Tag Archives: work

“Why can’t you just… be a better person?”

This was an old joke between my first wife and me, when a discussion or argument that had reached the point where one person wanted to shout “Why can’t you just do what I’m telling you to do?” – the other would pull out this line and defuse the situation (obviously not foolproof as you may infer from my use of the phrase ‘first wife’).

But it’s a good question, why can’t you just be a better person? Why is personal growth so hard?

Why do we have to grow at all? Can’t we just carry on where we are? Well, no it appears not. Even the most stagnant relationships and work situations don’t last forever. We end up having to change in one way or another and we can either do it consciously or unconsciously. No scrap that, it’s not either/or, it’s a matter of degree of consciousness – my experience has been that for every epiphany as a result of conscious work on myself there are a hundred little growth spurts that I don’t recognise as such until much later on.

So what is this conscious work? It’s a kind of growing up, it’s a way of building good character, it’s dealing with the unconscious triggers that result in disturbance (/me being a dick). Most spiritual traditions and teachers have a way of doing this and for me it boils down to a few steps:

    • Admit that the disturbance is in me. Not that the outside world is perfect and I’m wrong, but that the thing causing me the most pain is not outside of me, it’s within.
    • Accepting the thing I’m doing is part of me and likely has been around for a while (ie it’s not just a product of this situation). This is tough. Who wants to admit that they’re habitually self-centred, self-righteous or dishonest?
    • Remembering that just because it’s a (perhaps quite old) habit doesn’t mean that it’s the ultimate truth about me. I am fundamentally honest and I’m mostly capable of enacting that but there are times, when I feel under pressure, that I say things that aren’t true.
    • Forgiving myself for doing it one more time and forgiving those that I’d associated with my disturbance.
    • Doing something to express that forgiveness to anyone I’ve harmed through the disturbance – this requires a couple of careful steps, one is assessing who has been harmed (it might only be me!) and the other is how to do something about it without compounding the original harm.  Finding someone else who can help you see the right path through this bit is invaluable.
    • Get on with doing something helpful and useful for someone else.
    • Rinse and repeat as required.

I’m not done, by the way, I have no illusion of my own perfection, but it helps, it really does.

SE1 here I come #backtowork

From Monday 20th, all being well, I’ll be starting to work from the Concrete Basement in Lower Marsh (home of Anthony Epes and some new friends) – I know I’ve been down in the basement there before sometime, perhaps one of you can own up to also being there, to help me with my failing memory…

Lower Marsh is a great little street that’s feels like it’s been on the edge of gentrification for as long as I’ve been hanging out in London.  That feeling might be accelerating a bit at the moment (key indicator: new, funky coffee shops) but isn’t that everywhere?  And it’s been remarkably resilient given that it’s slap bang next to Waterloo Station.  The other plus for me is that there are three major theatres and the Southbank Centre all in walking distance.

Anyway, that’s where I’m going to be hanging out for the time being.  I shall kick off with some self-appointed Social Artist in Residence stuff, for the space and for the street, but I shall also be focusing on getting Tuttle consulting going again and hoping to use local venues for Open Spaces looking at the human experience of work, technology, economy ‘n’that.  Other ideas for collaborative projects always welcome.

Please come and see me, bring exotic teas, stories of “one time, I was in Lower Marsh and…” and perhaps something small but inspiring to put on the wall or sit on my desk.


I need a place to work (and it’s more than a desk with power and wifi)

Five years ago, when I decided to go nomadic (and ended up living and working with others around the country for the next twelve months) it was largely because I’d realised that while I needed somewhere to live, the place I was in wasn’t working for me and it seemed that nothing in the market was really for me either. I didn’t want to move out of London for good, but I also didn’t want to stay. I didn’t want to live on my own and I didn’t want to move in with someone else (yet). I didn’t want to get a job and I didn’t want to work on my own. I wanted something else but I found it really difficult to articulate what it was. But I did find it over time. I found stimulation in the variety of people that I worked and lived with. I found rest on the road, knowing each time that I was moving again that new possibilities were opening up.
So now I’m settled, I like where I live, I’m married again, but I’m restless around work. I’m mostly working from the dining room table and sitting in coffee shops (or theatres!) and I’m feeling the need for a workplace that goes beyond the basic needs of desk, power, wifi. I need people and I need space to host in. I think of new invitations for open spaces and unconferences practically every day and they include working through some of the ideas around co-operative knowledge work with #tuttle that I wrote about before I went to America last month. I don’t know whether anything among the current crop of co-working spaces might be close enough – I definitely want to be part of a community rather than just another desk-renter.

I don’t know much more, but I was reminded by a wise friend yesterday that my best work comes when I express as much as I know and let others fill in the last 20% rather than trying to hide away until I have something finished.

So help me fill the gaps in this. Or y’know, put your earbuds back in and get back to what you were doing.

The Airbnb of Brains #tuttle

Consulting around technological change is a very large market indeed, dominated by accounting and strategy consulting firms – if you were going to build a firm from scratch to compete with the big four/five/six professional service firms, you’d need to spend a lot of money over a long period of time, wouldn’t you?

When Tuttle started, eight years ago, I called it a prototype but I wasn’t quite sure that I knew what it was a prototype for.  At the time it felt like we were making a new kind of space for work, and that looked like the emerging co-working model, of which, at the time, there were no real examples here in the UK.  So yeah, we were probably going to be a co-working space.  But then we carried on meeting and it turned out that even when there were co-working spaces, there was still something to be done, there was still much life in the marketplace for people and ideas that is two hours between 10 and midday every Friday, somewhere in London.

We created together a consulting offer, which we took out with some success, but most of the economic, commercial and energetic work happened in small autonomous groups, peer-to-peer.

I’ve been thinking again recently about how we can open up aggregated knowledge and skills, sliced in interesting ways to help businesses and large organisations deal with technological change.

Silicon Valley may be bubbling right now, but it’s unlikely to ever stop lobbing over these little bombs of change and disruption in the form of new hardware and software and ideas for organising the world more effectively.  When I’ve spoken to people recently about VR, Blockchain, IoT and Artificial Intelligence, they’ve expressed weariness in the face of yet another wave of tech.  Most people my age say “We lived through the introduction of PCs to the workplace, then we had to deal with e-mail and the web and now you’re saying it’s all going to be turned upside down again?”  Well yes and the biggest mistake we can make is to think this is the last round.

Silicon Valley is an engine for ongoing disruption and if we can accept that, stop fighting it and instead accept that we need people who can map out what’s really going on;  distinguish between hype and those things that look crazy but are true;  and help you make good decisions about what to do next.

Tuttle can do this.  We have many people in our near and extended network who have immersed themselves in watching how technological change happens and coming up with new processes for dealing with it.

I’ve been thinking about how to unlock the capacity that we have in the network.  And so I’ve been looking at co-operative business models, blockchain-based methods for recompensing creative work, internal currencies etc.

And then on Tuesday night I met Robin Chase and finally looked properly at the ideas in her book Peers Inc.  There, in the introduction, was a sentence that echoed what I was thinking and helped me make sense of our network in a different way.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 17.06.15

We are definitely a group of diverse peers – one of the sticking points for many people hearing about us for the first time is “If these people don’t all have something specific in common, then what do they talk about, and how can it be of any value?”

We have a platform for participation – it’s every Friday morning at 10am for a couple of hours, it’s a marketplace where ideas and opportunities are traded.  It’s a very very limited form, compared to what it could be but because we’ve practiced it for many years now, some of us understand it very well.  I’m starting to think about what a web platform for this might look like.

And we have excess capacity, as I wrote yesterday – lots of people with underused or misused brains.

What if we could leverage these things together in the service of large organisations?

Which is why I just tweeted:

That’s what we’re going to make next.

Join me, comment, argue, nod vigorously, come and help, whatever works for you – but if you need help with thinking about how you can ride the waves of technological change  instead of being swamped by them, my friends and I are the ones you should be talking to.


What @amandapalmer reminded me about street performing #AFP #llobo

The only people who can possibly not have seen or heard about Amanda Palmer‘s TED Talk from last week yet are those who resist words of wisdom on principle, or perhaps those poor bastards who restrict their internet time to “serious stuff”.

If you’re in one of those categories and you read this blog, a) I’d be surprised and b) get over to her site and have a look, go on.  It firmly places AFP and her hubby as the goto motivators for creative people of the here and now – “Make Good Art …and… Let People Pay You For It!” 

Anyhow, the first time I heard her talk about her experience as the eight-foot bride and how that informed her relationship to her “audience” now, what I said on twitter in response was “thank you for reminding me that being a street performer is more than OK, it’s a job”

It’s a job, it’s part of my work.  It’s part of my overall contribution to the happiness of my community, and I’m rewarded in many more ways than the pile of coins in my uke case.

I’ve been meaning to write something for a long time (actually it occurs to me every time I go out to play) about what busking has taught me about my business.  But I couldn’t find a decent frame for it – it kept coming out as a translation from what I knew to be true to the sort of language that “business people” understand (yikes!) and too much was being lost in translation.

So here’s what it’s really been like for me.  You do your own translation.

My first sober, adult experience of busking was on the tube.  It’s not the same as the street, but I had a licence for a year and it gave me a good grounding in just standing there with my ukulele, showing up, playing, singing, getting tipped, getting ignored, getting occasionally and very mildly abused.  I also got to meet a few other buskers at the swap-over time, made some friends, was able to talk about the common nuisances of being a tube-busker.  And I heard a story over and over that made me uncomfortable.  It was that people are horrible, they hate buskers, they don’t want us there, they think we’re beggars, they’re mean and ungrateful and we give much more than they reward.   Which wasn’t really my experience, I’d already clocked that the best way to get through a two-hour session playing at, say, Bond St, where you’re in a tunnel between the platform and the escalator hall, so everybody’s always zipping past, is to lock-on to people and smile and give your performance to them, give your all to that one person right now and when they’ve gone, let them go.  And yeah, some of them are grumpy and embarrassed and ignore you or tell you to “Shut up!” or “Get a Job!” but then when I had a job and I was always on the way somewhere else and I saw someone spending their time doing what they love, I probably was a bit grumpy too.  The other thing is, you’re in the middle of one of the busiest transport networks in the world – people don’t go there for entertainment, they go there to get somewhere else, quickly.

Still, the money was rubbish.  And I kept trying to find some correlation between what I was doing and what ended up in the pot.  And there wasn’t any really, one day certain songs would “work”, the next day the same songs would bomb.  Some days I’d get an endless stream of 10p and coppers, others, nobody would give anything except for one guy who tossed in £5.  I kept telling myself to give up trying to work it out, but then when I was there on the pitch and my stomach was rumbling and I’d already laid out for a tube ticket and I somehow had to fix it so that I could make them get that money out of their pocket and into my uke case.  But that never worked.  I gave up my tube licence mainly because of the way the scheme was managed, but also it was just too hit and miss as a means of income.

And so I left it.  I stopped busking for a couple of years.  And in the meantime I did other things, I put into practice lots of ideas I had about organising without organisations, I tried out crowdfunding for projects and I couchsurfed and I went coast-to-coast across the USA twice with the help of my online social network.  And then I went completely homeless and hobo-style and spent a year on the road going where you and the digital world took me and paid me and fed me and gave me (some very nice) rooves over my head.

And while I was on the road that year, I picked up the busking habit again.  I’d found in the USA that carrying my uke around everywhere was a great social opener, so why not put it to use when I was on my own?

And this time it was different.  I was different.  I had a different attitude.  I can’t pretend that I instantly transformed, I still had a rumbling tum and empty pockets much of the time and I *was* doing it for the money, but I was less attached to making it happen, making them get their money out, making them put it in the pot.  Something just clicked, on the street, in a way that I hadn’t felt in the tube, that the amount in the pot was none of my business until I got to the end of the set.  And how it got there was none of my business either.  My job was to entertain these people to the best of my ability and trust that I would be rewarded.  It took some practice, I’d often drift off into control-mode again, but I kept pulling myself back, like a meditation, to remembering that my job there is to collect smiles – to get as much eye-contact and human connection as possible in the few moments from when they approached to when the passed.  And I regularly make about twice as much as I ever did on the tube.

I also have way more fun and if there is any key factor that correlates with how much money is there at the end, it’s how much fun I had.  I’ve learned too to just let people give.  Some people want to give me food and drink – when I started out, I’d decline, politely, letting them know that I can’t eat cookies, for example.  Now, I take it all with a smile and thanks and pass on the stuff my digestive system can’t cope with to the guys and gals who are sitting out on the street who don’t have a ukulele or a talent for singing.

So what I’m really grateful for, Amanda, is the reminder that my job is not what I think it is.  My job isn’t to rake in the dosh.  My job is to collect smiles, human connections, hugs, and  to generate conversation, laughter at or laughter with and to ignore the hecklers. No matter what it is that I’m doing, those are the metrics that count.

I’ve become comfortable lately saying “I don’t do *anything* full-time”.  And I certainly couldn’t busk full-time, my fingers and voice wouldn’t hack it.  But I like to get out there from time to time and I’m looking at ways of doing street-like performance that gets the intimacy but doesn’t require me to freeze. And so I try also to carry the spirit of my street performance into all the work I do, give my best and let people give back what they want to.   

Thanks, see you on the street.

Help Me See “The Mind of Evil” #llobo

Andy Mabbett pointed this out this morning.  My resemblance to the late Roger Delgado seems to get creepier as I get older.  I’d love to go to this but it’s up in Birmingham and I’m in London.  

Does anybody have a lloyd-shaped hole in what they’re doing around the weekend of 30th that would help me justify a trip up?  Perhaps at the end of the week before, given that the Friday is Good Friday.  For the uninitiated, most lloyd-shaped holes include working with groups of 2 to 200 (or more!) to have amazing conversations and get amazing things done and/or ukulele-accompanied warbling and/or talking about creating value through social media/networking/technology/conversation and many other things besides.

The ideal solution would include a fee, accommodation & travel expenses and of course I’d love it if you’d come with me to see Dr Who and The Master lock horns on Saturday afternoon!