Archive for July, 2010

10K run – Heaton Park, 3rd October

July 13th, 2010

In line with my attempts at trying to be more proactive and putting a bit of pressure on myself, I was asked by a friend whether I’d join him in doing a 10K run at Heaton Park on the 1st October.

Initially I put it off – I’m more of the cycling type than the running type. However, I did do a bit of running in India and quite enjoyed it, and setting myself a target would probably be a good thing to do, were I not to immediately give in at the nearest opportunity.

Therefore I’m going to make a public commitment to run this 10K. It would be good to have a few people comment to know that I’ve got people pressuring me into doing this.

I’d also like to listen to suggestions for fundraising.

I’m going to be as open as possible, so will post workouts on the web too. is where I’ve uploaded my cycling workouts in the past, so I hope to be able to provide an RSS feed for people to track my workouts too.

Crazy Stuff.

edit: is where to view my workouts.

Oi, Steve – Where’s my cheese?

July 2nd, 2010


Those of you who have studied Business at any level have probably come across the fantastic little book by Dr. Spencer Johnson, entitled “Who moved my Cheese?” Using the position of Cheese as a metaphor, Dr. Spencer Johnson helps define and explain many different aspects of change management. It’s a great little metaphor, and a book which rather than explaining to the reader what to think, enables the reader to think into the subject independently, with many difference cheeses as prompts.

In my final year at University, we had to do a presentation based assignment and having spent a few hours in the library, one of the guys I was working with had grabbed “Who moved my cheese” and was having a good little laugh with a couple of the other guys. I suggested we use the book as a base for our own presentation, as although the subject matter was very different, the use of cheese as a metaphor has a generic appeal.

We ended up finishing the write-up of the the presentation at around 3am on the morning it was due to be delivered, with our slot at 10.30am. I was very happy with where it was regarding the metaphorical aspect – as in order to fit everything we wanted to say into the ten minute presentation slot, we’d made sure that rather than investigate many of the points deeply, we’d provided enough information in the metaphor for the audience to think about it themselves.

When it came to the actual presentation, it went off really well. However, as we were going along, there was a little too much emphasis on ‘cheese’ and not enough on the topic of our presentation – which was “informed consent”. Sure, it was aimed at the right audience and all the difficult concepts were explained and any psychological jargon was omitted – but it felt as though I may have missed the point a bit, as I could see the marker’s face screwing up – as although she was the most well versed in the room on the subject – we weren’t being as clear as maybe we should have been.

It got to the end of the presentation, and the marker didn’t look best pleased. In fact, I’d say she was pretty bemused that she’d just sat down for a Psychological Presentation and appeared to have been delivered a presentation on cheese. However, her key question wasn’t to us – but to the rest of the room.

“Did anyone ‘get’ that? I’m completely lost.”

It was at this point that I have to thank the girl at the back. Rather than the answer having come from any of the content in the presentation, what we’d manage to achieve was complete engagement with the audience, and the more intelligent in the audience had been switched on by the prompting, rather than lost in the metaphors. She waxed lyrical for about two minutes about the skill and content of our presentation and had interpreted our presentation in ways in which none of us had preempted. However, the marker was very impressed that someone should get such a buzz out of a presentation, and when a couple of other people chipped in with support too the marker looked suitably impressed – we got a 1st for the presentation.

Over the past few weeks I’ve seen a similar strategy adopted by Apple in regards to its marketing. Why say anything of authority when you can let your ‘disciples’ speak for you. If a random iPhone4 user says “Apparently its not even a problem, it’s a myth put around by people who haven’t put the sim card in all the way into the tray, and when they touch it the metal contacts touch the metal tray… no cheap plastic on an iPhone my friend :) It’s not designed for freaks and idiots though.” – then if it’s rude/wrong it won’t affect Apple’s brand negatively – but will help spread more myths and confusion regarding the root cause of the problem – buying Apple plenty of time to fix it.

Here’s a little cheese analogy for you:

Lots of people have been out and bought their Babybel and eaten it without removing the wax. There were no instructions to remove the wax from the Babybel, and those who were not made aware of that fact are deemed stupid. Surely Babybel should have included instructions for how to eat the cheese? Maybe, but for those that have a long relationship with Babybel, removing the wax is second nature.

“Look not at what I have done, but what I have failed to do.”

July 1st, 2010

It’s an interesting phrase; some people are bound to recognise it – other maybe not.

It’s quite easy to get into a habit of making sure you’re in a safe place. Take no risks, turn up and work 9-5 and do ‘fun’ stuff at the weekend. It’s a way of life that many people subscribe to, and becomes more appealing the older one gets – especially when caring for one’s family becomes the number one priority.

Luckily for me, I’m a long way off that. I’ve still got all the freedom and choices ahead of me as regards responsibility. However, living with practically no responsibility has its drawbacks. If I want to go and do something spontaneous, I’ve got little to hold me back; conversely, if I don’t do anything then there’s no one there to spur me on or challenge me.

These last few months have been a bit of a ‘breather’ for me. I’ve been in the normal work-life cycle and am generally happy with my performance. Work hard, play hard would be the most recognisable mantra for the period. It’s got to a stage though where I need to perk up again. Life is all about making sacrifices in order to achieve things, and for the last few months I’ve not had much sacrificing to do.

There would be some kind of point in announcing this as the new beginning and stating my claims as to what I’m going to do – but if it’s one thing that I’ve learnt over the past few years – only talk about achievements in the past tense – talk about them in the future tense and they’re worth nothing. So the announcement is that I’ve started already, and watch this space for future developments.