Conquering rising youth-unemployment, applying lessons learned in hacker communities to the “real” world.

A gap is widening, on the one hand, unemployment among young people is on the raise, on the other hand, it is getting more difficult for companies to find qualified works. A paradox it seems? I don’t think so, neither is it coincidence.

Two factors are coming into play here.

1) The “kind” of job that companies are offering, are not very compelling. The values, benefits and problems that are prevalent in the job marked are no longer in line, with what young people expect. Growing up with open source software, social networks, Wikipedia and the Internet, makes young people expect a much higher level of transparency, than is currently lived in “old world” businesses. Old world businesses are a lot about projecting an image, about hiding information, about political bickering etc. A system that fundamentally relies on an asymmetry of knowledge. If however, all of the worlds knowledge is available in seconds, relying on an asymmetry of knowledge is simple not a sustainable business model. People will find out, eventually sooner than later.

So a young person gets to start at a job, and some higher up tells him this and that. She looks it up on the Internet, and its obviously bullshit. Well, she will find that situation unacceptable, and if she’s a high performer, she will take her business elsewhere, and “old world” businesses will have to do with the worst of the crop.

2) The second factor, is the education system. While people who are driven and have learned to educate themselves have thrived, those that got tangled up in the education system have unfortunately lost. The world of business is evolving faster than the educational system. That is, the knowledge, habits and attitudes that people leave the educational system with, are nowhere near what is required in the business world of tomorrow. They won’t learn it on their first job either, because as they are already behind, they will only be able to get work in an “old world” business of yesterday. And habits learned in those jobs will only further their unemployability.

What to do about it? Well, unfortunately many of the businesses of the future are not yet even created. Because it will be the top crop of our generation to build those businesses.

What will the future business look like?

It will probably be about diversity and automation. Many of the basic necessities of our life are already automated. What are the most fundamental pillars of wealth, luxury and comfort: shelter, energy, water. Look around you in your own home. What couldn’t you do without? Most of the stuff you pile up is probably expandable, but electricity and tap water are probably the most defining achievements of the first world countries. All other kinds of wealth are mere afterthoughts. And those amenities are available to almost everyone already.

And large parts of this infrastructure are already automated. So there is little workforce needed in the field of utilities. So, the mass market is already saturated. This brings us to the long tail. And the long tail means diversity. So now, that we as a civilization no longer need to focus on the fundamentals, we can spread our interests.

And this brings me to another observation, that I’ve made during my life. That is, if you take a specific and narrow field of interest, and you try to find all of the top performers/researches in this field, you will find that there are no more than about 50 people in this group worldwide. That’s it.

And to be quite honest, if you cannot be in the top 50 of a field, it is probably not worth pursuing at all. That may sound harsh, but the good news is, there is an almost unlimited amount of fields available at any given time. That is, there are enough fields worldwide, so that everybody can find and work in his/her specific top 50 field.

And that I believe will be the future of the workplace. To provide an environment, where everybody can strive to enter the top 50 of his/her personally preferred field and do the best work of his/her life!

Think about it.

Software Engineering: Workflow Pipeline

Building Software is difficult, it helps to have the best tools available though. One such Tool to have is an integrated development pipeline for your workflow though. Especially if you are planning to work as a team.
And since there are not really many “pre-made” tools, for this, you are probably going to need to create your own. Of course, depending on what kind of software you are working on, you will also need to choose the components your pipeline is based on.
Also, creating such a pipeline can be a bit of a chicken egg problem, because you might not to start working until you have the setup ready, but you are not going to know what setup you need, unless you start working on your problem. It might be easier though, if you’ve already done a few similar projects, and you already know what you need.
Choosing a tools for a pipeline might also depend on your budget, there are commercial tools available that integrate into certain development environments. But as I like to go “raw” in most of my development efforts, I am going to present you mostly with open source software, that is free to use, even for commercial projects.
I might not be a big fan of “over engineered” tools, but I am a big fan of mendaciously planned workflows and processes. And by process I mean everything that happens from the line of code entering the editor, to the click of a satisfied customer into the gui, or whatever it is that has been delivered. There needs to be a way from my line of code to get under the customers mouse cursor, that is working as smoothly and as reliably as a Swiss clockwork.
Many of those tools, the average software engineer or programmer probably is already familiar with, but I believe that is also of value to be aware that these tools and workflows, don’t just appear magically. They are conceived, built and it takes great care and determination to get them set up just right.
Also, I believe that especially “non technical” managers, if there is such a thing, need to have some idea about what is going on in software development. Startup founders that are building software based businesses also come to my mind here.
But lets get to the beef, the 3 basic building blocks of the set are, the source code repository, the build server, and eventually the test environment. The source code repository is where all the work of the team gets together. Here the integration happens, here the source code is backed up, should one of the developer workstations crash, and lose all its data. Here all the changes are recorded, here is where older states of the software could be restored.
The source code repository is also the key hole, through which the build server connects to the developers. Depending on what your development philosophy is, everything that you need to build the software should be in the repository. So that the build server can get it to build the software. When a developer wants to have something in the built, he needs to put it into the repo, so that the build server can get it from there. There should be no shortcuts, no tampering with the build server. No pressing buttons on the build server, no adjusting files, etc. once the process is in place.
The build server itself, should have a standard installation of the development environment you are using. However, in a way that a build can happen fully automated. If that means a few scripts here and there are needed, then be it so. Whatever your final product is, the build-server should be able to create it autonomously. The product could be a finished windows installer, for example. So then the build server creates that installer from the information he gets out of the repository.
The last role of the build server should then be to push the finished product into some kind of test-environment, be it whatever it is for your product. It could be a virtual machine if you have some rich client application, it could be a webserver, if your product is web based, or it could be some device, like tablet, smartphone, etc. if this is what you do. Could be in emulator of some kind too. Or an app-store, if you are publishing to your users directly from your workflow.
The point of this being is that whoever is testing your product, especially if the testers are not the same people as your developers, and they should not be, need to “sit” as close to development as possible. Without actually needing to disturb them constantly of course.
Source Code Repository
As for the source code repository, I do prefer git these days, although probably any distributed revision control system will do. With distributed meaning, that working with the repository does not require a permanent connection to the repository server, allowing the developers to work offline, which is generally convenient because local operations are faster, they can work offline, on the train, the plane, etc… also there is no single point of failure, such as the server being offline for maintenance, etc.
However, a word of warning, git has a ton of features, and you ain’t gonna need all of them. So don’t get too comfortable applying clever tricks. In certain developer cultures there is a tendency to advocate the use of branching for example. Others tend to shy away of using them. I am firmly in this camp. Of course, it all may boil down to a matter of judgement, and situation, bit in general, don’t use it. That is branching allows to keep several streams of development in parallel, which I believes fragments the development efforts unnecessarily, and I use other techniques to introduce “larger” changes, mostly on the sourcecode level, rather than the repository level.
In my process, the role of the source code repository is simple and limited:
  1. Bring developers code together
  2. Record history
  3. Feed to build server
There are some features that are convenient, like for example using a rebase pull to keep the history clean and avoid superfluous merge-markers, etc. But I again, I like to not get to clever about that.
As for branching in the source code repository, I mentioned using other techniques, one of them being modularising the code and have it communicate via fixed interfaces. This should allow it, if applied reasonable to implement even larger enhancements, in small increments, without confusing the other developers, as you can work mostly in your own newly created module.
That means however, that the core of the application has to be already relatively stable. So only few devs can work on that, but that is probably the nature of software development, and having branching in your version control system ain’t gonna change that anyways.
Build Server
As for the build server, I’d recommend to use the open source build server Jenkins, these days, but in a way it is just the scaffold for your actual build tools. It is java based, but can be used for any kind of environment, I use it for C++ for example. Eventually it will just trigger some scripts, to do what ever it is you have to do for a build of your software. If your process is already well developed, and you can do all your build and delivery steps via a script, you can already hook it into Jenkins, add a trigger based on commits to your repository, and have a go.
There are different philosophies about how to go about your build. Some people like to have everything from compilers to libraries, etc. in their repository, and basically keep all the build tools in version control too. I for one prefer a rather “vanilla” environment, based on a standard Linux distribution, with all dependencies out of the package system, with as little customization as possible. This makes it more convenient to what I do. If however you have specific requirements on your gcc version, a cross compiler, etc. because you do work for obscure embedded platforms, then the other philosophy might do you better.
Depending on your process, and the infrastructure you have, the build server might be a good place to run your unit tests, code metrics, static analyzers, etc. Jenkins has all kind of capabilities to record and archive your results. You might also be able to do a setup that pushes releases based on tags in your repository. That includes possible uploads to your homepage, an appstore, posting updates to shareware software news sites, beta areas of your user community, etc. If you are in anyways like me, you want to get updates out to your users as fast as possible, and this is your secret weapon, to spread as quickly as you can.
That is I am mostly talking about apps, if you are doing web development, well, then you probably need to adjust that recommendations to your specific needs.
If however you are in a more corporate context, you might not just push software into the wild, but rather into a test sandbox first. So this is what we do next.
Test Environment
This shouldn’t be to difficult, so, whatever kind if device it is you run on, set up an installation that is as close to vanilla as reasonable, and make sure, either the build server pushes regularly to it, or the device can fetch updates in a reasonable time frame. Preferable again, installation of your test environment should be automated and not require much tinkering.
The take-away here being that as I said, you want to have a tight feedback loop between testers/users and developers. And that feedback loop should be automated, because if it is not and setting up test devices requires developer intervention, then it is doomed to distract your development crew, and it is doomed to deteriorate. That is, bit rot will set in, people will complain, developers need to fix it, so then they cannot do their actual job, and things will deteriorate further, a deadly spiral.
However, if you have a large user community, you can also push updates to selected beta testers, and have them report back for example. The details of which is beyond this article though.

Only that which can be copied is truly unique

Paradox it seems, does it?

Lots has been written about the cultivation of an abundance mindset, in contrast to the more widely adopted scarcity mindset.

One mindset, the one that is often cultivated by shady advertising material, and publications aimed at the uneducated, adopts and promotes a standpoint that is based on fear. Based on the notion that there is not enough for everyone. That there are people that have ‘more’, that there is not enough to eat, not enough money, not enough love, not enough material possessions, not enough time to enjoy etc. It instills a worldview into each and everyone that allows him/herself to be infected that there is race going on, and that you will lose it unless you do whatever is in the interest of the entity controlling this information stream. Unfortunately, there is no winner in this worldview. Because, even if you were in the position of authority, you are afraid too, because why would you make such claims, unless you are afraid that those listening to you, below you are out there to get you and take your position away?

But there is a different mindset, one that is only cultivated by knowing circles, although this knowledge sifts into the mainstream consciousness occasionally, yet slowly. And that is the abundance mindset. It is the idea that the world is rich, and can provide for everyone, the idea that everyone can live comfortable, without being afraid. Its an idea that can, and is being, cultivated among a minority. Yet this minority is growing as I already mentioned. It is an idea that is scary and uncomfortable for those that are still deeply enrooted in the scarcity culture. It is an idea that appears dangerous to the scarcity culture. It is an idea that is being violently fought, ridiculed and laughed at, by those that live in the illusion that they are in control. By those that think of themselves as having power. An illusion though.

So much for an introduction, but how to we get to the conclusion that “Only that which can be copied is truly unique”? Well lets start with an example.

I’ve been to a movie this week, which kind of inspired me to this article. But lets start with something different. I’ve been to a party last week, at a club, and I arrived early with my friends, so we got in easily, Later in the evening though, the place was already getting crowded, and outside the venue a long row of people started to line up.
Would I have arrived this late, I would have probably skipped this party, because I cannot be bothered to wait in a long row. From my mind something that I have to wait for, a resource that is only so scarcely available that I have to wait for it cannot be worth much. Most likely, it is a scam. A common advertising slogan: “Come on, get it now, it is unique, it is only available this time, it is only available for a limited time” already puts me into the perception that the good being advertised is probably boring, and not worth bothering. For example a pair of trousers or any other piece of clothing is never truly scarce. I can buy it today, if I want to or I can get something equivalent next week, next month, next year, and most likely also in ten years. So when someone creates an aura of exclusivity, I am already bored to tears.

And actually, this applies to almost any kind of physical good. Food, clothing, houses, cars, computers, smart-phones, etc…

But in fact there is something that I assign a much greater value. Something that is much more interesting to me, and that I can get excited about much more. And those are immaterial goods. Information, so to speak. And judging from the increasing amount of huge data-centers popping up around the world at centers of wealth, this appears to be a trend. Those are more or less physical factories bound to process, store and interact with immaterial data.

Why is this? What is information? How is it created? Distributed? Valued?

Lets take literature for an example. I’ll take James Joyce’s “Ulysses”, even though I haven’t read it. A work of fiction that is probably widely distributed, and a copy can be most likely acquired for a price that is affordable by a wide range of this planet’s individuals. There might have been a time where reading and the access to literature and libraries has been restricted to an exclusive minority, but in many parts of the world those times are over.

So the material wealth to acquire such an information piece is neglectable. However, few would probably argue against that the text in question is a valuable piece of art.

And even though, many many books are being written as you are reading this. And even though there are many topics and genres where authors repeat the same patterns and thoughts again and again, nothing that is exactly equivalent to James Joyce’s “Ulysses” can ever be produced again. So the idea, the piece of information is that which is unique, even though, its representation can be copied indefinitely.

And therefore we arrive at the conclusion:
“Only that which can be copied is truly unique”

Going Nude: Learning Skills that require no Tools and Equipment

Currently I am quite obsessed about the idea of doing things “nude”, that is not necessarily without clothes, but rather without much preparation and equipment. That might range from entertaining a crowd with just being yourself and showing a few tricks. Just look at Bobby McFerrin at TED for an example.

He has fun, involves the audience, and everyone feels the magic. But it does not stop there, your body is a powerful tool, but being surrounded by equipment and machinery, diminishes our perception of what is possible without crutches and prosthetics.

There are many sports and forms of entertainment, that require equipment like skiing, biking, golfing, etc. but have you experienced the pure joy of just running through the woods, jumping broken trees and grown out roots, smelling the nature, feeling your feet adjusting to the ups and downs of the ground? Yeah, that might require running shoes, but there is even a growing movement of barefoot running proponents. And as a middle ground, there are lightweight shoes like Vibram Five Fingers and Nike Frees.

Or enjoying activities with other people, that do not require gadgets or consumption. Feel the pure and raw energy of human bodys crushing together in some martial arts lessons. I’ve taken up dancing recently, and alas, physical interaction with a person does posses quite a different quality than holding the handles of your bike or pounding away on the lifeless plastic of your computer-keyboard. The mechanical interface to satisfactorily satisfy the precise quality of the human ability to perceive tactile information is still to come. Learning a skill that involves physical interaction, is like learning a new language. A language to often neglected I believe, when interacting with people not yet trained in a language of physical expression, their movements being imprecise, uncontrolled hard and inhuman. Like the’ve become the plump machines themselves that were supposed to make our lives more pleasurable.

Physical movement can be a language, there are even deaf people that “think” in gestures.

And stying with language learning, of course this is another skill that requires no tools. Books maybe, to get you started, but once acquired, the skill is yours, embedded in your soul, ready to be applied.

Being the Movie Buff that I am, I rewatched one of the “Jason Bourne” movies yesterday with a friend, and it always fascinates me how Jason Bourne is able to “act” nude in almost every situation. Just imagine yourself, drifting on the ocean, no money, no tools no equipment, yet being able to deal with everything that comes thrown towards you. Being able to speak every language, being able to fight, improvise, understand technology, etc.

btw. technological understanding is an important nude skill in itself. Being able to use found equipment, computers that you’ve never used before, can alleviate the need to carry your own familiar technology with you all the time. And also, technology is built by humans, so by understanding technology you understand humans, and vice versa ideally. 😉

And the last, and eventually most important nude skills is that of being able to build tools. 😉 And here I am mostly thinking about the entrepreneur. Imagine yourself stranded in a foreign country, no identity, no money, no job, nothing. How long will it take you to indulge into the local economy, build networks, found organizations, provide value to the community and work your way to a joyful existence?

Knowledge is the new capital, and I have good news, there is plenty and its free for everyone. I’ve learned more from the internet and from interaction than I ever could from a university.

Have fun,
Cheers
-Richard

Spiritual Enlightenment for non-believers – Expanding your intellectual toolbox

If you are coming from an atheist, highly intellectual culture, like I do, where science and facts are given the uttermost emphasis, you might find it hard or ridiculous to even consider thinking about or discussing something that could be labeled as “Spiritual Enlightenment”.

So did I, because through family values, my upbringing, education and things I learned at university I was never seriously confronted with such a concept.

Today however, after many experiences, traveling, reading, interacting with the world around me, I’ve come to find a technique and understanding of what I might call “enlightenment”. There might be other words to describe that experience, but lets stick with this term for now.

The idea of enlightenment, as I understand it has nothing to do with magic or god or religion or any other kind of abracadabra that might sound ridiculous to you. I simply view enlightenment as just another tool in the human intellectual toolbox. Very much like logical reasoning, reading or writing. Albeit it is a powerful and eventually even dangerous tool.

But then again, think about how the skill of reading and writing was once a jealously guarded secret by those who considered themselves to be higher up and in control. And even today, the written word is feared and restricted by certain authorities.

Enlightenment can give you a level of freedom, that you might not be aware exists, but don’t think it might make your life any easier or less complicated, rather the opposite. And I am sure there are people that might fear the prospect of widespread adoption of this knowledge, because it questions and undermines their positions of power. They might ridicule and even fight it.

However, like you were able to learn how to read and write, you can learn to enlighten yourself. And it is not much of a secret either, there are plenty of people who learned to do this, and there are many books and lots of information readily available.

Learning about enlightenment will mainly be helpful to you when you are somehow stuck in your life, when you have desires and wishes that you find unable to fulfill, be it financially, socially, romantically or intellectually. But it is not a shortcut and it does not mean that things will magically fall into place. It is just another tool that can show you the light at the end of the tunnel, and how to get there.

And it is also not a skill that can be learned in a day, or that I can fully explain in this short blog posting. Like learning how to read and write, it might take you a year or two to gain an understanding, and a lifetime to master it. But you will likely experience a number of “aha” effects and significant progress throughout the process.

While you go through this process, you can expect to experience the following sensations. You will become much more aware of your feelings and instincts and you will start to rely upon them to guide you. So for example a lot of the current industry is geared around selling you some stuff that promises to fulfill some desire. However, quite often you’ll fail to get the level of satisfaction and happiness that you desired so much. You will learn to let go of physical things and learn to go for the feeling you want directly.

You will gain an increased sense of your own power over yourself, your surroundings and others, and you will gain an insight into why it is unnecessary and even counter-productive to abuse that power over others to do harm.

You will also find that some goals you expected to be hard, almost impossible to reach, to be suddenly in sight and attainable. You will develop a much deeper understanding of human nature, how people interact, and why things are the way they are, how to change them, and why this is often not even necessary.

Lots of these things are happening with body language, the words we choose to express ourselves with, and also about cultural habits, fears, expectations, etc. In short everything that is characteristic of  human nature can be used as a starting point. And conveniently enough, many of these things can be observed, explained and understood scientifically too, if desired. But the goal for enlightenment is not to understand things in a intellectual/scientific way, but rather to develop an additional intuitive understanding that results from “real” and practical interaction with actual people.

So as a first step for learning about enlightenment, you can read about something, and then go out and interact with human beings, observe what you feel, and why, learn what makes you happy, angry, what frightens you, and how the people around you might feel about a situation. Ask them if necessary. 😉

You see, there is nothing magic or mysterious about enlightenment. You just have to continue looking, and learning. See enlightenment as a way of understanding theoretical knowledge in practical human interaction.

Have fun,

Cheers

-Richard

Free Love and Happy Working, 10 Years to total lifestyle innovation

 Throughout my journeys, experiences and conversations in the recent years, I learned some amazing facts. Well, amazing for me.

  1. The traditional core family, father, mother some children living together is just one of many possibilities, and quite honestly the idea of that constellation scares me. While I certainly value the experience of having deep and caring relationships, I cannot imagine myself to limit my love to just one partner. I’d rather live together in a larger “family” with several individuals, sharing compassion, like in a commune, that encourages free love and kindness.
  2. The traditional idea of working harder and harder in a job you don’t like, to earn a living scares me too. But there is a different kind of work, I know that there are people that have built lean and efficient organisations, where people can work stress-free, fulfilled and happy on something meaningful. I know that such organisations exists, and I explored much of the knowledge necessary to build one. And in the coming years I will try everything to make such an organisation for me and my people a reality. Such organisations should provide the means to make a living for the big family structure that I mentioned in the first point.

Will it work? Well, I know that such structures and arrangements exists, and I am sure that there are many more that nobody has yet heard of, where people are just living their own happy lives.

And while there are probably many communes that live self-sustaining, most that I’ve heard of seem to advocate more of a “hippie chic”, colorful, chaotic, earthly, alternative look. While I can understand that there is a certain aesthetic to it, I am aiming for an entirely different aesthetic, and that is one that is more inspired by the mainstream, corporately dictated “culture”, rather than the bohemian style.

Why that? Because I think the world is ready for such a way to live, and I’d love to show the world that a different life is possible for everyone. I don’t want to make people that are still slaving away in a job they dread to feel left out. I want to show people that happiness is only a tiny step away rather than requiring a radical identity shift.

I do like the world as it is, I’d just like to see a focus shift to working smarter, more relaxed and more efficiently, rather than harder, and to focus more on relationships, rather than things you can buy. From what I’ve seen, learned and observed, I have no doubt it is possible. And as far as I can see, there is nothing more important for me to do in the next 10 years, so I’ll go for it in any case. And the best thing is, I know I am not alone, this movement is already taking up speed.

Have fun,
Cheers
-Richard

What is a Hackerspace – Why start one?

Hi,

people that know me, probably also know that I have founded a so called hackerspace in my local town last year. Actually, I founded it with my good friend Albert Frisch, and with all the help from my friends and family.

Before I go into what a hackerspace actually is, I will explain why we decided that we absolutely need to have one, and therefore started that effort.

It all started out with my working on my own Open Source Video Editing Software. Which was actually inspired by my bodybuilding and weightlifting brother doing amateur movie projects, and myself being quite a Linux enthusiast and running a local Linux User Group.

But I digress, my involvement into the Linux Video Community brought me one day to the Piksel Festival for Open Source and electronic arts. There I made a couple of quite life changing experiences.

You might have never been to an arts festival like this, so I have to try my best to describe what I experienced there. However, I am afraid to really make sense of it, you have to experience this yourself.

When you bring a number of very creative people from all over the world into one place, and they all mingle, work concurrently on all kinds of ideas, play, experiment, etc. something special happens. You have to imagine, artists can be quite open about what they are doing, and they are not afraid to try all kinds of things that might be dangerous, pointless, useless, interesting, fun, chaotic, complex, indecipherable, etc.

For example, there is the practice of “circuit bending”, which is taking apart electronic toys, essentially destroying them, and trying to connect cables that weren’t meant to be connected, just to find out, what sounds it might make.

And now imagine a whole festival where everyone is interacting and participating, doing stuff you are not ought to do. This creates kind of a bubble, a little place where everything is possible, where everything is allowed. Nobody is afraid anymore of screwing up, because essentially everyone else is screwing up already. This is a very good feeling, and it is an atmosphere where things just start to happen.

So I started thinking, determined to take that good feeling home with me, and share it with everyone I know. And I realized that there are actually places where people that are coming to events like Piksel gather. There are media labs, and artists workshops and communities all around the globe.

And the Hackerspace Zeitsparwerk is the result of that determination, its our little bubble of freedom and unlimited creativity.

Here is a video where I demonstrate a climbing wall that was built in our hackerspace:

Have fun

Cheers

-Richard

Talking to 100 People, friendly and efficiently

I recently reread the cluetrain manifesto, about real conversations with “markets”, and it made me think about a couple of things.

I remembered a recent experience talking on the phone with a government agency. To say the least, the experience was disappointing,  it felt as if nobody in there knew what anyone else was doing.

However, the cluetrain manifesto does not have a real solution for this, because even if everybody was talking straight, mixups would happen, because a person only has a limited mental capacity to keep up with personal relationships.

And especially with phone calls I find it difficult to have “real” conversions, because you never know in what situation you might reach someone, the person called might be angry, tired or just not in the mood for talking a call.

Having read the about the E-Myth recently, I kind of made a connection, and realized, why even when you are trying to do “real” conversions, you will need to have phone scripts that people can use when a customer or contact calls.

A scripted friendly greeting at the beginning of every call can channel a conversation into a friendly mood, that makes communication and understanding possible.

And this is really where technology comes. Nobody can really have authentic conversions with 1000 people, so one needs to rely on an extension of the brain, and that is the computer.

Digital Adressbooks, Call Logs, Email-Archives, Facebook, etc. help to recall a conversion into the short term memory of a person to continue where it was left of. Also CRM Systems and call transcripts are necessery when organisations are talking, because it enables different people to continue conversations without awkwardly having to reintroduce all facts from previous phone-calls.

Cheers

-Richard

Do Phantasy and Reality collapse? – Live or let live?

Fighting for the good, experiencing love and romance, going on adventures and withstanding great dangers. Where do we have all those exciting things in our life. Who still lives this kind of a life?

In many western societies, at least as far as my experience goes, many individuals allow themselves such excitements only in one place anymore. And that is the cinema, or the home cinema/TV. While they long for the emotional ups and downs of a well made movie, they prefer to do so from the safe perspective of their chairs, using their empathic abilities to drain the fears, excitements and the happiness of the characters on the screen into their own heart.

And who has never felt the joy of being so emotionally touched when the final twist of a movie unfolds itself, and you cannot hold your tears anymore?

While we leave the cinema, this euphoric feeling might still hang onto us, while it eventually wears off in the coming days, leaving us longing for the next kick.

Being an Actor – The new Adventure?

But how would it feel to be on the other side of the camera lens? Isn’t the actor in a much more interesting position than the movie watcher? Isn’t what he does a real adventure? He travels to foreign and exotic locations, he learns new skills, he engages with the most experienced and exciting specialists in his field.

Lets assume for a movie it is necessary to mime a sword-fight. This means the actor has to learn how to fight with a sword. He will be thought how to fight. He will hold a most realistic replica, he will sweat out all his worries and fears during an exhausting fighting training, until he sinks to his knees in the evening, collapsing from the excitements of the day. Viggo Mortensen for
example, he is known to have taken his sword with him all the time during the shootings of the “Lord of the Rings”, whether on camera or not. He became so emotional attached to his role that he could not let go for a second.

Or take Jackie Chan, is he not doing all the Stunts, dangerous Jumps, unbelievable fighting scenes himself. As far as I know, he has injured himself many times, he is not playing the fighting hero, this is actually himself. He is doing this for real. He has dedicated his life to improve himself, his strength and his ability to move, to a level that is unbelievable and feels as if it was unattainable for many people on this planet. He knows the dangers and the fears before a jump, he has his heart pounding in excitement and terror.

But lets not underestimate the emotional part of playing a role. Isn’t it that many actors thrive to become so involved in the part of a play or movie that almost become that person for a moment or a while. They walk, talk, interact and live the life of an adventurer, hero, superhero for the time of the shooting. They feel through all the worries of the character, they laugh when there character laughs, the run when their character runs, the love when their character loves.

Have you ever played a good game with your friends, at a social occasion maybe, where you became so involved in the game that you forgot everything around you, that you immersed yourself and time just ran by? Isn’t this a real experience, even if it was only a game?

This is likely what an actor experiences when he immerses himself in a role. For a moment there is nothing else that exists.

Isn’t this a real adventure, isn’t this more than just doing a job for which one is payed?

Is a movie just a reflection of our World

But there is maybe even more to this. Is it not that the author of a story puts many of his lives experiences into a book or script? Isn’t it that his upbringing, the challenges in his life, his travels and adventures, everything he has heard and seen throughout his years contributes to the stories he comes up with.

Isn’t it that many books and stories are just a codified reflection of an author about his life and this world? So isn’t it that he just reflects his image of this world? And isn’t it that we enjoy diving into the world the author has created, unaware that it is actually the same world that we are living in? Maybe some years have passed, but still many old sayings and wisdoms remain true in our days.

But where does this lead ourselves? What are we and what are we doing here? If a movie is in a way just a reflection of reality, how come we believe the reflection in the mirror is more exciting than the present?

Is it that we have just turned a blind eye to reality? Isn’t it possible to look around us with the same curiosity and sense of surprises and adventures that we use to look at a movie?

Isn’t it just as exciting to explore an unknown place alone, as going to a yet unseen movie? Isn’t it just as exciting to talk to a stranger and listen to his stories from a country far away? Isn’t it exciting to feel your heart pounding while you walk over to a beautiful girl to find out how to engage in a conversation? Isn’t it satisfying to learn a new skill, to take a course in something you’ve never tried, meeting strange and new people from walks of life you’ve never known? Doesn’t it feel dangerous to go to a bar you’d “normally” would never go? Talking to people you would “normally” never talk? Isn’t there surprise, curiosity and adventure waiting for us around every corner?

Have fun,
-Richard

The Power of Franchising – Create a Handbook for your Life

Early this year, I got my copy of “The E-Myth revisited”, and I was truly amazed about the knowledge in there, however, I tend to try to apply any existing knowledge to new problems, so I am right now creating a Franschise Prototype, but not a business, but rather my personal organization at home, how and I why I do stuff, what I own, and why I need it, etc.

If you’ve not read Michael Gerbers book, “The E-Myth revisited”, it is about creating a business, that is driven by excellent rules, designed to scale the business rather then centering your business around yourself and your ability to “run things”. Creating a Franchise starts out with building a Franchise-Prototype, which is the first implementation of your business, where you experiment and test, whether certain processes work, and it serves as a blueprint for your “Franchise-Manual”, a COMPLETE Handbook, about how your business works, from start to finish, written in a way such that your business can be easily and successfully replicated, with the aim of either expanding your business to other areas, or selling your business to people such that they can successfully run it.

So I realized, that my personal life, how I organize my place, the stuff I buy, what I do, is some kind of support system for me. To enable me to all the fun things that I am interested in. And because I want to have as much time for fun things as possible, I prefer to run things at home as smoothly, efficiently and effortlessly as possible. Interestingly enough, those are also the goals for a franchise, and therefore a franchise prototype.

Therefore I’ve kick started this year, by creating a handbook, a little guide, about how I expect my life to work, and about how I go about repetitive tasks in my life.

I started out with my list of resolutions for 2010, what went wrong last year, and what actions am I going to take to improve this year. And of course other goals that I want to achieve this year. I’ve also added actions about those goals.

This served as the skeleton for my handbook. I then added notes that I already made about some tasks that I only do every now and then, because one forgets specific details inbetween.

So, now for the PRACTICAL example, what do I have in my handbook for 2010?

First of all, it is just a folder full of handwritten notes, and I use post-its to mark the sections. I have the following sections:

  • Body
  • Girls
  • Money
  • Making a video
  • Giving a talk
  • Going on a journey
  • Organizing an event
  • Maintaining a server
  • Yearly Review

In the Body section I have notes about how I want to improve/maintain myself physically this year. For me this means powerlifting, occasional rock climbing and taking dancing lessons.

As a side note, in my personal training and workout guidelines, I have a printed copy of those two blog entries from the fourhourworkweek.com/blog

As well as a copy from a page of a book, that outlines some basic dancing moves.

In the Girls section I just have a gentle reminder to regularly review additional reading material to improve my gentlemanly skills, but also to put that knowledge into practice by actually talking girls on dates.

Additionally, I have a reminder to keep my crib clean, you never know what happens.

In the Money Section I remind myself, to schedule ample amounts of time for my consulting business, to write valuable blog content and scripts for instructive video blogs. I also remind myself to regularly review my budget, and watch my accounts, as well as putting a decent amount in my savings account each month. I am doing mostly freelance work, so I cannot automate this just yet.

Also I remind myself to focus on reading about business development, with a special focus on online businesses and communities.

As an appendix to this section, I also have my complete budget for 2010 in there, that outlines all fixed recurring and monthly or quarterly payments, so that I can plan things.

You have a budget right?

In the following sections, namely Making a video, Giving a talk, Going on a journey, Organizing an event and Maintaining a server, I have all the notes that I keep on such tasks, because I do not do these things regular enough, to make them habits, so I always have to review what went wrong the last time, so I can improve upon this for the next event/video, whatever.

And finally in the last section the Yearly Review section, I keep some notes about tasks that I only do once per year, like checking whether my passport is still valid, reviewing my financial situation, what went wrong last year, and how to improve next year, etc.

All this gives me a general outline for the coming year, so that I can continuously focus on what I actually want to do, and also advice on specific tasks and situations.

Do you have a personal handbook for 2010? Or any ideas about what should go into such a handbook?

Tell me in the comments!

Have fun,

Cheers

-Richard