Friday, April 28, 2006

'Old fashioned' still works!

It is Friday and a fraught and stressful business week draws to a close before a three day public holiday weekend.

Sincere apologies to all my friends and business contacts who have not a good 'reply' service from me this week including my lack of responses to comments on Simplicity Blog.

It is amazing how reliant I have become on technology and when my system crashed on Monday morning panic set in!

As the week has progressed I have been dashing between meetings, talks, workshops and travels and worrying about how my inbox is growing in the absence of my regular visits to check incoming mail.

Surprise, surprise, ……no one has actually died as a result of me not being able to access my e-mails immediately, respond to them immediately and as a result feel ok about having an empty inbox which is always my aim at the end of every day. Yep I know I am mildly obsessional (mildly is my word)

In fact my efficiency has probably improved!

Ironically enough I have secretly enjoyed actually talking to people in person and on the phone rather than e-mailing almost everyone about almost everything. It has also reminded me again how important it is not to become too reliant on one mode of communication.

The temptation in my hectic business lives is to be lulled into some false belief that I cannot cope without the technology.

I miss my instant communication immensely and I hope to be back online properly next week but I have re-learned that there is always another way.

I would not advocate a return to my pre-technology days but sometimes maybe I need a ‘wake up call’ like the last five days to remind me there are far more important things to worry about than whether or not I can cope without e mail!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

That's just how it is

What an awful expression that is.

We all hear it regularly and it got me thinking how the world might have looked today if Winston Churchill had simply said, as Hitler tried to take over Europe "There is nothing we can do - that's just how it is"

How about if Bill Gates had accepted "That’s just how it is" when he tried to say windows would make personal computers user friendly.

Do you suppose Richard Branson ever replies “You are right of course – I will just accept that’s just how it is” when opponents tell him his ideas won’t work

I don’t know about you but I do not want to have an epitaph that reads something like this ….

Here lies Trevor Gay who always said ... “I couldn’t change things because that's just how it is"

We have choices – we can try and influence things and make changes or we can bury our heads in the sand and have a quiet life by accepting low standards or bad service by shrugging our shoulders and simply saying “Well - that’s just how it is”

I know which choice I prefer.

Technology is wonderful ... I think ....

Frustration as the technology crashes!

This is being typed from my local library as we come to terms with the frustration of coping without our computers!!

Hopefully we will be up and running again in a day or two but some major bug seems to have got in our system.

How did we cope before?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Happy St George's Day

St George's Day is celebrated in several nations of whom Saint George is the patron saint, including England, Georgia, Portugal, and Catalonia.

In England it is the National Day. April 23 was the date of Saint George's death in 303.

We English are often accused of a lack of passion and pride compared to our Scottish, Irish and Welsh friends.

Annie and I however are very proud to be English!

See more pictures on Simplicity Gallery

Friday, April 21, 2006

Happy 80th Birthday Your Majesty

For more coverage click here

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sometimes we need to change things!

"Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it" A.A. Milne (1882 - 1956), Winnie the Pooh

I use this well known cartoon in change workshops. I love its truth and simplicity.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Charitable Giving

A few more thoughts about the Blogidarity Project I mentioned a few days ago.

When listening to recent talks I have heard the following words:

‘20000 people - mainly children - will die today primarily due to extreme poverty.’

‘When I feed the poor I’m called a Saint. When I ask why are the poor hungry? I am called a communist.’

‘Wealthy people who have not learned the art of ‘radical giving’ find their money a burden.’

Then I think about Annie and I jogging the other day as part of our fitness training and we passed a garage forecourt where new cars are on sale for £29000 (approx. $52000) each. It made me think about priorities.

I am not saying that people should not have wealth; In fact there is a great need for people to have wealth so that they can do good for those in society who need help.

I am not saying either that people can give to all the charities we are asked to support nowadays. In fact I think it is a good idea to focus charitable giving in those causes that are closest to your heart and those where you believe the most impact will be made.

The Blogidarity project is about helping fellow human beings who need our help desperately – and according to my calculations, in the ten minutes it has taken me to type and present this comment, another 14 people have died mainly due to extreme poverty. Enough said I think.

I hope regular Simplicity Blog readers will think about visiting Blogidarity

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Best wishes from Trevor and Annie to all our regular friends and visitors to Simplicity Blog and of course any new visitors!

Let's all take time to remember at some time this weekend the real reason for our Easter Holiday.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Birthday Sebastian!

Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, 16th April, is the first birthday of my first Grandchild Sebastian.

So today, Annie and I joined Nadine (my daughter) and Laurie (her hubby) in Bristol to go shopping for Sebastian's present.

Simplicity Blog is usually about work issues and can be pretty serious - and of course work is important to us all.

Some things make work look pretty mundane and unimportant.

I am blessed to have Annie in my life and Sebastian is another reminder of what is really important in life.

Happy Birthday tomorrow Seb!!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Luck Dimitry!

I have come across my first Russian friend through Blogging Dimitry Linkov

Dimitry is currently studying in Moscow for a Masters Degree and he needs comments to help him. I have added Dimitry’s blog to my Blog roll today and you can visit his ecellent Blog at this link.

I am sure Dimitry will be grateful to receive comments from regular visitors to Simplicity Blog to help him on his course of study.

Good luck Dimitry!!

Those of us who have gone through the pain and hard work of studying for and then obtaining a Masters Degree know that we need all the help we can get!

I well remember calling that period of my life in the mid 1990’s ‘three years of hell’ as I tried to balance a full time very busy senior management job in the NHS with day release and hitting all deadline for 30 Assignments in the first two years and then the big one - a 20000 word Dissertation and all the associated research with that in my final third year.

The feeling of relief and elation when you hear the news that you gained the Masters is well worth all the agony although it doesn’t seem so at the time!

Let me be clear - I am not saying that qualifications make anyone a better person!

I often muse to myself whether in fact obtaining the Masters in Health Care Management made me a better manager.

I am certain it forced me to read more widely and it certainly taught me the need for discipline, focus and determination. Did it make me a better manager? … Mmmmm ...I’m still not sure.

I tend to think the best management training I ever had as a manager was actually managing. In other words, what I would call learning on the job.

Having said that I would never decry qualifications and it does frustrate me sometimes that people may say things like the greatest learning is in the 'University of Life' – or the 'School of Hard Knocks' as if any other form of academic learning can be dismissed.

True, a few people display annoying arrogance when they obtain a qualification but to me qualifications are simply about personal and professional development.

Mind you, it could be argued it is equally arrogant to say the greatest learning is in the University of Life or the School of Hard Knocks.

I actually think it is really about individuals and how humble they can be regardless of whether they have or have not got qualifications.

I always remember someone saying to me

“All that passing exams means is that you are good at taking exams.”

Pretty profound and yet very simple.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Blogging is a Relationship

Some gentle musings on a dull and overcast April Wednesday…..

When oh when is our spring going to start? Oh for some sunshine...

According to Katie Melua – ‘There are 9 million bicycles in Beijing’ but I am told there are more than 70 million Blogs in the world.

I’ve been thinking quite a lot recently about Blogs.

It seems to me essentially that Blogging is a 'relationship.' I read about 6 or 7 Blogs every day and another 3 or 4 Blogs occasionally when I have some time. I have developed this ‘Trevor list’ over time through developing a 'relationship' with either the 'content' of the Blog or the founder.

It feels to me like any other transaction. I am after all a ‘customer’ and I am looking for something to inspire or educate me - something to 'buy' I guess.

I am pretty sure that among the 70 million Blogs that I do not visit there will be rich information that I am missing out on. The point is however; how many wonderful meals do I need in one day?

I am a pragmatist and I like to have achievable and manageable bite sized chunks of work to do. The amount of information circulating in the Blogosphere is awesome and I am fascinated about how we all end up reading certain Blogs. I guess it is no different than finding a newspaper that you feel a certain affinity with and sticking to that. There is of course the danger in always sticking to a limited range of reading that one’s vision becomes too restricted. Apparently there are another 70 million Blogs to check out! – Wow! – I best get started!

Then my mind wanders to the meeting I was at this morning where I presented my Simplicity talk to a group of 15 fairly senior managers in the 'Not for Profit' sector. I asked how many of them knew about Blogs and no hands went up. An interesting thought.... are they missing out? .... Or.... Are we Bloggers making lots of assumptions that Blogging is really creating change in the way we communicate.

My own view is that Blogging is terrific and is an aid to communncation but it will never replace real talk face to face - that is the real way to talk to people. Using Blogs as your only way to communicate in business is putting the cart before the horse and will not work in the medium to long term.

Mmmm...... that's enough profound thinking today..... I must have a lie down and take my pills!

This evening Annie and I are going to see The Eagles Tribute Band 'Talon' - looking forward to that - The Eagles are my all time favourite band.

Don Henley singing 'The Last Resort' - pure magic!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

April 11th - A Special Day

Today - April 11th will always be a very special day for Annie and me.

Love you more than Walkers Crisps darling xxx


I am very proud to be a member of a new team that is trying to do something positive about poverty in the third world.

Thanks to the leadership of my friend
Felix a new Blog called Blogidarity has been created. I hope you will give Felix and his team mates your support.

Please visit Blogidarity – ordinary folks like me and you can make a difference.

Here is the Mission and Mantra of Blogidarity

Mission and Mantra

Mission: We are committed to raise funds for non profits working in the third world from Bloggers all around the world.

Mantra: 1$ can save a life

We would like to help organizations working in the third world. There are children, women and helpless men living in poor conditions and dying everyday of the year. You can do something for them: Donate 1$ to a Non-profit every month. You just will make a difference in the world.

Yes, it’s as simple as that.

In our activity we will respect a ZERO CONFUSION principle. This means that every dollar we get will be donated to the Non profit we are working for in that month. This we believe is an indispensable rule of clarity and honesty for all parts.

One more thing, if you know any project you think should get our attention, please e-mail us.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Never give up!

The sun is shining on this fine Monday morning! - Have a great week

Nice quote this morning courtesy of Unstoppable:

"All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no's become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly.


- Nike ad"

Friday, April 07, 2006

Happy Birthday Mum

A bit of self indulgence today.

Annie and I went to visit my Mum yesterday on her 77th birthday. Thank you Annie for suggesting it. x

This is the first time I have been with Mum on her birthday for a long time for various reasons and the fact I lived 300 miles away from her for most of the the last 23 years.

Just a small tip for younger people … don't make the same mistake as me ....try to get to see your Mum on her birthday every year ….

MOST IMPORTANT! - Make sure you have someone like Annie who reminds you and recognises how important these things are.

We owe our Mums big time and sadly there are fewer birthdays left with each passing year.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Women and Leadership

I am a member of a 'virtual team' called The Blog Synergy

The other team members are:

Steve Sherlock
Felix Gerena
Rosa Say
Troy Worman
Rocky Noe
Phil Gerbyshak

The topic for discussion on Blog Synergy for March was 'What makes great leadership.'

There were many responses that are summarised here and here

One of the interesting things that emerged is the few responses from female Bloggers.

The April task for each Blog Synergy team member is to highlight this on our own Blog and invite readers to make comments on The Blog Synergy

I hope the females who visit Simplicity Blog will take time out to make a comment.

I have my own views of course .... but as a mere male I would not be so presumptuous to comment.

Monday, April 03, 2006

57 Cents

We often hear about huge monetary gifts that make things happen.

We probably wonder whether it is worth giving our few pennies to a cause.

Will our small effort make any difference whatsoever in the great scale of things?

Well …. YES is the answer

Annie and I were listening to a story the other day that illustrates powerfully how every last penny (or cent) is important. Annie subsequently found the story on the Web and I am so impressed with its simplicity and its profound message that I want to reproduce it on my Blog.

Some of you may have seen this before – apologies if so but I think it contains many massages.

A sobbing little girl stood near a small church from which she had been turned away because it was too crowded. "I can't go to Sunday school," she sobbed to the pastor as he walked by. Seeing her shabby, unkempt, appearance, the pastor guessed the reason and, taking her by the hand, took her inside and found a place for her in the Sunday School class.

The child was so touched that she went to bed that night thinking of the children who had no place to learn about Jesus.Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings and the parents called for the kind-hearted pastor who had befriended their daughter to handle the final arrangements.

As her poor little body was being moved, a worn and crumpled purse was found that seemed to have been rummaged from some trash dump. Inside was found 57 cents and a note scribbled in childish handwriting that read, "This is to help build the little church bigger so more children can go to Sunday School." For two years she had saved for this offering of love.

When the pastor tearfully read that note, he knew instantly what he would do.

Carrying this note and the cracked, red pocketbook to the pulpit, he told the story of her unselfish love and devotion. He challenged his deacons to get busy and raise enough money for the larger building.

But the story doesn’t end there! A newspaper learned of the story and published it. A business man who read it offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands. When told that the church could not pay so much, he offered it for 57 cents.

Church members made large subscriptions. Checks came from far and wide. Within five years the little girl's gift had increased to $250,000.00—a huge sum for that time (near the turn of the century).

Her unselfish love had paid large dividends.When you’re in the city of Philadelphia, look up Temple Baptist Church, with a seating capacity of 3,300, and Temple University, where hundreds of students are trained. Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at a Sunday School building that houses hundreds of Sunday scholars, so that no child in the area will ever need to be left outside during Sunday school time.

In one of the rooms of this building may be seen the picture of the sweet face of the little girl whose 57 cents, so sacrificially saved, made such remarkable history.

Alongside of it is a portrait of her kind pastor, Dr. Russell H. Conwell, author of the book, Acres of Diamonds.

Goes to show what God can do with unselfish love for others and 57 cents

Sunday, April 02, 2006

George - still learning after all these years

Back in the mid 1990’s when I did my MA Management (Health Care), I was fortunate to have Professor George Giarchi as my Academic Supervisor.

I was considered by most of my peers to be the luckiest student of the group in having George as my Supervisor. When I finished my MA I asked George if I could carry on using him for professional supervision and fortunately for me, he agreed.

George is a very intelligent man and has written many books. His special interest now is to promote older people. He walks the talk too - George himself is 74 – going on 18. He still works at Plymouth University – officially for half a week. In reality I'm pretty sure he still puts in full time hours. He wants to carry on working after his current contract expires when he is 77.

Two things stand out when I think about George.

Firstly, he has often told me he learns more from his students than they learn from him.

Secondly, he has a large red ‘L’ Plate on the wall of his office. When I first asked him about that ‘L’ plate he told me it was there to remind him that he was still learning.

Two of his greatest qualities are modesty and humility and he would rank highly with any great leader I have read about or studied. Ironically, George does not consider himself a ‘leader.’

It has always interested me that many people who are in fact leaders do not realise it themselves – because how they act is just their ‘normal’ behaviour. It is usually left to academics to argue what leadership actually means.

I hope George will be around for many more years for me to ‘pick his brains.’

If there is a better role model I have yet to meet him or her.