Tag Archives: work

Reflections on my 2015

2015 was a pretty huge year for me, some lessons I’ve learned and some highlights are below.

 

Work

In January 2015 I ran/led my first direct mail campaign (of course I have been involved with them before but this one was my baby as I was head of the team at the time) with my team and we smashed all previous records raising over £250k with an impressive ROI. I still can’t quite believe I did this and I think it will certainly be one of my proudest work-related achievements for many many years.

In 2015 I have had the pleasure of having two terrific bosses who I have learned a lot from and have taught me so much. Although I am no longer managed by either, I still talk to them both and trust that our relationships will continue for many years. What is particularly interesting to me is that one of these people taught me that sometimes things happen for a reason and I shouldn’t let “now” get in the way of what is really important to me. I dreaded his arrival as he was to be the permanent solution to my “acting up” role – it turned out it was pretty much the best thing that could have happened, I loved my time “acting up” but, deep down, I didn’t really want to be designing mailings and liaising with printers and designers, I just thought I did because that was the opportunity that was there and was being threatened. I’m now much happier in a new role with a direct report to line manage and much more scope to play with and do cool stuff with data.

 

Speaking

Wow.

Toastmasters

I joined my local Toastmasters branch in May and have never looked back.

I decided to enter my first proper contest, Humorous Speech, starting out at the Club level in September. I won that and moved to the Area where I won again and advanced to Division level, which necessitated a trip to Bristol. After unexpectedly winning here (and being the first person in my club to get to a District final in HS since 1999), I then won the District final becoming District 91 (UK South) Champion.

Selina Jones at District Contest - Nov 15

I hope to write more about the experience in the near future.

Conferences

Having attended a number of CASE conferences as part of my job, I set a long-term goal at the start of 2015 to speak at one. Little did I know that by the end of 2015, I would have spoken at two!

I formed part of a panel (on solutions to problems) at the Development Services conference held in Birmingham in October. I was disappointed with my performance at this panel – having expressed an interest in speaking on it in June, I wasn’t told until late September that I was wanted (I assume someone dropped out) which meant I didn’t have much time to prepare what I was going to say (let alone remember what my original idea which I thought had been rejected had been). A panel session also meant using a mic behind a lectern. Ugh.

My other slot came at the Regular Giving conference in December (which I had attended in 2014), this year held in Leeds. I had been paired with someone I hadn’t met from UCL to talk about our approaches to predictive modelling. We had a couple of phone conversations and I was able to travel up to London to meet him face to face and do a dry run through the week before (thanks to going to a West End show!).
I was happy with my performance at this conference, I came up with some good slides, had prepared what I was going to say and had some terrific feedback from someone in the industry who I greatly admire who attended my session @adriansalmon  and from the Conference Chair herself.

 

Running

My greatest achievements were at the start of the year – getting two 20 mile PBS in March, managing to duck under 3 hours in Oakley 20. After an incredibly disappointing 8th marathon (which led me to write this post) – I finished in 4:50:48 – so in effect it took me nearly two hours to run a further six miles! Stupid marathons… I didn’t do that much running for the rest of the year.

I had an enjoyable half marathon in June where I supported a stranger to complete their first ever half in 02:01:58 (and wrote about it here). I also completed Oxford half again in October completely untrained having not run longer than 4-5.5 miles at a stretch a maximum of twice a week, I managed to finish in 01:57:35 which, I was actually pretty pleased with. I ran most of it with my neighbour and I drove us there as well so it was nice to have some company.

I tried another Men’s Health SOTF which I had loved so much the previous year, but sadly it coincided with the only cold week we have had this winter (in November) and I could barely use my hands let alone climb. I don’t think I will be back, it’s not worth the risk of another freezing cold day (I’ve got nothing against running in the cold, it’s the obstacle side of it that means I can’t do it, if I can’t feel my hands I can’t climb or pull myself anywhere).

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Business cards

For I don’t even know how long, I have wanted my own business cards, so with my bonus from work I got some printed (and designed) by the printhouse I work with at work. I also treated myself to a lovely holder from Pylones

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Lessons I Learned From My Best Week Ever*

At the end of August I had one of the best weeks I have ever had – I set not one, but two running PBs, passed my driving test (the third attempt!) and got a promotion at work. Rather than just chalking it all up to luck (although I am sure luck played rather a large part), I decided to examine my behaviour during that week to see if there was anything that I did that perhaps, made my own luck.

  1. Work HARD. PUSH further. Dig DEEP

It sounds obvious, but sometimes you just actually really need to work hard to get what you want or to go further. I always thought I ran hard; after all, it wasn’t easy, so it must be hard, right? Wrong! Working hard is hard, when I ran for my PBs it was extremely uncomfortable, I panted the whole way round, it was tough. Similarly, for my new job I will be out of my comfort zone – I have not managed people before or led a team before and I will be doing this on top of my current job, but sometimes, you have to just “dig deep”.

  1. Recuperate – (take time to sharpen your axe).

We can’t go at things 100% 100% of the time. I can’t get a 10k PB , or even run a 10k at 10k PB pace everyday; it isn’t possible. Athletes know it, so they have training plans to gear them up for an event and then give them some time off/an off season afterwards to rest and wind-down before ramping up again. The day of my 10k PB I took the whole day off, I was rested, didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and I was relaxed – I wasn’t even thinking about running a PB, I just wanted to run and have a good race. The day of my 5k PB, I was on a weekend break. When I passed my driving test, I had the whole day off. We can’t always take time off when we want to, but we can take a break, wind down, go for lunch. You can’t sprint all the time.

  1. Believe in yourself

Normally in a race I am constantly checking my average pace and panicking as I see it drop and I know my dream time has slipped by. This time, I barely looked at my watch, I just thought “I am going to run hard” and I ran hard, I had faith in my own ability to not need external verification of it the whole time. For the 5k PB eight days later, I looked at my past performance – I had just set a 10K PB, the 5 one was ripe for the taking. OK, I didn’t know the route, the terrain, the weather, I was away from home etc – things that could be negative but ultimately didn’t matter, I had just done it, I could do it again – I had faith in my ability. This was also true of my driving test, ok; past performance was that I had failed twice, but I had faith in that I could actually drive. This was true of my promotion, I know I have a lot to offer as an employee and I can do the job.

  1. Keep your cards close to your chest

I told everybody about my first driving test, I was just so excited I wanted the world to know. Then I failed. Ouch. A similar thing happened the second time. My third time, nobody knew I was taking it. I am not suggesting that this was why I passed but it is interesting – if you are aiming for something where the result is out of your control – a test, an interview, it’s best to keep it to your self or a trusted confidante; you can always tell the world when you’ve done it.

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff – delegate, throw money at it, just sort it

I had been worrying before the 10k – I still couldn’t drive and I was wondering how to get to the race. I don’t like asking people I don’t know very well for lifts, I don’t want to inconvenience anyone, I could walk but then I would be tired, the logistics stress me out, I could get a bus but it wasn’t really on a bus route, I could leave work early….eventually I took the whole day off so I could relax and enjoy myself and I paid for a taxi to take me there. Done, sorted – I arrived completely relaxed and ready. How often do we stress about the small details, the things that really should be insignificant in the scheme of what we are trying to achieve but instead keep us up at night worrying about this tiny detail? We can’t all just book a taxi I realise, but perhaps we can delegate or fix that tiny thing so that we can get on with the bigger picture and what is really important.

  1. Be open to opportunities

If I had looked at my watch during the 10k I would have thought “Wow, that’s fast, I can’t possibly run 6 miles at that pace” and then I would have slowed down (I had been thinking I was in 52 minute shape – not sub-49 shape!). If I had not been open to opportunities, I would not have been promoted – you can be content and happy in what you do (or your pace!) and still keep an eye out for opportunities to make progress, develop or broaden your horizons – the two are not mutually exclusive.

 

* Ok, it was eight days, and maybe it wasn’t my best week ever, but it was still fantastic.