Julian Treasure is the chair of the Sound Agency, a firm that advises worldwide businesses – offices, retailers, hotels on how to use sound.
Sometimes you talk and get the feeling that noone is listening. Julian starts by listing the ‘7 deadly sins’ of conversation – basically people don’t want to listen if you are doing this
- Gossip (speaking about people who aren’t present, and probably saying nasty things about the listener later)
- Judging (judging the person you are speaking to, and finding them wanting)
- Negativity (negative outlook)
- Complaining (achieves nothing)
- Excuses (passing problems of the world on to everyone else)
- Dogmatism (mixing up facts and opinion)
However there are 4 positive, powerful ways to improve your conversation style – summarised as HAIL.
- Honesty – be true and clear with what you mean
- Authenticity – be yourself, stand in your own truth
- Integrity – do what you say, be trustworthy
- Love – wish people well
You can also look at how you say it – tools in your speech patterns to enhance your speech.
- Register – a deeper voice from the chest speaks with more power and authority.
- Timbre – how the voice feels or sounds – distinct from tone or loudness.
- prosody – the sing-song or up and down of the movement – opposite of montonous. Some problems are an upward inflection at the end of every sentence to make everything a question?
- Pace- a rapid pace, then slowing down for emphasis. Or just pausing occasionally can be very powerful.
- Pitch – a higher pitch can make you sound more excited
- Volume – quiet to make people lean in and pay attention, louder can also show excitement. Don’t broadcast loudly all the time.
Finally he discusses 6 vocal warmup exercises – to get you ready before you need to talk. This includes breathing, making noises with lips, ‘rapberries’, lalala on tongue, practising a rolled ‘r’, and moving through the whole range of pitch.
Yves Morieux is a consultant at BCG, and researches how corporations can adapt to a modern and complex business landscape.
Yves starts with a paradox: why are companies struggling so much with low productivity despite the vast improvements in technology, and increased leadership development programs? Management is based on 2 pillars:
- hard pillars: based on structure, processes, metrics
- soft pillars: feelings, interpersonal relationships, traits, personality
Yves believes these pillars are now obsolete. Businesses are now extremely complex, and to manage an improvement (to reliability, technology, cost) they typically add more hard rules to make things more complicated. For example: if an automotive engineering firm has a separate team for each aspect of a car (20 teams), and there is a new focus on ease of maintenance, the hard solution is to make a new functional team with responsibility for maintenance. Each of these will have a KPI to improve their function, which dilutes focus and makes cooperation between the teams more difficult. This extra burden of competition and cooperation is borne by the individual employees, who have to work harder to make up for the flaws of the structure.
Yves proposes 6 simplification rules for business
- Understand what others do – beyond a superficial title, understand what their role involves.
- Reinforce integrators – give managers the power to make cooperation happen without forcing KPIs and complicated structures on people.
- Increase total quantity of power – empower everyone to use their judgement and intelligence to take good risks
- Extend the shadow of the future – make sure feedback loops expose employees to the consequences of their actions
- Increase reciprocity – remove buffers that force people to be self-sufficient
- Reward those who cooperate – “blame is not for failure, it is for failing to cooperate or ask for help”
When you do this, it stops being about boxes and organisational structures. You have simplified complicated businesses.
The real battle is not against your competitors, it is against yourself, and against bureaucracy.
Speakers: Lawrence Lessig – Lawrence is an academic of law and political activist, a proponent of reduced restrictions on copyright and trademark.
Lawrence talks passionately on behalf of Aaron Swartz, a programmer and software freedom activist who died a year before the talk. The focus of the talk is on the financial influence on politics.
When Intel discovered a problem with the early Pentium chips, that caused a miscalculation 1 in 360 billion times, they spent $475 billion to fix it. However, when politics is currently ‘broken’ in a way that influences every single decision, no one responds. When Aaron Swartz asked Lawrence why he doesn’t respond, he said it wasn’t his field as an academic.
in 1999, at the age of 88, Granny D walked from Los Angeles to Washington DC carrying a sign labelled “Granny D for Campaign Finance Reform”. 18 months later, Granny arrived in Washington, with hundreds of followers. Most people don’t have the time to devote that long to walking 32,000 miles, but Lawrence instead organised a 185mile walk across New Hampshire with 200 passionate people. During his walk Lawrence conducted a poll, and found that 96% of Americans want to remove the influence of money from politics, but 91% believe there is nothing they can do about it. There is a politics of resignation about the issue.
Lawrence wants to keep the hope alive that something can be done.
- He wants to organise a 1,000 person walk in 2015, and 10,000 people in 2016 to influence primaries in 2016. He has designed an open platform to the walks to allow other states to replicate the New Hampshire walk.
- A list is being circulated to inform voters where candidates stand on the issue of finance reform.
- Organising a Super PAC (a political action group, that collects funds to influence politics on an issue) to end all Super PACs. They will coordinate with experts to work out how much money it would take to influence this issue, then arrange a kickstarter-style funding model to make it happen.
Lawrence calls on you to join this movement not because you are a politician, not because you are an expert, not because it is your field, but because you are a citizen.
Speakers: Stephen Hawking – Physicist with University of Cambridge, known for the book “a brief history of time”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking
Until 1920s, people thought universe was static and unchanging. We then discovered that distant galaxies were moving away from us, which suggested originally everything was extremely close before expanding, hinting at a big bang. We have made progress understanding Maxwell’s equation and general relativity to understand how the universe has evolved, but struggled to describe the initial state of the universe. Under certain conditions, general relativity allows time to behave as another dimension, removing the distinction between time and space and allowing the universe to spontaneously create itself from nothing. We can use probability to simulate a number of different initial states which agree with observations. In this way, we have solved the creation of the universe.
Looking at extraterrestrial life, we believe life appeared spontaneously on Earth so it should be able to appear elsewhere. Algae fossils imply that life appeared on Earth within half a billion years of it becoming possible, which is short in the earth’s history. This implies that life can form relatively easily, but on the flipside we have not seen any aliens. From searches such as SETI, we can imply that there are no civilisations of our level of development within a few hundred light years.
Looking at the future, if we are the only intelligent beings in the galaxy we should ensure we survive and continue. But we are in a dangerous phase of history – our consumption of finite resources is increasing exponentially, as is our ability to change the world for good or evil. Our genetic code still carries selfish and aggressive instincts that may steer us astray. It will be difficult to deal with these problems to survive 100 years, not to mention thousands or millions. To ensure our survival beyond a hundred years we must expand into space. Stephen was later asked if he believes we are the only civilisation in the Milky Way at our intelligence level. He responds (after 7 minutes to compose the speech, edited out of the video) that he believes this is true, we would have found them otherwise. The other possibility is that our civilisation is in a late phase, and previous races of our technology level have not lasted long before destroying themselves.
Throughout his life, Hawking has tried to answer these 3 questions. He is grateful his disability has not prevented this, and it has given him more time to answer these questions.
Speaker: Jill Bolte Taylor – a neuroanatomist interested in how the human brain relates to schizophrenia and severe mental illness. She is also an author, having published books on her stroke “My Stroke of Insight” and ranked by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Full Bio at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jill_Bolte_Taylor
Note this talk is an animated story of Jill’s experiences during a stroke – where one hemisphere of her brain was ‘switched off’. This summary cannot do the full talk justice – if it interests you, watch the full video.
Jill Bolte Taylor starts by trying to work out what makes her brain different from her brother’s – who is schizophrenic. She elaborates by bringing a real human brain to the stage – showing it is divided into 2 distinct halves, with minimal connection between the two. Each half functions differently:
- Right Hemisphere is a parallel processor. It focusses on the current moment, using pictures and learns through kinaesthetic movement. It is well connected to senses to build an understanding of what is happening at the moment. It connects us with the world around it.
- Left Hemisphere acts as a serial processor. It thinks linearly and methodically, looking at the past and future. It picks through the details of the current time – arranging and sorting these, and connecting them to the events of the past and future. It thinks in language and words. It looks as us as an individual, isolating us from the world.
Jill had a stroke which disabled the left side of her brain – waking up to a throbbing pain behind her eyes similar to ice cream headache. She used an exercise machine while on a stroke, and focussed on how strange her body looked – as if she was out of her body. She noticed that every movement was slower, laboriously focussing to execute every movement. She couldn’t work out where her body ended and the rest of the world began, thinking about the energy of the world around her. Soon her left hemisphere recovered and started to realise that she was in danger, before dropping out again. During the stroke, she was disconnected from her normal brain chatter – the stress and emotional baggage.
When she realised she was having a stroke, she decided to study her brain from the inside. She tried to read her business card, but her vision as broken to ‘pixels’ – and she couldn’t differentiate it from the background. She was having difficulty picking out objects in vision – couldn’t read the numbers, couldn’t keep track of the numbers she had dialled. When she eventually got the phone working, she couldn’t understand the other end, nor speak clearly herself. Eventually an ambulance was called, and she blacked out.
When she woke, she was alive and the stroke was over. She thought back on the stroke as a moment of Nirvana – where she felt connected to the world, and that her spirit was larger than her body. She started to wish everyone could have that moment where their left brain switched off.
Speaker: Ken Robinson
Ken thinks that creativity is as important in education as Literacy. However, children are being taught how not to be wrong. Ken argues that being creative means that you have to be willing to be wrong, and the education system treats being wrong as the worst thing possible. In doing this, education teaches away children’s natural urge to ‘give it a go’.
All education systems globally have a ‘hierarchy’, with math and language at the top, social sciences in the middle and arts at the bottom. This is because the childhood education system was developed to satisfy the industrial revolution of the 19th century, where math and science was essential for jobs, but times have changed. While once people just needed school for a good job, then a bachelor degree, and now that alone is no guarantee for a job. Degrees have had a form of inflation over time, and this shows it is shifting too quickly. Having children go to school just to attend university is not really equipping them to work any more.
We know 3 things about intelligence
- It is diverse – we think in many ways – visually, in sound, movement, abstract
- it is dynamic – original ideas come about from the interaction of many different ways of seeing things.
- it is distinct – people have their way of doing things – Ken’s example is a ‘problem student’ who couldn’t sit still at school, but when moved to a dance school fit in fine – she needed to move to think. Her dance skills went on to give her immense fame and fortune, bringing value to millions of people. In modern times, she would probably have been given ADHD medication and been put told to calm down.
We need to redefine our education system – our current way is one of ‘strip mining’ our children for the most desired properties, in the same way we mined the Earth for ore. We now need to use our imaginations and creativity wisely, to face an uncertain and problematic future. We may not see this future, but need to equip our children to conquer it.
Speaker: Ray Anderson
In 1973, Ray read from “The Ecology of Commerce” that business and industry is
- the major culprit of the decline of the biosphere, and
- the only institution large and powerful enough to fix the problem.
The environmental impact equation is Impact = Population x Affluence x Technology. Ray’s focus as CEO of a carpet manufacturer was on the ‘Technology” side – his goal was to use technology to improve the environment, turning impact into Impact = Population x Affluence / Technology. Since embracing this goal, his greenhouse gas has dropped by 82%, while sales have risen by 2/3rds and profits doubled. His goal is still zero impact – mission zero, which is even better for business, as an important market differentiator.
His achievements so far have shown the following benefits, and mission zero is going to increase profits considerably by the same action
- Decreased costs: $400million savings and zero waste – this alone has paid for the project, and products have continued to be produced at similar high quality
- Design for sustainability has attracted high quality candidates and galvanised them around the shared goal for zero impact
- Goodwill of the market: the drive for zero waste has given them much more sales than pure marketing.
If Ray’s carpet company- a petroleum intensive manufacturer, can achieve these goals and recognise the benefits, then any business can do the same. His idea is to further extend the Environmental Impact equation, decreasing affluence to be less reflective of pure wealth and more what is necessary to stay happy.