Jonathan Brun

Why I Support the Extremists.

Today is Blog Action Day, a day when a central group tries to get tens of thousands of blogs to discuss poverty issues. I volunteered, so here is my topic: Why we must support extremists.

By extremists, I do not mean violence, but rather people and organizations who are outside “mainstream” of society. Instead of donating money to WWF, I like to donate to Greenpeace, instead of United Way, I like Amnesty International. Why? Because they represent the sharp end of the spear. 
It takes crazy people to change the world, the sane are too scared. The kooks never say no, they will not quit and they do not listen to reason. To solve poverty in our time, we need people like Muhammad Yunus, Deng Xiaoping, Mahatma Ghandi, and Nelson Mandela. Here’s to the crazy ones:

Published on October 15, 2008

Competence and Confidence

Steve Jobs is the stereotypical executive who predicts greatness for his company. The difference remains that he continuously delivers. His combination of competence and confidence is rarer than most people realize. To have a strong confidence in one’s own abilities is essential to success. Competence in your field is equally essential.

It is of course also necessary to listen and learn from others – something he failed to do the first time at Apple. Without confidence, competence is not worth very much. But with confidence and little competence, your successes will be short lived and fake.

Mystery – of the famous Mystery Method of Picking up Girls – explained he would rather be competent than confident. If you were to ride a motorcycle down a highway, would you prefer to have competence of confidence? He applies the same logic to a structured solicitation of females.

Learning from evolutionary biology and human behaviour, he engineers flawless approaches to any situation (3 guys – one girl, boyfriend – girlfriend, married, shy, hot, with friends…). Through his method, the most insecure guy can slowly become competent enough to get a good looking bird. Logic can triumph, but it can only take you so far.

The management world is awash with gurus, rules, suggestions and trends. All the recent management books (Good to Great, Tipping Point, Freakonomics…) are fantastic. They explain the theories and rules of society, but it is ultimately the person who takes charge who comes out on top. You have to want it, bad.

Here are a couple of Steve’s dramatic (and largely true) predictions:

Babe Ruth knew he was great:

“Perhaps the most famous moment in baseball history, and certainly of Babe’s career, came during Game 3 of the 1932 World Series against the Chicago Cubs. In 5th inning, after he had already hit one homer, Babe came up to bat. He ran the count to two balls and two strikes. Before Cubs pitcher Charlie Root hurled the next pitch, amid the heckling of Cubs fans, Babe pointed to the center field bleachers. Then he slammed what is believed to be the longest home run ever hit out of Wrigley Field, directly above the spot where he had pointed.”

Published on September 11, 2007

Think Different, Think Better

Pooling ideas from multiple disciplines and creating a coherent picture is at the heart of genuine progress. The greatest contributers are often people working outside their apparent expertise – Einstein, Ghandi, MLK, Yunnus, Picasso, and all the ones who never made it through school, Hughes, Gates, Jobs….

Hence the renaming of my blog to “The Beekeeper”, which hopefully expresses my fascination with gathering thoughts from a wide spectrum of the human collective à la Tipping Point, Gun’s Germs and Steel, and Freakonomics. The TED conference (, which gathers luminaries from all fields to share big – nay I say huge – ideas, is one of my favorite sources of information.

However, going against the societal grain often means being wrong for extended periods of time and being ostracized. And the difference between a loon and a genius is simply success as demonstrated here: Here

A favorite childhood bedroom poster of mine stated, “Beaten paths are for beaten men”.

Published on August 12, 2007

Porter Airlines is the Apple inc. of Airlines

I am not easily impressed. In fact, I would say that it takes something truly remarkable to impress me. The new airline, Porter, that currently services Montréal, Toronto and Ottawa has brought back what flying used to be: civilized, courteous, beautiful flight attendants, great food (snacks really), beverages in glasses – not plastic. Essentially, it is first class for the (relative) masses.

The plane itself is a beautiful new Bombardier Q400, which is quite, fast, comfortable and even has that new plane smell. A key feature is that they land in downtown Toronto, as opposed to the ever-delayed Pearson Airport. This allows you to walk out of the airplane and onto Baystreet – on time for your 3 o’clock. The flight attendants even wear hats!

Yet, sitting on an empty plane now, I wonder how much money they are losing. There is certainly a market for this company and their management seems geared towards minimalism and continuous improvement. Long live Porter Airlines!

Published on February 22, 2007