What Are You Up To?


Saturday Farmer’s Market, Estremoz, Portugal

Cindy and I walked down to the Farmer’s Market today. It was fun to see the vendors again and catch up on things. It’s been two years since I baked for the Market but lots of people still want to see our bread there.

There was lots of interest in our trip and what we saw. There was even more interest in what we were doing next. Sadly, I think my response was a poor one.

I have this habit of telling people I need to figure something out, because I can’t be “unemployed” for much longer. But that’s the wrong answer.

  • I’m already talking to several places in town about starting or improving their bread production
  • There are people signed up to The Baker’s Bench who are ready for another baking course
  • I’m running into people on the street who say they enjoy our travel blog and want me to keep writing

So whether I say it or not, I’m already a baker, a teacher and a writer. And I’m doing all those things. I just didn’t get paid today.

It’s too easy to describe ourselves only in terms of what we do for money. That’s a trap. There’s a lot more going on in all of us.

What’s Your Medium?

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I recently watched “Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview” on Netflix (also on YouTube here.) It’s a complete interview from 1995 when Jobs was running Next, before he came back to Apple, launched the iPod and iPhone and basically ruled the world.

The interview was a real trip down memory lane for me because I remember the PBS show “Triumph of the Nerds” (on which they showed excerpts of the interview) very well.  I loved that show; I may still have the much watched VHS tape I made of the series and the book on which it was based somewhere in the basement. Although the host didn’t know it, the show was about me, my life in high school, University and my first career as a programmer at SaskTel.

But I was really taken aback listening to him now, some 20 years and a lifetime later.  Steve Jobs’ ideals and vision resonate with me now even more than they did in 1995.

The best bit for me had nothing to do with technology.  At the very end of the interview, Jobs was asked if he was a Hippie or a Nerd.  After declaring for the Hippies, he defined what that meant to him.

[Hippies see that] There’s something beyond what you see every day. There’s something going on here in life that’s more than what you see.  More than a job and a career and a family and two cars in the garage…

…It’s the same thing that causes people to be poets instead of bankers.  I think that’s a wonderful thing.  And I think that same spirit can be put into products.  And when you give that [the product] to people they can feel it.

…So, I don’t think the best people who I’ve worked with, worked with computers for the sake of working with computers.  They worked with computers because they are the medium that is best capable for transmitting some feeling that you have and you want to share with other people.

It’s a weird feeling hearing that now because I started out using computers with exactly that feeling.  Lately I use flour and water and bread as the medium.  But the goal is the same: to build something awesome and share that spirit with other people.

Since I no longer have my bakery, I need to find something else to do. But I’m after more than just a job; I need a different way to share that spirit.  It might be with bread, or with words, or even with technology again.

I’ve tried explaining this to prospective employers or partners but I’ve been scraping around the edges.  That segment in the video helped me find the centre again.

What’s your medium?  What glimmer of awesomeness are you sharing with other people?

Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want

We just got back from a Christmas holiday to Calgary and Fernie, and not a moment too soon.   Another day or two and I’d end up causing a big fight.

The trip was great, but highlighted by a series of strange communication errors. Either I would only hear half of what someone was saying, or I’d only say half of what I meant.  So many situations were unnecessarily strained, from arranging a meeting with my aunt and uncle or sorting the recycling as we cleaned out the condo in Fernie.

Inevitably I’d get frustrated by the misunderstanding.  Of course we were going to meet today!  Clearly this pile is recycling and that is garbage!  Then I’d get accused of being ‘snippy’ which would raise the tension three more levels.

Luckily we had a nine hour drive home where I could stew, mope, then try to figure things out.  I was taken back to a “Crucial Conversations” class I took years ago where the instructor kept quoting the Spice Girls.

Tell me what you want.  What you really, really want!

If what I really, really want is smoother, easier, stress free conversations with my friends and family (and I do), then that’s what I need to focus on.

Relax.  Get centred.  Explain in detail what I’m thinking.  Ask for feedback.  Ask for input.  Ensure we have understanding.  Then ensure we agree on the next step.

It’s hard for me, because I’m either experiencing life in big gulps and don’t want to stop, or I’m anxious about something and am dancing around the issue.

But if I’m going to reduce the number of Defcon 4 moments, I better stick to the program.

Relax.  Get centred.  Explain in detail what I’m thinking.  Ask for feedback.  Ask for input.  Ensure we have understanding.  Then ensure we agree on the next step.

I’m not really one for New Year’s Resolutions, but it seems I have one this year.

POW! A book about Surprise that I would love to read

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One of the things I try to do in all my work is to take a new approach or a fresh angle at solving an old problem.  Whether it’s transforming my community association to be more about looking out than looking inward, or bringing brand new bread to my neighbourhood, or even a new style of presentations to my day job, I want to Wow people.

Andy Nulman is a man who has indirectly guided me along this journey.  He’s the author of one of my favourite blogs and has just finished a new book called POW! — Profiting from the Power of Surprise.  It’s a book I’ve been waiting for.

In support of his book launch, Andy’s giving away 200 copies of his new book to bloggers who link back to his site.  I’d gladly link back for free, but just in case, here’s my address Andy  🙂

Mark Dyck

2904 Wascana Street, Regina, SK S4S 2G8