So it’s that time of the year where I look back and reflect on some of the things that have changed my life in the last 12 months. Unfortunately, with the loss of our baby Sophie so raw its been one that I’ve battled with – do I put pen to paper and talk about things that feel so meaningless and material or do I battle on and do what I’m so determined to do, move on with life positively, while keeping her close to my heart and in my thoughts at all times. I’ve chosen the latter but dedicated the top space to a few special people who’ve helped Lizz and I immensely over the last month.
1). Exeter Labour Ward & Women’s Centre for Health
I know that 90% of what these guys do will be full of joy, working with excited expectant parents but its that other 10% they have to go through that I now have a new found respect for. It can’t be easy for the people doing the scans to tell a mother there is something wrong with their baby, but they do it with such compassion. It can’t be easy for the doctors and nurses to console you and deliver very difficult news, but they do it with such sympathy. It can’t be easy for the midwives who see you through some of the darkest times of your life to do so with such care and tenderness, but they do. This is the amazing way we were treated by Exeter RD&E’s staff from the horrific moment we attended our 20 week scan to the delivery of our baby Sophie a week later, sleeping peacefully. It was incredible and will never be forgotten.
2). My Wife Lizz
Our kids are too young to know what’s happened this last month but the strength my wife has shown is nothing short of incredible. Yes we both have very bad days and sometimes you’ll find us blubbering wrecks but throughout all this pain Lizz has been an absolute rock. I know she is hurting badly but she will get through and bring up our other children in her special way, the way of the most amazing women I know. She’s always changing my life but this year has shown a whole new side and given me even more respect for the her. A phenomenal women in every way.
Now onto a slightly more ’normal’ set of changes.
3). A better understanding of single use plastic
I think a lot of us have Sir A to thank for bringing the horrendous future of a ‘single use plastic world’ to our conciseness but it surprises me it’s taken this long. I too have been oblivious to the destruction it does to our Oceans and planet. This year I’ve made conscious efforts to minimise and where possible get rid of single use plastic from my life entirely. We’re also looking into how we can do this at work and will support any efforts our staff make to help us with this mission. At the beginning of the year I came across https://4ocean.com/ – a great outfit who will remove a pound of trash from the ocean for every bracelet you buy. It might not be much but if we all bought one think of the good it could do.
4). Online Training
I realise that I first wrote about my online courses last year so technically its not a new entry but I’ve been so blown away by the uptake in them over the last 12 months that I felt they deserved a second mention. For those of you who don’t know much about this, I launched a course about how to use LinkedIn effectively back in early 2017. Since then I’ve gone on to launch a basic course on the same subject, one on getting the most from your personal brand and one on the specialist diet for IBS sufferers – FODMAP. I’ve now had over 16,400 students from 162 countries take the courses. This year I’ve seen a big corporate uptake from forward thinking companies looking to up skill their sales and marketing teams. They’ve used the online course, quite often together with some of my time offline, to get their teams operating more effectively and making the most of this fantastic b2b networking site. I expect much more of this in the next 12 months and will undoubtedly be launching more courses, so watch this space.
If there is a topic you’re going to hear me talk about A LOT over the next 12 months its voice. It’s going to change the way we live and do business. It’s going to change my industry and I’m doing a lot of work at the moment to understand that and adapt to the landscape. With voice devices set to double year on year it would be hard to argue against this. We bought our echo dot (we have a daughter called Alexa so that ruled that out!) a little over a year ago and for the first few months it sat on the side as a glorified cooking timer. Don’t get me wrong, it does that job exceptionally but now it’s used for so much more. Recently my kids have reached the age where they can start to ask it questions. Every day, it becomes more integrated in our daily lives without us even realising. It plays the radio, it plays Spotify, it answers our questions, tells us the traffic info and still times my roast chicken to perfection. A little like the boom of social media around 2006-7 this has really excited me and I’m sure will continue to do so over the next few years.
6). Iphone XS
Almost ten years ago I wrote about getting my first iPhone in this blog series (read that here)
10 years on and for their anniversary Apple launched the iPhone 10 which I sidestepped as it was quite a big change from the standard iPhones I’d become used to. Facial recognition, OLED screen and quite a bit bigger. Lots of new tech that I was fearful could go wrong. But when they bought out the XS recently I was straight in there on launch day. That new tech has proved itself and after a short ‘getting used to it’ period it really has changed my use of the phone for the better. The screen is out of this world. It looks a little bit like a really bright kindle. The resolution is insane – its as crisp as a piece of paper. The facial recognition is pretty cool although occasionally a little frustrating. All in all though, much less friction than annoying passcodes (especially as they made them longer recently). I fully understand there is a war going on in the phone market and that many have jumped ship from iPhone to Android in the last couple of years but I’m so impressed by this gadget that I’m one very happy camper and won’t be going anywhere else soon. Apple has had a HUGELY positive affect on my life over the last ten years and I thank them for that.
I’m not a very structured person. I don’t really keep notes or have ways to refer back to things I’ve said. When you’re a manager of people this is a problem. How do you remember the things you’ve asked of someone, more often than not, I didn’t. Until this nifty little tool was found by Thomas who works for us. Its super simple, it allows you to setup your direct reports and then store action points against 1-2-1s with them. These can be emailed to you both at the end of a session and you can easily tick them off as you go along. There is also a section for storing bigger goals (we do quarterly ones) and other notes that you might not want to share with that person directly. So now, every 1-2-1, I log in, remind myself of what we said we’d both achieve and make notes for the follow up. Ideal.
Ever had that scenario where you goto a website and need to login but can’t recall your password? Possibly one of the most frustrating challenges of the modern world! Well No More. Earlier this year a friend introduced me to lastpass which stores all your passwords across multiple websites. We now have a corporate version at Optix and its an absolute game changer. You can share across teams or simply keep your own. You’ll never need to remember another password again!
So there we have it, my round up of 2018. Its always good to reflect back on what’s happened to you over the last 12 months so you can take stock, learn lessons and move forward. Its been an incredibly difficult end to a year which I’ll be glad to see the back of but as my mantra has always been to stay positive where possible I think given the circumstances, as a family we’re not doing so badly. As Seth Godin says, doom is inevitable, gloom is optional. There is a lot of sense in that.
How has your 2018 been? What have you learnt, experienced, found that has positively affected your life? I’d love you to share so we can learn together. I wish you a very, Happy New Year!