I finally got back to exercising ways the other day. I’d been injured after a run and this seemed to set off a chain reaction of twinges and aches in related parts of my body, so it was slightly over 2 weeks since I had last exercised.

I go the gym first thing in the morning, before I start the normal family or working day. If it’s regular exercise like the gym, the only time I will go is the morning. After about lunch time I can’t be bothered, so the only exercise I’ll contemplate in the afternoon or evening is proper sport.

Anyway, I bounded back to the house an hour later, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, all chirpy, full of the joys of spring and whatever other cliche you can conjure up. It got me thinking about the paradox that is the least-most principle of exercise. The less you feel like doing something, the more you need it and the more it will benefit you. The longer you don’t exercise, the more you don’t want to do it, the longer you put it off and the harder is to get back in the saddle.

I didn’t want to get up and dressed for exercise in the cold. It took some effort but finally I was up and ready to head out. Once I’d got to the gym, I was fine. When I finished I felt great and I was set up for the day.

For me the least-most principle of exercise always holds true. The least I feel inclined to do it, the most I need it, and the most I get out of it.

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I’m sitting on a train which is theoretically on its way from Galway to Dublin. I have a 2 o’clock meeting in Dublin, and then I’m back home on the train. I’m coming in just for this meeting, but my train is due in 2 and 1/2 hours before my meeting, so I’ve arranged to meet a couple ex-work pals for lunch. I’d decided on the train because my back is a bit sore and I could also get some work done.

The lunch appointment time is just passing now. We’ve been stationery for about 50 minutes. Ever since we rolled over something hard and metallic about 25 KMs outside Dublin, trundling to a stop about a kilometre further on. The on-board wifi is taking a terrible beating.

There are emergency response teams on the scene, presumably for both the incident and our train. I’m not sure if I’ll make my meeting, or whether we’ll eventually roll into Dublin and I’ll hop on the next train back to Galway, which will probably be delayed.

On Twitter Irish Rail has announced the suspension of all services in both directions due to a ‘tragic incident’. It is what it is. You can’t legislate for this kind of thing. You can’t manage away all of these possibilities and percentages. But when you have any single point of failure you run the risk of running into problems which inconvenience thousands of people.

I’ve written about the unreliability of public transportation for work-related meetings on numerous occasions. This is, of course, extremely traumatic for anyone directly affected by the incident. But for those of us indirectly affected, what it all boils down to is the usual: the loss of two important and related factors, namely time and productivity. This meeting I’m supposed to be attending is a dry-run for the real thing I’m running in 2 days time, for which I was also going to take the train. Decisions…

Ah, email, the scourge of modern lives, both work-based and social-based. It’s no wonder that the young are not embracing it as a communications vehicle in anything like the numbers that the older generations have.

Emails can represent both a time-suck and an intrusion into our daily lives. If you’re like me and you subscribe to suppliers’ mailings, or have simply bought something from a company which has your email address, you’ll know what a chore it is to wade through email subject lines from organisations you don’t want to unsubscribe from, in case the occasional email provides something of use to you.

Email has its problems. A large percentage of knowledge and intellectual property is buried in email, often not archived or indexed properly, and it can be difficult to find and retrieve. That’s not particularly efficient. Email intrudes on a regular basis, with a ping here and a ping there, and business gurus are lining up to tell us to ignore 80% of our email and do our necessary email work in batches so that we stay productive.  Businesses are soon to be subject to the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which places more stringent requirements on those companies that collect and use data on us, like our email address. Here’s a nice summary by a marketing automation provider on GDPR implications for companies that email their customers.

Email marketing has been trending down for some time, as search engine optimisation / marketing and social media have been trending up. By 2020, according to Forrester and CMO, email will account for only 2,5% of our digital marketing spend.

It’s not all bad for email though. For example, a couple of years ago I called a couple dozen customers of a client of mine and asked them what their communications preferences were, both as prospective customers, and as active, ongoing customers. The overriding preference? ‘Email. Yes, I get loads of them, but if you send me one that I know I need to read, from looking at the subject line, I can leave it in my inbox and get to it when I’m ready.’

So it seems that, at least for non-millennials and business folk, the hugely prevalent mechanism that is email is still the best of a pretty bad lot when it comes to written communications.

In this post I want to talk about the other IoT. Not the Internet of Things, but the Interconnectedness of Things. Almost the same thing, but actually quite different as well.

Recently I participated in a 10K run. It was the latest version of the run I serialised 12 months ago. I warmed up the week before with a 10K run, and did something to my right Achilles tendon which made it very sore. No harm, I’d got the distance ‘in the bank’ so I focused for the next week on stretches to fix the pesky tendon in time for the race.

3K into the actual race, after a very careful and studious warm-up on the big day, my historically troublesome right calf muscle started aching. After 4K it was properly pulled and I had to stop and hobble back to the car. I limped around for about 4 days and then felt my back go, a muscular groan between my shoulder blades. Two days later, my lower back twanged, and so I had to put up with more periods of extreme soreness where I was in too much discomfort to start rehab. Bending down to pick something up off the floor was agony, and soon my right knee started complaining.

This for me illustrates the interconnectedness of the body’s moving parts, all stemming from the spine and the core. The Achilles, affecting the calf, impacting the spine (which is probably the root cause), which then refers pain down the legs. A good strong core and spine, and all the stuff that hangs off them tends to be pretty good too.

This is what I mean by the interconnectedness of things.It’s also a handy parallel for business, work and life. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, as Mr Newton said. Everything’s connected…

We use the word pain a lot in sales and marketing. We don’t mean physical pain of course, we mean business-related pain, and use the word to signify a problem, deficiency or other kind of challenge that our prospective customer needs to overcome. We home in on that pain, highlight it, illustrate the downside of not fixing it, and demonstrate how we’re uniquely positioned to remove that pain.

We also hope that our customer is not experiencing that pain constantly. You’d think we might be, but actually if they’re so preoccupied with that pain then it makes it very difficult for them to focus properly and absorb the reasoning about how we can help alleviate the pain.

There’s an exact corollary in constant pain of a physical nature too. When we’re in constant pain, a pain that medicine or treatment won’t lessen, it consumes every waking moment and makes it almost impossible to do anything productive. That’s why we’re generally in hospital, at the Doctor’s or laid up in bed. Nothing else for it.

I pity those unfortunate people who have to live with constant pain. It must be so hard. I have to imagine you’re preoccupied with managing that pain every waking moment.

Same for the business in constant pain as well. We must work super hard as marketers and sales people to provide a glimmer of quality respite for them to buy into a better future, a future that’s tied to us.

If you’re reading this post pretty much as soon as it’s been published, then I send you a heartfelt and well timed Happy New Year. If you’ve come to it later, by a different route, don’t click away just yet.

I have an observation to make. In England we tend to wish people Happy Christmas slightly before Christmas, and on Christmas Day, and not usually after. We also say Happy New Year on the stroke of midnight going into the first of January, and for a week or two afterwards. Never before.

In Ireland, you can be wished a Happy New Year before the new year starts.

In some quarters this would be thought of as slightly odd, unlucky even. ‘I haven’t got there yet, but thanks, I think.’

The Irish for December is Nollaig, which also means Christmas, so you’ll receive Christmas greetings from the first of the month, which is nice. Furthermore, in the Emerald Isle it’s not considered out of the ordinary to wish folk Happy Christmas slightly after the big day, or Happy New Year slightly before the other big day.

I consider it all part of the Irish way of friendliness, chattiness and welcomingness.

I have found, perhaps more by luck than judgement, hence my anecdotal phrasing of this sentence, that when you do the prep, things tend to go fine. When you don’t, they don’t.

When you wing a call or a meeting, choosing not to think about the questions you might get, or the outcomes you want from an encounter, it can often unravel and put you behind where you started. When you think about your call or meeting, plan for it, do the work required, try and anticipate the questions, have answers for them, and have an outcome in mind, it tends to go well.

Things are rarely as bad or difficult as you thought they’d be before you started the prep.

I think this has to do with the self-fulfilling prophecy, and peace of mind. The self-fulfilling prophecy, as I’ve talked about here, here and here, dictates that something will probably turn out the way you expected it to, and that by extension you should go into any situation with a positive outcome in mind. When you’ve done the prep, you’re comfortable with the impending call or meeting. You have peace of mind, which relaxes you and sets you up much better to shape the meeting to how you want it to go.

In a situation that’s much more complex than a call or meeting, like war, or business, our strike rate is nothing like as high. There are too many more variables, with too many more possible outcomes. All plans turn to dust in the heat of battle, inevitably. The prep, though, and the act of prepping, is still a very important and worthwhile exercise.

When to use farther and when to use further? Tricky one. Farther seems a bit more antiquated to me, with most people deferring to more common, if less logical further.

It turns out that both are fine, though for me you can justify farther when you use it with distance. Saturn is farther from the earth than Jupiter, for example.

I made a quick check of my 600-blog posts, for kicks and giggles, and I use the word farther twice in all of them. A pretty rare occurrence, then, among about 150,000 words. In the one instance I say ‘rippling out your original request in ever farther…’ In the other I’m saying ‘When you’ve got the word ‘have’ in there, it throws it ‘back’ farther to the ‘u’ word.’ Pretty opaque sentences when taken out of context, I know.

Yet both of these are distance-related you could say, rather than the figurative-related, as in ‘I could go further, but I won’t.’

Titles can be misleading. We can oversell things or we can simply misdirect people, either by mistake or on purpose. I know that now, from the title of a relatively recent post.

This is the sixth year of blogging for me. I started in 2013 and now it’s 2018, which is six years, at least as far as the Gregorian calendar is concerned. This is different, of course, from my sixth year of blogging, which I will only reach after five years in the proverbial saddle, and even then I’ll only be a hair’s breadth into my sixth year.

In real terms I’ve only been blogging for about four-and-a-third years, which is why the sixth year of blogging sounds so much better. We take advantage of mathematical and measurement rounding to make things appear better than they are. If I’ve won a golf major in every decade for four decades, or had a child in every decade for four decades, it sounds like a span of forty years, but it might only be a spread of twenty-one years.

Overselling things, or overstating them, is OK, as long as we don’t create a false impression in people that we can’t then deliver on. They might turn away for good.

Reduce, reuse or recycle: so goes the environmentally-aware aphorism to keep us on the straight and narrow with the earth’s resources. We should reuse what we have if at all possible. If we can’t reuse it, we should recycle it. If we can’t recycle it, then we should reduce it, so that it occupies a smaller space in the places where we borrow but can’t pay back, namely landfill.

It turns out that this guide applies equally well for the food we buy and consume. I derive an odd sense of pleasure from being able to use up all the frozen food from the freezer, or combine left-over perishables into a meal that wouldn’t exist if I threw out the separate items.

It’s that thrill of maximum utility – getting the most use out of what we’ve paid for.

It also turns out that it’s a handy approach to adopt in our work, especially marketing. Content, especially good content, takes painstaking time to create. But it can also be the gift that keeps on giving, since you can use it again, or recycle it into other formats, or reduce it into smaller parts that can form a series. Beautiful.

Any why not other areas of work as well? Whatever processes, resources and technology you can reduce, reuse or recycle, you should, as long as you achieve the goal of greater productivity.