Blog Archives

The importance of introverts

Please watch and learn from the following video about being an introvert and working with them.

Paul S Allen (I am an introvert)

Susan Cain: The power of introverts

Stanley McChrystal – on Leadership

“A leader can let you fail and not let you be a failure”

Stanley McChrystal


Regardless of how McChrystal left the military what he says in this video still rings true.

If he spoke his mind and that disagreed with current policy so be it. If William Wilberforce did not speak against the status quo then we may still have slavery. It takes one voice to make a difference and sometimes that voice will appear objectionable.

Paul S Allen

John Wilson Drive 4

TEDxDunedin (A Reflection) 3

TED: ideas worth spreading


TEDxDunedin once again has produced a chance to participate in conversations with significant people from within the community of Dunedin. These people are making a difference in the communities they live and to the world beyond.

The third TEDxDunedin event was held at Diesoline Espresso in Dunedin, 12 November 2010

Three local Dunedin people presented very interesting topics.


Professor John Tagg

Professor John Tagg, microbiologist and founder of Blis Technologies, discussed how we are more microbe than human and that we depend on these microbes to protect and help us survive.

As a boy Prof Tagg had a strep infection that lead to rheumatic fever and as a result was on antibiotics for ten years. This lead him on a search to find a better solution to dealing with streptococcus infections.

He discovered that there are good streptococcus and bad ones and that if you encourage the good ones the protect the body against the bad ones.

This lead to the foundation of  Blis Technologies a Dunedin based biotech company producing products full of the good bacteria to fight strep infections to bad breath.


Pip Laufiso – Educator – The Epistemology of Reciprocity

The presentation from Pip was warm, friendly and a challenge for all of us to give back to the community.

The presentation was built around her late mother Eti, using the initial of her name to enhance the importance of reciprocity.

E = Education

T = Tenacity – Having the audacity to carry things through, dedication to build a vision.

I = Interdependence – linked to values and culture, giving back.

O le ala i le pule, le tautau

The pathway to leadership is through service (a Samoan saying)

“To serve other, your family is to learn how to accept and carry responsibility. ”

(Check out my article “Strategic Leadership”)

She shared again the axiom “there is no ‘I’ in team”; “There is always a way”; the expectation of ourselves to be ready when others need our help; and to hold on to faith.

Pip gave a truly heart warming presentation with a clear message to get involved.


Francisca Griffin – Naturopath – Weed Medicine

“Weeds are plants in the wrong places” or are they, they could be the plants we need, our medicine our natural healers.

Francisca gave an enlightening talk on how common “weeds” can be used for both food and for therapeutic remedies. Four example were given

  • Calendula– Colouring rice, spicy, and for burns
  • Chickweed – Good for sunburn or nappy rash
  • Yellow Dock – for removing splinters (an example was given how it helped to remove a slither of glass )
  • Stinging Nettle – High in iron, and used as a remedy for many ailment in history

The challenge facing the use of herbs and plants in naturopathic remedies is competing with high budget pharmaceutical companies and the presumption that they have the control of the scientific community. Yet we need to remember for thousands of years these plants have been used successfully to treat people. and that many pharmaceuticals are based on making synthetic versions of naturally occurring chemicals.

  • The questions that I have about this is how do I know what plants “weeds” are good to eat or use in remedies?
  • How safe are they?

And importantly…

  • Do I now have an excuse to never weed the garden again?


TED and TEDxDunedin provide an chance to be exposed to new ideas to be challenged to think and widen your world view.

We are surrounded by amazing people who all have a passionate story to tell… if only we would listen.

If you get a chance to go to a TED event GO.

Paul S Allen

Previous reflections

TEDxDunedin 1

TEDxDunedin 2

Blown Away Dandelion

TEDxDunedin (A Reflection) 2

A reflection on the second TEDxDunedin event held 16 April 2010.

TED has the tag line “Ideas Worth Spreading”, this was again true tonight.

If I were to sum up the night succinctly it could be said like this… Don’t get stressed about what you do not have, live a simple but enjoyable life and when you come to leave this life make sure you have made your peace over what really matters.

The Speakers

Professor Andrew Bradstock “Mind the gap: why inequality effects us all”

It was a interesting to hear that New Zealand has the sixth largest equality gap between rich and poor in the world. It is not however a surprise to hear that this large gap has a negative effect on the whole of society. “We are all poorer because of inequality” The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer in New Zealand and across the western world. What we fail to grasp is that more wealth does not equal more happiness. It is not for us to judge that one materialistic rich life is better than a simple but content life. I have said in a previous article “Mediocrity to one person is excellence to another. It is not for us to judge the other, especially if we do not know all of the circumstances of the other.”

Andrew finished with an open call for dialogue around the question “What makes for a better society?”. Let me echo that call.


Kate Wilson “The Measure of Happiness – and Other Unmeasurables”.

The main message from Kate was that a happy life is not dependant on having things or more money or looking like this model or being rich. It is by working out your own values, that is what is really important to you. Contentment is not measured by commodities or consumer products or even the size of your bank balance.

Money is not part of this question. Money is just a tool.

The question to ask of yourself is “What is your measure of contentment?”.


Richard Egan “How To Die Well”.

The trend has been over the last few centuries that we are “living decades longer” but “dying badly” (especially long drawn out cancer and heart decease) and there has been a “growth on meaninglessness”.

Spirituality and death can not be separated, one could say that death is in every way a spiritual act, whether there is a particular faith or belief the act of dying is deeply spiritual. To die well implies that one has to prepare spiritually while still alive.

The spiritual is important and needs to be looked after regardless of personal belief systems.

A question was asked “how do we prepare for death?” This is not easy to answer but each of us needs to search for the answer, as Socrates said “an unexamined life is not worth living”.


I have personally had my brush with death as when I was five I nearly drowned and had to be rescued after I became unconscious , death now has no sting for me, I remember that it was very peaceful and knew I was in the safest place. I have a deep faith in God that sustains me. My father, who also has a strong faith, says “death is an exciting adventure waiting to happen” (he has a heart condition).

The whole evening topics could be summed up Live well, find out what makes you content, help others on the way and know how to die well.

Also part of this event was a video from Hans Rosling from TED India(Click the link below)

“Hans Rosling was a young guest student in India when he first realized that Asia had all the capacities to reclaim its place as the world’s dominant economic force. At TEDIndia, he graphs global economic growth since 1858 and predicts the exact date that India and China will outstrip the US.” (TED)

This was another excellent night and thanks to all those who organised and hosted this night.

Paul S Allen

Find out more about a TEDx event near you.

TEDxDunedin (A Reflection)

A reflection on the first TEDxDunedin event held December 4, 2009.

The thought processes I find myself having when attending events like this, seem to wander from what the speakers are actually saying to the implications of what they are saying. I found the process of the TEDxDunedin event to be a dialogue rather than just speakers talking to a crowd. This dialogue is more about a meeting of minds rather than sharing of words.

Some bullet points from the night…

Phil Osbourne (University of Otago) “The Power of Free”

  • “Customers happy with value don’t complain about the price.”
  • “What are you going to do when your competitors go free/style?”
  • Most important  “The future is not about business as usual”

Matt Ayres (Polson Higgs)

  • “What happens when your model of service is under threat?”
  • “Your most valuable asset for the future is your insight into the problem your organisation exists to fix”
  • “The future is inside the people you serve”
  • “Fundamental for all organizations… it is about serving people better”

Jason Leong (The Distiller/Pocketsmith)

Growing up great, this was about the thought that business start ups are like “orphans” and that a model of incubation where a group of start up businesses are in an environment where they “Contribute – Collaborate – Share” is important.

Daniel Belton (Good Company Arts)

Daniels presentation was of interest to me as the video of dance that he showed caused me to think about the convergence of two seemingly opposite views, the rigid and the fluid.

The rigid and the fluid need each other to work in harmony; in fact one without the other is structure without life or chaos. As Itay Talgam has said in another TED video “You need process and content to make good music” Process is the structure, whether in business or other activity, and content is what makes it “human” or alive.

A quote from Daniel “[it is] Important that we don’t just “look” but we “see”.”

There was also a video from a neurological specialist talking about her experience when she had a stroke, describing the differences between left and right hemisphere thinking, the left hemisphere being structural the right being experiential. The encouragement from the speaker (Jill Bolte-Taylor)1. was to spend more time on the right hemisphere to spend more time in the metaphysical and creative side.

This video matched well with all the people presenting tonight as the only way to move on is to change the way we think, and to do that we need to be creative in all areas of life and business.

To achieve great new things we cannot do what has already been done.

The world is changing around us whether we like it or not. How we respond to change will determine how we will cope and how we will fit in the future.

Please check out the TEDxDunedin site.

This was a great event and look forward to continuing the dialogue.

Paul S Allen

1. The video by Jill Bolte-Taylor

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