THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Morons, Laura and Lettuce

The workshop in Reading was fun – including a never before seen competition to try and choose a humorous brand name for a gynecologists business – I dare not tell you the winning entry and you are probably thinking what on earth that has to do with dentistry – the answer is “nothing” – we were just having some fun. In the mid-morning session I probably felt as tired as at any time in my 25 years of public speaking (old age!) but somehow the energy came back in the afternoon and I must thank the delegates for providing that. After a 2 hour drive to Cardiff, the last thing I needed was to discover two complete morons working behind the check-in desk at the Cardiff Moat House Hotel. One was trying to teach the other the intricacies of their outdated computer systems whilst hotel guests backed up and waited with increasing frustration. Neither of them displayed the slightest interest or enthusiasm in helping the customers who pay their wages – frankly they were a couple of young kids who knew nothing about customer service – having said that, I’m not surprised because the hotel itself is awful. So bad, in fact, that Barbara, Steph (visiting for the last workshop day) and myself drove into Cardiff last night at 9.30pm (even though we were tired) to avoid the hotel dining. Enter Laura, the Sicilian waitress at Zizzi’s pizza and pasta restaurant. 1. Zizzi’s is a franchise – I’ve eaten there before in other cities and I know the food and drink are very good; 2. Laura is a one-woman cabaret, styled as a dark-haired Bette Midler and enjoying her job so much it was infectious. She chatted to us, even sang to us, introduced us to Giuseppe, her boyfriend from Rome who worked behind the bar and Barbara the Polish MBA student who is working in Wales for the summer to improve her language skills – Laura personally made sure we had the time of our lives. Needless to say, we wished we were delivering the workshop at Zizzi’s today and not in the Moat House. Will I ever stop being amazed that you can invest thousands of dollars and pounds into buildings, equipment and branding and yet ultimately the success of your venture can depend on the difference between untrained idiots and well trained natural enthusiasts. Finally – a couple of smile moments in the day: 1. Wales is a fiercely independent nation with signage in both English and the Welsh language – but why do the “tourist information” signs have to be repeated in Welsh? Think about it; 2. And the last thought is of my mother – 76-year old Norma Barrow – whom I called to say “hi” last night – the conversation went like this…… CB: “Hi – its me” NB: “Oh – hello darling – I’m just eating my dinner.” CB: “No problem – I can call back.” NB: “I’m just eating my first ever Caesar salad – its lovely.” CB: “Great – well I’ll call back in maybe 10 minutes then.” NB: “OK – but can I ask you a favour – will you make that 15 minutes, because there is rather a lot of lettuce.”

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