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a blog by Chris Barrow

A speaking tour begins

After a full call-in day with telephone client calls (from the car) I arrived in Reading last night and at the glamorous Renaissance Reading Hotel – I’m joking, of course. One of those places that was probably quite funky when it was opened in the 70’s but Reading has moved south since then, as evidenced by the technology parks, out of town malls and sports stadia I pass on the way in from the M4. In fact, Reading (south) has become an IT centre in the UK – not quite Silicon Valley but on it’s way there – a multitude of sparkling glass offices. Not so the town centre, clearly suffering since the Oracle shopping mall opened. So here is the Renaissance, struggling to compete and without any budget for refurbishment or modernisation. No car park and located on a busy main street showing off the goods of second rate shops. I pull up outside at 5.00pm to see two drunks fighting in the street and bouncers on the hotel door – and that was even before darkness had fallen. My “deluxe” room is a joke and they haven’t heard about Wifi yet. Needless to say, I didn’t choose the venue as I’m guesting for Stockport Dental Seminars and Dental Directory over the next 3 weeks, with 8 “gigs” around the country on “Building an award winning team”. All my thoughts about “environment” will do me no good here. Last night’s “conference room” was a trip down memory lane – to see what seminar rooms looked like in the 70’s.

So there I am, with my laptop, projector, speakers and a group of 30 delegates from about a dozen dental practices crammed into a very small space theatre-style. Interestingly, for a presentation on team building, only two of the practices brought any team members – one former client, Richard Charon, brought his whole team to get Barrowed up and another came along with his practice manager. The rest were principals or associates. Why not bring the team? That confuses me. But I made some new friends, new ezine subscribers and at least two interested in our mini-retreat in November – so that’s a good evening’s work. Overnight, I am woken by the booming of severe thunderstorms but manage to sleep again until 7.30am. Because I’m speaking in the evenings, I am adjusting my body clock to sleep later – and my personal hygiene! No shave now until 5.00pm – so I look rather shabby here in my t-shirt, jeans, trainers and stubble. The man in black will be back later. I’ve just written the ezine for this week and will soon clear my emails and get the hell out of Reading. The view from my room is almost as endearing as Glasgow:

Outside, the rain continues to pour out of a blackened sky. The lightning has started to flash again – I’ll bet the M25 is gridlocked when I get there. Next stop Gatwick – oh dear. I know we have about 70 delegates tonight so that should get me going – but I think the hotel might be a challenge….

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