Happy memories

This is new music, but there is something wonderfully familiar.

Pop-punk (my catch all name for music like this) has a very special place in my heart.

The first band I was in was focussed solely around the music of Blink-182. It reminds me of skateboard events we used to put on in summer and of beach fires with friends. It reminds me of my friend Matt who we lost 6 years ago after bravely going 12 rounds with cancer. It reminds me of driving to Brighton with my little brother, explaining which words in the songs he shouldn't use.

Music has the ability to trigger nostalgia in me more than film or even place, though often music will help me to recall places and time of my life.
I was sat in my room on the floor incredibly bored the first time I heard the Outkast track, Ms Jackson and ran downstairs to beg my mum to drive me to a shop to go and buy the album, one I revisit often.

I was channel surfing the first time I heard Ocean Avenue by Yellowcard, turned the TV off, got on a train and went to buy the album.

Hooray for memories, friends and the good ship pop punk (and a sub-hooray for Outkast) and all who sail in her.

A quiet time

Kristian and Nala the Vizsla

I haven’t posted for a while, and yet I’ve been writing more consistently than ever. Each time I turn on my computer or phone I try to take some time to journal in Day One. I love this app and have always come back to it after trying many others.

This is an aside to the real reason for my post. To explain the quiet. I bought a new Kindle on Prime day and have become a book reading machine. well, I’ve been reading more at least. You get the idea… My reading has been focussed on St Francis of Assisi and surfing Buddhists. There has been a consistent lesson in both, take time for reflection and stillness.

I’ve been learning to be a dad in the last seven weeks, that has meant being intentional with everything, when to walk Nala, when to do email and even when to shower. My plan is to not just get through the time of less sleep and change but to enjoy every minute of it.

Quite a grand idea right?

I’ve watched more starry skies and sunrises since Joshua Jack was born, 5 am is his key time to need a change of scenery. My heart is full and I haven’t been able to put into words what that looks like in any meaningful way for people to read. The average Day One post is as follows:

“Joshua slept 6 hours last night. He’s so amazing. When he woke up he smiled at me and I cried because I was happy. Then he cried because he was hungry. Nala has been a brilliant dog sister. I caved and had caffeine today, it really isn’t my friend long term”

That’s it.

Along with all the other things to be intentional about, this season also needs intentional space for learning. I notice if I go more than a few days without moving towards a new skill or project my mind gets cloudy. Get my brain a quick workout and all is well.

Learning whilst having a seven-week old baby is interesting. I’ve worked on building websites with him strapped to my chest (if you have need of a baby carrier I can highly recommend this one by ErgoBaby) and I’ve sat joggling his buggy whilst working on support cases.

I love it.

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.


This time of quiet hasn’t been true quiet, more a time to adjust and prepare for the next stage of life. Life is good, I’m just working out how to do this season well. I’ll be back more I promise.


The support I see #5 – Be yourself at work, on your commute and at home

Me as a member of the Tune Squad
Being myself includes a slight obsession with Michael Jordan and wearing his vests. Especially the Space Jam one
“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” Neil Gaiman

The final part of this 5 part series is here, the summary – be yourself.

Facebook has as part of their vision and values ” Move Fast, Be bold, Be yourself”. I love this. Move quickly towards the goal, making bold choices as you go and be you – its the best way to be.

I believe it takes a certain personality to make a career out of support. You’ll be logical, emotionally intelligent, self disciplined, patient, attentive and so much more. You’re already in support? Well done you, you’re already a legend.

There are traits of great support people as detailed above, but the exceptional ones I’ve seen bring all of that and also themselves. They are truly themselves as they interact with the world around them. There is no pretense, just a genuine kindness and desire to help. Their interactions aren’t forced with fake smiles and cheery but insincere cries of “Well you have a good day now”. They can gauge which customers want to talk about their day a bit before the call or just crack on and they are completely comfortable either way.

In each of these posts I’ve detailed what I think makes great support. This post closes this series off with a battle cry to be you. You should definitely work on being the best version of you, with your vision and goals in mind, what do you need to develop? What do you need to work on? Just don’t feel that being you is worse than trying to be *Insert the name anyone you look up to*. Take inspiration from them of course. I’m writing this on an iMac after my friend Dan told me that Mac’s are the greatest computers about 12 years ago. I’m typing this in Evernote after Michael Hyatt recommended it for note taking and idea logging, listening to the new remastered Sgt Peppers lonely hearts club band after my year 8 music teacher played us Eleanor Rigby and I thought it was the saddest, but best song I had ever heard.

We should take inspiration from those around us and who are doing things but becoming a carbon copy isn’t the right move. Learn from people, analyse and bring it back to you and apply it if it fits.

You can give the best support by being comfortable as you.

So here ends the posts on my five steps to great support, my vision of what a support team member should be focussed on and some steps to getting there. Now we just have to go and apply it and offer the best support, it’s a great career and a great calling.

The support I see #4 -Consider your audience

Wireless keyboard

If you have worked with computers for any amount of time you have likely become the go to person for your family and friends for tech support.

The printer is broken. Can you have a look?

I’ve bought a surround sound system, can you set it up?

My MacBook is very hot and is burning my legs, can you help?

My son has put some Lego in the USB ports and broken them, can you sort it out?

Sound familiar? I love being able to help but the challenge is always when there is an ongoing action. Allow me to explain.

If I just have to fix something that’s fine, it’s done. If I then have to say “Probably best not do that again” e.g. put Lego in USB ports, I need to explain why and how.

The Lego one is easy.

“That port allows your computer to charge phones, connect to other devices – it does not supercharge Lego… I know, I wish it did too.”

What if there is a complex procedure that needs to be run repeatedly whilst you’re not around, there in lies the challenge.
“Allow me to explain… wait where are you going”
A challenge of having knowledge someone needs is to not use that knowledge in one of these ways:

– As a tool to try to elevate yourself over those who don’t know as much as you do about the issue.
– Keep the explanation as complex as possible to show how clever you are.
– Being embarrassed about your knowledge and trying to dumb what you know down (the rarest but still an issue).
– Making it so simple that you may as well be a guest lecturer on a nursery YouTube channel “Caannn you say ‘Computer’?”.

These are all bad options. So how should we explain things?

1) Work out how best your audience will understand. Was there any clues in how they asked the question? Did they give you a browser version and steps they have already attempted? These can be used as signposts as to where to start helping and the user’s knowledge.

2) As the AutoMattic creed says “I’ll remember the days before I knew everything”. I mentioned in the first post in this series, asking for help is a vulnerable place to be. If you lose sight of the fact that you had to learn this information once as well, no matter how long ago, it can show in your support. The user gets annoyed with you, you feel like you want to answer back but can’t – day spoilt. The flip side of this is humility about what you don’t know and need help on. Don’t just make up the answer, or act like it isn’t important. Learning is a skill to be used through the whole of your life.
We all had to learn at some point, and we may have needed guidance as well. Keeping this in mind will impact how you speak, how you explain and increase patience.

3) Remember the average reading age. I saw a stat the other day which said the average reading age in the UK is 9 (It is 7th to 8th grade in the US). This has to impact how we communicate with people. Our challenge when keeping this in mind is not speaking down to people when considering our word choice. We don’t need to use every ticket to show that we have a huge vocabulary. I love the English language and all the different ways people use it to express themselves, but the most impressive thing for me is when someone is able to get detailed information across using fewer, less complex words and not loose any meaning.

This post really can be summed up in always be tailoring your communications with people. What do you know about them? What extra knowledge can you take from how they have communicated with you? What are they trying to get from the interaction?

If we are constantly considering who we are speaking to and tailoring our communication in light of that our customers can only be happy.

The support I see #3 – Learn and share

Beach bonfire

This tale starts in a small town in Sussex, on a summer’s day that could only be described as perfection.

Sorry, just trying a new way to start these posts. I set the scene though right?

The year is 2013, a young(er) Kristian is sat on the beach after visiting his local library for the first time in 18 years. In those 18 years he hadn’t thought about missing the library, Amazon provides all he needs now, but as he looked back he started to remember all the things he loved. He loved that he could sit in a wooden fire engine and read Goosebumps and Horrible History books until the librarians kicked you out because they were closing. He loved the quiet and the sheer number of books, all could be his next favourite. He loved that they offered stories on tape, and also VHS videos. I wonder if mum will let me rent Terminator? No, ok then…

That’s enough of that.

The reason I started by talking about the library was that when I went back to join my local library as a 28-year-old I went straight to the business section. It was a small section but the title that jumped out was Buffett – The Biography. I had always admired the idea of Warren Buffett but knew very little about him.

Warren Buffett and rum

I went to the desk and took the book out. I walked home, grabbed a bottle of ginger beer and a bottle of Sailor Jerry’s and went to the beach. Pippa and I sat and read our books (Her choice was a Philippa Gregory novel about Tudor kings and queens). I read and read until I had been there all day.

There were so many lessons tucked away in that book. He is clearly a complex character and I don’t want to unpick all of that here. There were many things that stuck out to me about Mr Buffett. The methodical approach to investing, the lack of flashy cars, yachts etc and his passion not really being powered by money but more by success. In amongst all of these things there was one thing that really stuck with me.


It has been said that a perfect day for Warren Buffett involves uninterrupted reading. He is a learning machine, studying newspapers, books and reports all in the pursuit of understanding what his next move should be.

Warren Buffett has said the greatest investment you can make is in yourself. To always be learning something new. Warren personified this idea by taking on a public speaking course early in his career. Tony Robbins, whilst earning $40 a week spent $35 on a course, and why countless CEO’s, Presidents of the United states and people in every walk of life have invested in going on Tony’s courses (See President Clinton, Marc Benioff and Kanye West).

Learn to support

Learning in a support environment requires an intentional effort to not just solve problems but to look back at them. It is very easy to live with a firefighting mindset, dashing from one case to another. This is vital and timely support is always needed. You will definitely learn things during this time. What is vital is to carve out time in a day to look back, even if just for a few minutes. What were the themes of the things I worked on? What documentation could I have used? What documentation isn’t available to customers yet? What could I have done better?

Team leads and managers should assist with this but the wonderful feeling that comes from being in control of your learning is your responsibility. Make your own time for it and make sure it gets done.

Each interaction is an opportunity to learn, and should be seen like that. What is the customer trying to achieve? What is their business? Have I helped anyone else in this sector? Is there another way to do this? This can bring a new way to look at your job, don’t want your role to be stale? Keep learning new things.

Share, share and share some more

If the goal of great support is to always be learning an equally important goal is to be sharing that information with as many people as possible. No one likes a paranoid support person trying to guard their job.

I believe that being generous sharing and communicating the knowledge you have is the only way to be in a support team. Take part in conversations with your team mates, document (I love documentation) and offer your team access to the skills you have built, acting as a sounding board for problems.

The benefits of this far, far, far outweigh any potential risk of job security. If you do get fired for sharing information and building others you should be running away from that company anyway.

Generosity is attractive, it shows a confidence. It makes you feel like an expert and allows you to further perfect your communication skills. If you can share with a good attitude, avoiding the pitfalls of “I know more than you” *Insert smug grin here*, you are building your team, assisting customers and building you.

That feels like a win, win, win.