Twice cooked pork is one of my favourite dishes in Singapore and it serves as a metaphor for todays somewhat frantic schedule. This trip to New Zealand has been strange. I come less often than I would like so there tends to be little time free. However on this trip various things went wrong with notifications to key people and the time I had reserved for Wellington was not needed. Downside, I didn't get to be a part of the best café culture in the world, upside I got some of the backlog of work cleared. Wednesday and Thursday were the advanced course, but then Thursday had two other presentations locked in. One on Innovation to Massy University via my old mate from IBM dates Kevin and the other to the Agile Community in Aukland.
Originally these had been spread out, but a mistake over diary dates and we had to pack them into one. So I finished the advanced course at 1600 having compressed lunch (thanks to everyone for agreeing to that) then moved to an adjacent meeting room (Massy had moved their location from North Shore to the Mercuré Hotel in Auckland), then to another room at 1745 for a presentation to the Agile community. A write up of that can be found here by the way. By sheer luck there was a fire alarm as I finished speaking at the Massy event and we were all evacuated. So no time for questions but my voice got a chance to recover. I felt a bit like that Jacques Tati character in the movie (can't remember the name sorry) where he keeps appearing in different “tubes” (pictured) that occupy the centre of the worst airport terminal in the world, namely Charles de Gaulle Terminal One.
Now this is not the first time I have done this sort of thing. I remember one nightmare in Cape Town where I was driven around seven different venues to give talks to groups varying from 20 to 500 for 40 minutes each with only transit time and a flask of warm water between each. It sounds terrible, but in practice its really good, especially if you can use a lot of the same material (which I did today) but with different audiences. The process of speaking and re-speaking to different (that is key) audiences in a compressed timescale provides more refinement and insight for the speaker than any amount of reflection. Of course you have to know your material, and if using slides they should be assembled in the ten minutes grace between each event (if you don't see why don't attempt it); but its great learning.
On this occasion we also added in a breakfast meeting, and a dinner so it was a long day. Tomorrow I have free, until an evening double red eye to Brazil so I plan another dawn walk by way of preparation.
PS: If you ever book a meeting room in the Mercuré, 8 Customs Street, Auckland learn two things: the food is really good and you must insist in advance on a room with natural light. The one we had for the advanced course was a nightmare for a partial claustrophobic (thats me) and they would not/could not change it. Personally I think they should not offer that room to anyone without a health warning. Not only did it have a low ceiling and poor air circulation, but the partition to the next room was old and worn and not sound proof. Given that room had a session which involved considerable audience participation it made life difficult. Fortunately the partner of one of the course participations was in it, so we were able to send “keep the noise” down text messages as needed. The hotel were less helpful.