Why Beauty Matters

This presentation about “Why Beauty Matters”, by Stefan Sagmeister, is pure gold. If you’re curious about art and design, heck, life in general, you’ll love the insights Stefan is sharing here. This presentation was part of last year’s PENTAWARDS festival.

“Beauty has been created by the brain, as a shortcut to make decisions quickly.” Dr. Helmut Leder

Design principles

Design pervades life. It inhabits all cells in our body, shapes the environment we live in and infuses the products we interact with. In PES and VAU I get to observe the development of new physical objects on a daily basis. To me design has to do with rigor and magic, the interaction between discipline and creativity.

As there exist the Ten Commandments, bestowed on us by the Lord, there exist 10 “Good Design” principles too. These were developed by Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer, most notably known for his work at the consumer products company Braun. 

1. is innovative
2. makes a product useful
3. is aesthetic
4. makes a product understandable
5. is unobtrusive
6. is honest
7. is long-lasting
8. is thorough down to the last detail
9. is environmentally friendly
10. is as little design as possible

What a wonderful selection, can’t really argue with any of these.

How to live

To the wider public Marina Abramović is first and foremost known as a performance artist. The candidness and unapologetic expression of her truest Self that pervade this interview, done by Dazed & Confused, an alternative style and culture magazine, speaks to me. If you’re intrigued as well, I recommend you follow it up by watching this video.

How do you express your authentic Self?
What does your life vision pulls you towards?
What does to be present mean to you?

An example of generosity

Swissmiss is a design blog run by Tina Roth Eisenberg. Besides swissmiss, she founded and runs TattlyCreativeMornings , TeuxDeux and her Brooklyn based co-working space Friends (formerly Studiomates). I yet have to meet Tina in person but I’m regularly enjoying the content she’s putting out there, e.g. her newsletter. I perceive her work to be soulful. It gives me hope for our world. Her story in 5 minutes? Watch

On her Twitter account, back in November 2019, she asked her followers to share recommendations of small makers who run an online shop, in order to help them funnel some web traffic to. She didn’t have to do it but she did it anyways. I kind of like her style.

What’s generosity anyways? Here’s a delightful blog post by Seth Godin about it.

A new paradigm of management

We need a new paradigm of management, one where managers turn into leaders and change agents, managers who influence other people in a positive way. We live in a very interactive and fast paced world and we do not have the leadership and management models that work in an environment which is always changing. Our models work better for machines than for living beings. Nature is a good teacher for this, just observe how ants or termites organise themselves.

Table: Nature vs. Man made organizations

NATUREvs. MAN MADE
orderGOALcontrol
creativityDESIRED BEHAVIOURobedience
intrinsicMOTIVATIONoutside
emergeFUTUREdesign
learningBIGGEST CHALLENGEexecution

Source: Handout from “Overview of Management“, a module during my business studies which was led by Margaret Wheatley

As problems grow increasingly more complex we as a human race do not seem to understand that we are all in this together. It leads me to wonder about cooperation vs. competition. Do there exist other ways of creating a positive future for ourselves and the generations that will come after us? Management´s role today seems so much broader than most of us are used to, it has a responsibility towards society, to be the engine of positive change.

Managers can only turn into leaders if they develop themselves in regards to the following three areas:

  1. Learning: we need to learn both individually and collectively, we need to learn more about ourselves and we need to improve our understanding of how we are all interconnected, in communities of learning the development is much deeper.
  1. Letting go: today’s manager’s biggest fear is the fear of not having success, of not being able to handle it anymore; managers have a huge responsibility, instead of getting stuck in their everyday work they should learn how to let go and use more of other people’s potential.

  2. Balance & Harmony: so much depends on this aspect, personal and professional life go hand in hand.

Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a great teacher. I perceive him to be an exceptionally kind and generous human being, a master communicator and very consistent in creating value for his audience. He sees things and then writes about them. I regularly follow his blog, his podcast Akimbo, read a few of his books and participated twice in one of his fantastic online seminars, The Marketing Seminar.

If you google him you will find a lot of content such as videos, podcasts and articles. I recently listened to an interview on The Moment, a podcast by Brian Koppelman. If you are interested in entrepreneurship and making art, I highly recommend this interview.

#gratitude to both Seth and Brian

John Wooden: winning and succeeding

I recently watched my son’s soccer team, they are all either six or seven years young, play their last two games of the outdoor season. Due to their low age they are not eligible to play in any official league yet, hence the trainers from all these different clubs who are participating are organising unofficial type of games during weekends.

At the end of these matches every participant got a medal. Out of the 12 or so teams there wasn’t a single player who did not get a medal and they all got the very same model. No gold, no silver, no bronze, no losers either. The message was clear: you applied yourself, you gave it your best effort, each and everyone of you contributed to the success of this league and you can be proud of your individual and your team’s progress.

It reminded me of John Wooden (October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010), the famous “American basketball player and head coach at the University of California. Nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood,” he won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period as head coach at UCLA, including a record seven in a row. No other team has won more than four in a row in Division 1 college men’s or women’s basketball. Within this period, his teams won an NCAA men’s basketball record 88 consecutive games.“ (Wikipedia entry).

I interpret his way of defining success to stem from a very similar mindset like the above soccer story: “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” Isn’t this beautiful? You are the only person who can truly assess if you are successful or not.

I recommend his book “Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization” and here is a TED talk in which he is describing his philosophy regarding winning and success. Let me know what you think about it.