Saturday, December 15, 2012

Observations of a traveler

My feet are back firmly on the ground after 134 flights taken from January to December in 2012.  I am blessed to have a job that permits me to travel so much, meeting people from all walks of life, see cultures deeply embedded in countries, learn lessons from history in places Ive seen and visited and most importantly, realize that the world is a wired, twisted wonderful place!

One of the best things about travelling is that you get to see and observe people, whether they work in an airport, train station, duty free shop, airplane or airport security, or they are travelling somewhere on holidays, work, or just trying to get home. But each and every one of these individuals makes my travel experience so much more amusing and entertaining and the inspiration for my hobby, which is writing.

Being a writer involved good observation skills, to be able to capture moments in life that free your imagination and inspire your senses to write a story, a play or a blog. And travelling gives me this opportunity. This year alone, with 134 flights, I have been able to write several articles and blogs, 4 plays and a musical! And recently I joined a writers club called Shakespeares Monkey where we write short stories for an e-book we will publish next year. So the world isnt such a bad place after all when it offers me such a great opportunity to flourish a hobby that allows me to express myself through the art of writing.

And so I wanted to share with you all my observations for this year, as a frequent traveler, and perhaps allow you to have a giggle and say, that is so true or even say thats so me!. We wont tell anyone, I promise!

I entitled this blog observations of a traveler so I will share these observations as a list of experiences I have had while taking 134 flight, driven thousands of miles on coaches from home to the airport and back, taken hundreds of taxis to get to hotels, sat for several hours in lounges waiting for those 134 flights and observed thousands of human being from different parts of the world interact with each other.

So sit back, buckle up and enjoy the journey through this wonderfully twisted and wired world of travelling!

Observation No 1 frequent traveling its a status game!

Several months ago I wrote a blog entitled my life or my seat which told the tale of a business traveler who would fight for getting on the plane first! Since then what I have discovered is that getting on a plane is a matter of status rather than getting a seat. Of course being first on the plane is important so you can get all of your bulky hand luggage just above your seat (you can also read my blog hand luggage is no longer hand luggage") but it really is a matter of status! When a frequent traveler achieves gold, its like winning gold at the Olympics! And perhaps it is comparable, as these individuals can run; jump, bend and twists in more ways than you care to imagine, to get on the plane first!

The ultimate price is not to get to your seat first but to say, Im gold as they push their way through everyone in the chaos to get on the airplane. (By the way why do we all get up as soon as the airport staff touches the microphone? surely the plane won't leave without you, right?)
But even a gold member will push other gold members when he/she clearly sees them all standing around the gate like hungry wolves waiting for their pray. And this ultimate fighter, the one who knows how to maneuver around everyone else, pushes his/her way to the front and stands proud holding the boarding pass that clearly says priority boarding. Doesnt he realize that everyone there is also got priority boarding? But the rewarding moment, as the observant traveler, is to see his/her face of anger when they finally open the doors and announce we will start boarding people with special needs and families with small children what? Small children? Before me! Surely not! They are not gold members!

Its the small things in life that make me smile, this is one of them!

Observation No 2 travelers that tell big fat lies!

When you travel if you ears-drop, you will hear the best lies ever told. There is something about travelling that makes us tell porky pies! Something pushes us, as grown up adults, to regress and lie like a 5 year old. And just like the 5 year old, we think we are going to get away with it, when it is plane to see its not going to work. Here are some of my favorites for this year:

we are now boarding people only on rows 25 to 37
Sir, we are only boarding from rows 25 to 37
sorry I didnt hear it

you can only take one piece of hand luggage with you
I only have one piece of hand luggage with me!
(he is standing there with 2, we can all see it)
sir, you have 2 pieces
No I only have one
(I promise you we can see 2)
Sir, you have two
no, this is my briefcase!
(I guess he has a point, however you know dam well he is trying to get away with it! This is not Ryan Air by the way)

you can only take liquids less than 100 mil
that is less than 100 mil!
no its not, it says 250 mil on the bottle
yea but its more than half empty so its about 100 mil
(again good point but I think they were trying to get away with it)

I was told by your colleague at check in I could use the lounge…”

"You are late and holding back the plane"
"Sorry, it was a short connection"
(They have duty free bags under their arm!)

and my favorite of all, the biggest fat lie ever told:

madam, please switch your music off
No response from the traveler
madam can you please switch your music off
No response from the traveler
A tap on the shoulder, she looks up and take the headphones off
can you please turn you music off we are about to take off
Yea it's off (big fat lie!)

Observation No 3 how and why do you beep?

Some of the perks of travelling is that you get a "good seen to" by security officers from time to time, if you know what I mean! (wink, wink)
We have all learned to live with tight security controls and fairly standard procedures in most airports over the last few years but what still gets me is what makes you beep as you go through the metal detector? You can go through airport security 2 or 3 times the same day if you have connecting flights and specially if you land in Frankfurt (which by they way I vote as the worst airport in Europe, more on this later) and you can pass through a metal detector without beeping in one airport and then beep on the other (and you have done exactly the same in both). I have come to my own conclusion and I think the airport guards have a button they press when you walk through and they take a fancy at you! Otherwise why would this be?
And believe me when I tell you this, I have had security guards touched me in places no other man has been! So it doesn't matter what you take off, if he fancies you, you will beep and then he will have his day!

Speaking of Frankfurt, here is Observation No 4 Airport security whose mission statement is "make sure the passenger loses his flight!"

Trust me when I tell you I fully appreciate the work these men and women do every day to keep people safe and a live! I have in fact honoured these silent heroes in one of my blogs as often you see people being so ungrateful towards the guards who are just doing their job when they do it well!
There is one airport I want to highlight in my blog today and that is Frankfurt airport! This has got to be the worlds worst airport in many levels. I know many people would disagree with me, as I know a lot of travelers like Frankfurt, but not for me, and I avoid going through it as much as possible. It is not only the fact that every time I land in Frankfurt and have just under 50 minutes to get from one gate to the other, they, I am sure purposely, put both planes at opposite sides of the airport (same airline by the way) and for some reason, even though you are in transit, you still have to go through airport security! (no other airport has this as far as I know) and it would be ok if this was a good experience, but here comes the frustrating part ITS NOT! (ok anger out, feel much better...) they are so slow, it is unbelievable! And unpredictable! You can take everything out and they will still stop you. When you have very little time to get to your gate this is the last thing you want. I have a bag full of cables; in no other airport do they ask me to take it out, except Frankfurt! So now I take it out, so they dont stop me WRONG AGAIN! (ok more anger out, feel much better...) because they will still stop you and ask you to now empty the cables out!
I could go on and on, so I will stop here, there is more I want to tell you than security at Frankfurt. Oh by they way, I always beep there! Maybe I'm the type German security guys go for?

Observation No 5 there is always one

There is always one
who will do a succession of farts on the plane and is seating next to you.
who will push you to get to his/her luggage without disregards for your safety!
who will try to squeeze his or her bag on top of yours!
who will have the nerve to move your bag so he or she can fit theirs in and then there is no room for yours!
who will always take the whole armrest!
who will always want to go to the toilet when the seatbelt sign comes on!
who will always turn his mobile phone on as soon as the plane touches down! who will always stand up before the plane stops fully!
who will clap as the plane lands!
who will always try to chat even though you have your earphones on!
who goes to the toilet too many times!
who will hold the plane back and walks in with a Starbucks cup!
There is always one

Observation No 6 is this a service industry? I've not noticed...

Coming from a service industry myself, I know what it takes to make a guest happy, and I know how much we demand from our staff to treat people well so they come back and use us again. You have all heard the famous phrase "look after your customers and they will come back"
Unfortunately this is not true in the travel industry and they hold its customers by the throat saying, we dont care, you are going to come back anyway
Most companies working in the travel industry have a big advantage, we, the traveler; will be coming back even if we dont like it! The monopoly of the airlines and lack of care from airport base companies make sometimes the travel experience a misery. Choosing an airline to travel comes down to your destiny and price not because we like them and they treat us well. And you dont really have much choice of visiting an airport either, its not as if you can say, Im never using this airport again! This allows employees in this industry to be dam rude and get away with it! The best example was this summer when we were travelling back from Majorca to mainland Spain and an employee of Iberia, part of British Airways, the world's worst airline, shouted to a customer "are you deaf? Weve been calling for 5 minutes now!" because he did not hear the announcement that he needed to come forward and check in. Let me put this into context for you the Iberia attendant was making the announcement in Spanish, not once she did it in English, and the gentleman was Asian and did not speak Spanish. He clearly did not understand her and when he said what? To her very rude remarks I thought she was not going to repeat what she had just said in Spanish. But guess what? Yes, she wanted to be heard, so she said it in English. I think, luckily for her, this was an Asian gentleman and he did not reply back. I was wishing, in my sick twisted mind, that she would do it to me, then I think I may have not left Majorca as I would have probably been arrested as I would have given her a piece of my mind!
The fact is that at that moment you have to fly with them and then you may have to again, if your destination pushes you to take their flights, we have no choice so they will continue to get away with murder!

Observation No 7 my life in their hands!

I wrote a blog some time ago on my experience when travelling on a taxi from a hotel to the airport at 3 am. Although convenient as you avoid traffic and get there faster, it is also dangerous as I saw my driver close his eyes for what seemed an eternity! He did wake up but the rest of the journey I build my mussels as I was so tens keeping an eye on him!
Often I think of the fact that I take most methods of transport to get to my destinations every day, from cars (taxis or private cars), buses (to and from the airport), trains (underground and rail) and airplanes (134 of theses) and for every form of transport I relay on the driver, conductor or pilot to get me there, safely and on time.
Statistically they say you are more likely to die in a car accident or being run over by a buss than in a plane. Statistically I use all those that can get you killed!
But for me, it is not the odds but the luck. I think you can spend your life travelling (and thousands of people do) and never be involved in an incident, and then you can step out of your house and a car runs you over. I am a believer that when its your time, its your time, whether you are on a plane or watching a movie and you choke on your popcorn! So when I travel I have learnt not to worry about things like this, if you do, you would never go outside your house!
This year I have not had any major scares, seems that everyone involved get me to my destinations have worked very hard to get me there safely! But I guess when you have seen the wing of your airplane scrap the surface and produce sparks and the aircraft take back up again as it couldnt land due to high winds, anything else is a walk in the park! (Thank god this happened earlier in my travelling life, I can cope with anything now!)

Observation No 8 everywhere you go, always take the weather with you!

If you started singing the song by Crowded House it shows your age! No but seriously I could not write a blog about travel and live in England without talking about the weather!
Like most people, I like summer, it is warm, its sunny and people are in a good mood. And more importantly your plane is never delayed! And like most people I hate winter, its miserable, its cold and the slightest sign of snow paralyses the whole travel industry.
Some countries cope better with this than others. Take the Russians, they are able to take off and land with 2 meters of snow. The have heated runways, they have plough machines to remove snow, they have enough de-icer machines and they have nice warm Russian hats! Take the British; we have none of the above! And when we get a twinkle of white stuff falling we just close the country, its cheaper apparently than buying the equipment to cope with snow!
Look, I can cope with delays, they are part of the deal when you travel, and its not going to be always perfect. But what I cant cope with is the same issue every year when we know its going to happen! Einstein said, Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results do we think that we are not going to get snow next year? Or that people will look outside and see the snow and say I wont go to work today Seriously! Im willing to put a tenner for buying some of those wonderful machines the Russians have. If we all chip-in, we could buy all of that equipment and the country wouldnt to shut for days every winter. Ill put a collection box outside number 10 Downing Street, feel free to contribute!

I feel I am getting a lot of my anger out in this blog! This is good therapy!

And my last observation No matter how many things you encounter when you travel, you are truly blessed by having the chance to see the world.

I know I travel excessively, and some would not like it, but I believe that travelling is a way for humans to see and understand the world around us. You cannot say youve arrived home until you left home. Whether you travel for holidays or business, pleasure or work, business class or economy, abroad or in land, every time you do, keep your eyes and ears open, you will learn so much about the world we live in, and it will make you appreciate who we are and why we are the way we are, there is so much out there to see.

I look forward to another year of travelling, enjoying new experiences, learning from different cultures and people, meeting human beings who inspire my stories and most of all having more time to write for you all

You can read my plays at and join our new writers club Shakespeares Monkey in Facebook
 or directly to the website at

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Do the maths! - 3 has just lost a customer for 79 pounds

When I comes to customer service, there is an old say we all know “it is more expensive to loose a customer than to keep them happy” and this will, in turn, bring profitability to your organisation.
And when faced with the eternal question “how much to compensate” then you know you are already on the wrong road as you have upset a customer and about to loose them, costing hundreds of pounds and your reputation.
And if your customer gives you the chance to keep them loyal, why question this? Just go along with it, making sure you keep that customer happy and in return they will keep on coming back for more, spending more and more every time.
This applies to all industries, not just hospitality, as we think of it often when we talk about this subject. And I want to share a story where a company really doesn’t get it, and one day it will come to bite them back. Yes, they may think that loosing a customer now is of no importance, but soon they will realise that this is not the case and little by little they are chipping away to their loyalty base and it will eventually collapse.
I am asking anyone who reads this article to pass it on, and for every person you pass it on to see if it makes sense or not what I am about to tell. The world needs to know how much this company is taking advantage of us and don’t realise we are important, as much as a customer when they come into a hotel or restaurant and get bad service.

I have been a customer of 3, the mobile company for over 8 years. I started with them with a simple contract back in the days and as I renewed, every time I got a nicer phone and singed another 12 months contract and recently 24 months contract. Fair enough, you need to commit, so I sign and I know they will look after me. Until now…

My wife and I have a contract each with 3 for 24 months at 37 pounds each, in return we got the i-Phone 4. Love the machine so why not, it’s a price you pay for a device you like. 2000 minutes, 5000 texts, unlimited Internet and all the calls I want to any 3-network mobiles (I only know my wife on 3). If you check my bills over the last 24 months you would see I use on average 10 call, 2 texts and some internet as I work abroad and I do not use my phone, otherwise the 37 pounds become 100 pounds a month roaming charges!. But hey, I have an i-Phone and I feel good.

My wife uses it slightly more but believe me she has never used her 2000 minutes or 5000 texts. But hey, she likes the i-Phone too.

Unfortunately she lost her phone 6 months ago, we had no insurance on it and so we just had to swallow our loss and wait for an upgrade. So I gave her mine, she uses it more than me and for the last 6 months I’ve used an old handset to make and receive calls. 37 pounds a month right down the drain! So I thought, I’ll just change my contract in November for a 10 pounds a month, get a small smart phone for free (HTC or Samsung) and be done with it. So let’s start doing the maths her and please keep track of this.
3 is about to loose 27 pounds a month income, not through their fault but just as a customer that realised, like many, “why the heck am I paying for all those minutes and texts when I don’t use them?” for the phone? Well, no longer need it and I will save that money.

So far 3 are about to loose 27 pound a months.

But guess what? The i-phone 5 comes out! Oh man, I’m a sucker for apple and I start to think “what if…” after all, I am already pay 37 pounds a month and the last 6 months I’ve literally lost that money! So let me upgrade to it, but I don’t want to pay more that what I am paying now.

By the way, it is worth pointing out here that my bills are never quite 37 pounds! Some times you make a call outside your allowance (0800 numbers) or when I am abroad so on average my bills are 40 pounds. But I don’t want another contract more than 37 pounds.

So I go to the shop and there I see advertised on a leaflet the different options. Yes it’s the i-Phone is a new phone so it is more expensive to get a new contract but on this leaflet for existing customers you can get it for free! But wait, you have to pay 39 pound a month. I said no more and I was going to stick to it. So I did some numbers in my head and I thought “8 years loyalty, 2 contracts, I am sure they will give it to me for free” so I went to negotiate with the attendant at the 3 store in Castle Point shopping centre in Bournemouth.

Here is how the conversation went:

Hi, I was thinking about reducing my tariff to 10 pounds and taking an HTC, you will loose 27 pounds a month, that is 540 pounds on my next 24 month contract! That is a lot of money! (I am, of course being cheapish here)

Why are you doing that?

I don’t really use all of the stuff you give me and besides, as you know I lost my i-Phone 6 months ago and I’ve been paying for nothing. So I think I can survive with just 10 pounds and a HTC

I guess if that is what you want… (really? So he is happy to loose 540 pounds? Wired!)

Well there is another option…


I could upgrade and get the new i-Phone…

Good idea.

But I don’t want to pay more than what I am paying now.

No problem (taps away on computer) but you will have to pay a penalty of 89 pounds for early upgrade (it’s only a month away my contract is over) and 79 pounds for the phone.

Why? The early upgrade is crazy as it is only one month, I can wait, but why for the phone?

Because for a tariff of 35 pounds you have to pay for the phone.

I am not paying 35, I am paying 37 and you are giving the phone for free for existing customers.

Only if you go up in tariff and pay 39 pounds.

But I don’t want to pay 39, I want to pay what I pay now which is 37 and have the phone for free.

Well we can’t do that.


Apple won’t let us.

What? It’s nothing to do with Apple.

It’s company arrangements and nothing we can do. If we give it for free Apple will sue us (I smell some sweet BS here)

But why?

I told you, if you pay 35 you have to pay 79 or pay 39 and get it for free! We have to pay apple the 79, they wont let us give it for free!

I told you already, I am not paying 35 I am paying 37! And why can’t you just renew my contract, ring the 79 on the till and then credit back to me, that way Apple is happy, I am happy and you have my loyalty for another 24 months!

So you want us to loose 79 pounds for you? (he give a small laugh)

Now at this point I am about to loos it but I hold on and then I present to him the clear thinking of why he should agree to give it to me for free.

I said to him “do the maths and tell me on which scenario you will loose more money” here is the maths for all of you.

Scenario 1

I change my contract and go down to 10 pounds as originally planed. I loose nothing; in fact gain 27 pounds back, 3 looses 648 pounds (my contract reduces from 888 pounds to 240 pounds for 2 years year)

Scenario 2

He gives me the i-Phone 5 for free and I keep my 37 pounds contract. I loose nothing and sign 24 more months, 3 looses (allegedly) 79 pounds, but gets to keep me and my wife happy so in fact continues to make 888 pounds X 2 for another 24 months.

Scenario 3

He pisses me off by not giving me the i-Phone and I walk away. I will cancel my contract and take my business somewhere else and take my wife’s contract when it expires next year somewhere else. I loose nothing, I take a 10 pound contract somewhere else, with an HTC handset, my wife gets the new i-phone next year with someone like Orange or O2 (I then keep her old i-phone which was mine and I am back on the i-phone, albeit 4) and 3… well they loose, again, but this time 1,776 pounds for 2 X 24 months contracts plus further business plus this article which will expose them as incompetent customer service providers and who know how much more!

Scenario 4 (So not going to happen!)

I get the 39-pound contract and get the i-Phone for free or pay for the i-Phone for 79 pounds. I loose 48 pounds on the first option or 31 pounds on the second by taking my tariff down to 35 and pay 79 for the phone, and 3… they loose nothing. (like I said, this is SO NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!)

So, do the maths, if you were 3, which scenario would you go for? (do not include scenario 4 this is SO NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!)

Yea, I think we all agree, Scenario number 2. All but 3.

And guess what? When presented with this options the attendant at the store just smiled and said, “you can give me as many numbers as you’d like but no one is going to give you the i-Phone 5 for free, it is a new product and no way anyone will give it just like that”

I looked at the leaflet in front of me that says, “39 pound upgrade and get the i-Phone for free” and I looked at him and said “But you do! Here! For 39 pounds a month you give it for free!”

“Yes sir but this is a contract…” and I stopped him, I was not prepared to listen to his policies again, I had enough by now.

“Look” I said “give me the i-phone for free and I stay, if not I will cancel next month and lave, which do you prefer as a company”

“It’s up to you sir, we can’t force you to stay but for sure you won’t get the i-Phone 5 for free”

So, my last words to him:

“Are you telling me you are prepared to loose a customer for 79 pounds?”

His last words to me:

“Sir we loose a customer today, we gain 2 tomorrow”

And with this I walked away.

So I wrote to customer services at 3 and they told them what happened with the numbers I just shared with you, and guess what? They told me the same story so they chose scenario number 3 where they stand to loos everything for 79 pounds.

By the way, I also did some maths in a different way:

If you buy the i-Phone 5, new, sim-card free it cost 547 pounds from Apple. 3 give a sim card only contract for the i-Phone 5 for 12 pounds 50 pence a month for 200 minutes, 500 texts and unlimited Internet, which you can cancel on a monthly rolling basis (good enough for my use). If I do this for 24 months (which would be the length of a contract, but you do have the option to stop at anytime without penalties) it would be 847 pounds for 2 year, what I am paying now for my current contract (actually 43 pounds cheaper if you want to be precise) so I can still get the i-Phone (and it’s mine and sim card free), not pay 3 any more money and in fact save 43 pounds and have the option to tell 3 “stick it up your ****” any time I want!

So in the end, who looses here? Not me that’s for sure!

If you believe I am right and want to let the world know how 3 has just lost one customer and then help me make sure they don’t gain 2 more as they said, share this article with everyone you know and if you are with 3, do yourself a favour, save money and go with someone else who will give you what you deserve!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I’m half way there! - SPANISH VERSION BELOW!

This week I’m turning 45. Most people tend to celebrate in big style milestones in their lives; birthdays (50 years) wedding anniversaries in multiples of 5 and many other occasions to mark a point in their lives determined by the time that has elapsed.

I usually don’t celebrate these events, whether big milestones or not, as I’m a great believer that we should celebrate thing all the time.

Why do we make a big fuss over a day someone was born but yet we don’t remember them for the reminder of the year? I guess what put me off celebrations like this was when some years ago someone, who never remembered me 364 days of the year, sent me a birthday card (which was a week later than the actual day I was born) and it contained 4 words “happy birthday to you”.  I looked at the enormous white space, which dominated the card and then focused my eyes back onto the four words. That’s when I knew that this was not for me and I would not waist my time and money celebrating something that was meaningless. Meaningless in as far as we are celebrating just one day instead of celebrating all 365 of them.

This, of course, does not mean I do not pay attention to special days; of course I do, particularly with my kids. Children like to feel special so I wouldn’t think of not celebrating their birthday, and I do like to congratulate those who I know a birthday is a special day. But if tomorrow you forgot to say to me “happy birthday to you” I would not take it against you, as long as I’m in your thoughts all 365 days of the year!

Having said all that, this year I do feel something special. And turning 45 has made me think about my life. Why? Well, unlike most people who would see celebrating 50 as a big thing, I think 45 is a special age in anyone’s life. I sat and reflected on this for a while after I engaged in a conversation with someone about this. God willing and if I look after myself properly, I suspect I will be around until I’m about 90. I think this is a good age to get to, and from personal experiences, most people get there in good shape. Anything after this is a bonus and in some cases it’s the downward turn, when things begging to go wrong as we become frail in our old age, so to get to 90, healthy and happy is a great achievement.

That’s my goal, 90. After I established this it dawned on me that turning 45 is then a big milestone, yes in other words “I am half way there!” So I began to pay particular attention to what I’ve done so far. I thought “if I’m half way there, then I only have half left!” and I began to take stock of all the things that I’ve done, thinking I have another 45 years ahead of me to do everything I haven’t done yet; make up for all those things I did wrong and enjoy another 45 years of a great gift, a gift that was given to me at birth, my life.

I found out I’ve done a lot and I’ve missed a lot but I don’t regret many things. There are a few things I would do different, if I had the chance… wait a minute, I do have the chance!

There are a few regrets, to say that one does not have any I think is not true, as at some point we all have made mistakes in our lives, what is important is to know you’ve made those mistakes and better yourself as a result of that moment in your life when you said to yourself “oh dear…that didn’t go well…” I’ve had 45 years of life long experiences that have opened up my mind to accept that I have another 45 years to do things right.

So what is there to look forward for the next half? I guess it’s a bit like playing a sport of two halves, you’ve gone in and play the first half and now you are half way, you don’t know what to expect for the second half but you know you only have that second half to win! You’ve had the first half to try and learn your opponent and now you have new tactics to help you win the match. I’m not sure what is on the other side of 45, but what I do know is that there is so much I want to do, so much I want to achieve and I’m conscious that I am half way there, so there is not much time left!

So watch this space, as they say, as I know I’m now half way there, the biggest gift I’m getting this year is a shot at the next 45 years of my life!

Estoy a la mitad del camino!

Esta semana celebro mis 45 años. La mayoría de la gente tiende a celebrar en estilo momentos importantes en sus vidas, los cumpleaños (50 años) aniversarios de boda en múltiplos de 5 y muchas otras ocasiones para marcar un punto en sus vidas determinadas por el tiempo que ha transcurrido.

Por lo general no celebrar estos eventos, ya sean grandes momentos o no, ya que soy un gran creyente de que debemos celebrar cosas todo el tiempo.

¿Por qué nos hacen un gran alboroto durante el día que nacimos? y no nos acordamos de ellos por el resto del año? Supongo que lo que me hizo pensar que no me gustan celebraciones como ésta fue cuando hace algunos años alguien, que nunca se acordaba de mí 364 días del año, me envió una tarjeta de cumpleaños (que llego una semana más tarde que la fecha real en que nací) y contenía 2 palabras "Feliz Cumpleaños". Miré el enorme espacio blanco, que dominó la tarjeta y enfoqué mis ojos de nuevo sobre las dos palabras. Fue entonces cuando supe que esto no era para mí y no iba a perder el tiempo y dinero celebrando algo que no tenía sentido. Sin sentido en la medida en que celebramos un solo día en lugar de celebrar todos los 365 días del año.

Esto, por supuesto, no quiere decir que no preste atención a los días especiales, por supuesto que sí, sobre todo con mis hijos. Los niños les gusta sentirse especial, así que celebro su cumpleaños, y me gustaría felicitar a la gente que conozco que creen que un cumpleaños es un día especial. Pero si el día de mañana te olvidaste de decirme "feliz cumpleaños" no lo tomaría en tu contra, siempre y cuando estoy en tus pensamientos los 365 días del año!

Sin embargo, este año me siento algo especial. Al cumplir 45 años me ha hecho pensar en mi vida. ¿Por qué? Pues bien, a diferencia de la mayoría de las personas que celebran 50 como una gran cosa, creo que 45 es una edad especial en la vida de cualquier persona. Me senté y reflexioné sobre esto por un rato después de una conversación con alguien sobre esto. Si Dios quiere y si me cuido bien, sospecho que llegare alrededor de los 90. Creo que esta es una buena edad para llegar, y por propias experiencias personales, la mayoría de la gente llegar en buena forma. Después de los 90 es una ventaja, y en algunos casos es el camino de baja, cuando las cosas empiezan a fallar a medida que nos volvemos débiles en nuestra vejez. Llegar a 90, sano y feliz es un gran logro.

Esa es mi meta, 90. Después de haber establecido esto me di cuenta de que celebrar los 45 es entonces un gran momento, en otras palabras: "Estoy a la mitad del camino!" Así que empecé a poner atención a lo que he hecho hasta ahora. Y pensé: "si estoy la mitad del camino, entonces sólo me queda la mitad!" Y me puse a hacer un inventario de todas las cosas que eh hecho, pensando que tengo otros 45 años para hacer todo lo que aun no eh hecho todavía; compensar todas esas cosas que hice mal y disfrutar de otros 45 años de un gran regalo, el regalo que se me dio al nacer, mi vida.

Y he hecho mucho y me he perdido mucho, pero no me arrepiento de muchas cosas. Hay un par de ellas que haría diferente si tuviera la oportunidad ... espera un momento, tengo la oportunidad!
Y también hay unas cuantas cosas que arrepentirse, y decir que uno no tiene nade de que arrepentirse creo que no es cierto, ya que en algún momento todos hemos cometido errores en nuestras vidas, lo importante es saber que has hecho mal y corregir esos momentos en tu vida cuando te dijiste a ti mismo "¡Dios mío ... creo que salio mal ..." Tengo 45 años de experiencias de toda una vida que han abierto mi mente a aceptar que tengo otros 45 años para hacer lo correcto.

Entonces, ¿qué puedo esperar en la siguiente mitad? Supongo que es un poco como jugar a un deporte de dos mitades, donde haz jugado la primera parte y ahora que está a medio camino, no sabes qué esperar de la segunda parte, pero sabes que sólo tienen ese segundo medio para ganar! Y tuviste la primera mitad para tratar de conocer a tu oponente y ahora tiene nuevas tácticas que te ayudarán a ganar el partido.

No estoy seguro de lo que me espera del el otro lado de 45, pero lo que sí sé es que hay tantas cosas que quiero hacer, tantas cosas que quiero lograr y soy consciente de que estoy a la mitad del camino, y no queda mucho tiempo!

Así que ya estoy listo, ya que sé que ahora estoy a mitad de camino y el mayor regalo que me estoy haciendo este año es la oportunidad de disfrutar los próximos 45 años de mi vida!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Talent, gift or skill? SPANISH VERSION BELOW

People will often tell you that you have a talent for something. This may be that you are good at public speaking; you have a beautiful singing voice or can add two large numbers in your head. And often you also hear people use the word gift associated with a talent; you have a gift or he is gifted. It is also important to note that talent does not always mean artistic talent, as it is often associated; yes playing the piano is a talent and a gift but painting a wall or leading a Fortune 100 company is also a talent and a gift. It is also a fact that the more you practice something, the more skillful you become: and here you will hear people say he is very skilful or he has mastered his skill

I enjoy a bit of DIY (do it yourself) so much that I have fixed my house from top to bottom all by myself. And I will put my hand to anything from painting a wall to fitting in a window. I am not claiming to be a professional and I don't know if you would pay for my work, but it is good enough for me and often my wife approves! You then have other people who cannot and will not even hang a picture in their house. You can claim "I don't have the talent for it" and here is where the question is raised. Do I have a talent for it, a gift or a skill? I have build and fitted a wooden staircase from scratch using a simple spreadsheet calculation and the right tools (worth noting I have not had formal training in woodwork). The staircase still there 6 years later and at the time I enjoyed doing it, but it is not something I would want to do for a job. I have never been professionally trained but I have done DIY all my life, so I think this is a skill and not a talent or a gift as some people have claimed when they saw the staircase. I have trained myself over the years to do most things from pluming to electrics and now in my mature years I can do this things. Could I have built the staircase when I was 18? Perhaps not as back then I did not have the practice Ive had now. I do think that unless you have the talent, it takes years to master a skill and be good at it.

So let's turn to the arts, which is the area most people tend to associate with talent. Can you play the piano? Can you sing or act? Could you paint the sixteenth chapel? I reckon you probably could. Would you be as good as Mozart playing the piano? Is this what talent is? He is, as we all know, considered a genius of the music and a gifted composer, and perhaps cases like this are exceptions to the rule, but I still maintain that if you have the passion and dedication, and work hard at it, you can reach high levels to master a skill, and you don't need to have the talent or gift to do it. Fred Astaire was told in an earlier audition in his career "you can sign and dance a little, I would not waist my time doing this" Think about this Mozart, we are told, could play brilliantly the piano at just the age of 5 and was declared a genius, Fred Astaire could not impress a producer in an audition as a young performer, yet both became gifted artists in their own right. Did one have a talent and the other mastered his skill? Fred Astaire was determined to become a great performer and he focused to achieve this, he never gave up despite being put down, instead he work hard to succeed. You would never say he was not talented.

So we circle back to the question talent, skill or a gift? I think it can be either and one of the same. I do believe there are some people who a born with a talent or a natural ability to do things, but I also believe you can become talented at anything by working on improving your skills. Those who know me have come to realize that I am an individual who will try and do anything in life. One moment you will see me with a hammer and a drill in hand fixing a door, the next I am dealing with a complex issue at work and then I will be writing a musical or play, or singing a song. A Jack-of-all-trades as they say and perhaps master of none, but I do believe that I can do anything that is put in my way. May be I don't have a natural talent or gift for anything but I have developed skills for many things and if given the chance, one day I will also learn how to fix my car!

It takes hard work and dedication to achieve anything in life, and perhaps we don't all have the passion or desire to do master a skill (me fixing a car), but one thing you should always keep in mind is that you can sing, you can add two large numbers in your head and you can fix that broken door that has been annoying you for the last 6 years, all you have to do is develop that skill and desire to do it!

Talento, habilidad o don?

A menudo la gente suele decir que se tiene talento para algo. Esto puede referirse a que eres bueno hablando en público, que tiene una bella voz, o puede sumar dos números grandes sin calculadora. Y la palabra “don” también se asocia con talento. Sin embargo, talento no siempre significa “talento artístico”, como comúnmente se relaciona. Si, tocar el piano es un talento, pero pintar una pared o ser el Director Ejecutivo de una compañía también es un talento y un don.

Soy un fanático del llamado DIY  en Ingles (hágalo usted mismo) y mi casa, de arriba abajo, esta echa por un servidor! Me gusta hacer cualquier trabajo en casa, desde pintar una pared hasta montar una ventana. No digo que sea un profesional y lo mas seguro es que no sé si pagarías por mi trabajo, pero es lo suficientemente bueno para mí. Pero claro, no todos son como yo y hay personas que no pueden y ni quieren colgar un cuadro en su casa. Al leer esto puede que pienses "no lo hago porque no tengo el talento para ello", y aquí es donde me gustaría plantear la pregunta, ¿tengo yo talento para el bricolaje o una habilidad?

Hace 6 años construí una escalera de madera en mi cases para subir al desván utilizando una simple hoja de cálculo que compre en el Internet y las herramientas adecuadas. La escalera sigue ahí 6 años más tarde, y si tuviese que hacerlo otra ves lo haría, pero fue duro y no es algo que haría como trabajo (me gusta pero no tanto!). Nunca he tenido entrenamiento profesional para hacer estos trabajos, pero llevo haciendo DIY toda mi vida. Por lo tanto creo que esta es una habilidad que eh desarrollado y no un talento. Llevo muchos años haciendo trabajos de fontanería, electricidad y decoración y ahora en mis años de madurez se me hace fácil hacer estas cosas. ¿Podría haber construido la escalera cuando tenía 18 años? Tal vez no, ya que no tenía la habilidad en ese entonces. La realidad es que a menos de que realmente tengas el talento para algo, se necesitan años para dominar una habilidad, y llegar a ser bueno en ello.

Así que vamos a hablar de el área de artes, que es donde la mayoría de la gente tiende a asociar el talento. ¿puede cualquiera tocar el piano, cantar o actuar? ¿Podrías pintar la Capilla Sixtina? Probablemente si. ¿Serías tan bueno como Mozart tocando el piano? ¿Fue Mozart un ejemplo de lo que es el talento? Mozart fue, como todos sabemos, considerado un genio de la música y tal vez casos como este son excepciones. Por lo tanto sigo manteniendo que si tienes la pasión y dedicación, y trabajas duro, puedes alcanzar un nivele alto y dominar una habilidad, y no es necesario contar con el talento o don para hacerlo.

Déjenme compartir un ejemplo para ilustrar esto. En Hollywood, un director de casting le dijo a Fred Astaire durante una audición al principio de su carrera "puedes cantar y bailar un poco, pero yo que tu no pedrería mi tiempo, búscate otro trabajo" hagamos una comparación; se dice que Mozart podría tocar el piano como un virtuoso a los 5 años de edad y Fred Astaire no pudo impresionar a un director de Hollywood en una audición al principio de su gran carrera como cantante y bailarín. Sin embargo, ambos se convirtieron en genios eh ídolos de sus profesiones artísticas. ¿seria que uno tenia talento y el otro desarrollo un habilidad? Fred Astaire estaba decidido a convertirse en un gran artista de Hollywood y trabajo duro para lograrlo, nunca se dio por vencido. La gente dice que Mozart tenia talento y nunca dirías que Fred Astaire no tenía talento.

Por lo tanto, les propongo la pregunta nuevamente; ¿talento, habilidad o don? Creo que cualquiera persona puede tener uno de ellos o todos a la vez. Hay personas que nacen con talento, eso es indiscutible, o una habilidad natural para hacer las cosas, pero también creo que se puede llegar a ser talentoso si trabajas duro en mejora tus habilidades. Los que me conocen saben que soy una persona que le gusta tratar de hacer de todo en la vida. Tanto me veréis con un martillo y un taladro en la mano arreglando una puerta, tratando con un tema complejo en el trabajo, escribiendo una obra de teatro, o cantando una canción. Un Jack de todos los oficios, como se dice en Ingles, y tal vez maestro de nada, pero creo que puedo hacer cualquier cosa que se me pone en mi camino.

Puede ser que no tenga talento natural o don ya que toda mi vida eh trabajar duro para llegar hasta donde eh llegado, y en ese camino he desarrollado muchas  habilidades y si se me da la oportunidad, algún día aprender cómo arreglar mi coche!

Se necesita trabajo duro y tener dedicación para lograr algo en la vida, y quizás no todos tienen la pasión o el deseo para hacer cosas, pero algo que siempre debes de tener en cuenta es que puedes cantar, puede sumar dos números grandes sin calculadora y puedes arreglar la puerta que lleva rota desde hace 6 meses, lo que tienes que hacer es desarrollar la habilidad y el deseo para hacerlo!

Monday, May 28, 2012

What's your standard?

I’ve been working in hotels for over 25 years and one word that drives the entire industry is “standards”. It is not only the hotel industry that is focused on standards; every industry or business uses standards to be successful at what they do. Even in our personal lives, we are guided by our own personal standards, which we set for ourselves with one thing in mind – to live a better life.

So if we pause for a moment and define the word standards, what does it tell us? Well the dictionary describes this noun as “something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; an approved model” it goes on to further define it as “an object that is regarded as the usual or most common size or form of its kind” and “a rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgement”. I think these cover most common definitions we are all familiar with. And if we asked the general public to define the word standard, they would all come close to one of the definitions above.

Think of the number of times we see the word standard in our lives? “Standard terms and conditions” “standard size” “standard operating procedures” “standard service”… and it is the latter one I want to focus my attention; “standard service”

By definition, standard service could mean a service that is given to all customers which is the same. So no matter who you are or where you come from, we will provide the same level of service to all of our customers. Let’s look how this fits our dictionary definitions; “something by general consent as a basis for comparison” – We smile at all customers. “an object that is regarded as the usual” – all of our stakes are of the highest quality. “a rule or principal used for judgement” check out time is noon. And for many years, the service industry focused on standards, missing a big piece of the puzzle called “customer service”

Unfortunately standards have also hindered our lives and have made people become rigid in the service they provide to their customers. All of us at some point would have heard the words “I’m sorry but it is not standard” which is a lame excuse for saying “I’m sorry, we don’t have the empowerment to serve you” or if something has gone wrong and you complain they would tell you “I am sorry that is not our usual standard” which often drives me nuts as if this was not their standard why did it happened? The aviation industry is driven by standards of safety to avoid the death of millions of passengers every day; you would not like it if someone close to you dies in an airplane accident and they tell you “I am sorry, it is not our usual standard”

In the earlier part of my career in the hotel industry I worked as a housekeeper and this was the breaking ground for me when it came to learn what standards are and how successful they can make you, or if ignored, brake you. As a young manager, looking after the biggest department in the hotel, I began to realise that if I was going to be successful I needed to focus on two things; my people and my standards. And soon I learned that both are connected and if in synergy, they make your very successful. People need to feel engaged to want to work for you, particularly in hard labour jobs like housekeeping. Try and clean 16 rooms every day, go home to look after your family and still smile when you go to bed, it is not easy. And then you have your boss banging on about standards! If you can do all that and still get up in the morning and smile, you know you are onto a winner!
Keeping my staff happy was not rocket science, I focused on give people what they need to do their job; make it as practical and effective as possible. Trust me, they will do their job. But no one works just for fun, but most of us at work want to have fun, that’s half the battle when it comes to loyalty and engagement. So I always made sure that work was a fun place and provide them with everything they needed to do their jobs. The latter also gave me the platform to then drive standards. You cannot ask someone to perform to standards if they don’t have the tools to do their job.

But this in itself was not sufficient to drive a work force that was happy and delivered the standards. People can be engaged and still not deliver the required standards; this is where you get the response when something goes wrong in service “it’s not our usual standard”. So how do you get someone to really consistently deliver without ever slipping from that desired performance?

Well for me it was simple and twofold; first they are my standards and I have to be always on top of them, never accept something that is below. If you do, guess what? Yes, if you accept it, this is your new standard, it become accepted and therefore the norm. Remember the definitions at the beginning? “Something considered by an authority as a consent” you’ve not said anything so you have given “consent” to that standard. You have to always accept nothing less than what you expect. As a frequent traveller I know I feel safe with certain airlines because they have “high standards of safety” actually it is not high strands of safety, they just don’t accept anything less than what is required to keep people a live.
Secondly, and perhaps even more important than maintaining my own standards, it is to get people to own the standards. In other words, your standards need to be their standards. If they do, they will not accept anything less; it’s human nature, they will soon begin to say, “it is not our standard”. So I embarked in a mission to show my employees what happens if you deliver poor standards. I took several approaches; one was to get them to experience low standards, and I asked them “would you stay in this room for 300 dollars?” This doesn’t always work, as people do not relate to something that may not be at their reach. And so I went to the core of it and I changed their working environment. I lowered “their” standards. I began to take things away, little by little, subtlety and over a period of time. Immediately people began to be disgruntle. Some came to me and asked me why I had taken some things away; I said “Oh sorry, it is not our usual standard” and gave some things back to them. Others heard this and soon enough I had a revolution in my hands. So I called a meeting and there I told everyone “who is happy with the new working conditions we have? No surprising, no one put his or her hand up. After an explanation of what they had just experience, relating it to standards and why I did it, everyone clapped and smiled and I took the opportunity to once more reinforce the important message behind the experiment; everyone needed to own and maintain the company’s standards whilst giving our customers a personalised service that meets their personal standards.

I do not claim that after this everyone delivered 100% my standards, no, not at all, but it did make my job easier when I pointed out to someone that they had not met my standards, they knew it was not personal and it was important for the customer. Since then I have never lowered my standards, I don’t have to, people always know what it is expected of them and work hard to achieve it. Those who don’t like it move on, those who can achieve it stay.

I also learned another invaluable lesson after this; everyone’s standards are different, and if a customer seems disgruntled and you think “what’s the matter with him! We’ve delivered to the standard” you may have delivered to your standards but not to his. This is where the magic happens in great customer service, the gap between you and the customer, when you deliver your standards and can meet the customer needs, no matter what they are.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Top things to ban

I use to be a smoker and for many years I didn’t mind people smoking around me. Even after I gave up, I never became one of those “anti-smoking” ex-smokers. But it soon became evident to me how disgusting this habit can be, especially when you came home from a night out smelling like an ashtray!

And then the anti-smoking campaigns brought legislation is several countries against smoking in public places and I have to admit that it was a bliss not to have to continue smoking, albeit, in a passive way, and coming home smelling like a chimney. So the banning of smoking in public places was a good thing, and it has helped in decreasing the number of smokers and reducing the risk of passive smoking for those who never smoked.

It is always hard to ban things that are part of our life. But once you get use to it you find it actually improves the quality of our lives. So I wanted to write an article to share with you some of the things I think we should ban to make everyone’s life a little bit better. I am sure everyone has their “top things I would ban” that makes everyone’s life a misery, so I propose that everyone should declare these, and may be we can all make this a better world!

First thing to ban…

People with big hair do in cinemas.

This has been in my top list for years! And this should be treated just like smoking; it’s bad for your health as you end up with a stiff neck! I am sure everyone has been a victim of someone’s big hair do at the cinema or theatre and have had to suffer missing the film as you fight to get a sight of the screen. This is my children’s biggest fear, more than the dark itself, every time we go to the cinema; for a child to have someone whose hair will block their view of the screen is not a laughing matter! So I propose that a ban is introduce to stop people with “big hair do” going to the cinema, or at any rate either flatten it or sit right at the back!

Now, some of you may share this pain with me… second thing to ban…

Reclining seats during the day in an airplane.

Now, this may not seem as important to many but as a frequent traveler with a hobby (writing) often when I travel I take the opportunity to write. I don’t travel business class and most airplanes have been designed to use as much of the space as possible to get passengers in, so you have just about enough room to take your laptop out and tinkle away on the keyboard. I do understand that in a night flight people want to sleep, but what is it with people reclining their seats during the day? This is the time when people want to work and do stuff, not sleep! And besides, sleeping in a plane has never been comfortable so why would you want to torture yourself by reclining your seat and getting a stiff neck? I think airplane designers should add an extra feature to new airplanes; you cannot recline the seat until it’s dark, a bit like your automatic lights in modern cars. Or make it as part of the safety announcements the airhostess so much hate “may we remind passengers that the use of electronic items is strictly forbidden during take off and landing and that you must not recline your seat during the day!”

Next, and perhaps one that causes the most misery in everyone’s life is…

Low cost Airlines that are not low cost.

Now surely most of us have logged onto these airlines’ websites with big banners that say “Rome for 99p” or “Athens for 2 for 10 pounds” Most of us know that there is a slight chance that this may be true but there is also a much likelier chance that this is not true. Typically these airlines call themselves low cost and they should be banned, because there is nothing low cost about them except perhaps low cost for them to run as they have cut every corner to meet their margins and produce profits whilst openly deceiving their passengers. The fair may be 99p, but you have to add taxes, which are higher than usual, as these airlines need to pay other sub charges that normal airlines don’t have to. So how do they make their money if they are low cost? All the extras, which by the time you finish adding them, it’s the cost of a regular ticket with a decent airline. So I maintain, these “low cost” airlines should be ban as this is not a true statement.  We would ask a politician to resign form his post in parliament if he openly lied, so why not stop them too! (you can tell I don’t like them right?)

I am an extrovert and I do like a chat, but this next item really should be banned!

Small talk from Taxi Drivers.

I don’t know about you but getting into a taxi and have the driver talk to you endlessly about the weather is not my idea of a fun trip. Particularly when your taxi is at 5 am and all you want to do is stare out of the window! I like talking to people, when I have something interesting to say, but random conversations in a taxi seem to be a complete waist of time and energy. “Wow it’s cold out there this morning”, well of course it is! It’s 5 am and it’s winter! What did you expect! To make my point, compare this with a pilot in an airplane. Imagine you have settle into your seat and the plane has taken off and all of the sudden you hear the pilot through the speakers say “lovely weather we are having for this time of the year” surely you’d think this is odd… and then he continues to talk endless chat which really doesn’t interests you; “those clouds are fluffier that usual…”, well it is the same thing! You get on a taxi to be driven form A to B, that’s all! Just like they put stickers in their taxis saying “No Hot Food” we should have the right to put a sticker in their taxi that says “No Small Talk” All taxi drivers who talk endless chit chat should be ban!

This next one must not be ignored and everyone should work hard to enforce the ban!

People fating in confined public spaces!

Isn’t this the same as smoking? Surely it is bad for your heath! This is one that you will agree with me, makes everyone’s life just a little bit harder. And if we banned people from releasing gasses in confined public spaces we will be able to enjoy our time much better when we are forced to share our personal space with others. You know what I am talking about, trains, cars, airplanes, cinemas and elevators; even though you know freedom is only a few floors away!  I do not deny the fact that occasionally an accidental gas may escape us in a place we would not normally do this, that’s ok, as long as that is what it is, just the one, accidental fart. But I am talking about the serial killers, the “let’s just get it all out” people who feels the need to empty their valves whilst sitting next to you! Those people should be banned and place outside in a cabin next to the smokers. So I long for the day I will hear someone say, “Fancy a fart? Let’s go outside”

When it comes to banning people from a place, this is one that should take priority…

Overly fit and well build people in Gyms

I started going to the Gym a couple of years ago. This was as a result of some pictures I saw of me at my sisters wedding. And I do enjoy now my regular visits to the gym, mainly whilst I travel and at 6 am. There are 2 reasons why I go to the gym at 6 am, which many people find insane.  First of all I am a morning person and I like getting up early. Second and perhaps the most important one, there are no fit people in the gym at this time of the morning! Even though I’ve been going to the gym for 2 years, I am an average build person who just wants to work out to stay fit. But like the rest of us, I usually feel intimidated by overly fit people who attend the gym. My argument here is simple, they are already too fit! They don’t need to be there! My routine at the gym consists of 25 minutes of cardio followed by 10 to 15 minutes of weightlifting, a very simple routine. I love doing it, except when I am running next to someone who is going twice as a fast as me and has hardly broken a sweat, or when I am trying to lift my 8 kilos dumb bell whilst the guy next to me is lifting 25 kilos in each arm!  You know what I am talking about, the stuff that makes you feel like you are not trying hard enough! But you are, they are way pass the trying hard stage. So let’s ban overly fit people from gyms or at least separate them in their own area where they can then intimidate each other whilst us average people can feel happy with our small achievements!

I could go on and on, there are so many other things I would ban to make our lives a little bit better; Talent shows that don’t look for talent (they are fun but shouldn’t call themselves talent shows), Automated answering services (they can drive you insane trying to get to the right person), Customer Service Lines that start with 0800 and 0845 numbers (you end up paying through the roof to complaint when it was their fault in the first place!) and many more.

All I am suggesting is to look for ways to making this a better world for all of us to live. Yes these things may not seem as important as banning smoking, but imagine the day when you sit to see a film and there is no big hair do in front of you and the atmosphere is fart free… wouldn’t that be something?

Remember, you need to voice your thoughts, so if you have things that make your life a misery, write about them, let people know what can make this a better place to live for you and me… maybe together we can change the world!