Richard Branson Think Big Wallpaper

James Preston 1 8:25 AM
(The picture was updated at 1:25pm - 24 May)

I don't normally do this, in fact I think it's my first one...  but I made the wallpaper for my own computer and thought "why not share it with anyone interested?"  The beauty of the internet and it's endless possibilities.  (And they really are endless).

I have become incredibly inspired over the last 6 months by some of the world's top Entrepreneurs.  As a pastor and (self-proclaimed) fairly innovative church leader and thinker, I am always thinking about new ideas and new ways to inspire and change the world around us.  And I have found one of the most influential places to do that is in the marketplace.  It is in the marketplace that the great ideas of the world are permeated.

And so in my recent interest in influencing the marketplace, I have become deeply inspired by some of the world's top Entrepreneurs.  I love their passion, their big-thinking vision, their desire.  They are qualities I share and believe all Christians should have.  These top entrepreneurs have something that we can learn from.

One of my favourites (like so many other people) among these inspiring men and women is Sir Richard Branson.  His story is inspiring on so many levels.  I bought his book "Screw it let's do it" for my brother in law for Christmas 2011.  I skimmed through the first few pages and wanted to read the whole thing, so I bought myself a copy!  It has revolutionised the way I see opportunity.

And so, this morning I had this idea that I need to remain inspired in my pursuit of influencing the world.  And a great way to do that is with a desktop wallpaper.  So I found this great picture of Richard Branson with one of my favourite animals, the African Cheetah.  Perfect.  (You can find the original here if you would like to make your own).  I added one of my favourite quotes from him at the bottom, and the two biggest attributes I believe entrepreneurs and leaders (and anyone for that matter) should strive for; big thinking and never giving up!

Excuse the poor "drop shadow" effect.  I also flipped the image horizontally to fit my desktop better, and Branson's face doesn't seem to look right that way, but oh well!  It really is just a quick put-together for my desktop, not major world-shaking design.  A put-together I thought you may enjoy.  Here it is...

You will have to click on the image to see it in full size.

Until next time, enjoy.  And remember, think big and never give up!

The History of Manchester United and why I Love Seeing Them Beaten

James Preston Reply 11:03 AM
For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you will notice there are a few hours every week where my Twitter explodes with sporting comments.  I absolutely love sport.  I wouldn't say I am sport crazy, as I don't watch every single game of every single tournament.  I watch the important games when I can, and outside of that keep up to date with sports websites.

Being English, Soccer is one of obviously one of the sports I love.  (For a great history lesson on the origins of the word "soccer" read this: ).  Having started life out in the "small island" of the United Kingdom and being raised by a former soccer player, I have followed the English soccer scene pretty closely for pretty much my entire life.  In my early years, way back in the 80's, the dominant teams in England varied far more than they do today.  Liverpool, Everton, Aston Villa, Arsenal, Nottingham Forest, Tottenham, Norwich, Manchester United, Leeds United and Blackburn all jostled for the top 5 for a number of years.  And then the game entered an entirely new professional era.

By the mid 70's, soccer was fully professional, players were paid full-time.  But their salaries were nothing compared to what they are now.  The globalisation of the game turned everything around, and when the Premiere League was created in the mid 90's, everything changed.  The top 20 clubs of the English Top Division broke away from the "Football League" to create the "Premiere League" as part of a massive TV rights deal.  The game went global on a massive scale.

By then, Alex Ferguson had turned Manchester United around.  They were on the verge of relegation.  Yes, United fans, in 1986, Manchester United were almost relegated.  Manchester United turned to fairly new but exciting manager Alex Ferguson.  He was worth every penny they paid for him.  That year he turned things around and got them safely through the season finishing in 11th.  The following year he took them to 2nd, completely turning things around.  Although the next two seasons were tough as he finished 11th and 13th respectively, but Manchester United kept their faith in Alex.  1991 he got them back up to 6th, and by 1992 2nd again.  The reconstruction of a once top team was well underway.

Manchester United won their first League Title in 26 years in the 1992/1993 season.  Yes, 26 years.  Before 1967, Manchester United had only won 6 League Titles.  A far cry from their current tally of 19.

They won the Title the following year, and surrendered it to Allan Shearer's Blackburn Rovers in 1995.  But after that, it has been all Manchester United.

But here's why I love to see them beaten...  They have the largest Soccer fan-base in the world.  But that was before 1993.  In 1993 the newly formulated Premier League was beamed to more viewers than ever before.  TV audiences everywhere sat up and took new interest in soccer.  Manchester United won the first 2 titles, and 7 in the first 10 years of the Premiere League.  TV Audiences everywhere were mesmerised by the style of soccer Alex Ferguson had introduced to Manchester United, and their star studded line-up.  They took Manchester United on as "their" team.

The money circle was now in full swing.  The winners of the Premier League naturally were given handsom sums of money.  This gave them more to spend on development and players.  This gave them more chance of success.  This success increase their worldwide fanbase.  Replica Shirts and other branded apparel sales went through the roof.  This further increased revenue which meant better players, development, training systems, which meant more success, and the cycle continued.  And continues to this day.

By the early 2000's, the modern era of soccer was in full swing, and the competitive rivalry that made the League so exciting was almost completely gone.  The UEFA Champion's League was now the most exciting competition to watch for pure competitiveness (due to its knock-out nature).

This modern era of soccer is completely unjust and top heavy.  Due to the way the money changes hands and how money talks, the mid-table clubs were without much of an answer.  Besides the few already top sides like Liverpool and Arsenal, there was little hope for anyone else.  By now, my love for seeing Manchester United beaten was entrenched.

Due to this unfair, capitalist system, the only way for their monopoly to be broken was for rivals to be injected with obscene amounts of money.  Chelsea were the first.  Manchester City have recently followed suit.  Liverpool are in desperate need of such an investment.  As are anyone else who wishes to become seriously competitive in this League.

Don't get me wrong.  Manchester United is a glorious club.  And Sir Alex Ferguson is by far the greatest manager to ever grace the game.  Give credit where credit is due.

But what I cannot stand is the majority of supporters who think that Manchester United have always ruled the English Soccer scene.  Now, hear me, I am generalising here, I realise that.  There are a few genuine supporters who have always supported Manchester United due to their rich history (which agreed they do have), but I am talking about the majority of international supporters (I now live in South Africa) who have become devout supporters for the sole reason that "their" team kept on winning.  It is for these supporter's sakes that seeing Manchester United beaten is actually quite important.  These supporters need to feel what it is like to be average, and a little more regularly.  Sure, this is at the expense of the genuine supporters, but genuine supporters wouldn't mind because they should support through thick and thin, like any genuine supporters of other less glorified teams.

People think that the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City are only buying success.  But this is a weak argument.  Manchester United were in the right place at the right time and in their own right bought their success as well.  Due to their now overwhelming monopoly, the only way to break their stranglehold on English Soccer is with more money.  It is good for the game.  It is good for the development of more players internationally.  It is imperative that the competition in the League remains stiff.

The more teams we see getting bought out by sickenly rich billionaires the better for the game in general.  Is it right?  Of course it's not.  But neither was what happened to the English Football League First Division in 1992.  When the English Football League became the English Premier League in 1992, everything changed.  And now all the Manchester United supporters moaning about other teams "buying success" need to embrace this change for once.

This, in a nutshell, is why I love to see Manchester United beaten, especially in English Soccer.

Now go on Manchester City, change the face of English Soccer, please!  Thank you Vincent Kompany for what you did last night!  :-)

Manchester City Captain Vincent Kompany scores the only goal in the most important Manchester Derby in over 50 years, giving City the edge in the Title Race for 2012.

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