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All for one and one for all

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

GET Local is a new platform to help small businesses tap into nearby resources, says Oliver Moore

By Oliver Moore

FOUR ‘green’ entrepreneurs are empowering communities racked by austerity to start new businesses. Their initiative is called ‘GET’Local (Generate Enterprise Together).

Launched last year, GETLocal has had an impact in Borrisokane and Lower Ormond, in Tipperary, with more places due soon. The idea is simple: provide a platform to help communities develop new local enterprises in crucial areas.

“Our mission is to reverse the outflow of wealth from the Irish economy, which will reduce energy, food and transport costs, and redirect spending power for the benefit of the local community,” they say.

GETLocal focuses on the localised, low-carbon economy. They aim to help unemployed people create their own enterprises, by sharing information, coaching, niche skills, start-up capital, back office services, and customers.

The focus has been on food, energy and transport. The GETLocal social franchise is the brainchild of Aidan O’Brien and Ross Rabette, who live in what is fast becoming Ireland’s eco-business hub, Cloughjordan.

Rabette, 37, wanted to set up bioenergy villages in Ireland. “I moved to Cloughjordan, knowing that I would meet like-minded people to work with there. Aidan O’Brien brought a distinct jobs focus.”

O’Brien specialises in construction with natural materials, and has built many of the houses in Cloughjordan’s eco-village. The two have been joined by Alice D’Arcy and Dave McDonnell. D’Arcy supports food enterprises, while McDonnell fund-raises.

D’Arcy has a PhD in environmental science, specialising in the environmental impact of food and farming.

“My work in ecology, environmental sustainability, and research made GETLocal attractive to me. I like the fact that it has joined up a lot of economic areas, and that empowering communities to run things themselves, using their own resources, is a key part of it. The ethos of collaboration is important,” she says.

McDonnell is fundraising in the US, capital which GETLocal will make available to new enterprises, in partnership with a lending institution. Rabette is a biosystems engineer, and has designed and installed district heating systems and renewable energy technologies.

Cloughjordan’s eco-village has a district heating system powered, each year, by 200 tonnes of woodchip, while eco-villagers and residents of Cloughjordan own and operate a community farm.

Rabette said of his experiences in Germany: “The bioenergy villages in Germany were certainly inspirational,” he says. “In Juhnde, for example, they use fermented energy crops and farm slurry for gas capture, which provides heat and electricity. The community ownership model is key to the success of over 50 bio-energy villages there.”

Rabette says there are sustainability issues with bioenergy villages — many plant and then cut the growth to generate energy. He says it’s possible to take the best of the energy-capture technology without destroying the locale. “With, for example, food waste composting for energy capture, or more sustainable woodland management practices, to thin, rather than clear-fell, the forests.”

Community ownership of resources is growing in Germany, where 50% of renewable energy is owned by individuals or communities. This provides one fifth of all of Germany’s electricity.

Rabette cites the sharing economy. How often does anyone use all their power tools? Pooling those tools into an easy-access library would be savvy.

Rabette says communities import massive amounts of energy through their food, transport and houses. Energy is money. “The average household consumes about 90,000kw hours of imported energy, and food is the biggest category of fossil-fuel dependence, at over 40,000. Transport is second, and in-house costs, such as heat and electricity, are third,” he says.

Borrisokane, a few miles from Cloughjordan, is the first town to which many of these eco-business ideas have diffused.

There was resistance to the idea initially. “Because of the potential green agenda. But most of the best business opportunities lie in the green economy anyway, so money talks.

“We mapped resources, found gaps, helped develop business models and sought out the right kind of people to deliver them. We put on collaborative start-your-own-business courses, which created lots of synergies”.

Rabette says people interested in retro-fitting can use materials sourced from the materials bank, to also make chicken coups, or wood-log stores. “So just by putting on these courses, we supported people, but they also supported each other.”

At the GETLocal office in the town, they have built back-of-house supports, including developing software systems for purchasing products and services, a database of customers, training, contracts, sites and innovative fundraising techniques.

The latter, spearheaded by McDonnell, is vital in an economy where banks are not lending significantly. These services are part of how GETLocal will generate its own income, after the start-up phase.

Concurrently, a range of connected, nascent businesses is developing. These include libraries — tools, arts and materials — and a community food compost service.

Is there space for such initiatives to blossom? Maybe it all comes back to the price of potatoes, as Rabette says. “Borrisokane is a big potato-growing area. Middle-men pay farmers here €200 a tonne. After the potatoes are driven to Belfast and then Dublin, for processing and packaging, the consumer, even in Borrisokane, pays €1,300 a tonne. Why not form a consumer hub and approach farmers with a price just over €200 a tonne? Or, approach a hub member to start growing potatoes for that price?”

D’Arcy says: “A lot of friends and colleagues have emigrated, there aren’t huge opportunities in my area. After my PhD, I was unemployed. I’m hoping to help create employment, to help people establish businesses, so people who don’t want to leave the country don’t have to.”

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Web 3.0 and Accommodation Providers, some thoughts.

As we leave Web 2.0 and move to Web 3.0 companies will face an ever-more demanding public. Web 3.0 will involve the public, as never before, as setting the agenda for consumer goods and services. One must ask how can we as accommodation suppliers provide adequate choice and comfort to guests without compromising quality, safety and still maintain profits.

Note Web 3.0 is based on the idea that the Internet ‘understands’ the pieces of information it stores and is able to make logical connections between them that is to say machines will recover and retain information and ‘match’ our meanderings on the web with possible ‘wish-list’ advertising/articles in a forward-thinking way. Web 3.0 will troll pieces of information it stores and is able to make logical connections between them. This will ‘enhance’ the optimisation of one’s own search and that of the advertiser. According to Macmilliandictionary.  A precise definition of Web 3.0 is difficult to pin down, but most descriptions agree that a fundamental characteristic of it is the ability to make connections and infer meaning – essentially, the Web is going to become more ‘intelligent’.

‘With Web 3.0, it’s about the Web becoming smarter, getting to know you better from your browsing history (and all you’ve contributed to it during Web 2.0) and automatically delivering content to you that is relevant.’ (BIZCOMMUNITY.COM 13TH MAY 2010)

According to sites such as and

However the Harvard Business Review  makes the point that it’s not ALL about (E) Social Media; ( If you ask venture capitalists in Silicon Valley how they measure the success of business entrepreneurs, they would no doubt list off metrics having to do with fast growth: funding raised, people hired, customers acquired, revenue produced. The assumption is that company growth is good. But when it comes to social ventures, where the primary focus is impact (not profits), bigger isn’t necessarily better.


It’s Not All About Growth for Social Enterprises; by Kimberly Dasher Tripp  |   9:00 AM January 21, 2013.

Carl Jung and others on a ‘Sense of Place’.

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Carl Jung and others on a ‘Sense of Place’.

Some thoughts from figures of note (and a tiny contribution from this writer) on philosophical Sense of Place as well as the physical.

Note; Jung, Carl– from his Collected Works (cw) edited by Meridith Sabrini, North Atlantic Books, Berkley. California,2002.

Reading around the subject – on “A Sense of Place” – I found some interesting comments by Carl Jung where he writes/speaks about returning – usually to nature something that he sees as a place or entity ‘Mother Nature’. Concern for the loss of connection with this ‘place’ runs as a (non-musical?) leitmotif throughout Jung’s entire opus; “Our task is not to return to nature in the manner of Rousseau[i], but to find the natural man”. Jung believed that the loss of emotional participation in nature has resulted in a sense of c (lack of a sense of place), matter was to him the tangible exterior of things and the spirit the non-visible interior.

By way of compensating for the loss of a world that pulsed with our blood and breathed with our breath, we have developed an enthusiasm for facts – mountains of facts, far beyond any single individual’s power to survey … . the facts are burying us. (c.w. 11 par 797), Jung, C. 1939. (There’s a much quoted child’s question that asks; “If adults know so much why aren’t they happy?”). “The development of consciousness is a slow and laborious process that took untold ages to reach the civilised state (±6000 years ago – the invention of writing). This development is far from complete as indefinably large areas of the mind still remain in darkness”.  Jung goes on to explain that civilisation is a most expensive process & its acquisition has been paid for by enormous losses (see the video “The Story of Stuff”) the extent of which “we have largely forgotten or have never appreciated”. (c.w. 10, par 154-5) Jung, C 1928.

Of course classical sciences propensity for viewing a present state in its environmental context persisted down throughout the centuries. (Phil Myrick, Power of Place, 2011). He goes on; We see Placemaking as one solution to these problems. ‘Placemaking is the nexus between sustainability and livability: by making our communities more livable, and more about places, we also are doing the right thing for the planet. Placemaking provides concrete actions and results that boost broader sustainability goals such as smart growth, walkability, public transportation, local food, and bikes, yet brings it home for people in tangible, positive ways.  We feel it is important to give people a proactive approach to sustainability in their hometowns. Creating lively town centres and neighbourhoods that enhance pride of place and promote local economic development is critical to improving local quality of life as well as quality of the environment.  In fact, we can reinvent entire regions starting from the heart of local communities and building outwards’.

However in Winifred Gallagher’s book The Power of Place, ( 1993, Possidon Press USA), there is a strong echo of Jung’s ‘cosmic & social isolation’, Gallagher reinforces the need to stay in touch with our environment, especially for city dwellers who tend to be overwhelmed with intellectual stimulation and lack stimulation from nature. She too feels we need to find a place that is removed from the ‘facts of civilisation’ Gallagher claims, “So yes, we do need that trip to the countryside once in a while”. She goes further to hope for a change in a later work; “In the future I’m planning on searching within the field of architectural psychology. I want to know how urban planning, architecture and interior design affect us. I’ll be looking at academic works but also at other philosophical or spiritual concepts such as the Asian Chi”.

Hippocrates too observed that our well-being is affected by our settings –( The Hippocratic treatise Airs, Waters, Places served as a template for viewing the relationships between places, health, disease, and the physical and mental constitutional nature of people and nations up to the early twentieth century. Central to this conception of the body and its environment is the perception of causal connections between a place Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies) so this is not a new concept. This writer has oftimes observed that in Northern Ireland the richer, “settled” communities that were ‘given’ the best land in the valleys became introspective and dour while the native people were left to settle the hills and upper poorer land. These produced far great percentage of thinkers and visionaries not to mention musicians and

poets of note. People who could see farther than their own microcosm.


On a lighter note; from Bryon, A.T. Don Juan, “What men call gallantry and gods adultery is so much more common where the climate’s sultry”.

“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!”
― Dr. SeussOne Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish


Many others have had difficulties with a ‘Sense of Place’ too;

“I am here, and here is nowhere in particular” Golding William, The Spire,

“There is no mysterious essence we can call a ‘place’. Place is change. It is motion killed by the mind, and preserved in the amber of memory.”  Baker, J. A. , The Peregrine

“The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest.”
― Kurt Vonnegut



Winifred Gallagher, The Power of Place, Harper Perennial, 1994.


Myrick; The-power-of-place-a-new-dimension-for-sustainable-development/




[i] Les Reveries du Promeneur Solitaire;

I used to sit on the beach by the lakeside in some hidden refuge. There, the sound of the waves and the stirring of the water held my senses still, drove out of my mind all other kinds of agitation, and immersed it in a delightful reverie. Night often crept upon me without my noticing…

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Sustainability – some thoughts;
A book called Cannibals With Forks by John Elkington (The Triple Bottom Line of 21st C Business – Capstone publishing 1997/9 and reissued ISBN 1-84112-064-7 paperback)
In the book Elkington claims to have come up with the term Sustainability when forming the London-based think-tank and consultancy in 1987 ‘SustinAbility’ however it is generally acknowledged that the Club of Rome’s (1972) book ‘The Limits to Growth’ was the first modern day use of the term as we know it.
(as defined However the group did come up with the concept of The triple mission of ‘foresight, agenda setting and change management’. – This leads in turn to the ‘core concept’ introduced in Cannibals With Forks  Elkington J.Capstone, 1999, of the Triple Bottom Line, against which “individual businesses and increasingly, entire economies will be held to account and have to perform as we move into the 21st century”.
Given that competition (and corporate cannibalism) will always be “one of the most driving forces in biological, economic and social systems, how can we get competitive corporations to switch to sustainable development”.  He goes on to explain that this has all the implications of the biggest furthest-reaching experiment currently on Planet Earth’ – furthermore the startling fact is that the interest of the world is guaranteed by the fact that the “future of 6-billion of today’s global citizens and tens of billions of their descendants ride on the outcome.
I can empathise a lot with the video The Story of Stuff
– we do our best and recycle 99%+ of our ‘stuff’ however as pointed out some of  what we ‘recycle’ is in fact un-recyclable – it’s a sad fact that while Ireland needs 1.23 earth’s to sustain ‘our’ way of living – USA needs 3.78 x earth – just a present day levels  – but it’s growing exponentially. Anne is right we need to think differently and education is the ONLY way to start – well that or total annihilation of humans. Something that Al Gore sees as ‘a way forward’ but far more worryingly the Christian Right see as the best way forward as then “The Lord Jesus will return and gather up the Righteous”. I am considered nuts by some – I’m not THAT nuts.
Raising the Flag

Peter & Frances Brennan raising the Flag

Using Social Media – better

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Some notes – as I find them on making better (business) use of the various Social Media forms.


Here’s a video that is all about where to get the best source of FREE traffic for your online business There’s nothing for sale (and you DON’T need to optin).


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Some thoughts and sites and pictures of Eco – Ideas.

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Checklist for your own home or business; 

CHECKLIST                                                                                                     YES NO
Measuring and monitoring – Have you…                                                                                       
 Reviewed your monthly gas and electricity bills?
 Have you checked that your MIC meets your needs?
 Read your meter frequently?
 Established your baseline/out-of-ours energy use?
 Considered sub-metering?
Large Equipment – Have you…..
 Identified your major energy using equipment?
 Surveyed your large equipment usage/requirements
Lighting– Have you…
 Conducted a survey of your light fittings?
 Considered replacing bulbs and fittings with more efficient bulbs/fittings?
 Considered installing timers and sensors?
 Made the most of available natural light?
Refrigeration– Have you….
 Made sure your refrigeration temperatures are set correctly?
 Ensured fridges and freezers are not overstocked?
 Installed timers on display fridges and vending machines?  
 Installed strip curtains in cold rooms?
 Ensured your fridges/freezers are regularly defrosted?
 Checked that fridge/freezer door seals are in good repair?
Hot water – Have you….
 Ensured pipes and tanks are well insulated?
 Fitted timers?
 Ensured water is heated to o optimum temperature and fitted thermostats?
Heating – Have you…
 Ensured your boiler is serviced regularly?
 Ensured doors and windows are kept closed when heating is on?
 Considered zoning your heating?
Ventilation and air conditioning – Have you….
 Made use of natural ventilation where possible?
 Kept fans, air-ducts etc. in good repair?
Procedures, staff awareness and training – Have you…..
 Communicated to staff the importance of energy conservation?
 Trained staff to switch off equipment when not in use or out-of hours?

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A Solar Energy System That You Can Put Together in Your Garage

by  on OCTOBER 17, 2012 Original article:

  • Wouldn’t it be great if generating solar energy at home was:
  • A Do-it-Yourself project you could build using the tools in your garage
  • Built with inexpensive, commonly available materials
  • Modular like a LEGO block that you can snap in to lots of different places where you need it

It can be.

Here’s an example.  It’s called the Solar Flower.  It’s an open source hardware project that was built by Daniel Connell while in Spain.

What is the Solar Flower?  It’s a system that makes it easy to turn sunlight into heat.

Here’s what it looks like.

As you can see in the picture above, sunlight is captured by a U-shaped reflective surface (technically, a parabolic trough).    This reflected sunlight is then focused onto a black copper tube that runs along the length of the system.

Naturally, this makes the copper tube very hot, which in turn heats whatever liquid you want to run through it.

Of course, the Solar Flower only really works if it is facing the sun.

To do that, Daniel built an ingenious (which is often best measured by how simple the solution offered is) passive solar tracking system.  This system doesn’t use electric motors or sensors to track the sun.

To accomplish this, Daniel built a small solar oven that he filled with ethanol (it expands when heated).   Experiments showed that the sun would heat the ethanol enough to turn some gears that would rotate the main reflective surface.  So, Daniel placed the solar oven in a place where it would only “see” the sun just as it was just passing by the optimal angle for the main surface (angled slightly to the “west” of the angle the Flower was pointing).

That plus some simple modifications makes the Solar Flower a solar energy system that you can install and forget.   To make one of your own, Daniel has put together some excellent tutorials.

What do you Do with a Solar Flower?

Anything that involves heating fluids up.  That includes:

  • Heating hot water for your home.
  • Heating small spaces like a greenhouse.
  • Generating electricity from steam.
  • Purifying water.
  • Smokeless cooking.
  • Making biochar.

Basically, lots of great DiY and easy to assemble project modules that you can plug into it.

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Buy Some Compost and get Free Hot Water?

by on July 12, 2012

Here’s a very cool system that I’m currently considering as part of my home’s resilient make-over.  You might be interested in this too.

What is it?  It’s a system that uses a compost pile to produce hot water.

Specifically, this system turns the waste heat of the compost pile you need for your gardening, into something you can use to wash the dishes or heat an ad hoc greenhouse.

I like it because it allows me to take something I’m already doing (making compost for my garden) and do something else productive with it at the same time.

Compost piles as hot water heaters

How does it work?  Well, we all know that compost piles generate heat as part of the decomposition process.  How much heat?  A large, well balanced (nitrogen/carbon), and aerate compost pile can get up to 120-140 degrees for as long as six months, depending on the size of the pile.

It’s certainly not a new technique, it’s been used for thousands of years by farmers to keep livestock warm during the winter.  However, in the last century, the resilient tinkerer Jean Pain resurrected it as a way to generate a) methane for cooking/driving and b) hot water heat for his home/barn.

In the process, he developed some pretty interesting designs (see right) and reignited interest in it as a way to locally produce energy.

For my purposes, and perhaps yours, the system I’m considering would be much more modest.  The reason?  While I have a need for garden compost, I don’t have the need, space, or time required for a huge pile of loose compost.

Instead, I do have space for a less ambitious small system that can a) pre-heat hot water for home use or b) heat a greenhouse.

The resilient home compost heating system?

What would a system like that look like?  Of course, in today’s world, systems that are this innovative aren’t available.  You are going to need to build it as a do-it-yourself project to take advantage of it.

Here are two examples for how to do that.

The pictured system uses hay bales as the walls of the container, garden hose for the piping, and 55 gallon drums as a reservoir.  Pretty slick.

A second approach is to lay out the compost and the piping horizontally, so it can act as the floor of a greenhouse as this family in Oregon did.  They were able to generate at least 90 degree water for 18 months from their system and grow plants outdoors during the winter.

Where do we go from here?

I’d like to see this become a resilient business opportunity.

What do I mean?

Composting is already a big part of the resilient lifestyle (people that don’t compost are throwing wealth away) and efforts to permanently integrate it into a home’s design are already underway.

So, the idea that local professionals will install and maintain permanent composting systems that allow both fast and efficient composting as well as heat isn’t that much of a leap.

It even open ups the potential for deliveries of the composting material you need in bulk (as a supplement to what you already produce), on an annual basis.   For example: a delivery of pulped wood/sawdust or shredded leaves to beef up your home’s supply, in a fashion similar to how a septic tank gets emptied or an oil tank filled, isn’t really that strange of an idea.

Finally, it gets even more interesting when you think about the productive impact of a home scale greenhouses that incorporate composting as a heat source — see picture and click for more info.

Hope this gets you thinking,


Notes – long and short for College

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Many have argued that the Internet renders strategy obsolete.

In reality, the opposite is true. Because the Internet tends to weaken industry profitability without providing proprietary operational advantages, it is more important than ever for companies to distinguish themselves through strategy. The winners will be those that view the Internet as a complement to, not a cannibal of, traditional ways of competing.

Strategy and the Internet, Michael E. Porter; HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW pg 62

March 2001.


Additional Pricing Strategies

Psychological Pricing.

  • This approach is used when the marketer wants the consumer to respond on an emotional, rather than rational basis.
  • For example Price Point Perspective (PPP) 0.99 Cents not 1 Euro.
  • Consumers use price as an indicator of all sorts of factors, especially when they are in unfamiliar markets.
    • Consumers might practice a decision avoidance approach when buying products in an unfamiliar setting.
    • Price may be an indication of quality or benefits in unfamiliar markets.


Product Line Pricing.

Where there is a range of products or services the pricing reflects the benefits of parts of the range.


Optional Product Pricing.

  • Companies will attempt to increase the amount customers spend once they start to buy.
  • Optional ‘extras’ increase the overall price of the product or service.
    • For example airlines will charge for optional extras such as guaranteeing a window seat or charging extra for additional luggage or extra legroom.


Captive Product Pricing

  • Where products have complements, companies will charge a premium price since the consumer has no choice.
  • For example razor manufacturers, printer manufacturers etc.


Product Bundle Pricing.

  • Here sellers combine several products in the same package.
  • For example Tesco ‘Finest’ Meal Deal for two, or their ‘Movie Nights In’ bundle.
  • It is a good way of moving slow selling products, and in a way is another form of promotional pricing.


Promotional Pricing.

  • Pricing to promote a product is a very common application.
  • For example BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free), money off vouchers and discounts.


Geographical Pricing.

  • Geographical pricing sees variations in price in different parts of the world.
  • For example rarity value, or where shipping costs increase price.


Value Pricing.

  • This approach is used where external factors such as recession or increased competition force companies to provide value products and services to retain sales.


Time Management

Summary of Randy Pausch’s Time Management Lecture

Randy Pausch was an American professor who taught computer science and human-computer interaction at the Carnegie Mellon University. He founded the ALICE software project which acted as an animation design tool for mid-school children and thus introduce them to the concepts of Computer programming. He was known for the many lectures he had given, specifically his “Last lecture” titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” as he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
and the doctors explained that he didn’t have much time. One of his other well known lectures was on Time management that he presented at the University of Virginia on November 27, 2007.

Pausch was an intellectual who was humorous and courageous, cracking jokes while offering valuable advice on life and giving insights into his areas of expertise. In his time management lecture, he gave a number of ways in which people can work out and plan their activities and thus get more things done and be able to spend more time for their leisure or with their loved ones. Some of the strategies I liked in his lecture include, first and foremost, the four quadrant priority deadline rubric which I feel is the most important habit one must develop if he is to start “managing his time”. Next is keeping time journals which help to keep a check on oneself and shows us what we actually do (and can do) with the time we have on our hands. Of course, planning is essential to success and as Randy Pausch says, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”, we must plan our life and then change it according to our requirements but we can only change it if we have one. Also, scheduling oneself and then deciding on “making” time for the important things based on their opportunity cost will help a person very much and at the same time, he also learns to sacrifice time for the stuff that actually do not matter to him. One habit which I find very useful for me as I am a student is the habit of creating fake classes. I spend nine hours at my university with my courses taking up only four hours. The “free” five hours is a lot of prime time to be wasted if it were not for these fake classes which “magically”     reduce the workload I have to do in my home. As he explains, nobody has more or less time but it is how one uses his time that gets more or less of his work done. I would       like to end my summary by quoting an old saying which Dr.Gabriel Robins, a professor of computer science at the University of Virginia and a friend of Randy Pausch said, “Talent does what it can, Genius does what it must”.


10 part lesson from Dr Rob Rawson

Dr Rob Rawson

When making a phone call, start with the goal for the call “I have this I want to accomplish today with you”, it will keep things focused.

Rob Rawson is a successful Internet entrepeur who travels the world whilst managing his team of around 50 people (remotely). Rob is an expert at Time Management techniques and in working in a virtual company …. . no office costs, the ability to hire from any city in any country in the world and generally dramatically reduced costs. Also if done right the team is more productive in a virtual environment, working from home, especially if using the Time Doctor software.


Notes for Class

Four Destructive Myths Most Companies Still Live By

Myth #1: Multitasking is critical in a world of infinite demand.

This myth is based on the assumption that human beings are capable of doing two cognitive tasks at the same time. We’re not. Instead, we learn to move rapidly between tasks. When we’re doing one, we’re actually not even aware of the other.

If you’re on a conference call, for example, and you turn your attention to an incoming email, you’re missing what’s happening on the call as long as you’re checking your email. Equally important, you’re incurring something called “switching time.” That’s the time it takes to shift from one cognitive activity to another.

On average, according to researcher David Meyer, switching time increases the amount of time it takes to finish the primary task you were working on by an average of 25 percent. In short, juggling activities is incredibly inefficient.

Difficult as it is to focus in the face of the endless distractions we all now face, it’s far and away the most effective way to get work done. The worst thing you can do as a boss is to insist that your people constantly check their email.

Myth #2: A little bit of anxiety helps us perform better.

Think for a moment about how you feel when you’re performing at your best. What adjectives come to mind? Almost invariably they’re positive ones. Anxiety may be a source of energy, and even motivation, but it comes with significant costs.

The more anxious we feel, the less clearly and imaginatively we think, and the more reactive and impulsive we become. That’s not good for you, and it also has huge implications if you’re in a supervisory role.

As a boss, your energy has a disproportionate impact on those you lead, by virtue of your authority. Put bluntly, any time your behavior increases someone’s anxiety — or prompts any negative emotions, for that matter — they’re less likely to perform effectively.

The more positive your energy is, the more positive their energy is likely to be, and the better the likely outcome.

Myth #3: Creativity is genetically inherited, and it’s impossible to teach.

In a global economy characterized by unprecedented competitiveness and constant change, nearly every CEO hungers for ways to drive more innovation. Unfortunately, most CEOs don’t think of themselves as creative, and they share with the rest of us a deeply ingrained belief that creativity is mostly inborn and magical.

Ironically, researchers have developed a surprising degree of consensus about the stages of creativity and how to approach them. Our educational system and most company cultures favor reward the rational, analytic, deductive left hemisphere thinking. We pay scant attention to intentionally cultivating the more visual, intuitive, big picture capacities of the right hemisphere.

As it turns out, the creative process moves back and forth between left and right hemisphere dominance. Creativity is actually about using the whole brain more flexibly. This process unfolds in a far more systematic — and teachable — way than we ordinarily imagine. People can quickly learn to access the hemisphere of the brain that serves them best at each stage of the creative process — and to generate truly original ideas.

Myth #4: The best way to get more work done is to work longer hours.

No single myth is more destructive to employers and employees than this one. The reason is that we’re not designed to operate like computers — at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time.

Instead, human beings are designed to pulse intermittently between spending and renewing energy. Great performers — and enlightened leaders — recognize that it’s not the number of hours people work that determines the value they create, but rather the energy they bring to whatever hours they work.

Rather than systematically burning down our reservoir of energy as the day wears on, as most of us do, intermittent renewal makes it possible to keep our energy steady all day long. Strategically alternating periods of intense focus with intermittent renewal, at least every 90 minutes, makes it possible to get more done, in less time, more sustainably.

Want to test the assumption? Choose the most challenging task on your agenda before you go to sleep each night over the next week. Set aside 60 to 90 minutes at the start of the following day to focus on the activity you’ve chosen.

Choose a designated start and stop time, and do your best to allow no interruptions. (It helps to turn off your email.) Succeed and it will almost surely be your most productive period of the day. When you’re done, reward yourself by taking a true renewal break.


Interesting and informative paper on Big-Brother from work sitting on one’s (working !) shoulder