Read My Lips

Jumbo Mumbo Doll

“Read my lips”, was the instruction.

As always, my earplugs were deeply inserted into my ear canals as I tried to block out the unwelcome background noise on my early morning Virgin Australia flight from Melbourne to Sydney.

The air-hostess, dressed impeccably in her swish fashionably styled Virgin Australia uniform was making an announcement on the PA. I heard not a word, but I understood everything that she said. Yes, I was reading her lips.

A few minutes later, I pondered why? Then it dawned on me. It was her intensely bright red lipstick. Yes, I was fixated on those lips! It wasn’t the form, nor the shape of her mouth, it was the colour. This was the beginning of a theory that needed to be tested further, and I was the man for the job.

That day, I focussed on trying to read the conversations permeating from those around me, what influenced my interest and receptivity in how they delivered their words. You will be pleased to know that I was very academic in my research. I ensured that my analysis environment included a vast number of different types of cafés, restaurants, office foyers, and a rich and random selection of outdoor locations where a full range of men and women (some nude lipped, others lip coloured) were talking. I racked up a long list of expenses on my corporate AMEX card as testament to my investigation, just in case some yet unknown university wanted to continue my research at a later date.

That night, as I sat exhausted in my lush hotel room in Darling Harbour, I collated the copious notes that I had taken throughout the day. After what seemed like hours of intense analysis, the solution became all too clear. The key was in the lipstick colour, the winner, most definitely being bright red.

Now, there is a learning here for those working in the corporate office. Should you want your colleagues to listen to what you say, or to read your lips (should they be audibly challenged, or not really paying attention), then make sure that you wear bright red lipstick as it is the visual reader’s colour of choice.

Although diversity is indeed a requirement in business, I’m not suggesting for a moment that my male colleagues adorn the bright red lipstick (Note to HR: yes, I know, not unless they want to), but a bright red pocket hanky will suffice just as well.

Yes, embellish your body with red, and you will be seen, and most definitely heard.

Why not “Think Inside the Time Box”?

Time Jumper

This morning ritual of having breakfast in the Virgin Lounge at Melbourne airport was becoming an all too familiar experience. [1]

After satisfying my early morning Maslow’s basic survival needs with a long black coffee, wholemeal toast with lashings of vegemite, a petite bowl of muesli, I then mentally consumed the words in my newspaper looking for that insightful and learned spark of wisdom. Five minutes later, possibly six at a stretch, I had quickly come to the conclusion that I was bored. There was now only one thing for me to do in order to fill-in the time before I boarded my flight to Sydney, and that was to observe my fellow business travelers.

After a few minutes of visual critique, it became very apparent that the long sought personal goal of individual creativity which defined everyone as a unique individual, had somehow slipped between the cracks that morning. The more I looked, the more I could see many of my yet unknown business acquaintances partaking of coffee, cereal, toast with the occasional variant of a random accompaniment of difference (eg marmalade or honey), but in essence the selected diet was remarkably the same.

We wore similar suits, ties, cuff-links, shirts with that all too familiar checked pattern and colour, read the same newspapers, and even looked at each other with that same inquisitive look when a wild animal is startled from its habitual and comfortable lifestyle by an oncoming car headlight.

This got me thinking. How can we be creative if we are all seeking business innovation and inspiration via the same sources of knowledge and thought? The well-known term “thinking outside the box” came to mind, but is this the right way to discover new ideas? If we are all following the same methodology, all reading the same editions of the Harvard Business Review, the same business books, following the same sports, eating the same food, well, our sight outside the box is rather flawed and certainly lacks that required long distance vision, it will also be the same view as everyone else!

Why not try something a little bit different? Why not “think inside the box”, but with a major difference, that being time as a variant? There is a lot of untapped idea history “inside the time box”, the key is to open it up and use it. Many potentially brilliant ideas have literally died with creative thinkers of past generations. If their ideas had been passed down between the ages, their insights may have formed the basis of many unusual and different innovations that could only be fulfilled with the progression of time and today’s technology.

Alas, time travel is not possible, but what about actualising the environment and thought stimuli of past creative thinkers to excite and enlighten you and I today? The method is quite simple. Why not consider the following past time ideation starters:

  • Dress up in period costume and wear those antiquated spiffy clothes in the corporate office?
  • Don’t read today’s newspaper, read some old papers and get an appreciation of the business and life customs of the past?
  • Forget the long black coffee in the morning, have an old English ale instead? (assuming your HR Manager is OK with the concept)
  • Don’t drive to work, walk or take your personal horse and buggy?

I’m sure the experience would lead to some different and creative thoughts being established as you think” inside the time box”. Your business colleagues will also have the benefit of thinking differently as they observe you in the process of historical thought change and will marvel at your self-confidence and creative fortitude.

So next time you are sitting in the Virgin Lounge at Melbourne airport awaiting your flight, try and consider what you can do to implement some small amount of thinking “inside the time box”, I’m sure it will lead to a noticeable creative point of difference in your life. If the concept is too great to publicly display, then why not start off with a lesser innovative step, don’t have a long black coffee, have a soy milk chai latte with honey instead!

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[1] The Suit Trouser Length Creativity Index
https://thinkingfuturethoughts.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/the-suit-trouser-length-creativity-index/

It’s all in Your Ears!

busy Buchanan Street

Hello, yes, I’m here right next to you! If you actually paid attention to those around you, you might actually see me! Yes, I’m still here, so STOP walking into me!

I lost count of the number of times I had to say this as I walked around the Sydney CBD the other day. The culprits were a mix of women, men, children, young and old. The cause I believe was all due to having iPhone earplugs inserted deep into their ear canals so that they were all happily sojourning in their own audibly cocooned world. Now I need to fess-up here, as I am also one of these earplug scoundrels.

Now this got me thinking. How can these iPhone people collisions be avoided? After all, this is not just a problem isolated to those walking in the city, but also to wearers of earplugs in the corporate office, in the car, and on all other forms of transport involving the movement of iPhone accessorised ears.

Now let’s get back to the basics in nature, and let us consider that humble sonar equipped flying bat, also the water immersed dolphin. Simplistically, the origin of their crash avoidance success is in the use of the “ping” which measures distances via sound wave reflection. I’m sure that if an iPhone earplug was customised for bat and/or dolphin use, these poor creatures would become quite distressed and may lose all sense of their directional dignity and quickly succumb to navigational mayhem, just like us inflicted humans.

But that “ping” might just be the answer? Why not incorporate a basic sonar device into the humble iPhone? That way, the iPhone could measure person proximity and sound a warning alert when two iPhones are getting a tad too close for comfort. On thinking further, this proximity measure could also have “personalised settings” which could include distance, or some other more “creative” requirements, such as:

Tailored Ping Tags
Individuals could establish a tailored ping that tags their personality (eg their star sign, food preferences, appearance prowess, marital status, sexuality, religion, etc). When their iPhone identifies a suitable ping tagged person near them, a distinctive ping tone is heard in the ear plug alerting the owner of the potential person interaction?

Crowd Numbers
When there are a large number of people in a specific area, the result would be a high frequency of pings thereby warning the iPhone owner of the looming crowd. This would be a perfect application for those looking for a quiet location for some thinking solitude, or in selecting a restaurant for a romantic gourmet evening with a loved one, or future loved one!

You may be thinking, “What about those people who are walking around without an iPhone earplug shoved in their ears? How will this innovative crash avoidance system work for them?”

Yes, great question! One solution could be for these people to wear a “ping beacon” which could be strapped to their head, hair, clothes or potentially designed into a fashion accessory, or even moulded into a discrete tooth filling. Should that be too intrusive, then why not have a credit card with a “ping chip” that could be placed in their wallet or carried around in a pocket?

The key with this solution is to think just that little bit differently, and to turn what seems like a tricky problem at first reading into something that might just be useful in the future!

The Floor of Discovery

Zero Gravity

I arrived late in the afternoon at my Darling Harbour hotel and walked up to the check-in desk with what was obviously a public look of tiredness on my face. After all, I was rather exhausted after meandering through the endless Sydney traffic congestion for the past one and a half hours in a hire car that promised a five star driving experience, but disappointedly only delivered half a star at best!

At the check-in desk, a stunning young woman, with a smile that instantaneously vaporised any prevailing thought of exhaustion, immediately greeted me. Her name was Renee, and she was dressed impeccably in her modern Finnish designer blue and white hotel business attire from “Marimekko”.

Renee, who must have had a sophisticated and well-trained version of ESP (which would explain her esteemed management position of “Manager of Greet”) said, “Relax Mr Cramer, we know exactly what you need and have the perfect room waiting for you”. Renee then gave a subtle and deliberate “nod” to Vanessa, The Hotel Manager, who was also dressed in a slightly more grand and colourful fashion outfit that just exuded that look of “perfection and wow”, as befitted her seniority. Vanessa responded with a corresponding smile of understanding and then made a surreptitious phone call, which gave me the feeling that a strategic, and well-planned course of action had now been quietly implemented.

Renee then handed me the card-key to room 1026 and said, I have allocated you a special room in our newly built “Discovery Floor”, and you will be our first guest to use and benefit from the experience. I gave Renee a “surprised and inquisitive” look, to which the reply was “trust me, all will be good”. How could I doubt, nor resist the honesty of that smile?

I took the card-key, politely thanked both Renee and Vanessa, and then caught the hotel elevator up to the tenth floor with a strong feeling of anticipation, and might I say, a slight fear of the unknown!

A few minutes later I arrived at a large and most impressive, solid wooden door with the silver embossed numbers 1026 positioned centrally above it. I cautiously opened the door, but momentarily stopped before entering as I listened to what seemed like a quick rushing of air. I entered the room and encountered a small and totally pristine white reception area. Once inside, I heard the main door to my room close and yet again the distinctive sound of air movement prevailed.

Three seconds later (although the time seemed like an eternity), another door from the small white room opened. As I walked in, I sensed my feet starting to feel rather strange and awkward. I tried to stop moving, but couldn’t, as the forward momentum pushed me onwards, but I eventually stopped and noticed that I was about two metres above the floor. In what I could only state as an impression of absolute disbelief, I saw that my bed was floating, as was all the items in the room. Yep, I was in a room with zero gravity! So this was what Renee was talking about!

After about thirty minutes acclimatising to my new sensation of weightlessness, I realised I was indeed most relaxed. All stresses previously experienced in my day had been replaced with this new found “Room of Discovery”, and I was thoroughly enjoying it!

The following morning after having a most amazing and unique nights sleep, I again saw Renee as I checked out of the hotel. She smirked at the shaving cut about my top lip, to which I replied, I didn’t quite master the bathroom “discovery experience”, but everything else was just superb!

And yes, I will be most definitely staying at this hotel again! As I left, I recalled that this hotel had eleven floors, and pondered what other discoveries awaited those who had mastered Floor 10? Next time, I thought!

Why Would You Fly With Any Other Airline?

2307virgin
My flight boarding pass indicated that I was to sit in seat 4A on Virgin Australia flight VA568 from Sydney to Melbourne. As I entered the plane, I took my special, and highly prized, Virgin Service Glasses (VSG) from the collection bin just inside the plane door and found my way to my allocated seat.

Now the VSG are not your average glasses. No, VSG are unique to Virgin Australia and the main reason why this airline is achieving phenomenal sales success in this competitive domestic airline market.

In seat 4B, my fellow passenger was a young business woman, and she too was quite excited at the prospect of wearing her VSG on the flight. In what looked like synchronicity, we both took our VSG out of the protective cases and placed them delicately on our faces.

A few minutes later, the metal, robotic Flight Attendant, as is typically found on all Australian flights, commenced the automatic routine of moving up and down the plane aisle to answer any questions and to make sure that all passengers had fastened their seatbelts in preparation for the scheduled takeoff.

As I was now wearing my VSG, instead of seeing a robotic Flight Attendant, I only saw an attractive young blonde woman wearing a red Virgin uniform with bright red lipstick. However, the woman passenger in seat 4B saw a different image. She saw a young, dark haired, rather muscular male Flight Attendant wearing tight trousers and an equally tight fitting shirt. Yes, in case you were wondering, we were both looking at the same robot.

Now this is the rather special characteristic associated with the VSG. They provide the wearer with a fictional person that complements the particular mood that they are in at that specific time of the day. If I, or the woman sitting in seat 4B, had have caught an earlier flight, the Flight Attendant image we would have been presented with in our VSG would have been completely different. This is the charm of the VSG, each flying experience is unique and varied.

From the perspective of the airline, they can utilise the services of a cost effective, bland, inanimate, ugly looking, metallic robot to do all the mundane inflight activities. However, the VSG passengers, only observe the Flight Attendant of the dreams!

The result is a well behaved and exceptionally polite group of passengers, as no passenger wants to upset, or offend their special Flight Attendant!

So next time you are flying on a Virgin Australia plane and you receive a friendly wink from the Flight Attendant, don’t think about the gesture too emotionally, as you may be rather disappointed once you have removed your VSG. And in case you were wondering, the VSG only works on the plane, you can’t take them home and try them out on some non-robotic, unsuspecting individual!

Note: If only this wasn’t fiction!

Exploits of the “Paid Gentlemen”

Spy vs Spy

It was indeed a masterful, and strategically well executed plan in which the “paid gentlemen” (and I use the term “gentlemen” quite loosely let me assure you), had finally found what they were looking for after ransacking the Melbourne corporate office they had stealthily entered in the early hours of the morning precisely thirty minutes earlier. Dressed in the latest Australian Vogue approved designer fashion espionage dark clothing, with matching matte black soft kangaroo leather gloves so as to leave no fingerprints, and wearing matching black sound deadening yachting boat shoes, they systematically searched all potential hiding places.

To find the treasured item they were seeking, absolute darkness and silence was a non-negotiable prerequisite. Any search equipment illuminating light, such as torches, mobile phone screens, or audible communication between the “paid gentleman”, would make finding their objective impossible, as it would immediately, and permanently, disrupt its purity thereby making it worthless. As this was a risk they were not willing to take, specialist and custom fitting Ray-ban infrared goggles, together with some rather spiffy complex hand signals were the “paid gentleman’s” search accessories of choice.

To their great excitement, and might I say massive relief, they finally found that what they sought in a very sneaky and rather cunningly clever hiding location. The item was packaged in a lead lined small wooden red box. The “paid gentlemen” then placed this precious red box into a small attaché suitcase and locked it decisively using the twelve-digit lock combination that they would only divulge on receipt of their exorbitant $500M payment from the unscrupulous buyer.

Following a highly tense sixty-minute flight from Melbourne to Sydney, a surreptitious rendezvous with the seeker of the valuable item was arranged at a secret location in a prestigious hotel in Darling Harbour. It was there that the private exchange took place, upon which the now well “paid gentlemen” slowly departed the scene with a sense of relief and a new feeling of personal affluence.

The new illegal, and rather thrilled, keeper of the item quickly went up to her penthouse hotel suite on the ninth floor and swiftly bolted the room door. All lights were turned off; all window blinds were drawn to ensure complete darkness. She hurriedly unfolded the piece of paper on which the well “paid gentlemen” had written the twelve-digit code, and one by one the numbers were accurately entered until the small wooded red box was revealed. Her heart was now thumping so loud she thought her eardrums might explode with anticipation! Her trembling slender fingers toyed with the box latch and she opened it slowly. As the box opened, what seemed like a burning green gas hissed loudly upon release, followed by a large explosive pop. The startled woman quickly opened the box to make sure that the contents were OK and noticed that there was nothing inside apart from a small typed yellow parchment. She speedily grabbed her metal-rimmed spectacles and read out loud the following words: “Innovation is not something you can buy or steal. Innovation needs creativity!”.

In a fit of temper, combined with a rich and complex range of choice expletives, she heeded these words, and with a sense of “innovation and creativity”, she picked up the red box and attaché case and threw them straight out an open hotel window and then burst into tears with extreme disappointment and massive financial loss. Seconds later, these two hurtling objects landed with decisive and heavy force upon the unprotected and fragile heads of the soon to be very dead “well paid gentlemen” as they gleefully walked out the hotel with their unscrupulous financial gains.

With justice done, the small red wooden box bounced a couple of times on the footpath awaiting the next potential seeker of innovation and creativity!