Ready for School (the saddest thing)

It was the saddest thing I heard in a long time.

The teacher asked the little lad where he was the previous day, told him the whole classed missed him. The little lad told her he was up and ready for school at the usual time but nobody else in the house got up until 11.30.

So he didn’t get to go to school.

In my daily life, at work and at home, I am surrounded by books. I make it my business to be surrounded by books and believe education is a lifelong process and attitude.

But the vision of that little lad being ready for school and nobody in the house bothering to get up before 11.30 to bring him was a sad and graphic one for me.

If nothing else it reminded me of how much we take for granted in our day to day life; being got ready and taken to school when I was a boy was never an issue and something that I thought happened to every child.

Unfortunately, even in 2019 in a wealthy, educated country such as Ireland, that’s not the case.

Building Your Tribe (There’s One for Everyone)

I stumbled across a YouTube channel over the weekend and it proved, if any proof were needed, that there is a market or tribe for almost everyone.

The guy was a mature man, I would estimate in his 60s, and the channel started out as a guide to men’s grooming, hair, and so on as the guy, who shall remain unidentified for fear of giving him any more publicity, has a hairdressing/barber’s shop.

He was, as Charles Dickens might say, ‘much occupied by his own sagacity’.

The channel has evolved over time and now he does long ‘talking head’ videos in which he dispenses advice for men about women, relationships, finance, health, smoking cigars and pipes, sex, guff about stoicism, and so on.

Even though he has a pleasant speaking voice and speaks well, even though he is presentable, even though he positions himself as the grandfather or father you never had dispensing worldly wisdom he spouts the most tremendous amount of chauvinism, misogyny, and rank bad advice.

But that’s not the killer punch for me; no, the money shot for me is that the self absorbed fool has over 100,000 subscribers on YouTube. And these people love him and agree with the rubbish he peddles about ‘finding your manhood’ again and all the other travails men allegedly face from women, leftists, socialists, take your pick.

I suppose when you consider the grifter Trump getting elected to the White House it should not be a surprise that this charlatan can get 100,000 followers with similar antediluvian, misconceived views.

But when you stumble across it up close and personal on YouTube it still sets you back a little bit.

The bottom line, though, is if you are a business owner or start up you can build a tribe of fans for your product or service quite easily, especially on YouTube.

If Nobody Reads This Blog

If nobody reads this blog I still win.

Don’t get me wrong: I would love to have hundreds, nay, thousands of readers showing up everyday to read what I write.

But if they don’t, if nobody shows, I am not bothered or embarrassed.

Because what I am looking to do by writing here every day is:

  1. Fulfill a commitment I made to myself
  2. Get to play with words and practice writing and, in the process, acquire the tools to improve as a writer

I believe that showing up and practicing something everyday is the most effective way to improve a skill.

Therefore, regardless of what else is going on I intend showing up and writing, and improving as a writer.

If you show up and find anything of value: great, it’s a win for both of us.

If you don’t, it’s just a win for me.

Is there something in your life that would benefit from you showing up every day and practicing? Something that would benefit from the 10,000 hours practice referred to in ‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell?

The Remarkable Power of Video in Bestowing Authority

A lady from Utah or Idaho or Ohio or someplace in the United States emailed me last week.

She wanted me to advise her in relation to some difficulty she was encountering with a government or State department in the United States. She had seen me on YouTube and was impressed and decided I was just the guy  she needed.

Her problem had something to do with a driving licence or the restoration or renewal of a licence. It was some type of administrative difficulty with the body that issued driving licences in her state.

I quickly replied that she must be mistaken, that I was an Irish lawyer, and I knew absolutely nothing about United States law and could not advise or help her.

She said she wasn’t mistaken, she knew I was in Ireland, and said I was just the man to advise her as the Irish have a great record for fighting for the underdog, loved scraps, and could deliver the knockout blow in her dispute.

She persisted in asking for advice and I told her the only advice I could give was to get a local attorney in her State.

But the power of the YouTube video and the immediacy and authority she gleaned from watching it; the confidence that she had clearly derived from being able to see and hear me in the video, from being able to watch my body language and facial expressions and voice tone was what stuck in my mind for days afterward.

Would she ever have reacted in this way to the written word in a blog post or an article? No, I don’t believe so.

Video has an extra dimension over all other ways of communicating; if you are a small business owner or entrepreneur it is crazy to ignore the power of video.

[Check out my YouTube channel here]

The Information Problem

When I was a young man and had ambitions to learn more about and start a business I was obliged to go to the Business Library in the Dublin City Public Library in the Ilac Centre in Henry Street.This was in the early 1980s when I was studying Commerce in UCD.

Back then, if you wanted to import anything, for example, you could go to this business library and go through the various directories of importers and exporters from various countries around the world.

This was the only way to find this type of information.

No internet, no mobile phone, no Google, no YouTube, no Amazon.

If you wanted to learn a new skill or find out how to do something you had to buy a book or magazine or take a correspondence course or go to college.

This was where the information was to be found.

Now I can pull my phone out of my pocket and a world of information is at my disposal.

There is no difficulty finding importers or exporters or distributors or manufacturers or middle men who are only too happy to supply their product. You can even have stuff delivered around the world in small sample quantities to check the quality, and so on.

To learn something you simply have to Google it or go to YouTube or go to Amazon and you will find what you want in seconds.

The problem now, though, is not the absence of information like back in the early 1980s; the problem now is sorting through the freely available information to find what is genuine, true, accurate, reliable.

Now the problem is sorting through the surfeit of information and trying to ascertain the reliable source from the charlatans, the grifters, the  con artists, the snake oil salesmen and women, the shills, the scammers, the fakes.

Now the problem is not a lack of information but which information to trust.

Reading the Signals at an Employment Law Hearing

reading-the-signals

If you are representing yourself at an employment law hearing-for example at the WRC or Labour Court-you need to be aware of the value of reading some signals.

For example, if the WRC adjudicator or Chairman of the Labour Court division give you the impression that things are not going great for you, and if you are encouraged to ‘have a word’ with the other side in the dispute you will want a very compelling reason not to do so.

You are being told, when you read between the lines, that you might be best served by trying to settle the dispute rather than letting the decision maker go ahead and find against you.

The legal professionals who have acquired experience will be in a good position to get the message. But you, if you are representing yourself, won’t have that experience as it may be, hopefully, a rare occasion that you are involved in such a dispute.

What you will need is a good deal of practical intelligence.

This is different from having a towering intellect or the IQ of a genius; it is the type of intelligence or street smarts that you might engage to good effect when buying a secondhand car or dog or pony or calf.

It’s the type of intelligence and sensibility you use when doing a bit of ‘ducking and diving’ in any walk of life.

The same principle applies in Civil Court, of course, but you are much less likely to be representing yourself in Court, especially if you are a company director.

I have now seen it quite frequently that a lay litigant is encouraged to ‘talk to the other side’ with a view to settling the case. But they fail completely to read the signals.

Don’t make this costly mistake.

Drip by Drip (the Army of Cost Effective Workers)

I uploaded a video to YouTube yesterday which is almost certainly of interest to only a small group of people. The video is called “The Powers, Duties and Role of Executors in Irish law”.

To the person who finds themselves burdened with the job of executor for the estate of a loved one who has recently passed away, however, the video should be useful.

That’s who this video is for; it’s not for everyone.

For me, from a marketing perspective, this video will almost certainly be relevant next month, next year, in 5 years time, in 10 years time when you consider the last legislative change in this area of Irish law was the Succession Act, 1965.

And the fact that this video will be working away on YouTube for those who are interested in this topic; the fact that I only need 1 or 2 people in a year to generate a nice bit of business from this video; the fact that it only took me approximately 30 minutes to make and another 30 minutes to upload and optimise on YouTube; the fact that once made and uploaded it does not require any further work, maintenance, or tending makes it an efficient way to grow my business.

I remain surprised at how few Irish businesses exploit YouTube and the drip by drip effect of an army of virtually cost free ‘workers’ like this.
[You can take a look at my YouTube channel here.]

Legal Costs and Access to the “Majesty of the Law”

Every week I receive an updated record of Court judgments from the Courts Service. Many of the decisions are uneventful and unremarkable.

But two decisions caught my attention this week and both were concerned with legal costs.

The first case involved Dana Rosemary Scallon and the defamation against her and TV3 by a mother and daughter Susan Stein and Susan Gorrell. Susan Stein and Dana Rosemary Scallon are sisters.

Dana Rosemary Scallon was appealing a decision from the High Court which went against her in which she was seeking security for costs against Stein and Gorrell.

The Court of Appeal granted the appeal of Dana Rosemary Scallon and fixed security for costs in the sum of €150,000 to be apportioned between the respondents, Stein and Gorrell, equally.

Yes, €150,000.

Keep this figure in mind the next time you are considering commencing defamation proceedings for may be a hurtful, negative-but not defamatory-comment against you. (You can read the full decision of the Court of Appeal here).

The second decision I noted, and which also concerned legal costs, was a matrimonial case. The defendant in this case had engaged the services of a leading firm of solicitors to represent her in a matrimonial case.

At the conclusion the defendant had failed to pay the balance of legal fees outstanding to the solicitors and Mason Hayes and Curran sued. The solicitors were successful and were awarded €64,818.70. (Read the full decision here).

The cost of access to justice and the “Majesty of the Law” is not to be underestimated.

Motivation and Commitment-the Gulf

commitment v motivation

It’s easy at the beginning of the year to have all sorts of new resolutions and good intentions.

But there is a world of difference between motivation and commitment.

Motivation is easy.

I want to lose weight; I want to run a marathon; I want to become a better husband/father; I want to become a better writer/solicitor; I want Kildare to win the All Ireland football championship; I want Kildare to win the Leinster.

Yes, the motivation part is easy and I can do it from the sitting room couch or the office chair or my car.

Commitment, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish.

Commitment is coming home to a cold house, taking out the ashes of yesterday’s fire, setting a new one, striking the match and watching the Zip firelighter flame up, going out into the cold, wet night to walk/jog/run on badly maintained, dark, rural country roads.

Commitment is getting up at 5.30 am and going into the office at an insensibly early hour to do the work that needs to be done to improve and brutalise an ambition into a noticeable improvement in a worthwhile skill.

Maybe the gulf between motivation and commitment can be exploited and put to good use, though, by embracing it and jumping into the darkness.

Success-Is It Luck, Genius, Hard Work, Serendipity?

It was 1987 or 1988 when I met him. He went on to become one of the most successful and high-profile figures in Irish business for the next quarter of a century, or thereabouts.

And his success has always puzzled and annoyed me. Because my gut feeling, from my observation and conversation on a Saturday morning on the south side of Dublin back in the 80s, was that he was steeped in luck.

My gut feeling was that if he had not failed in his venture then he would never have got the big break that he later made the most of. But he had failed, or at least not succeeded-he was only ‘average’ and it was that ‘average’ that forced him to quit.

That led, fortuitously, to his big break and subsequent spectacular success.

Now I am reading a book that appears to confirm my view, a view that I could never, by definition, prove.

The book is “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell and he puts forward a compelling thesis of how and why spectacularly successful people succeed. He asks the questions such as “is it genius”, “is it IQ?”, luck, serendipity, hard work, a combination of these?

I have not finished it yet but it puts forward some compelling theories:

  1. Success is down to the circumstances you find yourself-opportunity-and 10,000 hours practice
  2. Where you come from matters-the difference between high IQ people who achieve and those who don’t is hugely influenced by their family circumstances, their background, their skills. In a nutshell the recognition that analytical intelligence is not practical intelligence.

Even if Gladwell’s thesis is not perfect or does not explain everything or the success of every ‘outlier’ I believe it is close enough to be of real value and worth serious consideration.