Friday, July 22, 2016

Pokémon Go or Pokémon Stay?

Pokémon Go or Pokémon Stay?

Who wants to go to the waterfront at lunchtime to catch Magikarp? 

Anyone who doesn’t know Pokémon go might simply suspect a few of the team were going to go fishing off the local Wharf.  How wrong you would be.  Its Friday night in our office and would you believe we have had staff COME BACK to work to wait for those finishing so they can go Pokémon hunting in their pack-group.  Back in my day we used to go out drinking on a Friday night.  The thought of going walking around outside in the rain pointing my old flip phone in the air would probably seen me arrested and locked up for the night with suspected substance abuse or intoxicated behaviour in a public place. 

Also back in my day if you congregated in places that are not often frequented, you’d also be looked at sideways.  Matters would be made substantially worse if you were a 20 something year old male seen facing a famous landmark holding something in your hand you are violently swiping.  Being arrested would be a light consequence for that one.  If you then went on to tell the nice officer that actually the main reason you were at this famous landmark was that you were actually at a gym. And… Oh,  the reason you’d been walking around and around this famous land-mark was that you were waiting for your egg to hatch.  The nice officer may have a room with padded walls in mind for you for the evening.  Matters would be made considerably worse if there were multiple 20 something year old males in the dark displaying the same behaviour.

After seeing things rapidly unfold over the past few weeks, I asked the team for a show of hands for who played Pokémon Go.  Every person’s hand went up except one.  I was quite startled and asked the one person why they were not playing.  He just said- ‘my phone is too old and won’t run it’.  Apparently he’d tried to download with no success.

As the CEO I had to make a conscious decision on what I would do myself.  Do I simply download the game and play in private so I knew what my team was talking about?  Or do I download the game and quietly get tips on the side from members of my team to gain my own confidence with what this phenomenon was actually about.

So I went with the later, first asking the 18 year old school student I mentor to show me how to get sorted.  I was on my way playing Pokémon Go.  The feeling of catching my first Pokémon made me feel like I was part of the team….that is until they told me that you pretty much get given the first few.  Like a total novice I was sitting at home trying to work out what you actually had to do with these strange squares in front of you.  Apparently these were to be Pokestops which on clicking would reveal pictures of my landmarks nearby and if you were close enough you could spin and get prizes. 

To be fair, I didn’t actually know you could spin them until yesterday.  My bashing and swiping at the screen must have had a similar effect, but apparently does not show you are in the know as a Pokémon expert.

On exploring the other odd objects in the game, I managed to find another shaped object, I tap and it told me it was a gym.  As a real life Fitness trainer, this got me pretty excited.  Wow, it knows I’m into gyms and fitness training.  What a cool game. It actually knows a bit about me.  I was pointing my phone in the direction of Shane Cameron's Gym thinking it was pretty cool that the game actually knew where a real life gym was too.  So I tap to go into the gym and it then tells me that I don’t have enough experience to be a gym trainer.  This just annoyed me.  My real life self knows very well that I have a lot of experience as a gym trainer and I in fact own my own gym.

I came into work the next day and told the team how upset I was that it told me I was not experienced enough to be a gym trainer, even though I actually was one.  Howls of laughter came from the team in the office.  How was I supposed to know that gyms were part of the game and they had nothing to do with my personal identity?  How was I also to know that it was just a sheer co-incidence that I happened to be pointing my phone in the direction of Share Cameron's Gym and a Pokémon Gym was in that general direction!  I later discovered that gyms were everywhere and actually had nothing to do with real gyms.  Quite a let down!

That weekend I spent time at my holiday Bach which is quite remote.  I was interested to see if there were any gyms out this way, or perhaps some rare Pokémon.  I walked and walked and walked along the beach.  My loan Avatar, the beach and me and nothing else.  No gyms, no Pokémon…not even a loan Zumbat to show its ugly face.  It was a barren new land. Where did all of the Pokémon Go?  Where were the Pokestops?  At first I thought I phone was broken, but my battery was running down pretty quick so I knew something must have been working.  Nope I was in the game,.  My personal heaven started turning into my Pokémon hell.  I just knew the team would be coming back to work on Monday showing off about how well they were doing and then asking me what level I was on and how I did over the weekend.  Things would have to change in my Pokémon world and soon.  It was now starting to make me look bad and embarrassed.  I had committed to play and my team knew.  Backing out know would make me look like I’d given up…and  I’m not a quitter!

So here I am, between Government meetings in Wellington with another of my team walking from meeting to meeting yesterday hunting for Pokémon.  Thankfully he was watching over my shoulder and telling me that I had just got eggs and I needed to incubate.  I did think that was a rather person statement until he then showed me I had a rather good prize waiting for me.  He swiped away on my phone and told me he had ‘incubated my egg’.  Awkward.  I was loathe to ask him how it would hatch until he told me I had to walk 10km.  For me as an endurance walker I will have no problem.  I was however concerned about a number of others in my team- could they or even would they walk 10km to hatch a virtual egg? 

The answer appears to be yes.  I got a few of them to check today how far they had walked since playing the game on their phones.  I asked 7 people who played- some had been playing for the entire 21 days and others only 2 weeks.  Over the 7 people, they have accumulated a walking distance of 334.5km.  OMG nearly an average of 50km per person!!  Some playing on average for 1 hour a day with others up to 12 hours per day.  This is highly impressive for a bunch of IT guys who usually do their gaming sitting behind some big screens from the comfort of their chairs at home!

I always cringe when I travel about my phone battery running low as I usually have to make calls between meetings, check emails and look things up online.  Yesterday I found a whole new way to run down my battery.  Playing Pokémon Go saw me use up the last 26% in about 30 mins flat hunting for Pokémon.  Its actually the first time I’ve asked a Taxi driver if I could plug in and charge my phone on the way to the airport.  Knowing my colleague was sitting in the back catching Pokémon on the way back on his phone while mine was dead clearly made me once again look like a Pokémon Novice and out of my depth with this game.

I did however have one up as I had a PowerBank in my handbag in case of emergencies.  Yes, there I was at Wellington airport listening to my colleague telling me I should be catching Pokémon.  This was the time to use the emergency PowerBank.  So there I was, in high-heel boots walking around Wellington airport catching Pokémon trying to look like I was actually reading email or doing something equally as important….

This evening, one of my team even showed me his setup to go Pokémon hunting.  He brings his MacBook with him with his phone plugged in and walks around Auckland, on a Friday evening with this setup.  I just hope he ends up with both his iPhone 6 and MacBook after he's been down those dark alley ways hunting Pokémon this evening……

I also raised the question with my team- have you thought about privacy?  Today at lunch I was sitting down and had a look at Pokémon Go.  To my surprise I was actually sitting in a Gym.  I entered and I could see other yellow team players in my virtual world.  Steven1275 was there.  As I looked over a few tables I realised in my real world there was another Pokémon player.  I would be anything his name was Steven.  I was a little horrified to realise that my Pokémon identity was being exposed in that way.  Thankfully when I registered for the game I decided I also saw it as a marketing opportunity for my new Start Up business- FindMyStudy and I registered my player as this name rather than my own.  The team laughed at me until I explained my rational.  I also pointed out that other players could see their identity of what they had set.  Some of the boys told me they had chosen girls identities so they would be fine.  Apparently for some it’s a gamer thing- as if you are staring at a screen for hours on end its better to be looking at a member of the opposite sex…OK, got it!  I’m guessing a few of them will be trying to reset their player name this evening!

 So the question is Pokémon Go or Pokémon Stay?

Here are the pros and cons as I see it, especially from my position:

Pros- Pokémon Stay:

·         Team Dynamics: Encourages fantastic team dynamics and closer relationships between colleagues

·         Improves Geographic Knowledge: Gets people understanding the geographic regions more and helps when staff have to drive to clients or work appointments

·         Encourages Team Work: When Pokémon hunting its an unwritten rule that you help show others nearby or with you to show where the good Pokémon are.  This is a great trait for my team to have and I love seeing this unfold in both the workplace and through Pokémon Go

·         Exercise & Fresh Air: People are outside walking around for kilometres in the fresh air- such a fantastic health benefit, especially for those in my time who don’t exercise much.

·         Meet New People: It encourages my team to meet new people and talk to them when Pokémon hunting.  This is something they can sometimes have problems with in a business environment when meeting new people so gives them more practice talking to people they don’t know for the first time.

·         Compassionate/ Caring Attitude: Encourages a ‘how are you going’ behaviour and interest in what others are doing and where they are it.  Colleagues are asking colleagues what level they are on and if they need to know where rare Pokémon are found.  This is great for all but I especially think it is great for those who suffer Mental Health issues- people showing others they care.

·         Inclusiveness: The game is inclusive.  Even those in my team who are new to each other or those who are shyer than others now have a common ground and get excited sharing tips and tricks.  This helps with their working relationships and confidence.

·         Creates a Project Focus/ Team Goals: Pokémon go is able to be used as a comparative in a working sense about all working together to meet a common goal- catching Pokémon together or completing a work project or Sprints together have the same things in common.

·         Effort = Reward Mentality: Walking 10km to hatch an egg to get a good prize also shows that to get something good, effort must be put in to get the best rewards.

·         Learning to be Patient: Pokémon hunters know that the rare Pokémon are hard to find and sometimes you have to wait and keep trying to get the good ones. Another handy trait to have in this instant world we work in.

·         Being observant: is also important as a Pokémon hunter- you need to know what's around you in both the virtual and the real world to do well in the game.  This is also an important trait in business and certainly helps in our team.

·         Listening to and taking advice and feedback from others:  I have watched may of my team offer advice on where the best Pokémon or Pokestops are.  We always try to encourage a constructive feedback loop in our office and this is certainly helping in both the office and the Pokémon world

·         Improves Memory:  Pokémon definitely improves memory.  Knowing where the Pokestops are that will give you eggs will help get you further, and you can keep refuelling.  This is also an important trait for business.  Remembering places and names will get my team far in their work life. Its just annoying that the Pokestop closet to our office is also the one that’s closest to my desk out the window!

·         Phones are charged: Keeping phones charged and with them at all times.  This is something we have had issues with in the past with staff’s batteries running flat at critical times at work.  Thanks to Pokémon go, phones appear to be well charged at all times.

·         Encourages team to be Social and network.  We try to encourage our staff to network with others outside of the office environment so that their people skills improve.  Pokémon gets people out and about in close range of others, it encourages social behaviour.

·         Problem solving: One of my team has even worked out a way he can code a robot to beat the game.  Thankfully he's decided not to do that.  I still admire the problem solving attitude.  Something we praise in our office.


Cons- Pokémon Go

·         Addiction and Compulsiveness: I asked those in the office who thought they were addicted to Pokemon Go.  This averages to 20% of the team.  A worrying statistic.  Some even asked me what the definition of addiction was.  They then decided that they were addicted as they thought they were unable to stop playing at will.  I said I would challenge one of them to stop playing the game from this evening until Monday morning.  He simply said ‘ you know that’s not going to happen’.  This is a worrying negative of the game.

·         Decrease in Productivity.  If people are not talking about Pokemon go, they are playing it.  Even taking a toilet stop now appears to be a reason for some to divert to the otherside of the floor to visit a Pokestop.

·         Office Conversation is one sided: The old water cooler conversations now seams to steam around Zumbats and Pidgey’s or Magikarp and Phyhorns.  Not very inclusive for those who don’t know Pokemon Go.

·         Focus is diverted Many a computer screen around the office seam to have maps up with people trying to work out their next plan of Pokemon hunting and where they can go to capture rare or large volumes of Pokemon.

·         Time Waster: There seams to be little point to the game and the consumption of large amounts of time for no real benefit, only kudos

·         Waste of Money: Some of the team here have actually paid money to buy additional things to give them more power or help them achieve further.  It might only be $24 now, but it could end up being $100’s later or worse $1,000’s.


In summary, my call is Pokemon Stay.  I’m sure like any other fad, it will simply be that but one that I don’t think I will forget in my lifetime.  I’ve seen my team grow closer together in the working environment because of the way the game bands them together outside of work.  Anything that improves people’s relationships and gets them exercising in a heathy way is a plus in my books, this far outweighs the one-sided office conversations or temporary diversion of focus.  If you are tempted to play however, watch out its addictive and you are going to need a good on the go phone charging source!  If you don’t want to play, I know of a good place where there no Pokemon or Pokestops and it has the most beautiful sunsets I have seen in the world- my little slice or heaven and my escape from all things Pokémon.

Ultimately the choice is yours, I’d say its at least worth a go so you can form your own opinion like I have.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

When Cancer Looms- Kick it to Touch!

I've recently acquired a new hidden talent.  I'm really good at growing pre-cancerous polyps in my bowel.  When the doctor told me after my recent colonoscopy that I would have had 1-2 years before they would have turned cancerous, I wasn't surprised.  Thankfully they were removed at the time they were found, but I'm now on an Annual screening programme.  I do feel guilty however as these polpys take 8-10 years to develop, meaning my busy life saw me flitting around for years making this a low priority when I should have paid way more attention to a 'pre-cautionary colonoscopy'. 

I had in fact already been given a referral form some 3-4 years earlier but didn't bother going past putting the form in my hand-bag.  Guess I thought being a fitness instructor who maintains a healthy weight and has a good diet and doesn't eat much red meat was good enough.  Wrong.  I never had any symptoms either, although thinking back I wonder if what I thought was 'having eaten something bad' was actually the start of a symptom....who knows!

I guess I always knew it would be a possibility as my father had Bowel Cancer at the age of 36 and had a large chunk of his bowel removed. I was told that my brother and I would need to be screened at a young age because of Dad.  My Dad's still around today - thanks to modern technology and cancer screening procedures like the Colonoscopy. I'm also lucky to have dodged a bullet -this time round at least.

I must admit, even though I'm generally a positive person- this has affected me.  I spend a large portion of my spare time googling to see if there is any way to stop the darn things growing, because yes, they come back.  Unfortunately, my type of Polyp- Sessile Serrated Adenoma/ Polyp was only discovered in 1996.  And worse yet, it appears to be relatively rare compared to others. On the plus side, I'm now a walking Wikipedia on polyps!
The only thing I've found so far which has been proven to help is to take high doses of Asprin...but that has other side effects.  Why is there not more Cancer research being done!

I think though that although you might have to live with things like this, you also have to evaluate what's important to you in life.  I've chosen to 'Kick mine to Touch'.  I'm also using my drive and ambition to push for Genetic testing for my family so it can help research and help others.  After-all, I'm the 4th generation in my family to have the darn things!  I'm on a 6 month waiting list for the genetic testing.  I can't wait to contribute to helping find a cure for this nasty Cancer.  I'm not one to just sit back and say 'poor me'.  Nope.  I've been pushing my family to get checked (another one has been found to have polyps and had to have them removed since I went in).  I'm also pushing for the testing so we all know what this hereditary cancer actually is.  It makes me feel good that I can contribute in some way to Cancer research and I'd love to think that perhaps my family can contribute to finding a cure- at least to this type of Bowel Cancer.

I did have a few moments of clarity going through this when I realised that my result could have been much worse.  I was then digging through my hand bag looking for those 'other' referral forms that I'd been sitting on.  My gosh- I've been poked and prodded in so many places now in the past month that I think I'm running out of places to be poked and prodded in!

I've also been very open with the staff in our office.  I told them I was going for a Colonoscopy, and I also told them the results.  It was really neat to have the conversation about genetics and finding a cure for cancer.  We also discussed the moral dilemias around genetic modification.  I have found out that with some forms of genetic bowel cancer, that if you choose to have children, through IVF, you can have the faulty gene removed so the next generation doesn't have the defect.  I just think that is such a gift of modern science to do this.  Others in my office thought it was morally wrong as you may modify other cells which might have a different impact.....

When I told my Dad that from the reading I'd done that it appears that he had past on his damaged DNA to me, he turned to his friend standing near me and said 'I think I must have damaged my DNA when I rolled the tractor all of those years ago' and laughed.  Its that spirit we all need when we have cancer in our lives.  He's still smiling and he also had 8 stents put in his heart in December last year- apparently his Cardiac Heart Disease is also genetic....hope I didn't inherit that one too with that faulty DNA!

In my moments of clarity, I did stop to think, if I do have problems when I go back in a year, what do I want to achieve or do with my life from now until then?  If you only had that short amount of time.  Interestingly, my thoughts were not as I excepted.  I am already fortunate to spend the time I desire with my family and friends, although I'd like to see my Australian family a little more.  The one thing I really wanted to do and achieve was to see my start-up company- Find My Study successful.  Some people may think this is an odd thing, but for me, this is something I feel I have been working towards my whole career.  It ticks so many boxes for me.  I can do social good, I can change the world, I can help others, I can make money (hopefully!) and I can do something innovative and different in a sector I've been working in for most of my career.  I then decided once I've done this and have made enough money to have a sustainable business, that I would like to push more for research in the cancer space.  I'm far too young to be thinking about cancer! But sadly this is the reality for so many people.  I'm one of the lucky ones- modern technology allowed me to have the fast track to cancer stopped, just imagine, only 50 years ago or even less, people in my position would have died from this dilemma.   

My advice to you all is to get your checks done.  Don't put these things to the bottom of the list like I did because you are 'too busy'.  Without your health you have very little.  Make it a priority and Kick those worries to touch!