I follow a lot of bloggers based in the USA and reading them share what they are grateful for inspired me to think of my own list.
Richard is my best friend and I am grateful for the opportunity to love such an incredible man.
I am eternally grateful that I come from a large family. We started as 6 but there are now 13 of us and it is wonderful to share in their lives.
The other family that I am grateful for is Richard’s. When you fall in love with your partner not everyone is lucky enough to have the same with their family, I got lucky.
3. Genuine friends
Everyone has “friends” who come in and out of your life. People who claim to be your friend but in reality are just using the word as a manipulative tool – if I am their friend then my reaction to their behaviour should be that of a friend, particularly hard if you are someone’s manager. I am grateful for the friends who keep me sane, make me laugh and heal me when I cry.
4. A happy home
Richard, Rory and I have a pretty good life in our skinny little apartment here in Sydney. I am a particular fan of the wireless cable internet that lets me read my favourite blogs from every room of the house.
I am addicted to books and I have finally started to discover the upside of an eBook reader. I have the Kindle iPad app which I recommend (has the range of Kindle but you can do more than just read books on it, I kick butt at Bejeweled). I even heard myself the other day saying to Richard that I will purchase a book on the Kindle over a real book (I was talking about the new Steve Jobs book, that thing is heavy).
6. Having a job
I may not always like my job but I am grateful for it for two reasons
- it keeps a roof over my head and food in my belly
- I am part of the team that supports charities doing great works through helping provide education and training
I have loved to sing and dance since I was little and wherever possible I love to have music around me. Right now we are sitting listening to The Goat Rodeo Sessions. Today at work I was listening to the soundtrack of the latest Twilight film and Laura Jansen on my phone! Music is a great joy in my life and I hope to be able to learn to play an instrument to be able to create rather than just consume.
8. Pizza night
Recently Richard and I started the tradition of making pizza’s on a Friday night together. Its a really lovely thing for us to do and is definitely a tradition we will share with our children. What makes it more special is that when I was a kid my family got pizza too, what a sweet tradition to keep alive.
Education is one of the most important gifts we can receive in life. That I was able to go to school and continue to study well into my adult life is a gift I am very grateful for. Possibly even more so given that women in education is such a new thing.
No matter what I am always grateful when Friday rolls around. I feel like for the next two days my life is my own again, dictated only by what I want to do (of course I do consider Richard when I make that decision). This weekend my sister is coming to stay. Can’t wait to see her and spend time quietly to myself. Oh and Sunday nights I call my parents, what a great way to spend two days.
Working Smarter, Not Harder
Deconstructing Business Voodoo
I am delighted to introduce to you a new series written by my darling Richard. He and I over the years have had some amazing conversations and I am delighted he agreed to write for us.
With most people in the business world, as you work your way up the corporate ladder there is a phrase that will inevitably come to haunt your dreams – “work smarter, not harder”.
This turn of phrase, beloved by motivation experts and consultants alike originated as a term that identified a lack of procedural optimisation (often in a software platform) and was used as a catchphrase to sell updated technology to wary bosses on the hopes of boosted productivity. And it succeeded in doing so.
In the 80s – 90s the tech boom did indeed hugely increase the productivity of the singular worker. Yet, inevitably the demands and expectations of single worker increase along with the technological boost. With the tech-efficiency boom at an equilibrium, the phrase itself (as many do) has since evolved into a new meaning.
It is now used by much higher management towards lower workers as a euphemism for “it is your responsibility to achieve more without help or extra resources” (and to be fair “work smarter” has a much nicer ring to it).
Often this phrase is portrayed as used by ignorant and/or lazy bosses who are more talk than action. This actually has a hint of truth to it, but in reality the current use of the phrase and the idea behind it is a far more systemic issue that relates to human ignorance and belief.
In any business, it is a simple bit of maths that the greater number of (good) employees you have means higher productivity. However that’s not always an option. Especially in our economic climate, businesses may have to do without the luxury of full (or adequate) staffing.
So for the 1 million dollar question – how do you solve a problem requiring more money without money? The answer is simple.
Yet at the same time, most people would argue that there is a way, even if it is not apparent, and will either run full ball with new policies – implementing “no lights on before it’s dark” to save money, or “more lights on all the time” to garner more attention. Alternatively they may ask others who appear knowledgeable to solve the problem.
This is where the human belief and ignorance comes in, as the fate of any business is what I could consider a chaotic system with too many factors to be able to actually predict any outcome. There are many of these in existence, such as predicting the future, economy or society.
The problem with these systems is that they distort normal human perceptions of cause and effect. You can place an idea into the maelstrom and receive a result wholly independent of your initial input.
An example of this is with the “more lights” policy noted above: A store – ‘Jane’s Hats’ puts in many more lights and thus receives far more customers. Thus Jane is believed very wise and goes on to have a business telling other stores how to gain more customers.
However in truth the success is only because a distant bypass closed and now more customers are funnelling down the street Jane’s Hats is located on. Alternatively Jane may fail simply because the type of people who were diverted on the bypass dislike bright lights. Therefore Jane would wrongly preach that closing bypasses have no effect on business as the two cancel out.
In this context, I would argue the simple definition of “magic” is something that does not obey the rules of cause and effect, similar to these chaotic systems. Therefore people who can successfully manage a business are seen in the same light as those who can wield the essence of magic and mystics.
Of course, these types of people are not new. Fortune-tellers, soothsayers, astrologists, voodoo doctors and shamans all work in the same manner. Thus consultants, efficiency specialists, motivational speakers and social media marketers – jobs created in the last 100 years – are simply the latest iteration of people with the skill of appearing as though they can predict and/or control complex systems.
Yet because of our belief in the modern age of science we fail to see the profession’s mystical roots (because it is masked in statistics and charts), it makes the idea of the mysterious “working smarter” a tangible object that we feel can be conquered and obtained
So in short – the concept of “work harder not smarter” is rooted in modern day mysticism. Like all mysticism, it has occasional tendrils in truth, but is rarely anchored. A policy that may be a robust success today may fail you tomorrow
More likely than not, if you hear it said, it is simply a means to hijack the employee into “working longer, not better” by putting the onus of productivity back on to them. But in the end, that just results in disgruntled employees and minimal company loyalty – a stopgap at best.
So take heed! Although sometimes useful (as mystics have always been), If your consultant’s recommendation to your understaffing issue is anything other than “get more staff” then you may as well throw in an animal sacrifice at your next board meeting to get you that extra chance of success.
A Box Full of Whatchimacallits is guest written by Richard Holz from The Daily Cyborg
I saw this project on Hello, Friend and with only 10 weeks until the end of the year (OMG! that is insane!) I thought I would participate.
The idea is that you write a list of 12 goals to achieve by the end of the year. They should be simple and achievable (since you have to do them by December 31st) but don’t wimp out, they do need to be real goals that you want to achieve otherwise what is the point.
- Make all 11 members of my family handmade Christmas presents
- Book a new years holiday for Richard and I – nothing fancy just the chance to get away together quietly
- Use social media for work and myself
- Get my tattoo. I said after Katherine and Anthony’s wedding and since that just happened its time
- Pay off as much debt as possible
- Start researching and writing the blog post ideas I’ve been compiling
- Go through all the old magazines and pull out articles/pictures I want to keep
- Scan the items from 7
- Give to one charity Christmas campaign per month for the next 3 months
- Learn some more about WordPress and how I can do some fun, different things with my posts
- Exercise five days a week – Pilates, walking, Wii Fit
- Learn to leave work dramas at the door when I get home and not bring them inside
Now to get started on them!
Its further education time in Australia. Year 12 students have finished for the year as they prepare to sit their HSC in a few short weeks. That means that applying for entry into uni’s for 2012 are well underway (in Australia you apply for uni before sitting your final exams, is that how everyone does it?)
I’ve been hankering for a while to get back to study so I have put my hat in the ring for some post-graduate studies through UAC. I’m also looking into other online options. I think working full time its too hard to study on-campus though I will miss the opportunity to make new friends and just the sharing of ideas but I am really keen to see how eLearning can work (especially as that’s one area that I would be interested in heading).
I still intend to participate in random professional development training that I see in management skills, technology and writing but to get my teeth back into education is something pretty special and I am so fortunate to be in a position to do so.
The photo was taken by my parents I believe when they came to visit and see me on my old stomping ground UNSW
In a random aside loving just how empty my bus is during school holidays. No kids being loud or taking up seats with bags bigger than they are (I really don’t remember that from when I was young). They will be back soon but its a nice interlude.
A few months ago I went to a Business Chicks breakfast with Margaret, Richards Mum, and Astrid, his sister. The speaker was the ever amazing Olivia Newton-John. Business Chicks have a lot of fantastic resources for women in business, go check it out.
Anyway Emma, Chief Chick, has a fantastic blog and yesterday she wrote a great piece on intrepreneurs … those people who think outside the box and then work to make things happen.
I think she touched on something important. If you have every seen The Castle (great classic Aussie film) you will remember that dad Daryl talked about “ideas men”. So often those that come up with the ideas are praised over those who work to make it happen. I always thought I was the latter, the can do person who can take the idea guys brilliant idea and make it reality. Reading Emma’s idea about intrepreneurs reminded me that sometimes the one who makes things happen is also in a really strong position to look at how a business can more effectively and efficiently look after their constituents. In fact, the can do people have a fantastic perspective on the business and where it is falling down – often because they are the ones propping it up. Empower them to come up with the ideas and make it happen and watch your business flourish.
This evening a colleague and I attended an event run by the Australian Institute of Management course The Resilient Leader by Kamal Sarma, Rezilium. Kamal had some incredible things to say but here are the things that I am going to “try on for size” in my own career
It is a truth universally acknowledged that people hate change, especially in their workplace. He used the classic examples of the reactions of people to the earth being round, women in the workforce and black/white integration. To start off the person who tries to bring change and their idea are mocked. Ok so they finished mocking you next is when the protesters hit the streets. Those people who violently oppose what you have to say and will defend their position. This is the scary phase and so often it’s the people here that are the hardest to convince to try your idea. Should people ever get over that step, then your idea become accepted as the obvious solution to the problem.
It’s also not about motivating your team to do something! To motivate is to move something/one from point A to point B. Instead it is about inspiring them through your actions and approach to situations.
This is actually a lot harder than I originally thought. Its easy to just take the job from your team “because you can do it better” but what does that teach people, how does that inspire them in their own careers. It doesn’t! Neither does doing things to make them happy. Sometimes you need to say no, and you need to stand by the no. This one could be tricky!