For Prompt #145 at the Magpie Tales, and PawPaw, who left too soon.




His broken memory
no longer can relate
to her gentle touch-
Or the quiet reassurance
of her gnarled fingers
atop his wrinkled skin.
Or the long faded recollection
of the taste of smoked bush meat
chased down his thirsty throat
by frothy cups
of sweet palm wine.

He no longer can
remember the smell-
of moth balls – hanging
like a pall, around her clothes
a wispy cloud driven out
from before the eastward Sun
as it streaks across the sky.

But the dirty red chair
constant like the sun remains-
a signpost to a past
he can no longer reach
A place where once
Upon a Life there was a love
And a bond so strong
Though he barely remembers
He still can’t quite forget

#FabReads – How Will You Measure Your Life – Clay Christensen

In his 2012 book, How Will You measure Your Life, Clay M Christensen attempts to analyse three key life pursuits from the perspective of the theories he teaches to his MBA students at Harvard Business School, looking to extract ideas which when applied to life will ensure that the outcomes we get are aligned with the outcomes we say we want. The three areas he concentrates on are Career, Relationships and the very aptly captioned ‘Staying Out of Prison’. A few highlights:


Christensen describes the way to finding happiness as:

In order to really find happiness, you need to continue looking for opportunities that you believe are meaningful, in which you will be able to learn new things, to succeed and be given more and more responsibility to shoulder.

The process of finding these rewarding opportunities, the theory suggests, involves continuously evaluating the outcomes from a deliberate  strategy against one from an emergent  strategy. [Deliberate strategies are designed to achieve anticipated outcomes. Emergent strategies on the other hand evolve from having to optimise around opportunities and threats we can’t (or haven’t) anticipated. More information here]

Three key components to achieving this goals are identified as:

  1. Identify Your Priorities: Money often is the default metric, but it can be misleading. Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation sheds some more light on the difference between hygiene factors and motivational factors.
  2. Find the balance between deliberate and emergent strategies: The key issue is finding the balance between calculation and serendipity form the looks of it.  Honda’s entry into the US motorbike market is highlighted as a classic example of how an emergent strategy can trump a deliberate one. Finding the balance though can be difficult, hence the use of a discovery based planning process to assess the relative chance of success of a deliberate strategy versus an emergent one.
  3. Execute the strategy: The distinction between merely paying lip service to a strategy and actually implementing one is made time and time again. And it is in how we allocate our resources that our true strategy is shown. Strategy is not what you say it is, it is how you allocate your resources – time, money and energy – through your hundreds of everyday decisions. Our lives are modelled as businesses – family, career, relationships etc – each requiring an investment of our resources. This is complicated by the time frames over which pay offs occur, and we are often tempted to focus on initiatives which deliver value rather over the long term.
Key Quotes:

If the decisions you make about where you invest your blood, sweat and tears are not consistent with the person you aspire to be, you’ll never become that person



The premise here is that the greatest and longest lasting sources of happiness or sadness in our lives will come from our relationships and connections. The business theory applied here is Bhide‘s good capital and bad capital framework which simply stated is that in the initial phase of building investors should be patient for growth and impatient for profit, i.e. find a small to medium scale strategy that works, and only then begin to address the up-scaling issues.

Key points:

  1. Time scales are of importance: There is a risk in trying to sequence life. By the time we need a harvest, we may not have one!
  2. The job-to-be-done theory: The causal mechanism of every purchase of a good or service is that we have a job that needs doing, and the service fills the role. The big question for our relationships then should be what ‘job’ are we being hired for in each of our relationships. On a relational level, the key to happiness is counterintuitive; the path to happiness is about finding someone who you want to make happy, someone whose happiness is worth devoting yourself to. And in sacrificing for something worthwhile, you deeply strengthen your commitment to it.
  3. Building Capability: Three components to capability – resources, processes and priorities. 
    • Resources are the what of value creation, ie the raw materials that we turn into value
    • Processes are the how, ie how we turn resources into value
    • Priorities are the why, ie our decision matrices, culture etc.


Money Quote (For finding a spouse):

The path to happiness is about finding someone who you want to make happy, someone whose happiness is worth devoting yourself to.

Staying out of jail – the ethics question

A great summary of the marginal thinking trap’s over at the HBR.

Money Quote:

The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts

– CS lewis

Finally, On Purpose

Three components of purpose.

  • A likeness (the target destination, anticipated personality traits hoping to be built),
  • A commitment
  • Metrics for measuring progress towards attaining the likeness

His talk at TEDxBoston on YouTube, and a great precis at the Harvard Business Review website.


About Town: The Essential Guide to (Aberdonian) Cab Conversations

There are only so many taxi rides that you can take before you begin to pick up on the subtleties of maintaining inane conversations. And if your default mode of transport is a taxi, you have no choice but to cultivate the art, unless awkward silence is your forte. Here then in no specific order are the non threatening things that keep coming up for me in my journeys in the Aberdeen area.

  • Moan about the weather: If it’s nice and sunny, complain that it might rain and ruin your plans. If it’s rainy, moan away. One of the guys at work, who’s been up here since like forever once told me joke about the city. On his first day up here as an offshore construction engineer, he was chomping at the bit a little, wanting to get some materials delivered offshore. His older, wiser boss took him aside to a stretch of land overlooking the harbour and asked him what he could see. As he recalls, it was a clear bright day with only a little cloud, and he told his boss so. The boss’s answer – when it’s clear, know that it will rain tomorrow, if it is not, then it’s raining already!
  • Be prepared to discuss holiday plans: Perhaps it is due to the general consensus that the weather is lousy, but I find that cab drivers are keen to discuss holiday plans. The last cabbie I hired had a trip planned to Tenerife. I had to oblige him with a spun-on-the-fly tale about my holiday planned to Houston this year over Christmas.
  • Be prepared to talk about ‘where you’re originally from’: You will be asked where you’re originally from – and if you’re Nigerian like I am you’ll likely hear an anecdote about the country. Thanks to the length of time the likes of Shell, Sparrow and OIS/Oceaneering have been involved in the industry in Nigeria, more often than not I run into cab drivers who have pulled a stint in Port Harcourt, or who know someone who has. There is also a growing Nigerian community – current students, ex students and staff on International postings also swell the complement of Nigerians, which makes for good banter with cab drivers.
  • Be prepared to hear a moanful earful about the City Council: Scotsmen have a reputation for being miserable sods. ‘Legend‘ – and I use that as loosely as possible –  has it that copper fire was formed inadvertently as two Scotsmen fought over  two pennys in the street. My favourite moan has to be the one where the cab drivers complains about having to pay a 500 pound registration fee to be able to pick up custom from the train station. In the interest of  keeping the conversation flowing, I usually hum and ahh and toss in a word of mock outrage from time to time. In reality, I probably don’t care.
  • Know your football:  Once in a while, I have had to entertain football questions, from Scotland being lousy at the game to how dire the Aberdeen team are.
  • Have an opinion on Sir Ian Wood and the Union Terrace Gardens project. More recently a key moan topic has been the botched city centre revamp, bulk of peeps detest the plans

It’s not all doom and gloom, on the odd occasion you will run into an Ian McEwan lover. Savour those moments!

#130 – Osmosis

Delirium, for the We Write Poems prompt Osmosis;


You catch her eye
on the corner of King’s
and Guild’s, rush
of bright pink, blush.
Gaze, furtive.

A coy smile
works its way
across her face,
before she disappears.
A bird, startled as by
a twig snapped underneath
the lumbering feet
of her unwary hunter-
Half dream, half mirage,
half stolen, garbled-
fairy tale.

You feel the fever-
dry skin, throbbing head.
Unrequited memory like
the force of a hammer
against rock, a blunt axe,
Patagonian rosewood, a caged bird,
tethered to it’s roost.

Your siren’s sung-
her half song, half lure.
And like five bowstrings
plucked till worn-
all you have
is the unsated thirst
of your delirium.


Canada: The country after my heart, thanks to stumbling on a description of the low population, arctic in Kurt Koch’s demons and Demonology. Problem is the relatively high entry cost for me – uprooting myself from my life of the last three years, loss of income and the costs of chasing further studies required to break into that part of the world.

A girl: The girl I think I like enough to, in the words of Clay Christensen, devote my life to making happy; and who has only just moved to Aberdeen and is adamant she’s got a two year plan before she buggers off to Nigeria.

Australia: The future, land of opportunities and growth in oil and gas, and one which has popped up fairly regularly in my conversation lately both at work and with trusted knowledgeable others. Plus side is I can progress permanent residence without leaving the UK.

The Dream role: Back in Operations support as a Corrosion & materials engineer for an oil and gas producer with a reputation for great work, opportunities, international exposure and great remuneration.

The problem:  Finding a means to meld these disparate directions into a coherent whole, or at least find the optimum solution to the problems!



Humble pie-d

Further to your application for the position of ***, I am writing to advise that you have not been selected for interview on this occasion.

We have received other applications from candidates whose skills and experience more closely matched the role criteria. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the interest you have shown in this role and we hope our decision will not deter you from applying for any other suitable vacancies in the future.

Kind regards,

This was the email I received sometime on Friday, quite frankly out of the blue. Thanks to the fantastic run I had been on, I had become slightly too big for my own boots, turning down job offers time and time again and even going as far as thinking I had the current job I was chasing nailed after a screening interview I thought I’d aced. The hiring agent who facilitated the interview emailed to say they were keen to have a face to face in town, and I’d begun to prepare for it until the email, hence my surprise…

I suppose every bloke needs something to bring him down a notch or two once in a while and keep him grounded. I shall eat my chunk of humble pie and go back to the drawing board…

I needed reminding…

A bloke can do no worse than believe his own hype.