“If you’re serious, you really understand that it’s important that you laugh as much as possible… Maya Angelou

If you’re serious, you really understand that it’s important that you laugh as much as possible and admit that you’re the funniest person you ever met. You have to laugh. Admit that you’re funny. Otherwise, you die in solemnity.

Maya Angelou

Office Speak: Super Excited

This may be a common term in other cultures, but I’m British and being excited about anything is something that we only attach to major family events. We find it somewhat baffling when we walk into a business meeting and the people in there tell us that they are super excited to be together.

It’s probably a stretch for most Brits to say that they are excited about a birthday, even a major birthday wouldn’t count as super excited.

The birth of a new child counts as excited. I’m not sure what would need to happen for someone to be super excited about a new birth? Perhaps a couple who have struggled to conceive would make it to super excited when a much desired offspring is born.

So what is it about a routine meeting in a grey room with limited air conditioning and a 1000 bullet point PowerPoint presentation that would make someone super excited?

I was recently given a mug that says:

Meetings: The place we discuss all the things which must happen but will never actually happen.

It doesn’t sound very exciting to me.

The various dictionary definitions of excited talk about being emotionally aroused, something I would expect to see in abundance in the people that tell me they are super excited. Emotional arousal is rarely something I see in the business context, perhaps I’m not as empathetic as I think I am, but I think I ought to be able to see super emotional arousal.

All that I can conclude is that this is Office Speak. It’s no longer good enough to say that you are pleased to be in a meeting, or even excited to be in a meeting, the constant ratcheting up of Office Speak means that people now need to be super excited. Ah well, that’s the way it goes, I wonder what will follow; colossally excited, gigantically excited or perhaps we’ll choose a different word to excited, orgasmic?

Off now to be super excited about a cup of tea.

How I made £10 when I was 14 (I think)

There seems to be a rash of news articles at the moment along the lines of:

How I made a gazillion when I was only 16

I never had that experience, but I did have a valuable life affirming experience that involved a £10 note.

In my teens, my daily routine before and after school was to get on my bike and cycle into the town where I lived to a small newsagent just off the market square.

There I would pick up a pile of newspapers which had already been labelled for me by the owner of the shop. The papers would be deposited into a large PVC messenger style bag which carried advertising for the local evening paper and I would head out.

My attire was entirely governed by the weather. Fine weather called for shorts and t-shirts. Rain called for a kagool and waterproof trousers, but no gloves because that slowed you down. Wintry conditions required a move to a thick coat, thick trousers and bikers gloves which, in those days, were long and came half way up your lower arm.

We delivered in all weathers. There was no option to call a parent and ask them to come round with you in their car.

Each of the rounds that we went on had a number, and an informal place in a league table from very good to quite bad. The place in the league being defined by three things – how many papers needed to be delivered, how many awkward deliveries their were, and how good the Christmas tips were. I started on a reasonably good round, eventually moving to a very good round. I can’t remember what number the round was, but think it was 7, it didn’t have too many papers, it was in the town so had few drives to go down and the Christmas tips were supposed to be excellent.

There was another huge advantage to this round, the people were pleasant.

There was one particular row of houses where you delivered the paper through the rear door because there wasn’t good access to the front. The rear gardens were relatively small yards and on most days when the weather was good the people who lived in these houses were in the back yard enjoying the sunshine or hanging out the washing. But even in poor weather they would look out for you and give you a wave as you went by. A smile and a wave goes a long way when you are wet through to your underwear and can’t feel your fingers. I would always return the greeting.

One year, at Christmas, I was delivering to the houses on the row and it was raining. There’s a particular type of rain in the area where I grew up which has travelled across the North Sea from the Baltic and slices through you as you travel through it.  As I reached the end of the row the older couple who lived there open the door for me and handed me an envelope. I thanked them for it and gave them a Christmas card whilst depositing the envelope in to my PVC messenger bag.

It was only when I got how that I open the envelope – it contained £10.

These people weren’t rich, but they were generous and £10 was a very generous tip.

That £10 didn’t make me rich, but it did teach me a very valuable lesson about generosity of heart as well as financial generosity. It wasn’t the £10 that made me remember them, it was their smile and their wave. The £10 was an unexpected bonus.

Office Speak: “Agile with a capital ‘A'” and “agile with a small ‘a'”

We have a way of co-opting words into office speak. The latest for many people in the technology arena is agile.

The word agile means:

able to move quickly and easily.

Something that many organisations aspire to do. They want to move more quickly and without it being so hard to do. In our office speak this has become known as “agile with a small ‘a'”.

This word has then been co-opted by a methodology that was birthed in the software development arena, but is becoming more widely used outside that arena. In our office speak this has become known as “Agile with a capital ‘A'”.

We need to differentiate as we speak so that we know which meaning is being used. It’s easy in written text, but as we speak we have no way of differentiating and sentences can have a very different meaning depending on which is being used:

“My customer wants to be more agile.”

Meaning: customer want to be able to move more quickly and stop taking so long to do anything.

“My customer wants to be more Agile.”

Meaning: customer wants to do a better job of adopting the principle of the Agile Manifesto.

This is where it gets fun, because one of the ways a customer may become more agile is by adopting Agile. Which is easy to understand written down, but when you are speaking you need to say:

one of the ways a customer may become more agile with a small ‘a’  is by adopting Agile with a capital ‘A’.

That’s clear isn’t it?

But it doesn’t stop there. There’s also lean and Lean and sometimes Lean and Agile are used together to help organisations to become more lean and agile 🙂

There’s more, don’t forget about safe and SAFe, waterfall and Waterfall, word and Word, workplace and Workplace, need I go on?

I’m off now to write a few words into a Word document for an organisation that has a nice workplace next to a waterfall about how they may communicate using Workplace as they move away from Waterfall toward Lean and Agile, because they aspire to become more lean and agile 🙂

It was harder than I expected to evict my iPhone from the bedroom

Like many people I have used my iPhone as a alarm for years. I take it up to bed with me, plug it in and leave it to wake me up in the morning, or that’s what I thought.

I’ve read may article on the problems of having your phone in your bedroom but my biases convinced me that I was immune to the problems highlighted.

For those of you who don’t know that a smartphone in your bedroom is a bad idea there are a number of reasons but they primarily come down to the impact that using these devices has on our brains. The smartphone is, for most of us, the portal into the highly addictive world of social media. Social media is constructed to grab and retain our attention, which it does by feeding the brain with exciting things – bright colours, moving objects, attention, etc. Our brain doesn’t just switch off from these stimuli and go into a deep sleep, our brain needs time to wind down from the effects of the high calorie inducement.

There’s also a physiological reason, the smartphone screens give off light that impacts upon our levels of melatonin, a sleep inducing hormone. There are ways of reducing this impact, for some phones that requires an app, on the iPhone it comes with Night Shift mode that reduces the problematic blue light frequencies.

My biases convinced me that as long as I enabled Night Shift mode I was pretty immune to the impact of social media – I was wrong.

Something broke through my biases and I decided to invest in a traditional alarm clock; evicting the iPhone and leaving it downstairs to charge. Sounds simple enough?

Making the change was much harder that I was expecting,  It’s been over two weeks and still, every evening I will at some point reach for my iPhone. I’m not sure what prompts it, but the urge is there. The action was so habitual that I didn’t even know I was grabbing for a social media fix. I’m sure that this automatic response will pass, but it hasn’t yet.

Also, I’m not sure I can claim any great impact on my sleep yet. I wasn’t expecting to be able to get to sleep quicker, because that’s never been a problem. What I was hoping for was better and longer sleep as part of a general improvement in sleep hygiene, but that hasn’t yet materialised. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to switch back to having the iPhone in the bedroom, but it does mean that I need to keep working on it.

We live in a sleep deprived world and I think we need to do more to help people understand its importance. This isn’t just about a feeling of well-being, our poor sleep may by killing us.

QUOTE: “But algorithms can go wrong, even have deeply destructive effects…

“But algorithms can go wrong, even have deeply destructive effects with good intentions. And whereas an airplane that’s designed badly crashes to the earth and everyone sees it, an algorithm designed badly can go on for a long time, silently wreaking havoc.”

Cathy O’Neill

From: