I tweeted about this a few weeks ago but have had so many online buddies miss the tweets that I thought a follow up blog post might be worthwhile – we’re having another baby!
Our boys are both excited – our eldest (X) will be 5 and (H) will be 3 so we’re going to have a busy time, but are all looking forward to what lays ahead.
Baby is due early in July, but based upon both of our other little guys being 10 days late we’re not expecting them to arrive til mid July.
We don’t yet know the gender but will find out in a few weeks (we won’t tell too many people though – there has to be some surprises)! We’re told that based upon having had 2 boys already that we’re a 75% chance of having another boy which we’re more than happy with.
V (my wife) is doing well. Tired but healthy and getting all in order for the fun ahead.
It’s been interesting to hear people’s reactions to us having a 3rd. It seems that the most common words parents of 3 kids have used to describe are ‘crazy’ and ‘fun’. Not quite sure how to take that as 2 has also been crazy and fun…. I guess it gets more intense.
Anyway – I guess it’s official now, it’s on the web!
by Rudyard Kipling
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
’ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
On Twitter today I released my Fat Chart.
Yesterday I saw a picture of myself that made me realize that the last 12 or so months I’ve let myself go a little. By no means am I morbidly overweight – but I’ve certainly not been exercising as much as I should and have let my diet slip. My ‘gut’ is the area that is suffering. Shirts don’t quite fit, I get puffed out on a flight or two of stairs and I’m finding it harder to keep up with my boys.
I could let things get a lot worse than they are – but after sharing about the photo on Twitter yesterday and saying that I’m going to do something about it – I decided that I’ve probably got more of a chance if I put it out there for a little extra public accountability.
Putting my fat chart out onto Twitter earlier today got a lot of reaction – some thought it a good idea, others wondered why I needed to do it and thought I didn’t have a problem, others started making suggestions about how to adapt my diet and what kind of exercise to do.
All the feedback is great – thanks!
By no means am I an exercise or diet expert. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes. I’m also sure I’ll have days where I don’t really want to share what I ate or did (or didn’t do) – but hopefully the act of putting it out there will inspire me a little more. I figure if the public accountability helps me get 10% fitter or take a little extra weight off then it’s probably worth doing.
A few questions I’ve been asked numerous times already:
- What’s My Goal Weight? – I don’t really have one. I’d like to shed at least 6-7 kg but from previous experience I tend to not lose a lot but find that I ‘redistribute it’. Last time I worked on this a couple of years ago I didn’t lose a kg but my belly lost 2-3 cm! Perhaps I should add a belly measurement.
- Other Goals? – for me it’s more about fitness and health than weight loss. I want to not be puffed when I climb stairs, I want to be able to chase my kids around the yard until THEY get tired, I want to have a healthy body so I can grow old and watch my kids grow up.
- How Tall Am I? – just under 180cm.
- What Kind of Exercise Am I Going to Do? – I’m going to keep it pretty simple. It’s summer here in Australia so I’m going to try to get out as much as possible. Walking, riding (I’m going to get a bike) and using my kids new Trampoline are all starting points. I might even restart my pushups, squats and sit ups little routine that I used to do while looking after my kids were in the bath each night.
- Can Others Join Me? – surprisingly I had 4-5 others tweet back when I shared the link to my chart asking if they could join me in my ‘challenge’. I’m not sure this really is a ‘challenge’ as such – but I’m open to it being a group thing. If you want to start your own fat chart – just open a Google Docs document, set up a chart in the way that you like – publish it as a webpage – and share a link in comments below and anywhere else you want a little accountability. I can’t guarantee to be a lot of support on it – but just knowing others are doing a similar thing is sure encouraging.
Thanks all for your feedback, support, encouragement etc.
This morning I woke up to a familiar sound.
The sound of email arriving.
At first I didn’t think much of it – it’s a sound I’m familiar with. My computer and iPhone makes it all day.
But then I realised that I wasn’t at my computer and my iPhone was at the other end of the house.
As the fog of sleep left me I realised that the sound was coming from outside my bedroom window.
Did one of my kids take my laptop outside? Did I sleep walk and take it out myself?
I went outside to investigate and immediately saw the source of the ‘pinging’.
Directly outside my window, sitting on the fence, was a bird…. perfectly mimicking the sound of email arriving.
OK – it’s time for a little rant. It’s not my normal style of posting but it’s something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while.
The Invitation – Speak at My Conference?
Last week I received an email from a conference organizer in the US offering me the opportunity to speak at their social media conference. I’d not heard of him or the conference before but the site looked pretty good and the lineup of confirmed speakers seemed good (mainly representatives of companies, but fairly high profile companies).
The only problem is that the conference is in the USA and I live in Melbourne Australia.
I replied back to the organizer saying that they look like they’ve put together an interesting conference but asking if they had budget for speakers (there was no mention of any in the previous email). I explained that I live in Australia and that I’d need to find a way to at least cover costs.
Calculating the Cost
The reply came today – we’d be happy to give you free entry to the conference but don’t have budget for speakers.
I begin to do the calculations. The site says that a pass to the event is around $800 – that’s my ‘payment’.
Then there’s the expenses of the trip. They include airfares (around $2200 including the flight to the US and then a connecting flight to the conference (a 20 hour trip each way), hotels (4 nights – if I stayed at the conference hotel this would be another $700), taxis, meals, drinks etc. Perhaps if I went to a cheaper hotel and shopped around for flights I’d get away with $2500 for the conference.
Also in the expense column is time – there’s time to prepare for the session but then travel and the conference. All up I’d need to be away from home for 7 days, possibly 6 if I didn’t have a day to find my feet and get over the jet lag before the conference (something I try to do).
7 days away from family sucks from my end (I miss them) – but it means a pretty big sacrifice for my family who has to rearrange their schedule a fair bit as we have 2 toddlers who have a routine that I’m a fairly big part of.
7 days away also means time away from my business. I can do some of it from the road – but not everything. This means in the week before leaving there’s double the work and the week after there’s catchup work. I do have some part time admin support but I’m largely a one man business – it’s hard to take time away.
So on the plus side – I get a $800 free pass to the conference – and as most speakers know the opportunity to network, present myself as someone worth hiring or buying from.
Conferences can be lucrative if you are selling something – problem is that that’s not my business model. I build blogs that people read, my income is largely advertising based – 500 or so people at a conference don’t convert to a heap of extra income even if they all decide to become weekly readers. Yep I do sell a couple of things – but they’re fairly low end and not overly expensive products – I like to keep even my best stuff affordable.
Perhaps I could cover my financial costs by going into a hard sales pitch for my e-book during my session (although all they were offering me was to be on a panel) – but you know what? I don’t want to SELL during my presentation – that’s not my style, I want my presentations to be about delivering value to attendees not selling something to people. I do whatever I can to pack so much useful content in to my presentations that people find it hard to keep up! I don’t want to be the guy at the conference who spends half his time big noting what he can do for people or pointing out what competitors don’t do right! I want to give value, not a sales pitch (more on this below).
So it’s pretty clear that this type of ‘opportunity’ just doesn’t fit with where I’m at. Perhaps if I lived in another part of the world or perhaps if I had an expensive product or service to sell it could be worth it – but the reality is that I’m passing.
So why the rant?
Why don’t I just pass and move on? Shouldn’t I just change my business model (and introduce some expensive products to sell) and get on with it?
Perhaps this is coming off as me just complaining about not getting paid or only being in it for the money – but I should say that I do occasionally speak at conferences for free (in fact I’ve done it many times).
I did one a few weeks back because the proceeds of the conference went to charity. I’m speaking at Blog World Expo in Vegas in a couple of weeks time for free (they’re at least paying for my flight), I did one a few weeks back because I believed in the ethos that the organizer had and wanted to support them in getting it up and running. If it is something I believe in then there’s certainly been plenty of times that I’ve taken time out and even taken a hit financially to be a part of it.
However – I also have done quite a few freebie conferences over the years that I’ve later regretted being a part of – where I’ve felt used, where there was no win/win, where I’ve been given a token gift for my effort.
In the conference I’m talking about above – here are some of the reservations I have (based upon past experience):
- The conference is making money – I know, times are tough and it’s hard to be in event planning – but this conference has 10-15 gold and silver partners/sponsors plus numerous others. It has exhibitors. It is charging $800 a head (they’re saying over 450 are registered to attend already). It’s held numerous other conferences on the same topic in other parts of the world. If it were not profitable they would not be doing it.
- As a conference attendee I’m completely sick of presentations by people who have to cover their costs of being there by selling themselves or their services. Not paying your speakers means that they have to get paid for their time in some other way – some smart ones do this in a way that still manages to deliver value to attendees, but many do not. How many times have you had to sit through sponsored presentations or pseudo sales pitches at a conference you’ve paid to attend?
- I’ll bring registrations – this might sound a little ego driven but last time I spoke at a conference the organizer told me that he’d had 50 or so registrations because I was part of the line up. Now this number will vary a lot from conference to conference and I don’t promise to promote every event I go to – but I know as a conference attendee that I’ve registered for some simply because I wanted to hear a certain speaker do their thing. I’ve worked hard to build my profile over the years – I’m more than happy to lend that profile for free to help good causes or things that I believe in…. but when you’re going to directly benefit from it financially in a purely commercial sense – I think it only fair that there’s some kind of acknowledgment of that. On a side note – the conference that this post is about actually asked me in their pitch to tweet and blog about it – I found this particularly ‘cheeky’.
- The best conferences I’ve been to were where the speakers were paid generously (in fact one I went to the speakers actually were not only paid but got some very nice (and not cheap) surprise gifts at the end) and asked not to ‘pitch’ during their presentations. These are the kinds of conferences I’d pay to attend again and again, they’re the ones I ask others to come to with me – they’re all about giving value to those who attend and acknowledging it from those who contribute.
Again – I know event planning isn’t easy and the economy is tough at the moment and perhaps I’m being totally naive about the whole business….
But in the end I guess I wanted to put it out there that if you’re putting on a conference and you want a speaker that perhaps actually making it worth their while will not only help you to attract those that you want to speak – but perhaps it’d also give them more incentive to put together presentations that delivered value rather than sales pitches – something that will benefit those attending your conferences and the bottom line in the long term as people worked out if they’d attend again next year.
End of Rant – now it’s over to you. Feel free to come back at me with why I’m wrong, what you’d add or your own experiences of both being an attendee or speaker at a conference.
The last couple of weeks ‘V’ (my wife) and I have been taking part in a weekly evening program called ‘Positive Parenting’. We’ve been parents (of those two little guys over on the right) for a bit over 3 years now and thought it might be good to get a bit of input on the topic. While much of it so far has been more reinforcing what we’re already doing by instinct – it’s also been helpful to be given frameworks for some of the concepts.
While much of it is common sense in some regards being given language to describe the ideas gives us some more techniques to try.
A few of these techniques that I’ve enjoyed:
- Escalation Trap – most parents have experienced it. It’s a pattern whereby you as a parent only seem to get your child to do anything by escalating your efforts to get their attention – ie shouting, screaming, threats and craziness. The child also uses the same technique to get what they want – (tantrums). When this pattern takes over a family things can get pretty crazy as everyone’s pattern of behavior is to only respond to escalated behavior and to get their way by escalating.
- Ask, Say, Do – a cool little technique for teaching a child to do something. Instead of taking complete control of a situation and doing everything for the child you start by asking them what they think they need to do first (giving them an opportunity to say what the first step is). If they ’say’ it correctly you move on to ‘Doing’ but if they don’t you then ’say’ what they need to do first. ‘Do’ is all about the child doing with you assisting – rather than the other way around. Then when the first step is complete you go through the cycle again (ask, say, do). I’ve been using this one for a few days now and our eldest really enjoys it – something about him being in control but there being a clear process seems to work well for him.
- Accidental Rewards – where you reward bad behavior – sometimes just to make a child stop behaving badly (buying the toy they want when they’re throwing a tantrum in the supermarket) or sometimes inadvertently by giving the child attention when they’re doing something antisocial (laughing when the child throws mashed potato at their grandmother). The problem with these accidental rewards is that the child learns that the behavior can get them something and they’re sure to repeat it.
I think some of the other ‘lessons’ that I’ve found helpful are:
Earlier today I was making a Carrot and Maple Syrup Soup in preparation for dinner tonight (it’s a starter that we’re having as part of a Christmas in July dinner that we’re having for a few friends) and I tweeted that I was making it.
So many people asked for the recipe that I thought I’d share it here in full rather than in 140 character bites.
I should say that this is a recipe we got from a ‘Delicious’ Magazine (August 2009) (pretty sure that’s only available in Australia).
- Preheat an oven to 180 degrees celcius (350 f).
- Line a roasting tray with baking paper. Chop up 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of Carrots (into 1-2cm (0.5-1 inch) segments) and put it in the tray.
- Grate 2-3cm (an inch) of Ginger over the top of the Carrot.
- Finely chop up a couple of cloves of Garlic and sprinkle over the top of the Carrot and Ginger.
- Drizzle a third of a cup of Maple Syrup and 2 table spoons of Olive Oil over the top.
- Season it with Salt and Pepper and mix it all around (toss it a little) so that the Carrots are covered with the syrup and oil.
- Place the tray into the oven for 30 minutes (actually for me it took a little longer) or until the carrot is starting to go soft. Turn (or give it another mix) after 15 or so minutes.
- Put the carrot mixture (including all the yummy juices) into a saucepan with 4 cups of either Chicken or Vegetable stock.
- Season it and bring it to the boil. Then let it simmer (covered) for 20 minutes (until the Carrot is really soft).
- Blend/Puree the mixture until it is smooth using a hand blender.
- Serve the soup in bowls with another drizzle of Maple Syrup and some creme fraiche and a garnish of chives.
- The recipe suggests serving it with buttermilk scones but we’ve got some yummy bread as it’s a starter for our meal and not the main dish.
I hope the conversions I’ve done for those of you not used to metric measurements are OK :-)
I’ve not taken a picture of the final dish yet but the one above is during the roasting stage (taken with my iPhone so don’t expect too much of the pic).
Update: The soup was a hit – rich, sweet and a lovely deep golden color. It was a great way to start the meal.
A number of people have emailed me in the last few days asking about what methods of meditation I use (after I mentioned that I meditate in my previous post on the Rest/Work matrix) – so I thought I’d take the opportunity to describe one method that I’ve found to be very helpful.
The meditation is actually an ancient one – it’s called Examen of Consciousness (sometimes just called Examen) and it was developed by St. Ignatious Loyola (that’s a picture of him below – I think he’s blogging).
Examen a Christian meditation but I’m sure people of other faith backgrounds could use much of it with some modification and that even those who don’t practice any religion could benefit from some of the exercise too. I’ll write it up primarily as I practice it (I’m sure there are many variations) and from the Christian perspective but do feel free to adapt and fit it to your own situation.
The point of Examen is to find the movement of God in our daily lives as we review the day that we’ve just had (or are having). As a result I find that it’s best to do at the end of the day (I quite often use it in bed and fall asleep part way through).
The meditation has 5 stages or steps and can take as long as you have. I usually take 10-15 minutes to move through it but occasionally do a longer one looking back further than the day I’ve just had (ie it can be done looking back over a week, month, year or more).
A few weeks ago as I lay on my acupuncturist table attempting to ignore the sensation of the needles by pondering my life – I visualized the following chart.
Later that day I shared it on Twitter – the reaction was quite positive, so I thought I’d share it here with a few thoughts on how it came to be.
By no means do I consider myself to be a self help guru or expert in any of this – the chart comes more as I thought about when I find myself to be ‘at my best’ – physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually.
As I lay on the table attempting not to squirm I came to the very non earth shattering realization* that I’m at my best when I have a good mix of activity and rest.
*Tangent: I call these realizations ‘goldfish moments’ based upon the myth that goldfish have a three second memory and that I seem to have these ‘ahaaaa!’ moments in a cyclical fashion every few months and then realize that I’ve ‘discovered’ them before time and time again.
Rest and Activity
What was different about this realization that I’d not pondered before is that there are different types of ‘rest’ and ‘activity’. Previously I’d been thinking about it purely on a physical level however the reality is that in my line of work I have extended periods of physical rest and mental activity (I sit at a desk for many hours each day writing, interacting with others, being creative, thinking strategically etc).
On the flip side of this is that when I exercise (something I need to do more of) I quite often let my mind go blank and find it to be a mentally restful experience.
Of course you can also be active both mentally and physically (strategic thinking when playing sport could be an example) and at rest both physically and mentally (something I experience often in times of meditation).
As I lay on the acupuncture table that day I realized that I’m at my best when I get a balance of all kinds of rest and activity. Conversely it is when I get out of balance (usually for me it’s about a lack of physical exercise or a lack of mental rest) that I find myself getting into some kind of trouble (usually for me it’s when I get sick).
The conclusion that I came to was that I need to be more intentional in thinking about these things. As I’ve mentioned above – I tend to live in top right hand corner of this matrix (Active Mind and Body at Rest). I do stray into the lower right area (Body and Mind) from time to time (mainly for sleep and occassionally for meditation) but I think I’d be a healthier with more balance.
I suspect we all have our natural areas of the matrix where we spend most of our time. I have a number of friends who I shared this with who reflected back that their main struggle is finding times to have rest their mind (even when they lay in bed they’re always thinking/worrying/planning etc).
I’m certain that this matrix is not perfect (for example I’m not sure we all have to live right in the center – it also ignores many other factors of healthy living such as diet) – consider this one of those half thought through ideas* that I have and feel free to add your own thoughts/reflections and experiences.
Note: I suspect this blog will have a lot of these half thought through thoughts. I love to think out loud and love that many of my thoughts and ideas are actually completed by those around me – that’s why I love blogging/social media so much, together we are a lot smarter.
A few questions to ponder.
- Which quadrant do you live in? Which do you need to do/explore more?
- What’s missing from the matrix? What other examples of activities would fit into the different areas?