It’s the penultimate week before the Christmas break, but there has been absolutely no sense of anything slowing down. Thankfully, an event I went to last week has reminded me about the important things, and why we do what we do.
1. Reflecting on the #UnAwards18
Well it has been a week, and since then I’ve thrown myself right back in to delivering a lot of work.
But it’s definitely worth some reflection on the Best Comms Event of the Year (joint honour shared, to my mind, with CommsCamp), the UnAwards.
Firstly, I was again knocked out by how incredibly warm and supportive this community is. People that’ve probably only met a handful of times, treat each other like old friends. Everyone is genuinely pleased for each other, and looking out for each other.
In public sector comms, it can be tough. We don’t tend to get expensive weekends away in Dubai on team-building exercises, and we are constantly asked to provide the Moon on a stick for about 23p, in the next 5 minutes.
But public and third sector comms people work just as hard, and in the absence of these blingy events, something much more valuable has emerged - a genuine sense of community, and, oddly for an Awards ceremony, a distinct lack of “competition”. We all learn from each other, and are so pleased for each other when a colleague or friend is recognised for their creativity.
And the winners were all so well deserved. One thing that really struck me this year was how forensic they were in their analysis of performance analytics. Insight, behavioural shift and data were really significant features of the winners this year; so it was brilliant to see comms with real purpose and impact being recognised.
As I said last week, good things happen when good people make them happen, and there is no better example of this than the UnAwards and this whole community. There’s no Directors sitting on anyone to do this. It’s in no-one objectives for the year. It’s happened because Darren has made it happen, and others (such as myself this year) feel passionate about supporting it.
My small contribution this year was providing the playlist for the walk-up music; and, for those of you that enjoyed it, here’s the playlist.
This community has played a massive role in my life and career for the past 5 years or so. It’s been wonderful to see it grow, to meet new friends, and to catch up with old ones.
I already can’t wait for the UnAwards masterclasses.
No pressure Darren…
2. Old friends - new project
This week I started a new project, a recruitment campaign for an NHS organisation, that I used to work for, in their in-house team.
I absolutely loved being back in the hospital I used call home, and bumping into a number clinicians and nurses that I’ve previously enjoyed working with.
I did some work interviewing some of the nursing team, and as I always used to be, I was really inspired by their dedication and happy attitude whilst working in really challenging circumstances.
A lot is said of “our amazing NHS staff”, but like most cliches, there’s more than a kernel of truth in it. The teamwork, the camaraderie, the total dedication to making patients’ lives better never fails to inspire and humble me. And it’s why I love working in the NHS when I get the opportunity.
3. Podcast of the Week #1
Well, as it’s been a busy week or two, i haven’t had much time to do much reading. Listening, on the other hand…
Which is just as well, as the Toppermost podcast of the comms world was out again this week. The Talking Comms Podcast is a great listen again this week, with great insight on how to create the ideal comms team (something I mused over myself a few years back, when I was creating a new team from scratch).
I also loved the interview with Hel Reynolds on creativity, and how the best ideas can come from the simple act of writing stuff down in a notebook when inspiration strikes, and saving it for those rainy days.
This actually reminded me of my very scientific approach to starting Grey Fox. I actually started the business in July 2018, but was seriously planning it from about the March. I kept having questions that were plaguing me, which were, in effect stopping me from moving forward. The thought of giving up a secure permanent job to go into this crazy world, just seemed so fraught with questions, things I didn’t know about yet, and fear.
A pivotal moment for me came when I started just jotting things down. When I did that, I realised that the main issues I was having fell into 9 categories. Once I realised that, I drew them out in boxes on an A3 piece of paper, and kept it with me at all times. Whenever I thought of something, it would usually be scribbled down in one of those categories. It allowed me to approach each issue one by one, and in a rational manner (not easy when you’re making a huge life decision).
So it’s fair to say that, quite literally, scribbling things down on a scruffy piece of paper changed my life…
4. Podcast of the week #2
And in shameless self promotion news…
I’m really proud to share a new podcast that I’ve produced for one of my clients.
The CLAHRC Greater Manchester podcast Episode One, “dropped” last week, and is an in depth discussion into a new toolkit developed to support the carers of people on end-of-life pathways.
Really important work with a potentially huge impact for the lives of some of society’s most important people.
If you’re interested in applied health research, and using evidence to improve lives, it’s a great listen.
If I do say so myself.