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Archive for March, 2009

Maddie’s Blog Part 1

March 31st, 2009   By   Filed Under: Maddie's Blog

Maddie, Holly & The Sock Monkeys

Maddie, Holly and The Sock Monkeys

My name is Maddie George.  I am 23.  I live in North London.  I like to spend my Saturdays exploring, laughing, and eating cake.  I like the colour purple, I like The Beatles.  I like cookery shows,  and harbour an unhealthy obsession with 24 / Jack Bauer.  I clean too much, I recycle and boss my boyfriend around more than he would like.  My spelling is rubbish.  I am normal.

On 22nd January 2009, less than 24 hours after finding a lump in my neck, I was diagnosed with Stage 2a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of Cancer that affects the Lymph nodes (the glands in your neck, groin and armpits).

In a split second, my life was turned upside down, destined never to be the same again.  I am a positive person but the thought of having and battling cancer was a massive shock to the system and more than I thought I could handle.
What does this mean? How will this affect me? Will I see my next birthday? How bad is it? Why do I not look sick? These questions muddled through my head one after the other.  While Cancer is very rare, I couldn’t help but ask ‘Why me?’.

However, straight away, wonderful things started to happen and I couldn’t help but feel that actually, I am a very blessed, lucky girl.  In the early days of my diagnosis some truly great friends and family gave me so much love and support, that the bad thoughts slipped away.

My friend Lucy rushed to my bed side and took on the role as my PA.  My friend Mary turned up at the hospital unannounced to be with me.  My brother sat by my bed, ready to provide whatever I needed.  My Mum and Boyfriend dropped everything and raced down the A1 to get to me.  My fellow Mashers in the office made a card with Jack Bauer on it.  My housemates packed up some of my belongings and hand delivered them to me.  And then there were the flowers, the gorgeous flowers that arrived from so many supportive faces.

The night I came home from hospital we had a mini party with some of my friends and family.  All I wanted to eat was duck, so we got duck.  All I wanted to drink was wine (unsurprisingly!), so we got wine.  I started to think maybe if I was going to start getting my own way all the time, maybe this wouldn’t be so bad (!).  As I looked around the living room, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of happiness to see all the faces of wonderful people that were rallying round me.

From that moment on, I was determined to stay firmly on the bright side of life and fight for the silver lining at the bottom of all of this.

At the same time, my housemate Holly went to a Craft afternoon and made a sock monkey.  When she got home, Holly gave me her monkey and it was love at first sight.  The monkey just made me really, really, really laugh – it was so cute!  It put such a huge smile on my face and made me so happy that I took it everywhere with me,  everywhere.  It was my good luck charm, my mascot, my friend.  From then on, it was me and the monkey against Cancer together.

I found out I would have to have chemotherapy treatment which involves 6 hours in the hospital so toxic drugs can be fed into me and attack the cancer. 6 hours? How boring! Holly suggested that I start making sock monkeys while I was going through treatment to keep me occupied and keep me occupied.  When Doctors told me that I would need 4 months of chemo, we realised that not only would I lose my hair, but that a lot of monkeys could be made!

Everyone needs a sock monkey..

Everyone needs a sock monkey...

The NHS kindly offer one free wig for all cancer patients but they made me look a bit like a shop mannequin (!) and were not very nice.  I discovered that a beautiful looking wig could cost anywhere from £500 – £3000, a lot more than I could afford.  And then it dawned on us.  Everyone we’d shown had loved the sock monkeys and wanted one of their own.  We could sell the monkeys to help raise money for the wig AND raise money for the Lymphoma Association AND spread the joy of the monkeys!

And so it was…Monkeys for Maddie was born…and I haven’t looked back.

The message behind the monkeys is that behind every dark cloud, there is a silver lining.

I’ll be keeping you updated on my progress through the Mash blog but in the meantime, please do visit us at http://www.monkeysformaddie.com/ to order your own sock monkey. We also NEED MORE SOCKS to monkey up so please post them to me at the address given or if you just want to say hello then please do at: monkeysformaddie@googlemail.com

The more colourful the sock, the more personality your sock monkey has!

“The boy becomes a man”

March 15th, 2009   By   Filed Under: Candidates, Employers

 

 A quick background::

I’m 33 years old, married, to my wife Emma.

What I like:

A nice restaurant, a fine glass of wine, going on holidays, a game a pool with my mates in Shoreditch, fashion, art, weekends away, scuba diving, films, business, current affairs and I try to maintain a gym routine that would tick our government’s weekly guidelines…

Post university, I moved to London (where I still reside) and for the last 10 years, I’ve embraced the life that our nation’s capital bestows this demographic with ease.

I’d consider myself private on occasions, I get annoyed at large shopping crowds, (go to Oxford Street on a pre Christmas Saturday afternoon and you’ll start to agree), get exasperated as soon as I enter any element of London underground (a poor service, overcrowding and constant delays…), and hate reality TV (it was so over post Big Brother One).

Apart from this, I’m a happy go lucky kinda guy. I’m committed to my career, my wife, family and friends. A cliché I know, but a work hard, play hard mentality has been my staple diet this last decade.

I’ve no children.

But it is this last statement that has prompted me to write a few words as I’m going to be a Father, a Dad, a Parent… I’m going to become an adult; one of those grown up people that I’ve always known, but never really considered myself to be.

I’ve acted as an adult on many occasions. For example, I’ve voted in two general elections, worked hard in my career where I’ve had to make tough grown up decisions, I have a mortgage and I’ve even had a joint bank account with my wife before we were married. All adult behaviour, but until a baby is born, until I’m a parent, mentally I’m still a boy.

Now I’m not a writer, but I thought it would be nice to capture these moments, the emotions, the questions; so that in the many years to come I can look back in solitude, with my wife and or with my children and read aloud these words from a rambling Father’s history as I try to capture this wonderful journey today.

I’m going to be a father, I’m going to be a grown up. I’ve opened the door to my new world and I’m waiting to greet our new arrival with many mixed emotions…

A few wise words from Mr.Buffett…

March 15th, 2009   By   Filed Under: Everyone

Hard work* – All hard work leads to profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

Laziness* – A sleeping lobster is carried away by the water current.

Earnings* – Never depend on a single source of income.  (At least try to make your investments get you a second income).

Spending* – If you buy things you don’t need, you’ll soon sell things you need.

Savings* – Don’t save what is left after spending, spend what is left after saving.

Borrowings* – The borrower becomes the lender’s slave.

Accounting* – It’s no use carrying an umbrella if your shoes are leaking.

Auditing* – Beware of little expenses, a small leak can sink a big ship.

Risk-taking* – Never test the depths of the river with both feet.  Have an alternative plan ready.

Investment* – Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.

The Office: Is Your Company Inbred?

March 13th, 2009   By   Filed Under: Employers

Many companies pay a referral bonus to employees when they recommend a friend for a job down the hall.  But do they carefully consider the implications of this common practise?

By: Leigh Bichanan / Inc.

I have an advantage when playing Six Degrees of Seperation.  In the ’80′s I worked for TV Guide, where I had the opportunity to interview such luminaries as Delta Burke, Martin Mull and McLean Stevenson.  Consequently, I can arrive at Kevin Bacon in a couple of jogs, and from there the world is my oyster.  (Readers: you all have permission to claim to know me, and to shorten your own path to celebrity accordingly.)

When the playwright John Guare first floated the Six Degrees trope in 1990, the term “social networking” had yet to enter the popular lexicon.  Now, of course, networking in its myriad forms if what we do all day.  We have become a race of perpositions linking people to people, things to things.  Companies are just learning the power of networks for marketing, but in the world of recruiting networks are venerable, tested tools.  Employees have long nominated their friends and relatives for open positions, and many companies offer finders fees when those referrals take.  It’s an elegant idea.  After all, employees know both their friends’ talents and personalities and their employer’s culture.  Who better to spot matches made in heaven?

Employee referrals presumably reduce risk in the same way that Amazon referrals do: managers who like Martin will also like Isabelle.  But I wonder whether the practise has unrecognized drawbacks.  Biodiversity is one sign of a healthy ecosystem; mutts tend to be sturdier than purebreds.  Companies that hire lots of people who know one another – because they attended the same schools of play golf together every weekend or used to work together someplace else – may reduce the diversity of their workforces’ experiences and perspectives.  Innovation flourishes in the interstices of unlike ideas.  How many suprises will emerge from half a dozen people who pal around in the Facebook groups “I Love Beer”, “I’d Rather Be Skateboarding”, and “South Park Lovers United”.

Companies rich in pre-exisiting networks can also seem insular and unwelcoming to outsiders.  Joining established workplaces cliques is tough, but joining cliques that also thrive outside the office and share long personal histories is trully daunting.  When the MD and other leaders belong to those cliques, issues of favouritism may arise. 

Of course there are good reasons to shake the employees’ personal networks when hiring.  People who play together well are likely to work together well.  (Henry Jenkins, a professor at M.I.T., has suggested that companies may one day recruit whole groups that form around online games!.)  In addition, an employee understands that a friend’s performance affects their own reputation, and consequently will avoid referring incompetents and perpetual procrastinators.  Nothing kills a relationship faster than working all night to correct the screw-ups your gormless chum introduced to a major project.

The compromise is to use referrals, but limit the number of hires from any one employee’s circle.  Welcome the former roommate.  Draw the line at quads.

Hunting for inspiration

March 10th, 2009   By   Filed Under: Uncategorized

Anyone looking for INSPIRATION, sign up to this site for all things cool in design, lifestyle, travel, music, books, gadgets, art, fashion, shows, street, events, architecture, kids, stores, bars & clubs, food & dining, house, transportation, platinum and news…www.coolhunter.co.uk

“Work is much more fun than fun”

March 10th, 2009   By   Filed Under: Everyone

Scientists say happiness is contagious and thrives among social groups.  So perhaps it’s time to spread a little cheer in the workplace to help banish the downturn blues.

Research from Harvard Medical School claims that “happiness is infectious” and “rubs off on others”.  This is an extension of the feelgood factor, the kind of thing that happens in better economic times or when England’s football team does well in a big tournament.  But the study highlights a kind of infectious happiness that is sustained by social networks.

The survey, punblished in the British Medical Journal, looked at 5,000 adults and concludes that people’s happiness depends on how happy those around them are.  The findings shows that a friend who becomes happy and lives less than a mile away increased your chance of happiness by 25 per cent.

The mood of work colleagues did not have as strong an effect – presumably because the ties we have to workmates are not of the same strength of quality as those we have with our friends and family.  This is especially true in the US, where commitment to employers is weak and mobility between companies is high.  But the UK’s long-hours culture forces employees closer together and promotes a stronger sense of loyalty.  Positive relationships at work can be infectious and help to lift us out of the prevailing “doom and gloom” mentality.

Participants in the survey were asked whether they agreed with statements on whether they enjoyed life, felt hopeful about the future, were happy and believed they were just as good as other people.  The study revealed that when live-in partners became happy it raised the likelihood of their partner being content by eight per cent – similar effects were found by siblings living nearby (14 percent) and neighbours (34 percent).  It suggest that “clusters of happiness” occur because joy spreads and not just because people associate with those they think are like them.  Professor Nicholas Christakis, the lead scientist, says that what is “most important is the recognition that people are embedded in social networks, and that the health and wellbeing of one person affects the health and wellbeing of others”.

If close-knit social networks are crucial for the spread of happiness, it seems important that we take action to move away from the individualised mindset that is now dominant.  The credit crunch has been an unsolicited catalyst that may start this process over the coming months, but if people believe that they will also be happier as a result, they may make permanent changes.

If happiness is infectious, it’s likely that sadness is as well, so don’t let doom and gloom settle over the country.  We should not adopt a negative view of the business future, or avoid opportunities out of fear, or become too cautious, or competitive with colleagues to protect our jobs.  We must pull together, work as a team and spread positive vibes.  Remember, happiness is infectious – this is now a scientific fact!

Article written by Cary Cooper for Director Magazine, February 2009.