Archives for category: General

We all go through lean periods. From a sales perspective, a winning perspective, business, pleasure, whatever. You have to have downs for there to be ups, so you can appreciate the ups.

Sometimes, when you’re in that trough, or on that plateau, it’s hard to see your way out or over, respectively. The one thing that keeps me going, however, is this.

Stuff comes through for you. It always does. If you keep working, making the effort, doing the right things, eventually stuff drops your way. It works out for you.

As Gary Player is thought to have said: “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” Luck is one thing, but working hard, working well, and working with your eyes wide open reaps its rewards.

It’s no more, and no less, than you deserve. Your just deserts.

 

 

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I don’t know what all this Brexit fuss is about…I’m kidding! It’s hard to imagine a topic that’s more pressing and more invasive for people, businesses and countries right now.

So it’s about time I jumped on the bandwagon. It’s not Brexit, or it shouldn’t be at any rate. Britain, or Great Britain to use its full moniker, is comprised of England, Scotland and Wales, in descending order of population.

Unfortunately, however, Britain isn’t scheduled to leave the EU on 29th March 2019. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is leaving. Northern Ireland is heading away too. That’s an extra country and about 1.8m more people. I wonder how the people of Northern Ireland feel about the term. Their opinion may well boil down to their upbringing.

So it’s not Brexit, it’s UKExit, technically. Should we say U-K-Exit, or Ukexit? Not as snappy and rollable-off-the-tongue, but more accurate nonetheless. Perhaps we could shorten it to NUKE – Non-UK Europe?

When you’re getting introductions to people over social media platforms like LinkedIn, it always helps to see a picture of the person. It helps you put a personality to the person.

When it’s the other way round – in other words when you speak to someone over the phone before you actually meet them, and you don’t know what they look like – you have to speculate on what the owner of that voice will look like.

Voices and faces are strange bedfellows in my experience. I often imagine what someone looks like and acts like from their voice, as it helps me make the connection in my head. I almost always get it completely wrong.

When you meet them, the face never seems to fit the voice you’ve listened to. Or, put another way, the face we put to the voice is not the face that belong with that voice.

Try doing it with a radio DJ, whose picture you’re not familiar with, obviously. If you don’t know what they look like, and ten people take a guess, I’m sure the guesses will vary wildly. Is that guess based on our own unique experiences? Probably.

It always reminds me how much can be wrong with the assumptions we make about people.

When I lived in the US I loved the drive thru. One of the benefits of living in a country which is relatively new and whose growth exploded at the same time as the growth of the motor car, is that places are geared to arrival and departure with the combustion engine. The US can be a very convenient way to do drive thru business.

Drive thru fast food, banking, liquor stores, car washes, and even drive thru mail boxes which are a fantastic thing; there are so many ways to get what you need done on the move.

Drive thrus never caught on as much in the UK and Ireland, probably because of the infrastructural thing I alluded to. Fast food stores like McDonalds abound in Ireland, but that’s about the only sector that has embraced it. I can think of one cash machine drive thru in south Dublin, that’s it.

Did I mention how convenient a drive-thru mailbox is? The alternatives for someone in a car faced with an inner city or inner town post box is to park and walk and post and walk and drive off, or else block the traffic and send a passenger or yourself to the post box for a few seconds which are agonisingly long for both you the driver and the vehicles behind you.

Of course, we’re being discouraged to drive less, walk or ride for a short trip, and generally take better care of ourselves and the planet, which I’m totally on board – rather than bored – with. Often, though, we bundle our errands and things to do into a single time-saving, efficient trip on the way to somewhere in the car, and for that the drive thru is invaluable.

Ah, the red UK post box. An iconic, timeless image, replicated thousands and thousands of times across the length and breadth of the country. Barely a few hundred yards apart, a part of the community, a true local service.

I don’t live in the UK, I live in Ireland, and the post boxes here are green. One thing I’ve noticed about living in Ireland, and I find it one of the very few irksome things because I’m used to the UK set-up, is that post boxes are few and far between. In fact, in the country they’re almost as rare as hen’s teeth.

Obviously there’s a huge cost attached to serving an infrastructure of thousands of drop points for post, and I’m sure the UK has ‘streamlined’ its own network of them over the last couple of decades. That said, a local post box is a huge community service and makes it so much easier for getting your letter or parcel from A to B. It’s the inverse of the last mile, and in sales the last mile can be very expensive to serve. In Ireland, they have post boxes at the post office, but you’d be hard pressed to find them anywhere else in small towns or decent sized villages.

The post box is a dinosaur, I know. Sometimes, though, when you can’t get near the post office – or it’s located in a place that’s impossible to stop near if you’re doing a drive by, it’s a big headache getting your package away.

A handy post box is something I never take for granted, and always try to memorise in towns I often go to.

Perhaps it’s being short of stature that leads to a sensitive radar on my part to terms that are used at the expense of people who are lacking in height.

When I hear the word shorty in hip hop songs, it’s usually used with regard to the male singer’s girlfriend or women in general. Yes, as a woman she’s typically shorter than her typically taller male counterpart, so is that a simple observation of height difference among the genders, or is it a term of control and marginalisation on the part of a certain group of society not known for its sense of equal rights?

I’ve no idea. There are plenty of women who are way taller than many men. I guess you have to ask the woman being called shorty, how she feels. I’ve been called ‘half pint’ or such terms before and while I’m sure in some cases the intent was to bully or intimidate I’m not in the least cowed by it. It is what it is. I’m shorter than the average adult male, whatever average is.

Incidentally, it transpires – clicking on the following link will take you a gif you may not want your grandma or 7-year-old to see – that in Hip Hop the term shorty has more meanings than girlfriend. It can also refer to a girl, boy or other kinds of ingenue. Smaller, more vulnerable people in other words.

Just sayin’.

Often a simple ‘thank you’ is all people need for the acknowledgement of their work. Someone remembering or taking time out to tell them that their efforts are appreciated.

So it is with ‘please’, the mannerly corollary to thank you. Simple, thoughtful manners go a long way to getting what we need, and sometimes what we want too. It makes the person we’re asking feel better about donating their time too. I always try to say please when I’m asking for something, no matter how insignificant the ask is. It’s a basic human courtesy.

In my view, we should be demanding that voice activation technologies like Siri and Alexa be reprogrammed to only comply with our commands when we say please. ‘Alexa, can you play Ten Story Love Song by the Stone Roses on Spotify, please?’ How hard is that?

Much more importantly, especially with youngsters, what great behaviours would those engrained manners encourage for interacting with other human beings?

I write this blog post as very much a non-connoisseur of the operatic genre. In fact, I’m not really a connoisseur of any musical genre. I like pretty much all types, with a tendency towards the mainstream, non-fringe, anodyne even.

Like most people in their mid-twenties when the Italia ’90 World Cup was on, I had never heard Nessun Dorma. My Dad was fluent in Italian, lived there, and would occasionally regale us with the first couple of lines from Verdi’s La Donna è Mobile. That was about the extent of my exposure to opera, except for a couple of very long evenings in the company of the English or Welsh National Opera for performances without a single song of note or recall.

The BBC chose Nessun Dorma as their theme tune for the event and catapulted Mr Pavarotti from serious fame to truly global renown. It may have helped the rise to prominence of the The Three Tenors, and countless other countries’ versions, but I’m not sure of the causality of that. Every time I come across his version of Puccini’s masterpiece on youtube or social media, I know that I will lose an ill-defined number of minutes watching various different recordings, all of them still spine-tinglingly good.

Other opera stars have sung this top 5 all-time favourite song of mine, but even to my untutored ear they don’t come close to the richness and depth of Signor Pav. You feel yourself lift off the chair as he moves to the massive tidal wave crescendo of Vincerò! So much charisma, so much presence, so memorable, even down to the obligatory white towel.

Don’t take my word for it, here’s one of the better recordings of the great man at work. I feel sure it will lift your spirits, at least for a while.

I’ve more or less banished paper from my work practices. I rarely keep information sheets that people give me in meetings, and take all my meeting notes in a notepad or text editor and arrange them in company or customer folders.

It’s a more organised way of carrying on I think, especially if your job is very mobile. No files or folders to remember to put in your bag, just your laptop and a power cable – happy days.

With one exception though. When I’m working in the home office I make to do lists as I go or as the thought comes to me: things I need to do, buy or ask. Once they’re done there’s no need to revisit the list or save it for digital posterity. And it’s great to take the scribbled list and shove it in your back pocket so you don’t forget any of the half dozen items or errands you need to complete while you’re in motion.

I have a tower of different coloured paper notes on my desk. They sit in a Jenga-like plastic dispenser, so there’s no need to buy ones with adhesive which either sticks them to a spine or to the sheet below and then to the laptop or wall once you’ve removed them from the block.

There’s also something cathartic about crossing stuff off a scribbled list and then recycling the paper note, that you don’t quite get by deleting an item off your digital TDL – that’s one of my most used TLAs – for ‘to do list’.

I blogged about January earlier this month, about how it’s a ‘kiss me arse’ month. I wrote about January, however, in mid-December or so, since if you blog regularly you tend to have a stock of posts scheduled at any one time.

How did January turn out? Well, you’re reading this at nearly the end of the month, so for you it’s my January retrospective, but I’m writing this with the guts of 10 days to go. I can give you pretty clear steer on it though.

I came back from a great break in the UK with dose of ‘man flu’, which I hardly ever get. It took me a week to get rid of, by which time it had migrated to a chesty, flegmy cough that warranted a trip to the doc’s and the parting of €63 for the visit and the accompanying anti-biotics. About the same time I also re-tweaked my troublesome left calf playing my first game of table tennis for a few weeks, before turning over in bed a few mornings later and precipitating a sore trapezius-back-of-the-shoulder-blade thingy which subsequently reminded me how often I unwittingly engage it in every-day movement.

This is all my own fault of course. I always view January as the necessary evil we all have to get through, the hangover from the party period of the previous month. I had it coming, in that self-fulfillingly prophetic way.

I’m going to take a leaf out of my mate Gaz’s book next year though. He’s always glad when Crimbo is out of the way and looks forward to January. A clean slate, get some things started, that new year, new you kind of a thing.

So I’m looking forward to an awesome January 2020. A new decade, and the world’s my oyster. Bring it on, except not just yet. I have 11 stellar months to enjoy first.