A few sobering facts

Here’s a few sobering facts to think about when you wonder about the future.

Population :
When I was born there were 3.1 billion people on the planet. As I write this there are now nearly 7.3 billion and that number is accelerating. At what point do we start to run out of resources like food, water, fuel?

Money :
A million dollars: $1,000,000
A billion dollars: $1,000,000,000
A trillion dollars $1,000,000,000,000

According to wikipedia, the Forbes rich list (2014) numbers 1645 billionaires :
Their total worth $6,400,000,000,000
Their average worth $3,890,577,508

Put into perspective:
The total world GDP is $75,000,000,000,000

These few wealthy individuals are worth nearly 10% of the planet.

Current world population 7,300,000,000
Their worth/population $876.71

To get your head round this, the few (legitimate) billionares on the Forbes list
can give every person on the planet nearly $1,000 each – and not miss it.

A trillion dollars spread out

(Image source : Bigfunzone

What Literary Character Is Your Mental Twin?

Hermione Granger for me :

Nurturing and endlessly thirsty for knowledge, your mental twin is the one and only Hermione Granger. Incredibly booksmart, your innate ability to absorb conceptual information is only matched by your deep compassion for others. Much of your life is governed by a finely tuned moral compass, one that not only you but many loved ones rely on as well. Above all else, you are a tremendous friend – loyal, heroic, responsible, and infallibly dependable. You may or may not consider books as friends as well, but don’t worry – your secret’s safe with us!

Black Friday and marketing conformity

Black Friday descends once more on the UK and the world. Frenzied crowds pushing and shoving, fights in the ailses as literally millions of people pile into Asda, Tesco and other stores promising slashed price bargains for the first few through the door.

Riots ensue, store are closed within minutes, police called out, ambulances called out.

I like a bargain as much as the next person but this mindless crowd mentality baffles me, it’s not logical.

I am brought to mind of a figure entitled Doing what is expected: the power of the situation (from Investigating Psychology by Brace and Byford). The images shows three pictures, one of a WWI trench charge (ordered into a hail of bullets), a football crowd (following the referee) and a crowd by a zebra crossing (obeying a traffic officer). Seems to me the mayhem pictures in the news stories linked below would fit well in there.

But who is the authority figure here? Where is Milgram’s ‘experimenter’? He’s there, hiding in plain sight, innocuous, passive – insidious. He’s there when you turn on the TV in the corner and the bold adverts promise to make YOUR Christmas special with a 40″ screen slashed by 70% in price. He’s there when you open the paper and similar offers lure you. You turn on the computer and web pages bombard you from all sides of the screen. You think to escape to the pub or the park for walk and a friend or neighbour will ask if you too are going to Asda for the Black Friday bargains…

What makes a rational, normal person, fall for an advertising campaign like that – to the extend they will attack others (and be attacked in turn) to make sure THEY get the bargain. They MUST have that cheap LCD or ‘Frozen’ bedcover.

One has to wonder how many psychologists turn to the dark side and join Lord Vader, working away in the marketing departments for the multi-nationals.

Similarly for those feverishly watching bargains on-line, credit card at the ready, heart racing as the big clock times down the minutes and seconds.

… to buy old stock that the manufacturers and major stores have spun your way to clear stock for the new products to be released shortly. Black Friday, as far as I can tell, is inventory management tottering in high-heels and a black dress before the gullible masses.

Black Friday, Asda 2014

I got a Dyson but I don’t even know if I want it. I just picked it up, Louise Haggerty, a 56-year-old hairdresser and waitress, said of her 1am trip to the Black Friday sales. It was mental in there. It was crazy. It was absolutely disgusting, disgusting.

Black Friday article by the Guardian, 2014

Yet they still conform!

Daily Mail : Black Friday mayhem: Police called to dozens of supermarkets as shoppers fight over bargains in hunt for Christmas deals

BBC: ‘Black Friday': Police called to supermarket crowds

So it’s a new thing, right? Not like anyone really gets hurt, right?

NY 2008 : Worker dies at Long Island Wal-Mart after being trampled in Black Friday stampede.

One person from the crowd, interviewed by police, justified his part in the pushing (and trampling) by saying "I was in line since Friday morning!" (For 20 dollars off a PS3.)

Another, more shocked witness at the scene said that the "shoppers acted like ‘savages’ ", while one of the dead man’s colleagues asked, "”How could you take a man’s life to save $20 on a TV?"

How indeed.

Sorry About The Terrible Mistake

This post isn’t mine for a change, it’s something I read in one of Michael Heppell’s emailed newsletters that struck a chord with me, so I wrote to him and his team and asking if I could "steal" the newsletter and share it here. They kindly allowed me to reproduce it below.

If you don’t already know about Michael Heppell, he’s a greatly sought after motivation and success coach, an international speaker and a best selling author with a number of thoroughly recommended books, such as ‘How to be Brilliant’ (now in it’s tenth anniversary edition) and ‘Flip It’.

“It’s my bad.”

As in the quirky expression our American cousins use when they admit to doing something wrong.

I’ve made a few mistakes recently and thought I should explain myself.

I used to have my newsletters proofed 3 times before they went out. The odd mistake would occasionally sneak by, but not too often.

Now they get proofed once at the writing stage and that’s it. It’s a time vs productivity thing. Of course (after the proofing) it still has to be cut and pasted, sometimes we add the odd graphic and then it’s released to tens of thousands of happy readers.


Well not quite.

There have been mistakes in my last three mailings. Not big ones, just daft typos.

But that doesn’t deter the grammar police. They’re in there like a shot. Pointing out that I wrote ‘word’ instead of ‘work’ and ‘Start’ instead of ‘Star ’.

That’s fine.

In fact I wish they would read my books and point out the mistakes. At least my publishers can fix them in a revised edition.

But with a newsletter, when it’s gone it’s gone.

Here’s the thing. In my last newsletter there were 258 words which were perfect. But did they get a mention? No, just the one word that was wrong. Easier to point out what’s wrong than what’s right.
It’s like your work, especially if you’re the boss. You end up focusing on the one thing that your team member got wrong rather than the 258 things they got right.

Let’s Flip It

I remember when I first read the One Minute Manager, being struck by the simplicity of ‘Catch people doing something right’.

So here’s my challenge to you.

Thank 5 people today for what they are doing right.

Simple, but is it easy?

Let me know how you get on.

Be Brilliant!

Michael Heppell (signature)

Michael ‘Thank You’ Heppel

Michael Heppell logo

There are a couple of reasons I particularly wanted to share this one. For a start I’m one of said grammar purists that can spot a missing apostrophe (in someone else work!) at 100 yards and always find at least one typo in any book. Sometimes whole sentences repeated (or cut off) and once a chapter upside down (but that’s a binding error). It does throw you off, if you’ve that sort of a mind.

It’s another reminder to focus on what’s write, sorry, what’s right in your world – and not let one insignificant typo or error ruin your day! A computer consultant friend gave me some business cards to hand out and my first reaction wasn’t, Sure mate, happy to help, it was to blurt out, You are doing upgardes now? His printers should have picked that up as well, but that’s the point, really. Most people wouldn’t even notice it, ever, while others will blow it all out of proportion.

Doctoral candidate: "How did you find my paper on economical cold fusion, Professor?"

Nuclear physics professor: "There was an error in chapter 3, you wrote ‘fission’ instead of ‘fusion’"

Doctoral candidate: "Yes, Sir, possibly, but the technology actually works. It’s been powering the lab for the past 5 months."

Nuclear physics professor: "As I was saying, chapter 3, page 47, fourth line. 5 words in if I recall."

Doctoral candidate: " ! "

( If you are a grammarian you could do worse than follow Grammarly on Facebook, where I got the apt picture below. Now I just need to leg it over to Shoebox Blog and get permission for using their wonderful cartoon!)

Blogging typo effect

How many English words do you actually know?

I managed 26/30 (Vicious Vocabulary Viper) and had to guess more than I’d like to admit. It’s not everyday you see some of the words listed and nearly a third of them I have either never heard of or was looking at wondering if it was archaic and out of use, or some numpty word that found it’s way into the dictionary in the past few years, along with ‘lol’ and ‘innit’. (I actually swore out loud when I heard “innit” (isn’t it) was now officially part of the English language.)

Google ‘cheats’ UK and Europe out of billions in tax. Same old, same old!

In a recent article by Ars Technica entitled After moving money around, Google paid tiny amount in European taxes

Basically the company created a shells company in Ireland to be its “European headquarters” and then set up a series of other shell company around the world – notably in Bermuda – and then charges its subsiduaries for its services and claims it all back. Officially it is "technical legal", but of course morally reprehensible. But what do billionaires care about morals, especially where money is concerned. (that’s rhetorical).

So, last year, on $22.8 billion in sales (of $60 million worldwide) they used exploits to claim all but $37.2 million back. Sounds a lot but it’s a paltry 0.16% of profits – when really they should be paying 40% or so. The report, taken itself from one in the Irish Times (Google pays €27.7m tax at Irish subsidiary on €17bn revenue only goes to raise awareness in my eyes of seemingly unstoppable power of these vast companies, often with turnovers rivaling that of many country GDP.

Amazing how much richer the rich can get by using tax loopholes – and how convenient that despite being widely known and widely and shamelessly exploited by big multi-nationals they are never closed, so the carousel goes on. The understanding is the big companies have a duty to their shareholders (and mostly themselves, of course) to use such tactics. You’d think – worldwide – that governments would have a duty to their electing citizens to stop this – but voters don’t directly line their pockets with back-handers, jollies and a myriad of other incentives to amend – or not amend – the laws to line their own equally greedy and self-serving pockets.

Google’s effective tax rate in the United States has fallen dramatically from 21 percent to 15.7 percent in recent years as the company has broadened its use of overseas tax benefits.

Perhaps when they perfect the art in their ‘home’ HQ in The United States (or elsewhere for other corporations) and all of a sudden the president has to tell congress and the nation how the one mighty country is officially bankrupt – because Google, once paying 21% on its billions in earnings, dropped them to 15%, to 1.5%, to 0.15% – and all the others, like Starbucks, like Apple, like Amazon, followed suit.

How can this have happened, they will lament – as civil wars break out because of the state of the economy. How can this happen? No, how can it not…