For the sixth year running I get to put ‘pen to paper’ and create my review of the year. A look back at the stuff I have done, the places I have been, the things I have learnt, the sounds I have heard and the things I have seen.
It’s become a tradition that I look forward to every year, it helps clear out my mind and gets me ready for the next years experiences; a bit like a disc de-frag, the consolidation of the years experiences captured as a memory of the year, to look back on and remind myself of all the good stuff in moments of challenge and to generally put some context to what was happening when the world changes around you.
It has been a busy year (all the reviews say that though), it’s been an impactful year with changes to so many parts of the life we live. The origins of this blog were a review of the music I had heard, a way of ‘formalising’ my playlist of the year but over the last three years I have used it more and more to reflect on the year gone and prepare for the year ahead.
Travel has played a bigger part in 2018 than ever before, I have had chance to talk about my passion, digital transformation in healthcare, on three continents this year, the air miles really have stacked up. With three very different trips to the USA my obsession with the American Way hasn’t waned at all. To see the way politics is impacting on life to such a degree in the US right now is fascinating and to see it in a few different places showed me that there isn’t any part of America that is generic and to think of it as one whole is just unbelievably wrong.
The big holiday of the year was a road trip through Florida, arriving in Orlando first and being able to visit Harry Potter World in all its fabulous glory was amazing. Walking around in lovely sunshine and on the last day in Orlando taking a 7 second drop into a zoom the flume at Volcano Bay was not something I expected to enjoy as much as I did, what a great start to the adventure.
The next part though, picking up the Ford Mustang and heading off down the Florida Keys was spectacular. The drive itself, the views, the next hotel in Fort Lauderdale was just amazing. By chance ending up at American Social on a Sunday afternoon on Las Olas was an eye opener, Drake pumping out of the most amazing sound system and every customer rapping and bouncing along was amazing and then the bike ride back to the hotel which was an adventure too.
The drive to Miami then was the thing of dreams, roof top off the car and a slow drive in to the city. Perhaps a little clichéd that we (I) insisted on Kendrick and Drake as the accompanying soundtrack. Miami is now first on my list of American cities to revisit, an amazing experience walking around seeing what I think could well be the best shopping experience in the world, the art and architecture, the food, drink, sounds and people really made it feel very special. It’s a bustle city and yet you can find a peaceful spot somewhere with such ease to watch the world go by, not to mention one of the most awesome book shops I have ever been in; Books and Books.
Then back to earth with a bump, Las Vegas and the worlds largest health tech conference (HIMSS), the first of two visits to Las Vegas in 2018 proved to be an odd one, amazing food and the general Las Vegas experience was awesome as was seeing David Guetta at the Wynn but HIMSS itself felt like you were captured in a pin ball machine, just too big and too much at the end of the holiday to really cope with; although I did get chance to present as the MC for the conferences first International Stage and be a judge in the Canadian start-up of the year competition so perhaps need to reflect more favourably on the visit.
Particularly because two months later I got to have a return trip to Las Vegas for my little brothers stag do (bachelor party)! Pool parties, trips into the desert (in a Ford Mustang again) a zip line down the longest shopping mall in the world and shoe shopping in Tom Ford all highlights of a great occasion. Driving in the desert with a great friend with a play list built for the two of us was awesome, Hoover Dam, dust storms and the Grand Canyon were all highlights of the year, but getting time with my brother in such an extraordinary place meant the world to me.
Trips to Brussels, Barcelona, Berlin, Dublin, Sitges, Seattle and many trips to London; time in Oxford and Birmingham; a wonderful weekend in Scarborough with some of the best friends we could ask for all made up more of the travel too. I think Barcelona is still my favourite city on earth though, even after experiencing so much this year. Being able to spend time in Sitges and experience a different type of Barcelona highlighted the way that the Catalonian lifestyle permeates everything that happens, the food, music and diversity of people never ceases to amaze me. The political backdrop in Barcelona continues to sway the city, the country and perhaps the whole of Europe a little but it is still the most beautiful place to be in the heart of.
Films and TV continued to take over a little in 2018 from going to see live music, is it an age thing or a lazy thing I am not sure but I think there has been some awesome movies out this year that I have thoroughly enjoyed, although I do still worry I live in Marvel Land a little too much:
|1 – Quiet Place||6 – First Man|
|2 – BlacKkKKlansman||7 – Leave No Trace|
|3 – Avengers: Infinity War||8 – Ant-Man and the Wasp|
|4 – Baby Driver||9 – Mission Impossible: Fallout|
|5 – Black Panther||10 – Annihilation|
The world of TV continues to change and evolve and bring a different type of entertainment to us all, the list of TV has to be a list that has come to me to be watched this year rather than simply being released this year;
|1 – Big Little Lies||6 – First|
|2 – Sinner S1||7 – Bodyguard|
|3 – Handmaid’s Tale S1||8 – Sharp Objects|
|4 – Killing Eve||9 – Handmaid’s Tale S2|
|5 – Westworld S1||10 – Jessica Jones S2|
When I look at this list though there is a lot of quite down and miserable TV in there, I need to find something cheerful and life affirming for 2019 to watch maybe, although there is something to be said for disappearing into a dark world and trying to work out where it will go next.
Every year new sounds, new styles and new artists come to the fore bringing a new listening pleasure for me. This year has seen some great album releases; George Fitzgerald (Both Albums), Maribou State, Honey Dijon, Everything is Recorded, Tycho, Rufus du Sol to list just a couple of recommendations, seeing Neneh Cherry (also she is in Leeds in February and puts on an awesome show if you can make the date!) back on the list is heart warming too, what an album that is.
The Dekmantel best of 2018 is also one I now can’t get off the speaker too. The list as a whole is a bit different, some slightly more downbeat stuff in some ways but the disco influence keeps coming out strong to keep it mostly a head nodding experience…
|1 – Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing (12” Mix) – Gloria Ann Taylor||17 – Leave A Light On – Tom Walker|
|2 – Look Ahead (Extended Mix) – Honey Dijon||18 – Roy Keane – Brame & Hamo|
|3 – Addison Lee – Not3s||19 – Water Baby – Tom Misch & Loyle Carner|
|4 – It Makes You Forget (Itgehane) – Peggy Gou||20 – At Night (Peggy Gou Remix) – Shakedown|
|5 – Young, Dumb & Broke – Khalid||21 – Turnmills (Club Mix) – Maribou State|
|6 – Half-Light (Night Version) – George Fitzgerald||22 – Shot Gun Shack – Neneh Cherry|
|7 – Bad Bad News – Leon Bridges||23 – In The Air – DMA’s|
|8 – Greasy Spoon – Sam Fender||24 – Horizon (Poolside Remix) – Tycho|
|9 – Techno Disco Tool – Mella Dee||25 – Girlfriend – Christine & the Queens|
|10 – Opal (Four Tet Remix) – Bicep||26 – Desert Night (Jesse Rose Mix) – Rufus Du Sol|
|11 – Everything Is Recorded – Everything Is Recorded||27 – Surprised By The Joy – Richard Ashcroft|
|12 – I Feel Joy (Feel The Spirit) – Nona Hendryx||28 – Beat 54 (Krystal Klear 12” Mix) – Jungle|
|13 – Vincent – James Blake||29 – Sincerity Is Scary – The 1975|
|14 – This Ain’t Freedom – Liife & Roland Clark||30 – Slow Disco (Piano Version) – St. Vincent|
|15 – Controller – Channel Tres||31 – Under the Moon – Claptone|
|16 – Perth (Dusky Remix) – KiNK||32 – Han Jan – Peggy Gou|
Peggy Gou features three times in one list which shows the obsession with the music she has put out this year and the Gloria Ann Taylor song, whilst an old song, was such an amazing moment in the Black Madonna essential mix earlier in the year that it had to make the list. And like the ‘old days’ when I used to make copied of this as a CD and hand write the track listings I can now share this playlist by the wonders of Apple Music; click HERE to listen.
Having said we didn’t make many gigs this year we did make Hannah Wants in March at the Mint Warehouse in sunny Leeds, a great night in a proper dance club venue, we did feel old though, made a bit worse by being told on two occasions in one night that it was good to see two older, well dressed people enjoying themselves at a ‘proper’ night! When Bicep got played on the night and the place went a bit bonkers though it was good to see how music that you have fallen for really hit the audience in the spot it was made for.
A family trip to Centre Parks in Nottinghamshire was a lovely weekend, spending time with our nieces and seeing the joy that family time brings was super, I hope that 2019 gives me more time to spend with them, seeing them grow up so quickly and become little adults built on awesome experiences, even if that is riding ponies in Centre Parks, is a lovely thing to see.
The chair of my organisation suggested a weekend at Oxford University in March as well, go and spend a weekend considering what the Automation of Business in 2022 should look like was the offer, and it was an amazing opportunity to mix with some wonderful brains and really see where this thing we do all day every day is taking us. The journey home though was when the second ‘dump’ of snow arrived, really quite an adventure as by the time we got to Sheffield everywhere was picture postcard beautiful and terrifyingly slippy in equal measure. Quite how we made it home I will never know, but then heading to the Cats Pyjamas on a craftily booked on line 9 o’clock dinner was quite the eye opener, watching the snow come down and the people of Headingly who had set out to celebrate St. Patricks day revel in the weather was hilarious.
Electronic Music in the City is a new Leeds city wide one day event that celebrates all elements of what makes up Electronic Music, for an inaugural event it was nothing short of amazing, venues all over the city with some of the best DJs and sound system you can see, perhaps the most astonishing though was seeing a hero of mine, KiNK take to the stage at Sheaf Street for a demonstration and conversation about making electronic music. He proceeded to make a melody based house music track with just a drum machine and loop as all his other kit had simply shut down on him, such amazing talent and a lovely friendly guy too. Talking of friendly dance music super stars, I also got to see Andy Butler of Hercules and Love Affair play in the sunshine on the roof of Headrow House after a big Saturday out, awesome experience even if I didn’t go and speak to him after and my friends did, what a DJ!
Ibiza this time was made brilliant by friends being there at the same time and some amazing repeat experiences, going to Ibiza though is like putting on a favourite pair of shoes, everything just fits nice, so sharing it with Tim and Rich this year was simply awesome, already looking forward to next year which we planned whilst there. Seeing the sun set from Mambo does two things to me nearly every time, it helps me remember all the times that went before and there have been some startling moments but it also makes me wish for people I have known in my life that ought to have seen that sun set, and that’s a sad edge to the experience.
Being able to get to a conversation with Matt Haig at Waterstones in Leeds was really interesting too. After a busy time at work and moving house and fitting back into life in Yorkshire it was great to hear from him and some of his interpretation of what we should try to consider and believe in to ensure that the light at the end of every day is bright, and if it isn’t then what he thinks we as humans should try to do. The audience that night was full of stories of beating the black feelings and sadness and what inspires them to set about on the war to beat mental health issues at every turn, truly inspiring stories for us all.
My top five book recommendations this year are as unconnected to each other in style and content as I think they have ever been on this blog, I know I enjoy the beauty of a book but in 2019 want to again try to promise myself to put Twitter down and pick up a real book more:
1 – Hit Refresh – Satya Nadella
2 – How To Stop Time – Matt Haig
3 – Annihilation – Jeff VanderMeer
4 – The Book of Humans – Adam Rutherford
5 – Out of My Tree (Midsummer House) – Daniel Clifford
My cook book collection doesn’t normally make the top 5 books I have read but Daniels Clifford’s story of how he made success happen is truly amazing, as are the recipes and the photographs, well worth a look. Satya’s book continues all year to be a point of reference and a source for great quotes.
The biggest event of the year though had to be the Corbridge-Carr wedding. An amazing day seeing my brother so happy, a day full of The Proclaimers, cardboard Gary Lineker and many many smiling faces. I was very proud to be asked to be best man and to give the speech a go, it seemed to mostly go down ok with laughs at the right moments and not too many fluffed words, still the most nervous I have ever been for giving a speech, give me 20,000 people in an auditorium any time over a group of family and friends who want you to be great, how odd is that! Standing at the front with the wedding party, holding the vicars book of words and seeing how the bride and groom were with each other filled me with joy for the future of two families linked together now over a very happy couple.
Trying new restaurants was one thing I spoke about in last years review, or rather looking forward to being back in Leeds and getting around to the many new places to eat that had sprung up; which we have done and really enjoyed but perhaps the real exploration has been looking at new restaurants in new cities. The Wilderness in Birmingham, American Social (On a Sunday) in Fort Lauderdale, Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds, Hide Above in London, Barnsley House in the Cotswolds, Bibendom in Kensington, Fera at Clarridges, Freak Scene in Soho, Harvest in the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Mignonette in Miami, Reserve Roastery in Seattle, The Old Bookbinders in Oxford, Alfresco in Sitges, The Percy Arms in Chatton, Oddfellows Café & Bar in Seattle, White Bait in Wellington, Bodega 1900 in Barcelona, Tapas24 also in Barcelona, Nobu in London, The Ivy back in Leeds have all added to the pallet and the senses at different times in 2018. But the one place we keep going back to in the later part of 2018 is The Reliance in Leeds, I have truly fallen for that place, you can rely on the Reliance!
I have always wanted to see the Chilly Gonzales show, how does one man manage to pull off a show of classical piano, rap and classic interpretations of dance songs in one show with a comedic value added for good measure! Well he does, and at the Leeds show with some of the best seats in the house you could see the raised eye brow for each moment, the way he ‘conducted’ his fellow musicians and indeed how absolute genius like he is on the black and white keys.
We decided that one of the things we would do is get on board with the vinyl junky experience, getting help from the team at Richer Sounds in Leeds we picked a setup we are very proud of and set about the business of creating a collection, old stuff we loved, jazz stuff we hadn’t heard before and soundtracks. The original deal struck was all music had to be pre-1990 but I couldn’t resist hearing Portishead, Massive Attack, Mo Wax and Oasis on the set up so we are now heading down a simple yet diverse collection of sounds.
It’s a year since leaving Ireland and the most amazing team and wonderful experiences, in September a couple of the team got in touch to ask if I would be willing to accept the O’Moore Medal for services to Health Informatics in Ireland, a prestigious honour that I jumped at the chance of. It was huge for me to go over, see the team, reminisce about what we had been able to do and dedicate the medal to four people who made it possible, Kevin, Fran, Joyce and Tony, four parts to a team I will never ever forget. The medal sits pride of place in my new office in Leeds and I am so thrilled to have been part of that journey.
Revisiting Seattle this year was a great learning experience, spending time with Virginia Mason for two days to understand what the way of Toyota has done for how they run a huge hospital was inspirational as was a whole day with the Microsoft team bringing colleagues up to speed with what the next digital leap will be in healthcare. I also had 8 hours to myself in Seattle, a great day exploring, the origins of Starbucks, the head offices of Amazon (Even the Amazon Go shop) the Jimi Hendrix statue, the oldest street, the Pike Market experience and the University campus all to a great soundtrack wherever you went. Three top picks for me for Seattle, go to the Amazon Go store to experience what shopping in the future will be like, take lunch at Oddfellows Café & Bar and see the stars of local film and fashion and spend an hour in the Elliott Bay Book Company, now one of my favourite places in the world.
More than 12 months ago I was asked to deliver the key note at the New Zealand health informatics gathering in Wellington in November, with our leave booked and our suitcases packed we set off on a 10 day trip to New Zealand in November. First stop off Singapore, with 10 hours to spare we headed into Singapore to wander around and get a feel for the city, we ended up at Marina Bay Sands and the Gardens by the Bay, a modern way to really celebrate an amazing natural environment. Then off to Wellington, we explored so much of Wellington, Cuba Street and the diversity on hand, Weta and the whole concept of Welliwood that has sprung up off the Peter Jackson films being based there. We saw where Hobbits would hide and where Hollywood stars took brunch and had an amazing time, although the 25-hour return journey was a real endurance test.
Being able to deliver the key note in New Zealand though was something special career wise. I bounced on stage and told a story of digital music, Singapore development, American jugglers, Magic engagement tools and the Twilight Zone. One of those moments I will always now remember; and as far as speeches goes it made me some new friends too.
Last year I continued a new tradition of also considering the people I had worked with or met over the year and the impact and memories they brought to what I do and who I am. Working with Molly Gilmartin and the Forward team was an inspiration to how the start-up ethos can and should impact on what we do; having Molly work with my team on what it means to be a disruptive leader and then later in the year see her inspire the whole department at the All Staff Meeting was a great experience, whatever Molly does next will be worth watching that much I am certain of. Bringing two speakers to meet the team in Leeds also had a huge impact, the same it did on me the first time I met them, Dr. Jessica Barker of Cygenta and Jamie White of Leading Social delivered inspiration for new ways of thinking and applying that thinking to what we do to the whole team and it was great to see them hear these inspirational voices for the first time and reflect on the impact they had on me the first time I heard them.
Kindness, sincerity and authenticity are three traits I want to model always, working with a hero of mine Gwyn Thomas on two occasions (and one planned for next year) was a great experience and one I cherish dearly. Meeting Wayne Dyson, not a supplier but the true embodiment of a partner was also exciting and I can’t wait to see where the partnership takes us next, when one ‘supplier’ cares so much about what we do it can only be a good year ahead! And reaffirming the relationship with a colleague like Andy Williams and then being able to so rely on one person to support you through some challenging actions has been brilliant.
Moving house meant we had new neighbours to meet, we had been very lucky in Ireland to have made some amazing friends, here in sunny Leeds though we have made the best of new friends in David and James, true gentlemen and scholars of everything they do.
What a year, so much happened, I haven’t even described what it was like to be at the CIO100 with an old friend, to have the secretary of state visit us and describe us as ‘mind blowing’, to work with a talented a team unlike any I have had the honour to call a peer before, to meet so many new people and create new relationships that I think are now more and more partnerships.
So as always a statement or rallying cry for 2019 needs to be created off the back of the year that was. In the past I spoken about bouncing out of bed every morning, about taking each day as a new opportunity and about how to create the right environment for change. As we head to 2019 for me my outlook needs to be that change will happen, in Leeds we have somewhat built a future on the Robert Frost quote,
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.
In 2019 I am committed to the development of what we do, who we are and how we do it, I want to use the Emily Dickinson quote as a mantra for why,
The brain is wider than the sky!
I guess my mantra for 2019 though will be to follow in the path of the ever wonderful Fatboy Slim and applying his vision of a good DJ to my life,
A good DJ is always looking at the crowd, seeing what they’re like, seeing whether it’s working, communicating with them. Smiling at them. And a bad DJ is always looking down at what they’re doing all the time and just doing their thing that they practiced in their bedroom.
2019, the year of looking up, smiling and being part of the team!
Well folks, its that time of year again, a reflection of 365 days; things that have happened, things that that I’ve heard, things that I’ve watched things that I’ve learnt.
This is the fifth time I have been able to do a review of the year, take a little time and reflect on what has happened to me over 12 months. As I looked back on 2016 I commented that I thought it had been a quick one, where has the time gone, this year seems to have evaporated in front of my very eyes.
One change that has happened that I would never have predicted at the beginning of the year was that I would be writing this blog back in Leeds, back in my home county, my home city. The decision to leave Ireland was not an easy one, but I have written about that already on here. Being back in Yorkshire with family and friends is a heart-warming change. As part of the planning process for coming back to Yorkshire my wife commented how strange it is when you travel, how you can wake up on one day a member of a great team in Ireland and within 24 hours migrate to being part of something quite new. Well, we are a month into something quite new and indeed something we have done before; maybe it’s the best of both worlds, it doesn’t feel like going back but more a forward leap of faith to try and test the next part of tomorrow.
I certainly dare not even try to predict what 2018 holds for us. I was lucky enough to meet Gus Balbontin (of Lonely Planet fame) this year. Gus was adamant that every time we create a plan a fairy dies, so, 2018 will be my attempt to do less plans, more simply considering what to do next and less dead fairies! And, if you ever see Gus on a list of speakers at an event go see him, so inspirational in so many ways, energy, storytelling, sheer will of determination to make you understand his message, awesome!
Travel has played a huge part in 2017 for me, a dream holiday at what will now become a habitual holiday time for us happened in February. A few days in Bangkok followed by two amazing weeks on Phuket. I never did the whole backpack traveller thing; I was too ambitious to get my career started! Being in Bangkok blew my mind, probably in less than 10 minutes of being there. Temples, lady boys, practically free bear, live food choices, huge market places and the most expensive glass of wine I have ever had all featured in a very short time in Bangkok. We were then on to the relaxing part of the holiday on a very sunny Phuket. It really did allow my brain to recharge but after a few days of that learning the basics of Thai boxing, heading to Café Del Mar on Phuket and then following in the footsteps of Leonado De Caprio were all new adventures and highlights, experiences that made it the holiday of a life time.
2017 was also the year of some formal activities too, becoming a god father was an amazing experience, the fact that two wonderful friends and people I feel I have known forever want me to help in the upbringing of their very beautiful second daughter was amazing, and leading a reading at the service was a highlight of the year. Setting me up for another formal event in a few short months, my brother and his amazing fiancée decided that I would be the right person to be their best man in August 2018. I guess a prediction I can make is that the review of 2018 will feature some stories from the stag-do in Las Vegas and the wedding in August.
I have had the great pleasure, as I have had every year, of working with some new amazing people, but in particular this year I properly got to know the team at Leading Social, a driven, aware, capable and unbelievably creative bunch, led by the ever up and ‘at’em’ Jamie White and the calmest and most considered side kick ever, Emma Klyne. When you meet an organisation like Leading Social and it becomes a partnership so quickly it always fills me with enthusiasm for what the future will hold.
Only one trip to Ibiza beats this years, and that one is unbeatable. But this year everything went so well, seeing Hot Since 82 and Purple Disco Machine, making it to some of the best day time dancing in beautiful sunshine with a lot fun scenery made for a great holiday, so much that the dates are booked straight away to repeat the experience.
When I first started writing this yearly review it focused on lists of music, the songs of the year, and yes I can’t not do that for my own piece of mind, but perhaps most interesting this year is the sudden re-emergence for me of albums, sets of music played in the order that the artist originally intended for the youngsters out there! New music by the likes of; Kolsch, Kink, Bicep, Terrence Parker, Jesse Rose, George Fitzgerald, LCD Soundsystem, Hercules and Love Affair, Honey Dijon, Anja Schneider, Maya Jane Coles, Purple Disco Machine and Emancipator have really given me something to look forward to when the release date came around, all recommendations for your listening pleasure.
Live music is still part of every month, and some of the best nights out have been gigs this year; James Vincent McMorrow in the grounds of Trinity University, Go Go Penguin, U2, The Happy Mondays, Loyle Carner, King Krule and Fatima Yamaha have all been part of the live experiences this year. Perhaps the best though was seeing Air at the Beatyard festival on a very very wet day in Ireland, one of those bucket list bands I had to see.
So one of the things I have done every year since 2003 is pick my songs of the year and keep them as a play list to go back to and enjoy, this years top 40 goes something like this:
The way taste changes, evolves and grows I find fascinating. Ireland changed my music taste, radio friendly pop music crept in, I am interested to see what being back home in Yorkshire does to it in 2018, certainly the gigs we are lining up would suggest a continued interest in those melody driven dance songs.
If we are going to do the songs list we may as well get the films (and TV Series) list up too;
|1 – Wonderwoman||6 – The Sinner (TV)|
|2 – La La Land||7 – Logan|
|3 – Stranger Things 2 (TV)||8 – 13 Hours|
|4 – Hacksaw Ridge||9 – Passengers|
|5 – Arrival||10 – American Gods (TV)|
I’m not always sure these were released truly this year but they landed on my screen this year and I enjoyed them a great deal. I stopped myself from adding Defenders and The Punisher and Luke Cage as well, that could have been a step too far. The second season of The Get Down did it for me as well but for some reason nobody else seemed to enjoy it the same, don’t you just hate that when your programme gets cancelled before it gets to some sort of fruition.
Being named as the number one CIO in the CIO100 was such a great moment in the year for me. The CIO100 is something I have been involved in for a few years now; being number 15 the very first year and the party that we threw the next day back at the organisation I worked for will stick with me forever. Being there at the front of the book was a wonderful recognition this year. I loved ‘giving’ the Oscar speech as well, making sure I didn’t forget the people that put me there, one day there will be a way of awarding the team of a digital organisation without so specifically calling out one person.
The after party that was arranged was pretty cool, one of the smallest clubs in London, in an old Gents loo with the most amazing dancing on stage, and me, in my celebratory state almost making it back-stage instead of outside will go down in my own stories of legend. The year kept being quite award driven though, a big surprise was a new category at the eGov Awards in Ireland, being announced by my Minister at the time as the winner of the Net-Visionary award was pretty cool.
Perhaps the best of the awards though was in early December at the Talent Unleashed awards. An award across the whole globe judged by Sir Richard Branson and Steve Wozniack, they decided to give me the award for the things that had been achieved in digital health in Ireland; most disruptive digital leader, it was such a great night in the museum of London and felt like a nice personal ‘round-off’ to three years in Ireland working with a wonderful team.
Meeting new people has an impact on all of us, in 2016 I met Fabian Bolin from War on Cancer, in 2017 I was able to invite him to a stage I was hosting, hearing his story touch people as it had done me a year earlier was a great moment. Disease and cancer in particular continues to touch so many people, we all have a story that makes an experience personal, to hear Fabian speak puts a new context on what we as individuals can do about it. In the job I do I try to talk to teams about being in it for the mission of making healthcare systems ‘right’, people like Fabien are the true inspiration for this as a way of being, a definite highlight of the year, a man who gave me so much courage through the year.
Talking of courage and teams; Wannacry as a highlight? Well in Ireland it was! Leaving Galway after a series of meetings a call came in from the NHS alerted us to the fact that something quite serious was about to happen. Those couple of hours gave Ireland the opportunity to get ahead of the curve and protect the boundaries of the system. I have never been prouder than on the Sunday hearing the roll call of people involved working so hard to do a job they did because they cared so much. It made for a busy weekend, TV and Radio and generally ensuring that everyone in health knew what to do when they touched a computer over those few days was something we now put down as a significant effect on the way Ireland came out of Wannacry. The team achieved the plaudits they deserved and for a short while the health system was seen as a leader in all things digital in Ireland.
Traveling for work became a part of the job in Ireland a part that was enjoyable although not always actually seeing much of the places I went to; Brussels, Malta, Barcelona, Estonia, London, Belfast, Richmond and Seattle all featured on the passport stamp in 2017. Perhaps the most fun travel though was the Maternity Digital Challenge; three cars in a challenge to visit every Maternity unit in Ireland (19 Units) in 24 hours and at the end of it publish a digital strategy for maternity services. The fastest piece of policy ever in Ireland and one that if acted upon fully will truly change the way maternity services are offered across the country.
The great thing about the travel side of what I do is obviously meeting people and the connections that then brings. Social media is a huge part of maintaining these connections, in 2017 a great many new connections have been made, the ones I continue to learn most from or truly inspire me on an almost daily basis include;
|1 – @MattHaig1||6 – @MrDanWalker|
|2 – @ValaAfshar||7 – @DrJessicaBarker|
|3 – @MuziekGeluk||8 – @Pnolan99|
|4 – @Nickisnpdx||9 – @Rosarii_mannion|
|5 – @TedRubin||10 – @evankirstel|
In 2018 there will be a new set of lists of the digital health leaders to follow coming out of Ireland and indeed HIMSS will be publishing their 50 global leaders, having featured in the Huffington Post social media lists I really think this is a great way of getting in touch with a different set of people that can expand what you know and what you want to learn. In the case of @Nickisnpdx and @MuziekGeluk I have met two people who genuinely have changed my life views. Two others in ‘the business’ that are also worth a follow are: @UKPenguin and @Andy_Kinnear, real digital health heros in a half-shell!
Life views get changed by events and people, Manchester and the impact the horrible events of that evening had on so many people will always now bare a mark on me. I love live events, and now they will always be a thought that goes out to those people that were harmed by the horrors of what happened in Manchester. I went to see Professor Brian Cox just days after Manchester, the odd calmness to the delays, the new acceptance of a normal that has come to us is quite scary. Professor Cox provided almost a eulogy for me in the way he delivered his ‘set’, how we are all human beings here on this planet for reasons unknown and yet so many people seem to be set here to destroy all that is good. In the wake of Manchester many people tried hard to stress the need to simply spread love not hate, I wish that would continue to hold strong in 2018.
You can tell you are getting older, not just by the amount of grey hair but by a change in the what you love to do when you go out. For me this year new restaurants have played a huge part in my entertainment; Tickets, Social Eating House, Amuse, Hang Dai, Punch Room, Café Del Mar, Blind Pig, Mulberry Garden, Tattu, Cats PJs and Headrow House have all made a difference to the nights out I have enjoyed.
I have managed to get to the Café Del Mar on Ibiza, Barcelona, Thailand and Malta (Although Malta is a ‘fake’ version) and I am lucky enough to be adding Miami to the list in a couple of months, which just leaves Dubai. Amazing music, super food and normally some pretty cool entertainment make the Ibiza version of Café Del Mar still up there in the top places for me!
One of the last things I got to do in Ireland was a little dream come true, speaking at a literary festival. Something Wicked is a little crime writing festival in North Dublin and I had the great honour of speaking at it on the threats of Cyber Crime and how the world is changing through digital. It was a superb audience with a lot of smiling faces and great discussion and questions after. I would love to do it again in the future I enjoyed it so much.
Being back in the UK re-opens one of my other favourite pass times, shopping! With Vivian Westwood, Jeffery West, Pretty Green, Paul Smith, Jigsaw, Hip, Ok Comics, All Blues Co. and so many more wonderful shops in Leeds Saturdays (When Barnsley FC aren’t at home) are going to be fun and have been already since getting back here.
My last two memories of Ireland and 2017 are people based, my parting gift from Roisin Doherty was my very own certificate of my Individual Health Identifier, seeing that on paper and it being able to be used to aid in the delivery of my care is a great achievement for a small team of dedicated and inspiring leaders, none more so than Roisin who I can safely say is one of the most accomplished Project Managers I have come across and I know will go on to do amazing things in the digital health space, a definite highlight of 2017.
Last but not least was leaving Niamh, my trusted sidekick for only a couple of years but leaving someone who has helped you so much was difficult, we joked in those last few days about the importance Niamh has played in the success of eHealth Ireland, for those that are still involved on the Green Isle, it was no joke, Niamh is the centre of that world and intrinsic to its success. Working with someone who simply gets what you are doing was a great part of 2017, a lot of laughter was shared.
So here we are, on the verge of 2018. A new team, a new goal, a new environment and a new outlook, last year I leapt into 2017 with a new motto; ‘We can achieve, we truly can.’ I was full of vigour for not doing things like we always have, doing something different.
2018 is going to be the year that I work with my new team and try hard to;
‘… change what we do to change who we are.’
Small changes, small moves of the behaviour dial is all it takes to make a difference when the team you are part of is as good as what I have inherited here in Leeds. The culture I now work within can and will be our advantage in 2018 and I want to be part of the changes we each make more than anything else. After all as Bob Dylan says, ‘There is nothing so stable as change.’
We are in the year of the Rooster, so every morning I will try hard to wake up with the call of the Rooster ready for the next new challenge!
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…
It’s that most wonderful time of year again, Christmas is done, and for the last three years I have looked forward to writing down the fun stuff that has added a bit of magic to everyday of the year.
It has been a year of exploration; I guess it was always going to be, moving to a new country, a new job and a whole new set of experiences for us to consider as the both us started falling in love with our new home. Stan Lee in Spiderman has Uncle Ben consider power, responsibility and change, this year I corrupted the quote for my own purposes,
“With great responsibility has to come great fun, or else the responsibility will breed contempt and commitment will be harder to maintain.”
At the time it felt better than work hard, play hard and a little less American management school as well!
In late January I set out into town with a couple of new friends, they wanted to show me my new town from a different perspective. The first Dublin wander was underway, a trip to great places to enjoy company, a pint and some fun, something that Dublin is famous for. This takes me to my first list of the 2015 review, my top five favourite places to eat drink and be merry in Dublin:
There could be so many more on the list though as we really have enjoyed exploring the city with every visitor that has come to Ireland, and there have been plenty in our first year, additional mentions have to go to Fade Street roof (if the sun is shining), The Long Hall (for authenticity), Whitefriar Grill (for something so very different) and I would be ostracised by the boys that visited in May if I didn’t mention the Temple Bar (for sheer staying power!).
As with years going back to 2002 I have collated my songs of the year, and again when I spend the time looking at how different my taste changes I am quite taken a back. In 2002 my top songs were rather miserable in theme, certainly dark and almost beat free. And yet here I am writing,
‘Disco music can be cool again,’
…who would have thought that would be possible in 2015! On one of my brothers visits he asked, ‘what’s with all the disco music?’ It made me realise that suddenly a take on 70s disco had made it back on to my iPOD. And this became one of the musical revelations this year for me that if you mix some decent old disco with a house beat then you can hear something quite cool. Think Glitterbox in sunny Ibiza or the very talented Dimitri from Paris or the Todd Terje edits on the Masters of the Universe mixes or Tensnake or Booka Shade or Sandy Rivera or Joey Negro the list could go on and on! All awesome shape throwing fun, whilst cooking dinner in the kitchen, I am over 40 after all!
So my top twenty songs of the year are:
So yet again I have to go over the allocated twenty songs (29 exist on the actual playlist)and I am quite struck in building the list this year by the influence of living in Ireland, more ‘pop’ music than ever before which I put down to listening to more commercial radio than I think I have ever before and a resurgence for the male singer songwriter for me, which again is so prevalent in Ireland through the story telling in the delivery of songs. One thing I do still thoroughly enjoy though is the excitement to hear new music, getting ready for Field Day, Forbidden Fruit and other big festivals and gigs is all part of the tradition of new music for me. In last year’s review I moved from simply listing my top ten gigs to top events which was a reflection I thought on growing older, well I’m still growing older so here are my events:
Weddings – Two of my closest friends made honest ladies of their partners, both weddings reaffirmed to me the importance of friendship. To be in a room full of people who mean so much to a couple, to have been chosen to share in that was quite a wonderful part of 2015. It didn’t matter if it was acting out scenes from Reservoir Dogs walking up the road or throwing shapes to a live version of Uptown Funk being with the best friends you could ask for was what mattered most.
Field Day – A sunshine day again, as always one of the first on to the field but with chance to get to know the site and play the village mentality games. Field Day, probably the best one day festival there is! Catching Jack Garratt, Jungle, Todd Terje and the Olsens and the Farnborough Concert Band were highlights as was catching up with a long lost friend for fun and silliness.
Once – One of my all-time favourite films came to Dublin as a stage show, and totally by accident we went on the night that the mighty Glen Hansard was there. The encore of the show saw him jump on stage and for what would turn out to be the third time we would see Glen perform The Auld Triangle. An embarrassing note for me on the night was to be star struck in the bar of the very lovely Olympian, not (just) at seeing Glen in the bar but at seeing the Love/Hate star Susan O’Loughlin, I did apologise via twitter the next day though! Phew!
Barcelona – A spare day alone in Barcelona on a trip, what better way to spend the lunch time than to head to Bodega 1900. In the El Raval district Bodega is one of the Adria Brothers Barcelona restaurants (the most famous is Tickets, literally across the road). I sat in beautiful sunshine and had the most exquisite tapas known to man, the Spherical Olive in particular will stay with me forever.
Greenhouse lunch – A reservation just for two to try out a new place for Saturday lunch, we were blown away, the service, the taste and the art of what was served, but mostly the company, proving time after time in Ireland that some of the best things to do are done in twos.
Powerscourt – On a recommendation we took the car to this quite amazing Wicklow County place, as you step through the main entrance the views simply blow you away, having returned in sunshine and grey days I can safely say the magic doesn’t decrease but there is always something special about the first visit.
Poolbeg Lighthouse – A cold and windy day so we decided to walk out to sea! Well not quite but taking the camera we walked the concrete path to Poolbeg Lighthouse in the middle of Dublin Bay. The Poolbeg towers have become almost a talisman of being in Dublin for us, I see them every day to and from work so to be the other side of them looking back to beautiful Dublin really put a different perspective on the landscape.
Aqua lunch – Another recommendation from so many people, it had to be followed up. A lovely coastal train ride round to Howth and wander down the peer and then the second best Oysters I have ever eaten, the first will never be beaten!
Ed Sheeran – As I said in the music review part of this blog, pop music has had a resurgence in my life in 2015. Getting old or commercial radio are to blame, and yet Ed Sheeran has always been part of my iPod library since his debut performance on Wayfaring Stranger on Jools Holland all those years ago. So to grab four tickets for the Crooke Park gig was exciting, I was worried for the chap beforehand, over eighty thousand people in a stadium to see a solo artist. I needn’t have worried, he was awesome, engaging and played his heart and soul out from start to finish, and there was Glen Hansard again and that Auld Triangle! To share it with new friends from Ireland also made it extra special too.
Forbidden Fruit – Ibiza ended up rained out this year, which was perhaps a reflection of our first Ireland festival too. We arrived in sunshine, we explored the site in sunshine, then the heavens opened for a good couple of hours. And yet that disco/house mix mentioned earlier kicked in and Booka Shade blew away the clouds and Tensnake promoted a dance routin from me that ended up on Facebook. A great (wet) day that we can’t wait to repeat!
Maybe it’s moving to a new place or trying to do too many things but books have shrunk in my life in 2015, and that is a huge regret. I guess we read so much for work and staying on top of social media when you have moved away seems suddenly more important, however I am going to fix that in 2016. So my top five books for 2015 are probably not going to be any kind of revelation to anyone else but;
I enjoyed each of them and they are I think quite an eclectic mix that’s for sure.
I have explained before in previous reviews of the year that the experience of a film in our house is not the big cinema style so much, not sure why but it has not become something we do. This then results in my favourite films of the year being six months behind the rest of the world, top films though this year have to include Boyhood for the sheer cleverness of commitment to such a huge project and Birdman for something a bit different where the film actually does happen. Being able to watch those two films in the same year that I was persuaded to watch Locke and The Rover, both films that on paper looked great and yet very little happened, particularly Locke, which looked good from start to finish, but is clear proof that looking good isn’t enough for a film, particularly at home on the ‘small’ screen.
The war/conflict film still continues to be a huge draw for me with 71 and Fury and The Monument Men and American Sniper all entertaining from start to finish. Whilst I have loved all of the Marvel films to date I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy Ant-Man and then by 15 minutes in I was completely hooked, smashing stuff. So my top ten films of the year are:
I’m going to save a spot on here for Star Wars, how can it not be in the top ten films!
The year review for me has always been about the social and cultural part of life, an indulgence I look forward to allowing myself on this blog site.
However the year has been such an exciting one from a work point of view forgive me two reflections that stand up as milestones for me. Firstly sharing a front page on an internet news outlet headline with Kim Kardashian and her Emojis was pretty cool in December, if not a little odd. There it was a photo of me and the next news panel was Kim and her new Emojis, enough to really make you check that the world was still spinning in the same direction!
And then the other was as much about the discovery as it was about the achievement, for Huffington Post to put me in the top social CIOs in the world was a fun honour, to find out via a retweet that mentioned me did place social media and twitter in particular in my mind as a giant leap forward for how we engage as leaders in technology, a part of my role I have thoroughly enjoyed this year.
So another year comes to an end, what will next year bring, I’m already looking forward to the Sunday Times list of artists to watch in 2016. With LCD Soundsystem releasing a Christmas song there is always a set of crossed fingers for some new stuff by them and a possible tour so I can tick them off my bucket list, although I think I may simply being hopeful.
Happy new year folks, here’s to the next one, slainte!
Last year around this time I wrote my first blog piece that wasn’t related to work and being a CIO in the healthcare business.
I wrote it on a whim to reflect on all the great things that 2013 had brought, and boy 2013 had been a great year! 2014 has followed in a similar way, perhaps more change than I would have thought this time last year, I certainly did not think I would be sat in Ireland writing this that’s for sure but it has been a great year.
As with last year music remains a huge part of our lives. In 2014 the theme that started in 2013 continued with a much more cheerful outlook to the music that gets played the most. Since 2002 I have tried to create a playlist of my top twenty songs of the year, it used to be traditional for a group of us to ‘share’ these around but technology has moved us on, I am not sure what some people would do with a CD with 20 songs on if I gave it to them nowadays!
So here is my list instead:
So, its 22 rather than 20, I just couldn’t get it any lower this year, there has been so much new and different music available, I guess some of that is related to how easy it is to listen to new music and some of it relates to the impact of peoples tastes who you are around? So much of it reminds me now of the sunshine, some of it even comes from a prediction made as a comment on the 2013 version of this blog (Step up Alex T with the wise words on Gorgon City).
Yet again I feel I ‘could have done better’ with the book diary, there have been some gems in there though, both literary wonder and classic beach fodder! My top five books of the year are:
If I had to pick a top book though it would be Matt Haig’s, an absolutely brilliant ride of a book, half way social commentary, half way sci-fi half way comedy, surely its crying out for the film rights to be snapped up!
Also highly recommended for anyone who wants to try to understand what baseball is all about are two wonderful items; the first is a book simply called Baseball by George Vecsey, it puts the context, rules, excellence and addiction out there and allows you to begin to understand why Baseball is the sport it is, the second item is the film to Million Dollar Arm which is so entertaining and delivers a real insight into how Baseball is played in America, a great way to move on to films.
When it comes to films I still seem to be a wait for the Blue Ray kind of person it would seem, much to the irritation of my other half. So my top five films are all ones I have either seen on Blue Ray or on flights this year:
So my cinematic taste hasn’t grown up still. Last year I missed Gravity, Captain Phillips, Wolf of Wall Street and Dallas Buyers Club off the list all of which were amazing films but films mean something different to me than music, they seem to be so much more about the immediate gratification whereas I am so much more patient with music and its ability to get under your skin and grow with you. Both Lone Survivor and The Conjuring had me hiding behind my hands and yelling at the screen, for me what a film should do?!
In 2013 we travelled a great deal, when we look back on it now it was only a dint in the travel we did in 2014. For me two weekend breaks we took were something else, to be in Rome for my 40th birthday was extraordinary, wine tasting in a quite wonderful little back-water wine cellar with a small bunch of people was a special experience. The other weekend break was a late trip to Barcelona, a city I have always wanted to visit, and now would go back at the drop of a hat, we were very lucky, we went when it would be a little quieter so we could get around and yet the weather was mostly great. So much to see though, so many wonderful little places to eat and drink truly a great city to enjoy the ‘bar fly’ experience.
Our Easter trip to the states was quite a surprise too, both of us on a proper road trip taking in Boston, Princeton, Philadelphia, New York and Washington DC in ten days meant we got to experience so much of east coast USA. We were able to live out our West Wing fantasies at Foggy Bottom as well as see the quite extraordinary experience that is the NYC Easter bonnet parade, never have I seen so much effort go into the creation of a hat!
The most important trips though have to be the Ireland trips this year, arriving in August to be interviewed for what would become my dream job was quite a scary trip but one that re-affirmed that we both wanted it, house hunting Kirsty and Phil style was a couple of fun days too and got us to where we wanted to be for the next chapter in our lives.
The last list of ‘things’ for 2014 is the events, last year it was the gigs and theatre trips, this year it has to stretch to be the events a little more, I thought last year it was because I am getting too old for the gigs, and I still think this is probably the case, but also its becoming just as much fun to go to the speaking events and be part of these as it is to dance the night away at a gig:
So, that’s it, the end of 2014, and the leap into 2015! With several friends getting married in 2015, holidays in the calendar already, camping in Northumberland and the family traditions of Ibiza and Field Day to look forward to already I can’t wait to sit here and reflect on 2015 in twelve months’ time.
Thanks for reading….
Happy New Year!
Please forgive me for dropping a more socially biased blog on to this site, I wanted to try to capture my thoughts on the year that was, the things that had an impact on me and how so much ‘media’ and ‘culture’ really does have an impact on who we are and what we do…
I’ve been with my partner in crime for two years, and our tastes in all things cultural were probably about 70% similar when we met, slowly but surely I am being converted, particularly to a different kind of music. I can reflect on that a great deal as I do what I have done every year since 2002 and collate my top 20 songs of the year:
So, gone is the miserable guitar music, hardly any Americana, and no Ryan Adams. In is a more cheery outlook, some beats and the word remix! My best friend thinks this is a great change, he once told me he didn’t ‘get’ my music because it was very ‘band based’. I have to say I have enjoyed discovering some new music this year and turning that misconception of mine that the majority of music with beats could also double as a car alarm!
One thing that hasn’t changed though is my love of the ‘Comic Book Film’, and whether they came out this year or not watching and re-watching The Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America, Superman, Batman and Spiderman still makes me feel like a kid and is something I can now ‘share’ with my partner in crime, I’m not sure she always wants to have these shared at her though but…
My favourite new films of the year though have to be,
Not quite cinematic masterpieces I am sure and I haven’t seen Gravity or Captain Phillips yet so they didn’t make it on here!
The book diary is nowhere near as full as I wanted it to be at the start of 2013, I set a target of a book a month, which I hit, but I had hoped for a few more and I seem to have read books about work more this year than ever before. Top two recommendations from me are:
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach: A wonderful American novel delivering a warm story of coming of age no matter where you are from.
The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver: Gave me more food for thought and analogies than any other book I have ever read, I wasn’t sure if it was a book that I would apply to work or not, but I did!
When it comes to going out and visiting new places 2013 certainly did that for me, so my top few destinations are below, they are not all new destinations for me but sharing the experiences with new people in some cases has made the destination that bit even more special:
And if I am honest Café Mambo should be on there again, because returning in August with a bunch of friends and seeing their faces as it went from relatively quiet to ‘THE’ place to be for the evening was a wonderful experience.
Your interest in things matures and evolves I guess, I thought I would give most things a go (although still not Oysters!) but giving Ceviche a go was a marvel, now I am looking for it on every menu wherever we visit!
Last on the lists is the live music and theatre experiences, there have been less this year than in years gone by, either I am getting old or enjoying being home a little too much but the top gigs have to be:
All in all a great year, in fact the best year, I am excited about 2014, already plenty of plans, some to simply do what we did last year and some new experiences to have……
Happy new year everyone.