Posts Tagged ‘Positive thinking’

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.

Is it all about price?

October 10, 2011
Bargaining?

Win Win or is it all about price?

I remember when I started my first accountancy industry job in Deasy & Co. one of the early tasks I had was the job of selecting a supplier for all of our stationery requirements.

In those days we went through huge amounts of paper and our bill would have been quite large.

I approached the task diligently as the good accountant that I was – meeting each of the prospective suppliers and impassionately processing their quotes. The best quote won and next time round I did exactly the same thing all over again and put our business out for tender. It didn’t really matter who the supplier was – as long as I achieved the best price and the maximum savings for the company – wasn’t I brilliant?

24 years later and I find ourselves putting quotes together the whole time to hopefully win business and on the other side of the coin we deal with many suppliers.

A few things have I have learnt about pricing since those early days:

  • The clients who hammer us on price because that’s just what they do, I have very little interest in doing business with them again
  • If every piece of work a prospective client has is put out to auction I find myself caring less about this business (unless it is a tender situation where this is what you have to do)
  • I deal with suppliers that I like dealing with as long as their prices are fair – I won’t break them up every time
  • Trust and respect and a genuine interest in each others business is really important
  • The word Loyalty is really important -not blind loyalty
  • You have to leave a Win Win in every single deal that you do (James Caan the successful businessman from Dragons Den talks about learning this valuable lesson from his Dad at an early stage in his career in his excellent book)

For us building a successful business is all about providing excellent services (we don’t always get it right but we will try our best) to our clients in a partnership capacity – they outline their objectives and we do our best to achieve these together.

In the course of our business we use service and product providers that we trust and like doing business with, that ultimately will help us do our job. There is one exception where one of our suppliers just doesn’t care about our business and we are busy looking for a better solution.

The price should be fair and leave a Win Win for everyone.

Do you pay a heavy price when it’s all about price?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

p.s. apologies to those suppliers years ago – I guess we were probably the loser ?

Knowing you are the best and saying it

September 25, 2011
Hayfield Manor Hotel

Hayfield Manor Hotel

I was at a recent Chamber event in Cork and they had their usual “soap box” slot whereby a few members are given the opportunity to speak in front of the attendees and briefly tell everyone about their business.

This is quite an awkward moment for those invited to talk – they have about two minutes to inform and impress the listeners and generally try to make an impact with a combination of information, some humour and maybe a “catchy” phrase to finish their mini speech.

At the recent event Ettienne van Verde, General Manager of Hayfield Manor confidently took to the podium and started his speech by informing all of the attendees that they were the best hotel in the area.  At first there were a few quiet sniggers, some glances around the room because “saying you are the best” is generally not something that we say. It might be considered to be a little bit arrogant ..even if you believe it do you say it publically?

Not only did Ettienne state that they were the best hotel but he went on to explain why they were the best. He mentioned the friendly welcome, the free parking, the convenient location, the free wifi, the state of the art function room, the individually designed bedrooms and also the two award winning restaurants.

At the end of his confident two minute talk he was met with a big round of warm applause.For those who have experienced the hotel they would have to agree that Hayfield Manor is pretty good but I suspect the warm round of applause was for someone who proudly and confidently represented their business and wasn’t afraid to say “we are the best”.

If you believe you are best maybe you should start saying it

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Three Circles and the Path you Choose

August 28, 2011
Greg Canty & Brendan Canty

Parental advice!

My son Brendan Canty has just qualified from CIT, having completed a multi media course. He wants to work in film in some way and he is also really passionate about music.

How unusual – a 22 year old being passionate about music!

Like every other parent you worry about what your children will do – you want them to find a job, earn a living and in this climate it has never been quite so tough.

You need to find a god solid job” I hear myself saying..

Well – he has set up his own website operating under the name Feel Good Lost and he has been busy producing videos for bands from all over the world – with the web and modern technology this is all quite easy, apparently!

His last music video was for a “secret” American solo artist who goes under the name Slow Magic and the track he produced was for a song called Corvette Cassette. There is a video producers peer website called Vimeo (this is like a worldwide YouTube for video and film producers), which has just featured this song as a staff pic – at the time of writing the video has been viewed 63,000 times across the world.

While Brendan does some excellent corporate video work for Fuzion and his own clients he excels when he combines his love of music and his film profession. On Friday nights he DJ’s in The Pavilion in Cork combining music and visuals as part of his unique set operating under the Feel Good Lost name.

Slow Magic // Corvette Cassette from Feel Good Lost on Vimeo.

He is following his dream and his passion and it had me thinking about career choices and Three Circles..

In Jim Collins fabulous business book Good to Great (for me this book is a business bible) he talks about companies using a Three Circle criteria as a guide to the activities they should get involved in:

A company should only engage in activities that:

  1. It is passionate about
  2. It can excel at
  3. It can make money from

The basic principle is that if companies concentrate their efforts on activities that meet all three of these criteria then they will inevitably be very successful – this is one of the factors that Jim Collins attributes to the success of what he calls “Great” companies.

If you are looking for a new job or a new challenge how about using the Three Circle Criteria for deciding which path you choose?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

The Glamourous Toll Booth Woman!

June 20, 2011
Toll Booth Woman

"How are you?"

Pulling into the Portlaoise toll booth and I know I am making good time for the meeting in the centre of Dublin, as long as traffic into the city is OK. That can be a lottery at times ..

As usual you scramble for change as you pull into the quietest toll booth.

How are you today?

I wasn’t expecting that.. as I look up I discover the voice behind the friendly greeting was a smiling and very glamorous woman, well groomed, perfect make-up, blonde hair and wearing a very neat blouse and accessorised with necklace and earrings. My guess is that she could be in her early fifties.

She quickly hands me my 20 cent change and I am moving again.

I certainly wasn’t expecting that friendly greeting, but why not?  I guess we can quickly get too used to the, no rapport, nothing interaction type of interpersonal transaction that can happen so often on the phone, in the shop, at the coffee shop, at the train station or anywhere that we quickly interact with people.

Somehow the toll booth was not a place where I was expecting a friendly interaction like that.

I am guessing that working at the Portlaoise toll booth was not my glamourous woman’s dream job but she has clearly decided that she is going to do it in the best possible way, with pride, positivity, efficiency and personality.

All the thousands of drivers on their monotonous journeys who she deals with everyday benefit from her decision to do her job in this way.

Glamourous blonde toll booth woman, thank you … and thank you to anyone who is not exactly doing their dream job but makes a decision to do it the best possible way, with pride and with a friendly smile.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Optimistic, Pessimistic or Realistic – Which are you?

June 13, 2011
Optimistic, Pessimistic or Realistic?

Would you sit next to this guy at a party?

My friend was killing me with his negativity, I was feeling hot, uneasy and uncomfortable.. despite really liking him and not having seen him in quite a while I just wanted to get out of there!

I guess I’ve been accused of the opposite, taking a general optimistic approach to things. For some this can come across as being uplifting and for others it could be seen as being naive and maybe they want to get away from me?

It can be difficult at times when we are surrounded by doom and gloom, bad news, tangible signs of distress and people that are really struggling with things going badly wrong for them and we all have a different way of dealing with this environment.

In the meaty discussion with my quite successful friend I found myself not wanting to be in his company any more as he was sapping the energy from me with his pessimistic view on everything. I could literally feel a cloud creep over us as we chatted.

His big argument when I challenged him about his “outlook” was that he was being realistic as opposed to being pessimistic. In his view I was being optimistic and not realistic!

Of course neither of us were wrong and we agreed to disagree and having thought about this even more I think the real secret is all about adopting a “positive” attitude – even in a pessimistic frame of mind this can be quite powerful.

Even though the environment has been terrible my friend’s business has done really well by him positively tackling the lousy climate and continually adapting, despite his pessimism!

Whatever is happening in your business you do need to get through it “yourself” and part of this is equipping yourself with the tools, attitude and general approach that works best for you.

For me I recognise that part of my own personal armour is adopting a positive approach, which at times can be quite challenging. And yes, I am optimistic about how me and our business will survive and thrive but being realistic I know this will only happen if we work our socks off and continue delivering for our clients.

My medicine?

Even when things are going wrong attack the situation with positivity, be optimistic about your future success but realistic about what you need to do to achieve it. And if the guy sitting next to you is dragging you down with his negativity, pessimism or realism then move on politely..

No one said it was going to be easy!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

The Ultimate in Brand Loyalty, Bobby Stokes and a Pencil Case?

May 29, 2011
Liverpool FC Pencil case

Loyalty starts with a pencil case?

Chatting to a friend of mine last week the conversation came around to football, the Champions League Final and the ultimate in brand loyalty – the undying support for “your” football team.

Supporting your football team through thick and thin must be the ultimate in brand loyalty and is one of life’s greatest mysteries – how does this happen, when does it start and why do supporters never waver from their team despite success and otherwise?

How do we end up with this incredible bond with a football team from another country? – it really makes little sense but it exists and it runs so deep that it affects us, our moods, our friends and even those who we may not like!!

As a die hard Liverpool fan I can honestly tell you my form is great when they win, lousy when they lose, I get anxious about new signings and I get suspicious of people who support their arch rivals!!

I’m not from Liverpool (but I do like going there – the people are great fun!), my parents aren’t from there, I will do my utmost to watch every match (on TV or computer), I feel betrayed by Mr Torres, I did meet the legendary old club chairman Peter Robinson once and I think You’ll Never Walk Alone is the greatest football song ever!

How is it that in a lifetime we might have many personal relationships but we never change football teams? – what is that about and where and how does it actually start?

My friend is an Everton fan – how did this start? Well, his mother who he admits knows nothing about football bought him an Everton pencil case – he tells me the following year she bought him his first ever football shirt, a Liverpool shirt (she does have taste, that woman..), which he refused to wear. The ultimate brand loyalty had set in, he was a die hard Everton fan.

Bobby Stokes celebrates FA Cup winning goal versus Manchester United
Well done Bobby Stokes !

My cousin who I hadn’t seen in a very long time proclaimed he was a Southampton fan – curious I asked him how this happened? He nearly killed me that I did not know – he reminded me that when we were kids (1976 to be precise) he was visiting our house on FA Cup Final day when Southampton (in the old 2nd division) were up against the mighty Manchester United.

I warned him not to support Man Utd if he knew what was good for him – Bobby Stokes scored a winner (do click the Bobby Stokes link – the goal is worth watching!) for the Saints in the 83rd minute to  seal an unexpected win and a new “brand loyal” fan was won for life! To this day despite few opportunities to celebrate memorable wins he has remained loyal to his team.

Getting deep about this topic with my Everton buddy we actually agreed that you could even use the word “love” to describe that bond with your team – whoah, that’s heavy?

How can your brand or business instil even a fraction of that kind of loyalty with your customers?

– buy them a pencil case?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Aer Lingus celebrate 75 years by bringing back the Peanuts!

May 23, 2011
Aer Lingus celebrate 75 years

Peanuts anyone?

Aer Lingus celebrate 75 years by bringing back the Peanuts!”

Can you imagine a headline like this?

While it would seem like a terrible way to celebrate 75 years (On May 27th 1936 Aer Lingus launched its first ever flight between Baldonnel and Bristol, with just five passengers) for me it would be the best possible news to come from our famous airline.

Do you remember the days when flying was a treat and when the smiling hostess would genuinely look after each of the customers with water, orange juice and peanuts?

In so many businesses the level of service has increased but in the airline business the exact opposite has happened with a horrible race to the bottom. The level of service has reduced to such an extent that air travel is now a right pain in the backside.

Aer Lingus seem to be caught in no man’s land trying to compete with the “Low Care” airline Ryanair – I honestly get really cross when I hear people waxing lyrical about the great businessman, Michael O’Leary who proudly boasts about his brand of lousy customer service. While they might make record profits (€401M in the last 12 months), Michael will use every situation and every trick to squeeze a bob out of you – listening to jingles on board selling tickets is not my idea of a good time!

When we plan holidays it will never be to a route serviced by a Ryanair flight – plenty don’t mind so who am I to argue? I don’t want to travel with anyone who values customers in such a way.

Ryanair
Tickets for Ryanair charity anyone?

So, Aer Lingus – go for it … bring back the peanuts, that extra little bit of customer service, take a premium on the price and stop chasing Ryanair to the bottom.

What have you got to lose?

Happy 75!!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

The Fuzion Women and The Royal Wedding!

April 29, 2011
Mary & William

William and Kate or is that Mary?

Now before I go any further let me stress that at Fuzion we have a team of intelligent, diligent and very hard working women ..

“Oh my God” this is going to be the best day ever … Mary (our Londoner, who may feel hard done by today – in the UK this would have been a day off – I think it is here as well!!) declares in a very excited fashion – Oh My God is right !! They are definitely a different species ..

The amount of time and detail and arrangements that have gone into the big day is incredible – I’m not talking about the the arrangements in London, I’m talking about the arrangements by the intelligent and hard working female crew in Fuzion.

The William and Kate inscribed champagne flutes are on standby, special cakes have been baked for the occasion, the LCD screen is set up and the wedding of the decade is about to be screened.

10:30 AM and we are already listening to the excited screams, oohs and aahs about the different dresses and I can confirm that the girls have freely admitted that “we would all love to be a princess”!

10:40: “Oh my God, I have that coat”, “Look at the dress it is, AMAZING !!” “She’s put on weight” “Look, look it’s Prince Charles”

11:02: The girls freak out as the screen freezes on the CNN feed- panic !

Now all the boys are watching it as well ..if you can’t beat them you may as well join them!

Major excitement as we have just unveiled a picture of Mary with Prince William – Paul did a great job with it and I think Mary is genuinely impressed .. we have another little gift for her later!

11:45: We are in the middle of the vows and girls are nervous .. very tense … Yahoo !! They have done it

Fuzion Girls

Fuzion girls working hard!

12:15 “Do you think they will kiss on the balcony ?” – What do you think? – of course they will ..

The champagne and Pimms is flowing, the scones and cream are ready, we have sandwiches, we have gorgeous cheeses, we have pate .. we’re having fun!

The girls are now practicing their Queen “wave” – Jill is definitely the best, guess who has done this before.

Mary is not impressed at the picture of her as the Queen, she prefers being a Princess I am guessing – she is the most fabulous girl, we’re mad about her! William would be lucky to have her but he had to settle for Kate, another commoner.

12:50 Ali arrives to join the fun!

13:05 and all the girls now are just waiting for the balcony kiss (by the way Posh Spice’s outfit got the thumbs up!)

13:27 – the moment has come, they have appeared on the balcony – Mary has declared to us that “I have goose bumps”, Kerrie being very practical “Ah for God’s sake, hold hands will ye!” .. wait for it, wait for it .. lots of waving, anticipation, more waving and there you go, smack – the most polite, useless pathetic kiss of all time!

.. the crowd are chanting … kiss again, kiss again, obviously not very happy with the 1st one … nothing doing just yet, more waving. Ah damn – they kissed while the cameras were following the air force jets flying overhead – what a waste!

That’s nearly it, they’re all going in, backs turned and in they go – “That marriage isn’t going to last” , “Ah, I think it will”

Fuzion wedding girls photo
Fuzion girls know how to have fun!

William and Kate (or Mary!) you brought us a little bit of magic today, thank you and the very best of luck!

It probably won’t be easy..

Now – back to work!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Are you spending enough on Positive Costs?

April 25, 2011
Doorman - Positive Costs

Meet and Greet - Positive Cost?

In my accounting days (yes, I know most of you won’t believe it – I was!!) we had a few different ways of looking at the costs of a business.

The most popular of these was a very simple analysis – Fixed Costs, which were those costs that would not vary with volume and Variable Costs, which were the costs which did vary according to volume. This was quite a simplistic model, which didn’t always hold up!

We then had other methods of looking at costs such as Zero Base Costing and Activity Based Costing .. interesting stuff indeed!

Since the recession has kicked in I have witnessed first hand clients being advised to cut back on expenses by the accounting fraternity and often they just do it themselves automatically – the types of costs that get chopped first are those that are deemed to be “unnecessary”, which will typically include marketing &  advertising spend, sales reps, items like training, corporate entertainment, Christmas gifts, staff entertainment  and other “extras”.

On the surface it is easy to figure out why companies would cut back in such a way but you could ask the question: Why spend this money when sales were easier to come by and when it is harder to win business you just abandon them?

Could reduced sales be a self fulfilling prophecy when you cut out certain overheads?

The New Cost Model

Taking the knowledge of my old profession and combining this with what I am witnessing with clients every day I am now proposing a new way of analysing costs.

Here goes ..

There are actually three types of costs:

Negative Costs –   these are the costs that a business is “stuck” with, regardless of volume. It would include Rent and Rates (but not necessarily 100% of these – I will explain that later), Insurance, ESB, etc.

Maintenance Costs – these are the costs of servicing the business that you have brought in. It would such items as staff costs, raw materials, power and delivery costs.

Positive Costs – these are the costs that are all about bringing new business in, effectively the costs, which should have a “positive effect” on the business.

Positive costs are the most important costs of the whole business, they are the elements that are designed to start the engine, the elements that can make things happen, that “trigger” customers to actually place an order.

Positive costs are far reaching and could include surprise elements that you would not expect: the premium you pay to have a premises in a location that will bring in more customers, the cost of washing the car after it has been serviced, the cost of polishing the shoes that have been repaired, the cost of having a receptionist who answers calls promptly and deals with customer queries swiftly.

There could be an element of positive costs to most people overhead in the business – the porter who does “meet and greet” at the door of the hotel, the credit controller who carefully spends time with customers who are experiencing difficulty, the accountant who spends time with customers to understand the business better, the staff party to reward a hard working team and a deliberate initiative to improve morale.

I’m sure with a little effort you will think of thousands of other unexpected examples – all of these elements contribute to bringing in more business and create a “positive effect” on the business.

Of course Positive Costs will include items such as advertising, marketing, graphic design, web marketing, social media activity and even PR!

Positive costs are absolutely essential for generating business for any company – cutting these out may be viewed as a necessary step but it will eventually choke the oxygen of the business.

Recession (or any time for that matter)

Using our new cost model I would suggest the following approach:

Analyse your costs into the different cost categories and work towards –

1. Reducing the negative costs as much as possible

2. Improving efficiencies and work practices so that maintenance costs are as little as possible

3. Spending as much of your overhead budget as possible on positive costs .

I am not for one minute suggesting naive spending – always look for the best value in your positive costs and don’t waste money, making sure they are actually positive costs – that the spend results in increases in business.

Are you spending enough on Positive Costs in your business?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion


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