Sunday 20 January 2013

The Lance Armstrong Interview: An admission of guilt but something still missing

I watched the Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah on Friday and the second part of the interview this afternoon.

We got the confession that he'd doped throughout his career and cheated his way to 7 Tour de France titles, but despite this I still felt there was something missing and unsatisfactory from his confession.

Like many elite athletes, Armstrong is use to being in control, setting the agenda, calling the shots. There was still an element of this in his interview or performance.

Yes there was an acceptance that he had to apologise, but I don't think there was a deep seated sense of remorse. The impression still lingers that he did what he had to do to win the Tour, and went about it in a ruthless and cynical way. If that meant doping then so bit it.

I don't think it was possible to win the Tour de France during the 'EPO' era of cycling when Armstrong was winning his seven titles.

I discovered more about this period after reading the autobiography of British cyclist David Millar who was banned for two years for doping. His book gives you an insight into the world of professional cycling at the time and the culture of drug taking.

I agree with Armstrong's claim that he didn't create the culture of doping but he didn't try and change it either. Instead he ruthlessly exploited it.

Sports stars have always cheated. What makes Armstrong's case different is that not only did he cheat, but for years he denied ever taking drugs. He then went out and attacked those people whose accusations were correct all along.

There was Emma O'Reilly his former massage therapist who he called a whore at a Dallas Tribunal In November 2005.

Betsy Andreu the wife of the cyclist Frankie Andreu. In 1996 she'd been present in the consulting room at Indiana University hospital when she heard Armstrong admit to two doctors that he had used performance enhancing drugs before he was diagnosed with cancer.

Despite calling her a liar for many years, he couldn't bring himself to publicly apologize during his interview with Oprah.

Finally, there's David Walsh, from the Sunday Times. For over 10 years he's made it almost a personal crusade to reveal the truth about Armstrong. Walsh raised many of the allegations against Armstrong in his co-authored book titled, LA Confidential.

Reading in today's Sunday Times he reveals how Armstrong referred to him as a "little f**king troll". Tells you everything you need to know about Armstrong.

Lance Armstrong has to be one of the most flawed sports stars I think I've seen. There's an admission of guilt, but in his mind he did what he had to do in a sport that was riddled with drug taking.

It's the bullying and intimidation that he inflicted on the cycling world and those who questioned him that I find distasteful. If you also add the building of the myth and Armstrong brand. It takes his cheating and deceit to a whole new level.

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Saturday 19 January 2013

The Inevitable Demise of HMV

Over the Christmas holidays, I was down my local pub with an old school friend. We were chatting about HMV and wondering realistically how much longer it could survive.

We found out this week that its survival is in doubt after it went into administration. It's an announcement I've been expecting for the last two years.

Chatting to my friend we both agreed HMV has an identity crises. One of its biggest problems is that it doesn't know what it wants to be.

Is it a record shop, or is it a DVD and gadget shop? It's everything and none of these things. It's just very confused.

Obviously the biggest mistake that HMV made was not reacting quickly enough to the impact of the internet.

The more I think about it, I don't think there's been a technological innovation in my lifetime that's had such a revolutionary effect on some many areas of our lives.

It's completely disrupted and revolutionised the business models of so many industries, with music being one of the biggest affected.

HMV was in a great position at the end of the 90s to take advantage of the HMV brand and branch out into the world of online shopping ,but the vision and determination wasn't there.

This isn't end of HMV there's still a chance that it will survive. It's got a strong brand image and many shoppers have affection for it.

Here's what I think HMV should do

  • HMV should go back to being just a record shop and stop trying to be all things to all people.

  • HMV should try and take on the role of a more specialist independent record store that appeals to genuine music fans. Let the casual music lover shop online at Amazon. HMV should look at more specialist music market as well as the mainstream.

  • HMV should be a highstreet shop where music lovers can hangout and socialise around music. Obviously if HMV does survive there's going to be less shops around the country but that's not a problem. Any existing shops should be located in key high streets dotted around the country.

  • Independents are still surviving focusing on the niche. HMV should start selling vinyl again. Vinyl will and is surviving CD's.

  • If you have ideas on how you think HMV should survive let us know your thoughts.

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    Tuesday 1 January 2013

    Happy New Year: Hello 2013

    Happy New Year to all my blog readers. I hope there's still more than one of you out there.

    Also a Happy New year to anyone who's just found my blog for the first time. I like to keep my blog updated regularly, so please come back as there's always new content.

    It's hard to believe that this will be my fifth year of blogging after starting back in 2009.

    Looking back, I remember my first few blogs. You feel a bit nervous putting your views and opinions out there into the internet universe. I found the more you keep writing and thinking about what you want to say, the easier it gets. Blogging is very much a part of my life now.

    My blog has improved my writing abilities and helped me land my first freelance job working as a freelance writer for a London based marketing agency called Quad. One of my goals this year is to develop my freelance career as much as possible and working for Quad is a great way to start.

    If you have goals and ambitions for the forthcoming year, my advice is to make sure they're realistic and achievable. Look to take small steps rather than giant leaps.

    People always try to make resolutions. 'I'm going to lose weight, I'm going to stop drinking blah blah blah' Have specific goals rather than resolutions. Resolutions rarely work.

    If there are parts of your life you want to improve trying giving a mark out of 10 to show your current satisfaction. If for example you would give your job or career a 6 out of 10; what can you do to push it up to an 8 or 9? Try keeping a diary to track your progress.

    Make sure your goals are true to who you are. Too many times we take on goals and ambitions that other people tell us to have. It could be family, friends, society. Make sure your goals are important to you, in terms of who you really are.

    Whatever 2013 holds for you I hope it's a good one for you.

    Here are two blogs I follow that might be of use to anyone looking to make changes in their life for 2013. The first is Brazen Life. I career blog for those who want to make the most of their jobs and career.

    The second is Zenhabits. I love this blog, and so do many others. It's one of the most popular blogs in the world.

    It's a good lifestyle blog. Our lives our so busy and hectic these days, that sometimes we need to slow down and make things a little bit simpler. Zenhabits is the perfect blog for this sort of thing.

    Have a great 2013!