Working from the future - Systems for designing neuroplasticity

I spent a lot of time reading in 2013. No matter where I went, people asked me if I had "read" this "author" or "text".

I have so many people who influence me it's hard to make the time to read anything outside of their posts and messages.

Also I have a profound learning disability, dysphonetic and that makes reading, writing and speaking very difficult.

I have systems to help, but often I have so much in my "head" that I can't even read simple words or write simple sentences.  

I practice getting stuff out of my head on my facebook.   

Facebook gives me the opportunity to not be as "public facing" and still forces me to write. 

Friends and followers are always more kind to your ability to get a message out than the "public".  

So often people pathologize any errors in writing. Many post “grammar” threats or the death of our language.

This saddens me. There has never been a more important time to write than right now.

To post ideas on how poor people communicate or use “our” language is to only force people back into the shadows of their own fear.

Shame on those who treat language or communication with such reverence without the awareness that many people don’t or can’t be as “perfect” as others.

I have talked privately about my learning impairment.  Slowly I'm making time to be more vocal about it.  

My ideas are always compared to other people's ideas, so asking if I had read certain books is natural. Unfortunately, until 2013, I had not had the ability to get through an entire book without a lot of effort.

Mindfulness practices I learned in 2011/2012 made it possible to move through much of my reading and writing problems.

I'm actually asked often why I started podcasting, truth be told, I had a lot I wanted to say, and I knew I could not "write". 

The books below I feel are absolutely critical to understanding work in the next three to five years.

Do what you will with my advice.

My success in navigating the past four years is proof that leadership can move faster than ideas.

If you do decide to read these books, I can assure you, you, your career and your very neocortex will be changed forever.

 Special thank you to Riitta Raesmaa, who taught me more about educating myself beyond my comfort level than any single person in my life. 

Finally I'd like to thank Roger Williams for being such an amazing contributor and reader.  He is the inspiration behind this post. 

Now I preset to you, how to live in 2015 the books and systems that will make your "life aware".


Life Inc: How Corporatism Conquered the World, and How We Can Take It Back Paperback
by Douglas Rushkoff(Author) -Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (January 4, 2011)


Money is not a part of nature, to be studied by a science like economics, but an invention with a specific purpose.

Centralized currency is just one kind of money – one not intended to promote transactions but to promote the accumulation of capital by the wealthy.

Banking is our society's biggest industry, and debt is our biggest product.

Corporations were never intended to promote commerce, but to prevent it.

The development of chartered corporations and centralized currency caused the plague; the economic devastation ended Europe's most prosperous centuries, and led to the deaths of half of its population.

The more money we make, the more debt we have actually created.

Money is not a part of nature, to be studied by a science like economics, but an invention with a specific purpose.Centralized currency is just one kind of money – one not intended to promote transactions but to promote the accumulation of capital by the wealthy.Banking is our society's biggest industry, and debt is our biggest product.Corporations were never intended to promote commerce, but to prevent it.The development of chartered corporations and centralized currency caused the plague; the economic devastation ended Europe's most prosperous centuries, and led to the deaths of half of its population.The more money we make, the more debt we have actually created.

"Our relationship to the land on which we build our homes and grow our food has become abstracted to little more than a premise for the exchange or collateralization of credit. The land is no longer a place, but a placeholder on a balance sheet. And the more disconnected from the reality of its actual use, health, and inhabitants we get, the easier it is for us to exploit it for short-term gain, whatever the long-term environmental or collateral damage." 

This explains most of how and why social media can function today and touches on the dark parts of capitalism. Required reading to work "in" any organization today as a personal "corporation"

The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion Paperback
by John Hagel III(Author) , John Seely Brown(Author) , Lang Davison (Author) - Publisher: Basic Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (December 4, 2012)

Edgerati are people who venture out onto various edges, engage with participants on those edges, develop deep insight from their involvement on the edge and report back to the rest of the world what they have learned.

"Edge participants therefore focus on ways to innovate and create value by connecting unmet needs with unexploited capabilities and then scaling these opportunities as rapidly as possible." 

This book is the definitive guide to running any organization from big to small. It takes head on the idea of how innovation happens, dies and gets nurtured. 

Steve Jobs Hardcover - by Walter Isaacson - Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (October 24, 2011)


Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple’s hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.


‘Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are.’”

"Markkula wrote his principles in a one-page paper titled “The Apple Marketing Philosophy” that stressed three points. The first was empathy, an intimate connection with the feelings of the customer: “We will truly understand their needs better than any other company.” The second was focus: “In order to do a good job of those things that we decide to do, we must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.” The third and equally important principle, awkwardly named, was impute. It emphasized that people form an opinion about a company or product based on the signals that it conveys. “People DO judge a book by its cover,” he wrote. “We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.” 

"Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."  


Initially I dismissed this book as a piece of pop tech culture fan boy fiction.  Once I picked it up, I was hooked. Essentially this book helped me to understand the demon that is genius and come to terms with much of my own way of interacting with ideas, outcomes and people. This book is not for everyone.

Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else Paperback by Chrystia Freeland  (Author)


“Plutocrats isn’t a book about the lifestyles of the fabulously wealthy, but rather the global trends the book’s titular class surfed to success… it’s rife with impressive analysis. In a chapter on the so-called superstar effect—“the tendency of both technological change and globalization to create winner-take-all economic tournaments”—Ms. Freeland glides from the writings of Soviet intellectuals, MIT and Princeton economists and the apostle Matthew to the careers of 18th century diva Elizabeth Billington, Lady Gaga, white-shoe lawyer David Boies, Yves St. Laurent, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and Albert Einstein… the thoroughness with which Ms. Freeland surrounds the ideas is satisfying.” --The New York Observer


"At Zappos, where everyone wears jeans and no one has an office, the chasm between the top and the bottom is as sharp as it gets. This paradox of an egalitarian culture coexisting with extreme economic and social inequality is a crucial and often overlooked part of the relationship between the super-elite and everyone else." 


This is the reason our business culture is at the breaking point. This book is a must read.

A Short History of Nearly Everything Paperback - by Bill Bryson  (Author) - Publisher: Broadway Books; 1st edition (September 14, 2004)


 A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.


 "we may be the living universe’s supreme achievement and its worst nightmare simultaneously." 


Everything is connected, the stars, the DNA in your body. This book takes a 'brief" look at every possible science known to man, and connects it.  I found it invaluable at expanding how I understood information and my relationship to data.

Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and IllnessPaperback - by Jon Kabat-Zinn  (Author) , Thich Nhat Hanh (Author) - Publisher: Delta (May 1, 1990)


Stress. It is everywhere around us. Even worse, it gets inside us: sapping our energy, undermining our health, and making us more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and disease. Now, based on Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s renowned mindfulness-based stress reduction program, this groundbreaking book shows you how to use natural, medically proven methods to soothe and heal your body, mind, and spirit.


"Why rush through some moments to get to other, “better” ones? After all, each one is your life in that moment." 


This book should be required reading for anyone on earth today. More than any other book, it brings order to the connected world around you. We need skills, not pills. 


Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now [Hardcover] - Douglas Rushkoff (Author) - Publisher: Current Hardcover (March 21, 2013)


Rushkoff identifies the five main ways we’re struggling, as well as how the best of us are thriving in the now:

Narrative collapse - the loss of linear stories and their replacement with both crass reality programming and highly intelligent post-narrative shows like The Simpsons. With no goals to justify journeys, we get the impatient impulsiveness of the Tea Party, as well as the unbearably patient presentism of the Occupy movement. The new path to sense-making is more like an open game than a story.

Digiphrenia – how technology lets us be in more than one place – and self - at the same time. Drone pilots suffer more burnout than real-world pilots, as they attempt to live in two worlds - home and battlefield - simultaneously. We all become overwhelmed until we learn to distinguish between data flows (like Twitter) that can only be dipped into, and data storage (like books and emails) that can be fully consumed.

Overwinding – trying to squish huge timescales into much smaller ones, like attempting to experience the catharsis of a well-crafted, five-act play in the random flash of a reality show; packing a year’s worth of retail sales expectations into a single Black Friday event – which only results in a fatal stampede; or – like the Real Housewives - freezing one’s age with Botox only to lose the ability to make facial expressions in the moment. Instead, we can “springload” time into things, like the “pop-up” hospital Israel sent to Tsunami-wrecked Japan.

Fractalnoia – making sense of our world entirely in the present tense, by drawing connections between things – sometimes inappropriately. The conspiracy theories of the web, the use of Big Data to predict the direction of entire populations, and the frantic effort of government to function with no “grand narrative.” But also the emerging skill of “pattern recognition” and the efforts of people to map the world as a set of relationships called TheBrain – a grandchild of McLuhan’s “global village”.

Apocalypto – the intolerance for presentism leads us to fantasize a grand finale. “Preppers” stock their underground shelters while the mainstream ponders a zombie apocalypse, all yearning for a simpler life devoid of pings, by any means necessary. Leading scientists – even outspoken atheists - prove they are not immune to the same apocalyptic religiosity in their depictions of “the singularity” and “emergence”, through which human evolution will surrender to that of pure information.


"relationships matter more than one’s accumulated personal knowledge;” 

"the more forcefully we attempt to stop the passage of time, the less available we are to the very moment we seek to preserve."

"Narrativity is replaced by something more like putting together a puzzle by making connections and recognizing patterns." 


The singe defining book of this decade. Start here or finish her, but read this book. You are not who you think you are, and will need Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness after reading this humanity defining publication.  


There are times when a book will not help.  You may be in the middle of a project, argument, internal struggle. Your brain locks up, or you just need inspiration.  These are two secret weapons for tomorrows knowledge worker. 



IDEO Method Cards is a collection of 51 cards representing diverse ways that design teams can understand the people they are designing for. They are used to make a number of different methods accessible to all members of a design team, to explain how and when the methods are best used, and to demonstrate how they have been applied to real design projects. 


Life is about the edit, the pattern and the marriage of our ability to empathise.  This deck will get you out of most design or thought tough spots.

Oblique Strategies


Oblique Strategies (subtitled Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas) is a deck of 7 by 9 centimetres (2.8 in × 3.5 in) printed cards in a black container box,[1] created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt and first published in 1975.[2] Each card offers an aphorism intended to help artists (particularly musicians) break creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking.


No single source of inspiration will change your life more than this deck of cards.  While it's almost 40 years old, these cards hold the key to opening your mind. 

In closing, be kind to you, I value all of me, you and us, even the mistakes, hate and darkness.