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Archive for November, 2008

This week has been Enterprise Week 2008 and in my volunteer role as Education Liaison Officer for the IOD I chaperoned a group of students from Central Sussex College up to the IOD headquarters in Pall Mall. The IOD lays on a series of interesting speakers for this event each year, with an objective to stimulate entrepreneurship among the students.

This year’s speakers were pretty good and Tim Campbell in particular (ex-Apprentice winner) spoke really very well about his experiences in life thus far, without harping on too much about his time with ‘Sir Alan’.

I believe the students all benefited from the day and it is always rewarding to see the lights coming on in a students’ eyes as they finally hear the liberating message that they are empowered to be in charge of their own futures – along with the message that it takes effort to succeed in any discipline.

Last evening, I was the guest speaker at the University of Sussex Enterprise Thursday event and this was equally rewarding for me, as I took the students through my own entrepreneurial journey to packaging pure natural mineral water into more sensible (Tetra Pak) paper cartons. I’m proud to say there weren’t any early leavers (my personal barometer of effectiveness) and the questions afterwards showed the students had made a genuine engagement with the journey I’ve been on, thereby broadening their understanding of a subject area they weren’t previously familiar with.

The recycling questions in particular opened an interesting discussion and it is encouraging when people listen to what you’re saying and think. I’ve never claimed a carton is a perfect package; simply that it’s a more sensible package than plastic for portable water with an overall lower carbon footprint than the aternatives!

As it is Enterprise Week, I took the liberty of starting my presentation with a bit of an eye (mind) opener in the form of a mildly modified version of the ‘Did You Know’ / ‘Shift Happened’ presentation. For those who don’t know, the original presentation was developed back in 2006 by Karl Fisch, the technology coordinator of a US High School; in order to help raise funding for the technology he saw a need for within his school. If you have the time, his blog is worth perusing, otherwise you can simply watch the presentations embedded in my ‘blogroll’ to the right of this blog.

Karl’s presentations have subsequently gone around the globe umpteen times and while there’s always some who interpret them as a little too much of ‘us versus them’ (the comparisons of China and India) – I love the way they open students’ minds to the reality of global competition and how they need to do a little more than turn up at lectures if they genuinely want to ‘make it’ in life. I love them for the way they encourage some to think about entrepreneurship as a means of taking control of their own lives – perhaps for the first time…

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We had a great news e-mail recently from Andrew Kaplan, the editor of Beverage World– a genuine authority on anything one can drink – the clue is in their title.

He advised Aquapax has won a Special Jury Award as a ‘green package’ in their 2008 Global Packaging Awards and he was asking for a few words to ensure their write-up was accurate. Here’s a link to the electronic version of their fine magazine(trees are way too important to use them for magazines) and you can find references to us on pages 40 & 82. or simply search ‘Aquapax’.

Winning awards is one thing, but securing distribution is another and the media hype around the global recession is enough to drive anyone into depression. It’s certainly enough to give traditional supermarket buyers an excuse not to do anything, at a time when their Boards are banging their proverbial tables, demanding innovation.

It’s one of life’s ironies that it’s always someone else having trouble, that stimulates someone else into writing / publicising it, that in turn creates the feeding frenzy currently going on out there in media world that affects everyone. I’ve even read something today about the ‘fate’ of the Pound, now that it’s reached a new low against the Euro. For goodness sake, since the early 1970s, (on a synthetic basis) GBP/EUR has posted an average daily value of EUR1.70. Sure it’s low today at EUR1.16 but it’ll be back.

To quote Michael Winner in the e-Sure advertisements, my advice is “calm down dear” – there are enough people employed who still need to eat, brush their teeth, wash their hair, travel to work etc. to constitute an economy.

We all know things are slowing down – it’s inevitable after the greed induced chaos the markets have recently uncovered. That doesn’t mean it’s game over and it certainly doesn’t mean you should believe the hype that tries to convince you how much worse things are going to get; becoming a self fulfilling prophesy in the process. You may lose a little cash, but what’s a little cash in the bigger picture?

“Don’t worry, be happy” is another great mantra at a time like this. You don’t need as much cash as you think to be happy and Aquapax still only cost 79p in Waitrose at Canary Wharf. ps. Happy engagement Mr Winner – I hope you and Geraldine are very happy together, with or without a credit squeeze… 🙂

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