Who killed “Time is Money?”

“Time is money.”

This declaration attributed to a letter written by Ben Franklin has become one of the philosophical foundations of our modern lifestyle, where the vast population willingly trades one for the other.

The quote however has been taken out of context.

The problem is this:
Money is a renewable resource. Time is not.

Today you have 24 hours. 1440 minutes. 86,400 seconds. Yes that looks like a big number, but its exactly the same number of seconds as everyone else. And at midnight tonight you will have spent everyone of those 86,400 seconds. You can’t save it, stash it, or store it away. You don’t get to choose when you use it, you only get to chose WHAT you use it for.
So for centuries we have been primed to do this strange trade deal where we use our time to service someone with something of greater value that the money we accept in return. We call it a business transaction, and it is expected of anyone in order earn money. It comes in a variety of different formats, but even passive money takes some form of work to set up.

But the time for money paradigm is under threat by its own extraordinary success: a century of rapid technological advances have materialised technologies that are accelerating exponentially making human workers in vast areas of industry obsolete.

So should you panic?

Not yet. I believe it is a good thing.

First of all, the very purpose of industrialisation was to free people from chores, and to create machines that would be at our service. Somehow we have lost focus on the way there and the whole process has become oddly distorted, but ultimately we are succeeding extraordinarily well in creating complex systems that can serve us, and they are only going to get better, more capable, more accessible and more successful.

But you are a human. Should you panic?

Right now the big panic is setting in at the level of global economists, as they begin to understand the dilemma. The writing is already on the wall (and has been for some time) that time can no longer be money.

In a very near future, time will no longer be money. At least not in the conventional way that we have grown up to understand it. The dilemma facing economists – and governments (if and when they wake up to the opportunity) is the decoupling of money from labour, and there are a range of possible an viable solutions already known. In the very near future we will see a transition from our current model to one where the mechanisms of national trade and revenue are underpinned by a largely automated industry – which is also entering a state of flux and profound transformation made possible by the internet of things, “intelligent” data, 3-d printing, microbots and lots of other cool stuff that was once sci-fi.

Should you panic?

No, no you should not panic. But I believe you need to begin thinking what it is that you really, really want to be doing.

Not just as an interest, but at the level of obsession, of passion. You no longer have the luxury of a half-fulfilled life, because almost certainly within your lifetime, and definitely in your kids lifetime, work will be a thing of the past, and a matter of choice, not money. As we are increasingly displaced from our “jobs” by automation – we will finally begin to reap the rewards of a century of rapid technological development. And that is a huge opportunity, but we need to begin to reawaken the dreamer within in order for us to continue our journey. In some places the process will hurt, but overall I believe that it will be a rapid transition, (“creative destruction” for those familiar with the concept) simply because once the death of time is money becomes an inescapable economic reality, it will force the hand of decision-makers to act fast.

Today you have what is left of your 86,400 seconds ahead of you. Some of that time you have already pre-committed. Some of that time will be devoted to biological demands of your body – eating, sleeping, reading FB posts on your smartphone while visiting the outhouse. The balance of that time is at your disposal. Take the batteries out of the TV remote, give a few of those precious seconds over to yourself, some quiet time to imagine stuff, and to reinvent your dreams.

Don’t panic. Dream.

Dream, and let those dreams become blueprints for the life you want.

Over the next few weeks my posts will be about dream and future stuff, the world the way I imagine it, things I expect to happen, things I expect to become possible. Mix those up with your own dreams. and you will discover and imagine new possibilities, and you will want to travel along that path towards them. and you will look forward to the day when you are no longer required at your “job”.

Please share this, and post your thoughts in the comments – I’d love to hear your views and ideas on this.

The freak that is stopping you from having a great life!

Few people would ever reject the idea that that there is something odd, unconventional or unique about them. It is the pedestal upon which a sense of self-identity is built, and we go to great lengths to defend it, we believe in it, and we know it as our own, in all its weirdness and flaws.

But what if we have made our own pedestal too low?

Few people would ever reject the idea that that there is something odd, unconventional or unique about them. It is the pedestal upon which a sense of self-identity is built, and we go to great lengths to defend it, we believe in it, and we know it as our own, in all its weirdness and flaws.

But what if we have made our own pedestal too low?

What if we have made it just high enough so that we can indulge ourselves in our uniqueness, but low enough to prevent exposure to judgement?.

As teenagers go through their process of self discovery, for a brief time they are not afraid of making those pedestals as high as they can, but the onslaught of public -and often parental- opinion, the requirements to conform to ideals in order to allow career opportunities to flourish, media imagery and peer pressures generally mean that in most cases the level is rapidly reduced to a safe, comfortable height. It is lowered to the level at which you feel you are able to avoid any dangerous exposure, criticism and judgement.

But this comes with a huge price: we launch into life with every intention to remain ordinary.

Quite literally, we disappear into the vast ocean of average, where there is little judgement, criticism and opinion.

We hear story after story of regret from those around us who have abandoned their vision to instead live normal lives. We never hear regrets from those who dared to stand out.

Perhaps the music and entertainment industry is one place where the evidence of this is most visible, but it spans into every human endeavour.
Just imagine for a moment that in 1973 Paul, Gene, Ace and Peter stepped onto the stage without the makeup and outrageous costumes, the pyrotechnics. KISS found out very quickly in the late 90’s that the thing that made them special were their make-up, the outrageous costumes and the huge shows, not just the music. Not only do they love doing their thing 40 years on, today they are worth nearly half a billion dollars US.

Imagine Dr Spock without his unusual haircut, ears and dry logic. Imagine if Master Yoda spoke and looked like you or I, we would not buy into his mysticism, jedi wisdom and magnitude.

Imagine Ghandi without his ascetic lifestle and traditional garb. Imagine Jacques Custeau without his red beret, Sir David Attenborough without the raspy whispering narration, or Russell Brand without his irreverence.

But don’t mistake it for an appearance thing.

Its a being thing.

It’s how you are, how you do what you do.

You have a something inside you that you think of as freakish, odd, perhaps a little undesirable, and you are also completely attached to. Something that even though you have relinquished it publicly, it still defines your identity in some secret way. It is something that you will never relinquish within.

I encourage you to reclaim that inner outcast, to re-acquaint yourself with its weirdness, and to allow it once again to define you. Take that idea, possibly weakened by its time in exile, bathe it, feed it, and give it new clothes.

Allow it to speak, listen carefully to it, and side with it. Side with it in defiance of opinions, of criticism, of attacks no matter how vicious. Defend it with great self belief, not with malice or arrogance, and it will take you towards authenticity, towards integrity, towards living your life’s true purpose. Side with it as your pedestal rises above the average, and wear it with pride and dignity, it is your armour against mediocrity, it is your true self, it is you being someone’s hero.

Go on. You know you want to…!

24 ridiculously simple things anyone can start today that will make this year extraordinary!.

Happy new Year 2015! 

As the smoke from the fireworks has dispersed, the ink on your New-Years-resolutions has dried, and you have already written off at least 8 items as unachievable, I would like to suggest a completely different way of launching into the new year. Remove yourself from those highly desirable, highly improbably and ultimately pesky resolutions. Instead start by reading this list of 24 ridiculously simple things which – if done, will transform your life.

But there is a catch. So read on…

  1. Eat leafy greens every day. Have a side salad (dress with olive oil and vinegar, not the bottled dressing stuff), put them in your sandwich, steam or stir-fry them into your dinner, or sautee them for your poached egg breakfast…
  2. Use butter and ghee instead of margarine and processed solidified oil-based spreads. Avoid anything that simply has the term vegetable oils on the label – its most likely palm oil.
  3. Have more sex. Be more physically affectionate in general. Hug your family members and close friends as often as possible. Physical contact is one of the most powerful “anti-depressants”.
  4. Stop criticising others. When you think of something you’d like to comment on, find something about that person that you can compliment them on instead. Say that instead.
  5. Smile at strangers, perhaps even go all out and say “Hi”. You will be an angel in their day.
  6. Stop drinking carbonated drinks, and instead drink more pure water and green teas – hot or cold but without the sugar. Stop doing all other things while you drink it. Don’t just guzzle it or let it go cold/warm, give yourself time to savour it.
  7. Only eat premium chocolates. Cocoa is a natural stimulant. It makes you feel happy and alert. Generally better quality chocolate has less sugar and more cocoa content, but like all things, don’t go overboard.
  8. Use stairs instead of lifts or escalators wherever you can.
  9. Cut down your TV time… or keep it turned off altogether. If that is too much then start by making a select list of programs to watch and turn off at the end – (don’t channel surf). You will have more time for items 3, 10, 16 and 17! Above all, don’t eat dinner or fall asleep in front of the TV.
  10. …and read good books instead.  To help you get started here is INC.’s list of 7 most thought-provoking books form 2014. If you also want to pay the benefit of this forward, read to your kids every day. Not only will  you quickly become their biggest hero and friend, you are helping their young brains develop in ways that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
  11. Draw out a time-line for your future: go back 3 years (it may look frighteningly similar to today), go forward 5 years, then stop doing anything that does not help you with or is not a part of your 5 year plan. You will almost certainly find that you have less time than you thought you had, and that you absolutely can’t put it off to start sometime later! Do this soon!
  12. Work less hours. This will reveal many things, such as whether you are prioritizing effectively, delegating tasks when you should, taking on more than you can handle, simply doing busy stuff for the sake of it, or not being honest (with yourself) about your capacity to deliver. Putting a time limit on your work is the single best productivity hack bar none.
  13. Don’t take work home. Few other practices have the capacity to rapidly become as damaging a habit as this, wreaking havoc with your health, your family relationships, your self-esteem and your mojo. If this is expected in your job, then perhaps it is time to reconsider carefully if it is part of your long term plan as you mapped out in item 11.
  14. Only answer your mobile phone when you really need to. Keep work calls to work hours. Avoid taking calls when you are in a conversation (with only  a few exceptions) – it is the equivalent of saying to your friend that they what they are saying is not important enough to you. And the reverse applies, respect your colleagues personal time outside of work. If you want to go the extra mile, leave your mobile phone off for a day each week.
  15. Delete all social media apps from your smartphone. You will miss nothing, and live more. If you rely on social media feeds such as twitter, prune your “following” list to the ones that really matter, and allocate set time-slots to check it using hash-tag searches. For the ultimate selective info hack check out Tim Ferris’s post on using RSS feeds here.
  16. Meet new linked-in connections in person, – if geographically possible. Don’t do it to sell yourself to them, but to get to know them as people, not as an online profile. A huge virtual contact list is not a network.
  17. Learn something new that you have always wanted to learn. It may be a language, a musical instrument, an artistic or a technical skill, public speaking, rock-climbing…. Pick just one thing, and stick to it for the entire year.  30 minutes for 5 days each week will put you above average by the end of the year – Seriously! And if you are into meta-learning – check out Tim-Ferris’ website for all sorts of super-fast learning hacks – they work!.
  18. Drink less, drink better. Limit alcoholic drinks to one or two days per week, and for truly special occasions. And have nice stuff. Alcohol (together with sugary foods) are the one of the biggest contributors to weight gain that is never spoken about.
  19. Do something you absolutely love to do for at least 15 minutes every day (or longer if that is appropriate). I don’t mean zoning out on the x-box or watching an entire season box set of Glee, but actively engage in a constructive activity. It may be something that you have chosen to learn in item 17.
  20. Devote some time to help in your community once a month. It can be part of a formal activity, or just simply picking up litter you may find when walking at your local park. Your local council website is a good place to find out what you can get involved with.
  21. Don’t eat lunch at your work desk. Stop, go outside if you can, find a park or a place where you can be removed from your work environment.  Perhaps you may even start a group of people who go an sit somewhere together at lunch (and don’t talk about work!). You will return to work refreshed and more productive.
  22. Talk less, listen more. We learn little while speaking (except when we are practicing a new language).
  23. Be on time, even a little early. Few things show respect to others as much as the simple gesture of not leaving people waiting, and it also shows that you are a master of your time. This can be a real challenge and it is a difficult habit to master, but it pays big dividends.
  24. Meditate every day. Research in this area has already uncovered a profound benefits, but if this is a stretch for you, then just find a place and time each day when you can be by yourself in a quiet place. It can be a simple as sitting quietly in a park for 5 or so minutes, listening to the wind or birds, before eating your lunch, or perhaps after dinner.
Ok. You go this far, but seroiusly 24 things to change? Hard enough to stick to one or two!

So here is my challenge:

Pick two.

Just two that you will commit to doing throughout January.
You will have good days and not so good ones, you may falter here or there. Keep going!.
Oh, and don’t be clever and try 3, in February you get to choose two more and so on.

Hit like if you are up for the challenge, and post in the comments to declare yourself in the game. And since it is always easier to do this with someone else, share this and get a friend to participate along with you. No prizes for keeping it up, you will find that the results in 12 months wil be worth far more amazing and personal than any prize I could offer!

Stop impressing your boss (do this instead!)

For the larger part of the adult population, the single biggest share of time is spent almost exclusively in the company of work colleagues, clients, and bosses. And because of this idea that our relationship with them is pivotal to our life, these are the people who we are most likely to make efforts to impress, or at least, not get unnecessarily off-side. The majority of them are people who we have never deliberately sought to share time with, they come into our life as part of a career (and usually leave with it when we change direction). In many cases they may even people who we are in direct competition with, who perhaps may even be a threat, requiring us to be even more impressive.

The relevance or lack of relevance of these relationships has a profound effect on our lives, but even more so on the lives of the next generation. When they look at you do they see substance in your purpose, in your relationships and your actions?

It is easy to jump to answer this and say “Of course!” – but the perspective from which this must be answered is not our own, it is from theirs.

That changes everything.

One very current example is this: As parents we naturally expose kids at an early age to natural icons. Rhinos, Giraffes, Elephants, Gorillas, Polar Bears, Whales. Bees. There are adventures of journeys through untouched wilderness. For most kids in primary school now, these icons are becoming increasingly likely to be extinct when they become adults. And they know that. They also know that we are somehow responsible. Perhaps not directly, but indirectly the finger points squarely at us.

This is why it changes everything:

We have inadvertently sent a very clear warning to the next generation to not follow us, to ignore our advice. We have inadvertently sent a clear message to the next generation that we don’t really care what happens to them. We have created a role-model vacuum. We have created an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, of defeat before they even begin their race. We have created a toxic environment (real and figuratively) into which they have no choice but to walk into.

But we can also change everything.

While the role-model vacuum is being filled by escapes into digital worlds where battles can still be won and where heroes still exist (for better or worse) I believe we have a moral obligation to reclaim this space. It is simpler than you think, although it requires some work – possibly difficult work because it is mostly work within ourselves.

It is simply this: Begin to shift your focus away from trying to impress your colleagues, and towards impressing your kids, whatever their age. It does not mean that you take up extreme downhill cycling, or mask up at night to become a vigilante. Here are some suggestions that won’t put you in hospital or jail.

  • Do stuff that matters. Not just to them but also to you. By spending every “free” hour entranced by a TV with a drink in hand you are declaring that you have given up yourself. Failure and defeat does not inspire, it robs others of hope, it kills possibility.
  • Show the value of life by valuing yours, and everyone else’s that you come in contact with.
  • Show respect for the natural world that they are heirs to by treating it as if it was theirs.
  • Invest ethically, into ventures that are not in conflict with their inheritance.
  • Consider who you work for. Perhaps it is time to work in an industry that is not engaged in socially or ecologically destructive practice.
  • Be kind and compassionate, not just in their presence.

There is no measure to the respect that these simple things will earn you.
There is no measure to the outlook and hope you will give them.
There is no measure to how much greater your life will become as a result.
There is no measure of how great a change is possible when many people do simple little things that matter.

And that will change everything.

The most dangerous assumption ever.

Assumptions are an inevitable necessity. We can never know everything that we need to know in order to do something. Most assumptions are useful , but there is one assumption that can destroy everything in an instant, and we are all guilty of making it, frequently.

It is the assumption that things won’t change.

“That is obvious” I hear you thinking. But without knowing anything about you I guarantee that you have many foundational aspects of your life pinned on this assumption.

How can you know?

Ask yourself this…

  • Have you ever felt that in your career you have “arrived” at the job that you wanted, a satisfactory level of remuneration or recognition that you can can be reasonably content with? Or at the very least, it is ok?.
  • Do you feel that you have found the right life companion and that you can feel settled in your relationships?
  • Do you have a good circle of friends whom you feel a grounded connection with?
  • Do you feel that you know “enough” to deal with most of what life is likely to put in front of you?

In corporate cultures that assumption is often whitewashed with strategic plans and grand projections, but in reality we all have a natural desire for continuity. We are biologically hard-wired for this. It is easy to spot (and see the consequences) when it happens at that large public scale: governments operating in complete disengagement from real shifts and changes that are selfevident to their constituents, or corporations that suddenly find themselves in rapid decline due to “unforeseen” events. The path of history -is and will continue to be- littered with both.

It is less evident on a personal level, as we are immersed in that assumption, and quite literally can’t often see it from where we are standing.

If you have answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then you too hare making decisions about your future on this assumption. Hold on to your hat, something is coming your way that you were not expecting. It’s bigger than you expect, sooner than you think.

If you answered “no” then you have opened another contentious door: the necessity for change. Again, most people are naturally averse to change – so it is not surprising that most people will seek refuge in the assumption that things won’t change.

How we engage with change is a complex subject, but in its simplest form, you can either actively ride along with it, or ignore it as it will happen anyway. If you  assume its certainty, and plan with this recognition, you can ride along with change and make deliberate adjustments that put you in an advantage over those who choose to ignore it.

What assumptions are you making about your future? Are your decisions based on an assumption of no change, or do you openly invite and capitalise on it?

What price are you paying?

This last week I was reminded again of the price of leadership, and how fortunate most of us are that at least at this present moment we do not have to fight battles on that level.

So now to the story… It is heavy, but there is a point to it, so hang in there.

You may have seen some images posted on facebook, twitter and youtube in the last two weeks that are not making headlines although they probably should. While mainstream news is reporting the civil unrest in the Ukraine, a similar thing is happening in Venezuela. I was born and raised there, and although I have lived in Australia for most of my adult life, I feel a deep affinity for their plight. Two young political leaders have initiated a campaign of non-violent protests to demand that the current president step down. The reasons are numerous and for another conversation. However two days ago one of the leaders was taken into custody, while the government has been doing its best to shut down all kinds of social media, and prevent news and information of these event “leaking”. The day following his arrest, a video was posted on youtube in which he made an impassioned plea for people not to give up, with his wife next to him, and filmed after he was evidently aware of his probable imprisonment.

Irrespective of whether I agree or not with his political views, here is someone who is prepared to give up everything in order to secure a better future for his young daughter, and who already knew what what was likely about to happen to him, and still, he did not flinch.

It is easy to look at the lives of the people who made a profound difference in the world, and it is easy to forget the price they have paid. It is easy to forget that Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison. The list goes on… The point is , that is a big price to pay, and they have all paid it.

As I said at the start, we are incredibly fortunate that the battles we have to fight are not life-threatening. But this does not mean that there are not circumstances that merit championship. You know what these are in your life, in your industry, in your family, in your country.

Your purpose may not change the course of a country, that is ok. It is certain that it will alter the course of your life, and possibly those close to you.

I hope that by know you are grasping the insignificance of the obstacles that stand in your way.

I hope that you are realising that the only reason you are negotiating the price with the obstacle is because you are afraid of failing, of loosing “skin”.

I hope that you are getting an inkling of what not doing it will cost you.

When you grasp what is really at stake, you will stop negotiating, and lead the way. And whatever the price, it is certainly nowhere near as high as what that young Venezuelan party leader may have to pay.

In your case, it is a great bargain that you can’t afford to miss!

Happy 30th! CPR for your NYR.


Today your New Year’s Resolutions turns 30.

Hang on, what New Year’s Resolutions? Struggling to remember yours?

Perhaps some did not turn 30. Perhaps they tragically deceased sometime in the last 30 days, bullied out of existence by the relentlessness of every-day life. Erased from your schedule by other tasks that promoted themselves as more urgent. You know who those tasks are, the regular guys that owned your day last year.

All frivolity aside, this week is a good week to revisit your new year’s resolutions. You have travelled one twelfth of this year, and irrespective if your resolutions involved a one year time-frame or something longer-term, you may have experienced some victories, and certainly some defeats.

That is reassuring, and here is why:

  • If you have missed some gym sessions because some days 5 am was just not going to happen for you, be proud of all the other mornings that you did. Even if the 6-morning per week goal turned out to be only 3 mornings, but you managed to keep that up for the last four weeks.
  • If you fell short of your goal of adding ten new customers to your business, but you made those calls every day without fail, celebrate the fact that you have made progress.
  • If you started with 23 resolutions, and now you are only pursuing 5, but you have managed to keep yourself motivated on those fab five. Celebrate your uniqueness that you have managed to keep some alive. Most people don’t.

If you have some new years resolutions that have made it this far, irrespective of what condition they are in, you are on the right path.

Now is the time for clinical intervention, and in some cases CPR.

It is highly likely that the activity associated with your NYR is on the way to becoming a habit. You have already broken through the hardest part already and won many mental battles. From hereon forth the game is about persistence, and effort in the right places. So far it has been a solo journey. But if you want your NYR to survive February, you can not continue alone.

The next step is about rapid learning as we begin to fine-tune. After all, you want to establish a habit that gives the results that you are after. You need to establish a reliable reference point. If you are on a budget, read. Not obscure or populist blogs, but books. Books by respected authors and experts. If your budget is more flexible, participate in a relevant group program. If you want a result fast, get good one-on-one coaching.

Don’t let your NYR die of loneliness! Whichever you choose to do now, make sure you have your medic, your accountability buddy, your personal trainer standing by checking your pulse and correcting your moves, and you will have a fabulous 60th!

The future is NOT now!

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”

This week I had conversations that are so eloquently captured in this quote attributed to Arthur Schopenhauer. The conversations contrasted two very different mindsets.

One of these mindsets will take us forward. The other will not.

Let me begin with the latter one. These proponents suggested that the changes required to transform our energy industries could not possibly happen, as there was too much invested in the current framework. Statistics were quoted, physics and maths used to substantiate impossibility. Thus they also felt that further investment in the present technologies – although problematic – was appropriate. Whatever the outcomes, the expectations were being molded, shrunk, and sliced to fit into the present circumstances.

On a different subject, the other proponents were seeking to solve a series of design problems. The tone of this conversation was very different. There were few disagreements, as most of the discussion was founded on speculation. Even a rebuttal would be speculation. There were few facts in this conversation, and many “What ifs”. The present circumstances were only relevant as a starting point. There was not even the slightest indication that these circumstances were part of the final picture. In fact, it was understood that they could not, and must not, be part of the final picture.

When I think back the transformations that have taken place in the world since my childhood,

I know that even in my wildest imagination I can not conceive what my children’s world will look like to them in three or four decades.

In my most absurd moment of creative extravagance, I know that the very best I can come up with pales in comparison to what they will experience. I only ever felt this daunted when reading Asimov’s Foundation books, and pondering on the whole idea of imagining a world not one or two generations ahead, but thousands of years. 

We have nothing to be afraid of dreaming up some faraway goalposts for us to aim at from the present. The future is not now, we can not base our decisions for tomorrow only on what is possible today. Sure, common sense applies, but infuse it with some uncommon sense. We need to imagine what we want, not what we have, or even what is possible.

We can only dream. But we place that dream into one absolute certainty: Tomorrow something will be possible that was not possible today.