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Writing again

And just like that, the first three weeks of another year have passed.

I can’t believe that it has been almost 18 months since I last published a blog post. Not that I didn’t want to. Not that I didn’t start writing the drafts. But somehow, it just didn’t happen.

I was too busy …

The idea wasn’t developed well enough …

The content wasn’t optimised for SEO …

I didn’t have the perfect picture for the header image …

It didn’t fit well with the intent of the blog …

It wouldn’t really add any value to the world …

The site design wasn’t quite right …


And before I knew it, 2014 went by … then 2015 … and then the first weeks of 2016.


But last week, while I was searching for something on typography I came across this amazing article which reminded me why I used to write.


So here we go again.

I’m writing again.

Not for anyone else except me. In imperfectly formed sentences. Without any profound insight or wisdom to add to the universe. Without a header image, headings or a focal keyword. While the site design is a bit broken.


See you around. Soon.

CIO Summit Testimonial Interview

Watching yourself in a video is always strange.

Syed Ahmed - CIO Summit Testimonial

I got interviewed a few months ago to provide a testimonial about the IDC CIO Summits, and talk about what I liked and got out of the most recent one.

Watch in amusement as I stumble my way through the interview (my bit starts at the 59 second mark):

But seriously, I highly recommend the IDC CIO Summits. They allow you to spend a day (if you can spare it) immersed in the world of business technology leadership, see what others are doing well (or not so well), and talk to your peers about how they’re approaching some of the challenges you may be facing.

Looking forward to being at the Sydney CIO Summit 2014 on 24 July!

No Regrets

Caught up with my friend Ben Issa over lunch today, and the conversation turned to the choices we make while we traverse our career paths.

While we discussed what we had done over the years, the people we had worked with and the successes (and disappointments) we had faced, I mentioned that there were some things I regretted doing in hindsight. Things I had said, decisions I had made, choices I had implemented. Some had a small, almost inconsequential impact at the time but I still remember them as subtly shaping my life, while others looked catastrophic but in the long run eventuated to nothing.

Ben, however, reminded me of a better perspective:

“Don’t regret anything. Just learn from it and move on.”

Wise words.

Regret is a negative emotion. It just holds you back, pulls you down and makes you wallow in the past.

Learning means accepting your mistakes, acknowledging your shortcomings, and internalising the wisdom to not repeat them.

This is, in fact, also what Stephen Covey advocates:

“Stop wasting time regretting what you did a year ago. Start doing what you have to do now, so that in a year’s time you won’t regret what you did today.”

When we’re in the grind, we often lose sight of the most basic principles of success, and rather than learn from our mistakes, we only dwell on them. Sometimes it just takes a meaningful chat with a friend to recalibrate our compass.

Thanks Ben. Always a pleasure talking to you.



Some things are worth repeating. I saw this poem, largely credited to Max Ehrman, when I was in my first year of my undergraduate degree. It’s been with me since, and every once in a while I go back and read it for a little reflection.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrman, 1927

Snoopy people on the train

I typically spend a couple of hours a day on weekdays on the train, commuting between home and work. In true productivity geek fashion, I try to squeeze as much as I can out of this time, usually doing one of the following:

  • Work (yeah, I know …)
  • Reading (both professional and recreational)
  • Meditating
  • Thinking
  • Sleeping (when the kids / work / something else has kept me up all night)
  • General GTD-type housekeeping, such as emptying my mind into a trusted system (which is currently Asana)
  • Trying to write journal / blog entries

I find a quiet spot, dig in for the next hour and get cracking. Every once in a while, my peaceful <pick activity from list above> is interrupted by:

  • A friend seeing me sitting there and catching up for the rest of the trip
  • An acquaintance seeing me and feeling compelled to sit next to me and making (sometimes awkward) small talk for the rest of the trip

And that’s OK – you do need to be social. Sometimes, though, I’ll get some random stranger sitting next to me who is just … snoopy. No, not in a smart, cute canine way, but in the super-annoying, reading my book / laptop (sometimes out loud) way. Seriously.

And that’s pretty much what happened this morning. I was happily sitting at a window seat, minding my own business, emptying my brain of things I needed to get done today, when this guy came and sat next next to me. He then proceeded to read  – unabashedly – through what I was typing into my loaner Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro (review coming soon). At one point, it became so obvious that I looked at him and said “Hello”, hoping that he would feel bad and stop. But he just smiled, said Hello, shook my hand, and continued his reading pleasure – of my work. Wow.

Much as I tried, I just couldn’t deal with it, so I closed the laptop, packed it away, and spent the rest of the trip thinking about it. While both annoying and somewhat amusing at the same time, I was wondering what is good commuting etiquette relating to reading / viewing other people’s materials on public transport?

I’ve always thought that reading over someone’s shoulder was rude, and feel that it also applies to digital devices. So if you get on public transport and are bored, please refrain from peeking into the reading / viewing material on your neighbour’s lap. You certainly wouldn’t like it if it happened to you … I think.