When your grandkids ask you “What did you do during the pandemic Gramps/Grandma (insert/delete as appropriate)?”, will you have a good answer? Will you boast that you watched all 3,188 episodes of Game of Thrones, end to end, in one sitting? Will you be able to point to your stomach and say “I grew this and, boy, oh boy, you should have seen the length of my hair” I hope not, I hope you have used the time to learn some new skills, to hone some existing ones and to meditate on your values and aspirations.
There are many of us who won’t have had the time to do any of the above as they have been too busy, keeping us alive, keeping our supply chains running and maintaining state, and local government services. But there are plenty of us who have been presented with a fantastic opportunity.
Over the course of the lockdown, I have continued to work with some great companies, delivering strategic marketing and brand advice and practical direction on short term strategy during the pandemic but, I have also honed my skills across a wide range of creative services.
Photography and video
On this front I am arriving at the point where I am realising how little I know. If you haven’t gone through this barrier, then you haven’t ever been out of your educational comfort zone or learned a worthwhile skill.
I have done a lot to improve my food photography, editing and publishing skills. On the video side, I have greatly improved my Final Cut Pro X editing. I have been kept busy writing, shooting, editing and publishing video for a number of my customers.
I was able to utilise my photography skills to assist Luca in Rosa Madre restaurant here in Dublin who jumped at the opportunity to reinvent his business to produce a high end, dine-at-home offering. I strongly recommend a dine-at-home treat. Link at the end of the post.
I also started a personal podcast. It has been a huge learning curve on the technical side and I now have a functioning (if basic) studio as part of my set-up. I have taught myself audio editing (the same status as “how little I know” above). As I type this, I have published 9 weekly episodes of “Tales of a Dublin Doctor”, a very personal project for me and my wider family.
The learnings from the the personal podcast have allowed me begin a series of podcasts for the Sandyford Business District Company, (a BID company where I am a volunteer Director). This is very rewarding as I get to talk to business leaders, influencers and strategists about how they are dealing with our rapidly evolving world. Links to the podcasts are at the end of the post.
On the ‘less fun’ but ‘just as important’ end of things, I have taken some online courses (free on YouTube) on the best use of the Microsoft Office 365 suite of products. I have been using Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Teams for decades. But, there is lots I don’t know. This particularly applies to Excel, where I really don’t excel. I’ll stick links at the end of this piece so you can have a look if you like. In my experience, most of us use a tiny percentage of these programmes and could save time and money by honing our skills.
Back up the bus
One of the smaller things I achieved is that I have installed a Raid back-up system for all the office home technology and personal computers. It really pulled me out of my comfort zone but I now have a seamless and reliable office back-up running across multiple devices and storage media.
Where to from here?
I continue to work with a variety of businesses giving advice and guidance on brand, marketing and communications. Each of these has faced unique challenges over the past few months. These are hugely challenging times and we need to stay focussed, stay positive and do the best we can every day.
Links and thanks
The food blog, where you can see some of my photography is linked here. Special thanks needs to go to Ken Rivard, the Boston based photographer who kickstarted my learnings in flash photography. He continues to steer me in the right direction. Have a look at the website that he and his highly talented restaurant running wife Jody Adams run (for fun), linked here.
Rosa Madre at Home, where you can order a delightful Italian dine-at-home experience is linked here.
The Conor B Podcast is on the podcast link on the website. Linked here.
I owe a debt of gratitude to Locky Butler who guided and advised me on a lot of this. Locky is a straight talking, multi-award winning, highly professional sound engineer. He is a great bloke too. His website is here.
The Sandyford “Business Bites” podcast is on the Sandyford Business District website here.
Leila Gharani’s excellent Microsoft 365 YouTube channel is here.
I hope the above is helpful to some. We may and may not get time to sharpen our skills through lockdown again. But the biggest lesson is
Keep learning. It’s the only way to grow.