Senser Stories // Peter Mayes

Peter Mayes: A self professed ‘ageing-gigger’, drone pilot, passionate educator and permanent inventor from the UK

Peter Mayes
Kick off your interview by saying hello to The Sense Network! If you were to consider yourself an expert in something what would it be?

My name is Peter and I’m from the senior end of the younger generation; my brain keeps telling my body to do things that it can’t do any longer.

I do all sort of ‘stuff’. There are so many topics I am interested in and get excited about. I have a broad range of knowledge, skills and expertise and sometimes envy those that know lots about their chosen subject. I suppose an advantage of this wide eclectic range of interests is that I can have conversation with different people and am often able to engage to some degree in what others are talking about. This is fantastic for me as I am able to learn more from people who are more expert than me.

That said if I were to say I was an expert in something it would be learning and development practice; this is the knowledge, skills and behaviours of those engaged in training, facilitation, coaching of adults, significantly outside statutory education.

Why would I say this; well it’s because I led a team of 10 other experts (who had read a lot of books) in learning and development and business to create a competence framework (a standard) for freelance practitioners. This piece of work took 3,000+ hours and 18 months to complete. I managed and coordinated the whole project and, although it was completed some 10 years ago, I still believe it is an outstanding and relevant piece of work. Sadly the implementation of the project almost broke me. And the legacy still haunts me.

What are you up to in the real world?

I have a real mindset for designing and creating stuff; anything really. I (with my wife) even designed and built our own 5 bedroom house. And we are currently renovating a 1960s bungalow too.

Look no roof
Look no roof!

Andddd…. we have a roof!

From designing a 95ft Gulet, gardens, sculptures and even some clothes; I’ve always had a curiosity for making things. I designed a membership website (a long time before PPH came on the market), devised an image sharing website back in 1998, (only to have the idea dismissed as irrelevant – Instagram etc). I, and my programmer Ben, developed a DIY web site creation tool in 2002 but didn’t have the money or the courage to pursue it to market…. Ben still gets irritated by 1&1 and the likes of Wix as the protocol we came up with is still different from (and better than) the rest!

Nowadays I have two ‘inventions’ on the go; one; a rope gadget for use in multiple sectors, which has an application in for a Trade Mark. The other invention/design is a different take on a BBQ and if successful will create a new thinking around entertaining.

My thought processes go off in all sorts of directions when I’m coming up with a new idea but something I said in a meeting once sums it up:

“If here was once there, where is there now?” (August 28th 1999)

Give us a peek into your favourite working spot/environment? How do you stay productive?

I am an ideas person; a classic ‘plant’ in the Belbin Team Roles instrument (scored 19 out of 20). I can generally work anywhere but where I work tends not to be tidy and ordered. I like to have a view out of a window. At school I used to get reprimanded for gazing out of the window, I was accused of being inattentive. Today I look out the window and I remind myself that I am a strong ‘reflector’ (experiential learning styles).

peter mayes
Larking around (reflecting!) by the pool…
A creative journey is not one travelled alone. Tell us about someone who helped you get you where you are today or someone who inspires you and why?

I admit to being far too insular and not seeking sufficient support; it is a learnt behaviour as psychometric profiling tools suggest that my natural trait is toward the extrovert. This is born out of a long held insecurity that I am, or what I have created, is not good enough (and if you want me to go into that it’s another interview!). Overcoming this is one of the big challenges that I have set myself for 2018 (yes 40+ years late), to get up and get out and put my ideas before others and see if help is available; hence doing this interview.

As to specific people that have helped me:

Mrs White; junior school teacher (1964) who put my paining of the ‘Ancient Mariner’ on the classroom wall. That anchored my belief that I can draw and paint and has underpinned my opinion that if I can, then anyone else can. Travel forward to 2004 and I read ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ – Betty Edwards.

Another important person in my life was my mother; who never lost faith in my abilities. Indeed I think she had more faith in me than I did. Sadly she died of cancer in 1994 so did not live to see some of the achievements she helped foster including designing and building my own house.

And then there is Heather, my wife. Without her I would not have had the opportunity to fulfil the ambition of doing a self build, nor achieve some of my other ambitions such as getting an honours degree in computing and management, or being my own boss since 2000.

Interesting that these key people are women.

Where are you based at the moment? We’d love to know about the area you live and why you chose this place?

I am currently based in Holt, Wiltshire in the UK and moved here in 2014. We chose this place by accident almost.

Geographic location is an interesting subject for me. When Heather, Rosie and I set up our business in 2000 we asked each other to describe what success looked like (metaphorically speaking). My response was to have a yacht which denoted ‘geographic independence’. I still hanker after this!

Learning to cook Bali

Most of my business life since 2000 has been laptop based. A month in the Rockies and I was still able to work (and generate revenue). A month in Bali; the same. We spent three weeks travelling around Europe with just hand luggage; a spare pair of shorts and a laptop. My ambition is to travel the length of Vietnam on a motorbike; laptop and camera at the ready.

If you could change anything about our world and society, what would you start with?

Education. Rather than teach children to pass exams, let’s teach them to be respectful, tolerant, engaged, thoughtful contributors to a society that is more inclusive.

And finally.. Tell us about Drones?! We’d love to hear more about your side hustle…

I am a bit of an aviation nerd; I’m pretty certain I can tell the difference between a Vixen, Venom and Vampire. I also like photography. Back in 2013 I bought a drone to explore the possibilities of aerial photography and loved what was possible and decided to become a licensed operator.

The drone industry is expanding at a phenomenal rate and an appropriate use of the technology can be of great to many sections of society. I am very much of the edge of the industry and have been fortunate to be able to bring my interest in context based learning and development into an industry that is formulaic and substantially about memorising data and information to pass a test.

Visit Peter’s website here

Find him on Linkedin here

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