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04 October 2017

Paranoia .... or rational concerns?

Smashed iPad

Caption: The remains of an iPad screen

OK ... I’ve smashed my iPad screen. Stupid thing to do after being so careful for three or more years. It’s covered on insurance but a £200 excess makes that an unrealistic option.

So, I’ve just searched the Arndale Centre in Manchester for a screen replacement option at a reasonable price ... and found one for £69, which seems a reasonable deal.

So far so good. The repair will take around two hours and all was well until the repairer asked me for my password.

“Why?” I asked

“Just in case we need to calibrate the screen” he replied.

“Or to search for and steal all of my passwords and then empty my bank accounts!” said my paranoia.

I didn’t give him my password. Not because I didn’t trust him ... after all, I had no information to determine whether he was or was not trustworthy ... but because it seemed rational not to hand out my password to someone I’d just met.

That same rationality will get me to check my bank balance when I get my repaired iPad back ... or is that paranoia?

By Geoff Kershaw, 04 October 2017 – 0 comments

29 August 2017

The benefits of live Networking … worthwhile or much ado about nothing?

We could all spend pretty much all day everyday networking … and from what many a business guru tells us it almost appears that we should be. However, this leaves very little time to do any actual work and begs the question “is networking actually worth it anyway?”.

I’m not a natural ‘joiner’ of groups at networking events, particularly ‘closed’ groups of colleagues/previous networking friends who don’t appear to have a ‘me’ sized hole in their group and who seem to be getting on quite nicely without my input. It’s all pretty uncomfortable really.

And is it worthwhile anyway … will it actually get me opportunities to really discuss the products and services I have to offer?

My previous experience of ‘open’ networking gatherings suggests the answer is ‘no’ … or is that just me? Organisations like Business for Breakfast and BNI are clearly offering a whole different type of networking which can prove very successful for many small businesses, and other ‘focussed’ networking events can also be useful. But if you’re not particularly comfortable with putting yourself forward in public then there may be a better way, one which has delivered dividends for me recently.

Writing posts and articles on group sites like Manchester Professionals or LinkedIn can get you noticed by people in an effective way and open the door to contacting them to thank them for their interest in what you’ve said (of course, you must make sure whatever you write is relevant to who you really are and reflects your genuine attitudes and behaviours). If a connection naturally develops then the relationship can mature over time to discover more about each other and see if any business opportunities present themselves for either party.

So much more natural than a desperate search for someone ‘useful’ at an open networking event … and something that has given me some great connections recently, connections that have provided mutual opportunities for business growth as well as burgeoning friendships.

I hope you’ve found this interesting … I may be in touch!

By Geoff Kershaw, 29 August 2017 – 0 comments

17 July 2017

Retiring at 96 … is this the future?

Picture the scene:

It’s early July 2017. The venue is the lush parkland garden of Holyrood Palace. Around 1,000 people are gathered to meet the Duke of Edinburgh on the occasion of the presentation of Gold awards to around 350 young people, each accompanied by two family members. The guests stand in 12 roughly equal groups spread over an ‘L’ shape of around 300 metres in length. Each group forms 2 flat semi circles facing each other, with young people on one side and their family members (the larger part of the group) on the other. DofE hosts and a guest award presenter take position at the end of each of the 12 ‘eye’ shaped groups (I was delighted to be taking part as the guest presenter and inspirational speaker for Group 10).

Prince Philip leaves the Palace and walks the 200 metres towards the bandstand where the band begins to play the National Anthem (apparently you’re not supposed to sing the words at a Royal event if the Queen isn’t present … although some guests do).

After the Anthem he walks a further 100 metres or so to arrive at Group 1, where he spends time talking to a small number of award recipients and their family members before moving on to group 2 … and so on until he’s visited all 12 groups.

Approximately 600 metres walked in just over an hour, during which time representatives of over 1,000 guests are chatted to.

And the Duke is 96!

An incredible man who deserves his announced retirement (this was the last Gold Award presentation he would be attending personally) and I wish him some time to enjoy it.

Clearly the Duke will have benefitted from the very best of healthcare and the best of pretty much everything else too … but to still be able to take on this kind of challenge with the degree of vim and vigour that he showed on the day is quite remarkable and a lesson to us all. Many of us born into the welfare state after WW11 have also benefitted from the excellent care provided by the NHS throughout our lives but I wonder how many of us expect to be able to perform with such energy at 96, still doing our ‘day job’? Not many, I imagine.

What about our children and grandchildren? With the excellence of healthcare comes longer lives for many, all of whom are expecting to get support in their ‘old age’ through state pensions. As is becoming increasingly obvious, there may not be enough money available to pay these universal pensions at the present level as people live longer. Add to that the enormous costs of elderly care, and the divisiveness of suggested ways of paying them, and we have a concerning mix of worries for whatever government is in power.

The obvious solution, and one which has already begun to take shape, is for people to work longer before reaching pension age. But how much longer? To age 96? Almost certainly not … not for a long while yet anyway.

How nice it would be for the petty inter-party squabbling to stop, leaving everyone in a position to actually do something about the problem to get together to solve it (bizarre concept!).

I would have thought that there are some fairly straight forward questions that can be answered right now:

1. How much money is currently required to pay pensions to those of pensionable age?

2. How much money is currently required to pay for the care of those ‘pensioners’?

3. How much is the number of those owed pensions and requiring care going to increase over the coming years?

Once the ongoing totals are known, surely a sensible, non partisan debate can be had to work out the best ways of paying them?

Let’s face it, one way or another we’re all going to be involved in the challenge of longer lives if we aren’t already, so let’s get together and reach a sensible consensus about the best way to proceed, because working until we’re 96 currently seems a bit extreme.

By Abbie Stewart, 17 July 2017 – 0 comments

12 May 2017

No leaders debate ... maybe we can help?

With Teresa May refusing to get involved in any televised pre-election debates one wonders why Jeremy Corbin has followed suit ... surely, taking part without the PM being there would be like shooting into an open net, no-one to provide the instant rebuttals and alternate sound bites to counter his proposals?

I think I know why.

As I wrote in an earlier post, Mrs May is not a natural presenter, coming in as she does at the 'adequate' end of oratory. Whatever your politics, it would be reasonable to agree that Mr Corbin is, at best, in a similar place on that scale. It may be that the PM decided she'd prefer not to appear at all rather than not do particularly well ... and her absence has given the leader of the opposition the opportunity to back out for similar reasons.

Like many CEO's and other business leaders, what they both need is some training in the art of skilful presentation delivery and the ability to face challenging questioning from a less than impartial audience.

If anyone happens to be chatting with either of them in the next few weeks please give them our number ... we can help.

By Abbie Stewart, 12 May 2017 – 0 comments

12 April 2017

A real problem ... or just a bit of fluff?

I’ve been facing a crisis for months. I worried about it every day and it regularly held up my work. I couldn’t see any way out….

The problem was that my iPhone would not connect properly with a charger or any other device. I had to fiddle with the lead, constantly re-inserting and bending the cable until suddenly, miraculously, it connected. This stopped me easily supporting our app developer with his new iterations to be loaded via iTunes and … yes … charging my phone.

Eventually, after months of frustrating, annoying, wind-upping (?) periods of non-connection I finally went to the Apple Store … where it took around 2 seconds for the problem to be solved.

It was fluff … a collection of the stuff that had, over time, inserted itself into the little charging slot at the bottom of the ‘phone.

Just fluff … which took the eminently capable ‘Apple Store’ Andrew about 2 seconds to remove with what looked like the end of a paper clip.

The angst created for me by this crisis, every day for many months, is not to to be underestimated … and it was just fluff!

So, how many other perceived crises are in fact just bits of fluff?

I’m guessing quite a few. So, from now on, when something is really getting me down, appears insoluble and is creating daily annoyance. I’m going to search for the nearest metaphorical paper clip … and get the fluff out.

How about you?

By Abbie Stewart, 12 April 2017 – 0 comments

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