Bringing up baby

So, I was told Ben was quitting, yep, he’d had enough. It was time for him to take the foot off the gas and leave ‘the baby.’ He was to walk away from the business of ten years.

I asked him what had happened that would make him ‘throw in the towel?’

I simply couldn’t see the way forward Charlie, after trying to make a ‘quid’ these past few years I’ve decided on trying something different. Besides, the change ‘might do me good’ – it might rekindle my mojo …

You’ve lost it? The passion for the business??

Ben, isn’t it enough that you have set your sights on the future, shared your dreams through people alliances, invested faith in colleagues and their contacts – isn’t that enough to clear your path to fruition? For however long it takes?? To have shared your vision, Ben, the cultivation of trust, the dedicated partnership, of where you want to be on completion of the journey – surely this is a testimony to your passion and validation to your reputation in business?

Don’t you think that the mojo was alive and well already?

Just too many negatives around ‘just now’ Charlie. There is no ‘money in it’ and besides, I’ve more responsibility now with the day job, the paycheck is good as well .. I’ve already spent enough personal wealth, family time and faced one too many disappointments. Besides, it’s time for a holiday.”

He wasn’t listening. Ben had replaced his passion for the business with the cushion of security. During the last ten years, he’d turned a ‘hobby’ into a vision for a lucrative second career and now he was walking away. It was a tough decision in tough times and I do get the reasons why.

Think about what it was Ben was walking away from …

The loss leader? Yes, looks like it.

Time away from family? That as well.

Disappointments? Yes, the possibility of failure is real.

Stress?  In business? We deal with stress. Daily.

Being responsible for, at the helm of your own business, these are just a handful of sacrifices we make when we’ve decided to ‘bring up baby.’

So, what else are we leaving when walking away?

Relationships, partners, [leverage,] dreams, shared visions and the disappointment of a vision and the passion gone unfulfilled.

People buy from passionate people.

Let’s look after our mates …

Over the years I’ve discovered that success is powered by three things:
The formula for success = your human capital (what you know) multiplied by your social capital (who you know) times your reputation (who trusts you.)
You can take away all my money and even my customer list, but if I can keep my ‘smarts,’ my business relationships and reputation, I’ll get it all back – with interest! Having knowledge, social capital and trust is the ultimate security blanket in both good times and bad.
Today, more than ever it’s an excellent time to increase your market share by reaching new prospective customers and building better relationships with your present customers. Not by simply sitting alone in front of your computer and trying to come up with a winning marketing formula either, this along is simply not smart business. No one I know who has been successful in creating a strong marketing presence does it this way.
Successful people may have started out going it alone but as soon as they possibly could, they began to leverage their contacts, other people’s ideas, their experiences and relationships.
Building a strong network, reaching out and helping others, showing you care by introducing one another via structured meetings should never be dismissed as a one-off opportunity or a quick fix, networking genuinely works when we work toward helping others through strong, developed relationships.
Success = what you know, times who you know, times who trusts you.
That’s it. That’s the secret.
So, how do we build trust?
Blame the Greeks … they taught us that all conversation involved three ingredients:
Ethos, or the character of the speaker,
Pathos, connecting with the emotions and
The logos discussed by the Greeks refer to the factual content of a message, the words used.
OK, so, building trust?  
To hear your message, people first need to positively connect with you emotionally before they are ready, willing and able to listen to what you have to say.
Never dismiss the opportunity that regular networking brings, never dismiss the value of investing in human capital.

community get-together

We’re all aware of the effect people have on our everyday routines. Whether there’s a smile, offers of help, direction or support of well-being, it’s the people in your life that count.

As human beings, it is said we’re at our best among communities. Most of us tend to engage others of a like mind. We react, some contradict, spar and learn. We’re able to make choices, whom to have around us by being present, living in the moment.

Along the way we’re collecting messages considering, listening in conversation, music may be heard! Humour is often exchanged, appreciated, or maybe not! We all have choices, we can choose to tune in to the messages, turn ’em up, down or off.

Close communities can offer so much more besides. There’s less effort, less grey if we have good relations, trust and have confidence when offering engagement during participation.

It’s when building enterprise we are similarly blessed by observing the benefits of celebrating humankind, the fundamental practice of being present.

Remembering also that our ideas are nothing … unless they serve someone.

The practice of being there, making the best of time together in the community brings affinity closer. Being that familiar, reliable, go-to person within your community, being ready for business, offering the same consistent messages that have made your business worthwhile to you become much clearer also to prospective partners.

Consistency in expectation is what makes communities successful, we align with the reliable that offers confirmation we’re on track, we feel comfortable in an environment encouraging growth.

Do as you say you shall, be with your preferred prospective community and engage, support better engagement and be ready for business with specific messages.

People are the key to getting us where we wish to be. It pays to get together.

That glittering prize …

Living by the coast, I spend much of my spare time along the shore-line. The combination of energy by the sea, oxygen in abundance, space, the solitude and of course, the dog are a great combination for inspiration.

I inadvertently scour the shoreline for washed-ashore treasure. Just fragments of colour glistening amongst the sand and pebbles perhaps, the cast-off once loved bits and pieces. The sunlight draws me in and catches them and I’m always tempted to pick them up and slip them into the pocket. It’s become a bit of a routine now.

You can picture it can’t you? The dog bounds aways one direction while I’m stuttering along, picking up pieces of broken ‘treasure’ in the hope of discovering the best piece yet.

Much to the dismay of Mrs Kenny (known as the ‘better half’) I’ve managed to now gather a really healthy collection of ‘pocket trinkets’ that are regularly brought to her attention as they somehow manage to confound the spin dryer …

A little like networking?

No, not the spin dryer! I do spend a good deal of time with my network colleagues, it has become another routine. The routine here though is keeping an eye out for the glittering prize of referral, all shapes, all types of referral.

These come along through a developed understanding that when I’m ‘on the patch,’ when I’m attending The Forum I have the opportunity to hear what others are looking out for. Learning how can I help them, where might I find the prize they look for. I’m learning to keep an eye and an ear open for those friends I see on a regular basis.

Good referrals, treasure, do not come along readily enough for some. Maybe it’s because they don’t frequent their patch often enough? This is often the case when people errantly declare “networking doesn’t work for me.” Of course, these miss out, they are not available to give and receive, or perhaps they have yet to determine exactly what prizes others seek.

Know what treasure do you seek? Make the networking routine, embrace the structure and the opportunity of picking up the not so perfect and understand that we are learning, training our senses for the time we recognise the glittering prize.


Brian D. Powell was born in York in 1932. and as a young boy, he frequently accompanied his grandfather down by the River Ouse.

With Britains involvement in WW2 Brian spent many a day ‘sculling’ the (mostly) servicemen/women back and forth across the river. It was during 1944 that Brian Powell, budding artist, spent a day sketching the ‘traffic’ upon the water at the Leeman Road Ferry. There’s a copy of that very scene, opposite.

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Leaving school, Brian completed an electrical apprenticeship, then national service before joining the Fire Service for a career that was to last 30 years. It wasn’t long before Brian rediscovered his passion for art and in 1965 he produced a watercolour depiction of the aforementioned original. This watercolour was presented to a cousin who kept it in the family for over fifty years, until his passing. The painting, along with the contents of his house then went to charity …

At around the time of the house clearance, Pauline Sturchfield and her husband were looking for something that little bit different and found Brian’s watercolour. The condition of the canvas was ‘a little worse for wear’ although they immediately fell in love with the depiction of life by the river, an ideal addition to their home collection as it reminded them of their time ‘sailing’ on the River Ouse. It was only recently that Pauline decided to find out a little more about the artist and the painting.

Brian Powell, today aged 87, lives and paints in Northumberland. He is an active member of his local art community and regularly exhibits his work … never did he think he would have someone contact him, asking for verification of a painting produced – in 1965 … but to his surprise and to Pauline’s credit, this was exactly what Pauline Sturchfield did.

Although, little did Pauline know, that Brian also had a surprise for her! He was still in possession of that original sketch from where the watercolour was painted. Dated 1944.

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I know what you are thinking dear reader, a good ‘yarn’ perhaps? Simply another example of coincidence, serendipity?

I prefer to think of this as a wonderful example of friendships forged by simply reaching out, or how art has that ability to bind a community together. Don’t you think?

FOOTNOTE … Brian D. Powell is not only an accomplished artist. During his time in the Cumbria Fire Service, he was responsible for some of the more profound innovations in health and safety. Brian is recognised as the inventor of today’s portable life raft, the fire safety door, decontamination chamber, HGV anti-spillage valve and much more. He is credited with saving dozens of lives, appeared on BBC television’s Tomorrow’s World and inducted as a fellow of the National Geographic Society. He has published his story, widely available, “Thoughts Of A Watercolour Artist.”

The lessons of the past

Britain’s tribal inhabitants first arrived sometime during the 2nd century. A time of identity, belonging and ownership. There were unseen lines of territory leading to tribal disputes, warfare and wholesale cultural disposition.

Sound familiar?

Here’s an excerpt from a book by a brand new writer…

= starts =

The Selgovae were among the first of Britains tribes, occupying the chalk hills of the North East of England, the Cheviot.

One Roman writer described the Selgovae warrior in this way, saying:

‘Each warrior dons on his head the face mask of a wolf as he wears the pelt like a cloak on his back. Warriors colour their body to match that pelt, chest, arms, legs. He even goes to the extent that the sturdy hill pony he rides is coloured the same, making the ‘warrior wolf ‘ and pony appear as one large, almost mystical, fearsome opponent. Before battle the Selgovae holy man would call to their God when the mists would descend their Chalk mountain, shrouding the lands in that Kingdom of Calchfynydd, where Selgovae enemies were soon terrified by their own imagining of what was before them, the Selgovae lands presented a frightening, inhospitable landscape, for in these mists supernatural things would happen.’

. . .

Tea had finished, everything washed up and put away. All those staying at the shepherd’s cottage that evening settled down in front of the remnants of a still flickering fire and listened, as the Selgovae storyteller continued:

. . .

Today’s glorious spring day was waning as the couple paused by their destination, the imposing entrance to a magnificent Norman cathedral. They had arrived but were unsure. Beyond the threshold was the same comfort and shelter offered to all over the centuries and as they stepped within, the last rays of sunshine filtered through the rose windows, illuminating their entrance toward the pulpit of this Great House of God.

‘Take my hand, our instincts shall guide us, she whispered, we’ve been invited here and whoever sent for us knows that we have arrived.’

= ends =

—– the above is an excerpt from soon to be published series of factually based work supporting the work of Alzheimers Research (UK) —-

Have faith, learn from our past. We shall know when we have arrived!

When our bird has flown

Growing up in Australia, I’ve known Diane Merrick’s family since I was a youngster, she and her brothers were always sharing our apple tree, the mischief.

Here’s part of the story when catching up with Diane, some 15 years later:

‘So Charlie, picture this, February 1971, I’m 20 years and 3 months old, six weeks into my senior year of nursing as I find myself deep in the Vietnamese jungle – the so-called ‘wrong’ jungle. Our ‘ride’ had flown and left the two of us.

Cradled in my arms is a US Marine (a Grunt) not much older than myself but with a hole through his stomach the diameter of the ‘bud’ can, he was clutching. The wound is clean, I’m able to see my left boot curled below us where we sit. 

Nothing is heard above the cacophony of exploding shells, cartridges whirring about our heads. I don’t see anything but the pleading, blood-shot blue of my ‘patient’s’ eyes, an expression of disbelief as he uttered ‘they got me, the b—–ds shot me.’

I held him … don’t give up, please don’t give up.’

I can still see those eyes today, mine was the last face he saw, I was caring for that man as he died …

Silence. I had nothing to say.

I was sat beside Diane Merrick’s hospital bed, forty-one years on, she presents a slight figure with eyes that burn with determination, she is almost enveloped amongst the tubes, the ‘lifelines’ that monitor and maintain her position, propped-up amongst the linen.

Sitting almost adjacent me, on the other side of the bed, is Paul, her husband, a slightly older, equally determined-looking, weather-worn fellow

Charlie, I’m almost 63 years of age, I’m ill and told I’m dying, said Diane. Turning toward her husband she added, I want our story put down, I want you to write my story because I’m not ready for giving up.

Diane Merrick, an independent young woman, a nurse who took to the armed forces for economic reasons during the Vietnam War wants her story told,  ‘before I forget.’ 

“Where’s our bird?” is the story of Diane Merrick, published Spring 2020.

Never give up.

I remember you!

Networking works, yet for some, it simply does not.

Reputations, integrity through your business community greatly influences your opportunity for success, so there is a little work to do once we decide we’re going to give this networking thing a go … most of us wish to be seen in the best light.

I wonder if he’s here either to develop the audience or simply the quick fix?

Sure you can have both, we’re all sales-people of one kind or another, right? Here’s where the engagement matters.

For the real benefits of business networking to become more apparent we simply need to be working on the fundamentals.

Today’s networking is full of those looking for instant success, it’s to be expected, the D.I.Y marketing opportunity is at everyone’s fingertips, the multitude of social platforms and more, we’re all driven to sign up, show and tell, the selly-sell.

Personally? I make my most important business decisions with those I know best, those whom I can engage, discuss in person over a decent coffee. OK, the cake also …

It’s choices, we all have choices.

Attending the network meeting day we choose to either ‘wing it’ for the instance order or ‘go with the flow.’  We’ve received the invitation to attend the appointment, meet with new people, potential colleagues, we choose whether to accept that appointment, we either embrace the structured environment for the long term plan of relationships and trust or simply take the meeting as a given opportunity (it’s that word again, opportunity) for a little incidental business.

It’s through our choosing how we engage, choices who we work with, how we treat others, the time that we give or do not, the follow-up and so much more, all of this contributes to how we are perceived.

Networking works for those who give time working on the opportunity. The opportunity to define the reputation.

Think about how you may be perceived? Hunter or farmer?

The conjurer

My offer? My business?  It’s simple.

Help others put more wins on the board. When people become more successful as a by-product of something I’ve provided, that’s a win for me. When they are not so successful? I’ll try to think of other ways to help those in need.

There is no trickery, it’s pretty straightforward stuff.

There is though, something that will always upset ‘the apple cart’ here.

If people don’t know me well enough, they are not going to believe my offer.

That is the problem. It’s everyone else’s problem in life also, isn’t it? We’re worried that people don’t have our best interests at heart, we worry that someone who acts with kindness, maybe isn’t that kind. They can’t be can they??

It’s the same in business, given that we’re worried about trust in all avenues of life, there is no easy answer. There is though, a word that conjures up hope.


I’m one of those guys that believe people are all inherently good people. I act as if everyone has my best interest at heart the way I have theirs. I act as if what people tell me is the absolute truth, no question, no hesitation. This helps me with lots of situations.


But there are other things that people conjure:

They will cheat on you.

People will lie!

There are people around who take glee in doing stuff behind your back that isn’t so good …

I accept that it is going to happen, we know it, it’s part of ‘the deal.’

My response to this? I have faith that people will treat me the way I treat them.

I have faith that by doing enough – if not, more than enough and by going out of my way to help people then I’m going to be conjuring up the positive that will come my way over time.

Naive perhaps?

Faith. Our thoughts create reality, make sure you conjure really fabulous thoughts!


Image.  Tony Rabbit. Courtesy Joe Scarano (US)

Make it special …



I really don’t know how to pitch the room today, Charlie. 

Do as you usually do Tom, continue the education, enlightenment.

Should I tell them about the new business I’m thinking about, after all the presentation is only a couple of minutes and I’ve plenty of main business just now, should I drop in something new?

That depends on how you wish to be seen, how you would like to be remembered Tom.

This is just a side-line Charlie, it’s something that might prove interesting to one or two, a different angle to my presentation.

Does this new side-line complement the existing core business Tom? If so, I’m sure your audience would find value in learning more about you, you’ve been informing the room for a few months now, most of us are familiar with your professional offer and should now be in a position to refer you.

Although, if this new offer is completely different, then personally I’d be careful you don’t spoil all that ground work laid down during recent engagement.

Let’s try not cloud the water Tom.


If it were down to me I’d be inclined to concentrate on the core business and save the new introduction until the one to one meeting. In fact, here’s a great opportunity to enlighten your referral partners with company news, diversity perhaps. Invite them to sit down with you after the meeting.

Ask their opinion.

So you think I should stick to the regular intro., incorporating a hint of new company developments within the presentation, generating interest that way?

If it’s important, why not Tom. I’d continue to deliver the specialist that is you, what we’ve come to expect and then invite the one to one ‘selected colleagues’ to meet and to learn more about the broader offer, new developments. Make it special.

Maintain the expertise in your offer Tom, most of us are able to offer much more than the core business Tom … think about who we prefer to work with. It’s the expert in their given field right?

There are plenty of part-time, handy-man offers out there Tom and personally I’d be wary of asking the handy-man plumber to tend my electrics, wouldn’t you?

Be the expert, make it special.

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