Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Spy Quest: "Ingress for Kids"... It's Gonna be Big

There's a man out there... walks up Scotland's Streets, 
Been working on the "Ingress for Kids" 
Has been for 7 years. 
And he takes no lip of nobody because he's a bona fide Spy Guy 
And inspires kids to read
And he packs schools and shopping centres
And Children call him Agent Jones
But really he's David Goutcher
He never lets on 
I know because my kid thinks it's real
He let me know a secret and how big his AR game is gonna be
No idea what he's gonna  buy
Gonna deserve every penny 

The third last line of that little ditty isn't exactly true. Because I have explored the way that ideas roll out in 2013 and used Pokemon Go to draw these ideas out in practice... I saw from a mile off that when people say that "Spy Quest is an overnight success" in the not-too-distant future it's because of the hustle that's going on at the moment.

No one is more aware than I am that I've advocated for a few products and ideas that have not always panned out as I thought. With this in mind, the assessment in this post and others in this blog about SpyQuest are not made lightly.

Regarding some of these projects where they promised much (and where I invested as much as ten years of my time), it might be worth highlighting - whether an EdTech startup, educator-led movement or government led initiative like FELTAG - getting everything right is no easy feat.

In my last two posts I wonder about

  • The failure education reform initiatives like FELTAG, compare them with Udacity's success and the impact failed/"evolved" projects like FELTAG will have on young people's job prospects. 
  • How much I've learned from being involved in these projects when they have not worked out so well (and/or failed to live up to their early promise). Reading Zero to One helped assessing the lessons learnt.

I detail my experiences with Spy Quest and reference Peter Thiel's book "Zero to One" to highlight how and why:
Spy Quest... It's gonna be big!

Some EdTech Startup Lessons
So... an update from Angel List highlighted that Peter Thiel and Blake Masters book was at the top of a few must read book lists – so I got it. After reading it I found:

1)      How, why and where my ideas have value
2)      I have a better understanding of why things have been so tough
3)      How some of the projects and collaborations that “failed” were not uncommon
4)      How close I am to “Product Market Fit” with some of my ideas and
5)      Reading this awesome book has helped me figure out what I need to do next.

Thank you Peter and Blake!

“How much of what you know about business is shaped by mistaken reaction to past mistakes?”

Is one of the questions that is asked. I’m not sure that I’ve had that many mistaken reactions to past mistakes, but I sure have learnt from each and every mistake. I know that
  • I worked on an innovative project that had value, but the opportunity was wasted, because the Managing Director decided to take a slide down Jim Collins "5 Stages of Decline"
  •  I have given my time freely to a number of projects but that the culture wasn’t quite right.
  • Organizations that can clearly articulate their core values are in a far better place than most organizations... But I also know that a lot of people’s idea of core values = A cat poster
I value educators (and my!) time! I also know that my reputation is all I have. If I recommend a project that doesn’t pan out, then people may be less likely to look at any others.

However, getting this mix right is very difficult. How difficult? Well there seems to be 2 Unicorn Companies (A valuation of over $1 billion) in Scotland at the moment... But the seven companies that the "PayPal Mafia" went on to create at all worth $1 billion!

In the past I've written about tools that looked pretty useful. Today I am a lot more careful when it comes to the product AND the culture and team before recommending any product or ideas on this blog.

Some Personal Lessons and Experiences
When Tony Blair was banging on about “Things can Only Get Better” and David Cameron was championing “Aspirational Families” and the banks were giving 125% mortgages things were going quite well for us… I had taken some risks and chances that saw us going from minimum wage to "doing OK".

After working with what might be seen as the Del Boy of Scottish EdTech, I set my sights on collaborating with people who create great products – Major Tech companies and/or Silicon Valley Start ups - No easy task for a random EdTech sales guy!

Trying to achieve this has led to an alternative lifestyle – one that has led to plenty of scarcity and stress.

The choices made and the psychological price of entrepreneurship has led to asking some difficult questions as provider and parent.

What’s all this got to do with anything about Spy Quest? Well, EVERYTHING!

Product Market Fit... And Zombie Loyalists
Last June I met David Goutcher for the first time. I got The first Spy Quest book, Polybius, after we met and my youngest son soon became a fan - I soon followed - as I saw how the book and game brought reading to life and had a positive impact on his confidence.

Since last June David and I have kept in touch and I've pitched in as and when I could to assist with some of the projects he's been working on. I've written 3-4 posts in support of David's work, here are three reasons why I'm a fan:

1)     I’ve sat at my laptop trying to make ideas work with nothing more than an outdated laptop and my kids have seen no outward signs of any progress being made – Nor have I at times! 

However, I have been edging towards “Product Market Fit” (Slowly… but surely) and David has helped me to demonstrate the value of some of these ideas.

)      I have seen how David treats his fans. I’ve not read about any core values... I’ve seen him live the values that are important to him!

When a founders actions towards his fans remind you of Peter Shankman's Zombie Loyalists... you sure do sit up and take note!

3)     Last but by no means least, David has not only inspired my kids with his work... he has also helped me to demonstrate the value of what I’ve been working on to them too. Thank You David!

The mission that Agent Isaac went on in November is a day that Joy from Inside Out would call a “Core Memory”… I certainly won’t forget it in a hurry!!

The story that I told on this mission was one that’s told regularly in our house... but telling it on a mission with other children and someone my son looks up to sure did seem to make a difference!

Last month my oldest son came with me to a Scottish Community Manager Meetup where I presented on my experiences making the transition from sales to community management, which David also attended.

We traveled back with David and he re-iterated the importance of what I had been working on to him.
I’m sure we are not the only family that’s seen better times but find ourselves under a bit of stress. 

If David’s work can bring books and reading to life and inspire the children in one household, why can’t he do it for a lot more? The answer isn't only none... There is no reason he can't, it's also... That he does!

In Zero To One Peter Thiel highlights how hard it is to pick a winning investment... he also provides some fantastic insights and advice about the culture he established at PayPal.

Whether looking at the technology used, the impact on literacy, questioning is Spy Quest has achieved “product market fit,” looking at the organizational culture or just generally looking at the way he inspires kids because of the way he treats his young fans.

From what I’ve seen from David’s work over the last 6 months... Spy Quest looks like the real deal!

Spy Quest... It's Gonna be big! 

Monday, 8 January 2018

Start Up Graduation

Image result for zero to one
When and wherever possible I have explored what Silicon Valley and major tech companies do differently to the rest of the world. 

This post looks and how, after reading Peter Thiel’s Zero ToOne book, it feels like either a new chapter of my startup journey... but personal issues just might mean it's the end of the road.

When I wrote my EdTech report “Developing Relationships andDelivering Value” a big missing piece of these ideas was the concept of “Social Proof”

"No leader can hope to persuade, regularly and single handedly, all the members of the group. A forceful leader can reasonably expect, however, to persuade some sizable portion of group members. Then the raw information that a substantial number of group members has been convinced can, by itself, convince the rest. Thus the most influential leaders are those who know how to arrange group conditions to allow the principle of social proof to work maximally in their favour" Robert Cialdini

The report above was written in 2013 and was the result of some advice that I was given at one of Bill Aulet’s workshops and an unconventional career journey which started in 2010. 

Seven years later, and after reading Zero to One, (A book that stems from Blake Masters notes on a Stanford course about Startups) it feels like something of a graduation.

What did I know about Peter Thiel before reading this book? From the top of my head... I could tell you three things about him:

1)  That he takes culture seriously as I recalled reading about his advice to the AirBnB founders “Don’t F**K Up the Culture

2)   That he was involved with Silicon Valley Venture Capital

3)  That he was a slightly controversial figure in the media and social media these days as he was one of the few Silicon Valley types who publicly supported Donald Trump.

If I thought hard then I might have been able to recall that he founded PayPal.

Like Bill Aulet, Thiel appears to be another Silicon Valley guru who feels that Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast.

You don't ignore advice like this! So, for the last few years, I have just pitched in and helped out with any project where the culture looked promising.

This has included assisting EdShelf with their Kickstarter, supporting various EdChats, being an advocate of the Scottish Independence Referendum (Based 100% on the culture and 0% on the politics that wrecked the potential of change because of the cultural conditions), organizing one of the Digital Citizenship Summits, being an active volunteer of a Silicon Valley for a social enterprise network and a number of research and data curation projects.

Reading Richie Norton’s “Resumes are Dead… and what to do about it” helped to demonstrate that my ideas around “Job Hunting” Vs “Job Fishing” and the advice of

"Do the job you want to have before you get it" 

Helped me to see that I was not entirely insane because of my approach to work.

Reading Chapter 8) Secrets 9) Foundations 10) The Mechanics of Mafia 11) If You Built It, Will They Come? of Zero to One has helped to validate my ideas and methods further… and help me see that I’m most definitely on the right track.

Previously I’ve felt that the struggle - attempts to be understood and/or the unfairness of being vilified when trying to good work extremely difficult and frustrating.(especially when you compare it with the good and the greats’ questionable attempts....Pick a number! Gazelle, FELTAG, the fantastic culture of #IndyRef, Developing the Youth Workforce, Addressing the Attainment Gap).

Today, as well as seeing enough similarities in Zero To One in the advice that other successful entrepreneurs, just like discovering the value of "Social Proof" after writing my EdTech report, there are a few other pieces of the jigsaw that I have been able to add to the startup the puzzle.

I can also see that the mistakes made were not "mistakes" but were simply typical learning experiences that many a (more experienced) entrepreneur has fallen foul of as well.

For example, I’ve seen first hand how 'Thiel’s Law' of 

“A startup messed up at its foundation cannot be fixed” 

By working on a project where the two founders 

“Developed irreconcilable differences, where the company was the victim”  

In addition to this the core values were nothing more than a cat poster!

Image result for cat poster believe

How did these founders meet? Pretty much the way that Peter Thiel and Blake Masters describe when detailing a cautionary tale about how one of Thiel's partners found a co-founder:

"Met at a networking event, talked for a while, and decided to start a company together. That's no better than marrying the first person you meet at the slot machines in Vegas: You might hit the jackpot, but it probably won't work"

I have also experienced the kind of workplace that Thiel describes regarding his work at a law firm

“The relationships between [the partners at The law firm Thiel worked at] were oddly thin. They spent all day together, but few of them seemed to have much to say to each other outside the office. Why work with a group of people who don’t even like each other? Many seem to think it’s a sacrifice necessary for making money. But taking a merely professional view of the workplace, in which free agents check in and out on a transactional basis, is worse than cold: it’s not even rational" 

Just walk around Glasgow at clocking off time and/or listen to how much people moan about their work on the way home from work or in the coffee shop at lunch time to hear how many people are not investing their time well. Based on my own experience I could not agree more with the following statements:

"Since time is your most valuable asset, it’s odd to spend it working with people who don’t envision any long term future together" 

"If you can’t count durable relationships among the fruits of your time at work, you haven’t invested your time well"

"Promise what no others can: The opportunity to do irreplaceable work on a unique problem alongside great people"

Thiel and Masters book also touch on themes from the fantastic Tribal Leadership...There are simply too many successful people with similar experiences for this stuff not to matter if you want to participate in meaningful work!

Tribal Leadership

I’ve no idea what the short term future holds, perhaps it will be checking in and out on a worse than cold transactional basis doing a bit of cold calling, in a cold environment with people who don’t have much to say to one another.

But I feel I know the mechanics of what’s needed and have developed the tools to build a solid foundation and/or know what to look for in new opportunities in work that might make a difference to young people and have the potential to be a game changing stage 5 tribe and be a part of a great team doing great work.

So even if the best short term options are to join the 4% of the Scottish workforce in call centres before these jobs are replaced by AI and chatbots.

I can either keep an eye out for the company that's achieved "Product Market Fit" and has the culture to match...or startup on my own.

Regardless I now know that I've successfully re-skilled in the way that I had hoped.

The start of the post on the following link details what I set out to do when I chose to gave up my most valuable asset, my time, for free: How I Met Your Awesomeness, but like the way Thiel puts it

"Promise members of your team what no others can: The opportunity to do irreplaceable work on a unique problem alongside great people"

To quote Rands hero/anti-hero: "Offer me this and you can have anything I've got to give"

A Quick Word on Thiel and Trump
Thiel talks about how good companies have some secret sauce and, after reading Zero to One, I can’t help but wonder why others who have read the book and the views expressed can’t see how this Silicon Valley VC’s support of Trump isn’t 100% inspired!

At the end of Zero To One there is a chapter called “The Founders Paradox” which talks about how founders can fluctuate from the villains of the peace to hero worship (And back again).

I just don’t understand how others can’t see how, where, why and when Thiel and his support of Trump will be seen as a stroke of genius… and how one day we’ll be celebrating and thanking him for the 0 to 1 master stroke.

Friday, 5 January 2018

DYW... Digital Consumers?... Or Digital Creators? #AppsThatMatter

My attempts to get noticed and collaborate with the kind of tech companies who make a difference has meant that I've had a worrisome and stressful Christmas.

As I reflect on the personal risks and opportunities that lie ahead for me and my kids, I have also had a wider (and deep!) concern about whether or not Scotland is developing a disposable, commoditised workforce and nation of digital consumers.

Fortunately in the New Year, through projects like #AppsThatMatter, I wonder if projects like this could go a long way to Developing the Youth Workforce to be Digital Creators

I'm sure some readers will point to some of the fantastic work that the political classes and their cronies do.

All I can say to this is that in 2014 the then FE Minister launched the FELTAG agenda with fine and inspiring oratory like "It's FELTAG Friday... Rocket Boosters on!" and how 50% of all FE College course work would be available online by 2017, with all course material by 2020. As I highlighted at the time Huston We Have a Problem

As these worthy goals should be achieved by now, I checked in on the initiative. Where is this agenda today? No mention of how many colleges have 50% of their course material online but plenty about how "FELTAG has Evolved" and the documents I read are all about "The Spirit of FELTAG" What is this? Some kind of modern day Dickensian novel!

Even if I was a fan of "The Evolved Spirit of FELTAG" when you look at the tools that are mentioned about #FELTAG on social media, they are predominantly tools that were created in other countries, typically Silicon Valley... As well as a potential disrupter in this space in the not too distant future: Udacity*.

If you care to take a look at my Creatively Disrupt post from 2014 and then check out Udacity* progress since 2014 you will see that ALL of their Nanodegree course material is online. What I suggested would happen at the start of the project has happened.

*Work in FE? Curious about why Udacity achieved what FELTAG did not within the same time frame? See extract at the end of this post.

As usual, I find myself asking at what point are these comments welcome?
At the start when they are accused of dampening the mood... and are ignored?
In the middle when they are dismissed out of hand... and seen as being meddlesome?
Highlighting this now when the observation prove to be right... it comes across as smug and "I told you so?"

I've never been able to figure this one out! I just wish I had a voice... Not to mention the wage that some of these incompetent experts get for doing ineffective work!!

I might not know much, but one thing I'm certain of is that reform ain't gonna come from Holyrood or Westminster... they simply don't care about anything except themselves and/or they are a pretty incompetent bunch. Disagree? I have one word for you: Brexit.

In 2015 I heard about the Developing the Youth Workforce a shiny new plan by the Scottish Government as well as the calls for more collaboration amongst Scottish Educators at the 2015 Scottish learning Festival...I highlighted the same kind of concerns as I did with Gazelle and FELTAG.

The rest of this post considers the Scottish Government's "Developing the Youth Workforce" and "Addressing the Attainment Gap" with my own experiences and how, why, where and when this has been playing on my mind over the Christmas break.

3rd November 2017
Two months ago I asked a group of 5 year old School Children who wanted to make XBox Games or Ipad Apps when they were older, almost all the hands in the room went up.

1st December 2017

A month ago I had Skype calls with Microsoft's "Skype for Good" lead. The next day I presented my experiences going from sales to community management at Microsoft's offices.

My oldest son, who is considering a career in Tech, was involved with both the Skype call and the #Cmgr meetup.

At the meetup Lithium's Chief Data Scientist told us about the advantages of differentiating your product and the dangers of commoditisation

"As the market becomes more competitive, many products and services are being commoditized, where they become indistinguishable in the consumers’ eyes except their price. Therefore, companies engage in price wars constantly to stay competitive. This squeezes the profit margin of brands and threatens their business. Consequently, brands are struggling to differentiate in order to avert the commoditization of their products/services"

I could not help but see large sections of the Scottish Workforce in this commoditisation perspective... all you need to do is check any job board to see how uninspiring the opportunities are. Alternatively look at the fact that 4% of the Scottish workforce are in call centers... about to be replaced by chat bots? Or jobs under threat from cheaper offers from call centres in India?

13th December 2017
At Christmas I was (and still am!) looking for work.On the 13th December I succeeded with this... Erm kind of!

I had the most bizarre recruitment process by an agency for a job - complete with drugs test?! That was a first! Nothing says "We have a great culture and we trust our employees" than the introductory drugs test the minute you get in the door - Their client was a well known Silicon Valley based online retailer.

After some rather questionable practices I was all signed up and was told to get on a bus that leaves City Chambers at 6:30pm and will be dropped off at Bathgate.

I would then do a job that bots will do in 12 months time ... put some boxes in delivery vans from 8pm to 4am (Or for a shorter/longer duration with no say in the matter)

However... when myself and 5 others get there we were told that they had all the people they needed for Christmas, so we sat around until travel could be arranged. I got home at 1 am and felt very much like a commodity!

21st December 2017
Whether standing in a long queue for the games my kids wanted for Christmas, or waiting for packages from the retailer that I had thought had hired me but hadn't... I could not get some of these recent events out of my head.

1) The number of hands that went up when I asked a group of 5 year olds "Who wants to make XBox Games?"

2) Michael Wu's presentation and how things just become commoditised when there is no differentiation

3) My fruitless years of either trying to make a difference and/or finding meaningful work in Scotland with very little support.

4) How great politicians are with their fine speeches... but how useless they are with implementing the ideas and, most importantly

5) Wondering how many consumers there are of these tech toys in Scotland (Whether games consoles, laptops, phones or the games and apps that people play on them) Vs how many Scots worked on creating any of these games and products?

A Nation of Digital Consumers?
I am genuinely interested in this last question. Who has the stats re: number of Scots consuming all these Silicon Valley based must have tech products Vs the number of Scots involved in creating them?

This is an important point because the consumption of tech is only going to go up in direct relation to the commoditised jobs going down... if we are not teaching creators, what are the job prospects going to look like for our young people?

An extremely important follow up to this line of enquiry is...Just like Artist Taxi Driver's video at Christmas

"Who is there that cares about this stuff any more?"

I've seen the kind of people involved in FELTAG at the start... all the "Look at me, look at me" stuff then they get their Klingon Cloaking devices on if/when you highlight that you tried to raise the alarm.

But no one seems to care when they fail to deliver... there's zero accountability and/or only one or two self interested individuals are the main beneficiaries of these grand initiatives...They've climbed the greasy pole to land their next gig.

It was not until 2016 that I had an appreciation about how and why this happens... and discovered that it happens to the most innovative companies who have most stringent recruitment practices

"One of the biggest lessons I've learned over the years is that the business world (and the world itself) is filled with poseurs. These people are quite clever at figuring out what you want them to say, and then saying it exactly the way you want to hear it. I first learned about the omnipresence of phonies during the early days of Atari. The custom chip business was very difficult and time consuming. and because it could take at least a year to get it working, a whole cadre of people posing as chip designers would always find ways to leave the company or get fired before the chip ever worked. Steve Jobs once told me that there were many employees at Apple who never got a single chip working. I told him it was the same at Atari. These people were able to go from job to job to job, doing something that seemed creative but yielding zero output"
Nolan Bushnall, Finding the Next Steve Jobs

The answer to the question: Who is there that cares? 

It is not with the people who stand up and give fine speeches but yeild zero output. It's with the people who have "Boots on the Ground" "Skin in the game" or however you want to phrase people with commitmentHow This Teacher Noticed A Problem In Her Classroom And Built A Company To Solve It

I thought that my challenges in looking for work in Community Management in Education Technology was because there were few opportunities in Scotland and/or because this was a bit of a niche market.

However... go take a look at how many Tech jobs there are in Scotland. It sure ain't setting the heather on fire! It's far from "Braw" at least from what I can see at the start of this year of young people.

Amazon is an amazingly innovative company but it would appear that the best Scotland can here is warehouse staff and delivery drivers... There's no differentiation so these people are commodities, that is until the bots replace them I guess?

IBM can get bought over and a Scottish manufacturing plant can be moved to China without any hesitation?

So what's going on here then? Who's at fault? The company for looking after shareholders interests? The government for not ensuring that the workforce was not creative enough so the site got expanded instead of closed? Educators for not being relevant to local employers needs?

"If you want to create and capture lasting value, don't build an undifferetiated commodity business" Zero to One

I don't know the answer to this, what I do know is that my kids have an interest in careers in technology but the opportunities don't look as good as they seem elsewhere... Who is it in Scotland that will fix this in the way that Fred Terman did in the 1930s?

Fred Terman was an educator and, as the article highlights, is the Father of Silicon Valley, educators are also more trusted than our politicians... so there's a rather serious precedent for Educators being the catalyst for changing the economic and job prospects of their students.

Here what a Stanford Professor, Sebastian Thrun, is doing today to help with some of these issues

Can Proactive Reskilling Today Prevent Job Loss in the Future

Outside of Tech and regardless of the metric you use the World of Work in Scotland is rather underwhelming... and I'm not sure I'd be too reliant on that #GoDo financial institution RBS given their "Too-big-too-fail... but can't-seem-to-run-at-a-profit-for-nine-years-and-counting-despite-money-being-their-core-business" record.

Unicorn companies 
Two that I could see - Skyscanner and Fanduel.

Angel List

Never more than a handful of startups hiring at any one time on this popular startup platform. What about some of the popular entrepreneurial initiatives in Scotland, I hear you cry? I agree with Andrew Mitchell Too much Kool Aid as he highlights:

"The average turnover (£23,129 per company pa) and investment (£22,279 per company pa) is not so good"

Organisational Culture

The majority of Scottish jobs on Glassdoor have ratings of 2-3 stars and the company Head Office is not in Scotland. Only one company, Shuh, featured as a Glassdoor top UK companies in 2017 who have their Head Office in Scotland.

And of the tech jobs that there are - or even if there was an abundance of them - who would get those jobs?

Let's just say, if the status quo continues, I look forward to seeing the attainment gap being addressed as kids from Easterhouse and Drumchapel vie for the same opportunities as the privileged St Andrew's University students.

You only need to compare the pathetic offering of the New Enterprise Allowance and the people who administer it with the support that the "Better Classes" get (Man! The story I could tell about the NEA "Workshop" I attended! It would be hilarious... if it wasn't such a serious issue!)

So my thoughts and experiences with these issues where as bright as the Scottish weather... That was until.

Happy New Year! #AppsThatMatter
As a fan of Adam Grant's work I do what I can to encourage a culture of giving.

This includes reaching out to people in the New Year to ask if I might be able to do them a quick "5 Minute Favor" this is an article that is also part of my core values.

The reaction when I ask people if I can help never ceases to amaze me! But as one very good friend tells me when we share our battle scars from all the "takers" and "fakers" that we've encounter when I ask why we keep plodding on like this in such a difficult space:

"Because there are good guys out there"

One of those good guys appears to be MAD Learn and they have a super exciting initiative which, just like Bloodhound's Education program, could go a long way in inspiring a young creator or two... and help their ideas get funded.

This is not the first time that MAD Learn has been a bright spot, nor am I surprised to be writing about their work again!!

The company staff have classroom experience and have co-created with educators ever since they started. Their engagement at ISTE stood out amongst all the exhibitors as a result of this kind of co-creation and collaboration:

I would encourage anyone in my network and anyone reading this to check out MAD Learn's Mad About Mattering initiative where students can collaborate with young people around the world to create #AppsThatMatter

Are you MAD About Mattering?
MAD Learns initiative could not have a better name as far as this project is concerned.
  • I'm MAD about what matters!
  • I'm MAD about what will matter to my kids! 
  • I'm MAD about the missed opportunity FE had with the 2014 version of FELTAG 
  • I'm MAD about what seems like the now inevitable job cuts to the FE sector as new models could see admissions decline
  • I'm MAD that any tech opportunities will go to the same cultural advantage (family background) that Professor Lewis Termin identified in children with high IQs in the 1920s... This will be perpetuated and built upon with any Tech opportunities, regardless of whatever the Attainment Gap (No progress from what I saw in the last update on the program) thinks it is going to achieve 
  • I've given up with being MAD at the political classes... I simply don't rate them! (If you read Will Blacks Psychopathic Cultures you might find yourself thinking, like I do and that they are the cause of a lot of the problems. They most 100% definitely do NOT appear to the source of many of the solutions!)
FELTAG Vs Udacity - Zero to One
The day after publishing this post I got Peter Theil and Blake Master book "Zero to One" which is a far better way of articulating my views three years ago (And is a far more credible source too) 

"New technology tends to come from new ventures - startups. From the Founding Fathers in politics to the Royal Society in science to Fairchild's "Traitorous eight" in business, small groups of people bound together by a sense of mission have changed the world for the better. The easiest explanation for this is negative: it's hard to develop new things in big organisations, and it's even harder to do by yourself. Bureacratic hierarchies move slowly, and entrenched interests shy away from risk. In the most dysfunctional organisations, signaling that work being done becomes a better strategy for career advancement than actually doing work (If this describes your company, you should quit now). At the other extreme, a lone genius might create a classic work of art or literature, but could never create an entire industry. Startups operate on the principle that you need to work with other people to get stuff done, but you also need to stay small enough so that you actually can.

Positively defined, a startup is the largest group of people you can convince of a plan to build a different future. A new company's most important strength is new thinking: even more important than nimbleness, small size affords space to think... That is what a startup has to do: question received ideas and rethink business from scratch"

Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Alchemist

While I read an awful I don't tend to read all that many novels and fiction books. Two books that I revisit again and again are The Fountainhead and The Alchemist.

I've just finished reading The Alchemist again and while the start of the book intrigued me at the start of my own personal journey in my career with education and EdTech... It's the end of the book that spoke to me the most as I come to the end of another challenging chapter (one where I now realise I was a fool to ever attempt and that failure was always going to be the outcome... Oh! The benefit of hindsight! Lol) 

This will now be swapped with a new set of uncertainties. *Sigh!* 

The rest of this post includes a few extracts of The Alchemist.

"That's why I want you to continue toward your goal. If you have to wait until the war is over, then wait. But if you have to go before then, go on in pursuit of your dream. The dunes are changed by the wind, but the desert never changes... If I really am part of your dream, you'll comeback to me one day" Fatima to Santiago

"This is the first phase f the job... I have to separate out the sulfur. To do that successfully, I must have no fear of failure. It was my fear of failure that first kept me from attempting the Master Work. Now, I'm beginning what I could have started ten years ago. But I'm happy at least that I didn't wait twenty years" Aspiring Alchemist to Santiago

"Then, one day, the oldest seer he had ever sought out had asked the camel driver was so interested in the future.
"Well... so I can do things," he responded.
"And so I can change those things that I don't want to happen"
"But then they wouldn't be part of your future" the Seer had said.
"Well, maybe I just want to know the future so I can prepare myself for what's coming"
"If good things are coming, they will be a pleasant surprise" said the seer. "If bad things are, and you know in advance, you will suffer greatly before they ever occur"
...The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, what comes later will be better...

"Santiago had succeeded in reaching through to the Soul of the World, and now the price for having doe so might be his life. It was a frightening bet. But he had been making risky bets ever since the day he had sold his sheep to pursue his destiny. And, as the camel driver had said, to die tomorrow was no worse than dying on any other day."

The stranger withdrew his sword from the boy's forehead, and the boy felt immensley relieved.
"What is a stranger doing in a strange land?" 
"I am following my destiny. It's not something you'd understand"
"I had to test your courage" the stranger said. "Courage is the quality most essential to understanding the Language of the World"
...The Boy had met the Alchemist.

"Sometimes the boy was frightened by the idea that he might not find his treasure, or that he might die in the desert. At other times he was satisfied: he had found love and riches"
..."Naturally your heart is afraid that, in pursuing your dream, you might lose everything you've won."

"Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him... Unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them - the path to their destinies and happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place."

"What you still need to know is this: before a dream can be realised, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we've learned as we've moved toward that dream. That's the point at which most people give up. It's at that point at which... one dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon. Every search begins with beggingers luck. And every search ends with the victor's being severely tested"
The boy remembered the old proverb that the darkest hour of the night came just before the dawn.

"When you possess great treasure within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed"

"Your money saved us for three days. It's not often that money saves a person's life"

"If a person is living out his destiny, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: The fear of failure.
"I'm not afraid of failing. It's just that I don't know how to turn myself into the wind"
"Well you'll have to learn: Your life depends on it"
"But what if I can't"
""Then you'll die in the midst of trying to realise your destiny. That's a lot better than dying like millions of other people, who never knew what their destinies were" (NB good time to highlight Lost in the Ghetto?)
"But don't worry" the alchemist continued. "Usually the threat of death makes people a lot more aware of their lives"

"That's what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too"

"I believe in our proverbs. There's one that says 'Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time"

"In ancient Rome, at the time of Emperor Tiberius, there lived a good man who had two sons. One was in the military, and had been sent to the most distant regions of the empire. The other son was a poet, and delighted all of Rome with his beautiful verses.  
...The father died as he tried to save a child who was about to be crushed by the wheels of a chariot. Since he had lived his life in a manner that was correct and fair, he went directly to heaven... "You were always a good man. You lived your life in a loving way, and died with dignity. I can now grant you any wish you desire.
"Life was good to me... I don't want anything for myself. But any father would be proud of the fame achieved by one whom he had cared for as a child, and educated as he grew up"

"You're not going to die. You'll live, and you'll learn that a man shouldn't be so stupid. Two years ago, right here on this spot, I had a recurrent dream, too. I dreamed that I should travel to the fields of Spain and look for a ruin church where shepherds and their sheep slept. In my dream, there was a sycamore growing out of the ruins of the sacristy, and I was told that, if I dug at the roots of the sycamore, I would find hidden treasure. But I'm not so stupid as to cross an entire desert just because of a recurrent dream"

Those are the sections that spoke to me as I re-read the book this time round.

Seems as good a place to close one chapter... hope the next one is a little less challenging!

To those who continue to support me on the journey (You know who you are!) You have my gratitude, friendship and support any time and with anything that you do. 

To all the change makers and Pirates out there... I'll repeat the last piece of advice from Bill Aulet's Entrepreneurial Marketing workshop which I attended in 2010... "Don't let the bastards get you down"

Saturday, 18 November 2017

What If... You Don't Have a Voice? Keep Telling Your Story!

Last night I joined a webinar hosted by Mark Guay with Tim MacDonald on the topic of "How to Build a Life with Impact" one of the topics Tim talked about was the importance of telling your story and 

"Letting the world feel your heartbeat."

I've taken quite a few risks and an unconventional approach with trying to re-skill from sales to Community Management, and I can't say that it's felt like my voice and ideas have always been heard. 

Given that there have been some fantastic collaborations and interesting events in the last few weeks (as well as some exciting opportunities appearing on the horizon!) I thought it would be a good time to stop and reflect on "My Story"    

This time 2 weeks ago I had just finished a Spy Quest Mission to surprise the DigCitSummit organisers who had a Skype call with Westquarter Primary School.

This time last year this event was in Sunny Silicon Valley at Twitter HQ for the 2nd annual Digital Citizenship Summit. 

Two years ago I had my first Skype call with the DigCitSummit organisers and was organising a Thunderclap and reaching out to my contacts trying to create some buzz and managing over 100 volunteers to get the first international #DigCitSummit organised within 2 months on a zero budget.

In 2015 I understand that a Skype call also took place with the Summit Co-Founders and Twitter executives after the Thunderclap went out and they asked, “Who is William Jenkins?”

I'm someone who's had the same ideas since 2010 and have tried to make them work for 7 years (And counting).

Last night Tim MacDonald told some some stories about living a life of impact, the difference between rational and irrational fear, telling stories and community building. During the session I asked:

What if you feel that you have a story to tell, but no one hears your voice?

The advice given in the reply?

Keep telling it!

I had no digital footprint until UK Head of Education at Microsoft told me 

“Social media comes with the job today” 

So I checked it out and got connected. An invaluable resource with getting social was the #Cmgrhangout that Tim established.  

Last night Tim told some fun stories about public speaking and live streaming for the first time and how cringe worthy he felt some early talks were... and how no one likes doing these things to start with. It reminded me of the call I made during this years' DigCitSummit at Mrs Jelland's class (@ElliePrimary1).

I started to blog because he felt so sure that I had a message of value to deliver that I hit the “Publish” button with a level of anxiety that I’ll never forget. 

The same can be said of the call at Westquarter Primary two weeks ago, I got the chance to tell a story to the audience that I had wanted to for some time now: A Nervous Call with a Connected Educator

I have been trying to find ways to implement these ideas but have all but given up trying to explain some of them. Sure, I’ll start to explain the ideas (Whether in this blog or in meetings) but can either get blank looks or resistance. I know that look by now so I just stop the conversation just say:

“I’m not gonna tell you, I’ll show you”

The bizarre thing with this is, if I try to explain the exact same ideas in exactly the same way 12 months later these ideas are not only accepted but are obvious... Go figure?!

I am NOT an early adopter, so have an appreciation about how people with concerns and apprehension feels. 

I should perhaps rephrase that, I am only an early user if I'm convinced that the tech (AND culture!) have value in order for me to reach out to people in my network. 

I am fully aware how busy educators are and how many tools are out there that are underwhelming... and I never take educators time for granted.   

Like my first Skype call, my first post was a little garbled
...but I felt I had a story to tell 
I felt that the SNP and the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum came close to achieving this… and Twitter played a huge role with this. 

A year later I connected with the Digital Citizenship Summit organisers after the first event took place. The #DigCitSummitUK “Pirates” put me forward for the Best New Community Manager CMAD award.

When I had that first call with the event organisers one of my first statements was:

“I’ll help on one condition… that the event takes place in Scotland, ideally in Falkirk and preferably at Larbert High School”
The organisers agreed to this (But I think they wondered what all the fuss was about with the insistence on this location), unfortunately, we had to move the event so it was closer to BETT.

Earlier in the summer I met SpyQuest author, David Goutcher and we discussed all things Pokemon Go. In a follow up meeting David mentioned in passing he was going to the inaugural Falkirk Story Festival and that he would be visiting some schools before then.

The conversation continued and the end of the second meeting I said “I think I can help,” I think David thought I meant with US educators because I was working on data for a Pokemon Go follow up. 

But I saw the Falkirk event as an opportunity to further develop what was started a couple of years ago. 

I saw what would happen at Falkirk because I’d been working on the same ideas since Chris van der Kuyls’ 2015 Scottish Learning Festival where there was a call for educators to collaborate more. 

I saw the potential in this because I’d listened to LI Paper's Community Manager, Kelly Hungerford, and stayed up at 1 am local time to listen and learn to and learn from educators across the pond

This was all there in 2015. I knew what the opportunity was and what would probably happen and, as I had predicted… my voice wasn’t heard: EdTech is Tough – Welcome to Scotland

At the third annual #DigCitSummit I tried to finish what was started. I updated my map of Scottish Schools on Twitter and am also working on a few things that will take place between now and the Skypeathon... These projects should benefit Twitter and Skype. 

And why exactly is it that I'm a fan of these tools? Because I heard at the 2011/12 World Ecomonic Forum that 
"In times of uncertainty, it's not leaders that are needed, it's networkers"

As this is where ideas come from (a message that was delivered at ISTE2013), which educator perhaps didn’t bottle up and take back home with us… But I did (And I wasn’t even there! #NotAtISTE), but my main tools for networking have been Twitter and Skype. Many of the projects I've worked on would not have been possible without them.

Tim and Mark told the importance of stories that had impact, context and empowered and gave some examples with Tim's posts about "No Kid Hungry."

In 2013 I read an article called “This will be the #1 Business Skill of the Next 5 years,” before this I had read Made to Stick a recommendation from Bill Aulet. 

I tried to tell the same story through this

I have “Stories” in in my Twitter handle…  So I never forget the importance of telling a good story, people didn’t hear this story so I tried again using some really memorable and appealing characters. 

I only read this article recently but I sure can agree with the top lesson that Oracle’s John Able learnt from all his projects

“Agree the end before the beginning; this is one of the biggest lessons I learned. Agree the outcome with the business community and make sure everyone has a good understanding of the expected outcome” John Able, 26 years, 300+ projects and 5 key lessons learned

This particular chapter started with Chris van der Kuyl's keynote at the Scottish Learning Festival and included a Skype call with a connected educator two years ago and two weeks ago. 

There were calls for Scottish educators to collaborate more and the aim of the DigCitSummits' on that first call was to encourage students to act locally and connect globally, I hope that I helped with this story too.

I feel that my voice and ideas still struggles to be heard but I'll take Tim's advice and will keep trying to tell it and like many of his videos, webinars and advice his magnets example will stay with me for a long time.

I will be having some interesting conversations about work as a Community Manager early next week, conversations that would not be possible without the advice of Tim, the #Cmgr community and a few others.

I'm so grateful to each and every person that's been part of my story.

“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” Alan Turing. A message I saw regularly through collaborating with Declara last year.

Please support Tim and his work with #NoKidHungry during #GivingTuesday this year.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Why I wasn't at School Today - I Went to Utah

Seen TES Scotland this Week? See Mrs Jelland's work on P9?
Follow the Leader by clicking this Link to see
Oh The Places You'll Go... and where we went on Friday
My Dad was told by DWP (Don't know who that is... But he doesn't like them very much!)
"That a blog post is not a job search" 

On Thursday night I was called upon for a Spy Quest mission and went on a Pirate Adventure with my dad.

This is my first Dog post? Oh blog post... But my Dad is helping with it (Like a lot of parents do with their kids homework... He's helping A LOT! You should see some of the homework that people bring in!). 

As you will see I'm a Spy Guy Pirate Pig now (It's like The Simpson's Spidey Pig except better!) and I wonder if a blog post is the same as a school note to say... 

Why I wasn't at school today.

Image result for why join the navy when you can be a pirate

If it isn't good enough for a note then maybe I can use it for my reading passport instead... I got to meet my favourite author and my role model... in a way that REALLY brought the book to life! 

Wonder if my Dad will get a good write up too...
Your Why I Wasn't at School Today note "Could do better" (*Sigh*) 
19:30 - Skype Message from Agent Jones
Isaac I may need you're help with a mission. Stand by for further instructions.

08:00 - Do we get ready for school? Do we stay off? Should we phone? If we phone what do we say? Do we tell the truth... we're waiting to go on a Spy Quest mission? Or do we tell a lie? Agent Jones says that we need to be kind... Maybe best to say nothing.  We'll send a note on Monday... 

"Today we'll turn Pirate"  


10:30 - Message from Agent Jones
It's a #Skypeathon Sprint to the Train to make our International Connection

Your mission should you choose to accept it... meet me at Westquarter Primary School at 13:30.

Dad looks at his watch and sees that it's 11:30 and says

"Do we accept? If we do we need to go now!"

Image result for spy quest agent jones

11:35 We're Off and Away
(Agents: Note the Time Here. This is WHY we synchronize watches. My Dad's a Dumb Nugget!)

I'm quite nervous and say no to start with but then
"I Think I Can! I Think I Can! I Think I Can!" 

He grabs a bag that he packed, writes down the instructions and we go. On the bus we talk about Sams adventure and try to think like a Spy Kid

11:50 Should We Turn Left or Right?
We need to go to the library to print a map and some other things. But the library is closed. Must be Oblivion says my Dad. 

"Let's just get on the train so we can get to Agent Jones... We're vulnerable until we get there"

11:55 Look Up and Down Streets
The first entrance to the train station is closed. So is the second. 

"Oblivion must know that there is a mission on today, so is closing the city's stations. Let's get on the train before they close all the stations in the city!"  

I spot the destination on the board quickly and we jump on the train.

Once aboard he wonders how many other agents will make it to see Ron Day Vue? Another agent, maybe? 

11:58 You'll Meet Many Strange Birds (A Tweeting ;))
My Dad takes things out of his bag and does something he never normally does... he tells me about his world of work. 

He tells me about some guy that makes EdShelfs (@MikeLeeOrg) and another who build an #EdTechBridge (@Mr_Isaacs) and Stand Bridges (@Stanbridge...Dad says he made ALL the difference for him and helped top up his "Think I Can" powers) 

He tells me about about some #DigCitSummit Pirates and a box that's been on the shelf for a while but hasn't been taken out the box. 

It's a sextrument (Sextant) and it helps pirates and adventurer's like Shackleton to help them if they ever get lost or a bit stuck... and to help them stay the course "By Endurance we Conquer" he says was Shackleton's family motto... and Shackleton liked to play games like I do.

“Some people say it is wrong to regard life as a (SpyQuest) game; I don't think so, life to me means the greatest of all (SpyQuest) games. The danger lies in treating it as a trivial (SpyQuest) game, a (SpyQuest) game to be taken lightly, and a (SpyQuest) game in which the rules don't matter much.

The rules matter a great deal. The game has to be played fairly, or it is no game at all. And even to win the 
(SpyQuest) game is not the chief end. The chief end is to win it honourably and splendidly. To this chief end several things are necessary. Loyalty is one. Discipline is another. Unselfishness is another. Courage is another. Optimism is another. And chivalry is another.” Earnest Shackleton... But with some (SpyQuest) subliminal messages in there. Did you spot them? Lol ;)

He also tells me about a boy I'm going to meet. His name is Curran and his mum has been training him to be a SpyQuest Agent too.

It was him that wrote to Santa to tell him we didn't have much money but knew I wanted a tablet even though my mum said no, so didn't put it on the list. THANK YOU Curran!

I hope I will be a kind kid

If you Skype 5,000 Miles... You never know who will end up at your door!Like the video?
You might like it EVEN MORE on Twitter
Agent Curran is going to ask the class if their teddy Ellie can go on a SpyQuest Digital Citizenship Mission and I've to get her and take her back with me and Agent Jones.

Then for the rest of the journey Dad does what he was asked for the mission, writes a note for Mrs Jelland...while I use my observation skills to look out for the right stop, we're going to Poland!... Or was it Polmont?

12:20 The Waiting Place (Did I Tell you my Dad's a Dumb Nugget?)

We arrive at the school and go to reception. A friendly boy says hello and asks what we are doing there I look at my Dad and say 
"Can I show him?" 

He nods. I unzip my coat and say 

"I'm a Secret Agent on a SpyQuest Mission" 

...Because that's How it Works, Curran. When you have a Diamond Network
The boy is friendly. My dad takes two Spy Quest books out his bag and says would you like to borrow these. He looks at them and says 

"Yes please!" 

I hope he becomes an agent too.

Dad's a Dumb Nugget... Epic Fail! The lady at the schools says 

"Do you know your an hour early?" 

My Dad looks at hid watch and says 

"Oh I forgot to turn my watch back...last week. I just looked at my watch and we rushed out" 

He says that's just like the film I was in with Obi Wan (for a second or two)... But I've not seen the film yet yet. 
"We'll come back in 30 mins, but could we use a computer when we get back" 

We were told ONLY to use Mrs Jelland's computer because it had been checked for Oblivion's spy gadgets.

12:30 It's Better Out there in the Wide Open Air
We have the best play in the grass kicking leaves about and having sword fights. No one would ever know that we were SpyQuest Agents on a mission to recruit more agents!

"See kids really DO make the best Spy Guys, who'd have thought we were on a mission at this very second? We're just having a laugh in the leaves" 

Says Dad 
"We're taking a leave of absence" 

He says with a laugh.I don't get what's funny. My Dad's a Dumb Nugget!

13:00 In a Slump... By the Computer. Working. Again!

We go back to the school and my Dad types something on the friendly teachers computer. He takes the sextrument out of his bag and says 

"Why don't you try to figure this out while I write this note"

Dad prints the story off and gives it to Mrs Jelland and say's this is what I'm going to say, Mrs Jelland must have liked it because after she read it she said she was going to get an iPad to record it... Or maybe it was so lame that she thought it would go viral (That's more like it! Did I mention my Dad's a Dumb Nugget?)

13:30 Oh The Places You'll Go!

Dad goes out because the class is going to say hello and sing a song then surprise her. I stay with Mrs Jelland's class.We sing I would Skype 500 Miles. Then my Dad comes in.

The people on Skype get a big surprise when she sees it's my Dad, but he looks quite nervous. He tells a story that we hear a lot of nights at bed time (But not all because sometimes he forgets because he's working... Maybe that's Oblivion again though using Lycortas or something?), he tells us

That words are the most powerful things in the world,
Books are the most powerful weapons
That we can do anything we set our mind to
... But only if we prepare and always do our best

He talks about "Oh the Places You'll Go" and "The Little Engine that Could" and how Agent Jones thinks kids make the best Spy Guys (And Girls!)

When he asked 

"Have you heard of a book called "Oh The Place's You'll Go" 

Some children said they had not but Mrs Jelland said that the read it in the morning. Oblivion was definitely in the room... Maybe that's why Ellie wasn't... maybe they got there just before us?!

Kids Beware: Oblivion is Everywhere!
Tech Can be Hacked... So Can Your Classroom!
Agents Trust No One: Find SQA's Cphers & Crack the Code
The rest of what he says can be seen here: A Nervous Call with a Connected Educator

Then he calls me over to say hello and I show Curran the Sextrument (Sextant) and what I have learnt about it so far... But here's the thing, my Dad was so relieved to be finished his talk that he didn't realise I was talking until he saw Mrs Jelland's Sweets? Oh, not sweets... tweets.

My Dad would have missed this if it wasn't for Twitter, Skype an ipad... and
"A Teacher That Can!" 

 he was in the room!

How much is he missing from my day when he's not?
How much of a connection was made with Mrs Jelland's class and with Utah on this one day, than all the others at my own school?

Mrs Jelland and Ellie... World Class Agents of Change
Then Curran and I asked if we could take Ellie on a DigCit SpyQuest Mission, then Agent Jones took over telling the boys and girls in Westquarter and Utah about his books and how he brings them to life.

He did when I first read the books, he did when Curran read them and he did with Mrs Jelland's class who have not read them yet.

NB Mrs Jelland did video the Skype call but, I don't know if it was because
  • Agent Jones jammed all transmissions so Oblivion couldn't hear, or 
  • My Dad was so nervous that she didn't want other teachers to be put off skyping people or 
  • Oblivion hacked her ipad and deleted it. 
But the video is gone. But it's OK because Agent Jones ALWAY, ALWAYS plans for the best but prepares for the worse... and has a Mission for SQAs newest Agent Teacher (with the help of an Agent Fox? I've not met him yet... But I hears he's very cunning, but extremely kind!) to retrieve the information and pass it on to others... and, do you know what? I think she can! And I think she will!

The Little Engine that Could

Mission complete! Westquarter P1 Kid's We Moved Mountains Today!
We have our manners and thank everyone for allowing us to be creative and disrupt their class and Agent Jones says that he'll visit again. I hope he takes me... and I hope Agent Ellie comes to my School too.

Primary 1 Adventures the class will never forget... I bet
Agent Jones takes us home and he tells me how important the work my Dad does is for SpyQuest.

The message that we gave to the people at the DigCitSummit and our newest recruit, Agent Ellie, is below and because I had good fun I think that other classes should try it. Does your school agree?

Dear Mr Swinney, 

We need, as educators and parents, to model
Digital Leaders for kids everywhere
To connect classrooms on Twitter and Skype
with educators and policy makers with
schools locally but we need to learn
and globally kids at Westquarter and at Utah today
Help Ellie

Be a kind kid, be the change you want to see... For the sake of the Kids we are Better Together (#BetterTogether in the New Teachers to Twitter #NT2T kind of way, not the other one).

Mr Swinney, if you mean it when you say that you want to empower educators... I think my Dad can help.

Agent Jones needed me for a SpyQuest Mission. We acted locally and travelled 25 miles... to connect globally 5,000 more. People at the DigCitSummit needed us and I wanted to be a kind kid... and that is why I was not at school today. 

Pst Kids, I have included a secret message for you in the message to the grown ups. If you want Ellie to come to your school and Skype with my new friends at Westquarter, Curran and Agent Jones.

 Tell you're teacher or your parents to Tweet 

"@SpyQuest I want to help @ElliePrimary1"

A be a kind kid agent will hear you. Maybe it will be a Pigeon, or a Fox, or a Mole... It might even be a Lion Hearted Griffin that ends up at your door

...Griffin Door?
Where have I heard that before?
Must be SQA mind tricks playing with my head!

Anyway we will hear your Tweet and someone will take it from there and give you your @SpyQuest Mission. 

It might be a little kid with a big heart or a grown up with a child-like mind

...You never can tell who is, and who is not, an Agent of SQA.

I think that Agent Jones must have an SQA Agent at TES Scotland too because my Dad's name was in that on Friday... so was Mrs Jelland... and so was the Bloodhound Car that @Stanbridge works on. 

I wonder where my Dad will take me next time I turn Pirate and go with him to his "work"

I hope it's another awfully big adventure... I wonder what I missed in my class today? I hope we can compare notes with Westquarter Primary soon

(Pst To my fellow Agents in the field (Oink Oink...Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink): I have the cipher... The code phrase is "I want to Help Ellie" if you want to join the SQA)