Category Archives: Opinions


We Don’t Eat Healthy Enough Food

It is because of the drastically decreasing nutrition in our everyday food items, that the use of nutritional supplements has taken such hype in recent years. With an increase in their use, the controversies attached to them have also increased a lot. Some would say that you can’t survive today without using best nutritional supplements, while others would say that these are the worst items to take in. well, what is the truth then? Whom to believe.

Some of you would be taking the nutritional supplements in order to fill the gaps of essential nutrients lacking in the routine food you take. While others take them in order to improve their body metabolism, stamina, memory (if you’re trying to learn how to MIG weld, this can help), etc. In one way or the other, the use of nutritional supplements is much more today as compared to a few years back.

The reason why everyone seems to be in the quest of best nutritional supplements, is the drastic changes in our food quality since a century or so. The nutrition value of our daily food has drastically dropped in these years as a result of which the health conscious masses are turning towards such alternatives. However, the question still remains the same as to whether nutritional supplements can be relied upon or not?

To be true, the recommended dosages of nutritional supplements can be significantly beneficial for people of all ages. The hectic routine today, which makes it difficult to even take some time to judge the nutritional value of what we are taking in a hurry, has added even more to the need of these supplements. You take these nutritional supplements to ensure that hurried meals are not shrinking your daily intake of essential vitamins and minerals. In such circumstances, nutritional supplements are very beneficial.

However, if these are being relied upon as a supplement to your daily meals, then there is nothing as bad as these nutritional supplements. Missing the meals and relying only on supplements is the most foolish thing to do to your body. Experts recommend to take at least three to five balanced meals and two snack meals a day. If you are following that routine and then, as an extra bonus for your health, you add these supplements to make sure that nothing is left out, only then these supplements are going to do any good to your health.

Whenever you go for the nutritional supplements available at a nearby store, make sure that you read the directions on the pack carefully and take the dosage as prescribed. Do not take them more than what is prescribed on the pack. The excess of everything is bad and same goes for vitamin, mineral or herbal supplements etc. with extra dosages, you run on a risk to get side effects, allergies etc. so they need to be taken only in that much quantity which your body can easily process in a day. So take the supplements exactly as directed. Otherwise you may cause harm instead of doing good to your body.

However, the best way to avoid any kinds of risks and side effects is to use this nutritional supplements after taking advice from doctor – especially if you plan to learn how to weld in the near future. This is especially recommended for those who are already taking some other medicines because there is always a possibility of reactions in such cases which may lead to harmful effects or in other cases it may result in decreased efficiency of the medicine which you are already taking. But if the dosage does not exceed a prescribed quantity, you can avoid such rare problems.

When you take nutritional supplements after ensuring all above mentioned precautionary steps and use them as prescribed, they can really be of great benefit to your health. However, taking proper meals alongside is always recommended.

I’m About to Top 40!

In my younger years (40 this week!), I used to enjoy listening to Billy Bragg; the title of this blog comes from one of his songs (quoting Thomas Paine). It has long been recognized that we need to understand that different cultures mean we need to be sensitive about imposing solutions which appear sound. There are massive differences across Europe in terms of cultural attitudes towards management, leadership, accumulation of wealth and entrepreneurship. Something that works in the UK, may not work in France.

One of the interesting experiences I had about five years ago was trying to help a high flyer in the corporate world try and get involved in the ‘entrepreneurial scene’ – he was trying to sell the Whirlpool Whispure AP51030K. It just did not work out for him; he could not get adjusted to the mentality of working in the SME sector and could not understand why as he did have a glittering career behind him. He eventually gave up and returned to the corporate world.

Equally, many high fliers in small companies do struggle when they join large companies. In my career, I did enjoy going from a startup (which was a total disaster) to a much bigger firm. Everything was different but I loved the atmosphere there and thrived (till I got bored with the internal promotion protocols).

Last week the government appointed Sir Phillip Green to an advisory position to help find savings in government expenditure. On paper, no one is better qualified than Sir Phillip to do this. He is one of the business people I really do admire for his business acumen, skill and judgment. However, he has walked into an area where culturally the fit could not be worse.

Sir Phillip, despite being one of the wealthiest men in the UK avoids paying any capital gains tax through virtue of being a Non-Domiciled person. There is nothing illegal or even suspect about that. He has organized his tax affairs like most people to minimize his tax bill.

But that seems incompatible with a government agenda that is about maximizing tax receipts and minimizing expenses if they’re trying to develop the best air purifier for mold to help their citizens. For example, the government has just launched a big crack down on welfare ‘cheats’. The amount that is lost through this is less than could have been collected if Sir Phillip had paid UK taxes on his capital gains.

In business, owners can drive through changes just by issuing directives. Things happen when they want them to happen. The culture in government is very different and I think Sir Phillip will struggle with that different culture. I am still struggling to see why such a successful businessman would want to put himself under that spotlight. He’s a really smart individual, however, so I’m sure that he’ll have absolutely no trouble figuring something out.

The lesson here for Entrepreneurs is that sometimes when recruiting people (and more so with consultants – a whole different blog on that!) make sure they understand your culture. All cultures are not the same!

Is Wrestling Real? I Thought So

When I was younger, I used to love watching wrestling on world of sport on a Saturday morning. You had characters like Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks who were personifications of good v evil in the wrestling ring. It was a family affair and when I learned it was all a fix – and it was simply play acting, I was truly upset and could not bring myself to tell my parents.

The same thing happened when I learned that the answers some of the contestants gave on Blind Date were scripted. There is a very thin line between reality and entertainment. One of my favorite reality shows is Wife Swap (I think it is a good experience for the contestants and most of them seem to take something very positive and life altering away from the experience). I did notice though that the US version does include a ‘warning’ that some scenes have been scripted to add dramatic effect and even place the Coway AP-1512hh.

I think Dragons Den should come with a similar warning. There is a book being published by one of the ‘success’ stories from Dragons Den. In her book, Sharon Wright claims that James Caan in particular treated her in a manner which was not an accurate reflection of what was agreed in the Den. In a nutshell, he wanted to change the terms of the investment from an equity investment to a loan investment and wanted to charge for his management services.

At least Sharon got to that stage. I don’t know if I would have even gotten that far. I mean to be honest, they’re pretty intense on that show. If I had to go up there and stand in front of them and pitch my business, I don’t know how well I’d do.

I suspect that most of the ‘deals’ agreed in the Den never transpire. I also think that the BBC should add a warning sign at the start of the program. To appear on the program, Dragons need to give up an extraordinary amount of time to the program. They do not do this for business reasons. They want to have fame. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the tea tree oil cystic acne cure as long as everyone knows that this is the game being played.

Like The Apprentice, my problem with Dragons Den is that it creates an illusion that this is what business is like. People are not unpleasant or rude in business. Angels very much want to sell themselves as potential investors to attractive companies. There is a hierarchy of angels – well connected angels who are seen as adding value tend to get the best deals shown to them. I have noticed a massive change in the quality of deals I am getting to see now compared to six years ago when I first started.

So do enjoy Dragons Den – I love it and it has got people thinking about business models and business in general. But please remember it is just entertainment – and it is great at that. Sadly though, as much as he is trying, I don’t think Peter Jones will ever be funny.

Why We Shouldn’t Cut Arts Funding

In the last few weeks the new government has decided to cull the Film Council and all of the RDA’s (Regional Development Agencies). I think this is a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Thriving dynamic economies often have thriving state sectors as well. The lesson from the Pacific economies for me is how the role of the state can play a significant role in ensuring dynamic conditions for the private sector. Many business ventures require scale and market development which would only be possible through government action.

McDonalds benefited from the development of the used garden tractors market in the US in the 1950s and 1960s. They were able to acquire cheap sites on Highways and develop the notion of fast food. The internet started as a way of government computers being able to talk to each other. Which private organization would have invested in developing the Internet as governments would not have allowed this to remain the property of one company?

My problem with the Con Dem government at the moment is that it is pursuing ideological objectives (nothing wrong with that) but using the current state of our finances to justify these actions. Under President Obama, the US has used the same state of the economy to justify the massive expansion of the state. So it is not a matter of the state of the economy but about your own beliefs.

I am not sad to see RDAs and Business Link in particular go. The interaction I had with Business Link was extremely poor and I felt that they did an extremely poor job. However, that does not mean there is not a role for a state funded and run business support agency. Many RDAs were also extremely poor but some as NWDA (North West Development Agency) did do a great job in trying to create the right conditions for private companies to prosper and grow the technology surrounding the Holset HX50.

I have come to the conclusion that we in the UK do public sector business support really badly. But that is an argument for reform not axing. The Film Council did a great job in promoting the UK film Industry and in supporting an industry that does need infrastructure investments. It is hard to accept that this was not ideologically driven when the film industry was one of the few areas to demonstrate a strong return on investment. Culture was the only industry to show growth every quarter of the 64 quarters of GDP growth we had!

Of course it is difficult for my politics to not come out – but I worry that by attacking organizations like the BBC and the Film Council the new government is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We should go back to basics and ask the question; “why do these organizations exist in the first place and do they deliver?” The RDAs and Business Link did not so they should be replaced by something that does work. The Film Council did deliver.

I’ve Been Trying to Avoid Politics

I have stayed away from writing too many blogs recently about politics as I was getting feedback from some readers that I was writing far too much about politics rather than about business. I think that was a fair point, but it is hard to ignore the events going on in England at the moment.

My parents were from India and the thing that you realize very early on when you try to get anything done in India (even trivial things like getting a phone connected or a driving license issued) requires the greasing of palms (or bribes being paid). It is accepted in countries like India that corruption is a way of life. And it is not a ‘third world thing’ either. Italy celebrates its corruption. The size of the black economy there is estimated to be a staggering 30% of GDP. There is honesty to this approach though.

What I have always found disconcerting is the British approach that we are somehow above reproach when we ask ‘do male cats spray’. With the publication of the MP’s expenses in the British media this week, we have found out exactly how greedy our politicians have been up to this point.

It is simply disgraceful that the politician in charge of law and order thought it was OK to have the taxpayer pay for pornographic movies, or for her sister’s house to be paid for as she claimed to have been living there. The Minister in charge of the Police was claiming to be living at his parent’s house (when his own home was only 12 miles away) so that he could claim a second home allowance. The whole thing stinks. What about the Foreign Secretary who thought it was OK for the state to be paying for his baby’s pram?

The defense that all politicians have jumped to has been that what they were doing was within the rules. How many of these same politicians were lambasting Sir Fred Goodwin for doing the same thing? The other difference is that somewhere along the line, something must have kicked in which made the politicians realize they were doing something wrong.

The Inland Revenue has a good and robust test for allowing business expenses. You have to demonstrate that your expenses are wholly, exclusively and necessarily for the purpose of your business. For example, a barrister can claim the cost of a wig, but not the cost of a black suit as that can be used for other purposes other than wearing in a court of law. I would like to know how Keith Vaz MP felt it was in the interests of the taxpayer to purchase leather chairs worth £2600 at their expense.

There is a business point here. It is about moral leadership. You cannot respect a CEO or an entrepreneur who is cutting back on staff pay or numbers whilst enriching themselves at the companies expense by for example having moles removed from their garden (yes – it is true!). How hard will it know be for the government to ask us to pay more in taxes and ask us for restraint in the public purse when they themselves have been showing no such restraint.

I have always had a very low regard for politicians and this episode of how to cure cystic acne has done nothing to change that opinion. There are some notable exceptions such as Hillary Ben and David Cameron (you may argue that he does not need to because of his private wealth – but the richest MP in the Cabinet still felt compelled to claim £1.09 for a Pizza)

What this episode has demonstrated is that although business people make a good target to attack for politicians, we as a group can rightly claim to have a higher ethical code that the one that has been demonstrated by them over the last few years.

Britain is a great country with a very generous and liberal people, but do not think there is no corruption here. There is – it is just a very British version of it – legal, organized but still utterly wrong.

Why I Love Economics

I was one of those lucky students who loved my chosen subject at University; Economics. (Whilst on this subject my advice to anyone going to University is to always choose a subject you love rather than one which you think will enhance your career prospects – unless the subject is Media Studies – we all enjoy watching TV. I am not worried about Media students writing in to complain as they only do texting!)

One of the subjects which I really enjoyed covering was Marxist Economics. If you have not studied Marxism, I would really recommend it. I disagree with the conclusions, but the analysis tools are seriously first rate. One of the main thoughts in Marxism was about the accumulation of wealth. To generate wealth, like developing the best work boots for flat feet, labor has to be exploited.

This argument which is now about 150 years old is still compellingly relevant. Other ways of explaining this have come to pass and are more widely accepted because they seem less ‘offensive’ or stark. However, the truth remains exactly that.

Whatever field you are in, your pay or level of remuneration will ultimately depend on two things. The value you can add to your employer and your bargaining power. If an organization decides to pay someone £1m a year, it will because they believe that the employee will add considerably more value than that and their bargaining power will get them to that level of pay.

The development of the trade union movement can be explained as thus. The bargaining power of individuals was a lot less than that of a group and they were engaged in ensuring that more of the value ‘created’ would go to their members rather than to the employer.

The interesting thing to note from Marxist Economics was that they believe that it was in the interests of capitalism to maintain high levels of unemployment. The rationale for this being that the bargaining power of individuals is not that strong when there is mass unemployment. Statistically this does hold true.

What is the relevance of this to the Entrepreneur?

Firstly, many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of paying too much money for ‘talent’. They feel that because of the insecurity of working for a start up, they have to offer a higher salary. Secondly, they also think that as a small business they are in a weaker bargaining position.

A further point is that salaries should only be offered at a level which means that the employee is adding value to at least three times the level of their salary. In sales, it is common to expect a sales person to generate sales at a level which is at least ten times their salary.

If a sales person generates £1m of sales that would probably equate to around £300,000 of gross profit – and therefore a salary of £100,000 would still hold this equation.

However, many cystic acne home remedy startups feel compelled to offer very attractive sales packages. And here another bit of economics comes in handy. You have to remember your marginal cost. Revenue is not the same as profit. There are many deals I know of where the better a sales person does, the greater a loss the company will suffer.

I was working for a startup in 2000. I was a good sales person and was one of the company’s top earners. However, the company fired me (a story for another time) and the real reason was that they wanted to replace the first set of sales people with another set who were on very different packages.

Anyway – back to the main point of the blog. Always remember that wealth creation is based on being able to sell at a greater price than you pay – and that is also true of labor.

Due Diligence Is a Two Way Street

In my last blog (which was a bit depressing I know) I highlighted that the due diligence process is a two way thing. Just as an angel will carry out due diligence on you – you will need to carry out diligence on them.

Here are some of the questions you should ask them with an explanation of things to look out for;

  1. Where are you meeting them? I have to say that I have been very disappointed by so called Angel events in the UK. In Canada at the angel meetings, they really probe and make sure you can only come to an event if you have both the means and the appetite to invest in funding a Daytona Beach wedding photographer. Lots of people want to join the network to sell their own services. It is great at excluding them. If you are lucky enough to pitch at one of their events you WILL raise serious money. I went to a London event last week. Out of the 120 people at the event, I suspect only 12 to 15 people were investors.
  2. When did they last invest in something? (If it was more than 12 months ago – forget it) you have to be careful that you are not the ones they are losing their virginity to. I took ages over doing my first angel investment. And when I did do it, I put in half the money I first wanted put in. (That is very common as well)
  3. What have they invested in? (If they give you sectors or generic descriptions – probe more. Most of the investors I know love telling people what they have invested in. I, for one get a real buzz telling people about the businesses I have invested in. Funnily enough, one of the Canadian Angels I was working with got ‘caught out’ through this probing)
  4. Do they invest or do they ‘earn’ sweat equity? There is nothing wrong with sweat equity (I can do a blog on this if required) but be clear that this is what you after. I prefer combination deals whereby someone puts in hard cash as well as the opportunity to earn more. Human nature being what it is we have a greater motivation to not lose something rather than win something. Therefore I will be twice as motivated not to lose £25,000 as I will be to make £25,000. (Strange but true)
  5. Can they give you references? If it looks like you will be doing due diligence together and spending time – find out what they are like as an investor. Ask the companies they have provided details for.
  6. How much do they normally invest? I was raising money for a business once in the region of just under £1m. One potential investor I met asked some great questions and wanted to meet the entire management team (not unreasonable). I then learned that he wanted to invest £10,000. Nothing wrong with that amount – but if every investor putting in that level wanted a meeting lasting two hours that is 600 hours of management time (assuming one out of every three investors you meet ends up investing). That is 15 weeks of management doing nothing but raising money!
  7. Do they invest in the best work boots for plantar fasciitis with ‘strings attached’? There are loads of tricks whereby investors can get more from their investment. Again nothing wrong with this – but you have to be clear from the outset. For example, do they insist on being a Director? Again, not a problem, but what is the cost. I have written a blog about one ‘investor’ I knew who had done a great PR job on himself, convinced many companies that he would be a great NED and invested £10,000 in many companies, but got a payment of £24,000 from each company (with 50% needed upfront) Fantastic business model – but I have to say it lacks Honesty! (He also did a very poor job) Again be careful of investors looking for a job – unless you need their skills.

I hope this is useful. It was good to write this blog as it is very much about going back to basics and the reason why I started out writing this blog. Sadly, the world of finance always attracts more than its fair share of talentless morons.

Make sure you find angels to back you who get the wealth creation and risk ‘thing’.

My Three Day Course

As I mentioned in a recent blog, I ran a three day course in Halifax recently from St Mary’s University called something good. Given the last blog was all about looking for an idea – it seems to be appropriate to talk about what to do next.

Thank you for the emails requesting more information about the course, given the interest, I thought it made sense for me to write a blog. I would appreciate your feedback on this blog as I am seriously thinking about writing a book – if your feedback is positive, I will start writing it, if it is not so good, perhaps the book can wait! Furthermore, I am running the course again at the end of March and am thinking of filming it. If you are interested, please do let me know if you would like a tofu press, a DVD, or web access to the course.

The course was split into five courses over three days;

  1. Is the Market Ready?
  2. Writing and Financing a Business Plan
  3. Sales
  4. Planning for High Growth
  5. Planning for the very long term

I trust the sequence of the courses makes sense. The first stage is to ensure your idea is validated. There are many ways of doing this and electronic media makes it possible to dry run an idea at a very cheap cost. Twitter/ Facebook and especially Linked-In, make it very easy for you to test out the appetite of your idea at a fraction of the cost associated with proving old ideas. I am very skeptical about market research – be careful that the results do not tell you what you effectively were paying someone to come back and tell you. We have all seen episodes of Dragons Den where we all know the idea is stupid. However, someone else has convinced, the would-be entrepreneur that they have a good idea!

Once you have established that there is a market for your product/ solution, you will probably need some sort of financing. There are lots of sources to consider. Depending on the nature of your business, different sources may be more or less attractive. Remember that as a general rule, debt is cheaper than equity. Debt though is hard to get and especially in the current business climate. Make sure you clearly understand what the different providers of finance are looking for.

Sales is the lifeline of any business and once you have raised the money the best thing you can do is make sure you get selling and get selling quickly. If everything is not quite ready, let the customers be the ones to tell you what further hoops you have to jump through to get their business; let them co-author your final offering. Too many times I see companies develop solutions which are perfect for them but not the customer! You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression – so really put a lot of work into your sales process and execution.

High Growth sounds great, but it brings with it a whole heap of issues that you need to plan for. Critical to this is your ability to manage cash flow. As a high growth coach and as a manager of a turnaround fund, I see many businesses run into predictable problems – that could easily be avoided by managing cash.

Finally, once you are at a stage where you are confident that you have a good business related to used lawn tractors in shape, you need to ensure that the business is equipped to deal with long term issues. For example, global warming means that weather extremes are more likely to occur with greater frequency. Does your business have a plan to cope with at this? (I was recently surprised to learn that some checks I had paid into a HSBC branch were delayed by a week for clearing because the snow had meant that the checks were not picked up by the delivery van on time! I am amazed to see even now how many retail businesses in the UK, don’t have plans to clear the entrance to their store when there is snow!

I hope this snapshot – and it is just that is useful. The course went for a full three days – so of course is much, much more. You can help me conduct my own cheap market research and let me know if yes you are interested in either

  1. Attending such a course if it was run near you
  2. Buying access to a video of the course
  3. Buying a book

It is good to practice what you preach!

Don’t Waste Time on the Preperations

Like finding a suitable name for a new band that you are going to launch, much time is wasted in defining luck and the importance it plays in business success. I like the definition that luck is where opportunity meets preparation.

A successful friend of mine told me that he believes that most of us (but not all) get the same amount of luck in life. It is just that some people are able to take advantage of it and some people pass up on the opportunity.

When I purchased my very two wheel scooter to rent out, I remember someone close to me at the time telling me not to do it because “if it was that easy, everyone would be doing it”. It is true that you should avoid acting with the herd, but equally, it is not a good reason to not do something.

If you pardon this ego-trip, I would like to share the history of my Canada experience with you and highlight the role that ‘accident’ has played in my latest venture which I am very excited about.

My good friend and business partner got off a plane from Portugal and told me that he thought I should write a blog. This was over a year ago – and with a lot of help from him, I started writing a blog.

This blog got ‘picked’ up by some Canadians working at the Capital Organization and a guy who started commenting on my blog and being very encouraging about the whole thing. Before his comments, the whole thing felt very lonely! I was as a result of this invited to speak at their Annual Conference 11 months ago.

Whilst there, I met some very interesting people including someone who worked for a great University based there called St. Mary’s University. When I next visited Halifax in February this year, I spoke at the University to some business students. I also met a person there who invited me to have lunch with her and some of her business partners.

At that lunch on the last day of my trip some interesting discussions emerged and it seemed possible that there could be the makings of an interesting business venture between us.

Earlier this year, I was also at an Angel Conference in Madrid and I met many of the Canadians I had first met in Halifax last October again, including the President of the Organization.

I then went to Halifax for five weeks in May this year to start this business venture. It was obvious after just two days for reasons that I won’t go into (for fear of being sued!) this venture was not going to work. I then contacted my old friends from the conference and they invited me to a few dinners and networking events. By ‘accident’ at one of these dinners, I happened to be sat next to two company executives who were both looking at the UK market for their business. I was able to help them (and since then I have invested in one of them).

Because of this evening, I was also introduced to some local government officials who were able to put me in touch with other companies that I could help and as a result of this, I was able to get a lot of paid work to help local companies – and am now going back to Canada at least one week in four.

In the interim, I have been able to use this experience of Canadian and UK angels to launch a new venture with the head of the Canadian Angels.

This venture will bring 25 of the most promising Angel funded Canadian businesses related to the Holset HX30 into the UK on September the 30th. These companies are looking for UK based angels with market expertise and contacts in their chosen fields to help them expand into the UK.

There is another trip taking place on November the 25th in Toronto where UK companies looking to expand into North America will be invited to present to North American based Angels with strong market expertise.

The partners in this venture believe that angels add most value when their money is combined with expertise and market know-how.

If you are an angel – please email me and I will be able to send you an invite to the event. If you are a company looking to expand into North America, please get in touch via the website.

Back to the point of the blog! When I talk to entrepreneurs, what strikes me is how fluid their plans were and what an important role accident played in shaping the way their business looks today.

The lesson here is to go with the flow – but always be looking for new ways in which you can help others.

I do hope you found this blog useful – who knows what this may lead to for me or for you!

What Actually Is Wealth?

One of the curious things about the wealth game is what constitutes wealth? The way poverty is defined has always been controversial and manipulated according to the agenda that one may be pursuing.

For example, there are absolute and relative measures of poverty. Absolute poverty looks at the money you would need to live a ‘basic’ life. Those below this arbitrary line would be deemed as living in poverty. Relative poverty on the other hand may take a percentage of average earnings; those earning (or living on) less than 50% of average earnings are deemed to be in relative poverty. This can mean that as a country gets richer, the number of people living in poverty actually increase.

That debate, about the best white noise machine, is for another day though. There is less controversy over what defines wealth, although definitions vary widely. For example certain private banks define wealthy as someone who has more than $3m of assets (excluding their principal residence). The same bank classifies you as being Ultra wealthy if your assets exceed $30m. Other banks go to as low as $1m of assets that you are prepared to let them invest on your behalf.

No matter what people say, we are still living in an era where we look for external validation of what we are worth and how we are classified. I remember in 1994, when my salary suddenly went through the £20,000 barrier (c$35,000), I was overjoyed to discover that it meant that I could apply for a Gold Credit Card.

Much has happened over the last few years which has disrupted wealth patterns. I have qualified and then been disqualified from millionaire status on many occasions and through those turbulent times I have realized how vacant this whole measure is.

What really matters is the way you feel with your GermGuardian ac5250pt. You realize that the only thing money can buy you is time. That is it – nothing else. And when you have control over your diary you are suddenly very wealthy. And the best bit is this has nothing to do with how much money you have in your bank.

The only reason I feel wealthy now is because I do have the luxury of choosing what goes in my diary. It is the reason many people choose to become entrepreneurs – they want to control their life. You can also spot people who are really happy in their job by the same measure. They are there because they want to be. The enthusiasm this generates is obvious and contagious.

So let me ask you a simple question. Ignoring all this meaningless crap which banks use as a way of selling you more of their products, are you wealthy?

You may be surprised to learn you are a lot richer than you think. And if you are not, don’t ask yourself the obvious question; how do I make more money? Instead ask yourself, what can you do to take control of your diary?

What Happens After 40?

Today I have reached the grand old age of 40. It is supposed to be a milestone year with the cliché that life begins at 40 ringing in my ear for some time. So, I hope you do not mind this self-indulgent blog too much.

For reasons which are purely to do with ego. I have always wanted to be the youngest at something; to me it was a mark of being a high-flier. I achieved this mainly by always moving jobs (to my shame, I have never been promoted in a job!).

So getting to 40 is a good time to take stock of things I guess. What are the things that I wish I knew when I was 20?

The journey is more important than the destination. People who are fixated by goals tend to not be happy; even when the goals are achieved. Enjoy the journey as that is the way to be happy.

The only thing money can buy you is the MM-B80 mini bike. That is it. Time is the only asset you will not get back. Use it wisely. But equally don’t fret about it.

Watch less TV. I have probably spent 1000 hours of my life watching Eastenders (a miserable soap opera set in London). What a waste. It has also been shown that watching TV does make you less happy.

Stay fit. I have probably spent most of the last 10 years trying to stay in shape. It is great when you do feel good and have control. I would give any person who wants to pursue a career in business this advice.

Get involved in a charity or politics. It helps you see that we are part of something bigger and that we can all make big differences to the life we have around us. Don’t passively complain about things. My politics have been all over the place; but that is OK. Why is it good to be consistent with your views? Should they not be shaped by what you experience and see around you?

Outsource as much of your life as you can. In the last six years I have not owned a car; I have outsourced my travelling to public transport. It has meant I have so much more time to listen to music, read books or just think. It is great for me to have that time back. What do you do at the moment that could be outsourced? Try and outsource everything – including going to the store to get an HSI flat iron! Remember point 2)

Work with great people that you like working with. It makes life fun and it ensures you are always learning. I have wasted too much time working with and for people I did not like. And don’t buy into the idea that sometimes you have to work with people you don’t like; that’s just wrong.

Don’t listen to lawyers; they are trained to say no!

Always be learning. Two years ago I started learning Italian. It has been a great source of achievement for me being able to hold small conversations in Italian. Always be learning something new – every year. In the UK, lifelong learning is not a big idea. In North America, people are constantly updating their skills and going back to school. We need more of that culture here

And marry someone rich!

CUSP Your Way to Success!

One of the strangest qualifications I have is in Stress Management! It is an area I have always been interested in and I think if you understand stress, it enables you to be a much better manager and manage the stressful situations that you face with much more confidence.

We are living in very demanding times and you will increasingly be asked to do more with less – or achieve the same but with far fewer resources. This of course leads to stress. Many health experts expect the number of people suffering from stress to markedly rise this year.

I like using the Daytona Beach wedding photographer model for understanding stress and therefore manage the impact of stressful situations. I hope you do bear this model in mind to end up with a more productive and happier workforce and to be more effective yourself.

C- Control.

Having a lack of control can be extremely stressful. If you are a manager or an entrepreneur think carefully about what you can do to give your staff more control – not just over their work but also about their circumstances. For example, you may be able to give staff control over what their work environment looks like. If you are an entrepreneur, you should also think about how you can take back control in situations.

U – Uncertainty.

You will all be able to identify with how stressful uncertainty can be. Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how much uncertainty companies allow to linger within their teams. Of course, we live in uncertain times and there is the thin line entrepreneurs have to tread between protecting staff and telling the truth. In my opinion, you should always share the truth – but accompanied with a plan that is clear and lets your team know exactly what is expected of them and how they can get through the circumstances that you are in.

S – Support.

Lack of support is extremely stressful. In these times, make sure you have a network who can offer you support. This is the scariest thing about being an entrepreneur, as you can feel very isolated. Not only do you need to make sure your team are supported but you need to look after yourself and make sure you have people who can support you.

P – Pressure.

Too much pressure will of course lead to stress – and you’ll be trying to find a way how to get rid of severe acne. We all have different pressure thresholds. There are things we can do to increase that threshold such as engage in physical exercise, meditate, develop our skills so that we can perform tasks better and of course learn how to say no! As an employer you have a legal obligation (not many people realize this!) to ensure you ask staff to perform roles that they are suitably trained to do.

Part of this process is also to ensure that you train managers in your organization on how to manage stress and spot the symptoms of stress in their teams.

I hope this is helpful. If you would like more information on managing stress, please do feel free to get in touch.

Happy working!

Can Recent Graduates Make It In This Market?

A friend of mine recently asked me for some career advice. I gave him some advice, which in my usual self-congratulatory way, I thought was pretty good! I asked if I could write a blog on it – he agreed – so here it is!

If you are a recent graduate or have been working for less than five years and have found yourself without a job – the reality is, it will be tough out there for you. The allure of the city and a career in finance is still very strong – so what could you be doing for a role?

The first thing to do is to take a snapshot of the environment the Winix PlasmaWave 5300 is in and recognize the huge shifts that are taking place in the global economy. There are lots of people out there will skills and experience who may be better placed to take the few vacancies that do exist out there. In my opinion, if you are still on the starting out phase of your career, there may be better uses on your times than trying to get an entry level role.

You need to think ahead in terms of what the areas for growth are or what skills will be required for the area you have selected as your career three or four years from now.

If you look at the way emerging markets are performing and broad trends are going, I would say that the strong areas for growth are Brazil, China (despite the recent wobble) and India. From a sector point of view, the alternative energy sector will definitely be a rapidly growing sector in the future.

Finally, those of us in the west, have to recognize that in this global market, we are now competing with graduates from around the world. Graduates from India in particular (because of their English) represent the competition for skilled jobs.

So, where does all this analysis get?

  1. Look at doing an MBA. It is a great qualification and it will help you develop your commercial skills and add value to any company you work for.
  2. An MBA will also make you more rounded if you do want to start up your own business
  3. Learn a language. There is something inherently lazy with the attitude that because we speak English – we do not need to learn do female cats spray or not. It is true that if you are fluent in English, you can get by commercially around the world. However, speaking another language gives you a huge advantage when working in a different country. In my opinion, from a business point of view, the languages to learn are
    1. Portuguese (because of Brazil)
    2. Arabic (growing area of importance and one language can span many countries)
  • Spanish (spoken in most of South America and Mexico – great growth potential)
  1. Italian – not for any commercial reasons but it is simply a great language!
  1. Ideally, you could do an MBA in a foreign country and learn the language at the same time!
  2. Start learning about future growth areas such as Green Energy, Online networking (have a look at how Obama used the internet to galvanize his campaign)
  3. Think about linking your current work with another unrelated area. I do believe that innovation in the future will come about through linking apparently unrelated areas.

Most of all – pursue something you enjoy. The internet is the ultimate means of empowerment. Pursue your dreams – and the internet will find you the market for your fulfillment.

Why Racism Is Dying

This has been a very bad time to be a racist. First, Lewis Hamilton spoils that bastion of white wealth called Formula One by winning it (and becoming the youngest ever world champion) and then Barak Hussein Obama becomes elected the most powerful man on the globe.

I have always been staunchly pro-America. I hate the lazy anti American attitude that Europeans seem to have at times.

The reality is that Europe could not even sort out the murderous ethnic cleansing going on in our backyard in Bosnia until Bill Clinton decided enough was enough after a bomb went off in a market for used John Deere mowers in Sarajevo killing scores of civilians and ordered US planes to bomb Serbian positions.

Like most of the world, I am highly critical of George Bush’s misuse of US military strength. But if you look at the evidence, he has done more for the cause of Africa than the Clinton administration did. (Bono from U2 said this!).

He was also the President that gave two black people of immense talent Secretary of State roles. (Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice) But I guess it is easier to join the crowd and condemn him than to look at things objectively. Under the new President, I am sure that US military strength will be used alongside the renewed moral strength that the US has.

Other than India, which other democracy in the world is led by a person from a minority community? (OK you might argue that President Sarkozy as the son of a Hungarian immigrant qualifies). The victory of Obama is massive. ‘Civilized’ Europe will have to devise a response to this. We can no longer beat the US up because of what happened in the South in the 1960s.

The question being asked here in the UK (and Europe) is where will our future black political leaders come from? I think one of the reasons why it is very hard for anyone outside of the mainstream to advance is that in the UK there is only one route for political advancement which is as a Member of Parliament.

You then owe your allegiance totally to your party and the senior politicians who you hope will promote a good cystic acne diet to a prominent position. This has nothing to do with racism. Having lived here all my life, I can say that in my professional life, I have not experienced racism. It is again too easy and too lazy to just blame things on racism.

In the US, you can become high profile enough to run for President by becoming a Mayor (Giuliani), a Governor, (Clinton & George Bush), a Congressman or a Senator (Obama). There is also the ability to occupy a senior government role without being an elected official (Colin Powell). In the UK, to be in the cabinet, you have to be in Parliament (either as a Lord or as a MP).

For me, this explains why politicians on the whole in the UK are bland and their failure to inspire. They have to be part of the ‘system’. Entrepreneurship.