Chris Croft's Personal Blog

January 12, 2017

Ermahgerd – Flerpjerks

Filed under: Random stuff - uncategorisable — chriscroft @ 10:52 pm

flerpjerks

 

 

Actually I don’t even like flap jacks!  But it had to be done…..

November 5, 2016

The top ten pet hates of a management trainer

Filed under: Careers, Lists, Uncategorized — chriscroft @ 2:12 pm

If you’re going on a course, try not to do any of these!  and – enjoy!

 

 

  1. When the first thing someone asks you is “When do we finish?”.  They may have a good reason but it gives the impression that they are already wishing it was over, that they want to get the day over with using the minimum effort.  If you had an audience with The Dalai Llama or Einstein or Martin Luther King or John Lennon, would you start by asking “When can we finish?” or “Can we finish a bit early, because I’m a bit worried about the traffic south of Birmingham?”
  2. Sometimes I get someone coming up before the start looking really sheepish – I already know what they are going to say – and they say “I’m really sorry, I’ve got to go early, is that OK?”  Again, they probably have a good reason, picking up children from school for example, but I still find this annoying because it puts that little bit of pressure on me to do everything important before they have to go, in fact it implies that some of my course isn’t as important, and also makes me think about pulling it out of shape just for them – ideally you’d have something great at the finish, but now they are making me think I should more that part forward. And there’s this other implication that I will be upset that they aren’t going to learn quite as much as they would have.  Perhaps I should be?  But really, it makes no difference to me if they choose to miss part of my course – I’m doing it, the best way I can, for everyone that will listen.  Why apologise to me?  If you really DO think it’s bad to miss some then make more of an effort to stay till the end!  If and it it’s really only a mock apology, given out of politeness rather than really feeling bad, then don’t bother to lie to me.
  3. But much more of a pet hate than the first two is the person who just doesn’t want to be on the course.  Sent by their boss, they sit there with their arms folded, looking sideways or out of the window, putting a downer on the whole proceedings for everyone.  I always hope I can win them over, and occasionally I do, but mostly they sit through the day with their mind closed, and afterwards I regret not just chucking them out at the start.
  4. Introverted groups are another pet hate – you might think it’s unlikely that you’ll get 12 people who are ALL introverts, but it’s more common than you’d expect, for two reasons.  One is that it’s a company culture thing – often a whole company will be introverts, for example Engineers are often that way.  And the second is that you only need two or three extroverts to make a day lively and fun, the quiet people are then padding who have no effect, and on many courses this is what you get.  So all you need is those two or three people to not happen to be on that particular course and you have the morgue from hell.  If I was not interactive, if I just read out stuff from powerpoint, then the audience wouldn’t make any difference, but I like to chat with the audience, have a debate, have a laugh, and if you’re doing a training day every day, with travel in between each one, you need a bit of help from the audience.  So the introverted groups are much harder work. And it’s rude of them not to respond – they sit there with their arms folded thinking “someone else can answer that one, I can’t be bothered”.  Of course they might just be shy, but to an extrovert like me this is hard to understand, so I interpret it as laziness and rudeness.  Which I do think in some situations it is.  Although I am often pleasantly surprised by the feedback from introvert groups, who write that they learned loads and enjoyed the day – so maybe the fact that it was REALLY hard work for me wasn’t entirely wasted.
  5. The opposite of the last one is the super-keen Chipper-in Agreer.  This is the person who says “Oh yes, I get that situation a lot, what I always do is…..” and “Oh yes, we have that in our department and I always do what you are saying”.  If they amplify every point it’s nice to start with, but then it doubles the time it takes for me to make each point, so I can only cover half the material on my day – or risk finishing late which is a big crime.  In a group of 10 people it’s rude to take up more than 10% of the commenting time, so don’t!  The others in the group often roll their eyes – they know this person only too well.  If the person is saying they do it the same as me then they are merely repeating what I’m saying and it’s a waste of time, and if they are saying they do it differently then excuse me, who is running this course?  So I have to cut them off mid comment each time, which they don’t like, and they write something bad about me on the feedback form, but such is life!
  6. A common one but also one that really irritates me is the person who doesn’t write anything down …in fact often they haven’t even brought a pen.  As if there isn’t going to be ANYTHING worth making a note of, in a whole DAY of training!  This may not be their fault, because maybe nobody has ever explained that you learn more if you take notes, or maybe they are not good at making notes on the fly, maybe they can’t even write.  Or maybe they were expecting handouts for everything.  But still to me it gives the impression that they aren’t picking up anything good from my efforts.  A subset is the doodler, and they used to annoy me too, especially the ones who just colour in all the e’s and o’s, but I have learned over the years that often doodlers are taking it all in and they can often be the best students of all.
  7. Then there’s the person with the tickly cough, who usually sits at the front end arm of the u-shape, on my right, for maximum volume, suddenly coughing straight into my ear, all day. Variations of this are the person with the running spluttering cold who also sits right at the front and gives it to me; and the person who clicks their biro all day, again right at the front.  These aren’t bad people – they don’t know they’re annoying – but it’s hard to tell them!
  8. The next pet hate is one that I should really be pleased with, but I’m not!  This is the person who comes up at the end and says “That was better than I expected” with a slightly surprised and also patronising tone.  “You’re not a bad little trainer, you actually managed to come up with just one or two things I didn’t know already”.  They thought I wasn’t going to be any good – do I look bad, or did they have preconceptions?  Maybe it’s not about me, maybe the last trainer they had wasn’t any good, so I’m being a little harsh here?  I guess if they were massively enthusiastic: “That was BRILLIANT, SO much better than the last course I went on” – that would be fine.  It’s the begrudging admittance that it was just “OK”, the fact that they are judging me, and then saying to me that I was “OK”.  And if everyone else thought it was great, is it me that’s OK or them that’s hard to please?
  9. Next is the person who comes up at the end – when I am busy packing up and want to get on the motorway for my three hour drive home – and offers their advice on how the course could have been better.  Thanks mate!  I’ve been doing this for 20 years and you’ve wandered in to one course and you are now qualified to tell me how to do it better, from just your point of view, even though the rest of the course participants might not agree. “This section could have been faster / slower / shorter / longer” – for YOU maybe but what about the others?  Do you think I haven’t already thought about that, tried it on previous courses, and worked out the best way?  And if, let’s say if, one part of the day didn’t quite work for some reason, do you think I haven’t already noticed that and thought about how to improve it?  It’s what I DO, and NOT what YOU do for a living.   And I think sometimes the suggestion on how to improve is a bit of a game, it’s not really meant to be helpful, it’s “I’m cleverer than you” – or am I too sensitive, too vain, too arrogant?  Maybe!     A variation is the person who hangs around at the end asking me extra questions about the subject, about their own situation “I’ve got this person who I work with some sometimes does this and that…..  what’s your advice?”   – it’s good that they are keen, but do they not realise I have a home to go to?  Do they not realise that coaching is £100/hour?  Do they not realise that I may find my personal life more attractive than continuing to work after a long exhausting day, with 3 hours of travel still to go, on their problems?
  10. Finally there is being asked “Can I have a certificate of attendance?”  The certificate is worthless – can’t they see that?  It’s not accredited by anyone, it’s just MADE UP and printed out by me!  And they could have slept through the day but still get the certificate of attendance, so all it means is that they were physically on a course, in body but maybe not in mind.   But the main objection is that it shows they only want to tick a box and collect another certificate, rather than actually learn anything.

 

Ooof, I feel better now.  I hope you found that useful for when you are next on a course – we trainers do have our feelings you know!

October 7, 2016

Blood Red

Filed under: Happiness, Music — chriscroft @ 12:01 pm

We are a rock band based in Poole, playing original music

bloodred3

Tracks:  

bloodRedSun   Blood Red      

black3   Black Shadow Creek  

Personnel:

Penny Humphries – vocal

Dave Carson – guitar

Chris Croft- sax

Mike Nicholls – drums

Dave Thomas – keyboards and studio work

blood6

 

Contact:

Chris – 07966241750

chris@blood-red.co.uk

bloodred2  red8

 

 

band20

August 18, 2016

“Sports” that shouldn’t really be in the Olympics

Filed under: Lists, Sport, Uncategorized — Tags: — chriscroft @ 10:07 am

This is just my opinion.  total respect to anyone who is world class at anything.  But I would ditch these….

 

  • BMX, it’s for children
  • Golf, because it’s boring
  • Sailing because you can’t see what they’re doing – they just bob around on the waves in the distance for a bit and then come back with a medal
  • Some of the swimming because there are so many distances and styles that there are too many medals given out
  • Football and tennis because they have their own competitions
  • I would keep dressage, even though it is basically showing off on a horse and isn’t really a sport, because it is at least clever
  • I would keep the cat and mouse cycle sprint because it’s hilarious, and actually very skilful, similarly the Kierin with the ridiculous electric bike
  • I wouldn’t allow the female gymnasts to be so young, I just think it’s probably bad for them as kids to do so much excessive exercise under such mental pressure
  • The synchronised diving was amazing but the problem is everybody was completely brilliant so the being judged on tiny details – so it needs to be made harder so we can distinguish the winner more easily

Apart from that, rock on!

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 11.11.56

July 24, 2016

Free sample of my Big Book of Happiness

Filed under: Books and Culture, Happiness, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — chriscroft @ 5:33 pm

CCroftBigBookHappinessCover

 

Hi everybody – in case you’re not able to get a kindle copy (maybe you don’t have a kindle) then please do have a read of this (it’s less than a quarter of the book but it’s still quite long – just skim it if you like) and leave me an honest review on either the US Kindle or UK Kindle pages.  Many thanks in advance for any reviews!

 

happiness star

==============================================

(more…)

July 3, 2016

What’s my hourly rate? What’s yours?

Filed under: Uncategorized — chriscroft @ 9:49 am

The Real cost of Doing Business

I would charge £1200 to come to you in Manchester for a day and run a training course.  Is that an excessive hourly rate?  For an 8 hour day it’s £150/hour: blimey!

But apart from the supply and demand argument (not many people are prepared to risk being self employed,  do all the travel, and do the selling and the doing, when they could get a well paid job running a factory or whatever)

…..and also the value-to-you argument: that day or training might save you £1million a year in better negotiating or better-run projects, and if the ten people on the course each get 1% more effective then the £120 each you’ve spent on them has been worth it,

…. But apart from these, let’s look at the REAL hourly rate.  And this is important to you as well, because you’ll have the same sort of thing going on in your own business.  Lots of costs that get forgotten when you price up your time, either as a manager or as a service provider.

So it looks like £1200 for 8 hours.   “£150 per hour!”

 

But the 8 hours is really…

Including travel at least 2 hours each way = 12 hours

(not counting staying the night before)

Including prep time = 13 hours

Including invoicing afterwards, and booking hotels = 14 hours

Plus selling and client maintenance and arranging details of room, numbers, changes etc = 16 hours

(YOUR work will have a similar list of extras that you don’t always think about)

 

Then there’s the money coming in:

After tax the £1200 is more like £800

After petrol it’s £700

After hotel it’s £600

After printer ink, folders, books and cost of office it’s £500

(not counting website, marketing etc)

Then there’s the cost of holidays, pension and sickness which self employed people don’t get  – very conservative estimate of £100 for this and we are at £400

 

 

So really I’m getting £400 for 16 hours which is £25 per hour.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to earn £25 per hour for a job I love doing, but just don’t accuse me of getting paid £150!

June 22, 2016

Filming at lynda.com in Los Angeles

Filed under: Uncategorized — chriscroft @ 9:12 am

IMG_2661

Apart from me, can you see the other three people in the room?

February 28, 2016

Europe – in or out – summary of the arguments

Filed under: Uncategorized — chriscroft @ 12:30 pm

EU Croft

 

It’s a big important subject and everyone is biased.  So let’s look at all the arguments and try to decide based on facts…..

Arguments for staying in

  • The fear of the unknown – it’s a risk we don’t need to take
  • We are currently getting the best of both in and out – we have border control, we aren’t locked into the Euro, but we have easy trade agreements and some influence
  • Most of the business people think we are better off financially staying in (e.g. Richard Branson, whose views I respect immensely, he’s not in anyone’s pocket)
  • We would have to renegotiate all our trade deals with every country – a huge nightmare!
  • What other unpicking will there need to be??
  • We’ll have to pay more to everyone who we trade with – trade restrictions, levies, duty, etc
  • Risk of reduced inward investment (or maybe the reverse if we are different and freer??)
  • The Eu block has big negotiating clout with China etc
  • Maybe even military safety from being in the club
  • Once out we could never get back in again
  • We can always decide to leave in 5 or 10 years time if the Eu gets worse – that option is still open
  • What are the “terrible” laws that have been “forced up on us by the Eu”?  I haven’t seen a single convincing example of these…

Arguments for getting out

  • Everyone else in Europe is bankrupt so if we join with them it HAS to be bad
  • The Eu is more likely to get worse than better – more interference, and more poor
  • We are doing best and that’s because we’re half out, so let’s get ALL out
  • Supply and demand rules anyway – we sell because we’re good not because of the Eu, and that will always be the case
  • We don’t get any favours at the moment – the French don’t buy our beef, etc
  • We are the only mugs who follow the rules, so we lose out
  • the Germans and to an extent the French run the show, not us
  • The rules and financial settings of the group can’t be best for us, they will always be an average
  • It isn’t working at the moment – all they do is bicker and have failed on immigrants, Schengen etc
  • We are a net payer-in at the moment (9 billion)
  • We don’t want to share our fisheries, especially with people who overfish.
  • The MPs want us to stay in because it’s a gravy train for them personally – Cameron has only changed his tune (he used to be for exit) because he’s now PM and he’s look bad if he wanted to leave (imagine his position if he votes out but the vote keeps us in!)
  • We could be a freewheeling alternative to the Eu – as we have been in the past – great for inward investment, relations with the US, etc
  • Look at Switzerland – they seem fine
  • If Europe all collapses at some point in the future (France Italy Spain Greece) we don’t want to go down with it
  • We can’t make around trade deals with India and China, we have to do it via the EU with 28 other idiots all with their own agendas
  • Even though we are outside Schengen we are not allowed to turn away anybody from within Europe who wants to come into our country
  • We are the fifth largest economy in the world – big enough to stand on our own two feet
  • David Owen, Dyson want out – both people I would listen to
  • The Eu are at least partially controlling our destiny at the moment, and they don’t have our best interests at heart (and why should they?)
  • We import more than we export, so the Eu will want to keep agreements going with us.
  •  The Eu, big though it is at the moment, isn’t growing.  The future is about trade with areas beyond the Eu – places like India, Brazil and China are where the growth is, and we want to be free to arrange any deal we like with these.
  • The Eu is currently negotiating a trade deal with India (9 years and counting) and isn’t even talking to China – we the British could do these quicker on our own – maybe??

 

So many  good points either way!

In the end I think most people will decide either on “Do we like the French or not?” or on “Do we prefer risk or security”, or “Am I naturally gregarious or naturally a bit of a loner?” – all of which are pretty scary ways to decide.

Another way to look at it is that if a decision is close then it probably doesn’t matter which way it goes.  And this seems to be one of those.  Maybe all the pros and cons, big though they are, add up to the same for both sides….?

Here’s an example of this:

On the ‘out’ side The Economist says Britain would also be able to claim back its territorial fishing waters, scrap caps on limits to the number of hours people can work per week, free itself from the EU’s renewable energy drive and create a freer economic market. This would turn London into a “freewheeling hub for emerging-market finance – a sort of Singapore on steroids”, it says.
But it concludes that the most likely outcome is that Britain would find itself “as a scratchy outsider with somewhat limited access to the single market, almost no influence and few friends. And one certainty: that having once departed, it would be all but impossible to get back in again.”

I also found a good summary of the arguments here:
http://uk.businessinsider.com/take-a-look-at-all-the-major-economic-arguments-for-and-against-britain-leaving-the-eu-hsbc-note-2015-5

Also a thorough and well considered article here:    https://woodfordfunds.com/economic-impact-brexit-report/

 

And what about me?

If the vote is to leave I’ll be anxious but excited
If the vote is to stay in I’ll just be depressed

so at the moment I’m edging towards Out – but don’t listen to me, make your own minds up!

 

Finally:  Things that are irrelevant:

– The fact that there are MEPs filling their pockets at the gravy train trough (allegedly!) should not affect our decision, annoying though it is. (though it does mean we can’t trust their opinions)
– What Boris says – I think he’s probably a political opportunist, so don’t waste time on what he says.

– What Cameron says:  because he is probably thinking about how he will look when he has his first meeting with Merkel and Co after the referendum:

  • If he has tried to get us out and we have indeed left – he will not be popular!
  • If he has tried to get us out and we have decided to stay in – he looks terrible
  • If he has tried to keep us in and we’ve left he will be ‘sorry’ but a hero who tried his best
  • If he tried to keep us in and we did stay in he will be a hero
    So it is obvious that he has to claim that he wants us in even though that is probably not what he believes (and it is not what he used to say!)

January 4, 2016

Revolution Club – live band

Filed under: Music — chriscroft @ 12:29 pm

Revolution Club are Dave Carson on guitar and Chris Croft on tenor sax, Mike Nicholls on drums, Dave Thomas (in-house producer and keyboards) with new addition from London, singer Penny Humphries.  When we are not performing live we work in our studio producing other artists, in styles ranging from Acid Jazz through to Dance and HipHop.

Penny – Vocals                   Dave – Guitar                    Chris – Sax                   Mike – Drums

Gigs: 

27 May – Badbury Rings Festival – 8pm

28 May – Jazz Boat from Poole Quay 4-6pm

11 June – Koh Thai (Poole Hill Bournemouth) afternoon

16 June – Koh Thai (Poole Hill Bournemouth) evening

17 June – Dolphin Centre 11am – 1pm

18 June – Bournemouth Beach Party 2 – 4pm

 

We have live sets of tracks in the following three styles.  Click on the pictures:

Acid Jazz

TallGreen   SpaceWalk  BackThen guitar

Dance / HipHop

SugarStar   YouLeftMeLikeThis   always  wiggle

Indie Rock

bloodRedSun    singing   island    sugarrave   fox

Contact chris@34ph.com

Other contributors are:

Arthur Rathbone-Pullen – bass

Jolyon Bradley – rap

 

Standing on the Summit: we are proud to have produced the theme music for the 2016 Bournemouth Jazz Festival

Festival:   bomojazz4    Full track:  summit

September 16, 2015

Constellations

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — chriscroft @ 2:53 pm

How about setting yourself the challenge of being able to identify ten constellations? That’s probably half of the sky covered.

But its worth noting that most of the constellations are out of view for some of the year – for example you can’t see Orion in the summer. Here’s a chart of what to look for at any given time of year (5 means highly visible, 3 is OK, 1 is down low and hard to find, blank is not there at all)

constellations

Enjoy!

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