Embracing Graffiti

Over the Xmas hols (holidays for short in Aussie slang) I escaped down under to visit family and bask in the very warm sunshine. You can’t visit Melbourne without a trip to Brunswick Street, the Fitzroy neighborhood’s main drag. Brunswick Street is one of the ritziest streets in town and provides a lot of upscale and very hip shopping and eating pleasure.

The tiny alleys and streets feeding into Brunswick were an unexpected surprise. There we found both occupied and abandoned buildings joyfully encased in graffiti. Now I’ve never been much of a fan of wall art. Wall art can often mean that the neighborhood doesn’t have the buying power to renovate the building behind the facade. But here, off Brunswick Street, one of the most expensive places in town, the colorful walls are encouraged and are just captivating.

Fitzroy is not the only neighborhood in Melbourne with extraordinary street art. Renowned for its vibrant contributions to the urban scene, artists have been encouraged to contribute by the city which provides public wall space as future gallery space. Walking maps abound and are a good way to find a corner or two of graffiti to peruse. Serious art lovers can even take a tour or a workshop with local practicing artists.

I loved it all. Preview below. Visit Melbourne if you can.

Crowdfunding in Oz

I was born in Australia and half my heart still remains there. I’m a dual citizen and visit my family there regularly. Of course, as I’ve launched my own crowdfunding platform, Small Change, here in the US, I’ve also been following the progress of crowdfunding in Australia with much interest.

Legislation has been a long time coming. As other markets around the world were taking off the Australian market stagnated while the Federal Government deliberated for more than two years. Finally, in early 2017 the Crowdsourced Funding Act 2017 passed into legislation. This bill, however, only applied to unlisted public companies and there were concerns that this would deny small to medium enterprises access to crowdfunding. This time the Government acted fast and in September the bill was amended to include proprietary companies.

Australia’s Fintech Industry is already growing rapidly. Let’s see what happens next.


Genius and Gender

Liza Mundy gets it right in this fantastic opinion piece. Genius is not gender-specific. Military heroes – be they on the battlefield or behind the scenes – are most often depicted as men. Yet, during World War II, more than half of the American code-breaking force was female. Over 10,000 women flexing their intellectual muscles to keep us safe. The military was visionary enough to give these women, most of whom were excluded from their chosen fields, an opportunity to use their talents. We all benefitted.

Why haven’t we ingrained this lesson? Economists have told us over and over again, there is value in diversity. Science has assured us that ingenuity belongs to all genders. Yet, today we continue to confine leadership and technology to one gender and one race in this country.

As Liza so aptly puts it, “There is a lesson here for the tech bros.” In the noise of technological gain, we’ve lost sight of how to make the most lasting advances. We want innovation, strength and security. To get it, it’s time to acknowledge the presence, power and genius of the women who are making intellectual change each and every day.

What I’m Reading

Reading takes precious time but it’s worth it. Even 15 minutes a day can have you reading 25 books a year. And according to this article it improves your health and well-being. Here are a couple of books I recently took off the shelf:

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness  — Written by the winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics Richard H. Thaler and Harvard Law Professor Cass R. Sunstein, this book was first published in 2008. It was named one of the best books of the year by The Economist and the Financial Times, and is a New York Times Bestseller. Nudge draws on behavioral science research to show that no choice is ever neutral and that using choice architecture may help to nudge us toward better decisions for ourselves, our families, and our society. There’s always room for self-improvement.

Principles: Life and Work  — This #1 New York Times Bestseller was written by Ray Dalio, founder of the investment firm Bridgewater Associates and one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs. Here, Dalio shares the unconventional principles that helped him create unique results in life and business. Known as the “Steve Jobs of Investing” he started his investment company from his 2 bedroom New York apartment at the age of 26. He has been named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time Magazine and one of the 100 Wealthiest according to Forbes. I’m so impressed by people who start small and make it big. This promises to be an interesting read.