Monday, 21 December 2015

End of the year wrap up 2015

Frankly 2015 hasn't been my finest hour in terms of social media on a number of different levels.

Looking at the volume of posts here the content has dropped - whether the overall quality of the posts I have put up is worse is for others to judge although I suspect it may not be as good nor relevant as in previous years.

My business podcast (PMICast - the UK's only medical insurance podcast - www.pmicast.podbean.com and also on iTunes) has also dropped off the face of a cliff. It ran for over 60 episodes until Spring of this year and then, completely bored with the format I kind of lost interest. I have recorded a year end show and will be posting that in December but at the moment I can't see a way of re-invigorating the premise enough to want to put together a regular podcast.

I am going to try and tie in the year end show onto my business You Tube Channel :

www.youtube.com/channel/UCvecpE3OUT58rFNkskSykXw/videos 

So there will be an audio and video version of the podcast as well.

Regardless of my woeful updates and miserable attempts to entertain and or inform I would like to take this opportunity to thank my readers, listeners and viewers plus of course my loyal clients and productive professional introducers - you all know who you are, for their support and encouragement throughout 2015 and here's to a great and profitable/fulfilling 2016.

Merry Festivus !

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The After Effects of Training

I'm 45 and have been doing a variety of training since very young : swimming, karate, weights, running, badminton and so forth.

In 2010 I restarted karate training and found it reasonably hard to get back up to a good level of fitness and now train for two hours twice a week) along with running three or four times a week if I have time. Generally I run two or three miles during the week and then six or seven if I go out on the weekend.

That said I am still 45 years old and recovery time following exercise is definitely longer (and more uncomfortable) than it used to be, although I do find that during training I don't have any problems.

This morning was a case in point. Woke up this morning and felt like someone had been kicking me in the base of the spine. This is really unusual and the pain was much worse than I'd expect following a training session normally. Took several ibuprofen and four hours before my spine felt more or less back to normal.

Then I remembered, I had been kicked in the spine several times during training last night (silly exercise involving roundhouse kicks in a circle of students) - was relived that I'm not actually getting old as fast as I'd thought.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Smart Phone Flip Flop

At the moment I am flipping between two phones. The iPhone 6 Plus and the LG G4.

I've had the iPhone since last December and used it pretty much continuously until the LG arrived in October. However the LG only lasted as my day to day driver for a couple of weeks before I switched back to the iPhone and IOS.

I really love both devices as pieces of tech but at the moment I'm loving the simplicity and ease of access of IOS. Having been an IOS user since the iPhone 4 and  the original iPad I am definitely at home in their eco-system. As far as Android goes I have dabbled over the years but the LG is the first up to date smart phone on Android I've used consistently.

On Friday evening I switched my main sim over from the iPhone to the LG to give it another go. The thing I like best about the LG is the screen - it's an IPS Quantum display and is simply brighter and clearer than the iPhone - that's the primary thing that has pulled me back to the LG, even with the iPhone on full brightness it's just so sharp or near to the surface as the LG. The other thing is that the LG camera is brilliant both to use and to update - slightly better images than the iPhone, more options and much easier to update live to flick or google photo's.

So at the moment I'm rocking the LG G4 but will probably switch back to the iPhone in a day or two - nice problem to have, two of the best smart phones out there !

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Working with introducers to my business

I have written on this blog before about the technical process and why's and wherefore's of working with IFA, General Brokers, Accountants etc within my medical insurance practice.

I've never covered off (in any real detail) why I like to do so. At its most basic it is a realistic way of attracting new clients to my business in a time efficient and effective manner. Although I give up commission to all of my introducers, in each case, a client they send over to me is added to my portfolio with no other real acquisition costs. This means that as opposed to say telephone marketing I find working with introducer a solid and efficient way of earning a living.

However, why do I actually enjoy working this way ? The simple answer is that since 1990 I have been ingrained with the idea that independent intermediaries (of which I am of course now one) are the best way for clients to receive advice. I began working in financial services as an IFA in 1989 but then moved over to the insurer side working for first life companies (in 1990) then medical insurers (in 1994). At each turn I have worked to support IFA's, general brokers and medical insurance specialist intermediaries in their advice to clients.

I firmly believe that all things being equal it is always better for the client to receive an independent market assessment and write business via an independent broker. That is the basic underpinning of what I do for clients now and more than that, having worked with IFA's both as my clients and now as business partners I like them. They are generally hard working and insightful individuals whose job is far harder than most people can ever understand.

If by my efforts I can make their life a bit easier, help them financial and support their clients on medical insurance matters then I think it is a rewarding and pretty cool way to make a living.

If you're an IFA or other professional advisers who'd like a hand with medical insurance just get in touch - always happy to help !

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The 6 P's of presentation - my guide to the best presentations

We've all heard that P**s Poor Preparation Promotes Poor Presentation and I suspect that many of the people reading this blog will have been on various courses to enable them to present effectively to colleagues and clients.

As a side note and before I begin can I say - as a presenter do not walk between the screen and the light source on your projector - this drives me bonkers, no one looks good in glaring white light and remember you never see Huw Edwards when he's doing a standing piece to camera walk in front of the camera going back to his desk - if it's good enough for professional media it should be good enough for the (gifted) amateur.

Over the years I too have been on innumerable sales training courses going over these kinds of areas and done my share of awful (can still remember the exact audience and location and still wish that the ground could have swallowed me whole) and also some better presentations. There really is no substitute for practice but one of the important things that many presenters forget is that a little like standup you need to know your audience and pitch the talk towards not only what they need to hear but also remember what they do not want to hear.

Firstly don't cover off ground that the audience already knows. I saw a presentation to a group of nurses once where the drug company representative started the session (on some new drug) by telling his audience what cancer was. Now forgive me but I'm assuming that a nursing degree probably covers this off in more detail. Either way the first three or four slides of the session lost the presenter his audience and he struggled to drag it back.

A similar mistake is to 'insult' the audience by pointing to a slide, saying I'm not going to cover this topic because either they already know it or can read it on the slide themselves then spending twenty minutes going over that exact issue - bit of a time waste, bores your delegates and again sucks the life from the room.

Lastly in the vein of knowing your audience I recently saw someone present a product that his company had integrated into their cover that we used to be able to sell ourselves as a standalone plan - it was ultimately pulled because it didn't prove too popular for us. Perfectly sound product but this presenter hadn't been able to research the fact that the product point he spent most time showing us was one that really was not relevant to us - not his fault but in not knowing his audience I felt he kind of lost us.

I think that given a presentation (in the context of the sales process) is often stage two of obtaining a sale, following up that initial contact/meeting of minds it is really worthwhile doing some research beyond simply writing a set of powerpoint slides or worse, recycling an old presentation.

As a general rule I use three guiding principles when prepping for a presentation, regardless of the audience. Firstly I do a mini 'fact find' usually over the phone or e-mail with the client/contact as follows :

1) Who is the presentation aimed at, what do they want to achieve - is it a pure sales meeting or educational, can I include sales content
2) How many and who will be there - include if possible job titles or a list of delegates (e-mail lists are good for post presentation follow up but don't push your luck or indeed hold your breath)
3) What would they like you to cover off (seems obvious but now but I've turned up to more than one session where the speaker clearly had a different brief to the attendees)
4) Basic logistics - where, when, how long do I have, is there equipment and what does it look like

Second phase, following the basic fact find do some research on the audience. I never telephone a company without having their website open in front of me.  Same with presenting, understand what products they sell and into which market. It might not affect your content but then again it could be crucial. Always do a little research - that could have prevented my last example above from choosing the wrong area of his product to concentrate on. As a footnote to this 'research' section, I always create a new presentation for each client. I understand in these days of strict compliance this isn't always possible but even if it's just a front piece with the clients name on it can make a difference. We all like to feel that people make an effort and just finding the full company name and sticking it on a blank slide can really personalise things. I like to take a jpeg of their logo and add it as well - be careful though, some larger companies are funny about use of their proprietary images - read the situation again !

Having some basic research of your target audience can also help during the question phase at the end of the meeting. How embarrassing is it going to be if the office joker sticks up his hand and asks if your product competes with their platinum widget, if you don't know what their widget does. Often a simple question which is actually off topic can shanghai the whole session - been there done that. Obviously you can't be an expert but have a little knowledge and take contentious issues off-line and you won't go far wrong.

Lastly the third key area. Time. Note how long you've been given and divide the time into thirds. If you have 30 minutes time your presentation for two thirds or 20 minutes. If you have an hour then aim for 40 minutes and so on. This is a key point for a number of reasons :
  • If you (like me) enjoy the sound of your own voice then you a likely to over-embellish and will usually go long. So allowing for this means you'll still have time for questions 
  • If you are anything like competent at presenting you will ask delegates to hold questions til the end - leaving this last third chunk of time means you can actually answer them
  • People running meetings always stress timing is crucial when they ask you to present - it's common courtesy to stick to their timing if you can but delegates will thank you for keeping things brief especially if they are having more than one presentation or several in a row. My experience is that in a sales context the briefest session will likely be the most memorable - I don't care about going on after lunch or last thing in the day - keep your 30 minute slot down to four slides and 18 minutes and they'll remember you and not the rambler who made them 10 minutes late for lunch.
Still thinking about time, I mention timing the session into thirds. As a general rule I only (practice) run through a full presentation twice. Once on the day I create it and then again the day before I give the talk but I time both versions. Generally my second attempt will be a bit longer as I talk around the subject a bit more but the overall time I allow will be an average of the two 'rehearsals'. I say more in the second one so it's longer but remember that it is a simple fact that most people talk faster when presenting so the actual timing I find tends to be the middle ground between my two run throughs. Either way I suggest you don't over-rehearse. However important the session is, my preference is for a more natural, conversational style of presentation - ever heard a stand up comic read a joke ? Nope you haven't and there's a reason why, scripted jokes only work if Ricky Jervais is your writer and Robin Williams is delivering them. I'd therefore recommend keep it as natural as possible. There's nothing wrong with actually reading off slides or cards. I do a talk/demo on marital arts to school kids and use small cards as it is largely a demonstration piece but I make a joke out of the fact that I need glasses to read the type. I don't, I know the content by heart but it enables me to humanise the talk, have a pause every now and then and check out the audience reaction whilst I'm 'checking' my crib notes.

The rest of presenting is down to pure personal subjective style. Some people say open with a joke, I prefer not to. I am not a comedian but do have a line in dry humour. Again think about your audience and aim the humour towards what they would be likely to find amusing - I like to mock TV shows like the Apprentice in a business context as you'll often be on firm ground but if TOWIE is your favourite show it's unlikely to resonate with a group of 50 year old insurance underwriters !

Last thought, I teach four karate classes a week to students from pure beginners up to senior black belt and have learnt one thing when 'presenting' a tough physical and mental discipline to people of all ages and backgrounds. You have to be in control, 100% of the time. Take hold of the room by the scruff of the neck and make sure that they are always watching and listening. For karate I use humour, physical demonstration and some good old fashion beastings but my aim is always to have their attention. I think presenting is the same - stay in charge at all times.

Good luck and good presenting.


 

Friday, 20 November 2015

Jessica Jones - review of episode 1 of the new Netflix Marvel series

First of all I am definitely working today. Managed to sort out several renewals, prospect for new business and still organise this blog post !

Guilty secret admission time - during the more monotonous non telephone based work I tend to have something playing on Netflix or Sky On-Demand, BBC iPlayer etc. I don't always take it all in but it takes the edge off the monotony and I get to keep (sort of) up to date with my favourite series. sort of like Radio with pictures and an actual story.

At the moment I am half way through the Sky box set of The Soprano's and who knew that sociopaths could be so cuddly ? Today I'm catching up on Wednesday's The Apprentice (those girls, really are the bitchiest yet) and of course the new Marvel series : Jessica Jones which premieres on Netflix today - here are my initial thoughts on the first episode.

I should preface this piece (for those who do not know/haven't read this blog before) that I am a massive comic/SF fan, fully aware of the slightly controversial nature of some of the character's storylines (Jessica's sexual 'interactions' with Luke Cage etc). I loved season one of the previous Netflix Marvel show : Daredevil but am not massively impressed with Agents of Shield - I only managed to last half of season one on that show.

For a change of scenery I decided to work in my living room this morning instead of the office which means I can use the old Apple TV to watch Netflix on the big screen TV rather than using my slightly wobbly old (2009) iMac which needs constant re-boots.

Here are my initial thoughts having watched the first episode.

It's dark and gritty in the way that Hollywood thinks that kind of thing should be, actually not that gritty at all if you've really ever lived in a big city. 'Edgy' because we need to understand for the beginning that although Jessica is bright and clever with a witty line in banter for every situation she is in fact world weary and defeated as an ex-super-hero with nothing left but PTSD derived from being in  the clutches of some mysterious (gulp) purple menace :  David Tennant playing Zebidiah Killgrave, the Purple Man. A mysterious mind controlling villain who is inextricably linked to the Jessica Jones backstory in both comics and also here on TV.


Given this is effectively a pilot episode there's a lot of supporting characters and situations to get through in this episode and some ground work to be laid so as a result not a great deal actually happens until the final scenes with Killgraves kidnap victim - no doubt we'll find out more about Jessica's revised (TV series) history over the rest of the series but for now it is enough to know she is troubled and pretty pissed off with her former tormentor who she believed was dead, despite his continuing to haunt her subconscious. This is probably the best thing about the Netflix TV series format, it's ability to present a first/pilot episode as a purely setting up exercise knowing the other 12 episodes in the season can build the drama but still I wonder if enough is going on plot wise to keep non geeks on board for more than one or two hours.

Her co-stars seem a mixed bag, Mike Colter as Luke Cage (whose later Netflix series notwithstanding) seems a good if one dimensional character at the moment, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jessica's omni-sexual lawyer seems sinister but intriguing but some of the 'lighter' flatmate types are frankly a little irritating at present - hope this doesn't develop into a 'scooby gang' type situation but rather stays with the tortured powers riff.

Not quite sure where I stand on Krysten Ritter as Jessica, she certainly looks the part and so far has carried the concept being in almost every scene. She can do comedy and deliver plot overview pretty well but how long can the self doubt and drama carry her ? Let me let you into a secret, every super hero series has an annoying (usually) female foil - Lana in Smallville, Laurel in Arrow, Jimmy Olsen in Lois and Clark, Iris West in Flash and per any one from ten in Gotham. My concern is that Krysten might become the annoying female foil in her own series which would be bad.

Last point, need some action. This is not classic cape fare but we need more than a car being lifted up - there's no point playing in the Marvel sandbox and nor using the Sandman is there ? Sorry for the Spiderman reference but JJ is really routed in the Spiderman continuity.

So will I go on to watch the next few episodes ? Yep, I think it is a pretty solid start to the series with enough going on to intrigue and prompt a 'WTF' requirement to come back - the lift scene, case in point.

Best quote 'Laser eyes ? Moron !"

Best Surprise in episode - that scene with Luke Cage - wow, surprised Disney allowed them to do that.

Final Critique - tonally this very similar to DareDevil - clearly it covers adult sexuality (primarily abusive sexual relationships in episode one and adultery in episode two) so it is clearly a grown up program with lots of violence to follow. However the format of dropping hints about origin, obliquely introducing a big bad villain working behind the scenes, centring the story around a lawyer introducing cases to the protagonist. All very DD. now that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It is a proven  and solid way to create this kind of piece without being too 'comic' inspired or descending into an Avengers parody (which Netflix has neither the budget not intent to carry off) however, I'd like to see some risks taken with format and I am excusing this initial similarity to its Netflix sibling down to the writing staff of both shows working closely together to create their shared universes and hopefully as the two shows go off in their different directions they can both find and develop their own identities.

Try it out and see for yourself.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

How useful is Twitter ?

I've used Twitter pretty consistently over the last four or five years for both business and personal use and have a number of accounts with around 4,500 followers.

Being totally honest I've never really had much feedback that for promoting my business Twitter is particularly useful. However on three occasions where I've got to a point with companies or service providers where they were either ignoring me or refusing to be of much use I have turned to Twitter.

One occasion my GP double charged me for a prescription (see previous blogs) and after 8 or 9 e-mails plus one visit and two phone calls they hadn't even acknowledged the contact. However within 24 hours of putting a synopsis on this blog and linking to it on Twitter I had a call from the most senior GP in the practice, problem resolved in one phone call.

Similarly today after two calls and an e-mail over a month (problem with a gas servicing company) I had a call back in less than three minutes after outlining the problem on Twitter.

So maybe in the right hands Twitter can be useful - who knew ?

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Fell at the umpteenth hurdle

Well back to blogging with vengeance - two posts in three days. Awesome sauce.

Fell into a old trap recently, one which I've blogged before about on more than one occasion.

Since the end of August I have been snowed under with both client renewals and new business cases. Obviously it's always great to be busy, especially with stuff that makes money for me (as well as helping out clients) but as we move towards December I'm a discovering I have a bit of a dearth of new business prospects to feed into the pipeline.

So over the last couple of months I've done the classic, got on with working the current cases and let the new business marketing slip so that business is looking a little scarce. That said I actually have three or four cases pending and a couple of new prospects have come through in the last few days so it's really not catastrophic thankfully.

Which brings me back to today - back hard at work sorting out some marketing, 9.10pm at night and marketing hard - just like when I first set up my business. Like I said, awesome sauce.


Monday, 16 November 2015

What happened to Linkedin

Being 100% honest I have been somewhat lax about updating social media recently. In particular this blog and Linkedin have been media that I have largely ignored in the last couple of months.

Imagine my surprise when I logged on to Linkedin this afternoon and found they had completely face-lifted the site - it was bad before but now it's awful.

As an example, historically I used to contact fellow members of groups for a variety of purposes. Now, you find one member you want to contact, click on their profile and then when you go back to look at the next entry you go to the top of the list. So on a group with more than 3 members it is now literally impossible to find anyone whose name and details you cannot remember.

Linkedin seem to want to be Facebook only FB is (IMHO) largely useless for business purposes - looks like Linkedin has now joined the club

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Tattoo Fixers - Channel Four

Been watching the series of Tattoo Fixers on 4 On Demand (or whatever they're calling their demand service these days).

If you're thinking about getting new (or more) body art you can search a lot on-line and find out loads of information about the process physically (pain - ouch) and also in terms of design and so on. But this program really brings into focus the highs and lows - so would recommend it very much.

In particular the artists and receptionist have a great line in banter and every now and then the stories behind the tattoo's can be funny, tragic and life affirming - for example the ex-Royal Marine in Episode 3 who had a 'You'll Never Walk Alone" tattoo on his leg which he had to have amputated following an IED explosion - the tattoo now reads 'You'll Never Walk" - which he disproved by winning two gold medals in the Invictus Games. He didn't want to cover up or change that tattoo - so the guys did him a new tattoo with the following two lines from the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley :

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit From pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.[1]

The word 'invictus' is latin for unconquered. Rich Purnell truly is a steely eye missile man.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Karate Training in Yeadon, North Leeds

I run training at Leeds Premier Karate Club in Yeadon - training on Tuesdays and Wednesdays over Summer 2015 (usually Monday and Wednesday).

If you are interested in taking up this exciting martial art I run a beginners class from 6.00pm to 6.30 - both days and the first 2 sessions are free to see if you like !

If you have previous experience of martial arts you are also welcome to train on an ad hoc basis or join us permanently - just contact me to discuss.

For more information please call me on : 07792 075748 or e-mail : pkn4395@gmail.com

Full information and training times are on our website : www.yeadonkarate.weebly.com

Look forward to seeing you at training.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Back from holiday

Been away in Devon (Torquay) for a coupe of weeks and now back at work and up to speed again.

If you're interested in private medical insurance (PMI) for yourself, company or if you're an IFA and need PMI for one of your clients please feel free to call or e-mail :

07792 075748
philknight@pch.uk.com
_________

I'm also looking to pick up new beginners for my karate class - if you're interested in an exciting martial art please visit : www.yeadonkarate.weebly.com for more information or call me on the above number.

Phil

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Why is it hard for IFA's and other professional advisers to write Private Medical Insurance business

There are a variety of factors involved in the decision that many of my introducers take when deciding to sub-contract advice on medical insurance to me.

Not least is the fact that in the 21st century most business/professionals tend to specialise in a tightly focused area of their business and taking on a whole new product area can be problematical.

However there are a range of factors that mitigate against the average IFA or Accountant being able to or even wanting to offer advice on Private Medical Insurance (PMI). I wanted to focus on probably the simplest one of these - support from PMI insurers.

Now I will preface this article by stating clearly that I am not attempting to belittle insurers here. Far from it, without their on-going support my role with clients would be next to impossible.

In the distant past many PMI insurers gave out agencies to brokers and other intermediaries like hot cakes, the advent of first GISC then FSA and now finally FCA regulation has meant that the regulatory burden when writing PMI has increased for both brokers and insurers. As a consequence the insurers have gotten far more targeted at picking which client acquisition routes they choose to support both from an FCA standpoint (hence the disappearance of many direct sales channels) and also from a profitability view point - and herein lies the problem for smaller IFA's and non-specialist brokers. It is often financial impossible for the PMI insurers ti support any broker who doesn't specialist in writing medical insurance and as a result keeping up to date on product knowledge, pricing and switching policies becomes harder and harder for non-specialists and servicing existing business effectively also becomes more of a chore and is much harder.

As a result, in short, the PMI insurers acquire the majority of their new business from the minority of PMI specialist brokers (like myself). This means that for an IFA or commercial broker to be worth support for the insurers on a day to day basis that broker needs to be virtually a de facto PMI specialist in their own right. So for example some larger IFA practices will have one or two people servicing a PMI book and generate just enough business to secure a minimum number of PMI agencies so as to act as an independent broker.

Increased consolidation of the PMI specialist market and higher targets for PMI insurers to make their business profitable have all worked against the standard IFA model being able to advise on PMI to the point where without a sizeable existing book of PMI business and the scope to increase it over time it has become impractical for the average IFA to spend time looking at PMI new business or re-brokes.

Having looked after IFA's and non-specialists now for over 21 years this is sad but the silver lining is that it does enable me to have on-going dialogue with many potential new introducers and I can often help them help their clients and of course increase revenue for their practice.

If you're interested in discussing your PMI business and how I can help just e-mail on : philknight@pch.uk.com or call : 07792 075748.  

Friday, 26 June 2015

Updates to DropBox

I have been doing some work with introducer IFA's this week and have updated my public drop box folder which contains a variety of information and pro-forma documents that is of general interest to my professional introducers.

If you are an IFA, Accountant or General/Commerical Broker who's like my assistance on medical insurance please feel free to drop me a line and ask to join - it's a simple e-mail I can ping over to you. Once joined you can access and download the documents you are interested in.

Best contact is : philknight@pch.uk.com

Hope this helps.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The problem with comic book movies

I've been into comics since I was around four or five. I can still remember (in fact still own) the first ever UK comic I was bought (Spiderman UK Weekly with a cover including Spiderman and the Lizard fighting over the Statton Island ferry) and my first US 'proper' comic, an issue of Marvel Team Up featuring Spiderman and the Shroud (powered by the evil god Kali and able to manipulate darkness - bit of a batman ripoff to be fair in terms of design). So comics and Spiderman are kind of in my cultural DNA.

This is the actual cover of that book - yay !


With that in mind let me tell you a story :

There's this science geek kid who struggles at school with alienation, he lives with his Aunt and Uncle and kind of doesn't really get how important they are. Through a bizarre series of events (involving people who may be important much later on in his story) he gets bitten by of all things a radioactive spider and is granted miraculous super powers. Learning an important lesson in responsibility this new Spider-Man tragically loses his Uncle through negligent manslaughter but then decides to use his powers for good and in the course of many adventures gains lots of insane mega-powered opponents who seem to want to rip out his spleen for no rational reason other than it looks good as a CGI effect.

Stop me if you've heard this story before - at least twice and now possibly a third time to follow.

See, this is the issue for me, a new Spiderman has been cast in the Marvel Cinema Universe and we have a cameo from Spidey in the third Captain America movie (Civil War) and of course his own outing due in 2017.

And I DO NOT WANT TO SEE HIS ORIGIN STORY AGAIN.

It seems as if film makers seem to think that no one is culturally aware of anything that has ever happened before. Granted no one knew the origin story of Spawn or Men in Black (?) or possibly even Thor (although what happened to Don Blake and the walking stick WTF Marvel!) and of course in the forthcoming Black Panther pic no one other than the privileged few know of the majesty of Wakanda and it's reigning monarch so fair enough do a Panther origin story.

But Spiderman - isn't he the one who was rocketed to earth from the doomed planet 'SeenItAllBefore' or perhaps he was the one who saw his parents murdered outside a movie theatre and then a giant Spider flew through the air before him and vowed to fight crime as ManSpiderBat.

Spiderman, like Batman and Superman are cultural icons and everyone (except your Gran) knows his origin. Plus we've seen Toby and Andy re-do it in the last 20 years over and over again. I therefore will only go and see a Spiderman film if it leaps straight into the crimefighting fun - any origin, even in flashback and I am withholding my support.

It's not just the Spiderman franchise though - Fantastic Four reboots this summer after an absence of only an 8 year absence - admittedly the origin in the new movie seems to be around dimensional travel (a la Ultimate Fantastic Four) but you can bet there's still mention of cosmic rays.

Let's hope that Batman Vs Superman manages to cram in origins for Batman (again), Superman (yawn, again), Aquaman (who) and Wonder Woman (Greek Gods anyone ?). A three act movie with plot and character development only in the final act after two hours of stuff I already know.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

My 'main' work update

In recent months I have not blogged here that often about the specifics of my role as an independent, whole of market medical insurance adviser (looking after individual and company clients in the UK and around the world TM).

This is because to the uninitiated this can be dull as ditchwater (?) and also as part of Premier Choice Healthcare (my compliance provider) I cannot and do not intend to use this blog as a 'business' website. It is not authorised to be used as a sales or promotional vehicle for my medical insurance work nor have I ever really seen it that way. Importantly it is not FCA compliant to do so. The blog is a personal vehicle that sometimes mentions or highlights issues that are of personal interest or relevance and in doing so will sometimes cover work related issues.

One of the questions that I am often asked by clients and professional introducers (IFA's accountants and the like) is how is my business set up ? I think it can't hurt to run over that quickly here in the blog.

I set up my business at the end of 2010 and went to Premier Choice who I had dealt with for many years (when employed by PMI insurers) to provide my compliance route to the FCA. As a business I am a self employed sole trader and the HMRC return goes in as : 'Phil Knight, Independent Healthcare Consultant'.

From an FCA regulatory standpoint I am Phil Knight, Independent Healthcare Consultant, Part of Premier Choice Group etc. compliance and agency support is provided by them and client facing documentation such as the Needs Demands statement that go to clients come from Premier Choice and their office in Towcester referring back to me as the clients contact and advisor.

So I search for, find, work with and advise my own clients (or often those of my professional introducer contacts) and then use PCH's agencies to provide them cover. Advice is given by me and I regularly undergo Training and Compliance checks which could (and I suppose over the years may have been) submitted to the FCA and it's precursor the FSA to demonstrate that I am offering cogent and compliant advice to my clients.

The back office service and FCA compliance I receive from PCH for my clients is something I pay to them via deduction from commission received - I find the admin and support from PCH to be excellent and although I am the primary contact for all of my clients it is worth considering the hard work provided by the staff at Premier Choice.

Karate website update

As some readers will know in addition to medical insurance and marketing I also run training at my local karate club.

I've recently put together a place holder website for my side of the club so people can find out training times and so forth plus get hold of me if needed.

If you are interested in training with us in Yeadon, north Leeds please just click : Leeds Premier Karate Club - Yeadon

We run an on-going beginners class all year round (no restrictions on new starters as there can often be at some clubs) and in particular I would welcome students who have tried martial arts before and fancy another go - this applies to me. I trained in one style for over 30 years before switching clubs and ending up getting my second black belt at age 43/44 and going on to run my new club (at least the Yeadon branch of it). So if you want to come along you will be more than welcome - no age or sex restriction !

Hope to see you all there !
Around one third of my main class at Yeadon -
 I'm at the back in the middle !

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Why’s and Wherefore’s of podcasting

OK.

About six or seven months ago I stopped recording and uploading my PMICast podcast. I’ve written ad nauseum (?) about the reasons for this. Basically it boils down to a mixture of staleness of the format, laziness on my part and also genuine time constraints.

After more than sixty episodes I found it increasingly hard to get motivated to plan and record the podcast which felt more and more the ‘same’ to me everytime I uploaded it, even to the point that the show notes often just needed the date changing to be accurate.

Because it was stale I found it harder and harder to motivate myself to record and of course if you can’t be bothered it is easy for that to become just something I could miss every week or fortnight.

Lastly, i am a lot busier now than I was a year ago or even less. More business, more renewing clients and a busy personal life (I’m now a professional karate instructor as well as an insurance professional for example). So time I spent prepping and recording the podcast is now used sorting our clients or preparing a karate class. Admittedly I am earning a decent living from this but the aim of the podcast was to augment the sales function rather than hold it back.

All the above being said I really enjoy being able to say that I host my own podcast and would still like to resurrect something, I’m just not sure what.

I have looked at my various interests : martial arts, PMI, technology, comics, SF and so on and even recorded a couple of sample new ‘casts but so far nothing has piqued my interest enough to become a regular replacement for PMICast.

The PMICast stream still exists over at www.pmicast.podbean.com (in fact I recently paid for another years hosting at podbean) and on iTunes and I will hopefully get around to putting new content up at some point in the future.


Incidentally my occasional ‘funny’ SF and Fantasy podcast ‘Where’s Wilson’ is still live and worth listening to - it features me and my little boy : Ryan and is to be found on the PMICast stream.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The psychology of Quitters

Why do people quit ?

I mean every day and in in every walk of life and activity people just give up. There often don't seem to be too many consequences or downsides for quitters.

Their targets at work, not achieved then they give up.

At sport, martial arts are hard and they don't think they are progressing. What happens - students just give up. Only a fraction of students ever get black belts and that is because it is hard and worthwhile and some people just don't have the strength of will to get that far.

I hate the word 'Quitter'.

It is a word that I find offensive and I would vigorously, probably physically protest anyone who ever used that word to describe me.

It is a fact though that in the UK quitting seems to be endemic.

Frankly it drives me bonkers. All around me people are giving up often for very little reason.

I'll tell you why people give up. It's because it is easy, too easy. It seems that it is easier to stop trying and bugger off to do something else than stick to the task at hand and that's what drives me mad.

Some of us, in business and socially and in sports/hobbies could just give up and allow our family to starve or get kicked out of our houses. Or stop running karate classes because sometimes we just don't feel like training.

That's the difference between those that give up and those that don't. It's about commitment and seeing things through to the end. Both qualities that sadly seem to be lacking in society these days.

A Black Belt is a White Belt who never gave up !

I'm not going to give up though and I certainly am not going to stop talking about issues like this in my blog because it would be too easy and easy does not generate respect.

Hard work and failing but carrying on generate success. The rest will sort itself out.



Monday, 1 June 2015

Guilty Pleasures #toomuchinfo !

When working on mundane tasks I will often make use of this new fangled inter-webs and stream on-line content on my iMac whilst working on my MacBook Pro.

So far I've gone through 8 seasons of Spooks and all five series of Breaking Bad on Netflix along with lots of 24, Better Call Saul and MythBusters. I also regularly use the BBC , Channel Four and ITV on demand players to catch up on the odd program.

My current guilty pleasure is Ninja Warrior UK. Great program, total Gladiators rip off but there you go. My problem though is the ITV player, every time you log in to watch a program you get ads (fair enough this is ITV after all). Then when you pause the program you seem to get ads. In actual ad breaks you get ads. When you get a phone call and pause the program you either get ads or it re-sets itself to the start of the program and guess what - you get ads.

Then, when you fast forward to where you were in the program you get however many ads would be in the two or three commercial breaks you 'missed' be re-starting the show.

I am literally not joking when I say that to watch the Ninja Warrior UK final from last Saturday (30th Of May) has taken me over two hours factoring multiple re-watches of ad breaks - that is for a 47 minute 43 second program.

Lunacy ! Plus no one won the program - what's the point ?

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Slap me on the head and call me 'Nancy'

In the past couple of weeks I have moaned and then crowed about Apple and Fitbit respectively.

Moaned about the big fruit because my Apple Watch, ordered the 11th of April was due to arrive with me between the 22nd and 29th of June. And praised Fitbit because of their exemplary service.

This morning I received an e-mail from 'Widget UK' saying my Widget UK order was due to arrive tomorrow. I assumed that this was my replacement Fitbit which I had confirmed as being processed a week or so ago. No mention of which product is being delivered though in the mail.

Yesterday morning my Apple Watch order changed from the above dates to dispatch between 17th and 24th of June - so a bit better but still disappointingly a way off.

This afternoon, just for the sake of doing it I checked my Apple Watch order again and bugger me if it isn't being dispatched for delivery between the 29th of May and the 1st of June. One assumes (there's that word again) that the above 'Widget' mail is the Apple Watch but it is really unusual not to receive a note from Apple themselves and have the delivery agent beat them to the punch. I suspect that my Fitbit will actually arrive tomorrow and then the Watch the day after.

Bit confused - too much new tech.....


Thursday, 21 May 2015

Props to old fashioned marketing/advertising

Walking up to my local town centre this afternoon I spied a new computer shop that has opened in place of a hair salon. This is good because we have bloody loads of hairdressers and barbers in Yeadon - about 15 at last count but no computer repair dudes.

Shop looks good, lots of cool gadgets in the window, seems quite friendly looking and had a the need for computery repairs then I would almost certainly try them out. Interestingly they had a little plastic leaflet dispenser attached the outside of the shop with some low cost photo-copied/printed handouts out their business. Thought this was a really clever idea, very cheap for them to do and made them stand out to me - in this day and age of a glorious social media it's nice to see a small local business interested in walk-in trade.

Thought it was worth giving them a shout on my blog as a result, here's their details :

Yeadon Computers, 6 Town Street, Yeadon LS19 7EQ - 0113 2508952.

If you need your pc repaired or upgraded or whatever in North Leeds give them a call.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Excellence in Customer Service from Fitbit

It really doesn't take much.

I know that companies make mistakes and I have always said that the strength of a business is not whether we make errors - humans make loads, computers more and most companies have loads of both.

No, I've always thought that the strength of a business is not in the number or severity of mistakes it makes (although severe repeated mistakes are obviously of concern !) but rather in the speed and facility by which they repair the errors.

So unusually for my blog I have a quick story of a success - a business who have frankly astounded me with their responsiveness. Take a look at the pic below :

Fitbit Charge - purchase Jan 2015
This is my Fitbit charge bought four months ago. I noticed on Sunday afternoon that the strap casing is coming away next to the LCD unit (centre right of the picture) and contacted their customer service automated e-mail address with details.

24 hours later I have a response with clear info they need to assess the damage and come up with a solution. Within three hours of my reply to that message this morning I have a reply back from their warranty team confirming that a new Fitbit is on it's way to me within 7 to 10 days.

Sorted, minimum of hassle and I also get to keep the old damaged one which as they suggest, I will recycle.

Really nice to deal with a company who understand the need to sort out customers - cannot speak highly enough of the process + love the Fitbit product anyway and their back up software which I also use dozens of times a day.

Quick update to the above post :

Fitbit just e-mailed me back - here's what they said :

Hello Phil,

In behalf of the whole Fitbit team, you're very welcome!

Here at Fitbit our main goal and concern is to provide our customers with a quick and simple solution, striving to always provide the best customer service.

Thank you for being a part of the Fitbit family.

Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns, we'll be happy to assist.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Apple Watch Pre-Order Omni-Shambles

I ordered my Apple Watch on the 11th of April - one day after pre-orders went live on the Apple Store.

Since then my order has sat saying dispatch in June.

Today the status changed to order dispatched in 5 to 6 weeks. So this means the middle to end of June as a delivery date. This is kind of what I expected but still disappointing.

Made even more disappointing by the fact that the store is now showing delivery on all 42mm sport versions as delivery in five to seven weeks. Broadly this means that anyone who wants to order now is probably going to receive their order at the same time as me - that is simply unfair - either there is a point to pre-ordering and you get priority on stock or just don't bother with pre-orders Apple.

What makes it worse is that I know of several people who ordered the same version of the watch as me well into April (one on the 24th) who've had their watches through already - so in essence Apple are sending out orders to everyone except the enthusiasts/early adopters who always drive their new products - will think long and hard before buying another Apple product so early in it's life cycle and am seriously considering cancelling my order.

Discourteous driving

Driving through the outskirts of North Leeds this morning - Yeadon to Horsforth to West Park.

Drove past West End Primary School at 8.15am and was met by the usual parents dropping off their kids. In the space of less than 100 yards though one parent pulled away from the kerb causing me to have to break, another on-coming vehicle (who had dropped off their child lower down the road) swerved towards the centre of the road trying to bully me into stopping for her as she approached a vehicle parked on her left, my right (where of course I had right of way) and lastly whilst going past the same parked car on my right another on-coming car (who had been parked behind the previous vehicle) essentially forced me to drive into the off side kerb to avoid her wing mirror smashing mine - even so it was flipping close.

I know that mornings can be stressful and people have to get off to work after they've dropped off their kids - but nearly forcing me off road three times in 20 seconds seems a bit extreme.

Of course I'm guessing that these three ladies would be the kind of person who would, on foot, stand and take down my registration number if I had done any of the same things.


Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Review of MPOW Bluetooth 4.0 wireless headphones

Have just uploaded a You Tube review of the above headphones.

You can watch the review on my You Tube Channel here. Basically they're a solid pair of wireless sports headphone. Pretty easy to set up. Solid in the ear but with some slightly odd sound reduction properties if you try and use them to take phone calls.

All in all a strong 3.5 out of five especially when you consider they were only £ 15.19 from www.amazon.co.uk.

Awful response from my GP practice

On the 8th of May I published a post discussing how my GP surgery made a mistake and I ended up being charged for 4 prescriptions instead of 2.

Not a major issue of course but I wanted to try and recoup the overpayment and as outlined I attempted to contact the GP Practice Manager not once but twice in person and then (now) a total of eight times via e-mail.

So far I have had no response whatsoever.

I've also now posted on my blog, left a negative review on FourSquare, Facebook and their own NHS rating website - response thus far - nothing apart from one of the GP's at the practice (not the doctor in question) asking to become a contact on Linkedin.

So I'm going to turn up the heat al little and start tweeting and using social media more proactively to try and get a response from them. It's not really the £ 16 (although I would like that back) it's more the fact that GP's must make mistakes like this daily and most people have no way to fight back and ensure they're treated fairly.

Additional Notes - 19/5/15

So finally had a response from the surgery on this matter on the 18th of May from one of the senior doctors at the practice. In essence they've agreed to refund the 2 prescription charges that were made 'in error' and to raise the issues around the mistakes at their clinical review meetings. The reason for the slow response was put down to my using the wrong e-mail address to contact the practice manager (which incidentally was given to me by the practice !).

What hasn't been explained was the slow response time and the fact that I complained twice at the practice in person and was given no support - except the wrong e-mail address !

Will be donating the £16 refund to charity incidentally.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Issues with my GP and 'double' charging for a prescription

Had some issues with our GP in the last couple of weeks - in essence following a simple mistake on the part of one of the GP's we ended up having to pay for 4 lots of prescription charges rather than two - over £ 16.

The issue here isn't really the money (although it is !) the practice made a mistake, not us but we ended up footing the bill. What if this happened to a person who couldn't afford to pay for the prescription twice ? The analogy I use is a simple one. I walk into a shop, any shop anywhere. I discuss my requirements with a sales person or cashier and am given an item we agreed on. However on leaving the shop I discover they have accidentally given me the wrong item. In every case in every situation the shop would (quite rightly) correct their error.

For some reason not only would the reception staff at the surgery (despite being asked twice) nor the Practice Manager even discuss the issue with me. In fact I have now e-mailed the practice manager on no less than seven occasions since the 28th of April. Each e-mail is polite and concise - I have not even had an acknowledgement.

As I have had no response I have decided to take the subject to social media to see if that garners any response from them.

Here's a transcript of my initial e-mail on the 28th which outlines the exact situation (names and so on removed for confidentiality. The practice in question is : Yeadon Tarn Medical Practice on Silver Lane in Yeadon, Leeds West Yorkshire  

"My {FAMILY MEMBER} saw Dr X'XXXXXXXX this morning for severe ear ache. She had spoken to '111' overnight as the pain had been so intense and was advised to visit the GP urgently in the morning. The appointment was at 8.50 a.m.

During the consultation (which I also attended) we made it clear that my {FAMILY MEMBER} cannot swallow tablets - so the doctor even commented we would need soluble drugs when she prepared the prescription for pain killers and antibiotics. On collecting the prescription we realised that we had been given standard tablets not soluble versions and returned to the pharmacy to correct. Lloyds Pharmacy wouldn't change the prescription without a note from the doctor and I returned to the surgery. Eventually at 11.00am I was given another 'script and had this made up.

However, the pharmacy would not dispense the drugs without a second payment for two items, I returned to the surgery again and asked to speak to you (the Practice Manager - Averil Jardine) to clear this 'double charging' up but was told you were unavailable. So I wanted to make you aware that I have now paid an extra £ 16.40 for two unnecessary individual items following a basic error at your end. 

I really do resent paying a second set of unnecessary prescription charges. I would be grateful if you would be able organise a quick refund for £ 16.40 from Lloyds. 
 
Happy not to raise a 'formal complaint' so we can sort this out informally.

Very happy to arrange to bob in to the surgery to speak and for Lloyds to credit my card." 

As you can see the e-mail was to the point but extremely pleasant and that has been the tone of all my communication.

I wonder if publishing this on social media will have any impact on the response I receive from the surgery ?

Monday, 27 April 2015

Podcast update ...

Just posted a short podcast over at www.pmicast.podbean.com which will shortly appear on iTunes and all goo pod catchers (search for 'PMICast') giving some info on why there has been no PMICast for several weeks and why there isn't going to be one for the foreseeable.

I will definitely carry on podcasting but frankly the format I had just began to bore me and I couldn't be bothered keeping it up to date. Currently working on a new idea/format and hopefully will launch something new over the summer.

Where's Wilson, my semi-regular SF podcast is definitely still alive and kicking and so probably is Afternoon Train - but no plans at the moment to record episodes of either in the next few weeks.

Watch this space for more info !

You Tube Karate Videos

As well as using this blog to publicise my main medical insurance business (shameless plug for my Premier Choice web-page) I'm not above going for some additional pushing of the karate club in Leeds that I am now running.

We train twice a week at Yeadon Westfield Infants School - Monday and Wednesday - Beginners at 6.00pm and Main Class starting 6.30pm.

There is a You Tube video of me here - which introduces me and the club.

However the Yeadon club that I run is part of a larger club which is based at Halton on the authorised of Leeds. They train at the Leeds Premier Fitness centre, owned and run by my college : Sensei Michael (Tat) Tattersall - 6th Dan instructor.

I came across this video, also on You Tube which shows the Halton location and the first half of the video is concentrated on the karate club and you can see Tat demonstrating a take down and then some sparring from around 30 seconds into the video. Have a look and see the kind of training we undertake over at the Yeadon club as well.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Blimey O'Malley - 232 view on my blog yesterday !!!

I have absolutely no idea what happened yesterday but for some reason I had the most hits ever for a single day on this blog - a total of 232.

Wish I'd been advertising my business more (for assistance on all aspects of new or existing medical insurance call me on 07792 075748 or e-mail : philknight@pch.uk.com) or had talked about my new karate beginners class - tomorrow or Wednesday at 6.00pm for 30 minutes at Yeadon Westfield Infants School in Yeadon Leeds.

If you did visit yesterday please come back and buy medical insurance from me or join my karate club !

Friday, 24 April 2015

Karate Update

As I mentioned in previous posts my karate beginners class which began at the start of 2015 is going down very well.

I already have a number of people who have progressed to yellow belt (four in total) and a new bunch of people confirmed as starting next week plus one or two thinking about it. We accept new beginners at any time so there is no waiting for a place to come up - just call or e-mail me and I will run you through how to join up !

I have also performed a series of school assemblies around the local area with (hopefully) more to follow to get in a new younger generation of karate ka. Nothing more terrifying than standing up in a go in front of 300 five to eleven year olds !!!

If you or anyone you know is interested in karate training please direct them to us - we train twice weekly at Yeadon Westfield Infants School LS19 7NQ with the beginners class starting at 6.00pm for 30 minutes and the first two lessons are free to see if you like it !

If you have trained at martial arts before I would probably suggest you actually join the main class (which trains 6.30 pm to 8.00 pm) as pro-tem yellow belts whilst I assess you and see where you need to begin - as always with people with some experience of the marital arts it isn't always right to start you off as white belt beginners again but of course we need to get you up to speed with kata and stylistic differences - our Shukokai style is pretty easy to pick up and if you've done Shotokhan, Wado Ryu etc you will probably recognise a lot of the basics, Pinan Kata's and so forth.

As an aside prior to training in Shukokai I trained in a Wado Ryu style for many years so I went through all of the issues with starting a new style from scratch some years ago so I can definitely help wit this aspect of things if you want to come along and try us out.

For more information just call me on : 07792 075748 or e-mail : pkn4395@gmail.com

Look forward to training with you !

Sensei Phil Knight
Club Instructor
Leeds Premier Karate Club (Yeadon)

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Apple Watch update

So been fairly radio silent on the blog recently and wanted to update on a few issues in one go today.

Firstly Apple Watch : on the pre-order day last week I hmm'd and haagh'd before finally ordering on the second day and as a result my watch ;

The 42mm black sports watch with the black band is now not available until June earliest - by then I may well have gone off the idea to be honest - I've had the iPhone 6+ (which as you might recall replaced my stalwart Note 3 in December) for five months now and am a bit bored again and considering a change. If Google get's it's finger out and has the IOS app for Android Wear available in the next few weeks I might end up selling the phone, cancelling the Apple Watch order and going for a new Android and Moto 360 watch all for what I would sell the 6+ for - we'll see.

If I do eventually get the Apple Watch I will do a proper un-boxing video this time as well so watch out for that too.
__________

The PMICast podcast is not dead just resting. To be honest got a bit disillusioned with it - the time it took and the format I think got a bit stale and with everything else just kind of lost interest in taking the time and effort to plan content, record and edit (haha) then upload. I still regularly think of ideas and wonder whether they would be good features in a podcast. At the moment I am in the early stages of re-imagining my three podcasts : PMICast (medical insurance, boring work podcast), Where's Wilson (comedy SF and TV podcast) and Afternoon Train (crazy train of thought ramblings) into one coherent longer show with a number of features from each with maybe some tech involved - it's just time and inclination. If someone with some mutual interests wanted to help out by co-hosting that might make me more inclined to crack back on with it but I would need to record during the weekday - let me know if you're interested ? Leave feedback to this post or e-mail me : pmicast@gmail.com.
__________

I've now taken my first tranche of beginners through the assessment process to yellow belt. We ended up with five new beginners of whom one dropped out (although she may be coming back as she left for financial reasons) and four are now yellow belts.

This leaves me without any any beginners at the moment but marketing for new ones is underway and I am doing another school assembly on Friday to see if we can pull any kids in - I've also offered to do assembly for a number of other schools as well.

So well done to the four new yellow belts, now in the main class 6.30pm to 8.00 and if anyone out there wants to try karate just let me know - details as above.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Karate Demo yesterday evening

Presented two demonstrations at a Sports and Activity Fair in Leeds yesterday evening and had a small team of senior belts/instructors with me manning a stand to discuss our karate club with visitors.

The event went very well and I am hopeful we will pick up new members on the back of being there.

Spotted something a little unusual at the Fair though. As well as ourselves in attendance there was also another karate club, a taekwando club, aikido and thai boxing.

So of the five 'martial arts' represented only two took the (free) option of putting together 15 minute demonstrations (ourselves and the thai boxers) and in addition during the rest of the event all of the clubs were able to put mats down and perform some exercises for visitors who were mingling around the stands.

My club did some pad work for kids, demonstrated kata, self defence techniques and advanced kicking against the pads. I actually got as good a work out in amongst chatting to people as I do in a training session I think.

The other clubs, by and large did very little.

My impression was largely that they were a little unsure about showing off what they did. It also occurred to me that maybe we were a little loud for them ?

Regardless, if the point of the event is to put your martial arts style forward I'd rather be up front, chat to people and show them what we do.

Kind of like life generally !

Monday, 30 March 2015

Come learn about karate - tonight at Benton Park School in Yeadon, Leeds.

We will be at the Sports and Activity Fair at Benton Park school this evening from 6.00pm with demo's at 6.00pm and 7.30pm. Click here for details on the fair

Please come along, find out and join karate and get healthy.

For info call me on 07792 075748 or e-mail pkn4395@gmail.com


Karate Demo in Leeds tomorrow evening

Tomorrow evening I am running a stand for Leeds Premier Karate at the Sports and Activity Fair being held at Benton Park School in Leeds (Harrogate Road, Yeadon, Leeds, LS19 6LX).

The event has various sporting and social activities taking part and we are hoping for a good turnout - in addition I am also running two demonstrations - one of self defence (we call 'attack and defence') and another on a range of kata's the times are : 6.00pm and then 7.30pm.

If you're in the area and fancy chatting though what we do and finding out a little more then you would be very welcome.

If you'd like more info or directions sending call on 07792 075748 or e-mail pkn4395@gmail.com

See you there !

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Why is Agents of Shield so boring

Happened to catch 15 minutes of a recent ep of Agents of Shield by accident yesterday and it got me thinking. It's ok TV, not much happening a lot of chatting with a bit of action but really it's a standard action drama with a bit of comic book/supernatural/science 'stuff' going on. But then so is X-Files, so is Supernatural and so on.

Why then is AoS a bit dull but yet Avengers Age of Ultron - which after all draws from the same universe and indeed in some cases shares characters - going to be a massive, cool box office smash.
To me the answer is obvious.

Having bought comics since the age of 4 or 5 I would definitely buy an Avengers book but Agents of Shield is a bit like Marvel Team Up or Aquaman - if the book was there and I had nothing else to do I would pick it up and read it but I'd never buy it with my own money.

So comics TV I think works in the same way - if the book isn't action packed with interesting characters and a strong story line then the TV show will be the same.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Some people just do not get it !

The point of Linkedin, as I understand it is to create an interactive environment where business professionals and business owners can set up their stall in a slightly more formal version of a social network website and exchange ideas, refer clients, source services and highlight/market their own business.

It is an environment of give and take - i would always use Linkedin to source any professional service I needed and when the opportunity arises refer clients to contacts and so on. A bit like a referral club or business network a la BNI (if that sort of thing floats your boat).

It always staggers me that when (as I occasionally do) I market my services on Linkedin to members of local business groups - from which I regularly pick up good clients - every now and then you get some nay sayer moaning about your contacting them, asking to be unsubscribed and so on.

I think perhaps it's them that should hit the unsubscribe button and leave Linkedin - I can understand them not wanting to go along to a client swapping BNI chapter (I've always found that sort of thing a bit false and uncomfortable so I'm not a member). My view is that as long as Linkedin messages are cogent and polite I'm always happy to receive them and more than that I often take up the service or contact the message sender - that's the point of Linkedin : to expand our business boundaries, learn about other businesses and get involved.

Obviously this process was prompted by a negative message I received following an innocuous message telling someone about my business - ironically this person is also a member of the White Rose chapter of BNI - I wonder if he tells visitors to his networking group to 'unsubscribe' when they ask him for a lead and then purposefully ignore them for the entire meeting - some people really do not get the point.

Jesus Wept !

Weekly up date

OK so I have been better this week and this is my fourth post on the blog (making a grand total of five posts for the entirety of March).

This week I have spoken to a group of 50 IFA's, developed a new marketing strategy, spoken to a couple of new introducers and managed to pick up several new client leads.

My problem though this week is that typical of most end of the month weeks no one has sent back any application forms - I've just sent out a number of chases this afternoon to clients letting them know that their cover is not in place until they return their application form - despite this set back (the month should have been excellent but instead has been just average) I have over £ 5,000 of commission in the pipeline plus a healthy set of renewals for May and June - it's just a little frustrating that clients don't always respond as quickly as one might like. Never mind.

Several really good prospective client reports to write next week including two personal clients where the premiums will be over £ 250 per month and a decent corporate scheme renewal to look at as well.

I've really ramped up the marketing this week, working late every night so far (except Thursday) to get my message out to more potential clients - seems to be going ok - no PMI leads from that effort this week (I suspect it will take a week or two more of effort for this to pay off) but three medical indemnity leads this week and a good number of hits to the medico legal marketing business website.

I will be finishing off Friday with another flurry of marketing and more to come next week as I embark on a new sales mailer program and also possibly some press advertising as well.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Update on my talk this morning

Firstly, thanks for the invite from Owen Wright for the invite to address the Sheffield Life and Pensions group at the AMP Technology Centre this morning - it is always nice to get out and about and touch base with colleagues.

We had an excellent turnout and hopefully the talk on the technicalities of modern medical insurance and what is required from IFA adviser who wish to remain current with their market research was of interest to the audience. Certainly the talk went as planned and I had a number of encouraging conversations with delegates in the coffee break following my section.

The aim of the session was not to 'sell' my service of working with introducers on their healthcare business but certainly a couple of people did mention they might well like to pass a case over to me - so very worthwhile for me too. However, I hope that I was able to get across some of the key issues for both client and adviser when providing a pro-active review of new and existing medical insurance plans. I feel that often advice on medical insurance can be an afterthought for some advisers (due to work load and the time taken to remain up to speed on industry changes) and this is doing a dis-service to bot their practice and of course the client. Anything I can do for IFA colleagues to help them in this area makes senses in terms of helping expand my industry and ensure more and more clients have the right medical insurance plan.

As I mentioned to Owen before I left I will be happy to chat with anyone who is interested in medical insurance or who has questions even if they are not considering sub-contracting their PMI business to me - always happy to help !

I'm also hoping to provide the same talk to other similar institutes around the country if they are interested. The talk is very focused on technical and sales/market research issues and would suit a mixed group of IFA practitioners who have any level of interest in the medical insurance sector.

All I would ask is that if the event is outside of the Yorkshire area my travelling expenses are covered. Just let me know - pmicast@gmail.com

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Speaking engagement tomorrow

I am speaking tomorrow at the Sheffield Life and Pensions Technical Group at 9.00am at the AMP Technology Centre near Rotherham/Sheffield and the subject of my presentation is a technical overview of key sales and research issues for IFA's when advising clients on private medical insurance.

Very honoured to be asked and fingers crossed it's a good show - they have 50 individuals registered to attend (gulp).

Will give an overview of the talk here later in the week hopefully and may also try to record as an episode of PMICast as well if possible - depends on acoustics as much as anything.

Wish me luck !

Monday, 23 March 2015

Intensive marketing

After (another !) quiet period on the blog I have been working behind the scenes to increase the marketing that sits behind my business. In fact the level of enquiries coming in has actually been quite good and I am receiving leads on at least a daily basis both direct and from my introducer ITA/professional adviser clients.

However the type of lead has changed over the last few months - I have been receiving less direct leads and more introducer cases and in addition the business seems to be taking longer to convert from lead to actual new business/appointed client. The knock on effect is that more time is taken 'shepherding' leads to becoming new business and my fear is that in six or twelve months time the new business pipeline may look healthy but the actual income from those cases won't be materialising fast enough. Of course this isn't a major catastrophe as my renewal flow is still looking ok.

With this in mind I am therefore embarking on a few new marketing campaigns which should be revealed here later. The aim being to increase the income flow by ramping up the pipeline a little. So hopefully this means more activity generally both here and in other of my social media elements plus of course more activity from clients coming to me as well - fingers crossed and things can move to the next level.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Nothing much happening - how did this post get so long then ?

It has been a quiet time on the blog recently.

I have been involved with putting together a lot of new client reports and new marketing initiatives and just haven't had time to put 'pen to paper' (fingers to keyboard ?).

I've also had a dearth of issues I wanted to cover off here to be honest as well and as much as anything am posting this here today for the sake of it rather than because I have anything specific to really say.

Did have an interesting experience yesterday morning when a marketing company based in Leeds called me and offered me £ 100 to join an on-line industry focus group for their client. I answered a few questions on the phone to see if I was within the criteria for inclusion in the group - I was (apparently) and they took my details to e-mail me the log in details for the session on Monday afternoon. One of the questions they asked me was my employment status which is self employed, sole trader. This did not seem to cause a problem.

However less than four hours later the same marketing company called back to tell me the inclusion criteria had changed - no self employed. I was out and no £ 100.

This is laughable - in financial services there are either employed consultants or self employed and in healthcare in particular there is probably a pretty even split between the two categories - to exclude self employed consultants from the panel makes literally no sense - it means that your focus group is actually a lack of focus group and the information you receive is going to be skewed. I came across a classic example of just that this week (more on that later).

What it all boils down to is that there is no way (imho) they decided to exclude self employed people from the process - I would guess that either the marketing company made a cock up in numbers or the client company saw my name and for some reason wanted to exclude me - in other words there was a criteria they told potential delegates and then another more secret one they were actually imposing - either way it smacked a bit of unprofessionalism and left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

The other issue of course is that as a self employed sole trader they dangled £ 100 cash in front of me and then snatched it away - that is of course worse than never having had the offer in the first place.

Because of this annoyance I contacted the company via Twitter and made my concerns known to them and to be fair they are going to come back to me on Friday to discuss things - that is of course why I am not identifying the company in this blog post.

Frankly I'm not too bothered about not being involved in the event, nor about the £ 100 (although it would be nice) - I just worry about an industry that cannot be transparent about this kind of thing and how clients would react if they are told one thing and then the company does another - financial services has enough PR problems generally without back room machinations on broker panels becoming apparent.

Last thing.

I mentioned/alluded to in the section above above a case where being self employed offers the client a different experience to being dealt with by an employed person.

Came across a client insured by a small provident insurer whose renewal on the 25th of January 2015 came with a 28% increase. The existing broker, a large national company sent out the renewal terms less than a week before the 25th with no advice or support other than the renewal docs.

The client who has been through a divorce in the proceeding year and had other on-going issues simply didn't have time to review before the case renewed. So she has now come to me to look at things for her - the frustrating thing to me is that moving a client to a new insurer (as we will in all likelihood need to do) actually gives rise to more income for the intermediary than renewing where it was - this means that because the person dealing with the case at the old broker didn't care enough to review the case or advise the client in anyway even though it could have netted more income for her company and of course (holy grail) given the client better deal.

I regularly pick up business from larger intermediaries where there has been a lack of service or something like this was missed, from pure laziness and apathy rather than anything else.

Generally renewals hit my desk at least three weeks before the renewal date so there is no excuse for sending them over to the client late - this case was simply a person sitting in an office following the path of least resistance - it takes a bit of time and effort to review a clients cover and without incentive or initiative to work on behalf of the client my experience is that people will not.

So, it transpires I did have some stuff to talk about after all.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Quick post - PMICast 64 now available

The latest episode of PMICast is now up on iTunes and at www.pmicast.podbean.com

Said it was a short post !

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

That time of the month

Well it's that time of the month again.

When I get to the end of the month and am looking at the out-standing bits of business and forms that clients need to get in to me to ensure their plans are up and running. I generally find that my state of anxiousness is proportional to the number of cases out-standing multiplied by the remaining working days in the month.

I always look forward to the call from the client in the middle of the following month which goes something along the lines of ...

"my plan is all set up now isn't it ?"

I reply "no, you never sent me your completed application form/direct debit"

The client asks "why am I not on cover" and I remind them politely that until they send back their form, literally nothing can happen to put their cover in place.

So the rest of this week is going to be a bit hectic following up of all those outstanding cases - sorry for bothering you if you're on the list but it really is in your best interests !
_________

On a different (but not totally unrelated topic) I'm really ramping up the marketing at the moment so will be hoping to welcome new clients and introducers to my business and of course many of them will find this blog - so welcome !

If you need assistance with any aspect of new or existing medical insurance I am your man - please call me on : 07792 075748 or e-mail : philknight@pch.uk.com

Thanks

Monday, 23 February 2015

Kerfuffle on Linkedin

Apparently last week there was mention of me on a Linkedin group talking about how I am the person to go to if you're an IFA who is interested in offering medical insurance to their clients.

Whilst this is true and really flattering I'm struggling to find the group and comments myself.

So this is a quick post to thank who-ever put the positive comments and of course welcome to any new readers who have come across me now following this positive publicity - proof that social media work always comes good in the long run when you use it in a non cynical fashion.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Weekend social media update

Three things to quickly announce here.

Firstly, after a 13 month break, Where's Wilson my SF TV and movie podcast is back with a Avengers (Age of Ultron). This is a fun podcast (not so serious as PMICast) that covers off SF TV and movies plus a bit of martial arts. I co-host the show with Ryan my 9 year old - it's usually quite a bit of fun so please try it out.

It's in the PMICast stream so you can find it under PMICast on iTunes and also at www.pmicast.podbean.com.

Secondly I've just put up an unboxing video (my first) for my new iPhone 6 Plus case - so please have a look at this one too. Its the Spigen Slim Armour CS and if you'e interested in buying this kind of time I'd suggest you have a look - not too many for this particular item out there. Will probably also put up a full review in a week or two. View video.

Lastly my son Ryan has wanted his own Skylanders video You Tube Channel for ages so we've just recorded and uploaded his first video - please take the time to view it - he would be pleased to pick up a few views. Watch Ryan here.

Cheers

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Podcast stats update

Since I launched the PMICast podcast around 18 months ago there have been over 86,000 'listens' to the podcast on the website www.pmicast.podbean.com.

We're averaging around 200 listens to the various podcasts available (63 episodes to date) each day so something in the region of 6,200 per month at the moment. This doesn't take into account downloads from pod catcher apps and iTunes. not getting accurate stats on this at the moment but historically we were averaging around 2,500 to 3,500 per month - so I'm guessing that we're now at something in the region of 9,000 total downloads per month.

Goes to show what you can achieve from scratch with a little bit of work.