Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Tipping Point

What kind of technology adopter are you?

Are you an early adopter? Need to get the latest and greatest? Are you even more at the forefront and need to be on the bleeding edge of all new technology?

Or maybe you are of the opposite persuasion. Maybe you take on technology at a slower pace. Maybe you wait to see how things work and then adopt them. Or you adopt only selectively. Perhaps you are even a Luddite and look to reject technology.

I am a tipping point adopter. What you ask is that? Well, you know what a tipping point is right? It is when something dramatic appears to happen out of the blue. But when analyzed you realize that forces have been building up for a long time until finally something big happens...the tipping point.

That is the way I am with technology (and I think with change in general). For a long time, I will determine that I really don't need something...that whatever is the status quo is fine. But underneath, subconsciously forces are building up until finally, we reach a tipping point. At which not only to I adopt the new technology but become a raving new convert for the technology.

A case in point - my new hearing aids.

I got my first pair of hearing aids about six and a half years ago. I had resisted but was having such problems functioning that based upon a great testimonial from a brother-in-law, I went and got them. It was life-changing. Over the years, however, they had become less effective. I thought I should go and have them adjusted but never got around to it. I was gradually slipping into a situation where I was again hearing and understanding less and less. Finally a couple of weeks ago, one of them stopped working altogether.

I went back to Costco (where I got them originally - great deals by the way...great deals). They looked at them and said they were at the end of their effective life and in fact couldn't get the part needed to fix it anymore. So I would be forced to buy a new pair.

Well, technology has advanced and the new pair is incredible. In fact, they are taking getting some used to because now just the sound of putting my pants on is really noticeable. But the coolest feature is that they pair with my smartphone! That means I can do all my phone calls using my hearing aids for both hearing and speaking. And they work the same for all audio-related apps so they work for my WhatsApp video calls and any music or other media I have on my phone.  And the controller for volume and function (normal and in noisy areas) are through the phone app as well as eliminating a separate device I had carry before. Plus the noise filtering for noisy environments is way better.

So I am happy as a clam enjoying my new technology...now that I have tipped over and actually adopted it.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

de-I...Travel Arranging Wizard

For those of a certain age, you should be running The Who's 'Pinball Wizard' as the soundtrack in the background.

It has been a while since Wife and I did a real, honest-to-goodness, break the bank, personal travel extravaganza. But we both felt the need to do something despite the pulls of the Theodora Project and Wife's focus on working out to maintain her physical well-being.  I think I have mentioned, we based the current trip on finally getting Wife to Ghana. So we are flying there first where we will spend almost two weeks hosted by my partner and his Wife who have just relocated there. There will be a lot of just sightseeing...learning about the county...but also Wife meeting many of the people who have become such a part of my life there. And there will be a bit of work on the project as well.

Then we are headed to Berlin where we will be hosting two grandchildren - 2.2. and 2.3  - whom we hardly ever get any alone time with. But we had about 8 days in between Ghana and Germany that we had to kill. Plus we are heading to southern Turkey to meet up with #2 and 2B for a few days R&R. We ended up deciding to go to Poland. With the flying to and from Ghana which is difficult logistically and financially, trying to make the other parts of the trip work without awkward flight times and high prices was proving challenging.

But somehow today, I was able to sit down and make an itinerary really work for us.

First, we had to get to Warsaw, Poland. Because of our flight out of Accra, Ghana is a red-eye, it seemed that we would have a long, long layover in Istanbul. But when I went to make our reservation, there was a flight only two hours after our scheduled arrival. At first, I was thinking this would not work because it was going to be a separate reservation and would require us to get our luggage and recheck-in. But I decided to chance to call the airline and they were able to make it work with a coach ticket that was no more than I would have normally spent on the flight booking it individually. So great, now I have it as a connection with our luggage checked through. Perfect.

The next challenge was getting from Berlin to Antalya, Turkey. All the options were connections. It looked like we either had to get up very early or get in later than we wanted. I have been using a number of search engines for air travel but had gotten away from Kayak. I went back to them and found a direct flight on an airline that looked like it was a fly-by-night but was, in fact, a joint venture of Turkish and Lufthansa.  We saved a bunch of money and flight time and have almost the perfect departure and arrival times.

I had one more leg from Antalya to Istanbul to book but that was fairly straightforward. In the end, we saved almost $500 over what we originally estimated. AND have a much better set of flights from a standpoint of body wear and tear.

I would take a victory lap. But I think I will take a nap instead!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Dead And Buried

All kinds of little things are happening that demonstrate the momentum that is building behind this crazy thing that has become the Theodora Project. I really have to pinch myself when I think that I went to Ghana for the first time just 11 months ago with only the vaguest of clues as to what I hoped to achieve and now I am sitting with a not-for-profit company, funding, successful initial tests, increasing participation from key knowledge and influence sources, etc.

Most of you who have followed my blog for a long time know that I have a fairly heavy-duty spiritual side to me. If this whole Ghana/Theodora thing doesn't reinforce that, I don't know what does. Because I feel the project is pulling me along rather than me pushing it. I feel there is a bigger hand at work and I am just the glove over the hand.

Today one of the women that I am getting started doing some work got her first cash payment for doing virtual assistant work - $100. It doesn't sound like a lot does it. But it is about 25% of what is needed per month to live here. She was beaming.

And if you want to know what really gets me pumped about moving this program forward, let me tell you about a conversation I had with my leading proof-of-concept project who we will just call M.

M was the first one I met and convinced me by things she was doing for herself that these women whose circumstances led to sex trade, had the potential to do much more. I have been feeding projects and work to her and she has been growing with each one. She got a major piece of work from a former escort client who also saw the potential in her and has her doing outbound telemarketing to acquire IT and Telecommunications equipment. Seriously. I also greatly expanded the work I am having her do for me. She is handling setting up all my appointments for my coming trip in February. I suspect between these two jobs she is making $400 to $600 a month now...real money here in Ghana.

She had told me a couple of weeks ago that she had deleted all her escort internet advertisements. I had sent her to check out the offices of a pretty high ranking business person/Rotary member who is aware of Theodora. She was relating to me that she felt very comfortable in the meeting and was marveling at how far she had come in six-months.

I said to her, "So M, it sounds like M the Escort is dead."

Her reply was "Yup dead and buried".

It was hard for me to not cry.

Once success at a time. That's all it takes. One at a time.

Monday, January 20, 2020

This Is How Planets Are Made

My partner in Chicago always gives me a raft of shit for using obscure analogies that no one else gets. But I am incorrigible.

Do you know how planets come into being? No, I thought not. Though I am sure that #3, 3A and probably 3.1 and 3.2 know as they are certified, science geeks.

What happens is you have a big cloud of dust. The bigger pieces within the cloud have slightly more gravity and attract other pieces. This continues with the bigger pieces attracting and incorporating the smaller pieces. Until such time as you have a fairly large body which now attracts more and more of the smaller bits until such time as you have a planet.

This is what seems to be happening with our Theodora project. We keep attracting piece by piece. By themselves, each piece doesn't seem like that much. But as they keep accreting, the project starts becoming more and more real. In the last two weeks we have:
  • Received commitments for another $5K that will allow us to open our doors in the 2nd quarter
  • Gotten two former partners of mine to agree to help to put in place a new business onboarding process
  • Another business contact who will help train our people in how to build low-end websites and do basic social media marketing support
So much more to do. But so much more achievable than just months ago.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Transition Observation - Work Joy

Since being back for our vacation, I have been full bore into work...i.e. the stuff they pay me money for. I had one client when we were trying to schedule some additional meetings that the workload I seemed to be carrying did not make 'retirement' look all that attractive. I had to remind him that I am traveling out-of-the-country around 40% of the time. So even with my reduced workload (I have mentioned that I only work about a third as much as I did when I was working full time), that means the times I am in New Mexico and working will be busy.

What I did not tell him about was the Joy.

I have realized that that I have gotten so good at screening my new jobs and only getting those clients and work that I really love that virtually each business meeting I am in is a real pleasure. Pleasure from practicing your craft well. Pleasure for seeing the clients moving toward achieving their goals. There is a level of 'work satisfaction' that I never really experienced during all the years I worked full-time because to get the income I needed, I had to take on work that I didn't necessarily love and clients that may not have been the best fit.

So as I told the client who made the comment on how hard I was working, "Transition is not about going from working to not working. It is about going from a space of stress and worry to a place of pleasure and joy." That might not look to an outsider like a big change. But it is.

Friday, January 3, 2020

European Winter Escapade 2019 - Part Eleven - Tromso Photos

Even though we were north of the Arctic Circle and it was dark virtually the whole day, that didn't stop us from taking pictures!
Is it 9 in the morning or 4 in the afternoon?
It all looked the same

I did NOT try these!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

European Winter Escapade 2019 - Part Ten - A Finale Falls Flat

We finally did get out on our Northern Lights tour. And since I am writing this in the airline lounge in Salt Lake City waiting for our last flight home, I am not going to be as verbose as I was going to.

Here is it in a nutshell. The Northern Lights, seen with the naked eye, look a lot different than they do when one takes a picture of them. All those colors? They are just sort of grey. Unless you are extremely lucky to get the lights on a particularly spectacular day. Of those on our tour, about 2/3rds were photographers. They actually had a pretty good time. Our guide was quite attentive in getting them the shots they needed and helping them adjust. Most of them were happily shooting away for hours.

Those of us who didn't have cameras or weren't into that kind of photography pretty much were done after about 30 minutes. Fortunately, it wasn't horribly cold. But still, after about an hour, that 1/3rd of us were huddling by a fire the guide had built trying to stay warm and amuse ourselves. Finally, even all but two of the photographers were done and we had to wait another long-time before the guide thought we'd got our money's worth and would take us back to the van. Oh and I fail to mention that we went down this steep snow-covered bank to the waterside for the final pictures that were really challenging to our balance. Going up at the end was worse.

I am not quite sure how the whole 'Northern Lights Tourism Industry' has kept this information that most of what you see with your eyes is not what is seen in a photograph so quiet. We certainly did not run into that information as we did our research. I think the thing that really put an exclamation point on the experience was a conversation we had with your Somali immigrant cab driver back to the airport. Asked if he had ever seen colored Northern Lights. He extolled about an amazing experience where the whole sky and the town itself were green from the lights...once...in 8 years!

We were back at the hotel at 1 AM so were able to get a bit of sleep before we took off the next morning. A final Norwegian insult...I had currency I wanted to change into dollars. There is no currency exchange at the airport. This is a small but busy airport with lots of foreign visitors coming in. One would think a currency exchange would be practical. There were machines for changing currency but they only took one size of bill...not the size I had.

We flew to Paris where we stayed the night before returning today. At the airport hotel, we had a very acceptable meal with appetizer, two mains, four drinks and two desserts for half of what we had paid in Tromso. And it tasted good.

Put Norway on the list of places we will not be going back to.