Baptism of Fire – Part I

Every so often, life reminds you how cynical and ruthless it can be. It’s the old adage – “In life, you either get fucked or your doing the fucking”. Stone cold advice doesn’t come as succinct as that.

But before I indulge, I think it’s worth clarifying that (as nearly suggested by a couple of Stone Cold readers) my hiatus up in here was clearly not a result of me committing suicide after Man United bitch slapped the hell out of my beloved Arsenal that fateful Tuesday evening in early May at Ashburton Grove.

Alfonse Omosh clearly took this losing to Manure thing to the next level and as much as I advocate the passionate and fanatical support of my beloved Arsenal, committing suicide because of losing a football match tests the boundaries of stupidity of the highest order and ranks right up there with the best candidates for the world famous Darwin Awards – which recognize those who provide a great service to humanity and the survival of our species by eliminating themselves from the human gene pool through their sheer stupidity…but I digress!

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently getting intimately reacquainted with the bunch of punks claiming to provide an essential banking service to my business. You see, my bank has this amazing habit of switching business bank managers more frequently than the number of times most middle aged men get blowjobs in any given calendar year.

I wasn’t even aware that I was on my 7th manager in 2 years, so you can imagine their shock when I asked what happened to the pleasant chap who I used to call once in a while back in the day, talk to about a business overdraft to support my cash flow, exchange a few faxes with some figures and forecasts and a couple of signatures, and just like magic – the suffix DR would appear next to the cash balance in the account, and life would move right along as the bills continue to get paid without overzealous bum rushing from the folks whose correspondence we file under accounts payable.

“I don’t recognize that name”, comes the response to my question about that nice old chap who I obviously thought was my bank manager, and as if to qualify her visibly underlying disregard and contempt for my question which is so vividly characterized by her “Do I look like I give a fuck” facial expression, she nonchalantly summarizes that “maybe he left before I joined, I’ve only been in this division for a year or so”.

I’ll shortly come back to the reasons why against all conventional wisdom, I have to turn to these discredited blood sucking architects of the global financial meltdown, suffice to say that running a business by operating with the stash underneath my mattress is not a viable option.

There’s a historic belief that we men are really crap at multi-tasking, though I would argue that being crap at multi-tasking is a gender independent phenomenon – but you quickly realize the virtues of accepting this argument for the sake of world peace.

So when I decide that now is about as good a time as any to take on new projects, it inevitably means that there are some adjustments to be made in how I run my affairs and hence the need to work differently.

My dilemma is this – a combination of events and activities need to be planned and executed simultaneously for me to pull this off, otherwise it’s a non-starter. Some might argue that maybe an aspect at a time is the way forward, just like it takes some people 6 years to build a house brick by brick. Fuck that! I don’t have 6 years sitting around just waiting for the sake of the pragmatism of ending up with just the one house.

So having decided to go ahead with my strategy, multi-tasking became an inevitable reality. Nothing drastic (*he says LOL! *), just needing to recruit and put in place a project team, train them, put in a performance management system and discipline to make sure the project runs and is profitable, and do a few ‘minor’ things like move to a new office premises lock stock and barrel, find the finances and resources to do this, manage the many relationships needed to keep the project on track, and other small non-important issues like keeping my sanity…just the usual stuff you know.

My solution for dealing with this drama is to side step that whole “men are crap at multi-tasking” thing and leave the organizing to a competent general and field Marshall in the form of my PA. An argument that the multi-faceted nature of what I’m doing is standard issue project management that I can competently oversee is a waste of my energy. Between a feisty PA and ‘er indoors a.k.a ‘the government’ , making an argument that men are good at multi-tasking is a stupid and suicidal move that any man would lose.

Despite what many people think, I’m one of those who believes that the success of a business is totally dependent on my having a good assistant with the capabilities of a field general who can balance the need to organize you with military precision and also bitch-slap you into reality as and when necessary – though I resent that the bitch-slapping is sometimes fuelled (who am I kidding…LOL!)…is always fuelled by ‘er indoors. I’ve come to accept that the best PA you can ever get is one who is literally your second wife but without the sex.

Not that there’s any pressure for her LOL! Just that if the combination of activities fails, then we’re folding our tents and she and other project staff are joining the dole queue to fill in the infamous UB40 form to be handed in with the P45 I issue them. I gather the job market is not a nice place to hang out – what with all the stuff that’s happening with unemployed folk around, but as Rahm Emmanuel famously puts it – “It’s a tragedy to let a good crisis go to waste”, so I prefer to look at the pressure of the situation as motivation to make sure failure is not an option.

That’s why in such cases I comfortably opt for that old age notion of the theory of specialization and the division of labor. The general will organize, and I’ll do what I’m good at. Perhaps what I forgot to mention earlier is that there’s a small matter of the fact that what I’m doing actually needs financing and like most 3 dimensional folks out there, the stash under my mattress won’t suffice.

So my misguided enthusiasm was fueled by the government’s insistence that their multi-billion pound bail out that saved these punks from oblivion is working because banks are now resuming essential lending to small business to support cash flow. Little did I know that my enthusiasm was about to unleash a sequence of hoop jumping nonsensical demands that makes you wonder why the government actually didn’t let some of these banks collapse and fade into oblivion. We would have lived.

What the fuck was I doing forgetting that banks are cold blooded, ruthless blood sucking machines of the establishment that are set up to make money for their shareholders. It’s not rocket science, its Business Finance 101 – “the bank is not your friend, they’re there to make money from you”.

Her Majesty’s Revenue remind me that as a tax payer, I’m actually a share holder of this so called bank, but this was never going to cut the mustard here…


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