• Kim F Vaughan

Three things to make your world better

It's a while since I made any recommendations, but I want to share the love about three things that have made me smile recently!

Two books and a website - one fiction (just), one fact, and some yummy food available online. These recommendations come to you as pure as the driven snow, with no benefit to me as a result - other than the joy of sharing!

If you want to avoid some of the horrors of Qualityland, you can buy the books from a local bookshop in the UK (or US) via Bookshop.

Qualityland - Marc-Uwe Kling

The first book was sent to me by my friend Maggie in Norwich. Set in the future, it paints a picture of what life might be like when algorithms rule and AI is the norm. This book appealed to me straight away as I spent nearly two decades working in the Quality department of a major pharmaceutical company. If you sliced through any of us, you would see 'Quality' running through us like a stick of rock.

Once I started reading, I was made to think about the algorithms that tell me what I might like to buy, listen to, watch or wear next, and the social groupings that ensue when our social media posts gradually polarise us into groups of agreeable nodding dogs.

I agree, it DOES save me time by editing out the many, many things of absolutely no interest to me. But the floods of 'you may also be be interested in.....' messages that follow are irritating, and the need to rate every interaction (and justify those ratings) make me furious. If I receive excellent service from a real person, I will go out of my way to thank them, of course. Then, my view holds some value.

This book is a traditional tale of a hero fighting injustice to overcome wrongdoing as well as a moral warning to watch out where we are heading. It reminds me that it wise for us all to remember that our views and preferences need to be challenged by diverse conversations and opposing views to keep our choices conscious and our connections real and vital. I am being more thoughtful already about the consequences of my choices. And still chuckling about the story.

Surrounded by Idiots - Thomas Erikson

Talking about challenging our views, we all need to be able to understand each others' points of view better. When I am stressed, I recognise it by the frequency with which I find myself accusing all those around me of being idiots, so I was immediately drawn to this book when it was recommended by a colleague.

You may have encountered the colour insights model of categorising human behaviour but no worries if not. In short, we all have a blend of four types of behaviour in us, each given a colour identifier. Understanding this blend in yourself is very handy, since knowing how you work and what you need helps you to be clear about what you want.

But even more useful if you are able to put yourself in someone else's shoes so you can resolve conflict, or call them to action, by making your case in a way that meets their needs. There is no point simply shouting louder at someone who needs to have some detail. Or expecting a team worn down by lockdown to dance onto centre stage full of enthusiasm for your new vision.

The subtitle of the book is 'How to understand those who cannot be understood'. It is an amusing read and a great introduction to colour insights, and will help you make sure the idiot out there isn't you!

Victuals Online

victuals\ ˈvi-​tᵊlz \ plural - supplies of food; provisions

One of the joys for me during the last couple of years has been the connections I have made through various networking groups. I have been supported through highs and lows , and have been able to support the achievements of others who have written books, set up new businesses, made career changes and won awards.

A couple of weeks ago, I was sent a link to Victuals Online by one of these lovely people. Victuals is an online food hall specialising in new and emerging brands who share a passion for great tasting food and drink that is made as naturally and as sustainably as possible.

Their ethos is carried through to their packaging and materials, which are all designed to be reused or recycled. In addition, they are signed up to Offset which allows them to offset the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the shipments that they send.

If you like to eat or gift yummy things made naturally and sustainably, or you have your own food line and looking for another outlet, I can recommend you take a look at this website. By the way, they are offering a discount on your first order!

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