Learning from the great writers

There are those who believe the on-line marketers who offer us the opportunity of a large regular income for four hours work a week. The rest of us know that being successful and earning serious money involve hard work.

We can learn quite a lot from others of course. Perhaps I am not the world’s greatest marketer or the world’s greatest writer, but I do believe that in order to write my material it helps to read. It is not just a question of collecting knowledge, though in the digital age, we have the opportunity to do that (and I do). I believe it is also true to say that reading other people’s prose makes us better writers, even when we read fiction

Actually a good story helps me relax and chill out, and if there is something to admire in a writer’s style, some of which might rub off, that seems no bad thing.

Recently, because Amazon was kind enough to offer it for my Kindle, I downloaded G K Chesterton’s The Complete Father Brown Stories. I read most of the stories when I was in my early teens, which was a fair while ago, so perhaps I had not appreciated then how beautifully they are written.

Now of course I cannot plagiarise Chesterton in order to write better, and his style is of its period, which is definitely early Twentieth Century written by someone whose education was in the late Nineteenth. However, his stories are a joy to read and a reminder of how important it is to write well. If a little of his essence and that of other authors I read seeps through into my writing, it will be no bad thing.

It is like a sporty person having the chance to train with a top athlete. It can only help us to improve.

Do you enjoy fiction, and does it help when you write your own material?

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Showing us the way with enthusiasms

 

English: Radio Caroline bus

English: Radio Caroline bus (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Courtesy of Sarah Darling

The long and winding road

Do you sometimes look over your shoulder and wonder how you got where you are? In terms of learning our personal and working lives become inter-twined. Always along the way there are people whose enthusiasms permeate our souls and set us in certain directions. We carry the knowledge and excitement and interest which they instil in us and even if we don’t do things their way, their influence is what sets us in the direction we have gone.

Of course the adults around us as children build the foundation of our morality and beliefs before we start to think for ourselves, but our interests are rubbed off from people we come across, whether they are famous, or colleagues, or acquaintances.

Reaching for the stars

I have always had an interest in astronomy; at least since I saw Patrick Moore in a black-and-white Sky at Night. His infectious enthusiasm rubbed off on me and turned on my awareness of the Universe out there. I started to read science fiction at a young age starting with Angus McVicar.  I read Fred Hoyle‘s book about the “steady state” theory of the Universe, now superseded by a very different model.

Then there was pirate radio. My hero disc jockey on Radio Caroline was Johnny Walker. I thought he was really cool, and yes, we did say “cool” even in those days. It inspired an interest in pirate radio to the extent I was a pirate myself. Later I became a legal radio “ham” because I acquired an interest in the science of radio.

Possibilities

Then when I started working in tax, there was a guy whose first name was Tom. He had a very comprehensive knowledge of tax and was seen as the oracle. He showed me what was possible. Sadly our relationship somehow soured. I never really knew what put him off me. It was that way round. Yes, he became a block to my career, but the ball was in my court to move on. It wasn’t his problem and I was sad that I could not stay in touch. I am still grateful for my time with him.

After I left that firm, my career took off,which is what I had intended.

I went a few years without another major influence. I made some dear friends with the national firm I joined who are still my friends today.

The new dawn

Later, after my career in employment ceased in a rather unplanned fashion, I tried to reorientate myself for the self-employed world. I went on sales courses, but they always made me rather uncomfortable. Then someone said I should read Zig Ziglar. I saw how easy selling could be. I saw that selling was about giving comfort to the prospect at the same time as giving comfort to me. Previously I had always worried that the prospect would end up not wanting my services and would hold this against me. Zig’s way is to make sure your prospect has what she wants, and that is what you want. Later, I read Dale Carnegie and saw where so much of these ideas might have come from. Everyone should read Zig and Dale Carnegie if they want to get on in business.

Marketing was hard at the beginning. In 2003 I joined Ecademy. Within a couple of weeks I met Thomas Power. I am very glad I did. He may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but tea is a matter of taste. I met Penny Power too very soon, but Thomas’s knowledge of and enthusiasm about everything we should be doing on-line to market our businesses was hugely influential for me. I learned so much so quickly. 2003 was 1BF (Before Facebook). So thank you, Thomas and Penny, for the last nine years, and thank you Andrew Widgery for bringing us together.

Of course I met my wife in August 2000 and she is a lovely influence at home and keeps me calm and focussed and on the rails. I am very lucky.

Thank you Patrick and Johnny and Tom and Zig. Anyone would think I had won an Oscar with all this thanking. I would not have what I have without all those people though. I might have had something else, but I like what I have. Of course I have missed a few “thank yous”. I will catch up one day.

Who has influenced you to achieve, and excited you with their ideas?

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Learning from experience – the choices we make

Learning to ride the business bike

It is only natural to wonder about “what ifs?” which are the choices we might have made in our lives but didn’t. Mostly we will form a view when it is too late to change. That is because as time passes we have the benefit of experience and feel we might have made a better choice.

So my choices might have been:

  • Should I have gone to that college? – No idea.
  • Should I have proposed to that girl I was madly in love with? – Yes.
  • Should I have emigrated to Canada in my twenties – Maybe but at least now I am not far from my parents who are really getting on a bit.
  • Should I have bought that house thirty years ago? – Probably yes.
  • Should I have found out what problem my colleague seemed to have with me over twenty years ago? – Yes.
  • Should I have bought our current house -Yes.
  • Should I have taken that job? – No, bad decision but I learned I was darned good at what I do so took away positives.

So we do at least have some of the answers after we learn from experience. What is important is both to learn and also not to have any regrets, because they distract us. So if I should have proposed to that girl all those years ago, at least I did propose to my wife much more recently and I am very happy that I did and she accepted. 🙂

When we start out in business we do make mistakes. We waste money on directory listings, we get caught out by scams. We try to compete on price rather than value for services when that should not be our market. We don’t differentiate ourselves from the competition.

We should learn from our experience. I think I have learned a lot about running a business. When we get on our bikes for the first time we have to learn how to ride them. I am sure I don’t know all the answers in business, as no one does. I am still willing to learn. Have you learned any harsh lessons which helped you make a better business?

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