Book Review: Millionaire Upgrade

Millionaire Upgrade: Lessons in Success from Those Who Travel at the Sharp End of the Plane by Richard Parkes Cordock is a self-development book examining the millionaire mindset.

This is an interesting book, it takes a fictional approach to telling a real life story.  The whole premise of the book is that the main character Tom is upgraded to first class by a kind and wealthy millionaire, who has a spare seat next to him in Business Class.  The Millionaire protagonist usually books two seats for himself for comfort, but given that the plane is full, he agrees via the check-in staff to give up one of his seats to Tom, who would otherwise not be able to travel on the full plane. The millionaire chats with Tom and throughout the flight coaches him to develop a millionaire mentality.

There are some good nuggets of information in this book. It is however a little bit like one of those books where the author becomes a millionaire by selling books about how to become a millionaire. It is very much an introductory sales pitch for the authors more comprehensive program call The Millionaire MBA. The content and structure of the book centers around using the mnemonic phrase “I believe”. In other words, each of the letters of the phrase stand for one of the 8 core concepts for developing the mindset. From a mnemonics perspective the links between the letters and concepts are pretty terrible. I can  guarantee that they will not help in remembering those 8 core concepts. For example, the “v” in believe stood for “very very” something and having just put down the book, I can’t remember what the something was.

Criticisms aside this book should be taken for what it is… a light, short read and an interesting approach to delivering the overall concept. Another nugget maybe a book referral from the 1930’s called “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. This definitely sounds like a book worth reading and I’ve heard it mentioned in a few places of interest. The follow up program to Millionaire Upgrade, “The Millionaire MBA”, may also be worth a look.  It contains interviews with 50 self made millionaires including Duncan Bannatyne and Simon Woodruff from Dragons Den fame. I should warn you that the program costs around £150 so not inexpensive by average standards.

Effort required to finish this book is minimal, it could be read in a reasonable 2-3hr train ride or flight, so not too much considering the value of the content and worth scanning through for some of those nuggets.  I’ll leave you with this quote that caught my attention:

“Luck is the crossroads where opportunity and preparation meet.”

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Book Review: SPIN Selling

In the last decade, SPIN Selling has become one of the most prominent sales methodologies. Primarily, the methodology is developed by the Huthwaite Research company under the direction of and based on the research of psychologist, Neil Rackham.

From the outset the research has metered itself by requiring strict empirical evidence to prove or disprove theories as they are examined in real life situations.  This is a scientific view of sales behaviors from a group of scientists. There are no subjective opinions here, only hard facts and figures are used to back up statements and views.  Sample groups are often wide, diverse and for the most-part large enough to provide a credible read on the activity or behaviour being measured.

The 30,000ft view of the SPIN selling approach takes us through four defined stages during a single sales cycle. It suggests that the use of effective questioning can help us understand the prospects situation, identify problems they need to address, the impacts of the problems and the result of finally resolving them. This journey from introduction, through discovery to solution presentation and closing is dissected in much detail.

Alongside the scientific stats, there are also a wealth of case studies and anecdotes related to the challenges and trials experienced as the research progressed.  In addition, there are a number of common myths examined and dispelled around the whole sales process, from first impressions to closing techniques, there are some real eye-openers.

Although I’m sure in-depth results and transcripts could be found, a great strength in the book is it’s ability to summarize findings for us in a concise and understandable manner. The whole system is described in around 200 pages, I would suggest anyone working in sales would benefit immensely from investing a couple of days worth of reading the text.

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Back to Blogging: 2012 Events, Results and Wins

It’s been some time since my last blog. Since 2011, I have not only moved jobs, but also set my sights on conquering an entirely new industry, Virtualisation Backup and Management. This has spurred the demise of my previous blog, InfoSec & Beyond.  In the last 12 months, I have been working hard to get to grips with my new role and am happy to say that it’s been a bumper year with significant successes. With some focus and mental elbow grease, I have chalked up the following achievements as a System’s Engineer at Veeam Software:

  • #1: Top Revenue UK 2012
  • #1: Top Win Ratio EMEA 2012
  • Only UK SE to publish a Whitepaper on Veeam Worldwide Website
  • Worked on 6 of the top 10 deals won in UK 2012

Most notably, I have had the pleasure of being part of Veeam’s rapidly expanding UK North Team. Our team has had a fantastic run this year with some significant wins in just the last few days.  These latest successes have ultimately put the territory in joint first place when measured against % of annual quota for 2012.

As I head into 2013, I am now in a position to return to blogging and will be doing this on my new site:

I have decided to take a broad brush approach with this new blog, so that it may provide useful information for a wide variety of readers.  Inevitably it will gravitate towards the challenges and activities with which I am involved.. so I expect content to cover Business, Life and Technology.





Apprentice UK 2011 Final Winner: Nerds 1 The Rest 0

Last night the Apprentice final saw a battle of eclectic styles and personalities come to its conclusion, with Lord Sugar finally choosing his future business partner.  The four finalists were:

  • Jim Eastwood – The Jedi Salesman
  • Helen Louise Milligan – The “Almost” Unbeaten Master Organiser
  • Tom Pellereau – Inventor, Genius, Nerd
  • Susan Ma – The Spirited but Inexperienced Entrepreneur


After a serious grilling of each contestant and their business plan by Lord Sugar’s close associates, it was finally announced that Tom would be the winner of the Apprentice UK 2011.  The finalists had seriously different styles this year, but I’m happy to say that nerd ingenuity clearly prevailed over spiel, efficiency and spirit.

Continue reading

Eco-Labelling – The Green Argument For Information Classification

It seems that if you are promoting a product or service these days, it’s mandatory to have an associated “Green Story” to back up your proposition. Earning cold hard cash for the benefit of both you and your customer is in some circumstances frowned upon, if there isn’t an ethical eco-friendly angle to your pitch.  While I support green initiatives and do what I can to help with moves to improve the sustainability of the planet, hasn’t it all gone a bit eco-mad.

Those fabled 3 letters, E C O , are being used and abused by all and sundry to get that green tickbox filled. Whether a product in environmentally friendly or not, the ECO label gets thrown around like confetti at a wedding. We have Eco-Homes, Eco-Heaters, Eco-Computers, Eco-Laptops, Eco-Cars, Eco-Trucks… you name it we have it. In a shameless attempt to look more trendy, I’d like to throw my hat in the ring and talk briefly about how appropriate labelling of documents and emails can help save the planet. Eco-Labelling for short.

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Phone Hacking, Corporate Responsibility and Employee Accountability

The UK has been awash with scandal upon scandal in recent months. Individuals and organisations who we are supposed to trust have abuse their positions and the circumstances available to them. Is this to be the century of corruption? The politicians led the way with the expenses scandal,  immediately followed by questionable banking practices which brought the world to the brink of bankruptcy. Now in our latest installment of the “people doing what they really shouldn’t” saga, we have once reputable press organisations hacking into the phones of, well, pretty much everyone.

The world needs a double dose of the medicine that is corporate responsibility and employee accountability.   Whether or not the chiefs at the head of these corporate tribes were aware of the activities of their employees, ultimately they have a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent this kind of unacceptable behaviour occurring. Failure to do so is a slippery slope which rapidly evolves from the occasional cheeky rogue, to an inherent culture of wide spread wrong doing. Individuals should not be given a shield of plausible deniability or proclamation of ignorance. Each and every individual should be liable to take responsibility for their actions.  Chiefs have a responsibility to foster and enforce an ethical culture through the correct provision of training and providing the right tools for employees to adopt that ethical behaviour.

Just this week we have learned that News International were in fact in possession of emails which were withheld from the police in an attempt to control possible damage from implication of law breaking. Although possible, it’s difficult to release information in  an email without actually thinking about it’s content before clicking send. Much more difficult than giving the go ahead to do something in the spur of the moment over the phone. Information created or received by an organisation should be treated with the respect it deserves, but with the casual use of email in day to day life, it’s easy for the lines to blur. People generally use their work email accounts for general informal internal communications, even external at times.  When wrong doing is suspected, the legal defence of “that email was sent in this context” is used all to often.

As an organisation, one line of defence to this legal minefield is.. yes.. you have guessed it.. email labelling.  Forcing users (whether employees, directors or other execs) to select an appropriate label before sending an email builds not only awareness of company policies, but also re-enforces a culture of employee accountability.  Investment in an email labelling tool, could in the long run save your organisation millions or may even save it from the recently bloodied axe, which took out News of the World in one fell swoop. Furthermore, there are no longer any excuses on cost. You can do this for free.  Although you don’t get all the benefits of the paid version of Boldon James’ Email Classifier, the FreeMark version of Classifier allows you to do exactly that, label emails. ITS FREE,  the clue is in the name – FreeMark.  If you want to learn more about the FreeMark initiative, please visit

Information Security Drivers

Is it possible to acheive total and complete information security? The answer today is no.

On occassion, it is easy to become complacent and make an assumption of security. Implementing effective counter measures to possible breaches of security can give an over confidence in our perception of the level of security in our systems. The reality is that our applications and systems become increasingly more complex.  The primary challenge of any development of technology is making something that works, making something that works but also has perfect security is a pipe dream.  Modern operations systems can contain upwards of 50 million lines of code.  There are always holes in applications and operationg systems.  If you doubt this, check the amount of security patches released by any OS vendor you know.

With this is mind effective security becomes about understanding that it’s not possible to fill every hole and block every gap in security, not without an unlimited amount of time, money and resources.  What drives security activity is not generally a desire for total security, but managing risks for both individuals and organisations.

Drivers for Individuals primarily  include:

  • Theft of banking or other financial details.
  • Identity theft.
  • Loss of privacy.

Organisation drivers will differ depending on industry, here are some generic drivers:

  • Protecting Intellectual Property and other senstive information.
  • Acheiving regulatory compliance.
  • Safeguarding reputation.
  • Ensuring business continuity.

These are not all inclusive and there are many more drivers.  As I continue to explore, we will pull more of these drivers into the discussion so we can understand in depth what motivates us, what we implement and why.

The Importance of Hands On Technical Experience

To operate effectively in a pre-sales role detailed product knowledge is a must.  You can not truly understand how a product works and it’s functionality without having some experience of it working on a real system.  At the very least installing a demo or test environment will bring you closer to the capabilities of a product, but where possible get involved in  real implementations, in real customer environments.  Occasional secondments to the service delivery arm of your organisation can give you the opportunity to build some real world experience which can be applied to your current and future customer opportunities.


Practical experience is particularly useful in environments where you are working with multiple products and multiple product components. Understanding the underlying requirements of each component and how they will integrate with the other components can be of vital importance when proposing a solution.  You may find that two of your components have conflicting requirements and simply can not fit together in the configuration you have designed.  It is better to understand as much as possible about these dependencies early in the sales cycle as these can become show stopping issues which may become critical at the later stages of a sale.

Simple advice on this would be read the manuals, install your virtual machines, install the products, configure the products and run through some mock scenarios.

International Technical Sales – Top 5 Tips

I love to travel. I’ve been lucky enough to travel extensively, experience different cultures and have worked in many multi-national teams.  I would definitely class myself as a travel nerd.  I found this WebApp on Trip Advisor and have been looking to get more pins in the map ever since.  Here’s my current travel map (to create your own, use the links below the map):

Maps and pins aside, working outside of your home country can be a daunting idea for some. Especially, if you are not used to working with different cultures. Here’s a list of quick tips which I hope are helpful.

Top 5 Tips

Tip 1: People are the same.

People are pretty much the same the world over. Of course, we all have different cultural quirks and ways of doing things but fundamentally people are the same wherever they are from.  They all have hopes, dreams and motivations and you’ll find the same hopes, dreams and motivations in each country.  If you’ve worked in your home country then working abroad is exactly the same.. the only difference is language and location. Continue reading

Sales Funnel vs Buy Funnel – Sales Cycle vs Buy Cycle

As Pre-Sales resources we should have an in-depth understanding of the Sales Cycle and the traditional sales funnel.  Although the Sales Manager orchestrates the deal, pre-sales should be aware of his strategy and the steps they are going to progress through to turn leads into closed deals.

I came across this video on YouTube. It is probably more interesting for Sales people, but I found it an interesting approach.  The Interviewee hear has written a book called “The Funnel Principle”.

He argues that the traditional Sales Funnel is outdated and an artificially created process developed by Sales people for Sales people and not customers.  The Buy Cycle changes the focus back to the customer, where you as a sales organisation are working to understanding the buying process of the customer and matching your activities to fulfil the procurement needs of the customer.  The jury is out on this one for me, the Sales funnel is a time tested logical process for generating  a large amount of leads which you can whittle down to closed deals.