I was in London the last 2 days.  It struck me how many large office buildings are under construction.  There were also many large residential complexes going up.  It is a marked contrast to Barcelona to see so much construction activity.  I don’t know what it says about economies, but on the surface it looks like London is really booming.

Here’s me in front of that famous buildboard display in Piccadilly Circus.  My brother’s business (Bitposter) manages outdoor display advertising spaces… hope they get these big displays onto their system soon (if they are not there already…)!

If you find your job is boring and lacks excitement, and you don’t have a good view from your office…  I have a suggestion:  You could work with these guys…

This year Shakespeare is celebrating 400 years since something… I can’t remember if birth, death or first theatre performance.  Here’s me taking a #selfie in front of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre.

And here’s the boat that kept Sir Francis Drake attacking the spanish merchant fleet and stealing all their new world gold.  I guess the spanish had stolen it from the Incas, so Sir France Drake was stealing pre-stolen gold…

 

I was skiing with Florian, Rose and Alvaro yesterday in the Andorran resort of Pas de la Casa.  There was not much real snow, but the Grandvalira resort have worked magic with the artificial snow production machines… and so we were able to ski most of the pistes.

Over lunch, Rose sat in the bad seat.

The table behind kept knocking into her with their ski jackets and ski helmets and ski whatevers.  They kept doing it, and there was no sorry, no acknowledgement whatsoever.

I told them of my first 3 weeks at university.

Nobody messed with me.

I made a fine first impression.

I arrived at Nottingham University aged 18 years old in September 1991.  My mum dropped me and my 2 bags of belongings off to my rooms in Cripps Hall (an All-Men hall…  not my first choice).

In the first week, two things happened that would affect how I would make my first impression on fellow students:

First, a local barber was offering free haircuts (marketing plan?).  A friend suggested that if we shaved off all of our hair, we would save money on haircuts for quite a while.  The barber, for this free haircut, shaved off my hair.

Second, I went to try out for the university football team.  I was doing quite well, until mid-way through the first half I went to head the ball… and the defender went in to head the ball…  I got the ball, he got just above my right eye.

I was taken off to the hospital bleeding profusely.

After a 6 hour wait in the public hospital, I had 6 stitches put in just below my right eyebrow.  I was told not to drink alcohol for at least 10 days.

At this particular crucial life moment, I was wearing black t-shirts with heavy metal angst bands (I can’t remember which bands first week…  A little later in the year it was Ministry).

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 20.13.52
Trainspotting

I spent the first 3 weeks of university with a shaved head, a nasty black eye and an angry black t-shirt.  I looked like an extra from Trainspotting.

Nobody messed with me.

First impressions make a big impact.

Even if it is not the impression I’d have liked to have left.

Inspiration

PS. I was inspired to write this by Florian who responded to my story with “That is an awesome blog post…  If you don’t write it, I will!”.  You should read his blog over at http://florianmueck.com 😉

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Release

In excitement and childhood joy at reliving my youth, here is a few videos from the Star Wars Franchise.  Are you going to see The Force Awakens?  Have you seen it?  What did you think?

Official Trailer

The Official Teaser

Jimmy Fallon and crew making fun of the Star Wars Anthem

Have a great Friday and I hope to hear your thoughts on the movie.  I watched the original Star Wars over and over on my parents’ betamax video player.  I used to watch 10-15 minutes each morning before heading to school.

Don’t forget my old set of posts on Jedi Productivity:

Do you know what is the worst question that you can ask yourself?

It is a powerful question If you intend to avoid living a life that is fulfilling at all the levels: safety, risk, connection, significance, growth and contribution.

What big goals do you have for yourself?  (You do have them, whether you have taken the time to write them out or not.) What is the next step?  The step that takes you from where you are today towards where you need to be for your goal to become realised.

Now, when you look at that step, there is a question that is guaranteed to kill the chance of you achieving the goal.

It is guaranteed to stop you taking action.

It might be fitness action, it might be relationships action, it might be learning reaction, it might be better eating action… but this question is guaranteed to stop you.

The Kill-Joy Question

It is a simple question, it seems a reasonable question to ask oneself.

I hear it all the time.

It gets into every nook and cranny of our lives, it seeps in to every effort.

I use it too often myself.

The Small Life Question

What is the question?

“Do I feel like doing this?”

Each day is an opportunity to make an incremental difference in how your journey in life pans out in the long-term.

Every day that you do “what you feel like doing” is a day that doesn’t build you a better platform for tomorrow, nor does it give a sense of a day used for fulfilment today.

Do I feel like writing now?  No.

Do I feel like going for a run before lunch?  No.

Do I feel like calling my accountant and getting our accounts closed before year end?  No.  (Definitely no).

Do I feel like making a detailed plan for 2015?  No.

Even the things that make me happy, are things that I don’t feel like doing just before I start.

PS You probably already know this, but this is an important reminder to myself this morning…

I am sitting at the airport about to board my Iberia flight back to Barcelona via the city of Madrid. I have had a great week teaching at IEEM Business School in Montevideo.

There is something special about spending a week working and living in another city. It changes my perspective on life. I have taught over 150 students and have enjoyed many short and long conversations about business, entrepreneurship and life.  Here’s a few pictures that I have taken over the last week.

How do you set limits on “Free”?

I teach communication skills.  I help entrepreneurs deal with leadership challenges.  I find it hard to effectively manage the gap between free advice and paid consulting.

“Would you listen to my speech?”

or “Can we meet for a coffee, I have an important meeting coming up?”

I find it hard to do the “American Lawyer” mode – bring a clock and start timing the conversation as soon as I talk about communications.

I like the little conversations, but I am conflicted about how to set some limits.

How do you set limits on your service?

Are you a coach – how do you distinguish between “free advice to friends” and “professional services”?  How do you have the conversation when someone assumes that they should get your help for free (and you’re not so sure)?

…And The Overly Complicated Sales Cycle

The other area that I have challenges is keeping the sales process under control.

I have a Swiss client that calls me, says they need a specific date, signs the contract and pays.  Minimal admin.  Zero hassle.

I had a Spanish client that asked me to come back and explain my services 11 times before signing the contract.  I would not have done the 2nd meeting if I had known that there were 9 more to come.

I had coffee this morning with an entrepreneur from Barcelona and fellow member of Entrepreneurs’ Organisation.  I spoke about a couple of blog posts that had really impacted me and changed my perspectives on life.  He asked me to share my list.  Here it is.

5 Blog Posts that Changed My Perspectives

Photo Credit: floato via Compfight cc
Opening New Perspectives, Photo Credit: floato

Derek Sivers’ post “You don’t have to be local” was a real perspective shift for me. I have spent many years connecting into the local Barcelona entrepreneur community… and I really resonated with Derek’s perspective. I enjoy writing, blogging, travelling with Barcelona as a base.  This post allowed me to feel less need to search for purely local connection.

Paul Graham’s post “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule” helped me make a big shift away from my Accenture lifestyle and manager focus towards a creator schedule.  I take fewer and fewer short meetings and look at only taking 2, 4 and 8 hour meetings.  This amount of time allows me to go deep into solutions and actually create something new.  15 minute meetings, 30 minute meetings really just make me feel busy, but do not actually lead to anything productive as an outcome.

David Maister’s short ebook “Strategy and the Fat Smoker” helped me take a more helpful perspective on long versus short term goals.  In the end, strategy fails because the hourly, daily grind of execution doesn’t measure up to the good intentions.  The fat smoker didn’t intend to be overweight and ill at 50, it was due to little daily breaks in the plan.

Leo Babauta writes the blog Zen Habits.  His reflection on “Why We Procrastinate” resonated with my personal experience.  His post didn’t solve my procrastination problem, but it did set me on the path to practicing focus.  My own post on Self-Discipline was inspired by Leo Babauta.

Steven Pressfield wrote “The War of Art” and helped me understand that the little voice in my head that questions why I am writing, who am I to think I have something to say, what will one article change is not me, it is “Resistance“.  Each day, the creator must sit down and push through this voice of resistance and “Do The Deep Work“.

Great Blogs

Bloggers that I love and read every post, but there is not one single post that I can point out:

Reading blogs

I use feedly to keep all the blog posts in one easy to read place.

What else am I missing?

What blog posts have impacted you?  What are the blogs that you regularly read?

Loneliness and Aloneness are different.

Photo Credit: Camil Tulcan via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Camil Tulcan cc

Loneliness is an emptiness and the desire to fill this space with another person in the hope that the emptiness will be filled and removed. Loneliness is to be unhappy alone; and leads to misery together. Loneliness leads to a possessive relationship that is not love. It may begin with the chemistry in the brain we often call love, but it will be slowly transformed into misery as we adapt to the presence of the chemicals in the brain and it becomes less passionate.

Aloneness is an acceptance of myself.

A relationship is a mirror. It reflects. If I am happy and creative and attractive, the relationship can mirror these qualities. If I have nothing to show, the mirror will reflect nothing.

Learning to be happy Alone

There are 2 emotional orientations:

  1. Internal and
  2. External.

Internal emotional orientation is about the enjoyment of my own personal progress in understanding, improving, learning from the action.  If i love golf because I enjoy my level of mastery and am absorbed in improving my own short game then this would be internal emotional orientation.

External orientation is that I judge the success or failure of each action by its impact on my status, on how it compares with my friends, on how my friends view me.  If I love golf because my friends envy my ability at golf, this would be a external emotional orientation.

I am sometimes internally oriented (searching for meaning) and sometimes externally oriented (what do “they” think of me? is this useful? will it help someone?)

I switch between the two.  I can find that I spend a week where I am working hard on a document that is meaningful to me and in “flow”… and then something happens and I get distracted and spend 2-3 days paying more and more attention to what other people think, how many “likes” on fb, how many retweets.  Then I have a crisis moment, reflect and switch back to mode 1.

I guess they are both there because they serve a purpose.  The challenge is that great art can only come from mode 1, but a lot of useful learning comes from mode 2.  I can learn faster in mode 2, but at a certain point I need to leave behind mode 2 and fully live in mode 1.

Do you switch between the 2?  What makes the switch happen?  Why does it happen?  What do you do to be conscious of your mode?

I’m guilty of sometimes waiting for that “perfect moment”.

Its a great way to spoil this current moment.

Johnnie Fox’s Pub

Last night, I was up in Johnnie Fox’s pub with my brother, sister and their loves in the mountains behind Dublin. We had spent most of a week together over the Christmas period.

My sister said “I learnt this year that you can’t live waiting for the perfect moment. The only moment that you’ve got is this one right here”.

I regularly travel over to Dublin for Christmas and a part of me always feels the need to have big connecting moments where family feels real and important. Years past I have taken the flight back to Barcelona at the end of a week with family with a feeling that it didn’t happen, the special moment didn’t occur, the big connecting instant hadn’t arisen.

This year, I may have learnt from my sister. I didn’t go expecting to have “big, perfect” moments – only to enjoy the moments that were happening.

I guess all that Zen stuff is getting to me…

…but it is true.

Waiting for the “perfect moment” spoils the great moments that are happening all around.