Where have all the good guys gone?

Why is it that the good guys rarely seem to win in business these days.  Why is it that the small business world seems to have a preponderance of business owners with little or no moral compass at all.  To succeed do you actually need to be a hard-nosed, two faced, lying and cheating personage of doubtful parentage?  I reckon you do.  The longer I am in this game, the more duplicity I meet every day.  Back Stabbing is the name of the game whilst smiling sweetly and making friendly noises.  Is this why so many network type events have become a complete and total sham and the good guys are generally staying away?  And yes, folks, many of the good guys are telling me that they would rather stick a sharp needle into their eyes than network at the moment.

And while I am on my soapbox, aren’t you seeing some of the weirdest alliances and partnerships springing up right now – tough times do make strange bedfellows.  Lateral thinking is brilliant but sometimes I do really wonder “Why”.  Do people not think to do some due diligence and checking.

 So, memo to self, take advanced course in duplicity, make new business friends with someone of dubious character, don’t bother paying any bills and develop a total lack of scruples!

Walking without Rosie

Please excuse this little missive as it is a bit more personal than usual.  After a hectic week swanning around London on Channel Four which was so exciting it was time to get back to some walking practise this weekend.  I have been walking on my own which is a bit lonely at times.  In the past when getting fit for some challenge I have always been accompanied by little Rosie the Bedlington Terrier.  Now if you know your dog breeds you will know that Bedlingtons are one of the woosiest looking little poncy dogs around – they look more suited to a silk cushion and hand fed morsels of chicken fillet.  And none more so than Rosie who was the most delicate looking of little dogs.  But under that pretty girl exterior was the heart of a wolf hound.  Rosie has walked, jogged, climbed and sweated hundreds and hundreds of miles with me.  She knew the Fife Coastal Path backwards, every leaf of Devilla Forest, Munroes, the wilds of Applecross, the beaches of Donegal and Kerry, the Lakeland pathways, the Northumbrian coast, the Norfolk bridleways – not much of the UK has been missed by Rosie.  In fact her nickname was Tracker as she could route out the best paths anywhere and always got us safely back to base.

But last week was the saddest of weeks as Rosie came to the end of sixteen years.  The old legs were arthritic, the eyesight all but gone and not even a tasty morsel of chicken fillet could tempt her now.  It was time to let go and she will be sorely missed even more so as I train for yet another daft challenge – alone.  But train I will and try to remember the happy adventures with Rosie the Wonder Dog indeed!

Mayfair Fags and Red Bull

I have started the walking regime in earnest now for the BIG 20 miler in May.  So far I have managed to get up with the birds and walk for about three miles in the morning around the country roads near my home.  So far so good, bunions are a wee biy nippy, leg muscles are protesting slightly but  it is a grand start to the day except………..

THE AMOUNT OF RUBBISH IN THE HEDGEROWS IS ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I cannot believe just how much rubbish is lying about.  I am appalled, flabbergasted….where on earth do all the community service offenders go nowadays because it sure ain’t litter picking around Carnock.  You cannot walk two steps – and I mean that – without seeing at least a rubbish bag’s worth of fag packets, juice bottles, juice cans, chippy containers, sweet wrappers, crisp packets, more fag packets and todays’ highlight had to be the piece box complete with contents.

So come on West Fifers, stop throwing your rubbish out the white van, blue van, school bus and car windows, because it doesn’t go away, there is no rubbish fairy to clean up after you.

And the walking is going well……………………

Walking for 55

The sun is shining and I cannot believe it is 2010.  When I was but a lass I used to think “Gosh I’ll be so ancient when 2000 comes, in fact will I even be alive”  I couldn’t imagine being so old.  Well even now I cannot imagine being so old……..and here I am rushing headlong towards my 55 birthday.  Yikes, Cripes and Helpmaboab.  I came across a charity walk recently called The Pink Ribbon Walk and lo and behold they are holding a great big walking event at Scone Palace in Perth on 15th May – my BIG day.  So I inveigled my sister who is much younger ( I have to say that or no pressie in May) and so healthy and sprightly – like a gazelle even – into walking with me.  We have signed up for the 20 mile walk and here is where the pain starts.

I must get training and get fit for this as I intend to actually complete the course.  I do have a track record though in preparation as I swam the equivalent of the English Channel at my local swimming pool over several weeks and did a Race for Life in a fairly respectable time.  But too many years and too many biscuits have passed in the meantime.  So off I went today for my first power walk to the strains of David Gray’s Greatest Hits.

I will keep my blog updated as I go but ask for your help here:-

a)  Of course I am going to ask for donations and here is my Just Giving Page – http://www.justgiving.com/Janet-Torley

b)  I am going to have to walk many miles to get fit and my iPod has limited music choices.  It will the The Ting Tings tomorrow!  Can you suggest some good walking music I can use?

…psst….want to join the RGB Network….?

It wasn’t so long ago that when you went to a network meeting you could hardly move for people offering business and life coaching skills. Thankfully that particular phenomenon seems to have died down a little now — especially with low profile of some action packed coaches. However the word on the street nowadays seems to be “pssst…… do you want to come to my networking organisation / club /new meeting / new group……….” An honest networker can hardly move now for the proliferation of new groups. It might be in the not too distant future that the only people at network meetings will be the people inviting each other to the new groups. Now that will be a sight to behold!

Here is a really radical, off the wall, way out there idea. Instead of immediately reacting when you have a bright idea over a cup of coffee about setting up a new group, why not speak to the existing groups and see if there is possibilities of working together. There is only a finite pool of small businesses in Scotland and of that finite pool there is only a small cross-section that actually benefit from and are willing to network. So every new group that sets up only divides the pool of possible delegates even further. I am hearing again and again that numbers attending quite a lot of groups are in single figures most of the time.

And while I’m having a wee rant, the sooner people realise that larger companies will Never – NEVER – ever come out to network then we can all stop chasing the golden goose that won’t lay any golden eggs. I believe there are two fundamental reasons why the larger companies will not come out networking.

1) The ultimate decision maker in this bracket is the managing director. He delegates responsibility to his department managers — he expects them to make the decisions and bring these decisions to him for ratification. So why would he go networking and why would the departmental heads go networking……..they don’t, they delegate jobs to junior staff whose task it is to assemble information required for new suppliers of products and services. These are the ones who should go networking but they haven’t a clue what to do as they would only be there to seek information which leads me to point two

2) The minute a larger company appears at a networking event they are invariably stalked by the network vampires all of whom sense bigger business money immediately and are hovering around pushing for the appointments and leads. The poor junior staff go back to the office clutching a pile of business cards offering all sorts of management services, guru services and the like which they pass to their line manager who in turn chucks them in the bucket unless he has a very specific need at that exact moment in time and lets face it – that’s a very long-shot indeed.

The only larger companies who ever come out to network at those that are selling their services down the chain — for example banks, accountants etc whose clients are small and micro business.

So………psst……want to join my new Network Group…..it’s going to be completely different to all the others. It’s going to be at midnight ‘cos that’s the only time not taken. You will be paid to attend ‘cos every other variation has been used. It won’t be welcoming and friendly because all the others are. The format will be as rigid as an army parade ground because there is no other thing left and it will only be open to anyone not in business at all – well that covers just about all the things that could possible make it ‘something new’ Finally, it’s going to be called the RGB Network – The Really Grumpy B**tards Network” – see you there…..

Death to the One Man Band

If I have to hear about another One Man Band during 2010 I will have to lie down, kick my legs into the air and have a raving tantrum!

I am sick to the back teeth of hearing phrases like “We offer blah de blah de blah to all sizes of companies, even one man bands”  – how patronising I say.  Or how about “I’m a one man band offering blah de blah de blah”  No you are not Don Partridge of “Rosie” fame from the 1960’s.  You are the backbone of Britain – albeit a Broken Britain.  It’s time to stand up and be counted and stop cowering behind such euphemisms as  “We offer…. or we can do”  If you are self employed say it out loud and be proud if it.  Stop pretending that you have piles of staff back at the office. 

And talking of “The Office” – if you work from home you should be proud of it and not hide behind a thinly disguised address.   You are the brave forward thinking ones – working from home saves on heat and light bills, reduces the carbon footprint.  It’s the smart thing to do.  Commuting day in day out ain’t so smart. 

Why do self employed people have the need to hide the fact – it’s because the bigger companies sneer down at the self employed working from home – we don’t count, they will never give us any business I hear you say!

So I challenge you for 2010 when Networking….

a)       If you are self employed, please never use the phrase “One Man Band”

b)      If you hear the phrase “One Man Band” please ask the offender to re-word it

c)       If you are part of a bigger company, please don’t dismiss the self employed – because you might just be one of us one day…..

For those of you too young to remember Don Partridge here is a brilliant You Tube Clip of some random tribute act – it’s a classic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mzlaZ7PWvU

How to book and attend a networking event and not pay

1)  Get a job with the major high street bank that has been bailed out with shed loads of taxpayers money, book networking event, cancel at the last minute and then express extreme surprise at being expected to pay.  (Remember to make sure that the small business customer is being screwed to the deck for every possible charge.)

2)  Get a job with another major high street bank that has been bailed out with shed loads of taxpayers money, book networking event for self and colleague, turn up at event without colleague but no cancellation and express great surprise at being expected to pay for 2 places.  Remember to charge small business customer humungeous loads of money for being 2 nanoseconds overdrawn

3)  Setup a networking group and invite people to come that you owe money to in lieu of payment to them

4)  Go to event, stuff face with food, tell everyone what a high-powered tycoon you are, sit there looking extremely bored, tell organiser after the event you didn’t enjoy it therefore aren’t going to pay and it’s tough bananas

5) Get job with national communications company, book event and change mind at the last minute, don’t attend and then shout on the phone about how unreasonable small company is to expect payment when you had clearly changed your mind!

6)  Book event, using different e-mail address from the last time you booked and didn’t pay, and hope organiser doesn’t spot your booking

7) Go to at least 2 events, be really really nice, pay on time for your first 2 events, use the famous ” forgot my wallet” excuse for the 3rd meeting, go to 4th meeting and then disappear into the sunset — job done!

8) Attend event, tell organiser that your head office will pay, 6 months later organiser probably won’t be bothered to chase it

9)  Attend event, tell organiser that your head office will pay then leave the company

10) Attend event, pay with rubber cheque and it will be most likely safe to assume that the cost of chasing bad debt will put organiser off