Vodafone… Disaster of a business… But they’re raking it in while we wait…

Some of you may have seen my previous blog on Vodafone… it was relatively dull and lengthy, but that’s how it feels dealing with them…

Yet once again they surpass amazement when they implement a cancellation fee to my account of their own accord and then cut my phone off…

Travelling into London over a week ago when this happened, so I paid the full outstanding balance and the phone should have been activated instantly ready for me to call back and question the high charges in the PM… however, the phone is not active at this point, nor is it for a further 24 hours…

I call the same day as I pay the bill and they notify me that they’ve made (yet another) mistake!! And they shouldn’t have billed me the extra £570+ I was charged. One of their team had set up an early termination fee at random and I was billed for it…

So at this point, still a week ago I ask for a refund, this must have been last Monday as I chase up on the refund… They tell me that before any refund they have to apply the credit to my account then chat to the bank to refund to my direct debit account (even though I’ve paid on a commercial card), I suggest refunding to my card, they suggest debit… 2 days later I chase and they tell me they can’t refund onto a direct debit (as suspected, hence why I told them to just refund the card) and they tell me they have to refund the card… So this was supposed to happen by last Wednesday and could take up to 3 working days, but they promise it’s done…

Co-meth Monday and I’m in London again with clients and low and behold there’s no refund… I chase again, I subject a poor innocent lady to my tirade, as at this point I’m going to scream and she tells me she’ll register a complaint about the previous account manager and she promises again she’s refunded me…

Now I have to sit and keep my mouth shut for up to another 3+ working days because the fine print states that they couldn’t possibly actually give you a straight answer or definitive timescale and trusting what a Vodafone customer manager tells you is like leaving your valuables on the streets of London and expecting to find them again later the same day…

So I say unto you Vodafone, oh mighty commercial entity, why don’t you just hire someone useful to implement the necessary CRM/ERP, phone, or customer management systems in order for you to stop cocking up?

Give me £150,000 and 12 months and I’ll sort it out for you… It genuinely can’t be as complex and fractured as it seems to the consumer…?!

I suspect that the majority of these processes are simply designed to confuse and bank millions of unsuspecting customers finances in the want to generate interest off holding our hard earned money while you faff about doing refunds. it would not surprise me if there was a team dedicated to dicking about with customer revenue before it goes back in their pot.

The reason this really grates on me so much is because as a person who’s trained call centres full of staff for around 10-12 years, I am tenacious enough to raid you with calls if necessary and finally see an end gain in my quest for regular service (where at all possible) and the average person on the street isn’t…

So what happens to the dad with 2 jobs, working to support his wife and kids towards their 1 holiday of the year, before Vodafone in their infinite wisdom, dock him of £500+ for no reason, leaving him no travel money… Can he afford to wait the 10 days or more it may take to eventually get his money back? Or should he call up multiple times during the course of his holiday while trying to hide the concern from his wife so it doesn’t effect their time away…?

Who’s going to stick up for that guy, the guy with the anxiety attack as he walks to the beach knowing he can’t afford the lunch… And that his kids will want an ice cream…

No one at Vodafone is looking out for those guys I can tell you that for nothing!

And so I persist in my endeavour to help them get their finger out in realising the issues but the internal processes are so convoluted they can’t even register enough interest to make my customer journey a positive one and I’m spelling it out for them… I wouldn’t hold out for ice cream that’s all I’d say!

Single mum of 2 kids, booked herself a spa weekend while the kids are with grandma, she arrives at the venue after months of planning having already paid her holding deposit, where she’s due to pay the remainder of the fee before partaking in her scheduled appointments with the massage therapists etc. But her card doesn’t work, because Vodafone have docked her £500+, the profits of which should cover a new gold and diamond encrusted letter opener for the directors offices and now the poor lady is stood at reception unable to book into her room or afford the weekend she was banking on…

But Vodafone funnily enough don’t see this, they’ll have to register the money docked back onto her Vodafone account, this could take some time but only then will they be able to show that to the bank and try and get her a refund… But wait, she has to wait at least 3 working days for the refund and they can’t guarantee that it will happen… So her weekends destroyed, she calls mum, but mum’s pension is not due for another few weeks and she doesn’t have the savings to help… She calls a money lending service at 1000%apr and she’s sorted, she gets her weekend, she’ll just have to spend the rest of the year paying off the interest that Vodafone cost her, while they’ve probably tripled that in the interest they made of her money when banked alongside the guy in my comments above, plus myself…

So now there are 3 gold and diamond encrusted letter openers on their way to head office but just three very unhappy, upset and anxious customers…

The world makes sense again… thanks Vodafone!

P.S. if the money’s not refunded in 3 days I will be calling back… But in the interim if you could consider the above cases and make some effort in sorting out your process management then that would be ideal…

The Mother of Lost Boys…

It’s been a while since my last blog… Not one of these self obsessed, glued to their keyboard…

I don’t know why it’s been so long but if I consider the analysis then there’s definitely been more of a void within me during the course of this year. We’re nearly half way into 2017 and where the hell did January go?!

My issue is probably based around the fact that I don’t talk, I think, I think rapidly, I think so rapidly that I can barely contemplate the thought process but it’s all being locked in. I feel anxious thinking about my future, at the moment the endless treadmill that seems so positive is destined to fizzle out if I don’t make a change at the core.

I don’t long for the flamboyancy or the vanity within the industries within which I exist I feel like Jerry Maguire when he sat up all night putting his memo together… The things we think and do not say…

I don’t really ‘say’ anything!

I sit twisted in thought and sickness within, feeling every numbing pulse of the blood as it runs through my veins, lost in translation, lost in the sickly sinews that course within us, destined to drag a bright day into the shadows…

“Once more, unto the breech dear friends, once more” before we leave the house with our painted face to the world, perhaps the Beatles said it best with the phrase in Eleanor Rigby, “wearing her face that she keeps in a jar by the door, who is it for?” Every footstep beyond the threshold must ensure that the issues lie within, there’s no-one there to catch you on a cliff edge, if your mid fails, you fall, we are the captains of our own fate. The daily smile that’s structured in to ensure stability, how long before it shatters?

The Mother of Lost Boys

I recently found out that a woman I knew for a long while had died. She was taken from us by cancer…

At 19, in around 2005, after being chucked out of drama school without any real support from within, I set out to find a job and get myself together.

And what do failed actors usually do? They work in telemarketing or telesales. So I went for a few interviews, as I’d had some experience before and I found a company called “Don’t just sit there, sell something!” Which at the time seemed like just the sort of cock sure branding that would suit my style.

The company was run by a woman like none I’d ever met at that stage in my life. She was a traveller, a listener, she was a do’er of things… Not one to sit around and wait for the world to come and sweep her off her feet, she went out and drove towards her passions as if to envelope life… She took a dead company and built it, with a room full of guys who all needed a little piece of that energy Anne exuded every day.

In some small way I felt that we all had a little piece of us missing, every guy for his different reasons, maybe home life, parents, partners, past, alcohol, drugs, we were all growing young men with mistakes to make and lessons to learn and Anne was the mother behind us, every day we hit our desks, ready to hear about our weekends, before kicking our arses to get on the phone, just the right amount of love and structure… I don’t think I would have any semblance of the freedom I have in my life now if i hadn’t had Anne in mine…

What Anne taught me, was that there were no barriers in life, if we want to achieve as individuals then we can make that happen through grit and willing. There’s no time in sales for the phone fear, there’s no time in life for the fear itself, there’s no time to let that mindset take over and ensnare you at it’s whim, we are all here to do great things and they may not be things that every common person values, but they are the things that make us great as individuals.

Anne encouraged me to travel and to see things the world over, with a safe job upon my return any time, when I left home at 18 I’d been to France and Scotland. To date I’ve now been to over 10% of the worlds countries and I’ve travelled all over Cambodia and the South of India on a motorbike, I’ve lived on a remote island, I’ve built people houses, I’ve become a rescue diver, I’ve saved 3 lives at sea, I proposed to my fiance on the top of the highest mountain in North Africa, I’ve encountered, been attacked by and killed a king cobra, I’ve been chased by elephants, been bitten by a monkey and a poisonous spider, riden horses all over the world and I’ve had a fully grown adult tiger jump out of the bushes a few metres in front of my motorbike in India, only to bound across the road and off into the wilds…

And all of this took a mindset, a mindset that was built off the back of Anne’s stories, her relationships, the countries she’d lived in, the dogs she’d rescued that were slowly accumulating into the office every day, giving me a passion for animals and their energy, teaching me what it means to feel compassionate…

All of these elements fashioned my comfort-ability as a young man, with the world around me. And if I was ever in trouble, whether that meant running me to hospital or letting me store all my worldly possessions in her offices for a week while I split up from an old partner, there was always a light there to see you through.

I didn’t have chance to say goodbye in the way in which I’d hoped, but I loved her and I will always attach a part of myself to those early days, the best of all days, the days where just anything felt possible…

So to Anne I hold my own vigil and I say this:

Rest a while,

None left to achieve, nothing there to regret,

Your passion and life and your minds energy leaves us…

But as I sit and haunt the dusk and recall the times that passed,

I feel the way through the wood, I know the path I tread,

There’s no answer to the world and what befalls us,

But without the fire inside ourselves to drive forth we are but vessels passing space and time,

I will not walk, I will run through life, as you ran,

But I will savour all I have and respect the days that evolve before me…

With your passing, bitter loss ensues,

Though rest assured I will prevail, that adventure that you nurtured and the want and belief you had in me was not wasted…

The part of you I hold close to my chest is that part that still drives me and in losing the opportunity to say goodbye, and losing you too early for words, I do all I can to pass on that spark…

Somewhere I will always hear you behind the phone. But I’ll make sure I’m the catalyst that you were.

There was a time you gave me my life… And now I intend to use it!

When I see fields of horses I’ll remember you… and I’ll know you’re there travelling on the wind with them. xxx

The Soloist…

I think the most familiar feeling I seem to have come to loathe over time is that feeling of the Soloist…

The one man band, the one man army, the one man in the spotlight, the one man wondering in the darkness…

Sometimes I feel I’m just trudging!

Paul Bettany once remarked in ‘A Knights Tale’

“Trudging, to trudge! The slow, weary, depressing, yet determined walk, of a man who has little left in his life, except the impulse to simply soldier on…”

Some days everyone feels a bit like that I should think…

I heard someone ask the question the other day, “if your twin had died, are you still technically a twin?”

I certainly never felt that missing piece return since he left me… How fucking selfish!

Did he not know I needed him? Did he not know it was harder alone?

Eyes clouding over, mind caving in, those moments when you need someone to jump into the rapids and drag you to the rock, the safe-hold that affords you the single solitary breath you need to inch another foot, to milk another mile out of life…

Where are you? I feel you somewhere and I just can’t find you! I’m sinking and I don’t have that ability not to struggle, to claw my way out of the abyss that envelopes my emptiness, the catalyst to what may or may not become…

Every step further down the line ends in a deceit and it’s always harder and harder to keep the Secret in mind… PMA it’s that positive mental attitude Linford Christie used to talk about before he deceived the world… Before he set aside his country for the Soloist…

Every day we see more of the Jimmy Saville in everything… The stuff we loved only to have it torn away… it’s the Operation Yewtree and the FA scandal ten times the size… Where does it end?

If you’re going to do something, do it!

It’s the celebrities clammering at one another for the best page, with their fingers crossed behind their back hoping no one delves any deeper, while their under paid and ill respected ‘Executive Assistants’ call the papers, hoping that at least one solitary crap photographer, with his hands half down his pants, comes to their aid, only to snap them in a posh new scarf, that was given for free by a budding young designer who never even gets a mention…

I suspect if you mix an extreme lung infection with the theory on one’s own mental considerations that’s what you get. But it doesn’t tell you what the point is!

The point is in every film, in every book, in every story that see’s you drift away with your minds in a dusky cloud, that we’re told over and over again by the elderly we don’t listen to because what the hell do they know!?

They know life’s too short… Buts we simply won’t listen and we’re consumed by it… We’re beaten by it… We’re sodden by it and it reeks of filth, distaste, disgust, disdain… It’s become the wretch before you vomit, the salt in your cheeks before your face hits the pan of life!

I used to believe a Soloist was me… I used to believe I was one of them but the jigsaw pieces never seem to fit, I found myself clawing at the edges, shuffling myself about hoping the world would level out and I’d be on a plain… But that’s not the case.

You must release the fear, the fear of loathing, the fear of resentment, the fear of fading in clear sight.

Stay true to your heart and the soul that beats within, with the chest that’s made it through until today, the heart that will get you through until the morning when the sun dawns and you’re shuddering and you’re out of breathe and you’re brow glistens from the frantic nature of your thought, then the curtains fall apart to see day…

The glow… The essence of nature… The essence of each and every one of us… We call this hope and it is with this hope that we stand firm, we drive forth and we wipe away the darkness with a fleeting blow, as we stride forth into the future…

Nothing that has been done or has passed can be undone…. But you can change your stars… You know who you are and I’m here with you in mind, we’re connected on a level deeper than any fictitious belief and we know that we can find it within us to seek out the life beyond the drivel of day to day…

Set aside the worry and the doubt, be yourself… There’s a Soloist in every one of us, but when the choir chirps up, you’ll know you’re not alone…

It’s good to talk… But no one really wants to listen…

I think probably the most difficult issue for me, surrounding dealing with any sort of depression, anxiety, mental well-being, is trying to establish a sustainable feeling of self worth..

When I was younger it was easier for sure… But as we grow older it becomes more increasingly difficult to go to sleep at night and feel contented with who you’ve become…

There’s a given paradox between public perception of an individual and the reality by which they live their lives.

I personally don’t feel that there’s a person on the planet I can talk to. I mean really talk to…

I’ve been to counsellors in the past but they’re generally affluent, theoretical practitioners, who wouldn’t know a rough day if it hit them in the face. Dishing out open ended questions hoping that you’ll cry and go home and refer them…

Unfortunately that’s not the way it works.

The difficulty is that I can barely be honest with myself. I certainly can’t spill my gut’s to the n’th degree over a blog or through a facebook status… We are each trapped in the conundrum of public perception…

Running your own business is a difficult thing in itself. it’s difficult on your finances, it restricts your lifestyle and affects your relationship; not to mention if you suddenly let everyone into the darkness you face… What then? Maybe some people support but that doesn’t pay the rent and if you don’t have mummy and daddy to wrap you up in cotton wool or bank notes then it’s a pretty tough gig.

Generally what happens when you’re open is that some people are really nice and some people just screw you over… And to maintain momentum, business growth etc. you need to stick on your stiff upper lip and play friend to the world if you want people to invest in what you do…

When you feel so worthless, when you feel you’ve lost your wind, when you feel like the list of people who respect you is dwindling and those who remain would probably kick you to the curb if they knew what you went through outside the public eye then it’s a pretty dark place to be sitting.

In all honesty I don’t know what the answer is… I guess that I believed in writing it would flood out but it’s trapped… And I won’t be the only one, I feel sick to think there could be even one other person out there who feels this way, but I know there are many and I wish there was a remedy.

I was born of twins but my brother died at birth and I think all my life I’ve know I was only half the picture… Probably why I have always tried to be better than others in whatever I do, swimming, martial arts, sales, they all came easy and the 2nd place candidates were always way behind. But there was never anything to fill that void.

I think it’s an unlikely and unexplored emptiness that comes with that history. It’s like a constant hunger to fill the void within, but there’s always space left; a struggle for breath while climbing and there’s never quite enough oxygen to suffice.

I’m sort of at that point where I feel a bit self-absorbed to be always considering my emotional state when I fight with my partner or have a crap day. Is it an arrogant consideration to focus immediately on how you feel and how dark that is, when what I probably should be thinking is how do I effect others and is that proactive or a negative?

We all have something within that consists of self preservation at the forefront. But at what stage do you become a martyr?

And if you hit that stage, then how do you get help and how do you achieve solace or find that pleasure in life?

I refer back to my favourite poem at this stage as I’m ‘lost in translation’

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Easier said than done…

Ethics… And the excrement that follows…

As a guy who’s spent 10+ years in the sales field, I definitely wasn’t aware when I went into this line of work, about the sheer amount of shit that would befall me…

Sorry if you’re not a fan of the word ‘shit’ in the first sentence, but I felt the opening gambit should be poignant, otherwise whats the point, you may not read on…

My ‘mother didn’t raise no fool’ but it’s safe to say that she did try to instil ethics early on, and that may as well be the same thing in our society today.

I’m definitely losing faith in being human…

I’ve always tried to be honest in my approach to anything I’ve done, more specifically any form of business relationship or working role. But it appears to me that I’m a bit like a magnet for deceit.

I don’t want to suggest here that I’ve not been flippant on occasion, rude and obnoxious in the wrong circumstance from time to time and I’ve definitely had some dark moments I’d rather never dwell on again, but I will not sell you up the river for the betterment of myself as an individual, I do care and I do try to help all those I see that I might, often to my own detriment…

The societal issue here is that we’re actually allowing those who have a bit of power or credibility to feed on those less fortunate and it’s all absolutely fine, as long as the top of the food chain remain in favour, or fed and the little man keeps their mouth shut.

On the other end of the spectrum we’ve got criminals and arrogant youth quoting legalities to our law enforcement, while their powers are slowly stripped away so there’s less and less they can do to affect any change in the world that’s becoming just a bit too ‘PC’.

You can’t even hug a child when they fall and cut their knee at school without something reading into it… How about… The child is crying, and I don’t want the child to feel sad, or hurt, or to cry… You know, old school!

We see in the press every day, people who’ve sold their story surrounding a sordid situation with a celebrity in some form or another. Tabloids and journalists greasing the palms of the underprivileged, as the Roman’s once did, to slight their societal rivals with knowledge of their indiscretions.

Safe to say Operation Yewtree should have taught us that there’s probably more going on than we thought in a range of areas…

There’s also the people who feed on this; sex, drugs, scandal, fraud, it’s all so rife through our visual media that we become numb to it and we’d probably barely notice if someone flashed us on the street.

In my time I’ve worked with multi millionaires, celebrities, blue chip companies and beyond and in every single field without exception, there’s been twisted elements that are simply unethical.

My opinion of the world is that we have a responsibility to our fellow man, just to be good and true to what we know to be moral and right.

There is no band width for wavering in this… There’s no grey area… If it feels wrong then it probably is wrong…

If someone sets you up with a deal that makes you a shed load of money, then you should support them and reward them in kind… But that’s not how sales works… In reality if someone made you a serious revenue stream then it seems people would rather do their best to keep as much in their pocket as possible.

The logic from my perspective is:

  1. Sales guy brings in big money/opportunity
  2. Rather than keep it all, the company genuinely looks after that sales guy and gives them a fair proportion
  3. Sales guy, feels supported, respected and gratified in his success
  4. Sales guy becomes loyal and devotes himself to more of the same

That’s how an ethical sales process works… Very simple if you’re not greedy!

And companies the world over would make more money if they considered every level of their businesses and the general well-being of the individuals surrounding them.

If we just afforded respect and reward where due, instead of trying to cling on to the scraps of every element then perhaps things may change.

But I don’t know if they will… I don’t know if they can… Because people only want whats best for them and rarely consider how their actions could affect one another on an individual basis…

This is why it matters not, how commercially minded you are, how genuine, or honest, every element of what surrounds us is pushing us to close off, to let ‘dog eat dog’ and to ‘look after number 1’. Because if you wear your heart on your sleeve, if you’re human in what you do, people see that chink in the armour and they bastardise it…

Where do we go from here? How do we maintain that faith? That energy for human existence… That feeling that there’s more to life than bleeding what you can from the day to day…

I don’t think I’ve got all the answers…

But next time you have an opportunity to let the older lady in front of you in the queue during your lunch hour, hold the door with a smile for the admin girl at work, who no one pays heed to, pay the sales guy his commission on time, without shifting the boundaries when you think about your annual take home… Consider the ethics… Consider what one small act may do to change that persons world…

We’ve all got a story that the paper might pay for, but at the end of the day… Rome fell… So I’d argue that mentality is certainly not something I want in my epitaph…

SIDE NOTE: Since publishing this post, someone may have just changed my life… Maybe there is hope…

 

 

Head Talks re-visited – What lies behind the mask, society would rather not see…

After a raft of positive feedback and requests to further promote awareness surrounding my Head Talks video I have decided to re-publish it for everyone to view once again…

I have received huge volumes of messages, off the back of taking part in filming Head Talks (alongside Alastair Campbell and the likes), who have told me that this has helped them to discover themselves, to try and analyse some of their issues in a more effective and productive way, the aim to gain long term solutions…

In addition many business owners and directors have been in touch to talk about changes they’ve made off the back of hearing what I had to say, so that’s really positive also…

To view the video please click below on the egg you think best represents you…

NOTE ONE THING: They’ve all got different traits, but they’re still all in the same box… Together… It doesn’t matter whether it’s day to day stress because you’re late to work, depression, PTSD, alcoholism or beyond; we’re all human beings, living through varying degrees of anxiety… The quicker everyone realises that, the quicker the stigma drops and we all become human again…

mental-health-issues

 

 

The ones we miss… The lost souls…

This week I was told I’d lost a friend.

Not a friend that I was in touch with every day, but a friend that I’ve shared a fair amount of experiences with over 10 years and through some of the most eventful years of my life…

One of those friends that you always think you can get back on the phone to, always knowing you’ve a similarity of mindset somewhere… A guy with enthusiasm, arrogance and tenacity.

This is a man I trained… He came to work at the same company as me back in 2006, an IT bod in a salesman’s world…

At the time I was at my peak, I was the Obi Wan (as we called it in the sales team) and he was to be my padawan apprentice, the first member of staff I was to train from scratch.

At this time I was working for a telemarketing company and I was averaging 1 face to face appointment with a FTSE100 Director every 5 dial outs… (Which will only excite sales directors most likely)

Now this chap had a very good technical knowledge, something I could never hope to achieve, he could even diagnose some problems IT Directors were facing, over the phone… No need for a meeting…

But over time I taught him how to approach a call, no scripting, just genuine thought and tact, empathy and adaptability. The beautiful point was when the stage came where we were always the top 1st and 2nd sales-guys on the phones. He beat me one month because I’d been on holiday for 2 weeks so my figures were down, but I came back that month and fought him until the final day, reaching 2nd place out of a good amount of guys in terms of revenue generation was really a high point for me, but seeing James at the top of the board was a better feeling.

He was balshy and brash and arrogant and quick witted and he was always blunt and honest… At least that’s how I’ll always see him, remember him…

I feel like I’ve lost a brother. When you’ve bonded with individuals under the same pressures, through breakups with girls, fights, through drinks and football and days out and Christmases and sales targets and loss, you may as well have been brought up in the same house. Because wherever we all are now, Liam, Nick, Neil, Anthony, James, Glenn, Colin, Sam and Stuart, those were the guys I’d always remember, I’ll always revere the time spent with those boys.

Running my own business is often basically sitting here wishing we were all running it together…

We must free our minds during loss, we must allow ourselves to breathe and to hold on to those past moments as we develop into new ones in our own present and future lives and I won’t forget him and he’ll always be there, reminding me that there are those we may not at first notice, but which may just need you…

Another loss that I found quite hard to read about this week, I was sent by a friend who thought the story would be worth sharing; it’s from the following article:

“GP found dead after being suspended over bipolar disorder blog”

Dr Wendy Potts was suspended after patient complained about blog in which she wrote about having condition

drwendy

A GP who kept a blog about living with bipolar disorder was found dead after being suspended from work when a patient read her online entries and complained, an inquest has heard. In the weeks leading up to her death, Dr Wendy Potts had written candidly about her condition and the effect it had on her life.

A patient at her surgery saw her online posts and contacted management, questioning whether she should be able to practise as a GP. The inquest heard that Potts later told her partner: “How can I have been so stupid?”

Potts, who had two children, was suspended after the October half-term break, which is said to have deepened her symptoms. By the time of her death, her suspension had been lifted, but she had not been allowed back to work. Her partner, Mark St John Jones, found her body at the family’s home in Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, on 24 November last year.

Jones said Potts, 46, had kept a blog in which she stated that she had bipolar disorder. He told the court that a patient had read the blog and complained to the surgery, which was not named during the hearing.

The court heard Potts was under psychiatric care and her medication was increased after the suspension. Before she died, the suspension was lifted but other investigations were still being completed. Jones said Potts had experienced other work-related stress, including dealing with the death of a patient, and had previously tried to take her own life.

Dr David Walker, a consultant psychiatrist, said he was not aware of this attempt. “She chose not to tell me this had happened,” he added.

Potts’s mother, Joan, told the court about a manic episode her daughter had experienced in February 2014. She said: “She was shouting, jumping on the settee and talking in rhyme. It was very strange – I’ve never seen anything like it before. We didn’t see anything like it again.”

Afterwards, Potts did not work for three months. Joan Potts added that her daughter “felt she had got more than she could cope with” after she and her partner bought a smallholding in Cardigan, west Wales, in May.

However, Jones said: “Wendy wrote in her blog that this was what she wanted. She wanted to get away from work.”

Derbyshire’s assistant coroner, James Newman, adjourned the inquest to obtain a report relating to Potts’s suspension.

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.

And the crux of this situation, is that when a doctor can’t get the help she needs, to save her own life, how can people not comprehend, that it’s harder than you think out there today, to find the right support through the darkness that visits us…

If there’s wasn’t such an established stigma & pretence behind what mental health means, or how it might acutely effect an individual, or how it should be defined, then we wouldn’t be losing these people… They’d be with us today and they’d find us, we’d find each other and in time, unified, we’d strive and eventually find the peace that we’ve been searching for…

CEO’s, Managing Directors, Board Room Exec’s, Doctors, Blue Light Sector Staff please speak up, it’s now more than ever that we need your voice. This must become mandatory in every avenue of business and industry across the UK, there must be a legal obligation to support those with and without mental health with their day to day climb… The struggles that we face must be recognised, not pandered to, but understood. Respect will remedy whats previously been broken. Things become brighter when we accept we’re all equal…

 

Vodafone & how the big boys take advantage…

Firstly, finding a corporate complaints number in our day and age may as well be like trying to find a unicorn…

After 12 years as a specialist in business development/commercial & sales strategy and all that entails, it’s likely I can find your direct contact details, regardless of your role or where you work, in a matter of minutes, through various connections, sales channels or web searches etc. this is down to working in sales environments and B2B telemarketing centres across the UK and Europe all my working life…

That said, my intention here is not to seem arrogant, it’s to stress the point that if I personally struggle to get hold of the relevant people to complain to, with 12 years’ experience, how can we expect as a society for the every-man (or woman) to find the details they need, let alone succeed in any kind of resolution, if a big business tries to take advantage of them…

 

Following a recent 11 month disaster of a time with Vodafone, I thought I’d highlight this point and ask, how can we as an economy change the way these commercial and convoluted operations work, to better support their end user, namely the person on the street who simply wants to call a colleague, or text their mum at the weekend…

 

Around September 2015 I casually wondered into my local Vodafone shop and asked whether I was due a phone upgrade any time soon, I was told it would be next year, but I was entitled to an iPad upgrade and could get my hands on the new iPad mini for no extra cost.

 

Happy days! However, that was the beginning of a slippery slope I’m still struggling to clamber up today…

 

At the time I was asked to sign into another maddening 24 month contract, which I did, as we all do to get our hands on the latest technology.

 

Unfortunately, little did I know that instead of transferring my details over, the Vodafone rep, for whatever reason, signed me up to a new contract without my knowledge… So at this point unbeknown to me, I walked away from the store with my phone contract intact, my new iPad mini contract and with my old iPad contract still running…

 

So as a consumer I’m thinking great, I’m happy in the knowledge that I will only be paying for 1 phone and 1 iPad as usual…

 

Oh no… Life’s just not that simple.

 

A friend asks if he can buy the redundant old iPad for his daughter, which I didn’t have a problem with and I carry on with my life.

 

As a few months pass my fiancé, who’s also my Financial Controller for my businesses, asks me why I’m getting debited such high amounts for my bill every month… Am I calling overseas more, downloading things etc.

 

So at this point, around 4 months into the increased bills I think maybe it’s just an oversight on my part and I start to look into it. I then go back to my Vodafone store and ask what the issue is, only to be told that I have 3 contracts instead of 2. Then they say that I have to call their hotline and they will sort it over the phone as they have been overcharging me via direct debit for this duration…

 

I go home and that evening I call the Vodafone customer services, who tell me they can’t do anything. They say that the only way to resolve the issue is to go back to the store again, find the girl who set up the new account and get her to write on her notes in their system that she made an oversight and was incorrect in doing so, I then need to call them back and they will firstly credit the money onto my account and then they will eventually pay that back into my bank…

 

So, 6-8 weeks of trying to get into the shop on numerous occasions, while the girl in question is on shift and I still don’t catch her. At this point I complain to the store manager and he has one of his team sit down a work out 6 months’ worth of overpayments that amounts to around £600.

 

I’m then told that they have cancelled the iPad, credited the account, but they have to take another £32 for that month as they can only cancel with 30 days’ notice, but they’ll pay me that back later and that once the full amount is credited to my Vodafone bill they will refund me into my bank.

 

Well, a bit of red tape and unnecessary additional billing & crediting… Happy days again! Finally resolved! Or is it……..?

 

A few days later and we see another overcharged bill… I call the customer service line again and talk to a legendary salesman who tells me how useless the shop guys are and convinces me he’s finally actually cut off the old iPad and it’s definitely happened this time… A new era begins, or so I believe…

 

A month later I’m overseas in Europe and my phone says ‘No Service’ where there should be a signal bar… Bit of a bugger I think, because I have around 14-15 business voicemails on there that I was waiting to access…

 

At the time there was a bit of internal government/military dispute in Turkey, so the locals where I’m staying tell me that the signal may be due to Turkey having a range of signal pylons there and that’s potentially why I lost service…

 

I decide to wait until I’m back in the UK, making the assumption that in 48 hours when I fly home my service will likely just pop back into play if I ‘turn it off and on again’ – However, when I get back to the UK that’s not the case…

 

In a taxi on the way back from Luton airport I decide to use my hour travel wisely and resolve this by using my partners mobile to call Vodafone. At this point I’m told that they didn’t cut off the old iPad when I was in the shop that day, despite me confirming and reconfirming that they’d got the right device at the time… They’d cut off my sodding mobile… The mobile that I’ve had on contract with them since 2009… You can image the happy fluffy feeling I get at this point before my tirade begins!

 

So, after 45 minutes ranting, while bent double over the back seat, having to use the taxi driver’s phone charger from the front seat so the battery doesn’t die after a 4 hour flight and I’m finally told that the matter is resolved… They apologise for my phone being cut off, which is their oversight, they will cut off the old iPad now but need to bill me another £32 for the 30 days’ notice again, but not to worry as they’ll credit that to my Vodafone bill then pay it back into my account at some point…

 

An argument ensues, they then agree to give me the £32 early as a credit, because then at no stage am I out of pocket when they bill me the £32 later… They tell me they will pay me the full £600 odd into my account and that they’ve cut off the old iPad and that my phone will be reconnected in 2-24 hours but probably earlier than 24 hours…

 

I’m also offered 2 months free billing for my troubles… That equates to £100 for 3 days or so without any phone access and an hour on the phone in the back of a taxi, might I add… Rubbish freebie there!

 

But….. Happy Days! Lots of hassle and un-necessary anxiety and stress, but we finally have a resolution and I’m feeling like the lady has reconnected me and done me proud! Or has she…

 

27+ hours later… I’m confused as to why my phone is still not active and to all who are unaware it looks like my business has gone down the pan, as I’m receiving emails as to why clients (some at Global Board Director level) can’t get in touch telling me that my phone has been disconnected… I call Vodafone again…

 

They’re quite confused, apparently in the fine print it says reconnection (of the phone that should never have been disconnected) will take a maximum of 48 hours; but usually the worst case is 24 hours and they need to look into it with no idea of when it will be definitively reconnected… I have to hang up and leave them be until they resolve it…

 

A further 24+ hours later, beyond their 48 hour maximum window I am chasing them and they promise it will happen, however they can’t deal with the final compensation until after it’s reconnected… It eventually is connected the following day…

 

I decide at this point that rather than jump on the compensation immediately I’ll get on with running my businesses and give them a call when I have some free time.

 

Today, my colleagues notify me that a figure of around £500 has come out of our business account from Vodafone, while I was actually waiting to put some money in… I call them, shout, swear, rant etc. and I’m told that I was charged for the cancellation of my phone contract, they billed me around £1100 for the remainder of the phone contract… A phone contract that they were never supposed to terminate in the first place and have since re-connected, due to my swearing the manager of the team won’t take my call so I hang up after around 30 minutes on the phone and dial in again… An hour later still on the line for the 2nd time after explaining the majority of the above to 3 different staff in 3 different divisions of Vodafone and I’m told they will have to look into it and call me back…

 

I mean… Frankly I’m bored writing about it and you must be bored reading it, so what are we supposed to do as a society about this type of red tape…

 

If you’re within the mental health spectrum is irrelevant at this point to a degree because anyone would get frustrated at 11 months of incompetence when a company this big is just sitting on your money and generating revenue & interest off the back of it.

 

If you take my issue and consider that they have effectively taken an average monthly wage from my bank account, then multiply that by the thousands and thousands of people who have the same sorts of issues daily and further consider those who don’t have the energy, mental stability, time or patience to contest this year upon year; then just how much money are these companies draining from our economy and frankly from the common man/woman on the street, only to line their own corporate pockets prior to evading any relevant tax most likely… And what sort of interest are they making on OUR money, while we struggle to make ends meet day to day in an effort to fight for it back…

 

I mean… I just don’t know how to affect a change here… And Vodafone won’t be the only ones who do this… That’s just one major company, of a range of major companies in one specific sector of business… There are thousands of sectors and thousands of businesses at the top of the ‘corporate food chain’ who are rinsing money off joe public on a daily basis.

 

Where do we go from here? And should these businesses be held accountable and made to provide those individuals compensation relative to the grief and the anxiety that they cause on a daily basis…

 

Luckily for me they took money from my business bank account, so I am fortunate enough to be able to afford a bit of time to rant and get it back, but there must be so many people on a fixed monthly wage, without spare savings, who would be getting bank charges and having other payments bounce while they try to fight their corner and I can guarantee that Vodafone and those like them won’t be levelling the playing field for those inconveniences, meaning that the little guy has an even harder slog to contend with when trying to affect a change in their lives for the better…

 

What a corporate will never understand is that they are jeopardising peoples monthly food bill, their rent, their chance of a mortgage, their kids school fee’s, their engagement ring, their annual holiday, their car maintenance and every other aspect of their lives that may also create stress in its own individual way…

 

How do we, as a unit, make these companies operate in a more humane way? We are people for god sake… Or will it always be a case of…. Computer says NO?!

Head Talks Initiative

Working in an initiative called Head Talks, alongside the likes of Alastair Campbell, Jane Horrocks and Geoff McDonald (ex-Global VP of HR at Unilever), I have recently been asked to record some of my story…

My hope is that in seeing this video you will gain an insight into what some of us face day to day. Please do share this with anyone you feel may benefit, the reason I do this is because I see so many responses to the blog where people have been set free by reading some of what I’ve written and I want to affect a change or a light-bulb for any of those still suffering in the dark where I began my journey…

Just click on the picture below to see the video, its clever all this technology lark! – For CEO’s, Managing Directors & Business Owners this video is a must!

To learn more about Head Talks or offer your support please contact Oliver Chittenden – oliver@londonspeakerbureau.com

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Vulnerability

The essence of vulnerability in my mind, is to find yourself wanting…

Wanting for the lost soul within one’s self to finally re-align, so we feel whole.

I think from my perspective, life ‘is’ vulnerability… from the moment we’re born we find ourselves cast into a world of moments; moments that offer us up to understanding our personal weaknesses.

If we’re lucky, as humans, our mother and father will shield us until we’re able to find our feet. If we are unlucky then the path to adulthood is not quite as simple, meaning that we develop an additional layer or two of guardedness, but ultimately inside we still feel what each of us feels – vulnerable.

I find the most valuable aspect of dealing with my own mental wellbeing, is to focus on my drivers as an individual. And I don’t mean the everyday wants and needs of the vast majority… I’m not talking about focussing on money, or how to arrange your next holiday. I’m talking about what drivers we each have as individuals that may help us to feel more complete within.

A few years back I took a step back and asked myself ‘what is it I want’?

My decision was simple; I wanted to wake up every day and feel happy, happy within me, happy within who I was as a person, what I do for a living, my day to day…

That struggle still continues even now, but I find that I am developing a lifestyle that fulfils me. And while working to support a charity initiative, or building a kennel for my dogs out of pallets, teaching my friends kids some martial arts etc. I find that I’m living within the soul and energy that I want to achieve.

Our lifestyles define our mental state and it is our lifestyles we must change in order to develop and to overcome those darker moments. For we cannot change who we are, you are who you were born to be; but we can change how we live our lives, we can understand what fills us with a passion, what mends our souls in those moments of grief.

I am not a religious man, but I do believe there is an energy that binds us as a planet and as one whole organism we, as individuals, can re-align our own energy, to flow along those roads life takes us down… You could call it “wanky”, but I think that science defines this ‘magnetic energy’, if you will, as a reality and we all have a place in the jigsaw. That doesn’t mean you should conform, you must find who you are, irrespective of what societal trends dictate. After all, a society without individuals just becomes grey and automated.

If you feel in your life you are vulnerable, please don’t dwell on the shadow… There are people who care, who’ll talk to you and really listen. It may not always feel that way in life, but you can reach out, we all have the strength to connect and only as individuals can we change our own stars!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond all measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do.

It is not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”