10 reasons why Smoking is like Religion

Bit of a fun blog today, stretching my mind around two of the many human activities I find quite baffling.

Here are my Top Ten Reasons why smoking is like following a religion:

1 – If they didn’t exist, no-one would invent them. Watch Bob Newhart’s legendary Raleigh sketch here, and you’ll get the idea. Then imagine him calling home to try and explain religion to a nation evolved purely on science and reason.

2 – If our kids didn’t learn about them from us, they wouldn’t discover them later. This is a great argument both for religious education and smoking in homes or close to children to be banned.

3 – Both are harmful to health. Smoking inarguably so; religion stifling to open enquiry and rational thought. The late great Christopher Hitchens referred to religion as a mental illness, and who am I to argue?

4 – There would be fewer premature deaths without either. Sure, we’ve all got to die sometime, but that’s no reason to wantonly leave the party early. Whether you choose to literally expire through self-inflicted respiratory destruction, or get caught up in an act of slaughter in the name-of-all-that’s-holy, either is a tragic waste of precious life.

5 – Both originated from our ignorance. Religions were invented to provide explanations where current knowledge failed. The sun rose – must be a big man upstairs. Washed away in a flood – that’s him again, punishing us for being bad. Smoking was promoted long before medicine caught on to its perils. Hell, we even thought it was good for us!

6 – Now we know better. The corollary to number 5. 21st Century Medics unanimously agree that smoking is among the easiest and surest of slow suicides yet discovered. Scientists are equally aligned that most things previously given a mystical status are now fully explained by science.

7 – Both are financially ruinous. I know people who spend more on fags than they do on a mortgage payment, for God’s sake. And no-one could make an argument of fiscal responsibility for the Vatican, hoarding looted treasures worth enough in cash terms to rid the world of all known diseases. Probably. If all the churches in the UK were converted into social housing, we’d solve the new homes shortage at a stroke. Maybe.

8 – They waste good people. Smoking, as we’ve agreed, truncates lives and thereby loses any future intellectual and social benefits those people may have yet had to bring. Organised religion is a huge sap of talent. I know several intelligent, intellectual and compassionate priests who could have contributed positively to our society in many other more useful ways.

9 – Both are widely practised, yet wrong. The argument that if enough people say or do something, it must be right, has never been disproved more effectively than through smoking and following religion. No-one needs to re-read the list of tobacco-related diseases to know that for sure, and here is a great rationale of why the same applies to religion.

10 – We’d be better off without them. You won’t find many people outside of the tobacco industry and HMRC arguing any positives for smoking. Even the smokers I know agree it’s plain silly. As for religion, John Lennon summed it up as perfectly as a man ever has.

So there you have it. Now you all know that I’m anti-smoking, and an unrelenting apologist for scientific reason!

Smoking Priest


4 reasons you can’t afford a McLaren sportscar (And why you really, really should)

I’m writing this on St George’s day, a celebration of all things English, and I’ve just been driving the sublime blend of art and science that is the Surrey-built McLaren MP4-12C, the latest hypercar to come from Lewis Hamilton’s employer.

It won’t surprise you to hear that it’s supremely fast, beautiful and obsessively desirable.

Another thing you probably already know is that you won’t be driving one off the forecourt anytime soon. Isn’t it about time you thought about why the 200 or so McLarens built for the home market in 2012 will belong to someone else, and not you?

Hint: It’s not because the MP4-12C is too expensive.

Far from it; given the amount of time, expertise, creativity and engineering genius that’s gone into crafting this 205mph British icon, it’s a positive bargain at £186k.

No, it’s most likely the flip side of “too expensive” that’s stopping you adding your name to one of the UK’s most exclusive waiting lists.

It’s because you’re not earning enough money yet. 

If you’ve chosen your path as an employee: an important cog in someone’s larger machine, then fair enough. Your country, and your employer needs you, and your rewards are likely to be other than massive piles of spare cash.

However, if you’ve taken the plunge into business, with all the responsibility, liability and downright stress that comes with that territory, then don’t you reckon you deserve a £200k car every couple of years?

Here are 4 reasons why you can’t afford your McLaren (yet) –

1 – Your business plan is too modest. (You do have a business plan. Don’t you?)

Solution – Revise your goals with some blue-sky thinking. How good could you be?

2 – Your marketing plan is ineffective. (You do have a marketing plan. Tell me you do.)

Solution – Get coaching, mentoring or practical help from marketers with proven success. NB – Social Media can be a magic bullet to linking you with customers.

3 – You’re doing everything yourself. If the business is YOU, and YOU are the business, then how do you expect to earn any more than any other single employee?

Solution – Step back, delegate, and expand whilst you oil the machine you’ve made with other people’s cogs.

4 – You don’t enjoy your business. Maybe the novelty’s worn off, and you’ve got bored and aren’t giving your best. Or maybe the market’s changed so much that it’s no fun anymore.

Solution – Recruit an exit strategist to groom the business for sale, and move on with cash in your pocket (Preferably, at least £186k!)

I reckon anyone with the drive and enthusiasm to start their own venture deserves rich rewards.

Don’t settle for less.

For a free one-hour business mentoring session with Jonny Cooper worth £175, leave a comment on this post below saying why you need and deserve it!

(PS – If you’re already where you need to be, call David Tibbetts, the sales director himself at McLaren Birmingham on 01564 787 180 and tell him I sent you. Nothing in it for me, but it’ll let him know it was worth giving me the ride today)




5 reasons too much choice sucks!

I recently finished uploading my venerable CD collection to my ipod so I can play what I want in the car. Proud as I was of being able to carry 8150 songs around in my glove box, I was startled to hear my girlfriend complaining.

“Too much on here” she whined, “I can’t decide what to listen to!” I had to concede that she had a point, and one well worth carrying over into the commercial realm.

Just when is enough enough, and when does too much choice start to repel your customers?

I’ve had contact with a number of businesses recently which are proving that they don’t need to be all things to all men in order to succeed.

One of my clients sells a walking shoe specifically designed to improve posture and back pain, and claims to reduce cellulite. With that one product, she turned over £600k last year.

Then there’s the “one-deal-a-day” websites like which has gathered an almost cult following. There are plenty more jumping on this easy-to-grasp bandwagon, all offering customers’ one simple choice – take it or leave it!

In a world dominated by multi-national conglomerates, the best chance for an SME is to own a large share of a market niche. Here are 5 reasons why you should focus your business on a simple range of offers –

1: Experts get paid more. If your roof leaks, you’d sooner give £2000 to a roofing contractor than a general builder.

2: Simplify marketing. One clear brand message carries a lot more weight, and is cheaper to promote, than a long list of products and services.

3: Improve cashflow. If you manufacture or sell a range of tangible products, customers expect you to stock them all. The fewer you offer, the less space and working capital you need.

4: Competitors become friends. Your niche offering will conflict with fewer of your rivals, so they can recommend you to customers to compliment their business.

5: Get more referrals. If there are not many of you in your field, customers will be much more likely to pass you around to anyone else they meet who needs you.

As for my ipod; I’m going to get a smaller version and download a few hours of my favourites – any more is just too much!

Jon Cooper is the founder of business coaching, and an Accredited Business Adviser with the IBD group. Exclusive to BLOG READERS – email for a free one-hour business mentoring session with Jon, worth £175.

Jonny Cooper: Your greatest asset can’t be bought, so don’t give it away!

It’s been a week full of raucous excitement and non-stop activity; from securing two major new clients and 2 days gigging with my best band buddies, to planning an Easter surprise and a trans-Atlantic summer trip, it seems as if every available minute has been fully spent.

In fact, the last 7 days reminded me of a parable told to me by one of my earliest mentors, a wise old sage charged with coaching me and 20 other eager students in the principles of business, back in the late…well, quite some time ago anyway!

He asked us to imagine having a bank account with £86,400 in it. The catch is: every night, the bank claims back whatever part of the balance you didn’t spend during the day.

Next morning though, there’s another £86,400 sitting in your account, ready to use.

Is there anybody who wouldn’t soon learn to draw out every penny, every day?

Well, we all have an account like that; it’s called TIME! Every day you have 86,400 seconds available to spend. Each evening, when the bank cancels every second you didn’t use, it’s lost forever. The loss is yours. There is no going back, and there is no dipping into tomorrow’s.

In case you don’t fully appreciate the value of time, think about this: if you’re 30 today, you’ve probably got about another 1,300 million of these little credits left, in total. That’s not so many, when you’re spending more than 31 million a year!

Ask a student who failed his finals how much a year is worth; the mother of a premature baby the value of a month, or the editor of a weekly newspaper how much he values 7 whole days!

If you think a minute is pretty worthless, try getting to the station sixty seconds after the train left, or ask a motorist who just near-missed a head-on collision what value he would now place on that last second.

So, like I did last week, you should treasure every moment of this precious, irreplaceable life and fill it with fun, fulfilment and your favourite people.

3 ways to tell if your friends are sabotaging your life

Last week I decided to “cancel” a friendship I had with a guy (let’s call him Gordon, for no particular reason) who, over the 12 years I’d known him, had always seemed to be in a parlous financial state, despite having a succession of reasonably paid sales jobs.

Worse, he perpetually blamed the Government, the tax-man, his divorce and recently the economic meltdown for his feeble position and lack of tangible success.

Sometimes, if my day hadn’t quite gone according to plan, I’d found it comforting, in a strange kind of way, to hang out with someone else whose day, year or entire life was going even worse.

Problem was, allowing him to sympathise over my occasional disappointments had saved me the trouble of doing anything constructive to stop the same things happening again. Even worse, after a half-hour of his desolate diatribes, I would find myself starting to think like him!

Believing as I do that our success is based almost entirely on the attitudes and behaviours of the people around us,  I had to let Gordon go.

Inspired by that experience, I’m now spring-cleaning and de-cluttering my whole network, exterminating any other Gordons who may be lurking in there masquerading as worthwhile associates. Try it for yourself, using these 3 simple criteria –

1: How are they fixed financially? It’s a spooky mathematical reality that if you take the five people closest to you, add up their salary and divide by five, you’ll have your annual earnings potential. Don’t tolerate anyone who drags down your average.

2: How much value can they bring to your life? Fruitful and rewarding associations are about a fair exchange of value, with each party adding to the other’s success. If it’s all their way, bin them!

3: Do they move in circles you’d like to penetrate? If they operate at a lower level than you do and never venture out of their discomfort zones, they’re unlikely to be capable of improving your life.

After you’ve ruthlessly culled your contact list, get to work on those you decided to keep, and resolve to spend a lot more time with them. That shouldn’t be difficult if you’ve done it properly; because there won’t be too many names left…