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SYNG

How to Lead With Curiosity

All the major breakthroughs and inventions in the history of the world derive from one thing: curiosity. As defined by Mirriam-Webster, curiosity is the desire to know and I would add that it is inherently intrinsic to who we are as a species.

Curiosity is linked to all aspects of human development and it’s what allows us to acquire knowledge and skills so we can support our lives and have an impact on the world around us.

It inspires us to ask questions we want to understand something, create something original, or solve a difficult problem. This is why curiosity has led to so many wonderful breakthroughs because it’s not too far apart from creativity. In fact, it fuels it.

As humans, we have an instinctive desire to seek and explore. It’s a natural, insatiable drive that we should prioritize as much as any other drive because it can lead us to greatness in all aspects of life.

The question I want to work with today is this: if curiosity leads to breakthrough innovations, unbound creativity, and transformative ideas, why aren’t we all tapping into this powerful asset?

The Fear of Saying “I Don’t Know”

Saying “I don’t know” is something most people tend to avoid like the plague. But why is that? What is wrong with admitting that you don’t know everything? Absolutely nothing. Not knowing is a positive. In fact, it opens us up to possibilities.

“I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here. I don’t have to know an answer.”

Richard Feynman

What happens when we ignore something? We take steps to seek the information we need and we end up learning a lot more than we originally intended to.

As Chamath Palihapitiya said, “It’s really powerful to be able to say ‘I don’t know’. American culture is this weird thing of know-it-alls. When is learning going to be valuable?”

What We Are Taught About Failure

If you remember what it was like to be a child or if you’ve had the chance to observe a child, then you already know how much curiosity we have in those early years.

Sir Ken Robinson has a great story about this, “A little 6-year-old girl was in a drawing lesson and she was in the back drawing. The teacher was fascinated by it because the little girl could never pay attention so she went over to ask what the girl was drawing. The girl answered, ‘I’m drawing a picture of God’. And the teacher said, ‘But nobody knows what God looks like’, to which the girl said ‘Well, they will in a minute.’

When children don’t know something, they simply take a stab at it because they are not afraid of being wrong. That’s why they are so creative! If you are not prepared for failure, how can you expect to come up with anything original?

By the time we grow up and become adults, we become scared of being wrong, and that’s why there are so many leaders out there who stigmatize mistakes and failure.

This is how people are educated out of their creative potential because we are taught to stick to the left side of our brains, but in doing that, we stop questioning things.

The Work Culture Issue

Work culture often consists of an incentive structure that is set up to stifle and silence curiosity and creativity. However, as Elon Musk has said, “The massive thing that can be done is to make sure that your incentive structure is such that innovation is rewarded and not punished.”

When curiosity is incentivized, innovations occur left and right, so people rise through the ranks and meet their goals a lot faster. As a result, the organization thrives more than ever before.

So, you can see how our curiosity is silenced by external forces since we are children, but that changes today. From this moment on, you are going to turn things around.

Take the stigma and fear out of not knowing and turn it into a positive because that allows you to honor your curiosity by wondering, investigating, exploring, and learning.

What Does This Mean for Your Organization?

When you learn to say “I don’t know” you go from being the carrier of knowledge to being the person who asks interesting questions, and that is a lot more valuable than we’re taught to believe.

One of my favorite things to say in meetings or conversations is “I don’t know, what do you think?” This propels the conversation, leads to collaboration, and it allows you to empower people.

When you stop offering solutions, in the words of Michael Bungay Stanier, “You begin to empower people not by giving them the answer, but by helping them find their own answer. Not by holding onto control, but by giving up some of it and inviting others to sept in and step up.”

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SYNG

Forget the T-shaped skillset: Try being a comb instead!

Landing your first job might be tricky if you don’t have a specific skill set, but you know what? Getting hired with a plethora of skills is even more challenging contrary to what you might think. More means more chances of getting noticed by the hiring manager, right? No.  

Don’t sweat it; I’ve been there, done that. I’ve field-tested and learnt what works the hard way, so you don’t have to. And that’s what we will explore in this article. How to pass the recruitment process like a silk scarf through an engagement ring when you are a comb? It’s the Indian rope trick equivalent, except you get hired at the end, and no one disappears.

Here is what you will take away from this article:

  • What are the different types of skill sets, and which one is right for you?
  • How to show up in front of potential recruiters / hiring managers? 
  • What to put on your resume?
  • How to get work? The dos and don’ts of being a comb.

Before we dive into the differences, let’s clearly define each of these concepts. There are three commonly known skill sets T-shape, Pi shape and Comb shape. But, for this article, I’m going to make a case for the comb because I want you to aim higher than lower.

The short version goes like this. 

One area of expertise: You’re a T

Two areas of expertise: You’re a Pi

Multiple areas of expertise: You’re a champion (or a comb)

I would argue that a polymath is the embodiment of a comb. Did I lose you there? It’ll make sense in a minute. Hang tight. First, here’s a good definition of T-shape by Jason Yip:

Image source.

“A T-shaped person is capable in many things and expert in, at least, one.

As opposed to an expert in one thing (I-shaped) or a “jack of all trades, master of none” generalist, a “t-shaped person” is an expert in at least one thing but also somewhat capable in many other things. An alternate phrase for “t-shaped” is “generalizing specialist”.”

Jason Yip

Being a comb comes from combining several T’s, meaning you have expertise in multiple verticals and a multi-disciplinary approach. Full-stack, baby!

Cariel Cohen captures it quite well in his article here.

When you have a T-skillset, you become confined in a uni-dimensional box- a niche. You might know the whole ball of wax about it, but you are entirely clueless about other skills related to your career. And that’s where being a comb helps you bridge the gap. And that’s what we are doing here. 

Some areas where T-shaped works better than anything else include specialized doctors, lawyers, athletes and professors.

A T-shape skilled person is ideal for filling a role in a large company because all the skills are distributed, and you act as a cog in a piece of large machinery. 

On the other hand, Combs prefer to take on more responsibility and are usually leading companies or teams because they have a knack for understanding and solving complex situations and problems. 

Disclaimer: Agreed, this can sound a bit overwhelming to a few and being a comb can be challenging! It’s also not for everyone. There is no one right way. However, if there’s a spark, then I encourage you to read on.

You’ve probably heard the most famous and familiar quote used in arguments for specialist vs generalist: Jack of all trades master of none. Yep, that one! It’s factually incorrect. The complete sentiment goes as: 

A jack of all trades is a master of none but often better than a master of one.

To be a comb, you need to be hyper-curious, live in the nuance and the chaos. It would help if you got away from the mindset that you are only required to excel in one field and not know a dime about others. 

Elon Musk is a comb. He has disrupted banking, rockets, the auto industry, ai, and so on. 

The biggest challenge of getting hired is when you’re a comb, provided that is your predicament.

It is about time we address the disclaimer given earlier. While it gives you a competitive edge, the considerable skill knowledge can act against you too! 

Wonder how? Well, it’s from the hiring manager’s perspective. The wide range of skills leaves the potential employer baffled as to where to fit you. The only way out, according to them, is simply negating your application. 

And here is how you will play a different hand! Look, talk, behave like a T-shaped skill person when preparing your resumes and giving interviews. Acting like a T early in the conversation is to eliminate the decision-making fatigue for the recruiter. You’re thinking from the hiring manager’s perspective and making it easy for them to hire you. You’re giving them evidence to solve a problem they have. 

However, that doesn’t mean you will have to act like a T all the time. Once you have landed a job, start being a comb by taking an interest, being curious, and demonstrating your expertise in every facet of the role, team, and company you sit within.

How will the employer or the organization take it? If you’ve played your cards right, slowly but steadily, you’ll sit at the heart of several functions and projects, making you indispensable and the ideal candidate for a promotion.

There you have it! You’ve either come out wanting nothing to do with combs, or the torn voice inside your brain which desired more has finally discovered its path and place in the world.

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SYNG

The Art of Remote Storytelling

Virtually presenting your creative ideas and telling engaging stories can be limiting and challenging. Most people observe passively and multitask in the background adding to your frustration. Is there a way to get noticed and replicate the in-person experience remotely, influencing and winning the audience? Don’t sweat, I’ve done the leg work and have got you covered. 

Calling out the audience in the room.

The medium of communication may be different, but one element remains unchanged: people. And, since the dawn of time, people have loved telling and listening to stories. Ironically, filmmakers have mastered the art of telling people stories on a screen! Imagine if Hollywood directors and editors, the likes of Wes Anderson and Stanley Kubrik, were guiding and helping you execute a virtual presentation. 

Park yourself in a comfortable chair, kick your feet up, make some popcorn. Let’s dive into the 3 acts of preparing, delivering and closing virtual presentations like a boss (cue drum roll).

Prepare.

Tell a story without slides.

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article, it’s to stop prioritizing your PowerPoint slides and focus your efforts on content and storytelling. Don’t get me wrong, professionally designed slides are a great tool, but no one cares if you spent 3 hours selecting the perfect sans serif font and shade of incarnadine on the cover. How many big-budget production-heavy movies can you think of that tanked at the box office? My point precisely. Your audience will remember the story you told and how you made them feel. 

Begin by thinking like a movie director and an editor. You’re taking the audience on a journey from point A to B, so be surgical and omit the riff-raff. Zero in on what emotions you’d like people to experience during and after the meeting. Ever come out of a full-day session feeling charged up and ready to tackle the world or come out of a 30-minute rant and felt drained?

Apply the simple three-act story arc to your presentation with a beginning, middle and end. Open by drawing your audience into your big ideas. Think of this as your hook point. Next, why should they care, and what will be the reward at the end? Heck, spice it up and throw in a plot twist. Five-finger discounts, anyone? 

Get into your audience’s head.

We love talking about ourselves, our process, our charts, our projections, our slides and spraying the room with our industry lingo. I’ve been there, guilty as charged.

In your next meeting, flip the switch, think about your audience’s experience – their needs, fears, challenges and what drives and excites them. Use their words and lingo. Win them over emotionally, and they’ll rationalize analytically. 

For example, even before the meeting day, level-set your audience expectations by adding the high-level schedule in the calendar invite, just like a snappy movie trailer. 

Your first assistant director or moderator

If possible, get someone on your team to help moderate and scribe. From giving others screen sharing permissions, muting guests (we’ve all been there) to scribing and noting action items, a moderator can help keep the conversation on track. This way, you can remain focused on storytelling.

Deliver.

Warm up the crowd. Get ’em stretching, literally.

Empathy reels them in. Depending on the time of day, duration of your scheduled meeting and context, use the first few minutes to make small talk (ice breakers) get people out of their chairs to stretch, drink water, eat something or use the bathroom. You don’t know how their day has been leading up to your presentation—ever heard of Zoom fatigue? By having empathy for your audience, changing their physiological state, you’ll make them far more receptive to your ideas. 

Use these initial minutes to share your meeting structure and set some simple ground rules. A few examples include: 

  1. People should say their names before they speak. 
  2. Have attendees drop their questions in the chat window to be addressed at the allocated time of the session (your first assistant director can help prioritize them). 
  3. Set roundtable checkpoints with key decision-makers to ensure they get a chance to speak. 

By doing the above, you keep everyone engaged and add transparency to the conversation.

Help people imagine. Think like a sound designer.

You ranted for an hour, and towards the end, during QA, one could hear the crickets in the hollowing silence. Can everyone hear you, and are they listening? Someone famous once said, “people see with their ears.” To keep your audience engaged, speak in a clear and balanced voice. Limit talking to short bursts of one to two minutes. Pace yourself and take deliberate pauses to emphasize specific points. Ever heard Obama recite a speech? Sprinkle in anecdotes and experiences. Nostalgia can be even more powerful than memory.

Remove any audio distractions (do the best you can with your situation): mute cell phones and other electronics, schedule your child’s trombone practice in the next room before or after your meeting. Sound about right?

Technology is wallpaper. Ten tips, tricks and hacks!

Your tech and production should work comfortably in the background. Here are some simple tips in no specific order. 

1. Stick to the technology you know well or, better yet, learn what your audience uses.

2. Despite preparation, there could be unforeseen hiccups. So be prepared to go without your slides. 

3. If you’re using Zoom, when setting up your meeting, select the “Mute upon entry” option. This ensures you avoid disrupting the flow of your presentation.

4. Turn on your camera and frame yourself. Sit bang centre of the screen and have the camera be at eye level (throw some books under that laptop). Have the light source be in front of you, so your face is lit up properly. Occasionally look into the camera. 

5. Get that sweet podcast voice. Connect an external mic to improve the fundamentals in your voice and reduce the echoey sounds. 

6. Clean up your background. Get rid of laundry or any distracting elements. Zoom backgrounds are great, but keep it simple and avoid overdoing them. 

7. Connect and use a secondary monitor so you can have easy access to your notes, chat window and any additional presentation materials ready to go.

8. Practice and test before. You can also start the meeting early with your moderator to iron out any issues. 

9. Be mindful and keep meetings short. Schedule multiple if necessary. 

10. Consider the different time zones when scheduling and send passwords in advance.

Close.

Give people time back in the day. 

Take deep dives offline, being mindful of others. With the help of your first assistant director (moderator/scribe), share notes, action items, next steps, roles and responsibilities etc., immediately after the meeting while it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind. Then, schedule a follow-up (include movie trailer).

Remember, your story will make or break the presentation. Be ready to scrap your slides. Have empathy for your audience, keep it short and sweet – staying razor-sharp focused on their experience. And finally, no one can read 12 point font on your slides, bruh! 

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SYNG

Missed Connections — Short Film Series

Hello and welcome! Everyone is trying to cope with the current strange situation in their own way. I’m making a series of short films. Why am I making films? Have I made some already? Where am I posting them? Who watches them? Should you be watching them? Feeling anxious and excited? Don’t sweat or panic; I’ll explain everything.

The short version. Start watching.

The long version. You and I are going to be looking back at this blip and have worthy historical stories (hopefully nothing traumatic). I’m doing and making something positive we can look back at and be like, “remember how we made a cool short film during that time…”

Let’s dive right into it now. Are you familiar with Craigslist, Missed Connections? If not, check out this page. In a nutshell, these are stories people post anonymously. They missed an opportunity — stories of individuals who had a chance to make a connection with another human but lost it — ever swiped left to life? It’s not platonic if that’s what you were wondering.

I find them to be relatable and nothing short of a mental tickle. Last year, I turned these stories into graphics on my Instagram page.

Now, I’m making these anonymous posts into a series of short films. By short, I mean no more than 60 seconds. Did you watch them on Youtube yet?

Oh, Paul! This is SO cool! You’re so cool. How can I get involved? My voice is no David Attenborough, but I did make that speech at the park, by the sand pit, in the general direction of people. One kid was paying close attention only for me to realise later there was a butterfly in my hair.

Cool. Cool. Cool. Cool.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested. You can read through some of these anonymous stories (they are from the Toronto area, but you can pick any city of your liking). If you want to tell your own story, heck, I’m open to that provided you can keep it under forty seconds.

If you choose to go the Craigslist route, we can shortlist 1–3 stories (or as many or little as you like). Friends who have recorded them say it took them roughly 2 minutes per account as they recorded each story a few times to get the rhythm right.

Rhythm? Turn off the mental alarm bells. All that means is you’re reading them as if you are the person writing it with natural pauses to sound like a human and not a digital assistant.

To record on your iPhone all you need is the default installed Voice memos app and a closet. Pretty sure Android phones have an equivalent.

Paul, I love what you’re doing and would prefer to enjoy it as an audience. That’s awesome! Subscribe to my Youtube channel, hit the bell notification and sit back in your easy chair and enjoy the series. No hard feelings, bruh!

And lastly, this is a not-for-profit side project. In other words, no money will be changing hands. I’m happy to share your social channel (of choice) in the video description.

Email me: paul@syng.cc if you’re interested ;–)

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SYNG

What’s in your pockets?

With only thirty minutes left to the day, exhausted, I’ve decided to write you a detailed description of the contents of my pockets.

In my left pant pocket, there are receipts from Starbucks; I drank Americano with honey and almond milk during the day. A Tall Blonde Latte made with almond milk in the evening. There was an egg and sausage wrap involved.

The shirt pocket has my lunch receipt from work. Fish, jerk chicken and daal, if you were curious. Can’t complain, right?

Back pants pockets are reserved for my phone and wallet — only while standing or on the move, never sitting down. On digging further I recovered lint, cat hair and a cineplex ticket.

The small pocket intended for watches has loose change comprising of 3 quarters, a loonie and a dime.

Bet you didn’t notice I went to the movie alone.

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Write Every Day

Addicted to software updates

Is that even a thing? For the sake of conversation, let’s make some wild assumptions. Are you with me? Let’s go!

I get a dopamine rush at the sight of an “Update” button on the App Store. I love having every single piece of software operating in the latest version; be it a MacBook Pro, the iPhone or my Apple Watch.

Like your average nerd, I am enrolled in every single beta programme out there, taking first dibs at the latest and greatest stuff one could imagine in their wildest dreams.

Just thinking about what I’m going to be doing minutes after finishing this nugget is making me ticklish. I bet we are not on the same page right now.

This year, on Christmas, when Hyundai announced a software update for my car; bringing Apple Car Play to the 2016 Sonata, I was stoked. Santa must be impressed with my behaviour, I concluded.

But there have been instances when my addiction got the best of me. Like the time I was out on a Tinder date; I updated a girl’s phone while she was away to the bathroom. Only to be caught red-handed minutes later, as she stood behind my back, in shock, while I updated half-a-dozen apps on her phone. Don’t even get me started on her firmware. In my defence, she was away for a long time, and I got lonely.

Word of advice to girls on Tinder: Please add “Don’t update my phone while I’m trying to take a massive dump!” to your bio to avoid any further confusion or take a knee and get left swiped.

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Write Every Day

Smell good

I was born on tropical land, inherited Aryan genetics, consumed lassi and butter chicken for breakfast (go figure), bathed with a bucket of cold “tanki” water, spoke a smoothie of Hindi, Punjabi and English, slept by the water-cooler and drove an LML Vespa.

Yep, childhood was great! “Ballin,” is how any person in my immediate surrounding would describe the predicament. I live in Canada now, eh.

There was only one snafu. My armpits reeked of goat breath all through childhood. Don’t ask me what happened when I was left alone by a cage full of pretentious goats. The only grooming products available to me, all thanks to my mom, were Vaseline, talcum powder and coconut oil.

One morning, I concocted those ingredients into a super formula, putting any reputed apothecary to shame! Little had I known what would be in store for me that afternoon in math’s class. The layers peeled off like potato chips. The teacher wasn’t impressed at my attempt to sneak snacks, in class, under my armpits.

That was a turning point. Like a character defining moment in a John Grism novel. Embarrassed and impressed with myself, I decided to find a better way. On my ride back home, that evening, I decided to stop by the neighbourhood general store.

We didn’t have Harrods.

The counter was so high I could barely see over and above. Boy, was I short back then. With both hands on the edge of this counter as mentioned above, I pulled myself up on my toes and looked over to the store clerk.

“Yes, what would like beta (clerk refers to me lovingly as a son)?”

“Do you have something to treat smelly armpits?”

He appeared puzzled at first but then got up and went towards the back of the store where they keep all the shaving gear. He returned minutes later holding a white bottle, over his head, as if it were a trophy. He placed it on the counter inches from my nose. It was beautiful. I knew I was in love with a bottle of Old Spice.

I’ve never had to sneak chips under my armpits ever since.

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Write Every Day

The desk

Working from a café, on your laptop, is a trifle at best and a trek if you’re carrying a laptop bag. A coffee shop, in my mind, is suitable for meetings, quick last-minute edits, chatting and “coffee” but the absolute worst for doing focused work.

“Oh, look! There’s Paul at the coffee shop working on his laptop. Boy does he look engrossed. He must be very productive getting all his shit done,” said no person, ever.

This segues into why one should fashion their own Batcave. Or the close cousin, a desk in mom’s basement. A creative space (doesn’t mean artsy-fartsy, bruh!) equipped with all the bells and whistles turns me on. Like, a lot. It’s frightening.

Allow me to explain. A corner of your house or studio or mom’s basement, away from all the distractions is a space littered with natural light, decked with a loveseat or bed, to take power naps. Heck, throw in a bookshelf and hang art on the wall.

And now the workstation.

Imagine a desk, preferably white and standing. Large enough for your imagination and small enough to fit in a downtown shoebox apartment.

Besides your laptop, secondary monitor (only for high rollers) and speakers, the desk should have sufficient room to spread two books, a notepad, a coffee mug, a pair of wireless headphones, reading glasses, and your phone.

The only thing left to do now is to finish this rant. Run along now. Shoo!

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Write Every Day

Naked ankles


It’s been half a decade. And I can’t seem to stop. I’m finally coming out and saying it. Ready? Naked ankles are my weakness. Folding my pant cuffs, revealing the hairy flesh underneath, is a habit I picked up from GQ. Shameless plug alert. I wrote for GQ. So when I say GQ was my bible you know, I have a biased opinion.

On any typical evening, I’d lay back in my brown bean bag, beer in hand, with an issue of GQ — scrutinising the flood of ads, semi-nude photography, drool over things I couldn’t afford and study the informative articles and giggle baloney banana over the cheeky columns.

I can trace back to the first time I folded my pant cuffs. I felt liberated, free and sexy. Like the time you pooped, for the first time, without your pants and underwear hanging around your ankles.

Right!

Sure, GQ had influenced my style and taste, but one can’t forgive the sultry Indian summers for partly being responsible — giving “wind in my hair” an entirely new meaning, eh?

To my fellow Canadians, the habit appears a little odd in – 30-degree temperature. I wouldn’t recommend it to the faint hearted.

“You keeping your ankles warm?”

Something I regularly hear from near and dear ones — who worry about my health and are a bit confused about my sexuality. You know who you are. I love you too.

Hey! I don’t see anybody rallying behind Sally. Sally who? She’s a basic bitch, sporting a skirt ten inches above the knees. Are we neighbouring in sexism territory, yet?

Moving along now. The fact of the matter is, I don’t mind the attention. Yeah, a whore for all the eyes. So what? I catch girls (even men, sheesh!) staring down my pants all the time.

Now I know what it’s like to have a revealing pair.

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Write Every Day

Vanilla bean yoghurt


Perched on my living room couch, a tub of vanilla bean yoghurt in hand, I realised how much my mid-day snacking habits have changed. I’m turning thirty-something this year. Geez! Has it been that long?

There was a time, and I kid you not, when slices of bread, pan-fried in butter, and a cup of hot milk was my go-to evening snack. Just good old white bread.

None of the bloated “millennial loaf” bullshit — no traces of gluten-free, non-GMO or hints of digestive seeds, which make one shit as if they were an ice-cream dispenser, were found.

Devoid of the Whole Foods luxury, back in India, we had good old “real” local bakeries. There was one in the market down the street from our place.

The bakery was always warm, smelled of freshly baked bread (duh!), hot potato patties, ketchup, water on bricks, biscuits in a gazillion varieties, flour and the smelly kids who’d stop by after school, still in their uniforms, for the hot patties and bottle of Thums Up.

How much I loved Thums Up. Oh, boy.

At the hint my mother planning a visit I’d run out the main door and position myself at the gate and look busy (as if expecting a package from the bank). Who was I fooling with the mustard-stained wife-beater top, torn shorts and flip-flops?

Not mom.

On arriving at the bakery in question, I’d point at goods in the glass cases and turn to mom for approval. “Mum! Let’s take some cookies with the chocolate in the middle, please.”

The gentleman behind the counter, sporting handlebar moustaches, on getting a nod from mom, placed a dozen cookies in a brown paper bag and handed it over to me with a big smile on his face.

Proud of my little victory, I’d carry the bag of cookies home as if it were a trophy I’d won for scoring well in art class. Yep, art class. I’d always run up ahead of mom and sneak two biscuits in my shorts.

They had pockets!

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Write Every Day

The lonely nose hair

Tell me you haven’t looked someone in the eye, noticed a single strand of hair poking out of their nose, and been a) sick to your stomach or b) made attempts to stare without getting caught or c) imagined not one but a hair flower. Nose hair extensions, anyone?

I don’t like to stick my nose in other people’s business but to let one’s hair down shouldn’t be taken literally. Sure, one could argue the merits of nose hair – they’re the first line of defence against bacteria and smelly farts.

By that token, the renegade strand dangling dangerously out of one’s nostrils echoes Tom Hanks (remember Apollo?) trying to save humanity from extinction.

It’s worse when the person in question appears well-groomed from afar and, BAM! You’re in for a rude shock once you lock square with them. Maintaining eye-contact at this point induces deep psychological, character and personality changing pain. Why do I suddenly feel the urge to clean my nose?

To be fair, in my mind’s eye, I see nostrils flaring, large volumes of air moving in and out of the nasal cavity (like Bullet trains from a tunnel) while a fruit fly is trying to escape the gravitational pull of the black holes. Yes, two of em.

Shaving your face? Doing your upper-lip? Scrutinizing the pores on your chin, post bath? Do humanity, or the likes of me, a favour and get a little tweezer action up them nostrils.

Give Tom Hank’s some respect, please.

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Write Every Day

Elevator pitch

In the nooks and crannies of a corporate workplace lurks awkward silence, small-talk (also the bane of my existence) and the half-ass smirk/smile one is subjected to while crossing paths in (carefully designed — very — narrow) corridors.

If you already haven’t pieced it together, the writer of this nugget works a corporate job. Nothing fancy about that, one would conclude. The struggle and temptation to make conversation ensue moments into your ride up the elevator.

Oh, look! There’s Timothy from accounting! You lock eyes, and just before you launch into a smile, he looks away. Sheesh, buddy! I thought we had a moment last week at the water cooler. I had to bear witness to your struggle of preparing an instant espresso, the whole 25 seconds of it.

Only inches away you spot the girl who farted in your cubicle while you had stepped away to meet Timothy in accounting — to confront him about his behaviour this morning. Your flatulence has gone a long way, madam.

And what about the over-friendly folk who can’t seem to take a hint — not sure when they’re going to bring up the Linkedin request they’ve sent you. Ah, no thank you. In this sea of pretence, one is expected to get their work done, on time.

Working from home, then?