An Epiphany: Yes I do have time … if I choose to

I have gone through a particularly busy period both at work and personally and have found myself uttering the words “I just don’t have the time” with some regularity.

As anyone who follows my twitter feed (@shumpty77) will know: I read a lot of articles or blogs focused on improving productivity and work life balance.  I figure that there is no advice in this area that is wrong because of the breadth of the subject matter and, frankly, any tips is a good tip.

I was out walking last night (it is the festive season and my weight inevitably balloons during this period so I am trying to make a preemptive strike against that) when a thought struck me.  Mentally, I had been running through everything I had to get done today: both from a work perspective and a personal perspective.  Thinking negativity I was lamenting to myself that “there just aren’t enough hours in the day” when the thought that struck me was this: life is about personal choices and thus everything that I have on my list of things to do is there because I have chosen it to be there.  Therefore I have two choices, either:

  1. Accept that I have put myself in the position of having too much to do and stop whining about; or
  2. Reconsider my personal choices and match those choices with the time available to me.

In the short term, because I have myself loaded up my “to do” list I have to accept that I am just going to have to get through everything and stop whining about it.

in the long term though, my epiphany has led me to realize that, really, I should never be in a position where I utter the words “I just don’t have the time” because ultimately, and fundamentally, I chose that which I commit to doing both from a work and personal perspective.  The only person at fault if I become over-stretched for time is myself.

I am going to focus moving forward on avoiding getting to that position because, effectively, to be there means that I am over promising and under delivering to those who rely on me both at work or personally and I find that utterly unacceptable.

Forensic Friday

As some of you will be aware, from my twitter feed (@shumpty77) I have recently transitioned into a new role working in forensic accounting.  Having previously trained as a lawyer and specialised in litigation as well as risk management and insolvency this move presents a natural fit for my long experience in professional services.

One thing that has struck me since I have been “in the chair” is that almost everyone I talk to, in a non work context, are intrigued by what I do however they do not really understand what working in forensic accounting actually means.

That realization got me thinking about presenting a series of blogs on all things forensic (accounting) and thus Forensic Friday is born.

Every Friday I will be posting a blog about an aspect of forensic accounting from topics as diverse as “how to ask questions?” through the dark arts of computer forensics.  I hope these posts are of interest to anyone who want to know a little bit more about what forensic accounts do.

To get things off to a start: I thought I would answer my nephew’s (Tom aged 10) questions about my job.  No I am not a police officer now and I don’t get a set of handcuffs.  No I do not get to interview witnesses in a “special room” (the old one way glass type room).

I look forward to sharing a bit of my job with you in this forum. Now, in the words of Mick Molloy in the excellent “Crackerjack” … “get that sh*t down to Forensic!”.

Postscript: Just for the avoidance of doubt and get the legal stuff out-of-the-way, these blogs are my own work and are not published with any oversight or approval of my employer.  All thoughts, comments and opinions are solely my own.

The Bearded Man: Celebrating the 5 greatest bearded men in history

Yesterday I wrote about being a bearded man: bizarrely that post was the most read post of the last week on this blog.  That being the case I thought some more about what I have termed the “Art of Beardage” and I thought what better way to celebrate said art than to count down the 5 greatest bearded men, as well as focus on other issues for bearded men, this week. 

The 5 bearded men that I have chosen have been chosen by me entirely based on my own opinion and based on the expanse of my own personal knowledge.  I am have no doubt that I have missed some great blokes who have had been bearded.  If you can think of any guys I have missed or that you would include in your own list of great bearded blokes then join the conversation in the comments section or tweet me (@shumpty77).

Social Media and Employment: Following the KISS principle

I often hear about holders of social media accounts preparing and drafting posts to said account that ultimately are deleterious to their employment status or social standing.  Just often as I read about errors in posting leading to the end of or severe restriction to one employment I shake my head at the stupid of those who find themselves in that position.

To me it is pretty simple: when posting to ones social media accounts really one should just “Keep It Simple Stupid”.  Obviously that bald statement requires expansion.  So here are my 5 keys to avoiding a social media stuff up that could lead to the end of your employment or a lowering of your social flag on the mast of life:

1. Who can read what you are saying? 

This is the simplest one of all: unless you have a very tightly held social media account to which you restrict access to only those who you allow to see what you write you need work on the presumption that EVERYONE can see what you are posting.  Thus: when you post something are you happy with the whole world having access to that post? If not: should you posting it?

2. If it is confidential or proprietary or likely to embarrass your employer or client = DANGER

To me this is often the area that astonishes me: I work in professional services and we spend a lot time talking to our staff about confidentiality, particularly, and often use the example of being careful about what you say about your work in the lift.  Is not social media akin to the worlds biggest lift?  It is simple but this is where most make mistakes it would seem.  The solution is also simple: other than the most generic of terms, and unless the account is a business one, apply the “Fight Club” rule: “The First Rule of Social Media is that we don’t talk about work on Social Media.”

3. If you want to mix business and social media: get two accounts … it is not that hard

Again: this is one from the shaking one’s head department.  It is so easy in this day and age to create multiple social media accounts that a simple solution for those who want to talk about their work (again mindful of confidentiality and proprietary issues) is to create a “work account” and a “private account”.  Lock the private account and be vigilant with who you add and then post to which ever account you wish depending on the context.

4. Would you be happy with what you are posting appearing in an affidavit?

This is a very lawyerly one but it rests true.  If you are about to post something that even flirts with the line of inappropriate think to yourself” “Would I like to have to give evidence about this on oath.” Now you are probably scoffing as you read thinking about this concept but if you were to be involved in a dispute and your credit as a witness was a question in issue then I am certain a controversial tweet you sent could appear in the material. Do you really want that?

5. Should be obvious but social media is meant to be fun … so abuse is no on

It never ceases to amaze me what some people will so to each other behind the safety of their computer screens or smartphones.  To me an easy way to avoid making a social media mistake that relates to what you say about someone else is to apply this maxim: “Would I say this to the person I am abusing or wish to talk about to their face.” If the answer is no then you should probably not be posting it.

I am, of course, by no means an expert and, at times, I am sure I have let the emotion of an event (hello Canberra Raiders and Chicago Cubs in defeat) get away from me and I have tweeted / tumblred a post that I have regretted.  Life without regret is not a life lived in my view but I am sure that these simple thoughts could have saved those who in the past have made a mistake on social media and have lost their job or found themselves on the end of a reprimand.

These are my own thoughts: I would be delighted to hear from readers about what they think.  Email (shumpty77@mail.com), tweet (@shumpty77) or comment below if you want to get involved.

Happy posting to social media everyone: stay safe out there!

Domestic Cricket in Australia: time to look to England as the model?

I tweeted last night how impressed I was with the ECB after watching the draw for its 50 over competition in 2014. It got me thinking about the Australian domestic cricket set up and confirmed for me that a very real reason that cricket in this country is lagging behind the “old enemy” is the treatment presently being meted out to the domestic game by Cricket Australia.

We are all aware of the travesty that is the new Ryobi Cup competition for 2013. It has been made to be a 3 week carnival held all in the Sydney suburbs on non-first class grounds. We are all aware that Cricket Australia is chasing the dollars that comes from the Big Bash League. If you like hit and giggle cricket then you will love December and January in Australia. Finally, we are all aware that the Sheffield Shield competition is no longer a nursery for the next cricketers coming into the Australian set up. How could it be when the players in the test team do not deign to play in the competition? Or are not allowed to?

Something has to give with all of this: the reality is that Australia has become, in recent years, a second tier player in the international game across all forms. A thrashing in the Ashes, a thrashing in the Champions Trophy and being completely ineffectual in T20 are all the indications one needs to know that. I have already called for the head of James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia CEO, but it would seem that so long as the profits are rolling in no one at Cricket Australia Towers wants a bar of that. So what else then can be done?

Rather than filleting the domestic game in this country in favour of overseas tours that mean nothing and the BBL irrelevance, my proposal would see more domestic cricket being played rather than less. The ECB has set the benchmark for using its domestic competition to procure players ready for the top flight because they play more domestic cricket over there. That was Sam Robson’s reason for moving over there and, thinking about it in reverse, when was the last time an English domiciled cricketer played in Sheffield Shield? Graeme Hick for Queensland is the name that comes to mind.

The County Competition is played between the middle of April and the end of September and they manage to fit in 16 first class games within that span. All whilst (in 2013) fitting in 12 40 over games (to be 50 overs in 2014) and 10 T20 games. Conversely in 2014, Australia’s domestic cricketers will play a maximum (if not making the finals) of 10 first class games, 5 50 over games and 7 T20 games in a span that runs from October through March.

It is simple to say but it is striking just how little cricket is available to Australia’s domestic cricketers when compared to those plying their trade in England over a not dissimilar period of time. I know that historically cricket in this country has tried to wedge itself between the start and the end of the AFL and NRL seasons however, if that is the reason for Australia’s truncated number of domestic games, surely the English experience shows just what a fallacy that approach is. In England little care is given for the fact that Premier League Soccer has already started and still the domestic cricket season chugs away.

I, for one, see no reason why, noting the weather in Australia in September, the Australian domestic season could not start in September and hinge upon a Sheffield Shield program that runs for 15 games rather than 10. Now before I hear the mantra “that is too much cricket” consider this: even allowing for a 42 day carnival of irrelevance (BBL) a 24 week season window would still have 18 weeks in which to play proper (non carnival) cricket. In 18 weeks why shouldn’t professional cricketers be tested with playing 15 games of FC class cricket with an extra day of play tagged on for 50 over cricket?

We have the climate and the wickets to play more domestic cricket in this country. We also have the time to do so. An obvious flow on from playing more domestic cricket is the greater opportunities playing so much would present to those already in the Australian team to return to the Sheffield Shield and play for form or to nurture the next lot of talent coming through. All of this raises the question: why not play more domestic cricket? To that the only answer I have is that it costs money.

Historically cricketers in this country have made light of the County system and yet some of our best players continue to spend Australia’s winters in England playing the game and developing into test standard players. It was good enough for Messrs Chappell, Border, Waugh, Hayden, Langer and Hussey afterall. Now is the time to look at what is going well in English cricket and a big part of that seems to be the amount of cricket they play domesitcally.

Unfortunately, I am talking about a “perfect world” scenario here where the river of money flowing into Cricket Australia’s pockets is no impediment to the structure of the domestic game in this country. We all know that Cricket Australia will not do anything to effect its bottom line so this strategy will never see the light of day. How long though must Australia stay in the doldrums before the dollar is not the principal KPI to success? One can only hope it is not too long. Otherwise the current malaise over the game is going to last for a while longer me thinks.