Tag: cognitive neuroscience

Fashion, Enterprise, and New Futures

Can new thinking and new choices in fashion change the world?

Recently I was invited to speak at a business event:  Storytelling and Emotion,  hosted by the Centre for Fashion Enterprise (CFE).  CFE is the enterprise development arm of the London College of Fashion. I visited with them a week before the event to get a feel for the business of fashion. These guys, who are actually an awesome entrepreneurial service led and run by 10 gals, are doing some way-out pioneering business incubation stuff. Over the last 11 years they’ve helped launch the careers of designers such as Basso & Brooke, Peter Pilotto and Holly Fulton amongst others.

The line-up of speakers was world class.  I knew that between them they would do more than justice to the topic at hand. So what had I to give? What value would I deliver? I decided to do what I do best: take neuroscience research out of the lab and highfalutin journals and apply it to everyday life and business, to evoke change that leads to better futures all round.

My presentation was about accessing neuroplasticity to craft new-futures for fashion enterprise. After an awe-inspiring evening of presentations, panel discussion and questions from a leading-edge audience, I feel inspired to share an excerpt from my journal notes regarding the event:

1st July 2017:

FashTech and the whole of the Fashion Industry is not so unlike the emerging domain and discipline of Neuroscience and Neuroplasticity. Both have enormous responsibility in co-crafting better and new sustainable worlds of geography, business, capitals development, management , and evolution. Especially the interaction and engagement between human and technology capitals. To access, engage and exercise neuroplasticity in new-futures thinking for fashion and sustainability in the same breath, we must look to:

  • Developing not just multidisciplinary think tanks and leadership, but ensure a good balance  of multiple intelligences * within multidisciplinary teams to ensure holistic thinking and leadership. A mixed-minds approach, so to speak.
  • Building an infrastructure for Future Fashion or a Foresight Lab and community around it – including governments, Fortune 500 companies, philanthropists, futurologists, etc.. Herein lies the power of unconventional co-crafting of new futures by mind-set and innovation.
  • Partnering across sectors (the “strength in numbers” concept has immense value here) in order to cultivate connection and connectivity with those who are to come after us. To raise understanding that we are as yet a young species and to stop living as if evolution of the human species ended with us.
  • Developing community so we are not daunted by the problems we face (in fashion or neuroscience).
  • Cultivating a sense of our value in the larger system called Life and Futures.
  • Never under-estimating what one person or a small group of co-conspirators can do!

Each of the above points probably constitute a book on its own, or at least a chapter in one. I get that this is big-ideas thinking. But each idea now needs to go through several processes of futures thinking – by breaking them apart to arrive at their component parts. This is followed by further processes of adding, deleting, questioning, debating, challenging – in other words, using our gorgeous, malleable, plastic brains.

This is how we make a better world. One thought at a time.

∗ Theory of multiple intelligences by Howard Gardner 


Conundrums, Cognition and Wisdom

Here’s a conundrum that has the potential to help you do some cognitive stretching.  Its attributed to the Bhagavad Gita so I’m guessing that it’s been around for a few thousand years:


“It is never born. It never dies. Weapons cannot cut it, fire cannot burn it, water cannot wet it
and wind cannot dry it. It is immortal, imperishable.”
Bhagavad Gita: Ch 2: V.23.24

Contemplate that!

Let’s get this clear.  Contemplation is not navel-gazing.  Navel-gazing is for the lazy thinker.  Contemplation on the other hand,  is a satisfying cognitive practice.  It involves thinking with greater depth and thoroughness. These processes activate and nurture plasticity.

Contemplating a problem, brain-storming a solution, and studying  phenomena, are all cognitive processes that involve greater in-depth thinking than your average observe and report behaviours.  They evidence several neural aspects of contemplative cognition.

Conundrums such as the one above however, can help you develop contemplative cognition to a higher level.  There is no problem to solve.  There is no solution to find. And yet, it is a wonderful tool and ally of mind- training.

Through contemplating such conundrums (kōan in Zen practice) you open the door to a whole new world of self-knowledge and mind-training.  Inevitably, you begin to tame and transform reactive thinking.  With practice you develop the ability to transform and transcend old patterns of thought that are not exactly in your favour.

Could this foster wisdom?

Wisdom is tricky to define. Somewhere deep down within, you and I know that wisdom is more than the definition attempted in various dictionaries.  So, I’ll leave you with a quote rather than a conundrum that will help you contemplate and arrive at your own definition of wisdom:


 “We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves,
after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us,
and effort which no one can spare us.”

 Marcel Proust


Happy weekend, happy mind-stretch!



Being Decisive And Making Decisions

Derek’s @sivers tweet this morning made me smile! Now, I don’t know a thing about Gitlab or Github, except what Google tells me: they are web-based code repositories, and the rest.


Sivers Tweet


What really struck me though was Sivers’ RheoMode (flow-mode) mindset – made apparent by the tone of the tweet – by which the decision came about. Embedded and entangled within that sound byte were many markers of someone at the top of their game.

I cast no aspersions on Mr Siver’s knowlege, but a big marker of timely, confident and forward-moving decision making is not needing to know every single thing about the topic, and how things will pan out in the future. It’s about knowing some things well, some less so, and above all, knowing where, why and how this matches what you are looking for. These bits of knowledge go a long way in making both – balanced decisions, and risk-taking decisions. Both are success mindset components.

In the world of business, these traits are highly-sought after and rewarded – decisiveness followed by good (Vs poor) execution is a leader’s dream come true.

Success-nurturing people have big visions and dreams, but are also grounded enough to make decisions based on what works for now. This is a substrate of a plastic mind which, in its own wake, unfolds new momentum, direction, and smart strategies.

Confident decision makers understand continuity and appreciate that perpetual “unfinished-ness” is how visions are realised. They allow room in their mind for error and new learning. And most importantly, they appreciate that all things are temporary and will change, and new decisions can be made at any point in time.