Smoke and Mirrors

Enron is a name that is synonymous with scandal, corruption, greed and arrogance. Its collapse in 2001 left 20,000 employees out of work and $1.2 billion missing from their retirement funds.

In its heyday Enron was the poster-child of Wall Street. A true stock-market darling, reporting revenues of $100 billion and shares trading at an eye-watering 55 times earnings. It was America’s 7th largest corporation and valued in excess of $70 billion.

Analysts everywhere praised the organisation for its game-changing approaches. Fortune magazine named it “Most Innovative Company” six years in a row. Its trading floors were packed full of the smartest and brightest minds. Enron was a force to be reckoned with.
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Shattering Expectations

Picture the scene. You are the chairman of a major British corporation. You’ve arrived promptly at the offices of a new supplier, eager to hear their pitch for your prestigious business.

You hate incompetence and command respect. You have very exacting standards. You’ve even been knighted for your services to British industry. People address you as “Sir”.

As the office doors open, you can hardly believe your eyes. Your expectations are shattered. Instead of an enthusiastic welcome, you are greeted by an unoccupied, scruffy, smoke filled reception.
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Understand Me. Understand My Business.

The world is changing at a dramatic pace. Never has there been a more critical time to really understand who your customer is, and how you truly benefit them.

I’ve always been fascinated by the recruitment industry. I think like estate agency, or used car sales it can sometimes be painted in a negative light. Agents willing to take on any old job, for any old client; bombarding hiring managers with a barrage of CV’s which only slightly fit the client’s specification. As someone responsible for recruiting talent, I’ve lost count at the number of times I’ve received an unsolicited cold-call from a nervous sounding voice, asking if “I’ve got any vacancies”.
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The Art of Transparency

My good friend Crispin recently sold an unwanted motorbike via eBay. Here’s his listing in full:

Here is my unloved Kawasaki KDX 125 for sale – its PINK and GREEN. You need to be a confident person to ride this bike or you will have your dinner money stolen. I purchased it as a spare bike (I had a WR450) back in 2005 and have not really used it – just the odd trip to work.

I hold a number of MOT certificates, the first runs from 19th July 2001 and details the bike has done 8307KM. The current reading is 10450KM but I do remember having to replace a speedo cable a few years ago as the speedo was not working so its probably done a few more KM’s – maybe 200ish more. I also did some work on it a while back and couldn’t work out where the indicator relay needed to go back to so its stuffed into the side panel. I also lost one of the rear foot pegs – well I think it fell off! Read more

The Dog’s Gone Senile

There were just two of us that started Neocol back in 2003. I took care of sales and marketing, and my partner took care of the clever, technical stuff. When we began, we didn’t have that much capital. To boot, we had zero customers and not one member of staff to assist us. We made up for these shortcomings with a whole bunch of enthusiasm, energy, and creative ideas.

We had spotted a niche, and knew our friends over at IBM had some technology to address it. IBM was slow to realise what they had, so we effectively took the proposition to market for them.

After some persistent drum beating and clever marketing, we started to attend joint customer meetings. We had researched heavily, therefore on many occasions we actually ended up knowing more about IBM’s proposition than the IBM sales people accompanying us!
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My journey to a client’s office this morning took 4 hours. To drive 60 miles! It wasn’t as if I hadn’t prepared; in fact I had allowed nearly 2 hours for a journey which normally takes me around an hour 20.

Even though I had prepared by knowing the exact route and allowing more than adequate time, I failed. Just goes to show, preparation doesn’t guarantee success. After sitting in queued traffic on a motorway slip for what seemed like an eternity, I cut my losses – giving up on the time I had committed to the queue and proceeded to drive another 25 miles to cut around the traffic and eventually arrive at my destination.

Preparation is key to any new venture. However, just because you’ve built a plan doesn’t mean it’s going to work the way you have mapped out. Knowing when to change course, take avoiding action or even turn around and start again fresh another day is vital for achieving success.