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Revamp, rebrand, converge

Well now. It's been quite a while since I put pen to paper (metaphorically speaking) in earnest but as I have revamped the site I thought it might be nice to explain what this is all about.

In the first instance it's about bringing some parts of my life together in one place.

You might have arrived here looking for me: Joe, the person, or for 8TY20, the company. Don't be surprised. They're converging.

Specifically what that means is bringing the commercial enterprise I run together with my own "presence" since, in reality, the two are one and the same.

In one sense I'm making me, my name, my personality, etc. be a visible "brand" for my commercial company (because, that's the true reality) and in another sense I'm opening up the commercial side to transparency about the fact that it's me... warts and all

Which is why, for example, I have not edited out any of the history of this blog to "sanitise" if for commercial purposes.

If you want to engage me commercially to take photographs, film, build a computer system, consult on transformation or any other reason; you're getting me. The person you see here. The person you see on any of the social media channels I engage with.

No matter why you're here: Commercial purposes, friendship, just looking around, fancy a chat, whatever... I want to be 100% authentic, honest and open with you so you know exactly who you're dealing with.

Therefore as I say. Warts and all. This is me.

Welcome! :)

Suicide Squad: Mini Review

Just over a week ago my lady and I went to the cinema to see Suicide Squad. I was well aware of the critical distain for the film but as my tastes frequently lead me to like things which critics hate, I went in with an open mind and looked forward to being wowed by the nastiest bunch of miscreants the world has ever depended on.

As we left the cinema after the film, my lady and I discussed and generally agreed that it "wasn't bad" but could have been much more. We posited that many of the critics probably watched it with higher expectations than we went in with and therefore marked it down unfairly. As first impressions go, I suppose that wasn't the worst.

However as we discussed more in the car on the way home we started to pick it apart a bit more and by the time our fifteen minute drive home had finished we were now at the point of: "ok, it was bad but not as bad as 'Batman vs Superman' (our yardstick for big budget action movie with extreme suck)". Further down a slippery slope then but not rock bottom.

However, the following evening while my Lady was at a hen night, I watched "Hardcore Henry".

To say that this experience put the previous night's less than thrilling one into it's proper perspective for me is something of an understatement. Simply put; I had a revelation which felt like an opening of my eyes.

Let me first say that HH is not for everyone for two key reasons: 1. It's filmed in the first person perspective of the eponymous protagonist, Henry, he of the hardcoreness and all that. 2. It's hyper violent and several levels above on gore beyond what most action/action-hero movies will go for.

The first point definitely presents a difficulty (in my opinion, supported by the evidence of my household) for non-gamers (i.e. non FPS gamers) who find that perspective just too unsettling to be able to get into the movie. As an avid gamer for decades, this perspective is second nature to me but I entered into the experience expecting to hate the "gimmick" especially as I'd be an observer without agency whereas my normal experience of the First Person perspective I generally have some sort of agency and ability to affect the action. However, I was completely wrong. It's no gimmick. It is an incredibly clever (and I imagine difficult to carry off so well) filming technique which really suited the whole tone and style of the story.

The Protagonist, Henry, who never speaks and through who's eyes you observe the world of the film somehow manages has far more charisma than any of the characters in SS.

In sharp contrast to the slow "backstory build" of SS, HH moves Henry along at a crazy pace almost from the get-go, hardly ever stopping for breath, yet manages to give Henry a character of his own with his motivations apparent (admittedly his number 1 motivation is a pretty simple one - save the girl) without having to do an hour of background.

The point I'm making is that the action in HH is a device to move the story forward... In SS, the story is a (poor) device to get to the next action sequence... it just doesn't work.

Add to that the fact that Sharlto Copley plays crazy ten different ways and every single one of them is ten times better than Jared Leto's attempt at the Joker and the yawning gulf in talent is cringingly visible. If this is Leto at his "method" best then it's a pretty shitty method in my opinion. What's he got in his tool-chest? "I need to make the Joker seem crazy now. Cackle. Done." Rinse-Repeat.

[Note: I started writing this after the movie and then forgot about it for the intervening time... Then last week the digital download version including extended edition came out and I rewatched... yep.. still sucks... Extended suck... so may as well continue where I left off]

And therein lies the rub of SS and why it doesn't work. The Joker is a 1 dimensional caricature who had no agency, no motivation, he exists as scenery and plot device and nothing more. That's bad... but what's worse is that this is true of every character.

They're also totally inconsistent. These are the baddest badasses on the planet and when they're let off the leash what do they do? They immediately form an unbreakable bond of friendship with each other after a three minute fight and subsequently with their jailer. Who knew that Stockholm syndrome could come into play so quickly? Oh... and Harley Quinn steals a bag... man, that's one crazy bad girl...

Ultimately my recommendation is: If you can take the first person perspective and hyper-violence and you're looking for a movie with badasses (with questionable moral compasses) then don't waste your money on SS. HH is 10 times the movie.

A change of pace...

Although I'm very happy with life in general it's been weird and hectic for a couple of years and not always in a good way.

I've put on far too much weight and have been very sedentary. I've more-or-less stopped producing anything and have been in consumption mode for too long.

Time for a change of pace and a new approach to life methinks.

So... also time to get back to writing. No real agenda this time... just write because... well.. just because.

This is likely to be very random...

Friendship...

It occurred to me this morning that the friendships I value the most are those special easy ones where we don’t need each other all the time but we’ll always be there in time of need.

I know it’s not a new or earth shattering thought but I just wanted to capture it and let my friends know that, even though I’m often “lazy” about phoning, texting, emailing etc. that doesn’t mean my love for them is any less and that they can always call on me in times of need.

I’m just rubbish at keeping in touch sometimes. Sorry.

Reboot!

Initialising….

Command sequence engaged…

Operating system starting…

Engaging primary systems…

Engaging secondary systems…

System online…

login>_

and I did it again...

Don’t worry. I’m not going to post every darned time I do a run, I’m just following up because tonight I pushed myself a bit harder (and it was great) and I remembered a few more things I’ve learned which I forgot to mention.

Tonight I had to run on my own because of family commitments which meant I couldn’t run with my running pack (at the time they were running). I was fairly daunted by that because they’ve more-often-than-not carried me through when I probably would have stopped but I knew I just had to go do it otherwise the disapproval when we run at the weekend from the other members of the pack would be impossible to bear.

The pace we run at as a pack is based around that of the slowest member. At the beginning we had people running at their own pace and “looping back” into the group but by unspoken agreement we concluded that this wasn’t the best way. It was a group of individuals running and meeting up periodically and it was destroying the pack mentality so we fell into a proper pack pattern and we now run at the pace which keeps us together.

Thing is, though, my leg stride is longer and I’m shortening it (and running slower) to match the pack pace. This evening, I decided to run at my own pace and see how I did.

Man… it was gruesome pretty much out of the gate. I’d gone about 1.5 Km and was puffing as much as I usually do at the end of a normal run. I seriously thought I would not complete 15 minutes let alone run for 30+ minutes. This is where the gift my pack has given me; that belief that I can push through and achieve the goal, stood me in good stead.

I not only ran 5Km, I ran it an average of 50second per KM faster than normal and also, when I was really suffering at 4Km, I forced myself to increase my pace and ran the last 1Km in 5mins 31sec (and I pretty much sprinted the last 100 metres). Again not the worlds fastest pace but relative to my usual pace and certainly relative to where I started 2 months ago, it’s a huge jump up and all the more gratifying because I pushed myself to this when I really was thinking I could do no more.

I’m not saying this to be boastful (although I’m feeling proud of myself tonight) but to illustrate once more that anyone (and If I can, then I really do mean anyone) can get off their arses and do far more than they think they can if only they’re willing to put their heads down, grit their teeth, push through the pain and discomfort and just do it.

Therefore my message is this: maybe running isn’t your bag, but just find something that is and get stuck in. Start slow and just don’t stop until you’ve achieved your goal. Then set another goal and another and another…

A few other things I’ve learned.

  1. If running is something you’re interested in, a good pair of running shoes is essential and can save you so much pain and suffering.

  2. Running socks! Don’t run in any-old-socks! Get some real running socks. Not cheap but worth their weight in gold.

  3. Every once in a while, push yourself beyond where you think your limit lies… you’ll most likely be surprised (and gratified).

As an aside I do have to admit that I appear to be developing an unhealthy fetish for Lycra… but that’s a whole other topic (which we’ll never discuss).

I ran 5K

This week, I ran 5K.

Ok, so what’s there to shout about? Many of my friends have run marathons, are triathletes or are even more nuts doing “ultra” challenges and the like.

The thing is, everything is relative.

For pretty much my entire life, or at least as far back as I can remember I’ve been unfit.

As a child the unfitness was mostly down to childhood asthma meaning, while I was very active, I could not do any sustained activity as I ran out of “puff” very quickly. In adulthood, I’ve had no such excuse. I just got fat, sedentary and lazy.

However, this year, prompted by my Brother and Sister(-in-Law) and supported by the beginners programme from the local Running Club (Go BRJ!) I’ve started (and only just started) to turn that around.

A mere 8 weeks ago, we started our first outing where we ran for 1 minute then walked for 1 1/2 minutes and repeated this 7 times… 8 weeks later, we were running for 30 minutes and incredibly, when we finished, only needed less than a minute to breathe normally again.

Then 3 days later, my running group ran 5K (36mins) – Ok, so the pace isn’t the hardest and many people will think “meh, I could get up and run 5K right now without breaking a sweat” but as I say, everything is relative and achieving a goal like this is a big deal for us!

Next challenges: 10K race in mid-June. Hoping to add the extra 5K over the next 6-8 weeks then it’s working on “pace” to turn it from a fast trundle into a reasonable run (from 7ish mins/Km to 6ish mins/Km).

Insanely, even contemplating a half-marathon in October… me! No seriously… me?!!!

So what have I learned from this?

  1. Listen to your friends and family when they try to encourage you to get healthy. I wish I’d done so years ago.

  2. Even fat old codgers like me can get from nothing to running 5K in 2 months! Noone has any excuse! Go. Do.

  3. Commitment to other people is the strongest motivator you can have to make you keep at it. Find a group and promise to run with them. That commitment will make you get off your ass and go when you might otherwise make some excuses to yourself.

  4. Running in a “pack” is powerful. On the days when you’d quit if you were alone, the pack will take you through.

  5. Goals are really important. Sometimes they’re scary but achieving them makes you warm and fuzzy. Your whole team achieving them, that’s the best feeling!

  6. I can do anything I set my mind to. I’ve always believed this but sometimes it’s great to remind yourself by doing something you don’t think you can do.

Follow your heart... Everything else is secondary.

I was going to write a long, rambling piece mourning the loss of Steve Jobs which I, like many people who have held him as one of their hero’s feel today but there are no words I can come up with, nor have I read today (with the possible exception of this from John Gruber) which can sum up the death and the life of Steve Jobs as well has he has done himself:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Speech – 2005

Steve Jobs. 1955-2011 – Businessman, Entrepreneur, Genius… Dreamer… Idol… Man.

Why I'm an atheist

Ok, let me first say that this topic may be NSFW (not safe for work) because I’m going to mention things teenage boys do in their bathroom and also talk about religion which some people might find uncomfortable having on screen in a work context.

I guess the title should be self explanatory. I’m a atheist. I don’t believe in a divine all powerful deity. I don’t believe in heaven or hell (except in this world). I don’t believe in life after death. I don’t believe in anything which requires me to withhold questions and the search for evidence and just accept things I’m told on faith.

But it wasn’t always so… It may surprise you to know that I actually seriously considered a life in the (catholic) priesthood.

As a teen growing up in an Ireland still in the throes of moving towards secularism and a separation of state from the claws of the catholic church, it was still true that there was a very strong religious influence and indeed involvement in education and some of the strongest personalities in my life were priests, nuns and christian brothers, the latter two groups who were heavily involved in the teaching profession.

I was (and still am) a dreamer and that aspect of my personality conjoined with the heavy religious influences formed a certain fervour in my pre-pubescence and early puberty even to the point where I began to imagine that I was going to be “chosen by God” in some way.

At this time in Ireland there were a raft of “statues moving/crying/bleeding/speaking” events – which, of course, poured into my immature imagination like water into parched ground. I still distinctly remember being in Church for Sunday Mass, or other events and spending the whole time almost in a trance, staring at the statues around me willing them to move. I would be chosen!

Needless to say, I didn’t see any moving statues. No burning bushes or visitations from angels, no secrets from God passed on by a spectral Virgin Mary or the Metatron. Nothing.

What I did discover, however, were two things: Science and Girls!

I adored (and still adore) science. I’d always been a “brainy” kid and science geek but while most of your childhood scientific understanding is based on simplifications to explain things you’re not yet capable of comprehending, once you get into your teens and secondary level science education, the gloves come off (somewhat).

I took to it like a duck to water. I read voraciously on physics, biology, cosmology, evolution etc. and was far ahead of the curriculum.

More than anything I loved the fact that I was encouraged to ask questions and I did. I asked so many questions of my teachers that they would eventually have to ask me to stop or wait till after class when they’d enlighten me. I loved that there was a discipline and that ambiguity was something which was welcomed as an opportunity to “dig into it” and increase our knowledge.

This was the case in most classes, science, the classics, geography, history and civics. Of course there was one class where this was not the case. You were discouraged, in fact, from asking questions particularly where they exposed ambiguity. You were told to accept things on faith without evidence or even in the face of compelling counter-evidence. Religious Education quickly became the class I loathed the most because far from enlightening me, it presented a narrow dogmatic view of the world which I could not come to terms with.

For a finish the only questions it did raise in me was: “How can this be right? How can God give me these questions and not give me any answers?”

And then, as I say, there were girls…

As most (hetrosexual) men will know (but rarely admit), the mind of a teenage boy is divided into two sections by raging hormones. There’s a section for Football, Cars, Playstation, TV, (loud&angry)Music etc. which is about the size of a pea. The rest of the brain has one focus: Girls. Girls. Girls. Culminating, of course in thinking about sex with Girls.

I don’t know if that sex urge is quite as compulsive and all encompassing for girls but I get the strong sense it’s not as overwhelmingly absorbing for the teenage girl as it is for the teenage boy.

Ultimately that urge sees it’s release in masturbation, at least until one is lucky enough to persuade a girl to actually let your sweaty hormonal hands near her. Let’s not be coy. We all do it and Teenage boys do it compulsively.

And so there I was. I found my self wanting, no, needing to (as was the wording from my religious educators) “abuse myself” in response to normal hormonal urges from my growing body. Of course I was being taught by the religious caste that this is wrong. I will be dirty in the eyes of God, the saints, my dead relatives and the world. I will be as a leper: Unclean!

But nothing stops that physical urge so instead of pushing me to abstinence (that fairytale concept that only someone totally deluded can believe will be possible for teens) the effect of this was to wrack me with guilt about how I was sinning. Every time I did it I was convinced that God,the saints, dead relatives and pretty much my entire ancestry were looking down on me from heaven frowning and tutting.

What I couldn’t understand and what I wasn’t allowed to question was why would a loving entity (as God was portrayed, despite his genocidal megalomaniacal tendencies from the old testament bible) who “made me” put me under such a rack of physical compulsion versus emotional guilt? Surely that can’t be right? What being, worthy of my worship, faith and devotion, with omnipotence and omniscience to boot could possibly see that as a proper way to raise “his children”?

So on that rack I found myself. Wracked by guilt as a consequence of a normal human growth process and it’s effect on my psyche and physical being. Science was telling me about the world in a systematic way, layering evidence on top of evidence, theory on top of theory in a logical manner which encouraged question and challenge. My questions about religion, God and the world of the divine were met with dogma and a dictate against asking questions. Accept and shut up.

This heady combination of hormones, guilt, sex and science created a crucible from which a new me (painfully) emerged.

When I thought about the world around me and all it’s complexity, and tried to marry that with the concept of a Deity which spontaneously emerged (nay, always existed – outside of space-time) I couldn’t. What process, akin to the processes I could observe in the world and which science gave me a framework to understand, had led to the creation of this being? Ultimately what I realised was something which Richard Dawkins later gave me some names for: “The ultimate 747 gambit” and “The Skyhook versus the Crane argument”.

I concluded that the God I’d been taught about was a mythical crutch and that I, as an enlightened (by science) human being could cast it off and limp on in the world as myself with only myself to account for my actions.

What a liberation this realisation was. I became enlightened in a way which I never could have imagined. I no longer had to blinker myself into thinking about the world in a particular way. I could think about the world and live in it in any way I chose and any way I could concieve.

Surprisingly, however, I was also struck by what an enormous responsibility it is to be an atheist. You and you alone are responsible for everything you do. There is no higher moral-authority to which you can delegate responsibilty. You must bear the weight of every action and decision you take and make. If you think about it, that’s a pretty heavy burden.

However, the benefits outweigh the cost. I’m continuously, even to this day, struck by an overwhelming sense of awe and wonder at the incredible universe which we have evolved in and with. I would willingly live a thousand lifetimes just to see every wonder which our planet alone has to offer, let alone the immensity of the universe of which we’re a microscopic speck. My most fervent wish is that as a parent, I encourage my daughter to investigate in wonder, and question, in awe, the world as much as she desires.

In closing, I should point out that I in no way wish to push my trip on you. This is merely a piece of autobiography. I believe every person is a unique individual and therefore entitled to their own beliefs and faiths (and dogmas).  Much of my own family are still deeply religious and even my wife, though not “religious” is a believer. It’s a wonderful world and however it was made, by God’s hand or other forces, what’s important (to me) is that we share in it and with each other in peace and harmony.

Parting is such sweet sorrow...

After a mere 5 months I’m departing my position at TUI UK&Ireland today. This is not anything to do with the job, the organisation or the people at TUI but a leap of faith into something new for me and my family.

On few occasions when I’ve departed an organisation have I been as conflicted as I am at leaving TUI. Usually when you leave it’s because you’ve done what you came to do or you’ve given up on the organisation in some way. I have neither. There is so much (interesting) work to do at TUI and the organisation is so vibrant (in difficult times for the travel industry) that I feel quite guilty leaving but I’m also excited by the new ventures I’m pursuing.

It’s been  a roller-coaster 5 months in TUI, probably, in many ways, the most intense 5 months I’ve experienced in many years but, like a roller-coaster, it’s also been incredibly invigorating and exciting.

To all my colleagues and friends at TUI I want to say a huge thank you for your support, effort, challenge and friendship over the last 5 months. I hope you continue to pursue your future with the same talent, bravery and vigour as I’ve seen you do in the last 5 months.

If you will permit me this small cliche: “This is not goodbye, merely ‘au revoir'”

Facebook minus, Google Plus

The social media space is all abuzz about Google+ and I’ve been lucky enough to have had a chance to play with it for the last week or so.

It’s good. It’s not perfect but for the type of space it’s playing in, it’s really really good. I can easily see people leaving facebook for plus…

Actually, I’m one of those people but not because I believe Plus is better than Facebook for social networking (both have some fundamental problems which I’ll discuss in a post I’ve been stewing for some time which I’ll be posting at some stage) but because Google+ gives me control of my social graph and what I do with it in a way that Facebook actively acts to prevent me doing (which is deplorable… It’s my information, not theirs.)

As an example of what I’m talking about I’ve just carried out a “Facebook export” on my FB account.

Frankly, it’s a bit of a disgrace.

First off there’s the fact that it’s a “request” which is met at a later stage after some sort of intermediate processing (or manual checking?) which makes one feel distinctly like you’ve had to ask for some form of special dispensation. I’m sure the argument will be that they need to do this as an asynchronous process for performance reasons but my counter to that would be to wonder why this would be a particularly large performance hit… just how many people are doing this on a regular basis?

The second and more important point about it is that the export is basically meaningless because it removes almost all of the semantics from the content which are what give it it’s real value.

For example: Your friends list is literally just a list of names… no email addresses, no contact information of any sort, not even, counter-intuitively,  links to their facebook profile pages, nothing just a list of names.

The same is true for almost all of the other information in your “Export”.

Couple that with the fact that the exported files are laid out and marked up in a way which make it very difficult to parse easily (into anything meaningful) and it’s blatantly obvious that this is nothing more than a sham capability put in place to gloss over the concerns of privacy advocates and organisations.

Much of the focus on the privacy issues with Facebook have been around who access your information and how. Little focus it seems has been put on the more important issue (to my mind) of how Facebook control and actively work to limit your access to your own information for your own legitimate uses. Now that, I think, would be worthy of some study.

Meanwhile, I’m moving most of my socialising to Plus… Google, while distinctly evil in many ways, at least give me tools to move my information around (and away from them) however and whenever I want. That places me in a unique situation in the social networking world: In control of my information.

Catch me on Plus at: http://gplus.to/joevaughan

(P.S. If you want an invite, ping me a message with your email address)

Act, don't React.

This week I’ve let someone very important down in a massive way that I feel incredibly guilty about.

The details of the what and why aren’t important but what is important is the how.

There was no malicious intent, no ignorance, no procrastination or any failure to act on my part there was just a phenomonally bad failure in judgement and “thinking things through” which was all borne out of reacting instead of acting.

The worst of times, the times when you most feel under pressure to act, when time is of the essence and something must be done, those are the times when it’s most vital not to simply react; reacting is easy, reacting is what we’re best at doing. Those pressing vital times are when it’s most important to take a moment of pause, to consider the issues from all angles, to think things through and to formulate a  plan, even if only in the vaguest detail.

I have spectacularly failed to do so on this occasion and fallen into the trap of just reacting to events and I’m gutted to have let some of the most important people in my life down in a way I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive myself for.

The lesson? As the title says: Act (with knowledge, courage and forethought), don’t just react.

Survival is not enough

A life lived without passion or joy is no life, it’s mere existence.

There are the things we need to do to survive and then there are the things which make life worth living. In the fast paced modern world it’s all too easy to forget that the priority of these is the latter is at least equal or even higher than former.

Embrace your passions, seek out your joys, pursue your dreams and fight as hard for your happiness as you do for your survival.

Bereavement Leave

Found this joke on http://www.afunnyjoke.co.uk/

Bereavement Leave

This is no excuse for missing work. There is nothing you can do for dead friends, relatives or co-workers. Every effort should be made to have non-employees attend to the arrangements. In rare cases where employee involvement is necessary, the funeral should be scheduled in the late afternoon. We will be glad to allow you to work through your lunch hour and subsequently leave one hour early.

I find this particularly funny because it once happened to me!

Just after starting college my maternal grandmother passed away suddenly (heart-attack). This happened on a Saturday afternoon on one of the (rare) weekends I was at home in the house my grandmother shared with us. The whole family was devastated of course and especially my parents, brother and I who shared the last few years of her life caring for her.

As a consequence I was out of college for a week. When I went back the following week I made a point before each lecture to approach the lecturer and offer my apologies for missing out their lecture the previous week. Most of them were very compassionate and especially as I explained the situation were keen to offer their condolences and any way they could help. All but one.

This fellow (who shall remain nameless) actually said: “But it was only a grandparent why did you need to take a whole week off?” – I was totally dumbfounded. I believe I actually stood there in front of him with my mouth open and then he dropped an even bigger bombshell on me: “I’m not sure I believe you. I want to see a copy of the death certificate”

Needless to say, I left his lecture immediately, went to my department head and made a formal complaint.

I’m still amazed to this day how that guy attempted to quantify “how bereaved” people should be when they lose someone they love or that someone would attempt to dodge lectures by making up a lie like this (as there are any number of other ways you could lie about missing lectures). It’s not something I’ve ever been able to get my head around.

I want, I want!

I’ve spent the greater part of my working life in consultative roles which mean that I have spent it in conversations with people about what they desire (in many contexts) and trying to understand what needs will fulfil that desire.

It’s not always easy for us to differentiate wants, desires and emotional attachments with the actual needs underlying them but from my experience it is good business to work it through.

Let me give you an example from my (distant) past:

Some years ago as part of  a consultancy role I travelled across Ireland with the Sales Director of the company I was working for to do some pre-sales consultancy on a major sale of Firewall software to a potential customer. It was going to be a lucrative sale of many tens of thousands of pounds.

When we sat down with the customer and began to talk with them it turned out that many of the things driving the sale were things they “wanted”, not things they “needed”. As I (eventually) got them to start to talk about the things they actually needed (and the cost implications of their rather lengthy wish-list) they automatically began to edit their own list of requirements to focus on the things which were important and which would bring them benefit.

Once we’d established a good set of needs-based requirements, further discussions revealed that the equipment and software they had was fully capable of meeting those needs it just hadn’t been configured to do so. I advised them (much to the consternation of my sales colleague) not to purchase the software we were selling but to re-configure the equipment they already had to meet their needs and then to give it some time to understand if the rest of the wishlist (things their current software couldn’t do) would be beneficial to add.

I established two things with this approach. Firstly I showed the customer that I had understood their need and could address that in a way which was focused on their benefit and secondly that I was not interested in small term gain at their expense but in a long term, mutually beneficial relationship in which (at least some of) both parties needs are met.

My Sales Director was, of course, livid at losing a guaranteed “big sale” (try as I might to persuade him that we would gain in the long term) and called for my “head on a spike” once we returned (not the most comfortable return journey I ever undertook). Thankfully my Managing Director saw the benefit of the long term view and was very keen to pursue this customer for long term strategic partnership so he backed me up.

Needless to say the customer, understanding where we came from and that we were looking to work with them to address their needs gave us far more business in the long term than they would have had if we’d gone for the quick buck “I want” sale. We made approximately 10 times the sales to them over the subsequent year or so. I was actually called back to them only a fortnight later for a lengthy consultation on how to configure the systems they had which earned us more than the original sale would have. By “cutting off my own nose to spite my face” I established credibility and trust with them which even their original supplier didn’t have and demonstrated that addressing their needs was my first priority.

What’s the moral of this story? Very often in business, as well as life, we cater to and indulge our wants or the wants of others without understanding what underlying need must actually be satisfied. If and when we do so, we run the very real risk of failing to deliver the real benefit the party is expecting and even though we appear to have fulfilled the need, we won’t be thanked for it in the long term. There’s a balance to be struck and failing to understand that we run the risk of failure.

Keep it simple.

Hugs

I have been writing this morning but the piece is proving longer than I anticipated to finish…

Instead, this little thought:

I’ve just been given an unexpected (because she’s usually asleep when I leave) hug and snuggle from my daughter. Is there anything better in the world than that simple expression of love and affection from one human being to another? I don’t think so.

Therefore, from me to you, whoever you are, wherever you are: BIG HUG from me!

Have a great day!

Nothing

I’ve just started a new job and in an effort to put my life into a proper order I’ve set up a schedule where I get up in the morning at 5:30am, shower, eat breakfast and then write for an hour before setting off for work (an hours commute away).

This morning I’m a bit at a loss. I literally have nothing to say – Anyone who knows me well will understand that this is an almost impossible thing to imagine. :)

If you’re reading this, perhaps you could help me by suggesting something I could write about tomorrow? I’m not “writer-blocked” or anything like that I’m just temporarily topicless.

Help!