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Bottling trend

I've always been fasinated by quirky consumer trends. When Trendwatching sends me through its latest monthly news I find myself clicking through links in a way  I don't with most mails. Its sister site - Springwatch - is full of new business ideas.  And here's one it has recently brought to my notice from the contract publishing industry in Australia: a fortnightly magazine distributed on a bottle of water (the world's first). I really like the ability to track take-up on a daily basis by distributing via supermarkets.
Naturally I'm looking for ways we could adapt this idea for our clients. I don't think bottles of water would work. The calibre of journalism in our publications requires a beverage of a similar standard, I feel. A Pomerol, perhaps? I hear 1990 was a good year...    

Buffett to use Botox®?

Here’s a question unlikely to be worrying the leaders of the business world: “Could a more relaxed-looking executive contribute positively to a company's bottom line... or the health of a nation?” According to a press release from the “internationally recognized expert in non-invasive rejuvenation”, Dr Soren White, of Manhattan, New York, the answer is a definite yes.

Unsurprisingly, Dr White has some suggestions for many of the great and the good:

  • Maurice Greenberg - “He might not want to look younger, but it’s vital he look healthier”. Perhaps if Eliot Spitzer wasn’t on his back with a menu of fraud allegations, those cheeks wouldn’t need Sculptra® to stop them looking hollow.
  • Bill Gates – “Should try to appear more vital, more put-together and in control.” - a rejuvenating peel should help him look “less geekish”. Isn’t the point of Bill Gates to be geeky?
  • Carly Fiorina – “Her soft jaw tends to project her as too happy-go-lucky”. She’s probably feeling more that way with HP out of her system. Nothing that a little Sculptra® can’t solve, though, should she wish for another top job.
  • Hilary Clinton’s laughter lines need Botox® and some filling of her naso-labial folds would take away some of her “harshness”. Harshness? Surely not from the author of Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets?
  • Warren Buffett “can look more youthful and less worn” with Botox® “correcting” those pesky laughter lines (again), an earlobe reduction and liposuction under the jaw. Perhaps now he has stepped down from the board of Coca-Cola, he will regain some vim and vigour.

Interestingly, since the World Economic Forum in Davos in early February 2006, Berkshire Hathaway A-shares have fallen to $87,950 off a 52-week high of $91,200. Somehow, at the age of 75, I suspect Buffett won’t be too worried about taking this on the chin.

     

Inside the minds of entrepreneurs

We have just produced Masterclass, a magazine on behalf of Ernst & Young's Middle Market Services division in the UK. The publication seeks to offer an insight into the worlds of the entrepreneurs behind some of the UK's most exciting businesses. Our writers spent considerable time in conversation with the likes of Towergate Underwriting's Peter Cullum (Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, 2005), Toni & Guy founder Toni Mascolo (ever tried to conduct an interview while having your hair cut and 'moussed'? The curious-minded should ask Caspian's editorial director), and the inspirational Camila Batmanghelidjh of Kids Company, to unearth what keeps their entreprEycover_loeneurial flames alive. Over the past decade, Ernst & Young has acquired extremely broad experience helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses: we've sought to make the most of it in Masterclass. You can order a copy here.

Rewarding Loyalty

Passionate. Inspiring. Energetic. Self-motivated. Team builder. Good wife.

The role of one's significant other in entrepreneurial activity isn't often discussed. AirMiles-to-Nectar founder (and the chief executive of the London Olympic bid) Keith Mills brought up the importance of an unflappable wife when I interviewed him recently in the London 2012 offices on the 50th floor of 1 Canada Square. (They're due to move out soon...any corporates out there seeking an HQ with London’s most jaw-dropping view?)

"I’ve had two or three failures in my career,” says Mills. (Ed: AirMiles' failure to make it in the US in 1992 cost Mills $70m and had him "swimming very hard to pay back the banks for three years"). “My wife is used to the downs as well as the ups. She just lives with it," he says. "I know a number of entrepreneurs who are married to wives who don’t have a 'risk threshold' and when the house is topped up to the bank, the income stops and the credit cards get cancelled it gets pretty hairy. When there are huge pressures at work trying to dig your way out of a problem, you don't want to be nagged at home that the salary cheque has stopped and the bank is on the phone every five minutes."

So Mrs Mills must have been feeling pretty chipper about the level of interest in Loyalty Management UK when it was put up for sale last week. Bankers Lehman Bros, who are selling the business, estimate that first round bid interest is around £200m. Mills owns a 51 per cent stake.

Tip to Mrs Mills: spend the cash quickly. Your husband makes no secret of his desire to win yachting's premier prize - the Americas' Cup. £100m is loose change in high-level yacht racing...

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