Rise to the top

I make mistakes; I fall. I get up, and I make more mistakes again the next day. It’s called life. When people say I live to learn, or I learn to live – they are both true.

Then, one day, I get up and I all those trips to the kirb make me bounce higher than ever before.

This is the day I call success.

This is the day before I do it all over again. The only difference is next time I fall, I’ll fall higher than ever before.

Often I imagine life’s journey like the kid on the trampoline – the deeper the fall, the higher the bounce. What limits us from rising to the top is simply, us. Our mindsets, our insecurities, our lack of fight and determination.

We are not defined by our past circumstances, or even today. We are defined by the thoughts we have, and the decisions (or lack of decisions) we make each day.

Great companies are not built by one man, but by a team of people who share a common thread, or purpose that doesn’t just create value, but also retains it. Little by little; piece by piece; brick by brick; This is how you can rise to the top in any aspect of life.

The key is to consistently provide value with persistence; and with time, grow.

Why I love Pocket.

I’ve recently discovered a new app that has made saving webpages of interest 100 times easier to keep tabs on. What app, do I hear you say?

No, it’s not WhatsApp.

It’s a little magic gem called Pocket.

Pocket is a fairly new app that allows you to save an article, or page of interest by the click of one button. Rather than fiddling about with drop down menus, and moving your mouse across the computer screen, only to yet again click another button. Pocket, asks no questions. It just saves.

Integrated with over 300 apps, including Flipboard – One of my favourite ways to sift through a bunch of content. Pocket certainly makes life easier, and simplifies a process that computer makes complicated.

Who has time to wait four seconds before a page can be saved, or cares enough to title every page they want to save and decide where on my overcrowded desktop, it should go.

In some respects this is similar to Evernote, however; I find pocket a tad more user-friendly, with a better finish. With pocket you can also access your bits of information and pages later, from any smart phone or tablet device.

Well, I’ve found a new love. What about you? Have you heard of Pocket before? If not, you can check it out right here. Let me know your thoughts on this newbie.

Two important standards for Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur I have faced and continue to face many challenges in life. Solving problems, is one of the areas I thrive in regardless to whether those problems are successfully solved, or not.

Here are a few thoughts and challenges that help me in times when a desired outcome seems uncertain…

What standard have you placed in your life? What expectations do you have? Good, or bad? What level of excellence have you decided to incorporate in everything you do, if any.

Standards are really a set of decisions that are not based on your circumstances, but on the level or goal you put in place before-hand.

A building is only as strong as the structure you surround it with, so ask take yourself back to the beginning of this post and ask yourself:

What are my standards in life?

The reason new business owners are encouraged to write a business plan is about more than grabbing the bank managers attention. Writing a business plan or indeed the social media strategy, as I tell my clients, is for your benefit.

Without a clear understanding of:

  • who you are?
  • where you are going?
  • what are you going to do when you get there?
  • why you do what you do?

The chances of reaching your full potential are simply capped.

It’s extremely hard to go somewhere you have never been before with no directions. Have you tried jumping in your car and visiting a friend in their new home 30 miles down the road? It doesn’t take much to get lost when you have no clear directions or roadmap to assist you in an emergency.

So how do you get there? How do you go somewhere you’ve never been before in business terms?

  • Design your thoughts.

There is a proverb that says, as a man thinks, so is he. You are what you think, so to go somewhere you’ve never been before you must close your eyes and imagine.

  • Get along someone who’s made the trip before.

When I get lost in the car, I call a friend who is good with directions, cars and knows the area. This applies to anything you want to achieve in life, get along someone who already has achieved your goal and hang around them long enough, and glean from them.

About the author

Starting business at the age of 12, I built my very own newspaper round, when there was no newspaper rounds for sale at that time. From knocking on people’s doors I built a newspaper round with over 120 customers paying me to deliver their newspaper daily. By the time I sold my newspaper round on I had over 160 customers enlisted. As a published writer I continue to write articles, reviews, opinion columns, blogs and other promotional and targeted material for local news, business and media agencies. My latest project Tailor Made Social is a reflection of my passion for social media, brand marketing and helping business owners to be better communicators and improve the over all quality of customer service, whilst helping business survive globalization.  If you would like to find out more, or attend one of my workshops, check us out here and here.

River Island: Guilty before charged.

River Island, Dublin, Ireland
Picture supplied by vivido of Flickr.

Before publishing this post, I swayed in the direction I would take this post’

1. From the frustrated shopper who had just experienced another disappointing service from retailer, River Island.

2. Taking the objective point of few, sympathizing with retailers who, perhaps have been under the same economy pressure and doing the best they can to keep their stores afloat.

I have to say after two painful experiences with one retailer I’m more swayed to the first option because regardless to the pressure these stores may be facing, we ‘the UK consumer’ have been subject to the provision of bad customer service way longer than the 2008 recession.

There is no excuse for the way some of the nations biggest retailers have treated many of their customers, advertising half truths, using loopholes and all kinds of trickery just to gain cash from the average shopper, without so much as a ‘thank you for choosing to shop with us.’

According to a survey from Clear Returns, 67% of surveyed respondents have returned items online, and over 40% say they have returned several items. The post, which you can read here goes on to suggest that a large portion of consumers are committing fraud and retailers are doing themselves no favours, by giving consumers discounted items and placing tags on the inside of garments.

Whilst I appreciate there may be a fair amount of this behavior going on, and their best intentions are to address this area. I think it would be naive of us to think that all consumers are committing fraud are to blame for the growth in returns made.

The 67% of folks who have returned items, did they admit to committing fraud? Or where they simply within their rights of the Sale of Goods Act?

In less than one month, I have been in two River Island stores, once to try to replace a damaged top (that I absolutely loved and found by accident, when out shopping with a friend) which was sadly damaged under the armpit after the first light wash – after following the instructions on the garment itself.

My second trip was yesterday, with a friend who like many UK citizens was reluctant to return his worn hoodie that he bought less than two weeks ago and had already started to bobble on the arm after two wears. In this particular case, my friend had looked at the label inside to discover the material was no made of cotton, but a cheaper material which became apparent in a matter of days.

On both occasions, we were met by reluctant and rude members of store management after the counter staff flew like the wind to find them before they even looked at the receipt and goods for return. There is certainly a pattern happening in River Island – And perhaps the retailer are receiving a higher return rate that usual, however, this doesn’t omit them to treat the consumer guilty before charged.

In my own experience, the girl flew to get the manager before I could so much as explain my reason, other than to ask me a yes or no question. Have you worn this out? In my mind I hadn’t worn this on a night out, no. It was for work use. In a split second, the girl was off and there was no way of knowing what she had said to the manager because it was out of sight, but I knew it wasn’t right when he came flying towards me a few minutes later. The angry store manager proceeded to, no word of a lie, shout rather loudly in front of the whole store, calling me a liar and telling me that ‘this top had been worn on a night out’. Again, I bought the top for work, not clubbing; And I couldn’t even tell you the last time I went clubbing. I work night and day. Cheeky monkey!!

If I wasn’t stunned speechless by this manager’s abuse I would have explained as I have in this article. Instead, I found myself forced to defend myself blind to whatever information he was given as if being questioned by police. Screaming inside; ‘I’ll gladly take a lie detector test!’

Needless to say the top I originally hoped to replace, was returned as a ‘goodwill’ gesture after his ten minute rant of insult. Later to find that I too was well within my consumer rights, and River Islands returns policy. Might I also remind us I was looking to replace the top, not return it.

The same happened to my friend when he reluctantly returned his hoodie yesterday, disappointed by the poor quality of his product from a store he thought he could trust. This time the manager was a woman and after the same 10 minute break to whisper in front of the consumer came back with the lame excuse, ‘what’s wrong with it? It is just the kind of material.’ After a few huffs and puffs, I watched on as she gave exactly the same spiel as the Glasgow manager, ‘Ok, well I’ll return it as a goodwill gesture this time, but if it happens again I won’t.’

Are you now recording each customer now? I wondered. No need for a police force when the managers of River Island are quite happy to do their job for them.

What kind of excuse is, ‘it’s just the material’ for rejecting the consumer’s right to ‘reject’ an item that is not of satisfactory quality under the Sale of Goods Act?

Is this low quality the kind of quality we can expect from River Island now? Personally I’d rather pay ten times as much for my clothes and shop somewhere were the consumer is not treated like a criminal.

At the end of the day, retailers have a business to run and yes they shouldn’t be taken advantage of by the consumer. Certainly not. However; this coin flips two ways, and they also need to learn to appreciate the consumers who go into their store and choose to spend with them – especially in today’s economy.

I must also say that many stores, including Next, Boots and several other high-street retailers have continued to improve in this area of service, (based on my own experience) which Mary Portas helped highlight to the UK consumer over a year ago with her documentary ‘Secret Shopper.’

Never the less, it seems there are some stores are either getting worse, or have a long way to go.

Do you have a good, or bad customer service story that you would like to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts and finding on this subject below.