19 Sep 2012

It is that time of the year again when management start discussing where you want to be in five years time. Apparently drinking cocktails in Milan is not a proper answer. 
As I ponder this super important  question, my mind and imagination wandered and I thought of this. I thought it was appropriate given what day it is.
My individual developmental plan as a Manager of a maritime economic redistribution team. Here is how I will develop my position  this using the capabilities below.
I understand the need to foster open dialogue and develop an effective team harmony. To be an effective team we require a diverse skill set and personality mix, who can still all work together for an exciting and productive life of maritime economic redistribution. I am also hoping to work with other stakeholders in various ports to meet our targets and to provide the best customer service. If we meet our targets I recognise that we should share that success as a team and celebrate our strengths. With working with such a diverse and mixed team it is important recognise their perspectives. Even if they are Spanish.

I pride myself on having excellent communication skills. I hope to utilise them effectively during team meetings, negotiating with customers and resolving conflict swiftly in the cut and thrust environment of maritime economic redistribution. I am confident that I will communicate with authority and conviction while negotiating with clients and I have achieved excellent results in the past. In this industry, you do deal with a varied mix of clients, stakeholders and even competitors so it is important to adapt your communication style to your recipient. Whether it is a local Governor, or a Dutch merchantmen I an a strong believer of courtesy and open dialogue to get my point across.
Client Focus
I am entirely client focused. The entire industry of maritime economic redistribution must have a swift and actionable process where we can identify our clients, communicate our strategy and our objectives in a timely manner, so we can achieve maximum outcome and profitability. While I am always seeking feedback on improving my service, I pride myself that I maintain a high professional standard regardless of circumstances.

Obviously it is important to be able to operate independently from time to time. The nature of the industry means that there is no real upper management due to the franchise nature of maritime economic redistribution. I believe I have the skills necessary to operate independently and to manage my team. However, I am also willing to learn new strategies, develop, and adapt to changing circumstances. I am able to remain calm during adversity and I can adapt through adversity to try to resolve issues promptly.
Action Oriented
I am a firm believer on taking responsibility for my own actions, and not claiming responsibility for any success unless it is deserved. I think it is not only important to identify, but to create opportunities for effective client service. Thus I try and network through various external stakeholders and research various client profiles so I can preempt and seize rewarding prospects before they get away
One of my prominent stakeholders.
Another important stakeholder
Judgement and Decision Making
I think that I have a unique perspective into the industry because I think it is important to examine the humanitarian aspect of the service we provide. If you are entirely results orientated I believe that it will damage the industries long term productivity. Strategically this will effect the work environment and will reflect on your team and individual performance when you are called to account.  Also you need to make rational decisions and be a clear about any potential emotional aspects to any decision made.
Recieving feed back regarding past performance.
I like to think that my strong leaderhship style does get the best out of my team. Plenty of Grog, wenches and booty does create an enthusiatic approach to our work. And if there are any challenges to my leaderhship I find that my skill set swiftly eliminates the problem. 
                 Happy international speak like a Pirate day!

16 Sep 2012

Saw this and I wanted to share it.

Hi just a quick post. Yesterday my girl and her daughter "squeaky" came to visit me. My girl popped out to get me supplies and Squeaky kept me company by reading me her new book by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton  The Thirteen Story Tree house

It is a great book and cleverly the story is about Andy and Terry who write books. Andy writes them and Terry draws the illustrations. The story is about how they are over due for a new book and their trial and adventures trying to write a new one. Squeaky read it to me, but I did some of the voices. It was fun but what was cool was that she kept pausing to make sure she wanted to me to listen to her read more of the story. of course I encouraged her and we had great fun! There were monsters, monkeys, smooching, giant bananas and of course the best tree house in the world.

I can't stress enough how important I think reading is for kids. Some kids are never great readers but whether they are or aren't they should at least have the opportunity and encouragement to read as many book as they want.

13 Sep 2012

Of Morphine and Hunger

There are two silver linings to my recent predicament:

  1.  While I am a terrible patient it is nice to have some quiet time with my Lady.
  2. I can catch up on some reading.
 I have finally got around to finishing The Hunger Games the other day so thought ti would make a good post. While you may already know the plot here is a brief synopsis:

In a dystopian post apocalyptic future the state of Panem sits on the ruins of what was once the USA. Panem consists of thirteen districts each with a economic speciality; agriculture, horticulture, lumber, fishing etc. And the capital is the city state that rules them. Seventy five years before the setting of the book, all the districts rebelled against the authoritarian rule of the capital and lost. District 13 was firebombed out of existence and the other districts quickly surrendered. In retribution every year the capital holds the 'hunger games', A high tech gladiatorial battle between tributes from each of the districts.

Katness Everdeen is a young girl from district 12 whose twelve year old sister is selected for the 74th hunger games. Katness volunteers in her sisters stead leaving her family behind to battle for her life for the entertainment of the capital. As  she fights not only to survive, but also against the capital her strength and humanity becomes a symbol for a a growing discontent amongst the districts.

Ensue gladiatorial death hijinx!

Suzanne Collins is a compelling author. She writes an engaging story with quite flawed characters. And when I mean flawed I mean human. Katness is a teenage girl who is forced into the position of caring and providing for her mother and little sister from age 11. And to do that she is effectively a criminal, poaching game from capitol land. Katness has severe trust issues and, is well a bit of a bitch. But that is good because don't we want human, relatable characters with flaws. Well I do. And whether you may now be doubting whether you will relate to a fifteen year old girl with trust issues I think you will be surprised by how engaging the story is. Collins has a easy writing style that I found entertaining and hard to put the book down.

I enjoyed it very much, and also enjoyed observing her inspirations from ancient Greece and Rome. And while this has been done many times before this isn't some trite post apocalyptic story reinventing history under the guise of science fiction, and certainly no Battle Royale.  While I do enjoy that movie, this story is a little more sophisticated.

Interesting point for me coming from watching the film first before reading the novel is that I think I prefer the film over the book. That is probably a terrible crime some where, but I do. I think that the actors in the  movie add a humanity and a complexity to the supporting characters that I found a little lacking in the novel. But then the novel is entirely from Katness's point of view so this is understandable and doesn't detract from the novel at all.
Woody Harrelson creates empathy for his portrayal of Haymitch

Over all I understand why these books are so popular and I am glad that they are. It is also refreshing to have a young woman who is a strong protagonistin a novel.

Give it a try, it is good.

6.5 Monkeys

3 Sep 2012


When I was a lad renting videos was a lot more exciting than renting DVDs today.  Mind you in my day the only work to be had was working for the Byzantium empire as mercenaries. The were always wars with the Huns over whether VHS or Beta was better.  Besides the excitement of Byzantium, the reason videos were more fun way back then was the previews were great.

Each preview was an exciting promise of another movie we had yet to watch. And living in the arse end of the planet we only got exposed to limited movies, so previews opened up a broader, bigger and crazier world. You even fast forwarded through the final credits because of the promise of more previews at the end of the movie.


Then one day it changed. I can't say when it happened, but slowly all the previews were exactly the same on each video. These days you have the copy write warning,  the latest social atrocity created by Adam Sandler, a 25 minute blue ray advert and probably a preview for the movie you are about to see but with several spoilers.  But very occasionally you actually do get to watch a trailer of a movie you have never heard of, and might like to see.

And that is how I found out about Spud.

The Crazy 8s

Here is a South African Synopsis:

John Milton is about to start at a prestigious boys boarding school. He is rooming with a bunch of boys known as the Crazy 8's. Each of the boys has an amusing nickname; Fatty, Gecko, Rambo, Mad Dog. Johns nickname is given to him after his first communal shower. Sadly poor John has missed the first puberty bus off the rank and is slightly behind the other boys developmentally speaking. Spuddy wee penis equals being called "Spud" forever.
Poor Spud struggles with; making friends, being away from his crazy family, being with his crazy family, sports, studies and most importantly girls! But despite his efforts he generally fails at everything.
 Young Spud does find a friend and unlikely mentor in his English teacher, the 'Guv', who hate feminists and "carpet munchers", but Spud has to find his own way through the perils of puberty and boarding school on his own.

Ensue public school hijinx!
Spud and the Guv

The film is based on a highly popular book by John Van De Ruit, based on his own experiences at public school. Spud is a  "A diary of Adrian Mole" for the 90's, but based on real events. Coming of age films have been around for a long time, but I thought this was fresh, funny and agonising all at the same time. There is a genuine warmth between Spud and the Guv (played by John Cleese). I read that the producers wanted Hugh Grant to be the "Guv", but I can't imagine why. John Cleese is a consummate professional, and it is a bit of a different role for him. 
Spud falls for the Mermaid
The story incorporates living up in South Africa in the 90's with the normal hormonal issues, and the film is well balanced with hilarity, agonising awkwardness and a touch of sadness. A bit like growing up really.

It was a genuinely refreshing watch and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And now that I have watched it, I will seek out the book.

7 South African monkeys from me.