I’ve spent most of September in a top-of-a-massive-water-slide state of mind, where your knees are knocking as you're plucking up the courage to go for it.

I had to pluck up the courage to enter my bank details for a ridiculously expensive pair of running shoes. They'll be well used and should benefit my running, but I had to continually tell myself that before taking the plunge. I also knew what my wife would (justifiably) say: that a 40 quid pair of trainers could do the same thing.  

When they arrived, I had to pluck up the courage to tell my wife that I’d just paid £180 for trainers. I hid them in the garage for a day while I did that. But I did do it… on my way out of the door while wearing headphones so as not to hear the expletives.

And earlier in the summer I plucked up the courage to join a running club. Somewhere to really put my shoes through their paces. I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while but was always a bit intimidated by the thought of not being good enough, not knowing what I was doing, not fitting in. Like I was all gear, no idea. Cool shoes, no clues.

Those thoughts proved to be ridiculous. Of course they did. They always do.

I joined the running club and everyone is lovely. And now I have the option of running on my own if I want to. Or running with the folks from the running club, socialising and improving by learning from people with more experience.

I’ve found the same thing with freelancing. Sometimes it’s scary to join a network or mastermind group. But the benefits of being around people who share what they know and push you on are always worth it.

Plucking up the courage is only you convincing yourself of what you already know is right. Go for it. Then put your headphones on and run out of the door.  

Me. We.

‘Me. We.’ is the shortest poem in the English language. It’s by Muhammed Ali. I think it’s supposed to mean that we’re nothing without our connection to other people. Which fits in nicely with joining a club and learning from others.

It’s also relevant to changes at Pearson Insight, which has gone from ‘me’ to ‘we’ now that Laura has joined as a research intern. I’ve spent a lot of time this month tweaking the website copy from ‘I’ to ‘we’. Normally this would be straightforward, but it was hampered massively by the fact that my face—and only my face—is plastered all over the site.

Take a look, see what you think.  

The good, the bad and the ugly of research proposals

Last month I mentioned the emotional rollercoaster that is the research proposal process. My post on the questions, thoughts and feelings that putting together a tender throws up was picked up by the Social Research Association, which was nice.

Read: Behind the scenes of a research proposal

Interesting stuff

Gardens and Coronavirus 2020

The National Garden Scheme has been looking at the importance of gardens and outdoor spaces during lockdown. Some of the key findings include:

  • 92% of people said their gardens and outdoor spaces were ‘extremely important’ to them in terms of health and wellbeing
  • 86% were in their garden/ outdoor space more than usual over lockdown
  • 87% said that a key benefit gained from access to their garden/outdoor space during lockdown was that ‘it helped to relieve stress’

I’ve certainly learned not to take my garden for granted.

National Data Strategy

The Government has published a new strategy on how to ‘kickstart the data revolution’, including plans for 500 analysts to be trained in data science across the public sector and funding to tackle barriers to data sharing.  



I’ve been making the most of this recently. Partly because I’m running more to justify spending £180 on trainers and partly because we’ve been taking more walks during lockdown. It’s ideal for planning routes and finding new paths to go down. And it stops you making wrong moves that turn a two-mile walk into a 10-mile hike through the wilderness.  

Freelance soundtrack

“The White Buffalo is about engagement. The White Buffalo makes people laugh and cry. The White Buffalo is truth and wild imagination working together.”

So says his YouTube bio.

What more do you want in a singer? A strong beard? Yeah, he has that as well.  

And that’s it for another month. Thanks for reading to the end.

If you know anyone who might enjoy this newsletter, please give them a nudge. It’s always appreciated.

Take care of yourself.


Enjoyed this newsletter?

Why not get the next one delivered straight to your inbox? Like magic.

Sign me up