President Barack Obama had some choice strong words for the Islamic State Middle Eastern group, during a White House briefing statement issued yesterday, regarding the group’s execution of freelance photojournalist Jim Foley, who had been missing since 2012, after disappearing in Syria.

“Jim was taken from us in an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world,” he said, speaking from Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. “We are all heartbroken.”

The president ripped into I.S. group, which has swept across parts of Iraq, taking over towns, and kidnapping, and killing people, in an attempt to establish a new Sharia law islamic state.

President Obama had this to say: “I.S. has no ideology of any value to human beings. They have rampaged across cities and villages, killing innocent unarmed civilians in acts of cowardly violence. … No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day.” He added that I.S.’s victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and that the group “speaks for no religion.”

The President’s comments come after the I.S. group beheaded Foley in a video it released online. Foley was remembered by his mother Diane in a statement posted to the Free James Foley Facebook page: “We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people. We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world. We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.”

The Foley family echoed those sentiments in an emotional news conference outside their New Hampshire home Wednesday afternoon.

Did the U.S. know? According to CNN News, the US government knew that IS was threatening to kill Foley after the United States conducted airstrikes to help Kurdish and Iraqi forces regain ground in their home country.

United States President Mr Barack Obama had this to say: “The Entire World Is Appalled by the Killing of Journalist James Foley”
The online news outlet for which Foley was freelancing [Global Post] when he was captured, received an email last week from his captors “stating their intention to execute Jim,” according to president and founder Philip Balboni, who stated that the White House was aware of the communication but that the threat did not lead to any negotiations over Foley’s release.

The latest threat from I.S. is much more public. In the same video that depicted Foley’s execution, I.S. shows captured journalist Steven Sotloff, warning that his fate will depend on Obama’s “next decision.” Given his response Wednesday, that decision is unlikely to include leaving I.S. alone.

“The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless,” is what President Obama said in his speech. “When people harm Americans, anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done. And we act against I.S. standing alongside others.”

Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko | August 21, 2014

The Shared Economy

The reach of the shared economy has been overhyped to the point where the word “sharing” becomes virtually meaningless, even content less.

Social media sites like Facebook urge us to “share” information, data, locations, birthdays, our moods and most recent purchases, with an expanding crowd of “friends,” but more significantly with Facebook (or Google, or Twitter…) itself.

The “Big Data” these internet behemoths amass through “sharing” is worth big money. But that’s not all: information also equals power. Yet above all else information is wealth. Information is GOLD in their pockets and not in yours…

Or so the argument goes…

By sharing your information with these companies you are allowing them to track, collect information on, and even anticipate your movements, choices, and social interactions. Now, hey — some people find this pretty convenient! Others of us find it chilling, even dystopian. My point here is to ask: why call it “sharing?” This is the point where the bottom-up dream of a sharing economy is translated into the top-down code of a marketing algorithm. It doesn’t help that a number of “sharing economy” sites –such as Lyft (see above) and Yerdle — rely on Facebook’s built-in surveillance system to identify and track users. One meaning of “sharing” blends into the other, and the verb itself becomes intransitive, without object or content, just a vague call to “share.”

So what’s wrong with this?

Sharewashing does more than just misrepresent things like renting, working, and surveilling as “sharing.” It does more than just stretch and contort the meaning of the word “sharing” until it practically loses all meaning. It also disables the very promise of an economy based on sharing by stealing the very language we use to talk about it, turning a crucial response to our impending ecological crisis into another label for the very same economic logic which got us into that crisis in the first place.

What has driven our economy of overconsumption so far? The need for growth, based on the need for investors to make a profit. So for over a hundred years it has been all about growth — find new markets, develop new products, find new ways to get people to consume. That economy’s gotta grow, baby. And all the for-profit sharewashing companies listed above are also growing big time. They don’t counteract the growth juggernaut of the mainstream economy — they add to it , because they share that economy’s market logic of never ending growth for profit. Those spare rooms, empty car seats, and idle hands can be translated into money, once they are brought to market. Social relations which might have been characterized by real sharing are brought back under the aegis of monetary calculation and the logic of growth.

What we need is not more of the same old problem. What we need is less conspicuous consumption, less consumerism in general, and more fulfilling of real human needs in an equitable way.

We need sharing, and we also seriously need a clear idea of what sharing is and isn’t. That is if we are to move beyond a doomed economic model in which money is the measure of all things.

The goal of a sharing economy gives us a chance to do that.

Greenwashing has been around for years now. Corporations were not slow to realize that re-branding their products as “green” was a quicker, and much cheaper way to hold on to consumer loyalties than going the arduous, more expensive route of actually making their products better for the environment. Yet perhaps the allure of greenwashing has started to fade — entrepreneurs and marketing types are flocking to adopt the new buzzword “sharing” for their products, regardless of whether these involve any actual sharing per se.

The idea of a “sharing economy” is an important one, and urgently needed today. Rampant consumption and the imperative of economic growth are among the main causes for the environmental crisis we are now facing. Sharing resources we already have means cutting back on needless consumption; and sharing itself , the non-monetary movement of goods and services between friends and within communities, provides a long-overdue correction to the profit-driven expansion of our economic system.

So it’s important to be clear that the sharing economy as a whole is not involved in “sharewashing.” Below, I list three different ways that the term “sharing” has been roped into a sharewashing agenda.

The key difference between the promise of the actual sharing economy, and the flood of sharewashing companies seeking to hide under its mantle, is that the latter inescapably involve monetary exchange, for profit, in stark contrast to any definition of “sharing” your mother, presumably, once taught you.

Some people have kind, lovable landlords. Others aren’t so lucky. But all of us who rent our homes can be thankful that our landlords have chosen to share them with us — as long as we pay the rent, of course!

What? That doesn’t sound like “sharing” to you? You must not have heard how AirBnB — which facilitates short-term room subletting via the internet — has been touted as one of the premier examples of the “sharing economy.” Now, I have used and enjoyed AirBnB, as have many people I know. But is it a form of sharing?

Definitely and emphatically it is NOT.
It’s ridiculous to equate the AirBnB with a real sharing system like Couchsurfing and yet the AirBnB was spawned by Couchsurfing’s ideas. Only it was commercialized and it is a good example that in an economy there is space for both…

And AirBnB is not alone. Chegg lets students rent textbooks instead of buying them; Getable is an app that helps you rent tools. Both of these are quite reasonable, useful enterprises — yet both Getable and Chegg have jumped on the “sharing economy” bandwagon as if it’s “manna” from heaven.

At best, using “sharing” when you really mean “renting” degrades the meaning of the word and introduces confusion, potentially disenchanting those who would otherwise be attracted to the sharing economy. At worst, this is a cover for seeking out occasions when people are already sharing and turning these back into monetary exchanges, the very opposite of sharing.

There is is an even more flabbergasting, and frankly frightening, development of working being demeaned into sharing. Take the examples of Sidecar and Lyft. These are apps which allow you to drive your car around town, picking up passengers and taking them where they want to go, for money.

Sound like a taxi? No way! This is “ridesharing.” It’s not like a taxi in that you don’t need a taxi license or medallion, and you get paid via a “suggested donation” rather than a legally established fare…

It is like a taxi in that you get paid for driving people where they want to go, and because Lyft or Sidecar, or whichever competing service you use, takes a percentage of your income, just like a Taxi company does…

What do Lyft and Sidecar drivers share that taxi drivers don’t share? That would be much of the risk of doing business — in fact, the companies give the drivers all the risk, they’re that generous! “Ridesharing” drivers drive their own cars, use their own fuel, and pay their own insurance. And they are also the ones on the line when their pseudo-taxis get busted or when their insurance is denied after an accident because they were operating as an unlicensed taxicab.

And the taxi/ridesharing companies are not even the most extreme example of this. Consider TaskRabbit.

A TaskRabbit is an everyday person, just like a Sidecar or Lyft driver, but willing to do almost any task or chore that you have a need for. What’s even better, TaskRabbits will bid against each other to do the job, so you can pick the cheapest! Goodbye minimum wage laws! No more driving down to sketchy neighborhoods to hire desperate immigrants off the street corners. TaskRabbit brings all this to you — and takes a percentage, of course!

What is behind this urge to call working — and not just any kind of work, but difficult, low-paying, and often dangerous work — “sharing?” Simply put, TaskRabbit, Sidecar, Lyft and similar companies are at the forefront of the impoverishment of the US workforce. Taking people out of the Middle Class and getting them into a more and more uncertain and poverty stricken situation without worker’s rights is not an answer to chronic unemployment but a devolution of society to Serfdom.

Remember how many workers used to have unions, pensions, health insurance?

And now they don’t?

The erosion of worker power and their removal of the Middle Class status is an erosion of Democracy and Liberty. And it doesn’t stop there.

Because the loss of worker’s rights at the flexible digital marketplace where everyone is a nobody, has some self serving limitations.

Previously precious workers now lack job security, and long term career prospects. The uncertainty factor and the lack of civil protections like worker’s comp, unemployment benefits, health insurance, and even minimum wage laws — makes their collective standing untenable as anything but modern serfs…

Consequently am afraid that I see the serfs sharpening the pitchforks and coming for You as my friend Nick Hanauer heartily suggests…

Yours,
Pano

PS:

The real questions here are squared at the companies who benefit from this trend. Where is the long term Vision, the Clarity and the Business Ethics?

The reason why sharewashing is so unpalatable is because it lacks vision, and instead it is unethical and unclear as a business model.

So the companies exploiting this new “digital proletariat” to sharewash their products are just that. Ephemeral mirages without any long term value to speak of.

To the question: Why don’t your workers make a living wage? they answer glumly:

Oh, they aren’t working … they’re “sharing”

Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko | August 17, 2014

Dear Dead Poet…

“So if I asked you about art you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written…

Michelangelo? You know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientation, the whole works, right?

But I bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling.
Seen that.

If I asked you about women you’d probably give me a syllabus of your personal favorites.

You’re a tough kid.

I ask you about war, and you’d probably–uh–throw Shakespeare at me, right?

But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap and watched him gasp his last breath, looking to you for help.

And if I asked you about love you probably quote me a sonnet.

But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone could level you with her eyes.
Feeling like, God put an angel on earth just for you … who could rescue you from the depths of hell.

And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel and to have that love for her to be there forever.

You don’t know about real loss, because that only occurs when you love something more than you love yourself.

I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much. I look at you; I don’t see an intelligent, confident man; I see a cocky, scared shitless kid.

But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine and you ripped my fuckin’ life apart.

You’re an orphan right? Do you think I’d know the first thing about how hard ! your life has been, how you feel, who you are because I read Oliver Twist?

Does that encapsulate you?

Personally, I don’t give a shit about all that, because you know what?

I can’t learn anything from you I can’t read in some fuckin’ book.

Unless you wanna talk about you, who you are.

And I’m fascinated. I’m in. But you don’t wanna do that, do you, sport? You’re terrified of what you might say.”

–Robin Williams

Yours,
Pano

PS:

Nothing is an obstacle, even death — but is rather a stepping stone to a new place and towards the ultimate victory.

Get this understanding under your belt and then You’ll have some amazing super powers.

Alternatively, to lack this power means to be dominated by failures, external dramas, and perpetual unhappiness.

Your Call…

Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko | August 16, 2014

Knowledge is Hacking Gold

To limit your mind to one set of beliefs or an institutional belief system is to commit intellectual suicide.

Yet we often tend to shut down the possibility of another way or a myriad of different ways because we feel as being the smartest ones in the room.

However as my annual Summer Summit in Hydra, on “The Internet of All Things” unfolds — is again revealed to me that there are so many others who are far smarter and far more successful than me; it’s utterly humbling. And as always am honoured to host them and learn from all their wickedly different, alien, and diverse, yet tremendously enriching experiences.

Am doing this gathering of “Brains” in order to “painfully” listen as my own pet theories, long held beliefs, and pura-vida thoughts, get trashed and summarily thrown away as so much rubbish. And the funny thing is am doing this cheerfully. I am convening the best and brightest minds of our world, for purely selfish reasons of my own. Because I need more than most, to have an annual cleaning of the clocks, since as a Thought Leader, I tend to accumulate and examine more than my fair share of this elusive “Wealth of Knowledge”

Knowledge can be Gold or Fools-Gold, and unless You run it through the crucible of fire — one can never tell. And as it turns out the commercialization of knowledge in practical and Life changing Business Enterprises and Industry is the crucible of Fire for both the Technological as well as the Teleological Physical knowledge. “The ultimate Physics of tomorrow is the Metaphysics of today.” I’ve coined this phrase to help me get through and cut through the crap and tunnel vision shared by so many of our modern era scientists. “The Truth is what tomorrow will bring” is another Panoism. And this I hold firm since I pronounced it at MIT ages ago when studying Physics defined my Life’s ambitions…

Things have changed a lot since then and here in Hydra is where the rubber hits the road today. It’s here that I have to embark on other people’s thought planes and fly with them to new distant stars, galaxies, and exo-planets.

And it’s here in this little island, seat of our annual interactions that the magic happens. THe magic that puts heed to the words: “BE HUMBLE – BE BRAVE – BE GREAT”

And am only saying this because anyone smart enough, powerfully enlightened, and enriched enough, recognizes this. Am wealthy because of other people’s’ experiences, INTELLECTUAL CONTRIBUTIONS, and shared knowledge.

If you are a Leader — You will understand that.

My Epiphany from the last couple of awesome days is this: The ultimate “HOW” to be successful and change the world, is a study on how to be humble.

On todays’ first topic of the day as discussed at dawn and looking at the sun rising from the dark blue sea — we came to be informed by the world’s expert in Brain Science, that our native intelligence is always a barrier to further learning.

Most simpletons manifest that barrier as fear of change, and fear of irrelevance, thus erecting barriers constructed from beliefs, and entrenched set of data.

Since we tend to build a barrier between ourselves and our fellow “Human Travellers” knowledge, and then feel threatened, even in small and subtle ways, by someone of a different faith — it’s best to proactively accept all thoughts, beliefs, ideas and data points, as positive and then let them insert themselves organically where they might see fit in our Brain boxes, through relational datasets in long term functional retrieval memory.

That is how comes that the deepest faith in really smart people like Einstein or Stephen Hawking — is the intuitive conviction that all is as it should be, despite appearances, and that every human being is intrinsically good, despite appearances.

This happens to permeate the ideas in the teachings of the really smart Teachers out there too. Those teachers whose stuff was so Great, lesser humans built religions around their words…

Myself believe the same even though I strive mightily and fight daily for Environmental, Social, and Cultural Change.

This thought pattern simply acts to remind us to keep our minds open, to not take anything personally, and to always look out for the best in others.

Do this always, regardless of what they say or do. Be humble and intelligent enough to be able to see other points of view and get unstuck.

This is faith in life, and faith in the future. Instead of faith in a set of learned, inherited, and limiting beliefs.

Have you ever noticed how people don’t go to war over their faith in life, and their future?

Yet they always feel compelled to go to war over their set of faith beliefs.

It’s all about learning new things.
Learning Curves are the characteristic of capitalism.

Wealth is Knowledge.

Growth is learning.

Learning Curves are everywhere in Business.

Learning is Economic Growth. Yet learning takes time. Shorten the time of learning and get really really smart, wealthy, and powerful.

Time is irreversible.

Time is the real currency… Because it is the only irreversible, inexhaustible, and irreplaceable, Commodity.

Abundance is the wealth of Knowledge.

Far better than mining Gold or hacking Gold… or hacking and mining bitcoins.

Knowledge progression produces a veritable Cornucopia…

Period.

Yours,
Pano

PS:

Please remember this as you start digesting this year’s Annual Pano’s Intellectual Summer Summit:

“Everything is as it should be, despite appearances, all will turn out well in the end, and every human being is intrinsically good and proper — even though at times it’s difficult to see.

And please remember that despite all appearances to the contrary, the World is moving-on to a better place constantly.

Our progress is hampered by our own lack of imagination and nothing else.”

Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko | August 13, 2014

Captain oh my Captain

Captain oh my Captain

Methinks, we’ve been robbed in the game of round Robin

“The loneliest people are the kindest.

The saddest people smile the brightest.

All because they do not wish to see

anyone suffer the way they do.”

~ Unknown

Death is the Father of us all…

Every time this terrible father visits me, am repulsed, saddened, and chastised, by the rudeness of it all.

For he is a rude father. An alcoholic, angry, petty, little man, who has no time to be nice and no interest in being liked.

So it is always that when someone close to us dies, or when we are close to dying ourselves, right then before the lights go out — our mood turns sober and foul.

Seriously thinking about what it is we leave behind, when we enter the tunnel of Love and glimpse the white light, is a “High” much like when we aim to kill ourselves…

We enter another realm well in advance of our imminent departure. we are also at a foul and sober mood, because none of us can truly know what we mean to other people, and none of us can know what our future will bring.

Nor do we know what our immortal self will experience.

History and philosophy ask us to remember these mysteries, to look around at friends, family, humanity, at the surprises life brings — the endless possibilities that living offers — and to persevere.

But that is all hypocrisy. Because when you’ve got to go You’ve got to go…

And when you are the Captain oh My Captain… You’re going to see that underlying humanity, even in this act of ending it all.

So my Captain … I wish you a Great Trip to the hereafter and bid my Regards to the Angels that will ferry you there; for we all are coming to join you. Sooner rather than later and when we get together we’ll have a fancy dress party like when we lived nearby in the Mission and the party was always on. On, each and every night…

And forgive me cause when you were taking the most terrible decision of your life, and you needed someone with that deep down, bedrock humanity, so you can hear their voice and decide to stay — we weren’t there.

Yet we’ll be watching this show, powerless in the barbaric howling of why talented and funny men have to check out early.

Of course, You knew that there is always love, and insight, and children to live for, but when the light fades and the river of Life darkens and the walls are closing in — it is right to leave.

Still we had moments to cherish, and things to do, and parties to plan, and plays to organize. But even back then, the possibility of happiness, the chance of helping someone else through their own troubles, and the act of extroverting the Tragedy and Comedy of Life on stage — helped us all get through.

But these are all old times and moments of the past, and am now only interested in that unknowable place called “The Future.” The future, the moment of time that hasn’t arrived yet. And this unknowable place in time is what I’ll miss from you, because we could do this together.

Still am here today, testament, so you must know that people help us get through things. Even when they faintly understand how much courage it takes to stay. And you stayed this far… The ones who know that are grateful and all messed up sad. The assholes who don’t know that — are just that … and you can forget about them.

Cause even when you are deeply lost in the darkening hours, dwelling in the night shadows, and dreading the light of day — please bear witness to the side of being human and the bravery it takes to wait up for the sun.

Sit still with me and if we manage to sing away the darkness, we’ll travel across. And if we don’t we’ll just meditate upon the lack of human wisdom. So come be brave in your travels and may a Thousand Adventures await you in the upperworld.

For the rest of us, let’s just hope that we may find there is enough reason to be here. Enough reason so we can persist each and every day to see the dawn of the sun. Instead of looking to find out the roots, and maybe thread our way back to happiness, leaving this world.

For all the others bereft of company to keep — read the Poets. Or still your heart and take the first step to Life: Reason.

Rational thought is the most radical medicine in times of sorrow. Rationalize and consider the arguments, look at the evidence and maybe choose differently.

Maybe choose to stay. Stay your hand and stay back. Hold your horses and lay down your weapon of choice.

Put away the pills and the cold steel. Wound the rope back in the shed and unhook the ladder.

Have a walk – make a pot of tea – take a bath -
light a candle – meditate…

Do these things to get the angry man out of your head and out of your homehouse.

And wait, cause after that, anything can happen.

Yours,
Pano

PS:

But for all of us here, job number one is, we’ve got to choose to stay.

Stay and enjoy a bit more of our Welcome to this Earth even though we might feel like Trespassers at the moment.

Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko | August 11, 2014

The Circle of Human Family

Saadi Shirazi the 13th century Persian Poet, is well known for his aphorisms, the most famous of which, Bani Adam, is part of the Gulistan.

In a rather delicate way it shows the essence of Ubuntu and calls for breaking down all barriers between human beings:

بنى آدم اعضای یک پیکرند
که در آفرینش ز یک گوهرند
چو عضوى به درد آورد روزگار
دگر عضوها را نماند قرار
تو کز محنت دیگران بی غمی
نشاید که نامت نهند آدمی

This translation is by H. Vahid Dastjerdi:

Adam’s sons are body limbs, to say;
For they’re created of the same clay.
Should one organ be troubled by pain,
Others would suffer severe strain.
Thou, careless of people’s suffering,
Deserve not the name, “human being”.

This one by Iraj Bashiri:

Of One Essence is the Human Race,
Thusly has Creation put the Base.
One Limb impacted is sufficient,
For all Others to feel the Mace.
The Unconcern’d with Others’ Plight,
Are but Brutes with Human Face.

Tomb of Saadi in his mausoleum

And by Richard Jeffrey Newman:

All men and women are to each other
the limbs of a single body, each of us drawn
from life’s shimmering essence, God’s perfect pearl;
and when this life we share wounds one of us,
all share the hurt as if it were our own.
You, who will not feel another’s pain,
you forfeit the right to be called human.

And in classical English:
“Humans (children of Adam) are inherent parts (or more literally, limbs) of one body,
and are from the same valuable essence (or more literally, gem) in their creation.
When the conditions of the time hurt one of these parts,
other parts will be disturbed.
If you are indifferent about the misery of others,
it may not be appropriate to call you a human being.”

And in colloquial English:
Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.

If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.

If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.

And among the members of the body of humanity, apart from the most fundamental and essential connection of feeling the pain of other parts, there exist many more connections.

And those who can should try their best to keep this body healthy and in eternal youth, in harmony with nature.

–Saadi Shirazi

Yours,
Pano

PS:
Poetry gladdens the heart and sharpens the mind. But above all else it informs the Soul to connect…

Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko | August 10, 2014

The Path

Hafiz once wrote:

“That is what greatness does: kindly leaves a shelter for us to gather under, where more nourishment can be offered to all things. Strange the way my shadow began to fall. I was standing in a field helping the dawn appear, and when its body, the sun, was fully lifted into the sky I was amazed to see my shadow in front of me as I faced that luminous candle we all know.”

Yours,

Pano

If we lived in ancient Rome, I would imagine all of you — political Leaders, CEOs, Chairmen, Innovators, PMs, MPs, MEPs, Disruptors, Change makers, Outliers, Mindful leaders, Entrepreneurs, and Friends reading this blog — as being the perfect Senators.

Custodians of Democracy and Liberty for the Republic.

The benevolent “Republic of the Mind” we all are proud of serving.

You know who You are — leaders yet humble servants of the people, happy to be entrusted with the pursuit of Greatness.

In short You are all Senators. Young and Old alike…

Being a good senator is hard because it comes with a cost, since the best Senators were all fighting men.

The Leading Senators were always on the front lines of all Republican engagements to serve and protect their Democracy, and to further the aims of the benevolent Republic.

Men like You and me, were the best of them. Senators like Cato, Cicero, Catiline and so many others…

The best of them being Cato, the barefoot farmer, warrior, senator, and fighter for Democracy par excellence.

I never thought about it this way before but am also a warrior for Democracy — as well.

Democracy requires fighting… lest it withers and dies.

Complacency, security, and comfort, are always the ending credits for democracy, causing a dearth of rights, and the eventual death of the Benevolent Republic.

In these more modern and in some ways more primitive times — we live in — I realize more than ever today, that we are most successful in driving ourselves back to Serfdom instead of moving forward towards Democracy, Freedom, and Liberty.

And living fully the moment, within this pendulum of change, we realize that we have to fight for our own survival, only when we have moved too far off center. And upon realizing that we have to fight now, today, not tomorrow, for our very survival, and for the survival of our ideal republic of Democracy — only then we can claim to be making our mark in history.

Only when we have to fight the rising tides, building defences and bulwarks, and only when we stand guard against the constantly creeping totalitarianism of our lives, do we get a chance to make a ripple in the enveloping darkness.

And we have to constantly keep on fighting the darkness — much like a start-up has to fight for its place in the market, because all too often we stub our toes when we become too comfortable, confident, or seeking ever more safety and security instead of thriving through change…

“War is the father of us all” said the ancients, and yet as Thucydides was clearly moved by the suffering inherent in war and concerned about the excesses to which human nature is prone in such circumstances, reminds us: “War is a violent teacher”

Analogies between warfare, business, and Politics, are always imperfect, but I do believe that the principles of revolutionary guerrilla warfare in particular are useful to all young aspiring to change Leaders as well as to both managers and politicians, who find themselves in a constantly changing environment squatted upon by the elephantine dimensions of the present day Status Quo.

So let’s borrow a page from Ho Chi Minh, and see what the General has to say about the subject adjusted from the Guerilla Revolutionary Military rulebook to the practice of Leadership in today’s field of honour: The CEO leadership game. Live Happy was one of his precepts even in the thick of battle, or when faced with enormous loses and even when in prison. He extorts his leaders to not let the ego of being the Chief Executive, get in the way of being a leader with a servant’s heart. He suggests that we should never stop being self-aware, introspective, and continually working to improve who we are as a person, leader, and manager of human capital and other resources. He cautions us against becoming reactive in a tough situation based on the external pressures to reach for easy yet costly victories and to succeed in the new role of CEO leader. Never lose balance in your life as a CEO when you need to exercise spirit, body, and mind, in order to keep calm and collected in the face of adversity. And of course act boldly never waiting for all the information to come in because by then it would be way too late to act upon and the outcome perilous. Act with insight and follow your premonitions and the augurious auspices, by accepting that you cannot possibly know everything — and no Supreme Leader, Chairman of the Board, investor, or board member, expects that of you or of any CEO for that matter.

And of course Chairman Mao is also a keen leader of guerilla change and can lead us through this chapter in our History. Chances are that you would already know this if you ever bothered to read his book, but none the less, here you have it: “Who are our enemies? Who are our friends? This is a question of the first importance for the revolution.” Chairman Mao in Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society (March 1926)

Regardless of your reading habits, ideologies, or political persuasion, just think about the effectiveness of guerrilla tactics from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, to Che Guevarra and Fidel Castro, to Chairman Mao and Ho Chi Minh. They all succeeded against insurmountable odds at a time when nobody gave them credence.

The story is always the same: Guerrilla fighters, though outnumbered and poorly equipped, can capture the imagination of people, spread fear and inflict serious casualties on enemy troops,and ultimately win. In situations in which political loyalties are uncertain or changing quickly, highly motivated guerrillas can force political compromises or even win battles.

In my view, politicians, same as executives who view the marketplace as a quick-changing battlefield can use similar tactics, in what I call guerrilla warfare management, to achieve remarkable success.

The challenge is to implement revolutionary guerrilla management consistently and on an ongoing basis, since it goes against so much of what we’re taught.

First of all You should be ready to try many different things and see which ones work. “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend” is how Mao approached this conundrum when nine out of the ten things he did failed…”If we did ten things, nine were bad and got disclosed by the newspapers, we will be over. Then I will go, to the countryside, lead the peasant and revolt. If the Liberation Army do not follow me, I will get the Red Army.” (July 23, 1959)

Don’t be afraid to try always new things and to swim against the current even if it places yourself and the whole enterprise at risk. “Maybe you’re afraid of sinking. Don’t think about it. If you don’t think about it, you won’t sink. If you do, you will.” Chairman Mao offering swimming advice to physician Zhisui Li (1966)

And the sheer variety of differing approaches and fearless campaigns will allow you a measure of success and give you breathing room to grow. But then it becomes necessary to not fall into complacency because when a company or a political organization becomes successful and well established, there’s a natural tendency to institute corporate tree controls, establish hierarchies, and accumulate assets. But I think this is dangerous and runs directly counter to the individual initiative, and the swift change of positioning that is the backbone of successful revolutionary leaders and guerrilla management alike.

George Washington’s military strategy has been called bumbling at worst and brilliant at best. So which is it? Was George Washington a strategic genius or just lucky? George Washington’s Military Genius is simply the product of reading Military Strategy books and also applying thousands of different tactics until choosing the ones that work. Experimentation was at the core of Washington’s strategy. George Washington’s Military Genius broke the back of the British regular expedition army and laid down the path for the success of the American Revolution into four phases of strategy considering the various systematic outcomes of the conflict: “The British did not have to lose; the patriots did not have to triumph,” writes his current biographer Palmer as he proves without a doubt that Washington’s continuously-changing military tactics were deliberate, strategic responses to the various phases of the war, not because he lacked a plan of action but because he fought as a Guerilla Strategist always shifting, always reinventing, and innovating the battlefield. Confronting the critics who say Washington’s battlefield success and ultimate victories were a function of luck, George Washington’s Military Genius proves why the father of the greatest Democratic country also deserves the title of America’s preeminent strategist.

Long-term planning also conflicts with guerrilla management. If you plan ahead more than two seasons, you lose your flexibility and run the risk of locking yourself into approaches that will lag behind new developments. That is what Lao Tsu cautions against… and we have good evidence that George Washington read the newly translated ‘Art of War” book in 1774. The Lao Tzu treatise on war was brought out and translated from the Chinese a couple of years earlier and found a small following amongst the Strategists of the day…

So George Washington’s contribution to victory in the American Revolution was not that of a great battlefield tactician; in fact he sometimes planned operations that were too complicated for his amateur soldiers to execute. However, his overall guerilla strategy proved to be rather successful: Keep control of 90% of the countryside and the rural population at all times; keep moving; keep the army intact by avoiding pitched battles; use your meagre resources and forage constantly; train always; suppress the Loyalists and reactionaries; avoid decisive battles except to exploit enemy mistakes (as at Saratoga and Yorktown); allow the enemy to sleep comfortable in the big cities like New York, because they will fall in due time like overgrown ripe fruit, on their own.

George Washington dreamed big but planned little. So I too dream far ahead, but I don’t plan far ahead.

The first step in making revolutionary guerrilla management work is to establish the right conditions in your political organization, NGO, or company. The second step is to use those conditions to strategic advantage.

So what are those right conditions to make your company operate at peak capacity?

Stay Lean, fight mean, and always keep moving while hungry. Avoid pitched battles at any cost. Move swiftly and keep changing your positions each and every night. Activate and organize your community. Gain legitimacy by the people, from the people, and for the people. Avoid infrastructure and honour taking. Just as heavy equipment can impede an army in its battle with guerrillas, fixed assets can be a drag on companies in fast-changing industries. Fixed assets not only lock companies into technology that is soon out of date, but they can also be a drain on your most important resource, management energy. Acquiring fixed assets is always a temptation, though, because on paper at least, it seems to cost less than contracting work out. Indeed, perhaps the biggest hidden cost is the management energy that goes into setting up such operations. Management is our scarcest resource, and I want it directed only toward those things that are most essential to cash flow generating. Period.

Keep the lines of communication open. In the heat of battle, a guerrilla commander needs accurate information and the ability to communicate quickly with troops.

The same is required of guerrilla managers, so we’ve set up a number of systems to improve communications. Eliminate all secretarial positions, which means that all leaders must answer their own phones, emails, communiques and interact directly with the public. You’d be surprised at how much more effective you become without a secretary to screen all comers. And also you learn loads of news and gain insight when you talk directly to your clients in the field.

We allow people to work from home, from the road and from hotdesks in many locations across the globe. And we also travel a whole lot so… We need to be axiomatic mobile warriors at best. And in order that things don’t come to a standstill when we’re away from our hotdesks, we all have a routing number leading to our mobile devices and as a further reach we use a decentralized digital answering service to record messages and searches. This untethers people from the office because once you have your troops mobile and able to communicate efficiently, you can use guerrilla management tactics to maximum advantage.

Chairman Mao reminds us that a revolution is not a dinner party. “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

So don’t be afraid to break some plates. Breaking rules and plates is not unkind. It is just necessary to use these tactics to win the war.

Revolutionary tactics include the following paths from the best warriors. Mao, Che, Fidel, Ho, and Sun Tzu all said this: Look for bold, opportunistic, and easily winable battles, where courage and stealth make all the difference. Guerrilla fighters always make up for their smaller numbers against regular armies with superior equipment by being opportunistic. They catch enemy forces off guard, inflict heavy casualties, steal resources, and, if necessary, withdraw quickly. When you’re dealing with large and fast-changing markets, you have to do the same.

Vision, vision, vision. Show your troops the way. Successful guerrilla forces are led by commanders who also are in the thick of the battle. Guerrilla managers have to be willing to get upfront, jump in the trenches, fight in the troubles, and lead at the head of any engagement. That’s why they call them Avantgarde. This is especially important when the total war effort is going poorly.

Motivate your people to keep fighting. Be candid about your problems, and acknowledge in all company meetings your setbacks and the fact that you are on the defensive, being attacked by substantially stronger enemies. When you get stumped, always boost morale, by reassuring employees that you have a plan. Any plan is better than no plan. Avoid recriminations and blame shifting. Take upon your shoulders all the responsibility and lead the fight to the attackers. Make sure to flesh out in detail a “Machiavellian” strategy ahead of time. Most important element of that strategy is that instead of simply exhorting employees to work harder, go with them in the field showing them the way. In no time at all you will regain the high ground and totally turn the situation around.

People are always stunned how effective “guerilla warfare” is… and that is the critical advantage of the Guerilla leader in the Modern day warfare.

Always give your troops responsibility. Multilayered chains of command bog down all companies, political parties, and established armies. The same happens to growing companies. Avoid that at any cost.

Unfortunately, when trying to imitate large corporations – smaller businesses look to hierarchy to relieve the prevailing chaos. Instead, it often creates inefficiency and inhibition. The perils of centralization are well known to anyone who studied any Strategic warfare period of History.

Decentralization is the key tenet of Success much as nature observes this — so should You.

Fight on your terms. If your opponent’s crack troops are based in the valleys and its worst troops are in the mountains, you’ll do best as a guerrilla to fight in the mountains. It seems obvious, but guerrilla managers sometimes lose sight of the basics. It’s easy, unfortunately, to get a little lazy once you’re successful. It is a fact that the smartest guerrilla managers can’t afford to be out of shape for long, since they know there’s never a final victory to be won. At best there’s only a reprieve until the next battle must be fought.

Learn to manage the war effort and don’t prepare for peace because there might never be one… as Chairman reminds us: “There are many stubborn element, graduates in the specialty schools of stubbornness. They are stubborn today, they will be stubborn tomorrow, and they will be stubborn the day after tomorrow. What is stubbornness (huan’gu)? Gu is to be stiff. Huan is to not progress: not today, nor tomorrow, nor they day after tomorrow. People like that are called the stubborn elements. It is not an easy thing to make the stubborn elements listen to our words.”

So keep fighting. After all that’s the best exercise and that’s how you can stay lean, mean, and hungry. So the stubborn paper tigers provide plenty of exercise for You.

Now that you know the basics of guerilla warfare — go and make good use of this blood gained knowledge

And use these those tips to make a “killing” and never turn back.

There is no such thing as thinking laterally, vertically, inside the box, outside the box, or in the periphery of one…

Consider there is no box.

Be dangerous, feared, and respected, and above all else know your real friends from your enemies. Friends and enemies change positions and shift sides constantly. Be aware of that lack of solidity, scarcity of principle, and selfishness in human nature. Always scan the horizons for these changes of ‘weather’ cause they can do you in. This is of the utmost importance.

And accept that the more successful You are the more the jealous Demagogues, the loser folk, and the decrepit minds will attack you. Don’t pay any attention to them because if you stop and start throwing stones to all the barking junkyard dogs along your way — You’ll never make it home in time for supper. Thus spoke “Winston” that best of breed English Bulldog…

Chairman Mao said: “I am hated by many, especially comrade Pang Dehuai, his hatred is so intense that he wished me dead. My policy with Pang Dehuai is such: You don’t touch me, I don’t touch you; You touch me, I touch you. Even though we were once like brothers, it doesn’t change a thing.”

Yours.
Pano

PS:
By the way: “Republic of the Mind” is my next book and it will surely surprise you.

Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko | August 7, 2014

On Culture

“We have to create culture… don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”
― Terence McKenna

“Unjust Africa”
Guest Article by Aryeh Neier
Aryeh Neier, is the President Emeritus of the Open Society Foundations and a founder of Human Rights Watch, also is the author of The International Human Rights Movement: A History.

At its recent summit meeting in Equatorial Guinea, the African Union formalized its decision to expand the jurisdiction of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to include international crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. On a continent where populations have suffered extensively from such crimes, the African Union’s move might at first seem like an important step toward increasing accountability. But, as the accompanying amendment to grant immunity from prosecution to sitting heads of state and senior officials clearly demonstrates, it is actually a transparent effort to let guilty parties off scot-free.

Since the United Nations Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 1993, international criminal justice has come a long way. Indeed, despite intense scrutiny and agonizingly slow trials, several more special tribunals have been established to hold individuals accountable for large-scale crimes committed in countries like Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, and Lebanon. Moreover, the ICTY was instrumental in the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002, which has acted on crimes committed in several more countries.

These courts have held hundreds of important trials, almost all them involving the prosecution of guerrilla leaders and high-level officials – including heads of state – who had played a major role in large-scale atrocities. The first head of state tried by an international court was former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević, who was accused of overseeing the massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serbs. Though he died in custody before the trial was completed, his case was a landmark moment in the development of international criminal law.

Since then, international courts have had some major successes. Jean Kambanda, the prime minister of the caretaker government during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, is now serving a life sentence. Former Liberian President Charles Taylor is serving a 50-year sentence for aiding and abetting crimes committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war from 1996 to 2002.

And work is underway on many more cases. The only surviving leader of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, Khieu Samphan, is on trial for genocide and crimes against humanity, including torture, enslavement, and murder. A former president of Côte d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo, and the current president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, are also being prosecuted.

Meanwhile, the ICC has indicted Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for atrocities committed in Darfur, though he has not been apprehended. And the African Union itself is helping to bring Chad’s former president, Hissène Habré, to trial in Senegal.

The fact that the charters of all existing international courts and tribunals explicitly deny immunity to anyone is no coincidence; it is vital to their functioning. After all, it is difficult to commit the kind of mass atrocities that would be tried by an international tribunal without the involvement of heads of state and other top officials. And an international court’s credibility and moral standing depends on the fundamental principle that everyone is equal before the law.

Viewed in this light, the African Union’s decision seems to have been driven by the desire to establish the African Court as an alternative to the ICC, thereby giving the continent’s leaders – including those who met in Equatorial Guinea – a means of gaining immunity for their crimes. That stance threatens to unravel more than two decades worth of progress.

Equally problematic, the African Union’s decision creates an additional incentive for heads of state and other senior officials who have committed atrocities to retain their grip on power. Without periodic democratic transitions, these countries’ citizens have few ways to effect change. The resultant feeling of helplessness could fuel unrest – a dangerous prospect, especially in countries that have already suffered mass atrocities at the hands of their leaders.

Instead of providing new reasons for African leaders to hold onto power, the AU should be encouraging them to step down upon the completion of their terms. Only then can it legitimately claim to be pursuing a “united and strong Africa.”

Yours,
Pano

PS:
Africa itself fails every once in a while on the inevitable route to Progress but this step is singularly wrong.

You cannot grant immunity to heads of State anymore than you can stop AIDS by showering with soapy water, or immunizing against the Ebola virus by stomping the ground dancing around the house door…

We all know these things do not work and yet these are popular beliefs held and communicated by some African leaders…

These faulty beliefs lead to many more deaths than necessary.

Try to immunize us from this sort of thinking now moffos…

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