Monthly Archives: December 2011


A mind of my own

I don’t often give in to consumer advertising and I don’t often give in to what I am told to desire, so I like to think that I have a mind of my own. I am never afraid to say what I truly believe, when it is required, or to take sides when I feel it is needed. I generally support the underdog and generally set my main objective as to having fun.

If I can wish for, and expect to receive anything, then for 2012 I would like to continue having more of what I had in 2011: New challenges, mini adventures, some laughs, good wine, fine food and warm hearted people to share it with.

But I think 2012 is going to be tough. The recession will take its grip on even the most optimistic of consumers.  Many of those in work will worry about falling out of it and many of those out of work will worry how to fall into it.

In general I think 2012 is going to be a year of uncertainty and worry. This means we will need to focus on the things that really matter and make sure we keep them close.  We will need to be charitable to those who need it most and not to try and blame others for our apparent hardships, if they come.  And if the tides are turning, and Europe and America have had their day, then so be it.  There’s not much that neither you nor I can do about it alone and anyway, isn’t it time that another continent has its moment in the sun?

We’ll be OK, no need to worry.  It’s action that’s required not pessimism. We may not always have access to everything like we used to and we all have one hell of a lot to lose before our dignity is at risk. In these circumstances a mind of one’s own is essential. To measure success and failure not by the indicators set by others but by our own internal beliefs is what really counts.  For sure if they differ from the expectations we have promised to others there maybe some explaining to do and adjustments to make.But right here, right now, our economies are suffering but they are far from dead and it is in these difficult, uncertain times new ideas are often born.

So let’s savour the last moments of 2011 and be thankful for what we have. 2012 will bring whatever it will bring and I for one am looking forward to it! Bring it on!

See you on the other side, have a nice week,


2016-11-17T08:24:48+00:000 Comments

Age Descrimination

Ask any young adult what they need more from their employer and they will most likely tell you ‘money’. After all they need it the most: Money to buy or build a house, money for a new family car, for the children’s upkeep and education, for paying their taxes and extra insurances, just in case they die before they get old.

When you think about it, our EU remuneration rules are really upside down.  When you turn fifty the demands on your cash seem to die away. One day you look in your bank account and notice some money in there! And when you look more closely, your monthly statements indicate that you have a steady trend of more cash coming in than going out! So what do us middies do?  We look for wonderful things to buy like Mont Blanc fountain pens, and Luis Vuitton bags for our partners. We take weekend city trips and look for ways to compensate for the fact that we’re getting older.

But seriously, there is a kind of discriminatory madness that lingers on from olden times, the Belgians call it ‘Ancieniteit’ or ‘length of service’ or ‘seniority’ as some Brits like to refer to it.  Basically it means getting paid more for the length of time you have been doing it.  I have no problem paying people for the job they do but what is the sense of paying people more, simply because they have been doing it for longer?  If the tasks you do and the responsibilities you have are the same as a younger person, why would you pay an older person more?  And then there are the mad redundancy terms.  The longer someone works for a company, the more expensive it is to release them.  We make our older employees too expensive to replace, while the young ones struggle to make ends meet. 

In my next company I want to employ loads of young people and pay them over the top wages, thereby getting the very best choice of the bunch.  They won’t care about a thirty year career path and they shouldn’t need to anyway.  Who knows what the world will look like in thirty years and what company today can honestly guarantee anyone a ‘secure career’.  Even the words ‘secure career’ fill me with dread.  

Young people have piles of energy, enthusiasm and open minds for change and new ideas. To manage them I’ll find some retired managers (preferably in their late sixties to mid-seventies) that do not want to sit on the scrap heap but would rather be out there demonstrating their management and motivational techniques.  Who knows they may even have some wisdom to share?

But what should we do with the forty five to sixty five year olds? Perhaps we should give them early retirement, so they can go out and explore life before they are too old; doing what they always dreamed of?  Or perhaps we should encourage them to do voluntary work oversees in under developed countries?   In any case, when they are ready, they can re-apply for open positions, safe in the knowledge that they will not be priced out of the job market because it will be the youngsters getting the high salaries.

Not sure how all this would work in practice, but I am ready to give it some thought over a nice bottle Pomerol this Christmas.  In any case it’s bound to create a lively debate at the dinner table!

Enjoy your Christmas break,


2016-11-17T08:24:49+00:003 Comments

Not the best way to start an evening!

My wife and I had been looking forward to meeting up with her old college friends for a while, although surprisingly, on the day itself we both felt a little tired and quietly wished we could stay home instead. 

As lunchtime turned slowly into mid-afternoon, my wife busied herself in the garden while I poured myself a long relaxing bath and passed the time lazily getting ready for our night out.

“We need to be walking to the car at 17:45” my wife had said (and this from the person to whom punctuality had, until fairly recently, been a habit that she simply could not get the grasp of).

“Have you got your keys?” She asked three times and each time I patted my pocket to check and replied “yes, dear!” ‘How many times do you want me to check?’ I thought to myself.  The front door clicked behind us and at 17:50 we were walking to the car, amazing. 

The warm day had turned into a bitterly cold evening, so it was a very unpleasant moment when my car failed to start due to the fact that its magic key was not in my pocket at all.  Another key, along with a dead battery from the office phone and some other loose objects had somehow locked together to take on the shape and form of what I swore to be my key ring.  The situation was made worse by the fact that our house had not so long ago been modified by a security consultant who apparently had done a first class job.

I can see her now (and probably will for many years to come) sitting on our front doorstep in her best evening clothes, huddled up in her long black coat, head tucked down low to try and avoid the cold night air. 

I wonder what it is that makes me over confident, so trusting to my efficiency and precision planning?  It’s usually very reliable, but when it goes wrong…

Have a good week,


2016-11-17T08:24:49+00:002 Comments

How to detect an imbecile

The best way to detect an imbecile is to check yourself first. The problem is you can’t.

By definition, an imbecile is someone that makes mistakes, without realizing that they’re doing it. So, how can they know whether they’re an imbecile or not?

Take the case of a doctor:

To come up with the right diagnosis, a good doctor uses all of his or her education and experience and applies what is relevant to all of the facts the patient before them is presenting them with. Now, the imbecilic doctor thinks that he’s doing exactly that and of course, without even knowing it comes up with the wrong diagnoses.

The imbecilic doctor will not put the fact that their patient died down to their wrong diagnoses, but to a series of circumstances that led to that unfortunate outcome.  I am told that there are many imbecilic doctors on the planet.

Certainly there are also many imbecilic car drivers, lawyers, change managers, project managers, chefs and even hairdressers. Every profession and every walk of life has their fair share of imbeciles.  Some, luckily, are easier to detect then others.

So I’ve come up with a couple of questions to help possibly detect them:

1) How long ago did you learn something completely new about your profession?

            a. Within the last 2 days

            b. Within the last 2 weeks

            c. You can’t remember, it was too long ago

2) How good are you at your profession?

            a. Absolutely brilliant
            b. Good enough

            c. Could be better

None of us like to feel that we are imbeciles or even look imbecilic. But the sad fact to the matter is, we all are to a certain extent, that’s just part of life.  

The question is, could our inability to know our own limitations cause any harm, or does it just remain a mild embarrassment from time to time?

Welcome to the club of the imbeciles!

Enjoy your week,


2011-12-06T02:38:32+00:000 Comments