everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Sweet as, bro

One of the joys of not working at the moment is time to do things. All sorts of things, really. Like on Monday, when it was a nice sunny day in Melbourne and I got to walk to the beach and sit on a bench and read a magazine. Sure, I was wearing four layers and had my hoodie on, because Melbourne winter. But it’s so nice to have the time to do stuff like that.

Elwood

Yesterday I had a meeting in the city, and then dinner with some lovely work friends, and I had a few hours to fill in between the two. I wandered around a bit, which wasn’t super fun in the rain, so thought I’d go and see a movie. As you might imagine, there aren’t that many people at the cinema mid-afternoon on a Tuesday. Let’s just say the average age of folks there was 60ish.

What were my old mates and I seeing? A New Zealand film, recommended by my mum and dad, called Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Hunt for the what now? I know, it is a strange title alright, but it is actually a lovely heartwarming film featuring Sam Neill (as his regular character of Cranky Old Man) and a rotund little Kiwi chappie. It was pretty funny and a little bit sad and had some truly stunning images of NZ in all its natural beauty.

As I am committed to research for this blog (and I have the time to google nonsense), I just discovered that apparently the movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year, which is a pretty big deal. And after it opened in NZ in March, it’s become the highest grossing locally-produced film OF ALL TIME. Which is also a pretty big deal.

It’s not going to win any Oscars, I don’t think. But I thought it was a great movie – especially if you’re having a crappy time or need some lighthearted entertainment, this film could be just the thing. Cool accents, beautiful scenery, and a lovely, feelgood story. And I can’t get the “Ricky Baker” song out of my head now (it’s in the trailer, below). Sweet as, bro.

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Hello again

So, it’s been a while. I just checked and the last post that I made was on 3 September last year, when I was in Washington DC. I really hope no one was waiting on this blog to give travel tips for an imminent US holiday, or as proof of life, or as inspiration for being. Although if you were, then I’m sorry, and I do hope that you found other sources of support.

Hope you’ve been well. I’m all good, thanks. I am a bit (ok, a lot) of a fair weather friend to this blog, only really making the time to write when I feel like I have a lot of spare time. Which, when you’re in the thick of work and family and life, with all of the things that take up time on evenings and weekends, doesn’t happen that often. Usually when I’m on holidays (see 3 September post from Washington DC here). Or when I’m not working as much, as is the case now.

I’ve just finished up in the rollercoaster-ride of a job that I’d been in for the past couple of years. NB, I wasn’t actually working on a roller coaster, although I do note that the ride at Luna Park in Melbourne does have an attendant standing or sitting in the middle of the carts on each ride, so don’t rule that out as a potential career option.

Image from lunapark.com.au

FYI, the person in the middle of this gaggle is the Attendant standing up on The Great Scenic Railway ride at Luna Park in St Kilda. I don’t know what they ever get called on to do during the ride, but it’s a real job. [image from lunapark.com.au]

I’m also moved and am now technically living between two cities (Sydney and Melbourne), which has been lots of fun. I have been very lucky to have finally moved to Melbourne – a city that I have loved for a very long time, even looking for graduate roles down here back in the 90’s. I’ve spent a bit of time down here with a number of jobs, but when the opportunity came up to move earlier this year, I took it. And then a month or so later, I resigned. That sounds bad, but please don’t think that I tricked my employer into paying for my relocation (they didn’t), or that I found another gig shortly after moving (I didn’t).

It was just a case of bad timing – the work rollercoaster had been on the up and up for what felt like such a long time, and I was in the front cart waving and laughing and screaming and enjoying the whole amazing experience. Best ride EVER. Then the rapid and steep descent started around January and that left me grimacing and holding onto the bars too tight and the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach wouldn’t go away, and so I decided to get off the ride before it put me off amusement parks for life.

silly-serpent-hero1

Not such a silly idea. [image from lunapark.com.au]

Sure, I guess most sensible people wouldn’t get off the rollercoaster until they’d found their next ride – the Silly Serpent (see above) maybe, or the exotic sounding Arabian Merry. Instead, I am going to hang out for a while and see what ride to go on next. I feel as though I’ll know the right one when I see it, and hope that I’m tall enough to get on. In the meantime, I’ll read some books and walk around and do some people-watching while I wait. And hopefully get back to this blog, sharing my particular brand of nonsense with you. Maybe while snacking on the carnival foods that the Luna Park website offers (“Fairy-floss, pop-corn, snow-cones and hot-dogs”). All of the hyphenated goodness.

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There is no I in Team. But there is one in Silly.

I am very fortunate to work with some fairly nutty folk. When I think about it, I’ve always been pretty lucky to work with people who are smart, but who also have a capacity for silliness and fun, which makes for a very enjoyable workplace.

[Image via @lilfitmiss]

[Image via @lilfitmiss] 

Although, when you’re working in an open plan office, it becomes clear that we humans don’t all have the same sense of what’s funny. Especially when the workspace is shared with many consultants engaged via a subcontinental company. Judging by the bewildered and sometimes frightened looks that I catch from time to time, I suspect they believe my job to be some strange combination of circus clown, town crier, counsellor, and policewoman. Which, as I reflect on it now, is probably a pretty accurate summary, I guess!

I would like to work with these guys. [image from Pixabay]

I would like to work with these guys too.

I am a terrible eavesdropper, which is a challenge in the super-open-plan office that we share. And when I say I am a terrible eavesdropper, I actually mean I am really really good at it. It’s one of my gifts. I can focus on a conversation with Person A (the conversation I am actually IN), but can also tune into the conversations of Persons B, C and D around me. It also helps to fill in details when people-watching in restaurants, airports, funerals and the like.

The openness of the open plan has certainly made the old tradition of office gossip a lot more challenging. Not that I engage in office gossip, obvs, as I am an HR professional. But I have heard that the super-open-plan environment has driven office gossip from the hallways to the email and the instant messaging. (Which, as a reminder, also means it is now recorded and can be monitored. A switch from the olden days of safely whinging about the Boss Man in the privacy of the tea room during a smoke break. Yes, I worked in the 1950s too.)

Anyways, I digress. I wanted to talk about my colleague Louise, who has started an email tradition, delivered to a small (but appreciative) group each Friday. I’m not sure how it began, and there was quite a long break in transmission there, but it is now back in action and it is making the world a better place. The distribution list is growing as word spreads of this underground movement that’s shaking things up, pushing the envelope and challenging the status quo.

LOLKeeping the emails short, but inspirational, the author knows the target market and stays true. Other Harvard Business Review fads may come and go, but this content has been fine-tuned over generations (and years of Christmas crackers). The email title?  Just three little words that warm the heart and the workplace: Friday Dad Joke.

Here’s a sample of some of our community’s recent treasures:

What’s the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?

  • You see one later and one in a while

What do you call cheese by itself?

  • Provolone

What do you call a girl with a frog on her head? 

  • Lily

You’re welcome. Happy Friday!

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Like herding cats…

This morning at work was one of those mornings, when you know it would have been better for everyone if you’d just stayed at home in bed. After a particularly annoying email, as I tipped my head back and released a silent scream, I was reminded of a You Tube clip that someone had sent me years ago. The term was used a lot when working in professional services HR, but could apply to pretty much any workplace/looking after kids/organising an event/managing home renovations: “This is sooooo hard, it’s like herding cats”. I’ve always felt it was a powerful image to sum up that point of utter frustration and despair, when people just would not agree or fall in to line. Here’s the video that still makes me laugh every time I see it – I think it was released as one of those magical SuperBowl ads, back in 2009. Enjoy!

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EverydaySparks CEO, Idea #274

I’ve posted quite a few times about my brilliant ideas that I will implement when I am the CEO. The CEO of what? Dunno. But the organisation will be pretty cool, don’t you worry about that. Today, I wanted to share a possible office design for EverydaySparks Inc, via the awesome Cool Hunter website. Located in Bangkok, the headquarters of telecommunications company dtac has got to be one of the best office spaces in the world. And my professional HR opinion is that any job that you do would have to be more fun if you did it there. Don’t believe me? Check out these pics…

Now THAT’S a breakout area. Who needs a desk, I say.

Oh the bookshelves, the bookshelves!

And there’s a ‘FunFloor’, featuring indoor soccer, table tennis, and concert & performance spaces. Oh, and a running track. Uh huh.

Run away from annoying colleagues.

You can read more about the incredible dtac office on The Cool Hunter site here. And I am accepting applications to join EverydaySparks Inc, if you’re up for an undefined role in an unclear organisation. With rockin’ office space.

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Very Cross Stitch

I’ll be honest – I’ve never really understood cross stitch. I know there are people out there who love it and find it therapeutic or wholesome or blah blah blah, but I’ve always thought it was a little bit pointless. Until now. I have found my kind of cross stitch, created by Julie Jackson at Subversive Cross Stitch. I’ll let Julie explain: “Subversive Cross Stitch began in the spring of 2003 as a form of anger management therapy when I was dealing with a cruel bully of a boss. At my wit’s end and in dire need of some art therapy, I stopped by a craft store on the way home from work one day…”

And the rest, as they say, is history. Rather than sticking to the pattern of pretty little pink roses, Julie freestyled and added an expletive (it’s a family blog, so I won’t spell it out here) to better capture how she was feeling. The expletive was of course neatly cross stitched into the centre of the circle of pretty pink roses, which got Julie thinking about the benefits of cross stitch with attitude. And so it began – you can now get kits, tips and supplies from Julie’s website. Perfect for a home made gift with a difference, or perhaps for someone who’s cranky about having a bit of time on their hands. Probably not quite right for Granny’s 85th birthday though.

I can’t show too many examples of Julie’s fantastic work here, but I assure you that the Subversive Cross Stitch website is well worth a visit!

I really do.

The modern ‘Keep Calm & Carry On’.

Perfect for the office.

So wrong that it’s right.

One of my favourite pieces of HR advice.

That’s just a taste of the amazing things you’ll find on the Subversive Cross Stitch website here. So much inspiration, I love it!

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Anthropomorphise!

Think Geek promises to sell “stuff for smart masses”. But not all of their stuff is especially geeky or designed for techos – today’s find made me giggle and I think it has a huge potential for adding a spark to the everyday items that we have around our homes and workplaces. Customers who have bought the kit have even sent in their own photos (which are then added to the product page) to show how they’ve used the stickers to add a bit of personality to things that would otherwise look pretty boring. See what you think…

In case you’re not familiar with the term ‘anthropomorphise’ (I wasn’t either), I’ll let the good people at Think Geek explain it far better than I can: We do it every day, though mostly without thinking about it – we get angry at the stapler that mangled our presentation, or the phone when it can’t get a signal. We say we “love this coffee mug,” and sometimes we even imagine a face on the clock on the wall. It’s called anthropomorphizing, and it’s where we imbue human characteristics to inanimate objects.

So they’ve taken this one step further and sell “Inanimate Character Stickers” – over 100 stickers of “eyes and mouths in various shapes, sizes and expressions, waiting for you to give life to the lifeless.” This idea is right up my street – I love it! From fruit to office products to shoes, people have submitted photos of what they’ve managed to achieve with just some kooky looking eyes and a toothy grin.

And the possibilities are endless. If others keep borrowing your stapler and forgetting to give it back, a scary face might be just what you need. Or if you want to encourage people to eat the orange cream biscuits that no one else wants, maybe stick on a nice little friendly face and watch them win people over. I’m thinking that doctors could take medical implements to a whole other level with a well chosen pair of eyes and a smile – except the only thing worse than a needle coming at you is surely a needle with a maniacal face coming at you…

I think these stickers could change our lives. Or, at least, they could help make us smile as we go about our business every day. And that’s a step in the right direction. If you’d like to check them out, they are available from Think Geek here.

 

 

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Pipe dreams

I saw some of Kozo Lamp‘s amazing products on Fab.com and thought they were so cool that I went digging to find out more. Turns out that the company is based in Israel and is the brainchild of David & Anati Shefa – a genuine upcycled lighting brand, made by hand since 2008. The lamps are made from galvanized iron (‘old pipes’ to you and me), which apparently will only rust around the edges over time. They say that the bit of rust gives the lamp “an old era charm”. Here are some of my favourites…

Meet KozoMan. He is a desk lamp and he’s thoughtful – with magnetic hands to hold your keys and little padded feet so he doesn’t scratch your desk. And if you’re meant to be working or studying, I think he looks a little threatening, almost like he’s saying, “you think you’ve earned a break already, do you? DO YOU?” But you retain control, and can dim KozoMan’s light by turning the tap light switch.

And here’s Kozo 2, or KozoPup, as I prefer to call it. Granted, it’s a pup with only three legs, but it would make a cute little companion on your desk. And it won’t run away with your favourite pens. At least, I don’t think it will…

Perhaps you don’t have a very big desk space and you need something even smaller. If so, you might want to consider the Mono desk lamp. I can’t get past the fact that it looks sort of like a lamp being tortured or cramping over in pain. Though maybe that’s just me reading too much into an angled pipe attached to a low base. Maybe.

These are just three of the amazing Kozo Lamps (photos from Fab.com) and you can check out more of the range on the Kozo Lamps website here.

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EverydaySparks, CEO Idea #53.

I have previously written about some of the art that will be on the walls of EverydaySparks Inc (here, if you missed it). And now I can share some more office features that will keep the EverydaySparkians happy, energised and, of course, highly productive. Just what they’ll be doing is yet to be confirmed, but be assured they will be doing it well.

Leveraging synergies, stepping up to the plate, getting all your ducks in a row, thinking outside of the square, having skin in the game. Surviving the jargon of the corporate jungle can be exhausting (especially if you spend energy trying to work out what people actually mean by all that gibberish). You need to be fit and healthy to keep up…and what better way to do that than with an exercise bike built in to your desk? The Elliptical Machine Office Desk is designed to be pedaled at slower cadences that won’t break one’s concentration (or cause one to break a sweat), an average user can burn about 4,000 calories in a typical workweek. Uh huh.

On the flipside, we know that it’s important to get enough rest. Enter the Power Nap Capsule, a space-age looking piece of furniture inspired by NASA studies demonstrating that napping can improve reaction time by 16% and concentration by 34%. Apparently, this capsule features a sleeping (sorry, napping) area that is longer than a king size mattress – a spacious, semi-enclosed sleeping environment ideal for recharging the mind and body. And it’s only semi-enclosed, so anyone that dozes for too long will have cold water thrown in on them as a rejuvenating hydration therapy technique. (That part was developed by EverydaySparks Inc, not based on NASA studies.)

I know car-pooling is good for the environment, and I’ve always been a public-transport-to-work kinda gal myself anyway, but when I am transformed into EverydaySparks CEO, I will need a vehicle that befits my lofty status. I don’t want it to be so big or attractive to others that I end up driving every clown in town with me wherever I go though – a CEO of an organisation like EverydaySparks Inc obviously needs quiet time to dream and plan… So I’ve found my company car. It’s electric and it only holds one person. It actually looks eerily similar to that Power Nap Capsule, just with doors and wheels and some other bits. Or something that one of the Mr Men characters would drive. Apparently, this electric, highway-legal, three-wheeled, single passenger vehicle combines the functionality of an electric car with the maneuverability and scale of a motorcycle. And it uses less than half the energy of today’s most efficient hybrid vehicles. And, like all good handbags or lollies or fireworks, it is available in Red, Teal, Orange, Blue, Yellow, Purple, Magenta, White, Coral, Dark Aqua, Green, Lime Green, Lilac and Aqua.

Oh, and my briefcase? It’ll be this one. Sure, it looks boring enough – but wait. Here it is again. Yep, it’s the Brazilian Barbecue Briefcase that converts into a charcoal grill with motorized spits for grilling authentic Brazilian churrasco. The briefcase sets up on its four removable legs and a motor inside its lid automatically rotates the four included spits over a charcoal tray in the base, producing meat with crisp, golden-brown exteriors and succulent interiors–the hallmarks of churrasco. I’m not even a churrasco fan, but it seems more exciting than a normal briefcase.

All of these items are available from that amazing superstore Hammacher Schlemmer – as long as you are not planning to compete with EverydaySparks Inc for the best employer awards, you can check them out here.

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EverydaySparks, CEO Idea #37.

I think I could write a separate blog about some of the ideas I have to revolutionise the corporate world. Granted, not all of them are legal / would work / are possible to implement, but those issues would be the problem of the COO, not me as the CEO. Because I said so. But today I am not writing about strategies and business plans (phew, I hear you sigh). I’m writing about how I’d decorate the hallway leading to the boardroom. Or the foyer, where visitors wait on beanbags (now there’s a status equaliser) or retro lounges. Because at EverydaySparks Inc, it’s the little things that count.

I found this collection by The French Gallery on etsy and felt that they looked suitably professional and businesslike at first glance, and suitably kooky and quirky on second glance. This would serve to both impress and confuse visitors to the office, which has got to be a good introduction to EverydaySparks Inc.

The portraits would be lined up along the wall, each with a short tribute etched on the gold(plated) plaque underneath. Something like, Entrepreneur Sir Barnaby Lion founded the company whilst studying at MIT. An irreverant but brilliant businessman, Sir Barnaby has since turned his love of hot air ballooning and space travel into a bzillion dollar empire. Or Linda Lioness joined the company as the first HR Director and kept Sir Barnaby in line whilst establishing the company as an employer of choice for women, non-smokers, ex-circus performers and people who love marshmallows. 

And With a sharp eye for detail, Dr Charles Owlinson was the company’s first lawyer, taking an active role in the many court cases brought against Sir Barnaby by competitors, customers and ex-wives. Dr Owlinson played the banjo and was a hoot at company Christmas parties. Then CIO Bernard Catman built the software and systems that were the cornerstone of the company’s early success. Bernie’s love for Sudoku puzzles was matched by his passion for badminton and he moved to Siam to lead the company’s expansion into Southeast Asia.

Anyways, you get the idea. If you would like to add these prints to your office or home, check out The French Gallery on etsy here.

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