Frank Zappa, innovation and ridicule

FZ as we knew him

YouTube is a wonderful thing if you like to be distracted by random stuff from people that you like. Whilst rehearsing a choir part from a YouTube track by my local community choir the other night the  suggested videos list threw up a thoroughly cringeworthy appearance by Frank Zappa on the Steve Allen Show on 4 March 1963. Cringeworthy it may be but it illustrates the way genuine innovators can often come up against ridicule when their ideas first appear.

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Feel the fog – and do it anyway

It's London, but not as we know it

A foggy day (as it happens, in London town) seems like a good day to start a blog series dealing with ‘knitting fog’ and, by a happy coincidence, an email arrived with the famous quote from self-help guru Susan Jeffers: ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. This made me realise that I had been harbouring a degree of fear about starting this, so here goes…

Fear of fog

It may be an unusual thing to say but Continue reading “Feel the fog – and do it anyway”

Business lessons from the Edinburgh Fringe: 3) Just add circus skills

If you have been following this series closely you’ll be equipped to build great relationships with your customers and be able to motivate your co-workers with a few killer one-liners and some well thought-out communications. There’s just one thing that needs to be added to spice up the workplace: circus skills. Yes, this is my big take-away from the Fringe: the business world would benefit enormously from regular injections of acrobatics, tightrope-walking and attempts at the seemingly-impossible.

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Business lessons from the Edinburgh Fringe: 2) Stand up and be funny

I’m going to tell you a story… no, I’m going to start with a confession – I don’t go to that many comedy shows so what I’m going to say is based almost entirely on the few shows I saw at the Fringe. But, as we consultants say, two data points make a trend and anything more than that is cast-iron proof. Oh, and I’m also going to attempt some humour… what’s that? People heading for the door? And I’ve only just started…

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Business lessons from the Edinburgh Fringe: 1) Marketing

Horse playing the accordion - and why not?I went on holiday to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with the expectation that  my take-aways would be mainly fish suppers (the jokes don’t get any better believe me) but there were a few business-related things that struck me about it that I thought I would share. The whole thing was a fun break – and this trilogy of blogs is intended in much the same spirit.

I’ll cover comedy, circus skills and, inevitably, interpretive dance soon but to get started…

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Service Smackdown 6: Casual dining, casual service?

It’s an occupational hazard of this line of work that I feel obliged to fill in online feedback forms whenever the opportunity is presented. Recently I’ve been invited to do so by two outlets operated by Tragus Group – whose website proclaims they are one of the UK’s largest casual dining groups and their brands include high street favourites Strada, Bella Italia and Café Rouge. As they use the same survey engine it seems a good opportunity to promote a Service Smackdown bout between two evenly-matched  opponents: in the red corner, armed with several bottles of lethal brew, the Belgian Bruiser that is Belgo; in the blue corner, with an audience of adoring fans across the country, I give you Strada! Seconds out…

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Branch banking? Let’s get personal!

I’ve been working in financial services on and off over a period of more than 20 years and the debate over how many branches a bank needs has been going on for at least that long. So it was good to see the Financial Services Club keeping the debate going this week. Despite money becoming increasingly virtual and the growth of online banking I think the industry has a long way to go before we see a significant change in the number and style of bank branches. Banks that invest in their people as well as new technology will maintain both a distribution network and the valuable customer relationships that go with it.

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Service Smackdown 5: Apple and the road to power

This is not so much a straight fight but more a series of skirmishes along the road to power – the power in this case being the power supply enabling my wife’s new iPhone to function effectively.  It’s a story of persistence in the face of supply chain problems and one customer service rep’s action turning a mediocre and frustrating experience into superior service…

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Waitrose hashtag fail: too clever by half?

My social media credibility – recently boosted by having a tweet ‘favorited’ by a jazz pianist admired by my 16 year old – has taken a bit of a dive as I was unaware of Waitrose’s recent Twitter campaign – #WaitroseReasons – asking people to complete the sentence “I shop at Waitrose because….”. Initial reaction in the press and on Twitter suggested that this was serious hashtag fail. I personally think it’s a brilliant piece of marketing.

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