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Valuing Time

Valuing Time

Our time is precious. Yet as the world speeds up, we seem to have less of it. The problem is that we humans can’t keep up with our machines. These articles are about the challenge to take make the most out of our time.


A workshop to find your inner clay person

A workshop to find your inner clay person

When you work with clay, you step out of time.

There is a connection between your hands, heart and mind, when you begin to work the soft, wet material. As you push your thumbs in, and as it squishes between your fingers, the raw earth transforms your attention. You are drawn into it.

Then forms begin to emerge. The process of moulding, caressing and cajoling the clay to follow your mind’s eye takes you out of clock-time and into a longer moment. It is a way of creating space to breathe and reflect but through an active doing. It’s yoga for the mind.


Make a Bell Person workshop

I helped my partner, Erin, with a clay workshop recently that was part of a team-building day for 40 people that work in a domestic violence support service. They have incredibly challenging work and it was an absolute pleasure to share this time with them.


We hadn’t run a workshop for quite so many people before, so were a little nervous about whether it would work at this scale. Erin introduced the workshop and why it is important. It is more than an exercise with play-dough. It is intended to make a space through which each of them can create an expression of self. A celebration of their life-changing work. And that by connecting with raw materials, and re-connecting with their senses, they can create a deeper relationship with themselves and perhaps with others.

Working with clay is a great process for those of us who find it hard to let go. After we had them make something so as to understand the basic techniques, they got to squish their creation back into a ball. (Now that is the most rewarding form of creative destruction!) Perfectionists soon learn that there is no right or wrong. It’s a trek through an uncharted wilderness with no real knowing what we will find at the other end.

Over the next two hours, everyone giggled and cursed their clay creations to life. Their objective was to create Bell People. These are the little folk that Erin creates as part of her practice. They tend to express the inner murmurings of our emotional landscape. And as physical objects, they provide a means of expression that is richer than can ever be expressed in words. It’s an emergent experience both for the creator – and the Bell Person.

And by the workshop’s end a troupe had emerged. A parade of Bell People, each one adding a new and unique chime to the sounds of Footscray…


You can meet the Bell People for yourself in the following very short animation. And a very big Thank You to everyone at Women’s Health West!

If you are interested in finding out more about Erin’s workshops – you can head over to her website or via instagram @erinswindow.



My cooperative is ikigai

My cooperative is ikigai

So I’m in the ‘other’ demographic – the over-50 category – the one that has only one book-end. My teenage son offered some consolation, “No dad – you are in the 40 to 65 bracket, next comes the Integrity or Despair stage…”

I was introduced to the concept of Ikigai this week. It’s our reason for being.

It’s not a big word. It’s used in everyday conversation in Japan. “My dog is ikigai”, or “Mini-me you-complete-me” (if you are an Austin Powers fan). It is understood as a lived experience where the strands of your being are in harmony.

Being a little prone to extremes, I’ve explored the outer edges of my venn diagram. The “What you can be PAID FOR” is the trickiest to navigate. Money can confuse things.

One of the challenges with a coop is that the mission can dominate. This creates an unsustainable model for many a coop as it assumes that those involved can survive without compensation.

We need our cooperatives to be ikigai.




You don’t pay for my time

I had a colleague once who for a time was the leading lights on the investment banking industry. He was in his early 40’s and was smart and full of confidence. Similar to a lot of his caste, his sense of the public good was tied to his power not in giving.

As a banker at the height of his game, he attracted customers like moths to a flame. It helped that he was in the real estate financing business and this was in the lead up to the GFC. As it turned out, he was instrumental in creating some of Australia’s biggest financial disasters that were to come, though he would never be held accountable.

So I remember in this one meeting with a property development company that was eager to float into the all too hungry oceans of investor capital. They had been granted an audience with my colleague who had sat quietly through their presentation whrre their sought to explain what they wanted to do. At the end, he approached the white board, drew three boxes and a couple of arrows and then explained how one plus one could equal three. This was the strategy he would recommend. And with that he finished with the line “You don’t pay for my time. You pay for my expertise.”

Now that is a very simple way of saying I’m bloody expensive. But is it actually accurate. After all, time is ultimately all we have to sell – particularly, when you are an investment banker who doesn’t physically produce anything tangible. It’s bothered me ever since. What was he actually saying?

My take on it was about positioning. His time was so precious that it looked damned silly as an hourly rate. He was creating scarcity around his brand. He had collected expertise and more importantly a network that he could call on to execute the transactions that could deliver them their dream outcome. He only needed 2 or 3 clients cause they were elephants that were totally aligned with him – they made more money, the more money they raised.

It’s a clever approach for a consultant, or anyone in the business of selling their time rather than a product (that could well be an asset created by an investment of their time). Professional sportsmen are faced with the same challenge. Their sunk costs are into themselves, they and their parents have invested years in creating their performance edge. And they are so acutely aware that their time at the top is finite.

One of the benefits of our social media age is that democratization of personal brands. With control of entertainment and information flows having been lost to the masses, the ability of just about anyone to rise up from the cacophony has been made possible. Not that it makes it any easier. The competition for attention has also been amplified by a factor of a large number.

This is the reason people like Seth Godin are so strong on recommending that you focus on your tribe- that group of people outside of your family and friends that will like your story. The more narrowly defined your tribe, the more likely that you can hone your message to resonate with them. It’s the same way that Kevin Kelly arrived at the conclusion that all you need is 1000 true believers to make a living.

So the lesson is if you are in the business of selling your time – which inescapably we all are. Then you better start by focusing on selling your message to a well defined audience. The tighter the framing, the more likely that you can tailor it to their needs. So much the better if that audience has very deep pockets, or in the case of my banker buddy, access to truckloads of other people’s money.