Monday, April 27, 2009

What an experience!

What a fabulous day yesterday (Sunday).

We completed the London Marathon in a time of 5 hours 31 minutes. It was a fantastic experience.

I hit 'the wall' between 20 and 21 miles and had to walk for a while whilst Annie could have kept running.

To finish 26.2 miles in a reasonable time was tremendous – it feels good.

There will be pictures soon – just give us a few days.

Almost 36,000 runners; hundreds of thousands of spectators; millions of pounds raised for charity; sunshine; just an absolute joy to be part of it.

If you are interested, the official London Marathon Website is at this link giving all the results.

So many people wished us well it is impossible to list all the people we need to thank.

Many visitors to Simplicity Blog gave us terrific support and encouragement since our training programme began 24 weeks ago.
We are both extremely grateful for your support – it is greatly appreciated.

Fish and Chips tonight from our local village 'Chippy' were marvellous.

Friday, April 24, 2009

No turning back! - It's almost here!

Friday evening 5.45 pm … We are packing now … will be switching off the PC in a few hours and that’s it. We travel to London tomorrow and The London Marathon is now just 38 hours away. No turning back now.

I will not be posting anything or responding to comments now for almost 3 days.

With God's assistance I will be back, firing on all cylinders, on Monday evening with reports of our London Marathon adventure.

Once more please accept my sincere thanks to all who have given us such terrific encouragement and indeed for your donations – it’s not too late to tell your friends!

We have been absolutely amazed and indeed emotionally moved at the generosity of you all. Carers UK our charity will benefit greatly which means that Carers themselves will benefit and that means a lot to us.

We are now really looking forward to it …..

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Countdown to London Marathon ... 5 days to go

This is us finishing the recent Silverstone half marathon event

WOW! - after 24 weeks of our training programme; aching limbs; plenty of muscle lotions; warm baths; total disbelief; and running over 440 miles it's almost here.

Only 5 more days to the London Marathon on Sunday 26 April.

It has been inspiring as well as plain hard work and now we can't wait for the big day on Sunday.

Thanks once again to all readers of Simplicity Blog for your terrific support both emotionally and in fund raising - you are a fantastic bunch of people!

We have raised around £2000 including offline donations for our charity - Carers UK.

We still aim to reach our £3000 target even if it is after the event before we make up the outstanding amount. To donate - click here

Latest marathon training update at Annie's Running for Carers Blog at this link

Sunday, April 19, 2009

On the Stage

What does the world's greatest Shakespearian actor have in common with a doctors Receptionist?

They are both on the stage.

I am doing loads of training nowadays on something called Exceptional Customer Care. Most of the participants are receptionists who work on the front line of healthcare. These folks are giving the first impression either on the telephone or face to face to the patient attending the surgery.

I am always impressed with their modesty about their crucial role in the grand scheme of things in a doctors surgery.

I tell them that the customer’s experience of the visit to the surgery will probably be influenced as much by the interaction with the receptionist as it will be by the consultation with the doctor or the nurse.

I tell them they are, in my opinion, not ‘Receptionists’ – I tell them they are Customer Service Professionals.

I tell them they are like actors on the stage – always under the spotlight – there is nowhere to hide.

The great Shakespearian actors who play the lead role for many years have to turn up night after night and deliver their performance as if it were their first. The actor may be delivering the role for the 500th time. For most of the audience it will be their first experience of this particular actor, in this particular role, in this particular play.

Receptionists have the same responsibility in my opinion. They have to deal with each customer as if it were their first.

Patients who may have emotionally struggled to pick up the telephone and make that call because they may be worried or stressed about the health problem they have.

A receptionist may have had to deal with 50 or more different customers each day and the 51st person may be coming to see a doctor for the first time in their life - they may be worried sick. The receptionist is in a key place to reassure the customer.

Once more on my Blog I am delighted to thank all the brilliant receptionists doing such a terrific job as customer service professionals. I am proud to work with you.

Your audience awaits on Monday morning …….

Friday, April 17, 2009

5 Surefire Tips to prove yourself before your Boss

I am delighted to publish in full an article written by Ranjita Patra of Breaking News Online.

The article is called "5 Surefire Tips to prove yourself before your Boss."

Full link :

Thank you Ranjita - I enjoyed reading your words of wisdom.

24/7 News Network (By Ranjita Patra): One of the most important aspects of a manager’s job is to manage the employees; it is also the most challenging part of a business. A boss can either create a team unity or keep himself aloof. All of us are given choices every moment on every day. How we respond to difficult situations is a choice. A good employee refers to the person, who performs above expectations. When an employer is evaluating a potential or current employee, there are some characteristics that are found in dedicated, hardworking and above average employees who fulfill their obligations and more.


As every individual is special in their own way, in a particular field he/she can prove his/her Excellency. Find out what the skill is and make yourself an expert. If you want your employer to see you as an important employee, make yourself irreplaceable.

Be flexible and accessible all the time, & above all be honest, be helpful. Doing work on time and stepping in during the need, will differentiate you from others.

Strong Work Ethics

Finishing up your work on deadline is not going to help you to survive. In some organizations, finishing the work before time & asking for new project, and sharing some innovative ideas for company growth, can enhance employee’s sustaining chance.

Maintaining a solid work ethic demonstrates that you are the type of person, who puts his/her best foot forward each day. You will be respected for your work ethics and dependability when others can rely on you to get the job done.


Every workplace has workmates, with different personalities. Just because a co-worker’s personality doesn’t initially click with yours doesn’t mean you can’t get along with them in the workplace. If you’re not getting along with your teammates, take a look at yourself.

While you can’t change others’ behaviors, you can change your own. It does not mean to change your personality, rather change your outlook towards the requiring situation. Put your personal feelings aside, and focus instead on your teammates’ positive contributions to the team.


Maintaining professionalism and discipline are the most vital requisites for the growth of an organization. Show respect to everyone -- superiors, peers, subordinates, and especially customers. Be an active participant, when there are some important discussions about the company growth.

Gossiping at work place spoil the good reputation of a company in a little time span. To being a good example for others never say “That's not my job”. Your willingness to do so will be noticed and appreciated!


Proper expression of your feelings towards the requiring situation in your workplace is as vital as your work itself. Humbleness in your behavior is admired by everyone, on the other hand one negative response affects both production and productivity of an organization. This is probably one of the most under appreciated social skills that people are often talking about themselves.

This type of behaviour affects their reputation among colleagues. Focus your attention outward instead of inward in a conversation. If you are not satisfied with the decision of your management, Hold that courage to express your point of view, instead of blaming the management.

A Satisfied employer can satisfy its employee in every manner.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Working 'for' the man in the mirror

I am now four and a half years into self-employment after thirty five years working in the National Health Service (NHS) as an employee.

When I worked in the NHS in a secure, salaried position I had:

• Employment protection including occupational pension
• Guaranteed salary regardless of the effort I put in
• Regular hours Monday to Friday
• Sick pay
• Holiday pay

As a self-employed sole trader I have:

• No employment protection
• No guaranteed income
• No sick pay
• No paid holidays
• No regular hours

So on face value many might say the preferred option has got to be the secure salaried position. In fact I’m pretty sure many might argue it is a no brainer.

And yet I have never been happier in my work.

I believe I am more accountable than I ever was in the NHS. That is because I am accountable to the man I see in the mirror. He holds me to incredibly high standards and expectations. I cannot con him and I cannot bluff him. He sees straight through inadequate excuses. Bullshit does not work with him.

It is very ironic that I feel more accountable than I ever did during the time I worked in the NHS which is one of the most ‘supervised’ environments.

This personal experience convinces me of something I have always believed.

• In large organisations (I would say in small organisations too) we simply must let people have self-accountability.

• We can make people accountable and then hold them to account.

• The best managers and leaders know how to ‘let go’ and yet still ‘be there.’

Some will argue it is not quite as easy in an organisation as it is for me in a self employed setting to have this freedom – I don’t accept that. I would say the more freedom people are given the more effectiveness you get back. That's not about 'rules' and complexity - its about trust, beliefs and organisational culture.

It’s not hard work to trust people – we just need to trust them.

What do you think?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friend of Simplicity - Keith Ready

About 4 years ago I came across Keith Ready an Aussie who is my ‘Friend of Simplicity’ today. Keith runs a brilliant website called "A Gift of Inspiration" that is full of wonderful stories, quotes and as the title says, ‘Inspiration.’

If you have not come across Keith’s website please visit and I am sure you will – like me - feel inspired when reading the stories.

Trevor - Hi Keith – thanks for agreeing to take part in the interview. Tell us a bit about your career and where you are based in Australia

Keith - I live in Narraweena on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia and have been married to Debbie for over 30 years, we have two sons, Simon - 23 and Tom - 20.

I have had nearly 35 years of practical and hands on experience in sales, marketing, human resources and general management primarily in the health care, FMCG and retail industry sectors. Over the last 15 years I have also presented in excess 1600 keynote presentations, seminars and workshop programs around Australia on aspects of growing and building successful small businesses through it's most valuable assert - it's people.

Currently I work as COO of Flowers For Everyone who is one of Australia's leading on-line and retail floristry businesses.

Trevor - Your Gift of Inspiration site is a massive library of inspirational stories, quotes and advice. What made you interested in this concept?

Keith - As part of my life outside of my work life I am the publisher of InspirEmail which currently has over 3000 subscribers all around the world and through this and my website - A Gift of Inspiration, I seek to provide a free service to the web showcasing inspirational stories, quotes, images and messages to refresh the spirit and boost the emotional bank account. In recent times I have become known both in Australia and Internationally as Mr Inspiration, primarily because of my passionate commitment too inspiring everyone that I come into contact with, to be better at what they do in all levels of their life.

I have had many of my inspirational stories published in international e-newsletters and websites including - Achieve, Insight, Starfish, Story Time Tapestry, Sermon Illustrator, Heart Catchers, Motivateus, Heartwarmers, Our Echo and Positive News.

Trevor - What inspires you Keith?

Keith - I am inspired by the people I meet and work with every day of my life, some may refer to them as 'ordinary every day people', but I have found that every one that I meet is extraordinary in there own special way. I do admire certain high profile achievers who live and work in our country, such as Dick Smith and Tom O'Toole, but in the main draw my inspiration from those that I meet who I know are making a difference in their own small but very special way.

Trevor - Do you think story telling is used enough in management and business?

Keith - No but they should be used more often - I consider that the positive real life experiences we have in every day of our life provide us with messages and reminders of how we can do things better in all that we do, in and outside of business. When I write a story or article, I am always reminded on my two favourite quotes which I aim to deliver in all that I do:

'People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel'


'Life isn't measured by the number of breaths we take, but rather by the moments that take our breath away'

Trevor - Have you visited the UK and if not do you have any plans to visit?

Keith - Yes in 1980, I spent 10 months working the UK and loved every minute on my stay, I have only been back once since 1980 and would love to visit again in the future.

Trevor - Like all Aussies no doubt, you will be looking forward beating England the old enemy in the upcoming Ashes. Can we beat you this time?

Keith - In 1980 I got to play cricket in England during the summer months, not at a high level but it taught me a lot about the history and heritage of the game. Whilst I am a passionate Aussie cricket fan and supporter, I believe, it matters little who wins but rather what the game gives us all.

Everything goes in cycles - we lost the Ashes to the better team a few years ago and then won it back, so this series should be an interesting one given that Australia is now going through a rebuilding cycle after the retirement of greats such as Warne and company. May the winner of this Ashes series the be cricket and the underlying spirit in which the game should be played.

Trevor - Finally, Keith do you have a personal favourite inspirational story on your site and if so please provide the link for us to read it?

Keith - Given my comments about cricket - my story about a very special cricket bat and a relationship between a father and son seems to be the most appropriate as my favourite - "The Perfect Partnership" at this link

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Racism at its worst

Happily we do not see much racial prejudice in the UK nowadays.

Having said that Annie and I were listening to a Radio phone-in programme the other day and we were absolutely gobsmacked to hear an Englishman caller make insulting, nasty remarks about people who are non-English. When the host of the radio phone in accused him of being a racist, the caller rather proudly replied – “Yes I am” – absolutely staggering!

Come on!! This is 2009 not 1909.
Insularity is terrible. I am extremely proud that Britain is so multi-racial, so cosmopolitan - I see this as one of Britain's greatest strengths. I think it enriches my life tremendously to meet so many wonderful people from all over the world regardless of colour, religion or origin.

Ironically enough I received this last week from my good friend JK – a regular contributor to Simplicity Blog. JK has clearly received this from someone and it says in the body of the e-mail - as you will see – that this is a true story.

Who knows if it is true? But if true, how sad is this?

Good & true Customer Service - A Real incident......

This took place on a BA (British Airways) flight between Johannesburg and London. A white woman, about 50 years old, was seated next to a black man. Obviously disturbed by this, she called the air Hostess.

"Madam, what is the matter," the hostess asked.

"You obviously do not see it then?" she responded. "You placed me next to a black man. I do not agree to sit next to someone from such a repugnant group. Give me an alternative seat."

"Be calm please," the hostess replied. "Almost all the places on this flight are taken. I will go to see if another place is available."

The Hostess went away and then came back a few minutes later.

"Madam, just as I thought, there are no other available seats in the Economy class. I spoke to the captain and he informed me that there is also no seat in the business class. All the same, we still have one place in the first class."

Before the woman could say anything, the hostess continued:

"It is not usual for our company to permit someone from the economy class to sit in the first class. However, given the circumstances, the captain feels that it would be scandalous to make someone sit next to someone so disgusting."

She turned to the black man, and said, "Therefore, Sir, if you would like to, please collect your hand luggage, a seat awaits you in first class."

At that moment, the other passengers who were shocked by what they had just witnessed stood up and applauded.

This is a true story. If you are against racism, please send this message to all your friends.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

George, 97 years young, completes 120mph skydive

Do you want to live to be 100?

I’ve often said I want to be the captain of my own 5-a-side football (soccer) team for over 100 year olds. People laugh … and I guess I'm only half, maybe 75%, serious.

I've become deadly serious having seen this

George Moyse – 97 years young – you are an incredible man – long may you live!!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Thank you Frank

Frank is a good friend who I met through Simplicity Blog and my book Simplicity is the Key. We first corresponded about three and a half years ago.

My initial connection with Frank was when he gave me some really helpful and insightful comments about my writing style and my book content.

Ever since those first rich comments over three years ago I’ve regularly sought and valued Frank’s feedback on my writing. I’ve sometimes sent Frank my written material for feedback before I publish it.

I was shocked in October 2008 when Frank told me he had recently been diagnosed with Colon Cancer. We have kept in touch and the latest email I had from Frank moved me so much I asked him if he minded if I publish his words on my Blog. I’m happy to say Frank agreed.

Everyone knows someone touched by Cancer and if you are like me you sometimes wonder in your private moments ‘How would I cope with the diagnosis of Cancer?’

Frank’s words below are just inspiring to me.

He is facing his uncertain future with pragmatism, a sense of humour, honesty and most of all bravery.

Thank you Frank and rest assured many prayers are with you. I'm pretty sure there will be many more prayers after Simplicity readers have have absorbed Franks powerful words.

This is a part of what Frank wrote to me in his most recent email:

“I have just finished my own first six chemo laps. The last ones were pretty tough, but they are already history and long forgotten :-)

The results were mixed. Deep down secretly you hope for some sort of recovery over time, which means that the volume of cancer cells has to drop, at least gradually. However I seem to have reached a plateau which is flagged as ‘stable.’

Neither significant improvements nor significant deteriorations. So although this is a sort of OK, it's not the one you mention as your childhood's dream;

‘What do you wanna be when you grow up?’

‘Stable Miss’ :-)

So as long as it doesn't deteriorate I should be able to get a life again by following a lighter continuous chemo regime (without the heavy stuff). I have to find out in the next couple of months what this would mean for the quality of life (how do I regain physical fitness, can I work again, part time yes/no etc.) Also nobody knows how long these stable periods will last. It could be 9 weeks as a minimum or maybe even a couple of years. We just have to find out.

So the bad news is that I got a lifetime sentence where you run your steeple chase, try to stay ahead of competitors with reapers and hope that science finds additional cures just in time.

The good news is that I haven't lost my sense of humour and day by day life is not bad at all. You just have to learn to live with uncertainty and accept that you are no longer Master of your own life (come to think of it: Was I ever).

So given the fact that the road took an unexpected left or right turn (whichever you prefer as a metaphor) I am enjoying the trip, see where it goes, look for silver linings, be grateful for all the good stuff and try to accept the nasty things :-)”

New Hope ... I hope

Photo from BBC

It was absolutely brilliant to hear President Obama in London this morning talk of his belief in the ‘very special relationship’ between the UK and the US.

I suggest Britain has always been the staunchest of all allies to the US. Long may that continue as far as I am concerned. I feel privileged to have a number of great friends in the US. When I hear your new President talk in such warm terms about my own country I have sense of great pride.

To learn from each other; understand each other; help and support each other seems a great place to start from whether we talk about nations or individuals. President Obama inspires far more confidence than his predecessor. It feels like a new dawn. It is not about who is the senior partner – it is about working together.

I’m convinced President Obama has the potential to be the leader who changed the balance from an obscene worship of money to the care, development and support of people.

I certainly wish him well from this side of the pond.