John Hitchin is back to writing week notes after a summer break. This week he writes about pride in the team, being tired and ‘attacking’ the Autumn.

Silhouetted man runnng

I had a break from week notes, for a range of reasons. Not least that I needed a general break from things over the summer. But also, that I’m both getting tired of the format, and still aware that I enjoy the enforced reflection of the weekly rhythm. I’m dwelling on what to do with that, but have done a sort of summer wrap-up to get me going!

Pride

We were shortlisted as one of the Teams of the Year at the Social Enterprise UK awards, and I couldn’t be more proud of my colleagues.

It’s so nice to get the external validation. It feels like a big relief. *I* know how much the team has done, how they’ve adapted and responded, pulled together and grafted, iterated and supported each other. I know how they have built new things, met new needs, and grown areas of work during a lockdown. But when you’re sitting at home recording weekly videos to the team or talking to other colleagues one-to-one, you can sometimes wonder if anybody else sees it too.

Whether we win or not, I know that they have been an amazing team. When I look back at this time in my career in the future, I am as certain as one can ever be that the team spirit is what I will remember most.

But I’m tired

I have given a lot to work over the past 18 months, and have tried to rebalance that a bit this summer. But as any of you who have young children know, that can be no less exhausting. I’m coming back from summer not feeling rejuvenated at all, and that was made worse last week by being ill and run down.

I was feeling low and I had a big pile of work to push on with, but little motivation to do it. I also got really annoyed with the Nike story. I would like nothing more than to be able to give the Renaisi team a week off to acknowledge how tough the last year has been. It would be justified. But when you run a marginal business, working on social problems, and trying to behave responsibly in how you pay all parts of your supply chain, then it’s not so easy. A unilateral week off has lots of consequences to different parts of our work.

I hate the way the media latches on to these stories of organisations with an inherently exploitative business model, doing the odd good thing for a few people. I felt like I was failing as a leader by not offering the same when at the same time I knew that Nike’s holiday was only for head office staff. It would be like me giving a week off for 5-10 roles, but asking the rest of Renaisi to crack on.

These stories get to me when I’m feeling tired and down.

Now’s the time

As I look towards the autumn, though. I think now is the time for some big decisions. We’re moving into a new landscape, and we need to respond to that:

  • new partnerships
  • new contracts and ideas
  • evolving approaches to social change
  • but also walking away from things, as the world keeps changing.

I remembered a lesson from an old friend I used to run with in Birkenhead. He did Iron Men competitions and was a lot fitter than me, but we enjoyed doing long runs together. Before running with him I used to conserve my energy on the hills, and trundle up them slowly. But he taught me how to attack the hill. To run harder at the hardest moments.

If I’m going to shift from tired to action in the Autumn, I need to remember that lesson.

On my run home today, I’m going to attack the hill.

Reading, listening and watching

So much good stuff, so I’ll pick a few.

McCartney 3,2,1. If you like the Beatles, McCartney or just music in general, I’d highly recommend this. Paul McCartney talking to Rick Rubin about the bassline in Something in the Way She Moves is something else. Not quite as good as the bassline, but pretty cool.

I’ve been watching a lot of Serie A at the start of the season. It’s been a great start to that league, and fun to get into another football culture again. I used to religiously watch James Richardson sit outside a cafe, with a copy of Gazzetta dello Sport, doing Football Italia in the 1990s. I’m sure it’s why I ended up doing an MA in Italian history and studying in Venice. Anyway, it’s good to be watching Italian football again.

Vigil on the BBC is good. I’ve been genuinely enjoying that. It’s the kind of programme that I think the BBC is great at.

Michael Lewis’ the Premonition feels a little rushed compared to some of his other books, for understandable reasons given the COVID topic. But as somebody on Twitter once said, “I’d read that man’s shopping list”. His ‘ok’, is still worth your time.

I mentioned the Memory Palace podcast before. They’re not all great, but some of the episodes are just phenomenal. I really enjoyed the presenter narrating the Great Gatsby over the summer, and then the most recent episode on Jane Addams is great. An incredible way to learn about an activist and reformer who really did change the world.

John Hitchin CEO