Thursday, May 30, 2019

Here is a five point plan for our elected Government from the ramblings of a disaffected cook:


It’s neither Liberal nor Labour, it’s Australian and it’s all about people, our people.
There is nothing new about these 5 points but the pontificators and those with a brain mouth disconnect will rattle on at length not knowing when to stop droning and make it happen.
1. VISION .. To borrow and misinterpret part of a well known proverb - ‘without a vision the people perish’ - is about having something to focus on which in turn provides a road-map for all future action. There can be no considered action unless that road-map is clear and that can only happen if we have a vision.
Australia needs a vision which defines us both to ourselves and the world.
Then, the interpretation of that vision is critical otherwise it becomes rhetoric and feeds the shouty dross.
For example, offer and pay the top 50 graduates each year across all disciplines to transparently work together for Australia for a year in an R&D focus to develop our future where we lead the world. This is a ‘vision’ we can all associate with. Think back to the euphoria when we won the America’s cup and you will agree that a singular focus ‘vision’ is life enhancing.
2. EDUCATION.. There is no future without education. This is a simple fact of life and no matter how people argue to spend money on their favourite agenda, it matters squat because, I repeat, there is no future without education.
Every single person must have access to education from kindergarten right through tertiary without being forced to stop eating to pay for it. This is the educational safety net available to all and does not preclude some choosing to pay for private schools on top of the government educational allowance which everyone gets. All people, all walks of life, all abilities, all disabilities - everyone.
3. LIVING WAGE.. A fantastic emotional two word visionary statement as it embodies a myriad of heartfelt concepts. Concepts which people can hang onto. We are a country which makes sure all people are looked after and no one is left to suffer through stupid poverty. At least that’s the theory.
This is not a hard concept to understand as all it means is that if someone is working say 35 hours a week they must be able to make enough to sustain their family and take responsibility for their health and well being without expecting all Australians to prop up their lifestyle including child care. Not in luxury but with warmth, food, a roof, paid appropriate support services and in the knowledge that they are safe. Good word, safe.
The same goes for the pension in that it must also be a basic living wage as must the dole albeit the dole would require work for support as would the pension in a way in that there are many many capable people itching to add value to our country, somewhere?
We live in a 24/7 world with each hour of each day of equal value without religious overtones demanding some days are more special than others. If some people want to make a day special then it’s up to them as individuals and not for Australia to legislate.
Paying penalties is abhorrent as it fails to look at the real issue which is the living wage and it costs jobs. Lots of jobs.
There are many bright people out there who can deal with this actuarial problem and can come up with a number without the attendant crap.
4. HEALTH .. Same story. The safety net allowing all peoples free access to medical care. Once again, safe. Australia has almost got this one licked unlike some other first world countries.
5. HOUSING .. This is the hardest of all because we have a culture grown up around the 1/4 acre block and we are seen as failures unless we have the McMansion plopped fence to fence. This is rubbish and destructive and forces people onto lonely street plummeting towards the working poor. We all want style and comfort in a place we love. Admirable concepts but it should not be driven by size but by architecture, vision and culture.
It is both right and proper in our capitalist democracy that those who can afford it will opt for the McMansion and they will enjoy life. Good.
It is also right and proper that those on the living wage have access to appropriate mid-level housing with style and aplomb in which they also feel safe. Good.
Thirdly, it our duty and responsibility to provide for those whom have fallen through the cracks and are suffering through a lack of warmth, comfort and inclusion. Safe. There’s that word again.
Words but words which can be turned into action through fantastic architecture building housing in which people can leap towards their personal vision and in which there is a culture of inclusion, warmth and safety. Places good enough that the McMansion people would like to move in.
Quite separately, but whilst remaining inclusive, accommodation for those Australia needs to support and make safe. Not ghetto town or disenfranchised sleeping pods but basic accommodation providing a roof, warmth and safety. Break the cycle of homelessness. I could rattle on about the provision of dedicated support services but really with a vision, access to education, a living wage, a health care net and a ‘retreat’ it will take care of itself.
How about offering the top graduates across architecture, mathematics, humanities, psychology, social science et alia the chance to join a team to develop this concept within 12 months to start building in a year. WOW.
So, how do WE pay for this modern marvel?
Don’t waste money on minutia or the unimportant – not one cent. Create an absolute focus without rhetoric or ego driven drivel. This is not hard but requires a desire to create something special for our country. How about an extra billion dollar investment linked to our totally appropriate future fund to be time allocated and controlled by the likes of Keating, Kennett and Costello. Bipartisan with strength of purpose. As I said, WOW

Saturday, May 25, 2019

This is what our ‘leaders’ should have said but didn’t:

Dear Australians,
There is no doubt that Australia is the greatest country in the world.  We are safe, we are prosperous and we respect all.
But, we are always at a tipping point.   A tipping point exacerbated by the actions of others literally forcing us to hone our inclusive values and to expand our capacity to get better. 
The first hallmark is respect and it is a God given right, it is not something to be earned.  This is Australia.  A land of respect for all.  This does not mean we have to like someone or agree with everything they say but it does mean we try and respect their opinion and themselves.  Without respect we shrink mentally into a cocoon blocking out life and physically by erecting imaginary borders whilst becoming introverted and just a subsection of what we used to be.
The second hallmark is hope.  Hope is not an esoteric nebulous thought ‘others’ seem to have in abundance.  It is something created, onto which all peoples can latch and ride the wave. 
Hope comes in all forms but without it, we perish.  It is embodied in a living wage from which people can move to a new level expanding both mentally and physically, it is knowledge that our country’s safety net will protect us in an emergency and most importantly it is building our nation from the top down.  Putting in nation building strategies which will propel Australia into the future.
This is where politicians come in because it’s our job to ‘light the fire’, to deliver hope that we as a country are leapfrogging the world by putting in place strategies designed to give us that ‘edge’ and from which we can see our future – as a country.
Just two examples of nation building …
We will offer the top 50 graduates across all disciplines and the country each year for 5 years to work together to come up with practical ideas in exchange for all their Hex fees which we can implement to secure our nation’s future.  Maths and science gives us strength whilst art gives us soul.  The brightest people working for our country – wow!
On a more ground level, we will support the Australian development and production of what will be the world’s best taxi and the world’s best Police car.  Thousands of jobs created and the probability of exports all over the world.  This is not a minutia led pipe dream, it is in fact part of the vision we have for our country to lead the world in carefully chosen areas.
That vision is … ‘Australia is about seeking a future based on knowledge and strength of purpose proving respect and enabling palatable hope for all for a planned future in which everyone will ride the wave.’  

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Ms Leigh Sales 7:30 Report response to kitchen nightmares

Ms Leigh Sales
7:30 Report
Good morning,
When we arrived home last night we sought your program on i-view because it addresses what we do for a living and, there are two sides to every coin. 
Firstly, we are not seeking publicity as our little restaurant is busy most of the time.  But, what we are seeking is to deliver another side to the proffered restaurant turmoil replacing the Dickensian workhouse image of steam, fire and sweat eating poor unsuspecting and desperate cooks trying to produce God like food whilst an uncaring overlord is beating them to a pulp with a blunt spoon [with apologies to Alan Rickman as the sheriff in ‘Robin Hood’].
Why bother?  Because, whilst there are sweat shops out there controlled by meglamanic [my word - sorry] uneducated and personally uncomfortable dropkicks, there is actually no need.  But, as long as the sensationalist macho 100 hour sweat box is accepted as the norm, our industry will fail to attract professionals.  Professionals who want to have fun in a constantly challenging environment.
And, it is fun!
Only last week we had a few anniversaries.  I turned 71 as the only overworked cook/dishwasher, our current 16 seat restaurant also turned 16, my other half [Ulla, the lone swan around waitress] and I celebrated 20 years of 24/7 and we popped another cork in honour of our first wedding anniversary.  Add on activities pursued together such as golf [very very average], archery [better], travel [lots] and people [all sorts] and life is a treat.  Indeed, we eat out a lot [we have to, to keep abreast of trends] and enjoy, everything. 
We work around 30 hours a week!
The work is challenging and at times physical [I don’t look a day over 71] but that IS the challenge and one to embrace as the opportunity.  Bending, turning, lifting, thinking, planning, fixing, washing, and even cooking.  On top of that we get to run a business whilst still having time to pontificate at length about personally felt issues.  For example, I spent years downsizing companies globally after they had lost their vision yet I don’t see either of our current Prime Minister hopefuls expound any sort of ‘strategic’ vision for our country.   They deal with minutia because they believe it wins votes whilst as a country we flounder in a sea of conflicting uncertainty.  Where are the vision building strategies? Indeed, where are the strategists?
Anyway, that’s irrelevant to this short note.
Too much fun, but we have now decided to sell our business and allow someone else to realise the opportunities therein.  No, we are not retiring [tried that 16 years ago and it didn’t work] but seek a new challenge wherein we can get excited once again.  Dad was still working as a consulting engineer and was studying anthropology as he turned 93 [right up to when he shuffled off this mortal coil] and I really hope to be able to continue ‘life’ as he did.  Indeed, I see a cranky centenarian post stroke still trying to change the world whilst perhaps studying law.
Restaurants tick all the boxes and yes, we own the bar.
Best regards,
Jon & Ulla Langevad [I could list multiple degrees but at 71 who cares]

Mon Ami Restaurant is fully owned by Langevad Pty Limited and has been awarded ‘French restaurant of the year – Australia 2018’ by Travel & Hospitality Awards [London] and ‘Best Brasserie – Australia 2018’ by the Luxury Travel Guide [London] and 2 hats from Gault & Millau 2018 [Paris] and maintains a greater than 90% review score Australia 2018

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris


I took this picture circa 13 years ago of a Gargoyle on Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.  I just added the red background for obvious and current reasons.
A poignant reminder of futility and history.
The gargoyle has resigned to his fate, 'Oh not again'.

Monday, April 8, 2019

AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL POLITICIANS


Dear children,
No, this salutation is not a light hearted attempt to discredit ‘some’ politicians.  It is indeed a statement alluding to demonstrated behaviour by politicians more akin to 5 year old tantrums or petulant immature teenagers with their behavioural ‘I’m not quite ready for the real world’ issues.  Perfectly natural for those two groups but disgraceful for the people who are supposed to lead our country.
I am writing this as a plea for all politicians to spend less time on personality driven small issues and more time and thought on a vision for Australia because it’s only from an accepted vision that ‘we’ can galvanise to collectively move forward.
I am not a fan of Mr Trump, to say the least, but his keepers came up with a fantastic 4 word vision which ALL people understand and rally behind.  ‘Make America Great Again’ is a great vision only flawed, in this case, by the behaviour of the person spouting it.  Unfortunately these negative behaviours are common amongst all so called supremacists in that they believe they are actually closer to their chosen deity which, in turn, makes ‘respect for all as a God given right’ impossible. 
Pity.
But at least Mr Trump had the nous to start at the top rather than dribble around with minutia - which only leads to more minutia.
I was dragged up as a Liberal voter albeit not with eye’s closed.  Therefore I jumped ship a couple of times when I thought it necessary.  Indeed, I voted for Keating and personally told him so one evening because he was the best Liberal Prime Minister the labour party ever had and he achieved great things financially for Australia which has since saved our collective bacon on a number of occasions.  Perhaps a trifle direct in Parliament for me but very able to rally the troops when needed and he achieved ultimate respect.  Wahoo! 
And, this alludes to the second time when I voted for Hawke. Only for the reason he was able to galvanise the whole country behind him.  When we won the America’s cup he was beside himself and everyone followed.  Great stuff for a leader.  On the other side, I voted for Kennett because he had a vision for Victoria and led us out from the disaster labour left behind.  No question and unarguable.
Now we have a Victorian Premier who pontificates at length about building Victoria’s future by maintaining a few level crossings.  This is NOT visionary, it is minutia thinking!
The great leaders focus on vision and strategy and can see the strategic ‘jigsaw’ put together in their heads whilst the 'pontificators' search the same jigsaw in which to put a tiny piece of blue sky then crow about ‘blue sky’ success which, is unfortunately defined as ‘a state in which real world applications are not apparent’. 
Level crossings are ‘blue sky’ pieces.
We have a lot of minutia led blue sky crowers and very few visionaries.
Jon Langevad  MBA

Monday, March 18, 2019

Boarding houses:


There is a solution to housing stress but it requires a cultural and strategic rethink back to the days when ‘boarding houses’ were common for men and women.  They were not seen as places harbouring social pariahs, dropkicks and, to use a disgusting American expression, ‘trailer trash’.
My father was an engineer with multiple degrees and indeed world patents to his name yet he lived in a boarding house, at Kings Cross no less, whilst in his 20’s in the 20’s.  Then, there were no negative social mores associated with boarding houses.  Rather they were ‘homes’ for people who needed good accommodation with a lifestyle.  They were not last refuges for the dross.
To solve at least some of the issues we have, there needs to be a cultural shift away from owning your own Mc Mansion on lonely street to a community based lifestyle.  This is not for everyone but for those who thrive on the ‘Café’ lifestyle it could indeed be a great way of life.



GENDER Quotas:


I can’t imagine anything more demeaning to women than being treated as so intellectually stupid as to need quotas to gain employment.  The whole concept smacks of bottom up thinking by people with little thought or capacity to understand strategic reality from the top down. You can’t fix cultural issues by nibbling away at single concepts with pontificating crap from loud people with a brain mouth disconnect.
Let’s start at the top by recognising the fantastic differences between the genders.  Running project teams all over the globe I always tried to populate those teams with ½ men and ½ women but NOT based on quotas but based on the job and expertise required to do that job.  The genders think differently and act differently with each bringing their own gender based expertise and bias towards a common solution. Women are women and men are men with each celebrating their gender and biases.  This is a good thing and to be lauded.

Campaign funding:


The labour party are in the enviable position of having both ABC radio and television continually supporting ‘labour’ through hundreds of hours of obvious bias.  This through innuendo, words, pictures and indeed even through somewhat blatant jaw dropping comments.  Just watch the nightly news when so called political reporters offer opinion after opinion without fear of retribution or even accuracy.  This is the ABC’s choice but I believe it must be made clear that the ABC is working for the Labour party and the full cost of those hundreds of hours need to be charged to the labour party.   
The ABC is supposed to be independent funded by ALL Australians to reflect proper unbiased ‘reporting’ and proper ‘discussions’ supported by real ‘well educated and life experienced journalists’ [not reporters] also without bias. 
Perhaps an independent analysis of the last say 6 months would identify bias toward any party and, to be fair, any time spent for one party over any other to be charged at commercial rates.
Everyone has opinions and beliefs which shape their delivery and that’s fine as long as the listener / viewer understands the bias.  I have always been a big fan of bringing back the ‘soapbox’ where people can express ANY view without fear except for perhaps a few rotten tomatoes. Gender sedition – fine!  Celebrate racial differences – ‘fine’!  The next Martian attack – fine!!  Global cooling – fine!  Quotas which treat women as less – fine!  People are smart and can decide for themselves and weed out the crap – even with euphemistic tomatoes. 

“I’ll let you go”:


Ego driven dismissive crap used by powerless people trying to give the impression they are in control. It’s insulting and demeaning.  Don’t use it.  Don’t fall into the dross trap of self importance without substance.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

BANK - BIG 4

This is a story about the culture within a big 4 bank having an all pervasive internal ethos of – ‘right’. 
Thousands of employees believed they were right in everything they did because their chief executive told them so and defended their actions even though they often bent the law.  Indeed, this bank believed it was above the law because it was big and controlled money and they knew that money was everyone’s lifeblood.  It was superior and knew it was superior because everyone was always nice to them.
'You need our money' preached the bank and people queued up to borrow their dream.  After all, this was its job, to enable dreams.  Or so it said.
Their real job was to buy and sell money at a profit - perfectly commendable and natural for any big public company.  Indeed, most of us sell our time for a profit as do all the employees of the big public company / bank.
Unfortunately, some of the employees of the bank were sick the day ethics were handed out and they did things to advance their own career at the expense of reason and often ignored lawful requirements.  After all, it wasn’t their money or dreams and they knew they were right because their senior managers supported them and even encouraged them to act in bad faith.  Why be a nice guy when you can make lots of money by selling the dream then ripping the dream away – for a profit?
One day, one of the more ethically challenged employees decided, without cross checking, that a client had failed to pay a mortgage payment of circa $2,400 on his home months before.  If the employee had checked he would have realised that it was the bank that had made the blunder but fact checking was not in his mindset so he knee jerked into pious action in the absolute knowledge he could do nothing wrong - because he was a part of the bank and was always – right.
He rang the client with the opening statement, ‘We are going to sell your home in 30 days’.  Needless to say the client was somewhat taken aback, confused and indeed scared because the bank had aggressively threatened his dream without cause or reason or even humanity.
Still, this client had a life’s ethos in that it wasn’t the problem that was important it was how you dealt with it.  He knew he was outgunned by the bank that was constantly increasing its feverous attack and sought support from the Ombudsman.  This stopped the drivel and the insane fervour by the bank because the Ombudsman sported a protective umbrella shielding the client whilst they investigated as an independent authority.
That independent authority found the bank was wrong on all counts and awarded damages, compensation et alia to the much relieved client.  However, the issue now was that the client had lost a lot of money, time and opportunities as a direct result of actions by the bank but the Ombudsman was powerless to award anywhere near the quantum of loss.
The client was confused.  Would he accept the determination and accept losses whilst the bank rolled onto their next victim or would or even could he take it further.
At this point he discovered that the employee who had acted illegally threatening to sell his home had been promoted within the bank.   They were content within themselves that they were right and above the law as they had just promoted the dissident with not one syllable of apology to the client for their unlawful acts causing a great deal of stress and loss.
The client was determined to address the issue and pointed out to the bank they were found to have acted unlawfully by the Ombudsman and should compensate him for sustained losses.
The bank always seeing themselves as – right – refused.
So the client took them to VCAT where a higher level of jurisdiction could right some of the wrongs.
Now, the bank was incensed that a lowly client had the temerity to take them on even though they knew the client was the innocent and the somewhat aggrieved party.  After all, they were always right and strutted and pontificated that fact at every chance.  'How dare he!'
As a power play and not so subtle threat to the lone unrepresented client they engaged multiple lawyers, barristers and employees to defend their position in court.  Cost was irrelevant because it was shareholders money and they knew they were always right.
However, this client had done some homework and blocked every legal ‘trick’ the bank threw at him.  The client was not driven by career or personal gain but by mitigating personal loss.  Big difference and somewhat focus inducing.  At that time the bank was respected as a leader with enormous market power which did intimidate the client somewhat and that reality eventually forced a compromise.  How long could he hold out against dozens of lawyers and million dollar bank employees who were always right?   
After 5 years he settled because of a huge power imbalance and the self promoted invulnerability of the bank
That settlement saw the bank lose quite a few thousand dollars to the client but with a full cost to the bank of over a million dollars.  All for a alleged debt of $2,400.  But that’s alright because it’s only shareholders money. 
The client had mitigated some small part of his losses and the bank pontificated on as the all powerful trying to gag any public response by the client.  But now, enter the Royal Commission where Christian Porter – Attorney General said, “The royal commission has noted is that its standing powers enable it, in effect, to override the existence of any non-disclosure agreements.“  The same logically applies to settlements especially where and when there is a huge imbalance of market power forcing outcomes.
The big public company / bank now had nowhere to hide and its culture was for the first time on show for all to see, and it was found wanting.  It turned out that the bank was not superior, not right and that the chief executive had failed to act in good faith by presiding over a ‘toxic’ culture enabling many and various unlawful acts by various ethically challenged employees.  Indeed, in our client’s case the chief executive knew and sanctioned the events leading to a million dollar plus loss of shareholders money.
That revelation cost the jobs of the Chair and chief executive but still left our client in a loss situation.  A loss situation caused by and through a toxic culture supporting unlawful dysfunction.  Note that fault lies with the office as well as the incumbent executive. You can’t just change the executive and expect that all is now well.  The bank must take responsibility as an entity.
So, now our client has a determination by the Royal Commission which says the bank is indeed responsible for their ‘toxic culture’ causing dysfunction and client losses.  The bank is no longer invulnerable with pontificating executives self elevated above the law and past settlements can be revisited especially where bullying or coercion through size dominance was a factor in the signing.
Our client is now able to pursue losses caused by the bank and will.
The bank must decide if it will do the right thing and take responsibility for its actions or just continue on with an air of invincibility throwing and wasting even more shareholders funds at can’t win legal bills.
The story continues.