When I turned sixteen, I dragged my post-punk façade to sixth form college to take my A-Levels, in the days when they were tough. In my Borough you went to a different college for two years after 16. Most of my high-school friends left to take up apprenticeships or went to work in Banks – the latter being very popular then. The college was in a slightly different part of suburbia to my high school, and so the gerrymandered catchment areas played a further trick on me. When I arrived, I virtually knew no-one. Being fairly shy, I struggled to find a place I was comfortable.
In the college common room was a record player, right next to a space named the Loony Corner, painted on the wall using a TRB-type stencil (for those that remember Power in the Darkness). The music that came out of the Corner was what I listened to when I went home. The people in the Corner wore a similarly lost type of clothing to me. Everyone there – my year, the year above and the year above them (ie the re-takes) – seemed to know one another. The humour and the banter I caught was my kind. Only, I sat in a different corner, listening and watching.
That was until one day I had simply had enough of my isolation. I went and sat in the Corner. There was surprise and puzzlement, but one by one those present talked to me, and soon realised I was okay. I was accepted, and became great friends with many of them. They inspired and motivated me through college. And we all went to watch the Damned whenever we could.
Last year’s Corner experience, and that which opened me up to social media and a world I now embrace, was the Tuttle Club – and for that I owe a huge debt to @the_anke. Recently, I hadn’t been for months and so went back on Friday of last week, to find those I spoke with as inspiring as always. I really do have the badge.
This year’s Loony Corner moment was attending the second connectinghr unconference, having quietly asked if it was okay for a non-HR person to be there. I plunged straight in by co-writing a song with the enormously talented @Dougshaw1 that was first performed at the event – as I had seen his song at the first event on the website.
In context, the property and workplace sector has been mumbling to itself for over fifteen years that it needs to develop closer ties with HR (incidentally, the same angst does not seem to exist the other way!). So, instead of listening to the hand-wrung bleating, I went and sat myself in the Corner.
Since then I have had some super banter on Twitter, attended the tail end of the third connectinghr unconference, written some more material with Doug, and enjoyed some excellent 1:1 discussions with some of the members of the community. Not being an HR professional, even though much of my work lies in this area, I still feel a little like a fringe member – but I have made the effort and will continue to do so. I am working hard for the badge.
The message? The reward comes from taking part. And to take part, you have to get off your arse.
Happy New Year.