The Closing of 2008

Just a quick final post for the year.

Firstly wishing all my readers a great break and a fantastic new year, be safe and make sure you spend time with your family.

Now to look back on 2008.

  • The year started with a bang working fulltime as Senior Project Manager for Nortel looking after Corporate Systems for Asia Pacific. For followers on Twitter they would have seen my crazy tweets working until 2am and then starting again 5am.
  • By June I was out on my own and had set up Inspecht, with far more control over my hours, but a lot less money
  • The blog & Inspecht both have traffic around 9,000 visitors a month, compared with around 3,000 a year ago
  • I became PRINCE2 certified, as well as Certified in the Principles of Change Management
  • As part of my work on Inspecht
  • Finally created the HR Futures Conference which will be held in Feb 2009

Overall a successful year.

Self Management & Inspecht Update

The last month to 6 weeks has been very busy, but I have to say I have not made a lot of progress in many different areas. Before we get to the challenges let me review the positive things from the last month.

  • I started attending Jelly in Melbourne and have met some great folks.
  • We went to Sydney for Web Directions South 2008.
  • I spoke at a user group for EmployeeConnect.
  • Sat on a panel for the NSW KM Forum.
  • Meet with several people around possible work opportunities.
  • Helped organise the Melbourne Twitter community’s Talk Like a Pirate Day party & another MTUB meetup.
  • Helped organise and attended Startup Camp Melbourne.
  • Started a wild idea of mine Blue Day 2008.
  • Wrote several blog posts that have focused my thoughts in some new areas.
  • Read several books on business development and social media.
  • Attended the AHRI HR Leadership Day.
  • Begun discussions with some peers on a new project that we can’t talk about at this stage ;-).
Now the challenges.
  • Being a solo operator for the last 6 months and having spent the 6 months previous working from home full time motivation can be an issue some days. The last month has been full of days like that.
  • I have not completed a GTD weekly review, at all.
  • Inbox is no where near zero.
  • I have not finished several documents and presentations that I set as goals for September.
  • To be honest I have no billable work between now and the end of the year, which is a concern.
  • My hosting provider and I have had a falling out meaning I spent most of last week starting to move the dozen or so sites I have onto a brand new dedicated server. While the performance has improved this process is costing me time and money. 
  • I have spent a lot of time writing code on several personal projects that don’t pay any money. While I enjoy the writing of code, you can’t pay the bills with it.
Next steps.
  • Complete a full weekly review, my major task of today.
  • Review my value proposition of Inspecht as I have noticed the message is not clear when selling my services.
  • Update the Inspecht web site with these revised service messages.
  • Finish the outstanding documents from September.
  • Focus on my GTD next actions so I don’t get lost again.

Poverty & depression

While today is Blue Day 2008, where the Australian tech & social media community are raising the awareness of depression & anxiety, we need to remember that we still live in a privileged part of the world. Most of us will never experience poverty in the real sense such as the way people in Darfur are at the moment. Unfortunately this does not mean people don’t experience poverty in Australia, in fact people can end up on the poverty line, or even below it, as an outcome of depression.

Remember over 1 million Australia adults and 100,000 youth live with depression each year, on average, 20% of people will experience depression at least once in their life; 1 in 4 females and 1 in 6 males. While experiencing depression many people are unable to function within what we casually call normal society, sometimes they end up without any means of financially support themselves or their family.

The inability to financially support oneself can result in them living in poverty. Not only that, these people can be living next door to you, not a faceless individual in another country. Poverty and depression together can create are terrible cycle with one feeding off the other and can send an otherwise intelligent & well functioning person over the edge.

This leads me to Blog Action Day and Learn About Poverty.

Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.

This year Blog Action Day is focusing on poverty, which brings me to Learn About Poverty a blog where World Vision has brought together their resources for Blog Action Day.

To help generate excitement for Blog Action Day, World Vision and several other Australian organisations are running a competition to encourage more people to post about poverty. So I encourage you all once you have written you post on depression, pull one together for poverty.

Blue Day 2008

WARNING: A personal post.

Just over a month ago I came up with a wild idea to  do something to raise the awareness of depression and anxiety for Beyond Blue’s ADA month. How easy and simple things sound typing in the isolation of ones own computer!

But before I look forward at what has taken place, let’s look back to my story.

I have suffered on and off from depression for probably the best part of 10 years, however as I learn more about the “black dog” I feel I have had him around me for the better part of half my life.

The black dog took over my life several times in the last 8 years, but at two very clear times. First when I felt trapped in a job I did not enjoy but felt I was unable to leave due to financial committments to my family. Secondly after my marriage breakdown. Sometimes he was there for a day or two but other times for what seemed like weeks on end! Everything was black, and too much.

I am lucky as unlike so many others who have attempted suicide my issues never got to that point, although I will admit that the thought did cross my mind a few times. Unfortunately I have known too many people who have crossed the line.

As I said I was lucky.

But still depression made me not want to get out of bed, reduced my effectiveness in the workplace, become irritated with the ones you love, disconnect from society, I would lose interest in the things that gave me enjoyment. Basically you become a shell of a human being. Not something to wish on anyone.

One of the big issues was pointed out by Cameron Reilly on Twitter a couple of days ago:

the problem is that when you’re in a deep depression your brain ain’t working right, so you CAN’T ask for help

I feel another issue stopping people from asking for help is the perceived stigma attached to depression and anxeity that people are affraid to talk about it openly for fear of the consequences. To this I say BULL SHIT! The best thing you can do is talk about it, even better seek professional help.

Eventually I decided to seek help, and over the last 9 months have been making significant progress in taking control of the “black dog”.

Now forward to Blue Day 2008!

I registered a domain name http://blueday2008.org and over the last few weeks started a fairly low level advertising of the activity. Not really sure what to expect. I mean I felt a few of my close friends would get involved.

But.

Right now when I look across my social network I see a sea of blue.

There are blog posts being written all over the globe, avatars are changing, people are coming together to acknowledge the issues, and the most amazingly people are openly discussing the issues on Twitter. I have received Twitter replies, direct messages, emails and blog links from all over the place showing support.

The Twitter aspect is to me the most interesting as most of these people have public Twitter profiles which mean everything said will be collected by the Googlebot and be available for others to read.

One last comment. If you are suffering, even if you don’t think you have depression but are just down, reach out and talk to someone. If you are in Australia and in need of urgent help contact Beyond Blue, in other countries reach out and contact your local support groups before it is too late.

Blue Day 2008

We are two days away from Blue Day 2008! What is Blue Day?

Well it is a day to recognise depression and anxiety within society.

So what can you do to get involved?

  • Write a blog post about depression or anxiety, personal insights would be great
  • Produce a podcast about depression or anxiety, as with the blog posts personal insights help
  • If you don’t have a blog of a podcast, register on this site and submit a post that will appear on the Submitted Posts page.
  • Change your avatars on your favourite social networking site Twitter/Facebook/FriendFeed/etc to something blue, download one of our pre-built ones
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Modify your blog theme to be mainly blue
  • Run a Second Life event, or attend the jokaydia event
  • Wear blue for the day
  • Organising a meet ups on the day, currently organised:
  • Sydney – Oct 10 from around 5pm, will be a STUB event and part of Official Friday Drinks at Grace77Bar on the Mezzanine level, cnr King and York
  • Adelaide – details TBD
  • Brisbane – details TBD
  • Perth – Oct 10 from 7pm at Queens Hotel – 520 Beaufort Street, Highgate
  • Canberra – Oct 10, 2008 from 12:00pm – 1:00pm Verve Cafe/Bar
  • Tag your photos/posts/tweets with BlueDay2008
  • Become a fan on FaceBook
  • If you want to join in it is not too late head over to http://blueday2008.org & grab a avatar, join in on Second Life, write a blog post, or attend a Blue Day meet up.

    October is Anxiety and Depression Awareness Month

    Yesterday afternoon I received an email from Beyond Blue an Australian not-for-profit that works to help people with depression and anxiety announcing that October was Anxiety and Depression Awareness month. The email was calling for people and organisations to get involved in raising awareness of anxiety and depression and help reduce the associated stigma. Now this is a major issue, just look at the impacts in the workplace costing around $4.3 billion in lost productivity!

    Given I have suffered from depression on and off for several years I figured it was time to get involved and help out. So I put out a call on Twitter last night for some interest from Australian Twitter users and got several replies and Direct Messages, here are just a few:

    Alegrya @mspecht add me to the list too, I’d love to get a STUB happening to raise awareness about 11 hours ago from twhirl in reply to mspecht

    jyesmith @mspecht i would love to help out with beyondblue. about 11 hours ago from twhirl in reply to mspecht

    limburger @mspecht count me in…but no ideas as to what yet. about 12 hours ago from m.slandr.net in reply to mspecht

    stilgherrian @mspecht Count me in for doing SOMETHING for Anxiety & Depression Awareness Month. Rather important. about 13 hours ago from web in reply to mspecht

    dnwallace @mspecht count me in about 13 hours ago from twhirl in reply to mspecht

    jjprojects @mspecht Participating in Beyond Blue’s ADA month sounds like a great idea. about 13 hours ago

    lozzz @mspecht I would. about 13 hours ago from web in reply to mspecht

    Over the last year or so there have been several meme’s that have floated around Twitter, resulting in the changing of avatars to bring attention to a cause. In addition there is the concept of blog action day’s where a number of bloggers all blog about the same topic on the same day, BTW the next one is October 15 about poverty. So how about we look at combining the concepts?

    It seems that October 10 is World Mental Health which gives us a focal point, so here are my ideas for October 10:

    • We change our avatars on Twitter to something blue, maybe look at creating a set for people to download so it is easy.
    • Write a blog post about depression or anxiety, a personal insight would make the best reading.
    • Look at organising some meet ups on the day, and wear something blue.

    Next step is to get this organised.

    Update: If you are interested in getting involved leave me a comment or drop me an email.

    Back on deck, well sort of…

    After the week away in the snow we returned late last night following a 9.5 hour door to door travel activity. Returning to a pile of unopened mail, close to 300 emails to process, ie the ones you can’t just delete, a few phone calls, 1000’s of RSS items not to mention the unpacking, washing, cleaning etc.

    The plan is to try and get back on top of things today, being Monday, do 2 days of work then attend another 2 day course on PRINCE2 to complete my practitioner  exam on Friday afternoon.

    Regular blogging of interesting content will return soon.

    Away for a week

    Regular readers will know that I disappear once a year for about 9 days to go on the annual ski trip, I am heading off today to Charlotte Pass for a few days of skiing and R&R. However this year is a little different in many ways.

    Firstly given my personal life changes it will be strange, but also having setup Inspecht I will now have to work a bit while away, and finally I have to study for my final PRINCE2 exam. Previously I have tried to keep work completely separated from the holiday but given I now work for myself I don’t have that luxury I also have to pay for the trip somehow.

    So while I am away, be good, have fun and when I return I will get back into a regular posting schedule. You might also want to check out The Scoop podcast early next week as we recorded a follow on to Generation V.

    Inspecht is live & other interesting news

    Another quick business update.

    After a week of getting logos and the like completed the site for my new venture is up and running. Where can it be found? http://inspecht.com.au, http://inspecht.com, http://in.specht.com.au and finally http://specht.com.au also redirects there as well. Right now the site is very basic and more just to get some content out there for people to refer to. More information will be released over the next couple of weeks.

    General business activities are being finalised, such as bank account establishment, legal aspects, etc. I am still meeting a lot of people but these meetings have moved from general discussions to more “how can we do business” which is great given this should eventually lead to income.

    The discussions are confirming my thoughts; Enterprise 2.0 is a big topic in Australian corporations, but very few people can articulate the business value. Management is still very concerned about employee engagement, becoming an employer of choice and where are they going to find talent. Finally there is still a lot of fear in the market about social networks, this is not helped by the continual “bad press” they get from the media.

    To help support my activities over the next couple of months I will be completing both PRINCE2 and Change Management certification. I was about 50% of the way through PMI’s PMP certification before finishing at Nortel so moving to PRINCE2 will be interesting.

    June 23rd is a big day!

    Today is a big day!

    My final official day of employment with Nortel, which means my noticed period started 1 month ago. At 10:30am I meet with HR to hand back all of the “corporate items” and move on.

    It is 4 years since I wrote my first blog post. That is 1,460 days worth of blogging, generating 1,138 posts with 2,069 comments.

    Finally today is PubCamp Melbourne, where I have decided to led a discussion entitled:

    A discussion on how Enterprise 2.0 can drive an organisations revenue and stock price. A look at the relationship between Enterprise 2.0, employees and an improved bottom line.

    I plan to have a quick presentation at the PubCamp session and then open it up for discussion. Going to cover areas of employee engagement, the current research to show a relationship to positive financial returns and other areas for Enterprise 2.0 to deliver hard dollar savings.