Hollywood often portrays pirates as drunken swashbucklers, scurvy-ridden thugs and with perhaps the exception of Jonny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, you might not hold them in very high esteem – a bit like estate agents some might say!
What you might not realise is that pirates were in fact way ahead of their time in being pioneering and principled entrepreneurs, innovative thinkers and excellent marketeers.
The infamous Englishman Edward Teach, otherwise known as Blackbeard, had possibly the most fearsome reputation of all. But it was his understanding of the importance of image and perception, which ensured he was dreaded by anyone who came across him.
At the time, sailors were treated with less respect than convicts, paid very little, and were kept in filthy, cramped living quarters with appalling food rations. Many were forced or duped into that truly horrific life. If they were lucky enough to survive a skirmish, then it was likely they would instead die of typhoid or scurvy.
But Blackbeard was a pioneer who appreciated the value of of looking after your crew. He was an excellent communicator who treated his men (and women) very well – therefore they were willing and loyal. He fed and paid them fairly, sharing the plunder won on a voyage at the end of each trip. The crew knew they would be rewarded at the end and so that incentivised them to continuously work hard.
Blackbeard also understood the value of establishing a strategy borne through years of experience. He rarely wanted to engage in battle as it naturally led to critical loss of men and precious supplies, which would fatally damage his ability to continue his lucrative life at sea. And when you know this, the reason why he developed his dastardly reputation begins to make sense for his enemies would be more likely to surrender than resist.
It’s just these kinds of Blackbeard-esque qualities that mark out the good estate agents from the bad. Good agents have seasoned property sea-legs, are supported by a disciplined and well-trained team, and can predict the storms and battles up ahead. These qualities will help you navigate the unpredictable and often choppy waters of selling your home. Yes, you might pay a bit more commission for that level of service, but it’s more than worth it in return for peace of mind and a stress-free move. That bit extra that you pay a good agent will be offset by the speed and security of your sale actually getting over the exchange line.
Like their pirating predecessor, good agents are changing the traditional way of doing things and cleaning up their act, stamping out the bad old ways and ridding the profession of the wide-boy reputation they’ve had for years. They know that it simply isn’t good enough to just throw a property online, sit back and hope for the best.
Like our pirates who had to stay focussed and motivated throughout their voyage, most high street estate agents are rewarded at the end of the transaction, when their efforts are finally remunerated. Interestingly, many of the online and hybrid agents demand payment at the beginning, so you need to ask yourself, “will they have the same incentive to work hard?”
Many competing smaller pirate crews tried to take on and oust Blackbeard. But unlike him, they underestimated the value of networking and creating allies. If Blackbeard was in trouble, help would come. Similarly, an excellent estate agent has a far reaching network, with access to properties and buyers you might never know are out there. They know their market inside out, will use that knowledge and their networks to get the best outcome for you.
So my message to all estate agents, buyers and sellers out there is: ‘Be More Pirate’!
Whether it's choosing the wrong glass for your wine or abiding by old-school whisky rules, we make mistakes every day when it comes to how we eat and drink.
And buying and making coffee is no exception.
To find out what we're doing wrong when we buy, order, and drink it, Business Insider spoke to Will Corby, head of coffee at Pact Coffee, a London startup that delivers freshly roasted and ground coffee by post.
Corby has been working in the coffee industry for 12 years, has won and judged global barista awards, ran his own coffee shops, and also has experience roasting.
"For the past 12 years, I've specialised in the absolute pinnacle of coffee quality and optimising the process of growing it, shipping it, importing it, brewing it," he said.
He's also been a head judge -- appointed by the Colombian government -- for the Colombian National Quality Competition for the past two years.
Now at Pact Coffee, he works on relationships with coffee founders to "develop practices, and increase quality and production in a sustainable manner," he said.
"We want to show the coffee in the best light we can, brew the coffee in the best possible way, [and] provide it to [people] in a way that makes it easy."
However, he said there's a lot of steps that go into making sure people have a good cup of coffee every day -- and there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you're getting the most out of your java.
1. Not buying it fresh like you would vegetables or bread...
2. ...Then keeping it for longer than a month
3. Not making sure your grind size is consistent
4. Letting it brew for less than 4 minutes...
5. ...And forgetting to decant what you don't drink straight away
6. Using a less-than-clean cafetiere
7. Adding milk and sugar when you don't need it
8. Buying instant for a cheap, easy fix
9. Not knowing how much caffeine you're consuming
Wonbo Woo - Wired.com
Growing up with six brothers, John Collins got really good at folding paper planes.
"Anything you can beat your siblings at is good," he says.
But he didn't just beat his siblings. In 2012, Collins set the world record for the farthest flight by a paper aircraft. Thrown by football player Joe Ayoob, the glider, named “Suzanne,” after Collins' wife, flew 226 feet, 10 inches (69.14 meters) before gracefully making its way into history.
Collins, a former television producer and director, left his TV career behind three years ago in order to focus full-time on using his planes to educate audiences.
He studied origami and aerodynamics and put those skills to use designing spectacular planes that perform tricks. He came up with a design for a boomerang plane, which loops through the air and returns to the launcher. Also notable is his bat plane, which eerily flaps its wings as it glides through the air.
Collins, who's also known as the Paper Airplane Guy, has just published his fourth book about folding paper flyers. He also regularly performs demonstrations for students—from kindergarten to college—using his planes to teach them about science.
"I bring paper airplanes into classrooms and start talking about complicated ideas involved with fluid dynamics and using paper airplanes to explain it," says Collins, who somehow makes terms like "dihedral angle" sound accessible to kids.
"If you can have a group of middle schoolers and high schoolers that don't look at their phones for 45 minutes while you're doing a demonstration, you've hit success," he says.
If you really want to know what goes on behind the scenes at estate agents, who better to interview than the person who trains many of them!
In this frank and direct interview, Boyd Mayover discusses what he sees as the fall down of both high street agents, hybrid and online agents.
What are they good at and where do they need to improve? What is the difference between them all? Who would Boyd instruct?
All these questions and more will be explored in this most insightful interview yet!
The Problem with Rightmove and the Issues to Avoid
On the face of it, selling your house online appears to be a simple and straightforward option. Just choose an agent, fill in a form, have some photographs taken and in a few clicks of the mouse, your home can be shared instantly with the millions of people who use sites like Rightmove, Zoopla and On The Market. How easy is that?
Actually, it’s not that simple and there is another side to this. While millions of users will be alerted when your home is first advertised, how many of those recipients are buyers with genuine potential and how many might just be being a bit nosey? In the UK, we are renowned for our love of property, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that many people surf online sites just to look at the photos for design inspiration, extension ideas, to check out how much the neighbour’s house is on for – and also maybe, just maybe, to buy.
This is the Achilles heel of online portals (and the online/hybrid agents out there who rely heavily on website enquiries). Just who are all these people looking around your home online?
Rightmove and your agent will say that your home is receiving an excellent number of interactions per week and an impressive conversion ratio of brochure downloads. Sounds great and you’re flattered that so many people have taken the time to look at that kitchen which you sourced from Italy. But nobody has any idea who they are. How can the agent then put in a phone call to see if they have any queries, or ask that all important question, would they like to come and view?
In my opinion, less is more when it comes to an online presence. So often do I see agents putting up photographs of every room, creating colourful 3D floorplans and fancy virtual tours. It can look good and get some great figures to feed back to the homeowner. But does it actually deliver results?
Well, no. As every bit of information has been given away upfront, why would someone looking online want to call the agent? Quite simply they don’t, as they mistakenly think they have all the information they need.
The art with online marketing is to put just enough detail out there to tempt genuine buyers to make that call. Put out too much, and they will prejudge that home and walk away, with you none the wiser.
You need to make sure that the key rooms are portrayed well, and leave potential buyers wondering what the rest of the house is like. Then they are more likely to call the agent. This is when they can find out the detail they are after and your agent’s real work begins.
Your appointed agent should have a proactive front of house team, who have seen your home in person, to take these incoming phone calls or walk in enquiries. They can talk knowledgeably and enthusiastically about it and accompany the viewers around, which is an art in itself. Remember, the lifeblood of any sale is the quantity and quality of your viewings. Relying solely on online enquiries and putting too much information out there is a sure-fire way to receive limited enquiries. No enquiries means no viewings, which inevitably means you can’t even begin to have a conversation about offers.
Rightmove and it’s counterparts are undoubtedly effective marketing tools, but they must be used in the right way. They can be your best friend in getting your home in front of millions. However they can also be your worst enemy, as all information placed online forms a ‘digital footprint’. If you spend too long on the open market, this information can be found and buyers start as asking why you haven’t sold yet.
Until a buyer makes an enquiry with your estate agent, they are completely anonymous to everyone involved and you are just a statistic. Rightmove is great, but getting the right balance with your estate agent, the other marketing tools at their disposal and above all, personal contact with buyers, is key to getting your move right.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Imagine that for every million people on Earth, there was a single dot on a map.
In total, that would be about 7,600 dots – representing today’s global population of 7.6 billion.
But, what if we went back in time, and watched those dots accumulate over human history? When and where do the first dots appear, and when does population growth ramp up to get to the billions of people that are alive today?
The history of population growth
Today’s animation comes from theAmerican Museum of Natural History, and it shows over 200,000 years of population growth and the major events along the way.
If you consider yourself on the more impatient side of things, we suggest starting at 1:50 which will zoom you to 400 AD – the time of India’s Golden Age. Alternatively, go to 3:25 to witness the Bubonic Plague’s rare negative impact on population growth, as well as the ensuing age of European exploration.
It took 200,000 years of human history to get to one billion people – and just 200 years to reach seven billion.
That’s partly how the exponential “hockey stick” growth curve works, but it is also a factor of improvements in living standards, sanitation, and medicine that came after the Industrial Revolution.
Key population moments
Here are a few moments that stood out to us in the video, that we think represent particularly interesting moments in human population history:
The impact of farming cannot be emphasized enough. For many thousands of years, the human population dwindled until we learned how to plant crops to provide a scalable and sustainable food supply for a hungry population.
As you can see, after agriculture starts spreading, the human population quickly skyrockets. It is estimated to have reached roughly 170 million by the year 1 AD.
East vs. West
The Greeks and Romans were interesting cultures to us in many ways – but one thing that is sometimes missed with a Western education is the sheer size of Indian and Chinese civilizations.
The above screenshot is from close to the territorial peak of the Roman Empire – notice its size in comparison to the Han Dynasty in China, as well as the area that is modern-day India.
The Black Death, which started in 1347, didn’t do much to increase Europe’s population.
In fact, this was one of the rare times that global human population growth went backwards for multiple decades.
The Industrial Revolution brought innovations to food and medicine, and kickstarted an era that would be usher in the birth of many new technologies.
This screenshot is from close to 1900, when these innovations started to make rapid global population growth a reality.
Chris Snyder - Business Insider
If you look closely at the zipper on your pants right now, odds are that it has 3 letters engraved on the tab: "YKK." Those aren't the initials of the inventor of the zipper — his name was Whitcomb L. Judson, and he patented the first zipper in the late 19th century.
Here's a brief explanation of why "YKK" is there - and a look at one of the largest zipper companies in the world, which you may not have known even existed.
LONDON — Sometimes it pays to be a monarch.
The British Monarchy holds a huge amount of historic property in the UK, which is managed by the Crown Estate.
The Crown Estate announced in June that it returned a record £328.8 million to the Treasury in 2016 as the value of the overall estate rose to an astonishing £13.1 billion.
Under current arrangements, the Queen receives 25% of the Crown Estate's revenues in the form of a Sovereign Grant, which is used to fund her official work and the upkeep of her residences.
Alongside property historically owned by the monarchy, the Queen also personally owns property assets — rather those attached to the office of the monarch — and her holdings include some of the grandest properties in Britain.
Business Insider took a look at the most spectacular royal assets. The list includes some of the country's best-known buildings: Iconic race courses, grand hotels, historic castles, and an offshore energy portfolio worth over £1 billion.
Sylvain Charlebois - Professor in Food Distribution and Policy, Dalhousie University - The Conversation
Fall is always a good time to create new habits, and coffee chains know it.
These days, they are desperately trying to find any excuse to get you to drink their java.
Many chains used National or International Coffee Day, just passed, as a reason to offer their coffee at a discount, or even for free — with some conditions, of course.
For restaurant operators, there’s no better hook than coffee to get repeat business. It’s a great scheme that seems to be working for some. Given what’s looming on the horizon, however, offering free coffee may no longer be an option for businesses.
Coffee demand around the world is shifting. Europe still accounts for almost one third of the coffee consumed worldwide, but China has doubled its consumption in just the last five years.
As for Canada, numbers remain robust as more than 90 per cent of adult Canadians drink coffee. Several recent studies suggest coffee is a healthy choice, possibly one factor in the rise in coffee drinkers.
Either way, demand is strong in most Western countries, which puts more pressure on coffee-producing countries. However, as climate change looms, there’s a real threat to coffee’s global success story.
Coffee grown in more than 60 countries
Coffee is the most traded commodity in the world after oil.
Coffee beans are grown in more than 60 countries and allow 25 million families worldwide to make a living. Brazil is by far the largest producer, followed by Vietnam and Colombia.
Globally, 2017 could be a record year, as the world will likely produce well over 153 million 60-kilogram bags of coffee. Coffee futures are down as a result, but we are far from seeing a bumper crop.
Production has been modestly shifting over the past few years. With good rainfalls in Brazil and favourable weather patterns in other regions of the world, Mother Nature has so far spared coffee growers, but their luck may be running out.
Despite not being a staple in any diet, coffee is big business. At the farm gate, coffee is worth over US$100 billion. In the retail sector, the coffee industry is worth US$10 billion.
But there is growing consensus among experts that climate change will severely affect coffee crops over the next 80 years. By 2100, more than 50 per cent of the land used to grow coffee will no longer be arable.
Ethiopia could be profoundly affected
A combination of effects, resulting from higher temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns, will make the land where coffee is currently grown unsuitable for its production.
According to the National Academy of Science, in Latin America alone, more than 90 per cent of the land used for coffee production could suffer this fate. It’s estimated that Ethiopia, the sixth largest producer in the world, could lose over 60 per cent of its production by 2050. That’s only a generation from now.
As climate conditions become critical, the livelihoods of millions of farmers are at risk and production capacity is jeopardized. Other potential contributors to this predicted downfall are pests and diseases.
With climate change, pest management and disease control are serious issues for farmers who cannot afford to protect their crops. More than 80 per cent of coffee growers are peasant farmers.
Pests and diseases will migrate to regions where temperatures are adequate for survival, and most farmers won’t be ready. Many will simply choose to grow other crops less vulnerable to climate change. Others may attempt to increase their coffee production, but the quality will almost certainly be compromised.
Coffee quality will suffer
Higher temperatures will affect the quality of coffee. Higher-quality coffee is grown in specific regions of the world where the climate allows the beans to ripen at just the right time. Arabica coffee, for example, which represents 75 per cent of world coffee production, is always just a few degrees away from becoming a sub-par product.
This will undoubtedly affect coffee prices and quality for us all. Thanks to the so-called Starbucks Effect, the quality of the coffee we now enjoy is far superior to that of just a decade ago. Good beans may become more difficult to procure in the future.
Right now, coffee futures are valued at US$1.28 per pound and are being exposed to downward pressures. At this rate, the record price of US$3.39 per pound, set in 1977, could return in just a few years.
The coffee wars we are seeing are not just about gaining market shares and getting consumers hooked on java. They are also about how we connect with a crop that is under siege by climate change.
Short of fighting climate change, we could be forced to alter our relationship with coffee. As current coffee-producing countries attempt to develop eco-friendly methods and embrace sustainable practices, Canada could be the next country where coffee is actually grown, not just roasted.
Within the next decade, with climate change and new technologies, perhaps producing coffee beans will be feasible in Canada. After all, if Elon Musk thinks we can start colonizing Mars by 2022, why can’t we grow coffee in Canada?
So if a coffee chain is offering free coffee, take it. It won’t be long before coffee could become a luxury.
Original TED compilation here
Your DNA makes you, but how does it work?
These talks on TED explore what we know about the genome, the unique genetic sequence that makes up life as we know it.