Come visit us over at The Great Bear

February 17, 2011

Hello there old friends. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I hope this post/email/RSS feed finds you very well. Just a quick note to say that I’ve moved to Vermont and launched a new venture called URSA MAJOR, which means ‘The Great Bear’ in Latin. Please come visit! We’re trying to put into practice many of the entrepreneurial ideas discussed here on Indie Breakfast Club. And, btw, if you feel like partaking in the goods over at The Great Bear, I’ve set up a little promo for my old IBC friends (type in “IBC” coupon when checking out for 20% off your first order + free shipping), good for 30 days. OK, that’s it for now! Look forward to re-connecting if you feel like continuing the dialogue/journey. Onward and upward, Oliver


IBC goes into early hibernation

September 5, 2008

This post is a month or two overdue, or a month or two premature, depending on how you look at it. Either way, I’ve decided to put IBC on ice for a while so I can focus on a new project. At some point, I may resume this blog or start another one. In the meantime, thanks to those of you who visited, commented and supported IBC one way or another. Here’s to a productive fall ’08.


To the faceless millions moving through the dark tonight

June 9, 2008

Hello readers. It’s been a while. About 10 days in fact since my last post.

I went on holiday in search of a quiet beach and some rest.

We ended up south of Tulum in the Yucatan, just in time for a fierce tropical storm.

The wind howled day and night, filling everything with fine white sand, and the rain came sideways and hard.

Three days in, some fierce waves tossed this home-spun raft (from Cuba I’m guessing) onto the beach.

I’ve stumbled across these ravaged vessels before (in the Bahamas) and be assured they leave you standing cold…

Whose raft was this? What godawful circumstances pushed them to set out on such a risky journey? And, inevitably, how did the voyagers die?

Was it the sun? Did they run out of water? Starve to death? Or did a big, black wave fill their lungs forever with brine?

Does it matter? In face of such long odds, death was almost certain.

It’s hard to imagine a life so miserable, so utterly lacking in hope that it drives people to plunge headlong into the dark sea on little more than a stack of bound twigs for a slim chance at something better, far over the horizon.

But millions of course make this stark choice every year; thousands are on the move at this very moment, across mountains, deserts and seas, risking everything to flee dictators and misery in search of safety, shelter and food.

Let’s never forget the plight of all these courageous people, including the intrepid Cubans who built and set out on this little raft, above.

Let’s endeavor to help them, each as we can, in our own way (a note to South Africans and their pressed Zimbabwean neighbors!).

Finally, let’s honor them with a little quote from Ishmael in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick:

“Earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore… better is it to perish in that howling infinite, than be ingloriously dashed upon the lee, even if that were safety!”

My italics.

It’s good to be posting again, readers… more to come from Vermont and Lohas 12.


Why you should take a hike every afternoon

May 28, 2008

A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time up in Vermont over the summer. I would get up early, working until about 3 or 4pm, then I would hit the woods for a run or a bike.

I followed this routine for about 10 weeks and after a while I began to notice a clear pattern in my thinking: nine times out of 10, about 45 minutes into my run/bike, my mind would light up on fire.

What I mean is, during any given day (24-hour cycle), I would do by far my boldest, most imaginative thinking during a 10-15 minute window three quarters of the way into my exercise routine.

I’m not a scientist, or an illustrator (clearly), but if one could measure and graph this effect, it would look something like this:

You get the idea…

Yes, I think Vermont’s clean air/quiet woods help, but the same thing happens here in the city when I run down the river or bike through the Park, albeit with more interruptions.

My assessment: I’ve read the articles. I know exercise is good for the heart, helps maintain a healthy weight and releases chemicals that alleviate stress.

But I’m also 100% certain it kick-starts mojo + imagination, unleashing powerful, gravity-free thinking.

I think it’s important to try and create this mental space every day…

Try it for a week (walk, run, bike, hike, swim) and let me know how it goes.

p.s. I’ll be experimenting with some meditation techniques this summer, to see how that compliments all the exercise activity, and will share any useful findings here.


Why it makes sense to bake “good” into your business

May 27, 2008

Here’s an insightful snippet from Paul Graham, one of the partners at Y Combinator, on the dangers of excluding the good gene from your business:

“When you’re small, you can’t bully customers, so you have to charm them. Whereas when you’re big you can maltreat them at will, and you tend to, because it’s easier than satisfying them.”

The implication is that companies without the good gene baked in end up losing focus and abusing customers.

Instead, Mr. Graham suggests that by wiring benevolence into a company from day 1, a business can get big while staying friendly, customer-focused and successful (like Google, who’s tag is “don’t be evil”).

I think this is a nice idea, and a good one as well.

It also helps address the omni-present indie dilemma: at what point are we selling out? The neat answer is: never, as long as you stay benevolent and keep adding value for customers.

I would add that this works only if “being good” (in some form) is undertaken in a genuine way – in other words, one of 3-4 core values embraced by leadership and infused across the organization in a manner that fosters a healthy, benevolent culture.

I think it’s virtually impossible to reel good back into a business, once it starts slipping away (Starbucks, Jetblue), or to bake it in after the fact (Chase), so the advice here is to get started on baking good into your business, but only if it’s heartfelt.


Entrepreneurship, self-actualization and social responsibility

May 22, 2008

I put up a new About page today to clarify IBC’s purpose and scope. Here it is, in all its gory:

Indie Breakfast Club explores the intersection of entrepreneurship, self-actualization and social responsibility.

Most of us spend 70-80% of our waking hours “working”, so why not make that work productive, fulfilling, useful to others and fun?

In the near term, our goal is pass along one or two on-topic nuggets a day (tips, insight and inspiration) to spark thinking, dialog and action.

Longer term, we hope to extrapolate a useful framework (and maybe some tools) to help people “self-actualize” (reach their potential).

A tall order? Maybe. But we think it’s attainable. Please stick around and participate in the exploration… who knows what’ we’ll discover together?

This is a project of Oliver Sweatman, a keen student of entrepreneurship, self-actualization and social responsibility currently living in New York City.

I also massaged IBC’s tagline (you know how I love to do that). It now reads: “Vitality for creative professionals intent on positive change.”

And now for our viral trailer (actually, it seems to be working as subscriptions to IBC are increasing faster than the price of gas):

*Sign up to receive IBC via email or RSS. If you like what you read, please tell a friend or two about us. Thanks!*


Prince Hamlet on facing the truth and taking action to affect positive change

May 22, 2008

I’m telling you a lot of what this Hamlet fellow had to say is right on the money.

On the role of culture in helping us face the truth/reboot the consciousness (even if it means we must wriggle in discomfort while we take it in):

“I have heard that guilty creatures sitting at the play
Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaimed their malefactions.”

… kind of how I felt after watching Inconvenient Truth and Manufactured Landscapes… we need more media like this and it needs to reach more people.

And here, on sitting on the sidelines vs. taking action to affect positive change (you’ve probably heard this one before):

“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
and by opposing end them…”

Take arms against a sea of troubles, I say!

Related post on IBC: The transformative role of culture


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