Category Archives: Business

Anything related to business.

Sustainability and climate change

Consumers are sustainable if offered incentives and benefits.

Offering people a benefit or incentive to become sustainable works.

Offering people a benefit or incentive to become sustainable is the only way to achieve positive outcomes on climate change.

Early morning, and chaos.  Builders are putting up scaffolding around my house, it is chaos.  The cat is sick over my laptop bag.  I escape and wait for the local library to open.  A passerby comments that I had not done my homework last night, I blink a few times, do I look that young? In the library, panic as someone cannot find their bag they left a few minutes before; the library staff had taken the bag thinking it is a bomb.  My cellphone rings, a customer wants me to deal with a last-minute project.  Welcome to my chaos.

Amongst all this chaos the media, politician and activist bombard the consumers with messages of fear and doom of global warming.  Everybody is by now jaded, one more item of fear and manipulation in a tsunami of fear and marketing that daily seeks entrance to overstimulated minds.  Important perhaps to academics in their ivory towers, and rulers who see a good thing in marketing fear, the common person on the street has to live their lives, and their attention is upon mundane activities like paying the rent and getting their kids off to school.  Climate change is at the bottom of the list of concerns of everyday people, along with the rest of the fear-monsters of everyday life.

The scaffolding around my home is part of an interesting social experiment in sustainability.  Solar panels will appear upon the roof of my house, part of a scheme that though underwritten by a loan, will start to make money.  The solar panels offer free electricity during the day, my home only pays for the electricity at night.  My home sells the excess electricity it makes to the electricity companies who run the national power grid.  It is a win-win situation, a reduction in electricity bills, a scheme that will pay for itself, and the government-electricity companies paying the consumer for the electricity their solar panels sell to the electricity grid.

It is no point hoping for change in consumer habits by top-down control and fear marketing.  Offer the consumer a benefit, something that satisfies a need, such as the scheme my house is now involved in, the sustainable activities will drive a change in behavior, thus achieve positive outcomes the advocates of climate change desire.

More worker bees, less queens

Decision-making from the point of view of nature.

What is good for a bee is good for a decision-making structure in human society.

What is good for a bee is good for a decision-making structure in human society.

Nature has a teleological approach to its information processing and decision-making structures, clearly allocating functions to a hierarchy of units whether it is a group of cells in the body, a bee-hive or a wolf pack.  In the same way the effective running of a business requires there be only a few leaders, but a larger number of customer-facing workers to manage and meet the expectations of customers.

My town of Colchester is going through a review of the number of elected councillors that would best serve its needs.  Colchester council has a decision-making structure called a cabinet numbering only 8 of the 60 councillors, who make most of the important decisions, the rest of the councillors have little say in what goes on in the council.  From a business and natural point of view I think the cabinet-style of decision-making is good, as too many managers can wreck an effective organisation.  The Colchester cabinet is like the queen bee, and the rest of the councillors are like worker bees.

Like the worker bee the 52 councillors outside of the Colchester eight-strong cabinet have little say in the overall hive, but a hive cannot work unless there are a lot of worker bees to serve it.  The 52 councillors are important as the customer-facing lines of communication between a fast growing Colchester population and its central body the council; they are the eyes, ears, face and contact point between resident and council.  There are proposals to cut the overall number of councillors from 60 to 51, in an area that will jump from 176,000 to 207,000 population in a few years.  Some argue for leaving the number at  60, I went against everyone and entered an argument to the official review commission opposing any decrease in councillors, and increasing it to 69.

I come to conclusions based on what I see in nature.

Finding solutions in nature

Nature is a source of great ideas and solutions to problems.

A robin can see the magnetic field through its right eye.

A robin can see the magnetic field through its right eye.

A little known fact according to scientific research is that dogs when off the leash and in a stable magnetic field prefer to poop aligned to north-south of the magnetic poles.  As funny as this fact is, a more interesting insight emerges that dogs are one of a growing group of species which have a sense of magnetic fields.

Recent research involving pythons, a large snake, dumps them 20 miles from their original location finds that the python has an innate compass and map which allows them to navigate back to their starting point.  The growing research in animal navigation using the earths magnetic field excites me, as I am keen on the idea of a navigation system that can operate without need of a third-party service such as a GPS satellite.

It amazes me how ignorant many in humanity are who treat nature as an inconvenience unworthy of consideration in any aspect of their lives, something  controlled or kept at a distance.  Nature to me is a rich information source, a huge information system which I am constantly pulling ideas from which directly impacts my business branding, products and processes.

My business deals with information delivery, so how my DNA codes information to how a python navigates using magnetic fields are all of great interest to me.  I ask crazy questions like how can a food crop tell my computers it is under attack by a pest in the same way as they can communicate to a predator of the pest to attack the pest.  The cause-effect type of learning of crows that match the intelligence level of a seven-year-old-child, and the scaffold learning ability of bees to deal with ever-complex patterns of learning, all have useful applications in artificial intelligence.

For every problem people seem to head to Google for the answer, but few ever considered that undervalued nature might provide a solution for every challenge humanity faces.

Using nature as your friend

You can turn nature to your advantage.

Bees have hidden advantages of providing a natural biological barrier to large animals such as elephants.

Bees have hidden advantages of providing a natural biological barrier to large animals such as elephants.

I now define sustainability as “action in harmony with nature.”  This definition of sustainability I use in forming policy and procedure in running my business.  I attempt to integrate sustainability into the core of my business, and to a certain extent into my life.

I consider that for every challenge a solution is found in nature.  All action can incorporate nature in the solution.  I offer an example of a challenge that farmers face with wild elephants who destroy home, crop and life.  The usual solution against an elephant that is destroying life, employment and home is to shoot it dead.

The sustainable solution is find an answer in nature that allows an elephant its life but protects the farmer from a rampaging elephant.  An article here provides an amazing solution – bees.  A series of fences with bee hives attached protects the farmer from elephants, who not only dislike going near bees but warn their fellows to keep away too.  In addition the hives increase insect-pollinated crops by 30% yield and provide honey for the farmers to sell.  The sustainable solution fits the definition “action in harmony with nature”; it is a win-win solution for everyone.

Creativity and money

You can earn more through creativity.

Flowers offer me inspiration as they are expressions of creativity with a purpose of attracting insects to trade with them aka nectar for pollination.

Flowers offer me inspiration as they are expressions of creativity with a purpose of attracting insects to trade with them aka nectar for pollination.

A common question that I get when I talk about creativity to people is that they say it is nice, but does it make money?  The harsh reality is that money is the centre of the universe, if you have none, you starve.

Most of the creatives I work with in Colchester make their money by using their creative energies in the industries of entertainment or marketing.  I however feel that creativity debased to entertaining or manipulating people is a debased form of creativity, but I am realistic that creatives have to make their money where they can.

I currently define creativity as “ability to see, build and action patterns.”  The definition is born of scientific research that has largely demystified creativity showing that it is the byproduct of the brain forming new connections based upon new experiences in life.  The reverse of creativity is stagnation, and it has a direct correlation to happiness and meaningful purpose for the individual human being.

Pursuit of money without creativity is my version of hell.  Despite the current modern mentality to dismiss creativity as useful to money-making, or debasing it to the level of a prostitute for the purposes of entertainment and manipulation, I place creativity at the heart of my business.  Creating and running a business from nothing is a form of creativity, my business is my canvas, my business expresses my creativity, which gives me meaning and happiness.  I shall explore some of the ways I express creativity in money-making in future blog posts.

Making your own luck

Create and be attentive to opportunity.

Crows

These Colchester crows create their luck by positioning themselves and being attentive to the foraging squirrel, whose found nuts they will steal.

There is nothing mystical about luck.  If the individual desires an oak tree in the middle of their garden, no amount of praying, meditation or mystical ritual will manifest an oak tree out of nothing; plant an acorn in the soil, give the acorn attention, and the chances are high after a period of time an oak tree will manifest.

In recent weeks I have been lucky finding many coins and currency notes on the ground that inattentive, stressed and drunk people drop upon the ground in the dark.  This luck has been due to a few years of practice of observation as I walk around, a fun challenge of spotting coins on the ground, and thus I have an eye of a hawk, my instinctive scanning of the ground creates the opportunity to find dropped coins.

In my garden is a shed, upon which the pine needles of a tree fall upon the roof, decomposing into a mulch, and little blades of grass are growing, seizing an opportunity to live in the mulch of the shed roof.  In my local park the squirrels forage for nuts they buried in the ground, with crows shadowing them, the squirrel find the nut, the crows seize the opportunity to grab the nut.  Feeding ducks, individuals encounter seagulls swoop in to grab the food even before it hits the water.  Our cat Helix sits attentive in hidden places watching the birds feeding at the food station, waiting the opportunity to grab a careless bird.

Luck is neither random or mystical.  Nature offers the insight that living things create their opportunities through effort and attention.  I find my coins because I trained my mind to spot them, then I maintain a watchful subconscious attention for the coins.  Some seagulls I observe create opportunities for food by stamping their feet in a rain dance on the ground to trick the worms to the surface.

There is an experience called synchronicity, a type of coincidence where an individual thinks or acts in some manner that appears to coincide with an event, for instance I think of a person and a second later that person telephones me.  Whilst synchronicity is one aspect of the weirdness in nature, at the core is an individual who has acted either in thought or deed to make space for an opportunity to arise of synchronicity.

Being like a magnet

Provide a solution to a need and you become a magnet.

My offered chocolate on Christmas Day attracted the delighted Colchester Castle Park squirrels to me.

My offered chocolate on Christmas Day attracted the delighted Colchester Castle Park squirrels to me.

A flower evolved perfume, colour and nectar to attract insects such as bees to pollinate it.  Like anything in life the individual has to plant seeds for anything to grow, to offer the world something attractive to attract opportunities.  Do nothing, gain nothing.

Over a week ago I regained ownership of my laptop bag from the cat Helix, denied its favoured bag to sleep upon the homeless cat then vanished upstairs, so it felt empty working on my laptop with no cat sleeping near me.  In the UK Boxing Day sales I purchased at a bargain price a sleeping bed for a small dog at £3.50, placed the bed near me, then let nature take its course.  Helix found the bed and as I hoped adopted it as its new sleeping base, I now have a cat back near me curled up like a happy sleeping ball.

To attract people, animals, plants or opportunities into your life, you have to invest resources of time, energy and money into things that they need.  There is nothing mystical about becoming a magnet; understand what the other party needs then provide it.

Acorns to Oak trees

Everything works to its own timing.

Acorns work at their own pace emerging as an oak sapling many months after falling to the ground.

Acorns work at their own pace emerging as an oak sapling many months after falling to the ground.

After a storm brought down a great oak tree last October in Colchester I salvaged thirteen acorns and planted them.  I won’t see anything emerge from these acorns until spring, since they are waiting out the winter before emerging.  Acorns like everything in nature work according to their own clock, they will emerge as oak saplings at their own moment and pace.

Humanity live in a fast paced world, a delusion that the individual can achieve instant gratification of any desire: lose weight, swallow a magic pill; instant fortune, buy a lottery ticket; new expensive gadget, buy it on credit.  Humanity has a foolish opinion contrary to nature that everything desirable can like magic instantly appear, though many corporates promote this delusion with destructive consequences to self, society and the environment.

The individual can learn from the acorn, that everything in reality moves slowly at its own pace:  better to lose weight over time; spend a couple of years achieving prosperity; saving up for a desired gadget.

I patiently wait for the oak saplings to emerge many months from now from the acorns I planted.  My major business investment in a project staggered over many months rather than seeking a loan, a proverbial acorn becoming an oak tree at its own pace.  Human civilisation and this planet would benefit from learning from the cycles of nature, that all has its moment, its own pace, its own cycle.

Be like an artist

A choice in life to develop an attitude to work like an artist to a sculpture.

Rocking Horse Boy

The artist invested their life in producing this beautiful work, admired by other people. (Photo credit: unknown.)

I watched the man work from start to finish, repairing and replacing a damaged drain cover, every action taken with care, attention and skill.  A worker impressed me as he gave such care to his work, like a painter to a work of art.  The finished project was of quality.

Only I and the worker will ever know about the care and attention that went into this anonymous drain cover, one of thousands in Colchester.  People will walk by and over this drain ignorant of the devotion put into the repair of this drain cover.

The individual often will work on projects that nobody will care about, or realise the effort and devotion put into the project.  The individual has a choice, invest their attention into projects as like Mozart did to his music, or with the care of a drunk tossing an empty can of beer into a hedge.  Even if the world appears ignorant to the efforts of the individual in their work, the individual stands as witness to all they do.  How great it would be to look back on a life of care and devotion to everything the individual does, be it cleaning their teeth, or creating a poem.  Life is short, better the individual invests their limited time of life in quality and devotion than quantity and bad workmanship.

New beginnings

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.

My fallen comrade, a tree, which dominated a field boundary.

My fallen comrade, a tree, which dominated a field boundary.

The eve of the Celtic new year, marked by what feels a new cycle in my life.  The eve of the first day of winter, the land marked by the passing of Storm St Jude.  The last 24 hours is like a rollercoaster of creative connections, like pieces of a jigsaw, connections fall into place, revealing the picture of solutions to long-standing challenges such as business branding and the direction in my life.

Escape from death

I returned to my camp site in the wood, the nighttime temperatures fell to a new low of 5 Celsius, I am testing my limits in nature, I passed the night challenge comfortably.  I had enclosed the camp on all sides with a boundary of branches, cut in half by the fallen tree, a victim of St Jude.  I previously considered locating my tent under the tree, had I done so, potential death.  Had I been standing under the tree at the wrong moment, for I had stood under it as St Jude smashed into the wood, I would be dead.  I am thankful for good fortune of life, the fallen tree and my escape from death teaches me about the impermanence of life, that life is a risk.

Spirit of Place

I believe all places have a spirit, essence, or life.  When I camp I ask the spirit of place to protect me and my belongings when I am there, for life is partly random chaos, thus there is a risk of harm from random events.  I would like to think the spirit of place watched out for me, I suffered no harm from the fallen tree.  From challenge, a hidden blessing, the fallen tree offers satisfaction of needs for a seat, protection from the wind and a place to hang clothes. This morning I made a dedication to the spirit of place in the Roman fashion:

“To the Spirit of this Place, Alexander faithfully fulfills his vow.”

A gift from ancestors

This morning, I cut through Cymbeline Meadows, in a field I find a tool from my ancestors, at least 3000-years-old.  The stone tool shaped like part of a pickaxe, the sort one might use to carve out a hole in the ground to plant crops by hand.  I shall visit the archaeologists to get their view on this tool.  The find is ironic, for today I was planting acorns.

Visit to a fallen friend

I pass where the oak tree I named “Castle Tree” fell, a tree whose death I grieve. There are thirteen cows in this field where the tree fell of mixed variety, some with horns, that like to shelter near the fallen tree from the weather in what is a field exposed to the elements.  I practice mindfulness and respect for the cows, who are at the other end of the field, mindful to what the cows do, and respect for their unpredictable nature.

Cow guardians

A pheasant flies away at my approach to my fallen friend, another unknown creature is moving amongst the fallen branches.  It is a sad scene of destruction.  The tree stump stands tall at the field boundary, a monument to my friend.  I look for acorns on the ground, there are none.  My mindful attention notes the cows galloping towards me, forcing me to run to a gate in an adjacent field.  The cows gather like watchful guardians on the other side of the gate, wary of me, sniffing at me as I talk to them, rejecting my offered grass.

Gathering of acorns

On the other side of the gate I find acorns that I was seeking from my fallen comrade.  I collect fourteen acorns, all brown and cracked, some with little roots seeking life-giving anchor into the earth.  Like a loving parent I place the acorns into my breast pocket.  I climb over several gates to avoid the watchful cows, I make my way to civilisation.

Challenges and Blessings

In civilisation I find pots and compost, I plant and water fourteen acorns, placing them at a location I thought was safe.

I visit a retail store in Colchester, purchasing two items for £2.00.  I tender £10.00, I leave the shop discovering I have been given £13.00 as change.  I look at the strange blessing in my hand, which should have been £8.00 rather than £13.00.

I return to my home in civilisation.  A challenge, as my landlord has been gardening and has disposed of some of the planted acorns.  I am upset, I keep my composure, there are no arguments.  I recover acorns, but one acorn is lost, I am now down to thirteen acorns.  The landlord offers additional pots and compost – a hidden blessing.

Thirteen appears a significant number today: thirteen cows; thirteen pounds(£); thirteen acorns.

The challenge over the acorns reveals another hidden blessing, the delay means I am available when a business customer turns up with little warning at the door with the final items that completes a jigsaw of a major business project.