Where the time has gone

Where has the time gone? It’s been a while since I last shared an update. Here’s my best attempt to account for where the time has gone…

My family finally had the chance to meet in Portugal for Thanksgiving, which was wonderful! It was the first time I got to see my brother in 2 long years. After being nomadic for most of the pandemic, he has settled in Atlanta. My mom is healthy and as busy as ever. If you follow the crypto craziness (and know my mom), you’ll appreciate this quick story. While exploring the back streets of Ericeira, we stumbled across a small shop selling crypto t-shirts with different currency logos on them. The designer was beside himself when my mom looked at the shirts and said “No, that’s Polkadot, I want Ethereum“! Unfortunately, the new variant may impact our plans to visit Grant’s family in South Africa. He has a 1+ year old niece that we’ve never met and we haven’t seen the rest of his family since well before the pandemic began :/.

As many of you know, Grant and I rented a place in Calstock, Cornwall (southwest England). The initial 6 month lease ended in September, but we’re still there :). It’s been amazing to have direct access to the River Tamar for paddling and the countryside for hikes. We mostly eat locally grown produce and we have an “egg dealer” who provides us with not only fresh eggs, but homemade juices, jams, and honey. The pub across the street serves a fantastic nut roast on Sundays. The local arts center puts on high quality shows. We’ve even been invited to join the Christmas Lights Hanging Committee!

We still haven’t figured out what the plan is long term and whether we’re really prepared to leave city life completely. International flights often aren’t easy (not that we take many of those these days), and I’m fairly dependent on Grant and ‘his’ car for transportation. The UK won’t exchange many foreign drivers licenses for local ones, so I’d have to take a driving test again to drive legally here. I also made a fuss to Grant about not wanting a car or any life admin related to car ownership, so I’d have to dig myself out of that hole too ;]. 

The exciting thing is that we have a lot of flexibility. Both Grant and I are able to work remotely from almost anywhere (timezone, visa, and tax implications notwithstanding). I’m eligible for permanent residence in the UK and just need to pass my Life in the UK test, which I’m hoping to sort out by year end. The national emblem of Wales is the leek, in case anyone was wondering. Once that’s done, I can apply for UK citizenship 12 months later. Sadly, unless the rules in HK change before March, I’m unlikely to retain my permanent residence there. It’s really hard to justify 3 weeks of hotel quarantine given the situation these days.

My year-long, part-time sabbatical ended and I’m back at Anthemis 4 days a week as of October 1st. The initial sabbatical plan was to write a book for practitioners (designers, consultants, coaches) to help them understand the social side of the problem they’re trying to solve. The book will make a case for why this is so valuable, teach people how to map the networks of their clients and customers, and help them interpret those maps to make design and business decisions. It’s taken much longer to write than I expected, but I think the final product will be better as a result. If you want to stay updated on my progress, you can sign up for my newsletter here: I’m planning to start releasing chapters of the book as articles in January.

My role at Anthemis has shifted to reflect this focus. My new title is Head of Community and Network, and more organisations like ours are creating similar roles. My work is roughly a third data science, a third product management, and a third community management. The emphasis is around supporting communities at scale and creating the products, services, and tools to nurture those communities. The projects I work on vary a lot, but you can read about one case study here:

This summer I started working with a therapist to explore my relationship to time. The narrative I tell myself is that I have a strong sense of impermanence because of the deaths I experienced as a child (childhood friend at 4, father at 6, grandfather at 17). A side effect is that I put a lot of pressure on myself and others to use my time “well”. It has contributed to burn out twice in my life, once in university and again in Hong Kong. It also creates friction between myself and partners. The pandemic has certainly helped in many ways, but has also exposed inevitable weaknesses. I’m sure many of you can relate to that :]. In other news, I’ve signed up with a team to row across the Atlantic Ocean in a couple of years. It’s about 3,000 miles and will take us 40 days from La Gomera to Antigua – if we beat the current world record. Unfortunately, one of our team members has had to back out. If you or someone you know is interested in joining us in Dec 2023, let me know :p!