Tag Archives: Values

The one with the single version of the truth

If like me you studied biology in school you will likely remember the Kreb’s cycle. It’s a rather nifty process through which the body converts sugars into more accessible forms of energy. At the age of 15/16 I could likely have drawn the Krebs cycle blindfolded and tell you how many molecules of ATP were formed at the end. I can’t anymore.

Fast forward a few years and I was University studying Biochemistry and on getting into a discussion about the Krebs cycle during a tutorial all that I held to be true was dispelled with one comment from a Professor who shared the truth that what we had been taught at school was “a simplified version to enable you to pass your A-Level”. I was crushed and soothed my angst with some glucose diluted in strong continental lager. The more we continued with our studies the worse it became in that there were very few absolutes but many theories, speculations, conjectures and a myriad of things still unknown.

Once I joined the world of work life reverted to a ‘school Krebs cycle’ kind of mode. Opinions of others in the organisation were generally based on those of my boss. Firstly, because I didn’t really have much to benchmark them against, secondly, because I didn’t really trust my own judgement and thirdly because most serious interactions with others outside our team were generally initiated by my boss. Life was easy.

Then I started working in recruitment and my opinion was suddenly part of my trade. But (and there had to be a but) what made it easier was I wasn’t actually providing judgement, I was providing a viewpoint in response to requests for data (interview questions) and then allowing other people (initially clients and latterly line managers) make decisions. Life was slightly more complex but still relatively easy.

As my career has progressed I realise (and mostly with reflection) that my ability to form a view point on other people is probably one of the key elements of my role and here’s where life gets so much more difficult. There is not right and wrong there is only the subjective reality (or as some like to refer to it opinion). I have written before about the confidence required to express your own opinion here and the vagaries of the winners and losers internally here but a conversation last week has made me think more about this and I realise a few things:

1. It’s important to control for emotion in the formation of your opinion

2. Context is of course important but in forming your own judgement experiment with different contexts – it may help you frame a situation/person differently

3. When listening to other people express their judgements realise that they are of course being subjective. Try and articulate (to yourself) the factors that will have driven the formation of that opinion

4. Remember that everyone has good days and bad days…and so do you!

5. Act within your own personal values and the values of the organisation in how you enact your opinion

6. Be prepared to accept new data and allow that to impact your judgement (there are very few hills to die on)

7. Realise that at times your opinion may be a lone voice – that doesn’t make it wrong but it may make expressing it a courageous act

8. Understand that your opinion has value and so do other people’s. Treat theirs with respect and expect them to do the same

9. I know this is a values point but it’s worth expressing – don’t be a conniving political snake (technical term) in how you express your opinion

10. If you want to know someone elses opinion of you, ask them but be prepared for some home truths

Despite the fact that life is rarely easy and the transition to many versions of the truth has left it’s scars I think effectively managing your opinion, it’s impact and that of others is what makes what we do worth it. Otherwise it’s just a holiday spreadsheet….




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The one where what goes around

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Life can be turbulent at the best of times and given the madness that is unfolding daily on the global stage it hasn’t been this turbulent for some time. At times it all appears unreal, like something that would happen in a Roland Emmerich movie and any moment Dennis Quaid, Will Smith or Bill Pullman are going to get it in gear and sort the world out….

Whatever is happening on a macro level the impacts are certainly being felt by individuals and not just those who have already had to deal with lose of employment, houses, goods and chattel but even by those who are still fortunate to be in employment and at least are making the payments.

On a person level I had a period of unemployment roughly 10 years ago (I was surfing a job board when the first plane went into the Twin Towers) and whilst I didn’t realise it at the time with reflection it was an interesting leveller of the people who were genuinely invested in me and those who enjoyed my company when I had money in my pocket, the ear of my boss and a drink in my hand. It sorted the men from the boys… (And the women from the girls?!! No that doesn’t work but you get the point)

In talking to friends, former colleagues and people I know from the broader network it does appear that I am not alone in having experienced the behaviour changing in those around me. Whether that be those in politically volatile environments or those who’ve gone from being a “big cheese” to a “looking for….” it does appear that people react differently to changing status/fortunes, some choosing to see it as an opportunity to support that friend/colleague and others seeing it (or maybe just not seeing it) as a person no longer worthy of the time.

In thinking this over I can’t quite decide firstly whether I’ve ever been guilty of this and secondly whether this reflects on the values of the individual or just a misperception of the original relationship by both parties. All in all I’m not quite sure and given lots of things going on at the moment I am not giving it much thought but in sharing this would hope that at least one person takes a moment to think about those they used to ‘put the effort in’ for and maybe check in or drop them a mail for no other reason than because you can and you know what they say “what goes around comes around”….


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The one with the world’s favourite airline

I used to live in West London. I lived on the 7th floor of a building and could lie in bed and watch the aircraft on final approach to Heathrow. I reached a point where “you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all” but that wasn’t true when (given this was the late 90s) Concorde came into land. It looked amazing; it sounded different and just represented something special in aviation terms.

When I visited New York for the first time I was lucky enough to go on board one of the decommissioned Concorde’s which was at the time on display near USS Intrepid at Pier 86. It was surprisingly small but still looked amazing. The obvious affection the aircraft was held in was reflected by the messages left by crew (air & ground alike) on various parts of the fuselage.

What’s brought this to mind? British Airways have recently launched a new advertising campaign entitled “To Fly. To Serve”. If you haven’t seen the advert I’ve linked it below. It depicts the journey through passenger aviation from Imperial Airways, to BOAC, to a modern 747-400 and of course Concorde. Sadly, I believe all the Concordes had their engines removed after being taken out of service so the shots of the Concorde flying are computer generated. In my opinion it’s a very effective film which deserves a nod to all involved especially BBH whose creative work drove it.

You may be wondering why I am writing about it? There are several reasons:

The first is I am a British Airways customer (clinging on to my frequent flyer card for dear life and trying to get consulting gigs that need flights!!) and have spent many hours on their aircrafts and had some great experiences and some not so great experiences.

The second is I think this campaign reflects the changed times (as do many others) in that it was initially launched (I think) on YouTube and the brand are actively engaging on social media with those commenting about it (I have had 2 different tweets from 2 different BA Twitter accounts). So in addition to the TV and website exposure, the brand are ‘landing’ (pardon the pun) the work and driving the engagement very actively. There are also a number of supporting and complimentary videos around the core video shown above.

The third and to me most significant reason is I think it’s a strong piece of corporate communication. Yes, it’s a strong piece of advertising but advertising to me always implies a sales message and it certainly seems focussed at that but there is more.

To me the core message of “To Fly. To Serve” is an empowering statement to the customers of the airline. I can picture a scene on board an aircraft if someone is not getting what they want they may well invoke this statement in questioning the customer experience. Now I can also picture a scene where it is glibly thrown at some poor cabin crew member but to me the idea of empowering your customers to hold you to the standard you profess is very powerful.

There is also a very clear statement of values to the employees of British Airways. I can imagine there are some who having seen (or been involved in the making of, which was a nice touch) the film have felt a real pride in the organisation they work for and it has empowered or maybe even inspired them to live up to the message. Likewise, I can imagine a few jaded individuals shrugging their shoulders and with eyes raised to heaven, cursing management or marketing and maybe just maybe this will set a bar that proves too high for them.

In a time when the economy is woeful and competition rife it is pleasing to me to see a British brand investing in such an effective piece of multi faceted communication that harks back to the days of “the world’s favourite airline”


No BA miles or Tier Points were exchanged for the writing of this blog!!


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