Mon 10 – Sun 16 Oct
Getting my work hours right
So I am now working only 2.5 days p.w. and the pressure is on to make that a reality (sounds a bit like the crap ‘Brexit means Brexit’ with no-one actually knowing what that really means). The first week of my lesser hours and my first week back after time off as well as the launch of our new Tech for Good grants programme made it inevitable that this would be a messy one. My cunning strategy is for my work days to be Tues and Fri plus Wed afternoon. Didn’t work out like that at all for last week as I was working everyday Mon-Thurs. Though not always full days with much being out and about. Although things look a lot better next week onwards. But this intense period was redeemed by Fri and the weekend when I simply took time out and very productive it was too.
Trying to get a catch
The whole week was centred around pushing news about our upcoming Tech for Good programme (apply here!) through various means especially tweets and direct liaison with people I know would be interested. I’ve also been trying to get various media outlets interested but they are not biting.
Mon’s unexpectedly good conference call
In the office two out of the four work days last week – Mon and Wed though not full days both times.
Mon had a catch up with the boss then a conference call dealing deal with questions from potential suppliers around research on ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa that enable tech for good / social tech to happen and develop. It was a conf call involving about 12 people which I thought would not work but actually it did so very well. I do think we have a natural aversion to meetings that are not face-to-face. Obviously you lose body language but it is still possible to get lots done simply using vocabulary and tone. And video conferencing does give the all important image.
Mum is dog-sitting
I also had a catch up with colleague working at another big funder looking to do more work around funding tech. Then off to the Royal Festival Hall for a 1:1 catch-up (see below). Mon night was spent with mum as I won’t be seeing her for couple of weeks. She was going off to care for my brother’s dog at the flat where my brother and his partner live whilst they fly out to Mexico for a holiday (lucky sods).
Back in the office on Wed after the gym and 1:1 with Luisa – see below. Had a catch-up with a colleague about the work we are each doing. Very useful to pick her brain as she used to live in Africa. I am still considering how our International Tech for Good push will roll out best in sub-Saharan Africa next year. Then had a catch up call with a potential applicant to the UK Tech for Good programme. This was followed by the meeting of the programmes team, the people who actually manage the projects we fund.
Visit to Stoke Wavemaker
Tues trip to Stoke to meet up with Wavemaker. This is the project being funded by us and Nominet Trust to establish a digital exploration and creation centre for young people. It’s a classic case study for a start-up social enterprise. Going good but clear issues around how to balance social aims with what brings in the money, how far to be open and welcoming to everybody, and getting to sustainability especially through sweating assets often when that takes you into challenging spaces. Good journey both ways apart from the WiFi. I always forget how crap Virgin Trains WiFi can be. Good on the way back despite the train being very crowded after Milton Keynes. Fewer people on train going up but a crap connection. Wonder if it was better coming back as I was in the carriage next to First Class?
It’s good when funders work together
Thurs most of my time was taken up with attending the briefing on Nominet Trust’s (NT) new Social Tech Seed Fund. Our Tech for Good fund is running alongside this in order to ensure the funding of the biggest number possible of Tech for Good / Social Tech projects. Should be about 20 grants in total issued by both of us. A great example of funders working together. And we play to each other’s position – we can only fund not-for-profits whereas NT are more flexible and whilst they want to fund scaling of an existing prototype we are looking to fund anywhere on the digital journey leading to better services for beneficiaries. The presentation was mainly about STSF but I got an opportunity to talk about TfG and chat with potential applicants. I do genuinely enjoy working with my colleagues at NT.
The great work of Apps for Good
Thurs evening I had been invited to a do for trustees and friends / partners of Apps for Good. It was at a trustee’s house only about 20 mins from mum’s flat. So I slept there afterwards although mum was away. Drinks and meeting staff and trustees from Apps for Good as well as other partners particularly corporate ones who support the brilliant Apps for Good Awards. A presentation by the young people who created My World of Atoms app. Then a stand up buffet dinner and speeches. I am very pleased that I was able to fund Apps for Good focusing their work in schools to challenge sexism and try to address the huge gender imbalance in tech. Central in their work is getting more female role models to go into schools and inspire girls to consider careers in tech.
Three great 1:1 catch-ups
Three times last week when I had catch-ups with individuals. All sort of work related but also the people are my friends so it was as much a pleasure as anything.
- Mon: Catch-up coffee on South Bank with brilliant Mark Brown. Partly for pleasure but also to talk tech including the stuff he’s been developing in work with m-habitat – an outfit in Leeds linked to the NHS promoting the potential for tech in healthcare.
- Tues: Meeting with Pat in Stoke. We worked together at Church Urban Fund and had not seen each other for about 12 years. Both very similar still and it felt like we had not seen each other for a couple of weeks rather than over a decade.
- Wed: Meeting with Luisa. I originally met her when she was working at a project seeking funding. Now she is finishing maternity leave and looking to go into grant-making. So she was asking my advice. Things I recommended to her and to everyone who asks about this
- Make sure you are looking at the right websites for vacancies i.e. ACF, London Funders, Guardian, agencies
- Become a trustee of a foundation to get experience
- Similarly to get experience, volunteer at a foundation or do freelance work for one such as around assessing applicants
- Sign up to relevant e-bulletins to keep up to date and follow the right people on social media
This was my first day of the week with no work. Unfortunately I watched BBC Question Time the night before which was as depressing as ever with people shouting at each other. Bed around 11.30 and I set the alarm for 6.30 to go to the gym. Switched off the alarm and fell back to sleep waking at around 7.30. So I decided to have a chill day. Coffee and a pastry then spent the morning walking to Dave’s flat. A useful long purposeful walk with lots of coffee and visits to some charity shops including finding a rare Dr Who book. Also popped into the pooter shop persuading myself to buy a new chromebook – smaller, lighter, and better display than my very well-used current one. Afternoon I thought about going to Tate Modern to use a complimentary ticket Dave had for the Georgia O’Keefe exhibition. But decided to spend it playing with my new pooter. Dave was tied up in an event outside London and did not get home till about 9pm. I was knacked in a good way after a very pleasant day and went to bed around 10pm.
And then the blessed weekend arrived
Sat and Sun were also great. My excellent jog-run on Sat and then the gym on Sun mornings – details below. Sat was followed by coffee, reading, pootering, listening to the radio, and checking out charity shops. I spent a lot of time getting on top of emails (personal and work) which inevitably makes my life feel easier. My constant battle to be on top of my emails. But I also spent time on DuoLingo and I am pleased to say I’m back to doing it everyday including Portuguese basics. And I am back doing regular Code Academy sessions. Plus I’ve started doing some basic programming on Khan Academy – a highly recommended learning website. Lots of walking and a nice catch-up lunch with Dave on Sun. Early-ish nights (10pm) and some decent TV particularly Strictly. How unexpectedly amusing is Ed Balls?
Health and efficiency
Only twice last week because of the domination by work. Managed first to get to gym on Wed morning. A good workout including doing 5km on the rowing machine which took just over 22 mins. Then on Sun, the day after a good jog-run, another gym session. I was very pleased that I had done my jog-run on Sat as it was pouring down as I walked to the gym. I’m in the season now where I need to check the weather forecasts to ensure I do my jog-runs on the best weather days. At the gym I concentrated on gentle leg exercises as my legs were aching. Plus core and upper body work. No rowing machine due the intensive cardio the day before.
Up on Sat and for a quick warm up coffee then I did my jog-run. It went really well. My longest distance ever and a decent time/pace. I was aiming for 7.5 km but felt OK so pushed it a bit more. My plan is 8 km next week. I’ve still got the ambition of by the end of the year of 10 km in under one hour.
Best ever Jog-run! pic.twitter.com/Ac0BChu71N
— Billy Dann (@BillyDann1) October 15, 2016
Books and reading
I am ploughing on with my strategy of reading two books at once. It’s actually very rewarding and nice to compare and contrast them as they are very different. This blog is long enough, so I have decided to do a separate blog on the two books and the Dr Who audio adventures I have been listening to. Please feel free to have a read.