This week on the Boagworld Show we talk variable fonts, dealing with bad people and whether we need to reconsider CAPTCHA.
Paul: Hello and welcome to the Boagworld show. The podcast about all aspects of digital design, development and strategy. My name is Paul Boag and joining me on this week’s show is Andy Clarke, Sam Barnes, Ryan Carson, Ryan Carson!
Andy: It’s not just me.
Ryan: I’ll just go shall I?
Andy: It’s not just me that gets his name mixed up.
Paul: It… I have never done that before and Ryan I will let you into a secret, I am glad it is you. (Laughter) and Rich RUtter, hello Rich.
Paul: Hello, you’re stepping in for Marcus this week then. That is very noble of you.
Rich: Oh no, I didn’t get a joke ready.
Paul: Oh no, that’s all right. I’m sure between us we can cobble a joke together.
Andy: Sounds like Ryan’s the butt of the joke this week.
Paul: Ahh, Ryan I didn’t mean it, it was a slip of the tongue.
Ryan: It’s okay, I know you’ve never done it before.
Paul: It’s all your fault Andy, it’s making us record the bloody podcast at 10 AM on a Monday morning.
Rich: What’s wrong with that? I’ve been up for four hours.
Paul: Oh, you’re not a morning person are you Rich?
Sam: One of those, yes!
Rich: Well, I am but I also have children who need to get to school and they can’t do it on their own yet.
Paul: Well, there you go then. Homeschool them. That was my solution.
Ryan: Because that makes everything easier doesn’t it?
Paul: It does if you’re wife does the homeschooling yes!
Rich: Theres a reason we ship them off out of the door as early as we can. (Laughter)
Paul: Yeah, no, that’s a fair comment. Can’t argue with that one. Right, yes, so I wanted to talk about next season a bit if I can because next season, Rich you won’t no this, everybody else will, but next season we are going to do… Let people do a series of lightening talks. So essentially each show we are going to try and do three talks where people give short little talks and we are literally going to do it on a first-come first-served basis. So I’m not in any way going to, kind of, what’s the word where you kind of work out what… which talks to include and which ones not?
Paul: No, curate was the word I was struggling for. I am not in any way going to curate them beyond some basic principles about, you know, don’t sell yourself or don’t refer to slides that we can’t see, that kind of thing. But beyond that it’s just going to be open to anybody. So it’s a great opportunity if you have never spoken before, it’s a great opportunity if you feel like you haven’t got a chance to speak and that in some way you’ve been stopped from speaking because maybe you can’t attend conferences because of childcare or whatever it is. Whatever your reason is now is your chance. But I’ve been quite amazed at how many people have said to me how terrified they are of the thought. So I thought it might be quite interesting… There’s a lot of people who say “Ah, but I won’t be as slick as you guys are.” Which just made me giggle hugely. I wonder if they’ve ever listened to the show before?
Sam: If only they knew.
Andy: Yeah, I know.
Paul: So that’s what I thought, I was quite interested to know what’s the worst cock-up you’ve ever made on a stage?
Rich: Well I can tell you one thing, it wasn’t really a cock-up but I did manage to do a Jason Santa Maria and fall off a stage.
Paul: Ooo! That’s quite good.
Rich: Well, I say fall off, I didn’t exactly land on my head but I certainly ended up 2 feet lower than I was half a second earlier on.
Sam: Did you manage to style it out or was it bad.
Rich: I think I bowed to the audience as I gave them permission to laugh at me.
Paul: Do you know, I think that’s 90% of it, I think, with presenting. If you are relaxed and chilled out then you come across great and everybody goes with it. It’s only when you’re really obviously worked up that I think things are really difficult. So do we have any tips for people who are going to do next… Or reasons why they should. Because I think we need to encourage people.
Sam: So, I think… To remember, the one thing I used to do was someone told me this advice, I think it is quite well known but someone told me that hit me well, was that when I first heard people speaking and I was in awe of them thinking that I could never do that, essentially. They told me I was judging how they appear on the outside versus how I feel on the inside. Which was actually a really simple thing but it actually is true now. I have spoken to other people who I thought didn’t get nervous were incredibly confident, do you know what? Most of them feel just like me, just like you, just like everybody. It is totally normal to feel that way.
Paul: Yep, yep. Absolutely. Also, another thing that has always hit me a lot of people are very nervous about being criticised. I think the important thing to remember is that with criticism is that really unless those people actually have the guts to do what you are doing then their criticism is somewhat irrelevant. And anyway they’ve all got small penises. So (sniggers)
Ryan: Even the women.
Paul: Even the women. And that’s an important thing to remember. I think, that they are inadequate human beings.
Rich: I think you’re right. There’s a few things there though that when, I think you… I mean I’m not the most confident of people. I do quite enjoy doing the talking now. I quite enjoy, you know, you get an adrenaline buzz out of it but also you get very nervous beforehand, usually anyway, which isn’t normally for the best. What I found when I first sort of got going was picking on something that I was genuinely passionate about and interested in because then you are just more naturally able to talk about it and probably over preparing in a way. Not writing a speech and then reading that out because that’s just going to sound like you’re reading a speech out which is going to be a bit rubbish. But really preparing and knowing exactly what you are going to be talking about from slide to slide or as you go through a talk. So you’ve got plenty to lean back on and you know how long it is going to take and you are well practiced and all that sort of stuff and that for me gave me a lot of confidence to be able to go and deliver the thing.
Sam: I think another idea, if it’s a lightning talk, I think, because there are no slides as well, I think people, as I said last week, people get hung up on… it has to be amazing, it has to blow the design or technical community away when it really doesn’t. So given there are no slides and given that people are nervous I think one of the good things that I do when I do talks, I like telling stories about things that have actually happened.
Sam: It just, it sounds authentic, it is kind of what the one time that I do go off script because I can do it from memory but also there is a key message in there. There’s something I learnt, it doesn’t have to be that I learnt how to do something better. It could be that this all went wrong and so I think will do it this way next time.
Andy: Funny thing happened on the way to the nunnery.
Paul: Exactly. Also it’s amazing as well that there is this perception that the more you speak, the more you do at these events the better you are and all the rest of it. I actually think sometimes the opposite is true. People like us that spend a lot of our time speaking, you become tired of speaking about the same old same old and so you end up picking ever more strange and bizarre topics to speak about and become less and less relevant. So I think there is something quite refreshing about a new speaker that tends to pick on stuff they know and they are doing every day because it’s really relevant stuff. That’s the other thing, going back to Sam’s point about feeling the need to be original, I actually think that the thing that people most like hearing from the stage is being told that they are doing it right. And that other people are doing it like them. So even if you are repeating exactly what someone else knows that is still good.
Sam: I think that two other tips as well, one is… So this is a good example, someone on Twitter that we were talking to briefly Paul who I’m trying to get to do one of these, she was nervous, scared but she then came up with her own tip. She said “maybe if I write it as if I was talking to a friend that might have a better tone.” And I thought “Well I’ve not actually heard that one before.” There’s someone who was scared and thinking they weren’t good enough, as it were. And I’m sitting there going “Wow, thanks for the advice!” It’s amazing. So yeah.
Paul: Yeah, and that’s the great thing about this is that you can record it as many times as you want, you can get it right, you can fiddle with it. Although I would encourage you not to do that because I think you could get to the point of, you know, you play around with it so much and micro analyse it so much that you decide it’s not worth it. But you can if you need to. I so want people to do this, so badly.
Sam: One more tip as well Paul is that when… So when I first started talking, I think I understand, I understand I didn’t want to be seen as anything that I wasn’t and there I was on the stage putting opinions across. I think as long as you put those opinions across but you can caveat them and just say “This is just my opinion.” You can just be humble about it and then it’s not a “This is right and if you’re doing it another way you are wrong” it is just “This is how I do it”. I’m interested to talk.
Rich: One of the things I think folks sometimes struggle with is sometimes thinking of something to talk. You have that classic impostor syndrome. I’ve got nothing new to contribute. And then you get back to what you were saying, Paul, about where you’re worried that you’re going to get criticism. So one of the ways to get around both of those things is to do a talk which is an introduction to… or how to get started in… Because then no one can criticise you for not knowing your stuff because you are just going to be covering some beginners things anyway. Also that is much easier to find a topic then as an excuse to talk about stuff that you know other people do know about but you can be fairly sure that quite a lot of people won’t know about it either.
Paul: Yes, because we get lots of people that listen,… It’s all right Rich we know what you meant, we don’t do proper English on this show! We have Americans on the show, I mean they certainly don’t talk proper English!… And you’re right, this show has a lot of students that listen to it, it has a lot of people that work part-time in web design and is more of a hobby than anything. So all of those people are going to learn. But even if you are a student, you know, one of the most common questions that I get asked is “Is it worth going to university?” Well, how do I know! I went to university like 25 years ago or something like that and it was a totally different world so really it would be much better for a student to answer that than it would me. So yeah, everybody can contribute something. Do it!! I feel I need to physically… I’ve never felt an overwhelming urge to physically force anybody to do anything but I want them to do this so badly. I’ve just got this horrible feeling that next season is going to crash and burn but anyway, we will find out. Please submit something, please, please!
Rich: How long should they be?
Paul: 10/15 minutes is ample. They can be a bit longer if you want them to be, but no more than 20 minutes tops. There is actually a blog post where I lay out all the information you need to know which is Boag.world/season18. That just gives them a bit of advice about mics and that kind of stuff but don’t get hung up on any of that, don’t let any of that stop you from submitting something. And submit it sooner rather than later because it is possible that, well, a) it is going to be on a first-come first-served basis but also somebody might later have the same idea as you have, so you need to get yours in first. If you are worried that someone else might do the same thing just drop me an email at Paul@boagworld.com and I will tell you if anybody else is thinking about the same thing.
Sam: I’m thinking Paul that that is a way to get going, get people to submit the topic first. Just to make contact and say hello and guide them through the process.
Paul: Yes, I’m happy to do that and Sam, you’ve already offered to do that as well with people as well. So just drop us an email if you got any questions, any doubts. To be honest I’d really love an email to say I’m thinking about doing this because at the moment I’ve got about three people and about 45 slots to fill. So any kind of encouragement would be much appreciated! Oh dear.
Ryan: I can really sympathise with this because I’ve never spoken on stage and the thought of it fills me with dread.
Paul: But you’re doing this!
Ryan: This is different though, this is a conversation. There are four other guys on the podcast with me that I giving me feedback, we have a discussion, we’re contributing ideas, and if we feel we can’t contribute anything then one of us stays quiet. You know what I mean? Where’s it’s a very, this is a little bit different for season 18 because you are recording something that going to be played back but when you’re on stage you are there talking at a group of people who are kind of looking at their phones, not looking at you, half listening, laughing with their friends, you know, not really giving any feedback and your thinking “Oh, am I dying?” It’s not like being a stand-up comedian, if you get your joke right, they’ll laugh. If they don’t laugh you know you’re dying there!
Ryan: And I’ve always struggled with that. I’m alright in workshops scenarios and where there’s feedback, you know, in what’s being said but…
Sam: I’m the same as you Ryan but I think the only reason I went up there was really, when you got a really strong message that you feel quite passionately about and you want to get that out there, that is worth it. I think having gone through it I would say that it was scary, it was everything that I thought it would be and probably worse but I was really happy to get the message out there. I really was, it was a nice… I was proud of myself, dare I say. Because it was so scary.
Ryan: Dan does it, Dan my business partner, Dan does it and he’s really quite good at it and I’ve seen him speak and it’s like I don’t know how he does it. He does it with a lot of confidence, I think. But yes, it’s not necessarily that I don’t think I’ve got anything to contribute, it’s just that feeling of… Intellectually I know that I know my shit! And I know a lot more than a lot of other people know, and I know I can do a very good job, and I know the stuff that I can do can outshine what other people can do but no matter how good you are you’ve still got that feeling of impostor syndrome. It’s like you’re going to get up on stage and someone’s going to call you out and say, “You’ve been doing it like that all that time? Haven’t you heard about this?” “Well, no I haven’t” “You idiot, get off stage” “BOO!!!”.
Sam: (Laughter) it sounds like you’ve run that through a few times! (Laughter)
Ryan: I wake up in cold sweats thinking about it.
Paul: The way I… I can easily deal with that, I can easily deal with that because everybody knows that I know bugger all, right? All the years I got onto the stage not once has someone interrupted me or even said on Twitter that I’m a complete twat and I don’t know my stuff. They told me, they disagreed with me before, but nobody has… No, people have been abusive but it is never as bad as you think it is. It is never the level that everybody has in their head. So Ryan, are you going to record something for next season?
Ryan: I don’t know what to talk about! (Laughter)
Paul: Ahh! Ahh! (laughter)
Ryan: I might do! I think I might have something interesting to talk about for next season anyway because some stuff is happening this month that I want to keep quiet.
Paul: Ooo! Aren’t we mysterious? (Laughter) I’m going to be coming and begging everybody I’ve ever met to record one of these things, I can tell by the way things are going. But there you go. Also a I’m a little bit disappointed, I may get myself into trouble at this point, but I’m a little bit disappointed that everybody that’s contact me so far are all white middle-class men. I thought I would get… Opening it up and just saying anybody, and I’m not going to in any way check any of this stuff, Or set any limits, I thought I might get a bit more diverse audience but I may still yet. But yes, pressure everybody you know. So, there we go. Okay, that’s that.
Let’s talk about our sponsors for this week. First of all it would be good to talk about Teacup Analytics that I love so much and spend so much of my time with Teacup Analytics. So to just quickly remind you what Teacup is in case you don’t know. It is essentially an application that sits on top of Google analytics and makes Google analytics usable. So instead of opening you up to all of this data it delivers a series of reports and those reports are based on questions you might have like “Which is working better for me Twitter or Facebook?” Those kinds of questions that you have “Is my bounce rate good or bad?” You know, so that’s basically what Teacup is. Teacup is a great tool when you are working with your clients because you can easily provide clients with reports so they can see how their website is doing whether it is performing well and that kind of stuff. Which is obviously something you can sell to your clients. Which is really good. There are three steps that I recommend when using something like Teacup to work with clients that I just wanted to quickly mention. First of all is that at the beginning of the project and make sure you have clear key performance indicators. How are you going to measure the success, or otherwise, of your project? Because if you don’t know those then you don’t know what to report back on and you don’t know which reports you’re going to need from within Teacup Analytics. So first of all establish your key performance indicators. Next I would sit down with your client before the project starts and look through all the different reports that Teacup offers and identify the ones that are most relevant to their particular situation in order to call them back, so that you can use those. And then finally at the end of each month just have a very brief call with your client to go through the reports that you have been providing them whether it be weekly or biweekly or even monthly. And discuss where it is strong, where it is weak because, and here’s the good bit, that will lead on to future work. It shifts the clients perspective away from that launch and an abandon mentality to one of incremental improvement. Teacup will actually suggest areas that you need to focus on and need to improve so it is an opportunity to check in with your client once a month and say “Okay, it is suggesting that we do this, how do you feel about that?” That kind of thing. So to find out more about Teacup, to get it up and running, it is dirt cheap, go to Boag.world/teacup.
Round Table Discussion
Right, I think guests should go first as Rich is so kindly standing in for Marcus. Rich, talking about the same old things that everybody always talks about, you always talk about typography, it’s getting boring now mate!
Andy: Where’s my bloody book Richard Rutter?!
Rich: That’s an excellent question. (Laughter)
Andy: It was a spontaneous question.
Rich: Funnily enough yesterday I reached a major milestone with the bloody book which is kind of how I’m feeling about it now. Finally we got through all the rounds of edits, we, as in mostly me but with a lot of help from my brother, have finally finished off over 200 illustrations for the book…
Rich: It took a bit longer than I thought because I didn’t think there were 200 until we listed them all out diligently. And so now finally we are in the position where we can actually be producing the book bit. Because we don’t need to do any more writing, we’ve done two rounds of edits with the editor and so now I just need to work out how to make an e-book. Meanwhile my brother who does know how to make a physical book is getting on with that. So we are finally, finally, finally feels like we are very close.
Paul: Cool, it feels like a battle writing a book. It’s a painful old process
Rich: Well, and when you’ve got nice people like Andy here who stumped up their cash nearly 2 years ago and are still waiting for a book very patiently, you start to feel somewhat pressured to get it done, quite rightly.
Andy: No. Well you have to post it all the way down here now.
Rich: Yeah, but you can get an e-book a bit more quickly than a that.
Paul: So Rich, you’ve been talking a lot about variable fonts recently. Now here’s the problem that I have. I don’t know anything about variable fonts, please teach me.
Rich: Okay, I can teach you about that. Variable fonts is a technology that we are all going to be using maybe in a year, maybe in two years. When I say all, I mean probably pretty much any one who updates their version of Microsoft Office or Photoshop or us designing and building websites as well. So variable fonts, it’s a new technology that was just announced in October 2016, technically called Open Type Font Variations. What it means is that it enables a single font file to behave like multiple fonts. So what I mean by that is if you think about a type family of different fonts that might have a regular weight, a bold weight, a light weight, extra light weight, very heavy, you know, going from thin to thick. That’s one axis of variation. You might have just along that, you might have eight different font files for eight different kinds of weights. You might also have those fonts as being very condensed or very wide so very squished or very stretched. So that’s another axis there. You might have another eight fonts there. But each of those eight widths in the different weights as well. So that’s 8 x 8 is 64 different font files for those 64 different variations. So you can imagine why you wouldn’t be wanting to use all of those on a website for example. You probably wouldn’t want to use more than about three of them to be honest. Now, what open type font variations does, variable fonts, it packages all that information into one font file and it’s not a font file which is 64 times as big.
Paul: Yes, I was going to say is it not enormous?! As a result.
Rich: No, it’s probably only twice as big.
Rich: For that kind of variation. And that’s just a really simple example. What it means is that you haven’t just got those eight, you’ve got an almost infinite variation from the very light to the very heavy, from the very narrow to the very wide. So in that case probably a million different fonts. And that’s just those two axes. And you can vary all sorts of different things. Like how big a serif is for example. So you can go from a sans serif all the way through to a ridiculous serif. You can do the contrast of the fonts, so where you’ve got a letter form where part of it is very thin and part of it is very thick you can vary that contrast in terms of the difference between the thicks and the thins, all the time while your varying all these other things as well. All within a single font file which is between, it is roughly twice the size and of course you’ve got one file to download there as well. It opens up, from a designers point of view, the ability to be able to pick and choose a few different types of weights, things like that, different styles for across the website but then also to maybe vary those in a responsive way. So when you have a small screen you might want to use a narrower font. Big screen, bigger font. But you just got to… You’ve just got this single font to download in both cases.
Paul: So how do you specify all of this kind of stuff on a website? You know, if you’ve got a font file, and I understand how you load that in. How do you then say I want an extra wide font or whatever?
Rich: There are some standard ones which use, they use the standard CSS, so font weight. For example up until now font weight has used keywords like normal or bold but it has also used numbers which are in multiples of a hundred so 100, 200, 400 and so on. But now you will be able to use any integer. So anywhere between 1 and 999. So that gives you 999 different weights. And similarly there is some existing CSS for around front stretch. And anything else where the designer comes up with something different, outside of those sort of regular things, there’s a slightly arcane bit of CSS that can be used to access anything that they come up with.
Paul: Ah, okay.
Rich: So I saw just this morning actually, there was an emoji, emoji come in fonts now even though they are full-colour. And someone had designed a variable font where you could change… It was in emoji where you had a smiley face :-) with the tongue sticking out and you could change where the tongue went on the face. You could get it to lick an eyeball or lick the chin or the nose or around to the left or round to the right. And that was with just with a variation within a font. So the mind boggles as to what could actually be being used. Those fonts are going to get start getting shipped at some point once they have worked out how to charge for them. You will find that they will work, will be working within the operating systems and things. One really important thing about this that means it is going to happen sooner rather than later is that Adobe, Microsoft, Google and Apple have developed this all together.
Rich: So all the big boys are behind it. So it will be out there across the board. This stuff is working in browsers already albeit mostly the technology previews of Safari and Chrome and in Edge as well and Firefox. So it’s all out there and it’s happening quite quickly. So it will be working on the web before it actually ends up in our operating systems but it will end up there soonish as well.
Paul: And I mean I’m imagining the fallback is quite healthy on this. That is not going to break if your browser doesn’t support this stuff. It’s just going to fall back to the default font is it?
Rich: Yeah, you’d have to start… If you’re bringing these in through web fonts you would have to start specifying two different sources so you point that to the variable font but then also to a regular font. At the moment I think we can make a good guess how that would work and certainly a good guess how it should work. But it’s not, the browser folks are still trying to work out those kinds of details. The actual technology, the type of technology is… That’s a standard already so they know what it can do, they’ve just got to work out how they do that in a web context. Also there’s no… these fonts are going to have to work, like I said, in Photoshop and Illustrator and Word and all the rest of it and the interface for picking one of a million fonts or plus has not being designed yet.
Rich: But there is one just last little thing, they have these things called names instances so where you do want a bold extra condensed, which is just one point within a million the type designer can specify what that should be so that bold extra condensed will appear as a font in your font picker in…
Paul: Oh, okay.
Rich: So you won’t… It won’t completely change the way you use fonts but underneath it it does.
Paul: Right, so you’ve got as much detail or flexibility as you want to. If you don’t want to delve into all this stuff then there still the default. Because I have to say a lot of the time I think I prefer a proper type designer to be making these selections rather than me!
Rich: Well that’s the nice thing is that the way these are produced, they are produced by the type designer. So the type designer designs the middle point, kind of the most normal font and then designs the extremes. And then the standard interpolates between the two. And that sort of the reasons why you can get so many different fonts into one bit of data because it is just the differences that are stored and most importantly, like I said, it’s the type designer who is designing the extremes and the middle point so everything there has come from the designer, it’s not being made up by a browser.
Paul: Very cool.
Rich: Or from the software.
Paul: Excellent, that’s really good, I’m really excited about that now! I totally miss understood what it was all about so I’m glad we had you on the show to put me straight.
Rich: If you or anyone else wants to go and have a play with these, which you can do, there’s a great website put together by a chap called Laurence Penney and the website is called axis-praxis.org, axis-praxis.org.
Paul: I’m looking forward to my wife trying to look up that URL. How do you spell that?
Rich: Okay, AXIS-PRAXIS.org. (Thank you darling husband) you will need to download like a technology preview for Safari but that’s easy enough, there’s links there.
Andy: Good, that sounds good.
Rich: Go have a play.
Paul: It does sound very good. Sam, can we talk to you next because I just loved your description in your email, “I want to talk about dealing with bad people”. I just thought that was just a great line.
Sam: So I’m talking about toxic people at work. I think really life as well though because I think this might get a bit philosophical really.
Paul: Are you sure… Is this not you secretly saying something about the people that come on this show?!
Sam: Err, let’s move on! (Laughter) So… No.
Sam: So this is something that, this is a good example of a lightening talk type thing. It’s not technical, it’s not even really original. It is just something I have kind of learnt as I have gone through my career and I don’t know if it’s the only way, it might be the wrong way but this is my take on the dealing with bad people at work after 15 years doing it. So the one thing I would say is that when you are dealing with bad people at work, when I say bad people, I mean toxic people, I mean people that are just make your blood boil, you know? The one thing that I see most people doing is essentially reacting to it. And they are letting it get to them essentially. I think most people are going to start with internalising it and getting really angry and bitter and negative and then they are going to start talking to other people and if someone is toxic the chances are they are annoying other people too. You start talking to people and you feel like you have got a bit of a team. But what I have learnt over the years is that actually this is really not the way, well, not the way I now deal with it. Because I found it so unhealthy and draining. Mentally draining all of the time. Even if you’ve got like a little group of people that agree and you feel quite aligned on that, I just, looking back on these times it was very draining for everybody and you can kind of bring other people down. As well. You can sort of make people tune into something that they hadn’t noticed and it’s just not really the way to go. So, I mean I’m no better, I’ve done this myself early in my career, I guess this is how I’ve learnt most things in life, the hard way. I think there was something that happened in my first agency but I was probably two or three years into it and I was in a meeting with, there was a toxic person running the meeting, I was with two other people and one of the people with me felt exactly the same about this person and actually about the topic that we were discussing, which I can’t remember, but I just remember that. As we are going through this meeting the toxic person was on fine form, saying things that were just really getting me going but when I turned around to sort of give this other person a glance as if to say “Do you see what I mean, or do you agree?” They had this really calm look on their face, right? And it was really unnerving to begin with because I couldn’t understand why or even how he could be looking so relaxed given that I knew how much this stuff annoyed him as well. Anyway, we went on through the meeting and this meeting was a good sort of two hour big one, and at various times during that meeting I would hear something that would really have me on the edge and I would look over to this other person and again, they are just sitting there, just totally relaxed. I’m getting quite confused by this so when the meeting ended I thought, well, I’m going to find out what’s going on here because it was really confusing. I said to him “How are you doing this? How are you, what’s going on how we use so calm?” He actually had a little smile on his face, he wasn’t even relaxed, he looked sort of happy. And he just looked at me and bearing in mind at this point I was really riled up and he just said to me “Do you know what, keep doing the right thing, no matter what, keep doing the right thing and everything will be okay in the end.” And it really floored me. Because while it sounded so ridiculous it immediately made sense. And what he was really getting at was that reacting to people that annoy you at work, especially people that are that toxic and they kind of want you to, will never do anything good. It will never do anything good. It kind of reminded me about something that my Dad told me. So I used to play football when I was, really from the age of 5 to 25, maybe. I’ve always been very small and even back when I was a kid I was even smaller compared to everyone else so I would obviously get bullied to a certain extent on the pitch. But my Dad always told me just to never react, never let them see them hurting you. And one phrase that always stuck with me was “Always do your talking on the pitch,” and what he meant by that was you don’t react to the attempt to push you over or bully you or whatever, you just take it on the chin, you tackle them hard but fair, you take the anger you feel from the harassment and you channel it into beating them fair and square on the pitch within the rules that everybody knows. And I did this then and I don’t think I understood why, but I did this then, and that carries on into your working life. Because what I noticed both in sport and in the office is when you don’t react to people that are trying to get a reaction to you, people really tend to notice it. They notice it more than they would if you were highlighting how bad somebody was and trying to get them onside as it were. You just don’t react and it takes time and it takes discipline and a lot of patience but what I have found is at the end of that people really see the bad person for who they are and they really see that you didn’t react, that actually see your strength in that and they really respect it, it shows you got character. And I guess by doing this what I’ve learnt over the years is that actually you are the remaining the professional one doing this, if you never react you can never be accused of anything. It is really tempting to retaliate, it really is, it is human nature I believe. But you have to resist that. You can always be on solid moral grounds as long as you are doing the right thing. As I said you can gain respect from not reacting, it exposes the problem in the right way, I think it takes longer but it just shows it more for what it is. And you know what? After all of this I’m still human, this smiling back and not reacting, just doing your job, being professional, it really annoys the people who are trying to get you riled up.
Paul: Yes, it does!
Sam: It really… And that is a by product, you shouldn’t be aiming for that. But there’s nothing nicer than when you’ve gone the right route, you’ve had the sort of discipline to continue and not bring other people down and eventually when it all comes out it is just a great place to be. So it’s a bit of advice section really but just something that I think I feel really strongly about getting out there. Because I see a lot of people early in their career and naturally, at work you end up having a bogeyman. You know, there’s always someone that’s the enemy and I just think that’s a mistake that I wish I could go back and change.
Paul: Hmmm. Do you, you say don’t react…
Sam: It’s hard, don’t get me wrong.
Paul: Well, no, no, no. I’m just trying to define that in my mind as to what… You know, because you equally can’t… Well let me give you an example, of whether you fell this was a good approach. I used to have a boss who he would… We would have a board meeting every week. I headed up a team of designers and we would all sit around the boardroom with the different departments being represented and every week he would pick on someone. And he would rip them apart. And for a long time I was the golden boy so I didn’t get this but I knew eventually it was going to happen. So the meeting where it eventually did happen, I was prepared. And essentially he ripped the crap out of me in the meeting and, you are right, I didn’t react in the meeting I just sat there and I smiled and took it on the chin. Then when the meeting ended I walked up to him and calm as you like, once everybody else had left the room. I said “If you ever speak to me like that again in a meeting in front of other people. I will quit.” and that was all I said. And I said it’s incredibly calmly. Now I don’t know whether you would consider that reacting or…
Sam: Well I would say it depends if this boss of yours was trying to get a rise out of you versus just being inappropriate. So what I’m talking about, I guess it’s more about being targeted or when it feels that you are being targeted or bullied or someone’s very much got… In that situation I think that was totally fine. It was right not to react in front of people, that is being professional. And to say it calmly after that is totally… I mean, how did it play out? What did he say?
Paul: I mean, he was a classic school boy bully. So he would bully everybody. So the way I chose to deal with it was really that, it was the kind of “stand up to bullies” approach. And he did, he folded like a house of cards. He basically said “Oh, I didn’t mean to upset you…… Da, da, da” and it changed the dynamic of the relationship. But it was incredibly hard… It is incredibly hard in a scenario like that.
Sam: But the point is that you reacted in a way that you controlled yourself, you didn’t let emotion take over how you responded. I think that’s the key thing in that situation. There’s other times though when you are in various office scenarios, be it in meetings or even hearing stories or whatever it might be and you definitely feel like you want to shout or just, you know, you want to react a lot more strongly. And it’s showing that control that actually makes people quite uncomfortable.
Paul: Yeah, yeah. It does!
Sam: Because if you shouted that at him I would have put money on him not folding and kind of feeling like, pleased, I mean that’s obviously what he wants. So don’t do what they want, do what they don’t expect. It is that classic when they go low we go high type mentality. And I really believe in that.
Paul: Andy, the book you wanted to mention is about leadership and dealing with people and this kind of thing isn’t it?
Andy: Yeah, it is and I think I’ve mentioned before that I got a new job, amazingly!
Paul: You hadn’t really made a big deal of it no!
Andy: I’m just amazed that somebody has actually hired me, to be honest.
Ryan: We all are mate, we all are. (Laughter)
Andy: We got to the end of the first week and Sue said “You not been fired yet?” (Laughter) So thanks for the vote of confidence! Anyway… So as I think I said on the podcast last week, I am really taking this seriously. There’s a lot of different things that I am being asked to do. You know, I am head of design at this company and that’s not a role that I have a lot of experience in and having spent all these years working on my own actually interacting with people can sometimes be a challenge. So I suppose I could quite easily be one of the toxic people that Sam was talking about! Unless I try really hard. Anyway, they said to me at the beginning of last week that they were hosting this leadership training at the company and were getting in an outside consultant who was coming in to teach the senior management team about leadership, did I want to be involved? Now, the old Andy would have run for the hills and said no thank you I would rather spend my day looking at Kerning. But the new Andy thought “No, embrace this kind of thing.” Anyway, the first thing that they had me do was to fill in a two-part personality profile. So I’m going to give you a bit of a quiz so that you can see whether you can guess my personality, all right? So if we’ve got a scale that is between accommodating and directing where would I be? Would I be more towards the accommodating or the directing could you say?
Sam: Yeah, directing
Andy: Yeah, just about. Reserved or engaging?
Rich: Oh, engaging.
Paul: I don’t know.
Andy: Just a little bit towards engaging. Okay, would I be towards the spontaneous end or the methodical end?
Paul: Oh, spontaneous!
Rich: I don’t know
Andy: No, actually not. I’m more towards the methodical. Now here’s the one that is going to really get you. This is going to really, really get you. Would I be more towards the harmonious and end or the challenging end? (Laughter)
Sam: Oh, let me think.
Paul: Oh, Ahh, Hmm.
Rich: You’re a nice man, harmonious.
Paul: I think challenging but that’s only because that’s what I’ve heard from other people. I’ve always found you very harmonious.
Andy: Yes, well I’m challenging apparently! (Laughter) I am very much down at the challenging end. That is what they call path four. There was this other one, path six, which was like another sort of 60 questions or so and basically it tells me that I am basically mid range across a lot of this stuff. I am mid range in the dominance I’m mid range in the extraversion, I’m not very compassionate, strangely enough, but I’m quite spontaneous, I’m quite adventurous and here’s the best one, in the innovation section I am very creative and I like to generate and express new ideas and seek mental challenges.
Paul: There you go.
Andy: Speaking of mental challenges then today, actually today as we record this podcast I sat through eight hours of leadership training with the rest of the senior management team. And they bought in this consultant from America and normally speaking if you had would have asked me three months ago “Would I have got anything from some leadership training and would I have actually wanted to turn up?” I would have probably said I would rather go and boil my head. But the new Andy went there with an open mind and although I felt a little bit kind of uncomfortable at the beginning. The more you get into the day the more actually enlightening the whole thing was. And I had a really good time and I actually was sitting there with a little pad scribbling loads of things down, some of it not directly related to the stuff that we were talking about, but it was all to do with work.
Ryan: You were doodling, is what you are saying.
Sam: Was being spontaneously creative!
Andy: And we tackled this thing, and please tell me if you’ve heard of this because I had not heard of this before, there was the guy that was facilitating the meeting said “Right, who has not heard of the five levels of leadership?” And of course I was…
Paul: I’ve not heard of it.
Andy: … The only bloke that basically put his hand up was me because I have thick as pig shit. Anyway, the whole of the day was basically riffing around this idea of the five levels of leadership. And it was brilliant. So I’m going to go through just a couple of things, the first level down at the bottom, and it’s not in sort of order but the first level is position, and people follow you because it is your job title and they have to. There is no respect, there’s no inspiration they just follow you because, you know, you’re the boss. The second one is permission where people follow you because they want to, because they see something in you and they want to follow you. The third level is about production, people follow you because of what you have done for the organisation, that is important for the organisation. And then the force one, because you never get to 5 unless you are like super leader, the fourth one is all about people development and people follow you because of what you have done for them in terms of their career development et cetera et cetera. And I found this whole thing fascinating so normally I do a book where I’ve read it and I can recommend it. Today’s book is a book that I haven’t read but it is the book that was recommended with this course that we did today so I’m actually going to order it when we finish the podcast and I am going to sit and read it. It is called the Five levels of leadership, proven steps to maximise your potential by John C Maxwell. And there’s a link in the show notes, or there will be. And if this is your thing then maybe you could read along with me because I am a new man and this is like part of my new canon. And that’s my book of the week.
Paul: There we go. That sounds like a very good one. Okay, I don’t know what else to say on that Andy. It was you ending with the bit, “I’m a new man” it left me floored. Didn’t know where to go.
Andy: Well I did see something the other day that described the area that we now live in which is Surrey Hills in Sydney and it was full of young beatniks and old bohemians. And I thought “Ah, which one am I?”
Paul: I think that’s very straight forward Andy. I don’t think there’s a lot of doubt around that if I’m honest. Right…
Andy: An old bohemian.
Paul: So, I’ve got a very quick one it won’t take long because I want to get Ryans in as well. Have you guys seen what Google have done with recapture? That they have now released a new version of recapture.
Sam: Yes, the invisible… Thing.
Paul: Yes, it’s now machine learning so in the majority of cases the user doesn’t need to do anything any more unless they’re particularly suspicious. I’ve had this deep and utter hatred for recapturing and capture for donkeys years, it’s got usability problems, it’s got accessibility problems, it’s evil personified. But this is looking okay so most of the time the user doesn’t need to do anything, it’s essentially just runs in the background and it looks at mouse behaviour, it looks at various other factors to ascertain whether or not you are a bot and it only throws up a message if it really thinks you are in trouble. Now obviously in an ideal world you don’t want it to ever throw up a message. You might say to yourself “Oh well, if you use something like honey trap it’s never going to throw up a message” but it is possible therefore that something like honeytrap can create accessibility issues as well and it isn’t a perfect system in itself. So this looks like something that is vaguely more usable now. Ryan this is something I bet you’ve got an opinion on.
Paul: Yeah, we’ve just implemented recapture on charity bank for on their loan application form. It’s obviously… Recapture in itself is obviously far better than the crappy try and read this word or things with pictures but obviously it still has potential accessibility issues. But yeah, having something that is kind of hidden away… It’s still not out yet still coming soon isn’t it?
Paul: No, I think it’s now out. Literally, the last few days I believe.
Ryan: Oh right, because the website says it’s still coming soon.
Paul: Oh, does it?
Ryan: Yeah, so I have not had chance, I’ve not played with this yet.
Rich: Ryan, I’m interested, why did you feel the need to put in a capture at all?
Ryan: They were getting a lot of, there was a lot of spam through and a lot of just rubbish and they requested it specifically because they had seen it. So we implemented that being the kind of best of a bad bunch of options for…
Paul: You felt that that was a better option than something like a honey trap then?
Ryan: Yeah, nine times out of 10 you are just clicking on the recapture thing, the only occasionally does it ask you to add identify, you know, click on all the images that are a shopfront or something like that. So it does actually… It is a nicer one. Stripe uses it as well.
Paul: Hmmm. I’m not happy! I’ve got to say, I mean, you do what you want with your projects, your projects not mine. I hate recapture with a passion. Bollocks nine times out of 10 you only need to check a box. Most of the time it triggers a “Try and work out which parts of this picture have got storefronts and which are houses” and it also, why should your problems or the organisations problems be made the problems of the user? It’s just shite. There’s no excuse to using recapture. You’re in my bad books, you don’t get to speak now Ryan.!
Ryan: That’s fine!
Paul: (laughter) I’m sure you can live with that. Although that said let’s move on to Ryan’s selection! (Laughter) I somewhat undermined that haven’t I now. This one fascinated me when you sent this through Ryan.
Ryan: Did it?
Paul: Yeah, rich text editor with the API. What the hell is that about?
Ryan: You can hook it up to, do you know what I’ve not actually used this, I’ve just been looking at it and it seems like a really nice one.
Paul: Oh, here we go. (Laughter) So not only do you use recapture you are recommending shit you know nothing about!
Ryan: I’ve looked into it! I’ve just not implemented it on anything yet.
Paul: Go on then, how does it work? Is it like a replacement what you see is what you get?
Ryan: Yes, so it’s a WYSIWYG editor. So you know, for years, and for me personally whenever I have implemented one of these things it’s always been like Tiny MC and they’ve always been just clunky and horrible and rubbish and you know, I’ve not liked them and I’ve not got along with them very well. But this one seems like a really clean solution, really easy to implement, it has got various modules that you can add additional functionality in so that you can add an undo and redo module, so the history module for undo and redo but these are all things that you can just add in as extras if you want to have that facility. And I just think that it is really useful for if you are building anything bespoke, like we build a lot of little admin systems for various things that we build. Where you may need a WYSIWYG editor to help with client input and stuff that is going to be output as markup. This seems like a pretty nice solution. But yes, the API stuff I believe is so that you can build your own custom stuff and feed information into the WYSIWYG editor and get information back out again as well. So you can actually build additional manipulation of the stuff that you putting into it. I just thought it was really interesting one. So I came across this the other day and marked it as something that if I need one when I’m building something in the future I’ll have a look at this one and look at implementing this one. But yes, I liked it, quite a clean one so I thought I’d recommend it.
Paul: I do like the look of it because you can really customise and control every aspect of it which is really nice. So if you don’t want to give people too much control… So it’s called, we haven’t said the name, is called Quill.
Ryan: QuillJS.com and it’s, just to fire it up its really, really clean simple bit of code but they’ve got a playground section on there you can actually… Got a load of code pens up so you can actually see different configurations of the tool. It’s really simple and clean and a far cry from what I have previously fought with for years, you know. Like tiny MC and all that stuff. So yes, it’s worth having a look I think and just up marking if you’re needing one than it looks a pretty good one to use.
Paul: I do like it, that’s good, all right. I think that’ll do it, we’ve recorded this show in about 28 different parts so we have now lost the will to live at this point.
So, let’s wrap it up by talking about our next sponsor. Our final sponsor of the day is Proposify which is a great tool if you want to create proposals that really impress your clients. You can customise it around your brand using your own visual identity, logo, you can even have your own domain name, you can customise all the emails and who they are sent from and all that kind of stuff. So it is totally… So you can totally white label the thing. You can create interactive pricing tables which obviously are very impressive and look very good. Clients can legally sign off on your proposal in the browser which again is hugely beneficial. It can be viewed and accessed from any device. It also creates really nice PDFs, to be honest this is one of its strengths compared to its competitors in my opinion, that it creates great PDFs if the client wants to print it off which they often do, let’s be honest. But also it provides great analytics, it lets you know when your clients open the email that you sent with the proposal in it, it lets you know when they click on the link or they add a comment or obviously, most importantly when they accept the proposal. So loads of analytics which will let you know how effective your proposal is. You can even set it up to automatically remind your clients to check it out if they haven’t yet got round to opening the proposal. So it’s a really great product, it doesn’t loads of really great stuff. You can check it out proposify.biz/boagworld
So that about wraps up this week’s show. Do you know what? I’m not going to do a joke in reverence to Marcus, he’s the only one that can do the jokes properly in my opinion. So unless one of you guys have got a joke that you feel a need to do I think we will just wrap up. But don’t forget next season to submit, you’ve got to submit a talk for next season. You can find out more about that at Boag.world/season18. Let’s quickly go round the table. Ryan, where can people find out about you?
Ryan: I’m on nodividestudio.com and you can find me on Twitter @Ryanhavoc.
Paul: If you want an agency that has got no morals and are happy to apply recapture then go to Nodivide. However if you want a proper agency that does things well, Rich, where can people find out more about you?
Rich: Ah, splendid, well you’ll be wanting to go to clearleft.com and check out our new brand, our new website.
Paul: I know, it’s very funky!
Andy: Yes, it is very funky!
Paul: Someone got overexcited with photoshop or sketch or whatever the cool kids use these days.
Rich: I think we finally discovered Photoshop maybe that’s what it is. (Laughter)
Paul: Could be, could be that. Okay, what about you personally Rich, on Twitter or your blog or whatever?
Rich: Clagnut. @Clagnut on Twitter or clagnut.com
Paul: Where did… I’m sorry, I got to ask where did that come from?
Rich: It came a long time ago from discussions at a company before a company, before a company I used to work for and we said “Oh, Clagnut.com, no one’s got that yet, we should buy that and do something with it!” (Laughter) And then we didn’t and then I got made redundant and I learnt some PHP and SQL and built a blog and thought “Oh, I’ve still got a domain somewhere, I’ll stick it on their to see if I can get it working” and then people actually came and read some of the stuff that I wrote and I was lumbered with it ever since.
Paul: That is the trouble isn’t it? These mistakes you make so early on. Boagworld, how arrogant does that sound!?
Sam: Oh Paul, I’ve taken The Sam Barnes. I never thought that was enough to publicise this. The truth about that is that my brother was getting into this all before me and he just had a domain, he was The Danny Barnes and I just starting something that no one would ever read it and I just thought why not? It was just available. And now I have to apologise and plead with people that I don’t, especially when… It’s worse especially when I’m ringing up the bank or something and they want my email address or… It’s really horrible, it’s really horrible but it’s done now so that’s it.
Paul: Yeah, the things we get ourselves into and then get stuck with. So remember this kids when buying your first domain don’t pick something that makes you sound like an arrogant twat.
Sam: This is like a long drawn out 15 year version of that bank advert that they have where they say not to pick silly little names right now because you need to look professional in two years.
Ryan: To be fair though it’s not really held you back has its?
Sam: Hmmm. No, I call it branding and people believe me! (Laughter)
Paul: Yes, it’s amazing what you can get away with isn’t it?! Yes, exactly. So my first ever domain name was media geek. But I let that one lapse. I quite liked that one. Anyway, so, who have we done? We’ve done Rich, we’ve done Ryan, so Sam what about you? Well, we know your URL don’t we!
Sam: TheSamBarnes.com and the same on Twitter @The Sam Barnes
Paul: And Andy, what about you?
Andy: Well, the best place at the moment is malarkey.co.uk, no it isn’t! What am I talking about @malarkey on Twitter. No, no it’s because I was thinking about setting up a different blog. The best place to get me is @malarkey on Twitter. And I really, really do apologise to everybody that I have been offending recently by posting pictures of Theresa May every morning. (Laughter) with love from Australia!
Paul: You really, really don’t want to follow @malarkey on Twitter. It’s just vile bitterness continually being spouted about Brexit, basically. That’s all you get isn’t it?
Andy: Pretty much, yes. Pretty much.
Paul: So, where did malarkey come from? Sorry, we need to wrap this show up really but I’m interested.
Andy: No, well I used to work for a small ad agency in the south of London and there was a bit of a wide boy client manager that worked there at the time and he didn’t know too much about, you know, getting accurate briefs from my clients so he used to come into the studio and he would say “Oh, they want a bit of that, a bit of this, bit of that and all that malarkey, Clarkie” (laughter) and it stuck.
Paul: So there you go. Malarkey Clarkie
Andy: And if you look up malarkey in the dictionary one of the definitions is stuff and nonsense.
Paul: There you go, see, it makes perfect sense. Anyway that was all unnecessary. Thank you guys, well like the show as a whole, thank you guys for listening I hope you found some stuff useful and we will be back again next week until then goodbye.
Links mentioned in the show
- Teacup Analytics
- Five levels of leadership; Proven steps to maximise your potential by John C Maxwell
- Rich Rutter – Clearleft.com
- Rich Rutter
- Ryan Taylor – nodividestudio.com
- Sam Barnes – TheSamBarnes.com