A blue moon

Well, you know, it’s right up there with when pigs fly. Friday was a blue moon, and was also the day that I met most of the team at my new company. Excitement. I wasn’t really nervous until I realised that it was actually kind of an important day in my career. I suppose every new job change is, but this one especially.
Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling very well, to the point where I decided not to train in the evening. When the morning is a disaster and you don’t feel much better all day, best not to go to the gym just because that was what you’d planned to do. I am not sure whether I’m coming down with something or whether the previous day’s workout was so taxing to the central nervous system that it knocked me out. 6x200m at 80-85% should be a walk in the park for me, as it was a technique day.
I’d prefer to blame high stress and poor sleep, although I am starting to handle the stress better. I have no choice because those adrenals can only take so much. If qigong knocks you out like acupuncture, something’s wrong. Most people don’t do either so let me put it this way …. If you’re healthy they can add to your energy stores. If you’re stressed or not healthy they will knock you on your ass, but then you do recover more quickly than you would otherwise. I don’t claim to understand Chinese medicine. I do claim to understand my body, and am trying to get better at listening to it.
I definitely need to get better at sticking to my bedtime!! And speaking of scheduling, due to a clerical error, I may be postponing my U.S. trip by a week or so. This is the sort of uncertainty that I don’t care for. But it is what it is. Kind of like living without my smart phone and weightlifting shoes. It’s amazing how much I had come to rely on Google Maps. Oh well, I’m never one to cry over spilt milk, and I did drop that phone far too many times!!
Busy second half to the week. Wednesday worked at Heart and met a VERY interesting Telkom tech, then went to the Alba Lounge to hear a Silicon Cape talk on PR for small businesses by Sarah Rice, who runs PR for Mxit and Michelle Atagana from Memeburn. So apparently PR is like elevator pitches: make sure you know your message, make sure you clearly deliver it, make sure it’s interesting, and relevant. Oh, and relationships matter (no, really??). I am only now realising the complete and utter depth of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’
Thursday, worked remotely. Went to Sandbar because I was craving an omelette and wanted a quiet place to read, and start to absorb mass amounts of data. You know that feeling where your brain literally hurts from trying to learn too much too quickly? Yeah well thank this article for introducing me to beamforming, spatial multiplexing, signal to noise to interference ratio (ok this one I had kind of heard of) and polarisation, among other things. Actually a great intro to understanding WiFi.
Friday back to Heart and pretty much finished my overview slides on the acceleration framework. Now I just need to put it all into an Excel tool but seriously …. Being able to have a framework that makes sense into which I can dump all the diagnostics is the link I’ve been missing for so long. There is a logical order to these things. Plus when you write it all down on paper conceptually it’s so simple.
It even fits neatly into a Tweet: Business: fill a customer need, do it differently than the competition, turn a profit. Simple, right?
Plus, the basic building blocks for market success and operational success/cost containment are essentially the same. What is so damned hard then? We get caught up in the details and lose sight of the forest for the trees. This is a mistake I’ve made in the past, spreading myself too thin, and I am not going to make it again. It’s trite, but I can’t. The stakes are too high.
Some athletes out-perform in the gym and then don’t do so well on game day/meet day/comp day. Some athletes excel in competition. When the stakes are high, that’s when I pull through. And even what I consider to be under-performance compared to my potential is still not too bad. But not bad isn’t enough; mediocre success isn’t going to suit anyone, after all.
Stumbled upon an interesting article, which talks about stereotypes of females in Silicon Valley. This is obviously quite relevant to me as I start to move back into tech. I wonder sometimes if I’m naïve on this particular point but I definitely don’t feel like I’ve been boxed in because of my gender. People of course size you up when they first meet you and they make assumptions. But hell, engineers are as quick to dismiss a male salesman as a female marketer. Yeah, it’s a strange combo: young(ish), female, American, competitive athlete, leader, business strategist.
I recognised pretty early in my career that this ability I have to work cross-functionally is unusual, and valuable. I was one of the few people at Ask Jeeves, I think, who knew engineering, network operations, and sales inside and out. Well, except for ad sales. They were a … different group. But I realise now that it actually makes sense: it’s all about connecting with people and THAT is what I do really well, when I want to.
On the flip side, my bite is worse than my bark. I come off intimidating (apparently), and I speak with conviction which comes across as gravitas (apparently), but then you get to know me and you realise that I am reasonable and pragmatic, I try to do the right thing, I do listen, I change my mind when it’s appropriate.
Just: don’t get on the wrong side of me. You get on the wrong side of me by either taking advantage of me or mine, hurting me or mine, or having the epic bad luck to compete against me, and you’re going to feel me. I don’t win every battle I pick, but damn. Or, put another way: I have a long fuse but when I snap, I snap, and it can get pretty ugly.
As much as I actually don’t like being the centre of attention (I’d rather people say nice things about me behind my back than to my face, because I’m kind of shy that way), I do rather enjoy making people think again. Think girls are weak? Think athletes can’t lead? Think a woman can’t hold her own in a boardroom? Think you can dismiss someone because of their age or how they dress? Think again.
Back to my point. We all stereotype. It’s normal, and it’s natural. Some people have an easier time seeing to the core of someone than others. Some people never look past the surface. Don’t be that guy.  
  • “Eating your own dogfood is not news.” – Sarah
  • “If you bring a machete to a peaceful protest … it’s not peaceful any more.” – Rob
  • “I do compete well, I suppose.” “But that’s a lot of pressure on you.” – Ellie & Daniel (odd thing is, I never thought of it that way)
  • “Well, you ARE a girl.” – Mike (He says I was asking for it. I probably was.)
  • “Please make sure all the marketing material is in English.” – Michael
  • “People must not tell you that you’re beautiful, rather that you’re clever.” – Babett 


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