Tag Archives: Harvard Business Review Press

Working the high mountain air in Banff, Alberta

Apologies for having been away. I was laboring to finish the manuscript for Culturematic.  And it’s done! God, Tim Sullivan, and the Harvard Business Review Press willing, it will be published March of next year.  Thank you to blog readers for their encourage and comments.

I am in Banff at the moment, at the Banff World Media Festival.  I present in a couple of hours.  Will be talking about how to use the Kauffman continuum to make great popular culture. I dreamed it up for the Rio Content conference in Brazil last year and it played quite well.  

Last night I got back to the hotel around 9, still lots of light in the sky this far north.  I walked out on to the grand patio at the back of the Banff Springs hotel.  There was an older couple already there.  Together, we stared at the sheer glory of the mountains, the water, the forests.  It really is astounding.  

And then we realized we were not alone.  The air was filled with swallows fetching their evening meals.  They were doing that fly-boy thing, whistling at top speed, changing direction in the blink of an eye, flying apparently in all directions at once. 

The three now stood watching the sheer art and athleticism of this performance, when we were buzzed by a swallow who traveling at 100 miles an hour managed to come within 18 inches of our heads.  We grinned with alarm at one another with that look that claimed to say, “that was close!” but really said, “I’m not afraid.”

A voice in the back of my head, “is it safe out here?  I mean, what if one of these guys runs into us.”  And then I thought again.  A swallow has as much trouble avoiding a human on a patio as I do avoiding a winged back chair in the lobby.  A tiny course correction.  Collision avoided.  Ain’t nothing to it.  

Of course the comparison is preposterous. Compared to these feathered fly boys I am quite a lot like a wing back chair in the lobby. Utterly immobile, virtually insensate, and incapable of dynamism of any kind.  And that is the point of these proceedings.  How to be more like swallows and less like winged back chairs.  How to produce culture that is responsive to the new speed and diversity of contemporary culture. How to course-correct in real time and the blink of an eye.  Most of all, I guess, it’s how to find the joy in the proceedings and forgo the self congratulatory stolidity of a winged back chair.

I’ve met some wonderfully agile people over drinks, including a rollicking conversation about popular culture with Mickey Rogers and Ty Funk yesterday and Judy Gladstone and Philip Alberstat last night.  Canadians have a genius for working the interface between culture and commerce.  Of course, I say that without knowing whether the audience is going to like my presentation this morning.  And if they don’t like it, well, the nation totally has a problem with the culture and commerce thing!  (I can do winged back, I really can.)


Thanks to Robert Montgomery and Achilles Media for including me in this event.