The melody of long lasting organizations

Today I came across a fascinating talk by Keith Yamashita on what great visionary leaders and CEO's have in common, how they use their power to envision what does not yet exist, and how they create the culture for their organisations to succeed and endure. Keih worked along side some of the most prominent leaders in the Valley; during the early days at NeXT with Steve Jobs helping to materialize Steve's ideas and Vision, and later alongside Mark Zuckeberg on Facebook. 

It was so interesting to get the perspective of someone that was there as these leaders were making critical decisions that would affect the outcome of an entire industry. Keith has this special demeanor that makes it possible for him to connect with an audience at a personal level making his talk so captivating.

The process leaders use to set-up an organization to deliver a vision always captivated me. I like the idea that the Culture of a company sets the tone from which everything else emerges, creating this self-sustained organism that outlasts its creator. Keith made this brilliant analogy between a melody created by Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker Suite first premièred in 1892, and its later reinterpretation by Duke Ellington in 1960. While the composition technically is different, there is a consistency to the tone of the melody that resonates the same tone as the original composition. "A Strong Character and well-defined essence can remain true even if their expressions change over time" Keith Yamashita 

All of this reminded me of a this really great talk that I listened to about what it means to build a long lasting company, and how setting the right cultural tone can make a huge difference further down the line. Recently I have had the pleasure of seeing this first hand in the organization I work for, the impact of having inspiring leadership in place is remarkable.

It is curious to me that Apple is often given as an example of a company with a very strong culture, however it does seem very much like the company's culture is still reliant on Steve Job's charisma and has not yet been able to move forward despite Tim Cook's efforts. One of the traits of long lasting companies is that the culture that was set by the founders tends to act as an independent organism that sets the environment for the organization to thrive.

I am not entirely sure this is the case for Apple, the fact that Steve Jobs felt the need to leave a product development plan for the next generation of products  lead by a leader that he meticulously chose is not very comforting. In an organization with a strong prevalent culture, the organism should be able to take care of itself. 

Candileer Overlooking Singapore

I can't believe how long it's been since I have added new photos to my portfolio. Last week I took my old Canon 550D for a ride and decided to take one of my favourite lenses of all time, the little plastic all purpose - 50mm canon L Lens

There is something so raw and slick about this lens, its fast, lightweight, but it outputs a real clear and nice image. Half way through my walk I regretted not having brought a wider lens, but it would not have done me much good without a full frame sensor behind it. 

I only managed to take a couple of shots, but had lots of fun with the old Rebel 550D, what a fantastic camera!

The Reunion

Since I have moved to Singapore I have been falling in love with the Asian culture again. Interestingly, while I lived  most of my youth in Asia,  I may have been too young to appreciate the subtleties of life, because this experience has been so much more fulling and rewarding. 

Singaporeans truly understand what living should be all about, and while it is true that they work extremely hard, perhaps even more so than in most European countries, there is also joy, a lot of joy. Locals seem to have this distinct ability to appreciate the small things in life, I see this everywhere around me, from enjoying a simple meal with friends to just appreciating a walk around the beautiful City, whatever they chose to do, they seem to be in the moment making the best of it.

There is also friendship, honesty and family values . In Singapore, people still believe in all of these things, and one can't help it but wonder whether the reason why the city has flourished the way it has is really down to it being a business haven, or that the people that make Singapore what it is created an environment for any seed that is planted to grow and flourish.The more I am exposed to Singaporean culture, the more I believe the later is the true reason why Singapore is so special. 

I was talking with my friend Clarence Lin about what the Chinese New Year, and he sent me this video that explained that the Reunion meant for Singaporeans. There is something so genuine and and moving about this video that I could not resist sharing with you, it truly resonates the way I see Singapore and how magical it is. "kung hei fat choy"! 

Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden park

Very short video of what it felt like living in Didsbury. I had this material to process for ages, it was never meant to become a short visual film, but going though some of the shots, it felt wrong not to share them. Also, as I was going though the source footage with my editor, everything started coming together rather nicely. I feel the end result is a very good representation of how wonderful and magical Didsbury is. 

Blissfull Didsbury from Pedro Sttau on Vimeo.

The Bliss of Didsbury

A year and a half ago, I had the pleasure of living in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in. Didsbury is a pitoresc village/small city part of Lancashire, about 5 miles away from the City Centre of Manchester. There is a blissful harmony that is difficult to explain surrounding Didsbury. It does not have the downsides of a of city, but has everything that modern life has to offer; shops, restaurants, parks, hospitals and schools. 

The entire area is surrounded by nature, giving it a sense of serenity and tranquillity that stretches deep down from the parks to the main road. Of all the wonderful places Didsbury has to offer, the one that probably marked me the most was the Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden park. Natural parks around the UK are renowned for their beauty and how well they are preserved, but this one is something else. 

A perfect balance between Man's craftsmanship and what happens when it is aligned to preserve and protect nature. I will never forget my long walks in the park after work, feeling that cold smooth breeze in my face while looking at a crispy golden sunset in the background.

I really regret not having taken my camera out more often, but I had just moved to the UK and had too much going on. I still managed to get the camera out of the bag in a few afternoons, and below is the result. 

Click to download/view this photo. 

The above shot was taken deep inside the Fletcher Moss, a solitary carving in a tree facing the sun rise, almost as it was carved intentionally in that place, with the initials facing the sun rise, letting the sun smoothly strike the back of the tree during sun-down. The photo is slightly over exposed, but that's exactly how it felt when I was shooting it. 

Click to download/view this photo. 

This shot was taken right at the entrance of the Park, entering from Parrs Wood Road, probably my favourite shot of all of them, not just because it was a gorgeous sunset, but because it was taken instinctively; camera in full manual, almost got the exposure right on the first click, barely thinking about settings, that's how photography is supposed to be, instinctive, raw and visceral! It turned out slightly underexposed, but looking at it, its exactly as it should be.

Click to download/view this photo. 

The location of this next shot is only a few meters away from the lake, a huge field that surrounds the park with tall leafy trees around it. A narrow pedestrian path circumvents this area, leaving a massive area right at the centre of the park with wild, untreated, beautiful vegetation.  

It feel as if Didsbury was not part of Greater Manchester at all, no cars or any sign of the modern World can be heard in this location, the sound of the wind going through the trees, flowers and grass is about the only thing that can be heard here. This photo is straight from the camera, no grading or editing done whatsoever. 

Click to download/view this photo. 

Unfortunately I did not do a very good job in capturing the wonderful atmosphere around this area. It was very autumnal scene with wonderful yellow leafs scattered though the floor, contrasting with the dark green vegetation around the park. A serene bench discretely placed between two trees made this irresistible to shoot. 

Speaking of benches, most of them are actually named on behalf of people who passed away, the names are carved in beautiful metal plates on the benches. I am not entirely sure if this is common practice in the UK or unique to Didsbury, but ever-time I sat in them I could not help it but feel I was in good company. 

Didsbury is truly  remarkable place, and if I ever live in Manchester again, I know exactly where I am going to be living. If you are interested in more shots from the Fletcher Moss Park, check out this post post that I published during my first couple of weeks in Didsbury

For more information about Didsbury, I suggest you visit the "Didsbury Life" site, it is a really great resource for anyone planning to move into Didsbury, it was really useful when we moved in and I still check in on once and again. You should also follow Helen on Twitter, she does an amazing job keeping Didsbury residents updated with community news and events.