Today’s my first day back at work after a couple of weeks off, so August feels like it has been a month of two very different halves.

Snowdonian cycling, August 2021

The first half was spent working with colleagues on our company-wide change programme, bringing together many of our businesses into a single organisation under a new single brand.

We’ve got some very strong beliefs about the kind of progressive organisation we want to become, providing a very different experience of working with us for both our clients and our team members. Over time we’ll become one agile, progressive and integrated company, with full independently assessed B-Corp certification demonstrating our commitment to balance purpose and profit in all we do.

But the journey to become that company needs to be different to a traditional top-down transformation programme too. We need to take an iterative approach to change, being agile and responsive to the rapidly evolving world around us – while also staying laser-focussed on new and existing clients alongside the needs of our team members.

So it was from an intense first half of August that we then headed to Wales for two weeks holiday – staying in our caravan in Brecon for a week and then onto Snowdonia for a week.

It was really nice to switch off from work and spend proper time as a family together after a pretty intense period for us all. We did plenty of outdoor activities and enjoyed exploring new places too. We were lucky to enjoy a pretty much rain-free fortnight and the sun even shone in our second week.

Being away also meant plenty of time for reading too. I got through a pretty broad selection of three books while we were away.

One that I’ve wanted to find time to read for a while now was “NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently” by Steve Silberman. It’s a long and detailed read, spanning the early days of European and American autism research in the early 20th century, right up to emerging thinking and the neurodiversity activism movement.

I wanted to read this book as I felt I knew far too little about autism and the experiences of people with autism. In this context the book really taught me a lot and gave me plenty of food for thought at work and more widely. In particular it was fascinating to understand the drivers behind increased diagnosis of people on the autistic spectrum – the so-called autism epidemic.

The second book I read was “The Perils of Perception: Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything” by Bobby Duffy. This was a fascinating read looking at how our perceptions are repeatedly off the mark. Based on extensive quantitative research the book contains plenty of evidence about how we are wrong and thinking about why this might be the case.

I liked the underlying premise of the book and the evidence base on which it was founded, but I did find it a bit repetitive and thin on detail beyond the core premise that people think the world is different to how it actually is.

The final book I found time for on holiday was something completely different. Growing up in the 90s, DJ Carl Cox was a name that I knew well and my mixtape collection featured a fair few of his live sets. Earlier this month he published his autobiography “Oh yes oh yes!“. It’s an easy read and a fascinating insight into the world of rave and club music that I really enjoyed.

Today was my first day back at work and so I spent much of it catching up with colleagues and prioritising what I need to do in September. It was good to get back into things with a fresh and renewed perspective having been out for a couple of weeks.