Tag Archives: family

Will you donate just £1 for my birthday?

So its my birthday, I’m another year older. 38. How has this happened? Seems like only yesterday I was hanging out at Virginia Water Lakes with Stan Gower in my knee socks and sandals.

My priorities have changed a bit over the years. These days I’m a marketers dream; anything that says anti gravity or anti ageing or age defying and I’m there.  Can’t get enough.

This birthday I have to admit that I have been very impressed with the direct marketing I have received. Lots of organisations are helping me celebrate. Facebook Causes are onto me and even Next are offering me £5 off my ‘birthday’ order. This is a big improvement from the birthday direct mail I used to get a few years ago.

From about 1997-2003 I used to get mail from one of those companies that take free ‘glamour’ shots of you in Vaseline edged lenses and then charge you hundreds of pounds for the prints. I think they were featured on Watchdog once.  Every year the letter started, Dear *Harriet, Have you ever wanted to look really beautiful like the models in the magazines…? one year the letter made me cry real tears.

So my point? I’m getting to it. I treat my birthday like many people treat New Year, as an opportunity to reflect on what has happened in the last 12 months and hatch fresh plans for the future.

So this year I have been thinking about who has inspired me. Who has made an impact on my life. One such person is Simon Berry.

Simon and his partner Jane are the inspiration behind Colalife, a charity that hopes to be able to use Cokes distribution networks to get vital medicines out to rural areas in Africa in order to save lives. Simon and Jane have given up their day jobs and are about to move to Africa to get the Zambia Colalife pilot up and running. Awesome.

So, if you were thinking of buying me a birthday present, and actually even if you weren’t, please can you help Simon and Jane help children who are dying in Africa because they don’t have access to basic medicines that you and I take for granted.

Please sponsor the Colalife cyclists Nigel and Bill who are cycling 400 kilometres across Normandy to raise a target of £6,000  to save lives. So help them out.  You can sponsor them here. 

Just £1 will fill an AidPod with simple medicines to help a mother in rural Zambia rehydrate her child and save her child’s life (there are only 70 retail pharmacies in the whole of Zambia – and public clinics can be a 20 kilometre walk from home).

You can also tell your friends on Facebook and Twitter and perhaps some of them will donate £1 too. Or maybe more…….

So together we can help save lives. We don’t need to look beautiful like the models in the magazines. We just need to make a difference. Right now.

That’s all.

*yes according to my passport Harriet is my first name.

A story of fish and focus

Imagine the scene, a small Mediterranean island, miles of beautiful beaches, warm sunshine, fragrant olive groves and a scattering of tavernas serving local, fresh food and wine.

A businessman on holiday strolls along the port and is fascinated by a fishermen hauling in his catch.

Noting the quality of the fish, the businessman asked the fisherman how long it had taken to catch them.
 “Not very long.” answered the fisherman.

“Then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the businessman.

The fisherman explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.
 The businessman asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
 “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, have a nap in the afternoon under a palm tree. In the evenings, I see my friends and family, have a few beers, play the drums, and sing a few songs….. I have a full and happy life.” replied the fisherman.

The businessman ventured, “I can help you…… If you fished longer every day, you could sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you could buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you could buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have a large fleet. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you could negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You could then leave this little island and move to a city, from where you could direct your huge enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the fisherman.

“Oh, ten, maybe twenty years.” replied the businessman.

“And after that?” asked the fisherman.

“After that? “When your business gets really big,’ replied the businessman “you can start selling shares in your company and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” pressed the fisherman.

“After that you’ll be able to retire, move out to a small island, sleep in late every day, spend time with your friends and family, go fishing, take afternoon naps under a palm tree……”

I love this story. Sometimes, on the treadmill of daily life its easy to lose sight of the important stuff. The stuff that doesn’t really matter like the latest Apple gadget, expensive fashions, a bigger house or a bigger boat.

Are you swept along by what you think others think and expect of you? Or are you doing what you are passionate about and enjoy? Take a deep breath and think about what is important. Now focus on achieving that.

If you like this you might also like

Fish! – Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, John Christensen, Ken Blanchard

The Fred Factor – Mark Sanborn

The Element – Sir Ken Robinson

The Four Hour Working Week – Tim Ferris 

A brief guide to social media friendship etiquette

When Tim Berners Lee invented the world-wide web in 1990 I don’t think he, or any of us could predict the huge changes it would make to the way we communicate and live our lives. The internet has shifted the basis of some fundamental relationships. With the growth of online social networking what does it even mean to be a ‘friend’? Personally I’m a bit confused.

The dictionary defines a friend as

• A person you know well and like, and who is not usually a member of your family

• A person you know, like and trust

• A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade

• One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement.

So when someone you don’t know declares their friendship online, what do you do? It’s not very friendly to ignore or reject someone, but then again is it ok to assume a level of intimacy by asking a stranger for friendship in the first place?

So to help me navigate round the world of online friendship I’ve set some basic friendship criteria.

Twitter

Twitter is a bit of a free for all, anyone can follow you and you can follow anyone. However, just because you are following someone on Twitter doesn’t make you friends. It’s the online equivalent of living in the same town, you have some common interest and Twitter is just a mechanism to allow you to more easily know about people doing the same stuff.

If, on Twitter, we chat, share links, share ideas and build some rapport we could be heading into friendship territory. We may even meet face to face, either at an organised Tweetup or networking events or a 1:1 meeting. For example great to connect with @commutiny recently and @ycharity at the Institute of Fundraising’s First Thursday last week. So once there is some specific contact we could be in a position to be ‘friends’ on Linkedin.

Linkedin

This is a professional network, so linking to people in your industry, people with shared professional interests including headhunters and job seekers. I love Linkedin, but just because you work in the same industry as someone you can’t assume you are ‘friends’. Sending a generic introduction ‘indicating you are friends’ if you are not – is not OK. If you work in the same org/industry and want to link to someone then that’s great, but put a line in your introduction, like ‘ I saw we are on the same group, work for xxx company and it would be good to talk about a project I am working on’ – or similar.

Declaring friendship with someone you do not know is the equivalent of rocking up to a stranger at a business conference and treating them with the intimacy of a long-lost friendship with a big hug and kisses an a reference to weight gained/lost. If you have not established any relationship before it feels uncomfortable and frankly weird.

Facebook

Now onto Facebook; a lot of organisations use Facebook as a corporate site and a lot of companies are doing a really good job of building communities of loyal customers, engaging them with product development, getting feedback and gaining insight.

However, I use Facebook to link with my friends. Real life people who I know. Facebook is great for sharing photos, keeping in touch with friends overseas, finding long-lost friends and stalking ex’s (apparently).

Seriously, you have to know me to be friends. Just because we went to the same school 20 years ago don’t assume friendship, and if it’s a bit of a tentative connection give an explanation when you invite me to be your friend.


My Facebook rule is ‘If they turned up at my house on a Sunday afternoon would I invite them in for a cup of tea?. If the answer is yes, then we can be Facebook friends.

If you are using Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook to build communities, donor or customer relationships, have a think about friendship etiquette. This is especially important for communicating with those born before 1990, because it’s a new skill. They didn’t grow up with the internet. Before you send a friend request take a moment to consider how the person you are befriending will feel about your request, it may be that there is a better way of communicating with them to get the result you want.

I’m not saying my view is gospel, but it’s helping me navigate in a way that feels right for me and importantly does not dilute the importance and meaning of offline friendships.

What do you think?

Stop caring what the other kids think

Last week I happened upon the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. To be honest it’s more like a museum of nostalgia as the core audience seems to be thirtysomethings peering at their old toys in glass cases.

There were some children there too, playing at being giant vegetables in the Food Glorious Food exhibition and acting out their own Punch and Judy stories with the help of Mr and Mrs Punch puppets.

Continue reading

If you are alive and breathing there is still time

On Sunday 13 March I went to a School of Life Sunday Sermon. If singing Eye of the Tiger at 11 o clock on a Sunday morning with a hall full of strangers wasn’t enough, I also got to listen to Sir Ken Robinson talk about passion.

Ken asked us to think about the sequences of past incidents – and people who have had to meet in order for us to be here on this planet. To be born at all is a miracle – so, asks Ken, “what are you going to do with your life?”

Ken Robinson believes that everyone is born with extraordinary capability. The tragedy is that most people have no idea of what they are capable of so therefore don’t think they are capable of doing anything. As a result many people spend their entire lives doing things they don’t care for, plodding along at a life that they have merely a general tolerance for.

It all begins at school. The education system is linear, in that if you are not good at a core subject, for example maths you are thought to not be good generally. Innovation and creativity are stifled and teachers struggle to promote creativity, as they are uncertain of their own creative abilities.

Human beings are imaginative, as Ken puts it “it comes with the kit” Humans are always investigating something new, we are inherently curious about the world.

According to Ken, the secret of a fulfilled life is to find that something that you have passion for as well as a natural talent for. Simply being good at something isn’t a good enough reason to do it – you have to have passion too.

“The problem human beings face is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim to low and succeed.” Michelangelo

Ken delighted us with stories from his book ‘The Element’ of people who have found their talent and their passion and made a leap of faith to ensure that they do live a life they love.

Ken urges us all to get inspired to follow our dreams and find our personal passion to live our life. So what you going to do? Answers please.

If you are interested in this post, you may also like to read the following books.

The Element – Ken Robinson

Now Discover your Strengths – Marcus Buckingham

From Good to Great – Jim Collins

Business Beyond the Box –  John O’Keeffe

Linchpin – Seth Godin

How many friends does one person need?

According to Robin Dunbar at a recent talk at the  RSA the maximum number of friends one person can have is 150. That’s the most ‘real’ friendships that humans can effectively manage. ‘What is a real relationship anyway?’

Robin compares the level or quality of friendships to ripples on a pond. If you throw a pebble into a pond it creates concentric circles of ripples. In the inner ripple the average person has 5 really close friends, in the next ripple there are 15 more less close friends, in the third ripple 50 further removed acquaintances, and 150 acquaintances or perhaps just contacts in the weakest outer sphere. And that’s it. We can’t physically keep up with any more.

Blood is thicker than water; we also prioritise family over friends, relationships are really hard work, and with family there is an unspoken connection, a more unconditional level of commitment that is harder to earn in a friendship. According to Robin people who have extensive families have fewer friends because they prioritise their family connections. Research also shows that in-laws get reprioritised too. So a new sister-in-law steps up from a ripple 3 friend acquaintance rating to ripple 2 in the unspoken friend pecking order; the same status as a blood cousin.

Interesting stuff but what does this mean for the sofa sport of friend, group and community collecting that is happening online in places like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter? In the online world we have multiple connections with a range of people who we don’t really know, some people who we have never even met. According to Robin social media sites like these merely stop relationships decaying so quickly, and can never replace the quality and connection of face to face contact and the more subtle visual communications and connectedness that accompany that.

So with your online networks; whether it’s a way of managing decaying real friendships, or developing new friends, it makes sense to also focus your efforts on quality not quantity – build rapport, develop communities, get connected with like-minded people.  You have the capacity to meaningfully befriend 150 people. Choose them well. Is it time to cull some ‘friends’?