Archive for the ‘Are You Thinking What I Was Thinking’ Category

Problem Gambling Addicts

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

A number of well-meaning individuals, who have suffered the consequences of gambling addiction in the UK have made it their mission in life to educate others about the risks of gambling. Here is the irony, in arriving to solve the problem, they end up becoming the problem.

They routinely confuse their unfortunate “past” with the requisite skills, behaviours and expertise to productively educate others about a healthy coexistence with gambling. A legal enterprise and form of entertainment for millions that is not disappearing anytime soon. They view themselves as “better” qualified to help. They enlist political support and disproportionate media coverage because they see themselves as “victims” (of avaricious gambling companies) and the media are only too ready to help them tell their story. Their tales are powerful images of lives destroyed fuelled by low self-esteem, talent and judgement. Yet rarely do you see them taking individual accountability.

When they are offered the chance to collaborate with other “experts”, who have successfully drawn a livelihood from sports betting, they find it “contradictory”. It is hard not to conclude that their new found self-confidence has stepped over into arrogance.  Their policy (blanket bans) and educational approaches (prevention) are not a common sense solution to the real world problems that we face in today’s society. 

Let’s be clear the proliferation of fixed odds betting terminals in UK betting shops, and adverts that promote bets the punter cannot win long-term on (Skybet, Bet 365) and delusionary levels of self-esteem have no place. Beyond that there is an urgent need for people with a depth and breadth of knowledge and unbiased views about sports betting (rarely problem gamblers) to inform impressionable youngsters. 

Anonymity

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

I am always reminded of the Oxford English Dictionary definition of anonymity when I receive requests from anonymous sources, those insistent on quoting anonymous sources or those who refuse to identify themselves on social media: “the lack of outstanding, individual, or unusual features; impersonality.”

Gambling Sense

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Here in the UK with arguably one of the most liberal attitudes to gambling and sports betting, a collection of the leading gambling companies ban betting adverts in live sports broadcasts. Ostensibly, to assuage government and public opinion about the unfettered promotion of football betting to young kids and the vulnerable. Here is the rub: it is too late and it ignores, the most important issue, individual accountability. Just as signs on bridges warning people about the dangers of suicide, do little to stop suicides. If you don’t focus on really meaningful actions, educating people, and holding them individually to account for their actions, you merely dance around the problem.    

Sexism or Sensationalism

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018


French DJ and Ballon d’Or host Martin Solveig makes a mistimed joke to the inaugural women’s winner, Norway’s Ada Hegerberg about her ability to twerk, and the thought police descend into hoots of derision. A remark that Hegerberg herself didn’t see as sexist but lo and behold Solveig is piled on by assorted media characters and indeed, British tennis player, Andy Murray. When we sensationalise every iota of modern life that doesn’t conform to our belief system, we merely end up drowning out horrible acts of sexism, racism, and ageism that are truly worthy of our disdain.  

Brexit Brouhaha

Friday, November 30th, 2018

You have to laugh when political commentators get so wrapped up in their political bubble, they are prone to making ridiculous statements. The BBC’s political reporter, Laura Kuenssberg, described Brexit, “As the most important decision we have had to make since 1945”. Excuse me, what about the decisions to go to war in the Falklands, Afghanistan twice, Iraq and multiple other situations. Aren’t life and death decisions rather more grave?   

Speak Up

Friday, November 30th, 2018

I am at a private event earlier in the week with Matthew Hancock, the UK’s Health Secretary, Adrian Gore, the visionary South African founder of Discovery (Vitality Health) and executives from Apple, when the subject turns to preventative healthcare. 50% of long-term illnesses (cancer, heart disease, kidney failure) in the western world are directly linked to our DNA. Our aptitude to learn and apply the wisdom we gain from genomics is fundamental to our welfare. Yet I am struck how few politicians will share the home truths about individuals taking responsibility for managing their own personal health risks. Watching the nightly news we excessively focus on funding and resources for our healthcare systems in the UK, US and elsewhere. Why so silent about preventative healthcare?    

Power Abusing Power

Friday, October 26th, 2018

Am I alone in thinking that when a senior politician seeks to exert their “parliamentary privilege”, it says more about exerting their ego than their principles? This week we have another high-profile legal process (Sir Philip Green) usurped by a British politician (Lord Hain). In the court of public opinion fanned by the media, the defendant is guilty until proven right. Why? Bad news, whether factual or not, sells papers. Irrespective of the legal resolution, his reputation is trashed. That cannot be fair and the foundation of a healthy democracy.  

Co-working Backlash

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018


The rise of co-working we are told (WeWork to boutique offerings) is a trend that won’t stop in major financial centres and beyond. Demand for the traditionally designed office space is on an never-ending decline.

Have you have ever tried to have a confidential call in a public co-working space or undisturbed time to think? It is a constant attack on the senses.

Here is but three examples: John, the twentysomething facilities management salesman, who insists on telling Jo, his client at Selfridges how he pulled “a rough bird last night” while picking his nose… Sue, the “amateur” recruitment consultant, who asks her unwitting interviewee “tell me why did your boss let you go at Axa?”… Judith, the bespectacled marketing consultant, who insists on warming her Thai fish curry in the kitchen’s microwave, filling the last gasp of oxygen in the entire public space and blankly staring into a backlit screen.

If you haven’t seen this you are missing a treat. 

I have not been in one “open” space, WeWork included, where the building operator and designer has truly figured out the sentient experience, in a hundred plus visits to different brands across the globe.

We are putting up with it, in a way we “live” with low-cost airlines or Luton Airport, accepting hardship in return for lower costs and greater flexibility. Can you really see sustainable growth for these businesses without better design that addresses basic human needs (greater privacy, minimum disturbance, and a more pleasant working environment)? I cannot.

Get A Room!

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

I am getting fed up with people, who insist on having loud private conversations in public spaces and zero respect for those in earshot.

There is a 55 year old Managing Partner of a London VC, who insists on having private conversations in public communal areas of my office. Interviews, HR issues, investment committee discussions and entrepreneur meet-ups, he ploughs on. “Peter Thiel knows me well, if he walked in here he’d be so impressed….” was a pearl!

When someone is so visibly insensitive to the world, I am staggered, who would work for, co-invest or welcome him as an investor. Yet clearly, over 25 businesses have sort his help, hundreds of HNWs are happy to have him spouting off and even, the British Business Bank apparently are soon to be in cahoots….

Perhaps he thinks no one is watching or commenting about the beliefs that in form his poverty mindset and indiscreet behaviour.

 

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Celebrity Confusion

Monday, May 21st, 2018

If you are a success, why wouldn’t you act like a success at a high profile occasion? Looking at countless celebrity male guests at the Royal Wedding (George Clooney, James Haskell and endless others), where your “dress” is a very clear mark of respect to your hosts, there wasn’t much respect on display to the Prince of Wales and Ms Markle’s mother. Why would you let down your spouse or partner, who has gone to a huge effort to earn respect? Which is it, “I conform to no one” (ego), “I am not familiar with local customs” (ignorant) or “the airline lost my bags” (unbelievable). If “manners maketh man”, many of us watching are in a state of confusion about some male celebrities’ beliefs that inform their behaviour, or perhaps, more likely we saw the less-appealing real man behind the PR-tinted lens.

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.