Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Is that your best shot?

December 8, 2012
Ghost Estate

Creative Solutions?

Is that your best shot?

I’m not sure about you but I felt a huge sense of the inevitable about this years budget – it was a huge nothing, not in terms of what will be taken from the “easy suspects” , which is wrecking our domestic economy but it was a nothing in terms of the “solutions” , initiatives, incentives to try to revitalise and generate growth in areas that badly need it.

I was deliberately ignoring all the “headlines” on budget day but I did manage to accidentally tune into Michael Noonan being interviewed on the radio – he was declaring it a budget “for” SME’s and designed to help jobs and growth..

That was interesting – I eagerly started looking for some of the budget detail. I am a little confused as to what is in place to make it a budget for SME’s and for generating jobs and growth. Nothing!

Our government who admittedly have  a really tough job in a tough economic climate had a lot of time to work and prepare for this budget – considering the job creation issues and the huge challenge with sectors of our economy it was a huge nothing.

This budget was lazy and unimaginative, it did nothing to stimulate our economy and most significantly it did nothing to restore confidence or any spark that would encourage you to drive on and start “making things happen”.

What is sure is that the budget won’t beat us and we will drive on and create our own future … As I have said to our own team “F**k the budget“.

Is that your best shot?  Unfortunately, it probably was …..

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Looking after the triangle?

September 9, 2012

Skyscraper workers

He was a really great sales rep working for Guinness out of their Cork office. He had been in the job for a number of years, was very efficient, very intelligent, very successful and was quite popular with his customers.

He was a great asset to the company with his knowledge of the local area, which was a big deal to Guinness as it was very competitive with both Murphy Brewery and Beamish and Crawford located in the city. In his role he would have had a lot of liaison with the various brand teams in Guinness.

This was probably the most competitive patch for Guinness in all of the country. The sales structure in Guinness consisted of sales reps, there were nine regional managers, three divisional managers with an overall Commercial sales director.

As he was highly rated a lot of pressure was being put on him to look for a promotion and move up the corporate ladder. Any promotion would have probably meant a change of location. To most of the team this promotion opportunity, with more seniority, more perks and a bigger pay packet would have been a godsend – our guy had no interest, he was happy in Cork and loved what he was doing.

When this rep’s name came up in conversation in management circles there was always a sense of a “black mark” and a little cloud of disappointment against him because he wasn’t seen as being ambitious enough.

My Triangle Theory!

Triangle Theory

At the widest point of the triangle there are lots of workers. Some of these are ambitious and push themselves up the triangle into more senior jobs with more responsibility.

Above them are even more senior managers and the business owners – at the very top of the triangle there are a select few who earn the big money, are adept at corporate politics and can handle the responsibility and pressure at this level.

Often these guys and gals will have sold themselves for the job, made the big personal sacrifices, possibly relocating themselves and their families and made work their ultimate priority.

For the triangle to work best we need satisfied, happy people at each level – for those who want to push upwards there are opportunities and for those who are happy with their lot they can stay doing what they hopefully enjoy doing.

Isn’t it better having lots of happy sales reps than a bunch of unhappy sales managers?

Sometimes you have to let the Triangle look after itself …

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing & PR firm with offices in Cork and Dublin

The Sacred Cow – Raise Corporation Tax?

September 9, 2012
Sacred Cow - Irish Corporation Tax

Dare we ask the question?

I know this is a really unpopular thing to say – is it time to challenge the Sacred Cow and talk about raising the Corporation Tax rate in Ireland?

I think it is possible to do this and structure it in such a way that will still encourage companies to drive on in Ireland.

Before you think poor old Greg has totally lost his marbles hear me out ..

Why we need to look at this?

Let’s face it, people are bleeding and except for this government being prepared to grasp the nettle and take on some of those areas of excess (“real” sacred cows) that they have still left alone, they just can’t hit the regular Irish taxpayer any more – there is nothing left, nothing.

We need people to have some money in their pockets to keep the indigenous Irish economy going – inflicting more pain and extracting more cash from consumers will just do more damage than good. Aren’t we seeing this already?

Increasing the tax rate on companies who are making profits (let’s face it if you are losing money higher taxes won’t effect you) isn’t the worst thing in the world to do. At least they will be able to cope with it.

The Numbers

3.5 billion was collected last year from Corporation Tax at a rate of 12.5%. This was 10.2% of the overall tax take of 34.2 billion.

This 3.5 billion was the lowest collection of Corporation Tax since 1999 when about the same was collected when the CT rate was 28%.

The Challenge

This government must balance the books, they must collect more taxes, reduce expenditure, start generating jobs and begin to spark economic revival.

How can we do this if we scare the pants off prospective foreign investors by increasing the corporation tax rate?

We are led to believe with absolute certainty by those in “the know” that raising the CT rate is a no go area because it will start a mass exodus of these foreign investors.

Are we sure of that? Is this the main reason that is keeping them in Ireland? I’m not sure, but what do I know.

Taxes in Ireland

Big huh?

My Proposal

1. Raise Corporation Tax by 2.5% (hopefully for just a few years)

2. Introduce 100% immediate allowances for capital spend (this was done successfully in Australia)

3. Introduce tax incentives for companies who increase employee numbers.

4. Use 50% of the increase in CT tax as an investment fund for IT education (we are too far behind international standards and will have a serious problem in attracting these companies if we don’t sort out this supply pool of educated staff ) and an investment fund for indigenous Irish companies who need support at this stage to stay alive (only the ones that have a future)

While the CT tax rate would increase, for those companies that invest in capital and increase job numbers they could actually pay even less tax than now.

In a sweep we would collect more tax from those that can afford it, incentivise jobs and investment, invest in IT education and support indigenous Irish businesses. We might also have a bargaining chip in EU negotiations.

And..we would also be able to lay off the general public who are already bleeding way too much.

What do you think?

Ok, what the hell do I know? Maybe my assumptions are wrong, maybe they are too simplistic and maybe my figures are all wrong – maybe all of this is happening already and these incentives are in place?

At least lets have a discussion and flesh out this Sacred Cow before we cripple Joe Public even more without looking at the alternatives.

Is it time?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion (he was an accountant at one point in time!)

Fuzion are a Marketing and PR firm with offices in Dublin and Cork

Watching the mistake

July 17, 2012
Maitre d'

Very Fancy!

Guess who is selling his bar and buying a 5 star restaurant” Tommy, my Sales Manager said to me. I was the General Manager of Deasy & Co at the time, a subsidiary of Guinness.

Oh My God, you can’t be serious” I said to him “That will be a total disaster“. “I know, we all know ….it will never work

One of our loyal customers who was running a good solid suburban bar had done a decent job with the place and he was made an offer to sell up. The offer was “too good to be true” and our customer was going to make a clear profit from the deal.

His plan was to buy and run this very successful five star, fine dining restaurant whose reputation had been built around a well known chef. He reckoned he could manage the purchase with the windfall from the pub sale and even be in a position to upgrade the restaurant premises with some support from the bank.

The problem as we all saw it was that our guy wasn’t exactly Mr.Sophistication and in truth he was the last person that we could imagine operating this 5 star restaurant. He always did well in the pub but that was with a very different, country type crowd.

My buddy Tommy was really close to him – should he have a strong word with him and advise him against his dream?

Our customer was determined, full of enthusiasm so maybe we were the ones that were wrong – who were we to say anything? If Tommy said something to him it could backfire and damage the professional friendship they had.

Shortly after the restaurant opened under the new owner we went there for a meal to support him. Our worst fears were realised as we had a poor meal and you could see that our customer, who was a really nice guy just wasn’t able for this level of fine dining. Maybe he was on a learning curve and it would get better?

Unfortunately within a year the place was shut, the “fine dining” reputation in tatters, he had lost huge money and the building was handed back to the bank and our customer had lost everything.

The crazy thing was that we all saw it coming ….

Would you have said something ?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Driving your Reputation

July 17, 2012

Smoking_while_driving

Sitting in traffic in the middle of town on a Monday morning my attention was drawn to the dirty branded van that had just cut in front of us.

The driver of the van seemed to be hanging his arm out the window and I noticed it was because he was smoking.

Two minutes later the cigarette butt went flying onto the road followed closely by a spit …lovely!

If you decide to brand your company vehicles make sure you let the driver know that it’s your reputation he’s driving around the place.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing & PR Company with offices in Cork and Dublin

Dove è il bar? (Where’s the bar!)

June 28, 2012
Greg Canty blog - Where's the bar?

Are you tempted ?

8 am, driving to work in Cork and it is grey and miserable. The city has taken a right battering as we witnessed the thunder and lightning during the night as well as the torrential rain pounding against the windows of the house.

I turn on the news to hear that Blackpool, Douglas and Clonakilty have been badly flooded with the rivers unable to cope after a month of record rainfall and excess rain during the night. Newstalk radio have residents from Blackpool and my old buddy Peter Collins from Barry’s pub in Douglas on telling their flood stories.

Next up there is some depressing “crap” about EU bailouts .. too much!

I drop Deirdre off at the office and head to the Airport Hotel to give a social media business session to a new client.

Time to switch over to the iPod and lets see what Mr Shuffle brings ..

First it brings me the gorgeous “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver – I pass a couple kissing goodbye as he drops her off to work. That’s nice.

Next it brings me the incredible voice of Tina Dico singing “Warm Sand“, what a great song …we couldn’t be further away from warm sand I’m thinking!

Just as I pull into the hotel an Italian lesson I had uploaded on the iPod before a holiday many moons ago comes on, repeat after me the voice says “Dove  è il bar?” … where is the bar?

Not a bad idea !!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

1780 Cork Silver and things much more valuable!

June 17, 2012
Cork Silver

1780 Cork Silver

We’ve never ever been to an auction but for some reason, wandering around Cork City on a miserable Saturday in June (yep …rain, rain, rain!) we spotted a sign outside Woodwards Auctioneers on Cook Street.

They were showing a preview of items that would be on auction the following  week so for some reason we decided that we would have a little snoop around to see what all of this “auction” stuff was about.

The items on display were apparently from a few estates and there was a huge mix of furniture, ornaments, paintings and other assorted bits and pieces. There was even a pair of children’s shoes that were made by a prisoner in 1916!

After a few minutes in the display hall I heard my name being called and I spotted Pascal McNamara who is the Antique Auction Manager. Up until now I had only ever bumped into Pascal on the street and we always have fascinating chats about all sorts. It always struck me how much he loves Cork and the incredible knowledge he has about our city.

Pascal McNamara

Pascal McNamara

Pascal was standing behind an impressive display of silver, which was part of the following weeks auction. A minute later we found ourselves totally mesmerised by Pascal, listening to stories about the history of Cork silver as he showed us some items from the display.

He showed us his favourite piece, a large Cork George III silver sauceboat by John Warner circa 1780. To be honest I had no real interest in silver or anything like this but this piece came to life for me after listening to Pascal telling us passionately about the history of Cork silver. He spoke of the pride we should have in the Cork craftspeople who carefully manufactured these beautiful pieces.

Pascal told us the incredible story of what he called the “Golden Age of Cork Silver” which can be found in his Antiques, Art & Interiors blog, where he talks passionately about his work.

We stole a little bit too much of his time but decided we would come back for the auction. We left the display hall to get on with our Saturday with a little spring in our step, a little extra pride in our city and its history and an interest in antiques!

I reflected on the precious 1780 Cork Silver that would be going on auction but also on the even more valuable Pascal McNamara who’s passion for what he does brought the silver to life and left both of us totally mesmerised.

In all of our businesses the most valuable thing we will ever have is people who are passionate about what they do.

Pascal …thank you for sharing your passion.

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion

Fidel & 5 Bars!

May 30, 2012
Cuba

Havana – Cuba

To my surprise when I fired up my mobile phone after landing in Havana airport in Cuba it registered 5 bars of reception!

Wow.. after hearing about how backward the country was and in particular, that things like communications systems were at a very basic level I was pleasantly surprised to see my mobile phone registering a network. A few texts that had been sent while on the 10 hour flight started coming through.

I tested the service by sending a text message and I received an instant response! - Maybe Cuba, isn’t the backward country that we had heard it was after all?

The truth is the country is very backward , dilapidated and the seemingly happy natives are denied choice as part of the Castro communist regime.

In the next few days we see the locals queuing for their ration allowance of basic food stuffs, we constantly get harassed by men and women trying to sell black market cigars and looking for you to buy basic products such baby milk.

We see the locals packed into big classic American cars from the fifties and old Ladas, motoring on main roads with huge pot holes and carefully navigating the city centre roads and lane ways which are predominantly pot holes!

We see gorgeous buildings in the capital in ruins with no inhabitants and even the old Presidents palace, which is now the Revolution museum is in a very poor state despite being a major tourist attraction.

Along the streets of Havana you will see well appointed hotels, bars and restaurants as well as very basic offerings. Shopping is a total non event with city centre stores showcasing their wares with the most basic of window displays , which is no surprise as they have the bare minimum to sell.

Along the busy narrow streets you will see lots of people just hanging around, people living inside narrow doorways, sitting on doorsteps. The most unusual sight was huge queues of locals waiting for their turn to get a few minutes in one of the internet cafes to briefly connect to the outside world.

Credit cards work practically nowhere except for the very best of hotels – as the shopping is a non event this doesn’t matter too much but the restaurants and bars just take cash. By the way your regular ATM card won’t work in the bank machines.

Music is a big part of life here with musicians at every corner and even when you sit down at an empty bar, out of nowhere musicians will appear (and quickly disappear once you have bought a CD or tipped them!).

In Havana there even is an Irish influence with O’Reilly Street and yes there is a popular O’Reilly bar selling Mojitos but no Guinness! Even early in the afternoon a band appeared and a caricaturist.

After a few days we headed out of the city to a resort near a town called Varadero , heading past a few small villages on the way. You could see the poor condition of the homes and the other buildings and the very simple life that exists in the country.

I kept looking at my mobile phone on the journey into the country and was amazed to see that reception never dropped to less than 4 bars. Unfortunately I learnt from my son by text that Liverpool FC had fired the legendary manager Kenny Dalglish.

I am writing this blog post from the hotel room and my phone is registering 4 bars reception. Not once since I have been in Cuba has reception dropped, has a call dropped or a message not got through.

As well as sharing a little tale about a fascinating country I am leading to a question about the lousy phone coverage in Ireland. I was chatting to a really nice couple from Dublin and the subject of phone coverage came up – the couple live in Templeogue, a typical busy suburb and Tony was telling me that at best he gets 2 bars of coverage at his house and calls frequently drop.

How is it that in our “sophisticated” economy the phone coverage is so lousy? On the motorway from Dublin to Cork and on the other main routes there are regular black spots where coverage totally drops … I have swapped from O2 to Vodafone out of total frustration expecting that coverage issues would resolve but in truth one is pretty much as bad as the other.

If Fidel can do it surely we can – 5 bars please!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Searching for the Authentic

May 26, 2012

Havana in CubaWe landed in Havana in Cuba and wanted to explore the nightlife, the real Havana … Not the typical “tourist ” offering but something genuine and authentic that the locals would enjoy …. Isn’t that what we are all looking for?

We see the tour guides in their branded polo shirts with their clip boards and we reject them, knowing you are just getting the “tourist” serving, the typical places who are all probably taking you to the spots that are expensive opposed to the genuine , authentic places. What’s more in some places you know they will probably get a few quid for bringing a group there.

So … Off we walk, avoiding the taxis , heading down a road to the “old town”.

In no time at all a friendly couple start chatting to us, asking about where we are from and generously telling us about their lives …. They seem to know we want the “genuine” experience and guide us to a little bar where and old musician is behind a keyboard, who was from the original Beuna Vista Social Club!

Before we can scratch we’ve bought two rounds of drinks , which for some reason ended up being more expensive than the five star hotel, we’ve bought a CD by this old codger and we’ve bought cigars (don’t smoke, never will!) ….. Hmmmm, a genuine “authentic” Cuban experience.

The following morning (after being conned again in the street by a young woman who didn’t want money for herself but wanted some help for her baby … All of this happened in just 10 minutes while we were simply trying to buy a bottle of water…long story !) we opt for a tour from the hotel with a tour guide, which was really great.

He did give us good tips about being conned by people on the street!

The big problem with searching for the “authentic” is that it is often so hard to find. Delivering it and packaging it properly in a way that people will recognise is that little bit of illusive magic that will keep us from being conned and deliver the best possible experience.

I must head out now to find an authentic Cuban restaurant, it’s probably out there but we’ll never find it!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Celebrate those individuals making it happen for themselves

May 14, 2012
Beata

Making it Happen

On our usual Sunday walk with the four legged one (Bing for those who haven’t seen previous posts!) a little poster caught my eye on the pole of a housing estate we walk through on the way to the park.

It was placed on a pole where you might expect a picture of a missing dog but when I peeped a little closer it was an advert for someone advertising their house cleaning services.

The poster was typed up with a simple cartoon graphic of a cleaning lady and housed inside a sheet of plastic to protect it from the elements and it had the contact phone number repeated on little vertical strips for those who wanted to tear them off to make an enquiry later.

I’m sure this simple poster with a clear message “A completely clean home – my cleaning services are thorough, consistent and customised. If you want to change your cleaning routine, Call me” will bring Beata the customers she is looking for.

I started thinking about Beata on the rest of my walk whoever she is.. I pictured her deciding to start her cleaning business to earn money, drafting up her posters, printing them, cutting the phone number strips, housing them in plastic covers and then walking around finding poles in the housing estates she was targeting. She had her mini campaign for her house cleaning service well thought out and there was a real honesty to how it was delivered.

Often we celebrate the big companies with the big job numbers and the vital role they are playing in our economy but we should also celebrate those out there who are digging deep, making things happen for themselves instead of sitting back and waiting on someone else or the state to look after them.

Beata and all the other startups , I Salute you!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion


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