Work – of a Different Kind

Today I’m heading to Shoreditch to take part in Recfest. Before we get stuck into a day of talking how to make recruitment better, I’ll be playing and singing a few songs for whoever else is crazy enough to turn up at 08.45.

I’m on the train. What’s buzzing round my head right now?

The guitar I’m using today isn’t mine. I’ve not seen or played it before, so I’ll get there early enough to have a quick practice.

I have a bunch of tunes to choose from, more than enough for the time I’ll be playing. I know which one I’m starting with and beyond that, we’ll see. I want the flexibility to develop the set as I go.

I enjoy encouraging people to try out different ways to work, and for me, today is one of those days where I step into a different, uncertain space. I need to feel that uncertainty personally, direct contact with it matters to me.

There will be bum notes. There always are.

I am nervous, and excited too. Tuning the dial between nerves and excitement is a tension I enjoy, most of the time!

I hope your day holds something a little different for you too, enjoy tuning your dial to suit the mood.


It’s approaching 1 o’clock in the afternoon, and Recfest continues at a pace. I’ve done my bit and  left everyone to it, thanks for having me folks. I woke up very early today, around 4.30am, probably due to early onset of adrenalin. I feel very tired right now, and I thought I should update the post to reflect that. Doing stuff that we are not used to can be tiring – so whether you are encouraging folk to work differently, or challenging them to, I think it’s worth being mindful that these new and less usual things take a lot of energy.

A Song About Work

Many, many, many months ago I was invited to give the closing talk and a song at Workplace Trends 2012. I agreed, even though I’ve not performed a song in conference for a while – it all seemed so far away, saying yes was easy…

The event approached and I prepared my talk like crazy. I love to practice, practice, practice these things, and simultaneously I love to leave spaces in the flow. Spaces where spontaneity can and will occur, spaces where I can reference other things I’ve learned at the event, spaces in the flow are vital for me to be able to give my best. The certainty of uncertainty. The talk seemed to go well and soon you can be the judge as I’m in the process of editing a short film of it – watch this space.

I also prepared a song, a piece that Neil Usher wrote the lyrics for. I’ve played this song a couple of times previously and never quite got to grips with it, so for this event I was determined to crack it. I practiced, practiced, practiced, and although I felt I was getting better at delivering the song, I still wasn’t happy with it. So in the end, I decided to apply a similar ‘leave spaces’ theory to the song, as I do for a talk. What this meant was that in the moment, as I nervously played the song, I fiddled with the tune and I also left a verse out. No one knew apart from me – but what the good people at Workplace Trends got was a one off.

Here’s the song in case you fancy a listen. I took a big risk with this and I think it worked, judging by the reaction at the finish, the audience appreciated it.

The video was shot by my good friend George Brent. George runs GB Audio Visual – a great company doing top drawer AV work.

Crap Engagement – a song about work

This is a version of Crap Engagement, first performed live last week at the ConnectingHR unconference. Lyrics by Neil Usher, arranged and performed by Doug Shaw. Original music by Paul Weller. Hope you like it. The photo above was taken by Callum Saunders at the May ConnectingHR Unconference, thanks Callum.

Wrong kind of leaves and I’m two hours late
The interviewer thinks I’m the next candidate
He ends in tears, got personal issues
I get the job because I’m carrying tissues
That’s crap recruitment, that’s crap recruitment……

First day and they forget I’m arriving
It’s like a juggernaut with no-one driving
A mass walkout ‘cause the boss is a nazi
I get promoted ‘cause I was in the khasi
That’s crap engagement, that’s crap engagement…..

Log on by eleven but they block social media
They think Twitter’s just for Justin Bieber
Cant get a smartphone or a tablet PC
They say they’re part of the liberal conspiracy….
That’s crap equipment, that’s crap equipment,….

Their take on modern flexible culture
Is circling over your head like a vulture
They tried mobility but that was a failure
Half the staff went to work in Australia
That’s crap enslavement, that’s crap enslavement…..

Waking up from bad dreams in foetal position
Ignore the whispers and stares of suspicion
I get an e-mail saying I’ve failed probation
Here’s a box to pack your humiliation
That’s crap termination, that’s crap termination…..

Two worlds passing like ships at midnight
Concluded I’ve been missing the solitude
I’ll keep trying till I find what’s right (for me)
And in the meantime make Jam and write poetry….
Crap entertainment, crap entertainment….