• Dan Truman

5 Things Learnt

This period has been interesting for all of us. We’ve all learnt something unique for ourselves. In the post below I’ve tried to articulate what I’ve learnt in this most unique of situations.

I don’t have much interest in baking, crocheting or delivering an insulting attempt at learning another tongue.

Let’s dive right in at the top.

1. Time

During lockdown, everyone has been given the gift of time.

It might not feel like a gift to some, due to the stresses and burdens it has placed on us, but broken down, time is a privilege.

Lockdown has allowed some to spend more time with their families, to detox from an imbalance of work vs personal lives, to remove negative people/thoughts, time to reflect, time to perfect a skill, time to devote to a cause.

Personally, I’ve loved the gain of 2.5hrs of day not commuting, allowing me to spend more time with my family, more time outdoors and more time playing golf (more of that later).

Sure, I probably could have put that time to other uses, but those felt appropriate and worthwhile to me.

I don’t have much interest in baking, crocheting or delivering an insulting attempt at learning another tongue.

Over the lockdown period the world has appeared to move both faster and slower at the same time. Every day has felt similar to the last, meaning weeks zip by, but the challenge of maintaining consistency and filling voids of time makes it feel slow too.

2. Working from home learnings

Don’t worry, this isn’t one of the 4,563,851 different posts on “how to work from home effectively” and “what you need to be your best working from home self”.

Bore off. Be a human, do simple things well and consistently. This is a hard time so don't expect too much and be happy when things go well.

My narrative has been to over-communicate.

Simply put, I’ve found the way I work. I learnt it from my new dog - if I want myself to work in a certain way, I need rewards.

Stupid stuff - if I finish a report before I certain time I can get a biscuit from the kitchen. If not, working through lunch my friend.

Being your own monitor and worker is a challenge we’re all facing. I can be a right bastard to work for.

Isolation has been a difficult factor - speaking to people on work calls is good, but it’s not the same feeling of camaraderie you get from an office environment.

The daily stand ups with my team are highly entertaining but you do miss the buzz.

However, I have learnt to trust my team, both up and down the chain. If we are open about our goals and give people the help they need to meet targets, they can flourish.

Let people try things and if they don’t succeed, help them figure it out.

My narrative has been to over-communicate.

Communicate the challenges you’re facing and the help required, and why it’s important, of course. But also remember to communicate your achievements, the things that are driving you forwards.

Quick thank you to those who contributed to my question about working at home comforts!

3. Digital future - the outlook

This is probably the second biggest area of learning for me in lockdown. Could (and maybe should be a blog post in its own right).

The way digital works is changing. Evolving. As it should, but at a pace I’ve not seen before.

Put simply, I’ve learnt more about cloud computing (specifically Google Cloud Platform but also about cloud architecture in general) in the last 12 weeks than I have about any other subject in such a short period.

Working on two projects that meet each other in objective has been fascinating - “Digital Toolset Composition” and “Cloud Infrastructure for Marketing”.

One is about (almost) traditional tools like Tag Management Solutions or Digital Analytics or A/B testing. The other is about how processes can be pushed to cloud resources.

At my company we are embarking on a massive overhaul of our digital setup - essentially creating efficiency that is long overdue. I’ve got my role to play, which is great, but it’s a very political and challenging one.

Digital tools often guide a person’s career path - their preferences may determine which jobs they apply for compared with ones that are readily refused.

There are a great many debates about different tools to achieve different objectives, and (again maybe worth another blog post) I won’t go into them here.

To say I’m enjoying the challenge of finding the right balance for a multi-billion euro global company is enough.

The other area of focus for me is the Cloud. Wow, some of the things I have learnt in the last few weeks.

Unfortunately I had to furlough my team at the beginning of lockdown, but they have inspired me so much since then.

These guys have inspired me to get my hands dirty, learn more and action myself - not a huge amount of confidence in it yet, but fully understanding the concepts allows me to push forwards and learn more.

If you're interested in learning more about Cloud, I can't recommend highly enough these courses:

Coursera - Google Cloud Online courses

Pluralsight - Google Cloud series

4. Travel - do not miss

So far, this post has been about positive things - and whilst this is a positive, it’s also a reflection of a past negative.

In 2019, I took 92 flights. I was away from home basically once a week, sometimes for a night or more.

It took its toll on me.

On January 14th 2020, whilst flying back from Amsterdam, I had a massive panic attack in the middle of the (3 times delayed) landing.

If you’ve not had one before, wouldn’t recommend it. It involves being unable to breathe, unable to feel your hands and depending on the severity, some not insignificant chest pains.

All at 400mph in a metal tube full of strangers in gale force wind. Lovely.

But the positive of lockdown has been that travel hasn’t been possible. I’ve still been able to work; in fact I’ve worked very productively. Meetings don’t always feel authentic over video call but we make it work.

The benefit of not commuting to and from London each day is also amazing - seeing the amount of travel cost, petrol use, and other by-products fall has been really amazing to see. Pollution levels dropping, nature levels rising - it’s been good for our world.

5. Updated addictions - sports/coffee/golf

A bit of honesty - I have my vices.

(Separate note I've done 2yrs 5months without alcohol now, woo!)

We all do.

But during lockdown I’ve found I need a dose of competition or sports at least weekly or I tend to go a bit mad.

Online poker has been the real winner for me, and I’ve not done too badly out of it - though some friends might disagree.

There are people who judge it as gambling and a bad habit to create, but joining a Zoom call and playing poker with your friends for $10 in a night is less expensive than spending time at a pub, legal in lockdown, and allows for the social interactions we all miss.

The other new addition is iced coffee. I’m not sure why, but I’ve gotten into the habit of buying a week’s supply of them in the big shop. Bad for me, but I need a treat.

I don’t drink, I do iced lattes - and when in Canada I do Ice Capps from Tim Hortons. Oh wow, now all I can think about.

The final word should be left to my new passion - golf.

And just how one game can be equally frustrating and addictive is fascinating to me. I’ve spent a fair few evenings out on the course during the last few months and I’ve loved it.

Excellent courses tend to be some of the best scenery around too.

I’d recommend golf to everyone - it teaches patience, it increases steps with a fun activity included, and it means you can work the tan (you specifically, not me, I don't tan).

An alternative I’ve also recently enjoyed was footgolf (use your foot instead of clubs to propel a football instead of a golf ball) - really good and thoroughly enjoyable.

And that's that.

Those are my lessons from lockdown so far - it’s not been easy, for anyone. I’ve had my challenges and days were I’ve felt very low, but there’s always tomorrow to try and change it.

PS. If none of this helps at all, get a puppy. They make it all better.

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