Matt Rutherford

We are not afraid

I knew it would happen. It was inevitable. Something like the events of yesterday was bound to occur.

I even considered it briefly when I was deciding whether to swap my 20-minute drive for a one hour commute into London. My decision was easy, I wouldn’t be cowed by the potential.

So now, I sit at my desk in the heart of London, next to tourist destinations and busy shopping streets. I sidestep tourists, shoppers and workers when I leave the office.

Today, London carried on. The commute was the same as ever, the traffic and the walk the same as ever.

London and its people are stronger than the actions of these cowards, these misfits, these animals.

We’re not afraid of you.

SFTW#23

SFTW is a weekly email I send to my team, recapping top of mind thoughts and curating some useful and fun links from across the web. 

In the last few weeks, I’ve had a lot of questions about ‘increasing influence’ or ensuring that you have a seat at the table.  So, I’ve compiled some quick ideas on how you can ensure your ‘voice is heard’.

  1. Do your homework. Know your business. Understand your data.
  2. Pay your dues. Establish credibility. Have ‘chops’.
  3. Speak up about shared truths, principles and goals.
  4. Test with six people before fixing 600
  5. Tell good, true, simple, stories.

Simple, right?  Follow these tips and you’ll find your voice is heard without being louder.

It’s all about clarity, not volume.

Something from the Web

Despite being too busy to write the mail, I’ve still been collecting fun and interesting things, so this is a bumper edition.

Ricard Bofill is an architect who bought a disused cement factory to turn into a house, I’d say he’s done a pretty good job.

Visit the Atlantic, tell them when you were born and they’ll tell you how the world has changed while you have been alive. I’m one of the first people who has never lived in a world without a computer mouse.

Positive lexicography. All those untranslatable words give me suwaad. I’d imagine there are a few interesting words in Bhutan, where they now have a Ministry for Happiness.

This is a bit late, but this is an amazing set of pictures from 2016.  Here’s some science about why I get a bit grumpy before lunchtime. These are the most beautiful bookshops in the world.

Finally, can you dance? Here are the moves that can take you from a disaster to a diva. I’m practising in front of the mirror now!

SFTW#22

SFTW is a weekly email I send to my team, recapping top of mind thoughts and curating some useful and fun links from across the web. 

I fell off the wagon this week.

I started out with good intentions, and tried to create a new habit in my work, but I broke it after a few weeks.

What do you do when you fall off the wagon?  Or when something doesn’t work? Or when you fail at something?

Start again.  Just get up, and get moving. It’s absolutely the best choice.

On the wall of every gym is the poster: “Winners never quit, quitters never win“.  It’s true with every walk of life, not just daily squats or 5km on the treadmill.

So, if you take a knock, think about how you get straight back up and get on with it.

By the way, I’m back on the wagon. It took a bit of effort to correct the mistake, but I’m back to the habit I set myself.

Something from the Web

This popped up in my ‘memories’ on Facebook this week, it’s a great piece of advice that really helped me in 2016.

This blog is full of beautiful gadgets, when design was a real thing.  Do you have a doppleganger somewhere? These people do, and they are incredibly alike! I love that word, DOPP-EL-GANGER – excellent.

I know that there are plenty of board game fans in the team, I noticed that there is a new monthly column in the Guardian – especially for board gamers.

A few of us were talking about winning the lottery this week, and then this news story popped up on timeline. Seems like a good use of $38 million!

Finally – 88 life lessons from books read in 2016. Some great stuff in here.

SFTW#21

SFTW is a weekly email I send to my team, recapping top of mind thoughts and curating some useful and fun links from across the web. 

“Everyone is better than you are. At something.” – Seth Godin

Quite often when you get a review or some feedback from your manager, you might hear them talk about ‘getting a mentor’.  I’ve had that feedback over the years, and it took me a while to understand the full value that you can get from a mentor, even when you are doing really well in your career.

Here are some of my top tips to getting the most out of a mentor, and hopefully inspire you to think about building a mentoring relationship.

  • Mentors provide information and knowledge – if we align ourselves with someone who has been successful, we have the ability to shorten our learning curve.  This is especially useful when you are trying to ‘jump the rails’ and learn new skills, finding a great mentor can help you get up to speed quickly.
  • Mentors can see where we need to improve where often we cannot – having a third party to help you recognise opportunities to improve can be really powerful.  You wouldn’t learn to drive on your own, having an instructor helps you – yet when we move into the world of work we take on all the learning ourselves.  Getting a second opinion is a powerful move.
  • Mentors have ways to stimulate our professional and personal growth – new ideas, new ways of working and new opinions can help accelerate our journey and focus our attention on the right steps to take.
  • Mentors are sounding boards – I use my mentor to help me develop ideas and concepts that need move development, I might not want to use my managers to do that because I want to move the idea along before it gets ‘out on the wild’.
  • Mentors can be connectors – using a professional or personal mentor to connect you to others in their network is a great way of getting visibility, or driving & expanding your network.

So, how do you get yourself a mentor?

The simplest step is to ask – work with your manager, or even the mentor you’d like to work with.  But before you do that, it’s worth exploring exactly what you want to achieve, what are the steps that you want to take that you feel you’d need some outside influence to help with.  Look at the hints about, where do you want to focus?

Once you’ve decided, then look for the role models that you want to work with.  Your approach should be filled with definitive things to get help with, and an understanding that there is a commitment from both sides.

My mentor experience is that I have a personal mentor, who helps me as a sounding board and gives me ideas to stimulate growth.  They are senior to me, but not in the same organisation or even the same line of business, so I can use them to grow my network and stimulate new ideas.

I’ve also been a mentor to a number of people, and I think my role is 90% listening, and 10% trying to crystallise and develop ideas.

Next time your manager talks about getting a mentor, work through some of these ideas. If you need help to get laser focused, let me know – I’ll be glad to help.

Somethings from the Web

That change management job I mentioned earlier, here’s how they are managing the digital aspects.  Here’s a list of books that might keep you company over the next four years.

I very rarely post music on SFTW – but this is superb, my new favourite jam, also I was sad to hear about the death of William Onyeabor this week – he was the African Kraftwerk. Really. This obituary explains it all. Sad News.

Be a rebel, six pieces of advice from Einstein. And finally, here’s what happens if you try and meet one new person every day.

SFTW#20

SFTW is a weekly email I send to my team, recapping top of mind thoughts and curating some useful and fun links from across the web. 

How much are you worth?  How much is your time worth?  Have you ever calculated it?  You can think of it in terms of your annual salary if you want (here’s a handy calculator) or you can just aggressively put a price on it.

Whatever number you pick, it’ll make you think about your time in a very different way. If you set your hourly rate at £100 and you only had £200 to spend today, would you be doing what you are doing right now?

Once you define your hourly rate, you can redefine your productivity.  Now you have a choice, you can maximise value by clearing many items in a short space of time, or you can seek out the greatest value for money by finding the items that bring you the most impact, or joy.

For a long time, I defined my productivity by the quantity of things I completed. If I responded to 10 emails, and attended two meetings, I had a successful day. If I spent my day working on one presentation, I felt guilty leaving the office.

I was thinking about my to-do list in the wrong way.  I realised that if I could get away from believing “quantity” was equivalent to productivity, I’d be ending every day on a more positive note.

So, I’ve taken a quality over quantity approach. I’m learning to rigidly protect and value my time so that I can focus on the highest impact work that gives me the most value. I don’t always get it right, but I’m learning.

Give your hourly value a go, and see if you feel good about where you are spending your time.

Something from the Web

Do you use Facebook? It knows EVERYTHING about you – use this tool to understand how your Facebook profile can be used to really profile you. I was amazed at the output from mine.

I know that I have a few board game fans amongst the SFTW faithful – I don’t know much about board games, but I know that this is a fairly intense way to think about chess.  My fascination with notebooks continues – amazing designs from notebooks around the world.

Look how happy the Queen was when she saw some cows.  You can use this site to keep a track on the snow via twitter, or something.

Finally – and maybe most importantly – sound advice for troubled times.

Screen Unseen : Hidden Figures

Every so often, the Odeon Cinema chain in the UK holds ‘Screen Unseen‘, where you pay a nominal price to see a movie of their choice, usually two or three weeks before it comes out.  In 2016, I was lucky enough to see some great movies but I struggle to remember them all, this year I will capture them here. 

This month’s Screen Unseen was Hidden Figures, a story based on real life about a group of African-American women in segregation-era America who were involved in the early days of the space race.  As gifted and talented mathematicians, they provided the ‘computer’ power required to execute the unmanned and early manned missions.  I hadn’t heard much about this film, so was really pleased to be presented this one.  It’s a feel-good story, possibly slightly romanticised, but brimming with humour and some sadness as the three key characters navigate working in a predominantly white-male NASA in the early sixties.

There are some excellent scenes as one-by-one the NASA colleagues begin to see the value that the ‘computers’ bring to the space programme, with the key character being instrumental in sending the first man to space, as well as implementing the first IBM mainframe.  The cast is excellent, with Kevin Costner playing a pivotal role, alongside Jim Parsons (Sheldon from Big Bang Theory), Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae.

Once again, Screen Unseen popped up an unexpected gem of a movie. I’ll be looking out for the next one.

Disrespect invites disrespect

There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart, not because it was good, there was nothing good about it, but it was effective and it did its job.

 

It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie, it was real life.

 

This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everyone’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing

 

Disrespect invites disrespect, violence invites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.

Meryl Streep, Golden Globes, January 2017 – let’s see how the next four years unfold

SFTW#19

SFTW is a weekly email I send to my team, recapping top of mind thoughts and curating some useful and fun links from across the web. 

Whatever your New Years resolution is, I hope you are on course and feeling successful.  I don’t make them because I don’t want to have an excuse to fail.

When I do decide to make a change, I do it for good reasons. Ultimately, I’m trying to improve myself or my life and make myself more content or happier.  Whether it is ceasing a bad habit or starting a good one, the ultimate goal is a better, happier, fitter me.

Over the holiday break, I was thinking about whether the approach was all wrong.   Rather than working from the ‘outside in’, whether I could make the changes from the ‘inside out’.  If I could start happy, then maybe I wouldn’t depend on bad habits, or approach things in a reductive way.

So, that’s my plan. I’m going to hunt down the situations that make me the happiest. When I find them, I’m going to be mindful of why I’m happy, and the fact that I don’t need anything else.

I won’t use the New Year to trigger a resolution like that, I’m going to just commit and make it happen.

Something from the Web

I’ve talked about self-improvement a number of times before and Udemy always comes up as a provider that delivers great online courses, they are running a winter sale which can give you access to great courses for a fraction of the cost. £10 for a £180 course sounds like a bargain to me!  (Hat-tip to CT for the recommendation here)

Bruce Sterling (Science Fiction Author) gives an insightful review of the big five tech companies in 2017.  Interesting to see who comes out on top.

Some great insights into the dark arts of networking. The only three networking emails you ever need to write. Some superb advice here.

Finally, this three-step guide to taking Friday off is an excellent way to structure your final work day of the week around a set of tasks that will make you more productive.  This is largely how I structure my Friday, but there are some tweaks here which I’m going to implement.

Is the future here?

We’ve been using Amazon Echo devices at home for about a month, there are three ‘Dots’ around the house, and they get used daily, mainly for music streaming and general information.

I’m a massive fan. This technology feels like the future, much more than virtual reality or giant screens that take up a wall. The Alexa interface to the AI feels like a natural and intimate way to communicate, and once we all discover how to talk casually to a computer, things will seem less ‘deliberate’.

We’re still a way off the fluidity and intelligence of the interface in ‘Her’, but so far, so good.

The next step is to build the skills that the Alexa operating system can understand. Amazon has made it easy to build skills and get them into the marketplace. As more developers get on board, the network effect of Alexa will improve. Enhanced skills, along with different form factors, will make the Alexa ecosystem a genuinely useful place to be.

For now, the deep pockets of Amazon mean that Alexa is here to stay. Especially in this house.

How many did you tick off?

How was your Christmas?  Good New Year?  I think I have a THOUSAND emails! I’ve almost forgotten how to do my job? Any New Years Resolutions? I *hate* January!

You can play bingo with the usual small talk about the beginning of the year, but now it’s time to move past that part of the script.

So, make today the last day for your Christmas and New Year small talk and get into the mindset to smash 2017.