Wednesday, 23 December 2009

No.207 Of Lost in Translation in Ballymena

My heads spinning today. Not only do I have strangers from Germany texting me in the middle of the night who appear the next day on Twitter I now have a Jack Starnes comment (at length) on my blog in Chinese. Is it at all surprising that I feel a little bit disorientated nowadays?

Today I'm shooting off to see a fancy new electronic whiteboard demonstrated in Ballymena. Apparently it can do everything bar cook Christmas dinner for you. I wonder if it can translate Chinese into English?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

No.206 Of Strange Texts @Nite

Boy there's some rubbish on the T.V at the moment. Last night it was the turn of numerous C list celebrities to big up Victoria Woods and tell us how close she is to being superwoman. Sycophantic baloney if you ask me.

I've just finished reading Twitterville by Shel Israel. It's a great read and well researched. Yes I share his views on the benefits of Twitter but I wonder if the book explains well enough just how useful the networking function of Twitter can be.

Last night probably at about 3.30a.m. I was woken up by a text message from "Brands4shanghai". All it said was "Thank you". I then spent half an hour trying to get back to sleep wondering who I knew in Shanghai. The answer I was convinced is no-one. Today I boot up and find out that Brands4shanghai is following me on Twitter and belongs to a bloke called Frank Hellweg. Any clearer? Nope me neither.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

No.205 Of Sticky Situations

I've just finished sending the last of the Christmas cards. Yes I know it's late but better late than never as they say and often for me it's never. I've never licked the seals on envelopes since I visited a prison in Glasgow many years ago and saw a huge vat of glue the prisoners were preparing which they explained was used as sealant for envelopes. It looked disgusting. No doubt I look disgusted when they told me what else they put in it when the "Screws" weren't watching. May be I was being gullible but I've never licked envelopes since just in case I wasn't.

Loads of networking to do this week plus two interviews. Golly I can't bear doing interviews....

No.204 Of Blonde Snow

Wow! Snow and loads of it too. The dog doesn't quite get it. You chuck a snowball at her and she tries to grab it and bring it back to you. Wrong game I keep trying to explain. She's so blonde at times..

Boy there's some rubbish T.V on at the moment.. Makes me want to give the idea of T.V up for next year but then there's really unmissable stuff on occasionally too. If I did that's when I'd have to blag my way into the neighbour's house to watch a Newsnight special or Celebrity Wifeswap (!). Dilemmas hey?

Saturday, 19 December 2009

No.203 Of Dark Wood All Around

I've just booked another weekend in London. Airline expenses Belfast - London it's like a tax on the bored. Currently I'm trying to book a wacky unusual restaurant but without much success as they all seemed to be closed on Sundays. Dans Le Noir, it seems, is a restaurant where you eat in the pitch black. The idea is that it heightens the remaining senses including taste. According to the reviews however it may just be a cheap attempt not to let the customers see the food before they try it.

I've spent three hours tidying my desk today. Finally, I can see wood.

Nightmare on the Channel Tunnel says the online headlines at the moment. A whole 6 hours stuck on a train in the dark. Nightmare? Wow we're a spoilt lot nowadays...

Thursday, 17 December 2009

No.208 Of Goals Galore

It's crawling to the end of the year and not far off the time when you are supposed to reflect on the 12 months that's been and I guess, whether you've achieved the goals/objectives you set out to bag at the beginning of the year. I'm forever early wherever I go and whatever I do so why not with the review too?

My goals were b/logged earlier this year as follows :

* Eat better - yes I think I've achieved this. Although my foray into cooking was barely successful and very short lived.

* Read more - yes I've done this. I've read some really great books this year including Jonathan Dimbleby's "Russia", Derren Brown's "Tricks of the Mind" and Chekov's Short Plays. Gary Kasporov's "How Chess Imitates Life" is also a formidable read.

* Watch less T.V - yes I've achieved this but I still watch too much. I would like to give up T.V altogether but then if I had I would have missed classic T.V moments like Susan Boyle's Xfactor audition not to mention some great interviews on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman sitting with a meat hook ready to have a go at another politician.

* Surround myself by positive people not negative ones and where possible by people who inspire and motivate you - yes I've done this and it's made a huge difference to the year. This year I've met people professional and socially who I've really grown to respect.

* Exercise more - yes I've done this and managed (just) to keep manboobs at bay for another year. It's been much harder though than ever before involving 40 lengths of the Antrim pool 3 times a week. I've earned that flat chest.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

No.202 Of Chocolate? Maltesers...

I enjoyed enjoyed Cat on a Hot Tin Roof last night at the Novello Theatre. I would have really enjoyed it had it not been for two things. First the lady sat directly in front of me intent on starting and finishing off all by herself a family sized box of maltesers. The wrapper coming off, the rattle of chocolate ball bearings in a box followed by the munch & the crunch whilst youre trying to get your ears accustomed to missippi accents was infuriating. Why doesn't the theatre just sell bars of chocolate which dont make so much noise? A box of maltesers? You might just as well sell marackers. Second the guy sat two seats along from me didnt help. He chuckled and cheered and clapped his way through the performance. Yes it was funny at times and yes the acting was in the case of the lead exceptional but hey Mr you need to get out more and hey next time Blackpool is looking for a laughing clown send them your CV.

Im typing this at a free Internet station at Heathrow Airport courtesy of Zurich Insurance the Free Risk Management Service provided by Zurich. I know this because their rep has said it next to me countless times as I've banged away at the keyboards. The trouble is he says it with so little conviction or sincereity that you can tell he believes its all pretty pointless. What is interesting is that the commercial Internet stations (you know the ones that charge you 1 pound for 20 minutes 15 of which are spent trying to get the thing to work properly) are all busy whilst the free ones next door at Zurich are almost empty. What does this tell us about customer buying habits and how difficult they are to predict?

When back in the office later today I shall exmaine a CV just in from a Internetter who has seen mention of a vacancy in our marketing department. He has begun well by referring to my blog as having "cult status". 12 followers please heed...

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

No.201 Of Ballet and Bag Pipes

Wow! London! Last night I went to the Royal Opera House to see a ballet based on the stories of Beatrix Potter. It was spectacular and frightfully English as ballerinas dressed as mice, little pigs and rabbits lept about the stage to glorious music before a packed audience.

I met an old friend today for the first time in almost a decade. I've known him from my University days. He was always destined to succeed in life so it was no surprise to me to learn that he now heads the legal team at LLoyds Bank in charge of over 150 legal staff.

He's always got a great yearn to tell about a family incident and his one today was hilarious. Somehow he had been invited to play the bag pipes at a reception party in which Princess Anne was invited. The pipes he assures me are hard work to play and by the time she arrived he had already been going for an hour. When he asked the Royal scout how much longer he had to do when Her Royal Highness was in ear shot of the pipes he was assured that she'd stay for just a few minutes. It seems she stayed for almost 40 by which time he had blown himself blue and was one deep breath away from passing out and disppearing into the bushes behind him when she finally made her way out.

I'm off to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof tonight. It should be good although the reviews have been mixed apparently.

Monday, 14 December 2009

No.200 Of Strange Rules & Contradictions

My 200th blog. Goodness me. 200 pieces of inconsequential nonsense delivered to the faithful, the unknowing and the damn right careless 24/7!

I'm currently staying in a most bizarre hotel in Earls Court. It's a place of contradictions. You arrive and there's no-one to greet you. Just three machines in which you must check in, pay in advance and generate your own key card. Then you have to negotiate a series of corridors, sharp corners, stairs a foot bridge over to the hotel annex, a lift, more corners and corridors, two doors and finally your room.

Breakfast is a wholly different experience. The food is good. The porridge (specially ordered) arrives in super quick time and tastes better than anything I've tried anywhere (including my place). For the hostess service to be any better she'd need to sit down and personally feed you (a service I may well avail of in 40 years times if I'm spared that long). All the staff at the hotel including the cleaners greet you with a cheery hello and a smile as soon as you're on their radar.

I'm off to meet a banker friend for lunch in Mayfair today. Apparently, I have to wear a tie otherwise I wont get in. I forgot to bring my "statement" tie with me. It's yellow with black spots and very loud. I'm sure he'll be thankful.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

No.199 Of Letter Writing Old Style

Well that's the Christmas Party over. For my Secret Santa I was given a couple of DVDs of Ricky Gervais's "The Office". Our Finance guy was given a box of balloons to make inflatable animals. What does this say about me and my company I wonder?

Things are definitely winding down here but they shouldn't be. We've still lots of things to do and achieve before the year's out. I wonder if any companies have a strategy of trying to go full out during December to achieve competitive advantage. It's a hard one to push though.

Currently I'm writing a few thank you letters to various contacts, clients and customers. I've forgotten just how bad my writing is. I wonder if the recipients will open the letter and think it's from Gordon Brown...My spelling is up the left too. How did I ever manage without a spell checker at school? I suppose the honest answer is that I had one. Her name was Sister Claudia and wow if I spelt something wrong I should have got right first time did she let me know about it?

Ho hum more paperwork to do before leaving the office this morning.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

No.198 Of Tricks of The Mind

I performed a card trick on a friend yesterday evening. It was one I had learnt from Derren Brown's book Tricks of the Mind. It went well. In fact so well that said friend was looking behind her and above her for mirrors, cameras or anything else that might give her a clue as to how the trick was done. When she started checking to make sure the cards weren't marked I asked her if she had a trust problem and low opinion of men. She replied "No just a low opinion of you Mr P!". Ho Hum.

I have to confess that the trick when surprising well and I was just as gob smacked as she was. Well done Mr Brown! That's not an expression you hear very often right now.

No.197 Of Forgetting Secret Santa

Emmm so here's the end of another week. Well almost. Tomorrow doesn't really count because we have the Christmas Party and you can always wipe off that day - at least in terms of work.

We're doing the Secret Santa thing again this year. In all other years it's been rigged and I've no reason to doubt that this one is any different. The rules are quite clear however. You spend up to £5 and you don't tell anyone else who you have. In days gone by names have been drawn out to gasps and looks of horror and then all sorts of wheeling and dealing, bribery and blackmail took place to ensure that one person didn't have to buy for another or indeed did have to buy for A. Nother.

Naturally being a fine upstanding member of this organisation I have made no attempt to swap my name for anyone elses. Although I have to confess that this has largely been due to the fact that for a good while for the life of me I couldn't remember whose name I had pulled out of the hat all those weeks' ago. I think I've got it right. If I haven't some lucky critta will get two presents from Santa at Legal-Island and one poor sod will get none at all and it will all be my fault. Ah bah humbag hey?

Merry Christmas everyone....

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

No.196 Of Cycles....

Yesterday I spent all day in Dublin. I've still to try one of those rent a bike schemes where you can hire a bike for a few hours and return it to any one of a number of auto stations around the city. What keeps putting me off is the weather and the traffic in Dublin. You'll either get soaked or killed - a fairly good disincentive I suppose.

I met a lady called Krishna De in Dublin. She's in the top ten of Twitterers in Dublin. I liked her a lot and I expect we might do a bit of biz together at some stage. I met her on Twitter btw.

Loads happening today with meetings in Moira and Belfast not to mention catching up after yesterday's networking, designing a job spec for our Marketing post and a few Christmas letters out to those who have really helped or inspired us this year. It's amazing how quickly Christmas comes round.

Ho Hum Onwards...

Monday, 7 December 2009

No.195 Standing Up For Tony

Wow! What a weekend. On Saturday night a group of us went to the Laughter Lounge in Belfast. We sat preciously close to the stage but alas were spared a grilling from any of the acts. The comedians and compare were great. It's a superb skill Stand Up and it must be one of the hardest professions going.

I'm currently reading a book by Tony Robbins. I'm on a role at the moment. I've not read a bad book in a long time and here's hoping that this one is worth the time it'll take to get through 400 odd pages. Almost every trainer I've met in the last few months either knows Tony Robbins or more likely really raves about the bloke. He's not even 30 yet and never went to university. Emmmm

I've loads on for this week including some important meetings tomorrow and Wednesday. Should be fun. Hold tight. Here we go....

Friday, 4 December 2009

No.194 From Advanced to Zen

Ok that's it. No more jumping straight into a frozen car in the morning and trying to see through a tiny gap in the windscreen as I drive impatiently to work. Definitely not safe. As Jim Royale would say "Advanced Driver my Ass".

We're busy reviewing procedures today. A day likely to be heavy going on the brain but productive nonetheless.

A different weekend beckons involving entertaining friends, attending a wedding, a comedy club, Zen and who knows what else..... Isn't that what a good weekend should be about?

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

No.193 Of Work & Planning

It's plan, plan, plan at the moment as we try and straighten things out for next year. We're fortunate in so far as we have many options open to us and it's a case of working out which to select and act on. They're diverse too which is great. The more in the mix the better say I.

It's been an interesting year on the Island here with loads of development. One of our staff is returning to us later this month after 6 months away and I'm wondering if she'll recognise us. We've had a few personnel changes, a new training centre built and quite a lot of cosmetic work done too ("work done" as the euphemism goes nowadays). We now have a plaque on the wall as you walk in that says "Recognised by Investors in People" and great facilities which will hopefully attract new great staff as we continue to grow.

On the subject of which I'm busy at the moment drafting two job descriptions for marketing posts as our M&S team go on maternity leave early next year. Know anybody?

No.192 Of Mindmappers & Tricks of the Mind

Hah! We have Ann Forsyth, a Mindmapper, in today. She's probably going to tell us that everything we've learnt about how to learn since the first day of school is wrong. Lets see.

I'm busy drafting two new marketing posts for appointment next year.

I was reading Derren Brown's Tricks of the Mind last night. This is fast developing into one of the best works of non fiction I have ever read. It's the kind of book that makes you want to rush home get something to eat and jump on the sofa and start reading. How often does that happen?