The gridlock above London town.


Are you going to stand up against this? #notinmyname

More madness over the weekend, hundred’s of people had their travel plans distrubted because of a bomb left under a bridge in Newry on Friday, it took me close to 5 hours to get home from my office in Dublin.  I don’t see how cutting off the main road between Belfast and Dublin can somehow work towards a United Ireland, surely if you wanted a united Ireland you would be encouraging cross border travel!

This morning hundreds of more people were delayed getting to work because of a hoax bomb on the M1.  It won’t stop me living here, it won’t stop me doing business across the island, it won’t stop me raising my family in this wonderful country.

They must not win, we cannot allow them to win!

If you are stuck in traffic or your journey is delayed because of these people, don’t let it get you down, take some time to enjoy the scenery surrounding you, take some time to talk to the person stuck in the car next to you.  Don’t let it get you down, don’t let it anger you because if you do, they win.

We need to stand united against these people, we need a United Ireland, that is an Ireland that is United in standing up against these people.

Watch this video Ruth has put together to learn more about how you can make your stand!

Send your photo to : , about now is good!

A fantastic resignation letter…… and CV all in one.

Below is an email sent from Michael Charlton CEO of Think London to anyone who has ever had any dealing with Think London, it’s a fantastic way to say farewell and dare I say it…… a great pitch for finding a new job, I’m sure he will be getting calls soon.   It’s a shame his domain is just a holding page.

Dear Russell

You may know that from 1st April 2011 Think London is combining with two other agencies (Visit & Study London) to form a new single promotional agency for London called London & Partners. I have taken the decision not to transfer across to the new agency and will leave Think London on 31st March 2011. It has been an absolute honour and a truly fantastic experience to have worked at and then as CEO, run Think London over the last 10 years. I am extremely proud of our achievements and the legacy we leave behind for London. For nearly two decades Think London has played a critical role in ensuring that London has maintained its position as Europe’s leading destination for FDI. Since 1994 we have assisted nearly 2,000 overseas businesses – large and small – from every business sector and from more than 40 countries around the globe to set up and expand in London. Collectively these companies have created over 40,000 jobs – adding £4.6 billion to the London economy.

In 1994 we began as pioneers – breaking new ground for London – fast forward to the present day, we are fully fledged professionals recognized by the World Bank as one of the best global agencies.

It’s been an amazing journey for me personally, and one which I have been privileged to be part of. From the highs and lows of the dot com bubble and burst, to meeting numerous Heads of State.  From banging the drum for London around the globe with Ministers, Mayor’s and Lord Mayor’s, to attending three Olympic Games. From hosting the first event in the New York Stock Exchange after its re-opening following the tragedy of 9/11 to our work in China to promote London as a destination for Chinese companies going global.

It’s been a ball and the memories will remain with me forever. Clearly what we have achieved could not have been done without the dedication, enthusiasm, creativity and commitment of my amazing team, the tireless and passionate support of the Think London board and all our partners both in the private and public sectors. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. And finally to all our clients who have taken the plunge and invested or re-invested in this great city.

Thank you all for your support, commitment and friendship over the years.

I hope to stay in touch with as many of you as possible. My new contact details are as follows :

Or stay connected with me via LinkedIn

Wishing you all the very best for the future and hoping our paths will cross again.

Best Wishes


Michael Charlton


Good salesmanship is alive and well

I popped into the local londis store, around the corner from my office here in Dublin at Lunch time, grabbed a Kit Kat (cause they are fat free, didn’t you know?) and handed the guy on the till’s a cool tenner.

“Would you like a lottery ticket for tomorrow night, it’s a €14million jackpot” he asked enthusiastically.  Why not, I thought, he took the extra €3 out of my change and we both got on with our days.

Excellent, had he not asked, I would not have bought the ticket.  Simple but effective.  The point is this, to many people simply don’t ask and if you don’t ask, you don’t get.  Shops don’t make much on lottery sales, a few % at best but it adds much needed cashflow to a small business and in todays market, cashflow is king.

I can’t find the article now but I remember reading in the past that the ‘extra shot’ Starbucks are always encouraging you to take, adds up to something stupid like 15% on their BOTTOM line.

Go ask for some business, you will be surprised at the results!

Can I get a freaking coffee please?

Last night myself and some buddies had the pleasure of attending the Irish Blog Awards in the Europa Hotel, Belfast (great night, enough about that though).

Once the event and eating were over, we decided to head to a pub, then it became apparent that all 4 of us were driving, so no point in heading to a pub on a Saturday night . Let’s get a coffee I thought! The words ‘Great idea’ resounded and we headed to the hip and happening ‘Lisburn Road’ for a coffee because after all, it was only 10.30pm.

First stop, Starbucks by the uni. Shut

Next stop, Arizona (made famous as a place to hang out in the evening and drink coffee), they were open but it was for take out only……… Despite the people sitting down behind us.

On to Morelli”s then. Again, they were open and seemed at first to want us to sit down and enjoy their establishment but then as it turned out, we were only allowed to sit down whilst we waited for our take out coffee. Thanks!

Everywhere else was shut…………… So we went to McDonalds, had some coffee, chatted then went home. Mission complete.

Now you can slag McDonalds all you want but they seem to know how to run a business better than the artisan places we give so much kudos too, incidentally, OpenCoffeeLisburn is only held at McDonalds because it is the only place in Lisburn open at 7am.

Why is McDonalds the only place open? Belfast is supposed to be a bustling European city not a ghost town at 11pm…… Unless you want alcohol that is.

Belfast : City of the future, if you are of retirement age that is.

Whats the Big (Society) idea ?

Yer Man David Cameron, off coalition Government fame has been chatting about his BigSociety again,

Here are the bullet points from Wikipedia;

The plans include setting up a Big Society Bank and introducing a national citizen service.[4] The stated priorities are:

  1. Give communities more powers (localism and devolution)
  2. Encourage people to take an active role in their communities (volunteerism)
  3. Transfer power from central to local government
  4. Support co-opsmutualscharities and social enterprises
  5. Publish government data (open/transparent government)

It’s all a bit nuts if you ask me……………………. but it all makes sense. I like it! Society is made up of a random bunch of people and local matters, matter to local people.  We all have different skill sets so why can’t we all give just a little bit back to society instead of taking all the time.

I have been doing charity work since I was 14, I started helping out with the Beaver Scouts, now (a few years later) i’m still scouting.  I don’t actively run a Friday night group any more but I use the skills learnt in my paid employment to sit on scouting boards, executive committees and also run events.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my paid employment but there is something satisfying about helping to educate kids through scouting.  Some of my happiest times have been spent in the pissing rain at scout camp.  Often I spend more time working for free, than working for money.  So why can’t we all do it?

Because we (as a society) are a bunch of lazy, selfish, freeloading morons……. don’t believe me?  What have you done today to make you feel proud (yeah)? If you can’t answer that, then you need to do something about it (now will be fine).

One of DC’s idea’s is to have a National Citizen Service, a sort of unpaid bunch of people (manly over 16 years olds) that can help out when the time arises.  It’s a great idea, the UK is one of the only EU countries that does not have a civil defense service and I have seen the civil defense do great work in Ireland during the floods.

Northern Ireland is the only UK state that does not have a 4×4 response team, despite calls to set one up.  During the Cockermouth floods in England, the 4×4 response team were as vital as the police and army were at getting people safe.

What can I do ? Give your time, like I said, everyone has something to offer and maybe just maybe if we all club together and do just one little thing, give just one thing back then we can make this world bearable for our children.


Stop crying about the cost of beer

One of the biggest gripes people complain to me about is the price of a pint of beer and I’m sick of it.

People fail to understand that a 2.5% VAT increase on the top of a pint or 1p on a pint at the budget doesn’t simply mean a 2.5%  (or 1p  if we are talking about the budget) increase in the cost they pay in the bar.

The hospitality trade has to pay 2.5% vat on every single thing needed to provide you with that pint of beer, heat, light, barware, rent, cleaning products, the list is endless.

A 1p cost on the pint of beer at the budget, is 1p on the barrel price, not the actual price you pay.

In real terms,

A 2.5% increase in VAT results in a 10p rise in the price of a pint

A 1p increase in the cost of a pint at the budget, results in 5p-6p on the price you pay

Last year, in Northern Ireland the average price of a pint of beer was £3.00 and the average profit per pint was reduced to an all time low of 13p………. still think you are being ripped off?

Many pubs and hotels have done their upmost to absorb recent increase’s but with the disastrous weather in Q4, the hospitality trade in Northern Ireland was hit hard.  Hotels and bars have had to apply price rises or risk their business failing.

Speaking on this, Colin Neil, Chief Exec of ‘Pubs of Ulster’ The trade body says.

“Unfortunately this is another instance where pubs fair worse than supermarkets, which still retain the margins to absorb the VAT increase whilst selling alcohol below cost.  We hope that the coalition government’s plans to introduce minimum pricing in England and Wale and the upcoming consultation on a minimum price for alcohol in Northern Ireland will lead to an end to the pub industry being unfortunately penalised with disproportionate taxes.  However current proposals to not go far enough and we call upon the Assembly to lead the way and set an effective minimum price for alcohol in Northern Ireland.”

If you want to see your local bar continue to be there for you in the future, pay a fair price for alcohol and please, please stop crying about the cost of beer……… no one is making you drink it!