Sunday, May 16, 2021

Life Lately: The Trouble with Open Offices and Two Thoughts on Investing

I know way more than I want to about a guy who sat behind me at the office on Friday. There were three people in that row of desks but this one guy stood out. I heard what he ate for breakfast. I heard that he was born in India, moved to the US, and just bought a flat in London. I have a pretty good idea what projects he’s working on. And so on…

He held many meetings at his desk, speaking as though he was in a noisy stadium rather than an almost-empty office building. His sing-song voice cut through my noise cancellation earphones and the focus music I put on in attempt to keep him out of my head. His voice sparked garish flashbacks to the loud people from the open offices I’ve worked in. When I eventually moved to get away from his voice, I couldn’t help wondering how I got anything done in open offices before the pandemic.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

The Power of Weak Ties

Picture of Obama from his 2004 keynote speech at the DNC

Barack Obama met John Kerry for the first time in April 2004. Three months later, Kerry selected Obama to deliver the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Obama went on to deliver a great speech that announced him nationally, eventually resulting in a two-term presidency. Obama’s big break came from a weak tie, not someone he had known forever and was best buddies with.

We know relationships are important success drivers. There is a lot of material about the importance of friends, mentors, and sponsors. These are very important people who make and shape us. We know that already, so this isn’t about them.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Life Lately: How recognition from a kind teacher changed my life; Work anniversary

1998, at Adesola Kings & Queens School, Ibadan, Nigeria

I posted this picture on Instagram during the week with the caption “I am somewhere in this picture doing what comes naturally to me in a large group”. 19 friends responded, some with one word, and they were nearly all right. If you look closely, you too can see me. Go on, look for me. Do you see me?

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Life Lately: Learn and Be Curious

Ten years ago at OAU's amphitheatre

I cringe when I look at my Facebook posts from twelve years ago. I ignored grammar rules, overshared the minutiae of everyday life, and my thinking was, well, “different”. I sometimes can’t believe I wrote those posts. I have learnt and grown so much since then that it feels like more than twelve years have passed.

Bill Gates famously said most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in a decade. I think a similar axiom is true for learning. When I read my notes from 2011, it is clear I underestimated how much I could learn – and therefore grow – in ten years.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Life Lately: Why You Need Input Metrics

A highlight of this week was beating Liverpool over two legs to advance to the UCL semi-finals. The picture on the left is from the home dugout at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Early in 2019, I became convinced I was overweight. I had gotten into the habit of recording my weight daily and I had watched the line trend upwards for months. So, like I had done before, I set a specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound goal to lose about 10kg over the next few months. My plan was to create a calorie deficit, but I did not immediately define that in further detail.

Well, nothing changed over the next few months. I began eating less and exercising more, by a vague and varying amount, but that line tracking my weight continued to inch upwards. And then a chance conversation with Ehis helped unlock an insight I was aware of professionally but rarely applied in my personal life.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Life Lately - Who Can You Support This Week?

DMX and Prince Phillip. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Two famous men died on Friday. Prince Phillip, a 99-year-old British royal, died after a long and full life. DMX, a 50-year-old American rapper, died sooner than most people would like. The Prince was born into Greek and Danish royalty and married the British monarch. DMX suffered abuse as a child and turned to stray dogs for companionship after leaving home aged 14. The Prince’s gaffes made their way around the world. DMX’s music set records and inspired a generation. Their lives couldn’t have been more different, but they both left marks on the world. May their souls rest in peace.

*****

There has been an outpouring of good DMX stories on Twitter. I read through some of them and it’s clear he wasn’t just a celebrity acting nice. He was warm, welcoming, and didn’t think of himself as above his fans. It got me thinking about this line from the hymn Only Remembered, “only remembered by what we have done”.

There is an endless list of things that people do and are remembered for, but I wanted to focus on generosity today because I’ve been thinking about it for weeks. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about generosity in the context of sharing our time and material resources with people who are less privileged than we are.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Life Lately - This I Believe, Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Own photo from a live production of The Passion of the Christ; Trafalgar Square 2019

I really enjoyed evangelism as a child. There were few things I loved more than going out in the bus with my dad before Sunday services and special programs to invite people to church. Some kind people would come to the bus to request more information after hearing my squeaky voice over the PA system. They would tell me how surprised they were to hear a child speaking so passionately about God and they would compliment my confidence. A few of them even showed up to church – something that delighted me greatly.

Then life happened. I grew up and started to get sidetracked. Rather than focus on God’s love and redemption, which made for a simple and compelling message, I would let myself get drawn into lengthy discussions about the original meanings of Greek and Hebrew words, hair coverings, trousers, tithes, and church scandals. The message became complicated and more difficult to convey. I started to major on the minor.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Life Lately - Dealing with my unending workload

A view of London City from Victoria Park

The past few weeks were kind of weird. Despite working longer hours and with more intensity than at any previous time, I kept feeling like I wasn’t doing enough. So I did the usual things – I prioritized even more ruthlessly, I identified things ‘not to do’, I meditated more, and I worked even more hours.

None of this worked. My stress levels increased and I inched closer to burnout. At some point on Wednesday, I thought to myself that I couldn’t continue like that, so I tore myself away from the computer and went on a long walk to attempt a reset.

I started by quantifying things. Because I’ve been logging my daily hours for years, I know I am working about 10 more hours per week than I would be doing if I was going into the office. How could I feel like I was falling behind while working what was effectively six days a week? What did I need to do differently?

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Life Lately - My hack for better weekends, Trust in God


I cover two unrelated topics in this post. The first is on my approach to having better weekends. The second, inspired by recent conversations with new graduates, is about one of my favorite songs and how it helped me through an anxiety-inducing transition from university into work.

**1**

I had a really crap weekend just over a year ago. It was a complete wreck of a weekend. I slept too much, ate too much, discussed charged topics endlessly, watched TV for what felt like an entire age, and was completely drained of all emotional energy when Sunday evening rolled around. It took all my 'home training' to not call in sick on Monday, and as I sat in the train to work – tired and drained before the week had even started – I realized I had to do better in future.

I thought about it for a little bit and decided to list the things I found energizing and then fill my weekends with those things. Starting that week, I began making what I now call 'my weekend to-do list'. There’s nothing fancy on the list and it includes most of the usual suspects – call x, take a long walk, read y, check on b, see a movie, and so on. Making the list during the week helps me look forward to the weekend, and ensures I have a 'balanced weekend' mostly consisting of things that energize me. It also helps fend off the “where did the weekend go?” question.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Cheat Day - Mother's Day, The Order of Time

Happy Mother's Day, Mrs. Ko

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who are reading this. Thank you for all that you do. I know this day can spark a variety of emotions depending on what’s going on in our lives, so I wanted to share this link to Nifemi’s post describing the joy and pain of Mother’s Day. If you’re hurting today, for whatever reason, I wish you peace and comfort.

I’ve been trying for a few hours, but I now have to admit I’m unable to do any serious writing in my current frame of mind. Therefore, I thought I’d instead share one of my favorite passages from Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time.

"We are not a collection of independent processes in successive moments. Every moment of our existence is linked by a peculiar triple thread to our past – the most recent and the most distant – by memory. Our present swarms with traces of our past. We are histories of ourselves. Narratives. I am not this momentary mass of flesh reclined on the sofa typing the letter ‘a’ on my laptop; I am my thoughts full of the traces of the phrases that I am writing; I am my mother’s caresses, and the serene kindness with which my father calmly guided me; I am my adolescent travels; I am what my reading has deposited in layers in my mind; I am my loves, my moments of despair, my friendships, what I’ve written, what I’ve heard; the faces engraved on my memory. I am, above all, the one who a minute ago made a cup of tea for himself. The one who a moment ago typed the word ‘memory’ into his computer. The one who just composed the sentence that I am now completing. If all this disappeared, would I still exist? I am this long, ongoing novel. My life consists of it." - Carlo Rovelli

Have a fab week, and see you next week.