Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Wise words.  Always nice to see something that love and thought has been put into.

Tech enables lots of amazing things, but retaining a healthy perspective on what's really important is critical.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Bored of blogging?

I'm a huge fan of @gapingvoid

A recent email from Gaping Void included this image, which resonated's me all over.  Ask my Dad. a crazy busy life full of stimulus, physical, emotional and psychological, analogue and digital,  I've become bored with blogging.

Have I stopped thinking? No.

Have I stopped being inspired or challenged by amazing things I see wombling around the internet everyday? No.

Have I got lazy and stopped sharing things? No, I'm still sharing stuff in various forums, public and closed, I'm still aggregating interesting things in various channels - I've recently been joshingly called Yoda and an e-Librarian. I'm choosing to take those as compliments ;-)

I'm just not sure I'm inclined to spend ages writing about it any more.

I've only just logged back into Twitter after months of working in China and it not working.  Did I miss it?  Much less than I thought I would.

Have I developed ADD?  I don't think so, well not any worse than anyone else that works in advertising / media / marketing at any rate.

So is it the proliferation of platforms I have at my finger tips?  Maybe.

I need to play, to experiment, to observe behaviours in new and established platforms to learn, to inspire others, that's a big chunk of what I get paid to do. But personal posting strategy covering multiple platforms, multiple communities, multiple geographies and legalities is undoubtedly a headache.

I've fallen in love with China, I love the friends I made there, but they just can't access lots of things I might usually lean towards readily. Do I want to lose, do I want to continue to share and inspire the buddies I made, yes. Does it make me a better global marketer having a Chinese perspective. Definitely. So Weixin/ WeChat is added to the list of platforms I engage with regularly.

Maybe it's just that digital is growing up. It's still changing and creating amazing opportunities but it's more mainstream for many and so whilst I used to blog about emerging trends and user behaviours in digital / mobile... I'm not excited about doing that any more in the same way I was when I originally started my first blog in 2007. I guess 7 years isn't a bad stint. 7 year itch maybe?

Perhaps it's time to retire the digital treasure trove, consign it to the digital ocean bed and go back to my first true love...adventurous empathy - what makes people tick.  I'm not sure I'm ready to hit delete but I'm "consciously uncoupling" my "must write something" from my guilt agenda and to do list.

Back to juggling multiple identities, professional and personal, across multiple platforms then...Hello Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, Slideshare, YT, Vimeo, Soundcloud, G+, Yammer, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Weixin, Flickr, LinkedIn....etc then.

Friday, 17 January 2014

2014 - galloping into year of the horse

We're two thirds of the way through January already. How did that happen?

Sure, it's good news for those in the west who are trying to have a "dry" January after an excess of Christmas partying and good news for those of us in the east who having skipped the pre-Christmas slowdown we might be used to, are looking forward to the pre Chinese New Year equivalent.

Chinese New Year decorations go up for Year of the Horse.
Year of the Horse is galloping towards us, the decorations are going up around town, the people are emptying out of town noticeably day by day. And we still have nearly 2 weeks to go! 200m people are likely to be on the move around China over the next 2 weeks. Sure, of the 1.3b people here, that's a drop in the ocean but that's not how it feels if you are anywhere on the public transport system.

Christmas holidays for those that had them are already a distant memory, CES has come and gone bringing with it more focus on wearable technology as the personal data monitoring theme gathers momentum, and "computers" as once we called them get ever smaller, more flexible and more powerful.

CES is just the big shiny toy show for the gadget geek, but as its' name suggests -Consumer Electronics Show,'s all about marketing really. Who wins in buzz makes share prices rise and fall.

Ray Kurzweil, Google's Chief Engineer, has a more long term view with a remarkable track record / ability for seeing (& in some ways defining) the future.  Shiny toys round-ups from CES abound, but 5 minutes reading Ray's latest prediction piece will be 5 minutes food for thought well worth indulging in.

Albeit, I'd then follow up with this piece from an ex-Googler who moved to China, which gives a good helicopter view of why China is an exciting place to work at the minute. I love it! I can't wait to see what the "mountain thieves" (Chinese copy-cats) make of the e-ink opportunities.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Windows on content... a tablet view

November skipped by without a single post here... mostly because I moved to China and I've been sharing my adventures and discoveries over on tumblr & instagram.

But that doesn't mean I've been digitally awol.. instead I've been busy embracing and exploring growing mobile social network platform WeChat...the power of which is blowing my mind as my Chinese and better connected colleagues demonstrate how they are using it to bank, shop, check in, check delivery statuses.. "shai" (share/show off) anything they eat / see / buy.

As far as I can tell everything integrates seamlessly which is more than can be said for Windows 8.1... which I had to buy with a new laptop before I left the UK, only to find to my utter dismay Dropbox doesn't work properly and I can't get my Skype Voicemail from the Windows App.  Truly appalling. Skype is owned by Microsoft for goodness sake. You'd have thought they might have got the functionality on their own platform right!

Anyway, rant over...albeit I'm going to be mightily cheesed off until that stuff gets fixed.

I've been talking / thinking a lot about mobile & tablets since I got to China... the numbers make the mind boggle and user experience is clearly part of the brilliance of well integrated executions for the platforms.  I found this interesting 360 "you decide what you see"  via the angle of your tablet project courtesy of Springwise. Smart & well worth a watch.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Quote of the day

“Never expect someone to understand change when their livelihood depends on not understanding it”.

AKA Christensen’s ‘innovator’s dilemma’: 

Monday, 7 October 2013

Views on Hot desking... a blessing and a curse

Hot-desking.  It's all the rage in Adland at the moment it seems.

I have decidedly mixed views. I'm all for flexibility in my work environment, I enjoy working with lots of different teams, and I've been largely peripatetic for years, but I'm also currently wrestling with a couple of fundamental challenges.

One is emotional.. I spend 10 hours a day at work on average and I have to admit I like having my own "home".  I don't need an office, but I do like a consistent base to come back to. It's taken all sorts of shenanigans to get a decent sized screen of my own, as they are non-standard in the office, and I like having my own desk calendar for practical at-a-glance headlines, my own keyboard,  phone, mouse and crumbs... it's well known that desks are a health hazard, so I'd rather be sticking to my own germs thanks.

I value having my own chair, set up how I like it without having to spend 10 minutes adjusting it so I don't get back ache. I like the ability to leave my to do list (normally on a collection of post-its) in situ and a small but reasonable set of drawers to keep my nominal desk clutter in... be it biscuits, emery boards, a hair brush, hand cream, paracetamol, spare tights..... just stuff that I don't want to carry around all day everyday as well as a laptop and headphones, but  are good to have to hand, not a walk around a floor away and are pressed into service fairly regularly. Fundamentally as a planner at heart I also read books, yes the old printed kind... these don't fit into a ridiculously small 20cm square buckets either. Grrr.

Much of that's just piffling personal preference and habitual stuff, so no big deal in the grand scheme (well maybe other than having my biscuit tin to hand... that's serious!)

Professionally however I'm also seeing mixed impacts of the moves to hotdesking.

Cross-fertilisation of knowledge and ideas is great and sitting with different people definitely helps from that angle. Variety being the spice of life!  However, there's some challenges too:

Email is a necessary evil  we live with which we should all try to minimise. Personal relationships still count, which is why despite Skype, Hangouts and video conferencing sometimes we all just need to get on a plane or go to a face to face meeting.  An hour in a meeting can usually move things forward far faster than 72 emails.  So in the new hotdesking world I'm now finding I am sending more emails not less, something that goes against what I believe in simply because my productivity losses are increasing trying to resolve things face to face. I used to know where people sat, now I go to look for people on a different floor, spend 5 minutes wandering around looking for them, can't find them, can't leave them a note cos I don't know where they are sitting without their physical presence as visual reference, get stopped by someone else, and end up having lost time and failed to accomplish the task that would have taken 5 minutes to resolve with a quick chat so end up back downstairs sending an email.  I might as well just work from home if the face to face contact is becoming less practical.

My other concern is about managing teams and specifically growing junior talent.  We all sometimes need space and time to think in peace,there's generally so many people in my office wearing headphones anyone would mistake us for a call centre at a glance.  However, whilst an occasional sitting on your own so as not to be distracted is useful, as a manager it's hard to know what your team is up to when they are scattered around the floor.  Moreover, it's harder for everyone  in a team to keep up with what's going on in a fast moving world if they are all scattered, and I am deeply concerned for the youngsters who are brought in in grad teams, tend to stick to the company of sitting with their immediate peers (understandably), but in so doing are going to miss out massively on the opportunities to learn by osmosis and being involved in the day to day conversations and banter of sitting with a team of mixed experience levels. It's harder for managers to spot problems but also identify top talent if you don't have regular un-structured interaction with your team.

Monday morning rant over!  Still, did mean I finally put fingers to keyboard after 2 months of blogging silence! Sailing season must be over ;-)

Friday, 26 July 2013

Nourishing my inner nerd

Love this work from Nivea... Helping the consumer, and putting an ad close to the point of use. Simple, smart, probably not cost-effective at scale, but nonetheless award entries and social shares still have their value!