Category: Making/Doing

Reflections

Last year was great in many respects.

Highlights in no order whatsoever were:

  • Going out for a burger and coming back with small, stupid tattoo
  • Doing Tough Mudder with my brother
  • Organising some of the social events for my Crossfit Connect fam
  • A brilliant trip to Denver with Max for the WorldBlu conference, seeing lots of old friends and then hanging out in the Rockies with Alexander and Jon and Max
  • Our younger boy learning to ride a bike :)
  • Going for a bloomin’ cold sea swim in January with Clive
  • Seeing more of my heroes speaking at the bigger and better second instalment of Meaning Conference (for videos, follow the link – there are literally five or six of the speakers who gave my ‘favourite talk of the day’, too hard to pick one, but favourite moment was when James from BrewDog got 300 odd people to open a can of Punk IPA at the same time)
  • The project that we did at NM with the smart, brave people at Orbit
  • Jumping onto the back of the crazy dragon that is Brandwatch, becoming part of something different for the first time in ~11 years, and especially working with our international teams and all of the different culture stuff (inc new food!) that brings
  • Being part of Rebuild 21 for the second time – I love those guys, and got to continue my love affair with Copenhagen
  • Crossfit, generally
  • NYC, generally
  • Instagram, generally

There were some very tough times too. I feel that I got lost in my latter period at NM, I made at least two crap decisions, two key relationships went wrong, and leaving was hard. So there were real lows, and the soul-searching that came with that was heavy.

Looking ahead, I’m looking forward to:

  • Exploring ‘Merica (and a bit more of Berlin and Germany, and wherever else our international expansion takes us)
  • Making a big impact at Brandwatch – I’m settled in, now it’s time to rev things up and enjoy the unbelievable opportunity we have
  • Seeing our kids evolve and change as they explore a new country and cultures
  • Having fun, generally, and staying fit whilst eating all of the things.
  • Doing some neat lil’ projects that haven’t even been conceived yet
  • Might do the NYC half marathon

Excited about 2014.

“Your impact has been delayed”

Big idea landed in my head last week, crystallised in conversation with Ray Richards from Do Something Different.

Having done NixonMcInnes for about ten years, I’ve become accustomed to the reality that we can do very little right now that will impact the company’s performance right now.

In fact, it’s tended to be the case that what we do now, today, shows up as tangible impact six months later. Earliest. Sometimes a year later. Sometimes more.

The truth that I have very limited ability to influence my organisation right now is both scary and hugely freeing.

I love it because I know it is true, from first-hand experience. But I also love it because it lifts the lid and opens things up. I can get on with the now, freed by the belief that whatever comes up over the coming weeks is the harvest of seeds that were sown half a year or more in the past. (It’s all very Buddhist I know. But that’s OK with me too.)

This big simple idea was reinforced by Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, in his commencement speech at the University of Michigan. Dick talks about improv – about reacting to what happens in the moment and making bold, courageous decisions. It’s a nice talk.

He also says something great along the lines of ‘whatever impact you are having right now, you can’t see it yet’.

That’s it.

It relates to something in Systems Thinking about stocks and flow. I cannot immediately deplete a whole forest or immediately replenish a whole sales pipeline. Even with focus these things take time.

Yet in life and in business especially, we’ve gotten used to this addictive little lie that we can have immediate effects on the here and now. That there are linear relationships between inputs and outputs and that doing more of X and Y will lead to a very clear and definable Z.

My experience so far has been that it doesn’t really work like that. These things take time. And some of the consequences and outcomes are mysterious, loosely connected, and arrive sideways.

The thing I want to hold onto is this. Your impact has been delayed. My impact has been delayed. Or that’s what it really feels like. The reality is, it hasn’t – we’ve had an impact, it’s just we can’t see or feel it yet. But it’s coming. It’s coming.

Thank you, TEDx Brighton

Thank you for a great day.

If the job of TED is to spread ideas worth spreading, and the job of TEDx events are to reach further into diverse networks and geographies and expose more talent and reveal more ideas worth spreading, then I think the first TEDx Brighton was very fucking good.

I’ve heard different people say different talks worked for them – the beauty of different tastes and the cross-pollination of new ideas from other worlds – but for me the talks which gave me the most were David Bramwell’s talk on Utopia, Dr Judith Good’s talk on Learning & Technology, George MacKerron’s talk on Mappiness and Sarah Angliss’ talk on music and machines.

There are some thorough overviews written up by participants there on the day:

And some excellent accompanying notes from fellow speakers Antony Mayfield and Sarah Angliss:

Isn’t great how people create such useful content eh, audience and speakers alike?

As a side note, it must be blooming hard to organise successful events.

Personally I never regret handing over good money for a great event and respect the job of organisers – so much prep, so much stress, people grumbling about wifi and coffee, speakers cancelling last minute, equipment suppliers forgetting to deliver the right kit.

So a peak of activity – one shot to get it right. And when it does – BOOOM! A high for everyone.

And then those magic unicorns that are fantastic events with no or a very low cost attached. Crazy cool. I’m thinking of Interesting, The Story. Stuff that good.

For me, TEDx Brighton was up there with these. And that was the first one – the prototype – and inevitably I imagine there will be things to roll into the next one, of which it sounds like there is already talk of…

So I’d like to say thank you – to Tom Bailey the producer and his team of volunteers, to the audience and other speakers, to the sponsors. The whole enchilada, Mother Nature and the UNIVERSE. Thank you.

And for me personally a massive thank you to my team – usually when I do speaking gigs, it’s a very solo experience from inception to delivery and the knackered journey home. There wasn’t a single person in our team who didn’t help with the TEDx talk – I did 3 practice run throughs (!) – yep, it was too important to wing it out without some proper PREPARATION! Loads of moral support and back up. It was cool to feel massively supported.

That event was and will continue to be great for Brighton. Thank you.

Now-ists

Suddenly, probably just to me, it seems like the world is awash with futurists.

Thinkers, futurologists, labs, institutes and ‘tanks.

But the other current ripping under this visible tide is the makers, the do-ers.

Do lectures, inspired by and inspiring people that do. Makers faires and hacker spaces and Etsy. Hexayurt and Global Guerillas. Not so much futurists as right-fucking-Now-ists.

With the world spinning as it is towards a very different way of being I suppose we need both.

But when the revolution comes I know who I’ll want on my side.