A week of what matters to James.

Use the tools you have!

Posted on | July 10, 2015 | No Comments

Can you do this with the tools available, oh and that you don’t own?

This is simply a great story.

Monday through Friday, rain or shine,  Harvey would make the trip across the East River at 9 a.m. on the J train from Brooklyn to the Apple Store on the east side of Manhattan

Every track on the album is made with only human voices—the vast majority of which are his, save for the occasional appearance of a guest who came to the store help him out.

The message?

If there is a will there is a way!

Don’t give up!

Never say never!


Creating a culture of engagement

Posted on | July 3, 2015 | No Comments

Have you ever heard of GEL?

I have followed Mark Hurst and GEL for many years now and still have not managed to make it to the event, but I do want to attend.

This year there was, again, a great group of speakers and one that has really caught my attention is Lou Shapiro, CEO of Hospital for Special Surgery.

This talk is not only about the customer experience but how to motivate staff to help create that experience.

This is a talk worth investing the time to watch.



Lou Shapiro, CEO of Hospital for Special Surgery, at Gel 2015 from Gel Conference on Vimeo.

Comfort in food

Posted on | July 2, 2015 | No Comments


Sometimes it is the simple things that bring a smile to your face.

And sometimes, even though you know you shouldn’t, you just have to go against what you know is best.

More often than not it is food that will get the better of us, but what can we do?


In Dubai we love a poutine, once in a while, but the curds are not right or the gravy is wrong it just doesn’t work.


We even had a dining experience in Dubai where they had run out of gravy, how?

But when we are in Quebec and we have a chance to have some comfort food there is simply no better moment in a day.

Never underestimate the power of food.

For the love of tech

Posted on | July 1, 2015 | No Comments


Coming back to Canada is always a blast.

One of the things I love about coming home is the amount of what might be called old tech that is being used.

We still have a betamax and laser disc player on top of the rear projection TV.

And you  know what, these old school tech devices are working great.

What tech are you using that others would say is out of date?

The Search For a Good Shave.

Posted on | June 27, 2015 | No Comments

For as long as I can remember  I have always been a disposable razor guy.

No surprise the disposable razor industry is huge, $3.6 billion a year in the USA alone.

Globally the value of the disposable razor industry is a staggering $34 billion dollars!

Less than a year ago I took the bold step of saying no more to the disposable razors I had grown up using.  There was no good reason for me to change my shaving habits I had bought in hook, line, and sinker to the slick marketing campaigns created by the global disposable shave industry.

What I was interested in learning was could I get as good a shave from an old school safety razor, the type of shave where you dispose of the razor blade and not the handset?

For a fraction of the price of the latest and greatest 5 blade shaver I bought a Lord Safety Razor and a box of Feather Blades, followed by some fantastic Body Shop Maca Root Shaving Cream and a badger bristle brush.


The mass produced commercial razors and shave creams are great for a fast and efficient shave, emphasis on fast and efficient.  What the mass produced disposable razor has also done is deprive generations of men the pleasure of the grooming experience.

Yes, one of the 1st things I discovered when I picked up my Lord Razor was that the shaving process had to be slow and considered to avoid cuts, I had to concentrate, I had to lather and feel my face before I ran the razor over my skin and then I had to feel my face again and re-shave.

Suddenly the shaving process was slowed and it became about the enjoyment of the activity and not just the routine. I thought the joy of shaving would be short lived but several months later I am enjoying the art of shaving more than ever.

Of course there are challenges, I have had my share of nicks and cuts, but I haven’t packed my kit away and picked up a cheap disposable in the grocery store just yet.

What I have realised is that my dad didn’t teach me how to use a razor with a disposable razor blade in it and I wish he had! I think we all need a few lessons on how to shave and how different handsets, shave creams and even blades can change the shave we should all love.

Picking a shaving cream is very important and the stuff in a ready to use can is seldom anywhere near the quality you want to use on your face for a great shave, again convenience is  winning out.

Aftershave cream and lotion is a must and there is a lot of variety.

But most of all what I have rediscovered is that shaving can be immensely enjoyable and so many men today have no idea what they are missing out on because they have bought into the marketing machine of the $34 billion disposable razor industry, just like I had.

I hope more men take a  moment and rediscover the art of shaving and on a positive side safety razors are much more economical than buying the disposables that are front and center at every store selling male grooming products.


Do you know your Mother?

Posted on | June 26, 2015 | No Comments

So, how well do you know your mother?

Could you write a book about your mother?

What would the soundtrack of your mother’s life be?

And who would read a book about your mother?

Lots of questions and Billie Elias has the answers as she talks to me about writing a book about her own mother!

Five years ago I spoke to Billie about educational toys, 2 weeks ago we reconnected and she wanted to know if I wanted to talk about her soon to be published book.

This is a story to inspire single mothers, daughters, anyone who has lost a parent and anyone who needs a bit of inspiration.

As Billie said to me, this book is a handbook on how to live your life and enjoy every moment.

Give Pearl’s Party a look!

Here is our conversation.

Introducing Burgers2Binary the podcast!

Posted on | June 17, 2015 | No Comments


Andrew Thomas and aI have been doing a show on DubaiEye for a bunch of years now, Techtalk is what it is called.

Well, for too long we have been talking about a spinoff show of sorts.

You see, there are some restrictions when you are doing a commercial radio broadcast, mainly that you need to keep the program tight and very focused on the task at hand.

Not that Andrew and I are not focused but once in a while when we are talking about this or that you find yourself being drawn in a totally unrelated direction, for us it is often to food.

So, Andrew Thomas and James Piecowye have created a webONLY podcast called Burgers2Binary where we talk about all things technology and the random daily stuff that you might not entertain in a mainstream broadcast radio technology show.


We have soft launched and will be going full speed ahed in September but we have 2 of 4 episodes up now.

How can you find us?

1. SoundCloud

Or on Podomatic.com

And you can subscribe in iTunes and it is all free!

So, let us know what you think.


It all starts with the beat.

Posted on | June 6, 2015 | No Comments

Music it is!


This week I finished off with another interesting look at independent music from the middle east and I have to tell you Apo & The Apostles, love these guys.

Why not just go and give the Jukebox Radio Show a listen and you will hear what I am talking about, the boys are the 1st group up.


Lecture time.

CreativeMornings was announced for June 111th in Dubai and this is the final lecture of the season, we will be back in September.

I like the idea that what we are talking about this month is revolution, but in the context of food and reward.


Weddings are worth it?

We had a wonderful little conversation on Nightline about weddings. I was floored by the rising costs of a wedding. Here is a great message to the program.

James forgot to mention in the haste to share my story. We manage wedding events for our clients. On average the Russian market spend around 800,000 foraround 150 max guests as their menu items include caviar and the best premium drinks and the Indian Sindhi market spend on Average around 400,000 – 600,000 becauSe they have multiple functions for around 300 guests. It’s better to save that money and invest in a sound secure future as opposed to splashing so much cash to keep others happy! Ps; I’m shopping for my centre pieces now at the whole sale market 😉

If you want to get a sense of what we spoke about for an hour then you need to dial into the podcast!


Food is #1!

I spent a bit of time trying to figure out the balance of food and fitness with Zelda this week and we happened upon a great healthy pasta idea.

What about pasta without the carbs?

A great dish!



Bring on the Tech!

And as always there is always a need to think about a bit of tech and this was how I happened upon a $20 second screen and a cool keyboard idea.

Useful app for iPad users. Second screens for Mac book




Finger licking good




All in all a good week.



Some Great Indie Music.

Posted on | May 23, 2015 | No Comments

Every week I get a chance to sit down with the folks at Triplew.me and we play some very cool music from independent recording artists in the Middle East.

This is a Great Podcast.


Here is the lineup.

Jammit – Soldiers 
TheEmptyCorner_Mike Ross

Metamorphiq-Unlucky one

Alsarah & The Nubatones – Wad Alnuba (Captain Planet Remix)


Let me know what you think.

Engage Why?

Posted on | May 8, 2015 | No Comments

It is always interesting to ask what makes a person engage with a brand.

I am working with customer engagement 6 hours a week on DubaiEye 103.8 FM’s Nightline program.

I like to think I succeed with customer engagement, but that could also be open to debate.

In the case of radio engagement is often measured in terms of listeners as measured through research.

In my case I have 50,000 listeners on a decreasing scale between the hours of 9 and 11pm.

But what does this tell us about engagement?

A slightly better measure of engagement is the number of people who have taken the time to embed or download programming.

Plays Mobile Plays Likes Embeds Playlists Follows Comments Visits Downloads
5/7/2015 15 2 0 102 0 0 0 275 219
5/6/2015 11 10 0 398 0 1 0 300 368
5/5/2015 12 4 0 76 0 0 0 263 195
5/4/2015 3 6 0 431 0 1 0 145 170
5/3/2015 1 0 0 74 0 0 0 147 333
5/2/2015 5 6 0 67 0 0 0 218 181
5/1/2015 11 0 0 5 0 0 0 496 397
Totals 58 28 0 1153 0 2 0 1844 1863

But I suspect we also need to take into account the quality of the SMS messages and the level of interaction via phone calls.

We did a show on Wednesday talking about the end of self-serve gas or petrol pumps.

Yes you read in Dubai there is no self-serve fill-up options! Some would say that is great others might lament the longterm implications on society.

Here are the calls and SMS messages from the show that aired from 9 to 10pm.

There were some very interesting calls to the show.

Caller 1

Caller 2

Caller 3

Caller 4

Here is the entire podcast!

The SMS to the show.

Hey James.  I’ve seen so many guys leaving the nozzle  hung on to the gas tank thinking it ll hold it … and bam it fell off …so I d Say they need tobe trained and gas stations didn’t do a good job there in teaching them how to do that


Dont worry about lack of self-service. It takes you 5 seconds when you step into self-service environment. To figure it out. You are overthinking it.


I can barely get the car to the station right, let alone fill it by myself. XD

It’s WAY more of a blessing than a curse (everyone benefits) but still, we’re like babies, we need to gain more independence ASAP.

Also, by the way WE DO have self check in at Dubai Airport!! (It’s called Electronic check in, I guess?)

9 years in dubai and none of ironing done at home any more:)



Things don’t just get done. We pay for every service. It s not a question of complacency. Its a question of social responsibility.


This is why we live here! Allan


 Hi James, A lot of people like me are not used to self service, for instance at a filling station. I am from India and we dont have that concept back home…Anand


Absolutely agree that we should be filling our fuel ourselves. Funny how I once got a talking down by a Pump attendant for attempting to fill up myself while he was at another pump. Shelton 


And yes, I did know what I was doing with the pump!


Guys… If we were to rationalise the uae and have the population doing the stuff that people do on their own in Europe. 

As well as stopping to overstaff empty shop on weekdays I think the real estate market would crash cause 1 millions people would go back to their country. 


I know a guy that catches rides with people because he needs to ‘fix’ his car. He has no gas


 I’ve had that conversation with  friends. We all agreed that car washing and the laundry for shirts were keeper. 

Some thought weekly or by monthly maid were useful too. 

But we are all shocked off the plastic bag guys,  petrol station ans so on…

Even after 5-10 years living here. 


Learned to drive in dubai 8 years ago and still never put petrol in a car!!


The difference is that the people doing that back in Europe still can rent their house and sometime have a car and all. 

Here those people live 8 in a rooms. Work 26-30 days a month ans are paid peanuts. 


 Hey James, keep your hair on ;). It wouldn’t be so exciting if you has to do it everyday :). But I agree with you pumping your gas is something the young need to learn. For real achievement you might wana give up the outsourced ironed shirts ;). 


While growing up in the 80’s in Dubai we didn’t really have maids those jobs were done by our parents and as kids we shared the jobs. Many of us didn’t even get pocket money for it.


 Hi. My brother in LA said he and friends took 3 days to assemble the complicated fbedroom furniture set. Here the guys came and assembled in a couple of hours . 

I am suggesting that it is time that we measured the success of media based on not only the number of customers reached but by the quality of that interaction.

Listeners, SMS, calls, downloads, Facebook shares, periscope watches… all of this has to be factored into audience engagement not just the time of day a program is broadcast.

Of course I have a self interest in this exercise as a radio show presenter but this has also been the catalyst for  working on the creation and delivery of a metric for accurately measuring and quantifying the value of customer engagement.

Watch this space!

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