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How multitasking and smart phones change human interaction

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I’ve had something of a busy travel schedule for the past 15 days, flying to the US for a series of board meetings, then working intensively with a new start-up client in New York during the last week of September. This week, I am back in Europe, preparing two corporate speeches, including one that takes me back to my former “hometown” of Grenoble, in the coming days.   My travel and projects have been compelling and all-absorbing, leaving less time than I would have liked for this blog. In fact, this trip left me wishing I had found a bit of “empty space” to write about these recent activities, or to continue on … Continue reading

Finding idleness in the swimming pool

John's reflections Leave a comment

In the last post, I commented that the lifestyle of Pico Iyer—a travel writer who lives unplugged from nearly all Internet and telecommunication technology for months on end in his apartment in Kyoto, Japan—is fascinating, but probably not practical for the rest of us. Then, I wrote something about my own approach to putting moments of stillness and reflection into a busy daily life, by doing something outdoors on my own almost every day.  All of this got me thinking about how others, in particular people who spend their professional lives immersed in the fast-moving, nonstop world of high tech, are able to build some type of idleness into their … Continue reading

My own search for stillness…or why I often ski alone

John's reflections Leave a comment

The last two posts—on idleness and stillness—have pushed me toward some further reading and exploring around these and other related concepts. While such subjects have been themes of my reflection in the past, it has been good to revisit them and to gather insight from some new sources.  Though they use somewhat different terminology, both Ricardo Semler and Pico Iyer state that they are most productive when their minds are at rest. In an apparent paradox, Semler proclaims that idleness is a state we should actively seek, because learning to be idle will make us more effective in our work and our lives. He laments the bad reputation that idleness seems … Continue reading


John's reflections, Storytelling Leave a comment

One of the things I like most about writing a blog is receiving messages, comments and suggestions from readers. After last week’s post about Ricardo Semler’s views on idleness, someone wrote to ask if I had seen a TED talk by Pico Iyer called “The art of stillness”.  As I had never seen or heard of Pico Iyer, I first looked up some information about him. In fact, his life had fascinating beginnings. He was born Siddhartha Pico Raghavan Iyer in Oxford, England, the son of Indian parents. His father was Raghavan N. Iyer, a well-known Oxford philosopher and political theorist. His mother, also a noted academic, was the religious scholar … Continue reading

Praise for the idle mind

John's reflections, leadership Leave a comment

On a long overnight flight this week, I watched a TED talk by Brazilian luminary Ricardo Semler, entitled “Work with no rules”.   Semler is the CEO and majority owner of Semco Partners, a Brazilian company known for its radical form of industrial democracy and corporate re-engineering. His innovative business management policies have attracted widespread interest around the world. His first book, Virando a Própria Mesa (“Turning Your Own Table”), is the best selling non-fiction book in the history of Brazil.  In his speech, Semco’s CEO makes the point that leisure time and idle time are not at all the same thing. We have come to think that the opposite of work is leisure. But, according to … Continue reading

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