Sep 262016

reliabilityEver since I left school, I have always known how important it is to be reliable. No-one ever sat me down and told me why, or the consequences of not being, but it was instilled in me during my youth by the adults around me. And so, when I was of an age to be employed, I made sure that I would be labelled as a ‘reliable worker‘ (as well as industrious, enthusiastic and a number of other descriptive words….)

In my career, sick days were scarce and in my whole teaching career, I had just 3.5 days off when I slipped a disc in my back and literally couldn’t walk without excruciating pain. Now, I am ‘self-employed’, that work ethic is even more crucial. Clients rely on us to deliver. These last few days have shown me just how reliant we are on others to deliver and how irritating it is when ‘they’ don’t.

On Saturday, I was chatting to a new business contact online and we were discussing some tracing work in Scotland. “No problem”, I said…. “I’ll get onto that right away”. Oh no you won’t! The ScotlandsPeople website is under maintenance while they migrate all their records to the new website. The message over the weekend was that the site would return today (Monday). Nope. “While every effort has been made to make the new website available as quickly as possible, the scale of the project means that we need a bit more time to test the new site and satisfy ourselves that it is completely ready for launch”. Grr…

Turning my attention to ordering certificates from the General Register Office, I was aghast on Friday to discover that the business debit card had been declined. Upon telephoning the bank, they advised me that the issue was not with the card but with WorldPay which had declined the payment. Onward to contact GRO directly: “Oh yes, we are aware of the problem. It’s intermittent. Keep trying to pay for the certificates and it should [eventually] work”. So, I continue to try on Friday and Saturday and Sunday and Monday…. until I have clocked up THIRTY attempts to pay for certificates, causing some members of the team to joke that perhaps our competitors were trying to stop us from ordering them! Still the problem continued, even when trying to order over the telephone and eventually, a manual workaround was devised so the order could be processed. Thanks WorldPay for turning what should have been two five minute online orders into well over an hour of hassle.

And then, there is BT. My least favourite company at the best of times…. but the only company (BT Openreach) who can sort out commercial telephone and broadband…. (so I am told). Guess what? That’s the only two things we need now before we can open the office properly and it’s taking an absolute age! The physical line is already there…. how hard is it to ‘switch it on’? OK, I am sure it’s a bit more complicated than that but it shouldn’t take this long!

Other than tethering laptops to mobile hotspots, if anyone can help with solutions for short-term Wifi provision, oh my goodness we would be pleased to hear from you….

Sep 232016

Those of you who are regular readers (thank you!) will know that, at FWL, we have a penchant for names and particularly, ‘stand out’ names. We will often spend some considerable time (embarrassingly) locating people with certain words in their names but this week, someone highlighted a new search to us – thanks John D. Reid for sharing your finds. We have taken them and gone, as you might expect of us, a little bit mad.

John mentioned that there were a few people who featured on FreeBMD with the forenames of Hitler and Stalin. We were surprised, to be honest….! Two people, married in the 1960s (hence, more than likely born after Hitler ‘made his mark’): Hitler L. Grant (1966, Hackney) and Hitler J. Lewis (1968, Ealing). Seems a little strange to us, but each to their own….

Stalin BMDs are more prevalent and feature in the records as early as 1933, with the birth of Stalin K. K. Senior. Even with our limited knowledge of Soviet history, we know (thank you, Wikipedia) that Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s. In 1944, the Watts family even managed to create the feminine form – Stalina Roberta Watts! She married in 1965 in Stroud Registration District (the same district she was born) to John C. Pratt…. one wonders whether she has had any difficulties during her life a propos of her first name! [It would appear that she may still be alive today, as many Stalin’s are!]

Lenin (not a name John mentioned!) also seems to be a first name which is infinitely more common than one might think. 117 BMDs on FreeBMD, again with the feminine version of Lenina featuring in the list. 89 references appear for those with Churchill as a forename and 165 with Chamberlain…. however, both of these names appear in the records long before the two World Wars.

It really is intriguing how/why people select their children’s names. Hmm….

Sep 202016

Baffled, that’s what I am right now. Utterly baffled. In all honesty, I could leave this post right here and those two sentences (short though they are) would sum it up perfectly. However, two sentences would not let you into the strange and eccentric world of today.

tbnsOn many an occasion, I write about how weird and wonderful work at FWL is. But it’s more than that. On Friday, I was in Wolverhampton at The Business Networking Show (TBNS). If you weren’t there, you should have been. Meeting up with business friends old and new, there just wasn’t enough time in the day to do everything with so much on the agenda. If you are in business, keep an eye out for the announcement of TBNS2017 and get there….

The return journey was tiring on Saturday, with a few drink and food stops required to keep the energy up and the eyes wide open. How anyone managed to drive back on Friday after the Curry Evening (congratulations to Michele Ibbs for the awesome planning and execution of that part of the day!) is quite beyond me.

So, what is the point of this event? Why do I go to TBNS and other networking meetings? It may surprise you but it’s not to ‘sell our stuff’. We don’t need to do that. We have enough work as it is! It’s to make connections with other people in the business world across the nation. With 4N, it’s 50% social, 50% business and (for me and a whole load of other people) it works. I met lots of people who we will pass business to for a whole host of reasons – new FWL pens, mugs and other paraphernalia, an alternative (and cheaper) way to transfer money abroad, improving our call handling skills….

Today and yesterday, we have been inundated with new LinkedIn connection requests, Facebook friends, Twitter followers and emails as a result of TBNS. Having recently done some work with On The Button Digital Marketing, we are now geniuses/genii (true, because Katie said) in engaging online. I think, after today, I have about twenty people who need On The Button’s help. To me, it’s obvious that when you send a friend request to someone you don’t ‘know’ but you have mutual friends with, if that request is accepted, you send a private message explaining the reason for connecting. Maybe it’s just that ‘we clearly roll in the same circles’ but say something!! And for heavens sake, don’t post on my Facebook wall, ‘Let me know how I can help you!’ You just connected with me! I didn’t connect with you!! What makes you think I need your help?

#buymystuff doesn’t work for me, nor for many others business owners. That’s obvious to me…. but clearly, not to all. Welcome to the learning curve… sometimes a steep curve.

On that note, signing off before launching the next brand new 4N group in the morning – 4N Devizes…. bring it on (with no #buymystuff allowed).

Sep 162016

This week, the Rockstar Genealogist Award Winners have been announced. It has been great to see the genealogy community ‘come together’ and congratulate those who have been nominated, listed as Top Ten in their country, or as Medallists/Superstars across the globe.

The week of voting was an interesting one for me. As other genealogists have mentioned in various blogs and posts on Facebook, there is a fine line between promoting the awards themselves: highlighting their existence and encouraging others to vote in general, and shouting “vote for me” from the rooftops. Some people appear to think that telepathy is the best way to let people know that John D. Reid runs this poll every year. New people are coming into the field all the time and, when I was first nominated in 2013, I had no idea what the poll was all about. If it wasn’t for social media, I would have been totally oblivious!

Networking has massively helped us to grow Family Wise Limited. Without getting our name out there, no-one would know that Family Wise Limited existed. How do we do it? 4Networking has been crucial in spreading the word and, along with Facebook and Twitter, our involvement both in front of and behind the scenes in television shows in the UK and abroad, plus a few good decisions along the way, we’ve headed in the right direction.

It is a shame to read some of the write-ups about the awards being either obviously derisory to other winners or being bland enough in their comments for people to read between the lines. The Awards should be celebrated. In the past, I have seen someone refer to them as “The Genealogy Oscars”. There will always be people in life you don’t like, or don’t appreciate as much as you do others. The internet is not the place to express your marmite persuasions, in my humble opinion.

Celebrate success and be nice. The sand pit is big enough for everyone to play in. If you can’t say anything nice, say nothing.

Congratulations to the Top Ten International genealogists – an all-US list…. Clearly the rest of the world have some way to go to emulate the US genealogists. Next year…..?

Sep 132016

Times when I am speechless, shocked and amazed are few and far between for me…. Having seen the Silver and Bronze winners in the UK list for the Rockstar Genealogist Awards when they were announced yesterday, a Top Ten place was all I had hoped for. To wake up this morning and find that I am considered by my peers across the globe to be Number 1 UK (aka Superstar) Rockstar Genealogist is frankly ludicrous. How….?

So, lovely friends have said that “people love you and what you do and this is how they show you!” and “you work hard, and are committed to your work … that’s a real positive, so enjoy your success!” amongst other fantastic comments. There are people who don’t feature in the Top Three Medallists this year who, in my opinion, should. I voted for those I thought were worthy and many of those are medallists with others, I sincerely hope, featuring in the Top Ten lists. There are so many people who work in the field in a variety of different guises nowadays. Some Top Three Medallists are ‘big names’ who travel widely to attend and speak at international conferences, whereas others are more evident online than in person.

kirsty-2016-rockstarA few new names appear on the podium in 2016 along with other returning medallists…. I am delighted to be sharing the Gold Medal status with my dear friends Jill Ball (@geniaus ) and Maurice Gleeson (@mauricegleeson) who I have had the pleasure of working with many times over the years on international stages (USA, Canada, UK, Australia and on the water!). At RootsTech 2016, I met Judy Russell for the first time (@legalgen) and I am amazed to read this morning that she is “debuting as [a] Superstar Genealogist“. How did that happen? For the first time, Canada’s Top Three are Canadian residents – a shift in the way the competition has been run this year – and Gail Dever (@geneaalacarte) has stormed into Superstar position. Congratulations to all the Gold Medal winners and thank you, Michelle Patient (announced as Bronze Medal winner for ‘Down Under’ in her first year in the competition!), for my lovely Rockstar Gold tree (right, although I should point out that I am No. 1 for England, WALES and Scotland).

Now, to go back to bed…. no seriously, to wait for the Top Ten lists later in the week. Thank you so much John Reid for, despite all the stress this undoubtedly causes you each year, bringing the community together for this brilliant competition. And many thanks to all of you who voted for me…. honoured to be awarded the UK No. 1 position again (very, very chuffed!!!)

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