Mike's Life Stuff

Are Starbucks Killing Their Brand?

When I first discovered Starbucks many years ago, I felt immediately at home with the brand and I would walk or drive some way to enjoy a coffee with them.


For me, they had three unique selling points:

  • The coffee was superb
  • The staff were super friendly and welcoming
  • The premises were always immaculately clean and comfortable

For those three reasons, I was always prepared to pay their premium prices.  read more »

Who's The Most Important Person In Your Business?

Ask most business people, and they will glibly tell you “It’s my fantastic staff.”

And, of course, assuming it’s the staff that are the interface with the customer, they’re absolutely correct.


But, too few actually carry that thought to it’s natural conclusion, because whoever those people are – serving in your shop, pumping petrol, delivering your product, answering the phone – how many are actually getting:  read more »

  • A serious investment in their training and skills?
  • A salary that reflects that they are really important?

What Happens When You Ask Me For A Read Receipt On Your Email

“xxx has asked for a receipt when you read this email. Do you want to send one? Yes or no!”

Read Receipt

“Blast! What should I do? If I click no, he’ll think I’m being evasive. Better click yes.

Double blast! There are things I need to do before I reply, and now he knows I read the email at 0918.

I’d better stop what I’m doing right now, postpone that coffee break and do those things.

Phew, that took some time. OK, now I can reply to him.

Suddenly, I don’t like this guy.  read more »

If I Was The MD Of That Big Company - Part One

I’d start off by explaining to my co-directors and senior managers that:

Boss  read more »

  • The most important people in our business are the ones who face customers
  • Our job is to support them and to free them from administration to give them more time to help our customers
  • They know far better than we do what our customers need and want, so we should listen to them
  • Our executive parking places near the front door are no more – they’re now for customers and visitors

Only One Business Can Be The Cheapest In Their Market

When price is your USP, you leave yourself nowhere to go if someone can do it cheaper.

And they will.


In a holiday resort close to where I live, there’s a “Food price war” going on right now. Bars and cafés are offering a full English breakfast for as little as €2.50, and Chinese restaurants are offering an “all you can eat” buffet for €5.50.

What will they do when the new kid on the block does the breakfast at €1.99 or the buffet at €4.99. Will they follow? Will they beat the price?  read more »

Road Test - Lexus CT200h

I probably shouldn’t read other people’s road test reports on cars I’m about to try out, but in this case I did.

And I can’t help thinking that many other motoring writers simply don’t “get” the Lexus CT200h. They lament the tardy zero to sixty time, complain that the styling isn’t great and whinge about the handling.

Lexus CT200h  read more »

On Hotels

I like to think of myself as a five star kind of person. All through life, I’ve always strived (and all too often failed financially) for the finer things in life.

But a recent experience made me question that whole philosophy.


I spent two nights in two different hotels – one a four star Hilton in a big city, the other a lowly Premier Inn, near a provincial airport.  I didn’t pay the bill – I didn’t even see it, but checking their respective websites it looks like the second was less than half the price of the first.  read more »

Update on 2011 - Part Three

So we’ve covered all the work stuff and it’s time to focus on the personal side of life.

Haria Extreme Run

I’m A Triathlete

You probably know that I decided to become a triathlete in 2011. Julie calls it a mid life crisis – on my 50th birthday in March I announced I wanted to do Ironman in 2013. Typically, she decided to join me!  read more »

Adverts That Were Just Wrong

I was 24 years old, a newly appointed manager and I was sitting in what felt like a very grown up meeting where we were being presented with  a new marketing plan and strategy by an agency. I was the most junior person there by miles.

As the presentation ran, a feeling of dread came over me. Every fibre of my being was telling me that the agency had completely missed what the brand was about, and that the strategy was miles off in terms of speaking to our target audience.

586493ri9qocjyh  read more »

Time To Put The Livedrive Thing To Bed

Following on from my previous posts on the subject: Livedrive, don’t use them and Livedrive, are they in trouble? it’s time for me to move on from this and concentrate on more important stuff, so I need to write a final post updating everyone on where we are.

On 3rd November, a full eight weeks after my initial support request, I was called by Ian Burge, who heads up sales for Livedrive. As I previously reported, Ian was apologetic, acknowledged my bad experience and told me he’d do whatever he could to help.


Within a couple of days he’d come back to me to tell me that 280 of the files had been restored, but there were some that couldn’t, as for some reason they hadn’t originally uploaded correctly. He told me that the support department had no idea why that would have happened. Bear in mind that these files should have been uploaded to the system more than a year before, and we’d never had any indication there was a problem.

Once again Ian was honest and straightforward to deal with and is a credit to his company. If only he had got involved earlier, it might have saved so much aggravation, but ultimately it isn’t his job to placate unhappy customers. He told me that Livedrive had underestimated how much support would be needed in their market. It seems they have a large number of customers who are not very technically minded and who need more help and support than planned for. The company are reacting to that as fast as they can, but it has meant their support has been very slow in the meantime.  read more »

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"Mike's Life is where you can stay current with the life, thoughts, successes and failures of Mike Cliffe-Jones. Never knowingly ordinary, Mike shares as much as possible about his work as a marketer and in business, as well as his enviable lifestyle on and in the oceans around The Canary Islands."

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