On Saturday I had the (mostly) pleasure of looking after my three (mostly) delightful children as Helen my wife had a very well earned rest. It was fine as I had my activities all lined up including visiting my local hospice who were having a spring fair. That occupied a couple of hours and we came away with a bag full of goodies including 2 teddy bears larger than the children who won them!! After a lovely lunch at Timoney’s Café and Deli in Oakwood we headed for an ice cream at a relatively new shop on the parade: Knickerbocker Shakes. By now it was 2pm and I was doing great.
Three Bubblegum, flavoured ice creams were ordered and within seconds three children had blue mouths and chins. The delight on their faces was priceless.
Until they each reached the bottom of their cones. No bubblegum in sight. If there is one thing my children like then its chewing the gum at the bottom of the ice cream they usually buy from the ice cream van at the local park. Building self esteem in children is essential so I usually encourage my children to ask for help whenever we need it when we are out and about so I asked them to go and ask the young lady assistant if they could have a bubblegum.
I was so proud watching them as they approached the counter hand in hand. Skye being the eldest did most of the talking and it went a little something like this.
Skye; “We were expecting a bubblegum in the bottom of our ice-creams and there isn’t one”.
Assistant: “What did you buy”? (she had just told her what they had bought)
Skye: “Bubblegum ice creams”.
Assistant “Ah, they are bubblegum flavoured and you don’t actually get a bubblegum with them”.
There was then an awkward silence whilst the children wondered what their next move was. The assistant never smiled once at what was an extremely sweet scene and then explained that if they had some she would have personally given them one each.
My children learned another of lifes lessons, being that we don’t always get what we want. I almost burst out laughing when Ellis my son said “She’s lying Dad”. Right beside us was one of the largest bubblegum machines I had ever seen. No I have no idea whether or not there were any bubblegums available in that shop but surely a simple something, maybe a sweet with a cost of a fraction of a penny would have given the children a feeling of joy. Instead they were disappointed and I imagine they will be reluctant to ask to be taken there for an ice cream again, instead they will revert to the ice cream van in the park who sometimes gives them two bubblegums’ at the bottom of his cones.
What is your equivalent of a bubblegum that you should be offering your customers, clients or those around you.
I have received a parking charge on the above date and time. Its a genuine mistake as I was not driving my car so when I entered the registration of the vehicle I inadvertently entered my own car. MW56 XXX
If you check the records of tickets purchased you will see that I purchased a ticket minutes after entering the car park but with the incorrect registration. I trust this explains the oversight. Something to do with juggling 3 kids under 6 whilst my wife had a well earned rest. To be honest with you I should have been doing this sort of thing much sooner than this. Its only recently that I have acknowledged how difficult it is to bring up children. And to be honest with you I never really appreciated how difficult things were for my own mother who had four children under the age of 7. She deserves a medal. Do you have children? Aren’t they amazing? My own son Ellis loves Domino Toppling and spends hours on the iPad watching the world records for domino toppling. How things would have been much easier for my own mother in the 70′s is iPads were around then. We didn’t have much and even having a writing pad was a momentous occasion. I remember buying my own Basildon Bond writing pad at the age of 10 or thereabouts. Oh, how posh I thought I was. The only thing was I had no one to write to. Thats probably been the story of my life which is why when ever I get the opportunity I write to people. I hope you don’t mind. I do hope you manage to write back and that I don’t simply get an automated letter like I have from British Gas, The Lottery Heritage Fund, 10 Downing Street and far too many to mention although I do have the list should you want to take a look. Its so impersonal and leaves me believing my words are falling on deaf ears. Or blind eyes.
So thanks for listening (reading), have a great day sending out parking charge notices. I know you get a bad press at times but behind the automated messages you a human like me. You have your ups and downs like everyone else. Stick in there. Deep down the British public love you. Don’t have nightmares. Try Match.com or salsa.
Very best wishes
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Last Sunday I drove to North Wales after I heard from someone who I knew in the area, who had heard about an unusual request. A friend of a friend knew of a 75 year old man who recently had been told that he didn’t have too long to live. When Eric had discovered this he asked whether or not it could be possible for him to have a copy of the picture of himself with the Olympic Torch which was taken when it visited the local hospice where he was staying. The bad news was that the photographer had deleted the image from his PC by mistake and it wasn’t going to be possible. A Friend of Eric put out a request through their network and that led Rich, my friend, to call me knowing I had ran with the torch and I had one at home. Initially I wondered whether or not I could put my feelers out and find someone local to pay Eric a visit to grant one of his dying wishes. But then I thought about it: Wales wasn’t as far from Leeds as it may sound and as I was in Runcorn carrying out some speaker coaching on the Monday I offered to visit Eric in Wales first thing Monday by driving down Sunday evening to be there early. The look on the face of Eric as I walked into his hospital room with my Olympic tracksuit was priceless. A very moving occasion I must say and I was so glad to make him feel a VIP. He was. I imagined how I might feel at the age of 75 with limited days, able to achieve a dying wish.
Yesterday I was speaking in Lincoln and Gainsborough College having spoken to students there for the last few years. As always, the reaction to the three talks I gave couldn’t have been more different. I’m always fascinated by how different audiences can react is so many different ways. But I did come away with a fantastic story which I heard from one of the Learning Support Assistant’s who approached me after my first talk to say how much he enjoyed the talk but also to say how much he could relate to my comment about positive outcomes often originating in what at first appears to be negative.
Myself and Peter Flanagan. I think you can see by his expression he loves what he does.
Heres a brief outline to what happened to him. 5 years ago Peter Fannagan was working as a postman, a job that he couldn’t stand, and one day he slipped in his shower and broke his collar bone and damaged his tendons. This of course meant that he had to have some time off from the job that he hated: Maybe that in itself was positive but I think you’ll agree with me that it wasn’t too positive when he was finally dismissed. Whilst out of work and feeling little sorry for himself due to receiving his ESA allowance and with no prospect of getting back into work he came across a course at college that would allow him if he passed, to work with young people (who would want that job?), (him). He threw himself into the course, although not too aggressively as he didn’t want to break the other collar bone and passed and secured his current role at the college working with young people where he has been ever since.
Coincidentally he is also in a band called Shanarchy which he told me is Gaelic for the man who stands up to tell stories.
I was so pleased to hear him tell me that his current job is “The best job he has ever had”. Fantastic. How about you, are you in the best job you have ever had? Are you languishing in a role you can’t stand? Don’t wait until you break your collar bone: don’t wait until you’re forced out of your role, don’t wait until someone else makes the decision for you. Do something about it.
As a motivational speaker, presentation skills coach and author I have to say that I truly am in the best job I have ever had. And I created it. No one gave it to me. I made a commitment in the second week of November 2006 to pursue this career which has taken me as far and wide as Switzerland, South Africa and more recently Malaysia.
What are you waiting for?
Incidentally, if part of your future plans is to become a person who stands up to tell stories then you may be interested in attending one of my ‘iCan Speak’ Bootcamps which will be taking place in January in the north and south. Click here for details.
Wow. What an amazing trip to Malaysia I have just returned from. It was simply out of this world. Why? Well I felt right from the beginning that I was a star. First of all the client who had initially heard me speak in South Africa agreed to fly me business class out to Kuala Lumpur. This began with a chauffeur collecting me from my home in Leeds to the airport in Manchester. Amazing.
Interestingly and by a complete coincidence I spotted a fellow speaker and friend Paul McGee checking onto the same flight as me heading for my half way stop in Dubai. Fantastic start, which helped me forget the problems I had getting my Olympic Torch through security.
Meeting with Paul McGee in the bar on the Plane: (I’m drinking apple juice by the way)
We happened to have one of the new Airbus 380s, which amazingly allowed Paul and I to spend some time stood up at the bar at the rear of the plane. We parted company once we arrived in Dubai and then my journey went to another level. As I went through the departure gate I was informed by the attendant that I had been upgraded to First Class. Me, First Class surely not. I had not seen anything like it and I felt over the moon, I was on cloud 9. Actually I was in the clouds within minutes, but I have no idea what number it was.
My seat may as well have been an apartment with sliding doors, waitress service and a seat that turned into a bed at the touch of a button. Amazing.
I arrived in Kuala Lumpur in one piece and reluctantly I left the plane and headed for my hotel where I spoke to delegates from 45 countries the following morning. Whilst I was there I had arranged to do a Skype call for the BBC on Sunday morning and after I complained to the receptionist in the hotel that my ADSL cable was not working they upgraded me to a far superior room with a fantastic view of the the Petronas Twin Towers. This trip was beginning to feel like the kind of trip Midas would have enjoyed. Everything was Amazing!
The following day I decided to make a 24 hour trip over to Vietnam to see if I could make good use of my first time in Asia and a friend of mine, Andy Lopata, introduced me to The Chamber of Commerce in Ho-Chi Min City. By a complete fluke the hotel I had booked into was one that Andy knew, as he had spoken there earlier in the year. You can imagine how pleased I was when the hotel manager told me that Andy had informed him of my imminent arrival and that I would be upgraded to the Business Suite. Wow! Was there nothing that could go wrong for me. The room was incredible and the Business Centre on the top floor where my room was was fit for Sir Alan Sugar.
I had my meeting with the contact Andy had put me in touch with and I then went and visited the Wrap and Roll restaurant in the middle of the city. Beautiful food. I went to a bar later, which turned out to be on the top of a 38 story building with incredible views of the city at night. The bar with DJ on top of a building open to the elements was worth the trip alone. Amazing.
The next day it was the start of my trip home. Three flights and around 6000 miles. Can you believe my luck when I was once again upgraded to first class on my return leg from Dubai to Manchester. It was as though the Universe was plotting to make this trip a trip of a life time. I really didn’t want the trip to end and as I was heading towards the passport control in Manchester I felt the urge to turn around and get back on the Upgraded Trip around the world. Of course I had my wife and children to get back to so that wasn’t going to happen some time soon. I missed them so much, and as much as I enjoyed being upgraded at every corner, nothing was as fantastic as getting back to the family.
Sadly the upgrades stopped as soon as I went to collect my bags. I was shocked to find that I had to pay for the trolley for my suitcases. I had no change! Not one of the airports in Dubia, Kuala Lumpur or Vietnam had charged passengers for the trolley, but yes, Manchester had. I had well and truly been downgraded.
I was so saddened to see a new arrival into the country attempt to get her trolley out of where they were kept, but struggled to do so as she had not inserted her £1 coin. And of course as she had just arrived in the UK she had no sterling change. I was actually embarrassed by this.
What a trip what and also what a lesson for all of us. No matter if we have our own business, whether or not we are in a leadership position or simply work within an organisation, we have to think about how we can create those amazing upgraded moments that made my trip to Malaysia so memorable. Give your clients something extra at no extra cost, go a little further for the organisation you work for or simply buy a bunch of flowers for your other half that they weren’t expecting. Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade.
Well, what was I thinking of? I had missed the opportunity recently to mention the fact that I, Richard McCann was excepted to carry the Olympic Torch. I can’t begin to tell you what that was like.
Actually iCan. It was amazing. From initially being accepted I was thrilled but nothing compared me with what occurred on 24th June in my home town of Leeds. I don’t usually write lengthy blogs but it was a special occasion so I bought I would tell you a little bit about it.
We were invited the the civic reception at Leeds Town Hall a couple of weeks earlier and we (thats me, my wife and Children) arrived fashionably late. It didn’t matter because as we arrived the official photographer was leaving and asked if we could stand with the torch as a family for a picture. Of course we would. You know me by now. It was the first time that I held one of the torched and it was fantastic. The picture was great especially to have my wife and children in the shot.
After a few words from some of the torch bearers and officials we were taken outside and asked to line up on the steps of Leeds Town Hall.
I’m the one with Ginger Hair. The pieces of paper each of us held was so that the photographers could identify us. They took a picture with us holding the pieces of paper and then asked us to drop them and took the picture again.
There were so many others each of whom had their own inspirational story to tell.
Two weeks later was the big day. I arrived alone at the pick up point with the others and met Wenlock, one of the mascots. We were greeted by the lovely team who would guide us through the process. We were checked in, given our number and shown a DVD about what to expect. I was getting excited by now. As we were being briefed I was aware that the torch was over in Ilkley before it was shipped over to Leeds for us to do our 300m stint.
Here we are making our way to the bus. You can’t see me so stop trying to find me. I’m at the back taking the picture.
When we got the the bus and car which was going to escort us to the start of the proceedings in Leeds we were greeted by a sight for sore eyes. 18 Torches lined up ready to be carried and looking quite majestical.
Wow. Now things were getting serious. This was beginning to hit home. We were going to carry the Olympic Torch. One that began it’s journey In Greece as few months earlier.
Whilst being escorted by the police we were each asked to stand up and say a few words about who we were. I was first. Well I was to be the first torchbearer in Leeds, which was thrilled at, so up I got. It was amazing as we drove through the streets seeing everyone beginning to line the streets. A few onlookers realised who we were and were taking pictures.
And then finally we arrived at the start. The crowds were amazing and far bigger than I had anticipated. I stepped off the bus and took a picture as we waited for the torch to make its way from Ilkley by coach.The tension was building and my sister Donna showed her face at the side of the bus. Great. I thought. At least some of the family are here. Then I spotted my father which I was thrilled at. He looked so pleased to see me there and I was him.
And then I was asked to get off the bus and wait for the lantern with the flame to make its way to where I was. The buys with the other torch bearers left me and then something incredible happened. People were rushing up to me to get a picture with me and the torch. Mums were pouncing on me and pushing their children towards me to have a picture taken. It was a bit overwhelming If i’m honest. Then someone came to ask if I would do a bit of a parade with the unlit torch as many of them couldn’t see the torch. I agreed to do a short run in a circle where we were. Luckily it was a t a cross roads so I could do a small loop but the crowds were closing in on me. Then before I knew it the bus arrived full of Met Police officers who had the flame safely contained in a lantern. You can see what happened next in this short video of the start of my 300m.
It was incredible.
The little kick that you saw there appeared in the local newspaper as a double spread picture and eventually on the Hello Magazine website.
As I carried out my torch bearing I couldn’t see my family anywhere. I ran at a very slow pace trying to see them but they were nowhere. The officer running alongside me asked me to speed things up but I pleased with him as I had not seen my family. As I got to the end of my stint he asked how he could spot them. I knew Helen my wife had made a poster saying ‘Run Daddy’ which I told him about. Thankfully he spotted it and I ran over to them, full of pride, and almost in tears as I saw the delight in the eyes of my three children.
It’s a day and an experience that I shall not forget whilst I am on this planet. I was incredibly proud of being involved and my torch experience was in memory of my mother Wilma McCann and her desperately missed daughter and my incredible sister, Sonia. RIP
So I’m sat with my Mac, not logged onto Wi-Fi and I’m at the Holiday Inn in Garforth on the outside of Leeds. The Reason: I’m currently writing a proposal for my 4th book and in this world of distractions (or is it just me) I need to focus. Everything is going well until around 11am when my stomach begins making noises which are at risk of setting off the fire alarm. I was starving. Mathew behind the bar made his way over after I had beckoned him. I ordered a tea, my second of the day and I asked if I could have a buttered scone to nibble on until lunch. Off he went.
By the time he returned with the tea I was on the phone as I had forgotten to switch off the iPhone but who knows it may have been a client asking me to go speak out in Vietnam or some other wonderful place (it happened recently). I noticed the lack of scone buttered or otherwise but I would have to wait until the call ended before I reminded him. It may have been his first day on the job so I would go gentle. It wasn’t a request to go to Vietnam so I decided the phone should be turned off.
Mathew could see my call was over so made his way over and explained that there had no scones. “Don’t worry I’ve ordered you some toast”. Wow! Toast I thought. Perfcct. It was as though he had read my mind. I needed something to keep me going until lunch and toast was what I would have asked for. It was a little risky on his part but it paid off. I was taken aback that he had used his initiative so much that for some time I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
As I was leaving I spoke with his manager who was also working in the bar area. What surprised me even more was that it was in fact Mathew’s first day. Wow! Well, not quite his first day the bar manager had explained. He had been promoted from his position as back room staff but this was his first few hours working in the bar dealing with the public.
With that kind of initiative Mathew will go a long way.
How about you? How can you have people saying Wow about what you do? Your boss, your colleague, your client. Need some help? Go see Mathew at the Holiday Inn, Garforth Leeds. Word of warning: They don’t do scones.
At the age of 5 there wasn’t much money in our house. That goes without saying if you have read my books or heard me speak. But despite the poverty that engulfed the whole family and most possibly the entire estate where we lived there was something I was acutely aware of: There were possibilities all around me to have ‘things’.
Our next door neighbor was an elderly lady who couldn’t get around very well and she seemed to take a shine to me. On one occasion she asked whether or not I would go to the shop for her. Heaven knows what she was thinking of as I had to cross the main road to get there. On the first occasion she gave me a few pence out of her change for my errand. I couldn’t believe it. It was as though I had won the lottery and I could now go and buy some sweets from the shop which for us back then was a very rare occasion being brought up on benefits.
So, from then on I made it my business to call in on the neighbour, maybe more than I should have, in the hope that she would think of something to send me to the shop for and once again receive my pennies.
It wasn’t the only opportunity I spotted 36 years ago as back then mum used to receive Green Shield Stamps which she would receive from the local grocery shop each time she shopped there. I worked out that if it was me that collected them in the book that once I had filled the book I would receive some money from the shopkeeper to spend on things for myself.
Years later when I worked for a ladies-wear wholesaler selling knitwear and suchlike to market traders I worked out that if I bought a few garments and allowed women who worked in various factories to show the ‘range’ to their colleagues and provided them with a price list and an offer of 10% commission on anything they sold that I could make a few pounds.
Nowadays that determination to continually look for opportunities has served me well. Just today there was an article on the BBC website with a call for Teenagers to receive Speaker Training in schools to help with their employability.
As this is something I already offer to adults I asked my p.a to contact all the schools I have ever worked with to offer this service. Its a glaringly obvious opportunity not only to secure more work but also to make a lasting difference in the lives of young people.
How about you? Are you waiting for opportunities to come to you? Or are you looking under every stone for the opportunities that are not always visible at first glance.
Pick up some of those stones right now. You never know what you might find.
This week I retuned from South Africa where I spoke on Sunday to a room of professional speakers. I wrapped around my story the impact of various words throughout my life.
“Richard, wake up. Mums not come home, lets go look for her” were some of the most significant in my life back in 1975. I had no idea what lay behind those words from my 7 year old sister and what was to unfold that day. We never saw mum again.
I have heard other significant words throughout my life and i’m sure you have too.
I’m starting some initial research into stories that surround the most important words people have heard in their lives. Would you be willing to share the words that mattered most to you in your life?
At this point, all I need are the words, and a small story describing how those words came about. I’ll come back to you to fill out your story as necessary. Funny, sad, genuine, transformative. Perhaps these words mattered because of who said them to you. All will work.
Because the stories will end up in a book, I’ll get back to you for
Enter your words and short description in the box below as well as some contact details.