Manchester March 2010
James & Taylor
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Mason Williams PR Features & Images www.mason-williams.com
Team Talk We’re Destroying Our Chances Of Future Success
TechHaze Technology Features http://www.techhaze.com
James & Taylor Construction
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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 The whole structure of education and the way it is being delivered is I reckon about 10 years out of date.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...
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James & Taylor By Your Business eZine
hey do say that the only constant in life is change. Change is not something that many businesses relish either, and just as in life, this is one of the only things you can rely on. However, whilst we often shy away from change and it can certainly take us in many different directions, it also brings with it great opportunity, it just depends on your state of mind. If your business is forward thinking and innovative, then all you see from change is opportunity. Imagine being in an industry that is changing forever. The products you supply are almost becoming obsolete. You could think that this is the end. That you need to think of a new career or you could take some decisive action and look at how you can adapt and move with the times. I recently had the privilege to speak to one such company, who not only survived, but prospered in a shrinking market place. They had the vision and determination to move forward and are rapidly becoming world leaders in their field. You may not of heard of the company before, but you will have certainly seen their work.
James and Taylor started out in business in 1988 in New Malden, Surrey, as brick suppliers. Back then there were hundreds of small brick producers all around the country, which if you were an architect proved somewhat of a nightmare. The problem was that you may have an image in your mind of what type of brick for a particular build you may need, but finding that brick was a completely different matter. This is where James and Taylor came in. They acted almost like an estate agent for bricks, if you can imagine such a thing. They dealt with the multitude of producers around the country and then became a one stop shop for anything brick. After a few years something began to change in the industry. For a start there were less bricks being used in buildings, but for James and Taylor, worse than that, brick manufacturers began merging or being bought out by larger producers. This meant that there were fewer producers with fewer products, which in turn meant that they were easier for the architects to find and as a result they could deal with the producers directly. Whilst all this was happening, the company had opened new offices in Altringham. Then, after the bomb in the Arndale Centre in 1996, James and Taylor were approached to see if they could provide a product that could withstand almost anything. What they found was a clay tile from Germany which had actually been developed for the rebuilding of Berlin. The tile used a modern fixing mechanism which did not need any mortar and it could also be used in any weather conditions. The product was a huge success. So much so in fact that they became
distributers for it. They supplied that product exclusively for 5 years after which other similar products began to creep onto the market. Ever resourceful and forward thinking, they decided to go back out and find some more innovative cladding solutions, which they did. The next product they found was a timber tile. They used this on Edinburgh University. Now the company really got a taste of what they could do and continued to search out the finest and most innovative products they could find. Now they actually manufacture a range of metal products and continue to offer very high quality wood, clay and brick solutions. James and Taylor have had their products used on some of the world’s most iconic buildings. Selfridges in the Bull Ring in Birmingham for example. If ever you see a photo of Birmingham, they always show this building, you know the one, covered in what looks like thousands of metal buttons. Actually it was 17,500spun metal discs and the product never even existed before. The architect had a vision of how he wanted the building to look and James and Taylor not only made the discs and tested them, but also developed the fixing system. They have also done the Museum of Modern Art in New York, (with a different product). This is the building that looks like boxes badly stacked on top of each other. There are actually so many they have done over the years that we couldn’t possibly list them all. There are also some very exciting new projects just about to be confirmed, but we can’t mention them yet, unfortunately. Some of the buildings they have done that you may be familiar with are the Hacienda, Spinning Fields, head office of M.E.N arena, Media City, the Bio Science Building, Aquines College in Stockport, the list goes on and on. Outside of the area they have also done Jamie Oliver’s new restaurant in Canary Warf.
Much of the work that James and Taylor do is very high profile and there is good reason why they keep getting these very impressive commissions. The company tag line is “were innovation comes as standard”. But its more than innovation, quality is also a pre requisite for James and Taylor. After all, you would want to make sure your products were of the very highest standards if you gave an 80 year guarantee with them wouldn’t you. Justin Price, Sales Director at James and Taylor says that he wants people in the industry to be able to look at a building and recognise that it is clad in their products simply by the quality, both in design and finish. James and Taylor supply a huge range of products, from general up to very specialist and bespoke. They also work on a wide range of size of jobs, from over 1 million bespoke bricks for St Pancreas station in London, to a small quantity of specialist bricks for an extension to Wayne Roonie’s house.
The staff at James and Taylor are certainly passionate about what they do. Justin says that they have a very low turnover of staff and this is due to the fact that it’s an exciting place to work. There are always new challenges so it never gets boring and everyone has a hands on approach. This is hardly surprising as given what you’ve just read about the size of contracts they fulfil and the world wide locations they work in, would you be surprised to find out that they do all of this with just 45 staff across 5 offices throughout the UK and Ireland. It’s great to see a company so passionate and driven in what they do and this certainly shows in their work. I look forward to watching with interest over the coming months to see what else they are getting up to, hopefully going for gold in London.
Ask The Expert
Ask The Question
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Mike Reece Mike Reece, is an Ology Business Coach in Lancashire, he will work with the owners and management teams from small to medium sized businesses to large corporate businesses in The North West (covering Chorley, Leyland, Preston, Blackpool, Wigan, Blackburn, Skelmersdale) Mike will efficiently and effectively deliver results which impact the bottom line. He has the skills, proven business tools and coaching experience to help you and your business make the transformations required to bring about improved business success. In some cases Mike is able to get funding for these programmes from Local Government Schemes in the area.
visit the website at: www.ologybusiness.com/mikereece/ email your question to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Sec Weapon C
oaching in business! Now we’ve all heard of a coach, in terms of a football team, an athlete or even a swimmer, but for a business owner, that’s a new one! But as business moves into the new millennium and with the rapid expansion of the communication and IT industry, it is becoming evident that the world doesn’t seem as big. At first glance, it might look as if only a struggling business would consider the services of a professional business coach. But a business coach can do a great deal for a successful business or individual in that company seeking the skills with which to meet their career goals. If you’re the owner of a business (ever experienced how lonely that place can be ?) and you’ve found yourself wondering how do we grow the business or make it more profitable, hiring a business coach is a positive step towards and achieving your business or personal goals. If you think of a business coach as a “none executive director” they’re not “consultants”, because they have no interest in running your business or taking it over. A business coach is a person who will work with you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, help you set and plan achievable goals in a finite time scale and teach you how to
Business Coach Business
ecret n track your progress as you move along the path, and motivate you and your team to make the very best of your business based on your own values. If you were a professional (or a challenging amateur) sportsman who already had the skills needed to play your sport but wanted to get better at your game, you’d hire a coach, how many golfers have had a lesson from a coach ? He will work with you behind the scenes to help you become stronger, more focused and more fulfilled, making you a better player. A business coach will do the same thing for your business, using his / hers experience and knowledge to help you find solutions that will help you get to your full potential. They act as a friend and advisor and confidant, looking at your business with an unbiased eye guiding you in everything from time management to conflict resolution. You may be surprised to find that a business coach can be surprisingly cost effective, particularly when weighed against the financial benefits of their expert advice. A professional business coach can help you to increase your business’s productivity, company profitability, customer service, employee morale and reduce management turnover. With many coaches operating face to face or via the telephone, Skype or video conferences, you may not even have to be in the same city as your
coach but they’re just a phone call away with advice when you need it. If you have just been promoted or you have just promoted somebody in your business, who do you / they turn to for help or guidance? It is very hard to turn to the boss or your equal for the help and assistance for fear of the fact they may feel you are not up to the job so who better to turn to than a professional business coach! It may just be a telephone call for reassurance or guidance or part of a planned programmed of meetings to plan the future A business coach can be your secret weapon in growing your business or making your career flourishes against the competition. Whether you need advice on what is the best option available to you or create marketing strategies or help to set effective goals. Consider hiring a business coach as a positive step towards reaching your full business potential. As a behind-the-scenes advisor, your business coach can help you earn more money, operate your business more smoothly, or become a more effective leader, change your work life balance – A Business Coach – Your Secret Weapon – Get one soon before the competition do !!
A Comm of the Super Su Martin Robert Hall is a Performance Specialist and an accomplished and brilliant Speaker on Leadership and Performance Psychology. He has over 10 years of experience in the field of Human Excellence and has worked with a wide range of top performers in sports and business, helping them to tap into their potential and perform at their peak. Martin brings his huge wealth of knowledge to the table and his warm and fun approach to his work means he is truly unique in creating long lasting change in a fun and enjoyable atmosphere. Martin regularly delivers keynote speeches for conferences and events, delivers highly impactful Leadership Training for organisations and works on a one to one basis with high performance athletes and top performers in both the sporting and business world. Martin has a long collection of qualifications in the field of Personal Development and Psychology. A BSc Honours Degree in Sports Psychology, ANLP Accredited Neuro Linguistic Programming and various diplomas in Motivation, Confidence and Personal Performance Coaching to list a few. visit the website at www.martinroberthall.com email your question to: email@example.com
ave you ever noticed how top performers in all walks of life just seem to do things naturally and effortlessly?
They often make it look so easy. People observe them and think that they were born with the ability to be a success or that it just comes naturally to them. Whether that is a talented athlete such as Roger Federer or Tiger Woods (a talent for golf I am referring to!) or whether that is someone who many aspire to in business such as Alan Sugar or Richard Branson. The one thing all these people have who have had major success is practise. They have applied themselves over and over again, they have practised and honed their skills so much that it has become second nature for them. People say it is talent, they are born with it, it comes naturally to them. But does it? Or have they just mastered the art of consistent and applied effort and eventually it has become second nature? Tiger Woods was playing golf from the moment he could stand up and by the time he was about 9 years old he had played more golf than most professionals had done in their entire careers. So was it a surprise he became as good as he did? From the age of 16 Alan Sugar was selling electrical goods out the back of a van he bought for ÂŁ100. He then went on to build an empire of businesses which make him one of the richest people
uccessful in the World today. Was he born to do it? Or was it just practise and repetition which got him to where he is now? Success is born on habits. We are our habits. Psychologist research shows that 90% of our behaviours are habitual and we are constantly breaking old habits and forming new habits all the time. It is estimated that it takes about three weeks of consistent effort to establish a new habit and then it becomes automatic. Think about when you learnt to drive, at first you could hardly manage to change gear and steer the car at the same time and a short time later you are changing the radio, speaking on your phone and driving round a roundabout at the same time! Not that I have ever done anything like this but you get the idea! What is clear is that the more good habits you have, the more successful you are likely to be. I remember when I first got serious about working for myself, I thought to myself â€˜what is the first thing all successful businessmen doâ€™? Get up early I thought. So I set myself a new target to start getting up early and having a positive start to the day. I have to say it has been the best decision I have made so far and I always have a much more productive and successful day when I rise early. It is just something about starting my day knowing that the rest of the world is still asleep that gives me an extra kick of motivation! What about you? What habits are helping you get to where you want to be? What habits are holding
you back? Here are some unproductive habits you may be able to identify with: - Lack of sleep - Not planning your time effectively - Not returning phone calls on time - Checking your emails several times each day - Putting off the important things until the last minute - Unhealthy diet which leads to lack of energy - Too much coffee - Turning up late for appointments and meetings - Watching too much TV And the list goes on! Ask yourself what habits you need to break, which ones are holding you back the most and make a concerted effort to establish a new successful habit (normally the opposite) in its place. Set yourself a 21 day target and then see if it becomes second nature. Imagine if in 12 months time you had 12 new successful habits. Where would you be? What would be different? Start today. Make a list and get cracking! Until next time, Martin Robert Hall
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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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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anchester is a wonderful place, steeped in history. Some of the defining moments in history have happened in Manchester and it has played host to many of the world’s elite. If I give you a list of names, can you guess what they have in common; Winston Churchill, Christabel Pankhurst, Shirley Bassey, Dalai Lama, Bob Dylan, Benjamin Disraeli, Charles Dickens, Charles Halle, John Barbarolli, Queen Elizabeth II, Sex Pistols, Pink Floyd, Ella Fitzgerald, Brian Ferry, Judy Garland, Freddy Mercury, actually I’m going to stop there as the list could be several pages long. Have you guessed it yet? They have all appeared or performed at The Free Trade Hall. It is no exaggeration to call this building monumental. In fact it was actually erected to hold meetings for the Anti Corn Law League in 1840 and was originally a wooden structure. It was built on a site close to the Peterloo Massacre, were 15 people were killed whilst demonstrating for democratic rights. When it opened in 1840 it held a banquet for 4,000 people for the Anti Corn Law League. This original structure only lasted 3 years and in 1843 it was demolished to make way for a new stone structure built that same year. In 1846 the Corn Laws were repealed, making way for free trade and there were huge celebrations held at the Free Trade Hall. In 1847 Felix Mendelssohn performed there and in 1852 Charles Dickens appeared in 3stage productions. Then in 1853, just 10 years after the new Free Trade Hall was built, a decision was taken to
re build it. This was completed in 1856 when for the 3rd time a new Free Trade Hall was opened. As soon as it did open it was proclaimed to be one of the cities finest buildings and it is this building that you will still recognise there today. For the next 140 years The Free Trade Hall played host to some of the most important and entertaining people in history. So much so that we have included on a separate page in this feature a chronological list of the main events at the hall, although even this is only the edited highlights. As I said before, monumental. In 1995 the planned closure of the hall was announced and in 1996, after its final public event, a prayer and meditation meeting held by the Dalai Lama, the Free Trade Hall closed its doors. Over the next few years the hall played host to a very different group of people. The local police used it as a training ground for their dogs. The local pigeons used it as a shelter and toilet, as did the local tramps. Even the local vandals had a go, amongst other things spraying graffiti on the walls, (I’ll come back to this a little later). Plans were submitted and rejected to convert the rapidly deteriorating building into a cinema. Then plans were submitted to convert the building to a hotel, which were also rejected, but this time the company submitting them was a little more determined. They made some alterations to the plans and resubmitted them. This time they were successful. Despite some initial opposition the work began in earnest and in 2004 the £50 million 5 star Radisson Edwardian Manchester opened its doors.
To call the 5 star Radisson Edwardian a hotel is only half the story. You see this building is as much a museum dedicated to the history of the Free Trade Hall in which it is built. The hotel itself has 263 bedrooms and 20 conference rooms ranging in size to accommodate anything from 10 delegates up to 280 seated for a gala dinner. The hotel is green accredited, currently holding a bronze award, although they are going for gold and they should find out this month if they have achieved that. 80% of the hotels customers are business clients with 20% staying there for leisure. There are 22 suites available at the Radisson Edwardian which are all named after people who have sang at the Free Trade Hall and they range in size from, well, huge and sumptuously appointed, to large and sumptuously appointed. In fact every one of the 263 rooms has a Bang and Olufsen TV and Bose sound system. There are 2 restaurants to choose from in the hotel called Alto and Opus One. All of the food served in the hotel is British produce from northern suppliers. Actually they supply some of their own produce as they have a herb garden on the roof so the chefs can simply go up and pick what they need, you don’t get any fresher than that. Alto is a more informal relaxed dinning experience. During the summer month tables are also laid outside on the terrace for that alfresco experience. Opus One is a more formal dining, with deliberately theatrical décor. Whilst both restaurants are open to non residents and are indeed very popular in their own right, Opus One does have its own entrance on to Peter Street so that diners don’t need to walk in through the hotel to get into restaurant. Also, Opus One does have its own glazed terrace area giving that lighter feel to your dining but available all year round. Take a trip down to the basement on the site of the old barrel vaults and you’ll find the hotels exceptional Sienna Spa. With a 12 metre swimming pool, whirlpool bath, steam room and sauna in one sound proof section, an air conditioned gymnasium, 5 beautifully appointed treatment rooms and even a relaxation room with comfy couches, relaxing music and complimentary fruit juices or cool filtered water, there is something for everyone to either chill out, get pampered or reinvigorated. All of the products used throughout the spa are environmentally friendly and bio degradable. The Free Trade Hall is a grade II listed building and as such is afforded certain protection from English Heritage. That said, when its doors closed in 1996 and the building went into rapid decline they were not there to protect it then, but when a company
came along with the vision, sympathy to its history and budget to redevelop the site, they were right there. Please excuse the cynicism in my tone here, but I have seen this many times before and I have to be honest, it annoys me. Remember earlier that I mentioned that vandals had sprayed graffiti on the walls, well this was obviously post 1996, however, English Heritage have deemed the graffiti part of the fabric of the building and it therefore can not be removed. They are so passionate about the protection of the graffiti they visit at least twice every year just to make sure its still there. The developers chose different things to preserve. Signatures for example on a wall that was previously a back stage area that artists who performed there signed as they finished their performances. The section of the wall has now been framed and covered with a protective glass and the hotel has now continued the tradition by asking some of the more famous guests to do the same on a section of wall next to the original. They also have a complete set of grade II listed sculptures that used to grace the rear wall of the building which represent everything that went on at the hall, like boxing, acting, singing, politics, public speaking, etc, set onto an internal wall that goes from the basement up almost the full height of the new section of the building, which is 14 stories high. This new section can not be seen from the Peter Street side of the building, this is the side that has the original faĂ§ade of the Free Trade Hall and even if you cross the road and look up, you can not see the building behind. This was actually one of the criteria for the redevelopment to go ahead. This hotel in its short history has already won many awards. It won Manchesterâ€™s best hotel 3 years running and came runner up for the best in the country. The awards keep on coming and rightfully so. If your looking for a place to go out and eat, somewhere to pamper yourself, to meet clients, to spend a night or 2, or even just to soak up some history, call into the Radisson Edwardian, itâ€™s a little slice of Manchester, at its finest.
HISTORY OF THE F
1819 Scene of the Peterloo Massacre, 15 killed protesting for democratic rights 1840 Free Trade Hall opened – the largest public hall in Britain; Anti-Corn Law Banquet for 4 1843 First FTH demolished - new FTH built. 1846 Corn Laws Repealed – Anti-Corn Law League celebrations in FTH 1847 Musical performances in FTH includes Mendelssohn’s “Elijah”, conducted by Felix Me 1852 Charles Dickens appears in three stage productions 1853 Decision taken to build third FTH (hotel façade). Architect chosen - Edward Walters 1856 New Free Trade Hall opened. Immediately proclaimed one of the city’s finest buildings 1858 First performance by Charles Hallé & his orchestra. The Hallé Orchestra becomes the 1865 Major speech by William Gladstone on taxation 1866 Final performance of Charles Dickens in FTH, reading from his novels 1872 Benjamin Disraeli (Prime Minister) makes major political speech – outlines the centr 1872 David Livingstone lectures in FTH 1889 First church services held by Samuel Collier - These religious services attract huge c 1896 First cinema show - Lumière Brothers 1899 Hans Richter becomes conductor of Hallé Orchestra 1905 First Suffragette Protest in FTH – Christabel Pankhurst & Annie Kenney arrested after 1909 Winston Churchill speaks – the first of many major speeches 1920 FTH purchased by Manchester City Council to prevent it becoming a Cinema 1929 Hallé Orchestra performs with Manchester Schoolchildren’s Choir. Records the million 1933 British Union of Fascists addressed by Oswald Mosley. 1938 Paul Robeson sings & addresses meeting in memory of International Brigade. 1940 FTH severely damaged in blitz on Manchester 1943 Sir John Barbarolli leaves the New York Philharmonic to become conductor of Halle 1945 Plans for new hall published 1951 New Free Trade Hall opened by Queen Elizabeth 1964 Ella Fitzgerald performs 1966 Bob Dylan performs his famous “Judas” concert 1976 Sex Pistols perform one of their first ever concerts 1972 David Bowie appears 1972 Pink Floyd appears 1995 Plans announced to close hall 1996 Final public event in hall is prayer at meditation meeting given by the Dalai Lama. Free Trade Hall closes 2004
Radisson Edwardian Free Trade Hall opened
FREE TRADE HALL
4,000 people celebrate opening (wooden structure)
s. country’s most important provincial orchestra and performs in the hall from 1858-1939.
ral ideas of modern Conservatism
congregations. By 1900 the FTH is the largest ‘church’ in the country
interrupting a political meeting
n-seller “Nymphs and Shepherds”.
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
e’re living within a constant stream of information. The Internet is invading our lives. Twitter and Facebook made it worst as ‘The stream of messages has become a torrent,” according to B. Horowitz, a vice president of product development at Google. “There is no way to parse that amount of information that ranges from the ridiculous to the sublime. We think this has become a Google-scale problem.” There’s been a lot of talk about Google’s latest attempt to enter the social networking market lately. The company just introduced a new product called Google Buzz. Google Buzz is a social networking tool akin to Facebook and Twitter: it allows you to post your status or a small text (or anything else really) in a box that will then be sent to all your “followers” who can subsequently read, comment or dismiss your post. In exchange, you can “follow” people you’re interested in (whatever the reason for that may be).
The difference with existing social networks
If you are like most people, your first reaction was: “What? Another social network! ” Everybody seems to be jumping in that “social networking” boat, but we don’t need nor want them to. Most people are happy with what they have; i.e. one, two, or sometimes even three accounts in various social networks. However, we’re all reluctant to another network being pushed down our throat. Things are complicated enough as things are, if we have to check one more website we’re sure never to get any more real work done. Ever.
However, Google Buzz is not set to compete with others simply by creating an alternative platform. Integration with Gmail, Google’s popular webmail platform, is maybe Buzz’ most predominant feature. With the information overload that we all know and fear, this may be a killer. If you leave Facebook for Buzz, you won’t even need to leave Gmail (presuming it’s already your webmail client of choice). Also, Buzz is set to become more that a network. Google hopes it will be a new means of communication. Private messages can be sent to a chosen group. This can be ideal for in-team collaboration where you want everybody to have access to the messages without necessarily flooding their inbox. Google Buzz will also be well integrated on smartphones, notable Apple’s iPhone and Android devices like the Nexus One.
Will it work?
Networks spread through a networking effect (duh!). That means that the more people use a particular social networking site, the more it will grow. In this sense, Google is the underdog. Its main competitor, Facebook, has already gathered an estimated 350 million active users. To compete with that, Google needs to work differently. Integration with Gmail is more than just a practical feature for users. Google Buzz is (was or will be) rolled out to every Gmail user. With over 150 million monthly users, Gmail is a good platform for Buzz to grow. Most people are not convinced (or don’t care at all), but Google seems to have predicted that. Any buzz user can tag anybody (just like in twitter). Automatically, the Buzz (or comment) will be received by the Gmail user as an email. Upon opening it, the user will discover a buzz-formatted page. Where he would normally answer, the user will find a box in which he can comment the buzz. He types his thoughts inside and… voilà! He’s in the system.
Moral and practical objections
Buzz has just been released and people are already complaining. Let’s ignore Microsoft & co.’s moaning, as they’re obviously trying to discredit their competitor more than giving a candid opinion.
Buzz’ integration with Gmail is a problem. We’re living in the era where Microsoft was tried–and lost–forbundling its Internet Explorer browser with its operating system. Now Google does the same thing with Buzz. For a company that strives to obey to one core principle (“Don’t be evil“), and that loves tofight Microsoft, isn’t that a bit too much? In Google’s defense, Gmail integration is actually a feature, and a useful one for the end-user. If social networking is to be viewed as a new means of open communication, then I’d rather have it integrated into my existing communication tools, and there’s nothing more ubiquitous than the email. The main point end-users criticize Buzz about is the fact that buzzes (or whatever we’re supposed to call them) appear in their inbox. For most people, that’s unthinkable, and they have a point. Our email inboxes are already overloaded, and nobody wants to clog them more. However, it can also be considered as a shortsighted opinion. Firstly, creating a filter is one of the easiest things you can do in Gmail (OK, not quite, but almost). Anyone can configure Gmail to automatically “archive” their buzzes and/or send them in a “Buzz” tag. Secondly, these people forget that Google Buzz will simply be integrating a feature that they’re already using and making it better. Facebook sends its users a constant stream of annoying notifications, and nobody (but me) seems to be complaining. The main difference buzz emails will have with Facebook’s email notifications is that they’re actually useful. Facebook doesn’t let you interact with its notifications, so you have to click on the link that redirects you to facebook.com before doing anything. Buzz, however, lets you interact with these buzzes as you would with an email.
Why is Google doing this?
At first look, it seems Google is getting too big for its own good. I had the impression that it was becoming another Microsoft, desperately trying to compete on every market just for the sake of it. However, a second look made me rethink. It’s often hard to understand what Google is trying to do. They seem to look ahead much more than their competitors, and their long-term strategy makes it hard to predict the next steps the company will be
taking. My opinion is that Buzz is not just a desperate attempt to retrieve some market-share from Facebook. Its integration with Gmail is actually its one true innovative feature and Google is set to make people change the way they communicate. If it works. On the medium to long term, Google is looking at Buzz as a way of linking their products together, like Picasa and Gmail, and to spread its “Public Profile” service into something that could be relevant for their search engine. Google not only wants to help us connect with our network, they want to connect us with the whole web in an efficient manner. In a way, they hope to index individuals like they indexed web pages, and however evil it may sound, it may give us easier access to individuals in our extended network; a tool not to be ignored.
I was rather skeptical of the service at the beginning, because its power is not apparent until you really start sharing content. With some testing and afterthought, I prefer Buzz to both Facebook and Twitter combined and I actually believe that it can compete with both. However, it isn’t very attractive on first look, and many people will tend to dismiss it prematurely. Buzz could bring sharing to a whole new level thanks to its seamless integration into Gmail and its rich media features. The real question is if the users will buy it, and that, only the future can tell. I’m betting that Google Buzz will no t take off right away, but that it will have an impact on the long term. Do you think it has what it takes to take off? By Calixte Pictet
make sure youâ€™re as
fresh as a dais
when you go networkin this spring
WORKING IN ASSOCIATION WITH
An Insigt into networking with Downtown In Business February Networking in pictures
etworking In The City Business Networking
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
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Downtown in Business, (DIB), has been trading for around 5 years now with phenomenal success. They currently operate in Liverpool, Preston, and Lancaster and as of 11th March with a launch event in Cloud 23 at the Hilton, they’ll be in Manchester too. There is to be a drinks reception with fine foods supplied by the Hilton and Sir Howard Bernstein is the keynote speaker. The launch event itself is actually 2X oversubscribed, so a second event is being planned in order not to let anyone down. DIB are a fairly unique networking company that like to set themselves apart from the rest. Besides their networking, they also have a lobbying arm, in fact it was originally set up as a lobbying company by Chairman Frank McKenna who used to be the Deputy Leader of Lancashire County Council and was once described as “the most powerful politician in the north west”. The networking only came after due to demand from the members. It is due to the success that DIB have had over the years in Liverpool that they are in such a strong position to expand the brand. They have had aspirations to expand into Manchester for as long as 3 years now, but have resisted the temptation to do so until they were confident they had suitable infrastructure in place in order to be able to provide the very best service to their new members. Once they felt
ready to make the move they started on what was to be 8 months of research and relationship building before the launch date was set. In effect, what DIB has become is a very affective well oiled machine. It is a focal point for some of the top business people in the region and besides bringing these businesses together, it also acts as a voice on their behalf. They bill themselves as a business club with attitude and this certainly comes across in pretty much everything they do. With Sexy networking, Chairman’s Dinners, Members Reception’s and Property and enterprise forums, there is always something going on. The events that DIB organise have been amongst the best attended in each location. Roger Jonas, the events manager at Downtown says that they have used all of their knowledge from the past 5 years in the business so they are able to deliver the best possible service to Manchester. With a background in production, he has been with DIB for 3 years now and brings a wealth of experience in both connecting people and getting things done. With Roger and the rest of the team now fully committed to Manchester, they believe they can bring something quite unique to the existing business community and from their offices in Portland Street, I don’t doubt they will. By Your Business eZine
By Your Business eZine
harity doesn’t work! That’s right, according to Stephen Bailey of Penny On, charity doesn’t work. I have to say that in the context it was said, I totally agree with him. You may of heard the saying that if you give a man a fish he will eat for the day, but give him a fishing rod and teach him to fish, he will eat for the rest of his life. What Stephen is talking about here is responsibility and self sustainability. Now to be fair, there are many charities that promote this same message. It’s about empowering people to do it for themselves. As far as similarities with other charities go, this is about where it ends. Penny On is fundamentally a fund raising organisation. The concept of it is so simple it will take seconds to explain, if the name already hasn’t. Every time you buy something, whether that be in a supermarket or an on line retailer, you have the opportunity to put a penny on that purchase. Simple as that. All of those pennies will then go to good causes. Penny On is aiming for 50% to go to local good causes and 50% going internationally, unless the retailer specifies otherwise and wishes to support one particular cause. But donating a penny won’t make a difference, will it? Think about how many transactions occur in this country every day. Forget the entire country, imagine how many transactions take place in one major supermarket each day. Even at one penny each time, this alone could raise well in excess of £100,000 every day. The potential for fund raising is enormous and the consumer will always have the choice, they will make the decision at point of sale and request to put a penny on their bill. The other great thing about this, besides its simplicity, is that all of the technology to do it already exists. If you request to put a penny on, the retailer simply scans a bar code and that’s it. The idea for Penny On came back in 2002 when Martin Dewhurst was on an NGO, (Non Governmental Organisation) Project, in the Sahara Desert. Whilst he was there, he thought there has to be
a better way of raising money and getting it to the people. What he wanted was to get back to the lowest common denominator and have the simplest system possible. Once Martin had the concept, he brought in a company called Design Extreme, who are based in Manchester, to do the brand design. It took until 2007 to register Penny On as a charity and in 2009 the first proof of concept went ahead in a large discount retail store in Chorley. During the first 12 months of this proof of concept there is no staff intervention, that is they do not ask the customer if they would like to put a penny on. This is actually proving quite frustrating for the staff as they totally get the idea and just want to be asking
customers, but they can’t as Penny On needs to find out what the up take is just using in store and point of sale marketing. So far this is looking like between 8 and 10%, which is amazing considering that it’s not a known brand and no one has prompted the customers to donate. The 2nd 12 months will be with staff intervention, which they are very much looking forward to, and I can only imagine what the up take figures will be then. The other great thing about this fund raising system Martin came up with is that 100% of the pennies donated go to the good causes. This is done by having support from the business community.
You can support Penny On very simply by making an annual payment of £20.20 plus 1 pence per employee per day. So that’s £3.65 per employee for the year. This money goes towards the Penny On running costs, which enables every penny of the pennies to go to the good causes. Some of the companies in Manchester already supporting Penny On are Mazars, Ralli, Intent Design, Blue Monkey Marketing, Design Extreme, Hallidays and BRX Northwest. SME’s get the Penny On concept very quickly. They understand it and what’s more, understand how to create value from it. In fact it can also add value to a larger retailer, because of the way the system is set up it can feedback management information to the retailer. Penny On took the decision from the outset not to invest money in a national marketing campaign. Everything they do is via word of mouth marketing, which is all about relationship building and relationship building builds permanency. It’s an investment of time, not money. Also, as businesses get involved and support Penny On, then the staff that work there are also consumers and they can also continue that support every time they shop. So if you’re a company that has large volumes of transactions, please contact Penny On and become one of the growing number of pioneering businesses to adopt the scheme, if not, then please still contact Penny On and become one of a growing number of support companies who’s crucial yet small donations allow every one of those transaction pennies to go to good causes.
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Our lead feature this month just oozes quality. The 5 star Radisson Edwardian Hotel has to be experienced to be believed. Based in the old F...
Published on Mar 2, 2010
Our lead feature this month just oozes quality. The 5 star Radisson Edwardian Hotel has to be experienced to be believed. Based in the old F...