Fire, Earth, and Blood

This is an excerpt of the story Fire, Earth, and Blood found on Medium.com

Fire, Earth, and Blood.

My friend died today. He was executed.

My fault. Totally. My. Fucking. Fault.

Fire.

I met Jason Childers at the side of Krombek Street in Birchacres Ext. 3, or as our parents laughingly called it back then, ‘Tembisa View.’ I was almost 11.

I was desperately trying to coax a fire in a bundle of grass with a box of Lion matches I’d bought for 4 cents. The wind kept blowing out the flame before I could get a match to the yellowed tinder.

“You should sit down. With your back to the wind.” He always did have a way of condescendingly pointing out what you missed. His greatest gift, and biggest social challenge.

I whirled and glared, equal parts embarrassment and terror expressing as anger.

“What do you know? Who’re you anyway?” I snarled at the scrawny kid in his tatty khaki shorts, and holey ‘tackies’ that had once been white.

“Oh,” he replied sheepishly, as if it hadn’t occurred to him to introduce himself, “I’m Childers. Jason Childers. The other okes call me Jase.” He stuck out his hand, oddly formal. “But I don’t like it.” He added. “I’ve just joined Scouts and learned to make a fire.”

“Howzit,” I grabbed his hand, mollified, “I’ll call you J.C. My name is Foxworth Clark.”

J.C. laughed, putting on a plummy accent, “Delighted to meet you, F. C.”

Instinctively he understood I also hated being called ‘Foxy.’

“Now let me show you how to make a rrreal fire.” He held on to the Afrikaans rolling of the ‘r’ to accentuate just how great his fire must be.

We crouched down low to the grass, backs to the wind, and J.C. showed me how to cup the match in your hand and hold the matchbox close to the tinder so the match flared right next to the dry grass. After a couple of goes our little bundle of grass finally caught.

“I’m definitely going to join Scouts.” I said reverently. This was the most amazing accomplishment I’d seen.

In the haze of the African sun the small flames were invisible, and we didn’t notice the expanding patch of black until too late. Suddenly the surrounding knee-high grass was ablaze, the wind whipping it to a fury. “Jukkels,” Jason shouted, “we have to put it out!” We were on the corner of an empty lot in the middle of the new housing development. The fire was racing away from us at the roadside towards the three properties bordering the plot.

[Read More here… Fire, Earth, And Blood]

P12-079: It’s all About the Context

Permanency

Project 2012: Day 79

Ok, I’m struggling to write this post. Essentially the message I wanted to discuss is about how to answer interview questions with the most effective way to build rapport, establish credibility, and ensure you’re remembered.

What I’m struggling with is the introduction. I just can’t seem to find the words to lead into the discussion. Where do I start?

  • With the questions, good and bad, you’ll face?
  • With the standard way of answering questions with logic, and fact?
  • With an anecdote?

I just can’t think of the best way to introduce the subject. So here you go, the best way to answer interview questions to build rapport, establish credibility, and ensure you’re remembered is to relate your answer to an experience.

Story time

In other words, tell a story.

Of course your story needs to be true, and it needs to highlight the key skills you bring for this particular question.

As a species, we’re wired to transfer information through story. Story brings context. It imparts the relevant facts in a way that make sense. Finally story engages the limbic brain, the emotions.

How do you structure your answer?

Of course you don’t want to be saying “Let’ me tell you a story…” every time you answer a question. In fact, note to the wise, you don’t ever want to say that.

Rather,

“Once upon time there lived a beautiful princess, she was captured by the evil dragon, and I had to slay him with my sword to win her hand. Turns out the sword broke, but I discovered that the Dragon had a weakness for arsenic. So I baited a trap and slew him anyway.”

Just as we’re wired to share information through story, so the structure of a story gives us the framework for our answers.

Start with setting the scene: How long ago was this, what were the key relationships, who was the protagonist.

Then what was the problem.

Next, talk about how you approached the problem. What decisions you needed to make. What went well, or not well.

Then the resolution. Were your decisions/actions the right ones? Was there a happy ending (and 90% of the time this needs to be “yes”)

Finally, if there wasn’t a happy ending, what you’d do differently next time. In other words, what you’ve learned and how you’ve developed.

You can do all of this in a couple of minutes. Scene, Problem, Approach, Resolution (SPAR) & Learning

Does it depend on the question?

Not really. You could get a “contextual” question like:

“Tell me about a time when you had to deal with conflict with a customer?”

or you could get a poorly asked question like:

“How would you deal with conflict?” (the reason that’s poor is because it doesn’t actually explore your skills, just whether you’ve learned a rote answer for standard interview questions)

But either way, you could answer with:

“Last month we had a customer that came into the shop. They were livid because their phone was rebooting for no reason, and I’d sold it to them.

I listened to John, and he was really angry and argumentative. I kept asking open questions to get them talking about the specific problem. All the time I agreed that it must be pretty annoying to have the phone keep rebooting. After about 5 minutes John started calming down. By that stage I’d established that he hadn’t attempted to fix the phone either with our online support, or any other way. The solution was to reinstall the phone ROM, but I had to let John understand that I really cared first, before I could suggest and fix the phone.

Note: At know time did I “set-up” the story with “I remember when…” or “let me tell you about…”

How would I remember all of the stories I need?

Good point. You do need to prepare for your interviews. Apart from specific content (accounting, technology, law, HR, pie making etc) most interviewers are looking for relatively similar skills:

  • Working with teams
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Initiative in resolving problems. Etc

So think of 3 – 5 experiences that highlight those sorts of skills in your recent work life. When you’re preparing, it’s best to remember the actual scenario, and jot down the key points.

Then practice with your friends.

And ace your next interview.

Good luck.

Amped, Light, Art, and Passion…

Those of you who know me, know that I’m well, passionate. There’s probably 3 things that I’m passionate about.

First is my Faith

Like most thinking people I struggle with my faith, I have doubts, and I question. Suffice to say that I passionately question and test each postulation. But despite 20 years of debate and searching, I am confident in my faith, and daily humbled by creation:

Sunset at Schoennies 01

not to mention challenged to do more for the world:

Worship10

I’m also passionate about People

What makes them tick. How can we influence others (educate, sell to, motivate, discipline, lead, inspire…) and how do they influence us (market, advertise, proselytise, manipulate, sell).

From the most shocking and tragic of human endeavours

IMG_3108

To the most inspiring:

IMG_1400

Then there’s Technology

Yep – I’m a gadget freak.

I’m especially passionate about technology that allows us to connect people in some way. Communications technology like radio, phones, faxes, mobiles, – Collaboration technologies like email, video conferencing, portals.

But also technology that allows us to tell a story. Photography, musical instruments & sound gear, and video & presentation gear. Especially video. Technology that allows us to tell our story. To connect people and help them move from the tragic to the inspirational.

Technology that allows us to move from the mundane, to change the world for the better.

Light Painting

It’s no secret that I’ve fallen in love with mobile video. I’m certainly no master, but since getting the Flip Mino HD, I fell in love with the immediacy of the format. The opportunity to have a high-definition capture device where the story is happening.

Then I got my iPhone 4. Now I had not only the means to capture the story in the moment, but to publish it, in High Definition to the web within seconds.

Since then I’ve started experimenting with new forms of the media. Documentaries, Fly-on-the-wall, and timelapse all modes I’m learning and incorporating.

But then I saw this:

This film explores playful uses for the increasingly ubiquitous ‘glowing rectangles’ that inhabit the world.

We use photographic and animation techniques that were developed to draw moving 3-dimensional typography and objects with an iPad. In dark environments, we play movies on the surface of the iPad that extrude 3-d light forms as they move through the exposure. Multiple exposures with slightly different movies make up the stop-frame animation.

We’ve collected some of the best images from the project and made a book of them you can buy: http://bit.ly/mfmbook

Read more at the Dentsu London blog:
http://www.dentsulondon.com/blog/2010/09/14/light-painting/
and at the BERG blog:
http://berglondon.com/blog/2010/09/14/magic-ipad-light-painting/

And I was intrigued. Driven. I have an iPad, and wanted to make magic like that too. To incorporate that into my story telling.

Amped

All this culminated at the recent WebDirections South “hack” day, Amped. Here web developers and designers came together on a Saturday, in their own time, to form teams and develop software to solve various challenges.

Clearly, I was there in purely a support (although later judging) role. But the challenge was put before people to create their media experience of Amped!

I had time. I had my iPad. I had my camera. I was surrounded by passionate geeks. And I was inspired by Dentsu.

I didn’t have their 3D animation generating software to create the shapes of the letters. However, a little ingenuity, some flipchart paper, Photoshop and Sony Vegas, and I created a video of my word slices.

The character slices required to pain the word Amped with the iPad

Then a huge amount of trial and error with the iPad motion, exposure and shutter speed settings on the camera, and longsuffering of both trigger operator and subjects, and we generated these:


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

From clay, to CGI, but to use light….

Maybe it’s just me. But then as I said. I’m passionate Smile

What about you?

Is technology the death of real communication and influence? Recently a good friend, and dare I say, mentor addressed this question on his blog.

What are you truly passionate about?