World in Motion by Simon Hart – A Book Review

As a Liverpool supporter, I enjoy reading autobiographies of great players including Sir Kenny Dalglish, Steven Gerrard and John Barnes, as well as other football books that look at Liverpool’s history. In addition, I also enjoy reading about international football, including the England national team and the World Cup.

As I write this, the 2018 World Cup in Russia is currently taking centre stage, which has already seen a number of surprises. During matches, I have just finished reading World in Motion by Simon Hart, which looks at the inside story of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, and how its impact changed football forever.

Once I started reading, I was hooked and absorbed by how the book painted a fascinating and colourful picture of Italia 90. From Gazza’s tears, England’s journey to self-final heartbreak, to the emergence of Cameroon, Costa Rica and the Republic of Ireland on the World Cup stage, the book chronicles a tournament put to the memorable sounds of New Order’s World in Motion.

World in Motion is more than just about football. Instead it leads you on a journey through a period in history, before the age of the Premier League, and the evolution of the game into the billion-pound industry that we know today. Told through interviews with key players from Italia 90, the book explores and vividly describes the experiences, emotions and circumstances of the players, supporters and countries, at a time of change with the Cold War ending, the Berlin Wall falling down, and cultural barriers between East and West disappearing.

The interviews themselves are a tremendous collection of anecdotes, which are funny, entertaining, yet also poignant reminders of a different time. From all over the world, these interviews include several key players from Italia 90, including Cameron’s Roger Milla, Italy’s star striker and World Cup leading scorer Toto Schillaci, and also England’s Terry Butcher, team captain on that dramatic Turin semi-final against West Germany.

I found the players stories to be very interesting, with some making me laugh, and also thinking about what if results had turned out differently. Indeed there were several times, when I thought about those two words “what if”. These include what if Paul Gascoigne hadn’t been booked, what if Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle had scored in that heartbreaking penalty shootout, what if Cameroon had gone further, or what if Yugoslavia had beaten Argentina. Reading the book, there were so many moments that made me think about “what if”, which is one of the reasons why I loved World in Motion as a book.

Overall I found World in Motion to be a superb engrossing read, well researched and put together by Simon Hart, with the interviews giving this book a big heart, and a strong sense of nostalgia. If you are a football fan, I wholeheartedly recommend it, as it captures the spirit and essence of Italia 90. For those who remember watching the tournament, every one of the 384 pages will take you back in time, to those hot summer days of Italia 90.

To conclude this review, I would like to leave you with a montage of Italia 90, put to the memorable music of Luciano Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma.

Hope it brings back the memories!

Ciao!

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Weightmans Wednesday – Veeno

In Liverpool, there are so many cafes that serve tea, coffee and snacks. However there is also a cafe called Veeno on Castle Street, which serves Italian wine and spuntini, which means little snacks and appetisers in Italian.

At last week’s event at Weightmans LLP in Liverpool, I had the pleasure of listening to a presentation on the background story of Veeno. This was delivered by Nino Caruso, the CEO and co-founder of the business. Nino delivered a delightful presentation on Veeno’s origins from co-founding the company with Andrea Zecchino in 2013.

Listening to Nino’s presentation, I was entranced by his story. Nino talked about his background in wine, forged through four generations of his family’s vineyard in Sicily, providing pure naturally produced Italian wine to over 35 countries, and how Andrea and himself, founded, grew and nurtured the business. In addition, Nino also talked about the future of Veeno, including the challenge of developing a corporate structure that supports the business, whilst retaining its unique identity.

From the event, I learned some interesting facts about Veeno, which I have listed below:

  1. Employs 150 people in the UK.
  2. As well as Liverpool and Manchester, they also have stores across the UK including Edinburgh, Leeds, Leicester and Nottingham.
  3. 10 more cafes are due to open in the UK in 2018.
  4. Veeno made £4.3 million in total revenue in 2017.

The facts above show how Veeno has grown as a business. However it is more than just an Italian cafe that serves wines and spuntini. They also host wine tasting sessions for businesses and groups of people. Having attended the occasional past event at Veeno, they are a completely unique experience which I recommend to anyone.

Nino’s presentation was more than just talking about Veeno’s success as a business. It was delivered with a soft and heartfelt tone. As Nino spoke, I picked up on his passion for wine, life and family, encapsulated with a beautiful photo of Nino and his wife, married in his family’s vineyard in gorgeous Sicily sunshine and blue skies. Closing the presentation when talking about his grandfather, I heard Nino’s voice crackling gently with emotion, which I found rather moving. It was a beautiful end to a beautiful event.

I would like to thank Nino for an informative and touching presentation, as well as Ricky Heath and everyone at Veeno. My thanks also go to everyone at Weightmans for organising a lovely evening of networking.

BIMA & Microsoft Roadshow Liverpool – Wednesday 2nd May 2018

Working in the IT industry, it is important to keep abreast of the latest developments. For me personally, I like to take an interest in how the changing technology landscape, affects both the economic and social society we live in.

Earlier this month BIMA North West in partnership with Microsoft held an event at Avenue HQ, which looked at the above. I was looking forward to learning more about how Microsoft is developing technological solutions, which will shape the future for businesses and agencies. In addition, I also relished the opportunity to network with other technical professionals and creative minds.bima_microsoft1

The event began with an introduction from Andy Kent of Angel Solutions and Ian Finch of Mando. Both set the tone, by talking about the innovative work of their agencies, and how emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and cloud computing are changing how businesses operate.

Andy and Ian were then followed by James Akrigg of Microsoft, who delivered an informative presentation. This looked at using AI to understand and translate languages, as well as Microsoft’s ongoing research to improve its capabilities, including image recognition and cognitive services (vision, language, speech, emotion and audio). All of this sounds like science fiction, but they are becoming more entrenched in reality.

Following this, the event split into separate workshops that were delivered by Microsoft technologists, Philip Harvey and Jodie Rodgers. Each presented various aspects of how technology and data can be used intelligently by businesses. This included looking at good practices of intelligent handling, storing, processing, and cleansing of cloud-based data from its rawest form, to accurately visualise and present it. By using these innovations, this provides businesses with the opportunity to identify areas of improvement, and create further value.

What impressed me about James, Philip and Jodie, is they were knowledgeable, friendly, and able to explain technical content in a simple and understanding tone. Coming from a technical background, I was able to understand the terminology, and it was wonderful to sit and listen to them talk about such exciting technological innovations. Quite simply I shall say, the possibilities to enrich and benefit businesses and society, are endless!

So what did I learn from the event? The answer is that I picked up so much in great detail about Microsoft’s Azure cloud solution and Power BI data analytics tools. There were also reoccurring themes from the event related to data and technology, which I have learned and included below:

  1. Data is the new oil!
  2. It is important to amplify human ingenuity with intelligent technology.
  3. Technologies have to be the right fit for a business.
  4. Ability to process data is a vital skill in the marketplace.
  5. Today’s software is becoming smarter.
  6. Before using data, it is important to sort, cleanse, organise and secure it.
  7. If harnessed intelligently, data can bring value to any business.
  8. Quality of data is important, and security is everyone’s responsibility.
  9. Humans prefer data presented visually.
  10. Data needs to be accurate, cleansed, simplified and presented in real-time.

Following lunch, there was an opportunity to take part in a boot camp. This involved taking a fictional case study and applying the knowledge learned from the workshops to devise a solution. Working as part of a team, I was able to contribute ideas, but also to listen and take in suggestions of fellow team members, before helping to present a solution to other attendees.bima_microsoft3

To conclude, I loved every moment of this event. From the speakers, networking and those incredible Microsoft tools, this has given me an insight into the future. It has also given me fresh impetus to learn and write more about AI, ML and cloud computing, especially Microsoft Azure, which I am looking forward to sharing in the future.

I would like to thank everyone involved with organising a terrific day. This includes Andy, Ian, everyone at BIMA, Angel Solutions, Mando and also to Avenue HQ for their hospitality. My thanks also go to James, Philip, Jodie and everyone at Microsoft for sharing their knowledge, technical expertise, visionary thoughts, and their smiles and humour.

If you would like to find out more, why not click on the link below:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/partner/digitalagency/

Thank you for reading!

MYP Networking Masterclass with Dougal Paver – Thursday 26th April 2018

When networking, one of the pleasures I get is learning from the experiences and stories of others more experienced than me.

Last month, I attended a networking seminar jointly hosted by Merseyside Young Professionals (MYP) and the Chartered Institute of Securities & Investments (CISI). Held in the lavish surroundings of Signature Living’s 30 James Street hotel, this was hosted by Dougal Paver of Merrion Strategy, regarded as one of the most networked people in Liverpool. I have heard several great testimonials about Dougal’s networking skills, so I was looking forward to learning from a master.myp_networking_masterclass1

From start to finish, Dougal delivered a first-class tour-de force seminar. Drawing on his vast experience with humour and wisdom, I was taken by the scope and breadth of Dougal’s networking knowledge, especially on the technical aspects, some of which I had never known previously. As a result, I not only found myself listening with great interest, but I also mentally related Dougal’s knowledge and understanding of networking to my own.

Along with consolidating my own knowledge, there were other useful techniques that I learned. Some of these were completely unique to me, as I had never thought about them, when attending past events and seminars.

These techniques included the following bellow:

  1. As the world changes you need to stay relevant, which is where networking helps.
  2. Small talk works as it helps to find common ground.
  3. Pay attention to what’s happening out there.
  4. Read the Economist and subscribe to your client’s trade magazines, and your industry’s newsletters.
  5. Networking won’t always deliver business, as it is about delivering long-term relationships, based on mutual trust and respect.
  6. Never dominate others, so remember to back off!
  7. Keep your social media activity professional.
  8. Plan what you can add to an event.
  9. Ask for the guest list.
  10. Evaluate what you got from an event and plan for the next.
  11. In theory, 150 is the maximum number of people you can maintain a relationship with.
  12. Demonstrate your capability and worth over time.
  13. Be reliable and always remember to follow-up.
  14. Your existing network must be nurtured with care.
  15. Remember to show your gratitude by saying thank you.

Dougal also explained about a key aspect of building and sustaining relationships. These include sending relevant articles, reports, and white papers, along with introducing clients to people who may help them, as well as inviting them to events. Another method to build relationships is to promote the work of your clients, e.g. blogs, articles and their businesses. Whilst I have applied some of the above, I have not always been consistent, meaning this is an area of personal development that I will need to address.myp_networking_masterclass3-crop

Overall I was very impressed with Dougal’s presentation of a true networking masterclass. From sharing his knowledge and experience, I was completely mesmerised by his performance, content delivery, humour and storytelling, which captured my attention throughout. In fact, I was so spellbound that I came out the seminar afterwards, feeling I had learned from a master networker. Such an experience is always a sign of a fine speaker, which is high praise indeed!

I would like to thank Dougal for presenting a magnificent seminar, MYP and CISI for organising a first-class opportunity for myself and everyone, and to the staff of 30 James Street for their hospitality. To conclude, I would like to end on the following point that encapsulates what networking is about.

Networking is what you make of who you know, and what use you let them make of you!

 

Social Media Meetup – Thursday 19th April 2018

Recently I attended Social Media Meetup, which was held at Launch22 in Liverpool. This was organised by Mark Russell of bmicro, and featured knowledgeable speakers in Peter Buglass of Objective Comment Consultancy and Edward Ridding of Umami.

I had never been to this event before, although others in my network had recommended it, through word-of-mouth on LinkedIn. Therefore as a blogger, I decided to attend the event, and see what I could learn. It was certainly worth the investment of my time and energy.

The event featured a brief talk from both Peter and Edward, who shared their professional experiences of using social media, as part of their businesses. Peter and Edward also gave their views on the recent announcement of JD Wetherspoons, closing down their social media accounts, and allowed the audience to contribute to the discussion.

From this, the discussion opened up a wide range of opinions, leading to other relevant issues surrounding social media. These included how organisations collect and use personal data, to provide personalised communications to their customers. A typical example is Amazon using data collected on customers, to send personalised ssm2_290418recommendations, based on browsing and shopping habits.

In addition, the event allowed the audience to ask each other questions, and discuss how to improve their online platforms. This was a good opportunity for me, to tap into the experience of the speakers and audience, who gave me some useful advice and pointers.

There was a real community feel to the event, as the audience was a diverse mix of professionals from different backgrounds, including entrepreneurs, digital marketers and bloggers. The bloggers I met included Jo Fitzimons who not only has a travel blog called Indiana Jo, but also a prosecco themed-blog called Visit Prosecco Italy. Another blogger I also met and was impressed by was Aditi Chawla, of Try New Today. Being surrounded by like-minded people, and a friendly dog called Buttons was very relaxing and pleasant, making this one of the nicest events I have ever attended, and one that I recommend to anyone.

If you have ever been to Launch22’s offices in Liverpool, I guarantee that it offers something completely different (in the words of Monty Python). As a co-working space, Launch22 has a quirkiness andssm1_290418 homely environment allowing for entrepreneurs and creative-minded people to launch their dreams. Such homeliness was evident, when I noticed a huge teddy bear in the office.

To conclude, I would like to personally thank Mark, Peter and Edward, and everyone at Launch22 for putting together an evening, rich in learning, delightful conversation, and for the popcorn.

I shall certainly be looking forward, to attending another event in the near future!

BTR Liverpool Half Marathon 2018 – My Recollections

Have you ever felt the urge to do something you have never done before?

Something that challenges and pushes you out of your comfort zone?

Last month, I did exactly the above, when I ran the BTR Liverpool Half-Marathon for the first time. Whilst I have previously taken part in the Santa Dash and Scouse 5k for charity, my reasons for doing the Liverpool Half-Marathon were different. As well as to lose a few pounds, I had also set myself a personal challenge of running a half-marathon, so this forced me to step out of my comfort zone.

In order to take the half-marathon seriously, I trained hard over a period of 12 weeks. This was to ensure I was physically and mentally prepared, although I must confess there were occasions when I wondered what I had let myself in for. However I was excited and looking forward to tackling the half-marathon, and as race day approached, the hardest part was keeping focused, whilst trying to remain calm on the surface.  Indeed the night before, I barely managed to grab any sleep, as I was pumped up, full of adrenaline and raring to go!

On the morning of the half-marathon, I arrived at the Pier Head feeling relaxed, calm, and yet keeping my mind solely on the challenge that lay ahead. Taking up position at the start, I was surrounded by blue skies, beautiful sunshine, and a carnival-like atmosphere, with plenty of colourful sights, sounds of music and joyous excitement. There were thousands of runners taking part, with lots running for charity, including several dressed in superhero outfits and funny costumes. I even recall noticing a runner dressed up as Captain America, and another as a bumblebee, which certainly added to the fun-filled mood.

Soon the run started, and everything that I had prepared and trained for, came together instantly. It struck me that I was now entering the unknown, like Christopher Columbus sailing and discovering America.

The route itself was demanding, yet also picturesque. From Mann Island, the route passed along Upper Parliament Street, Park Lane, Sefton Park, through Otterspool Park and back along Otterspool Promenade, to the finishing line at the Three Graces. Running along the route, taking in the sights was a delight for me, and along with the cheers and encouragement of fellow runners and passers-by, certainly kept my spirits up.

I realised the half-marathon was always going to be a physically draining effort. However I learned it also required a great amount of mental strength, to persevere to the finish. I discovered this when I felt a sharp pain in my right leg, about halfway through the race, which prevented me from running at my best, meaning I had to power walk the remaining distance. Rather than damaging my confidence, this setback only served to spur me on to keep going, despite the pain. This was rewarded when I eventually completed the half-marathon in a time of 2 hours and 51 minutes, of which I was delighted and ecstatic.

As I crossed the finished line, the reality of what I had achieved sunk in, and I felt extremely proud, even I was feeling numb and in pain, whilst walking like John Wayne!

Looking back, I feel great pride in succeeding and meeting my goal of completing the half-marathon. Of course, there are aspects of the training, preparation and running I would have done differently in hindsight, but what I achieved in completing the half-marathon though my hard-work and determined efforts, shows that anyone can achieve anything.

To conclude, if what I have achieved inspires other disabled people like myself, then I am proud to have helped in blazing the trail.

Thanks for reading!

Weightmans Wednesday – Capital of Culture 10th Anniversary

2018 marks a decade since Liverpool was voted European Capital of Culture. Since 2008, it has transformed the city, and like millions of others, I have seen this through my own eyes, filling my heart with nothing but pride.

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending an event held at Weightmans LLP in Liverpool. The event featured an interesting presentation from Robin Kemp of Culture Liverpool, about Capital of Culture’s impact on the city, the upcoming 10th anniversary, and of the future cultural plans for Liverpool.

There was a rich tapestry of information that I learned about Capital of Culture. From the success of events such as the Giants Spectacular, Three Cunard Queens, Liverpool Biennial and Liverpool Pride, the effects of such a prestigious accolade cannot be underestimated. The impact of Capital of Culture, has boosted the local economy, and increased the city’s tourism profile, culminating in Liverpool being named as one of the top holiday destinations to visit in 2018.

Robin also briefly talked about Liverpool 2018, which is a year-long festival of programmes. The purpose of Liverpool 2018 is to celebrate the city’s cultural and creative heritage, and also to plan for and build upon the next decade. The festival includes events such as the Chinese Terracotta Warriors, Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta, Bordeaux Wine Festival, Future World of Work, Liverpool International Music Festival 2018 and many more interesting events. Looking at what Liverpool 2018 offers, this promises to be a creative, innovative and thought-provoking programme, which will showcase the city’s creativity to a national and international audience.

Capital of Culture has also helped Liverpool to attract new investment. This is evident through the development and success of major conference attractions held at ECHO Arena Liverpool and Exhibition Centre Liverpool, which has attracted major UK and international events. Such examples including the 2016 Labour Party Conference, MTV European Music Awards 2008, BBC Sports Personality of the Year, and the International Business Festival, amongst many other high profile events.

To conclude, I would like to express my thanks to Robin for giving a great presentation, and for whetting my cultural appetite. Finally I would also like to thank everyone at Weightmans, for organising an entertaining evening of culture, networking and conversation.

Bring on the next ten years, and beyond!