On the road to Machu Picchu

TRAVEL: Inca Trail wraiths on road to Machu Picchu

MACHU PICCHU: The wraiths slide down the cliff, clinging to the blue mossy granite, slinking toward the eerie stone structure that is Phuyupatamarka.

Chilly tendrils of mist reluctant to give up the earth, they whip down and over its ancient concourse, scrubbing it with a ghostly ether. They then race up the yellow grassy headland towards me.

The tendrils launch themselves at me, enveloping my throat, my arms, my body, and whispering threats I can’t understand. I freeze as they race past me toward a soaring cliff’s edge and more interlopers who have invaded their ancient enclave.

In the rarified air of the Andes, 10,000 feet above sea level, the ghosts of the ancient Inca kings are reminding me they don’t like visitors. Or so I think. Suddenly, an updraft, born far below _ a mile below, in a small town anxious to scrawl its destiny in the sand _ shatters the icy fingers and blows them to the four winds.

Maybe it’s the lack of oxygen but my imagination’s running riot. It’s been like this for days as I trudge past rocky ruin after beautiful rocky ruin, in the cloud forest of Peru’s High Inca Trail.

Looking down at faraway Aguas Calientes, I wonder if the vapours stalk its townsfolk too, mistaking them perhaps for shades of the marauding Spanish man-horse beasts who whipped the Incas into submission with arquebus, religion and disease 500 years ago.

Not all of the Incas succumbed, though. Learning of the slaughter at Cuzco and elsewhere, and fearing their own, many withdrew to the faraway reaches of the mountain jungles.

The most famous of their abandoned hideways is where I’m headed. The lost city of Machu Picchu. Spirits willing.

Discovered in 1911 by a professor from Yale, Machu Picchu is hard to get to. Five days by foot across stony frozen passes, along vertiginous crevasses, past brightly-coloured wild orchids, in the shadow of serrated snow-capped peaks, suspension bridges, wild rivers.

The trail is beautiful going but tough. Treacherous rocky paths and staircases — one foot wrong and you’ll do an ankle, knee or worse —  are constant pitfalls for the unwary. I limp in, up and over the Inti Punku/Sun Gate ridge, knees considerably worse for wear.

It’s little wonder the wicked Pizarro brothers never found Machu Picchu. Outsiders would only ever find it by accident, which is exactly how Hiram Bingham did so a century ago.

In 1911, Machu Picchu was an overgrown ruin Bingham mistook for Vilcabamba, believed the last stronghold hideaway of the Incas. His stunning find sent an electric shock through the world of archaeology.

The day I arrive, it’s still red-hot _ a favourite in a huge world-wide 100-million vote for the New 7 Wonders of the World. The place is buzzing with hundreds of tourists pouring over the site, 2350 metres above sea level.

Down in Aguas Calientes celebrations are in full swing. Cusqueno beer, pisco sour cocktails and cachasa caiparinhas you might drive your car on are all disappearing fast. Raucous Santana riffs are stripping the lurid paint from the town’s walls, so too the village brass band and classical music blasting from the town square’s stage. Even builders are dancing on the church roof.

The following day, it’s officially listed as a maravillo  —  in company with the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, Rome’s Colloseum, the ancient city of Petra, Rio’s Christ Redeemer statue and Mexico’s Chich aacén Itz aacá.

I get back up the mountain by 7am to beat the rush, which I do by about 10 minutes.


train wreck

Train wreck: the old ’73 comes to grief

North Geelong, August, 1873: TALK about bursting your boiler. This is what happens when a train’s  means of power and propulsion, the boiler, breaches its pressure co-efficient.

A goods train bound for Ballarat was passing the Telegraph Bridge at what was then called Kildare at 11 in the morning when a ‘terrific explosion’, viz, the bursting of the boiler, pitched the locomotive on its side, presently a spectacular image of mangled engineering.

Drinkers, staff and residents in the nearby Telegraph Hotel, pictured at the rear of this scene, would no doubt have emerged startled by the noise and anxious about the fate of the train’s operators.

While the engine was lumped on its side, the tender was thrown across the rails, and six trucks and vans were heavily damaged – one of the trucks ended upside down against the embankment.

The derailed train presented a picture of destruction and confusion. Not so much confusion, however, that the bloke pictured here front and centre of the wreck wasn’t happy to pose proudly for the camera. His serious-looking colleagues appear more anxious about the damage effected and how the track might be cleared.

The explosion threw the engine driver, owner of the impressive moniker Auguste de Pazanan, and fireman Thomas Macnamara from the engine. They landed on the embankment and were lucky not to sustain serious injury.

The trucks and their contents, including rod iron, timber and cases of oranges, presented a scene of ruin and industrial/agricultural chaos.

Workmen were engaged all day and night repairing the track and crowds of spectators watched proceedings. Twenty of the workmen came from Williamston and at night some of the timber from the smashed trucks was piled up for bonfires – providing the necessary light for work to continue.

It’s hardly the only disaster to hit the Geelong line. In fact, the line was christened with a disaster.

The official maiden voyage, on June 25, 1857, with the governor Sir Henry Barkly and entourage (his suite, as it were) in the first carriage of the train, journeyed went from Geelong to Williamston and back.

Five hundred guests packed into 10 carriages – government department bosses, train company execs, industry captains, shareholders, the press and other hangers-on. It was a monster occasion, one with some 2000 people at the official dinner that evening in a makeshift dining hall – the railway station’s passenger shed.

But not before tragedy struck. The train pulled out of Geelong 10.30am, all parties laughing and carrying on, and made its way to Cowie’s Creek where the railway company’s superintendent of locomotives, Henry Walters, was standing on the engine holding on to an iron upright. The train was nearing the bridge opposite the Ocean Child as Walters turned about to check the rear of the train.

His head belted a timber beam on the bridge and he fell off the train. Doctors tried what they could but Walters was dead inside four hours.

But the show had to go on, and on it did, reaching Willy by 12.10pm and returning to Geelong by 2.20pm.

Not bad time considering what some present-day football trains can achieve. Mind you, it did stop for water and coal at Werribee.


Chartwell: Old Winston’s aching piles …

Chartwell: It looked an impressive housing estate. On paper, at any rate. There was Oxford Street, that first-rate London shopping thoroughfare. And Mayfair Avenue, after some of the most expensive real estate in London.

There was Downing Street, for the British prime minister’s residence; The Mall, for the Horse Guards Parade and the thoroughfare leading to Buckingham Palace; Finchley Court, after the seat held by Maggie Thatcher.

Who wouldn’t want a piece of this real estate? Back in the mid-1980s, there certainly were people who wanted in. Mind you, the property was a bit out of the way, plonked as it was on the outskirts of the Shire of Melton at Mount Cottrell. Well north of Werribee, south of Rockbank and, well, a long from anywhere.

But it was Woop Woop with ambition. After all, the subdivision was named Chartwell after the family residence of Winston Churchill. A name that also assumed some Ponzi prominence in Geelong a while back. To the best of this scribe’s knowledge, however, it’s no relative. Mind you, there do appear some rather similar problems.

The folks who invested in this Chartwell soon found the development wasn’t entirely to their liking. Basic infrastructure — roads, gutters, footpaths, water — failed to come through and before they knew it their precious blocks of land were little more than dust-bowl sites stranded in yet another of the many failed residential subdivisions dotted across the state.

Still, a handful forged ahead and built their homes, sans facilities they’d earlier anticipated, and today a small clutch of long-established houses can be found at this particular Chartwell.

But they’re few and far between and the streets and courts and avenues that were obviously intended to become a suburban idyll never quite made it there. Roads are still unsealed and facilities thin on the ground, notwithstanding a CFA station you’ll find the Melways has sited squarely in prestigious Mayfair.

For unassuming Melton, it’s another connection with the illustrious Churchill of Chartwell. An old aeroplane that sat for many years on a farming property north of the township was reportedly used to fly the British statesman to the Yalta conference with Roosevelt and Stalin in February 1945, where the Big Three tried trying to figure out the governing of post-war Germany.

A fight-flight metaphor might be applied to those who invested a pile in the Churchill pile here in Geelong — about the governing of their post-Chartwell finances.

That’s Chartwell Enterprises, of course, not the Chartwell estate where, among the streets, you’ll also find a Wandsworth St. Wandsworth, incidentally, is where the largest prison in London is situated.

Funny that.

A Bali volcano, a witch queen and a palace mystery

TRAVEL: DOUBT if living in the shadow of a Bali volcano is everyone’s cup of tea. Especially one that’s  properly blown its stack in ready living memory and poised to do so again any minute now.

When you’re a peasant farmer living a subsistence existence in eastern Bali your residential options aren’t many, though. Even so, the grey Gunung Agung, set to erupt again, 50 years after its last eruption — about 15 seconds ago in geological terms — is revered rather than feared.

The gentle Hindus living in the shadow of Agung believe it was formed from a fragment of the cataclysmic splitting of Mount Meru — the cosmological spiritual axis of the universe — by the god Pasupati. At 3140 metres in height, 10,000 feet or so, that’s a fair fragment.

Geologically, Agung is impressively known as a stratovolcano. Standing at its base, driving about in its penumbra, basking in the sun in the rice fields around it — however you interface with it — its omnipresence is undeniable.

Visitors arrive by bus, motorbike and chartered taxis to witness its towering attitude, many of them happily scoffing banana fritters for breakfast before launching into a bike ride back to Bali’s cultural heartland, Ubud.

Pea-green rice paddies, terraces and palms, villages and villagers, it’s all very picturesque. The bonus is bugger-all puffing because it’s all downhill, for the main part anyway. And at the bottom, there’s invariably a Bintang or two awaiting the desiccated pedaller.

And really,  who’s normally going to worry about a volcano in Bali? Ummm, yeah. Of course, the recently smoking Mount Rinjani on neighbouring Lombok was of concern, too, and with good reason. But it’s funny how it, and other ash and pumice-belchers in Indonesia, don’t generally stop the tourists or locals going about their business. Go figure.

First time I encountered Agung was 20 years ago, climbing a multitude of steps in the blazing heat at its Besakih foothill temple. Its impressive nature drew me back recently, as did the surrounding countryside with its glistening terraces, sighing palms, snake-fruit orchids, forests and humble villages. I’d forgotten the rocky, tortuous roads, which have improved markedly but with a commensurate increase in traffic.

I headed south and east in Agung’s shadow, searching for a royal water palace I’d once visited in Amlapur. My old photos showed exquisite stone sculptures, a multi-tiered fountain, terraced gardens, stone bridges — a gorgeous collision of colour, art and water fed by natural springs.

When my taxi ushered me to the site, however, I was bewildered. Nothing seemed the same. Not a skerrick. The buildings were unrecognisable, the entire shape of the water palace totally unfamiliar.

But the hydro-folly, which dates to 1919, was remarkable nonetheless. It boasts exquisite floating pavilions and carved stone walkways, palms and lotus ponds, flowers, grassy terraces, arches, statues, royal furnishings and photographs of its builder, the King of Karangasem, with all his 24 kids. Prolific bloke, that one.

It was built around a pool, the Kolam Dirah, once part of a punishment site for black magic practitioners and named for a legendary witch queen who fought it out with the king of what’s now East Java back in the 14th century. These days, the only detainees in the water palace appear to be dozen inquisitive and out-of-place deer kept coralled in pits. It’s considerably more salubrious than in the past.

Like the surrounding countryside, it was battered by the 1963 Agung eruption along with an earthquake in 1979, which all but destroyed the place. World Bank funding has helped restore the palace to its original glory and a steady succession of taxis and tourists keep the turnstiles clicking. Visitors can stay on site in villas if they so wish. With Agung to the north and the sea and Lombok’s Rinjani to the south, its outlook is spectacular.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure how I’d got it so wrong, though. This was not the water palace I visited at Amlapura before and, with precious little Balinese in my kitbag, no-one I met could understand my confusion or offer an explanation. Back in my hotel, at neighbouring Candidasa, I consulted a couple of dog-eared guidebooks and Dr Google before finally getting to the bottom of my mystery.

Turns out I Gusti Bagus Djelantik, the King of Karangasem, built not one but two water palaces. I was at the Taman Ujung water palace. The one I was missing was Tirta Gangga. Both of them are in Amlapura and only a few kilometres apart. My driver had simply gone to the palace he thought I wanted.

So go figure. Two of the things. I suppose it’s a kind of royal equivalent to stumping up a couple of cars for your teenage kids. When you’ve got two dozen fractious rug-rats, why wouldn’t you build two swimming pools? You can’t throw them in a volcano if they’re acting up, can you?

Then again, when you’re a king …

Selling property: Reveal that true sense of place

Selling a property and looking for that extra edge to attract potential buyers?

Maybe you need to lift your game beyond listing just the normal features and attributes of said property.

New owners like to know about their prospective pile’s story. Its background. How it fits in locally.

Older houses often boast curious and unusual stories; layers and colours, if you like, across the years.

Dig about and find what stories there are to your house, to its occupants, its neighbourhood, and you could have a serious additional selling attribute.

Sure, features, location and price are all important. But just think, if you’re buying a new house wouldn’t you like to know its story?

Sense of place is valuable. So value it.

The following is an example of how you can tell such a story.

Oh, and another tip — use a professional writer to do the job. It can make all the difference.


Cypresses and currawongs, bunya bunya pines and peppercorns, art deco and heritage are part of the furniture around Eastern Beach.

So too, heritage properties, bluestone pavers, the smell of the sea, history dripping from the fig trees and 100-mile views across glistening waters to faraway hills and horizons.

Peep inside a few houses and you’ll find all manner of collectibles, old architectural renderings, glorious cornices, fireplaces, verandahs, cast-iron and polychrome masonry, observatories …

It paid to be observant in early Geelong. Eastern Beach oversaw the merchant trade that grew Geelong as it plied its way across Corio Bay below, right from the port’s earliest Point Henry days and the shaky-looking jetties off Yarra Street.

Police quarters and pilot houses were positioned high on what is now Eastern Beach Road. Until 1960, it was Victoria Parade. With no trees impeding their view, the inhabitants of these quarters had first sight of ships entering the bay.

Painters such as Mossman and Liardet, in the 1840s, depicted Eastern Beach as an area apart from the centre of Geelong. It was lightly wooded and a solid uphill walk from the Corio and Yarra streets CBD. But then, everywhere in Geelong was an uphill walk those days.

It wasn’t long before the town’s well-to-do took up residence there: Fyfe, Day, Douglas, Solomon, Harding and numerous others all found their way over time.

Alexander Fyfe, one of its earliest developers, built the illustrious but ill-fated Singapore Terrace there. Just near Swanston Street; nine magnificent units of imported cedar and housing more than 70 wealthy residents.

That was in 1855. In 1862, sadly, the whole project came crashing to the ground in a terrifying blaze.

But Eastern Beach didn’t lose its allure.

In the late 1880s, an exquisite etching of Eastern Beach by artist Melton Prior was published in the London Illustrated News.

The area was clearly a prosperous Antipodean idyll, populated with wooden bathing sheds and sailing ships. Elegant, coiffed ladies, well-dressed gentleman and happy cherubs lolled and strolled about the grassy cliffside paths. Two-storey mansions punctuated the background.Things didn’t come much better in Victorian times.

By the 1920s, buildings such as the Walbaringa Maisonettes, Windlesham and Rosehaugh brought new inter-war architectural blood to a precinct where accountants, merchants, auctioneers, solicitors and retailers had long occupied federation and Victorian cliffside homes.

Rosehaugh, at present-day 48 Eastern Beach Road, was built by William Reid after he bought the site as fenced land from the estate of John Price in 1923. The Reid family kept the house until the late 1960s when it was bought by Clive Hill. It changed hands again, more recently, to its present owners, who hail from Victoria’s southwest.

Less than a stone’s throw from the historic iron prefab Corio Villa, which sold for an undisclosed sum in 2013 after being advertised at more than $5.2 million, Rosehaugh is an extremely rare property to hit the market.

When the Californian bungalow-styled Rosehaugh came into being, then as now, big changes were afoot in Geelong.

The Market Square clock tower was removed, after nearly 70 years in the town’s centre, Bert Rankin was given the nod to skipper the Geelong Football Club ahead of their first VFL flag. Carji Greeves took out the first Brownlow Medal, after Charles Brownlow died months earlier.

A new bridge was built over the Barwon, Ford started building a new factory at North Geelong, the Phosphate Works too. The Joy Ark on the waterfront was being dismantled, its frame to be re-used building The Palais.

Meanwhile, City Hall was clamouring for a clean-up of the rubbish tip further out around neighbouring Eastern Park, presaging the start of building on the art deco swimming enclosure at Eastern Beach. Things were looking up for the area, and by and large they’ve remained up ever since.

Mind you, salubrious as Eastern Beach might be, it’s not been without its peccadilloes.

Running squabbles between police and hoon hot-rodders were long a fixture of the area. No so these days. And a certain former mayor resident along the cliff-face once campaigned for a casino on the waterfront, basically in front of his home, before he was bundled away behind bars for nicking millions that he blew on gambling.

There’s also the story of another former mayor, and a senior local public servant, both resident on the estimable Eastern Beach, as the road is abbreviated, clashing nastily over fenceline encroachments, reportedly with sizeable firearms drawn in the standoff.

One of the more curious tales involves Dr Day, John Day, whose home was beside the site that would become Rosehaugh. Day experimented with all sorts of things; ozone, hydrogen peroxide, turps, benzene, petrol, essential oils inter alia. He ran up diagnostic blood tests and other clever 19th century medical advances.

Day’s antiseptic work led to the world’s first toilet deodoriser. A chemical version, perhaps, of the gnarled ancient peppercorns lining the former Victoria Parade once widely viewed, in the days of nightsoilmen, as repellent to insects and other nasties.

They’ve certainly helped maintain that salubrious aspect of Eastern Beach, those pretty, heavily-scented beauties. And make no mistake, this address is still salubrious.

Very salubrious.


Fathers Day

Fathers Day: Socket sets, drills and birds eggs

Funny the things you think of around Fathers Day. Kids, socket sets and drills, belts and socks, burnt toast and scrambled eggs, maybe a bottle of whiskey. All of which is terrific and I love the collection of coloured pasta cards and paintings I’ve been stashing away since the kindergarten years.

But, increasingly, I find myself thinking of tiger snakes and circuses, irrigation channels, drenching sheep, birds eggs, scoring at cricket, tennis practice against the garage door, haystacks, comic books, Viscount cigarettes … things I did with my old man when I was a kid. Maybe not the smokes.

The lion tamer we saw under the bigtop, the week before I started school, was immense but the earliest memory is probably on his knee in the back yard with Blackie. Poor mutt died to a bait. Raised above his six-two head, the world seemed a long way below. Watching him wield an axe in the woodheap was an awesome spectator sport for a three-year-old.

Farm life was frogs and caterpillars, cows and sheep, magpies and Joe Blakes, and lots more. Dad let us kids push him over the fence to be chased by bulls. Great joke. When a tiger snake snuck under the laundry’s wooden slats he introduced it to hot water. Under the house, he had his mate come round with a shotgun to clear it out.

He was fast bowler with the weirdest run-up I’ve seen. Kind of like Fred Flintstone’s twinkle-toes tenpin bowling run-up but deadly. Hat tricks, bowling averages, captained premiership teams, hit a century the day my brother was born — all of this after a sterling NSW schoolboy career in tennis, rugby and rowing with pennants and trophies all over the garage.

Drove me to distant farms — across rickety wooden bridges, up steep bush tracks — where he’d help some cockie with pasture irrigation, maybe a leaky dam, some soil advice. We weighed sheep, tagged them, drenched them. Roamed about strange plots called 12A or somesuch, checking pasture samples, digging boreholes, moving sheep from paddock to paddock. “Way back, Lassie! Way back!” we’d both bellow at the generally confused kelpie.

He’d disappear for days at a time for field days, to visit farms. Names like Elmore, Hamilton, Casterton, Warrnambool, Dookie, Numurkah, Rochester, Kyabram were familiar to me long before I ever knew where they were. He’s come home with all sorts of things — one time, chunks of green moss on a mission I requested. When the Melbourne Show was on, he’d work there with the Ag Department and bring home cowboy hats, Coles showbags, licorice galore, comics.

We’d visit the upstairs office where he’d check files and reports while I’d ransack the place for anything of value to a kid. Or I’d sneak into the nosebleed haystack next door to watch goings-on far below. One shed below served as a kind of general store with newspapers and stuff.

The old boy and I would put the milk bottles out at night, spread honey on hot bread when it arrived in the morning. In winter, we’d crack the ice on puddles, cut kindling and check paddocks for mushrooms. We’d pore over solar system planets on petrol station posters, Tarzan comics, books about Cro-Magnon hunters, Aladdin, Moby Dick.

He could pull the tablecloth off the table without breaking anything. We’d listen to The Seekers on an old timber stereo that also played his old 78s. “When whippoorwills call and evening is nigh ….”

Dad humming tunes from the 1940s carried us all the way up to the Mitta Valley to see his Dad, old Ned, of whom I was apparently the spitting image. He was his old man’s pride and joy: boarding scholarships all the way through St Pat’s at Goulburn and St John’s at Sydney Uni. Ferocious bloody school reports he collected.

Milking cows, a spot of shooting, chasing turkeys, kero heaters, fire-driven fridges, drying clothes in the oven, the Angelus and old photos were the order of the day at The Mitta. And stories about floods, farms, mountain funerals, Banimboola, Tallangatta, Yackandandah, Wagga Wagga, families — Duncans, Carmodies, Larkins, Finns. Must get back there.

I was Dad’s first kid, he fathered seven of us, so he was pretty happy when my first kid came along on his birthday. Sixty-six years later, mind you. Was going to call the bub James, too. After him.

She’s pretty happy we didn’t.


Storyteller: Tell us a story, your story …

So here’s a few questions you probably ask yourself more often than you want.

How do I make my business more attractive? How do I make my sales staff more interesting to clients? How do I make advertising and marketing pitches sing?

Sound familiar? They’re pretty fundamental, everyday questions.

They shouldn’t be.

You’ve probably tried tackling them with more advertising. With a greater presence on social media. With louder, amped-up websites.

And you might have enjoyed a reasonable degree of success, too.

But somehow, for all your good work, things seem to have levelled off. Plateaued.

Now you need something new, something fresh, to win new traction for your business.

But ideas are thin on the ground. That “Eureka!” moment’s just not happening.

Maybe it’s time to revisit an old friend:


Yes, sure, you’ve done content up to your eyeballs. Like everyone else, you know content is king. And like everyone else you’ve made sure your content is informative, short and sharp, easy to understand.

But unlike everyone else, are you offering something different?

This could be the real question you need to address.

This especially so now, when content has developed a certain sameness across more than a few industry sectors.

And while everyone’s bombarding everyone with – yawn — friendly banter, yawn, oh-so-clever maxims and generic insights, and muzak life tips, well … it all becomes white noise after a while.

People switch off. They’re sick of it, frankly.

And your content can be a crossfire casualty.

Ask yourself, would you read your content if it wasn’t about your business?


So what to do?

Maybe it’s simpler than you think — if you get creative at telling your stories.

The internet loves the unusual, the quirky. It’s screaming out for the unusual, for the entertaining, the whimsical and engaging.

Your clients might appreciate a new perspective.

You don’t have to stop what you’re doing. Just finesse it a little.

Make it a little more fun, more engaging. Utilise the fun side, the quirky aspects, the human side, of your business.

Not sure just how to do that?

Talk to a storyteller. An experienced, professional writer.

You might just be surprised at how good a story you’ve never shared.

And so might your clients.

Reveal yourself

Loosen up, reveal a bit of yourself

This could be a reveal. How’s that profile of yours going?

I don’t mean to get too personal but do you think it’s still cutting it?

Lots of competition out there, you need to be at the top of your game. And you know the old story … first impressions matter.

So, again, how’s that profile of yours going?

Is it showing you as the professional only and not your personality?

Not every client is going to connect with a mega-driven, ultra-focussed, uber-confident superhuman.

Many would be just as comfortable with someone they can relate to, and who they believe has their best interests at heart.

Maybe a lot more comfortable.

Is your more human side something your current profile reflects? Does it show anything of your other interests? What you do outside of work? Things where you might find a natural common ground with your clients?

It might be sport, a theatre group, a wine-tasting club, or arts and crafts of some sort. Maybe you’re a charity volunteer, maybe a bellringer at the local church. Perhaps, like this scribe, you double up as a musician.

Does your profile reveal some of the other you? You know it might just help you engage more effectively with your clients if it did.

Like I said, I don’t mean to get too personal but it might be time to talk to a writer. One who can convey all your attributes to your clients.

The Building blogs of business

Blogs: Building blocks of business relations

Blogs and building relations are critical to sales — first-time sales and ongoing sales alike.

We all like to deal with brands, with companies, that are familiar. Names that we know and feel comfortable with.

But how does a business help grow that familiarity, that confidence, that comfort factor?

In many ways, truth be known. But one very special way is with blogs.

Why blogs?

Well, for one, because a blog doesn’t have to try to sell something.

A blog can be like a chat with a girlfriend over a coffee, with a mate at the footy. What you’d call a water-cooler conversation. It’s not the hard sell. It’s not selling anything, actually. Except goodwill.

The blog idea is simple. Talk about something interesting, maybe something topical.

Talk in a way that shows your personality. Engage your blog’s reader to show you value them beyond just the money they might mean to your business.

In many countries, business is all about relationships and friendships.

Friendships are important because they grow and depend on trust. But friendship depends on talking with one another.

You can do that talking with a blog. It’s easy. Invite your clients to talk, listen to what they have to say. Talk to each other. Communicate. Become familiar with one another. Listen to the feedback and learn.

Blogs are a great investment in your business’ most valuable asset, its people. They could work wonders for your business.

Get ahead of the game. Get blogging.


PS: What do you think of this blog post? Email me @

Engage more often

Engage more with your clients … it’s your call

How often do you hear that you need to engage more with your clients?

Be nice to have a dollar for each time you did. Be even nicer, better for your business, if you could actually engage more often. And a bit more easily, too.

But you know the story, finding time is tough. Your business is already demanding your attention, always. Then there’s the family, the kids, the gym …

It’s a wonder you have any time free at all, let alone for extra engaging with your business network.

Still, you know the importance, the very real value, of making that extra contact. Of checking in, even if just for a quick g’day, with your clients.

A phone call goes a long way, of course. And if you can squeeze one or two in while you’re in the car, terrific. But mobile phones have a way of adding to the busyness of the coal-face, and cutting out what might once have been a little free space.

Even if you can get in that call or two, how do you stop yourself sounding stressed or forced? Or worse, like you’re ticking the boxes?

At the risk of sounding a little old school, what about sending a personal email? Maybe even an old-fashioned letter?

Yeah, yeah, who has the time for that? And who reads their emails, let alone snail-mail letters?

You might be surprised to find it’s lots of people. You read all your own, don’t you?

Okay, people might not get right back to you straight away if you write them, they might be busy too. But rest assured, a quick personal note just touching base, even if there’s nothing much going on, will be noted. And appreciated.

It shows you value them.

Trick is, how to get out to those clients quickly and efficiently when your time’s at a premium already.

In truth, it’s not really so hard. Not much more than a quick phone call, really.

That’s provided you talk to someone who can relay your thoughts and your personality — readily and concisely — out to your network.

You need a writer. That’s what they do. Write just what you need. Quickly, properly and, importantly, professionally.

Talk to one next time you get a free minute or two. Make that minute or two. You might just be saving your business.

And you might be surprised at just what else they can help you with as well.

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