Monday, 12 January 2015


Isabel Allende the Chilean-American author who was awarded the American Medal of Freedom last year said:-
The longer I live the more uninformed I feel. Only the young have an explanation for everything.

I know how she feels. The part of me that agrees with her loves the freshness of thinking and the fearlessness of the young. The other part like Einstein - not that in any other way I have much in common with Albert the Genius - feels that the older you get the more insatiable your curiosity is.

That’s why I wrote my latest book “How to Solve Problems and make Brilliant Decisions”.

And it’s because of the book that the Dean of the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries at Portsmouth, Catherine Harper, asked me to go to lecture there.

You don’t know Portsmouth?

It’s the Venice of Britain, on an island called Southsea, more densely populated than any other city bar London. Until relatively recently it was a city slipping backwards into the sea like Venice. Then some good news happened. BAE announced shipbuilding was ceasing in 2014 ending years of speculation and forcing a strategy of renewal on the city. And the University became transformed with a programme of investment and positivity. Its progress up the league tables especially those relating to student engagement are impressive.

Portsmouth is beginning to feel like a city of the future with its Spinnaker, Gunwharf Quays and its programme of redevelopment including the relocation of the football ground into the centre. But most of all the University. There’s a choice, I guess, of mediaeval architecture, delicious quadrangles with “keep off the grass” as a welcome sign, the smell of Mansion Polish or the future.

However, much I love Oxbridge I equally love the sense of entrepreneurial excitement of a brave new world called tomorrow.

More Gown than Town I think. Well done.

And the smell of tomorrow was in my nostrils at my lecture to which they’d attracted, enrolled or more likely, its being Portsmouth, press-ganged an audience of 200.

You know that sensation of forming your ideas as you speak and of learning, palpably seeing things differently as you stand there talking being quizzically watched by 400 eyes?  Well I had it and it’s great. There were some searchingly effective questions which made me on at least two occasions slightly change my mind.  To the lady who dismissed my condemnation of multitasking as unrealistic when you’re running a home, sorry you’re right. On reflection it’s that prefix “multi” that’s wrong. Like “Hyper” or “Uber” it sounds good. What I hate is something slightly different. It’s “Muddle-Tasking” which is failing to complete anything properly because you’re on a mission of serial screw-ups.

I loved this lecture theatre and the spirit of this new purposeful Portsmouth. And I learned how much you learn lecturing to smart focused people.

The longer I live the more excited I am about possibilities, potential and youth. I saw all three this week.

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