Friday, 23 December 2011

Of Reviewing the Year's Books

Last night I was reviewing the books I've read this year. Considering I'm a slow reader and one of the books this year was a belter (War and Peace) I'm surprised at how well I've done and how many books I've managed to get through in 2011.
 They include :

"The 4-Hour Work Week" Timothy Ferriss - probably, and yes it sounds cliché, a life changing book - time will tell and next year in particular.
 "The Psychology of Persuasion" - Robert Cialdini - a great read for anyone wanting to know just how we take decisions whether or not to buy a good or service. He argues we work off far more shortcuts than we either realize or would admit too and I think he's right.
 "The One Minute Manager" Ken Blanchard - known as a classic management text told in the form of a story but for me quite dated. He advises you to touch your staff as you give them feedback. Employment laws would land you in trouble for this. Dyaken Ken?
"Man's Search for Meaning - hope from the holocaust" Viktor Frankl. The book that everyone rates and indeed claims is life changing for them. But not me. Maybe I should give it another go next year.
"War & Peace" Tolstoy - not my favourite book of all time but without doubt the must astonishing work I have ever read. Astonishing.
"Do it or Ditch it" - Beverley James - packed full of useful tips on business and personal development - a great opening first book
"The Lost Art of the Great Speech" by Richard Dowis - the best book on public speaking I've ever read by far (and I've read a few by the way)
"Winning! Clive Woodward - a great tale of how Woodward took the English rugby team to world cup glory and had to change the ethos of the English Rugby Association in the process.
"Selling to Win", Richard Denny, - great tips on selling from the guru of sales himself.
"Memoirs of a Fruitcake" Chris Evans -  Just a great read from someone who has lived life in a Ferrari in the fast lane and did well to survive it.
"Motivating to Win" Richard Denny - another great book from the maestro himself

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Of Tidying for Tenerife

We're winding down on the Island this week. I'm now the last one here (not counting four hens of course) and the phones are oh so quiet.
I'm off on holidays to Tenerife tomorrow leaving my house in the care of four friends of mine from Moscow. Mikhail and his wife and two brothers will no doubt have loads of fun trying to work out all my kitchen gadgetry and who knows they may even get as far as taking my canoe down the river.
I'm using these last few days to sort out bits and pieces. My car now how four new tyres. My burglar alarm at home is now fully functional and my office desk is quite tidy.I've downloaded enough podcasts for the four our flight to the Canaries tomorrow and I have a stack of books to read round a pool whilst being bathed (I hope) in lots of sunshine.
Not a bad time of year afterall when you think of it.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Of Watch My Lips

I was in Brown's restaurant last night in Derry/Londonderry where I had what I think was the most tasty side of mash potato I have ever had. It was served with the starter which was Beetroot Tart. Soon after this dish was set down the waitress appeared and presented a bottle of balsamic vinegar the history of which was explained rather like you'd expect a waiter to describe a good wine. She then proceeded to draw a circle with it around my plate before departing back to the kitchen. Why the chef couldn't have done this I couldn't quite fathom and why the mashed potato didn't get the same treatment with the tommie source will also remain a mystery.
Dining in Derry/Londonderry is always a little different. It's such a small place and everyone knows one another so before you get stuck into a decent bit of conversation it's highly advisable to check over your shoulder to make sure the person you're about to speak of is not sat nearby or at least someone that might know them, or be related to them by blood or by marriage or was schooled with them. And you can never be too sure so to be safe you and your table company usually end up whispering and conversation is done with you half listening and half lip reading.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Of Gillian n Geroge

I met Gillian Esquivel today for breakfast at the Ramada in Belfast. I like this woman. She's straight talking no messing, tells it as it is and has loads that's really worth listening to and chewing over. We even slipped into a bit of Spanish which made me realise I haven't forgotten as much of the language as I had thought..
Whilst chatting a friend of mine, George, passed the window and waved. This reminded me that I'm meeting him tomorrow to discuss a book that has impressed us both. It's called "The Four Hour Work Week" by Tim Ferris.
It turned out this book is Gillian's bible. It's helped her time manage and set goals. She describes it as life changing and I'm inclined to agree with her. It's set me thinking that it's time I re-ordered my life, completely revise how I work and how I take time out to relax and enjoy myself. I wonder what George thinks..

Monday, 19 December 2011

Of The Birthing of Web Sites

I  spent a few hours over the weekend building a website for a friend of mine. It's still a work in progress but we're getting there at Derry Solicitor Mark Reid.
The process reminded me of when I built Legal-Island's first ever web site in 1998. I use the words "web site" generously here for it was really just two pages linked together.
Whilst in a newsagent in Derry/Londonderry I had seen a PC magazine with a free disk on the front and a headline claiming that the free software could build a web page for you in just 30 minutes. Intrigued I bought the magazine and an hour later had one web page and an hour after that another one. Whilst it proved a fun exercise I wasn't sure if what I had built was really worth saving. But just in case it was I saves the file to a floppy disk. Wondering what name to give the file I thought well the two pages relate to legal stuff one for the North and one for the ROI so I guess Legal-Island just about covers it.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Of Logic Up a Ladder

I was up a ladder yesterday. Not a great place to be when you get vertigo standing on a thick carpet. I don't even like being so tall at times. As I reached the guttering by the roof I told myself that feeling terrified was irrational, illogical and damn right silly. Afterall why should I fall from a place just because its high up? If it was eight metres lower I'd happily work all day and never fall off once. I left out the bit of discussion with myself that pointed out that I should be nervous because if I fell off from 10 metres I might well die (not to mention make a good attempt at killing the poor fellow holding the bottom of the ladder as well).
So for 2 hours yesterday I wrestled with a bit of guttering while Arnold below kept the ladder steady and when he wasn't on the phone to his mates shouted up all sorts of support, advice and black humour.
At the end I thought I had fixed it. This morning after a night of rain it was clear I hadn't. Time to get the Pros in methinks.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Of The Great Christmas Party

It was our Christmas Party yesterday at the Hilton Hotel Templepatrick. Judging by the number of cars in the car park at 8a.m. this morning a good few staff didn't make it back to the office last night. Let's just hope they made it home though.
It was also prize giving day. I won the Bermuda Triangle prize for having the desk most likely to swallow up something never to be seen again. I can't believe it. I'm demanding a recount of the votes...
I made a speech to staff very similar to the one I made last year. I talked about how great the year had been. I mentioned how good the staff were to work with and how well they had performed both individually and as a team. I wake everyday and can't wait to get into work. That's a great feeling and a great honour.
I also talked about the five Annual Reviews of Employment Law Conferences we had organised this year (among many other events of course). I said and I truly believe it, they are the best Annual Review events organised by anyone in Ireland or the UK and we should be really proud of what these are and what they give to people.
We all left the party I hope feeling good about the day and the year that's been and looking forward to 2012. Bring it on say I. And so say all of us!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Of the Full Irish

I attended a breakfast seminar yesterday about promoting public health in Northern Ireland. We were served a full Irish breakfast (sometimes referred to as a heart attack on a plate) which may indicate just how far we have to go in terms of eating better at least.
It always amuses me how the Northern Irish tourist industry champions "The full Irish" as though it's the big thing that will get the tourists flocking here. Award winning B&Bs swing signs out front proudly reassuring all that a stay includes the famous "full Irish". All the tourists I've ever met, at least from France and the Med, couldn't understand how a people could start their day which such awful and unhealthy food. But then again I suppose "Fine Porridge with Blackcurrants & other anti-oxidants" I guess doesn't have much of a ring to it either. One for the marketing team I suppose.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Of London & Coaches

I had always wondered whereabouts Millwall in London was to be found. Over the weekend I discovered exactly where because I stayed there. However, I also discovered that it has pretty been renamed South Canary Wharf. And why not? How many times do you hear of shops shutting up shop because of unruly South Canary Wharf fans on the loose?

I spent the weekend in London on intensive coaching course. It was full of highly energised, positive people high fiving each other and using words like "group sharing", "paradigm shift" and "goal focused".
And then there was me...

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Of Pens and Saunas

It's really foul weather weather at the moment even our fowl (aka "The Girls") are staying indoors. When I let them out this morning they took one look around and duly hopped back in their pen. They're clearly fair weather girls.
It's 08.10 and still dark and I've no doubt it'll be getting dark again by 2.30p.m. today.  There's a strange about light that you only really appreciate it when it's not there.
I spent Christmas in Finland many years ago and the sun barely nudged it's way over the horizon before dipping below again and plunging the place back into darkness. How they copped I don't know. It may explain their high levels of alcoholism or why perhaps, like the Girls, they spend so much time in their own pens which they call Saunas.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Of A Tale of Four Simple Tyres

Last week I drove to Derry/Londonderry in the pouring rain and skidded there and skidded all the way back in the middle of the night. Probably something to do with the tyres I thought. I checked. It was. All four were below the legal limit. Yesterday I went into the local tyre fitters for to buy some replacements. I gave the guy the tyre sizes and reference codes and he got out his catalogue to look them up and tell me the bad news. £248 he told me. I thought that was a lot for four new tyres but if it has to be paid then so be it. He then took out his calculator and banged in the following figures 248 x 4 and proudly announced the total bill as being near as damn it £1,000. Damn it wasn't quite the expression that first came to mind but now some 24 hours later I'm working towards it.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Of Our Company Day in the Community

It's company volunteer day today and we're all off painting a house somewhere. We've been told to wear old clothes and that I certainly am. I'm sporting an old pair of gardening boots, brown chords and a bright green T-shirt so you might say the sooner I'm covered in paint the better.
Paint it on! Bring it on!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Of Barry Phillips's of the World Unite

A while ago I attended a seminar in London with a speaker who was a marketing and branding expert. He showed us how he kept an eye on his own online brand by setting up a Google alert system to scoop up his name whenever it appeared on the web along with relevant content. The alert would arrive to his email address with a summary of the information published on him and a link to the full article.
This looked like a load of fun so I decided to do the same. Since setting up an alert for "Barry Phillips" I have yet to receive one that relates to me. I have however learnt a lot about what the other Barry Phillips's have been getting up to in this world.
There's a Dr. Barry Phillips who is an anaesthetist in Hastings who recently warned about the dangers of using "laughing gas" after a good deal of it was stolen from a local hospital. There's a Barry Phillips who has been mending a fence with his chums in Boxhill, Australia. Nice one Barry. One Barry Phillips, also in his 40s, sadly has just passed away in Parbold and a local group of people have got together to buy a defibrillator in his name. Another Barry Phillips was due to speak on the nature and wisdom of Native American culture values on 17 November of this year according to the Battle Creek Inquirer at Indianapolis.
What's interesting is that none of the Barry Phillips's mentioned above appear when you Google the same name.Here it's a very different story. There's a Barry Phillips who has made it into Wikipaedia for his contribution to American folk music, another who is a well known actor and a third who is a well regarded cellist.What's interesting is that when you do a Google search under "images" for Barry Phillips it's immediately clear that the world is awash with Barry Phillips's.
I feel a convention coming on.....

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Of Crossing Bridges

So here endeth the week and quite an exhausting one it was too.
On Tuesday I chaired the last of our Annual Reviews and the scores on the doors from the delegates are great. Hooray but no surprises there I guess. Our Annual Reviews are always top class.
On Wednesday I stayed in Dublin for meetings and for an evening lecture by Professor Bernard. Golly that women is brainy.  On Thursday I'm back in the North chairing a mediation meeting before firing over to Derry/Londonderry for a dinner at the Waterfoot Hotel. This is an unusual place - possibly odd is a better word. It took me about 5 minutes to find the door to get in but once inside the food was great and the service first class.
The new millennium bridge across the Foyle there is impressive. In fact it's really beautiful. I just wish they'd change the name of the city to something completely different to Derry or Londonderry or Doire. Having to type or say the first two  for political neutrality every time is such a nuisance and is only marginally better than using one and then dealing with the guilt you may feel that your company has felt offended or excluded by your single use of one and not both.
Peace? Yes. Inclusivity? Not yet. That's another bridge to cross.