Bloggers represent South Africa at TEDGlobal Conference

Two of South Africa’s leading bloggers will be attending the first ever TEDGlobal conference in Arusha, Tanzania from 4-7 June 2007.

30 May 2007 (Johannesburg): South Africa will be represented by two of it’s most distinguished bloggers at the TEDGlobal Conference held in Africa for the first time.

TED (Technology Entertainment Design) is an annual conference held in Monterey, California and recently, semi-annually in other cities around the world as TEDGlobal. The presentations, normally limited to 20 minutes, cover a broad set of topics including science, arts, politics, global issues, architecture, music and more. The speakers themselves are from a wide variety of communities and disciplines.

Nine South Africans have been awarded Fellowships to attend. These Fellowships are sponsored by multinationals like AMD, GE and Google and covers the costs of attending the TEDGlobal conference for those who would not otherwise be able to attend.

“We are very excited to represent South Africa at such an important global conference,” says Ramon Thomas, Managing Director of NETucation, an online research and training organisation. “The conference will expose us to our counterparts in the rest of Africa, and we look forward to collaborating with them to build a new future for Africa.” Thomas will be bloggingu the conference at his www.netucation.co.za, which was a finalist in the Best Business Blog catergory at the SA Blog Awards recently.

The TED.com website has won accolades and awards for it’s video podcasts of the lectures. There are currently a 109 videos available for download from the website and every month new ones are released to the public from the most recent in 2007 going back to 2002 at the moment. The speakers include lumanaries such as Jane Goodal, Richard Dawkins, Ashraf Ghani, former Iraq Finance minister, and many more. Several of the videos focus on solutions for Africa and the thirds world in the areas of poverty alleviation, architecture and town planning.

The conference co-producer is, Emeka Okafor, who spoke with Thomas, at the first Blogging Indaba held at Rhodes University’s New Media Lab in September 2006. Okafor, is a Nigerian living in New York, and blogs about business in Africa at http://timbuktuchronicles.blogspot.com. TED invited him to act as program director because of his intimate knowledge of unusual entreprenerial business in Africa.

“I’m thrilled to be attending a TED conference after watching and learning from all the amazing video clips from past events available on their website.”, says Rafiq Phillips, one of the top 10 bloggers in South Africa and co-founder of iDRIVE.co.za – a driving school search egnine, has also been selected with Thomas to attend TEDGlobal as a Fellow. Phillips will be blogging his experiences at www.webaddict.co.za.

There are over 25 South Africans who will attend TEDGlobal as Fellows, attendees, speakers, performers and technicians.

For more on TEDGlobal please visit:
http://www.ted.com/index.php/pages/view/id/49

———————
MEDIA CONTACTS
———————

Ramon Thomas
Managing Director, NETucation
Mobile 082 940-7137
skype:ramon.thomas
mailto:ramon@netucation.co.za

Rafiq Phillips
Founder, Your Group of Web AddiCT(s)
Tel 021 591-3321
Cell 072 399-9888
skype:idrive.co.za
rafiq@idrive.co.za

 

Laughing meditation with Rasada Goldblatt

Tonight I attended my first ever laughing meditation run by my friend Rasada Goldblatt. The laughing meditation is a interesting and unusual way to to reconnect to self. While we did different laughing exercises I realised the moment I start thinking something in my past or something in my future – I would not laughing as hard. So laughing is a way to be in this moment.

It’s what Eckart Tolle describes in his book the Power of Now. This is something that I find very difficult to describe because we have so many constant distractions. We have thousands of different things that try to get our attention from people, to billboards, to cellphones, to email, to many other things. And all of this distracts you from being in the moment. Now something else I noticed as well is that the more grief you have experienced, the more laughter you can enjoy. It’s the opposites we live with, the duality of the the universe of time and space. The moment of “now” transcends time and space and is eternal. It’s like that brief moments of feeling completely free or awakened. And as they use to say in the Readers’ Digest: laughter is the best medicine!

Watch this clip from 3Talk with Noeleen featuring Ganda & Rasada.

 

Patricia de Lille vs MXit and the Bloggers

You may have heard Patricia de Lille speaking out on MXit and Blogging over the last few days. Well she was on 702/Cape Talk radio last night. I tuned in towards the tail end of the conversation. Dave Duarte, a blogger, stepped in to defend freedom of expression with blogging. I called in to make the listeners aware of the Parents Guide to MXit. And more importantly about the importance of education. One thing that you as a user should demand is that your service provider, whether cellphone, mobile or Internet based does more to educate the public at large.

The banks in South Africa, for example, have been suffering from increasing attacks of what is called phishing. They have posted some notices on their websites but I have seen little else in the form of reassuring the public. MXit has since responded to Patricia de Lille’s outrages request to have blogging and MXit regulated.

It is extremely difficult to regulate blogging because it’s on the Internet or rather the World Wide Web. As Herman Heunis, CEO of MXit Lifestyle said in his response to de Lille, even China with it’s massive investment in online censorship with firewalls, proxys and filters, cannot prevent all their citizens from speaking out. They successfully block a large portion but users or the community will always find a way to make it’s voice heard.

So what is your response to this as parents, citizens or some other stakeholder. My advice is that you apply more pressure on government to make basic computer literacy compulsory for all teachers, learners, civil servants. That is a good starting point. Next you can request from your ISP or favourite website that they support this online safety action campaign. All they have to do is start by putting a link to this website. They can also publish safety tips which I will gladly source for them to ensure it’s appropriate to their audience.

 

Dating Lessons from Borat

You may or may not have seen this clip before. Borat has certainly entered the mainstream with the hit movie from 2006. Borat in his usual casual style introduces the topic and explains in a bewildered manner how American women will not get married unless you date them first. Apparently where comes from, in Kazakhstan, you just go to the woman’s father and pay them. Sounds almost like lobola to me. The questions by the matchmaker with Borat’s responses is hilarious. One benefit from this kind of situation is that it helps you become clear about what you want, what you have to offer. The question of race is not a sensitive issue to Borat: he does not want a Jewish woman. One good piece of advice given at this stage is not to be sexually explicit in your dating profile. You want to be sensual wherever you can but never direct.

Next in dating school Borat learns that most American men bring to many gifts. This is a big no-no according the dating coach. He practices his funny chair joke on her with some uncomfortable giggles. A tip here when telling jokes never laugh before the woman you are talking to has laughed. No matter how lame your jokes – hold your breath – and the people you speak to will eventually giggle even to relieve to the tension. More about cocky comedy later. I think the most hilarious part is that Borat does the opposite of what the dating coach tells him to do. There is some value here because doing the opposite of what your mother taught you or what society expects to you to do, can sometimes have surprisingly good responses from woman. Everyone enjoys a surprise whether they admit it or not.

 

Tony Robbins interview on Larry King Live

A great interview with Anthony Robbins on Larry King Live from December 2006. They discussed why new year resolutions often don’t work out. And went into depth about some basics around human motivation and effecting change in your life. I really like how Tony links his theories on change back to physiological and biological changes. When I used to workout at the gym I had little change. And now I know it’s because my diet was the same. So not much changed in my body. I may have improved my cardio but not much else. They also discussed in detail his support for the death row victim Stan ‘Tookie’ Williams (portrayed by Jamie Foxx in the made-for-TV film Redemption). I teach a process on becoming clear about your what you want, what you don’t want, and the person you have to become to attract someone into your life, that I learned from Tony. Anyway here’s the awesome interview with the brilliant interviewer Larry King:

 

Really bad Powerpoint is worse with really bad Speaking

I am by no means an expert public speaker but I am on my way to becoming one. Why do I say make this statement that sounds slightly arrogant? In fact it’s not arrogant at all it is me brimming with self-confidence because I know that I am learning and practising the basics. The fundamentals in any discipline ends up being the foundation in which your success is built on. So when it comes to public speaking and delivering presentations at conferences there are right ways of doing things and wrong ways of doing things.

The first is really being prepared. From my Toastmasters club I have learned this lesson over and over to the point where I have rather cancelled a speech than force myself to go ahead. No yes you can have courage to do something unprepared and with a little luck you may survive. The masters teach competence over courage. You will always have a slight edge to you if you are competent with a little fear than courages and ignorant about the reality of situations.

Anyway for the two days I sat through one of the worse conferences I have ever attended. I don’t really care so much about the fact that it was not well attended but more so for the fact that the speakers was really, really bad. And you have to remember that these were professionals, mostly men, with many years of business experience. And the sad fact is that most of them desperately need to be sent on presentation skills AND public speaking courses. Without naming names I will present some of the common mistakes made and some remedies for you to consider…

1. Reading off your presentation

You may as well stop right here. If you are going to read from your presentation you have already lost the audience. Why? They can read faster than you! You must know your subject so well that you only need a few keywords. And Guy Kawasaki describes the optimal font size as 30 pts in his 10/20/30 rule on Powerpoint presentations. The fact that speakers have to read off there presentation says two things: first you are not prepared and second you don’t know how to create effective slides

2. Really bad Powerpoint

This is also the name of a free ebook by Marketing legend Seth Godin. Some of the speakers had such a plethora of colours, animation and text going on it was virtually impossible to read these slides. Yes they end up looking very nice, very fancy but it serves absolutely no purpose. These slides probably take much longer to prepare as well. You must keep it short and simple. From an excellent website called Presentation Zen I recently discovered the Takahashi Method which uses ONLY REALLY BIG TEXT in his presentations.

3. So what factor?

I would blame this partially on the organisers and partially on the speakers. In marketing or communicating a message to an audience you have to tune into radio WIIFM as my friend Tony Roocroft always used to say. For those of you who don’t know WIIFM stands for “What’s In It For Me!” and this is one of the most important questions you must ask yourself, placing yourself in the shoes of the audience, before speaking. I really could care less about most of the presentations. There was no flow, nothing to connect them together.

4. Focus

Focussing on one topic, a central theme, is really important to convey your message. While many of the speakers were all over the show a few them had a really good focus. What happens with narrow focus is becomes much easier to captivate the audience’s attention. You are also able to spend more time with stories and therefore get your message across by way of analogy. Our brains are not programmed to absorb large amounts of raw date, like numbers and statistics in large amounts. In general you are better served by stories that create visual images or when speakers use word pictures.

5. Bad body language

Most of the speakers were either looking at their laptops or looking at the projector screen. Therefore they were not making any eye contact with the audience. And even though it was not a sell-out crowd there were people there who were hungry for attention. Again part of the blame must be assigned to the organisers who did not take the time to evaluate the presentations or speakers. Just because somebody is some kind of corporate executive it does not mean they are a good communicator.


In summary I am very fortunate to have been exposed to presentation skills while working at Deloitte in 1999. During a team building weekend in the Drakensberg my team won the best presentation and being the team leader who delivered the presentation brings back some awesome memories. This path that I have chosen of public speaking is part of my core genius or unique ability.

 

Day 1 – Futurex Conference 2007 – Jaco Viljoen on What makes Business Analysts tick?

Jaco Viljoen from Software Futures gave one of the most unusual presentations I’ve ever seen in the last 10 years. He spoke about what makes and business analyst tick? He proceeded to explore how our brain functions and also delve very deeply into personality and psychometrics.

When you try to understand what makes a car drive, you have to look underneath the bonnet of the a car – at the workhorse of a car – the engine. When trying to understand a human being and you look underneath the bonnet of an analyst you will find his brain. The key is actually to focus on one aspect, the temperament and forget about the personality. It’s the age old comparison of nature vs nurture to some extent.

With assistance from Professor Smith at University of Johannesburg Jaco has been using Smith’s Temperament Typology (STT): Temperament vs Personality, to analyse business analysts. What makes one better than the other. In terms of the whole brain person only 4% of the population has this level of balance.

Using this temperament typology other opportunities and application in recruitment, training and further development (mentoring) arise. Success as an Analyst implies more than good process and technology tools. STT is useful for understanding people, especially analysts.

Here’s my video podcast interview with Jaco Viljoen:

For more information on

 

Day 1 – Futurex Conference 2007 – Cavin Griffiths on Business Intelligence Analysis

Cavin Griffiths, Executive: Business Intelligence is a speaker from Telkom, one of the sponsors of the Futurex Conference. He spoke at a very high level about business intelligence the key to business success. When you realise how complex organisations have become and especially ones the size of Telkom, you understand there is no solution out of the box for business intelligence. And it is more about a culture and the people using it buying into the culture that makes it a success than anything else. Success in business intelligence depends on the right people with top management buy in. A CIO must understand he or she is running a business and is part of business team to generate sales and service customers – not to run an IT shop.

How is it done in Telkom? You can view the presentation below for more details. And you have to ask yourself truth tests. The test that measures you design framework. In Telkom the roll out of business intelligence took about 8 years to reach maturity. A big percentage of the resources have been developed internally especially in terms of report writing.

Here’s my video podcast interview with Cavin Griffiths:

And here’s Cavin’s presentation on Business Intelligence Analysis:


For more on business intelligence see this Wikipedia entry.

 

Day 1 – Futurex Conference 2007 – Robin Grace on Where Business Analysis Ends

Business Analysis is a process produces something of value to the business. The elementary process is the lowest level of work that can be performed with business meaning. It must describe what is done not how. And it’s about describing the business not the technology. Documenting business information rules not entity relationships. Users will perceive it’s not an “IT thing” but a business case. When performing business analysis and use a business cases – this is the step that brings you into the systems domain.

There was no interview with Robin Grace but below you can view his presentation:

 

Day 1 – Futurex Conference 2007 – Roger Layton on Project Failures

Topic: Project Failures Modes: Lessons from the Field

Roger Layton is a witty and inspirational speaker. The many years he spent lecturing and training comes through in the smooth delivery of his presentation. He is by far one of the best of the entire Futurex Conference speakers. In light of the eNatis failure people outside the Langlaagte Traffic Licensing stationed threatened to burn down the building. One of the major reasons is that the different stakeholders did not agree that there was a failure in the system. In that respect one could say that not communicating in itself is a failire.

So what is the basic premiss on project failures? Failure Avoidance!

Let us learn from other’s mistakes because this will improve our understanding of failure. Analysis of Google search on “Project Failure” identifies almost exclusively IT project failures. Engineering and other areas do not come up as frequently as IT project failures.

Roger’s definition of of “Failure” is the inability of the project to deliver the intended benefits to the identified stakeholders. Failure is also relative to project’s complexity. Looking at the track record of IT project the mainstream attitude or approach seems to be: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! The fear of failure of new systems overrides the need or value that can be derived from replacing old systems.

Some major failures mentioned is: MacDonald’s, IRS, National Health Service (UK) each spending hundreds of millions of dollars and in some cases billions!

Here’s my video post interview with Roger Layton:

And you can view his presentation here:


For more information contact Roger Layton and Associates via his website.