Thursday, 6 October 2016

Surely there are more super powers out there

Big comics fan and a subject I have touched occasionally on in this blog. As the regular visitors will know.

I've watched with interest the new Netflix Marvel shows : Daredevil seasons one and two, Jessica Jones and now Luke Cage (with The Punisher, Iron Fist and then Defenders all to follow along with likely season three of DD and 2 of JJ). All great fun and interesting if a little worthy sometimes. Certainly a noteworthy interlude to the Cinematic Universe and frankly low brow crap that is 'Agents of Shield'.

However one thing is bugging me. Considering the street level antics of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage why oh why do JJ and LC basically have the same super powers (I know why they have them in the comics - that's not the question I'm asking - I want to know why out of all the Marvel characters they could have chosen they chose Jessica and Luke given their nearly identical power set). Now I know they are subtly different - Jessica is strong (and at least in comics) can kind of fly/jump real high and Luke Cage is bullet proof, really strong oh and can jump really high ....

Aside from the invulnerability (incidentally a shot gun real close is still a problem for Luke) the power set is boringly similar to the point where any fight involving Jessica or Luke is usually identical involving bashing people into walls or roofs or throwing them out a window. When the characters fought each other the similarity is brought home even more - in JJ when the two fought whilst Luke was mind controlled by Kilgrave they ended up in almost a stalemate - not only are they super strong they almost identically super strong. Yawn. They also chucked each other threw walls, a lot of walls. I bet their set designer hates plastering fake walls by now.

Don't get me wrong the hip hop and retro blaxploitation vibe of Luke Cage, as well as homage to the characters slightly dubious backstory within the Marvel Comics universe is excellent and perfectly judged. I just wonder now if a non-powered marital arts fighting character like Iron Fist is going to end up so similar to Daredevil that we have the same thing again. Wait though Daredevil has a unique gimmick - he's blind and has radar sense, then again Iron Fist can channel his chi into an unstoppable iron fist strike - ho hum.

Fitness as a metaphor for business

Setting up a business is like getting fit.

When it all begins at first you are excited, determined to succeed and there's always a reason for doing it. You want to be healthier, shed a few pounds, lose the holiday weight. You need too earn money, convert an idea into reality and impose your business idea on the world - make your business a reality or turn your body into a finely tuned mass of muscle.

For the first few weeks and months it all goes great. If you stick at it things go well. If you shirk you will fail. The analogy holds.

Slackers fail early on but getting fit and starting the business go well. In the early days you lose weight quickly. Similarly those early business tasks are quick and easy rent an office, buy in stock, design a website, call a few potential clients. This can all be done in the first few weeks.

That's the problem though - the low hanging fruit. It's too easy to be beguiled by early success. In business the limited company is set up along with the Linkedin profile and you pick up a couple of clients early on. Maybe these clients are acquaintances or family/friends. They provide enough income to get you through the first quarter. Or you're healthier and try that first 10K race and manage to finish in a reasonable time.

Three months, or six months or a year on and now we are in a totally different situation. We're now maintaining our fitness or running the neophyte but growing business. Totally different set of skills are now required, more technical often and definitely needing a different mindset.

Once you're at a reasonable level of health you need to maintain things, ensure that your training regimen is pushing you forward not back. Different types of training - running, martial arts, cross training, walking all needed to make sure that next time the 10K is competitive.

The business is ticking along but you need to maintain what you have, keep existing clients and find more - the quick wins of early on are over and then, disaster. you lose an early client or fail to win a deal you expected to be easy.

To finish over-egging this analogy, you are days before that third 10K and you pull a hamstring. Maybe the training was too much (working too long hours) or perhaps you are over prepared (you have been bugging that existing client for an answer on an extension to your contract) or (in some ways worse) you stumbled unexpectedly in a ditch whilst jogging - just lost a client through external circumstances beyond your control.

Point is, setting up in business is like getting fit. Running a business is like staying fit - you need to be constantly be on your game, changing things up, trying new techniques and always preparing for the unexpected injury.

Discuss .....

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

EDC Update

Have a made a few changes/updates to my personal every day carry as per the photo below :

My EDC - October 2016
So we have the following :

  • Iphone 7 Plus in a Spigen 'Rugged Armour' case
  • Mpow Swift blue tooth headphones
  • Credit Card sized leather wallet (£ 9.99 from a garden centre !)
  • Paracord bracelet with fishing line and firestarter
  • Victorinox 'Huntsman' knife - this lives in my bag - too bulky for EDC
  • LED Lanser mini flashlight & case
  • Victorinox 'Spartan' knife - compact and tidy, really good to have on hand
  • minimum keys I can get away with
  • Apple Watch V1.0 for training, notification and of course - telling the time

Still looking at additional updates, not happy with keys floating loose in front jean pocket so in the market for some kind of keychain/carabiner and also although I love the utility of the Spartan knife and use it daily I want another small pocket knife so I have one spare for running/walking in the woods to keep with workout gear etc. - considering a low cost folding blade that I can afford to misplace - have ordered a CRKT Journeyer to see what it's like but might return if I can't get on with it.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Personal medical insurance

Some weeks ago I put together and posted a blog post here about corporate wellness, positing the question as to whether companies really need to bother about the health of employees in terms of putting in place medical insurance and other health related schemes.

This has been the most popular post I've ever put up at this blog and I have picked up several corporate enquiries on the back of it.

This has gotten me wondering if the same issues hold true in the personal market. Pondering this I think a different approach intellectual approach is required. In essence these products when bought for an individual  or family are not really a financial purchase (except insofar as they cost money to buy) but rather a purchase born out of sometimes quite selfish personal needs.  The exact reason will vary from person to person - perhaps a bad experience with the NHS or a relative who needed care and didn't receive it. A worry about hospital acquired infections. Any number of factors can come into play.

So imagine one is considering buying a new private medical insurance plan. What does one get ? Well instant access to (depending on the cover purchased and underwriting) pretty much any medical treatment or procedure that you might need with the doctor and private hospital of your choice. This access can have a large impact on how one sources medical treatment and the knock on effect that being ill has for you and your family.

So for private treatment generally there is no NHS waiting list, nor long waits in an out-patient clinic waiting room rather instant access to the top doctor when you need it in nice surroundings.

For personal purchasers of medical insurance this type of plan then is a personal choice that can have enormous positive impact on the ability to plan necessary treatment around your work and family life and know that the best treatment is there as and when you need it - so all in all a different scenario to a corporate sale.

The other thing to bear in mind with regards to personal PMI is the cost - often it costs a lot less than people imagine. I've just done a report for a client today aged 27 and for him, prices (for a mid-range plan) vary from £ 30 to 45 per month - most people over-estimate the costs of medical insurance and it can be a lot less than you imagine especially if we look at decent cover but with a higher excess.

For more information contact : Phil Knight, Independent Healthcare Consultant - 07792 075748 or

Monday, 19 September 2016

PMI for a new company

Ok, so you're running a small business for the first time.

The office lease is signed off, two or three key staff in place and you have that idea burning a hole in your brain.

What do you need next. Well certainly not buy company private medical insurance (PMI). Well not yet anyway.

But you will at some point in the future and here's why ...

At some time though in the next 18 months you're likely to have a health issue for yourself or one of those key people you need to make that business idea real. Hopefully it won't be too serious, perhaps someone won't be able to get to work because they're ill or waiting for a minor procedure. It might not be business critical and cost you money or clients, this time. Maybe next time though it could be.

Put simply you simply can't have vital team members sitting on NHS waiting lists only able to work part time or at less than maximum capability and that's when you might call someone like me to talk about medical insurance.

If you were to call me we would talk products and numbers, prices and excesses.  In reality medical insurance isn't really facts and figures and technical specifications. It's about the health of your business and it's human capitol.

Friday, 16 September 2016

New podcast widget on my blog - listen to PMICast from the comfort of your desktop

Over the years I have played around with my two podcasts : PMICast, a business podcast focusing on private medical insurance , primarily for my introducer clients and 'Where's Wilson' my occasional SF and Fantasy 'cast.

Of the two PMICast has been the most productive with 67 episodes available for download. Time and expansion of the business haven't really allowed much time for this kind of fairly labour intensive social media work but I do think that it is time I stepped back up and began thinking about getting PMICast up and running again. With that in mind I have just put a widget back on the blog that links to my pod bean website and from the widget your can play any of my podcasts straight from the desktop so please have a play around and listen to a couple.

In addition I am planning to revamp the podcast, making it a little shorter, (hopefully) getting a little more regular - probably every two weeks and looking to make the content more consumer focused rather than all about the IFA and introducer side of things. so watch out for that coming to a pod catcher near you.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Do you have personal medical insurance ? Or PMI tricks of the trade

If you're insured via a company scheme you still need to keep reading this post - you never know when you might leave, get made redundant, stop being eligible, set up your own business and you might need the cover I'm about to talk about too !

So do you have PMI - 'Private Medical Insurance - in place ?

If you're not in a medical insurance scheme through work you really need to think about whether you need this kind of cover. Broadly medical insurance pays for all eligible secondary care - so usually no GP related services but (depending on the plan benefits you have) all secondary care that is required afterwards - seeing a consultant, having diagnostic tests, any in-patient and day case treatment you might need and then follow ups and therapy afterwards.

Does that sound like something you might be interested in ? If so here are some additional factors or 'tricks of the trade' (from a 22 year veteran of the medical insurance industry) for you to consider :

Waiting lists - for people who need treatment in hospital waiting on an NHS waiting list can be both inconvenient and painful and with PMI there are no waits, you just book your consultation and treatment (once the insurer authorises it) with the consultant. Some insurers ask you to visit a particular doctor but many allow the choice of any consultant which means you and your GP find you the right clinician for your exact health requirements.

Specialist attention - within the private healthcare system you will never see a junior doctor. You will always receive the best attention of the senior doctor. This specialist attention is a vital point and many nurses and support staff in private hospitals enjoy the reassurance of knowing that their doctor colleagues are experienced and at the very top of their game as obviously do the patients.  The ratio of nurses to their patients in private clinics is also high so this doesn't hurt either !

Cleanliness - private hospitals have a deserved reputation for excellent cleanliness. In particular infection rates for hospital acquired infections (which all treatment providers are required to report) are considerably lower in the private sector. The insurer : BUPA reported recently that over 65% of people note hospital clean-ness as a factor when purchasing the cover. In short private hospitals can afford a much more intensive and effective infection surveillance program

Ease of access and worklife balance - the above factors mean that for certain people not having private medical isn't isn't an option. If you need to juggle a busy work and home life one simply cannot afford to be unable to access medical treatment quickly and conveniently.

If your job has any kind of level of responsibility then most couldn't simply wait on an NHS list to see a consultant and not be able to work. More so, taking off time during work for many at all career levels is difficult - with PMI you plan which doctor you see and when.

Flexibility and affordability of cover - modern medical insurance plans offer an enormous range of plan options and I can almost always find some cover for people that ticks most of the boxes we've discussed above. PMI is actually an awful lot more affordable than most people think, especially given the actual costs of private treatment when you look into it.

So there lots of things to think about and I'm passionate about this, the number of clients who come up to me after getting sick and wanting the cover but of course by that stage the conditions they need to be covered for will possibly be excluded by underwriting - NOW is the time to act and not after you have a live medical problem.

Generally, however old you are the cover is probably going to be less than you might think for a plan that is at least halfway decent and it is vital that you speak to an independent broker like myself to find out which cover and which insurer might suit you.

Over the last six years of running my own private medical insurance advisory practice I have advised hundreds of personal clients including many high net worth individuals but I recognise that regardless of income or age everybody needs to take control of their health and finances and my role is to facilitate that for you.

For more information contact :

Phil Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant
Part of Premier Choice Group
T. 07792 075748
@localventure2 on Twitter Or

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Do you need a corporate wellness strategy

In my recent blog post on the subject ( I talked about the different types of insurance products and support services that can assist your company with keeping staff happy, well and productive.

It's amazing how many clients I speak to who really do not have a wellness strategy at all for their staff, who in fact do not really give it any thought at all. Is this approach short sighted ?

It is not my role to bully or cajole clients into understanding that they do need a strategy around their human capital but to me it simply stands to reason - if you don't invest in your staff's workplace, mental and physical well-being then they will not be contented or motivated to work to their full capacity and inevitably they will take more and more time off work - it may be easier for some to think of this as a purely financial transaction, a little money spent in advance of the problem prevents future breakdown.

A little bit like spending money on maintaining a car to prevent it breaking down at a later date with a more catastrophic and expensive fault later on.

Although not directly analogous/applicable to this situation a friend of mine came out with an expression recently that although I had not heard or used before made me wish it was mine :

"Buy cheap, Be prepared to Buy twice"

Seems reasonably relevant and more or less covers my point above I think.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Everyday Carry

Whilst I was on holiday I was introduced to the 'Leatherman' series of multi-tools. Had never really heard of them before (see below, always been a Swiss Army kind of person).

As a lapsed pen knife fan (always wanted one as a kid but was never allowed and it drove me mad) I ended up ordering this amazing new (to me) multi-tool for use around the house, for DIY when out walking and so forth.

During my research (yes I really am that nerdy) into which model to invest in I watched a lot of YouTube reviews and as a consequence came across this an American phenomenon which has made it's way over here called 'Everyday Carry' - google it and you will, like I did discover a world of oddly OCD people who obsess over pocket bulge, the weight of titanium and the benefits of pocket note books versus smart phones.

Now do not misunderstand me, it may be a bit of an odd, even a fairly obvious, if slightly sub-conscious thing (who doesn't think every now and then about what they carry around with them on a daily basis) but I am finding it alluring. It turns out that EDC (as we proponents call it) is not just OCD by any other name but rather a lifestyle choice and it really does make you think about focusing on task and ensuring you have the right tool at hand at all times. Good idea for business and entrepreneurs me thinks too !

So on the surface it is a bit odd, however isn't it sensible to carry the stuff around with you that you need and ditch all the other rubbish that ends up in your pockets or coat or bag for no reason. I'm finding that as I read more it's about slimming down some items (wallets for example) but adding other items to your personal kit. I never dreamed of carrying a torch but my new mini flashlight is so much more powerful than the one on my phone, more accessible and a lot less power intensive.

One of the things you'll see on EDC websites is a photo of a persons kit along with a brief description. I'm a fairly new and to be honest slightly bewildered/half hearted EDC'er at the moment but here's my starting out kit as of today :

Nappy/Poo Bags - we have a 14 week old puppy - do the math !
Iphone 6 Plus - trusty work horse smart phone
Sennheiser ear phones in pouch
Cash for parking/coffee (maybe even a muffin ?)
Leatherman Wave - just to stress, this is not legal to carry without a good reason in the UK due to having locked blades - I only use it at home or when out walking in the wilds.
LED Lanser PSE mini flashlight
House and car key
Animal Wallet (due to be slimmed down !!!)
13 inch MacBook Pro 2014
Apple Watch
Fitbit Charge

Seems like a lot to me so I am planning to slim down a little although to be fair the MacBook only goes out with me on work appointments otherwise it lives in my office along with the Leatherman that sits on my desk and the flashlight which comes out for nighttime dog walks etc.

I'm looking for a slimline swiss army knife to add to my keys and be a fallback for the Leatherman for everyday use (have a Victorinox Huntmans for my bag on order along with a Spartan for my key chain).

Will update if this EDC thing proceeds - am finding it a little all consuming at the moment but if nothing else it encourages me to be prepared and walk more with the dogs to justify carrying proper outdoorsman type kit.

Nerdy, ODC, - you bet but great fun !

Monday, 8 August 2016

Welcome back from holiday

First day back in the office following just over two weeks away (Bristol and South Devon). Over the break have done a fair amount of client work so nothing too desperate sitting in my in-box.

Just had a call from Talk Talk (?), my fibre broad band and home phone line provider. They tell me that in the last two weeks there has been an enormous amount of data being used by my broad band account - an odd statement since I have unlimited data on my home account.

So I mentioned that wasn't possible as no one had been in the house for nearly three weeks. Ah ha they said. Someone can 'hack in' with a 'worm' even if you have a password and use your data.

So he then asked me what business I used my broad band for - I replied that was confidential, "fine" says he. Then he asks me if my brand band line was in use at the moment, puzzled I asked "if you're really Talk Talk should't you be able to tell me that ?" This was apparently one sarcastic question too many as the once seemingly professional caller told me to "expletive off" and hung up on me.

The lesson, never give out any information at all during in-coming calls without checking the source  and have some fun with them if you possible can. When anyone who provides me a service contacts me, particularly by phone but also by e-mail if the old spider sense starts tingling always contact them yourselves to check especially with people who should have access to phone numbers, technical info, bank details etc - there's no reason for them to contact you unless there is an issue and calling them yourself proves you are speaking to the company for real and not some scammer in a call centre in Moscow.
Henry the Cocker-Poo