17 Things I Learned from Future Assembly.

Future Assembly was an event celebrating all things tech. It was held in Melbourne November 13/14 to explore the connectedness of things. In a ultra-connected world what are the implications for us? My interest is in the Future of Work and how the changes in technology will change the way we work. I’m keen to learn what skills and mindsets will enable us to thrive into the future. I learned a lot over these two days, saw some very cool stuff and met some interesting people.
From the event website.
In 2008, the number of devices connected to the internet overtook the number of humans on earth. What will a connected world where most things can talk to each other mean for our world and future generations?
So what did I learn? Here’s a snapshot taken from my twitter feed (#FA15) and my memory:
  1. There are ethics to consider in the development of technology, especially AI, it’s important to ask ourselves “Why and for what purpose?” More stuff?
  2. Getting a mini-me figurine of oneself from a body scan is a vain pursuit until you see how bad your posture is!
  3. Being a last minute ring in exhibitor and being candid about how crappy your prototype is and how much of a pain it is taking the thing through customs, being mistaken for an explosive device, doesn’t always detract from how cool the device is. It was a bluetooth enabled iteration of a Thermomix like device that had only one button, all controls via iPad/iPhone.
  4. The internet of things can include a fork that analyses your food and tells you when you’re are eating too much sugar.
  5. Iceland is beautiful, I felt like I was there but I wasn’t, I had my first Virtual Reality experience.
  6. The Loon Cup, a Kickstarter-funded smart menstrual cup, may struggle in the marketplace unless they can address the issue of bluetooth emanating from one’s cervix to communicate how full the cup is. Not to mention battery life.
  7. We have a discomfort with injectable tech yet we’ve been using it for our pets for years.
  8. The hoverboard is real! I saw one in real life! My partner, an early adopter, has been wanting to get one, being able to talk to someone about functionality, price, run time, etc. was gold! (Update, since then she bought one and we’ve been having heaps of fun with it!)
  9. The Tesla has nothing but additional storage space under the hood. I guess all the machinations are under the chassis.
  10. Skills related to design for Virtual Reality are likely to be in demand very soon.
  11. Facebook bought Oculus Rift for $2bn. Get ready for the merging of social media and virtual reality!
  12. Medtech seems to be bringing about a pivot in the medical industry, one that is characterised by a purpose-driven focus on actual health and wellness, such as preventive health via genetic analysis, enabling an antiquated system to go beyond ‘one size fits all’ medicine.
  13. CSIRO has an acceleration platform for tech ideas and are looking at ways to bring the cost of health care down globally.
  14. CSIRO have something called a Metal Organic Framework that looks like a powder and has a molecular structure that allows a speck of the stuff to have an interior the size of the MCG, application includes carbon capture for climate change mitigation.
  15. Design thinking and Human Centred Design are the new black. Workshops on these topics were standing room only.
  16. The future looks bright when you look at it through a clear lens. The mainstream media would have us think otherwise. We’re living in an era where crime is low, literacy is up, poverty is down dramatically, we’re living longer and it’s more important now than ever to develop a good bullshit meter to detect what’s real. FutureCrunch showed some great stats to help reframe the modern context. Bring on the future!
  17. Empathy is a critical skill for the future, as machine labour shifts the job market to more human-oriented skills.

What about you? What are you learning about this kind of thing? Were you at the event? What were your thoughts? I’m keen to hear what stands out for you here, what alarms or excites you?

Day One of being 43.

It’s my first day of being 43. What’s on my mind is the businesses I’ve been connected to over the last year or so. I had an amazing conversation with my uncle about business yesterday. I’d known he was in the meat industry and was not keen to talk to him while I was vegetarian, especially after being in earshot of a conversation with another uncle at Christmas about 20 years ago about abattoirs. Lots has changed since then!

Now when thinking about the future of work, I knew he’d be a great person to talk with, he really lights up talking about business, it’s quite refreshing! In my new perspective as an entrepreneur and ‘recovering vegetarian’, I was delighted to hear that his current focus (among about 15 businesses he’s involved with) is Organic Beef! I’ve been struggling with eating beef lately but this gave me new hope! Roo has been my main source of red meat when I do eat it, and in Tassie last weekend, wallaby!

Interestingly enough at KPI event on Monday I met a woman who is doing paleo skin care, using organic beef tallow, a product of the beef industry that’s gone out of favour so is a good use of it from what I can see!

Another thing about being 43 is the laugh lines and smile creases that are making grooves in my face. I don’t mind them for the most part but when I want to do something nice for my skin it’s a no brainer, Integrity Cosmetics Serum is my absolute favourite! I feel nourished just smelling it, but I’m also aware of the quality of what goes into it. I worked for Tracey, founder of Integrity Cosmetics a few years ago and learned a lot about what the stuff is made of. Tracey has big visions of a better world and aligns her business practices with these visions by supporting organic producers, many from Tassie and always as local as possible.

TS 600x476AURORA-2Another highlight of the year is getting my logo! I’m thrilled to bits about working with Bodhi Designs to create a logo with layers of my fave shades of blue. I also worked with Alina Leang to have a set of branding guidelines that utilised the logo to establish my brand. This looks like a range of practical guide for tone, colour, font etc, to assist anyone working with me from a marketing, social media or internet profile perspective.

It was great to work with Ostii of HostGreener to create my new website and hear him say, “I love working with people who have branding guidelines,” when I told him I had them. Speaking of which if you need website hosting, Host Greener is a local web hosting provider that uses all renewable energy to provide their service, Ostii also teaches classes to empower entrepreneurs to do their own websites. I LOVED working with him, and was amazed that we could create a fully functioning website in 7 hours over two sessions! I was responsible for all the content and images but we worked hard to get it done and my site was live by the end of it! I was pretty happy and glad I made the decision to let go of Mindbody and Aurora LiveEdit.

I love the webs we weave, the threads and themes emerging here. I love supporting businesses doing good things for the planet. All of these links are people I’ve dealt with directly and have respect for. The links are not affiliate links although I am not adverse to the idea and may do that down the track. There are plenty more businesses I support and perhaps will write more about in the future. (I’d love to hear what you’d like me to write about in the comments.)

If you’re reading this, you have some connection to me and are likely to have some level of trust in me and I hope that you’ll utilise that as well as trust your own judgement about what is right for you. I’m also open to any questions you have about these businesses.

So this is day one of being 43. Pretty good so far, here’s to a great year! Thanks for being with me on this journey!


Art Fag Heaven

During my time in Vancouver I went to a party where I was the only woman, it was primarily members of of the Vancouver Gay Men’s Choir. In this environment, my gender was irrelevant. I spoke with at least 5 of the other party goers 1:1 and a few in 2s and 3s, all of them treated me like one of them. Their ages ranged from a few early 30s guys to 70s or 80s.I relished in the soft spoken yet camp expression of the punky butch looking boys, it was a true delight. Short shorts, white leather motorbike jacket, 3cm spacers in the ears, plaid pants held up with suspenders and accompanied by black combat boots.  There were many neatly manscaped beards, as on most faces of the men I met in Vancouver.

The place was in West End, in the middle of gay town, a penthouse with three balconies. It was exquisitely decorated. Rich red feature wall, table set with ornate china, a mirror with an embellished antique style gold frame, vases of modern looking bouquets. My inner art fag was in heaven.

Inukshuk: From artist Ben Houstie's page on Cap & Winndevon

Inukshuk: From artist Ben Houstie’s page on Cap & Winndevon

I was introduced to one of the hosts of the party as I was about to leave. A framed piece on the wall caught my eye. It was of a group of four hummingbirds, they were colourful but in the traditional native shapes. It was exquisite, I’d never seen anything like it. The vivid colours were striking, the space between the birds reminded me of seeing a group of hummingbirds furiously buzzing around a feeder at a friend’s lakeside cabin. From my days of studying anthropology I recognised the Northwest Coast art. My attention was diverted mid-sentence, I immediately expressed my appreciation of the piece. The host responded with “I have more, you can have…” I didn’t quite hear the end of the sentence, or maybe didn’t believe what I thought I heard.  He went off and came back with a large art folder, easily 100cm by 60cm. It had several pockets with different prints, at least 10-20 of each. He started pulling out prints as he told the story of meeting the artist, and commissioning him to do some images, going with him to the art store to get supplies, asking for some in brighter colours. It took him a while to find the hummingbird one, he pulled a few others out while he was finding it. One of a bright green heron, a duck, a spirit bear, a dragonfly, salmon, Inukshuk (not traditional to Northwest Coast art), sun rays, many brightly coloured except the salmon. The salmon were traditional red and black. He pulled them out saying we could have them, I felt unsure, was this for real? Was he really offering to give out prints of this artwork?  I was flabbergasted.

He talked about the business arrangement he had with the artist, Ben Houstie, and that he’d worked with Bill Reid (the most well known native artist in Canada), that his work was on the old $20 bill. He talked about the challenging relationship with Houstie, who had been ripped off in the past, the stories of others in the art industry who had been greedy and disrespectful. Although he didn’t say it overtly, his commitment to integrity in this arrangement, his appreciation of the art and respect for the artist was clear. He wouldn’t value them, it was a big unknown. Especially, unfortunately, while the artist is alive, it can be a bit arbitrary. He wanted us to have these prints so the art could be appreciated. I was so moved, and still a bit incredulous but I accepted the gift, a few others who were there also accepted this heartfelt generosity. My inner art fag was deeply humbled, and my anthropologist self thrilled, yet my activist self was a bit cautious of this man giving art away, though the artist had been paid, how much, we don’t know.

My friend Ashley took the Herron and Inukshuk, I took the sun rays (for my partner, her colours), the duck (for my mom), and the spirit bear (for my aunt). Another person took the hummingbirds, I didn’t want to be greedy, I took what was left. I feel weird about using the world ‘took’. Still in shock and awe we left the party. I didn’t want to leave too late, I had my school reunion the next day and my host, Jason, had left the party early to go to bed and had been messaging me to find out if I was coming home soon, he was going to sleep.

As we walked up to Davie Street to catch a cab with the poster tube of incredible art, Ashely and I still couldn’t believe what had just happened.

Part of me felt quite uncertain about having accepted the gift, and to refuse would have felt even worse. When it was all happening I started to think of offering to pay something but decided it wasn’t appropriate. I felt childlike in my uncertainty. How do you value something like this?

I have spent years learning to value my own work, which is a very different kettle of fish but part of the same question. What is value? Something is as valuable as you say it is and someone else agrees to pay that amount. But in this case the value for me was the experience, the generosity and the gift. For me this is invaluable.

It still leaves me with lots of questions, however. Was the act of accepting this gift respectful or disrespectful to the artist? When the host was asked if the artist was still alive, he said he’d seen him from across the street just recently. For some artists, having their work appreciated is their intention, for some it’s their bread and butter. I’m left with questions, wondering if I am contributing to exploitation of aboriginal artists or if my appreciation of the art and giving it to others is part of paying this gift forward. I am certainly interested in more of his work. In writing this I did some research and found that his art is available on everything from scarves, and notebooks to children’s toys and spectacle frames. In looking at other art sites, I found the hummingbird image and the sun, there were several I’d seen at the party that were not included on the site.

This experience was a perfect opportunity to receive, something I’ve found challenging in the past. In the end, rightly or wrongly, I now have not only this exquisite artwork that I brought home to Australia to put on my wall and appreciate, but also my experience of awe and humility.

Getting there – Bali to YVR

I was due to fly out of Bali 1am Monday morning. I’d been there for a week with my partner and the in-laws.  All weekend the airport in Bali had been closed due to a volcanic ash cloud over the airport. Thankfully it opened on Sunday afternoon and I couldn’t find anything saying my flight was cancelled. All the Australian flights were cancelled but I was flying to Vancouver on China Southern via Guangzhou (near HK). I said my goodbyes and went to the airport, with fingers crossed. The hotel staff had been trying to get in touch with the airline over the weekend, but their offices were closed. Not helpful!

The airport was full of people and my flight wasn’t even on the list of departures. There were lots of cancelled flights, all of which were clearly indicated on the check-in desks and departure screens…except mine. Finally it came up and I went over, I was the first in the line and only one person behind me. The line next to us wasn’t moving.TathraMeme-shedd-2

Four ladies in pink uniforms started to set up two check-in desks but no one got processed. People from the next line approached them, speaking Mandarin. At one point I heard one of the airline reps say “waiting for permission”. I noticed there was no gate assigned to flight CZ3006. There wasn’t one for the next line either, no wonder it wasn’t moving. It was a bit odd to me that no one else was getting in the queue for my flight. It was just me and a Japanese man who was pretty focused on his game device, not so concerned about what was going on around him. I decided to sit down on the floor. It didn’t stop people from walking over me, like I didn’t exist, I felt invisible. There was lots of chatter around me, I starting to get concerned that we weren’t going anywhere tonight.

I got especially worried when the head airline rep left, but the sign didn’t change. It wasn’t looking good. I asked the remaining airline rep what was happening with the flight. The woman said, “maybe cancel”, and as she packed up to leave I asked again. “Yes, cancel.” Right then!

I was unsure if leaving before the official cancellation would be wise but I decided to go. Got an offer for private taxi from a guy who said 120000 IDR which was a price I was happy to pay (approx $12 AUD), so I went with it. His car was nicer than some of the vehicles I’d been in over the last week, official taxis and tour vans included, and he got me back to the hotel super quick. I was back there by 12.30am. I emailed my travel agent on the way to see if they could advise me or get me any other information when they opened in Melbourne the next morning.

I was very grateful to have a place to come back to, lots of people would be sleeping in the airport. After a decent sleep I got up early and went to the concierge to see if we could get info on my flight. “If your flight has been affected by the volcano, press one.” I was on hold for 20 minutes which turned out to cost nearly 400000 IDR ($35 AUD). The minute I hung up I got an email from the travel agent. She’d booked me on a flight for 1pm but there was no guarantee it would go ahead and no info about connecting flights to LAX from Guangzhou. I had breaky with Emma & the Lynch’s once more, said good bye again and went to the airport.

This time CZ3009 was already on the board and the queue for check-in was very long. Where were all these people last night? How did they know not to come? I’m pretty sure there was only one other non-Asian person in queuing for the flight. I was glad to see it looked like it was going ahead, still no gate number but people were being processed, luggage was going on the conveyor belts.

It took at least an hour to get through the line. With my Australian Passport in hand, I checked-in and was told that my connecting flight would be sorted at the transfer desk in Guangzhou. The flight left after 3pm. It was smoky, I swear someone had a cigarette in the loo at least 3-4 times during the flight. It reminded me of the days when smoking was allowed on flights, back when my parents were splitting up and we flew from Canada to Australia and back a few times. This was an unexpected memory of another very difficult time in my life.

When I arrived at Guangzhou around 8pm, we were piled on to three buses that drove at least 3km across the tarmac from the plane to the gate. Thankfully, the transfer desk was right there. I went to get my passport, it was gone. WHAT!!!??! Completely mortified. I checked all my bags but I was absolutely sure I’d put it in my computer case which was under my arm the whole time. I knew it was the first thing I’d need so I’d kept it handy. I don’t know how it could have gone missing. If it had fallen out, wouldn’t someone have noticed and picked it up? Thinking about my experience with other passengers cutting in front of me in the line at the gate, I wondered if looking out for each other was a lesser value in Chinese culture, or maybe less extended to foreigners.

After we looked through my backpack and carry-on luggage they looked on the plane and the bus. I was so hopeful it would be found. I kept saying to myself, ‘It’s been found’, and imagined it being handed back to me, feeling grateful. The woman approached me: “I sorry to tell you we have not found your passport.” Then it went from bad to worse. I couldn’t travel any further without a passport. They were going to turn me back. The next flight to Melbourne was full (they wanted to send me to Brisbane!) and was told I may be waiting a day or two… OMFG! I was devastated.

I contemplated what this meant. Going back would mean being home for my partner’s birthday, I’d get to sleep in my own bed, I’d see my dogs again. That would have been ok, good even, despite the cold. I was gutted thinking about giving up on this trip to Canada that I’ve been dreaming about for a year though! The lady went back to the desk and I began to weep. Letting go of my trip was painful. It meant a lot to me. I allowed myself to feel and express the pain. I didn’t care that people could hear me. I was grieving, hard.

Then I remembered I had brought my expired Canadian passport, with the idea that getting it renewed whilst in Canada would be easier than from Oz. The lady at the transfer desk was doubtful but called the Canadian Consulate, and put me on the phone. I had a nice chat with a friendly guy with a refreshing Canadian accent. He was from Port Alberni on Vancouver Island and we talked about living in different suburbs of Victoria: Oak Bay; Fairfield, and of course Fernwood. He said he was satisfied I was legit, not some imposter. I thought he was just friendly, but he was sussing me out! I thought he was in Canada but he is stationed in Guangzhou to deal with people like me!

The upshot: my trip was back on! I was flooded with relief. Next, to get me on a flight to YVR (Vancouver Airport)! By this time it was after 10pm and no more flights tonight, which we already knew. If I had a passport they’d have put me up in a hotel until they could get me a seat, but without one, I couldn’t leave the airport. I slept on the floor not far from the transfer desk. Not fun but I managed. I was glad for the neck pillow I got just before leaving Bali. I used it under my hips instead of sleeping on polished marble flooring.

My flight the next day was at 2pm. I was stressing but used all the techniques at my disposal to accept the situation and make the best of it. I’d been listening to the Philosopher’s Notes (PNs) on Byron Katie’s “The Work” in the queue for the check in to the flight in Bali. It’s all about “Loving What Is”, acceptance, not arguing with reality and what we think ’should’ be. How appropriate. I gave myself space to feel what I was feeling but caught myself worrying, let it go, breathed, and came to a place of acceptance. It felt like the best choice to make.

I did a lot of writing while I was waiting, and listened to more PNs. The one on Introvert Power helped me realise I’d been needing space and being on a family holiday for the last week, I hardly took any time to myself. No wonder I was a bit withdrawn toward the end! I also really struggled with the noise. People talking loudly, announcements for boarding flights at the gates, on top of the fact that I’d slept on the floor and got maybe three hours sleep, it was taking a toll. I did what I could to take care of myself, I felt ok considering.

Finally I got on the plane, but not before more people cutting in front of me to get in the queue to board the bus that took us to the plane. The good thing was that this flight was direct to YVR, no stopover in LAX, and this leg was 11 hours to Vancouver.

I sat next to a UM (unaccompanied minor, I’d been one myself back in the day) and a girl on a school trip who smelled like she hadn’t bathed for a while and wasn’t feeling well. At least it wasn’t smoky this time. I think I got 2 hours sleep altogether, my earplugs didn’t seem to help. The food was good and we got two meals: one while I would have loved to have been sleeping but I was also happy to eat.

Acknowledging that I wasn’t going to sleep more on the flight I did some more writing, listened to more PNs, watched some business shows on future trends and automated manufacturing, robotics, nano tech etc. and some original CSI. Not much else was of interest. I just wanted to pass the time until the flight was over.

When we finally touched down in VYR, the tears started to flow.  The sense of familiarity was like a wave of comfort, I loved it, relished it. Vancouver Airport has become one of the most beautiful airports I’ve seen. The aboriginal art, the recreated natural environments, the light airy feel. It’s just gorgeous.

The passport machines not surprisingly didn’t work for me, but being able to go to the Canadian Passport section was great. The process was very simple: streamlined and no line ups! The expired passport was fine. I was very emotional at the customs counter, telling him about losing my Aussie passport, using my expired one, just the whole situation, so much pent up emotion, leaking out all over! The officer consulted with his colleague about my passport and then came back to me and said, Ok, thanks. Off I went! Was it really that easy?

Getting my checked luggage wasn’t too long and being in a nice environment helped. Somehow it bothered me less when a couple of people from the plane pushed in front of me again to get their bags. The fact that I was here and had no passport hassles had me feeling really grateful. Before I got off the plane I said to myself that I’d like to get on the next possible ferry and I was in luck!

I managed to get to the PCL counter 5 minutes before the next bus, and I got on the 1pm ferry! I headed straight for the buffet, had an amazing lunch of beautiful BC salmon and salad with sprouts, cuke, shredded carrot, spinach and ginger soy dressing, SO tasty! I spent a little time on the deck but it was quite windy and carting around a roller bag wasn’t great. I went back inside and found a seat with a great view and within 20 minutes of sitting down: “Attention passengers, we are now approaching Shwartz Bay Terminal…”

As I write this I’m on the PCL bus into the city and so much of what I’m seeing is familiar, some new stuff, fresh faces on old buildings, but lots is the same. I can see the Olympic Mountains on the horizon and am really loving being here. I worked my ass off to get here and I made it!

5 Learnings and a Reflection from FUTURE OF WORK Conference

I attended the Future of Work Conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre recently. It was a gathering of a diverse array of organisational psychologists, researchers, co-working enthusiasts, tech junkies, futurists, employers of choice, entrepreneurs, educators and students.

There were about 200 people in attendance and took advantage of all the mod cons of events. Several keynote speakers were present, not via satellite but via Cisco’s teleconferencing technology. They were sponsors and as a result were able to see and hear Guy Kawasaki, Lynda Gratton, and Dave Evans the Futurist from the USA and UK.

The hashtag for the conference, #FOW2014 was prominently displayed and tweets posted on screens outside the plenary room. These days it’s normal for people to be at a talk and be paying attention to a glowing screen in their lap rather than the speaker. Tweeting quotes from the presentation, posting pictures of slides, even asking questions and having dialogue with other participants. This was new for me and I got right into it, more on that shortly, but first, my learnings.

FOW Conference – that’s my blonde head in the middle.

Some of the things I learned:

1) With advances in nano technology and medicine we’ll likely start to live even longer. Organs are already being generated using donor tissue and 3D printers. WEIRD! 

What does this mean for human relationships? Perhaps we’ll start to question the validity and modern relevance of monogamy even more, brining my relationship coaching for opening up to multiple relationships even more in demand. How exciting, sort of! 

Note to self: Let go of the last shreds of shame and caginess associated with incorporating this skill into my professional repertoire.

2) Even when there are forward thinking ideas that go beyond divisiveness, once a discussion on collective intelligence gets oriented around the lack of diversity and inequality, discussion can easily get bogged down in the wrongness aspect of right and wrong. 

Note to Organisers: Be clear about the desired outcomes of a session so that session facilitators are empowered and enabled to steer the conversation towards productive discussion before it goes down the rabbit hole. And participants can balance spontaneously generated responses without taking it on a track that goes way off topic and brings down the whole room. 

3) Twitter is a great way to have conversations during plenary sessions. I am generally not a big tweeter but have found events to be the place I seem to engage most and this conference took my tweeting to a whole new level. Initially tweeting quotes or concepts from a talk, then reflections and questions. 

I especially enjoyed watching the person in front of me retweeting me from their iPad mini! The questions and reflections of other participants were fascinating and particularly questions from @JWatersLynch. The dialogue generated from that was rich and provocative. Another pleasant surprise, when I managed to start including the twitter handle of the speakers, I found I got responses and gratitude for my tweets, it sure makes the world feel smaller and more connected when you can engage at that level! 

Note to Organisers: Include speakers twitter handle and hashtags in presentation/session title slides. 

4) Emailing people you met with a personal note about your interaction is an important follow up action. In one interaction I learned that Google Plus is the social media of business, and a place to put a bit more attention to. Sadly I’ve been unable to incorporate it into Hootsuite. Another interaction I mentioned a company doing similar work to the person so I sent him the name of the company and offered to introduce him to my contact there. I love being a connector. Feels good to bring people together and be completely unattached to the outcome! 

5) When presenter doesn’t purport to have all the answers and asks the audience, it beautifully generates interaction and cultivates wisdom from the group. I loved having the opportunity to contribute when the question of how to make it safe for a group to talk about difficult issues. I just finished teaching a course where the unanimous feedback about our ability to create safety in the group was affirming and heartwarming. 

I piped up with ‘creating a group agreement’ and ‘modeling vulnerability’ to give the group permission to be vulnerable. For example to ensure we stick to the timeline and intention I might cut off a conversation, that’s hard to do, and is a courageous and vulnerable act that has potential risk for the group and my credibility as a facilitator.

It’s something I don’t take lightly. In the past I’ve done it quite delicately yet it was not well received. Since then I’ve had that in the back of my mind when I step in to end a discussion. Thankfully it doesn’t stop me but I’m present to the risk and feel vulnerable doing it. In response to the presenter asking the audience, I talked a bit about powerful vulnerability and how it creates space for transformative moments in groups. This is something I’m quite passionate about. I loved the speakers response, wanting to quote what I just said for the book she’s writing! Can you say ‘ego boost’?!?!

At the end of the conference I was approached by someone looking for a facilitator. We had a conversation that felt like a strong lead. I am delighted and will be following that one up on Monday. Update: I have a meeting next week to find out about the scope to form a proposal. Thrilled with this outcome! 

Last thing of note. Women are caught in a fashion trap. Two of the presenters, one keynote, another in a break out session, appeared to be dressing for the perceived opinions of others. It really felt like they wore what they thought would be acceptable or expected rather than something that expressed their style and personality. This was disappointing on a number of levels. I felt sad for them and wondered what they’d wear if they felt more free to be themselves. I found the attire distracting, noting ill fitting pants or what appeared to be an intentionally let down hem line that was trimmed with lace, antithetical to the stark lines of the styling. 

Why? Why do women who are clearly in positions of power, being asked to speak at a leading conference, why do they still think they have to please someone else? 

I was also disappointed in the feeling that I didn’t have more allies in my recent decision to let go of other expectations and wear what feels right to me. I want more women to express themselves for their own sake, for what has them feeling great, rather than stuff themselves into some preconceived notion of what they should look like. Really, if that’s not the future, I don’t want to go there. Let’s create a future of acceptance, of personal leadership, of pushing the boundaries, respectfully while expressing who we are. It’s our own uniqueness that is a critical part of what we have to offer the world. Let’s step into that fully. If that’s not powerful vulnerability, I don’t know what is!! I admire the people who can wear clothes that augment their individuality and remain stylish. I want more of that in the workplace! 

In essence what I learned is that the future is coming at us, and fast! And that its up to us to create our future, both in terms of how we as a society, relate to technology or integrate it in a way that advances our social development and in terms of getting clear about what we want to do with ourselves and finding ways to make that work. My own entrepreneurial journey has been a profound learning journey and I continue to try new things and learn from them and come up against my own perceived limits and clash against my beliefs about being able to earn a living doing what I love. But ultimately the conference affirmed for me that as the future hurtles toward us, it’s up to me to find my way, and make my way into the world of work, doing what I love and loving what I do. 

Day 27: Dancing with Avicii

Four days left! Wow, pretty impressed with myself that I’ve made it this far. And enjoying making it my own, bringing in other elements, not just about the self love challenge, it’s all connected isn’t it?

There are so many things I want to write about and some of that is starting to come through here. Once the self love challenge is over I will take a bit of a break and then start up again with what wants to be written.

It’s 34 degrees outside, tomorrow, and both weekend days are forecast to top out at 39, Wednesday is the cool day with a high of 24 expected and the other two days mid 30s. Another warm week coming!

Last night I took Emma to Avicii, her xmas present. It was a beautiful night, really warm and festive, on Australia Day. A handful of times I stopped paying attention to the mindless party goers, most of them half my age, and allowed myself to be free of concern. I was able to simply enjoy the moment, the music, the atmosphere, and just move to the music.

2014-01-26 20.34.58There was a couple of guys near us, my gaydar was going off. It became clear to us that they were a couple, but only subtly apparent. I became present to the privilege of being able to be in public with my same sex partner and be affectionate, dancing together. The guys were more reserved, no PDAs, didn’t even put their arms around eachother when a straight couple took a pic of them after they took a pic of the straight couple, a nice gesture as they were doing a selfie.

I was really struck by how reserved guys are. Another straight couple near us had a tall dude with tattoo sleves but looked more like an athelete than a biker. He hardly moved, almost like he was on duty as protector of is girlfriend dancing gently in front of him. A single woman on the other side of us was totally going for it, not wildy but clearly really enjoying herself, not to impress the friends that weren’t with her, just responding to the music expressively. Quite a fascinating range!



Whiskey Aged Apple Cider

Whiskey Aged Apple Cider

A beverage experiment was recently released at the Brunswick Street Cider House. The buzz was as effervescent as the drink being launched. Industry reps of all sorts were in attendance and the taps were flowing. Willie Smith’s Cider had two new products plus the original farmhouse style cider available as complimentary beverages for the launch.
I’d sold plenty of Willie Smiths original recently and was interested to see what else they had to offer. When serving customers at Cider House, when their preference is for a drier cider, I’ll give them a taster of Willie Smith’s and another dry cider, 8 times out of 10 they choose Willie Smith’s.
My own taste is for the sweeter side of the mid-range ciders, so was expecting the Willie Smith’s Bone Dry to draw out the insides of my mouth. It didn’t, it was remarkably ‘wet’ for a dry tasting cider. And I enjoyed it more than I anticipated. I also noticed a few customers later, on the weekend, coming back for schooner after schooner of the Bone Dry. It’s nice to have an alternative to the clear, crisp dry ciders and people seem to like it.
But that’s not even the exciting part! Lark Distillery was present at the launch. Bill Lark explained that their whiskey was not suited to reuse the barrels, and they were quite happy for them to be repurposed. The folks at Willie Smiths wondered what it would be like to age cider in the whiskey barrels and put the idea into action. The result? A beautifully flavoured organic apple cider with a whiskey essence.
When I asked patrons what they thought, the response was unanimously positive. One was quite surprised at how well the flavours go together. The aroma has a hint of caramel with the high notes of the spirit, yet the substance itself is definitively apple cider, no intense kick or sharpness, just a hint of whiskey flavour with a lightly carbonated, unfiltered organic apple cider. Beautifully done.
This cider geek is quite impressed. If you want to get yourself some, Brunswick St Cider House is one of the few places that carries this limited edition experiment. There are only 888 bottles in the world. And the bottles themselves are quite nice, the label is printed on Huon Pine veneer. Fitting, as the apples are grown in the Huon Valley in Tasmania.

30 Day Blog Challenge

It’s true, I’ve had three blog posts in the last year. It’s time to change that. My coach has sent me a 30 day Blog Challenge through the Suitcase Entrepreneur. I am not sure what to expect other than the fact that I will be posting something here every day for the next month. It will be a great way to challenge my perfectionist self, the part of me that keeps me from posting blogs that aren’t vetted by a few people or mulled over for a month or seven. That ends now.

Tomorrow, and every day for the next 30, I will be posting something in response to the challenge material, which takes us through three stages of getting savvy at online business. So, instead of apologising in advance for my mistakes, I will embrace them, I will honour them as my teachers and I will let them be part of my expression, warts and all!

Are you ready? Let’s go!


30 day challenge – See more at: http://suitcaseentrepreneur.com/blogchallenge/#sthash.S6sQKIKE.dpuf

Motorcycle Story – React or Respond?

mBike traffic2Inspired by a big mouthful of exhaust fumes at the Murray Rd/Sydney Rd intersection, I am keen to get in front on the belching truck ahead of me. With no room on the right side and no turning signal from the truck, I made the choice to risk going up the left side where there was room to pass. The light was still red and it seemed safe so I did it. I heard a honk and some words but it didn’t sound like a truck horn so I didn’t assume it was directed at me. I was wrong.

As I turned left, the truck followed, the driver sticking his head out the window yelling. The stop light near Coburg Lake Park was red and he was stopped behind me, irate. I turned around to say: “Sorry, the exhaust…”. But he didn’t hear me, not sure he wanted to either. He was expressing all sorts of nasty stuff yet all I could make out was “where did you learn to ride?” So I just turned back around and shook my head.

At the next stretch of road, he got ahead of me and I gave him a wide birth, wanting to avoid further conflict, even if it meant breathing in the noxious truck exhaust. I noticed how upset I felt, like I wanted to cry. Then I remembered that I have a choice about how I respond to my emotions. I could push it down, I could let it go, I could cry into my helmet (wouldn’t be the first time). Or I could get in touch with the feeling. I was aware that my inner child was hurting. Without really thinking about how to deal with it, I imagined nurturing that scared, hurt child, the arms of the universal mother caring and holding that part of me. Within a few seconds of that thought, the emotional pain was gone. Some hurt remained, but I no longer felt weepy. Continue reading

Grandma is from Axedale

We’re sitting at a big table in the garden out back of an old antique shop/cafe in Heathcote. Three generations of women, my grandmother, and her daughter, my aunt, and her daughter, my cousin. The four of us had set out to explore the area my grandma grew up, Axedale, Victoria, toward Bendigo, about an hour and half north of Melbourne. When Grandma travelled from Axedale to Melbourne when she was young it took about three hours. This was in the 1930s during the depression.

She talked about traveling to Melbourne, one trip stood out in her mind. She was in Moonee Ponds, saw a man with a hat, begging for money to feed his family. Speaking with a wavering voice describing what it was like to see this man in tears, his desperation was still palpable for her. It even choked me up, transported so many years after, to the pain he must have felt.

After lunch in Heathcote we drove further north toward Axedale, taking Grandma on a trip down memory lane and learning about her life. To the east is the old railway line, can see the raised land, but the tracks are gone. Alot had changed since she spent time here. She told us of dancing waltzes, to piano and drums, and sometimes accordion. The whole community used to come out, for any reason to celebrate. It’s where her parents met, at a community dance in Strathfieldsaye Hall. Bill and Mabel formed a strong courtship and my grandmother came from this union, she loves to dance… My cousin says its a bit like her life now, going to dances, her dance style preference is swing blues. Sally shared about a weekend dance workshop with dance teachers from the US and a blues piano player from NYC. Perhaps dance is a thread that weaves through each of our lives.

Next to where grandma lived when she was 5As we arrived in Axedale, Grandma could see that the place she used to live when she was 5 no longer exists, but it’s now a reserve next to the Campapse River where she used to swim. The river once flooded as high as the bridge rails near Ingham’s Hill. Her great uncle died in a flash flood in one of the many local tributaries to the Camaspe River, he defiantly went after a ball he’d thrown and was swept away as his sisters watched in horror. The formidable force of mother nature was not lost on them, living on the land, born and raised in a house built by their father from materials found on the family property. This primitive lifestyle is hard for me to imagine. Growing up at a time when technology has made our lives so much easier than they had it, and perhaps far more complex.

Just off the main highway, from the dirt road we could see the land described in the story of old John’s life, he had come over from Ireland after the Great Potato Famine. He was in Melbourne for a couple of years before heading inland to the region being opened up for pioneer settlement. He wanted some of that land to build a life and family. He met his bride to be in the first year and was married in Melbourne before heading to Axedale. 

The story, written by my great uncle 20 years ago, had no mention of aboriginals and scarce mention of the women as much beyond wife and mother.

I have mixed feelings about John’s dream being realised by having land to work. He cleared the land on his own with an axe, took him years. It is what enabled him to create the family that lead to my existence but it also contributed to the deforestation and ecological disturbance that is synonymous with pioneer agriculture. It breaks my heart thinking what the land might have been like if farming practices we’re less devastating for existing ecosystems, not to mention the traditional custodians of the land.

Juxtaposed with this heartbreak is a kind of pride and curiosity. It was a hard life for the pioneers. I can only imagine what strength and endurance they had or developed to live that way not to mention the sense of adventure to leave their homeland. For them, it was revolutionary and they danced with it. Is this where my strength of conviction and adventurous spirit come from? Are these traits passed on through a blend of nature and nurture? My journey was a bit the opposite, leaving Canada where I grew up, spent 25 years of my life to come back to my homeland.

We sat in the Axedale Tavern, working out where the washing lines would have been. Grandma’s first job was here. After nearly 7 years of school she went to work at age 13. Doing the hotel laundry and helping serve meals when the pub was full of hungry workers. At this point she lived across the road in a blue-stone cottage. She described boiling the clothes and linens in a copper pot and ‘bluing’ them. I asked, “what’s that?” She said to keep the clothes white they “blued” them with a pellet containing a chemical whitener. I’d always wondered how country living and white clothes coexisted. Seemed completely incongruent with my experiences working the land, it was never clean work. Mystery solved!

The publican at the time was Felix Drake, he was twice my grandmothers age. Today there are photos of him in front of the pub with some servicemen in the 1940s during the war. And another picture from the 1950s where Felix is surrounded by his wife and 9 children, mostly daughters. When my grandma was working for him he took quite a liking to her and said that if she was older, he’d marry her.

Sitting back to reflect on how life was for my grandma, Avice Street (b 1920), growing up in the early part of the 20th century, my great great grandfather John O’Donoghue, living his life in the last half of the 19th century (1831-1919), it feels remarkable. So much change has happened since then. As I sit in the 21st century with my iPad, writing my blog reflecting on the past, I begin to wonder what the future holds. Are we in the precipice of economic and ecological disaster? Will we see mass migration to escape devastation, like John O’Donoghue escaped Ireland’s Great Potato Famine but on an grander scale?

Humans are exceptional at adapting when the options are few. I wonder if we’ll be smart about it this time, seeing the writing on the wall, the unsustainable nature of most aspects of modern life, and make the changes while we still have lots of options. I have faith that it’s possible but like my great great grandfather John and my grandma Avice, I can’t imagine what the future holds. All I know is what I can do and who I can be, carrying the conviction for a better life and a sense of adventure along the way as my ancestors did, dancing the revolution.



Sent from my iPad