Insights with Data – Hans Rosling

One of my favorite TED speeches (Why? His abilities to bring life, humour and storytelling to data). Brilliant graphic presentation of how both life expectancy and personal wealth have improved over the last 200 years but the gap between the richest and poorest nations has widened.

Rosling’s demonstration of the software at the 2006 TED conference was such a hit that organizers asked him back the following year, and the video of his TED presentation is one of the most popular the conference has posted on its web site. During his demo, as large and small bubbles representing countries raced across a chart showing their development over time, Rosling called out their positions like a horse race commentator defying audience expectations of where the bubbles would land. The demo raised questions about which countries could truly be considered developed.

The visualization tool is called GapMinder. Gapminder is a non-profit venture promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by increased use and understanding of statistics and other information about social, economic and environmental development at local, national and global levels.

Useful, usable, delightful

“Useful, usable, delightful” are three words that inspire every project. Great article with James Hilton, Chief creative officer, AKQA in this Guardian article about design.

I would add – classical designs aspire to be timeless for decades, whereas websites design aspires, at best, to stand for a few months. That’s where modern digital design has it’s challenges from evolving the methods.

Narrative control

We like to believe that simple is smart, especially when trying to communicate complex issues, so why then does Obama need a revision on his political narrative after such an impressive campaign to get into office. His strong, clear narrative (hope and change) helped the president connect with voters and explain the journey. The lack of one now invites opponents to craft a less flattering portrayal. The NYT comments on President Obama’s first year in office through the lens of controlling a clear story.

“You’ve got to have a clear, easy to understand story,” said Mark McKinnon, an image-maker for George W. Bush’s two presidential campaigns but a professed admirer of Mr. Obama. “Obama’s story is getting very complicated and confusing for voters. Obama is trying to do it all and appease too many constituencies. Voters like him and think he’s smart. But they’re not exactly clear whose side he’s fighting on.”

Paolo Coelho

Paolo Coelho – Respected Brazilian lyricist and novelist.

“Art and storytelling are the only bridges we have left in a world that is collapsing.”

This quote should resonate with adventure seekers prepared to manage risk and recovery:

You drown not by falling into a river, but by staying submerged in it.

Spread the Good

This is one of the reasons why we have begun conceptualizing a social media campaign with woodhouseagency called spread-the-good. A great initiative to help us recognize and uncover people’s unique greatness and capacity to help one another. Like the guy with the bus who just knew he needed to help.

Sometimes we uncover this greatness on our own and sometimes it takes a little inspiration to help us see it. But, make no mistake, it’s there. Our challenge is to recognize it when it shows up. Let’s face it, it’s easy to see greatness in these examples, I mean, what’s not to admire? But greatness comes in all varieties, whether it’s in the form of a simple, every day sunrise or in the gesture of someone offering an umbrella to another in the rain.

Props to Boom Boom

Benjamin Zander: Conductor

Zander on Leadership and Management. A few brief foot notes from his inspiring TED talk and acclaimed book, The Art of Possibility. A deservedly renowned contributor to leadership studies:

* A leader cannot doubt, even for a single moment, the capacity of his followers to realize his vision. That is the only way to achieve success as a team.
* As a leader, it is important to keep awakening possibilities in his followers. Zander likened a leader’s role to that of a conductor, who cannot make music on his own, but is able to bring out the best in his musicians to create wonderful music.
* A successful leader always inspires his followers to be passionate and motivated, and these feelings are reflected in their shining eyes. To Zander, a leader’s success is not measured by his wealth, fame or power, but rather, the number of shining eyes he has around him.
* The same principle applies to children: If the eyes of one’s child are not shining, it is time to evaluate one’s effectiveness as a parent.
* It is important to always have the correct and positive perspective.

Sri Lanka

Researching inspiring locations for summer holidays.

For a quarter century, Sri Lanka seems to have been plagued by misfortune, including a brutal civil war between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil minority. But the conflict finally ended last May, ushering in a more peaceful era for this teardrop-shaped island off India’s coast, rich in natural beauty and cultural splendors. The island, with a population of just 20 million, feels like one big tropical zoo: elephants roam freely, water buffaloes idle in paddy fields and monkeys swing from trees. And then there’s the pristine coastline. The miles of sugary white sand flanked by bamboo groves that were off-limits to most visitors until recently are a happy, if unintended byproduct of the war.

Photo Credit: Keith Bedford – New York Times

Daring Acts of Rescue

December 2009 – A RAF rescue helicopter rescues people from their homes in the centre of Cockermouth in Keswick, United Kingdom. A major rescue operation is underway after severe weather conditions caused floods cutting off villages and towns in England’s Lake District. Wast Water is the deepest Lake in the Lake District and is over looked by Scafell pike which at 3206 feet is England’s highest mountain. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Hard to imagine that the Life Boat crews would be rescusing folk from the downtown streets. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Capsule hotels

NYT reports about how capsule hotels built for salary men who missed the train home, are becoming a last resort for the unemployed.

“It’s just a place to crawl into and sleep,” he said, rolling his neck and stroking his black suit — one of just two he owns after discarding the rest of his wardrobe for lack of space. You get used to it.”

Good Manners

I’m just saying, annoying twitter remarks come down to a simple premise: Ask yourself do you really need to tell us that?

Pull a page out of the twitter playbook: ‘I shall not commit unnecessary annoying personal remarks without due course and attention’.

Thriving on creative risk

Risk Management
Risk Management

A daring act starts with acknowledging risk, accepting the odds and managing a margin of error. Steve McQueen offers a unique trait to daring, namely how one noble decision to act can spur everyone else to follow his lead.


Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.

I accept chaos. I am not sure whether it accepts me. I know some people are terrified of the bomb. But then some people are terrified to be seen carrying a modern screen magazine. Experience teaches us that silence terrifies people the most.

Fear grows in darkness; if you think there’s a bogeyman around, turn on the light.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.

Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.

Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.

The hens they all cackle, the roosters all beg,
But I will not hatch, I will not hatch.
For I hear all the talk of pollution and war
As the people all shout and the airplane roar,
So I’m staying in here where it’s safe and it’s warm,

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.

I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.