Robert Godden’s musings and rants

I muse. I rant. This is my outlet!

Archive for the ‘Adelaide’ Category

Keep Yourself Alive

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Last week, not long after writing my blog, I resigned from my job.

If you re-read “Spread Your Wings” below, it seem pretty obvious that I was about to. It’s not going to be announced until later today – I’m counting on the fact that this blog is not exactly mass communication of a message, but twitter me if you have a comment on that!

So, why leave an interesting and exciting job with a great start-up that has taken the Adelaide market by storm?

After several years in the planning stages, it kicked off last year, and I was employee number one. For eighteen months I’ve put in huge weeks and we’ve achieved a lot. The staff levels have grown exponentially. Our first trading year has been a multi-million dollar smash hit success. The directors are very happy.

But I’m not happy.

Several managers have described me as a butterfly. I flit frm interesting task to interesting task. For any micro-manager out there, you might see that as a weakness.

But without small, flittering insects who pollinate as they go, we would not be here.

In a start-up, a butterfly is invaluable – there’s just so much to do. People who can work on a revolving schedule of twenty projects – and deliver about 90% of them – are actually a great asset, as more methodical people will be overwhelmed with a need to make everything perfect, as opposed to make everything happen.

When I’ve worked in big, big organisations, a butterfly is pretty useful there too (For example, the entirely fictitious story “Intestinal Fortitude” in my book 1001 Nights is a thinly-veiled recounting of my experiences doing just that). You need to have a few agitators for change, or you become stale.

The problem is, butterflies aren’t that useful in an organisation that is consolidating. So, I’m leaving.

I have no complete plans. No definite job to go to. I am considering buying a business, I’m shortlisted for a role outside of recruitment, I’m considering running my own consultancy and I’ve been approached to head a division for a major recruiter.

All jobs for a butterfly?

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Written by robertgodden

July 21, 2008 at 7:09 am

Headlong

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I love LinkedIn network statistics.

My direct list is OK, my indirect list is huge, but the number of people in my home town has remained relatively low – I only cracked 5000 recently.

Last Saturday, I made a decision that I would become the most LinkedIn person in Adelaide. I did this after discovering that you can list people by number of connections – I know that’s a pretty obvious feature, but I had never looked for it.

My thought was that I would find out who the top LinkedIn people in Adelaide were, and send them requests. That’s a good start. It will build my list generally, and I hoped, locally in particular.

So, I did the search, and found that I already am the most LinkedIn person in Adelaide.

Wow, what a warm glow of smug achievement. I was a terribly ineffective user of LinkedIn until I met Dave Mendoza in April, and a light went on in my head. Look at me now, everybody!

But not one to rest on my laurels, I wrote to a bunch of other highly LinkedIn people in Adelaide, and requested connection.

So I dared to dream. Given that I’m less than an eighth as well connected as Stan Relihan, how do I rate in Australia?

Do I dare to dream Top Twenty? Top Fifty? Must be top hundred, surely?

Well, no, no and no.

As of this morning, I sit in position number 191.

This exercise has made me think about why people are on LinkedIn, so I posted a simple question: Is it better to give or receive on LinkedIn.

Given the Pledge (see my post ‘One Vision’ below) asking any question has its price, so such an open one means I’ll be very busy Wednesday – that’s my question answering day.

Apart from one bitter reply, the overwhelming ethos of LinkedIn is to give.

I think that is the miracle of LinkedIn. I suspect people mainly join to further their own ends, but get swept along in the tremendous feeling of goodwill.

Whilst I’ve found few good candidates on LinkedIn; that’s just my day job. It’s the community on LinkedIn that keeps me at the keyboard in early hours of the morning, swapping ideas and advice.

Adelaide is my hometown by choice; I wasn’t born here. LinkedIn is my virtual community by choice; and the stats don’t matter – being a part of something bigger than yourself is always inspiring.

Written by robertgodden

June 10, 2008 at 7:07 am

Three Cities in Two Days

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Wednesday morning traffic’s very light, probably because it’s 5:30am. Past IKEA, park near the doors; wander through the still-sparkling terminal; smiling Virgin Blue Service and I’m in Sydney.

The taxi driver is from Mali and plays bass guitar; I love the music of Mali and also play bass, so it’s a very enjoyable trip until his satnav packs up at Darling Harbour and it turns out he can’t read a map.

Do the business I need to in Sydney. Pass some quality time with quality people.

Sydney’s a harlot. Flirty and flash; you can’t help but enjoy the sensual thrill of the Sydney attitude: everybody’s welcome, exactly as you are. It’s an attitude that feels a little racy to the country bumpkinism of my long-distant upbringing.

I love Sydney, but it’s like the upswing of a manic depressive; and to live there, I think you’d see both ends. I like to visit, say hello, peck its saucy cheek and leave before I feel too comfortable or too uncomfortable.

Sleep in Chinatown’s heart; hit the airport as the sun comes up. Wander through Sydney Airport; aromatherapy shop provides the perfect olfactory breakfast, to supplement the meagre rations that my descent from obesity requires.

The bumpy takeoff, bumpy flight and bumpy landing don’t dissuade the all-male cabin crew, who are wonderfully gay in both senses but mostly in the Enid Blyton meaning of happiness and lightness of being; it’s almost like Sydney is with us on the plane.

Maybe they’re so happy because we’ll be staying in Melbourne and they won’t; like people are forcedly cheerful around the terminally ill.

And the terminal is ill – surely the most slovenly airport in Australia.

Outside to grey, grey wind; whereas Sydney’s rain had been sparse, warm and so strollable, Melbourne’s grimy atmosphere presses down like a musty blanket.

I lined up outside the taxi cab rank – a pompous official decided the line should move elsewhere which cost me 15 places – got in a worn-out taxi. The driver kept telling me he didn’t understand what I was saying – Collins Street – and then laughed. “I know”, he roared.” I was just showing what would have happened if you’d got one of those f***ing Africans”. So began my forty minute immersion if the problems of the taxi industry in Melbourne; the irony being the guy who had all the answers was not helping the Minister solve the problems, he was driving me to Collins Street.

More meetings and lovely hospitality; now I find myself with three hours to shop in Melbourne. Carrying an overnight bag and a laptop, the wind is so horrible that I have a bite then head to the airport three hours early. Didn’t think that through – four hours in Melbourne Airport. Get a good cup of tea.

More smiles and wings and as the sun sets over the Gulf I’m 500 metres above Adelaide Oval.

There is no place as beautiful as I touch down and am home.

Written by robertgodden

February 29, 2008 at 11:55 am

Posted in Adelaide, Business, Travel

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Ash Wednesday in the City of Trees

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I know what I was doing exactly 25 years ago today, about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and into the evening.

I was standing with a small man with a beard who played the violin badly and whose name has not survived the ravages of 25 years on my brain, the lady who ran the boarding house I lived in at the time and whose moniker is just as completely lost, and Barry.

Barry, my schizophrenic room-mate who upset me by being my room-mate; for I had moved more than 500 kilometres from home expecting a single room in the boarding house; only to find that there had allegedly been some sort of mix-up. A mix-up that saved my parents $6 per week, but that wasn’t much of a silver lining as far as I was concerned.

Due to my lack of understanding about his condition, I was a bit worried about Barry; but he was a genuinely nice man; and in the few months I was in the boarding house – before I managed to convince my parents to lift my allowance  and get out of there– he was very helpful and kind. Then again; he was on his medication. Apparently, he had tendency to believe the Russians were after him if he did not stick with the drugs.

So there we were – myself, the bearded man, the grasping landlady and Barry- standing on a front verandah in Strangways terrace, North Adelaide, looking at the orange glow on the hills as sunset fell.

Given that we lived on exclusive Adelaide real estate – I’m pretty sure there’s no boarding house there now, across from the Royal Adelaide Golf course on the fringe of the parklands – we often saw such colours as night approached. But usually we were looking west, not east. And there wasn’t the blanket of smoke.

Adelaide. I moved here in 1983 for year’s study from my home in the country. I’ve lived here ever since. There’s a strong sense of history for such a young city – 1836 seems so recent by comparison to the rest of the world.

But we take our uniqueness very seriously. To give internationals some perspective; we’ve got more land area than London with about the population of Birmingham. Spread along thirty kilometres of beaches the greater metropolitan areas is very spacious, overwhelmingly single story houses on blocks that used to be a quarter of an acre, but recent years have shaved this size at the margins, and some of the grand old houses have been ripped down and replaced with two or three units.

Our founder Colonel Light had a vision that the CBD would be surrounded by parklands, and we have clung to this with religious zeal; only a few developments breaking up the perfect ring of parks that ring the city and form a barrier in the psyche of every South Australian between ‘town’ and the suburbs.

The joy of my drive to work each morning is to crest the last hill on the Southern Expressway – a grandiose title for a road that would be little more than a small bypass In many cities around the world – and behold  the City of Trees, laid our before me with houses between jacarandas and gums, all across the plain. A few modest high-rises occupy just two small pockets in my vision.

Of course, behind me are modern developments, where McMansions are crammed together like mismatching teeth, and where there are no trees. No trees? If I believed in Hell, I’d like to see the developers burn there for this crime. Or harsher but more poetic, they should be made to live in the soulless caricatures of a community that springs from their usurious drafting stations.

There are just a million of us, spread across Adelaide. Another hundred thousand comprise the whole state. A state roughly twice the size of California with one thirty-sixth the population.

Back then, we had to include all the country folk just to make the million. A million people all thinking about fire.

It’s rare that we are thinking the same things as our neighbours and arch-rivals; the citizens of the state of Victoria, Normally we treat them with contempt; like all the other prison colonies made goods that form Australia’s other state capitals, we see Melbourne as pretty undesirable, and during the football season we bay for their blood.

Seventy-five lives later, we were united in grief. It shows us how good life is in Australia –when ten or twenty or indeed seventy-five lives are lost; it’s a disaster that leaves an indelible impression. Yet more people die shopping in Bagdad on a regular basis in these awful days.

Still, Bagdad has had a while to get used to it. In its former guise as Babylon, it has been held by the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks and plenty of others. And while the Age of Heroes was being played out between the Tigris and Euphrates; here in Adelaide on the banks of the Torrens, the Kaurna people where living alongside nature.

It’s said that the Kaurna used controlled burn-offs to keep themselves safe from fire. Our volunteer fire-fighters do that today.

Ash Wednesday should never happen again. Twenty-eight South Australian lives proved that you shouldn’t let trees touch power lines. That you need top notch communication between emergency agencies.  And that you need a bushfire action plan, which a recent survey showed thirteen percent of homeowners in potential danger spots have.

Thirteen percent?

Nature is nature and people are people. Since Ash Wednesday, we’ve lost more people to bushfires, one or two or five at a time.

Thirteen percent?

If  the bearded man, the landlady or Barry are alive today and live in a bushfire danger zone, I’d like to think that the hours we spent watching the horizon burn just twenty kilometres away has made sure that they are in that thirteen percent.

Written by robertgodden

February 20, 2008 at 7:16 pm