News Archive - March 2015 View All

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Don’t sell a brand. Tell a story

March 16, 2015
In 1999, consultants B. Joseph Pine and James Gilmore told us we had entered a new economy shaped by experiences. More recently, we keep hearing about the need for executives and the brands they oversee to become adept at storytelling.

Frank Rose, a journalist and senior fellow at the Columbia University school of the arts brings those two streams together in a call for us to learn the art of immersion, as his book two years ago was titled, and tap into the thirst for experiences and stories among the consuming public.

Think in terms of stories and deepening them in ways that can be helpful to your customers, making your company feel part of their lives,” he said in an interview.

Managers, engineers and consultants like facts. And facts, he concedes, are useful. But he insists they are not as powerful as stories, which fit the way neuroscientists are finding that we think.

Becoming storytellers may seem foreign to executives – not the way they were taught to lead. But he says it’s actually how we experience life. We watch TV and read books. We watch sports, which are stories unfolding during the action on the field. At dinner parties, we swap stories.

But storytelling is only the first step in his immersion approach. Storytelling opens the door for individuals to connect with your brand. People want to merge their identity with something larger – to enter the world the story lives in, sharing and being defined by the story. And you must provide that.

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Creative

Is solar having its ‘shale’ moment

March 13, 2015
Call it what you will: a watershed moment, a tipping or inflexion point. However you care to describe it, solar energy may be on the verge of achieving enough momentum to carry us into a new energy era. Solar technology is developing at a frantic pace, the political momentum appears to be unstoppable and most importantly, the cost per unit of energy for roof-top solar is approaching parity with coal-generated power.

Evidence that the tipping point is on the horizon comes from two pieces of research: one from Wood Mackenzie, an energy consultancy with long established roots in the oil industry which reckons that solar power is approaching its “shale” moment. In other words, saturation of electricity grids at periods of peak demand with solar power will have a disruptive influence – lowering prices and forcing the retirement of older, base-load coal power generation.

Solar is now a serious investment opportunity, reckons Deutsche Bank in a report to its fund clients, asserting that in 14 U.S. states, solar is now competitive without government subsidy. With increasing investment and falling costs, the levelized cost of solar energy (the price at which it breaks even over a project lifetime including cost of capital) will be at grid parity in 47 U.S. states, says the bank. In coal-dominated power regions across the world, the cost ratio between coal and solar has fallen over the past four years from 7:1 to 2:1 and the bank predicts it will fall to parity within 12 to 18 months.

If Deutsche Bank is right and the falling cost of photovoltaic panels seems to support its arguments, the consequences for the coal, oil and gas sectors could be dramatic. There is already talk in the insurance industry of “stranded carbon assets”, and last week, the Bank of England warned the impact on fossil fuel investments could be huge.

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Energy

The Difference between V and W

March 09, 2015
The letters V and W are often confused because of related lip movements. But they are very different for two reasons: when making a W, the air moves freely and the teeth are not involved, whereas when we make a V, the air is blown between the teeth and lip, creating friction.

V is formed in the same way as F. The difference is that V is voiced whereas F is voiceless. When we make a V or an F, we do not round the lips. In contrast, we make the W with the lips, forming a small opening and releasing the lips into the W sound.

Depending on your linguistic background, you may combine W and V into one movement, starting with the lip shape of W and lifting the lower lip towards the upper teeth to make a V sound. Some languages combine a B and V by briefly closing the lips before making the V.

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Makes U Think

Can’t focus? Maybe you’re a creative genius.

March 04, 2015
No bolt of lightning, no voice from the heavens, not even a lightbulb dangling overhead -- for years scientists have been searching for the source of creativity, having discarded the myths and memes of the past.

Now scientists at Northwestern have announced they've found the first physiological evidence of a connection between creative thinking and sensory distractions, or what they call "leaky attention."

In sound tests given to 97 subjects, the researchers found that poor sensory gating, the ability to filter unnecessary stimuli from the brain, correlated with a higher number of lifetime creative achievements.

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Makes U Think