Many of those people today are my most ardent supporters. And now our shared celebrations of success are that much more meaningful. http://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/turn-bad-days-into-good-ones-6-ways.html?nav=river