& Other Animals: Asher Awelan

Asher Awelan (or Aslan as I secretly like to call him) lives in North Wales and co-manages the wonderful Ymuno funk & folk festival that takes place each summer in those parts.

1. What do you do?

Currently I’m working for a Danish software company as their senior software architect. It’s the sort of grandish sounding job title startups give to over-excited staff to apologise for the pay, the downside being no one really knows what anyone else does.

So in short, my job is to extract what our sales guys have already sold without telling anyone and actualise it. This starts with lots of diagrams, application flows and arguments and ends up with a happy client – with of course lots of code and coffee in-between.

Alongside that, for a few months each year I co-manage Ymuno, a music and arts festival I founded 3 years ago. It’s a little festival with a big heart, gathering artisans, musicians and poets for a weekend to celebrate community with feasting, family and bucket loads of fun.

2. How do you fit it all in?

Before our 2 month old daughter Wren came along, I used to think that everything that was top of mind needed my attention, immediately.

That feeling seems pretty artificial when you actually do have someone that needs your attention and love.

So, the fact is, we don’t fit it all it – we plan to get it all done – but also plan to share the load more and more. If you give away ownership rather than just tasks, the project doesn’t seems as heavy – it may not be exactly what you imagined – but that also may not be a bad thing.

3. A good day at the office:

A good day in the actual office looks like 6am, headphones, favourite play lists, clear coding head, happy client, home at 4pm, giggles with Wren at bath time and a tot of Penderyn whisky – those days are few and far between!

A good day at the festival is noticing how much everyone is enjoying what you’ve created, no missing children, when money I’ve spent on insurance against theft and accidents proves to be a happily “wasted” expense… and leaving the field without a trace.

4. Inspiration:

My wife, Cate Awelan. She has a fearless pursuit of integrity and honesty – an inspiring belief in goodness and community – she keeps bringing me back to the questions I thought I’d answered and lovingly, unknowingly, shows me I’ve only scratched the surface.

5. Best move so far?

Working for the Danes, I’d not been an employee before – and although it won’t be forever, I’m glad I’ve done it. I’ve learnt a huge amount about teams, communication, morale, etc – the stuff that’s much harder to learn as a freelancer.

The lessons I’ve learnt there have totally been transferable to my role in the festival too, it’s enabled me to let go and trust others more, dissolving the freelancer myth that I have to do everything and everything depends on me.

6. Biggest regret?

I’m not sure I have any right now, I try to see how an apparent negative has informed the possibility of a positive… it can sometimes take me weeks and months to get to that point, but when I do the regret resolves.

7. Wise words for a whipper-snapper version of you:

You’re not always right, you don’t have the fullness of understanding – stop arguing, start listening.

Shit… that’s actually for today as well.

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