Asking for advice

You need to be careful who you ask. There are all sorts of pitfalls. Some people might not understand the question and give a lazy response to what they thought the question was. Some might get emotional if the question threatens their position. Many people are not used to thinking through their answers.

I believe we humans create easy answers to a lot of the more difficult questions thrown at us, even if they are not true or based on facts. We have to, simply to cope with the harsh reality of life. Placebos can work very well but if someone asks an honest question then you owe them a well thought out answer based on fact, not purely on faith.

Next time someone asks me for advice I will first try and really understand where they are coming from before offering my own point of view on the matter. Then I will try and stick to the facts.

Happy Sunday chimps!

Design impacts Art & Design impacts Health. Therefore Health = Art.

Odd title, let me explain.

In reading about the impact of design and space on our wellbeing, I have come more and more to believe in well designed homes as a source of wellbeing. Conversely poorly designed homes are bad for our long term health. Certain spaces will create stress or isolation, and others will create relaxation and communion. Healthy spaces should account for all stimuli entering the brain through all the senses.

So far so good. I imagine, dear reader, that you are with me on this…or at least you are willing to entertain the notion that a room full of comfy couches, mellow music, warm lighting and sweet lavender smells is better for our health than a damp, dark basement with odours of rat poo.

But this is where my mind makes a weird connection, so as Samuel L Jackson famously said about the dinosaurs: “hold on to your butts”.

I recently came across this quartz article which looks at the impact of headphones on media and pop music: link I found myself nodding to the words throughout the article. Media has become a certain way (mainly bass heavy music or intimate chats in the form of podcasts) because of its main mode of consumption – headphones which have tiny speakers and offer a private signal direct to your brain. The design of the headphones affects the media in exactly the same way the design of your house affects your wellbeing.

Think of wellbeing as a piece of amorphous art you need to try and shape with whatever you have at your disposal. Just like the music that is shaped by the arenas, churches or headphones in which it is played. Life is a song. Life is art. I’m sure those are old, cheesy sayings but they suddenly make a lot of sense to me.

Christmas is upon us like a tidal wave now. I have started to crank some soulful Christmas carols and hang some sweet smelling decorations for my family’s wellbeing and communion if nothing else.

Happy Friday chimps.

Research tips and tricks

In this age of Google and unlimited information at our fingertips, there is still great value (perhaps greater than ever) in aggregating, curating and gleaning insight out of information. The internet is a firehose and we need some way of focusing in on something useful. Research reports of interest. Look at the archive of http://www.ben-evans.com as an example of what I love.

With that in mind, and with my brief career as a research analyst as a background, I am searching for hacks, tips and tricks to bend information to my will! I have always appreciated great research but I feel under-skilled to come up with a good piece of research myself. Perhaps it is a matter of brain power and IQ not being up to scratch, But I think it is just as likely a matter of methodology and understanding the process.

So, if any of you have any expert tips on using google to your advantage, or on how to compile a research report then please let me know. I am open to all learning on this topic, even if it seems obvious and basic. I need to know how to approach data, how to approach sources and how to make interesting links of interest. It is something that I wasn’t taught at school….or maybe I just didn’t listen.

Thats what is running through my head.

Happy Monday Chimps.

 

Report cards

Yesterday my two year old got her first report card from pre-school. A glowing description of her progress made me so happy. She has done so well.

The report makes me think about how we measure progress after school. An obvious metric is money made, but that doesn’t seem enough. My daughter’s report paid attention to aspects such as social cohesion, personality and communication skills development and other “softer” measurement than her grades or her salary. Her earning power is pitiful 😉

If my own schooling was any indication, after kindergarten (which measures very interesting markers for progress) we are pushed down a narrow path towards industry and conformance. We probably need to do better.

Some ideas for metrics other than salary and position to measure progress as humans after school:

  • How do we measure our contribution to the culture?
  • How aware are we of our own true nature and personal development?
  • How much do we know about where we come from?
  • How strong is our network?

Happy Thursday chimps.

Research and writing

If you want to write a good book, you need to know something about the subject matter. This sounds silly and obvious, but it’s not. The question to ask is when do I know ENOUGH about the subject?

Enough to teach a 4 year old? Enough to give a speech? Enough to pass the exam?

The search for enough is the most fruitless search and it never ends. Research never ends. We need to be able to handle that truth if we want to be an expert at anything.

Rather focus on the process itself. The contribution to the culture. You need to enjoy the research and creation process, rather than obsess over the result being enough of anything.

Easy to say, hard to do.

Happy Wednesday chimps.

The Weekend Jungle

Weekends turn our house into a jungle. For some reason as a family we fall into chaos – dishes build up in the sink, toys scatter around the house. The garden is no better.

This weekend was particularly bad. At one stage the house and garden resembled the Amazon, and there were two doors that wouldn’t lock, leaving our house vulnerable to…..well to anyone who may have wanted to walk in.

The jungle also compounds. As things get more chaotic, the effort required to bring it back feels greater and greater, and so you just put it off which leads to more jungle creeping in.

But slowly, once the children were asleep, we managed to clean up. I managed to lock up the doors and we escaped the jungle just before bed time. It was a close call though.

Happy Monday chimps.

Smelling in stereo

Although we often think of the word “stereo” relating to music, what it actually means is “relating to a three dimensional effect”. We smell in stereo.

From my great new book:

“Though humans’ nostrils are only about two centimeters apart, this is sufficient for people to detect slight differences in the concentration of a scent cloud, and thus provides information about the scent’s location and source.”

Humans can be trained to track scents like dogs, and when they do, they zig zag across the trail, just like dogs, chasing the higher chemical concentrations to the smell’s source.

It makes me think that Perfume and deodorant are to scent what headphones are to music – giving our brains close proximity to the pleasant sensations….and all of it in stereo.

It blows my mind how much we take our senses for granted. Smell, sound, touch – all of them have a huge impact on our enjoyment, health and peace of mind.

So says my new book, and who am I to argue with that? 😉

Happy Friday chimps.