Friday, September 19, 2008

Looks don’t matter…

Really? Who would you rather a date with; Angelina Jolie, or Jo Brand? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Jo brand is quite lovely, but I would still choose Angelina. It’s a shallow male thing.

That’s not all, looks go further than people. Remember a little while ago now that the fiat multipla won all sorts of awards across Europe, it had some serious innovation in internal design. Two bench seats that sat three, plenty of leg and headroom, a sizable boot and some pretty nifty foldable seats.

But what in the name of all that’s holy were the designers thinking. It looked like the love child of a dolphin and an elephant and I for one would rather arrive at my destination riding piggie-back on John Merrick than step out of it. And the truth is, I am not alone. Despite its good manners and supreme practicality, sales for fiat were disappointing low. It was meant for families, but no self respecting child would be seen getting out of it in front of the school gates. They would be beaten, tied to a tree and laughed at all day by passers by. So disappointing low were fiats sales, they decided to tone down the exterior design to just ugly instead of repulsively hideous. Thanks fiat.

Even if the product is good then, design still matters. But why? Well I have a theory about this. I personally think that good well thought design helps in two areas. It shows firstly that the company cares about the product. They have thought long and hard about how people will view it and they design it to look as pleasing as possible for them.

Secondly, good design delivers something that money almost cannot buy. Pride. Have you ever wondered why all Ferrari drivers have a smug grin? Surly they must know that everybody hates them? I have a friend that owns one and yes, he knows that people want to do him a serious injury, but he also knows that secretly, deep down inside we would love to drive round town in one too. He knows he is the ugly bloke with the super model girl friend.

In business, pride provides a little bit more. It provides motivation. If your proud of something your motivated to tell as many people about it as possible. Now I know that I have touched on this subject before but the power of motivation is astonishing.
A recent survey from America studied the results of ‘grades verse motivation’ to prospective employers. The results showed that as many as 90% of employers will take someone who is highly motivated over someone less motivated but with good grades.

The same is true when we own our own business. There is nothing we cannot learn, or accomplish, no problem we cannot overcome and no mountain we cannot climb if we are motivated enough.

There are some things in business we can save money on, there are some corners we can cut. But with your equipment always, always buy with your head AND your heart. You will never regret it.

Carl Phillips
Clear View Plus Ltd

Monday, September 1, 2008

Oi, Weirdo!

Last week I went camping… yes I know that’s not the kind of thing you’ll find Sir Alan Sugar doing, or any self respecting business owner ‘truth-be-told’, but there is a real good story behind it. If you remember in my last blog posting (the power of support), I highlighted the fact that I visit Ikea quite often just to keep my dearly beloved, other -half happy. I feel it is my responsibility to keep a smile on her face in any way I can. Those of you that are married will know that this is the purpose of life.

Firstly, it is my duty to explain that my wife has an obsession, she loves cows. We have over 50 ornamental items in our kitchen, each depicting a cow of sorts. She would have a real one if our sofa was big enough.
Unfortunately for me, a little while ago, she was browsing through an Argos catalogue and saw a cow pattern tent…

She had to have the cow tent. No amount of pleading and begging on my part was going to stop it. You see, I would have liked to have been more supportive but guessed that if she bought the cow tent, then she would want to use the cow tent. And I guessed right. I knew it was coming, both the bank holiday and the question…

How about we go for a couple of nights in my new cow tent?... shame not to use it.

OK, so now you see I have a problem. I don’t like going away to begin with. I don’t like camping and I have issues with sleeping in a cow pattern tent on a camp site full of drunken welsh skinheads. They will tease me or laugh at me or even try to make man love with me as soon as our lights went out.

But how can you fight a bubbly blonde with blue, puppy-dog eyes and a smile more addictive than chocolate cake? So, on Saturday morning of the bank holiday weekend, I find myself packing the cow tent, my toothbrush, bug repellent and a suspiciously large camping knife for under my pillow.

I began thinking this could all go wrong when we arrived at the campsite. Strangely, some people take camping very seriously. There were tents that were as large as a small house, with fridges, cookers, and bathrooms. More than one had those solar powered garden lights that made up driveways. Size doesn’t matter my wife says but with camping it does, apparently.

Of course it got worse. We had enough time to find a quite corner, pitch the tent and sharpen my knife, when the heavens opened. It rained all day and all night and all the next day too. By the second morning even the hardcore campers had called it a day and were moving off. But not me. I had a point to prove. I was more man than them, even if my sexuality was in question because of my tent. But that was just at first.

It didn’t take a genius to work out that this is Britain, its always going to rain on a bank holiday so I expected rain. We sat outside wearing water proofed coats laughing and chuckling until we fell over. Then we started again. We persisted even when a bald man with a beard came and told us off for making too much noise. We carried on of course.

By the second day we almost had the field to ourselves and there was no letup to the merriment. It may have even changed my mind about camping.

It wasn’t until we returned home that I started thinking about the other occupants of the campsite. After the first day of rain there was an evacuation of almost everyone. And that reminded me a lot like the business world.

Isn’t it strange that people quit their jobs, a massively difficult step to make, then they start out on their own, which is also a time consuming and complex hurdle and then as soon as they hit the first major obstacle, they call it a day? Unfortunately, more start-up businesses do this than those that succeed.

Real entrepreneurs have a different attitude. Real entrepreneurs find the silver lining in any cloud and stick at it, making the very best of the situation. They view set backs and situations that are far from ideal as natural and they set about working out creative solutions. The more you look for examples like this among the more successful entrepreneurs, the more you will find this to be case.

Can you imagine how James Dyson felt when after 4000 prototypes; Hoover laughed him out of their offices? Or how Richard Branson felt when the bank called in his 300 million pound overdraft? These people fought the odds and won because of their irrepressible positive-attitudes.

No doubt, as business owners you too have had experience in overcoming adversity just because of your positive attitudes. For those of you that have read the ‘pure inspiration’ newsletter article on John and Jane Carty, you will know what I mean. If you missed it, you can subscribe to our newsletter by sending an E-mail with 'Newsletter' in the title to -

For this post however, I have a question for you. How far do you think that a positive attitude will take you? Is it all you need? Post your answers below.

Carl Phillips
Clear View Plus Ltd