Saturday, 31 March 2007

ITV Newsflash....

This is the sort of thing I used to do on Five News and at The ITV News Channel....scarily real :) Enjoy.....

Friday, 30 March 2007

Free nursery at any price?

Decided to stop talking about social media and start doing something. Now when the Government says its going to ensure that all 3 and 4 year olds will be able to access 15 hours of Nursery care "free" by 2010 - that sounds like a good thing. But as always, that's not the full story.

Sally Fitchett,  the owner of The Lighthouse Nursery School where my daughter goes, takes up the story:

So in essence: It will have a huge impact on ALL childcare settings – pre schools, Day nurseries, nursery schools, even the Sure Start family centres.

The current Nursery Education Grant (“NEG”) for 3 and 4 year olds does not, for the vast majority of Private, Voluntary and Independent Providers (“PVIs”) cover the cost of fees required to deliver the service. For this reason, it is less than truthful to call nursery education “free”. The NEG is therefore in fact a subsidy, as recognised by parents, providers and Local Authorities, and has always been regarded as such.

Other key issues are;

*Threatened closure of nurseries and playgroups as they struggle to provide 3 hours ‘free’ - increasing to 4 hours ‘free’.

*Shortage and inadequacy of places for children and reduction in parental choice.

*A drain from the industry of experienced and qualified staff, resulting in a skills shortage. Staff morale at low level due to demands for graduate level qualifications with little regard for Level 3 / 4 qualifications and EXPERIENCE.

*Increased fees for parents as a result of funding being paid below a unsustainable rate for many PVIs

*Increased bureaucracy – financial audit, holiday forms for 3 and 4 yrs!, marketing plans, and MUCH more.

Sally's not the only one getting angry about this and other parts of the country have started campaigns to stop this strategy going ahead.


So lets see if this social media stuff actually works. Please contact to either find out more or agree to sign a petition. The Government talks about choice - lets see that in action.

Second Life? How about First Life....

Love this spoof on Second Life. One of the Chief Bloggesses Debbie Weil brought it to my attention. Entitled Get a First Life my favourite part is the bit underneath FIND OUT WHERE YOU ACTUALLY LIVE. Bit rude but hey, you only have one life. Don't you?

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Scary or smart? You decide....

Could this scenario actually happen? .....( take a look only 2 mins)

I have a friend who works in online identity. He is focusing on making buying and doing business online easy and safe. The key issue here is to do that but also to only release the minimum amount of information needed. Here's his take on it:

When you make a chip and PIN purchase in a store, the online financial transaction uses equipment that connects your card directly to the bank. The merchant never gets to see any of your financial information. This has resulted in a massive reduction in card fraud. However so called “card not present” (CNP) transactions, typical of the online world, rely on the merchant passing your credit card details to the bank. Reported CNP fraud amounted to £183m last year. Windows CardSpace works the way chip and PIN works in a store. As this technology becomes more widespread in the online world, we will see CNP fraud reduce dramatically, just the same as chip and PIN reduced fraud. With CardSpace’s protection of our digital identities in online transactions, we can restore confidence in the world of online transactions and reduce consumer’s fears concerning identity theft. 

Seems the Infocard stuff is gathering momentum - good old Jack Schofield has been musing today in Technology Guardian.

Should hopefully, finally, persuade my mum that its ok to buy online.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

WORK - its a gift....

I didn't know who Nancy Ortberg was until Guy Kawasaki introduced me to her but she really is the best 20 minutes you will hear this side of Christmas. 2008. Its not very often that speakers can make me cry or the hair on the back of my neck stand up but ( I can't see the congregation) I suspect Nancy's sermon didn't leave a dry eye in the House of God. Leaders in any organisation will benefit from even a short listen.


You don't have to be religious to get the most from this but it does show how powerful someone is when they truely believe in what they are saying. Nancy's storytelling technique is particularly engaging - she manages to weave in stories about doctors, bin men, her son, hospital cleaners as well as some of her own experiences.

So give yourself a treat and listen to Nancy - either just listen or for the full Nancy experience you can also see her. Do you see Work  as a privilege to serve?

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Best thing since sliced bread .....

Garr Reynolds in his excellent blog  Presentation Zen points to a classic Seth Godin video. Great hook ( sliced bread), meat ( Ideas that spread - win)  and close ( your companies are like that blue box). If I wanted to be picky ( I try not to be - but it is my job) he used a few too many photos/images. He is a great speaker and story teller and as such I wanted to see more of him :)

I was tinkering on Youtube ( must stop that ) and stumbled across this video of Guy Kawasaki from 2004 but still a strong message. Talking to an entrepreneurial audience he advises on creating a company that has meaning.  "Create a cause - not a business" ( not his words but I can't remember who at the mo). Great message but look at his presentation style. Perching on a desk ( Five News anyone?) he looks relaxed and happy - body language very open and welcoming - minimal slides ( could even lose a few methinks- sorry).

Basically a lesson for many leaders and CEO's - you don't have to deliver a message in a starched suit and tie and stand behind a lectern. Get out and talk WITH your people - ask THEM some questions. Get them involved in what you are saying. Most of all - tell them something that is interesting/useful to THEM - not you. Imagine if you were in the audience listening to you - what would YOU like to hear??

Monday, 26 March 2007

Blog bullies...or should i say cowards

I have just read Kathy Sierra's blog tonight and been totally shocked. She has recieved death threats and some rather nasty images of her have been posted. She is quite rightly terrified. Being a woman and new to blogging - this is not what I want to hear. The blogosphere is about free speech yes, but misogyny and violence - a big NO.

The shear number of supportive comments is testament to Kathy's appeal. She writes some great stuff and I for one will be will watching how this crazy situation rights itself. If you can't play nicely - then go home.

Filling your bucket.....

Just back from Bootcamp - sorry Center Parcs. Usually a challenging three days with my two little "angels". But this time I managed to wangle 3 hours in the Spa. Greek herbal steam room, Japanese wet room ( with optional salted ice) , Finnish Sauna and plunge pool to name just a few of the delights on offer. But the one I enjoyed the most was the relaxation room with stone beds, a couple of scented candles and piped birdsong. Heaven. The added bonus was that a couple of good business ideas came into my mind.

I had forgotten what it is to relax and focus. The last time I properly meditated was at a Buddhist group I went to at Uni. And that wasn't the same as we chanted alot as well :)

Anyway, got me thinking about ENERGY. Its a subject I spend alot of time talking about with my clients. You may be smart, have some great things to say but if you can't deliver that message with energy and passion - then you might as well go home. My good friend and brilliant mentor Mike Pegg first introduced me to the concept of DRILLERS and FILLERS. Drillers are people who "drill" into your bucket and steal your energy. "Fillers" are people who GIVE you energy just be being around them - you look forward to seeing them and talking to them. I am lucky enough to be able to work with people who are mostly fillers and I have spent the last 7 years pretty much getting rid of the drillers. Mike gives some great tips on how to get started on this process and also continues the theme into his many books.

Another book I enjoyed is The Power of Full Engagement - helping people to manage energy, not time.


I'm trying to manage my energy by not staying up late every night writing my blog - but as Hugh McLeod is so fond of saying - blogs don't write themselves !

Thursday, 22 March 2007

The Web changes EVERYTHING

Went to talk to a group of 16 year old MEDIA students yesterday about how I got started in TV and radio. Told my story: wrong course at uni, left after a year, retrain in health club management and sales, ran away to Hong Kong became personal trainer, talked my way into TV, back to UK worked for BBC in News, ( still with me?) Channel 5 News - NOW working for BBC Click (tech programme) and running my own business helping people to communicate either face to face, at conferences, pitching, corp videos and advising on how they can use digital media. Phew! ( was that 3 sentences or less?)

I asked the students what media meant to them. "TV, Radio and Papers" they said. I asked how long they spent online every day. "Between 2 and 8 hours". Most said they watched very little conventional TV. I asked what they were doing online.  "Bebo and My Space" came the elegant reply. "Shopping and reading a few blogs".  Some students had filmed and edited an advert and some were creating their own weekly radio progamme. I started the second part of my chat with THE WEB CHANGES EVERYTHING.....and this brilliant video ( not mine !)

I suggested that there has never been a better time to be a media student because you dont really have to "study" at all. Everyone can produce their own TV ( Youtube) radio (podcasts) and blogs (papers) - SAV ( screwing  around vigorously - as Tom Peters says) practising with the technology and seeing what it can do. What have you SAV with recently?

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Conversations in new web era

         This is why companies and individuals within companies should blog.

Nuff said:) 

Edelman talk

Wine sale ! 40% off


Hugh McLeod and the Stormhoek boys are doing it all again....

So here it is: The Stormhoek-Thresher Coupon 2.0.

40% Off any wine in any Thresher store for the next week [N.B. Thresher's is the the largest specialist wine retailer in the UK].

We did Version 1.0 last Christmas, and generated £15 million of sales for Thresher, one of our big clients. Not to mention, it made the national news. So now that Easter has come along...

Anyway, feel free to download coupon and blog it and/or e-mail it to as many people as you like. Thanks.


I've just regiesterd with StatCounter so need to post a little bit of code to make this work. Excuse the geek stuff pls :)

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Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Let me tell you a story.....


I recently attended a wonderful story telling day at Oxford Brookes University. Lots of practical ideas and ways of bringing stories to life. Its always a tricky one advising Exec's on how to communicate a difficult message. But simple, humorous and insightful stories can be very powerful and memorable. The Wise Fools Guide to Leadership is wonderful and I defy anyone to read it and not have a smile on their face.

This is the blurb: Nasrudin is the archetypal wise fool, who lived in the Middle East over 600 years ago, though his stories have traveled the world and been updated in every generation. Peter Hawkins has given a modern spin to 84 of these stories by turning Nasrudin into a management consultant. Simple truths are told in a straightforward and highly entertaining way.

The chapter on Unlearning: unknowing says;

As an early Sufi poet wrote: " Knowledge without wisdom is like an unlit candle". True learning ultimately involves lighting the wick and setting fire to what we think we know. Nasrudin is a useful arsonist. 

So potentially some challenging content for your next presentation. Dont forget to take a peek at the short flash Video ( the animation is as cool as the message is profound)

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Seven Blog Virtues

Being new to the blogging game I thought there were no rules. And indeed no one has sent me the official do and dont's handbook. But Kathy Sierra has neatly illustrated her Seven Blog Virtues in a handy set of slides.

She suggests to BE:








come to think of it - not a bad set of virtues to live by.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Positive News?

As an ex journo the title above is a bit of an oxymoron. How on earth can you have POSITIVE news? All news is bad news. Martyn Lewis (BBC newsreader) was laughed off the set when he dared to suggest dear old Aunty should include uplifting the nations spirits as part of its licence fee increase. But I think Marty had a point. We become what we think about most. If we start the day with destruction, demonisation and death its no wonder we feel like packing it all in by lunchtime. We should at least begin the day on a positive note - then we can deal with the brickbats that may come later.

Positive News  is a site which celebrates what we get right and discusses what we dont get so right. Its like looking at the world with a glass half full rather than half empty. It also has some great links to media training for youth groups - useful for me as i have to speak at a careers day to a group of 18 year olds !! .....I keep telling myself to think positively.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Why we still prefer face to face....

I love Kathy Sierra's Blog - she tells it like it is.

"SXSW Interactive had more attendees than ever before. A lot more. But here's the confusing part: the people attending are the same people who create and evangelize the tools that make attending totally unnecessary. I started my keynote by asking if anyone was live-blogging. Hands shot up across the room. Someone yelled "Twitter!" The whole thing was recorded on video and audio. So... if nobody needed to be there, why were they?



She goes on to say:

 "The point is, face-to-face still matters. And in fact all our globally-connecting-social-networking tools are making face-to-face more, not less desirable. Thanks to the tools y'all are building, we now have more far-flung friends--including people we've never met f2f--than ever before. We now have more people we want to connect with in the human world, often after years of electronic-only contact.

All we (and the scientists researching this) know is that there is something we still haven't managed to replicate in a meaningful way, even with the highest-resolution video conferencing tools. One theory is that it has something to do with smell. Whatever it is, it exerts a powerful pull on our legacy brain... a brain that still has no idea we aren't living in caves where human contact and social face-to-face interaction are key to our survival."

The most underrated benefit of the face-to-face effect of conferences is INSPIRATION.

I couldn't agree more. In the last year I have reinvented myself from TV News Presenter to a geek girl who helps people to communicate with impact. I used to be in the privileged position to talk face to face with anyone who was making or commenting on the news of the day. Few inspired me. In the last year since leaving TV News- I have met fantastic people with a "can  do" attitude and a desire to change the world. I've interviewed rock stars in my years as a reporter but the chance to see some of the "blog stars" face to face - well somehow I think they get the idea of giving.  My mentor Mike Pegg suggested that in starting my own business the overriding objective should be to "help" people achieve success. And I believe that is what the best blogs do.

 Would I go to a conference to see these blog stars? You bet.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

We can all say goodbye.....

Brilliant idea this one. Internet Funerals. Can't get the family or friends back from Oz in time or just too expensive? No probs - see you dearly departed "live" on the web.

This is the best bit though :

The idea was the brainchild of Jim Clarke, who runs the undertaker business with his father John - who has just completed a computer course aged 80.  ( go John!)

"Life moves fast - we're just trying to adapt to the changing needs of our world," said Jim. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Day out at the Races....


Talking to one of my buddies at Microsoft on Tuesday, we discussed the idea of a "Perfect Week". The basic premise being that you design your week to be the way YOU want it to be. Of course this may and should vary from week to week but essentially you get to do your work and have play time when you want it. Easy with mobile technology right? Well with that in mind i was whisked away in chauffeur driven style today to cheltenham races. Perfect day. Great weather, lovely food and  wonderful people. The only way it could have been any better was to have actually won some money. But can money buy you happiness?

Monday, 12 March 2007

Happiness a bottle...

Welcome to Smiley - the world's first anti-depressant perfume ( being an ex journo I dont know that is true but bear with me here).  Containing phenylethylamine and theobromine, which promote euphoric feelings and block adrenalin receivers (therefore lessening stress) respectively, Smiley claims to create a mood of happiness. As I spend large parts of my week advising CEO's to lighten up when presenting - I feel this may come in handy.

World peace in a bottle anyone?

Less is more.....

Garr Reynolds is a communications superstar. He has taken the art ( yes art) of presentation to Zen like levels. Thought his latest post might help a few of my clients to think more about the "Less is More" approach ( you know who you are!)

The Signal to Noise Ratio principle is borrowed from more technical fields such as radio communications and electronic communication in general, but the principle itself is applicable to design and communication problems in virtually any field. The authors sum up the signal-to-noise ratio this way:


The ratio of relevant to irrelevant information in a display. The highest possible signal-to-noise ratio is desirable in design.


"Every element in a design should be expressed to the extent necessary, but not beyond the extent necessary. Excess is noise."

Given that you are not Tom Peters - how "noisy are you presentations?".

Sunday, 11 March 2007

The game of love?

Link to BBC NEWS | Technology | Designer hopes for love in games

looking for love via a computer game? well "halo" boys :) sorry....

Screen shot from Fable

The Human Network

Love this title as it starts to explain what i have been banging on about for the last year ( i am a recent geek girl ). The real benefit of technology is that IT BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER. Its that simple. Web 2.0 sounds altogether a bit tecchie for me but Human Network, hey i can relate to this stuff. Cisco has its own take on this and is presenting real examples like Dave's Blog:

"Earlier last year, I had an idea: build 35 houses for victims of violence in Colombia, which would take up to 200 people off the streets. My goal was to raise the money myself and hire locals to do the work. I created a blog to share information about the project, and soon had up to to 15,000 visitors per month. I raised $170,000, and none of this would have happened without the blog."

Forrester Research concluded in a 2006 report that increasing person to person communication is impacting the global economy. It is said that your power is in the people you know, not the product you sell. It is changing society as people depend less on cultural intermediaries - media, businesses, and other mass cultural groups.

So what will you do with your Human Network this week?

Saturday, 10 March 2007

60 secs or less.....

Love the idea of 60 secs or less.... - literally just a minute to communicate the BENEFITS of you, your service or product. Event organisers and entrepreneurs may want to think about how powerful these mini presentations are. I urge presenters to answer the questions "how can i help a particular group of people?" because the audience will be thinking "why should we care?".