The Call …

Years back, my father wanted a mobile phone.

For emergencies he said, to keep in his car glove box – just in case.

He wasn’t interested in web browsing (what’s that? I can hear him say), apps (what are apps?) so I bought him a “large key” mobile phone.

Easy to read, easy to use.

I programmed in some hot keys so he could dial me, my sister or the car recovery rescue company quickly.

Three large key buttons that he could easily press in an emergency.

My sister and I stored his new mobile number on our phones under “Dad” (very original) and he would make the odd call every now and again to us (not to the car rescue number) to check his memory of those hot keys.

He died back in 2013 and he is sorely missed.

On going through his things shortly after his death I recovered the phone from our box of his memorabilia.

I decided to charge up the phone to see if it still worked (and to check whether the pay as you go credit was still available).

I was over my sister’s drinking tea as she was cooking some food in her kitchen.

I took out his mobile phone (I was planning to surprise her that I had found it and it still worked) and pressed the hot key for my sister.

I could hear her scream from her kitchen as she saw the call from “Dad” on the display of her mobile phone, vibrating and ringing on her work surface.

Dad would have laughed out loud.

My sister didn’t …..😎

I’ve still got the phone ……it is safely stored away …

There’s no grey …

I must be missing something.

I’m hearing more and more from people around me about how difficult it is keeping in contact.

“He/She never rings me, or sends me a text message”

“No point in me having a mobile phone, nobody ever calls me!”

Sorry to raise this but some of this is self inflicted.

I accept that we don’t all want too many contacts to manage, too many calls to handle, too many “friends” to look after.

But here’s the truth.

Do you want to keep in touch, yes or no?

It’s binary, it’s digital.

You either do or you don’t.

There’s no grey …

So decide what you want and make the effort … or not.

Contact those people you really want to connect with.

No delay, just do it.

Do it now.

Do it tomorrow.

And the next day too.

Use a text message to contact if it feels less embarrassing if they decide to ignore you.

Don’t expect the World to chase after you and seek you out.

Life’s not like that.

Don’t worry about rejection either.

Worry about not doing it.

I am blessed with contacts, friends, sources of support, numbers to dial on my phone.

I’m nothing special or super human.

I just care enough to want to make the effort.

I just keep at it, day after day, week after week, investing time, following up, remembering who’s on my list, treating it as important.

So if you really want to be connected to more people, or reconnect to those you have lost contact with over the years, just reach out and make the effort.

I do and I am richer for it.

Not wealth richer, but emotionally and spiritually richer.

You will be too… if you really want to be.

I knew, at that first meeting …

I don’t forget my days in Corporate life.

I was very fortunate to have had a range of interesting jobs throughout my career and met some very fascinating people.

Some of them have remained good friends despite moving on to other companies, other countries and other challenges.

We remain connected mainly by the technology of LinkedIn, Facebook, E Mail and the good old mobile phone (well it’s been around for a while now!)

So yesterday I was reminded on LinkedIn that one of the guys I recruited back in 1993, Gary, had a birthday.

I sent him a “hope you are well” type birthday greeting.

He came back with

“Thank you Steve, I am now 52 so we have been connected for half of my life – thanks for keeping in touch!”

He was recruited by me as a potential “high flyer” in finance and wow did he fly!

Charismatic, knowledgable, tenacious, and a great team player too.

I just knew, at our first meeting, that he was perfect for a role in my team.

I used to run, after work, informal 60 minute one to one chat type sessions with potential shortlisted candidates.

Time consuming but so useful.

This was before actually deciding whether to invite them back for the formal interview board a few weeks later.

This process allowed both of us to talk through the CV, see how the chemistry worked and chat through any questions they had about the role being offered.

I tended to know, after this meeting, whether it was worth moving to the next stage.

And often so did they.

Gary is now a very senior Finance Director in another company (he’s moved about and upwards over the years to broaden his experience) and deserves his position.

Back in 1993 I knew he was good.

Very good.

You just have this feeling.

In some small way, due to my decision to offer him a job and him accepting, I have influenced his life a little.

That’s how critical these decision points are.

He certainly influenced my life.

He made my job as his manager really easy.

And made a real difference.

And I knew that he would … at that very first meeting …. 😎

Blog Extraordinary …

My Australian friends, Mark and Louise, are coming to the end of their amazing adventure holiday which covered parts of the USA and South America.

Mark’s private daily blog, shared with a few select friends, started steadily in the early days.

Just a few lines.

Just a few photos.

I’ve used one of his photos on this blog.

Then something happened.

I think Mark discovered he really loved writing.

He also realised he was really good at it.

He included more and more amazing photos to support his expanding blog posts.

Every blog post delved into more detail, expressing more and more of their personal emotions and experiences.

It became essential reading.

He supplemented it every now and again with video calls to me when words sometimes could not cover how he felt.

He also called me when my own public blog prompted him to check I was ok.

I was, but that was nice.

Wow, who thought this adventure would be more than just places?

It would be a lasting record of their experience shared with a lucky few.

I’m realising blogs, even private ones, are more than just nice diversions.

More than just views and perspectives expressed.

They have a power and presence that can stay in the cloud for ever for others to enjoy and learn.

Well done Mark and Louise, you have made your own personal history ….

And shared the journey, the places, the feelings, the experience in a very powerful way…. thank you.

It starts with a cup of tea …

The offer of a cup of tea when I arrive is not to be refused…

There’s always time for one, according to my wife’s Aunt Lil.

The kettle goes on, the cups clatter down from the cupboard, the search for the milk in the fridge is always a challenge.

The mandatory cake or biscuit heads it’s way to you on a plate. Just pick one and enjoy.

The chat begins.

It starts with a review of her recent performances at bingo and cards at the community centre.

“I never win anything” she says.

“I only go to get out to meet a few people”

She offloads her pile of opened, official, post to me with the question “Is this important?”

It normally isn’t.

Then I ask any question about her past.

Hold tight.

Be prepared to be shocked and mesmerised at the detail, the recollection of names, places and events.

Be prepared to want to ask many supplementary questions as the stories unfold.

Be prepared to be amused, intrigued and, often, very moved by her recollections of her life.

Oh my God, I should record all of this for others to enjoy.

I wouldn’t dare ask her if she would let me.

The tea in the cup goes cold as I sit entranced at her stories.

The tea is just the catalyst for us sharing some time together and just chatting.

Her stories now reside in my head.

Long after I leave.

I am richer for them …

Thank you Aunt Lil 😎

The Phone Call …

I worked with N way back in my Corporate life days.

She was one of the key members of my team.

We had not connected for about 20 years.

We had taken different paths in our careers.

An attempt to remedy this last year with her had to be cancelled at the very last minute but we did say we would reschedule.

We didn’t of course as we carried on with our busy lives.

Tonight we met up for a meal in the City.

My car was parked in my train station car park but this was always locked up at 11.00pm so arriving back later was not a good idea.

What are we going to chat about after all this time?

Will she still recognise me?

I waited in reception at our old offices where we used to work (for nostalgic reasons and I knew where it was).

She hadn’t changed at all.

Still full of energy.

Still buzzing and hustling her way out of the lift.

It was an easy reconnection as we made our way to the restaurant (she had already booked a table – she would).

She had tipped me off to download the free cocktail voucher offered by the restaurant (I did as I was told).

We chatted on arrival and had to be constantly reminded to order our food.

We both asked questions, chatted and listened.

A quick glance at our watches suddenly revealed we had been there for 3 hours.

N was horrified.

“Will you still be ok for your train?” she asked.

“Yes, I’m sure I’ll be ok” I said.

We said goodbye and parted company at the underground train station where she headed north and I headed east.

We promised to keep in touch and meet again soon.

I ended up on my main line train heading towards home.

Slightly tired as I sat down but having enjoyed a really nice evening.

My mobile phone suddenly rang.

I quickly answered when I saw it was N.

“Hi, just wanted to check you managed to get your train ok!”

“Thank you N I am safely on the train heading home”.

“That’s great – thank you for a lovely evening”

A simple phone call of care and concern.

Priceless.

Much appreciated…. very much like her company for the evening.

Thank you N.

We must meet again soon …

Whose vacation is it? 😎

My friends Mark and Louise from Australia (I’ve blogged about them before) are off on an impressive well deserved vacation over the next month covering quite a few countries, quite a few time zones and many flights.

They have been keeping me updated on their vacation preparations and Mark has even invested in a daily journal app on his phone and has been experimenting with updates and photos which he has sent on to me.

He will be using this facility on their adventure, keeping a select few updated on his daily experiences.

I’m privileged to be on his list.

They are off in a day or so and I’m just so excited and so looking forward to his stories and photos.

It will enable us to be even closer in our contact and, with Mark’s writing style, he will tell it exactly how it is.

I’ll be seeing places I probably will never probably visit in my lifetime.

So in effect I’ll be sharing a part of their life over the next month.

I just sit back in amazement that, although I won’t be with them in person I will be experiencing it via his blog.

A virtual vacation in effect.

The power of writing.

Capturing and sharing memories.

I just love it.

Relatively speaking …

Lillian, my Aunt, is nearly 93 years old.

Strictly speaking she is not my Aunt.

She is my wife’s Aunt.

She lives local to me and we see each other a lot.

Quite frankly, she is amazing.

Totally self sufficient, totally independent and seriously mobile.

Knows what day of the week it is by what she normally does on that day.

Even the meals are hard coded into the particular day.

What do we speak about?

Memories mainly.

Ask her anything about her life, her holidays, her family, her marriages, her week ahead.

Off she goes and she handles my supplementary questions with style.

She gives me little projects to do for her and politely reminds me when they are overdue.

“No rush on that” means “get it done or I’ll chase you”.

And she does..

She has a memory that is far from full and can retrieve stuff out of nowhere … God knows how she does it.

I guess He does.

She stores memories like a library keeps books … you just need to ask the right questions.

Be prepared for long chats over many cups of tea.

She just needs a regular visit and some of your time.

What a gift she is.

The entertainment comes free ….

Memories …

Last week my friend Ian gave me a copy of a holiday DVD he had compiled for his family.

His large family stretch geographically right across the UK (and in France too!) but they still manage to find ways of meeting up as a total group whenever they can.

Of course they keep in touch on the phone, via video and odd visit as they feel fit but the full family meetings have to be project managed and organised with military precision.

This DVD, about 30 minutes in length, was a collection of video clips, photos, music, commentary, collected over a couple of years of these full family holiday events (mainly based in France on the ski slopes!) and was produced as a short film by Ian complete with opening trailers.

It took my breath away.

The energy, the fun, the laughter, the organisation, the outtakes, the closeness of the family all growing up and getting older together.

All getting along famously.

Marvellous viewing.

I’ll be watching it a few times in the future – I enjoyed it so much.

It reminded me how important it is to remember to make the effort to keep in touch and capture these family moments on the technology now available.

To preserve them on hard disks, memory sticks, (the cloud too of course) as a retrievable legacy of your family in years ahead.

Not only for family purposes but for others to share and enjoy when someone asks “how did your family keep in touch?”

It takes a real desire to do it, organisation, and attention to detail.

Now that’s the tough part.

I’m still trying to get my breath back …until the next viewing.

And thinking what I need to do more often in the future for my family.

A phone call away …

It never ceases to amaze me.

My friend called me on the phone this morning.

That part is not amazing, I’m pleased to say.

A catch up call.

He does that often.

He’s always very, very busy because he’s great at his job.

I appreciate it.

It is morning in the UK.

But his call is from a hands free unit in his van on his way home from work.

In Adelaide in Australia.

It’s about 6pm there.

Our call is private, he is cocooned in his van, cut off from external distraction.

I’m indoors, on my own …..

We can talk about anything and everything.

We normally do.

This contact would have been impossible in this way say 50 years back.

We are now in amazing times with the technology, the flexibility, the facilities.

The only issues today are time difference and deciding to call.

The last one is the showstopper.

We often say we are too busy, but he finds time..

I’m blessed I know….

When will you make that call?