All going swimmingly

31 Jul

Day two of training for Judgement Day… Got in from work and was absolutely shattered so opted for a swim and my planking routine. This is designed to build core and upper body strength to build up to push-ups, even if you can’t do them right now. The routine is:

Plank for 60 secs

Rest for 30 secs

Plank with arms straight for 60 secs

Rest for 30 secs

Dip down with your arms like a press-up as far as you can and hold for as long as you can.

I’m lucky enough to have a pool in my building so I’ll be making good use of it in the run up to the event, as well as giving the gym a bash or two! This was tonight:

Tomorrow I’m doing a 12km run to feel the distance as well as keepin’ on plankin’! I WILL get to that perfect push-up soon!

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Laughing all the way to the plank

30 Jul

I signed up for the Judgement Day 12km obstacle course race on 24th October in Hampshire… Here’s day one of training.

Life, death & dishes

22 Jul

I haven’t been watching a lot of ‘proper’ telly since the advent of Netflix, but finding myself with a bit of extra time on my hands in the evening of late, and being obsessed with househunting right now, I’ve been watching a lot of Location, Location, Location on All4.

And lo, it came to pass that I was subject to many adverts thanks to this. One of which is the most creative and captivating TV spot I’ve seen in a while: the new Finish Dishwasher tablets ad by those purveyors of creative wonder at Wieden+Kennedy:

There’s a whiff of Guinness and IKEA about the treatment. The voiceover in particular is reminiscent of the ‘tick follows tock’ in the iconic surfer campaign by AMV-BBDO:

http://youtu.be/Y9znA_dwjHw

It’s not a bad thing, though: it’s pretty hypnotic and the “Dishes” refrain gives the ad a compelling momentum.

I love the creative execution, the fact that you get the dishwasher’s point of view and narration, and that bizarre, Alice In Wonderland-esque, slightly nightmarish vision of the upside-down dishes being paired with milestone moments. It’s almost a reflection on how those occasions that are often the ‘biggest days of our lives’ aren’t even worth differentiating in the eyes of others.

Yes, I’m fully aware that a dishwasher tablet advert with existential aspirations is making me question how important everything in life really is. Sorry, not sorry. That’s what good advertising should have the power to do.

I’ll be interested to see how the concept plays out as a campaign. Potential, but it takes a bold agency and an even bolder client to not dilute the message as it flows through the channels.

All in all: powerful, playful stuff.

Heck, I don’t even have a dishwasher but this ad has made me wish I did so I could buy Finish for it!

A learner’s strongest motivator is their identity

22 Jul

Really interesting take on how identity links with motivation and gamification in learning. Now, what would Charlie do…?

Sponge Parrot

There’s been quite a bit of debate at work recently around gamification in learning. Specifically, is it good or bad, and should we be using it in some way to motivate learners to engage with our resources? This is in the context of some initial forays into the gamified-informal-learning space and we are yet to see results, mainly because we’re still at the early stages into the experiment.

The discussion is yet to reach a conclusion, but in a meeting this week my thoughts started to coalesce around the idea of identity which may have far-reaching consequences for how I approach my work in future.

There has already been convincing research into the power of social proof in motivation. ‘Brain Science for Dummies’ says something like, we have evolved as a species with powerful instincts. to form groups. Strength in numbers was the only way to survive vicious attacks from wild-beasts. And the…

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Real Fast Food – What and Why?

6 May

Excellent idea from my pal and foodie inspiration Pete. Trying the fish fingers tonight!

All Of 'Real Fast Food'

I moved out of home at the age of 21, and I wasn’t a very good cook; I could make ‘Bolognese’ (brown meat, add tomatoes, boil), pasta (overcooked), a fry up, and was an expert at dicing a selection of things from the fridge and putting them in a pan, possibly with a few whisked eggs poured over the top but, beyond those utilitarian actions, I didn’t really know what I was doing.

IMG_0144

When I wound up in a tiny flat in Hackney with my girlfriend (now wife) who was a good cook herself, I felt it was time to expand the repertoire a little. I popped into the Owl Bookshop in Kentish Town and, after a brief flick through a few titles, alighted upon the book that best fitted my criteria of ‘cheap as possible, with lots of recipes, written by someone you’ve heard of’: Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Fast Food’.

My…

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Alanis Morissette invented emojis

23 Apr

GUYS. IMPORTANT NEWS.

Whilst cooking tea and listening to my 90s girl power mixtape tonight, I realised that Alanis Morissette didn’t just revolutionise female teen angst; she also basically invented emojis. Want proof? Read on, friends…

Hand In My Pocket” ✋🏼👖

I’m broke 💔 but I’m happy 😊
I’m poor 💸 but I’m kind 💕
I’m short 👠 but I’m healthy 🍏, yeah
I’m high 👽 but I’m grounded 🍄
I’m sane👌🏼but I’m overwhelmed 😱
I’m lost❓but I’m hopeful baby 👶🏼
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine 👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼
’cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket✋🏼👖
And the other one is giving a high five 🙌🏼
I feel drunk 🍻 but I’m sober 😐
I’m young 👶🏼 and I’m underpaid💰
I’m tired 😴 but I’m working 👯, yeah
I care 👭 but I’m restless 🏃
I’m here ⬇️ but I’m really gone 💨
I’m wrong 🚫 and I’m sorry😔baby 👶🏼

What it all comes down⬇️ to
Is that everything’s gonna be quite alright 👌🏼
’cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket✋🏼👖
And the other one is flicking a cigarette 🚬
And what it all comes down ⬇️ to
Is that I haven’t got it all figured out 💭 just yet
’cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket ✋🏼👖
And the other one is giving the peace sign ✌🏼️
I’m free🍃 but I’m focused 👀
I’m green 💚 but I’m wise 📚
I’m hard 👊🏼 but I’m friendly 👭 baby
I’m sad 😥 but I’m laughing 😂
I’m brave 🙅 but I’m chickenshit 🐓💩
I’m sick 😷 but I’m pretty baby 💁

And what it all boils 🍳 down to
Is that no one’s really got it figured out 📖 just yet
’cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket ✋🏼👖
And the other one is playing the piano 🎹
And what it all comes down to my friends 👫👫
Is that everything’s just fine fine fine
👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼
’cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket ✋🏼👖
And the other one is hailing a taxi cab 🚕

SEE???????

Au revoir RK & CP

14 Mar

Two of my all-time favourite people, Ruth & Perks are leaving London soon (which I’m super gutted about) and moving to Sheffield (which I’m super psyched about!) so I’ve made them a mixtape to see them off in style. 

goodbye ruth and perks

It’s a mix of stuff to remember about London, bits to look forward to in the motherland of Sheffield and then loads of good solid pop punk and ska bangers for good measure. And a couple of numbers from musicals for Ruth 😉
Au revoir, folks! London will miss you and Sheffield is lucky to have you! 
You can listen to the mix here.

#makeithappen

8 Mar

To celebrate International Women’s Day – the theme of which is ‘make it happen’ – and to champion gender balance in the workplace, I worked on a campaign to get people across BP to share how they ‘make it happen’.

We used our internal social network to inspire people to upload a short video selfie and then edited these together to share how we make it happen. We used an ‘ice bucket challenge’ style nomination approach to drum up support for the campaign and I was overwhelmed by some of the inspiring stories that were shared. What’s more: videos are still rolling in!

You can watch the video here.

 

Blank

24 Feb

Here’s a new short story that crept up on me last night.

Blank
By Gemma Critchley

I just saw it stuck there.

Last Tuesday.

I’d never seen it before; or at least I’d never noticed it. Not sure why I would have, in fairness. I mean, I go down this corridor at least twice a day. I suppose you end up on autopilot a lot of the time. I bet you can’t remember every step you take whenever you leave the house, can you? I sometimes get to wherever I’m going without any real recollection of how I got there. Know what I mean?

I half-notice other people doing it too. In my peripheral vision on the train, getting their post from the mailroom of my hastily-erected and ill-planned block of flats, drifting around the co-op with a tin of tuna in their basket. People moan about how nowadays, no one knows their neighbours and that common courtesy is dead. I don’t think that’s true, I think people just cram so much more into their lives than they used to that there’s no room for noticing those that spend their lives in the boxes around yours.

But still, I’d have thought I’d have noticed something like this before. A smooth, white, flat rectangle tacked to the wall opposite the door to my flat. Almost a direct mirror of my front door, in size and shape. But white, really white. Dazzling. Brilliant. Blinding. All of those other adjectives used to describe all the colours of the visible spectrum when simultaneously deciphered by the human eye.

The rest of my corridor, my scrap of London, was grey. Of course. Zone 3 Grey, like a Pantone in-joke gone sour. That’s why the rectangle stood out. It shone.

If you looked at it too long, it seemed to be capable of adjusting its texture. Of bristling and rolling and swirling; contracting and expanding and rippling. Rising. Falling. That makes it sound alive. Sorry.

What I mean is: sometimes it looked a bit like an empty picture frame, smooth, glossy, expectant. Other times it appeared to fizz; white on white, like Alka Seltzer dropped into milk.

I’m number 217. I could have sworn 202 was across from me where the rectangle sits. But I never paid that much attention to it, so I could be wrong. Sometimes you imagine stuff was there that you’ve never seen, you know? It’s not like I ever saw a person around this end of the corridor. Or, if I did, I never noticed them. Never knocked on to introduce myself to my neighbours. If there were any in the first place.

I had actually done that a few times since moving to London, mind. On the whole I’d been met with wary, bemused looks. And no neighbour ever knocked on my door to say hello.

So, after carrying my ironing board on the tube from one different flat to another for four years, I suppose I stopped trying.

Did I stop noticing stuff too?

Probably.

But not this.

The first time I noticed the rectangle, last Tuesday, I had one of those weird, unsettling shudders – a cross between those two mythical, everyday occurrences of someone ‘walking over my grave’ and ‘déjà vu’. The left hemisphere of my brain poured logic on the feeling like Gaviscon on heartburn.

After mushroom soup – from a carton, not a tin – I went to bed but stayed there and awake, an inexplicable dull ache where I imagined my heart was. When I Googled the pain, it suggested I probably had a heady cocktail of no-doubt incurable illnesses, including but not limited to: lung cancer, heartbreak, breast cancer, dysphagia, psychosis and rabies.

I lay in the half-light glow of the takeaway signs on the street outside and prepared for my seemingly inevitable demise as I willed sleep to settle uncomfortably over me, like an airline blanket.

I doubt I’d have even given it a second thought if the next few days had it not panned out the way they did.

The second day I saw it, I was getting home after a particularly bad day at work. I almost thought I could hear the hiss of it as I slid the teeth of my key into the Yale lock and turned it sharply to the right, faster than I normally would, to put wood between me and the world. Staring hard at the dull blue of the heavy fire door, my blood turned my heart into a bat inside my rib cage, rabid from the transfusion after yesterday’s webMD session and frantic to escape. I scolded myself for being ‘daft’ and turned on all the lights in the house. I went to bed, but for the second night in a row, I didn’t sleep.

By Thursday, the pull of the white shape was like an itch in the centre of my back, just out of reach thanks to years of missed yoga classes. I poured myself a mug of gin, drank it neat, wretched. Sleep came.

On Friday, I woke up in front of it.

I don’t know how that happened. I’m not a sleepwalker. I backed away from it into my flat, Yale on the latch, me on my knees; dazed and dizzy. I vomited hard into the 80s avocado green porcelain bowl of my rented toilet until I saw stars.

Saturday, I had the fleeting freedom of not having to leave the flat. I didn’t have to see it if I didn’t want to. I sat, ripping through cup after cup of tea, telly off, curtains closed, seated then standing, panicked, like a commuter on a train in front of a pregnant woman. Rings from my mug making two, six, nine damp crop circles in the MDF of the coffee table.

Pacing.

Itching.

Nail biting. Nail biting! That isn’t something I do. I must’ve picked it up from a film.

I couldn’t leave it alone. All that lay between me and it was fifteen feet of cheap laminate flooring, a heavy fire door, the Yale lock and a peep hole. It would be so easy to just take a look. See if anything had… Changed.

Looking never hurts, right?

Feeling the rush of release that comes with submission, I crossed the crumbed tiles of the kitchenette to the door. Pushing myself onto slight tiptoes, I levelled my right eye with the circle of glass, designed, no doubt, as a forerunner to call screening.

The pain in my eye was both immediate and not obvious. But I knew how to fix it.

Move forward.

Before I knew it, I was fumbling with door chains, Chubb and Yale turning in my hands like pottery on a wheel.

I pulled the door inwards and stepped into the corridor, illuminated like someone had pressed pause on the double pulse of the flash that precedes a nuclear explosion. The width of the corridor would have been easy to clear in two steps, I took three, four, five strides towards the rectangle.

Everything.

Hurt.

At primary school, a boy in my class had once taken a piano tuning fork and whacked it hard across the knuckles of my left hand. That’s what this felt like. A sustained, crackling current of pain; vibrating through me from the most bony of my extremities to the yellow and red slop that makes up insides.

Then: whiteout.

And now this.

Sitting here, telling you all this, feels a bit ridiculous. Although it probably doesn’t feel that way to you, right? I couldn’t believe it how many of you were in here when I arrived. And some of you have been around for how long? 12 years? That’s as long as the flats have been here for. Imagine! All the neighbours from the second floor, stuck together here. All with the same story. Drawn out of autopilot by a stinging longing to make a connection with something.

And now we have a connection. A glowing white tube of neon glass, looped around the left wrist of each of us, linked together and buzzing with a sticky undercurrent of dread. Four white walls, connecting a white ceiling and a white floor. And each other.

That’s all we have.

Film in learning – Learning Technologies Hangout, 2015

18 Feb

I took part in a Google Hangout as part of Learning Technologies 2015, talking about storytelling, social media, film and learning. Have a look here and let me know what you think. I talk about how I’m using video to engage learners, how I’m using content marketing techniques to connect with people and how we use social media to foster peer-to-peer sharing of knowledge through film.

Are you using video for learning in your organisation? How’s that working out for you? Want to get together to share best practice? Let me know!

I did a talk at this conference too, and I’ll share the video of that as soon as it’s available.

Hope it helps to inspire you to get out there and start using video to support your learners.

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