Category: Our Journey

This is not a good-bye. It’s a thank you

This month, two of my team members will leave the team. One of them is pregnant and the other got an opportunity to grow on another project in our company.

Having two good people leaving the project at the same time is not easy to handle. The dynamic of the team changes and I can say that their departure represents the end of an era. 

When people leave your team you don`t lose only their knowledge, but also their spirit, their emotions and their personal touch. Each member of a team is unique and brings different skills and attributes to it; having a member leaving is like losing a piece of a puzzle.

Most of the times when people leave you wonder why? In this specific case though I am at ease with their departure as they don`t leave because of negative reasons, but because of objective ones. So, this post is not an answer to why people leave their jobs, but a thank you note for my team members who have other missions.

thank you

Dear mother-to-be,

I remember the day we had our first discussion, when I presented you the project and tried to recruit you on my team. It was love at first sight. I was beyond happy to be informed that you accepted the challenge.

You learned so fast and you aced the integration. After only a few days it felt like you were on our team from the beginning and I knew you belonged with us.

Your implication and evolution amazed me and I feel lucky for having a person like you in my team. You are intelligent, reliable, creative and I am happy we got to work together.

You are an important member of the team, a good friend and a great listener. I am grateful for all the feedback I had from you, for all the heart to heart conversations. Your presence made the days at work better.

Never doubt yourself! You are amazing!

You will be an amazing mother and I cannot wait to meet your child. Please rest assured that you remain a part of the team and we`ll be waiting for you to come back.

Dear second-level to-be,

You made a difference on our team and you rocked it! Me and you both know how many failures there had been on this position before your arrival on the team and you understood right away what was at stake.

You went the extra-mile and this won the admiration and the appreciation of the team, of the client and mine. That`s also one of the reasons you got the opportunity to achieve a higher-profile position and I have no doubt that you will rock it.

I am beyond proud of you for all your work and especially for all the battles you’ve won against yourself. I knew you had great potential and I am glad you’ve already got the chance to exploit it and continue to evolve.

You will be deeply missed and your roles won’t be easy to fulfill.

I would like to tell you both a big thank you, from the bottom of my heart. This team has been so amazing thanks to you too. You both are super heroes and you will not be forgotten.

I already miss you, but I am happy for everything that awaits you!

Thank you guys!

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Don`t be your “label”

Have you ever failed so badly that you were labeled a “low performer” or “the one who lost a client”? Have you ever been in the wrong place, where you were labeled the outsider because you did not fit in? At some point maybe you were new in a role and you were labeled “the junior” who will fail with no doubts. 

Have you ever been given the label of being too loud, too rebel or too different?

Have you ever had a tough period in your life that impacted your work and caused you to be labeled as “not good enough”?

Have you ever disappointed someone at your workplace with a behavior that you regret now, even though at that time it was the best you could be?

Have you ever been labeled based on your behavior or results under circumstances that did or did not depend on you?

If you were in such situations or similar ones before, keep reading.

You adopted the “label”

In my leadership career, at some point I took over another manager’s position. The team was already formed and it was my first time joining a team that was already built. As I previously stated in another post, I failed. Big time! I failed so badly, that my job was put in danger and this is not even the worst part of this story. My team rejected me and each day was a nightmare. This is kind of a happy-ending story though because with a mentor that I encountered in that period and with other managers who didn`t lose faith in me, things got better.

This is not about how I handled the failure though, but rather about the label I put on myself. Yes, you read correctly. I put a label on myself. The “failure” label, the “almost got fired” label, the “not good enough” label. I could go on and on with the list of labels I put on my head at that time.

The awful thing about these labels is that I wore them in permanence. Sometimes I managed to keep them hidden, at least until the moment a new failure appeared around me. Even if we`re talking about a little failure or a low difficulty moment, the labels showed up to remind me that I was most likely going to fail. Because if I failed in the past, why not failing again? Furthermore, I was convinced that everyone else was expecting me to fail just to validate my labels. I was living under the impression that the others labeled me. Maybe they did, but I did so too. Then, how can I blame them?

label

The risk of becoming your “label”

When you wear a label you tend to act accordingly. In my case the “failure” label hunts me very often. I feel the need and the urge to prove my labels to be wrong. If something goes wrong, I feel like everyone will say: “of course she failed. She’s done it before and apparently she’s learned nothing”.

If you focus too much on these labels, you risk to become all that they represent. You are not only your failures. Learn to take into consideration your achievements as well.

You are not your “label”

We are humans. Some of us strive for perfection. But let`s be honest. We`re not perfect so failure is part of our DNA. But this does not mean that failure defines us. It doesn`t mean that if we fail, we earn a label immediately. Yes, maybe we`ll fail again. Maybe we`ll fail more than others or in different ways.

Sometimes you fail because you don`t know better, other times because you are in the wrong place or because you were not prepared. It doesn`t matter. You are not your label. Don`t let it take a toll on you. Don`t go around showing it off as if it was that award for bad movies. Do not act like a consequence of that label. Avoid becoming your label!

you are enough

How to get over your labels

  • I`m not saying that you must forget your failures. Not at all. Failures have their role in your journey. Do not forget them, but change the way you look at them: take the failures as valuable lessons;
  • Acknowledge what went wrong and make things right. Make things better.
  • Find a person you trust and talk about this. You`ll be surprised to find out that he is not perfect either.
  • Regain trust in yourself. Look how far you have gone!
  • Count your success stories too!
  • Measure your progress. You`ll be amazed of how much you have learned and how much you have grown.
  • Don`t allow others define you and your actions.

You are not your labels! Let them go. It`s time, you survivor! 😉

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Service Desk Manager: a glimpse of my journey

Some might think that being a manager is easy. You have people around you doing your job, you get to stay in meetings all day and you make reports and statistics. You delegate your tasks and the rest of the time you supervise the others doing them. It sounds like a dream job, right?

Well, let me tell you a secret: most of the time, things are not what they seem. When you are the manager of a service desk team, let’s say it is kind of a challenge. I said “service desk manager” because I want to share from my own experience on this role. Maybe in other areas the things are similar, but here I want to share some steps from my journey as a service desk manager.

When having this role, you are caught between your team, your upper management and your client.

The team

As a team manager, you need to be there for your team. You need to assure your team that you care about them, that you fight for them. That you protect them. They need to know that you will always have their back.

You need to be able to tell them what they have to do. To lead them through change. To guide them. To motivate them and keep them motivated.

You have to listen to them. To understand and defend their interests. To cheer them up even when you feel down. To stay positive even during storms or difficult times.

To put their interests first. To help them grow. To help them learn. To let them go if there is a better opportunity for them on the way.

team; team manager

To keep calm. To give them feedback with kindness. To never forget that once you were in their place. To know when they need a break.

To admit when you`re wrong. To make things better. To put people first. Always.

To handle conflicts. To encourage the team member who feels lost. To help him find its way.

To handle depression of a team member. To stay up late if one of your team members feels lonely and needs someone to talk to.

To help them build confidence in themselves. To identify their strengths and handle their weaknesses. To believe in them even when they don’t do that anymore. To be their support even when they let you down. To be happy for their achievements and to celebrate them and to help them when they fail.

This list is longer, but you get the point.

The management

The management is usually very business oriented. They care about numbers, reports, statistics, optimization.

They set their expectations and your objectives. The upper management pays your salary at the end of the month. They make the rules. Sometimes they are inflexible and all they want are results, no matter the costs, the consequences or the measures. Sometimes they don`t present the big picture. Other times they give to many details. With them, it’s mostly corporate political games and they need you to be politically correct. By the way, I hate this “politically correct” thing. For me, it’s just a diplomatic way to tell a lie or to hide things or to say hurtful truths wrapped in beautiful words.

If you are lucky, you meet some good managers during your journey. I was lucky enough to meet one who became my mentor and I learned a lot from him. But about this I`ll tell you another time.

The client

client, service desk client

What the client needs from you is to keep his users happy, to propose innovations and to find solutions. He wants you to keep close to him, to give him visibility and to provide the expected results and more if possible. He wants you to earn his trust by keeping your word and achieving the service level agreements. He needs you to be creative, to put his needs first. He wants you to be committed, involved and at his disposal. He needs you to think out of the box, to send the report in an hour, to organize an extra project in no time and mobilize everyone to do the job.

Sometimes, the client needs you to cut costs. To optimize. To automatize. To adjust.

He needs you to be open to change and to get everyone to be on board with the changes.

The service desk manager

In this case, me. As I wrote in the beginning of this “story”, I am kind of in the middle between my team, my upper management and my client. I need to be fully aware of what each of them needs and wants and try to fulfill their expectations. Sometimes there is a conflict between what all of them want and it`s the moment when the challenge appears. Because I have to find a way to keep them in high spirits. And is not always an easy task accomplish. And sometimes you fail to do that and you lose your team. Or your client. Or even your job.

So next time when you think your manager is there only to annoy you, think twice. Next time when you have the impression that he has too much free time or he spent too much time in the lunch break, think again.

Be kind to your manager. Between the team, the upper management and the client, in various occasions he leaves apart his own needs only to keep everyone else happy.  Sometimes things are out of his control and he doesn’t have a say on some decisions that are made.

Being a service desk manager is not easy. Some days it`s harsh, complicated and frustrating. But at the end of the day, when the storm passes, it is a very rewarding job. And I love every second of it.

I have some stormy days but writing these words helped me remind myself why I`m doing this job and why I love it so much. And I am sure I`ll survive this and I`ll get out of as a better version of myself.

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15 Management Don’ts

This is a list of 15 management “don’ts” I came up with these days, after suffering a work-related disappointment.

What would you add to this list?

management don'ts
  1. Don`t assume you are always right;
  2. Don`t treat your people with disrespect;
  3. Don’t lie;
  4. Don’t think you are the smartest person in the room;
  5. Don’t believe that all your team members will react in the same way to things;
  6. Don`t look down on the people you work with;
  7. Don’t judge;
  8. Don’t forget that you are working with people who have feelings and emotions;
  9. Don’t ignore the opinions of your team members;
  10. Don’t give up on your principles and values, under any circumstances;
  11. Don’t quit;
  12. Don’t let pride to lead your actions;
  13. Don’t make people feel little so you can feel big;
  14. Don’t lose faith in people;
  15. Don’t play dirty games.

I have no doubt that the “management don’ts” list is way longer. And each experience teaches as what to do, as well as what to no to or quit doing. Which one is the first “don’t” you will integrate on your list?

To not end this reading in a negative note, here you have my “Be a leader who serves” post. It is focused more on what to do rather than what to avoid.

Be kind, listen to your team. Be honest. Be an example. Trust your people. Be humble. Be open. Be supportive.

Your team needs you to be the best version of yourself!

If you want to add “dont’ts” in the “management don’ts” list, do not hesitate to leave your thought in the comments field.

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Be a leader who serves

In my early days as a team leader, I was living under the impression that people in my team will follow me and will do what I ask them do to because I am their boss. After a while, the reality hit me and I found out the hard way that having the word “leader” in the job title doesn’t necessarily make you one.

Whilst going down, from failure to failure, I had a talk with this senior manager who told me something that upset me at that time: “as a leader, your main role is to serve your team.” I confess that it was a shock to me because this idea contradicted every single thing I imagined about the meaning of leadership. But as my methods didn’t work as expected, I decided to give it a try and this is what I learned; these are some traits of a leader who serves the people on his team:

serve

A leader who listens

Being able to listen is very important as a leader. Sometimes we tend to impose our opinions, make others listen to us and approve what we’re saying. A leader who serves should leave his/her ego apart, shouldn`t judge and should be open to listening. Most people want to be heard. And you know what? You will hear great ideas, great inputs, improvement recommendations. You will get to know your team members, to see how they work. What motivates them. You get to create bonds.

When you learn to listen properly to others, you find out more about their needs, about their dreams, about their career plans. You determine how you can serve them upon their feedback and this is a basic of a strong team work.

A leader who tells the truth, no matter what

When you are set at serving the others, lies don’t fit well. Being there for your team involves being transparent and standing for your truths and values.

Choose to be honest even if you`re afraid of people’s reactions. Sometimes telling lies seems the easy way. But as easy as it might be, it could lead to losing your team’s trust. At some point I had a situation on my team; I had to let go of one member of the team. Some voices advised me to keep it quiet, as the news could scare all the other members of the team and make them look for jobs elsewhere, ending up losing them all. What did I do? I told them the truth. I explained the situation and I assured them that their job is not in danger. And you know what? They stayed. And they appreciated the honesty.

truth; honesty

I ask for my team members to be honest. To trust me. To communicate even when bad things happen and try and find solutions together. How could I ask them all these if I don`t give them the same “treatment”?

Your team members are intelligent human beings with a great power of understanding. Try them. Be transparent. Always tell the truth. In the end, truth will always come out, so why not letting it come out from you?

No matter how bad the truth is, a lie is always worse and so is hiding the truth.

A leader who protects his team

When something bad happens or things go south, the leader who serves must face the situation head on. He/she takes responsibility and doesn’t throw anyone else under the bus. Of course, if it`s a team member the one who did wrong some measures will be taken privately and of course, with kindness. In front of upper management, client or no matter what other external part, the leader assumes and protects the team, always. The team needs to know that the leader has their backs.

A leader who sees the best in people

We are all humans, with good and not so good parts. We have moments when our worst part comes to light. Because we had a bad day. Or a difficult customer to handle. Or maybe it`s just not a good day for science. Maybe we are brilliant at some tasks, but we aren’t able to respect a deadline. A great leader sees the best in people and helps them improve the aspects that need to be worked on.

A leader who creates a good work environment

When you are set to serve others, you make sure that your team has a positive work environment. This is a place where people feel safe and comfortable. We spend a lot of time at work so we cannot afford to not make it be a good place. A good work environment is not only the physical place but the atmosphere. There is no room for tensions or conflicts. Of course when people work together, conflicts can happen but if the positive grounds are set, solutions will be found in no time.  One of my main objectives is to make my colleagues feel good at work. I want them to find something to enjoy at work and I like finding ways to make their days more pleasant at work. When people are happy they are motivated and we get to do great things together. The well-being of the team members is essential to build trust, respect, loyalty and motivation. The team members must know how important they are and what an important role they play in the team.

A leader who leads by example

When you promote a thing but you do the opposite, your credibility is lost. And I know from experience that when you lose trust, you lose everything.

When you ask your team to perform an action and you perform it the other way around, you lose respect. When you are in a leading position, people tend to look up to you. Don`t let them down!

A leader who trusts his team

As I said earlier we ask our teams to trust us but if the feeling is not mutual, it loses value. Trust your team. Empower them. There are a lot of things that they can make a lot better then you. Be there for them to support them when they need it, to serve them and to offer them the necessary to accomplish the mission, but let them be. Most importantly do and act!

trust, leader

Provide them also with information. When a problem appears put it out there and find a solution together. Don`t hide it from them, don`t assume they won`t understand or that they don`t care.

Be a leader who serves. Make the workplace a better place for your team. Be there for them. Help them learn. Support them to evolve. Get better together. Be a leader who serves!

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All about A team

Ok, maybe not all. At least not from the first post.


On my laptop, I have a sticker with a bunch of amazing people. I have so many beautiful things to say about them, that I am not really sure in which order to start their presentation. In this picture, it is my local team. I mentioned the “local”, because a part of our team is away, in another country. I`ll tell you more about managing a long-distance team in another post, it has a lot in common with a long-distance relationship, but now let’s focus on the team members that have to deal with me (almost) every day.

We are working in the IT area, in a service center. Some could call it a call center, but for us it’s a bit of a difference because in the call center you deal with final customers. For instance, at a call center you receive calls from the people who are using a service, such as telephony services. In a service center, it’s a bit more sophisticated, as our “customers”, or “users” as we like to call them, are the employees of another company and not its clients. All that to say that we are offering IT support to the employees of our client. So, if one user has an IT issue, he calls us. He has other ways of contacting us also, but I wouldn’t like to forget the purpose of this: presenting you my team.

about a team

My team members are my heroes: they all speak two or more foreign languages, they handle calls in different languages, they are patient, they are kind, they are polite and nice. Oh, and did I tell you that they are also innovative, always coming with improvement ideas and going the extra-mile each and every day? Sounds like the ideal team, isn’t it? Well, it is.

I won`t lie to you, we have bad days also, but together, as a team, we find ways to move forward. Sometimes, we learn it the hard way, some days one of us are not in the mood for science, but at the same time, you can always find someone who cheers us all up.


We started working on this project 2 years ago. We celebrated the 2 years some days ago. The team is pretty stable and I guess our secret is that we enjoy working together. I plan to tell you a lot about how we work together, how we make things better, how we motivate each other, how we handle the relationship with the team at distance, how we handle difficult users, how we manage to achieve our sla (service level agreement) on a long term, how we handle conflicts as team, but for now, I want only to say thank you to my great team who inspired the existence of this site and almost everything that you will be reading here.
My heroes, thank you!

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How to keep close with the team during isolation

We are living surreal difficult times, due to the COVID-19 or CORONAVIRUS. If some months ago we couldn’t even imagine how we could move our activity outside of the office, the current situation proved that everything is possible. Even keeping close, under these circumstances.

Our team work in a service center, so our main activity is to offer IT support via phone. So, who would have imagined an office-based team working from home from a day to the next? We were lucky, as the tools we use are flexible and we were able to adapt them out of the office in order for us to continue working with the minimum impact.

Change is not easy, yet we were forced to adapt to work each one from his corner, but keeping close in the same time. When working in a service center, or call center, one kind of depends of the others. When the activity involves taking calls, you have to pay attention at the availability, so you take breaks depending on the others, you have to monitor the waiting calls list and so on. Furthermore, at the office you can ask your colleague when you have a case you don`t know how to handle. At home, you are quite of on your own. Hence, how ca all these be covered when working remotely?

In order to keep close with the team and continue to realize our activity as if we were at the office, this is what we did:

  1. 1. Each morning, we open a group conversation on Skype
keep close
Keep close!

The goal is to remain in contact, so each day we find each other on this group conversation on Skype. Here:

– we share a screen with the “waiting calls” line;

– we talk about the cases and we exchange opinions about the solutions;

-we inform the others when we take a break;

-we exchange about the current situation and our concerns related to coronavirus.

2. Each Wednesday, at 20h, we have a Skype video call

In this reunion, we mix business with pleasure. We take a look at the numbers of the previous week, we talk about the cases and I take advantage of the moment to show all my love and appreciation for my team members.

keep close

Besides, we try to make fun of the situation, of each other and we plan the day that we will be back at the office.

One of my colleagues reads us the funny horoscope of the week, as he used to do when we were at the office.

3. WhatsApp group

Also, we have a WhatsApp group. It was created long before the COVID-19/ CORONAVIRUS event. We exchange about work. We send pictures. We have discussions about COVID-19, our fears and how we will manage this situation in the next period.

During the coronavirus and not only, the safety of the team is a priority, but it’s important also to keep close and to remain together. Because together we are stronger, better and will pass through this easier.

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Failure is a good teacher

When something doesn`t go well at work, I feel bad. Really bad. Mostly because I take all the failures very personal and because usually it affects many people and I am not comfortable with it.  When failure comes along, I feel like running in a closed space, getting anywhere and I feel like I want it all to go away. Fast. As fast as it can.

Failure can translate in losing a team member, receiving a complaint from a client, having an unhappy team, not being able to respect deadlines, lack of attending your objectives, being close to losing your job, receiving a negative feedback from your superiors, changing and getting rejected by your new team and the list can go on.

I experienced all the things listed before and much more. I had days wondering if I still need the job or if it is worth it to keep fighting. I had days when I felt like crying each morning before arriving at the office, knowing that I`ll have to face the blaming faces of my colleagues and managers.

Sometimes, when failing, you try to find a guilty factor: the team, a coworker, your boss. Nevertheless, eventually, you see your part in the failure and it feels awful. At that point, you feel lost, you start doubting yourself and your skills and you get frustrated. You feel like wanting to escape. At least it is how I react.

failure

Failure is not easy to handle. It takes courage, honesty, perseverance in order to get yourself together and make things right. It starts with seeing what went wrong in the first place and then, as Samuel Beckett said, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Failure is the best teacher. Failure dares you to do new things, to try new strategies, to innovate, to make things better. It teaches you that there is no limit out of the box. It shows you that you still can and you still have what it takes to do it. It opens new doors for you, as it can make you discover new skills and affinities.

There are a lot of articles, videos and books and this subject. With this one, I just wanted to remind you that you are not alone. Others were down this path also and they survived. Maybe this is not the first time, neither the last time you`re facing a failure, but think about all the lessons you learned the hard way and be grateful that you didn’t limit yourself by a comfortable “status quo”.

Failure is part of the journey, but dare to rise above it and transform it in a success. I believe in you!

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What makes a great team

According to the business dictionary, a team is “A group of people with a full set of complementary skills required to complete a task, job, or project.”

But what makes a team good? I consider my team a good one. The best I’ve ever had. The perfect team. And this is not due to the fact that my team members are perfect human beings (even if for me they are), but they are perfect team players.

They work well together, they are competitive, but at the same time they help each other and they rely on each other. During peaceful times they know how to have fun and play together; on the other hand, in challenging moments, they know how to take everything seriously and go the extra mile to achieve the best results.

One of our secrets is communication which is the common ground, a basic principle. When we have something to do, we present it, we discuss it and we exchange ideas. When dealing with difficult situations, we gather together, try to understand each other’s perspectives and eventually reach an accordance that satisfies everyone involved. If someone makes a mistake, here we go again: a discussion takes place. It’s how we build trust; it’s how we do things.

Together we do lots of extra activities that are not related to work such as games nights, karaoke nights or running sessions. This helps us to know each other better, to accept each other, to set or reset the expectations.

Not every day is full of rainbows, but having built strong basis right from the beginning and nurturing it every day, makes my team the best team ever.

team
We are in this together!

The text above was written before the covid-19 “episode”. Today, after 2 weeks and some days after starting the home office saga, I decided to re-write it.

The fact that my team is great was once again confirmed. We are working in a service center. This means that each member of my team has to take calls and help users remotely, offering IT support. Our customers are in home office as well, so it is a new situation for everyone involved in our activity.

The night before starting the activity in home office mode, I wasn’t able to sleep much. I felt a little lost, like if it was the day before starting a new project. Not because I didn`t trust my team, but I didn`t trust the technology. I wasn’t 100% sure that all our tools would work, that our home internet connection could handle the connection, that we could be able to communicate efficiently between the calls and so on. I had at least 10 negative scenarios disrupting my sleep. I wasn’t sure about how our work volumes would be impacted by the new state, about how people would react and the only thing that reassured me was the fact that I had no doubt about how amazing my team is.

The first week was a roller-coaster: we made a skype group, we paid attention to every little detail, we informed each other about breaks, customers, incidents and at the same time we shared opinions, emotions and fears related to the coronavirus. For the first time we worked separated, everyone from his place, but despite all the difficulties that appeared on our way we became closer than ever.

Don`t get me wrong, my team and I used to be close and do stuff together even before, outside of the office. But the new thing was that we were able to make a great job even while being apart. The idea is that when being part of a team, things get easier when your co-worker is physically near you. You can ask him/her for help, he comforts you when things get difficult, you joke around, you take lunch together and a lot of other little things that make life at work happier and more bearable. We used to take these things for granted and I guess we’ll value them much more when we’ll get back to normal. All this to say that in the last 2 weeks, our routine changed, but we remained united, we remained team players.

What makes a great team? In a great team, the team members have the same objectives and each one gives his/her best even when no one is watching. A great team has team players who understand each other, help each other, cover for each other.

A great team knows to face the unknown, the change. Change is never easy and this time we had to change everything from one day to another. Do you know what didn’t change? Let me tell you: the respect we have for each other, the trust, the common goal.

During these difficult times my colleagues managed to do their best and they’ve even outdone themselves. Without complaining, they proved each day that they are true professionals who can master our perimeter and they don’t let anything stop themselves from fulfilling their duties and even going beyond the expectations in order for things to be properly done and advance.

What makes a team great? I wish you could meet my team to see for yourself! A great team is made of beautiful human beings and I am beyond proud of mine!

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