1. The Age of Innovation Part 1: Influential Technologies of the Last Decade - What are your picks? http://bit.ly/1myDibH http://ift.tt/1pIDl92

     

  2. The Innovation Age Part 1: Influential Technologies of the Last Decade

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    Do you remember a time before Google? A time when cars only ran on gasoline and ‘mobile computing’ meant calculating how long you had to run to work off that latte? The last ten years has seen a seismic shift in the tools we use to go about our daily lives. In this first of a two part series, we’ll take a brief look at three influential innovations over the last decade. In part two we’ll put on our shiny prognostication hat and look ahead to the next decade and the emerging technologies that will change our world. (Spoiler: It looks nothing like the Jetson’s.)

    Next Generation Electric Cars

    We truly are a culture of the automobile. It’s almost impossible to imagine our world without cars. As with all good things, however, there was a price to be paid. Air and noise pollution from oil and gas-fueled automobiles threatened to choke our largest cities. New thinking was required. When inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk began delivering Tesla Roadsters to customers in 2008, that new thinking had arrived. Telsa’s plug in electric vehicles’ sales jumped from just 19 in 2010 to roughly 95,000 as of June 2013. The world was hungry for change.

    User-Generated Content

    In February 2005, the video-sharing website YouTube launched and rapidly became a pop culture mainstay. For the first time, the average person had unprecedented influence over the media. With just a handheld video camera (or even a phone), anyone in the world could record and broadcast newsworthy events or cat videos. International bloggers started telling stories swept under the rug by authoritarian regimes. User-edited Wikipedia became (and remains) the resource of choice for people around the world. The user-generated movement became so compelling that in 2006 Time magazine named “You” its Person of the Year. As musician and Queen of Twitter Amanda Palmer (whose album and tour was funded through a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign) often proclaims to her fans, “We are the media.”

    As you may imagine, social media is the primary vehicle for this new wave of user-generated content. Through it, we’ve brought about change in the world, such as the massive fundraising campaigns for the Haiti earthquake in 2010, redefined journalism – the death of Osama Bin Laden was being reported on Twitter before the major news outlets caught wind of it – and created entertainment stars like Justin Bieber. (Well… Nobody’s perfect.)

    Mobile Computing

    There was a time when a ‘computer’ was a beige (or if you were really cool, black) box on your desk, attached to a monitor, keyboard and mouse. It was a ‘home’ or ‘office’ device. The idea of being ‘mobile’ usually meant using a notebook computer, a device that in those days weighed almost as much as the desktop model, making it less than ideal to carry about all day. Fast-forward a few years, and while of course desktop computers still exist, they are rapidly being replaced with more compact and light notebook computers. Another fast growing group have decided to forgo the traditional form factor entirely, opting for a handheld device like a tablet or smartphone. People are now composing documents, making music and even editing videos on portable devices that weigh about the same as a desktop computer’s keyboard. Increasingly, smartphones and tablet are being used as primary computing devices. CCS Insight, a telecommunications analyst firm, predicts that by 2017 more mobile devices will be in use than there are people on the planet – about 6.6 billion, if you were wondering.

    These are just a few of the technologies that have altered our world in the last decade. There are many more of course, the mapping of the human genome, surgical robotics, the ostrich pillow, etc.

    Next week, we’ll be looking into the future to predict the most influential innovations that are still to come. In the meantime, what do you think was the most influential piece of technology from the last decade?

     

  3. The week has come to an end and that means it’s time for another #FamousFriday artist profile! This week we’re looking at Halifax-born orchestrated-pop group The Heavy Blinkers! Check them out here on their track “Where You Go” from their 2013 release, ‘Health’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APJuYnFLPwE

     

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    Every day is an new opportunity to do something amazing. What extraordinary thing will you do today? 

     

  5. Six Minutes of Courage

    Pubic speaking. Few things instill more fear in people than the idea of speaking in front of others. As has been shown countless times in surveys, the average person fears public speaking even more than death. As Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once adroitly observed, “That means you’d rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy!”

    One form of public speaking that inspires a particularly potent fear reaction is stand up comedy. Standing on a stage, armed only with a microphone and material that you hope will make people laugh is not most people’s idea of fun. It is however an incredibly empowering experience, even when it doesn’t work.

    Comedian George Carlin once said that, from the performer’s perspective, the entire point of comedy was, “Dig me!” implying that most comics have an overactive need for attention. That may be partially true, but there is another factor at work here.

    Stand up comedy, more so than any other type of public speaking, is an adrenaline rush. The risks involved are far greater (and far more visceral) than they are when presenting that sales report. Odds are, if your presentation doesn’t go over as well as you’d like, you’ll still get polite applause. With comedy, you don’t wait until the end to see how it’s working – the response (or lack thereof) of the audience will tell you what you need to know. The rewards however, are equally great.

    Performing on a stage is an act that gives both to the performer, and to the audience. For the audience, laughter releases endorphins into the body, relieves stress, and (according to doctors) boosts the immune system. For the performer, there is an almost electric connection that forms when your audience seems to say, “Yes, we understand, that is funny!”

    That said, sometimes the opposite occurs. You deliver a particularly good bit, but it falls flat. It could be the material, the delivery, the audience, there’s no way to know for sure. The feeling of failure (or ‘bombing’ as it’s called) can be devastating and embarrassing, for both the performer and the audience.

    So why do it you ask? Why stand on stage and put yourself out there, exposed and raw, taking the chance of your hard work falling flat? As with any risk, you must balance the benefits against the drawbacks. On one hand, you might suffer momentary embarrassment. On the other, you’re doing something very few people have the courage to do (perform in a comedy club). You’re also making people happy. Not bad for six minutes of courage.

     

  6. Leadership - Do You Have What It Takes?

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    The willingness to take risks is a trait common to all great leaders - blazing new trails ultimately leads to greater success and inspires the people that surround these individuals. Leaders have courage as a trait too, courage to move into new areas while others wait for better circumstances, or assured results. If there is a theme to doing business in the 21st century, then it has to be, “Innovation through consistent reinvention.”

    The leaders who truly change the world recognize three key benefits of risk taking that allow them to truly make a difference in their organizations and in themselves. They are: awareness, enthusiasm and knowledge.

    Awareness

    One of the greatest benefits of risk taking is that it increases awareness. Being openminded allows you to see opportunities for innovation that others may not, which will in turn inspire your teams to open their minds and encourage strategic risks.

    Enthusiasm

    We all know how infectious enthusiasm can be. Watch any speaker who communicates with unbridled passion, and you will often find yourself caught up in the emotion of the moment, even if the subject is not one in which you were initially interested. Being enthusiastic about the projects you’re working on will build morale and help alleviate fears over perceived risks.

    Knowledge

    Taking a risk is the best way, indeed often the only way, to increase your knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. The phrase “it can / can’t be done” is based as much on belief as it is on factual information. By increasing your knowledge either through past experience or through research, you gain much needed insight as to the viability of a particular project, and can therefore manage its risk more effectively.

    In the end, great leaders promote innovation by cultivating risk-taking in themselves and empowering their teams to make calculated decisions, adjusting strategies when they don’t work. When you encourage your people to bring new ideas to the table and trust them to take managed risks, you end up with a team of innovators focused on growing the organization.

    So, are you ready to tap into your (and your team’s) inner mad genius and take the risks that will propel your organization to the next level?

     

  7. It’s Friday and that means another #FamousFriday artist profile! This week, we’re taking a look at (and a listen to) The Trews. Originally from Antigonish, Nova Scotia and now based in Toronto, this four-man band have been making fantastic music since 2002. Check out their track, ‘What’s Fair is Fair’ from their self titled 2014 album. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDkwOHkdHfQ

     

  8. U Can’t Touch This! Hip Hop Fashion in the 90’s

    From time to time we like to take a look back to see how much the world has changed, and how it has changed us. It’s eye opening, it’s informative, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

    So strap yourselves in kids, because Famous Folks is setting the Way-Back Machine (our Hot Tub Time Machine is in the shop) to a decade that was ‘all that and a bag of chips!’ Next stop: the 1990’s!

    The 1990’s were an era of cloned sheep, fighting in the Gulf and collapsing Soviet empires. We mourned the death of a Princess, celebrated the birth of the World Wide Web, and began our long love affair with mobile phones. The 90’s are now seen as a time of upheaval, when the only rule seemed to be: break the rules.

    This was particularly true in the world of fashion. Several fashion movements began in the 90’s, such as grunge, 70’s revival, and rave culture. For our purposes however, we’re going to focus on one movement in particular, one that exploded into the mainstream in the 1990’s, having slowly grown from the late 1970’s culture and music scene: Hip hop.

    This explosion was sparked by people like Karl Kani, a self-taught fashion designer from Brooklyn, New York, who merged his passions for hip hop music and fashion into unique urban street wear outfits that inspired many designers who followed him. As if in response to the dark, muted colours of the grunge look on the west coast, the 90’s saw hip hop performers such as The Fresh Prince, Kid ’n Play, and Left-Eye Lopez of TLC sporting bright, neon-coloured clothing and baseball caps. The styles were often riotously colourful, with oversized baseball and bomber jackets becoming go-to fashion items for young people in urban areas.

    As the decade progressed, more brands started catching on to the fact that hip hop was more than just another musical style, it was a lifestyle, with an evolving, and incredibly dynamic fashion sense all its own. Clothing brands such as FUBU, Adidas, Ecko Unlimited, Mecca USA, Lugz, Rocawear, Boss Jeans by IG Design, and of course Nike (who DIDN’T own a pair of Air Jordans?) arose to capitalize on the market for urban street wear. The buzzword during this time was ‘bling-bling’ (later shortened to bling), created by hip hop artist Lil Wayne. It referred to the opulent, even gaudy jewelry and accessories worn by rappers and hip hop artists of the day.

    It’s easy now to look back at the hip hop fashion of the 90’s and dismiss it as a time of excess, but that is missing a fundamental point. (Let’s not even talk about the 80’s.) Fashion in general, and hip hop fashion in particular, is about personal expression. Many rappers and hip hop artists came from low income, sometimes violent backgrounds, and in many ways the colourful clothing and garish lifestyle was a response to that. 

    More importantly, there is courage in expressing oneself, through music, art or fashion. The trailblazers of the hip hop fashion movement have created styles that are still with us over a decade and a half later. The same cannot be said for Tamagotchi, bleached hair, Furby or (thankfully) the Macarena.

    Since the 90’s we’ve seen the rise of hip hop artists such as the Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, a Tribe Called Quest and Eminem just to name a few. To say that these artists have had and will continue to have an influence on fashion is an understatement. The cultural impact of hip hop shows no sign of fading away, and that’s fine by us.

    Tell us about your fashion memories of the 90s!

     

  9. This week’s #FamousFriday artist profile is Halifax-based Gypsophilia! A group of eclectic young performers whose music mixes gypsy jazz with klezmer, funk, classical music, indie rock, and bebop, you can hear their unique sound at the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival on August 8th, but in the meantime, here’s a taste - “Horska” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlFk92t8pXc

     

  10. We’ve all made decisions that felt ‘risky’ at the time, but that, for better or worse, ended up changing our lives. Tell us about yours!