Airlines and Headphones

As I start to do my mental prep for trip over the next few weeks I’m trying to figure out how I pack for said airline experience with my headphones.

I’ve come to believe that every flight is an experiment in human responses to changing stimuli in a metal tin can hurtling through the skies at thousands of feet in the air at many miles per second.

For example;

Almost 3 years ago, I took a flight on one carrier, where they gleefully told us we could put our headphones on from take-off to touchdown – wahoo – what a great experience, as long as they were ear buds.

Last year on a flight I was informed that we could not use them when taking off, but could keep them in when landing.

When taking connecting flights, I have noticed that the same carrier can have different rules per route and plane type – because that matters.

On another flight I was informed we could connect to the in-house entertainment system, but not our own devices – even though you don’t pay for it.

On my last flight we were informed that we could not wear our earbuds on take-off or landing and only while we were in the air.

And beyond all of this, for some reason the $3 Airline headphones are much more safer then the $100 BOSE headphones that are on the market  – if only we knew the secret to WHY.

Looking back, I wish I had recorded these findings, because really, the data would have been magnificently absurd.  Had I kept track – I would have based it on geography, flight-path, timezones, etc – what is the metric that keeps it constantly changing and why?  Is it an internal collusion to by airplane headphones?

I watch as others get discouraged, angered even,  as they try to argue with the flight attendants (who are not the authority, but I believe to be part of the experiment as well) perhaps monitored from within the blackbox of each plane and finally give up exasperated.

Mental note: If I start to record said occurrences, record the characters and response of the arguer at hand – it usually ends with trying to rally their fellow unknown passengers to rise up and demand that all can use their headphones

I find this amusing, if only because I don’t like to fly and it makes me chuckle each time before the flight takes off.  But even more so because I have transitioned back to bringing books with me on flights, the ones I can get completely 100% engrossed in – whether on a plane or in the line at customs.

After all, if you’re going to keep changing the game on me in ways where only you can benefit, I will choose to change the game in its entirety.  And perhaps that is how we need to understand to redefine the unknowns, the absurdities and inconsistencies around us completely.

Some Random Thoughts on the Election Process

There are a number of elections going on around the globe right now all at different stages of completion; electing a party candidate, debates, campaigning, closing in on election day, etc.

Last night I was on a ZOOM call with some past cohorts from my altMBA (January class accepting applicants now) and they suggested I write about my thoughts on elections and all.  So with little knowledge of the election process and all that goes on behind that machine, here are my thoughts.

Do away with all that Signage

I would love to see a candidate that focuses more on getting their name out there in the media or through their own personal writing (not a PR team of 15) and forgo the signs in favour of giving to a local charity.  How much does it all cost?  Hundreds of thousands maybe?  Maybe more?  Why not give it to a charity, why not pay for all that signage and do something useful with that money?  I would have to imagine the PR from such a move would be incredibly popular – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter?

Social Media

The last campaign for Barack Obama was all about how he used Facebook to bring about hope and change?  Where is the Instagram?  Where is the shoestring budget?  Where is the politician who is running for the people AND is funded by the people via KickStarter?  Where is the next leap?

We have Party Stewards and not Leaders

Ouch – that hurts.  It should.  From the outside, the leader of a party is a CEO/President steering the ship of a large organization.  Sometimes you get someone who can invigorate the party base and all it’s supporters – see Jack Layton.  Ask almost any Canadian there thoughts on this election and the answer is almost always the same – “It would have been a very different election if Jack was still here…” – what does that say?  I don’t believe we have leaders of parties, but stewards focussed on keeping the lights on and system running – pushing their 12 year roadmap.

None of the Above

What do you do when you have 3 job offers on the table and none of them jump out at you?  You walk away.  In your head you say – “None of the Above”.  We should have that choice and let me be clear, that it should be a choice and not something that is seen as a spoiled ballot.  If I were to mark my ballot as “None of the Above” here is what I would be saying – “I don’t have confidence in any of you to lead this wonderful country that I am a part of”.  And if the “None of the Aboves” win?  Well that would automatically trigger a leadership election in all parties because it would be the signal that we want change, real change, significant change.

So at the end of this very long week, my thoughts and deliverations on elections – I wish they could be more.

References used to mean something

When I have asked and when I do ask for a reference, my hands still get clammy and my stomach becomes taut – “What if the person I am asking for a reference says no?  What if they were just paying me lip service on my performance?  What if I don’t get the job because of it?”.

I think you should feel that way about asking for a reference because that means that you care about the result – whether good or bad – to help you grow.

It should not be a guarantee.

But instead we’ve shifted over to the “How dare you say that about me?  And, I’m going to sue!”.  For what, because someone had an opinion on your performance?  Your performance?

Keep in mind – I only mean this in the strictest regards of your actual performance, if you did a bad job and goofed off all day long – that is on you – not the legal system – that was your choice to act that way and if anything, you should not be using them as a reference.  In the case where you were let go, be honest with yourself, would a reference from there really help?  What can you show to your new employer that you really need to work on this time around?

In terms of overall references, here is where I see us going wrong today…

You can have a Bad Reference

It should be okay to give someone a reference of how they actually performed at their job – “yes they didn’t know what they were doing, but I admired them for coming in every day and trying” – if anything, that level of honesty would encourage me to seek out that person and talk to them.  We don’t get everything right the first time so why would we expect to have a perfectly unblemished record of employment as well?  The failures count just as much as the successes.

The Questions are always the same

Do you know this person?

How long did they work with you?

Did they hold this position?

Did they take a coffee break every day at 9:15am?

The top 3 are legitimate questions that I get asked for when a reference has been requested.  Sometimes this is all I get asked and they are completely inane.  They tell you nothing.  Here are my answers for this “glowing” reference – “Yes, 2 years, Yes, Don’t know”.  And that’s your reference?  That tells you nothing about the person or what I am getting into.

I have held onto the letters of reference I have asked for and received from past employers because a) they sometimes make me feel good on a bad day and b) they explain what I did – what contributions I made and where I excelled.

No Follow-Up

This is probably the biggest problem today, employer calls for a reference, gets a bad reference on the new prospective employee and from there, arbitrarily kicks them to the curb?  Why?  Why not call your new prospective employee back and ask them why?  Did something go wrong?  Does this person not like you?  Give them a chance to explain their side of the story – you might be impressed.  I worked with someone who had her role change in the last year of her employment and failed at it, it was not her thing, but should that get her a zero on a reference for all her previous years experience leading up to that?  I don’t think so.


The Best Reference I ever received

You might be thinking this is all a bunch of random unicorns and rainbows but it’s not.  Years ago, I interviewed for a job that I desperately wanted and pulled out all the stops.  I had my references lined up and one of them gave a very frank reference for me – “Great developer, hard working, very persistent, does not like process and being hampered down by it, he will get frustrated” – and it’s true… it is 125% true and still is to this day.  And at first I was taken aback – “well there goes that” – but the company appreciated the honesty in the reference and my frustration aligned with their internal processes so we were a great match.

Make a reference mean something, if you want share it with the person before you give it – great – but make it worthwhile, don’t make it a three word answer.  There could be more paperwork involved in giving a real reference that helps someone, whether good or bad, to move forward in their career.  And for better or worst, they think you are the one to help them out – so help them out and make it mean something.

Ignore the Stats

Every morning, I come in, sit down and check stats, analytics, bounce rates, time spent on sites, etc?


Validation?  Hubris?  Conversion Rates?

Does it matter if it was anything those things?

Have I changed my pattern for what I do?

Am I going to change my pattern for what I do?

So what does it serve?


At this point, they are meaningless so why worry about it.  So I’m turning off that side of my brain, the ROI analytics and going with my gut.

Food for though in any venture, kick the noise to the curb and focus on what is important – Getting it Done!

Hiding behind the Busy Work

Your plate is full, there is a ton on it, so where do you start?

With the menial garbage?  Yeah, go work on that first, go work on the stuff that is cluttering your plate and keeping you away from the good stuff… it’s work that’s on the periphery that is taking up space in your head and slowing you down.

And it’s easy, it makes it look like you are working, but you are really not, you’re hiding – hiding from the work that matters, that will make an impact that will take you to the next stage.

But it’s easy and when you step back it looks like you did a lot, but really, you just worked away at the easy stuff, avoiding the hard stuff.

The thing about easy stuff is that it never goes away, it always finds a way to get back onto your plate, to start taking up space.  But the hard stuff, the stuff in the middle, what if doing that first had the bigger impact – it’s riskier, harder, you have to slow down and think – you just can’t do.

But you can plow through it.

Think of your plate as a meal when you were a kid – would you eat all the amazing food first – the steak and fries – only to agonize over the asparagus and broccoli, taking forever to eat it all and leaving the table with that taste in your mouth?  That taste of – “I left the hard stuff for the end and this would have been simpler if I did the easy stuff first” –  Or would you eat the broccoli first and finish off with the steak or perhaps eat both in tandem?

When I was a kid, I always left my broccoli for the end, but now I’m learning to eat my broccoli first.

Note: Substitute whatever foods you want, sorry I’m not a broccoli lover.