“Girls with dreams become women with vision.”

IMG_2548This was written on one of my birthday cards last year. I have a lot of dreams, from running my own company, getting a phd and finally writing a book about start-ups. Living in London, I am surrounded by ambitious women with equally bold dreams. However, the devil is in the detail and turning dreams into a vision whilst juggling all the competing demands of work, friends, family and life in general can be tough. Alex Hess, a partner at a private equity firm, philanthropist and mother said at a recent Eyedea event: “The desire to always want do more when there is never enough time is a trap that catches us all.”

What if we could just do more things a little bit better and a little bit faster? New York Times reporter, Charles Duhigg, has attempted to solve this conundrum for us and compiled his lessons into eight neat chapters in his recent book: smarter, faster better. The Secrets of Being Productive. As can be expected from a Pulitzer price winning author, the book is a pleasure to read and provides inspiring tales of Jack Welsh’s turn around of General Electric to how Disney’s Frozen became a hit (and almost didn’t get made), alongside a set of practical recommendations from agile thinking to forecasting the future. I have road tested his tips this year and below is a summary of my personal highlights on how to do more things better.

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A long commute to work and a surgery that temporarily bound me to the couch have had the positive effect that I read several eye and mind-opening books in the past weeks. Three lessons stood out:

  • We live in the most peaceful of times
  • All is not lost in international peacebuilding and
  • Trust your guts when making a decision.

1. We live in the most peaceful times ever

Steven Pinker: The better angels of our nature. A history of violence and humanity.

Pinker - Better Angels of our Nature Image:

Pinker – Better Angels of our Nature Image:

In 1000 odd pages Steven Pinker has managed to answer every single question I ever had about violence and war. Would the world be more peaceful if it is ruled by women? Is the War on Terror justified? Were the dark ages really that dark?

First, Pinker  sets out to convince the reader of his main point: Violence is and has been in steady decline. The rest of the book is dedicated to identify, proof and refute several explanations for why that is. Homo universalis Pinker delves deep into history, politics, sociology, psychology and biology to seek explanations. We learn that through the Flynn-effect humankind becomes gradually more intelligent. The literary revolution and globalisation has brought us closer together and made us more empathetic and thus less inclined to hurt each other.

And more Americans condone violence to reach political goals than Pakistanis. His source base is a joy for every researcher: surveys, quantitative data sets, literature from Kant to Nabokov, secondary studies, archival documents and art.

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Black Men and Masculinity

This is a guest post by poet JJ Bola first published on his Blog This is life. Bola is born in Kinshasa, Congo but raised in London. His poems and musings are thought provoking and examine life from a different side. 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Black men and masculinity. A topic of discussion that does not receive as much attention as it should, nonetheless, it needs to be discussed more frequently if we, as black people, and humanity in general, are to form progressive, balanced relationships with one another.
We live in a predominantly patriarchal world, and in contemporary western society, black men in the diaspora, have had a particular image projected about them. Black men, through literature, the arts, music, media etc, have continuously been shown as brutes, thugs, violent, vandals, etc. However, in cases, where the imagery is a positive representation, as professional, they are still shown as emotionless men, who are ruthless in thought. We have been bombarded with this image, of black men, and guns and gangs, interestingly, to the point where, just google the word “thug” and look at the images you get.  Read More