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Picture the scene. TWO weeks in Florida, being exposed to some of the BEST customer service that the world can provide. In Disney world, even the toilet cleaners are called CAST MEMBERS and are as polite as anyone could be given the role they do.

On balance, Americans have high service levels, Disney and Universal et al take this to a new level. Imagine then my disgust at the APPALLING level of customer service on the flight back to the UK from Thomson, the holiday company.

I have been on a couple of Thomson Super Family holidays and they have always been exceptionally good. When I booked my family holiday to Florida and paid A LOT of money to go, I assumed my holiday experience was in good hands. How wrong could I be… sort of.

The booking experience at First Choice was excellent with great customer service. The flight from London to Orlando was OK but nothing special. The experience of picking up our travel itinerary from the reps including the Villa key and the car hire was adequate but could have done with more staff.

The we have two weeks of EXCEPTIONAL service from Disney and Universal and the general American customer service ethos.

On the last day we reluctantly packed our suitcases and head back to the Airport for the long trip home. This is when it all started to go wrong.

If you consider the service anyone has just had being in Disney parks for two weeks it is pretty fair to say that Thomson airlines have a lot to live up to when it comes to customer service. But it appeared it wasn’t something they wanted to TRY to live up to.

If you LOVE your job it will show, if you HATE your job it will show. My guess is the cabin crew on this flight home hated their jobs because they looked like a wet weekend in Skegness (apologies to those who think Skegness is a good day out :))

From the moment we boarded the plane (with LOTS of kids as it was Easter) most (but not all, to be fair) of the cabin crew simply could not be bothered to raise a smile in themselves let alone recognise that their customers were making judgements of them based on what they had experienced the previous two weeks.

The ‘meals’, and I use that term loosely, were all but thrown down when they were served. When the coffee and tea was served the lady who did it made ZERO eye contact and said TEA TEA TEA in such a way it made you think twice about saying Yes Please.  At one point the in flight entertainment (for those that didn’t pay £5 a seat for an ‘upgrade’ to be able to have access to a few extra movies) stopped working for everyone. After 15 minutes, their was no acknowledgement from the cabin crew as to why this had happened or what they were doing about it.  As a cabin crew member walked past my step son’s seat (12) he politely asked what was happening with it. Without even breaking stride she looked and just barked a reply, I Know….and walked on.

I later asked her what the situation was and got a similar, if not more focused reply.  All it required was a tannoy announcement saying the system was down and was being rebooted and all would have fine. But no, Thomson staff decided to do the 1980’s way.

As many of you may know, I fly A LOT in my job. Anything from Cathy Pacific, Emirates (where I am today in Dubai), British Airways and even the budget airlines, Ryan Air and Easy Jet.

I can say today that it would take A LOT for me to ever set foot on a Thomson flight again.

To not recognise the needs and mindset of your customers seems such a wasted opportunity for them. Maybe they need a reminder of customer services and HOW to treat people so the have a great experience when paying good money to fly with them.

If they come calling for some training, I may be able to help them but the training would have to take place in the UK first as I wouldn’t want to fly again until they had it sorted 🙂

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Wow…. Simply WOW.

When I quit my well paid job a while back now, I would never imagine that I would get to do what I am doing now and to the level I do it.

Having made the leap from the corporate world after 18 years, I have finally found what I am REALLY good at and what i REALY enjoy. Namely, being BACK in the Corporate world. This time though not as an employee but as a trainer and coach.

Knowing what pressures face staff and leaders in the Corporate world I am privileged and honoured to be able to travel the world and help people become better leaders and managers as they continue their journey.

My own business continues to grow and go from strength to strength. Later this I will be releasing further details of the 7 Elements of Leadership and who it can benefit.

My business goal is to make people happy AND successful (and usually in that order). 

As I write this I am into my 3rd out of 4 straight weeks of travel. 

Malaysia to Egypt to Norway. I am leaving Norway today, back home for 36 hours and then heading to China for a week.

I am VERY lucky to be doing this job but it all started with a vision of what I wanted to happen and then the action to make it so.

Life in the corporate world can be challenging but make no mistake, it is also great fun…. when you approach it the right way.

Bankers – Who wants to work in a place like this?

Bankers!. Modern day witches, the easy prey of journalists, target of hate by those suffering through the economic downturn.

 

What then of those that work there and those that are thinking of applying for jobs in the future?

A noble profession has turned into a dark word uttered by many when talking about how bad life is. It’s the bankers fault right?  Well yes it is…and isn’t.  At least not ALL bankers.

Firstly, many people are suffering as a result of the economy, not just because of how bad it is, but because of an expected life style due to the economic advancement through the early/ mid 90’s to late 2000’s.

IN this short time we had growth, advancement and a life style that would have been impossible had it not been for banks. Off the back of trading, economies grew and people (not all people though) enjoyed this new economy. 

With the crash yes people suffered and felt the pain and it was easy to blame the banks. But we all bought into this vision and benefited from the ‘good times’, no we have to get through the ‘bad times’. Clearly SOME bankers, (traders, regulators and CEO’s) made bad decisions that impacted far too may people.

So what of those that are left in banking? It is a highly pressurised business. Not just those in the trading floor, but those doing the support work in the back office and operations functions. These staff DO NOT get the £2,000,000 bonuses annually. I know, because I spent 18years at JPMorgan and was always excited when I read the paper (usually the Daily Mail in UK) about how much I would be getting, only to disappointed when the real figure was revealed by my then manager.

These back office staff do a hard job. They are asked to do more with less. This years 10/10 is next years 8/10. When asked what they do for a living they used to say with pride where they work, now they whisper it just in case someone overhears.

And this leads to an opportunity. An opportunity for leaders in the banking world to recognise that their current talent is feeling very challenged and may just walk away from the business (or wait for redundancy) and they also may not be able to attract the next TOP TALENT.

Never before has leadership at all levels been vital for this sector especially those in the back office functions who need to more with less.

Make no mistake about it. The world still needs banks and bankers. They contribute a lot to the economy as well from taxes to buying goods and services that then help the shops that are selling these. We do need more focus to ensure trading is done responsibly and may then we will see a return to banking, as a profession, to be a job to  be proud of. 

Okay, I admit it, my blogging posts have been a bit sparse in 2011. In my defence though I have been busier than I could ever have imagined. 

I made a major decision early in 2011 that changed my business so much my feet haven’t hit the ground since. I decided to focus on my passion (and where I have had the biggest success), as a corporate coach.

2011 saw me travel so much I am (almost) on first names terms with the UK Border Agency staff.

I have been so privileged to have travelled to Thailand, Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Russia, Greece, Norway, France, Spain and not forgetting Reading in the UK 🙂

In these countries I have coached and trained a wonderful group of people and seen them develop skills that will bring success to them, their families and their companies. This is why I love my job so much. 

I have worked with a range of companies including KPMG, BT, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Nomura Bank, BNP Paribas, Thomson Reuters, Jotun, Roche, Suzuki and many others.

In 2012, my diary is already full and I am working on a massive project that I will reveal more about soon.

So what of New Year Resolutions?

In 2010 (and previous years) I made a resolution but didn’t take the right action. In January 2011 I made a resolution and then took the action to make it happen. That is what led me to the success I have had so far.

So make HUGE goals for 2012 and then take the right action to make it happen.

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Yesterday I spent most of the day doing strategic planning for a massive project I am working on at the moment. I made great progress capturing all the information I needed and putting them into the right category then I hit a brick wall. I needed to finish the structure but I couldn’t put the final pieces of the puzzle together.

I had spent so long working my brain just wasn’t working effectively anymore. I, however, didn’t listen and kept working. The more I worked the less effective I became. The more I looked for the answer the more elusive the answer became.

In the end I conceded defeat and took my dog out for a walk.

It was a lovely evening and I always enjoy walking her. As a German Shepherd she needs lots of exercise and interaction. It was about 20 minutes into her walk when a thought popped into my mind. It was the solution I was looking for for my project and it seemed so obvious.

By not spending time looking for the answer and not thinking about it directly, I had given my brain the space it needed to think.

I wonder whether this is useful for me going forward. As I grow my business it can be easy to ‘just work’ and think you are being effective. But sometimes it takes a break to be more effective. Give your brain a chance to ‘think’ without having to think!

That’s one of the reasons I love walking my dog. It gives me that time to think without thinking.

 

 

 

 

Quick blog post as I realise that my 2011 blog posting is looking a bit sad.

 

Over the first three months of this year I have been working some incredible people and seeing major changes in their personal life and business success.

What has been the difference this year though from last year and the year before.

The people have still got the same knowledge they had before, they still have relatively the same skills as well. (although this is increasing daily too).

The difference is in their mindset. Suddenly despite all attempts of the negative events that can impact us all (and there are some pretty big ones so far this year) people have been focusing on possibilities. What COULD happen if we wanted it too enough?

Prior to this, peoples mindsets were sitting on limitations. Not doing anything because it might not work . But with a little awareness, the right knowledge and some powerful action suddenly people have turned their situation around into what is possible.

The only reason that success and happiness will not come to you is because you are rooted in your beliefs that it CANT come to you. But if you choose to accept that where you are may not be where you want to be and then take ACTION… Your whole life can change.

It can be scary, it can feel uncomfortable but what good is comfort to you if it = unhappiness and unsuccessful?

So take bold steps forward, decide where you want to be and go and make it happen… time is ticking and there is no time like the present..

 

Keep making the right choices for you, and those around you

….If you don’t now what it really is.

Positive thinking can often get misunderstood. As a proponent of positive thinking people often think of me as someone who sees the ‘good’ in everything and lives my life in some Walton / Little House on the Prairie way.

“When things happen that are not nice, I look on the bright side and always have a cheerful look on my face.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is important to not let little things constantly get to you. Things like the weather, work, kids, traffic etc. But there will be times when things happen and you simply cannot, in that moment, think of anything ‘positive’ about it.

Just before Christmas I learned my dad, who has just recovered from cancer, has now got lung cancer. When I put the phone down after hearing the news I certainly wasn’t leaping around the room being all ‘positive’ about it. This was bad news and I felt pretty sad and even shed a tear or two whilst keeping the news from my kids.

The power and benefit of positive thinking however meant that I was able to ‘process’ this news and respond in a more empowering way rather than allow the news to dominate my mood and drag me down to a place where I am of no use to anyone.

My dad, mum, wife and kids need me to be strong and putting too much energy and focus into wishing things like this didn’t happen would not change the reality of the situation. What really mattered was how I chose to respond.

Using positive thinking techniques I have accepted the news and as a family we are doing what we need to do to deal with this situation.

I have known friends over the last 2 weeks who have also had devastating news and no amount of positive thinking will take away the pain. But using positive thinking and TIME it can help end ‘suffering’ and being a victim to the event and allowing it to dominate the future.

In life pain is inevitable but suffering is optional

I hope that when you face challenging times in your own life you have the right mindset to deal with the event and I know from experience and practise that being a positive thinker BEFORE I ‘needed’ to be has helped me deal with this news.

Commuters face triple whammy on Return To Work: Freezing weather, flu, long wait to Easter | Mail Online.

..at least I would if I believed in ridiculous headlines like this one in the DAILY MAIL (click the link).

Just read the article but avoid believing in it. It’s one of those things that if we’re not careful can bring us down. REALLY DOWN.

Sure, I’d rather be on holiday in Barbados but as I’m not on holiday and will be working after a break I am going to do what I need to do to enjoy it.

One way of doing this is to think about what I am grateful for rather than believe headlines like this one.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be grateful that I GET to go to work (not GOT to go to work) and that I chose the work I do so and when that stops being fun I’ll make plans to change to something I do enjoy.

Enjoy your day tomorrow if it’s your first day back and don’t believe anything that will make you feel down.

 

Snow, Ice, Thaw, Hot, Too Hot, Rain, More Rain, Snow, Ice, Christmas

That was 2010 in nut shell for me…

So what does will 2011 hold? and will my goals be helped or hindered by events I have no control over?

What about YOU?

Some people will make their new year resolutions tonight, wake with a hangover tomorrow and with the best of intentions, try to live by these resolutions for as long as possible.

  • Give up smoking
  • Get fitter
  • go to the gym more often (that wouldn’t be hard as I hardly went after March this year)
  • Be happier
  • stop moaning
  • get perfect job
  • get perfect partner
  • etc etc etc

The challenge with this is that when LIFE takes over and we settle back to our routine, it is easy to continue the habits that we so want to break out of.

Life will throw things at us that we can’t control and then we revert back to OH WELL maybe next time (maybe NYE Dec 31 st 2011).

Do remember that your new years resolution should account for HOPES, DREAMS and WHAT YOU DO WANT but also a plan for what your response will be when things don’t plan out as hoped.

I don’t ‘wish’ you a great 2011 because things will happen you have NO CONTROL over. Whether it’s the weather (always good to moan about :)) your boss, your partner, the kids or even a traffic jam when you are in a rush.

2011 will hold challenges as well as great times and it’s up to YOU to choose the best way to respond.

I wish you the best mindset for 2011 and ensure you enjoy the journey all the way to Dec 31st 2011. That IS in your control.

Until next year 🙂

Darren

 

New Year New You Revolution.

It never fails to amaze me how often i used get to the end of a year and look back at what I have achieved with a sense of pride mixed with ‘I could have done more’.

As a coach I often work with clients who set themselves goals and hold themselves accountable for them. As we approach another year (2011 is 2 days away as a type this) I have just finished writing my own goals for the year, what I’ll achieve and how I’ll feel when I have done it. I work with my own coach to ensure my goals are HUGE and CHALLENGING and will enhance my life to be better and better.

Many people will have their own resolutions as we approach year end. For some they’ll be planned out, for others it’ll be a fleeting thought at 11.59pm on 31st December whilst preparing for a hangover the following day.

As we enter January life will go back to normal, the usual day to day challenges will [still] be there and it is easy to fall back into the old patterns of thinking, behaviour and action that got us the results we have in our life today.

If you want something different then you need to be doing something different.

So what will you resolution be?

Will it be well thought through? Will it be sustainable? Will you keep going and achieve it at the first sign of pressure?

It all depends on YOU!

Yes external events will cause you to be challenged but your success or failure in achieving your resolution is ALWAYS down to you.

Make sure you set goals that will inspire you to take action, notice what will happen when you achieve them and what will happen if you don’t achieve it.

But most of all decide to do something that gets you a positive result that you can measure so in December 2011 you can look back and say to yourself… WOW look what I achieved. Turn your resolution into a revolution and actually DO something rather than fall into the trap of having the best intentions but falling by the end of January