Monthly Archives: November 2010

You’re going to need a bigger boat

Jaws is one of my all time favourite films. A true classic – I remember watching it as a small child from behind a cushion and being scared to go in the sea at a range of British seaside resorts for many years.

About 10 years ago I learned to scuba dive, and my world changed. I got to experience the sensation of floating in underwater space and with it the opportunity to see so many amazing things. I also learnt that sharks are pretty cool.

Sharks are top of the underwater food chain and central to maintaining the balance of our oceans. Two-thirds of the world’s surface is water and over 80% of life on earth lives in the ocean. The health of the oceans are vital to the health of the earth itself. If the sharks go, the balance will shift and I can’t even begin to imagine what that will mean for us.

This shark defence training film from 1964 is for real. Hopefully we are a bit wiser about sharks now but they still get a bad press. They don’t exist to prey on holiday makers on Florida’s beaches, they are wild animals and must be treated with respect and caution.

Studies show that sharks are picky eaters and prefer to eat things that are smaller than them, if they really wanted to make a career out of eating humans they would. Shark attacks are relatively rare, and often because people have put themselves in a vulnerable situation.

Sharks kill 5 people each year, elephants and tigers kill approx 100, executions take 2,400 lives, illegal drugs 22,000, road accidents 1,200,000 and starvation 8,000,000. In the grand scheme of life, sharks are not the bad guys.

I recently watched Shark Water; a gritty documentary about the shark fin trade. It bought me to tears. Sharks are endangered because they are killed for their fins, which are highly valued in Asia for shark fin soup. They are believed to have health giving properties, and are regarded as a symbol of wealth and served as a sign of respect. A large fin can sell for over $10,000 in China.

The way that the sharks are caught is barbaric. They are hooked on long lines, which are miles and miles of indiscriminate trap-lines that catch everything in their path. The animals that are caught that have no commercial value are left to die long and slow deaths as they tangle themselves in the line in their desperate attempts to escape. This form of fishing is desecrating the oceans. The shark fins are cut off and the sharks thrown back into the sea alive to bleed to death.

Part of the problem is that 64 percent of our ocean isn’t even protected by any national law at all. In a recent TED talk Kristina Gjerde studies the laws of the high seas and tells how she is working with other lawyers to protect areas from trawling and trash-dumping.

Over 1.5 million sharks are killed each week. I don’t know how long the oceans can sustain this. But it’s not just about saving sharks ultimately it’s about saving ourselves.

This blog is about making a difference; all social change comes from the passion and intervention of individuals or small groups of individuals. That’s you and me.

There are many ways that you can help protect sharks and the oceans they live in. Start by going to;

Marine Conservation Society


If I had to live my life over

Today I stumbled across this inspirational piece; written by 85-year-old Nadine Stair.

If I had to live my life over

I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances.

I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones. You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them.

In fact, I’d try to have nothing else, just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those people who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.

Nadine Stair, 85 years old.

Thank you Nadine for your wisdom and your inspiration. The challenge for the less-wise of us is to take your wisdom and make it our own; take more chances, have moment upon moment upon moment and dance barefoot amongst the daisies.

So team, if life is now, what chances will you take, what changes will you make to make a difference today?

Dear Cretins, the balance of power is shifting

Responding to your customers needs and providing them with an exceptional service is basic common sense. It’s also very important.

“Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it” PETER DRUCKER

In world that is becoming increasingly online, the value of meaningful human interaction is greater than ever before. But how are businesses adapting to the emerging needs of online and offline communities?

The development of internet communities has created a shift in customer dynamic, in the past you might complain about shoddy service, but who would listen? Now online communities enable you to link with people who feel the same as you to form a critical mass that actually has influence over large organisations.

When HSBC decided to withdraw their free graduate overdraft facility more than 5,000 students joined Facebook’s Stop the Great HSBC Rip-Off!!! Group. HSBC reversed its decision.  Overdrafts remained free. Graduates rejoiced.

Facebook enabled students to come together around a specific issue with minimal risk, effort or financial outlay to influence the business strategy of a world bank. That’s impressive, and a wake up call for HSBC and other big corporations.

Customers are having conversations online that businesses have not been party to before. This can be a good thing; offering insights and giving companies the opportunity to respond to real customer needs (as opposed to the perceived needs). It can also go very sour if companies don’t respond quickly.

In February stationers Paperchase were accused of copying an independent artists designs. The publicity round this was huge mainly through use of Twitter which resulted in a lot of bad publicity, fuelled by initial lack of comment and an overall slow response.

Earlier this year the Vodafone twitter account was hacked by a rogue member of staff tweeting some lewd and grammatically incorrect tweets to customers. Vodafone customers were quick to inform Vodafone, who were honest enough to admit it wasn’t a hack but an employee. They apologised quickly and continued to engage with customers throughout the day and seemed to gain trust for their honestly and engagement.

This beautifully written complaint letter to Virgin went viral and allegedly resulted in a personal call from Sir Branson himself.  Compare to ‘Dear Cretins’, a complaint letter to NTL which presumably still isn’t resolved.

So my points are;

1.Good customer service is expected – you don’t get any points for just being good

2. Delight your customers, go the extra mile, demonstrate Fred like qualities and your customers will value you

3. Give a rubbish service and your customers will complain and tell the world

4. Put the problem right and you will get the value back (see point 2)

4. Don’t underestimate the influence of online communities and networks for both good and bad

5. Respond to social networks quickly and honestly and you can get the value back (see point 2)

6. Never call me ‘Madam’ It’s a personal thing. You have been warned.

If you are interested in this stuff, you’ll like these.

The Fred Factor – Mark Sandborn

Here Comes Everybody – Clay Shirky