5 Must See Movie Scenes for Sales People (Including Video)

The following five movie clips are not simply scenes that I like -they have been watched over and over again, forming part of my own private collection of motivational tools. Each one has a different place in my heart, but they are all absolute gold. Some of the content will not be suitable for kids, so viewer discretion is advised!

1. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) – Alec Baldwin Hosts a Sales Meeting:

The sales meeting is the space in which you either discuss the deals you are working on, or are reminded that you have more work to do. This has to be my favourite movie scene of all time. Alec Baldwin’s character delivers the best ‘get your ass in shape’ message I think the big screen has ever seen. What I love about this scene is the body language of the underperformers – they really are the victims. If you have worked in sales, you will have met guys just like them. What I also love about this scene is that the character that Al Pacino plays isn’t even present. Why? Well, he is out having dinner with a prospective client and closing business. By far the best line in Baldwin’s cameo is: “Put the coffee down! Coffee is for closers only!”

2. The Pursuit of Happiness (2006) – Booking the Meeting:

If you are in sales, then it’s a fair assumption that you have made many, many cold calls. It is hard graft, and you have to stay emotionally strong. This clip demonstrates just how hard you need to work, and how a bit of basic maths can show you how to get ahead. Some people may think that the ‘never put the phone down’ approach is maybe a little ‘old school’ and outdated, but I firmly believe that the only substitute for how good you are is how hard you work. When I watched this movie  for the first time, I actually made an audible cheering sound and looked around to see if others were as happy as me… clearly I was the only sales person in the theatre!

3. There Will Be Blood (2007) – I’m an Oil Man:

This is one of my favourite scenes, from one of my favourite movies. This is the scene where Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is introducing himself to a community of people who have oil on their land. He is clear about who he is, and the added value he can bring to his potential customers. What I also admire about this is the way he presents this value as a story, rather than a stuffy list of benefits and features. Of course, the movie reveals that his intentions were not all good, but nevertheless an amazing pitch!

4. The Wolf of Wall Street – Sales Motivation:

Everybody has had a terrible boss – and while Jordon Belfort could hardly be described as a scrupulously honest man, he was absolutely stellar at getting his troops ready for battle. This clip is a great one to watch first thing in the morning, to prepare yourself for a day of calls. Leonardo DiCaprio’s widely acclaimed character, Jordan, makes it abundantly clear that they will not be dialling themselves, and that the more effort you put in, the greater results you will see. I am not so sure about throwing a gold Rolex at your team though!

5. Tropic Thunder (2008) – The Tom Cruise Dance:
Okay, so this one is just a bit of fun. If you work in sales, you will undoubtedly know what it is like to get rejected. So on those occasions when things DO go your way, it’s time to celebrate! Tom Cruise is hilarious in this scene and portrays an amazing parody of a corporate head, who only cares about money and … flying in a G5!It’s a dog eat dog world out there, and I would love to hear about the movie scenes which inspire and motivate you. Please share some golden sales moments from the silver screen below!
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Jordan Belfort (Leonardo Dicaprio) in the Wolf of Wall Street

No Idea … No Problem!

One of the biggest reasons I hear for people not becoming an entrepreneur is that they simply don’t have an idea. Well, I am here to tell you that this is not a problem at all. In fact, this is probably a good thing. Here is why…

Firstly, if you have a totally new idea, then part of your challenge will be getting people to see why it is a good idea. This is a lot harder than you think and requires lots of time and money. In most cases, entrepreneurs don’t have spare money, let alone time. So why not just copy someone else? After all, did Richard Branson create aviation? Did Conrad Hilton create the concept of hotels?

When I created E-Tale, I took something that had been around for a while and approached it from a new angle and produced a better product. I provided a better service to the customers and made it easier for customers to join. This approach resonated with the wider market and ultimately lead us to become a market leader in our field within a pretty short period (around five years).

Here are a few ways you can take an existing idea and make it your own.

Apply a fresh business model
In recent years, we have even seen Microsoft promote new business models for things like Microsoft Office. What used to be a CD purchased from a local computer store, is now a subscription that will ensure you always have the latest version as well as some cloud storage for your precious documents.

So take a look at some of the market leaders in your chosen sector and see if you can change they way people buy (make it easier). Remember things that only ten years ago were complicated and require deep integration, could probably be made much more user-friendly and operated from the cloud.

Provide Better features:
‘The bigger the ship, the longer it takes to turn’. This is VERY true; you should burn this belief into the centre of your brain. There may be huge, well-funded companies leading your industry, but the chances are they are not able to act quickly to customer needs. This is for the simple reason that the bigger your product, the harder it is to add new features.

This presents an opportunity for you. By asking a few potential client ‘what they really want’ you will be able to make a new product that could actually outflank the big guys. Look at things like ‘Xero’ the online accountancy package! Do you think Sage were worried when they got started… probably not. But Xero now has over 100,000 paying customers, not a small chunk of change.

Create a Better Sales Model:
This is a simple one, but in the real word most companies are pretty bad at sales. So if you are good at sales, and you have an almost identical product to another company, you will win.

You may be competing with a company with a huge sales force, and that may seem scary. However, trust me that your lower cost model and highly focused small sales team can be just as scary to them. When we sold E-Tale we had two sales people, and I was one of them. However, we took on many contracts from much larger and well-funded businesses.

So if you don’t have an idea, just open your eyes and look around. A good place to start is the exhibitor list of the most recent conference in your chosen sector. Take a look at their websites, speak to prospects and find out what you can do to make the product even better.

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Managing a Team Through an Acquisition

I wanted to write this week about a topic that is pretty much always in the forefront of my mind, and that is my team. While this is going to sound like a total cliché, it is true that you are only as good as your team. If one member is underperforming, then you are underperforming. This is especially true when you are selling your business!

When beginning the process of selling your company, one thing that should not be missed is aligning your team to the desire of the exiting. It goes without saying that your potential buyer will need to feel confident that things are not going to crumble when they become the new owner.

I have seen a number of people sell their companies and within 12 months everything has fallen to pieces! A very common reason for this is that the leadership team lose faith. The reality is that they are now part of a bigger entity, and they have just seen ‘the owners cash out’. So it’s not unreasonable that they will feel somewhat disheartened.  Well, luckily for you, this does not need to be the case. In fact, it is very possible to create an environment that will ensure everyone is not only aligned for the sale, but remain used for years ‘Post Sale’.

Let’s start with sharing the love (Shares)! Giving away shares is very complicated. If you decide just to give shares away to anyone who works for you, you will be in for a big surprise. Owning shares comes with lots of different rights and these rights don’t end with employment. So, if you decide to give a percentage of your company’s shares to someone, they will own these until the end of time. This is not a great methodology to motivate staff as your headcount will change, and if you can’t claim the shares back, you won’t have many left after a few years. So what is the solution?

In the UK, you can use what is called an EMI scheme. This essentially grants key staff a certain amount of shares. Then at the point the company is sold, they can realise the value. If they leave before this happens, then they cannot claim access to the shares. This means only the guys at the finish line get the medals!

Also, they are only required to pay tax based on the share price at the point the shares were granted. So if they work for five years and the shares become worth millions, they will only pay tax on the value of the shares when they received them. If the shares are granted when the company is new, or not making profit, I suggest applying to HMRC to get a certificate to confirm they are worth nothing. This will prevent a potentially ugly tax debate later on.

Read about EMI schemes at the HMRC website by clicking here

This may all sound great, but these shares need to make enough money to motivate the team to share your desired outcome. This means some frank discussions need to take place. Start by agreeing on what the expected valuation is and make sure the shares ‘Make Sense’. If your Sales Director made 100K in his last year and he has 1% of the shares. Then you decide to sell for 1m. They will make 10k! Hardly enough to make him motivated to sell. In fact this is more likely to demotivate them.

As a rule of thumb, I would be aiming to achieve two years of salary as a payout. This amount will always be life changing and motivate that individual to help the company sale go through. Also, keep in mind that if they qualify, they are likely to only pay 10% tax under entrepreneur’s tax relief. In summary, agree on a compelling percentage and the price you are willing to sell for.

Read about entrepreneurs tax relief on the GOV UK website by clicking here

One of the key reasons you need your teams alignment throughout the sale process is how intense DD is likely to be. Unless you are and have been an absolute saint, you are going to need to locate important documents, answer difficult question and attend meeting with your potential buyers. This will be very tough if your team would rather you didn’t sell!

Presuming that all goes well, what about once the company has been sold? In Addition to your team’s normal compensation plan, the ideal situation is to have some kind of performance based bonus structure. Typically, this will be linked to the post sale financial targets. Again, this figure needs to be compelling and ensure that the team will not leave when they are tempted away. Remember that once you sell, this will become public information and your team will be hot property. Headhunters from near and far will be approaching them, and it’s likely they will be able to command a premium now that have been part of a successful acquisition.

In addition, they will have just been given a fair sum of money. This means they are also prime candidates to leave and set up their own businesses, and this presents a huge risk to you.

My guess is that your team are a critical part of your success, so if you plan to continue that success into the acquisition, you will need them by your side.

It is also a good idea to dedicate time to speak with your team post sale on a regular basis to discuss how happy they are and how they feel the integration is going. I know that our team remain extremely tight and communicate almost daily.

Finally, I have learned that life is about sharing success. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing a loyal team buying their new houses, new cars or even just going on a well deserved break. These type of life changing events are what make it all worthwhile. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, think about any future teams that you will want to build. A history of helping others is far more likely to encourage others to join you on your journey, than a track record of only looking after number one!

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My Top 5.5 Influencers

1. Tony Robbins:

Tony is my top influencer. For those who need some background information on him, he is a motivational speaker, life coach, self-help author and personal finance instructor. He’s most well-known for his self-help books: ‘Unlimited power’, ‘Unleash the power within’ and ‘Awaken the giant within’. Tony’s success skyrocketed in 2007; he has been listed in the ‘Celebrity 100’ list in Forbes magazine. Forbes estimated he had earnt $30 million USD in that year alone, his talk on TED is one of the most popular ever. One of the reasons Tony is my top influencer is because of his work ethic and background. Tony never attended college and didn’t have a stable home life. Despite all of this Tony took on menial jobs, before eventually realising he had a talent for promoting others, before beginning his journey as a self-help coach. Tony is also a great philanthropist, donating numerous amounts of money to charity over the last few years, which makes him an admirable inspiration.

2. Felix Dennis:

Felix, unfortunately, died in 2014, I wish I could have met him and learnt more from him. I first was influenced by him when I read his book ‘How to get rich’, his writing style alone is in incredible, but the advice he gives is invaluable. Felix was most well known for his writing – a respected philanthropist, poet and publisher, owning publishing offices in New York and London. The reason I respect Felix the most is because of the honest insights he always gave on his life and his work in his books, including revealing his struggle with drug addiction. He was also the first person to say the C word on British television! Felix amassed most of his wealth from selling his mail order company which went public on NASDAQ in 1992.

3 & 4. Bill Caskey and Bryan Neale:

Bill and Bryan host a podcast together called the ‘Advanced selling podcast’. What I like about them is they give their time to others by listening and giving advice, but this has also led to business opportunities for them and they have managed to monetize on their podcast. Bills background involves a period in sales, before moving onto broadcasting, he often speaks about the importance of education – you can see this on his LinkedIn.

Bryan also has a background in sales, he now works in training and coaching sales people. He has a passion for keynote speaking and public speaking, which is why he probably joined up with Bill for the podcast.

5. Richard Branson:

Probably a very generic answer, but he is a very inspirational man and now one of the richest men on the planet. Richard is best known for being a British businessman and investor, and the founder of the ‘Virgin’ group. According to Forbes, Richard is now worth $4.9 billion, not bad for a guy who started out at 16 on a magazine venture called ‘Student’! His record business began with a mail-order company in 1970, expanding to stores in 1972, with the most growth seen in the 80’s period. He went on to expand the business in various areas such as aviation, mobile and the internet. The rest is history! Richard is also a philanthropist and a fun-loving world record breaker! The reason I respect Richard is because he worked hard for his success, he didn’t have great academic results and struggled as he had dyslexia. I think his biggest spur on came from his headmaster when he told him he would either ‘end up in prison or become a millionaire’.

5.5: Bradley Keenan:

Lastly myself, Bradley Keenan. You won’t achieve your dreams unless you inspire yourself, you are your biggest influence. Of course, all the previous people I have listed are massive inspirations and mentors to a lot of people, but sometimes you know what is best for you. You can only give yourself the best advice.

Would love to hear who inspires or influences you the most, please leave a comment!

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Will Cloud Technology Really Save Me Time and Money?

For businesses and individuals needing immediate file sharing and storing spaces, the Cloud becomes ideal, however people find themselves paying extortionate prices to file sharing companies to provide this service for them.

But are you aware of other Cloud services? For example, ‘Dropbox’ could replace a file server quite easily and will have access to a number of employees and can store a large amount of files, in forms of photos, videos and smaller text files. This Cloud service can also be accessed anywhere at anytime on any device, with no restrictions being placed on the service, this saves both time and money.

However, when considering the Cloud service you use you need to consider the ideals of your environment, for example if you work in a graphics agency with large files, ‘Dropbox’ is not the service for you as it won’t be able to provide what you need.

The ideal services graphics agencies may want to use will be Cloud services such as: ‘Morpholio’ which provides a space for you to put your work to present to clients, it is also free. Another Cloud service to consider is: ‘Slideshare’ whilst the majority of the service is free, some features are subscription only, but it’s a great space for putting Powerpoint’s onto that showcase work.

I think it’s really about looking around first, draw up a list of all the available Cloud services, a few off the top of my head that are free are: ‘Dropbox’, ‘Office365’ and ‘box.com‘. To share documents a shared ‘Google Documents’ space is always a great idea too. Then rate them from good to bad and see what they can offer your business and how it will benefit you and your employees.

Whilst on the subject of the Cloud, I think an important subject everyone always misses is how productive the service can be for you, try to find an app that will sync with the Cloud service you use. This will save a lot of time as all the information is in one place. These apps allow you to assign tasks, assignments and highlight special dates on your calendar to remember – for example the big bosses birthday! I have found Google Calendar is a fantastic (and free) service which allows multiple employees to view and edit one calendar, whilst still seeing their tasks for the day.

When you’re thinking about using a Cloud service, don’t just consider one service, consider multiple services. Seeing as all these services are free anyway, you may as well take advantage of them all, just remember to keep your employees informed so they know where to go to access all the information!

If you saw my blog post last week, you’ll see I spoke about Cloud security, this is still an issue you need to consider when thinking of using a Cloud service. The main things to consider is that you have a security package for all devices used. This a simple security precaution that I would recommend to everyone, run a security system check every now and again and make sure everything is password protected. I would also suggest changing this password regularly too, if an employee leaves they will still have access to the Cloud if you do not change it!

So the Cloud can definitely save you money, sometimes time is debatable but I think with any file sharing software you will need to consider monitoring and updating it anyway.  Time will always be a factor, however the Cloud is very convenient to have everything in one place and easily accessible from anywhere at anytime, by any granted access person, on any device!

Would like to hear your thoughts on if you’ve used a Cloud service or file sharing software and if they’ve benefited you in any way, leave a comment!

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BYOD to work!

Apologies first if you read that as BYOB (bring your own booze) to work, we haven’t quite reached those liberal standards in the technology world…

BYOD stands for: Bring Your Own Device. This allows greater freedom to employees to choose their own gadget for their workplace. Research shows that it helps them to be more productive and also saves cost of employers.

Now unfortunately, I don’t think this quite extends to a robot doing your work for you or a really cool strobe light, I think practical gadgets is what they are thinking of here. Employees can pick their own laptops/computer as there is the big debate over Microsoft VS. Apple or maybe they work better on a tablet and they may decide to bring that in instead!

I think this topic will divide people, employers especially, whilst it does save costs all work will have to be stored in online spaces such as the Cloud, which means definitely upping the security measures just incase anybody decides to hack the database or share confidential information.

Also, how will you monitor what your employees are doing whilst at work? They could be surfing Facebook, Twitter or even swiping away on Tinder for hours on end, as there is no monitoring service in place.

I think some employees also like to keep their personal devices separate to their work devices and wouldn’t like to mix the two, keeping work separate from home life.

Whilst I like the idea, I’m not sure how practical this would be? Has anybody had their boss suggest this to them and has it worked?

Would love to hear others thoughts about this, so please feel free to leave a comment…

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How safe is Software-as-a-service? My thoughts…

It seems that every five minutes I hear the words SaaS (Software as a Service), almost like its some kind of new phenomenon to sweep the business world. I think what has made it become more of a buzz word, is that many of the bigger software players like Microsoft and Adobe now offer many of their products on a subscription model.

Hosting software in the cloud and making it accessible to clients via web browsers is a great service. Whilst this sounds incredible and very handy for business, nobody seems to have questioned the safety of it?

When we started E-Tale, security was a top priority as we were handling data for so many tier 1 brands. However, for the general consumer, it sometimes seems that this is swept under the carpet.

Only last week there was panic over WhatsApp security after the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) rated WhatsApp the worst for security out of 24 companies, receiving only one star in it’s fifth annual report: ‘Who Has Your Back report’.

It’s not just WhatsApp, Facebook get scrutinised everyday for its sharing information policies, which are deemed equally as bad. The truth is all cloud storage presents a security risk.  You only have to look at the hacks with Ebay, LinkedIn and Sony to realise that the risk is very real.

Sony for example: Hackers obtained over 100 terabytes of data ranging from employee passwords and credit card details to medical histories and executive salary details, including loss of revenue from leaked future films. Ebay suffered just as bad with hackers stealing personal details including: Addresses, phone number and dates of birth belonging to all 145 million customers were stolen.

Even if you’re software has been scientifically tested, there are numerous security threats you need to be able to identify and deal with if a security crisis was to arise, we only need to look at the Cloud scandal a few years ago where celebrity photos were leaked – these crises never end well!

With this all in mind, I thought I would share my top tips for both consumers and startups when handling sensitive data. I have broken this down into tips for the end user, and tips for the company making the software.

My top tips for the SaaS user:

  • Minimise what personal information you share, for example, is it essential that you give permission to third parties to use your contact information? No, of course not. Be vigilant about what you’re sharing, give as little information about yourself as possible. Any service you sign up to, make sure you take down the contact details so incase of emergency you can cancel your account.

  • Change your password periodically, any subscription should be telling you the importance of changing your password anyway. If you’re using name and numbers in your password e.g. ‘Wife2015’ and this password gets leaked, it is normal for hackers to assume this password is used across all your social networks too, so try not to use the same password! Whilst you’re changing passwords, you might as well backup your data just to ensure if it’s ever lost you can claim it back from somewhere.

  • Think about your past internet history, remember that subscription service you signed up to 5 years ago that you now don’t use? They’re still storing your credit card information. If you’re no longer using services or accounts on specific websites, the best advice I can give is delete your profiles on all of them. It’s the safest option and you’ll thank me later for it!

  • Once you’ve looked at your past internet history, you will come across some services and accounts you need to keep, however you should prioritise which of these NEED your data, you might also want to think about updating the passwords and setting reminders to change them often as well. After all, if someone hacked you, it could go as far as stealing your identity without you even knowing it’s happened. Create stronger passwords, harder security questions and try to get your mobile or e-mail linked to these accounts so you can be aware if anyone has tried to gain access to your account.

  • ALWAYS read the small print. We have all skipped through those pesky terms and conditions when signing up for things, just happily clicking the ‘accept’ button. When signing up for a subscription online,  my biggest tip is to read the fine print, you don’t want to be signing up for more than you bargained for and you should also check that your computer security software is running correctly so it can minimise threats further.

My top tips for start-ups providing SaaS: (This is where it gets a bit more technical…)

  • Be clear on your privacy policy. What data do you store and why? Where is it stored? If in Europe state that?  If the service is based in the UK for example, register the service with the ICO.org (Information Commissioner) and reference this within the policy. This will give the consumer clear evidence and confidence that you have considered the governance of their data.

  • Secure the communication between consumer and service – really simple, use SSL certificates for the service to secure the information in-transit between the consumer and your service.  The SSL certificate will also confirm the service end-point is valid and belongs to your organisation.

  • Ensure the development team understand the concepts of holding customer data. I know a company that was hacked and held to a 24 hour ransom because a developer left the company’s root amazon authentication keys in a script that they then submitted to open-source to help other developers. A case where developers are trying to innovate and a simple slip exposes the entire solution to a threat. The developer was mortified when the CIO received the ransom.

  • A simple tip but most users will be accessing the software from a public computer, set up a reminder for them to log out if they try to leave the page and shut down the browser. Use a cache control to ensure this process works efficiently, whilst it may annoy users, it’s the safest option. Also consider setting up an autocomplete attribute for the login form that controls a computer’s cookie lifetime, there is a checkbox which asks about storing passwords, if you set this to ‘off’ on public computers, users aren’t at risk of saving their passwords publicly allowing anybody access.

  • If your users are using private computers then I would recommend a saved password format, just because users often pick difficult passwords with lots of numbers or hard to spell words. It will also sound alarm bells for your consumer if they’re ever prompted to enter their password, if it’s already saved then there should be no need and they can differentiate the real site from a scam phishing site!

  • Be weary of Javascript files! Don’t put any private user data or restricted access files in the Javascript files, surprisingly the URL’s can be guessed very easily and data will be exposed. HTML files containing scripts need to be uploaded through hidden iframes rather than naked scripts, it’s the same principle if you don’t trust a site don’t load it in a frame. And if you use Internet Explorer? Don’t use frames at all.

  • Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) is when a malicious site can cause a visitor’s browser to make a request to your server which will potentially change it. These requests can range from logging the visitor out, writing comments from the visitors account and changing their preferences, which means gaining access to their credit card information too! These attacks usually happen through Javascript so ensure your software is safe from these sort of attacks!

  • Lastly, cross-site scripting (XSS) is when an attacker can inject scripts into a page sent by your server. If a malicious site links to a URL on your software, it can do multiple things: steal cookies from that site, steal passwords, see users data and ultimately let the hacker control the user’s account. My best advice would be to not let Javascript or similar services allowed in user-submitted HTML and specify the character set of every page, so hackers have a harder job of trying to determine the character set.

I hope these tips have helped, would love to hear others thoughts on the subject!

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5.5 Tips for Startup Success!

#1. Pay a fair price: Some people say watch the pennies and the pounds look after themselves. Whilst I agree that monitoring business expenses is important, I don’t believe that pushing suppliers into the ground is in your best interest. Not only could you use this negotiation time to meet new clients and make more money, you should also want your suppliers to be successful.

#2. Define success: Everybody talks about success like they know what ‘success’ is. I am always looking to align myself with suppliers, clients, staff and business partners so we all share the same vision of success. I hear many people talk about a: ‘Successful Exit’, but when I ask what this is, they say something very generic like “Errr I don’t know… Maybe 1-5 million in value”. What is even more alarming is when you ask their business partner and they have a completely different number. Defining success, will mean you are really able to focus on the goal of making everyone successful.

#3. Be as accountable for failure as you would be for success: I truly believe that you can’t accept the credit, if you won’t accept the blame. I see this so much in sales people. When we win a deal we say it was because of our strategy and how well we presented, but when we lose the deal we say it was due to market conditions, the time of the year or anything else that shifts the attention away from us. Just say “I lost the deal and it’s my fault”. This may be due to the market conditions, but it admits that you didn’t take that into account when making your proposal.

#4. Don’t always be looking to make ‘a cut’. As you progress through your business life, there will be opportunities to make ‘a cut’ here and there. This could be that a client needs design services and you have a friend you could sub-contract it out to. Unless you are a design agency, then just pass on the lead and introduce two people who can do business together. Focus on what you do and you will make money. Spend your life looking to skim others and it’s likely you will lose focus.

#5. Maintain integrity: In order for long term success, you need to play the long game. Without building credibility and integrity, you will struggle to see long term success. People need to remember that you were the person who did what they said they would do, and not the person who just said yes in order to ‘get the business’. A huge amount of the business I have done over the years is from recommendation. People won’t recommend people easily as they won’t want things to come back on then if things don’t work out.

#5.5. Get a cat: There will be times where you just need someone to listen without them giving an opinion. Cats are best for this in my experience!

This is Sebastian, my rescue cat, who I do often talk to!

This is Sebastian, my rescue cat, who I do often talk to!