How Do We Develop Resourcefulness In Today’s Generation?

How Do We Develop Resourcefulness In Today’s Generation?

SY Sintra 107' Classic Wishbone Ketch
Sintra is a classic 107′ ‘Wishbone’ Ketch I helped deliver from Antigua to England in 1994 (c)

I was chatting to a really good friend, a Baby Boomer, on Sunday. Someone I respect deeply, who by any evaluation is successful. We’re both old sailors,so when I mentioned crossing the Atlantic in ’94, he said that he’d love to sail an ocean. To which I responded, “That’s a great idea, let’s do it later this year.” To which he laughingly replied, “I don’t have the money or time to do that.”

Time and Money…

In fact ask anyone why they can’t complete something they want to achieve and you’ll get a combination of “I don’t have the time, or money… …or skills, capabilities, support, resources, all of which are expressions of time and/or money (That is until a ‘compelling event’ when suddenly they find it…)

When we look to the outlier successes in our world, the Beatles, Churchill, Mandela, Gandhi, Branson, Musk, Gates, etc…, none of them were given more than 24 hours a day, and few were born with a ‘silver spoon in their mouth.’

The key to success then is not resources, but resourcefulness.

“We all have more to accomplish than we have resources to accomplish it.”

Yet my anecdotal observation is that the Resourcefulness Quotient, or RQ(TM) is sorely lacking today.

Hoisted By Our Own Petard

The fault is certainly our own.

We have become overly prophylactic, lazy, and generous parents, teachers, and adults. It’s no wonder that in a world were everyone has a smartphone with GPS people no longer have a sense of direction.

It’s not the fault of the technology either. When did you ever let your kids cycle to their friends’ house after school? Without the need to track their every movement! Take them camping or to a strange city, get lost and figure out how to get unlost together?

At what age did you expect them to make their own lunch, do their own washing, make a meal for the family? When their computer couldn’t connect to the Internet did you let them figure out how to fix it, or do it for them? (I personally blew this one and always fixed broken tech myself)

It seems (note: seems) that the current generation are satisfied being a spectator rather than participant, a consumer rather than creator, entitled rather than empowered.

Perhaps I’m wrong.

Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention

So how do you train resourcefulness?

I’m not sure you can.

(Although the military has a way of beating tactical procedure into people :-))

My hypothesis is you have to learn it through deep necessity. You have to figure out the quickest way to your mates house on your bicycle at age 7. How to make enough to go to the movies when you’re 14. Fix a flat tyre at 18. How to find work, shelter and food in a foreign country at 21.

It’s probably too late to take a someone from their comfortable life in the suburbs and dump them in the middle of a forest or even a foreign city and expect they’ll learn how to survive.

But We Have To Do Something.

Have you ever worked for a company that has had enough money, skills, and resources to accomplish all of their goals?

Me neither. There’s always resource contention. Never enough money for training, events, campaigns, recruitment, innovation, or other investments. Never enough time to follow up all the opportunities, or get all the admin work done.

So even in enterprises resourcefulness, the ability to prioritise and resolve problems, and make something out of ‘nothing’ is key.

Is resourcefulness an innate talent, nature rather than nurture? Something we cannot develop per se because you either have it or you don’t?

Is the answer some kind of National Service? (Not necessarily military, perhaps ambulane, fire service, community service)

Is it too late for anyone who’s been support by their parents, and then their spouse all their lives?

Crossing That Ocean

Back to my mate and crossing an ocean. Both time and money are man-made constructs. As such we choose how to spend, or invest them.

There is no reason in the world why we couldn’t cross an ocean in 2016.

I met a family with 3 teens who crossed the Atlantic in a 31′ trimaran; a retired dr and his wife on a 55′ steel junk in Antigua; even a 50 year old who bought an 18′ life-raft for R500 (~$200 at the time), put a Hobie mast on it, and used that to sail away from South Africa. He actually lost all his charts in a storm on his 3rd day out of Cape Town, and navigated to South America in a trip lasting 63 days using a schoolboy’s atlas. True story.

A little time using our pooled intellect to brainstorm ideas for funding, preparing, and finding a boat. Some sacrifice and a leap of faith.

Eminently doable.

Watch this space.

Ah PCH My Old Friend

I'm en route to Palo Alto for work next week, and decided to take this opportunity of two “book-end” week-ends to get back on to a motorbike in the country that has amongst the best biking roads in the world.

This time I'll only be travelling between LA and SF, starting northbound for 3 days, with potentially 4 to get back. But still there is much to explore beyond the coast.

Today I'll take the opportunity to head through Beverly & the Hollywood Hills, and will be camping inland from Santa Barbara in the Los Padres National Park, with just the briefest of sojourns on the PCH itself.

Tomorrow? Who knows… …nothing is booked, I'm just trusting in serendipity.

Please do follow my progress in near real-time (about 10-20 mins delay) at and check out this page, or my instagram, for photos/videos I post throughout the ride.


On Being Different…

On Monday, on QF 427 I met a young bloke studying Business at Uni. Just one of the serendipitous, random events of life that happens after you turn of your electronic goodies off when on descent. In our brief conversation, said bloke asked me for some advice to help him succeed in business.And as Baz Luhrman says in his song Sunscreen, you can take my advice for what it's worth.

But here goes…

I suggested he do 3 things:

1. Nothing substitutes for experience.

I believe in this truth in everything from riding a motorcycle, to defining an IT strategy. You can know everything there is to know, but you have to gain experience. So don't just learn, but also get out there and do. There are plenty of charities, churches, and other organisations that would benefit from your skills. So call them up and work for them. For free if you have to. Consider this an investment in your career.

When I recruit someone, I look to see what experience they have as well as their learning. And this goes for life experiences as well.

2. Focus on what you Love

If you focus on only on paying your rent/mortgage, buying a car, and going out – i.e. what earns you money – you will wake up one day and hate your life. No matter how comfortable it is. It takes energy and drive just to maintain the status quo in life.

So don't waste your energy and drive on anything other than what you're passionate about.

Then become excellent at it, and only then figure out what drives your economic engine.

In “Good to Great” Jim Collins calls this the “Hedgehog Concept” The one thing you do that intersects those 3 categories: Passion, Excellence, Purpose (Economic engine). Focus your time and energy on that one thing and become great.

But if you have to choose, choose the thing that you love doing most

3. Lead

You will always follow, but you have to take/make the opportunity to lead. So start something, or join something where you can exercise leadership. Sure, pay your dues, but get used to leading others. Having to influence divergent individuals to achieve a common goal. It could be a soccer team, a usergroup, a band, a breakfast or weekly walk. Lead it.

How about you?

What would you have said if someone asked you to help them succeed?


2013 – The Year that Was

And so 2013 comes to a close. All that is missing are the fireworks and the cheering. But as you read this we'll have crossed the threshhold, and all of the promise of 2014 will be upon us…

Not bad for a nondescript Wednesday in Sydney (or wherever you are). Charis put it best when she went off to the friends she'll be partying with tonight: “See you tomorrow Dad!” Yep, time, that illusory man made concept upon which we base civilisation, but really the sun will set, and rise, and another day will be upon us. E.g. Dexter doesn't care, as long as there's food.

But we have created this illusory concept, and do hang our achievements, investments, and celebrations to specific 24 hour periods. Like interviews, and birthdays, anniversaries, and exams.

Closing Chapters

Throughout life chapters close. Like reading bedtime stories to your kids. One day you read your last bedtime story, and the chapter has finished. You can't take your 15 year old and 'catch up' those 3 weeks of bedtime stories you missed because of the project in 2003. This year I realised that 2 chapters in our family story finished last year.

The first was our annual “No Mumz, No Rulez” winter camp. For over a decade we've been camping in the middle of winter, in the freezing cold, hence the no mums. Hence the no rules. (Pointless having rules without anyone to enforce the rules.)

Anyway, between burgeoning social lives, part time jobs, study and friend's with waning interest, this year we just couldn't get it together. So the very last “No Mumz, No Rulez” (at least with Amanzi & Charis) was last year. Wish I'd known then.

The second chapter that's ended is the family New Year's Eve party. That was two years ago, as all the girls & Lucy were in the UK or flying last year. And this year have boyfriends and friends they'd rather spend the time with. Actually I'm not too fussed, no doubt I'll get a text if we're not together, and not if we are 🙂 When was the last time you sang “Auld Lang Syne?”

This is not a bad thing, it's just a thing. But it catches you out somewhat.

Learning: Treat every time with your family as if it's your last, cos it very well may be.

Bonus Learning: Jealously create family story. If you don't plan it, and guard it, and fight for it, it won't happen. All you'll have to remember your time together is re-runs of “Friends” or “How I Met Your Mother”


There were a couple of biggies this year. In June, Lu saw in her half-century, and has been celebrating with her new saxophone ever since. Then she headed off to the UK in the week before Christmas to join her family in celebrating her mum's 80th.

There was also our 19th Wedding Anniversary, and the best year of marriage thus far. As ever, we had a surprise week-end away. Although this year was 5 nights away on a Cruise Ship

19, 50, & 80!! Wow!!

Reading the Future

I reckon this year will be where Cloud computing becomes seamless to most organisations and individuals. More important will be Big Data. There will be a dearth of Data Scientists and technologists, and if Australia doesn't get their act together with ubiquitous broadband (NBN) we will slip further from the lead economies.

Mobile will segue to wearable computing. Fitness & Health trackers, smart watches, smart glasses, wearable storage will all start becoming commonplace, and cause businesses more issues than tablets and smartphones.

Wearable tech will be simply a subset on the Internet of Things. This year more and more devices will connect to the Internet. This will create huge opportunities around connecting, sensing and controlling all of these computers. More need for Big Data, but also more need for a protocol for the IoT.

3D printing will become both affordable, and useful this year. More and more firms will start creating software components that customers can print at home. For the bulk of the year, this will be slow and crude, and in plastic, but watch towards the end of the year when multi-material printers start becoming available.

Wearable tech, especially video (glasses) and audio (smart headphones), will finally herald useable, hence mainstream, augmented reality. Whilst you can do a lot with the smartphone, it's still too geeky for your average punter. But having a HUD for recognising people at a conference, or directing you to the latest fashion, will simply be irresistible once it's affordable.

The big question mark is bio-informatics. Genome mapping is already affordable, and organs are already being 3D printed (kidneys, ears, cartilage, etc). I can see a future where individuals can “bank” their stem cells, and print one of their organs if they need one. But that may be 3 -5 years away yet.

What is certain is that genome mapping will become affordable enough to be used commonly in diagnosis. This will go a long way to individual pharmaceuticals.

Whilst on pharmaceuticals, increasingly “Organ on a chip” technology will reduce the cost, research time, and improve the quality of drugs. We're not about to eradicate the common cold, but we will be saving more and more people from diseases that were terminal, or debilitating, just 5 years ago.

4K will become affordable by the end of the year, and like DVD technology a decade ago, content will start finding it's way into download stores. Much as I hate using entertainment for this, yet another reason for ubiquitous broadband. Whilst it won't be mainstream just yet, more and more people will start replacing TV's with 4K to “future proof” homes.

More and more enterprises will go the way of Kodak, Borders, and Blockbuster, as the diseconomies of scale (payroll, facilities, rent etc) outweigh the economies of scale. As more enterprise quality services become available essentially for free on the Internet, enabling tiny start-ups to compete with multi-nationals, more companies will struggle to restructure their cost base and will fail.

2014 won't be the death of the large enterprise, but watch for the next batch.

Happy New Year

2 years ago I took the resolution to do at least one thing everyday that makes me happy (spending time with Lu & the girls, playing my drums, reading, video/photo creation, riding my motorbike etc).

This year at the “Wired for Wonder” Conference I learned about, and started the habit of writing down at least 3 things to be thankful for every day.

As we look to 2014, I can recommend this habit to change your mindset. It takes less than 2 mins a day, costs nothing, and really focuses your mind on all the positive things in your life. Don't stop at 3 either if you find more.

If people have done something you're thankful for, take the time write them a card to revolutionise your relationships.

This one small habit is incredibly powerful in changing your outlook to one of gratitude and joy, not to mention changing your relationships. If there is one thing that will enable you to have a Happy New Year, this is it.

I highly recommend it, and wish you all the best for 2014.