Robert Godden’s musings and rants

I muse. I rant. This is my outlet!

Archive for the ‘Musings’ 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

Spread Your Wings

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When is it time to leave your job?

What a great question that is.

It used to be that people would hang around in a job they hated for years, because leaving was such a big deal. But times have changed.

So, what drives us to change?

I think the lack of challenge is the easiest and most positive reason to cite. “Well, I’m bored, so I’m off” sounds good, but it’s amazing how many people who say this go into fundamentally the same job elsewhere.

Opportunity is a better reason. An opportunity to explore something new, make a wad of cash, to work for yourself. To test yourself, to put your family in a better position, to work with someone you admire – there’s opportunity to be found everywhere.

But there’s two schools of thought – was Jon Mitchell right – “You never know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” or is it true you can’t grasp something with both hands if your hands are already full? In other words, do you sit back and slowly find a better deal or just say “to hell with it”, quit and blaze forward?

I would have said, at one time, it depends on the kind of person you are. I now think it depends on the kind of person you are now.

We all change, and opportunity and risk abound.

The work environment can play a major part in your decision, and not always a positive one. If you are overworked and/or underpaid and/or bullied and/or part of a culture that puts you under stress, then you might not see the picture clearly until you resign.

That will sharpen your thoughts!

But it’s easier to get a job if you’ve got one, according to conventional wisdom. Well, conventional wisdom has been wrong before!

Ultimately it’s down to the individual, with help and support from those closest to them. Omen and portents, faith (in anything, including oneself), further opportunity, all play a part, but at the end of the day, it’s a big decision.

And it’s up to you. Play it safe or leap of faith.

You’ll know when it’s time to spread your wings.

Written by robertgodden

July 14, 2008 at 7:22 am

Don’t Stop Me Now

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I’ve never been busier in real life.

I’ve often been more of a behind-the-scenes worker. Whilst I have never had a problem with making a sales call or undertaking  business development tasks – and I am reasonably equipped to be successful at this, and enjoy it – I’ve not been in sales full time since 1993.

As a researcher you tend to hide behind a PC or other info sources, but lately, I’ve been out and about with alarming frequency.

The difference is, I am now catching up with people whom I either met on-line, or who are connected with me on-line.

When we go on line, even with the limitations of social networking tools like LinkedIn or Facebook, we still put more of ourselves in the public domain than ever before. When I catch up with a supplier for a chat about business, I now might know where they grew up or went to school. Or what their previous role was. Or the fact that they were photographed in fishnet stockings at a Rocky Horror-themed party last Saturday.

It adds a whole new dimension to the conversation. You could meet the same person once a week for a year and not know much about the person behind the corporate face, but if they’ve got 714 pictures of themselves in various states of inebriation over the last year, you start to get a bit of a picture.

A real issue is that spammy stuff that turns up on Facebook – you know, when your mini-feed says you did something you didn’t do.

I’ve apparently just joined something called “Be a Billionaire”. Except that I haven’t. I hadn’t even been on Facebook for a month or so before I logged on last night to see some photos my son pasted. And there it was.

A few months ago, a good friend of mine was talking about me to her other half, and bought up my Facebook profile. The mini-feed suggested I’d joined some sort of “photos of swingers” application. And we’re not talking about people swinging on a tyre on a rope here. (Well, some of them might have been!).

So, my point here is that I use on-line networking as a research tool before I meet people – suppliers, clients, candidates, anyone. Have done so for some time. It also helps to track down a photo of someone you’ve never met before; though the person photographed on Facebook wearing a fairy costume may not look the same in a Hugo Boss suit. But never assume everything you see is real.

Even confusion between two people of the same name can have hilarious results. So it always pays to check. Particularly if you are say, a professional hit-man or a recruitment consultant. You want to get the right guy!

Anyway, my original point is that, confirmed geek that I am, I’m now finding my business network is getting stronger, and more personal.

Around the time I was born, hippies were sitting about discussing ‘the interconnectedness of us all, man’. Now, 43 years later, the boat the hippies were looking for has sailed into the harbour.

We are all interconnected. Perhaps not as connected with a sparrow, a blade of grass, Mt Everest or our inner purple love-child as the hippies would have liked, but nevertheless, we’re heading there fast.

Love, Peace and LinkedIn, Man.

Written by robertgodden

July 7, 2008 at 7:22 am

Who needs you?

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I can understand phishing. There’s a point.

The point is to rip every cent (or penny, or peso, or whatever) out of your bank account. It’s fraud by mass market: someone somewhere will fall for it (and by the way, Anti-Phishing Phil is brilliant, if you’d like to get better at avoiding falling victim).

But when it comes to straightforward virus attacks; there’s no discernible point.

Common wisdom is that it’s the thrill of destruction – a bit like arsonists who hang around to watch a building burn.

In fact, a bit like cases where arsonists have tried to use pyromania as a clinical defence, it won’t be long before someone tries to defend themselves in court against charges of creating viruses by claiming ‘viromania”. If they ever get to court.

The vast majority of anti-social reprobates that create viruses are never caught.

To go back to our arson analogy; arsonists are often caught. And they often turn out to be people who would profit in some way, (e.g. by an insurance payout) or have a grudge.

However, there’s quite a few who get no discernible benefit; they just decided to burn down a building.

Many of the people in the last category are poor and undereducated. Burning down a building and getting caught for it is within a fairly limited scope – you don’t have to be a genius to accomplish this.

Not so the creation of a virus. For starters, you need access to a computer somewhere reasonably private, programming skills, and usually, an ability to not get caught easily.

So, why are the penalties for a poor, uneducated firebug so much more than those of a sophisticated virus author?

Now, I’m not advocating a lessening of penalties for the former; just some parity for the latter.

“Ahhhh, but Computer Viruses don’t kill people; whereas arson often does.” I hear you say.

While this is basically true at this point; how do we know that a virus won’t take down an air traffic control computer? Or one that affects red lights?

In many fatal arson attacks, the goal is gratification, not murder; and I’m happy to included virus creators in the same group.

So, I’m going to change tacks here to wrap up.

Listen, Mr or Ms Virus Author: Your efforts disgust me. The effort I put into keeping your sick products away from my home and business is time I’ll never see again; time spent away from my family. The time you spend creating it is also completely wasted.

So. here’s the changes I’d like to see.

It’s time to bring back the public stockade. These people want to be famous. Chaining them up in stocks in a public place with a ready supply of rotten fruit and a couple of dozen IT managers in the vicinity will spread their name nicely.

Then tattoo their foreheads. “Moron” in 72 pt bold works for me. If you put the “r” backwards it’s even better. A nice long sentence and perhaps a kick where it hurts as well!

And keep them in wooden prisons. Next door to the arsonists.

 

Written by robertgodden

June 23, 2008 at 7:24 am

Posted in Musings, Rants, society

Tagged with ,

Life is Real

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I write this blog; a column on careerone.com.au; a few articles here and there on sites such as ERE, press releases and news stories for my main employer; all the content for four websites; I have one book published and three more on the drawing board.

In other words, I write a lot. In fact, I also talk a lot. Communication of ideas and concepts is really what I do.

But we have a problem.

Lately, I’ve found that actions speak louder than words. Try losing over 40 kilos (90 pounds for my US friends) and it becomes the opening conversational gambit for everyone you know when you see them. That’s if they recognise you in the street.

Whilst I never tire of the compliments, it does start the conversation down familiar paths. And inevitably; that path is advice.

Yes advice: I’m full of it. How to get around to finishing that book you’ve been writing for years. How to lose a massive amount of weight. How to harness social networking and fulfil your destiny!

You expect to get asked for advice when speaking at conferences etc. After all, you’re there as an expert. And ditto: columns and news stories have advice running through them. So I write; speak and generally impart a lot of advice.

Or do I? Is it really worthwhile when people don’t actually listen. I pretty sure many of them don’t. How am I to know if they do or not?

With real life and most of my work becoming a full-time advice dispenser; what about the other sides of my life. The beauty of this blog; and Twitter.com; is that they are my outlets for emotion, not really advice.

OK, so I still pontificate on this blog. That’s me. But it’s stuff I feel passionate about.

At the moment there are a few things in my life that occupy a lot of my thoughts. Given the lack of nourishment that intensive dieting offers; perhaps I have less thoughts as well.

It amazing that I appear to transitioning to the web. The things that affect me the most are private issues that will not make it to this blog. They dominate my conversation with my nearest and dearest. So, they get endless repetitions of the same theme; my 312 satisfied blog readers get passion and interest; my twitter Friends get the benefit of my rapier-like wit and my column readers get as much advice as they can eat for $0.

In The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie, there’s a painter who disappears into his own painting; he ceases to exist in real life. Sometimes I feel that I’m slowly becoming a net persona and that this is a substitute for real life.

Someone asked me where I lived the other day and I replied “LinkedIn”. True, we had been discussing social media; and I was being funny.

The difference between disappearing into the web, and say, falling down a rabbit hole to a magical kingdom, is that the former is more subtle: because you feel you can pop back anytime from the web. But try going on holiday and not being on-line. I’m nowhere near a full-time web junkie, but I do feel the need for web-ether running through my veins after just a day or so.

Yet I’m reasonably interesting in real life and I quite enjoy it. Why does the web have this attraction? Perhaps a blog is simply a conversation where I’m never interrupted: the ultimate soliloquy.

Or perhaps I’m like a late night talk DJ who’s never sure if anyone is out there, I hope for callers – or comments, as it is on this blog.

Attack me or flatter me; disagree with me or proclaim my spot-on-brother-ness; just don’t ignore me.

Because I wonder what happened to the painter, when people stopped looking at the painting? 

 

 

Written by robertgodden

June 16, 2008 at 7:07 am

Posted in Family, Musings, society

Tagged with , ,

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

One Vision

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Sometime, throwaway lines can have a profound effect on your life. In my last blog, I wrote this about LinkedIn Answers at a moment’s whim:

Because I believe that you have to give as well as receive, for every answer I receive, I’ll go to LinkedIn answers and find a question to answer – that’s being the Person 2.0 I wish to be.

The blog before that was related to a LinkedIn Answer, and over the process I was amazed by the generosity of spirit of those who responded. However, even more amazing was the reaction I got to the little sentence above.

I received dozens of messages telling me what great idea it was from that pool of LinkedIn users. And the momentum didn’t hurt my network either, with growth still pushing back the barriers of belief. I’m at nearly 800 now – I was on 61 on April 12th after about 5 years in LinkedIn.

So, the idea of giving as well as receiving. It’s central to Web 2.0, Here’s my thought process:

  • Passive Web 1.0 only offered the chance to take, and we all took.
  • Interactive Web 2.0 offers the chance to give AND take. Person 1.0 still just takes. But Person 2.0 gives and takes. And enjoys it. And benefits in so many ways.

So, in a return to the temperance idea of the early 1900’s, I’m taking the pledge. Obviously, since I’ve written it, and here it is. (It doesn’t stop you drinking)

I pledge that Web 2.0 has inspired me to become ‘Person 2.0’ & I should give at least as much as I receive. I therefore pledge that when using LinkedIn Answers or any site similar, every time I get an answer to one of my questions I will find someone else’s question and give a thoughtful answer.

It sounds pretty simple, but to be honest, it can be a bit of work if you get a lot of answers. As I write this, I’m about six behind due to a great response to my last question. I’ll answer two a day until I catch up, I promise!

I’ve setup a LinkedIn Group, along with truly dodgy logo, so that others can join the pledge. It’s at http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/109061/513273580568 . I’d love to see you there.

I’m keen to see whether this crazy little idea has any currency. I guess I’ll find out. 

Written by robertgodden

May 26, 2008 at 6:59 am