Thursday, 23 December 2010

Julian Assange, Wikileaks, and Changing the World

I watched Julian Assange's interview with John Humphrey's last night and it prompted me to write.

The part of his interview that I really like is about 20 minutes in when Assange was questioned by Humphrey's regarding his relationship with the world, his response as to the suggestion of him as some sort of a messianic figure (like it was some sort of a crime - which I find ironic since the members of Christian church are forever trying to become more Christlike and even part of the body of Christ). When asked somewhat accusingly 'So you want to change the world?', Assange replied, without any hesitation, 'Absolutely, the world has a lot of problems, the need to be reformed. We only live once and every person who has the ability to do something about it, if they are a person of good character, has the duty to try and fix the problems in the environment which they are in.'

Julian, you are so right, and I couldn't agree with you more. And why should such a belief be ridiculed or looked upon with suspicion?

Some time back in history, I believe maybe in America, economists worked out that in order for everyone to get wealthier, they need to become motivated to own more. And this motivation I believe was instilled into people and grown through use of the media as time went on. The only motivation that people therefore now seem to trust is the motivation to get rich(er). And yet any wise man will tell you that getting rich does not make you happy.

So what does make you happy? It's dead simple - doing good - helping others - fighting for what is right. Honest you don't have to be a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon to work that one out. It may not be easy, and you may get persecuted for it, and you may get little thanks - but deep down when you go to sleep at night you'll have peace, and it is that peace that will give you that deep rooted happiness that we would all like to feel on our death bed. In this interview Julian Assange spoke of that peace which he felt when he was in solitary confinement.

I'm not saying that Assange is perfect - none of us are - but to ultimately act on your conviction to do good, and to do what you are able to right the wrongs in this world, should ultimately be what we are all about. And if we all did keep this motivation clear in our minds, this true purpose of life - wow wouldn't the world would change overnight?

I spent years trying to realise this. I finally worked it out after a mid life crisis just over a year ago - and since then my life changed literally overnight.

Now it is something I try and teach my children. When my daughter asks what career she should be heading towards, I tell her it really doesn't matter, so long as you find a way of using your skills to do the most good you are able in this life - hopefully teaching her this important lesson now whilst she is young will save her a whole lot of mistakes and soul searching in her life and allow her to move on to a fruitful adulthood from the outset.

I recently had a debate with a business man regarding my motivation in life. The question was whether I was motivated by money. I have always been very ambitious - for one reason or another, maybe instilled in me from my father's teaching or maybe something I was born with, who knows? - and with ambition comes the desire to get rich as it is proof of one's ability in your career - yet I found that there was a conflict between materialism and altruism which stopped me moving forward with any conviction. Now I am sure of my motivation and priorities this is no longer an issue - getting rich gives one more power and therefore the ability to do greater good - so I can fit in the business motivation quite comfortably in align (yet always behind) the motivation to do good and move forward in business with the peace and conviction I was always looking for.

I figure the ultimate motivation to do good, to right the wrongs in this world, is one that we should all be recognising, living, and teaching our children. We should stop looking at those who already have realised this value with suspicion. The motivation to do good I believe would move money around in a new direction, and ensure a new vibrant economy, and a secure future for our children - a new world order to replace the materialistic world in which we currently live. Not only that, but having the ultimate motivation to change the world and do good is so much more exciting than trying to get rich - honest, it works for me, you should try it!

I believe people around the world are starting to realise this - largely in part to the new lines of communications we have via the Internet - as truth gets out, as the Bible states, it is that truth that sets us free. An exciting time in which I am glad to be living.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

What's Been Happening?

I've been going through a transitionary period just recently, adding another dot to my life that I am sure is a new connection in the bigger picture - although some may see it as a diversion. Sometimes in life opportunities come up that may not appear to be directly in line with where you want to go, but I am convinced that making the most of these occasions are often crucial to the fulfilment of what a person can ultimately achieve in life.

At such times I remind myself of Steve Job's lecture to Stanford regarding 'joining the dots' in life. As you start off in life these dots seems so random that you can make no sense of them at all, but as you move on in life they do start to make sense, and even though it may not be clear to everyone else watching, you feel inside yourself that they are all pulling you in the right direction.

So the latest dot in my life has been to take on a role in a new sustainable energy company, SUST-N, of which I am now Head of Communications.

So what about MedWorm? Well, believe it or not, that vision remains my number one priority, my ultimate passion, which I will see through to its fulfilment if it kills me. It must be near to 5 years that I have working on it now - nothing will stop me moving it forward.

So what of this new dot? How did it come about? What will I be doing? How do I propose to keep MedWorm running and moving forward?

Over the past 12 months I have been working (voluntarily) on a campaign to stop the building of a large scale incinerator to burn the municipal waste in South Devon. You can read more about the proposal and see me at action in the campaign on some of the videos on the site which I built. The campaign escalated over that time until it was becoming pretty much a full time job. Campaigning for something you really believe in is all encompassing and really doesn't stop, and of course it is all unpaid, which puts a big strain on family and work as everything competes for your limited time. It does however have its benefits too, and apart from the wonderful feeling of self-satisfaction that you are doing something for the benefit of society for truly altruistic reasons, I also gained many new wonderful friends with similar outlooks in life and a real concern for the sustainability of this planet and I learned what a wonderful neighbourhood I am privileged to live in. In addition, I was given the fantastic opportunity to develop my presentation and speaking skills, and build up my confidence, through public speaking, work on my strategic thinking, and put into practice effective communication plans through full use of the Internet - all essential elements of not only a successful campaign but also in business too.

Part of our campaign against the incinerator was the developing of an alternative plan that does not involve mass burn incineration. A group of engineers from the locality got together, tasked with finding an alternative. A concept was developed and contact made with a company whose plan matched our theory, and from that a business proposal was formed. We presented the concept to the public and our local councillors in December, and from there managed to secure funding to get the plan off the ground and formed a new commercial enterprise, of which I have taken on the position as Head of Communications. I have therefore now resigned from the incinerator campaign, and have passed the EcoIvy site over to the local community to run, since I cannot afford to put the new company in any compromising commercial position as a result of my own personal campaigning elsewhere in the industry. For me this now this is about moving from campaigning against a flawed plan to instead promoting what I believe is the ultimate solution.

My new position allows me to work flexibly, so I can still keep MedWorm running at the same time, and of course it gives me an income, which actually allows me to continue to run MedWorm without the concern that I could run out of funds any day. It also forces me to think strategically about the business side of MedWorm and how I am going to get it to profit, without doing every single job on it myself. Another great advantage is I now have the opportunity to work for and learn from Terry Hewitt, my new boss, SUST-N's managing director - who I liken to the South West's version of Lord Alan Sugar. Already I am learning the mindset of someone successful at big business, which is going to be invaluable for me with future affairs in growing my own business.

I've also registered a new domain name, (for an engineering flavour of MedWorm) to add to the many others I have on standby too (including so I know when I am ready to launch the other industry worms I'm going to have plenty of knowledge and contacts in those industries.

So what may appear at a first glance as a diversion, I hope you will understand is all just part of the journey.

I AM still very much working on MedWorm. My work at SUST-N involves a flexible working arrangement to enable me to do this. You can still contact me at anytime, as I can fit in my business calls whenever whenever I need to. This does mean that I am again working a few nights alongside my work in the day, but that's nothing new.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Vitamin D and Skin Cancer Through Windows

Ooops, over a month has passed since I posted to my blog. Figured I best write something. Been so busy with all kinds of things that I haven't known what to write.

Well here's a simple thing I learnt just this morning when tweaking a bit of MedWorm code to get rid of duplicates that were still creeping in. I ran a query on 'vitamin d levels', with the 'Exact phrase' and 'Blogs' options selected.

Made for interesting reading. In particular, I learnt something that I didn't know before - sounds so elementary that you probably already know this, but just in case you didn't I thought to share it.

I learnt that UVA light, which causes skin cancer, does actually get through normal glass, whereas UVB light, the one that generates the Vitamin B and apparently helps protect against skin cancer (plus a whole lot of other stuff) does not - and office workers are therefore apparently at increasingly higher risk of skin cancer than those people that work outdoors.

This is important news for me since skin cancer seems to run in my family. I have recently started wearing a moisturiser with sun screen, but not always if I I think I am not really going outside much. But my new office has a fabulous large window that I sit right next too, that lets in loads of sunshine.

So now I'll make sure to wear the sunscreen every day, as well as making sure to get outside when I can for the natural light, plus up my intake of oily fish.