Social Media Is Everything That’s Wrong With This World

Attending a Chamber of Commerce and Industry breakfast talk on social media in the workplace, the slant unexpectedly focused on the true issue in a country like South Africa, namely the deep-rooted underlying racism that makes itself known in a million different ways in our private and professional lives seemingly every day of the week. Racism being defined as the belief that the human species are divided into race groups, this is coincidentally a phenomenon you’ll encounter all over our planet, as it is known to rear its Us vs Them head irrespective of the racial or subcultural groups involved.

The talk hit home, no doubt sparked by the Penny Sparrow debacle which saw a racial Facebook comment by a small-town estate agent go national and mushrooming into the dismissal and suspension of, and lawsuits against, celebrities, public officers, and corporations alike.

The presentation appealed to businesses to focus on what is truly important in SA, namely

  • address racism,
  • improve quality of life for employees by turning the workplace into a safe haven, and
  • provide thought leadership that has caring for staff as an undercurrent as opposed to exclusive strategic thinking into profit margins.

All highly valid and valuable points that cut to the heart of the matter.

However, in doing so it illuminated an even more pressing reality: The misunderstanding and misrepresentation of social media in our society, and especially so in the workplace.

Social media is very wrongfully perceived as a trend certain people partake in because, perhaps, they’ve nothing better to do, or are “those” type of people. Or, equally bad, a business tool used by marketers to get more likes, more inbound leads, more sales, more more more. Indeed it can be all of this and more. It can be seen as an instrument for hate speech, which echoes the flavour of said presentation, the presenter of which was of the opinion that the problem with social media is that “it allows us to say what we think.”

Now, while this could be seen as a valid philosophical or socio-political discussion when in company of one’s choosing, the record has to be straight when we take a purely sociological approach by studying society and its social behaviours, making no value judgements but instead observing how humankind makes its way through the maze of modern life.

If the world we live in today is the labyrinth that has to be navigated in order to capture our own unique minotaur – whatever we consider it to be – then social media is the golden thread that allows us to get in and out alive; at an extreme end, think the role of social media in Egypt’s Arab Spring, or in a day-to-day setting the power it has to

  • combat loneliness, or create a feeling of exclusion
  • contribute to global, regional, and/or local awareness, support, and action
  • depression and suicide outreach
  • craft friendships
  • make or break relationships.

This is not merely my opinion, but a historical and current reflection of the role social media can and does play in the world we live and breathe in.

Social media is also, and even more notably, the scribe recording our living history. Social media isn’t Facebook. It’s not Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram. It’s not a social network worth x amount of billions, and it’s not the best-selling ‘Grow your fan base to grow your profit’ guides internet marketers have you buy at “only $9 for the next 24 hours”. Social media is an evolution of human behaviour, and it evolves us by handing us a mirror that reflects to us who we are and who we are or might want to become. The fact that it offers us a recording of our every recorded move or thought happens to make future historians’ day jobs a whole lot less puzzling.

Does social media fuel racism? Not if there was no racism to begin with. Whatever is officially left unspoken will be highlighted and brought into the light by people’s use of a tool for self-expression.

What relevance does social media have in the workplace? Simply put, employees, clients, customers, and business stakeholders alike are guaranteed to voice their opinion of and experience with any one company at some stage or other. As a business, you will either be prepared and able to accept the accolades or fight the fires, or you’ll be caught unawares as you’re thrown into the deep end, with spectators cheering on for you to drown.


All Hashtags Are Equal, But Some Hashtags Are More Equal Than Others

I’ve often wondered if I was destined to go into digital. When it comes to website URLs and social media pages, you had better decide on a business name to secure your online real estate pretty much before you’ve even decided to start a business, if you’re going to grab the right name in time.

Because I, back in the day when I was writing for the sake of it and not the share of it, obsessed over what to call any creative child I was about to give birth to, I was pretty much bred for digital baptisms right from the start.

In most cultures, whether contemporary or ancient, naming a newborn is a significant rite of passage, for it’s in this naming act that the child’s future is shaped. Early folklore told that failing to name a child in time was to leave the door right open for fairies to snatch your precious youngling away in exchange for a changeling of their own choosing.

Thus, as per usual, I find myself compulsively obsessing over what to call something – clearly an important endeavour, as I’d much rather have my brainchildren see my light of day than that of Neverland. Only, in this case, that something is more than a domain name that is SEO-friendly or an article name that will entice clicking ‘Read more.’ Today, having over a period of time steadily borne witness to its growing existence, I am to lend a hashtag to a movement. Of course, as a 30-year-old white woman who owns precisely zero pairs of sneakers or leggings, whose idea of downtime is pressing the ‘Randomise’ button on Wikipedia, I’m hardly riding the skateboard of cool. So let’s not expect the hashtag of the revolution now, shall we?

I started off, as one would expect, with Afripreneur. I won’t lie. For the 8 seconds it took to load the Google search results, I thought it was awesome. Of course, once I realised I’d have to marry an IP lawyer if I wanted to refer to this anywhere other than said company’s marketing boardroom, I’d have to find fault with the term, for my own ‘no regrets’ peace of mind, if nothing more.

But that process of idea-dissing was a fruitful one, for it made me dig real deep. Ask the hard questions. Put off creating the Facebook page a little longer.

Is this a term worthy of the goosebumps this phenomenon gave me?

Having been an entrepreneur, having – to my psychologist’s accountant’s delight – an evergreen entrepreneurial spirit that has solemnly pledged to haunt me every minute of every day that I don’t spend in pursuit of its calling … I am full and well aware that entrepreneurs are something else. When cloth was cut, someone herded the crowd over to the table to get in line for a measurement, and the ones who were too busy living life on their terms to come to attention when the bell struck 12, those were the ones we tend to call whisper about as ‘those people with their own businesses.’

Of course, having ‘betrayed’ my tribe by going over to the dark side of “safe” employee-ing in the “safe” corporate stratosphere, I’ve had to widen my definition of what it means to be “a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.”

However, seeing that as an entrepreneur, profit was – to the detriment of my balance sheets – never the dot that ticked my i’s, then I should much rather call myself a socialpreneur. Which already winks at me that perhaps there is more to the business building-species than what meets the eye.

The word ‘preneur‘ is a French noun meaning ‘taker’, originating from the Latin word ‘prendere‘, ‘to seize’. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that in Africa, as in other third-world parts of the world, and even in Number 1 Nations, entrepreneurship is not always a question of being all that and seizing opportunities.

In keeping with the trends, these days ‘growth hackers’ and ‘bootstrap businesses’ are all the rage. Hipsterpreneurs (there’s currently only 3 search results on Google for said term, so I’m expecting a hashtag mushroom on this one)* don their thick-rimmed, edgy-coloured glasses as they do their startuping and their digital nomading and in the process reinvent business as we know it. God bless their vintage-with-a-modern-twist souls.

*Update: Turns out it was the typo ‘hispterpreneur’ that cried for a hashtag. Viva la the Digital Age where there’s no new search terms under the sun.

According to Silicon Valley Dictionary, a hipsterpreneur ‘sits frequently in hi-design coffee bistros’, claiming to change the world ‘with his big eco-friendly & non-scalable idea.’ Harsh.

But I am an African, and part of the reason I am filled with such tears-to-my-eyes pride when I say that, is because Africa is not for sissies. South Africa, for example, has her leaders of the pack: Think Elon Musk. Charlize Theron. Only, people like them are considered South African by birth but very little else, for they soon spread their wings to greener pastures. Why? Because the world, of course, is their oyster, and you grab the bull by the horns. And remember, Africa ain’t for sissies.

Entrepreneurs in Africa – Afripreneurs? – generally have more pressing needs compelling them into business. Like poverty. A scary big unemployment rate. Child-headed households.

So I have to come up with a term I feel goes a long way in describing the nitty and truly gritty reasons Africans sometimes become entrepreneurs: Because, more than a calling, it can be a way out, and oftentimes the only way out.

Enter contextual inspiration.

Over a span of two days, I sat on the judging panel of a SEDA initiative, spearheaded by Nico de Klerk, a bona fide socialpreneur who has dedicated his life and livelihood to fostering not simply a theoretical appreciation but instead actively driving a practically applied passion for entrepreneurship, starting at school level.

What I witnessed, what I was momentarily part of, was a spark of hope, a coming together of those who care and those who need the caring and reaching out.

As the KwaZulu Natal Grade 11 winners were crowned at an awards ceremony that, for many must have been their first-ever exposure to a minuscule version of glitz and glam, I couldn’t have been a prouder African. Regardless of what ails may plague our nation and our continent, we are walking alongside everyday heroes. The future of a nation and a world lies in the hands of our youth, and with us as empowering mentors, I have so much hope for our tomorrow’s leaders.

Township kids with little to no resources and little to no exposure to the world out there – hey, let’s not forget that most of them probably still use a shared outhouse when nature calls – but with big ideas (huge!) and big dreams holding their prize money smiling alongside Ndaba Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, who spread a message of hope and a plea to embrace failure, as it’s continued failure that results in eventual success. This is what is possible. For our nation, for all nations. This is what embracing and fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship can do, bottoms up. Bend the tree while it’s young. It might just end up a mighty oak, and able to provide shade to a whole village.

These two learner teams, one a social entrepreneurship endeavour, the other a for-profit team with a tech idea that will blow your socks off, will now go on to participate in the SAGE SA Nationals, before – fingers crossed – going through to the international arena in 2016’s event being held in Manila, Philippines, the way they did when South Africa came an astounding fourth in last year’s SAGE World Cup. SAGE is a worldwide initiative for Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship, and we most certainly need more of those.

And so it came to me … being an entrepreneur, whether for profit or social responsibility or both (so you can sleep with a clean conscience and afford a roof under which to do so), whether you become one because it’s your calling or because it’s the one thing that stands between you and imminent physical starvation, is a position you place yourself in that sets you apart from the rest of the world. To be an entrepreneur is to create a new world, an alternate reality that you have control over, a reality that you can introduce others to, ultimately bettering their lives in the process along with your own. Being an entrepreneur is to move about differently in this world, and through your choices and actions, to create ripple effects in the world around you.

All in all, I’ve found my subjective answer to world peace and the #YoungWorldpreneurs I believe we’ll call upon to drive it.


Parenting Hack – The Secret to Launching a Child to the Moon

As a parent – success manual or not – there’s a number of mental checkboxes that stalk our thinking patterns. One of these is the responsibility of setting our Mini Me’s up for the day they wave their wings bye-bye at the nest and set off into the Great Unknown. Though let’s face it, in these uncertain times with a shape-shifting job market, on bad hair-days us parents easily mistake this task for a burden to which there’s no easy solution.

Playing mom to a 10-year-old, I’ve a decade’s worth of ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ navel-gazing moments on my tally. Targeted parenting books have been skim-read, key podcasts downloaded and half-listened to, and many a social-setting convo had me ready to burn the flag of whatever oppression is holding our kids back from ‘making it’ once they start tackling life on their terms, sans parents to the rescue.

Along the way, I’ve compiled a mental list of must-have’s for that all-important rocket launch set to happen in about 8 years or so. A lot of these are factors also lives in ‘A letter to my younger self’, and have been learned the blood, sweat and tears way.

Enter the ninja, and one that simply didn’t exist in my reality when I was still running around with pigtails. One that, it just so happens, could very easily be hailed as one of the major factors that are transforming our world as we speak.

Growing up, most of us got the feeling that maths and science was a surefire way to success. That’s the impression teachers gave, anyway, with top maths and science students the assumed bestseller stories of tomorrow, and fledgeling students in these subjects tsk tsk’d and steered to pursue a career in office administration, instead. Since it was mostly nerds and goody-two-shoes who did well at these “important” school subjects, peer pressure dictated that we didn’t care too much, anyway – to be cool meant you had to get near-fails and say “Whatever” in just the right tone of voice.

Fast-forward to a world today’s under-18 generation call home and it’s a whole different story. STEM – Science, Technology, Mathematics, and Engineering – is all the rage, and everyone’s queuing up to get in on the action and help students from zero to hero. Aptitude is no longer a requirement because, in a crazy-short period of time, the world has become technologised, with digital the new offline.

As parents, we fussed over teaching our kids their ABCs, yet one single generation after ours, the alphabet is steadily making way for a new literacy: Coding.

“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”

– Steve Jobs, Apple

As parents, we get excited when our kids reach for a book because, up till now, society has equated reading with intellect. Consider, then, that coding is literacy on steroids, because coding doesn’t make you a mere reader, but a writer.

“Every programmer is an author.”

― Sercan Leylek

The little tree I’m bending will have his own ‘Things I Wish I Knew Back Then’ cut out for him one day. But one thing he’ll never have to match is my Google search history.

If you’re in the Durban, South Africa area, we’ve teamed up with sponsor CompuKids to bring a CodeClub Meetup to kids around the city keen on going geek and learning awesome new tech skills…for free!

Join the Meetup and Facebook groups to get involved.


Biological Warfare In the Business World

Self-proclaimed lapsed biologist, strategist and NYC MD of Boston Consulting Group, who stands at the head of its Henderson InstituteMartin Reeves delivered a remarkable TED talk that – as far as TED-worthy ideas worth sharing go – is about as idea-infused and share-worthy as it gets.

Through a rabbit hole-deep analogy between biology and business, he sets out to match certain key characteristics found in everything from the human immune system and tropical rainforests to the Catholic Church, all underpinned by resilience and endurance, then looking at the same six principles he identified, together with Princeton biologist and mathematician Simon Levin, through the fine-toothed comb of the business beast.

While traits such as

1. redundancy

2. diversity

3. modularity

4. adaptation

5. prudence

6. embeddedness

doesn’t strike as being keywords that keep SEO specialists up at night; according to Reeves, they might very well be the teargas in the victorious army’s weapons arsenal.

Touting examples such as Kodak vs Fujifilm and Toyota’s raging valve fire, he asks – as every other business article does these days, before referencing Uber as a synonym for disruption – why some manage to stay while most wither and die.

A standing joke amongst digital marketers that the only people who give its importance the light of day are, of course, digital marketers, so too are those of a more futuristic inclination prone to exclaim, “This has been said to death but it’s still relevant as hell.”

In fact, it hasn’t been said enough, for outmoded, hierarchical structures founded on the landmines of business practices of times gone by still abound. [Tick tock, tick tock.]

For the Kodaks of the world (a company that, keep in mind, didn’t become the poster child of a business that failed until it failed to keep up when it was too late to realise and turn a corner on the fly) talk of disruptions are just that: talk seen as disruptive in the light of scheduled regular programming. For it’s trendy (and therefore new – much like evolution is new and, arguably, the avant-garde showcase of the day). It’s irrelevant because it’s part of that industry, those target markets, not this global village getting smaller by the second. And it’s resource-constraint because it’s a startup and it only dreams of having our deep pockets and limitless pantries.

Mechanical control. I am force A and, through my extensive supply chain and drone troops doing my bidding, I shall exert Force C.

In contrast, Reeves highlights biological manipulation. Now, you might have encountered this. In fact, you must have, because, after aeons of scratching around the scorching earth, your species are still digging here, there, and everywhere, thanks wholly to its uncanny knack to biologically manipulate (i.e. evolve) its biologically manipulative environment (gotta love this whole ‘earth marries human and human marries earth right back’ thing we have going on).

In the business world, you might recognise these stealth supersoldiers by their frustration over a lack of the very chemical cocktail ingredients the Big Boys rest assured in, only to flip the whole thing on its head, shatter the window, and grab a whole new drawing board. I won’t insult your intelligence by quoting disruptions. They’re out there, they’re everywhere, and you’re smart enough to use Google and wise enough to start feeling scared if you stare at them Go! long enough.

It’s their very lack of everything that makes the corporate world feel safe and snuggly at night that are fueling their fires to quit games they can’t win, and instead to simply rewrite the rules in their favour. That’s pretty much a poetic definition of Darwin’s classic right there, and it becomes the new black through everything from tails no longer needed to, these days, boring business battles that are just so passé

[Reeves does his due diligence by warning us that Big Business was once a small founder with a big idea, and they very probably and highly necessarily got the current corporate chip on their shoulder precisely *through* exercising these very guerrilla tactics. But somewhere along the way, nimbleness and agility made way for ‘doing it like the Old Boys’, and ultimately there’s another downtown startup mentality funeral. Beware.]

Choose your side wisely. In the calm before the storm, I’m shacking up with the rebel forces. Even tanks can’t withstand terraforming.

Nadja Bester gives up TV-time hours in exchange for deep thinking spots where she plots the world domination of startup mentality to make the business world and its humans-all-over affiliates a more purposeful, passionate, and effective bunch.


Stop Holding Your Breath, You’re Getting Blue In the Face

Part 1 of a 3-part seriesPart 2 | Part 3

Half-ask, half-tell, half-listen … I don’t know about your household, but this is what makes up most modern-day parent-to-parent and parent-to-child convo’s when everyone’s home from work and school. And I say most, because as much as we’d like to hide the fact, from ourselves and others, that our everyday conversations with our partners and our kids are of afterthought-quality, it’s a thing, in this day and age, and seemingly everyone’s in on it.

We could go down the list and pinpoint endless aspects of our lives and relationships that suffer as a consequence of our fast-paced lifestyles where things-to-do far outnumber ways-to-connect. But I prefer taking a more proactive approach in which I admit guilt, then ask the judge for community service to make today a better day than its predecessor.

There’s much to be said for mindfulness; a powerful way of being packed into a word that’s anything from the basis of entire religions, to trendy hashtags overused by yoga pants-tourists on “find themselves” quests. But for us as partners and as parents, mindfulness in its simplest form, away from the hype and loadedness, is the basis of sanity in our arsenal against going mad in a world where we simply battle to keep up. And that on the good days.

Mindfulness is getting still, for a few seconds of in-breath, out-breath, that’s far less flower power than it sounds. It’s, well, breathing. That thing you do anyway. Just less panting than the usual rush from one checked-off item to another, and more of a deliberate intention to be very alive to a specific moment in your life. And it literally – I kid you not, I’ve tried it, folks, and it works! – starts with an inhale-exhale.

In that moment of getting still, of cancelling out the noise of hooting traffic, whistling kettles, blaring TV jingles, screaming children, partners ranting about work, beeping phones, there’s a small, quiet space that waits for you to come through the door. It’s the breath that knocks, and it’s the breath that opens the latch.

In that moment – and don’t get me wrong, you have a few seconds, here, before the noise is back in full-swing – you get to remind yourself of The Reason.

There’s a reason you, and/or your partner, work. There’s a reason your child/ren receive an education. There’s a reason you are all members of society, contributing in various ways to family, to friends, to the community. There are, in fact, many things and many reasons and just plain many many, many. (Which is why we’re having this here conversation in the first place.)

But as you take a second or two to experience oxygen going into your lungs and out through your airways, you remember that there’s a Greater Why behind all of you together in this show-up, sharing the rush, the time management struggles, the sprints from here to there to everywhere; it’s The Reason that ties it all together.

As you look at your family, what is your Reason for being-ness, for together-ness?

Try it out. Time it if you must, put it on to-do list if you’re so inclined. I think you’ll find that three seconds in a place of grateful respiratory contemplation – cos gratitude comes uninvited, one of the gifts of the breath – gradually makes for less huffing and puffing and more connectedness with your other half and your little minions.

___

Nadja is on an epic quest to make the exciting world of rapidly evolving technology work for her and her family instead of swallowing them up whole. The jury’s out daily on who’s won which round.

This article was first published on CompuKids, a junior technology academy that provides structured online Computer Science and Technology curriculum for kids, where Nadja has served in a parental advisory and marketing consultancy capacity.


Before Trees Pack Up Their Roots and Leave

Part 2 of a 3-part seriesPart 1 | Part 3

Some days you have it down. You’re parenting like a boss (which leaves you with an even greater feeling of yay than adulting like a boss, which is already no mean feat). But that’s not every day.

If like the rest of us, there’s a pattern of several days attacking you at once, step one is to stop your face turning blue.

There are several other steps, depending on your level of current insanity, unmanageability, or un-adulting-ness. They include making sure your blood sugar’s on the up-and-up –Frankenparents are real and they’re usually hangry – that you’re hydrated, and that you’ve a spoonful of Netflix-and-chill – or whatever your flavour of R&R – in your system.

But in the spirit of having little and not-so-little ones under your roof for just so many years before it’s off into the sunset they fly, there’s a step that we tend to let fall to the wayside, when in fact it’s one of those building blocks without which the house eventually tumbles down.

Daily, we return to the comfort of our homes, battle-weary. Our kids – having fought their own battles during the course of their waking hours, some exciting, some daunting, but all worthy bumps on the road to personhood – can seem like another item on our list. And let’s face it: Our lists are long, and we’re exhausted. Give us a break.

[Break given.]

Right. Where were we? Ah, that part where they’re more than just checkboxes. Which is hard to remember, at times, when there are so many demands on our time, and our attention spans hardly know when to put out fires and when to fuel them.

But in doing the maths (in case you’re waiting for a quantifiable answer, I’m not actually doing it), there’s only so much time we get to spend with them, having conversations in the humdrum of the day-to-day, from the time we can exchange words without having to pry the cat from their mouths in-between, till the day they pack their carry-ons for more than just a vacay.

And, let’s be frank, most of these precious few conversations we ultimately end up having over the span of their under 18-lives are far from sky-opening enlightenment and wisdom impartation, and more, “How was school?” and “What would you like to eat?”

Much like meaning hides in nanoseconds, meaning also resides in the mundane. Forget about particle acceleration; whole lives are squashed into monotonous chats about English class and creamed spinach.

In real life, we don’t have wizards at the front gate asking us to return hypnotic rings to fires of Mordor. Our hero’s quest lies in surviving our own battles with paperwork so we can show up for our kids to talk about theirs. Such is the bravery of life in this day and age. It’s boring and it’s beautiful because we only get to have it for so long before it’s gone.

(You may find that the more you notice the beauty of it, it totally downplays the boringness factor…like watching trees grow.)

It’s becoming mindful of, present to, these everyday opportunities to connect with your kids that’ll determine, to a large extent, how healthy the roots are your children take with them when they pack up shop to go plant themselves in other gardens.

What’s been your #BoringBeautiful parent-kid chat for the day?

___

Nadja is on an epic quest to make the exciting world of rapidly evolving technology work for her and her family instead of swallowing them up whole. The jury’s out daily on who’s won which round.

This article was first published on CompuKids, a junior technology academy that provides structured online Computer Science and Technology curriculum for kids, where Nadja has served in a parental advisory and marketing consultancy capacity.


“How was school?” Do You Even Care?

Part 3 of a 3-part seriesPart 1 | Part 2

Be mindful, they said. It’ll be boring but beautiful, they said. But do they tell me how to actually do it? Indeed they do. Read and weep. (Ok not – stop crying.)

Connecting with our kids on a Monday to Sunday basis can be really hard … or real easy. For at least five days a week, we get to ask the same question. Over and over again, we form the words in our mouths, all rhetorical-like.

Because we don’t actually expect them to tell us how school really was, do we? And they don’t actually expect us to really care, right?

Enough with that squandering of precious paydirt … let’s reclaim the value of the question that’s answered with a ‘Good’, ‘Fine’, or ‘Same-old’!

Why is this important?

Why are you even asking them said question in the first place? Why do you actually want to know about their day? Don’t ask if you don’t care to hear not only the stated answers but also what lies on the outskirts and below the surface. How they answer can tell you heaps about:

  • what’s happening in their life;
  • what they totally love and absolutely hate about the whole school-thing; and
  • where their strengths and weaknesses lie, not only in academia and sports, but also in social relationships, emotional intelligence, and their understanding of the world and its workings.

When do you ask?

In comedy, timing is everything. So, too, in catching a plane or train, in breaking a world record, or asking after someone’s day. Don’t expect Oprah-worthy aha! moments if you pepper them with a Q&A section the minute they set foot in the car or you through the doorway. As any person carrying a trunkload of groceries between driveway and kitchen can attest, back off!

  • Wait for the sweet spot between – or after – catching their breath and catching the latest episode of their favourite show;
  • Depending on their personalities, and the relationship dynamics with those around them, they might be more comfortable sharing 1:1, or around the dinner table pulling the whole family into the conversation. Respect their when, where, and with whom.

How do you get them to actually say something?

Firstly, accept that it’s not mandatory. If they’re not the sharing sort, it will naturally be more difficult to get them engaged, and forcing the issue – or being a nag about it – is a bad wand, if it’s magical turnarounds you’re after.

  • If needed, wait it out till they seek you out. You set an open-door policy and leave that door open…but you certainly don’t force them inside.

Second, realise that you sleep in the bed you’ve made. If you won’t be winning any Parent of the Year awards for how you’ve handled this thus far, there’s no overnight quick-fix. Rewiring old patterns, and getting trust back – cos opening up about one’s day requires trust – is a slow-mo. But do it anyway…it makes all the difference between the wolf that blew the house down and the wolf that landed in the cooking pot.

  • Show up. Consistently. Reaction or not. Irrespective of great insights and meaningful discussions, and being met with a mouth full of teeth. To be truly interested means just that. Not only when you feel they “share.” They might be waiting to see if you’re in it to win it or because their battles are your kind of beautiful.

Third, this is your time to be an audience member, not a stage director or understudy who steps up to take the main lead. This is their life experience, as led, perceived, and experienced by them. You don’t get to determine their reality for them.

  • Mentor or counsel later. Listen now. Judge never.

Fourth, actually listen. Seriously, google it if you must, watch a 101-type vid on YouTube, but understand that active listening isn’t expecting an answer when you’re sucked into your phone, trying to salvage a ruined casserole, or plotting next week’s presentation.

  • Focus on them. If you care enough to ask, care enough to stick around to listen to what the answers are. The outside world won’t disappear.

Fifth, use it as an opportunity to be more relatable. If there’s a subject they’re struggling with, why not tell them about that time you flunked your test and had to sit with a tutor four Saturdays in a row to get up to speed with the square root of the homophone of a creditor’s metamorphic rock? This is how the osmosis of life lessons happen.

  • Share your own academic, sports, and social highs and lows.

What will you gain?

If a happy, well-adjusted child that feels heard, worthy, acknowledged, and loved isn’t enough, there’s always

  • Understanding where they are;
  • Understanding where they’re trying to get to;
  • Understanding what they need to get there;
  • Anticipating challenges, and taking action accordingly;
  • Celebrating wins, and creating opportunities for more of those;
  • Being their partner in this thing called life and living;
  • Gifting the world with mighty oaks who won’t hesitate to return to their plantations of origin for connecting to what matters most.

What did you learn about your child today?

___

Nadja is on an epic quest to make the exciting world of rapidly evolving technology work for her and her family instead of swallowing them up whole. The jury’s out daily on who’s won which round.

This article was first published on CompuKids, a junior technology academy that provides structured online Computer Science and Technology curriculum for kids, where Nadja has served in a parental advisory and marketing consultancy capacity.


Cryptocurrency ‘s Schizophrenic September

Cryptocurrency and the blockchain are today where the internet found itself all those years ago. Back then, we wrote Internet with a capital i – that’s how new it was. Can you remember a time when no one but geeks and nerds could claim to have been “online”? (We wrote that sort of thing in inverted commas back then, too.) Chances are that you can’t remember, simply because you didn’t know it existed.

Today, the revolutionary technology that has been quietly taking the world by storm, is still in the pre pre-installed computer dictionary stage. It’s like our devices are giving us the look, asking, “What are these weird things you’re getting yourself into?”

Whether you’re in the know or not, this quiet revolution is steamrolling ahead and changing the face of things anyway. Just like the personal computer did, just like the internet did, just like the smartphone did. Seeing a trend yet?

We’re standing on the dawn of yet another massive technological disruption. Not everyone is ready for it. And they needn’t be: there are still people, even today, buying their first computer or connecting to the world via their first smartphone. Mass adoption isn’t a prerequisite; it’s a consequence.

In the meantime, cryptocurrency and the blockchain are giving its early adopters plenty of belly pics on its way to birthing itself as the world’s Next Big Thing.

In the following pieces, I take a closer look at the events that made September one of the most interesting high-low-high months to date:

News Roundup

Governments

Trade and Industry

______________________________________________________________________

Nadja is Head News Editor at Invest in Blockchain. Since she missed out on the early internet boom because it wasn’t “cool” yet, she’s happy to have become a geek since. She might still not understand Einstein’s relativity theory, but she knows who Vitalik is.


Cryptocurrency’s Hunt for Red October

While the cryptocurrency markets are far from stable, bitcoin shows no signs of slowing down, and has surpassed the US$6,000 mark this month.

With bitcoin market prices aiming for the moon, the line between hands-off alternative currencies and governmental regulations are becoming finer by the minute. The result has been that ICOs were not in the spotlight in October as they were in the preceding months, very possibly due to state interventions in a number of nations.

Other cryptocurrencies have had a slow month in the shadow of their pioneering predecessor, but companies are all hard at work behind the scenes to make their tech faster, agiler, and more secure.

The divide between bitcoin as a speculative commodity and an everyday utility currency has been up for debate this month. Adoption of bitcoin as a trade currency is increasing, yet bitcoin’s transactional speeds due to block size are cause for much consternation.

Blockchain technology is a hot topic on everyone’s lips. With talks of national blockchain-based cryptocurrencies for a number of world governments, coupled with continued blockchain trials by large multinational corporations, we’re as sure to see more of it on the macro scale. Closer to the ground, fintech and blockchain startups are all working towards the successful implementation of very exciting and revolutionary ideas.

Over the past month, I’ve looked at some of the market news and trends impacting cryptocurrency and the blockchain.

News Roundup

Blockchain Technology

Blockchain Companies

Blockchain Trends

Exchanges

Governments

Trade and Industry

______________________________________________________________________

Nadja is Head News Editor at Invest in Blockchain. Since she missed out on the early internet boom because it wasn’t “cool” yet, she’s happy to have become a geek since. She might still not understand Einstein’s relativity theory, but she knows what a hard fork is.


If You Think Blockchain Was Big This Year, Watch Out for 2018!

Rounding up the last two months of the year, it’s clear that 2017 was The Year in blockchain. While we’re far from widespread adoption, an overwhelming amount of people become aware of, and started investing in, cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Yet, what 2017 only touched upon, 2018 is set to exponentiate. Watch this space!

Cryptocurrency Investment

Blockchain Companies

Company Updates

Blockchain Trends

Interviews

Blockchain Personalities

Events

Trade and Industry

Blockchain and Social Good

______________________________________________________________________

Nadja is Head News Editor at Invest in Blockchain. Since she missed out on the early internet boom because it wasn’t “cool” yet, she’s happy to have become a geek since. She might still not understand Einstein’s relativity theory, but she knows when to take quick power naps in between incessantly checking the bitcoin price index.