The title of this post should really be ‘tomorrow’s buttocks’, but that would send the wrong message entirely. There is a serious message to it believe me.

I don’t know about you, but I get ideas any time, any place. Ideas for things I need to buy, ideas for blog posts, business ideas, and so on. You have to strike while the iron’s hot. To prevent them from becoming simply a fleeting thought that I can’t possibly recall, I jot the idea down, sometimes with a few words of explanation, in case the title of the idea is too pithy or esoteric for me to get to the kernel of it.

I was telling my wife the other day that I needed to create a blog post. She recalled that I was driving an iea and asked her to put a couple of words into her phone’s notepad for me to use as inspiration later. When she pulled up the not, it simply said ‘tomorrow’s buttocks’. I know, me neither. It could have been autocorrected, but from what I simply have no idea. It’s gone, the fleeting thought has fleeted, for good.

Is this what it’s like to be a detective, trying to piece together from the tiniest of clues what happened in an event, what people were thinking and what caused them to behave the way they did? Tough gig.

If it were important enough, ike an idea for a great melody, it would have come back to me. But how many millions have been lost, or how different might the world be, and the things we take for granted, from fleeting thoughts that people never executed?


I meant to call my wife the other day, but ended up calling the next name down my favourites list, my youngest brother. His 8-year old son answered the phone. The call went like this:

  • Hello?
  • Oh…[nephew’s name], is that you?
  • Yes, who is this?
  • It’s your uncle Paul, sorry, I called you by mistake..
  • Do you want to speak to my Dad?

Kids are great, aren’t they? They have no filter. You always know where you stand with them.

As we get older we develop layers of self-consciousness and diplomacy. Consequently, we have to peel back layers with adults to get to what they really mean. Sometimes this can present a challenge with sales and marketing, especially when we’re looking for feedback or indication from a customer about what they really think of our product, service or company.

The number of layers each adult has depends on their own unique filter setting. As you probably know, some adults have a low filter setting, blurting out exactly what they think in an uncontrolled fashion, or else telling you exactly what they think because that leaves no room for ambiguity. I much prefer this, as honesty is true feedback, as long as they don’t express it in a needlessly nasty way.

Many adults on the other hand, and this varies culturally, have a high filter and our job is then to try and get to what they really mean, by probing and asking essentially the same question in a different way.

Getting work done – by other people who do it for a living – around the house is always difficult I find. It’s feast or famine, from a supply point of view.

When the economy is tanking, no-one has any money and providers can’t get enough work, so they get involved in other areas. Famine for them. When the economy is flying, there’s too much work to go around and you can’t get anyone. But, because providers can only do the jobs for which they have available people, they can pick and choose between jobs and their schedules are chockablock for the short term. That’s the feast.

For those of us who don’t want to wait around beyond the short term, we encounter voicemails and our messages don’t get returned. When we finally get them to agree to an appointment, they don’t keep it, or they rearrange it, more than once. They play a balancing act of keeping everyone on the long finger so they can do concurrent jobs and always know what’s coming down the pipe, at least for next new weeks. The end customer suffers from a less than perfect outcome.

You get what you pay for, which simply heaps the pipeline of possible work onto the few reliable providers of house-related work, those folk that call when they say they’ll call, quote when they say they’ll quote, and start the job when they say they’ll start. And, because they know that almost all the competition is unreliable, they can charge a premium for their services.

Yes, it’s feast or famine. Unless you have a relative in the professions or you can do it yourself, getting stuff done is hard.

Mothercare store front

I was at my mother’s house in England the other day, casting an eye over all the toys we had as kids, which she has saved of course, and which her grandkids now enjoy.

I came across the edge of a toy package from Mothercare. This company has been around for ages and is clearly a highly respected name in anything to do with children. I love the identity – which I think the company has now moved away from – with the little child image literally under the protection of the m of mother.

What struck me for the first time that I can remember was how outdated the name was; the actual words mother and care put together to make a new name, as many company and product brands do. Back when Mothercare came into being, parenthood was possibly the almost exclusive preserve of the female parent, and that’s simply not the case any more.

The funny thing is, and I feel this about many household names and brands, we never question the name. We see the word mothercare and we equate it with a parenting brand for children. This is what a brand does to us. We rarely take the name out of context, deconstruct it, before realising that it’s perhaps not as appropriate as it used to be.

I think there are lots of examples of this, brands that we take for granted because they’re much more than the sum of their words. Lots of them, hiding in plain sight.

In this ultra-PC world we live in, as I’ve noted previously, communication is never far away.

I was travelling on a train in the UK the other day and the automated announcer reminded everyone that they needed a ticket to travel and couldn’t get one on the train. This message came from the ‘Revenue Protection’ department.

That’s the fraud protection department, right, since travelling without a ticket is fraud? I’m left wondering what message they’re going for, what impression they’re trying to project, with the term revenue protection.

Isn’t that a little like calling a short person like me vertically challenged? Perhaps they don’t want to antagonise the fare-dodger.

If someone travels without a ticket, and they’re not entitled to free travel, then they’re damaging the profitability of the transport company. As a consequence, all of us fee-paying passengers are indirectly punished when the company has to raise fares, or reduce services, or go for more government subsidy – which is of course a function of the taxes you and I pay – and we end up paying more.

So why not call it what it is? Fraud prevention is better, methinks.

I was at a 5th birthday the other day. I haven’t been to one in a long time, and I’d forgotten how frenetic they can be, but I was over in the UK and my nephew was going, so why not I thought.

One of the youngest kids there had a pair of running shoes on, which flashed when his foot landed on the floor. Except, these weren’t your normal flashing shoes. The whole foam base of the shoe was full of lights which changed colour every few seconds. White soles, then blue, then green, yellow, red, purple.

I want a pair.

Trouble is, you can’t get them for adults, I’m sure. They would be fantastic at music festivals and parties.

If you see a pair of adult light up shoes, let me know. I’m a European 42, UK size 8, US size 9…

The Win/loss analysis is a really important part of business. That said, when people think about win/loss analysis, they generally mean loss analysis.

Calling up the customer, asking how did we lose out, what could we have done better, who got ahead of us. This is all valuable information for introducing back into the mix so that we can improve.

Not many companies actually do win/loss analysis, which is a glaring omission in strategy and sales process. The funny thing is, and this even worse, people hardly ever do the win analysis call or meeting. Why did we win? Why did you give us the business? Where could we have improved? These are vitally important questions, and the answers to them are even more important.

I did a short, 20-minute win analysis call with a customer the other day. He said, ‘I’ve been doing this job 9 years, and I handle around 30 tenders a year. This is only the 3rd time someone’s done a win analysis debrief with me.’ So that’s 1 win analysis call every 90 tenders, a fraction over 1%.

The win analysis call is the simplest, most obvious sales call that no-one hardly ever does. I’m in a generous mood, here’s another one: going back to a recent new customer and asking them for 1 to 3 more non-competing sales leads.

This is obvious, right?

In this sophisticated world that we live in, communication has become equally sophisticated. Technology is of corse front and centre in this.

But as the communication industry becomes more and mature, you tend to see quote a bit of the ‘opposite is true’ phenomenon. I define this as the situation where people say one thing but everyone else knows that they mean the 180-degree opposite. It’s pretty common in political situations, with both a small p and a large P.

Here’s a couple of examples:

  • ‘Asking for a friend’. We all know that they’re not asking for a friend, they’re asking for themselves. This has become a standard joke these days in potentially embarrassing ‘Agony Aunt’-type situations
  • ‘Such-and-such has the full support of the board.’ Whether they’re a sports manager or a political leader, this can only mean one thing: they don’t have the full support of the board and their days are numbered

Note that I don’t include¬†Fake News in this category. That’s the type of communication designed to dupe us all into believing that the opposite of the opposite is true.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Gone are the days where we work ludicrous hours, unless we have our own business, earn stupifyingly large amounts of money or have a misplaced and unrequited sense of loyalty to our employer. It’s all about work-life balance these days and so we tend to work a reasonable amount of hours.

Which brings me back to my original question. I worked recently with an SME which had two principal guys. One started very early and finished at a reasonable time. The other started reasonably late and finished late. Their dovetailing partnership worked well and they were able to provide longer corporate coverage as a result.

I find that if I’m doing intense stuff like writing then an early start brings out the best in me. If I’m doing other kinds of work, then a later start seems to pay off. When I was a student, I was a night owl – on the studying/working front. As I’ve got older I’ve found that the early bird suits my lifestyle balance better. Plus, I’m usually mentally wiped by the end of the day.

As a consequence of this I find it really helps me to plan out my working week, and even into the weekend. Plotting the early bird and the night owl requirements ahead of time means that I get the required rest and family time, as well as the work done.

It’s really hard for native English speakers to agree on the correct definition of this week vs next week. Even family members confuse each other. How much harder must it be for non-native speakers, unless they’ve been taught an easier, simpler way?

Then there’s this weekend vs next weekend. If it’s Wednesday today, does this weekend or next weekend start in 2 days’ time? Tricky one. Sometimes we have to qualify ourselves by saying something like ‘this week coming’. Awkward. It interests me that something so basic and important is subject to such variance.

For me it’s a simple distinction, like the distinction between this and that, which governs how we explain the difference to those speakers of language who have no separate word (‘dieser’ being both this and that in German). I argued in that post that this is close in time and place, and that is less close in time and place. With me so far?

This week is the week we’re in right now, and I count my week from Monday to Sunday.

This weekend is the first weekend after today. If it’s a Saturday or Sunday, this weekend is the one I’m in, right now.

Next week is the week commencing Monday. If it’s a Sunday, next week starts tomorrow. If it’s a Monday, next week starts a week today because I’ve started this week. If it’s any other day than Monday, next week starts on Monday.

Next weekend is not this weekend, it’s the one after.

However, if you count your weeks from Sunday to Saturday, then all bets are off, because if it’s a Sunday then for you next week starts next Sunday, not tomorrow :-). Ha, I’m actually laughing out loud as I write this.

Should I have used a diagram? Do you agree with my definition? Do you care?