David Parkin on being a retiring individual

IT was only a matter of time.

Bodybuilding legend, huge Hollywood film star and former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger acknowledging the man who made him what he is today.

I’m indebted to Huddersfield entrepreneur Andy Needham (who, like Arnold, is an imposing man of sculpted physique) for sending over the image above.

Actually it’s not me he (Arnie, not Andy) credits, but the Leeds-born bodybuilder and former Mr Universe Reg Park who was an early inspiration for Arnie and a lifelong mentor.

In London this week to promote his new motivational book ‘Be Useful: Seven Tools For Life’ and to appear in front of an audience at the Royal Albert Hall, Schwarzenegger was quick to credit those he puts all his success down to.

To be honest I wouldn’t expect or want any credit from The Terminator for his phenomenal global success, I’m a modest individual who flies under the radar.

Have you heard my Arnold Schwarzenegger story?

You haven’t?

You must be one of the very few.

Now sit down and I’ll begin…


AN enjoyable and rewarding experience over the last 12 months has been playing a role in Fresh Thinking Network.

Launched by Leeds-based funding and advisory business Fresh Thinking Capital, the programme was created to help develop and support the present and future leaders in the city’s professional services market.

Sponsored and supported by a host of blue chip professional services firms, the events have been so much more than networking opportunities – bringing inspiring and experienced speakers to an audience of ambitious young professionals.

As well as compering the events I’ve also suggested many of the speakers at who have ranged from outstanding and inspiring individuals from sport, mountaineering and sailing and also many successful entrepreneurs and advisers.

What members of the first cohort of the programme told me was that they learned something from all the speakers.

Jamie Jones-Buchanan has achieved so much in rugby league and Dave Bunting is one of the world’s leading mountaineers and both gave inspiring presentations.

But young professionals also told me that they gleaned great advice from business people.

Dealmaker Chris Silverwood sitting – pint in hand – explaining the art of building relationships and networking in business.

Insolvency expert Howard Smith of Interpath Advisory describing what drives him in business and that you are only as good as your strongest relationships.

Mel Hird and Andrew Walls of Fresh Thinking Capital held an event to celebrate the end of the first Fresh Thinking Network programme recently at The Terrace in Wellington Place, Leeds and it was lovely to chat to members to find out what they had taken from it.

It was strange to go to an event where I wasn’t taking the microphone or hosting guests but it gave a chance to meet some new contacts and reflect on the success of the last 12 months thanks to the work of Mel, Andrew and their colleagues Rory Dolan and Marie Nicholl and the impressive emerging talents, Fresh Thinking Capital managers Niall Conlon and Andrew Robertson who developed the Network idea.

The success of the first programme has ensured that the Fresh Thinking Network will return next year and I’m looking forward to playing my part in this unique initiative.


I’M reliably informed (by the Daily Mirror) that a study conducted by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University has found that the artificial intelligence platform ChatGPT can predict future Bank of England interest rate decisions.

The AI ‘chatbot’ apparently analysed speeches made by members of the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee between 1997 and June this year and correctly predicted the outcome of these decisions 32% of the time.

Given that our central bank policy wonks can only make one of three choices on interest rates each month – hold, raise or lower – I don’t think AI making predictions that are only right a third of the time is exactly revolutionary.

The researchers categorised each speech as ‘dovish’, ‘neutral’, or ‘hawkish’ and found that Committee members who gave more neutral speeches were more likely to vote for interest rate hikes.

By adding additional details, such as the member’s tenure, previous votes, and employment status, the program could predict how each member was likely to vote at future policy meetings.

According to the Daily Mirror report: “The researchers believe such AI tools have the potential to empower people and become everyday tools for financial decision making.”

I’m not so sure.

But I can see one area where artificial intelligence could come in useful at the Bank of England.

Perhaps they can replace the bank’s Governor, Andrew Bailey, with a chatbot.

It might provide the personality and empathy with the financial challenges faced by working people that he clearly lacks.


APOLOGIES for the lack of a blog last week.

I don’t know what I’m apologising for, nobody seemed to notice.

I did plan to write one but was away in Scotland staying in a wooden cabin on the banks of a loch.

As we planned our return to Yorkshire last Friday morning I thought we would be running from the eye of Storm Babet.

That hit the North East of Scotland much harder then where we were in the central belt of the country and so other than gusty wind and heavy rain, we escaped the worst of it.

As the rain pounded down, I braved a dip in the loch and then defrosted my extremities in an outdoor wood-fired hot tub.

Here’s a photograph to prove it.

I know what it reminds you of.

A young Daniel Craig as James Bond.

Well don’t take a vote on it.


TWO items in the post this week caught my attention.

An envelope bearing my name asked if I would like free bus travel for life.

I opened it to discover that the bus company First Group thinks I’m of retirement age and now qualify to board its vehicles gratis for the rest of my life.

And then another letter in the mail offered me the chance to be shown around the properties in a new retirement village being developed near where I live in Leeds.

It is easy to become paranoid when faced with not one but two examples of organisations which think that I’m ready to hang up my beautifully tailored Michelsberg suit and swap it for a pipe, slippers and smoking jacket.

That prospect, given my age, is miles away and so I put it down to inaccurate data being used by the marketing departments of these companies.

But then my mother recently went on a charabanc trip to Beverley Minster and returned with a gift for me.

It was a pair of ‘bamboo’ socks bearing the slogan: “Relaxed, inspired, feet up, retired.”

It doesn’t bode well for what she’s going to buy me for Christmas.

Mind you, I’ll probably be retired by then.

Have a great weekend.

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