Thursday, 26 November 2015

Help us bring "I was there!" the musical back to Glasgow in 2016

As many of you will know my friend Andy Muir and I have championed the memory of a classic Glasgow music venue for a decade.  
Our website about the Glasgow Apollo has now achieved over 10 million hits and we have published an award winning book with the brilliant Martin Kielty called "Apollomemories", made a DVD with the amazing Talisman Films called "The Final Countdown" and helped stage a musical (twice) called "I Was There".  
This has been an amazing experience for us and we have met and worked with dozens of stars including  Billy Connelly (8 hours in a bar at 35,000 feet!), Alan (Fluff) Freeman, Tom Russell (Radio Clyde), Tom Morton (Radio Scotland), Whitesnake, SLF and Joan Armatrading.  Additionally, we have won awards for services to music, been added to the national web archive for Scotland and inducted into rock and roll hall of fame.  Most importantly, to us, have been the friendships we have made as a result of this work with the likes of the late great photographer Stewart Campbell (on its own an amazing story), Caroline and Bill McFarlan and the one and only Frank Lynch (the man who discovered Billy Connelly and ran the Apollo in its heyday).
The linchpin of the musical has been a lovely fella called Tommy McGory and his charity Loud 'n' Proud.  Right out of the "School of Rock" mould, Tommy's charity aims to introduce kids to the music industry, this is no X-Factor, high gloss, low talent approach, rather Tommy seeks out real talent and promotes young people who can, with his help, actually sing and play their instruments.  We have been blown away by being involved on the edges of this phenomenal charity and the previous productions of "I Was There", attended by thousands (yes thousands) of people, have been some of the proudest moments of our lives.
Over the course of the past few months we have been chatting to Tommy about putting the show on again and a few weeks ago, much to our collective delight, he decided to take the plunge again and to look for funding to bring this amazing musical back once again.
This time around the hope is that we can support the musical via crowd-funding.  In the first instance, we are looking for £25K, the more money we can raise the bigger the show will be and the more we can help make the dreams of Tommy's young people come true.  
Please, please help us...no amount of money is too small, this is an opportunity for you to seriously help young people, from all sorts of backgrounds, to get a step up in a highly competitive industry.  It will also be a great night out (and give us a chance to meet up and have a beer!).  Tommy has also come up with a number of ideas to attract corporate sponsorship and individual support which are explained over at the crowd-funding site.   Personally, I would seriously appreciate any support from my friends, family and clients; let's have a fun night out in Glasgow in 2016 folks!
If you would like to get involved contributions can be made at the Crowd Funder website.  
If you have any questions about what we could do together at the event please get in touch, I promise we will do whatever we can to help.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

"Using digital to drive people offline" - improving levels of happiness

I love this talk from my friend Pete Trainor where he manages to tie together the benefits and disadvantages of our ever-growing reliance on digital technology.

Pete suggests a link between digital misuse and personal happiness and goes on to suggest a therapeutic advantage of designing digital solutions that "drive people offline".

I think this is pretty neat thinking and it sparked off a number of ideas in my mind about how HR might be able to adopt the notion of using digital to drive people offline to the benefit of the individual and organisation.

Can you imagine the line in the HR Strategy...."our intention is to deploy our technology platform to enable us all to spend 80% of our time offline and talking to one another and to our customers".

Whatever next, "people talking to one another"!?....Revolution time!

A lesson from a seasick sailor

In this rarely quoted work by Canadian poet Alden Nowlan we are presented with an antidote for what my mentor calls "eating your own bulls**t" or what the psychologists, less imaginatively, refer to as "confirmation bias".

This is a simple lesson, if you want to see something as it really is ask someone with no idea about the subject to consider it and tell you what they see. (your children are a great place to start as I appreciate only too well!).

In social media I have come across the term "narrowcasting" used to describe this situation - i.e. where you only LinkIn, twitter follow and read material from media outlets etc. that agree with your position on something or who work in the same space (so technologists follow technologists and biologists LinkIn with other biologists).

Nowlan's teaching here suggests that focusing on narrowcast material, whilst being good for your ego (i.e. reading lots of opinions/material that agree with your own), could also mean you are missing important lessons.

The Seasick Sailor and Others
The awkward young sailor who is always seasick
Is the one who will write about ships.
The young man whose soldiery consists in the delivery
Of candy and cigarettes to the front
Is the one who will write about war.
The man who will never learn to drive a car
And keeps going home to his mother
Is the one who will write about the road.

Stranger still, hardly anyone else will write so well
About the sea or war on the road. And then there is the woman
who has scarcely spoken to man except her brother
and who works in a room no larger than a closet,
she will write as well as anyone who has ever lived
about vast open spaces and the desires of the flesh:
and that other woman who will live with her sister and
rarely leaves her village, she will excel
in portraying men and women in society:
and that woman, in some ways the most wonderful of
them all,
who is afraid to go outdoors, who hides when someone
she will write great poems about the universe inside her. 

(The writers he is referring to: Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson)

I first came across this piece in David Whyte's excellent and thoughtful book the Three Marriages, which is well worth a read.

Go forth and grow that network!

Friday, 23 October 2015

On Saying I Don't Know - I Wonder

I was browsing some of my favourite websites late last night from the wonderful Brain Pickings to the straight talking sage Sam Harris and I read so much that my brain was beginning to hurt.  At these moments (which appear to be happening more and more) I have a tendancy to reach for my "best friends" COSMOSLOTR or Herzog, whilst being no less challenging than any of the new material I have been feeding my brain, are so familiar as to relax my late night dendrites.

However, last night I noticed on Sam Harris's page a link to something I hadn't come across before so, as I have a tendency to do often to the detriment of sleep, I took the bait and clicked through. The link took me to a book by Harris's wife Annaka.  I had come across her work before as part of the Project Reason foundation (which, if you haven't come across is devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society and well worth supporting).  The book in question was called "I Wonder".  The description section on Amazon offered glowing reviews including one by Daniel Goleman, of Emotional Intelligence fame and another by one of my favourite minds Steven Pinker who said of it,

"What an enchanting children's book, beautiful to look at, charming to read, and with a theme that wonderers of all ages should appreciate"

Well what a lovely find, a beautiful book with a calming and soothing effect on the weary head.  I wont spoil it for the future reader but it is a lovely story about a child and her mother having one of those "why, why,why?" conversations failure to all parents of young children,

Read it to your children and encourage them to wonder, not forgetting to do so yourself! Ask yourself why it is that we are afraid to say "I don't know" or that we snigger behind cupped hands when someone else does - especially at work - let's collectively get over ourselves.

...and finally some of you may have spotted the coincidence here with the song also called "I Wonder" by American Idol country singer Kellie Pickler.  In this piece Pickler reflects on a childhood without here mother and wondering what could have been.  Whilst being slightly too sentimental to make it a personal favourite, I agree with Billboard's view that it is "heartbreakingly honest and vulnerable" and also worth a listen in the wee small hours.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Not all prisons have bars - Robin Williams reading Rilke

Dostoevsky wrote, 

"Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad."

I believe this to be one of the great truths of life.  We see people every day, sleepwalkers travelling to work, the world around them invisible.

In this clip from the movie Awakenings, Robin Williams (playing the wonderful Oliver Sacks) captures the feeling of imprisonment as depicted in Rilke's brilliant poem "The Panther"

The Panther

His gaze against the sweeping of the bars
has grown so weary, it can hold no more.
To him, there seem to be a thousand bars
and back behind those thousand bars no world.

The soft the supple step and sturdy pace,
that in the smallest of all circles turns,
moves like a dance of strength around a core
in which a mighty will is standing stunned.

Only at times the pupil’s curtain slides
up soundlessly — . An image enters then,
goes through the tensioned stillness of the limbs —
and in the heart ceases to be.

- English translation by Stanley Appelbaum

Add this to the old myth, "oh I'm a different person at home as I am to the one at work" and you will understand why my goal is to help others to find and make a living from their passions.