Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Peace, harmony and reconciliation

A short post today.  I've just been at a Monash University Alumni speech, part of their speakers' series. Professor Mick Dodson was the key speaker, reflecting on Prime Minister Paul Keating's Redfern speech, 20 years on. This is part of Reconciliation Week.

There's so much to reflect on and so much to say, I need to think before I write, but I can share this from the welcome to country given by Auntie Kerr:

"Until we can live in harmony, our children can't live in peace."

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Hanging out at hospital

Lately I've been hanging out in hospitals, walking past hospitals and thinking about hospitals.  I'm fine, by the way.  I've been working as a simulated patient, managing a mental health simulation project and often grabbing a coffee and sandwich in the cafeteria.

Walking through the ground floor of the busy Alfred Hospital in Melbourne I'm struck by being amongst the walking wounded.  There are people on crutches, arms are in slings, people have tubes in their nostrils, they trail drip stands.  Walking outside, there is usually an array of people assembled out on the footpath smoking.  Today I saw a woman sitting at the tram stop wearing a pink dressing gown.  She had a tube going into her nose and she had to move the tube out of the way so she could put her cigarette in her mouth!  With the weather becoming cooler as we approach winter, I was surprised to see a man standing in bare feet, wearing nothing but a hospital gown out on the footpath getting his fix.

The other thing that is noticeable is the incredibly detailed conversations people have on their mobile phones in lifts and hallways.  Today I travelled six floors with a woman who was describing her potential liver failure and the fact that the doctor is recommending extreme changes to her diet to avoid the need for diabetes medication and that all of this needs to happen before surgery could be considered.  Her tone suggested that she could have been booking a carpet cleaner or organising her car for a service.  I looked at her again - she did seem to be a funny colour.

Having spent the day working with paramedics (being a simulated patient and giving feedback on their communication) I then visited the Medicare office to lodge my claim for some recent medical expenses.  The place was packed!  I had to squeeze into a space between two people who looked like they had been there for a while.  After five minutes the voice of the automated queue lulled us into calm - "A123 go to counter 4".  I had A 138 so it would be a while.  Twenty minutes to be exact.  There were ten counter bays and there were staff at three of them to begin with.  After a while, closed signs went up at two of the bays and the voice of the automated queue fell silent for ten minutes.  Then two people came back and things started moving again.

An older man expressed a lack of patience for waiting.  Two people with exotic accents asked when is a quiet time to come back and how long would they have to wait.  Someone was told it would be four weeks before they would receive their Medicare card.  A good looking man wearing a jumper with the logo for King Kong the musical came in - one of the dancers claiming for a work related injury?  Largely people sat in silence and played with their phones.

A138 was called to counter number 4 and within 90 seconds my claim had been lodged and I was being advised that the money would be in my bank account tomorrow.  Surely there's a way that could be lodged online?

This week is a week of health care education: today was the paramedics, tomorrow is mental health, Thursday I'll be trained in the role I'll be playing i upcoming medical exams and on Friday I'll be at the College of Surgeons working with healthcare educators who are learning about working with simulation as a teaching tool.

In the meantime, if you want to watch people and contemplate the frailty of human existence, the hospital cafeteria or hospital footpath are rich with examples.

How's your week looking?

Monday, 27 May 2013

At the movies - Song for Marion

Today I indulged.  I went to the movies.  On Monday afternoon.  I had planned to see "Song for Marion" with a friend who had a 2-for-1 ticket a couple of weeks ago.  That plan was abandoned when she called that evening and I only remembered where I was supposed to be when I spoke to her.  She was calling to see where I was because she had left the ticket at home.  Sensibly, we took this as a sign and retreated.  So with a free afternoon ahead of me and a showing at 1pm I called her.

The film is about grief and the power of music to transform and delight.  It was inevitable that tears would be shed.  It's the story of Arthur (Terence Stamp is wonderful) who is caring for his wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) who has cancer.  He is gloomy and grumpy but tender with Marion.  In response to a question about whether he had enjoyed something he responds by quoting that he has a policy about not enjoying things.  Arthur dutifully takes Marion to her choir (called the O.A.P.Z - Old Age Pensionerz - the "z" makes it "street") rehearsals but never ventures in.  Then Marion isn't there anymore.

In the tiny cinema there were probably about 10 of us watching the film and the songs were regularly accompanied by sniffles and snorts and blowing.  I really wanted to HOWL at one point, but I contained myself.  Strange how weeping at the movies must be done silently.

I remember seeing a documentary about the Young at Heart chorus a few years ago.  The effect of watching people enjoying making music together as they sang songs that took on a new meaning when performed by the elderly (think "Road to Nowhere", "Stayin'Alive" and "Fix you") was both laughter and tear inducing.

Fittingly, as I arrived home, my neighbour greeted me and commented that he had enjoyed hearing me playing the piano recently.  We discussed our mutual love of playing Bach and I congratulated him on the progress he had been making with the trumpet. I suggested he look up Michael Nyman's music. I find him odd and annoying and vaguely sinister, but we can talk about music and we understand and appreciate each other.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Staying true in stormy seas - what's your mindset?

One of the things I often have to do when I'm facilitating is challenge people's thinking.  Depending on the person, the response can vary widely.  Some people will understand that the "poke" is designed to get them thinking, while others will react to the discomfort they feel.  Some of these people will react strongly and fight back.

I find the latter reactions are more common than the former. As my experience as a facilitator has grown, I've noticed that I'm quite comfortable challenging people and stay calm and focussed even when I'm being attacked.

Over the last two days I've been working with a group who were not used to being challenged.  It looked like their expectations of training courses was that they would be lulled to sleep by endless power point slides and they would walk out two days later pretty much unchanged by the experience.  The conversations I facilitate are not like that at all and the first day can be bumpy!

At the end of today, I was pleased to hear the changes in people's thinking.  One participant unexpectedly said that he appreciated being challenged and admired the way I had held the frame even when under attack from the group.  Music to my ears!

I've been thinking about how I do this.  I've realised that my mindset is everything.  Here's what I've observed:

1. I'm there to challenge and provoke thinking while keeping everyone safe.

2. My role is not to be liked and be friends with everyone in the room.

3. I am not part of the group; I am in service of the group.

4. Moving out of one's comfort zone is necessary for learning to occur.

5. Adults know what they have to do and know the answers.  The conditions just have to be right for them to discover this or make decisions to act.  My job is to create and maintain those conditions - they're going to be different for everyone.

6. My job is to support people to think.

As a fairly fast paced extrovert, one of the things I have to be vigilant about is that I'm adjusting my pace to allow slower paced people or introverts time and space to think and then answer.  Once my pace is adjusted, I need to work on staying present in the conversation (rather than thinking about how the person needs to hurry up, for example).

It's so satisfying when people highlight what they discovered.  Often they will thank me for that poke or prod I gave them that shoved them out of their comfort zone.  It's then that I am reminded that staying true in the stormy seas was the gift that I gave to the group.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Getting moving.

I'm participating in the Global Corporate Challenge which starts tomorrow.  I've heard of it before, but never really understood what it's all about.  When I was invited to join a team I did some research and joined without hesitation.

Here's what the front page of the website says:

The Global Corporate Challenge® (GCC) is a leading, global workplace health and wellness program.
To date, our behavioural change program has delivered scientifically-proven results to over 3,400 of the world’s leading organisations.
Results include improved physical and mental health, enhanced productivity, reduced absenteeism and a stronger culture of resilience.
The GCC offers an effective balance of motivation, inspiration, support and education which has engaged and empowered over 950,000 people from 105 countries to change their lives.

That's a pretty big statement! Even before I've begun, the challenge has influenced my behaviour.  
I finished work for my client at about 5:45pm and it was already dark in Perth.  I was out near the airport so had to catch a cab back to the hotel.  After a long day and coping with being in a different time zone, my impulse was to crash back in my hotel room.  With my eye on the GCC I made a different choice.  
It was a warm evening so I dropped my bags off and went for a walk.  As I left the hotel, I took the stairs to the ground floor instead of taking the lift.  The streets were still busy with people making their way home so I felt safe to wander around by myself.  I walked the length of the mall and poked around a couple of arcades that I never wandered down before.  Nothing flash, nothing too much, but I felt better for it.   I was out for about half an hour and had more energy than before I went for a walk.  It helped me shake off the day.
Tomorrow I'll have to do more if I'm to reach the minimum 10,000 steps per day.  I am facilitating tomorrow and will spend a fair amount of the day on my feet, so it will be interesting to find out what difference working on my feet makes to my mobility on a day. The day after will be a bigger challenge because I'll spend most of the day sitting on an aeroplane.  I'm already planning to spend my waiting time at the airport walking around rather than sitting and waiting.
The design of the GCC is clever.  I'm part of a team and we've been told we're starting in Rio de Janeiro.  There's a fun but serious pledge that we've taken and there are apparently mini challenges along the way.  We carry a pulse - a sophisticated pedometer - and are required to enter the steps we take into our profile. My pulse is sitting beside my toothbrush as suggested so I don't forget to wear it. (Note to self, do I do that every day or every week?)  There's a competitive edge and also the sense of commitment to the team.  
I'm pleased to be participating and interested to see the impact it has on my daily movement habits.
Who else is participating? First time?  Share you experience.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

How I stop regular travel being a drag.

Here I am in Perth again.  With all this regular travel there are some things that make life a bit easier on the road.

1. Finding a hotel where the staff care and the facilities are pleasant can be a challenge, but it's worth it.  Today when I checked in, I was greeted warmly and the woman at the desk commented that I'd stayed before and welcomed me back.  Although I know she would have been reading something on the screen, she was genuine in what she said and clearly the check-in system was well designed to give her relevant information.   She asked about breakfast and I was able to pre-purchase vouchers at a cheaper price than if I just turned up in the morning.  About ten minutes after I'd settled into my room she called to see that everything was okay.

2. I have a travel toiletry kit that stays packed with all the stuff I need to take.  When I'm going away I just need to check whether anything needs topping up, but otherwise I just sling it into the suitcase.  (I regularly collect samples of favourite products I regularly use from the stores I frequent too.)  Dry shampoo is my latest discovery.  With long hair to maintain washing and styling can require a lot of extra stuff.  Now I plan ahead to make sure I'm travelling with freshly washed hair and if needed I can use the dry shampoo to freshen up.  That stuff is great, but can't be carried in hand luggage as it's aerosol.

3. The greatest gift I've ever received from an airline was electronic bag tags when I reached the next frequent flyer status level.  I check in online or from my mobile and then go straight to bag drop when I arrive at the airport.  Much more efficient than standing in lines.

4. A small size laptop to take on the go.  Mine fits in a large handbag.  When I'm at home I use it to connect to my television so I can watch video stored on my portable hard drive.  I have a tablet too, but it's for accessing documents and not great for writing.

5.  To complement my laptop and tablet, I finally invested in decent mobile broadband as the rates in hotels are extremely inflated and it's not always convenient to go on the hunt for somewhere with free wi-fi; and there are security considerations with public networks that I now don't need to worry about.

6. Smells can evoke home.  Usually hotel rooms smell of cleaning products, or worse, like the last person who stayed there.  I have a portable aromatherapy diffuser that travels in its own zip up pouch with enough space for two small bottles of essential oil.  I carry a lively and refreshing oil like peppermint or lime which I diffuse when I first arrive and also a sleep blend for bedtime.  My hotel room smells familiar.

7. I always pack my walking shoes and make time to wander around at the beginning or the end of the day.

8. When I return home I unpack immediately.  I don't want to be living out of a suitcase after I've returned home.  Toiletries and aromatherapy diffuser stay in the suitcase.

9. Lastly I have my own reliable taxi driver.  He always turns up on time or sends someone if he can't come.  Again, there's no waiting in lines.

What do you do to make regular travel easier?

Monday, 20 May 2013

Ten questions for today.

1) Is advertising on hand dryers in public toilets effective?

2) Who ever uses a full bottle of nail polish?

3) Why does it rain whenever I have my hair blow waved?

4) Why can't people follow the instructions for recycling?

5) What is unclear about a sign that says "No Junk Mail"?

6) Why do people insist that you "need some sugar" when you tell them you don't eat sugar?

7) Why do businesses refuse to deliver to post office boxes?

8) Where do those text messages telling you you've won "a million pounds" come from?

9) Why, in the digital age, does it still take 3 business days for a cheque to clear?

10) What do visitors to Melbourne think when they can't top up their myki and they discover there are no toilets available at the station?

Answers to these questions are welcome.
What questions are you asking today?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Music in daily life - have you got it?

Today I was the MC for a community concert held at the Glen Eira Town Hall in Caulfield (a suburb of Melbourne).  On the program was a community orchestra, a community choir, a classical guitarist and me, singing and accompanying myself on piano.

Sonia Letourneau produced the concert and conduct the Glen Eira strings community orchestra.  Her firm belief in life is that music is essential for well-being and for life in general.  Sonia is a professional violinist (or fiddle player as she says) and her passion for music and creating opportunities for music to be played and heard is inspiring.

When I asked the audience who had ever played an instrument, most people put their hands up.  When I asked who still plays most put their hands down.  It seems it's a common story.

I started to play piano very young -  around the age of five I discovered what happened when I pressed the keys.  Sound came out! I learnt to read music as I was learning to read language and it's a skill I have never lost.  I never had to be coerced to practise.  I loved nothing more than sitting at the piano and playing for hours.  (Unless it was scales, which I hated.)

In the years when I didn't have regular access to a piano, I stayed connected to music through my singing and now that I have a piano again, I play daily when I am at home.  It is such a wonderful way to shake off the day and use my brain in a different way, while beautiful music fills my home.  Other times I will feel the satisfaction of  mastering a particularly tricky passage.  It's satisfying to hear the fruits of ones labour.

I wonder why people give up.  Maybe they're not playing the right instrument for them.  Maybe they hate their teacher.  Maybe their teacher didn't teach them to love music, but only to "get it right".  Maybe they were too busy and prioritised other things in their lives. When I speak to people personally about their musical stories, every person who used to play and has since given it up expresses regret at the fact they didn't continue.  I always ask what's stopping them picking up their instrument again or joining a choir.  The answer is usually incomplete.

Are you one of the people out there who used to play?  Why not reacquaint yourself with music?  Don't expect it to be perfect the first time you play - it won't be.  It might take some practise to get back in the swing of things, but you'll enjoy the process I'm sure.

Singing and playing the piano on stage in public is something I haven't done for about twenty years.  I sing regularly in front of other people, but playing for others hasn't happened for a while.  It was exhilirating!

Back stage while the orchestra plays on stage.
© divacultura 2013

I received an email from a member of today's audience when I arrived home.  She sounded so excited about the music and the experience of really listening and thinking about the images evoked by the music.  Best of all, she shared that she is inspired to sing!

Scientists have shown that people who play music are smarter than people who don't.  Our IQs are actually higher.  So what are you waiting for?  What role does music play in your life?  How can you incorporate music into your daily life?

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Impromptu spelling bee

Two small boys travelling with their mother on the number 8 tram were occupying their time by spelling words.  The boys were aged 7 and 5.  I know because I asked, having listened to the older one spell words like "precinct" and "exterminational device".

His younger brother was on three letter words and having good success with "bus", "boy", "cat" and "dog".

Both boys were dressed in striped zip up knitted cardigans and newsboy caps.

The older boy asked for a "really hard one, Mum".  As we neared Southbank Boulevard, I heard her say "boulevard".


"Yes.  Boulevard."

"B-U ?..."

"Not quite.  Try again.  Boulevard."

"B - A ?"


"B - I ?"

"You were nearly right with "B- U, but you need to put another letter before the U."

"B - U - L - E - V- A - R - D.  Boulevard!"

"Very good.  You were nearly right.  You just need to start off B - O - U - L - E - V - A - R - D.  Well done!"

"What is a "boulevard" anyway?"

"It's a fancy word for road."

"You mean I could have just said 'R - O - A - D'?"

Clearly a very efficient young man.  It was refreshing to see children engaging in the world and learning rather than travelling around with their eyes glued to an electronic device.  And for boys aged 7 and 5, i thought their spelling was fantastic.

Friday, 17 May 2013

My favourite things - this week

I'm loving my new vocal group.  I went to my second rehearsal this week and enjoyed singing Sarah Maclachlan, Zap Mama, an African song and Rachmaninov - sung in Russian!  And they have a very funky name - Tongue and Groove.  Lovely group of people with a solid group of excellent male voices.  Heavenly.  I'm switching between my usual soprano spot to sing first alto on occasions and am enjoying exploring my lower register.

Today's job was pretty good.  It involved wearing pyjamas and a hospital gown and lying in bed.  There was a bit more to it than that, but it's really easy to get ready for work when that's the brief!

Walking tall
©divacultura 2013

I accidentally bought some new boots today.  Or I could tell you they followed me home...but I don't think you'd believe me.  Another pair of Fluevogs joins the collection.  The style is called Map and the colour is called Ontario Blackberry.  Yum.  I think I like this new "no black shoes" policy (apart from the one pair for corporate work).
Red boots on Fluevog day.
©divacultura 2013

Another favourite moment was when one of the women in the office told me she liked my red boots.  Well she didn't say that exactly.  She said they were "jazzy".  I found this very confusing, but said thank you because she meant well.

Even though it's cold, I love being able to parade around in the lovely scarves and hats I've knit.  The one I wore today is one of my all time favourites.  The colours make me very happy.
© divacultura 2013
The other favourite moment was being at home when the water started running out of the ceiling and being in the right place at the right time.  None of my stuff was damaged!  Thank you universe.

How's your week been?

Thursday, 16 May 2013

I told you I could hear dripping!

Back after a brief hiatus.  Various things piled up and toppled over and I was on the bottom of the pile. And here I am today with some actual (rather than metaphorical) piling and toppling.  It all started with the dripping.

A couple of nights ago I heard a sound in my ceiling when I was in bed.  I'm on the top floor so it wasn't neighbours walking around.  It sounded like water dripping.  I duly reported to the real estate agent that I could hear water dripping in the ceiling.  I heard it again last night.

This morning I happened to be at home when there was a very heavy downpour of rain.  I went into the bedroom to see if I could hear the dripping sound and was confronted by water trickling down the wall behind my bed!  Well, that confirmed it - I wasn't crazy,  I had been hearing dripping.

I immediately called the real estate agent.  Mine is pretty good most of the time.  She is still afflicted by the property manager's malaise - tenants are the bottom of the pile and nothing is really urgent until it's really urgent.  As I was on the phone to her, I heard sizzling and crackling and water started to run from the light fitting in the ceiling.  The property manager's first words were something like "well it's one is going to come out while it's raining."

This is the kind of statement that infuriates me in this kind of situation.  Firstly, I was very aware that it was raining.  Secondly, the longer it took to get someone to stop more water getting into the ceiling, the more serious the situation would be.  Thirdly, it's still urgent and the cumbersome processes when you have to deal with layers of different organisations take a long time to navigate.  You have to start right away.

I felt my mind leaping to the worst case scenario, so took a breath and thought about all the ways that this situation wasn't as bad as it might have been.  How fortunate that I was at home this morning!  How pleasing that I wasn't away somewhere leaving the problem unnoticed for days or maybe weeks.  The ceiling hadn't collapsed, so that was something.

I called the electricity supplier about the sizzling electricity and had a conversation that was frightening but later revealed to be hilarious.

At this stage I had a plastic bucket sitting on towels on my bed catching the water from the light fitting and towels on my bed head catching the water trickling down the walls.  The man at the electricity company said that I should not touch the bucket or the water in the bucket because it was likely to be electrified.  It seemed intense, but I wasn't going to argue and I didn't want to be electrocuted.  I asked him what I should do when the bucket needed to be emptied.  He said that was my decision.  I thought he had misunderstood the question so I clarified that I meant I wanted to know if it was safe just to tip the water out.  He said it was my decision.  I didn't understand the answer so asked him what he meant.  He then said he couldn't say anything because of the legal risk.  If I followed his advice and was still electrocuted then I might sue them.  Well probably not if I was dead, but I didn't point that out.  He then said I should vacate the property until further notice and stay away from the taps if I was going to stay.  Since I had to be there to meet plumbers and electricians I decided to stay well back from the killer taps.

Within half an hour two blokes from the electricity company arrived to see what they needed to do about supply to the property.  They looked and promptly flicked the mains switch in the switch board.  I asked them what I should do with the water in the bucket.  They looked at me as though I was a crazy cat lady and said, deadpan,  "Empty it." I laughed and explained the conversation with the guy at the electricity company.  They guffawed and shook their heads.  "Yeah, right.  So you've got a bucket of electricity...ooooh!"  They left muttering to themselves about idiots.

With that done I went into the village to buy lunch and a plastic drop sheet to cover my bed.  The $2 shop had a huge one for $2 so I bought two.  When I arrived home to cover my bed with it, a big yellow-brown patch had appeared on my fresh white sheets.  I'll bleach it later.  Buying the sheet was a good idea.

I then received a succession of phone calls from tradies called Steve and Mike and Josh.  The plumbers went on the roof and discovered two broken roof tiles.  I scouted around the property and found a couple of others lying around so they were able to stop more water filling the ceiling.  They talked nonchalantly about the prospect of ceiling collapse and replacement of the entire ceiling.  I started to think about the logistics.

Then the (very handsome) electrician arrived - all tall and broad shoulders and twinkly eyes and nice hands.  He was friendly and told stories of strange people he encounters on a regular basis.  I hope I'm not one of his stories he'll tell to the next customer.  We talked power points and my lack of them.  He told me about the power points he has installed in his place - it sounded like heaven, compared to my one power point per room.  I had power point envy!  I was sorry to see him leave and wished I had the courage to say out loud what was on my mind - it was all about inspecting my fuse box but I'll leave that thought there.

The dripping has finished and I'll be able to sleep in my bed tonight.  Hopefully the ceiling won't collapse on me.  And even if it does, I'm still pretty well off.  Even though I've just seen an enormous spider lazily walking along the water wall.

After everyone had left and the electricity was back on I boiled the kettle.  It was one of the best cups of tea I'd had for a while.
Interior decoration brought to you by the weather.
© divacultura 2013

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

I changed someone's life today - how was your day?

After a long day and an early start tomorrow, I just want to share that I made a difference to someone's life this week.  Having made that difference, other lives will also change.  For the better.

In leadership conversation I often find myself reminding leaders what lens they use when they look at their people - do they view people with suspicion, expecting them to do a bad job, or do they expect they're all doing their best?

For people with a negative lens this can be very confronting.  It can turn the heat up for many people, which usually means some focussed argument back in my direction.  I know this and I choose to do it anyway.  Moments like today make it worthwhile.

One of the leaders with whom I'd been in conversation for two days told me that idea of expecting people to be doing their best was revolutionary and was going to change everything.  This leader had most things worked out but they described to me a sense that there was still something missing.  This new lens was the missing piece - their mindset was now aligned to their purpose of wanting to support and develop people.  With the wrong mindset, everyone was disappointed.

The leader was energised and excited as they described this revelation and life changing realisation. They touched me on the arm while we were talking and then apologised for touching me, acknowledging they were a "touchy-feely" person.  I said it was okay and asked if they'd like a hug. It was lovely.

Who have you influenced today?  Who has influenced you? How will you be different tomorrow?

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A case of the "yeah-buts"

I'm in the midst of another leadership conversation.  These conversations are one of my favourite things to do in a working day.  It's very satisfying to see people change their mindset and tackle some of the problems they have been ignoring or avoiding.

There's a syndrome that I've noticed.  It's pretty serious and will make a leader's job much harder if it takes hold.  It's even more dangerous when the leader is a carrier.

It's called "Yeah-buts".  Have you encountered it?  This syndrome can creep in where ever there is a lapse of vigilance.  It is easily recognised.  Consider this:  you are the leader needing to lead a change. You have carefully considered and developed your case for change and paid close attention to how you communicate this.  You've even thought about the kinds of questions that people may pose.  You finish your presentation.  Heads nod.  There is a beat of silence.  Then you hear this: "Yeah, that's all true, what we need to do, but...".

And there it is.

What follows "but" can usually be described as defensive as people make the case to protect themselves from the change they know needs to happen.

In the current conversation leaders were talking about people they lead as "trying to do the wrong thing".  When I asked them how they knew the people in their teams are trying to do the wrong thing I was told it's obvious.  I pointed out the difference between intention and behaviour and the fact that behaviour is visible and intention is not.  Intention can not be assumed; to discover it you need to ask questions.

As people complained about the people they lead, I suggested that these people are their responsibility..."yeah-but".  I suggested that if people flout basic requirements of the job repeatedly and even after conversation, then the leaders must be clear about consequences..."yeah-but".

See how dangerous this syndrome is!  When it takes hold, nothing can happen.

What happens if treatment is taken?  What could the treatment be?  My suggestion is to replace the word "but" with the word "and" whenever it is spoken after the word "yeah".  The phrase becomes "yes-and".

Start there.  Repeat as necessary.

I hope you're not suffering from the "yeah-buts".  If you are, start treatment now.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Your opportunity to support new music.

Remember the fabulous Rose Wintergreen?  She featured here almost a year ago.

One of the things I really admire about Rose is that she sets out to do things and then she does them!  Rose decided to make an album and so started to really focus on her songwriting.  When she had enough songs she booked in the studio and the producer and now she's recording in Alice Springs.

I wanted to let you know because Rose's new record is being crowd funded.  It was Rose's birthday yesterday and my gift is to spread the word about what she needs.  You can contribute to the birth of new music over here.

Rose has put a lot of thought into the rewards she can offer for your contribution.  It's a pretty amazing list - from copies of the finished product, to the gorgeous dress she's wearing in the promo shot to an intimate house concert or personal concert over Skype!  Wow.

You can also opt not to take a reward.  Maybe you could donate the price of your coffee today.

Happy Birthday Rose!  Can't wait to hear your music.

*Disclosure: Rose wrote a song about divacultura for last year's first birthday competition. (Lyrics are here.)  So I might be a bit biased.  Ok, I'll come clean - I'm a fan!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Chasing money costs time.

Today I had to call a client who had not paid me for work I did on the 21st of March.  I'd made an enquiry two weeks ago as I don't like to let these things drag on too long.

It goes like this: I always speak to the person with whom I already have contact.  They are embarrassed, complain about "the finance department" and then promise to follow up with them and let me know the outcome.  They then send me an email saying "it's underway".  No specific timeframe is ever mentioned.

I wait for two weeks and when no payment is received I email my contact asking for details of the contact person in the finance department.

That's what I did today.  I called the finance department while I had a spare twelve minutes between trams.

Barbara was pleasant but didn't let me complete a single sentence.  I had to repeat my name three times as she located me on the system.  Then she made this pronouncement: "Yes, you'll be paid on Friday.  The payment isn't overdue.  Every organisation has a 30 day payment policy and we moved you up to 14 day payment terms."

I thanked her from confirming that I would soon be paid, but she was working off some whacky calendar.  Apart from the face that the dates didn't add up, I asked her why her organisation thinks it's okay to just ignore MY payment terms of 7 days without a word.

"Well it's such a little amount of money and this is what every organisation does.  We pay tens of thousands of dollars in invoices each month."

I sat at the tram stop wondering what that had to do with me.  And I wondered about how the finance department of an organisation with a strong set of values thinks it's okay to be so arrogant.

Obviously I need to change my practises and have an explicit conversation about payment terms.  As a freelancer, I can't afford to provide my services and then wait for weeks, sometimes months, to receive my payment.  When you're running your own business, it's not possible to be coy about money.  You've got to be clear, specific and say what you need.

Here's to the money being in the bank, rather than the cheque being in the mail!