Lovers of this 1996 cult movie will remember that it starts with Tom Cruise’s character writing a mission statement about “perceived dishonesty” in sport. Big story about that this week — of which more anon – but that’s not in fact the subject for this week’s Business Bit.
(Before we come to that, a wee nugget for cinema bores buffs – Cameron Crowe, who produced and directed the movie, also wrote the screenplay, and originally had Tom Hanks in mind for the title role – but unfortunately he took so long to finish the screenplay that he then decided that Hanks was now too old for the part….) (I’ve missed a few deadlines like that hem hem – Ed)
For those of you on the edge of your seat (and the person who’s just said “fat chance” will be thrown out if it happens again), the serious bit this week actually comes from Maguire’s wife (played by Renée Zellweger), and her much-quoted line “you had me at hello”.
Who are the most important people in your company? Yes, yes, we know that all your people are important – but the most important? Well, arguably it’s not the boss – it’s the person who the customer (and the potential customer) first comes into contact with – the receptionist, the person who answers the phone, the salesman.
What do you do to ensure that your business “has them at hello”? How do you make sure that the business’s culture ensures that everyone who might come into contact with customers (i.e. everyone in the company!) has the right attitude – friendly, helpful, and businesslike?
If it would help to ask the advice of seven other independent-minded business owners, with no axe to grind, who you could meet every month on a confidential basis, and who would give you forthright, but supportive, advice – you know where to come!
Making the seamless (as always hem hem) link to the trivia section….
• …. there’s helpful advice on this from the French (not always two concepts which appear in the same sentence hem hem). M Jean-Julien Aucouturier, a speech researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, has been engaged in the quest for the perfect bonjour, and reckons he’s cracked it. If you want to dominate the person you’re greeting, say bonjour with a falling pitch, but if you want to inspire trust, end on a sharply rising note (Mr Leslie Phillips sussed this a while ago with his louche “hell-O!”). A word (or mot) of caution, though – M A’s research was conducted in French — does it apply in English also? More research is needed….
• …. and you may need this more and more in the future – Amazon has filed a patent for “innovations relating to human interaction with unmanned aerial vehicles”. They envisage a future where delivery drones are as common as “mail trucks on the road”, and where you may need to adjust the wee bot’s delivery plan by “waving one’s arms aggressively in front of one’s face”, “covering of one’s head with one’s arms”, or “moving of one’s arms in a shooing fashion”. Huh – judging by the Ed’s lifelong inability to attract a waiter’s attention, the future looks bleak…
• …. and it’s already here – this week saw Blighty’s first self-drive mainline train (on Thameslink) (though a driver remains in the cab to “carry out safety checks and operate doors”). Meanwhile the Harrogate line continues to rejoice in rattletrap “Sprinters” (named ironically, one assumes) dating back over thirty years….
• …. and continuing the theme of objects overtaken by the march of technology, our beloved Prime Minister this week abandoned (with regret) her Blackberry in favour of an iPhone. The Times reported that the PM will now be unable to indulge her weakness for the paper’s Sudoku – the only national newspaper app which passes the security threshold is, apparently, the Grauniad….
• …. but Ms May will still be able to maintain her happy demeanour (shome mishtake, shurely? – Ed) – boffins from Ohio Uni reckon that those who are heavy users of the Internet are in general happier than those who aren’t….
• …. though being wedded to one’s mobile doesn’t necessarily make you a nicer person – family solicitors dealing with probate report that some bereaved families are going to macabre lengths to unlock the smartphones and tablets of dead relatives, including asking undertakers to use the corpse’s fingers to activate identity sensors. If your rich uncle has just pegged it, and you’re tempted, don’t bother – the sensors usually work by detecting an electrical discharge running through the skin. And Apple’s new face ID, on the iPhone X, is designed to work using natural eye movement. Back to the drawing board….
• in followups from last week…. brother Jonathan points out that the whizzy self-parking slippers would be even more whizzy if they operated while you were still wearing them….
• and several London clubs (including the Athenaeum) have followed Royal Ascot’s lead in banning gentlemen who are not wearing socks (quite right – surely a non-sockwearer is by definition not a gentleman?), though the Ritz has no plans to follow suit (did you see what we did there?) and the Goring (which the Royal Family use) has actually embraced its sockless clients – “our male customers are free to flaunt their ankles” (another reason not to stay there) (not to mention the rack rate of £525 a night)
• in other fashion news, the latest must-have from the catwalks is apparently the balaclava….
• …. no doubt Mr Johan Lundgren, the CEO of Easyjet, wishes he had had one available to mask his embarrassment, as he was forced to witness an inebriated passenger being removed by four German police officers as the plane landed at Berlin’s Tegel Airport on its inaugural flight from Gatwick. The unnamed man (British, regrettably) had drunk a bottle of duty-free vodka, attempted to smoke in the plane toilets, and abused other passengers – an exhibition of diplomatic aplomb not matched even by our beloved Foreign Secretary (yet). At least we now know that VIP stands for Very Inebriated Passenger
• …. a far cry from the traditional British stiff upper lip – which may be as old as Blighty itself, according to researchers led by Prof Simon Blockley (of Royal Holloway at the Uni of London), Prof B’s team have investigated ancient Britons who lived by the side of a lake at Star Carr, the UK’s most important Middle Stone Age site (in Yorkshire – hurrah) – the stoical proto-Tykes were amongst the first people to repopulate the country after the last Ice Age, and “coped cheerfully with severe climatic shocks” (as they still do) (hmmm — cheerfully? nay lad, not sure about that….)
• the avocado has been overtaken in the popularity stakes by the pineapple (according to the Grauniad), though no cases of Pineapple Hand have yet been reported from A&E
• there’s been a herd/flock/skein of animal stories this week…. one of the biggest days in the sheep racing calendar, an Easter meeting held for nearly 30 years at a zoo in Shropshire (including a Grand National and a Gold Cup), has been abandoned following pressure from vegans and “eco-terrorists” (can’t see why the vegans were upset – nobody was planning to eat the contestants, as far as is known — Ed)….
• …. Mr Con Jones had an alarming experience at his friend’s wedding in Cheshire on St Patrick’s Day, when Bobby, who was supposed to deliver the ring to one of the three best men (three???), appeared to attack Mr J instead. Bobby is a barn owl, and apparently the wol’s reputation for wisdom is pretty wide of the mark – Ms Jemima Parry-Jones says (in her book Training Birds of Prey) that “I consider owls to be as thick as two short planks”. (Hmm – bit ‘arsh – and I shouldn’t let Athene hear you say that if I were you – Ed)….
• …. a duck-loving North Wales man escaped with a caution after he saw a heron swallow a duckling and rescued it by killing the heron and extracting the duckling, causing witnesses to summon Taffy Plod…. animal rights campaigners were outraged….
• …. and other ducks (whether in Aylesbowie or not) can also be injurious to health – Swiss researchers carried out “controlled experiments” on six identical (bath-type) rubber ducks in the lab, and then cut them open, to discover plenty of microbiological nasties growing inside. Not a peep from the animal rights guys, though
• the PC brigade (no, not ordinary Plod, but the language police) have got their beadies even on the world of bodice-rippers, it seems – authors Ms Sophie Stern and Ms HelenKay (ugh – Ed) Dimon, amongst others, are toning down the macho stuff. These two ladies are the authors, respectively, of Rex from HR and Pregnant by the CEO — I’m sure they’re both rattling good yarns, if you see what I mean, but the titles don’t immediately draw one in – Ed)
• and whilst in the world of PC, there’s been a spirited correspondence in the Times about men needing close supervision in the kitchen, including a letter from Ms Penny Sloman saying “I once returned from a week away to find a note that our son had written for my husband. It said ‘Dad, please put the sausages in the oven at 6pm. The oven is under the microwave’” (cutting, but probably realistic – Ed)
• and finally, back to the “perceived dishonesty in sport” with which we started, and the cricketing trainwreck in South Africa. The fate of Mr David Warner, the Aussie (ex)Vice Captain, was particularly spectacular – when Mr Faf du Plessis (of South Africa) was accused of ball-tampering in 2016 (having been convicted of the offence in 2013), Mr W was excoriating in his criticism, including saying that no Australian player would ever do such a thing…. thus proving that whatever Athene’s wisdom (or otherwise), Nemesis is still in remarkably good form
On to Columbo Corner, and a splendid national-stereotype-reinforcing story from British Columbia. Mr Gillaume Rey, a waiter of French extraction, was sacked by the Milestones restaurant in Vancouver for being rude – not to the customers, but to his fellow staff members (to the extent that colleagues complained about his attitude, with one driven to tears when she was reprimanded by him). Mr Rey has claimed wrongful dismissal, on the grounds (in essence) that he is French…. he denied being disagreeable, saying that “French culture tends to be more direct and expressive”…. vraiment, m’sieur
Have a great weekend – and if you’re going to a wedding, keep your peepers peeled for Bobby….
Cheers for now
For a light-hearted look at some of what TAB does, have a look at this animation
I presently run three Boards –
Dark Blue (for people who run large businesses) – one spare seat
Light Blue (for people who run large businesses) — two spare seats
White Board (for people who run fast-growing businesses) — two spare seats
“The only two words you should ever say to a mirror are “Hello, Beautiful” (Richelle (ugh — Ed) E Goodrich)
“And it’s wrong, wrong, wrong, but we’ll do it anyway, ’cause we love a bit of trouble” (Arctic Monkeys, Balaclava)
“The smell nearly distracted me from my task, but no — I remained steadfast. Stiff upper lip, Watson! Action! Answers! THEN bacon” (G S Denning, The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles)
“You can’t help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn’t spell it right; but spelling isn’t everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn’t count” (Rabbit, in The House at Pooh Corner, referring to Wol’s great accomplishment)
“Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait for very, very long time” (Jules Renard)
By Tom Morton – TAB Harrogate