Do people read anymore?

They say you should never speak ill of the dead, but Steve Jobs, widely considered to be a visionary, and to many a god, made some predictions that suggest he was neither omnipotent nor even particularly far-sighted.

In 2008, for example, he suggested the Amazon Kindle was doomed to failure. Here’s the full quote from the New York Times:

It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore… Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.

Let’s put aside the fact that referring to less than one book is a either a peculiar way of saying “no books” or a missed opportunity to delve into the fascinating world of book fractions. And let’s ignore the fact he was flat out wrong about the success of the device. And let’s, for a moment, look at his reasoning: “People don’t read anymore.”

He said it twice. He must have been sure about it. Continue reading

On Brighton Grammar’s bullying article

Try hard

Earlier this week a private boys’ school in Melbourne got a lot of unwanted media attention for publishing an article on its website on the topic of bullying.

You can read the article here and Brighton Grammar’s responses to the uproar here.

The article was written by Melissa Anderson, who describes herself as a “resilience coach”. She’s also a counsellor and a pharmacist.

My first reaction to it was astonishment, disgust and a kind of despite-myself amusement. I admit, I spent a good half an hour ridiculing it on social media.

As I read and re-read it, though, I began to wonder: what if it deserved the benefit of the doubt? What if this wasn’t the work of a person with very bad ideas, but merely the work of a very bad writer?

What if somewhere past the corporate tinniness; deep within the thick, barely penetrable forest of the gardener anecdote; beyond the jarring non-sequiturs and sudden change in addressee there was something worthwhile?

What if this was… salvageable?

So I went through it as a kind of exercise in morbid curiosity. Here’s what I came up with: Continue reading

On delivering value

delivering value

The uniform I use when delivering value to clients

Value. is the world’s most precious resource. Every organisation desperately seeks it – from their employees, from their partners, from their copywriters, from their carpet and upholstery.

However, value is a bit different to other prized commodities. Unlike iron ore and gold, for example, it’s intangible, infinite and entirely subjective.

That doesn’t mean, though, we should strut around the office feeling confident that we’re all “value adders”. I mean, let’s be honest, we almost certainly are. Because value is so nebulous a concept, we can pretty well be unconscious at work, and as long as we’re not slumped on the CEO’s desk wearing only a doily, we can make a case that we’re “adding value”.

My point is that in 2015 adding value isn’t enough. It’s a bit passe, actually. We need to be delivering value to truly earn our swagger.

So how do we do that? Continue reading