For many introverts, it’s incredibly difficult to start a conversation with people they don’t already know. Paul Campbell recently wrote about this inner conflict in his blog post “Hi, I’m Obie”. I can relate very much because I feel the same when I’m at conferences, especially with people who I admire and would really love to get to know better. I remember so many occasions when I tried to join a group conversation, stood there for a while not knowing what to say and finally backed away, slightly embarrassed and disappointed about myself.
Paul then describes a watershed moment:
He put out his hand to shake my hand, looked me in the eye, and said “Hi, I’m Obie”. “Hi, I’m Paul.” I had never felt so loved.
In this moment, Paul had an epiphany: You don’t need to do extraordinary stuff to get in touch with people. Just say “Hi”.
Introducing yourself by name at a conference might not seem like a huge deal, but for me, it was just the recipe I needed to break the ice, to avoid the “what do I say now?” question.
I had the same insight start of last year, after reading a great ebook. It made a big change about which I wrote in “How to survive and succeed at conferences as an introvert”.
As IT guys, we’re familiar with the principle of breaking big tasks down into small parts that are easier to handle. The thing is, we can apply the “divide et impera” principle to the conversation problem, too: Instead of trying to tackle a whole group at once, just pick a person, stick out your hand and say “Hi, I’m $NAME.” I can assure you, noone will answer with “Yes? And?”
Except maybe if there’s such a thing as professional asshole conferences. But then again, you might not want to attend these anyway.
We've finally moved into our new house in Bray!
When we saw the property ad, still back in Germany, we immediately liked the house and didn't expect at all that it would still be available when we'd arrive in Ireland. But after landing in Dublin on August 3rd and patiently waiting until the weekend and following bank holiday had passed, we actually got a viewing appointment. The house was still occupied by a Chinese family and we felt it was a great home for our family, too. When we left, the property agent, James McMahon, suggested we go up the street where we found a lovely little park and discussed our options. We decided to apply for the lease and went to see the local beach, excited what would happen now. What happened was that, after about an hour or so, James called me, saying "You can relax now, you got a home." I was almost speechless. We still needed to provide a reference from our previous landlord but it looked as if everything was going great!
Of course, the current tenants needed to move out first, so even as we had landed a hit at first try, we still had to spend some time at the Dublin International Youth Hostel where we had booked a private family room. We had a good stay and put the time to good use by visiting interesting places like the Dublin Zoo.
During these two weeks, I found a great coworking space in Dublin named TCube where I spent some hours trying to get into working mode again (with moderate success). I'm certainly going to pop in again when I get to Dublin. I even got to experience the amazing networking effects that make coworking spaces so awesome: When I told him that I thought about forming an Irish business, Barry, who's running the place, immediately suggested to introduce me to an accountant who is a regular visitor himself. After a few rounds of email, Richard is now preparing the paperwork for freistil IT Ltd.
We could get our hostel room only until Friday of the second week because it had already been fully booked out for the weekend after. Since James needed a few extra days to have cleaning and repairs taken care of, we had to find interim accommodation. We checked the other An Oige hostels in Ireland and found that Glendalough International Hostel had a room. We took the St. Kevin's bus (everything around Glendalough has "Kevin" in its name) down to the Wicklow Mountains and found the hostel nicely located just off the historic monastery site. There weren't nearly as many people at the hostel as in Dublin but those we learned to know were more than lovely. All four of us had so much fun! The hostel owner even offered to drive us to Bray with her car, gave us a few bedsheets for the first nights and a lot of good tips. Kind people like Trish are one of the reasons we're moving to Ireland.
At both hostels, we did mostly self-catering which was quite time-consuming but also far more affordable than eating out all the time. It's also more wholesome but I'll freely admit that we had our share of white bread and jam, chips and candy. I was afraid that I'd gain back quite a few of those 12 kilos I had lost since June. Having now unpacked my scale, it turns out that I've actually lost some more grams!
Our new home is a lovely little house with 3 bedrooms. The smallest has become my home office and the other one belongs to the children. We have a spacious kitchen with dining area and a nice living room. Additional to the main bathroom, there's a shower next to our bedroom and a guest WC under the stairs. In the back, we've also got a small garden. It's certainly a great improvement over our shoebox in Freiburg. Boy, is it weird how many steps I have to take to get a cup of tea from the kitchen and back to my desk upstairs. There is an "upstairs" to begin with!
The house is located in a nice and quiet neighborhood and I guess there's quite a number of kids around that Amalia will get acquainted with.
Moving in has not been all rosy, though, because the previous tenants left quite a mess behind, especially in the kitchen. But so far, James helped us get everything sorted out.
Tomorrow, Amalia will start school and she's already pretty excited to be a big girl now. We're curious how quickly she'll learn the language as soon as she's properly motivated by meeting other kids her age.
So, we've arrived and we're happy. Hello Ireland, nice to meet you!
How exciting! Later today, we'll board our Air Lingus flight to Dublin. With one-way tickets. Besides our children, we're bringing with us just two big backpacks and a bit of carry-on with the most essential things. Everything else waits packed in boxes at our parents for the day when we have our own Irish address.
Until we find a new home, we'll be staying at the Dublin International Hostel. We'll see how long it will take us to find a decent house in Bray. I'm a bit nervous about that particular task, but since all of the Irish people I've talked to were quite optimistic, I'm confident as well. And, honestly, a bit of uncertainty is part of the adventure!
Our days in Freiburg are running out. Over the weekend, we're going to move our remaining belongings to our parents, renovate the flat and hand over the keys. We'll spend the rest of the month at our parents' and prepare for our arrival in Ireland.
It's been seven great years here in southwest Germany, with the amenities of a bigger city and the awesome nature of the Black Forest. We've become a family here, growing from two people loving each other to four (without the love spreading thin at all). Many happy moments connect us with Freiburg and we'll be missing this place.
At this occasion, I'd like to say "good bye" to everyone I've spent a few of these happy moments here, and "thank you". I'm grateful to have met you and wish you all the best!
Nowadays, everyone seems to hate meetings. And, very much like a broken relationship, we keep having them all the same. Obviously, we can't get rid of meetings, so I think it's a good thing to see how we can make them worth the effort.
Kate Matsudeira hates meetings, too. As a leader, she spends a lot of time in meetings, and she wants that time to return as much value as possible.
"Thankfully wasteful meetings don’t have to be the course du jour. No matter what kind of meetings you’re involved in, you can do a lot to make that time more productive. In fact as you can make everyone’s time more useful by simply being prepared."
Kate finds that there are two main causes for bad meetings:
- They lack structure or purpose
- Leaders come to them with unrealistic expectations
Both causes have their roots in communication. And she offers really good advice that I know to work from my own experience. Recommended reading!