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Are you caught in the Society Trap?

It ain’t about the guy who tries to buy a clean car when you’re dirty.  You should figure out how to be clean. You should figure out how to do a job that doesn’t involve you walking in mud all day… it’s possible

Pretty confronting works from Joe Rogan… and there’s another 6 minutes of words just like it.

This video was shared on my Google Plus feed and the commentary with it, made me listen.

The premise is that instead of just finding to do something with time during ‘work hours’ that you simply go to, find something where you can contribute and make life better all round. He briefly touches on the old fashioned barter system to underline this point – where everyone has something to share and contribute.

Have you sold your life to sit in a box and work for a machine that demands productivity, or are you doing something your passionate about?

At 4 minutes and 50 seconds, Joe relates the story of an illustrator friend who lost their job at Nickolodean. The friend started doing illustrations, so they could earn income till their next job came along… and fell into something they loved doing, that made a difference and helped them survive.

For me, it’s about being open to the opportunities as they present themselves… looking at what floats your boat, makes your cup runneth over.

This is well worth the 6 minutes to watch.




Falling through the cracks – when training organisations fail you…

This story is not complete yet – but I thought I would share what we have experienced so far…

You would think that choosing an organisation that provides Government Accredited training packages would mean that you should receive a certain level of service.  More importantly, after reading the training organisations sales literature, speaking to them on the phone to clarify your questions and then reading their impressive procedures and policies in terms of supporting students – you could expect that you wouldn’t “fall through the cracks”.

Unfortunately, that has not been my experience…

My daughter started a Certificate II in Animal Studies in August last year… Stuart and I were stoked she wanted to this but we were concerned because we knew she had to do a work placement – and work placements for Animal Care are tough to get… however, the training organisation PROMISED they would help with that and work with our daughter to secure a placement…. so, we signed her up and started paying the funds for the course.

I should add that Rhi started this course whilst finishing Year 11 and knew that she would have a pretty massive course load for Year 12, as well as studying for this course.  Which is one reason why the level of support offered by the training organisation was appealing.

All was good – Rhi started her first module immediately and within 3 months had submitted and passed it.  What happens next?  Well, the online portal didn’t update to the next module.  She knew she had to find a work placement so started contacting organisations … as detailed in the handbook provided by the Training organisation.  Several MONTHS pass with rejection after rejection and finally, in desperation she contacts her support officer to ask for help.  What is she given?  A “canned response” saying see the handbook.

What should have happened???  According to the training organisations procedure, a training officer should have contacted her within 2 business days to interview her about what she had done and provide her with the support and action plan to find a placement.   However, before that even happened after 90 days of no assessable work being submitted, they were supposed to have contacted her.

Did any of this happen?  No!  Instead, she’s near to the end of her course and is now requesting an extension to allow her to complete the work placement that took so long to find and the final pieces of assessment that will be provided on the completion of her work placement.

This training organisation has failed to meet its obligations to their learner.  They have falsely represented the services they provide.  And what do they want in return?  Oh, they will consider an extension – at a monthly fee for the extension – providing they get payment in full for the course they have not delivered.  How does that work?

Now, Rhi has been trying to deal with all this herself – it was only that I asked a question this week that prompted an uncharacteristic outburst that I found out.   She was prepared to just give up – obviously because she didn’t get her work placement in time, it’s her issue… um No.  I’m definitely a Mumma Bear – don’t mess with my kid.  So I downloaded all their policies and procedures and checked her communications with the business – we’re now talking turkey about how they are going to help her get this finished.

The point is – Rhi has someone like me to help her navigate these issues.  I would think that not many people have someone who will advocate as strongly as I do.  How many young people have signed up and paid their fees to find themselves in a similar situation?  Does that make the behaviour of  the organisation, predatory?  Do they prey on the fact that people don’t know what they should expect and just let things ride?  I reckon it does.

So what do we learn from this experience?

Do your homework … check with previous course attendee’s about their experience; check forums and the like for what people are saying.  In this case, there wasn’t much good or bad on the organisation.

Make sure you familiarise yourself with their processes and procedures – be really aware of what the organisations responsibilities to you are.

Follow their processes and document everything.

Be proactive and act early

Get help – asking someone to advocate for you and provide assistance is a good thing.  Just make sure the person is the right one.



Rules are made to be broken

Lots of things annoy me – my hubbie and my kids will tell you that.  I was once told I have a high “sense of justice” and I guess that’s true.  When I see something that is unfair, I want to get on my soapbox and espouse unto the world…. however, taking action is far better than just railing against the injustice of systems.

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about “rules” and how others perceive them.

We are in a long and unending discussion with our Mortgage provider.  I won’t go into details but suffice to say that we’re paying somewhere between 4% and 6% more on our mortgage than “standard” rates.  This happened due to a combination of events and we’re now looking at options.  We submitted paperwork, to our provider, back in February requesting assistance on the matter and have heard nothing.  We’ve already taken independant action about this but on Thursday, I received a phone call from our latest “account manager” and finally asked what the status of our request was.  This person stated they were unaware of the paperwork and had to look it up, which they did. Their only update was the information we had been given in February when we lodged the paperwork. So here we are 5 months later (paperwork was lodged at the end of February) and they’ve done nothing.  When I asked why nothing had been done, the person got mildly aggressive and blamed me for “not listening”.  Good luck to them, we’ll be taking our complaint through the various regulatory bodies and seeking mediation and resolution.

It’s funny that when you decide to “stand up for yourself” and “speak out”, people get defensive (or aggressive) and turn the blame back to you.  Well, I won’t stand for it – they put us through hoops in order to lodge the paperwork and then promptly did nothing with it.  That’s their issue – it’s not up to me to run their process and I’m well within my rights to not only ask the status but to demand an explanation of where the delay is.

Moving on…

You don't learn to walk by following rulesBlind obedience to the rules is something that has been grating on me for a long time.  As a business owner, I have processes.  Those processes are designed to help us, help our clients more effectively and when those processes don’t work, we review them.  There’s also an understanding that processes are (sometimes) designed to be ‘ignored’ to get a job done.  It’s a really fine balance and, as a business leader, I need to be on top this ALL OF THE TIME.

I get agitated when systems and processes obviously don’t work – and the answer you get is “that’s the system and we can’t do anything about it”.  What a load of crock – OF COURSE YOU CAN.  A process is only as good as the people implementing it – you should be providing feedback and making suggestions on how to improve it.  Living with a broken system because “that’s the just the way it is” is totally unacceptable.

As many of my readers know, I’m passionate about helping youngsters (particularly my own youngsters) in doing “more” with their life.  We have rules in our society that define what is and isn’t ‘the norm’ for children to do based on their age.

  • Morgan found it hard at school because lessons were just so boring – he couldn’t understand why he had to sit  for 4 to 6 hours a day in a classroom and ‘be lectured at’ when he made far more progress by doing something.
  • Rhi was bored and disenchanted in school. She was ‘dumbing herself down’ to fit in with her peer group (don’t get me wrong, some of her peers were brilliant, but the norm for the year was to not appear clever) and was starting to experience self esteem issues associated with this behaviour.

In both cases, Stu and I sought out alternatives to help the kids achieve their potential and combat (yes, combat) the issues they were experiencing.  We had to step outside the “rules” that were in place and find other answers – and we did.

  • Both children started a School Based Apprenticeship in Year 10 – which at the time was nearly unheard of.  We had to ‘break some rules’ to get them approved… 
  • Rhi moved on to an accelerated learning program which completely changed her perspective.

We were fortunate to find a group of teachers who were prepared to help us challenge the status quo and work together to help our young people achieve.

This week, I find that we are challenged yet again with another of these “rules” that limits participation due to age – no, you’re not old enough to attend this course… My question is WHY NOT?  The course is not dependant on physical ability (and if it was, age is not a determining factor), the only “legal” complication is being able to enter into a contract which can be done with myself or their dad as a proxy… it just doesn’t make sense.  Why on earth would you take a willing and eager participant and turn them away?   Of course, the flip side of that coin is that “you’re too old” for this course (or job) and that’s just as bad and subject of a whole other discussion…

You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.
Richard Branson

It’s Much Ado About Nothing This Weekend

Rhi’s been in China just over a week and we’ve heard from her a couple of times – it sounds like she’s been super busy and engaged at the leadership congress and we can’t wait to hear about her experiences.

It’s been a busy week business wise, but more surprisingly socially for us – almost like a break in a drought really.  This week I went to an office opening, a trivia night and a 50th Birthday party…

Oh yeah, Morgan is really getting into this LARPing thing (Live Action Role Playing) and has been working on a new part to his costume which, thanks to our friend Kim, he got done on Friday night.  I had a bit of fun with a photo we snapped that evening.



Speaking of LARPing, check out the photo’s from the “Wolf’s Howl”, a Hundred Swords game held  at Weston Park in Canberra on Saturday.

The Wolfs Howl - The Hundred Swords

The Wolfs Howl – The Hundred Swords
Photo courtesy of The Hundred Swords
Click here to see the whole album


Today, we got to see the new Joss Whedon movie, “Much Ado About Nothing”. It’s no secret, we’re huge Joss Whedon fans in our home and when we heard that he was doing Much Ado with Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof and Sean Maher we just knew we had to see it on the big screen.

What’s surprising is that the movie is only showing at Dendy – not in the other cinemas’.  We would have thought that more would have picked it up – but there you have it.

Anyway, it was fabulous.  I loved the 1993 version directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Emma Thompson – but this version is just awesome.

Marry Shakespeare with Joss Whedon and what would you expect?

In the other versions of Much Ado I’ve seen, the dialogue is normally delivered quite quickly (underscoring the combativeness between Beatrice and Benedick) – the actors in the Whedon version managed to slow the delivery down but maintained the appropriate cadence… it meant that I was able to “interact” with the dialogue on a completely different level.

I certainly came away with an even bigger appreciation of the acting talents of the cast.  Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof do a fantastic job – and there are many parts where you just have to giggle or even laugh out loud.  Of course, Nathan Fillion as Dogberry is a not to be forgotten performance (far better than Michael Keatons’ in the 1993 version)….

The music has been written by Jed Whedon (of course) and performed by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen – those Whedon’s are incredibly talented.

What I find most amazing is that the movie was prepared in 1 month and shot in just 12 days at Joss’s house.  The timing is astounding, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from Joss, the Whedons and the actors he works with… the house though – is amazing.  There is one scene where you see the view from the back verandah (or perhaps they call it a deck?) and it is breathtaking.

If you can get to see the movie at the cinema – you absolutely should – if not, when you can grab a copy you should.

[jwplayer mediaid=”393″]

Of course, you can find out more on the Much Ado About Nothing Movie Facebook page or website



“The Whisper Channel” – Chuck Lorre

I’ve recently been introduced to “The Big Bang Theory” and catching a couple of the Chuck Lorre Vanity Cards.

One that really appealed to me was “The Whisper Channel”:

It’s almost as if all the news anchors, reporters, product pitchmen, talk show hosts, politicians, sportscasters, DJ’s and preachers have forgotten how good modern microphones are. Regardless, the purpose of vanity cards is not just to point out the problem, it’s also to propose the solution. And here’s one: The Whisper Channel. A cable news channel where everyone, including advertisers, speaks in gentle, dulcet tones. Our marketing tag line will be one word, “shhh.” Instead of grinning, shouting, overly-coiffed failed actors, our news anchors will be regular folks with beautiful speaking voices who, just to be on the safe side, have been heavily sedated.

What a great idea – my own experiences show that when you have an enigmatic person who deliberately speaks softly, you are compelled to listen so you don’t miss the message!

Go The Whisper Channel.



SPAM phone calls

Mobile Phone
Image by z_fishies via Flickr

I really don’t get it!  Tonight, we received the 2nd phone call in as many nights offering us a ‘FREE’ nokia mobile phone.

My hubbie, who is far more tolerant than me, took the first call and just hung up them. You would think they got the message!  Alas, no…. tonight at 8.45pm… just in time for the household to be winding down, children to be heading to bed and hubbies and wives trying to steal some valuable alone time… the phone rings!!!! and they’re trying to ‘sell’ me something. Continue Reading →

EzyDVD Goes Into Receivership… Gift Vouchers Are Not Honored…

On December 17th, we found out that EzyDVD went into receivership.  Stuart has already written about EzyDVD Pty Ltd being placed in receivership, so I won’t rehash the discussion here… what I will share however, is the email I received this afternoon about the fallout that is just starting to occur.

It appears that EzyDVD franchises are not accepting EzyDVD Gift Cards.  However, the stores are accepting full payment for new releases…  Needless to say that this is upsetting a number of consumers… Continue Reading →