Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The 60 minute meeting

I had a breakfast meeting yesterday. It started at 9am and finished exactly at 10am.

I'm astonished at how the natural rhythm of a business meeting works exactly around the hour.

Today was a good meeting. We exchanged pleasantries and discussed what had to and then moved onto world affairs and families etc... and then the discussion came to a natural "end". We asked for the bill, left the restaurant, and it was exactly one hour.

This has happened on so many occasions. The meeting can be intense, relaxed, enjoyable, stressful and sometimes even dull, but 90% of the time my meetings conclude in an hour, without any clock watching!

Is this a bizarre occurrence just for me, or are all business cycles now so well developed that we all instinctively work around the 60 minute cycle?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lead me not into temptation ....

After an amazingly lazy day at home on the weekend (I was still in my pyjamas at 7pm), Reena and I decided to go out to the mall in the evening, just to stretch our legs.

It was an uneventful trip, but lazy days have a habit of burning energy, and I was starting to feel peckish. Going past fresh bakeries and donut options, my favourite creperie and then past Starbucks, I was starting to get rather tempted for a bite ... But none of these options really felt sufficient for me.

I mentally scanned the mall and thought of all the options available. I didn't want to "sit down" and I wasn't in the mood for my more usual smoothie fix. A mall shwarma isn't the same as a street shwarma, and I still remember the last KFC zinger burger I had - it was dry and felt like a waste of an indulgence, and I didn't want a repeat of that mistake ... And then it hit me! Shake Shack!

My initial experience of this was a couple of weeks ago, and as the thought came into my mind, I could feel the soft sandwich in my fingers. The Double Shack burger. Soft White bread, not too thick, but solid enough not to crumble under the juices of the burger and condiments that lie therein. The burger is made perfectly. The double patty burger with cheese, lettuce tomato and their own special sauce is cooked, but not well done. It remains moist, and burger juices dribble, but don't squirt, making this a chewable delight. The bun remains solid and the whole sandwich is not overstuffed, enabling you to get a full mouthful of all the flavours without a struggle. As your teeth bite in, the burger and it's toppings easily part off into your mouth and it's a heavenly experience.

Since my healthy lifestyle began 9 months ago, I allow myself the occasional treat and I really hate to waste those opportunities. Be it a pizza, a steak, a pie or a burger, I love to savour those experiences, even knowing that I will regret it afterwards.

So as we walked towards Shake Shack this evening, I was torn inside between health and happiness, but the thought of those flavours dragged me in only one direction, and the end result was only just around the corner now ... But as it turned out, it was just around the corner and then the need to join a line nearly 30 people long! 30 people with the same idea, desire and craving I had. You could see them discussing the menu amongst themselves, salivating over what was to come, and the pangs of guilt were shooting through me as we waited in this line. Should I or shouldn't I? I will have some regrets regardless of the decision I take. It's the same feeling you get before a roller coaster ride. It's better to get to the front of the queue and go. The longer the wait I line, the longer you have to think. It's that anticipation that brings both the pleasure and the doubt.

So in the end, the line was too long. It made me consider one step too much. I have worked hard to lose my weight and improve my health and fitness, and so with the discipline of a person I wouldn’t have recognised less than a year ago, we left the line and walked away and I had a bowl of fruit at home! Delicious and nutritious! It was the right choice for me ...I'm just not sure at times I recognise who "me" is anymore!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Over exposed online !

Despite my own love for the online world, Facebook, You Tube and blogging (I still don't “get” twitter!), it’s important to understand how exposed we are all becoming in the digital world of social media.

It’s fun and entertaining to connect and catch up with old friends. More than 500 million Facebook users will profess to that, but what are the consequences of doing this today?

I will avoid the obvious argument that people will lose the ability to communicate in "the real world". I don't really buy that, and I think the online world (to the majority) clearly exists in parallel to the real world. There is also the obvious danger of divulging too much information and putting ones personal security at risk (i.e. party invitiations, addresses, phone numbers, ones constant whereabouts etc... proliferated by sites like foursquare).

Where I have a big concern is the openness that people have with this faceless world.

This is clear and growing in the business world where people will happily communicate by email instead of a face to face or perhaps by phone when a personal meeting is not possible. Email and instant chat have their place in the office (and personal lives) but not to replace human interaction, or worse, to hide behind a screen. Unfortunately. the security of being able to write something and not have to look the recipient in the eye makes people bolder, and often act in ways that are not "natural" to them. One has to question why people should be able to write something that they would not be prepared to say I person?

This kind of behaviour is now common on social network sites. While these can be good tools to be in touch with family, friends and acquaintances, especially those who are geographically diverse, it seems some (many) people take an uncharacteristically free approach to posting status updates online as it feels (1) impersonal and (2) harmless. Unfortunately, both are erroneous assumptions!

Behind the mirror, there are millions of people watching. Some strangers and some you know. Some you are about to encounter. Sitting at a desk, looking at your online account with tens or hundreds of updates coming in each day, it is easy to get dragged into the "conversation". Much like at any social gathering, if you are in the room, you are unlikely to stay in the corner and not participate in the conversation. There is nothing wrong with this per se, except people have to remember that you cannot be sure who is listening and watching your online "conversations" and one has to remain careful and keep their guard UP at these times.

… Which brings me to the second point of whether interaction in the online world is harmless. The debate has been already been played out numerous times with regards to how inappropriately drunken teenagers post pictures of themselves (and others) online “the day after”, and its all too clear how damaging these can be in the present. But fast forward a few years ... these profile pictures and comments that are put in carefree college days stay where they are. You don’t own these anymore, and they sit and wait to come back and bite a few years down the road, personally or professionally.

That is not to say that people behaved differently in the pre-online social media world. Teens were teens and college days were college days, but I can’t imagine people taking pictures of themselves and close friends in awkward and compromising poses and then pinning them to a notice board in a university corridor ... but that’s what is happening today online, there is no difference.

It is in fact the apparent facelessness of the internet that lulls people into a very dangerous and compromising false sense of security.

Now I write this remaining a big fan of social media. I don’t argue for its demise or censorship, but profess that it should be used with caution and awareness. Social media has made its place in our lives and our future, but like many new technologies, we are all living in an untested experiment and only time is going to tell us how this plays out.

Good luck !