Author Archive

Managing Remote Working Effectively

March 26, 2020

remote-work-tips

 

Some very practical advice on working from home from our good friends Laura & Frank – HR for Better Workplaces

 

With working from home being a key means for many workers and organisations to keep going during the Corona Virus outbreak, we have collated some top tips to help you and your team get the most from remote working whilst looking after employee well-being.

 

Managing Communication

  • Be very clear on agreeing ways of working
  • Ensure everyone is well informed and aware of company expectations
  • Have very regular meetings to check progress and communicate effectively
  • Embrace the use of technology to communicate on a daily basis.
  • Operating this way helps to maintain and improve communication whilst also creating social interaction to help combat isolation  
  • Having phone, video or group conferencing is an effective and easy method  
  • Test some products like Zoom, Skype, Loom, Webex and there are many more

 

Managing Well-being

  • Try working in different areas of your house until you find the most comfortable setting
  • Adapt your working space from time to time to allow change in your usual routine
  • Make sure you set a daily routine and take regular breaks
  • Set working hours and stick to them
  • Get showered and dressed every day
  • Take regular daily exercise, joining an exercise group online can be motivating and provide interaction with other people
  • Create a healthy eating plan and be organised around preparation of this
  • Go outside in the garden for a break and plenty of fresh air
  • Join remote working communities online for support and social interaction

 

HR for Better Workplaces provides a bespoke consultation service, with over 50 years combined industry experience. They specialise in practical advice and offer a wide range of HR and well-being services.  Laura or Frank can be contacted through their website https://www.hrforbetterworkplaces.ie/

 

Managing Covid-19 from a HR Perspective

March 12, 2020
Laura powney

Laura Powney, HR & Employment Law Consultant, HR for Better Workplaces

 

We just received an ezine on advice for businesses on how to manage Covid-19 from a HR Perspective from our great friends in HR for Better Workplaces and wanted to share it with you .   It’s written by two well respected HR Professionals, Frank Scott Lennon who has over 40 years experience in HR and is a well renowned author on the subject of HR, and his colleague Laura Powney, who has vast experience as a HR and Employment Law Consultant across a wide range of sectors.

Practical Preventative Advice

  • Produce & display signage encouraging all to wash hands in the correct manner
  • Produce & display signage for the signs and symptoms of corona virus and practical advice on how to limit spreading and contracting it
  • Please ensure any signage you begin to use is from a reputable source, i.e. HSE or WHO
  • Provide sanitizer all around the workplace
  • Nominate a coronavirus (Covid19) Go-to-Person as the link person for your organisation
  • Identify any employees who might be ‘high-risk’ and therefore vulnerable, and put specific plans in place for protecting them

 

Business Continuity Plans

  • Ensure that you have an assigned a Steering Group to develop or oversee a plan for the business in all possible scenarios.
  • Now is the time to begin stress testing plans instead of perhaps waiting until forced to put plans into action and then not being able to fix the issues that arise.
  • A good example of this is perhaps stress testing working from home on a rotational basis by staggering groups of employees now, this to assess the effectiveness and to control the amount of people who remain in contact within the business.  It is also a good rule of thumb to assign these groups so they have a good mix of skills and relevant decision makers in each group.

 

Coronavirus and Illness Benefit Temporary Changes

COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is a new illness that can affect your heart lungs and airways.

The Government has announced that the rules for Illness Benefit and Supplementary Welfare Allowance will be changed to help prevent the transmission of coronavirus. The changes mean that if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are suspected of having COVID-19 and are medically required to self-isolate, you can get income support. 

Legislation is required to implement these changes and emergency legislation is being prepared.

The main changes are:

  • You will not have to wait 6 days before you can apply for Illness Benefit. This means Illness Benefit can cover the first week of a COVID-19 diagnosis (or medically-required self-isolation) and any subsequent weeks.
  • The personal rate of Illness Benefit will increase from €203 to €305 per week for up to 2 weeks if you are medically required to self-isolate, or for the duration of your medically-certified absence from work with a COVID-19 diagnosis.
  • The normal social insurance requirements for Illness Benefit will be waived, if you are medically required to self-isolate or diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You can get Supplementary Welfare Allowance without having to pass a means test, if you don’t qualify for Illness Benefit and you are medically required to self-isolate or are diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Government has also stated that self-employed people will be able to get either Illness Benefit or Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

If you have coronavirus symptoms or you have been medically required to self-isolate, you should not visit an Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office. You can get information about applying for social welfare payments through My Welfare and you can call 1890 800 024 or (01) 248 1398.

If you are already getting a social welfare payment or you are on an employment programme such as Community Employment (CE) and Tús or a funded training and education programme, you do not need to apply for Illness Benefit. Your existing payment will continue to be paid if you are affected by COVID-19. 

You can find information for employees and employers and income supports on gov.ie.

 

Payments relating to coronavirus (Covid-19)

Employee self-isolating by their own choice and not government guidelines or medical requirement:

No payment is required by law as this is the employee’s own choice

Employee self-isolating by government guidelines or medical requirement:

Illness benefit would be payable to the employee from day 1

Government have now urged all employers to support national public health objectives by continuing, as a minimum, to pay employees who cannot attend work due to Covid-19 illness or self-isolation the difference between the special Illness Benefit rate and their normal wages. This may be achieved through the employer considering a range of flexible working arrangements with their employees such as:

  • compassionate leave
  • allowing the employee to work remotely
  • allowing the staff member to ‘work-up’ any time taken at a future date 
  • allowing the employee to avail of annual leave entitlements
  • rearranging parental leave

A number of income supports are available from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for people whose employers do not continue to pay them during a COVID-19 (coronavirus) related absence or temporary lay-off from work.

Employee self-isolating because employer requests when government guidelines or medical requirements do not exist

Full payment to the employee would be required by the employer

 

Other methods of Leave

If you are considering the option of lay-off or short-term working please observe all points below and consider carefully:

  1. It may not be seen as the most supportive measure
  2. It has to exist as a policy in employees signed contract or handbook
  3. If it exceeds a 4-week period an employee can apply to seek redundancy

This measure is a little less appealing in our opinion and should only be used as a last resort when the organisation has explored all other options.

HR for Better Workplaces provides a bespoke consultation service, with over 50 years combined industry experience. They specialise in practical advice and offer a wide range of HR and well-being services.  Both Laura and Frank have been great friends of Fuzion, supporting and working in partnership on many projects and we couldn’t recommend them highly enough.   Laura or Frank can be contacted through their website https://www.hrforbetterworkplaces.ie/

 

 

Hillary – get over your glass ceilings!  

July 27, 2016

Hillary Clinton

OK, it is really great that for the first time there is a female candidate for the US Presidential Election, long overdue and everyone bar middle America is in agreement that she is the best person for the job – probably by default!  

But.. I am so over “glass ceilings”.

Hillary heralded her nomination victory as the “biggest crack in that glass ceiling” with a montage of the previous 44 male US presidents accompanied by the sound and vision of breaking glass.

I groaned when I saw it so my other half said (as he always says!) – “OK write a blog about it”.

Hillary went on to say “Little girls, who stayed up late to watch, I may be the first woman President but one of you is next”.

Can we please get rid of this idea of a glass ceiling now!

Personally I don’t believe in them and I never have. I think there are some professions out there, like politics, that are not conducive to women, especially women who have young families. I think it’s not the glass ceiling we need to break, but we need to re-set the foundations by looking at the rules, social norms, conventions and structures that are in place preventing talented women getting to whatever level they want to get to.

I also believe that as women we have to take some responsibility for this.  

Sheryl Sandberg told a great story in her book – ‘Lean In‘. She was heavily pregnant, running late for a meeting and couldn’t find a parking space near the office, so she had to trek a long distance from the back of the car park to get to her meeting. She barged into the meeting, late, uncomfortable and probably a little cranky and asked why there weren’t any allocated parking slots nearer the office, for pregnant employees.

The answer was no one ever asked for them!

The ‘powers that be’ thought this was a great idea and very soon afterwards this policy was implemented.

If we want to get to the top – be it in our business or in our careers, I believe we, as women, need to ask for what we need or help to facilitate change – we must be proactive in resetting the foundations.

I have been working very closely with Enterprise Ireland (EI) over the past few months in my role as President of Network Ireland.

They recognise the fact that as women we need to be more assertive – but they use a much more positive word: “ambitious”.  

Enterprise Ireland have put programmes in place to encourage female entrepreneurs, as they know that businesses run by women have a better chance of succeeding. Their stats prove that women are hesitant about applying for grants and supports, unless they tick every single box – whereas a male counterpart in general will go for every opportunity and worry about matching the criteria afterwards!  

EI’s strategies around nurturing ambition in female entrepreneurs are working and they have seen the number of females on their programmes jump from 7% in 2011 to 22% in 2015.  

We also have a responsibility to support each other.

Hillary, instead of giving the “little girls at home” a ‘call to action’ she should be looking behind her or in front of her at the podium and saying “your turn is next”. It’s the responsibility of all of us to help others up the ladder or pass the torch.

As Madeleine Albright, another US Secretary of State put it ”There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”.

Let’s hope Hillary will remember Madeleine’s wise words and has less of the breaking glass and more of the actions that really support other women to get as far as they can.  

Actions speak so much louder than words or cool AV effects!

As to Hillary becoming the next President of the USA – I hope she is successful in her campaign, not because she is a woman, or the best possible candidate, but because like most people in Ireland I’m an anything but Trump girl!  But that’s for another blog……

Deirdre 

Deirdre Waldron - Network Ireland PresidentDeirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

A Woman’s Place is in the House, Leinster House

February 25, 2016
aine in the house

Áine Collins TD, Letting everyone know where a woman’s place should be!

I am so proud of my friend and my TD Áine Collins.  

She is one of the most honest, tenacious, intelligent and loyal people that I know – which are all great traits for a politician and for a friend.

I have seen first hand how much she cares for the community and bearing in mind her background as an accountant, entrepreneur and farmer’s daughter, how she has fought hard for the SME and farming sector and for safeguarding our rural communities and smaller towns that are just as relevant to the future of Ireland as the big cities.

For any undecided’s out there in the Cork North West Constituency, I would like to ask you to please vote for Áine.  Even if you have promised your No 1 elsewhere (why?), if you could give her your second or third preference.

During the last general election, Greg and I reached out through social media to candidates of all parties (well bar Sinn Fein – but that’s another story!!) just to get conversations going around the election.  Post election Áine was one of the few who continued the engagement, even after she got our vote she genuinely wanted to know what she could do for us SME owners in Leinster House and Greg and I have both seen first hand, if we put an issue in her direction, she is like a dog with a bone trying to get it sorted.

She always listens and she is like that with everyone she comes in contact with.  She has done some amazing and often unsung work including setting up the Cork Foundation – totally her idea – which very successfully now reaches out to the Cork business community at home and abroad and she has personally cajoled them into helping fund new enterprises and community projects.

In my home town of Ballincollig, when all sources of possible funding were exhausted she managed to secure €5k for the inaugural Ballincollig Music Festival, which thousands attended free of charge on a sunny Sunday in August in Ballincollig Park. It would not have happened without her.   Also in Ballincollig she secured funding for a vital research project by international experts, which will help the development of the business proposition in the town.

I could go on, but I don’t want this to seem like a party political broadcast.  

I am so proud to call Áine my friend and over the past five years she has also been a valued colleague on various projects, she was even a client for a short while and I am honoured to have been along a little of her journey so far, representing us in Leinster House.

Aine Collins TD294.jpgI believe, in our constituency of Cork North West and in particular in the fantastic place I call home, Ballincollig, that Áine, is really the best option.  Not just because I am her friend, but because I believe that she is the best person for the job and that the best place for Áine is in the house – Leinster House.

15 years and my Fuzion journey!

September 11, 2015

Fuzion PR -2 015

I can’t believe that it’s 15 years since I handed in my notice to my boss (and separately to my ex – but that’s another story!!!) and 15 years since Fuzion was born!!!

I had gotten to the stage at the ripe old age of 34, where I knew that I could have run the business I was working for much better than my boss, and I thought with an attitude like that perhaps I should start my own business.  So I borrowed a laptop until I could afford my own, invested in a logo , some cool business cards and got the word out that Fuzion was open for business!!

At the time I was living in Tralee and later that year I emigrated to Cork!

Deirdre Waldron on the Cork Chamber billboard

I never looked back and am so proud of everything that Fuzion has achieved.  I know that I’m so blessed by all of the friends I have made since then and the talented people I have worked alongside, many of whom have played  a big part in the Fuzion story.  And I am especially blessed for the life Greg and I have made together in Cork, thanks to Fuzion.

Fuzion PR and Marketing

Little did we know when we leased our first office in Cork city that the wheels would very soon fall off the Irish economy and our services were deemed as ‘dispensable’ by many clients who were in fear of the recession. It was a very challenging time, so we rolled up our sleeves, we worked even harder, we dug deep and instead of cutting back we grew our business and opened an office in Dublin! When I look back this was a fantastic achievement considering the harsh environment.

We called it ‘storming the recession‘!

Fuzion Communications Team

So to mark 15 years I thought I’d give 15 things that I have learned about business, that have really helped me along my Fuzion journey:-

  1. Tenacity is the difference between success and failure
  2. Be absolutely sure you have the right people on the bus with you
  3. Treat everyone with respect, even those a**holes who don’t deserve it!
  4. Pick a life partner who thinks you could conquer the world
  5. Admit when you make a mistake, it’s the first step to fixing it
  6. If in doubt, always go with your gut
  7. When hiring, look into someone’s eyes rather than their CV’s
  8. Don’t work with clients where you care more about their business than they do
  9. Business is no place for negative people
  10. Do some pro bono work –  it will come back to you in so many ways
  11. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – there’s lots of it out there
  12. Work every hour that’s needed Monday to Friday, but treasure your days off
  13. Dress every day as if you have a photo call
  14. Confirm everything by email

And most importantly what we are doing today:-

15… Celebrate the milestones and never waste a good story about your business!
Deirdre Waldron - Fuzion PRHappy Birthday to Fuzion and a huge thank you to every single person who has supported us along the way and been part of our journey!

Dee x

Deirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Tell Your Story with Integrity and Soul

July 16, 2015

Caitlyn Jenner Arthur Ashe Award

The odd time, in between watching Kevin McCloud and his Grand Designs and the News, I sneak a peek at Keeping up with the Kardashians just to see what ridiculous subject they are talking about.

The way they seem to leave their whole life open to the public I find often crude, staged and so far from any sense of reality I know or would like to know!

The car crash show is about a blended family with Kris Jenner (The Momanager), her adult children from her first marriage, her (now former) husband, Olympian and great American hero Bruce Jenner, with his kids from his second marriage (the kids from his first marriage had the sense not to get involved with the show) and into the mix Kris and Bruce’s own two young daughters, who have grown up with cameras on them 24 seven.

It’s total drivel and I find it so fake – and just when us voyeurs thought it couldn’t get any more off the wall, Bruce, the all American hero,  announced to the world (via TV of course) that from now on he was a she; Bruce was now Caitlyn and proud to come out of the closet!

Any decent publicist worth their salt would have predicted the death of the programme, with people turning away in their droves from this far fetched, totally manufactured story line.

But you know what…..I think the whole family have handled it (OK there were a few fake tears from the former Mrs Jenner – Kris) with great compassion, honesty and openness.  Most celebrities would have hidden away and licked their wounds, far from the public they once courted.  That’s what I expected.

Not the Kardashians and Jenners!

Kim / Caitlyn Jenner tweet

Coming up trumps is Kim Kardashian and Caitlyn’s youngest girls Kylie and Kendall.  Kim, who got the whole Kardashian merry-go-round going with her infamous sex tape is coming across as supportive, understanding and so articulate and honest.  I’m seriously impressed and I never, ever thought I would say that about a Kardashian!

The two  youngest girls, still in their teens and living in such a high beam spotlight, obviously are having more trouble with it, but they are communicating in such a dignified way on TV and on their social media pages and it’s clear that they remain proud of their dad.

And there is a lot to be proud of.  Bruce/Caitlyn is out there telling her story with integrity and soul.  She is putting her hands up to the past failings as a father and a husband and she has sought and is finding redemption through her coming out.  The relief is all over her much surgically manipulated face.

Last night America showed its acceptance by awarding her the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs, an award presented annually to individuals, usually high profile sporting personalities, whose contributions to society transcend sports.  The respected reporter Diane Sawyer, the last person to interview Bruce as he announced his transition to Caitlyn was was in the crowd, cheering Caitlyn on; her presence at the Awards spoke volumes, supporting Caitlyn and her actions.

But the big thing for me was the presence of all of Caitlyn’s children, step children and his 88 year old mother, up front and centre supporting her.  Caitlyn will be an example to other people who are thinking of making a difficult transition – and her family I have to say I now kinda respect a little!

Kim Kardashian cheering on Caitlyn Jenner at Arthus Ashe Awards

It just makes me think of the odd client we have, who hesitate about telling their own story – nothing in anyway intrusive like the Kardashians, just their business story.

They really need to jump over the fear hurdle and just go for it. They have nothing to fear if they are honest and communicate with soul and integrity.  As long as this can be demonstrated people will want to connect with them and their businesses.  That is what PR is for –  It helps clients to tell the story of their business and allows them to connect with people.

Don’t shy away from any opportunity that could benefit your business.

Don’t think – what if; I shouldn’t; what would my peers think?  Because if you don’t take up the opportunities to tell your own unique story, you can be sure that your competitors are talking to us or agencies like us (but obviously not as great as us!) without that fear of telling their story.

Be brave, be honest, have soul and command your own airwaves – and if you need some help with that, you know where we are …

Deirdre Waldron - Fuzion PRDeirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Announcing Networking hub for Entrepreneurs – NOTwork!

May 19, 2015

DKANE 18/05/2015 REPRO FREE. Ernest Cantillon, Director at BTS Recruitment, Eabha OÕLeary Fitzpatrick, BTS Hospitality, Edel Cox, Fuzion Communications, Gillian Keating, Chair Cork City Centre Forum, Raymond Alcom, Exceedence, M‡ire Ni Cr—in’n, Manager Gateway UCC Business Incubation Centre, Alice D'Arcy, STEAM Education at the launch of NOTwork, a new social hub for young entrepreneurs. The first event which is being hosted by Ernest Cantillon in Sugar Cube from 6pm to 7:30pm on Thursday 28th May, will be free of charge and will offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to come and mix with like-minded local and international entrepreneurs, all at various stages in their businesses. ItÕs the brainchild of Gillian Keating, Chairperson of the Cork City Centre Forum.  ÒThere is a growing momentum to show just how much is going on in the city centre, from recent high profile commercial and retail developments, to businesses connecting more with festivals and events and I just thought that with so many young entrepreneurs working and living in the city centre, it would be a good idea to bring them together in a strictly social arena to enjoy each otherÕs company and the buzz of activity on the South Mall. Pic Darragh Kane.

A new social hub for young entrepreneurs is launching on the South Mall, called NOTwork.  The first event which is being hosted by Ernest Cantillon in Sugar Cube from 6pm to 7:30pm on Thursday 28th May, will be free of charge and will offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to come and mix with like-minded local and international entrepreneurs, all at various stages in their businesses.

It’s the brainchild of Gillian Keating, Chairperson of the Cork City Centre Forum.  “There is a growing momentum to show just how much is going on in the city centre, from recent high profile commercial and retail developments, to businesses connecting more with festivals and events and I just thought that with so many young entrepreneurs working and living in the city centre, it would be a good idea to bring them together in a strictly social arena to enjoy each other’s company and the buzz of activity on the South Mall.

Gillian added “For the first session we are going to bring some well-known entrepreneurs to the event, who are really excited about having the opportunity to just hang out and chat to the people, we will have some music, a few board games and cards, table tennis going on, no real agenda just a chill out space which encourages rather than forces connections, chat and a bit of craic.”

“I got the idea from talking to a few people who feel the same as me; that if we put on activities, people will come; and where better than in the heart of our business district, the South Mall.  When I approached people like Greg and Deirdre from Fuzion and Ernest from Electric they immediately came on board as all are strong advocates of promoting just how great a place the South Mall is to work and to play.  Myriam Cronin, Manager of the GATEWAY UCC’s Business Incubation programme also has been very proactive in her support as has Ronan Murphy from Smarttech who is also Chairman of it@Cork, Jerry O’Brien of Radisens Technology and Pat Phelan of Trustev who have already agreed to come along on the night and connect with other Cork entrepreneurs.”

Entry to NOTwork is free of charge, but as space is limited people are being asked to pre-register for the first event on Thursday 28th May.  Just follow @NOTworkHub on twitter and facebook for further information and to book online go to https://notworkhub.eventbrite.ie

Five things my mum taught me about business and life!

May 11, 2015
My mum at 18, modelling with style her dad's cap, glasses & walking stick!!

My mum at 18

I was feeling a little lonely last week as it was the 5th anniversary of my mum passing.  My mum, Joan Waldron was the first female entrepreneur I came in contact with and the older I get the more I appreciate her work ethic, her tenacity and her passion for business.  

Here is what she taught me, that has helped me become a better business person:-

Lesson No 1: Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

Around 1969 my mum and dad moved to Tralee after their business went bust in Mallow.  Mum would have been In her late 30’s with five kids under the age of 13, with no job and no real prospects, apart from the most tenacious approach to business I have ever come across.

Dad wasn’t working and they were both still licking their wounds from the failure of their business, but she knew she couldn’t wallow for long, knowing she had seven hungry mouths to feed.  In the town on Castle Street she spotted a grotty, near closed down chip shop.

Even though she had no money, she knocked on the door of the house nextdoor to see what the story was about the place, found out that they were the owners and on the spot made a sweetheart of a deal to take over the business – including negotiating for a ton of potatoes thrown in on the deal for good measure!!!

With absolutely no funds, wearing her only “good” suit she visited the bank manager (a family friend) who gave her a small collateral free business loan.  (Ah, the good old days of banking!!!)

Dad had thought she had lost the plot by opening a chip shop and I think he thought by discouraging her, she would come up with a plan B.  She didn’t.  She just rolled up the sleeves, negotiating with tradesmen and suppliers to make the place respectable,

The opening day, came, dad still refused to entertain the notion, so she went off and she opened on her own.  Within half an hour, dad same in, said nothing, just rolled up his sleeves, went behind the counter and started serving up the chips!!!  And he remained by her side in the various businesses that they had until he passed away in 1991.

Mum and dad would always say they never made more money than they did in that little chip shop!  Mum spotted an opportunity, it was really tough going, but it made her stronger and even brought herself and dad closer.

Lesson No 2: The value of networking

Mum and dad thrived in Tralee, moving from the little chip shop to “The Central Grill” one of the first restaurants in Tralee in the early 1970’s on a prime corner location in the centre of town and in 1984 bought a little hotel in Fenit, which had an excellent restaurant and bar trade.

Mum and dad didn’t do much advertising, had never heard of PR, but were brilliant at promoting their business through networking with the local business community and people.

My mum joined the local Bridge Club; after a few years she became President of the local Soroptimist Club and networked to an inch of her life!  She encouraged my dad to join the local Rotary club and he went on to be local President of that organisation the same year she was President of the Soroptimists.

I swear Frank Underwood would have been very proud of her – in a positive way!!!.

She organised meetings on our premises, held bridge parties, where members could sample the food and get into the habit of considering our restaurant for any family or business events.  The Central Grill and later on the Lighthouse in Fenit became one of the leading places for family occasions and a lot of that was down to my mum’s ethos of networking and using her personal contacts to bring in more business.

Back then it’s the same as it is now – people like to deal with people and the best way to close a deal is the same and its to engage with a client or prospect on a one to one basis.  My mum taught me that.

Lesson No 3: Make sure they leave with a smile on their face

Growing up in the hospitality sector gives you great abilities around reading people – the good tippers, the stingy people who would order hot water and bring their own tea bag (seriously!), the couple who were on a first date or in the middle of a fight; the people who you could tell even by the way they walked in the door whether they were going to be nice or difficult.

We could also always tell a bluffer, where people would try anything to get out of paying for a meal. Mum taught us how important it was to listen to our customers complaints and handle them all with courtesy and if at all possible make sure they left feeling that their grievance was heard and dealt with.

She would say, if they have a good experience they will tell two or three people but if they went out feeling negative (even when at times we knew they were in the wrong), they would tell 100 people!  She always had the ethos, that the customer was always right – even when she knew they were in the wrong!!!

Photo 9

Mum and Dad by the Trevi Fountain in Rome

Lesson No 4: Work hard but play hard!

My mum always loved to throw a great party and she loved her holidays with my dad – the good times balanced the times when it was heads down, working at top gear.  They both were two of the hardest workers I have ever known – I think the only one that could beat them is my husband Greg!

During high season they worked seven days a week, from 8am until after 9pm, but then they made sure to treat themselves to really nice holidays in far flung places.  They also had nice weekend breaks together, were great customers in other restaurants in town and just loved having people over for parties and dinners.

Mum very much taught me that if it is all about work, it’s not success.

That if you work hard, it’s important to spend some of that hard earned money creating lasting happy memories and treating yourself to nice things. Mum had lots of happy memories of herself and dad in Rome, travelling along the Amalfi Coast, having a glass of wine in St Mark’s Square in Venice, visiting Russia when very few Europeans were going there.

I must get my love of Italy from her – you can’t keep me away from the place!

No matter what business was like during the turmoil of the last few years I always made sure Greg and I had some downtime together, with some sun on our faces for a week or two.  There are always a million reasons why we shouldn’t take the break from our busy business – but we have gathered an amazing Fuzion family around us who watch our back and our business when we are away and we come back with a renewed sense of vigour for our business, with fresh ideas and energy.

Mum with one of her greatest friends - and bridge buddy - Monica Kelly

Mum with one of her greatest friends – and bridge buddy – Monica Kelly

Lesson No 5: Mind your friends, they will become family

Mum had some strong friendships going back decades to when she first came to Tralee including, Maureen Deane, Monica Kelly, Phyllis O’Sullivan and Noreen O’Sullivan.  Her friends loved her and our restaurant on Castle Street was the meeting point for all her buddies.

Even though she was very busy she always made time for her friends and they always knew they could count on her for a chat, a piece of advice or just an ear to listen.

We would come home from school and there she would be in the middle of them, at table one in the right hand corner of our restaurant, hatching some plan or just shooting the breeze.  We would roll our eyes up to heaven and disappear to our home upstairs, knowing that we wouldn’t get any attention from her until her friends had left.

She loved bridge and loved her weekly bridge club.  I remember once asking her not to go to the club and stay home with us as I probably had a bad day at school or something.  She explained to me that she had committed to go; that she would be letting her friend down who she was paired with for bridge that night.

She told me that it was so important to cherish and respect your friends; that they provided  support and balance to her life and that when the chips are down and when all us kids had left the nest, they would still be around.

It was so true; her five kids very soon got on with our own lives, but she still had her friends, her bridge and her Soroptimist club and later the Probus club.  And those same friends formed her guard of honour at her funeral.  She was so right, they were there for her, right up to the very end!

I always remember what my mum said and really cherish my friends. The older I get the closer I get to my friends and know that I will have most of them in my life forever. We don’t live in each other’s pockets, but they know I’m there for them if they need anything as they are for me – they are my family every bit as much as my siblings are.

Deirdre Waldron - Fuzion PRDeirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Cork and Dublin, Ireland

Cork – Let’s Shake it up!

January 5, 2015

 

Good to Great

2014 was a good year.  There were definite signs of recovery, which our own business could see first-hand through our offices in Cork and in Dublin.  We were finding that people and businesses may not have had more money to spend, but there was an air of optimism and that there was a willingness to invest once more, in their businesses, in their homes and on themselves.

In Cork there were a number of indicators that have helped generate this air of positivity.  Work began on One Albert Quay, by John Cleary Developments and BAM Construction, which is initially creating 300 construction jobs and once the construction phase is completed will accommodate up to 1,800 new workers in the city centre. This is one of the largest projects of its type in the whole of Ireland at the moment.

We saw award-winning Cork entrepreneurs such as Dan and Linda Kiely of VoxPro, growing from strength to strength and announcing that by 2016 they plan to employ 4,000 highly skilled people in Cork.

The Cork Convention Bureau continued to punch above its weight, attracting international conferences to Cork in 2014 to the value of over €9 million.

Work continued on the Cork Marketing Strategy – or Cork INC as people have started to call it, where all of the major stakeholders, led by Cork City and County Councils are looking at more joined up thinking in promoting Cork to Foreign Direct Investors.

As part of this project, the research showed us that Cork is seen as a special place to do business. Not only is it economically viable with an intelligent and motivated workforce on our doorstep thanks to our terrific education institutions, but it is also seen by everyone as a great place to live. When it comes to ‘life success’ which is a combination of career and quality of life, Cork beats most other locations globally, hands down.

When we were working on this project it was fantastic to hear so many people playing back to us what we already knew!

Cork also led the charge in the tourism sector with visitor numbers up and the hospitality sector reporting a busy high season. Visitors flocked to attractions such as the English Market, Blarney Castle and Fota Wildlife Park as well as the wilds of East and West Cork.  A lot of visitors know what a special place Cork is!

All of this has made 2014 a good year for people living in Cork. However we can’t just stop at this and we need to be on the front foot and really shake things up and make things happen for ourselves.

As anyone who knows Fuzion and in particular my partner Greg Canty, will know that we are big fans of Jim Collins, the American business consultant and author.  Jim’s most famous theory is how “good is the enemy of great”.  He believes that good organisations can unwittingly slip into a mind-set of  good is good enough and that this complacency can prevent the organisation becoming great.

My wish for Cork in 2015 is that we don’t slip into this mind-set.  Cork is perfectly set to take full advantage of the upturn in the economy which now seems to not just be rhetoric, but fact – instead of thinking “good”, let’s plan for “great”.

As a really nice pre-Christmas boost, IBEC announced that economic growth in Ireland is expected to hit nearly 6% in 2014 – the strongest rate in Europe, with continued strong growth predicted in 2015. If Ireland can be the star of Europe why not work together to make Cork the star of Ireland.

Cork stakeholders have a responsibility to make sure that we take full advantage of these positive figures and that this time next year; we are all saying that 2015 was a great year for Cork, that we did not get complacent with “good”, but worked towards being “great”.

I have many things on my wish list for 2015.

Cork Convention CentreOne wish is that finally we get going on the much-needed Convention Centre.  There have been enough delays on this for a variety of reasons – many of which I can’t fathom – but Cork needs it urgently if we are to be seen as a “great” player in this arena.

Something desperately needs to be done with our amazing city centre. We are passing way too many empty retail units on Patrick Street and even more empty offices on the South Mall and neighbouring streets. I hope that 2015 is the year we see some tangible initiatives to really fill these empty spaces with a creative mix of uses. With some creativity, positive incentives and initiatives and by working together we can get these streets buzzing once again.

Cork Airport is haemorrhaging flights and this flow needs to be stopped in 2015. I think we all know the answer to this one and my hope for Cork Airport in 2015 is that it gets more autonomy from Dublin and becomes an independent airport. Shannon Airport is thriving to the detriment of Cork Airport and this needs to be addressed urgently. Not only do we want access to fantastic destinations for business and pleasure, we also want to see this traffic reciprocated with more overseas visitors able to discover our fantastic city and surrounds through direct access through our state of the art airport.

We have two very proactive and powerful new CEO’s in Ann Doherty for Cork City Council and Tim Lucey for the Cork County Council who need to continue to show us leadership and steer Cork together towards a great year in 2015.  They both have vast experience in heading up major organisations and now they need to lead us through positive change and progression.

I would ask that they would be confident and brave and a lot more than just safe pairs of hands. Our local politicians and all other stakeholders must support them in this regard and even allow them to take some risks as they push forward.

A colleague of Fuzion’s in our work on the Cork Marketing Strategy over the past year and a half, Malcolm Allan of Place Matters, puts it brilliantly when he says “if you continue doing the same thing, you will get the same results”.  Malcolm is one of the leading global figures in Place Marketing and sees great potential for Cork, but we need to bear his words in mind in 2015.

Let’s make 2015 the year that we really changed things in Cork, taking full advantage of the economic improvements and that we all played our part to make things happen. So much has been invested in plans, consultants, research etc. so let’s make 2015 the year that Cork took major steps to take its rightful place among the leading city regions in Europe and beyond.

My last wish is that all of us genuinely work together and apply a ‘rising tide’ mentality so that overall Cork benefits and not specific interest groups.

Let’s make sure we all have a great year, because Cork and all Corkonians born and bred and those like myself who are lucky enough to be adopted by Cork and to call it home, deserve it.

Lets shake it up!

Deirdre Waldron - Fuzion PRDeirdre Waldron is a Partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Cork and Dublin

This post first appeared as an Opinion Piece in the Evening Echo 2-1-15

We can’t let the South Mall go south!!

August 6, 2014

South Mall, Cork

When I was in college in Cork in the early ‘80’s I used love to walk down South Mall and take in the atmosphere of this bustling busy business street and I vowed I’d someday work there – that is of course, after I travelled and conquered the world!!!

I always knew that Cork would be my home and after a long and winding road now it is. I can’t believe that I am lucky enough to not only work on the South Mall, but that I own a business on this historic business precinct.

We have an equally good location in Dublin on Fitzwilliam Street and even though we continue to grow in Dublin, Cork will always be my base and the South Mall will always be where I am drawn to work – and often play thanks to great places like Electric, right across the road from us!

I know though at the moment I am seeing the Mall with tinted glasses.

Because it’s home to me the glare of all the “To Let” and “For Sale” signs fade into the façades of the buildings. But what must people think when they look at the South Mall now, when viewing the area as a location to set up a business?

With all the vacant signs, it’s probably the last place people new to the city would consider setting up a business. I bet sometimes some people think all that is missing is the tumble-weed – although there are weeds growing off many of the empty buildings!!!

Something has to be done.

Reports and studies are great but are they getting us anywhere? Is anyone taking the advice, recommendations on board? Where are the incentives to encourage people to move into the South Mall? Are the Estate Agents doing their jobs properly? Is there something more the business community could be doing? Is there more that the landlords should be doing to make their properties more attractive to businesses?

Electric, South Mall

It just breaks my heart sometimes when I see another business leave, just as strongly as it leaps for joy when I see a business opening. Thankfully there have been a few in the last six months.

Perhaps the business community on the South Mall should join together?

Now I know we have an excellent Chamber of Commerce and there is the Cork Business Association – but should we mount an organic PR campaign for the South Mall; where businesses pro-actively talk up this great business precinct and support the businesses on the Mall.

This could not only help keep businesses on our main business centre but also encourage more businesses to make the South Mall their home. We could make sure new businesses on the Mall are welcomed by neighbours, through social media, through one to one well wishes and the ultimate support, by doing the best to do business with neighbouring businesses.

The South Mall could once again become a real thriving business community, supporting each other and encouraging new neighbours.

So who will start the ball rolling………

Deirdre Waldron - Fuzion PRDeirdre Waldron is a Partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Cork and Dublin

 


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