Close the chapter

Your role is no longer required. You’ll be leaving the business. After 23 years – all your working, adult life – you’re out the door.

And that’s it. You’re done.

Thanks for all your service over the years, for all you’ve put into the company, the customers you’ve helped and the people you’ve worked with.

But that’s it. It’s over.

You’ve handed your badge in, the end has come, no more will you use those login details and you’ll need to return that IT kit.

Can’t be that’s it? I’m not really finished – am I?

Yes. It’s happening to you. The thing you’ve really been hoping would happen for at least five years, has finally come true. You are being made redundant.

This. Is. It. Opportunity awaits.

How would you hope with this news? What would you do next?

Five months of waiting

Over the last five months, I’ve been waiting for today to come. Some of you have been waiting for it with me. Many of you won’t have given it a second thought – and that’s okay!

Here’s where I’ve been:

Gratitude for all that has gone before. The good days and the “development opportunities”.

Wondering at what might lie ahead and where I might find work to do.

Would it be for Phoenix (with so many great people that I’ve loved working with over the years)?

Would it be in another Financial Services business where it would be more of the same, with a different badge to wear.

Would it be something radically different?

Would I open a bike shop?

End the speculation

Since I started Garden Leave at the end of May, I’ve had the joy to spending time at home working on what it means to look for a job, to look after the bairns and to get some odd-jobs ticked off the list (not as many as I’d have hoped, but still many done).

I’ve spent time with my Dad

I’ve had some time on the bike (but not as much as you might expect)

I’ve volunteered time at the local bike shop to help them out and give the family a bit of time out from me!

I’ve cycled 100 miles for the first time in a few years – and this time joined several hundreds others on the Ride to the Sun at the end of June (thanks Mrs theWeir and Mister & Mrs B for making that happen).

I’ve spent time considering what might be next, looking at what matters and what my next steps could actually look like in this employment landscape and at this stage in life.

I’ve even enjoyed the process of doing interviews – and learning about how to do that better. Thanks to everyone who helped with that!

And through it all, I prayer, sang and read to keep my anchor secure in my hope that God knew exactly what He was doing through this process. That all would be okay, not because I had earned that right, but because He is good and His love lasts for ever.

Even if I didn’t get a job right away that He would provide.

And so today *is* my last day as SL240T.

Tomorrow, I will still be Andy Weir. I hope.


Thank you, Standard Life Assurance Company/Standard Life plc/Standard Life Aberdeen plc and abrdn plc. It’s been life – and I’ve loved much about this section of the story!

Time to close this chapter and get ready for the new section. There’s loads of threads of that story already started.

It’s going to be great. I hope!

Twenty three

Today marks 23 years since I started working for what was then the Standard Life Assurance Company and is now abrdn plc.

I started at number 23 Annandale Street – can you believe that? I hadn’t made the connection until I wrote this.

Image of the outside of 23 Annandale Street, the first office I worked in.Merida Scultura bicycle leaning against a wall outside 23 Annandale Street, Edinburgh.

That building is now apartments rather than an office, with much changed on the inside and out.

Same could be said for me.

There’s been so much life lived with so many people in these years that I can’t begin to do it all justice.

Buying a home,, getting married, having two amazing children, being in a band, travelling to places both far-off, and not-so-far, losing friends and family, making music, still learning new stuff every day. Making mistakes and not being there for people when I possibly could have been. Yes, great things, but I’m not perfect.

All of it with Mrs theWeir at my side, which is a wholly remarkable thing. She’s put up with a lot – especially in those early years. And probably still now too… 

I can say that through it all; my faith in God as creator, saviour and sustainer of all has remained. Can’t say it’s not changed – because it has.

And it’s even more crucial for me now than it was then.

What makes today all the more poignant is that in a weeks time it will all be over.

The chapters relating to this part of life will be over and a new section of the story will begin.

For all that’s been said and done to show kindness and love over the last few months, I say thank you.

New adventures await, but more on that another time.

For now, it’s 23 years. And that’s enough. Life is short, live it well.

Grace and peace, my friends.


Is character important in a story? Or is the plot more important? Does it only matter what happens to the characters, or what they do – or does it matter who they are and what’s happened to them before matter?

I’ve been reading more about story – in particular screenwriting. There’s a part of me would like to try it sometime, but for now it’s a helpful way to consider more about how stories work – and why they matter.

About balancing?

In “Story” Robert McKee makes the point that neither are more important than they other because without each other they don’t function.

Which I think is fair enough. Do you?

This caught my attention when reading yesterday:

True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure - the greater the pressure, the truer the choice [is] to the character’s essential nature - Robert McKee, Story

“True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the truer the choice [is] to the character’s essential nature”

Doing what needs to be done


A storyteller works hard to create a character, building their personality and helping the audience create empathy, sympathy or a connection of some sort. They have the great challenge of making sure we know only the things about them to know what they’re like so that we are invited into the story.

So when telling a story, character matters as much as plot.

Developing their identity doesn’t come at the cost of your story bringing to life their current transformation. Nope it’s part of the mix in why the story matters. The events are crucial to bring about change – and we need to know the context of the change that’s taking place, right?

In our story

Our character develops through time – often unseen to others. And at times unseen by us. And there’s always the risk that without some intentional development, our character might not turn out the way we hope. Or we don’t realise it can be any different.

I sometimes think there’s a tension between “it’s just who I am” and “I can be anything I want to be”.

My story continues

As I’ve been a little quiet on the internet recently, for a number of reasons, I’ve been challenging why I started this work in the first place – what are my motives.

You see, I firmly believe that a person’s character matters. Who they are is as important as what they do (because in my mind they are completely linked). I get a bit pert

So as there’s been some additional pressure in these recent days, there’s also been a little work on my character. Not hours of navel gazing, just an awareness of what’s happening, and the reasons why – and trying some steps to avoid it.

I guess part of that is understanding where I am, who I’m called to be and what the next step is to get there – all starts with a little more being and less always doing. And hopefully for my children – a little more grace and less grump.

Does character matter?

A lot of people say “what happens behind closed doors doesn’t impact their work-life”. If anything the events of the last few months – #metoo and other things mean exactly the opposite. Who you are is inextricably linked to what you do.

What do you think? How do you build your character?

Working with clients – a speech

Once upon a time…

…there was the joy of celebration – mingled with the dread of expectation.

Your brother shares the great news that he’s getting married. And even better; would like you to be his best man. What an honour.

Then it hits you: you’ll need to give a speech.

You don’t *do* public speaking. You immediately start to tighten up; cold sweat on your forehead and the palms of your hands. In your mind, you can already see it going horribly wrong.

And that’s not all. You love your brother and want to do a great job. And you don’t want to let him – or the rest of your family – down.

TheFear takes hold.

You are not alone

Let me introduce you to Alan Campbell. Alan was in exactly the position I’ve just described. Two months later, Alan gave the speech of his life at his brother’s wedding – and the family and friends gathered for the occasion loved it.

Alan Campbell delivering his speech

Here’s how Alan did it:

Starting your speech

We’d exchanged emails over a few days and after an initial chat over the phone, arranged to have a first session. There we spoke about his brother and future sister-in-law. We talked about the kind of speech he wanted to give – and why. And we looked at ways to structure it while considering some ideas for how to make it a speech that would be memorable for the right reasons.

The ebb and flow of the middle

Alan then started thinking about what he wanted to say, and how he might say it. He wrote a first draft, which we tweaked a few times over email until Alan was happy with the content, the humour and the length.

We then started to think about how it would be delivered. We had another session focussed on delivery, giving practical ways that Alan could use to be confident on the day, and make the most of the words and ideas he’d had and we’d developed together.

There was some moments of uncertainty in there, as well as making sure the speech would be Alan’s and not him pretending to be someone else. That striving for authenticity was not difficult – just important to do as we kept a clear focus on the outcomes Alan wanted to achieve.

Finish well

Then it was over to Alan to rehearse. And rehearse. And rehearse. We kept in touch over this time, until it was finally to deliver the speech.

And he smashed it.

Family feedback was great, Alan was both delighted and relieved that it went as much to plan as it could. And crucially, he did his brother and now-sister-in-law proud.

Your turn next?

It was a real privilege to work with Alan and help him overcome his fears with simple, practical tools and a well-worked speech.

I’d be delighted to help you prepare for an important event – or build your skills for communication at work or with potential clients.

Get in touch and let me know how I can help.

Walking Over the Water

That’s the title of a song sung by Mat Kearney on the album Mercyland: Hymns For the Rest of Us (Spotify).

The other day I was driving to church with the kids and this song came on. The weeWeir, having never heard it before, asked what it was about. I was pleased she asked as I’ve always wanted her to think about the words she hears and what they might mean.

Easy to say?

However, explaining this song to my daughter was never going to be easy. But I did – through the tears.  You see, every time I really listen to this song, I am struck by the stages of the story. Often it will stop be in my tracks and I’m forced to think about the characters being sung about. The way their story is told. The questions asked and truths that are wrestled with.

It’s hardly an original thought to suggest that music is a powerful medium for communicating ideas. And when you tell stories set to music you can get an even deeper connection with the audience (sometimes stories told *through* music don’t always need words too).

Of course they do

And stories do that. Stories feed the imagination and help the audience see themselves part of it – good stories help people see how they can be the hero of their own story.

So how does that work when there’s difficult things to be talked about?

That there is a real question. Some songwriters are masters at challenging their listeners with gentleness and grace. Others are a little more blunt.

We will all have songs – or music – that tell us a story we love. But do we have songs that challenge us to stay sharp, to consider our motives – to hold things rightly.

What’s yours? What do you learn from them?

Sing (or say it) like you mean it

It’s really powerful when you guide your audience through your talk (or communication) and help them see why your idea is worth listening to.  I believe everyone who speaks (or sings) to an audience needs to be there to serve them first. From that posture of helping them you build a stronger connection and create the possibility of inspiring them to action.

Will I sing when delivering my next talk? Only if it will create the right impact on the audience… come along and find out.

Even if I don’t sing, I have to believe what I’m saying – as mentioned last week, it’s got to be about authenticity. What can you do to make your next talk the the more authentic?

Here’s the song:

PS – for a bit more of the story behind the song (written with Phil Madiera, who produced the album), I recommend this blog by Phil.

Letting them know

A few months ago, I started on a wee journey (in case you hadn’t noticed); maybe I’d call it an experiment if I want to avoid the post-modern cliché.

What’s been happening? 

I’ve been talking more about helping people communicate their ideas in effective ways. About my desire to work with people help develop so they can create and deliver presentations that inspire and move people.

  • I will help people take their big ideas and bring them to life for others
  • I will help people use storytelling, humour and authenticity to get their ideas into their audiences heads so they take action
  • I will help people overcome that most-commons of fears; public speaking.

Remember why you’re doing it

Today I was reminded how much this stuff makes me come more alive. A friend was taking some pictures while I told people a few things about story and why it’s so brilliant for communicating ideas. He remarked that I came alive!

And so I’m reminded that we need to be alive to live. I realise again how much it means to me to see people given the tools to communicate great things well.

Tell people!

I’ve asked before for people’s help in spreading the word. And so I’m at it again. Only because I really believe the world needs people who can communicate well. I need to be better at this communication lark too, no doubt.

In less than a week I’ll be giving someone the chance to be at my next workshop for free. I’ve not run a competition before so if it’s your first time entering then that’s cool too!

Here’s the action:

Would you share this link with people you’re connected with? If you enter, you’ll get a unique url you can share. Each time you share it will boost the number of entries you get. Simple! 

Get the Guide and you could win!

You can be there too if you like – either book your own ticket or enter the competition.
Thanks for reading. And for sharing.