First light didn’t bring the weather I had been hoping for – it was overcast and wet. I had prayed for glorious sunshine for the day of his funeral, but perhaps overcast and wet were better suited to the misery I felt.
At the local fruit & vegetable market last week, a woman reached forward and gently squeezed an avocado to assess its ripeness. Moments earlier I had done the exact same thing and decided it was too soft. I didn’t see the expression on her face, but possibly sensing her disapproval the market stall owner said “what the hell is it with you ****ing people? Last week everyone said they were too hard, so we got softer ones; this week everyone says they’re too soft. You’re never bleedin ‘appy, are you? Customers, honestly…” It was an unexpected barrage, and whilst not overtly aggressive, it appeared full of anger. Nothing further was said, and we all continued our shopping. Silently.
It’s easy to judge people. It’s easy to put people into pigeonholes. I could easily label the market seller as angry, unprofessional and probably in the wrong job. But what’s the point of judging if it’s based on guesswork? The easy route of making assumptions and not asking questions is guesswork. Sometimes you might be lucky and guess correctly. But the rest of the time you’ll be wrong.
The Apple Watch will start shipping in the next few weeks and as is becoming customary, we’ll probably see people queuing around the block determined to be among the first owners. Apple won’t be the first to enter this market, but they will surely further raise the profile of wearables and encourage technology development in areas which we can’t yet imagine.
At the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet conference in February, Sir Tim Cook recently said “a lot of doctors believe sitting is the new cancer“, explaining that if you’ve been sitting for almost an hour the Apple Watch reminds you to get up.
Is this a brilliant use of technology or an indication of how lazy we’ve become? Is it just the latest step towards a world in which we don’t need to think for ourselves?
[Photo credit: www.NationalGeographic.com]
I have often been asked what makes a great placement, and although I’ve not published this before, the list below is a combination of the best practice I have witnessed and recommendations I propose. Continue reading
Employers – Are you thinking about starting a placement scheme? Great! Are you worrying about the long-term commitment? Don’t!
Organisations considering running a program of undergraduate placements sometimes worry that it will be a long-term commitment. Such fear can completely destroy any prospect of creating a placement scheme. It’s good to remember that these things don’t have to last forever.
[Image courtesy of forbes.com] Continue reading
As I wrote last year, mentors do an important job. Many organisations have excellent schemes for apprentices or graduate trainees and they deliver tremendous results. They have carefully planned development programmes, run by the best people. And they make adjustments when things change, as they surely do, over the years.
But some organisations don’t enjoy the same success despite their best intentions. It isn’t always immediately obvious why they under-deliver. The long timescales inherent in personal and professional development programmes don’t help. But one of the reasons is that the wrong people are involved.
Helping others isn’t for everyone. Some don’t enjoy it; they don’t see the value; or they don’t have the patience. Whatever the reason, some just aren’t cut out for it.
Whether it’s a funny video clip of a man chasing a dog in a park, or an inspired Christmas ad campaign which leaves us in tears, we are all now comfortable with the concept of “liking” something, Tweeting about it or blogging about it. But it hasn’t always been like that, and until only recently, sharing our opinions of such things wasn’t at all easy.
The stone in the picture sits in a wall adjacent to the war memorial at one end of our village. I really like it – I find it thought-provoking. Hundreds of children pass it every day on their way to and from school. I wonder how many have noticed it, or taken a few short seconds to read it. Even today, as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I wonder how many will slow down to read it as they pass. Apart from the annual occasions when we congregate to remember those who died, it tends not to get much attention – we’re all too busy going somewhere. And that’s the problem – it can only be seen at one precise location; it needs to be visited. It doesn’t come to us. Continue reading
I recently ran an employability session at a secondary school. One of the themes of the day was about what students can do to make themselves more attractive to prospective employers.
Many of the students saw themselves as a trainee Superman or Superwoman – eventually capable of everything, knowing everything. They saw their time now at school and their future time at college or university as being a time for learning everything they needed – forever. And that somehow if they didn’t learn it now, they’d never do so.
Understanding Engineers #1
Two engineering students were biking across a university campus when one said, “Where did you get such a great bike?”
The second engineer replied, “Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike, threw it to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, “Take what you want.”
The first engineer nodded approvingly and said, “Good choice: The clothes probably wouldn’t have fit you anyway.”
Understanding Engineers #2
To the optimist, the glass is half-full.
To the pessimist, the glass is half-empty.
To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
Understanding Engineers #3
A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.
The engineer fumed, “What’s with those guys? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!”
The doctor chimed in, “I don’t know, but I’ve never seen such inept golf!”
The priest said, “Here comes the greens-keeper. Let’s have a word with him.” He said, “Hello George, What’s wrong with that group ahead of us? They’re rather slow, aren’t they?”
The greens-keeper replied, “Oh, yes. That’s a group of blind firemen. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime!”
The group fell silent for a moment. The priest said, “That’s so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.”
The doctor said, “Good idea. I’m going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there’s anything she can do for them.”
The engineer said, “Why can’t they play at night?”
Understanding Engineers #4
What is the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers?
Mechanical engineers build weapons.
Civil engineers build targets.
Understanding Engineers #5
The graduate with a science degree asks, “Why does it work?”
The graduate with an engineering degree asks, “How does it work?”
The graduate with an accounting degree asks, “How much will it cost?”
The graduate with an arts degree asks, “Do you want fries with that?”
Understanding Engineers #6
Three engineering students were gathered together discussing who must have designed the human body. One said, “It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints.”
Another said, “No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections.”
The last one said, “No, actually it had to have been a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?”
Understanding Engineers #7
Normal people believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Engineers believe that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet.
Understanding Engineers #8
An engineer was crossing a road one day, when a frog called out to him and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.” He bent over, picked up the frog, and put it in his pocket.
The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn back into a beautiful princess and stay with you for one week.”
The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket. The frog then cried out, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I’ll stay with you for one week and do anything you want.”
Again, the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket. Finally, the frog asked, “What is the matter? I’ve told you I’m a beautiful princess and that I’ll stay with you for one week and do anything you want. Why won’t you kiss me?”
The engineer said, “Look, I’m an engineer. I don’t have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog – now that’s cool.”
Two engineers were standing at the base of a flagpole, looking at its top. A woman walked by and asked what they were doing.
“We’re supposed to find the height of this flagpole,” said Sven, “but we don’t have a ladder.”
The woman took a wrench from her purse, loosened a couple of bolts, and laid the pole down on the ground. Then she took a tape measure from her pocketbook, took a measurement, announced, “Twenty one feet, six inches,” and walked away.
One engineer shook his head and laughed, “A lot of good that does us. We ask for the height and she gives us the length!”
Feel free to comment on this post – I’d be interested to hear your views.
Inixiti – Improving graduate employability.
If you knew you could improve someone’s performance by having a difficult conversation, you would have that conversation, wouldn’t you? Easy. How about if that person was the company Chairman? More difficult, perhaps. Would it be easier if you knew that the Chairman craved honest feedback, and was desperate to hear from you?
So what’s stopping you?