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RECYCLE THE 10 GREATEST BUSINESS IDEAS OF ALL TIME

Posted by on Mar 26, 2019 in Blog | 1 comment

RECYCLE THE 10 GREATEST BUSINESS IDEAS OF ALL TIME

If you want to succeed, don’t innovate. Imitate. Andrew Black – known to his friends and close associates as “Bert” or “Bertie” – is the greatest genius and innovator I know. Except he didn’t really innovate. He tweaked an old idea and used it in a new context, and made a firm worth over $3 billion. He invented the idea of person-to-person betting, cutting out the bookmaker. As a brilliant mathematician, professional gambler, and technology geek, he was ideally suited to do this.  As a result, he made himself and many other people – including...

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THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION EVER?

Posted by on Mar 12, 2019 in Blog | 1 comment

THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION EVER?

Today I’d like to introduce you, if you haven’t read it, to one of the best science fiction books ever, and even if you don’t like SF, you should read this book.  It’s of the same quality as 1984 and Animal Farm, and I’m promoting this book to the top three of ‘political science fiction’ books, along with Orwell’s two classics.  It’s also a great work of fiction, a novel which can be read for pure pleasure.  Most of all I love it because it made me think about our current political situation, in the broadest possible sense.  It has made me...

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TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR STUDENTS

Posted by on Feb 26, 2019 in Blog | 5 comments

TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR STUDENTS

Sean Abrahams from the University of Cape Town has asked me to say briefly my advice to students wishing to develop their potential and possibilities.  Here are my Ten Commandments:   1. Do your own thing. Yes, I know. It’s very 1960s. But it’s very 2010s and 2020s too. Even more so.  Because today if there is one thing which depresses me about people in their teens and twenties, it is how conventional they often are.  Everyone follows the prescribed path. Think about it.  Everyone wants exceptional results and possibilities.  But if you...

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IN PRAISE OF REVOLUTIONARY CONSERVATISM

Posted by on Feb 12, 2019 in Blog | 1 comment

IN PRAISE OF REVOLUTIONARY CONSERVATISM

I had a most interesting and gratifying experience last week in Stellenbosch, South Africa, where I attended the Freshers Event at the University.  This is a very long tradition – each year at the start of their university degree, the freshmen and freshwomen at each college create a song and dance routine to entertain each other, their parents, and anyone who wants to attend.  The productions are of surprisingly high quality, lasting around 20 minutes or so, and repeated all evening so that audiences totaling several thousand can...

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THE FALLACY OF LOYALTY

Posted by on Jan 23, 2019 in Blog | 5 comments

THE FALLACY OF LOYALTY

Corporate loyalty – the idea that you should be loyal to a corporation and it should be loyal to you – is a lie, at best a benign illusion that belongs to the past; at worst, a crude attempt at manipulation and a denial of the virtues of the market. But there are other kinds of loyalty, and these are the essence of good living. The Fallacy of Corporate Loyalty When I joined Shell International – the elite managerial part of the oil company – at the age of 21, I heard a lot about loyalty.  Shell was a most interesting company, at least to...

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TOWARDS THE POST-PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC

Posted by on Jan 8, 2019 in Blog | 2 comments

TOWARDS THE POST-PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC

Guest Post by Marx Acosta-Rubio Can we get beyond the Protestant work ethic, which Richard damned, in a recent post? Richard says that hard work does not equal success, and isn’t even desirable. IF hard work isn’t the key to success, then what is? But I’d like to propose something different – the ‘Post-Protestant Work Ethic’. 1. Maybe we need to redefine the term “work” Work has been termed a negative thing recently. We either love our work, hate our work or have to do work. But the truth of the matter is that in today’s world, work just...

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IN PRAISE OF INACTION

Posted by on Dec 11, 2018 in Blog | 2 comments

IN PRAISE OF INACTION

“I’ve looked in history for heroes who became heroes for what they did not do, but it is hard to observe nonaction; I could not easily find any.”  The inimitable Nicholas Nassim Taleb, of course. Here are three off the top of my head. Probably the greatest was Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor – prime minister – of Prussia from 1862, then in supreme power for twenty-seven years, as Prussia mutated and expanded into the North German Confederation and then into the German Empire.  His career fell into two distinct periods.  Up to 1871 he was an...

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KOCH & PETERSON ON FRIENDS

Posted by on Nov 27, 2018 in Blog | 2 comments

KOCH & PETERSON ON FRIENDS

“Without relationships we are either dead to the world – or dead. Although banal, this is true: friendships are at the heart of our lives … what on earth has this got to do with the 80/20 principle?  The answer is quite a lot.  There is a trade-off between quality and quantity and we consistently under-cultivate what is most important.” “If you have a friend whose friendship you wouldn’t recommend to your sister, or your father, or your son, why would you have such a friend for yourself? … You should choose people who want friends to be...

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LIBERATE YOURSELF FROM THE PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC

Posted by on Nov 13, 2018 in Blog | 6 comments

LIBERATE YOURSELF FROM THE PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC

What do you detest?  There will be many different answers from you all.  But I bet that none of you have this rather eccentric answer of mine – I detest the Protestant work ethic. Now, this may seem strange.  The Protestant ethic was discussed in a seminal series of articles by the great German sociologist, Max Weber, in 1904-5.  Weber argued that Protestantism glorified the calling of workers and craftsmen, and that this dedication to hard work facilitated the emergence and triumph of capitalism.  Weber quoted extensively from Benjamin...

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SAINTS ANCIENT & MODERN

Posted by on Oct 30, 2018 in Blog | 5 comments

SAINTS ANCIENT & MODERN

In researching my next book, I’ve taken nineteen people, some dead, some alive, who were in my opinion, “unreasonably successful” – that is, they achieved much more than might have been expected of them, and in some cases despite, or because of, marked character flaws.  What has struck me as worthy of comment – though this is not a theme of the book – is how two of the most important and saintly characters, who racked up a fantastic achievement in their life which benefitted millions of people, had thoroughly unsuccessful personal lives.  I...

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