Oh, look who’s on the TV

So, from the various social media sites i’m part of, you may have noticed I posted some photos… mainly of me, making an appearance on Sunday Morning Live, which comes on BBC 1.

Why was I on the show?

Well, to share my thoughts on the topic of, ‘Should we fly less?’

My answer was, No. In fact, we should be flying more… or at least, travelling more – and there’s a few reasons why.

  1. Time is Money – there are deals to be done, people to be met and decisions to be made… with so many opportunities available in other countries, we should be taking full advantage.. and one of the ways this can be done quickly, is to fly out there.
  2. Skype and Other Technology – Yes, it’s great to have video conferencing and speak to others via a screen, but you can’t beat the human interaction, the whole experience of being able to sit down with folk, and really understand their behaviours. And… those who’ve been on a Skype or Video call… you know how easy it is to get distracted.
  3. Tourism – There are so many fascinating places to visit around the world… and we should go, and visit them! Learn… educate our children, educate ourselves of the different cultures and the rich history. Also, we have lots of tourists coming to the UK…think of the money being spent in this country.
  4. Low Cost Airlines – are bringing the whole cost of flying down. I can get over to Paris for approx £40 on a low cost airline flight, whereas a train ticket from ‘up north’ to London can be double that price!
  5. Research & Innovation – With the money that’s being spent, there’ll be a percentage of that, that goes on research. And I know there’s many airline engine manufacturers who are working on making more efficient engines.

There’s more reasons, but above are the key ones.

If you did manage to see me on the box, I hope you enjoyed it…

Nott Tuesday… on Tuesday, in Nottingham.

So, this Tuesday gone, I was at the Nott Tuesday event in Nottingham, which is on a Tuesday, hence called Nott Tuesday. It’s organised by my friends from Tech Nottingham, who are leading the way forward, all things Tech related in the city.

I was able to share my thoughts on ‘How to Pitch’… having some experience of this, I shared my thoughts and views on what makes a good pitch, the basic core principles that you should have in your pitch and what are the ‘softer’ elements that are needed in a pitch. You could be pitching to investors, VC’s, etc… I shared a few stories, of some ‘not so good’ pitches – basically, what not to do… and some examples of pitches that I remember today from many years ago – they must have done something right to leave a lasting impression on me.

The event was filmed – and I’ll be sharing it here very soon.

The purpose of me writing this today was a) to share with you where I was on Tuesday evening, and b) how I think these type of events are great.

Why are they so great? – well, you get to meet some really clever people. I met a team of 2, who are entering the baking business – and they’ve got 25 customers. After spending a few minutes with them and sharing my thoughts, they tweeted the below to me in the morning…

I always say, if I can help in anyway – more than happy to. I try to look at things in a different perspective. Challenge the business model. See which buttons I can push to get a reaction and what I can make the developers and/or owners of the start-up, think differently about. And that’s why I like to attend these type of events. To meet people. To talk to people. To collaborate on ideas with people. You are not going to meet people by sitting in a lab, or in your home office, or even in your own work office! Get out… get talking… get sharing. This way, people will listen. Get to know what you’re doing. Look for opportunities. You never know who you might meet and get talking to.

A number of these events occur up and down the country and around the world. You can easily find them on the internet. Travel to different cities. Be a bit like Colonel Sanders. Travel around with your Fried Chicken with the specially selected herbs and spices that make it so delicious, letting people try it… letting people fall in love with it, and enjoy it. That way, you can then build your brand…. But find the right people to talk to. Make sure you do your research and know who you’re talking to and who you are pitching to.

And also on that note… always, always, always, have your elevator pitch ready. Practise it. Then practise it again. And again! And keep it simple…. Hi, my name is Bal, I believe you work for Tresemme, shampoo company? – I just wanted to share with you, I’ve been working on a new product and developed a shampoo that can stop hair from falling out. I know this effects 3.5 million women a year, and impact confidence. I also researched that you’ve been working on various formula’s but nothing has been released. Just wanted to let you know, I’ve tested my formula on 200 people, and over a 60 day period, over 90% confirmed it had worked. Do you think, this is something we could potentially discuss further?

Just for the record – I haven’t developed any formula’s or shampoo to prevent hair from falling out.

The point of this was, to be able to share what it is you have, size of the problem, what you’ve done, and the results… all in a short space of time.

Obviously, there’s various tips and tricks out there on how to pitch, what to say, etc… and make use of them… but key thing is, keep it simple.

Videos of the talk are being edited right now, and should be uploaded in a next week or two…

And the winner is…

On my social media feed, I have a ‘time hop’ feature which brings up past posts and photo’s, of what happened ‘on this day’.

It was around this time, last year, I won the award for Best in Science & Engineering incl. Innovation at the British Indian Awards, 2016.

A highlight of the year, no doubt.

Since then, a lot has happened – well, I started this blog page earlier on in the year. I used to post a lot on Linkedin, which was once a month (and try to still do that) but now focus on here, where I can share my thoughts on a more regular basis.

I’ve been doing more talks…

This one, was at the Sales Innovation Expo this year (nice photo they used!)

I’ve been sharing & talking more to small and intimate audiences…

I’ll admit, it’s been fun. Talking, collaborating and learning…

And there’s more to come. Tonight, for my friends at Tech Nottingham, I’ll be sharing my thoughts at their Nott Tuesday event. This is the first time i’m speaking in my home town of Nottingham! – Hoping to have it filmed, and I will be sharing it here on my blog later in the week and next week.

More importantly, it’s the great people i’ve met over the year, since winning my award. Some really interesting folk… who have some great ideas… and the one thing I always say is, give it a go! – Use the principles of Lean Startup… If you have an idea, go build it and test it… there’s no rocket science involved… (unless you’re a scientist and are building rockets, then it’s a different story).

I’ll be saving and tagging tonight’s event at Nott Tuesday… and review it in a years time (in 2018) and share, what’s happened in those 12 months.

The exciting thing about that is… it’s not happened, and I can plan, what i’d like to write… and make it happen.

 

Q&A with Tom North (Atlanta, Coca-Cola)

On my travels, I get to meet some really interesting people. Luckily for me, a lot of them, become good friends.

One of these interesting people, is Tom North.

I was introduced to Tom, within the Coca-Cola system a few years back, and every time I’m in Atlanta, I always try to meet up for a beer – and we often talk about a number of things, one being technology!

Now, Tom works within Coca-Cola, and has led some high profile projects… he’s partnered with many international, national and local Atlanta-based startups and companies, leveraging their expertise and knowledge, to input on certain topics and programmes of work that are in flight.

One thing, I really admire Tom for, is the attention he gives to those willing to learn. An example of this, is the Capstone Event at Georgia Tech, where Tom and the team, submitted some ‘problem statements’ for the students to work on – and boy, did they work on them, and provide some great insights and results!

Always having time for people, I wanted to ask Tom some questions, so we could all learn a little from him…

Q&A with Tom North

  1. Why is it so important to believe in yourself?

Confidence in yourself is critical to one’s peace of mind and well-being.   Without it your purposefulness will be in jeopardy which could lead to progressive degeneration

  1. You’ve been able to build a good network over time, what advice can you give to those just starting on that journey?

A network is a business support system – you never know when you are going to need to depend upon it for help.

For people just starting to build their respective connections and contacts, I recommend implementing a guiding principle of inclusion – do not limit your network to people within your initial functional area.  Your role, most likely, is dynamic and will change over time, and therefore, your interests, needs, and hence your associations will need to be all-encompassing.

  1. Being able to work with students one minute, and then with Vice Presidents the next, what is the key communication skill you believe is critical for this?

I believe that anticipation is critical to being able to successfully communicate with one’s audience.

The proverb, “put yourself in the other person’s shoes” rings extremely true especially in today’s business environment.  Constant distractions, combined with an individual first culture, tends to condition people to focus on themselves.

I recommend people pause, think about the other person’s wants or needs, and be prepared as to what they are going to say.

  1. Having seen some really remarkable tech recently, what one tech item really stands out to you?

It is more of a trend than a technology.  The “Everything on Demand” is an exciting movement that plays off of the instantaneous gratification and general impatience rage that is gripping today’s society.

Thanks to brands like Uber and the resulting madness of startups built on the premise of “Being the Uber of _____”, people are getting used to, and are demanding everything on demand via phone apps.  I believe we will see this phenomenon continue to develop into different and even non-traditional territory.

  1. What should startups and students who are working on new technology or an idea, really focus on?

Solving practical everyday problems should be a focal point of startups or students just getting starting in Innovation.

Everyone has a different definition of Innovation but to me it is simple – it is the creation of something that adds value whether it is to an organization or directly to customers or consumers.

Focus on incremental innovation and the transformational innovation will be a natural byproduct.

  1. I used to work for Kodak. We both have an association with the Coca-Cola system. Do you ever think, Coca-Cola will end up like Kodak?

No I do not think so.  Coca-Cola is Americana personified and embodies family, happiness, and optimism.

I do, however, believe the delivery mechanism will embrace technology and evolve to meet changing consumer needs (see #4 above).  Robotics, personalization, and digitalization will make the brand more relevant, fun, and pervasive without being omnipresent.

 

“Morally Wrong” Uber….. Really?!

Taken from the BBC wesbite today,

Labour’s shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey has said she doesn’t use taxi app Uber because it is not “morally acceptable”.

Here is the link to the article – http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-40567387

I have a few issues with this… and let me share them with you here…

  1. Rebecca is the ‘Shadow Business Secretary’ – which means, she’s in the Shadow Cabinet (for those outside the UK, this means she’s not in the governing party, she’s in the opposing party), and the duty of the office holder is to scrutinize the actions of the government’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and develop alternative policies
    1. What’s my issue with this? – Well, Uber has been a massive success story… in the short space of time it’s been up and running, it’s today worth over $50bn!
    2. This is surely the future! – And it must be doing something right…
    3. Rebecca and her team must look at companies such as Uber, understand and work with them… (rather than against them!)
  2. “Morally Unacceptable” – Basically saying, the workers are not treated right.
    1. What’s my issue with this? – Well, my father used to be a Taxi Driver. He worked the hours he could, and was paid for those hours. He didn’t receive any holiday pay, or sick leave.
    2. I appreciate Uber takes a percentage of the taxi fare… but then, you wouldn’t be getting those jobs if people weren’t using the App!
    3. Uber even stated that the drivers were making £15/hr after costs… and quote from Uber, “even after costs, the average driver took home well over the national living wage”
  3. Don’t we want Flexibility? 
    1. I use Uber all around the World – never have I heard an Uber driver moan.
    2. The first thing they say is the flexibility is great! – A friend of mine even had a ‘mom’ pick him up from the office, because she’d just dropped the children off at school, saw the request come in, and thought why not make a little money before she goes home to do some housework!
    3. I don’t need to carry any currency, just log onto the App, request, and I can even share the journey with friends and family, so they can track that I got home safely, and I don’t need to worry about having the money to pay the driver.

On top of everything – there was a report out recently… that cash jobs such as window cleaning and decorating, were worth upto £6bn a year, which most of was untaxed! – taken from a government review of employment practices by Matthew Taylor. 

You couldn’t make it up, even if you tried.

That’s right – all those ‘cash in hand’ jobs, shouldn’t really be taking place, and all ‘money exchanges’ should be logged or transparent.

How can you do that? – well, if you use a credit/debit card – that’s one way to track all money going in and out. No chance of the odd fiver or tenner going missing.

I feel, we’re not making the progress and we’re not as forward looking, as we could be… we need to focus on being more efficient, more flexible and working with companies… who are doing something right.

Okay, they may need some help, we may need to work with them and say, hey… you guys need to do this.. or take care of your employees by not making them contractors and giving them a different employment status… and this has been highlighted in the report Matthew Taylor has written for the Government.

Let’s work collaboratively… with the companies, that are developing new technology and making things easy for us, like getting a taxi, or finding a room to stay for the night… let’s share with them, what they could do, to make it a better…

Berlin… Fashion (Week) & Tech

Folks, firstly my apologies for not posting on my blog earlier this week.

If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed, that I was over in Berlin (Germany). I had various meetings to attend, people to see, things to talk about and projects to discuss.

Now, the title of this blog may suggest, I was there for the fashion week…

Those who know me, may take a moment to raise their hand and suggest that I may not be the most fashionable person they know, to which – you may be correct. But my Adidas Pharrell Williams yellow jacket with red dots is something that sure does stand out in my wardrobe!

Back to the Fashion Week… so as I landed at Tegel Airport, there was a sign saying, Berlin Fashion Week… this would also explain why most of the hotels very quickly booked up…

 

This got me thinking… I wonder how much of the Fashion show must be based around technology – or how many garments have some sort of electronics inside them, built in, or associated with the manufacture of them.

We may have all seen the 3D printed shoe… which, we all laughed at when they were being produced a few years back. But it was revolutionary – never before, were you able to design the shoe you wanted, have it printed and then wear it – all in a matter of a few hours!

3D Printing has advanced – and the shoes being printed now are of much better quality and look really good! – wonder if they do them in yellow?!

Then there’s the mirrors, that are able to super-impose a particular garment you like, onto you – so you can see what you look like wearing it… without wearing it!

I’ve seen t-shirts with built in electronics that are able to determine heart rate and other such measurements which then can communicate it all back to your smart phone.

There is so much happening in the space of Tech and Fashion. All the major fashion design houses around the world must be investigating, and looking to incorporate technology into what they are designing and producing. But I feel, the fundamental, underlining and most important element here is, that it must be comfortable!

That’s a customer requirement, right? – to wear something that is comfortable.

Mind you, it’s only a matter of time, before someone works on a camera being inserted into a bow tie – which you wear with your tuxedo to an event. which then is able to identify people you are talking to and automatically find them on social media (Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, etc..) and share some key highlights with you immediately on your phone or your smart glasses.

Imagine…… Hi, my name is Bal… Hi, my name is… yes – I know who you are… and I know what you did last summer (you went to Majorca with the family, I can see that from the post you tagged yourself in, on Facebook).

Smart Wearable. It’s a term that we are seeing more and more… and here is a video, from Berlin Fashion week, which is explaining a) Why Berlin is ahead of most cities when it comes to Fashion and Tech and b) what is in store for Fashion and Tech…