Trust Me, You Can Trust Me

I’m more efficient when I work from home. The office has more distractions for me. The commute to the office drains me. The lunch break is longer when I’m in the office.

I know this isn’t true for everybody. But it’s true for many people. Most polls I’ve seen had people preferring some percentage of work to be done from home. Like myself, most also wanted some office time. It’s good to see the people you work with face to face. Team meetings also help resolve some problems.

Companies, on the other hand, seem split. Many want their employees back in the office full time as soon as possible. After this last year, one has to ask himself why.

I can only blame lack of trust. I can’t see how that could be justified. If there’s one thing this last year has proven to businesses, it’s that they can trust their employees. Not that they had reason to doubt that before. But now we have data. We can see whether productivity declined.

My point is this: you have to trust your employees. No healthy system can operate without trust. If you have good reason not to trust your employees, you need to reconsider your hiring process.

Trust your employees. Very few would opt for staying out of the office entirely. Your employees will make the right choice. For themselves, for their team, for their company. Trust them.

And to the employees I say, if your workplace doesn’t trust you, leave. You deserve better. Put your mental health first and leave. It’s fair for you, and it’s just.

This is a new world, people. Adapt and grow, or stay behind.

Optimise For Happiness

What is my goal in life? I guess the easy answer is to be happy. What makes one happy, though?

This is a tough one. Clearly it’s not having fancy things. We get used to anything and soon enough it’s no longer exciting.

I was once presented with the idea that happiness is always there. It is simply hidden behind a curtain. When we do something that makes us happy, we get to glimpse behind that curtain. I won’t go into how they suggested removing the curtain altogether, because it goes into meditation and other ideas I don’t relate to as much.

There is a general consensus that happiness from experiences lasts longer than that from short-term perks. I’ve tried following this approach. I have to say, it feels like it’s working.

So my advice to you is this: focus on creating good memories. Watch a film with people you love. Take a trip somewhere exotic. And whatever you do, be in the moment. Collect as many pieces as you can for your future memory.

Pop Goes The Corn

I love popcorn. Popcorn for me is associated with cinemas and watching movies. I’d usually go through a medium-sized bucket before the movie even started.

I know you’ve probably tried buttered popcorn, salty popcorn, sweet popcorn… None of these are exciting. They’re decent snacks, nothing more.

But there’s a special brand of popcorn that I associate with going to visit my wife in a time that predated our marriage.

We had to be apart for a long time, and I had to fly over to see her. On one of the flights, they served a lovely box with quotes from Alice in Wonderland and the best popcorn I’ve ever tasted.

Ever since that flight, I started bringing a few new flavours with me every time we’d meet and we’d eat them while watching movies.

Joe & Seph‘s popcorn is a premium product. It starts with the aroma. You take it in and can almost taste the spices. Then you take a bite. Every bite has a proper crunch to it. And then comes the explosion of rich flavour. The flavour lingers and intensifies with every bite.

There are savoury flavours, such as the goats cheese and black pepper popcorn, or the blue cheese with walnut & celery one. Such exciting combinations! We particularly enjoyed the olive oil, truffle oil and truffle salt version.

Then there are the sweet flavours. I have to admit, they all taste mostly of caramel. However, every flavour is still distinct and gives you a different experience. From toffee apple & cinnamon to caramel & Belgian chocolate, there’s something for every sweet-tooth.

The range of flavours is unbelievably broad. So while I bet you’ve tried a few variations of popcorn, you’ve not tried anything like this. If you want to treat yourself, you have to give them a try. It’s a mind-popping experience.

I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

It’s All Or Nothing

I dislike negotiations. In my head, it is coupled with dishonesty. Both sides know the value of the goods or services offered. Instead of shaking hands on that value, both try to get a better deal.

I believe that a good deal is one where both sides are equally happy (or unhappy). I also believe it’s much easier to achieve a desired outcome when you are not hungry for food.

This is why I have some simple rules:

– I avoid negotiations unless I can enter them from a position of strength.

– I present my position transparently. All cards are on the table.

– I don’t negotiate. I know my offer is fair, and I am willing to walk away if it is not accepted.

Really, negotiations is a complex art. I’d rather approach that complexity by avoiding it altogether. This is my offer. Take it or leave it.

Kitchen Joe

I like smart solutions. There’s something elegant about a smart solution to a problem. It’s interesting how sometimes we are not even aware of a problem until we see the solution.

One place where I seldom think of the problem before I encounter a solution is the kitchen. I work with what I have, and that’s usually good enough.

But then something changed for me. It started with me looking for a caddy for my dish-soap and sponge. I found the Caddy Sink Area Organiser by Joseph Joseph. I really liked how it addressed everything a caddy should.

So I started exploring Joseph Joseph’s other products. I ended up buying the Elevate Carousel and the measuring cup set, too. All products have a colorful design to them. They’re all made from high quality materials. The design is a matter of personal taste, of course, but I like it. But most importantly, they’re all smart.

So if you want to streamline your kitchen work, check out Joseph Joseph’s products. They stand the heat, and belong in your kitchen.

I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Let It Go, Let It Go

When I pick up a challenge, I have a strong drive to push through. The longer I go at it, the less likely I am to want to quit.

It’s not an uncommon phenomenon. In fact, it has a name. The sunk cost fallacy means the more you invest, the more committed you are to continuing. Nobody wants to know their investment was lost.

You may know this from gambling. Gamblers find it hard to stop because they’re already so invested. Surely the next spin of the roulette would earn them back their losses. Video games play on this as well. You spent so much time levelling your character up, how can you stop now, losing all that time? What about that TV show that lost its charm? Do we keep watching it, even though it’s no longer enjoyable?

I had a client once with a guiding principle. They called it “cutting the cord”. It’s a simple idea. For every effort made, continuously evaluate the likelihood of success. If it seems unlikely you could achieve success, or that achieving it would be too costly, you stop.

This is because while you can’t change how much you invested to a point, you can control how much more you’ll invest (and potentially lose). There is often a better route. If you don’t consider changing course, you may be committed to a costly and maybe lost cause.

So, if you’ve been doing something for long and it’s not paying off, stop. Think it over. Maybe it’s time to let it go.

No cords were harmed during the writing of this post.

Non-Operating System

I’m a Windows user. I’m a Mac user. I’m an Android user. If you’re reading this, you’re using at least one operating system.

It is my humble opinion that all operating systems are a disappointment. None of them do what I expect them to. I’ll explain.

An operating system is meant to be the glue that holds a device together. It keeps the hardware in order, it lets apps run. More importantly, though, it is meant to be the environment in which we get stuff done.

For years I’ve watched as Microsoft and Apple spent time polishing the UI. Adding more eye candy to the form of smooth animations and beautiful backgrounds. And I kept sighing. This isn’t real progress.

What I feel is missing is help. I don’t feel my operating system is helping me. And it’s very easy to help me. I have regular patterns. Why aren’t these detected automatically and automated for me?

I launch the same apps every day at roughly the same time. I respond to certain notifications the same way every time. I often navigate to folders and leave them open when I’m done.

Launch apps for me. Tidy up for me. Suggest I hide notifications I keep swiping away. Keep windows I don’t access often tucked away. Offer apps an easy API for doing the same. Help my browser group and hide tabs I haven’t accessed in days.

On the same note, why do I need to reboot my phone or laptop for some updates? That’s just lazy. If files are locked, find out why. Try to unlock them before forcing a reboot.

I truly believe we could all be much more efficient if our operating system helped us a little more. That’s a lovely background picture you have there, though!

If You Take A Walk, I’ll Tax Your Feet

I pay a hefty sum in taxes. In a sense, this is good, because it means I have a decent income. Of course, if I had a much higher income, I’d probably get away with paying less to no taxes. You see, when you can afford expensive accountants, you can get away with paying no taxes at all.

I am not talking about tax evasion, mind you. Not paying taxes illegally is not much different to robbing a bank, really. Instead, I’m talking about tax avoidance. Unlike tax evasion, tax avoidance is perfectly legal.

Not being a financial advisor, I can’t tell you how to avoid paying your taxes. I can, however, encourage you read into it. I’m sure you work hard for your money. And I know taxes are a boring topic. But don’t give up a portion of your hard earned money without a fight.

Do you have expenses you can legitimately claim? Do you have assets you could transfer to your spouse? Are you utilising your ISA allowance?

Tax avoidance takes some time to perfect. But it pays off. Makes sure nothing you do is illegal, but don’t pay taxes you don’t have to. Keep your money.

Know of any good tax avoidance actions? Please do share!

The Apple Scourerâ„¢

We pay a premium for brand. Take a cheap product, slap a brand logo on it, and you can charge much, much more for it.

But here’s the thing. Brand used to come with a promise. A promise of quality, of service. This, in many cases, is no longer the case. When I buy beans, I don’t care what logo they printed on the can. The exact same beans, from the same factory, without the brand, often cost way less.

The same is true for tech gadgets. You can find a TV from the company who manufactures for the big names for a fraction the price.

This is really interesting, because recently I’ve been burnt by how things have changed. I bought a belt, and the buckle broke. It shouldn’t have happened with a quality product, but it did. The (well known) seller would not replace it without the receipt. Offering to provide the card I paid with didn’t help. No receipt, no service. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep every paper receipt I get. I trusted the brand. I paid for the brand.

Here’s another case. I bought a brand new laptop. The charging cable stopped working after a week. I asked for it to be replaced. I was turned down. I had to escalate to the manager to get it sorted. Not to mention the trouble of having to go to the store to get it sorted. I’ve actually had quite a few issues with that laptop, including three faulty batteries. This was a premium laptop.

I now know I should spend more wisely. Avoid the brands. Or at least make sure you get what you pay for.

Bathe In The Sunlight

I hate keeping secrets. I believe I’m quite good at it, when I need to be – but I hate it. They say that sunlight is the best disinfectant. I’m a strong believer of that.

There are two main reasons for me holding this belief.

The first is this: keeping secrets is stressful. Every action you take, every time you speak – you have to take all the secrets you must avoid telling into account. You sometimes have to spin lies to tiptoe around the truth. You have to keep those lies consistent. The stress will eventually kill you.

The second reason is that nobody likes it when the decision is taken away from them. When you keep the truth to yourself, you are not letting others make decisions based on the truth.

Imagine speaking to your team and realising there is no way you will meet the upcoming deadline. It is still a month away, but you need at least three more months to deliver.

I’ve seen a few ways people approached this situation. Some choose to wait until the last minute, hoping for a miracle. This does not leave the client any options, and so is quite bad. Other people lie about the magnitude of the problem. They say they are off by only a month. This is even worse. Not only have you misled your client, taking away their opportunity to adjust, but you have also lost your credibility.

The best course of action, in my experience, is to tell the truth. Explain to the client that you are off by three months. Discuss the options together. Will the client be angry? Possibly. But they’ll appreciate the honesty and the opportunity to act ahead of time.

If none of the above convinced you, just remember: it’s the right thing to do. Let yourself soak in sunlight. Drench in it. Feel the weight wash off your shoulders.