Amazon’s arrival

amazon

Amazon executives have been quoted saying (paywall) it’s mission for arriving in Australia is to “destroy the retail environment in Australia”.

But is it really?

We have seen disruption here before. Uber has changed the way we think about car services, about regulation for taxis and chauffeur services.

Airbnb has changed the way we look at accommodation, other like couch surfer change how we see a spare room.

Streaming services like Netflix have changed the way we use the television in our lounge room.

These have changed the way the traditional business models work, taxi companies have to become more responsive to customer needs, accommodation providers need to provide a more rounded service.

Interesting isn’t it that these disruptive businesses are not focusing on themselves but on the customer (and in many cases the provider of the goods or service – the new small business operator). These services have only achieved success because they are answering a need and doing it better than the traditional.

Customer service has become the focus.

Sure it is still about being profitable all businesses are about being profitable, otherwise you might as well just give stuff away.

The distribution model Amazon uses and its’ sheer size and ability to move stock, is actually an opportunity for Australia’s small retail businesses to reach bigger audiences.

I know of many Australian retailers who are operating on sites such as ebay. Why build an e-commerce site when you can use the power and exposure provided by an established site like ebay? The same could apply to Amazon through it’s Vendor or Seller Central channels.

Content 26 has a great article detailing the difference between these options. Producers or manufacturers can sell to Amazon (become direct suppliers) or a retailer can be partner with the online giant and supply the products or services via the Amazon portal. Similar in many ways to how they operate on ebay.

But it’s not only joining the cult of Amazon that can work in small retailers favour.

The biggest risk to Amazon and greatest opportunity for small business is distribution. Australia is a big country with a small population. Fast delivery is only possible in the big cities, and probably only some or part thereof. The demand for product today, right now will remain. The small shopping centre or specialist retailer can still provided that product or service to their local consumers.

The issue isn’t what impact Amazon will have, it needs to be what changes will Australian retailers make.

The taxi industry moved too slowly to provide the sleek, customer focus experience Uber delivered.

Many smaller accommodation providers shifted or adapted to Airbnb’s model, the larger operators shifted focus to corporate and conference markets.

Free-to-air television have embraced Freeview and provide many streaming options, ABC iView is still the best IMHO,

What will retail do in reaction to this?

Will we see more of Gerry Harvey on the pulp current affair show, beating his brow and lamenting on the disruption to his industry. Will we see Australian retailers refocus and come back to providing the core needs of the consumer?

What are your thoughts?

Although not here yet you can get some information on selling your products or selling as a business/individual on Amazon.

Originally posted on LinkedIn 

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Amanda Palmer – 2 March 2017

To some it might seem a surprise to say I had never seen Amanda Palmer live before, or that I really only have one of her albums (and an early Dresden Dolls one at that The Dresden Dolls). It wouldn’t surprise them that I found out about her from her relationship with Neil Gaiman. However, that was the second of three unrelated segues that lead me to following and ultimately seeing her live at the Gasometer in Collingwood.

The first time I saw Amanda was on an ABC music quiz show – you know the one Spicks and Specs, or it may have been one of former (or current) DAAS members, Paul McDermott’s game show(s). Either way it was her wildness that caught me. I think she mounted the desk and may have gyrated at either Paul or Adam Hills or another contestant. She may even have played the ukulele, it didn’t matter. I thought she was a fun addition to the show or shows. She was a strange American, who was a little out there and while it burned in my memory, I never did anything more than notice if she reappeared on a show and I could make a mental note to watch it.

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The second was the aforementioned inclusion of her name in Neil’s tweets, or his blog or whatever.  At first it was passing interest, oh look an author I like is in a new relationship, isn’t that nice. It had no bearing on anything else until I worked out it was the same person who appeared on those shows. Small world hey!

The third time the universe sent me the message that maybe, maybe I should take more interest in Amanda was her book. The Art of Asking. By this stage I was following her on at least one form of Social Media – she was after all a significant person in Neil’s life and besides she posted more than he did and hey I thought she was fun. I had seen her journey in writing the book, at the least the one she displayed to the World via tweets or instagram images. I didn’t really think it was something I would be interested in – at this stage I didn’t even have The Dresden Dolls yet. But something about the idea of the book caught me.

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Then my wife suggested I buy a book from Audible as she had a credit on the account (we share an account) and The Art of Asking was somewhere on the front page or a suggestion list or maybe I actually searched for it. Whatever lead me to it, I bought it and suddenly Amanda was my companion to my daily commute.

The Art of Asking is a bigger post than I want to write right now, I have touch on it before in 2014, and I will again I am sure.

So waiting in the intimate performance space that is the open courtyard of the Gasometer (it may be the dinning area in a normal day – I am not sure) I thought back to how I even ended up here, how I ended up buying tickets one night because of a tweet or post about the shows from Amanda. How I hadn’t even brushed up on any more of her music.

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Amanda first sat were the “International” sign is above (note this is NOT Amanda’s gig)

I was taking a gamble, it was a risk to come and see her show. Our nights out are limited and scarce. Not only do we need to budget for the cost of the thing, dinner drinks and all, but we need to include the cost and availability of a babysitting. It’s a big effort and one we usually have to move a lot to achieve. Yet here we were, a night out to see a show from a performer I knew was great but I didn’t have a strong connection to.

In saying that I have seen plenty of performers, bands and musicians I knew NOTHING about – like I literally knew not a single song! It wasn’t that it was the fact that a rare night out together with my wife was hanging on the fine string of we thought we would kinda like her show and music.

We were not disappointed.

From the moment Amanda appeared on the mezzanine level, equipped with her ukulele, as she mounted the railing/shelf propping herself against the wall and spoke, we were captured.

“I will do a request show” she announced. “Mostly because I am tired and thought this would be easier… of course I now have to remember songs that I don’t play often, so in hindsight this might be a harder show than usual” – or something to that affect.

Then she started with the first request, then moving around the mezzanine she sang Map of Tasmania, with her crotch perfectly place above ‘selfie guy’ – a more apt position could not have been planned. We joined in to support her vocals, “Oh my god…” you get it!

<Insert image from the selfie guy – IF I ever find it online… come on selfie guy post the damn image>

The she sang New Zealand  basically above us on the stair way. It was marvellous and so good to be able to see her up close as she talked to us her audience. We truly felt par to of the show – it added to it that we were choosing the songs!

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Action shot of @amandapalmer

A post shared by rothtar (@rothtar) on

Moving some more she did her first cover Fake Plastic Trees, from Radiohead, it was such a great slow cover version. Added to the experience it was a song I really knew… Did I mention she was standing on a chair at this point – basically singing to the requester.

She went on to also cover Paul Kelly as one of her favourite Australian singer/songwriter.

It was after this she moved from the floor and joined her keyboard on stage, to become wired for sound.

It was at that moment I realised that she had been performing to this small crowd of about 100 with no amplification, not her voice or her ukulele. The crowd sang along (and I did to Fake Plastic Trees) but we were respectful of her voice. We didn’t drown out Amanda (even though there were only 100 or so of us, we could have), the crowd respected the artist and the artist respected us. Amanda walked though and amongst us, and through that brought us into the show. Not only in the requests but also by connecting with us, a glance, a smile or a leg over a railing to arc our head with her crotch. Her fearlessness was also a connection between us and her, the performance and the audience.

Once on the keyboard Amanda stepped it up a pace (or three) with some thundering songs like The Killing Type or Girl Anachronism. She still talked to us between songs, asking for requests, abandoning a few and discussing where the song came from or to stall for time as her mind dug up the chords or lyrics.

Amanda’s songs are stories, stories change over time, the author’s original intent adjusts, or the to reader (listener) own overlaid experiences. This show was very different to my usual gig experience. This was not an over produced cookie-cut show. This was raw, unique, an experience we shared with the audience.

One moment stands out where I stepped out of the hive mind and turned to Anji and I shared a knowing look. Amanda was singing A Mother’s Confession. I believe that almost every parent can relate to at least one or more of the incidents she sings about.

It was that kind of show.

I also remember thinking, especially when she did the couple of covers, about called out for a Cure song. I didn’t, I felt I didn’t deserve to over-rule the more die hard fans, the ones who knew all the lyrics or even the titles to the songs she was singing. However, it was right at the moment, the night was getting on, we needed to get back for the babysitter and I took a chance to go to the bathroom before the drive home. It was then, as I stood at the urinal, she spoke about one of her favourite bands and played the first few bars of Lovecats (here is a cover of In Between Days). My only blessing from that was that the venue was so small I heard everything perfectly clear in the bathroom, was wish I had called out for a Cure song instead of biting it back.

To sum up the show as a collaborative journey with lots of small eddies where you could be yourself, or step into your small tribe.

Amanda admits that she doesn’t necessarily write her songs in a firm structure – just a basic melody with some core chords that can ebb and flow. It certainly suits her, and to me at least from both the recorded versions I have listened to and the show I experienced last Thursday, it suits the experience that is Amanda Fucking Palmer.

2017 and beyond

So we are now well into 2017 and while I’m not doing this as a New Year resolution, it might have a similar theme.

First lets start with work. I was given an opportunity to look at what my team does and try to align it with another team, growing that team and improving the overall promotional power of the company. All good.

I drafted some notes and after a couple of meetings with CEO and Directors we came up with a amalgam of the two teams. Moving some people around, adjusting functions etc. Over all this meant that my position was not longer ‘high’ enough in the ranking to lead this team. Thus my position has been made redundant.

Yes I worked myself out of a job.

However, I do have an opportunity to apply for the new role, and indeed I am!

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Thing with working as a public servant I can’t just be ‘given’ the new role I have to apply and thanks (at least in part) to the Union it is advertised externally. Fan-friken-tastic!

So the end of last year and beginning of this I have been working on my resume and getting all my ducks lined up to apply for what is essentially my own job. Joy!

This got me thinking about my future both with this organisation and in the public service in total. I’m not thinking about moving on just yet, I mean I may be forced to if I don’t have a job, but it’s a thought in the back of my mind at least.

So positives (because you should always look at them and give them more credence than any of that negative shit) I have a kick-arse resume and I know I have put my all into this application so if I don’t get it, it’s NOT my fault.

[So if anyone is looking for an Economic Development Manager, Tourism Manager or Promotions/Marketing guy… let me know!]

In the summer break, well break from kids as the in-laws kept them for the two weeks (yes I know we are lucky) I rediscovered painting miniatures and have setup my computer desk to double as a painting space – simply move keyboard and mouse and I can paint away… then move painting to other end and up on boxes out of reach of little fingers to dry.

It’s something I can do anytime I want without needing anything more than what I have.

The time also allowed me to clean up my gear, throw away old stuff and make sure it all works and is accessible.

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My first real attempt in an age – Eldar (Space Elf)

I was also lucky enough to get my Dad’s old Dremel, he is not doing much handy work anymore and it was gathering dust in his shed. I plan to do some model working with it shortly – just need to paint the minis to go in the scene… something from Lord of the Rings me thinks!

Speak of which my parent celebrated their 50 Wedding Anniversary, it was great to be there in our recent trip for Christmas.

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Mum and Dad at their Wedding Anniversary lunch

The clean up of my corner space (my “Man-corner” if you will) allowed me to check out the shame guitar – the one I have put off finishing for so long. I clean it up and have moved it out of the dark and into the light.

Not sure if that is to shame me into finally getting the tuning pegs and finish the bloody thing. But it sure reminded me how nice it looks… and it is a shame it isn’t getting used even if that use is by a wannabe guitarist drummer like me!

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Really can’t wait to hear this baby…

The only thing that is holding me back with this is the cost of the tuners (and the fear I will stuff up the drilling and installation. So yeah… send money, a steady hand and confidence please!

Holiday.

It might be a dream at this stage, especially with the work situation, but we all need a good break away, a family adventure.

We have found the place to test our family ability to fly and travel in a foreign place.

Can you guess?

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Oh yes we are off to Hobbiton (and some other random places in New Zealand). I would like to try it in a motorhome !!! But that might be taking it all one step too far!

So there you have it, some of the things I am going to try to do this calendar year (some quicker than others and some more than once!)

As I said not a resolution more a plan.

Device Agnostic

I realised the other day that I am a device agnostic.

Or should it be called technologically diverse?

In any case I was driving between meetings and looked down at the passenger seat. ON it lay my personal phone – a Windows Lumia 950, my work phone – a Samsung J7, and my work iPad 4. I was covering all the major mobile computing operating systems.

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Lumia 950 – Windows 10
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Samsung J7 – Andrios
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iPad – iOS

On top of that I have a Chromebook (from which I am writing this) and a PC running Windows 10 at home. The only system I am missing is a Mac… but having one of those would be silly right?

Well maybe not.

To me, as a consumer, each of these devices, and the operating environments, offer me different alternatives.

I bought the Windows Phone as it has a great camera and does the majority of things I need a phone to do. It also came with an Xbox One which was an added bonus. This OS integrates with my home PC so it’s easy to sync data from one to the other.

My home PC is setup as a gaming rig as well handling all the other necessary ‘home’ related computer stuff, like streaming video and images to the TV via the Xbox, or surfing the web, or for Anji to run her business and the girls to do homework or play videos. We use it to store and upload out photos to our Google drive and more.

The Chromebook is light, it’s fast to load and does an amazing amount of stuff for what is essentially a web browser in a notebook. It is not for playing games but for doing stuff on the fly or web browsing or writing blog posts in the field.

For work, the Samsung Android device is easy to use for the basic on the fly emails, calendar and even some limited web browsing. It also acts as a phone really well! Which truth be told is the second main reason I have one – email and phone calls!

The iPad picks up the larger scale work stuff and is perfect for in the field details when talking with clients. We can show web stuff, PDF’s and other images, get surveys completed and take notes or email back data. We are getting laptops soon so that will help even more and allow me to do more in the field…

It falls apart with Cloud storage. I choose what platform I want to use to store data, be that a Windows server for my work email or Gmail for personal. I could have cloud storage on iCloud, One Drive, Dropbox or Google Drive. Yet the manufactures of these devices want me to lock into their particular brand. I get that to a certain extent however I am not alone in having multiple operating systems.

I use my Google Drive across all of these, aside from the Windows Phone, and that’s the issue.

I am the user, the one who interacts with these devices each and every day.

Nor is there anything wrong with me having a range of devices – however the sooner they allow me to access all I want across all of them the better the world will be. Or else we become slaves to the one system, the one way of doing things.

Mobility means we can shift our digital world to be anywhere. It comes with us as we travel for work or for play. It should also come with us as we travel between devices and operating systems.

At least that’s in my opinion…

 

Day one Nanowrimo

nanowrimo

So I started, which I guess is the only way to begin.

1,000 words was my goal for each day – I’m not aiming to write that novel in my first real attempt. I have a few short story ideas that need to be put to bed – aka finished! Or at least explored enough to say they are dead and gone.

Today I worked on a science fiction piece, which mixes politics, family disaster, war and biology into a tragedy where the main character needs to make some decisions and finds out the truth to his past… At least that’s how I have it in mind for the moment.

The 1,00 words today extended the story to just over 4,000 words in total. I have a feeling the end result will be around the 10k mark (maybe more maybe less it depends)…

I plan to let this draft sit for a while and move on to some other ideas until I come back to edit and fix any error etc.

This way I might be able to get 2 or 3 short stories banged out in November and get me into the habit of writing more regularly…

I’ll post back sometime into the month and see how I am going.

Imperium City

In order to keep my creative juices flowing a friend sent me the image below (artist linked in the image) and asked me to write 10 sentences to describe the image.

Well I wrote 10… ideas, some of them grew to be more than a sentence. Some might turn into stories themselves…

Anyway in preparation for Nanowrimo I wanted to post this and we will see if they will become more than the short glimpse they are now or whether the idea will bloom and grow into something.

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They call it the dark zone, as if there was no light down here, it was true there was never any sunlight, yet I never knew a time when there was no light.

Maybe fifty years ago the Ressha was ‘whisper quiet’ like the faded advert said, yet Tarquin always wore his headphone on the commute from work.

The hotel was nestled amongst a jumbled assortment of bars, clubs and strip joints, Jamison knew they would not look for him here, he paid cash and headed to blissful oblivion.

Imperium City. Indistinguishable from the any part of this continent. Another five blocks of different colour wearing thugs. A temporary home to drink and forget.

Jonas grinned wild and wide. The bustle of the street flowed around him as he stared in wonder at the lights, sounds and movement around him. The cab drove off, its engine’s buzz adding to and becoming one with sounds around him. Stirring from his wonder Jonas turned to find a way into Peter’s apartment.

She watched him as he hurried down the near deserted street, his eyes wide in fear. He turned and she saw the line of blood on his shirt where the arc of spray had ended. She had dropped her guard on the first one, had been distracted by the thrill of the kill. Yet she was amazed how easily she had caught up, how easy it will be to take him. She smiled again, and stepped out of the shadows. She would take her time with this one. She would feast long and slow.

“I.. I.. I got n.. n.. n.. nothing” stammered the drunk “I.. I .. GOT NOTHING!” yelling to everyone and no-one. Travis watched for a moment as the drunk stumbled and bounced off the wall of the alley. His mutterings slowing fading as the darkness of the alley closed in. Travis turned to the camera held by his assistant. “I know we can’t help everyone, but I will make it my mission, if elected, to help those we can”. His pale blue eyes sympathetic in the harsh LED light. “And done” said the assistant with a grin only a 20-something-recent-graduate can muster. “Coffee?” “Sure, my shout”. Travis looked back down the alley thinking of some way to rid his city of the filth.

It pulsed with the traffic the hum of lights and whirls of colour flashed and flared. The competing sounds from the open doored clubs merged and flowed into the street. The suited people morphed into night mode with less cloth and more stumbles. This place never slept, the movement never ceased. The city fed off the people casting them free only as dry empty husks.

Ten thousand credits. Ten thousand credits. The thought thundered through Bevan’s mind. What would he do with that much? He smiled and slipped another cred into the slot. Maybe this time. He thought. Maybe this time.

“Another quiet run.” Simone said to her co-pilot. “Affirmative” replied the neutral flat voice. Simone enjoyed the android’s minimal conversation, it allowed her to concentrate on her instrument panel. Unlike a few of her peers Simone trusted her co-pilot to the scanner. “Operative 576 identified at 40 degrees to port” the calm unemotional voice said. Simone slowed and turned the craft to the new heading. “Target is locked, confirm fire order”. “Confirm civilians are clear” Simone ordered. “Negative” came the response. “Track and wait” Simone countered the fire protocols, “Request ground forces, we are going to be the eyes for this one.” A pause. Simone saw the communication indicator light up and die. “Affirmative orders confirmed and ground crew dispatched”. Simone kept the craft aligned with the target, allowing her co-pilot to guide the ground forces in to capture position. All the while a nagging thought picked away at the back of her mind, what if the co-pilot had refused to wait, what if it had fired on the civilians? What was really sitting beside her?

Nanowrimo

A colleague, who I have done work with and I get along with in a stranger “we don’t really know each other but we can talk for ages on the phone and find out we have similar interests” kind of way, is, I found out the other day, a published writer.

I have yet to get Matthew’s book, it was self published and is available on Amazon (yes I linked to it so you can buy it!).  We talked writing and how I dabble now and again with some short stories or scenes and ideas. My creative outlet.

He asked if I was going to Nanowrimo this year, and I said I didn’t think I could.

Now for those that don’t know Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. You start on 1 November and writing each day you can finish a novel in a month. First rough draft in any case. You can find out more and even register and track your attempt at the Nanowrimo site.

Now Matthew didn’t want to listen to my excuses, I don’t have a planned novel, I’m not sure I will have the time to write that much in a month, and many more. He just said, give yourself an hour a day and write.

Now the premise of the month is to write a novel (if you stick to the format you can and people have!). But it isn’t all about completing something as grand as that. It is about writing, about getting into the routine.

It is in fact about doing it.

So in a state of weak will I have decided to at least give it a go.

One hour a day to write something.

It could be the same story line or many stories or scenes or maybe more blogs like this. It might not change the world but it will give me something to create and maybe birth an idea or two into the world.

So join me if you want or maybe check back later and see if I post something I have created… you never know!

Targeting your Product

As a marketer I enjoy looking at how different brands, that sell a similar product, target different segments or markets.

Take for example the two Australian fashion swimwear brands Aussie Bum and Budgy Smuggler.  Both make and sell men’s swimwear products, most well know for their  brief or ‘speedo’ style togs.

However, they are very different in the way they approach marketing, branding and indeed the target audience they are selling to.

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Aussie Bum, don’t just sell swimwear, they are probably more well-known for their underwear but they sell lifestyle and surfwear as well. They have a highly curated marketing and branding stream. The products on their website are shown on models in various settings, often the beach. Aussie Bum use video on the product information page. Every image or video is of a high production value and feature models, mostly buff muscular types.

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Aussie Bum are across a range of social media platforms. Including Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo and You Tube.  Each of these platforms are aligned with a similar banner image and often the same image at the same time. This is planned and well executed campaigns – obviously selling a product while always selling the same brand image of Aussie Bum.

If you doubt yourself, wear something else.

This is a brand for confident, guys who match (whether real or imagined) this image of good looking fit men.

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Aussie Bum are also known for the WonderJock, these products are design to enhance assets of the wearer. Which in my mind is very fitting with the over all image of the brand. The curated images and well managed social stream are all about a perfect image, perfect body and look. This is traditional and well understood marketing for fashion.

budgy-smuggler-logo

Budgy Smuggler also sell other things than Men’s swimwear. They sell Women’s swimwear, kid’s swimwear and Active wear. They also sell Custom swimwear, these can be branded for a club, special event or just one offs.

The (men’s) products on the website are displayed by showing an image of the product. No models, or videos, just a front and back of the design. The other interesting difference is that there is only 1 style for men’s and 2 for women’s swimwear. They do show the women’s swimmers on models but these are studio only and not on site at a pool or beach.

budgy-missing-pieces

Budgy Smuggler are also on social media, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  They have a more disparate strategy for these channels, the banners across these pages are often totally different. The images on each of these streams are filled with reposts from fans. They are natural shots of people wearing the brand in different locations.

budgy-fan-made-image

These are not models, they are not curated and professional images. Most of the image are fun, silly and in some instances showing guys in ‘Budgy’s’ in non standard locations, i.e. NOT at a pool or the beach! Sometimes this has gotten people in trouble.

This fun carefree attitude is seen in the sporting teams that get custom smugglers and recently culminated in the competition to search for Australia’s most Ordinary Rig.

budgy-ordinary-rig

Conclusion

So we have two brands that sell very similar products in two completely different ways and to different target markets.

Interestingly both are doing very well and selling internationally, all from Sydney, Australia. The power of their marketing is very strong and each caters to a different audience through very different ways.

They both use images to convey their brand message, AussieBum are picture perfect models in staged, produced locations. Whereas, Budgy Smuggler are fun, silly and driven by a very large part by user driven images.

Ultimately they are selling the same thing, swimwear… and doing a great job.

Is one better or worse? Which is better? What do you think?

 

Reverse Bucket List

I just read an article on turning your life around or setting and hopefully achieving life goals. Read the full article.

It raised some good questions about the affect of looking at the achievements of others – the 30 year old who retired, or the friend on Facebook who has “everything” that you want…

It can be very depressing.

It’s summed up nicely in the following,

Wanting to make big changes to your life is a worthwhile goal. But it can have the effect of making you even less happy with your day-to-day reality.

Instead of creating a list of ‘wants’ the author looked back to her past and created a reverse bucket list – a list of all the cool, interesting and impressive things that she had done.

So here is a version of my Reverse Bucket List.

  • Recorded and released a CD with my band STOVER
  • Acted in many plays, been in a TV show and was assistant director for a film clip
  • Directed and Produced a number of theatre productions, including Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! (2003)
  • Was also president of said Community Theatre group
  • Relocated to Victoria, with a 3 week old baby… (may be more insane than cool or interesting but definitely impressive!)
  • I had a faux hawk hair cut… with dyed ends! Also went completely white, like really white, almost silver… it was very white
  • Ate dinner with a Geisha (and my wife)
  • Travelled to the US to pick Australian native palm seeds to sell to a horticultural business in Italy…
  • … and probably more

The thing is, sometimes when we are looking forward or looking for the next phase of our lives we need to look back and see what we have already achieved.

When I applied that to my work history I got a similar list of great things (which I hope to place most of on my LinkedIn account).

Give it a go to help get over the depression of looking forward all the time. Reflection is a great tool and the Reverse Bucket List is a great tool to use.

Two Years On

It is coming up to the anniversary of when I was first diagnosed with Testicular Cancer. Life has certainly moved forward since then. I got through the operation, testing and scanning and subsequent three cycles of chemotherapy.

The continual testing and scanning and trips to the specialists – the wait (and hope) for the results, and the relief that all was still well. I was, and am, cancer free.

In a recent visit I was tested for hormone levels, obviously affected by both the cancer, operation and chemotherapy. The oncologist was concerned that my testosterone levels were low. So off I went to the endocrinologist.

I was giving a range of blood test prior to my visit so the team had my latest figures and results. I was seen by a student doctor who went through the initial consult, ensuring all my particulars and getting the details right. She then checked the results and explained them to me.

I am sure Dr Google will give you the facts and figures, but for the simple version as I understand it – there are certain hormones (LH and FSH) that it produces that trigger the testicles to produce testosterone. Now having low testosterone might be a result of those hormones also being low. They weren’t.

Ok no big deal maybe it’s just the affect of the cancer mixing everything else up. However, that would mean that to over compensate LH and FSH levels should in fact be high – trying to make the testicle(s) produce more. They weren’t.

pituitary-gland

So after explaining this the trainee doctor went and got the head specialist. He came in and looked at the results, and was also a little puzzled. He then did a full examination – asking me a range of questions about eye sight, head aches, weight gain… and more.

He then ordered a range of tests including, after some um’ing and ah’ing, an MRI.

After he left, and to the trainee’s skill in bedside manner, I had all that explained to me. She did comments that the MRI was just to rule out anything else as the results were not typical so the Dr wanted to make sure he had ticked all the boxes.

Roll forward a few weeks and after the MRI I was back in to see the endocrinologist team. My hormone levels were still ‘wrong’ with low testosterone and normal levels of LH and FSH. I was also told the great news that I have a small tumour (non cancerous) on my pituitary gland. Which currently wasn’t doing anything abnormal, aside from causing the gland’s stalk to be pushed a little to one side. The hormones all seemed to be at normal levels.

Recommendation was to get me on Testosterone supplements and monitor the tumour – it could be nothing more than a slight aberration in my body – i.e. I always had it and it doesn’t really do anything too bad. Of course it also might grow and therefore lead to other problems down the track! Oh boy ain’t that grand.

Scroll forward again and after my first (rather uncomfortable) injection of hormone replacement I was back to see how the levels had reacted to the change.

Good news testosterone is now at normal levels! Yippee! Bad news the injection didn’t turn me into some kind of Adonis – I feel ripped off… I mean look at those curls!!!! (ignore the peen it must have been cold when the model posed for that one!)

Adonis.jpg

Bad news other hormones are looking a little low. Cortisol levels were low and that was of concern to the Dr. So I am now booked into more tests to see if the result was an aberration or something to do with the tumour.

So now I am well on the way to staying the right side of the cancer – maintaining a negative in the tests and getting further along the journey to getting back to a ‘normal’ chance of any further cancer.

However, now it seems I officially have pituitary disease. Two steps forward, one step back… but we are moving forward.

Aside from a 3 month (painful) jab in the butt I am feeling OK, but still worried about what the future might be.

However, we are off camping for the first time as a family and many more excitements to come – including PAX later this year!

I for one am not giving up yet!