Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year to all my blog readers

I am taking advantage of a temporarily quiet house (the family are out visiting my mum in law) and I have been able to get on with a couple of work tasks prior to the (no doubt) riotous New Years Eve we have planned (actually we are all going round to my wife's sister and her family to see in 2014 so it will hopefully be restrained although alcohol will be involved in moderation).

I also wanted to take the opportunity to put up one last blog post of 2013 which saw the re-launch of Localventure as my primary voice on the internet and thank everyone who visited (18,000 hits to the blog since February 24th 2013).

Please keep coming back and reading about my business and other exploits and I will be looking forward to updating you all in the New Year.

Best wishes to you and yours from Localventure !

Thanks and hears to an excellent 2014.


Friday, 27 December 2013

Working more closely with my IFA introducers

During the gap between Christmas and the New Year I am working on plans and strategy for 2014. One of the areas I am really keen expand and work on a little more is my relationships with my IFA and other introducers - people who pass me their clients to advise them on medical insurance.

I have many really good introducers and many more with whom I would really like to work more closely and in some more depth. I think one of the problems that I have had in the last couple of years is being busy simply 'doing' business rather than planning or expanding. Offering the service rather than increasing its scope if you like. So at the moment I am looking at ways of getting the message out better to my contacts and how I can be of even more assistance to them and their colleagues and of course clients moving forwards.

With this in mind I think the activity I will put into my introducers in 2014 will increase markedly and I will use this blog, LinkedIn and my podcast (PMICast on iTunes and at www.pmicast.podbean.com) far more to both support my introducers and increase the scope of support and information I am able to offer.

So please keep coming back here and to my other on-line resources if you are one of my current introducers or if you are interested in working witha specialist health insurance adviser in the coming year year. You can contact me via the podcast email : pmicast@gmail.com or use Twitter - DM me at philknightPCH or localventure1 or just be old fashioned and call : 07792 075748.

Here's to a busy and profitable 2014.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Apple OS issues

I'm using iOS 7 on all my mobile devices and Mavericks OSX on both my Apple Macs (one iMac and a MacBook Air) and I'm having massively different experiences.

On my iphone 5 the battery life varies widely but as I've gotten into a routine I am now consistently finding that an urgent recharge is required around 3.00pm as power plummets below 20%. This is as a result of using location services which kills power usage. However, given the range of apps I'm regularly using switching off all location using things simply isn't an option. Long story short iOS 7 is less power efficient in everyday usage for me. To be fair though I must say that I use the device constantly each day from phone to email to podcasts and everything inbetween but there is certainly a massive difference from iOS 6.

The bane of my life though at the moment though is OSX Mavericks. It has totally bunged up my iMac and made it virtually unusable. The computer slows down especially using Mail and any MS Office for Mac apps and can be virtually unusable at times. Every other day it requires a total system reboot which in itself causes problems as the damn thing doesn't always reboot successfully and around 25% of the time I have to safe boot and reinstall Mavericks - total nightmare.

Ironically my MacBook is thriving under Mavericks - it's working faster and the battery time (from a six month old newly installed battery) on a full charge has from 90 minutes to over four hours solid working time now.

It's a real hodgepodge of an experience and frankly I'm not that impressed by the consistency of the two new systems compared to their historical counterparts - I'm giving Apple six months to sort out their .1 updates on both iOS and OSX.

Just don't get me started on the new version of Pages and Numbers - what a steaming load of bull poo ! Anything that makes MS Office look good has to be awful.

Christmas episode of PMICast is now live - although it is admittedly totally non festive

Well its taken a couple of weeks but the latest instalment of PMICast (Season 2 episode 14) is now live on iTunes and over at www.pmicast.podbean.com.

Rather than go for Festive overload I have simply gone over some relevant issues that I've encountered in recent weeks and also highlight some important issues for both clients and introducers around medical insurance (and insurance generally) at this time of the year.

Please enjoy and recommend the 'cast to your friends and colleagues.

This is the last episode of the year and we'll kick off 2014 with a round up of 2013 and hopefully some FAQ's from listeners - so if there is burning issue you have around medical insurance please drop me an e-mail on pmicast@gmail.com.

Happy Christmas from all at PMICast and of course Localventure too !!!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Karate Grading on Sunday

Well I now have three full days before my 1st Dan black belt grading early on Sunday.

I have been upping the aerobic training for stamina and kata practice for, well to practice the kata's. Haven't been able to do as much as I would like due to pressure of work for what seems like weeks but I would say I'm 90% fit and hopefully know enough to have a very good go at the grading.

This of course is my second black belt grading. In my previous style I was a senior black belt (style called Tai Sabaki Do - the way of the avoiding body - this club is unfortunately now closed and I re-started in Shukokai karate at my present club in early 2010) and took my first black belt in 1986 at the age of 16 and then a second dan grading in 1992. So its now over 20 years and I'm raring to go.

Perhaps I'm not as fast or as fit as I was in my teens and twenties but what I lack in speed I make up for in power (I'm certainly a little heavier than I was back then) and also a little wiser - now I sit back and watch a little more than I did previously - still expect to be (almost literally) working to the point of nausea on Sunday.

Wish me luck and assuming I survive the experience I will of course report back next week.


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Trending on Twitter

For what it's worth, apparently at some stage yesterday a tweet of mine trended in the UK.

I'm not sure what the value of this is either personally or to my business (the tweet referred to a post here on Localventure although it was a brief film review rather than a business post).

So I trended but didn't get any more traffic to the post. It leaves me wondering what the value of Twitter is from a business perspective - you can write the most incisive and relevant 140 character tweets (not that I'm claiming necessarily to be especially one or the other) and even if your tweet receive some public attention what is the value ?

Maybe it's just the ability to write a post like this and say that I officially (at least according to Twitter) trended and maybe over time more people will being to follow me and find out about my business - worth a try !

So, subscribe to the twitter accounts (@localventure1 and @philknightpch) and this blog at www.localventure.blogspot.com - officially a trending content provider !!!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Hunger Games - Catching Fire

Seen the second in the Hunger Games trilogy today and was very impressed, clever and well thought out continuation of the original movie. Builds on the premise, which whilst not exactly original (Battle Royale anyone?) was certainly exciting. The sequel takes a more 'grown up' approach with all the protagonists older and if not wiser then more capable killing machines.

Great set pieces once we get into the hunger games proper (the deux ex machina to get the lead characters back into the game isn't necesarily the best thought out but begins to create a head of steam for the David versus Goliath theme that seems to be building for third film) and despite the slight plot hole in how Catnes escapades from the dome and is rescued, the slight twist at the end and off screen destruction of District 12 creates an effective ending and rationale for the trilogies culmination.

When an extra is taken outside in the first 15 minutes of the movie and shot in the head for raising his hand in protest you know you're in for something a little more brutal than average Hollywood fare. Both more thought provoking and exciting in than your average 'children's' movie.

Excellent pace, great acting and characters and enough action to keep the kids happy, except this really isn't a film for kids.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Been another busy week

Well, although I have an episode of PMICast prepped and ready to record I just haven't had the change to get it uploaded this week. Following on from my post midweek about pipelines I'm just too busy with December/January client renewals and prospective cases for the next few weeks to get the podcast done.

Next week is looking fairly stacked too, have a day off with Mrs Localventure on Monday X-Mas shopping and then a variety of urgent client issues to sort next week but hopefully will have time to get the new episode recorded and live - watch this space.

Hopefully some exciting new ideas and developments in business again next year - so 2014 is looking like another hectic and enjoyable year.

Stay tuned !

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

An ode to my pipeline

When you first set up a business you don't necessarily realise that whatever you do : insurance adviser, Marilyn Monroe Impersonator or Ear Wig removal expert that the most important thing you need to do is to find new clients.

Without clients you have nothing to do, no service to provide and of course no income. Most new or immature businesses fail because of cash flow and this is due in no small part to lack of sales and marketing effort on the first six to twelve months.

So whatever service or product you provide you need clients - to locate them, segment them, attract them and of course convert them to new business. One olde worlde but I think invaluable tool is the new business pipeline.

My pipeline follows on from my marketing efforts and lists prospects who have been referred to me or replied to advertising, lists the stage of the sales process and their propensity to buy. My pipeline is the most important thing I work on every day, with the possible exception of marketing work which of course is designed to increase the size of the pipeline.

The pipeline must be constantly fed, worked on, massaged and converted - it is a cruel mistress sometimes but believe me it is a necessary evil and love it or hate it, if you run your own business you need one.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Return on investment (ROI) on medical insurance

I've been thinking about the prospective returns on medical insurance for companies.

Given that (according to a survey by Price Waterhouse Cooper in July 2013) each UK employee takes off 9.1 sick days per annum having some kind of sickness absence policy backed up by a health/medical insurance employee benefit scheme must be a worthwhile investment for a business. Even a reduction of half or a single day created by medical insurance from that 9.1 total figure across the employee payroll will have a massive financial effect. 

Figures from the states (Harvard medical school I think) suggest that for every one dollar spent on health related insurance saves a business $ 2.73 per annum.

When one adds in the the positive effects of medical insurance as a recruitment and retention tool and as a valued staff perk it becomes difficult to see medical insurance as anything other than a definite "no brainer".

For assistance with either new PMI or a review of your existing group plan call me on : 07792 075748 or e-mail : philknight@pch.uk.com


Monday, 2 December 2013

Really thinking through a process

When requesting company medical insurance quotes from UK private medical insurance companies there is a lot of data to capture and present to insurers. Some of them need more or less than others and some have their own standardised versions of quote request forms that mean sending one request to multiple insurers means a fair amount of work on my part.

Every now and then I miss something and need to send an additional bit of data before the figures can be calculated by the insurer. This isn't a problem but if there is a delay when requesting this missing data or in spotting it at all there is a delay (in which I am obviously culpable, but a delay nonetheless) it obviously causes me issues in terms of getting reports over to clients.

One insurer though - BUPA, interestingly seems to check the requests they receive as they arrive in their quote mailbox and not two or three days later when the e-mail finally gets to the top of their 'to do' pile. This is a really simple idea, easy to implement that takes no more time on their part (after all the check has to be done at some point) and means that their figures often arrive much earlier than other insurers.

Really simple, clever idea.

Friday, 29 November 2013

New episode of PMICast now available. Yay !

Following up posts earlier in the week, a quickie post now to confirm that this weeks episode of the PMICast is now live at www.pmicast.podbean.com and also on iTunes - search for PMICast.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A dose of the ManFlu

Well it's been around two years since I had a proper cold but I sat in a meeting on Monday evening and felt it all starting - pounding head, blocked nose and sore throat tightening up and then like a fool did a full 90 minute karate workout yesterday evening, aided by performance enhancing Nurofen. The net result is of course I feel pretty lousy today and have been working at less than 75% of capacity today. This is of course why I've just finished my normal days work (at 7.30pm) and am now typing up a quick blog post - I really could have done everything I did today in around five normal work hours but I just had to do the work out and make myself poorly.

Still the main benefit of being 'poorly' is an excuse for an early night - after I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here of course !


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Watch out for PMICast episode 13

My usual day for posting the medical insurance podcast is Tuesday.

As has been the case quite often recently I simply haven't had the time to get the podcast uploaded so far this week. Hopefully it should be available tomorrow or Friday - the topic is the journey of a personal purchaser of medical insurance and hopefully will build on the discussion last week and be of use to professional introducers (last weeks episode, number 12 was my second introducer special). Anyone who is interested in medical insurance cover for themselves or their clients should check out number 13 when it goes live. I'll be talking about the information I need to price a new or switching plan and some of the process that I undertake as an independent adviser.

I will of course blog here when it is available so all my readers know.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Working with professional introducers

My podcast this week was on the subject of working with professional introducers and focused mainly on how to come up with the right kind of client to refer to my practice so I can advise them on medical insurance. The 'cast looked at segmentation/lead generation both in the personal and corporate space.

In addition this week I have also send out my November marketing missive to my IFA and Accountant mailing list of current and prospective introducers with some additional information on how my work can be for the benefit of both their clients and the financial status of their practices.

If you are a new reader to this blog as a result of either the sales e-mail or the podcast earlier this week then welcome. If you would like to consider working with me I would be happy to be of assistance.

One of the key issues I like to stress at the initial point of developing a relationship with a new introducer is building credibility. By this I mean that I understand that a new introducer really has no idea who I am or what my capabilities are. In this respect I stress two things. Firstly I'm always happy to have an initial chat on the telephone - this way we can see the cut of each others jib, so to speak. In addition I think it is immensely important to develop an effective footprint and strategy on-line. Although this isn't definitive, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and blogs/podcasts like mine give people new to me an important chance to get to know how I work in advance of considering if we can work together.

With the above in mind, please feel free to contact me on : philknight@pch.uk.com and I would be happy to send you on to any of my on-line resources or arrange an initial telephone meeting.


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Introducer Special episode of PMICast

Around 11.00am today the new ep of PMICast recorded earlier should go live.

This one aims to offer some information for current and prospective introducers and is to launch some enhanced work I'm planning with introducers in 2014 - the aim being to generate more leads for my practice whilst giving my introducers (and prospective ones!) more support and marketing info to consider.

In addition I'm also launching a PMI 'helpline' for any prospective introducer (with no strings) aimed to help them with any aspect of medical insurance - UK and international. Basically any query, any professional adviser has on medical insurance will be answered 8.00am to 8.00pm Monday to Friday.

For assistance call : 07792 075748


Monday, 18 November 2013

Damn lies and statistics

According to Yorkshire Water who wrote to me today they are making my money go further, investing their profits and really pushing to improve their service to their customers.

Given that as a carbon based life form I need water to survive this is a lovely thing and I really appreciate their kind efforts.

There is however a problem. According to the letter YW sent me they are having to put their prices up by an average of £ 22 per household per annum. Again this seems eminently fair - £ 2 per month for all this extra service and presumably 'better' water (although those pesky oxygen and hydrogen atoms always seemed fine to me as they were).

Still a problem though. My bill is actually going up by £ 8 per month which mathematically is a lot more than £ 22 per annum - in fact it is £ 96 per annum. I'm assuming I'm obviously not average - we have two adults and two kids in our household so there's clearly no way a family of four could even be considered remotely average.

Joking aside, I would contend that Yorkshire Water are a bunch of fibbers who in have fiddled the statistics to come up with a ridiculous rigged statistic that in no way reflects real life and are taking advantage of an effective monopoly position they have inherited.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Sleepless in ..... St James

Had a call from a poorly relative at 1.30am this morning and had to accompany them to St James Hospital in Leeds - they were admitted at 5.30am and I got home this morning at around 6.00am.

I'm finding the lack of sleep invigorating and would recommend it highly, maybe operating heavy machinery wouldn't be a good idea !

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Find out about underwriting on medical insurance

I recorded and uploaded the 11th episode in Season 2 of PMICast (the only medical insurance podcast in the UK) today.

This one features some information around the different types of underwriting presented as a 'frequently asked question' type overview. I hope that it is of interest and would ask you to post a review on iTunes (US or UK) if you like it.

If you would like to consider medical insurance please feel free to e-mail me on either pmicast@gmail.com or philknight@pch.uk.com


Monday, 11 November 2013

Question :How can you tell when a is lying ? Answer : When they open their mouth to speak

Recent experiences drive me to wonder if in certain occupations telling the truth is a worthwhile experience.

It's a well worn stereotype that second hand car salesmen can be economical with the truth and it is not for me to cast judgement or aspersions as to whether or not this is an accurate description.

I spoke to several second hand car sales people over the weekend and the representatives of one large regional company (who shall remain nameless) intrigue me. Their company stance is that their approved used cars are so competitively priced (they check their stock against other retailers both regionally and nationally and cut prices to be the cheapest in the area etc) that the price on the windscreen is the lowest they can possibly offer. The net result is that there's no negotiation on prices or part exchange valuations (because they know exactly what they can get for your car etc).

Assuming the above to be true and their vehicles are the cheapest, I actually commented that I'd almost prefer them to add a few hundred quid to the price they show on the windscreen so at least I'd be able to go through the charade of bartering and feel (however wrongly) I'd got a better deal.

So assuming this stance is accurate and this company is the cheapest in all the land, then I'd actually rather they'd lie to me so I could be more involved in the process. Not sure what that says about me, the company in question or the motor trade in general.


Watch out for PMICast coming to a pod catcher near you tomorrow - we will be re-visiting medical underwriting for personal clients tomorrow.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Autonet Insurance ...... NOOOOOOOO !!!!!!

Now I work in insurance and if I don't follow up client leads then put simply I don't earn any money. I however am not a 'hard seller' and I always try to walk the fine line between chasing outstanding issues with clients reasonably without 'bothering' people.

I cam across an insurance business who work to a slightly different process than this. This week I used the car insurance 'bit' of Quidco (the cash back website) to look at some insurance pricing options for either an A4 or Q3 I'm considering when I change my car in 2014. I unfortunately for speed sake used my real mobile number on the data collection of the website. This was on Monday afternoon at around 4.00pm.

Since then I have had six calls from the people who provide the car insurance service : AutoNet Insurance. Each call has come from a different phone number (one mobile, three landlines, two 0845 numbers and one routed through a foreign exchange of some sort) the aim obviously is to prevent the recipient of calls knowing who's calling and avoiding a familiar number.

They won't take no for an answer and keep calling - this will not work with me, I will not be bullied into buying from them and surely no one else will either - it seems a pointless and totally non customer facing attitude to writing new business.

Please avoid like the plague !

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Problem with Mavericks OSX 10

Had an annoying issue with my iMac running Mavericks, the new version of OSX. 

The system slowed down over the space of 15 or 20 minutes before lunch then stopped. First it had constant kernel errors (the spinning beach ball) then it froze completely. Nothing would rouse it so I ended up having to do a hard reboot. Then on reaching the grey screen the thing froze there interminably. I ended up having to command and R to OSX recovery mode and reboot from there having repaired both the main and start up disks in Utilities. The whole process from start to finish took over 90 minutes - given that I had a similar crash on installing Mavericks and had never had any previous problems on the same Mac with Snow Leopard, Lion or Mountain Lion I'm assuming the issue is with Mavericks.

With this in mind I'm going to reiterate my earlier advice from a previous post (following the install issues I blogged about) and suggest that current users of previous versions of OSX 10 hold off on installing Mavericks pending some improvements and an update to the OS, hopefully to follow soon.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

New (long delayed) episode of PMICast - my medical insurance podcast is now available

Well I've finally bitten the bullet and managed to record another episode of PMICast and uploaded it to the site and iTunes. Sorry for the delay - I think I've missed two or three weeks I think. The problem has just been finding time and a quiet place to record with relatives visiting, half term breaks and so forth - hopefully I can settle back into a more regular schedule for the rest of season 2. It may be that the weekly schedule was a little ambitious - so although I'm going to aim for weekly it might move to every second week instead lets see.

The new episode is aimed mainly at purchasers of medical insurance so please recommend the 'cast to anyone who needs new cover or would like a review of their existing plan either personal or group.


Monday, 4 November 2013

Introducer Support - how I add value

Followers of my blog and the introducers I currently work with rely on my support to assist them in advising on private medical insurance for their clients.

Why would an IFA refer business to a specialist intermediary like myself in the first place ?

Expert Advice in a technical area
Increased range of support for client 
Develop a new area of business
No effort to expend
Marketing opportunities and material
An additional income stream

In short, my aim to is to offer my introducers a holistic service covering all aspects of prospecting for, marketing to and then advising clients on individual and corporate health insurance products.

For assistance with any of the above - if you're an IFA, accountant or other professional adviser - get in touch to discuss how my practice might be of assistance.   

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Have you tried to update to Mavericks (OSX) as of yet ?

Following the smooth transition to IOS 7 on iPhone and iPad (although I'm still not necessarily convinced it's actually better than IOS6 as present) I downloaded and (attempted) to install the new Mac OS on my iMac and Macbook over the last few days.

On my iMac it was literally a nightmare. Firstly the update kept failing partway through download. I'm guessing this was an artefact of Apples update servers not being able to cope although I waited two full days before attempting the download. Finally managing to download the update the installing effectively bricked my computer. I was forced to start up 'Cmd R' from the safe disk partition following a hard reboot, even then the base operating system was only partially functional and when I final managed to get things working the software refused to install and I had to repair the hard drive in disk utilities before the install proceeded. From there it took another two hours to complete everything. I might 'review' the changes later but in terms of performance there is a definite dip in speed and I'm having to turn off and reboot the machine daily to get things performing at anything like 'normal' functionality. At the moment I wouldn't recommend moving from Mountain Lion to Mavericks until the .01 revisions to improve performance come through.

On the MacBook Air (an older machine in fact) things have been smoother and although it took some coaxing the hard drive (used for Time Machine Updates) resisted the update and I needed to move the back up files to enable it. Having done this, following some quick research on-line the update worked fine and the machine is actually working a little faster than under Mountain Lion. It did take some finessing to get the machine to update to the new version of Pages however (which incidentally I hate along with Numbers - too IOS with missing functionality as compared to the old OSX versions).

All in all I'd probably suggest giving Mavericks a miss unless like me you just like to be up to the minute !

Monday, 28 October 2013

Strategies for reducing the cost of medical insurance

One of the issues I find with clients who are over the age of 50 is that as they make minor claims on their medical insurance policy over the life of the plan the premiums rise disproportionately due to the claims effect on the insurers no claims discount policy and in addition age increases and medical inflation effects can mean that with two or three years a plan that in year one is perfectly affordable can become eye-wateringly expensive in just 24 months.

I'm having this issue with 2 clients at the moment.

The problem is that with recent claims it isn't possible to move insurers and maintain full underwriting for the member. The options then are three fold :

1) remain where you are and pay the higher costs
2) remain but reduce benefits with the current insurer to reduce costs
3) move insurer, accept the increased underwriting but use the saving made monthly to self pay any conditions that are found to be excluded.

Option 3 seems like a bad idea and in many cases it is, especially if the conditions in question are serious. I would never recommend a move if the medical problem suffered were serious or life threatening even in potent. However, the premise of this thought exercise as per my opening remark is the effect of minor claims over time.

Assuming minor recent claims, look at the following pricing scenario (which whilst showing rounded premiums is indicative of real world pricing).

2011 premium : £ 195 per month

2012 renewal : £ 320 p.m.

2013 proposed premium : £ 530 per month

For this client we have decided together to move to a new plan that will impose a couple of minor new exclusions but the new premium will be around £ 250 per month - less than their renewal and over £ 280 per month less than the current insurer wanted moving forwards.

In essence, the £ 3,000 per annum we're now saving would more than cover any required treatment should the old (now excluded)medical conditions re-occur.

In one sense this example is quite extreme and most clients plans do not increase by this amount so quickly but there are as per the above cogent strategies we can put in place when this happens.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Riding the pipeline pony

Being busy for the last three weeks or so you become aware that as the time required to sell, set up and process new business cases and renewals takes over the working day you have very little time to pro-actively market for new clients. The knock on effect is that as the new business 'rush' is over the pipeline for new cases isn't quite as deep as you might like.

The secret is of course to force yourself to work even harder when successful - its true that success breeds success and that the harder one works the luckier you become.

As a side note this is the 500th post on the Localventure blog and in the eight months since I relaunched  the blog to support my business we've had over 12,000 visits to the site - so thanks to everybody who's supported the blog.

Thanks guys !

Friday, 18 October 2013

No PMICast this week

I have been trying desperately to catch up with work to the point that I had the hour or so spare to record the new episode of PMICast this week. Unfortunately for the first time since the podcast launched this year I just haven't been able to find the time.

This does not mean the podcast is ending or in jeopardy, it's just I had other business priorities I'm afraid. I have spent most of today catching up with client chases, processing business and the like today and am around 90% caught up to the point where I have now diaried to record the missing episode of PMICast (which by the way is prepped to record) on Monday at some point.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed next week. Thanks for bearing with me and look forward to more exciting medical insurance related content next week as usual.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Save Escape Artists

I have been an avid podcast listener for around six years and an SF fan for decades. One of the first podcasts I came across in 2006/2007 was a weekly SF magazine called Escapepod run and hosted by Steve Eley. Since then the company behind the podcast has grown and introduced both horror and fantasy podcasts all offering excellent genre fiction to their listeners for free.

Interestingly all three podcasts are paid markets in so much as they pay the authors of the story professional rates for their fiction and as such have created a new market for SF and fantasy writers to get to an audience. Escapepod is the fourth largest SF periodical in terms of 'readership' now.

They have a problem - financially they rely on listeners donations to make the podcast and business work and according to Metacast on the 13th of October the money will run out at the end of 2013 as subscriptions have dropped.

As a long time fan of these podcasts and weekly downloader I have today put in place a financial subscription via paypal and would ask you to do the same if you're a listener to the podcast - make sure your weekly fix of SF doesn't go away and for propective new listeners - check out the above link and listen to some of the stories that are there for free and then consider stumping up some cash yourselves.



Monday, 14 October 2013

Getting up that bloody hill

Had to take my car in to car hospital this morning to have it's gearbox fixed. The garage I use was recommended to me by a family member and wants to charge over £ 2,000 less than Audi so I'm fairly happy with the decision.

Unlike Audi however there is no courtesy car option, so I drove my car into Leeds this morning from Yeadon - 8.1 miles precisely (as I just discovered) and dropped it in there.

The calculation then is, taking a bus after 9.00pm would consist of around a 20 minute wait then a 35 to 40 minute bus ride home. Or running 8 miles which takes a total of 64 minutes - so in an ideal world it is only 4 minutes slower to run and so I did.

All went well until the 5.1 mile stage and the long pull up from Rawdon Crematorium up to the traffic lights that cross Harrogate Road and the start of Yeadon proper. When you drive up that stretch you really don't appreciate that it is a long steep 2 mile drag up hill - fortunately I regularly run three to five miles so the additional 3 miles didn't hurt that much but I did nearly stop at that one point which of course would have negated the run completely.

Now recovering to prep for 90 mins of karate tonight at 6.00pm - must be mad.


Saturday, 12 October 2013

Lovely new podcast episodes for you

Make sure you get over to www.pmicast.podbean.com and iTunes to find the latest podcasts from me.

There's PMICast the only podcast devoted to medical insurance in the UK. This is a regular weekly 'cast and at the moment there are 20 episodes from season 1 earlier in the year. Then another 9 beginning in September with the last landing on Thursday of this week.

PMICast usually gets uploaded on Tuesday mornings and covers a range of issues around PMI for clients and also for introducers. We get around 6,000 downloads a month and if you are interested in considering medical insurance for yourself or business or if you are an adviser who'd like some help the podcast should be of interest.


Then there is Where's Wilson - this is a fun SF and Fantasy podcast I host with my kids, Megan and Ryan.

There are 8 episodes so far and each time we take a fun and irreverent look at various SF shows and movies plus some comics and maybe a little bit of martial art too for good measure.

Where's Wilson has a couple of episodes in its own stream (www.wherewilson.podbean.com) but the more recent ones are now in the PMICast stream too.

Why not search 'em all out and see what the fuss is about.

The new ep (number 9) of Where's Wilson should go live later today (Saturday 12th of October).

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Season 2 Ep 9 of PMICast (finally) goes live

Thanks for sticking with me as content has been so low this week and that PMICast is 2 days late - never mind the wait is over the the new episode with features on out-patient cover and factfinding for personal clients in the mix.

Please enjoy and remember to review on iTunes if you get chance.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Extreme business !

Due to my current workload I am not going to be able to get PMIcast up until around Thursday I should imagine so watch out for it later.

This blog is also likely to be quieter than usual - maybe place to watch our for me this week is on Twitter : @localventure1


Friday, 4 October 2013

Apologies for lack of discipline with blog posts this week

It has been one of the busiest weeks I can remember between new clients, new introducer meetings, trouble shooting more than one business, relatives staying from overseas, school governor commitments and so the long day continues.

One of the results of this work overload (aside from long hots!) is the dropping off a cliff of my social media activity which I do view as vital but has to take second place to doing actual work. With this in mind I just wanted to let readers of the blog know I am still here and will post as and when I can but the content cannot be quite as regular as usual.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

No blog post today - or is there ?

Well obviously there is a post today as you are reading it. But it will be a short one as today I am taking a day off (at Mrs Localventures behest) and we are taking her sister who is visiting from Germany into Leeds to see the exciting (Yawn!) Trinity Centre in Leeds and in particular to confirm my contention that the enormous 'Superdry' store there should in fact be called 'Superdark' on the basis that it has no natural light whatsoever and the flourescent lighting is designed to enable them to sell returned goods covered in makeup and grime without customers being able to tell this fact until they get home and their eyes return to some semblance of normal focus in standard luminosity.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

PMICast 8 of season 2 is now LIVE !!!

I habe just posted the latest ep of PMICast - the only UK podcast devoted to medical insurance - onto iTunes and at www.pmicast.podbean.com.

Apologies for the slightly lower volume and 'rushed' nature of the podcast - it was difficult to be as effusive as usual given my house if full of kids off school with the teachers on strike and also overseas family visitors too - bit of chaos and although I was keen not to break my schedule for recording I was also acutely aware I was potentially performing live to a hypercritical home team audience too.

I have listened to the feed and everything is perfectly understandable - please enjoy and tell all your friends and colleagues.


Monday, 30 September 2013

New clients, Tory job seeker proposals and new podcast

Bit of a mixed bag on today's blogpost.

Firstly, taken on several new clients in recent days and I know many of my clients read this blog so I just wanted to say 'Hi' to all my new clients around the country - it is always lovely to pick up new clients and I look forward to working with you in coming weeks, months and years.


This week is the Tory party conference in Manchester and one of the flag pole policies reported in the media today has been the proposal to force Job Seekers Allowance claimants to work for 30 hours a week or lose their benefits. This presumably would be in community style work situations : feeding the elderly, picking up litter, painting out graffiti and so forth. Several thoughts strike me about this suggestion.

Who is going out police the work gangs of hundreds of thousands of JSA claimants as they pour out of Jo Centres to blitz the British countryside ?

Is there enough litter for them to pick up ? Or should we let them pick up leaves in the Autumn too.

Where will they go for lunch, who is going brew all the tea when they have a break and if they get interviews for an actual paid job who will deliver dinner to grannies in their absence.

Would the elderly want a 19 year old job seeker in their council house painting their kitchen or indeed what are all the council litter and leaf technicians and painters and decorators going to do when they are put immediately of out of a job when this plan is implemented ? Well the answer is simple of course - they will become JSA claimants and be required by law to do their old job for free in order to receive £70 a week in state benefits - oh the irony - this could slash council tax budgets by tens of millions of pounds. In fact if we get JSA claimants to administer council offices more generally we could end up with the entire local government bureaucracy running itself with every 'staff' member paid £70 per week by central government and council tax then  falls to virtually nil. Smashing !

Broadly (in all seriousness) however I am in favour of driving accountability for those on benefits - I work for myself and if I don't work I literally don't earn and would not dream of using the benefit system but understand the need for it as a fallback. I'm not sure though that this particular Tory measure is the one to sort out those 'disinclined' to work for a living.


Last thing, the latest episode of my medical insurance podcast will go live tomorrow morning - you can find it on iTunes -  just search for PMICast or visit www.pmicast.podbean.com

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Buying a new fridge freezer

Had to buy a new fridge freezer today and it is really striking that for less than £ 1,000 the American style fridge freezer options are literally super cheap and plasticky and as soon as you go over the mystical grand barrier the options suddenly become sleeker, nicer more well built and so forth - it's also really annoying that when we designed our kitchen in 2004 that we included a built in alcove for a large fridge otherwise we could probably have gotten away with two independent unitsfor much less. 

Let's also hope that the next one lasts a little more than nine years - I think that's not great for a major applicance especially when you consider that over the nine years it has cost us several hundred pounds to keep it going over the three or four faults it developed.

Still looking on the positive side my new fridge freezer is sleek and sexy and has a special beer storage section - yay !

But just Don't get me started on my car which looks like it is going to need a new gearbox and clutch - ouch !

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Still working 9.13pm and counting

Been a busy old week and from my diary it's looking like a hectic one next week too.

Haven't had time today to put together a cogent blog post and just finished a couple of hours of client marketing tonight in a (vain) attempt to catch up/normalize this week.

So rather than write a post on something clever and erudite I thought I would instead remind my loyal listeners that the latest episode of PMICast, my medical insurance podcast is available on iTunes and at www.pmicast.podbean.com and of course make sure you check back here daily to find out what is happening in my business world.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Our You Tube Channel ...

If you are looking to kill a few brief moments during your busy, browsing day why not hop on over to my You Tube Channel : pkn439. You can visit using the following link :


At the channel you will find some general business videos, tech vidcasts and of course the video version of my PMICast podcast.

Please feel free to have a look and leave comments and if you enjoy make sure you check out the main PMICast podcast available on iTunes and at www.pmicast.podbean.com

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Get your lovely fix of PMICast while it's hot !

This weeks ep of PMICast - the only UK podcast devoted to medical insurance and related cover.

This is ep 7 and we are now well over half way to our first major milestone - which is episode 50 which will also be our one year anniversary (give or take) - not sure what we will do when (if ?) we get that far but watch out for news on it in coming weeks.

This weeks episode is a fairly quick and dirty overview of what's happened in the last 20 years of the medical insurance market and I hope that you enjoy it and find it interesting - certainly if you've been in the market for any length of time I'm sure you'll understand the issues I cover.

If you get chance please leave us an iTunes review on either the UK or US iTunes sites and recommend us to your friends.

Monday, 23 September 2013

What is the best to do list ?

I seem to constantly morph my requirements of a to do or reminder list for work.

When things are quieter (rare these days admittedly) I try to run a wholly electronic system. usually based on my reminders app on the iPhone/iPad that replicates through to my 2 Macs. However as things get busier I tend to devolve back to paper - I have now a regular to do list that segments off types of task (Call Backs, sales chases, marketing, urgent, low level etc but even that goes by the wayside when I'm super busy and I have two sheets - one urgent, one everything else.

Not very efficient or technology based but seems to get the job done.

The problem with the two sheet method is I do tend to lose the planning and stop thinking strategically so for example, usually I work on marketing five days a week (and both the phone and single sheet To Do methods support this quite well) but last week having reverts to the two /panic' sheets method I only managed to get two days worth out - whether this is a function of the system or the lack of time that drives me to that poorer system is a valid question - going to force myself back to a more logical and less rushed approach this week and hopefully the marketing will get back to normal.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The inevitability of a 4.00am alarm call

Why is it that following a nice dinner on a Saturday evening with lovely dinner guests and a few beers that you get to bed around 1.00am and then at 4.00 exactly your 7 year olds iPod set to alarm, hidden in your bedroom goes off ?

Someone could be in trouble today !

Friday, 20 September 2013

First thoughts on IOS 'hands on'

I held off for a whole 36 hours but did download IOS on my iPhone and iPad late yesterday to see how the new IOS 7 looked in and worked.

Frankly I'm a little disappointed. The feel is still a little buggy and apparently unfinished - the OS seems jittery and unsure of itself and not so well thought out or 'mature' as IOS 6 - as if maturity and functionality were something to be sacrificed at the alter of being trendy and colourful.

I have some technical niggles - like the new control centre that swipes up from the bottom of the screen but how can I set my audio going ?  Is it a single click from a locked screen (two clicks) ? Is it a click on home, swipe to open and the swipe up to control centre then click play (4 clicks) or is it using the home, then swipe, then into the app then find the track or podcast and then press play or is it all three ? Well the answer is I'm buggered if I know - but the old double click on the home button and press play on the most recent audio you had on in IOS seemed simpler and more consistent and of course no longer works now.

My home and lock screen pictures are too large and unchangeable. Irritating but not a deal breaker.

Deal break potentially though is the massive battery drain that IOS 7 seems to cause unless you switch off all auto-updating and location services - no doubt the IOS 7.1 release (due imminently I'm sure) will resolve this but wow - went through 100% power in less than three hours yesterday afternoon. In total needed to top up charge three times yesterday in around 8 hours of use where as normally on IOS 6 I managed around 10% per hour drain during my daily (fairly heavy) business and personal use - so at worst I needed to top up 15 or 20 minutes late afternoon to see me through to bedtime.

Today is better on battery drain -  I'm at 72% right now (typing at14.24) having got up and begun using the phone at around 6.30am. However, today has been relatively light use and I have literally switched EVERYTHING that works in the background off and all location services. Oh the compromise - it may be in fact that my diamond slippers are pinching a little !

Oh and app developers - don't take a good app, update it to IOS 7 and remove one click functionality and make everything work differently - change for changes sake is pointless - PocketCast take note ! You used to be able to see 'unfinished' podcasts on their own tab - this is gone, accessing show notes is clumsy and slow plus deleting unwanted podcasts needs neurosurgeon class reflexes to find the little settings icon and hit it with human sized fingers - apparently some app designers imagine we all have iPhone pixies with the nimble fingers and genius level IQ's to wade through their pointless changes and make them work again.

Rant now over - as intimated above I may be blowing this out of proportion but even on day two I'm not enjoying the IOS 7 experience yet - I will however stick with it and more to follow on living with the OS permanently in the near future.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

IOS for Pets

With the launch this weekof IOS 7 I wondered (idly) which operating system my pets might make use of.

I have a small daft cat called Molly (10), a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Jasper (7) who, in human terms, is clever and empathic and a Cocker De Spaniel named Muffin (8) who is lovely but as simple as the day is long.

The cat would run a raspberry pi (ARM/GNU architecture) chip - small simple, not very powerful but gets the job done.

Jasper obviously is currently running IOS 6 and we'll probably upgrade him to 7 when the OS goes to 7.1 (gets rid of the main bugs and so forth).

Lastly Muffin, poor daft, simple Muffin - dopey and smelly. She's running MS DOS with very little RAM and to be honest we wouldn't have her any other way.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

IOS & Hits today

Very excited about the new IOS operating system - looks extremely interesting and different and although I am an Apple Developer I took the decision at the launch in June not to download the beta version - my iPhone is too important a tool for me to run it with even slightly buggy OS.

My advice to owners of compatible devices is two fold.

First of all do not download it today immediately it is available. I made that mistake last year on IOS 6 - the upgrade comes obviously from Apples servers in the USA. There is limited bandwidth in and out of every country, their servers can only deal with so many requests at once and last launch day that particular information superhighway got totally blocked. To the point where, having started the download around 6.30 or 7.00pm (as soon as it became available in the UK) my iPhone ended up bricked for nearly 14 hours with the connection to Apples server dropping off part way through the update over and over.

The following morning it ran through in less than 20 minutes - so it's definitely worth waiting 24 or 48 hours for the millions of first day adopters to get it out of their system.

Secondly, if you already know what I'm about to say then this doesn't apply to you. But if you're a non power user of IOS devices consider carefully if you want to update at all. IOS 6 is a well thought out, fully mature OS - put simply and to quote Apple 'It just works'. You know where everything is and how it all fits in to your day and life.

IOS 7 is basically a total retool of the OS front and back - it doesn't just look different. Screens and settings are different and the way you interact with your device will alter subtly. There will also be issues in the first few iterations with things like battery power and data usage as there always are with new versions of the OS. Put simply, if you don't want to two to three week 'relearning' period on your device then I wouldn't bother updating yet. My advice would be to look at the Apple videos on IOS 7 to get an initial feel for how it differs from IOS 6 and importantly listen to two or three of the many (there will be thousands popping up in the next few days and weeks) You Tube reviews and guides to IOS 7 - they are a really useful way to get yourself up to speed on the new system and let others both guide you and make the mistakes so you don't have to.

I'm going to download IOS 7 over the weekend, have a play for a few days and then put a review up on my Tech 4 Biz vidcast in a little while so watch out for that.

In the meantime remember, you cannot rollback and downgrade from 7 back to IOS 6 - this means if you do upgrade it is binding !

Enjoy !

Monday, 16 September 2013

Episode number 6 of Season 2 of PMICast is now live

I have just uploaded the latest episode of PMICast onto the stream at www.pmicast.podbean.com and it will shortly propogate over to iTunes.

This week sees a return to our usual format following last weeks introducer special. It's worth mentioning though that from this ep I have now included a new regular introducer section.

Spamming my blog

As a business I use a fair amount of e-mail marketing and always try to be fair, responsive and ethical when people respond negatively. In other words, if you don't want to receive my missives you send me a nice e-mail or call me and I will very happily apologize for wasting your time and remove you from my marketing list and never contact you again as you would expect.

I would however, never spam someones blog - I now receive two or three of these a week :

michel jonathan has left a new comment on your post "Small Business in Huddersfield, Leeds and Bristol": 

This post was really interesting, particularly because I was looking for thoughts on this subject from last many days.
Small Business Loan 

Posted by michel jonathan to Localventure at 16 September 2013 08:47

The frequency of these spam messages is increasing and having seen other forums and blogs ruined by this sort of thing I can assure my readers that I have a zero tolerance to this rubbish and will remove them immediately.

Thanks you and normal service is now resumed !

The joys of public service

This week I am going to be less available than usual and wanted to put advance notice in the blog.

As a governor at my little boys school I am involved in the recruitment and interview process. This means that I am in school all day tomorrow (Tuesday) and then at the interview venue all day on Wednesday with a Governors meeting in the evening.

As a result I will have less time to be pro-active on the blog here (may well miss a post or two) and although I will be available for clients and working in the evening will have less time for social media and so forth.

Episode 6 of PMICast is in the can however and will be uploaded tomorrow as usual.

Friday, 13 September 2013

The End of a Busy Week

I have (it seems) managed to cram a fair amount in to this week.

I would like to take my last post of the working week to remind you of the highlights and low lights :

Hot - one of the busier weeks on social media for me - highest ever daily hits on this blog on Wednesday and Thursday - averages now looking like around 3,000 readers plus per month at the moment. The podcast (some details below) is now getting just shy of 7,000 listeners per month.

Hotter - excellent new business week - lots of new prospects, clients and good professional introducers - if you are new to me and my healthcare business (or my medical marketing business) - Hi there !

Hottest - new episode of PMICast - a special 'Professional Introducer' feature episode - had several comments from listener and really positive feedback - make sure that you continue to check out the 'cast - find it on iTunes or at www.pmicast.podbean.com


Low - still over 20 un touched to do items on my list

Lower - Apple IOS and iPhone announcement had literally no surprises whatsoever and for the first time in years I don't want nor am I excited about the latest iPhone ! (see my article earlier this week about why I'm sticking to the iPhone 5.

The Pitts - no one had yet responded to my frequent requests to put a four or five star iTunes in the US store - as I've mentioned both here and on the podcast I need some decent reviews on the US iTunes store in order to move forward with an important new sponsor with the podcast (Audible) - if you or anyone you know who listens to the podcast could see their way to doing this then please do so.

Thanks !

Thursday, 12 September 2013

NHS Sitrep

Another day, another raft of negative NHS stories in the media overviewing the status of weekend cover in the system (or lack thereof) and calls for senior clinicians to take charge, work seven days and so on.

Plus in the last week or so there have been the usual pre-Winter stories about how the NHS will not be able to cope as the cold catches hold and of course the inevitable deaths that will follow as a direct result.

I'd like to make two points. Firstly I work on a daily basis with senior clinicians and there is no harder working group of people in my experience. I often struggle to get hold of my clients, even at the weekends as they undertake extra clinics or are called away to hospital at unexpected times. In particular, Summer seems to be the hardest time, not Winter as they provide cover for holidays - it seems to me that the senior doctors are the ones who take the least holiday as they cover for more junior colleagues !

Secondly, the state of the NHS is supposed to be in the governments hands. The last time I looked the NHS was being reformed so that Primary Care providers (GP's in other words) would take control of the service, commissioning care for their patients and maintaining and controlling their own budgets. There have been stories about patients arriving in A & E and overburdening this section of the NHS but where are the GP surgeries in this - should they not be educating their patients as to when to use which service. Are the government driving the changes forward, who is responsible for what. In other words, have we ended up again with nothing really changing, the political blame game and continuing and doctors and patients alike really have no idea which way the NHS is going ?

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Karate Update

My little boy (aged 7) started karate this week, so as a big congrats to Ryan I wanted to say he's doing really well and put his picture up on the blog :

'Using the power of the Force'

Well done mate and keep up the good work and you'll be a black belt in no time.

My on-going iPhone story

I transferred to iPhone 5 from my old 4S on a network upgrade in December last year and have been running with it since then.

Love both the functionality and look of the device although have had some occasional connection problems with the phone and occasional crashes from both the Audible and Pocket Cast apps (happens about once or twice a week and the app just stops working and a switch on and off of the device normally fixes). So minor niggles aside, very happy. Obviously the launch of the 5S yesterday makes one think about whether I should update or stay with the 5.

To this end I recently took my phone out of it's super tough blue case :

I had put this case on the phone to protect it literally within a day or two of having the new device and hadn't spent anytime with the phone 'naked' - so now I've taken the clunky (though very safe) case off and substituting a light weight bumper :

This has really been a revelation - the phone is far lighter than I remember and seems more responsive and faster and importantly a more intimate experience. As I mentioned on Twitter when I first swapped covers it is literally like having a new device.

Taking this into account and also the advent of IOS 7 on the 18th of September I have decided to stay with the 5 until the 6 becomes available next year - I'm happy broadly with the functionality of the 5, IOS seems like an exciting upgrade and no doubt will again be like having a new phone. Plus I am not all that bothered about either of the two main upgrades : camera enhancements or the new fingerprint scanner - I'm one of the few who already use an unlock code on the phone and have no problem with sticking with this for another 12 months.

Monday, 9 September 2013

It's here - make sure you download the introducer special episode of PMICast

As promised and trailed heavily over the last week (welcome to new readers and listeners) you can now listen to the Professional Introducer Special Episode of PMICast - it is episode 5 of Season 2 and you can now listen on iTunes and at www.pmicast.podbean.com.

If you enjoy, please tell your friends and colleagues and please leave feedback on iTunes if you have the opportunity.

Remember that as well as this one episode we also have the first 20 episodes of Season One and then Eps 1 through 4 of season 2 - all available on-line as above.

Enjoy !

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Don't forget next episode of PMICast on Tuesday - for Professional Introducers

Just a reminder that the epsiode of PMICast i am uploading on Tuesday is aimed towards current and prospective introducer to my medical insurance practice so would suit IFA's, Accountants, Mortgage/Commerical Brokers - anyone who professionally advices clients and would like to offer their clients an outsourced advisory service on medical insurance. In addition of course you will increase your income stream in the process for minimal effort.

You can find the podcast on iTunes - search for 'PMICast' or at www.pmicast.podbean.com. The episode you're looking for is no. 5 from Season 2 and I expect to upload it around 9.30am on Tuesday morning.

For more info contact me on : pmicast@gmail.com

Saturday, 7 September 2013

What comics are you reading ?

I've been a comic reader since around the age of 6 or 7 and have an attic full of over 5,000 old Marvel and DC's plus over a 1,000 in digital format on Comixology (my digital comics reader of choice).

Graphic art and storytelling isn't a subject I've covered (in more than passing terms) on the blog before so I thought I'd mention it now and cover off what I'm reading on a regular basis.

Being honest I've always been more of a Marvel than a DC guy and although I read the DC staples in the 70' and 80's - Detective, Action Comics, JLA, Flash, Bats, Superman, Teen Titans etc I was always much more into Fantastic Four, X-Men and Avengers and certainly into the 1990's I became almost exclusively Marvel and at the time stuck with Iron Man and the FF mainly with a few X-Men and Spiderman books on occasion. In the early years of marriage (1991 onwards) and then into the noughties I dropped off reading comics for the most part, only buying occasional issues.

The advent of digital comics though has brought me back into the fold and buying an iPad 1 on day of release and now with my trusty IPad 4, comics are once again a mainstay for me. As a general rule I buy four or five books a week on a Friday evening as a reward for finishing work.

At the moment I'm especially enjoying DC's new 52 over Marvel - so I decided to begin reading from issue 1 of the following :

Action Comics
Earth 2
Green Lantern
Justice League
Superman Unchained
Swamp Thing

I have stalled with Action, Flash and Green Lantern - didn't get too involved in the comics and in particular for Flash got a bit disappointed with direction of the stories.

I rotate buying the other books so that I can try something different each week and because I'm behind current issues on these (I'm up to 23 on JL but only issue 3 on Earth 2 and 13 of Batman for example) it will take me ages to catch up to current continuity.

For Marvel I'm only currently buying Iron Man and Fantastic Four.

From the above list I'd really recommend Jim Lee's early issues of Justice League - great take on the DC big five or six characters, especially enjoyed the Flash/GL and Batman fight with Supes and then the later introduction of Wonder Woman.

The Batman book is full of great ideas and fantastic art but I'm finding the stories a little variable - I stuck with the Court of Owls story to the finish but frankly found some of it dragged a little - hoping the Death of the Family storyline will be a bit more consistent.

Lastly, I'd really recommend Sndyer and Lee's Superman Unchained - only first three issues out at the moment but the art is superb and Snyder seems to be bringing some mystery and genuine threat to big blue - so let's hope that continues to be as good.

Really recommend the Superman Unchained first 3 eps by Lee & Snyder

Friday, 6 September 2013

Help wanted if you have a moment

Most of the members in this group will be aware of the medical insurance podcast that I host on a weekly basis. Listeners will know that to assist with the funding of the 'cast I do now have a couple of regular sponsors. However, I have managed to secure a major new sponsor : Audible but in order to set up a bespoke weblink for listeners of my podcast to obtain a free trial to the audiobook service (which by the way is brilliant - I've been a subscriber for many years now which is why I'm so keen to get them on the podcast as main sponsor) I need to fulfil extra quality criteria for them. In essence I need at least one feedback on the US iTunes store for the podcast and my average rating needs to be at least 4 star.

I would therefore be immensely grateful if one of my listeners/introducers could spare 2 minutes to log in to their Apple ID account and on the US store leave me a quick review.

Many thanks in anticipation. To access the US store, go onto iTunes on your computer and click on the Union Flag at the very bottom right of the main homepage - this takes you to the country choosing page - just click on the stars and stripes. Then to revert back to your usual UK home page do this in reverse.

Obviously if you want to to leave a similar review on the UK version as well that would be super fantastic and above and beyond the call of duty !

Special Professional Introducer episode of the PMICast - next Tuesday 10th of September 2013

I've been pushing this on the blog and Twitter (plus various other social media this week).

On Tuesday I will upload a special episode of my PMICast podcast devoted to subject matter relevant for existing and prospective new professional introducers who may be interested in sub contracting their medical insurance business to a specialist health insurance broker like myself with the aim of offering a better service to clients and of course enhancing their income stream from this important and technical product class.

I've also mailed out an announcement of the podcast to my panel of IFA's and prospects so I'm hoping for a good listener base for this one and of course then it sits in the back catalogue for new prospects to find it too.

The 'cast will go up on our normal schedule on Tuesday the 10th and is Ep 5 of season 2 - will announce as usual but the easiest way to ensure you don't miss out is to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (search under the name : PMICast) - you will be able to stream it from www.pmicast.podbean.com or if you'd prefer, contact me on the podcast e-mail address : pmicast@gmail.com and I will e-mail you a link to the show.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Learn karate for free (kind of)

The karate club I train at in Leeds, West Yorkshire is changing our set up slightly to allow new beginners to join whenever they want and offering a special deal too.

If you're interested in trying karate for fitness, self defence, discipline and fun just call the Sensei (details below) or come along to the new beginners class as follows :

Details as above !

The class is at Yeadon Westfield Junior School on New Road Side in Yeadon (dead easy to find on google).

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me, I'm one of the brown belts at this club and have also done various styles for over 30 years - happy to help.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Exciting times ...

Following on from (modestly) what I think was the best episode of PMICast yesterday (search for it on iTunes or www.pmicast.podbean.com)we also had some of our biggest numbers here on the blog too. Over 100 visitors (108) in a 24 hour period is I think our best single day ever and continues the growth to over 3,000 hits per month now - please keep visiting and reading and tell your friends and business colleagues - the more the merrier.

I monitor the stats on the podcast on a daily rate and our 30 day figures have been consistently over 6,000 downloads for some time now - with the launch of Ep 4 of season 2 yesterday we peaked at 6,400 downloads. These are great numbers but I would like to get over the 7,000 level sometime soon so please pass the word if you can.

Two other quick issues to mention on the podcast - firstly we have an exciting event for introducers on the 9th of September episode so if you're an IFA, broker or accountant who's interested in help with sales of medical insurance you need to download episode 5 of PMICast when it goes live next week.

Lastly, we have been approved by Audible as an affiliate sponsor but to go live we need at least one US iTunes feedback entry and and average rating of 4* so this is an appeal to our US based listeners - if you have two minutes could you please leave us some iTunes feedback.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Are you a prospective professional introducer to my PMI practice ?

If you are an IFA, accountant or other professional adviser then you could be a prospective introducer to my medical insurance practice.

I work with a range of professionals, offering advice to their clients on medical insurance that is expert, focused and transparent. The client receives good advice on PMI, the introducer builds a growing new income stream to their practice as well as obviously enhanced support for their client bank.

I've worked with IFA's and other brokers for 20 years and have built my practice around this kind of subcontracting introducer support. Many of you will know about my medical insurance podcast : PMICast - next week (9th of September) and I am planning a special introducer edition of the 'cast.

There will be lots of relevant information and features to inform and educate - should be good stuff. The main aim is to help you increase revenue from medical insurance by irking with me more closely.

I've been talking about it on Twitter and LinkedIn already and will do so more this coming few days but if you fall into one of the above categories then keep an eye on this blog for more details. Plus subscribe to PMICast on iTunes and bookmark the streaming website at www.pmicast.podbean.com

New podcast episode - now available

You will now find my latest podcast on medical insurance on iTunes (search for 'PMICast') or at www.pmicast.podbean.com.

This is the fourth episode of the second season and today I cover some basic information on a specialist insurer for civil servants and also a masterclass on using cash plans as a cost control and premium reduction vehicle for small corporate insurance. As well of course as an additional benefit for the staff.

Please take the time to leave us some feedback on iTunes too if you get chance and also visit the websites of our various sponsors which would be of immense use.

As an update, we also have over 6,100 monthly listeners to the podcast - tell your friends, colleague and relations - the more listeners the better.

Our main sponsor at the podcast is www.podcreateuk.co.uk

Monday, 2 September 2013

Email problem and courtesy

Think on e-mail today.

Firstly a bit of a pet peeve - when I receive an e-mail that requires an answer I always attempt to drop a note through to the sender to acknowledge the question even if I can't answer the question immediately - although I do apologize for not always actioning dull admin tasks immediately !

Important or technical queries should in my opinion always be replied to, even if just to put them into a holding pattern.

Also in land of e-mail today I've been having some issues with e-mail on the Mac - some mails are coming in fine but others, addressed to my business e-mail account are appearing in gmail (where I aggregate everything) and on my IOS devices but not all are going through to the desktop on my Mac - very frustrating as I'm having to hop in and out of devices and forward mail into different folders which then do replicate over onto the Mac - bizarre as it affects one app but not others.

Help !

Friday, 30 August 2013

New sponsor for the PMICast podcast ... maybe !

Pleased to announce that from either episode 4 or 5 the PMICast will be sponsored by Audible - the worlds leading provider of audio books with 10,000's of titles available.

You'll be able to use a link to get one or two free books (depending on which level of membership you go for) then if you like the service you pay a small monthly fee to continue receiving monthly credits.

This is a sponsor that I'm particularly excited about as I have been a member of audible myself for around five years and I listen constantly on my iPhone - at the moment I have (according to the Audible App, invested 18 days, 4 hours amd 56 minutes to date listening to their content). I'm currently reading the first part of Game of Thrones on Audible and have just finished 'Excession' by the late Iain M Banks - once I get the relevant link sorted out to include in the 'cast I will introduce a segment and perhaps add in some Audible reviews and recommendations too.

Keep downloading the podcast and reading here for more information.

Quikc update on the above - slight snag, need to have at least one US iTunes rating (and an average of 4*) to become part of this affiliate program - if you're a US listener of the podcast would you mind doing this for us - thanks !!!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

An incompetent public sector

Without going into any details my family is having serious contact with social services and the NHS/care system as we struggle to look after an ageing relative.

Our experience is that the social services and local mental health teams are largely unhelpful and disinterested. Constantly putting barriers in the way of making decisions and essentially making life as difficult as possible - not surprising of course when trying to care for people who paid full tax and NI for their lives and are struggling for dignity during old age.

The impression one gets is that a patient or person requiring care is actually a burden rather than client to be helped - I think they (the various publicly funded bodies involved) are hoping that the family will get sick of the constant fight to get anywhere and simply pay for everything ourselves.

It is no wonder that scandals involving aged care in homes and hospitals and child abuse under the nose of social services goes on - no one will take ownership, no one talks to each other and the so called 'Teams' involved (no named contacts of course to speak to regularly) are either lazy - collecting their public salary for doing as little as possible or else they're totally incompetent.

Rant Over - For Now !

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Place holder blog post today

So insanely busy today that I haven't had time to put together a cogent or informative blog post for my readers today - if you're interested in something relevant you should probably skip this one to be honest.

So far today :

  • 2 dogs walked
  • 1 40 minute telephone meeting
  • 1 forgotten (nearly) cat vaccination - that was a bit of a blind panic and the cat was none too pleased
  • over 70 e-mails assessed or replied to
  • three new business applications processed
  • 1 new client report sent and acknowledged
  • 2 new clients called and information found for quote reports - 2 reports to diary for later in the week
  • 27 to do items on phone reduced to 5 pending
  • 1 sandwich purchsed
  • 2 children (nicely) palmed off on relatives
  • 1 visit from 'technician' to review a problem with new suite in the living room
  • 1 dog quieted when he took against the above technician
  • two thirds of MacBreak Weekly listened to while working (not as funny as usual)

Still to come :

  • early meal prior to karate
  • Karate Class at 6.00pm (still 2 Gi's to iron... gulp)
  • another couple of hours of prep for tomorrow work
  • seven or eight Premier Choice new business/renewal spreadsheets to complete (might do that tomorrow)
  • 4 call backs

Really have no more time to waste on this post !

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The business of pricing tourist attractions

As you'll see from yesterday I visited Skipton Castle and had a fun day out with the family.

Although the castle is nice and the visit good I was a little puzzled as to why the castle was so quiet (maybe 2 or 3 dozen people came though in the two and a half hours we were there) when the rest of Skipton was literally heaving to the point where we actually queued on the pavement several times to travel up and down the high street.

Unless there was some kind of unspoken boycott we were unaware of I suspect their problem was the pricing of admission to the castle itself. We paid £ 22.50 plus £ 2.90 (for a booklet) for a family ticket and as per the above comments took a leisurely stroll around the castle (as it was out first time) for a couple of hours and grabbed a quick cuppa in the on-site cafe - which cost another £ 14.

Although we enjoyed the visit I certainly wouldn't go back if I was required to pay another £ 22 as there simply isn't enough to do inside the castle and I suspect that many people that visit Skipton frequently go once and never come back - hence the low numbers.

There is a Friends of Skipton Castle repeat visitor ticket that I found on their website (no mention of it in the ticket office on site that I could see). However, this costs £ 18 per adult (up to three kids can visit free on this ticket) - however we'd still need two for Mr and Mrs Localventure. So total cost is still £ 36 which you'd only buy having visited once, paying full price to see if you liked it. This means for my family a total cost of £ 58 for more than one visit - and the requirement to visit 3 times in the first year to recoup the costs of visiting without the 'Friends' ticket.

Clearly people in Skipton have done the maths and decided that for the sake of visiting two or three times per annum it's clearly not worth it and I would tend to agree. If I was their business manager I would offer a much lower priced annual ticket and give a family version of it too - maybe a tenner for a single and then £ 15 for couple + kids  - after all, there is no actual 'cost' to the castle for having visitors in through the front door (sorry Portculis!) and more people surely means more revenue from the on-site cafe and shop.

There is a massive opportunity being squandered at a lovely local attraction - I'd also improve the range of cakes in their cafe too but that's another story.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Lovely day in Skipton

Visited Skipton in North Yorkshire for the Bank holiday and centred the visit around the Castle - one of the best preserved medieval castles in England - especially interesting in that the Lords Clifford were Lancastrian supporters in the War of the Roses and we've recently been watching the Phillipa Gregory series on the BBC - The White Queen (especially enjoyed by my 13 year old daughter who bizarrely liked King Richard best ?).

Great little castle (although I think they have a business problem that I will outline tomorrow on my blog).

Sunny day, quite quiet in the castle (maybe 2 dozen people in total) although Skipton itself was heaving with shoppers.

Heres are couple of snaps :

Main Entrance - leads to central hall

Ramparts - South side
Both pics taken with my handy Iphone 5 - with no editing.

It's one of the very few fully roofed bulidings of its nature and this makes the castle rooms although bare, still in good condition - it's not an enormous building but the dungeons, great hall and particularly the central courtyard with its full grown tree was quite impressive - reminded me of how I imagined the castle at Cair Paravel in Narnia would have looked (fictional I know).

Definitely worth a trip I would say although at £ 22 for a family of four, given the time it takes possibly overpriced.

Back to business blogging tomorrow.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

New post in Talk Health Partnership website

I have just uploaded a new post over at www.talkhealthpartnership.com/blog/2013/08/death-now-that-got-your-attention-a-slightly-funny-blog-post/ this is one of my longer form pieces on health related subjects.

Health Warning - This piece discusses both serious and also lighter sides of death and causes of death so it is one of those posts that has a the capability of offending and or upsetting - please remember when reading that the article is designed to inform, comment and also be irreverent.

Writers block

Spent most of today on and off attempting to come up with a concept for a blog post today and I have failed miserably. Must be the oppressive humidity !

Instead here's a republication of an article I wrote a couple of months ago on my Talk Health blog (you should be able to see the link to the right of this post to visit Talk Health and read my other articles) the piece discussed issues around why people elect to use private medicine as opposed to the NHS and why in fact the two sectors compliment rather than work against one another :

Do people buy ‘go private’ because the NHS is bad ?

In the United Kingdom the historic premise behind the National Health Service (NHS) has always been medical care free to the user at the point of delivery. It should of course never be forgotten that the NHS is anything but ‘free’ being funded in its entirety as a public sector organization paid for by central government.
However, since the formation the NHS in 1948 it has become increasingly apparent that all care cannot be ‘free’ and indeed in the 21st century we live in an era of both austerity in the economy generally but in particular one of a ‘post code lottery’ for NHS treatment, one only has to consider biological and hormonal therapies for cancer or infertility treatment (a topic I discussed obliquely in a previous post) to see that where you live can materially affect what treatment you receive and for how long. The issue of the cost and funding of the NHS is further exacerbated by the rising age of the population and advances in medical science that enable people to live longer but of course : older means by definition in most instances ‘sicker’ and older people are and will continue to be a big call on NHS funds.
The capability of the NHS to both cope with and provide for an adequate ongoing service to its user base – the UK population, us. It is an enormous debate that is played out both politically and in the media on a regular basis, again a topic covered in other posts. From some of these previous blog posts on Talk Health you’ll know that I have worked in both the National Health Service and the private medical sector in the last 25 years and it is not for me (or indeed a suitable discussion for this forum) to sell my readers private medical insurance. Indeed, medical insurance is not necessarily the ‘answer’ to the problems that may be perceived to exist within the NHS. In fact it would be true to say that in my experience it (medical insurance) is a complimentary rather than a competing effect.
My view is that that purchasers of medical insurance may be exhibiting a reaction to the above issues within the NHS and the very existence of a medical insurance is a symptom of the state of the healthcare market in the UK rather than the cause or the need for a competing private service.
Those people that take the decision to buy insurance of this kind are doing so for a number of reasons :
Some want peace of mind that they have extra cover in place. That might be due to personal experience (often a negative one) of the NHS. For some medical insurance is a lifestyle choice – to plan for elective, acute treatment, buying choice and freedom away from the limitations inherent in the NHS and of course, although waiting lists are less of a problem now than historically but there is still an issue in some specialties and geographic areas. Medical insurance is often at its best when solving this kind of postcode and waiting list lottery. Of course many people receive medical insurance cover as an employee benefit as a ‘perk’ of their jobs so for them medical insurance is not a choice particularly influenced by the NHS just an acknowledgement by their employer that an alternative to the NHS is useful for their business or demanded by employees.
In the context of the discussion above I wanted to end this article with a simple question. Is it worthwhile financially to buy medical insurance, regardless of the motivating factor for the purchase ? In the end I think it really depends on personal experience but it isn’t right for everyone and one has to bear in mind all the factors above and of course that for all its shortcomings, each and everyone of us that is a UK tax payer is already paying for NHS treatment anyway.
One needs to bear in mind that medical insurance does not replace the NHS – chronic (uncurable) and pre-existing conditions are not covered, nor is primary care (GP and other community based medical services) nor is accident and emergency treatment typically. Whilst medical insurance cover does not replicate the NHS it does provide input into the NHS system. Many insurers offer access to their policy holders to NHS pay facilities and although it is difficult to estimate the direct financial benefits (probably hundreds of thousands of pounds or more) it is certain that indirectly the private sector saves the NHS tens of millions of pounds in providing elective treatment for policyholders and self paying private clients who otherwise would be forced to use the NHS. It is also worth considering that to fulfil waiting list targets the NHS regularly takes spare capacity in the private sector (especially for common procedures like hip or knee replacements or cataract replacement where lower set procedure costs can be negotiated in advance in return for bulk contracting).
Regardless of ones political persuasion or view on the fairness of private medical insurance it is true to say that the private and public sectors are inextricably linked. The decision therefore to elect to purchase medical insurance isn’t then as simple as opting out of the NHS, rather it is case of weighing the factors discussed above whilst bearing in mind that one still funds the costs for the UK national health system via your tax and taking the decision to pay twice can be worthwhile if your personal requirements are to be fulfilled.
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