Archive for the ‘business’ Category

Notes from my TEDx Liffey talk

Friday, April 16th, 2010

And these were my notes from TEDx Liffey.

Accidental Business Man

A few years back people asked me to show them how to blog. They offered me money to train them. It went from there to online marketing training to whatever it is I do today. I never saw myself as a business person. Right now, in this time slice of my life, I happen to be someone with a gob that has a business

Jacked in the day job

So as I trained more people and companies, I eventually and after a bit of protest from myself, left the day job and started a business. Goodbye gourmet chef, 9-5 , 5 days a week job, hello just me, alone without support. So I told people I was in this business lark and worked flowed in. Pretty much still works like that. I don’t seek work.

Waking up not wanting to go to work

In the past few years of working for myself I’ve maybe woken up 3-4 times not wanting to “go into work”, mostly this was because I thought I hadn’t prepped enough for this. Compare that to my old job where I made up bullshit excuses so many times about stomach bugs, colds and whathave you because the place at times just got to me

I don’t have a business plan

Right now, invoices go out, money comes in. My accountant whips me when I’m late with accounts. At a previous talk a chap from Enterprise Ireland got quite upset with me when I said I didn’t have a business plan. My plan, not formalised is I won’t be doing this type of work in 3 years. I’ll probably shut down the company. I don’t want to be acquired, don’t want to buy anyone.

Accidently happy

So I might not have a business plan but I do have an idea about business and happiness. I do work because it makes me happy, not because it provides me money to buy myself happiness. I used to be someone that worked in a job that I disliked, waited for payday and bought myself shiny things. Now I pay myself less than the old job, get up usually when I like and can decide with very short notice to head for a break to Iceland or somewhere. I love my job, the last job I loved was working for 2.50 an hour in Pund City when I was 15 16 17, stacking shelves and the like.

Charge less for fun

So this is what I do when I do work. If it’s fun I’ll charge less. I’ll move money out of the motivation equation as much as I can so the before, during and after is fun. Not about a mechanism to pay a credit card bill. I’m not sure you can give 100% to work when you despise it and almost are in some kind of drug addict relationship with the drug.

Buffet to A la carte

So plenty of work comes in and it was as if I was at a buffet. Sample it all, there was so much that I was interested in trying that I was saying yes to an awful lot. Tummy ache for that. Happiness can make you ill too though. So I’m starting to go a la carte now. Wiser decisions, less work but more time to enjoy and appreciate it

Now the song is nearly over…

So my parting thought is that we can all earn a living but maybe we can do it and be happy and appreciate the journey to payday as much as payday instead

Now the song is nearly over
We may never find out what it means
Still there’s a light I hold before me
You’re the measure of my dreams
The measure of my dreams

IIA’s Digitise the Nation

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

The IIA are running a week-long event called Digitise the Nation. It takes place from the 16th to 21st May 2010. The idea is everyone chips in and does a little to get people using the web more effectively. Workshops, discounts, art using tech etc. etc. While an IIA initiative, I’m told they’ll highlight non-members too that run events for it.

Lots of ideas on the Digitise the Nation page. Here are some more that were sent on:

* In Dundalk, we have a member who is filming from the Museum and streaming to 5th and 6th class students as basis for history homework and projects.
* Kavaleer (award winning digital animation business based in Digitial Hub) showing primary school students how digital art is created… showing children how cartoons are made and inspiring the next generation of Brown Bag Productions and oscar winning “Avatar” creators
* Received a call from Barge Heritage group who are bringing barges to Dublin on the same week and want to learn how to run a podcast, live-streaming as they are upstream on the Liffey and canals
* Two girls with their own computer training business have successfully approached their local “Golden Oldies” community group and are showing them how to make skype calls and send emails

Contact the IIA if you want to suggest some ideas or run an event.

Marc Coleman’s letter to the Sunday Tribune

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

An article last week in the Sunday Tribune entitled “The Blame Game” questioned where were the realists during the past few years. Marc Coleman (former Irish Times writer and Newstalk economist) was mentioned in the article in this paragraph:

Outside the political spectrum, former Irish Times writer and Newstalk economist Marc Coleman published a book titled, The Best is Yet to Come. And Bank of Ireland economist Dan McLaughlin slammed negative reporting about the economy. He was adamant that we were in for a “soft landing”.

Note: Profits of said book were donated to the Forgotten Irish fund

Subsequent to this he has sent a letter into the Sunday Tribune and CC’d a copy to a large number of people in the Irish Media, check out the dig at the end too, here’s the letter:

Dear all,

Below is a letter written to the Sunday Tribune by myself in a personal capacity in response to an article published on Sunday 4th April last.

Kind Regards,

Marc Coleman

Dear Editor,

“What did you do in 1916, fight? Cower under the bed? Or side with the Brits?” To distract from their own inaction, sleeveens would asked this question of others after the Easter Rising. On the anniversary of it a similar question is being posed now. “What did you do during the boom, warn us of disaster or hob nob with the bankers?” The loudest answers come from self-promoting “Boys who cried wolf”. Those who did the real fighting don’t feel we need to justify ourselves. Until that is, lies are told about us. Last Sunday you insinuated that I was a “player” (causer, presumably) of the recession because I had written a book entitled “The Best is Yet to Come”. Only fools judge a book by the cover. Here is my war record, of which I am proud:

Only a few days in the media after leaving the ECB to become Economics Editor of the Irish Times, I wrote on 13th July 2005 that lending threatened the economy. On July 29th 2005, I wrote that growth was “not sustainable”. On August 19th 2005 I wrote that construction was “hugely disproportionate” in the economy. On March 31st 2006 in a piece that began “Stop the economy I want to get off” I warned that financial regulation had broken down. On July 6th 2006 I warned of an imminent collapse in public finances. On July 17th 2006 at a Fianna Fail conference I challenged Brian Cowen to draw up contingency plans for a possible recession. In October 2006 I told ISME’s annual conference (chaired by George Lee) that a downturn would start in 2008. In the 2007 election campaign I relentlessly wrote about how all party manifestos were based on illusory growth assumptions.

Later that 2007 – in a book praised by TK Whitaker and others – I warned again of the downturn but added that our population would keep growing. With the right policies we could restore prosperity by 2020, which I still believe. The first two predictions have come true. To offset the books short term pessimism, I called it “The Best is Yet to Come”. Judging by Tribune figures, though, I’m sorry to say it won’t apply to the Tribune unless you restore the paper’s reputation for fact based reporting and analysis.


Marc Coleman

The Filthy, flirty, fooling around Irish

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Fun survey from in the PR box today. They surveyed us Paddys on their website. Bloody hell, I’m shocked at some results.

  • 9% of those asked “Did you ever hook up with someone on a social media website such as Facebook?” answered yes.
  • One in 3 have cheated on a trip abroad
  • One in 5 have had a secret hotel rendezvous
  • Six in 10 have had a holiday romance
  • 85% believe in monogamy in marriage
  • 38% have engaged in sexting
  • 70% of 18-25 year olds are sexting on the sly with someone they’re not married/partnered with

That 9% one has to be much higher than that or maybe we use Twitter now?

Radisson Blu Galway – I’d avoid for events

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Update as of end of April 2010: After a long time going back and forth and escalating this to the general manager for Radisson Group Ireland, the Radisson and I came finally came to a satisfactory resolution on this matter. Many lessons were learned by all sides.

Update: Staff members of the Radisson Blu chain are swarming around this blog post, one has even left a fake comment about his love for the Radisson Blu Dublin

I’ve been back and forth with the Radisson Blu Galway for over a week about the crap service they gave for the Blog Awards. Below is a list I sent the hotel of what I have subsequently been told were “minor issues”. I unfortunately trusted others that I would be guaranteed good service from the hotel, instead I got the worst service of any hotel I’ve done business with in 6 years of running various events. All these complaints have been forwarded to the GM of the Radisson Blu Group but I have yet to hear anything from them either. So much for good quality hotels in Ireland. The amount of additional stress added on to myself and others on the night of the Awards because of the below was uncalled for and should not have happened. This is what you don’t want for a conference or an event.


Lack of delivery of contract and prices until a few weeks before the date.
Despite choosing the hotel and going over details for the event, it was just weeks before the event that a contract arrived.

Staff wanted Twitter messages deleted
When I rang to clarify some issues, the main number for the hotel rang out. I noted this on Twitter. Later a staff member rang me back and answered some of my questions then said my tweets made them look bad and appreciated if I deleted them. When I said no I got a smart “well that’s your prerogative”. Further explanation from me that I’m not in the business of deleting tweets got the same “your prerogative” reply.

March 26th
We checked into the hotel, with a distinct lack of “hello and welcome”. A handover between two staff members for the event was amateur and the most up to date details and contract couldn’t be found. One of the Blog Award volunteers was assigned two rooms instead of one so had to correct that. I got asked at the handover what media coverage I would get for the hotel, does this post help? 🙂

The power sockets blew in my room on late Friday night leaving phones and laptop dead on Saturday morning.

March 27th
Tried to ring down dozens of times over the space of two hours to complain about power sockets. All numbers were engaged almost all day. Resorted to charging phone in someone else’s room. Walked to reception and it was swamped with people, could not find a staff member to complain to. Eventually had someone in housekeeping get an electrician. Electrician came to room and fixed sockets, they blew again later that evening.

Blog Awards Function
Function room was set up for 250 not 300, despite the handover on Friday making this very clear. I had to correct this with the staff who seemed unimpressed with my telling them. Staff were unpleasant to me and others.
Lights blew in VIP section of the function when lights tested by staff, had to be replaced by an electrician.
Unsafe wooden steps for the stage put up, yet had previously been promised proper steps in runthrough earlier in March. No proper steps were put up.
The stage was dirty with rubblish left there from previous event and rubbish was not cleared by staff.
Curtains at left of the stage had very large and obvious stains on them.

March 28th
Complained to John W on checkout about power in rooms. No record of any issues was sent down by electrician or housekeeping. Rooms was comped over power issue. Supposedly. Banqueting manager not around to discuss other issues or deal with payment.

March 29th
Chatted to Karen J on the phone about list of issues, outlined bedrooms were comped by John W. Outlined all the other issues I had. Told Karen J I would be paying

March 30th
Invoice for event arrived and I was charged for supposedly comped rooms

April 1st.
Without permission, hotel took 1000 euros off my credit card.

Data Protection Breach
Hotel has sent a survey to numerous Blog Award attendees despite them ticking box asking for no contact. Hotel has added many Blog Awards guests to their mailing list despite people opting out on check-in cards.

April 6th, 7th
Issues raised with Radisson Blu Group Manager – waiting for response…

April 8th.
Hotel writes me a letter, comping my room. Again. Pointing out issues were minor. Offering me a voucher to stay in hotel.

Upcoming public events I’m at

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Galway, Cork, Dublin

To answer some of the emails and messages about training events:

April 14th, Blogging Workshop with Galway Executive Skillsnet.
April 22nd Building Cost Effective Reputation for your business Free for it@Cork members.
April 29th Social Media for Business in Cork with PFH – €150
May 4th Online PR Training Course in Dublin – €210

Training: Social Media for Business – Cork April 29th

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Update: June 2012 – See here for more up to date courses on Social Media/Digital Marketing.

I’m doing a training course with PFH towards the end of April, €150 for the day, course max is 15. It’s fairly practical in nature. A few people have been on to me about doing a public course in Cork, so here you are. You better book it now! Email: Or ring Catherine 021 230-3010 or Sally 021 230-3040

Outline for Social Media for Business

What is social media?
What are the current and upcoming trends in online marketing/social media

LinkedIn for business
The benefits of using LinkedIn for business
Making a LinkedIn profile that gets you and you business noticed
Seeking out leads and partners with LinkedIn
Building your reputation through sharing your expertise in LinkedIn Discussions

Facebook for business
Why is Facebook relevant to my business?
How businesses use Facebook to get custom and build reputation
Facebook Pages for business
Using Facebook’s analytics tools to better cater to your customers
Facebook Ads – Highly targeted inexpensive ads bring quality customers

Twitter for business
What is Twitter and why should a business use it?
How to interact on Twitter with consumers and other businesses
How adding value on Twitter creates strong word of mouth

Developing a social media/online marketing plan
How to figure out objectives in social media
How to measure your campaigns and see do they align with your objectives

Workshops on Design Thinking

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

(Disclaimer: I’ve done work for Innovator and IntertradeIreland in the past)

Innovator are doing a few workshops on “Demand Led Innovation” around the country in the next few weeks.
Some details here.

This practical two day workshop using design thinking principles will guide you on looking at your company and markets in new ways and show you exercises on how to transform your business, allowing you to generate new revenue models for existing and new markets.

250 euros for two days, two staff can go along. More details.

Now they’ll be using the Civil Security sector (Travel security) as the industry used to develop new business ideas but the principles work for all industries. I’ve chatted to them about this and already have come up with some ideas around training and communications. Think about all the ways you can make it easier to get through airport security and less stressful, from training security staff to be more efficient and polite, to making signs that take the guesswork out of things, to iPhone Apps and even Twitter apps to pre-prep those who’ll be flying out. There’s a pretty big market for that. A lot of the time too it just iterating an existing product for a new customer or maket type.

Hoping to get to this myself.

Creating Dharma Beer 03
Photo owned by MacWalsh (cc)

Just get up and speak

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The night before last I watched a documentary about Jerry Seinfeld called Comedian. I think it was via a recommendation from Garr Reynolds that I bought it. It’s the story of how Jerry Seinfeld decides to go back and gig as a comedian after putting together all new material. Comedians, it seems, always have a stock of trusted material that they can use. His peers are surprised and shocked that he’ll be using just new material.

We go with Jerry as he goes back to basics, does 5 min stands, perfects them, goes a bit longer, gets to 20 minutes eventually and eventually goes for longer and longer stints. We see him bomb and stall, we see him hold his notes in his hand and use them as crib sheets. We see comedians stress with animation that you never EVER start with new material. Jerry works his ass off as he builds and builds and runs from club to club eventually doing as many gigs as he can in one night. His jokes change and get better over time, though they really are the same punchline, the delivery changes based on a live crowd.

All this reminds me of talks I do and how every talk is a chance to perfect your presentation, throw in something small and new, how different crowds will interact differently and you have to be ready for it all. I’ve gone from giving a talk in front of 600 people, to doing one in front of 11 the next day, to a few dozen the next. Each and every talk is worthwhile and makes the next one better. I accept as many offers as I can to do talks, paid and free if my schedule can fit with them.

I used to be an introvert, severely shy, never wanting to put my head and body into the public glare. I can now, without much butterflies stand in front of a crowd with or without notes or even prep and feel confident enough. That wasn’t the case when I started doing this though. Over time I learned what works with crowds, what doesn’t, when to move on from a point or dig deeper, all based on the feel of a crowd. It rang home when watching Seinfeld making himself better by just getting out there and doing it.

I’ve chatted to some people about public talking before and I guess my advice is, get up and speak. Do what Jerry does, 5 minutes, then 10 minutes and many times until you get that feel for the crowd. If it makes you feel better, you will suck the first few times but you will get better each time too. So why not bang through those first few times? The sooner you do them… Toastmasters and those clubs are great too. But. Comedians don’t perform for comedians, they need real crowds and so do you. Those clubs are good starts but you want out in the real public. The ratio too of time speaking to the crowd directly should be way way higher than looking at your notes or slides. How else can you get the feel of a crowd?

With my line of work though, the gold for me is questions, I absolutely, positively love it when people ask questions. I’m pretty disappointed if none are asked as I feel I’ve not made the crowd comfortable enough to ask or haven’t made their brains jump enough to shoot up a hand. While many questions will be repeated per talk, you’ll always get new ones, these are proper challenges, can you answer them on your feet? Will they make you think and re-evaluate a viewpoint? Hopefully.

And yes, smaller crowds, I try out new material or sometimes I’ll write something that’s been on my mind for a while and stick it on some paper 10 minutes beforehand and see how I go. Did that for the Press Ombudsman talk. For Open Coffee Galway, I decided (5 mins beforehand) to talk about how I do business, I didn’t know where I was going to end up with that talk but it was fun. Hope the crowd didn’t mind the experiment.

You have to get up and speak, you have to realise that it’s about iterating what you do. Do the circuits. The documentary shows super comedian Jerry go from being terrified in front of a small crowd to swaggering a few months later in front of a massive crowd and feeling on control. Lastly, be absolutely grateful to the crowd, be it two people or two hundred, if they’re paying or not, they’re your training partner really, without them you’re a gym bunny taking on a world boxing champion.

Bunreacht – Get the Irish Constitution on your iPhone

Monday, March 15th, 2010

August 2014 update. App re-released and available here.

Released by Nathan Shaughnessy is this handy app for law geeks, politicos and everyone else. Bunreacht. And it’s free!

Bunreacht iPhone app

Love this app, very handy. Perhaps urban legend but Mary Robinson apparently carried a copy of the the Bunreacht around with her all the time. For the budding Marys, now it’s an app. (May not guarantee you become president one day) One thing I’d like though is for it to be copy and pastable. Edit: I just had fat fingers, copy and paste works. Rocking!

Bunreacht iPhone app

Bunreacht iPhone app