This is a wonderful talk. It doesn’t all absolutely fit with me, my beliefs. But the core of what Jim says, the essence of what it is to be part of a human network, that works for me. And I love how real and authentic his delivery is, how ‘him’ it is.
On a 7 day work-explore week in San Francisco this week. Speaking at a great event out here and feeling privilieged and grateful to my team for being able to be here.
What I done did so far:
- Flying this way is weird – previous long haul to India and Thailand has taken me into time zones further ahead than GMT – flying into the past, into sunlight all the way as the British day reached 11.30 pm, was quite head-mashing
- It’s raining and misty here
- Walked to Pinecrest Diner and had a fantastic all-American breakfast – sat at the counter, which was fun
- Then walked up Nob Hill – fucking massively steep in a fun way! – and dropped down into Chinatown, and then looped back to my hotel
- Did some work, some Skype
- Then walked up Mission trying to get Mission District – it got a bit rough and suddenly I felt like a proper tourist twat miles out of his depth
- Ended up around Valencia and near Castro – LOVELY
- Was hoping to hit La Taqueria but didn’t get that far so serendipitously popped into Super Duper Burger for THEBESTBURGEROFMYLIFE. Photo.
- Walked back down Market to my hotel – nice couple of miles all in (on top of whatever this morning’s walk was) – with the calories I’m consuming I’m gonna need every bit of that.
Observations from a naive country boy:
- BRAND USA – at customs they had screens up playing ‘aspirational’ lifestyle videos of cleanly scrubbed people living lives in the great American dreamworld; ambulances and fire engines look like they’ve been designed by toy designers; trucks and vans generally are super designed – this whole country (so far) just feels BRANDED, quite odd and interesting
- Holy shit the roads are steep – would love to drive down some o’ them
- There’s a LOT of homeless people about, much more than I expected – don’t know if this is me unable to filter out a different looking type of homeless person or whether SF actually has a lot of homeless people – wikipedia mention
- The food is dangerously tasty
- AUTOS – what’s up with the size of these cars and vans especially?! Monster trucks! One had ‘Fresh Air’ written on it, lulz. It does raise an interesting question though about USA’s ability to adapt in a changing fuel environment, or at least highlight how exaggerated things have been until now
- Working in a different time zone to your team and clients creates a different kind of productivity – easier, perhaps, to batch tasks and not get sucked into a day of email and meeting zombie-ness
- Money – all those dollar bills is a bit odd for me, plus it all looks the same, must be hard when one is pissed
That’s it so far. Fun, different.
Question (from one of my business partners Pete Burden)
Can you tell me: if you were working in a big corporation or govt. organisation and you had a terrific totally new product that you thought was going to rock the world – a real game changer – not just a another washing powder to add to your already long list of cleaning and household products, which marketing agencies would you trust to help bring that to market in a stunning exciting way?
The guy that created Gu (those chocalate puddings) used Big Fish.
The Christmas and New Year holiday was wonderfully restive and felt everlasting.
But one thing I didn’t do was disconnect from the social web (I usually do on hols – and am well ready to forgo the Twitters and the Facebooks .
In fact, I borrowed the company’s iPad, and found myself spending mindless hours almost every evening after the kids went to bed, just cycling between Facebook, Twitter, my favourite mountain biking forum, my second favourite mountain bike forum and a few bikey ecommerce sites. I found that the iPad is the ultimate sofa device.
These were, I’m afraid, empty hours. 97% pointless. And I slowly became more conscious of how I was rotating between each site, searching for something new and alive to pique my interest.
Coming back to work was always going to be interesting and yesterday I felt totally disorientated. I also felt angry about my cravings to check to see the new on the web, so I started a little tracker.
Here it is so far:
So yesterday morning, as I started the important job of pulling my thoughts and then slides together for the Brighton TEDx in about 3 weeks time, every time I felt the physical urge to go check the internets for something new, I scribbled a tally on a post it.
The black ink is yesterday between 8 am and 11 am, and the red ink this morning between 8.30 am and 10 am.
The research I’ve read seems to vary about how distracting or what the time cost is of each distraction (that is, each distraction indulged in), but it seems to be something between 15 minutes to get back to the same level of concentration upto 45 minutes .
It’s really scary to me – I feel like I’m facing up to a habit that doesn’t serve me, the truth of something that controls me more than I control it.
Especially when I think about how much I want to get this talk right, which has been the sole task of these two morning slots – my most productive in a given working day.
In some small but real way, each scrawl feels like a bullet dodged, a computer virus snaffled, a cigarette or burger not consumed. There’s a superiority that comes with avoidance (little victories!).
But isn’t it addictive, this thing we do? I know the research is out there, but this is me, my attention, my life.
The Four Hour Work Week, and all that other GTD / work/life hacking type stuff.
PS. I know my views on this are a little tradition, someone like the awesome Stowe Boyd might encourage the always-on-ness, and celebrate being an inforvore. I see truth in that too, but still feel the above – the two feel directly opposed, in tension.
I know this is a much broader issue than just in the States. That’s even more saddening