The Fortnight is a Unit of Time Equivalent to 14 Days

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Humour, Life | Posted on 08-04-2010

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Hello America,

I’d like to introduce you to a brilliant word to use in all those situations that you’re talking about something that will happen in two weeks time:

Fortnight.

Wikipedia:

The fortnight is a unit of time equivalent to fourteen days. The word derives from the Old English feorwertyne niht, meaning “fourteen nights”.

Fortnight is a commonly used word in Britain and many Commonwealth countries such as Pakistan, India, New Zealand and Australia (where many wages, salaries and most social security benefits are paid on a fortnightly basis.) The word is rarely used in the United States, but is used regionally in Canada. Payroll systems may use the term biweekly in reference to pay periods every two weeks. The terms fortnightly and biweekly are often mistakenly conflated with semimonthly.

In a sentence:

“Once a fortnight, I wish Americans used a word that would refer to a period of time lasting precisely fourteen days”.

I shared this thought on Twitter today:

And drew this response:

So how about it Yanks? Accept Fortnight into your life?

Later is Eternal, Now Is Fleeting

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Life | Posted on 08-04-2010

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Great little quote from 37 Signals ‘Getting Real‘ that introduced itself to me during my subway reading this morning: “Later is eternal, now is fleeting”.

(Live Now Not Later – from user guelphguy on Flickr)

Welcome to PaullYoung.com

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Admin | Posted on 06-04-2010

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After over 4 years of blogging on social media, PR and marketing over at Young PR I’ve decided to make the move to my own domain & hosting here at paullyoung.com.

Welcome old friends and new readers alike. I do hope you’ll take the time to subscribe, read and occasionally comment or throw some link-love my way. I always counsel clients that an engaged blog reader should be treasured, so I hope all of you reading realize how much it means to me that you take the time to keep up with my rambling here.

I’ll miss Young PR, I started the blog (at the time Australia’s third PR blog) while still a student at Charles Sturt University, and over the last four years it has seen several hundred posts, the anti-astroturfing campaign, a ‘big blog world tour‘ and my move to New York City. It has also been ranked as the third most influential Australian Marketing blog and has appeared in several ‘top marketing blog’ lists such as the AdAge Power 150.

But on to bigger and better things!

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What To Expect From PaullYoung.com

The move from ‘Young PR’ to my own domain will also see a shift in content from a focus on PR/Marketing and all things social media to the broader issues, ideas and thinking that catch my interest. I’m still passionate about this industry and the new web, but there’s plenty more out there that I’d like to be sharing and discussing with all of you.

You’ll see that echoed in the posts I have here at launch, themes include Iraqi military strategy, rugby and business leadership and the future of video on the internet… but no marketing BS amongst it (yet).

I’m also anticipating that it will be hard to keep up a regular publishing schedule, so while I will be writing original content, I’ll also be sharing links that catch my eye both in the blog and also via my Google Reader shared items in the sidebar here, and of course I’ll continue Twittering like crazy (with my most recent update appearing in the header above).

Some Gratitude

Firstly, and importantly, a sincere thank you to Auburn University’s Robert French. Robert has been a huge help to me for many years as I found my way in the world of blogging. Without his prblogs.org platform (set up by James Farmer) I’m not sure I’d be working in the social media industry in New York right now. If you’re in the PR/Marketing world and looking to get into social media you should definitely follow Robert and everything he is doing – especially the vibrant community at PR Open Mic.

Also I can’t recommend highly enough the web design and development work of my friend (and Village Lions rugby teammate) Pat McJury. Pat helped me build and host this blog, set up the design and all the bells and whistles. If you’re looking for some development or design work I’d be happy to give you a personal introduction.

Finally, thank you to all of you who have come past for a read – I hope you’ll take the time to subscribe and continue conversing over time!

Howard Rheingold on the Internet & the Public Sphere

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Internet | Posted on 06-04-2010

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Howard Rheingold, one of the earliest and deepest thinkers on virtual communities and online interaction (wayyy before social media hit the scene), has a great 10 minute video with some thoughts on the Public Sphere in the Age of the Internet.

A great quote from the end of the video when Rheingold quotes Future Forecaster Paul Saffo: “You oughta look twice as far backwards if you want to look forward

Tuckshop NYC Book Exchange

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Australia, Humour | Posted on 05-04-2010

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How I love Aussie meat-pie shop Tuckshop NYC.

Book Exchange at Tuckshop NYC

Rugby and Leadership

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Business | Posted on 04-04-2010

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One of my teammates from the Village Lions sent me a great New York Times interview on business leadership and rugby with InterContinental Hotel Groups CEO Andrew Cosslett.

As a business person by day, rugby player by night, there’s a lot I can connect with. In particular this section on leading teams:

Good teams are easy. But if you’ve been a captain of bad teams and you’ve had to find a way of making the team believe in itself and have a hunger to do something — which involves a lot of sacrifice and pain and training and fitness and all that stuff — that’s a lot harder. And I’ve done a fair amount of that.

That whole notion of getting beaten up and actually losing a lot and still having the vision and the confidence out front is a huge part of leadership. It’s a belief, a conviction and confidence in the future prospects of what you’re trying to do, and just keeping the flag flying no matter what’s going on around you.

I learned that by captaining bad teams. When you’re getting beaten by 60 points on a rugby field and everyone’s walking around with broken noses, it’s really hard. But you learn that you either fail or you find a way of dealing with it. And everyone’s different, so you have to know people. I think having a sense of self-awareness is very important, like how you impact each of the people you’re with differently.

Q. Can you elaborate on that?

A. The whole thing about staying alive on a rugby field is about reliance on the guys around you. Each one of those people on a rugby team responds differently because it’s physically dangerous as a game. It has a tension in the changing room before you go out to play that’s not like any other sport, and I’ve played lots, because it is almost like going into battle. There’s a chance you’re going to break your neck or have a very bad injury.

You need to gel with them as a team, but each one responds individually. So it’s about seeing the world on their terms and then dealing with them on their terms, not yours.

He closes the interview with what I think is some superb advice for young professionals:

Q. What’s your best career advice to somebody who has just graduated from college?

A. Leave home. Go as far away as possible from what you know. I think you’ve got to be tested, and you’ve got to test yourself. So my best career advice would be life advice. Go and find out who you are and what you can deal with and put yourself in some positions that will be distinctly uncomfortable. Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone is a great learning in life.

The second would be: keep asking questions. There’s a lot of perceived wisdom in most industries that haven’t hasn’t been challenged for years. The trick in business is not to care too much. Because if you care too much, you won’t ask questions and you won’t challenge because you’ll care too much about your position and what someone’s thinking about you.

I was always relatively cavalier in my early career because I always thought if I don’t make it in business, I’ll go and do something else anyway. I always have given 100 percent to everything I’ve done, but I’ve always had a slightly maverick side that actually stood me in great stead, because it enabled me to ask those difficult questions and be the burr under the saddle.

The third one is: have a sense of humor. It’s a lot easier to get through most things if you’ve got a smile on your face. It doesn’t have to be a chore. So just lighten up.

General David Petraeus on the Power of Ideas

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Current Affairs | Posted on 02-04-2010

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I read an interesting (if somewhat sycophantic) Vanity Fair feature article on General David Petraeus – the man behind America’s succesful ‘surge‘ strategy in Iraq and now the key stakeholder in Afghanistan.

For some quick political background so you know we’re I’m coming from: I was extremely strongly opposed to the Iraq War – I joined 200,000 people marching against it in Sydney on February 16 2003. Once we’re in there though, I want to see us do the right thing, and I’ve been a supporter of the surge strategy and am strongly in support of keeping more troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan for the long-term (key influencer on my thinking here: Niall Ferguson).

The key section that stuck out to me from the Vanity Fair article was David Petraeus’s rigid adherence to the power of ideas (along with a lesson in perseverance):

Petraeus was sent to head the Combined Arms Center, at Fort Leavenworth. He left with a mandate to shake things up, and the assignment in his case was to be temporary, but it is a command that epitomizes the word “mundane.” It runs all of the army’s combat-training centers and schools, and is responsible for crafting army doctrine. It was an important job, but has often represented a career dead end. Petraeus was enough of an intellectual to know what many men of action do not: ideas precede and determine acts. If you want to change something as big as an army, how better than to change the way it thinks? In 2005, from his base in the heartland, Petraeus went to work drawing up a new set of doctrinal manuals for the modern military—he called it “Full Spectrum Operations”—which posited that all future military efforts would be some mix of offense, defense, and stability and support operations. He and the school commandants under him called for new curricula and new reading lists at army training centers, emphasizing cultural awareness, people-friendly tactics, and a broader range of tools. Petraeus believed the pre-9/11 soldier had been taught what to think. He wanted the post-9/11 soldier taught how to think.

As part of an overhaul of army instructional materials, he recruited a team of unprecedented diversity to draft a new field manual on counter-insurgency, inviting not just scholars and soldier-scholars but human-rights activists, journalists, and diplomats. In addition to emphasizing population protection and civic rebuilding efforts, the new manual underscored the importance of earning trust through transparency. It stressed telling the truth even when the news was bad, bending over backward to avoid arresting and killing the wrong people, and persuading those among the enemy who were reconcilable to abandon the fight in return for concessions, incentives, and opportunity. It also (and this piece is often overlooked) called for relentlessly isolating and targeting extremists, those who will not reconcile. So as you add friends, you subtract enemies. Petraeus says, “The idea is to go to bed every night with fewer enemies than you had in the morning.” The manual not only galvanized a movement within the military but also became a national best-seller, the first army manual ever reviewed in The New York Times Book Review (and favorably at that).

Petraeus went off to Baghdad in early February of 2007 with a mandate from the president to put counter-insurgency into practice. The surge, then, was not just an infusion of new troops. It was an infusion of new ideas. He took with him some of the scholars, military and civilian, who had helped him write the counter-insurgency manual. The assignment was a stark illustration of the difference between academia and the military. In academia you publish and subject your work to criticism and comment, and sometimes your ideas are shot down. It can be a humbling experience. In the military, you publish, and then you arm yourself for battle. If your ideas are wrong, you don’t just suffer criticism. People die.

The other section I’ve got to highlight as a red-blooded male is the man’s sheer toughness, as shown by his recovery from a 1991 training incident that sure a M16 round shot through his chest, tearing out part of his lung and blowing a four-inch hole in his back:

He was back at work in record time, demonstrating to the hospital staff, just days after surgery, that he was not an ordinary patient by removing the IV tubes from his arm and dropping to the floor to do push-ups. The medical staff took note of his toughness. The insertion of a chest tube between his ribs, without anesthesia, had produced only a grunt.

The full article is well worth a read – it’s good to know that a bloke like this is leading the unglamorous and oft-ignored conflict in Afghanistan.

Clay Shirky and the Complexity of Video

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Internet | Posted on 01-04-2010

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Clay Shirky, brilliant as always, had some interesting thoughts on the rising simplicity of video.

The full post is worth a read, and a couple of pars stood out for me:

The most watched minute of video made in the last five years shows baby Charlie biting his brother’s finger. (Twice!) That minute has been watched by more people than the viewership of American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, and the Superbowl combined. (174 million views and counting.)

Some video still has to be complex to be valuable, but the logic of the old media ecoystem, where video had to be complex simply to be video, is broken. Expensive bits of video made in complex ways now compete with cheap bits made in simple ways. “Charlie Bit My Finger” was made by amateurs, in one take, with a lousy camera. No professionals were involved in selecting or editing or distributing it. Not one dime changed hands anywhere between creator, host, and viewers. A world where that is the kind of thing that just happens from time to time is a world where complexity is neither an absolute requirement nor an automatic advantage.

When ecosystems change and inflexible institutions collapse, their members disperse, abandoning old beliefs, trying new things, making their living in different ways than they used to. It’s easy to see the ways in which collapse to simplicity wrecks the glories of old. But there is one compensating advantage for the people who escape the old system: when the ecosystem stops rewarding complexity, it is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present, rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future.

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