Stigma! Constant stigma!

Why is it that when you let something go from within you, you still so often still feel burdened by stigma…

Probably because you generally are judged by what you say. Or at very least, the aftermath goes to show that some people just can’t approach you again because they don’t know what to say… Is that my hang up or theirs? How do I reach those people? Or should I just class that as the attrition within the world I’m working?

I attended an event that will remain nameless for the sake of the individual… But the mayor was present and he left at half time…

Now, there may have been some emergency etc. I can’t just on that basis as I don’t know the circumstance. However, in my humble opinion, if you’re the mayor and people want to change the way mental health is treated, perceived and supported in your town, then why would you possibly leave in the middle of an event designed to do just that?

Now, at this event my speech was just before half time and it’s safe to say I’m not 100% ‘PC’ lets say, so I swear and I am very honest and open and frankly highlight some elements of my life, for the greater good, that I really don’t want to revisit, in an effort to kick people into action faster and change how the live…

That said, I have felt sick since…

Part of me feels that he just didn’t appreciate how I managed my time on stage, my colleagues tell me not to put so much pressure on myself, but it’s really hard not to do so.

In my opinion if you’re not talking about mental health or trying to help someone or trying to do something to make a change, then you should be in some small way, but the focus of my perhaps not so P.C. approach is really to expose those elements of what I’ve been through that no one in their right mind would want to share with anyone…

Because if I share the dark and disgusting elements of what I’ve been through then people may take more seriously how they approach education and looking after kids and students who need support.

This may be the same mayor that chastised me when I walked past the cricket blind during a match at the local club I sponsored over 3 years. if it is, perhaps he’s still miffed about the cricket? I hate cricket! So dull! Rugby, then Football any day!

In reality it’s probably not anything to do with me, or how I spoke etc. though I gave a few dockside sailors a run for their money vocabulary wise, but it is very upsetting and frustrating to think that such a prominent figure left an event so important early.

How do we change perceptions if our leaders can’t be bothered to sit through a couple of hours?

Already we find ourselves in a world where no one will invest heavily in researching how mental health issues come about!

People are happy to buy the band-aid or get you some free help etc. once you’re fucked… but there’s no research into a preventative…

And why?

Because the UK & USA make so much money flogging out drugs to people rather than working out how to mend them, that we are pushing water up hill trying to change our consumerist and capitalist culture that ensures all anyone wants in their life if to consume, in every sense of the word and the focus is on profit…

But I promise you those profits won’t go anywhere near a guy like me who started in an ex-council estate house with no money.

The revenue will go to the top 1% of earners, the elitist and we can all break our backs so arseholes like Phillip Green can literally get away with whatever they want… because someones palm, even in those times of bad press, will be greased to ensure no love is lost. He’s not knocking about in prison for screwing the little guy is he? No…

And Amazon employ enough people so they pay 0% tax!! How does that help us in our current economy… Where do all these special measures go and who is the moron in government making these judgement calls.

I have no major education and half of them went to Eton et al, but I can still tell you that if we’ve got a company like Amazon doing so much revenue then we should tax them!! Hello!!!!!!! You should be taxing the high net worth companies regularly, not giving them a 100% tax break…

All we are doing as a a society, which is why no one wants to fight too hard, is fuelling the capitalist and consumerist attitudes of our people.

I’m so sick of the superficial, if one more person jumps on the fact that I have a bipolar disorder at an event and tries to ‘neuro linguistic programme’ me into paying them for counselling I will scream.

If there’s anything I can spot a mile off, having done NLP training back when it was fashionable 12 years ago and reading Shakespeare from around 10/11 years old (and understanding it), then it’s a shoddy pitch.

Everyone thinks I have loads of money because people always announce me as a successful businessman, but ultimately I don’t have loads of money, everything I earn I re-invest in growth meaning that as much as it makes me feel I have no balls, my fiance is the sustainable bread winner and I’m working on our long term game.

The only reason you can call me successful is because I didn’t kill myself while trying to run a business with no help from anyone in the upper echelons.

Some people react well to my message because I try and offer more energy than the average sob story, and that’s very very exciting and really does change individuals or give them a bit of light; but some think that this is a glorified ‘rock star’ like parade where we love chatting about our deepest fears…

That’s just simply not the case…. I don’t get paid to come and share my fears with people, in fact I can barely afford the sodding petrol money to get there, because no one is paying me to share my story, no one is helping me run my business, no one invests money in someone with a mental health condition like mine, and mummy and daddy aren’t going to fund my success, so I have to graft it along and frankly the CAB, County Court, the major phone companies, like BT & Vodafone, my bank HSBC and every well funded major company that I’ve worked with in any way, have been screwing me for years…

And why do I persist….. Because the next entrepreneur that ends their life over these big businesses, the capitalists that don’t support only drain us, will be on my head…

I have to make a difference while I have the strength in my body to do so, because there are thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs out there getting screwed and depressed by the man and every now and then someone has to step to the man and say no!

You may think I could be some sort of excitable conspiracy theorist here, but I’m not trying to convince you UFO’s exist.

I’m trying to convince you that big companies only care about money and that when you turn on any social media site all you see is the infamous selfie lot, who pout until their lips swell to the required degree…

X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent have helped us to develop a country of lazy adolescents who think they can just bang out a sob story and sing a song and they’re suddenly deserving of money forever without doing the real work.

We are programming our society to function like a raft of consumerist muppets, so why do we expect any different.

Every major organisation has an annual health and safety budget for example.

Parts should pay for health and part for safety.

There are 35,000,000 cases of lost time every year. Of this number only 20,000 cases are safety related, because that’s where all the money is spent, because it’s easy to give you a hard hat or rip-stop jeans, but a recorded 500,000+ is based on absences due to mental heath… And that’s only the recorded stat for people who were happy to be honest!!

The underlying statistic, is that around 50% of those 35,000,000 cases per annum are based on mental health issues…..

So when your company says they’ve got a health and safety budget, ask them how much they’re planning to spend on health and how much they’re planning to spend on safety and you’ll have some semblance of what situation we’re in here.

Until mental health and well being is a mandatory issue for acknowledgement within any major business; from the internal staff to the consumers or clients they represent/support, then we’re stuffed anyway!

This is my aim…. I’ve got a big mouth and more adrenaline than the majority you may have met and I will persist, frankly because everything in the above message is based on people avoiding the heart of the problem.

We are all trying in our own way to make a change, but if society continues to focus more on revenue and supporting brands to run the show, then we are stuck.

When will there be an end to selfie sticks? When will there be more psychological assessment done before plastic surgery can just be bought and administered… perhaps we can help people before the inject their face with poisons because their husband cheated on them, because in every paper or magazine there’s a set of great boobs trying to sell you something…

Where do we as a society expect ourselves to be in the years to come? Another posh labour leader who went to private school and has no idea about how the poor manage their lives…?

Another elitist Conservative government axing all the foreigners who genuinely want to work half the time?

One racist video about the NHS services tipped Brexit over the edge… that’s the state we’re in… the ignorant are breeding and the elite are abusing their ignorance, and it will go on until someone sticks their neck out and actually is honest!

But there’s a lot of money behind shutting us up… no one really at the top of the food chain wants to really fund mental health study, because as I mentioned earlier in this blog, drug sales would drop drastically.

As someone with a form of bipolar disorder who’s functioned over 12 years or so since my diagnosis, without more than 30 days of medication, I believe there is a way to work around any form of mental health without the use of drugs, and doctors shouldn’t be commissioned to flog these drugs to unsuspecting depressed individuals…

Can you tell I spend a good few years advising top pharma companies? Haha

In essence I’m lost at this point… There must be a path, I’m too small fry to do it on my own because I am not a wealthy, private school diplomat, but in unifying our approach to ending this consumerist attitudes I believe that we could encourage better understanding of our mental well-being as individuals and really make a change.

Capitalism worked for a while, until we fucked our society with it…

The problem is, what are you trying to achieve? House, car kids, stable job, only to teach your kids to do the same in the respective order, then repeat? Whats the point?

Are we bringing anything to this planet if we follow the suit that from school upwards we’re programmed into, while the odd or overbearingly different kids are cut out of the process and stuck in a separate area of a school etc. where they may just make the others a bit more dynamic?

Whats your path? Do you want your kids to ask questions? or do you want them pouting on social media, expecting Simon Cowell to give them a record deal, while the newspapers get racist and un-eductate the concept of acceptance and togetherness within them, until such point as they marry Kim Kardashian or Jay-Z and become a complete arsehole, but an arsehole with lots of money, that has enough PR to create a whole raft of fresh 1% arseholes, while the remaining 99% of the kids that don’t make the grade, just work themselves into a clinically obese, or drugged state until such time as they fade and die?

I’m mean maybe I’m really driving the knife home today but lets be fair, I don’t need to even provide you with evidence that this is the case… The evidence is already there…

What our children need is a sense of purpose… And that doesn’t mean forcing them to conform to the car, house, kids etc. it means setting them free and teaching them the reality of the world we’re losing because of that attitude.

We have the ability to craft our society and we’re letting the 1% do it for us. They dictate the budget, they dictate the curriculum, they dictate how our young minds are governed and examined, what’s normal, what doesn’t fit in the box…

But we have 99% of the population outside the elite and there’s strength in numbers!

Have a think and make a change… I’m with you… And together, unified, as it should be, we can slowly shift the tempo…

 

 

 

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Bruce Almighty… And World Mental Health Day

Bruce Parry 2

Firstly, yes I am 6 foot 3… Bruce is not… fun fact!

(Religious disclaimer pre-reading: I truly believe that everyone should be free to explore whats within them, religion of any kind, faith in general, race, colour or creed, we are all equal regardless of class, status, history or heritage. So please consider my religious elements within this blog, as explorations)

So, last night for World Mental Health Day I was invited to the private screening for Bruce Parry‘s new film – “Tawai – A Voice From The Forest.”

Started with a meditation to ‘un-clutter busy minds’ which normally makes me feel a bit sick, because it’s usually someone who drunk some Indian tea once and considers them self a Yogi, however I tried to let go of everything and just reset my mind to focus on the film.

And it really was a different concept to where Bruce has been before, with Bruce travelling to the Amazon, India and talking to doctors etc. about how we live and feel within the energy that binds us. (As it binds the Jedi or Avatar)

Now this mindset is really along the trail of my thinking and feeling, in a sense of what we are about. With the Amazon peoples flitting through the rain-forest like electricity, aware of everything in nature but the concept of time…

Because the concept of time doesn’t not apply in the same way as in nature.

I think the film is for each to define their own meaning, but ultimately we are cutting off ourselves from where we should be as human beings. We don’t interact, or feel, or touch, or smell in a manner in tune with our ancestry… We are to consumed with money, or time, or peoples perceptions of ourselves and we are literally living inside our mind, we’re not emotively or instinctively using our heart to make decisions, which is the distinct difference between the western human and those we deem enlightened.

Sitting there in my waistcoat and jacket, with immaculate shoes I feel embarrassed and saddened and guilty that I still care to some degree how people perceive me, but I’d still be happier sitting amongst the mottle trees and rainy canopies really living.

I felt quite hypocritical in my ‘fancy dress’ ashamed that I was even sitting in a wealthy hotel which I watch peoples homes and minds being destroyed…

After the film as you can imagine people are clamouring to chat to Bruce and congratulate him etc. but my mentality is slightly different… My mentality is of the boy with no father, bred on Bruce Parry & Ray Mears and a longing for adventure and colour. So I simply enjoy my beer and wait for the ‘non Amazon thinking’ crowd to drift.

At the start of the film I saw in Bruce a change that I’d not seen since his time filming in Tribe, it felt like he’d lost a part of his soul since he set out on his first adventure all those years ago and there was a grey area I could see within him…

I approached him initially casually, having not met Bruce before, but sharing quite a close mutual friend, there was no pretence, other than perhaps that moment that must have gone through his mind while considering what I might be going to attempt to sell him…

However, my opening gambit was, “hi Bruce, I just wanted to let you know that it was your penis that made me go out and explore the world…”

At this point I see the Tribal Bruce. I see the light and the energy exuding out of him, that energy that makes you just feel calm. When you’re safe in a space without angst.

As he chuckled away I went on to explain that as a young impressionable man I’d see an episode of the Tribe where the indigenous people retract their penis inside them and their other gentlemen bits. Bruce, like a true explorer attempted this, in the interest of the ‘when in Rome mentality’ and trying to be truly respectful of their culture…

However, as the episode makes us aware, Bruce is relatively well endowed and nearly passed out trying to do this, in the spirit of the tribe. In fact he was pretty sick and then nearly passed out…

Now watching this, internally I genuinely felt that if someone like Bruce was willing to almost knock himself out or make himself sick, to better feel what the people around him feel every day, in the hope that he might find some sense of himself in their world, I felt that this was enough to get me off my arse and try to make myself more open to the world I live in…

I used to be a consumerist whore, filling my mental and emotional coffers with clothes and ‘stuff’ as the hoards do every day, then during my time living on an island in Cambodia and travelling the country on a motorcycle I met a man… I met a man who asked if he could simply have my belt…

This man changed my perception of things.

Previously I’d been wrapped up in assimilating any sort of assets, I used to be one of those guys who bought all the golf clubs, ski gear, surf boards etc before that 1 weekend, never to be used again…

But in seeing that all this man genuinely wanted was a belt to hold up his trousers I was overwhelmed with a sense of morality and I’ve not bought anything in the same mindset since… If fact even if I go and try clothes on now I will consider, cut, fit, longevity and still put it all back on most occasions.

Many people will not connect with Bruce’s film because they’re lying to themselves… This sense of urgency and time and we crush our soul with daily is becoming overbearing… we are the virus, the cancer that will kill our planet if we don’t change.

Superficiality if rife and what i love about Bruce Parry is that he’s not a wanky, pretentious guy, trying to get us to conform to his way of thinking… he’s just exploring what makes us feel whole…

That’s ultimately all I’m looking for. Any semblance of that opportunity to feel like I’m complete and happy.

When Bruce met the Giri family in India, who are considered some of the worlds few enlightened, he said, I’ve been reading a lot of books on the subject of mindfulness etc. and what is it to be… And they simply replied… That’s a shame because your cup is full… Forget about what you’ve learned, this is programmed from school and beyond and cannot be fought in western culture, you must empty your cup in order to fill it and you can’t learn anything with you mind… it is only with our heart that we can truly know the feeling of the world around us… it is here where we judge ourselves and we know the truth about ourselves, even if we never speak it to anyone…

It is in searching for this truth and ridding ourselves of these societal shackles that we free ourselves…

Today I feel free… and I genuinely hope that you are able to free yourself and your mind and feel within you the path you should take.

I don’t believe in religion, I believe it was created to establish populace control and initially keep ignorant society repressed in their relevant boxes. However, now I feel that religion, however still fictional in my eyes, is sometimes just a gateway for people exploring how they fit into the world, and regardless of which God is which, if that mindset and that energy you portray in a positive then I think that it is important that people share their gods and beliefs because some people just genuinely need that sense of faith.

What I do believe is that we all have some sort of symbiotic relationship with our planet, we are all made up of energy and matter, as is our earth and the sooner we all start trying to live outside our conscious thought and just feel within us what the path might be, we will far outweigh our own evolutionary expectations.

If I compare my consideration, to the film Avatar, then you may scoff… But ultimately, this is what we’re talking about with Tawai… There’s something deeper we’re all missing…. Find your own truth and for ‘God’ sake, empty that cup and start exploring…

At the end of the evening I asked Bruce if he’s consider doing an interview with me just to chat in general about how his experiences have changed him, he agreed…

I mentioned before I left for the evening that I’d seen a marked difference in his energy and approach, since the original days of Tribe 12 years ago and in watching his most recent undertaking, I was keen to know whether he had lost that element of soul along the way…

He didn’t answer….

He simply smiled and said… “That’s one of those interview questions then!”

I will be sure to share our interview when we get together again and in the mean time please talk to people; just get over any of that negativity that we attract day to day and just be yourself and be free in whatever you do… Let those who surround you know that you’re all together and through our combined energies we  create change in perception…

Bruce Parry 1

Here’s a beautiful shot of my fiance Anna and my ‘son to be bump’ due 5th February. I look forward to exploring all this with him when he’s old enough to relate.

The Bipolar Baby Days… Father & Son

On the 24th June 2017 my life changed…

After a long weekend event promoting my company K9 CREW at DogFest, my fiancé suggested we stop by Boots on the way home to get a couple of pregnancy tests, as she’d not been well and wanted to be sure of what the situation was.

Now, my partner is a woman who’s pretty in tune with her body and health (ironically the opposite of me), so I took the situation seriously and did as I was told navigating a mission to Boots.

Boots was closed by the time we reached home, but after 10 minutes in a lone, glowing Tesco Express and I had the necessary.

My heart at this point is fluctuating, my entire life I’ve wanted children and there have been a few moments in the past where I’ve thought I might become a father and it’s not come about.

Anyway, on this day I got the news I’d been contemplating for years. Both, the afore mentioned required items, came out on a positive note to suggest that we were going to be having a baby.

Fast forward to date and I’ve now been through all the relevant tests etc. with my partner to establish that the baby is perfectly healthy and well. We will also be having a son… Logan Henry Bell.

When I consider the darkest of my days in life to date, I consider the emptiness that has befallen my mind and the agitated darkness I’ve come to accept will lurk from moment to moment, until I shuffle off this mortal coil…

When I consider the prospect of my son coming into the world, all I see is light, I see moments on bicycles, mountains, tree’s and snowy Polish winters learning how to ski. I see happiness and there’s a growing excitement at what he might become and I remember every fractured, disjointed memory of my early years… The holes in the doors, angry nights and fear…

Those memories are not for my son!

Those memories will fade and die with every moment he grows and thrives and lives… I can’t change what happened to me, I can’t change what I will see in my mind for the rest of my life, but I can orchestrate the lifestyle surrounding his youth and I can give him the father I never had.

There are so many regrets and moments I’ve travelled in shadow, but that ends when he arrives.

Every waking moment I will think of him until then and I will wonder what’s to be, but I won’t impress anything on him, I won’t try and forge his nature, I just want to set him free, to be free to grow and think and evolve as is right by him, without the burden of bringing up a father.

I was once a twin and my brother died, I’ve always felt half full and every male in my life has left me to fight alone, in February 2018 I become whole again. My bipolar baby journey begins and I finally feel like I can bring light into my life again where once there was just a half-cut candle…

Everything in my world is changing, I’m going to have to try and keep pace, but there’s a new driver now, where I was waning I now feel resilient again.

This is going to be the best thing that ever happened to me, it’s not about straight A’s or Doctors for me, I just want him to think for himself, to feel for other people as I have and to have a sense of inner peace, to know that his journey is only ever going to be what he makes it… As I see his life unfold I think I may finally be able to let go of my father and paint my own picture of a future for my son…

Logan Henry Bell, I love you already, I promise you that you won’t grow up knowing true fear and that anything in life you should choose to seek will be possible for you… Take your time son, I’ll see you when I see you xxx

baby bell

This Is My Story – 11th October 2017

Through my London and local Mental Health Awareness work, I have been asked to go and speak at an event that’s really important to me personally.

The event is called ‘This Is My Story’ and will be an evening focussed on well known figures in their own right, sharing their story and helping people understand that it’s OK to feel what we feel day to day. At the London event I attended in the same vein we had stories from the Chairman of Debenhams Sir Ian Cheshire and the fantastic ‘Ad Man’ Robin Wight.

The event is free and will be held on the 11th October at The University of Surrey, technically where my journey all began…

Please take a look at the link to the event flier I’ve attached below and you are more than welcome to sign up using the IoD eventbrite ticket link here. Again this is a free event, only because we want to encourage people to come and see what we’re doing…. I promise my moment won’t be dull by any stretch! Anyone in business or otherwise who feels alone or depressed or anxious is welcome to come along.

To see the full event flier please follow my link below and really do try and get your friends and people you feel might benefit to share this evening with us.

This Is My Story Final

This is my story image

Mental Health Success & Big Change at The IoD

I have an awful lot of people to thank for reaching some 250,000+ individuals around the UK & Globally in the last year with my work in the mental health space.

Directors of companies like The Building Societies Association, Red Letter Days, Standard Life, Oliver Agency and many more are at the forefront of that thanks, for sharing my blog with their staff and asking me to write various articles etc. surrounding mental health in the work-space for their publications.

Only a few months ago all the leg work and hard fought challenges aside, I was presented with an Award for my work in Mental Health Awareness, by the IoD.

They now have an annual Director of the Year Award for Leadership in Mental Health Awareness, of which I was the first ever recipient, against other award winners like Ella’s Kitchen Founder Paul Lindley and CEO of Battersea Dogs Home Claire Horton.

Here you can see the IoD Chairmans blog about Mental Health, my preferred local Surrey charity Oakleaf Enterprise and the IoD awards; with his comments on presenting my award: David Seall Blog

This accolade has surely set a precedent for how companies should look at their short and long term focus, surrounding mental health in the workplace and will give leverage to companies not only creating a wider awareness within their organisations, but taking steps to change their ethos and processes surrounding managing their staff well being for the long term, with a more sustainable approach.

IoD 2017 Award Winners

The evening was absolutely beautiful, my award category came and went and I’d assumed that I’d been unsuccessful within my category, however at the end of the awards they announced that they’ve got one final special award to present and I was called up to say a few words as the recipient…

The opportunity for a young entrepreneur, dealing with an issue that can regularly be debilitating to the point of real difficulty day to day, was a huge move for this organisation stepping up to create awareness.

I cannot speak highly enough of the IoD and how they’ve fed understanding and awareness of mental health in the workplace, into their teachings, during the last year or so, under Davids flag and I feel confident with the most prestigious networking organisation in the UK behind the ‘movement’ that they will change lives in what they’re doing.

I hope in years to come I’ll be presenting this award to other entrepreneurs and I truly hope that business owners find some inspiration in my journey and take steps to give opportunity to those closest to them… Their staff, their friends and family…

With around 300 people in the room, all fairly senior directors of businesses in their own right and with a number of BBC Apprentice candidates failing to win their categories, I feel extremely proud of how far I’ve come, since the young boy under the duvet cowering in fear of his father…

Make the change happen, that’s all I can ask of anyone… Hold the door, take the old ladies bag up the stairs at the station, be the light in someones life, when there may just be no one there on the other side for them to turn to. We were all meant to be whole and to be happy and it may be through turmoil that we grow, but we can also rid ourselves of the ‘stiff upper lip’, or the awkward conversational angst and step up to the plate.

If you turn one person’s life around and that’s all you ever do… Was your time on this earth wasted…?! You could be helping the chap who cures cancer, the woman on the brink with a baby at home, or the man that may give you your next promotion…

Do it with love…. ACTUALLY CARE! And upon letting that positive approach be your guide, rest assured, wanting nothing in return, you’ll be at peace in the sense that you ‘were’ the change. You may just save a life…

Hooray for awards, much good may the crystal do us, but the people watching may just be the catalyst we need to make a difference…

I’ve now been invited to do a personal blog for the IoD and be interviewed in a video blog for them and their wider mental health campaign, so keep your eyes open for that in the coming months…

And if you’re sitting there reading this and you think good for him, but why am I stuck in the dark… Please reach out. I am here to listen… And I genuinely mean that… I don’t care about money, or publicity or all that rubbish, what I do care about is trying to ensure that no one else ever has to feel as lost as I have…

It often feels like there’s no one there… But there is, and I am, and I will be… Don’t choose the bridge, or the drugs, or the knife, or the train, as I have in dark times, if we work as one then we will never be lonely again…

To see my work with HeadTalks please check out my video and know you’re not alone.

And if you want to reach out then drop me a line to thomas@corporatewardrobe.co.uk

 

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…