The Office

I needed to clear my head so walked down to the beach mid-morning.  Something I can agree with the local vandal, for sure.



The thoughts in my head were reflected in the choppy waves – and both, I think, needed a change of environment to calm down.

 

The FAQ Section

If all those questions are so frequently asked, why aren’t they addressed in the primary communication itself? Why do you need a separate section that is longer than the copy? Does anyone responsible for this “communication” or “website” ever ask the question what’s the FAQ section for?

/rant

Back to…?

It was the “first day back” for everyone in the household today.  Kids started back at school. I started back in the office. We’re all starting the routines we had in days BC (Before Covid).

Almost instantly for me, the amount of wasted time was rattling.

Yes, meeting a scarce few colleagues in person was lovely. Time to read on the train was good. A little break in the afternoon to have lunch, in a nice shady spot overlooking the harbour, in great weather, was definitely welcome.

BUT:

My three hour 2-way commute was exhausting. The preparation for the commute was stressful. The change in energy levels throughout the day was palpable.  Going into the office to get onto video calls seemed pointless.  Productivity was down 50% or more today.

Doing this multiple days a week seems an awful waste of time. I have to ask : Who’s actually gaining anything by this return to BC rituals?  What are we all going back to? Why?

 

 

The seeds have sprouted!

Earlier this week, in Sunday Markets Inspiration, I wrote about the “$100 in earnings by the end of January” challenge to my young friends, who’d never sold a thing in their short lives.

Yesterday, they had achieved 12% of their goal. Today, with just their second customer, they blew past their goal. They were astounded that it was done with 3 days to spare. Even more so that the demand for their remaining wares is far exceeding their wildest expectations. “Can we double that in the next 3 days?” was the refrain today!

Less than a week ago, $100 was an impossible target because they’d never done it before. Today, Michelangelo’s words were, quintessentially, their reflection: The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

Their accomplishment deserved celebration, of course. I had a glass of wine on their behalf because they’re not old enough to drink 🙂

The beautiful thing to me is  that in <5 weeks, they’ve discovered what value creation and exchange means, & how to harness it in their quest for financial freedom. They’ve learnt so many things about business models, cash flows, collaboration, marketing, human psychology, creativity, passion, how to prioritise, the value of reflection, stock markets, investing, trading, etc etc … AND applied every thing they learnt in their fledgling business.

Yes, there’s a long way to go but the seed has sprouted. I couldn’t be prouder of them!

 

 

Friendships at work

I’m grateful that I have colleagues who care enough to notice that I’m not my usual self. A short text this evening from one helped put my mind back at ease. I’m really blessed with the friendships I have at work.

Thanks Rod 🙂

I didn’t know.

Three little words.

A valid excuse.

Or a possibility to grow into.

I didn’t know…

I cared enough to set that right.

And now I know!

PS: this started off because I didn’t know both Joe Biden & Amanda Gorman have a speech impediment. To get up on stage in front of people is hard for most, but to do it when you have a speech impediment, & still nail it, is inspiring.

Sunday Markets Inspiration

I took my young friends & my kids to a Sunday market yesterday.

I had been talking the night before about unit costs & contribution margins in our daily finance basics lessons, & thought rather than merely explain the arithmetic behind it, I could find someone – perhaps someone selling coffee – to show them a practical view of what it all meant. Oh, by the way, they’d also taken up my challenge to earn $100 by selling something, & before the end of January – that is, in less than a week. It’s an unimaginable number when you don’t know how to do it.

It was a ridiculously hot summer’s day. The mercury had already hit 38C by 930 am when we got there. We walked around a fair bit, observing the enterprising folks at the markets selling their wares. People have time to talk at these markets, not merely nod at each other. Conversations can go in wonderful directions but that’s a story for another day.

We stopped at a pop-up cane juice shop. There were three young people

busy working, one at the counter, the other churning out cane juice,  while the third was doing everything else necessary. We placed our order, & while we waited, we got talking. It turned out to be an illuminating conversation: this was their side hustle, a way to keep their creative juices – pun intended – flowing.  They were both professionals, having “good day jobs” and investing their time building their business over the weekend. When they found out the reason we were asking them all those questions, they were genuinely interested: they gave my young friends some great ideas, urging them to try their hand out at doing something entrepreneurial well before they found their “day jobs”. When we got to their home, by the time the parents had done cooking lunch, the kids had estimated the “unit costs” & “contribution margins” of the juice venture pretty quickly.

Before the day’s end, my young friends had listed a few of their wares on Facebook Marketplace – “we have almost fixed costs, & very low variable costs, so we can definitely earn our target, maybe even more!!” Their excitement is palpable.  Whether they reach their $100 goal before the end of January doesn’t matter. That they can see how this might work, that they can use their wits to create & offer value matters an incredible lot.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, even at a Sunday market.

Oh, & the lime infused cane juice was heavenly!

Thoughts from RStudio::Global(2021)

I attended RStudio’s annual conference: RStudio::Global(2021) yesterday. Driven online by the pandemic, it was a fabulous day – even if a very long one – to listen to some fantastic keynotes, long & short long talks, & virtual conversations in between.

I have heaps of thoughts about this conference I will write about in due course but there’s  one thing that continues to stand out most for me: the warmth & inclusive nature of the R community. Whether it’s on the Twitterverse, the R User Groups around the world, or in meetups that are hosted by people passionate about sharing their knowledge and improving their own, the R community very certainly has a strong leadership in RStudio & its team. Particularly, there were more women in this code/tech community, whether presenting or attending, than in any other I have seen (admittedly, I’m not a technologist so I could be wrong),  more people from diverse backgrounds that presented their talks in a language they were comfortable even in this global setting. The subtitling feature in Spanish, Mandarin & English made those talks also accessible to everyone.

The team at RStudio did a fantastic job of curating this: pre-recorded talks that didn’t go over time, technology that almost never went awry, and scheduling the talks to run in 2 cycles so literally anyone around the globe could dial in.  There were opportunities to connect using a virtual chat room between the scheduled talks, just like you would in a F2F conference (is that a thing?) I heard someone mention that last year’s conference drew 2000 people, and this year, doing it entirely online drew over 10000+. Great job indeed.

 

A Young Poet

As soon as I rolled out of bed this morning, I found a notification about a poetry recital. I’ve never been one inclined towards poetry, but 2020 has made me aware of its power.

The notification was about 22 year youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman’s recital of her “The Hill We Climb” poem this morning at Joe Biden’s inauguration. Listening to her made my hair stand on end.  She is the youngest poet laureate ever invited to a White House Inauguration. The clarity of the message from this young woman, among so many other things, was inspiring.

I shared it immediately with my daughter & the two young women I have been helping, over the last month or so, to consider how to tackle their own looming adult futures. I don’t know if they listened to it with the same admiration I did, but I hope they listened to the power of her words, the beauty of her inspiring vision, “for there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. if only we’re brave enough to become it.

Mohammed Qahtani, Toastmasters World Champion of 2015, concluded his winning speech with “Words have power, words are power, words could be your power. You can change a life, inspire your nation and make up this world a beautiful place. Isn’t that what we all want it?”

Listening to Ms. Gorman recite this stirring, powerful, inspiring poem, at a point in time when not just the US, but the world needed it, was an honor and a privilege.

The full text:

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.

We braved the belly of the beast.

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.

And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.

Somehow we do it.

Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.

We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.

And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.

We are striving to forge our union with purpose.

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.

And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.

We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.

We seek harm to none and harmony for all.

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.

That even as we grieved, we grew.

That even as we hurt, we hoped.

That even as we tired, we tried.

That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.

Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.

If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.

It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.

It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.

This is the era of just redemption.

We feared at its inception.

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.

But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.

We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.

Our blunders become their burdens.

But one thing is certain.

If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.

We will rise from the golden hills of the West.

We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.

We will rise from the sun-baked South.

We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.

And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.

When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.

The new dawn balloons as we free it.

For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it.