Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I've opened a hobby store to promote my art.
The price of bespoke, hand-made printing was putting some people off. You can still have the fancy printing but this is for the rest of us…Shop till you drop


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

How to raise your standard of living in New Zealand

The Big SleepOut 2015

Years ago I met a guy who was famous for organising very successful telethons.
He told me a story about his early days as a larrikin in the UK.
He would, he said, run tiny classified ads featuring the claim: "This is your last chance to send a pound". There was no further information other than a post box number.

My belated efforts to raise money for the LifeWise Trust to help those in real need find emergency shelter are coming to their conclusion. The BigSleepOut is tomorrow night - sleeping rough to raise awareness of this humanitarian crisis - right here on the streets in New Zealand.

I know it's easier to simply look the other way and feel helpless - but the truth is sharing even a small amount of cash with this organisation adds to a fund that really makes a substantial difference to the cause. We may not end the problem of homelessness altogether - but we can end homelessness for some - especially young people and families in desperate need. Everyone successfully helped into shelter helps raise the standard of every life in NZ.

This is your last chance to send $20. 
I hope you can.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Philanthropy and why you can't resist the urge to help.

"Margins increase the further down the torso you go." Scott Galloway
I remember watching a documentary on PBS, The Persuaders, about how marketers winkle their way into people's lives. One segment that stayed with me was about Clotaire Rapaille, a French psychologist who had advanced his career from working with autistic children in his home country to advising luxury brand marketers in the United States about how to, well, winkle their wares into people's lives. He is a fascinating character. He lived in a chateau in upstate New York. His client's would attend en masse to hear his liturgy about parting exclusive customers from their millions by deploying a theory about the human brain.

He described 'the lizard brain' - an ancient part of the human mind that behaves in an unprogrammed way - aside from consciousness or rational thought. The lizard brain is hard-wired to facilitate our base instincts for survival. For example you can rationalise your choice of mate for their refinement and taste but, whether you are male or female, rich or poor the unreasonable drive from your lizard brain is to breed with the partner that is most likely to help you pass your genetic code onto future generations. A mutual love of piƱa coladas and getting caught in the rain might sound like a marriage made in heaven, but, I'm sorry primal urges overcome the mild buzz of rum, coconut, pineapple juice and tropical weather conditions. To synthesise Rapaille, the display of luxury items is simply an indicator of one's capability to provide and protect the product of your union. That's why chinless wonders and old guys who strike it rich immediately buy Ferrari and Rolls Royce cars - to symbolise their supremacy in the breeding stakes. Kind of like bright feathers in the ornithological world or exaggerated size of proboscis in the mating rituals of elephant seals. Likewise all non-utility fashion is a sexual display - even if you rationalise it with a pronounced fetish for design.
It is via this circuit that we come to philanthropy. Why do we have an urge to give as well as to receive? My theory is that we are social creatures. As innate as our drive to have the most widely dispersed 'seed' is, there is the corresponding sense that we are part of the group or tribe we are related to - by paternity/maternity, marriage or species. Our DNA is bound with the group, interhelixed.

Even when we rationally 'know' that we are not related by blood to others in a wider contemporary culture… our lizard brains don't 'know' anything. Its function is simply automatic - there is little we can do about it. You can read Ayn Rand's ridiculous theories and novels and nod in undergraduate, pseudo-intellectual agreement that it is every wo/man for themselves but the lizard in you knows that hunting and living in groups is more successful and offers protection from the savagery of the wild. Which, of course, multiplies your chances of successfully passing your genes onto children and so on. There is nothing you can do about it. 

Faced with a surplus? Married with children already? Another Ferrari or Versace frock would simply be vulgar (and probably have your partner worried about the stability of and your commitment to your protective family unit). 

Your philanthropic urge - to support the society in which your children will prosper - is as innate as your drive for genetic immortality.

That is why I urge you to help me end homelessness for as many young people in need when I take part in The BigSleepout on 2 July.

It will help you sleep better at night.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

It could happen to you…

Click to enlarge

The bungalow in Point Chevalier was their pride and joy. Not fancy by comparison to some of the renovated state house being turned into mansions by their neighbours but simple, stylish and contemporary. “I’m hoping we can extend the kitchen and deck out the back at some point” Vanessa explains, offering me the last macaroon “…you take it, I don’t think I could fit another one in…but Rudy suggested we just wait a little longer. He’s big on delayed gratification. Just because it’s in the magazines and blogs doesn’t mean we have to follow, does it?”

What planet are you from? I thought to myself. “Improving the indoor outdoor flow would add a hundred grand to this place…” I wondered if Vanessa and Rudy might just be a little soft in the head? “My god, these macaroons are the bomb, can’t believe you made them yourself - you should start a site and create a brand…are you sure that’s the last one? You’re not holding out on me…?” A crumb fell on my Karen Walker top. “How do you feel about the issue of homelessness?” Van asked. I eyed the sideboard and wondered if it was genuine mid-century, genuine mid-century pieces are getting big prices. 
“Terri…I asked what you thought about the homeless issue…” “Look, Van, I’m not sure who you’ve been talking to but Famka and I are just taking a breather. And, if I can interest Simon in this story  I might have enough for the deposit on a studio flat - or at least get my car back from the tow-yard - but for now I’m staying with friends - I don’t call it couch surfing. Don’t judge me, ok!! . Shit, sorry Vanny, I’m just so strung out - I haven’t slept properly for over week. I’ve been offered a job as  dancer if I want it - my mum wouldn’t call it dancing - but if I keep the fact that I got laid off from the magazine from her …I couldn’t use your bathroom could I Van? I mean your bathroom - haven’t had a shower for a couple of days - had to let the gym membership go - so I’m a bit whiffy…hey who needs the gym when you don’t get to eat every day. You’re a great mate Vanessa, I just want to say that. You and Rudy and the kids…this isn’t forever you know. It’s just, right now. Because, right now I don’t know what to do.”

…I'm performing the BigSleepOut for the 6th season in just six days time.
If you would like to help me raise awareness and funds for the Lifewise Trust to help end homelessness -
you have two choices:


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Big SleepOut is just 7 days away. We need your help.

Every year I leave the relative luxury of home to sleep out in the cold to raise money and awareness of homelessness here in the most liveable city in the world.

I've been a little slow out of the blocks with my effort this year. I need your help.

My fundraising page is here. Every little bit helps, thanks. I really appreciate your support. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Action stations…End Homelessness…let's rock!

We all know that homelessness is a real problem. I'm pretty sure you would be willing to help make a difference if you could. So here's what you can do:

I am sleeping rough in 8 days time for the BigSleepOut event to raise awareness and funds to help Lifewise help people who are homeless.

So, …now you KNOW
I know you are WILLIING
Let's DO IT!

You can support Lifewise's efforts through my official fundraising page HERE.

This is my sixth year of being involved with the event; I have found that friends and colleagues are both generous and supportive - the money we've raised has made a difference - when I first got involved I thought we could eradicate the problem easily, sadly it perpetuates.  But it would be worse without your generous help.

Thank you. I'm grateful for your support - you make the difference.

(P.S. I've kicked off my campaign a little late this year…it's even more urgent - if you could share this post on Twitter and Facebook to spread the message with your connections that would make a huge difference too - use the buttons below or copy the link in the address bar).

David MacGregor

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Optimists' Flag

Having spent all that money to talk about the New Zealand flag on our behalf it would be rude not to engage.

Here's my thoughts for a flag. I've been worried that pictures of kiwis and ferns and drab red white and blues might win the day (not that flags are really important). I also worry that if a black flag squeaks through we will look like we are in perpetual mourning. The reason the US loves the stars and stripes is because it's cheerful when displayed en masse.


Here's my rationale:
This design refers to:
• A sense of place - islands, mountains, land, sea, space.
• The traditions of New Zealand/Aotearoa:
- Kowhaiwhai design
- European heraldry

The colours:
Blue ground  - sense of place, standing proudly and distinctively. Referring to our place in the Pacific ocean - and its meaning 'peaceful'. It transitions from night to day, yesterday to tomorrow.

Yellow - facing the right/east not only symbolising the geographic place - first to see the sun but also the optimism and youthfulness of our nation and its peoples. 

Black for the traditions and heritage - the mana of our achievements and courage in the face of challenges.

The red represents the heart our passion and compassion.
Green needs little explanation.

White - two main islands, snow capped peaks, long white clouds.

The design is contemporary and avoids parochial symbols that 'belong' to any particular faction.

The geometric shapes suggest growth and regeneration as well as permanence.

Its elements can be translated into other contexts to build the national brand identity.

While it refers to traditions it heralds an optimistic and plural future; where we are of the world but distinctively ourselves.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Let's reverse engineer engineering…

Michelle Dickinson is NanoGirl. She is a scientist and educator who has done wonders to promote an interest in the sciences in New Zealand and probably to a wider audience. She is young, attractive and more than willing to front for the cameras. She loves what she is doing and it shows. Recently she protested a New Zealand engineering firm's practice of objectifying women in their promotions in an irrelevant and sexist way. She was prompted to confront the issue by female students in her courses at the School of Engineering and is concerned that the imagery characterised an industry that discourages active participation by women in engineering.

As a result of Nanogirl's campaign it begs the question about engineering as a term and how its application alters the perceptions of both young women and men when considering it as an educational pathway.

I wonder if part of the issue isn't about framing - or reframing?
Regardless of whether we are talking about males or females the term 'engineering' as it is widely understood implies using some kind of force on an object to change its nature. (Which of course it is).

When I was in high school I took engineering as a subject. It was the '77-79. What we studied, or rather practiced, was how to use tools to make things. It suited me because I only had two interests in life at the time - mucking about with old British bikes and art (which involved a lot of drawings of old British bikes…and hot rods). That was engineering. Machines. When I left school I worked in a factory. Ultimately I was a die setter and studied for a NZCE (plastics). Still, engineering was about machining and making shit. Mostly it was dirty and noisy and sometimes dangerous. (In that era safety was a fingers-crossed matter - if you had some left).

Today my daughter takes 'tech' subjects - hard-tech/soft-tech (which I would have called home ec' back in the day). This is a good thing as it refers to the change in how things are made and understood. I don't think enough emphasis is placed on learning to code - or implement solutions to ideas/hypothesis - but that is another story for another time. The issue is that the blanket term 'tech' makes it all but meaningless - even if, like 'engineering', it is correct - as if it is a catch-all to mean not math, english etc.

I wonder if, to attract more people - and have an accurate representation of the population - to engineering there needs to be a movement to reverse-engineer the term. Take nanotech for example. Richard Feynman gave it a false start, implying it was a mind game for scientists, and it can be mind-boggling (just the other day I woke up in the night wondering if there is an 'up' or 'down' at an atomic level and if so how does gravity act on particles?…and what could that mean?).

What does engineering mean? It sounds like a platitude - is it about making the world better? (Not sure how mucking about with old bikes fits in there).

There are levels of engineering; from being the conceptualiser to being the riveter. The old world qualities of being able to manipulate 'heavy' things still rings out. Alongside Feynman I place Brunel 'up there' in the heroic process of bending nature to the human will.

The impression of what an engineer 'is' is rests substantially on Brunel as an archetype - he utterly changed how humans travel and trade. His innovations in ship building, port construction, railways and tunnelling made the world, for better or worse, what it is today. He was a colossus of innovation and the will to make things happen. He paved the way for modern capitalism (once again - for better or worse) with the systems that created the wealth that America tapped from vast, widely spread natural resources - without railroads there would have been no railroad barons. Western parts of the US would probably have been a different country, with different colonial rulers. Banking, arising from the trade would not have evolved as it has (once again, I'm conflicted). Intercontinental transport would have been slower - heck, New Zealand would be less significant than it already is if propellor driven ships that Brunel helped to perfect hadn't allowed refrigerated meat to be transported to Europe. Not everything Brunel proposed worked. He wanted to build a train-like system using a vacuum pipe to propel pods between cities - which sounds a lot like steampunk version Elon Musk's Hyperloop.

So in parallel with the great innovations of Brunel came the psychology of the man forcing his way into the future and blasting aside barriers - whether access to capital or the rocks in a mountainside to make way for a tunnel or bridge. It corresponded with ideas of rugged individualism (pathologically portrayed to the extreme by Ayn Rand in her bizarre philosophy set out in books like  The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged). It is a macho, confrontational vision of the future - fertilised in the soil of industrialism and colonialism.

These attitudes and impressions persist today - though the issues that engineering confronts seem characterised by repairing or mitigating the problems created by the thrusting macho world created by Brunel's Victorian ideals.

Engineers are challenged to do more with less - whether is developing stronger, lighter structural solutions to conserve materials and produce less waste or to explore solutions on a nano scale that delicately deliver a hammer blow to a problem. It's almost a remedial approach to development. We can't un-ring the bell of technology or un-see the demons set loose by opening Pandoras Box but we can refocus and reframe.

The qualities of an engineer might well be better described as 'feminine' - nurturing, preserving and growing - applied by men and women alike. We can't continue to batter our way into the future - because, as even I, with the most rudimentary understanding of Newtonian physics, know that every force has an equal and opposite. Harnessing yin and yang should be present in our thoughts as we engineer the future - and the practice of science, technology and engineering will benefit from the skilled, educated participation of both men and women - because it is so important we can't continue to eliminate half of our intellectual capacity as we have.


Richard Feynman's lecture on nanotech - where he mocks nanotech but which has been adopted - just as I am doing to promote the very thing. He's fantastic. This talk was delivered on my birthday before I was born - and you thought nanotech was mind-bending.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Elon Musk - The Sun King?

In my previous post I talked about Elon Musk as a visionary. If you had any doubts - watch this clip where he launches the Tesla battery pack for solar power.

Reducing carbon emissions is crucial to having a sustainable future. Continuing to rely on fossil fuels isn't just moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic - it is the iceberg.

Remember Steve Jobs' announcing the iPhone and it seemed like the second coming of Jeepers Cripes? You have to admire Musk's vaguely shambling, seemingly unrehearsed pitch. It's the content that wins the day.

And one other thing. The technology behind the Tesla system is open source. Think about that. He's not simply launching a slick new thing for movie stars and the 1% to feel good about reducing their carbon footprint. He's making it accessible to virtually everyone.


There's more info here (and an interesting discussion thread).

One point though - I wish he'd get a better tailor - the jacket didn't seem to fit so well.

Friday, May 01, 2015

What do you mean 'who is Elon Musk'?

Steve Jobs is dead. Bill Gates might as well be (he was always kind of boring) - in the realm of visionary world-leading people who is there to be inspired by?

How about Richard Branson? Not really. He's a publicity hound for sure and he parlayed his restlessness into starting and collecting businesses under the quirky Virgin brand. But he's never really disrupted an industry with anything unique.

There's people like Peter Thiel - one of the original investors in Paypal and Facebook - but, aside from being lucky and in the right place at the right time with some spare change he's hardly going to significantly change the world.

 You get my drift?  Who is there that not only has ideas that no one else has and has the completely insane focus to make them happen?

How about Elon Musk. No doubt you will have beard about him. He's often referred to as the prototype for Tony Stark (IronMan). He co-founded Paypal with Thiel, but unlike his Thiel he has gone on to innovate at a rate that can only be describes as (and I think this is the scientific term) …bonkers.

Musk created the Tesla car company. It makes viable electric cars - which is an astonishing accomplishment in itself but what is more remarkable is that his company is developing an entire infrastructure to make the vehicles practical - with not only a network of electric recharging stations but also making forays into generating the energy to pump into the vehicles (which is free for their owners). It makes sense that he has a significant interest in sustainable energy.

His company SolarCity is the second largest provider of solar systems in the US. (If I was you I'd look for some investments in solar power).

 He's developing plans to create transport system called HyperLoop that would allow you to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 35 minutes - a distance of 350 miles. It operates like a vacuum tube.

It seems as though Musk operates in a way that takes Niels Bohr's question very seriously indeed: "Your ideas are crazy - but are they crazy enough" Oh, and he's also got SpaceX a company that is reimagining space travel (making Virgin Galactic seem like a low altitude publicity stunt). It is world's largest private manufacturer of rockets and has a deal with NASA.

You get the picture - the man is a brainiac maniac.

Obviously he attracts a lot of interest and attention - to be expected when you have wealth and influence that wasn't inherited.

People want to know the magic trick - how can they replicate Elon Musk's magic?

His ex-wife has some insights for you, posted on a Quora thread in response to the question:

 “Will I become a billionaire if I am determined to be one and put in all the necessary work required?”

“No,” she says and goes on to say that is the wrong question.

“You’re determined. So what? You haven’t been racing naked through shark-infested waters yet. Will you be just as determined when you wash up on some deserted island, disoriented and bloody and ragged and beaten and staring into the horizon with no sign of rescue?”

 “Shift your focus away from what you want (a billion dollars) and get deeply, intensely curious about what the world wants and needs.

Ask yourself what you have the potential to offer that is so unique and compelling and helpful that no computer could replace you, no one could outsource you, no one could steal your product and make it better and then club you into oblivion (not literally).

Then develop that potential.

Choose one thing and become a master of it.

Choose a second thing and become a master of that.

When you become a master of two worlds (say, engineering and business), you can bring them together in a way that will :

a) introduce hot ideas to each other, so they can have idea sex and make idea babies that no one has seen before and

b) create a competitive advantage because you can move between worlds, speak both languages, connect the tribes, mash the elements to spark fresh creative insight until you wake up with the epiphany that changes your life.

 The world doesn’t throw a billion dollars at a person because the person wants it or works so hard they feel they deserve it. (The world does not care what you want or deserve.) The world gives you money in exchange for something it perceives to be of equal or greater value: something that transforms an aspect of the culture, reworks a familiar story or introduces a new one, alters the way people think about the category and make use of it in daily life.

There is no roadmap, no blueprint for this; a lot of people will give you a lot of advice, and most of it will be bad, and a lot of it will be good and sound but you’ll have to figure out how it doesn’t apply to you because you’re coming from an unexpected angle. And you’ll be doing it alone, until you develop the charisma and credibility to attract the talent you need to come with you.

 Have courage. (You will need it.)
And good luck. (You’ll need that too.)”

 And, of course, he wants to go to Mars. I expect we'll get a postcard sometime soon.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Headphones to create a new experience at concerts

A friend sent me a link to this clip by the jazz group Snarky Puppy. I don't know if you like jazz or not - for me it's ok in moderation. But the thing that intrigued me wasn't the music but how it was being enjoyed by the audience. They are wearing headphones. I did some quick research and found that this could be a trend. Audience members listen to the performance through headsets connected directly to the engineer's soundboard. That way they get to experience the live event with clean, clear sound - as the artists intended.

Just a day before I had lunch with a buddy and noticed he was having a little difficulty hearing what I said in the yum cha restaurant when he wasn't looking directly at me. Or he may have been ignoring my comment about The Eagles - which is also very likely, as a DJ he is picky in his tastes. I asked if he could hear ok. He told me he had some hearing loss and was using hearing aids - he showed me the delicately wired phones. I asked if it was the result of DJing. He replied that, more likely, it was the result of years of gym classes - with pounding, loud music.

Wearing 'cans' at a musical event would make sense. Aside from transmitting the sounds pitch perfect it would also mean that you could select the volume you prefer. Combined with a smart phone app maybe you could interconnect with with friends in the audience and enjoy a private conversation - or group chat mixed in the audio stream - selecting whether to allow the intrusion or not. Maybe you could include a voice to text option so that you can so 'This bit reminds me of our holiday in Venice' isn't mixed into the stream.

It might seem anathemic to concert purists for whom feeling the music in their chests amongst 10,000 other AC/DC fans is the point, rather than intimacy or sound quality. But most mid size events aren't like that. The experience of a gig could be augmented by using cans - much in the same way that 3D glasses change the way you enjoy a film.

With revenues from recordings falling (Spotify and other streaming services barely register on bands balance sheets) concerts are part of the experience economy that is growing.
What do you think. Would you entertain the idea?

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Art of the Poster - The Times of Patrick Tilly

Patrick Tilly was a prolific graphic designer and illustrator whose work featured prominently in advertising and publishing in the 1960s and 1970s. He switched disciplines to concentrate on writing scripts and science fiction novels, including The Amtrak Wars series.

I'm not much interested in science fiction. But I do like a good poster. I came across this series of posters for The Sunday Times when I researching cut-out art for a project. In the 80s the Sunday Times Magazine was something of an event each week when the latest copy would arrive in the creative department of whichever ad agency I happened to be slumming at at the time (allowing for the fact that it was the 1980s and 'snail mail' was the only economical way of receiving physical objects). Campaigns for cars, booze and cigarettes were big budget affairs in the magazine - double page spreads with the best concepts and photography. Brilliant copy writing from the likes of David Abbott for clients like Sainsbury's, Volvo and Chivas were as luscious as the layouts. It was an education. Even the cheap webfed press paper smelled as though it was filled with promise.

I like these posters for their spartan use of words, the playful connection between the text and the image that isn't necessarily literal (wit in design leaves something for the viewer to do and it becomes the more potent for the mental exercise) and, of course, the graphic technique.

Tilley was a member of a group called Artist Partners and on their blog I found this story about the posters and how BBDO, the ad agency who commissioned them nearly-but-not-quite had an idea, but it was Tilley who solved the problem:

“The back story to the Sunday Times posters is quite short.I was called into BBDO by the art director (name forgotten) and was asked to produce a poster for the Sunday Times using the words “You are more interesting to know when you read the Sunday Times”.

Mulling this over when I got home I decided it was too much of a mouthful to put on a poster which by its very nature needs to be simple and punchy. Anyway, it occurred to me that I could fulfil the brief in a different way by selecting positive/desirable qualities for a newspaper and a reader to possess. And since I had been doing fully rendered poster designs for the Times I chose to represent these qualities as simply as possible using cut-out coloured paper. I produced all six in one week and took them in - and hey presto - they bought the lot but removed my name from the margin."

If you ever make a poster and the image doesn't speak for itself - remember to take away every element that is superfluous - words, details, images…remember that people will remember one thing if you you are lucky or clever.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy

I can't think of a better name for a compilation album than Meaty, beaty, Big and Bouncy. Neither could Decca when they launched The Who's Greatest Hits in 1971. As far as compilations go it's hard to fault.

If you are wondering about the origin of the album title?: Roger Daltry was a fitness nut - Meaty; Keith Moon was the irrepressible force behind the drums Beaty; John Entwhistle was a man mountain - his nickname was Ox - Big; and Pete Townsend's habit of cavorting about the stage made him a sitter for the appellation Bouncy.

The name also suggests The Who's emergence as a force when advertising was also become a curiously powerful force in post-austerity, post-war Britain. Meaty, beaty, big and Bouncy sounds like a proto slogan for a readymade dinner or a pie. They also released an album that paid ironic homage to brands of the day - The Who Sell Out (1967) - ironic because The Who's music was featured in ads for brands including this jingle for Coca-Cola (which was features as a bonus track on the Sell Out album)

Advertising and pop culture have gone hand in glove since the 60's. The apparently anti establishment The Who obviously weren't averse to a little extra coin or more exposure to sell albums. Their management team of lambert and Stamp were as entrepreneurial as the Beatle's manager Brian Epstein or Led Zeppelin's Peter Grant, but aren't talked about much (documentary out soon).

To get a feeling for the times what could be better than a French documentary from the era? …

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Auction Site Experiment

I'm clearing out some surplus stuff (in honour of comedian George Carlin). We don't have the room in our apartment and most of it has been gathering dust offsite.

Listing on TradeMe, seeing if a little bit of presentation, writing and art direction will make a difference. Use the posts as social media content… my new hobby…

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Mick Jagger irons out a few wrinkles for Monty Python

To Infinity And Beyond - Overcoming the dark forces that hold ideas back

I saw the premier of ToyStory at a theatre in London's Leicester Square in the mid 90s. My girlfriend worked for Disney, so - as ever - I was the imposter, sitting a couple of rows away from Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman - I'm not sure what their connection with the film was.

I hadn't been primed about the film. I knew little about it and would have probably given it a miss. My days were filled with running around London completing freelance assignments I had stacked on top of one another - the English had a way of booking me for a week at time but I had a way of nailing the problem in the first couple of days. But a week booking was a week booking and the ad agencies who hired me never thought to reassign me to another task - it would never happen here. So I was tired and would have simply stayed at home - the up side was that I thought I could 'rest my eyes' in the darkness. It didn't happen. From the short before the film to when the lights came up I couldn't believe my eyes. It felt like being at the beginning of something - which, of course it was.

The Pixar story has been told and retold. I have art books like To Infinity and Beyond and The Art of the Incredibles and all the others…but this book has captured my imagination because it is about just that - capturing imagination within an organisation without killing its essence - like seeing Orca in pools and aquariums. Whether you are a manager in creative industry business or just want your business to unlock its potential - I recommend this book.

"The thesis of this book is that there are many blocks to creativity, but there are active steps we can take to protect the creative process.

In the coming pages, I will discuss many of the steps we follow at Pixar, but the most compelling mechanisms to me are those that deal with uncertainty, instability, lack of candor, and the things we cannot see.

I believe the best managers acknowledge and make room for what they do not know—not just because humility is a virtue but because until one adopts that mindset, the most striking breakthroughs cannot occur.

I believe that managers must loosen the controls, not tighten them. They must accept risk; they must trust the people they work with and strive to clear the path for them; and always, they must pay attention to and engage with anything that creates fear.

Moreover, successful leaders embrace the reality that their models may be wrong or incomplete. Only when we admit what we don’t know can we ever hope to learn it."

Monday, June 23, 2014

When good technology goes bad.

If there is one thing I hate it is intermittent faults.

Like when sometimes your car won't start and the rest of the time it starts and runs just fine.

When you take it to the mechanic there's no symptom - nothing to diagnose.
When my 10 ferry trip concession card passed through the red laser beam this morning the portable display unit read 9 trips remaining.

"9 left" reinforced the man attached to the portable scanner, beaming.

"Impossible I said - it should only have three trips left." I said.

"Consider it a bonus." He chimed, filled with the beneficence of those who favour others with other people's money.Clearly the matter was above his pay-grade and, in any case, it was the last run on the route for the morning and his mind was on a well earned cup of tea.

I'd like to report that I did indeed think of it as windfall but it just troubled me all day.

If the digital scanner could get it so wrong, even apparently in my favour, then it must also get it wrong at other times - in a less benign way.

How many times had my card been read incorrectly and I hadn't paid any notice.

Haw many times had other people been subject to the same casual assumption that the system works and, being an electronic device, beyond question?

What if I had one journey left but the computer said 'no'?

I'm pretty certain rules would have been rules and I would have had to cough up even as I spluttered my insistence that I was good for it - loaded even - if only with the single fare I needed to cross the channel.

This afternoon I made the return trip. Low and behold the reader read two remaining journeys we left on the card. That's a pretty wild variation as far as margins of error go. I mentioned it to the pursor - or whatever the description of a ticket guy is on the ferry to Stanley Bay.

"That's a Fuller's problem. You'll have to take it up with head office."

Resistance was futile.
But I will be checking the reader carefully in the future.

Maybe I will ask for the kind of ticket that has to be manually clicked?

Or maybe Fullers Ferries should get their equipment checked and audited. They might owe passengers some refunds or consolation.

I'd ring head office but last time I did to try to locate a lost iPhone I never got through - even after three attempts. Or maybe it was four?

Cutie and the Boxer - making a mark in the world.

Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko are both artists in New York. They love a bohemian life. Shinohara is well know for his work but is not commercially successful. He migrated to the US after finding fame in Japan for his riff on pop art.

Noriko arrives in the US, a young art student, meets Shinohara and falls for his manic charms. It's not long before he is sponging off her family allowance to pay rent.

Time passes. They marry and have a child. It seems Noriko is destined to become her husband's assistant - he is much older than she is, though neither are young anymore. She harbours her own dream of artistic recognition via her created persona of Cutie.

It is a meticulously shot piece, akin to the documentary classic Gray Gardens. Most of the observed narrative is in Japanese but it doesn't matter. We understand. When Noriko steps back from his work to see it in toto he seems to be looking back on his life as he utters 'crap' between words in his native tongue.

In a way the film is inconsequential like a pebble garden that is raked this way and that by the film maker but is never anything but a pebble garden. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The BigSleepOut can have dramatic effects.

I can't say that I like panhandling very much  - but here I go again. The charity fundraiser for Lifewise is fast approaching and my fundraising has been a little slow. That's not to say donations haven't been made - I have a network of generous friends and the ball is definitely rolling.

I've made this message to include stacks of cash - because that dilates the pupils of 36.5% of Aucklanders and places them into a more receptive state. Add in a picture of a member of the royal family and if you find yourself on the brink of St Vitus dance and begin to ululate, you'll know why. You are powerless to resist.

So, while I have you in this compliant state - follow this link - make a donation to help end homelessness and I promise the next flat white is on me.