With the year drawing to a close, are you happy with your last 365 days?
Years go by so fast and you don't want to lose track of everything. Here are some questions to ask yourself now.
Micro Snapshots and Key Insights into TEDx Macquarie Uni, September
Topic: Breaking New Ground
I was very excited to be at the TEDx Conference at Macquarie University on Saturday 27th of September to listen to an array of amazing and inspiring speakers and personalities from a wide range of industries, areas, backgrounds, locations and experiences, each sharing their own insights into how they 'broke new ground.’
Luckily, all of these talks are not lost! You can find them online and I recommend that you view them as everyone can benefit from their content. However, as a snapshot, below is a micro-summary of the main points I took from each presentation.
Professor Bruce Dowton
“What does it take to lead?”
Leadership lies in five key elements: building identity, ethical behaviour, motivating innovation, creating connections and the interpretation of complexity.
We cannot be effective as leaders unless we are true to ourselves and accept who we are first. By understanding ourselves, we are then able to lead and understand others and the environment around us.
Arvin Bayatpour and Cohen Bosworth
“So they told you age is a brick wall.”
These two boys were fifteen years old and had already begun their journey into gadgets via their company Arcod.
Innovation can start at any age. Don’t let societal pressure tell you anything else!
Don’t be afraid and don’t wait. Start now!
“Want to innovate? Become a now-ist.”
Don’t be a “future-ist, be a “now-ist.”
Deploy or die: Getting tangible innovations out into the market is the only true way to measure success.
Educational methods need to keep up with the times. We are all so connected by technology that we don’t need to read and study the entire dictionary before we set out. We can research everything at any time on the internet, so education should focus on adaptation, and not rote learning, simply because that’s the way it was always done.
Compass over maps- know your direction, rather than every street.
“Challenging gender selection.”
Even though we, as a society, assume that we have complete gender equality, it's not really true.
A new trend is emerging, called prenatal gender selection, which is the predetermining of the sex of a baby using science. It is illegal in Australia, but parents can go to countries where it is legal, such as the USA. Whilst it can be valid for specific medical reasons, couples are beginning to adopt this technology and specifically deciding the gender they would prefer. While most do this for an innocent reason, such as “family gender balance”, the repercussions in the future could lead to adding to gender stereotypes that should be phasing out, rather than being strengthened.
When we decide to have a child, it is different to deciding gender. But some parents are starting to demand more selection based on their traditional biases (i.e.: they want a girl because they want a baby who can be dressed up like a princess and get married, or they want a boy because they want a sportsman). By allowing this behaviour, it may be reinforcing gender stereotypes that hinder and bias future societies, as well as distort their views on what is right and wrong.
Leave gender stereotypes behind and let children grow up to be individuals they want to be.
“HIV illness narratives”
Presenting her three-minute thesis, Cheryl was investing homosexual men suffering from HIV/AIDs to piece together the real history on the past and future of the disease.
“I am the son of a terrorist.”
Zak was the son of one of the terrorists involved in the New York World Trade Centre bombings in the 90ies.
Most members of society want the same things out of life, however, in a population, there are always a very small group that adhere so closely to their beliefs that they will do anything in their power to get others to believe what they do, even if by force.
His story goes to show that being raised in that kind of hostile environment can still produce a family that can gain the independence to grow beyond the narrow minded ideas of past generations.
“Designing cities for women.”
Urban planning has shifted from desiring driving accessibility, to favouring closer proximity and walking spaces. In addition, the traditional idea of separating work from home locations no longer meets the societal needs of today.
New apps, like “Walkability Score”, are clear indications of new urbanism trends and illustrate the importance of the ability to walk to desirable locations. The cost of housing closer to central hubs is rising like it never has before, simply because people appreciate proximity over other considerations.
Unfortunately, this means it’s pricing out half of the market, which is a complex issue that requires solving. Individuals, families and couples part of the lower economic bracket have begun to move close to the city, as opposed to the past, where they all centralised further out in the suburbs. This is because all of the jobs are located in central jobs and so, they want their homes now closer to this than ever before.
“The elephant in the classroom.”
Humans love and hate change! This applies quite prominently in work and school settings. Learning and business environments suffer from balancing between rigidity to encourage productivity, and innovative flexibility.
Reforming public education lies in culture and economics. Schooling ‘educates’ children, but does it really teach them to be active contributors of society? Does it prepare them to live in an adult world?
So called ‘gifted students’ are just ones that thrive in the current learning paradigm. No student is unintelligent- they just need a more catered environment.
We need a different model to engage each individual student. The education system needs to adopt a “personalised learning matrix”- where the teacher and the student ‘negotiate’ the best way to meet their individual needs, within a dynamic, engaging space that achieves curriculum objectives.
Mr Speaker and The People Party
The struggle for your dreams is a hard reality. Therefore, we need to change whatever it takes to position yourself to achieve your dreams
Surround yourself with positive people that have the same passion as you, and whatever you do, believe believe believe!
“The secrets of nature’s grossest creatures, channelled into robots.”
Inspired by the cockroach (which can adapt to pretty much every challenge and environment), robotics of the future is adopting Robust Systems, which can perform multiple, challenging tasks, rather than one specific purpose. These robust systems include fault tolerance and damage resistance, so they can be utilised in more complicated scenarios such as search and rescue applications, amongst other functions.
“Creating the most influential you.”
As a magician and entrepreneur, how a magician practises their act is a good lesson for any individual to learn and adopt. It’s something most people never get to see, as it spoils the illusion of the tricks, but the method can be used in improving the way someone prepares and delivers a presentation.
Showmanship lies in three principles: Sight, sound, sync.
Sight: what the audience sees.
Sound: what the presenter says and how they say it.
Sync: How the first two work together.
When you are inconsistent (out of sync), people don’t trust you and you come across as insincere and not genuine. Therefore, actions, confidence and words all need to be in balance.
A way to improve your showmanship lies in the following method:
Video record yourself, then leave it for a day (to avoid critical bias). After a day, turn it on and mute the sound, watching only for visuals. Check your posture and take notes.
Watch it again, however turn your back and just listen to the audio. Do the words offer value? Is the message clear?
Watch the video for a third time with both sound and sight. Are both your actions and your voice now consistent?
The stage is a sacred place, as it's where a performer goes to influence and inspire. Always give it your best and treat that privilege with respect.
Dr Joanna McMillan
“Eat for a real change.”
One pill that provides absolutely everything we need to survive in a healthy way is not what we want. Food is much, much more than just about nutrients and essentials: food is culture and interaction.
She worries that nutritional science is ruining the cultural side of food, as we are now over analysing every bit of information, and, as a public, we are completely confused with this information’s interpretation. In addition, western cultures are suffering from obesity, diabetes and other food related conditions. Diet choice is a large contributing factor of all of those negative conditions. The way we eat is so engrained that bad habits are hard to shake.
70% of Australian people are confused as to what healthy eating actually means because the media skews all knowledge, and research can be greatly misinterpreted. E.g.: “low fat” doesn't mean healthy. It gave rise to a misinterpretation and it’s heavily impacting our society.
The real key to healthy eating is large amounts of plant food and stay away from the processed products.
“From unknown to expert.”
Presenting your ideas to an audience and being in the spotlight is a very challenging thing to undertake for most people. However, Catriona says it’s time to redefine the spotlight; it’s a responsibility and a privilege to present, and not only for the loudest and boldest.
Freedom comes with saying “yes”. No one should feel like their story is not as worthy as others, and so it is up to people that usually shy away to turn the tides and say yes to spotlight opportunities.
It’s deeper than just general excuses- it’s a personal issue. Everyone should have the confidence to present their ideas and find the strength deep down. You deserve to be in the spotlight, if what you have to say will help others.
The spotlight isn’t about the speaker, but the audience and what insights you can provide for them. You must give yourself permission to speak; only then can you unleash your potential.
Connect with your ‘why’: think about your higher and deeper purpose for the audience.
Be of service: gain confidence by knowing that listeners will help them.
Be yourself: it’s not about changing yourself, but being genuine and brave enough to be vulnerable.
Believe in your own stories: stop competing. Everyone has their own road and you can never compare your own situation to others.
Be open to yes: who are you not to shine your own light?
“Redefining the ordinary to the extraordinary.”
Everyone is extraordinary because everyone has their own unique story. To most people, someone might be ‘ordinary’, but for someone else, that person may mean the world. Next time you feel ordinary, remember that you were born extraordinary, you still are, and always will be.
Dr Steven Lin
“The power of smile.”
We often underestimate the power of a smile.
Good oral health is such an important, and such a neglected area of healthcare. Unfortunately, however, we are not educated enough as a public to see the true value of dental care, which means that the government is not motivated to make a change for the benefit of us all. This increases the negative and flippant culture toward dental health, and it becomes a vicious cycle.
The key to a better future dental industry can be promoted using newer technology via social media. These avenues create awareness and education with the public which, together all start to make noise and therefore create a change.
Changing from reactive dental treatment to preventative methods is necessary in the future, and it’s up to the public to start the ball rolling.
Susan Redden Makatoa
“Stop pandering to working mothers.”
We could and we should extend flexibility to everyone in the workplace, not just females.
'Workplaces with heart' is a reformation of the standard business model, and is all about inclusion and equity. Giving choices to how people work and offering them more choice, such as allowing different start times and end times, could end up putting less stress on the transport problem and reduce pollution, as well as increase employee satisfaction.
There are three elements to this kind of working paradigm:
Assumptions- assume that employers want success and satisfaction, and employees want to do well for the business. Both sides need to be working together positively, first and foremost.
Acknowledgements- the essential operations for the business in generating profitability effectively are still the core of a business. Feedback and measurements will still exist, no matter what.
Arsenal- Negotiation skills and willingness to accept flexibility.
People are the key asset to any business; they’re important. Workplaces that are equitable and inclusive remove negative stigmas and add satisfaction because empathetic choice was provided to all employees.
“Let architecture in: Amazing things can happen if you do.”
The spaces we inhabit affect us all in so many ways. Iconic architecture, such as the Syndey Harbour Bridge, are uniting beacons of culture and add to the overall environment around you.
Embracing the impact your surrounding environment has upon you and everyone around you will increase your self-awareness. Being aware of it allows you to adapt to it, and you can make it adapt to you, too in order to achieve the optimal outcome. It can lie in something as grand as a city monument, or something in your own home.
“Touching tech- wearable technology.”
Technology can be quite distracting in today’s society. Whilst it is an advantage, sometimes businesses need to get back to the real world to create innovation.
Where we want to be next is taking over where we are now. We are all experiencing life through screens rather than life itself and our own senses. Technology needs to adapt to this, rather than add to the problem.
To show this, Ben and his team have developed wearable, fashionable technology, an industry advancing so fast that everything has to be developed straight off with little planning (sometimes spanning only 3 weeks!). such technology connects to your phone to your clothing for use in such applications as GPS. However, technology isn't always just about utility: fashion and technology have to meet correctly. For example, Google Glass is amazing technology but a fashion disaster.
The explosion of this type of technology starts with realigning with the real world again. Empathy for our environment is the key.
“Unmask your potential.”
Unmask your true potential. Stop locking yourself away. Don’t be trapped by your assumed “limitations.”
All of us are dying slowly and time isn’t infinite- we need to be more realistic with ourselves. Only then can we access our true potential.
“What are we doing?”
Take the fond memories of loved ones that have passed, and put one of their favourable traits into practise. Learning a favourable trait from someone is the ultimate honour to them and will help make you a better person.
As an active, social participant of many facets of popular culture, spanning from literature, to film, radio, social media and music, I have been noticing a definite trend as of late; a surprising one that is becoming more prominent. I put this out there as I wonder if others are seeing the same thing as I am.
I have noticed that celebrities and new expressions of mainstream popular culture are sliding toward focusing on stars and celebrities that reflect “the average person”, rather than the flashy unreach-ables that they used to be. I appreciate that this is a long standing trend within the alternative, indie culture, but it’s a fairly new concept for mainstream media; what were once a collection of celebrity gods who provided an aspirational aura of envy and awe to the masses, are now starting to become more like the rest of us.
In film, young stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley are fresh faces, continually praised for their ‘down-to-earth’ attitude to celebrity. They trip up stairs when accepting awards and give the impression that they are simple, happy-go-lucky people on and off the screen. In addition, the widely popular movies they star in, such as The Hunger Games and A Fault In Our Stars, are stories based on books about the average person overcoming obstacles they are faced with inside a non-magical, humanistic society; i.e.: the leading character could be any of us, struggling with simple mortality. The edgy bad cops and flawless superheroes are out, and the average, flawed achievers are in.
In music, newer, successful artists have shifted from the flashy Lady Gagas and Beyoncés, who were very relevant a few years ago, to far more conservative, genuine artists such as Ed Sheeran and Adele, who have cut their teeth tirelessly making their way to the top, singing songs they’ve written about university and the pain of lost loves. The Havana Brown image with her skimpy dress and porcelain doll look, having ink poured all over her, singing the same repetitive songs as everything else out there is out, and the curvy, soul singer or the guitar slinging, redhead boy next door is in.
Even the push with new reality TV shows, such as The Block and My Kitchen Rules, sport a full cast of average-Joes, each with their own laundry list of flaws, entertaining us through being ‘one of us’, rather than the traditional, beautiful, out-of-reach celebrity. Whilst reality TV is nothing new, having civilians like us perform tasks of normalcy, such as renovation or cooking, gives the audience an easy way to completely relate to the real people we see on our screens; they’re not just sitting in a house like traditional reality TV, they’re performing DYI jobs and cooking just like we all do almost everyday. The make-up polished superstar bathed in lights is out, and the batter mixing house wives and bickering creative couples are in.
This is an interesting trend, as ‘celebrity’ has always been defined as a person with a status symbol, so distant from the average person (with all due respect), so far as to say that their talent, wealth and connections are what most of us dream about. When you go to a music concert, you pay to see this amazing rock star on stage, waltzing around amongst all the glitz and glamour, then leaving in their private, black windowed car to escort them back to their penthouse suite within the best hotel in the city, alongside a complete entourage. Those celebrities go out and buy an island, or ten Ferraris. Now, we have singers like Guy Sebastian who, upon obtaining his first royalties cheque, buys a boat to go fishing with his family, or J. K. Rowling who discovered success on the brink of poverty and gives significant amounts to charity.
One of my life long goals is to learn languages, however with the hustle-bustle of everyday, how can find the time to dedicate hours studying a language?
Well, modern technology has solved this problem with smart phones, tablets and amazing apps.
I found this completely free app called Duolingo, which is completely ad free and simply amazing!
This app claims that it's scientifically proven for someone to learn a language to a solid level over just a couple of months, by dedicating half an hour each day! Easy, if you're like me, stuck on the bus each morning and afternoon to and from work.
Duolingo lessons are short and straight forward, with assistance at every step of the way. It's clean and clear and simply a joy to use.
It also offers a multitude of different languages which can be accessed by everyone from beginners, to people that wish to brush up their language skills.
Learning a new language does wonders for the brain- it's like intensive brain training every morning, and can break up the monotony of your work-day's activities.
I look forward to passing each lesson every day and the app allows you to track your progress, which is very encouraging. The app also allows you to add your friends so you can all motivate each other and share your progress.
The lessons range from voice recognition and pronunciation, to visual cues, word matching and so on. It's so simple and easy, and you progress through stages that build upon previous lessons. I quite liked the fact that it reminds you to go back and brush up on earlier lessons to ensure that you don't forget the basics. Very clever.
Upon completion of each module, you earn points, called "lingots" that you can spend to unlock bonus content, such as 'sayings', 'idioms' and 'learning how to flirt'! These were a nice perk and an interesting addition.
Additionally, you can create a universal log-in, which stores your progress, regardless of whether you're using multiple platforms: so, if I use my phone on the bus and then wish to continue on my iPad at home, it keeps my progress so I don't have to repeat anything.
Obviously, I cannot rave about this app enough! It's a very thorough system, with an enjoyable interface and no bugs or errors (that I could see). I'm very impressed and I hope that many more will join me on this app!
Just on their website here: https://www.duolingo.com/ or find their app in the iTunes App Store, or Android's Play Store today and enjoy the benefits!
Grazie mille! :)
Being a professional writer (of both fiction and non-fiction) and editor of all kinds of work, there seems to be a repeating theme amongst an alarming number of fellow editors and writing reviewers: this need to become overly emotional with their editing and feedback.
The sheer amount of edits I get back from beta-readers looking at my upcoming novels with comments that are inches away from aggressive abuse startles me! I actually laugh out loud at how emotional some of these editors can be and, truth be told, it can actually lead me to distrust and undervalue them as you begin to question their thought patterns and motivation behind their processes.
Now, I'm NOT saying that I don't have a thick skin or anything as petty as that; this is NOT a whinge blog post. In fact, the deeper and more thorough the reviewer and editor is, the better in my opinion! However, there is no need to get aggressive or emotional with your edits, notes and comments.
As an editor: keep your comments professional. It's very important that if you are dedicated to your craft and are serious about repeat work, and wish to encourage positive word-of-mouth about your services, you ideally want the original author to continue to trust your opinion. There is no need to capitalise your comments (e.g.: "DO NOT USE THIS WORD HERE!!"), use excessive punctuation (e.g.: "Why would any character ask this?!?!?!?!?!?), or use snide comments (e.g.: "Surely you know this is wrong?!").
Editing work is already a sensitive process, as people are very defensive with their work, so I believe it best not to poke the wound by adding unnecessarily bitter comments.
I prefer to keep my editor comments light and informative, without emotion. Professionalism is the key as you want the author to read your ideas and comments, and think to themselves 'Yes, I see why you would think this.'
Additionally, give them the option to agree or disagree with you. After all, it is their work and most elements of writing are very subjective; ie: your opinion may not always be correct.
When editing, I try and keep suggestions light, as one of the main rules to editing (especially with fiction) is not to rewrite it for the author; instead, explain why something did not work, or give them your opinion from the perspective of a reader, not a writer.
Remember, as an editor, you're there to help, not patronise!
All the best in your writing endeavours!
Social media makes the ordinary person feel like a celebrity. That comes with its ups... and equally its horrible downs.
Australia, as a nation, went to the polls on Saturday the 7th of September for the National Election for the Federal Government.
The major parties involved in this were the Liberal and Labor Parties of Australia, with other minor parties involved too- hey, it's a democrasy.
The results at the end of the day were pretty much a landslide victory for the Liberal Party, more than likely caused by the bitter aftertaste of the highly publicised and constant leadership contesting debarkle that has plagued Australian politics over the last six years.
That aside, my point is this: even though The Liberals claimed such a victory, headed by now Prime Minister Tony Abbott, how is it that there has been such a critical backlash splattered all over social media? Upon the announcement, thousands took to Twitter, Facebook and other outlets to voice their negative oppinion over the outcome.
I asked myself the obvious question: "How come there's so much hate and negativity from pretty much every social media circle I'm involved with, and yet they won regardless?"
It just seemed strange that a party could win with such a lead, and yet everywhere I turned, people were disgraced and dissapointed by the loss. I guess that it is true when they say people will be more willing to share their negativity and unhappiness at something, than their positivity, but I think it's more that this.
Then, I saw a post asking this similar question on facebook: "So... was anyone ACTUALLY backing the Libs?". The responses involved "crickets chrip", "Tumbleweed rolls down deserted streets", "Everyone is wondering the same thing", but the actual responses that narrowed in on the real truth was by one response that said:
"Australia has an ageing population and that older population is religious, homophobic and scared of technology. They obviously don't use social media but there are a lot of them to vote for someone whose outdated ideals match their own."
This is perfectly summed up by that one comment!
I undertook a survey by the ABC here in Australia, called Vote Compass. In this survey, they asked a series of pressing questions to which you answer truthfully and it compares/matches your ideals and position on certain topics with the compatibility to the policies of each party. I found that my position on the graph was cloesest to Labor and furthest from Liberal (much to my father's horror!!). I am of Generation Y (27 years old) and technology, the environment as well as other specific issues are on my list of priorities- ones that didn't align at all with the Liberal Party's views.
When I asked a few friends of the same age as me to undertake this survey, I found the same thing: they all put the most value on the same issues I did, and therefore received a similar outcome- that Labor was the best choice based on their responses.
In regards to something that effects the entire Australian population that is the Federal Election, nothing shows Generation Gaps than this example right here.
This is my book review on the recent release: "My James: The Heart-rending Story of James Bulger by His Father"
A tough, but very rewarding read
This book is an emotionally charged and very heart wrenching read, yet extremely captivating and definitely recommended.
I purchased this book when flying from Sydney to Perth, Australia, and I read the book from cover to cover during the five hour flight. I was so absorbed and thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
You feel sadness, tears, joy, anger and empathy as you journey with James' father, Ralph, through a very tough twenty years. The book is written well and is a very easy read- you can almost reach out and feel what Ralph is going through at every step of the journey.
Quite possibly my favourite book of 2013 and I would highly recommend this to anyone.
Rest in Peace James, you beautiful boy. Thank you Ralph for sharing your journey and raising awareness about this difficult experience.
Click here for the link to my Amazon review: http://www.amazon.com/review/R35VW0FRJDFB4R
Click here for a link to the book itself: http://www.amazon.com/My-James-Heartrending-Bulger-Father/dp/0283071680/ref=cm_rdp_product
What are we watching on TV these days? Have we stopped to think?
I heard a radio interview this morning with a lady named Abby Lee from the reality TV show Dance Moms. They began with a little introduction which featured an audio clip of the show with Abby screaming at the young dancers and their mothers- and I'm talking REALLY screaming. It was something along the lines of telling the child to leave her dance studio because she couldn't remember a step, and then yelling at the mother as she defended her daughter.
Don't get the wrong impression- I am far from a stick in the mud and I don't like ranting about things that I am sure others get entertainment out of, but I am an observational person, and I was just personally starting to witness a trend in TV content that I wanted to point out.
It is no secret that reality TV remains on the rise, and while this may be tapering out a little from its birth several years ago, it is now still a prominent segment in all television channels' repertoires. However, it seems to me that the original reality TV shows in previous years are starting to not be enough to slake the thirst of reality TV show consumers anymore. Shows like Dance Moms, where the central theme is based on extremely controversial areas and the conflict that naturally ensues is now becoming the new norm.
While I am sure no one in TV land admits it, the reality TV shows that are successful now are the ones that follow ridiculously amped amounts of conflict. Take the highly popular Keeping Up With The Kardashians show for example- the show thrives when newer episodes contain family feuds, marriage break ups, sibling rivalry and awkward conversations. Even the talent shows, like The Voice, have moved from the focus on the actual talent, toward more of the failures, the sob stories, the misfits and the questionable performances at the original auditions phase of the show. Those segments always attract high numbers of watchers and social media buzz, with audience members all too eager to observe the humiliation these hopefuls put themselves through for fifteen minutes of fame.
What do we have now on TV?
It is almost like "normal" reality TV shows (and I say normal with HUGE quotation marks) are not enough anymore, with all channels running around in hysterics for ratings. If they want large audience numbers, they have to up the reality television ante by plying contestants with copious amounts of alcohol to get them to lower their inhibitions and pitting them against each other. Then, it's left to the magic of the editors to make the scene look even worse that it is, and combine that with pushy Producers, and we have a recipe for an enthralling catastrophe.
For example, there is a new show just released in America called Killer Karaoke, which takes the reality talent show category to an all new height (sometimes literally): the young hopefuls are given the opportunity to sing to prove their talent, while facing their worst fear. One girl recently had to sing whilst being dipped into a pit of snakes, and was told that if she really wanted to 'make it', the show must go on regardless of the serpent interruptions.
So, again, I pose my question: Are we becoming increasingly addicted to reality TV conflict? Are we so desensitised now by "normal" TV, that we crave shows where there are guaranteed plummeting pitfalls, fiery friction and aggressive arguments?
As a writer, I am sad to see less and less emphasis on script writing, with this surge of unscripted TV, but if these are the shows getting the ratings now, TV channels have no choice but to find more and more ways to put people in extremely awkward positions to satisfy their audience's taste for blood.
Is it our fault as an audience, or is it the networks, or is it a self-perpetuating cycle, snowballing out of control? What do you think?