My 2014 Reading List

Hat-tip to Barry Nyhan for pushing (annoying) me into writing this. I loved  Linkedin’s Amazon plugin that allowed users to see what their connections were reading. Unfortunately Linkedin removed this valuable feature in 2012 which has lead me to writing this blog.

At the beginning of 2013 I set a goal of reading one book a month. When I hit this target I decided to double it for 2014. Below I’ll give a brief overview of each book and link them to Amazon where you can get more details if you so wish.

  1. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell – Government mind control and being constantly watched are always seen as the key themes in
    this classic, but I think there is a much deeper thread. Depending on where you are in your life you get different meanings from books, songs, art etc. To me this book drove home the fact that even if I have different career and life plans to 99% of others this doesn’t mean that they are right and that I’m wrong, or vice-versa. If the majority of people believe in something it doesn’t make it right. As Smith finds out, it’s not easy going against the status-qoa.
  2. Animal Farm by George Orwell – I read this prior to reading Nineteen Eighty-Four. Animal Farm is also a fantastic book in helping you to question the way things are, to be more sceptical of authority and the damaging effects of poor leadership. I think it was Enda Kenny who once said, “Four feet good, two feet better”.
  3. Business at the Speed of Thought by Bill Gates – This book was a prophesy that Gates wrote in early 1999 and 15 years later – almost all of business-at-the-speed-of-thoughthis predictions have come through. Records management, data reporting, analytics, business intelligence, hospital systems, banking systems etc. If someone read this when it first came out and took a lot of the advice to heart, success would have been sure to follow. As Gates was at the forefront of technology with Microsoft I guess that this shouldn’t have been so surprising. Microsoft didn’t capitalise on many/any of his mobile predictions. I wonder now though who will write the book in 2014 that will predict 2029? Please let me know if you have any suggestions.
  4. The Second Half by Roy Keane – I HATE football gossip with a passion – I definitely didn’t read Keane’s newest biography for a he-said, she-said account. In fairness to Keane, and the author Roddy Doyle, he does avoid a lot of this. The book is a very honest view into Keane’s time as a manager. He openly critiques himself and discusses his management successes and failures, including times when he really should have stayed silent to benefit himself in the long run. A management book in disguise.
  5. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker – This management “classic” is certainly has some golden nuggets of information which make up Drucker’s five parts of being an effective executive. I read this before starting my final year of university, so although advice like “set specific blocks of time for a task and work on it until it is completed”, can be seen as basic advice – when one adds all of these management tactics together, they can become a more “effective executive”.
  6. No Excuses by Brian Tracy – When getting fit or trying to achieve your business, life, academic goals – most of us know exactly what we need to do. The problem is usually self-discipline and the solution is just doing what needs to be done. Easier said than, well, done. Anyone who has struggled to loose weight, quit smoking or write a long blog post like this, all know what to do to reach the end goal. We are our own worst enemies and this book gives twenty-one tactics on how to manage yourself.
  7. Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty – The “bible of finance” and number one best seller. If you’ve read any business site or paper in the past twelve months you will have definitely seen many of Piketty’s arguments debated ad nauseam. An interesting fact about this book – it’s the most downloaded book from Amazon not to be completed. I must admit that I helped in it achieving this title. I read over to over half-way and realised that I understood the main points and that my time may be better spent doing or reading something else. It is an interesting look into capital all the same, including why America may no longer be the “land of opportunities” and why my parents would need to leave me millions for me to be able to live from the fruits of their labour.
  8. Awaken the Giant within by Tony Robbins – Most people have probably read or see Tony Robbins in action. His material is always good for giving you a push when feeling tired or demotivated. This book is again easy to read but still gives some interesting pointers on finding what you love to do and embracing it. The importance of doing what you are passionate about and really believing that has been one of the best things that I’ve learned this year. I finally leave that I am being true to myself and doing it. I think that most people talk about this in clichés such as “love what you do and you’ll never work a day of your life”, but so few actually live this mantra.
  9. The Game by Neil Strauss – Recommended to me as “the greatest book that I’ve ever read” by a colleague at Agencyport so I decided to check out this book written by “The World’s Greatest Pickup Artist”. It follows the story of the socially-inept Strauss and how he uses his newly learned social skills to improve his professional and personal life. It shows how easily people can be played and manipulated but also the downfall of doing so. Worth a read if you are interest in finding out how to make men wish they were you, and women wish they were with you.
  10. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk – Want the tactics to grow your company brand on social media and an understanding of why you are doing them? Garyvee is a great mentor to start with. Add this book to this daily advice videos and you’ll gain a good insight into the mindset of a marketeer.
  11. The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014 by Carlotta Gall – After moving to the US in March I was embarrassed by my Wrong enemyignorance of Middle-Eastern history and politics. Who better to learn from than Carlotta Gall – a New York Times journalist who has been covering war zones with twenty years. “The Wrong Enemy” is a reference to the Pakistani secret service funding the Taliban in Afghanistan, while Pakistan gained financially from the US war in Afghanistan. Gall gives a very interesting insight into suicide bombers and the tribal structure of Afghanistan’s culture.
  12. End the Fed by Ron Paul – A book given to me by my US housemate after an evening discussing the respective failures of our countries’ banking systems in recent years. Paul, former Republican Congressman and presidential candidate, details why he wants the abolishion of the Federal Reserve Bank. He lays out an argument that the US central bank is an unconditional institution that was created by the elite for the elite. History tends to favour Paul’s argument, with even Ben Bernanke admitting that the Fed made the Great Depression of the ’30′s worse by its policies.
  13. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon – OK, I’ll admit that the tale of an autistic young boy who searches for the murderer of his neighbour’s dog might not fit in with the above reading (sorry Amazon if I’ve confused your “suggested reading” algorithm) but sometimes a change is as good as a rest. The way that the main character Christopher viewed life and many of our day-to-day activities was unusual yet refreshing. It’s always beneficial to get a different perspective on life.
  14. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni – This book came on the recommendation of FINEOS CEO Michael Kelly. Learning how Michael used what he learned to help transform his business made it a must-read. Where this book differs from the general management literature is that it reads as a story. A new CEO works to gel her management team together – no theory or statistics required. Michael Kelly gives a better review than I ever could here.
  15. Today Matters by John Maxwell – The title summarises the book well – a guide to being content, mindful and being happy today. Some may scoff at this pastor’s practical twelve steps, but by shifting down a gear we can have greater success in the long term. A self-help book, without most of the BS.
  16. Zero to One by Peter Thiel – Thiel, the Founder of Paypal and first investor in Facebook, is a legend in tech circles. A guide to innovation and avoiding buzz word industries such as “cloud” and “big data”. Being unconventional can lead to monopolies and Thiel has a swipe at universities by paying the best students not to go. There are some unusual points too though – like the fact that Thiel doesn’t invest in people who pitch wearing full suits. Other conventional “rules of start-ups”, such as tell as many people as you can, he also turns on their head.
  17. The Culture Secret by Dr. David Vik – “Company Culture” is a bit of a HR buzz word in my opinion. The more a company talks about it, probably the more forced and less natural that it is. Some of the Google culture propaganda for instance is just patronising. This is the only other book this year that I didn’t finish. Vik claims to have had the title as “Zappos Culture Coach” – a company well-know for being an awesome place to work. The book provided me with no new insights into company culture and it felt like Vik was winging it with a lot of what he was saying.
  18. Business Adventures by John Brooks – This book became a best seller over the summer after Bill Gates announced that it was his favourite Business Adventuresbusiness book of all-time and came recommended by Warren Buffet. Although this book was first published in the late 1960′s many of the twelve “Business Adventures” have timeless insights and meaning. Take the story of the failed Ford Edsel – marketeers and manufacturers of everything from cars to wearable technology  today can learn a lot from the many mistakes of Ford when they released the new model. The story-based structure of the books makes it very easy reading.
  19. The Art of Product Management by Rich Mironov – I read this last February before going to see Rich speak in Cork. The book is probably good for someone without much experience in product management and who wants to get an overview and foundation. After that, it varies too much by team, company and industry to get into too many specifics.
  20. Sell or Be Sold by Grant Cardone – I only came across Cardone for the first time earlier this year. His energy and enthusiasm would remind you of a young Tony Robbins, even if Cardone comes across as a Machiavellian asshole at times. The title is a great summary for the book – either you sell someone your product or they will sell you their excuse. He talks about how persuasion can be used in all areas of life and believing in what you are selling. A motivating book on sales tactics and achieving success.
  21. Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone – Possibly the most beneficial book that I read this year. I would count myself as being rather self-aware and being able to read people well but this book gave me so many “aha” moments. The title doesn’t do it justice. It’s a guide to managing your communication skills and conflict. Being able to stop in the middle of a row and de-construct what the problem actually is – “Wait, we were arguing that I forgot your birthday, why are you bringing up the amount of time I spend watching TV? They are two different issues, which would you like to discuss first?”. This book is filled with techniques to prevent personal and professional conflict from spiralling out of control. I think that characters in Coronation Street and other soap operas could learn how to remove all the drama from their lives by reading this (although it may lead to even less exciting episodes).
  22. The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield – Pressfield gives a great understanding of why we as humans lack willpower and have problems achieving what we want. Another book with a lot of insights in human nature. I wrote a piece for the people at Smarter Egg based on this earlier in the year – blame evolution rather than blame yourself. When we become aware of why we act the we do, it is much easier to take control of your own life and future (how very Oprah-esque I know).
  23. The Lean Startup by Eric Reis – Although only three years old, The Lean Startup has become more of a manifesto than a book for those interested in starting companies. Sometimes reading business books is a form of procrastination for business owners (and maybe students as I look back at the long list of books I’ve read) but Reis’ advice could save you a lot of money and time. He touches on the biggest mistakes and how to avoid them, along with advice on creating your MVP.
  24. Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder – Similar to The Lean Startup, the techniques used in this book are moving from having a cult following, to being used in large organisations. Osterwalder details how to use a business model canvas to map out the strengths and weaknesses of a product or company. Much of what is in the book can be gleamed from YouTube videos, although the examples are worth reading through.
  25. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking – My interest in Hawking peaked during the summer after watching some BBC documentaries on his work. He is considered by many as the greatest physicist of all-time correct? Sort of. When some of the top scientists in the world were asked the vote who they believed to be the top twenty physicists where did Hawking place? No one knows for sure, because he wasn’t in the top twenty. Some of his greatest theories has turned out to be false, yet many view him as the smartest man alive (what great branding!). A Brief History of Time gave me some unpleasant flash backs of studying Applied Mathematics for my Leaving Cert, but it did really show me how little we as humans know about the world or anything in general. We have spent millennia murdering each other over different gods and religions, yet we probably could not understand the concept  of a god or a higher spirit if one does exist. There is so much left for us to discover and understand.

That’s all folks! Thank you if you took the time to read through all of my reviews. If you have any suggestions for next year’s list, then feel free to comment below or send me a message on twitter.

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Posted in Business Books

The 10 minute Hailo ride that made my week

​There’s nothing like deadlines, a week-long vomiting bug​ and other commitments to make one feel like absolute crap. I nearly always try to stay days or weeks ahead of deadlines so a few weekends ago was hectic trying to get work done ahead of the almost week-long Web Summit.

hailo-logo

On Sunday evening I was stuck standing on a crowded train from Killarney to Cork, even though I had booked seats. I was so tired and pissed off that when I got into Kent station I ordered a Hailo. I couldn’t wait in the rain for a bus that might never show up after not being well for the previous week.

The driver arrived and my girlfriend and I hurdle our bags into the car and I couldn’t wait to get home and recharge physically and mentally. I was far from being in a good mood.

Then my driver, Ayuk, started talking:

 

Ayuk: So Shane, what are you doing in Cork.

Me: I’m studying BIS, basically business and computing in UCC.

Ayuk: That is incredible man, you are so lucky and will be become extremely wealthy.

Me: Yep, that’s the plan but we’ll see how it goes.

Ayuk: And who is this beautiful lady?

Aoife: I’m Aoife. I’m his girlfriend.

He asks a few high level questions about where and when we met.

Ayuk: Wow, you two are fantastic. Shane you are so lucky and you must promise that I can be the driver at your wedding.

At this stage I was really starting to lighten and brighten up. His high energy enthusiasm was just the right tone to get to me. His outside opinion, although he only knew me for minutes, was a great reality check and made me grateful for what I had.

I really enjoyed talking to him about how he came to Cork from Cameron and his beautiful Irish wife.

Even when I tried to lower the tone by contrasting the weather in Cork to the weather in Cameron he quickly answered me.

Ayuk: I love the Cork weather, it’s brilliant.

Me: Why? (I was sceptical now, thinking that he may actually be be taking some kind of medication if he loved the Irish weather)

Ayuk: Ah man, the rain is great for business!

I started laughing and went on to have one of my best weeks in a long time. It’s incredible what affect one person can have on you. Ayuk re-energised me for the week ahead.

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Why you should start firing your staff

I was listening to one of the greatest managers and leaders of all time recently; Jack Welch. Welch made an interesting point about bad and passive managers -bad managers are too slow at firing their under-performing employees.

Jack Welch - why you should start firing your staff

There are obvious disadvantages to businesses and departments who hire and continue to employee below-par employees, but perhaps almost as importantly, you are doing a disservice to that member of staff when you then fire them during the next downturn – which will happen at some stage in the not-too-distant future.

I know that this post lacks my usual positivity, but it does not really benefit anyone for you to employ him or her and give them good annual reviews just because you like them. It certainly won’t be easier on them to be let go in the middle of the next recession when they are older and may have additional responsibilities, debts, stresses and the jobs market is worse.

I’m certainly not trying to tell anyone how to run their business. Maybe you like having John or Mary working for you, but as Jack Welch also says, candour is one of the most important traits of a leader. He is implying here that it is best to inform John and Mary of your thoughts on their performance, so that you can both make better decisions on their future plans.

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The New ABC of Business

​Last Sunday night I found myself on the 132 Amtrak train that hit an SUV and derailed outside Boston.

It was almost 4 am by the time another train came to pick us up, but in that time I met some very interest​ing​ ​​people. One guy, for example, was a VC who had sold a successful tech company only last year.

Fast forward to the end of the week, Friday night, and I find myself in a pretty grimy bar for a colleague’s going away party. I started talking to a group next to us and it turned out that they were the senior management of one of the largest transportation companies in the world.

ABC -Alec-Baldwin-Glengarry-Glen-Ross

When I got home on Friday night my housemates were reenacting Alec Baldwin’s scene from the 1992 business movie Glengarry Glen Ross. One of my housemates was after getting his first sales job.

“A. B. C.”, one banged on the garden​ table​ as he spoke each ​letter, “Always. ​B​e. ​C​losing.”. As they showered my newly employed friend with business advice, each piece of advice as cliche as the next by the way, I thought about my week and the new ABC of business. I think better advice for my housemate would be Always Be Connecting. You never know who the person sitting next to you on the train or in the bar might be. For some it may be seen as a momentous task to be curious about everyone that you meet, but it can result in some fascinating conversations.

​But people have always been an important part of business, what’s new about connecting? Nothing, but as Dr. David Vik describes in his book The Culture Secret: How to Empower People and Companies No Matter What You Sell, “the world is more transparent than ever. Current or potential customers and investors all want to know what you’re about before they do business with you’.

The days of the travelling salesman are over and you won’t survive if your only strategy is to make a quick sale.

That’s why the new ABC of business is so important – Always Be Connecting and who knows who you might meet.

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Posted in Boston, business, Business Books

The CEO’s Speech

Over the past few years I have seen many CEOs and business leaders talking to employees and it reminds me nothing more than of Colin Firth’s character King George VI in “The King’s Speech”.

The CEOs Speech

Firth’s character hates public speaking and only does it as it is a requirement of his role as king. He speaks to the masses through the medium of radio and receives no feedback from his followers.

Too often I have seen senior management either not keeping employees up-to-date, or else if they do, communicating like Firth – in a single direction.

One of the greatest CEO’s of the past century, Jack Welsh, often speaks about managers not understanding that the higher a manager is in a food chain, the less he or she should give answers and the more they should be asking facilitating questions that the staff can answer. Why should the top of the organisational pyramid be any different?

Obviously it is important for CEO’s to lead and show direction, but think of the accumulative years of experience that the employees of a company have in a range of businesses and industries. What an incredible pool of resources that can be tapped for brainstorming ideas from different perspectives.

When Jack Welsh was CEO of General Electric, they used to survey their 300,000 employees about important issues regularly. Staff on the frontline often see issues before senior management and involving staff can give them a greater sense of value and importance within the company.

Are you a CEO or a king?

 

P.s. I’ve seen some members of management doing this well and engaging staff, just in case it sounds like I’ve only known mediocre managers.

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Posted in business, management

Really loving what you do

When I took part in Code Day Boston last month, I was fortunate to get to spend some time with an entrepreneur called Nikita Bernstein. Nikita has founded numerous companies, with some great success. His latest business, JoMI (Journal of Medical Insight), provides high quality training videos to surgeons and other medical professionals.

love what you do

What struck me as I spoke with Nikita was the passion that he had for what he was doing. As we discussed the technology behind his training platform, he explained how important it was to have a first-rate site. His strive for excellence wasn’t primarily motivated by revenues, or increasing the sale value, it was because the site was improving the lives of surgeon’s patients. The higher the quality of the site and the training materials, the more lives he could help better and maybe even save.

It’s rare to speak with an individual that is so passionate about and proud of their work. It was refreshing and motivating but made me think of the hundreds of others that I have met and worked with over the past few years who had little or no love for their work.

I can only count two dozen or so people who have seemed to truly love what they are doing. Out of this small pool, half have been entrepreneurs running their own businesses, the rest have been involved in the medical or charity sectors with a couple floaters in different industries. I am not including HR staff who always (over-)sell a company or their work as the best thing ever – and who then regularly pop up on my Linkedin newsfeed having changed company weeks or months later.

As someone who is still creating a path for myself, it was saddening to think of all the colleagues I’ve had who’ve been in jobs that they have really disliked for years. They groan every Sunday night as they think of work the following week.

Perhaps some don’t mind working in jobs that they don’t like, as it is a compromise that allows them to spend more time with family and friends.

With that said, imagine if we all really loved our work and were as passionate as Nikita.

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Posted in business, management

The Nigerian Iceberg

My social media newsfeeds has been filled over the past few days with messages from young and old relating to the kidnapping of hundreds of school girls in Nigeria. Over 200 girls were taken from their boarding school by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram. The group threatens that it will sell the girls into sex slavery.

The Nigerian Iceberg

Much of the disgust and discussion over the past month since the mass abduction occurred, has revolved around the Nigerian Government’s and Military’s inaction. Numerous sources claim that the two parties were aware of an impending attack but failed to act to protect their own people.

Although Boko Haram has been in existence since 2002, it has really only since 2009 that it has become a militant organisation. It seems that their goal is to prevent the “Westernisation” of  Nigeria and wish to see a full implementation of the strict Islamic Shari Law. This is one of the reasons why a school was the target of their attack as the group is opposed to numerous practices such as traditional education.

The entire incident is a tragedy of huge proportions but what has struck me though, as more and more “Westeners” pour to social media to give their support, is how selective both us the public and the media are in relation to news and events.

Boko Haram have murdered in the region of 1,200-2,000 (Amnesty International puts the figure at more than 2,000) people this year alone, including 310 people in one town. Why weren’t we made aware of the genocide happening in Nigeria prior to this incident? Why does it always take one specific story to have an emotional affect on us? It would seem that if news agencies had lead with the story of 2,000 deaths then we would not have been interested – a simple shrug of the shoulders and we’d continue what we were doing – worrying about tonight’s dinner or weekend plans.

It reminds me of the rape and murder of the Indian student in New Delhi two years ago. In India a child goes missing every 8 minutes, with over half of them never being found, yet we rarely hear it on the news. Obviously we can relate better to an individual’s story but there does seem to be something perverse in ignoring the disappearance of over 1,200 children each week.

I don’t mean to preach either, we all have our own worries and it is probably a coping mechanism that we cannot understand the scale of the number of children being raped, tortured and murdered on a daily basis. Neither do we have time to research the backgrounds and political situations in many of these countries. (I chaired the university branch of an Indian charity for the past two years, hence my interest there).

What we hear in the news in relation to many of these stories is only the very tip of a massive iceberg. There is so much more pain and suffering occurring in certain parts of the world that maybe no media outlet has the resources to cover it to any reasonable extent. Even if they did, would we be interested in hearing it? It’s easy to discuss the girls’ kidnapping at the water cooler or over a beer and suggest some simple solutions such as a US intervention. It would take more than one round of beers to come up with a solution to demilitarize Boko Haram or prevent the mass abduction of children on a daily basis in Indian.

As media consumers we may be most to blame for our selective ignorance, both at home and abroad. This is a shame as one would hope that with the ever increasing power of social media, the general public has more influence on political leaders than ever before. There is one caveat though, we must keep our minds open and get informed about the rest of the iceberg – millions of lives may depend on it.

 

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Posted in Politics

Why I’m moving to Boston

Even though Ireland is the European home for many of the world’s largest technology companies, I decided to work in Boston for my 6 month university internship. There was obviously many factors involved when I was making my decision about both where I wanted to work and what position would give me the best experience for the years ahead.

I’m sure I could add to, and learn a lot from, numerous companies in Cork or Dublin, but travelling adds another dimension to the six months. It will be a fantastic opportunity to get a taste of American culture, both during and outside of work.

Boston-Image

The company that I am taking up a development position within, AgencyPort, is a great medium-sized software house. Although honing my java web applications skills would have been possible in Ireland, trying out for the company’s softball team may not have been.

Then there’s the travelling. Although I do have a week planned on the West Coast, there are many more trips around the country that are in their planning stages. I’ll be accompanied on some of these by friends who are also working in Boston and New York – a nice balance of the known meeting the unknown.

I’ve already arranged to meet some contacts during my time in the US, both new and old. I’m sure there will be many other chances to meet some great people, be it through work, through housemates or through other professional organizations.

Needless to say, I’m rather excited about my upcoming work (adventure) starting next week. If anyone reading this would fancy getting a coffee in Boston, New York, San Francisco etc. in the coming months, then please get in touch.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Race the Person, Not the Name

I was having a conversation recently with a “business leader” in Cork. The mood was jovial until I brought up that I had completed a Spring Internship in London with Credit Suisse last year. I was laughing that many of us UCC students and graduates were well able to match, if not exceed the capabilities of our international counterparts at the investment bank. She became immediately serious, and her face soured at me. “Of course you were. I’m quite surprised myself that you were surprised!”

University College Cork

I guess my perceptions of Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics had been skewed by their marketing teams, prestigious researchers and watching too much “University Challenge”. I did, late one evening, inform my Cambridge flatmate of my stereotypical views on students from his university. He laughed and explained that they only send the “freaks” on TV shows like “University Challenge”. He explained that while there is some great work being carried out at his institution, most of his classmates are ordinary guys with a strong work ethic.

Although I learned a lot from spending time in one of the world’s largest IT departments, I think one of the most important things is a reinforcement of what my rowing coach used to tell us before competing – “race the person, not the name”.

Posted in business, management, UCC

Why I’m quitting Alcohol

I have considered writing a post about alcohol for a while. As a university student in Ireland I guess I am at the forefront of alcohol abuse in our society. Maybe I could even say the world?

There will be much written about Ireland’s relationship with alcohol over the coming days as rumours emerge that a young Dublin man has died taking part in a “Neknomination” challenge. Basically, this involves videoing yourself downing a pint of larger, can of beer or sometimes even going as far as a litre of vodka. After you finish you nominate friends that you would like to see doing the challenge in the next 24 hours.. The trivial nature of such games is a summation of many of our relationships with alcohol. A case of all or nothing, don’t question the fun, no happy mediums. Why Im quitting alcohol

Although public opinion towards the likes of alcohol-related events such as Arthurs Day have slowly began to change, our collective dependency on alcohol is holding us back from so much. I won’t bore you with facts about the destructive forces of alcohol or the figures about alcohol-related suicides, we know these but continue to ignore them. It seems any utterance of anti-alcoholism on any forum is reserved for those of us who are “dry” or “boring”. Yes I do enjoy alcohol and the socialising that it encourages, but it is far too big a crutch for so many.

“Oh yes, it’s terrible that some can’t hold their drink”, I’m not talking about having another conversation in which we all nod and agree and nothing is done. If we put restrictions on cigarettes and other substances then why not alcohol? Yes, yes a “nanny” state I suppose. But maybe in some cases our nanny knows best? Instead we have a Government that is being strong-armed by lobbyists and hollow promises of World Cup hosting if we just keep alcohol advertising for another 10 years. In the meantime, the alcohol industry captures another generation and keep tempting them with the notion of idealistic drink-fuelled lifestyles. All while it destroys lives and costs all of us billions in medical expenses, policing etc.

We can meet publicans and drinks companies half-way perhaps. They will agree to minimum pricing as some would suggest. OK, so we legally enforce a minimum price on alcohol and give companies a higher margin on the pint? As far as I can see, this will just allow companies to increase their advertising budgets, allow them to poison more minds. Why not tax them like cigarettes? Are politicians that afraid of publicans and lobbyists?

On my first day of college three years ago, we were given a talk about how pint glasses would have health warnings on them in X years time and that alcohol would one day be seen in the same light as cigarette smoking. Then the university’s contractors supply “cheap pints” and provide a place where students can effortlessly get drink. At the very least the university could put the warnings on the glasses as they have confidently predicted would become the norm. When the catering contracts for the campus come up next year, then why not add a stipulation that the warnings must appear on glasses in the college bars? I know it won’t happen, perhaps because there is no will there to make it happen, or because alcohol is such a money-maker.

Why should I care what others are doing? Shouldn’t I just look after myself? I guess there is some truth in that. Then you see some of the devastation and erosion caused by alcohol on friends and it’s hard not to say anything. Sure it’s great when half your college class don’t turn up on Fridays – better results and jobs for me – but I don’t want to see so much potential continually wasted by those who have been lead to believe that our relationship with drink is “normal”. Each generation sinking a little bit further into the abyss.

I just hope that our “Leaders of Tomorrow” can start being leaders today, put the best foot forward and change what is considered “normal” for those looking at us as role models.

Note: I am not “quitting alcohol”, the title refers to the image which is the letter Don Draper wrote in the television show Mad Men.  

 

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