Archives for category: Communication

 

I subscribe to a once-a-week post from Tim Ferriss, famed author of The 4-Hour Work Week and other 4-hour derivative publications for self-help and lifestyle improvement. The post is called 5-bullet Friday, and it’s just that: “Here is your weekly dose of “5-Bullet Friday,” a list of what I’m enjoying or pondering.

I almost never click on anything, but I do once in a while. Recently, this movie was the first of his bullets. It was a Sunday evening when I got to his Friday email. I was planing on watching a TV movie. The first bullet sounded fascinating, and I clicked on the movie. I watched it all the way through, abandoning my entertainment plan A.

From Tim’s precis: It is beautiful, jolting, heart-melting, and brutal… all at once. The footage and stories blend into a powerful visual journey that evoked nearly every imaginable emotion in me. Here’s part of the description: “What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight? That we laugh? Cry? Our curiosity? The quest for discovery? Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand (@yannarthusbertrand) spent three years collecting real-life stories from 2,000 women and men in 60 countries. Working with a dedicated team of translators, journalists and cameramen, Yann captures deeply personal and emotional accounts of topics that unite us all….”

It’s bloody fantastic, you must watch it. It’s high def drone footage of some of the most incredible shots of our planet and people I have ever seen, interspersed with head and shoulders clips that will break your heart and remind you how lucky most of us reading this post are, how fleeting life is, and how you absolutely must cherish the day.

I’m going to watch Volume 2 the next free evening I have.

 

I came across The Skimm completely by accident. I wasn’t looking for it. Something came up in my Twitter stream when I happened to be looking at Twitter and I clicked through.

The Skimm, as the name suggests, gives you the skinny on the major news stories globally in the form of a week-daily email. This way you can stay up to date in a couple of minutes, without getting bogged down in longer stories or avoiding the news altogether. The content is very well written. It’s been very handy for following the Brexit kerfuffle. It also drops in lots of links to other topics like entertainment and various offers.

That said, it’s quite US-focused and also seems to be geared in the main to women, judging by the advertisers, promotions and list of ‘Skimm’rs’ who subscribe and refer other readers.

I don’t read it every day, but I read it about half the time. It’s a great time-saver for those who want both to stay current and stay focused on the day job.

Paul Dilger social media photo

Paul Dilger social media photo

It’s about time I updated my social media photo presence. It’s getting a bit ridiculous.

Many people seem to have a social media photo that shows them around a decade younger. Why is that? Three possible reasons jump to mind. They want to appear younger and more attractive, they’re slightly vain, or they can’t be bothered to change the photo.

In my case I think all three reasons applied. I started using social media like LinkedIn and Facebook about 2007, and I used a pic I liked from around 2005, so I was already cheating a bit. It’s the same pic. I haven’t updated it. In fact a cropped version of it is the one I use to front this blog.

I have started to update my photo for my professional consulting engagements, because you want to manage expectations in business and it’s tough call to claim 30 years of experience if you look 40 in your picture. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve met someone for the first time, and their LinkedIn photo is a very optimistic version of the real thing.

Still, it’s a seminal moment for me to change it across the board, including the non-work social presences.

Maybe I’ll get round to it in the next couple of weeks, or so…

 

And finally, my third of 3 selections in this second series of best entries in Jeff Kacirk’s Forgotten English, a desk calendar featuring an ancient or obscure word for each day of the year.

This word is the fabulous ‘williewaught’. No, it’s not relating to a part of the male anatomy. It means a large amount of alcoholic drink. As in, he’s had an absolute williewaught full, although they probably never used that kind of phrasing back in 1895. It apparently comes from the Scots word quaich, and before that the Gaelic word cuach, meaning drinking cup, but I’m struggling to see that.

This particular page of the calendar also offers a delightful bit of history around Oktoberfest. People heading to Oktoberfest sometimes say they’re going ‘to the meadow’, and apparent reference to the original site of the festivities.

And finally, on the subject of drinking to excess, to ‘come home by the villages’ meant to be drunk in the early twentieth century, since hostelries were in the villages. To come home by the fields, conversely, where there were no pubs, meant to be sober. Fabulous stuff.

Here’s my second choice in the second 3-part series of cool words from Jeff Kacirk’s Forgotten English, which is one of those page-a-day desk calendars currently adorning my home office.

My choice today is the glorious ‘beastle’, which apparently means to befoul or make filthy. Perhaps it gives rise to the adjective beastly, which we still use these days, though that’s more than likely a variant of the noun beast.

As with part IV, this entry also sticks in the mind for the accompanying ‘on this day in history’ narrative, being the anniversary of the death in 2001 of James ‘The Fox’ Phillips, who was by all accounts one of the earliest eco-saboteurs.

He was a biology teacher who got sick of industrial polluters and from the late 1960s covertly sabotaged – or ‘made filthy’ – factories and terrorised company CEOs in his locality. He seems to be have been the forerunner and perhaps inspiration for organisations like Greenpeace.

Earlier in the year I featured 3 of my favourite instances of Jeff Kacirk’s Forgotten English calendar, a daily rip-off page devoted to ancient and obscure words. I thought it a good time to revisit them with another 3-part series.

Today’s choice is from 1st October: a come-off

It means an escape or evasion, and I can’t say I’ve ever heard it used that way. It dates from early twentieth century American English.

The calendar not only features a word or phrase, it also ties it to something historical that happened on this day. A Jewish chap called Niels Bohr was helped away on the 1st of October 1943 from Denmark to Sweden and the plan was supposed to be that he would then go to America to help the atomic weapons effort. He dug his heels in since Sweden wouldn’t take Jewish refugees, until the country relented.

As a rather touching postscript, when Sweden’s refugees returned to Copenhagen after the war, they found that their neighbours had looked after their homes. And the rest is history, specifically atomic history in Herr Bohr’s case.

Brexit could be all done by the time you read this post, though as I write it couldn’t be more finely balanced.

There’s a tremendous amount of international shadow-boxing going on at the moment, as the UK government looks to brace itself against the punches of blame that might come its way from within. Stories have been ‘leaked’ and senior government officials are expressing their frustration that the EU doesn’t understand the UK position.

It’s clear to me that there is not a single marketer in the UK government. No-one has stopped for a moment and said, ‘hang on a moment, the EU is effectively a customer, or at the very least a partner. We should treat this as a commercial arrangement. Let’s try and put ourselves in their shoes, figure out what’s important to them and proceed accordingly.’ I think the EU has done this, and the thinking UK person has too. The unthinking person on both slides of the political divide probably hasn’t.

‘Let’s make it about them, and stop acting like it’s about us.’

Simplistic I know, but sometimes it suits to go back to basics before FUD fogs everything. A lasting, long-term negotiated agreement has to be a win-win, otherwise it won’t last.

A bit of humility and thoughtfulness rather than the usual dose of haughtiness and arrogance, please.

The Glastonbury Ghost

The Glastonbury Ghost

I’m a late convert to festivals. Music festivals, arts festivals, family-focused, eco-focused: there are now so many to choose from, from May to September every year, and no shortage of acts to perform at what are now for them highly lucrative sources of revenue.

I’ve probably been to about a dozen festivals, all but one in Ireland. For a number of years I’ve tried to get tickets to the Glastonbury festival, the Daddy of them all, for my good lady and her friend. I’m not that keen myself, I like the creature comforts at my festivals.

So for the last few years, having registered Mrs D’s details, and Mrs G’s too, I’ve got my notification email and stood ready at my laptop at a few minutes to 9am on the day of ticket release. That’s as far as I’ve ever got. A few minutes before 9 and you get the holding webpage. 8:59am onwards and the page hangs, then returns a time out error. You repeat this process for maybe a hundred times until you get to a holding pages about half an hour later that tells you tickets have sold out.

You see, I think Glastonbury tickets are now the preserve of IT people, people who know the back routes into booking servers, or how to pool resources into multiple simultaneous requests until someone gets through and orders the maximum amount for their cohort.

For the rest of us, the event is like a ghost. You’re met with platitudinous messages about being really sorry but supply has so far outstripped demand blah blah blah. It’s getting like the Wimbledon tennis lottery.

From a marketing point of view, this is the dream, because it’s all about scarcity. There’s not enough to go round, and the excess demand drives the price.

You see it on TV and you know it does happen. At least, you think it happens, you’ve never seen one.

I was having lunch with my mother the other day. We were catching up on plans. ‘Apart from mine in Ireland, are you going anywhere else for a break?’ ‘I’m going to see Irene, remember?’ ‘No, I mean abroad.’ ‘No, I can’t get reasonable travel insurance now I’m over 80, it’s too expensive.’

OK, so I understand the underlying business model behind insurance. Anyone elderly is at a higher risk of needing expensive healthcare services compared with someone younger, it’s simple statistics. Throw in a medical condition and the risk increases even more sharply.

That said, does it not appear to you to suck big time that you can’t get to a certain age, when you have time, freedom and money to travel, without having to pay as much as your holiday in travel insurance?

That seems to me to be a real poor reward for working a full career and wanting to enjoy it.

‘So what did you do for travel insurance last year when we all went to Spain then?’ ‘I think I just took the risk and went without insurance. I didn’t feel like I had the choice’

That’s coming from an ordinarily very risk-averse octogenarian. Something’s not right, but I’m not sure what the answer is.

I was visiting my mother the other day. She lives in a small town on the edge of Bristol in England, with a lovely high street of the usual shops and cafes you might expect to find.

At about 5pm on the Saturday I decided I would wander 5 or 10 minutes up to the high street to get a card and small gift. I know I was leaving it late, but I figured that they would close at 5:30 so I would be fine.

The shop I had my eye on closed at 5:15pm, according to the sign. What kind of shop closes at 5:15? It’s neither one thing nor the other. I reasoned that they probably said 5:15pm so they serve their straggling customers by 5:30 and close at the ‘normal’ time.

I tried the door. I was exactly 5:12pm on my phone. It was closed, and 2 prissy ladies were beavering away at the till. I knocked on the window. ‘Closed’, they signed. I pointed at my phone and their sign and walked off in disgust.

It drives me mad, that kind of thing. If you say you’re closing at 5:15, don’t close early. I went to my second choice shop, told them all about my experience – they closed at 5:30pm – spent my money there.

No wonder the high street is dying a slow death. Still focused on itself, and not us.