Blog Posts

Trip to Hackney Central vegan market

I thought I’d try this out today, encouraged by the warm weather, a slight hangover and no real Sunday plans.

Pros

  • Lots of nice looking vegan food to try
  • A couple of decent looking craft beer pubs
  • Lots of vintage shops nearby if you’re worried about consumption of new materials
  • Bulk Market (more on that later)

Cons

  • I should have brought my own containers and bottle (I got a drink in a coconut but still feel guilty about the air miles)
  • Biodegradable waste is still waste and still takes materials and energy to produce and move around
  • Lots of latex gloves were in use: a win for hygiene if not the planet

Verdict

Some tasty food but would only revisit to go to Bulk Market which is a great little general store where you can buy packaging free goods, bamboo toothbrushes and so on.

I ate: a lentil burger salad which was a bit dry. Pulses were undercooked but there was a delicious turmeric hummus.

I drank: out of a coconut and worried about the air miles.

Worst interviews ever

After my very worst interview ever, I felt so embarrassed, I wrote to apologise afterwards.

I was completely unprepared, studying for a degree part time, drinking a lot with my new uni buddies and just on the right side of 30 – such that I could stay up all night, work, drink and get through what I needed to do. Or so I thought.

End of term was coming so I had been up all night doing a piece of coursework, fuelled by a lot of instant coffee and cigarettes and I filed the work. Just.

Then I showered, got ready and went for the interview. I desperately tried to gen up on the company in a cab on the way. But the internet wouldn’t load and I couldn’t get anything on my phone about them. I went in with nothing, hoping I could talk my way out of it.

So I’m in the interview giving them platitudes and very generic answers. I could clearly see they weren’t landing.

Then I got the “Why do you want to work for us?” cue, generic answer from me and the interviewer rightly interrupted me, “No but why do you want to work with us?” Reader, I had nothing to say. And actually now as an interviewer, this is probably the question I take most personally when I find a candidate is unprepared. That interview ended pretty abruptly and, like I said in the intro, I wrote to apologise afterwards. Cringe.

Nerves have been a big issue for me in the past, and I am not a natural at small talk. One interview I had saw the interviewer say that she found it hard to keep the interview going because there was no small talk. I have a different view on this quite honestly, as an interviewer I am mindful that people might be nervous and I try to help them relax with a few easy small talk questions but you can’t expect the same from all interviewers.

I’ve had one lady not even smile whilst her colleague interviewed me and she didn’t have one single question for me.

I’ve got a job before because the interviewer liked an image I put together for a mini project. I got a job at a very crap company after just one interview…

So what’s the point of this blog? A few recommendations:

  1. Prepare – be able to talk passionately about why you want to work there. Find out as much as you can about the company, culture, expectations, products, competitors, customers…
  2. Be able to relate those findings to your skills – it’s not enough to know everything about them, much more useful to also be able to say how you could help them and highlight the skills you have which might be unique to you
  3. Have some small talk – interviewers can be nervous sometimes – I remember trying to impress a new boss and properly grilled a candidate so much so he nudged me and showed me his notepad – “haven’t you grilled er enough yet?” Awkward! Sometimes interviewers don’t know what they’re doing, don’t make great decisions and don’t enjoy interviewing
  4. On that note, try not to take things too personally. The interviewed me and said I didn’t have small talk was outside smoking and gossiping for a full hour before my interview – at about 3-4 in the afternoon. I know this because I sat in a nearby pub preparing.
  5. Sometimes it’s not your time or a business is not a good fit for you. Move on, keep trying and you will find something that is a good fit.

Bags of shame for the environment #bagsofshame

News today that brought joy to my sad little heart: the East West Market in Vancouver is using shame to prompt people to bring their own bags instead of using dirty polluting plastic bags. Hoping that bags saying things like “Wart Ointment Wholesale” or “Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium” will encourage people to bring their own bags.

So we thought we’d have some fun.

What would you put on your bags of shame to stop people taking single use plastic bags?

Use the hashtag #bagsofshame and tag @climate_jobs on insta.

BP Report: Carbon emissions in the energy industry went up in 2018

“The longer carbon emissions continue to rise, the harder and more costly will be the necessary eventual adjustment to net-zero carbon emissions.” Bob Dudley, CEO, BP

Despite a 14.5% growth in the renewables industry, the equivalent of an additional 400 million combustion engine cars was emitted last year.

The Guardian reports the news that carbon emissions from the energy industry rose in 2018. In an ironic twist – if you like your irony sandwiched between bad news – emissions have risen as society struggles to deal with unusual and unexpected temperature fluctuations brought about by climate change. much of the rise was located in China, India and the USA. The stats, which feature in a recent BP report, are a reminder that we don’t talk often enough about the unexpected consequences of the climate crisis.

Global temperature fluctuations mean far more than whether or not we are able to stay warm or cool. They threaten the very fabric that societies are based on. Most major cities are near ports: be they attached to rivers or sea, flooding is a clear and present danger. Most crop growth depends on pollinators – their struggle isn’t necessarily a direct result of climate change as much as it is pesticides but they should act as a reminder about the importance of balance within the eco system.

Last time I checked most major pension funds were invested in polluting industry and/or infrastructure at risk from floods. You can invest in solar and wind power but how stable are those projects in a flooding scenario? What about your house?

We cannot afford to let emissions go up. Never mind climate change, who amongst us wants to continue to breathe in the toxic air which results from our propensity to burn stuff?

One of the report’s authors, BPs chief economist, Spencer Dale has this to say, “At a time when society is increasingly concerned about climate change and the need for action energy demand and emissions are growing at their fastest rate for years.”

And BPs chief executive, Bob Dudley has this timely warning, “The longer carbon emissions continue to rise, the harder and more costly will be the necessary eventual adjustment to net-zero carbon emissions.”

Think about it. When oil giants are warning you about climate change, something has gone wrong. BP calls for growth in natural gas, I remain unconvinced since they have vast reserves and a switch from coal to gas would suit them.

Employment Scoresheet – Free Download

You want to get a job in an ethical industry, and you want to help mitigate climate change. Easy, right? But how can you be sure that the company you’re interviewing at is a good fit for you? In the continuum of ethics in business, it’s hard to know whether you’re doing the right thing, and it’s hard to know whether the organisation you’re interviewing at is right for you.

So, we created this scoresheet which you can use to see whether an organisation is a good fit.

We’ve broken policies down into groups – obviously, not everything will be relevant but it’s worth asking these questions. We have gone into much more detail than you might want to at interview, but it is up to you how many of these questions you ask.

CDP identifies US$2.1 trillion climate change opportunity

CDP today, 4th June have reported the gains of realising climate change related business opportunities at around US$2.1 trillion and would be around 7 times more lucrative than the cost of achieving them which came in at around $311 billion.

The report identifies the potential sources of new revenue “Companies in the financial sector see the most potential revenue (USD$1.2 trillion) from potential new sustainable products & services, followed by manufacturing ($338 billion), services ($149 billion), fossil fuels ($141 billion) and the food, beverage & agriculture industries ($106 billion).”

That being said, the risk was concentrated in the financial sector too. With an estimated US$1 trillion at risk due to climate change with many businesses expecting to feel the pinch within the next 5-years.

Added costs include impact from climate change, changing weather patterns and increases in natural catastrophes, increased cost of carbon pricing and other policy-related charges. Stranded assets – assets which companies currently report on balance sheets but which they might not be in a position to develop or whose economics would no longer work – such as new oil operations are estimated at $250 billion.

Nicolette Bartlett, Director of Climate Change, CDP commented, “The goalposts for climate action have never been clearer for companies. Our analysis shows that there are a multitude of risks posed by climate change, including impaired assets, market changes and physical damages from climate impact, as well as tangible impacts to business bottom lines.

The report goes on to say, “Following the recommendations of the UN’s IPCC report, our collective response to climate change is more urgent than ever, and it is clear that corporate action cannot be delayed. So it is hugely encouraging that companies are reporting that the potential value of climate opportunities far outweigh the costs of investing in the transition.”

“However, while our research shows that financial organizations see the most opportunities and value at risk from climate change, a more concerning story may sit behind this statistic. It is likely that this growing awareness is partly caused by the increased scrutiny of regulators and stakeholders. And the potential gaps in awareness and disclosure elsewhere in the economy present real risks. Regulators and investors should take note, and all companies from all industries need to step up.”

The scope of the report includes almost 7,000 companies who report data to CDP and a 500-company sample of the largest companies by market capitalisation.

View the executive summary of the report.

Stop panic working now and do something important

What do we mean by panic-working? You may well have seen this chart before. It’s called the The Eisenhower Decision Matrix and it’s designed to stop people working in panic-mode and to start working strategically on tasks which are beneficial to your future. It’s also often called the Urgent-Important Matrix.

It goes like this:

1 URGENT AND IMPORTANT2 IMPORTANT BUT NOT URGENT
3 NOT IMPORTANT AND URGENT4 NEITHER IMPORTANT NOR URGENT

Quadrant 1 is what I call the “tail wags the dog” quadrant. You end up being dictated to by circumstance and other people. You’re chasing your tail, trying to keep up, solving problems (and everything’s a problem) and items trickle through from quadrant two when you least expect it because you take your eyes off quadrant two, when this is your most important area – I will get onto quadrant two later but now onto box 3.

Quadrant 3 is the stuff you have to get out of the way. It’s not adding value to you and it might not be adding value to anyone! Items in this quadrant include: interruptions (and life is plagued with these), meetings but also your own ability to minimise distractions and really focus on what has to be done now. I mean NOW.

Tips for managing other people’s requests in this quadrant:

  • Learn how to say no (nicely)
    • “Happy to help but I’m in the middle of… let me come back to you, drop me an email to remind me”
    • “That’s something I’d like to look at in more detail, I’m in the middle of… I’ll come back to you in …. hours/days/weeks”
    • “That’s a great question, I’m in the middle of something now, why don’t you make a start on the email/copy/research and I’ll check in with you in….hours/days/weeks”

Manage yourself in this quadrant:

  • I highly recommend having an ideas stash on paper or digitally where you can store ideas that will take you away from where you are now but that you really want to look into later. In his book, “Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality”, Scott Belsky calls this a backburner list.

Quadrant 4 well why would you do work which was neither important nor urgent? Seriously. If it’s genuinely neither of those things, then put it in the “someday it might happen” pile and get on with your life.

“Thank you for your email. I am currently out of office on vacation. Your message will be deleted in the order in which it was received upon my return” The best out of office message I ever received, I can’t remember from whom…

“What about Quadrant 2?!”, I hear you ask.

Work in this space. Like, really werk! Do it, do it often and try to spend as much time in this quadrant as you can. This is where you set yourself up for future success so, for example, it might be things like:

  • Understanding what’s on your calendar for the year and starting to plan now, even though you haven’t started working on your next project
  • Making a list of early actions you can take on a future project
  • Spending some time last thing on a Friday looking at the following week and booking in time to get the important things done first
  • Blocking off some time to make healthy packed lunches or exercise which will hopefully keep you healthier, more energised and more able to work effectively
  • Understanding your how senior peers got there and what you could do differently
  • Sending your contacts a note with interesting news you know is relevant to their work
  • Joining a networking community so that you can build a network of your own

You get the picture.

Get things done… 3 easy to apply trends we’ve seen in productivity articles

  1. Make a to-do list and whittle it down to a top 3. Instagram’s head of design, Ian Spalter (who stepped down in May 2019) recommends this in the March/April 2019 issue of Fast Company P. 26. Zen Guru par excellence, Leo Babauta calls this MITs or Most Important Tasks and it’s written over and over again. So, when you get to work tomorrow? What’s on your list?
  2. Keep a journal. Keeping a regular journal will help you filter your thoughts, and it doesn’t just have to be work-related. It will help you spot trends, get clear on what you want, make commitments to yourself and keep track on your goals.
  3. Make goals. How you gonna get what you want if you don’t know what it is?! Spend some time getting clear on what you want, then you can make it work!

Online resources we love

Motivation, tech updates and market stats

To understand how creatives turn ideas into products, we love Behance. It’s a great source of design ideas too but we love it most to see how things come together. From the same house, we also recommend 99u. Both really inspiring and often useful.

To see how technology is moving and keep an eye on the future, we recommend Wired for general trends and The Energy & Carbon Blog for more information about the renewables, and low carbon industries.

Facts about the renewable industry: Consultancy firm Ernst & Young do an annual Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI)

For stats about the solar industry, check out these trade associations: Solar Power Europe does an annual Global Market Outlook, and The USA-based Solar Energy Industries Alliance does similar work on states in North America.

Do you need a mentor? Clue: you need more than one

 “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Isaac Newton

Do you need a mentor? Short answer: yes.

Longer answer: yes you do.

Here’s why:

Connecting with people who’ve been there, done that can really save you time and effort. Finding someone with related experience can be helpful in identifying shortcuts to tough issues. They might also spot threats which you might not because they’ve travelled this, or similar paths before.

Moreover, the better connected you are, the more you can refine and improve on your ideas (if you’re willing to listen to criticism and feedback). Many hands make light work and many minds create sparks.

A mentor could also open doors that you cannot but don’t rely on other people’s kindness without paying it back into the world in some way – either to that person or back down the ladder if you’re connected to younger or more junior people who might need it. Again if your network is strong – and no one ever said you only needed one mentor – you should be able to reciprocate on connections.

A mentor could open up new opportunities for you, and help you to break out of a small circle and a small circle mindset. This is especially important when you consider that some companies are cut throat and your colleagues don’t have you best interests at heart. Getting a third party’s advice can help. If they are not as close to the situation as you, they might help you gain perspective.

They might also call you out when you are out of order. Or help you spot mistakes.

They might be a better port of call than your boss. We’ve all worked for people we didn’t respect or like, or who didn’t have our best interests at heart but a good mentor might be more effective at giving good advice than your boss.

So what should you look for?

1. Someone who will root for you and go out of their way to help you succeed

2. Someone who isn’t going to try to compete with you.

3. I would suggest someone relatively impartial to your company’s politics and any pettiness within.

4. Someone you respect (duh) and someone you would like to impress or to put it another way: someone who makes you want to be a better person.

5. Someone who can challenge you and give honest feedback.

6. Someone well-connected.

7. Someone you would have similar skills as but not necessarily someone who’s on the exact same career path. Someone with a different approach than you, however, could also help you to learn new skills and new approaches.

8. Someone who others respect.

9. Someone you could be friends with. If this is a long term partnership, it probably will turn into a friendship.

10. Someone who you don’t feel judged by. You need to be able to say the wrong thing and make mistakes in an environment which feels safe.

How do you find a mentor?

1. Think about skills you might be weaker in, tasks you want to try but might not have tried before or people you’d like in your network – who do you know that might be able to help?

2. Make a list of people you know, acquaintances and people who might be connected to friends and colleagues – Linked In is good for mapping relationships.

3. Look for more than one – not everyone will want to help, or have time. So you might have to put yourself out there a lot and be rejected a lot. So what? It’s just not the right time for that relationship. Try not to take it to heart.

4. But do it from the heart. Speak to, email and phone people who genuinely inspire you and who you genuinely want to learn more about and learn more from.

5. Offer a quid pro quo if you can. Or link it to a cause they’re interested in and that they want to further.

6. Be specific and clear about the help you might need and how much time you need from them. That way if it’s a time issue or a knowledge gap, they might tell you and you might be able to negotiate something initially smaller and easier to commit to.

7. Keep your eyes peeled – who knows where you might meet them?!

8. Have some introductory phrases in mind:

  • “I read about your work on … project and I liked the way you …”
  • “I was talking to … and asked them who was doing great work in this area and they recommended you, I wonder if you could help me …”
  • “Would you be open to a quick chat about becoming a mentor? I would like to learn more about … and I can see this is something you’re really good at?”

9. See if you can attend industry networking events and push yourself to open up conversations.

10. Join related clubs if you can find some. Meet-up and Eventbrite are great for finding free networking events on any topic and interest.