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Today is my birthday. Thanks for the free cake Hema.

Today is my birthday. I have received lovely birthday messages from family, friends, colleagues, clients and from a few people who I have never actually met and probably shouldn’t have LinkedIn with in the first place.

My parents, in-laws and children took the real-world route, with real cards in actual envelopes. Friends and colleagues mixed it up with WhatsApp, Facebook and text messages and former colleagues and random strangers sent LinkedIn messages. All in all, lots of messages, sent in lots of ways.

I also received emails from brands wishing me a happy birthday. And surprisingly, in this age of big data and personalisation, most were just generic birthday wishes. And, like the messages from random strangers on LinkedIn, frankly felt a bit creepy.

Now, I’m OK about sharing my data, if used for a purpose. Even if that purpose is only to make me feel a bit special on my birthday. Otherwise using my data, without much thought and attention, has the opposite effect.

So top marks to Hema. Not only the very first brand to wish me a happy birthday this morning, but the only brand to gift me free cake, or a tompouce to be specific. Thanks Hema for understanding that data is about give and take.

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