Monday, December 03, 2018

Alternatives to 'Customer Service'

It's Thursday today. Just a normal day, an ordinary day. One more opportunity to work hard, get rich, and one more chance to be slammed around by people who seem never to have heard of the concept of 'customer service'.

It seemed like a simple problem, at first. The post-person arrived this morning, but they were only holding letters, no parcels. We had been expecting a parcel for weeks. My partner is taking part in a table-top sale this coming weekend, and had ordered some paperback books that she wanted to take along and re-sell as part of a health package. The books were ordered two weeks ago, with a promise that delivery would take place in '3-5 days', but when no books arrived, we had to email. We were told that the supplier didn't have them and had had to outsource the order. Still, they said, delivery wouldn't have been delayed. The books should have arrived, they said. They would look into it. Next day an email arrived from the out-sourcer. It said that 'an account had to be confirmed'. My partner tried logging on to their website and was refused. She had to phone them.

So far, so bad. Still, don't forget we've only lost a week at this point, and it doesn't seem fatal: we've got another week to go, and as we know, (or have been told), the books could arrive in '3-5 days'. So that's all right, then. It was a nuisance that the newly found supplier was telling us to register and then had established a website which didn't allow a non-customer to establish a new account, but we thought we had cleared that up on the phone. All was going ahead – or so we thought. But - a new day dawned and no books arrived.

It's Thursday. We tried emailing, but got no reply. We tried phoning the real supplier, the new one, but they said their lines were busy. We went back to the original supplier – pre outsource – and tried them. We couldn't find a phone number, anywhere. It took half an hour, but there it was at last – no, not on the 'Contact Us' page. That would be too easy. Okay, so we phoned and the man checked his computer. He said no order existed. We asked him to check again. He said the records showed that our order had been cancelled the previous week. Right, so the out-sourcer had wanted confirmation of the account and, in the meantime, cancelled the order. When he confirmed the account – with us, on the phone – he forgot to re-instate the order. He had an account but no order. He didn't query or question that. He went on with his life, we went on with ours. The difference is that we were expecting books to arrive. They didn't. If we hadn't chased it up, we would never have found out why, either.

The man on the phone was pleasant enough. He asked us if we wanted to make the order again. We asked him when the books would arrive. When he said, 'After the weekend', we declined his offer. The books were needed this weekend coming. Not after. Definitely not after. What could he have done (better)? After all, he apologised, which was nice, considering he would probably be thinking that it probably wasn't his fault. Of course, in reality, it was. He had set up a system that placed orders to outside bodies and his company had no control over the quality, honesty or memory of their ‘outsourcing’ people. They didn't cancel the order, so they probably thought it wasn't their fault. Why not? Why were they working with a sub-contractor who was so slapdash and careless? Would they follow it up, complain, seek recompense on our behalf? Not a bit of it. It's life, they implied. These things happen, mate. Life goes on. In our case, for me and my partner, life would have to be without the books we wanted.

Well, we didn't place a second order and we won't be doing it, not within the foreseeable future. If we can avoid it, we will always avoid that firm in future. A very wise man once said, 'If you make a client, you should keep them for life and they will keep you'. The alternative to that might read something like, 'If you lose a client, you never get them back'. That's certainly true for us. Why? Because there are plenty of other suppliers and, being human, we don't just want books, we want service. Superlative service.

I know what you're thinking. Look, you say, the guy isn't going to ruin his day with an apology, then rush down to the warehouse, pick out your books and stick them in an envelope, posting them off that very afternoon. Why? Does anybody do that? Because I tell you what, readers. The company that does that is the one who gets our business, now and in the future. Everyone else gets a surly customer, chasing an order they think they placed and not understanding the lack of communication, updates or delivery. There's no profit in that, no future. Or, just to make it clear - even if you aren’t the person who has to answer the phone in your company, business or trade, - here’s something you could think about: doesn't anyone – any trading company, individual, person or animal out there – wonder why people keep phoning them up and complaining? Could it be because they are actually doing something wrong?

Monday, November 26, 2018

PART 2 of 'Alternatives to Torture'

There is an alternative to torture, of course there is. It's called 'being nice to people' and giving them things.
Before you dismiss such an idea as crazy and misguided, it's worth remembering that it has been tried quite recently, and it achieved favourable results. I'm referring to the situation in Iraq, just a few short years ago. At that point, the Americans had drawn up a list of the Most Wanted, and had put a price on each one of their heads. Mr Saddam, you may recall, was top of the list and the figure was twenty five million dollars. When someone tipped off the authorities that the great man was hiding in a hole in the ground, no doubt the cash was paid over. After all, that was the aim – to find the tyrant, alive.

Ah, you say, but we know all about Rewards. They worked in the Wild West, over a hundred years ago. Outlaws like Billy the Kid had a price on his head. Eventually he was tracked down by Marshall Pat Garret, as a recent film shows. Right, so how many people were tortured then – in an effort to find out where the bad young man was hiding? Well, none. The alternative - paying for information, not squeezing it out of people in pain - was equally effective and consistently produced results. Nobody saw any need to use torture to track down gangs, gangsters and cowboys on the run in those days.

Strange, then, that in these modern and enlightened times, we seem to have forgotten the lessons of the past. When it comes to spies and terrorists, we have lost the imagination we once had. We don't wave a chequebook in their face, to those people down there in Guantanamo Bay, we wave a rubber cosh. And we don't tempt them with an electronic transfer of funds, we inflict the pain of an electric shock. Does it work? Well, there's two answers to that. From the government, the answer seems to be a consistent 'Yes'. That's the first answer. When was that then, you may well ask? When did that happen? Nobody knows, is the second answer. Well, strictly speaking, it's 'We can't tell you', but hey, that's the same thing. Sorry, but it sure is a topsy-turvy world in counter-espionage, the 'alternate universe' of spying. The torturers always manage to look sinister and mysterious and tell you that their system works, but - and they’re really sorry about this - they’re just not willing to give you any details that might justify the allegations they make. Who knows, if YOU found out what they know, then maybe they'd be forced to make you the next victim.

Anything else won't work, they say. There's no mileage in trying to bribe these fanatics, we're told. Their families are back in the home country and would be terrorised by the other terrorists still living there. Okay, so logically what it would need is for the suspect you've got in custody, plus all his relatives, to be relocated – new names, new homes. Hey, that doesn't sound impossible, and it could all be done for a few millions, far less than the disruption caused by terrorism itself.

There's also one major pay-off. Torturers will tell you that the trick is to get the person being interrogated to a point where they give up and realise they're not going to escape. At that point they tell you everything, (they say). Unfortunately, by the time you've checked on whether the info is worthwhile or not, it's too late to do anything about it, because your prisoner has given up - just like you intended - and likely died, usually. If they realise that, if they know they're going to die, then they might as well lie, mightn't they? Yes. So, one big advantage of bribing instead of paining, is that the suspect is still alive, (even if in hiding). If what they told you was wrong - or, in fact, if you've got any complaints at all - you can go and see the person and remonstrate with them. If you're irate at the bribery not working, you can go back to Plan A and get the thumbscrews out. What have you lost? If you chose the former route, (the more usual 'modern' example), there's no second chance, ever. Not very smart, is it?

So, money. There's a suggestion for the anti-terrorism units all over the world. I don't expect it to be popular, because of course, there's another item on the agenda, isn't there? Torturing 'suspected' terrorists is, first of all, a lot of fun for the person holding the whip or the electrode. They can get a big kick out of inflicting pain. Ever tried it? It's great, apparently. Second of all, it makes the whole counter-terrorism thing seem important. Hell, if your government is telling you that you have the right to skin someone alive, then you must be a pretty important person, right? And the work you're doing must be Top Priority too, eh? Yes, that's the reality of it all. Torture is self-justifying. It's so awful that it must be right, otherwise why would any sane, sensible, educated person take part in it, support it, or condone it? It's bad, right? And you're only allowed to do bad things if there's a good reason. So there must be a good reason, mustn't there?

What if there's not? What if all the torture committed since 9/11 hasn't produced that alleged long list of names, phone numbers, and leads, that makes it all worth doing and justifiable? What if the entire top-heavy, administrative enterprise isn't worth a damn? Well, let's not go there, let's not think about! Because that would mean – Oops, our government, and the governments of our allies, has been involved in inflicting inhuman treatment on people who've never even made it into a court of law – for what? To make themselves feel good, look important and justify their salaries. Not much in the way of a 'good' reason, is it? 

Want to read more? This article - and others like it - have been gathered into a collection of essays published by Mike on the internet. It's available on Amazon Kindle (although other bookstores are available). Click the link below and a new window will open. (It's Magic.) 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

OLD ARTICLE (goes into New book)

Here's an article, from several years ago.
Where is it now? (answer at end)


We live in a tough old world. As a recent film tries to tell you, it's possible that you will be snatched off the street tomorrow by people you don't know, bound and gagged and flown off to some far-distant part of the world where you can be interrogated, harshly. Oh, all right, then, we'll tell you the truth. You'll be tortured. Pain will be inflicted on you as a way of encouraging you to confess the crimes that you're assumed to be thinking about, conspiring to happen and planning, such as terrorist attacks on the Western world. This is all in the name of 'security', patriotism and anti-terrorism - all good stuff. If all goes well, you'll tell them what they need to know and lives will be saved. That is, if you are a terrorist. Things start going wrong if you aren't.

Let's imagine, purely for the sake of argument, that you aren't a terrorist, haven't been and don't plan to be. You're strung upside down and people you don't know and haven't been properly introduced to are beating the soles of your feet with iron bars. They ask you questions, and you hesitate, because you know you don't have any answers. In fact, as soon becomes clear, these people are pretty sure they already know the answers to the questions they're putting to you – they just want you to confirm their suspicions. What do you do? At first you might figure they will come to their sense, realise you aren't a threat and let you go. If they don't seem willing to do that, you might come up with another plan: you'll admit anything they put to you. That way, at least they'll stop the pain. Of course they won't let you go either, but at least you might get a day in court and then you can plead your innocence. Trouble is, you've just admitted your guilt. Not to worry, you'll tell the court your story, tell them you only made an admittance so that they'd stop doing the bad things they were doing. So they might believe you. But they won't. The record shows that people who admit their guilt – such as the Birmingham Six in Britain in the 1970s – and then retract their forced confessions on the grounds it was beaten out of them - aren't believed later.

So, torture works. At least, if you are the person aiming to find someone to admit to being guilty. Like the Birmingham Six. You, the torturer, then have people you can blame for the bombing of civilians and the state can send them to prison and announce that justice has been done. In that case, unfortunately, as it emerged later, they got the wrong men. It took many years but it was later proved that they had nothing at all to do with the crime. The judges had to let them go. But why? Why were they in jail? Because they'd admitted they had done it. Why? Why would anyone admit they were guilty unless they were? Because they were smacked around for days, deprived of sleep and threatened. This, in a civilised country like England. In any other part of the world it would be called 'inhumane and degrading treatment', in other words, torture. Not here. We don't do torture in Britain, (we say.)

But we did once. It was back in the time of Shakespeare and shortly after. Then we tortured witches, regularly. We know they were witches because they admitted they were witches. That's why they were then killed, because of all the evil things they admitted to doing, like consorting with the Devil and flying around on broomsticks. Now here's the problem. No one does that sort of thing anymore, (at least, as far as we know). Oh sure, there are some people who call themselves White Witches and claim to mix potions and cast spells – but only to do good. So here's the issue: we live in a scientific age and think that talk of witchcraft is nonsense. No one can really fly around on a broom, (except in movies). But did they ever? If they did, then why can't we do it now? If they didn't – because it's impossible, we know – why did they ever say they could? We know they said they could do those things, because we have the records. Why would people say such a thing? Well, one reason might be because they were routinely tortured. That's how our ancestors extracted the confessions. Maybe, just maybe, there never have been people who can fly or cast bad spells. But that means – well, that the people who said so were in fact lying, for some reason. Maybe - is it possible - inn order to stop the torture, perhaps.

In the modern world it's different. We know that terrorism exists, because we've seen it happen, and we know that terrorists are out there somewhere, planning it. The problem is, using torture, that we have no way of knowing – for sure – if the people who admit to it are being genuine, or lying, to save themselves pain. Ah, you say, but if only one life is saved – yes, well then, any amount of inflicted pain might seem justified. The problem with that is that we aren't being told if it's currently effective, for the sake of 'security'. Well, sorry, but that doesn't add up. If our side uncovered a terrorist cell because we had a spy in their camp, then no, we wouldn't want to reveal the source and so ruin their placement. But if we torture information out of a person? Well, then we already have them as a prisoner. It does no harm to reveal who they are and what they're alleged to have done or be doing, doesn’t it? So we should be seeing spy cells broken and terrorists arrested. Regularly. Why aren't we?

There could be one simple reason. Maybe the sad fact is that not a bit of useful information is coming from torturing detainees at this present time. The truth might possibly be that doing torture in the modern world is merely 'busy work', making it look as though we're fighting the threat of terrorism without actually doing anything useful – such as catching the real bad guys, perhaps by intelligent means. After all, if we could do that, we wouldn't need to torture anyone, anymore. Is that an alternative?

Thank you.
That article has been put in a New book, as part of a collection of essays.
The collection can be had as an e-book, if you follow this link below.
LINK: click here

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A new, exciting competition for you (with prizes)

Hi, I'm Mike Scantlebury – author of Scanti-Noir.

If you know me, you'll know I write stories about Amelia Hartliss, Secret Agent, and Mickey from Manchester.

Correction, I write LONG stories.
Novels, mostly. No short stories, or small pieces of fiction. Yet.
For there to be a Mickey or Melia short story would be ground-breaking.
Well, it's happened. I've written one.
And I'm going to give a few lucky people the chance to own this unique extract from the saga that is 'Books about Manchester and Salford'.
A tiny number of people. A select few.

Want to join that club?

Here's the deal.
I'm not selling this unprecedented story.
I'm not giving it away, either.
No, I'm offering it as a prize in a very special competition.
The good news is that everyone who enters for this award will get the prize.
The bad news is that you have to do something for it.
(You can't just buy a ticket!)

I want you to write me a Review.

Now, the good news is that a 'Review' doesn't have to be clever.
It could be short. One word., like 'Interesting'.
It could be a sentence, like 'I enjoyed it'.
It could be a paragraph.
It could be a treatise, a tome, or a volume in itself.
I don't mind.

All I ask is that you got to any of the online bookstores – one or the other -
and add a short review to one of my books.
Any book.
Then, follow one of the links below to either my Twitter or Facebook accounts,
and send me a direct message about what you've done.
Include a link to your Review.
I'll follow the link.
If there's 'a Review' there when I arrive, then you get to read the story.
That's it. That's all. Not much to it, is there?

But hey, I'm not apologising for asking.
I'm an independent writer and publisher. Reviews are my life blood. Because of the arcane rules that an online bookstore like Amazon impose on a free spirit like me, if my books don't get Reviews, they never get promoted. Amazon? Puh. They're crazy.

So, think about it.
If you feel confident about using the international interweb,
and can get yourself out to an online book-store - without getting lost -
then leave a note, and return – safely -
then you get to show off to your friends that you are the proud owner
of a Mike Scantlebury Short Story.
“A what?”
A Mike Scantlebury Short Story.
“But Mike Scantlebury doesn't write short stories!”

Well, you'll know better, won't you?

Okay, sure, this is an experiment.
If it doesn't work, I'll go back to my day job, and write a few more Mickey and Melia novels. (Expect a new one in October, and another before Christmas.)
If it does work, well, I might try it again, some time.
Ouch! I'll have to amend that 'unique' tag then, won't I?
Still, that's well into the future.
For now, there's only this offer.
I'm offering a short story.
I'm asking for a Review.

Let's see how many of you can win that coveted prize.


Mike Scantlebury on Facebook -MikeScantlebury99

Mike Scantlebury on Twitter - @MikeScantlebury

Saturday, April 05, 2014

'Dit Dit' - a song about whales

There's a new film out, called #NOAH.
It's all very exciting, about an old man with a beard, and a boat.
(No, not the man with the beard below - he has no boat. Yet.)
There's a bit of story in the new film,
something about animals.
Wow, heard that before - like in this song about whales,
and the animals being saved from the flood.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Parable for Christmas

Once upon a time there was a big-time Referee, who worked in the Premiership. He had done his stuff with all the great teams and even, a few years ago, refereed the Cup Final at the old Wembley stadium. He was pretty pleased with himself and his life.

One weekend he had a day off, so took his dog that Saturday morning and went down to his local park. There, he saw a bunch of kids having a kickabout. He liked football, so stopped to watch. He was enjoying it, but then, before long, something happened. One of the youngsters went steaming in on another in an energetic tackle. 'Foul!' the man yelled and went running onto the pitch. He couldn't help himself. 'You're doing it wrong,' he screamed. 'There are Rules, you know!'

MORAL of the tale: the Referee is similar to all those people who log onto the internet and find books offered for sale, often by amateurs and first timers. They like reading and check the offerings out. But then, they can't help themselves. 'This is wrong!' they yell, steaming in. 'There are Rules, you know!' They are confusing internet publishing and Traditional Publishing. They imagine that it is roughly the same thing, and that it should operate by the same Rules. It isn't, and it doesn't.

If anything, internet publishing is most similar to eBay, not Traditional Publishing. On eBay, people offer all sorts and manner of things for sale. If you come across it, you might be amazed. 'This is rubbish', you might think. So what? The ethos of eBay is that 'One Person's Rubbish is Another Person's Treasure'. Anything can be offered, and if people don't want it, they move on. They DON'T feel compelled to shout and stamp, and warn people about the quality of the goods. That isn't necessary. Everyone trying to buy something knows it is their duty to check the stuff out and make up their own minds. No one – NO ONE – takes on the task of being the Publishing Police and imagining that their good taste is the same as everyone else's.

These people aren't needed. They are interfering and should keep their opinions to themselves.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Read 'Fifty Shades of Grey'? Whatever next!

This is something difficult to admit - I've been robbed!
It's not the telly that's gone, or my laptop, or my collection of ornamental frogs. No, I've lost my name. And my ideas. Specifically, a novel I wrote last summer called 'Secret Garden Festival' and it was set in Salford University for much of the time. Someone has taken that setting, and my cast of characters, and used them in a new series of novels. What's worse, is that it's porn.
I suppose that bit shouldn't be shocking. After all, the biggest selling book in recent years has been 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. Every author from here to Timbuktu would love to have that kind of a bestseller. Failing that, they'd all love to write the successor - the next big thing, for all the readers who bought 'Fifty Shades' and loved it. Why not, someone must have said to themselves, 'borrow' an existing scenario and just - well, what shall we say? - heat it up a bit?
And change it. One of my characters was called Val. He was a young man, a student. 'He' has been changed to a 'she'. She's young, feisty, slim, attractive. Not to put too fine a point on it, she's 'Emmanuelle'. Well, updated and moved to the North West of England, but the resemblance is striking. (In case you don't believe that, check out the e-book cover - it's Sylvia Kristel!)
It gets worse. Not only has this woman stolen my ideas, she's stolen my name! The author of this new 'female friendly' adult fiction is calling themselves 'G. Scantlebury Michaels'. Sound familiar? See any resemblances there?
For an author, any author, it would be bad news to find out that your characters, who you have lovingly crafted from the clay of imagination, had been kidnapped and sold as sex slaves. Like any parent, it would be horrifying to find your children so badly treated. But for me it's worse. You see, they're not completely my creation! As part of the Secret Garden Festival 2012 in Salford I was paid to involve local people in writing the book; I invited people I met around the city to suggest characters, situations and bits of story. Those fictional creations, the imaginary people they came up, then, they're not all mine. If it was just me, I'd feel robbed, but how am I going to explain it to the Salford residents who took part in their creation??
One final worry. The new series of adult stories are set in Salford University. It makes the place seem like a hotbed of steamy, saucy activities. What if young people got hold of these books and took the stories seriously? What if the numbers applying for this particular University went up this year, comprising people who will be heading north, looking for fun, frolics and adventure? What if they're disappointed??
Curious? Want to see more? I don't blame you, (even if I am a little disappointed in your taste). You can find these awful, sexy stories  here.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Quotes for success?? "Shut Up!"

Wayne Dyer says that, if you want success, you have to learn to stop asking so many questions. In particular, the question 'How?' He says, once you start taking action, the Universe will start sending you little tips and hints about what you have to do next. But, in order to hear them, you have to stop the chatter inside. You have to tell your Inner Critic to be silent for a time, so that you can really hear the messages.

Imagine, for a moment, that you were on the Titantic. The big liner has hit the iceberg, the engines have stopped and a Steward is banging on your cabin door. You go out, in your dressing gown, and he tells you not to panic and to 'proceed to the Lifeboats'.

Would you co-operate? We might like to believe that we would do the sensible thing. But, in reality, you would start questions. Wouldn't you? Like 'How can we be sure we'll get a place in a boat for all of my family?' 'How will we get the lifeboat launched, now that the ship is listing to one side?' 'How will we get away from the ship and avoid being sucked under?' 'How will we row away if no one has ever used oars before?' And so on, and so on. If you follow Wayne Dyer's advice, then all you have to do is take the first step: get up that staircase to the Boat Deck. When you arrive you will see the queue and you will get a place on a lifeboat. When you're seated in the boat, you will see the ropes and how to start lowering it. When you hit the water, you'll find the oars. And so on. Each step will take you to the next, and when you arrive there, you'll see what to do after that.

The alternative, the one where you're still arguing with the Steward, has one massive disadvantage; you're still standing outside your cabin! You haven't moved. You're so desperate to get all the facts, to hear all the plans, that you haven't even taken one step. That's like most people. Isn't it? They go to seminars about 'Success', they listen, they ask questions, but six months later, they're still arguing with the guru, demanding more and more answers. Then, they say, when they're happy, they'll start. They never do.

They can't be blamed, of course. It's not them, really, it's that darn Inner Critic. It won't shut up! It keeps querying, doubting, criticising. Well, there's a way out. Bob Proctor says this – it isn't you. No, that dreaded Inner Voice is the collected memories of all the things parents have said, teachers, Scout Master, Professor, boss. All the negative stuff, the slanderous things about you and your abilities. You've studiously noted them over the years, rolled them all up and absorbed them into one giant Critic. It's all right, it's OK. You're allowed to stop, take a deep breath and scream: "Shut the hell UP!"

Unless you do, you're not going to move on. But then, that's the point, isn't it? The one thing that all that guff had in common is that they're saying you're a hopeless person, you're never going to get anywhere, do anything worthwhile. The only way to make that true is to stay exactly where you are. DON'T, whatever you do, make more money, get a better job, find an ideal partner, or start your own business, because that would prove the critics wrong. You don't want that, really, do you? They said negative stuff about you? They're right, aren't they? That's what you need to believe. Scarey stuff. To move on, to make that million or whatever your heart desires, you have to put your head above the parapet and risk it getting blown off. You have to be different and risk your friends being mean, not liking you anymore, or cutting you out of their circle. Worse, and this is the real killer, you have to face up and admit that whatever it is that you've been doing for the last few years, it maybe ISN'T what you need, at least in the sense that it's getting you what you really want. If your methods are working, fine, you don't need advice. So how are you investing that million? Oh, haven't got one yet? Well, keep ploughing your familiar furrow. Let me know when you find your pot of gold.

On the other hand, if you want something to change, get out of that field you're in now, and start working another furrow, maybe one where someone else can guide you and show you a better way and a better result. Hmm, another critic comes into play then. It's the one that says, 'I want my cake and eat it.' That's an expression from my childhood. It means, well, you've got a cake in your hand, and you like the look of it. You want to save it, maybe have it for tea, later. On the other hand, it looks so tempting, you'd like to eat it now. Fine. Your choice. Eat it now, or later, you decide. What you can't do is eat it now AND later. Life is full of decisions, and every time you decided something, you cut off the other option. If you want to be rich, you first must find the time. Maybe you like meeting your mates down the pub on a Friday night. That might have to stop for you, while you concentrate on something else. Maybe you like to be glued to the TV, watching 'CSI'. That might have to take a holiday too. You can't have it both ways, sorry. And that's another reason why people are still hanging around outside their cabin on the Titanic, instead of fleeing for the boats. Heck, what they really want is to get back to their fluffy eiderdowns and have more sleep, rather than sit, huddled in duffel coats on an icey sea. Sorry, you really do have to make a choice. You can't have it both ways. While you're thinking about which road you eventually will get around to taking, here's a final thought. People like being experts. Above all, they love to be right. If you ever did get to listen to that 'guru' and follow their advice, it might mean they'd have to own up and see that what they're doing is 'wrong'. Not wrong in the sense that they could do it, if they wanted. But 'wrong' in the sense that the road they're travelling has a destination and maybe it isn't the one they're telling us they want. If you want a different ending, then maybe you need a different road. You need to stop, back up, and change direction. That's uncomfortable too. In some sense, it feels like failure.

Now, every darn 'guru' from here to Timbktu will tell you that that 'failure' is a made-up concept you accept into your Inner Critic, but actually, it makes no sense at all. If you ever tried to ride a bike, you know that at first you sometimes fell off. Hell, when you were a baby you had to learn to walk, and that involved falling flat many times. We don't like doing that when we're adults'; we thing people are laughing at us. We like to be in control. Well, one unfortunate and maybe fatal consequence of that is that when the guru says, 'Right, this is the way to make a million - ', we not only start asking questions, we start putting in our own ideas. Hang about! Who's the person who actually is sitting on the bank account of a million dollars, again? It's the one on stage, suggesting ideas. If you aren't the person with the cash and the big house, how the hell do you know that his ideas, his 'system', his advice, won't work? And yet, that's what we say!

Get real! The 'Dragons' on the TV show 'Dragon's Den' are business people who all have successful businesses, maybe more than one, and they all have cash and money to spare to invest. If you dare to ask them for advice and one says, 'Right, what you need to do first is to start collecting paper clips', who are you to say that's wrong? If you were a 'Dragon', well then, fair enough, we'd listen to you. But if I want to know how to get rich, then forgive me, I'm going to listen to the person who's done it, not the one who's read all the books, but never bothered to put any of the advice into practice. In other words, if you really, really, really, want to improve your life, then you need to stop talking and start listening. You need to silence that unhelpful, interfering Inner Critic and create some space where you can actually hear what's being offered.

If you want success, SHUT UP!

Mike Scantlebury has written more than one article about achieving success. Some recent articles have been gathered together and put onto Kindle as a downloadble e-book. You can find it here.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

'News' media? News media bias!

The trouble with the so-called 'News' media in this country is that they can't handle anything that is actually new.
I mean, they know about the Loch Ness Monster, right? But if you told them that a giant reptile had been found in, say, Hillingdon Reservoir, they'd be lost for words. They wouldn't know how to react. Look what happened several years ago when there was an eathquake in Stoke-on-Trent. They knew about earthquakes in Chile; in Aberbizhan; in Iran. But Stoke? They didn't know how to handle it. Was it a joke?
They simply have very few categories. The Olympics? It's 'sport'. Last summer, I wrote a novel about the Olympics, BEFORE it happened. That wasn't 'news'. It wasn't 'sport'. Was it 'art'? Was it 'literature'? Better play safe, and not mention it at all.
This autumn I wrote a novel about David Cameron being kidnapped in Salford. It featured David Cameron's younger brother. He's got a brother?? The media couldn't handle it. Better not to mention it at all.
I blame cynicism. The problem is that most journalists learn at Journalism College to adopt an attitude of 'seen it all, been there, done that'. When you hit them with something that is actually 'new', then, it punctures their carefully constructed veneer. How can they be cynical about something they've never seen before? How can they say 'Seen it', when they haven't? How can they admit, 'Actually, that's a bit different'.
Better to play safe. Pretend you know what it is. And dismiss it.