The quest for self improvement


The last assignments for the year have been submitted and now it’s time to put the feet up until Feb with the knowledge that if I walked away now, I’d stroll away with a diploma in applied business.

LawsNot a bad effort some someone who has only studied the Laws of Cricket and his naval in the last 15 years.

The diploma does not go on my resume though. Unless I walk away from study. If, well actually when, I stay on to study next year I will complete the associate degree in applied business so despite the fact I’ve done enough for a qualification, I don’t get it because I want something better.

Isn’t that always the way. Something better on offer so we have a crack. I don’t like the idea of settling for what I have. Take our residential status at the moment for example. We rent a nice house in a great area within a school zone which works well for our kids. That doesn’t mean we will be there forever, we plan to buy/build a house within the same school zone. We want bigger and better and we do things that make it such.

There are also jobs. I saw a shiny opportunity last week and had a crack at a position as a secondment as media coordinator for the Hobart Hurricanes WBBL team. This was a prime job, a three-month contract and the chance to revert to working with match official when it was all finished. I missed out on the job to a guy who was a lot more qualified than me. I’m not snakey about it at all and reflecting on it, I was lucky to have been given an interview. This would not have happened had I not been doing this course as the key selection criteria were all things covered in the last 12 months.

The idea of self-improvement and self-reflection is a great one when something comes to an end, like a school year, but it also gives you the chance to look forward.

To quote Johnny Cash from a concert at the Paramore Theatre in New CashJersey in 1990 before he played his classic Sunday Morning Coming Down.


“Reflecting back on where I’ve been is important for me to do sometimes because I don’t want to lose track of where I’m trying to go.”

This time of the year gives us all a chance to reflect with family and friends and set new goals. Not New Year resolutions because they inevitably fair because no forethought is put into them. They are a wish-list rather than goals.

The reflection part is a key component of self-improvement. So why not have a look at these four questions about self-improvement in a reflective and objective manner.

  1. How much have you done this year?
  2. How did this help you in your life?
  3. What do you want to do next year?
  4. Can what you’ve done this year be worked into what you want to do next year?

For me, we will be with family this Christmas and over as quiet stubby will get the chance to talk about what we have done over the last year. This to me is the greatest opportunity to self-reflect. you can use any number of self-reflection or self-assessment tools but a simple chat with a family member will tease out more information than you realise.

What other reflection can you do over the holidays. I know I will be reflecting at a river Grandad Fishingsomewhere fishing with my kids that way Grandad taught me to fish.

The river is my happy place through any meditation that I do and going down there gives the opportunity to slow down, fish, eat sandwiches and all in a place with no mobile phone reception. Heaven on earth.

Finally, thanks to all the people who have read my blogs of the course of the last 12 months. They have been read in 23 countries as far flung as Kenya, the US, PNG, Kuwait and Sri Lanka. I plan to put pen to paper during the school holidays so I won’t disappear even though Uni has finished for the year. There is still heaps of cricket, family and general topics to cover in the break.
Please, leave e a comment, reblog or a simple like if you have enjoyed what I’ve put oput this year.
I have really enjoyed writing for you all and hope you will follow me into the new school year in 2018 where we can share the experience of completing the associate degree in applied business.


Love what you do

There is that old saying that if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life.

Well, I think I’m living the dream.

I’m not one to brag much about my job. I’m a sports administrator working for a State Sporting Organisation. On second thoughts, maybe I do like to brag because my job, looking after cricket umpires around Tasmania, can be summed up in one sentence.

“I go to work, talk about the game I love all day, go home and some bugger pays me to do it.”

I know it’s not that simple and there as aspects of what I do that drive me batty from time to time but it’s day’s like today when I really see the high points of working in sport.Twins 2.JPG

As I type, I’m sitting at one of the best cricket facilities in Tasmania, the Kingston Twin Ovals, watching future test hopefuls from Tasmania and a combined Cricket Australia XI playing as part of the CA Under 19 Male National Championships.

My role is Match Manager, or as I like to think of it, match trouble shooter. If there is a problem, teams and match officials come to me to sort it out. My job today has been made a lot easier because of the leg work put in by CT/CA staff who set the carnival up and have it to the point where teams can just play. Which is what they are doing. The CA XI won the toss and batted first on a hard deck that saw 538 runs and a tied game here yesterday.

So, what is the uni angle to this blog you ask? Well I’m glad you asked.

This year, which is almost finished, I have stepped into further education, something I never thought I would do and discovered that my career professionally has had the opportunity to develop along with my knowledge of business and marketing. With each module I complete, I become a better employee.

I’ve touched on work integrated learning in a previous blog but this week have looked back on previous jobs I have had where this knowledge could have made me, not just more employable, but a better contributor to a business and maybe more likely to stay in a job.

Snuffo, my nine-year-old son (his real name if Stirling but he snored from the day he was born and wound up with this nickname), and I were talking about places I have worked since I left school having not completed year 12.

Pivot.jpgBefore we knew it, we came up with the number 18. That is 18 different workplaces in 16 years. Not a good number really. This can be attributed to a couple of factors. My mental state before I turned 30 and barely having a qualification to fall back on. All I mustered in terms of qualifications were a forklift ticket, Cert II in Irrigation, Cert II in customer service, Cert II in bar operations and a responsible service of alcohol ticket. Nothing to hang my hat on and nothing that was going to get me a job that would challenge me mentally and keep me gainfully employed.

But then came along the Associate Degree in Applied Business specialising in Sport, Recreation and Leisure. Something I was genuinely interested in and a course that could help me progress my career working in a sport which my love of outlasted one marriage.

This course gave me the chance to investigate the business of sport and the marketing of it, with a special focus on the business of cricket umpiring. I’ve only just scratched the surface of the umpiring aspect but have, serving two masters, produced two recruitment campaigns using the knowledge I’ve gain through the course.

Case studies have been written, cost benefit analysis scenarios have been run and talking with experienced people in marketing have allowed me to come up with plan to recruit new umpires based on marketing a certain demographic, something we have never tried before.

This course has empowered me to know that I can study and make something better of myself. I never knew it at the time but in the days of jobs lasting six months or less, I was setting myself up to fail. I did gain valuable experience in a lot of fields but that doesn’t make you employable. Experience in certain fields makes you employable and hard work you put in to personal development makes you retainable. Not indispensable, nobody is, but a valued employee which provides stability for your family.IMG_9737.JPG

It has also given me the confidence to look at a three month secondment within CT to work in the media team. Remarkably, the position description mirror what we have done in terms three and four of this course.

The score has moved on to 4/83 from 21 overs here, Tassie have pegged the CA XI back in the last ten overs. I’ll go back to my tough as nails job of watching and administrating cricket interspersed with working on my last uni assignment of the year. 

Tough times hey!

Who pead on the floor?


What do you know about peas?

They are green, Poms like them all smushed up, Queenslanders like them in pies and it’s funny to say one of your kids pead on the floor when they drop one at the dinner table.

I can go along with the first point, mushy peas are not good and as for Queenslanders, they need their heads read.

I knew bugger all abPeasout peas apart from the fact that Grandad’s were always the nicest and that the fill out a nice risotto if you are looking to sneak some vegies into unsuspecting kids.

The purpose of this blog, while it is not an assessment piece, is to reflect on an exercise we did as part of the costing a feasibility course which is a subject of the UTAS Associate Degree. We met at Elizabeth Town in Tasmania’s North, we randomly allocated a group and a business problem and given two hours to run a cost benefit analysis and present to industry experts on our findings.

First point – I don’t know a lot about peas but in true Leonine form I threw my hand up to be the one doing the talking when the industry experts turned up. This meant I had to gather as much information in the small period of time available to be able to give a believable presentation that industry experts, Tim and Sue, would find relevant to their field.

Second point – My team was great. Mady, Harry, Mel and Nathan all brought something to the group which helped us reach a consensus in relation to the topic and come up with a team answer to the problem presented to us.ETC.jpg

Third point – If ever you are ever at the Elizabeth Town Café, get your chops around the chicken and camembert pie. I must have had about 20 of these over the years and they never fail to impress. They are that good that even if you slop some down your shirt you can comfortably take your shirt off and lick it clean. Not that this happened last week but, well, yeah. This is not a paid endorsement.

So, taking these points into account, was the day a success?

Yes. In a word.

We revised some stuff around SWOT analysis, covered off some basic feasibility gear and then got into our project of working out if it is cost effective to grow peas with rows spaced at 13 cm, achieving the target set by the TIA on 100 plants per square metre by the year 2020.
This was a great project. Harry, in the team, had a lot of experience with peas which helped us a lot and we were able to use his knowledge to gather information on the subject.
When we got to the point where we were due to hand down our findings, the group pulled together really well to come up with what I was to present.

Then came the moment I was hoping for/dreading at the same time. The group trusted me to present.

At first, I thought our presentation was going to be in front of up to 40 people. This was blown out of the water when we were told it would be just the team, two industry experts and our nice tutor Sarah.

What was I to do? I planned for a big presso. So, thinking on my feet, I dragged a couple of tables together and created an informal atmosphere and presented in that manner. This worked well. Tim and Sue were able to ask questions of the presentation and the group without that barrier of pontificating from on high.

It was a great day and a ripping way to be taken out of my comfort zone.

Sorry, I’m still laughing at people peaing on the floor!

Appreciative Inquiry and Positive Reflection


Appreciative Inquiry.

What a great concept!

Using positive cores to promote change rather than identifying holes or problems in a negative manner. It’s something that came up during the course material for ZAA113 spawning this blog.

In most forms of self-assessment or self-reflection there is a large degree of negativity as we try and identify what went wrong, didn’t work or could be done better. This works for some but, as we know, different people have different learning styles. I favour appreciative inquiry and reflective spiral as forms of assessment.IAAF World Championships in Athletics 2009 Berlin - 100m Men

To put it into context, the world record for the men’s 100m was set at 9.69 seconds at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games by Usain Bolt. It broke the previous record by a very narrow 0.03 seconds which was set two and half month earlier.
Twelve months to the day after setting 9.69 seconds, Bolt lined up in a meet in Berlin and ran the almost super human time of 9.58, smashing the record by 0.11 seconds.


In his self-reflection, following setting the fastest time of all time and breaking the record by such a big margin, did Bolt reflect that his 23rd stride was a bit short or did he write something along the lines of “be still my throbbing member I took a tenth of a second off my mark!”?

Much at the same with Brian Lara who became the first batsman to score 400 in a test innings against the Poms in 2004 at the Antigua Recreation Ground. Did he celebrate his achievement or go with something Brian Laralike “263rd ball faced was an inside edge that end for four, should have played it through cover?”

Relating this back to the questions posed in the course material, we have been asked to identify a career or personal highlight in our lives that we can associate with leading change or introducing an innovation.

I’m not a big innovator but I do have experience in change.

Working for a mum and dad company who had two arms to their business I was in a managerial role looking after the finance of the two arms.
One was a manufacturing arm employing four full time staff, three of them apprentices and the other was a transport concern run almost solely by the lady who owned the business, working herself into the ground to the point of ill health.

The manufacturing arm was losing money. To try and address this I lead a charge to find out what the actual cost of production of one unit was. This showed that the cost of producing one unit was greater than the sell price. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to realise that this was unsustainable. The only reason it was alive when I landed there was the transport arm was making enough money to subsidise the manufacturing arm.

After a lot of indecision and the prospect of losing an arm which was a key piece of the owner’s self-esteem, the decision was made to close the manufacturing arm and continue with the transport which was starting to grow its customer base.
As manager, it was my job to inform the staff, three weeks before Christmas, that they would not have a job when we came back from the festive break. A very tough day and it’s fair to reflect that I did have a beer that night.

This change did not come easy for the owners but I’m pleased to say, seven years on, the transport arm with became a sole trader is still functioning and the lady running it is gainfully self-employed.

The most meaningful part of this experience was the success of the transport company. A true cost of delivery was identified and an appropriate margin was devised that created a company that could sustain my full-time wage and give the owners a chance to work in something that they really loved. The key learning from this from my point of view was to view things objectively. It was a fact that the manufacturing arm was losing money. It was a fact that the transport arm was making money so an objective business decision was made.

The “root cause’ of the success was the owners love for what they did. They were both more than enthusiasts of what they were transporting, they lived it. Like I live cricket now. The success of the business came from the hard work, particularly of the lady owner, to grow a business that allowed them to work in what they love. It’s that age old saying, “love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’ve heard it many times but remember most clearly it being said by former Australian cricket captain Greg Chappell.Martin yan

It wasn’t just the owner’s passion for what they did, it was the hard work put in that was the reason they were the root cause of the success. Such was there desire to make this transport business succeed, particularly after the manufacturing arm fell over, was the dedication of the two. They spent every waking hour working to make the business better. They installed a mezzanine in their warehouse, sold all the manufacturing equipment to fund getting the transport business really singing and reaped the benefits of having policies and procedures in place which placed them at the top of their game in what was a niche market. They developed relationships with well-known transport companies in their chosen area and positioned themselves as the number one transport company for their product in Tasmania.

Harking back to the key learning of viewing things objectively has helped me in careers beyond that place of employment.
At university we are taught to think critically and objectively and this exercise in closing down a business was a great starting point that I have carried into my studies. The successful use of objective thinking has also helped me in my hobby as a cricket umpire. There is no room for a “sense of occasion Law” in cricket.
That is to say, a batsman is out if all the requirements for an LBW is met whether he is on a duck, 37 or 99. It is also useful is matters of player behaviour and applying a code of behaviour where a player is to be reported. We are trained to report the behaviour, not the player.

Positivity breeds positivity – now that’s something we can all reflect on.

Give ‘Em the Finger

Give ‘em the finger.


How much do you like ads?

My father-in-law hates them and can often be heard muttering “bloody advertising” after a goal is kicked in the footy or hitting the mute button so he doesn’t have to hear the latest offer from Harvey Norman, Harris Scarfe, Spotlight or any other company that constantly have “special” sales.

Which ads stick with you?

Sick ’em Rex –

For me, it’s the funny, slightly risqué or bloody annoying ad that stay in my mind.

So why don’t more companies do it?

Is it a case that if all ads were funny they would lose their edge?

With this in mind, that funny or slightly left of centre ads get remembered, I’ve been looking at the umpire recruitment campaign for 2018.

In the past we have produced posters, done some live radio on the ABC and placed editorials in local rags.

In 2017 we used social media for the first time but they all had the same message, “good cricket needs good umpires”.

There is nothing wrong with that message, but it takes time to become a good umpire. I’m edging slowly toward 50 First Grade games in the Cricket Tasmania Premier League and still believe I have a lot to learn to be a “good” umpire.

So, the message of “good cricket needs good umpires” is valid but I don’t think it appeals to a market that we neglect when we are recruiting.


Statistically, the average age of an umpire in the CTPL is 50. The same can be said for the State Umpire Panel.

So, it’s fair to say we need young blood. So perhaps a risqué/funny campaign could be the go.

In the unit Marketing for Business I’ve looked this and have come up with two things that have never been tried before in cricket umpire recruitment – cash and funny.

The cash angle has long been taboo because of the tax-exempt status of umpire’s match payments. This is because umpiring is considered a hobby, which it is for 95 per cent of the umpiring fraternity within Tasmania. We have never advertised that money can be made for fear the Australian Taxation Office will come down on us like the IRS did on untaxed money made by Al Capone.

Money can be made. I know of guys who have been on overseas holidays having saved up their relatively small daily payment for the course of a season. There are other who travel on the mainland, pay chunks of their mortgage or just enjoy having a little disposable income in the household budget.

So, let’s celebrate the fact that money can be made. Why hide from it? The AFL don’t.


The other angle is the most interesting as I am looking to buck the “pale, male and stale” vibe of cricket umpiring.

Anybody who has played or even watched the game know that when a batsman is given out, one finger is raised by the umpire.

In fact, the Laws of Cricket specifically state a batsman is given out “by raising an index finger above the head”.

Why not use this very simple act to our advantage?

Therefore, I propose using the phrase “Give ‘Em The FingerFinger edited” in our advertising material.

It’s dodgy, has a million connotations, is funny, is rude and is something that has never been tried before in umpiring, at least in Tasmania.

By doing something funny, it shows a human element to match officials, one that they like a laugh, enjoy what they do and don’t take life to seriously.

It is believed that younger people will be drawn to something that is fun, not necessarily a career path when they get into it.

Remember, there has been more people in space than there has been test match umpires.

A line such as “give ‘em the finger” also opens up a catch phrase that can be used whenever anybody thinks of umpires. The same way “Not Happy Jan” is thought of whenever somebody thinks of the Yellow Pages.

Not Happy Jan –


It’s an indelible mark that has the potential to be trotted out, not just within umpiring ranks, but among players and supporters watch everything from a C Grade game in the Burnie Cricket League through to the Boxing Day test when, hopefully, Joe Root cops one dead in front from Jackson Bird and is given his marching orders by the umpire without scoring.


Tell me what you reckon. Do you think this line is a winner or a bridge too far?


Do you have a better line? I’d love to hear it. Umpiring is not just to business of the umpires, but the players, club administrators, National Sporting Organisation, State Sporting Organisation and fans of the game.



Are You On The Punt?

This may get lost within the miles of column inches that get written today about a race that is considered one of the most important anywhere in the world.

Melbourne Cup day comes with a bit of a rider for me (no pun intended).Krusty

I used to love a punt and in a previous life would bet more than I had. I never got into the realms of owing money to outlaw motorcycles clubs or Fat Tony like Krusty the Klown but loved a punt.

I had varied success, usually loading up on multi bets, box trifectas and tri-wins. Dogs were good fun, betting on the number one dog in every race at a certain track on a certain night with no real science or system.

Those days are in the past and now I rarely bet, say for the AFL Grand Final, the odd lotto ticket, raffle tickets at the shopping centre and Melbourne Cup.

This year will be a little different. I won’t be having a wager.

This is not because of any earth-shattering event apart from knowing more about my mind and body and the risks that come with indulging in addictive behavior. I’ll let my involvement centre around the office social club sweep.


I’ve drawn the favourite in the sweep.

Apparently Marmelo is the horse to beat in the big race as 23 of the finest from around the world race around the track adorned with beautiful roses, prepared to perfection by a dedicated team of gardeners.

IMelbourne Cup.jpg watched a really cool piece on the preparation of the track, the inner irrigation technician in me was very interested, and discovered that even the dates of pruning, watering, amounts of water and dynamic lifter are worked out months in advance so certain types of roses are in full bloom on certain days like Derby Day, Cup Day and so on and so forth.

What I love most about the Melbourne Cup is how much of an Australian tradition it is.

Every bit as important at the AFL Grand Final, NRL Grand Final, Boxing Day test and Bledisloe Cup.

Australians have a habit, particularly in the mainstream media of over hyping events, athletes and label things “must watch”, “the most important” and “superstar”.

Recently a Richmond player I have never heard of hung his premiership medal around the neck of a topless woman and photos emerged causing a big stink. There was an investigation, phone records checked and eventually someone was deemed responsible.

The thing that really got my goat in this situation was the headline “Richmond Star named in Premiership Medal scandal”



When I was a young reporter working with The Examiner covering cricket and football in Northern Tasmania I had a great mentor named Terry Morris, now there was a legend, who impressed upon me the use of superlatives.Terry Morris
Terms like “legend” are to be reserved for Darrell Baldock, Leigh Matthews, Ted Whitten. “Champion” is to be reserved for people who won something, “Superstar” for the current best in the business (think Patrick Dangerfield, Virat Kohli or Ellyse Perry) and a “star” is someone who is not just run of the mill.

I would imagine this Richmond player would be just that, a player, maybe even identified by his position in the team, of which I don’t know because I have never heard of the so-called “star”.

The Melbourne Cup callers do a great job of calling this great race without the fanfare of misguided superlatives.

“Legend” would be Makybe Diva or Phar Lap, “Champion” is Media Puzzle, “Superstar”, although not racing in the cup, is Winx and “star” would be Marmelo (or so I’m told).

And as another horse gets written into the record books and is assigned a permanent place in Australian horse racing history and/or folklore, a new issue could be bestowed on another champion.

Much like Prince William was issued Duke of Cambridge when he married Kate. His issue of Prince of Wales was removed.

If you are on the punt today, good luck, I hope your horse doesn’t beat mine and you finish in front.

But as my Grandad said, “you never see a poor bookmaker”.

ZAA113 Assessment 1B

Assessment Piece ZAA113

As part of ZAA113 we were asked to put together a basic cost benefit analysis for a problem within a business.

Mine was very basic. Only four figures needed to help come up with a final indication of how the problem could be solved efficiently.

Using cricket umpiring (surprise, surprise) I looked at the cost of advertising for new recruits across three platforms to try and find which platform would be the most cost effective. The platforms at television, print media and social media.

Each platform had its own pros and cons but at the end of the study the spend in dollar terms and value was the driving factor behind coming up with figure to support the use of a certain platform.

The basic cost benefit analysis can be found at this link.

Option one was TV advertising.

It’s long been thought that TV is a very expensive way to advertise and to a degree it is.TV.png And without solid data on if an advertisement with a call to action like recruitment will work. Traditionally positions vacant are advertised online and via the newspaper. TV advertising was by far the most expensive in terms of an initial outlay but information from the advertising sales rep I spoke to gave me a reach figure of about 70,000 including a slot in Southern Cross nightly news. His campaign would run for a week for the figure of $2,500 all inclusive.

Option two was newspaper advertising.

A small ad in the posNewspaper.pngitions vacant section according to The Mercury Newspaper was $389. This was a small add which would have very little traction, lost in a sea of ads for wait staff, tradesmen and other companies looking for staff. In terms of bang for buck the best option would be to advertise on a page related to cricket, possibly beneath the scoreboards from the Cricket Tasmania Premier League in the Sunday Tasmanian. The cost of which would be about $1,500 with a reach of roughly 38,000 people. The biggest problem with this advertising is that it is not in our traditional advertising window of May/June when it is football season.

Option three is Facebook advertising.

This was by far the easiest platform and potentially the cheapest with tfacebook.pnghe potential to advertise for free with people sharing the ad and watching it, potentially, go viral. In my experience within the umpiring world, this rarely happens so paid ads or “post boosting” would be the option to use here. For a small outlay a small market would be reached. Facebook allows for targeted views for people who have expressed an interest in certain topics. For a “boost” of $2,500 targeting people who “like” cricket would reach approximately 40,000. This is not a bad return on investment in terms.

Cost per view.

The three platforms were rated on their cost per view.

Television – $0.04 per view based on $2,500 spend

Newspaper – $0.40 per view based on $1,500 spend

Facebook – $0.05 per view based on $249 spend


Based on the above figures television advertising, despite being the most expensive in terms of initial outlay, provides the best bang for buck based on cost per view.

That said, I firmly believe that a meme campaign with catchy pictures on social media has greatest potential for biggest views that could benefit umpiring nationally rather than just in Tasmania. You can view a campaign I put together but did not run at the start of this cricket season at the link below. Look for Meme Recruitment Proposal.

This was a good exercise to do as we have six months before we need to work on the next recruitment drive which will focus on recruiting big numbers knowing that for each game in Tasmania on a weekend, we need 290 umpires to cover them all so each umpire does one game only. Currently we have around 150.


If you have any thought son this, I’d love to hear from you. Is social media a better medium than tele? Is the good old newspaper going to attract more umpires?


You can follow these blogs by heading to the top of the page and clicking follow, be the first of your friends to see what is going on and be the first to be able to tell me what you reckon!