Keep the date – BorderBizcamp is back for 2015

If you have an interest in all things business then Saturday 13th June is a date for your diary when BorderBizcamp 2015 will take place in Monaghan Institute.

In its forth year, BorderBizcamp offers a unique opportunity to be inspired by established business leaders, to network with business owners from both sides of the border, for great connections, fab food, positivity and high energy.


So put the date in your diary now and we will keep you posted as the speaker line up is confirmed.


BRIX Workwear Blog about BorderBizcamp

One of our long standing BorderBizcamp volunteers Paul Bond is well known far and wide for his weekly blog “Paul’s Parables” found on the BRIX Workwear website of a quirky nature which always reflects his off the wall view of the world and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a pep in your day.  This week’s blog was devoted to BorderBizcamp, and gives a great summation of the wonderful day we all shared:


Constant Adventure – Border Bizcamp 2014

This is an odd post/blog/newsletter , yes, even for Monaghan’s 4th largest work wear store. Yes, we’ve had posts here before that did not mention workwear….at all. This week’s features sourdough bread, benign wizards, a Google Princess,Duckman,one precious life,tools for pimping up your life, alchemy, survival tools, big fish in small ponds, change, a 3 foot rule, a severe case of Lurgy, bees, a long tail shovel, a mayor with pink hair, mastermind groups, technical difficulties, pocket change, inspiration , whispering and Vinny Martin’s son.

Today’s blog is about last Saturday’s Border Bizcamp, an annual event that we hold in Monaghan . It’s a non-business type networking conference filled with business people and practically no opportunity for networking. It’s a free event. There is no admission charge, coffee, tea , water and buns are free throughout the day and a stonktastic  lunch featuring Monaghan’s own Pizza D’Or , Mallon’s sausages and Mc Cleary’s wraps, is also free.

It features twenty speakers, who give their time for free, and share heart breaking and wonderfully uplifting stories that leave everyone in a better place leaving than when they arrived.
It runs from 10 am until 4.30 pm and three speakers give talks at the same time in different rooms throughout the day. This year we held it in the new , state of the art Monaghan Institute. Oddly , for Monaghan, it starts on time and runs smoothly throughout the day. The only complaint anyone made afterwards was that the speakers were all brilliant and it was too difficult to choose between those speaking at the same time.

This is my snapshot of the day.  ( For all the actual snapshots of the day go to the wonderful Eugene T.Hamills Facebook page )

10 AM – The day started with three rooms full to hear Geraldine Johnston talk  on ‘Growing Through Change’ , where she stopped everyone in their tracks by asking the simple question“Could you describe your business in one line ?” YIKES !

Ian Lucey waxed lyrical on raising money, the power of the number 7 and his memorable quote “ It ‘s better to have a hole in your team rather than an asshole.”

I introduced Vivian Corr for her talk “Pimp my life – Essential tools for making a career change.” She was amazing. She stressed the importance of focusing on what you were good at and loved doing rather and that this would lead you to a better place.

10.40 AM –  Next up were Stuart Steele , MD of Silver Hill Foods, a family owned and operated duck company. Stuart’s open and refreshingly honest talk “Get The Duck Out Of Here” went down incredibly well. His line “part of the journey is removing the ego” resonated with many…including yours truly.

William Despard , the wildly passionate and entertaining owner of the Bretzel Trading Company , regaled us with his tale of success and his journey from electrical engineering to a love of honest sourdough bread.

Declan Coyle’s talk left a deep impression on those that attended , he made the case that it’s up to us to choose between positivity and negativity, the green or red platform, “the quest in life is to live fully alive. You have one precious life”….he should really write that stuff down and publish a book.

Declan Coyle and John Conway

11.20 AM – The next three speakers included Patrick Barry, a former colour blind suit salesman and now the proud owner of a lovely new beard. Patrick gave a great uplifting talk on picking your canvas. You’re going to do the hard work anyway, why not do it on something excitingly large !

Cera Ward, our very own Google Princess, gave a packed room a glimpse of the future and how digitisation has changed consumer habits forever. Show up. Wise up. Speak up. And most importantly “ winning the moments that matter”.

And then John Conway blew us all away with his tale of losing a business he’d spent 30 years creating , how carrying the blame , personal embarrassment  and having to return groceries he couldn’t pay for to local shops. And yet , thanks to all of the help he received he came to realise that he was lucky, or jammy as he himself calls it. “Just like on an aeroplane, fit your own mask first. You have to look after yourself  and get yourself into the right space before you can help yourself and others.” Top man.

12.00 Noon –  Some people, namely Donna Tartt and I , say that ‘Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous’. In this case She, that’s God, not Donna Tartt, struck down Niall Harbison with a severe case of the dreaded  Lurgy, and he didn’t show up.
A large crowd of mildly disappointed people had to now choose between the other two speakers, Alan Mc Kenna and Mark Hurley.  Alan survived 4 years at school with me and went on to build up and then close the third largest timber frame business in Ireland and now works in ‘the internet of things’ his talk “How to manage change before it manages you” was delivered in the happy mode that appears to be Alan’s default setting.

At least a dozen people came up to me later in the day, some still teary eyed and told me that they’d come to hear Niall Harbison but had ended up at Mark Hurley’s talk. Mark’s talk was perhaps the most emotional of the day. From losing everything, squatting in an abandoned house, ‘borrowing’ candles from a church in order to heat water in a watering can, also ‘borrowed’ , so that he could wash, to becoming a telecoms genius on the verge of being the ‘next big thing’ his lasting message “Money helps, but it does not make the world go round, happiness and family do.”


During the lunchtime break I helped Declan Coyle carry his books out to his car, said goodbye to Patrick Barry and his beard, and met Vincent Kieran and his beehive on their way in. I helped position the beehive outside the room he’d be speaking in later and went over to Ella and Orla, our coffee  angels  and told them to tell everyone to be careful not to knock into it as the bees were asleep and would be annoyed if disturbed “Good God ! Bees ????” they squealed.  I couldn’t help it.

13.40 PM – Vincent gave his talk on Beekeeping to a packed room. It’s surprising the level of interest that this subject engenders these days.

Sammy Leslie , yes, that Sammy Leslie, she of Castle Leslie home of celebrity weddings and Louis Walsh’s X-factor camp. She has faced many battles in her noble quest to restore the family estate through good food, great service and old style hospitality…..not to mention the odd horse and , perhaps, even odder family member.

It was my pleasure to introduce Aran Blackbourne, one of life’s true gentlemen. Growing up on a building site, learning how to handle a long tail shovel , building Ireland’s tallest building, dealing with banks, forgiveness, lessons learnt and now making the world a better place. Marvellous !

14.20 PM  – Andrew Dobbin gave a passionate talk about how slimming down from his former 22 stone weight inspired him to apply the lessons learnt personally to helping people and their businesses grow.

Máirtin O’Muilleoir talked about his year of saying ‘Yes’ as last year’s Mayor of Belfast – inspired by one of his eight chaplains, the Buddhist, Paul Haller. This took immense effort in a political environment more used to critical and negative noises. He now applies this practice to his business where no one can say ‘NO’ unless they seek permission from him. It makes life very interesting. My daughter Robyn remembered him as the Mayor with Pink Hair and asked him what had happened. He posed for a photo with her, Elliott, Aran and Ross, promising to dye it green for St.Patrick’s Day.

There are three rules in live events. Don’t work with children, animals or live IT demonstrations. Our very own pooka, MasterGerald Wynne threw caution to the wind and decided that he was going to build and launch a website live during his 20 minute talk. He had had dutifully called into the Monaghan Institute the night before to make sure it was all working fine. It was. And he arrived 2 hours before his talk to make sure it was all still working. It wasn’t. Panic and pandemonium set in. I suggested that he did a dance instead but Gerry’s sense of humour and disappeared into the cloud along with his internet access. He battled on nonetheless in the face of savage and severe heckling from the audience, one of whom loudly shouted out increasing odds on bets he was prepared to take on the outcome of Gerry’s demo. Yes, I was that barbarian. Gerry got loud applause at the end for his perseverance. He will be back to do it again next year.

15.00 PM – Mary O’Connor , as befits one of Ireland’s leading motivational speakers delivered an assured performance along her there “Small Change In Your Business – Big Change In Your Pocket”. She advocates the philosophy “It’s not what happens in your life that’s important, it’s how you react.” There were lots of nodding heads in the audience.

Shauna Gallagher had an impressive tale top tell of how she addressed her own problem of sensitive skin and then realised that she could turn it into a business and how she has succeeded in doing so.

Mairead Flynn, an old friend of Border Bizcamp, and a yoga teacher since 1979, told a packed room “How to becoame a ‘nervous system whisperer.”  Mairead is still learning her own craft and shared her sense of wonder at the new discoveries in interpersonal neurobiology.

15.40 PM Keynote – Vinny Martin’s son, Shane.

Shane is the only speaker we have asked to speak at our Bizcamp two years in a row. He went down so well last year that we asked him back and he didn’t let us down.
He used a lot of personal stories from his early career as a psychologist to illustrate his growing frustration with his profession’s obsession with what was wrong with you rather than highlighting what was right.  His talk was engaging and wildly hilarious in parts, particularly his description of his pride and happiness as the proud owner of a beloved Daihatsu Charade.

Shane outlined that when we were young we were told that if we worked hard we’d be successful, then we’d be happy. Perhaps we should simply start with the happiness.

Shane’s talk wasn’t a bad place for us to start.

It was a wonderfully uplifting way to end a day when 21 speakers gave hope, help and happiness to 170 visitiors.
For me his talk , ended the point that had begun for me with Vivian Corr’s talk in the morning. Focus on what we love to do and what we do well. Everything will flow from that.

And then we all said our goodbyes and left , perhaps with a slightly lighter step.

I’ve found myself this week more aware of all of the great things around me……without the aid of alcohol. I always look for a song to finish off the blog and this week it came from Macca, and unlikely source of inspiration.  The song is called “Constant Adventure” by The Flaws :

“Feeling bored? leave the shore
on our constant adventure
tease me with tails how our land was won
and lost again”.

Love, thanks, wonder and awe to all,

P.S. Don’t be afraid to email me or leave a comment and tell me something wonderful you saw, witnessed, or heard this week.

Thanks Paul!


A pictoral account of BorderBizcamp 2014

A HUGE thank you to Eugene Hamill who did an amazing job on capturing the atmosphere, characters and chat at BorderBizcamp 2014 and also for the wonderful opportunity for so many people to get a professional profile picture take for use on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc – beats the selfie any day!

You can see all the pictures on his Facebook page here – Eugene T Hamill Photography  – why not LIKE the page when you are there. If you want to contact Eugene you can get him on 087 994 8585 or


Some pics from BorderBizcamp

Here is a link to some of the first pictures from BorderBizcamp which give a flavour of the buzz on the day.

BorderBizcamp 2014


A PLATO EBR Perspective on BorderBizcamp 2014

For the third year running, Border Bizcamp 2014 drew crowds from near and far, from 15 counties across the island for what proved to be yet another truly enlightening event – full of inspiration, shocking stories of losses and gains, and fresh ideas about managing new ventures. Border Bizcamp which is normally held in June was held on Saturday 13th September 2014 with a change of venue this year as Border Bizcamp 2014 went to the new Monaghan Institute Education Campus, a fantastic modern facility conducive to networking.

With over 240 registered from 16 counties of Ireland (excluding 22 Speakers) and circa 162 attending, the Border Bizcampers must be doing something right. The 2014 event focused on three themes as follows:-

  • Theme 1: “It’s a long way from there to here” Personal inspirational stories of business, lessons learnt, tales of highs, lows and the climb back up again.  

  • Theme 2: “The Inside Job”  You are the greatest resource your business has. If you are not right, the business won’t be right.

  • Theme 3: “To Infinity and Beyond” 
    Business stories that speak of stretching the boundaries of normality – breaking out of Ireland, changing business approaches, changing anything, challenging, diversifying and creating new futures.

Whilst the speakers addressed the various themes eloquently there were common threads reinforced throughout:-

  • Doing things smarter – bootstrapping concept

  • Using the measures provided by support agencies – capital grants, employment initiatives, technology infrastructure

  • Knowing and understanding your market – making money through adding value to the customer

  • Getting up and dusting off after losing it all – being mentally resilient for business

  • Looking after the entrepreneur – personal wellness and productivity for you and your employees

  • The lack of connection between money and happiness – know your personal and business goals.


Some PLATO EBR Reflections:

Ian Lucey from Lucey Group present his top 12 smart ways to raise money early, he covered simple things like why the number 7 is so strong compared to 5 or an 8 or 9 when branding, who to go to for different types of support schemes – R&D tax credits use them, the importance of attracting and maintaining quality internships. Ian reminded us to barter with creditors and suppliers and cut out coffee meetings if necessary, there are different perhaps more efficient ways to do business!
Favourite quote: “Better to have hole in your team rather than an asshole” (

Declan Coyle got the emotional ball rolling during his talk on choosing which platform you stand on red or green –  red being negative and green being positive. Declan says, “Don’t ask what is needed but what makes you alive”, you need to tune into yourself first in order to switch on others (employees). He talked about personal magnificence and DNA in creating greatness but the ability to choose was vital – choosing to be angry, to suffer or be annoyed. He said, “it is as it is” meaning you cannot argue with 100% reality or you will lose, so why set yourself up for failure learn how to choose to accept reality and deal with it positively. He accepts that doubters will say you can’t switch off your feelings but he says it is ok to feel first but then you must react and this is when you choose which platform to stand on. Another good saying is “If it is to be, it is up to me,” he encourages us all to get empowered, use unique talents and honour them, treasure them.
Favourite quote: If we have 50,000 ideas, 40,000 will be negative and it is up to us to do something with the 10,000 positive.

John Conway from Meteor Electrical carried on Declan Coyle’s theme of choosing how to react in the face of adversity. John grew his cottage business into a reputable firm where a hedging scheme and economic downturn lead to a €3million loss which the business could not sustain putting the firm into liquidation in 2009. John felt it difficult to stomach putting 30 years of business success and personal assets including his home on the line. Losing weight was the least of his worries, when assets are frozen there comes with it personal embarrassment, groceries having to be returned, the worry over providing for your six young children. John was also carrying the blame of losing a substantial local workforce which had spinoff effects for the local economy. That was the first thing John learnt from this “tragedy” not to carry blame around with you, you need to park it. He says he had to work at being positive, and found it easier to be positive when he had money! He had to accept where he was now and not to get negative about it and he reminded the audience that if you think you are different you are on a road to depression. He had a lot of support from family and friends, one friend bankrolled him US$1million and many other professionals, solicitors and barristers give of their services for free so he says if you look at it, I am jammy. He worked with someone (again donating their time for free), who got him psychologically prepared for dealing with the loss and building up again, he hadn’t lost a limb, he still owned his house at that present moment, he had knowledge gained (albeit knowledge he didn’t want), so the only thing he had lost was money. John remarked that intelligence goes down when emotion goes up – like a see-saw. John advised to not whinge about problems but to get options to fix it.
Favourite quote: Just like on an aeroplane, fit your own mask first you have to look after yourself and get yourself into the right space before you can help yourself and others.

Mark Hurley CEO of Mudge Mobile told a shockingly emotional story of his losses and how his despair nearly sent him over the edge. His story was so surreal; it is better left unsaid until you hear it direct from Mark on another occasion. Most people in Mark’s position would give up, his fighting spirit is to be admired, but like the true telecoms genius that he is, Mark is onto the next big thing and most likely onto making another few million. Both John Conway and Mark Hurley now realised the hard way that money helps but it does not make their world go around but happiness (of loved ones) did.
Favourite quote: I had a 3ft rule, if you came within 3ft of me you had to hear about my business. You need to have GRIT (Be persistent); motivation doesn’t last neither does cleanliness!

There were lots more speakers worthy of mention and these are just a few. Shane Martin rounded off Border Bizcamp 2014 in his uniquely comic fashion talking about the difficulty of finding out how happiness works. As a nation, Shane says we are obsessed by the psychological diagnostics of negative behaviour but people would do better if they tried to understand what makes them tick and what makes them happy and businesses can be more productive if they harvest happy employees.
Favourite quote: Start with happiness and everything else flows.

Two books deserving of a mention this year:-

–        Green or Red platform by Declan Coyle –  ALL proceeds going to Make A Wish Foundation

-        Getting Sh*t Done by Niall Harbison – no 1 Best seller in Ireland 2014

PLATO EBR would like to thank all the Border Bizcampers 2014 for letting us join them in their efforts to drive this exciting initiative for businesses within the East Border Region. We thank the committee for devoting time away from their businesses over many months of preparation for Border Bizcamp 2014.

Dr. Cecilia Hegarty
Director, PLATO EBR


They came, they listened, they connected, they laughed!

What a day it was Saturday at BorderBizcamp 2014!!!

161 attended

Some of the feedback received already:

Thanks to all for such a wonderful day – the country is in safe hands with you creating such happiness
Frank S,  Co. Meath


“Thanks for an excellent day and a great array of speakers.  
It is particularly encouraging to hear from so many speakers with local connections and global experiences. 
Well done to all of you!
Frances C.  Co. Down


Via Twitter
@ruthadaly #borderbizcamp Excellent event today.
Great line-up of speakers and very well organised.
Well done to you and all involved.
Barra F, Monaghan


“Morning Ruth,Paul and border biz team
You done it again!
Great day, great people, great food, great speakers, great topics.
Whether raising bees or raising funds, saying yes, small changes going green or getting happy, all pure gold.
No one could have left there without some inspiration. 
Thank you 
PC, Armagh.”
Ready to do it again?????!!!