Dementia Action Week: A Cause Very Close to my Heart

This week is Dementia Action week.

Did you know that there are over 850,000 people currently living with Dementia in the UK?   Are you aware that Dementia is the UK’s biggest killer?  Do you know that Dementia is not just a disease of the elderly? 

scared old person

In many parts of the world, medical professionals believe that Dementia is a natural part of aging – it isn’t, it’s a disease, and the number with the disease is growing.

Until around 5 years ago it is fair to say that I had been largely unaffected by Dementia. My Nana (paternal) and Gran (maternal), although both in care homes, did show signs of ‘senility’.  My Gran was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia and suffered from a number of strokes.  My Nana and both my Grandpas died of cancer.

My mum’s diagnosis with Vascular Dementia in April 2016 changed everything.  It is without doubt the most traumatic event of my 47 (nearly 48) years on this earth.  I suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of it and there is no doubt that it ripped a gigantic hole in our family.  If you are like me and firmly in ‘middle age’ there is a strong likelihood that you will experience someone close to you having the disease.  I hope you don’t but if you do there is one guarantee, nothing will prepare you for the journey ahead.

In October 2018 I raised nearly £2,000 for Alzheimer’s Society on a Memory Walk. To be honest I felt a bit of a fraud.  Inclement weather meant that the course was shortened and I finished first (I know it wasn’t a race!) about an hour later.  Not bad for an hours work!

When I lost my mum on February 14th (!) 2019, I made a pledge to raise as much money for Dementia research as possible.  They will find a cure for Dementia in my lifetime (hopefully!) but, like many charitable causes, their efforts have been severely hampered by COVID and the fact that Dementia research continues to be underfunded in comparison to other life-threatening diseases.

This years’ fundraising has been put on hold – we are actually doing a Yorkshire Dales Hike in July to raise money for Macmillan as a Red Tiger Coaching team event:

Next year it looks to be a mega year to raise funds for Dementia Research.  I have personally committed to the following activities:

  • Kilimanjaro Trek – we are now going to climb Kili in September 2022 – we still have a few places left (individuals can trek for their own particular charity).  Get in touch if you want to potentially join us.
  • Book Launch – This is all under wraps at the moment but I am currently in the process of writing my first book!  This will be launched to coincide with the Trek.  The topic is still to be revealed but it’s safe to say that all proceeds for the book will be going to a Dementia Charity.

Every cloud has a silver lining – the tragic cases of the professional footballers like Jack Charlton, Jeff Astle, Bobby Charlton and Nobby Stiles, along with celebrities such as Robin Williams and Barbara Windsor, has served to increase the amount of coverage about the disease.

I remain positive that through our collective efforts they will find a cure for Dementia and live in hope that in the next 20 years we will have greatly developed our understanding of Dementia and treatments for those who will suffer from this disease.

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‘Gizza job’ and fresh hope on the horizon

Recent news does not make great reading as the ONS reports that there have been 819,000 job losses in the UK since the start of the pandemic. You can read the article, ‘Hospitality worst affected as unemployment rises again‘ here. It is now a case of when, not if, this number exceeds one million as we head into the critical trading period for most consumer businesses, with significant swathes of the country in tier 3 lockdown. The sectors most significantly hit by unemployment are hospitality and retail, which ultimately supports many of Red Tiger Talent’s clients.

Some of you may not know about this blog’s title ‘Gizza job’ which references a phrase commonly used in 1980’s Liverpool based series Boys from the Blackstuff, a desperate plea from those on the dole. Whilst the current economic downturn is certainly showing a two year high in unemployment rate (at around 5%) it is nowhere near that seen in the early 1980s (when in 1982 it peaked at 13%). 

This current unemployment is disproportionately hitting the working class and younger workers.  Red Tiger Talent contributed in a very small way by taking a decision against a backdrop of zero recruitment revenue, to add a new member to our team with our apprentice Meg in September. We also work with a freelancer to help with marketing strategy and campaigns, an area of business that we could have put on hold to save money. We could see that in order to get through this we needed to invest and to free up some of our time for what we do best.

Take Me Out

It is fair to say that Red Tiger Talent’s recruitment income dropped off a cliff for the last six months as a direct result of the pandemic.  In February 2020, nearly halfway through our financial year, Paul and I reset a stretch target that would have resulted in our best year yet by a country mile.  This was after four years of hard work to firmly establish ourselves as the trusted recruitment partner for clients and candidates in the UK analytics market. Needless to say, we didn’t get anywhere near our original target.

I often refer to our experience in March 2020 as a bit like going on the dating show Take Me Out.  Red Tiger Talent had many lights illuminated (not potential dates, but active roles) and then in an instant they were all switched off as our clients rightly put their recruitment plans on hold. In my mind this included the comedy noise as one by one every opportunity disappeared.

This quieter period was a bit of a godsend, Paul and I could drop down the pace of life a bit, supporting our families through the pandemic, and work-wise we were able to divert time to improving our database, and develop new propositions, notably Training and Coaching; more on that later.

Recruitment freezes are finally thawing

Since November 2020, Red Tiger Talent (recruitment) has never been busier.  We have been inundated with live roles and the pipeline into 2021 looks very healthy.  After a period of inactivity we have a number of new people starting roles in the first quarter of 2021. 

I think the phrase to describe the general sentiment of businesses is ‘cautiously optimistic’ – those of our clients that have had recruitment freezes are now able to recruit for specific roles where there is need.  Businesses are also very conscious of the impact increased workload has on existing teams who are typically having to work remotely.

Being an analytics professional gives me extra cause for optimism – never before have we had such a perfect storm of significant structural changes in the way people shop/eat/play/work in a business world where most are looking to data and analytics to provide the insight needed to emerge on the other side.

We mustn’t underestimate the news of a vaccine rollout has positively impacted on business and consumer sentiment.  This has given renewed optimism that the end of the current restrictions will happen sometime in 2021. 

We are also finding that candidates are more optimistic.  Early in the pandemic, a number of potential candidates had an understandable reluctance to move roles due to the uncertainty in the market.  We are now seeing a number of candidates re-ignite their quest for a fresh challenge as they don’t want to allow this pandemic to stall their career progression any further.

Training to expand your skills

We identified a need for training in Microsoft Excel; this incredible versatile piece of software is used across many departments, but few people have had formal training on the extent of its capabilities. We have now trained over 200 people on Excel for Analytics, from absolute beginners to experts, and every participant has learnt something new.

The feedback speaks for itself and we will be rolling out our 2021 training schedule early next year.

Coaching to stand out from the crowd

To use a sporting analogy, consider you are a runner and your objective is purely to win the race.  If you are the only competitor in the race then you may not require any help in ensuring that you meet your objective of winning. The only chance of you not meeting your objective is if you failed to complete the race.

If you are in a competitive field of 10 runners then surely you would try everything in your power to ensure that you win the race?  Fail to prepare and prepare to fail. The most successful professional athletes have specific coaches for different areas that can impact performance e.g. fitness coach, conditioning coach, mental coach, sprint coach etc.

This is the reason why we created Red Tiger Coaching. Our proven coaching ethos is to support people on their career pathway with timely, cost effective support to ensure they stand out from the crowd at the various stages of the job search process.  If you are interested in finding out more please get in touch.

Steps towards a brighter future

Hopefully this blog has provided you with optimism from both a candidate and hiring managers perspective.

If you are one of the unfortunate people who have been or are likely to be impacted by redundancy then we can offer the following tips:

  1. Don’t panic and take time to reflect – think about your previous career successes and what motivates you.   Defining roles that are likely to trigger these motivations can be beneficial; in the application or interview stage it will be easier to sell yourself, and when you are successful you will find yourself motivated in your role.
  2. Plan and set yourself targets before you execute on your search – it is important that you divide up your daily tasks in order to keep things fresh.  Whilst the end goal is to get a new job, set yourself small weekly/daily/monthly targets along the way e.g. job applications per week, new connections on LinkedIn, identification of new businesses that you would like to work for, refresh your CV.  These ‘marginal’ gains will make a difference in the long run.
  3. Stand out from the crowd – this is a wide topic and worthy of multiple blogs but its everything from the application process (application form, CV, cover letter), the interview process, to unlocking the ‘hidden’ job market (i.e. circumventing those roles that have large amounts of applicants).
  4. Consider using a coach – ‘You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime’ (sorry Eminem!).  Our coaches make a tangible difference and our solutions range from a couple of hours help to a three month transition engagement – speak to us if you are interested in finding out more.

If you or your business are recruiting:

  1. Be prepared to be inundated – with many people chasing relatively few roles you will tend to get a wide diversity and large volume of people applying. Whether they are the right candidates remains to be seen.  Some candidates, in full on panic mode, are adopting the mud-slinging approach – if you throw enough at the wall then something will inevitably stick.  You will receive applications where you really have to question whether the applicant actually read the job specification!
  2. Don’t underestimate the time required – Reviewing CVs can be time consuming, and soul destroying if you have a large pile to review!  Similarly, sitting through a number of interviews which are short of the mark is extremely frustrating.  Think about your filtering process in order to ensure that it’s only a handful of quality candidates that make it to a face to face (or video call in the new world!) stage.
  3. Consider using a specialist agency – Recruiters, like Red Tiger Talent, will help by reducing your workload and providing a selection of vetted, qualified candidates that go straight to interview (blatant plug!).

We’ve written loads of other blogs about many of the subjects discussed here so take a look around for tips on interview techniques and interviewing, updating your LinkedIn profile and How to stand out from the crowd, to name just a few.

We hope that our predictions are correct and that the employment market will continue to improve. And we also hope that you are all ready and raring to embrace that change, whether you are a business or an employee.

We’d love to hear from you even just for a chat to hear how things are going for you. If you would like to talk to us about anything you’ve read here, please give me a call on 07979 756 257 or email for a no obligation chat about your options and how we might be able to help you.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to work we go!

Which dwarf has to stay at home with the rule of six? Happily since Snow White and her seven dwarves are in the same family bubble, they should be OK. 

The summer holidays are now a distant memory, the kids have gone back to school and the fortunate people with jobs to go back to have been relishing the opportunity to get properly stuck in to work with minimal outside distractions.  This blog reflects on our collective ‘return to work’ after the summer recess and questions whether it will ever revert back to pre-covid patterns of working. 

I personally saw the start of September as a key date to sharpen my focus, both in my work and personal life, after what seems like five months or so of ‘taking each day as it comes’.  In my work life I was operating at around 70% productivity in the preceding five months to September, with home schooling being added to the mix amongst other distractions.  Most of my business contacts with young children have relished the re-opening of schools so that they at least have some kid free time to be more efficient in their work life. September is when I consciously return the productivity dial back to pre-covid levels and enter the Autumn with a renewed vigour and spring (!) in my step. 

The late August/early September news (pre last week’s announcement of tightening of restrictions) was dominated by the Government’s call to arms around getting back into our places of work, if safe to do so, and supporting businesses, particularly those that have been so reliant on worker trade.  UK GDP fell by a record breaking 20.4% in Q2 (April to June 2020). In comparison, throughout the 2008 recession, GDP declined by no more than 2.1% in a single quarter.  GDP in July 2020 grew by 6.6%, which is the third consecutive monthly increase, but this has covered off just over half of the lost output as a result of coronavirus.  This is coupled with the recent news that 695,000 fewer people were on payroll in August 2020 compared to March 2020.  This is only going to increase as the furlough scheme winds down and companies look to remove costs in order to remain viable. 

Whilst it’s hard to ignore the ongoing covid doom and gloom, there do appear to be some green shoots of recovery.  Scouring the job boards shows that there are still a reasonable amount of roles out there – the challenge is that there will be many more candidates chasing down fewer roles.  We are helping candidates ensure that they stand out in that crowd.   I have just had an email from two of my clients who are looking to recruit into their team and need our help, which is the greatest number of new assignments we have had in a long while. 

This blog outlines four of my predictions in relation to changes at our work:

Working from home

Working 9 to 5 

Speaking to a variety of clients and candidates on a daily basis provides me with a great cross-sectional sample of how individuals (and businesses) are dealing with the pandemic.  Individuals are generally a little sick of constantly being on Zoom/Teams and having to stare at the same four walls of their office/bedroom/kitchen/lounge.  Quite a few people I speak to are now trying to break their lockdown routine by having a change of scenery once or twice a week.  Most are itching to engage face-to-face with their colleagues in some capacity.  There are a lot of benefits to home working but two downsides of it are the varying practicality of individuals being able to work from home and issues of isolation.  I recall one candidate I spoke to admitting that they just didn’t have the discipline to work from home. 

A lot of individuals are using the time to think about how work life will change post covid and if they have been used to a five day in the office pre-covid they are challenging the notion that they need to be in the office five days a week moving forward.  Many have proven that they can do a more than adequate job working from home.  I’d be interested to hear of any scientific studies that accurately quantify work productivity at home – anecdotal accounts suggest that home workers tend to start work earlier (as they don’t have the commute time to take into account) and are often working later as they are not subjected to that familiar signal at head office home time when co-workers start to leave.  True, there are distractions at home (deliveries, laundry, cleaning) but there are also may non-productive distractions in an office environment. 

Prediction 1: Finding balance

The days of the typical daily grind into an office are firmly over and will never fully return to previous patterns of commute. It is all about balance and I believe that many will settle on 2-3 days in the office and the rest of the time will be spent working from home (clearly this will depend on role/grade/location).  As long as this change doesn’t materially affect their ability to do their job.  This could also change the dynamic on where people live, relative to where they work; more on that in a future blog. 

Businesses, in the main, are being exceptionally flexible and supportive of their remote teams in coping with the pandemic.  There are some businesses that have closed their offices permanently and have no intention of getting a new office for the foreseeable future.  Most businesses are slowly opening up their offices, albeit with significant reductions in occupancy levels to ensure they remain covid-compliant.  These companies are often taking an individual level approach as everyone has a different perception of risk to the current pandemic.   This approach is contrasted by other businesses who are expecting colleagues to come in.  This is a scheduling/management challenge to have different groups of colleagues arriving on different days and starting/leaving at different times which has the potential to erode the face-to-face benefits of being in an office with colleagues. 

Prediction 2: More flexibility

Businesses in general need to improve their flexibility about how, when and where their teams work. If they fail to show flexibility to the new worker demands then they risk losing talent once the employment market recovers. 

I won’t be home for Christmas 

Prediction 3: Christmas sales suffer

Apologies for switching back to full on doom and gloom mode but the way things are going in the UK I think Xmas will effectively be ‘cancelled’.   Christmas is obviously a time for most families to come together but this year it will be very different.  Families will not be coming together in the way that they have traditionally.  I anticipate sales to be supressed at the grocers this Xmas (it will be interesting to see what the tone of their Xmas adverts will be this year) as the traditional seasonal uplift in spend from home family catering will be subdued.  The upside is there is likely to be less food waste! Average spend per household is likely to be down as people tighten their belts in anticipation of continued financial and economic uncertainty. I also anticipate the cost of domestic short-term holiday lets to sky rocket as more people will want to celebrate Christmas within their family bubble in a different setting. 

The Emperor’s New Clothes 

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about the impact these work changes have had on work attire.  Over the last 5-10 years I have seen a general ‘softening’ of work attire from very formal to smart business casual.  I can’t recall the last time I wore a suit and tie – it was probably for a wedding or a funeral.  This increased working from home has created an entirely new set of work/home combinations.  I have been relatively casual when working from home (particularly in the hot weather), opting for comfort over style.  When I know I have video calls, depending on who with, I will tend to change into smarter attire.  Workers attire has moved from smart formalwear to smart casual workwear (pre-covid), to a wardrobe of casual day wear that they supplement with an occasional smart casual outfit that comes out at video conference call times during the working day.   I am yet to meet someone who has conducted a Zoom call with a full suit, shirt and tie on.  Let’s face it, it’s much easier to quickly change when you only have to modify what you wear from the waist up. 

We have seen the demise of TM Lewin as a result of covid-19 and the other formal wear specialists will certainly be assessing their existing portfolios and product ranging in order to survive.  This will  also have an impact on dry cleaners, as their volumes will reduce across the board as people tend to wear apparel that can be washed at home. 

Prediction 4: Christmas best sellers

Christmas best sellers, particularly catering for middle aged professional males (such as myself), will be a nice selection of casual shirts and polo shirts (with colour coordinated face masks).

Time will tell how we all adapt and how much our lives change to make way for new and hopefully better working practises. 

I’d love to hear what you think the impact of covid will be on our future working patterns. Have you already begun to reassess how you want to work next year?  

Please let us know in the comments below and if you need some advice on how you can stand out from the crowd, get in touch on 07979 756257 or email 

Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

Algorithms Evolve – How human error, not Artificial Intelligence failed our A Level students

In a previous blog I waxed lyrical about how one benefit of COVID-19 has been the very clear use of data (not always the right data) and analytics/modelling to help drive decision making (not always the right decision!). Then the dominating UK news this week has been the right royal mess up over the A level results and the use of the ‘Algorithm’ to change some people’s final gradings, resulting in around 40% of results coming out lower than predicted. 

Exam results time is always stressful and there will always be winners, losers, and surprises in between.  The marking of most subjects is certainly going to be more art than science and in a ‘normal’ year there will always be a challenge around consistency of marking.  Allowing each student’s teacher to grade them is intrinsically going to impart bias that wouldn’t be there if it was handled by an external examiner.   This latest fiasco, with a last minute change in methodology, will mean that there is even more stress and uncertainly as a result.  There are students who have initially missed out on places who may now retrospectively get the grades they need and the place has been offered to someone else.   I personally think that the Universities with oversubscribed courses should scrap any offers to date and start the process all over again if it’s not too late to do so. 

Algorithms are becoming increasingly pervasive in our lives, and many people are not aware of their uses.  From insurance quotes based on home postcodes, to selective advertising on social media – our clicks, likes and location are being used by a number of Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms to, in theory, serve us appropriate content.  It doesn’t always work – the number of times I am promoted hair care products is testimony to that!  There are plenty of examples where there are good applications of AI, from insurance costs based on how you drive through data collected via a black box, to uses in healthcare where speedier diagnosis and access to the most appropriate treatment can vastly improve outcomes.   The algorithms are only as good as the data they utilise in order to develop their ‘intelligence’ and in a lot of cases require use of inferences that are wide of the mark.  Timandra Harkness (@TimandraHarkness) summed it all up quite nicely: “the data used by an algorithm to make a decision about you is largely about other people, rather than you personally”. 

I stumbled upon an excellent piece in the Guardian by Dan Davies who succinctly summarised the A level issue by saying: “The problem was fundamentally insoluble, from a mathematical point of view. If the system is dependent on exams to allocate the grades, but it can’t have the exams, then it can’t allocate the grades. No statistical method in the world is going to be able to give you good results if the information you’re looking for is fundamentally not there in the dataset that you’re trying to extract it from.”  It’s worth looking into his article in more detail: 

Read: This year’s A-level results are a fiasco – but the system was already broken by Dan Davies

Ofqual’s Research and Analysis Findings

Ofqual, the Examinations watchdog have published their findings on their whole approach (be warned, it is a 318-page extravaganza).

I’d love to hear from anyone who has read the report from cover to cover!  

Ofqual have to be held accountable for this and I’m sure Gavin Williamson will be getting some tips from Dominic Cummings on self-preservation. 

Download Awarding GCSE, AS, Alevel, advanced extension awards and extended project qualifications in summer 2020: interim report.

Life is a Roller Coaster 

It’s been a roller coaster in our household, with my step-son being one of the Covid-affected students who did not manage to sit his A level finals this year.  At the start of it all, when he realised he wouldn’t be sitting exams and they announced his grades would largely be based on his mocks, he was all for re-doing the whole year again.  Like many students he didn’t apply himself in the run up to his mocks and was aiming to knuckle down and achieve at least one grade above his predicted grades in his finals.  I advised him that as long as he got to a decent University, studying a good course, his A levels wouldn’t really matter in the long run.   Granted, employers still look at A level subjects and grades to get an insight into the person (e.g. are they Arts/Maths/Science focused) but grades and subjects aren’t necessarily a guarantee of success in a role – strong marks merely indicate that the candidate is good at study and retaining information for test in exam conditions. 

Fast forward to last week’s results day and my step-son was much more philosophical – he was a little disappointed with his final grades but happy in the knowledge that he had been accepted into his first choice University on his first-choice course.    I was also happy as he had achieved his aim whilst coming in below what I’d budgeted for when I offered him a financial, grades based, incentive to encourage him to put the effort in. 

These are some of my tips for the weeks ahead: 

  • Don’t Panic – September is only around the corner but there are a lot of people in the same boat.  I know that Universities will be bombarded with enquiries so please be patient but persistent in your enquiries.  Remember that the admissions folk will be working flat out to ensure they deal with it as quickly and fairly as possible. 
  • You are not Alone  Every individual is different in terms of what they got, compared to what they expected, and where they will end up.  But you are united in the fact that you are the class of COVID-19 and there will be outpourings of empathy for what you have had to experience. 
  • Universities of the UK Unite – This is easier said than done and I know there has been a lot of work to date, but I do think that most Universities will be overly accommodating to the current situation and do their best to help students who have been unjustly failed by the system.  If they aren’t, then imagine what they may be like when they have already collected your fee income?! 
  • Employers’ Empathy – As someone working in recruitment, I do believe that the class of 2020 will have a special place in peoples’ (HR and hiring managers) hearts. There will be a degree of leniency towards those who went through that year and the grades achieved.  If necessary, make sure you stand out in other ways – your passion, knowledge, skills, experience and drive will get you much further than your A level grades. 

What next for this class of 2020?   I personally think Ofqual should not be seeking to fit a ‘bell shaped curve’ or attainment quota to the distribution of grades and just go all out to award people the grades that their teachers felt they could have achieved.  So what if this year more people than ever got higher grades compared to previous years – they deserve it for the disruptions that COVID-19 and this marking fiasco have provided to them. 

For me personally, I wait with baited breath as my step-son is already anticipating an improvement on his grades, which will mean additional ‘incentive payments’ due from me.  The impact of COVID-19 could have further financial implications for me personally I’m afraid! 

I’d love to hear your thoughts… let’s have a heated debate!

Feature image: Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

What did I achieve in lockdown?

I write this blog exactly 20 weeks into ‘lockdown’ and the headlines are still dominated by the continued impact of the virus. Whilst restrictions are being slowly lifted (and in some cases reinstated) it is clear that a return to our once ‘free’ lives is still a while off.

In my capacity as a recruiter I have been speaking to a wide range of people over the last 20 weeks, from candidates that are either working or furloughed to those who have been made redundant or in the process of redundancy. One common theme throughout these conversations is how people are coping with the impact of the virus and also how they are utilising the time to their advantage. There is certainly more time and opportunity for reflection as the pace of life for most people, apart from key workers and those working with young children to look after, will have slowed down to some degree.

Some of my conversations have centred around what to do next in terms of career; people usually find themselves at a crossroads with a desire to move in a new direction. In these cases I am there to offer advice and act as a sounding board for any ideas they may have. Some conversations have covered ideas on how to utilise the time to further develop skills or gain new skills. In most cases these skills directly benefit their careers, in others it is trying something new that takes them away from their work life in some way.

In writing this blog I have been challenged to really think about what I have personally achieved in the last 20 weeks.

Work gains 

Despite the documented drop in activity with our core recruitment services, I have personally achieved quite a bit in the last 20 weeks. I didn’t think I had before I took the time to document what I have done in this blog – 20 weeks seems like a lot.

Red Tiger revenue in lockdown

The other two thirds of Red Tiger Talent was furloughed for the first month so I was essentially manning the fort with a variety of tasks: doing the admin, planning new initiatives, writing blogs, dealing with enquiries and, of course, speaking to people.

It’s good to talk – During this time I have been averaging five conversations a day with clients (existing or potential) or candidates (existing or new).  That means I have spoken to at least 500 people during lockdown.   That is more people than I have friends on Facebook.   These conversations have been everything from careers advice, dealing with redundancy, general chats about weather/football/lockdown, to supporting those suffering with mental health issues. 

The mother of all databases – ‘Libraries gave us Power’ as the Manic Street Preachers say on their song A Design for Life.  Red Tiger Talent’s library is twofold – it is the knowledge and contacts that Paul and I have in our heads and the second is our Recruitment CRM which contains extensive details of many candidates in our area of expertise.  It is never complete – there are always new candidates to add, and it is never up to date – people do naturally leave roles and start in new positions, but we constantly strive to ensure that this captures not only the skills and experiences of candidates but all information shared across the recruitment process. 

New ideas have been formulated – There is no doubt that it has been a good time for ideas. The challenge for Red Tiger Talent is to prioritise the development of these ideas and progress them from ideas to tangible business propositions.  Watch this space – some will be launched in the not too distant future (not sure why I suddenly had the urge to become all cryptic!). 

Excel training for the masses – This started as an idea to deliver face-to-face to university students and has evolved into a proven, focused online training course for beginner or intermediate Excel users, aimed at anyone wishing to boost their confidence and mastery of Excel.  We have had young to old participants, novice to experienced Excel users and we really thrive on the feedback on how our training has made a real tangible difference to their Excel knowledge and confidence.   The plan now is to supplement this training with a number of other courses (either in Excel, GIS, data analytics or a range of softer skills). 

Completed Zoom – I feel there are 3 levels of Zoom user

  • There are the Zoom clickers who click on a link and generally know how to mute/hide video and not much else. 
  • The second level is the Zoom enthusiast that certainly has a good knowledge of the standard user interface (these are the ones that mess around with the different backgrounds).  
  • I am firmly in the third and highest level – the Zoom Master – who not only can manage all the standard functionality, but can also work with some of the backend functionality, such as breakout rooms, recording and polling (Meeting Admin essentially). 

Which kind of Zoom user are you?

Home wins 

Alcohol free for 1.5 months – I decided that after spending April trying to drink and eat myself to death (rather than succumb to Covid-19) that it would be good to have a period of abstinence to alcohol. One month is for losers, so I decided to go dry for May and June but unfortunately a mid June birthday meant that I fell off the wagon with c15 days to go. I certainly felt better in those months – A dry period is currently being lined up for September and October (have to avoid any celebratory dates).

Just some of my vinyl collection…

Found time to listen to my vinyl – My wife bought me a vinyl player nearly 2 years ago and I have been making a real effort to grow my vinyl collection. The challenge has been in finding time to listen. Vinyl is not really like Spotify, where it’s so much easier to dip in and out. Vinyl, particularly LPs, are designed to be savoured and real time invested in listening. Click here to read, “The Vinyl Countdown”, which discusses the success of vinyl, despite the digital age of music.

Cooked restaurant quality food at home – I like to think that I am a reasonable cook when I have the time so when I heard about what Elite Bistros have done with their at Home offer I had to give it a try. Check out Elite at Home for more information. 

Elite Bistros At Home – All the Starters!

I shamelessly plug these guys at any opportunity – because they are local (to me), they are great, and I also have some vouchers tied up with them so I need to ensure they survive so I can spend them in their restaurants when they open.  The concept is simple – order from the menu from 9am on a Friday (be quick as they usually sell out) and you will have it delivered the following Friday (to anywhere in the UK) in a chilled container.  The recipes are pre-prepared in the Elite kitchens – all you have to do is add the finishing touches and generally cock up the plating up.   On the success of my meal I also order a meal for one for my Dad which he successfully cooked at home. 

Garage as it’s meant to be used (nearly) – How many of you who have garages actually use them for the principal purpose they were design for i.e. housing motor vehicles?   I have owned three houses to date with garages and it’s fair to say that a car has never set foot (tyre) inside it on my watch!  Our current garage was piled high with the usual debris associated with the combining of two households: boxes of household spares (pots, pans, toasters etc), garden implements (can’t think of a better collective word for all that stuff), and other debris that neither of us wanted to part with.  Lockdown brought the arrival of a large skip (which also took down our broadband for a few days after the driver sheared through the cable) and with the help of a ruthless weekend where we filled the skip I can now see the garage floor. 

My wife’s car… not mine!

There is still some way to go before I can get a ‘real’ car in, but lockdown has resulted in enough space to house a mini gym in there. No more excuses!

I am certainly interested in hearing all your lockdown achievements. Given that it’s likely we will be continuing with this way of life for the foreseeable future, I am interested in hearing other ideas – please add any of your achievements to the comments below. 

Feature image: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels