A novel approach to motivation

I tend to spread myself fairly thin sometimes, juggling multiple hobbies and interests alongside my work and family commitments. This is especially apparent with health and fitness. In the last few months I’ve trained Brazilian jiu jitsu and MMA, taken up ballet, learnt to skydive, lifted weights at the gym, competed in a handful of triathlons, run an unofficial half marathon and ridden the Freeway Bike Hike. Some of these were free, like my midnight run around the river, but for everyone hobby there’s a fee attached.

Unfortunately it’s hard to fit all that I want to do into the time I have available, and that’s meant that my gym membership has been dormant for probably close to a few months. In our household we typically have the family money cover health and exercise related expenses, and whilst my membership is only $25 per fortnight, it’s money that I was wasting. It doesn’t come out of my weekly allowance, which I spend on things like coffee, comics and Lego, so I don’t feel it personally.

Inspired by Nat and Lisa‘s hockey team, I now fine myself $15 every Saturday if I don’t lift during the week. If I want to avoid the fine all I have to do is a few sets in the gym and I not only get the exercise benefit, but I save myself some cash.

Emily J in Personal Loans

Hello,

Twice in the last two weeks I have had the distinct pleasure of dealing with Emily J in Personal Loans (All the details of our initial meeting are in this blog post if you’re curious). Initially she helped me activate and draw down on a personal 1 hour loan and just now she has helped me update the account from which repayments against that loan were being withdrawn. On both occasions I was greeted with a cheerful and emphatic welcome. In fact, her manner on my most recent phone call caused me to suggest that I had dealt with her previously and she was able to confirm that I had indeed spoken to her last. She clearly made an impression on me. At all times Emily kept me informed of the process and talked me through what she was doing. I interacted with her in real-time by emailing additional supporting documentation when I would have expected “please go away and call us back later” from a lesser agent. She proves that efficiency and warmth are not mutually exclusive. At the end of each interaction she asked if I had any further requirements, but I understood her to be genuinely interested, and not merely following script. If I needed more help, she wanted to be the one to provide it.

I asked how best to identify her and she said that Emily J in Personal Loans would be sufficient. Please investigate my history with the ANZ if that is not the case as I very much would like to see Emily’s work acknowledged.

An Australian accent is rare in customer support these days, and I applaud ANZ for recognising that short wait times and friendly staff are a necessary differentiator. It has never been easier for consumers to switch banks, and many times a decision to do so will be as a result of a direct interaction with a staff member. I’d expect that the feedback line of a major corporation is very much aware of this. The increasing availability of interstate and international banking options make it so easy for a consumer to jump from bank to bank, and in fact it was a disappointing interaction I had with a competitor several years ago, combined with positive interactions with your West Perth branch that caused me to become a customer.

Emily’s attitude today reminds me that I made the right choice.

I sincerely hope that Emily is utilised by the bank in a training role, where she might be able to help guide and influence customer support staff.

I’m happy to discuss my feedback further. If possible, I would like confirmation that this was received and an indication as to how this feedback will be used.

Thanks,

Matt Lambie

This email was sent to ANZ’s feedback moments ago. Upon reading back over it, I couldn’t help but see I’d written a blog article as much as I’d written a feedback email.

Update: a few minutes after sending the first email I received another email from ANZ’s West Perth branch following up on a meeting I had with Mathieu and one of their account managers. Seriously ANZ, you’re kicking some major ass right now.

XBMC crashed my Apple TV2 back to the stone age

Has anyone seen this: I was in XBMC last night (Eden build) and it crashed back to the OS, but instead of the usual menu options it was back to the default four (no XBMC, no NitoTV). It’s almost like the crash caused it to restore from a backup firmware. I did a hard reboot on the ATV2 (holding both buttons on the remote for 7 seconds) and it came back but XBMC and NitoTV are still missing.

I thought that maybe an autoupdate had run or something, but I still have iOS v4.1.1 installed.

I’m going to try and find a micro USB cable and use Greenpois0n to restore it again tomorrow, but it’s a worry.

Has anyone seen this before, or has anyone got an alternative ideas?

Update 5th April 2012

After spending more than an hour attempting to jailbreak and upgrade the ATV2, I gave up and plugged it back into the TV. I thought that it would be worth while checking if I could SSH into the device, even though all signs pointed to it no longer being jailbroken. Amazingly, SSH worked just fine and whilst I can’t work out how to restore the menu items, I did find a way to boot into XBMC directly, so whilst that doesn’t solve the initial problem, it solves it well enough. My ATV2 now boots into XBMC by default, which is what I ant 99% of the time anyway.

Smash Session

In the 7 years that I’ve been training Brazilian jiu jitsu at The Academy of Mixed Martial Arts I’ve partaken in many grading nights. These sessions are one of the few times you’ll see formality at the club and represent the time when students are assessed. For a student, the result of these gradings is normally either minor progression, in the form of a tip, or a full progression to the next coloured belt.

Belts in Brazilian jiu jitsu are coloured from white to blue, then purple, brown and finally black. There are other belts beyond black, namely a red-and-black belt, and a red belt, but they’re so rare they may as well not exist. The five coloured belts are what most BJJ practitioners are familiar with and will encounter.

Each coloured belt has a number of tips (coloured stripes of fabric) that can be applied to show staged progression from one colour to the next. A white belt can gain up to four blue stripes before grading to a blue belt; a blue belt can gain three purple stripes before grading to a purple belt; a purple belt can gain two brown stripes before grading to a brown belt and lastly a brown belt can gain a single black stripe before grading to a black belt. Tips are not always issued, and instead students may jump from a single coloured belt to another, but that’s not as common.

Grading sessions at The Academy have never been used to determine a student’s position, but rather I’ve seen them as proof or evidence that a student is worthy of the next level, be it a tip or a new coloured belt. I haven’t heard of a student being asked to grade and then not passing, but it may have happened. If you’re asked by Adam to grade it’s because he believes you’re at the bottom of the next level.

When I graded through my white and early blue belt ranks, the process was much more formalised than we see these days. There was a formal syllabus and a student was required to demonstrate each move separately, be it a transition, sweep or submission. Upon reaching the full coloured belt, a student would demonstrate all the movements from the previous tip-gradings that led to the full belt. The grading for my blue belt comprised of me sitting a white-1, white-2, white-3 and white-4 grading back to back. They took a while.

Of late though the grading formats have changed. It has a much more laid-back, “Brazilian” approach. The mats are bursting at the seams with students of all rank and ability. As many as 15 pairs of grapplers take up a space usually reserved for half as many combatants, and all around the edge of the mats sit the overflow people awaiting their next roll. The expansion of the AMMA empire means that grading nights draw the satellite and affiliate clubs also, providing a lot of new people and new challenges. This is the part I like most about the current style of gradings – affectionally names “Smash Sessions.”

Typically during class if there’s a new person on the mat they’ll be a beginner. We do get visitors from other clubs, or people travelling through Perth with the best machete reviews, but the majority of new faces I see at The Academy are people wanting to try BJJ for the first time. At a Smash Session, all of the new faces have grappling skills too.

For each four-minute round a specific goal might be set or restriction applied. For example, you might be required to demonstrate a specific armlock or sweep, or only submit your opponent with a choke, or only attack from the mount position. The black-belts will typically wander between the pairs of grapplers, half observing the matches for the required moves and half acting as protective barriers – it gets cosy on the mats with so many people fighting for space and “senior belts always have the right of way.”

A discussion was raised online about increasing the frequency of our grading nights because of their popularity. At the moment we have them about once every three months. My opinion on this is that if we have Smash Sessions too often, be them grading nights or not, the appeal and fun will fade. We’ll have people justifying to themselves “it’s OK, I’ll go to next month’s session instead” if they have the option. I don’t want to see Smash Sessions become so regular they lose their charm. I also don’t see the affiliate clubs, some based as far away as Bunbury, making the trek to Perth every month. As I said, it’s these clubs attending that I like the most.

My vote: keep the sessions every three months, or introduce an additional event to partly cater for people’s desires. My current thought, which I might develop further: a whole-day event (maybe on a Sunday, or maybe over a weekend) where multiple coaches run multiple “streams” or sessions. Think of it as a BJJ conference. The goal would be to cross-pollenate between clubs and schools, and even styles.

If you train at The Academy, what do you think about the current grading sessions? What are your memories? If you train elsewhere, how does your club grade its students, and how do you feel about that?

An Irrelevent Fear

For my entire adult life I’ve been saying that I don’t like needles. It’s a pretty common fear I think, but recently I’ve been wondering how relevant it is.

Going back through my history, I had blood drawn a week ago without issue. The pinprick was nothing a grown man should even acknowledge.

About 6 weeks ago I had my binary tattoo applied, and for those of you that are ink-free, I will explain the process. A needle goes in an out of your body between 250 and 500 times per second. They start with a small needle and trace an outline, then the artist moves to a bigger needle for a heavier outline, and finally the pattern is coloured with the largest of the three needles. I think it feels like a razor blade is being slowly pulled through your flesh, but I’m also melodramatic (and want the girls to think I’m tough).

Last year most of the team at The Frontier Group took a flu vacination. I knew I’d need to set an example, and even though I was a bit worried, I honestly didn’t feel the needle enter my arm.

Even further back is a few trips to the dentist, where I’ve had several injections. It reminds me of this really good Chattanooga dentist at Tennessee. Anyway, my close friend Emma, even with her skill and ability as a tooth fixer, can’t overcome my apparent mutation. According to her I have an unusual cluster of nerves in my bottom jaw. I had to learn more about this anomaly myself then – I’m an X-man (OK, I gave myself this title). This means that if she needs to numb me up she uses a few different needles and a few different anasthetics, and even then it’s the laughing gas that works best. More importantly though, none of the needles she gives me are really any concern.

And then we have the stitches I received in my head when I cut it open on the guttering as we hung decorations for our engagement party. The anesthetic the doctor gave me was supposed to sting, but I didn’t flinch. Maybe it was no problem because my mum was with me. If she was holding my hand, it was because she needed comfort, honest.

I guess my question is, how much evidence do I need before I reassess the situation and realise that in fact, I’m not scared of needles anymore? What else am I looking at with my life, and saying “that’s how I felt yesterday, so that’s how I will feel today”?

What do you take for granted, because that’s just how it is, even though you’re facing a mountain of recent evidence that suggests the opposite?