Fantastic Arab and Persian Students are by passing their governments educational establishments to learn

Breakfast Before the MOOC

Article by Thomas L. Friedman

The New York Times

Beginning March 2, Prof. Hossam Haick, will teach the first ever massive open online course, or MOOC, on nanotechnology in Arabic. What’s more interesting, though, he explained to me the other day over breakfast is some of the curious email he’s received from students registering for his MOOC from all over the Arab world. Their questions include: Are you a real person? Are you really an Arab, or are you an Israeli Jew speaking Arabic, pretending to be an Arab? That’s because Haick is an Israeli Arab from Nazareth and will be teaching this course from his home university, the Technion, Israel’s premier science and technology institute, and the place we were having breakfast was Tel Aviv.

His course is entitled Nanotechnology and Nanosensors and is designed for anyone interested in learning about Haick’s specialty: “novel sensing tools that make use of nanotechnology to screen, detect, and monitor various events in either our personal or professional life.” The course includes 10 classes of 3 to 4 short lecture videos — in Arabic and English — and anyone with an Internet connection can tune in and participate for free in the weekly quizzes, forum activities and do a final project.

If you had any doubts about the hunger for education in the Middle East today, Haick’s MOOC will dispel them. So far, there are about 4,800 registrations for the Arabic version, including students from Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and the West Bank. Iranians are signing up for the English version. Because the registration is through the Coursera MOOC website, some registrants initially don’t realize the course is being taught by an Israeli Arab scientist at the Technion, said Haick, and when they do, some professors and students “unregister.” But most others are sticking with it. (MOOC’s have just started to emerge in the Arab world via Coursera, edX, Edraak, Rwaq, SkillAcademy and MenaVersity — some with original content, much still translated.)

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Why Mentoring is such a Powerful Concept

“Fixing and helping create a distance between people, but we cannot serve at a distance. We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected”. –Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen

Helping, Fixing or Serving?

–by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, syndicated from, Apr 16, 2012

Helping, fixing and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul.

Service rests on the premise that the nature of life is sacred, that life is a holy mystery which has an unknown purpose. When we serve, we know that we belong to life and to that purpose. From the perspective of service, we are all connected: All suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy. The impulse to serve emerges naturally and inevitably from this way of seeing.

Serving is different from helping. Helping is not a relationship between equals. A helper may see others as weaker than they are, needier than they are, and people often feel this inequality. The danger in helping is that we may inadvertently take away from people more than we could ever give them; we may diminish their self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity or even wholeness.

When we help, we become aware of our own strength. But when we serve, we don’t serve with our strength; we serve with ourselves, and we draw from all of our experiences. Our limitations serve; our wounds serve; even our darkness can serve. My pain is the source of my compassion; my woundedness is the key to my empathy.

Read the full article here

Helping, Fixing or Serving?

The Secret to Reviving the Arab Spring’s Promise: Property Rights

I found this article which is a wonderful expose on North Africa with so many implications for the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem.


The Secret to Reviving the Arab Spring’s Promise: Property Rights

The protests that toppled governments were fueled by anger over the lack of a basic element in market economies.


Al Qaeda is resurgent in Mali, Algeria and beyond. Violent turmoil and anti-Western hostility are rising in the Middle East and North Africa. Two years after the Arab Spring, it would be easy to become discouraged about what the mass awakening has wrought.

That would be a mistake. Unfortunately for al Qaeda and its allies, much more promising forces are at work, sending positive signals for the West, if only the West will listen.

Research in the region conducted by my organization, the Peruvian-based Institute for Liberty and Democracy, has found strong evidence that the Arab Spring revolution was rooted in a desire for what in the West would be called a market-based economy. Arabs and others may not always use that phrase, but their desire for the economic security that comes with property rights and other rights is a force that the foes of individual freedom will not easily overcome. The challenge is to harness that force by offering people of the region the legal protections and security that are the bedrock of all successful economies.

Read full article here

Expanding the Canvas and Finding the Compass: The Role of Meditation in Decision Making

By RICARDO B LEVY: Technical innovation is often at the heart of an entrepreneurial venture. The leader’s role is to create the right environment to facilitate and foster such innovation. This requires bringing together people of different skills and specializations, ideally individuals more competent than the leader in their areas of expertise, very comfortable pushing the boundaries of the unknown in their particular domain. Their domain risk tolerance is likely to be very high.

What the leader needs to recognize is that the risk tolerance of the expert in his or her area of specialization may not apply to their tolerance of the uncertainties in other aspects of the entrepreneurial venture. For example, a scientist who may be one of the best in the world at creating new photovoltaic materials and be very at ease with the inherent uncertainty of the discovery of new PV compounds may be very un-easy with the challenges of financing or selling. Just think of the un-ease that scientist may feel when confronted with only a six-month cash runway. The role of the leader is to absorb any extraneous uncertainty that may get in the way of the expert team member, freeing that individual to do the best job possible, to do the job unbridled.

Taking responsibility for the full uncertainty of the company is the logical task of the leader in an entrepreneurial organization. After all, the senior executive has the whole company in his or her hands, and is the one person most aware of all the known factors affecting the destiny of the company. That is the nature of the office. But how does a leader cope with such a large burden?

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Growth Acceleration Strategies for Family Businesses: Steering on a Crowded and Slippery Track

By Ali Borhani: The story begins with two friends who went trekking and hiking in British Columbia in Canada. One night and after a long walk, they camped by a beautiful river that had a nice BBQ, watched the stars by the fire and went to sleep. In the morning when they were freshening up and washing their faces, one of them saw a very big and rather aggressive grizzly bear approaching them. While he was screaming and shouting with fear, anticipating the worst, his friend calmly went to the tent, bringing out his boots and lacing them up. The frozen and scared friend was watching the bear with one eye, and with the other observing his friend in bewilderment. He shouted, “Are you out of your mind, the bear is coming and you are lacing up?” to which his friend responded, “ The reality is that the bear will shortly chase both of us as he seems hungry, and we have to run away. I am making sure I do stay ahead of you.” The moral of the story is that the competition is a basic instinct and family businesses are well-advised to “lace up” and develop their growth strategies now…

In which camp have you set up your tent? Are you in the valleys of preservation or on the high-hills of growth? These are two completely different locations to find yourself in. From a growth camp one has a bird’s eye view over all the changes in the geo-economical landscape and will see the grizzlies of competition a long time before they arrive.

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Youth Unemployment in the UK and Graduate Employment

Within Mowgli we are trying to recruit specifically a young person to join the team in Bristol.  Amanda Edwards has led the assignment and we learnt the following:

  1. We received 85 applicants for a single job!.
  2. 84 of these applicants were graduates!.
  3. Overall we found that the CV’s and applications were too heavily focussed on their academic career and personal interests without enough space given to highlighting work experience roles, responsibilities, competencies and transferable skills.  We can understand why they would present their CV in this way if you were intending to work within an academic field, but written this way the CV’s do not give the applicants the best chance when applying for positions in the private, third or most of the public sector.
  4. As an example – one applicant has a 2-page CV, which included a 3-paragraph personal profile (too long!), over half a page on academic achievements, a further half a page on personal interests leaving only enough room for one bullet point under each volunteer or paid work experience. This meant they didn’t have the space to clearly articulate what the role had entailed, what they had achieved, and there were no metrics at all. This was a common theme! Very few candidates quantified their achievements with figures (apart from their academic accomplishments) but many listed out the modules within their degrees, even though the subjects were not at all relevant to the role.

Our purpose in writing this message is to get it to as many people seeking work as possible to enhance their chances of success. Please distribute this link to as many networks as possible. Let us help our youth find employment.

The Hidden Flaws in Strategy

I read so many articles on strategy but very rarely find one that I think significantly adds value to both the discussion but also to all practioners, particularly entrepreneurs !

Enjoy: The Hidden Flaws in Strategy

Taxation Systems

I found this very easy to understand analysis of the taxation, explained through a group buying beer!
Enjoy the reading… !


Suppose that once a week, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:-

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. 

The fifth would pay £1…
The sixth would pay £3…
The seventh would pay £7…
The eighth would pay £12…
The ninth would pay £18…
And the tenth man (the richest) would pay £59…
So, that’s what they decided to do…

The ten men drank in the bar every week and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until, one day, the owner caused them a little problem. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your weekly beer by £20.” Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80. 

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Economic Policy that only pursues growth will always lead to debt

For some time I have been asking myself on the one hand whether constant growth is either sustainable or desirable, or whether we should develop our plans on the basis of debt.

My brother shared with me an interview contained in SPIEGEL with Tomas Sedlacek:-

“Greed is the Beginning of Everything”

Czech economist Tomas Sedlacek discusses morality in the current crisis and why he believes an economic policy that only pursues growth will always lead to debt. Those who don’t know how to handle it, he argues, end up in a medieval debtor’s prison, as the Greeks and others are experiencing today.

For the first time I have read a paper which intuitively I feel highlights my views. I hope you enjoy…!

To view the article in PDF, please click here:- SPIEGEL Interview with Tomas Sedlacek


Revolutionary Investment Strategy

Over the past couple of years, I have continually seen a number company’s state that they need to increase their prices now in order that they are able to fund their investment in providing their services. This is particularly the case by companies who effectively have a monopoly or a significant market share.

Maybe I am “old fashioned”. But I have always been brought up on a “diet” that you reap your rewards from making the investment through one of the following:

• Cost savings achieved
• Increase your customer base
• Benefits to customers that you can enhance your revenues

So what are the consequences of this revolutionary investment strategy?

1. Effectively, the investing company does not have to be creative in developing their product or service offering to achieve enhanced returns.

2. Since their capital investment is already funded by the customers, there is likely to be less due diligence or creativity around ensuring that the capital costs are optimized or managed effectively, for either benefit to the customer or the shareholder!

3. Once the investment has been made there is likely to be less commitment and scrutiny to ensure that the revenues or cost savings are accruing in accordance with the business case, as it simply just too easy.

It is absolutely critical that the regulators ensure that these businesses and operators are not able to operate in this manner! Or am I delusional…?