BIG BUSINESS AND BIG EARS

February 3, 2013

A wet and windy morning, yet some 200 people went along to the Playhouse Theatre at 11am the other morning. Why? Because it was the Press Launch for The Lion King, coming to the theatre later in the year.

And it wasn’t just for journalists, but for competition winners, too.

I have to say, this was a slick and professional presentation. Well, it would be – it was organised by Disney. And they don’t do things by half.

It started bang on time. Some of the cast members were there in full costume – along with a gospel choir. They performed a clutch of song and dance numbers, right there, just feet from the assembled group.

The representative from Disney gave a slick presentation and slide show – with video segments – on how the costumes and puppets used throughout the show are constructed.

Visit Scotland were brought in to the frame. The Playhouse staff members were polite, attentive and efficient.

Even already, giant advertising posters are everywhere, and the box office is being doubled in size to cope with the demand for tickets. Impressive stuff.

But of course it’s impressive – it’s Disney. They do things properly. They are customer-focused. They do it big, and they do it right.

And that got me thinking. All those sluggish companies and inefficient firms that let us down and break their promises when it comes to everything from delivery times to product quality could do with bringing Disney in to advise them how to run their businesses properly.

Actually, I think some of the captains of industry would look rather fetching in big ears, red shorts, large yellow shoes, and white gloves.

There would be no delays with the trains and transport companies if Disney was at the helm. No standing from London to Carlisle. No surly staff… Yes, Disney would sort it out.

And when when you think about it; a lot of those inefficient and incompetent firms are Mickey Mouse setups. They’re halfway there already.

Drew McAdam

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OFF BY A FEW DEGREES

December 31, 2012

It was a TV interview. Some bloke complaining that he had graduated from university but couldn’t get a job despite having a hard-won degree. He had to accept work stacking shelves in the freezer of his local butcher.

I must say, my heart went out to him. Years of work, study and application – and it all came to zero… Well, several degrees below zero.

Had he stopped there, I would have been writing this column with a different slant. But he didn’t stop. Instead, he went on to reveal that his degree was in Art History.

What? At school, a chum of mine took Highers in Art and Mathematics. The only job I could see suited to these qualifications was one that involved painting computers.

But a degree in Art History? Only useful if you’re applying for the post of curator in an art gallery.

I mean, did he really think a pointless degree like that entitled him to a top job and a top salary? It would seem he did.

And he’s not the only one. There are thousands of them out there.

Wealthy teenagers taking courses that have no bearing on real life, and then complaining  they can’t land a job suited to their intellectual and academic capacity. Poor lambs.

A little bit of research reveals that there is a plethora of next-to-worthless degrees. Ask yourself: who is going to employ you just because you have a degree in philosophy. Or psychology. Or – wait for this – David Beckham Studies, from Staffordshire University. I kid you not.

You can even take a Madonna studies module as part of the Gender Course at Harvard. Or Oprah Winfrey studies at Illinois.

There are degree courses in parapsychology at Edinburgh and Liverpool, among others. Very handy if you want to join the Ghostbuster team. However, it’s unlikely to impress a REAL employer who is offering a REAL job.

The first thing youngsters should learn in life is that you must always give the customer what they want. And when the customer is your potential employer, he certainly doesn’t want you waving an archaeology degree in his face.

Unless, of course, you want a job stacking shelves in the local butcher shop. In that case, your degree will do just fine – for swatting flies. Oh, and beating off the bailiffs when they come to collect your student loan.

Drew McAdam


UK OR US

November 5, 2012

 

Having been booked for a performance in Englandshire recently, I had to catch a train to Birmingham, then change for Northampton. Easy enough.

Except that at Birmingham the connecting train didn’t move. The minutes passed and then it was announced that the train was cancelled, as were all other trains travelling that line, due to a problem on the track. Everybody off. Tough cheese, travellers.

Okay, they didn’t actually say that last bit, but that’s what they meant.

It’s at times like that you realise that the railway system is run by individuals who couldn’t find their own backsides with a torch and a hand mirror.

But you can’t let these people get in your way. Which meant I had the added burden of a very expensive taxi fare from Birmingham to Northampton. The show must go on, and all that.

Not including the taxi fare, the round trip cost in excess of £400. I’m not making this up – it really did cost that much.

So, if you live in West Lothian, and you want to do business down south, you had better be prepared to clamber over all sorts of obstacles and spend a week’s wage on travel.

Which is odd, because my journey of 323 miles (plus return) works out at £1.23 a mile. However, you can fly the 3,200 miles from Edinburgh to New York for £394 (yes, return) which is actually LESS than it cost me NOT to get to Northampton.

The New York flight works out at 12p a mile in a comfortable plane, in case you’re wondering, as opposed to the £1.23 for each mile travelled by train. Yes, mile-for-mile it’s 10 times more expensive to travel by train in the UK than to fly to America.

If you’re a West Lothian businessman, I suggest you consider doing business in New York, rather than anywhere in the Midlands. Not only is it less expensive to travel there, but you have a better chance of actually arriving at your selected destination.

Now, is it just me, or is there something seriously crazy about that?

Drew McAdam