30 June 2004


From Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

What is a "polymath"?
Dictionary.com : A person of great or varied learning; one acquainted with various subjects of study

Polymath is from Greek polymathes, having learned much, from poly-, much + manthanein, to learn.

You could also call it a comprehensivist. Waldzell : A polymath, as defined here, is a person with the knowledge and expertise of a specialist in several, usually non-overlapping, domains of knowledge or expertise. A comprehensive polymath, or comprehensivist, is a polymath with the ability to synthesize knowledge and expertise from any combination of domains.

Some definitions describe it as some kind of genius, but that is not necessarily the point, even if the most famous polymaths probably have extraordinary genius. Think Leonardo da Vinci. But the point is probably rather a wide range of interest and general knowledge, and a certain urge to tinker with different things. Polymath Society : The dictionary definition of a polymath is a very learned person, of encyclopedic knowledge. There is also the connotation of having an understanding deeper than that found in an encyclopedia, that is, an expert in many fields.

Anyone can be a polymath as long as he or she has the right motivation. A polymath is not necessarily a brain. In fact, a polymath usually does not think of his or herself as being particularly smart, only curious. Curiosity and interest are the true motivation for work, both intellectual work and the nitty gritty of hands on inventing. Thomas Edison said that genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. He had a passion for getting his hands dirty, for tinkering, for inventing through trial and error. The polymath makes lots of mistakes. This is how new sciences are created.

I haven't really used the word polymath much, but I've often said that I'm a comprehensivist. As mentioned, one sign might be one is skilled in several apparently unrelated areas. Which might seem puzzling to others, but which usually fits together as facets of a bigger picture, even if it might be invisible to anybody else but that person.

Of course, calling oneself a polymath or comprehensivist can also be a cover for scattering oneself over many subjects without really getting anywhere with any of them. A euphemism for Attention Deficit Disorder. Well, I'm gonna leave that alone.

The part I identify with is not particularly being a very learned person. I personally don't really have much to show for any extensive learning, certainly not in any academic field. Maybe rather the part about being able to synthesize knowledge and expertise from any combination of domains. Or the ability to span domains, and connect up different fields. People who only are specialists in one field might not notice the potentially valuable connections that field has with other very different fields. Somebody who has learned both fields might. But it is not necessarily needed to be thoroughly trained in both fields. It might simply be that one is tuned into looking for connections and synergies.

And it might be that one is looking for something with doesn't quite fit in any category, any specialized field. Something that is found in a lot of fields, but which also is a little beyond all of them. For example, a certain connection between all things. The patterns that the whole is moving in. Maybe a certain aestetic. A certain sense of something that needs to be expressed.

A few more recent writings on polymaths: Suw Charman wrote about A polymath in an age of specialists. Julian Elve about the Unpredictable Emergence of Learning. Mentions by Seb Paquet , Jim McGee. Julian adds up some key points:
-- Generalist / Polymath learning exists, contributes knowledge and helps the horizontal distribution of knowledge;

-- The public, linked, asynchronous nature of blogs and related technologies both exposes conversations to a wider pool of people and helps the ideas start to flow before any face-to-face meeting;

-- The benefits of any specific piece of knowledge are not always forseeable until the right combination of circumstances and other people arises � in other words unpredictable emergent behaviour.

OK, so we need people who go around combining things, poking into different fields, trying to connect things up. Agents of Emergence, I suppose. Looking for synergies, looking for things that might be possible. Or maybe just fluttering about and cross-polinating things by accident.

And, yes, clearly blogging in a useful tool for all of this.

by Flemming Funch

29 June 2004

Anatomy of a Vision

We all find ourselves in discussions about defining strategy and where the business will be in 10 years. Perhaps, it is more important to think about what sits behind strategy. Vision. Vision is key to having purpose and building that path toward what brings us our true rewards.

When we go about living our lives � or even exploring how we want to do that � we look for inspiration. Great word, Inspire. It comes out of the Latin word Inspirare � to breathe. Think about this - to breathe life into something.

You have an opportunity right now to breathe life into how you think about your future. To revitalize it.

Look at this amazing convergence of multi-cultures in our business worlds�..
� Electronic technology with human behavior.
� Educational with corporate.
� Male with female.
� Dutch, Anglo, Asian, African and Latin backgrounds as well as people from so many other different countries with diverse and unique areas of contribution.
� Different disciplines and a variety of different cultural behaviors and definitions.

You can take this opportunity to explore what your collective intentions could mean to expanding your vision of the future together.

What is �vision�? Why is so important to have a vision on the future? For one thing, you should begin a new and fresh working and learning relationship with one another, rich with unspoken expectation. The old regime has departed and a new regime of personal learning is beginning. Each of you has inner intention that drives you in your individual purpose. What happens when you share that � or use it to frame a collective vision on the future?

Vision gives purpose to your journey into the future � and helps you to inspire others to join you in this journey.

Vision contains a collective of concepts�..
� The ability to see
� A creative purpose that can pull life forward
� A view on something potent that still lies ahead
� Something instilled with imagination and an understanding of core satisfaction
� An idea rich with meaning for life
� A powerful awareness that combines realism with foresight
� A concept that inspires us into building a motivating future

Creating a vision of a shared future binds us together with something powerful �
... a belief about a way of being and working
... that you can conceive and share with others
... and use as energy to create a future rich with value on all levels

Vision requires us to be brave, to believe, to give, to collaborate, to see value not only in the expected places, but also in the shadows. This is your chance to define and create what you have always hoped your life would become.

�Spiritus Mundi� is the life force that powers everything in the world. Create a vision on �Spiritus Mundi� as an amazing convergence of multi-cultures with a common cause - exchange in the purest sense.

Get in touch with that secret space unique to you as individuals, as country cultures, as business cultures, as a learning culture, and use this access to create value for each and everyone of you, the business of learning, and your customers and partners.

Don�t just do this as an act for today. Use today as the beginning, to inspire all of us to join forces and create a vision on what we believe we stand for, have to offer, and want to create � not just for ourselves, but for others, and for the future. Search for what creates meaning and value.

This is as much about your vision on community and communication as it is about your vision on sharing knowledge.

Inspire yourself and others in the business or organizational culture that surrounds you to go beyond just working on tasks and head into creating a New World of sharing knowledge and creating the communication processes and interfaces for that, on both a personal and knowledge-building level.

27 June 2004

Meaningful Communication

What is the path to creating meaningful communication?

What do we have to address and define?

What are the consequences of not creating meaning communication?
- No experience created � no retention
- Passing moment � attention not held, mind and heart not captured

What is the added value to meaningful communication?

Meaningful communication should MESH THE DYNAMICS with the STRUCTURES OF MEANING
- Sliding scales like a tuner or a dial
- Momentum
- Visual + word balance + mixture
- Sound balance + mixture

What are the sources of difference that will transport the content with such resonance that it now has great meaning for those it engages? What gives form to meaning?

Expertise ensures smooth execution of memorable and meaningful communication. Communication goes beyond a beautiful message with technical sophistication. Communication creates a resonance between meaning, motivation and the mass market. It develops your corporate culture, company motivation, gives purpose or inspiration to your message and disseminates information.

We recognize that all communication is a journey in the world of ideas. It is a quest for understanding from one mind to a shared mindset - planned and thought through until it becomes a reality in the form of verbal or visual or multi-sense communication.


26 June 2004

Soulful Liberation

From the very first moment that something touches my mind and my heart, I struggle with the tension of emotional flux. Eventually, this stabilizes and finds some quantum structure in my life. It starts me on another inner journey, a period where faith is reaffirmed through feeling. Feelings have a chance to escape unchained, no fear for impact, or where they might land, since they are logistically intertwined in a dance with my thoughts and the rhythm of my life right now. I plant seeds for future expansion and prepare for another time when I can dance between sensuality and logic, discovering my own unique amalgamation of pleasure in the soulful realms between physical and intellectual.

I seem to have passed the hump of a major life decision, and it wasn't all that big of a deal. (Isn�t hindsight great?) With this sense of reverse reflection, I am leisurely inspecting the consequences. I look back and assess what I have accomplished in opening myself up to new ways � ways more akin and natural to my own content and being.

Satisfaction spreads out to fill all levels of life. I feel ready for a big change even though I don't precisely know what it will be. Life has reaffirmed my choices and rewarded me with such inspiration. My choice to stop the routine of life created so many years ago relieved me of its ball and chain. That choice gave me a set of intellectual and creative wings that lifted me up and liberated me. I feel too expansive now to be contained again in a life that required only a prescriptive contribution.

Restlessness turns to excitement now that I�ve found a cause that really matters. That cause is simply to let life discover its evolutionary rhythm.

My sudden clarity of vision gives me an element of surprise and others respond once they see the look in my eyes. Subtle signals turn into towering, floodlit billboards. I�ve put my feelings out into the world where I can let everyone marvel at my love for life. I am positively glowing and beaming my happiness and peace for all to share. All I can do is marvel and rejoice at what I simply cannot explain. The empire of the senses has its own universally understood language � even the most abstract issues seem personal. Inspiration leaps out from the strangest places.

This dance between emotion and intellect and soulful awakening requires more careful footwork, at least in the public arena. Emotions lie so close to the surface now. Obviously, my inner self is visible on the surface for all to see. I�ve found my rhythm � got my groove � and this awakened soulfulness sets my mind dancing to the tune of explorations of my heart. Life is fun again.

My mind is very active now, and I can think quickly and talk quickly. However, while new ideas and passionate words are available, I try hard to balance them with a bit of cool objectivity. Sometimes, I think I�m oozing much more emotion than usual, and it�s drawing too much attention. I can feel somewhat vulnerable now and may not have the resources to defend myself on the logical terrain where I normally excel. The positive side of this awakening may be that my actions can be strongly guided by this newfound harmony of heartfelt emotion, dreams, and intuition with good old clearheaded thinking.

Growing older can be a wonderful discovery of our inner selves.

25 June 2004

The Meaning of Freedom

What does it mean to be free?

As you awaken from the illusion of isolation that the separate ego creates, the whole meaning of freedom begins to turn on its head. Freedom, for the ego, means I can do anything I want, whenever I want to. But for the part of you that is not ego, for the authentic self, freedom means I can do only one thing.

To the ego that sounds like a death sentence, but to the authentic self it is profoundly liberating, because that one thing is wholehearted participation in the evolutionary process. And the authentic self experiences pure ecstasy the more it is liberated to be able to participate in the evolutionary process.

That is the ultimate experience of creative freedom. But it's not the kind of freedom most people are interested in or can even conceive of, because it is not freedom of or for the individual. It's the ultimate freedom of the universe creating itself at higher and higher levels.

Andrew Cohen
From a retreat in Netherlands, May 2004

Moment by moment

Each moment weaves playful devices seamlessly into new beginnings and feels like everything needed is lining up and waiting for us. Tense and full of excitement, I crouch down ready to spring out as I wait for the unexpected. There is this simple, creeping desire to create everything moment by moment, like every stroke on the canvas when painting...curious to discover how it builds, seduced by pure creative release, and ever so intense in focus.

24 June 2004

Procrustean Branding

Procrustes was the villain in Greek mythology who forced travellers to fit into his bed by stretching their bodies or cutting off their legs. The term "Procrustean" is now used to characterize someone who has ruthless disregard for individual differences.

"Procrustean" can refer to practitioners who impose their ideological agendas on clients and clients' houses, often without taking history, common sense, or authentic brand advice into consideration. When you look for a branding practitioner, you need to be able to identify those who have been poorly trained, practice quackery, or who use untested methods -- including practitioners who are trying to fit your biz into their Procrustean branding bed. I always wonder why these people are so upset about being scrutinized and why they're angry about having their methods explored and critiqued. Aren't they interested in seeing how well their belief system holds up against my questioning and references? If I challenge their belief system or just ask embarrassing questions, they act like I have personally assaulted them.

Carl Sagan said that if we've been bamboozled long enough we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle because it has captured us: "It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken," he wrote in The Demon-Haunted World. So we'll believe even more outrageous bamboozles rather than admit we've been had!

People make outlandish promises that are just part of their marketing campaign. Even the most credible practitioners will "go down the tubes" with the quacks if they fail to exert appreciable lasting effects on people's lives. As of this writing, the body of scientific research that supports claims made by Branding directly applies to psychology, and in areas where science has yet to tread, the vapid anecdotal "testimonies" used as advertising fodder by practitioners still can't stand up to the volumes of methodical case studies produced by traditional practitioners. Clients should consider the educational background of the practitioner, their references, and all the usual stuff you check on when you're about to spend some serious money. There is nothing wrong with applied creativity, as long as the practitioner is qualified in his applications and can produce results - even unexpected ones.

Many people enjoy the creative and experimental approach to branding. Many employ the scientific principles of keen observation, careful methodology, patience, and a healthy dose of scepticism. Creative and experimental processes are best for the untutored novice. Every adept has a store of horrifying anecdotes involving damage control -- that is, being called in to clean up after a self-styled "master" misapplied change management to a business or organization. This happens when the practioner is uneducated or inexperienced in the real world of business and all the implications of it.

Think of it this way. Nobody in their right mind would think of performing major surgery on a family member without benefit of medical schooling or practice. Similarly, no sane person would consult a physician who uses medical diagnostic equipment with one hand and holds a medical textbook in the other.

The Consciousness of Brands is a bit like unlocking of the mysteries of the universe, and is very powerful. The people who play at �the science of branding� are messing with something they should deeply respect. Generally, the reason that people reject something - that doesn't readily appear to fit into the Western ideological straitjacket - is that they don't know anything about it. It is not part of normal, everyday life, and is therefore suspect. Such reactions are part of the age-old human fear of the unknown, mixed up with a bit of equally ancient xenophobia and ethnocentrism.

R.D. Laing - in The Politics of Experience - explains that the acceptance of "normal" as the only possible experience demands a lot of us, including alienation and forms of insanity. Laing concludes "what we call 'normal' is a product of repression, denial, splitting, projection, interjection, and other forms of destructive action or experience. It is radically estranged from the structure of living." Psychiatrist Judith Linzer explains that "we pretend and others keep up the pretense with us. This pretense is called 'social reality." Professor Julian Jaynes puts it this way: "A theory is . . . a metaphor between a model and data."

Vine Deloria, a Native American activist, reminds us that human knowledge boils down to three sets of experiences. Some things are true because a person has experienced them. Some things are true because everyone seems to agree that they are true ("social reality"). Then again, some things are insoluble and cannot be solved by any stretch of the imagination.

The "This Stuff is Bogus!" mindset - or Bogus Syndrome for short - is a belief system much like any other: you have faith in the fact that something -- in this case, the Conscious Brand -- doesn't exist or is not valid. That faith, as R.D. Laing defines it, is the "scientifically indefensible belief in an untested hypothesis." It is rejection based not on knowledge but on a kind of phobic avoidance. People who think of themselves as "modern," "rational," "scientific" or whatever are most likely to fall into this intellectual trap. C.J. Jung, writing in Modern Man in Search of a Soul, claims that people with this mindset are really "pseudo-moderns," who he characterizes as "a great horde of worthless people who give themselves the air of being modern by overleaping the various stages of development and the tasks of life they represent."

Unless he is proficient, the man who claims to be modern is nothing but an unscrupulous gambler. He must be proficient in the highest degree, for unless he can atone by creative ability for his break with tradition, he is merely disloyal to the past. It is sheer juggling to look upon a denial of the past as the same thing as consciousness of the present. Many people with the Bogus Syndrome suffer from what Peter Berger calls "nihilation" in The Heretical Imperative. Nihilation is what occurs when one cognitive system "develops ways of interpreting the truth claims of a rival cognitive system as being null and void [bogus], thus neutralizing the implicit threat to its own truth claims." The Bogus Syndrome is fearful insecurity, not confident knowledge. Or, as Dr. Linzer puts it, "A true believer has examined the particular belief system in question before rejecting it."

Margaret Caudill, M.D., Ph.D., a Research Fellow in Medicine at Harvard, seems to have her own interpretation of the Bogus Syndrome that corresponds well to people's reservations about things they don�t understand. In the Foreword to The Web That Has No Weaver, she cautions people who dismiss Chinese medical terms and images as "inconsequential or as the babblings of a primitive society," saying that Chinese have observed life processes and relationships between humans and their environment for millennia. From these observations they have developed a descriptive vocabulary for myriad subtle bodily patterns --"a method of description not available to Western medicine because of its emphasis on disease states." In the end, it is all a matter of difference in philosophy and scientific processes, not between civilization and barbarism.

"So-called primitive peoples," says Vine Deloria, "do not cringe in superstition before nature and they are not fearful of natural processes. They are capable of creating situations in which they can use the forces of nature to their benefit. . . . They have no reason to reduce it to systematic thought and the elaboration of concepts. The doctrines . . . expressed in the most precise phrases and elaborate concepts with every nuance of meaning represented by weighty tomes, describe virtually nothing and do not inspire anyone to much of anything."

Professor Theodore Roszak is a great deal more blunt: "The scientist does not wish to see with the lively, wayward eye of the artist, which allows itself to be seduced by what is charming, dramatic or awesome -- and to remain there, entranced. It seeks a neutral eye, an impersonal eye . . . in effect, the eyes of the dead wherein reality is reflected without emotional distortion."

I feel it is my ethical duty to make it easy to understand the historical, scientific, and common sense foundation of authentic branding so people can reap the benefits of its use. People should be able to make intelligent choices about products and practitioners. They should also be able to spot proselytizers for the executional agencies and their mentality that pushes their version of brand.

You should also know enough to spot a slick marketing scheme run by someone who wants to make a quick buck off ignorance. If things sound too good to be true, that is because they are!

23 June 2004

Give the brand a job to do

The light wave and its ability to enslave everything into a concept through direct interaction and relationship is the core process of how all those millions of atoms hold themselves together. This is very core to the behavior of a brand used as an organizing tool in a company.

Give the brand a job to do � give it purpose, and meaning. Let it help you define the identity of your organization and it�s identity within the various worlds it contacts. Let the brand help you create consistency across all channels and but demonstrate flexibility without losing identity.

How do you do this in today�s world with all the many theories that every manager tries to apply, with all fast paced changes, with all the recommendations that come from the management consultants, and so on, ad nauseum? Reach for something simple, tangible and immediately result oriented. Use the brand as a utility to organize value.

Use the brand as an organizing utility to tie the mechanics of your business to the soul of your business.


How do we wake the brand up and let it help the organization wake up and become all of itself�all that it can be�all of the potential of connecting and unifying all of its relationships?

Every organization has its many dimensions of reality. But, how can the brand create one reality that everyone can buy into help shape, feel part of and contribute and resource?

Look to the outside world of any brand, and you can see the reflection of its inner world, the world of the behavior of the people�.that is expressed through the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of its customers - or employees - or channel relationships. The weaker the unification, the weaker the expression of that brand in its market space.

A leader with great vision and a sense of future potential that is followed by a leader who only considers shareholder performance and present day or past economic performance does little to guide people or give the company wide vision a chance to grow and emanate externally. It changes then - a brand changes - to reflect the vision of the leading group - like a ripple in a pond slowly moving outward.

17 June 2004

Music that paints a picture

I ran across this and it touched my creative, musical spirit.

For all you Dylan fans out there, have a visit to a place where you Don't think twice.

Just turn on your speakers and watch the music paint away on your screen.

16 June 2004

As One Universe

Wind your wicked thoughts
twist them into mine
our neural networks
flooding through divine
the rips and tears
in the fabric of time

Soar your hungry spirit
reach out into mine
the frantic dances
as atoms combine
the fields alive
in the space of time

Bury your hot passions
burn them into mine
our whispered words
drinking deep the wine
the bodies crashing
on a mesa in time

Release your sacred soul
mate it with mine
the thousands of worlds
surrender in line
as one universe
for a moment in time

15 June 2004


Being a warrior has nothing to do with waging a war.
Being a warrior means you have the courage to know who you are.
Warriors never give up on anyone - including themselves.

Ch�gyam Trungpa
from Jeremy Hayward's Sacred World

14 June 2004

Mind, Matter & the Nature of Context

What are the social, economic and environmental consequences of the realization that mind and matter do influence each other and have context? The real evidence lies within living organizations. Business is complex experience - we cannot separate its fundamental parameters from the human experience and contribution - nor can we ignore the nature of the organization.

How do organizations deal with political firewalls?

It is important to understand the character of the brand and it�s interactions. There is a distinction between people acting for a greater purpose � brand - or for their own purpose - private agenda. This is where politics comes into play. Political firewalls are about people issues - manifested control - not brand issues. People and their politics force the business of the organization into territories. Territories cause blockages in the natural networking of the brand�s organizational system.

What happens if you can make use of this personal political agenda and replace the need to control with a different kind of power? How could you demonstrate a new pathway that delivers the same or more value than the political territory? Obviously, it would have to become a transformational pathway with the opportunity to develop unique personal potential and, then through that, the potential of the brand.

What are the available options to break down political firewalls?

The main tools or techniques lie in the dynamic processes of the brand. These serve as a lattice of logic to weave the operations into everyone�s understand of how to work with the brand. People need to have an image of what they�re involved in and how to experience it. People need to see their value and the value of the organization for them.

Consider path-integral techniques where there is immediate functional connection with added value benefit for performing for greater purpose - outside political firewall. Develop a systematic power scheme for scattering processes much like power grids move electricity with phase transitions. Where can the positive signals come from? How can the negative be transformed?

Look at critical mass versus critical phenomenon. What is required to make the brand and the business sustainable? What conditions must be met or satisfied for this business to be capable of enduring? What are the ways that will destroy this living system? Can you negate them? What will it look like if business is not sustainable?

Business is completely dependent on its customers, its people. People need something � even a brand in this case � to believe in. People hunger for meaning - soul food. They search for connection to their self-esteem.

So, expand the brand�s sense of self worth by reducing separateness. Help each person�s experience in the organization be dynamic, rich in possibility. The business will reflect that performance. Harness the power of thousands of business and brand connected people. Look for quantum frontiers and build conscious brands.


closed system vs open system
dependent on separation vs dependent on connections
exhibits interference vs exhibits participation
manipulated vs developed
naturally separates into sub-systems vs constant coupling to multi-environments
inner-actional vs inter/trans-actional
limited conductivity vs super-conductivity
fixed, non-responsive vs interactive, responsive
has an expiration date vs creates sustainability
static vs changing and evolving, momentum creation
Quantum Spin Ladder = vertical vs Quantum Spin chain = fluid network, delivers strengthened relationships,increased awareness, improved communications
gravitational waves vs g.w. interact with
disturb fixed core vs flexible/responsive

13 June 2004

You can teach happiness!

I found this irresistible! Don't you wish we could re-program ourselves if this was possible. Even on a possibility, once your read this, you will want to make sure to begin a different dialogue with your children.

This is a small discovery from Kevin Kelly.

"Optimism is not a mere sunny outlook on life, nor is it simple self esteem. Rather it is a type of self-knowledge that can make people healthier and happier. And 20 years of controlled scientific clinical trials have proved that it can be learned. Furthermore, optimism can be taught to children. There is probably no better gift to kids (your own or others) than to teach them how to train themselves to be happy. If for no other reason than the fact that pessimism leads to illness and depression. This book is based on large-scale programs that have taught kids of all backgrounds and dispositions how to be more optimistic."
-- KK

The Optimistic Child
A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience
Martin E. P. Seligman
1995, 336 pages
available from Amazon

Excerpt from the book:

Why should we bother? Isn't pessimism just a posture with no effects in the world? Unfortunately not. I have studied pessimism for the last twenty years, and in more than one thousand studies, involving more than half a million children and adults, pessimistic people do worse than optimistic people in three ways: First, they get depressed much more often. Second, they achieve less at school, on the job, and on the playing field than their talents augur. Third, their physical health is worse than that of optimists. So holding a pessimistic theory of the world may be the mark of sophistication, but it is a costly one. It is particularly damaging for a child, and if your child has already acquired pessimism, he is at risk for doing less well in school. He is at risk for greater problems of depression and anxiety. He may be at risk for worse physical health than he would have if he were an optimist. And worse, pessimism in a child can become a lifelong, self-fulfilling template for looking at setbacks and losses. The good news is that he can, with your help, learn optimism.

Optimistic children explain good events to themselves in terms of permanent causes. They point to traits and abilities that they will always have, like being hard-working, likable, or lovable. They use "always" when they describe the causes of good events. Pessimists think in terms of transient causes. "I was in a good mood," or "I practiced hard this time." Their explanations of good events are qualified with the words, "sometimes" and "today," and they often use the past tense and limit it to time only ("I practiced hard this time."). When children who believe their successes have permanent causes do well, they will try even harder next time. Children who see temporary reasons for good events may give up even when they succeed, believing the success was a fluke.

The Conscious Brand - The Nature of Brands

The question is: Can brands mimic nature?

Using science to understand the nature of brands can provide genuine and key insights. Regard the different disciplines, for instance:

> physics - organizational behavior
> genetics - individual behavior
> chemistry - intimate relationships
> psychology - mind set of individuals
> sociology - mind set of groups

If we begin to establish a certain set of parameters that we believe contributes to a relative brand dynamic, we can begin to observe the behavior related to that thinking.

Are you interested in contributing to this?

12 June 2004

Kids 2020

It is not often that a project comes into our lives that inspires and feeds our business, personal and community worlds at the same time. This is the case with Kids 2020, which comes under the banner of the Club of Amsterdam Summit of the Future � Vision & Strategies for 2020. During January 26-28th 2005, The Summit will gather thought leaders from throughout Europe and other parts of the world at the Felix Meritus Institute for Cultural Exchange in Amsterdam to discuss and explore the potential visions and strategies for the year 2020.

Kids 2020 will provide the backdrop and context for The Summit of the Future as a multi-media exhibition. Results of interviews and workshops with children between ages 8 and 11 from different cultures and different countries will shape the exhibition. The top 10 visions and strategies created by these children will run as filmed interviews, hang as framed points of reference, and draw attention to the world illustrated by these children as they envision their role in it. They will represent a reflection of future society for the participants in the Summit. The results of this project will be packaged as a book and DVD, available at the conference and later through online distribution.

Kids 2020 will provoke children to take a look at their future world and ask them to play specific leadership roles in these discussions. Those 3 leadership roles - material, relationship, or conceptual based � will focus their thinking as they engage with questions and processes to guide them in their mini-forums. Their output will be to develop their ideas about the future 16 years from now and determine how to move those ideas into action.

Now our task becomes finding financial partners to underpin the resources to produce and deliver Kids 2020 into exhibition with the book and DVD. These partners may play an extended role because the exhibition could also travel to different countries, augmented by contributions from local children to make the exhibition particularly relevant for each location.

Colby Stuart and Adriaan Wagenaar are the concept developers behind this project. Both consultants on innovation and branding, they decided to partner their talents to build a business model based on the contribution of children to inform business processes. Stuart published Kids Club Magazine for 12 years for her client PBS (Public Broadcasting System) in the USA. Wagenaar has worked with the philosophy of children to build wisdom for brands like Robeco and Centre Parcs in The Netherlands.

Club of Amsterdam develops forums for generating platforms of interest to shape your future in the Knowledge Society, the world we live in today.

11 June 2004

A Dance in Time

Wicked thoughts windup
the neural networks
flooding into the divine
heresy of emotion
rips and tears
the fabric of time
searching for human
connections yawning
open to frantic
screaming outward
visceral in victory
close tight the link
the desperation
no longer evident
atoms combine
the dance begins
the spirits soar
the souls moans
quietly silence stills
motion atomic
hear the sound
heartbeats calming

10 June 2004

Photography by Colby Stuart @ Fotopic.Net

Photography by Colby Stuart @ Fotopic.Net

What is your "street" profile?

Do you need to raise your profile in the market place these days? Have you thought about what endorses you and builds your authority in your workspace or your market space? Have you been hunting for new work, a new role or a new job?

Personal branding is fast becoming the new way of thinking about your profile and positioning, and how you leverage that for developing your network. Headhunters and recruiters are sharing their views on this matter in global publications like the WSJ and FT as well as in local publications. It�s the new world out there in the Knowledge Society, and just doing a good job is no longer good enough. If you are on the move, the HR people are watching you in these new spaces.

Performance and �effectively managing your career path� are still top of the list, but there is a list. Being extraordinary is also on that list. And, being extraordinary shines the light on other things close to the top of that list � being visible, connected, taking risks and identifying what makes you unique. These are the requirements for the new leaders in the knowledge society.

Visibility. Are you taking advantage of all the new tools out there? Do you belong to one or more of the social networks, like Ecademy or Linked In? Are you writing a blog relevant to your community of practice or special interest? Do you meet regularly with other professionals to stay on top of what�s going on in your field? Are you sharing your opinion about your industry in your blog? Are you writing for one of the journals or speaking at one of the conferences? Visibility is not about the limelight. It�s about making contributions. People notice a job well done. People enjoy gaining a fresh perspective from an article or speech.

Connected. Have you joined the global ranks of the online social networks like Ecademy or Linked In? On Ecademy, do you participate in discussion platforms on the club forums? Do you belong to local networking clubs that meets face to face? Through one of these platforms, are you connecting to people in other parts of the world and building toward a trusted relationship through online discussions that require participation and something integral to your character? Are you technology enabled rather than technology driven? Being connected means building trusted relationships, not just tapping people for a headcount. People appreciate someone who shares, listens and inspires them. Some online social networks have created the environment, interface platforms and tools for people to really connect and build relationships over time in all parts of the globe. This phenomena is growing exponentially every week.

Calculated Risks. Have you volunteered for a project that might be �iffy�, but with your contribution and a team of others like you, just might turn out to be the winner? Have you proposed an innovative process or introduced an innovative idea into the mainstream lately and nurtured it through all the social relationships needed to keep it alive? Taking calculated risks can enhance your performance and contribute to the growth of the business. Realizing your limitations is key to evaluating and managing the risks. If you never take risks, then find a place for yourself to contribute to the team that does. They will appreciate your support and contribution.

Unique performance. What do you do differently and more uniquely from others? How do you do what you do that it creates such value and sets you apart from others? What are the behavioral characteristics that make your work unique and more valuable? Being different counts when it creates value in your workspace. Having unique talents, skills, abilities can set you apart from the others when tight decisions or choices must be made.

Whether or not you already do these things, don�t just do them for applause. In this new world, authenticity counts. Make a contribution to your workspace and to your life. Enhance what you�re already doing and raise your profile a little bit by joining this new world � the Knowledge Society. You just might discover a new way of positioning yourself.

There are many coaches available to help you reframe your content in the context of the world today. Get feedback. Just ask us. We�d love to help you discover your personal value in new ways.

If you look at the last two decades, 60% of the global output is from services. Are you service-ready? Service emphasizes the importance of relationships. Why not begin creating value with the relationship you have with yourself - and then with the world around you?

9 June 2004

Space-time Ramblings in Sensuality & Logic

In the space-time of sensuality and logic, a shadow dance of great pleasure begins in both the physical and intellectual realms. This gives pause for a question of parallel universes or possibly multi-verses. Can the thought alone rebuild a chance to live life as it should be, not just here but everywhere simultaneously - or does the thought only create the instant where it happens and the consciousness of it occurs in another universe not yet explored?

Are we destined to fall into the same old pattern of only knowing what we know and not knowing what we don't... our inner self visible on the surface for all who would see it, yet invisible as it explores realms in the unknown. Can we get what we want by simply asking for it directly? Being in touch with what our logic possesses is comforting, but sometimes we want to reach out through sharing in dimensional consciousness that exceeds logic and yearns for multiple sensuality.

When the serious side of things weighs on us like a cement overcoat, is fun the only sane option at that moment? While madness descends before we realize what's hit, it demands the company of someone who retains a shred of objectivity. But, don't be fooled by appearances. The dynamic of downloading the entire contents of your mind and sensually expressing them for all to see is an act of sharing your thoughts, and it could provoke the proclivity of everyone to work toward a new perspective. Madness and sanity - sensuality and logic...inseparable or separate?

Each answer contains exciting new questions. As the discussion heads off in wild new directions, we are likely to broaden our universes in an instant. Eagerness quickens our step, taking us only moment to understand just how lucky we are. Yesterday's little problems are fodder for today�s laughter even though responsibilities are endlessly inescapable. Process excites us when it goes beyond getting the same result from endless variations. Just a few small changes improve things immeasurably and makes the difference in an environment that initially seemed singularly dimensional.

Relax and think about the future, where on one plane logic is the guide, but on another, the senses dance in a multi-verse so very crucial then to understanding beyond logic. How intriguing to play in this unknown.

Will our own consciousness open itself to a wild dance between logic and sensuality - or are we forever imprisoned in a perceived stability of the known and permanent universe of today? Oh, to disperse ourselves in an uncontained release into multiple dimensions...would it bring great pleasure or none at all? Would we be minds without souls or souls without minds? Is it even important or simply the ramblings of a mind with scrambled thoughts and feelings?

Are we fated to only dance with our minds?

8 June 2004

The Thrill of Venus Transiting the Sun

Here in Amsterdam, we had the thrill of watching this little dot - the planet Venus - travel across the lower part of the Sun. It began early and ran for six hours.

This was an astronomical and a historic moment that no living human being has ever experienced because the last transit of Venus occurred in 1882. These transits come in clusters of two, spaced out between eight years, with a gap of more than 100 years between each pairing. The second one in this current cluster will take place in 2012. The last clustering of these Solar eclipses by Venus occurred in 1874 and 1882.

In the ancient Mayan culture (Mexico, Central America), Venus and Quetzalcoatl represented transition times in cultural evolution. Mayans were aware of the eclipse and incorporated the transits of Venus into their cosmological and cultural understanding. Venus was associated with the Mesoamerican god, Quetzalcoatl. As the morning star, Venus was a signifier of the boundary between old and new ways of being. Quetzalcoatl and Venus brought in a new day, ushering out old ways of being in exchange for new ways of relating.

Significantly, the second eclipse of this current pairing will take place in 2012, the year anticipated as the end of the Mayan calendar. Given the Quetzalcoatl mythology and his association with Venus, these particular transits of Venus may symbolize a time of transition, when one age is sacrificed for a new one.

Armed with cameras and filters to protect our lenses and our eyes, our little group headed to the Amsterdamse Bos, a lovely wooded area with bike paths, rowing canal, lakes, and even peacocks. We stood like kids in a row, with those weird paper eclipse glasses, heads back and mouths open. I shot some amazing photos with my Canon 10D. When we got back, I downloaded the shots into the Powerbook and jumped for joy. The shots actually show Venus - the dot - against the Sun. Can't wait to crop them and publish them for anyone who wants a peek - Colby's Photographs What a great experience we had...and the photos turned out, too.

Here's a link to the film Venus Transit Sun 8 June 2004

7 June 2004

The Spirit of the Business

The critical moment has come for leaders to ground the spirit of the brand into the mechanics of the business. They need to bring the suggestive power of the brand�s myth over to the people in its organization or network involved with its delivery to the consumer, all the way through its delivery process. The power of the brand needs to radiate at every touch point. Many consumers are overwhelmed with choices, made even more difficult now, because brands no longer provide the relationship expected previously.

Brands are now technology driven. Consumers want brands that are technology enabled, but consumer and service driven. The spirit of the brand feeds its network of relationships � no food and those relationships die. Has anybody noticed? The accountant may notate that quotas have not been met, or that clients have disappeared off the spreadsheet. They see consumers as data, numbers, not as relationships.

We have all become participants in the world of brands. What�s missing is that we find ourselves shut out of the organization that delivers the brand � an afterthought, so to speak. It seems that as far as they�re concerned, we�re hostages in their data banks. How can we have a relationship with a machine?

As consumers, we have been inundated with too much information and can simply no longer discern the differences or hear the shout of the sale above the cacophony of the competition. Maybe it�s the other way around, and the organization doesn�t hear us either. Maybe the organization needs to find new listening instruments to hear our call � call centers certainly haven�t been the answer. Either way, it seems that neither side is very pleased, nor aligned. We no longer resonate in relationship with each other.

The informed leaders ask their consultants, �What is the spirit of the business?� Those very consultants spend millions tracking, researching and gathering more data in their expensive CRM programs. Those very consultants never answer that key question, but they can tell you how much the customer spent, where they shopped, what products they bought. This information is important, but it�s forsensic knowledge. The spirit of the business has products, services, investments, real estate, virtual space, and a wealth of interests created by people who live the brand in ways that the organization has yet to recognize. What are the steps that the business must take to create a path for the consumers to bring the spirit of the brand back into the business of the brand?

This opens a new discussion � about branding, accounting, CRM, shareholder value, and customer relationship value. We begin with asking the right questions, new questions. Questions like �How can we bring the power of relationship into the accountability of a brand�s value?� �How can we identify new ways of organizing the business to deliver brand value at every point where the business demands money value in return?�

The spirit of the brand drives the mechanics of the brand. The brand, the business, and the organization need to function as a whole, connected to its creative source � it�s people. We need to tap into the power of meaning. We need to search for platforms of meaning that create significance and value at all levels.

The question of the day should be �How can we ground the spirit of the brand into the mechanics of making the business happen?� People need to see, hear, feel, taste, and smell how the brand awakens a sense of participation within its organization. That suggestive power of the spirit of the brand will pervade each person, motivate them, give them the space to contribute that unique part of themselves with purpose. They will reconnect with the consumer and not see them as an interference with their work.

This grants power to the brand�s relationships with at every touch point � at every experience created by this engagement. It requires emotional intelligence � at the heart of successful teams and individuals. Teams with high EI are based on true cooperation and collaboration, which establishes mutual trust, group identity, and a sense of being able to make a valuable difference as a group. These are essential ingredients needed to assure a team's effective performance. What emerges from this behavior is new ways, new platforms of common interest, and new common practices.

It�s time for the leaders of these brands to make a new commitment. Stretch the mind of the brand to make room for the heart of the brand. This requires new thinking, new stimulation, and new scenarios.

Simulate and stimulate. The brand has a conscience, and the business needs to realize its corporate consciousness. The consumer wants more than just a financial relationship with a brand. Why not ask them?

If you want something really important to be done, you must not merely satisfy the reason, you must move the heart also.
- Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

6 June 2004


Surprises lurk in the shadows of thoughts yet undiscovered and still not shared. Focus generally tracks the light, but what happens when we attend to the shadows? In the greys beyond what our eyes only see, our thoughts pursue a context of understanding that travels beyond black and white and reaches for the precious meaning of what we seek to understand.

Lines only define the context, and words only establish the platform to begin to discuss what we seek. The shadows give the much needed texture to understand what we cannot see. It is in this sphere that we must let our minds wander, feel what we cannot touch, and search with our souls for what we believe without knowing.

How do we survive without discovering all that the shadows of our lives can offer if we don�t even go there? Where are the true surprises that bring us delight? Aren�t they most often found in the places we never look?

Are the people in our lives forever destined to a program we�ve created for them with lines and words, or can we look to their shadows more often to add new perspective and deepen relationship? Are there places within us that need to be mined by another for us to understand the shadows within? Is this where true relationship comes alive once the shadows begin their dance?

All the definition lies in the shadows.

5 June 2004

The Resonance of Listening

Sound resonates in our very being. As the sound reverberates in our bones, in our mind, and in our soul, it reaches an acoustical alchemy that resonates within the source of our Being. Our ears are tuned to hear these sounds, ready to prickle as the invisible waves pound an emotional path to unexpected destinations.

Through a touching and very dynamic conversation with George Por this past week, I realized that we need a rhythm of listening with someone to be able to create the space where meaning and significance can emerge and grow into something of value. Once this begins to happen, what emerges is real, unique, and adds true value at depths we rarely reach because we are too busy thinking about what we want to say while someone else is speaking. This was one of those �Aha!� moments for me.

All of a sudden, many things began to fall into place.

Several of us are involved in trying to solve the problem of how to stop a vicious circle. I realized that one of the fundamental barriers to solving that problem was our inability to slow down and find a rhythm to our listening. Our human being-ness is over-ridden by our need to do, to solve, to get somewhere fast. We set our listening preferences to �low�, receiving just enough information to keep moving. How can anything resonate with you if you have filtered out your acoustical imagination? That is selective listening.

What happens if we consciously ask ourselves every day for several weeks, �What is my rhythm of listening? When I have tuned in myself so that I really hear what someone is saying? When do I actually recognize that someone or something resonates with me?�

Is there a possibility that we can make ourselves more aware of how we listen? Is it even possible that we can make ourselves aware of how someone else listens? I started closing my eyes so that I could hear the sounds, the words, the music � I wanted to feel them and not just hear them. I realized that I have an inner-monologue running inside me all the time, overriding most other things, until I consciously gave it permission to fall into the background and still itself. I tried again to listen, to hear not only the sounds and words, but to feel the meaning. This exploration with listening phenomenology is not only changing how I listen to others, it is changing how I read.

Everywhere, people are shouting. �Listen to me.� �Lend me your Ear.� �Read what I�ve written.� We are skimming through everything. Where do we find the time to get through all of it? The point is, we won�t. We have to make choices. We have to focus. We have to listen. In the act of really hearing, we recognize what resonates with us. It becomes so plain and clear � like a tuning fork humming with our being.

The problem is, if we do not find our rhythm of listening, we won�t find what resonates within us.

Each of us wants to share what sits inside our heads. We broadcast at every possible contact point. What happens with you when you start exploring your own rhythm of listening? I really want to know. Please share your thoughts and experiences with me as you experiment with this.

Defining culture individually

Everyone seems to have their very own definition of culture. We are exploring those definitions right now, looking for what creates meaning for each culture.

Perhaps, first we should define some cultures - country or nationality, business, sexual, age, creative or scientific, and the list goes on.

I am curious about what creates a shared platform of meaning for each culture - and what establishes the differences. Where cultures converge, we have negotiated those difference. Where cultures clash, we have non-negotiated issues in conflict. What drives this?

Please share your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and experiences - your wisdom.