Imagine a world covered in ice sheets more than a kilometer thick, with the endless forests and fields between them covering a landscape that today is deep underwater. A dry, flat valley connects the Australia mainland with New Guinea to the northeast, and just 45 miles/72 km of sea rather than some 299 miles/483 km, as it is now separates the continent's northwestern edge from the southeast coast of Asia. Inland, cool greenery covers what will in eons be the stark red Outback desert, and the very heart of the country is pocketed with vast lakes and wetlands surrounded with lush, windswept fields. This was Australia 60,000 years ago, in the time of the first Aborigines.
What brought these first dark-skinned, wiry-haired, bony-limbed humans to the continent is a mystery, but the abundance of food kept waves of humans migrating south. The original settlers first camped along the islands and north coasts near Darwin, then worked their way down the east coast near Sydney over the next 15,000 years. Slowly, tribes moved farther down the continent, finally reaching the south coast near Melbourne about 40,000 years ago, and even Tasmania by around 28,000 BC.
Intuit, a $20 billion global high-tech company born and built in the Silicon Valley, was never able to raise a single dollar of venture capital funding, despite seven years of pitching investors. Hotmail, founded by Sabeer Bhatia, and ultimately bought by Microsoft for $450 million, was not able to raise funding, despite desperate attempts to gain interest from angel groups, seed investors, and venture capital firms, until they had already gained traction with hundreds of thousands of users. On the other side of the coin, five out of ten companies that receive venture capital investment fail within three years. Clearly, something else is at work here, beyond the intrinsic merit of the business idea. If great business ideas do not get funded, what is the answer? You can see the outline of this answer in that familiar quote from the famous British economist John Maynard Keynes, that “business decisions … can only be taken as a result of animal spirits.” What is it that triggers our animal spirits, what moves human emotions? Is it facts? The English novelist E. M. Forster makes a useful observation about the relative value of facts. Here, he says, are the facts: The queen died, and the king died. And here, he says, is the story: The queen died, and the king died of a broken heart. Which phrase touched you just now? Which way of telling gave you a rush of emotion? Humans are motivated, moved, by stories. And notice that the second phrase doesn’t ignore or exclude the facts, it incorporates the facts into a story. And there is your answer: Great business stories get funded.
Explore the historic palaces, churches and glorious gardens of
Soak up the stunning view from the summit of the
Great South Tower of St Vitus Cathedral
Absorb the atmosphere of ancient wisdom at the
Admire the baroque beauty of the
Wander through the peaceful medieval backstreets of the
Weirdly, this can be both the most crowded and the least crowded neighbourhood in the city. While Prague Castle is thronging with tourists, just a few blocks away you can find yourself alone in the cobbled backstreets of Nový Svět.
The castle is the big attraction, of course, but overcrowding can spoil the experience. To avoid the worst of the crowds, try to visit the castle early or late – before 10.30am or after 3.30pm – on a weekday if possible. Remember your ticket is valid for two consecutive days – better two quiet mornings than cramming it all into one crowded day.