I might be wrong…
But I think summer is officially over.
This past week we’ve seen it all… 30-degree heatwaves. Torrential rain. Wind. And then cracking thunderstorms all over the UK with hundreds of lightning bolts lighting up the sky.
Today we’ve settled on what I like to call “English Grey” weather.
I’ve got a bit of a problem…
It’s an obsession really. I’m addicted to learning.
I didn’t do well at school. I wasn’t academic. But as soon as I was out in the big wide world my passion for learning and understanding new things really started to shine.
As you probably already know, I started out with an apprenticeship in freight as soon as I left school and that career move shaped my whole future. But I didn’t just turn up and do my job every day – I committed to learning everything I could about the industry. I was like a sponge…soaking it all up. And I haven’t changed much. I’m in my 50s now and I’m still always looking to understand something new.
I’m always learning something.
a face for radio…
I had two bank managers visit me a few weeks ago, Yep, an actual face to face meeting and nothing virtual, let’s call him Mr Brown.
While I was sitting there listening to them talk about various finance-related things, my mind couldn’t stop thinking that Mr Brown looked just like a previous manager of my beloved football team, Aston Villa.
In fact, he looked so much like him that I actually asked him. Perhaps a brother or cousin?
battle of the titans
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to watch two geeks battle it out for supremacy?
Well, now you can… Late last year, ChatGPT broke all records to become the fastest-growing application, hitting 100 million users in less than two months.
Pretty impressive? You might think… Surely no one can beat that? But they have…
slow down to speed up
Have you ever heard of the phrase “slow down to speed up”? It sounds like a bit of an oxymoron… but it has some truth in it.
As business owners, we have a tendency to always be push, push, pushing. Those of us who are passionate about what we do tend to eat, sleep and breathe business. Never taking a break. Always looking for the next level of progress.
And this is great. This dedication, perseverance and graft is what makes waves and generates results. But sometimes, it’s important to take a break too.
You’re on thin ice …
Have you ever looked at a financial professional and thought “Hmm i wouldn’t like to take him on in a fight”? No. Me neither. World-class fighting skills and suited and booted bankers don’t tend to go hand in hand.
But as you and I know from working with people all over the world from all different backgrounds, cultures and demographics – stereotypes don’t usually stand up to scrutiny.
So I was only a little surprised when I recently discovered that a buddy of mine who works in banking, was also a world-class martial artist.
Bet you’ve never even heard of her …
Ever heard of Lillie Elizabeth Drennan? Probably not. What about Luella Bates? Gladys west.
As you know, I’m a big footie fan. I go watch my team, Aston Villa, at every opportunity and I love to enjoy a nice cold beer down the pub while watching a match. Over the past few weeks, people all over the world have been enthralled by the Women’s World Cup.
And I love it. It’s so great to see more people giving the Women’s World Cup the attention it deserves. But Gladys, Luella and Lillie aren’t footballers… They’re women who throughout history have contributed to freight.
Has the world gone Quackers?
What would make you happier? More money? A bigger house? A family? A sports car? A vacation? That’s the answer for most.
Now we could get into a debate about where true happiness comes from. Whether it’s a mindset or something that happens to you. Why some of the people who rate their happiness highest are those with the least…
But I don’t want to talk about that today… I want to talk about ducks.
Sometimes you get what you pay for… …And sometimes you get a little more.
That’s what Neville discovered when he bought a broccoli from the local supermarket, and got an unexpected surprise.
Now, I don’t know Nevile. He’s just some 63-year-old dude from Stourbridge who I read about in the news. But I bet his day went something like this…
sharing is caring …
I’ll be honest. I enjoy sending out these emails.
In a world so filled with boring, “buy me, buy me” emails in your inbox, I love to share my little quirky tales, life lessons and tidbits of information, to lighten up your work day and bring a little cheer or inspiration.
And I get a lot of feedback from others who love them too.
DO YOU HAVE 750 MILLION HORSES?
How many containers can you fit on the back of a horse and cart?
It’s a silly question, I know. But it’s where the world of freight started out – and for over 3000 years it was our only option when it came to transporting cargo. Looking at the world today, it’s hard to imagine that for several thousand years, we mostly moved goods using our equine friends.
You see, your average horse (let’s call him Nelly) could pull around 1.5x its body weight – making a full load of just 1500kg. That’s just 1/20th of your average shipping container. Nelly could travel around 30 miles a day, pulling a fully laden cart. This would mean that it could take nearly 5 days to get from the London docks to my home town in Birmingham.
Not especially efficient…
the problem with frequent flyers …
I recently took a flight to Asia on one of the big airlines. This isn’t one of the budget airlines, but one that’s known for its quality – rather than its price.
The flight itself was exactly what you’d expect it to be. The seats were as advertised, the food was ok… but the customer service was pretty crappy.
Now, I know on a plane you only have a handful of staff and hundreds of customers to care for. I’m ok to wait my turn and be patient. But the thing that really bugged me on this flight was the favouritism.
Fancy a fish Ice cream?
Have you ever asked for fish ice cream in an italian gelateria? It’s an easy mistake to make… pesca, pescare… so similar.
That’s the thing with foreign languages, it’s so easy to make a mistake. And when you do get something as simple as a single word wrong, it can cause big problems.
If you’re ordering an ice cream, the worst that can happen is you get some odd looks, a few giggles and someone politely asking if you meant “peach” rather than “fish”.
the social dilemma
I don’t envy the youth of today. I’m going to sound like a grumpy old git but I miss the days when social media and technology didn’t dominate the world.
I’ve just returned from a three-week trip in Asia, visiting clients and friends and catching up with some of our forwarding partners too.
During this trip, I spent a little time in Hong Kong.
you can’t make this stuff up …
As a seasoned traveller (a freight forwarder) I tend to be pretty good at logistics and planning. But even the best of us get things wrong sometimes…
I’ve just returned from a 3 week trip to Asia, visiting customers, attending networks and meeting up with some of our forwarding partners.
It was a mammoth trip – with three countries on the itinerary! So it took a little organising.
they think it’s all over …
Well, that marks the end of another fantastic football season. A season filled with highs and lows, incredible matches and heart-breaking goals…
As a Villa fan, I’ve spent many a weekend over the past 9 months visiting stadiums up and down the country, cheering on the lads.
And they’ve given us a season we can be proud of – 38 matches played, 18 wins, 7 draws and a final position of 7th in the Premier League and with this ensuring a European Qualifying game to boot also.
even billionaires get it wrong
Sometimes things go wrong in business. There’s no way of avoiding it.
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in – problems will occur, things will go not quite to plan… It doesn’t even matter who you are (or how rich you are either!).
Take Elon Musk as an example…
long live the king
Do you love the Queen? That’s what some of my overseas friends used to ask me when they discovered I was British. It always made me chuckle.
You see, despite what people think, us Brits don’t usually spend much time thinking about the reigning monarch.
That is until our dear old Queen Liz left this world.
cash boxes & calculators
What would happen to your business if the internet went down? A little while ago I went to the King Power Stadium in Leicester to watch my beloved Aston Villa play an away game.
As a seasoned footie fan, I’ve been to a lot of matches in a lot of cities – but this one was different. As I walked into the stadium, I noticed that every single refreshment outlet was closed. No food, no drinks, no snacks.
Nothing. Just a couple of stations handing out tap water in plastic cups.
Have you seen the TV show Ozark? A few years ago it took Netflix by storm, racking up over 4 billion viewer minutes – the fourth-highest streaming total ever.
And it was easy to see why. The show was gritty, twisty, grimy and witty.
It followed suburban husband and wife duo, Marty and Wendy, as they get caught up in a drug cartel money laundering scheme.
How hard is it to get sacked? A few weeks ago I went to watch my football team, the greatest team that ever played, Aston Villa FC. They were up against Leicester City, playing in the Premier League at the King Power Stadium.
Now, I’m pretty biased, I’ve been a Villa fan since I could walk and talk, but I thought they played a cracking game.
They held the ball for the majority, made more passes, with more accuracy – and of course scored more goals, securing them a 2:1 win.
Never Judge a Fish By Its Cover?
Do you judge people based on first impressions?
As some of you may know, I recently returned from a few weeks in in Thailand, where we took part in multiple freight networks and conferences.
Now, if you’ve been to a global freight network conference before, you’ll know this was no relaxing jolly.
The conferences can be pretty intense. It’s back-to-back meetings from start to finish. Think speed dating but for freight forwarders – now there’s a thought! Anyway, it’s one meeting after another, 20-30 minutes each, around 10-12 meetings a day. Relentless. But I love it. Everyone I speak to has a different story and brings different opportunities.
As with any business networking event, you get to meet some interesting people – and you get some no-shows too. A lot of people whinge about the no-shows, complaining that it’s disrespectful and a waste of their time.
And it is. But it’s also an opportunity…
free tesla anyone?
How can you sell more stuff? That’s the big question, isn’t it?
Whether you’re a manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer or freight forwarder, the success of your business hugely depends on your ability to sell more of what you do.
Since the internet changed the world all those years ago, the way we buy and sell things has changed. Business owners have got smarter.
If you were going to steal something, what would it be? Gold or silver? Money or diamonds? TVs and game consoles?
There’s a lot of choice. Plenty of items that you could quickly and easily convert into cash.
But some criminals think a little differently. Like the thief responsible for the great Easter Egg Heist of 2023.
Have you paid your garlic tax?
Could you go to prison for not paying your Garlic Tax? The world of freight is fraught with complex rules, regulations, legislation and taxes.
When you’re moving goods around the world, it’s essential that you know what you’re doing – and that you stick to the rules!
Or you could find yourself in a sticky situation like our Irish buddy Paul Begley …
Are you too comfortable?
As business owners, you’ll probably have heard this saying before… “Success is on the other side of your comfort zone”
And I bet you read that now and smile and nod your head thinking “Yeah, I know that.”
But do you live it?
A cautionary tale
When I was a kid, artificial intelligence was something that only existed in the movies
Fast forward to today, and ai is soon to become part of our everyday lives
When OpenAi launched its beta test of ChatGPT back in November 2022, it set the record for being the fastest-ever platform to gain 1 million users.
UFOS, Spy Balloons & Teapots
The world is no stranger to UFOs… From right back in 1440 BC when the scribe of the Pharaoh Thutmose III said he saw “fiery discs” floating over the skies, to the more famous Roswell incident in 1957 and the more recent sightings in Wales, where a police helicopter was almost hit by a UFO, before it tried to pursue it.
There’s no shortage of UFO sightings throughout history, and the rumours around what goes on in Area 51 only add fuel to the fire. UFO fanatics all over the world spend their days staring at the skies and investigating any potential sightings, desperately trying to prove that aliens do exist.
What to do when things don’t go as you expected… Remember when the Suez Canal was blocked for 6 whole days in 2021?
A container ship called the Ever Given could be seen in aerial photos all over the news, wedged in an awkward position between the canal banks.
When you’ve been in freight as long as I have, you’ve seen it all… There really are no limits on the things people try to move from country to country.
Antique jukeboxes, classic cars, cabbages, teapots with inappropriate images on them...
You name it, I’ve seen it!
I think this will never change…
What will the world look like in 50 years? It’s an impossible question to answer. Go back 50 years and no one could have predicted where we’d be today…
In 1973, no one would ever have thought that we’d all have a tiny hand-held device that would wirelessly connect you to anyone anywhere in the world and allow you to order almost anything at the click of a button.
The world was a totally different place. Not just for technology. The freight industry was different too.
Bank Robbers, Counterfeiters and the Queen
A few weeks ago, The Bank of England revealed what our new banknotes would look like. Whether it’s a tenner, a fiver or a twenty-pound note, all our money here has one key thing in common – the Queen.
But since we lost dear old Queenie and King Charles has taken the throne, that’s all about to change. The King hasn’t officially been coronated yet, that will happen in May, but preparations have already been made to start rolling out new banknotes.
The new money won’t be in circulation until 2024, and they’re planning to only print in volumes needed to replace old or worn notes (always thinking about the environment, hey?) .
500 Rubik’s Cubes, 85 Spoons & A Pumpkin Boat…
Did you know the longest journey completed in a pumpkin boat (yes, that’s a pumpkin hollowed out and then used as a boat) is 37.5 miles. The longest wheelie ever done in an aeroplane is 2.7 miles?
And the longest pieces of cargo transported by air freight were wind turbine blades measuring a whopping 42.1m in length!
I love a good Guinness Book of World Records. It’s just fascinating to see what some people get up to in their spare time.
How early is too early?
How did the end of last year go for you? Was it a seamless transition into 2023, or were you stressed right up until the last minute?
Don’t worry – there’s no right or wrong answer. Some industries are better prepared for peak holiday periods than others. And the freight industry is one of them.
Gone in 60 seconds …
I’ve aways been a big fan of marketing. I mean, as a business owner you can’t get far without it.
Obviously, as time has gone on the way we market has changed. Like many businesses, we’ve moved more into the digital world, embracing social media, search engines and online networking alike.
And in many ways, I love it. But there’s one thing that I think digital marketing misses. Longevity.
I’m a little jealous
Three weeks in and it already feels like New Year was yonks ago. Work is back in full swing, kids are back to school and most people have settled back into their daily routines.
But for 1.5 billion people around the world, the New Year celebrations are just getting started.
Sunday 22nd January marked the end of the Lunar New Year, the end of the Year of the Tiger and the beginning of the Year of the Water Rabbit. So what does the Year of the Rabbit have in store for us?
What would you do with 360 tonnes of rotten cabbages?
It’s a tough question. Probably one you’ve never thought of before. But someone had to come up with an answer…
It’s been nearly two years since the Ever Given blocked the Suez Canal, causing havoc and creating a freight backlog all around the world, with more than 360 ships queuing to use the canal by day 5.
Older people are getting younger. . What do I mean? Go back a few decades and people in their 30s were wearing cardigans and classed as middle-aged, 40s was old and anything over 50 was ancient.
But today you’ve only got to take a look at TikTok and you’ll soon see plenty of people in their 40s and 50s still looking young, healthy and enjoying life.
30s is still young, 40s is barely middle-aged and if someone dies in their 50s or 60s we consider it before their time. Thanks to modern medicine and improved living conditions, people in the UK are living longer and staying healthy.
How To Prepare For The Challenges Ahead…
Happy New Year!
I hope you had time for some much-needed R&R this holiday season. 2022 was certainly one hell of a ride for the freight industry!
If you’re feeling daunted by the thought of getting back into the swing of things in January, don’t worry – you’re not alone. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of handy articles for you to help your business prepare for the challenges ahead.
90% Of You Will Fail By February
Well, here it is…2023. Whether you celebrated with a big party or a quiet night in front of the telly, I hope you had a wonderful time and I wish you a very Happy New Year!
But before we get back into the swing of things, I want to ask you a little question?
Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?
A mixed bag …
Well, well, well… It seems it’s that time again. As is my tradition, for my last email of the year I like to do a little roundup of the year just passed. It’s always good to stop, reflect and remember before moving on to pastures new..
After the chaos and calamity of 2020 and 2021, many of us went into 2022 a little apprehensive, unsure of what to expect?
For many, 2022 has been vastly more positive than the previous two, in many countries the lockdowns have been put behind us and a level of normality has returned. For others, I’m aware it’s been fraught with challenges, despair and danger… Every year brings its own unique ups and downs, so what did we see in 2022?
Does Santa still live in the north pole?
Only a few more days until the Big Red Man comes to visit…
Are you ready? Have you bought the turkey? Is the tree up? The presents wrapped?
I don’t know how the story goes in other parts of the world, but here in the UK the Christmas narrative goes something like this…
Knowledge is the best gift of all….
It’s that time of year again! Don’t worry – I won’t say the C-word. What I will say is that it’s a busy time of year if you work in Logistics. So, how do you prepare your business for the inevitable seasonal chaos?
This month’s knowledge base articles focus on current supply chain obstacles – and how to breeze through them just in time for the festive period.
Intrigued? Here are the titles for this month…
You’re the email guy!
In the world of modern, direct-response marketing we’re taught to meticulously measure every single element of our marketing. Tracking, testing and measuring everything you do to see if it generates a return...
And that’s good advice. Mostly.
But there is an element of marketing that is hugely powerful – but also intangible. Brand recognition. Getting your name known.
Is Your Business All Lip Gloss & Mascara?
I’m no beauty pageant expert, but I came across something the other day that got me thinking...
Miss England contestant, Melissa Raouf, is breaking the mould and doing something that’s never been done before in the whole 94 years the competition has been running.
This 20-year-old politics student is competing against England’s most beautiful women – and she’s doing it totally bare-faced. No make up. None. Zilch. Nada.
plenty of fish
Have you ever had a conversation with a complete stranger? I do it all the time.
As a freight forwarder, I get to travel all over the world attending events, meeting my clients and catching up with our trusted network. Now, I’m a friendly chap. I like to get to know people and listen to their stories. So whenever I’m on a plane, I chat to the person next to me.
You do get the occasional grumpy git but most of the time they’re happy to chat with me too. And I’ve met some really fascinating people.
My hidden talent
We’ve all got that friend with the weird hidden talent. You know the one?
They look pretty normal, they do all the normal people things – go to work, go to the gym, have kids, go on holiday… They’re in all ways…normal.
Then one day, they drop into the conversation about their hidden talent.
Like a virgin…
Ever heard how Virgin Airlines got started? It’s a funny story… You see, Richard Branson found himself stranded in Puerto Rico. He had a flight booked to the British Virgin Islands, but he found himself stuck on the tarmac. Grounded.
You might be thinking that you can think of worse things than being stuck in Puerto Rico? Surely he could hang tight for a few days, book another flight, enjoy a little break…
But there was another important factor…
Trapped in a time warp…
Ever felt like you were trapped in a time warp? A few weeks ago, Keeley and I made a trip to Birmingham City Centre to see the Commonwealth Games bull. You can read that story in our blog.
On our way, we happened to pass the place where it all started. The building where my freight forwarding life began. The old offices of CGM (Scandutch) in Digbeth, Birmingham.
Now, you might already know my story.
ever had a toffee apple?
Halloween is over, the ghosts and ghouls have returned to their graves for another year and there’s no denying that winter Christmas is coming.
But before we get into the full pre-Christmas swing of things, we’ve another holiday to celebrate. Nope, not Thanksgiving (we don’t celebrate that on this side of the pond).
It’s all a load of bull!
A few weeks ago I took my daughter to Birmingham City Centre. As hosts of the Commonwealth games, the city had added some nice little events, decorations and features. Including the bull.
Not heard of the bull? Let me explain.
The bull was a whopping 10m high, mechanical sculpture that debuted in the opening ceremony for the games.
What The Goddess of War Taught Me About Business
Ever been to the Acropolis? I’ve just returned from a trip to the Atlas and Alfa Logistics Network event in Athens. 10 jam-packed days filled with learning, networking and getting up to date on what’s new in freight.
While I was there, I took a little trip to the Acropolis – the famous UNESCO world heritage site and the temple dedicated to the Greek Goddess Athena.
Now, you’ve probably heard of Athena. Daughter of Zeus, Goddess of War…and handicraft apparently! Well, I mean why can’t you be a war goddess who loves weaving?
You ask anyone who invented flying, and they’ll probably answer the Wright Brothers. But do you know what they really did that changed the world forever?
Most people think they invented the aeroplane – that they were the first to take to the skies!
But that’s not quite accurate.
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know…
The launch of our knowledge base last month was a huge success. We got loads of replies and I’m really pretty chuffed with the feedback you guys gave
This month, we’re getting into the swing of things and digging deep into some of the nitty-gritty topics that make freight feel overwhelming.
So grab a cuppa and a biccy and start reading!
Would you pick a fight with a blue whale?
At a whopping 100 feet long and 160 plus tonnes, these hefty mammals are thought to be the biggest animal ever to live on earth.
Sadly, like many animals, their numbers are declining with only an estimated 10,000-25,000 still left in our oceans..
The good news is that some organisations such as MSC are taking steps to help protect them..
good day all …
Their hair would be cut and died, they’d take part in a serious exercise regime and diet and they’d even undergo plastic surgery. At the end of the episode, they’d be revealed to their friends and family, looking 10 years younger – and like a totally different person.
Now, I’m no spring chicken but I don’t think an extreme makeover is for me. (I like my beers and footie too much!
more than just a monarch
How do you feel about our Queen? It’s a question us Brits have been asked for decades. Inquisitive people from all over the world are fascinated by our Monarchy and love to learn more….
But that question hits a little different this week. This week we’re a sad nation.
Mourning the loss of our Monarch. A Monarch who has been on the throne throughout our whole lives for most of us.
This week we’re a sad nation.
Mourning the loss of our Monarch. A Monarch who has been on the throne throughout our whole lives for most of us.
Flowers have been laid all over the country, sports, the arts and other celebratory events have been cancelled, and the day of her funeral has been declared a Bank Holiday.
the dog ate my homework!
are donning their shiny new shoes, wearing uniforms that are too big for them and standing in front of the front door with a fake smile for their “Back to School” photo.
Now, my kids are all grown up. The youngest is off at University so it’s a long time since “Back to School” has applied to us.
But as you know, I’m a big believer that while school may finish at 16, we should never ever stop learning and developing ourselves. And I live by this.
Not again chadd …
Hi again all, Chadd here. I know what you’re thinking… you don’t usually hear from me on a Friday!
But I’ve got something exciting to share with you this week…
We know that freight can be confusing, overwhelming and frustrating.
The Worst Heist Of All Time?
If you went to prison, what would it be for? A few years ago, Prison Break, captured the nation’s attention.
Every week over 9 million people tuned in to follow the story of genius Michael Scofield and his death-row brother, Lincoln Burrows, as they tried to escape a maximum security prison.
I’m no big TV watcher, but even I have to admit this one was pretty gripping… But it’s not the only “heist” TV show to grip the nation.
one slippery kitty!
There’s all kinds of challenges involved in travelling these days… Flights are getting cancelled, baggage lost, airports are capping numbers to try to calm the chaos…
But if you happened to fly into Logan International Airport in Boston, there’s another kind of chaos that you’ll have to deal with…
Customer complaints can be a real pain in the ass. But if you’ve been in business for any amount of time at all, the chances are that you’ve had some.
You know I love a bit of history? Well, this made me chuckle…
It seems that complaints have been around since the beginning of time! An ancient Babylonian tablet was found with an inscription upon it.
am i wrong?
I need help. That’s what my wife would tell you anyway…
But all kidding aside, I really do need some help. This past year has been a whirlwind of growth. We’ve made more connections, built relationships with more customers and moved more goods than ever before in my whole 26 years since Millennium was founded.
This is great news! And I’m eternally grateful to each and every one of our customers and my team for making it all possible. But there’s one catch…
Have you ever had an airline lose your luggage? If you have read some of my previous articles then you’ll know that I have recently returned from an overseas sales trip attending the annual global conference of Sky Alliance Network.
It was so brilliant to be back out there travelling, meeting new people and making those connections that are vital for anyone in this industry.
The network itself was a huge success. But the journey home – not so much.
Us Brits love to have a good moan. We moan about the weather – we’ve just had a week of record-breaking heat and now we’re whingeing about the dull, grey cloud.
We complain about the neighbours, the government, the mother-in-law… You name it, we know how to whinge about it.
I’d love to say the media are to blame – but I think quietly mumbling our complaints to each other is a part of our culture. But the media here definitely don’t help.
fitter, faster or stronger?
Are you proud of where you come from?
As you probably know, I’m a proud Brummie. Born and raised in the West Midlands, I’m a bit of a patriot when it comes to my home town. Birmingham might not be known for being the most beautiful of places, but what it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in opportunity, amenities and good people. It might be a big city, but it’s still got a bit of a community feel to it.
When big things happen, people get excited. We come together to celebrate, collaborate and even commiserate. And this coming month is no different.
Have you paid your beard tax?
Henry VIII is famous for a lot of things…
There was, of course, his many wives and his appetite for beheading anyone who stood in the way of his plans…
He established the Church of England, dramatically grew The Royal Navy and fathered three of England’s future rulers. But that’s not all he did…
As an iron-fist ruler, with a love of a good execution, rumour has it that he brought in some weird and wacky rules too.
Like the beard tax.
what business am i in?
Hey all, Ever been to the Caribbean? I’ve just returned from two weeks in the Dominican Republic. Sandy beaches, crystal clear skies and high temperatures – and MacDonalds?
It seems wherever I go in the world there’s always a Maccy D’s not far away…
It’s not surprising really when you learn that MacDonald’s has over 34,000 “restaurants” in 118 countries around the world. Burgers are big business – or are they?
My surprising little secret…
I’m a bit of a history buff. Surprising, I know. I mean, who’d have guessed that this freight forwarding, beer-loving, footie fan would also have a passion for history?
You probably already know that for centuries sailors have been using the north star for navigation? First charted by Claudius Ptolemy around 100 BCE and located directly above the North Pole, the north star was a simple way for pirates, privateers and explorers throughout the ages to stay on course.
But what you probably didn’t know is that the Vikings had a different way of navigating.
Dancing In A Nightie With The Druids…
Ever dressed up in a nightie and pranced around Stonehenge with a bunch of hippies and druids? Nope, me neither.
But every year on 21st June hundreds of people flock to these ancient stones to celebrate the summer solstice. The longest day of the year, the start of summer.
Now, I’m no great believer in witchcraft, wizardry or paganism, but the summer solstice does always play an important part in my year.
talk to me, goose
I’m no big movie buff. I don’t go to the cinema and I don’t spend much time at home watching films. You’re much more likely to find me watching the footie or diving into an interesting documentary.
But every now and then, there’s a big blockbuster movie that catches the nation’s attention – and sometimes mine too.
This month, the new Top Gun movie has been the talk of the town.
lost at sea
Ever heard of a place called Lego Beach? The British seas are not known to be treacherous.
But one cold, short day in February 1997 a freak wave hit container ship, Tokio Express. The captain described the wave as “ a once in a lifetime 100-foot freak wave” and it literally “rocked the boat”.
The Tokio Express was tipped nearly 60 degrees one way before rocking back 40 degrees in the other direction.
a very important question
How do you feel about the Queen? It’s weirdly one of the questions us Brits get asked a lot. The honest answer is that I don’t often spare little old queenie much of a thought..
While we might be one of the last monarchies still standing, the royal family have very little influence on daily life in Britain.
Except for when it comes to the Jubilee… Every 10 years the Queen celebrates another Jubilee. And it brings the whole country to a halt.
put the kettle on…
I’ve never seen anything like it… Sure, the internet is filled with surprising, even shocking videos but this was something else.
It was a young woman, maybe 25 or so. Medium brown hair, a thick American accent and a big, friendly smile on her face. “Today I’m going to show you how to make British hot tea”.
“Hmm interesting”, I thought. We don’t call it “hot tea” or even “British tea” – just plain old tea is what it is. But I kept watching.
FANCY A MEGAPINT?
Every now and then there’s a story that sweeps social media and captures the attention of millions all over the world.
This month it’s the trials and tribulations (and actual defamation trial) of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. It’s a bit of a he said/she said situation.
Amber claims Johnny was abusive. Johnny claims Amber was the abuser.
RICHER THAN THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND
I’ll be honest. When it comes to Harry Potter I’m a complete muggle. I haven’t read any of the books or even watched a single movie.
You see, I’ve no interest in wands and wizards. But I do love a good “rags to riches” story. And that’s exactly what JK Rowling has.
A penniless single mum claiming benefits, she wrote the first Harry Potter book sitting in Edinburgh cafes with her baby in the pram next to her.
I LOVE A GOOD TAKEAWAY.
There’s nothing quite like finishing the week off with a Saturday night Chinese. We’ve got a great Chinese restaurant just down the road from us. Lee Garden it’s called.
Like many restaurants, they shut their doors in March 2020. Seeing out the lockdowns with a takeaway only menu.
But as restrictions lifted and restaurants started to welcome customers back on site, Lee Garden stayed shut. They were doing a roaring trade in takeaways but were in no hurry to start trading as a dine-in restaurant once again.
SPOILT FOR CHOICE
Life here in the UK has been slowly returning to normal. Restaurants, bars and nightclubs are in full swing. Social distancing has been dropped and even face masks are slowly becoming a thing of the past.
With the office, footie and pub all operating as usual for many months now, my life’s returned almost to pre-pandemic
Except for one thing.Travel.
ThE FASTEST MAN ALIVE
That’s quite a title to be anointed with. But if you look at his achievements it’s fair to say that Usain Bolt well and truly earnt it.
This super-speedy Jamaican sprinter won three gold medals in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, becoming the first man in history to win both the 100 and 200-metre sprint.
For some, that might be enough. They’d tick it off their bucket list, hang up their sneakers and take a well-earned rest. But not Bolt.
They don’t give a duck!
My little customer service rant last week got quite a bit of feedback. Seems I’m not the only one to have noticed the slip in customer care.
But not all companies are slipping. Some are holding higher standards than ever before. It can be hard to stand out in a crowded market.
Even harder in a crowded market that’s commoditised. Everyone wants the fastest service at the cheapest price.
CUSTOMER SERVICE IS DEAD
Customer service is dead. Or at least, that’s what you’d think based on my experience at my local car dealerships over the last weeks.
Both mine and my wife’s car needed a service, so I made my annual visit to the dealerships.
Now, as you probably already know, the cost of fuel in the UK has soared, so like many, I’ve been considering getting something electric.
never a dull day
What did you want to be when you grew up? A fireman? Astronaut? Doctor? Pub Landlord?
I’ll bet it wasn’t a freight forwarder? No kid spends their days dreaming about freight. You probably know my story by now. I fell into freight thanks to an apprenticeship opportunity – I could choose between banking, insurance or freight forwarding.
So cargos and containers it was. And I’ve loved it ever since.
Elon Musk Vs Teenage Boy
There’s nothing quite like the confidence of a 19 year old lad. When you’re 19, everything seems simple. You’ve got the whole world worked out and you can’t quite understand why adults make such a fuss.
This unshakeable confidence is what makes teens what they are. Fun, headstrong – and a little cocky.
Like you can take on the world – or a billionaire tech mogul.
good old billy
Bill McKibben literally wrote the book on climate change.
Back in 1989, when most of us were still blissfully unaware of the environmental issues to come, Bill bashed out a book, End of Nature. Thought to be the first book to talk to the general public about climate change, it’s been published in 24 languages.
But Bill’s not just a successful author.
Do you remember when Throwback Thursday took over social media?
I don’t know who started it, but for a few months (even years) it became a thing to share your old photos, posts and videos from years gone by. From your awful haircuts to the cringe-worthy posts of your dinner from 2009.
Thankfully, Throwback Thursday eventually lost its popularity.
other men’s wars …
I wasn’t sure i was going to write a blog this week. It seems wrong to carry on as normal with what’s going on in Ukraine.
I thought about sending some snippets of news about how the industry is being affected, how ships are getting diverted, imports from Russia blocked and the impact this is all going to have on fuel prices.
But when it comes down to it, that’s all small stuff.
like buses …
We’ve got a saying here in the UK. “It’s like buses…”.
We use it to mean anything that you’ve been waiting for for a while that then comes along in abundance. Like buses.
You wait ages for a bus and then three come along at once. Well, that’s what happened with the weather this last weekend.
SOCIAL DISTANCING IN A MOSHPIT?
A few weeks ago marked a momentous moment for me… With restrictions lifting and things starting to get back to normal here in the UK, I finally made it back to one of my favourite pastimes. Live music.
Now, aside from freight forwarding, I’ve got three great loves in my life: my wife (be sure to tell her I put her first on the list!), football and live music. Throughout the lockdowns I’ve been eternally grateful for the continuation of the beautiful game. Getting out to footie matches and enjoying a beer with the lads really did keep me sane.
But I have missed having live music in my life.
When I was a kid I loved a good story. Little red riding hood, the three little pigs, the gingerbread man… you name it, I loved it. But a firm favourite of little Chadd’s was always Jack and Beanstalk.
The tale of how a small boy battled a giant – and won. But killing giants isn’t just for fairy tales. It happens every day in real life – and football – too. In the beautiful game, the thrilling phenomenon of lower-ranked clubs getting the best of the elite opposition in knockout competitions is called “giant-killing.” And over the last few months, we’ve seen some incredible tales of unexpected football wins.
THE $176 Billion Dollar Joke
15 years … That’s how long it’s been …
I’m not a huge fan of the big screen. I love a good movie, series or documentary, but I’m more than happy to watch from the comfort of my own settee. Gone are the days of 4 channels and a 30 minute walk to rent a movie from the local Blockbusters shop.
Now, thanks to Netflix, Prime, NowTV and the likes, I can watch pretty much anything I want, whenever I want. So it’s easy to see how it ended up being 15 years since I last went to the movies.
With this in mind, I’m cautious to make fun of those in the pursuit of change, innovation and improvement. But there’s still some things that seem a little crazy to meSome of the best ideas are the ones people labelled as crazy. When the Wright brothers were trying to invent the first plane, people called them mad. Edison’s idea of a lightbulb was ridiculed and labelled a fairy tale.
The chairman of computer giant, IBM, is known for mocking the idea of “personal computers” quoted to have said “there’s a world market for about 5 computers” Oh how wrong he was…
With this in mind, I’m cautious to make fun of those in the pursuit of change, innovation and improvement. But there’s still some things that seem a little crazy to me.
bring your own booze
Never before in history has there been a British Prime Minister that has been so openly mocked. First, it was because of his hair – which, admittedly is ridiculous.
Then the internet was awash with memes about the time he didn’t want to be interviewed by a journalist so he hid in a fridge. Yes, you read that right. A fridge.
There was wallpapergate, in which some questionable expenses were claimed for redecorating his apartment (£850 per roll of wallpaper!) and the speech in which he lost his notes and instead filled the gaps by talking about how much he loved Peppa Pig World!
saint or sinner?
You know me, I’m a footie fan through and through, but this week tennis took the spotlight.
Serbian tennis star, Novak Djokovic dominated the headlines when he claimed a vaccine exemption to enter Australia to compete in the Australian Opens, a competition that he’s won 9 times in the past.
Upon arriving in Aus, border control claimed his paperwork was not in order and Djokovic was detained. The world was divided.
Christmas is over. The tree is down. I’m back in the office.
That can only mean one thing… It’s time for my annual roundup.
Every year in January I like to look back and see what happened in the last 12 months. 2020 was always going to be a hard act to follow. I mean, how can you compete with a worldwide pandemic, the largest ever bushfires in Australia and BLM protests all around the world?
Well, it seems 2021 said, “hold my beer” and rose to the challenge.
THEY THINK IT’S ALL OVER…
Is 2022 going to be the year we put coronavirus behind us & move into a brighter future?
When the clock struck 12 and we said our goodbyes to 2020, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. We thought the worst was behind us and that 2021 would be a year of recovery, leaving the brunt of the pandemic behind us. How wrong we were. As the months went on, it soon became clear that Coronavirus was here to stay. The pandemic raged on and the open/shut nature of the lockdowns caused chaos in manufacturing, freight and beyond.
Freight prices soared, containers became in short supply and the blockage of the Suez Canal cost millions in lost time, damages and shipping delays. In the UK, additional struggles with the mass worker exodus, taxes and customs complexities that Brexit has brought combined with lorry driver shortages have compounded the issue.
IT’S A TRADITION
Just a few more days to go until the big man in the red suit comes to visit…
Are you ready? Have you got your presents bought and wrapped, the goose in the freezer and an array of Christmas beverages lined up to see you through a weekend of excited kids and conversations with your Mother in Law? Only kidding. I love a good family get together at Christmas! We’ve got some cracking traditions. Every year we decorate the tree, don our Christmas jumpers and enjoy an eggnog or two on Christmas Eve.
But have you ever wondered where these traditions come from? And are the traditions different in your part of the world?
Can you imagine being trapped 2.5 miles underground? Surrounded by water, no food, not knowing if anyone is coming to save you?
You probably remember the story from 2018. Twelve boys and their football coach found themselves in a bit of trouble when the cave they were exploring suddenly flooded.
The water kept rising, forcing them inwards. Trapping them in a cavern nearly 2.5 miles from the entrance, and ensuring almost certain doom.
20 NIL TO THE LADIES.
Football is often thought of as a man’s game, but oh how wrong that is.
Sure, football is certainly more popular with the male of the species, but when it comes to playing it… well, the women are something.
Watch women’s football match and you’ll see no rolling around on the floor clutching at shins or fake sobbing their way to a penalty. Just pure focus, drive and determined talent.
POTHOLES ARE A PROBLEM WHEREVER YOU LIVE.
You’re driving down the road, singing along to your favourite Ed Sheeran or even Slipknot song when BANG! Your wheel hits a pothole.
You screw your face up, hoping beyond hope that the bang was just the sound of your wheel hitting a hole and that there’s no damage done except to your eardrums…
But a few more feet down the road you realise you’re not so lucky…
FACT OR FICTION?
MY car was frozen when I left for work this morning, that can only mean one thing: winter is finally here.
It’s a little late this year. Usually the biting cold sets in before Halloween and by Bonfire Night we’re wrapped up in woolly jumpers and complaining about the weather to anyone that will listen.
But this winter came with a stark warning. A warning that the colder months are when respiratory diseases thrive and Covid is likely to get a grip once again.
GETTING JIGGY WITH IT
If you’re over the age of 35 then you’ll remember the tv show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?
This hit series aired for more than 148 episodes, winning multiple awards and securing a place in the hearts and minds of people all over the world. In fact, there probably isn’t a Gen Xr alive that can’t recite the opening rap word for word…
The Fresh Prince wasn’t just a TV show that gave us all the ability to rap, it was also the show that skyrocketed Will Smith into the spotlight.
This week, leaders from around the world have gathered in Glasgow, here in the UK, for COP26. Biden, Johnson, Trudeau, Macron, Duque, Morrison, Bennet, Prince Charles… the list goes on…
Pretty much all the who’s who of world leaders will be there, with a few exceptions such as China’s President, Jinping, Russia’s Putin and the Queen (due to ill health).
The goal of COP26 is to address the climate crisis and it’s the first of its kind since 2019. And it’s excellent timing.
WHAT DID I MISS?
I’ve had a lovely break, ten days in Dubai, soaking up the sights, eating good food and getting some much-needed respite. But I’m home now – and it’s back to the grindstone.
Ten days didn’t feel like a lot – but in the fast-moving world of freight, it’s a big chunk of time.
In the short space of my holiday..
BRAVE OR RUDE?
After a few stressful weeks with the big move into our new offices, I decided to make the most of the new travel rules and book a last-minute jolly to the UAE.
I’m having a whale of a time. Good food, good drinks, good weather and good people. Yesterday I went up the Burj Khalifa – tallest building in the world. I’m scared of heights at the best of times but this was pretty incredible. What more could you ask for?
But there’s something bugging me. Something lurking that I just can’t get out of my mind… My inbox?
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT SQUID GAME?
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that it’s been a raving success.
Shooting the top of the viewing charts, dominating social media and overtaking the likes of Bridgerton, The Witcher and The Queen’s Gambit to become Netflix’s most-watched series.
I DID IT. I TOOK THE PLUNGE…
After nearly two years out of the local networking scene, I made my way to the Greater Birmingham Local Enterprise peer to peer networking event..
Now, this event isn’t your usual “brekkie and a brew” networking It’s a little different.
A FEW WEEKS AGO I TOOK A LITTLE TRIP TO THE BIG SMOKE…
If you’ve ever been to London, you’ll know how much of a maze it can be. Navigating the underground is no mean feat. But with a bit of planning and preparation, we found our way with little bother. Fast forward a couple of weeks, I’ve got a meeting with my IT support crew, just to touch base, catch up and keep that personal relationship strong after the pandemic.
We’re meeting in Birmingham, at the new Grand Central Station.
I BET TESLA’S HAVING A GOOD WEEK…
Thanks to our ever-spinning media here in the UK, we’re struggling with a fuel shortage.
Petrol stations around the country have mile-long queues, fights have broken out on forecourts, emergency service vehicles are unable to fill up and social media is filled with people begging for information on which stations have diesel..
So why the big problem?
FOOTBALLERS CAN GET A BIT OF A GOD COMPLEX.
Now, I love the beautiful game as much as any footie-fan, but sometimes these young lads success can go to their heads. Imagine, you’re 18, 19 or 21 and you’re already rich beyond your wildest dreams, celebrated by men and swooned over by women.
It’s easy to see why they can get a bit big for their boots. Take the four Premier League footballers who made the world news recently.
Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso made the headlines when their World Cup qualifying match was brought to a halt in Brazil because 10 minutes into the game immigration stormed the pitch.
As the story goes, the Argentinian players allegedly “lied” to immigration when they arrived in the country, omitting to mention that they had been in the UK. The result was that they avoided a 14 day mandatory quarantine. Now, how they thought they’d get away with it when they are very clearly playing in the UK on international television every week, I just don’t know. But alas, they didn’t. The match was abandoned and the players arrested. This of course prompted a swarm of “free our goalie” memes on social media and panic in the football community as the start of the Premier League is just around the corner. The lads were detained for a grand total of 5 hours, before they were allowed to board a plane and return home to the UK. I guess that’s what money and power can do for you!
Whether you think immigration was right to storm the pitch, or you think they were a little heavy-handed, the lesson here’s the same. Never cut corners. In business, it can be tempting to take the shortcut. To do things the easy way or miss out the grind that gets things done properly. But when you’re moving goods around the world you’re dealing with multiple countries, numerous laws and more red tape than you can ever imagine.
Get it wrong and your cargo can be detained – or worse – destroyed.
Here at Millennium Cargo, we really know our sausages. We never cut corners, we understand the import laws in all the countries we ship to and from and we only give simple, transparent advice.
So you can be sure that when you move your goods with us, you won’t get on the wrong side of the law…
WOULD YOU ROB A BANK ALONE?
As you know, I’m not a big fan of the news. I take great care of my mindset and I believe that everything we read, watch or listen to has an impact on our way of thinking.
The newspapers here in the UK are packed full of doom and gloom, super-biased propaganda. But every now and then there’s something in them that catches my eye – like the bank robbery in Brazil.
Now, just to be clear, I’m not at all condoning this robbery. People died, hostages were traumatised and damages were caused at a significant cost to society. The bank robbers are bad people and I hope they are caught.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them. While the crime they committed was terrible, their planning and execution of the heist was something else. They didn’t just rob a bank, but they planned and executed an exceedingly detailed heist that was – for them – a huge success.
With a team of over 20 people, they successfully broke into two banks in the city of Araçatuba in São Paulo state, damaging but failing to gain access to a third.
They cut off key access roads into the city with burning vehicles and attacked the local military police station to prevent the police from being able to respond fully to the robberies. They used drones to monitor the police response and strapped hostages to their getaway cars to prevent them from being fired on while they drove away at a leisurely 30mph pace. They thought about every single element and put a plan – and person – in place to mitigate the risks.
Now, it’s not yet publicised just how much money they made off with but I’ll bet it was a profitable venture. Again, I’m not condoning what they did, but there’s some lessons to be learned from how they did it.
As a business owner, it can be tempting to think we can do it all alone. That no one understands our business like we do and that if you want something doing well then you’re best to do it yourself. But in reality, if you want to get some serious results you’ve got to put a team in place to support you. Too many business owners handicap themselves by trying to do too much alone.
Here at Millennium, we’ve had a crazy busy summer. We’ve all been working flat out to keep our customers happy and we’ve seen some great success. But if we want to keep growing we need more people. We need the right team in place to make sure our plan can be executed and our goals achieved.
I mean, you wouldn’t rob a bank on your own, would you? So why would you try to run a business without the right help?
THIS WEEK IS A BIG ONE FOR US.
Millennium Cargo celebrates its 25th birthday today! That’s a whole quarter-century of making moving goods around the world simple for our customers.
As you know, I spend a lot of time looking to the future. Planning, preparing, working towards our goals… But with such a momentous occasion approaching, it’s prompted me take a look back at where we came from…
You don’t get many kids dreaming of a job in freight. And I was the same. I didn’t know what freight forwarding was: I wanted to be a pilot/astronaut/footballer like most kids. And yet, one day in December 1987 my life completely changed as I walked into Scan Dutch, CGM in Birmingham City Centre, as the new kid on the block starting out in the big wide world of shipping and freight forwarding.
It was luck – or fate if you believe in that- that landed me in freight forwarding. As I came to the end of my time at school I was offered work as part of an employment scheme. I had the choice of two opportunities: finances or freight.
Now, I didn’t know what freight forwarding would entail, but I knew a lifetime of crunching numbers in a stuffy bank wasn’t for me, so Scan Dutch it was! And I never looked back…
It’s funny how sometimes a single decision can shape our lives…
Fast forward a few years (and a few company changes) I decided that I wanted to go it alone. Fed up and frustrated by the constraints of working for a big company, I decided I wanted to create a freight forwarding company that put its customers first. That made freight forwarding simple and stress-free.
Millennium Cargo was born.
We started out with three of us squished into a spare bedroom that we rented in a lady’s house. We had no printer, a shared fax machine and it was a health and safety nightmare – I nearly killed myself tripping over the loose carpet as I carried the desks in! But the business grew and 25 years later we’re still here, bigger and better than ever.
So I want to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you to you, our customers, because without you Millennium Cargo wouldn’t still be here today. Thank you to our team members, past and present, who have served our customers and helped Millennium to develop the reputation of which we are so proud. And a big thank you to Ali, my longest standing staff member who’s been with me for 22 years through thick and thin. There’s nothing this guy doesn’t know when it comes to freight…
So as a new quarter-century commences, we’ve got some big plans. We’re going bigger and better than ever before. We’ve got a rebrand (Sneak of new logo above), new website and new digital platforms launching to make moving your goods easier than ever before. The team is growing, with two new members of staff joining us this month – and we’re moving into new offices soon too. It’s exciting times.
So thanks once again for your support over the last 25 years, I look forward to working with you as we continue into the next phase of our journey.
OVER THE LAST FEW MONTHS, THINGS HAVE BEEN A BIT ODD HERE IN THE UK.
Across the country supermarket shelves have been emptier than ever before and we’re now facing the cancellation of non-urgent blood tests due to a shortage of vials. The pubs don’t have their usual supply of bottled drinks, McDonalds ran out of milkshakes and Nandos had to close several restaurants because they ran out of chicken!
Imagine, a chicken restaurant without any chicken!
We’ve not seen anything like this since the run on toilet paper when the pandemic first started…
So what’s the problem? Is it Brexit? Coronavirus? Lockdowns? A zombie apocalypse? The answer is – everything.
The last couple of years here in the UK have created the perfect storm for supply issues. Brexit resulted in a mass exodus of workers with more than 1 million people, from fruit pickers to truck drivers, leaving the UK. Some staff are still furloughed, some are sick and some are isolating thanks to the “ping demic” that has occurred as we’ve opened back up. Add into this long queues at Dover, limited containers available for freight and delays at British customs and it’s easy to see why we can’t have our chicken and eat it too…
The government is being forced to think outside the box to try to solve the problems. Isolation rules have been relaxed, furlough is being phased out and the legal limit on the number of hours a truck driver can drive have been extended. They’ve even considered putting prisoners to work in the supply chain too – although I’m not too sure how I’d feel having a convicted murderers pick and pack my strawberries…
Sounds like a nightmare right? But actually, you’d barely know it was happening. Life continues as normal and aside from the odd, polite grumble or meme shared on Facebook, the British public are just getting on with it.
No milkshakes? We’ll have a coke. No chicken? What about a burger? No loo roll… OK that’s where we draw the line… We’ve learnt to be flexible. To roll with the punches and take each day as it comes. It’s been a good lesson to learn and one that will serve us in every area of our lives. How much happier will we be if we just accept the things we cannot change and make the most of the situation we’re facing?
So how about you? What’s been going on in your country? Any milkshake shortages or loo roll runs?
BACK TO THE FUTURE
When we think about the future of delivery, we tend to think about better tech, maybe cleaner cars and perhaps some self-driving vehicles.
But what if the future of city centre delivery is actually in the past? What if the answer to our pollution and congestion lies in something simple that’s been part of our lives for centuries?
I’m talking about cargo bikes.
Speak to any delivery driver and they’ll share the stresses and strains of delivering goods in a busy city centre.
Bad traffic, congestion zone charges, heavy delays and zero parking all contribute to an absolute nightmare job. But UK based delivery company, Pedal Me, think they have the answer.
A recent study, completed as part of a project called Car-Free Megacities, found that cargo bikes could deliver goods faster than their van counterparts – and with zero emissions too. Making it more convenient for the customer, less stressful for the driver and better for the environment too! These aren’t just bikes with a rider and a backpack, they’re specially built bikes with a trailer-like back that can hold up to 300kg of cargo. They even offer a passenger service too!
Now, cargo bikes obviously have their limitations – I mean, you can’t deliver a fridge-freezer, a sofa or a television on the back of a bicycle – but they could help combat the congestion in some of the world’s busiest cities. So what do you think?
Could cargo bikes be the answer we’ve been looking for or is the future still drone delivery and driverless trucks?
Who knew that a cargo ship could become notorious?
Just a few weeks ago the Ever Given finally arrived in the UK. Ever Given, now probably the world’s most famous cargo ship, skyrocketed to fame when it got stuck in the Suez Canal last March. For 106 days it sat wedged in the canal, blocking one of the world’s most essential shipping routes.
And as you know, the knock-on effect was huge. Ships got re-routed, deliveries delayed and cargo on the Ever Given was declared general average. After its slow and arduous release, the Egyptian government impounded the ship and asked for a hefty ransom – $916 million – for lost revenue and the damaged reputation of the route.
So what now? What will happen to the infamous Ever Given and its cargo next? Well, when the ship ran aground and was impounded, the owner declared general average which the insurers have rated at 25%. A huge amount of the cargo was fruit, veg and other perishables. These will of course be unusable and claims for insurance will be made. Much of the cargo onboard Ever Given will now be abandoned – and destroyed. However, some cargo is still on its way to its final destination.
Like the giant 10m high T-Rex nicknamed “Dino” and his Pterodactyl buddy who are still on their way to their new home at Jurassic themed golf course, Kingsway Golf Centre in Cambridge! These poor dino-dudes have had a bit of a rough ride but it’s great to hear that they’ll finally be reaching their home soon.
Now, I’ve been in freight for a long time. And we’ve moved some crazy cargo. From jukeboxes to classic cars, noodle sauce to rather rude teapots… but we’ve never moved a 10m T-Rex!
What’s the craziest cargo you’ve moved recently? I’d love to hear about it?
Getting up early, grinding every day, pushing your body and your mind to the extreme so you’re at peak performance when your time at the Olympics comes… only to have a pandemic cancel the competition at the last minute. The Tokyo Olympics should have taken place in 2020, but thanks to Covid it got postponed. What’s the big deal? I hear you say… They could just compete next year?
But it’s not that simple. Achieving peak performance and getting to the top of your game is incredibly difficult. Maintaining that level of performance for another year is almost impossible. But despite this, many of the world’s top athletes rose to the challenge. They kept training, stayed focused and came back this year faster, stronger and more determined than ever. And it showed.
There were some inspiring, heart-wrenching and truly amazing moments. There was the Dutch 1500m runner, Sifan Hassan, who was accidentally tripped by another runner. She hit the floor and found herself far behind. But she got back up, gave it all she had and still managed to cross the finish line first. There was the skateboarder, Sky Brown, who became Britain’s youngest ever medalist, winning Bronze at just 13 years old. There’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Barshim, the high jumpers who, instead of going to sudden death when tying, opted to share the gold medal between them. Then there’s Simone Biles who made the incredibly courageous decision to drop out of the Olympics when her mental health put her performance – and therefore life- at risk.
Whichever stories you followed, whichever events you watched, one thing is for certain: we can learn a lot from our 2021 Olympians. These guys faced challenges like no others. They trained in difficult and distanced conditions. They persevered through an additional 12 months of gruelling preparations. They performed in almost empty stadiums. Their resilience and determination are second to none. These athletes spend a lot of time training their bodies, but I bet you they spend some serious time training their minds too – you don’t win gold at the Olympics without a killer mindset.
As business owners, we face our own challenges and gruelling conditions every single day. We too need to be resilient, determined and persistent. Mindset matters.
So how much time do you spend training your mindset? And how do you do it? I’d love to hear about it…
Should They Mandate This?
Do you ever just take a break? This week I’m heading down to London for Darahs’s University Open Day. It’s a big deal for us because she’s the youngest. The baby of the family. And she’s getting ready to leave the nest…
Now, usually, I’d just take one day off and try to squeeze in a flying visit to get the job done. But not this time. This time I’m taking the whole week off. We’re going to take a leisurely trip and spend some time enjoying the capital.
You see, this last year has been tough. Business has been booming – but it’s also been a challenging time too. From the quarantined ships at the beginning of the lockdowns to the blockage in the Suez Canal and shortage of containers all around the world. The freight industry has been put through its paces.
Millennium is doing better than ever – but it’s not been easy. Now stress is just a part of running a business. You can’t escape it – but you can manage it. Over the last 25 years in business, I’ve created my own way of keeping things balanced. I take time off at the weekends, my emails are off as soon as I step out of the office and I take regular holidays with the family to get some rest & respite. In fact, I’m usually hopping on a plane right about now to spend 2 weeks at our favourite resort in Lanzarote. This year is a little different. Travel is trickier and we’ve no holidays abroad planned until things settle down. But I’m still taking a break. In fact, I’ve made it mandatory that everyone in the office takes at least one week off before the end of September.
Why? Because respite matters.
If you’re exhausted, overworked or under-played then you won’t be able to give it your 100%. Your work will suffer, your mindset will wobble and you’ll end up procrastinating or making mistakes. It can be really easy as a business owner to think that grafting is the way to go. And the whole “hustle culture” that’s sprung up recently really hasn’t helped. But if you want to cut a tree down you’ve got to spend some time sharpening your axe. Take a break, book that holiday and give yourself the R&R you need to be on your best game.
So what about you? When did you last take a real, switched-off break from your business?
Big Hairy Goals
How often do you look at your big hairy audacious goals? Most business owners have goals. Daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals… You probably have yearly goals too. But where do you want to be in 5 years time? What about 10 years? Do your goals for this week or month actually tie in with that big, long-term vision?
I’ve just finished reading a book that’s changed my thinking about long term goals. I’ve always had big plans and ideas, but my business has grown through hard work and determination rather than long term strategy.
When my financial advisor recommended the book, I was sceptical. But I’m a big fan of self-development so I hopped online to find out more…
A quick Google told me it’s for “business owners who whose businesses are stuck at a point where hard work and determination are no longer enough for them to survive and grow.” Bingo! I thought. I’m mega-proud of where Millennium Cargo is today. I’ve built it up from nothing and now we’ve got hundreds of happy clients all over the world.
But I’ve bigger plans. There’s more I want to do.
And he was right. The book is a must-read for any business owner who wants to gain traction and make big progress. One of the key things I’ve learned from the book is the importance of setting – and tracking goals. I won’t do the author the injustice of me trying to explain what he so wonderfully teaches, but I will share this… Most people play at setting goals. They sit down sometime at the beginning of January and write a list of things they’d like to accomplish that year. Then they put the notebook away and go back to work. But if you want to actually achieve your goals you’ve to get serious. You’ve got to take a long-term strategic approach.
I’ve been in business a long time. I know the importance of goal setting – but there was still more to learn and I STILL needed that kick up the bum to remember to make my goals a daily priority. So if you’re feeling a little stuck or unsure what to do next – or you’re fed up with treading water and want to start getting some serious traction, I recommend you read the book. It’s quite aptly called “Traction” by Gino Wickman. And I think you’ll find it quite worth your time.
Let me know what you think to it – but in the meantime, I’d love to hear what your big hairy goals are? The goals that scare you to say them out loud?
What A Scorcher
There’s something you need to know about the British. We like to talk about the weather. In fact, we’re a little bit famous for it. The weather forms a core part of every Brit’s small talk repertoire. “Bloody boiling today isn’t it mate?” “Raining again I see” “Did you see the weather forecast for the weekend?” If it’s hot, we’re whingeing. If it’s cold, we’re whining. And if it’s our normal “British grey” we’re complaining.
It’s kind of comical. But this week has been like no other. For the last 7 days, the UK has been blessed/cursed with a heatwave of around 31 degrees.
Now, I know some of you reading this will be laughing out loud at that number. 31 degrees? That’s nothing! We get 40, 45 or even 50 degrees!
I know 31 degrees isn’t really that hot – but we’re an island. And that means super high humidity. It feels way hotter than it is. We’re sweltering here and there’s no escape. The thing is, we’re woefully unprepared. Because heat waves are so rare in the UK, we’re not set up for them. We don’t have air conditioning and many people don’t even have a fan. Our houses are built for warmth, not heat. I mean, we sleep with fluffy duvets for goodness sake!
But that’s not the only problem – people don’t know how to behave in the heat either.
Over the last weekend, our emergency rooms were flooded with foolish people who had overdone the sun. Extreme sunburn blisters, heatstroke and in some cases life-threatening levels of dehydration. And it’s not over yet. Chances are by the time it breaks we’ll all be plunged into every Brit’s worst nightmare – a hosepipe ban. Yep, that’s a thing. The government actually make it illegal to water your garden with a hosepipe when things get hot and our water table reduces.
So, I thought this week I’d ask for your input. I’d love to hear how your country copes in the heat – and perhaps you could give a overheated, sweaty freight forwarder some tips to make the next few days bearable!
It’s coming home
After weeks of excitement, hope and anticipation, on Sunday night the England football team fought valiantly but finally admitted defeat in a penalty shoot-out in the European Championship Final. Pubs all across the UK were filled with cheers and tears as we let go of the hope that after 55 years the cup would finally come home.
But come Monday morning the nation got up, dusted themselves off and got back to business.
Now, I know you’re not all footie fans – and if I’m honest, I’m not a big follower of the England team, I prefer supporting my own team, Aston Villa, in the English Premier league.
But there’s a lot to learn from football… Setbacks happen. It doesn’t matter how good you are, how hard you work or how much money and support you have behind you, you will still suffer setbacks. The England team were on point. They’d spent their whole lives training for that moment. They had the money, the resources and some may say the best management behind them – but they still lost.
About 10 years ago, we created a purpose-built football training facility to house all 28 of the England teams. The men’s team, women’s team, disability teams… everyone. The facility boasts the best of everything. Set across 330 acres of Staffordshire countryside, the £105 million complex boasts a range of outstanding training pitches, state-of-the-art sport science and performance facilities, a four star Hilton hotel as well as an outdoor team building complex. It’s the Carlsberg of training locations. But despite all this – We still didn’t bring the cup home.
So what will the England team do? Curl up and cry? Drink themselves into a catatonic state? Nope, that’s just the fans. The football players will be back on their feet, training hard and focused on the next goal. And that’s what you need to do too. Covid knocked your business down? Failed to achieve your business goals? Fed up and frustrated with facing setbacks? Dust yourself off, get back up and get better.
Train harder, work smarter and remember, in football one missed goal might lose you the cup – but in business, you always get another shot. You just need to make sure you’re ready to take it.
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