Last week I laughed out loud listening to the BBC Radio 4 series with the brilliant British comedian David Mitchell. Its subject was whether manners are still important. It was hilariously funny but tackled a rather important subject.
As a kid growing up in Oz my father made sure we understood that manners meant something. Rudeness to elder relatives would be met with a wallop. Quite rightly so. In those un-PC days, it was not common to have your father dragged into court for giving a kid a damn good hiding for stepping severely out of line.
Because there are big shifts underway, folks, that are going to transform our lives.
The show is always an extraordinary mash up of techies, fans, business-leaders, and hacks. And every year there’s a load of hype about this or that new gizmo.
Last year everybody was obsessing about wearable tech, as the world waited for the launch of Apple’s smartwatch.
But the challenge, as ever, is to cut through the hype about gadgets, and to focus on the trends that are genuinely going to change our lives. Let’s not forget that CES was the venue for the launch of CDs, DVDs and 3D printers.
Can’t believe another year has gone by. I’m not usually into dwelling on the past but 2015 has been a standout year.
I went to Cuba for the first time, fell in love with the country and the people, and realised there’s a gigantic opportunity there to create something sustainable, and to scale, that will benefit Cubans and global investors. We’re building a fantastic business in Cuba, with some excellent local partners who have the rare benefit of being long-established and well-respected Cuban business people. I anticipate great strides ahead in the coming 12 months.
I stepped down from the boards of my London AIM listed companies: concluding with, at the end of the year, AfriAg, Rare Earth Minerals, Bacanora Minerals, Inspirit Energy, and Evocutis (one of the AIM pioneers dating back to 2003). Some people were surprised by this. But I’ve never made a secret of the fact that my job is to rescue dying or dead businesses, nurture fledgling businesses, get them into shape and get them funded, and in due course hand over to long-term professional management teams for the next stage of their growth.
As a businessman my job is to grow successful companies. And an important part of my job is explaining to the world what my businesses do. Social media is an essential tool for me to engage with customers, staff, suppliers, partners, investors, governments, and the world at large. There are a lot of people selling boot leather on the streets and my job is to rise above the pack and sell my shoes better.
Our businesses do not exist in isolation. They are part of the real world. They create jobs, build communities, and drive economic growth. So its right and proper that businesses explain, and engage with the people whose lives they touch.
The world is on the cusp of a brilliant new age of innovative human transportation – cars, trucks, trains and planes.
January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (where CDs, DVDs and 3D printers were first launched) might just be the touch-paper that ignites the electric vehicle (EV) firework.
Las Vegas is the venue for Herbert Diess, CEO of VW Passenger Cars revealing VW’s next all-electric concept vehicle. VW has been a bit sniffy about EVs in the past, but it needs to regain its car-manufacturing mojo and do something about its reputation after the recent emissions scandal.
VW has always been known for innovative technology, precision engineering, quality and an enviable global sales and distribution network. And with cash reserves of $32 billion its pockets are deep (even allowing for the €6.5 billion it has set aside to clear up the emissions mess). The emissions scandal should prove to be yesterday’s fish-n-chip paper as I think a lot of car manufacturers were cheating. Yes – even a few in the USA probably bent the rules a tad.
So I predict a big noise from VW in the EV market. And I also offer VW some advice – now is the time to get serious with a technical collaborator, a Google, Apple, or Tesla.
Today is a big anniversary for Cuba. One year ago to this day, Presidents Obama and Raúl Castro announced to the world that their countries would try to kiss and make up.
After the immediate euphoria it dawned on people that the world wasn’t going to change overnight. After all, the US embargo is enshrined in law so it’s going to take Congress to do something about it. And it takes two to tango. The Cuban government will also determine the pace at which US relations ‘normalise’. And Congress is Republican controlled with a large, deeply entrenched anti-Cuba lobby.
On the US front there has been some progress including, in the words of the US Embassy, “the direct transportation of mail, the environment, regulatory changes and counternarcotics efforts.” So far so good..