All posts by Guest Poster

Let’s Carpool takes off

It’s been a while since I wrote a post here…it’s good to be back! Since I last wrote I found myself a sweet job as a Sustainable Transport Planner at Greater Wellington and am able now to do lots of good stuff, instead of just asking other people to do it.

One part of my job is promoting the Let’s Carpool website that was launched  last May in the Wellington Region. Over the last few weeks I’ve been getting my head around exactly what the programme does and what makes it different from other carpooling programmes. Luckily for me, I think it is pretty impressive with some very grunty software behind it that does a number of cool things. Not to mention that it’s New Zealand’s most popular commuter carpool programme.

Not only do you get a map of your commuting route with all the potential carpoolers located on it, it gives you the ability to really personalise what you want. You can state if you don’t want smokers, if you just want to travel with people of the same gender, only fellow employees, or with people that are within 1km of your home intersection. It’s a powerful programme and it works. People who are making trips like Karori to Lower Hutt or Island Bay to Porirua who realistically don’t have many options other than the car, can now share their costs with others going that way. 

Currently we have 1400 people using the website and a recent evaluation gave us positive results but also some good ideas for where to now. The most important thing is getting more people using it…obviously that’s the key ingredient for making sure everyone has a possible match. We seem to have passed a kind of tipping point in about March so that now its pretty rare for a person with normal commuting hours to not find at least someone going that way. But the more the better!

If you’ve got any great ideas for us about Let’s Carpool please let us know…either here or you can email me at claire.pascoe@gw.govt.nz. I’m keen to hear marketing suggestions, technological suggestions (given a very modest budget), and any other type of suggestion you might have.

Good Karma Project

Another guest post. I am currently in Melbourne in a state of overdrive. After months of drifting around the world, eating, biking and visiting friends at a leisurely pace, its now time to enter the real world. And I seem to be entering it in with a bang and a sudden rush of inspiration and ideas that make it hard for me to concentrate for more than about 36 seconds.

But it has made me appreciate when good ideas and projects should be supported and Patrick Shepard, a fabulous and incredibly talented Scot who can basically claim to be a Kiwi now if he wants, is in the process of implementing one. This is what he is up to:

“It’s called the Good Karma Project and it sees myself and a friend heading to Thailand, near the Burmese Border, to volunteer with a charity called Children on the Edge. For six weeks, we will work with Burmese refugee children, teaching them photography, writing, and art. At the same time back home, we will commission Kiwi artists to create works of art based on the stories, photos and artwork of the children. This work (along with the children’s) will be exhibited and sold in Wellington next year at a kick-ass exhibition. All proceeds raised from the event will be sent straight back to the children to provide crucial welfare aid and supplies.

The Good Karma Edition of Exposure Lifestyles will showcase the trip, the children, and similar creative advocacy work being done across New Zealand. There will also be a documentary made and screened at the exhibition opening.

We need your help:

  1. Donate: “The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.” Check out our donation suggestions below. Every bit pushes the project forward!
  2. Share: Please forward this email on to anyone you think might be interested in this project. Knowledge is power people.
  3. Other projects: If you know of other advocacy projects going on in New Zealand, we’d love to feature them in the Good Karma Edition! Check out this example for the types of projects we’re talking about, King Kapisi and Teremoana Rapley are working as ambassadors for these guys: http://www.tinytoonescambodia.com/

DONATION DIET

We realise it’s a recession and we understand that sometimes it’s hard to give a little elsewhere when you’re struggling to make ends meet. That’s why we thought we could suggest some ‘donation diets’ where you sacrifice a few of the creature comforts you’re used to for just one week. We will be forever grateful!

The $10 Donation Diet

INSTEAD OF: Catching the bus every day to and from work when you live near the CBD. ESTIMATED COST = $10

HOW ABOUT: Setting off 20 mins earlier and wandering along Queens Wharf to and from home. You’re sure to happily bump into someone on the way home that you’ve wanted to catch up with. ESTIMATED COST = Priceless.

GOOD KARMA DONATION: $10

The $30 Donation Diet

INSTEAD OF: Dinner for two at that nearby restaurant ordering Tortellini and Lamb Shanks plus a bottle of wine to share. ESTIMATED COST = $61 dollars

HOW ABOUT: Takeaway pizzas and a six pack of Pilsners to share under the setting sun on Oriental Parade. ESTIMATED COST = $31

GOOD KARMA DONATION: $30

The $40 Donation Diet

INSTEAD OF: Getting wasted at a local restaurant/bar and buying those rounds of drinks nobody needs at 3am. ESTIMATED COST = $68

HOW ABOUT: Bring back the house party that weekend, cook cheerios and nuggets and consume a sophisticated dozen+ and legitimately dance on the tables. ESTIMATED COST = $28

GOOD KARMA DONATION: $40

An ENORMOUS thank you to all those who have already given a little! Check out our Give A Little site to donate by credit card and spread the Good Karma love. If you’re not a fan of the plastic or would like to donate a larger amount, please email me back and we can tell you other methods.

Can you make tea?

You might think this looks professional, but we were actually charting Kelle's family tree

You might think this looks professional, but we were actually charting Kelle's family tree

I have been worried about Nat ever since I have left Wellington. Who makes the breakfast in the office each morning? Nat assures me she makes her own, but I’m not convinced. I am very sure nobody is now offering to make tea or coffee at 11, and what really keeps me awake at night is that they probably no longer have ANY Irish tea left!

I think those were my major contributions to Nat’s office when I was there, though I did occasionally chip in with some advice (mostly unsolicited) and assistance where I could. I wasn’t an employee, I was just the Irish guy that showed up one day looking for an office to work out of. Nat being Nat, she innocently agreed, despite the “No Boys Allowed” sign hanging off the door.

Now that Nat has two empty desks in her office, I suggested she think about offering them out under a co-working arrangement. Essentially that is what I was doing at Decisive Flow and I have previously done co-working in Dublin too. At the moment I am working out of an office in Adelaide in kind of similar circumstances (albeit in an office with two Greek-Australians who perform “financial services” – it is all a bit odd). I guess I am a modern day techie-gypsy.

Co-working is a great way for a freelancer like me to hop from country to country and get to know others, bounce ideas, and generally have another human to talk to during the working day. If I could sum up the advantages of co-working up, I would say it brings to mind an afternoon in Decisive Flow where Nat, Lance Wiggs (who was working from Nat’s couch that afternoon), and myself were crowded around Emma’s computer, discussing her latest design for a site, what we liked and disliked etc.The number of people offering constructive opinions is doubled, but without doubling your workforce.

So, I have offered to write this post to see if there are any techies out there who might be interested in keeping an eye on the ladies now that I am gone. Despite the sign on the door, she will *grudingly* allow boys into the office. Just be aware you will be the one making the tea!

PS: But I know she would be even more eager to hear from female techies: ladies may not even have to use tea to bribe their way in!

A guest’s view on customer service

I have been bestowed with the huge honour of writing a guest post. I could have written about Swine flu. Or maybe my pending overseas journey for which I am rather unprepared. Perhaps I could have offered my take on exercise regimes, a topic which seems to attract wide interest. But, given the general marketing tone to this blog, I’d like to describe my recent dealings with a local computer company.

I have a MacBook which is about 2 and a half years old. It’s battery recently died so that when the power cord was removed the computer shut down immediately. I figured that I had got a pretty good run out of my trusty Mac and was ready to fork out the $240 to get a new battery to keep the little guy pumping for a couple more years.

I had been recommended Toucan computers from a friend and went down to see if they had any batteries in stock. Rob went out the back and concluded that it was indeed the battery but instead of selling me a new one, offered to sell me a second hand one for much much cheaper. Given my current attempt at saving, this was very well received. He sold it to me and said to come back if it didn’t seem to be working.

I tested it this morning and got 2.5 hours out of the battery and called Rob to see what he thought. He was happy to give me another one to try this weekend to compare. Maybe I have just come to have extremely low expectations when it comes to customer service, especially computer related dealings, but I have never been such a happy customer as I am with them. They listened to my problem, provided me with an absolutely perfect solution and have continued to get better – even after the sale!

I love good customer service. Sometimes I love it so much that I want to give my life to working in call centres and places where angry customers are rife so I can spread joy around in the same way Rob from Toucan computers did.