Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Pre-pack to Jet Pack - hear my story

Me and my new best mate Imran Hakim got invited to see some Americans talking the other day. Seriously, people pay money for this. We didn’t pay, obviously, but the taxpayer did. I do like the NWDA, even though sound like they should be a rap band. Maybe they are?

Anyway, back to these speakers. One was old, had a beard and talked about emotions, or something like that (we’ll call him Beardie). But he talked ALL MORNING.

The other had mad hair (I’m going to call him Mad Hair from now on), has written a few books that everyone was raving about and he talked ALL AFTERNOON. I had a peek at one of his books in the lunch break – he’s no Andy McNab, but there’s clearly a big market in sweaty middle managers on the verge of a major nervous breakdown, looking for someone to tell them how to get on in life.

Mad Hair was good. He talked about Fleetwood Mac, always liked that Stevie Nicks. So, Mad Hair reckons he told a few New York hedge fund boys (probably know them) about the optimum wealth levels for being a good parent. I have this row with Mrs C all the time. Obviously raising your brats in the slums of Calcutta (or Stockport, or somewhere) is just lining them up for a life sentence of misery. Spoiling them rotten means they don’t work hard enough. He had my full attention for that until he said the perfect level was a measly £75K a year. How can we pay for school fees, pony club, the house in Abersoch and a driver on standby on that? He meant £75K in income per family. Fantastic. What a wind up. He had me going for a minute, but as the Yanks don’t get irony I’m not so sure. The hedge fund lads certainly won’t like some punk rocker taking the piss out of them.

He then told a few stories about history and success and war and how overconfidence was what did it for Lehman Brothers. He lost me half way through, but everyone else seemed to like it. Now either this is the worst case of the “Emporer’s New Clothes”, or it’s just money for old rope. You had 500 punters coughing a grand apiece to listen to this, or at least the NWA paying for them. Take out marketing costs, room hire and printing and I reckon Beardie and Mad Hair must have cleared £100K each. I’m having some of this.

Next year I reckon me and Imran could do even better. He can talk about Dragon’s Den and toys and stuff. I’ll copy a few chunks out of Art of War, use a few of Chubby Brown’s best gags, then tell everyone how I bounced back from the worst recession since the market correction of 2002. The science of my success was that toxic alchemy of cunning, intelligence and my ten point guide to loopholes in the Enterprise Act. I’ll call it From Pre-Pack to Jet Pack. You’d come wouldn’t you?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Bloody students

I’m an educated man. I graduated with honours from the University of Life. The sponging student life was not for me, but now I’ve had my eyes opened to the land of opportunity that awaits in student land. And I’m not just talking about the number of times I mutter “would” when you wander about.

I’ve been putting in some time at the seats of learning, ready to check out what’s going on with start-ups with innovative “solutions” and stuff.

Since I went on Dragons’ Den (well, the screen test), I've been asked back to sit and judge these professor types with the "next best thing". I got collared to go on one with Scott “Fletch” Fletcher and Imran “Imran” Hakim, which frankly makes the whole thing feel like taking candy from a baby.

Most of these techie kids have no idea how to present the idea; there’s just no commercial nous whatsoever. You try going into some of the City boardrooms where I’ve walked the walk; start stuttering and muttering and your arse is history. That’s why they need someone who can talk the talk and command a room to be by their side. Do you see where I’m going with this?

On the face of it, it might seem a bit boring to be hanging around incubator buildings at universities, but I’ve always said, you reap what you sow, unless you’re talking about farming grants. And let’s face it, just how much of my and your hard-earned tax is going to
“knowledge economy” guff that no one understands? You may as well fill your boots and take what’s rightfully yours.

I’ve got to say I’ve forged a real bond with some of my students, or if it doesn’t sound too arrogant, followers. Their attention is grabbed from the moment they hear the Hummer crunching over the gravel.

The students are fine, especially the ones with big debts, they’ll do anything to get on my good side. And I mean anything.

No, it’s these boffins I worry about. They have half an idea and think some “product development” and “marketing channel research” will make them rich. No it won’t. What they need is a 50-seater sales floor with coke-crazed sales boys on commission-only trying to flog the thing as if their lives depended on it. It’s always worked for me.