Recently my friend Eric proposed an idea to his circle of friends in the interest of deepening our knowledge of each other beyond our shared history and current situations of jobs and family. Would we be interested to gather one evening and to trade 10-minute talks about a topic we each find deeply interesting, TED-talk style?
Inspired by Shonda Rhimes’ memoir, Year of Yes, I immediately said “Yes”, even though I felt uncomfortable with the idea. Now that some weeks have passed, though, dread creeps upon me. Because even more frightening than the idea of public speaking is the thought, What if I have nothing interesting to say?
In the world of IT consulting, the group of people that you work with generally change every 6 to 12 months, as a project and/or your role on that project has a finite start and end date. Often when a person’s role on the project ends, there is a roll-off party held for her as she “rolls-off” the project. It’s one small way to recognize and thank that person for their contributions to the project. Several weeks ago, I was invited to a roll-off party for a friend who was also leaving the company. I was excited to see some of my friends and colleagues who, uncharacteristically for IT consulting, I had worked with through many years. It ended up being a somewhat bittersweet reunion with my former colleagues.
There was laughter at the table as they shared another story about another crisis that occurred and how they managed to right the ship. It was the same type of stories we’ve been swapping for years, populated with a cast of the same colleague and client personalities. The issues, while different, are bound in their similarity by occurring in the same or similar complex landscape. Multiple business units coexisting with different business rules. The many different client team members in different functions working in these business units, often with competing interests. Vast amounts of operational data required to enable their business to function. A complex spaghetti of back end technical infrastructure as a result of mergers, history, and business growth. And the multi-year IT program we were part of to implement and integrate their IT systems. It was not unlike being on a Tolkien quest to deliver “the one ring to bind them all”.
Last week was my three-month anniversary with my new company, GrantBook. This is significant since 6 months ago I wasn’t even sure if I’d be returning to the workforce. I was in a limbo land, trying to decide between life as a stay-at-home mom (aka SAHM) and that as a working mom.
For a while in the fall of 2014 I entertained the plan of going into the field of mediation. An information session I attended quickly gave me a dose of reality that it would likely take me 5 years and more schooling for it to become a viable career. Without a background in law, counselling or social services, I would be facing a credibility gap once I finished the mandated mediation training and internship hours. Unless you are able to secure a position with a mediation firm, mediators are essentially self-employed entrepreneurs. I recognize that having a credibility gap would make it difficult to recruit business.
Here are this week’s interesting things I’ve stumbled across: 2015-04-28
“The Internet’s Original Sin”is not pornography, as you might originally conclude. In this article in The Atlantic, one of the early developers of the web outlines how the good intentions of the heady days early days of the internet evolved into our current state of “advertising-supported, ‘free-as-in-beer’ constellation of social networks, services and content that represents so much of present day web industry… Surveillance as the default, if not sole, internet business model.” This is what happens when you refuse to pay money for things, you pay with a loss of your privacy and control of your data. The linked lecture by Maciej Ceglowski in 2014 is also an enlightening, if longer, read. Both should have you at least pondering whether you want to whole-heartedly and blindly continue to support this business model on the web. And whether we want our children to not know a choice.
There is a name for this affliction we have with our smart phones and social media, and it’s been around since 1998- Continuous Partial Attention. This interview with the person who coined the phrase, Linda Stone, had some points that really made me sit up and notice, such as “Kids learn empathy in part through eye contact and gaze. If kids are learning empathy through eye contact, and our eye contact is with devices, they will miss out on empathy.” http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/06/the-art-of-paying-attention/309312/
Then when I read this article The Full-Stack Employee, the juxtaposition of these ideas on how to be hyper-productive in today’s workforce against the previous ones of presence over productivity was amusing, for sure. But it’s still relevant for me to think about as I’ve returned to the workforce, and trying to figure out how to best stay valuable so I can demand concessions to be made on flexibility in my schedule.
Remember back in 2006 when the International Astronomical Union decided that Pluto was no longer classified as a planet? This video gives a good explainer why in less than 5 minutes.
Last weekend was a little crazy, filled with birthday parties, travellers returning home with jet lag, and temperamental water lines to the washing machine. So I skipped a week. Here are this week’s things I’ve stumbled across that have been interesting: 2015-03-01
Bruce Feiler gave this really inspiring TED talk with a cheeky tech title: “Agile Programming—for your family”. But what it really boils down to are his 3 planks for working toward a less-stressed, more collaboratively-managed family dynamic: 1)Adapt all the time; 2)Empower your children; 3)Tell your story. I think it provides another tool/technique to use with the Adlerian philosophy for parenting, which we aim to follow in our household. I highly recommend this 18min watch.
First I’ll set the scene: Imagine a large, open room with low ceilings, and rows upon rows of long tables that are meant to be subdivided into work stations measuring roughly 1.5 meters per person. Except there are typically 3 people now squeezed into every 2 workstations. Imagine that each row is actually two sets of tables back to back, so that you face each other when sitting at your desks. The separator between the person across from you and yourself is a laughable raised divider 30 cm high, with a “jaunty” little shelf for some odds and ends. There is no separator between you and the person to the right or left of you, beyond your own accepted notion of personal space. Continue reading How do you tell someone in your work area they smell?→