Friday, October 23, 2009

Fraud Alert

It can happen to anyone. I just got one of those emails that is “phishing” for information. It looked like it really came from my bank and when I clicked on the link it took me to a page that looked like the home page for my bank. Whooa! Never, never, never, click on the link from a mysterious email, or any other account, even if it looks real, unless you have contacted the account yourself. These perpitrators are trying to steal you identity. Immediately go directly to the account in question to check on your status. Type in the address that you have on file; DO NOT use the link in the email; this tells the bad guys that you are vulnerable.
While you are in your account contact the fraud division. They may want you to forward the email to them. Banks and other companies take this kind of fraud very seriously. They work closely with law enforcement to find the bad people who are causing so many problems for people; especially those who aren’t aware of this type of fraud. This kind of identity theft can cause you years of hassles, lost credibility and huge amounts of money to repair.
It is a shame that we can't trust our fellow man, but unfortunately there are too many of these frauds happening to not be aware so you can protect yourself

Friday, October 16, 2009


I was just having a discussion with my Dad about why people don’t return social obligations. How many times have you taken friends to dinner before they think to ask you out in return? Do you keep inviting them? This lead to the conclusion that they just don’t know any better; they were never taught manners.
The conversation continued with a look at why people don’t RSVP a mailed invitation. "Répondez s'il vous plaît", which is a French term that means “please respond”, is added to invitations for a reason. It is very frustrating to create a wonderful party and not know how many people will show up. This is an especially special nuisance when you are paying a caterer for each meal. I think it is common courtesy to let your hostess know if you will be able to attend. That brings us to “what is common courtesy”?
Emily Post was America’s foremost authority on manners and graciousness in both your personal life and business. Her contention is that if you abide by the Golden Rule you will enjoy a more comfortable and successful life. That means responding to invitations when asked and considering the value of the friendship when playing the “who owes what” game.
These practices also apply to your business life. Return calls promptly, do what you say you will, remember thank you notes and generally treat you associates as well as you do your friends.
Your life will become a more positive place; a place where it is fun to hang out and has plenty of rewards to offer.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Serendipity is the good fortune of making pleasant discoveries by accident. I just had one of those wonderful moments this afternoon. I had chosen new paint colors for my Beach house by the way the looked to my eye. I knew just what look I wanted. Then today as I was describing the colors to a friend I discovered that I had chosen colors that all had environment related names; the grey is called Cumberland Fog, the purple is Blackberry Harvest, and the white is Snow Fall. All three represent, to me, the great outdoors which is definitely the flavor of the neighborhood where my house is. People there definitely spend more time outside than in.
Have you ever picked out a new treasure at the store and then found out that it was the item on sale? That’s serendipity. Isn’t it fun? Pleasant surprises like that are what add smiles to our lives. They are what keep us looking at the sunny side of life.
Serendipity doesn’t happen entirely by accident. It happens when people are positive and open to new opportunities. Looking down all the time will only yield a few pennies and a lot of used gum, but looking up will offer a world of possibilities. Keeping a positive outlook allows good thing to happen, being negative limits your chances for serendipity. Wouldn’t you prefer to have life’s little surprises than a collection of old gum.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Do You Still Know How to Write?

How often have you seen a teen without a cell phone? And how many of them are texting messages to their friends. The cell phone has definitely become a way of life. Besides the normal questions of etiquette, distraction and just plain rudeness there are two other questions to explore.

The first has to do with communication styles. I don’t understand why someone would send a text message when they can just as easily make a call from the same equipment. Don’t people like to talk to each other any more? Have we totally lost the need to reach out and connect with other people? One young man I recently saw on TV, who was getting ready to go to Marine boot camp, was perplexed about not being able to use his phone with him. He readily admitted to 17,000 text messages per month; yes 17 THOUSAND. He must never talk to anyone or do anything besides texting.

The second challenge this young man will have to face is also a problem for a lot of people. Does he know how to write a letter? One of quandaries of text messages is the shortened language form. For ease of use most words have been shortened, or just represented with letters. Will this young man, or anyone else for that matter, be able to translate the abbreviations back into proper English. How will they communicate with the folks back home or any offices or services where they need help? I doubt that the Marines will accept text messages for inquiries. The chance of him having a cell phone available on duty is also very slim. How does he expect to keep in touch with his world?

I do appreciate that cell phones, with their texting technologies are a great tool. However, there is a time and place. The technology is being abused. They have even evolved into a Twitter world where 140 characters can convey your message. It is a quick and easy way to spread the word of any event in real time. But to just use the technology on a whim, or as a toy, defeats its purpose and dilutes our communication skills to a debilitating degree.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Because We Always Did It That Way

Are your systems really as efficient as they could be? Have you calculated the actual time it takes for each task and how it may be improved with additional training of your staff? An easy measure of efficiency is a count of rejects. An accurate count can help you monitor material costs, labor efficiencies, and often employee attitudes.

The attitude of your employee can make or break your business. The idea of team building is not new, but is still not used as much as it should be. Employees who are invested in the outcome of their efforts and are true team members are more likely to contribute positively to your bottom line. Being team members helps employees take ownership and therefore do a more conscious job. They will care a lot more. Having input in their professional future helps their feelings of self worth and sense of being appreciated. Several studies have reported that many employees are more concerned with the culture and environment of where they work that with the paycheck. Of course the paycheck is important, but it is not the only driving force for a lot of people.

"Because we always did it that way" is a guarantee for failure. Not being open to change is an automatic roadblock to growth. Change should be the only part of your business that is consistent. Your business is a living thing that is constantly growing and changing. Become a fly on the wall and take a hard look at your processes. And keep in mind that flys don't have egos; the best thing you can do for your business is to get out of your own way. A successful enterprise is a reward in itself and plenty of fuel for your ego.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ups and Downs

We are all very aware that our current economic condition is not as positive as we would like. It seems that no matter how hard we try or what we do our hands are tied. Unemployment is up, prices are up, and investments are down. Thinking about this situation led me to investigate the state of our economy in the last 100 years to see if I could predict how long this would last.

Most experts agree that our financial system is cyclical; there have always been ups and downs. When we are down, like today, we can’t seem to remember the good times. When we are up we tend to believe that there is no down.

Look at this partial list from A History of American Agriculture 1776-1990. It exemplifies just what the experts have concluded. From the > on the list you can see that we have actually spent more time up than down, and we will be there again soon.

> 1909-18 Prosperity and war boom
1920-21 Sharp postwar recession
> 1922-29 Speculative boom
1929-1939 Great Depression
> 1939-45 Wartime recovery
> 1946-49 Postwar boom
> 1950-56 Korean war and postwar readjustment
1957-58 Recession
> 1958-70 Extended business expansion
1970-80 Inflation rates increased, while economic growth rates declined
1981-82 Recession
> 1983-88 Business expansion
1989-1991 Recession
> 1992-2000 Greatest economic expansion ever

The real lesson that we should learn from these patterns is fully ascribed in the Boy Scout motto—“Be Prepared”. If we planned and saved during the good times; we would be a lot more comfortable in the down ones. Living from paycheck to paycheck in the good times makes no sense. Any financial advisor will tell you that you should have an emergency fund of several month’s expenses for times like these. Even in lean times some savings activity should continue. It may not be easy, and it may not be very much money, but it is a good lesson in discipline that will serve you well, whatever the state of the economy.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Have you noticed the ratio?

Most of us were born with two ears and one mouth. There is a special significance to this ratio. We should be leaning more heavily on listening than talking. While you are doing the talking you can’t possibly hear what the other person (parent, child, client, or friend) has to say.

A lot of us seem to subscribe to the misconception that only way to get our point across is to keep talking ( sometimes with increasing volume) until we wear the listener down. However, if you didn’t listen to your customer describe the widget he wanted and the fact that it had to be blue, you would have egg on your face when you delivered a red one. You would stand a good chance of losing the sale, future transactions and all the referrals that may come along with it.

You should consider retuning your communication tools so you can really comprehend what your client has in mind and how you can help solve their problem. Ask a few open-ended questions to determine their exact needs. Restate the challenge to be sure you are all on the same page. After this fact-finding and attentive listening you should have no trouble offering the right solution.

By keeping in mind the ratio between ears and eyes: listening and talking, you will find that all your communications will be more rewarding and you will be easily able to build on your successes.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Advertising vs. Public Relations

This question has been bandied around for as many years as there has been commerce. Public Relations (PR) and advertising are cousins. They serve the same master (Aunt Profit) but with different approaches.

Once men started creating surpluses that they could trade for needed goods that they didn’t have the earliest tradesmen “advertised” to their neighbors what they were going to have available at the next market. Once they established trusting relationships they was more reliance on public relations to drive the commerce machine. People will always do business with those they know and trust.

Jumping ahead, I have always found that advertising is great for getting instant results. It is where you put your coupons to attract new shoppers (and some savvy ones) to introduce to your products. The accounting is built into the campaign, because it is easy to quantify the results, and is very reliable. Advertising gives you "instant" results.

PR on the other hand is more of a long term investment. It can entail "free" advertising if you use press releases judiciously. It has a lot to do with who you know and who knows you. The newer arena of social networking is a terrific platform for PR efforts. A PR campaign is where you foster friendships and relationships. These connections may not become clients or customers for quite a while, but they are likely to be very faithful when they do.

It appears to me that customers come from an advertising base and clients come from a PR base. Both aspects are important for the success of your business; each has its strengths and weaknesses. Your business development strategies should include a mix of both methods depending on your predetermined goals. Relationships have a significant impact on your bottom line.

For more in depth information contact me: or at least leave a comment here. I'll be looking forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Are You Buried?

I just turned on my computer and a monster jumped out at me. One look at my mailbox made me want to go and hide until next year. I have several mailboxes that I use like filing cabinets, each one receiving mail related to different projects. A couple of them are not too overwhelming, but then, they are also places to play so they require no immediate attention. My main box, the catchall of all things curious, significant, important for me, or important to other people has 1251 messages with 602 of them marked unread. There is probably a fair amount that has become dated or obsolete that can be deleted, but that still means I have to sort thru them. A lot of it I have every intention of reviewing, when I get time or whenever the cows come home, whichever comes first.

A lot of this chaos I have brought on myself. If I see something that I think is interesting I subscribe, figuring that I can throw it out later. Unfortunately, later seems to be buried at the bottom of the pile. Then there are the things I mark for follow-up; do you recognize those initials, that’s what happens to those red flags.

I also need a big shovel to get myself sorted out in Twitter. Again I have solicited all these neat comments, but I have given virtually no consideration to when I think I can follow up on all those cool tweets. My mind is like a sponge that needs new information to sop up on a continuing basis. Unfortunately it can’t operate on remote control—I have to take action to keep it well fed and happy.

The same situation applies to all of my social networking sites, like Linkedin and Ladies Who Launch When do I think I am going to catch up with all the information that is available to me.

I really believe in the power of these new relationships. Maybe I can figure out a way to have a big party, invite all these connections, make new friends and see if someone has a brilliant or at least better idea of how to handle all this social media chaos. Please comment if you can relate or have a solution before I get so buried that I will never see the light of day again.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

To Be or Not To Be

Several years ago Reader’s Digest published the fact that if you are in business for yourself you only have to work half-time; and you get to pick which 12 hours you work. Those of you who are self employed, or do commission sales because that is the same thing, know that this is true.

Self-employment does carry the disadvantage of potentially very long hours, estrangement from your family and friends, and burnout. However, it also offers the advantage of self fulfillment, choices, freedom, and no limits to your income or success.

I have a friend who thinks I am crazy for working for myself. He can’t understand my need for freedom and choices and he is especially baffled by my never knowing how much or when my money will come in. In his case he is lucky that he has a very high level position that pays him an above average salary. He is particularly satisfied knowing exactly how much and when his money will be available. This allows him to plan, to the penny, his budget and expenses. I see this as boring and lacking in excitement.

Obviously, from this example, there are two different personalities at work here. Some of us like the adrenalin rush of the unknown. If we have worked smart enough we will have a financial cushion available that will alleviate crisis, but still let us experience the challenges of our indefinable future. The other personality is not comfortable with uncertainty. They have to know exactly what to expect; they don’t like surprises. They probably don’t even like surprise parties. If they are lucky enough, like my friend, to make an above average income they have lots of choices of how to live their lives. Unfortunately, most do not have this luxury so there are restrictions to their choices. Open-ended opportunity is only available if you work for yourself or do commission sales where there is no limit to your earnings.

Which personality are you? If you have always dreamed of having your own business, this is one of the most fundamental questions you must explore. Having your own business is a wonderful thing, if it fits your style; if it doesn’t you are setting yourself up for heartbreak and failure, and there is very little you can do to change this course.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Do You Read Directions?

Oops-you just did it again. You just assembled your new office furniture and only had a few parts left over. You tell yourself “that shouldn’t matter, they always ship extra parts.” But wait! –why won’t your new spiffy chair roll across the floor? You are probably experiencing an ailment that is very common, especially to men, of not reading the instructions. And this is probably not the first time this has happened.

Putting together your new office furniture, your kid’s bike, or your new lawnmower is not the only place that reading (and following) the instructions is important. Have you ever submitted an application for something important only to have it returned for more information or a missing signature? This type of delay could be very expensive, especially if there was a time limit on your application. The problem was easily avoided if you had read (and follow) the instructions.

I have found that some instructions are very hard to comprehend because they were created in another language and in another culture and then translated for our use. It is pretty easy to not follow these directions because they don’t make sense, or sometimes even leave out important steps of the process. Others, however, are amazing in their completeness and ease of understanding. If you just follow one step at a time, in order, not jumping ahead of yourself, the item goes together very easily, and you won’t have any parts left over. If you try to out smart the directions you are likely to create chaos and have more trouble correcting your mistakes than you would have had if you’d followed the instructions in the first place.

This advice about following the directions applies not only to mechanical things, like tools and toys, but also to software, computer programs, cameras, and other communication devices. Technology instructions often fit into that category of translated instructions that make no sense. I know I don’t have a technology gene so I have learned to rely on one of my partners for help. Just hand them the device, admit you are dumb, and wait—they will always find the answer for you.

Asking for help is the surest way of avoiding chaos and sensory overload. You will also make lots of points with your friends, because they want to be helpful and they will like it that they are smarter than you. You now have an opportunity to make your friends happy, not strain your brain, and move up to the next level of technology so you can race ahead, until the next time you get a new toy.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What now...

The question is---how do you get back “up on the horse” after a week or more of major crises in your life? I’ve just had one of those weeks that none of us needs or deserves. In one week I had to face my mother’s death, major court mediation, and a car accident that came close to totaling my car (fortunately, nobody was hurt). These are all life changing experiences, but handled one at a time they can be easily endured. When they all happen in one week, they can each be monumental and difficult to handle. Your normal life definitely gets put on hold.

I have always believed that adversity is an opportunity to learn something of importance, whether it be how to address a problem or how not to do something. The most challenged, unsuccessful person in the world can be a great teacher of how not to confront a problem. This awareness can easily be spun into a positive lesson.
What am I supposed to be learning from last week, besides patience? As I look around on Monday morning trying to assess what this week might hold I realize that I have basically been in hiding. My mail has piled up, my house is a mess, the laundry is taking over and I don’t know where to start to dig out.

A friend has just suggested the standard advice, get up, dress up and show up. This just means putting on a happy face and moving forward. Another bit of advice that comes to mind is “fake it ‘til you make it.” This may be all I can do for now. It will probably take some time for me to really get back on track. I do know that forward momentum breeds forward momentum. Just because I’m overwhelmed now doesn’t mean that I will always be that way. Time will lead me out of this chaos and back on the path to serenity.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

... its going to be a great ride.

Are you ready to act like the Roadrunner and fall off the cliff into the abyss? With the bankruptcy of General Motors yesterday, we are about to experience dynamic changes in our culture and our futures. As uncertain and overwhelmed we were the last time we made major cultural changes, we survived it, and we will survive it again. The only real difference this time is the pace of our lives and the speed with which we encounter change.

The last major change was the transformation from the industrial age to the information age. In that case specifically General Motors, and all its support systems, is going to emerge from its restructuring activities in a whole new form; bigger and stronger, but very different from today. The industry grew up 50+ years ago and hasn’t aged gracefully. It is going to have to become leaner and more responsive to its customers (both internal and external) in order to survive. New technologies will be embraced and new inspirations will be encouraged. It has been several generations since we were able to witness such changes and these will be even more dynamic than previously. Hang on—its going to be a great ride.

Friday, May 29, 2009


She was an amazingly strong woman. Not muscles strong, strong of character. Her essence told you that she cared and would do whatever she could to help you reach your next goal or master your next challenge.

As far as I know she was raised by a “wannabe” society lady and a character of some interest, although time has faded those memories. She grew up in Brooklyn, which in the 20’s and 30’s had a special character of its own; then in San Francisco, a magical place for the coming of age of a young lady.

Our heroine survived all the traumas life had to offer in the 20th century; wars, depression, economies, both plus and minus, and major culture shifts. She waltzed thru all of it. She became a highly respected artist and teacher and a mom. I’m sure that she would consider her family her greatest accomplishment.

Her family consisted of her husband who she cherished (and bickered with) for 66 years, a daughter and a son. During the “growing up” years for her children she developed an amazing sense of humor. She put up with her son cutting the neighbor’s flowers and then selling the “bouquets” back to them for a penny or two. She showed phenomenal restraint when her daughter “cooked” eucalyptus perfume in the kitchen and then packaged it in all the available perfume bottles in the house, regardless of their previous contents. I’m sure in the back of her mind, eventho she wanted to strangle them; she appreciated their creativity and spirit.

Creativity and spirit were the mainstays of her life. When her daughter was in high school she decided to finish the schooling she hadn’t completed because life had led her in different directions. She went to the local junior college and then on to University to get her degrees and the education she so cherished; and she became a teacher, a good one who was liked and respected by both her students and her peers. And now that the more intense activity of raising children had abated somewhat she started producing more artwork of her own, which led to many exhibitions and shows where she could share her vision.

Wisdom is an overused word for our parents, but it is one that fits. Analyzing situations, sorting through to the core and then finding workable solutions appeared to come easily to her. Maybe it wasn’t as easy as it looked, but she was good at handling challenges and fixing problems with apparent ease.
As her children grew into maturity I’m sure she abhorred some of their choices, but she let them make them and just hung back as a safety net. She cheered for them and ached with them as they worked through their own challenges. She was always there for them regardless of how high or low they were on the scale of life. Awed, proud, and often dismayed, she stood by them regardless.

Later she became a very good friend. Someone who would hold your hand, even if you were far away, call you to task to guide you back to the right path, and be your loudest cheerleader when you succeeded. Although she had created a richly rewarding life for herself, she still always had the time and interest for you.

She is now struggling with the end of her life and she doesn’t deserve such an undignified parting; she would not have chosen this path. But this is the one she must take and with her goes a major part of our hearts. After 86 years the most precious gifts of love, tolerance, humor, and awe for life will be her legacy. It is just a shame that more people couldn’t have been a part of it all.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ready, Set, Learn

Most economists are predicting that the economy will bottom out before the end of the year. How are you faring? Some industries have been hit harder than others, like real estate and automotive while some seem to be striving, like anything green. My question is—what have you learned from this downturn and what permanent changes you have made to cushion yourself in the future? We are anxious to help you explore the possibilities so you can be better prepared and better able to avoid negative consequences.

It is important that you take advantage of every possible learning experience. You may be in a position to go back to school or, more likely, you can just spend some dedicated time on your computer asking questions and looking for answers. Either way, updated knowledge will give you the edge in any type of economic chaos. Study everything you can. You will be better prepared than the competition to stay the course. This suggestion applies to your business and financial life as well as your personal life.

You don’t have to embrace all that the younger generations are doing, but you should stay open to possibilities. Read their blogs, check out their social sites, like Facebook and Twitter, and listen to their music. While we have lessons to teach them, they also have lessons to teach us. These interchanges will help all of us grow.

Keep in mind that the “annoying” teenagers of today are going to be the leaders of tomorrow and very much in charge of our fate. Having an idea of how they think and operate in life will put you ahead of the curve and lead you to a more satisfying life.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Should Your Business Use a Staffing Agency?

YES, YES, YES! – You should consider using a staffing agency because we save you money. We eliminate the direct burden of workers’ compensation costs and potential legal exposure, which can be significant expenses. Using a staffing agency also gives you the flexibility to release the worker without any cost to you and you won’t be responsible for unemployment costs either. The average cost of a new hire is $7,000.00 and we are able to substantially reduce that cost for you by taking on these extra burdens.

Staffing agencies offer customized recruiting, screening and training to identify the true talent. We aggressively recruit candidates and keep a large database of highly skilled talent to fit your every need. We guarantee to match you with the right talent – the first time. We also offer heavy screening to ensure that you are receiving an A+ employee. We do comprehensive drug screening, background checks, credit checks, motor vehicle reports and more.

If you are having trouble finding the right employee from your job posting, have no fear. We will post your open positions on various websites for free! We run “blind ads” so job seekers are not pounding down your door. They come to us; our pre-screening efforts are number one so we are able to weed out the bad candidates and only provide you with the best matches.

Work doesn’t stop when someone has to leave on an emergency in the middle of the busiest season or when your employees take vacation; someone needs to always be available. Staffing agencies can fill these temporary assignments. We can also fill temporary to permanent and direct placement needs; offering you a range from seasonal/short-term work all the way to long-term full-time careers.

Your staffing agency is an important partner of your management team, one that helps lead your company to success.

Contributed by Krysta Grizzard, Staffing Manager, Employment Trends,

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Do You Have Your Hat on Backwards?

In today’s tough economy you have done your due diligence, thoroughly analyzed your income and out go, and sorted your numbers every which-way. You have discovered that your Widget A only accounts for 12% of your business. Should you drop this product line?
WAIT! There are other areas to consider before you pull the plug. Have you done a full analysis of the total potential market? You are likely to find that although Widget A only represents 12% of your business, it actually represents 90% of the total market. Whether by design or happenstance you have discovered a niche and filled it. This has long been the mantra of product designers and sales teams-“find a niche and fill it.”
With this knowledge on hand would you still want to pull the plug on Widget A? What are the chances for add-on sales of your other products? Are your Widget A customers likely to recommend your to their friends and associates? How much of the infrastructure of Widget A overlaps other products in your line? It may only represent 12% of your income, but how much of your outgo does it represent, probably a lot less than 12%.
A major car manufacturer I worked for several years ago made just this mistake and has never been the same since. These are all questions they should have asked as part of their strategic planning analysis. Your Widget A may not be your most profitable product, but it may have a great value to you in the whole scheme of things, in capturing extra business, or in just filling a need that nobody else is able to do, thus making you a hero and a successful commercial enterprise.
A lot of the success of your business will depend on this balancing act. It is critical that you due your due diligence, but not make any decisions until you look at the picture from both sides, yours and the client’s.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fold and Toss & Fold and Toss & Fold and Toss &…

Are you old enough to remember this? This was the little boy who lived down the street and delivered your newspaper. If he was lucky he had one of those spiffy canvas bags he wore to carry the papers. He got very good at tossing your paper on the porch, unless you were mean to him and then he would hit the bushes or a puddle.

Do you still have the newspaper delivered? I do. I like the feel of the paper and the ritual of spreading it out to read while I eat breakfast. On Sunday I take the whole thing apart before I even start. I sort the parts I want to read in their “proper” order and get rid of all the fillers and ads.

Unfortunately my pleasure is slowly being taken away. Today’s paper only had 36 pages (plus the ads). It barely lasts through breakfast. Because of economics papers are cutting back on their hard copies. They are pushing readers to the internet. They are waving a two edged sword—encouraging people to read the paper online causes the loss of readers for the “real” newspaper. Many of the Country’s newspaper publishers have converted to online publication only.

Getting the news without the ritual of the daily newspaper is like the difference between eating and dining. You do get the job done, the fuel for your machine, but where is the pleasure of the slower pace and the feel of the paper. Life is already moving too fast, I want to hold on to the small pleasure of reading the newspaper with my breakfast in the morning.

Monday, April 20, 2009

This came to me on the net several years on the net. I don't know who the author is, but think it is a very important sentiment.

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the coffee. When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups... And then you began eyeing each other's cups. Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us."God brews the coffee, not the cups.......... Enjoy your coffee!

"The happiest people don't have the best of everything.
They just make the best of everything."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Is outsourcing a dirty word!

Today it is called outsourcing and considered a dirty word, but really, it is brokering. Sending specific tasks to professionals outside your organization has several advantages if done properly. This practice shouldn’t impact your current staff; in fact it should strengthen your team.
When I was a printer I often outsourced projects. What it did was buy me the use of equipment that I couldn’t justify owning myself. and trained staff to go with it. Jobs that were beyond our capability were sent to vendors who could do them properly and I didn’t have to be burdened with owning equipment that we rarely used. This also gave us extra staff so we could be more efficient. We didn’t have to be all things to all people, we could do what we did best in house and send the rest to other talented professionals. Our goal was to give our customers the best possible product and they didn’t care how we did it. Brokering made us more profitable, more efficient, and able to deliver a great product.
Brokering differs from outsourcing in that it doesn’t shift your whole production elsewhere, negatively impacting your team members. It allows you to free up manpower so you can get more done in less time, control costs more effectively, enhance accountability and create a positive working environment for everyone. We had a lot of fun, while doing a great job for our customers.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What Would Miss Manners Say?

In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts... So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them 'Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down. It's where we get the phrase 'mind your P's and Q's

Did you thank the person who held that door for you today? She/he didn’t have to do that, but they have good manners. Do your good manners show in response. Minding your P’s & Q’s is important to getting along in our fast paced society.
I watched cars this morning jamming themselves into traffic. Their drivers must assume that their journey is more important than the other guy’s. Somehow this is justification for them to create a hazard and put lots of people in jeopardy. I’m sorry to tell them this, but it is just plain RUDE to act like that. Your mission is no more important than the other guy so back off and be calm. I’ve long contended that driver’s licenses should not be issued to “A” personalities.
How long did it take you to send a thank you for a gift, grand gesture, or pleasant encounter? The internet has made us lazy and caused us to get away from hand written notes of appreciation. Other methods will do the job, but nothing is nicer, and more caring than a snail mail card (do you remember those?) Our mothers forced us to reply within 48 hours, but that was another generation. There is no good reason for not returning to those practices-they are very civilized.
We say we live in a supposedly civilized society, but I see too much pushing, shoving, ignoring, disrespecting, and plain rudeness to consider our society truly civilized. It is incumbent on each of use to do our share to bring back life’s little niceties. Sure they take a little more time, but the pleasure the give, and return are worth the effort. Try a smile and a thank you on a stranger and see what I mean.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Over Networked?

I hate (maybe that’s too strong a word) the first Wednesday of every month. That is the day I am in meetings all day. First at 7am for a lead club, then at 11:30 for a networking group, mid afternoon for an office meeting and 6pm for the Cultural Heritage Board. This whirlwind of activity leaves me exhausted. And am I really sure that these meetings are productive. I am making lots of connections, staying on top of what’s happening in the community and serving the public good, but what am I doing for ME?
Do you have hectic meeting days like this? How do you manage your schedule? Have you done an assessment of the value of all your meetings?
Several years ago my calendar became a red flag, I realized that I wasn’t getting my work done and didn’t know why. I searched my calendar for ways to improve my efficiency and discovered that I was spending an inordinate time in meetings. I quit or cancelled almost everything. My Wednesday morning lead club is important so I keep that one, but all the others had to go. What an amazing feeling when I lifted all that weight off my shoulders.
The same survey should be done of all your online networking. Are you spending too much valuable time on Facbook, Twitter, Linkedin and other sites at the expense of efficiency? Are you using these sites to avoid your real priorities? A serious evaluation of your time management may be in order to get you back on the top of your game. What do you think??

Friday, March 27, 2009

Have You Hugged Your Consultant Today?

You can expect to see a lot of new start-up businesses. Many people who have been laid off are starting their own ventures. Some will be successful, but many won't because just because they have a good idea, doesn't mean they have the business acumen for success or aren't willing to uses coaches who are available to help them. I find in my local market that people understand that they need help, but they aren't willing to pay for consulting or coaches.
Most people have no problem hiring doctors, lawyers, or accountants, but they don't want to pay for consultants. Somehow their mindset is if they can't hold the product in their hand it has no value. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Hiring a consultant is like renting a second, more experienced brain for the duration of your project.
The smartest people in the world don't have all the answers, they just know where to get the information. Your Consultant knows where to get the answers you need in their field of expertise. The money you invest with a qualified Consultant is and investment in your success.
That is why I'm expanding my base to the internet. I'm here to help small business' create a strong base for success. My new site just launched this week ( Check it out! There is no charge for your initial consultation, why not ask and expert.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Wonder of TurboTax

Several years ago I discovered (I didn’t really discover it—it was already there) TurboTax. At first I was very skeptical, how could a single disc replace my highly skilled $350.00 CPA? A very anal friend who had tested it and compared it to his usual, very successful previous system had recommended the program. In the end his system was one cent off and the TurboTax was correct. That was enough of a recommendation for me to give it a try.
So on Sunday I slipped the disc into my MAC and pushed the download button. It only took a few minutes to load and start up.
The key to success is to have used Quicken or Quickbooks to keep your records. TurboTax pulls all your information in so you don’t have to make piles of receipts all over the floor. Most of the sorting is already done by Quicken. Then it asks you a few questions, allows you to add more information and you are done. As you work it shows you just what your liability is and reminds you of deductions you might have missed.
TurboTax also saves your information from one year to the next so future tax prep is very easy and you can spot potential red flags that could trigger an audit. It also has lots of links to education and tips to help you make better financial decisions.
Using this system has saved me hundreds (or maybe thousands) of dollars and an incalculable amount of stress. Give it a shot—the return on investment is worth the time.