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

Go Team!

Go Team!

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

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.

Aran Blackbourne, with former Mayor of Belfast, Máirtin O’Muilleoir

Aran Blackbourne, with former Mayor of Belfast, Máirtin O’Muilleoir

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.

Gerry throwing caution to the wind

Gerry throwing caution to the wind

There are three rules in live events. Don’t work with children, animals or live IT demonstrations. Our very own pooka, Master Gerald 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 Martin

Shane Martin

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!