A matter of confidence

April 23rd, 2012

Once you’ve met James Bulman you don’t forget him. At six foot three and, at a guess, a not-at-all-flabby sixteen stone, he cuts an imposing dash. You may have heard him talking about telephones: he knows what he’s talking about; and it comes over with supreme confidence. Face it: if your phones don’t do for you what they should do for you, James knows why, and he knows what to do about it.

So what, you might ask, does his impressive physique and demeanour have to do with the success of his communications business, Ability Partnership? Everything, that’s what. Surely, you might argue, it all rests on the fact that he’s taken the trouble to learn just about everything there is to know about telephones, and he knows how to apply that to businesses large and small? Not at all: that’s just the final playing-out of a lifetime of experience.

Look at James from the customer’s viewpoint: they may not care one way or another about his physique, or anything else about him apart from the fact that he knows how to fix their phones. But he inspires confidence. (Bear with me, please: I’m not trying to get elected as president of the JB Fan Club, though it may look like that. This is about understanding how we can pour all our faculties into the hunt for success.)

Like all of us, James has a life history which has made him what he is now. At age 10, he joined the Sea Cadets. He stayed with them, and with the Royal Navy, when he enrolled at Dartmouth Naval College, where, as he puts it, he learnt about team leadership.

This – and the confidence which arises from it – is evident from the way he lists his own attributes, with neither self-doubt nor bragging conceit: “I can teach others to do the things I can do. I have the power of command – the expectation that I will be obeyed.”

In an armed services context, that confidence is about inspiring excellence and performance from those under command. In the commercial marketplace, it can also apply to the way we deal with customers. On the plus side, it inspires confidence that James will deliver what he promises; and if there are issues about what’s delivered, he handles them from strength, too. Complaints? Every business has them occasionally; when they’re legitimate, we apologise, but if not, be prepared for a polite but firm rebuff from James.

Now James is harnessing these leadership skills, which have served him so well in business, in a not-for-profit training company, Group Ability UK, which will work with schools, churches and other groups.

Watch this space.

Categories: BNI

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Automaton stars in Martin Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’

December 1st, 2011

Press release: 1 December 2011

UK team designs and builds mechanical hero

A British Business, Dick George Creatives, has designed and built the automaton which appears in Martin Scorsese’s new family film, ‘Hugo’.
The family fantasy is based on Brian Selznick’s novel, ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’, in which the automaton is a link between the hero, Hugo, and his late father.
Most film-makers today would use computer-generated imagery (CGI) to portray such a character. But Dick George Creatives won the contract with the film’s production company to design and build a working robotic man.
The team was a solely UK based collective of 26 experienced prop and model makers. The project spanned more than eight months, during which time Dick George Creatives designed and built 15 automata. These included two capable of drawing a picture.
One of the requirements was for the automaton to hold a traditional pen, dip it in an inkwell and make a complete drawing a representation of George Melie’s iconic ‘Man in the Moon’ image. The programming for this sequence involved nearly 15,000 lines of computer code. Scorsese’s reaction when he first saw the automata in action? “Excellent work, gentlemen, excellent!”
Dick George said: “We have a team of amazing people who worked together for nearly a year to get the job done. I personally am very proud and pleased with what was created, but possibly more proud to have led a wholly committed and dedicated team of people on a unique movie-making journey. It’s unlikely a project like this will ever happen again.”
Dick George, who operates from workshops in Surrey, has been working for film-makers for 35 years, including producing helmets for the storm troopers in the first ‘Star Wars’ movie.


Issued on behalf of Dick George Creatives by Words for Business – contact David Goymour on +44 (0)20 8647 7389

Dick George – +44 (0)20 8339 2555 or +44(0)7841 584599


Categories: News

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The Big Network – 2

October 3rd, 2011

Press release: 2 October 2011

Business people to meet at The Big Network


Local businesses are being invited to The Big Network, an evening opportunity to share ideas and make new contacts. The event, at the Holiday Inn Sutton, on 13 October 2011 at 7pm, is organised by a group of members at Sutton BNI (Business Network International), who specialise in offering services to the business sector.
Networking is increasingly recognised as one of the most powerful ways of expanding a business, and BNI is the world’s most successful organisation of this kind. The Sutton chapter meets on Thursdays at 6.45am, when members pass referrals to each other and exchange information which can help them promote each other’s businesses.
The Big Network will bring together 50 businesses who possibly have not been to BNI’s breakfast meetings but could work with its members. Tickets for the event are £10, including a glass of wine and a light buffet.
To book a place, call Vanita Patel on 07949 508837 or Alan Johnson, on 07977 631792.

Note for editors
Issued by David Goymour of Words for Business for Sutton BNI: 07884 354913
For further information call Vanessa Udall, chapter director: 07753 791022
Please publish anything you can before the event. We look forward to meeting you or your reporter on 13 October, as guests of Sutton BNI.

Categories: BNI, News

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The Big Network – 2

September 16th, 2011

The business services power team of Sutton BNI is again organising The Big Network, at the Holiday Inn Sutton, on 13 October 2011 at 7pm. Networking is increasingly recognised as one of the most powerful ways of expanding a business, and BNI (Business Network International) is the world’s most successful organisation of this kind. BNI Sutton, the chapter which I joined in 2009, meets on Thursdays at 6.45am, when we pass referrals to each other and exchange information which can help us promote each other’s businesses.

If you were not at the first event, in June, you missed a great party, but now’s your chance. We’re keen to meet businesses which tend not to be represented at our breakfast meetings, and explore how we can work together. It’s great value at £10 a head, including a glass of wine and a light buffet.
If this sounds like your sort of evening, but you haven’t yet received an invitation, please email me and I’ll get you on the guest list.

Categories: BNI, Networking

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The Big Network

June 14th, 2011

Walk into a Thursday morning meeting of Sutton BNI and you’ll find people are wearing name badges with their trade or profession identified. Nothing new there – at BNI, as at other networking groups, we need to know what work people do, if we’re going to be able to pass referrals to them. At Sutton, though, we’ve just had our badges redesigned, and very smart they are, too: name, business name, job title, logo. Very helpful, especially for visitors who don’t know the regulars: if I’m working up an idea for an article about recycling, for example, I look out for references to waste, environment, and so on. And if someone needs help with publicity, the word ‘journalist’ on my badge is a helpful clue.

But what’s this? My badge has a green stripe across the bottom. Alan Gristwood, on the other hand, has a red stripe on his badge. Why the different colours? It’s all about power teams. Gristwood is our painter and decorator, and the red stripe on his badge tells you he’s in the ‘trades’ power team, which also includes plumber Mark Thaw, electrician John Sell and others. My green livery marks me as one of the ‘business services’ power team, also including web and graphic designer Keiran Wynyard, IT support specialist Alan Johnson, printer Carolyn Reilly and others. (All our members are here.)

In BNI terms, a power team is a group of members who tend to share the same clients, and so are likely to produce referrals for each other. The business services power team is bringing 100 of those clients together at the Holiday Inn Sutton on 23 June 2011 from 7pm to 9pm, for The Big Network. We’re doing this to spark off communication with businesses which employ five or more people. We’re also aware that some of these people are not willing to meet us at 7am. At £10 a ticket, including welcoming glass of wine and light buffet, we reckon The Big Network is the best show in town.

Categories: BNI

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Dana’s walk to the stars

May 29th, 2011

Fifties night to raise funds for life-changing operation

A 1950s dinner dance, being held on 10 June at the Holiday Inn, Sutton, could transform the life of a 12-year-old local girl. Dana, who has cerebral palsy, needs surgery which could get her out of her wheelchair and make her more independent. The “Fifties” event, featuring Surrey Jive, is being held to raise funds for Dana’s treatment.

Dana was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was a year old. She is affected by spasticity, mainly in her legs, and reduced muscle tone compared with other girls of her age. Her walking is limited and, because of her mobility problems, Sera Johnston, Dana’s mother, has to help her fetch and carry, get up and down stairs. Outside the home, Dana uses a wheelchair. Without surgery, Dana will be confined to the wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Dana and Sera live in Sutton, in South London, a short journey from several of Britain’s leading hospitals. But for the operation which Dana needs, which will make her more independent, she has to travel to St Louis, Missouri, in the United States, where Dr Park, a neurosurgeon, has been having success with surgery on children with similar problems to Dana. Sera has set up Dana’s Walk to the Stars, a charity, to raise the £60,000 needed to fund the travel and Dana’s treatment. So far £20,000 has been raised.

The operation is called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR); in a two-and-a-half-hour procedure, an opening will be made at the base of Dana’s spine, to expose the nerve-ends in the spinal column; the nerve ends will be tested individually – those which are not viable will be severed, leaving the viable nerve-ends intact. After recovery, a course of therapy will help the viable nerve-ends to come into play, and there are good prospects that Dana will be able to walk sufficiently well, that she will no longer need a wheelchair. “The operation will make her more independent,” says Sera.

The health watchdog NICE has released guidelines to recognise that SDR is an effective procedure. Primary care trusts decide whether it is justified in individual cases. But to all intents and purposes, the treatment is not yet available in the UK, for someone of Dana’s age and with her problems. One neurosurgeon working in the UK, who has been trained in the United States, will be reviewing patients who may be suitable candidates for SDR, but sadly this is only in one part of the UK.

Dana has been intensively screened, and last November a panel of experts agreed that she was a suitable candidate for surgery. Her operation has been scheduled for 4 August, leaving only two months to raise the rest of the funds needed.

At the 1950s night items up for auction include an authentic signed Chelsea FC shirt; Louis Vuitton handbag; Jaeger handbag; Nintendo Wii; rock band drum set; and Hot Diamond necklace. Raffle prizes will include: a case of wine; Next vouchers; children’s DVDs; Cook vouchers; and David Lloyd passes for four people. All funds raised will go directly to Dana’s appeal – there are no administrative costs to pay.

Tickets for the 1950s night are available from the Holiday Inn at £25 each, including welcoming drink and buffet dinner. Or email danaswalktothestars@gmail.com or call Sera Johnston on 07747 612510.

For further information about the campaign, go to www.danaswalktothestars.org.uk


Further information: Sera Johnston

E: danaswalktothestars@gmail.com M: 07747 612510

Issued for Dana’s Walk to the Stars by Words for Business


Categories: News

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Laughter, the best medicine

April 9th, 2011

OK, let’s be up-front about this: I’m talking to myself here. This blog still has ‘L’ plates attached, and I’m out for a driving lesson.
Thought I’d like to acknowledge things I particularly enjoyed on 1 April. Sir Richard Branson announced on Twitter that he’d bought the planet Pluto, which should put him ahead in the tourism space race. (Nice one, RB.) I hear the US Food and Drug Administration is asking Congress to outlaw the #hashtag as it believes it is a weapon of the marajuana mafia. And Today on Radio4 did a nice spoof on 3D broadcasting.
But that was last week. Time to move on. Don’t make me laugh.

Categories: Humour

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A blog about sex

April 8th, 2011

If it’s good enough for Dr Ivan Misner, father of modern networking, then it’s good enough for me. Misner has sent out a tweet about the launch of Business Networking and Sex, a book which he and two collaborators are writing. It won’t actually hit the streets till 2012, but Dr Misner clearly believes in allowing plenty of time for foreplay.

As explained on the web site set up to launch the book, when Dr Misner says ‘sex’, what he’s actually talking about is gender. His two co-authors are Frank de Raffele and Hazel Walker, who between them promise to help men work more effectively with women – and vice versa.

And, as I say, if it’s good enough for Dr Misner, it’s good enough for me. I have been reflecting today that I should launch the blog on my new web site with a posting about networking. Only when I logged on after supper did I realise I was going to be given such a deliciously baited hook to hang the story on.

BNI (Business Network International, founded in 1985 by Dr Misner) is the world’s most successful networking organisation. I joined the Sutton Chapter in 2008. But everyone is using networks now: you can buy diet supplements at a health food store or pharmacy, but the clever way to distribute them is to get people using them – and talking to family, friends and colleagues about it; I subscribe for a mixed case of wine once a quarter, but what the supplier really wants is for me to persuade others to sign up, for which he’ll reward me with a few more bottles; if I give a magazine subscription as a birthday or Christmas present, the publisher will send me a diary. I can’t support this statistically, but I wouldn’t mind betting that in each of these examples, the cost of achieving a sale is less than it would be if we were sending a rep out on the road, knocking on doors.

That’s certainly true of BNI. Membership costs, very roughly, £10 a week. Attending the weekly chapter meeting costs another £10 – with breakfast thrown in. What that buys me is some time and effort to promote my business, from each of the other members – two dozen in the case of our chapter, but it could be twice that number in some chapters. If anyone knows better value for £20, please tell me about it.

So, I’ve got this sales team, which only costs me £20 a week. Question is: am I telling my sales force exactly what I want them to sell, and to whom?

Categories: Networking

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