Inside the hurt locker!

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, I was a fortunate participant in my cycling club’s annual Humber Bridge Audax. Every year Huddersfield Star Wheelers meet up at Huddersfield train station and set off on an epic flat ride (flat for us anyway) out to the Humber Bridge and back in a day. In the previous years, I’ve not been available to join the ride as it has always been on the late May bank holiday weekend, but this year we had nothing planned and I was given the proverbial “day pass”. This year was also different too, it was now an official open Audax and therefore open to all clubs so a total of 90 riders were expected to join in the fun.

I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it either! My training, in the build-up to the event, had been marred by illnesses and a severe lack of time in the saddle, raising my concerns of even completing it, nevermind being able to keep up with my usual riding partners. As the day grew ever closer, a watchful eye on the weather for the event turned up the paranoia one notch further. We were forecast an outbound tailwind, but a fairly brisk headwind on the return leg and every cyclist I know knows what that means when you’ve already got 120km in your legs before the turn. So throughout the week preceding Sunday’s epic adventure, my inner voice was formulating all kinds of excuses as to why I could fail and why it might not be a good idea to even embark upon such a journey.

It was Thursday, however, when I set my mind somewhat at ease. I completed my last “hard” short training session and smashed an arbitrary goal I’d been seeking for years, on my VLC (virtual lunchtime commute). I felt good that evening and at least the weather forecast hadn’t gotten any worse since the beginning of the week so I settled the argument with the voice and told him I was doing it.

Friday I coached, Saturday I coached, Sunday I woke early and had a VERY large portion of porridge. The day had finally arrived and I set off on a cool and drizzly Sunday morning for the 8am station meeting point. I set off in good time so I took it fairly steady, as it was going to be a long day out. When I got there, I met up with a whole bunch of familiar faces telling tales of the suffering of years gone by and I was all on, to tame the “told you so” voice in my head. I also heard that the “Steady Eddies” were already long gone, as they had taken it upon themselves to leave at 6.30 so as not to be returning way after dark, so my get out of jail free card of riding at a more sedate pace had already been used up, unless of course, we could catch them up.

We set off and the large group was very quickly split with a pacier bunch making a break due to traffic signals riding through town. By the time we reached the roundabout at Grange Moor, there were a number of very distinct groups and I found myself at the front of the second one of these groups. As the undulating terrain through Flockton began, it became clear that a couple of the riders our group were new to this form of riding and this caused for some early concertina-ing, which can be quite energy sapping. After the second rise, when the front two riders rapidly scrubbed off speed as opposed to just digging in a little, I let my momentum carry me through and then put in a few strong pedal strokes to carry me to the top of the hill. This quickly formed a gap of around 200m, after continuing at that pace on the flat for a while, and as I came round the corner I caught sight of the leading group, about 250m ahead. I was between a rock and hard place. I decided to just keep on pedalling and hoped that I would either be able to tag onto the back of the leading group or get swallowed up by the trailing second group as my energy drained. Fortunately, my good friend Steve had registered what had happened and picked up the pace of the trailing pack and they caught me about 100m out from the leading group. We made up ground towards them fairly swiftly and before we reached West Bretton Roundabout the leading group was now around 24 or more strong.

Using the tailwind to our advantage we made great progress out to the first checkpoint and took a wise decision not to hang about more than to get our cards stamped and fill up our water bottles. By this time the sun had also come out and what started out as a grey drizzly morning turned into a wonderful sunny day.

The halfway point of Humber Bridge was the next stop and, having lost a couple to the lure of a longer rest and ride out at a more sedate pace, we set off again around 22 strong. The pace was, once again, pretty stiff but even with an unbalanced load sharing on the front it still made it attainable for everyone involved and we arrived at the Bridge ahead of the Steddie Eddies. They did clock us though! And sneakily snuck into the cafe ahead of us whilst we took a photo opportunity 🙂

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Refuelled and ready to go, although my food arrived delayed and I was forced to leave 1/2 a coffee cake and 1/4 of a baked potato as a result, we started our return journey.

The headwind very quickly made itself known and we had to arrange the group on the fly to balance the load sharing much more evenly. To a large extent this worked well and our average speed, although taking a hit, didn’t diminish too much. It did, however, take its toll and there were a few who could no longer take their turn at the front. On one occasion this was me too, as two of the stronger riders in front of me pushed up the pace so much that I was struggling to hold on whilst directly behind them and so when it came to me doing my bit I lasted no more than a minute or two before having to own up and calling for some assistance from behind. We reached the final checkpoint at the same time as this same group in the previous year had only just left the Bridge, and Dick wasn’t going to allow us much time to breathe before rallying us all back together to continue. With one energy spent casualty having to stay behind at the stop, we received a rousing and very clear instructional speech from Jonny asking those who could do their bit to do it, but to, this time, keep the pace more reasonable as we all needed to get back together. At this point, I held my hand up to announce that I would struggle to do my bit but I’d give it a go as did two or three others, honesty was needed at this point.

It was in this final leg of the journey which found me sat inside the hurt locker. I’d done 2 turns on the front, despite announcing I probably wouldn’t be able to, but with 30 miles (50km) left to go, I was hurting badly. The next 15 miles (25km) I was in a pretty dark place, every slight elevation caused me pain but I managed to work through it and by the end of it I still managed to enjoy the final 15 back to the starting point and didn’t hold up the group all too much either.

After 7h44m34s in the saddle, I’d managed to complete 237km at an Avg of 30.6kmh making this the longest ride I’ve done to date. It is a credit to the group that I rode with, as much as anything else, as to why I accomplished this in the way that I did and I’d like to thank each and every one of them for their encouragement, support and laughter when it mattered most. You are a credit to your clubs and yourselves and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the day. And yes, even when I was sat in the hurt locker!

Cheers

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Taking myself away

As I’ve mentioned on a few occasions over the last few months, I’ve been practising mindfulness meditation since the beginning of the year, and I’ve found it to be extremely powerful. So when I awoke to the horrific news from the centre of Manchester this morning, just 35 minutes away from where I live, I was grateful that this practice has become part of my morning ritual. As the morning’s news later unfolded and the details of the trauma and devastation it had caused to the family, friends and public services were unveiled, there was nothing more needed than an extended lunchtime walk into the Pennines.

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These hills are just 15 to 20 minutes walk away from my front door and I am eternally thankful that I returned to them in 2003, after an 18-year absence. I find an immense amount of peacefulness when I’m alone in them and today, solitude was just what I needed.

It is during these times of nationwide sorrow that I believe the practice of inward reflection is such a valuable skill to have. It is all too easy for people to start accusing one thing and another for the atrocities that have occurred and in so doing, stirring up more tension in an already snare drum taught situation. I don’t exempt myself from this either, my initial emotions of pure hatred towards the perpetrators were so violently charged that I was shaking with rage. However, I applied my acceptance principals, not of the act but of the feelings, and was later in a position to uncover where they really came from and why. This did not, in any way, diminish the abhorrent levels of disgust for the ones who carried out this mindless act of inhumane violence towards children, but it did allow me to not fuel their crusade by vowing for revenge. Violence has never defeated violence in any situation ever, over the long term. It has always been love and compassion that has finally conquered.

Whilst the horrors of last night are still so raw, it is hard to believe that there won’t be violent repercussions of one sort or another and there are those who will justify their actions on a world stage. However, I make a very humble plea to everyone, please, don’t fight fire with fire! We are not going to resolve this with bombs, guns and reciprocating violence. Anyone who has had any form or military training knows, that the most effective way to neutralise your enemy is to take away their communication lines and their funding.

So these awful examples of the human race thrive on social media and electronic messaging. Please, before you re-post ANYTHING, check the source. Don’t allow their network of followers to grow through inadvertently advertising for them.

And finally, to all the leaders of the world, there is enough anecdotal and physical evidence available to your country’s intelligence services to allow you the luxury of understanding who is funding these organisations, so just STOP trading with them! Regardless of what that means to your GDP. One parent’s child’s life is worth more than the world’s GDP combined and the sooner we accept this the sooner we can quench the radical fires of terrorism.

Accepting things for what they are.

Hello, I’m back! I have taken a couple of weeks off from both writing and work and during this time I’ve been given some space to reflect on a few areas of my life, as well as what’s happening in the wider world.

It is amazing how quickly life moves on in just two weeks. The escalation of the tensions between the US and North Korea, a call for a snap general election here in the UK, France now have two totally different political parties fighting for votes in their general election and large numbers of foreign fighters and sympathisers are abandoning the Islamic State and trying to enter Turkey, just to name a few. Keeping up with these developments is a full-time job in its own right, that’s what journalists are paid to do, so trying to make any sense of it on a part-time basis is near-on impossible.

We are, however, compelled to try and understand these things, especially when at the end of a dedicated time-frame there is an important choice to make, such as our general election, but the volume of noise polluting and distorting the facts makes that job of understanding all the more complex.

I have therefore joined hundreds of other like-minded people in my slightly nonchalant acceptance of what’s happening and said “I will make up my own mind as and when I need to put my cross on the ballot paper arises. I won’t try to impress my opinions and viewpoints on anyone else, that is the job of a politician, one from which they earn a living. All I will say is that each and every one of us, who is eligible to vote, should go out there and do so. Only then will a fair representation of the general public’s will, become apparent. No matter what that will is, or has become”

Taking this to a deeper level by accepting my feelings as they unfold and not the cause of those feelings, I am able to use the phrase, ” I accept these things for what they are”. This allows me to create a space for those feelings to develop and show themselves for what they truly are. When I investigate these further I can stop reacting to the initial “fight, flight, freeze” instructions and start to uncover what’s really going on.

This practice has proven to be very helpful during my time alone with my two little ones too, during which there were far more smiles than tears. Now I would dare to say that this constitutes to an excellent way to spend your time off and a great way to recharge your batteries for the next 1/4.

TGL

Take your time, if you want to speed things up.

I am a fairly recent meditation convert! For me, it has become a habitual part of my day and without it, I no longer feel as though I have maximised my potential for that day. It is quite astonishing how much more I have been able to achieve purely by taking more time out to complete a human defrag.

Keeping on topic about AI, which we’ve been covering over the last few posts, I think the analogy of a defragmentation is perfect. Most of you will have experienced the effect of running a defrag on your PC at one point in time and you will have experienced how much quicker it becomes as a result. So imagine doing this on a daily basis in your head. The time spent doing it is such a positive investment as results are increasingly demonstrating to me on a daily basis.

The mind is, of course, itself a computer and one which is far more complex than the manufactured ones we use in our daily working life. So imagine how many broken fragments of information are scattered within it and how crazy the filing systems and archives are which are used to retrieve this information. By taking the time to become more present and to start registering thoughts without acting upon them, we gain an amazing ability to reset and restore those fragments in a much more balanced environment. This makes the recollection of them more readily accessible and is the main reason why the art of slowing down to speed up works so well.

When you continue with this practice, the mind, body and soul all gradually begin to work in unison and things that were previously viewed as highly important, frequently end up on a metaphorical leaf floating away down the river into the infinity of “none-pertinent”

So in a similar vein, the decluttering of my CRM over these last few months has revealed some significant leaf floaters, ones where my energy of the past has been misguided and has consequently now been refocussed on areas which are far more important. This has been one of a series of recent exercises which have yielded far more progression than my previous status quo of trying to do a little bit of everything for everyone.

So yes, my life is still very busy and prioritising is still a must, but by slowing things down and taking time out to meditate I have found that I’ve managed to find more time and not lost time. If you haven’t tried it, don’t knock until you do and if you have tried it but it didn’t work, then maybe seek some professional guidance because I can assure you, it really does work.

Remember! In sales the only real finite resource you have is time, so use it wisely.

The power of communication and what this means for Article 50

So last week I wrote about the dimensions of communication and I was flattered by the response I received. But the biggest impact by far was that only a day or two after first releasing the post that I was hit with the epiphany about what it is we provide in the language industry.

Synopsis:

Over a number of years now I’ve been asking myself what it is I actually do that helps others. Don’t get me wrong I know that I help people and businesses but what is it exactly that they get from me? After writing my, to date, best blog of the year last week I had an epiphany. Whatever way you want to frame it, the answer to long term question has been answered and the answer is pretty simple, but still very profound. I help people communicate in such a manner that they build trust with people who do not speak their language.

With the submission, today, of Article 50 there is never a more important time in our country’s recent history where communication in multiple languages is going to be of utmost importance. And building new foundations of trust are absolutely paramount.

The power of communication

Throughout our entire lives, we’re influenced by our environment and those who communicate within it. It is initially how we gain the knowledge of our first language, but it goes far deeper than that. Our political viewpoints, our life lessons, our futures all begin with how we are communicated to and from where; making things extremely complicated when we get older if our views later differ from those of whom we uphold the greatest amount of respect. When this happens it demonstrates a level of adult development beyond that of the majority (72%), as they have begun their transition into Postconventional Understanding.

If you find the time to read the paper on Ego Development Theory by Susanne Cook-Greuter you’ll gain significant insight into this fascinating area of behavioural science. In short, those who can “break the mould” and begin thinking individually, and further, are the ones who have a significantly more grounded understanding of how important communication really is and rather than impose this upon others, they are more likely to listen and question their own views in order to further their own understanding and development.

Volume of noise

As we here in the UK enter into the next phase of our country’s history, there is going to be a huge amount of rhetoric from both divides rebuking and counter claiming the other sides “body of Truth”. Sadly for us to be able to hear the real discussions we have to filter out all this noise and begin to look for those individuals who demonstrate a far greater propensity to listen and review than they do posturing as “know it alls”. It is often said that the ones to be more mindful of are the quietest in the room and this is very sound advice. All of that said, Article 50 has now been instigated and there is going to be some significant shouting to filter out over the coming 2 years but we, the United Kingdom, need to also become the most attentive listeners throughout this period.

Communication channels

Throughout the Article 50 process, we’re going to be engaged in negotiations with countries who’s primary language is NOT English. (Oh yeah, that old chestnut!!) Well yes, in fact, older than you may think. Religious or not what was written in the 1 Corinthians 14: 10-12 is probably more important on this, 29th March 2017 than ever before.

Quote: “Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. If I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me.”

We HAVE to ensure that over the next 24 months our message is clear, concise and in a language that the receiving party understands. This does not just mean the translated text it means the context of what we are saying needs to be expressed within that text. The people we are negotiating with, need to believe us, trust us and moreover have a positive emotional connection with us. If the information we provide them with does not convey these messages then our future, and that of our children and grandchildren will be in serious jeopardy.

Conclusion

To keep this short I will say this, never has the importance of my job seemed so significant. And never before has an epiphany of that importance arrived in such a timely manner. Accurate communication creates trust, and trust is what builds long-term relationships.

TGL-2017

Within what dimension is AI communication?

Before I start I have to warn you that this blog is going to be a little longer than you’re used to from me!

Synopsis:

AI is a new buzz word amongst a number of my peers in the language industry and it spans across a variety of other industry sectors too. It has been given an elevated profile in recent months with the introduction of NMT (Neural Machine Translation) by Microsoft and Google. This, in simplistic terms, is machine translation in a large neural network trained by deep structured learning techniques. The results are producing some “human-like” translated content, even if the source of the original content is not entirely accurate. They believe that the accuracy will follow over time, and I don’t doubt that it will get better, but these results could have a more sinister impact in today’s modern communication absorption than on face value. I blogged about this previously. Since writing that piece I’ve been privileged to speak with some highly read individuals on the subject matter of AI, one such person was Marc Cohn who is the VP of Network Strategy at The Linux Foundation, and this has opened up my thoughts to a whole new take on why humans and human contact is so much more important when communicating.

The dimensions of communication:

In order to put this into context, I have broken up the way we communicate and given them dimensions.

Frist Dimension – The written word:

The written word is extremely powerful, as the saying goes “the pen is mightier than the sword” but it lacks in so much in depth and colour. Some of the best authors in the world can evoke these images but each one of those images is personal to you and your own journey to the point in time at which you read the words. How many times have you returned to a book, re-read it, and then seen it in a different way? The point is; we create the texture of what we are consuming from the written word based on our beliefs, state of mind, the speed we’ve read it and numerous other, outside and inside, influences. We’ve no doubt all experienced the social media Keyboard Warriors who then suddenly went silent after something was explained to them over the phone.

Second Dimension – The spoken word:

That leads me quite seamlessly into the second dimension, the spoken word. Our choice of vocabulary, our intonation, our breathing, our volume levels all add another level of understanding to the communication. Unlike the written word, when spoken we can express a simple word like “really” to be one of surprise or one of distrust.  A simple tut after hearing a long explanation as to where you were last night, speaks volumes and evokes feelings in both the respondent as with the receiver not possible without wordy exclamation or emoticons.

Third Dimension – Pictures or images:

The reason so many of us use emoticons is because we need to portrait a feeling visually in accompaniment to the written word. “A picture paints a thousand words” is very true and by coupling the written word together with images or emoticons, we can deliver a richer more lifelike message to the recipient but lacking once again the intonation of the spoken word.

Fourth Dimension – Video and Film:

One of the marketing successes of this generation is creating video content which goes viral. Merging the spoken word with moving images evokes a whole new level engagement with the recipient’s emotions and when done right can create an internet success almost overnight. Sadly it can also be used to evoke emotions such as existential angst, anger and other such ugly feelings resulting in fruitful recruiting grounds for those in society with different moral beliefs than the majority of us.

Fifth Dimension – Live music:

When moving into the direct communication from one human being to another there is nothing more powerful than live music. Thought provoking, beautiful poetry arranged skillfully with musical accompaniment and delivered live on stage is about as intimate as it can get in one-way communication. Yes, there’s an argument that the artist delivering this also get’s their feedback from the reaction of the audience making it a two-way communication of sorts, but this is limited to the message being given and does not diverge greatly from the original message. Obviously, this is very subjective and again the recurring theme of the present moment comes back.

Sixth Dimensions – Group meetings:

Meetings all tend to have some form of agenda, otherwise what is the point of having a meeting right? So when these happen there is generally some steer as to where the conversation is going to go. In a business meeting with more than 3 or 4 people present, it is good practice to have a chair of the meeting and with greater numbers, especially when it comes to negotiations, observers are a must. The communication here is usually divided into pack communication and if there are more than 2 packs they can get very loud and disjointed resulting in them becoming difficult to chair. Rules and guidelines of how to conduct oneself at these meetings will add another level of constraint and complexity to the event and in these cases, a single person needs to provide the authority and purvey over the order of the meeting. – The speaker in the house of commons is a prime example of somebody taking on this role. This communication level is rarely very intimate and emotions are usually evoked by pack mentality and belonging.

Seventh Dimension – Face to Face, or One on One

Before I being this final one, I would like to say that all the dimensions listed do not extend outside of the physical realm. I am aware that there is an etheric level of communications that stretches far beyond the limitations of our physical one, but this is neither the time or place to expand on that. There are also others with far greater knowledge and experience in that field, who can guide you through those if you have the desire to understand more.

Face to Face contact adds the final layer to our cake. Not only do we have the optical stimuli such as eye contact, hand gestures and other body movements, we also have all our other senses, smell, touch, and that all important gut feeling (and yes, this does stretch into the etheric). The power of being in the same room as another human being and being able to converse with one another freely is second to none. Engaging with all 5 (or 6) of the senses immerses one in the full spectrum of available emotions and is by far the most revered form of communication available to any sales professional.

Why AI will never replace human beings in sales:

Taking the above into consideration, it is quite easy to see why AI will not be able to replace sales professionals, but only if both parties value human contact. If you’re a sales person hiding behind social media and emails then you either need to up your game or leave the profession. It really is that simple! AI will certainly become good at recognising some written emotions, and most likely good enough to evoke a purchasing decision in a purely transactional sale such as the purchase of most things you find on Amazon, but it won’t be able to create the content needed to steer people down a purchasing decision that goes beyond that. And it certainly is not good enough to produce the levels of emotions created by books like the Haemin Sunim’s “The things you see only when you slow down”. Similarly, back to my industry, the content created by human linguists in marketing and such like will be extremely difficult to reproduce by the likes of NMT.

Where do you conduct most of your communication?

So far AI has managed to encroach into one or two dimensions of communication making it a fairly flat and mundane form, but they are certainly working on others. However, due to the complexity of the physical realm alone, it will be a long time before they can move it away from this flat communication field. It is in this communication field where I see a large portion of my peers hanging out too and consequently where a large amount of scaremongering content is being produced. This volume of content is clouding the overall reality in my view. There is so much noise about unprecedented job losses through to machines taking over the world with an Orwellian precision that it is often all too easy to just sit back and believe it. Yes, AI can determine your emotion by what you post on your Facebook page, but this is ultimately down to you. So be honest how often are your true emotions revealed on your Facebook page? Right now there are only a select few who know your innermost thought, in fact probably only 1 if you don’t believe, and two or more if you do believe.

So in a business world you ultimately have to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do my clients what to engage with me?
  • How do I communicate with them right now?
  • In which dimension do I produce most of my content?
  • Can I move clients from one dimension to another?
  • Are my clients wanting to move to another dimension?
  • Does what I provide need a deeper and richer understanding?

In summary, there is a lot of good coming from AI and over the years that follow it will only get better. Yes, there are going to be some job losses, as there were in the industrial revolution, but there will also be new opportunities too. However, despite the quickening of the pace of innovation, things will not change overnight and we will all have the time to adjust, who would have thought 10 year’s ago you’d be reading this on a mobile phone (statistically that’s what 60% of you will be doing), but again there’s nothing wrong with that. But here’s the thing,

So here’s the thing, AI technology is here to stay! It is being used in all manner of ways but the one area I don’t believe it will ever take over is real and in-depth communication.

 

Did you already hit your quota for the year? – March 2017

It is trade show fever right now! The beginning of the new financial year is around the corner for some, and it is the end of Q1 for others, but one thing is for sure, everyone is out touting for new business. – Well almost everyone.

I certainly am, I’m attending event after event and typically ones where existing clients are exhibiting. I’m using this time to visit some of our existing clients to ensure that we’re doing all we can to help them and then scouting around for new business in areas that I know we have a catalogue of demonstrable success and consequently very happy customers.

It is actually a really exciting part of my job, albeit a bloody tiring one. Travel, coupled with poor sleep and lack of my usual exercise regimes, all contribute to this depletion of energy but the buzz from speaking with people who I’m certain we can help, more than makes up for it. It is my personal business vice.

So this week I’ve been in our capital city, London. I enjoy my short trips to the capital, however, I have to say that I am glad that I don’t have to live there. The exhibitions I visited this week were very well attended on both days I was there and I had a number of thoroughly engaging dialogues with a great number of potential new clients, notwithstanding some amazing feedback from our existing ones. This clearly added to my good mood, which was established over the weekend prior to it by a truly exhilarating and totally awe inspiring concert from the incredibly talented Laura Marling.

Being in this mindset has enabled me to be present, attentive and empathetic with everyone I met, both at the event as well as travelling to and from it and whilst dining out throughout the 3 days I was away from the office. This presence also allowed me to become an observer from time to time and it was during this observation phase that my blood boiled over once again.

You may remember my rant– no sorry blog post — about mobile phones a few weeks back and my list of dos and don’ts whilst working a booth at a trade event. Quite evidently these guys didn’t get the memo.

PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN

I spent approximately 5 minutes watching them before taking this photo and during which time I estimated somewhere around 20 to 25 people stopped and took an interest in their products/ services, picked up a brochure and then walked on. Not once did any one of the 3 sales guys manning the stand look up or engage with anyone during that time. I can only assume that they had all hit their sales quota for the year and were simultaneously closing 3 individual million dollar deals on their phones……No???? Yeah me neither!

So come on, is it any wonder that our profession gets a bad press when this kind of attitude is deemed as acceptable behaviour during an expensive show in the heart of the London Docklands.

I must also say that this wasn’t the only exhibit of poor booth practice I experienced during my time away, but fortunately, I was also blessed with the other end of the spectrum too, a casing example of which was Brother UK.

All in all the quality of the show, exhibitors and new client leads generated was exceptional this week and the follow-up work it has generated should keep me out of trouble for a month or two.

TGL

Wake up and smell the coffee

Every day I have a cup of coffee in fact on the odd occasion I’ll have two, however, the way I indulge in my coffee experience has changed significantly over time.

When I first began to drink this wonderful brown liquid it was way back in the late 70s early 80s and, as with most of us here on this island, it was a cup of instant coffee granules mixed with sugar, milk and water straight out of a boiling kettle. The result was a cup of hot brown stuff that, at the time, tasted pretty good. Today though it has become a work of art!

V60 with wet coffee filters, 21g of freshly ground artisan roasted coffee beans, and 300ml of water poured very slowly (approximately 2 to 3 minutes) over the grounds at a temperature between 92 and 94 degrees centigrade. Not a gramme of sugar in sight and when adding it to my trusty coffee thermos I heat up 100ml of full-fat milk and pour that in first.

All this provides me with a total of 350ml of a wonderful tasting, silky smooth caffeine delight to enjoy throughout my morning’s work and I can honestly say that I savour every drop. – (350 ml because about 50ml remains soaked up by the coffee grounds)

The journey I’ve travelled to get to this point is interesting, and the cups, or at times buckets, consumed have been considerable. But what is clear is that this journey is one that I am still travelling upon and though I am completely satisfied with the results I have today, who’s to say that tomorrow there won’t be another twist or turn in the story which could introduce me to another new technique or process delivering an equally outstanding taste experience difference as with the instant to today.

This is certainly true in the world of localisation too. In order to be on top of your game in this industry, you need to be able to embrace and adapt to change, provided it results in a better outcome for the end client. Of course, there are going to be those clients where the “instant” fix will be all they need or indeed want, but that may very well be because they haven’t sampled the full V60 version yet.

So I would like to set you a challenge today. When was the last time you took a look at your translation or localisation process? When did you last review your desired outcomes? Are you living in the new age or are you still stuck in the 80s? If you want to drop me a line with your contact number to talk about this I’ll schedule a call with you. You never know you might actually be surprised at what you can achieve beyond your current cup of instant.

Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS)

Over the weekend I was privileged to be able to offer some of my time to helping others in a sport I adore. As some of you will be aware I am a qualified British Cycling level 2 coach and throughout the year I have the joy of sharing my passion with all kinds of people from all walks of life and in all age groups. I regularly feel like this is pure selfish indulgence as I can pretty much guarantee that I get just as much out of it as those do who I am honoured to coach. Nonetheless it is purely a voluntary position and therefore it does have to fit in around my other commitments and getting that balance right can sometimes be a challenge.

When Sunday morning arrived I wasn’t entirely rested as the night was a little shorter than usual due to a late night with my lovely wife and then an early wake-up call from my energetic little 3 year old son resulted in some very tired eyes. After a quick breakfast I embarked upon the trip over the Pennines to the the National Cycling Centre in Manchester to be greeted by a very friendly face and a VERY welcomed cup of coffee.

After a short introduction we were split up into 2 main groups and logically all the coaches were together in one group whilst the volunteers were in another. We, the coaches, were then taught the latest in coaching techniques to facilitate the further development of FMS.

So what is FMS? – For those of you who remember the youthful days of climbing hills and trees, jumping in and out of back gardens and kicking a ball around an empty field; you’ll be subconsciously more than familiar with FMS. It is, as the name suggests,  “Fundamental Movement Skills”. What is very sad about having to be taught how to teach these is the fact that we now have a second generation growing up in the western world who do not have them. As for the first generation it is already too late for them to ever reach their full sporting potential in a large majority of cases, but it ISN’T too late to reverse a significant portion of the damage already inflicted; if we all take ownership of what it is we’re failing to do right now.

FMS then! The ability to perform simple tasks such as jumping, skipping, kicking, hopping turning, twisting, balancing, catching, rolling…. the list goes on. It is brutally alarming that we’ve already got one generation arriving into their adult life who are missing these basic skills and a second generation already in the making with the same deficit. Why?? well the simple answer is us! We are to blame really. We’ve allowed our children to not become bored, we’ve wrapped them up in cotton wool and we’ve created a society where protectionism prevails over common sense. We give them electronic entertainment devices to feed their need for everything to happen right here and now and they rarely go outside, especially if its raining, to enjoy simple playtime with their peers.

It has therefore become my job, and coaches like me, to help children find their FMS so that when their raw talent does shine through, and they are picked to progress into the elite training environments of our sport, that they do have a chance to attain their full potential because they’re no longer lacking the Fundamentals.

Applying this same logic to the world of business I wonder how long it will be before we realise that we’ve also got a “fundamental management skills” deficit and that this selfsame protectionism (or as I like to call it the “passing the book” attitude) has resulted in a wave of talent coming through who no longer know how to take ownership. They’ve never been allowed to fail as somebody has always found an excuse for them, “Oh the resources weren’t available sorry they couldn’t deliver on time” or “Ah yes the power went down so they didn’t have access to the internet” or “Actually they did deliver 2 out of 4 so I think that’s good enough don’t you?” Consequently they have now been attuned into finding the blame elsewhere rather than looking at themselves first, and all this from a very early age.

I really don’t want this to be viewed as a “When I were a lad” post, because it isn’t. I’m actually taking ownership of this outcome. I want everyone who reads this to think about their own situation, as a parent, as a business owner or as an employee and ask yourself a simple question. How does what I do make a difference?, and more importantly, what is the difference that it makes? Once you’ve rekindled yourself with this then apply a few basic foundation building skills of your own so that our younger generation can grow up and gain a full and extensive experience of real life, with all it’s beauty and hardship that comes with it. Encourage them to take ownership of their own outcomes and give them the confidence that they can tell you when they’ve messed up without the fear of you blowing your top and then covering up for them. Together we can help realign the next generation of talent with reality, because the world they are going to be living in will be far more demanding than the one we’re all living in right now. It is our duty to ensure that they have the Fundamental Skills of Life to prosper in it.

Feel free to let me know how and what you’ve done.

TGL

Just as true today as it was 4 years ago

A little under 4 Year’s ago I posted a blog about people’s search activity and when I read it today I thought that it would be a great idea to re-post it, as the content is just as valid, if not more so, as it was back then. Instead I’ve copied the content into a new post so that I could add an interesting little footnote.

MAY- 2013

I recently read a post by Barry Schwarzt that highlighted a decision which Google made to drop a service that they said was rarely used and this action got me thinking about why this might be.

Very simply put the service enabled users to type in search criteria in a their native (source) language and then use a drop down tab to choose a different language to search in.  Google would then use its own Google translate MT engine to fulfil the search request in that language and produce the results, again using Google translate, in the original source language .

It was particularly useful if you were searching for legislation changes in foreign countries, market leading influencers in industry sectors in foreign countries and invaluable when researching companies or individuals in foreign countries.

Now some of you may be asking “what’s the big deal? I only ever search in my own language anyway” well that’s the point.  Google has evaluated this service and decided that its usage is so negligible that maintaining it as a service is not worth it.  In other words “People only search in their native language!”

So why is this?

  • Is it because people don’t trust Google translate? There are enough horror stories around to suggest that this could be one of the reasons.
  • Is it because people didn’t even know the service existed? Another very plausible possibility; I certainly only found out about it through accident and I would consider myself fairly tech savvy.
  • Or is because we humans are just too frightened of making a mistake and therefore adding another potential failure variable into our search for answers is just a variable too far?

My personal belief is that it is predominantly just human nature and that we are predisposed to take the easy, or tried and tested, option.  If we haven’t been shown how to use something or don’t understand how to use something then we just won’t do it, which leads me nicely on to why over 72% of internet users only visit sites in their native language and why over 52% will not buy ANYTHING from a website which is not in their native language and only 30% will buy something if the Ts&Cs are in their native language.

Consider the following:

You are walking down the high street and there are two shops both advertising the same thing in the shop window.  Shop 1 is selling this item at a price which is 10% more than Shop 2. The problem is Shop 2 is selling a Dunstabzugshaube and all the specifications are in German.  Shop 1, however is selling an Oven Extractor Fan with the specifications in English, now which one would you buy???

Transfer this simple logic to a website and suddenly even finding the shop becomes a major task if you don’t speak that language.

February 2017

With the next 2 billion internet users to come online not having English as their primary, or even secondary, language the time to start opening up your shop window to a new audience has never been more critical. If you want to learn how to do this effectively and in line with your budget then just get in touch I’ll be happy to listen.

TGL