5 Share Friday

5 share – Friday 23 Feb 2018

1. Quote I’ve been pondering this week “The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace”Mahatma Gandhi

2. I’m in Pune, India this week on a work trip. I’ve been lucky enough to have had a few hours to explore the city. The strange feeling of blended chaos and peace is one I’ve not experienced before, an experience of calm despite the madness. I visited the Gandhi National Memorial, the national monument of India’s freedom movement. There are many people who’ve changed the world for good in some way, none more so than Gandhi (why not watch or rewatch the movie? It’s fantastic!

3. I watched Hidden Figures recently, a terrifically inspiring movie about the true story of the women who changed Nasa’s place in the space race. It’s had an amazing impact since it’s release last year, inspiring more young women to seek careers in technology and science. There are only a handful of movies recently where art and truth are blended in such a way that lives are changed forever, this is one of them.

4. I’m lucky enough to have a hotel room overlooking the chaotic streets of Pune. With green trees and flowers blooming as well as the 24 hour rush of people jumping on the trains by the station (my ear plugs have definitely come in handy!). Here’s a typical view..

Each morning I’ve opened the curtains to let the sun beam through (it’s 100F or nearly 40C), sitting cross legged in my baggy linen trousers and meditating before I move on to the rest of the day. It may seem cliche given where I am, though the power of mediation brings ease and peace to each day, ridding my body of aches and pains that have built up over the previous 24 hours and helping me focus. I recommend trying Headspace  if you’re interested in meditation and want to try it out.

5. A colleague lent me the book Idiot Brain by Dean Burnett, a neuroscientist and Guardian blogger. Dean is also a stand up comedian, which definitely comes across in his writing style. I’m enjoying it and recommend checking it out. I’m not not finished, yet so far it’s a charming collection of pop neuroscience musings on “how the human brain does its own thing despite everything the modern world can throw at it.” 

Have a great weekend everyone!


Dyson, 3 lessons in life and the importance of engineering

I was grateful to have been pointed to the James Dyson How I Built This podcast last week. If you haven’t heard it / aren’t familiar with the series, it’s pretty awesome. Each episode contains conversation with a person who built something amazing that changed the world in some way.

The Dyson episode was nice to listen to as I started out my engineering life on the site of what is now the UK Dyson headquarters. Also, as a young mechanical engineer Dyson’s engineering team offered me a job as part of the production design team, I was honoured (though didn’t accept).

I came from a single parent family where money was tight. At the age of 16 I had to find a paying job as staying in education wasn’t an option (my mum needed money from me as the state cut off any child benefit at age 16).

I didn’t actually want a job, I wanted more education. I dreamt of academic learning, being a student and figuring out what I wanted to do in life. Unfortunately that wasn’t what I was dealt and I needed to go out and make a living.

My mum had never planned this life for myself and my brother. Sadly, after marrying my dad, her own father all but disowned her and cut her off. When my parents split up and my dad went off to Seattle, no financial help came…my mum was on her own. Luckily for my brother and I she was strong. We had a mum that negotiated a mortgage and various loans on a benefits income, learned and did house maintenance (electrical and plumbing) and understood the importance of spending what money we did have on the best food available. All this while volunteering in the community helping the elderly and fighting deep depression.

So when it came to leaving school she helped me make the best of the situation. Knowing how I liked making things as well as learning, engineering seemed to fit and funnily enough it’s also what the school told her I should do.

She helped me find an engineering apprenticeship in the town of Malmesbury, 6 miles away. With an apprenticeship (at least at the time time) I could learn while earning decent money. I was up against others yet somehow became the top runner. They offered me a position, one where they’d pay for my education as long as I used my learning to enhance their engineering systems. I turned them down. I didn’t want to cycle 6 miles through the countryside to get there for 7:30am.

So I took a different engineering role, an automotive one with a company closer to home. It sucked, I was working with people I didn’t click with as well as having very little in common socially. I wanted to be surrounded by smart people I could learn from and this job wasn’t it.

One day I got home and my mum sat me down, telling me she’d seen I was sad, she went on to explain how she’d phoned the previous company in the hope the original role was still available. This was 3 months later, so it was a terrific surprise when she told me they hadn’t found anyone else they’d wanted to work with. I was welcome to start as soon as I could, they’d also agreed to help me get to them and college by subsidising the cost of transport, amazing!

And so began my love of applying mathematics and physics into the real world. I learned from others smarter than me, surrounded myself with like-minded people and most of all I got to make things, actual things that were useful to the world.

This taught me 3 valuable lessons in life that I’ve carried with me ever since.

1. You can make the most out of what your dealt in life. Choosing not to be a victim is important and most of all do appreciate the support of those who want to help you

2. Don’t be scared to make a big change in your life. We only get one life, don’t waste it in a job / with people you don’t want to be with (in and out of work)

3. If you don’t ask you may never know. My mum asked the original company about the engineering role on the off chance, and it worked out. I’d assumed they had given it to someone else. Find a way of asking for what you want in life, you may be surprised..

I don’t remember and act on the above 3 every day. I fail at times, after which I find myself pondering on my engineering apprenticeship. The lessons I received from that era in my life are still as important today as they were back then.

End note: One day I’ll have a shed in my garden with a lathe, welder, milling machine and all the other kit I crave in order to build and make things again, it’s going to be awesome.

5 Share Friday

5 Share – Friday 16 Feb 2018

1. Quote I’m pondering this week “Life is like a cup of tea…it’s all in how you make it.” 

2. Article I’ve been reading: Turns out the way you hang your toilet paper tells a bigger story than you may think.

My preference is roll over and I’m totally guilty of flipping someone else’s roll under to a roll over. I feel bad after reading this..

3. This week gave us Shrove Tuesday and Valentines day, pancakes and love seem a perfect match!

This year the internet was a buzz with all sorts of valentine stories. The good news is, whether it’s someone in your life you’re already with or someone you want to be with, the internet can tell you if you’re actually in love with them.  It must be true as the internet never lies..

I hope you got to spend time with the one you love this valentines day.

4. I’ve been looking up recipes in Dale Pinnocks Medicinal Chef recipe books. Dale’s recipes have been a staple at home for a few years now, I highly recommend them for their taste and nutrition.

Matcha coconut porridge for breakfast? yes please!

5. This amazing article made it’s way onto Linkedin last week. The author has the same name as me and even looks familiar…It’s worth reading if you’re interested in improving your mind and how it controls you.


A chance encounter and the 48 Laws of Power

A while ago I found myself on an adventure in Kuala Lumpur with no where to stay. By that time my well worn ruck sack was lighter than ever as I’d been giving away items I no longer needed. This included my sleeping bag, it had been hot that summer so I didn’t want to carry anything I wasn’t using. KL is a big city and with no more jungles or beaches I really wanted a bed.

I wandered the streets looking for a hostel that looked interesting and most of all had clean bedding I could sink into. I found a place completely covered in plants (almost), there was green foliage all the way to the roof top. At the entrance were people playing chess, reading, chatting and drinking wine straight from bottles, my kind of place.

I walked past the chess drinkathon and made my way upstairs to what I figured must be reception (a lot of people around a small lady who was shouting ‘no room, no room!’)

As I approached the group a girl turned around and smiled at me ‘no spare beds’.  She had a strange American accent, not one I’d heard before.

‘American?’ I asked.

‘Ha! Me? No I’m Swedish, I think I picked up my accent from too many Friends marathons’

It turned out she had no where to stay either. ‘Let’s go search together, they prefer couples over singles here, so you can be my boyfriend’

That was the start of what became one of my most memorable and life changing months in Asia.

Cathrine was on a break from law school, we spent time together in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, where among other things she taught me to think more purposefully (something I hadn’t mastered at the time), as well as how to better recognise a person who wasn’t being genuine (a skill we can never stop learning). I was an engineer and was able to return the favour by teaching her how to repair anything (like the rusty bikes we’d purchased from a random street seller).

Looking back, I was still fairly immature before that time, my new travel buddy definitely had a hand in turning my child mind into an adult mind.

She introduced me to the 48 Laws of Power, an incredible book by Richard Greene. I had never seen anything like it, every page full of history and examples of how others achieved results. Mastering the 48 laws was something that became a fascination for me. Apparently after its release, it was common for law students on the west coast of America to treat it as some kind kind of bible. I didn’t want to be a lawyer but I was keen to learn from history, so it didn’t take me long to realise this book was going to help me figure out how to have a greater impact across my life.

From exposing men posing as people without homes (we caught 2 men at separate times getting into fancy sports cars a few streets away from their begging plot – there were rewards from the police at the time), riding bikes through the lush inner city parks, to helping guide new back packers to the best hostels, we had a blast. By the time we parted in Singapore, her back to San Francisco, me staying for longer to continue reading and exploring, I had been upgraded with a more open mind and a new found thirst for learning.

It was at least 5 years later and the consistent messaging from a friend at EA (who disliked the immoral aspects of the book) before I realised that with great power comes great responsibility. Some of the 48 laws are morally questionable, if not downright manipulative. This is what Cathrine had been teaching me. During our reading of the laws, Cathrine helped me understand that people I meet throughout my life will be using them for or against me, either consciously or unconsciously. Learning and being aware would help me see those trying to hurt me before they could. Seeing those trying to manipulate and take advantage of my kindness (and at times naivety) before it impacted me created huge change in my life, one that I think will last forever, helping me succeed where I’d previously failed.

I could of course use the laws for my own advantage and I did, not something I’m proud of (they work as long as you master them). I do still use my concise copy as a constant reminder, helping me judge a situation, though nowadays I’m simply my true authentic self with everyone. I’ve found it’s the most satisfying and rewarding way to live my life.

End note: A summary of the 48 laws can be found here, it’s worth a read if you’re not familiar:

I must have left my mark on Singapore, they named a street after me!