Lockdown Week 2

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John McClarey Lockdown Week 2 Blog

This is my second week of government-imposed lockdown due to the global COVID-19 outbreak. I keep a daily grasp on the world figures and have been shocked at the rate of growth in the spread of the virus now passing the 1 million infected cases. I’ve been working on remaining positive and trying to come up with innovative ways in which my business can demonstrate resilience while navigating these unchartered waters. It’s not easy. I have been keeping physically active and every morning apart from Tuesday I have ran 3.5 miles with my dog, Molly. It’s a great start to the day even if i have been slower getting out of bed than I normally am. Some varying times but delighted on Friday to break the 27minute mark clocking a time of 26minutes and 59seconds, this was largely helped by Molly’s quick poo on mile 1! I’ve been missing my Monday night football match but we managed to retain some level of normality by foraging Turkey from the local circumstance so we could have our Monday night Turkey stir fry. It seems trivial but it was a nice leveller that the initial food panic buying was as shortlived as one would hope in a developed modern society. This week has seen me develop an appetite for gaining knowledge and a genuine thirst for self-development which I hope isn’t short-lived. My mood has been pretty level and I am grateful to have found a good book to keep me sane during the lockdown, Rhonda Byrne’s The Magic it’s the follow on book from the Secret and has encouraged me to be more grateful for the things I have and enjoy in my life, breaking each chapter down into daily exercises to be read on the day I am thankful I don’t have to read the whole book in a oner and the bite-size chunks have been something I look forward to before morning prayers. I am also continuing to read Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari which is a thought-provoking look at what the future might hold for us. The book has exposed my flaws in computer basics and the language used by machines. I found a three day Bootcamp on twitter to learn the introduction to coding and I spend my Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings online on their webinars. I found the course really interesting and had a genuine sense of pride and achievement when I crossed the line late on Frida night. Day 1 was spent learning the very basics of HTML (hypertext Markup Language) which defines the content of a website and I managed to complete the homework as well as I could. Day 2 was an introduction to CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) which describes how content should look and the day expanded to the homework of creating our first profile portfolio which has inspired me to write this blog. I also started an online module by a Scandanavian open source course on the Elements of AI. Again its a basic understanding of Artificial Intelligence, a term that is widely read about and not one I fully understand. I’ve committed to learning a module a day and managed to even do a module on Saturday and Sunday, chapter 1 is now completed and I await the results of my homework submission which challenged me to come up with my own definition of AI. I’ll spare you my ramblings on it but suspect I may put a blog up about this at a later date. Work has been tough, distractions are very high but I have found scheduling my time has been a useful tool to revert back to, I listened to a webinar by futurist Theo Priestley and one of my favourite takeaways from that was his reference to a famous quote “work expands to fill the time available for completion” and that “I don’t need time I need a deadline!”. I thought this were interesting quotes and hope they have managed to focus my efforts. On the deadline front I created a soft deadline of Friday for clients to submit entries into our first Business Esports event and the hard deadline is now being set at 12 noon on Monday. Entries are trickling in and it looks like we should have between 12 and 16 teams taking part in our online Charity Fifa tournament with the winners taking away a £500 donation for their local NHS Foundation Trust. The format for this is a lot more drawn out and longwinded than we are used to but it’s interesting to test new models and innovations as we move into the new normal. I keep receiving daily updates on the financial advice and support available from the government for businesses to survive these challenging times and made the decision after serious consideration to discuss the possibility of furlough with my staff. The consultation started on week 1 of lockdown and I encouraged them to read more about the scheme. it’s the only scheme available to help small businesses like ours in the industry and my legal obligation as a director to act in the best interest of the company guides me to my decision as I furlough myself and my employees all on 100% of salary. Taking some time out for personal development and training courses is a unique opportunity and I am using the time out of the business to upskill myself in the hope of coming up with some new business ideas, developing business ideas that I have had in the past and looking to come out of the other side of this human crisis with renewed hope and vigour for success. as our current business model depends entirely on social interaction the virus has exposed significant loopholes in our current business model and I’m looking to seal these leaks and create new solutions to modern problems. I figure if I can get myself into a headspace that is looking forward to the future I have a better opportunity of predicting trends and potential market opportunities for a new business to move into. Watch this space. Friday is mainly spent at the Whale volunteering to help vulnerable members of the West Edinburgh community enjoy a hot meal, the service has moved to a takeaway only since 3 weeks ago and I’ve lent my support to it in a small way. This Friday was the first day of delivery service and was the first time I’ve seen the chef stressed. demand was up and the kitchen was busy, for a brief period I lend a hand and utilise my old Kitchen Porter skills which reminded me of inbuilt work ethic, surely if I work hard another business opportunity will present itself I think. The delivery jobs were interesting, people were extremely grateful and my heart swells as I drive away thinking of people who cannot escape their houses and living in relative poverty, crazy to think this still happens in a developed nation such as this. I then had to navigate Tesco for the weekly shop and think how lucky I am to be able to afford to this. The queue is out the door and they’ve adopted a single direction of travel policy, I found the whole experience odd, unsettling and stressful. I returned to my laptop that afternoon to a host of positive emails from clients and connections interested in taking part in Business Esports, a renewed hope for something that could actually expand into a commercial entity. I forgot to mention Thursday’s clap for NHS, my wife and I joined others in our street outside to show our appreciation of the wonderful work they are doing just now and wish them success in continuing the front line fight against coronavirus in the days, weeks and months ahead. I also leave out some chocolates and cans of coke for the binmen on Friday morning and hope they too recognise our appreciation for their work during this challenging time, indeed any key worker, retail, health profession, financial advisor or otherwise. Keep up the good work.


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