Monday, 31 July 2017

Bad business

THIS was originally posted in 2013, but it remains my consistent experience of trying to book hotels and venues:

I think I know why there is a recession on.  There's only one reason - people are completely crap when it comes to business.

Or maybe it is just me and I'm having one of those weeks.

A company I employ to handle my credit card processing sent me a snotty letter. "Your direct debit has failed and you owe us £23.40p."  But there is no reference as to why I owe them this money, or an invoice number or anything at all in fact.  But the letter continues, "Failure to pay within 7 days of this letter will incur a £30 penalty as outlined in our terms and conditions."  

Well, that's just charming.  So I check with the bank - all direct debits are working just fine.  
So I call the company's billing department.  Apparently my call is important to them, but no one answers.  I try umpteen times over several days.  Still no luck.

So I email them.  No reply.  This all began back in December.  On the 20th, to be precise. I email them repeatedly.

Still no one answers the phone, and no one has replied to my numerous emails.

Then customers started to complain to me that they couldn't make payments online.  I contact the company support desk.  Eventually I get a reply.  Apparently there is nothing wrong with the credit card processing, my customers simply aren't using it correctly.

But still those pesky customers keep complaining that they can't pay me money.

Several arguments later with the technical support monkeys and I cancel their service.  Still no word on that issue of the £23.40 pence though.

I'll wait for the legal letter, maybe their legal department will be more helpful.

Then on Monday a venue that I had booked for an event this year emailed me.  Sorry they said, but due to a computer glitch, they need to change my booking.  What this translates to is that someone there has double booked the venue and as the smaller player, I get dumped.

Now the thing is the room I booked was a very specific room. The requirements for the venue ware exact and this booking fulfilled those requirements. I'm offered an alternative room "at no extra charge" but this alternative doesn't fulfil the requirements.  It's a bit like paying for an iPad only to be told, "Sorry, we have had to cancel your iPad, but here's a mouldy banana and a free cup of tea instead at no extra charge."

So, I start shopping around for alternative venues.  I think I find one and i send off an email to the conference booking manager.  Yes, we have a room that is perfect for you," she tells me.  

"Can you send me a picture?" I ask

"No." she tells me.

What?

Wait. So, let me just check.  I'm wanting to book a large training room for the better part of a week (about £3000-£4000) plus refreshments (probably about £150 a day) including hotel accommodation for about 35 people for either 3 or 4 nights at £147 per night. People who will also inevitably buy breakfast and an evening meal as well drinks at the bar.  And this person can't be bothered send me a photo.

"Perhaps you could use a camera phone and send it over to me?" I try suggesting.

"Sorry, we don't do that, but please don't hesitate to let me know if there is anything further I can do for you!" she says cheerfully ending the converstion.

And right there, right then in a little *poof!!* noise and a painful lack of initiative, £20,000 of guaranteed business for that hotel vanished in a little puff of smoke.

So, I move on.  I find a well known hotel chain with a good reputation.  I've stayed in some of their hotels before and always found them to be very good.  So, I go to their website to find the phone number of the exact hotel I require.

But there is no phone number for the hotel. 

I can only find a generic central phone number. The website suggests that I enter a web-enquiry and a customer service agent will call me back.

Now, remember, my requirements are very specific. A customer service agent in Calcutta is unlikely to be able to answer any of my questions.  "Fuck it," I think, "nothing to lose", so I click the link.

Except it doesn't take me to a phone number or a place where I leave my phone number.  No, what it does is it takes me to an account creation page and only when i have created a business account can I "submit my enquiry."  Fuckwits.

And right there, right then in one swift click, £20,000 of business just vanished for that hotel chain.

I call the next hotel.  The phone rings out in the conference booking department.  I wait half an hour and call again.  It rings solidly and rings out.  No answer phone to leave a message.  So I look at their website, there is a "submit enquiry" form. 

I fill it in.

I click send.

And I get a screen load of error messages.  Stack overflow runtime error 6000, or something (I don't care. Nerds, please don't bother trying to correct me or explain it to me, I'll probably just be rude to you).

And right there, right then, another hotel loses £20,000 of guaranteed business.

And then something magical happens.

Calming me from my mounting fury, I find something really special.  I mean, really, really special.  I can't tell you what it is, because it would reveal where it is, but trust me, it is the Piece de Resistance of training venues.  I know it will be expensive, but I think it is worth a punt.  I send off a speculative email enquiry outlining my exact requirements.

A reply comes really back quite quickly.  But there is something a bit strange about the reply. 
It has a bunch of attachments that are actually booking forms and confidential data that has been sent over to them by another potential customer.  

God only knows how they got attached to the reply email. Then there is the thing about the price. It seems far too cheap for what they are offering.  But, the email says, in bold red letters beneath the venue details, that this is the correct price and for this specific venue.

I go bounding into the other room where my wife is working.  I think she is pleased that I've finally stopped ranting.  I tell her the good news.  The dog wags his little tail, he too is happy.  But the look on my wife's face tells me what the voice in the back of my head is also telling me.

I send an email back querying that they have sent me the correct details.

"Oh no," they tell me, in complete contradiction to the big red letters in their earlier email, "The price we have quoted you is for the other main training room, not [the really special place]"

The main training room seats 20. It's another mouldy banana.

But did they think, "Oh, maybe we should give him the prices for the other rooms?"  

No they didn't. That would require some kind of initiative, so I have to send another email back to them to ask this.

And guess what.  No reply.

I'll watch the news later.  It will continue to tell me that we are in recession.
And I will smile a little knowing smile of exactly why this is.

Do please share your stories in the comments section below.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Fake Phds

On my Brass Bollocks training where I open the doors to the business end of my work and show exactly how and what I did and do now to run a successful business I repeatedly expound a simple principle:

"Humility will save you from humiliation."

It shouldn't be a difficult concept but in the world of personal development where everyone is chasing a high status in the industry, it is a very rare thing indeed.

This may sound familiar to some of you. Some trainers who bought the program now use this repeatedly themselves in their own versions of my product.

You can get the original here: http://www.brassbollocks.com (it's a bit old now, but still pretty good and is less than a tenner)

I believe that I can accurately predict how quick a new practitioner will fail and return to their day job.  The quickest failure will follow a single use of a single word. "Us"

On the practitioner's contact page they write, "Contact Us" instead of "Contact Me". This is an excellent predictor of failure where there is a just solo practitioner, rather than a group practitioners on the site.

Why do they write "Contact Us"?  Well, because he or she is trying to appear more than they actually are.

Their very first point of contact with their customer is built on a simple little deception, a lie.  Not exactly the best start, don't you think?

And the reason their business will fail?  Because they are deceiving themselves as to the true nature of their business and they will continue to build on this lie as they ever inflate their ego and bolster a false identity.

A fairly common extension of this lie is the use of false and fake qualifications and certifications. 

The fake PhD is just one example.

Another tragically common example is the endless creation of self-serving "Regulation Boards" "Associations", "Societies", Institutes" and so forth all in an attempt to afford status and prestige, when in fact they are just merely a brief invention to "endorse" their own practice and courses.

What this does is contaminate the marketplace so much that the public no longer knows what is a genuine society (i.e. it actually has members, a charter, etc) and what is just a webpage on the 'net purporting to be such. 

Actually, I think so many hypnotherapists are utterly ignorant and in their quest for status they don't ever bother checking these things out themselves.  They just send off a cheque, receive a certificate and that is that - they are a member, have a logo and so on, and so that they unknowingly perpetuate the lie and the falsehood.

Several years ago I managed to terminate the totally fake and illegal "British Board of NLP" operation by threatening to bring a criminal action against its "chairman" unless he removed all traces of the website and notified his "members" of such. 

Yet, if you google it today, you will still find people claiming to be members of "The British Board of NLP", displaying a logo and claiming status as a result.  It worries me when supposed experts in mental health display such crass stupidity. And I do think this is a stupidity rather than a deliberate fraud.

And here's the funny thing - they display these logos, memberships and false qualifications so that we...err...trust them.

It's worth mentioning here that a few years ago the original "chairman" of the "British Board of NLP" sent me a legal letter threatening me with litigation for libel unless I immediately ceased my public statements about their shenanigans.

I couldn't help but wonder how interesting it would be to see them actually try to prove in court that the 'British Board of NLP' actually existed.  It didn't and never did, so it was impossible for me to libel it. I never heard anything further from them until "it" (actually, this was just the domain name for the website and company name, which wasn't actually "The British Board of NLP") changed hands and the nonsense started up all over again.

I've recently challenged people about the use of fake PhDs on a hypnosis forum and interestingly received a collective outrage from forum members suggesting that to do so was somehow unsporting and that I was being aggressive.  Needless to say, the usual threats of litigation followed and expressions of outrage ensued.

A recent anonymous blog (http://fakedoctorate.blogspot.co.uk) has taken to "outing" the hypnotherapists who claim to have PhDs when they allegedly don't have any such thing. Whilst I cannot claim to know the validity of the claims that are made on this blog, I thoroughly applaud the sentiment. I'd just like to add that in some circles that this is believed to be one of my sites. It isn't, nor do I know whose it is. Yet, periodically I receive emails from outraged individuals who think I am the one posting the Fake PhD Blog and telling me to cease and desist.

The hypnotherapy community appears outraged because apparently such a blog is unprofessional and brings the profession into disrepute.  Well, I have news for them - so is lying about one's qualification in order to defraud clients out of their money.

Here's the link to the BBC program about such nonsense that was aired in 2009 to which I was a main contributor behind the scenes and make a fleeting appearance and accidentally ask to see a lady's breasts. https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=176394112754

I would love to read your comments in the section below...

Monday, 17 July 2017

Two Rupees

Every now and then a well-placed word or sentence can change everything for a person.  Sometimes this can happen more by chance than by design, but it doesn't have to be this way.  Here's an example from a trip to India about 14 years ago.

I was hopelessly lost.  I'd gotten off the bus unknowingly at the wrong place and headed across town in what I thought was the right direction, only to discover my error.  Being a Sunday, most things were shut and there weren't too many people around, and by the time I found the bus station, I was completely alone.  There was no one there at all.

I stood pondering the best course of action when movement from across the bus park caught my attention.  A small man was sprinting across the bus park and directly towards me. I thought this curious and thought it more so as he closed in and was clearly going to run straight into me.  What is this madness? I thought, and in the last moment, he swerved attempting to snatch my bag from my shoulder as he did so.

Now, with me being twice his size and having braced for impact, a comedy moment ensued whereby he was wrenched from his feet and fell flat on his ass right beside me as the bag remained securely around my shoulder.  I was dumbfounded and for a moment had no idea what to do or say.  I kind of stood there open mouthed staring at him whilst he lay there in a similar state staring back up at me.

I helped him to his feet.

"Give me two rupees." he said.  I told him no, I wouldn't give him two rupees and that maybe, just maybe, he might want to go away.

"Two rupees," he replied.

"No!"

"Two rupees!"

Now, at this point, he started pulling at my shirt and made another attempt at snatching my bag.  I pushed him away, but he was quite insistent.

"Two rupees!" he kept demanding, holding out his fingers in a begging gesture.

Now, of course, I could have simply handed him two rupees, but there were a number of potential scenarios that could have occurred.  The most obvious was that he'd take the two rupees and then simply demand another two rupees.  The other possibility was that the moment I take my wallet out of my pocket, he'd try to snatch that too.

He looked impoverished, downtrodden and poor.  But he was also a problem to me, it was clear that he wasn't going to give in or go away too readily.

He kept pulling at my shirt, "two rupees!" he was saying over and over.

I was beginning to get quite irritated and now was stuck in a mind set commonly known as "The Principle Of The Thing"  - this man had tried to steal my bag, and now he was demanding money and wasn't going to go away. There was a principle at stake here.  Thinking outside the box was not going to be part of this.  Stupid mindset.

I started to walk away but he still kept tugging at my shirt, "two rupees, two rupees!"

Then he started walking in front of me, "two rupees!" and then at my side, "two rupees!" then blocking my path, "two rupees!"  This went on and on for what seemed like hours, but in reality was only about 30 minutes.  There were still no people around, "where is everyone?" I pondered.

I began to get very angry indeed.  

"Two rupees! Two rupees!

"NOO!!!  NOOO!!!  NO!!  I AM NOT GIVING YOU TWO RUPEES!!  NOW F*CK OFF!!"  I screamed, I bellowed, I waved my arms, I displayed as much hostility as I could muster.  All pointless of course, because…

"Two rupees!"

Bastard!

I crossed the threshold of sanity and did what is known in my part of the world as, "Completely Losing The Plot"  The words streaming from my mouth undoubtedly lacked too much coherence, but the message was unmistakable.  Copious bile was spat in his direction….

"Two Rupees?"

I hated him.

My anger and feeling of powerlessness over this infuriating little man continued to rise and I could see no end to this ridiculous charade ever happening.  It was like I was in some kind of hell that would last forever and I could see no way out of the torment.

And then I entered one of the least proud moments of my life.
 
I shoved him as hard as I possibly could away from me, shouting at him the whole time. He nearly fell to the floor.

"Two rupees!?"

I was now incandescent. I picked him up, twirled him around and dropped him on the floor and towered over him, shouting and threatening him.

And then something happened.  A voice.  A different voice that came from behind me.

I glance around and see a young man in spectacles holding a pile of books.

"Excuse me, Sir," he said, "I think I can see what the problem is."

"WHAT IS IT THEN!?!?!?!?" I shouted, realising as I did so that I really shouldn't be shouting at this young man.

"You see, Sir, that poor man on the floor doesn't speak English!"

The sheer ludicrousness of that statement broke the tension and I burst out laughing.  Doesn't speak English?  Which bit of any of my communication needed any translation? The young man just raised his eyebrows and looked at me with disappointment in his eyes. The man on the floor started laughing too, but I doubt that he any idea what he was laughing at, he was probably just trying to humour me and stay alive.

As I say, not exactly one of my proudest days, and that annoying man still kept following me.  For another full hour in fact.  I remained quite calm, and I gave him the two rupees.  Actually, I gave him more than that, and yes, he did those two things as I predicted.  He tried to snatch my wallet and when that failed, he continued to demand two rupees.  I eventually escaped in a taxi who initially drove slowly enough to permit the man to run alongside the taxi shouting, "two rupees!" whilst he held out his hand.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Modelling

This is my reply on a LinkedIn group in response to a question about modelling criminals in order to find better solutions to imprisonment.  I thought it worth sharing here:

To add to this, I too often wonder about all this supposed modelling. I don't wish to dismiss the original question in this thread as I think it has worth, but I have to ask where are all the models and demonstrations of the excellence that is so frequently claimed in NLP?

For example:

- Did an NLPer ever win the target shooting at the Olympics?
- Do we have legions of NLPers making money on the stock exchange, in property investment?
- Do we have NLPers offering lessons in healing on hospital wards?
- Any NLPers competing and winning at Nascar?
- Any NLPers inventing new machines and technology?
- Any champion fighters, boxers or gamblers who got there from NLP modelling?
- Any medical breakthroughs from NLP modelling?

There may be one or two, but I doubt there are very many despite there being many, many thousands of people trained in NLP and claiming qualification.

I think in part it goes wrong because to do any of these things involves a great amount of work, and many NLPers don't want to do "work" - what they want to do is NLP!

There are undoubtedly a very great number of dedicated people who work in the criminal justice system who well understand the model of criminality from a multiple of aspects. I doubt such understanding comes through chatting to a few crims though. Hard work, dedication and being in it for the long haul will probably help a lot.

One of the problems in-built into the world of NLP is that so many people are attracted to NLP for selfish purposes i.e. personal development and recreation. It's fun, it fulfils, it's a good thing to do. However, many jobs such as medicine/nursing, criminal justice, military and so on require something else - the ability to deal with really shitty times and bad days at the office, physical and mental exhaustion, physical and mental threats and challenges and so on. These are usually the very things that the NLPer and coach seeks to avoid - it is one of the reasons that so many self-employed seek self employment - to avoid the pain of work.

It is just unfortunate that so many end up avoiding not just the pain, but they also avoid the work itself.

And then the follow up...

"I wonder why there is such an apparent lack of modelling evidence and it 
being put into practice; is it because NLP is still seen as a black art by 
mainstream medicine, business and society, or is it still a well-kept 
(deliberately perhaps?) secret?"

Not at all. It is not up to the medics, business people or society to find the application of NLP, it is the responsibility of the NLP practitioners who claim excellence to do so.

I think that it is the problem. Selfish and smug, see...

For years, working at Southampton General Hospital, before my cynicism to NLPers set in I regularly invited NLP practitioners to come and do modelling work and also to demonstrate their excellence on the departments on which I worked. No one ever took me up on this.

For NLPers wanting to get rich and famous for being "excellent" - what better way than modelling healing and then demonstrating it on a simple video posted onto youtube?

Same for those guys who claim to be able to teach you to read minds like Derren Brown - let's see a video then? Guys? Guys...? Oh, never mind.

How about seeing your submodality sets via SMEACS? A video demonstration, perhaps? Not too difficult for NLPers of apparent seniority, surely? Yet when asked publicly, said persons have what appears to be an emotional meltdown before one can utter the magic words, "State control! State control!"

Building a control panel in your mind, creating binocular telescopic vision? Enhance your hearing and sensory acuity? Fine, just be sure when writing to the guy that you use large print and double line spacing. But how about a video demonstrating the effect of said machines? Just a little video..something..anything?

Having a person sitting on your knee, regressed to being a small child and able to see the book that mother is reading with absolute clarity? Cute story, but how about a demo of such things?

Modelling sharp shooters for the army? Let's see the video. Shouldn't be too difficult to take an inexperienced person to the gun range and then film the installation and delivery of sharp shooting excellence. So, where's the video? I'm a member of a couple of gun clubs that are local to me. Come on over, I'll do the filming and am willing to be a demo subject (I'm a dreadful shot) just remember to bring some cake and wear Kevlar.

What about a mediocre video of some therapeutic excellence? Oh, that isn't too common either. Me and Nick Kemp are two of a very small number of people willing and able to demonstrate this and we continue to do so. Why isn't everyone else doing this? Perhaps because they are afraid of being "found out"?

But what we do get is yet more and more and more and more and more claims of marketing wizardry and brilliance (mostly from people heavily in debt), firewalking and yet more bored (sic) breaking. Same old, same old.

Yet, often I hear how "closed" the medical world is. Yet, this is completely contrary to my experience.

I often hear NLPers being highly negative of doctors ("Can you believe it, he actually said to the patient, 'this might hurt' - can you imagine!!") but yet I don't see too many NLPers popping off to gain their medical degree so they can apply their amazing skill base in the real world (as opposed to applying it in their imagination).

When people ask, "why don't doctors learn NLP?" I generally reply, "Why don't NLPers learn medicine?"

The complaint of "doctors are closed to the idea of NLP" is hardly grounded in reality, yet I hear it referenced often. It's a convenient excuse, of course. It means that their miracles of NLP are never actually tested, and so it keeps the dream alive.

Next time you hear an NLPer say this, ask them how many medical clinics they have actually asked to visit and demonstrate their excellence.

My best guess as to why so few people ever are wiling to find an application of their NLP skills is simply because reality has this habit of really ruining a good dream. An expensive dream at that.

You are a winner!

You are a winner!

There is one common marketing strategy that works really well that serves to make people fat and die young.  Make them a winner for being a glutton.

You undoubtedly seen that appalling TV show that has people competing against each other in races to eat the most of a particular thing, like burgers, pork pies or pickled goats brains or wotnot.

They even put a disclaimer on the show, "don't try this at home, these are professional eaters."  What on earth is a "professional eater" anyway?

One can only wonder if TV networks in countries like Eritrea and Ethiopia would ever show such an abomination to their viewing audience?

Here's the other thing.  Restaurants that serve things like a "belly buster" - a massive plate of meat or something that if you manage to eat it all, you will get a free T-shirt, ten dollars or you get to snog the waitress or something.  Regardless, successful gluttony in those establishments is greeted with prizes, fanfare, and of course, lots of free publicity in the local press for the eating establishment.

People will applaud greed. You will be a winner.

The weird thing about these winners?  They usually aren't all that fat.

They will still die young though if they keep that up.

Losers.

A solution? http://www.slimminginmyattic.com