Alexa! Give Me 4 Ways To Get Rich… Quick.

Scrooge McDuck meets LaLa lands

Someone once said the thing about making money is you have to be smart & lucky. Getting off your butt in the first place helps as well.

What follows is a tongue in cheek look at getting off the butt and finding ways of getting rich like those household name billionaires we all know (but without taking 30 years to build an empire or worrying about minor details such as jail time if things don’t transpire as expected). Believe me, finding the content was the easy part. Finding the title was something else.
For example, I hesitated between “Teach a man to fish, like Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos” and “How to be bigly smart & rich, like, uh, say, Bill Gates” but found the one too obscure and the other too Trumpian and Valley Girl-ish… Me (waking the Amazon Echo device): Alexa! How’s this for a title…? Alexa: Euw no, are you serious? No, it had to be pithy and profound, like “Rise And Be Healed”, something that would get the initiated nodding their heads. Sharing my plan for getting rich is good but if the title’s not right who’s going to read the post?

Interlude with a friend

Friend: Why Bill? The Gen Zs don’t know who Bill is!
Me: I know,  I’m sentimental. But Bill and I go back a long way, since ’98, or was it ’95 and with all the time, money and effort I spent on Bill I feel that, like a million others, I have a special relationship with him.
Friend: And Jeff?
Me: It’s complicated. Jeff has had a growing influence on my life in recent years and the fact that he’s sitting on top of a huge and growing pile of cash is rather motivating.
Friend: and what’s with “Give a man a fish…“?
Me: oh, you mean “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. It touches me. I once had a business associate who one day asked a local magnate how he got so rich. The magnate pulled out his wallet and handed my associate a big bill, they were in a bar so the guy probably had something else in mind. Anyway, my associate handed the bill back saying that he didn’t want the money… he did, but, well… he said he wanted to know what it takes to get rich! I don’t know what the magnate said but shortly afterwards my associate liquidated our business partnership, a restaurant, and went back to running a Pizza truck.

From Drumpf to Dumped

Streams and Mining

I think it was Warren Buffet who said, if you want to get rich don’t rely on your salary, have multiple income streams, which brings me, at last, to my own innovative plans to get rich.

Already a successful writer with two books to my name, Destination Bishkek and Twelve adventures, one journey writing is a parallel revenue stream for me, even if sales aren’t on a par with the “Da Vinci Code” or the latest pulp-fiction biography about some scurrilous 71 year real estate tycoon in Washington.

So what else is there to boost a working wage and get rich without working 24/7?
Let’s see. Running a Restaurant? I  co-owned a restaurant a few years back but the ROI is close to zero so no. Manual production? I’m not manual and anyway the bots are coming so I’ll wait and see.

What else? Mining cryptocurrencies? OK, so I’m not a Sophomore with unrestricted use of campus utilities but it does sound like something potentially worth looking into, if I can convince my better half that the environmental footprint is minimal to non-existent. That said, I could try and argue that mining cryptocurrencies is less of a risk than certain other energy intensive home-grown commercial activities.

Being entrepreneurial minded and in case I can’t convince my better half that my cottage industry style cryptocurrency mining enterprise is really the way forward, I have a plan B. Besides, market studies are showing that between the utilities and the volatility of its market value the ROI on cryptocurrency mining isn’t guaranteed so maybe I’ll put that plan to one side. Anyway, remember those 19th century gold rush stories? The only people who made a fortune from gold mining where the brothel owners and the merchants, rarely the miners… besides, to paraphrase T-Boone Pickens, who other than funeral parlours would ever consider using “Crypto-whatever” in a marketing strategy?

Finally, I‘ve been considering trying something quite a few self-respecting suburban wannabee entrepreneurs are into: Creating an e-business, thinking up a product, inventing a brand, building a website, an e-commerce service, doing some social media marketing and waiting for fortune to come knocking. I might just give it a try, I mean what could possibly go wrong ?

Posted in Everyday life, Publishing, Social Media, Society, Work

Ancient Aliens. Episode #2. The Theories, The Truth and The Rest

In this post dedicated to understanding why “Ancient Aliens” on the History Channel is so captivating the science fiction and Michael Moorcock fan in me thought it time to take a closer look at a couple of theories that while “entertaining” can quite easily be debunked.

Being a reasonably open-minded person and having already, as a teenager, read a selection of legends, from ancient Hindu legends to the “Chariots of the Gods”, I’ve learnt that it’s always wise to cross-reference one source with another and much as the thought of Maths being the answer to some of the greatest feats undertaken by man may seem an anticlimax in comparison, the fact is, it’s true.

As a native Brit, I could willingly support my standpoint using Stonehenge as an example but let’s take the pyramids of Giza instead, although according to some ancient alien theorists there is a (Galactic) connection between Stonehenge and the Pyramids.

Ancient aliens theorists suggest that perhaps the Annunaki descended to earth and bestowed upon the ancients the necessary wisdom, knowledge and the technical ability to, not only, build the pyramids but also to conceive, calculate and construct them in such a way that not only do they look awe-inspiring, serve as resting places for Pharaohs but they act as astronomical beacons, interconnect with a network of civilizations thousands of miles apart, in the Americas, India and South-east Asia, and perhaps serve as portals, Wormholes, for visitors from other universes* but the fact is the Annunaki didn’t intervene in their construction. Some very astute and educated men did.

* NB. To be fair, I do like the “Wormhole” theory, possibly because I read so much about it in Michael Moorcock and other authors’ works but the fact is scientists and theoretical physicists have theorized on the possible existence of a Multiverse, reachable, for example via Time/Space wormholes, ever since Einstein first introduced his concept in 1935.

The Case of The Golden Ratio

Taking a break from all this Science Fiction & Fantasy I sat down one Sunday afternoon and watched a documentary about Athens and specifically the restoration of the Acropolis. While I will happily tour a museum, stare at the work of any Florentine Renaissance Painter or visit the Amphitheatre of El Jem in Tunisia I am not a romantic nostalgic of the 17th & 18th Century “Grand Tour” , nor am I an architect, an archaeologist, an academician, a mathematician or even overly interested in stone and mortar so what piqued my interest about this particular documentary?

The easy answer is I love antique History, well actually History in general but more than that I love antique stories with a twist, stories of epic battles, Heraclian labours, golden fleece and of course, wooden horses, Homer’s the Odyssey and the Iliad saw to that. But more than that I’m interested in engaging, inexplicable stories that need some thinking about to understand and, yes I see you coming with “Here we go, he’s twisting it back to the “Ancient Aliens” thing” but bear with me.

In circa 450 BC the ancient Greeks set about constructing the Parthenon, a building worthy of a goddess with a certain Pericles as “Project Manager” and like the Egyptians, the Greek architects used a technique that eluded architects, archaeologists, and academicians until a mathematician stumbled upon the answer when renovation of the Parthenon started some 30-40 years ago.

As with the Pyramids, the architects drawing the plans for the Parthenon used a calculus later made famous by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio and of course Leonardo da Vinci, to not only assure the precision of the construction but also assure the optical aspect of it, i.e. assuring the appearance of a perfect symmetry when in fact the top of the columns curve inwards.

And the technique used? The Golden Ratio! Explanation. According to one ancient Greek mathematician, the Golden Ratio is, and I quote “nothing more than a straight line that is said to have been cut in extreme and mean ratio when, as the whole line is to the greater segment, so is the greater to the lesser…” You can’t get much simpler than that.

But as I said, I’m no architect, archaeologist or academician and was more interested in literature than maths at school so what made this subject so interesting? It was the way in which everyone involved was amazed at the precision of the angles, curves and dimensions and how they must have kicked themselves, more than once, when the saw how ingenious the ancient Greeks needed to be to get the job done. Yes, it was hard labour but it would have been much harder and taken a lot longer to complete had they not used the Golden Ratio.

As with the Pyramids or Stonehenge, it wasn’t the Annunaki, the “Greys” or Nephilim giants who built these edifices and perhaps other sites, such as the ancient Bolivian ruins of Tiwanaku and PumaPunkus, but a group of inspired and erudite men, every bit as intelligent as we are today, with an abundance of material, and labour, but little time and no other data processing technology than a ruler, string, pens, geometry and perhaps an ancient calculator of some undocumented but completely human design.

Acknowledgments: I would like to thank all the sites I’ve linked to in this post for the wealth of information I could have got from Wikipedia but found more fun and more educational on their sites.

Posted in Everyday life, Myths & Legends, Society

An evergreen from 2009: Squaring up for things to come

Isn’t internet an amazing place? This is an old blog I wrote in 2009 using another avatar… once on the web, always on the web.


A black hole into which all matter be sucked.

Squaring up for things to come

July 25

Strange how time works! Summer holidays now seem like a long time ago… whereas it only seems like just a year ago, not two, since I got married but there you go and here I am, busy living life today, neither overly thinking of the past, nor musing over the distant future. Starting back at work in June, after a month’s absence, was more like picking things up after a long weekend. The problems were still there except that what had seemed way off in the future before the holidays, with bags of time for thought and preparation, was now much nearer… and decisions, hard ones, would soon have to be made.

Coming back and knowing what was in store got me thinking about my own immediate future as well as that of my team. Would the team still be there in 6 months? Would I? Should I anticipate or even precipitate? Rather rhetorical and philosophical questions because being responsible for a team of ±10 culturally different, free thinking, free speaking members I am supposed… no, it’s expected of me, and rightly so… to anticipate and know into what we’re heading and gently nudge the team there… Nudge them there? Yeah! Get to know my team!

So, in all logic, I know the time is coming when I will have to face up to some lively meetings with my team, notably when the axe finally falls and it certainly will. I also know the fore-coming announcement will confirm them in their conviction that, like lambs to the altar, they are being offered up in sacrifice to improve cost optimization, “re-equilibrate” off-shoring to “Right Shoring” and shore up stock options. Then, at that precise moment in time – and with the selective and retentive memory I have – I will not fail to recall certain recent events to their instigators, instigators who had along the way tried and failed to destabilize me, failed in their actions because of misinformation and misconceptions, failed for the wrong, misguided numbrilistic reasons.

While on holiday, and free of day-to-day work problems, thought was given to my current position and alternatives. I’d initiated contact with a company in Beijing and although it wasn’t so much a serious contact as a trial to refine my communication – from the decisive “Elevator message” to the more “expansive” résumé (Where I am coming from what else would you expect?) – for future contacts… who knows it could have come to something and if it had, with wife and furniture, I would have been off in a flash… but it didn’t and I’m still here, browsing through other potential contacts and eyeing network feeds because like a lot of my peers I believe in being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right person.

So. With that thought in mind, and my eye on the network discussion feeds, I’m squaring up for a stormy autumn and believe me, whatever may come and from whatever direction it may come from (to paraphrase a famous Swedish singer talking of his divorce to his no less famous Swedish singer wife) it will all be experience and useful matter for a Blog!!!

Posted in Everyday life

The World’s Worst Advice On… Giving Advice

“All advice can only be a product of the man of the man who gives it”
Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967

As someone who has, in pursuit of wealth, health and a better life, uprooted wife, cat, and fish tank several times over the years, take it from me: Heeding advice from others about, say, going beyond your comfort zone, or anything else is risky business, doubly so if you are toying with the idea of going to work in another country.

Defining and redefining your comfort zone is a personal and unique experience and if it fails, it’s your call. There is no “one size fits all”, no one single school of thought, no one diktat. There is, however, an abundance of advice, “White Noise” I call it and it can be deafening so let’s be clear, ill-considered advice can jeopardize a golden opportunity… Change management? I’ve been there…

For years I had a career in a sector where mobility was and still is, up to a certain point, part and parcel of the career plan. Working for key brands helped in getting a better position and a better salary until you reach the point where you’ve either made it or some serious thought needs to be given to a career plan that used to look so promising.


We’ve all had them. After reaching one milestone, a period of introspection, a number of bread and butter jobs and counselling from professionals, I decided to transition to the IT/PC sector. Specific soft and hard skills acquired along the way (e.g. multi-cultural work experience, stress management) helped facilitate and consolidate a move counselled by professionals, not the delivery hero guy, no offense dude, and I haven’t looked back since.

Years after and another milestone was reached. The chosen new career was developing nicely and soon headhunters, career advisors and other “Experts” started taking an interest, occasionally offering questionable advice. But from the triage, the idea of geographical mobility and relocation started offering interesting perspectives. For some, job mobility is a no-brainer. You pack your things and you’re off, it’s as simple as that. For others, it’s a move that needs looking into seriously, more so as the years progress and the responsibilities pile up, and for others, out of the question!

So what are the potential obstacles? Homeowner? Check! … Kids at school? Check! … Wife/S.O. has a good job? Check! … Member of the local XYZ association/club/team? Check! Etc. Depending on your state of mind that’s either a daunting challenge or one you relish. In all this, it’s important to remember that each situation is unique. Advice that may be relevant for someone else may not be for you. Whatever your decision, it’s crucial to keep in mind that in the end, it’s you, and you alone, who must bear the responsibility for your decisions.


Those Sweet Sounding Sirens

Finally, beware of people offering advice who start, or finish a sentence with “In my opinion”, “Honestly”, “Frankly”, “Personally” or ”I may be wrong but…” By pre-posing words of advice with such disclaimers, even the most well-meaning people are disengaging themselves from any moral, technical or legal responsibility should things not work out the way you planned. Listen politely, or not, but remember that in any litigation and unless you had a written contract with a bona-fide consultant you don’t have a leg to stand on. If you really want to be sure about your next move, especially when considering relocating to another country, ask a certified expert. Such people exist. The decision is still yours but at least you’ll be basing it on facts.

My advice to you? Don’t ask a neighbour or the delivery hero guy for advice. At a stretch, read a blog on LinkedIn and weigh the pros and cons but above all, go seek professional, experienced counsel then make your decision… Frankly, you won’t regret it.

Posted in Everyday life, Society, Work

So you want to be a leader!

David Ben-Gurion once said he understood what it was to be a leader the day he realised there was nobody left but him to lead the way.

With the wealth of modern-day examples, as highlighted by this business school or that economic forum, who’d a thought that David Ben-Gurion would have been the example that first came to mind when I started writing this post. Given my origins, Winston Churchill would have been appropriate but there you are. Each of us has a role model or a paradigm that has, whether we’ve understood it or not, has influenced our way of perceiving leadership.

Ben-Gurion’s reflection as to what being a leader meant to him is powerful yet simple. It came at a crucial moment as he realised that it fell to him and him alone to assume the responsibility and to assure the perrenity of a cause.

Enough of Steve, find yourself

Today, aspiring managers can learn what, theoretically, it takes to make a good leader, e.g. company values, applied ethics, one’s ethos, governance, empathy, experience, etc. They are all lessons worth learning, even if a certain triage is needed to see clear but nothing prepares you for leadership like a challenge. Analysing the causes and effects of a crisis, determining the options & solutions and understanding that’s it’s you and no one else who has to assume the responsibility, especially when it’s painful, that’s being a leader.

A managing director once told me, it’s better to be confronted with crisis situations, know what they are and learn how to negotiate them than having it easy and then not knowing what to do when a crisis happens. The essence of being a leader is making sure things go well and, as I read again recently, delegating instead of micro-managing because as certain influencers are prone to say what’s the point of having an employee if you don’t trust them to do the job.

What keeps you awake at night?

Such a strange question but one that hides a more significant purpose, that of seeing what’s occupying or pre-occupying a manager at any given time. It is a subtle way of testing the aptitude of a manager to fulfill the role. Has a manager measured the importance, breadth, and depth of their role? Looked at all the angles, considered all the permutations & ramifications, outcomes & consequences and generally understood the scope of the job they’ve been assigned?

There’s one in each of us…

Is there a standard school of thought or a recommendation on how to be a leader? Should a leader show the way, lead from behind, or be everywhere at the same time, omnipresent and yet letting others do their job? Should a leader dominate, delegate or dispense guidance? Is the sign of a good leader knowing when to use all available levers? Here again, there is a multitude of “experts” spouting voicing opinions on the subject, look no further than here but for having read what the experts say, as well as from personal experience, the answer is no. It happens, and it’s for you to step up and assure the transformation.

And if you have doubts about being a leader, feel coerced or influenced by others, are anxious about succeeding or feel you’re an impostor look to your role model or favourite paradigm and assume. You will grow into the role of leader as it will grow on you.

Meg and Elon, you and me.

The longer you look the more you will see all sorts of leaders, from the benevolent-looking patriarchs, and matriarchs, exuding business acumen …queue for the “quintessential” Steve Jobs quotation… to the mercurial, catch-me-if-you-can, entrepreneurs, always two step ahead of the curve. And then there’s the ordinary Joe & Jane Team Leader, invariably a step of two behind the curve – or so it seems, worrying about attaining objectives, assuring deliveries, filling quotas and mastering margins; slip-sliding between the strategy and the tactical, learning that having risen from the ranks, yesterday’s pals are today’s responsibilities and that diplomacy, tact, empathy, and politics go hand in hand with skills, experience, and expertise.

So who wants to be a leader? How do you become one? Where to start? Sometimes… mostly, it’s through blood, sweat, and tears. other times, it’s just by being in the right place at the right time or maybe in the wrong place at the right time.

Post Scriptum. Empathy: The fall from grace?

There was a time, not so very long ago when empathy was hailed as the discipline to use to support, not just leaders and managers but also for employees with aspirations in their everyday relations with others but, recently, voices have been raised against empathy accusing it of being a cold callous tactic used to exploit situations others are in. Contrary to sympathy, the caring and understanding for the suffering of others, or compassion, the act of suffering together, empathy was synonym with the ability to understand and relate to another person’s standpoint. It allowed you to look at and determine where the other person stood (c.f. that rather banal “how’s it going” question?) and process that knowledge to achieve results.

Now it seems, this is not the case and those speaking out against the, by me, generally accepted and logical purpose of empathy, consider empathy and the use of Emotional Intelligence as a callous exploitation of a situation, at the expense of others, furthering their own hidden agenda. To the antagonists, I’d just like to say this: Use a tool, any tool the wrong way and it will do damage. Use a tool the way it was intended and it will do the job it was designed for.

(edited to include citation “Against empathy”)

Posted in Everyday life, Society, Work

Personal Development: Exploiting the Alpha Moment

If there’s a topic trending today that’s up there among the top 5 most discussed topics on professional social media, alongside fake news and AI in HR, it has to be “Personal Development” and the many theories, tools, methods and opinions associated with it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve benefited a lot from Personal Development advice and training. I’m all for it because it’s helped me to close a deal here and settle a conflict there.

Alpha ThinkingIn fact, there’s one particular Personal Development theory, called “Exploiting the Alpha Moment” that’s helped me a lot. The theory maintains that by exploiting the so-called “Alpha” moment you can improve your personal motivation and develop a) your mental acuity and b) your intuitive/psychic abilities. In so doing you cultivate the positive while nullifying all the negativity that affects the decisions you make and the objectives you fix.

TL;DR? Simply put. The technique helps you analyse, fix and eliminate a problem preoccupying your subconscious you, e.g. a difficult project or a refractory team member, before your next meeting with the MD.

The “Eureka” moment

The theory explains that by exploiting that instant (whenever it occurs) – when the conscious and the subconscious are aligned – normally deeply buried problems and angsts manifest themselves as conscious, accessible thoughts, rather than as dreams (or cold sweaty, partner waking nightmares).

This “instant” can happen in several ways:

  1. During meditation when your mind is totally void of all conscious thought.
  2. If you are particularly receptive, during the day when your brain slips into neutral between two mental tasks.
  3. At night, just as you are falling asleep1 or in between two sleep cycles2.

1 The Alpha moment occurs in that instant, between waking and sleeping, when the brain having finished mentally processing the day’s activity, the conscious and the subconscious may fuse. At this precise point, an underlying (read: Nagging) problem can surface and, free of the day’s immediate requirements, the brain can use its full potential to think it through and find solutions and options that would have been impossible to find during the day.

2 The Alpha moment occurs between two sleep cycles, when still sleepy but mentally active, the solution to a problem crystalizes and everything falls into place.

Not convinced? Just think “Eureka”. Example: You’ve got a problem and you’re frustrated because you don’t know why. Yes, you have the facts but you can’t pinpoint the purpose or the cause. Gurus and experts will tell you that what’s needed here are intuitive abilities or receptivity (to verbal or non-verbal signals) or a flash of inspiration.

The problem is, though, these psychic solutions rarely happen when your brain is actively tackling the problem. My solution was to go home, sleep on it and, Insh’Allah, see how things developed the next day, except that in the meantime I started experiencing these bedtime “Eureka” moments when the brain went into overdrive.

When I researched this technique I understood it was what I’d  been practicing all along without knowing what it was. It had helped me anticipate and overcome situations and challenges, some of which, my own creation.

Post Mortem

“Personal Development”: Snake oil quackery or a valid life hack? Today we have the possibility of doing extensive, cross-referenced research into such techniques. It doesn’t cost anything to read a personal finances “Life Pro” hack coming from someone’s personal experience or professional expertise.

Posted in Everyday life, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mentors and Managers


I was reading an article on my favourite professional social media platform the other day encouraging readers to name their favourite manager and a question, actually several, came to mind: Why a manager and not a mentor? What’s the difference between a mentor and a “Favourite” manager? When does an experienced professional stop needing a mentor?

Let me just give that last question some context:

  • Professionally, you’re approaching fifty, you’ve had a career change or two, your current job can be a bit stressing but voluntary work helps you decompress and you’re climbing the ladder so all in all, the outlook is positive – and why shouldn’t it be?
  • At home, the family unit’s established, you’ve paid off a couple of major budget-restricting debts, you’ve got your emergency fund tucked away and your mortgage / property / investment plan is coming along so why would you need mentor at this stage of your life, after all, mentors are for people just starting their careers, aren’t they?

Yes and no. Every newbie, recruit, fresher, blue or beginner should have a mentor. I did and I’m glad I did but I’m also glad I’ve continued to meet mentors and people over the years who’ve influenced my career. And just how do you recognise a mentor? What differentiates a mentor from a manager or even a leader? Does taking someone under your wing and teaching them the trade make you a mentor? Does being a certified trainer?

Forget Google, Find Your Own

Mentors aren’t unicorns (the legendary animal, not the overvalued start-up kind) but they are rare and you need to be perceptive and receptive enough to find one. Once found, mentors come in all forms: willing, or not; benevolent or manipulator (because helping you helps them); empathetic or paternalist; guide or leader (the best lead from behind, they say); there are old school mentors and there are mentors who mischievously play with a concept to see if you’re on the same wavelength.

I define a mentor as being someone who, whether by chance or design, crosses your path one day, redefines your thought process and having got you used to going beyond your comfort zone continues on their way leaving you with the impression that what you just learned will influence the way you think, work and coexist with others for years to come.

Do I think experienced (read: senior) professionals still need mentoring? Is mentoring the solution for assuring senior employability? Yes, I do. A mind should stay curious and hungry because there is always one more obstacle to overcome; one more objective to reach; one more target to hit… and one more lesson to learn.

… Oh, and by the way, to answer the question posed in the LinkedIn article. No, I don’t have a favourite “manager” but yes, there are several “Mentors” I’ve worked with and who I’m grateful to for provoking a change of attitude over the years… debout mes ami(e)s.

Posted in Everyday life, Work