Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dragging On, and Down? - How reality TV is not serving this nation

A caught a piece from the FT (no sub, no access to comment), but wrote to the author, who kindly replied and suggested I resend to the letters page. Here's the full version:

What I read struck a chord in one who has stood and still stands at the other side of the entrepreneur: business angel/VC relationship. With the dubious added extra benefit of being involved with such reality TV shows as well.

There's a lot of talk in high places these days about encouraging enterprise, especially the social variety.

As with anything, having a great idea is the easy part. Putting together a business plan that makes sense, and a team to execute it just notches up the grief factor to a whole new level. But once you get to funding....

Which is why a lot of people are seduced by such shows. With the added attraction of potential publicity, which any product or service can only gain from having, especially to a nationwide audience, for no more investment than some time, small change and some humiliation.

I thought I was smart, but perhaps I was too smart. I had no intention of some clown getting half my company for the price of their lunch tab at the Ivy, especially when I had no idea what the deal would be before deciding on the spot, and with no idea of their level of commitment. I just wanted profile. Sadly, they saw me coming a mile off. And now I realise my cunning plan would still be on the edit room floor.

So what we have is an endless supply of hapless, televisual 'Christians' being fed into... the Dragon's Den.

Great for ratings. Horrible for enterprise. Most with halfway decent ideas now wouldn't go near such shows (at the British Invention Show we were running away from their reps), and are tarring serious, sensible, decent investors with a very negative brush. And as far as the youth of the country is concerned, being a good businessperson now merely requires one being like Simon Cowell, only without the charm and the interesting lifestyle.

It's a disaster for getting together the key, complementary components that make up a great team to push something into the market and turn a profit.

If I had one critique from my experience of the more reasonable varieties of VC/funder, it is that they still expect things to be laid out for them in a manner they can recognise. Understandable, but there are a lot of creative people out there who are not that savvy with or temperamentally attuned to P&Ls, spreadsheets, forecasts etc. Or suits. It's a shame therefore that there is not more effort to establish a proactive and productive interface between these two disparate character traits, to facilitate the path to mutual reward.

There is more to life than just making money and showing how 'hard' you can be. And in my business experience, it's the guys who are very smart, and very nice as well, who really make things happen.

'A great person (ok, I'm PC-sensitive) makes others feel small. A truly great person makes others feel great'.

I'd rather work with the latter, as I know that if they make me feel great, together we'll make others feel great, and that is a quick route to success... and staying at the top.

I attach here a URL to just one thread of a posting to a show you may or may not have heard of - SKY's The Big Idea - where the subject of DD came up. You may be interested. I just looked and there is a brand new posting about DD. Not very encouraging.

It all adds up. Or does it?

Calculating the carbon cost of business travel

I wonder how much calculating results in not doing in the first place.

Homeworking, video-conferencing, anyone?

Whacking a fir in the Gobi to compensate is not better than nothing, if and when the alternative of not travelling is available.

It will also make for a thinner travel section as you don't get to go to report on a Bali sap where the climate change delegates will go to relax. Or their ads.

But it does spoil the jollies some, luckier than others, enjoy.


A very comprehensive post by EvilClanger, most of which I could not agree more with.

My only area of concern strays into the social costs of sledgehammer taxes, so I am reassured to see the word ‘graduated’ in the commercial tax calculation. I do get nervous by what seems a vaguely elitist, urban-centric view that those who live in the country all escaped there and enjoy a bohemian lifestyle. I’d venture many do not have the luxury of a penthouse in Canary Wharf, especially if they have families or don’t work in the City. I do believe it’s because that’s all they can afford.

ps: I think fur is now back ‘in’, probably featured in a gossip or style section near here.

The Emperor's New Steamroller

Wasn't the first. Won't be the last.: Road charge petition was a car crash waiting to happen

'I don't think anyone is coming out of this very well, including me probably but especially the planet, sadly.

Like a few posters here (not exactly the Jeremy Clarkson fan club, but for a Guardian blog the % pro/con the petition is significant, at least at this early stage), I fully accept that something needs to be done, but signed the petition because I certainly was not going to hand a bunch of clowns 'my mandate' to do it with their greenwashing/income-generating track record to date.

And especially with almost all policy being decided by a new-found green elite within the Islington/Westminster/FleetStreet triangle, who probably don't need a car to get them to work any more than their villas in Tuscany.

I'm still wading through all the media sources of today to see how it has moved on (to create an updated post to the one above), but one thing that has struck me already is the shameless and arrogant way that so many of the chattering classes have decided that they know stuff and the rest of us don't. Much less should be allowed have the right to express it. Feeling a little redundant perhaps, chaps and chapesses? The people are still allowed opinions, I do trust? And now it seems when they do get expressed we either don't understand, are being misled or are being selfish.

And our elected representatives have a "duty to listen"? Well there's a novelty. It seems that they no longer have much of a duty hear what is being said, or are too [insert pejorative here] to understand or feel the need to respond sensibly if the old index-linked is looking a smidge threatened.

Odd also that it has taken until now for a "high-ranking government member" (which means NOTHING to me unless it is attributed, so why quote it) and others to express some doubts - Event. Wise. After. The.

Live with it dudes. So as you sowed...

Actually, I think it's a great piece of popular feedback, sadly lacking these days from those claimed voices of the people that are our press - with 'right' & 'left' inevitably taking polar opposite views and then rabble-rousing to drum up the best readerships/ratings they can before moving on to the next stumbling invalid to savage.

And I love the notion of declining to comment on something, with a spokesman then commenting.

Yet again, all those with a vested interest in their self-serving agendas are running like blazes from having an opinion that may actually pin them down to a sincere belief... which might also not quite fit. Let's find some folk with cojones and credibility out there to deal with this honestly, as opposed to back-pedaling, backside-covering and attempting to steamroller through the crowds regardless with no clothes on.'

It also occurs, too late, that the headline is daft. What are they saying? Only approved petitions are allowed? That defeats the object!!!

Caught in the headlights

A similar discussion going on next door:

As life, and policy, these days is dictated by headline, I have to look critically at "A Million Motorists CAN be Wrong". I am a motorist. And I signed. Therefore I am wrong?

I just dared to voice support for an opinion, having been asked to do so by my government, on the boss-man's website. Maybe the nuances of my views were lost a bit in the sweeping nature of it all, but on balance I was not handing my kids' future, short and long term, to this plan from this lot, with their record. And I'm wrong?

I am as green as I think I can be. Not as green as I could. And I see the way forward as being through cooperation (which means trust), fairness, reward and genuine, prioritised enviro-ROI. The way I read this effort it was no such thing. So my response was nothing to do with 'wanting to ignore global warming'.

Maybe voters sign before they know enough. It has been ever thus. Who is there to decide what we know and when it is enough? It seems a lot of folk who don't like the result have tried to play a 'you are not worthy card'. Especially major media who reckon they have the exclusive on such wisdom yet invariably manage polar opposite views.

Now that gets me very annoyed.

Times - Blair to e-mail all who sign road charge petition

Long day. Just got to this. The others have pretty much covered it all. But here's my 2p:

So Mr. Blair is going to write to me to dispel the myths that caused me to sign the petition?

Poor old me. I just signed it because it looked like yet another half-a***ed income generating exercise concocted by city-dwellers to fill the index-linked public sector pension hole in the name of green, with no clear outline of how the revenue would improve the environment. I do trust that will be addressed in his email.

And now I am going to be fed one-sided propaganda to make me change my mind, because they know where I live. What next? Zils at dawn?

I think I feel another political disaster coming on. Spinning out of control?

Times - Driven round the bend at £1.50 a mile

Love it. A grumpy person in a flat city telling the rest of us in the country to cycle. You'll be telling me to use the tube next. You really should get out more and realise not all of us live in the Islington, Westminster, Fleet Street triangle. So notions dreamt up in the Ivy are a bit of a concern to the rest of us.

Meanwhile, back to why I signed. As Mr. Blair now knows here I live and is going to send the boys round to point out the error of my ways as I have been 'misled' by a concern over things that 'have not be ruled out', I do hope I will get full disclosure of how all this dosh goes to helping my kids' future environmentally and not propping up his bloated circus of departments' and beholden quangos' pension plans.

Times - There may be better alternatives to road pricing
Times - Livingstone’s £8 zone heads west, but traffic jams are as bad as ever
Indy - Good policies should not fall victim to the bullying of selfish, short-sighted petitioners

I need go no further than this: '..bullying of selfish, short-sighted petitioners'. For the rest go here.

I do not believe I am selfish, or shortsighted. I am concerned, especially at things that 'need not be ruled out'. As well as a total lack of clear answers.

As to bullying, by invitation I signed a petition, and did so based on a lot of information I had gleaned to my satisfaction. If that is bullying, you need to look up your definitions.

Do you by chance live within walking, or tube distance of London's political, media and social centres?

I believe you and your fellow know-betters have set back the cause of environmental engagement with the vast majority of this contry's common people more than anything else in recent history. Your arrogance is breath-taking.

Indy - Mark Steel: Anyone would think motorists were a minority In there, amongst all the champagne socialist ranting, is a few fair points: 'the reason the petition has attracted such vast numbers is public transport is ridiculously, unreliably, filthily expensive.

And the last train between major cities is usually about eight o' clock, because if you want to stay out later than that you're obviously some sort of Bohemian...

Shame he spoiled it with his intro and ending. I guess he was having a bad day getting from Islington to White City by BBC-compensated cab.

Eco-liberal elites like him are no longer funny. And we won't even die laughing if we can't get the normal, working folk onside.

Telegraph - Debate on road pricing is 'a sham'
Indy - Stuck in the wrong gear - A lot more sense than their commentators
Telegraph - Road pricing 'won't end congestion problems'

Men of God. Feet of clay.

The other night there was a programme about religion's involvement in global warming... and what they are doing and intend to do about it: Saving souls - and the planet

I've just watched it.

Seemed the thing to do before commenting too much.

I think we have a better chance with Tony Blair and his celebrity roadshow.

Which is a worry.

ps: Good point on the 50k a week flying nun... ok, bishop. I saw it, thought 'typical' and moved on without thinking. Tricky things, facts.

Rumbling On

As long term readers of this blog will recall, we took part in a Reality TV show last year that started well but drifted in to... 'unfortunate' areas.

I'm sure the programme makers would hope that it has been left well alone, but a lot of folk were asked to commit a lot of time and money in a contest, whose rules and management became less and less satisfactory, with a bizarre collection of decisions being taken by the organisers that left the results in question.

As one who was not impressed, I decided that if there was anything that needed answering, those responsible should answer it. So I have maintained a watching brief.

This latest vindicates my determination.

If even winners have not had delivered what was promised, it goes to the true intentions of the programme makers to all who were invited to take part.