Two Bob Tales 4

In his younger days Adi found himself falling in love with a 16 year old  girl by the name of Stefanie Isak. However, in his youth Adi was not bold. Being as apprehensive as he was Adi never directly approached the woman. In the beginning of his obsession with this woman he would write her love notes which she did not respond to. He would often talk to his friends about how beautiful he found the young woman and how in love with her he was, but still never approaching her.

Adi continued to become more and more obsessed with this young woman. When she wouldn’t respond to his letters of love he began to obsess more and write poems about her. Still never summoning up enough courage to talk to her Adi began to suffer from depression from rejection by the young  girl. He often thought about “throwing himself off a bridge in despair and killing her too.”

Adi’s obsession with this woman continued for four long years, yet she still never paid him much attention. It is said that Adi was a very dashing young man and most young women found him weirdly attractive. So if Adi could have any woman of his choosing, why did he fall for a Stefanie girl?

Something hurt one person more than another. Some people take rejection on the chin. They use it as medicine. Take it, wait, dust yourself down and start all over again. Others can’t swallow it. It grows inside them like a cancer until it is all they can think about. Every minute, every thought.

No-one knows what happened to Stefanie, the young girl from Linz with the Jewish name, but Adi held his grudge for a long time. Adi died 40 years later in a bunker in Berlin.



10 Reasons I Like Working With Miles Kelly Publishing



At the start of May this year I was lucky enough to start a working relationship with Miles Kelly Publishing. I really enjoy the work I do for them and I hope it continues for a long time.

A post like this always runs the risk of being a bit embarrassing when looked back at in the future. I’ll take that risk because it is more the management principles that I am concerned with rather than the company name stamped at the top of the wage slip.

Here are 10 Reasons I love doing business with them:

  1. The most basic of management books will tell you that “Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions” but I have been amazed how little this idea is put into practice in the workplace. The amount of unanswered/ unacknowledged emails I have sent in my life is unbelievable. Are people really that busy? At MK I have been happy with the feedback I’ve got.
  2. I’ve been thanked for my work. Another basic but one that seems to have been lost within 21st Century management mumbo jumbo. It’s amazing how many companies will have bonus schemes, employees of the month and intricate retention packages and yet will not drop a simple “thank you” email every now and again.
  3. The staff at MK have a genuine interest in children. That’s how it should be at a Children’s Publisher really! It would be weird to work at a Children’s Publisher who didn’t like Children or was cruel to children in some way.
  4. There is a good team spirit at MK. I think this is reflected in the staff turnover figures. As far as I know not one member of staff has left in the last year. That’s a good stat at a company with 35 or so staff members.
  5. The Management at MK are not ostentatious. I worked at a place once where every staff member was brought in to see the Manager’s Desk on their first day. We were told that it had cost £2000. Now at that company we had to go out on the street and work hard to make a few quid. It was a bit of a kick in the teeth to think that our hard work was going to pay for frivolous things like posh desks!
  6. There has been little negativity. In 2015 I have done paid jobs for 6 or 7 employers (perhaps more). At 2 of these jobs I was told by other employees on my first day that they hated working for such and such company and that they couldn’t wait to leave. At other places there has been more strife. At MK this has not been the case. Perhaps it is because I spend little time at HQ but nonetheless there is an underlying positivity and general “niceness” which isn’t always what we find in the British workplace.
  7. There is no shouting at Miles Kelly (as far as my experience goes). At previous employers I have been called over-sensitive for trying to avoid shouting and confrontation. People have told me to grow a thick skin, but why should I? We are making and selling Children’s books not fighting in the Vietnam jungle! If people are looking for a square-go then we can meet up in a pub car park somewhere…… but I don’t want to work anywhere like that.
  8. You can’t work somewhere if you don’t believe in the product. Miles Kelly products are excellent. They are full price books available at bargain prices.
  9. When I was at Gala there was a Regional Manager who would phone clubs at 9pm on a Saturday night to make sure his Managers were all working. This was petty and juvenile and it undermined the bosses. If the Regional Manager was so worried about his bosses why was he paying them £30k to £50k per year for their work? I don’t get hounded at Miles Kelly. I like that.
  10. The bosses at Miles Kelly have been pretty clear on what they want from me. They have a figure in mind for the stock level they want to get to. I need to implement my plans in order to help them get to that figure. When I first started I worked out 14 ways they could do this. I now just need to fit these ideas into the MK way of working in order to reach the goal. Some times working is like playing Ten Pin Bowling but with a curtain in front of the pins. There is lots of noise and cheering but no-one really knows what they have scored. It is reassuring to have the simplicity of knowing that if X figure gets down to Y value then we have succeeded.

Two Bob Tales 3

When I was about eighteen, I got a telephone call from a strange man. The phone in my room rang (for you kids reading now, telephones used to actually be attached to walls; you didn’t carry them around with you. I was one of the privileged few kids my age who not only had hid own phone, but also his own number – listed in the phone book and everything!) and I went in and answered it. He asked, “Is this Courtney Ballard?” and I acknowledged that it was. He told me his name in a tone that implied that he expected me to know who he was. I was clueless.
He asked me again if I was me, and I had no choice but to again say that yes, I was in fact me. He then said, “I’m calling to make sure you’re OK. You looked pretty shook up yesterday.”
At this point I had to tell him that I had no idea what he was talking about. I had been fine the day before.
He pressed on: “Yesterday? When you wrecked your car?”
“Sir… I… think you might have the wrong number.”
“This is Courtney Ballard, right?”
“Yes sir, my name is Courtney Ballard”
“And you live in (the name of the tiny town I lived in)?
“Yes sir, that’s me, but I didn’t wreck my car yesterday…”
Over the course of a very confusing and uncomfortable fifteen minutes, he proceeded to tell me about ‘our meeting’ the day before: I had come around the corner in front of his house too fast, lost control, and hit a large oak tree in his front yard. I had been shaken up, but the car was drive-able and I’d refused all offers of help. He’d managed to get me to reveal my name before I left, and I’d told him that I was on my home to that small town, but nothing else.
He described me – my size, my shape, my hair length and color. He described my car – not the make and model, but the size, shape, and color.
At first I thought it was a put-on, that a friend was pranking me, but as the conversation progressed, the man’s concern was convincing. He had been so worried about me that he’d looked me up and called to make sure I was Ok.
By the end of the conversation I managed to convince him that I was Ok, that I really didn’t know anything about it. He had given me his name and address over the course of the call, and he invited me to stop by sometime.
When I hung up the phone, I was actually curious; I went outside and looked at my car. No damage – everything was just as I remembered it. I shook my head and walked back inside.
A few days later I was driving home and this phone call was echoing around the back of my mind. I remembered the man’s name, and what part of town he lived in. It wasn’t far off of my route home, so I looked him up in the phone book, got his address, and headed that way. As I came around a sweeping bend in the road I saw a house like the one he had described. In the front yard was a large oak, and there were marks in the grass where a car has recently left the road, leading straight for the tree.
And on the tree, paint that perfectly matched my car.
I was so shaken that I almost ran off the road and into the tree.

10 Self-Development Book Recommendations

Personal Development or Self-Help books are probably my favourite type of Non-Fiction. I’ve been a big consumer for 15 years. Here are my 10 current favourites:

  1. The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
  2. Choose Yourself by James Altucher
  3. How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  4. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
  5. Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  6. The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason
  7. The Moneyless Man by Mark Boyle
  8. The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach
  9. Acres of Diamonds by Russell H. Conwell
  10. Persuasion Skills Black Book by Rintu Basu

10 “Be Prepared” Ideas

Don Corleone: I hope you don’t mind the way I keep going over this Barzini business.

Michael: No, not at all.

Don Corleone: It’s an old habit. I spent my whole life trying not to be careless. Women and children can afford to be careless, but not men.

The Godfather is the most quotable film of all time. As I get older I see the importance of these words more than I did when I was younger.

Many years ago when I worked as a Financial Adviser in England I would get to see the state of people’s finances. I was surprised that, over the years, the people I encountered who were “wealthy” were not too often business people. In reality the people who had the most cash tended to be either a) people who had had a windfall (inheritance/ life insurance) or b) people who had bought their council house for 2p in 1985 and sold it for £200,000 in 2005.

The circumstances leading to these situations are probably not available to folk today however other things will pop up. They always do. Here are 10 things I would recommend to people in order to “be prepared” and to avoid being careless:


  1. Take out Life Insurance and Critical Illness Insurance. It only costs pennies but it could be Extremely important for the people you leave behind.
  2. Learn about Health Tourism. I think this is going to be an important industry in the future. The world is a smaller place now. When the Doctor tells you that you have Cancer you want to know exactly where in the world you need to go in order to get the best treatment.
  3. Put your insurance details onto a form and laminate it. Stick it to your fridge. You need to have all this stuff handy. It would take me an age to find all my forms.
  4. Read “Cancer: Step Out of the Box”.
  5. Make sure you have proper insurance for your belongings.
  6. Back up your computer files regularly. External hard drives are very cheap these days.
  7. Get fire extinguishers in your house.
  8. Draw up a will.
  9. Set up savings funds for specific purposes. I believe I have spoken on this blog before about car savings. Boy wants a car. Dad buys car. Boy pays back Dad every month. Once boy has paid off loan he keeps paying Dad monthly. Dad puts money to next car when required. Basic bank of Mum and Dad.
  10. Carry out car maintenance routines and join the AA! I have had an AA membership for about 10 years. My wife got me it originally. I wouldn’t be without it now.

10 Jobs I Would Recommend To My Children

Good natured Adults will often say encouraging words to children such as “you can be anything you want to be” or “you might be Prime Minister when you grow up”. Unfortunately these self-esteem boosters tend to dry up as you become a teenager. I don’t recall getting anything like this said to me after Primary School despite getting great marks at High School. I would’ve welcomed it. The truth of the matter is that I could’ve done any job going – as was probably the case for a good 25% of the people in my year. No-one at school taught us though about what the job market is really like. We didn’t know how much each job got. We just thought “my dad has a good job, I want to do something like him”. Perhaps it is unfair to criticise the teachers, perhaps it is a parent’s job.

Here are the 10 jobs I would recommend to my children:

  1. GP. I was always put off the idea of being a doctor because I was quite squeamish. I think the truth of the matter is that GPs see a lot less blood than you might think.
  2. Solicitor.
  3. Architect.
  4. Accountant.
  5. Dentist. The biggest scam going!
  6. Historian.
  7. Librarian.
  8. Academic.
  9. Pharmacist.
  10. Surveyor.

10 Social Business I Could Run

My aims are high but I am moving closer to them every day. I would like to buy the property I currently rent and turn it into a holiday let. My wife and I would travel during any periods when the property is rented. Income would come from passive sources. Many of these passive sources are in place already. Here are some of the Social Activities I would like to take part in:

  1. Local business angel – cash for equity deals.
  2. Honesty Bookshop.
  3. Pensioner Visits.
  4. Multiple Fostering. I love the idea of fostering.
  5. Real Co-Ops. As I see it, Co-Ops originated in Victorian times as the people were getting ripped off via company stores. The idea was that the producers and buyers would club together to ensure that everyone got a fair deal. This idea seems to have disappeared but I believe there are many areas where it could be brought back.
  6. Respite holidays for foster carers. Imagine I was a foster carer having a hard time. How amazing would it be to know that there was a fellow foster carer out there offering up his property for a few days holiday at little to no cost.
  7. “Hotpoint Willie”. Hotpoint Willie is the name I made up years ago for a small washing machine recycling business. I believe that with a little practice most washing machines could be brought back from the dead. HW collects old washing machines for free, refurbishes them and then sells them on cheaply.
  8. Free house clearance and grot shop. Once again keeping stuff from the landfills.
  9. Surplus garden produce collected and then cooked up for the elderly.
  10. Kids days out for the poor.