All aboard or not !

Too good to last. I knew I should not have crowed too early. Today I decided to visit my experential agency who are based in Worcester. A bunch of seriously smart people who just get it and are a joy to work with. It is a firm rule of mine that I always try and hold meetings in the offices of my agencies so as to change my mindset and to get a better handle on what makes them tick.

Anyhow the journey up was a joy. Chugging through the Vale of Evesham from London Paddington to Worcester Foregate followed by some productive meetings, a great lunch (seriously good food) and some drinks in the sun by the river. It was only when arriving at the station for the journey home that it has all gone pear-shaped.

‘1847 TO PADDINGTON CANCELLED DUE TO PASSENGER DISRUPTION ONBOARD’

The station staff are unable to explain what passenger disruption onboard means. Have a group of Girl Scouts taken over the train ? Has someone chocked on a Great Western sandwich ? Is Miss Marple or Inspector Morse sleuthing on the train as I write this ?

Anyway I am now getting the 1927 to Oxford where I can change for Paddington.

It’s all an adventure I suppose and more time to contemplate the thoughts of the day and the increasing belief that there is a Rebecca Chaos Theory !

Me & My Netbook

I should start off by thanking S and D who gave me the extra shove in favour of a netbook. The choice of a Samsung NC10 was mine alone.

In a nutshell (a very compact nutshell at that) it’s near perfect. A full weekend of testing has found little wanting – although I do miss, thanks to it being XP powered, being able to boil a kettle, take a shower and complete a Suduko puzzle after powering it up. All of which I can do when I do the same process with my old Vista powered Sony Viao ! Seriously fast start-up and close down is great.

It took me about half an hour to get used to the smaller screen size and the need to scroll up and down when viewing pages but when you are actually writing email or blog this factor disappears.

I’ve obviously made a mistake when choosing the keyboard configuration as the @ key does not produce the @ symbol when pressed and it’s up on the number 2 key ‘hidden’. But no biggie.

The keyboard is easy to use at speed and has a good rake and a solid touch.

Battery live is well over 6 hours but I’ve only been using online programs so I’ll report back after putting it through its paces.

I’m glad I made the investment and I can now leave the Sony at home where I now really appreciate its screen if not the Vista.

Succession – right topic, wrong subject

I went to bed last night to the breaking news that Prime Minister Brown has been in discussions with Buckingham Palace in relation to Succession in the British Monarchy – matters such as the Monarch not being allowed to marry a Catholic, males bring favoured over females etc.

All good and proper and reflective of the current Monarch’s incredible knack of adapting to a changing world. If only Mr Brown was as good.

Of course the timing stinks – I am sure it’s an attempt to show how the Prime Minister can single-handedly save the global economy and deal with domestic issues at the same time.

Would be nice if we could start discussing the succession at No 10 Downing Street.

Staying at home

There is something deeply disturbing about seeing Prime Minister Gordon Brown exerting himself on the world stage.   He’s like an over eager puppy other than he is not cute, not loved and shows little potential for development.  It all looks so forced and calculating and in light of the fact that the IMF think the United Kingdom economy will be one of the last to emerge out of this downturn, so very, very fake.

I prayed for someone to give him a slow hand clap when he was in Manhattan on Wednesday but I had to make do with this very effective speech by a hitherto unknown (at least to me) Member of the European Parliament (probably the first sensible thing I’ve ever heard uttered there !).

It got me thinking.   Do the other leaders of the G20 feel the same way as they gather their thoughts, clean underwear and toothbrush and prepare to fly to London for the summit next week ?   

I almost wish that President Obama would announce that he feels it’s important to stay close to home (aren’t the rest of us dealing with curtailed corporate travel budgets ?) and that he’ll skip the meeting.      Restoring confidence to the US system is critical and he can best do that from the Oval Office.

That would free up some of Prime Minister Brown’s time to have a candid conversation with the British electorate and how he has failed them.  Totally.

The First 100 Days

Seminal texts have been devoted to what a leader does in those first 100 days when she or he begins a new role.

It’s cliched but true- those first few days will determine whether you succeed or fail. Both in technical terms and also perception.

President Obama is smart enough to know that and yet he seems to still be in campaign mode.

This was exemplified this week when he flew to LA in Air Force One (ka-ching !) to appear on the Jay Leno show like some 2nd rate actor shilling his latest movie about to go on general release.

I mean really ? Really this is a big priority for you when your Treasury Secretary still does not have a fully staffed team and seems incapable of calming frayed nerves ?

He has the Peoples’ work to do and he needs to do it. That’s tough and gritty and requires a solid application of effort. Not TelePrompTer driven soundbites or scurrying about the country.

Time to spend a little more time in the office Mr President, the world’s cameras will come to you.

39 years 365 days

It’s the Sunday morning after the night before and one final sunny London day before I turn 40 tomorrow.

Although you promise yourself you won’t do this, milestone birthdays invariably tempt you into a ‘life stocktake’. What’s working ? What’s not ? Successes, failures. All entered into your brain’s excel spreadsheet.810_14_6662-40-kilometer-speed-sign_web

But there really isn’t any formula because the equation is stacked overwhelmingly in favour of a positive answer. Simply put, you don’t get to 40 without some great achievements, memories and friends.

Friends really seal the deal. They have chosen you and you have chosen them and together you journey through rough and smooth.

Last night as I danced badly to 1980’s hits in a room full of people I did not know a year ago that fact seemed all the more true.

New Colleagues who had become great colleagues who had become new friends and now great friends.

As I start my 40th year about to embark on a new career they will be with me on my journey.

If only I could get the strains of Tiffany out of my head…….

Shape shifting

In between the office and home tonight I stopped off at Le Pain Quotidien for something to eat and a place to draft 200 seminal words for C.

I’ve mentioned this place previously but only ever in the context of coffee. However I had spied an evening menu and thought why not ? To be fair they do make an effort – dimmer lights, candles, some decent by the glass wines.

Is it working ? It wasn’t busy but those that were there must have had a reasonable check average and the alternative strategy would have resulted in students nursing a coffee for 2 hours like the Starbucks across the street.

They shape shifted, or more to the point ‘time shifted’ – stretching the saliancy of the brand from 7am to 7pm and beyond.

Brands have to do double duty these days. Consumers want more. Expect more. A tightening of spending power has not made them less discriminating but more so.

They want extra reasons to believe and invest. Brands that pull it off will survive and thrive.