The Expend Digest: Creative Productivity

A round up of what’s been piquing curiosity, prompting questions and provoking debate among the Expend team this week.

In this digest: Silence, please! We're listening to white noise while exploring the difference between plans and plans.

We have a quiet office, with opinion split over whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks of the silence. According to science, extreme silence sharpens your focus leaving you unable to think in the abstract way that is required for solving problems.

Although, those in favour of a bit of noise also have science on their side. With a paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research finding that roughly 70db of ambient noise is just the right level to stimulate creativity and help concentration. No less an authority than Forbes lists it among 7 ways to optimise your office environment for creativity.

Those working in silence but who prefer noise will be consoled by a recent study suggesting that the quiet could increase lifespan. Perhaps as much as chewing quietly would increase the lifespan of those eating near sufferers of misophonia. For the best of both worlds? We recommend trying a decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones and bookmarking A Soft murmur or Coffitivity to bring the (ambient) noise.

In other noise news: heady praise for FinTech from Schroders CEO Peter Harrison! He believes FinTech innovations are currently the ‘single biggest opportunity’ for the Asset Management industry. It seems he has plans for the space. Which is good, because we have plans too!

And lately, due to a very top secret upcoming feature (shhh!), we’ve been thinking about maps. It’s strange to think that we’ll likely be the last generation to know what it is to be lost (on earth, at least). The impressive (and seemingly planned) growth of Google Maps is a central element of this. And while their dominance of the digital map provision does cause concern, covering 99% of the world is an impressive feat indeed.

Some crazy stats related to this:

  • 500,000 downloads (their two-year goal) in 28 hours
  • 7000 people work on it
  • 25 million(!) updates are made daily
  • $10,000 - the cost per mapped 8x8km area before google. Now it costs the pennies it takes to render on your phone.

But these plans, along with just about every plan ever made, pale in comparison to Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son’s 300 year plan! (Which now features driverless cars). We’re not really sure how one keeps track of a 300 year plan. Airtable perhaps? One thing is for sure, at 133 slides and 2hrs 6mins (for the next 30 years only!), the presentation could certainly use trimming.

Speaking of presentations, in the last digest we gave you tips on how to improve yours to increase audience engagement. However no presentation presents itself. Indeed the visual props (such as those regularly used in Softbank's) are often viewed as a crutch that people lean on too heavily for their speaking to shine. Trying hard to stick to a script can rattle the speaker - which in turn increases reliance on the ‘filler’ words that correlate significantly with a negative audience reaction. The solution? Embrace the pause!

Disfluencies begone!

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