How the isolation of a 3 day storm spured me to truly connect with the city I love: Tauranga

When I ran for Tauranga City Council in 2016, I was invited to talk to several groups about how I had managed to lead a team of 24 volunteers to deliver TEDxTauranga to an audience of 1010 people.

That story began with an epiphany I had during a 3 day storm several years previous.

During that storm I was connected to the whole world through various technologies. But without face-to-face contact I felt isolated and alone.

I emerged from that storm with a list of 4 events to connect people together.

I knew this is what Tauranga (and I) needed.

After a brief period of waiting for them to happen, I realised that someone had to stand up and get started.

And that someone was me.

Here’s the 23 minute version of my story recorded at a breakfast event for 40 people in Sep 2016:

If you are desperately short on time today, here’s the 5 minute version which I told during the 2015 Priority One AGM:


Vanilla Essence or Vanilla Extract? Which One Has Actual Vanilla In It?

I found out the answer to this question last night at BayCourt Tauranga, from Jennifer Boggiss who is the CE of Heilala Vanilla. She told her story for an audience of about 200 of us.

Jennifer Boggiss pictured on right with one of her Tongan-based team members

She spoke very well with just the right amount of humour and stories.

Here are my notes on what I learned from her talk.

Firstly, Heilala is the name of the national flower of Tonga. It is pronounced “hey-la-la”. Continue reading “Vanilla Essence or Vanilla Extract? Which One Has Actual Vanilla In It?”

Simple Advice For Co-Working Spaces: Have Lunch Together

I moved into the Basestation Co-working space mid-January 2015 after being at Studio64 for 2 years.

A few weeks into it I got the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. There was something missing, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.

It wasn’t until I visited Studio64 during lunchtime and we poked fun at each others lunches, had a few laughs, bounced around a few ideas…

That was it!

At Basestation I’d pop into the lunch room at 12pm and sometimes see someone whilst I wolfed down my lunch in silence, sometimes not, sometimes eat alone, sometimes one person would join me.

I’d had enough of that.

I knew that lunchtimes can be the most fun of the day, so I sent out this email to everyone at 9am the next morning:

Subject Line: New lunch time protocol starts today at 12noon

Hiya team, I’ve got great news!

We work in a co-working space so that means that, starting today, we are going to start having lunch together at 12noon. Yay!

We’ll talk a bit of business, a bit of family, have a few laughs, tease each other about our lunch choices, brainstorm new ideas, get a different perspective on things, get to know each other better.

See you at 12noon today and every day from now on!

And the best thing is you don’t have to set an alarm or put it in your calendar because I will come to your work station at 12noon everyday to remind you about your duty as a co-worker.


How did it go? Very well indeed. Here’s a couple of photos:

2015-02-26 12.23.44
2015-02-26 12.23.52
2015-02-26 12.24.44
I rounded up everyone for about 3 weeks until the habit formed, and now, even on days when I can’t get there myself, we all have lunch together. Yay!

If you’d like to find out more about life in a co-working space come to this information evening:

Sheldon Nesdale
Co-working Expert, Basestation, Tauranga, New Zealand.

What is Sheldon Nesdale up to in 2015?

What am I up to in 2015? Take 3.5 minutes to find out in this short video:


Facebook Basics Workshop (Tauranga): Fri 26th September 1pm – 3pm

I’m running a “Facebook Basics Workshop” with Likeable Social Marketing (Dan Necklen).

Know a business owner that might need our help?

This Facebook workshop is for you if:

  • You need help setting up your Facebook business page
  • You’ve got an existing Facebook business page, but don’t know how to use it effectively
  • You have Facebook marketing questions you need answers too


  • When? Fri 26th Sept from 1pm–3pm
  • Where? Ignition Co-Working Space (29 Grey Street, Tauranga)
  • Cost? $180+gst per person
  • Fruit platter + Tea/Coffee provided from Robert Harris

What to bring:

  • Your laptop (and power cord)
  • Your Facebook-related questions
  • Your business cards (don’t miss the networking opportunity!)

It’s limited to 10, and as of today there are just 4 spots left.

RSVP to Dan:

Tauranga City: The First Truly Digital City of New Zealand?

  • What does digital mean to you?
  • What does a digital city look and feel like?
  • Do we want this for Tauranga? Why?
  • Is a digital city attractive to work, live and play in?
  • What is the councils role?
  • What is the citizens role?

These are some of the questions that a small group of passionate Taurangians discussed last week.

The Tauranga City Council council has gone through massive leadership change in the last few months:

  1. A vastly different elected council
  2. Completely different managers appointed to the council departments

There is a perception that councils are:

  • Slow to progress and evolve
  • Bureaurcratic, policy driven and paperwork generating
  • Where innovation and entrepreneurial thinking is discouraged

But after the discussion last week I now see the council differently.

(15 of us attended, about a third of us were TCC employees/managers from a variety of departments, and the remainder was made up of entrepreneurs/small business owners/employees.)

One major take-away for me was that I don’t see a bureaucratic, nameless, faceless blob anymore.

Instead, I see a large team of individuals that care deeply about Tauranga and it’s future. Many of whom are open to new ideas, have an “open door policy”, and want to see new projects and initiatives get off the ground.

So, can we just hold out our hands and make demands?


That’s what a baby/child does who is totally dependent on others.

We are adults, we are citizens.

Either join team Tauranga, or pack up and go live elsewhere.

What is the Citizens Role In A Digital City?

  • We can bring new ideas to the table and they’ll get to the right people in council to look at
  • We can debate the use of council funds and it’s prioritisation of projects
  • We can start new events, new projects, new initiatives and ask the council for help by donating people for committees, or getting the word out, or by donating public space, or even by bending ancient rules

What Does A Digital Savvy City Look/Feel Like?

1. Where Dialogue is Many-to-Many

  • Where its easy to dialogue between council to citizen, citizen to citizen
  • Where council blogs have comments turned on instead of turned off for fear of unpleasant/difficult discussions
  • It doesn’t have to be top-down communication that adds admin overhead. Many citizens would be quick to defend against attacks from trolls

2. Where A Strong Brand Forces Ancient Connotations Out

  • We have these out-of-date associations that we need to shake off: “retirement village”, “fruit growers”, “$10 Tauranga”
  • A new, strong brand can drive these associations out, so that’s our opportunity
  • Should the brand development be outsourced to an agency or crowd-sourced from it’s citizens (or both?)

3. Where Technology Makes Meeting Face-to-Face Even Easier

  • Would it be attractive to Auckland based employers to have remote-workers living/working from Tauranga if we had frictionless booking of offices/meeting rooms?
  • Free, high speed wifi / mobile broadband seems an obvious starting point
  • Interesting meeting spaces such as “maker-spaces” with 3D printers, robotics, gene sequencing

What Are We Waiting For?

  • Hardware?
    • No. It’s cheap, or it’s high-powered and in your pocket
  • Software?
    • No. It’s free or cheap per month, and it’s everywhere you have an internet connection
  • People?
    • No. All we need are passionate people that are curious and inquisitive, that have a collaborative mindset, not a competitive one

So let’s get started.

What’s Next?

This is new territory for all of us, and this meeting was just the first step.

The next step is to meet again in the new year and bounce more ideas around.

None of us are happy with discussion that goes round and round in circles and fails to deliver action, so expect the next meeting to be about determining what actions councils and citizens need to take next to have the future we want.

To join the invitation list email or

Our notes were captured on a whiteboard and collated into this 2 page document: Download it now (97Kb .pdf)


How to Create Start Up Companies Worth A Million Dollars Each In Just 90 Days

Did you meet Laura Rietel (and Nick Churchouse from Lightning Labs) on Thursday 2 May 2013?

If not, you missed a great night!

Laura shared her experience with Business Accelerators.

I loved her presentation style. No slides. Just a few notes, lots of stories, and lots of questions.

Casual and friendly, it felt less like a seminar and more like a chat with an wise friend.

If you didn’t already know, Business Accelerators like Lightning Labs in Wellington have 90 days to turn ideas worth zero into companies worth millions!

So if these accelerators take 90 days, what does everyone do for the other 275 days of the year?


90 day business acceleration programmes are a very intense period for everybody:

  1. The participants who give up their lives, jobs, and family time for 90 days to be there
  2. The organisers who put in 12 hour, or 18 hour, or 20 hour days to ensure the teams have everything they need
  3. The mentors who pour in their expertise and knowledge (for free)
  4. The investors who pour in the money before day zero (when the companies are worth zero), on the hope that on day 90 they’ll be worth millions

It was interesting to hear how the top business accelerator in the world, TechStars, tried to cram 2 programmes into a single year and burnt out every stakeholder group involved.

If they can’t do it, no one can, so don’t even try.

Why Are Business Accelerators So Awesome?

  • Because you compress 2 years of business growth and learning into 90 days
  • Because a fast failure is a good thing
  • Pivots make you stronger (75% of teams pivot), but “spivots”, when you spin around and around make you dizzy
  • The value comes from the mentors advice and how you react to “mentor whiplash”, when you get conflicting advice. It’s up to you to extract what you can and make your decision
  • Mentors sometimes become investors, and sometimes the CEO!
  • The 5 most important factors: Team, Team, Team, Market, Idea
  • The best team have worked together for years
  • Teams are either 2 or 3 co-founders. Solo entrepreneurs don’t get in (unless they can find a co-founder before all the fun starts)
  • You can’t be the coder/tech and run the startup too. You can only wear one of those hats
  • You must be coachable. Don’t be precious. Don’t be defensive
  • It’s bloody hard work. You need support from your family
  • The hottest categories at the moment: Mobile, Cloud, Fashion, Education, Middleware

Who Pays? Who Gets Paid?

  • 50% funded by the Government for writing programmes, salaries for operations team, fixed costs and infrastructure
  • 50% funded by an Angel Investor Fund. In return the Angels get:
    • 6% stake in each accelerated company
    • Due diligence
    • The fast tracked, pressure cooker startup phase
  • Each participant gets $6000 to help them survive the 90 day period financially

Before You Create An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your City…

  1. It must be led by entrepreneurs
  2. Take a long term view (20 years)
  3. Be inclusive. Embrace weirdness. Attract creativeness

Want to come to seminars like this?

You can subscribe to my email list and I’ll let you know about the next one:

“Tauranga University Enrolls First 99 Students, 4 Years Ahead Of Schedule” – Proposed Headline for BOP Times, Fri 26 July 2013

Dear universe, I would like the following headline appear in the Bay of Plenty Times on Fri 26 July 2013: “Tauranga University Enrolls First 99 Students, 4 Years Ahead Of Schedule”.



Not impossible.

I’m going to tell you how.

Artists impression of future campus. Source: BOP Times article

You can probably think of at least 5 reasons why a university here would be great for Tauranga?

5 Reasons Why A University Would Be Great For Tauranga

  1. It would keep school leavers around instead of sending them off to Hamilton, Auckland, Dunedin, Wellington or overseas
  2. Once the students finish uni, they’d be looking for jobs, or even better, creating their own jobs here
  3. Having smart young people around is good for the city
  4. University research can be turned into business opportunities and startups
  5. Uni students are cheap (or free) labour for startups. Lot’s of startups are good for a city (confession: this is my secret agenda)

Lot’s of people and groups complain about the lack of a university in the media, and there is lots of blaming going on for who’s fault it is for not getting started already.

It’s easy to forget the 3 biggest reasons that it hasn’t been built yet:

3 Reasons Why Tauranga Still Doesn’t Have A University

  1. Universities are really really expensive to build (something like $200 Million for the first building)
  2. Universities take a really really long time to build (something like 4 years). They are huge. They need lots of buildings and lots of land. Actually, you never stop adding on to them
  3. There is no university vacuum, because the Bay of Plenty Polytech & Waikato University partnership works quite well there isn’t a hurry to fix this problem

Did you know there has been just ONE new university in New Zealand built since 1965?

5 out of 8 were built between 1869 – 1897. That’s 140 to 116 years ago.

List of NZ University’s And When They Were Built

Year Established University Location Full Time Students
1869 University of Otago Dunedin 19,179
1873 University of Canterbury Christchurch 15,624
1878 Lincoln University Lincoln 2,668
1883 University of Auckland CBD, Auckland 31,688
1897 Victoria University of Wellington Wellington 17,785
1927 Massey University Palmerston North 19,424
1964 University of Waikato Hamilton 10,606
2000 Auckland University of Technology CBD, Auckland 17,821

3 Options Left

There are just 3 options to choose from:

  1. Ask each and every man, woman and child in Tauranga to contribute $2,000 each so we can build a couple of university buildings
  2. Just forget about it. Write off the idea as too hard. Quitting is a valid decision. Don’t be embarrassed.
    • So let’s just work with what we have. My question for the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Education Partnership is this “What do you need?”
  3. Put a virtual university together

What is a Virtual University?

Is it true that, today, if you choose a subject to master, that within 3 months from now, you could be the most knowledgeable person in your city (or country, or in the world) on that subject, and that all you need is internet access?

I think it is true.

Have a look at Khan Academy for example.

Via Khan Academy you can learn about Math, Science, Economics, Computer Science and Humanities for free via a database of over 4000 videos.

In fact, there are schools without text books or teachers who just use these videos to teach children (and adults).

You don’t even need a classroom actually. Just a computer in a hole in a wall will do.

Watch this TED Talk by Sugata Mitra who shows how he enabled illiterate children in a remote village teach themselves Biology and English in 3 months with a single computer in a wall.

So the ice has been broken.

Do we really need huge buildings and desks and chairs and schedules and lecturers and tutors and fees and loans to pay for it all?

Sometimes we do.

But sometimes we don’t.

Imagine if we had both!

Imagine if people could choose!

In fact, we don’t have to imagine, because those are our choices already.

But sitting at home watching video after video is lonely.

Wouldn’t it be great if all the people in your area who were about to watch that video or learn that topic could come together and watch it together, and explain it to teach each other, and argue about it together?

Do you think you’d learn the content better if you could do that?

All we need is a courtyard in the middle of town that can hold about 100 people.

Tauranga’s got one. It’s called Red Square. (Which we could rename “TED Square” after

Turn up there at lunchtime with your lunch and with your smart phone or tablet or laptop.

(Free high-speed WiFi would be handy too but 3G data is getting cheaper, so that will do for now.)

Choose a Khan video or TED video or any other YouTube video you want to watch and tweet your intention using the hashtag #RedSquareVideo and start a 2 minute countdown.

People can subscribe to be notified when that hashtag is used and they would have 2 minutes to come and join you.

They can load the video themselves (or cosy up next to you to watch it), and when it’s done you can have a chat about it so that knowledge really sinks in.

Or, if they want to watch another video, that can do so and others could join them.

The first day for this is 12noon Thursday 18 April 2013.

Join me in Red Square (1 Spring St, Tauranga)?

Imagine if 5 people turned up every day to do this.

And then 10.

And then 50.

And then 99.

That’s the goal: For 99 people to turn up on the 99th day after the start on 18 April 2013.

And this will be the headline on the Bay of Plenty Times website on Fri 26 July 2013 (99 days later): “Tauranga University Enrolls First 99 Students, 4 Years Ahead Of Schedule”.

Will you be one of them?

A Collection of 7 Bob Clarkson Thoughts

Bob Clarkson (72 years old) invited me into his home on the weekend.

For 90 minutes he told me his story.

I can summarise it in 3 words: He loves building.

We talked about many of his building projects. Past (those still standing today), Present (what he’s working on right now), and Future (those that he’s been prevented from starting).

I’ve been told that “you either love him or hate him”. Well, put me in the love-him category then. For the simple reason that he get’s things done. I respect an action man.

Sure, there’s a time for talk, but when the talking’s done, start building. Life is short.

Tauranga needs people like that.

How did I end up at his house?

I’m planning an event called TEDx Tauranga 2013 and I wanted to talk to him about being one of my guest speakers. I Googled his contact details and couldn’t find them anywhere. So via Facebook I asked my network to help. One of my friends pointed out that a quick search for “Bob Clarkson” in the online WhitePages does the job. I found his home number there and talked to him one evening last week.

During that phonecall he invited me to his house to pick up a DVD, a compilation of news footage for the building of Bay Park Speedway 2000/2001.

(Which I have since put on YouTube with his permission).

So what can I tell you about Bob?

Here are 3 quick facts about Bob Clarkson to start with.

3 Quick Facts About Bob Clarkson You Might Not Know:

  1. He doesn’t have an email address (but he tells me his P.A. does, but he doesn’t know what it is)
  2. He drew the plans for the roof for BayPark stadium himself with a pencil and ruler
  3. He wears pants part-time on hot weekends (don’t we all!) – The first thing he said when he opened the door for me was “Sorry I took so long to get to the door, I had to go and put some pants on.  It’s hot today!”.

You might already know about his industrial land projects:

  • BayPark Speedway 2000/2001
  • McDonald St + Aviation Ave (Mount Maunganui) industrial area
  • Melame St, Greerton industrial area

But you may not know about projects he’s planned that haven’t gone ahead yet.

Bob Clarkson Projects That Haven’t Gone Ahead

#1: 1000 Affordable homes in Tauriko West

  • Premise: “Why make it so hard for first time home buyers to afford their own home?”
  • Solution: He owns Tauriko West, and plans to build 1000 affordable homes (+1000 fancy homes) there but can’t go ahead because it’s outside city limits (he’s working hard to change this)

#2: Full day tourist excursion up the Wairoa river

  • Premise: “Why drop off 2000 cruise ship passengers straight into shuttles that drive to Rotorua?”
  • Solution: Create a Maori based cultural Tourist Attraction which involves a paddle up the Wairoa river in Waka, lunch at a new facility on a historic site, and a Waka trip back down the river

#3: Cycling track along the Wairoa river

  • Premise: “Need to build a network of cycle ways? Why not along the Wairoa river?”
  • Solution: He offered to donate the land and build his section of the track at no cost

And you might not have heard his ideas on the following topics.

A Collection of 7 Bob Clarkson Thoughts

#1: Bob Clarkson on the Route K toll road:

“Instead of installing several round-abouts along Cameron Road to slow down traffic and increase demand for the Route K toll out of frustration with congestion, just remove the toll!”

#2: Bob Clarkson on the high-rises at Mount Maunganui

“Instead of concentrating the high-rises all in the corner where the newest buildings create shadows for the older ones, allow high-rises right along the coast to Papamoa strictly at 300m intervals”

#3: Bob Clarkson on consultants fees

“I hate it when tax-payers money is wasted. There is always a way to build it 1.5 times the size for less. It’s consultants fees that you’ve got to watch the most carefully. Their input is important, but you’ve got to control them rather than the other way around”

“Don’t let consultants take control. If they warn you about something with a remote possibility that will cost millions to mitigate, be brave enough to accept that small risk, ignore the advice and move on with the plan”

#4: Bob Clarkson on the secret of life

“The secret to life is asking questions. Beauracrats hate it when people ask questions because they’re scared of exposing how little they know”

#5: Bob Clarkson on decision making

“If I’m going to do something I ask 50 people questions about it. I decide if what they say is helpful or unhelpful. Then I make the decision”

#6: Bob Clarkson on investing your heart and sole into a project

“When you invest in a building project with your heart (not just your wallet), when you get attacked it’s easy to get a broken heart. Those attacks really hurt”

#7: Bob Clarkson on industry

“We need more industrial buildings to give young people jobs and keep them off the streets – then you wouldn’t need to build a new police station”

All-in-all I think he’s awesome.

He tells me that people hassle him that his building projects benefit the community and make money for him.

Well you work for a living (either for an employer or for yourself), and you draw down money (in salary/wages or drawings) to compensate you for your time, right? This is exactly the same but just at a much larger scale.

What’s Next?

At this stage Bob won’t be able to speak at TEDx Tauranga because of health issues.

My vision for TEDx Tauranga is to inspire people to stand up and get out of their comfort zones and make their own dent in the universe.

So at least he inspired one person this weekend (me), and perhaps by reading this article you are inspired too?

So what are you going to build?

Tell me in the comments below.


I’m no court reporter. I wrote my notes by hand, and today I’m here interpreting those notes. When I quote Bob Clarkson I’m actually just telling you my interpretation of what I think he said. You’ll have to give him a call if you want to clarify anything.


Will You Join the 2013 Marketing Bootcamp in Tauranga?

The 2013 Marketing Bootcamp is a series of 12 workshops (one per month) which will improve both you and your business.

Is the “2013 Marketing Bootcamp” for you?

  • YES! If you own a Tauranga-based Small Business and you are either a solo operator, a husband-and-wife team or have a business partner
  • YES! If last year went by in a blink of an eye and you want to be more proactive and in control of your business this year
  • YES! If you want to set new goals for your business and for yourself personally for 2013, and see them achieved
  • YES! If you are sick to death of wasting time and money on marketing and advertising that doesn’t work
  • YES! If you want to learn new-age sales and marketing techniques, tips and tricks to help your business thrive and can be implemented straight away
  • YES! If you think it would be valuable to work with a small group of marketing pro’s and other small business operators who you can bounce ideas around with and who can keep you accountable to the actions you will take toward your goals

If you answered “YES” to those questions then the 2012 Marketing Bootcamp IS for you. (If it’s not for you, can you think of someone who needs this sort of help? Yes? Well, get this content to them today.)

During this 12-month bootcamp you’ll learn how to:

  1. Define your point of difference and shout it from the rooftops
  2. Create and perfect your own, memorable ‘elevator pitch’
  3. Develop and implement a sales process that’s tailored to your business
  4. Structure your pricing to suit your business (and your goals)
  5. Write proposals that make saying ‘yes’ easy for your prospects
  6. Collect the perfect customer testimonial and put it to best use
  7. Extract the most value from networking events
  8. Write articles and copy that inspire action (perfect for websites or blogs)
  9. Use social media as a marketing tool for your business
  10. Deliver outstanding presentations with confidence

Each month you’ll attend

  • A 1-hour workshop delivered by Dan Necklen and Sheldon Nesdale
  • A coffee catchup in between sessions, to report back on your progress to the group

Our commitment

  • Our sessions will be fast, focused, and tailored to suit your needs and your business
  • You’ll have the opportunity to put forward any topics you’d like us to cover
  • We’re so sure you’ll get value from the bootcamp, we’re offering a 110% money back guarantee (that’s right, there’s no risk)

About Sheldon & Dan

  • “Hi, I’m Sheldon. My mission on this earth is to help turn your business into a goal achieving machine for you as the owner. To find out more about me read through
  • “Hi, I’m Dan. My purpose in life is help small businesses realise their potential and become (even more) awesome. To find out more about me read through

Included within the marketing bootcamp:

  • Twelve 1-hour bootcamp workshops (one per month)
  • Twelve 1-page guides (one for each topic) + any other materials or guest speakers we need to pull in
  • Twelve group coffee catchup’s in between sessions (including the coffee itself!)


  • This is a 12 month commitment for those who are serious about dedicating sustained effort to their sales and marketing in 2013
  • The cost is 562.50 per quarter (this is a $44 per week investment in yourself and your business)
  • There’s no risk to you thanks to our 110% money back guarantee (yes, we’re serious!)

Bootcamp Schedule

Define your point of difference and shout it from the rooftops
10.30am Tuesday 22nd January

Create and perfect your own, memorable ‘elevator pitch’
10.30am Tuesday 19th February

Develop your own sales process that’s tailored to your business
10.30am Tuesday 19th March

Structure your pricing to suit your business (and your goals)
10.30am Tuesday 23rd April

Write proposals that make saying ‘yes’ easy for your prospects
10.30am Tuesday 21st May

Collect the perfect customer testimony and put it to best use
10.30am Tuesday 18th June

Mid year re-cap and skills review
10.30am Tuesday 23rd July

Extract the most value from networking events
10.30am Tuesday 20th August

Write copy that inspires action (perfect for websites or blogs)
10.30am Tuesday 17th September

Use social media as a marketing tool for your business
10.30am Tuesday 22nd October

Deliver outstanding presentations with confidence
10.30am Tuesday 19th November

End of year re-cap and skills review
10.30am Tuesday 17th December

Will you let this year slip by faster than last year or will you take control of it?

Imagine getting to December 2013 and looking back on your year and thinking “This year was the best year of my life! I set aggressive goals for my business and for myself and I bloody-well achieved them!”

Or will you just think like everyone else “Oh… 2013 is over already. Wow, that sure went quick. I hope next year goes slower.”

You can have the first scenario.

The first step is to secure your place in the 2013 Marketing Bootcamp.

Contact me before 5pm Friday 18th January (either by phone, email, or by filling in the form below). Spaces are limited to 6 business owners so be quick.

Error: Contact form not found.

How Are You Going To Change Your World in 2012?

Notice how I said “your world” rather than “the world”.

Can one person change the world?

Well, I do think one person can change 10 people.

And those people can change 10 people each.

And so on.

And perhaps, in that fashion, you can change the world.

But I’m talking about “your world”.

Your world could be:

  1. Your country
  2. Your city
  3. People with an interest in common to you
  4. Your network
  5. Your family, your friends
  6. You

I’m confident you can change #6, and by starting there, you can change all the others.

What Are The 4 Things You Need Before You Can Change Your World?

  1. You just need to find you are passionate about (passion keeps you going when everyone else quits)
  2. Find people equally passionate about it and get them to help you (doing it yourself can work too)
  3. Take the action you need to (taking action moves good ideas into great ideas)
  4. Never give up. Let nothing stand in your way.

How Can We Change The City of Tauranga Together in 2012?

I’m passionate about:

And in the last 6 months I have met dozens of people that are passionate about these same things!

But until now, no one person has held all the piece of the puzzle at once.

So in 2012 I’m going to bring all these people and elements together somehow…

Some initial ideas:

  1. Run a Tauranga version of Start-Up Weekend (perhaps twice)
  2. Be a mentor at “The Idea Shed” (high school students)
  3. Help create a Business Incubator in Tauranga
  4. And help these entrepreneurs from these 3 sources to either:
    • bootstrap their business (get it going with zero capital)
    • or help them pitch their ideas to local investors

Keen to help?

Then let’s talk: Phone (07) 575 8799.

The Squeaky Window Gets The Lube

For about a week I have noticed an extremely squeaky rear electric window in my car. It is like 5 teenagers scratching on a chalk board – a really horrendous sound.

I hadn’t thought too deeply about what I should do about it when I heard a radio ad this afternoon “Free electric window lube at Anything Auto Electrical, 32 Waihi Road”.

Just what I wanted! To get the squeak fixed and it’s for free!

I pulled over, and whipped out my new iPhone and found their contact details on I called the number and Greg the manager answered. I said “I just heard your radio ad for a free lube, I’ll be there in 10 mins, ok?” “Sure!” said Greg.

I love to talk to small business owners about their marketing, and that’s exactly what I did with Greg as he worked on my windows.

What Greg Reminded Me About The Yellow Pages

And even though I don’t think much of the Yellow Pages, Greg made me remember that for some industries it is essential and can be effective.

For his Yellow Pages online listing, the “Bronze” level was enough to get him ahead of all the auto-electricians in the area for an extra $20/month.  (I guess Yellow Pages hope that to get ahead of him, a competitor will go for the Silver level?).

Greg liked the Yellow Pages statistics he is provided with every month of the people who “click-to-reveal” his phone number. He monitors his phone call stats and tells me a very high percentage of those that click, go ahead and make the phone call.

How Greg Can Get Maximum Mileage Out of His Free Lube Offer

Greg tells me that the idea behind the “free lube for electric windows” offer was to get people in so they find out a bit about the kind of services they offer, where they are, and take a business card away with them so the next time they have an auto-electrical problem, they know who to call.

Finally I had a useful piece of advice for Greg (have you noticed that so far in this article, he has been teaching me?)

I suggested that Greg starts taking an email address and that the admin/receptionist sends out a short “thank you” email later today or tomorrow which has the following components:

  • Thanks: eg “Thanks for coming in for a free electric window lube today, we think it is important to help you to prolong the life of your window motor and switches”
  • Provide a list of 5 most common symptoms that would indicate an electrical problem “if you notice any of those changes/noises, bring your car in and we’ll do a no-obligation diagnostic for you”

Greg explained to me that he hasn’t bothered creating an emailing list in the past because auto-electrical work happens when something breaks, and whereas mechanics can send out 6 monthly reminders for oil changes and WOF’s, there is very little you can do in terms of preventative maintenance when it comes to auto-electrics.

I suggested, that now that he has the customers permission to email then, that he schedule an email for 3 or 4 or 6 months from now anyway.  The content of that email could simply repeat the list of “5 most common symptoms” or provide a new list, or helpful article, or free advice.

It’s an opportunity to get his brand name in-front of that customer again, and is sure to increase the chances of that customer choosing Greg if something happens to their car around that time that they receive that email.

How Greg Depends Heavily On Online Directory Websites

Even though I am a Marketing generalist and profess to be a “Marketing Consultant” or “Marketing Advisor” I must confess that I don’t do much of that kind of work for clients. Most of the time a client doesn’t even know they need help with their marketing, they just know they need a website. So that’s what I build for them – a website. Luckily for them all my marketing knowledge goes into that process for free!

Anyway, Greg told me his website lists products but doesn’t have ecommerce.

That is perfectly fine in my opinion.

Sometimes it is right to show samples of your product range, indications of pricing, and then drive people to the phone so you can help them in greater depth, provide them with a more accurate diagnosis of their problem, and propose the appropriate solution.

You don’t get that with an ecommerce website – most ecommerce websites are just about the lowest price. It’s no fun discounting all the time just to give yourself the chance of making a sale.

Since getting back to the office, I have tried to find Greg’s website, but I have failed.

I searched for “Anything Auto Electrical Tauranga” but the search engine results pages are dominated by directory listings of his business (Yellow, iLook, UBD, Finda etc), so there is no problem finding his contact details, location and phone number, but it concerns me that his “official” website is nowhere to be seen.

To me, this is a reminder that every business should have a website even if it is a single page with only your contact details and a summary of how you can help customers.

Did you know it is very very easy to rank at the top of search engine results for your brand name?

Why send everyone who searches for you to those directory websites? Do you see there is more risk of them finding one of your competitors while they are there?

If your official website is the first, that risk is removed and you have control over what they read (whereas online directories control how your info is presented).

Can I Help You?

I’d love to chat with you to find out about your business and I might have an idea or two for you to improve. But to be honest, mostly I’ll be listening to what I can learn from you 🙂

If you’d like some free advice about your marketing and advertising, give me a call (07) 575 8799.


Sheldon Nesdale

Tauranga Website Design: List of ALL The Tauranga Website Designers

I heard a rumour that Tauranga has a disproportionately high number of web designers.

It turns out that this rumour may be true.

List of ALL Tauranga Website Designers

    [Portfolio | Pricing]

Is there a Tauranga Website Designer missing from the list?

If there is a Tauranga website designer missing from the list, please add it to the comments below.

Who Owns The Tauranga Domain Names?

I love lists.

(And Google loves lists – there’s a free SEO tip for you!)

So here is my list of Tauranga domain names, who owns them, and which ones are still for sale:

New Zealand (.nz) Domain Names

  1. – Official website of Tauranga City Council
  2. – Official website of Tauranga Chamber of Commerce
  3. – Official website of Tauranga Primary School
  4. – Privately owned directory of Tauranga businesses
  5. – Owned by EOL, redirects to EOL website
  6. – Available
  7. – Available
  8. – Available
  9. – Available

International Domain Names

  1. – Owned by local man Glen Cooney who likes fishing
  2. – Official website of a local Korean church (thanks to Justin for clearing that up)
  3. – No website, just ads
  4. – No website, just ads
  5. – Available
  6. – Available
  7. – Available
  8. – Available
  9. – Available

Have You Tried Guerilla Miniature Billboard Advertising?

Whilst driving to Mount Maunganui yesterday I spotted these tiny billboards strapped to street light polls and road signage opposite Mount Maunganui High School:

4 Lessons You Can Learn From These Guerilla Miniature Billboards

What can you learn from this clever “guerilla” method of advertising? Could you replicate this strategy for your business?

1. Do it cheap.

  • They are made of the core-flute just like real estate signs.
  • There is no graphics.
  • You could get them made for about $10 each.
  • Budget looking can be very effective. When you get junk mail in your letterbox at home do the crappy hand-written flyers get your attention first before the sleek professional Warehouse/Dick Smith/KFC flyers? For sure.

2. Keep your message simple.

  • Mountain bikers know what “MTB” means so this headline captures the target audiences attention.
  • On a full size 6m x 3m billboard your word limit is about 11. So in this case you have about 5 words.
  • What simple 4 or 5 word headline can you use to cut through to your target audience?

3. Choose a single call-to-action.

  • In this case, you just visit the website if the headline “MTB Downhill Racing” appeals to you.
  • The website address is related to the headline so it’s reasonably easy to remember.
  • On a website you can state 5 or 6 different ways to contact you, on a miniature billboard you must choose just one.
  • A website address is very good. A phone number could work but many people prefer to check you out anonymously via a website rather than call a number and get “sold to”.

4. Repeat your message.

  • Normally you don’t get the chance to repeat a standard 6m x 3m billboard 20 metres down the road, because it’ll double your costs.  So you are only giving your billboard one chance to be read as your potential customers zoom past at 50 kph or 100 kph.
  • In this case there were 3 miniature billboards about 20 metres apart.
  • I didn’t really notice the first, but I quickly read the second, and I read the third carefully.
  • It made an impression that a single exposure would not have.
  • In fact, I turned my car around and stopped on the side of the road, took some photos, wrote this article and visited  That’s the magic of repetition.

“Great, but are these billboards legal?”

Probably not. The Tauranga City Council probably has a bylaw which prohibits this sort of guerilla advertising, and other councils around the country do too I bet.

If they get a complaint from the public (or your competition!), the council will take them down for sure (you probably won’t even get fined!).

But until then, you’ve got yourself some very cheap and effective advertising, so go for it!

Like this idea?

I have a million more.  Give me a call on (07) 575 8799 to tell me about your business and we can think up some clever ideas about how to generate more sales for you. At the very least sign up to this blog using the form on the right!

– Sheldon.

Meet Your Local Cybersquatter: Dave Burghardt Who Owns and

Screenshot of the abomination that is

I was looking for flights from Tauranga to Dunedin yesterday, I searched for “Tauranga Airport” and came across

It is a hideous 1 page website that talked about car rental. Not what I was expecting at all!

I was suspicious so dug a little deeper using a “whois lookup” to find out who the owner was.

Sure enough, it’s not owned by the Tauranga Airport, but by a guy called Dave Burghardt:

Name      : dave burghardt
Address   : PO Box 2397
City      : Tauranga
Post code : 3015
Country   : NZ (NEW ZEALAND)
Phone     : +64 7 5784210
E-mail    :

(If you are ever curious about who owns a domain name, use a whois lookup such as: Continue reading “Meet Your Local Cybersquatter: Dave Burghardt Who Owns and”

Could do better than a billboard that says “Nothing to do in Tauranga?”?

I came across these billboards on Maunganui road todayImg021-1.

Could do better than “Nothing to do in Tauranga?”?

Yes, I think so.

That’s a terrible headline.

It’s negative.

How about “What to do in Tauranga?” for example?

And what are the billboards doing in Tauranga anyway?

I assume the target audience is tourists already in Tauranga?  Why would they be here if they didn’t already know what they wanted to do here?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to put the billboards up in Hamilton or Auckland? (After they change the headline of course).

What do you think?  What’s your idea for an even better headline?

How Many Things Can A Restaurant Do Wrong and Still Stay In Business?

It must be 9 because last night the Jasmine Thai Restaurant in Tauranga made 8 screw ups:

  1. The outside signage was so dark and small that half of our party couldn’t find the restaurant when they drove past
  2. The jugs of water that were served when we arrived were at room temperature. No ice. No lemon.
  3. Half of our table wasn’t having wine, but the wine glasses were not cleared from the table (a minor point but we needed the space later)
  4. Half of our party arrived 10 minutes after the first half, but weren’t offered drinks on their arrival
  5. The waitress took the order of a table that arrived after us
  6. Instead of reprinting the menus, things were crossed out with a black permanent marker or with a tiny piece of paper and sellotape.  For example “fresh” was crossed out for “fresh orange juice”
  7. The list of mains were numbered (which is tacky in itself, who started that anyway?), but each page of the mains menu started at number 1, so if we wanted number 5 we’d have to say “number 5 on the second page”, or “number 14 on page 3”
  8. When the waitress came back with our meals she had to ask who ordered what. Is it that hard to remember who ordered what?

However, the food was delicious, fresh and tasty. I have no problem with the chef. But the service was terrible.

How tight-a-ship do you run?

  • Do you pay attention to detail in your business?
  • Have you let your standards slip over time and hoped that no-one will notice?
  • Maybe it’s time for a spring clean?
  • Maybe it’s time you got a fresh pair of eyes to look over your business?
  • If so, I’m available