Day 1: I am Rohingya #51Days

Today as part of my #51days act of solidarity, I shall change my twitter profile to

‘I am Rohingya”

The Rohingya are an ethnic group that live in Myanmar – formerly Burma – they are mostly Muslims in a country that is predominantly Buddhist.

For a toxic mix of reasons – ranging from religious difference, land grab, ethnic hatred to simply being  – the Rohingya have been persecuted almost out of existence. First by successive military juntas and now from a democratically elected government itself led by a former political prisoner and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Rohingya seem to be the favorite whipping boy of everyone with power in Myanmar and the world seems mostly deaf and mute to their persecution.

Myanmar is signatory to multiple human right treaties and conventions  – pretty much all the ones that matter. It has obligations to protect the rights of indigenous people, women, children, the disabled and pretty much everyone in its jurisdiction.

The Rohingya do not deserve to be murdered, their women raped, their leaders tortured and disappeared. No one does. If they have committed a crime – charge and apply the law against them. To the best of my knowledge, their only crime, as a group, is to exist.

The violence and discrimination is both by agents of the Myanmar start under the pretense of security and by private militias with the tacit and often, active, support of the State.

Today, I stand with the Rohingya.

Please learn more about this here: http://www.rohingya.org/portal/

 


Photo by AK Rockefeller

51 days of solidarity and advocacy.

There are 51 days until Christmas 2016.

For each of those days,I will change my name on Twitter to reflect a cause I want to support and bring some attention in a small way.

Why?

There is so much wrong with the world. There is so much that is right too.
We are each nodes in a big network of humanity and when we refuse to pass on the right or suppress the wrong, we degrade the network. It stops working and it lets the mundane overshadow the truly meaningful.

But I’m only a node and over the next 51 days, I’m going to be a little better at being that.

How?

I’m pretty active on Twitter. I blog about things that interest me, I jump into conversations, I rant. My tweets are shared, liked and retweeted that creates reach beyond the 3000+ people that follow me. A change in name  – especially one that provokes curiosity spreads my message. It might just provoke the right action from the right person.

What can I do to help?

Retweet me, like my tweets.
Tweet about this action – if you support the same cause or simply want to support my activism.
Share this post.
Share the messages that have the hashtag #51days – they will be about the issue of the day.
Join me – if you’re on Twitter, change your twitter name in solidarity.

Or simply just share about this stupid thing Mike is doing now.

It all helps.

Just. Don’t. Do. Nothing.

 


Photo by OnTask


Photo by jared

My Camino is over for now. I walked 255 km for ME/CFS

In January 2016, I committed to take my dog – Maya – on a really long walk and I committed to use the walk to raise money and awareness for more investment into the medical conditions: Myalgic Encephalitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and FibroMyalgia. My best friend and my daughter both suffer from forms of these conditions and they are poorly understood, poorly diagnosed and treated. There are no cures currently for these conditions.

In May 2016, I started and completed my 255km walk in Northern Spain – from San Sebastian in the Basque Country to Santander in Cantabria. This is part of the ancient pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela – the fabled resting place of Saint James. Each day of my walk was dedicated to the story of a sufferer of these conditions.

Big Lessons from My Camino

Whether you walk it alone, or you trek with a group – a great walk helps you connect with people, nature and yourself. And in this connection there is so much learning. I don’t know whether it is science or spiritual or simply what happens when you give yourself the time and space to be heard.

Going into this walk, I had a bunch of things to figure out  – primarily I wanted time and space to reconnect with myself.  I did reconnect with myself – reaffirming what makes me, me and what my focus in life is, who and what are important and more importantly, who and what aren’t. Unexpectedly I also reconnected with parts of humanity that I had silently drifted from and didn’t realise I needed to rediscover and I’m so glad I did.

I learned so many things about myself and people and life on this walk and wrestled with demons that I hadn’t previously made time to resolve. They say that in the woods, no one can hear you scream. There are lots of woods in the North of Spain and I had many opportunities to scream at my demons and them at me.

Then there are the lessons that necessity teaches.

Anyhow – here are some of the things I learned on my walk:

Maya is a Truly Amazing Dog

2016-05-03 15.59.06I consider myself to be a very practical dog owner. There is a power relationship in play between man and dog and whilst I know all the blah blah about trust and loyalty, I hadn’t fully  experienced it with any other dog I’ve had, until this walk. I know that Maya considers me her pack leader – who will ultimate protect her from any threat and provide for her.

As far as I know, Maya can’t read a map nor calculate the distance between places on a route. She doesn’t know to plan for a 30km walk with multiple ascents and descents.

This beautiful dog walked with me every step of the way and stayed by my side in the rain and through the mud. Through forests and towns and hard tarmac roads that must have been tough on her paws. She braved her fears – unfriendly dogs that barked terrifyingly at her approach – and she spread her joy by making friends with every person we met.

Whether it was 10km or 30, Maya just walked with me – trusting that I knew where we were going and seeking nothing but having a pine cone thrown in play every now and then.

Vaseline is magic

2016-06-03 13.18.54“Here’s some vaseline – put it anywhere that starts to catch or heat up or rub” – the wisest words a newbie long distance walker will ever hear. My friend Amancio said these to me when we first met and kindly offered me his own tube as a gift.

Long walks put huge strain on your feet, things rub, skin gets bruised and blisters form. All these on their own are bad enough – but when you have to walk every day, suddenly things get rather more complicated. In comes Vaseline.

Every morning of my walk started with a smattering of vaseline on my clean feet – not too much, just enough to rub into my feet and create a protective shield. This shield almost entirely eliminates the friction that causes blisters.

Then when the straps of my 9.5kg backpack started rubbing into my shoulder and my neck – Vaseline again to the rescue.

Fix problems that affect your ability to make progress as soon as they occur

Stop and fix problems when they occur. Lesson learned.
Stop and fix problems when they occur. Lesson learned.

On a walk and in life, there are things you must keep doing to move forward. In life, it seems like there are a multitude of things you need to maintain. You have to look after your health, eat well and exercise for example. Some say you have to keep learning, others say you need to keep an active social life.

On a walk, life is much simpler. The only thing you need to do to make progress is maintain your ability to put one foot in front of the other and walk. I learned that I needed to address any problem that affected that ability as soon as I felt them.

For example – I had new walking boots and the inevitable pains of breaking them in all started to emerge from about the second day of the walk. First I got shooting pains in the sole of my left foot – but I ignored them, put a brave face on and kept walking. Then they got worse, the pain spread to the back of my left knee.

Had I stopped and stretched, applied some balm – as I did on subsequent days (with fewer painful consequences) – I’m sure those first 2-3 days would have been a less injury prone experience.

The cost of stopping and fixing the problem is much lower than the price of being laid out for a day or two.

So now I’m working on understanding what essential things I need in order to move forward joyfully in life and I’m learning to spot problems that will affect them.

I really don’t need very much to be happy

2016-05-03 15.59.00Something about living out of a backpack for 10 days is exceptionally liberating. I packed 4 dry wick tech shirts – they are extremely light and quick drying- 2 trousers that could convert to shorts and a few other items of clothing. But I realised actually I could have packed even half of those items and still been fine.

I was without my laptop, a TV – though I had my phone, I used it almost entirely for taking pictures and keeping in touch with my family via Whatsapp.

Aside from the physical things I didn’t have –  I also had much less responsibility. Basically it was to find food for myself and Maya.

Yet the walk was truly one of the happiest 2 weeks of my life.  I think as material things go – I’ve never been a hankerer for things – so not much improvement there. This walk has taught me to think about the responsibilities that I take on that I might not need to be happy, it also taught me that there are some things that I had closed myself to – that I now recognise make me feel happy – which I really need to try and get more of.

I never tend to do things because I seek gratitude in return or even an acknowledgement by anyone who might benefit from my doing them. I do things mostly because I want to do them or I see they need to be done. Yet I was completely unprepared for the effect of reading some of the short messages of gratitude and appreciation on Facebook and on my JustGiving page. Hundreds of messages of gratitude for walking for others. I blubbed almost every time I read.

Everyone has their own camino

Each person has their own camino
Each person has their own camino

I was joined at the start of my camino by my friends Helen and Horacio. We had such a wonderful time for the 3 days we were together. We laughed so hard, there were never any awkward silences.  There were times we walked in step and other times when each walked their own pace. It was easy.

Yet as much as we enjoyed walking the same route, we each were walking our own camino -both as a physical journey through each person’s limits and challenges and through each person’s mental baggage they needed to work through.

And this was the same for each person I met on the walk. Appreciating that we are not all walking for the same reasons or to the same schedule almost entirely eliminates judgement. There is no right way to walk nor a right way to start or a good time to complete a stage in.

As I apply this learning to life – I feel totally filled with empathy for the journey each person is on – even if they don’t realise they are on a distinct one from everyone else.

The Kindness of Strangers is Powerful Stuff

'Be a rainbow in someone's cloud' - Maya Angelou
‘Be a rainbow in someone’s cloud’ – Maya Angelou

There were a few times on this walk when I needed help. Especially when things got a little complicated with accommodation with Maya or finding food for her on days when things were closed or in places where nothing was open.

The warmth and the kindness of people who didn’t know me from Adam – people who could easily have said ‘No’ instead of ‘Yes’ – simply blows me away.

It turns out that over the last few years I have not needed the kindness of strangers – most of my endeavours have been very much in my control. Yet on this camino, I put myself in situations where I needed that help and there it was.

From Kepa who happily let Maya sleep in his courtyard – to Manolo in Pobeña who offered to drive me to the next town to buy dog food – I’m convinced these are the people who neutralise all the cynicism in the world by their small acts of random kindness.

Never sleep with a big dog in a small tent

2016-05-13 22.22.56However much you love your dog – and I love mine a whole lot (and a whole lot more after this Camino), there are lines to be drawn.

One such line is never again sharing a small tent with Maya. Aside from the paws digging into my side and the tail tickling my nose, the most unbearable thing were the farts.

Maya is lethal with her farts- though I think I gave as good as I got – and this is made more toxic because of the size of the tent. So if there is one piece of advice I can share – that I learned the hard way – it is never to share your small tent with a big dog.

Camino Photos

Now, remember I went to walk. But I did manage to take some pictures too. I’ll add more of my photos as well as some from Helen, Horacio and James when they share them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Huge Thanks

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I’m deeply grateful to so many people for the support and concern during this camino. Huge thanks to my wife – Katharine – for making it possible for me to even have the time to be away from home for 12 days.

Thanks to these 58 amazing people who backed my JustGiving campaign. We exceeded the target and this money will make a difference to the lives of so many people suffering with ME/CFS/FM. We need research into these conditions and whilst £3000 may not sound like a lot for research, it will fund the activism and advocacy that is critical to agitate for more investment.

The Next Steps

As my friend and Camino consultant – Amancio – says “You’re hooked on the Camino”. I am pretty hooked now on the idea of the camino as a quest, a time to reconnect and as a physical and mental challenge. So now what?

Well, in September/October, Maya and I will  be walking for 25 days to complete the remainder of the Camino del Norte from Santander to Santiago. About 600 km. It will be a more informed adventure and, for sure,  a lighter packed one.

I’ll post more about it and I know now that I will continue to raise money and awareness for ME/CFS/FM and also to raise awareness and funds for MOAS – the Migrant Offshore Aid Station –  who are doing an incredible job saving lives in the Mediterranean Sea by rescuing migrants from capsized boats.

If you would like to join me for part of this longer walk – stay tuned to my blog for news of the plan and the schedule.

Thanks for reading this far 🙂

 

#MikesLongWalk: Join My Walk From Home

This Saturday – May 7th, my Long Walk on the Camino de Santiago will begin.
As some of you know, I am doing this to raise awareness and funds for ME/CFS research (donate here if you haven’t: https://www.justgiving.com/mhsuttonlongwalk).

I’m doing this long walk because I was inspired by my best friend Joel, who is fighting ME/CFS and also other sufferers of this condition to whom it would be a dream to just set foot and walk for 100 yards.

As an ME/CFS sufferer at home, there are two very easy and fun ways you can “join” me on this walk.
You can do both!

First: Participate on the Dedication Day:

(This is kind of urgent – the first dedication day is Saturday May 7th – when I will dedicate 22km of my Camino  – so please hurry.)

How it works: I dedicate each day of this 12 day walk to an ME/CFS sufferer – tell your story, share a picture of you that day and help show the world that just because governments aren’t taking this seriously enough, it doesn’t mean it isn’t serious.

To participate:

  • Just fill in this form some information about you and your experience of ME/CFS so I can create a dedication page from there    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1xLTpxWNUnsGj6dKn-wpmDJsRRnQeBD5uMdFznoWbD14/viewform

    Rest assured: Your details will never be shared with anyone and your email will only be used to correspond with you about this event for ME/CFS awareness.

  • On the day dedicated to you, I’ll take a picture with you from the walk (you’ll need a special app for this on an Android phone).
  • I’ll put the page up and you can see what will be published – and get to make any changes
  • If you know anyone with this condition and want a day dedicated to them, feel free to send and share this post

Second way: Put your music on my playlist, so I can listen to your recommendations during the walk.

The walk is going to be 255 km over 12 days, I would need to pack some music too! So feel free to add what you think I should “pack” with me here: Mike’s Camino Playlist

To stay updated with the walk and the daily dedications, please ‘like’ the walk Facebook page here

REMEMBER: YOU CAN DO BOTH!

Any comments or suggestions, just reply to this thread. I look forward to hearing your stories.


Missed something? Read more of my latest updates on my Camino:

I’m going for a walk

#MikesLongWalk: An update and my first training walk

Update 2: The sort of final route, other bits and being a rainbow

Planning a camino for a busy guy and his 31kg dog

A week of amazing things.

3 amazing things happened this week

First – the fundraising target for my Long Walk on Camino de Norte was reached in less than 24 hours.
Then I hired a developer to work on an ongoing experiment – SnaptimeApp – and this was the fastest hire on Upwork in 8 years of using the service.
Finally, despite some setbacks, we launched Amazemeet to the world.

Reaching and exceeding my Long Walk fundraising goal

I don’t usually ask people to fund things I believe in – usually I fund to the extent of my means and do the best I can. This time is different.

This time I wanted to create awareness and amplify the amount I was prepared to contribute for a cause so close to my heart.  So I went ahead and created my first ever campaign on Just Giving and set a modest £1000 goal.

Within 12 hours I was 90% to that goal and by the next day , it was entirely funded. This triggered my goal matching and doubled the goal.

To say I’m blown away is an understatement – I was thrilled to tears – sobbing as I read the messages of support and having my faith in humanity rekindled to a blaze.
Thank you so very much.

The campaign has so far raised £2050+ for the Invest in M.E charity.  I have since increased the goal to £3000. There are 15 or so weeks to the start of my walk and there is still plenty of time for you and others to contribute to this effort and truly make a difference getting both help and justice for the sufferers of this brutal condition. Please support generously.

As I chatted with my best friend Joel about how the fundraising was going – he said he had been researching the Camino de Santiago and discovered his family namesake – Robert Langton – the Bishop of Salisbury and Winchester – had also walked and documented his Camino in 1520. So now this is getting weird  but pleasantly so. I guess everything is connected after all.

Record awesome hire on Upwork

Since I joined the freelance work platform in 2007 , I have been convinced that for any digital work,  the future is freelancing and remote freelancing at that and Upwork (formerly oDesk) is an amazing platform dedicated in bringing that future to the present.

In all the time that I have been using it – my average time to find and hire talented people has been pretty short – from 5 hours to a couple of days. This week, however, I beat this record with a time to find and hire of 90 minutes and that included 2 Skype based interviews. That is a phenomenal time – made only possible by the work that Upwork has done to facilitate the interactions between providers and purchasers.

Amazemeet launched

The startup that I have been building for the last 12 months was finally launched this week – although it didn’t go out on the 14th of January as I had hoped – we got it all lined up and released on Saturday 16th January.

This has been a real labour of love and I’m incredibly proud of the work me and my team has done on this. Now to see the workers of the world – fed up with crappy meetings – show it some love.

Please check it out and share it. You may very well save someone’s life with it 🙂

I’m going for a walk

The Short and Sweet

Between May 8th and the 20th , I’ll be walking 214km 240km of the 815km long of the Camino del Norte – the northern route of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.
I’d like you to support me and my selected charity and invite you to join me.

Walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela

Millions of people from all over the world have walked to the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. The routes they have take over the ages are called the Camino.

For whatever the reason people make this ‘pilgrimage’ – spiritual, recreational or simply popping out with the dog for a pint of milk – this is a chance to connect with whatever you need to connect with.  In my case, my dog, myself and your donation for a great cause.

Ultimately I intend to complete the entire 815km northern route in 4 visits. This is the first visit, the second is tentatively planned for September 2016 and the rest in 2017.

You can see more of the route I’ll be taking here.

Make every kilometre count

I’m making this journey because I’m fit and healthy and fancy a walk. There are thousands of sufferers of M.E in the UK  – including my best friend Joel – who can’t walk 100 yards without feeling totally exhausted. They’d love to do this – but they simply cannot.

They – like Joel – used to be fit and healthy until they suddenly got severely sick and never got better –  like a permanent severe flu. Their lives have been put on painful pause by M.E and their recovery put on hold because the UK Government and medical establishment are hiding their heads in the sand on this. It is up to the general public – you , me and InvestinME – to move this forward.

So I need your help.

I need you to put your hand in your pocket and sponsor this walk. My target is £1000 and I’ll even match donations up to that target.
Give what you can and more importantly share this we need to raise awareness  as much as we need to raise money.
Sponsor me here now:
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

About Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E)

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is a systemic neuroimmune condition characterized by post-exertional malaise (a severe worsening of symptoms after even minimal exertion). It causes dysregulation of both the immune system and the nervous system. The effects of ME are devastating enough to leave 25% of patients housebound or bedbound. For moderate to severe patients, living with ME is like living with late-stage cancer, advanced stage AIDS, or congestive heart failure for decades. – www.meaction.net

Living with ME is like living with late-stage cancer? That’s pretty rough – right? Now imagine that is your life for the next 5, 10 or even 15 years,

You would think that with such chronic pain, suffering and lower quality of life affecting so many people with this condition that there would be state funding to fund research into the condition and develop a cure or definitive treatment. Not so – in the UK,  the funding to date – of  £2m over the last 25 years  – is entirely embarrassing.

It simply isn’t good enough and I’m taking this walk partly to raise awareness of both the condition and the lack of emphasis on it. Please help me in doing both.

Join me

My 214km walk is in 10 stages and if you would like to join any of the stages – that would be wonderful. Here are some things you need to be aware of:

  • you need to be fit and able to commit to complete whatever stage(s) you join
  • you’ll need to make your way to the rendezvous location the evening before the start of the stage with whatever gear you need
  • If you would like to do a multi-day walk with me – you might have to rough it. My dog and I plan to camp in a tent most of the time but there are very basic hostels called Albergues that you can bunk in.
  • We’ll walk for 6 – 8 hours a day and eat ,drink, muse and recover for the rest of the time.

If all this still excites you – please send me a mail and lets plan our camino. Please make sure you also make a donation to the cause too 🙂

A Super Special Limited Offer

I’m a sought after world class agile coach – you cannot hire me until 2018 because I’m all booked up to help organisations deliver value more effectively and joyfully . If you would like to spend a day walking and talking about the challenges you are facing as a manager/Scrum Master/whatever in a tech organisation struggling to deliver value effectively – then make a minimum donation of £500 to the cause above,  get your walking boots on and lets talk. I guarantee you it will be the best £500 your company ever spent.

Limited to first 3 people only.

Updates on my Camino

I intend to keep this blog updated of my progress before, during and immediately following the walk – so be sure to bookmark and follow along.

You can also “like” my Facebook page here to stay updated.

Love with Dead Things

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Our walnut tree gives us lovely walnuts and dead leaves. Both are lovely in different ways.

I actually love sweeping up the leaves, hearing them crunch underfoot and , occasionally, making art with them before they go on to the fire heap to get turned into another form of energy.

Take Back Sharing: Why #Uber , #Lyft and #AirBnB are not part of the sharing economy

Sharing is… a babysitting circle

When my wife was growing up, her parents  – like many young parents of the day – needed to organize childcare.

They were far away from extended family and only had other young families around them. So they organised around shared needs – all the young families needed to have some respite from their kids once in a while.

So they formed a babysitting circle. There was no money involved – they simply took turns looking after each others’ children and if someone needed to take multiple turns, they basically gave an IOU and paid back in additional sitting when required.

Sharing is… esusu or a Voluntary Credit Union

Growing up in Yorubaland, there was a credit structure where members contributed a fixed amount into a pot and each month, one of the members would take the entire pot.

Example: if there are 12 friends and each contributes $1000 into the pot every month, then every month, one person could take $12,000. By taking the pot, they go to the end of the queue – they can’t take from the pot for another 11 months.

This structure is great for large purchases or one-off large financial needs. There is no interest or APR nonsense. Simply pooling and sharing of resources. It gave each member the strength of 12, once a year.

Sharing is…. a Lift Into Work

At my very first programming job, I caught a ride with my friend Paul Green.

He had a nice car, I didn’t have one – but more importantly he lived close enough to me and was happy to give me a ride to and from work.

Paul never asked for any payment, though I did buy him a tank of fuel every week or occasionally I paid for his lunch.

Sharing is… street Wi-Fi

When I lived in the UK, I once asked my neighbors if they would like to share WiFi. It made no sense to me that we should each pay £20 a month, when for a single payment of £40 we could buy a router and share only one ADSL subscription.

I was surprised when they declined. You cannot help some people.

Sharing is… oranges and lemons

Today I live in Spain. There are lots of orange and lemon trees and so much fruit is wasted because , often, it is more expensive to pick them and sell them than it is to leave them where they fall.

Most times when we go into my local butcher, we are offered bags of oranges and lemons – for free. Sometimes my other neighbors with orange trees will happily brings us bags of oranges. Free.

Sharing is good. It brings us together, reduces waste and helps us meet our shared needs in a very human way.

And then there are Uber, Lyft and AirBnb

The ‘sharing’ economy has been described as the economy where individuals with an asset – a car or housing – could rent out the asset when they weren’t using it.

How is this sharing? How is this not the same as the Hilton group of hotels renting out its rooms or the Yellow Cab company renting out its spare seats to commuters?

The only difference is that the owner of the asset is an individual, not a recognised business entity. This does not make it sharing. At least not the sharing that generates positive emotion and meeting shared needs.

Calling what Uber, Lyft and AirBnB do ‘sharing’ is fraud. It is a misappropriation of a word. It is a hijacking of a noble intent for the purposes of marketing what are essentially platforms to create small sized businesses, whose motivation is to make money.

Please don’t misunderstand me – I support Uber, Lyft and AirBnb, if only because they are disrupting the established order of things – but I disagree deeply with the use of the word ‘sharing’ to describe what they do. It is nothing more than marketing bullshit.

So I have a really small ask. Uber, Lyft , AirBnB and others in the same mould of creating platforms that enable mass supplier markets; the press that reports on these kind of businesses and everyone involved in them – please stop calling what you do ‘The Sharing Economy’.

Thank you.

Why This Matters

This matters because there is a real sharing economy and it is not driven by profit. Its participants are the kinds I have described above. They are  individuals and businesses who are trading non-financial assets for their own mutual benefits and usually shared need – not profit.

It matters because a sharing economy focuses on shared needs and trust to work together to meet them. It takes deep trust and the skills and emotional investment to establish such trust to make a sharing economy successful. The participants of a sharing economy are not relying on a Terms of Service or the threat of litigation to police their trust based agreement.

It matters because admitting purely transactional, profit driven participants into this economy diminishes everyone else and reduces the power of the idea of sharing. It confers an undeserved legitimacy to such participants like Uber and AirBnb. It is putting the wolves dressed like sheep amongst the sheep.

Do you agree with how ‘sharing’ is being used? What have been your experiences of participating in the sharing economy?

I’d love to talk more about this. Consider leaving a comment below or tweeting @mhsutton.


Featured Image By: vishwaant avkCC BY 2.0

My Offer Of Being Helpful A Little Everyday (almost)

What makes the world go around?  I think part of the secret sauce of what makes the world worth enduring is neither money nor fame. I think that it is being helpful to other people – personally and professionally.

One of my life strategies is giving freely what I have to get what I want. I practice this both professionally and personally and it has overwhelmingly been a successful strategy. Living this way has brought me into some pretty interesting collaborations and I’ve met so many beautiful people.

So I want to do more of this.

I have decided to offer time  – one hour a day, 4 days each week – to anyone, from anywhere to explore anything. 

SoHelpful

 

Details of my Offer

  • I shall be using SoHelpful.me to offer this help and it will be free, forever. Book me on my SoHelpful.me page.
  • The slots are 30 minutes long and to make it most accessible there are slots AM and the PM and are typically available Monday-Thursday.
  • The slots are first come/first served and are open to individuals and groups.
  • It is free to book and meet with me during those times. I will never charge for this time, though I reserve the right to cancel it.
  • Even though it is free – I am asking and trusting that people who book me do not undervalue my time by not showing up without notice.
  • Recurring bookings are discouraged because I want as many people to have a chance to get some help. But I may make exceptions.

How Might You Use This

Here are some ideas depending on your context of how you might use this:

  • You’re thinking of starting a Startup – I can help by sharing what I have done and what I am doing – also what I have learnt. Or mostly I can shut up and listen and help you sanity check your approach, devise experiments etc. Let’s see, why not book a slot on my SoHelpful.me page
  • You’re working in a broken company and need to talk to someone who understands – I work in trying to help broken companies fix themselves and help people get more Joy. I can help with strategies to create awareness for change in your company.
  • You are part of an agile team/department/company and would like to get some help about practices, pains etc – I’ve worked with agile teams for over 12 years and coached companies for over 7. I can help development, product  and management people. Maybe I can remote facilitate something, observe and help you improve your process or help with some mini training. Let’s explore –  book a slot on my SoHelpful.me page
  • You are trying to find strategies for enabling conversations in your circles and life – I struggle with this too and I can help with building rapport, asking powerful questions, facilitating large groups and having non-violent communication. Book a slot on my SoHelpful.me page and let’s get the conversation started.
  • You just need someone to talk to who will listen, never judge and will only offer suggestions if you invite them? Let’s do it – book a slot on my SoHelpful.me page

I’m excited about this decision and my offer. It fulfils my need to be helpful and be the shoulders that others might stand upon as they reach for their stars.

I look forward to being so helpful to you on my SoHelpful.me page 

psst… do someone a favour and share this.


Featured Image By: Murray BarnesCC BY 2.0

Wickedly witty caption seeks hilarious illustration for fun times.

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I recently saw ‘Tangled’ – an animated movie of the Rapunzel story. Very enjoyable.

As it often happens, a funny visual came to mind and an even funnier caption that I would love to match with an illustration to make a single panel comic.

To have maximum effect,  I don’t want to reveal the caption until it is paired with just the right illustration.

As a starting point – I had a Larson-esque style comic in mind, but I’m open to other styles.

Have you got illustrative skills or do you know someone who does and who might be willing to do this for free?  Drop me a comment or tweet me.

What is in it for the artist?

Well,  you get to collaborate on something fairly hilarious.
Lots of people will see it (well, a few really cool people at least)
Also, you get to co-own its copyright (if that floats your boat – although I’m happy to make it CC with attribution)

And if it works out we could make it a regular thing. Who knows where it might lead and who doubts it will be fun getting there?

What you get when you make smart people do stupid things

By: aisling kelliherCC BY 2.0

This post is a little overdue.  I promised my daughter I would post her experience as she described it to me and here it is.

My daughter Brianna is 16.  She is pretty smart (aren’t all our daughters!) and recently did her GCSEs  (the exams young people do in the UK after 5 years of high school).

Actually when I say she did her GCSEs, I mean she did some GCSEs.  You see, Brianna’s been doing them sort of staggered over the course of a couple of years. Her school encouraged her to sit for the subjects she was showing strength in early (like a year early), basically to give her a few chances of getting good grades – a practice run of sorts. It’s a great idea – can’t fault it.  You can use the system as an improvement tool or as a testing only tool. Taking the exams repeatedly and exploring the student’s weak areas and then focusing energy on improving that is a great way to use a dysfunctional system that places so much emphasis on how you do in a 2 hour exam!

Well, Brianna did her English exams earlier on in January and she got a great grade – an A!  So when the exams came round again in June, she was surprised to be told she would retake the English paper. Hadn’t she already aced the exam? She may have had weak parts of her knowledge, but what did those matter if she aced the exam?  In any case, those could be improved without her sitting the paper again.

Side Notes

A side note about exams and the propaganda of how good a school is.  In the UK, schools are judged, in part, on exam results. On how many students got an ‘A’, ‘B’ and so on. Not much is given to the innovation and creative thinking of young people or the real life application of knowledge or how well their learning was facilitated.   As a school, if you put 80 students up for exams and 80 of them got ‘A’ , you are considered the best!

Ok, so now you have an idea of how the system works, perhaps it’s clearer why a school might put a smart kid into the same exam twice.  If she aced it once, she most probably would ace it again – so they get twice  the kudos for the same student.  It’s the kinds of academic double accounting that would delight Enron management. This is what what the Politicians make the ‘educators’ do in order to survive in this system. It’s simply bananas!

Also, a side note about Brianna and exams. They place a strain on Brianna, she gets tired and worn out. Her school know this and yet, knowing fully well both her previous grade and her health concerns they still insisted she sit the paper.

Brianna 10 – Silly School 0

Well, my darling Brianna did something that surprised and delighted me in equal measure.  As she sat for the English paper the second time, she took the decision, independently and without declaration, to stage a most fantastic protest.

She ignored all the set questions on the paper and penned a letter to the unknown examiner. Brianna wrote about pop culture, what bands she loved. She wrote about current news items and ,fantastically, about the unfairness of making a student sit an exam they had already passed, again. In her own words:

.. I wrote my opinion on current pop culture, my opinion on issues in the news currently, why I think it’s unfair to make someone who already achieved their target resit the exam when they have exams they haven’t yet got their grades in. I laid it all out the way we’ve been taught and used all the different presentational features but just didn’t look at the content of the paper

I always knew her intellect was sharp (goodness knows I have been on the receiving end of it once or twice), but to make such a silent yet bold act of protest gives me huge pride and a quiet assurance that at least one young person in this generation of gamers and stylistas is going to give the establishment a run for its money.

There is an examiner out there who marked a paper that was entirely a letter, who – whatever they think of Brianna – cannot have failed to be surprised. I hope as an educator that they recognise that they are not alone in challenging the nonsense that government policy vis-a-vis testing as a means of measuring learning is. I would give that paper a A+ for both ingenuity, civic innovation and creative expression!

From my generation to yours, Brianna, thank you.

An Experiment for Good.

By: PeteCC BY 2.0

 

This weekend I’m taking a break from ServiceChat.

I’ll hang out with my family and go to some friends on Saturday for a BBQ and on Sunday, we’ll head to Salobreña for our first San Juan celebration (no , I don’t really know what it is either!).

This weekend also, I want to try a little experiment, an experiment for good – well, at least start it off.  It is a lovely juxtaposition between my dream and an idea for a game that I have kept putting off.

The Dream

All through my career I’ve met people who have said things like ‘give X away!? why – I’m not a philanthropist’ or ‘why give it when you can sell it’. I’ve quietly listened and argued with that thinking internally.

I am a philanthropist, there I said it.  It’s not a dirty word (at least not how I interprete it). I don’t have much money, nor even much free time.  But I do have creativity, innovation, curiosity and skills and I can/will and do give those and their various products freely to those who can benefit from it.

When I dream about my future, it always involves a few businesses that are generating incomes sure, but also joy.  The money they generate is doing something wonderful in the world, not simply going to pay for expensive, unnecessary stuff.  I’m delighted that I don’t have to wait long to start doing this – I support a few charities but mostly use Kiva to do microlending.  I find microlending to be one of the most respectful and empowering ideas of our age (if you aren’t already doing micro-lending, I encourage you to check it out, you don’t need very much to start and the joy you generate far outweighs whatever limited risk of losing money there is).

The Idea

It’s called Twumps and it’s a game. If  you ever played trading game cards or something like Top Trumps – a stats comparison game based around themed cards, you’ll love what I want to make.
Plus you don’t even have to wait very long to experience it.

The Experiment

Here is what I want to discover:

Can I launch a revenue generating thing that pretty much runs itself and use that to perpetually and increasingly fund the change I want to see in the world?

So, I want to build something (Twumps) that people can play and enjoy and possibly either make donations to or pay something for (this will emerge) and/or generate advertising from and can I extend that by making it continuously and totally fund some good in the world.

How

I want this experiment to be done as transparently as possible. Why?  Well, why not?

Prior to its release, I’ll open a new @kiva account for Twumps  and make it’s transactions public.  Initially I will make all  revenue payable to Kiva directly  (from donations or advertising). If this experiment succeeds, I may deduct enough to cover operating costs (pretty much just the hosting) to keep it running smoothly and pass everything else to @Kiva.  All those costs will also be entirely transparent.

Who knows, this might encourage other entrepreneurs to consider this as a business model – only one in which they do not personally benefit financially but one that they can leave a living trust for good work in the World. Now wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing?

What Next?

Stay tuned, I shall be asking for help.
Very soon I shall need some UI and graphic design help (I’m great at functionality but suck at making things look wow!) and later I shall need players and feedback and later still I shall need things yet unknown!

It’ll be fun.

ps. Please share this.

A Nugget of Delight and Hope for the UK

There is plenty to be cynical in the UK about these days, but during a recent trip (and farewell tour through my old neighbourhood) I found an unexpected nugget of delight that fills me with hope for the future of government engagement in the UK.

Broken Toys and a Note

I used to live in Tamworth, Staffordshire – famous for pigs and the Robert Peel (founder of the modern British police force ‘The Bobbies’).  It is also famous for a castle that marks the seat of the Mercian kings.  Today there is a play area in the Castle grounds that delights modern little princes and princesses alike.

As I wondered through the Castle ground play area with my sons on Friday 04/Jan/2013 – I noticed an area of cordoned off fencing around some play equipment that had been removed.  I knew this equipment, it was in the under fives area and was one of those round-about installations where people get on, and someone pushes really fast and everyone feels queasy with possible projectile vomiting 😉

Now it was gone. In its place was this note, attached to the fencing.

 

This note delighted me so deeply I thought I might share it with you. It says to me that all is not lost within the heart of the State.

I really think that this approach/idea is brilliant and its originator ( Peter Watkins – the person listed on the email  or whoever ) should be commended.  It seems like a genuine interest in trying to engage with their actual users – being humorous,  speaking directly to the children who will use the equipment and offering them simple and descriptive choices of what they prefer.  It demonstrates putting children first and being prepared to listen. Something, sadly, we are seeing less and less of with the UK government.

The area is under the administration of Tamworth Borough Council and I sincerely hope that this is only one example of delightful engagement and interaction with the population of Tamworth.  I would love to hear of more.

Help Me Amplify Goodness

Hey, if you think this is a step in the right direction, please would you consider to do me a favour – tweet about this or perhaps say ‘Hello’ to Peter Watkins at the address above and let him know that you think this is a great idea.  I believe that those of us who work for a world with less distance between people must encourage the behaviour we want to see in this world and not let goodness go unacknowledged.  It doesn’t matter whether you are in the UK or not nor that you think they are just doing their job (in fact I think it matters most!)

What do you think?  Have you seen simple acts of delight that you would like to share – I would love to hear them.

 

 

Waking To Her

the sunbeam dances on the wall

as i stir from my slumber

lighting my return from night to day.

the twilight journey was as a

voyage upon hostile waters

tossed about on an ocean of restless nightmares.

as i reached her shore

the calm, quiet like a walk in a grassy meadow

full of birdsong, sunshine and flower scent,

embraces my weary vessel into its

blessed harbour.

it is morning and all is well,

her smile reassures my beaten soul,

her arms cradling my tired form.