February 11

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I went out for a few beers last night with my mate, Julian.

<smug-mode>

I stuck to Diet Coke so this morning I’m mostly as fresh as the daisies in yon fields to the South, whereas I suspect Julian will be stopping a few times on his cycle-ride over to use my gym for the odd puke or two.

He was, shall we say, several sheets to the wind.

</smug-mode>

Anyway… as the conversation meandered hither and thither we got to talking about the 70s, when music was music, and casual racism, sexism, and rampant discrimination were the order of the day.

And as I showered this morning, wondering what profound wisdom to share with you today, my mind found itself back in the early 70s and replaying a snippet of the local news they used to show on the Idiot Box between the national news and the start of the evening’s inanity.

Long story short: bloke — let’s call him Stan — with a face like a dried prune sitting up in his bed breathing through a cigarette and talking around the little white cancer-stick as he did.

He’d had one of his legs amputated and the doctors had told him if he didn’t stop smoking he’d lose the other one, assuming he die first.

“But I can’t stop”, grinned Stan into the camera, evidently thrilled at his five minutes’ fame. “I know it’s going to kill me, but I can’t stop. And you’ve got to go somehow, haven’t you?”

Well, yes, Stan, you have.

We do indeed all die.

But I can think of better ways to go, if I’m honest.

I mean… pick one…

A. Legless, breathless, and bedbound… looking 20 years older than you are, lungs full of tar, and smelling like an ashtray.

B. Reasonably fit, healthy (aside from being dead), two-legged, and at the end of your natural lifespan.

Hmmmm… it’s a close one, Stan. I’ll give you a few minutes to think about it.

What’s that, Stan? Oh, OK. You’re going for amputation, lung disease, and a long, lingering, painful, and unnecessarily early death? Great. Just hang on and we’ll get that set up for you.

Thing is, while it’s easy to laugh at the stupid old fool (which is exactly what we did, all those years ago), I see much the same thing going on even today.

See, business owners get on the blower with me and tell me their businesses are struggling, they have the big, burning problem of not being able to get high-quality customers or clients in the right numbers, and if they don’t fix it things won’t go well for them.

Great! That’s why you’re talking to me!

But, you know what they do then?

Nothing.

More often than not they follow in Smoking Stan’s footsteps (well, metaphorically, because the old twat can’t walk any more) and carry on with ineffective and even self-destructive behaviour even though they know there’s another option.

Why do they do this?

No idea.

It might be tempting to say it’s because I’m a crap salesman, but while that’s possible, it can’t be the whole answer, because it happens to others I know, too. Phil, my PT, in particular, has a regular procession of men who tell him they hate being fat, ugly, and useless yet still balk at the simple (but not always easy) solution he offers them.

I suppose we could all be crap salesmen, but I don’t think so.

So, I ask again — why do people do this?

And the only answer I can come up with is because that’s what people like that do.

I realise that’s not much of an answer at all, but it’s the best I can think of.

Anything else just does my nut in.

So, my question to you: where do you sit in all this?

What’s the biggest and most burning problem your business?

And exactly what are you doing about it?

Answer those questions, then book a time to talk to me about them and see if I can help

Witheringly,

P.S. Fly in the ointment: bloke sitting across the other side of the fire from us in the yard earwigging on our conversation and asking questions, and offering unasked-for interjections.

It was just about bearable until his ears pricked up as we talked about Asperger’s and the current initiative in the town to be “autism friendly” (something quintessentially bizarre in a pub, which is, pretty much as autism unfriendly as you can get, almost by definition), and he came out with the guaranteed-to-raise-the-EBG’s-ire, “I think we’re all a little bit autistic”.

No.

That makes no fucking sense whatsoever and in saying it you show you have no fucking clue what you’re talking about.

Yes, I’m sure you’re well-meaning and not trying to be an ignorant and annoying sack of pus, but all you’re doing is inviting my annoyance and irritation with your profound lack of cluefulness.

And when it comes to expressing these emotions I’m pretty good, as I think he found out.

My point: don’t offer opinions on topics you know nothing about.

I see it all the time in business with uninformed greenhorns having opinions on everything from pricing to positioning and all they do when they spill their words onto the keyboard is expose and reveal their shallow and superficial understanding of the topic.

If you’re gonna seek an opinion, for the Love of All That’s Holy, ask someone who knows what he or she is talking about.


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