Monthly Archives: October 2012


So, I Don’t Have a Fireplace Anymore

Well, I guess technically I do, but it’s a propane thing we leave on the back patio for those evenings we want to keep our feet warm while we look at the stars.

My real wood burning fireplace was left when I gave my house of 23 years to my then wife and kids..

Let us just say that that house is where my friends Rob and Leslie shared life with us for years as we were all growing up to be “adults.”  Rob had his love that he worked so hard for, and I had mine.  We ended up marrying both of our “projects” and having lovely children and reasonably happy lives.  Probably far happier in retrospective, than they were while we were going through some of the trials, but isn’t that the way of life.  If anyone described childbirth accurately, nobody would ever have sex, but after its over, the memories are warm.

As far as Leslie is concerned, I’m surprised we stayed such good friends, as I called her Stephanie half the time.  Through the magic of FaceBook, we got to know each other again pretty well the past couple of years.

I am writing by the grace of Harrys Hof Brau, by the beautiful fireplace that they have provided. Today it is apparently exclusively for my self centered solace.  I am in shock.

I got the news today that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Leslie, has passed on.  She was not in the best of health, but the circumstances have left us all numb.  She was walking up a staircase, fell backwards and never recovered from her coma. She was in her 40’s with a loving husband and two wonderful kids. I was the “best man” at their wedding.  It is a pretty stark wakeup call, but if nothing else it helps put things in perspective.  It is skillful to consider these things when we are caught up in our own “shit.”

I sit in frustration for my current wife, as she desperately struggles to understand why my daughters, their aunts and uncles, etc. cannot get along long enough to have a holiday meal together. This is the kind of shit that would have occupied my thoughts for the majority of the day.

I also sit in humble appreciation, by the fireplace at Harry’s, that we have houses to invite people to, that we have reasonable health, and that we have good friends.  Especially when we lose one so suddenly and tragically, it makes all of the dribble regarding where we spend Thanksgiving seem incredibly inconsequential.

Be nice to people, hug everybody you see.  We have no idea when our number will be called, and if they went by merit I’d be long gone so count every day as another opportunity to make things right.  You might not ever get there, like I might not ever get there with ex in-laws or my girls, but one thing is for sure.  If you don’t try, you sure as hell won’t ever do it.

God be with you Les.  You will be missed by more than you can count. God be with those you left behind, because your absence will be felt more than you ever could have known.  I’ll miss your FB updates.  Love you ‘sis.

Her last post on FB




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Insolvency: A Guide For Businesses

Almost certainly every business believes it will be successful when it starts out but unfortunately, a frighteningly high


number fail, frequently for reasons beyond their control.

Certainly the fragile global economy has stretched more companies than ever in recent years and sadly this has meant that an increasing number of firms have had to face the spectre of insolvency.

However, although the word insolvency is often bandied around accompanied by a cold twist of fear, not many people know exactly what it means and what the implications are. Here’s a quick rundown of the key facts that you need to understand about insolvency if you are in business.

What is it exactly?

Insolvency is an umbrella term used to describe the situation where either a business or a private individual can no longer meet their financial commitments as and when they become due. Far more serious than just a temporary shortage in cash flow which let’s face it, is something mo

st people have faced at one time or another, it refers to a situation which is unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future.

Insolvency and bankruptcy are two words which are often used interchangeably but technically, this is not correct. Bankruptcy refers to a petition which is taken to court and the status legally declared, either with or without the individual’s consent. Bankruptcy is just one of many possible routes for insolvent individuals.

There are many different insolvency solutions and bankruptcy – or liquidation as it is known in corporate terms – does not necessarily have to be the final outcome.


How is insolvency managed?

If a business has reached the point where it is unable to continue because of financial pressures, an insolvency practitioner will become involved.

A number of companies offer this kind of service but not just anyone can set up; they must be approved and authorised. An accountancy or firm of solicitors are typically involved in acting as insolvency practitioners for distressed businesses.

What is the role of an insolvency practitioner?

Insolvency practitioners are licensed to undertake a wide range of solutions, depending on the situation the business finds itself in.

For companies which are no longer viable without some form of intervention, this means the insolvency practitioner could either be responsible for managing an administration or liquidation. Although neither are a desirable situation for a business to find themselves in, liquidation is the far worse of the two and is a death knell for the firm.

Simply put, liquidation means that there is no future and the company will cease trading immediately. All staff will lose their jobs and the assets will be broken down and sold off to the highest bidder in order to raise the most cash to pay off creditors. Liquidation is always the final step and is appropriate for companies which have no other viable options.

Going into administration is slightly different however and in some cases can end up being a positive step for the firm, strange though it may sound. Administration is a formal acknowledgement that a business is seriously ‘ill’ and requires urgent attention if it is to avoid being permanently wound up. However, unlike liquidation, a company is usually permitted to continue trading – sometimes with caveats in place – because it is normally in the best interests of all parties.

One of the actions an insolvency practitioner may take for businesses in administration is to try and find a buyer. This ideally would be to take on the company as a whole but if this is not possible, the firm may be broken down into chunks and sold off. To get the best price, the business needs to be continuing to trade and performing as well as it can in order to seem attractive for a potential takeover.

There can still be redundancies and losses when a company enters into administration as the insolvency practitioner will take a long, hard look at the expenditure and carry out a cost benefit analysis. This could result in some parts of the business being identified as not being commercially justified. However, in the long term, if the firm survives, it should be in a far stronger market position.

Call an insolvency practitioner in early!

The idea of getting a financial expert in who is authorised to act in insolvency proceedings may sound like a scary idea but in some cases, it can be worthwhile calling them before you have reached the point of actually becoming insolvent.

For businesses facing administration, if radical steps are taken quickly enough, the necessity of having to go down the route of formal insolvency might be avoided. As well as processing formal insolvency solutions, practitioners also offer a prevention service.

This involves a detailed scrutiny of the company’s finances and identifying where the problems lie and coming up with new or creative ways to address them. If this is your business, you may well shrug off this suggestion as undoubtedly you will have spent countless hours poring over the accounts yourself. However, these people are experts and deal with insolvencies all the time and have in-depth knowledge of the law relating to this area, which may throw up possibilities you weren’t even aware existed.


If you are in business, hopefully you will never find yourself in such a serious financial predicament that your livelihood is at stake. However, if you are starting to battle to stay afloat, it is worth considering getting help sooner rather than later, as it could be the one thing that saves your company. Although many national firms offer insolvency advice, making sure you pick one with an office reasonably close to where you are located will help speed the process along, as well as keeping costs down.

Written on behalf of Birketts Chelmsford Office by Samantha Wood, contact Birketts for legal advice about insolvency.

Image credits: s_falkow and johnnytakespictures



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3 People You Should be Networking With

It’s all about networking. Most people find jobs through the people they know, or the connections they have made through formal networking opportunities. Networking is the process of forming and fostering relationships with people in specific industries. People network with all kinds of professionals, and the more they do it the more successful they will be in their career.

But who do you network with? At every turn you are advised to network but you aren’t given many specific tips on who to network with. Here are three types of people you should start networking with as soon as possible.

Your Peers

You may not think of your classmates and current coworkers as valuable connections; but they are. These people will one day be peers in your industry, and may have the power to help you find a job. Your peers are also doing internships and searching for jobs too, so they can be a great resource when it comes to job interview questions and leads. You can start connecting with your peers by taking your friendship a step up from where it is. Start talking to your peers about jobs, internships and industry experience and before you know it they will turn into valuable professional contacts.

Professionals in Your Area

Networking does take work. You should be networking with industry professionals in your area, but that can be hard to do. Start by attending networking events and applying for internships. You can also take networking to a more informal level by reaching out to professionals through common connections. You may have peers who know professionals you don’t know, and can therefore introduce you to them.

Your Professors

Look at your professors as industry experts. These people are highly knowledgeable, experienced and qualified and you are lucky to be able to brush shoulders with them. Take advantage of your education by becoming aquatinted with your professors. Don’t suck up to your teachers, but get to know their backgrounds and their areas of specialty. Some good ways to do this are to stop by their offices to get help on an assignments, ask questions about job searching or even ask them to take a look at your resume.

Networking may be the best thing you can do for your job search and eventually your career. As you get to know your peers, professionals and your professors, your circle of connections will widen. The more people you know, the more resources you will have as you look for a job after you graduate from college.

Jill Hardy writes for a website called, a site that helps students prepare for their future careers by getting the education and training they need.


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The Evolution of Customer Loyalty Programs

Marketing on many levels has tapped into the success of customer loyalty programs. The idea of building a sense of identity and interest in customers isn’t new, but with electronic data management, it’s become easier to address specific interests and needs. Stamp rewards and exchanges of yesteryear are replaced with everything from gift cards to gasoline discounts in the present. Meanwhile, games continue to provide incentives for customers to affiliate more with one business or another. However, merely offering a program doesn’t assure loyalty.

It’s important to analyze the needs of customers in developing a good loyalty program. A system that provides great rewards is more likely to produce the repeat business that is desired. Meaningless rewards, however, are unlikely to garner positive interest. In fact, poorly chosen loyalty rewards may drive customers away. Meaningful options don’t have to be overly expensive. They just have to provide value to those customers who are being targeted for repeat business.

A contrast can be drawn through consistency. The business that is consistent and dependable in administering customer loyalty programs creates an environment that allows trust to grow between consumers and the company. A customer recognizes that the rules won’t continually change. It’s important to establish guidelines and adhere to them. In doing so, a business creates a sense of stability that attracts repeat interaction on the part of the customer.

It’s especially important to recognize the place that the Internet plays in cultivating customer loyalty. Social media plays a predominant role in providing consumers with updates on special deals, sales and other activities. Integrating these methods into loyalty programs can draw more interest if it’s handled well. It’s important to keep social media interactions simple and concise. It’s also important to understand how different social venues appeal to various customers. Some are image based while others are focused on interaction. Each venue will attract a slightly different demographic, and effective interaction and promotion requires some study of the way in which each venue is used by one’s clientele.

The use of smartphones is causing some transitions in customer loyalty programs as well. These permit more access to information and updates for consumers. However, overdoing it can be a problem for those who are already overloaded with text messages and multiple emails. It’s important to make mobile messages meaningful and simple. Value and simplicity are essential for keeping the interactions positive in the eyes of customers. Knowing how customers use their devices is important so that a good balance can be maintained in an age saturated with electronic information exchanges.

Colloquy is a resource for businesses who wish to gain an edge over their competitors through loyalty Marketing. Look to for publications, cosulting and more in regards to gaining customer loyalty.



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Is Facebook Digital PR?

The computer illiterate person is a dying breed, there are very few people who can’t turn on a computer and use the internet. What was an alien concept ten years ago to most of the population, it is now second nature. Silver Surfers have been the biggest growing demographic of internet users for a long time. It’s now not uncommon to find a grandparent using the internet, which is remarkable progress.
With this progression, the amount of people owning a website is booming. It’s not hard to buy a bit of web space, upload a WordPress template, and boom, you have a website. But with owning a website comes its marketing. Traditional PR methods are not used by 90% of web users because the budgets can be demanding. Would you run a newspaper campaign for a website and risk nobody remembering what it is?
What is Digital PR?
The alternative to advertising is digital PR, but again with digital PR, comes people who think they can do it all themselves. Like anything in life, if you learn it, you can do anything yourself. But the difference between doing something and doing something with great results can often be great. Sure, anyone can try digital PR and everyone should try it out. But a Facebook profile does not constitute a digital PR campaign.
Digital PR could be an online advertising campaign using banners and images. It could be a social media campaign, which would take in social media portals. It could, involve gaining good reviews for a product or service and if the budget is large enough, it could create a feel good factor about a product company or service through forums and positive spin accounts.
A Facebook profile or page can be a great resource, it’s easy to set up and yes it can be used for very basic PR. It should only be part of a campaign though and not be the campaign. As part of a campaign, Facebook can generate immense exposure, such as a great competition going viral. It can also be used to deal with customers, when one large online retailer but on a offer which brought down their servers, all their angry clients head straight over to their Facebook page to complain. The company handled it well; great PR put people’s minds at rest.
One golden rule if you are trying a bit of DIY PR using Facebook – don’t do it half hearted. Nothing says I can’t be bothered more than a Facebook page that has unanswered questions and no status updates for months on end.

Jamie Writes about technology for people such as Berkeley Digital PR company.


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Get Some Help With Your Next Big Idea

One of the greatest achievements a person can make in life is to own and run their own business, but where do you start? First of all, you need an idea. I wouldn’t expect someone to start up a business without an idea. It could be something completely new, though this would carry a much higher risk but some of the biggest companies in the world started off with a new idea.
Not all business start-ups have to get past Dragon’s Den to have an idea. Every day, millions of people go to work up and down the country, many of them excellent at their job and what they do, these people are the people who make other people’s businesses tick. These are also the people that are setting up businesses. A highly trained tradesperson, a graphics designer, a hair dresser, lots of companies train people up and for some of the staff this is their opportunity to make a go of it on their own.
All it takes is a different perspective, business and the way it works is evolving and becoming fresher all the time. One small idea on how to run your design agency or hair salon differently and you can become a leader in your business sphere. Without this type of mentality, business would not evolve and we would still be sending children up chimneys.
Once you have your big idea, there are people and companies out there that will guide you and help you run your business.
Business Coaching
Because you’re great at styling and colouring hair, it doesn’t make you naturally great at running a business. Business coaching can help keep you focused give you the vision and direction you need making the business decisions that you come up against much easier. Business coaching can also guide you through financial decisions and some of the knock-on effects you may need to know about.
Business Planning
One of the most crucial aspects of running a business is creating and sticking to a business plan. It’s far too easy to overestimate and hence over budget on your plans, and then end up failing. A business plan needs to be ambitious but fail safe. Depending on what you are trying to achieve depends on what the plan should be. If you are a start-up business, then the plan is to get through the first year and hopefully make some profit.
These are only two areas of help that are available to business start-ups, but take a look around, and don’t be scared of starting up your own business. If you have a great new idea, or an alternative productive way to work, then seize today and start your new business tomorrow.

Jamie is a blogger and a writer, writing on behalf of



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Advice for Producing Corporate Videos

The moment you have decided to create your video and selected a reliable company to work with, there are a number of factors that you need to consider when your video is being produced. You need to be aware of these tips on the small details during the production of your corporate videos together with the company that you have chosen.

Keep it simple and avoid distracting the audience

If you are watching good quality corporate videos, you will see confident individuals explaining all the information in a clear and interesting manner. Once there is a vibrant colored background, it only distracts the viewers. It is best to utilize the neutral colors on the corporate videos so that the focus of the viewers will be on the person speaking. You have to make sure that the focus is only on the person presenting the important details.

Beginning, middle and end

When creating corporate videos, it is also important to give importance to the overall style.  You need to consider the opening as well as the closing. Take note of the logos that will be used as well as keeping the film consistent to your brand. You have to make sure that all your corporate videos are identifiable and should also stand out from the competition. By sporting a creative and unique look, it can greatly help in creating a mark as well as attracting the viewers in an effective manner.

Make sure you have the right cast and presenters

Since corporate videos require a cast for the presentation, it is important to have experienced and skilled cast members as well as making sure everything works in a smooth manner. The majority of video production companies have a wide range of presenters and voice over artists on hand. It is recommended to listen to all the options before choosing one that will fit your brand. You should continue using the same presenters for future corporate videos. In doing so, it can provide all your corporate videos with a distinctive look and can be easily recognized by the viewers.

Find your winning forumula!

Your corporate videos must have the potential to be unique and easily identifiable. The moment you take these important factors into consideration, you will have a successful and effective corporate video that has all the elements that you need. Once you have created a successful corporate video, all you have to do is to utilize the same elements for future corporate videos. Simply add a new twist in order to make it unique and stand out from the rest.

This Guest Post has been written on behalf of Dragonfly Productions a leading corporate video production company in London.



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Setting up Your New Office for Success

Whether you are setting up a new business or moving an existing one, chances are you will be setting up your office with an entirely new set of furnishings. New offices will require a bit of pre-planning and you want to ensure that you set your office up with productivity in mind. Here are some components of an office space that you should never overlook.

The Right Furniture Makes the Difference

It goes without saying that the right furniture is important. You want to make sure that you and your employees are comfortable and have enough working space. Otherwise productivity will suffer because it is hard to work without an adequate amount of space as well as when you are not comfortable. Choosing the right furniture includes:

  • Sturdy Desks – the desks you choose for your employees should be sturdy and durable. It is a waste of money to throw out furniture every couple of months or years simply because it is no longer reliable. Spending the money up front and buying reliable, durable furniture will pay off in the long run as your desks will likely last you 10 years or more.
  • Comfortable Chairs – Because most office work is done sitting down, you want to make sure that the chairs you have are comfortable. They should have ergonomic function, as well as good lumbar support. Chairs come in a wide variety of sizes and with many features and can be found in many locations that sell industrial supplies.
  • Conference Tables – Regardless of the type of business you have, having a conference table is always recommended. It ensures that you have a space to speak with clients, as well as employees when you have meetings. Conference tables come in many different sizes, allowing you to pick the right one to fit the space you have available.

Organisation is Key

You cannot run a business without the necessary organisational tools. Success requires being organised and being able to find the supplies you need in an instant. Spending minutes or hours looking for something that should have been strategically placed can hamper valuable business time. Here are some must-have organisational tools that you should have in your office.

  • Filing Cabinets – all businesses revolve around paperwork and it is important to have a place to store your important business papers. Filing cabinets use hanging folders as a way of keeping your paperwork sorted by the different aspects of your business. For example, you want to store employee information separately from client files and invoices. Invest in hanging files as well as regular file folders and keeping a maintained filing system should be relatively simple.
  • Storage Cabinets – Regardless of how big or small your office space is, you may find that you need to invest in a storage cabinet. Storage cabinets are like pantries, of sorts, but with the intention of storing necessary business supplies. These supplies include printing paper, pencils, pens, folders, notepads and other necessary industrial supplies.
  • Shelving – having shelves is a no-brainer. You can use them to store your books, sort out work that needs to be done as well as forms or other paperwork that is regularly used in your office. You can find shelving systems in an industrial supply store and they are available in many sizes and colours. You can choose from corner units for space saving capabilities as well as wall units.

Having your office set up correctly from the beginning will ensure that you have all of the keys to succeed. Because organisation and preparation are two main components of success, you do not want to sacrifice either of them. Visiting your local industry supplies store will turn up a variety of solutions, but do not go overboard. Buy only what you need and what you will use, otherwise you are essentially wasting money.

Having the right office industrial supplies on hand can make your business run smoother. When it comes to maintaining a reputation, you want to start out on the right foot.


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Carry your Business Tools with You

There is no doubt that healthy communication is one of the major tenants off good business. Supplying your employees with a company mobile phone is the ideal way to give them the means to contact whoever they need to quickly and appropriately. Company mobile phones supplied to employees makes employees realise it is inappropriate to use their own phones during business hours for personal reasons unless there is an emergency. Fitting company mobile phones into the workplace may be more difficult than first envisioned however. For one, mobile phones often disturb meetings to the extent that some employees are told to leave their mobiles at their desks during this time. Also, using a company phone while driving is not advised practice as this is considered unsafe.

Successfully Integrating Mobile Phones in the Workplace

HR policy on mobile phone use of employees is a useful place to start looking for learning how company mobile phone use can be a mostly positive and not detrimental, practice. Poor mobile phone practices can lead to disrupting behaviour in the workplace and even possibly raise legal issues. For this reason, try to bring in the help of your managers and legal advisory connections as well as your HR staff when formulating a policy. Getting help from IT staff can also help if the mobiles you supply need to fit in with email servers, have use of particular built-in apps or have particular calling functions.

Making Up a General Mobile Phone Use Policy

Having employees annoy others in meetings with mobile phones can be helped by using the vibrate signal when receiving a call or message instead of a loud ringtone. Better than that, ask staff to leave the room if they receive an important call or need to make an important text. Or, you might consider telling staff to just leave their mobiles at their desks during business meetings. Remember that leaving voicemails can be an effective way to communicate with a mobile. It lets someone state a succinct message about the situation and lets others have time to hear that message and think on it before replying.

When Employees Need to Use their Mobiles

Encourage your workers to speak in low tones when they are using a mobile, or to move to a designated area where they can talk freely like a lobby, call area or cafeteria. Communication on mobile phones, especially if clients are involved, should always be professional. It may be tempting to communicate less formally over a mobile instead of by letter, email or landline but getting into this habit is not a good idea. Remember that the mobile phones should be used with courtesy and respect with appropriate behavioural boundaries at all times.

Helping Employees Carry around their Mobiles

There are more efficient ways to carry around a mobile phone than just in the pocket. Your company can produce colourful lanyards that have a phone holder clip on the end of them which employees wear around their neck. This only works for phones that have a bar, however. It includes a string loop which forms a phone attachment. Or, you may like to use a clipper which works for Blackberries and iPhones but not flip phones. These lanyards are very suitable for employees on the move or on the job and advertise the employee’s status at the same time. Mobile phones can also be carried in bum bags worn around the waist. Consider supplying your mobile phones with suitable protective cases so that they last longer.

Other Mobile Phone Issues at Work

State certain times when employees are allowed to use their personal mobile phones and ban any use outside of these time zones, apart from for emergency calls. If employees are using personal devices for business reasons they should be reimbursed this money. Getting employees to highlight all work related calls on a bill could be an option, but of course it may be easier simply to supply work phones to everyone and state that all work-related activity must be done on these phones alone. If work phones are supplied, these should be turned off by a secure service if they are lost or stolen. Phones that come with GPS mean that employees can be tracked, perhaps out of hours. Ask employees to turn off work phones during out of hours if they do not want this to happen.

To find out about company lanyards go online for a quick and easy design and manufacturing process that will ship lanyards to you that have been quality checked.


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Avoiding Mix Ups In The Workplace

The hardest thing for companies is keeping track of their staff, this may be at a conference which is attended by many offices or at an event. Even though you may give staff a name tag to wear, chances are once the festivities begin, which always happen at a conference, these name tags will get lost.

Office Solutions

Looking back to when I worked a normal nine to five office job, we worked in a large skyscraper of a building with dozens of floors. At the entrance to the building we would scan out name tags and that would give us instant access to the lifts. This was all good and well when you knew where your name tag was.

The best solution we came up with was staff lanyards. These lanyards were lightweight and our name tags clipped onto them easily. This ensured we always had our name tags with use, we kept them around our necks and staff members were immediately identifiable. The problem we found is if you had to go to one of the other floors within the building, because we were such a large company, it was hard keeping track of who was who. With our name tags around our necks there was no doubt we belonged to the company and this sped up things when visiting other floors, we didn’t have to face unnecessary security checks at each floors reception.


Because we were a large company we often had conferences around the country with other branches. This was a great opportunity to meet the people we had spoken to on the phone from across the country, but at the same time a nightmare for the people running the conference.

Using name tags with staff lanyards all the members of the conference were again identifiable. It was an easy way to ensure that everyone attending the lectures and meetings were in fact meant to be there and it was a quick way to get everyone in and out of the conference facility. You wouldn’t think it would be a problem, but when there is a security check at the conference centre and you don’t have any identification, getting into the meeting you are due to attend can be quite tricky.

Using the staff lanyards took all the guess work out of who was who and made it so much easier for the security staff on duty. They could take one quick look at each person’s neck and there was their identification, this reduced long queues, stress and frustration for everyone concerned.

Music Venues

While using staff lanyards makes office and conferences so much easier, they are an essential tool for music venues who host celebrity stars. When you are responsible for managing the staff to a top music concert where a top performing is about to take stage, security is a huge issue. You would be amazed what people will go through to rub shoulders with a super star. I remember years ago Robbie Williams was performing and I was working on the staff team. If it wasn’t for my staff lanyard with identification I would never have managed to get my job done. The security has to be tight otherwise every fan will try and sneak their way in through the doors to backstage to see their star in real life, up close and personal.

The staff lanyards were handed out with press passes and staff member identification tags to ensure the only people who got back stage were those who were meant to be there. It made things so much easier for security and reduced time and frustration for those trying hard to get their jobs done.

Staff lanyards are affordable and convenience and can ensure that your staff never lose their name tags or security fobs.

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