The parental space race

It's not a graduation
Firstly let me say I was one proud parent the other day when my daughter was presented with the Principal’s Prize at her Year Seven “Graduation” ceremony. I never won any awards at school, and she’s gone and done it at the first opportunity. However, sitting through the 150 minute assembly the other got the mind whirring. As I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, it was not just the length of time that got to me, it was the word “graduation” (deliberately put in quotation marks) that got under my skin, and the creeping ‘over the top’ Americanisation that rankled.

This was not a graduation. These children are 12 and 13 years old, they are not graduates. They are moving from primary to secondary school. They are not leaving with any diplomas, certificates or degrees. They have only just completed their first year of the Australian curriculum. In five years’ time they won’t ‘graduate’ from high school either. You can only graduate from university. While at uni, you are under graduates. After that, assuming you pass through your degree you are graduands.

Before you ‘bar humbug’ me for being unseasonably cold and Scrooge-like, please consider where and when did this ‘graduation’ word come in. Where did the tradition of a ‘graduation’ dinner and dance that evening begin for that matter? And while I’m asking these questions, may I also ask when did lolly bags come in as a birthday party tradition? I believe all these questions are linked and have the same root cause.

I doubt many of you reading this had lolly bags at your parties when you were growing up. Back in the 1970s, the deal was you organised a simple little party, invited your 10 or so of your closest friends. They each brought pressies, your parents put on bob the apple, pass the parcel and lashes of jelly, orange squash and birthday cake. A great time was had by all. But sometime during the 1980s and 1990s I’m guessing, while I was in my pre-kids 20s and early 30s, giving lolly bags to those attending your child’s party entered and became the expectation. This was slowly followed by the lengthening and engrandisement of the parties themselves (with bouncy castles, hired clowns and balloon animal people, hiring fun rooms and the like). I doubt the kids these days have any more fun than we did. But the bar kept getting lifted.

Allied to this shift, the ‘leavers’ assembly (itself a borrowed item from secondary school) came into primary school. At one of my first board meetings at the local primary school four years ago, I remember listening to empassioned debate that parents wanted better acknowledgement of the year 6 leavers (who were off to private school) as the school only really tipped their hat to the year 7s (which up to this year has been the final year at primary school). Last year the year 6 leavers had their own party funded and organised by parents. This year, with both years 6 and 7 going off to high school together, an immense beast had been organised which involved two graduation ceremonies, with leaver’s shirts, signing ceremonies, throwing hats in the air, etc, American style. Teams of parents now run fund raisers throughout the year to pay for the graduation night (it’s NOT a graduation!).

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it. There was a tear in my eye. My little girl had grown up fast, had been taller than her mother now for over a year, and was already a sensible, dependable, conscientious person, admired by her peers and teachers. The school and staff had done a fine job. The effort put in by parents and community was amazing. That’s fine.

But somewhere behind the scenes, over the decades there has been a growing, ‘space race’ like “my kids’ will be bigger than your kids'” competition among parents seeking to outdo each other. However well intentioned, the lolly bag incursion won the day and became the norm, birthday parties have become bigger than Ben Hur (from aged 1 – the kid has no idea!) and the leavers assembly became a graduation ceremony of 2 and a half hours duration, along with graduation night dinners, dresses, make up and presents. Are we forgetting what this is supposed to be for? The kids right? Or is it more about how good the parents look?


Perth, two degrees of separation


As I drove off I noticed the paper tucked under the windscreen wiper. A note, never a good sign, I thought. Either someone wanted to give me a piece of their mind (why have you parked here?!) or they were a friend who recognized my car (Hi Charlie, fancy seeing you in these parts).

It was neither. At the red light I jumped out and took the note from the screen and gave it a quick scan. “I scratched your car while parking” it began. Oh cripes, I had not noticed. “Very sorry, please call me, etc etc”. I deciphered the surname, the same one as one of the players in my son’s cricket team. I googled the name, and found his LinkedIn page. I rang him. He was very apologetic. “I can’t imagine how it happened, I am very sorry, I’ll pay for it.” He said. It’s only a car, a small scratch, thanks for being so honest, I said.

And yes, his cousin’s son is in my son’s team.

Typical Perth, I thought. A random stranger bumps into you and you are connected by only two levels of separation. In fact, take any networking function and choose anyone in the room – you will know someone they know. It’s something I love about living here. 2 million people, but with a small town feel.


Nothing beats real passion


Some passionate speakers

Clockwise from top left: Andrew Forrest, me with Dan Gregory, Chris Baudia, and David Lock, Richard Poulson and George Kailis.

At this time of year many of us are invited to a multitude of events, be they business breakfasts, lunches, sundowners or full scale conferences. This week I’ve attended all formats, and next week looks to be no different.

In what was a high quality week, I was privileged to hear Fortescue Metals Group Chair and one of Australia’s billionaires Andrew Forrest speak passionately about his work with indigenous groups, particularly in implementing systems that provide real training and guaranteed jobs. “The way out of the cycle of drugs and alcohol is through a real paying job“, he implored. Facing 460 packed into the Hyatt, you could have heard a pin drop, it was electric. This was no ‘show for the cameras’, you could tell through the crackle in his voice, the fact he needed no notes, through the stories he told, the obvious deep connection he has with the community, that this came from the heart. Powerful stuff.

A day earlier I’d been at the CPA Congress and was one of the speakers. I had the ‘graveyard shift’ just after lunch on the last day. Timed to go on after me was Dan Gregory, he of Gruen Transfer fame. As we spoke for a while in the presenter’s room beforehand, I learned he had been a stand up comedian for a few years, so that explained his quick wit. Bounding onto stage at 3pm on the last afternoon of a 4-day accountants conference, he made the audience instantly come alive with his infectious enthusiasm, snappy one liners and sharp, strong and simple slides. Images, not words. Bright yellow background. Designed to be catchy, clear and be exactly what slides should be – a visual aid, not a crutch for the performer. A seasoned professional Dan.

During the week I heard corporate adviser and Westpac Chair John Langoulant speak to a breakfast audience, Chris Baudia CEO of local startup GeoMoby speak of his journey to a tech audience and then a panel of successful business leaders speak to an exclusive club of 40 under 40 winners at KPMG at lunchtime. I can tell you there was not one dud speaker all week, but each had their own style. George Kailis was superb at the lunchtime function, becoming so impassioned at one stage that his pen shot out of his hand and across the stage.

It’s important I think to be able to talk in public, especially if you want to be a business leader. I had 13 years as a school teacher, so learned my craft at the chalkface. Fail, and you were eaten alive. It felt that way anyway. Probably a bit like stand up. I had some shockers I can tell you.

For those who aspire to hone their craft, go to as many networking events as you can. You can learn so much from the skilled practitioner. Passion is often the key communication tool. It’s hard to fake, and makes that emotional connection with the audience that is nearly always lacking in someone reading a script, or relying on powerpoint bullet points. As I’ve said before, tell stories. They are great conveyors of meaning.


What did you learn today?

Today we learned

About 15 years ago, I remember watching a real bad Bruce Willis movie – I mean really bad – The Story of Us, don’t watch it, it’s dreadful . But it had one saving grace. The family depicted always sat down for an evening meal together, and every night the Dad (Willis) made his kids tell everyone one thing they learned at school that day. Just one thing that they didn’t know yesterday.

Watching this (before I had kids of my own) a nerve struck me about this as an idea. ‘How was school today?‘ gets the normal grunt and “OK‘” from the teens. Making them come up with something they actually learned today to the evening dinner table does not allow them to get away with a throw away line. They have to explain something they learned today that they didn’t know yesterday. Try it, kids love it.

Not only does this keep the conversation going around the dinner table, it sends an important signal to your children – as their parents you are interested in their education, and they can explain something that maybe even their parents did not know. On all sorts of levels, this is fabulous.

When our kids began school, we started doing this every night. It works a treat. We’ve been at it for years now. It’s automatic. They are now clamouring to the be the first one to tell us something they learned today. We take an active, real interest in our kids’ education, and we learn something ourselves. The signal this gives off is very powerful.

I was a teacher for 13 years, and now I’ve been a parent of 13 years. I can say that the whole education system can be boiled down into one strong premise: it’s not the fancy school you send your kids to, it’s the fact that education works as a triangle: the school is one corner of that triangle, the child is the other, and a supportive home life/parents is the other. All have to work together. Each is as important as each other. You cannot default learning (or parenting for that matter) to the school, it’s a triumvirate. If one (or two) corners are weak, education is weakened. One element cannot do all the heavy lifting – it’s a team game.

The simple act of asking your kids what they learned today closes the loop perfectly.

Don’t just take my word for it. This is steeped in educational research. In fact, a new online service has been developed in Perth that looks to promote just this – an app that updates parents in 60 seconds about what their kids learned today – simply called ‘Today We Learned‘, it won the RAC Seed Spark accelerator top prize of $25,000 (as the best new tech idea in WA) and the team are currently being mentored and are looking to commercialise the idea.

So, why not ask your kids what they learned today at school? This simple act, done regularly over many years, could be the single most important thing you do to improve your childrens’ educational outcomes.


Stones keep rollin on


Stones in full flight last Wednesday night


The famous logo shining out from Perth Arena

I have been fortunate (twice) to see the best rock and roll band that ever strutted the planet, the Rolling Stones, in concert.

The first time, 16th July 1990, at Cardiff Arms Park, was possible only because the band had to cancel a few Wembley gigs due to Keith Richards’s injured hand, meaning they threw on the Cardiff gigs. I happened to be back in the UK and jumped at the chance.


Jagger strutting as Jagger does

The second time, last Weds, only happened because their initial date in March was postponed due to the sudden death of Mick Jagger’s partner.

I had tickets but had sold them to a friend as the date clashed with something I could not get out of. The rescheduling allowed me to see them for a second time last week.

No more Bill Wyman, but they did bring on Mick Taylor (at 65, the youngest of them, although he did not look it, having been their guitarist before Wood from the death of Brian Jones in 1969 up to 1974). Some say Taylor was the best guitarist to have ever played with them. Judging by this performance, his effortless blues riffs were incredible, and a stand out of the night.


Keif slow-mo’g a chord


Charlie purse lipped


Ronnie being Ronnie

Considering they were fantastic 24 years ago (when they were each in their mid to late 40s), I was not expecting too much this time around, now they are in the 70’s.

But Jagger stole the show, as always, with his trademark walk-skip as he moved around the stage, running around the elongated tongue extension stage all night.

Richards sort of played in slow motion, emphasising each chord, like a modern day blacksmith.

Ronnie Wood, too cool for school with a trademark ciggie perpetually struck out to one side rebel style, slung his axe to the side making faces at the crowd.

Charlie Watts, pursed lips, thwacked away with minimal of flourish, and maximum effect. Being a drummer, I watched Watts closely.

But you couldn’t keep your eyes off Jagger. A consummate showman.

He was off for 2 songs (note to all: Keith Richards, bless his little cotton socks, is one of the worst singers you will ever pay to listen to), but when Jagger came back on, the show soared again.

How 70 year olds can be so nimble, so cool, so professional… it was inspiring stuff.

If I have half their agility at their age, I’ll be more than happy.

Roll on.


Just get out there


I’ve just concluded an annual series of eBusiness lectures I’ve been presenting at UWA Business School for the MBA program since 2005. ‘Getting away from the day job‘ to concentrate on the more academic side of ebusiness has always allowed me to think through what I am doing, as well as try to present some practical advice to the students taking the course. As a former teacher, I still enjoy the dynamic of the classroom.

The best bits are inviting local ebusiness leaders into the class to tell their stories. This year, they represented small and large ebusinesses, private and public, old and new. There were some gems of advice from these fellow practitioners, and the class really appreciated their insights.

The Chetty brothers, Craig and Jeremy, made for popular presenters – their infectious enthusiasm for their Student Edge business (now in its 11th year) was plain to see. “Just get out there, if you have an idea” implored CEO Craig, “you have nothing to lose.

Sam Birmingham (he of Startup weekend, Pollenizer, PhDo and CoderDojo) said of startups looking to pitch “most of them should be pitching to clients, not investors“, making the point that by just getting out there, you learn from your early customers, and don’t have to bet the bank (or other peoples’ money) to do so. In fact, you may not need investors til later, if at all. This gets around the current funding problem that seems to exist among the Perth startup community. It also echoes Amir Bhide’s Bootstrap Financing paper of the early 1990s (by far the best thing I ever read on my MBA) about just getting out there, because only by being out there will you be able to take advantage of the opportunities that exist (which you would have no idea of knowing were out there til you get out there!).

Becky Lee, of startup Virtualiis, and Chris Baudia, GeoMoby, wowed the class with their innovation. Stephen Langsford of Quickflix, Graeme Speak of GoPC and Mark Woschnak of rent.com.au, impressed with their perennial good nature and positive attitude, pitted as they are against major competitors with deep pockets. Marcus Tan of HealthEngine, and Claire McGregor (formerly of Agworld), both shared their experience in ebusiness, and everyone was incredibly giving of their time. These people also give back in huge amounts to the startup community in Perth, running events, talking with startups, having various cups of coffee and being the leaders they are.

Let’s watch their futures with interest. All of them have ‘got out there and done it’. The other road was easier, but they all choose the one they’re on. They, and many like them, are an inspiration. Thank you.


Bad bad project management

Bureaucracy gone mad

I’ve been involved in many, many projects over the last 30 years or so, everything from a few days of elegant efficiency to months of dreary dreadfulness. Project management is both an art and a science, and no one has ‘the’ answer… but I can tell you some things you should NOT do. Oh yes almighty.

There’s a wonderful moment in ‘Yes Minister’ (the 1980s British sitcom) where the civil servants and the Minister are discussing a new hospital. It’s working perfectly, says the bureaucrat, all systems go. Yes, but there are no patients yet, replies the Minister. Agh yes, but that’s not the point, retorts the first, hospitals work so beautifully without all those patients.

In other words, the system becomes the thing.

Beware of this when bravely beginning your next project. There is no such thing as perfection. No one knows what is going to happen. No one has all the information. Uncertainty rules. The system is not the point. The customer is.

Beware the manager who is very good at documentation, systems and processes, and scoping. Beware the initial projections of so many months, and so many tens/hundreds of thousands/millions of dollars. Run away, my friends, run while you’ve still got a life left to live and the will to live it.

For I can tell you there is nothing more soul destroying, nothing that can suck the living essence from you, than an intricately articulated, detailed project of many months. The times I’ve been told “our scoping will provide us with what we need to build” or “this will just work out of the box” or “the project will take x months and cost $y”… all lies I tell you. LIES!

Well, it’s not that these project managers are lying deliberately (although I have known some to, knowingly, to cover themselves and allow enough wiggle room for the ultimate failure that is to come). It’s just that the world is too complex, consumers too massively unpredictable, rivals often invisible, and a hundred other factors that will destroy the best laid plans of the project manager.

No, reverse the cycle. Think back from your consumer (hint: they are the one you earn revenue from), keep them close, talk to them, survey them, feed them (literally – bring them in for a chat and a meal), listen to them, and build them something they actually need, and will pay for. Something that would relieve a real pain point. And do it fast.

Jack or Jane be nimble, be quick. Do it in a month or three (no more than 3 months, ever, promise me), get out there and watch the customers use it, hear their feedback, and let the project evolve in the marketplace. Never be too arrogant to think you know what they want or what will work. Bring them in to the process, and get those document-wielding, scope-developing bureaucratic system builders well away from your organisation. They sound good, but that is all they are… noise.

Do this, and you will live to enjoy new projects, and so will your customers, your staff and ultimately your shareholders.


The great, the good and the ordinary

TedxPerth - Ernesto Sirolli in action on the main stage

TedxPerth – Ernesto Sirolli in action on the main stage

Public Speaking is an art form, borne of confidence, passion and clarity of thought. It also takes preparation, and time (experience). I used to hate the notion of being singled out in class, now, 40 years on, I love the chance to speak in public, and try to improve every time. 13 years of school teaching probably helped (if you were not on your game, or ill prepared, you were, rightfully, eaten alive.)

Last week I attended 5 very different events where various people spoke publicly (breakfasts, sundowners, luncheons, and all day conferences), and I also got to be a moderator in a panel, and spent one day delivering 7 hours of lectures. A talkfest! As usual the speakers ranged from the boringly dull, cringingly dreadful to the stunningly inspirational. Some were seasoned professionals, and some were fairly new to it. Some were household names, others I’d never heard of. But all were having a go.

By the far the best was Ernesto Sirolli who spoke at TEDxPerth last Saturday on the subject of sustainable development. He sauntered out onto stage, and standing on the famous circular red carpet, he immediately started telling stories that captured his audience. “How stupid are white people,” he asked, “when we are trying to do good in poor countries?” In one project he tried to bridge a river, only to realise that once it was half built (which took many months) the river itself moved about kilometre every year, making the whole exercise redundant. In another he grew the most lovely Italian tomatoes, only for the hippos to come out and eat them all. “You want to help local people? Shut up and listen!” he implored. He went on to passionately intone about all the good that lay in the Millennials (20-30 year olds), and how they were going to solve the problems of the next 100 years. He walked off to a standing ovation. A similar talk he gave to Tedx in New Zealand garnered 2 million views on Ted.com.

Another Tedx Perth speaker was Sash Milne; she is the Perth Mum who last Christmas decided that she was never going to buy anything new again (bar food and petrol), so revolted she was about the commercialisation of the season, and how much rubbish we end up buying. You could have heard a pin drop, it was a powerful message, explaining how she connected with people, when she abandoned ‘material things’. Her voice crackled with emotion. It was spell-binding. I doubt she’s had much experience in public speaking, but the power, belief and passion came over. It made it even stronger.

I’m not criticising the other people I heard at TEDx or the other events I attended, but these 2 stood out for me. Two very different speakers, both electric, speaking from the heart, taking their message to the audience, and, importantly, communicating clearly with passion and belief.

It’s not that hard is it?!


Maps and me

Abbreviated version of a talk I gave to WA Spatial Excellence Awards 2014 last Thursday. You can view these slides on Slideshare.

I love maps. I reckon I first became aware of mapping when I was 10 years old, in a geography class, and we were using those wonderfully drawn British Ordnance Survey maps.

The geography teacher (wonderful old Mr Law) made the subject come alive. I was fascinated by all the detail on those OS maps, the churches (showing whether it was a spire or a tower), the post box, the gradient lines… even where there was nothing, there was detail.

Today sadly people are, as a rule, map illiterate. A recent US poll revealed that eight out of ten want to bomb Syria. Sadly, a similar number cannot locate Syria on a map.

Laughable if it were not so dangerous. I feel much the same every time there’s another report of a lorry wedged in some old alleyway because its driver used sat nav instead of common sense, or when I read that park rangers in Victoria keep being asked for the postcode of mountain peaks.

Who needs a boring old map and compass when you can just tap in the address for Mount Bogong and follow the screen on your smartphone?

As atlas sales plummet so those getting lost rises. Funny that?! According to Mountain Rescue England and Wales, the total number of call-outs in 2004 was 965. Last year the figure was 1,486 — an increase of 54 per cent.

But the real sadness in all this, quite apart from all those idiots with hypothermia and all those stranded juggernauts, is that millions of young people seem destined to grow up without appreciating the sheer beauty of a decent map. I had that joy, and it has held me in good stead.

I am certainly not denouncing all the joys and seismic progress we owe to digital mapping. I am a digital business guy.

It is telling that when the British car industry was designing the new State Bentley for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2012, the designers asked the Palace what sort of sat-nav device Her Majesty would like installed in her state-of-the-art car.

Back came the reply: none at all. The Queen and Prince Philip, it turns out, prefer an Ordnance Survey map. And, as far as I am aware, the State Bentley has never got lost.

I alighted on these West Australian shores 17 years ago, and after doing an MBA here at UWA changed career course, going from being a school teacher to an internet entrepreneur.

Our idea was to put real estate on maps on the internet. After all, property is all about the 3 Ls as someone used to say… Location, Location, Location. Why couldn’t we see properties for sale or rent on maps on the internet? Well, no one had done it before, so we set out to find out how to do it.

Imagine our delight to find that Perth was a centre of GIS expertise – take an isolated mining town like Perth or Vancouver and there ye shall find GIS technology. We knocked on the door of Prof Julie Delaney here at UWA and asked her is what we wanted to create was possible.

Sure it was, she said and gave us a few GIS consultants to go see. 5 months later we launched aussiehome.com, as far as we know, it was the world’s first interactive map based property site.

We plotted the properties on the map, so people could see where they were, alongside the schools, parks, beaches, shops and transport systems. People buy a lifestyle when they buy a house. They buy into the local community. They want to see what’s around, what the neighbourhood is like. Our initial maps were very rinky dink, but they sort of worked. We deployed 4 types of mapping software, and spent $100ks to get them to work.

Our tag line was “putting your home on the map”, which we thought was quite clever. Although it seemed to confuse some, as did our name, as people used to walk in off the streets looking for home loans.

A few months after launching in 1999 a real estate agent rang us up and told us to hide the address of the properties on the site.

“Which bit about a map-based property web site are you not getting?”

Stony silence.

A few years later none of them really worried about showing the address; the era of open information had set in; giving away more info reduced the tyre kickers anyway. It meant real estate agents could spend time with those that wanted to buy; they’d seen everything on the market already.

And so we built ourselves a nice little online business all due to our distinctive mapping, 7 years before Google Maps came along and gave it away. The software, data sets and consulting fees were significant, but it was a worthy investment. It was our sizzle, and to us, we were proud to be pushing the envelope. And when Google Maps came out in Sept 2006, we leapt on them and made them sing.

We were the first to introduce mapping directions to every property, and as far as I know, the still only site to allow users to map their home open route according your starting route and where and when the open properties were located.

When apps came along, we transferred this to the app environment – an obvious move, as people had these devices with them as they went around looking for properties.

10 years went along and we sold the business to REIWA, and my team and I got to run reiwa.com. I stayed for 3 years before moving to my current role at Business News.

2 weeks ago I notice reiwa.com has relaunched with mapping at its core – even the new logo tips its hat to Google Maps. Their tag line “be WA streetsmart” is all about mapping.

At my current position at Business News, I am looking to how we can use mapping to show off our amazing array of data – how about mapping every business in our Book of Lists (4000 businesses and 14000 executives), mine sites, map stories where relevant, show where the public companies are and quantify the market cap of West Perth? All possible.

Where is mapping going into the future?

Presumably more accuracy, more handiness, more mapping will surround us – corrected sat nav, and I hope beautiful mapping will appeal. People of all nationalities intuitively understand what maps are. Mapping is, you could say, an international language; and apart from great music what else is there that can do that?

There will be business opportunities wherever mapping itself helps solve problems. For what I have discovered about business can be distilled into one sentence: if your customers have a problem that you can solve, then you will create value for them; if you create value then they will pay; and if they pay, you’re in business. (It’s amazing how many businesses forget this simple rule.)

I am sure most of you are doing some really cool stuff, and for that I salute you. Keep going, keep pushing the boundaries. We’re living in exciting times and the best ideas are still to be discovered.

Thank you for this opportunity to address your Gala Dinner; congratulations to all of you that work in the spatial industry, and well done to those walking home with awards tonight.


Scotland the Brave


The signs are that the vote for Scottish independence this week is going to be close. The NO vote (or ‘No thanks’ as the posters politely put it) has been ahead for years, but as the voting day drew close the YES camp crept up, and for a time took a slight lead. I don’t think anyone really knows how it will go.

If Scotland does vote YES for the split from the UK, then the UK will lose about a third of its land mass, but only 8% of its population. It is unlikely the British PM David Cameron would keep his job for long (being the man who lost the Union), and yet (ironically) it would give his ruling party a much better chance of locking in political power for years, as it hardly has any MPs there. Labour would lose 40 seats in Westminster, the Conservatives only 1. Both sides of power have vested interests to keep the status quo. Possibly the worst (yet most likely) result is a close NO. The discontent from north of the border will rumble on for many years to come; nothing really will be settled.

What do I feel? Not much really. I’m British (English) and love Scotland – having honeymooned there 20 years ago and visited many times. My Uncle Jim is from Scotland. A lovely man, he is gentle and considerate, soft spoken and as passionate a Scotsman as ever there lived. A mad keen Scotland (and Chelsea) football fan. It’s a beautiful country. I wish it well, whatever it chooses.

Being an Economist by training though, I cannot reconcile the YES camp’s argument. It has to be more emotional and a ‘feeling’ that you can do better on your own. National pride. Yes I know countries with smaller populations (NZ, Singapore) have done well on their own, but this is a different situation. The economic sense of keeping the pound as the currency, but with monetary policy set by another country south of the border seems madness to me. Interest rates set by Bank of England for its own unique needs while the Scottish government may very well have its own priorities. 7% of Scottish jobs are in financial services (more than the 6% in oil) and many of those jobs will move south. Not independence really, but dependence. Much worse than now. Would they be allowed to join the EU, would they move to the Euro? How could they handle their own Defence? Public services? Economy? The GDP per head is lower than in the UK, they will no longer be drawing the benefits from their slightly richer, larger southern brother. They will have to pay for it themselves.

Staying in the union, Scotland seems to have the best of both worlds. Will it be Scotland the brave, Scotland the foolhardy, or Scotland the self confident?