Rob P Brown

Such sad news…

Our colleague, co-author and friend Rob P Brown lost his long battle with ill-health and passed away. 

If there is a heaven Rob will be strolling its halls saying, ‘life had its challenges but positive thoughts got me through’. 

 One of Rob’s favourite quotes was:

“If you do nothing else in this life, treat everyone as the most important person you will ever meet.”

And that he did. Rob had mastered the art of ‘being present’ with people in the sense that while he was with them, they were the centre of attention. Rob had the talent of making people smile, to encourage them to see the positive and then to share that with others.

Through too many years or not enough, depending on your perspective, Rob battled with cancer and was surely heading for a record in the number of times he appeared to be beating the odds to survive. 

True to form, in the days before his passing he was still posting positive messages and words of encouragement. 

Rob left the world as he went through it, gently. He will be missed by all that knew him.

Trust me, there has never been a bad PowerPoint presentation.

Some people seem to have an axe to grind with PowerPoint, they couldn’t be more wrong.

I recently heard a documentary that was devoted to saying how bad PowerPoint presentations are. The show aired interviews with people claiming to be expert speakers who didn’t hold back in their wrath for the Microsoft product. I have read articles by presentation trainers telling people they should avoid using PowerPoint. That’s people who don’t know what they are talking about passing on bad advice.

I have never seen a bad PowerPoint presentation, do you think you have?

If you answered yes let me give you another perspective.

Think of it this way, have you ever seen a bad marker pen presentation? Have you ever seen a bad flip-chart presentation? Have you ever seen a bad video presentation?

You too have never seen a bad PowerPoint presentation but you may have seen presenters who did not know how to use that tool just as you may have seen presenters who can’t write with a marker pen or you have seen a badly made film. It’s not the pen or the camera that’s the problem.

If you are one of those people who think PowerPoint is akin to death by bullet point think again. Who put the bullet points there? Who threw too many words at each slide? Who used low resolution images that blurred when enlarged on the screen? Who didn’t know how to layout the slide to suit the projected image? Who didn’t check that the format on their computer was incompatible with the venues equipment?

Owning PowerPoint does not make you a great presenter just as owning a top of the range camera does not make you a great photographer. Buying the most expensive marker pen does not make your writing legible just as that blank flip-chart page may not be improved by what you put on it.

The outcome from PowerPoint, just like the outcome from every other tool in the presenters box, is only as good as the person using it. The issue is not the tools themselves but the people who think that being the expert in their field makes them an expert presenter.

The very best presenters take time to study and practice their craft. They are always looking for ways to improve audience engagement. They know how to use voice, imagery and words to best effect. They hone stagecraft and they will always, ALWAYS, leave nothing to chance with technology.

When you see a great presenter using tools like PowerPoint, flip-chart or pen, you walk away reflecting on great content delivered well. When you see a bad presentation, please don’t walk away blaming the tools. What you have seen is a presentation by someone who is hopefully better in their day job than they are as a presenter using tools that become the victim of their inability to use them well.

Whenever you have seen someone drive a vehicle badly did you think, ‘that car is awful!’? Just as you wouldn’t blame the car of a bad driver please don’t blame PowerPoint for a bad presentation.

First impressions are valuable

‘He looks like he sleeps on the streets and smells like a garbage truck but he’s great at what he does’.
Seriously, would you like that introduction?

When did you lose the sale?
So many times an opportunity will be lost during the creation of that vital first impression. We make up our minds about people in less than seven seconds and once a bad impression is created you rarely get a second chance to put it right. If that bad impression can be fixed with a little thought about grooming, you’d be mad not to take action today to fix it.

How many appointments do you have with your shower each week?
At the very heart of creating the right impression is personal hygiene. Those who are fresh, use deodorant and project a healthy, well-groomed image are obviously going to be more appealing than those who look and smell like they just woke up after a heavy night. And while you shower give those finger nails a scrub – ever been form filling with someone else where you are pointing things out?

Are you dressing for the business you want?
Once you have showered there is little point in then putting on clothes that are not freshly laundered and pressed. You have to smell great and look great. Invest in clothes that will help you project the personal branding that will get you the business you want. And, ‘they should accept me as I am’, means you are making a lifestyle choice not a business choice. Get over it, your mum might have accepted you the way you are the rest of us need you to wake up and help us to help you.

Do you have a toothbrush?
What did you eat last night and did you use your toothbrush before you left home this morning? You may look great but your breath lets you down because you were eating garlic for dinner; first impression – blown. Just as you should visit your dental hygienist on a regular basis you should be reaching for the toothpaste at least twice a day. Also, in addition to good oral hygiene, include some mints in your daily networking kit, you never know when you might need them.

How are your shoes looking?
You shower, you smell great, you are dressed to impress, nails clean, your teeth shine and your breath smells good. Why would you be wearing old shoes that have never seen polish and brush? Of course you wouldn’t do that. It takes a couple of minutes on a regular basis to make your shoes look good and they will last longer so saving you money.

How’s your vehicle looking?
The way we do one thing is the way we do everything. If you are driving around in rubbish tip, what impression do you think that creates? Whether you are a sales person travelling to appointments, a business consultant visiting a client or a trades person going to site, what does the state of your vehicle say about you to others? If your best customer or client walked up to your vehicle in a car park what might they think about your brand from what they see? Keep your vehicle looking good, inside and out, it may be the difference between getting or keeping business or losing more opportunities that you should be winning.

What impression are you creating – for everyone?
When you demonstrate respect for your own appearance you will automatically start to gain trust and confidence from others. How you look may be a strong indication of the way you are in business. It speaks of efficiency and effectiveness. Care about your appearance will help to persuade others to want to do business with you, it will also enormously help you to be referred.

When you receive a referral your first duty is to make the referrer look good. If the way you appear is not tip-top is there any wonder you are not getting the opportunities you deserve. It’s really simple, you wouldn’t risk your hard-won reputation by referring someone to your contacts who is going to create a bad impression about you, would you?

What shows on the outside is a reflection of what you are on the inside. Taking time to work on your image on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis is time well invested. Not only will you look better, you’ll feel better too and who knows what impact that might have on your wealth creation strategy.

Have a sparklingly brilliant week.


Simple steps to planning…

Every business needs to set clear goals and have a success plan. However, your plan will only be successful if you follow it through. Here are a few thoughts on how you can do this right now.

  • Make a work plan to accomplish your goals. This involves identifying in detail what you will do each hour, each day.
  • Each moment during the day, ask yourself, ‘How exactly is this particular action ensuring I achieve my goals?’
  • Prioritise tasks in the day to ensure you are working on both short and long term goals.
  • Do the most challenging task first.
  • At the end of each day take stock of what you have achieved and note how this has contributed to your success plan.

The work plan helps you define a critical path, i.e. the most important steps that must happen for the goal to become a reality and the key accomplishments to be achieved along the way.

Stephen Covey said:
“All things are created twice.”

There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation of all things. Once you have made sure that the blueprint, the first creation, is really what you want, that you’ve thought everything through, then you must translate this into doing the actual tasks.

Establish times for checking your progress in your calendar system, whatever it is: a digital planner, smart phone or a hand-written list. If you’re not making progress, don’t let your optimism keep you from accomplishing your goals.

No matter how positively you are thinking, you need to assess your lack of progress. Take a look at all of the factors that are keeping you from accomplishing your goals and develop a strategy to overcome them. Add these steps to your calendar system as part of your goal achievement plan.

Commit to making small changes each day in order to become more effective. At the end of each day and each week ask yourself, ‘What’s working well?’, ‘What do I need to do more of’, and ‘what do I need to do less of in order to achieve my success plan?’

Remember to focus on achievements and find ways to make your tasks fun and meaningful to you.

As you work through your success plan you will have an amazing and positively focussed week.



  • The UK and Ireland division of Brenntag, global distributor of chemical ingredients, received a multi-million-pound investment and launched its new UK head office, based in North Leeds.
  • Empiric, the property investor and operator of student accommodation, has acquired its second York site this week for £9.25m.
  • Yorkshire based Moda Living has agreed an £85m build-to-rent loan for its biggest development.
  • The Heart of London Business Alliance said international tourist spend in London’s West End throughout December surged by 25 per cent year-on-year, while retail sales went up by 15.4 per cent and footfall increased by 13.3 per cent.
  • Leeds-based metals business Kloeckner Metals UK have invested £7.7m in equipment after reporting increasing demand from the automotive sector.
  • Hull-based TRG Wind has increased its investment in staff and equipment after securing a seven-figure deal in the German renewables market. The firm will retrofit more than 560 wind turbines.
  • Construction, facilities management and professional services firm Titan Group has launched an office in Leeds to support its continued growth in the North.
  • Hugo Boss shares skyrocketed following an announcement that its full-year profits would be far better than expected with £2.39billion in sales for the year.
  • The second phase of a relief road in the East Riding, which will pave the way for a £200m mixed use scheme, has begun.
  • Brough Relief Road will open up land on the south of the railway to develop Brough South, a residential, retail, leisure and commercial scheme.
  • Yorkshire businessman Sir Robert Ogden will part fund a £10m a planned cancer treatment centre at a North Yorkshire hospital. The facility, at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, is being commissioned by the Macmillan charity.
  • Co-operative Group has welcomed positive quarter four trading results, making significant headway in its turnaround strategy. The retailer posted a like-for-like food sales rise of 3.4 per cent, helped by a 4 per cent increase in like-for-like at its core convenience stores.
  • The Jacamo, JD Williams and Simply Be owner, N Brown Group, saw an overall sales increase of 4.1 per cent, while retail sales rose 5.9 per cent in the 18 weeks to December 31.
  • Consumers spent £133 billion with UK retailers in 2016, £18 billion more than the amount spent online in 2015.
  • Zalando has broken the €1 billion barrier for the first time, the online retailer raked in €1.094 billion in revenues during its fourth quarter.
  • Legal & General secures funding for Kier’s £85m Arndale shopping centre extension in Eastbourne. Development will include 22 retail units, 300 extra car parking spaces, seven restaurants and a nine-screen cinema.
  • Womenswear retailer Hobbs recorded a 14.3 per cent year-on-year spike in total sales.
  • Leeds economy is worth £18 billion, a growth rate of almost 40% in the last decade. It’s the base to over 25,000 businesses and has the highest ratio of private to public sector jobs of all major UK cities.
  • US natural food maker Hain Celestial has entered into a joint venture to expand its brands in the Indian market with Future Consumer Ltd (FCL), the consumer products division of Indian conglomerate Future Group.
  • British car manufacturer Caterham has announced record sales figures for 2016, with nearly half of its transactions being with overseas customers.
  • Willmott Dixon has bagged a £28m science job in Wales for Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus. The build includes a seed biobank and processing facility, a bio-refining centre, an analytical science centre, a future food centre and an interaction hub.
  • A £335m joint venture of housing associations in the North and the Midlands has announced plans to deliver nearly 3,000 homes.
  • Wates has secured a £52.8m housing-driven mixed-use scheme in north London.

If you have a good news story of corporate expansion or business growth that is current and that you would like to share with others, we would be happy to hear from you. Email . If available please include a link to the source of that news for verification. We regret that within More Good News we cannot include every story headline sent to us… happily, there are more good news stories than we can feature here!

 We are judged by the words we use, the actions we take and the company we keepWhat words are you using?


“Do you know someone who wants to start their own business? There are things they need to know…”

We help a lot of start-up business owners and having been there and done it ourselves, we know what is involved to get a successful enterprise off the back of the envelope.

WARNING… The majority of business advisers will most probably tell you that you have a good idea. That’s great, just what you want hear, right? Be careful, that might be more about their interest and not yours, they may well be positioning themselves at the head of the queue to take your money rather than to contribute to your success. You might ask them how many potential clients have they advised not to start a business and they have not billed for that advice. 

To be frank, some people just shouldn’t go into business. Before you quit your day job, there are some points you may like to consider and while we can’t list them all, here is food for thought.

Get your finances in order…
Too many people start a business thinking they will be earning a good income from the early days, that rarely happens. You are more likely to find the opposite is true. Aim to have enough money in the bank to get you through the next twelve months so that you cover your living expenses in the event the business does not make what you predict it will. Ensure your personal credit record is strong. Pay off your debts, or at least as many as you can so you can start your enterprise as cleanly as possible.

Do your research…
Be sure you’ve researched your product or service offering. Test it with as many people as possible and be absolutely certain that a market for it exists. If a market does exist how will you create an audience within it and what unique selling combination have you got that will persuade people away from their current supplier? Unless they have created businesses, don’t rely on family and friends for advice, get an outside perspective to analyse what it is you plan to do. If they haven’t been there, done it and usually have the ‘scars’ to show for it, think twice before staking your future on what they say.

Write a realistic plan…
You may think you have a great idea, your friends and family may say you are a genius, but you are going to need more than a brainwave and enthusiasm to move forward. Most plans are more often fund-raising exercises for a bank or a template for you to fill in the blanks. There are many self-help business, legal and financial books on the market that can take you step-by-step through the process of creating a plan and of course there are lots of professionals who can guide you, just make sure you choose the right ones. There is no replacement for getting among the business community and asking for help. Visit networking organisations like BNI and you’ll find just about every opportunity for guidance and people willing to give you their time to point you in the right direction. But when you do prepare your plan, regardless of the numbers and distance from here to a far off point in time, it has to tell you what you need to do now, in the next 7 days; it’s pointless having a plan that says where you want to be in the future if it doesn’t tell you what you need to do now in order to make that happen.

Who says you can’t work for someone else while you get your own business under way?…
Trying your idea in your spare time while still working at your regular job just might help you get started while keeping your main source of income. It will give you the chance to work on your business plan, develop the brand, test the product or service and have a long hard look at what might truly be involved in starting out on your own. However, be sure you are not breaking any contractual, moral or ethical obligation you may have with your employer and don’t try to build your business on their time.

Invest in help!…
The greatest proportion of knowledge required to run your business has little to do with the product or service you sell, it is all to do with running the company. Give plenty of thought to the support you will need to get your idea to market and do not skimp on the cost of professional services which may make all the difference between your success and failure. Once again speak with people who have been their and done it.

At the get-go you may be doing it all yourself…
You will be CEO, MD, FD, sales manager, head of  marketing, coffee maker and washer-up. In the early days be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in, in fact always be prepared to get stuck in. But here’s the thing to be wary of, while you are working in your business, who is working on it? A great habit to adopt from the outset is to set aside at least half a day per week to work on your business, but the thing you are going to need to work out is what working on the business really means. If you are a decorator, doing your own bookkeeping, building your own web site or meeting the bank manager have nothing to do with ‘working on your business’ they are all elements of working in it. Get help from people who know the difference between the two.

Learn fast and manage time…
You will not have the luxury of sitting back at someone else’s expense while you figure out how the stapler works. You have the same 24 hours in a day as Richard Branson and Bill Gates, use them wisely. Speak to as many people in your field of business as possible and learn from them. Study your competitors, their pricing, packaging, advertising, marketing and PR. Who are they? What makes them tick? How do they reach their market? How good is their brand and how long did it take to develop? Information is all around you, grab it and use it but make sure you are doing so at speed. Do not let procrastination and inertia kill your enterprise before it has had a chance to fly.

Cash flow is king…
You may convince yourself that a big office and shiny desk will impress people and get sales but put that ego back in its box and understand this, nobody who matters cares. In the first year of business invest money more in professional advice than on toys and later on you will have the wealth to have all the toys you can imagine. For instance hire a proactive accountant and they will advise you on cash flow, payment terms, revenue collection and spending. Get it wrong and no matter how good your offering, you may cut off the very oxygen that sustains the lifeblood of your business. When you tap into great advice you may pay for that now, but it will keep paying you back way into the future and in ways you may never have imagined.

Love what you do…
When you love what you do you have what we call a ‘seven day weekend’. But if you are not passionate about the business you start you may, in truth, simply be buying an expensive job. Think hard before you embark on that dream business. Seek out and listen to great advice. Ultimately, the change you seek may be more to do with your attitude to the job you do than the colour of the grass you imagine is greener elsewhere. But, if you are not afraid of hard work, if you have a good idea for which you know there is a market, if you have the cash to sustain yourself for a year, if you can sell well, if you have access to great advisors, if you have a network of support and you are 100% determined, good news, you may well be on your way.

On behalf of all at Mentor, whether you are in business or just starting out, we wish you a truly dynamic, profitable, healthy, happy and successful year ahead.

All the best