Being 30

I recently went to an audition for BBC Sussex radio. I made it into the top 30 out of the 180 auditionees but unfortunately I didn’t make the top 12.

You’d have thought that after five years’ experience behind a mic in a radio studio that I would have been confident and looking forward to getting in front of the judges. Not so. It wasn’t just the X-Factor like set up; the lights, the cameras, the judges and the other hopefuls in my group, it was also that I really wasn’t sure of my topic.

My Wake Up Happy Show on Kane 103.7FM is a little daft and often borders on the ridiculous. (If you like the sound of that tune in or head to kanefm.com from 9-11 Wednesday mornings) This, it seems, was actually what they were looking for.

However, the following is rather sarcastic and perhaps a little depressing. This is what I based my 60 seconds on…Next time Wiz, make them laugh!

Being 30

Since crashing into my 30s I’ve come to the slightly depressing realisation that for at least another 30 years I’m going to have to keep up with the ever-changing rules surrounding healthy, mindful, ethical living. I’m hoping by around 60 I’ll have figured it all out and found my zen. My mum says, good luck with that.

Should I be a vegan? Should I give up the super market in favour of farm shops? Am I really practising mindfulness and being grateful? How do I reduce my plastic usage and should I get a horse and cart instead of driving around in my camper van? And what about over population? Should I even consider the wonders of motherhood?

It’s no surprise we’re all stressed and anxious. We are bombarded with information. Social media, advertising, television, newspapers, billboards and the like. These channels constantly fill me with guilt that I’m not living up to modern standards. Can this feeling really only be remedied by drinking oat milk out of an ethically sourced avocado?

It’s not just the usual suspects that I’m talking about. More and more information streams are making their way into our merry little lives. Podcasts for example can be marvellous but do present a slight problem. Which do you listen to? Who do you trust and what do you ignore? With self-publishing platforms like the podcast there is a lot of misinformation out there that we have to wade through to get to the truth. And even when we’ve found the truth, who knows if it will remain so? Another study could be done to disprove what we thought we knew. It’s exasperating.

I remember the days of looking things up in Encyclopaedia Britannica. Yes, I was very young, but I remember. It was before the Internet was in the palm of our hands, before self-publishing and before we all got confused. You knew that the answer would have been well researched and you could trust the knowledge each volume contained – although I doubt those books would have helped you decide whether or not to go vegan.

A healthy life is a wholesome life, but in my 20s this idea was at the back of my mind only to be brought into sharp focus a month ago.

Am I living ethically? Is my career on track? Am I a good wife? Is procrastination really the right driving force behind cleaning the house? I find I’m questioning every habit and behaviour and it’s driving me mad. It seems I have an awful lot of growing up to do!

I’m 30 which means it may be time to start adulting, but for now, I think I’ll return to my blanket fort.

How to live in the vortex

The job market. A once shining place of hopes and dreams inhabited by young believers looking, and often finding, their lucky break. Now it resembles a never-ending line at the post office where every window you go to, you get sent to another.

This impression for me is intensified when looking for part time or flexible work. That queue is even longer, the windows are smaller and the people behind the desks are so overwhelmed with applicants they only stay open for ten minutes a day.

So what can you do? Writing has always been a difficult path to pave and with self-publishing platforms continuously cropping up, ready for anyone and everyone to scribble all over, making a living out of writing is hard.

Although these self-publishing platforms may seem a hindrance to the hopeful writer that is not necessarily the case. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the rest can be used not only to promote yourself but also your writing. Blog, tweet, write articles on LinkedIn and then share them all over your digital channels.

There are also a number of freelancer, flexible working and creative professionals groups and pages you can join to find other creatives and work. Some of these will let you promote your work through their group/page but not all, so always check with admin.

Connecting with other writers may seem counter-productive but having a community of like minds around can make for some comfort in the grand vortex that is online publishing. You can also help each other out if one or the other of you has too much work. Always be supportive to your fellow creatives. You never know who could help you or who you could help in the future.

Stories can come from anywhere, you just need to pay attention to what’s going on around you. Look at the calendar. Can you ride the news agenda with a time sensitive, topical piece? Have you got a fresh angle on a topic currently in the news? If you can be current and relevant it’s more likely you’ll entice readers.

With writers everywhere I won’t pretend that the competition isn’t fierce. As I said, with self-publishing platforms, everyone is doing it, so you may wonder if anyone actually needs a professional writer these days. But just because somebody can bash the keys that doesn’t mean they can write. If you have the skill don’t undersell it, know your worth.

There are many different levels of professional writers and varying pay grades. From the pittance earned by the junior in a small publication up to the influencers that charge over a grand per blog, most people fit somewhere in the middle. Speak to your fellow writers and look into the going rate for your education, skill and experience level. Try to avoid mate’s rates. Your real friends will support your work and want to pay in full – or at least I would like to hope!

Doing unpaid work to build up your portfolio is an unfortunate must for many writers, but once you’ve got that portfolio stop working for free. It’s a tricky business especially as your first clients will likely be people you already know so you don’t want to overcharge them. But do charge. The unpaid intern era is here but don’t fall for it. If a company offers ‘experience’ that probably means it’s not offering money.

How’s your proofreading? Refine it. The internet is littered with typos and grammatical errors. If you notice them try contacting the company to let them know. Yes, you might irritate them, but they may also like your bold approach and ask you to check more of their writing in the future. What have you got to lose?

When you’re out there looking be fully aware of the roles you’re applying for. Some roles may be advertised as writing jobs but when you start you may realise it’s all social media posts and communications. If you want pure writing you need to ferry your way through all the media, marketing and communication roles.

Don’t think of your fellow writers as competition, think of them as co-workers. There are enough words in the world for us all.

And with that I bid you adios. Good luck!  

Delivery science and robotic process in business

 

Delivery science and Robotic Process Automation is working its way into businesses, but as this kind of technology is being adopted by some, many seem resistant to it.

In the past, research was conducted in the form of surveys and focus groups, but these methods are biased as only a small proportion of the population can engage with them. Big data has replaced these practises and paved the way for a much more accurate and informed picture of what customers want. How we now use this data is the question on everyone’s minds but businesses that are utilising AI are answering that question. By using machines to analyse data, inaccuracies due to human error are eradicated and the machines can look into the data without emotion getting in the way.

Replacing man hours with automation software is an exciting prospect as it has been proven that using this type of software means businesses can save time, improve accuracy and cut costs, but will adoption of this kind of software cost jobs?

In a 2017 report by McKinsey it was found that 60 percent of all occupations have at least 30 percent technically automatable activities but only five percent were found to be 100 percent automatable. That means that even the lower skilled worker is less in danger of being replaced than people seem to think.

The time each employee gets back, thanks to AI, can be spent on more creative and enjoyable work tasks which could lead to improved employee satisfaction and a reduction in staff turnover. In short, this kind of technology gives rise to better, more creative use of human skills.

Another benefit of this technology is the easy integration into current business practices and the personalisation prospects of this kind of system. Robotic Process Automation can replace the daily practise of menial tasks without causing disruption to the business. With many new technologies and IT solutions the integration into businesses can be a time consuming and complex task requiring staff training. With RPA there is no need for this as the machines do all the work. And if you’re not getting the outcomes you desire you can simply turn it off at the switch. Machines can work around the clock, they don’t need breaks, holiday or sick days, which all saves time and resources.

This technology can give almost instant results and can work alongside, rather than instead of, current business systems and staff instead of replacing them.

Accenture reports that the benefits of automation include reducing costs by 80%, saving time by 80-90% and reducing errors, so why are businesses still resisting?

The technology does require some man power to execute effectively and in infancy will need a specialist team to run and analyse its use. The best way to start embedding this technology is to know your goal and do the groundwork. What is the desired outcome of using AI systems in your business and how are you going to integrate the co-bot into the company culture?

In a report Onyx Media and Communications wrote for their client BPS World last year they mentioned that in recruitment the use of automation software is becoming vital in order to “standardise, reduce paper and harvest valuable data,” but recruitment is not the only business that can benefit from automation software.

The success of Robotic Process Automation has been proven in many business sectors including the financial services. Thoughtonomy reported in their White Paper, ‘How to implement intelligent automation’ that RPA saw a 12x reduction in FTEs, 10% faster execution and a $1.5m projected annual saving on their financial services case study.

 

The future is here, and businesses need to get on the band wagon!

 

 

 

 

Sweat and endorphins

Now, I have never been what you would call a ‘gym bunny’ but I used to frequent those rooms of sweat and endorphins on a regular basis.

After I got married that all stopped and I disgracefully put on two stone over two years, which was atrocious for my self-esteem. I guess that’s what happens when you get happy.

In December 2018, I decided to get off my gluteus maximus and start exercising again. I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions so my timing was considered with the hope that as this wasn’t a resolution I would carry on past March. It’s also cheaper in December!

I’m still kicking myself for what happened during my first month. I decided to have a one-off personal training session.

“What do you want to achieve?”

“Like most people, I want to shift some weight.”

And just like that my personal trainer wrote up an intense, interval training course designed to bring my heart rate up in short bursts. He assured me it would work and my somewhat unrealistic goal of losing two stone by March seemed promising.

Having done a lot of exercise before, I was well aware that stretching is essential before pushing forward with hard core interval training. Did I follow my experience? No, no I didn’t. My impatience is a character fault that many of my friends take the mick out of me for and this time my lack of patience was to my detriment. So excited to get on with my new interval training regime I skipped the morning yoga, positioned myself on the rowing machine and proceeded to hammer my legs until I pulled my hamstring. Two sessions is all it took and, three months later, it still hurts to walk.

I didn’t want to stop completely and when I’ve had this injury before I’ve found that light exercise can help. I’m not saying you should exercise on an injury so please don’t follow suit. I gave up the battle ropes, medicine balls, ski machine and rowing machine, and took to the cross trainer and bike instead.

It’s working. The weight is irritatingly taking a long time to shift but I am much fitter, feel healthier and my new routine is helping me sleep. My teen akin skin is getting better too and I’m generally happier. I now make sure to fit yoga in before I trot off and that stretches out my muscles and my mind.

What I like about my gym is that it’s not an intimidating place. No one looks at each other, I think out of respect rather than wretchedness. Some of the staff are friendly, my PT appears decidedly miserable, but he’s a one off and I find it easy once stepping in to lock into my tunes and ignore the world for a while.

They say it takes 21 days to develop a new habit and I’ve passed that mark so am hopeful I’ll keep it up.

So, what’s better? Interval training or continuous cardio? Well it depends entirely on what you want to achieve, your fitness level and what you enjoy – if I didn’t enjoy the gym there is no way I’d be able to keep it up. Of course, it also depends on whether you have any injuries…

If you want to lose weight fast, then interval training is the one. By increasing your heart rate in short bursts, bringing it back down then hitting the cardio again, the weight drops off. However, I prefer my meditative time on the cross trainer. Music in my ears, I try and move to the beat – this is an answer to the somewhat unkind comment my husband made about my lack of rhythm. For a musician, the slur was devastating.

I’ll continue my light training until I heal up and be very careful of the interval training in future.

To all my fellow gymans take care on that rowing machine!

Spark a debate on the radio – go on, I dare you

Some of our best shows are the ones that contain controversy. When listeners get involved in the conversation and specifically when they disagree with us, it makes for interesting radio where everyone learns something.

Different angles around a topic can be discovered and new information is presented. The hard part, the part I actually really enjoy, is deciphering the right way to present a disagreement. The worst thing you can do is ignore that listener who has taken the time to text in their views.

The one-sided nature of being on the radio means you ultimately have the voice and control over the discussion. That comes with responsibility. The listeners are often silent partners but as a DJ and presenter you want your silent partners to speak up and get involved – we shout the text line out multiple times during a show and are often surprised by which topics get the people talking. As a DJ you have a responsibility to represent your listener’s views as the listeners intend them to be represented. If you’re not sure what the listener means by a text, ask them to clarify before making assumptions that could aggravate them. It is also important to note that no opinion is wrong, and you shouldn’t present it as right or wrong. It’s all a matter of perspective. From parliament, all the way down, the art of debate is being lost. We may say things that are wrong factually or wrong in other’s eyes but that doesn’t define them and doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be heard.

You have to be respectful but also, if you’ve done your research, it is OK to stand your ground. If you have presented facts that a listener disputes, reassure them of the source and make it clear that these are facts, not your own opinion. When you do present research to back up a point make sure it’s solid and from a good source. Don’t go shouting off statistics you’ve seen on Facebook – that really is a recipe for disaster. McKinsey reports are a good source.

On Kane FM, amongst the music, only 25% of the show should be chat, but that 25% is the perfect opportunity to spark a debate and get the listeners involved. Talk to your listeners as if you are speaking to individual people and invite them to join in. Obviously getting them to join in is easier said than done which is why your topics are so important. Pick issues in the news agenda but be careful, political discussions are not aligned with the ‘Kane way’ and you might be mistaken for presenting the political standpoint of the whole station, which could be a huge mistake and ultimately lose you your show.

We avoid politics completely. Mostly because it’s the Wake Up Happy Show and politics, particularly at the moment, is not a happy topic! But the other reason is that we really don’t know enough about politics to make up our own minds, never mind broadcast them articulately. Which brings me on to my next point…

Know your topic. Don’t talk about things you don’t know about. We’ve slipped up here a few times and the listeners can clock a fraud instantly. If you want to talk about something you don’t know much about, get an expert in and interview them. It’s good to shake things up a bit and get new people on your shows. Plus, you’ll learn about the subject so can go back to it at a later date.

Some subjects are timeless and you can return to them. There are also calendar events you can lock onto to incite topical discussions. International Women’s Day and mental health month are good examples and show you to be up to date with what’s happening in the world, giving you credibility.

Most importantly, respect each individual listener, stay calm and don’t get offended by opposing views. And if you do, for god’s sake don’t show it. It comes across as very unprofessional.

Well that’s it for now. Good luck sparking those debates kids!