We had a dusting of snow the other day in Copenhagen which (somewhat) made up for several days of everyone’s favourite grey-skies-sideways-rain weather combo.
Corona numbers are up again, and so social meet-ups are getting cancelled and it’s now a bit more of a thing to be aware of.
This is, would you believe it, the last newsletter update of the year! 2021 still feels quite far from “normality resumed”, but I hope you can look back on it with at least some positives.
Thanks for all of you (still) reading these monthly updates. If you have suggestions for how it can be improved in the new year, do let me know – my aim is for it to be a (very small) source of joy in your inbox on the first Saturday of the month.
That’s all for now – now on with the links and stuff.
Things I’ve been thinking about last month
Trust through informality
It’s often a good sign to have a ready answer to the question “What’s something you’ve changed your mind about recently?”.
I had such a moment this month when doing a podcast recording about the high levels of trust in Denmark.
The conversation went to contracts.
Whenever I work with clients or freelancers we each sign a written agreement that states who has ownership of the intellectual property and various other things.
Last year I had a couple of templates drafted by a (British) lawyer which contains several pages of fairly straightforward stuff, but written in legalese and covering the minutia various scenarios.
My impression was that doing contracts this way would always be a bit of a box ticking exercise, but mainly that it would also signal how serious/ professional my company and I are about these sorts of things. And that should convey confidence/ trust that we know what we’re doing.
With most of my (international) clients and contractors, there’s rarely been much of a comment.
Don’t you trust me?
The reaction from people in Denmark when receiving the document is suspicion, almost to the sense of it feeling like an affront.
It may be a slight language thing (even I struggle with “The Individual further warrants that he not is disbarred in any way from performing the Services”) but more fundamentally, I’ve come to learn that (unless it’s something really big) the concept of a contract is that it’s something a shady person would use to try and get an unsuspecting counterparty to sign and then take them to court.
Wouldn’t an honest agreement between people be based on just trusting the other person to do the right thing?
A one-page middle ground
I still see value in having agreement details written down for making sure we are, so to speak, on the same page.
However I’ve changed my mind on the universal value of having it within a “professional looking” legal contract.
My new one consists of nine bullet points (“2. Both parties agree to use common sense when it comes to resolving any conflicts”) and is written in a way that, I hope, even non-native non-legal English speakers feel comfortable signing it.
With the (Danish) people I’ve used the document with so far I can feel a sense of relief come from them when I talk them through it.
I am yet to try it elsewhere though (I still have the “legal one” on file). My sense is that some might find the document’s brevity and normal language unnerving (“is this some kind of joke?”) but who knows, maybe it will be a welcome change after all.
In any case, if I end up being taken to court in a big Danish lawsuit, you can trace the source back to this point…
This month I received my “Spotify Unwrapped” – a review of top songs/ listening habits etc from the year. It did actually feel like a bit of gift (well done Spotify’s product designers)
Some things I’ll share in case you’re seeking some inspiration:
- Day X (New York Times investigation into modern day far-right extremism in Germany)
- Food by Design (structural forces shaping food production, and how to overcome it)
- Nobody Panic (irreverent chats between two comediennes)
- How did we get here (fly on the wall on psychotherapist conversations
If you have good recommendations – let me know!
We watched Knives Out (Daniel Craig an an eccentric private detective overseeing a death in within an dysfunctional family) which reminded me of Death at a Funeral (UK version) which we watched too and enjoyed.