Tim Longhurst's Blog

Re-connect with your best bits: start with why

August 30th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Your passions – the stuff that gets you enthusiastic – the things you’re interested in… These are your best bits.

Too many of us spend too much of our lives with our best bits wrapped up by the daily grind of the what we do. In this 18 minute talk, Simon Sinek is convinced that if we put our best bits out the front where they belong, people will want more.

“Sell to people who believe what you believe – hire people who believe what you believe” is the mantra of Simon, the “Start with why” guy.

If you’re interested in engaging family, friends, colleagues or customers with what you do, then grab your best bits and watch this.

Thanks to Treffyn & Renee, who independent of each other sent me this. 🙂


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Category: Communication and connection

In honour of futurist, Jan Lee Martin

August 9th, 2011 · 4 Comments

Few people have had as powerful an influence on my life as futurist and educator, Jan Lee Martin. It is with a heavy heart that I write this, because last night, Jan passed away.

This biography I found on the web introduces you to Jan as a professional, if you don’t already know her by reputation:

Jan Lee Martin has always lived in the future. As public relations manager for IBM in New Zealand in the 1960s, she participated in the early excitement of the computer revolution. She was a manager at a time when young people, and especially young women, were not expected to be managers.  And she began a career in public relations when very few people knew what that meant.  (She says many still don’t.)

For nearly 20 years she ran her own public relations consultancy in Sydney, working with senior executives of government, private and not-for-profit organizations to improve their internal and external communication with stakeholders.  It was when she sold that consultancy, and began to explore the boundaries of change, that she met the field of future studies.  In the mid-90s she and some of Australia’s leading futurists established the Futures Foundation as an independent centre for learning about the future.

Seven years later, the Foundation merged with the Future of Work Foundation, and Jan was able to hand over the chair and concentrate on other activities. For some years she continued to edit Future News and contribute to the website, and she still works on special projects with colleagues in the futuring community.

She is a regular speaker at conferences in Australia and elsewhere; has worked as a senior executive coach for a major bank; occasionally writes for media; and maintains her family and community interests in Sydney and at Pearl Beach on the Central Coast of New South Wales.  She has a special interest in changing ideas of what we mean by success; in changes in the way we measure performance (and success);  and in the changing relationships between organizations and others in their host communities.

Jan Lee Martin is co-chair of the Millennium Project in Australia (a WFUNA organization), a professional member of the World Future Society and a member of the World Futures Studies Federation.  She has contributed to many publications including the Australia and New Zealand Public Relations Manual, the standard text in communication degree courses; and The Knowledge Base of Futures Studies, the  standard text in futures studies degree courses.  She is a member of the editorial board of the international Journal of Futures Studies and is listed in the World Future Society’s Directory of people who write and speak about the future.

Jan Lee Martin is co-chair of the Millennium Project in Australia, a professional member of the World Future Society and a member of the World Futures Studies Federation.

No biography can ever capture a person’s essence, and this is especially true of Jan… She was so deeply committed to understanding our world and helping make it better. It was that spirit that I found so inspiring.

For 30 years Jan Lee Martin and Peter Lazar have been a dynamic duo – two communication professionals who, having established successful public relations practices, became powerful advocates of the application of foresight and futures studies… Playing leadership roles in the establishment of a futurist community in Australia.

A decade ago, Jan and Peter came and spoke to Communication students at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst. I was in the audience, and their presentations, at the intersection of communication and futures were life changing. For me, I went from believing that I would be a communication professional (working in organisational communication), to discovering a new possibility – helping organisations grow in all facets by collaborating with them in pursuing inspiring futures.

A story about Jan from the boardroom

A few years later, Jan was speaking at a boardroom presentation of partners at Ernst & Young. I was a budding futurist and she was kind enough to include me so I could come and see her in action. I reflect on this moment because it goes some small way towards capturing what made her so inspiring:

Initially, the audience (mostly men) were openly hostile to the concept of a “futurist” presenting to them. One of Jan’s opening slides was an illustration of a teddy bear who sat rather pensively in the corner of the frame, confessing that the more the bear learns, the more the bear realises how much there is to learn! A disarming slide, filled with humility – not a quality a large accounting firm had seen much of in the boardroom, I’d imagine!

As Jan introduced the audience expertly to her perspectives, the participants began to come around. The presentation was a wonderful balance of science and sociology, of modern thinking and ancient wisdom. Models and ideas that are – ridiculously – still not embraced by corporate Australia were introduced in such plain English and in such a compelling manner… Jan’s sense of purpose was obvious, the positive nature of her intentions was clear. She was – as ever – so grounded and so generous. She told the story of the professor with the glass vase… The vase has room for rocks, pebbles and sand… But only if we start by putting the rocks in first… Jan recommended us all to fill our “vases” first with the ‘big rocks’ of family and friends. By now the audience were in… Now leaning forward, Jan shared with us a quote of her own, something she had penned back in 1988… ““Like any living system, including you and me, an organisation depends upon successful relationships if it is to survive and prosper.”. This pearl of wisdom is perfect for Jan, as it combines those two fields she brought together, communication and futures.

Professionally, this is a very sad time for the foresight and futures community; a movement that is still young, but a movement that Jan played such an important role in sparking and amplifying in Australia.

Jan Lee Martin brought her professionalism, diplomacy and generosity to a practice that needed a credible, passionate advocate. Her passing is a great loss to our community.

Jan’s commitment to identify “inspiring ways to create the future” lives on in the lives of the many people she touched through her lifetime, not the least of which is mine.

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Category: Communication and connection

Dancin’ honey bee using dance to communicate

August 14th, 2009 · 1 Comment

blog-beesDid you know that honey bees are able to communicate with each other using dance? I’d never seen a bee dance, but I’ve found a cool video clip showing a dancin’ bee in action.

If you can embrace the ‘education video’ aesthetic of this video below, you are in for a real treat.

In just three minutes, you will see footage demonstrating a bee dance, along with an explanation of what the dance means.

If a forager bee starts dancing, he’s found some flowers the other bees ought to know about. The direction he dances indicates the direction of the flowers, the length of the dance indicates the distance to the flowers.

Here’s the video on YouTube… Attribution is not presented with the clip, so the origin of the video is unknown.

Humans, on the other hand, tend to use dance to communicate how much they’ve had to drink…

Me, I find the bee dancing interesting, but the human dancing way more fun.

Title image credit: An edited image of David Nikonvscanon’s photo of bees.

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Category: Our living planet

Palin calls elected leader a dictator, AP ignores error

October 25th, 2008 · 9 Comments

Sarah Palin this week mistakenly called a democratically-elected president of a foreign state a dictator. In response, Hugo Chavez, who was in 2006 re-elected by a convincing 60% of voters, evoked Jesus, remarking, “Forgive her, for she knows not what she says.”.

So now you know the story: Chavez is not a dictator, he’s the popularly-elected leader of Venezuala. Palin didn’t know even this most basic fact about Venezuala, and yet felt qualified to threaten that country with sanctions.

The Associated Press’ version of this story does not once point out that Venezuala is a democracy. Without this significant piece of context, Palin’s innacurate assertion that Chavez is a dictator goes unchallenged.

The gaffe of Palin’s may be unclear to many readers, and the dismissive nature of Chavez’ comments may seem unfairly condecending and out of line without any clarifying statements.

Here’s the story, as it appears at this moment, (archived in full for purposes of criticism/critique):

Venezuela’s Chavez: Palin a pitiful ‘beauty queen’


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin a “poor thing” who didn’t know what she was saying when she called him a dictator.

Friday’s verbal attack was the latest in long history of creative insults by Chavez — but was not unprovoked.

In an interview with the U.S. Spanish-language network Univision aired Tuesday, Palin remarked that “through negotiations or sanctions, if necessary, we can pressure dictators like Hugo Chavez to make it clear that they cannot mess with the United States whenever they feel like it.”

Speaking at an event to inaugurate a thermoelectric plant, Chavez said he had heard of Palin’s remarks.

“The poor thing, you have to feel sorry for her,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. Palin, he said, is “a beauty queen that they’ve put in the role of a figurine.”

Chavez said one must do as Christ did: “Forgive her, for she knows not what she says.”

Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s choice of Palin as his running mate surprised the nation and prompted questions about her qualifications to serve as vice president. The McCain campaign had no comment on Chavez’ comment.

Palin, the governor of Alaska, says she would take the lead as vice president in energy policy, overall government reform and working with families who have special-needs children.

This article will almost certainly be syndicated by hundreds, if not thousands of news organisations around the world.

If such careless journalism had occured on a blog or other social media, an early commentor would almost certainly point out the complete lack of context.

Unfortunately, the Associated Press’ traditional publishing model leaves time-consuming details like accuracy or clarification at the door. Readers are not provided with so much as an email address to offer comments or express concern.

The article will be read unchallenged and unedited by thousands around the world.

Participatory Media: 1
Centralised Media: 0

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Category: Communication and connection

Speaking Mandarin Chinese like a local – nciku edition

August 15th, 2008 · 3 Comments

It’s my second week in Beijing and my Mandarin skills are slowly improving… I can now cheer for China or Australia in Mandarin; take a cab home completely in Mandarin (as long as we don’t chat and the driver can handle my accent) and explain on the phone to a cab driver how to get to my apartment in Mandarin, if friends want to come over (this has only happened once, but it felt great!).

If I want to learn a particular word in Mandarin, I’ve found a great site to use – it’s called nciku (en-see-koo). You type the word in English, and it will give you the various meanings of the word and the Chinese equivalents. PLUS it will ‘pronounce’ the word for you at the click of a mouse.

Vocabulary building

Best of all, nciku will remember all the words you’ve searched in a ‘vocab’ area (free registration required), which means you can go back and practice later. You can track your progress by checking off the words you know.

Read conversations as they happen

If you check out the site, be sure to look at the conversations section, where you can listen to Chinese conversations and watch the pinyin. Pinyin, the not-at-all-phonetic roman character version of Chinese is used in phrasebooks, but is next to useless if you haven’t mastered the pronunciation.

Like an interactive phrasebook

The themes section of the site has plenty of basic words, along with stock photos and the pronunciation in bot English and Mandarin. Unfortunately, this section doesn’t feature Pinyin, which is a flaw I hope the developers address in a future iteration of the site.

All in all, it’s a great resource… Worthy of adding to the list of resources I mentioned back over here a week ago.

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Category: Communication and connection