MonthJanuary 2017

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Today I helped with a school visit. Primary school children coming to 3M to learn about our technologies, try some challenges, and learn about careers. The latter is where I came in; sat down ready to talk about school, education, and how it all leads into careers.

I started with the usual; “how’s your day so far?”, “what are your favourite subjects?” etc. These were soon followed with the classic “what do you want to be when you grow up?”.

I was shocked by how quickly this question stood out as something ridiculous. What was I expecting them to say? Of course, they had answers, but they didn’t have a set plan or know what the job even involved sometimes. It’s a question we always ask children, sometimes far too seriously. Here’s the good and bad side of that question.

Bad – They felt ashamed when they couldn’t answer

Their heads dropped and volume lowered as they timidly said they didn’t know. They said it as if it was an incorrect answer, as if they would get in trouble. They believed they should know and be able to tell me exactly what they wanted to do in 20 years time. It’s obvious how ridiculous this is, yet for some reason they felt that way.

Those that knew spoke proudly about it.

Good – They still dare to dream

“Either a doctor or an 800m Olympian”, “a DJ”, “a robot builder”, “a world famous engineer”.

These were some of the answers that greeted me. I was shocked by the number of kids that wanted to be the best in their future career and actually thought they would be – and why not think that!

Ask them in another 10 years time and the answer might be a similar field but with less ambition or purpose, and that annoys me.

They don’t fear big ambition or dreams, they know they have a big future ahead of them and they are willing to say it! If only more of us could continue with that trait.


Perhaps it is good to ask the question, to people of all ages. But support uncertainty and encourage ambition. Nothing is certain, nothing is unachievable. The more we can encourage children to dare to dream, the more that actually will when they do eventually grow up.

I Don’t Care What You Think About President Trump

Today Trump became president. Whether I like him or not is not my topic for this blog, I have my view and I will share them if asked, but I don’t want to express them for no reason, politics causes lots of debate and we’d be a lot better off if we actually listened – that is in part what I want to share with you.

It has been a frustration to see the constant back and forth in the election process, with lots of aggressive views (mainly on social media), in fact this applies to many other ‘hot topics’. The frustration is that people refuse to believe their opinion is wrong and that the opposing people are stupid. Always keep in mind, people always think they’re doing good. Rarely to people act to extreme lengths with the motive to promote what they think is wrong. Both sides think they’re right.

So ultimately I want to use this blog to get you to watch this video and to pause the next time you see an opinion you disagree with. They think they’re right and so do you, so how can you actually work around that to make progress rather than forcefully tell someone they’re wrong even if they actually are.

How Ed Sheeran Won With Snapchat

Over the last 12 months, Snapchat has really cemented itself are one of the top social media platforms, for use at least with up to 150 million active users daily.

However, it’s also been a bit of a marmite platform for business. Some hailing it as the go-to place for cheap and successful marketing, others saying it doesn’t have a wide enough demographic and its metric are useful for calculating ROI.

I sat in the first camp, I’ve loved Snapchat and always thought it is a hugely untapped platform for any business use or promotion. The question in my mind has always been, ‘how’s best to use it?’. You can use it as a general user, communicating with fans, customers etc, share a ‘story’ to send communications to all of your user base, or create sponsored filters so all users within your specified area.

All have their pros and cons, some are authentic but lack reach, others have the reach but scream of sponsored content which can be a turn off for end users.

However, with some creativity, the perfect strategy for your content can be found, and I believe Ed Sheeran (or his team) has done exactly that.

Just the other week I was playing around on the app, checking out the new filters as they change quite often. I scrolled through the ‘sponsored’ filters impressed to see what was there, but knowing I wouldn’t use them. I then came across a new filter, sunglasses with background music. A concept very similar to a pre-existing and very popular filter, but with a change in music and style of glasses, I promptly recorded and sent a snap of me bobbing along to the beat.

No wording, no sponsored badge, just the graphics. I beat of the song however stuck in my head, I had no idea what it was or who it was by, but I liked it. I used the filter quite a few more times over the following days until one day I heard the same beat playing on the radio. I quickly found out that the song was a new release from Ed Sheeran – Shape of You. The song has been a huge success since release, becoming the UK number 1 straight away and I believe the filter is a big reason.

Firstly, the hardcore fans recognised it was him straight away and took to social media to share the tease of his new sound, creating a huge online buzz even before release. Secondly, for other listeners like myself, it got the song into my head without any pre-judgement of who it was by. I loved the song before I’d heard more than 30 seconds and so as soon as the full song was released I was listening straight away, I don’t I’d be so hooked without that first interest.

So why I am I sharing this. In my opinion, this is a PERFECT example of how to be clever with social media. It’s not about making a sale straight away, it’s about building a buzz ready for the bigger thing.

In case you missed the filter, here’s a video of it being used – sadly it’s no longer live.

Practice Does Not Make Perfect

A conversation this week reminded me of my drum teacher back at the ages of around 13/14.

“Practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent”.

Hardly a lesson went by without him saying this phrase. Perhaps it was the because of it’s repetition, but it really stuck with me.

“Perfect practice, make perfect. It’s will be no use you going away and practising it incorrectly, you’ll come back being able to the play the beat with your eyes shut… but it will be wrong!”

It stuck with me because it makes complete sense. You can just magically become perfect at something through repetition – you’d be insane to think that, according to Einstein at least.

So why’s this variation so important? Well, to me it highlights the need to control all the other variables that can help achieve ‘perfection’. Of course, practice is a huge part, but so is coaching/teaching/mentoring; someone who knows what perfection looks like and can direct you toward it, someone that will correct the faults and introduce the next steps. I believe it also emphasises the need to questions things, if I was practising a beat on the drums I had to stop and ask myself “was the correct?”, “how should  these notes be played?”, “is the timing right?”, asking such questions not only helped me improve what I was playing, but it also helped me to understand why things happened, so if I saw a piece of music in the future with similar note patterns, I might have a good idea of how it should sound.

Practice must be carried out with intent and validation checks to ensure you’re not practising the wrong thing, otherwise you’re really just wasting time.


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