A Covid Farewell Posted on September 14th 2020 by Derek 

Posting our website blog, The Cruel C, early this year, none could have imagined how cruel that would be. Or that a corporate casualty of Covid-19 would be Focus for Change. 
Are we disappointed? You bet we are! No easy decision to close a company that over twenty-odd years supported countless delegates successfully through life-change, in career or retirement planning. Surviving the bank crisis, age-related legislation, competition from others unable to offer the holistic interaction of which our company is proud, we sadly follow the fate of many small businesses in these difficult days. 
With the arrival of the pandemic we at F4C and our team of Associates agreed nothing in the world of work could quite be the same. Confident we could adjust to new training methods, clients among the universities, local authorities, emergency services, the private and public sector, still have requirement. 
But sharing uncertainty and reluctant to test budgets or reinstate programmes postponed, none were able to commit to dates in the foreseeable future. 
Consequentially, we felt it impossible to further carry the operating overheads without firm bookings on the calendar. 
So it’s farewell to relationships established and valued and hope the niche we leave in the market will be filled to service the rich and varied client-list we are so reluctant to leave. 

The Cruel C Posted on May 18th 2020 by Derek 

Enough of graphs. Enough of figures. Enough of targets. Consider instead the outcome for when this deadly new Big C has been eliminated. Or when we have learned to live more comfortably and safely under its threat. 
Emergency support from government sources, as yet uncertain, flows daily in the battle to preserve jobs and sustain business of description. A desperate measure to minimise the threat of an industrial depression, reverse recession and restore the economy. 
It is certain this coronavirus crisis will leave the United Kingdom in poor shape. Perhaps as shattered financially as that left by Hitler’s bombs in World War II. That victory, so recently recalled by the nation, is calling on the same grit and perseverance to beat the pandemic. 
Traditional means then engaged in the struggle to restore the country as a major and respected player on the world stage took more than a generation to succeed. 
This time the tools are different. 
And unlike 1940, Britain is not alone. With others, we emerge with tentative steps to begin the rebuilding process. 
Science and technology, ever developing, promise exciting prospects of renewal. The re-shaping of businesses methods, previewed daily in the Covid-19 crisis, will continue and will accelerate. 
Failing companies in many sectors will be renewed by optimistic entrepreneurs anxious to test new ideas and introduce innovative ways of working. 
Hard-hit Individuals, their jobs and livelihood destroyed in combat with the silent killer will need to find work. Many will need to retrain, others will be looking to companies such as Focus for Change for advice and support as they re-examine their lifestyle, post-crisis, options. 
Welcome to the new world! Skill, courage and determination in the weeks and months ahead will ensure it really is a brave one! 

Life’s a Bitch – Get over it! Posted on Febuary18th 2020 by Derek 

Thank heaven that’s over! 
Brexiteers and Remainers – even Remoaners – cast into the smelting-pot of politics past. 
If only the natural-born moaners could as easily be disposed of! 
Too much to do, too difficult a task, not enough time – they’ll always find something to grumble about, and someone, however reluctant, Eeyore-like on whom to latch their woes. 
People who study these things have to admit that low-level defeatism is part of British life. After all as the old lady used to say, ‘It’s bein’ so miserable as keeps as keeps us goin’’. 
Not the best attitude anywhere and certainly not to be welcomed in the workplace where managers should be making a priority of maintaining the team spirit to ensure efficiency and productivity. 
We might not now be as closely attached to our European neighbours as we recently were, but Brits cannot claim a monopoly on negativism. 
Up-tight Germans, too. are reputed to be proper bellyachers, to the extent that one enlightened employer has introduced a “two moans and you’re out” policy in her workforce. 
French experience confirms that your problem stays with you when the assistance of a fonctionnaire is required. The public service, in particular, generally delivers, but usually with inborn bad grace. 
Maybe it would be uncharitable to accuse others of a fault which, if we were really honest, lies within all of us. Moaning and groaning might be irritating but there’s no doubting that, within reason it provides a useful escape-valve that can release and dispel deeper resentment. 
Almost as irritating is the reverse side of the coin, the colleague for ever cheerful with an undefeated sunny disposition, making light of challenge and seemingly careless of outcome. 
Complaint and cheerfulness in good measure should surely be our aim to maintain morale, to ensure wellness and a balanced mental outlook. 
Because, let’s face it, life can be a bitch! 

Watch Your Language! Posted on December 6th 2019 by Derek 

A survey – one of those fact-filled, numbers-blinding documents concocted to offer proof of something instinctively recognised - finds the workplace is becoming an increasingly sweary environment. 
What’s more, the social scientist responsible for running these figures suggests that might not be such a bad thing. Releases stress, that kind of reasoning. 
On the basis that so many surveys are bunk, this one is bunk-plus. 
There’s no doubt the language that stems from the street gets to us from all angles. Anglo-saxon cursing has been augmented - and by many other words and phrases from even less genteel cultures improved upon by our right-on entertainment industry - with arrogant, gleeful abandon. 
Potty-mouthed expletive can even be regarded as a friendly greeting, the number-cruncher of this survey notes, sagely. 
Rather than valuable scholarship such research surely only encourages toleration of the worst offenders to extend the area of casual abuse. 
We wince daily over searing headlines outlining brutality in the home and in the street. Polite society, what there is of it, rightly calls out those responsible and demands aid for damaged victims. 
So it’s curious verbal abuse is more than tolerated. Can in fact be OK, in the workplace. 
But there’s no room in the working environment for the aggressive patois of the playground. 
So let’s not wait for New Year, here’s a more seasonal resolution we can make right now! 
Let’s resolve to kick out bad language at work. At home and at play – you know it’s bad for us. 
And wish each other a very Happy Christmas. 

March on! Posted on October 1st 2019 by Derek 

Four-day week? Another marching day! Another burden on company costs. 
An offer by campaigners hard to refuse, a day off mirrors the practice a neighbouring nation juggles schedules to implement. Consider the benefits a 32-hour working week affords that economy. 
As the French might say, En Marche towards … 
Excitement explodes into street theatre as the hands of the Brexit clock creep towards the midnight deadline that might yet offer a whole new dawn - if the law of the land, serially under stress, is enacted. 
Weekends are carnival in the streets of town and city as the socially aligned, alerted by smart phones, gather to support/protest as the mood of the moment dictates. Prompted by media feeding-frenzy, the parade straggles under explanatory, often outrageous, slogans. 
Some plead for tolerance towards the socially uncomfortable, defiantly out of step with the natural order. 
Characteristically impatient to join unregulated fun are the new kids on the block, quitting Friday lessons, eagerly supported by right-on teachers and woke parents voicing mankind’s oldest-ever warning – the end is nigh. 
The fact that aping the worst examples of their elders and enjoying freedom from boring routine and lessons might be beside the point. 
So how would we best spend the extra day, ours should the electorate have the opportunity to welcome it? Not everyone is inclined to carry a banner. 
Leisure after all involves consuming energy, even if only driving to the gym. 
Just joining the march means taking the car, hopping a train or jumping a bus; even tapping the app tends to boost the carbon count. 
Committed to reality and building on long experience of the art of the possible, business steers a careful path through seven days’ world of work, taking the steps necessary to avoid the worst excesses of idealism. 
The marchers are free to march on .. 
… just so long as the wheels of the economy keep turning. 

Flexible Friends Posted on June 20th 2019 by Derek 

Happy in your work? It’s important for your wellbeing! Now more than at any time in the past we are anxious to achieve a healthy balance to our daily lives. 
At one time turning up daily at the workplace, getting on with the task in hand, returning home in the evening, ready to repeat the exercise tomorrow was what was expected. 
A fair week’s wage, a weekend at leisure and a reasonable annual break for holidays that was the working life. 
Today mechanisation renders robotics a reality and remove much of the drudgery from labour, so there is greater opportunity and necessity to improve the conditions which once ruled the workforce. 
Among the most welcome changes has been the move to flexibility. Remote working, for a scheduled number of hours, can turn the home into the office. There projects can be completed, often shared with others similarly once chained to the routine of the employer’s desk. 
Benefits are as frequently cited as its advantages. 
Tackling the daily commute, enduring the frustrations of weather and transport disruption can be a maddening career of its own. 
But encouraged by thoughtful employers, if not a requirement, flexible working imposes a degree of discipline. The atmosphere of a familiar, comfortable home is very different to that of traditional work-structures. An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay demands time taken out for other purposes needs to be made up. 
But the frustration of contacts and customers who unhelpfully learn the person they wish to speak to is working from home ought not to be dismissed. 
Folks have learned to live with their mobile; there really is no place to hide for the conscientious flexible worker. 
It’s when work gets on the nerves that the time comes to consider the effect on mental health and take steps to regain and maintain that vital work-life balance. 
And be happy! 

We don’t talk anymore Posted on May 10th 2019 by Derek 

Vote for this! Vote for that! The megaphone demands become ever more strident. 
What do you vote for? 
In olden times, - that’s before Brexit – we pledged allegiance (sort-of) to the political flag that more or less represented our opinions. And we hoped the cross-in-the- box would achieve a fairly satisfactory outcome. 
Not anymore. 
The British political scene has suddenly become a many-shaded thing, offering a bit of this and a bit of that under banners of baffling hue. There’s evidence to suspect a few fugitives from familiar tribes are unsure of what they really, really want! 
Exactly reflecting a baffled society. Uncertain of its sexuality, its gender, even its aims in life. 
Outrageous in Twitter’s anonymous insults; in fear of saying the wrong thing face to face, a people once fiercely proud of speaking freely unafraid, now carefully mind p’s and q’s. Our very thoughts savagely policed. 
It was ironic Sir Cliff Richard, a victim of our times, once made a hit singing “It’s so funny, we don’t talk anymore” 
Playing safe, keeping problems to ourselves is bad for our health – physical as well as mental. We’re reluctant to let down our guard in seeking advice wary about to whom to turn with confidence. 
The workplace can be an arena of conflict without trust in colleagues but when necessary those difficult conversations https://www.focus4change.co.uk/about-us/difficult-conversations/ can free dispute or misunderstanding. 
Jaw-jaw will always be better than war-war. 

The space race is on again. Posted on April 1st 2019 by Derek 

Big players in it this time: the Chinese. They’ve already planted their flag on the Moon. The dark side, of course. 
They say in space, nobody hears you scream. But here, on our planet, we earthlings have long since given up the chase for our own personal space. We’ve traded silence for uninterrupted noise, allowing no time for us to think. 
And that’s bad for our wellbeing. 
Because we’ve chosen clamour, we leave ourselves no space to think. 
Our world ceaselessly demands attention – buy this, consider that, beware of malign influences. 
And there’s the catch. Tuned in to non-stop musak, dedicated to our phones and ipods, in order to fill the void, there’s no fear of hearing something disturbing. 
Responding to bright colours, blaring musical instruments, foghorn persuaders and marketing jingles, our increasingly infantilised society is too afraid to think for itself. Too comfortable in its bubble, dangerously content to let others speak for us. Choose for us. Think for us. 
Is it any wonder that mental health has become a major concern? 
Robotics are fascinating machines, put to all kinds of uses. Fantasy warns it would not take too much clever programming to render the servant robot the master. 
The dehumanising noise with which we fill our quiet spaces deprives us of the will as well as the space to think as we scramble to grasp the next indulgence. 
Listless people wrapped up in their individual worlds suggest they’ve already forgotten how to think. Mental illness can surely be a symptom of empty lives. Of brains no longer functioning beyond animal instinct and survival. 
Let’s welcome silence. Time to contemplate, if not to meditate on what life really means, what really rewards. https://www.focus4change.co.uk/about-us/wellbeing-resilience/. 
Because the old rule applies: Use it or lose it! 

English – As She is Spoke! Posted on March 11th 2019 by Derek 

But everyone speaks English, don’t they? On radio and TV people from countries you never heard of speak beautiful English. Better than …!! 
It seems a given that the citizens of this tight little island find embracing the language of other, less fortunate folk, difficult. And millennials particularly are discouraged to do so by educationists anxious to reduce rigour in the learning process. To concentrate on other subjects “less hard.” 
For a nation which built an empire from trade Britain has, in short order lost it, still banking on fixing deals with other countries. Dealing and discussion demands flexibility and Inability to grasp the finer points can be a serious handicap. 
Business knows agreements stand or fall in the small-print; the details. Lawyers make fortunes ensuring any nuances involved are clearly understood - subsequently arguing before tribunals over salient points insufficiently grasped by one or other parties. 
So while negotiating with different cultures the shared language might be reassuringly familiar. The mindset – probably not. 
To learn a language is to absorb at the same time a measure of its culture. To be proficient in the language of the individual with whom one negotiates not only assures confidence in meeting on equal terms but can give pause to the other party seeking unfair advantage in the transaction. 
Language ability is only one aspect of the flexibility increasingly demanded of staff at every level. Because a subject is acknowledged as “hard” is no excuse to exclude it from the portfolio of tools necessary to meet the competitive world. Without the facility our negotiators are ill-equipped to succeed. 
Brexit – or no Brexit! 

Keep calm – stay well! Posted on February 14th 2019 by Derek 

Looks like 2019 could be remembered as the year of mental illness. Suffering, worrying, or just chattering, this surely is the talkabout topic of our #Me-too generation. In workplace and studio, debating chamber and bus-queue, anxiety weaves a toxic web around these disturbing thoughts for today. 
Mental disturbance breeds on the uncertainty of our times. How will Brexit pan out? Does my gender feel-good in this? Ice is melting; floods are coming; insects are dying! 
Life is tough. Someone’s taking his parents to court accused of giving him birth without his permission! Maybe he has a point? 
Of one thing we can be certain. We live in uncertain times. 
But let’s calm down! Embrace resilience! https://www.focus4change.co.uk/about-us/resilience/ Nobody, no team, can work efficiently while phantasmagorical problems lurk the other side of the door. 
Common sense reliably brings balance to threats real – or imagined. Scaremongering from whatever stripe mustn’t be allowed to split that stiff upper-lip that resists genuine fears and anxieties. A healthy mind dismisses the fanciful. 
It’s too easy to shelter fed-upness, weariness and disappointment under the warm blanket that hijacks the mental health label in a plea for sympathy that corrupts response to genuine distress. 
Keep calm and carry on! The way to wellness can be only a matter of attitude. 

2019? Be Resolute! Posted on January 16th 2019 by Derek 

The tree’s shredded, the trimmings stuffed away with the hope they’ll survive for another year. Time to sit back and review! Will there be a job in 2020? 
Or, cruising to the conclusion of a career, will I need a job? 
Some may pretend to follow New Year resolutions, like the old days. That was then, and who can remember before Brexit? 
But to dismiss the uncertainties of 2019 may not be the best advice. Especially if retirement is on the cards. 
Preparation is crucial for what’s recognised, as not so much retirement but the more positive third phase of life. Apart from financial implications attached to such a major life-change, is the concern about how best to spend years of freedom from the demands of the work ethic. 
Some are able to find rewards of many forms in some activity of service only dreamed about before. Others follow ambitions in the huge range of opportunities to be discovered in the third phase planning essential to making the most out of this change which affects the whole family. 
Change comes with its own challenges. 
F4C https://www.focus4change.co.uk/retirement/retirement-hr/ continue to support individuals and corporate clients from every walk of life into this exciting phase, with a common-sense, interactive, holistic review, transforming apprehension into expectation. Worthwhile making a New Year resolution to take a look? 

Boys will be ..? Posted on December 5th 2018 by Derek 

If we need to be certain about one thing, it’s about who we are! The current craze, madly seized upon by gullible politicians in their impossible bid to be loved by everyone – anyone – and in desperate exercise in equality, makes it OK to decide it might be fun to change gender. 
Boys will be girls and vice-versa. 
Since all men are accused of unspeakable crimes against women, it’s hard to see the benefit of shifting sides in the ongoing war of the sexes. And since, famously, a woman’s work is never done, there doesn’t appear to be much sense in increasing the burden life throws our way. 
As for invading the hitherto safe spaces when nature calls, it’s frequently the case that ladies invade the gents when urgent necessity renders waiting in line for a designated water-closet becomes desperate. 
Actor Maureen Lipman recalls turning by mistake through the wrong door to see a line a silent men in macs facing the wall as though waiting to be shot.. 
Excitement about over this trans business poses, in the harsh light of reality, many unpleasant questions. 
Though self-designated a woman, does a man still carry in later life the dread prospect of bulging prostate? Does a woman, jealous of a man’s stubbly chin, dispense at a whim with those sotto voce “women’s problems”? 
The workplace promises to be a particularly fraught battleground when shovel-wielding Fred becomes Freda. And the mate with whom you’ve been sharing office banter suddenly rebuffs a remark you’ve playfully contributed to the conversation as unacceptably sexist. 
Maybe the best policy, these troubled times. Is to maintain the respect due to everyone, no matter for whose side they bat. 
Either way, Santa Claus might be advised to leave unisex toys this Christmas! 

Mind How You Go! … Posted on October 24th 2018 by Derek 

Winter’s on its way – watch how you tread! 
More than a hundred thousand taxpayers have been right-royally taken to the cleaners. 
They are expected to cough up a quarter of a million pounds because a council employee slipped on the ice. 
In the city’s ice-rink. 
The council is Hull, found to fall foul of Health and Safety regulations by the crown court that sits in that fair city. 
The report on which this information is based, does not fully explain how the luckless ice-worker exactly came by the broken bones and serious head injuries he somehow sustained. But it apparently occurred while marking out the pitch for the next ice-hockey encounter. 
The judgement seems to resolve itself into the lesson that in future people detailed to work on ice should be supplied with non-slip shoes . 
Cold comfort, presumably for the boss who underestimated the risk. And a chilling reminder that in many aspects of work we tread daily on thin ice. Often without benefit of non-slip footwear. Or its equivalent. 
Communication is vital in H&S and wellbeing issues should be openly discussed in team meetings and at appraisals. 
How we are doing in the workplace reflects on how the organisation we work with is following the code. Managers entrusted with this task recognise its importance in wellbeing and staff retention. 
That’s why F4C strongly features an interactive workshop on Appraisals among its portfolio of Management Matters https://www.focus4change.co.uk/workshops/half-day-workshops/ 

Me! Me! Is Missing Something … Posted on July 23rd 2018 by Derek 

Go away – I’m listening! 
Or studying my messages. Or checking my pictures. Or catching up with my game. 
Hand-held, ear-phoned, the young and the not-so-young are engaged with technology – while disengaging with reality. 
It becomes quite a challenge... 
Young mums, sometimes two-abreast and mobiles to ear, navigate pushchairs walking and talking among equally unresponsive crowds, ignoring the plaintive cries of their neglected tots. 
Not surprising our society is so angry. So discourteous. 
Politeness was once regarded, rightly or wrongly, as a national characteristic. Brits abroad – football hooligans excepted – still are recognised by the please and thank-yous employed when dealing with foreigners who find such pleasantries entirely irrelevant. 
The gift of an example of good manners cost nothing; it pleases those who recognise it and value it while it lubricates the wheels of civilised living. What’s more, clear and concise communication between staff and clients is key to efficient and effective business. 
We blame the pace of living as an excuse for careless lack of courtesy. Too busy, too concerned within our bubble to respond with any but near-bestial acknowledgement. 
The manners of the playground cascade into the streets. Disregard for personal space, acute suspicion of a misunderstood glance, an accidental contact consistently degrades relationships. 
Self-sufficiency sounds fine to a Me, Me, generation. Put another way, trusting no-one makes for a lonely life. 
At work we tread on eggshells. The bully of the office and the factory floor is rightly, like the sex pest, named and shamed. Lately the law has embraced insensitivity. Hurt feelings can escalate to hate-crime. 
So what happened to innocent fun of the workplace? 
Young people polishing degrees and diplomas will have learned to be wary of any supposed slur or criticism. They’ll have become accustomed to defending aggressively what they regard as an attack on their personal territory. 
On the shoulders of those welcoming new colleagues to the world of work falls the responsibility of teaching not only skills for the job but the comradeship of humanity. Sense and sensibility. 
That’s what creates that state of wellbeing so many seek – but all too many find elusive. 
So look up from your mobile – and smile! 

The Rich get Rich … Posted on May 15th 2018 by Derek 

It must be quite a challenge when you’re in your 20s, saddled with an ever-increasing fortune, Spare a thought,then,for the responsibility piled on the likes of country boy favourite Ed Sheeran and street-wise Adele, both top of the Sunday Times under-thirties rich list. 
Surely blunt-speaking Adele, already with a reported £140m in the bank, will have long ago adopted advice on how to cope; Ed, already worth £80m, is’ even now planning to bring up a family in the countryside he loves. And there’s no doubt charities benefit from their star performances Neither of those though, or the young celebrities - whose riches must, ironically, be boosted in part from sales to fans forced to resort to food-banks - are likely to be concerned about provision for life in their far-distant declining years. 
Yet it’s never too late for any of us, at whatever age, to recognise the importance of planning for what might be a very different time of life – the third phase, when the chosen career, celebrity or nine-to-five toiler, has come to an end. 
Financial provision is important. Equally crucial is the planning that equips a successful transition to that inevitable change with the knowledge of new and exciting opportunities. 
The third phase - what we once labelled retirement – is the agenda you set yourself. A prospect to enjoy, not fear. 
Health permitting there are new horizons to explore, rewarding challenges to meet – or perhaps use the skills of a lifetime to either continue to earn, maybe as consultants or give something back to the community. 
The 25 years and more in which F4C has been conducting holistic pre-retirement workshops helping hundreds prepare for a fulfilling later life has seen changes in the law that made the traditional age-limit of 65 itself redundant. It brought greater freedom to plan. 
F4C continues to win praise as it continues its series of acclaimed one-day inter-active workshops with public and corporate clients in-house,as well as open seminars in the City of London. 

In Business we Trust! Posted on March 30th 2018 by Derek 

What is truth? The question echoes across millennia as power plays mind-games. 
Familiar from the Easter story, cynical Pontius Pilate seems not to place much store on any response. In an age of instant information, truth is weaponised by those who don’t hesitate at corrupting it to serve special ends. 
Big lies are easy to distinguish around the poisonings in Salisbury. Ludicrous explanations fed from the guilty party are swiftly discounted. Beware of the small but fanciful army of conspiracy theorists spinning doubts. 
People have always told porkies to win their own way or to influence others. Politicians of every stripe make a career from massaging facts to fit an agenda. Lies become an essential part of war; the bad guys use propaganda; good retaliate with disinformation. How else was the D-Day landing successful? 
Winston Churchill’s ‘terminological inexactitude’ rendered a lie into a more polite misreport. 
Conflicting, untested claims and counterclaims of the Brexit referendum campaign established confusion, highlighting the desperation of both sides of the argument. As well as the arrogance of the proponents. The unravelling saga of Cambridge Analytica and associates muddies another pool. 
It’s the half-truths, the smoke and mirrors deployed for whatever end – sometimes sinister – that breed destabilisation. Starved of facts, we must select how much retailed by the persuaders we dare to believe, based on what we believe we believe. 
In a society where it increasingly hard to find, trust remains the engine of business. Of necessity deals cannot be done without it, economies could not survive. 
Truth is a fragile flower. Despite all the prevarication, deception employed by opposing partners in the Brexit business negotiations will one way or another be resolved by mutual trust. 

Happy in your work? Posted on March 7th 2018 by Derek 

Going to work has always been . .. well, not so much fun, as rewarding. 
It’s seldom been fearful. 
Now the workplace can be a minefield. What you say and how you say it; how you look and might appear to be regarding a colleague – take care. It may be branded “inappropriate”. 
Nervousness feeding into the most routine of tasks suggests it’s not getting any easier. 
Friendly banter has hitherto been a welcome element of the day, a little light let into the serious business of delivering the goods, good team members pulling our weight. 
Nastiness and spite has always been discouraged. So has bullying and those unwanted sexual approaches. 
Even as society has become more diversified, good-natured joshing has been a feature which, in its way, has served to strengthen comradeship. We’ve been adult enough, sensitive enough to stop and bite the lip when conversations strayed toward the uncomfortable. Even difficult conversations that must inevitably take place now and again are conducted along acknowledged guidelines . 
But the culture of victimhood is destroying harmonious work relationships; it breeds suspicion and anxiety. Young people coming fresh from university and college into the workplace are as likely to be sensitively aware of wide social issues savaged by activists as they are the work ethic expected of them . 
Older workers with experience of more relaxed relationships can with care pass on to nervous newcomers something of the resilience and confidence required to cope with the real world and the job in hand. 
If only to prove the febrile anxiety status and insecurity promoted by the virtual community is without foundation. 
And to advise that over -indulgence in the twittersphere can be a barrier to a productive and enjoyable career. 

No Resilience in Resolving Posted on January 2nd 2018 by Derek 

Made your New Year’s Resolution? Is this a New You? 
Or do you feel all this is all somewhat dated, chatter for the media – always behind the times when it comes to nostalgia. No surprise there, then! 
Pundits, with not much new to pontificate upon are better programmed to speculate – they admit uselessly – on the next twelve months, as though the year is a playbox tied with pink ribbon newly opened, here separated from the tired and dispiriting 2017. It’s a game. They get it wrong past and future. Some can’t quite come to terms with the present! 
Year by new year we are scolded for eating the wrong foods, drinking too much, creating planet-polluting waste. Some are accused of living too long, pressurising A&E and blocking hospital beds. The resentful young are warned they must wait until their sixties when for them the good times will roll. 
Well blow that, say those of a certain age! 
Those who grew up during years of real austerity. 
Food rationed, families in real poverty, treats when available, rare. They looked back to generations enjoying even less; learned from them what was worth saving what aims worth aspiring to. Not then encouraged to live beyond their means as are still their children and their children’s children. 
Pensioners take it hard that the fruit of sacrifices they made in their youth should be gobbled up thoughtlessly; without effort. 
Every year every day brings its challenge. If it’s a new job, a new life-phase, let’s secure the training to make us best-equipped to make this one a happy and a fulfilling New Year. 

Painful Post Posted on December 6th 2017 by Derek 

Pity the poor Postie! 
Particularly at this time of year! Anyone who has had to deliver letters and leaflets through today’s designer letterboxes will instantly recognise the problem. 
In fact there are some portals so strongly defended, defying the defecation of junk and bills through precious slots, it’s amazing they receive any mail at all. 
Manufacturers of gracious doors have not forgotten gracious furniture to go with the shiny knockers and burnished keyholes. Some letterboxes require engineering skills to prize them open, so efficient is the spring that keeps them securely closed against strangers and the cold. 
The weather gets progressively more wintry, the streets more hazardous and the knuckles split as the postman dutifully and painfully ensures the correspondence is safely steered through stout draft-defences to ensure safe deposit on the correct doormat. 
The casual leaflet-dropper, reminding and informing everyone of the eastern promise of the newest Chinese, Indian, and Balinese takeaway; the popular pizzeria, merely stuffs the brightly-coloured offering into a gap without grappling with the spring designed to keep out his unwelcome communications. 
They disregard the golden rule set down to be followed by every paper-boy and girl from their first frosty delivery: i.e. to ensure nothing protrudes outside the letter-box. 
Ignore that instruction is to suggest to the casual criminal passer-by that perhaps there’s nobody at home. 
Happy Christmas to all our F4C readers. The card is in the post! 

Stranger Danger! Posted on November 14th 2017 by Derek 

Sex in the workplace has never provoked such feeding frenzy. Everybody, it seems, whoever, had an unwanted approach, heard a wolf-whistle or suspected being casually brushed by a passing hand recalls the assault, in techniciolour, as a paid-up member of the Victims’ Club. Anyone can join. Men, women, girls, boys – it’s a perilous world out here. 
Stranger Danger! 
Over-protective childhood renders the young less resilient than their mothers in dealing with sex pests. Men and women really are different. It’s surely unreasonable to imagine women wish to be attractive to their female colleagues alone. Males in competition with each other are of the narcissistic persuasion 
Predators in positions of power are rightly condemned. Cowardly attacks under threat or promise are crimes. Alcohol plus laddish bravado creates unsafe spaces for everyone. But overheated outrage at the merest casual remark, suggestion or unwelcome perhaps accidental and misinterpreted contact threatens the harmony of the workplace. 
Men will be men – and militant feminists demanding equality to be regarded ‘one of the boys’, no longer welcome male protection. It’s a tragedy that what’s sacrificed in the process is the respect that is their due and the self-respect of the offender. 
Business efficiency suffers in the working environment when men must be constantly concerned in avoiding words or actions that might inadvertently upset the sensitivities of female colleagues.“Inappropriate behaviour “in word and deed marks a further curb to free speech in the continuing battle of sexual politics. 

Upskill for Tomorrow Posted on October 23rd 2017 by Derek 

It’s never too late to learn. Tirelessly repeated, but a mantra too frequently rejected in the comfort of the working day. 
As the employment model continues to change from occupation-for-life to short-term contracts, experience gained in earlier jobs requires adjustment at best. 
Far-sighted managers recognise their responsibility in maintaining a workforce fit for purpose. Training in today’s changing technology-driven climate has never been more important. 
Past decades have witnessed the demise of whole swathes of occupations that took years to master. Now hardly an aspect of life remains untouched by technology. The relentless speed of IT development brings its own specialised form of lifelong learning headlong into workshop and office, surgery and ward. 
Careers blighted by progress should never be written off. Experience and transferable skills provide a strong platform on which to train these casualties of progress eager for new and emerging opportunities. 
And difficulties of staff retention emphasise the fact we cannot afford to lose those with proven value by neglecting to build on their core skills to overcome new employment challenges. 
It’s vital to upskill today to be ready for tomorrow. 

Shaft thy Neighbour Posted on August 4th 2017 by Derek 

All that business about an Englishman’s home .. 
Turns out it’s not his or her castle after all. Somebody else is probably proud owner of the ground it’s built on. 
To be secure behind your own front door it seems you need to own the freehold to enjoy the security everyone buys into when they sign on dotted line and arrange the life-long mortgage commitment. 
Trouble is freeholds are market commodities. They can change hands. And while the house or flat may have attached a lease that suggests a lifetime or more the owner or tenant might find the ground agreement can move under their feet if a shadowy new owner of the freehold decides to increase the cost. And they surely will – there’s little point in acquiring it unless they own the property. 
One of the major problems facing Britain is the lack of housing where supply has yet to go far to meet demand. Yet our laws make it simple for cynical sharp-suited predators working the system to make a killing in trading and enhancing freeholds. Resulting in heavier burden on householders anxious to make ends meet. 
Years ago business was far more supportive of the aspirations of the community than it is today. Building societies and banks were about making house ownership possible for as many as could afford the regular payments. 
Something then happened to the culture. Benign assistance to self-help and doing the right thing developed into sharp practice and a help yourself syndrome that trapped the unwary and the vulnerable to personal profit. Respected institutions fail standards of probity they once enjoyed; individuals fall short of the confidence in which they were held. 
‘Customer care’ has in too many cases been reduced to three or four lines at the foot of the agreement. Search help? “Read the small print!” 
Is it too much to hope that in the struggle to survive harsh financial pressures business will refrain from feeding on itself and return to the standards of fairness and morality for which it was once world-renowned? 

Thinking for Ourselves Posted on July 6th 2017 by Derek 

There’s an awful lot about leadership these challenging days. And precious few candidates brave and acceptable to grasp the role. 
It’s no denying there’s a lot to be concerned about. Twists and turns of politics, terrorism, and the ins and outs of Brexit – as Shakespeare almost said our troubles come not alone but in battalions. 
Day by day, night by night revelation at home and abroad, explanation, speculation, confrontation all are laid out in the rolling news that is the gift and the curse of technology. Reported by faces instantly identified as bringers of bad news. 
It is no surprise the burden of the stories they tell of tragedy and outrage, duplicity and ineptitude, is coloured by the voice, the emphasis and choice of words; correspondents, commentators are human, too. Watching, trying to comprehend each fresh new problem, along with some analyst’s seldom uncompromised reading of what’s going on, it’s often easy to be almost overcome by guilt if we do not respond to the same emotional degree. 
There is demonstrably a danger in allowing others, often offering as much speculation as fact, to allow our reactions to be engineered, leading our thoughts in this way. 
Like actors in the theatre, they are telling us what to think. 
Just when we need clear-headed, unvarnished news reports, those on whom we rely to relay the truth, however horrifying, without emotion, without making themselves a part of the story appear to be few on the ground. 
Journalism further loses integrity when tragedians and drama queens – we’ve got to know the usual suspects since the nation was drawn into immoderate and vicarious grief for Diana – display fulsome empathy to an audience long susceptible to pre-packed information. 
But soft hearts subvert good judgement. In national life as in business, leadership demands hard-hearted, dispassionate evaluation of challenging situations to create outcomes that bring order and trust. 
The greater the trauma, the higher the emotional demands. Known in the trade as shroud-waving, tears make great television. 
But actors belong on the stage, not on the streets and not on our screens. 

The War of the Words Posted on June 2nd 2017 by Derek 

The people, as they say, speak at the ballot-box. But that’s not the end, not even an armistice of the War of the Words. 
Sure, the noise from the social medianites clutters cyberspace. But the movers and shakers ever aiming to bully the public, lean heavily on traditional broadcast media to peddle their fake news and half-truths. 
The touchy tournaments between desperate politicians and excitable journos trying to worm from them tomorrow’s regrettable headline, wield tried and trusty formulae as weapons of choice 
The inquisitor (on behalf of you and me, you understand) has surfed the archive for the political iceberg, while their quarry turns on some deceptively simple figures of speech to steer clear: 
“The truth is …” suggests the listener is about to hear the facts. They’ll be those that, currently, suit the speaker 
“Let’s be clear …” is a signal of upcoming obfuscation. Usually a ploy to reverse a failing policy 
“We all know …” if we don’t know, we’re out of the loop, deluded. Demands an instant reservation of judgement on the statement following 
“You’ll recall …” history about to be re-written. Something brought completely fresh to the party. 
The hand-book of political clichés is updated, if not enriched, daily. 
But when the smoke finally clears, the casualties shaken down and put back for the next bout, the public – having made its choice for better, for worse – returns to challenges of the real world. 
Just about managing - as usual. 
Because those shamelessly manipulating us with fears and promises , rely on us – Joe and Jane Public – to keep the wheels of the economy turning. 

Cabby’s Extra Mile Posted on May 4th 2017 by Derek 

Easy to forget that in today’s cynical society trust and service is still to be found in business.  
Co-operation and communication daily makes the world feel a better place than it might appear, thanks to those stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for others. 
Above and beyond the call of duty. 
Take this nightmare in Liverpool Street. A Black Cab driver dropped his fare and sped to another call, not to know until a new client later handed it to him the last passenger had left her life-supporting handbag. On a busy day the cabbie might have deposited it with lost property. Instead he contacted the anxious owner – already contemplating the steps necessary to securing identity and credit details – with a reassuring text and arranged its return by secured post. 
City taxi-drivers have much to cope with; competition, regulations, an uncertain environment and equally uncertain future. In the hope of rescuing the bag she missed within minutes the fearful owner found warm sympathy and advice among the amiable group of waiting drivers, demonstrating the traditional camaraderie of cabmen is far from dead, and generous towards the public finding themselves in need. 
An example of the co-operation vital in all aspects of business, where responsibility is not only recognised but exercised. In a world of increasingly complexity this incident demonstrates how in times of crisis we all rely on the kindness of friends. Like that driver in his Black Cab who not only safeguarded an item of value; he restored a life! 
“Just what we do,” he says. 

Out of Touch –Out of a Job Posted on April 4th 2017 by Derek 

The work was essential, but not urgent. Bob the builder’s website was impressive, his ballpark estimate was acceptable. What was more he was free to size up the job. We agreed a date, a couple of days ahead, and a time. Cometh the day, cometh the hour but not the man. 
His business landline answered, helpfully, with his mobile number. His mobile switched to voicemail. 
Bob himself was speechless. 
There could be any number of reasons why Bob missed our appointment. He could be held up on another job, so tricky he was for the duration incommunicado. 
He could be ill. Or had an accident. He might be fighting a fire to save his workshop. Either way, he lost the business to a competitor who turned up, completed the job and, more importantly, added a new customer to his database and a chance of positive referrals. The best laid schemes can go awry; had Bob responded within a reasonable time he would have saved his reputation. 
Neglect communication and the core business is in peril. 

Sparks Required. Now! Posted on March 2th 2017 by Derek 

As the car effortlessly winds itself into a space the experienced driver might reject, it’s no small flight of fancy to agree the robot could become tomorrow’s multi-tasker. 
As Poles, Czechs, Rumanians and Bulgarians say farewell to the taskmasters heading for home post-Brexit, they leave the way clear for technology to do the dirty work they were prepared to carry out while home-grown low-skilled just couldn’t be arsed. 
It’s a pretty chilling scenario. 
So what’s left for those of us “remaining”? 
Regarding themselves too posh to wash, are many likely to fill gaps yawning, for instance, in the care sector? The insurance giant Aviva is said to have challenged 16,000 of its British staff to consider whether their jobs could be done by robots so as to free them for higher-value activities. So as algorithms coalesce to service many of our basic needs, the decades-old predictions that automatons will bring the blessing of increased leisure no longer seem far from reality. 
Government sources and some employers – notably farmers who cannily maintain a weather-eye on their future labour requirements –seem gung-ho in the ability to replace low-skilled workers with technology. And make savings into the bargain. Even the Governor of the Bank of England has warned that over time - however long that may be – up to 15 million UK jobs could be automated. A huge chunk of the workforce. 
Two thoughts spring to mind. 
If in such a future there remains no more skill or inclination of a significant proportion of people to work, how do they pay for their life of leisure? And what contingency plans can be put into operation should by some reason, accidental or malign, the power plug be withdrawn? 
There might be a case for all not otherwise engaged, to be pressed into apprenticeship. 
In electrical engineering! 

Tim’rous Times Posted on February 9th 2017 by Derek 

Pity the poor mouse! 
Snatched from the security of its carefully-controlled laboratory nest, this poor wee hard-of-hearing beastie exists only to have its ears washed out. 
Then in its scary new environment, it hears for the first time. And what it hears are the strange, apparently unconnected, words Brexit and Trump. Not so much a gift as an assault on its animal rights. 
Hard not to sympathise! Branded by some as our own Mickey Mouse media, it’s hard to pass an unguarded moment without assault on the airways by the B word. Or the T word. Or, come to that, the NHS acronym beating a tribal tattoo on the senses. 
Fat on alternative facts, confused by alternative truths, it’s even more important in business these contentious times to be sure of what we mean. Within the workplace, with clients and customers there is no room for uncertainty.  
Efficiency depends on reliability and trust in communications among relationships. So let’s leave the politicians to their grandstanding to argue that black is the post-truth white. Yes, it’s good to talk. But in the real world it’s essential to mean what we say. 
No ifs, no buts! 

I Need a Word … Posted on January 5th 2017 by Derek 

Anxiety-prone families will be glad to have survived intact the midwinter festivities. Though some might have exchanged words that strained the harmony of the season of goodwill. 
In these uber-sensitive times it’s not just sticks and stones that hurt. Political correctness along with a degree of malice strays into all forms of communication. Lapses send the susceptible into attacks of the vapours. 
But the use and misuse of words and terms within a heated exchange can also become a form of bullying. An effective means of closing down the opposition. 
“The simple truth is ...” suggests an alternative view to the speaker’s is unsustainable. 
“Let’s be clear… “says in effect: “I know what I’m talking about and have mastery of the subject, though you clearly don’t.” 
There is any number of verbal put-downs, forms of words used in argument as delaying tactics or simply to muddy the waters. 
A diplomat seems to have used less than diplomatic means to criticise his Whitehall masters and the media goes into its predicted frenzy. 
At a more mundane level, diplomacy is equally important in the world of work. There just a little thought is needed to maintain the wellbeing of colleagues and the preservation of good order and efficiency. Even when criticism is necessary, the hasty, ill-considered word is frequently counter-productive. 
It’s true that ‘a wonderful thing is the cliché – it says things much more clever than we say!’ 
But use it carefully. At the end of the day … it can bite back! 

Honesty Best Policy Posted on November 20th 2016 by Derek 

We struggle still with the conundrum dismissed so casually those 2000 years ago by Pontius Pilate. “What is truth?” 
Experience establishes fairly swiftly what might be true and what’s fake. The newly-furbished term ‘post-truth’ gives a spurious, creepy respectability to the fact that those seeking to influence are excused saying almost anything, however outrageous, however dangerous, to win the argument. 
The truth is we have allowed ourselves to be victims. We have become complacently receptive of highly regarded spin-doctors and the facts they massage. We kind of know it’s all in the game, so seldom bother to challenge what’s read in print or heard on the air-waves. 
Statistics are reliable weapons to prove anything. Anyone seems able to take part. When challengers do have the temerity to intervene they are met with the denigrating label of the day. 
Business, keeping calm and carrying on, maintaining the necessary rhythm of day-to-day life, could not to take part in this dystopian parlour-game and survive. But it can, with good practice, provide for upcoming generations a kind of role model that the political classes fail of offer. 
The principles of trust and clear communication have been the foundations of trade since the beginning of time. Supplier and consumer hold each other in mutual trust. 
Not so those commanding the headlines cynically and arrogantly blurring the facts. 
It is disturbing to suspect major decisions might be influenced by lies. 
In all honesty let’s hold them to account. Challenge them to come clean. Tell the truth. 
And stop taking us for fools. 

Let Us Get On With It! Posted on October 18th 2016 by Derek 

How many times have we heard that reassuring affirmation: The strength of the British economy lies in its small businesses? Yes, well. Maybe. But business is struggling to survive. And it’s nothing to do with Brexit! 
Small business is penalised by ever more demands placed upon it from not only from big business competition but government and its grasping agencies too. 
Fathers need time to bond with the new baby? He deserves time off. 
To share with the mother whose desk at work requires cover if targets are to be met. 
Nobody seeks to discriminate against disabled job-applicants. But their special needs must be seriously considered, regardless of cost. 
The Home Office signals that stats may be required to reflect the demographics of the office – age, ethnicity etc in order to satisfy some report commissioned by a faceless civil servant for some future inquiry to chew over and discard. 
The tools of marketing are being constantly eroded by the introduction of procurement processes designed to make it easier for organisations to select services but in fact make technical hurdles for providers to overcome. 
Relationships built over long periods between suppliers and potential as well as regular customers are a thing of the past. Instead offers are made, providers selected through an arid series of on-line applications, form-filling and tick-boxes. 
The heart is being systematically torn from the enthusiasm and inventiveness of the small business. Without human communication there can be no satisfaction for organisations seeking tailor-made solutions to problems they face in their day-to-day experience. 
Without infinite resources, small businesses are staffed by a minimum of committed specialists required to fulfil the purpose which drives the economy along. To continue to demand more of their time and cost is to risk their failure. Where will be the strength of the British economy then? 

When modern art ain’t fun!  Posted on September 27th 2016 by Derek 

Nobody likes to be excluded. It can be very lonely not to share the laughs and the complaints enjoyed by the group. So to be accepted it’s necessary to conform, do what the others do, go where the crowd goes, accept their values to win approval and trust. 
Maybe that accounts for the current craze for body art. 
To brandish a colourful forearm, display a technicolour leg, is a message that says here’s someone confident, comfortable in their own embellished skin. 
Best not to pass into the parlour before going for that job, though. 
The evidence is that employers are not keen on taking on staff who reveal themselves feckless followers of fashion. They have concerns that someone with such an overriding self-regard may not be prepared to give the attention demanded for more serious occupations. 
And medical opinion suggests they are right to do so. Common sense, like a consultant dermatologist at Kings College Hospital, cautions against the introduction of foreign body – ink – into a relatively inaccessible part of the skin, with the risk of infection, allergic reaction, and the exacerbation of pre-existing skin complaints such as eczema and psoriasis. 
Going for job interview where impressions are established in the first few seconds is challenging enough. To present a fleshy kaleidoscope of colour is a display of self-indulgence too far. 

Tragedy to Triumph! Posted on September 12th 2016 by Derek 

British Paralympians once more have proved a huge inspiration. We marvelled at their resolution and single-minded determination throughout those Rio 2016 sessions as they excelled repeatedly on track, mat and water.  
The hoard of treasure they garnered is but part reward for the manner in which they share with us chair-bound spectators their well-won wellbeing. 
They display to an extraordinary degree the value of setting goals. 
Until the Paralympics became an integral part of the Olympic movement, disability was largely regarded as unfortunate. The individual was often shunted out of sight if not forgotten in a society where success and perfection was the aim. 
That aim has not changed while attitudes have. 
The Olympics remain the stage where nations compete with their best-performing athletes. But the Paralympics are becoming to some extend the main event, a display of courage and sacrifice that outshines even that of able-bodied champions. 
Disabled athletes themselves, many overcoming the challenge of life-changing injury, demonstrate how, marrying muscle and mental stamina, they turn tragedy to triumph, 

Honesty – best policy? Posted on July 22nd 2016 by Derek 

Cheats never prosper. One of those admonitions once sternly passed on by grannies. 
What did they know? Nothing about professional sport, clearly. Or state-assisted machinations boosting national prestige. We’ll never know just how many scheming under-achievers clutched precious metal on an Olympic podium. 
Were they ever blame-free? Certainly not when sport became big business exploited by unscrupulous executives and muscle-flexing nations. 
How comforting it would be if each wave of whistleblowers achieved transparency in some muddied water of deceit and subterfuge. 
Sport is but one aspect of life where things are seldom what they appear to be. 
Mrs Trump endorsing her outrageous husband’s softer side shamelessly steals sequences from the speech of Michelle Obama. 
A freedom and information request admits that over the past three academic years more than 1,700 nurses have been disciplined by their university for cheating in their exams. Much easier, it seems in some cases to use the services of a Pakistan website which for less than £200 will supply an essay. 
An expert in plagiarism claims the high hundreds or low thousands of nursing essays in this country are bought every year. All students cheat, it is admitted, but nursing students do it more than others. 
Not a comfortable fancy should you happen to feel helpless in hospital care. 
So what happened to Trust? Business is not immune from sharp practice; not all is revealed in the City pages and whistleblowers require the courage of martyrs lifting the lid on some of it at its worst. 
Crusaders exposing unfair dealing and dishonesty in every walk of life deserve more honour than we are able to award them. 

Summertime’s you-time! Posted on July 12th 2016 by Derek 

The springtime feel good factor’s long gone, the Brexit autumn challenges the months ahead. So let’s, through these summer weeks, draw breath to consider the importance of the wellbeing agenda. 
The one that points ways to combat those key links - low productivity, staff morale and absenteeism. 
Wellbeing is about more than pay rises and parking. Staff retention and talent-management reflect the need to motivate and empower our people, make them feel valued and happy so they get a buzz from meeting the challenge and working effectively with colleagues. 
As schools close for the August holidays, routine - with smaller teams, constant demands for more from less - is only-too-briefly shelved. So: 
will you be resilient enough so survive the break? Or will you succumb to the stress of trying to do everything? 
will you recognise limitations? Be practical? Prioritise? 
will you be brave and delegate when finding anyone not fully occupied? 
Summer holiday’s a time for relaxation, charging the batteries. So enjoy it. 
You’ll be best equipped then to take up the tasks ahead. 

Cowardice, Conscience & Self-Censorship Posted on June 28th 2016 by Derek 

When Shakespeare declared that ‘conscience doth make cowards of us all’, he was surely commenting on decency restraining those outrageous secret fancies all of us occasionally must repress.  
A psychotic may possess no such safety-structure. Fantasy for those with only a tenuous grip on reality can so easily translate into opportunity. Stark tragedy as evidenced in the headlines. 
Who talks today of conscience? Who, in a climate when rights and claims of personal liberty are so self-referencing, talks of restraint? 
Cowardice lies behind the rash of anonymous authors of outrage through social media. Ridicule and the application of pain from the sidelines is the sport of spite, played out in a succinct 140 characters free of responsibility or attribution. 
Those coming to terms with reality of Brexit can only react with horror at the outlandish threats and jibes aimed at people taking another view. 
It is curious that at a time when in business and the wider community we are keenly promoting wellbeing, the first casualty is respect – a fine word not alone among others hijacked shamelessly by politicians. 
Without respect there is no trust. 
Previous generations feared that a vengeful God listened to their very thoughts. In a more secular age, faced with the choice between right and wrong, we look to our conscience. That ‘wee small voice’ powerfully drowns out the painful tweet. Because there’s no censorship like self-censorship. 

A Heavy Cross to Bear, Inner or Outer – that is the question. Posted on June 9th 2016 by Derek 

Whether ‘tis saner in the mind to weigh the promises and fears of outrageous statements .. or by ignoring, dismiss them. 
And this referendum has developed into Shakespearean tragedy. One house divided against itself and against another. Outside the warring Westminster bubble, we struggle in the crossfire, beaten down by hyperbole. 
John of Gaunt is on parade lauding this land, this earth, this England. So is Napoleon with ambitions of a European empire. In a quest for truth, Google this time is no help. Staying above the fight, confused.eu. is apparently not available. Visit comparethehyperbole.co.uk? No help there. 
As a company Focus for Change trades on helping people deal with difficult questions but like many of our clients we have no answers to the conundrum that must now be addressed. 
Uncommitted, we hear a Government eating itself alive. An Opposition labours deep in civil war, not fit for purpose. The choice is ours – and both sides admit whichever way the votes go, milk and honey is likely to be in short supply. Undecided? 
Here might be a clue in all the clamour. Leaders of the Out faction, with the exception of one shouty long-term Brexiteer, are innocent of any public office in international matters. Several of the Remain brigade have experience in the conduct of foreign affairs. Which might of course be said to have contaminated their argument. 
Correct me if I'm wrong (and sure as day in this increasingly unpleasant argument there are plenty who will) but surely the EU is a club whose members stick together. That's the nature of the beast Unsympathetic to those outside that relationship. You might call this protectionism; Get out, stay out, go away is the joint opinion of the signed-up members. 
Who can say that would not be the attitude of the EU to even former members? Globalisation? The EU clubbers can trade with whom they want - acquiring from eager competitors all they once did from the UK. Unwelcome travellers would expect to find the English seaside easier to breach than the razor wire at Calais. 
Decide we must. The question is in black and white on the ballot paper. 
This is a cross we must put down. 

Cheers Toni! TJN Associates director Toni Negus was the winner of a taste of the Val de Loire’s best at the prize-draw on F4C’s busy stand at the Discovering Business exhibition at Chelmsford Racecourse.  Posted on June 6th 

Barack Obama stars in spoof retirement video as he nears the end of his second term as President of the United States.  Posted on May 10th 

In the Line of Duty Posted on May 3rd 2016 by Derek 

Regular followers of these musings (glad you’re there, even if - especially if - we don’t always agree) will recall we mourned a role model. re 
So were happy to find one, shining as brightly as his highly-bulled boots. 
Step up Officer Cadet Kidane Cousland, recipient of Sandhurst’s most prestigious award – the Sword of Honour. 
And, just like London buses, as soon as one turns up, along come more. Like the feisty 88-year-old who takes London Marathons in her stride. And let’s not forget the lads pulling up their bootstrings to climb from the bottom to the top of the Premier League, unfashionable Leicester City! 
But more on Officer Cadet Causland. He’s an inspiration not because he worked his way up through the ranks, nor because of his colour. But because he has triumphantly overcame the scourge of a childhood in a north London estate and a climate hostile to authority. A climate he says that without believing he could achieve something better and at 16 chosen to sign on he would have been dead or in prison. 
Officer Cadet Causland’s success also speaks well of his superiors through his basic training and his active service in Afghanistan hell-holes spotting and nurturing an individual of high potential. 
As in the Army this is an important element of business management, where the outstanding employee is remarkable in demonstrating leadership skills and winning the opportunity of heading the company’s future. 
F4C’s leadership and management workshops, among them overcoming diversity issues, helps offer a framework in recognising talent existing in the staff. 

Do they care? Posted on April 6th 2016 by Derek 

Why are so many of our educational institutions selling their graduates short?  
Why are they not more caring? Launched from study into the world of work too many youngsters are left to stumble through that difficult transition without essential tools? 
Low-grade jobs are packed full of bright young men and women passing valuable time, waiting for the next round of apprenticeship opportunities. They’ve not been sufficiently well advised that serious job-search begins well before the college doors close behind them. 
The fill-in job meets temporary needs. But it can blunt the enthusiasm to discover the long-term post for which their skills have been developed. 
There is a widening gulf between candidate and prospective employer that urgently needs to be bridged. Further and higher institutions must not neglect to ensure those they have taken pains to qualify for life at work are equipped with basic necessities. The missing link is an understanding of what employers expect and students understand. 
Employers complain of the insufficient preparation many young applicants have received, particularly the shortcomings disclosed by an inadequate CV. 
Along with the qualifications, the job-seekers are more and more required to be able to sell themselves at application stage, long before they win an interview. And their primary tool is the good CV. It not only outlines their achievements thus far but in its construction and care is a good indication of their all-round worth. 
It’s the shop window which says: “Choose me!” Because you need to be seen! 

Wanted - a Role Model Posted on March 1st 2016 by Derek 

They dug up Oliver Cromwell, desecrating the corpse to prove to the restored Merry Monarch, Charles II, just how right-on they all were. Cecil Rhodes rests in peace in his hilltop tomb at Bulawayo. But his effigy stands on less firm foundations under attack from the Oxford cell of the PC brigade. 
Converting national treasures into base metal is a game anyone can play. Polar hero Robert Falcon Scott failed to find a way home; Edith Cavell might have stuck to nursing. And isn't there said to be something fishy about some sporting champs? 
We're running out of role models. 
Traditionally the position was assumed by the father of the family. in the workplace, in more gentle, paternal organisations, the boss. 
But in business today, where relationships are key to production, good managers who win respect know they benefit from a contented staff. The leader taking sometimes unpopular decisions without losing the support of the team delivers efficiency. And, equally important, the reliability the workplace demands. 
Great Expectations – with a Sprout? 
Posted on December 7, 2015 by Derek 
text here 


Frequent Flyer – Frequent Offender 
Posted on November 2, 2015 by Derek 
Text here 


What Price Equality? 
Posted on October 4, 2015 by Derek 
Continued article here. 


The Way to Goal 
Posted on September 9, 2015 by Derek 
Continued article here. 


Depression: How to Beat It! 
Posted on July 31, 2015 by Derek 
Continued article here. 


Givvus More! 
Posted on July 9, 2015 by Derek 
Continued article here. 


You’re Never Too Old! 
Posted on June 2, 2015 by Derek 
Continued article here. 


Older – and Wiser! 
Posted on February 10, 2015 by Derek 
Continued article here. 


Impatient Patients 
Posted on January 1, 2015 by Derek 
Continued article here. 


All I Want for Christmas 
Posted on December 18, 2014 by Derek 
Continued article here. 


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