Beware of the “Connected”

Another of our clients has been stung by someone they hired because of a promise to “open doors” and introduce them to connections in high places.

Here’s the thing. If someone approaches you claiming to be highly connected and promises to introduce your business to those connections, they aren’t and they won’t. They aren’t highly connected (no matter how many LinkedIn connections they have) because anyone that is well-networked would never make that claim. Who wants to be connected to someone who insists on repeatedly introducing them to any old tat just because there’s a fee in it? And that’s why they won’t successfully introduce you to anyone. They might try, but it’s very unlikely that you will build any meaningful relationships.

Let’s just call these people what they are: sales agents. There’s nothing wrong in that. For the right business model, a good sales person is worth her weight in gold. But giving a slice of equity away because somebody claims to be well-networked is a nonsense. Put them on a commission, train them up and let them get on with it.

Anybody that is well-networked would NEVER claim to be. Because that defeats the point of being well-networked. Any successful networker knows that the value in her network is the value derived by both parties that are the subject of an introduction.

Think deeper, people. Not wider…

We Must Be Mad…

“I’ve just had a text from Lucas’ mum” said my wife as she examined her phone, “he can come”.

A pause.

“Oh and I’ve had a text from Joel’s dad” she continued, “he questions our sanity but says Joel will come.”

Our number two and four of his seven-year-old friends for a birthday sleepover.  I think Joel’s dad may have a point.

“Er, you know that I won’t be here?”, I say.  A look of mild panic creeps across Amanda’s face.

“What?  Why?  Where will you be?”

“I haven’t decided that yet” I reply, “but not here.”

Well, it was worth a try.

Memory Tapes

This was not quite my first mix tape, but I think it might have been the second.  I came across it the other day.  I think the first one was better and was from about 1983 and had stuff like OMD, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and all sorts of other good stuff.  I think this was 1984 and is my earliest survivor.  It’s recorded on a TDK D90…

Bird of Paradise – Snowy White

Love of the Common People – Paul Young

Hold Me Now – Thompson Twins

Club Tropicana – Wham

Waves – Blancmange (still think this is awesome)

Electric Dreams – Phil Oakey & Giorgio Moroder

Missing You – John Waite

Hello – Lionel Ritchie (a lot of soppy stuff on this tape…)

Too Late for Goodbyes – Julian Lennon (whatever happened to him)

Against All Odds – Phil Collins (really..?)

White Lines (Don’t Do It) – Grandmaster & Melle Mel (now that’s what I’m talking about)

You’re the Best Thing – Style Council

Small Town Boy – Bronski Beat

Lessons in Love – Level 42

Absolute Beginners – David Bowie

Invisible Touch – Genesis

Happy Hour – The Housemartins

Look Away – Big Country (such a loss)

Is This Love? – Whitesnake

Lies – Jonathan Butler (don’t remember that one at all)

Pretty in Pink – Psychedelic Furs (big sign-off!)

And if that’s not enough, the name of this tape is “Essential Edits”.  This is sooooo embarrassing but somehow I feel much better for it.

In my defence, may I add that the first 12” and 7” vinyl that I bought was Blondie – Parallel Lines and Cool for Cats by Squeeze back in 1978 at the age of 9, so I was a lot cooler in the 70s obviously…

How to Make Yourself Unelectable (in one easy step)

The current fuss over a bill to require a referendum in 2017 misses the very first point that all law students learn in their first Constitutional Law session: no Parliament can be bound by the actions or predilections of any predecessor. So the proposed bill, whether it’s a private members bill or is government-sponsored, is entirely pointless.

When we use the word “Parliament”, we mean in essence the House of Commons as it is composed between general elections.  It’s a rule that came about during ‘the English wars’ after Charles I was deposed and the Roundheads were keen not to be bound by the parliaments that he had thrown together to do his bidding before his demise.  And it’s been like that ever since.

Anyway, back to the point.  Why would Tory backbenchers want to introduce a bill that serves no purpose?

What’s really happening here is that the Tories are convinced that if they simply say that they will introduce a referendum bill after the next general election, voters on the doorstep won’t believe them.  So they think that if they create a law that requires them to introduce such a bill after the election and they get back in, we’ll be convinced that they have no option but to introduce the referendum bill.  Even though the bill now contemplated would, at that point, be unconstitutional and meaningless.  And would be ignored were, lawks-a-mercy, Labour to get back in or the Lib Dems be involved in the next Government.

The usual Tory suspects really think you’ll fall for this.  Because they really think you are that stupid.

Are you?  Well, I guess we’ll see when this issue is debated in the run-up to the next election…

Nasty, Brutish and Short

“Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”.  That’s how the philosopher Thomas Hobbes described life.  Of course, this was part of his treatise “Leviathon”, but it’s one of the few things I took away from the Political Philosophy module I was forced to take as part of my degree. It is a quote that I often reflect on when I hear news of bad things or when I receive knock backs and when I do, it’s invariably the “nasty and brutish” bit that I’m thinking of.

On the subject of the nasty and the brutish, my wife’s work as a barrister involves her extensively in the murky world of child abuse.  She is an expert in the field of historic abuse but in more recent cases, the internet, especially Facebook, plays a very big role.  Acting as an advocate for prosecution or defence is her main job but she also works part-time as a judge in the Crown Court.  While doing so late last year, she discussed this issue with a fellow Judge.  He reflected that Facebook had played a part in every single child abuse case he had dealt with that year.  Needless to say, Amanda is very much NOT a fan of Facebook or of Twitter or of social networking and media generally.

Whilst listening to the radio yesterday (Sunday) morning, a train of thought started in my head concerning Amanda’s old university friend Julie Saville.  Julie and Amanda had driven across America together and Julie had been a bridesmaid at our wedding back in 1996 (here’s a picture of her).  I had met her a few times and in 1998, shortly before emigrating to the USA, she came to spend a weekend with us at our first home, a little terraced house in Thetford.
Julie at our wedding, 7th September 1996.

Julie at our wedding, 7th September 1996.

Julie was one of those unfortunate people born with no conventional sense of humour.  That’s not to say she was a very serious person.  With her blonde hair and ready smile, those who knew her informally might reasonably have described her as “ditsy”.  I spent most of my time with her cracking jokes, trying to get her laugh instinctively.  However, the outcome was invariably that the delivery of the punchline was followed by a brief silence after which Julie would rock her head back, close her eyes and issue forth a breathy laugh.  I am not sure that she was aware that I knew that her laugh was false but whether I did or not was not the point.  The point was that she didn’t want me to feel bad because she hadn’t understood the joke.

But the glint in those green eyes of hers betrayed a steely sense of determination.  Julie was a teacher but her ambition was to run a school as soon as possible, she was already by that time acting-headteacher of her school in West Yorkshire.  She was barely 30.  My recollection is that she was offered the chance to take a role as deputy Principal of a school in New York and that the role came with a green card.  That might not have been quite how it was, but whatever the situation, she jumped at the chance.  We didn’t hear from her after she left but we would occasionally joke that she probably had no time at all, that she was likely running the education system there now and probably had met a nice local man and married him.

I thought: what a lovely opportunity to demonstrate to Amanda that Facebook could do wonderful things, like reconnecting old friends, rather than just being used by evil people to manipulate and harm.  So I set to Googling for Julie and I soon found her.  She had been appointed as the first head teacher of the newly formed British School of Boston.  On 23 September 2000, just a few weeks into the school’s very first term, Julie drove home as usual.  Taking the exit from the motorway, she came face to face with an SUV being driven in the wrong direction, chased by police cars.  The car ploughed into Julie’s VW Golf.  Julie was taken to hospital and died there later that night.

The driver of the other car, a woman named Martha Powers, was drunk.  It was the third time that she had been found drunk at the wheel of a car.  She was convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment.  The local paper described what followed as an “outpouring of grief”.  A charity, Julie’s Fund, was set up in her name and every year the children of the British School of Boston raise money for the fund, the proceeds of which go to schools in deprived neighbourhoods.

To have discovered this about an old friend unexpectedly would be shock enough.  But to find that it had happened over twelve years ago, literally a lifetime ago – our eldest, now 11, did not arrive until December of the following year.  That has sparked in my mind such a curious combination of emotions that I don’t know quite where to start.  My first concern was for Amanda.  Would it be better to leave her thinking that one of her old friends was still doing what she loved in the country she had adopted as home?  And that one day we would reconnect and reminisce about that wonderful weekend in the Yorkshire Dales?  But those that know Amanda won’t be surprised to hear that she soon realised that there was something on my mind and with her years of experience, it didn’t take her long to drag it out of me.

I didn’t know Julie very well, but I knew her well enough to know that she was a lovely, friendly woman but one who was clearly also single-minded and talented in her chosen profession.  And I, as somebody who didn’t know her particularly well, feel a sense of being bereft, but at the same time, something of a sense of shame that I hadn’t tried to make contact with her before.  And somehow, it feels a bit odd, to feel quite so unsettled by the loss of someone we had last seen almost 15 years ago and who died 12 years ago.

So here we are, with Julie long gone, wondering what we are to make of it all.  It’s a bit much to take in, I suppose.  But one thing I am sure of is that for Julie, life was neither solitary nor poor and it was never nasty or brutish.  But it was short.  Much too short.

Julie, we have only just started to miss you.


We’ve had to endure some shocking Dubya-style blunders by Simon Hughes during the India tour, my personal favourite being his explanation as to how many of the grounds are named after local politicians and administrators, before turning to Sunil Gavaskar to ask “who is the chap that this ground is named after, Jawaharlal Nehru?”. Yes, that would be Nehru, first prime minister of India and founder of the non-aligned movement.

Then this morning two more back to back. First, “I was surprised to find that Delhi is actually in the north of the country, almost right up amongst the Arab countries”. Those well-known Arab countries Pakistan, Nepal and Tibet.

And then there was “A large RAF plane flies overhead”.  Again, Sunil rides to the rescue in typically understated form, “I think that might have been an Indian Air Force plane”.  On the basis that India has been independent since 1947.

I’ve noticed that Aggers is considered surplus to requirements as far as overseas one-day matches are concerned.  I’m not sure why that is.  What I do know is that as a summariser and technical analyst, Simon Hughes is actually quite good.  As a commentator, however, he is not merely bad and not just embarrassing.  He could actually endanger relationships with our friends abroad.