Well 2016 was a quick one, that’s for sure. That phrase, where has this year gone, never held so true.
This is the fourth year of writing my blog and the fourth ‘year in review’ I have been able to do. I have always enjoyed doing this, each year I get chance to spend a little time looking back on the fun things, the work things and the changing things that have happened. The first year in review I did was 2013, I started that blog piece by apologising for talking social for once rather than work, this year it feels like the opposite, 2016 has been a great year for focusing on work, so for those that ‘tuned in’ just for the social lists sorry, there may be a bit of work stuff this time around.
As far as years of change go the world feels a bit like it has all gone a bit ‘Stranger Things’ and is on the upside down, politically, with Brexit and Trump it’s hard to know what will happen next. It was quite an amazing if somewhat unsettling night to be in Barcelona as Trump was announced as victor, being invited to an American party in the basement of a hotel to celebrate the nature of democracy rather than the political victor will always remain with me, even if it did make it a very very late night.
So what have I really done this year, a huge amount of really enjoyable work and social experiences in Dublin that’s for sure. Last year when I look back at the review of 2015 I was still finding my way around Dublin, I feel that it has become a city I understand so much more in 2016, and yet I know I have explored a very small proportion of it and against a back drop of a certain bubble of experiences and relationships. Mulberry Garden, Delahunt and Taste at Rustic Stone have to go down as three of the best meals I have ever eaten out in any city anywhere, and yet the old faithful P.Macs, Fallon and Byrn and 37 Dawson’s Street still get a revisit on a regular basis. The warm, dark atmosphere of all three bars, the amazing tunes, super cool (and friendly) staff and the quality of the food and drink leave these three places still a little untouchable, although four new ones for me, Number 22 at the Majistorium, House, Chelsea Drugstore and Sophie’s are starting to bring great, fun memories that at least add to the choices when visitors arrive.
The two highlights of the year though both have me on big stages with loud music playing, that hankering after being a super star DJ keeps coming back I guess!
First, the Future of Health Summit in May. A whole day of me and a great friend being in charge of a huge stage. The theme of the day, a music festival, every speaker coming on to their favourite song ever, an intro video with the music turned up to number eleven as the back drop, a bright new shirt all of which resulted in a very big grin by 17:45 as the stage closed. The comment on social media though was wow, how can the team turn eHealth into something a-kin to a music festival at a conference, and enable learning in a fun environment! The next day being whisked off to do my first live radio in Ireland was also pretty exciting too.
The second highlight was on an even bigger stage, with one of the world’s biggest names in technology. I was invited to present the journey we had been on to Satya Nadella the CEO of Microsoft at the Microsoft Tech Gathering, and it was quite the experience with a few thousand others watching that’s for sure. Being able to drop a Nas quote into the presentation, come on to a Star Wars themed animation and finish up with Fedde Le Grand made for another big grin even if the nerves were so much more a jangle before I went on, luckily the odd friendly face in the audience stopped me from falling off the edge.
A giant leap away from all the crazy work were two very different holidays this year, a wet, windy and icy cold Wild Atlantic Way in, yes August, was the first. Who would have thought a beach as beautiful as some of those in the Clifden area could work regardless of the most unseasonal weather I have ever experienced, my nose froze, it was August! The second was a return trip to the in-laws in sunny Turkey, not a sprout in sight, just lots of sunshine and my own chance to be the Villa’s pool side DJ, pretty damn awesome. I also proved to myself that water truly does inspire creative writing as I wrote a blog piece remotely with a colleague that ended up being published far and wide, all this whilst stood in the pool, the wonders of modern technology and connectivity!
In June I met a team of people who would have a significant influence on our approach to how we work. The team at Leading Social brought the inspiration that is Ted Rubin to Dublin for the second time in 12 months. The first time I saw Ted present I was awash with ideas that came from his mouth, vilification that our approach was a valid one. To be asked to share a stage with him for an afternoon in June was amazing, and still the phrases, ‘return on relationship’, and ‘just be nice to people’, hold true to what we are trying to do, all within our need for agility and a results framework that we have set ourselves.
July gave me an opportunity to be emotional on stage, well not really but it happened anyway! I have spent this year being very proud of each and every deliverable, each and every member of the team, a hot evening in July I was asked if I would be interviewed ‘live on stage’, the event was called a Journey of Disruption. Much taking of the mick happened as the posters went up, an evening with Richard Corbridge they read, I thought of trying to play the guitar again and thought better of it! The evening was a complete sell out, standing room only! And then the emotion leaked out as I told the story of ‘Hello My Name is…’ just a week after the amazing Kate Grainger had passed away, and indeed the emotion did leak out with my story of the work that our very own Epilepsy Lighthouse project had achieved. What was awesome was when a bunch of ex-colleagues and particularly my Mum got in touch the next day to say she had listened to the podcast of the event and had enjoyed it too, you can’t beat your mum being proud can you!
I still love live music more than any other ‘cultural’ experience, this year I made it to; Disclosure, Stone Roses, Michael Kiwanuka, James Blake, Jack Garret, Jamie T, Guy Garvey, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Mason, Ben Watt (with the god of guitar in the modern age Mr. Bernard Butler), St. Germain, Jenny Green and the old faithful Field Day and Forbidden Fruit, Ireland has made my musical taste more diverse that’s for sure. The sound and atmosphere at Michael Kiwanuka was the best I have ever heard, it felt like a 1960s gig in a sweat box in the USA, amazing! The experience of Disclosure in a wet and muddy field in Ireland was something else, again the sound was exceptional with the bass actually moving your hair and teeth! Memories of Ian Brown singing I Am The Resurrection unfortunately were proven to be better than the real thing when I looked back on the evidence the next day, but, hey, you pay for the experience though don’t you!
Since 2002 I have collected my top ‘20’ songs of the year, it used to be 20 because that’s what would roughly fit on one CD, the demise of the CD has led to the list growing. 2015 was 29 songs that come back as a lovely play list memory of the year. I have tried hard to get the list down in numbers, lets see how many it is to end this year. This list is in ‘creative enjoyment order’, not anything else, here are my songs of the year:
1 – It Could Never Happen – Fink D’Void
2 – Nocturnal (Disclosure VIP Mix) – Disclosure
3 – 1973 – Beth Orton
4 – Gradually – Ben Watt
5 – Am I Wrong – Anderson .Paak
6 – Freak Like Me – Lee Walker & DJ Deeon
7 – Shivers (Honne Remix) – SG Lewis
8 – Lazarus – David Bowie
9 – Planet Sizes – Steve Mason
10 – Can’t Get Over You (Sandy’s Blackwiz Mix) – Sandy Rivera & S-Man
11 – Rising Water – James Vincent McMorrow
12 – Initiate – GoGo Penguin
13 – Do It Right – Martin Solveig
14 – Worry (Anderson .Paak Mix) – Jack Garratt
15 – Bad Habits – The Last Shadow Puppets
16 – Flip A Coin – Marquis Hawkes & Timothy Blake
17 – Sign Of The Times – Jamie T
18 –Silver – Fakear
19 – You’re A Man Now, Boy – Raleigh Ritchie
20 – Nothing Like This – Blonde & Craig David
21 – Black Man In A White World (Ghetto Gettysburg Address) – Michael Kiwanuka & Nas
22 – This Is How It Feels – Richard Ashcroft
23 – Dancing On My Own (Cassius Remix) – Robyn
24 – Day To Day (For 6 Days a Week) – L.A. Salami
25 – Never Be Like You (Disclosure Remix) – Flume
26 – All Four Walls (Maya Jane Coles Remix) – Gorgon City
27 – Set Me Free – Herizen Guardiola
28 – Sweet Dreams – Freaks
29 – I Hope (1-800 Mix) – James Blake
30 – Operator (DJ Koze’s 12” Extended Mix) – Lapsley
31 – Stranger Things – Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein
Thirty one songs, I hope my inability to reduce the songs to a more manageable length of list is more a reflection of the quality of the music this year than my new found indecisiveness. To me yet again it feels like the diversity of music in Ireland has drastically influenced the songs on the list, there are some major pop music themes curtesy of FM104 here in Dublin as well as the usual smattering of singer songwriter types and some super songs to make anyone get up and dance. I can’t wait for some of the new music being promised for next year. I’m already, excited for The XX new album after hearing just two tunes as well as more from SOHN, Loyle Carner, Bonobo and Fred Everything. The BBC predictions for next year are always an exciting prospect on the 1st of January.
Three of the songs of the year were inspired by television programmes, and for a long time that number was bigger with the theme tune to Suits sitting in there as well. There has been much talk of TV taking over from films in its cultural reference point, certainly for me the NetFlix in(ter)vention has been a revelation, more than Uber, AirBnB or the usual go to disruption descriptors. One great thing about NetFlix is it is bringing back that TV sharing moment, not the going into work the next day after an exciting weekly episode but the comparing of where you are in the series, the care not to reveal plot lines and the tantalising ability to still talk about TV shows is back again.
So here are my top ten most recommended TV shows of my year (not necessarily new this year):
1 – The Get Down 6 – The 100
2 – Stranger Things 7 – Daredevil
3 – Suits 8 – Designated Survivor
4 – Luke Cage 9 – How To Get Away With Murder
5 – Jessica Jones 10 – Agent Carter
Yet again reading fiction has suffered at the hands of work, and just like last year I really want to change that next year. Social media and the ‘need’ to engage with it has had an impact on the books I have read in 2016 so much it makes me feel a bit sad, but I also need to think of the fun and the knowledge I have been able to build from this change. Meeting two people I have read this year was exciting, Gina Neff and her study of why we have become so interested (obsessed) with self-tracking and Martin Lindstrom the author of my book of the year, Small Data were both inspiring meetings. Getting an hour with Martin to just hear his thoughts on all kinds of stuff was such a treat, understanding his views on what we can do in our industry gave us so much to take forward into 2017.
My top books of this year are:
1 – Small Data by Martin Lindstrom
2 – Nutshell by Ian McEwan
3 – The Risk Pool by Richard Russo
4 – Astronauts Guide To Life On Earth by Chris Hadfield
5 – Self-Tracking by Gina Neff & Dawn Hafus
Its been the busiest year of my career, three things in particular have changed how I view what we do. The amazing success we had with the Innovation Showcase in Ireland showed me just how much I want to keep moving forward but it also alerted me to the fact that the public also want us to keep striving to meet the agenda of building a better health service head on. Seeing so many schools come to the event and get excited about the possibilities of what we do made me realise just how long the journey we are on will be, but, how once we get there, digital health will in fact become simply the normal.
The impact on my own feelings of the maternity system go live in Cork in December surprised me. In 20 years in health technology there have been some ups and downs, as there is with any job I guess, but, the go live in this amazing hospital and the commitment, engagement, will power and care the staff involved showed made that weekend and the impact of that system the most important thing I have been involved in over those 20 years. A nurse 7 hours after go live saying to me she has no idea how she did her job before the system was implemented filled me with confidence that what we are doing is the right thing and most importantly the right way to go about it.
The final of the three events was an odd one. In May having been away from my seat at the table to check why my colleagues had disappeared for so long at the Irish Tech Awards, I was walking back through the main room and seeing an old picture of me on the screen, it scared the living daylights out of me. To then hear my name announced as person of the year was one of those moments in time when everything stands still! I was so proud to receive the award but the whole time knew that without the great team around me that none of what we have been recognised for in 2016 would be possible without them.
Anyone of a certain age has become that bit more mortal this year; the loss of Bowie, Prince, Lemmy, George Martin, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and so many more talents has made us all look at where we are a little bit more and consider what is the mark we want to leave. What can we be proud of ‘doing’ the most!
I look back on the way this part of this blog has evolved over the last four years. It used to be a list of the fun experiences, but, this year more than any year before it has become part of a reflection on the way I want to be and what I want to achieve, the way we want to take forward the goals we set ourselves has become that bit more important to each of us.
Time, apparently, is limited! In 2016 I have tried to squeeze every last moment out of every single day.
Talking about psychology recently with two friends they commented separately that child psychology asks us to celebrate the ‘art’ of trying rather than success, I agree, but…
… if we want to truly achieve the goals we set ourselves then 2017 will be the year of trying even harder, celebrating every single success along the way, making friends from colleagues and truly achieving as a team that understands why we do what we do. I say all this not with the lens of ‘imagine a world where we could’, but with the knowledge that the team is capable of this, a truly great start to the year knowing that is the case.
A new moto for 2017, ‘We can achieve, we truly can’, maybe linked to something to do with time actually being mortal rather than the usual never ageing, timeless phrases, this could be a good rallying cry for me for the work and the social elements of life in 2017!
We want to do so much, we have only time that is allowed, so let us stop promising, thinking and considering and lets really do what we think is right and give it our best shot, and lets make it fun along the way too!
Welcome in 2017, its going to be the best yet…