Friday, 26 November 2010

Words of Wisdom from Seth

Anyone who follows our blogs regularly knows we are advocates of the great Seth Godin. He's not always right but he's always thought provoking and I particularly liked his post to day...

"When you criticize my choices...

I'm less likely to trust your judgment, because you just challenged mine.

I was the victim of a business to business sales call. After the introductions, the CEO of the company pitching me started badmouthing a firm I've worked with. I had just finished talking about how much I liked working with them and how I respected what they were trying to do.

As she and a few other people chimed in with their take on how misguided, lousy and doomed this company was, I couldn't help but notice myself thinking less of my hosts. The only other choice I had was to think less of me... and it was easier and more fun to think less of them instead.

Far more effective, I think, to congratulate the judgment of your prospect based on the information they had at the time, or the goals they had at the time or the resources they had at the time. In fact, it's almost certainly true that given the information, goals and resources they had when they made the decision, they did exactly the right thing.

Then, because things change, it's totally okay to make a new decision based on new information, goals and resources.

Tell me about how things changed. Don't tell me I was an idiot."

You can read this and lots of other Seth posts on Seth's Blog

Friday, 29 October 2010

54 floors up - only 33 to go...

"Firmly based on the historic form of London's masts and spires.."

I'm in London Bridge most days and simply have to admire the progress of The Shard. An amazing edifice that already dwarfs the tower of Guy's Hospital just a few metres away. I don't know what motivates architects to design steeper and steeper skyscrapers, whether it's an ego thing, a legacy thing or a penis envy thing - but this is a beautiful thing. Or will be. The glass is already on the lower floors giving some idea of just how fragile and delicately balanced the whole building will appear. What a shame I'll never get to go up in it. Vertigo and towering monuments never work well together.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Words of encouragement for the terminally dull...

Just found this from Sonia Simone on her blog 'How to Beat Invisible Content Syndrome', that just goes to show even in the Bloggersphere, the occasional truth shines out...

Figure out what you’re so scared of

Most boring people have a really scary story they could tell.

If you’re writing and writing and you can’t capture attention, the awful truth is that your content is probably boring. But that’s not the last word on the subject.

No toddler is boring. Maddening, annoying, headache-inducing, sure. But they’re not boring. Humans just aren’t wired to be boring.

You used to be complicated and fascinating. Something made you boring.

Somewhere along the line, you got punished for being interesting. You got ridiculed for being yourself. You got your hands slapped for coloring outside the lines, and you promised yourself you wouldn’t expose yourself to that again.

You might even have had something really heartbreaking happen. Something that stole your spark before you ever really got to share it.

Oprah, if she had never found the courage to tell her harrowing story of triumph over crushing adversity, would have been another Sally Jessy Raphael. A competent performer. A hard worker. Pretty successful.

But not a game-changer. Not a billionaire.

If you’re boring, it’s because you’re scared and you’re hiding your best stuff. Getting un-scared is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but since you need to do it anyway in order to have a great life, you might as well get started now.

Welcome to Britain

Ports by their nature are generally not the most attractive of places. They're a gateway - you're either going to or coming back from some place and they are just a conduit on your journey. But there's no reason they have to be so dreary.
Take Gatwick, for instance. Yes, it's just a conduit - same as Dover - but the routes to and from it are some of the most high profile advertising spaces in the UK. Imagine how many first impressions of the UK are made on that inaugural journey from Gatwick to London - by road or Gatwick Express. The ads talk about the wealth (high price perfumery and cosmetics), technological advances (phone companies and iPads) and lifestyle choices (theatre, magazine and movie) of the host nation. It is an opportunity to set the tone of the nation, to welcome the visitor. And what do we do with this opportunity in Dover? Once the traveller leaves the confines of the port, the town of Dover sets their expectations with a motley array or boarded up premises, run down, grey social housing, ancient 48 sheet posters - peeling and faded, derelict building sites, a vast, dung brown monstrosity of a tower block, abandoned amusement arcades and roadworks. It surprising any of them make it further than the Esso station before making a u-turn and heading back for the boat.
Of course, the argument the Port Authority would make is that the A2 takes visitors straight from the town so their first impression of the UK is the rolling fields of Kent. And much as I enjoy the majesty of nature, I can't help feeling we're all missing a trick here.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Standard Bigs Up Dover

Excellent feature in today's Evening Standard. All about Farthingloe Village and the Western Heights development. What a shame it takes a London newspaper to promote the benefits of the town when our own papers seem blind to the benefits.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Are we serious about tourism in Dover? Part 1.

As I sail into Dover aboard my cruise ship, I'm greeted by the historic white cliffs - an iconic landmark recognised the world over. "So", I say to myself in French or German or Chinese or American English, "this is my first experience of the UK."

We dock at the port and I decide to forego the usual tourist trips to London or Canterbury. Instead, I decide to stay close to port and explore the attractions of this world famous coastal town, one of the busiest intercontinental transport hubs in Europe.

I stroll down the gang plank on this glorious summer's day, so evocative of all those wonderful 50s WWII films featuring Kenneth Moore or John Mills.

So where to start? The 12th century castle perhaps.

Well, I can see it up there on the hill but I don't really know how to get there. Do I just start walking? Is there a bus? Where's the tourist centre, they'll be able to tell me...... Hmm, where is the tourist centre? I'm standing here by this roundabout watching the articulated lorries hammering by but I'm not sure how to get into the town and there are no obvious signs in any language I understand. In fact, there's nothing in any language except English!

I'll just start walking then.

After 10 minutes of strolling towards the town, I'm on a dual carriageway with nothing that looks like a town centre in any direction. I try to ask directions but am greeted by a large man with a huge stomach, tatoos and an aggressive looking dog shouting 'SPEAK FU**ING ENGLISH' in my face (the big ugly man, not the aggressive dog). I smile politely and carry on.

Eventually, through luck I find myself in what might be the town centre. I can't be sure as most of it appears to be closed. Many of the shops are empty, and the restaurants have a few defeated looking people in them but none of the menus are in any other language but english. Not even a token effort to produce a French or German version. There is however, an enormous TV screen showing children's programs (but alas, not directions to the council). I'm quite hungry and thirsty but the cafes and pubs don't look like they want to cater for tourists and I can't understand any of the notices anyway. And I still haven't found the tourist office. ..

To be continued

Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Perils of People Per Hour...

Had to laugh when we saw this post on People Per Hour

which got this query...

Wonder how much the guy running the agency is charging his clients for copy?

OK, who's for a game of table football?

Quiet week in the studio now that our Cheshire travel agents' newsletter is off to print. Product emailer for our little home shopping company has winged its way out over the ether and we're checking response. So far, enough openers and click thrus to make it worthwhile but people just aren't buying. Is it a sign of the times?
Currently putting together the new CD cover for Unforgiven - our newly adopted favourite Dover based band. Short list of about 4 ideas and S is working up tracklists for presentation. It's not a big payer but it's fun to do so we're happy. Apart from that, its working up new ideas to grow some business.
NB. Found awesome clip for Iron Man 2 v ACDC filmed at Rochester Castle in Kent. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a peek:

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Right Back Missing. Last seen somewhere near Liverpool.

We have only two words to say about England's capitulation to The Bosch; Glen Johnson.
Where was he?
We distinctly remember he was on the team sheet but perhaps he got lost on his way to the pitch. Wherever he was, he definitely wasn't playing right back on Sunday afternoon. Because whenever the Germans felt like having a foray towards goal they decided that Ashley Cole might put up some kind of resistance, where as over on the over side of the pitch they could canter down the line unimpeded. In fact, for the last goal it was left to Gareth Barry to take the wing back's duties - with predictably disastrous results.
Of course, Johnson was there. He was playing his usual game of 'Hollywood Defender' that involves him hanging around the opponent's 18 yard area in the hope of getting his name on the scoresheet... and then hoping someone will do his job for him when we lose the ball. Capello's made a lot of mistakes, taking Johnson is probably the one that has cost us the most.

Note to GJ: If you want to to know what a real right wing back looks like, get a copy of the Brazil v Chile game and watch Maicon for 90 minutes. He gets forward too - but he gets back again (that's the bit you need to remember). Oh well, onto the Euros with Harry in charge!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Dismal Dover

If you were asked to invent the worst seaside town you could think of, it would be difficult to come up with anything more dismal than Dover.

A town where almost the entire sea front is obscured by one of the ugliest blocks of post war flats outside of Soviet Russia. A seaside town devoid of any kind of seaside attraction; no foodstalls, no amusements, no excitement, no where to sip a cool evening beverage and admire the views of the ferries coming and going. A no where town. No where near a resort.

Dover is a town mired in inertia, where enterprise is thwarted, where local grandees squabble over the meagre pickings and the harbour board excuse their destruction of the character of the town by citing the fact they are the biggest employer. "We create all the work, so we can ruin the place. Tough".
In short, Dover is a hole. The sea front is an array of decrepit, derelict buildings, overshadowed by that hideous masterpiece of modern architecture, Burlington House. A grand name for a kack brown, corrugated and unappealing monstrosity. An empty shell of a building kept standing by the crop of anntenae that support it (rather than the other way around) because in a town as poor as Dover the rental income from the aerials actually generates sufficient income to warrant its ongoing existence. Dover, the only town where an empty building creates more cash than its surrounding environment.
But Burlington House is just one of the many issues faced by this ailing area. Low employment, petty crime, an aging population, poverty, chaotic town planning and a backward looking mentality that still regards WWII as the heyday.
So is all hope lost?
Not necessarily. Dover needs imagination, vitality and a commitment to quality that will raise the aspirations of its people and businesses. Dover should stop thinking of itself as the historic last staging post of the UK but the modern gateway to the continent. If Dover is always going to be a port, let's invest in making it a magnificent portal. It has a unique position; it is both a welcome home and exciting launchpad - two genuine emotional connections that resonate with today's constantly moving population. Let's start capitalising on that distinction. Let's get Dover Council, it's business community, it's people, it's stakeholders, and Charlie Elphicke (its MP) working together to make this unique location more than just a tired thoroughfare. Let's champion Dover as a destination in it's own right. One that give visitors a better first impression than derelict buildings, empty hotels and the stench of decay.