Category Archives: Personal development & HR

Summary of (my) 2016

Brief recap of my 2016. (1)

In the last year recap I mentioned about the coming 2016 that it would “include the welcoming of the baby, an early trip to Brazil, lots of flying and running, Dutch lessons, some books to read, museums to see, trips to enjoy…“, it is now the time to see how did it go:

The main event of the year: On April 3rd, our second child, David, was born!

collage_mallorca_2016

Having said that: the personal objectives for 2016 have been mostly accomplished. Now, let’s review the year in more detail.

Reading. I ended 2015 with a good reading pace of about 2 books per month, which I more or less have kept or revamped during 2016. This has permitted me to read up to 33 books, including some classics which I had wanted to read for ages such as Don Quixote or “The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money” by Keynes. For the complete list of books, see a post I wrote about my 2016 reading list with a brief description of each book plus links to more thorough summaries which I wrote in the blog for some of them.

Avgeek. This year we visited again the Ailes Anciennes in Toulouse for one of their Visites Cockpit, we visited again the Cite de l’Espace in Toulouse (for Airbus Christmas event),  we took part again in the aeroclub Christmas event, I read a few aviation books (see a link to the complete list above) and we attended the great air show at La Ferté Alais, where I got my baptism aboard a Junkers Ju-52. On top of that I spent weeks folding paper planes, take a look at them here.

Playing 1

Flying. After obtaining the licence at the end of 2015, in this 2016 I passed the exam to obtain the FCL055 English proficiency for radio communications. I fulfilled my objective of flying over 20  flight hours (+22), including 22 take-offs and landings, and we made a few flight excursions (see the new section about them in the blog here), notably my first cross border flight with Asier to San Sebastian.

2016_flight_hours

If I recall it well, this year  a few friends and family members had their baptism regarding flying with me at the controls: David, Elena and Nacho. I am sure that in 2017 that will be the case with some more friends. See below the nice video that Nacho compiled of our flight last October (see his blog post about that experience here).

Learning. This year, I took Dutch lessons at the Goethe institute during the first quarter (a gift from Luca) which I interrupted with the birth of David. I have recently engaged in an open online MOOC specialization on Data Science from the Johns Hopkins University in Coursera, of which so far I have completed a single course out of the 10 which form the complete the specialization. As part of Airbus-internal training I completed over 10 class and online training (the best one being on aircraft performance and how they are flight tested).

Family 2.0. Family life and intensive reading during this year are the main causes of having managed to just write 61 blog posts in 2016, 9 posts short of my personal minimum target of 70 posts. Hopefully, I will be a bit more productive on this front in 2017.

The blog received just over 44,000 visits in 2016 (less than in 2015 though) and is close to reaching the 300,000 since I started it in 2010. Andrea still hasn’t yet started her own blog, David neither. Give them a bit more of time.

Travelling. This year we, the family together, or I alone, visited Madrid, Brazil (Sao Paulo, Pantanal, Santos), Castro Urdiales, Burgos, Miranda de Ebro, Trevino, Segur Le Chateau, Paris, Fontainebleu, Bassoues, Lupiac, Cazaux, Fuenterrabia, Denmark (Odense, Legoland, Kronborg, Copenhagen), MallorcaIreland (Dublin, Glendalough, Kilkenny, Cashel, Limerick, Moher, Galway, Connemara, Bru na Boinne). On the other hand, this year I almost didn’t have to travel due to the job: just a single trip to Madrid.

denmark

It seems that we will start strong in 2017 on the travelling front, that is always good news.

Sports – Running. For yet another year, practicing sports has meant running, apart from a day in which I went skiing and another of playing volley and some swimming during our stay in Mallorca.

dublinmarathon5

In 2016 I have run well over 2,100 kilometres, which was a goal I set to myself at the beginning of the year (setting a new yearly record surpassing the 2,030 km achieved in 2015). I competed in some 10 races (versus 11 in 2015) including: 2 marathons (Albi and Dublin (where I managed a second best time in the distance)), a couple of half marathons (Blagnac and Toulouse ), a couple of trails (Ronde des Foies Gras and Trail du Cassoulet) and some other 10k races.

Following a mantra I keep to letter, “the running shoes, always in the suitcase”, the year 2016 caught me running in: Pantanal (3 times), Sao Paulo (3), Castro Urdiales (2), Burgos (2), Lacs de l’Essonne, Paris, Montesquiou, Torrelodones (7), Copenhagen, Mallorca (4), Verfeil, Mauvezin, Glendalough, Cashel, Galway, Dublin, Madrid (2), Beauzelle, plus the tens of times I trained in Toulouse, Colomiers and Blagnac.

2016_weekly_mileage

 

Other reasons for joy in 2016 have been:

  • My family: Andrea and I visited my sister in Denmark in August in what was our first daughter & daddy trip together(see related picture above). My sister got accepted to an internship at NATO in Norfolk (USA) which she will start in 2017.  My brother keeps enjoying the high pace job at the last stages of A400M deliveries (we will visit him again there in Seville in a couple of months). My father started attending the university again, 50 years later, to enjoy history lessons. My mother keeps being as energetic as always doing massages, visiting the family, travelling, reading, etc.
  • Some more friends got married: Carlos, Virginia, Jon and Domingo.
  • And we welcome some newborns from family and friends:  Saúl (in fact, his was a last-minute arrival in 2015), Maria, Toni, Pablo, Jimena, Niels, Diego, Alejandro, Hernán, Lara, Vera

Now it’s time to rest, celebrate and soon to plan how we want the 2017 to turn out. It will include the first flight of the A330neo, the first all-family skiing week in the Alps, a new attempt at the marathon in Seville, a family trip to Argentina, lots of flying and running, R programming lessons, some books to read, museums to see, trips and excursions to enjoy… For now, I will close 2016 celebrating my sister’s birthday (in the distance), running the San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid with several friends and enjoying a last dinner with the family.

I wish you the best for 2017, enjoy it!

dsc02237

(1) You can see here my 20102011, 2012 , 2013 , 2014  and 2015 recaps.

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Musings on objectives setting

A few days ago, I had a short Twitter exchange with a couple of friends on  objectives. Sara mentioned that she was not setting objectives for the New Year. Nacho made a point of my objective tracking approach, which I detailed in a post in the blog back in 2011 (Personal mid-year review). Unfortunately (or fortunately) I do not follow such a thorough approach anymore (1), though I do set myself some personal yearly objectives, have them noted down, track them, etc.

In that post from 2011, I made reference to a previous post in which I commented on a HBR study and a post post by Sid Savara. The main takeaways from those readings were: have the goals in written, have plans towards achieving them and share the objectives with someone (at least with someone you have confidence with, not necessarily with everyone!).

In this post I quickly wanted to share some examples of the objectives I set to myself (2):

  • Reading: as I mentioned in a previous post in which I shared a summary of (my) 2015, I set myself a minimum objective of reading 10 books a year. I do not read any book for the sake of meeting the objective. It is rather that I have dozens of very much dear books in the shelves waiting to be read and I keep buying (and grabbing from my parents’ home) books that I think would teach me something or add some value. Ideally, I would like to read about 2 books a month. That would make over 20 books in a year, however, during some periods along a year I read less often, I found that I am not that fast reader (in English and French and neither in Spanish!) nor all the books that I pick are that easy or short, so I linger every year around the 10 books. Do I share the objective? Up to now, not explicitly, though I force myself to write at least a yearly post commenting the books I have read… thus, I do have to read them! Follow up: it is not very structured, though I know at any moment the books I have read along the year (I keep a record) and every now and then make some numbers of pages to be read per day, per week, in order to complete this or that book at a given point in time.
  • Writing: here I always remember a tip from Conor Neill, a professor at IESE, who says that we should strive to write something everyday, at least 500 words (see the blog post where he explains the benefits of doing so, Writing to reflect. Mindful leadership). In my case, apart from job emails, files, presentations…, I do not write (and reflect on) for this blog (or any other format) on personal interests everyday. Ever since I started the blog, back in February 2010, I intended to write regularly. What does that mean? Initially I aimed at publishing 8 posts per month, I lowered this target lately to about 6 posts per month. That would make about 70 a year. In 2015 I just met that target. Previously I had always been above 80 posts. See below the monthly production.

Blog post per month

Blog post per year

  • Speaking: on this front I was very consistent when I joined Toastmasters in December 2007, trying to give a public speech every two months. I kept being quite engaged until more or less mid 2012. I then dropped Toastmasters until I re-engaged myself in mid 2014 at the corporate club of Airbus in Toulouse. I am now trying to figure out the pace at which the club attendance allows and I am able to prepare myself to speak often (by speaking I refer to giving prepared speeches, as every two weeks in the club almost everyone gets to speak either with a role of evaluator, in table topics, etc). Thus, a vague objective (speaking regularly), not quantified, not yet in written, though shared.
  • Flying: for this objective scheduling is key. As I mentioned in the post where I shared my path to the private pilot license (PPL), it took me 4 years to obtain it mainly due to the difficulty in finding slots. From March 2015 (once I had passed the theoretical exam) I was more rigorous, always trying to have at least two slots scheduled with the instructor and airplanes booked at any point in time. This enabled that, even if many slots had to be cancelled due to weather conditions (or any other issue), I was more regular with the flying, I managed to obtain the license and fly over 19 hours. For the 2016, the goal is clear: to fulfil the requirements to maintain the license, that is 12 flight hours with 6 take offs and landings in the last 6 months prior to the license expiry date. On top of that, in order to carry passengers it is required to have completed 3 take offs and landings in the previous 90 days. Thus, the requirements by law help you in aiming at flying often. On the other hand, I was trained to fly on Robin DR 400 airplanes and another objective I have is to learn to fly another model, Diamond DA20 in order to have more flexibility with the scheduling of airplanes and be able to fly oftenhow often is often? At least a flight per month (ideally 2), about 2 flight hours a month… this objective, then, is well followed up with the aeroclub scheduling tools, navigation logs, etc.
  • Running: with the running I have many and varied objectives. From running (e.g.) 2,000 km in a year, to completing at least 2 marathons a year, to beating personal best times (PBs) in different distances (10k, half marathon and marathon), to other miscellanea objectives (e.g. running x days in a given week, y kilometres in a given week or month, running some special race, running a number of days while on holidays…). For the completion of marathons and aiming at PBs I do schedule training plans at the online tool provided by Garmin (the provider of the GPS watch I use). Thus, the objectives are clearly defined, shared (with Luca, colleagues, in social media) and well followed up.

And it is here that I wanted to stress on the definition of the goal, its writing and its sharing. I will take the objective “running 2,000 km”. In 2014 I started to publish online in Twitter regularly both the goal and how I was progressing.

With the online tool I have the objective clearly written down and tracked, I know whether I am ahead or behind, the weekly or monthly mileage needed to attain the goal, etc. The sharing of the goal in my inner circles helps with the finding slots to run. The sharing of the goal more widely encourages and pushes oneself. See below how I reached the objective in 2015. You can see that while the training towards Seville (February) and Madrid (April) marathons lasted I was well ahead the reference. After those marathons took place I fell behind, even if I only fully stopped for a week after Madrid marathon. I kept running below the reference weekly mileage until the end of June, when I was 70km behind… I then subscribed for Millau (September) and started building up mileage for it, then extended the training up to Toulouse marathon (October), stopped only 3 days after it and, since then, I always was around or over the reference to attain the goal (even if I had to stop for over a week at the end of November due to a cold that got me down with severe throat ache).

Running mileage 2015 progression

***

It is clear that each one has a different approach and there is not a single one that fits us all. Many will not want to be constrained by fixed goals, nor be reminded of them by having them written, even less sharing some goal they are unsure to meet, not to talk about publishing it on social media! This is just how I go about trying to meet some personal objectives.

(1) At least not for every objective and plotting a global indicator.

(2) These goals are easy to share others are kept in the inner circles.

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Summary of (my) 2015

Brief recap of my 2015. (1)

In the last year recap I mentioned about the coming 2015 that it would be “a year full of personal and professional changes, with plenty of learning opportunities, kilometres to run, marathons to enjoy, airplanes to fly and flights to catch, museums to see, books to read, trips to make and parties to enjoy“. Let’s see:

Family..

Family.

The main events of the year:

  • We are expecting a second child! (a boy)
  • I switched jobs (always within Airbus).
  • I passed both theoretical and practical exams and am now a private pilot!

Having said that: the personal objectives for 2015 are fully accomplished. Now, let’s review the year in more detail.

Avgeek. Believe it or not, this year I visited as many zoos than aerospace museums. But this is only because Andrea is as keen on seeing animals as on seeing airplanes. We visited the museum Espace air passion in Angers, the exhibition Pasion por Volar at ABC museum in Madrid, we visited Ailes Anciennes in Toulouse. Together with my engineering school colleague Serna and thanks to the kindness of several work colleagues we visited several of Airbus facilities in Toulouse (including simulators, telemetry room, iron birds, A380 FAL, etc).


DA20Flying
. As mentioned above, this 2015 has been the year in which I passed both theoretical and practical exams and finally became a private pilot! I managed to complete some 16 flights totalling over 19 flight hours33 take-offs and landings and including 5 solo flights (see here an account with my path to the PPL) and 2 flights already as captain (alone and with the family).

If I recall it well, this year only my former colleague Ruth had her baptism regarding flying with me at the controls. I am sure that in 2016 that will be the case with many more friends.

On top of that we made an unforgettable excursion with my friend Rapha and other colleagues from the Aviation Society to visit the Castles of the Loire Valley. We were about to make another one to Menorca island, but the weather forced us to cancel that one at the very last minute.

2015 Flight Hours.

2015 Flight Hours.

Reading. This year again I didn’t set any objectives in terms of number of books, but I only prepared a shelf with a selection of about 20 books that I wanted to prioritize. I started well the first month and finished the year at a decent pace  of 2 books per month, but reading “The spirit of Saint Louis” by Charles Lindbergh took me ages. In the end, together with that, I read 11 books: “Profiles in Courage” (by J.K. Kennedy), “El arte de ser padres” (by F. Dodson), “El general en su laberinto” (by G. Garcia-Marquez), “Diary” (by Anne Frank), “Pensar con Arte” (by M. Conthe), “España 3.0: Necesitamos resetear el pais” (in Spanish), “Lee” (by D. Southall Freeman), “Common stocks and uncommon profits and Other Writings” (by P. A. Fisher), “The gospel of wealth and other timely essays“ (by Andrew Carnegie), “Vol de nuit“ (by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry). See a post I wrote about my 2015 reading list.

Learning. This year, I have not taken any online open MOOCs but plenty (10+) of Airbus internal online trainings and some class ones (People make the difference (↑), Finance for non financiers (↓, too basic)).

Since switching jobs in July I started using French continuously at work (which wasn’t the case before even if working in France!). In 2016, what I will take on (again) is Dutch, this time joining a small group of students to get formal training!

Family 2.0. Despite of the family life and different changes, I managed to write just about 70 posts, though a bit less regularly. The blog received just over 45,000 visits in 2015 (less than in 2014 though) and is very close to reaching the 250,000 since I started it in 2010.

On top of that, Luca created a new professional website to offer her services as a lawyer in France (take a look here). Andrea hasn’t yet started her own blog.

DSC_0124Travelling. This year we visited Sevilla and Madrid (to take part in both marathons), the Loire Valley, stayed with friends for a week in Mallorca, made an escapade to San Sebastian and Biarritz to meet our friends from Brazil, made a 2-week tour around Spain (covering Madrid, Ubeda, Baeza, Sevilla, Huelva, Merida, Madrid, Valencia, Gandia, Murcia, Barcelona… driving some 4,500 kilometres in those two weeks). We visited the Netherlands (three times, about a week each time). Made some more escapades to Andorra, Montauban, Montpellier, Nimes, Arles, La Camargue, Millau…

Again, those were the leisure trips; on top of that, the job made me go to Madrid another 10-12 times (?), that made it tiresome and difficult to combine with other things but gave my plenty of opportunities to see my family, friends and to run in the Retiro park… however, that changed since I switched jobs in July 🙂

Sports Running. Again, this year, apart from a day in which I went skiing and some more of swimming, what I did was basically plenty of running.

DSC_0177In 2015 I have run over 2,000 kilometres, which was a goal I set to myself at the beginning of the year (setting a new yearly record surpassing the 2019km achieved in 2013). I competed in some 11 races (versus 9 in 2014) including: 3 marathons (Madrid (my 3rd participation in it), Toulouse (my second) and Sevilla (where I had the bitter experience of quitting for the first time)), another 100km-long ultramarathon (Millau again, this time with Jaime), a half marathon (Blagnac, where I set my new personal best time in the distance!), a trail (Ronde des Foies Gras, with a new personal best time) and some three 10k and the Course the Noel in Toulouse over 8.5 km.

Following a mantra I keep to letter “the running shoes, always in the suitcase”, the year 2015 caught me running in: Wijchen (10 times), Sevilla (4), Mallorca (6), Madrid (5), Gandia (3), Torrelodones (6), Andorra (1), Millau, Mauvezin plus the tens of times I trained in Toulouse and Blagnac.

2015 running monthly "mileage".

2015 running monthly “mileage”.

Other reasons for joy in 2015 have been:

  • My family: My sister completed her internship at  the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence (in Vilnius, Lithuania), then moved back to Madrid and she completed her thesis for the master she did in Odense (Denmark). We had the pleasure to have my mother again for a couple of weeks during summertime, when she found the time among the many clients of her massaging operation (here). My brother switched jobs and is back in Seville enjoying the high pace job at the last stages of A400M deliveries (we both visited him and had him visiting us in September). My father, enjoying is condition as retired, is ever more engaged with luncheons, conferences, reading, re-learning about electrical motors and construction activities at home.
  • Some more friends got married: Loreto and Jose.
  • And we welcome some newborns from family and friends: Martin (in fact, his was a last-minute arrival in 2014), Tim, Felice, Vera, Amelie, Victoria, Elena…

Now it’s time to rest, celebrate and soon to plan how we want the 2016 to turn out. It will include the welcoming of the baby (“two is more than the double of one” they say), an early trip to Brazil, lots of flying and running, Dutch lessons, some books to read, museums to see, trips to enjoy… For now, I will close 2015 celebrating my sister’s birthday, running the San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid with several friends and enjoying a last dinner with the family.

I wish you the best for 2016, enjoy it!

Flight 2015.11

(1) You can see my 20102011, 2012 , 2013 and 2014 recaps.

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30 years of AEGEE

AEGEE stands for Association des États Généraux des Étudiants de l’Europe and it is the largest trans-national, interdisciplinary student organisation in Europe. You can find here the Wikipedia article about it and here the organisation’s website.

I was a member of the association from 2000 to 2005, while I was studying at the university. So were my brother and sister, and many friends. A couple of days ago, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary since the creation of the organisation, one of these friends, Juan, shared a reflection along the lines: of the many things that I have stumbled upon in my life, the one which changed it the most was AEGEE. He talked about learning, volunteering in associations, taking part in youth councils, meeting friends, organizing events, learning or practising languages, and experiencing what Europe is, beyond stereotypes. I subscribe his reflection word by word.

I have written over 500 posts in this blog and I now realize that I hadn’t yet dedicated a single one just to AEGEE. This is it.

I joined AEGEE in the spring of 2000, after having read an article in a university newspaper talking about the Summer Universities. I applied for one of those summer events in Istanbul. There I spent 2 weeks with about 30 other students from Slovenia, Croatia, Yugoslavia, Poland, The Netherlands, Austria, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Spain… that experience was life changing, as you read it.

In the following 5 years I took part in another couple of such summer universities in Croatia and Macedonia. I helped to organize several others in Madrid and The Netherlands (and I casually visited some more). I took part and organized several student’s exchanges under the European Commission’s Youth Programme. I took part in the large event Youth 2002 in Denmark. I travelled Europe from one corner to another. I met friends from the several countries with which today, 10 to 15 years later I am still in contact with, many of which I have visited along these years. I made a couple of round-Europe inter-rail trips. I crossed borders on foot, car, bus, train, boat and planes (we even unknowingly crossed some former minefield in the border Macedonia-Kosovo). I learned that not all countries have as dialling out code the 00. I slept in trains, hunter’s cottages, train stations, airport toilets, planes, buses, gyms, students’ dorms, boats, friends’ homes, and even some youth hostels and hotels (and, of course, the house of AEGEE’s Comité Directeur in Brussels). I met Luca in late 2002, who I married in 2013. Surely, I got my parents’ suspicious of the association and they seeing it as a source of distraction from university studies (it was). But as my friend Juan mentioned: it’s not much of an exaggeration if we say AEGEE might be the thing that has changed my life the most.

If you have been raised far from Europe, it may have had no impact on you. If you studied in Europe, the chances are that it had, even if you had not yet realised about it. Take the Erasmus programme just as an example, from its Wikipedia site:

By the time the Erasmus Programme was adopted in June 1987, the European Commission had been supporting pilot student exchanges for 6 years. It proposed the original Erasmus Programme in early 1986, but reaction from the then Member States varied: those with substantial exchange programmes of their own (essentially France, Germany and the United Kingdom) were broadly hostile; the remaining countries were broadly in favour. Exchanges between the Member States and the European Commission deteriorated, and the latter withdrew the proposal in early 1987 to protest against the inadequacy of the triennial budget proposed by some Member States. However, AEGEE, the Association des États Généraux des Étudiants de l’Europe, persuaded French President François Mitterrand to support funding for the Erasmus programme. In the next few months a compromise was worked out with a majority of Member States, and the Programme was adopted by simple majority in June 1987.

In 2005 I also took an Erasmus grant to complete my final career project at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH Aachen).

AEGEE was born in 1985 out of the EGEE 1 conference (États Généraux des Étudiants de l’Europe) held in Paris in April 1985.

In 2003 while travelling to The Netherlands with a Youth programme students’ exchange, my brother, some friends and I made a stop in Brussels. My friend and then AEGEE-Madrid president, Javier, and I wandered through the files of AEGEE-Europe office and made some copies of old press’ articles. Among them the one you can see below of that EGEE 1 conference in which the problem of students’ exchanges was discussed.

EGEE 1

Coverage of EGEE 1 conference by Le Monde (April 17, 1985).

May this post serve as a first homage to AEGEE and to all the members who sustained it through these first 30 years. And if you are a university student, the chances are that in your town there is an AEGEE antenna; check it out and join it, you won’t regret it!

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Goals Gone Wild

In these first months of the year many teams in many firms have gone or are going through annual interviews and goals setting for the year 2015.

Last week I read an interesting Schumpeter column in The Economist, “The quantified serf: Management by goal-setting is making a comeback, its flaws supposedly fixed”.

The article mainly covered two issues: one was the newest trend in goal-setting, “quantified work”, as promoted by BetterWorks, whereby employees collaborate in setting objectives for peers. This apparently improves performance and transparency. The article cautions, however, that rewards should not be linked to these goals and that an attainment of 60-70% of goals set in this way should be viewed as normal rather than failure.

The second issue covered by the article was side-effects of goal-setting. The article introduced the paper “Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Over-Prescribing Goal Setting” [PDF, 500KB] by Lisa D. Ordóñez, Maurice E. Schweitzer, Adam D. Galinsky and Max H. Bazerman. In this post I wanted to comment on this paper.

Published in 2009, the paper makes a review of literature on goal-setting and even if admitting that studies have demonstrated specific and challenging goals can improve performance, it concludes that:

“For decades, scholars have prescribed goal setting as an all-purpose remedy for employee motivation. Rather than dispensing goal setting as a benign, over-the-counter treatment for students of management, experts need to conceptualize goal setting as a prescription strength medication that requires careful dosing, consideration of harmful side effects, and close supervision. […]”

Before reaching to that conclusion the paper examines several aspects of goals and why they may produce harmful side effects; to name a few:

  • When goals are too specific… people overlook other important features of a task. As an example the authors provide the case of the Ford Pinto, about which I wrote a post in the blog long ago.
  • When there are too many goals… individuals are prone to concentrate on only one goal.
  • When the time horizon is inappropriate… may harm the organization in the long run. Think of quarterly reports and companies trying to beat analysts’ estimates or their own guidance. That is why Coca Cola ceased to provide quarterly guidance back in 2002.
  • When goals are too challenging… they may shift risk attitudes, promote unethical behaviour. An example given describes how Sears’ automotive unit set a target of fee to be charged to customers. This triggered that employees started charging for unnecessary repairs to customers to meet the goals!
  • When goals are complex, specific, challenging… they may inhibit learning.
  • Goals may create a culture of competition instead of cooperation.
  • Goal setting increases extrinsic motivation… and thus can harm intrinsic motivation.

Linked to the message given in the conclusion (“experts need to conceptualize goal setting as a prescription strength medication that requires careful dosing, consideration of harmful side effects, and close supervision”), the authors also propose the following warning signal and a check list to be used when setting goals.

Goals Gone Wild Warning Signal.

Goals Gone Wild warning signal.

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Summary of (my) 2014

Brief recap of my 2014. (1)

In the last year recap I mentioned that in 2014 I wanted to give it a try to the processes’ approach at the time of setting goals. Trying to introduce new habits, settle others, etc. I started very focused: waking up earlier, studying Dutch first thing in the morning, arriving at the office earlier, training at lunch time, getting back home earlier, playing with Andrea, spend some family time, read and study at late evening/night. Some of the habits have stayed, some others not, and I have taken new ones along the year… let’s review the year.

The main events of this year:

  • AndreaFFVFRLuca passed the exams to become a lawyer in France, found a job in a law firm and finally sworn before the court as a lawyer.
  • Andrea… many events in her front. From the first flight with me at the controls in February, to her first steps in the summer, to travelling first time to Africa and America…
  • We moved houses, though still living in Toulouse (from the flat in Saint-Cyprien to a house in Sept Deniers).

Avgeek. The stage we had in Paris for Luca’s exams allowed me to visit the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace (Le Bourget) and to get to know the airfield of Issy-Les-Moulineaux. Our escapades to the Pyrenees made us discover Musée de l’Aéronautique of Luchon. The more recent trip to the USA allowed us to visit the Dayton, where the Wright Brothers originated and the National Museum of the US Air Force, for which I still have to write about, but you can see my brother’s post on the museum. We also had the chance to visit the Francazal air show.

VitrineThe moving to the new house gave me the opportunity to find a well deserved location for the model collection.

Flying. Apart of the mentioned first flight with Andrea on board, in this 2014 I managed to complete some 17 flights totalling almost 15 flight hours, 30 take-offs and landings and including 5 solo flights (one of them a navigation flight).

????????????????????????????????Not only Andrea had her baptism regarding flying with me at the controls in 2014, but Juan, Maicol, my mother, my sister Beatriz and brother Jaime had theirs too! Despite some exercise-related incidents (including a runway excursion, through during a solo flight), I am sure they enjoyed it and the experience made it to their 2014 memories.

Since the progress was good, just before the summer my instructor mentioned the taking of the exam! But first I had to pass the theoretical part, which I had postponed so far. I did a first attempt in November in which I cleared half of it, next attempt in a couple of months. Then, some more flight lessons (not having flown since September), flight hours and start thinking on the practical exam!

FinMarLearning. The balance between family, hobbies and work is always tricky. This year I started strong studying Dutch which I dropped after 3 months, and in the second half of the year I had to put hours to the study of the PPL theoretical part (in French), with partial success.

In between, I completed some other online courses (MOOCs): The Age of Sustainable Development (Columbia), An Introduction to Operations Management (Wharton) and Financial Markets (Yale). In parallel, I completed some other very interesting in-company trainings on Airline Engineering and Maintenance, Management of Conflicts and Time Management.

Reading. This year again I didn’t set any objectives in terms of number of books, but I only prepared a shelf with a selection of about 20 books that I wanted to prioritize. In the end I read the following 10 books (about half of them from the selected shelf):  Hot, Flat, and CrowdedThe Roaring NinetiesEl amor en los tiempos del cóleraThe Early History of the AirplaneSeeking Wisdom: From Darwin to MungerWhat management is, Sycamore Row, The Racketeer, Micro, Crime and Punishment (in Spanish). You can find here a brief review of each of them and references to longer reviews I made about them in the blog.

Family 2.0. Despite of the family life and different changes, I managed to write just a bit over 80 posts. Plus the blog received over 80,000 visits in 2014 (a 60% increase in relation to 2013) and is very close to surpassing the 200,000 since I started it in 2010.

On top of that, Luca went forward with her own blog, check it here, Jaime launched his new blog (with especially interesting post on aerospace topics!) and my mother launched a website to promote her therapy business (Terapias ArcoIris). I wonder whether Andrea will start a blog before speaking or writing! (2)

DSC_0161 - CopyTravelling. This year we visited Paris for a week (first time in Versailles and in the château de Chambord for me), made 3 escapades the Pyrenees (with Luca and Andrea alone, with my family and with friends), visited again the United States (NY and some new places for us: Boston, Gettysburg, Dayton, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia – with over 2,100 miles driven and 8 different hotels in less than 2 weeks!) in a very entertaining trip with lots of learning opportunities and experiences, the Dordogne, spent a half resting half discovery week in Mauritius, flew to the Netherlands (3 times, a week each time), five days in Sicily (Siracusa, Milazzo, Taormina; incredibly beautiful places) and these last days of the year in Madrid.

????????????????????????????????Again, those were the leisure trips; on top of that, the job made me go to Madrid another 20-25 times (?), that made it tiresome and difficult to combine with other things but gave my plenty of opportunities to see my family, friends and to run in the Retiro park…

Sports – Running. This year, due to the young age of Andrea, we did not manage to go skiing. We neither played some golf as we wished we had to, nor gave it a try with soccer. What I did was basically, guess… running.

In 2014 I ran well over 1,900 kilometres, which was a goal I set to myself at half way through the year (when I had completed just over 800). As I wanted to reduce the weekends’ agenda, I competed less and just took part in 9 races (3) (versus 16 in 2013) including: 2 marathons (Rotterdam and New York, both under my previous personal best time!), 2 half marathons (Blagnac and Toulouse, no personal best here though), 3 10k‘s (all of them under 45’, with two consecutive personal bests!) and a couple of trails: Cassoulet and Foies Gras. As you read, in 2014 I achieved personal bests in marathon and 10k thanks to the different training plans I combined (more variety), which was great. I did not so in half marathon, I think in 2015 I’ll try to improve the 3 marks.

IMG_0219Following the sentence “the running shoes, always in the suitcase”, the year 2014 caught me running in: Wijchen (9 times), The Hague, Rijswijk, Sevilla, Rotterdam, Paris (x6), New York (x2), Milazzo (x3), Montauban, Mauritius (x5), Madrid (x16), Dayton, Colomiers, Benasque, Barakaldo, Allentown, Verfeil, Mauvezin… plus the tens of times I trained in Toulouse and Blagnac.

This year, apart from the races, I managed to train plenty of long runs: 11 over 20km, including 6 over 25km and 2 over 30km; and did plenty of series’ sessions (too many to mention). That contributed a lot to the improvement of my times.

Other reasons for joy in 2014 have been:

  • My family: My sister moved to Odense (Denmark) to study a master in International Security & Law  (you can follow her in her blog), and once the classes were completed moved to Vilnius (Lithuania) to make a stage at the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence. We had the pleasure to have my mother over for a month in July-August. We enjoyed 2 weeks of holidays with Jaime in the States, apart enjoying several runs with him. My father is ever more engaged with NGOs teaching classes to disfavoured people in Madrid.
  • Some more friends got married: Alessandro, Erik, Simone.
  • And we welcome some newborns from family and friends: Guillermo, Cas, Nils, Amelie…

Now it’s time to rest, celebrate and soon to plan how we want the 2015 to turn out. It will again be a year full of personal and professional changes, with plenty of learning opportunities, kilometres to run, marathons to enjoy, airplanes to fly and flights to catch, museums to see, books to read, trips to make and parties to enjoy.

For now, I will close 2014 celebrating my sister’s birthday, running the San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid with several friends and enjoying a last dinner with the family.

I wish you the best for 2015, enjoy it!

(1) You can see my 20102011, 2012 and 2013 recaps.

(2) I have to confess that at some point I considered the idea of opening a blog for her to register each of her flights… I dropped the idea, because I was incapable of registering all the desired data of so many flights! [over 20 flights in 2014 alone for her]

(3) That figure excludes the San Silvestre Vallecana that I will run the afternoon after this post is published.

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Weapons of mass miscommunication

With the advent of the Internet, the email has become one of the main ways of communication both in personal and professional environments. I won’t deny the simplicity of conveying ideas, instructions, files, etc., in an email. However, I have often referred to emails as weapons of mass miscommunication.

What do I have in mind when I state that? Emails that need several clarifications, wrong interpretation of emails either or both in the spirit and the letter, emails that go unnoticed, emails that waste reading time of too many people, etc.

While reading “Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger”, by Peter Bevelin, I thought of another good weak point of emails when reflecting on the following passage on the disadvantages of scale in large institutions:

[…] as you get big, you get the bureaucracy. And with the bureaucracy comes the territoriality which is again grounded in human nature. And the incentives are perverse. For example, if you worked in AT&T in my day, it was a great bureaucracy. Who in the hell was really thinking about the shareholder or anything else? And in a bureaucracy, you think the work is done when it goes out of your in-basket into somebody else’s in-basket. But, of course, it isn’t. It’s not done until AT&T delivers what it’s supposed to deliver. […]

(excerpt from the Lecture by Charles T. Munger to the students of Professor Guilford Babcock at the University of Southern California School of Business on April 14, 1994)

SendThink back of emails and how often we may think that some piece of work is completed when we have clicked on the “Send” button. But it’s not. Not only the work might not be done, but the communication might not even have taken place even if we think so. And it will not happen until the receiver at the other end of the channel has gotten the message and gone through it. Then, the above-mentioned criticism to emails apply (unclear message, clarifications, wrong interpretations…). Thus, no matter how much effort it costs to us breaking the inertia and comfort of our quiet work place, it is much better to accompany an email with a quick immediate follow-up phone call ensuring that the communication actually happens and explaining what is expected from the receiver.

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