What’s in a Student Pilot’s Bag?

I got curious and thought it might be interesting to share what’s in a student pilot’s bag. Here is what I found in my better-half’s bag (with his permission!), and at first glance it seems like a very normal bag. A water bottle, a pencil case, some books – nothing too interesting.

But I do like this particular contraption. As far as I can tell, it’s called a kneeboard. It straps to the pilot’s leg, so they have a little surface to work from.

Maps, pens and measuring tools all fit on the knee board. That big elastic strap can wrap around the pilot’s leg.

And here’s a map all marked up for a navigation flight. He uses sharpies and nail polish remover to mark up the laminated maps.

And on the side of the bag is a compartment for the headphones – very important tools for flying planes!

I love a good sticky beak into a bag.

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Baby Boom: How far we’ve come, or not

I saw Baby Boom, a 1987 film starring Diane Keaton, the other day, and I loved it (but yes, had to cringe through some bits). But I just had to share it with you, and how much I really wish it was a relic to our past work lives.

Firstly though, Diane Keaton (playing J.C. Wiatt) is my girl. Love, love, love her. Not so much love for shoulder pads though. RIP.

So have we really made some strides?

Okay, this scene is amazing – it’s J.C.’s boss hinting that she’s up for partnership, but that she’s going to have to make some sacrifices. And then he grills her on if she’s planning on getting married to her partner, because “what if he wants a wife?” And  then goes on to explain how he can have it all because he’s got a wife.

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How far have we come? We’ve come to the place where this is un-pc, but probably not unthought. And it’s certainly not unfelt by both of the sexes – just last night I was complaining about not having ‘a wife’ for myself. I mean, who doesn’t want free labour?!

And then Baby Boom! A baby arrives on the scene. The baby, Elizabeth, is so damn cute. But also reminds me of a baby James Corden.

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Alright, in this scene below, J.C. is doing some guilt shopping because she is seriously considering adopting out her surprise baby (from dead relatives). You know what is AMAZING about this scene? The toy store guy is totally goading on her guilt for his own benefit “You’ve done the right thing J.C. You’re going to be partner for Christ’s sake! Your career comes first.”

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How far have we come? Um…. not at all… Pretty sure most ads to mums prey on that guilt factor a lot of the time.

Next we have a heart breaker, when J.C. decides that she will keep Elizabeth, and her long-term partner tells that he “just, I can’t”. It’s a beautiful calm scene of two adults, who both knew what the price of admission was to their relationship, can understand that something has fundamentally shifted with a baby in the scene.

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And moving onto this scene where J.C. is getting used to the whole deal of working and being a mum. Shock! Horror! Her baby comes to work for one day! She assures her boss “I’m hiring a nanny tonight. She’ll never be in the office again.”

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How far have we come? Well thanks to technology, hopefully a lot of parents have options like working from home available to them, and when child care falls through, they have some flexibility. But no, it’s still a total mum-shamer to bring your kids to work.

M*therF!#@ker of a scene where J.C. is told she’s being taken of the big account that’s earning her partnership because “I mean, you’ve lost your concentration.” Then she’s told she’s going to be put on a dog food account so she’ll have “more time for her child” and when she looks like she’s been hit with a bus, she’s told “swallow your pride, J.C.” It’s brutal, but done by a boss who is caring for J.C.’s wellbeing, right?!

The news settles in for J.C. and she tells her boss “I can’t go out there now”, he replies “well you gotta do what you gotta do.” And just like that, J.C. is unemployed.

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How far have we come? Flexibility, job sharing, maternity leave… yay! Options! I think there has been some improvement, so that hopefully poor J.C. wouldn’t have to take a crap account or leave. But the fundamental attitude to employees who have to drop and run for a sick kid? I don’t think we’ve evolved past that yet.

Ok… so J.C. leaves (is forced out) her job, and decides to head to Vermont for a lovely country life with her baby. Except it’s not lovely. And she fast runs out of money because the charming country house is a lemon. And then she has a nervous breakdown, and screams at the poor plumber “I need to work!!!!” Amen sister.

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And what do you you know – J.C. becomes a mumpreneur after stumbling into a niche market for gourmet baby food.

Ohhhh yes, that’s right, because if you can’t stand the work world, the next best thing is to make your own job. Also, I love that her business is the 80’s equivalent to an internet company – it’s a catalogue business.

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How far have we come? What bummed me out about this story line, is that it’s such an unrealistic play out of what happens for mumpreneurs. J.C. has the killer advantage of being a management consultant before building her business, but not all people have that experience backing them. In fact, a lot of mumpreneurs are at serious risk of falling into poverty in retirement because their businesses don’t make enough to make retirement savings. I don’t think we’ve moved forward at all.

Anddddddd then J.C. gets an amazing buy out off, co-ordinated by those schmucks that she used to work for!!! BOOM! She strutted in that place like a gangsta!

(Also, I love the irony of how poorly she would have been treated if she just ‘swallowed her pride’ and took the dog food account.)

But J.C. decides not to take the million-dollar offer, because “I mean, I have a crib in my office, and a mobile over my desk, and I like that. Well I don’t wanna make those sacrifices. And the bottom line is nobody should have to.”

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How far have we come? Well I think there’s some movement in the fact that it’s not just a women’s issue now, and people are starting to talk more about how this affects men. But I don’t know about you, I look up that ladder and see those people working incredibly long hours, and think ‘no thank you’.

End of the story is that J.C. ends up going back to Vermont to live a lovely country life with her new veterinarian boyfriend. Good for her!

And now we can go back to our modern lives in 2016, with far less shoulder-paddage.

But is it really that different?!

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If the product sucks, is the work worth it?

The ad was so good that it launched the phrase “not happy Jan” in Australia but is it really that good if it was for the Yellow Pages and the internet has happened since?


I’m wondering if the work is really worth it if the product sucks? “Not happy Jan” is some brilliant work, but it didn’t stop the Yellow Pages from going extinct once the internet really got going. But here’s the thing, even after the product has died, the great work of this advertisement lives on… and on… and on.

See – just check out the hashtag #nothappyjan on Twitter – I bet only 1% of those people use the Yellow Pages, but long lives the phrase.

I think that often we can find ourselves working on things we may not really believe in, or can even see the writing on the wall for, and yet we still have the opportunity to make something fabulous. I often use the phrase ‘lipstick on a pig’, but hey, lipstick can be goddamn work of art.

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Social Media & HR – my speaking notes for a presentation

This is a short presentation I gave to a group of HR Professionals on why I use social media, the benefits, how to get over some stumbling blocks, and why I think everyone should just have a go!

Slide 2: I work in HR in my day job, and outside of that I’m quite active on Twitter and social media channels. I make weekly videos for AHRI where I talk about what’s happened in HR and social media for that week. So I guess you could say… I quite like social media and would happily advocate for it!

Slide 3: My story starts with me moving from Australia to Singapore in my first year out of uni. I found myself in a small HR team, and separated from my networks. Very soon I realised I was lacking mentors and networks, so I decided to seek it through an online network. I started writing a blog I called ‘Whipper Snapper HR’ and joined the HR community on Twitter.

Slide 4: Social media helped to build my subject matter confidence in talking about HR, and also in talking about social media. Social media connected me to incredible people and networks that have followed me wherever I’ve lived. It provides a constant stream of fresh ideas and challenges, it keeps me on my toes and out of a comfort zone in what I know about HR. And finally, it taught me great attitude lessons about generosity and the power of generosity with time, praise and feedback in building networks.

Slide 5: I think that social media has done some incredibly powerful things for me, and I could understand people feeling like they would need to aim for ‘fame’ if they dive into social media. But numbers aren’t everything – you don’t need huge numbers of followers and you don’t need to be connected to a huge number of people to be feeling the rewards of participating in the online HR community.

Slide 6: By dipping your toe into social media, be it participating in a Linkedin Group, or starting a podcast, I think this will help build your confidence in just having a go! It will connect you to great people who share common interests, and it will mean you have informed opinions about social media and how it can assist your organisation.

Slide 7: Here are a few of the reasons I think that HR people may have hesitations around social media.
Time – a few minutes a day count most. By keeping your streams full of people you know have valuable content, you will be able to tap into rich content in short amounts of time.
Confidentiality – you can join the HR community without talking cases, and if all else fails, pet pictures work! 

Where to start? – become a commenter. The 1% internet rule is that 90% of internet users ‘lurk’, 9% of internet users contribute and only 1% of internet users create content. So if you aren’t someone with a burning desire to be a content creator, the best place to start is just by contributing with comments, feedback, and shares.

Slide 8: There are so many formats in social media – and after a day at a computer I completely understand that reading more text on a computer screen isn’t always appealing. I really encourage having a play with formats that you would enjoy experimenting with, and just having a go!

Slide 9: Cringe moments will happen – things will be typed that just don’t translate – typos will go unnoticed… in my favourite Ted talk by Matt Smith, he talks about the physical manifestation of cringing, and how that affects our reaction to failure.

Slide 10: So it’s important to practice things like Failure Bows when you’re doing things like playing with social media… if you make a mistake, take a bow with a cheesy grin and arms up, like a trapeze artist would after making an error… it’s not the end of the world, and you don’t need to beat yourself up about it. It’s important to have a healthy attitude about failure and remember, everything moves so fast in social media, it will be forgotten in no time!

Slide 11: Your biggest asset when joining an online community is generosity. Be it through commenting, retweeting, sharing links to content in your blog, or just sharing well wishes – you can build up strong participation really easily. And you’ll also be regarded as a valuable part of the community that people recognise. It doesn’t have to be about being the best, the most famous, the funniest or the most widely read – and for me personally, that takes a lot of the pressure off, and I can just enjoy it for what it is: some great people I am really lucky to share with and learn from.

Slide 12: I think it’s important to come back to this point of remembering why you started when you get into things like social media – it’s about making relationships – not shouting out in to the world “listen to me!”

Slide 13: So my final thoughts, and how I sign off every week in my AHRI video on social media, “if you’re having fun (and it’s not at someone’s expense) then you’re doing it right!”

Slide 14: I hope I’ve given some reasons to have a go at trying out social media beyond the comfort zone of a resume on Linkedin and a Facebook profile… so if you’re keen to get started, I highly recommend this book by @HR_Gem and @TimScottHR – it’s right down to the nuts and bolts of starting out with social media and getting involved in the HR community. Awesome stuff!

Slide 15: This book helped me so much when I started up my blog Whipper Snapper HR – if you’re keen on creating content, I highly recommend this!

Slide 16:
And this book has great ideas on how to build your online portfolio, and how to share what you’re working on. It’s quirky and fun.

Best of luck – I hope you aim to try something new in social media and have some fun with it!

Btw, if you’re wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR – here‘s my explanation.

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The Importance of *expletive* Intermissions

It’s the Cabaret Festival in Adelaide, and last night we went along to support a friend’s show – you know one of those things where it’s probably not your cup of tea, but you want to see your people succeed. Well within the first 5 minutes, it was so NOT my cup of tea, I had checked out mentally and couldn’t make eye contact with the one-woman show. It was making me cringe, I didn’t want to be there, I was counting down the minutes until it ended.

And then 1hr 25min into the show, without a break, the one-woman show was singing an upbeat song supposedly from our shared childhoods (I’d never heard of it, and it would have been played on a radio station I would have switched off). And during the song, she spied little ol’ me and my absolute fascination with the zip on my purse. And she walked right to me and sang right to me and made eye contact right to me. And I made some godawful attempt at smiling back, but had murder in my eyes, because all I wanted was for the goddamn show to be over.

Sometimes people just don’t want to sing the same song you’re singing – sometimes folks would rather cut off their arms than sway a lighter to your tune. Last night I felt the most intense desire to be elsewhere and was totally trapped. There was no way I could fumble my way towards an exit without interrupting the entire performance. I didn’t know how to get out, I didn’t know when I could get out. It made me hate that goddamn show even more.

So if you’re suddenly singing a now song in your organisation, and you’re expecting employees to join the kumbaya circle, here are two things I learnt from last night:

1. Don’t bother with the folks who have checked out. Last night I was OUT, and I was not even remotely interested in being brought in. I was looking at my feet, my purse, people in the audience, the stage floor – anything but that horrible show. I even winced a few times at the songs… Could my body language have been any clearer? So when the one-woman show tried to pull me back in by singing at me, it was just a dumb waste of energy for both of us. She should have sung to someone who was loving it, and given them the show they were cheering for.

2. For the love of all things good, give people the path and the opportunity to exit. Last night I was praying for an intermission, but it never came. Imagine how much pain could have been prevented if I could have just left half way through? I’m pretty certain my bad energy was radiating throughout the place, and how unfortunate is that for an intimate cabaret setting? You would have wanted me out, I wanted to be out. Employees who are hating it want out. Show them the way out.

I suppose my conclusion from the ordeal is the importance of the flipside to change management. When you are creating change, and asking people to join in a new song and dance, it’s just as important to focus on those who have said “hell no” to it. There is a seriously slim chance they’re going to change their minds if they have honestly checked out. So leaders have got to be fair to them, and the rest of the team exposed to that ‘checked out’ energy, and give them an intermission. Inter-mission. You know, a checkpoint within the mission to let someone off the bus. Intermissions are really *expletive* important.

They’re also a great opportunity to get more delicious snacks, and I’m always heartily in favour of that.

Btw, if you’re wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR – here‘s my explanation.

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