Archive for March, 2010

29 Shut up, Matron

Posted in Uncategorized on MarchFri, 26 Mar 2010 16:09:07 +00000926pm10 24 PMpFri, 26 Mar 2010 16:09:07 +000009Friday 09 by nielsendinwoodie

As we move from a pleasingly frozen winter to a refreshingly balmy spring – and as the UK descends into a quagmire of nostalgic national strikes – there is much to enjoy in this return to the certainties of the past.

We now see that climate change was an elaborate fabrication, and that the grit of social strife remains our perpetual oyster.

There’s no denying that when Unite grounds your plane and the RMT cancels your train for Easter, it’s hard to throw your hat in the air with joy. Yet at least in the West we can contest authority, a privilege not known everywhere.

It’s a privilege we exercise remarkably little. Milgram’s electric shock experiment (recently revamped on French TV to much scandale, the original Yale account is worth googling) is only one of many demonstrations of how we happily kowtow to anything in a white coat.

Voices of authority corral us constantly. Not least on public transport every morning, as Matron scrubs our ears with a hefty carbolic of patronising announcements – “Do try to keep all personal items with you at all times” – as if we’re simpletons whose conkers keep falling out of our pockets. We hear it ten times an hour, and we don’t complain.

Well, it’s official, innit? We got to listen.
Not always. A friend recently told me how he’d attended a course where “some consultant yakked for hours like bullshit bingo was going out of fashion.” The consultant in the role of authority figure informed my friend, who is a surveyor, that he wasn’t a surveyor but an agent of change. How did you respond? I asked. “I punched him in the throat.”

I wish. Consultants who wrap expensive advice in a flannel of second-hand management-speak should be set upon a ducking stool above a vat of vinegar.

So here to redress the balance on behalf of the rest of my profession is the first of an eight-part series that tells you some commonsense stuff you already know about winning work. First: why it pays to just answer the question.

If a client is asking how you will control quality on their project, they’re not asking for a ten-page treatise on the philosophy of procurement methodology. They just want to know how you’ll guarantee quality for them.

Resist the temptation to answer the question you want to answer, instead of the one in front of you. Don’t talk around the topic of the question. Just answer the bloody question.

Sorry, was that too obvious? You knew that, didn’t you? Voltaire, that complicated mind, that great authority, got it wrong: commonsense is in common supply.

Nielsen Dinwoodie
business messages that people remember


28 Sarah Beeny and the love child of sin

Posted in Uncategorized on MarchFri, 12 Mar 2010 01:29:31 +00002912am10 24 AMpFri, 12 Mar 2010 01:29:31 +000029Friday 09 by nielsendinwoodie

When I started this blog, I promised never to make it too personal. Never to spout from my sock drawer and pretend my personal issues were public issues. Or indeed that my tissues were your tissues. And now that swine flu has been proved just another version of political clover (duh, who didn’t see that coming?), I have no need for tissues at all.

So, on the lookout for issues this week, and mindful that the Canadian blonde and I are in danger of moving flat just in order to stop bumping into each other in every miniature room here in bijou W9 when the washing’s on the rack or you both want to sit on the sofa at the same time, I got in touch with Sarah Beeny.

Oh, come on. The Property Ladder woman off Channel 4. She knows a lot about sofa and racks. She’s some business brain, she is. Not only does she promulgate the contemporary pattern of finding love online (which will only be news to you if you still look forward to church hall beetle drives) via her mysinglefriend website. She is also in the vanguard of the global annihilation of estate agents. Can you hear the cheering?

Yeah, them estate agents need a good rottweiller up their particulars, don’t they?
Bit harsh maybe? In fact, estate agents’ sins of the 90s – when all their rampant humping and gazumping gave birth to the evil love child they called Foxtons – have been largely replaced on the hate charts by bankers and politicians as the latterday mutilators of your personal trust fund.

However, hiring an estate agent today still means deleting a minimum of 2% off your capital gain, even before the taxman rises with a smile in the morning. At least, that’s the figure down here in the soft belly of London. And we accept it because, unlike proper men from Yorkshire, we’re too frightened to slam tradesmen against the lock-up garage and threaten to send them down’t pit-bull if they don’t offer a concessionary commission.

Giving 2% of your dosh away can be hard to stomach. Especially when the Property Sales Consultant taking potential purchasers round your cherished home that you’ve enticingly sprayed with just-baked cookie scent is a boychild in a Mr Dazzle suit with last night’s glue in his pocket.

And so it came to pass that Saint Sarah Beeny had another good idea.

How so?
She has created a website where you can sell your gaff for free. When began last June, all you did was take some blurry snaps of your property on your Motorola Katona and lob them online. Now it has 3,700 followers on Twitter and million quid penthouses lit by Rankin.

And how this relates to business is…
This is hardly cutting-edge anarchism. It’s just using the tool that millions of us turn to every day. Picture those estate agents in their shabby offices in Clerkenwell, shivering like a bunch of chalk-knuckled Cratchitts waiting to see if the internet might be a passing fad.

What Tepilo has done is take on the unthinking, the lazy comfort of the status quo. Goodbye estate agents as we have known you. Turn your market Breitlings to 2010.

Like Beeny’s dating site, where you big up the charms of your best mate to an audience of potential amours, Tepilo takes a different slant at an old problem. Like, for example? Oh, I don’t know… Apple? Satnav? Napster? Bluetooth? Even M&S.

What that lot did was to recognise a need for change and address it. Does this match your experience in business? Can you name a company you’ve ever worked for where the determination to make things better got actioned every day?

Inertia isn’t inspiring. If your place of work could do with a rocket in the thought department, I suggest you supply it and reap the reward of commercial gratitude. Or take your brilliance elsewhere. Nowhere has rights of indolence any more.

Everyone needs to fly like Beenys to a honey pot.

Nielsen Dinwoodie
business messages people remember