The HR Juggler

Day 20: Imaginary Start-Finish Lines in Space, Getting Lucky, Trust and Friendship

Posted on: December 20, 2011

Is it me or are the titles of these posts becoming ever longer? Perhaps a festive challenge to add any of my own text on the tweets I send out ;).

Today’s post is written by the wonderful Tony Allinson, who always makes me smile. A valued and prolific commenter on the blogs of others, it is brilliant to have him guest-posting on the horrors and highlights of his year. You can connect with Tony on Twitter (@allinsona).


Generally, the annual rhythm is really useful for planning and taking stock. Sometimes the imaginary start-finish line in space that happens to be 31st Dec is in the wrong place though. For this post I need to move it back by a couple of months, so my lap of the sun starts at the end of October 2010. I really am quite useless at following rules, never play me at cards.

As an aside, accountants make me smile, I don’t know how they cope! A planning cycle based on the relative mass of the earth and the sun is a hilariously arbitrary way to determine how far ahead I can meaningfully plan budgets, projects, recruitment and often, in a typically Anglo-Saxon way, be expected to commit to a return. I was once asked in January what the names of the people I was going to recruit in December would be. I wish I was kidding 🙂

Anyway, for the lap of the sun that ran from Oct 2010 to Oct 2011, I am already in the pits wearing a hideous corporate cap, have endured the banal press conference (aka the appraisal process), sticky and uncomfortable having poured champagne down the neck of my overalls (in arrogant anticipation of an ill deserved bonus).

I could go on at some length about why I have had such a positive year at work but I will spare you, save for the green lights, the checkered flag and the point of it all.

The green lights started to go on in October 2010 when an excellent agent and consultant I have known for a few years called me. He was just doing his job, but I was doing something I truly hated so his call was very welcome. Hate isn’t a word I use a lot, but I was practically allergic to what I was doing. It was a role where the answer was always the same, always incomplete and always done to, not with people. At the end of my lap I am doing something I really enjoy, with people I like, in a business that is growing. We face challenges, but of the sort we can rationally address. Lucky me. Really, lucky me.

My new role, and I still think of it as new after 10 months, is a full on mix of Technology, HR, Finance, Sales, Marketing, Procurement, Product Management and Customer Service which involves working with people all over the world. It is tough at times, but I get to get things done, and the people I work with want them to get done. I am mostly not doing anything to anyone anymore.

As the lap ended and a new one began, I was just starting a new project in an area I know little about (customer service). I had gathered people from across the organisation who do similar things but who had in some cases never heard of each other, let alone met, to start working out how we might do it better. I was quite worried about the call. As usual, I assumed I would get found out. The reality is that the rational, forward looking people I work with know that the greatest risk is ending up with a case of corporate measles, with locations, systems, processes, knowledge and people scattered all over the world. A little bit of work now and we can spare ourselves from a lot of stress downstream. A case of constructive laziness via a word I really do like, anticipation but best of all, new friends.

So what’s the point?

There are two. First, obviously someone bet me that I couldn’t write a post that included accounting, motor racing, dieting and astronomy (not really, it just came out this way). The second more serious point is that in the long run, you make your own luck. Of all the ways to get lucky, in addition to practice, building and maintaining trust and respect with people is immensely powerful. Gaining a very few awesome friends on the way is the amazing and priceless result.

The phone call I got last October came through a combination of a couple of these relationships, and that vital few supported me through what was a very difficult period in my professional life without being asked. They each also told me the things I didn’t want to hear which is what real friends do.

On the downside I have developed a mid Atlantic accent, I actually said, “from the get go” in a meeting yesterday without a hint of irony, and have spent so much time in hotels that I am still some way from my long unattained weight target. See , there are no prizes for spotting when I worked in Livingston. While that particular finish line is still a few weeks away, I don’t fancy my chances, but at least I win my bet.

Finally, thanks to Alison for her thought provoking blog and for having me as her guest. Thanks also to Flora Marriott for the joyful tweet that this is based on. Happy Christmas, and I wish everyone well on the next lap, whenever it starts for you.

2 Responses to "Day 20: Imaginary Start-Finish Lines in Space, Getting Lucky, Trust and Friendship"

Hey Tony, loved the review of your year. How great that your job is a mix of such a lot of different areas – its so healthy to work beyond the silos. I’m worried about the mid Atlantic accent though.

For reasons of personal integrity I ought to update the graph. It doesn’t reflect my week in Minneapolis (seemingly twinned with Livinston) last week.

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