Seven Years of the iPhone: hard to believe it hasn’t been longer

I was reading an interesting article the other day about the the fact that it was the seven year anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone and I confess that I was flabbergasted that it had only been that short a period of time. Afterall, the iPhone begat a number of other smartphones (I am looking at you Samsung), killed (effectively) the previously dominant smartphone brand (Blackberry) and has changed the way we live: all in a very, really, short period of time.

Reading the article last week left me to ponder two things:

1. How much my life has changed in the last seven years since the introduction of the iPhone; and
2. Whether those changes have been to the betterment of my life.

The iPhone, and by extension, the iPad has changed so much about the way I, and most others, live that I will only note the top 5 things that have changed in my life since 2007:

1. My days start more swiftly now: I start my day now by checking my iPhone. Actually scratch that, I start my day now by turning off the alarm that wakes on my iPhone and then I check emails, twitter and a couple of news websites before I get out of bed. In the pre-iPhone world I had a clock radio to raise me from slumber and after hitting the snooze button a couple of times I would get out of bed, shuffle to the lounge room and turn on the TV to start the information flow of my day.

2. How I receive news: I once was a newspaper reader, buying up to 3 papers a day most days. Now I can not remember the last time I purchased a newspaper because I read the news of the day either on my twitter feed or on the voluminous number of news aggregation apps I have on my iPhone and iPad.

3. How I place bets: One of my regular Saturday rituals used to be waking up early, doing the form for the coming day of racing and then walking down to my local TAB to place my bets for the day. Now I can place bets without leaving my house on the various betting apps on my iPhone / iPad. This ease of punting has extended to me not going to the race track anywhere near as much as I used to because it just easier to watch the races at home.

4. I follow much more sport now: I am a lover of all sports but before my iPhone / iPad I limited my support of sport to basically Australian sports (save for baseball which I have always been a fan of). Now it is so easy to follow sport world wide because every sporting code has its own app that feeds one news about the code, scores for each week and player movements. I have become much more knowledgeable about the sports that I follow because I access all of the information about each sport straight from my phone rather than having to search for it.

5. My work day is much longer: I often joke with some of my staff about how things are different for them now than when I started my career and the more I think about it the more I am certain that my working days are now longer than they were before smartphones came into my life. Before when you left work you simply left work and the next day would be the next time you would be called on to do anything. Now, with emails coming through to phones / tablets, we are constantly connected with our places of work and have to make a choice to either read the emails and respond or ignore them. I can not resist reading the emails as they come in which often means my working day extends long into the night.

Obviously there are a number of positives that have come from the changes that have arisen in the years post 2007: life is simply faster now and the flow of information, if you love news and sport like me, presents constant fodder for active minds. Equally, the constant connectivity with our places of work and the lack of down time that said connectivity leaves us with has changed my life, I am certain, for the worse. Being always contactable, coupled with suffering from anxiety, has lead to an unhealthy addiction to my devices that I am unsure I will ever break.

So in one way I am extremely thankful for the revolution that the iPhone’s introduction has begat, but I confess that I remain to be convinced that my life is a better because of it.

The Contact List Cull: Cathartic but with a surprising outcome

I mentioned on twitter yesterday evening that I was going spend some of my public holiday today going through my contact list on my phone and undertake a cull. I was scrolling through said list the other day urgently looking for a number (yes I know there is a search functionality in almost phone contact lists but I was scrolling nonetheless) and was surprised at just how many contacts I seemed to have in my phone. Now this is not an attempt by me to say “look at me, I am so cool that I have too many contacts”, indeed because I feel entirely the opposite about myself (which I am entirely happy with by the way), rather it inspired me to actually go through my contact list and remove contacts that are were either outdated, people I actually did not know OR people I know I will never wish to contact again.

My starting point was to look at my calls list and my text messages as well as the Whatsapp app on my phone to determine who had actually been in contact with me or with whom I had initiated contact. That review showed me that of the, somewhere between, 600 and 800 contacts that were in my phone / outlook I have only actually been in regular contact over the 6 weeks (since my phone was replaced) with, optimistically, 25 people. Take out work colleagues and clients and that number shortened to 8 people including my parents and sister. As I do a lot of my “contacting” on social media through twitter that was not an entirely unexpected result but equally it indicated to me that doing a cull now was entirely a good thing.

So I next set about looking at each contact in my address book and deleting them. Some such deleting was easy: I couldn’t remember who the person was let alone how they ended up in my address book in the first place OR they were people who, given events of the past, I will never ever deign to be in contact with again. Other contacts that I was looking took me some time to decide whether to delete or not. Now why is this so? I had not been in contact with some of these people for over a year yet I was torn as to whether to delete their name from my phone address? It struck me during the course of this internal debate raging in my head between deleting and not deleting that what I was doing this morning, in some cases, was the final act to end a friendship or an acquaintance and that I was, in some cases, finding that act very difficult.

Now, I am not that into myself to think that all of these people that I took time to consider whether or not I was “ending the friendship” have spent the last 12 months or more just waiting by the phone just for my call or text. I have no doubt the bulk of people that I actually knew in my address book that I deleted had written off our friendship or acquaintance some time ago. Which, of course, is entirely OK: friendships wane and, to quote a very wise man whose name escapes me, “shit happens”. Indeed, it was somewhat cathartic to press the delete button on some contacts that pushed to the forefront of my mind some fairly rough memories.

There were other contacts in my address book though that I really wrestled with some emotions on just the act the deleting. Some good memories filled my mind about my interactions with those people and I was left to ponder one of the age old questions that people ask themselves and their friends from time to time: why, or more to the point when, did we stop talking? Having had those thoughts I was left with a metaphorical fork in the road: to delete the contact or to keep the contact and actually contact them. In three cases I was pretty sure of the answer to the “why” question and that reason lead me to still hit the delete button. In four other cases I was clueless as to the answer to that same question whilst also genuinely interested in finding out what the person I was reminiscing about was up to, if only to confirm that it was the right time to delete the contact from my phone but also to try and rekindle contact.

10 years ago I would have dialled their numbers and reached out which, for someone like me, would have about as nerve wracking experience as I can imagine. Instead I chose text message as my media of choice to reach out to them. It is here that we get the surprising outcome that I allude to in the title to this post. I have yet to have a response from 2 of the text messages I sent and 1 other message came back with a “think you have the wrong number mate”. The final contact I decided to recontact replied almost immediately and we have since had phone discussion that traversed what has happened in our families, celebrating the recent birth of his second child, lamenting the form of the Australian cricket team and some friendly jousting about the relative strengths of our NRL teams (he is inexplicably still a South Sydney Rabbitohs fan). Toward the end of the conversation I broached the topic of why / when we had stopped talking, admittedly with some trepidation, and, as always seem to be the case when I am most trepidatious, the answer was a simple one to do with life just getting busy and a change in address.

Having had some time to reflect since the culling and the phone conversation of which I speak above, my immediate emotion was happiness that I had undertaken the cull and reconnected with one person. There is also some regret mixed in there though that some of the people who had been my friend in the past I could not bring myself to contact. Nonetheless I am glad I took some time out to tidy up one of the electronic aspects of my life. Similarly inspired I turned my attention to my email inboxes and have gotten my work one down to 16 emails which is a personal record but that is another story.

I leave you with a challenge: have a look at your address book of your phone and if there is someone (or multiple people) in there that you are left with both positive memories and the question of why you stopped talking to them take, to steal from Robert Frost, the road less travelled and reach out. You may be surprised by the outcome!

“The Vow” by Malcolm O. Varner

This is a poem about emotions common to many of us. I love the vows set out in reply to those emotions.

No matter how deep the sadness or wide the pain,
I vow to live for a brighter day will come again.

No matter how many mistakes I’ve made in the past,
I vow to live and in the future avoid them, surefooted and fast.

No matter how many tragedies beyond my control take place,
I vow to live and stay my course within this race.

No matter how poor or rich I may ever be,
I vow to live and aspire to search for the dignity in simplicity.

No matter how much a lover may pierce the inner core of my heart,
I vow to live for like spring I’ll get a new start.

No matter how isolated and alone I may feel,
I vow to live and do something for someone else to heal.

No matter how hopeless my situation my appear,
I vow to live and reflect until my viewpoint is clear.

No matter what happens in this life – good or bad
I vow to live, do my best, and just for living – be glad.

I will do my best and that is all I can ask of myself let alone anyone else!

“I Resign” by an Unknown Author

Another from the poetry files this week. This one is another of my favourites. I, for one, would love to resign adulthood at times and return to by 8 year old self and this poem certainly resonates with that thought at times. Enjoy!

I am hereby officially tendering my resignation as an adult.
I have decided I would like to accept the responsibilities
of an 8-year-old again.
I want to go to McDonald’s and think that it’s a four star restaurant.
I want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make ripples with rocks.
I want to think M&Ms are better than money because
you can eat them.
I want to lie under a big oak tree and run a lemonade stand with my friends on a hot summer day.
I want to return to a time when life was simple.
When all you knew were colors, multiplication tables, and nursery rhymes, but that didn’t bother you, because you didn’t know what you didn’t know and you didn’t care.

All you knew was to be happy because you were blissfully unaware of all the things that should make you worried or upset.
I want to think the world is fair. That everyone is honest and good.
I want to believe that anything is possible.
I want to be oblivious to the complexities of life and be overly excited by the little things again.
I want to live simple again.
I don’t want my day to consist of computer crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, how to survive more days in the month than there is money in the bank, doctor bills, gossip,
illness, and loss of loved ones.

I want to believe in the power of smiles, hugs, a kind
word, truth, justice, peace, dreams, the imagination, mankind, and making angels in the snow.

So…here’s my checkbook and my car keys, my credit cards and all my responsibility.

I am officially resigning from adulthood. And if you want to discuss this further, you’ll have to catch me first, ’cause,

“Tag! You’re it.

I want to live a simple life again … one can only dream!

Playing to Win: A life strategy

I have been reading Playing to win: How strategy really works by A G Lafley and Roger L Martin recently as part of some business planning for FY14 that I have been doing at work. I have found the central methodology really resonating with me and, whilst the book is specifically focused on strategy in business, I think the central themes in the book are equally as applicable to life as they are in the business world.

For the initiated, A G Lafley is a former CEO of Proctor & Gamble whose strategic house was such that under his watch Proctor & Gamble doubled its sales and quadrupled its profits. Roger Martin was Lafley’s strategic adviser in the Proctor & Gamble days and is now the dean of Rotman School of Business in Toronto.

Lafley and Martin’s process of developing and implementing a successful strategy hinges on what they describe as the Five Choices. These choices are integrated and as the authors explain in the book:

These choices and the relationship between them can be understood as a reinforcing cascade, with the choices at the top of the cascade setting the context for the choices below, and the choices at the bottom influencing and refining the choices above.

The five choices are:

1. What is our winning aspiration? This choice, in effect, refers to the purpose of the enterprise for which the strategy is being created.

2. Where will we play? This choice identifies specifically where the product or company will compete.

3. How will we win? This question must be answered with a clear value proposition and a path to competitive advantage.

4. What capabilities must be in place? The question here is to define the activities and competencies that support the where-to-play and how-to-win choices.

5. What management systems are required? The question here is which systems, structures and measures need to be put in place to support the choices made in the previous four questions.

As I noted above I consider this to be an excellent tool for consider strategic imperatives in business. However, I also think that these questions, with some obvious amendments to the nomenclature, create a structure worth following when one considers strategies in life.

When you think about it, with everything that we do in life having a strategy or a plan of action makes the completion of a life task all the more easy. The five choices can be used to give a framework for the reaching of life goals just as much they can for the determining of business strategy.

I challenge you to try the five choices process the next time you are setting yourself a personal goal and let me know if it works. I seems to be working for me.