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Team Talk We’re Destroying Our Chances Of Future Success Have Your Say ASA Therapies Ask The Expert • Business Coach • Life Coach • Accountant • Humor Expert • Solicitor • International Markets Horlock Horticulture
Technology For Business • Q&A With Matthias Henze Of Jimdo.com • App Review: Sleep Cycle for iPhone Courtney Consultancy Networking • Out & About in February • Liverpool Chamber Of Commerce
John Haynes: An Interview With... • Rod Holmes - The Mersey Partnership
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TEAM TALK We’re Destroying Our Chances Of Future Success
fter leaving education at the age of 17 due to a struggling relationship with my teachers, I had a real bone to pick. The education system had let me down along with tens of thousands of other young adults in my year group alone. How do I know this? because not all of them are doing what they love and are simply “getting by” at best. But why does this happen?
Ultimately it’s the system as a whole. The whole structure of education and the way it is being delivered is I reckon about 10 years out of date. The structure was designed to make teachers look high and mighty and give them the satisfaction of complete control with the utmost respect. This is not an Ideal learning environment nor should it be called a school. Regimented routines are completely against our human nature and have to be forced upon us rather than us adapting to them.
One of the biggest reasons for this hierarchy behaviour is greed & power. Whilst schools are run the way they are they are a great investment to make for any society, community, group, or even religion. Our young absorbent minds are highly susceptible to outside influences including those who teach. In addition to the curriculum teachings, schools always have an agenda, whether it be government, society, or religion driven. There is nothing wrong with a school having this kind of agenda providing it does not force the children to conform to the ways of the school or feel like they will be banished from that society forever. If this is the case then the school is no better than the pupils that bully within its very walls.
“The current education system is in tatters and it’s self destruction will pave the way for a new education/business relationship”
By Craig Brake
Having been a full-time pupil of conventional learning, been an employee of numerous companies, experience both old and new ways to learn, and have owned my own businesses, all at a relatively young age I feel very passionately when it comes to education, especially now I have a daughter.
ent projects coming together and getting an idea of what’s to come as well as giving a few groups a nudge in the right direction to prevent getting some real verbal hammering’s from some over excited Dragons. The activity ran from 9am through to 3.20pm the same day and the result was brilliant.
in the past decade we have developed methods to really hone down on the specific learning styles of an individual giving use a greater knowledge or why some pupils will succeed easier than others in particular fields of education. In addition to this we now understand that we have left and right brain learning capabilities or strengths to such a level that we can train our brain to work one way or the other and in some studies shut down one side completely in order to access new skills.
The Ideas ranged from £500,000 government funding and the use of brown field sites to Coffee shops, and my favourite idea (which you’ll here a little more about), e-Fit. Now forgive me if I’m wrong but i would much prefer to employ somebody with this kind of insight and initiative than someone doing a job to “get by”. This doesn’t have a great deal to do with the education system directly but it is an indication that people are changing along with the growth of technology and something has to happen to ensure that our education can keep up with the real world.
If this science is correct, and I’m sure it is, then we need to serious take a look at our Left brain education system and fix it. Credit where credit is due, the government have now introduced a new qualification platform called a Diploma to secondary schools. Great! except that the schools don’t know what to do with them and the government doesn’t either. Good one guys! But, I can tell you who does know (apart from me - then again i did think of this when i was still quite young). The Kids between 5 and 19 years of age. That’s right, the very pupils the government is trying to educate needs an education from them. and I’ll tell you why I believe education has to change. Mid February 2010 I attended Range High Sixth Form along with Sefton Education & Business Partnership who organised the event. The event was very clear and simple, Sixth form pupils will work together in teams of 5-6 and research and develop an idea based on using renewable energy and present it in a Dragons Den style presentation. The winning group won £50 and the idea would be presented to the school for them to consider backing it as a community/student project in using renewable energy. Before the judging took place, I was able to wonder around the school block looking at the differ-
Sefton Enterprise & Business Partnership run these projects all over the Sefton district and it’s really easy for you to get involved. There are a few people working towards what Sefton EBP are doing and that’s great as it’s introducing change to schools at a critical time with minimal commitment or restructure. But be very aware that this is a very small part of things to come. I have spoke with numerous organisation over the past months and it looks like Liverpool could lead the way in creating a better education for our future minds. As for e-Fit, I will be revisiting Range High School and be sitting down with that group and the head teacher and discussing their idea further. The idea will then be presented to you, the business community where you can have your input or choose to get involved if you like the idea as Range High may look to run the project within a close network of schools in the area. In summary, the current education system is in tatters and it’s self destruction will pave the way for a new education/business relationship which We, at Your Business eZine can be proud to be a part of.
To Shake Not To S That Is t To Shake or Not To Shake, That Is the Question... By Gill Fell
Are football teams managed any differently to the work place? I think not, or then again. Does being rich and talented give you the opportunity to behave like a completely disrespectful loser? Would you get sacked for having an affair with a work colleagues wife/girl friend if you worked in, say an insurance company? Probably not. So why is football any different? What it does do to a team is create “sides”, “animosity” and opinions. Perhaps even violence. Mr Bridge of Man City didn’t make a song and dance over missing the hand of his love rival John Terry, (loser), so well played to him, but how many people watching Man city v Chelsea just want Terry to lose, be humiliated and “get his come uppance”? Loads and guess what... I am one of those. With a live and let live, or forgive and forget moment of humanity, you have to feel slightly sorry for Terry with his stupid haircut. He’s a footballer not a god and his wife is actually letting the female race down and herself by forgiving him so quickly. Listen up blokes, we women wont have it. Unless you are a footballer earning £175 K per week, then darling we will turn a blind eye. Bring on the Gucci!! By Gill Fell Impact Training and Consultancy 07731 980170
ke or Shake, the Question... â€œ
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o you know I have never had a massage in my life. It’s not like I haven’t had the opportunity, my father used to own a large gymnasium that had its own treatment rooms and actually employed a masseuse full time. I am sure psychologists could have a field day going through the reasons why I haven’t, but the truth is I’ve never felt the need to. As I sit here beginning to write this piece it is 6 o’clock in the eve-
ning and I expect it to be finished anywhere between 10pm and midnight. I first sat at this desk at 9am this morning and I have to say my back is aching somewhat and I could demolish a glass or 2 of wine. Massage, huh, I’m a man, who needs it……..ooh hang on, ah, ouch, sorry, just shifting in my chair trying to get comfy…….OUCH! Perhaps it’s time to reconsider. Now where did I put Hiren Patel’s business card???
You here the word Holistic getting banded around so much these days, it is almost taking on a different meaning. When someone says the words ‘Holistic Therapies’, I naturally think of alternative therapies. In actual fact, the only thing that holistic means is in entirety, complete, the whole thing. So whatever the therapy is being applied to, it is to treat that thing, for example a person, from all aspects. So if I had a stiff neck, a holistic therapy may massage the neck, (physical), deal with stress coping techniques, (mental) and get me to look at either my personal or work environment, (social), to stop it from re occurring. Hiren Patel started ASA Therapies in January 2009 not as just another massage business, but really to look at the person as a whole and to actually make people feel better. Hiren says that people come to ASA Therapies initially for a massage, but they keep coming back for everything that comes with it. The massage simply becomes a treat. Also the company has a very corporate focus. We’ve all heard the statistics about days lost due to stress, back pain, etc. Well Hiren is totally committed to making a difference, in fact he has a mission to help 1 million people throughout his lifetime, either directly or indirectly. So why the focus on corporate clients? Well there are actually many reasons and the curious thing is that all of them benefit both the company and the employee receiving treatment. The first thing is, if you own a company and bring ASA Therapies in to do a treatment for your staff, they are really going to feel like you care about them, that you appreciate them. This builds loyalty and actually increases productivity as well as your employees will take less time off sick. Not bad reasons to give it a go hey. The psychological effects of doing this are enormous, which of course Hiren has always known, but just so you don’t have to take his word for it, he commissioned a case study to be carried out with a new client. This case study found that productivity actually increased on the first day that treatments were given and the staff subsequently took less days off, all of which had a direct affect on the company’s bottom line. Now you might be thinking that this is a lot to expect from a simple massage and you may be right, you see if you got ASA therapies in to your workplace, you have one or two treatments to choose from. Remember what I was saying about a holistic approach, here is a list of the treatments Hiren offers;
Stress Management Seminars Introduction to Relaxation/Massage Techniques Meditation Classes On-site fitness classes Yoga Classes Diet and Nutrition Advise Full Health Checks (Sugar levels, Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, Allergy Testing and Body Fat Ratios) Team building events Corporate Support (exhibitions, conferences, product launches) Osteopathic Assessment/Treatment Chiropractic Assessment/Treatment On-site Opticians, Posture Correction Classes, Workstation Seating Settings, and not forgetting on-site massage (Reflexology, Indian Head Massage, Reiki, Homeopathy, Physiotherapy, Sports Massage, Aromatherapy Massage, Thai Massage and others if required)
Hiren really is geared up to take care of his client’s physical and mental wellbeing and as he said to me, “prevention is better than cure”. So how does it all work, do you just call ASA Therapies and they send out one of their expert members of the team and they sort your people out? Well no actually. What Hiren does is a tailored solution to each company he works with. If you call him in he will come along and do a survey with your staff so as to identify what the best treatments for them may be. With this information he will come back to you with a proposed programme of treatments. He then will ask you for some base line figures that you can then use to measure the success of him doing the treatments against. He does all of this free of charge. Then he will run a 3 month trial period after which, provided you were happy, you would sign up to 6 month contracts at a time. Also when ASA Therapies come in to do every treatment, they ask each person to fill in a
“prevention is better than cure”
customer satisfaction survey, which is anonymous and the general results of the survey are fed back to the company. All of the treatments are carried out at your place of work, so you’re not losing time for your staff travelling to and from a treatment centre somewhere. Unless of course you choose the corporate support option. Imagine taking a stand at a trade exhibition and having ASA Therapies there giving free massages to visitors to your stand. How much more popular would your stand be and who will these visitors remember when they leave the exhibition. Hiren Patel is totally committed to the overall health and wellbeing of his clients. He is providing a first class service that many visionary leaders are grasping whole heartedly. So don’t rub your staff up the wrong way, Call Hiren from ASA!
Ask The Expert
Ask The Question
Business Coach Life Coach Commercial Solicitor Tax Accountant Humour Expert International Trade
Richard Dickinson Richard started out in his working life in the Navy, were he served for a number of years, travelling around the world learning some fantastic skills and meeting people from many different cultures. After leaving the navy, Richard entered the world of banking and finance, ending up in a role as East Midlands Region Development Manager for a high street bank. Richard then decided he was ready for another challenge, so he left the bank and set up his own national insurance brokerage, which he ran for 5 years, until selling the business in 2005. Given Richards extensive experience over the years in dealing with businesses and more importantly business people, Richard felt he would make a very good business coach. He then trained and was accredited by the Adler School of International Coaching and took on a franchise from Ology Coaching, which gives him the support of a multi national company, whilst at the same time still being able to give a local personal service to his clients. We are very pleased to have Richard on board and are sure you will benefit from his wisdom and experience.
Do Bad M Force W To Quit J A
t a time when there is huge pressure on every business and the challenges of keeping the best team members in highly competitive times only seem to get harder, this piece of research from CMI is a real concern... Almost half of workers have quit their jobs due to bad management, figures from Chartered Management Institute (CMI) reveal. Of the 3,000 workers surveyed, 50 per cent assert that they could do a better job than their current manager, while 49 per cent would be prepared to take a pay cut if it meant working with a better boss. Ruth Spellman, chief executive of the CMI, says: â€˜The figures reveal the depth of the crisis of confidence in UK management and leadership, and the enormous toll bad management is taking on the UK economy and peopleâ€™s wellbeing.â€™
visit the website at: www.ologybusiness.com/richarddickinson/ email your question to: email@example.com
In a separate survey of managers, two in five said they did not want the responsibility of managing people, while 63 per cent had received no management training. Of the 1,656 surveyed, only 28 per cent of managers said they held any type of formal management qualification.
Managers Workers Jobs? Adds Spellman:
‘It’s telling that the majority of individuals ever set out to manage people, and have not been trained to do so. If we’re going to stay competitive internationally, the government and employers need to address this worrying skills gap.’ How could you avoid this in your business? Here are some questions to reflect on and hopefully get some insight into avoiding this pitfall: • How does my staff view their managers... and me? • What would be the impact on my business of losing key people? • How could I equip my managers better to retain good staff? • What does it cost me to recruit and train new staff? • How do we tell our staff how much we value them? • Are my employees happy and motivated?
Successful businesses have loyal, motivated employees and their managers are in tune with the feelings, needs and challenges that their teams face. If you are concerned about any of the answers you come up with and feel this is an area that your business is at risk - or simply don’t know the answer, you should consider getting an independent assessment of the health of your team and their motivation.
Lisa Madariaga Lisa 4 Coaching Lisa is a life coach of some distinction. She is what you might call one of life’s achievers. Allow me to explain. Lisa is a qualified Barrister and a Chartered Accountant. She has worked around the world for both NYSE and FTSE 100 companies. Then one day, in November 2005, she collapsed in her London office. Not only was she unable to work, but could barely get out of bed for 5 months. As her health slowly improved, she was able to re evaluate her life. Lisa found that with her unique experiences of life, she was able to help others. She re trained and is now also qualified with the Institute of Leadership and Management, (ILM), as a life coach and executive business coach. Lisa is the founder and trainer of the Finance Coaching Academy of RSA, (formerly Royal and Sun Alliance). Soon to publish a self help book for people living with or recovering from ME, we are truly privileged to have Lisa contribute for us. So, don’t be shy, use this fantastic opportunity and ask Lisa some questions and don’t miss her articles, they may just change your life.
Mileston & Celeb T
ime seems to be flying by - already in March and Easter is well on its way. So, how are your 2010 goals and celebrations going? Do you remember how you saw yourself in November 2010? Where you wish to be, the areas of your life that you would like to improve and your circumstances of choice? As promised, this month I will be explaining how the bigger goals for the year can be broken down into achievable “chunks”. How the larger “I want to be a size 12” or “I want to be playing football every week” or “I want to be working from home and not having to commute into the office every morning” goals may be made smaller, attainable objectives which will help motivation and ensure we stick to our intentions. So, select one of your goals for detailed consideration. Whatever the goal is the gap between the reality of your current situation or status and where you want to be has to be identified. So, what is the gap? What are the changes that have to happen to allow the new situation to be in place? For example, if you wish to be a size 12 and you are now a size 16, then a loss of 2 dress sizes is required. If you wish to play football for a full 90 minutes by November, but you now take part in no sport at all, the gap is clear. If you work for an employer as a sales executive and you wish to be a self-employed sales consultant by November, the gap is to leave employed status and become self-employed.
visit the website at www.lisa4coaching.com
The next step is to plan actions which will ensure a “staged” completion of your goal. For example, we will use the loss of 2 dress sizes.
email your question to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Step 1 - Consider how the weight loss will be achieved - does a diet or exercise regime or both together appeal to you? Have you been successful
nes brations in the past at losing weight, if yes, how? Step 2 - Once the method has been decided on, then further ‘practicality’ questions are required, identification of barriers and plans to overcome them if faced. If you have chosen a diet, then do you have the food required? Can you afford the food? Where will you buy it? When will you go shopping? Will you have to cook separate food for your family or those you prepare meals for? Practically, what are the implications of your decision? Do you have a big party or holiday coming up that may lead to you breaking your diet? How will this make you feel? Will you stick to your diet regardless or will you give yourself some time off your diet and then return to it after the event has finished? Do you have the willpower to do this? These questions may appear tough, but if your prepared for barriers that will be encountered, you are far more likely to overcome them.
have “failed”. Once the event is over, then carry on with the diet, or the exercise regime you have begun.
Step 3 - As the potential barriers have been identified and planned for - we move on to the taking of action. Will you be attending a slimming club or completing your diet alone? Do you prefer a team approach being told what to do and when or are you a “go it alone” type? Depending on your personality, you may be more successful in your actions if you do join a club of some sort. So, once this is decided, which club? Will you go alone? Can you afford it? Where and when does the club meet? Can you make it on that night? When you are clear on when and where you will be attending, your first actions are set.
Step 2 - Identify and address any potential barriers to your success.
Step 4 - This will be the setting of the milestones themselves -the decision of losing how much weight by when. The decision may be made to lose 2 pounds a week. Planning ahead for when a holiday, or family meal may take place can often relieve anxiety and prevent you feeling that you
Step 5 - When you have your plan and a clear, documented plan of how you are going to achieve your overall goal, you can start celebrating as you complete each step - for example, after your first attendance at the slimming club, congratulate yourself! Celebrate with a manicure, or a treat of some sort (not necessarily an edible one!) and keep up this method of celebration and congratulations with every step. This planning method can be used for any goal Step 1 - Practical review of your own personality to review options and choose the best method for you.
Step 3 - Select your personal approach to overcome potential barriers Step 4 - Milestone setting Step 5 - Celebrate success as you continue to monitor your milestones. Good luck with applying the 5 steps above to any goal that you choose to focus on, now and in the future and success will be yours!
Buy To L A Pat Cobham Pat Cobham used to be a tax inspector. She has more than 30 years experience in accountancy. Mostly from the side of the inland revenue. Pat set up Cobhams tax consultants and accounts in 2004 and has not looked back since. With a no nonsense and plain English approach to accountancy, Cobhams is going from strength to strength. You not only get knowledgeable one-to-one advice, but you also get it at a fraction of the cost you would pay a large company. They even go that bit further and offer a one-to-one service out of hours should you require it. With background in the corporate world, they are better placed than most to help you with your corporation tax and whether you’re a sole trader, small business or established company, they will make sure everything is done quickly and efficiently to meet all HMRC deadlines.
visit the website at www.cobhams.co.uk email your question to: email@example.com
lot of people who have never rented property before have gone into the Buy to Let market for a number of reasons, not least because property is at an all time low and so it currently seems a good investment for the future. As there are a lot of first time investors in the market I thought I would do some notes regarding the taxation aspects of investment property. Rental income is of course taxable income. Do not think that if you do not advise HMRC that you have rental income HMRC will not find out. HMRC receives information from a number of sources in relation to property. A property purchase needs to be registered with the Land Registry and this is a matter of public record. In addition to this obvious source, local tax districts periodically receive details of those receiving Housing Benefit. HMRC also has access to publications such as Your Move and indeed have recently purchased the data base of Your Move. The message is clear, if you do not advise HMRC that you have taxable rental income then sooner or later they will catch up with you. If this happens then you not only have to pay the back taxes but also interest and penalties. In view of the above the message is clear - there is no hiding place. With this in mind let’s have a look at what you need to do and when you need to notify HMRC. If you already have to complete tax returns then the rental income needs to go on the return otherwise it is incomplete. If you do not have an accountant and complete your own tax returns then you will need to ask HMRC for the Land and Property pages in order to report rental income. If you don’t have to complete tax returns then you need to advise HMRC if you are making a taxable profit on the rental income. There is no need to notify HMRC if you are making losses on rental income which frequently happens in the first year or so. However, my advice to you would be to advise HMRC in any case when you start receiving rental income. The reason for this is that if you do not get tax returns it is quite easy to forget that you should be telling HMRC and people often find themselves in a situation where they should have notified HMRC a few years ago but have not. If this happens it is not the end of the world. If you realise that you should have told HMRC something and you haven’t, then the best thing to do is to make a voluntary disclosure. You will still have to pay tax,
Tax Accountant part 1
interest and also a penalty but the penalty will be substantially mitigated by the fact that you have gone to HMRC before they have discovered you. So you have got to the point where you have notified HMRC that you have rental income so what are the figures that you need to return? Obviously the gross rents need to be put on the Tax Return but you can claim certain expenses against the gross. The following are the most common types of expenses you would incur: 1. Repairs - Repairs are tax deductible, improvements are not. For example, replacement windows are classed as repairs but building an extension to the property is an improvement and is not tax deductible against rental income. However, if you undertake any improvements then you should keep a record together with invoices as they will become tax deductible when you come to sell the property. Some items which may be thought of as improvements e.g. replacement bathrooms, kitchens etc are actually classed as repairs provided that you are simply updating to modern standards. This can be a quite grey area so if you are unsure then consult your accountant or a tax specialist like myself. 2. Insurance - including contents insurance if the property is furnished. 3. Ground Rents 4. Management Charges If you use an agent to undertake the letting, repairs etc then the charges plus any VAT are tax deductible. 5. Maintenance - such as decorating, garden up keep etc. Please note that if you undertake this yourself you cannot claim a deduction for your own labour, only materials. Needless to say, you should keep any invoices for any workman you engage to undertake any maintenance or repair work. 6. Mortgage Interest Most Buy to Lets are bought on interest only mortgages so all repayments are tax deductible. However, if you have a capital repayment mortgage note that the capital element is not tax deductible only the interest element thus you could find yourself paying tax on money that you have not actually received.
7. Finance Charges This is something that people often miss. Raising a mortgage incurs fees whether arrangement fees, valuation fees etc. You can claim the cost of raising the finance against the gross rents. 8. Capital Allowances This is an allowance for items that you use for the management of the business. For example if you undertake the gardening then you can claim allowances on the lawnmower. If you collect the rents yourself and you need to visit the property on a regular basis then you may be able to claim a small allowance for your car. Note however that if you only have one or two properties the Revenue is likely to resist such a claim but if you have a number of properties and are actively involved in the management then such a claim would be acceptable. It is all a matter of degree. 9. Legal Fees Legal fees to purchase the property or to arrange the first lease are not tax deductible. However, if you incur any legals in, for example, lease renewals, getting a tenant out etc then again these can be set off against gross rents. 10. Council Tax, Utilities etc Generally speaking you will not be involved in paying out anything of this nature but you may have to if there is a void period. 11. Accountancy Fees If you have an accountant who draws up the rental accounts then fees including VAT are again tax deductible. Once you have claimed all the expenses to which you are entitled if there is still a net profit on the rents then this is added to your other income and taxed accordingly. The tax rate will depend on your total income. Unlike employment income, selfemployment etc there are no National Insurance Contributions on rental income. The expenses above relate to furnished and unfurnished lets. Next month I will look at a further allowance for furnished lets plus what happens with losses. I will also explain the tax when you come to sell the property.
Faux Pa “Putting Ones Stephanie Davies Director and Founder of Laughology, Stephanie Davies has over 10 years experience working in the public and private sector which has gained her an unsurpassed reputation for designing and delivering laughter and humour interventions for businesses, practitioners, clients, young people and adults. Stephanie is recognised as one of the UK’s leading voices in laughter and humour. She was recently invited by the University of Chester to develop and deliver the UK’s first MA course in Humour in the Workplace and will soon complete an MA on The Psychological Benefits of Laughter, Humour and Personal Growth. On leaving Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts in 2002 she began performing stand-up comedy, firing her fascination with the power of laughter and humour. After attending Dr Kataria’s Laughter Leader course Stephanie was accepted as a participant in world-renowned, Dr Patch Adams’s Health Care Intensive Training in the USA. She worked with Patch exploring the relationship between health, humour, community and the arts. On top of her busy training schedule, Stephanie is often asked to contribute to popular television programmes, such as Trisha, The Bank of Mum and Dad, BBC’s Heaven & Earth and ITV’s Stand-up Jenny. She is also a regular on BBC Radio
visit the website at www.laughology.co.uk email your question to: firstname.lastname@example.org
aux pas originating from French and translated literally means false step, more commonly known in English as having put ones foot in ones mouth. We’ve all done it and in many different ways and places; work, social occasions, when meeting someone for the first time. Many people believe that there is only one chance to make an impression and put pressure on themselves. It’s often that pressure that leads to mistakes and it’s good to remind ourselves that we do get a second, third and even fourth chance. Sometimes and it’s not the faux pas that always makes the impression it’s often how we deal with it afterwards. I have committed many faux pas in business and in my social life, unfortunately I do think it’s a family trait which I have come to terms with which has had its good uses in its time. For example it created plenty of stand-up material for me for years but on the other hand hasn’t been great for my social life or love life and perhaps my five year single status is due to my constant foot in mouth disease. It seems to happen more when I’m a little nervous and want to make a good impression which is when I revert to using my humour, or as it said on my school report so many times: “Stephanie uses her clowning skills to show off and distract the class from the task in hand.” My intensions are good and I am pleased to admit that my faux pas are often only minor blunders which are at my expense or not harmful and not major mistakes that I will define my career for ever more. We’ve all been there where we’ve commented on an outfit, asked a woman about her pregnancy when she’s not, made a joke in a serious meeting and the most common, forgotten a name at that
Foot In Ones mouth” crucial moment of introduction. We all have that person who we see on a regular basis and chat to them like a friend, though you pray you are never asked to introduce them to someone as you don’t know their name. I have an acquaintance in my gym I have known for three years and even have coffee with, her number stored in my phone as “gym”, as I don’t know her name and now it’s gone past the point of asking and I pray every day that I will find it out or someone will say it. So how do we deal effectively with a faux pas and turn it round to create a positive? 1 Show no fear, a blunder is made worse if you highlight the mistake with large gestures that identify it. The minute you realise you’ve committed a faux pas, which will be obvious by the stares, the awkward clearing of throats, the winces and even the pregnant silence, your first instinct will be to wince back, or return the silence joining the hanging and shaking of heads whilst avoiding eye contact. This first crucial moment after a faux pas often will determine your ‘comeback.’ Cut the tension right away by making reference to the blunder and apologise for the incident if necessary perhaps even being self depreciating about your social skills. Sometimes a smile does the trick. 2 After releasing the initial tension address the social wrong you’ve committed. Pretending you yourself didn’t notice it is almost as embarrassing as the social faux pas itself. Use an appropriate tone to rectify the situation. For example, if you called your boss the wrong name, apologise with a legitimate-sounding explanation and even making light of it can work if it’s appropriate.
3 Don’t hide or act meekly for the rest of the meeting, evening or event. If you keep your cool, engage in charming conversation and others will follow suit and move on quickly from the faux pas with you. If you act shy and bumbling the whole night, your behaviour will be a constant reminder to everyone else of your blunder and that’s what they will remember. 4 You’ve addressed the situation, behaved with dignity for the rest of the event, now forget about it. If you find yourself re-living the embarrassing moment, talk it over with friends who you know will help you make light of it and often time will help you laugh at it yourself. Allowing you to move forward and ensure it doesn’t happen again in the future. 5 Finally if you have forgotten a name my favourite trick is to ask “what’s your full name again” wait for them to tell you and then say “That’s it I wasn’t sure of your last name.” Hopefully this will work and they will say their first name too. Now the trick is remembering it! Shakespeare talked of humour as being Truth + tragedy with a little bit of time thrown in. Often a faux pas fits into this equation and if it was a mistake and something that wasn’t meant to hurt or cause intentional disruption others will see it this way too. Making mistakes is human and in pressurised situations when we are so desperate to make a good impression these mistakes are highlighted but if you can deal with it effectively it can be that mistake and how you deal with it that makes you stand out from the rest. So if you’re ever in that situation or find someone else who is remember “To err is human to forgive is divine.”
Busines I studied Law at Kings College, London and then went on to study as a barrister at the Inns of Court, London. I have approximately fourteen years of legal experience as a practitioner, ranging from practice as a qualified solicitor to working in house and a short time spent as a barrister (both in chambers and in house). The majority of that time has been spent practising as an IP/Commercial lawyer; dealing with both contentious and non contentious matters, with broad and varied experience. During the past four years I have been closely involved with business development, growth and management at Kirwans Solicitors, which has involved the launch and development of a new Commercial Department at the Liverpool office. Part of my remit has been to develop legal expertise in Intellectual Property and Information Technology and Communications. Throughout my time as a practitioner I have worked for many types of businesses, from blue chip companies through to small businesses and individuals. I have on occasions provided pro bono assistance and advice to creators of intellectual property varying from mechanical inventors, photographers, musicians, sculptors and the like. I am a founding member of the Liverpool Inventors Club which was set up in early 2007 in conjunction with Liverpool Library, NIPC Law and John Moores University; this involves monthly pro bono sessions whereupon free advice and assistance is given to local inventors and creators.
visit the website at www.kirwanssolicitors.co.uk email your questions to: email@example.com
Social Ne Can Serio Damage Y M
any more businesses are becoming embroiled in defamation claims regarding the use of social networking sites following the rise in the use of Twitter, Facebook and also blogging. Employees frequently use these sites on a daily basis and sometimes during work hours and by using their employerâ€™s pcâ€™s to publish stories and photos, which are then sent around the world. They are then viewed by a significant number of recipients and may also be edited by unknown sources and forwarded on. Significant harm can result from such messages with stories regarding extra-marital affairs and criminal behaviour being just two types of messages to be posted on the net. It is therefore essential to have in place an Internet Policy and to ensure that this forms part of the Employees handbook and terms and conditions. A responsible Employer should make sure the ground rules on use of office equipment are clearly set out and that measures can be put in place to monitor
etworking ously Your Business usage of the internet where circumstances dictate. An Employer will potentially be vicariously responsible for wrong usage and any harm and damage that such use may cause to a third party, whether a business competitor, third party or even another employee. Furthermore, the reputation of a business can be placed on the line, with false accusations made about the quality of a competitorâ€™s products or services, which in certain cases enter the social media network and quickly cause an untold amount of damage to a business, which may be irreversible. If you or your business have been a victim of such fabricated or exaggerated tales then you should endeavour to take action immediately in order to remove the offending comments so as to: a) limit the damage to your business reputation; and b) ensure that such disparaging commentary is not repeated again by either the author of the offending comments or any other third party.
A letter from a Solicitor may do the trick in bringing matters to an end, alternatively you may need to consider bringing a legal action against the author of the message and also the web host (ISP), so that your reputation or that of your business is protected and with the aim of securing suitable remedies such as an apology and/ or damages. Once the ISP has been given notice then they will usually remove the content for fear of becoming liable for the content itself. If they fail to remove then a cause of action can be maintained against the ISP and the author. If your in any doubt about either your rights or if you have been a victim, speak to a solicitor who has experience in advising on all types of libel and malicious falsehood claims. Also be well aware of the power of the Internet and the need to act swiftly where there is real damage being caused to your reputation or that of your business.
Market V Alan Taylor Alan’s early career was in IT (when this included punch cards and paper tape). He quickly moved from programming into analysis which gave him the opportunity in the mid-1980’s to work for an insurance company in the Bahamas. This gave Alan the bug for travelling and he has managed to cover five continents to date on his travels, South America still eludes him. His career in IT eventually developed into project & business change management and Alan has been involved in a number of large projects of this type. This lead him and his business partner to set up their first business together, a business change consultancy (PSI), in 1993. PSI initially grew in the UK & South East Asia and, once acquired by a FTSE-quoted parent, it subsequently expanded to forty-five people across five continents. He has now been developing businesses both in the UK and Internationally for over sixteen years. During this time he has built a global network of contacts including senior level decision makers. As a seasoned professional Alan is able to help a business to focus on the definition and delivery of its development strategy, ensuring drive & momentum are maintained to achieve the company’s strategic goals. This is non more evident than in his passion for international business development where Alan is able to leverage his global network of contacts to generate significant business development opportunities. An adaptable character, with a pragmatic approach, Alan has an open (if determined) mind and the ability to make a significant contribution to a team delivering a product or service to a clearly defined market. Alan lives on Merseyside with his wife and two children and has recently returned to university part-time where he is studying for a Qualifying LLB Law. Of all of the places he has visited San Francisco (and nearby Sausalito) and Singapore remain his favourites.
visit the website at www.ttnp.co.uk email your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
riday 22nd January and I am joining a UKTIsponsored market visit to South East Asia starting in KL and moving on to Singapore. A full working week in the region, a number of meetings planned and returning to the UK on 1st February. I applied in November, attended a pre-departure briefing on 8th December in Manchester, and was awarded a grant of £860 towards my travel costs. Another option had been a subsidised businessclass flight but I have decided to fly economy and put the rest towards my living expenses. I have chosen to fly Emirates via Dubai, one of the many route options. The flights take around seven hours to Dubai and another seven hours from Dubai to KL. The time on the ground in Dubai is just over two hours. The flight cost me around £520 which leaves c.£340 towards other expenses. The ticket also allows me to fly back from Singapore which means I only have to travel between KL and Singapore. I arrive into KL on Saturday afternoon. KL International Airport (KLIA) is 30 miles south of KL but the KLIA Express only takes half an hour to KL central station. An adult return ticket costs 70 Ringgits (around £13).
Visit ‘Malaysia & Singapore’
It is then a short taxi ride to my hotel, The Impiana, close to KL City Centre (KLCC) and in sight of the famous Petronas Towers (think Catherine ZitaJones in ‘Entrapment’). The Impiana is new to me and turns out to be a good choice. The main group are staying in the Mandarin Oriental but my hotel is cheaper. This is one of the advantages of the visit. Although there are some pre-organised events there is freedom to make your own arrangements. The Impiana is only be a three minute walk away so there is no problem meeting up with the group when necessary (e.g. for some ‘liquid networking’). KL is a modern city. Traffic can be a nightmare but there are underground and monorail lines (there is an underground station at KLCC which I end up using often). I have and do use taxis but have found it important to either ask for a fare up front or insist on the use of the meter. The city has a ‘seven days a week’ feel and I have arranged at least one appointment on the Sunday. Meeting in one of the many coffee-shops (Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, etc.) or one of the many hotels is perfectly acceptable.
At approximately 5.4 Ringgits to the Pound many things are cheaper than the UK. I start my meetings with dinner with one of my contacts in KL. We decide on Thai Food (there is a multitude of choice) and the Tom Yam Kung soup turns out to be one of the hottest I have ever tasted. Arriving in the mid afternoon has allowed me to settle in to my hotel, have a business dinner and then catch a good night’s sleep. One meeting on the Sunday, a pre-arranged event in the evening, and I spend part of the day on paperwork. KL has a facility called ‘wireless@KL’ which offers free wireless internet access in many venues once you have registered. The evening event is dinner in one of the High Commission residences and includes a briefing on opportunities for UK companies in Malaysia. It is also a chance to talk to the other companies on the visit which include organisations from higher education, manufacturing and the service sector. Monday brings temperatures approaching 90o and a number of pre-arranged meetings. A meeting with one of the government departments points
me to another and they helpfully set up a meeting for the next day. I find my contacts friendly, courteous and eager to engage with UK companies. The Monday evening event is the launch of the Manchester Business Club, aiming to promote international links with Manchester (KL and Singapore are two of the launch cities). The event is held in the courtyard of the High Commission, a very impressive venue. It hosts a multitude of events throughout the year promoting UK business. Although I would like to live in such a beautiful house, I am not sure I would take to the thousands of people tramping through it annually! The event is a success with a number of local businesses attending. I have arranged my own meetings for Tuesday but I could have used UKTI’s OMIS (Overseas Market Introduction Service) to set up meetings on my behalf. Travelling from KL to Singapore on Wednesday is a one-hour flight and I have chosen Singapore Airlines but there are a number of alternatives, the cheapest being Air Asia (think ‘EasyJet’) which departs from the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) (not as easy to get to as KLIA itself). A taxi from Changi Airport has me in The Rendezvous Hotel for lunchtime, another new hotel for me, chosen partly because it is cheaper than the Mandarin Oriental but mainly because of its central location and proximity to Dhoby Ghaut MRT (underground) station. After free breakfasts, internet access & water, a large room and a desk for working, the small room and extra charges for everything (including £12/ day for internet access) is a disappointment. Singapore is another modern city. At approximately 2.25 Singapore Dollars to the Pound it is not as cheap as KL but items such as MRT travel and some food options are reasonable. Again Singapore is very UK-business friendly and I have a number of meetings planned. An event is planned for Wednesday evening (this time dinner and a briefing on the Singapore market) held in one of the High Commission residences (also an impressive venue which has some 10,000 people passing through its doors each year). Venues like this can be booked by UK companies for meetings and events and offer something different
to the usual option of a hotel. You also get the support of the High Commission staff which can add a certain kudos. Thursday and Friday are spent in meetings. In between I catch up on work using the local ‘wireless@SG’ facility which again offers free wireless internet access in many places (once registered). Singapore’s pre-dates KL’s version and it makes me wonder how my hotel can justify charging when I can spend less on an iced coffee mocha and surf for free. I submit my UK VAT return while eating breakfast! An informal dinner on Friday ends the week and people are starting to make their way back to the UK. I have decided to stay until Monday. My flights back start at 9.40 am from Singapore to Dubai , the next flight from Dubai to Manchester arrives in on Monday evening. The grant support helped to make this visit happen and the organised parts of it did not impinge on my arrangements. The briefings were useful and the events gave opportunities to network with the group and local attendees. Would I go on another such visit? Definitely, and a huge ‘Thank You’ to Philomena Chen and her team at UKTI North West for arranging this visit. I notice the next one is to Mumbai & Delhi (15th to 21st February). Now there’s a thought............... Many thanks to Nathalie Cachet-gaujard of UCLAN for permission to use her pictures
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Horlock Horticulture “working on world renowned vineyards like Wolf Blass in Adelaide South Australia, has built a bedrock of knowledge”
have to be completely honest with you, I hate gardening. In fact I break out in a cold sweat if anyone even mentions it. I couldn’t think of anything worse than kneeling on the cold wet grass on a chilly day pulling weeds and getting my hands dirty. I have attempted to do this on many occasions as my farther is a keen Gardner and has always tried to get myself and my sibling to be as passionate as he. Much to his dismay he is yet to convert these fingers green. Now I’m sure there are plenty of you who can relate to this, but that’s not to say I don’t enjoy the garden. I love nothing better than to sit in beautiful gardens with freshly cut grass and an array of colours, shapes textures and smells. Even on crisp winters days I will sit in my garden at every given chance. Now if you, like I, consider your garden to be an extension of your house, yet can’t just pull a duster and Hoover onto it like all the other rooms, what do you do? Well luckily there is an option.
Gareth Horlock from Horlock Horticulture loves foraging about in gardens, in fact it’s his passion. Even as a boy he was helping his grandfather in his vegetable patch, planting carrots and picking beans. Gareth’s Grandfather himself owned a farm in Cambridgeshire, before taking the ten pound pomme ticket over to Australia with Gareth’s mum and aunts. It’s safe to say it’s in his blood. Over the years his enthusiasm for gardening and the great outdoors hasn’t waned. Doing his relatives gardens and working on world renowned vineyards like Wolf Blass in Adelaide South Australia, has built a bedrock of knowledge on which he draws on to this day to offer a unique, well rounded service. Although his lifestyle down under was more than comfortable, it was a trip to the UK
that changed his direction completely. In 2005, Gareth ventured on to Liverpool ground, whilst on a 3 month European trip, and hasn’t looked back since. His love for Liverpool is clear, and If he wasn’t gardening, he would be working somewhere in the city centre, telling the thousands of tourists all about the city from his immense knowledge of Liverpool. His ties with Liverpool go even further than 2005 and along with being a massive Beatles fan, supporting LFC and loving its architecture, his grandfather was actually based in Bootle during World War 2. “My Grandfather would tell me great stories about the Scouse humour when I was young, and how out of all the ports he had visited, the ladies in Liverpool where by far the prettiest. It was a dead cert I was going to visit after those tales!” Jack still talks about Liverpool with such fond memories of
his time there, and even now at aged 89, still remembers the fantastic camaraderie that existed at such an uncertain time”. Gareth finally made the move in July 2006, and settled in Allerton, south Liverpool. There he began to learn more about the Flora and fauna of our city and surrounding areas. “Most of my friends thought I was barmy, I would be outside whenever possible, come rain, sleet, or snow. It was such a refreshing change from the intense heat I was used to”. Gareth soon got into the swing of things and in no time at all had a portfolio of residential customers. What Gareth offers today is a complete gardening service. From full landscaping, to a few weeds being removed from your front border. Residential as well as commercial properties
and block management buildings. “You don’t want someone just rocking up, mowing the lawn and getting off. What about the borders, hard surfaces, shrubs, tree overhang, tree pollarding, cornicing, crown lifting and crown reduction, the flower beds, pots, vegetable plots, leaf clearance and litter picked…..” I was at this point feeling exhausted just thinking about all that is needed to keep your garden looking great. Finding a good Gardner like Gareth, who is not only reasonable with his prices, but very hard working, isn’t always an easy task. Once you have spoken to him, it becomes clear just how passionate he really is about his job. Gareth feels it is of the utmost importance to build a trusting relationship between him and his customers.
Gareth offers a wealth of plant knowledge. What works for your garden in relation to size, available sunlight, budget, colour, scent, form, function and eco friendly flora which encourages wildlife to your backyard. Varied to your taste, and all positioned in your garden to offer maximum impact and enjoyment. Some of the Services available are: planting, turf, hedge cutting, pruning, grass cutting weeding, tree trimming, stump removal, shrub beds and rockeries, grounds clearances, full landscaping, fencing and decking, patios and paving, pebble gardens, water features, wild flowers, perennials and evergreens. After a decade of “ground force” lovers, who decided to rip out there gardens and either flag, or deck them with the odd potted plant scattered about, where has this left us? To a degree, this was a sad time for gardens and not to mention the local wildlife. These cheap “low maintenance” effective gardens left our outside space baron and clinical, crying out for some turf or perennials. Impervious surfaces are becoming an ever increasing problem globally. What once was a natural drainage system through our lawns, now has decking and flags scattered across. According to an American scientist, runoff from an acre of pavement is about 10–20 times greater than the runoff from an acre of grass. This can often be associated with devastating floods, which in turn host their own environmental hazards. Gareth is keen to get back to basics with our gardens and educate people just how low maintenance outdoor space can be. Advocating wild flower area’s in your garden to help wildlife is crucial. Only recently it has come to light that our bee’s insects and other native fauna are struggling with our ever changing landscape. This is sadly having a detrimental effect, not only with the birds and the bees, but also with our own future. Hanging baskets, pots and window boxes are just as effective as your bigger gardens, so don’t worry about space. With the right choice for you and your lifestyle, anyone can have a thriving cultivated area on their door step, no matter how big or small. I have to say that after talking to Gareth, I have been inspired to do something myself. Your outdoor space shouldn’t be neglected as an area for the bins and a rusty bike. It should be embraced as an extra room to encourage nature or your kids to get off their PS3. Have a go and if you dare get your hands dirty, if you’re worried call Gareth and he’ll be able to help.
Co-Founder - Matthias Henze
Q&A With Matthias Henze T
he days when you needed to be an HTML expert to create a website are over. Thanks to companies like Google or Yahoo!, even smaller businesses took conscience that the web was a powerful marketing tool which they had to learn to master, and individuals started seeking what is now known as “web presence”. Today, there are literally hundreds of services that try to penetrate the easy website creation market, but only few stand out like Jimdo, founded by a talented trio of European individuals. Matthias Henze, one of them, is now responsible for marketing and distribution at the Hamburg-based company. He graciously accepted an interview: TechHaze: Mr. Henze, some of our readers may not know what Jimdo is all about. Could you briefly describe the services offered, as well as give us a snapshot of the company’s current situation? How has your business scope evolved since United Internet, the leading German ISP, took 30% stake in Jimdo? Matthias Henze: Jimdo is a free online website creator which allows users to create a great-looking website without any special computer skills. What really separates Jimdo from the pack is how easy it is to use and how professional the created websites look. We started Jimdo in February 2007, have over 1 Million users, and are doubling our userbase every 6 months. Jimdo is available in 8 languages and we see the growth from all parts of the world.
TH: You graduated from German and Swedish universities and obtained a degree in business. How did this lead you to the creation of Northclick, and how did Northclick lead you to the creation of Jimdo? MH: I met Fridtjof through his brother with whom I studied together. Fridtjof at that time was 20 and had already co-founded a web-design agency with Christian. Their agency was doing well but they were looking for a unique product. In fall 2003 they developed a concept for easy content management, saw the potential, and were looking for a business guy. That’s when I jumped in. I had just graduated from university and couldn’t picture myself at a consulting firm or a big corporation, so I was more than happy to join. In early 2004 we went live with NorthClick and targeted SMBs in Germany with our easy-to-use content management system. Soon more and more of our friends asked us whether they could use our service for their personal websites. That’s when we recognized the huge potential for personal use and for very small businesses – and decided to launch Jimdo. TH: How do you cope with immensely popular products like Wordpress or Weebly, and on Macintosh, iWeb? Is there any Jimdo-specific feature that differentiates your product from the competition? MH: I don’t think that you can break it down to a single feature. It’s the constant focus on permanent innovation, internationalizing the service and
great customer support. Keeping the innovation speed high is quite a challenge when your service is growing quickly – you have to additionally focus on the infrastructure to keep the service running. For us in particular, we also had to manage the integration of Jimdo into the 1&1 infrastructure. However, I think we’ve managed well and we even expect to increaase our innovation pace in 2010. When it comes to internationalization – if you’re a start-up from a non-English speaking country but are aiming for the worldwide market you have to offer English as a language right from the get-go. That’s at least what we did and we thought, if we set up the process then we might as well add other languages too. I do think we’ve established a good knowledge of how to launch and manage different language versions of the service. And of course good customer support is always important. TH: One of Jimdo’s most impressive feature is the ability to copy another website’s design. Some may find this incredibly useful, others may say it facilitates design theft. How do you respond to this? MH: We developed this feature mainly for our SMB-users who should be able to hire a local webdesigner to create a custom design for them and
implement it in Jimdo. And that’s actually how it’s used. The results are great and the graphic flexibility of Jimdo comes to light. The feature indeed could also be used to copy a design of any website – but in fact there has not been any design theft reported to us since we introduced the feature in fall 2007. TH: WYSIWYG editors are often accused of producing poor results. However, during our short test run of Jimdo, we found the results very impressive. What technologies did you develop to make this possible? MH: We developed Jimdo ourselves – and it is mainly based on PHP. TH: Jimdo is more successful than Weebly worldwide, but has a weaker market penetration in the United States. That seems strange in an industry where distance practically doesn’t matter. How do you explain this? MH: That’s a good question. Probably, one reason is that the US in one of many countries we’re targeting whereas our competition is mainly focusing on their US home market. And in addition, although
distance doesn’t matter as much as it used to, it still does matter. We know our tasks for the US and that’s why we expect to get stronger in the US, too. TH: How do you see Jimdo’s future? MH: It feels like we have just started out with Jimdo. We’re really proud on what we’ve achieved so far but there’re so many chances and challenges ahead of us. So we’re really looking forward towards what’s still to come. TH: On a personal level, are you Mac or PC? MH: Mac. TH: Jimdo is an incredible success story. Do you have any advice for young companies starting up small, but aiming high? MH: There’s a new startup movement in the US, called Lean Startup. The theory behind it is to focus on the product-market fit before you think of rolling out the product to the masses. In my opinion, this is very relevant to all entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting a company. If you’re interested in this theory, I can recommend the blogs of Sean Ellis, Eric Ries, and Steve Blank. TH: Mr. Henze, thank you very much for your time! By Florian Wardell
Sleep Cycle Sleep, for some people, is luxury. When you’re a student, a blog writer, a guitar player in a band and a web designer (yes, me), every minute your eyes are closed is precious. The student part is especially sleep-depriving: not only do you spend nights learning for tests or writing papers (well, when you’re not on Facebook), but you have to get up the next morning to attend classes. Also, if you’re in a uni where attendance is not compulsory, you’ll just sleep all day and end up jet-lagged and have a hard time recovering. While certain aspects of sleep may still be a little mysterious to scientists, we know that we go through two main stages during the night. The most important one is REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, during which – you guessed it – the eyes move rapidly, and your dreams are the most memorable. An average adult spends 90–120 minutes of a night’s sleep in the REM stages, which tend to be quite short and interrupted by Non-REM sleep, which are light to deep sleep phases. As a rule of thumb, the lighter your sleep, the easier your waking will be. Have you ever woken up feeling completely wrecked when the alarm clock goes off, despite the fact that you have slept “enough” hours? When this happens you have probably been awakened during a deep sleep phase, and your whole day can turn into one long zombie marathon.
If only there was a way to monitor your sleep, and to be woken up only during the lightest stages! But oh wait! As it turns out, there is an app for that. Meet Sleep Cycle, the iPhone application that will change your life – it certainly has changed mine. How does it work? Sleep Cycle requires you to put your iPhone, face down, on your bed. It will monitor your sleep by sensing your movements, which tend to change according to the sleep stage you’re in thanks to the accelerometer. Before you go to sleep, just select a wake up time margin of ±15 minutes, and the app will wake you up during the lightest sleep phase in that 30 minutes window. Are you suspicious? Another voodoo, too good to be true app? Another “nude scanner“, “hand warmer” or “air blower” app? That’s what I was thinking, until I tried it.
Normal sleep I have been using the app for two weeks now, and it really blew me away. For my first test run, I chose a very ordinary situation: going to sleep at 00AM, waking up at 7AM. With a normal alarm, my chances of being tired at wake up would be about 50/50, because I usually need about 7 hours of sleep, but then again it depends which phase I’m in when the alarm goes off. This time, waking up was extremely smooth. The music started playing (there’s a beautiful selection of sounds available, most of them are very peaceful and relaxing, and some are actually very nice instrumental pieces I’d be interested in listening to outside of the app’s context), and as soon as it was loud enough for me to hear, I woke up, fresh as a daisy. Very good performance of Sleep Cycle so far, but then again it may just have been luck. Thankfully, the app also draws a graph of your sleep for you to inspect upon waking up. This feature alone would be enough for a dedicated app!
Sleep under influence For my second night with Sleep Cycle, I decided to go though on the app – and myself. I went to sleep at 1AM again, but decided to wake up at 5AM. Only 4 hours of sleep would normally ruin my day, but how well did Sleep Cycle calculate my wake up time? Pretty well. It wasn’t the most pleasant morning of my life (it was still nighttime, which can have quite a psychological impact), but I wasn’t exhausted, and I was able to get to work normally, after a good breakfast. After a week with the app, I decided to put it to the ultimate test. After a concert, lots of alcohol and a sleep-deprived night before that, I was truly dead – ready to sleep 15 hours non-stop. In the midst of all the blurriness and craziness, I had a last thought for my beloved TechHaze readers before going to sleep and did not forget to set up Sleep Cycle for a relatively short 8hour sleep. I won’t lie, waking up wasn’t a pleasure, but after all, I did wake up, which is not a given in this kind of situations, and most of the discomfort was due to the hangover, not so much exhaustion. Verdict I can’t live without Sleep Cycle anymore. What surprised me most was that the app actually worked as advertised. I don’t know if it’s some kind of placebo effect, but I don’t care, because it works! The UI is well designed, the instructions are clear. There’s even a test screen which will help you find the optimal position in your bed: just lie down, and as soon as you roll-over, the phone should beep. The music that’s shipped with the app is really nice, the app is easy to use and it makes your life easier, what else do you want? Oh well, a few things. Because the app has to be running, and because the iPhone OS doesn’t support multitasking, you won’t be able to run the
iPod app while falling asleep. Sure, there’s a walkaround, but a built-in function would be a nice plus. Because the app is constantly running, you’ll have to plug your iPhone in all the time, which limits the range of possible locations in your bed because of outlet proximity (or lack thereof). It would be nice if one could choose custom music from the iPhone library to wake up to, or a broader (or more restricted) time window for the wake up time. Oh, and too bad the app doesn’t (officially) support the iPod touch, but this is due to Apple’s limitations. But from what I’ve read on the developer’s website, some of these features are already being worked on for a future update, which is great. This app will cost you 0.99$ and now has fixed spot on my iPhone. Bonne nuit. By Florian Wardell
Tell us what you’d like to have reviewed next month by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or us the contact us form on the website.
was once told by a business coach friend of mine that 80% of the problems you have in any business have got hair on their head! I have been in business for 25 years now and I have to say that unfortunately I tend to agree. The problem for me, I think, is that I like people and I believe what they tell me. This means that if I am interviewing people for a job, I try to ask relevant and probing questions, I try to be objective, but in my head I’m thinking, aren’t they nice, offer them the job now, or even worse, I don’t think they can do this at all, they seem pretty useless, maybe they just need a break, offer them the job now. The result is that I have had some real, how do I put this, NUTTERS work for me. Allow me to give you a couple of examples... I’ve employed a raging alcoholic as an installation engineer who on his first week on the job drilled a whole straight through a £140,000 flat roof so he could poke a cable through, obviously not thinking that if it will fit a cable through it will also let water through. Upon realising his mistake he immediately decided that the best course of action was to say nothing about it, go the pub and wait for the rain to come in and ruin the ceiling below it. On the next job, (no I didn’t sack him), he turned up in the morning drunk, went to the pub at lunch time, put up wonky cables all over the property and crashed
the van in the afternoon. I didn’t sack him then either. I eventually sacked him after he was given an emergency call out job at 8am and I ended up waking him up at 2pm still drunk. Another guy took 25 separate days off out of 30 working days, using excuses like, I had to wait in for a letter and my Nan’s dog has gone mad and I had to go and hold it to stop it attacking her, (which took him all day). Bear in mind that this guy had been given a final written warning for unauthorised absences just before this period and when he was sacked, threatened to take the company to court for unfair dismissal whilst at the same time telephoned daily to threaten other members of staff. To be fair, after a couple of weeks he did apologise, 4 hrs before I received a telephone call from another company for a reference for him. I have taken on a young lady to do telephone sales who when asked to pick up the phone for the first time said she was going to the toilet and literally ran down the street crying, we never saw her again. You get the picture, I’ve actually left out the worst ones. It’s a big thing to employ people. There’s a lot to it. People are usually the biggest expense a business has, so to get it wrong is extremely costly, believe me I know. Thankfully there is help out there, and expert help at that……..
Elaine Courtney, owner of Courtney Consultancy, is passionate about HR and employment law. I know, weird isn’t it? To be honest I don’t know how she finds the time. You know every so often you meet someone who just seems to achieve twice as much as anyone else in the same time. I recently had the privilege to sit down and chat with Elaine who is a voluntary director of Enable, which is part of the Sirolli initiative, enabling enterprise in the local community. She is also an official NWDA Women’s Enterprise Ambassador and a voluntary mentor for the NWDA Mentoring Programme. She recently established Sefton Business Network and is a member of the North Liverpool Business Forum and was a finalist in December 2009 for the Women in Business Networker of the year. Courtney Consultancy was recently selected by Business Link as a prime example of a business that has succeeded in its 1st year despite facing barriers and overcoming them, becoming stronger as a result. The Liverpool Daily Post ran a story on this and Business Link created a case study document on Courtney Consultancy. Wow, I told you didn’t I. Elaine originally started Courtney Recruitment in April 2007, but as the recession hit and more importantly, a family bereavement, Elaine needed to take a little time out, but not for long. In mid 2008 she was back and re launched as Courtney Consultancy. Elaine’s background is in sales and recruitment. She is qualified with the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development and has a keen interest in employment law. Over the years in the industry she has been able to hone a finely tuned interview technique which has proved extremely valuable to her customers. In fact Elaine started her business with just one big client, (Blue Orchid), and she has grown from there. When Elaine was brought in to Blue Orchid they had 14 staff, but plans to grow rapidly. Elaine has been able to grow that up to almost 100 staff, with almost no turnover of people and is responsible for all of their HR. When a position there arises Elaine writes the job spec, the person spec, advertises the position, deals with the applications, does initial telephone interviews, then face to face interviews, before finally she will propose someone to Blue Orchid. It’s this diligence and expertise that keeps her clients loyal to her business. One thing Elaine is keen to point out is that she is not a recruitment agency. “The ethics of the whole thing just doesn’t sit well with me, you can often find people putting square pegs into round holes in order to get paid”. Elaine doesn’t work that way. She will agree a fee or an hourly or daily rate with a client and then simply go and do the best possible job for them. Also she offers many more services than simply recruitment. As Elaine puts it, she is there for the full life cycle of a member of staff. After substantial research she has found that there are 4 main areas that people struggle with.
1 Bringing people into your business. This involves all of the previously mentioned processes up to the 2nd round interview, which Elaine usually drops out of, although can do it with the client if required. She then picks up again with a verbal offer, a written offer letter, contract of employment, creation of their personnel file and can also create an induction process and check a person’s eligibility to work in the UK. 2 Helping you deal with staff you already have. This would involve sorting out your HR policies, maternity leave, sick pay, etc. 3 Staff as they go. This is dealing with things like staff leave, sacking people, retirement, redundancy, resignations and disciplinary / grievances. 4 Training For this Elaine has developed a number of courses so business owners / managers can deal with their own HR requirements, negating the need to outsource them. There are 4 courses available at the moment, but more will be added on an on going basis. The 4 current courses are; Employing your first member of staff – How to set yourself up as an employer. Company policies and records – Do you know what you should have. Review and appraisal process. Disciplinary procedures, disputes and grievances. Many people don’t realise just what is involved in employing staff. For a start, employment law changes every 6 months. Usually you find that a small company will give the HR role to an existing member of staff as part of their overall role, so having someone like Elaine on hand, either at the end of the phone, or face to face often makes all the difference. Elaine believes that companies just don’t put enough emphasis on their HR and it can make a huge difference. Elaine herself became an employer in late 2009 when she took on Jess, her first member of staff. She has now moved into new premises to enable further growth, (this was essential as all of Elaine’s business so far has come from word of mouth recommendations and she say’s 2010 is all about bringing in new clients) and has taken her second member of staff, with a third to follow shortly. Besides her business going from strength to strength and apparently fitting 2 days work into every day, Elaine is also very excited about fostering Courtney, the Fairy Mankey Monkey, on show at Mankey Monkey HQ.
make sure youâ€™re as
fresh as a dais
when you go networkin this spring
WORKING IN ASSOCIATION WITH
An Insigt into networking with Liverpool Chamber of Commerce February Networking in pictures
etworking In The City Business Networking
Please send your pictures to email@example.com
GUESTS CELEBRATE FASHION WEEK AT BLANKSTONE OPTICIANS More than 40 guests from around the city headed to Blankstone Opticians in Derby Square last night for a very special fashion showcase.
Suzy Gorman and Shanie Wignall from Ollie
As celebrities and dedicated followers of fashion have been heading to London Fashion Week, director Mark Blankstone and his team decided to showcase a selection of key summer pieces from designer collections including Chanel, Prada and Ray-Ban. Guests and valued customers were treated to glasses of pink champagne while enjoying delicious canapĂŠs from Tithebarn Street gastropub The James Monro.
Phil May from Myo, Alex Frech from Black and from Blankstone Opticians
e and Darsh
d Ginger and Mark Blankstone
Jenny Morris from The Liverpool Magazine with model Bernadette McBride and Nicola Rowlands from Ubiquity pr
Lucy Bury from Luxottica with Mark Blankstone and Jess Ronan from The James Monro
Rebecca Sandford Parker from Ubiquity pr with Lucy Shotter from DLIB
etworking In The City Business Networking
etworking In The City Business Networking
etworking In The City Business Networking
Business for Breakfast is a business club whose key aim is to help its members significantly grow their businesses through relationship marketing and the passing of qualified referrals. We run fortnightly meetings at locations in Liverpool and Wirral. Business for Breakfast only allows one person per industry sector to join a forum. This effectively prevents any of your competitors from participating - so all the referral business for your particular industry is yours. Why not take a look at the opportunities and benefits that your Business for Breakfast membership offers?
Business For Breakfast
Benefits of Business Networking It is the most cost effective way of attracting new clients and generating new orders. It provides you with invaluable contacts that gives your company a dramatic boost, regardless of size or turnover. It frees up your time, reduces your overheads and opens doors to great success. Guest Membership We welcome guest members regularly to our meetings. It is the perfect opportunity to come along to chat to our members and listen to their real experiences. It only costs ÂŁ10 to come along and we usually indulge in a great breakfast to start the day!! Find out more about events and venues or please visit
he Liverpool Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its 160th anniversary this year. It was officially formed in 1850, however, as a result of some recent research it has been discovered that it was actually started in 1774, which at 216 years old makes it the 2nd oldest chamber in the country. The funny thing is, the primary reason for its formation is not only still relevant today, but it seems more relevant than ever, networking. Initially the chamber members were primarily merchants, in fact one of the founding members was Josiah Wedgwood, (of the pottery manufacturing fame), who used the port of Liverpool to ship his Wedgwood pottery around the world. Actually there are many parallels with problems that the original groups of members faced that are strangely similar to today. Much of the networking was coffee house networking and the merchants appeared to be having real problems with debts from the states. It was perhaps for this reason that the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce also branched out a little and took on the role as a lobbying group. The Liverpool Chamber has seen this city go through so many changes in its history. Through huge stages of prosperity and also huge decline. There are so many stories that the chamber could tell about the history of this city that they are actually producing a book, which will be available towards the end of the year. So what is the Chamber of Commerce now? What is there role, who owns it, is it government run? There does seem to be quite a bit of confusion around the answers to these questions, so allow me to attempt to shed a little light. The Liverpool
Chamber of Commerce is a private not for profit company. It is run just like any other business and whilst it has links with local and national government, these are simply for representation purposes, so they are able to lobby on behalf of the local business community. Its primary function is exactly the same as it was in 1774, as a networking organisation. In fact this year they are organising a monumental 150 events. Thatâ€™s an average of 3 every week. And did you know that even as a non member of the chamber, you can usually go along to these events too.
The Liverpool Chamber of Commerce currently has around 1800 members, although they actually speak to around 6000 businesses every week. As part of their membership in the National Chamber, they are required to carry out a quarterly economic survey, (QES), which more than 20% of the membership take part in. This gives great local information and when collated with all of the other chambers around the country, an invaluable national picture about the state of the business community. In fact the Governor of The Bank of England reads the report every quarter and has actually changed interest rates based on the information it gave him. Another role that the chamber now fills is that of funding provider. They work with various funding bodies and allocate some of that funding out to businesses that apply. They have a 5 star accreditation for international trade, working with companies like UKTI, who again can provide funding to encourage trade around the world. They are also a training provider for things like apprenticeships and various up skilling programmes. They are also running the Future Jobs programme, were people who have been long term unemployed and are between the ages of 18 and 25 can be employed by a business and their salary is paid by the fund for 6 months. So what does the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce have in store for the future? Well you can be sure there are lots more networking and some innovative ideas too. Things like Area 0151. This is a networking event inspired by Area 51 in the desert around Las Vegas. The idea is that they will arrange networking events in places you would traditionally not be allowed to go. For example a networking event actually held on the stage at the Echo Arena and another one in HM Prison, Altcourse, a kind of locked in for networking. Another great idea which they are starting on 17th March is Netwalking. This will be a lunchtime guided tour of some of the historic buildings in the centre. The first walk will be around Castle Street which will include light refreshments in the Town Hall. They are also doing some industry specific networking events, but these are not about other people attending and selling in to that industry, it is about people from the same industry networking and seeing how they can work together. So there you have it. If youâ€™re not already a member of the chamber, you really should be. There is no downside. We have only been able to skim over the main services they provide here, so to find out more go to
Lunch Club focus on members only ÂŁ12 Pre-Booking required
launching on Wednesday 24th March
12.00 noon Never eat lunch alone ! Make it a business opportunity
A great place to lunch, meet new people... and fill those all-important gaps in your business network.
call 0845 230 3686 or book online at: www.focusonnetworking.co.uk Enjoy a pleasurable lunch. Meet new contacts. Expand your network. working together for your success
il forno 132 Duke St Liverpool L1 5AG
Juice is about creating fresh opportunities... It’s about Juice is a networking club that brings a fresh and vibrant flavour to blending different people sowing the together, in order to help businesses to grow Help Yourself And A Great Cause By seeds and and prosper. Attending Our Next Networking Event reaping theUp It’sand True: You Really Do Get Juice has a friendly, professional unique Toone 15 Referrals approach whereby there are NO rules. Just rewards. simple request which is that each member at-
Help Yourself And A Great Cause Attending Our Next Networking E
Be a One Of 3 Winners tends the meetings with zest to demonstrate It’s True: You Really Do Get To 15 Referrals commitment. You get business Your new client pays less (and helps our cause too) We get vital funds
Be One Of 3 Winners
You get business Your new client pays less (and helps our cause too) www.juicenetworking.com We get vital funds
Help Yourself And A Great Cause By Attending Our Next Networking Event Yourself And A Great Cause By
Help Attending Our Next Networking Event
It’s True: You Really Do Get Up To 15 Referrals
It’s True: You Really Do Get Up To 15 Referrals
Be One Of 3 Winners
Be One Of 3 Winners
You get business Your new client pays less (and helps our cause too) We get vital funds
You get business Your new client pays less (and helps our cause too) We get vital funds
178 referrals generated at 19thgenerated January at event 178 referrals 19th January even
offer as littleAnd as agive 10% discount? And give 5% Can you offer as little Can as you a 10% discount? 5% to the buyer, and 5% to Nugent for any business you get? the buyer, and 5% to Nugent for any business you get?
Then please be there
Then please be there
Next Event: 16th March, starts 4:30 th
4:30Andersons Bar, Exchange Street East, Liverpool city centre Next Event: 16 March, starts Where: 178 referrals generated at 19th January event Where: Andersons Bar, Exchange Street Cost: £15 perEast, personLiverpool city centre
Can you offerCost: as little a 10% discount? And givePlease 5% to reserve your place before Friday 12th March (or sooner) £15 as per person the buyer, and 5% to Nugent for any business you get?
Please reserve your place before Friday 12th March (ororsooner) Email firstname.lastname@example.org call Ian on 07726 358394 Then please be there
Email email@example.com or call Ian on 07726 358394
Next Event: 16th March, starts 4:30
John Hayne Meets Rod Holmes A
s part of what I do, “in my day job”, I teach people leadership skills. During the last several months as I have interviewed leaders in this city, I have come to get a real sense of the differences in leadership styles. This is something I was fully aware of before, but getting close to these people and seeing how they apply themselves to their respective roles is fascinating. Some leaders have a real gung ho approach, they are driven and extremely determined, some lead by example from the front, but for some, leadership is a far more subtle quality. These people are just as driven and determined as any other style of leader, but they just appear to portray it in a different way. From a distance they may not appear to be as aggressive in their actions, but get up close and you know you are in the presence of a leader, a great leader. When you talk to someone like this you can not help but feel humbled and afterwards inspired. They posses an almost intangible quality that enables them to motivate those around them. The reason the leadership of this type of person is less tangible is quite fascinating in itself. It’s because these people don’t see themselves as leaders at all, they see themselves as servants, servants to the people or project with which they have been tasked to lead. Recently I had the opportunity to interview just such a leader. I found his modesty, humility, determination and profound knowledge of his subject humbling. The positive impact he has had and continues to have on this city is incredible. He is the Chief Executive of The Mersey Partnership, Rod Holmes.
Rod Holmes was brought up in the East Riding area of North Yorkshire. His father had his own small business as an electrician. In fact Rod remembers there were lotâ€™s of small businesses around the time he was growing up. When he was a bit older he lived in Canada for a time, where he met his wife Sally, but they soon moved back to the UK. Once back here Rod felt he had found a gap in a particular market and set up a company near Glossop making shoe soles, in fact one of the ideas Rod came up with was making plastic sandals. He had dozens of wooden models made up, (a left and right foot for every size of sandal), and he and his wife spent countless hours sticking leather trim on them. Nothing came of them until one day an opportunity arose to sell the wood and leather sandal models to Clarks, (a large shoe manufacturer), who proceeded to make the plastic sandals and sell them around the world. For years afterwards Rod and Sally, as they travelled around the world, would pick up a pair of plastic sandals
in a shoe shop or market and recognise them as moulded from their original wooden models. He ran this business for 4 years and in that time found out just how hard running a small business can be. In fact Rod believes he learnt more in those 4 years than he did through his time in university. It is these skills developed over that time that he has been able to apply over and over again throughout his subsequent career in the construction industry, even in the Liverpool 1 development, the problems were predominantly the same sorts of problems as his small shoe soul making business from all those years ago, just on a larger scale. When Rod moved into construction, he worked for companies that only did large projects, he worked on things like The Peace River Project in Canada, the 1st shopping centre in South Africa and many projects in Holland, France, even Ashton Under Line. One of his favourites was a hotel and conference centre he worked on in the 80â€™s in Doha in the Middle East. Over the years Rod moved away
from construction specifically and became more involved in property development on a large scale, in fact he terms it as “City Building”. I was wandering what Rods proudest project was, which actually proved a difficult question for him to answer. You see for Rod, the first thing that comes to mind when he thinks of any project is the people he worked on it with. “You become a team and bond, so the things that stick in your mind are all of those mission impossible times you have gone through and overcome, then you think of the building”. This brought to mind something an old property developer friend of Rod’s had told him many years earlier. He told Rod that his very successful business had eventually failed due to his business partner falling in love with the buildings they had built. “I always bear this in mind now, as I do love buildings myself”. Ten years ago Rod came to Liverpool to head up the Mersey Partnership. He distinctly remembers speaking to people in and around the city and ask-
ing them how they felt about Liverpool. The vast majority of the answers he got were not positive. There was a real sense of despair, especially amongst the younger people he spoke to. A feeling that there is nothing here for them and if they wanted to do anything with their lives, they would have to move out of the area. Now, ten years on, the vast majority of the people Rod asks, (yes, he never stops questioning unsuspecting members of the public), have quite different answers. Now people have a real sense of pride about what Liverpool is, what it’s become. They feel there is a real future here now and can see opportunities for themselves without having to move away. The change in Liverpool in the last 10 years is what Rod terms a ‘step change’. What this means is basically a huge leap forward in a relatively short period of time and he’s in no doubt as to how this step change came about. During a time when Liverpool was at one of its lowest points, someone stepped forward and took a
huge risk. The Duke of Westminster with his company Grosvenor committed to a 10 year development right in the heart of one of the most deprived cities in Europe. The £1 Billion development of Liverpool 1 was a massive undertaking by any stretch of the imagination. For a company to come into this area and make that sort of commitment when the city was at the stage it was at showed an incredible amount of courage and belief. Rod believes that this marked a turning point for Liverpool. It was on the back of this huge development by Grosvenor that much of the subsequent investment in the region has taken place. The Duke of Westminster himself stated that whilst he had been responsible for approximately 170 developments around the world, without reservation Liverpool 1 is the development he is most proud of. It is this commitment that was the catalyst for the step change in Liverpool and Rod believes that The Duke of Westminster will go down in history as changing the fortunes of this city. Rod likens this to a story that actually came to light during the excavation works at Liverpool 1. During the works the remains of an old dock were unearthed. Archiologists were brought in and the dig became the subject of a special Time Team program that was filmed over a 2 year period. It turns out that this was the first commercial dock in the world. In the early 1700’s 6 separate merchants moved to the area and with the help of larger ships, began trading across to the Americas. Up to this point people had only traded to Isle of Mann and Ireland from here. During high tide ships would come up the river and into a small estuary at around the point of where the Pier Head is now, then tie up and get loaded or discharged during high tide. These merchants then heard of a new concept that a Dutch chap by the name of Thomas Steers had developed were by a ship would enter a designated dock area that could then be closed off from the tidal river, holding the water inside, therefore allowing loading or discharge to take place during any state of the tide. They got together and decided to send for Mr Steers so he could survey the area to see if it would be suitable for one of his new docks. The survey complete, it turns out that this was an ideal location and Thomas Steers quoted £3000 to build the merchants their dock. This was a phenomenal amount of money, which the merchants didn’t have. To make matters worse, it turns out they needed an act of parliament to allow them to build it. At huge personal risk and with dogged determination, they raised the money and got their act of parliament and the build went ahead. The final build cost was £6000. The opening of this dock was the beginning of Liverpool as we know it today. Thomas Steers fell in love with
Liverpool during the course of the building of the dock and decided to move here perminantly. He set up in business casting anchors for ships, which his wife continued with after his death. You can see this dock now as Grosvenor have kept it intact, even installing a viewing window in the floor outside of John Lewis, at the bottom of the steps. These 6 merchants cooporated and became the catalyst for what Liverpool eventually became, one of the worlds largest and most important gateways to the world. The Duke of Westminster has just injected a new lease of life, a sense of hope and renewed pride in Liverpool. So, what is the vision for the Mersey Partnership now? Quite simply, another step change. As far as Rod is concerned, what has happened so far is only the beginning. We have made huge improvements over the last 5 to 10 years, but this is no time to rest on our laurels. We need to build on this success and make more really big leaps forward within the next 5 years. We have to improve our rate of change in order to catch up with the rest of the country. We can only do this through cooporation. Liverpool on it’s own is not a big enough economy for this to be realistically viable. Liverpool City Region, (formerly Merseyside), can become a world renowned brand. But we all have to work together. As Rod say’s, there is nothing stopping us but ourselves. The Mersey Partnership is currently working with around 200 people from different groups who meet on a regular basis in order to come up with innovative ways of moving forward quickly, effectively and together. Rod will openly admit he often has his head in the clouds. In his own words, “you’ve got to dream the dream, but keep your feet on the ground”. It is this combination of aiming high and at the same time remaining practical about what you have to do that has enabled Rod to achieve so much. It only remains for me to say thank you to Rod, not only for sparing some of your precious time for this interview, but also for your tireless work and dedication to this region. I am sure that with such great leadership, you will continue to inspire and motivate those around you and achieve all you set out to achieve. From the people of the Liverpool City Region, Thank You.
UCKED away in the docks, on the very edge of the city centre, is Liverpool Water sports Centre, a community facility that offers much more than meets the eye. It’s not just messing about on the river - the venue is also home to Mobex North West, a charitable organisation working to make positive changes to the lives of the youth and community groups it helps. The work of Mobex forms part of successful rehabilitation schemes for adults and aims to steer young people away from anti social behaviour through its focus on outdoor education and physical challenges. Run by a small and dedicated team from their base at the water sports centre - which can be found off Mariner’s Wharf, a short walk away from the Liverpool Arena - Mobex offers a wide range of activities with their outdoor specialists, who offer training and support to a variety of people of all ages. Operational manager Jonathan Hannaway said: “We work with all sorts of different client groups, young and old, doing various activities like climbing, mountain biking, gorge walking and hill walking.” Service users come to them mostly on the recommendation of drug rehabilitation agencies, the probation service and children’s services or schools. Mobex offers a completely voluntary programme that users attend under their own steam.
“With youngsters it’s all about intervention and prevention and trying to stop them going on that ladder. “In the city, there are lots of distractions - drugs, crime, and relative poverty. I’m from Speke and I was lucky my dad got me into the outdoors when I was a kid.” Run by a core team of two full time employees Jonathan and his colleague Andrea Doyle - and backed up with casual staff and volunteers, Mobex works with small groups of 8 to 12 people at a time, with some elements of one to one support. Their trips take users to places like Hadrian’s Wall, Snowdonia, Colomendy, Scotland for hiking, biking and climbing activities - and more besides. Residential experiences encourage everything from physical challenges to more practical activities including learning to cook and budgeting. This is particularly useful for those on rehabilitation programmes, learning to adapt to the responsibilities of every day life once more. Jonathan says: “It’s not just about criminality some of these people have been abused their whole lives, and it’s about them overcoming it and moving on, hopefully getting a job and coming off benefits. “Some people we work with have never even been outside the city, and even to see cows and sheep and nice views - they get a buzz.
At the heart of its ethos is the desire to motivate its users and restore their confidence and self esteem, helping give them the strength and the focus to stay away from old, destructive behaviours.
“It definitely works taking young people out and letting them do stuff. They get labelled, people assume they’re up to no good, standing on the streets.”
It comes under the umbrella of projects provided by social enterprise Local Solutions, other services of which include Bully Busters, Shopmobility, and Mobex’s sister organisation Merseysport.
He adds: “We do see an improvement of the behaviour of the people we work with. “One guy who’s working with us at the moment is a former service user who became a volunteer, and he’s a great success story.
“If users come from a criminal background, it’s about steering them away from that,” says Jonathan. “It is ultimately about them getting a job and moving on, getting motivated. Some people do have complex needs and serious issues and we are trying to break that cycle.
“If they didn’t want to be there, they’d walk with their feet. But I think we do good work. We’re not the only ones doing this, but it’s a valuable service.” Mobex marks its 25th anniversary next year.
It has its roots in the Young Explorers’ Trust in the 1980s. That began, with European funding, as a way of getting people off the dole by training them up as NVQ qualified outdoor educational instructors - because at the time it was seen as a growth industry throughout the continent. Liverpool was the first Mobex, but since then sister branches have been set up in Cumbria, Newcastle, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Projects can last over several months. Those referred from the probation service can stay on and become peer mentors; and drug referrals can keep attending for as long as they need the support. Other tailor-made projects have seen Mobex spend the day in Altcourse Prison with a mobile climbing wall to work with a small number of specially selected prisoners, and working with individual schools needing assistance with pupils on the cusp of developing anti-social behaviour problems. Funding comes from a wide variety of organisations, often specific to each individual project, and securing the money is a never ending cycle of work for the team. However, that never dims the team’s ambitions, and Mobex is always on the look out for ways to expand. A number of culture-led programmes have been developed in the last 12 months - including a poetry project with Liverpool University’s Victoria Gallery and Museum, and work with Toxteth TV and Liverpool Biennial’s canal project in Bootle - and in an ideal world, it is something Jonathan would like to take further. “If we had funding for an arts worker, we would do more down that road, like photography, drama or IT,” he says. “We’re always looking for new things; we like to think we are inventive and not stuck in our ways.” For more information on the project, visit
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