• Articles

    How to be Unawesome. Really.

    I recently read an excellent book by Scott Stratten which is basically about communication. This is a book I do actually recommend and have given away several copies already – get it here (Amazon affiliate link). It includes many stories of excellent customer service as well as some examples we wouldn’t want to follow. Unfortunately we can all add to the latter and perhaps less so of the former. But if everyone was excellent, that would be the norm and none of us would have any chance to stand out against the crowd, right? After moving to the Tampa Bay area I had a document to sign and return. It came…

  • Articles

    People Matter.

    What are you working on? Do you have a hobby or skill that you pursue outside of your day job? Some people build model train sets, others go ice skating. Some folk coach Little League baseball, and others knit. What’s your hobby? (Tell me in the comments below). It’s interesting that over the past 10 days or so something has come to light in my world prompted by several emails following my “Keeping up appearances” post last week. That something is a project. No, a Project. Well, to be perfectly honest, it’s a “Major Project.” Much of the encouragement and advice you’ve shared in comments, tweets and emails has been…

  • Articles

    Unexpected advice and a possible way forward

    What an incredible week. My last blog post “Keeping up appearances” attracted the most views I’ve ever had, as well as the most comments. Thank you! It is clear that many of you believe a small group of advisers or friends with whom you can share disappointments is a good thing, but even better is a mentor or two. I must admit to constantly referring back to the same handful of people on many matters, but unfortunately I have yet to come across a mentoring candidate in my industry who is on the same playing field/ experienced in what I’m trying to do/ ignoring staid industry norms. Not even the…

  • Articles

    Keeping up appearances

    I recently received some rather disappointing news. Normally, no-one would know except my poor wife who would end up tolerating my pottering around the house and moping through the kitchen cupboards kidding myself I needed something to munch on. But the rest of the world wouldn’t know. Blog posts would still appear on schedule, uplifting tweets would still get posted, and the occasional Facebook message would continue to find its way into the ether. Students would continue to strive for goals just out of their current reach, audiences would cheer and applaud, and colleagues would continue to rely on the ever-smiling, ever-present, ever-reliable SPB to be there for them. All…

  • Articles

    How is ‘beautiful’ music defined?

    This past week my wife asked me to compose something beautiful, preferably for the cello (as that’s her favourite instrument). I said “What do you mean?” “Not ‘intelligent’ or clever or busy, just something… beautiful.” “Meaning what, exactly?” “Oh, I don’t know. Like, a song that’s nice.” “Oh, OK!” I said. “I’m right on it!”   Er… can you help me?!   What do you think she means? Am I displaying an incredible amount of utter ignorance here? I thought some of my choral music is particularly beautiful (especially “Lucy’s Song” using a text by Charles Dickens), and if you’ve heard “A Mother’s Lament” I’m sure you’ll agree that can…