What’s next?

I’m turning 38 and as of 13 contractual days ago, I have a job at Bulb as Head of Labs (new products, new parternships). Bulb is an affordable and green energy company.

So I’m back working in Shoreditch in a co-working space set up by David Cameron’s former digital advisor that looks like something out of The Shining. I’m running a team in a business of 300 employees.

Some of this feels new (where did all these young people come from?), some of this is not (Bagels on Brick Lane). It’s definitely strange though.

Why did I take a job you ask?

Well. It turns out that pioneering in the internet of things space isn’t really what pays the bills anymore. Writing a book doesn’t pay them at all and without sales reports, I’ll only know once a year (if a check comes through the door) how successful that has been. And then there’s Brexit. Many of my friends in #iot consultancies and startups have reported a rather quiet year. Does it feel like the financial crisis did? I don’t know as I had started Tinker in 2007 when I moved to London, aged 26. Since then I’ve managed to do quite a few things:

– sold the first Arduinos in the UK
– hired the best in the country to help me run Arduino, product, innovation workshops
– worked with a variety of companies from adland, traditional press to R&D departments
– ran an open source project on the smart home which is in the permanent collection of the MoMA
– made a smart/dumb button for russell which is also in the permanent collection of the MoMa
– commercialised a 2G version of the Good Night Lamp which is in the permanent collection of the London Design Museum and has been exhibited in the Science Gallery in Dublin, the Steven Lawrence Gallery and is currently in the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford as part of an exhibition on the home and security
– run the first #iot pop-up shop from my office
– curated 2 years of projects and events around the smart home across Europe
– wrote a book about smart homes which was published in September by Apress
– I’ve been running the London internet of things meetup for almost 8 years.
– I’ve given talks about innovation, the internet of things around the world (apart from Africa and South America).
– I’ve offered multi-day training both digitally and in person around the internet of things.
– I’ve been a visiting lecturer in the most prestigious schools across Europe.
– I’ve mentored professionals in search of a career change towards #iot.
– I’ve given feedback to PhD students around the world
– I’ve mentored and made connections for startups
– I’ve worked as an independent consultant for companies in the energy, smart agricultural, FMCG , industrial sectors and more
– I produced the first 2 UK editions of the Mozilla Festival
– I’ve worked with engineers, developers, designers, product managers, marketers and more.
– Two years ago I took 75 flights that year. This year it’s 45.

It’s fair to say I rushed through much of the last 10 years life. As an immigrant keen to ‘make my mark’ I suppose it was inevitable. But as I started to relax into my official new home (and status as a British citizen) I started to look at things a little differently. I don’t consider I’ve been smart for most of my career but I do know I was first to reach a lot of invisible lines in the sand. And for the first time perhaps I’m content in the knowledge that it doesn’t matter if nobody knows nor if I slow down a bit.

I’m also willing to learn from working *inside* an organisation and Hayden Wood, the CEO of Bulb, is kind enough to give me that platform. Whether he realises it or not, I’m doing exactly the same thing as I usually do, working with people I like, hiring people I respect, working with organisations and figuring out what the best outcome will be. I’m also surrounded by friends who work in different bits of the business and that’s fun. It’s a scale-up and I’ve never worked in a business at that stage. It reminds me of Inception, the metaphysical furniture and building moving around me. But that’s also the kind of environment I thrive in.

I’m not full time yet as I still have a couple of clients still ticking over, a book to promote and the redesign of the Good Night Lamp for CAT-M networks, but that’s not a lot for me. Slowing down is relative.

If you’re doing some exciting things with green technologies, hit me up at alexds at bulb dot co dot uk .

Sunday Scraps #1

I’ve handed in my book‘s manuscript to my editor so I’m having a bit of a mental clear-out.  A year ago, when I started writing, I would write down in my Moleskines the unopened tabs on my phone to ‘come back to them later’. Pah! One of my favorite places on the internet is the Things Magazine so as an hommage, here is that collection of those mostly unread tabs, as they appear in my Moleskine. I’m not saying this will make any sense.

Tabs from May 4th 2017

Gluten free sourdough starter / Japan: the end of the rice age / Moscow Design Museum: discovering utopia / Technology readiness scale / Manufacturing readiness level assessment / Hemingway editor / Nigel Slater banana and cardamon cake / The Siege of Jodotville / El Lissitzky interior project for the F-type residential Cell of a Commune House (1927) / Quilts in women’s lives (film) / Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis / People in glass houses / Les Immateriaux de Jean-Francois Lyotard (1985) / Design after modernism, Beyond the Object  by John Thackara/ Brutalist Paris Map by Institut Francais / General Electric Realty Plot / The Listener Historical Archive / Therblig / Lillian Moller Gibreth / Cheaper by the dozen (film) / Applied Imagination by Alex Osbon / Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples / Googie Architecture / Cycle confident courses Lambeth 

 

 

End of year review

Thanks to Prof. Dr. Molly Steenson for initiating this habit, this is the 9th year I’ve done these reviews.

1.What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
Went back home five times.

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
What New Year’s Resolutions

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes, my adoptive dad two weeks ago.

5. What countries did you visit?
Morocco, France, Ireland, Canada, US, Germany, Luxembourg, Singapore, New Zealand, Sweden.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
More time at home.

7. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory?
December 18th.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Shipping the Good Night Lamp.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not spending much time at home.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A drone for my dad’s last weeks.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Parisians.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Most politicians.

14. Where did most of your money go?
The Good Night Lamp and flights (again)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Shipping the Good Night Lamp!

16. What song/album will always remind you of 2013?
The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
More tired.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing, and reading books.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Travelling.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
With family in Canada.

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
F.

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?
Already in love.

23. What was your favourite TV programme?
I don’t watch TV.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No.

26. What was the best book(s) you read?
Mr Gwyn by Alessandro Baricco.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Lord Huron, J.D. McPherson, Sufjan Stevens

28. What did you want and get?
Lots of time with F.

29. What did you want and not get?
More time with F.

30. What were your favourite films of this year?
Drive, St Elmo’s Fire (I never watch films when I’m supposed to)

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Spent it with family, wrapping Christmas presents.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Less travel.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Grown up.

34. What kept you sane?
Conversations with J.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
No time for that.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Syria (3rd year in a row) and the Brexit.

37. Who did you miss?
M + M (every year)

38. Who was the best new person you met?
S + W in Singapore.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
Keep your family close.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?

“Long afloat on shipless oceans
I did all my best to smile”