The transient hegemony of coders and my sense of inadequacy

My June column for British Airways Business Life.

Come on coders – hurry up and make your self redundant!
BA Business LifeJune15

On Sea Squirts, White Horses and Excellent Sheep

This is the second part of my interview with Bob Morris in which we discuss creatures that don’t use their brains, creatures that eat their brains and horses which aren’t really horses at all.

Wave Rider Sketch2




Here’s someone riding a white horse (…seen through a telescope).

And here’s where the interview resumes:

Morris: I agree with your suggestion in The Little Book of Big Thinking. that valuable lessons can sometimes be learned from, the most unlikely sources if (HUGE “if”) if we are retain an open mind and are receptive. For example, what can be learned from a sea squirt?

Newton: The life cycle of the sea squirt struck me as an excellent motif for the book. I came across it by complete serendipity, as I usually do when writing, just as I was trying to find a vivid way to illustrate the difference between using your mind to direct your life and using it to drift. I’d been thinking about a phrase a non-executive director at one of my companies often used about “busy fools”. That I think is the life of many of us. But it wasn’t striking.

And then I happened to open a biology book – which isn’t something I often do! – and came across the story of a sea squirt which was a perfect metaphor.

And a sea squirt, for those readers who like me were unaware, is a small tadpole-like creature that swims around the ocean finding things to eat. And one day it attaches itself to a rock or an old piece of coral and it never moves again. And because it will never again move it has no need for a brain. So it consumes it. It eats its own brain. And so, “use it or eat it” became the motif for the introductory chapter of the book.

The rest of the interview can be found here

and part 1 can be found here

“He’s a very naughty boy”

About foregoing the pub  to hear the author of  the book that startups consider their Bible.

BA Business Life May 2105

Flirting with heels

What if you were to take the mechanism of Tinder, the phenomenally successful dating app and use it to enable women to flirt, so to speak, with shoes?

My “Innovation to Watch” in this weeks Financial Times is Stylect.

Read the rest of the piece here


The river or the riverbank?

Here are some thoughts on the great venn diagram of life, the virtues of the riverbank and the river, and the dangers of having your mind expanded by a San Francisco dead head...

It all makes sense really.  Check out my interview with the prolific booker reader, reviewer and interviewer Bob Morris.

Here’s question 1:

Morris: Before discussing The Little Book of Thinking Big, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Newton: Too many to mention but here’s one. I made friends with a guy called Jonathan Marks in Indonesia in 1987 when I was travelling. A year later I was meandering my way back from the Southern hemisphere to the UK and ended up in San Francisco and I looked him up. He was the first person I knew with a Macintosh computer and he was using it run a business trading in live recordings of the Grateful Dead, Tie Die Grateful Dead T-shirts, key rings and other fan stuff. He was doing all this from his home on the corner of Haight and Ashbury.

Nearly thirty years later this still seems like a cool and high tech way to live and to blend passion, technology and work. I stayed with him and his girlfriend for a bit and then, when I caught the Greyhound bus to New York he gave me a copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson and On The Road by Jack Kerouac…Which I read “on the road.” Kind of. I think all this lit a slow burning fuse to be a tech entrepreneur and become a writer.




Handbag de Sea Squirt



Sketch from The Little Book of Thinking Big



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