Warning, warning!!! For any wine snobs out there, this post may be offensive to you.

As everyone is aware most people now drink wine. BUT, they buy it from a discount supermarket (shock, horror!), not from a specialty liquor or wine store.

The largest retailer of wine in the world is Tesco (with over $1.8 billion in sales a year) and close behind them is Cosco (over $1.0 billion in sales)

Costco’s approach to selling wine is very different to other supermarkets or retailers, choosing only to carry 100 – 200 wines at any given time, compared to the norm of between 1,500 up to 3,500. Selection is limited at Cosco so value and quantity sales are the key. But don’t think undrinkable wine, as the secret for Cosco has been to bring global wines (French, Kiwi, Australian, Chilean, German) to the USA market. And while prices do start at $5 for a bottle you can also buy Dom Pérignon!

If you are looking for a good tasting cheaper wine… these made Wine Spectator’s Best 100 list and definitely won’t break the bank.

Rank 21 – $15 Georges Duboeuf Morgon Jean Descombes 2009
Rank 42 – $9 Quinta de Cabriz Dão 2008
Rank 43 – $14 Gruet Blanc de Noirs New Mexico NV

Drink Up!


I am getting ready to pack for a work trip and trying to decide which suitcase to take. I have been through many a luggage set in my time – some a lot better than others. Which got me to thinking… does money buy you happiness (and security, longevity and style) when it comes to suitcases? (and for the record, yes I think it does!)

Here are the key things to look for when next making a luggage purchase.

1. Quality — we know baggage handlers don’t love your luggage as much as you do, so know it will take beating!
2. Transportability — a good set of wheels people, and a handle that won’t break
3. Airline Limits —  Don’t get something so heavy that it breaks all weight rules, and that’s before you have packed
4. Zippers – Make sure it’s a YKK made one or be ready for it not to last

Hard-sided or soft? A very personal choice, but hard-sided is certainly convincing more and more non-believers that it is better. Samsonite Winfield Expandable Spinner is one of the best (and lightest) but if you have the cash you can’t go past Rimowa cases. Tumi is as popular as ever, and they seem to excel at carry on bags. Victorinox are study (especially their soft bags) but they won’t be the lightest bag on the market.

The latest fads
Road Warrior - the suitcase collapses for easy storage to half its size. Perfect if you spend more time at home, than on the road.
Samsonite Compressor – zip free expander suitcase that customs fits to the amount you fit (and stops your clothes from moving about once packed)

Oh and losing your luggage just got a whole lot more expensive if you own one of these suitcases. Henk is one of the most expensive brands on the market with prices around $30,000 a piece. It has 500 separate parts, 22 of which move, and is made from Italian burl, black ebony, horse hair, aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, magnesium, parachute fabric and fine leathers. And the beauty is even when it’s fully packed it will only feel like you’re wheeling 25 grams.

So you may want to think twice before you check that in!


Being part of a significant birthday celebration today, made me think just how much longer is it until we can sit on the beach or relax in the mountains without a care in the world.

With all the financial uncertainty in the world, it is no surprise that retirement age is constantly rising. Even women don’t escape this trend – so no long lunches post tennis in the near future it seems.

Germany was the first country to introduce publicly sanctioned retirement in 1889 for workers over 70. It was meant to care for those in old age, and also to undermine a much more radical socialist movement that was brewing in the country. That initiative paved the way for many later social insurance programs, including Social Security in the U.S.

In the UK the average age at which people retire has risen from 63.8 years to 64.6 years for men and from 61.2 years to 62.3 years for women over the past 6 years.

A Gallop survey in the US has the average age of retirement at 67, up from 66 in 2011. A vast difference to the average in 1995 when people retired at 60. Only 6% of people think they will be able to retire before they are 55.

The US and Denmark have the largest percentage of people in the workforce aged 65 and over (25% and 12% respectively)

On opposite end of the scales are Mexicans retiring on average at 73 and the French much earlier at 58.7 years old.

If you retire in the Netherlands chances are you are going to end up living in a retirement home. A whopping 24% of adults over 65 in the Netherlands live in retirement homes, compared to just 6.6% in Australia, 2.3% in Canada, and 2.1% in the U.S.

And if you are a retired single female even worse news… for every 100 women in the world who are over 85, there are only 39 men. Sounds like a good time to start dating a younger man!!!


Thinking about going back to do some more study? A huge number of people have taken advantage of being “in between jobs” to do so – but maybe not as many as you think as most MBA programs reported a decrease in applications in 2011.

People still aren’t straying too far away from existing jobs though as MBA programs that have shown the greatest increase are – finance 83%, management 69% and just over 50% for accounting programs.

However where the students are coming from is changing – with a 46% increase in graduate programs from international applications (China and India topping the list of foreign applicants)

So where to study? This may be a good wish list –

MSc Econometrics and Mathematical Economics
London School of Economics
Acceptance rate: Less than 5%
Approx. Tuition: $30,500 a year.
Alumni: The school has 13 Nobel Prize winners among its former alumni and staff, and over 30 former or current heads of state or government.

Bachelor of Technology
Indian Institute of Technology
Acceptance rate: Less than 2% (approximately 5,500 admissions out of 300,000 applicants).
Approx. Tuition: $1,100 a year (including miscellaneous administrative expenses).
Alumni – R. Narayana Murthy (cofounder and chairman of Infosys); Rajat Gupta (former managing director of McKinsey & Company); Vinod Khosla (cofounder of Sun Microsystems).

Harvard Business School
Acceptance rate: 12%
Approx. Tuition: $39,600 per year plus many extra fees.
Alumni: Michael Bloomberg, George W. Bush

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Acceptance rate: 4%.
Tuition: $34,000.
Alumni: Peter Agre (winner of Nobel Prize in Chemistry), Richard Axel (winner of Nobel Prize in Medicine), Herbert Spencer Gasser (winner of Nobel Prize in Physiology), Haldan Keffer Hartline (winner of Nobel Prize in Medicine).


I am always surprised how hard it can be to book a hotel room when they constantly seem to be full… clearly I am in the wrong industry. Especially as there are an estimated 13.4 million of them in the world (Source STR Global Feb 2102)

So where are all these rooms?

North America accounts for 5.6 million hotel rooms – 41% of total rooms.
Europe comes in second place with 4 million rooms, or 29.7% of total rooms,
Asia in third place (but gaining fast) with 2.9 million or 21.6% of rooms

North America also ranks No. 1 when it comes to the percentage of hotel rooms (66%) marketed under well-known chain names such as Hilton, Marriott, Westin, and Hyatt.

But the cities that will set you back the most for staying a night (based on average nightly rate) are -

1. Moscow $422
2. Geneva $375
3. Zurich $340
4. Paris $321
5. Stockholm $310
6. Washington DC $306
7. Sydney $304
8. Istanbul $303
9. Oslo $298
10. New York $265


Zzzzzzzzz another boring powerpoint presentation. No doubt we would all rather stab ourselves in the eye with a pencil than have to suffer this fate again. Unfortunately the reality is we all suffer from having to look at them, and also present them.

Surely there must be a better way… or at least some help and inspiration to better refine them and make it more interesting for all parties concerned.

Here are a few top tips to think about when you are next pulling together your slides.

What are you going to address and does the audience care about it?

What is your role
Leader, Expert, Cheerleader?

Are they there because they want to be, or have to be and what will they learn?

Format of presentation
What story are you telling?
To make it more interesting please use multimedia, illustrations, photos etc, not just text, graphs or tables.
Stick to one idea per slide for biggest impact

Is it clear and concise, and are there any next steps?

And remember like anything with good taste…. Less is more!

Here are some great examples for inspiration –


I’m lucky, my commute to the office is easy. Either a 10 minute drive, or I have the option of catching the train which would cost me $1 and get me there in about the same amount of time (hey I am lazy, I choose driving!)

But some people don’t have that luxury and getting to work can be a right royal pain in the….

It seems it’s particularly so in New Delhi and Beijing where 95% of commuters say that roadway traffic on their commute has negatively affected their health.

The Commuter Pain Survey (by IBM) is based on 10 factors including commuting time, time stuck in traffic, and how traffic affects work – and the following countries come out the worse.
1. Mexico City
2. Shenzhen
3. Beijing
4. Nairobi
5. Johannesburg
6. Bangalore
7. New Delhi
8. Moscow

But if you live in Alaska, that won’t be a problem as more people walk to work there than any other U.S. state. And for the other states in the US, you can work out your commute time on the following site -

What about public transport I hear you say?

The cheapest public transport is –

Caracas, Venezuela (Metro, Bus=$0.12 – $0.28)
Cairo, Egypt (Metro=$0.17)
Delhi, India (Metro=$0.18 – $0.66)
La Paz, Bolivia (Bus=$0.19 – $0.50)

And the most expensive commute on public transport -

London, England (tube $6.43)
Oslo, Norway (tram, bus, metro, ferry $4.34)
Copenhagen, Denmark (metro, bus $4.20)
Zurich, Switzerland (bus, tram, train $4.08)

Based on an ‘average’ commute – driving your car to work can cost you up to 5 times more a week compared to taking public transport. But, it will also save you on average 6 hours a week in travel time… proving that time really is money!