Proof (for my boss) that I actually did do some work at ANZTRUC 😀
So I made it here on my own. I am nervous and surprised that it seems to be working out OK. My trust levels are never high and travelling on my own always pushes my anxiety up. My ambition and my fear are at constant odds.
There was a good exchange at TLCC this year from participants. Someone reached out with her experience that the conference can be so socially challenging to the point of overwhelming. There were a lot of responses to the affirmative and I suspect a lot more in silent agreement. I think even stronger was the message that this is felt by many. We are not alone and we don’t have to suffer in silence.
Just writng this I want to propose a panel discussion on this. Just our experiences and how we cope.
So that was a year! New job and career change for me and a BIG change of strategy for my new work. It was a great upgrade in my work life but a massive responsibility. We came through it fantastically but at 65 hours a week plus travel I’ve been exhausted.
The good thing is that my second job is related but in the coal face; something I’m really good and confident at. I’m in a big organisation there which gives me a place to look at best work practice. And I’m great at that stuff which helps with the confidence and planning.
To be honest I was dreading coming back to work after the break. It seemed like though I’d put a mountain behind me there was a mountain range stretched out in front. A couple of things though helped me get back on track. The first was sitting down on the first day back and working on a Trello board. Trello is an online Project Management tool that I’d been introduced to during the planning for the business ticketing/website launch. I set up columns for each department that had me in their sights and listed every think I could think of with a reasonable delivery day attached. Inside each of these columns I put Job “cards” that hold the deadlines, Checklists of things to do, and comments. Truth is I actually I set this this online during job 2, in the quiet moments before I got back. Once i had that done the panic dropped a bit.
Just something that I’ve said before. I find that my panic levels drop when I chunk out the work. Then it’s just putting one foot in front of the other. My partner does this with backs of envelopes to great effect.
Anyway back to the mountaineering. Try Trello if you get the chance. I’ve used it to even organise my Dungeons and Dragons game so it can’t be too nerdy right?!
Almost a month really. I’ve been pushing to a big launch for work since I started 6 months ago. It’s a ticketing project that takes a small organisation that outsources it’s immediate CRM needs to an autonomous organisation that calls it’s own shots. I was hired to take the company there six months ago and it’s been a huge learning curve intellectually and emotionally. I feel like I’m running down hill with my legs trying to keep up.
Coupled with that we found out two weeks before launch that the owner was selling our house. Totally crazy.
So we had to move and I had to pull off the biggest job of my career. My anxiety levels were red lining for a week. But the interesting thing was I handled it and on 3hrs sleep a night. I’m actually with this without having slept in 36hrs.
Couple of things were going right. We needed to move. The place was just too small for us and we’d out grown it years ago. This was entirely the wrong time but it was the time we had. The other thing was I was ready. I had my last session with John yesterday and I’m a very different person than I was 18 months ago. Actually I’m the same person but it’s easier to make desicion knowing that I trust my ability to figure it out as I go.
Something that helped was a short seminar (I guess) that I went to at a conference recently. It was about being list in big project management and the advice was, if you feel overwhelmed just start small by putting one foot in front of the other.
That got us through both nightmares.
Sometimes my brain gets full at work and I have to go shake it out – aka go off for a 15 minute (coffee) break. Usually 2 breaks a day. Lunch breaks reallmey don’t do it for me. To cluttered and full of people, which feels more like work to me.
So I’m off home. Post trip I had a few meetings and said farewell to my SDC/STC/CRH/ACM pals. Went to a groovy little breakfast place in the Gaslamp called Broken yolk with a crowd. I went back again this morning. One thing that is really apparent is the size of food. I’m surprised every time I come to the US. Food is massive! I’ve tried to stick to two meals a day and some fruit. No matter how much exercise I’ve done here I think I’ve added 10kg 😮
After the gang left I took a trip up to Balboa park. I’ve been humongously home sick and I really needed to distract myself now that it was just me. I’d been there twice before but Friday is After Dark which is a festival of food trucks and late night museums.
Most interesting thing was that it was my first Uber!! Yeah hello 2017! All the cool kids were doing it at the conference so I thought I’d give it a go. Also what’s app. That was the group chat of choice at #TLCC2017 and with free wi-fi all over the place it was worth it. It’s almost like I work in IT or something?!
I got a burrito and went to the Nat (aka San Diego Natural History Museum) to see the dinosaurs. Main thing for me was how much I impressed myself with my hilarious Instagram feed.
I mean really. I’m hilarious 😐
Next point of business was to see the ball game. Padres we’re playing the Washington Nationals (of whom I’d never heard) and were soundly thrashed. Not that I cared as I got the late bought the cheapest ticket and spent the night watching the game from the best spots in the house. I was happy to buy a Simone a hat (and add a cunning disguise) and stand behind the floor seats. Once that was over I went back to the hotel to Skype home (told you I was into IT!)
So today was check out and logistics anxiety. Anxiety for me means I should keep moving and on schedule. After breakfast (and a Superman comic) at Broken Yolk I checked out of the hotel, had them hold my bags and then took the ferry to Coronado. After wandering around in circles for a while I found a bike hire and followed the 1hr leisure loop suggested by the guy at the desk … until I passed the unmarked turnoff and rode halfway to Mexico. Thank God Australians are good at Olympic cycling because I think I broke a third or two on the way back trying to make the ferry. I made it though, with enough time to buy some more gifts like socks with cats on them and a cute Coronado T-shirt (cause she keeps running out of those things and wearing mine).
With only a couple of hours left I hung out at Seaport Village, bought myself a less sweaty and more touristy shirt, ate a final taco and went back to pick up my bags and Uber to the airport. Got her in plenty of time with a feeling of incredible joy to be traveling home.
I can’t wait to get back even jet lagged and straight to work. Oh well it was pretty great all anxiety considered.
Stay classy San Diego!
A couple great things I’ve learnt from TLCC that really helped me out.
Before going – do your research
There are questions you are going to want to solve. Have a list.
- Some will require testing with the Devs.
- Some will be pestering the Vendors/Sponsors.
- Some will require bugging Tessitura Staff
Stalk people (responsibly)
Remember that list? Look up the people who likely have the same issue and meet up with them. In my case it’s about emailing and finding a time to catch up or say “hi” at an event. It’s less creepy than it sounds. We are there to network and solve problems after all.
Best things to have when I need a hand from someone …
- A value add. Sometimes a collaboration is enough. Sometimes you can intro someone to someone else. It’s always good to be able to exchange help though and mutually grow from the experience.
- A two way conversation. Listen and learn as well as talking about your own issue. Listening is a great way of solving your problem and follow up with an open ended question to dig deeper.
- Keep it short. We all have many things to see and do. When you have an ask try to not monopolise someones time and catch up for more later. You will bump into the same people about 100 times over the week.
- Speaking on bumping into people – I’ll often find myself introducing people to other people that have like interests. Two people are a conversation. Three people are a network.
- More business cards. I ran out on the first day when chatting to people about my presentation. They are great to have and a good way to keep the conversation going.
- Follow up. A thanks is always nice and also you can expand your network with Linkedin invites or whatever works for you.
- Thanks cost nothing. If your moved or excited about something a quick thanks can really make everyones day.
The thing with Tessitura is that people are incredibly keen to share. It’s a great community. Keeping these things in mind really help with my anxiety and occasional bouts of impostor syndrome.
So this is my first work conference overseas for Sydney dance company and I’m in San Diego California. We got in a day early and spent some time seeing the sites, mostly the San Diego Museum of Art and the Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. The Globe is a Tessitura Network member so I’m going to call that work, tax deductible work.
First day of the conference is today. Lots to take in. Also lots of faking it. Not the skills. I have some of those and am happy to ask for help where I need it. Mainly the social aspect. My anxiety has been swinging wildly in and out. When it’s in it’s hard to focus on tasks or make decisions and the world feels like there is an ugly after taste that I can’t quite work out. When it’s not there I can get a little over the top like I’ve finished a gruelling test. Modulation is tricky.
People in SD are very nice. I’ve heard that tourists say that a lot about wherever they visit. Drowning in a foreign culture can leave you appreciative of the smallest things and less likely to be demanding. But regardless people here have been great.
I’ve reached out too a couple of people to talk about things I need help with or to give a hand in return. I’m going to see how that goes. Anyway of to see how it goes. Wish me luck.
I recently listened to a wonderful Ted talk by Adam Grant on Givers, Takers and Matchers and how people described by this metric fare in the workplace and how successful they and their businesses are. Yes it’s a metric, and yes that’s something to do with why I like what at first look reads like self-help/HR fuzz, ie: it’s well thought out and supported in evidence, rather than just being opinion masquerading as metaphor used literally.
Givers are the kinds of people who pitch in to help with others work, are generous with advice and open to sharing. Takers are the kinds who are self first and will collaborate only if it benefits their advancement. Matchers are the majority who will tailor their behaviour to the situation, balance their behaviour to the situation and/or share conservatively with their resources.
Intriguingly the statistics point out that the way to increase the success in your team is not to hire more givers but to weed out the takers. A single giver in a team will inspire collaboration in matchers. Conversely a single taker will create an environment of distrust and reluctance to share. Sharing in a taker environment leads to a feeling of idea theft and burnout for givers who end up doing the work of others rather than their own making them unproductive. It’s in these environments that givers rate as the most unproductive members of a team.
What was especially interesting was adding the agreeableness metric. I won’t regurgitate what Adam says much better than I can. However in listening to this really gave me cause to rethink my many work places that I’ve worked in over the years and how I and my teams have functioned.
I truly believe that it’s the responsibility of management to manage the dynamic of their team to achieve results. It’s also true that often middle management is promoted without any supportive training. I do find it difficult to support the opting out that management does with regards to team dynamics. My thought is that it is created by
- Senior management regarding managing as either a reactive task or a logistical one
- Middle management not having the opportunity to prioritise team dynamics and falling back on solo projects and reactive leadership
Of course I’ve encountered many managers over the years who were very team orientated and it’s been a dream for similar reasons. I also think this applies to corporate, amateur and government organisations alike.
Anyway Adam Grant’s lectures are short fun and evocative and well worth a listen. Enjoy!
Mother’s day is an odd time for me now. It’s full of marketing and assumptions like most holidays and as a consequence can be a tough time. That being said I had this great memory pop up.
It was from a particularly tough time for my family in 1984. My dad was in the US and the rest of my nuclear family was living with his parents (long story). I was 13yo and not going to school at the time but picked up the red box edition of Dungeons and Dragons. It was just as I was getting through the Lord of the Rings, a copy that was my dad’s and so obviously had special meaning for me. I was leaning to take solace in my imagination at a time when nothing in the external world made any sense, and was essentially falling apart.
My first game was with my mom, sister, and grandparents. My grandparen
ts played Lancelot and Guinevere (Freud would have written an Opera’s bookclub best seller).
My mother on the other hand played a dwarf. Before making any decision she’d “take a swig from my wine skin” and then get on with the job of kicking the shit out of some orcs (or zombies etc). Comedy and determination while being surrounded by high lunacy; pretty much sums it all up for her.