Never Before Had Europe Been Overshadowed By Four Giants – Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman

That’s how John Julius Norwich characterises the early 1500s in his book Four Princes. The four were all born in the 1490s  and went on to shape Europe for centuries to come:

      • King Henry VIII ruled England. He broke from the Papacy of Rome, established the Church of England, created a superb administration and transformed the navy.
      • King Francis I ruled France. He was the Renaissance man. He brought Leonardo da Vinci from Italy to France. He transformed the Louvre from a medieval fortress to a vast Renaissance Palace. He made French, rather Latin, the official language of the country.
      • Suleiman the Magnificent ruled the Ottoman Empire. He created a single code of law, expanded the number of schools and was extremely tolerant. He gave artists professional status and encouraged every form of artistic creativity by attracted artists from all corners of Europe whether Muslim or Christian.
      • Holy Roman Emperor Charles V combined rule in Germany, Spain and parts of Italy to create a new heart of Europe. Under his rule, European rule expanded to the New World defeating the Aztecs of Mexico and the Incas of Peru. 

But these highlights mask the violence and divineness of religion that was unleashed during the period. Continue reading “Never Before Had Europe Been Overshadowed By Four Giants – Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman”

How To Eat Your Way To 100 Years Old (3 min read)

There are so many books and articles about the right diet that it can be bewildering. There is the GI, Atkins, Paleo, Ketogenic, Dukan, Scandinavian LCHF, Banting, Bulletproof, South Beach and I’m sure many more diets.

All of these have there strong advocates and so it’s hard to decide which one to opt for. Thankfully, I came across the work of Professor Valter Longo,an expert on ageing, at USC Davis School of Gerontology. His work focuses on diets that can help you live longer and healthier, rather than diets that focus on weight loss and six-packs and is featured in his book , The Longevity Diet. His approach is based on five pillars: Continue reading “How To Eat Your Way To 100 Years Old (3 min read)”

Why Most Teams Are Dysfunctional and How To Fix It (5 min read)

I’ve worked in so many teams over the years – sometimes as a team member and sometimes as the team leader. I’d love to say that these teams were super high-performing ones, but I’m afraid they were not.

How do I know this? Well, according to Patrick Lencioni, teams suffer from 5 dysfunctions: they lack trust, fear conflict, lack commitment to decisions, avoid holding each other to account and not paying attention to team results. In that light, I think most my teams have been dysfunctional even the ones I have lead.  Continue reading “Why Most Teams Are Dysfunctional and How To Fix It (5 min read)”

The James Comey Book – Be Afraid, Very Afraid (6 min read)

James Comey, the former director of the FBI, recently published his account of working under the Trump administration in the book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership”. It’s the second high-profile book of the workings of the Trump administration – the other being Michael Wolf’s “Fire and Fury”. That was revealing in parts, and Comey’s book is also revealing, though not in the way many reviewers have focused on. Continue reading “The James Comey Book – Be Afraid, Very Afraid (6 min read)”

Heard About the Saudi Woman On the Moon?

That’s the outline of Andy Weir’s latest novel, Artemis. He previously wrote the bestseller, The Martian, which later became a movie featuring Matt Damon. As you can tell, Weir loves to tell stories about space travel. But more than that, he brings a realism to his stories that given them a strong sense of plausibility. In fact, with Artemis he even wrote a blog about how the economy of a moon colony (Artemis)  would work (it would survive on tourism).  Continue reading “Heard About the Saudi Woman On the Moon?”

I Had A Vision Of An Awesome Comic Book

Having just watched “The Black Panther”, I’m in the mood for comic heroes. It’s an awesome movie. I would’ve written a blog on it were it not for so many well-written pieces out already (here and here). Instead, I’m going talk about comic books…

I love graphic novels, but have never really got into superhero comics. That’s changed after reading this stunning 12-part comic series. It’s called  Vision and is written  by Tom King and inked by Michael Walsh and Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Continue reading “I Had A Vision Of An Awesome Comic Book”

What I Learnt From That Trump Book (“Fire and Fury”)

I get it, I get it. Donald Trump has no attention span, doesn’t read, doesn’t listen, obsesses about the media, eats fast food, watches too much TV, speaks before he thinks and acts impulsively. That’s what commentators have concluded on the release of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”. I’ve now read the book, and it’s certainly true that Wolff does everything he can to present Trump in that way.The trouble is no story is ever that clear.

Continue reading “What I Learnt From That Trump Book (“Fire and Fury”)”

My Favourites Of 2017 Part 2: Movies, Books and Songs, What’s Yours?

Singer Rhiannon Giddens and Hugh Jackman as Logan

My last blog was on my favourite apps, websites and purchases of 2017, this is on my favourite movies, songs and books of 2017. Remember to tell me yours! Here are mine: Continue reading “My Favourites Of 2017 Part 2: Movies, Books and Songs, What’s Yours?”

What Amazon’s Bezos Told Us In 1997

Remember 1997?  The year of Titanic, the first Harry Potter book and the best-selling Nokia  610. It was also the first year Jeff Bezos wrote a shareholder letter for his three-year old Amazon.com.

It makes fascinating reading. He talks about expanding staff from 158 to 614, having cash balances of $125mn and establishing strategic relationships with Yahoo, Netscape, GeoCities (I vaguely remember them), @Home (?) and Prodigy (?). He was especially proud of increasing sales from $16 million to $148 million. Continue reading “What Amazon’s Bezos Told Us In 1997”

A Love Affair With the English Language

You may not think that was the best way of describing Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel, Lolita, but that it was how he himself describes the book in its epilogue. I read it for the first time recently and I can see why. The language is mesmerising. In fact, it’s so mesmerising that forget the story is about a middle-aged man,a Humbert Humbert, pursuing a 12-year old girl. It is this dissonance that makes the novel shocking to this day.

In the book, Nabokov is able to describe the minutiae of American life in a way few authors have been able to match. He can also be very funny: Continue reading “A Love Affair With the English Language”