Category Archives: Uncategorized

How I found inspiration in Alan Bennett and a bruised bum.

A few days ago I went sledding with my family.

We don’t get much snow usually but this was perfect. The sun was shining and there was a blueish sheen over everything.

The kids asked me if I was going to have a go and I paused for a moment. Do I want to be the kind of mum who never joins in, or do I want to be someone who is always up for it and willing to have a go ?

It was great fun while it lasted. But I ended up in hospital with seven stitches to a rather inconveniently placed gash. The lump of rock definitely came off best.

Yes I am in agony and yes I am cheesed off that I am not at my best for Christmas but do you know what ? I don’t regret it.

You’ve got to be in it, you’ve got to take part. I am not prepared to let my life pass me by. That’s why I write my blog and get involved in twitter and immerse myself in the life that I want to live.

I saw a programme on TV with the fantastic writer Alan Bennett last night in which he said you have to turn off the voice inside your head that says ‘you ? you can’t do that.’

So I will write and I will share it  and I may well fall on my butt again. But so what ?Happy Christmas!

Do you make this twitter mistake ?

When I log onto Twitter I spend most of my time clicking through to articles and blogs suggested by people in my stream. It’s a great way to access content that I might not spot and has the added bonus of a personal recommendation.

Or does it ?

I am worried about the trend towards automating links. I understand why people do it. You have a business to run and actual real live clients to see, but when I click on a link I like to think it is because you said it was good.

Twitter for me is about building authentic relationships, whether that is a business connection or a new friendship or something in between. I think   you risk forfeiting authenticity if you’re not across what you are passing on and for me, well I just feel cheated if I’m not getting the real deal.

We need to earn a position of trust in the Twitter community by consistently passing on stuff which is interesting useful or funny and then sticking around to talk about it.

I know automated tweeting is a hotly debated topic so please tell me what you think, especially if you disagree !

Whatever we feel about politics in Iran, what are the implications for social media ?

I was just working out my response to social media being hi-jacked by campaigners when I got news that Twitter had come under cyber attack.

It appears that a group claiming to be the Iranian Cyber Army managed to redirect Twitter users to its own site displaying a political message. The hi-jack seems to be in response to people using Twitter to discuss democracy in Iran and to link up with other campaigners.

Whatever we feel about politics in Iran, what are the implications for social media ?

In the bad old days news and opinions were published in the newspapers and were obviously subject to the control and political opinions of their owners. Those with other ideas could either start their own publications or campaign in a more direct way, taking their views to the streets.

Now with the arrival of social media anyone can have a blog, Facebook page or Twitter account and everyone can have their say (subject of course to restrictions placed on them by their home government.)

In general  it is a profoundly democratic step forward.

Which brings me to the issue I was pondering in the first place.

There is a campaign, started on Facebook, to make the band Rage Against the Machine the Christmas number one single rather than Geordie Joe who won the X Factor. Can I complain if little Joe loses out ?  Nope I don’t think I can, although he seems like a really nice bloke and I think he deserves his five minutes of fame.

We have to accept that social media are just pathways, like  roads or phone lines. They are neutral, enabing things to happen. We can’t choose what.

Can we police social media though ? Clearly hi-jacking Twitter is not legitimate use. But what about hateful politics like racism ? Should accounts be denied to racists and what about spam ? After all that is just selling and there are plenty of people using Twitter to sell stuff even if it is very subtle and comes under the umbrella of ‘marketing’.

These are questions I would really like answers to. If you have any thoughts it would be great to share them.

My best Christmas present ever.

I’m veering off topic wildly today as not only is it Friday but it really is getting near Christmas.  I know it’s not that near in a man’s world but if I leave this post until December 24th then it really will be too late for this to work, sorry guys.

Because what I am about to tell you is the secret of  success, how to get her the best present ever, the one that she will remember for years to come, the one that lets you be the hero of your own Christmas.  Ready ?

You have to get her what she wants.

Don’t groan. It’s not a trick, it’s sound advice. You will know what she wants because she will tell you.  All you have to do is ;

  • Listen. She will mention what she wants several times in the run up to Christmas, perhaps wistfully in passing or with increasing urgency, but I guarantee she will mention it.
  • Look. Women often leaves clues and hints about the place. Is there a brochure open on the kitchen counter at a certain page or a  catalogue with the corner turned down and a BIG circle drawn around an item ? That could be the clue you are looking for.

If this fails then you need to start crowd sourcing. Your workplace is really good for this, especially if a lot of your co-workers are female. What do they want for Christmas ? What shops and brands really tick the box for them. I have received some really rather nice gifts via the hot brand method .

Want to know what they are ?

  • Tiffany
  • Jo Malone
  • Clarins
  • Godiva Chocolate
  • Smythson stationery

I also love most of the cashmere clothing and nightwear at The White Company  www.thewhitecompany.com  but one year my husband decided to buy me a sheet from their finest Egyptian cotton range and I can only say, nice idea, but guys, if you want to be a hero, don’t buy her sheets for Christmas.

Respect the customer, lessons from the heavy sell.

So, anyway. I’ve started this great new hobby. I sing in a choir !

I know it sounds like I’ve turned into my mother but it is actually really cool. We sing gospel and Motown type stuff and once you stop feeling stupid it is very therapeutic. We ‘ooooohh’ and ‘ahhhhhhh’ as if we were member of the Supremes without the spangly dresses. A girl can dream.

If you’re wondering why I’m sharing this with you it’s because it is also a successful business.  It’s a smart idea and the choirs are spreading. I should imagine that the copyright on the songs and arrangements is the biggest cost and once that is sorted, the more choirs you have the more income you can generate.

But even though I love it and admire the business model I have a problem.

Over-selling.

As a member I am being asked to attend public events, which can only amount to free publicity for the brand, purchase branded clothing and listen to quite a lot of ‘heavy sell’.  When a lot of people are handing over cash for an experience like this it would be better to take a slightly lighter approach and at least give members the illusion that they have a stake in it. If you take your customers for granted then they may vote with their feet.

I am signed up for another term,  so I’m prepared to go with the flow for the moment.  But never under-estimate the consumer, we need to be treated with respect.

Get out !

Today my advice is simple. Get out and go for a walk. It drives you mad sitting and looking at a screen all day. You start to forget what on earth you were trying to acheive in the first place.  It’s quite cold out there and it’s a bit soggy underfoot, but we can get by. ‘The sun is shining come on get happy !’.

Well I know the dog will thank me for it if nobody else will.

Bye !

Best person not always right for the job.

I was really stuck by a piece in the London Evening Standard http://www.standardonline.newspaperdirect.com/ a couple of days ago which suggested that employers should not hire the person most suited for the job.

Sounds a bit controversial but the argument made sense. The perfect CV isn’t always the perfect employee. If the candidate can already do the job or is even doing it somewhere else, are they going to go the extra mile for you ? What have they got to strive for, how are they going to grow in the role ?

So often these days when jobs are hard to find, I hear of excellent candidates who don’t even get an interview because their skills are not the perfect mix. I know why it happens. Employers are faced with hundreds of applications for one post and they make a strict decision to cut out everyone who fails to fit all the criteria they are looking for.

But I think employers need to show more imagination. The waste of ability out there at the moment is shocking. Women alone are an enormous pool of talent who don’t always get picked up because of time out of the workplace and an irrational fear from employers.

I say, take a chance, look at a wide range of people, let the candidates speak for themselves.  Who wants to hire a CV ?