Holiday humour on the origins of FM


Dateline August 31st 2415

Data-archaeologists today unveiled new evidence into the origins of Facilities Management (FM). Whilst for nearly three centuries the discipline of FM has been the core of governance and commerce throughout the civilised world little has been known of its origins, but evidence gleaned from the period between 400 and 450 years ago may offer some insights. Read more…

presentational skills, or a lack thereof


I do a fair bit of training in this area, often built into course on other topics, but when a client recently asked me about running a course I suggested that, as someone that regularly attends presentations, all that she needed to do was to learn from all of the mistakes that you commonly see made. Read more…

life lessons from a blind cat


A few months ago we noticed that our cat Tilly was a bit odd, or odder than usual, and then one evening she went out for her nine o’clock patrol and wasn’t back after the usual twenty minutes or so. Two hours later and after a couple of sessions checking the neighbourhood I started to come to terms with having lost her at which point she appeared back at the door. Read more…

Customer service at its worst


One of my businesses buys and sells collectable items and is well established now after almost thirty years of international trading. Part of that trading has been to use a well know internet book shop through which we sell, appropriately enough, collectable books. Read more…

objecting to objectives


We achieve our strategic goals by setting objectives and using them to motivate our teams to succeed; who would argue with that? Well me for a start. Read more…

Lift Etiquette


I wrote recently in my diary column about lift etiquette in other countries and one or two people have asked me what I meant. Read more…

when in Rome…


Adapting to local customs is one of the joys of travel and I have always tried to get under the skin of places whenever I have been somewhere new.

I have been very lucky in that the vast majority of my travel over the last forty odd years has been on business and working somewhere does tend to open up things that might get missed as a tourist. The downside is that, when working, you often miss the tourist highlights but, on balance, I wouldn’t swap.

Much of my early travel was within the UK and I have been to most of it along the way by train, ‘plane and car (or truck). During my time as a salaried man I did get to see some foreign trips to France, The Netherlands and Germany it was not until more recently as a freelance that I’ve got to go further afield and in the last couple of years I have worked in Columbia, Libya, China (twice) and Thailand; a lucky bloke really.

The one thing that links all of the places I have been to is the hospitality and courtesy of the people that I have met. Sure there have been a few folks that I haven’t got on with, but the overwhelming marority have been a joy despite the language barriers. I am naturally curious and like to take an interest and that is a big help; in Thailand I found a market next to my hotel and asked the ladies in the office what they would recommend I should try in the way of local fruit. Within the hour I had four plates of assorted fruit on my desk to sample.

Even in some of the more troubled places life has to go on and, for example, whilst Belfast in the eighties was somewhere that many of my colleagues would not go near I loved the place and the people and have been delighted to go back ever since. Libya was also a wonderful experience and everything that I had read about Arab courtesy and hospitality was confirmed on my trip there. It is a shame that the situation there has precluded me going back on a follow up visit and to see more of the country, but I will be back if the chance comes.

Fitting in with other people’s customs and ways of behaving and fitting in helps  to understand and gives you a sense of perspective. From Bogota to Belfast to Bangkok to Beijing there are people getting on with life. They might have different forms of government, worship (or not) diffrent Gods, use different languages and eat different foods, but if you treat them with respect and take an interest in their lives they will pay you back many times over. 

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