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  1. This morning I read a recommendation from an environmental company to send email Christmas cards in favour of posting real ones. This, of course, is nothing new in this age of paperless this and thats, but now that we are greeting card publishers, it becomes a larger issue than personal choice for us.

    1983We have sent cards out every year since 1983 that I have designed and usually have really enjoyed the whole process. Over the years the techniques have changed and so have the subjects, but the motives have remained constant. It is really why we have started to make and sell greeting cards. We have a beautiful world in which we live. It sparkles with magical experiences and glimmers with hidden or ostentatious wonders. Throughout the festive season we are bombarded with consumer items and the idea of gifts and presents seems rather tainted at times by the ravenous hordes of companies and shareholders demanding ever higher and greater profits. There are important by-products of this consumer society since many jobs rely on the ability to sell, but it is possible to have experiences in a different way. By focusing on the positive nurturing things that we can do, we make it a richer and happier experience.

    We send real cards across the country and across the world, happy with the ability it gives us to value and appreciate the friends that we have made and the business contacts that are valuable to us, as well as the many family members we may not see for years at a stretch. Some friends we have been in communication with for twenty years or more without having met up. This annual tradition of the card sent to wish warmth, hope and in celebration of such a major festival brings these friendships back to fresh memory and the sheer process of sitting and writing their names conjures them up. Receiving cards from them can also be a source of warmth and affection as they also show that they remember us.

    1987Each year I have also had cause to send cards to contacts where the relationship has taken some form of a knock. The card is, I suppose, a form of peace offering, a reaching out to say that things don’t always have to be difficult, without necessarily putting it into words. Some of these have been awkward to do, many have felt courageous, but to date all have been extremely well worth doing. It is something that I would recommend for anyone to do as it is also cathartic.

    Email cards gained popularity and at the same time notoriety in the late 1990’s. One very crucial tip that IT security experts pass on is to be extremely wary of email links, even from recipients that you think you know. For this reason we have been wary, if not downright suspicious, all along of emailed Christmas cards and may have missed some tender messages as a result. Over the past 18 months this wariness has escalated as friend after friend has ‘sent’ really iffy-looking attachments when their email systems have been compromised. These files are way more serious a threat than the 1990’s virus attacks, as entire systems genuinely become compromised and hijacked. Key logging for online banking is one major threat, but another huge and escalating issue is that of fraud where company invoicing systems are hacked and invoices are sent out with the wrong bank details on, duping the recipient into paying large bills. This threat is very real and the losses have amounted to tens of thousands of pounds. Christmas email messages are likely to contain a considerable threat. For this reason alone we would decide to send physical cards, but happily since we do this already it is not a decision we are called upon to take.

  2. Over the years, I have been to myriad events that have gone under different titles, but have all, effectively been ‘networking’ events. Usually mad-eyed business people veer across the room to engage in obsessive chat about what they want me to buy from them until I whimper and slink off. There was an enjoyable speed-networking event a few years ago, but that was probably because there was a shift of emphasis and also I was sitting down! ch 18 r19-sm

    My attitude to networking has been influenced by reading on the subject, but also by what I myself would like to achieve. A network of good contacts and opportunities is my gameplan, which makes these obsessive sellers quite simply terrifying!

    Tilia Publishing UK’s first book has been my grandfather’s It’s Warmer Down Below: the autobiography of Sir Harold Harding [HJBH], 1900-1986. He was a hugely important influence in my childhood, but working through the book, it became obvious how little I had actually known of his world. He networked magnificently! All through the book he is chomping in fancy restaurants, or having dinners with eminent engineers. Sitting spending quality time with interesting people, discussing widely. He did this all over the world. 

    One magnificent example of this and how effective it could be took place the day after he was appointed to sit on the tribunal investigating the disastrous colliery slip at Aberfan in South Wales, (50 years ago, on 21st October 1966).