Month: April 2013

It was a man’s world . . .

It was a man’s world.

Thatcher-Cabinet_2530702bI don’t know about you, but some of my opinions on life are exactly the same now as they were twenty years ago. Opinions can be swayed, and formed, over a period of years, and altered in the blink of an eye as well. So I think perhaps what I am thinking about isn’t as much an opinion as a value: a deeply held belief. A belief in myself.

Being a teenager in the Eighties, when Mrs Thatcher was Prime Minister it never occurred to me that it was strange or anything unusual that she should be a woman leading a country in a man’s world. And have no doubt, it really was a man’s world even then. My own mother was a working woman as well, but back in the day being a woman who went out and had a career outside of her traditional duties as wife and mother was not the norm. I was part of the first generation of young women growing up without the expectation that we would leave school at sixteen, get engaged, get married, and then get pregnant (not always in that order). We weren’t expected to have tea on the table at 6pm for our husbands when they got in from work, we weren’t expected to be the living breathing embodiment of the perfect housewife.

I know that the death of Baroness Thatcher has stirred up some strong feelings, bitter memories and resentments over the injustices that she and theConservative government inflicted on sectors of British society. I myself am not sure about how I feel about some of the things that she did, but as a woman she played an extremely important role in my understanding of what was possible in my life. She was a hated figure, she was admired, revered, she was ridiculed, she was feted. She stuck to her guns and lead from the front, she believed in herself, and she believed in the country that she was leading. She didn’t compromise, and she made it okay to be a strong leader. She smashed through the glass ceiling. One of the things I liked about her was the fact that she expected to be treated as an equal to a man, and she didn’t lean on feminist principles to drive a point home.  She was a leader; it was irrelevant as to which sex she was.

As an impressionable teenager I loathed Mrs Thatcher and all that the Conservative party stood for and what they did. As an adult with the benefit of hindsight I can see the influence she had on me, my peers and my country. Some of it was disastrous, but her influence on young women and girls cannot be denied. Without her would we have so many women in positions of power in business now? It’s not possible to say, but she certainly beat down a path that many thousands of women gladly followed. So thank you Mrs Thatcher for my belief that I can do whatever I want to do without needing to ask for permission, without needing to worry about what people might think, and the knowledge that it is entirely within my grasp to achieve whatever I set out to. And thank you on behalf of my little girl too.

©2013VickiMcLeod

Express Yourself

Vicki McLeod Blogging Mallorca Social Media

I’ve been writing this blog for years. I’ve been writing other people’s blogs, press releases, articles and features for years as well. I’ve even been writing the column in the Euro Weekly for four years. I know, that’s a long time, hmm? Over the past decade of blogging I have had my ups and downs, but I have loved creating my stories and publishing them online, I love the sense of freedom. But it’s also been good for business, bringing new clients to businesses through improving their Google rankings, but you see this is where I get a bit shy and worry that my nerdy love of these things is boring to everyone else. Not so as I have finally found out.

They say that in order to get something you have never had you have to do something you have never done. It is also a really good idea to do something new once in a while in my opinion; it’s healthy to keep developing. So, earlier this year I decided to take the skills I had learnt over the past years and turn them into a course for local business people in Mallorca. I know there are a lot of people out there who need to know how to use digital media and social networking sites but they get daunted by the scale of the job (it is infinite, you could literally go on for ever) and they  worry about the time it may take them. Having a steady hand on the tiller as they set sail on the sea of Blogs is helpful to navigate around the time wasting and dead ends.

So I’ve been doing something that I have never done before, I have been teaching a course at the Kip McGrath centre in Palma in Blogging and Social Media for Business. Every week for the last month I have been teaching seven people  the fundamentals of how to set up and use their own blog, how to hook up their different social media sites and crucially how to decide what they want to say and how to say it.

Now it hasn’t exactly been the Dead Poets Society, no one has stood on a chair and exclaimed “Captain my Captain”, but there have been several light bulb moments from the group as they have realised how to put together their own strategy for their own small business or project. I am very proud to say that the course has been a success. We have seven blogs up and running and ranging in subjects from creative writing to green living to interior design to the comings and goings at a local hotel.  I’ve even inspired myself, so next I am going to try out leading a one day crash course in PR for business, and then another blog course in May.

The really fantastic part about doing something that you haven’t done before, and really putting yourself out there on the line, is the enormous sense of achievement you can feel from having set out on a new path. You feel that you are in control and that in turn makes you feel positive, which in turn rubs off on other people. So all of us: myself and my students have been busy creating and inventing and developing ideas. Technology is amazing you know? And it’s so simple to use when you know how. I feel as if I am finally embracing my inner nerd as I have been revealing my passion and knowledge to people who actually wanted to know!  After many years it’s okay to admit it.

Go on, say it loud, I’m a geek and I’m proud!

You can contact me please send me an email to: hello (at sign, you’re not an evil spam robot so you should be able to figure that out) phoenixmediamallorca.com  Or download this Blogging and Social Media for Business, Beginners. and you can see the details of the blog course if you are interested to participate in the next one, scheduled to start in May.

Supermarket Rage

supermarket-aislesRecently I have been having a very bad case of Supermarket Rage.  It sneaks up on me when I am least expecting it. It doesn’t seem to matter which supermarket I am in, it just seems to be down to who else is in the shop with me. In short: other people. Other people (and their flagrant lack of interest in respecting the international rules of manners) are making me crazy.

I have to get this under control because frankly, no one else cares except me.

But you see, I can’t stand it when a fellow shopper stops dead in front of me with no interest in whether or not there is anyone behind them. I think that blocking the aisle should come with a fine.  And then there is the ‘I´m going to just push through you rather than acknowledging that you exist’ tactic that a lot of shoppers seem to adopt. How rude is that?

Why is it that these days no one wants to say ´Please´, ´Thank you´ or ‘Excuse me’? What is wrong with meeting a stranger’s eye.  It seems to be completely acceptable that we should all have to say Buenos Dias when we are in a doctor’s surgery, so why should this level of politeness not involve taking each other into consideration when we’re trudging up and down with a trolley full of beans?

The other day I was in a supermarket in Palma Nova. I had two kids with me, not just the usual one, and I was struggling to get a full tray of cat chow into my trolley without squashing the eggs and the bread (no one likes squashed bread, right?). I was struggling, and the kids were not being any help at all. Thank fully for me I was in the shop when it was quite quiet so there weren’t many other people around. Except for an older ‘lady’ and her husband.  This woman decided that pushing and shoving me out of the way in order for her to get access the cat food was far simpler than saying ‘excuse me, can I get past?’ or ‘Perdon’ or ‘Permite’ or ‘Entschuldigen’. Worse still, when I looked up and turned around having not squashed the bread, I knew her. She walked away muttering to herself and didn’t seem to think it was in anyway a bad thing to treat another person like that. I don’t know why this makes me so angry, but it does. Live and let live: I am all for that, so why is it so difficult for other people to be polite? Whatever it is it seems to be getting worse.

I have a solution, well I have several: there should be Supermarket Ettiquette Police employed to keep the peace in the aisles. They can be kitted out with rollerskates and wear bubble wrap uniforms so that when they crash into all of the illegally parked trolleys strewn in the aisles they will just bounce off. Punishments for being rude in supermarkets could be : having to go to the back of the check out queue, paying double for plastic bags even though you may have brought your own bags with you and if you are a repeat offender you should be made to shop online on a computer which is programmed to crash every time just before you plug in your payment details. Muwhahahaha! That should teach them! Vengeance shall  be mine. http://www.familymattersmallorca.com

Chinese Whispers

_-Industry-Chinese-Whispers-2-4-Xbox-720-_Whilst the Brits are getting their knickers in a twist about this new ‘Bedroom Tax’ we´ve got a few new problems to deal with ourselves over here in Mallorca. Have you heard about it? You have to declare if you have any property worth over 50k, investments, and something else as well, I´ve heard, on the grapevine. Well that´s just it isn´t it? It´s all gone a bit “Chinese whispers”: everyone´s talking about the new tax declarations that we have to make if we are residents in Spain, but no one seems to actually have any solid information. First it had to be done by a certain date, then no, that date was wrong and it had changed, then there we thought it was just property, but now it is assets as well, or so I have heard.

And the dire consequences of not declaring? Fines, large ones, and interest on the fines, plus excommunication, followed by death, or so I have heard, Chinese Whispers again you see. There is some entertainment to be gained from telling someone who knows nothing about the new declaration, watching the levels of panic rising, their breath quickening and their faces reddening as their hearts start pumping? Priceless.

Some people I know have even said, perhaps they just won´t bother to declare at all. After all, how could the hacienda find out if there were assets? But, I get the feeling that perhaps, that this time they mean business. Perhaps, gasp, the British and the Spanish tax offices will actually speak to each other? Given the terrible state that the Spanish economy is in I think they are going to be knuckling down pretty hard on us.

We all like to tell the stories of the black economy and how quaint things were once upon a time. There is a story from my village which goes something like this: “George couldn´t afford to pay his electricity bill so the bank took some money out of his friend John’s account to pay it because they thought he ‘wouldn´t mind’”. Those kinds of sweet little stories have done the rounds for years so I completely understand why we may not really take and new crack downs seriously, but when you have people like Kate Mentink from EPORE (Europeos Por Espana) wading in and organising information sessions, then it´s time to take notice.

Kate says that confusion is rife on the subject, “I see that the misinformation on this tax subject, and the subsequent rising levels of panic, are causing problems for the ex-pat residents here on the island. I do not think the traditional. “head in the sand” attitude is really going to help this time!” So that is why she is organising a free information session this Friday night (March 22nd 6.30pm) at Mood Beach in Costa D’en Blanes. The speaker will be a tax expert Miguel Angel Serra, he is a lawyer and an economist. The whole meeting will be in English; it is free, without any obligation or commitment.  There will be a question and answer session at the end. Best get there on time to get a good a good seat, there will be a lot of people there, or so I’ve heard.

If you can´t make it to the meeting on Friday then get in touch or if you need more information visit http://www.familymattersmallorca.com