Phones are not bad

But I did know that I had to put mine away in order to write this article. It seems like we are all suffering from phone addiction or “Nomophobia”, an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone phobia” – a term proposed during a UK study evaluating anxieties suffered by mobile phone users when they “lose their mobile phone, run out of battery, or have no network coverage”. Sounding familiar? Yes? It’s happened to me too. I lost my phone at Disneyland Paris, and I transformed into a monster [seriously you can’t imagine my face], asking the entire staff at the Disney Resort for help. I don’t know how but the monster found her phone an hour later.

I’m not saying phones are bad, as they actually inspired this post. It is not technology’s fault, it’s what you do with your phone that we are evaluating. Are you killing some time or doing something productive?

Writing is my way of teaching myself some lessons. So here are my findings:

1. Are we missing the moment by capturing the moment? 

We are obsessed about recording or taking the pictures of concerts and events we go to – it’s our conscious decision to watch it from a tiny screen. I was wondering what a photographer thinks about it. They don’t have a choice. Do they?

Steve Simon, a photographer based in NY, refers to a great scene in the film “The secret life of Walter Mitty” where Sean Penn have been waiting for hours to capture a snow leopard. And finally when it appears into the frame…
[I’m not going to ruin it for you, press the play button below.]

“Sometimes I don’t…if I like a moment…I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera…so I stay in it (the moment).”

There are good thoughts in Steve’s post. “Though photographers don’t always participate in the life they shoot, their eyes are wide open, alive and on the lookout for beauty and meaning; something the people staring into their phones are missing.” Read the full post here.

2. Are we becoming antisocial?

I found this talk from TED 2009 “Our antisocial phone tricks” by Renny Gleeson
Almost a decade later, it still rings true.

3. Do more with your phone

It’s amazing what you can achieve with determination and a reliable smartphone. It’s not good comparing yourself to others, but while we are recording a LIVE video, others are making films. Beyond well-known projects like “Tangerine”, an American film shot with three iPhone 5s and premiered on 2015 at the Sundance Film Festival; smartphones have played a key role in a number of productions, including Détour, a short film shot on an iPhone 7 by Michel Gondry as part of a creative ad campaign launched by Apple itself. Nowadays filmmakers don’t need big gear to create a great piece. 

There are Smartphone Film Festivals taking place in Toronto, Zurich, Sidney to name a few.  They are great for bringing new talent and developing the potential of mobile filmmaking. Brooke Leavitt created this very useful list of outstanding smartphone film festivals with a good summary of entry details, submissions and a bit of context.

4. Can we achieve greatness with our phones?

If you want to go further, your Smartphone can be a hero. There are several apps helping to save lives. First aid by Red Cross teaches vital knowledge and simple first aid skills in an emergency,  Stay Alive provides advice when experiencing suicidal thoughts, Breast Check Now makes checking easy to remember and gives useful information about signs and symptoms. And it’s not getting boring, even a video game can save your life.

From sensible things to silliness. You can do whatever you want with your mobile. Literally. The greatness starts within you and goes through your device. Not the other way around.



Brands are talking, people aren’t.

I usually go to Waterloo on my way to Southbank, one of my favorites places in London; and every time the train arrives, I can’t help looking at all the adverts surrounding the place – normal people usually avoid them, but we, the freaks in advertising, never miss them. You will find billboards everywhere, all along the platforms, brands on the barriers, posters on the walls, by the escalators, people wearing branded costumes, free oyster-card covers, free little pieces of doughnuts and other gifts en route that human beings are too busy or too ashamed to take; last summer I got an ice cream – very nice!

Messages up, down, there…everything seems to talk, except people. We are busy looking at devices, communicating with family or friends in other places, talking to people in other countries, teleporting with music, books or migrating to a different galaxy to discuss with our alter ego. We are in a rush to get somewhere else, rather than where we are at the time.

Why is that? We are mastering online communications, prefer talking to far away people than saying a simple ‘hello’ to the person next to us. We do care about someone tweeting from Singapore, texting from Spain, giving news from NY or posting from London -that’s me- but caring about the neighbour, there is no time! Digital tools are giving us an incredible ability to connect to the world but are we losing our ability to talk? Humanity seems to be more interested in getting likes and shares, another way to talk though, will the next generations respond with a click instead of a nod?

That reminded me of a brand that never says a word: “The boy with tape on his face“. I went last summer to see him and it was hilarious, he didn’t need to speak to make an entire audience laugh and connect with each other. He left the talking to the public by giving them an experience – that is what brands should do, providing memorable moments so when you leave the train station, you are not just going to remember where you are going but what they are talking about.The boy with tape on his face

It is all about people

You usually meet HR people twice; first when you are hired and then when you are leaving. I had the chance to meet a full delegation of HR Directors this week, whilst covering one of the biggest HR Events in Europe: HREvent13.

Everything started with an early morning, catching the 5:30am train to Birmingham. Then walking the icy streets without falling, making it to the ICC where the 11th Annual HR Directors Business Summit was taking place.

There is big machine running behind a Human Resources department and a two day event was going to draw attention to the main pillars supporting the industry of getting the right people in the right places. It involves changes, decisions, cultural shifts, psychology, innovation, performance, strategy, self believe, benefits, software and so on. I will tell you some highlights; nevertheless there were many interesting stories on stage and in the corridors.
Day One was enlightened when Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller took to the stage (as she said – a very long name, don’t bother to say it again). With a great sense of humor and a strong voice the Baroness talked about “How to manage change under pressure”. She was head of MI5 -Britain’s Security Service- in the wake of 9/11 and during the threat of Al-Qaeda. Not an easy task right? During this time, this woman managed to double it in size, opened 8 new offices and established a training academy. While telling true stories about people at MI5 – I picked up on some good statements:

  • The higher the pressure of a situation, the easier it is to make decisions.
  • We always have a way of doing things, but ask yourself – is it the best way?
  • Performance will drop if you change too much.
  • It’s not what you do; it’s what you think.
  • Understand the pressure and don´t fear failure. If you fail, you will only have more to do.
  • Believe in what you are doing.
  • Be concerned with people’s welfare.
  • Pay attention to the small details, make sure you know people’s names.
  • Human beings are laughers, have a sense of humor.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Be humble and open about what you do wrong.
  • It’s good not to be thanked as many times as you think you should.

Baroness Eliza Manninghan-Buller at #HREvent13

The program kept running and we kept moving along the conference rooms. I then joined “A guide to working the way you want” it sounded like the title for a best seller, instead Richard Peers, Head of HR at Vodafone, showed us how a company that sells its customers mobility, embraces the same principles. Vodafone’s head office at Maastricht, a city in The Netherlands, enables their employees to work whenever and wherever they like. In this building they replaced fixed workstation for multifunctional rooms, so you don’t have the same desk every day.

Vodafone Head Office

The concept is called mobile working which brings into practice what Vodafone stands for: simplicity, speed and trust. You can work surrounded by a library, by a forest, get a coffee and then move to another room and ask for feedback in an informal meeting.

The well being of it’s staff is part of the design and it goes further than an office layout, it motivates people to collaborate, enhancing transparency among the organization. It also has financial benefits, have a look at these figures:

Vodafone Case Study. #hrevent13.

Then we went for a lunch break, I think we deserve one here as well. See you shortly.

Google has an emotional side

When I think of brands like Google, I think of “Search”. I have the image of that little rectangle where I write any word or sentence, press Enter and ta dah! I found what I needed plus other interesting links.  Google has taught me how to recover my mobile after it sunk in a toilet and how to fix my computer. It helped me finding songs and lyrics(from vallenato till Indie rock – that’s a big gap!), showed me directions on maps, and let me play with its Doodles while telling interesting history facts. Google even has a University if I want to learn about its products. All these things for free! With these, I believe the biggest search engine is effective and practical.

I never thought that Google has an affectionate side. Not until I saw its Google Chrome ad. It is a love story, about a guy trying to get back with his girlfriend by using different resources from the web, gmail, links, docs, things that we use everyday. Continue reading

The future of books

How do you imagine the future of books? Some people say the digital revolution is opening up new opportunities and at the same time threatening some of the players in the publishing industry. Others believe there will be a lot more books – people will just find them differently. I found a video this morning that describes 3 interesting models about it.

1. Nelson is about the impact of the books on people and refers to online discussions, it gives multiple perspectives.
2. Coupland relates key reading materials based on your professional network. Book clubs and reading lists.
3.  Alice, my favorite, it is an interactive reading experience. The readers communicate with the characters and also contribute to the story.

It made me think of that film I watched in the 80’s…“The NeverEnding Story”. At that time I wanted to be Bastian reading in an attic, flying on a luckdragon called Falkor and helping Atreyu. In this case, the reader is meant to be the key to saving Fantasia.

Three decades later, the reader continues to be the key. Maybe to discover the future of books, we don’t need to look ahead, we can just turn back a few pages. What do you think?

The Future of the Book. from IDEO.