The support I see – Introduction

Brighton in the sun
What I could see as I wrote this post, Brighton Pier.

I know, I know – grand title.

I once went to a conference in a church in Bradford called Abundant life, a huge church which even had a Starbucks in it. I was very impressed with this and quickly got in the queue to get my caffeinated sugar hit. This was in simpler times when I wasn’t as aware of my caffeine or sugar intake. That all changed later on.

As you walked into the lobby towards the main auditorium there was a big sign saying ‘The church I see…’ and then a list of lots and lots of values. I was slightly overwhelmed by how many there were. They had quite the vision! It was in a public place, anyone going into the church would be met with a list of values detailing how they wanted to act as a community.

Over the past few months, I have been thinking more and more about vision and values for both my work and my personal life. In my career, I am developing the team vision. I want one that people can remember and get behind, we will then condense that even further into a mission statement. In my personal life, it is more about trying to build to be the best dad and husband that I can be. Summed up, I am trying to be more intentional, this starts with redefining what my goals, dreams and focusses are.

Here are some wonderful examples of company values.

Rackspace – First on the list, ‘We are Customer Service fanatics’. This makes me happier than I can say. I will cover this more in later posts in this series but I think customer happiness is everyone’s responsibility and should be at the core of all company values.

Zappos – Delivering happiness was a wonderful book and one I revisit often. Offering wonderful customer support is once again a foundation of the company values ‘Deliver WOW through service’. I knew about Zappos’ incredible service before I had any idea of what they did as a company.

Facebook – ‘Move Fast, Be bold, Be yourself’. This one feels like an education in mission statement writing.

AutoMattic – You should read this one all the way through. There are so many highlights, a personal favourite parts are “I will never stop learning.” and “Given time, there is no problem that’s insurmountable”.

Looking at all of these, and many other wonderful examples, they offer a framework through which to view your work. An engineer will face different challenges to a support representative, who will not have the same challenges as a sales team member. What you can offer is a framework so that when a challenge or decision arises there is a company line on how to approach it.

The Rackspace support engineer who has a distraught customer who needs some ‘above and beyond service’ at the detriment of other tasks understands that they can because the company are ‘Customer service fanatics’.

I realise I’m simplifying/romanticising in the example above. It is a huge challenge to take values or a mission statement from an intellectual exercise to a living, breathing culture. That is the true challenge of company visions or mission statements, you could have the slickest mission statement and values but how do you then empower people to work with it in mind every day, even if it means a drop in what they deem as productivity?

This is my introduction to the next few posts. The support I see is…

The support I see – My philosophy

Today we launch a series called “The support I see”.

The past few months have involved me reading a lot of different support mission statements. I’ve taken some inspiration from them whilst clarifying my feelings about support and putting them into words.

You may get from these posts, I love support. I mean I really love it.

Here is my support philosophy listed:

1) Be passionate about our customers succeeding

2) Be kind – you have the ability to make someone’s day much better

3) Learn and share

4) Consider your audience

5) Be yourself at work, on your commute at home.

That’s it in a nutshell.

I will talk about each in more detail over the coming days. There are more things I could have on my list of things that make great support. The five things listed above are the foundations. I believe if we have these things at the core of our work we will have happy customers who achieve great things. After all, isn’t that what we are aiming for?

The calm, mindful me

I have been experimenting with various mindfulness techniques over the last 12 months or so.

I work in a city called Brighton in the UK. Lots of people in Brighton seem to love mindfulness and anything to do with their spirituality. I began to hear more and more people speak about mindfulness.

Conversations on the train:

‘Sorry, I didn’t hear you talking to me. I was doing my mindful breathing exercises’

Conversations in coffee shops:

‘I’m only drinking Pu erh tea now and trying to drink mindfully’

There’s even a book for mindful dogs, though as I’ve stated before, Nala doesn’t need it. She’s very advanced for a dog who fell in a pond twice today and was sick because she drank salt water.

My journey took its first real steps when I heard about the Headspace app via the Tim Ferris podcast. I took the 7 day trial and loved it.

The soothing tones of Andy Puddicombe made you immediately feel at ease.

The animations made you believe that in the cartoon world everything was relaxing and you too could live there as a happy lumberjack who slept well (Just me? Ok…).

I then started to read more books about mindfulness and came to the conclusion it was a wonderful thing. I looked into going to the Oxford Mindfulness centre to learn to become a mindfulness teacher later on. I took every opportunity to tell people they should try the app and see if it works for them. I bought books and read everything I could about it.

Cut to me falling into a the trap of reading too much and not applying enough. It fell out of my routine, to be replaced by a variety of other good things (reading, writing etc).

These last few weeks I’ve started up again. I’m trying the Calm app, and trying to catch myself before my mind becomes too busy during the work day and trying to take a few moments to breathe and focus again.

After just a few days of this I notice the difference. I’m calmer, kinder and more focussed. Looking forward to seeing what a difference a few weeks will make.

Venice in the rain, being away

Venice in the rain

My triumphant return to blogging. If you can play the trumpet, insert your own fanfare or watch this one. Triumphant isn’t it.

I took a short break from blogging after my best run EVER posting new content.

I needed to pause, I wasn’t too tired or bored of blogging. My computer was still alive and well. My fingers could still type. Allow me to take a moment to explain why this blog holiday was so required.

I am a man of finite resource and time. I can’t do everything all at once, even if I would like to and in the past would have tried to.

My April was made up of online courses, reading, preparing my house for a baby and also preparing my mind for fatherhood. Something needed to move to allow for the other things to be picked up.

I took myself off social media and limited the amount of TV I watched. The only reason I watched anything was because Silicon Valley came back. I wasn’t going to miss out on that. Obviously.

I am finding more and more that these pauses are good for me. They reaffirm what I need to be working on, and also what I shouldn’t be working on.

The picture above was in Venice on a rainy Saturday in April. My favourite trip ever. I took my phone but ignored it for the 5 days we were there. The TV in our apartment had one English speaking channel. Pippa had my full 100% attention and my mind had a bit more space to think. I think I look back so fondly on that trip in part because I was very present, not lost and distracted in e mail or news.

The wonderful part about the current blogging pause? I really missed writing. I am not sharing this blog anywhere at the moment, just practicing my WordPress building skills and practicing writing.

I wont be attempting to scale the dizzy heights of posting every day at the moment as I am still working hard on those online courses and baby T is due any day now, but I will be posting again.

It’s nice to miss something and to be able to start again.

The final piece of the puzzle

The lead.

Connection between you and your dog.

The guide to let them know where you are going and where they should be.

The rope that lets them walk you. 
The last one is where we are at. The lead remains the final piece of the puzzle. Nala is calm, loving and like a crazy beast when she gets on her lead. 

Usually I think dogs don’t get things because people don’t train hard enough. They don’t stay focussed. I have tried so hard, countless hours, countless techniques. Still Nala leads the walk. 

I shall be trying another thing this week, the figure of 8 lead. 

You can see it here

Next update – the battle for lead walking, a new tool…