Category Archives for "Miscellaneous"

Autumn Break!

Quick note to let you know I’m resting this blog for a few weeks.

I’ve made a few breakthroughs with storytelling for businesses recently and I’m setting aside some time to study and think through what I’ve been learning.

Telling Stories: Making Business continues during November on the 14th and 28th. Follow the link for more information. It’ll rest in December and restart in the New Year.

I’m resting my emails over the same period. The best way to hear about developments in Market Together is to join my list. Follow the link, scroll down and complete the form.

And I shall continue posting on my Facebook Group, Storytelling in Business. Follow the link and ask to join the group.

And of course you can read my Market Together blog posts! There are about 700 now, dating back to 2013. Do comment on any of the posts – I reply to all comments that don’t look like spam!

Late Summer Pause

This blog will pause for a few weeks for my summer break.  I have lots of new ideas and when I return I shall write about them here.  If there is anything you would like me to write about comment on this or any other post.  Thank you for paying attention.

Easter Festivities

Someone recently pointed out whilst the Christian season of Lent, of fasting, is 40 days, the season for Easter festivities is 50 days!  Apparently Facebook events allow a maximum duration of 14 days. Such ongoing fun is unheard of outside of Church circles.

Anyway, as usual I shall pause my blog over the holidays.  This time it will be a bit different.

Mondays – I may break for a couple of weeks but will pick up and finish the Market sequence, relating to the Circuit questionnaire, as soon as I can.

Wednesday and Friday posts will cease until early June.  This will allow me time to prepare for the Success Summit on 20 May.  This link is to a blog post with details of coming events in the Sheffield area.   I shall keep this post up to date for now, while I work out a more permanent approach to publishing events on my website.

I shall post occasionally over this period when inspired.  There will be new developments for this blog and I shall announce them once I’ve worked out the details.

Revived blog posts will continue over this period.

This is a very busy time for me and big changes are close.  Stay in touch to see what’s happening!

Village Grill curry

Local Economy Events, Spring 2017

Here are the Local Economy Events I’m organising and participating in during the Spring.  If you are local, this will be a useful guide to upcoming events in Sheffield.  If you live elsewhere, they are ideas for activities you can organise yourself.  For more information about them and how we are organising them, simply leave a comment.

Updated 28 April 2017

Success Summit 2017

If you live in travel distance of Sheffield, put this date in your diary!  On 20 May 2017, a small group of businesses is organising a business and personal development event.  We are aiming for 200 people to attend for networking and informative, entertaining speaking.  You will see from the website, I am one of the keynote speakers at the event.

I have tickets and can sell them to you if you’re likely to run into me in Sheffield or else you can book through the website.

Curry Club

The Curry Club is a twice monthly (first and third Thursdays) business network event.  For £10 you get a three course curry, networking with an average of 20 business owners and a keynote talk.  The same group of businesses organises this event, each leading and promoting in turn.

The next meeting of the Curry Club is on 4 May 2017.  As usual there will be a speaker on some business related topic.

If you would like to attend, follow the link to Eventbrite.  This helps the restauranteur prepare the food.  Payment is in cash on the door.  If you can’t make this one, future meetings shall be on Eventbrite.

Telling Stories: Making Business

Telling Stories: Making Business is a twice monthly (second and fourth Thursdays) lunch and learn event I organise for business owners who want to use stories to promote their business.  My aim is to build a dynamic group who will take turns to share a story they use to promote their business.  Over the weeks we shall explore different types of story.

The idea is to take the story apart and put it back together to help the storyteller tell it to its best effects.  We’ll explore how it can be used and possible media to tell it.  Each meeting shall end with an elevator pitch where everyone can say what they have learned during the meeting.

If you would like to meet with a small group who can help you tell your story and use it to promote your business, contact me through the comments.

The fee of £10 includes lunch: burgers, wraps and similar with a drink.

Here is a brief account of the meeting on 13 April 2017:

Speaking Accelerator

I am currently polishing my speaking skills by taking part in the Public Speaking Academy’s Speaking Accelerator course.  There will be a couple of final days where there will be an opportunity to hear short speeches from the participants.  This will be an opportunity to hear some brilliant speeches and see what you could do with training and support.

The meetings are at 6pm on 25 April and 9 May 2017.  I spoke at the first but it is worth hearing the remaining speakers at the second meeting.  I have a few free tickets for the event.  If you would like to attend, leave a comment.  Or check out Eventbrite for more information:  The Accelerator: May 9.

And … Finally …

I shall soon launch my new lead magnet on my website: “Five Proven Steps to be Paid What You Really Deserve: Getting the Most Out of Coaching, Consultancy or Freelancing”.  You can reach it through my Business Success Quiz – a quick and fun way to assess your business viability!  Quizzes are a new way to promote lead magnets because they are, apparently, irresistible!  Do let me know if you manage to resist it!

Check back to this page over the next few weeks as I shall update as and when there is new information.


How Telling Stories Supports Your Business

Everyone seems to be telling stories these days.  Stories are a fantastic way to market your business.  A good story told well makes a big difference.  There is a lot you can do to shape your story, to get your message over.

I am leading a lunch and learn meeting about business story telling, starting next month.  If you are in the Sheffield area and can get along to The Rude Shipyatd, 89 Abbeydale Road at 12.15 on 2nd and 4th Thursdays, you can join a dynamic group of story tellers and business owners.

One thing I shall do is explore how we use stories in all aspects of businesses.  Here are five approaches to business story telling.

Your Personal Story

If someone visits your website or hears you speak, they don’t really know you as a person.  So, telling a story that speaks about your values, what really matters to you, is an effective way to become known.  A powerful personal story speaks on many levels and can help you find people who belong to your tribe.

This is perhaps the most common way business-owners apply story to their business.  A problem for some is they have no big story to tell.  In truth though, everyone has not one but many stories.  The challenge is to find a good story and make it compelling.

These stories work really well at step 4 of the awareness ladder, where your prospects seek more information about you.

Case Studies

Case studies are stories that draw on the experiences of your target audience.  They may be stories about your clients or people like your clients.  They may be accounts of their work with you as a coach or stories about problems they face.  Sometimes case studies can lead to questions: what would you have done under these circumstances?

The purpose of case studies is to show you understand and can solve your clients’ problems.  They can be used between steps 3 and 4 of the awareness ladder.  Testimonials may be a source in your clients’ own words or you can write a case study with your client.  They can also be effective at step 2, where you need to show there are solutions to the problems your audience experiences.

Business Origin Story

This is a story about the origin of a product or service.  You may be at the centre of the story and can show how you observed, identified a problem and developed a solution.

These are step 3 stories, where you show how your offer differs from other people’s’.


Many businesses have a cause, where they not only deliver a product or service but use it to change their wider community.  This may be a story about a neighbourhood or some issue you know your audience cares about.

This may be a step 1 story, a story that establishes a problem exists.

Your Marketing Plan

If your marketing plan is a story, everything you do is part of that single coherent story.  The story needs to be in all aspects of your business, its design, website, logo, advertising, packaging.  Everything points to the central story that makes your business stand out.

The aim is to build a business that stands out in people’s’ minds, so that they remember you and can find you again.


Telling stories and so making business can be a challenge, if you are to present a coherent narrative to the world.  We can all benefit from spending time together, working on our stories and as we explore each of these types, build a lively approach to business story telling.

So, please let me know if you can think of other story types businesses can use.  And if you can, come along to “Telling Stories: Making Business” and join in the debate!

After the Summer Break …

I’m taking a summer break for the month of August and will return on Monday 5 September.

However, if I can get the plug-in working to my satisfaction, I hope to recycle some old posts over this period.  These will go out on social media but it’s possible they will not appear in weekly round-up emails.  If you find them, feel free to comment on these posts, especially if you can spot anything dated in them.  As they appear I’ll make an effort to bring them up to date.

Website Improvements

As always I intend to use the quiet time to review and improve my website.  Most of it is becoming dated and it would be good to describe my consultancy business more effectively.

I don’t know how far I’ll get with this but I intend to complete some tidying, if not writing entirely new copy.

The other thing I want to do is showcase Thrive themes more effectively.  Their themes and plug-ins are constantly developing and I am aware my site hardly does them justice.  If you want to look at their offer, scroll down to the very bottom of any page and click on the link.  Remember, this is an affiliate link.

Future Blog Sequences

I’m fairly happy with my routine posts and so I shall continue with the MWF pattern, as follows:


I completed the third element of the Circuit Questionnaire, companion posts last Monday.  You can review the first two elements, on the Circuit Questionnaire page.  I shall add in the third element, Proposition, posts in the near future.

So, in September I shall start on the fourth element, Problem and then move on to the fifth and last element, Market.  There is about 30 weeks worth of material to go, so I haven’t given any thought to what follows afterwards.


This day is where I cover sequences apart from the Circuit Questionnaire.  Earlier this year I completed a long sequence about Spirituality and I have not yet completed the post summary on this page.

Since then I have completed a sequence about In-Person Techniques (the last one was two days ago) and I will prepare a page some time soon that summarises these posts.

I have two ideas for future Wednesday posts and haven’t decided which to publish first.

I want to write about self-employment and its contribution to the local economy.  In this sequence I shall explore work / life balance in various ways and the contributions self-employed people make to both work and life.

The second sequence I have in mind is the contribution marketing makes to community development.  Businesses don’t just contribute finance to local economies but perhaps we’re a little slow to appreciate all they do and could contribute.


I write my Friday posts during the week before and the idea is they can be more topical.  I sometimes use them to review books, resources or websites.  At other times I comment on some issue that has come to my attention.  I’m hoping to find time to review more material about co-production, for example.

This is your opportunity to suggest issues you would like me to write about.  Suggest a topic and if I haven’t already written about it, I’ll have a go (within reason).

Guest Posts

Just a quick reminder, I’m happy to write guest posts for other sites and welcome relevant guest posts on this site.  If you are an expert in a related area to my posts, please contact me and we’ll see what we can do together.

My First Keynote Talk

Here is the first ten minutes of my first keynote talk!  The rest of it has not been written yet and altogether it will last about 40 minutes, with options to do some group exercises.  This excerpt comes in just under 10 minutes.

I’m not going to explain what has gone into it but I would be interested to hear your reactions.  I have to watch it a few times and spot my mistakes as a part of my public speaking course.  So any feedback would be really helpful.

The rest of the talk will cover the four cornerstones of local marketing.  I shall illustrate them using a worked example.  Then there can be opportunities for the audience to work on their own business in the light of the content.  The final section will be a call to action, an opportunity to sign up for my community marketing conversation.


Comments on either the content or the structure and delivery of the talk would be really helpful.

Please note I occasionally walk off-camera to address the audience.  I mostly forgot about the camera!

See if you can spot the main sections of the talk.  These include the initial hook, how I establish my authority and then set up the main section of the talk.

My first ever presentation of the full keynote talk will be on 21 June, in a couple of weeks time.

How Referendums Threaten Democracy

Thriving local economies are a guarantee of democracy.  When there is enough money in circulation to enable people to participate in the economy, they can fully participate in politics.  Gimmicks that mimic democratic participation but limit the terms of debate are becoming more popular.  Governments may seem to be taking decisive action but gimmicks mask political accidie, spiritual and practical sloth.

The three referendums held in the UK since 2010 is evidence of our democratic deficit.  None more so than the current European referendum.

The purpose of business is not solely personal wealth but common good. A few months ago I reviewed Christian Felber’s book, Change Everything that describes a new international movement to build an economy for the common good.  Another Europe is Possible is a campaign for a united Europe around a radical alternative economic model.  These two resources show there are radical narratives, real alternatives to the European Referendum debate.  What follows is solely my view and not endorsed by these or any other campaigns.

The Alternative Vote

The first referendum of our brave new democratic era was the Alternative Vote referendum in 2011.  Unlike its predecessor, the 1975 European Referendum, this committed the government to a course of action, should the vote have gone in favour of change.  The earlier referendum was  consultative.  This change applies to all three recent referendums.

I’ve never been impressed by referendums.  If it is consultative, why hold it?  If not, why do we elect Members of Parliament, if not to debate the detail of these issues?  I prefer to vote for politicians with a programme.  I may not agree with every detail of their programme but it is important to have politicians who can be trusted to promote a programme.

The vote went against AV.  Observe what happened.  Whenever anyone raises proportional representation, they tell us we’ve already had our referendum on that topic.  This neatly glosses over the fact that AV is not a form of proportional representation.

There was no consensus about the options on offer in this referendum and just like all referendums, the government interprets the results.

The Scottish Referendum

This referendum did not offer an option favoured by most Scots.  They voted for the status quo and then at the General Election overwhelmingly voted for the pro-devolution SNP.

It seems the majority wanted to stay in the union but on some different basis.  What basis?  We don’t know because no-one has tried to find out.  This is the attitude of politicians who are not prepared to put in the spadework, to find out what people want before calling a referendum.

Felber’s model of three pillar democracy, suggests that it would have been better to hold a constitutional convention and then a referendum on the results.  Such a convention could cover the whole UK, considering not only Scotland’s governance but the other countries’ too.  Somehow England has been fobbed off with the Northern Powerhouse and is still not going to get its own national assembly.  (I’ve no idea whether this is what people want but they haven’t been asked and so how am I or anyone else supposed to know?)

Such a convention could look at all aspects of governance including proportional representation.  It would also have the big advantage of uniting the Union.  It always seemed odd they allowed Scotland a vote to introduce more democratic governance and the rest of us have never had the opportunity.

The European Referendum 2016

The same observation applies to the European Referendum.  Why not a Europe-wide convention followed by a Europe-wide referendum?  Look at what we have now:

The Brexit campaign seems to feature no two supporters who have the same model for what happens after a vote in their favour.  They have been so fixated on getting out, they have no plans for what happens when they do.  This is the Wile E Coyote approach to politics.  This character never looks where he’s going and periodically runs over the edge of a cliff, hangs in the air with his legs running, looks down and then falls.

If these so-called politicians are successful, the poverty of their vision will become apparent after the referendum.

Meanwhile we have the Remain campaign.  Is it any better?  The Prime Minister visited the leaders of European Governments and extracted a few concessions from them.  This was hardly a people’s convention!  Whether we like it or not, if we vote to remain, they will tell us we voted for the Prime Minister’s fix.  For those who vote remain because it is a marginally better option than the other, this is galling.

Loss of Sovereignty

The fact is this referendum does not have any bearing on the role of giant corporations, drawing finance out of national economies.  The idea that voting leave will make the corporations go away is ludicrous.  Neither will voting to remain.

If this debate is about national sovereignty, why most politicians ignore the last thirty years have seen an ongoing campaign to hand over sovereignty to unelected corporate elites?  This is not going to stop if we leave the EU or indeed if we stay.

I do not see how a decision between two options neither of which will make any difference to anything that matters, can be described in any way, shape or form as democratic.  Voting to remain perhaps keeps the door ajar for real change but Another Europe is going to face a long hard road, with the prevailing political consensus across Europe.  The same consensus will prevail if we leave although it is even harder to see how the UK alone will tackle loss of sovereignty to corporate power, more effectively than united European people.

Political Accidie

This unnecessary, divisive and reckless referendum was called to resolve party political issues by a party not prepared to do the spadework to find out what the people want.  They don’t want to do it, the opposition don’t want to do it and it seems other European leaders don’t want to do it.

Accidie is spiritual and mental sloth.  It means our politicians simply do not care about our future.  They do not trust the people and so three times in the last six years have offered us false choices.  The last two times, they batted back the politicians’ proposals as simply unacceptable.  Maybe this time the same will happen, which is better than joining Wile E Coyote at the foot of the cliff, I suppose.

The thing that worries me most is: what happens in the event of a victory for the leave campaign?  The chances are the politicians leading the Brexit campaign will lead the UK government.  They have shown a poverty of vision only comparable to their bombast when they claim to be radical.  These are not radicals.  They have no plan and no vision beyond an idealised image of Britain.  They can see there are problems in Europe and have leapt to a solution without understanding the problem.  If they want to be taken seriously as politicians, they should lead us – that’s what we elected them to do.

And the opposition?  It seems their internal divisions make them terrified to find out what the people want.  A broken and divided government requires an opposition with vision.  Would that we had one.  Since 2010, not one politician has come up with a programme that unites their party and appeals to a majority in the country.

Scenarios – No Thanks!

Hypothetically, what would happen if the vote went to leave and then at the next election (which could be sooner than we think) the opposition were to win?  Now we have a party in power, overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in Europe and mandated by referendum to leave.  What then?

Not possible?  It happened after the Scottish referendum.  OK if you think that’s far-fetched: what if the vote at the referendum is very close?  If that happens, it is possible for most politicians to find their constituents voted the opposite way!  A few huge majorities one way and lots of small majorities the other.  When the vote goes to parliament, do you vote with your constituents or the overall majority?

I do hope someone somewhere is thinking through these scenarios.  It is deeply troubling the government does not appear to have done so.

It is outrageous we are in a place where we have to decide between two sides of a political party who do not have one viable idea between them.  The one thing we can depend upon is the corporate élite will take advantage from either outcome.  The politicians will continue as they are, helpless in the path of the corporate juggernaut.

I can’t be the only person thinking along these lines.  What do you think?

Community Development Online Christmas Interlude

Community Development Online will take a short break after today and resume in three weeks time on Monday 11 January 2016.  I’m taking a break over a period when people are less likely to read blog posts!

This blog will accumulate into a reference resource and so you could take this opportunity to read past posts.  If you do, remember comments are always welcome, especially if you can suggest future topics.  It also helps to know what you find helpful.

You can explore the blog in two ways.  If you look under resources in the main navigation, you will find a series of cornerstone pages.  These list the blog posts in sequence, with brief introductions.  You can see what sequences are about and decide whether to read more detail.  These are almost up-to-date and I shall add recent posts during the break.

If you prefer a more usual blog, you can get access to it in the right hand column.  You can find recent posts using the calendar or explore the categories.  To help you navigate the blog, I have five main category headings:

  • Mutuality – covers all aspects of collaborative working and under this heading you will find posts about community development and co-operation.
  • Marketing – is about promotion of all things, commercial and non-commercial.  Usually marketers blog about products and services.  I have added causes to these offers.  But I also consider promotion of products and services by third sector organisations (and causes by businesses!)
  • Purpose – perhaps is best understood as how we deepen our understanding of what we offer and what we represent.  Many organisations struggle with expressing their purpose and this category suggests approaches such as consultancy and conversation that may help.
  • Technique – considers some of the technical challenges met by organisations working online.
  • Miscellaneous – covers everything else that doesn’t fit the other four main categories.

So, what can you look forward to in Community Development Online, in the New Year?

On Mondays I shall continue my exploration of the circuit questionnaire.  This will become a resource for people using the questionnaire.  If you follow the link, you will find a summary page covering the posts so far.  This sequence will continue a while longer as I’m not halfway through yet.  I’ve completed the branding element of the questionnaire and I’ve made a lot of progress with Products, Services and Causes.  After that I shall cover the three remaining elements, Propositions, Problems and Markets.

On Wednesdays I shall continue with the sequence about spirituality.  I’m writing these posts with churches in mind but contain some themes that might be of interest to a wider audience.  In the New Year, I shall start a new theme within this sequence, exploring how we perceive communities.  This will be less theological and closer to my posts about community development.

On Fridays – I shall continue to offer a mixture of posts on a variety of topics.  This is where I publish reviews of books and websites.  It is also where I can respond to requests for posts on specific topics.

There is plenty of space for more material and as usual, time is a major constraint.  If you would like to write a relevant blog post or even a sequence, let me know.

I’m going to do some work on the website over the break in preparation for some new initiatives that are in the pipeline.  Keep reading and watching the website to find out more!

How to Build and Sustain Motivation

My father was a self-employed sheet metal worker for about 30 years between the 1950s and 80s.  He used to tell a story about something that happened to him, probably during the 70s.

A business contact invited him to fasten two pullies to their cellar head and use them to lower a massive boiler into the cellar.  He did his calculations and quoted them £300 for job.  They clearly weren’t expecting it to cost so much.  Do he said he’d tell them how to save some money.  “Look” he said, “why don’t you tell half a dozen of your men that they’ll get £10 extra in their pay packet if the boiler’s in the cellar by tomorrow morning.  If it isn’t give me a ring and I’ll go ahead, you’ll be no worse off.”

The next morning, my father received a phone call from his contact.  “You’re a miracle worker!  The boiler is in the cellar!  How did you know they could do it?”  This actually did my father’s business a lot of good because his contact told lots of his friends how brilliant my father was!

It seems there was a window opposite the cellar head and they put a beam across and used it to lower the boiler into the cellar.  This was a solution thought of by neither my father nor his contact.

Perhaps the extra £10 in the pay packet was an extrinsic incentive (I’m assuming you’ve watched the video) but I think this story does line up with Daniel Pink’s lecture.  The 6 men had autonomy.  No-one told them what to do.  (I suspect health and safety concerns would be an issue these days.)  Clearly they were practical men who enjoyed a challenge and the task was clear.  Even though £10 was worth more in those days I suspect the men enjoyed working out the solution to their problem.

At a recent training session, “How to build and sustain motivation in your career”, the leader, Lisa Read, a local coach, recommended the Daniel Pink video.  Lisa shared Daniel Pink’s three characteristics of intrinsic motivation; common experiences of many self-employed people and third sector volunteers.

  • Autonomy is the freedom to work where, when and how you choose.  It is the great attraction of being self-employed.
  • Mastery is knowing you have developed or created something valued by others.
  • Purpose having a clear sense of where your business or voluntary activity is going.

These three are valuable attributes anyone who is working creatively needs to meet.  They apply equally for online and in-person work.  The problem many people find working online is the technical aspects of the work tend to overpower the creative dimension.  Looking after your website becomes a chore and this is often because it is actually working against your organisation’s aims.

Coaching and non-directive consultancy are pretty much the same activity; they are branches of the same tree.  My consultancy service can help you get your organisation or business and your online presence working together to increase the effectiveness of your organisation and your personal satisfaction as maintaining your site ceases to be a chore.  Once you have mastered your site and have a clear purpose, you will have the autonomy to choose how you use it.

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