What makes a great leader?
For Itay Talgam, it’s the ability to create an environment that inspires team members to exercise their creativity for the greater good. In this, one of my favourite TED talks, he illustrates his thesis brilliantly with clips of some of the great 20th century maestros.
The Downside of Meritocracy
Surely it’s good to think success is the reward for hard work? Well, not necessarily, says Alain de Botton. Talent isn’t evenly distributed, and luck always plays a big part in success and failure. Our belief that our achievements are solely down to individual effort means we tend to over-stigmatise those who fall short. How do we move from this rather brutal ethos to a more compassionate capitalism? Find out here.
Markets and Morals
Harvard Professor Michael Sandel has ruffled many a feather in the economics community by suggesting that markets are not simply a morally neutral mechanism for allocating goods. While they may be appropriate in some cases, in others they can fundamentally alter and corrupt the good they are supposed to distribute. Riveting and timely stuff.
TWITTER – WHO TO FOLLOW
@alaindebotton. Daily aphorisms and gems of wisdom
@iRowan. No better way to keep up with all the latest gadgets and tech trends.
@OpenEurope. Best commentary on the Eurozone crisis in the twittersphere, in my humble opinion.
@RoryStewartUK. One of the UK’s finest minds on politics and international affairs.
4 THINGS TO DO
1. Catch The Staves on their upcoming UK tour (April 18 – May 3). London dates are sold out, but beg/borrow/steal/murder for a ticket if you can. A trio of sisters who weave together harmonies of almost unimaginable beauty, their album, Dead & Born & Grown, is delicious and Winter Trees is easily one of my favourite songs of 2012.
2. If you’re a fan of still life painting, check out Royal Academy Painting Prize Winner – and my good friend – Stephen Rose – whose London show, The Hungry Eye, runs from April 22nd until May 3rd at Mark Mitchell Paintings, 17 Avery Row. I’ve seen the preparations, and his pictures look just stunning – a true master of his craft.
3. Go see Howard Brenton’s new play, #aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei (showing at the Hampstead Theatre until May 18th). Based on Barnaby Martin’s book, Hanging Man, it portrays the 3-month detention of the Chinese artist and dissident in 2011. I have tickets and I’m excited.
4. Visit Hong Kong. One of the great perks of my job is that I get to meet lots of interesting people in interesting places. I made it to Hong Kong twice last year, and both times I managed to find time to cross Victoria Bay at night and watch the light show. The 13 hour flight is worth it for this alone!
BOOKS TO READ
Justice: what’s the right thing to do? Michael J. Sandel
Yep, Sandel again. Here he provides a thrilling survey of the philosophical principles that underpin our daily moral and political discussions. In his humorous and self-deprecating style, he takes philosophy out of the ivory tower and places it at the heart of the everyday, demonstrating how it can illuminate our lives and enhance the quality of public debate.
Freedom. Jonathan Franzen
How should you exercise your liberty in a world filled with forces beyond your comprehension and control? A bit of a heavy theme, you may think, but Franzen’s portrait of a suburban family against the backdrop of modern America is as humorous and readable as it is devastating.
Any of the Flashman Books. George MacDonald Fraser
If you like history and fancy a laugh, then any of these classic yarns about a horny Victorian soldier gallivanting across the Empire behaving revoltingly should be right up your alley. Each book is a meticulously researched tour de force of wit and imagination.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking.”
John Maynard Keynes