Yesterday was great fun – the morning with a young couple who want to start their own new dental practice in February. They are full of ideas, enthusiasm and talent – a real pleasure to share in and recall those heady, romantic days when we launch a new venture. I look forward to working with them in 2006 and adding a guiding influence. I took lunch alone in a very nice hotel by Manchester Airport and just enjoyed the rest and a chance to catch up on emails and indulge in a little people watching. A corporate conference was taking place and the lobby packed with bright young things taking a break from their proceedings. A host of blue suits, white shirts and red ties, smoking vociferously and chatting into their mobile phones. It was a reminder of my corporate UK days (the 80’s), when I dressed and behaved in much the same way, although we didn’t have portable phones in those days and used to fight for access to a pay phone – neither, for that matter, did we have email. How on earth did anything get done? I would drive into my Manchester city centre office at 7.00am and spend 2 hours talking into a dictation machine before leaving for a day in the car, visiting my accounts as a sales rep. Then usually back in the office about 4.00pm to spend a good hour on the phone before clearing the decks for the next day. With an hour’s commute each way, the days were long but exciting – I was a performer, winning every sales competition going and loving the applause of the crowd. Looking back, there wasn’t so much technology but I was always very effective and efficient – in fact, a version of the Franklin Covey time management system accompanied me everywhere then and still does nowadays – I’ve been in and out of electronic “to do” lists in the intervening 20 years and ended up back with a paper-based system. Yesterday afternoon and evening I enjoyed an excellent business meeting and meal with arguably my biggest Strategic Alliance partner for The Dental Business School. We agreed joint-marketing ventures through to May 2007 and I already know that this will maintain my visibility in the profession. To top that off with a relaxed meal in an excellent Italian restaurant – perfect. Today, I’m sat at a desk just clearing emails, post and phone calls – wearing an old pair of walking pants and a fleece – I look a bit of a mess but that’s one of the pleasures of self-employment. Last night, I was discussing with my S/A partner his thoughts about retirement, having reached his 60th this year. “Not a chance – I’m enjoying myself too much. I’ll just focus on increasing my current 14 weeks of annual vacation by a little more each year but wouldn’t think of stopping unless and until I stopped having fun.” So I begin the day with a start-up couple enthusing about their future – and end it with a 60-year old enthusing about his future. My blog entries will be intermittent over the days head. Have a good rest.