Monthly Archives: June 2014

What our politicians can learn from the Hunger Games rules of persuasion

PANEM today, Panem tomorrow, Panem forever.” You need to watch the chilling new teaser for the next Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay. Its cool irony confirms the series’s remarkable journey from minor young adult diversion to cultural milestone. The series of thrillers is no cinematic masterpiece, but 30 years on from 1984 it is helping inoculate a new generation against the horror and seductions of tyranny. Continue reading

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Filed under Film, Freedom, Liberal education, Politics

It’s not enough for Tories to love liberty – Britain needs two parties of freedom

FREEDOM doesn’t get many shout-outs from politicians in today’s Britain. The hustings of the nation whose proudest boast used to be “it’s a free country” now echo with little but shades of paternalist reassurance. Have a problem? There ought to be a law to sort it out – and if you vote for us, by God there will be.

Disquiet at the major parties’ lack of interest in political freedom drove this week’s inaugural Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty, hosted in the City’s Guildhall by Conservative think tank the Centre for Policy Studies. It was cheering to hear a ringing Tory reaffirmation that liberty matters, but it is not enough. We need a cross-party equivalent. Continue reading

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Filed under Freedom, History, Human nature, Politics

Inside Pixar: Management lessons from the animation powerhouse

THIS week, Pixar finally broke its silence, offering a glimpse of its next film. Inside Out won’t be released until next summer, but already the critics are gushing, with Peter Debruge writing in Variety that it could provide a whole new way to visualise how our minds work. That’s because the story is actually set inside the head of an 11-year-old girl. Rather like an updated version of the old Numskulls cartoon, the main characters are personified emotions, trying to cope as the girl begins to grow up.

The prospect of a fifteenth hit for the groundbreaking computer animation studio behind Toy Story, Up and Ratatouille is incredibly impressive. Luckily, for the first time we can learn from this achievement as well as admire it, because just like in the upcoming movie, Ed Catmull recently opened up the mind of this creative powerhouse for the public to see how it works. Continue reading

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Filed under Art, Business, Film

Leadership lessons from the ancients: How to succeed like Cyrus the Great

IT WAS a great invasion in the cause of liberty. Not 70 years ago, but two and a half millennia, when on 7 October 540 BC the army of Cyrus the Great entered Babylon by water. Beforehand, he misdirected the blockaded city by digging a ditch encircling its walls, as if settling his army in for a siege. Then, under cover of night, the brilliant general and architect of the Achmaenid Empire diverted the Euphrates into this massive ditch, and marched his troops into the heart of the city along the river bed.

This is just one remarkable tale in a fresh edition of Cyrus the Great’s ancient biography by Larry Hedrick, aimed at bringing his insights on leadership to the boardroom. Management guru Peter Drucker called it not just the first systematic study of leadership, but still the best. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, History