Friday, 27 April 2012

Lessons learned from the dying

Ask anyone how they would prefer to die, and the answer always comes back, “Peacefully, in my sleep.”
Bronnie Ware shares the lessons she has learned
from of working with the dying in her new book
The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

No one knows this more than Bronnie Ware. After many years spent working in palliative care, tending to the needs of the dying, she was moved enough to share her experiences in a blog called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

The article became an internet phenomenon, and was read by more than three million people around the globe in its first year. So many requests flooded in from people wanting to know more about her experiences, that she has put them together in a personal story called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.
The author, who has also had a fairly colourful and diverse past herself, shows that it is possible for all of us, if we make the right choices, to die with peace of mind. In this book, she highlights the impact of these regrets and shows how we can positively address these issues while we still have the time.

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Bronnie Ware:
1.   I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
"This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it."

2.   I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

3.   I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

4.   I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
"Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."

5.   I wish that I had let myself be happier.
"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."

If ever there was a rallying call to “Seize the day", then it's here in this book.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Jelly breaks the mould

The sheer joy of realising, when the alarm goes off, that you don’t have to join the daily commute to the office, makes working from home a dream come true.
But even though I’m glad the daily grind is behind me, sometimes I miss the buzz and the chatter, and even the comfort of working among other people.

That’s why I took myself off to Norwich Jelly on Monday.  In practical terms you’re picking up your laptop and mobile (plus pen and notepad) from one room  and setting them down in another room. The difference is that the first room – your workspace – contains just you. The second room, which is in the centre of Norwich, contains people – like-minded workers  who, from time to time, like to come out of hiding and sit among fellow human beings.
Norwich Jelly is a once-a-month workhub, hosted by Business Revolution at the King’s Centre, Norwich.  It’s free, but you have to book your half-day session in advance, and places are limited to 10 per session. If you like the experience of getting out of the house, then you can go one step further and rent desk space from just one day a week, or go the whole hog and make it your permanent “office”.

So there I was on Monday morning, waiting at the park and ride. It felt a little strange setting off on the bus, just like the old days, but it felt good – as if I had become a proper person again. I did the coffee thing  in the King’s Centre cafe and took the lift up to Business Revolution on the second floor.
A few people were already there, beavering away on their laptops. I wasn’t sure of the protocol, so I just sat down at a free space, smiled across at the person opposite me, plugged in my laptop, connected to the free wi-fi, and away I went. It took a bit of getting used to, working around other people again, but the good thing about Norwich Jelly is that you have to work. There are none of the usual distractions, like putting out the washing, playing with the cat, making snacks.

To ensure  I used every precious Jelly minute to the full, I prepared the night before by writing a to do list. As I worked through it, people came and went, then Sophie, one of the organisers came over and chatted. That broke the ice and soon we were checking out each other’s skills and exchanging business cards.
Norwich Jelly is not the place to pitch your business or to sell your products – you will be politely shot down in flames if you try to treat it as such – but it is a chance to chat to other freelancers, home workers and small business owners. A bit of soft networking goes on and I came away with some useful leads and the offer of help with my website in exchange for some content writing.

Did I get much done? A fair amount but, more importantly, I met some like-minded people and connected with the world of work again. The four hours – I was booked in from 9.30-1.30 – went far too quickly. Would I do it again? The date’s already in the diary.
Where does Jelly come from? It was started in 2006 by two New York freelancers who were bemoaning  the drawbacks of working alone. They decided to invite fellow freelancers to bring their laptops and work in their apartment for the day. The story goes They called it Jelly, as they were eating Jelly beans at the time, according to the story. However, I like to think of it in a different way. If you take our word for jelly, you get jam, and it’s a bit like everyone in a room jamming together…. but quietly.

  • The next Norwich Jelly event is on Monday, May 14. There are two session: 9.30-13.30 and 13.30 to 17.30. Find out more at Norwich Jelly. The King’s Centre is easy to find and Business Revolution in on the second floor. The cafĂ© serves fantastic coffee, cakes and meals, and there is good parking nearby.
  • There are Jelly events all over the UK. Here’s the site UK Jelly
  • For more details about hiring rooms at Business Revolution, go to

Why not wobble along!

Image: Michael Lorenzo

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Finding a Future that Fits
Louise Presley-Turner
(Hay House Publishers)

If you want to make changes, but can’t afford the time or money to employ a life coach, then this is the book for you.
It’s not just a self-help book, it’s also a wake-up call to take stock of your life, get off the treadmill and reach for your dreams. Finding a Future that Fits urges you to become your own fairy godmother, to break free from “self-created comfort zones”, to grow, learn new things and enjoy a fulfilled life.

As well as being a leading life coach, author Louise Presley-Turner has the gift of being able to speak directly to the reader. It’s as if she’s in the room with you, urging you to be honest with yourself, to ask for what you want and to believe it will happen.
One of the interesting things about this book is that the author draws heavily on examples from her own life. She too had a job she didn’t enjoy, and never seemed to have enough money or time to spend with her family. Her wake-up call literally landed on her doorstep, and after that she just couldn’t  ignore the fact that things had to change.

And her enthusiasm is catching. The way she writes makes you feel as if we’re in this journey together, but she’s just a bit further along the road. She’s standing there at the next crossroads, shouting encouraging words to you to keep on going. She doesn’t let you believe for one minute that failure is an option.
Author and life coach Louise Presley-Turner
can help you find the right blueprint
Presley-Turner (left) shows you how to set goals that will stretch you, how to set goals that are realistic and how to set the goals that you really want. She also urges the reader to stop blaming past experiences for their present reality. “You are not responsible for the way you were raised, but you are responsible for what you do now.”

The book draws on tried-and-trusted techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy  (challenging limiting beliefs,) neuro-linguistic programming (visualisation and affirmation) as well as meditation and prayer – but wraps them up in a freshly written, easy-to-follow handbook.
The book is broken down into eight chapters of self discovery, which include: taking stock of your life right now; assessing how your beliefs affect your life; turning the volume down on your Inner Critic and allowing your Inner Guide to have a voice; uncovering your own unique blueprint, and learning to face your fears head-on.

Each session ends with a set of exercises and homeplay – steps to put your new learning in place. Far from being a tedious part of the book, which you just have to ‘get through’, the author clearly explains the value of these sections, and clarifies further with examples from her own life.

I found it best to start by reading the book through from start to finish – don’t worry, you too will be carried along on a tide of enthusiasm – as this helped me to follow the logical order of events. Then you can begin to work on the individual sessions.
This is a great little book if you're stuck in a rut and don't know what to do next. Why wait any longer? As the author says: “There is nothing holding you back now other than you!”

Friday, 16 March 2012

Of course I'm bloody stressed, what do you expect?

What's your rating? Ignore the signs of stress at your peril.
Picture Stuart Miles (see link below)
People often refer to stress as the scourge of modern-day living, as if we, and only we, own the right to feeling stressed-out all the time.

 Well, imagine how stressed you might feel if you were living through the Blitz during the Second World War, and your son had been reported Missing in Action.  Think what it might have been like having to make ends meet during the general strike of 1926 or the 1930s’ depression, when state welfare didn’t exist. Picture yourself as a poor Victorian living in damp, filthy conditions seeing one baby die after another, and sending your nine-year-old off to work a 16-hour day, six days a week.

 Flash back still further to the late Middle Ages. You’ve just endured the Great Famine, and what happens next? The Black Death, that’s what. And all this suffering is set against the backdrop of England and France locking swords in the Hundred Years’ War. You might have been forgiven for thinking someone up there had it in for you.

 So, no matter how much we think we have a monopoly on stress, it’s really nothing new. How we deal with it, is another matter.

I won’t bore you with a list of potential sources of stress, we all react differently, anyway. Some people love Christmas, others agonise about it from August onwards; retirement could be a release from a hated job for one person, or a life event that another might dread.
The one common factor is that too much stress  is harmful to your physical and mental well-being and is potentially life-threatening.

Types of stress
So what causes stress? Well there are two sources, stress from within and stress from outside.

Inside stress is very much down to our personality type and how we react to events. Some people can manufacture stress from the slightest of problems. I worked with someone who blew a gasket if his computer took longer than usual to boot up; another person might use that time to flick through the paper, and resume work when the computer was ready.
Outside stress is something that is imposed on us, often beyond our control, such as being stuck in a traffic jam when you’re already late for work;  waiting at the supermarket checkout with one item, while the person in front brings out “the vouchers”;  dealing with a demanding toddler; being bullied at work.

These daily stresses don’t go away at the end of the day, they stay with us and build up over time. And it  is this daily accumulation of stress – chronic stress – that does the most damage.
One of the main threats that stress poses to our physical health is over-production of the hormone cortisol. During periods of prolonged stress, the body produces high levels of cortisol over long periods of time. The brain resets itself to treat these levels of cortisol as normal when, in fact, they are causing great long-term harm to the body.  

Remaining in this state for a long time is likely to jeopardise health and lead to lifestyle diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, lowered immunity and some cancers.

Cortisol, which is also released in small amounts every time you drink a cup of coffee, interferes with the body’s metabolism. This is why being stressed can also lead to weight gain. Apart from stress-induced cravings for sweet and fatty foods, higher levels of stress are linked to greater levels of abdominal fat, which is believed to have greater health risks than fat stored in other parts of the body.

Effects of stress
Most people suffering from stress are affected in four different areas. These include:

Feelings:  Irritability, anxiety, fear, feeling worried, miserable or tearful, apathy or agitation, lowered self-esteem.

Thoughts:  Becoming forgetful, indecisive, confused, unable to plan the future; using up energy in worrying rather than tackling problems; being convinced something awful is going to happen; inflexibility, desire to stay in control.

Behaviour:  Poor time management, headless chicken syndrome; taking on too much at work and allowing this to spill over into personal time; cutting down on enjoyable pursuits, such as going to the theatre; losing touch with friends, blaming others; turning to drink, drugs, sleeping pills or tranquillisers to curb anxiety.

Sensations:  Aches and pains, especially headache and stomach aches; tension (neck and shoulder); minor niggles occurring regularly; disturbed sleep; changes in appetite for food or sex; ulcer; flare-up of stress-related psoriasis, asthma and eczema.
If you can tick symptoms in all four boxes, you are definitely suffering from stress.

Tackling stress
So what’s next? Well the first thing I would suggest, before starting to unravel what’s going on in your head, is to make three small changes until you start to feel better:

  1. Cut out alcohol. The only exception to this is if you can stop drinking after one glass. If like most of us you can’t, too much alcohol will make things worse and disrupt your sleep patterns.  One 250ml glass of 12pc wine is three units. The recommended safe level in the UK  for women is 14 units per week, and for men it’s 21 units. If you can stick to this, carry on. If not, give up for now. 
  2. Cut out white carbs. White bread, pasta, rice, refined sugar, even mashed potato all cause your blood sugar levels to soar, which is swiftly followed by a slump, making it harder to stay on top of things. It will help you if you  give them up for now.
  3. Get some fresh air every day. Putting some distance between yourself and the problem by getting out of the house, away from your desk, out of the building, is soothing for the mind and body. The extra bonus is a dose of vitamin D which, in turn, helps your body to absorb calcium.

 The next task is to root out the causes of stress so you can begin to tackle them.  People who are stressed often feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start to sort out their lives. Prioritising, making lists and using a diary, all help to make life more manageable and less confusing. The simple act of making a start to unravel the confusion helps to lighten the load and lower stress.

So, make a list of all the things you regard as stressful in your life, no matter how small, and write them down.  Seeing it all down in black and white gives you an overview of what is happening in your own particular here and now.

Your list will probably reveal that you are reacting to everyday problems  in unhelpful ways, which needs to change. So, instead of screaming at the car in front when you get stuck in a traffic jam, think of it as a chance to have a bit of time to yourself, maybe to plan your weekend.  Remember, how you think about something  will inevitably change how you feel about it.

Be honest with yourself
Sit down with your list and, item by item, ask yourself the following questions and answer them honestly:
What is actually happening to me now? “I hate my job and my boss is an idiot”.
What is not happening? (Highlight the good things, as well as the bad). “I’m not drinking”, but “I’m not taking enough care of my diet.”
What are other people doing or not doing? This highlights the fact that other people are responsible for their actions NOT you.
What are you thinking? “I’m always treated like a doormat by my family.”
What are you feeling? “I feel sad and resentful.”
What are you doing? You should dig deep and give an honest appraisal of your behaviour. “I bite my tongue and reward myself with cakes and biscuits as a treat.”
What would you prefer to be happening? This is the crunch question and should help you clarify what changes need to be made. “I want more help around the house”; “I would like to eat more healthily”.

Feeling they have no control over their lives is one of the biggest sources of stress for most people. By answering these questions honestly, you can begin to take stock of all aspects of your life. Use your answers as a guide to the changes you must make in your thinking and behaviour.

 Another helpful tip is to try learning the language of self-responsibility. This can put you firmly in the driving seat when it comes to making choices. Substituting words or phrases such as ‘I choose to’  for ‘I have to’, puts you in touch with the hidden choices you have in any situation. So, “I have to do this job” becomes “I choose to do this job”, which puts a completely different perspective on the situation.

Do what you can for your physical health. Bring some order into your life.  Accept that  you can’t control some events, but you can change how you feel about them. Put all this together and you are well on the way to effective stress management.

Too much stress leads to burnout – a highly dangerous situation. I will deal with recognising burnout in a later post.
Image link: Stuart Miles' portfolio

Saturday, 3 March 2012

I was about to procrastinate, but I think I'll leave it till tomorrow

Right on time: Mick Jagger may have
belted out "Time is on My Side", but we
all know time won't wait around for ever.

Picture: 2001 Paul Smith/Featureflash/Crestock
Those of you old enough to remember The Rolling Stones in their heyday, will recall Mick Jagger belting out  “Time is my side.... yes it is”. Well, for most of us, “no, it isn’t”.

We all have things to do , and there’s nothing like that satisfying feeling of getting the job done. But if all it took to spur us into action was the prospect of a warm glow of smugness,  then the word “procrastinate “ wouldn’t exist.

Procrastination is not about laziness, it’s so much more complicated than that. In fact, the more I delve into the subject, the more I realise that people who repeatedly “put off till tomorrow what could be done today”, have a host of emotional side-issues weighing them down.

See if you recognise yourself in the following list:
·         You spend a lot of time thinking about what you need to do, without actually doing it.
·         You leave whatever needs doing until the last minute because: “I do my best work under pressure.”
·         “I‘ll do it tomorrow,” you say, but in reality you mean some distant time in the future.
·         You make deals with yourself. “Ill go to the gym when Ive lost a bit of weight.”
·         Displacement activities start to get out of control; for example, you spring-clean the house before sitting down to do the dreaded pile of paperwork.
·         You do all the good bits first to help you gear up for the job you really don’t want to do. But as you start to enjoy yourself, you feel less and less like tackling it. So you put it off to another day.
·         Your antennae are on full alert to any excuse to delay or stop doing the job altogether. Then you claim to have lost your motivation.
·         You create the illusion of getting on with things. Suppose you have a pile of paperwork or bills to tackle. You start by tidying your desk, then you tidy the room because you “can’t work in a mess”.  This convinces you that you’ve been working on the project, even though you haven’t actually started it.
·         You make excuses by putting yourself down. Phrases such as: “ Im lazy,” “I’m a slow starter,” or “I’m a hopeless case,” are all ways of getting in first before other people start criticizing you. That’s a sure sign you have a real fear of failure.
·         You wait until you feel motivated instead of biting the bullet and getting on with things.
·         You decide to let sleeping dogs lie, and do nothing about a bad situation for fear of the consequences.
·         You put off doing something  that would actually enhance your life, for fear of not being able to handle the success or pleasure it may bring. This is a form of self-punishment: “I don’t deserve it, so I won’t make it happen.”

Now, why would anyone deliberately avoid doing something that makes them feel better or gets them the recognition they deserve? It doesn’t make sense. There have to be other things going on to cause this self-defeating behaviour. And there are. Here are three reasons why people can’t break the habit of putting things on hold.

Anxiety or fear: Some people spend their lives avoiding anything they think might be a threat to their self-esteem. So, they put off asking the boss for more money in case he/she says their work doesn’t merit a pay rise. They  put off auditioning for the local panto “until next year”, for fear they won’t get a part. And they put off learning all kinds of life-enhancing skills because they are convinced  they’ll make a fool of themselves.

Low boredom threshold: This type of person puts off doing things because they can’t  stand the boredom, frustration, hard work or discomfort that doing a specific job entails. They want quick fixes and they don’t want to make an effort. The trouble is, the unpaid bills, untidy garden or calls to the credit card company don’t get sorted, and life becomes more and more frustrating as unfinished jobs pile up.
Rebellion brought on by anger and resentment is another reason for using delaying tactics. Taking too much time to do a job is a way of getting back at someone because you resent them telling you what to do. Such an attitude almost always backfires. You are labelled “difficult” at work and get passed over for promotion; or you lose friends and alienate family, who can’t put up with your constant harping and unreliability.

So what’s the answer? For really chronic cases, the best course of action is probably to get professional help. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a tried and tested course of action for dealing with the type of negative thoughts which could be holding you back. A life coach or counsellor can help identify where the irrational thinking comes from and work with you to make changes.
If, however, you’re in a temporary rut and struggle to get motivated, a good place to start is to bring some order to the table.
·         Draw up a list with all the jobs that need to be done in order of priority from high to low.
·         Banish distractions and stick rigidly to the tasks in hand. Do not cherry pick from the list, but deliberately tackle the most unpleasant jobs first. This improves your mood as you work your way down the list.
·         Finish one task before moving on to the next. This is good for your self-esteem as well as having a practical purpose.  If a genuine obstacle prevents you from finishing a job, make it a priority on the next day’s list.
·         If a job is too big and complicated, chunk it down to smaller, bite-sized pieces and tackle it a little at a time.
·         And finally, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get everything done.

After all, tomorrow is another day.

Friday, 24 February 2012

The girl next door who got lucky

Family first: Victoria Beckham at 
Simon Fuller's induction into the
Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Now, Victoria Beckham is not known for dropping pearls of wisdom from those pouty lips. In fact, the former Spice Girl rarely speaks, other than to drop clangers along the lines of “David likes to borrow my knickers.” *

But I was struck by her self-effacing honesty in a recent interview in Guardian Weekend. She admits that, despite having an entourage to help her,  she sometimes struggles with the demands of her life.  “It got to the point, just before Christmas, when for the first time ever, I wasn’t actually sure I could cope,” she says.
I imagine jaws up and down the land dropped open in disbelief at the idea that life could be a struggle for  Victoria. After all, at the latest count, the Beckhams were reported to be worth around  £165m. However, juggling life with a new baby, three boys, a high-profile husband and a career as a fashion designer is still a tall order, no matter how much you’ve got in the bank.

Wealth alone is not the secret of great happiness, although many people believe it is. Most of us have said at one time or another: “If I could only win the lottery, all my problems would be solved.” Well, winning the lottery would solve your money problems, fair enough, and paying off debts does bring peace of mind. But once money worries have been dealt with, having a mountain of cash won’t guarantee a happy life.
Getting the most out of wealth requires wisdom, or emotional intelligence, which is something you can’t buy, but it is something that can be taught. Lottery winner Michael Carroll, of Swaffham, Norfolk, was just 19 when he hit the £9.7million jackpot back in 2002. He was unemployed at the time and had already had a few run-ins with the law, in fact he collected his winnings wearing an electronic tag for being drunk and disorderly.  However, Carroll  insisted he would spend the money carefully  - he  just wanted a modest house near a lake, where he could go fishing.

Surrounded by hangers-on, Carroll blew the money on houses, fast cars, drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, quad bikes and gold jewellery. By 2006, he was in prison for affray. Two years ago he was officially declared bankrupt and tried to get his old job back as a binman.  Last year, he attempted suicide twice and is now living on benefits. One week ago, he was back in court for shoplifting booze and a sandwich.
To be fair to Michael Carroll, he didn’t have the greatest start in life. When Carroll was just 18 months old, his father was sentenced to 11 years in prison for stabbing a couple at a dance.  Michael’s parents separated when he was seven and he was only 10 when his father died. He also had a number of stepfathers  – one of whom beat the young Michael and locked him in a room for hours.

Small wonder then, when he got his hands on a lot of money, he used it to finance several years of self-destructive hedonism. He has, however, taken something from the experience. When asked in a interview on BBC Look East  what winning the lottery  had taught him, he replied: “You don’t trust no-one.”
Victoria, by contrast, had a very stable upbringing. She once said: “I’m the girl next door who got lucky,” and this, no doubt, has helped her form a set of values which she adheres to, no matter how huge the size of her wealth.

Her core value is “children first”, which is why she and David decided to stay put in LA and turn down the offer of a move to Paris, even though it would have been good for both their careers.  Victoria lists her second joy as working on her fashion label: “I was never going to be the best singer and it wasn’t my passion,” and in this moment of insight, she reveals the secret of a happy life.
It doesn’t come from money,  nor does it come from fame. Happiness stems from the ability to align what you do with what you are – not what you, or other people, think you should be. It’s called authenticity, and it gives you the staying power to keep going, even when times get rough. Authenticity helps us live our lives with few regrets.

And no amount of money can buy that.

*Channel 4 Big Breakfast TV program in 2000

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Enter the Dragon with web-fuelled wisdom

At your fingertips: The web puts the whole world in your hands
and former Dragon Doug Richard shows you how to use it.
Image: nokhoog_buchachon

Doug Richard, of Dragon’s Den fame,  likes people to choose their words carefully  – he’s an entrepreneur  with no time for business jargon. Pepper your language with phrases such as core competencies, incentivise or value proposition,  in the hope of impressing Mr Richard, and he’ll quickly put you straight.
He’s a man after my own heart. Throughout my many years as a sub-editor, the greatest challenge has been to make sense of business stories, to strip away the “blue sky thinking”, the “best practices” and “paradigms”, and turn them into language everyone understands. I don’t really know why some business people think it’s clever to use words and phrases that leave the rest of us feeling bewildered – or maybe that’s exactly the point.

Well, welcome to the 21st century. If you want to succeed in business today, you need stripped back, plain speaking. Words that sum up what your business is about will help you to soar to the top of search engine results, thereby attracting new custom.  And here’s the really interesting bit, everyone can learn how to do it.
Doug Richard, a former Dragon and founder of School for Start-ups, is touring the country with his Web Fuelled Business bootcamp.  These one-day events are designed for small businesses, entrepreneurs, social enterprises, even lone writers like myself, anyone who wants to use the internet to get themselves noticed.

By attending one of these events, you not only get access to this entrepreneur’s vast wealth of experience and knowledge, but you get it for free. And contrary to received wisdom, which says there is no such thing, you get a free lunch thrown in as well.
“It’s very easy to be invisible on the internet,” says Mr Richard, who during the course of the day explains the “Secrets of Search” and unveils ways to optimise your website. “At the beginning the goal is not just to get a high ranking... the goal is to be noticed at all”

This, he explains, takes time – months rather than minutes – and anyone who promises you otherwise, is lying.  Furthermore, there’s no point in putting off the most vital element of your 21st century business, building a website. “So often people say to me they are going to put aside a year to build a really good website, but because they expect it to take up a lot of their time, they’re going to put off starting it for another year. Well, In that case, it doesn’t take them one year to build a website, it takes them two.”
There’s no time like the present, seems to be the message. And, as if to drive the point home, James Dening, former head of enterprise sales at Amazon, showes us how an e-commerce strategy can be planned and executed in less than a day. He also demonstrates how to set up a free working e-commerce website in a matter of minutes.

However, it’s all very well learning how to attract customers...  but how do we keep them? The answer is simple, says Mr Dening, and it lies in the company’s delivery and returns policy. Using Amazon as an example, he demonstrates how a bad experience (microwave ordered through Amazon blows up after three days) can be turned into a very positive experience (new microwave arrives the following day and a courier arranges a time to collect the faulty item). Net result? Amazon gains a customer for life.
“If you were cut in half, would you have the words ‘Amazon’ running through you?”  ventured one of the delegates at  the bootcamp I attended in Norwich on February 9.

As James Dening pointed out, he no longer works for Amazon – even more reason to believe him when he holds them up as a shining beacon in the world of e-commerce.
Each Web Fuelled Business event is crammed full of tips, guidelines and information that every business can use to identify its audience and reel them in. You learn how to make the most of free marketing tools and when it’s wise to spend a little money in order to reap big rewards.

It helps that Doug Richard is a gifted communicator, compelling to watch and pretty funny too – just ask the lady who sells “ethical furniture” at The Living Rooms  in Norwich. She might not have enjoyed being the centre of his attention at the time, but was tweeting his praises like mad by the end of the day.
All delegates are given free classes to follow up at home, and the opportunity to buy bundles of courses to suit individual business’s needs, but there is no pressure to buy. Doug Richard also lets us into a little secret . What two words do you think do absolutely nothing to help get your business climb the rankings? The answer is  “click here”. Unless, of course you happen to be that Dallas-based marketing and advertising agency called... Click Here.

You work it out.

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