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My First Novel

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They say that everyone has a book in them. I know there is one in me, but I’m just not sure what it is.

If there is indeed a book in all of us, let’s try to discover it together… And perhaps we’ll learn something about ourselves along the way…

So, the first question must be, will it be fiction or non-fiction?

Could I write fiction? I don’t think so… I believe to write good fiction, you have to be able to get excited about another life or world in absolute detail, and I’m too focused on real life and what I can make it do for me. My fiction would have to become my reality, or it’s just a waste of time and energy. I’m not a dreamer, because dreams don’t come true. I’m more a doer. Does this mean I’m missing out on something?

I couldn’t write a travel book because when I travel, I spend so much time in the moment, enjoying the experience, I rarely even stop to take photos. I also struggle to store the memories in any form of order, so I’d get my travel stories all mixed up. Do I spend too much time in the moment, and don’t pay enough attention to memories?

I couldn’t write a cook book, obviously! Mostly because it involves the kitchen, and my only friend in that scary place is the fridge. I have tried to follow recipes, but OMG, why so much mess??? Do I eat out too much?

Maybe I could write a murder-mystery. I love a good mystery. I could write the perfect murder, or the perfect heist. But is that possible? Surely if it was, it would have been written and acted out many times already. I remember one of my favourite episodes of Columbo being called ‘the perfect murder’, and my hero solved it within the first minutes. Not that perfect…

Maybe I could write a love story. Actually, I’d rather not, because I’m living in one, and it’s private!

I could write a self-help book. Trouble is, it would be too short; “Just get over yourself and face life. It’s great, if you live it.”

So, what are we left with?

Biography – usually about dead people so what’s the point?

Fashion – a bit like my self-help book, too short; “get a mirror”.

Health and Fitness – as above.” Eat less and join a gym”.

History – see Biography

Autobiography… now that might work…

I’m the star, which is a good start. I could share my life experiences and lessons to help others. This is truly what I try to do every day. I honestly think that each one of us can be better, make more of our lives and give more to those that are important to us, thereby making them better. It would be like a positive plague. But we are usually too busy with stuff to bother. Do I make enough time to coach, help and support others?

So, I’m going to write a book called, “a better you”. I will try to make it easy for the reader to see how they can be a better version of themselves. This will, in turn, infect others by making them a little better too. It will change the world.

But, will I ever get around to it..?

Where do people find the time to write books anyway?

Is that really all authors do? Really??

Maybe one day I will write the book, maybe you’ll write yours too, but is there really a book in everyone. I doubt it. And if we all stopped to write books, maybe the real world would grind to a halt. So instead of faffing around writing books, let’s just share our unique gifts and talents a little more.

If you are great at robbing banks, good luck, be happy, be safe.

If you love history then tell us more about it, and make it more interesting please.

If you are great at cooking… help!!

If you specialise in fashion, then I’ve got some colleagues and friends who need your help

If health and fitness is your thing, then nip down to McDonalds and start a movement.

Whatever you do, however small, share your gifts and make someone a little better, thanks to you. Now that would be novel…

What’s your legacy?

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This week marks the 10th anniversary of the sad death of Tim Gasson, who died in a car crash on the night of 20th May 2007. Tim founded my company, Absolute Corporate Events, in 1995 and built the foundations that have created the company that I am proud to own today.

I knew Tim, although while he was alive neither of us ever dreamt that I would one day take over his company, or indeed, follow in his footsteps. He was a charismatic, stand-out leader, steeped in integrity and genuine care for his company and its people. As HBAA Chairman, he produced some of the most memorable events, that are still talked about today. I try to be as good a leader, and I worked hard to create impactful and memorable events for the members of HBAA when I served as Chairman for two years. I hope he would be proud of me. I try to respect, support and inspire those around me, to create a good legacy.

At 40, Tim had no chance to consider his legacy, as he lived life to the full, and never saw his untimely death coming.

Alfred Nobel, on the other hand, had an opportunity to see his legacy, and he didn’t like what he saw. The Swedish born chemical engineer invented dynamite. In a lab explosion, his younger brother, Emil and four others, were killed. A local newspaper mistakenly thought that Alfred himself had been killed, and published an obituary that highlighted how his inventions had made it possible for humans to kill each other. It described him as a man who had made it possible to kill more people more quickly than anyone else who had ever lived.

Alfred Nobel was horrified that this is how he would be remembered. At that moment, he decided to change his legacy. The Nobel Peace Prize was born, and true to his ambition, Nobel is mostly remembered for his public and global contribution to peace.

If Tim had known what his legacy would become, I think he would be happy and proud. His company lives on, his dear friends still talk about him, and he is remembered as a good man who enriched the lives of others.

What would your legacy be?

We all have the power to write our own obituary, to create our own legacy. Legacy can be defined as how you effect those around you. The impact you make, the changes you drive, the examples you set. If you focus too much on personal goals, you may very well achieve them, but who or what else did you positively effect? What will this do for your legacy?

Without a legacy, you live, you do stuff, then you die. Nothing has changed, and no one or nothing is better because of you. A pretty pointless life.

It would benefit all those who know you if you spent a few moments today thinking about the legacy you would like to leave, or how you’d like to be remembered. And if you can’t see others remembering you this way, then you’ve got some work to do to create a legacy you’d be proud of.

Don’t just live and die.

Like my friend, Tim Gasson, leave a legacy, and leave the world a little better, just because you were part of it.

Time to set sail…?

models-br51As a birthday looms it makes me think about the passing of time and also the wasting of time.

It’s not a big birthday, to be clear, more a teeny tiny one, but never the less, birthdays always make me reflect.

Have I made the most of my years so far? Am I where I’d hoped to be? Have I effected a positive and meaningful influence on anyone? Am I a good person, a good boss, a good son, brother, friend and partner? Do I get things done and most importantly for me, have I made a difference?

I’m a speed boat. I choose my own direction, my speed and my destination. I make waves, but providing you are on board, or you can see me, you can ride the waves and have some fun.

At times, I think it would be nice to be a sailing boat. Letting the wind and tides carry me. Sometimes gentle, sometimes rough; to unpredictable destinations. No race, no deadlines and no schedule. Not affecting or hurting anyone. And provided I keep my wits about me and prepare for the worst, I could lead a care-free, more spiritual life. But would that be right for me?
Some of us love to race, not wasting a moment, always focused on the destination and the outcome.

Others have a more relaxed life plan and go with the flow, knowing that everything usually works out for the best.
But each type of boat requires a specific set of natural skills and desires. Neither is better than the other, but I think we can only be truly happy in one type of boat. It really doesn’t matter what boat you are, proving it is the right one for you.

The speed boat requires planning, preparation and bravery. Remaining on course, against all odds must remain the primary focus. You can’t take any chances. Never looking back, only forwards.

The sail boat requires a level of confidence that allows you to deal with anything as it seemingly appears from no-where. You’ll need a mind that is not only open to the unexpected, but free enough to cope with the unpredictable. You need to keep looking all around you, not just forwards.

If you’re a speed boat, do you always get to your destinations on time? Do you effect change and influence others? Do you improve not only your life, but the lives of those around you? Do you enjoy the ride, or do you just feel like everything is racing by too quickly?

If you’re a sail boat, are you happy drifting? Does the lack of direction lead to a carefree and uncluttered mind? Does it make you a more grounded and life-loving person? Do people around you wish that they were as spiritual as you? Or do you just feel unfulfilled and out of control?

It’s never too late to change boats, in fact it’s never too late to change anything.

One thing is for sure though, make certain you’re in the right boat for you and for the ride you want, and if you’re not, change, boats.

Just never, ever jump ship…

You’re not as good as you think you are…

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Some people seem to have all the luck. Good things happen to them, they always win, they never seem to make any mistakes, and life appears to come easy to them. We used to say; they always come up smelling of roses, or they always land on their feet.

Others have to fight for every victory, they never actually win anything, success doesn’t come easy, life doesn’t seem easy, it’s a constant up-hill struggle, and if anything can go wrong it usually does.

Which are you?

If you are the second, and you feel you have to fight to succeed and that good things don’t come easy, but bad things do, then change something around you. Life isn’t written, and tomorrow truly is a blank page. You really can make small or drastic change in a heartbeat, and then like ripples on a pond, the change will create more change, much of it unpredictable, but all of it new.
One change is all it needs… Changing a job, or how you do your job, will change the prospect of success. Changing your friends, or how you interact with them, will change what happens to you when you are with them. Changing how you manage or interact with your family will change how they make you feel.

The great bonus for these people is when they experience joy or success, they love it, because they have never taken it for granted. These people can be the most fortunate and rewarded of all. But they have the hardest time changing the little things in order to find happiness.

If you are the first type of person, and you always expect to win, things usually always work out, and success is a habit you have learned to enjoy. Then watch out! You are heading for the biggest crash of your life, and you’d better start preparing for it. You believe that your positive attitude, your cool confidence, and your natural life skills have led you to this high tower of success and happiness that you mostly enjoy. And you’re right. You have no doubt expertly crafted your surroundings in order to promote success and happiness, but you are surrounded by those who envy your positon. But even if they don’t get you, something unexpected will. That’s just the random element of life. Even though it fears you the most, you will one day have to face the no-win-scenario – something you just cannot get right or succeed at. Prepare to take this in your stride, and don’t let it destroy you. It will just make you humble, more likeable and more real.

So if you are the person who fights for every small success, and you feel that things don’t normally work out for you, then look around at what and who is around you when you feel this way, and begin to plan those small changes. It may be something simple to start with, like letting someone go in front of you in a queue or letting a packed train go by. But it’s a start, it’s a small change, which will make you feel like a better person and also make you more open to how small changes can have a big impact.

If you are a natural winner, and you always land on your feet, then keep your eyes open as you jump, to make sure no-one removed the crash mat. If you prepare for a fall, then your knees will absorb much of the impact. If you don’t prepare, it will hurt like hell.

Where is your passion?

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So, I am 3 months into puppy ownership, and one of the most unexpected discoveries (apart from the amount of poo a tiny puppy can actually produce on a daily basis) is how lovely dog-world actually is. When we are out walking our puppy, other dog owners stop and say hello. They ask our puppy’s name, and they introduce theirs. This even happens on the tube! In London! Where normally people generally try their hardest to get from A to B without catching anyone’s eye or crossing anyone’s path, let alone stopping en route for a chat.

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Release your inner puppy

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For those that know me well, it will come as no small surprise, that my partner and I have recently taken a puppy into our home.

It’s also fair to say that although it’s very cute, it comes with super responsibility, and it is a real life-changer, but hopefully when the ‘training phase’ is over, we’ll be left with a joyous bundle of fluff.

It did make me realise though, the way a puppy views life is a not something to be sniffed at, and perhaps a lesson to us all.

One of the most rewarding things about having a puppy is the welcome you receive when coming home. The puppy is never in a bad mood, never too busy to look up when I walk through the door, and never grunts a half-hearted ‘morning’ when I see her for the first time each day. She leaps and bounds and tells me her day just got better because she saw me for the first time. I’m not suggesting employing such a greeting in your office, but a chirpy and genuine ‘good morning’ to your friends and colleagues will tell them that you care, you are interested in them and with that, you help them to approach their day with a smile, rather than a heavy heart.

In a puppy’s world, everything is new and exciting, and that excitement is a joy to watch. A walk is always fun, a stick is like Christmas, and an old sock… well words cannot explain! Look around your team and spot the puppies; those that approach everything with a smile. They like to learn, they like new things, they have a slight bounce in their step, and they are super positive. They are probably the best performers too, certainly the clients’ favourite. Don’t you prefer to work with the puppies in your team?

There is also a lesson in puppy training. Positive encouragement is always better than punishment. Scold a puppy and you end its world, its sad eyes can melt even a cold heart. But reward and encourage a puppy to do things right or better, and it doesn’t just learn, but it enjoys the process. This is the best way to train a new member of your team. Highlighting or even ridiculing mistakes as your new starter is learning will only encourage them to hide their next mistake. Too much telling will stifle creativity and experimentation, the only route to real change.

A puppy can change you, and so can each new person that joins your team.

So as they learn, make sure you do too. Learn from their fresh new view of the world, it could in a small way, make yours better.

Is your manager a bad Apple?

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Last week the latest IOS update for the iPhone was released by Apple.

Until Apple changed the world, software updates were boring.

An update from Microsoft has always meant that you have to stop what you are doing, hand over control of your computer to Microsoft for an indeterminate length of time, and wait, while your computer downloads and then installs its latest update.

Everything stops. Nothing works. And you have no idea how long the interruption will last. Time passes. Time is wasted.

Then when the update is completed, you restart your device (more lost time) and you continue where you left off. Nothing has changed. Nothing seems new. Nothing is different. You soon forget the interruption, you rush to make up the lost time, and you carry on regardless.

Apple has changed all that. As soon as an update is even announced, there is a frenzy of social media speculation and media interest in what new features the new update may bring. Experts offer opinions, hackers present apparently stolen insights, reviewers anticipate the effects. We are excited, or at least curious to know what treats the forthcoming update will deliver.

When the update is ready to download, Apple experiences an instant and enormous surge of activity, as the world downloads the update, all at the same time. It’s a surge that Apple has had to invest huge amounts of money to ensure its systems can meet the massive and simultaneous peak in demand.

Work doesn’t stop whilst we download, as with Microsoft. We carry on, not losing time, trying to stave off the excitement and anticipation.

Once downloaded, we are ready to go. No need to restart. We simply dive in, discover what’s new, adapt our lives to incorporate the update and carry on. A little better that before. Maybe a little faster, maybe for a little longer. Perhaps with a few new tricks or shortcuts.

Apple has taught us to anticipate every update, to value it, to adapt to it, and we expect to be a little better as a result of it. We look forward to every update, we download it right away and it doesn’t interfere with our lives or waste any time. In a small way, each update makes us better, faster, more efficient, more content. Certainly we are at least a little better equipped to deal with the world today.

Microsoft updates remain uninspiring, time-robbing, seemingly pointless, and the updates themselves are often something we actually put off until absolutely necessary. They give us nothing. They just slow us down.

So, which one is your manager….?

Do you value the time you spend with your manager? Do you learn anything? Do you go away a little better? More confident, more motivated, better equipped to deal with your work today?

Or is listening to your manager just a waste of time. Seemingly pointless, something you try to avoid, and something that just slows you down?

Good manager downloads should be just like those from Apple. Improving your life in small but meaningful ways.

If yours are not, perhaps it’s time to upgrade…

Without change, nothing happens

As a ball rolls down a hill, the journey it takes is totally controlled by the terrain. If it’s smooth, the ball will take a predictable, and direct route to the bottom of the hill, where it will come to rest.

But we have the power to completely change, and almost control, not only its route, but also its final destination.

By placing obstacles in its path, we can change its direction. Adding a sand patch to the hill, will slow down its decent. Diverting the ball to a running stream will make it speed away, and head to a completely different destination, perhaps miles away from its start. By placing a small ramp in its path, the ball will fly.

Without change, the ball simply rolls to the bottom of the hill. With change, the ball gets a longer, more varied journey. It can travel, it can fly.

Our lives are the same. We roll along, reacting to what is in our path, but we can see the bottom of the hill, and we know we will end up there.

So, without change, nothing happens.

Change, is a decision, a move, an intervention, a determined search, a different perspective, a different view point. This could relate you how we manage our family, or friends, our home, or our career.

Change something, and something new happens as a result.

We are not balls rolling down a hill. We have the power to choose our own path. And if we don’t like the one we are on, we can stop, face the other way, and start a new one. We don’t even have to roll at all. We can climb, we can stand and watch. We can even fly.

Our journey is totally unpredictable, but only with change.

Without it, our lives are inevitable.

Without change nothing happens.

Why are event managers such bad parents?

There are basically two types of parent.

The best type of parent will coach and praise their children, in order to build their confidence, and they inspire or challenge them to try harder and achieve great things. They focus on success and outcomes. These children grow up to be winners, leaders, and happy, capable self-sufficient adults.

The other type, often called helicopter parents, constantly hover over their children, giving detailed orders and instructions for the simplest of tasks. They correct every mistake, and they never give their children a chance to experiment or fail. They focus on the detail of doing something, rather than the result or purpose. These children grow up without the ability to make tough decisions, or handle any kind of pressure, and they are usually dreaming of a happier life, which they will never find. Basically because you don’t find a happier life, you make one.

Now imagine an event manager as the parent, and the conference delegate as the child…

Most event managers behave like a helicopter parents; even when managing a conference attended by senior managers, business leaders, or law partners. These people can, on a normal day, not only get to their office all by themselves, but they can manage to find the closest train station without the help of a ‘personalised travel guidance pack’, or if they drive, they cleverly ask their sat-nav for help. They can pack what they need for the day, without a list of ‘things you will need’, they can find their way to a meeting without the help of human signage and branded arrows. At the end of the day, when all their meetings are over, they are not thrown into a tailspin if they can’t spend the night in the same building as their meetings, they seem to be totally at ease with walking down the road to the closest hotel.

So, why is it, we event managers assume all our delegates are like clueless 5-year-olds, who have to be molly-coddled through their day, signposted round ever turn, and eased into any change of environment? These are grown ups! They can run companies, they can hire and fire people, they can win business, they can do really complicated things like catch planes by themselves, track down a place to buy coffee and even hail a cab.

Event managers unite – stop being helicopter parents !

It’s time for us to make our delegates grow up.

The next time you are with a client, planning an event, try to use some of these terrifying phrases…

I’m sure they will find their own way to the Hilton, even from the airport;

I think the hotel signage is fine as it is;

Let’s let the delegate chose which hotel they want to stay in, and then they can make their own way there and back each day;

If they want a coffee, they can order one;

If it gets too crowded here, they will just move to the other end of the room;

If a queue builds up, they’ll just have to wait in line;

If they have so many dietary requirements that all they can eat is sun-dried, organic kiwi fruit with the peel cut off, they will surely bring their own…

Shall we just let them sit with their friends?

If they forget their badge, they’ll just have to ask for a new one;

If the front row doesn’t fill up first, it surely will when there are no other seats left !

If they don’t visit all the exhibition booths, it’s because THEY DON’T WANT TO !

If there’s a pillar in the room, people will surely just not sit behind it !

If they don’t want to dance, THEY WON’T DANCE !

Let’s inspire our delegates to do great things, just like we would our own children. Don’t condemn them to a life of unfulfilled dreams…

to be or not to be…?

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Most of us have ‘to-do-lists’

We fill them with tasks.

The tasks themselves don’t really change or achieve very much, and the only real satisfaction we get is by crossing something off the list. It’s not the task itself that makes us feel good, or proud, it is the fact that it has been completed, and now behind us.

Do we ever get to the end of a to-do-list, or do we just continue to add to it? So is it never ending, ever changing, and just a way of ordering and filling our time?

Consider the difference it would make if we replaced our to-do-list with a to-be-list.

When we were children, before we learned the concept of ‘tasks’, we used to work with to-be-lists without even realising it. We wanted to be older, we wanted to be a pilot, a teacher, or a footballer. We wanted to be popular, to be a prize-winner, or just to be playing outside. During our early childhood years is when we changed the most, perhaps because we were focussing more on what we wanted to be. But who says we can only change as we move from toddler to grown up? Maybe if we continue to focus on what we want to be, we can continue to change ourselves, and also those around us.

So rather than adding to the list of tasks you need to get through today, why not use a few quiet moments to list the things you want to be, the things you want to achieve, the things you’ve dreamed of, or wished for?

My to-be-list would look something like this;

I want to be:

  • A positive influence on everyone in my world
  • Different
  • Controversial
  • A leader who inspires others to be better and do better
  • The favourite uncle
  • The best son, brother and partner
  • Remembered

Once uncluttered by tasks and the never-ending to-do-list, perhaps a brand new to-be-list can really make a change to our future selves, and at the same time have a massive effect on those around us. It’s never too late to change, and it’s never too late to achieve your dreams.