Writing to learn, learning to write. With practice comes clarity of purpose. #100days
55,176 words
www.enablehuman.com @mali_finally

Day 112 - Firsts

I passed out before 10 pm. That's a first. Woke up feeling rested at 4.30 am. That's another first. I would have slept longer were it not for lil dude crackling. He's just past 6 months, so we're removing sleep associations before they form completely.

It's been tough, but it seems to work. We've stopped the rocking and the food that we gave him just before bed. We're trying to space out the food before bed so he's had some time to digest and burp. If he cries, we only console him after 8 to 10 mins. Though this time he fell asleep after 2 mins.

He slept for 9 hours straight for the first time in his short life. Then we fed him and put him back to bed at 4.48 am, the crying ebbed and flowed and seemed to crescendo at just about the 8-10 mins window I'd go in to console him. After I went in at 5.57 am, within 10 mins he slept.

The first night I tried this, which was yesterday, his mum was away for a trip, which worked in our favour, I didn't have to manage two people crying. My mom also arrived yesterday.

I think part of the reason I slept well is because she's around and has a calming effect on us all.

I saw my first robot factory, so cool. Hung out with the guys just for the sake of being guys, that's a first for me here. I forgot what that felt like, no items on the agenda, just good food, coffee and laughter. I think we hit 3 places, or maybe 2, it felt flowy.

Had two stakeholder interviews I conducted alone, it's just way easier than on-boarding people when you have a limited timeline.

Dropped a 1.5lb from restricting sugar, celebrated by having sugar. That, is something I need to work on.

How should I celebrate an end of a good week without sugar?

Day 111- The simplest things

There's a certain magic to sharing.

It implies good will, connection, a shared understanding.

Whether it's 5 sovereign nations sharing signals intelligence or the involuntary and awkward smile you share, with the stranger you feel the need to acknowledge, as you walk past them on the street.

I look forward to a time, when this magic is lacklustre. In hopes that may mean, the act of sharing, is so ubiquitous that the act of genuine gratitude becomes magical.

Day 110 - Do it in person

I've been feeling discouraged by the lack of responses to the upcoming LeadIN cohort.

I have two people lined up who have applied, and 55 odd people who have viewed the form (tracking via bit.ly) and didn't apply.

Today, I relayed in person to 4 people, what the cohort will be about. I think I spent a collective 2 hours, and they're all interested. Whether they apply remains to be seen.

The co-working space has declined to offer us the space. They didn't see value in bringing the same people to the space. A little outside the box thinking would have helped them understand that quality over quantity of engagements is what draws people back to a place. Ironically, their name has 'box' in it. I didn't have access to the conversation so it would have been lost in translation anyway.

I've decided to go ahead with a space I'm familiar with, that's free, the only challenge is ensuring that on the days we intend to be there, there aren't large distracting events happening at the same time.

I remain hopeful, though I do need to push more to get the 12 I need to start.

Day 109 - Take the lead

You ever notice slight changes in yourself, at the defining moments?

For instance, in a room full of strangers, and as an observer, I was called upon to suddenly present something I was not equipped nor willing to present.

There has been poor communication in regards to how the team has expanded. As a result responsibilities are not clearly defined. This resulted in the newest addition to the team making a decision they were not willing to follow through on by taking ownership. They literally picked up the dung, walked it up to where I sat and told the client, he's going to present this to you now!

In a room full of people talking at cross purpose, all I could do was communicate clearly what I thought they could all agree on. It worked.

I realized I did not panic, my breathing was under control, I did not stutter, I did not get hot or flushed. All eyes were on me. I think I've overcome something. I can't place a name on it yet.

However, I also realized that no matter what, I can't be placed in a position where I was caught unawares. I didn't know all the people in the room. I didn't know their history within the organization, the projects they were championing internally, the people they were competing with. I didn't chart risks, nor did I make efforts to manage this project. I thought the people with seniority were handling all of that, I thought I was in a purely service design role. It's the people with seniority that put me up as a sacrificial lamb.

Oddly enough, this same person had already told me they would behave in this manner. They relayed to me their experience working with this kind of client, how they witnessed teams competing and infighting with some really shady things happening so that people can continue to collect their salary. They also said the same is true in the world of consulting they were a part of, that if a project is going south, the blame is immediately assigned so that one's neck is preserved.

Previous me would have let this slide. This me, will print the 'generative interactions' and 'expanding situational curiosity' cards to review what happened.

Day 108 - Highlights

Kickoff went well.

Little dude got his shots.

Helped one person by answering questions they had about their career options.

Recorded podcast.

Planned for using wise patterns.

Had 2 grams of sugar.

Creative morning in 1 day.

5 stakeholder interviews coming up.

Mom arriving this week inshallah.

Ideation full day workshop on Wednesday.

Day 107 - Service Design Journal.12

The presentation is tomorrow. Time flies.

In two short weeks we:

  • created 3 hypothetical journey maps
  • conducted 30 hours of stakeholder interviews
  • conducted 3 workshops
  • refined 3 current state blueprints
  • clarified 3 current state journey maps
  • drew 2 story boards and 3 personas
  • created a life cycle journey
  • built a limited demonstrable prototype

So what's the presentation about? It's the kickoff meeting with the ceo and department directors.  The idea was to demonstrate what utilizing the service design methodology was capable of. The aim is to flip the concept of a kickoff meeting on it's head. To ensure the above deliverables are part of the kickoff experience. So that senior stakeholders can see something tangible. So instead of rolling up in suits and saying "We're going to start the project and this is what we'll do", we can roll up in jeans and say "This is what we've already done, and this is what we'd like to do, with your support"


Day 106 - The worst part is over

I had two coffees, no sugar, a spinach juice concoction, slipped up with a pizza (thin crust though), protein in the evening, and didn't touch the kunafa (so proud of myself)

Total sugar today, whatever was in the pizza crust. The headache is gone. I've stayed hydrated. So I'll continue this minimal sugar trend for a bit longer.

I've been trying to figure out how to create a theme for my posts. Either I post two different things each evening, with one tracking the service design project, and the other my focus on minimizing sugar, bread, and increasing exercise. Or I alternate them every day.

Now that I've built this writing habit, I can pay attention to a project I wanted to undertake sometime back. There are a series of books called 50 X classics. Where the author summarizes 50 books on x topic. I digest them mostly through audio books and had thought it'd be worthwhile to reflect on a book a week.

Now that I write each day, I could capture my reflections each evening on the topic each book covers. The important part would be to catalogue it in a way that I could easily parse the information into byte sized bits that could be scheduled in advanced and shared through platforms.

For now, I won't tackle the challenge of figuring out the platform organizing bit. I'll focus on digesting the audio books and capturing notes in a manner that would allow people to be curious.

Here's a sample excerpt from the book 'On becoming a leader' by Warren Bennis

“True leaders are not interested in proving themselves, they want above all to express themselves fully” How this expression manifests is reliant on how they recognize context in life instead of surrendering to it. This refers to our tendency to react regardless of context, even though we'd be better served by better understanding our context and responding accordingly.

I'd however add stories that could more clearly allow readers to visualize the themes or insights shared by the author.

Day 105 - Step 4 | Endogenous opioids

I had two coffees today, they were both sugarless. The first tasted horrible, the second tasted better.

Although I now have a headache that is becoming unbearable. The sugar withdrawal is hopefully at it's peak.

I'd type more, but I'm at my limit. Here's an article:


Sugar has also been shown to cause the release of endogenous opioids in the brain, which leads to a rush similar to that experienced when a person injects heroin. All of this leads to a vicious cycle of cravings and needing more sugar to feel good.

Mental symptoms
Sugar detox can cause a number of emotional and mental symptoms. These include:

Depression. Feeling down is a common sugar withdrawal symptom. Along with low mood, you may also notice a lack of enjoyment in things you once found pleasurable.

Anxiety. Feelings of anxiousness may also be accompanied by nervousness, restlessness, and irritability. You may feel like you have less patience than usual and are on edge.

Changes in sleep patterns. Some people experience changes in their sleep when detoxing from sugar. You might find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night.

Cognitive issues. You may find it difficult to  concentrate when you quit sugar. This can cause you to forget things and make it hard to focus on tasks, such as work or school.

Cravings. Along with craving sugar, you may find yourself craving other foods, such as carbohydrates like bread, pasta, and potato chips.

Physical symptoms
Headache is one of the most common side effects of sugar detox, along with feeling physically rundown. Other possible physical withdrawal symptoms include:

light-headedness and dizziness


Day 104 - Service Design Journal.11

It's been a while since I've done a 14 hour work day.

I managed to complete two blueprints. First on Miro, then using Sketch. Copying the info into sketch is what took the largest amount of time. It's also been a while since I've used it. So the majority of that time was the cost I had to pay to familiarize myself with it once more.

That said, I'm sure there are better ways to complete it, I've found at least one, but it requires purchasing and learning another tool.

Two things stood out today. One, I am much more productive outside the confines of an office. Even with the hub bub of a coffee shop and restaurant, I was able to concentrate. Two, I have a lot to learn in terms of service design and though the current environment and it's challenges are better than figuring out the optimal configuration for lil dude and his living room floor, this environment could be better.

Employee engagement

Cross-functional collaboration

Clarity of purpose

These are all things that the client has at the top of the organization. But silos seem to distort purpose into ugly competition, cruel indifference, and wasteful power plays.

I can understand the appeal of a skilled trade job.

Day 103 - Step 3 | Choose to be epicurious

I've had ketchup with some food items for as long as I remember. Today I had McDonalds. Yes, I at first groaned as loudly as you did and lamented my choice to eat cardboard. But this time around, I was curious. I wanted to cut back on sugar right? So I asked myself, how much sugar was in the ketchup packets?

4 grams. That's 1 teaspoon. There are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon. I used 5 packets. So I ate 1.5 tablespoons of sugar with my cardboard.

I know sugar is in a lot of things, and obviously it's in ketchup. I just didn't realize how easy they make it to poison yourself. Now I'm wondering, how long will it take for my palate to be cleansed of sugar, so that normal food can taste like it should. It's probably going to take as long as I will take to find out if there is any real food left and where to find it. Much of the frankenfoods that have been placed in our food supply probably have high sugar content, or have lost their taste in favour of resilience against diseases. Read about the history of the banana in your fruit bowl.

At least now, the only cardboard I'll entertain, is the tabletop kind.

Day 102 - Step 2 | Cut the wheat

I stuck to my one coffee. I walked through the largest mall in the world, with the smell of chocolate chips wafting through the air and samples galore shoved in my face and survived it all.

I did however crave bao. Early in the day, when my sugar levels were waning, my sugar gut whispered 'Bao, Bao, Bao, Bao'. Fulfilling that request became my sole motivation for the next two hours. I pictured the number of buns I'd buy, limiting myself to 2 in order to ensure I didn't have too much of that bread. Once I arrived at the restaurant, I'd been walking for a good hour, and hadn't had lunch. The 2 buns became 6, I also added a side of tom yum soup and a raw juice/vegetable blend to counter the guilt I was about to consume.

I think being explicit about reducing sugar was a good thing, but my sugar gut is really good at rationalizing increased consumption of other foods that it knows also contain sugar. Most everything contains sugar. Even bread. So I'll have to cut that down too.

There's got to be a way to remember what minimal amount of food ingredients make the optimal amount of dishes.

Put another way, how many sugar free and wheat free food ingredients whether they be fruits, vegetables, nuts etc do I need to have, before I can make a palatable combination of food.

Maybe the number is 22?


Day 102 - Service Design Journal.10

We're behind by one week.

Here's what went wrong.

We ignored the importance of proactively pushing the client to adhere to the project timelines.

We assumed that the client had access to the stakeholders we needed to meet

We did not have a clear risk response plan.

We didn't onboard them to the project management software in a way that would work for them.

I need to reconsider how to visualize risks and communicate them on a semi-agile project.

At least the first blueprint is complete

Day 101 - Step 1 | Cut the sugar

This one is a toughie. I'd like to say I rounded up the offending suspects laying about the house and tossed them, but I didn't. Worry not! the sugary treats are no longer a problem, they've been duly consumed.

To be most successful at this endeavour, I'll need to limit my intake as much as possible. For that to be true I need to recognize the things I indulge in.

At Home

Once a day: A sweet latte, approx 2 teaspoons of sugar

Twice a week: Blended Ice Moroccan Mint Bubble milk tea

Three times a week: raisin roll from bakery

Location dependant

Karak (concentrated dose of spicy chai with sugar)

I went through our records for the year till date. Unfortunately, Deliveroo and Uber have earned a handsome sum from us. Amazon was a close second. But let's shift our focus back to sugar, it's a dangerous thing to overload one's habit inquisition process.

I know the need for coffee is psychological in nature. I myself had never drank coffee until I was in my late 20s. I won't focus on it now, two teaspoons is a lot lower than the daily limit of 9 teaspoons or 37 grams.

Eliminating the rest requires I replace them with things equally convenient, portable, and satisfying.

At the moment my only quick and relatively easy on the body snack is bran flakes with low fat milk.

I welcome your suggestions for easy to eat, low in sugar, portable food / drink items.

I think I'll be sporting my first ever 6 pack by my 36th bday. This is your chance to get your piece of history.

I shared this with my wife and her first instinct was to stifle laughter. Challenge accepted.

p.s. she also gave me a hug of encouragement.

Day 100 - That wasn't too bad

We made it to 100, sure, there are a lot of coulda woulda shoulda's lurking around, but what's important is that we made it to 100.

Was I coherent throughout, no.

Did my writing improve. I'd like to think so.

Although my Medium edit and post buffer has now been delayed to 30 days. It's what I used to take a second look at my writing. It helped me improve my work a bit, and I'd not found time to do it recently.

I think I'm going to expand my new habit experiment into the realm of physical health. I remember a decade or so ago attempting to complete the 100 hundred pushup challenge. It was an app on the Iphone 3g I believe. I made it partway to doing 5 reps of 60 and feeling good about it...then I stopped.

I had a script in my head that said something along the lines of, "average is as good as it gets, so quit while you're ahead, this ain't so bad". It's a script I've enjoyed not having around during this writing challenge.

I've got another motivator. My mortality and my progeny. I can be stubborn, I've just not used that super power to fight my desire to eat sugar and avoid exercise.

I need to work on the picture I have of myself, my cousin decided he didn't want to fit a certain stereotype, and he willed his body to change accordingly. I'm running out of time to do the same, so it's time I began.

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

Day 99 - Letters away!

I had two people apply for the Dubai Leadin cohort. I also went into email history and found people who were previously interested. I've opted to send a very short paragraph that goes as follows:

"We're finally launching our First Dubai LeadIn Cohort. 12 people are selected to reflect on and practice their leadership skills. Do you know someone who is early to mid career and can commit to an eight week long cohort that explores emotional intelligence, polarities, story telling and more?
Please share this application form with them for more details. http://bit.ly/LeadINfall2019"

I've learned two things.

1- Even if it's been a year, people are happy to respond. They'll respond at their own pace, so reach out anyway.

2- Keeping the message short, with a target audience they can imagine, is helpful. I also used polarities to peak curiosity by making it the meat between the bread that is emotional intelligence and story telling, things most people will be aware.

The next step is to followup with the space, they're almost ready to confirm. I'll also announce it on creative morning, and at fundxb. Simply because I know the organizers and they trust me.

Day 98 - Service Design Journal.09

We facilitated a product vision workshop today. It went better than expected. I honestly was not confident it would lead to a generative conversation. There's a focus on the right answer, and we had to work extra hard at ensuring we conveyed, multiple times, that there was no right or wrong way about this, so long as they focused on the discussion allowing for all their voices to be heard.

What went well was that we included team members from the vendor team, who they had long standing warm relationships with and sprinkled them across the groups. We were in a boardroom style room but we setup the chairs in a theatre setting initially to capture their attention. Then picked on the people we knew to lead by example and put away their laptops and phones. The next time we think we'll try a swipe jar, where you put money in every time you're caught swiping on your phone.

We also need a snack budget! People really came alive when the snacks came out.

Day 97 - 15.37222222222

Tony Robbins was in Dubai yesterday, and my social media feed had a bunch of people waxing poetic about the experience. In my library audiobook collection was Zig Ziglar, the grandfather of pep talkers. So I listened to him on the metro instead of playing a game. One thing he keeps repeating is the phrase “Are you a wandering generality, or a meaningful specific.” He must have repeated that phrase 20 times over 10 minutes. True to his marketing roots, a message is only heard, if you make sure people heard it. No better way to ensure they heard it than repeating it after every anecdote. What can I say, it worked.

He opened that audiobook, which is an amalgamation of his talks in front of audiences, by asking the audience whether they’d travel to Acapulco, all expenses paid, if the only catch was that they had to leave home for their tropical destination by 8 am the following morning. They just had to drop everything and leave. He then walked them through all the reasons a person wouldn’t be able to walk away, and the excuses they create for themselves.

He shared his journey to credibility, because as someone who is meant to help people move to action, he needed to look the part. So he got serious about looking the part as well. His argument was, how credible would I look, if I was telling you that you could be anything you wanted, if I looked like I could barely breathe walking back and forth on this stage. He likened it to taking advice from a doctor that encourages you to quit smoking, who you then see smoking.

This made me think of the game I absentmindedly play sometimes. For the quiet moments, when I’m transitioning from one state to another. It requires just enough skill that it’s not swipe zombie material. It’s free, and any payments you can make are cosmetic in nature. No, it’s not Fortnite. I enjoyed it because it didn’t require interaction with Fortnite type kids. No audio interaction, 4 minutes long. Just the kind of thing I thought I could put down.

Some time has passed since I first tried that game, and I noticed that I leveled up most of the characters to their maximum. Out of curiosity, I checked my statistics. They stated that I won 5,463 games. A quick calculation and I’d spent just over 15 complete days playing this game.

Here’s the thing, I’m pretty sure I won one game for every five I lost. So I’ve probably spent a ridiculous 76.86 days or ~2.5 months of my lifespan over the past 2 years click clacking away at this game that's supposed to be all of five minutes long at most. The last time I spent that much time on a game was on the 90s when I played civilizations 2 for a whole summer.

I've paid the cost of making excuses for things that don't help me. I'm going to start tracking the excuses I make, for the things that need effort, like being healthy. It's like Zig said, "you don't pay the cost of getting healthy, you enjoy the benefits."

Day 96 - Service Design Journal.08

Blueprint workshop successful!

Lil dude congested nose worse. Wakes up every half hour.

Learned the difference between service improvement and service innovation projects. I've done both. Can't write, so tired, will explain difference on next post.

Day 95 - Service Design Journal.07

Field trip! I didn't sleep much because little dude has the sniffles again. But I started the day excited because it was a day that was supposed to be for research. In the fray, at the point where the highest amount of customers are served, through the greatest number of touch-points.

...We were given the wrong address, that should have been an indicator for how the rest of the day was going to go. I was still high on sugar and caffeine, not even wearing a blazer in 40C heat were going to drag me down.


We were able to interview 3 people...well 2 and .75 because the last person couldn't complete their transaction and their journey was disrupted. Sucks for him, but it was an unsupported moment we hadn't come across before, so it'll be entered into the pile of challenges customers have when accessing these services.

We informed the client that we'll have to change tack and approach other stakeholders for interviews.

Day 94 - Service Design Journal.06

The blueprint did it's job, the client is convinced we're not crackpot consultants and that we're understanding the ecosystem well considering it's been less than a week. We actually have them with their backs against the wall because they haven't been able to move as fast as we have. This week we'll have the blueprinting workshop, followed by the visioning workshop.

I learned a valuable lesson from my colleague today. I couldn't explain why we couldn't have a workshop on a particular day, or rather, I couldn't share the reason. The client was left wide-eyed and confused as to why I was not being flexible with the date change. My colleague explained articulately that having these workshops back to back would detract from the exercise.

We needed the buffer of one day, to be able to act upon the feedback from the blueprinting workshop. This would allow us to better align for the visioning workshop including the incidentals we'd use and the material we'd have to print.

I instantly became more conscious of listening to the client's need, and sat with them for a time later that day and chose to be curious.