The Monday Morning Quote #47


“They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

Andy Warhol

I Fall Down But I Get Up Again

Sometimes I love the synchronicity of life.  I have to admit to feeling a little sorry for myself after having to undergo a ranting boll***ing from someone yesterday. The individual concerned had a choice between asking questions and adopting cb’s “blame a system not a person” philosophy or having a go at two separate individuals without trying to discover the truth from them. He chose the latter and my respect for him plummeted; I am merely human and was feeling reduced by the experience.

Then in the next couple of hours this wonderful video came to my attention, not once but twice. First from Paul Newton’s blog then via Jack Black’s newsletter.

Take a few minutes to watch.

Tesco ignore maverick TD Ned’s ultimatum!

I have a home and a large part of my heart in West Cork. During the past decade the beast that is Tesco has got a foothold on Ireland and gradually applied its normal business practices to the Republic’s Farmers. At last they are starting to see things clearly.

From “The Southern Star” previously the Skibbereen Eagle

STRIKING Tesco supermarket workers have a most unusual ally: Ned O’Keeffe, the maverick TD, Biffo scourge and pig farmer.

But unlike the striking Bolshies who simply want a better deal, Nedo is demanding that the British owned Tesco chain clear out of the country. We don’t want them, he says, because they’ve put the squeeze on Irish farmers by seeking cuts of up to 20% in the price of food produce. “That’s disgraceful carry-on,” he complained.

Worse still, Ned warns that if we continue to consume the stuff Tesco sells a ‘long-term impact on Irish diets’ could follow. Last month he rhetorically asked if these were the kind of products that Irish people wanted to purchase instead of the higher-quality Irish products.

So, he argues, it would be better for everyone if Tesco ‘were to leave Ireland altogether.’ Other supermarkets would fill the gap. This would lead to less exploitation of Irish farmers and of those who work in the Irish food production sector.

Interestingly, while Nedo waxed lyrical about the plight of the poor farmer, it never seemed to cross his mind that the poor Tesco worker was also suffering.

As the former mini-minister waved the green flag, workers at the Cork Douglas store were facing lay-offs. They had been warned such was their fate if they did not accept eroded terms and conditions when the company moved to a new store in the same Douglas Village Shopping Centre.

In response, the shop assistants’ Mandate union threatened strike action. When the 85 workers began to picket the store, the company was taken aback at the support the strikers got from shoppers and quickly caved in.


That was in April. Now another strike is looming but this time it will be nationwide. In 19 shops across the country, Some 1,200 staff will walk out on July 2, followed by two further strike days on July 9th and 10th. The point at issue is cutbacks in working hours.

Mandate alleges that low-paid shop assistants on 25 to 30-hour contracts have had their hours unnecessarily reduced below the minimum amount agreed in contract. Some workers, says the union, have had more than €100 knocked off their wages.

“We will not accept companies playing off the recession and we will fight to maintain and improve the living standards of our members”, said Mandate assistant general secretary Linda Tanham.

For its part Tesco claims any reduction in staffing hours are as a result of adverse trading patterns. It says that a strike at this time would be ‘particularly disappointing because of the huge price reduction programme that it introduced and which will lead to more hours being offered to staff, plus greater job security.’

While the supermarket giant has a knack of generating negative publicity, it also has supporters because of the 13,500 jobs it provides, the cheap food and the convenience. Government ministers have no qualms about officially opening new Tesco stores, even though Tesco’s monopoly and power to stifle smaller retailers, such as butchers, bakers, and small supermarkets can rip the heart out of a local community.

Ireland, however, has been good for Tesco. Irish profits are projected to rise to €255 million this year, a fact that has not deterred the company from downgrading its Irish head office in Dun Laoghaire and outsourcing much of the work to India.

Last May, Tesco got a pat on the head from Biffo’s government after it reduced prices in 11 stores near the border. Yet, despite the price cuts, goods in Tesco’s other Irish stores still remain 13.2 percent dearer than in the UK and 0.5 percent higher than Dunnes. The National Consumer Agency called for price reductions in all of Tesco’s Irish stores.

But what got up Ned O’Keeffe’s nose was that the price cuts came with a nasty kick. Neither he, the IFA nor the food and drink industry were happy, claiming that, in tandem with the reductions in border shops, Tesco was seeking price cuts of up to 20% from Irish suppliers.


The Organic Farmers and Growers Association said Tesco was seeking reductions of up to 40% from organic suppliers. And then there was the spectacle of frustrated potato farmers bursting into a meeting of Tesco managers in Ashbourne to protest at what they alleged was a Tesco tactic to pack imported potatoes in bags similar to those that carry Irish produce.

The IFA says Tesco’s real agenda is to push Irish food processors, farmers and growers into the frontline in the latest round of supermarket wars. Its president, Padraig Walshe, said there was deep anger over the retail giant’s decision to displace local, quality produce with imports.

“Growers cannot stay in business because of Tesco’s ruthless pursuit of profit and market share,” he said. “The persistent pressure on the price paid to the producer will inevitably lead to thousands of job losses and will put Irish producers of local, fresh produce out of business.”


Fine Gael’s agriculture spokesman Michael Creed compared Ireland’s retail sector to the ‘wild west’ and commented that Irish suppliers were ‘led to the slaughter by the multiples’. He pointed out that multiples had a 177% mark-up for milk.

Even the incompetent Tanaiste Mary Coughlan rowed into the controversy by promising a code of practice to “regulate the relationship between suppliers and retailers.” Of course, all the interested parties greeted that gem of wisdom with loud guffaws for the nonsense that it was.

In the meantime it would be nice, perhaps, if Ned, the IFA and the food suppliers spent less time moaning about the demise of Irish pastoral life and sought some kind of common ground with the hard-pressed cloth cap brigade – and with Tesco.


A chap from Drogheda, Thomas Leddy, is fed up with bad news, moaning Minnies, whining politicos, snivelling journos and the general mass of complaining, querulous people who make up the body politic.

So he’s launched a ‘Good News Only’ campaign. It goes like this: the media should publish how many jobs have been saved, instead of the number of jobs lost; a complete ban on reporting job losses for one week should take place; media reptiles should tell jokes instead of writing about doom and gloom; the media also should get the punter to buy more because the more that’s spent, the more people will keep their jobs.

Great idea! So, from now on dear reader, instead of buying one copy of The Southern Star every week, buy two. And that’s our first joke!

10 Ways To Help You Get Funding From Your Bank

The website is a another useful resource for existing and would be business owners. This article is an example of one of their good lists.

10 Ways To Help You Get Funding From Your Bank

By Guy Rigby, Director & Head of Entrepreneurs, Smith & Williamson

Getting funding from your bank isn’t nearly as straightforward as it used to be. If you’re an entrepreneur or growing company relying on bank finance, maintaining a positive relationship with your bank is more critical than ever.

Here are 10 ways to inspire confidence in your bank and help you get the funding you need:

1. Invest time and energy in communication. Treat the bank as an integral part of your team. Banks that fully understand your business are far more likely to be able to assist in the event of need.

2. Understand who and what you are dealing with. It’s not just your bank manager — in the current climate the credit underwriter is charged with protecting banks’ weakened balance sheets and they are adopting tighter lending criteria.

3. Focus on your key business issues, both positive and negative. A well thought out credit proposition addressing the issues which are critical to lenders is essential. It will help you negotiate better terms and pricing.

4. Take advice. In the current climate there is no doubt that banks are comforted by the use of specialist advisers who can add credibility to your proposition.

5. Be proactive with business updates. Voluntarily provide regular copies of business plans, financial projections and reports before you are asked.

6. Maintain a ‘no surprises’ policy. Build trust and keep your bank informed of any potential threats. Let the bank know of anticipated funding needs as early as possible. You need to arrange financing much earlier than previously to avoid experiencing your own ‘credit crunch’.

7. Be professional. Make sure information is accurate and plan ahead carefully for any meetings, especially when seeking or renewing debt facilities. Your presentation should be detailed, realistic, show an appreciation of the risks and how these can be mitigated. Focus on the positive but recognise weaknesses and set out actions to address them.

8. Be consistent. Provide reliable information and supporting numbers which are comparable over different time periods. Poor quality financial information will lead the banks to assume the worst.

9. Take care not to breach covenants and deliver financial information in good time, as covenant waiver fees are being enforced. Perception is usually regarded as reality, so don’t create a bad one.

10. Be realistic. As banks are trying to rebuild their balance sheets they are looking to reduce exposure, increase margins and fees and tighten covenants. Be sure that the lending structure requested is sensible and consider whether the overall circumstances may warrant price increases or changes to historic terms and conditions.

Guy Rigby – 020 7131 8213

Many thanks to Greg Begley at GGW Corporate Services for his contribution to this article. GGW Corporate Services provides corporate debt advisory services to medium-sized public and private companies, including arranging new and/or increased facilities, restructuring existing credit lines, refinancing and renegotiating terms, pricing and covenants.
Greg Begley – 020 7131 4891

Jimmy Steele’s Report 1) It’s out

The report has been released today (all 88 pages of it) and will be available from the DoH website & here ASAP.

Download from here.

Some comments:



I’m afraid that this will make very little difference to the provision of NHS care. The fact remains that the provision of dentistry is expensive and the repeated attempts of HMG to prove otherwise is only done to the detriment of the dental health of the “public”.

I’ll write more when I have read the report fully.

The Monday Morning Quote #46 The Years Thunder By……

This feature is usually short and to the point designed to make the readers (and me) think as we start our working week. This week it’s longer, a piece written by Sterling Hayden. I have this printed and hanging on my study wall. It has always resonated with me and I hope it will with you too.

The Years Thunder By…..

To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… cruising, it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about. I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of security. And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

10 Things I Know About Great Work by Michael Bungay-Stanier

A recent email from Michael Bungay-Stanier regarding his “Find Your Great Work” project. If you aren’t familiar with this do have a look at Michael’s websites.

1. That Good Work is endless … and constantly tugs at our shirt, pulling us back into busy-ness and routine.  Regular pruning recommended.

2. That you can’t do Great Work by yourself.  It’s too lonely, too hard – and too limiting.  Get the right people to come and play.

3. That it’s worth stopping to celebrate.  Celebrate successes, because you’ve worked to get there.  Celebrate failures, because they teach you.

4. Great Work is stepping into the unknown.  No wonder you get that little ball of anxiety.  That’s a good thing.  It tells you you’re on the right path.

5. Don’t take it too seriously.  C’mon.  Lighten up.

6. Plans don’t work.  But planning is a useful thing to do.  So don’t worry when your plan doesn’t work out.  It was never likely to.

7. Saying No gets easier.  Sometimes all you need to do is delay saying Yes for a bit, and the No just shows up.

8. We all have our signature patterns – making the same mistake again and again.  Don’t beat yourself up about it too much.  You’re getting better at it.

9. Figuring out what you want and then asking for it (knowing that the answer may be No) gets you a long long way.

10. Don’t trust advice.  Or top 10 lists.

The Wisdom Questions

  • What do you know to be true about your Great Work?
  • What’s different now you’ve read FYGW and done this e-course?
  • What do you know is the next step for you to take?

Here’s to your Great Work,


Michael Bungay Stanier
The Home Office
137 Marion St
Toronto, ON M6R 1E6

Roz Savage – Ocean Rower – “I Am What I Am”

roz_mainI became aware of Roz Savage about 12 months ago. To describe her as an adventurer hardly does her justice. In 2005 she left her job as a management consultant and started a new life by rowing across the Atlantic. She has followed that by starting a row across the Pacific and last year she made the first leg from San Francisco to Hawaii. In May 2009 she set off in her boat, Brocade, to cross the remainder going from East to West. Her final destination is unknown as she relies on winds and tides to carry her.

You can follow her progress on her blog, twitter or podcast.

Without doubt she is a one-off and an example to all of getting out of your comfort zone. (This piece was first published in the Sunday Times, 23 April 2006.)

I Am What I Am

“The thoughts and philosophies of Roz Savage, an impressive ocean-rowing adventurer.

  • Don’t waste mental energy asking yourself if you CAN do something. Just do it. You’ll surprise yourself. I did.
  • Be clear about your objectives. Ignore others, stay true to yourself and measure success only against your own criteria. I was last to finish the race – big deal. I went out there to learn about myself, and I did.
  • The only constant in life is change. So don’t get depressed by the bad times, and don’t get over-excited by good ones. Accept that things are exactly as they are, and even bad times have something to teach us.
  • Life can be magical, but magic only gets you so far. Then you need discipline, determination and dedication to see it through.
  • Hope can hurt. The danger is that you hope for too much and set yourself up for disappointment. Be optimistic but realistic. Nothing is ever as good or as bad as you expect it to be.
  • Be mindful of the link between present action and desired future outcome. Ask yourself: if I repeat today’s actions 365 times, will I be where I want to be in a year?
  • Decision-making: act in faith, not fear, and don’t worry about making a ‘wrong’ decision – the way you implement it is more important than the decision itself.
  • Be your own best friend. The more you rely on other people, the less control you have over your destiny.
  • Be proud of your own obituary: a few years ago I wrote two versions of my obituary, the one I wanted and the one I was heading for. They were very different. I realized I needed to make some big changes if I was going to look back and be proud of my life. I am making those changes, and now I have a life worth living.”

Why is the NHS so?


I have an eye infection, I became a ware that the upper lid of my left eye was swollen on Monday evening. I rinsed it with Optrex on Monday and yesterday (Tuesday) but the lid stayed red, swollen and sore and overnight it worsened.

So this morning I rang “MY” medical practice at 8.35 to be answered by a voice which assured me that my call was valuable, that they were aware that I was waiting, that someone would deal with my call as soon as possible and I was 4th, 3rd then 2nd in the queue. Finally top of the list after 6 minutes and the message changed; now I had to make a choice between wanting to make an appointment with a doctor or speak to a nurse. Button 1 pressed for the doctor; progress at last.

Not so fast Rees, it’s another message and I’m at the back of another queue. This time I was fifth in line but I was equally valued, the music was the same, the message still anodyne. Slowly but steadily I climbed the list and this time I got a human being. Only 11 minutes spent there then.

“Good morning this is Alun Rees; I think I have an eye infection, would it be possible to see a doctor today please?”

“You can’t make an appointment to see a doctor, give me your number and the triage doctor will call you back within half an hour.”

After the queueing system another wait, is it any surprise that people get frustrated with medical staff.

Sure enough at 8.55 the call came, quick chat with the doctor, symptoms, history & good follow up questions. “Can you come down straight away?” asked the medic, so off I went. On arrival at the practice it was time to lock horns with the guardian of the gate who had been kept out of the loop by her boss.

“Hello I’m Alun Rees I spoke to Dr Fab a few minutes ago and he told me to come straight down.” I reported with a smile. Big mistake, and as it happens a complete waste of a smile, because at no time did she look at my face let alone make eye contact.

“Have you got an appointment?”

“Well Dr Fab told me to come straight down when I spoke to him 5 minutes ago.”

“What was your name?” from between tight lips.

“Alun Rees” recalling the last time I was called and asked to come as soon as possible only to be kept waiting the early half hour and then another half an hour past my original appointment time.

“Take a seat on the left.”

“Thank you so much.” (Think Basil Fawlty)

After a wait of maybe 3 minutes I was greeted by Dr Fab, taken into his room, examined, diagnosed, prescribed and my thanks given.

Time between calling surgery and getting to speak to doc 30 minutes. Time between speaking to doc and leaving practice with prescription 15 minutes.

Next comes the pharmacy experience. Hand in prescription, do I pay? yes I do. Well it’s £7.20 for the ointment as an NHS item but £5.55 if you buy it as a private item. Funny I don’t remember it being that easy to sell private treatment v NHS treatment in dental practice but I have no doubt that it will happen soon enough with the NHS in such a deep financial mire.

OK, is it me or could that all have been done more logically?

Get Everything Done – Mark Forster


It seems to be the bane of everyone’s life at some stage and has had more books written about it than anything elase I can think of – wassat? “Time Mangement”.

Mark Forster has devoted a lot of time wrestling with his and everyone else’s time management and personal organisation problems and has written three books on the subject.

His most recent scheme is the Autofocus System. Alrady translated into 16 languages this is worth a look if you’re struggling with personal management issues.

Complete instructions on Mark’s Website.

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