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The Fourth Wave

20 May

Digital Age: The Fourth Wave of Technology

small is beautiful in Kings bloody Cross.

9 Nov

bang tang

This is a story of a tale of two cities. Make that two suburbs if you can call Kings Cross (Sydney) a suburb. Not so long ago it was the sleaze centre. The red light district with all the recognisable accoutrements such as sex, drugs, crime and desperation. For a while there when a few rogue cops were in charge, the place was so out of control, dealers, druggies and working girls plied their trade right out in the open and the back streets were a no go zone littered with used drug paraphernalia. One of those backstreets was Llankelly Place – a byway from Darlinghurst Road to Hughes Street (home of the Wayside Chapel.)

But things have changed quite dramatically.

Like some barren parts of NYC, Kings Cross has been gentrified.

Llankelly Place is a foodie strip now with clever little places that offer sometimes amazingly clever food. These are far from the fine dining palazzos but are often run by escapees from their kitchens.

The other night I discovered a tiny place that had so much character it was palpable.

Bang Tang offers (at the moment) two choices > salads and rolls. Not bread rolls. Vietnamese style rice paper rolls.

We tried it last night sitting down out the front among the mismatched second hand furniture. The salad was amazingly fresh featuring poached chicken or prawns with fruit, flowers, nuts and the usual salad stuff (tomatoes, leaves, cucumber …) with really spicy dressings.

It wasn’t just the food that was ultra fresh > so was the service.

Shown here in a photo with my son Max, these guys were trained in some of the best fine dining joints in town and it showed.

Enthusiastic, friendly, delicious and fun … places like this are forging a new revolution in urban living.

Oh and I forgot to mention that the food is reasonable priced too (or should I say realistically priced) in a city that’s fast becoming one of the most expensive in the world.

Yes. Small is beautiful in Kings bloody Cross.

NOTE: Kings bloody Cross comes from the Australian novel (and subsequent movie) They’re a Weird Mob written by John O’Grady under the pseudonym “Nino Culotta” about an Italian immigrant to Sydney in the early 1960’s. He gets off the boat and hops into a taxi handing the driver an address. “OK mate. Kings Bloody Cross it is.”

Or words to that effect …

The politics of great coffee

30 Jan

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My cousin is a coffee nut. She’s an aficionado. Coffee is important to her. She appreciates good coffee.

What I mean is, when she forks out between $3.50 – $4.50 for a takeaway coffee she hopes it’s going to be well made.

The problem is that you can count on your hand the number of places where the coffee is properly made. Where there’s a trained barista working the ‘piano.’ Where the taste and the blend, the colour and thickness of the froth are just as important as the silly leaf pattern.

She can be embarrassing too, this cousin of mine. It’s pretty confronting going to get a coffee with her. You know why? She speaks her mind. She tells them if the coffee is not up to her standards. She tells them and I back slowly away.

I’m tainted with that english politeness. Here in Australia, we were colonised by the British and that’s one of the hangovers. Politeness. We tend to seethe not speak up. We vote with our feet.

Is that good? NO.

Last week my cuz was in her local cafe (she lives out of Sydney.) She happened to compliment the young lady making the coffee. It was good. Up to her standards. The owner overheard this and exclaimed … ‘Oh. Coffee politics!’

No it’s not coffee politics at all. If you run a cafe, you make coffee. The coffee is supposed to be good at a cafe, hence the name … cafe.

Is it strange to expect your customers to not care about the coffee you serve?

Go on. Invest in your self, your staff.

Train them up. Give them the goal to make prize winning coffee. Make them proud!

And, get out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat.

Anger = no training

14 Jan

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This is a true story. The names have been changed to protect the protagonists …

Just recently, while staying at a friends house while they travelled, I had to wait for a new pool pump to be installed (the old one had broken down under warranty.)

Days went by and there was no communication from the company involved.

Meanwhile the pool was getting greener and the weather hotter.

My 12 year old son was waiting to have a swim but couldn’t because of the state of the pool.

I rang the company and spoke to the owner. She seemed quite cranky when i asked her what was happening to the pump.

After much to and fro-ing, the guy finally arrived to install the new (replacement) pump. As the guy was fitting it, he discovered another problem with a valve. He told me that he would ensure the owner of the business would call me re fitting the extra valve. By 11.00 am the following morning there had been no call so I rang them.

When I expressed my frustration, the owner lost her temper.

I told he that I wrote training packages on customer service, but she kept right on talking.

I said ‘but I’m the customer!’

She didn’t hear me but finished up by saying “we’ve gone out of our way for you.” She clearly hadn’t. She then hung the phone up and I was left feeling a little bit (not a lot) unhappy. Because I train in these areas I thought about how she must have felt. Stressed, unappreciated and just plain angry.

Dealing with difficult customers is something all business people need to do with the one aim of keeping the customer happy, because every angry customer tells another 10 people and so on.

Try this:

Depersonalise and strategise

Listen

Come up with solutions

Make a friend of an enemy …

and they will tell 10 people how great you are.

The issue is that many people in business don’t have any training in these areas.

They do take things personally.

Things go wrong. That’s natural.

But if you handle the situation calmly and strategically you make many friends.

I just want to be a useful little engine

22 Nov

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I do love being a dad. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had. I especially used to love watching the kids shows with my son when he was a bit younger. He’s on his way to becoming a teenager so we’ll see … but he’s still my boy.

We used to watch a lot of shows together like Fireman Sam, Postman Pat and of course Thomas the Tank Engine. What I really enjoyed was the cosy atmosphere of the small villages where these shows are set. Some are in Wales and feature the beautiful lilting Welsh accent (it’s not a burr is it?) Tight knit communities where everyone seemed to be looking after each other. The characters are warm and friendly and … sweet.

Which brings me to Thomas and his oft heard catch cry “I just want to be a useful little engine!” Sometimes the Fat Controller gave Thomas a real job to do and off he’d go with his smile beaming.

There are lots of people in businesses and organisations everywhere that just want the same thing. They do their job and put something extra in and sometimes, even often, they are overlooked. Why? Because some other engines aren’t so humble. They roar around and make sure they’re seen.

I work with a Thomas. It’s a she actually. She’s a front line customer service/technical support for a medical business and she does a great job. You only have to hear her on the phone to notice the goodwill she spreads. Nothing is a problem and she not only sells, but advises and counsels. It’s all part of the job for this lady.

She’s a useful little engine!

Where would we be without them?

Take time to notice all the useful little engines at your workplace. Get them to train up or mentor other little engines. make it best practice and … reward them!

Love makes the business world go round.