Sunday, December 26, 2010

Are Your Manners Showing?

You have all seen RSVP on an invitation. What is it, why is it there, and what does it mean? In practice it means that you should contact the hosts of the event and let them know if you are going to attend. The actual translation is from French répondez, s'il vous plaît ; it means please respond promptly.

So you ask “what’s the big deal?” Responding promptly to your host is not only a sign of your good manners, it is a sign of respect for your host or hostess. Leaving them wondering whether up or not you will show is very stressful, as well as making it difficult for them to complete their plans; seating, catering, gifts and all the other things that go into planning a great event.

RSVP is also akin to “register now” for a seminar, fund raiser or trade show. Reservations, locations, catering, publicity and more often have to be paid in advance. Not knowing if you need seminar materials for 20 or 200 is a major challenge. This is why reservations or registration is so often requested so far in advance of the event. There is no other way to put together a successful event.

RSVP’s and other good manners need to make a comeback. The civility of life is sorely missed.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's That Time Again

It is about this time of year that we start evaluating what happened this year; what was good, what was bad, what should be changed in the upcoming 12 months. Typically, we only look at the highlights instead of really putting some concentrated thought into the whole year. This usually leads us to making "New Year's Resolutions" that probably last more than a few weeks, or days.

Resolution (decision): a firm decision to do something. This is a pretty scary thought. That's why most resolutions don't last. Making resolutions sets you up for failure, they are too inflexible. If the situation is not the product of a commitment to self analysis, making a broad promise is a direct path to guilt and self abuse. Making a resolution to lose weight next year is doomed to failure unless it is less generic and more specific. Telling yourself instead, or better yet journaling, that by the end of next year "I will lose 20 pounds in order to make my blood pressure lower. I will do this by (insert your specific game plan here) "will give you a better chance of victory. Now you have a plan for success, with specific parameters, that will assure you a greater chance for success; and you won't have to suffer the guilt of failure.

This best way to make this system work is to take the time to study your core values. This can be a frightening task, but I assure you that the results are worth your effort. Actually, I have noticed that the process is more important that the answers. Nobody will ever see your list, unless you choose to share it, so you can be brutally honest. This is the hardest part because we don't really like to look at ourselves up close, but we should. Also remember that your list is not cast in stone, you should review it at least once a year and make any necessary changes.

Your Core Values can be one of the most powerful tools in your toolbox. You are judged by how you appear, how you act and how you react. Knowing yourself well will help you make the kind of decisions that make you stronger and inspire the people around you.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Networking forFun and Profit

hAs we have discussed, although Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are terrific tools, there is one that is more powerful than any of them; old fashioned personal contact. The answer is Networking. Networking gives you the opportunity of meeting your clients and associates on a personal level that is not available over the internet.

Of course you do have to depend on the internet to stay in touch with distant contacts, but even a phone call can strengthen that bond. Checking in just to say hello, see how you can help, or share a referral adds a personalization otherwise not available.

Face to face contacts make for much stronger relationships; whether business or personal. This is where Networking comes in. Mixers, meet and greets, and seminars are all great places to solidify existing contacts and make new ones.

Just like any other activity, there are rules of conduct that apply to Networking. Remember: “you only have one chance to make a good impression.” Some things must be avoided at all costs, including hogging the conversation, drinking or eating too much (unless you are at a dinner meeting), selling, bragging, not listening, hanging out with people you already know, or spending time on your phone. (anything except a true emergency can wait).

Networking is all about building relationships; people buy from people they know and trust. You are there to make new friends, enhance your reputation, and share local knowledge. You should be prepared (investigate the event before you attend), be approachable, be enthusiastic, write your thank you notes and do your follow-up, and by all means remember your manners.

Besides making new friends and strengthening existing relationships, you are likely to have a good time. They used to say in New Zealand that ”a change is as good as a rest” so get out of your comfort zone and try Networking. You will be amazed how your life will expand as a result.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Do You Know the Score?

Do you know where you stand in the credit World. Until now you could get one free credit report per agency, once a year. You also had the option of getting your report and paying to find out your score. We have found a credit information site that will actually give you your credit score for free!

It is worth spending some time at Of course, they are going to offer you special deals from their partners, but they are optional. However, they do offer you some great information on how to improve your score and how to manage credit. They also have a valuable Credit Advice section, News, and reviews; and all this information is free.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Who knew...The Power of Facebook

They say "you can't teach an old dog new tricks", but look at me. It's taken a while to get on board the blogosphere and we are still learning, but we are moving forward. I consider social media another tool to help you grow your business by my sharing ideas and concepts. FaceBook has proven to be an amazing tool. It is not just for finding and connecting with old friends and family; a lot of business is getting done. There are over 500 million people now using it; some of them are your future customers.

One local eatery in my community promoted his business on FaceBook for three months before he opened. We all cheered and booed as he did, and didn't get the permits he needed. Delays were lamented, successes cheered. By the time he opened he had a huge following and has been growing ever since. This is a terrific example of using social media to grow a business.

Writing a blog (web journal) is another very powerful tool to use to promote your success. Writing on interesting subjects, related to your field of expertise, lead readers into knowing you. Consumers like to do business with the people they know, and trust. Delivering useful information is a good way to create that trust.

Check out my website if you need help figuring out how social media and blogging can make money for you, and for more helpful hints.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

“Never underestimate the power of passion.” *

Is this how you feel about your job, your business and your life? Are you excited about getting up in the morning and approaching your day? If you aren’t, maybe it is time for you to make a change.

Yes, I do understand that with today’s economic prospects this may seem like an insurmountable challenge; it is necessary for your health and well being. The other choice is to change your attitude about your circumstance. Look hard at your day to find the few things that do give you pleasure. Maybe it is just the idea of finishing the work day so you can go home to play with your children; working lets you afford this luxury. Your job may just be a stepping stone to the next stage of your life; learn as much as you can. It is possible that the only lesson to learn is how not to do something. Just think about the value of that lesson.

Being able to make all the parts of your life work together is the greatest reward. “When work, commitment, and pleasure all become one and you reach that deep well where passion lives, nothing is impossible.”(anon) . When you can make all the pieces of your life’s puzzle come together you are set for the maximum happiness. Don’t be afraid. Take a hard look at your approach to life and alter it to create a permanent smile.
* (Eva Sawyer).

Friday, July 30, 2010

Are You a Turtle?

TURTLE  an order of reptiles that have a shell of bony plates usually covered with horny shields enclosing the trunk and into which the head, limbs, and tail usually may be withdrawn. The move at a slow, timid pace and are very rarely aggressive.

Does this describe you? Are you a turtle? Do you tend to be meek and timid? Like the turtle, do you pull up inside yourself any time you are challenged?

There is nothing wrong with being cautious, but always avoiding confrontations can hamper your success, both in business and life. Sticking your neck out, just a little, allows you to determine the facts so you can act accordingly. Hiding from reality, retreating any time your comfort zone is nudged only yields missed opportunities. The world is full of all kinds of adventures, information, and opportunity. If you are always hiding inside your shell you are guaranteed to miss out.

It may take some time and patience, as well as practice, to become more daring. Try a little at a time. At a mixer or party talk to the person alone in the corner; they are just as apprehensive as you are. See, you already have something in common. Remember, you are both at the same event so that is something else you have in common.

When all else fails, just ask yourself, “What is the worst possibly thing that can happen if I take this action? The consequences are probably tolerable so you might as well move ahead. You will probably find that reaching out is not that freaky, and can be very rewarding.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


     Have you wondered what you should do with all the old bank records and credit card bills that are jamming your files? Are they really as important as you think they are? Here is a brief primer on what to keep and what you can toss.

     As far as your bills are concerned; you may want to hold on to the receipts for specific items for a year or until the warranty has expired. For everything else, once you have checked them against your records and confirmed that they are correct, toss them. I find stapling receipts to the owner’s manuals and putting them away is an easy system. In today’s world if you really need back copies you will find that most of your purchase information will always be available on the net or from the vendor. They are legally accountable to maintain the records of your transactions for a number of years
     The IRS can only audit you for three years, unless they are involved in a criminal investigation. For a secure margin of safety you should keep your tax records and justifying receipts for 6 or 7 years. The same goes for expense reports and their records.

     Home purchase, improvement, and other investment records should be kept for all the time you own them plus seven years after you dispose of them
     Everything else that doesn’t fit into one of these categories can be shredded. You will then have enough room to save a bunch of other papers you don’t really need.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why Do You Do What You Do?

In our last issue we discussed the value of assessing your Core Values. This can be a very powerful exercise; just the exercise itself will give you amazing insights into your thinking processes.

The next step in building your foundation is to determine your reasons for doing what you do. Your actions are defined by your Mission Statement. Your Statement tells the world about your goals and purpose. It not only tells your employees and teammates where you are coming from, but a well written mission statement also tells your customers, business partners and others who you are, what, why and how your business will conduct itself.

Mission Statements can also be constructed for your personal development. It would define your ethical standards and how people can expect you to act. The absence of surprises makes your associates much more comfortable.

Your Mission Statement, whether for business or personal conduct, should always be in alignment with your Core Values. For example our Mission Statement is; “help people solve problems, seize opportunities, and by acting fell better about themselves.” This tells people what they can expect when working with us; offering anything less is considered failure.

There should be no limits to your imagination when you are developing your Mission Statement. Reach beyond your current capacities. Your Mission Statement also functions like the rabbit to the greyhound in a race. It will cause you to reach to new levels of hopes, dreams, and achievement. You are trying to grow beyond your current reach and your Mission Statement can be a powerful tool to make that happen.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A goal is a dream with a deadline
Do you have a good map for your future? Whether you are assessing your business or personal relationships; truly understanding your core values is the basis for your map. It is critical that your Core values be written and reviewed on a regular basis. Keeping them in your head defeats the purpose of using them as a tool for growth. They are only dreams if they are not written, reassessed on a regular basis, and used as a learning tool.
Your Core Values should not reflect who you want to be or who you think you are. Those are the job of your Vision and Mission Statements. Core Values represent a searchingly honest assessment of who you really are.
Writing our your Core Values is not a test; there are no right or wrong answers. Keep in mind that these answers are not carved in stone. This is a living document. You should do periodic review to be sure you are still on track.
Some of the questions you might ask yourself are:
How do I see myself; Will I accept compromise and at what level; Do I like
Do I fear failure, do I fear success, Am I a risk taker?
Am I concerned about what others may think; are my fears blocking me?
Am I positive or negative; Do I smile and great strangers openly; Is life an adventure?
What is really getting in my way and stopping my forward progress?

These are just a few of the questions that you might ask yourself. There are probably plenty more. The more information you have, the better tools you can create and the more successful you will be. Absolute and candid honesty is essential to make your Core Value statement a good working tool. Remember, no one is judging you, they may never see your notes, but you will have a much better sense of who you are and what is most important to you.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fire Your Customers

Increasing sales may not be good for your business. Are you crazy, you say? Not at all. We often are concerned that we have more customers than ever before but aren't making more money. There is a very easy answer. The solution can be found in an analysis of your customers. There are a certain level of customers or clients that make you money; about 20% and a group of about 10% that are costing you money. These are the one time buyer or the small quantity user. Costs that are amortized across the whole sales process decrease per unit when tied to larger quantities. That means that the 80% of small customers are costing you more than you are making.
You need to analyze your customers to see which group they
each belong to.It is important that you direct your best marketing efforts at the 20% of customers who are improving your bottom line. Your middle group probably tends to be very loyal so special attention is not necessary. The bottom group is the customers that you fire. You can easily reduce your number of un-profitable clients by increasing minimum orders or convenience fees. In time your customer list will contain fewer names, but they will be the most valuable.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dirty Windows

I was recently strolling thru a local shopping center window shopping. One of the shops was a pet store. I would usually go in to see the critters; this time I didn’t. The windows were very dirty. Not just a few finger prints but real dirt 5” high. It actually made the store look it wasn’t open.
That brought to mind how you present yourselves. Not your personal style, there is a lot of information available about that, but your business style. What do your current, and more importantly your future customers think when they approach your business? Is it welcoming?

The first thing a client will see is the look of the premises; are the gardens well tended, is the signage good, is the parking lot clean. The next thing is your door; if its glass is it clean, if not is the paint fresh and clean. Your lobby or reception area are next; carpets clean, plants healthy, inviting chairs, desks not too cluttered. If you are in retail your customers will want to see clean, well-lit areas, good signage, and an easy to navigate floor plan.

The response may be subliminal, but it will color your relationship. They might just decide that your lack of attention to your environment indicates will be reflected in your work.

If you have had tunnel vision about your work take a minute to look around. Try to see your space as a customer might see it. You need not invest a lot of money for your work space, but a little thought and awareness will definitely be returned in your bottom line.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Brain Fade-Where & What

Oops-I think my brain has sprung a leak. More and more often I walk into a room and then don’t know what I am doing there. Dates get mixed up in my head. And where did I leave my glasses?

This can be attributed to one of three things; either I’m getting old, I’m not paying attention and letting life happen to me, or maybe my brain is wearing out. Since I know that I’m not as old as my calendar says I am; I know the problem can’t be blamed on age and I am shown daily that my brain is still functioning; I must just be moving too fast for my angel to keep up with me.
I do know that when I have too much on my plate I tend to run in circles, getting nothing done. How do I learn to pace myself so I’m pleasantly busy, but not buried in projects?

Check lists help, calendars help, and sticky notes are god sent. I’ve read that prioritizing helps, but what is really more important than what? Everything wants to be done, now, or sooner.

Short of having someone follow me around with a pad, I think I have to just concentrate more on the now and hope I have enough room in my brain to store all the things that I’m putting off ‘til later. And hope too, that my brain doesn’t spring a leak and let all the good stuff escape.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I have always loved to give. I could carry a $25.00 bill for several weeks and then spend most of it on others. Now you and I will both be able to share in a BIG way.

After years of planning, Other Creations Foundation, Inc. was launched this week. The Foundation, and its partners are dedicated to making the world a better place and educating women so they have the power to improve their family's standard of living and help their communities develop and grow.

Your small contribution of $25.00 will be used to fund the program of your choice; education, water treatment, micro loans, or special projects. More than one half of the World’s population does not have clean water. In many parts of the World it doesn’t take much to start a business to improve the standard of life for your family. Minimum education not only builds strong communities, but it lets student know that they have choices. These are all conditions we are trying to change.
Check out the success stories on our new site, recommend projects for consideration or just leave your comments. We really appreciate your interest and help. You too can really make a difference for women and their families and communities. Please do whatever you can.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Marketing in Tough Times

Are you sitting in your store or office wondering where all the customers/clients went? In normal times we typically lose about 10% of our customers in any given year to competition, their changing needs, or other mysterious reasons; but these are not "normal" times. Our lack of customers is just a snapshot of the greater economy. When the economy is struggling you can also expect to be struggling. That is "normal."
During tough times it is imperative that you reach out more, do more to attract business. This also may mean spending money that is scarce. However, DO NOT consider anything that you have to spend on advertising or marketing as an expense. It may affect your cash flow, but it is not an expense, it is an investment in your future success. Without ongoing marketing efforts you can be sure that the 10% client loss will increase substantially.
When available cash for marketing or advertising becomes a challenge it is time to get creative. There are a number of avenues you can take to get your name out there that are free. They make an investment of time, but you have that if your traffic is down.

Take a look at social media, using your computer to reach out, newsletters to keep in touch, surveys to be sure you are offering what your customers want, blogging or article marketing, networking or press releases.
If you need some ideas that match your goals contact me. We never charge for the first hour of consultation and that may be all you need to get headed in the right direction.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Are You Prepared?

Having recently spent over a week cleaning, sorting, donating and gifting my brother’s stuff, I had an exceptional “in your face” lesson about how important it is to plan our exit at least as well as we plan our lives. This chore just reinforced the message of how important it is for us all to be prepared.

None of us want to think about our own morality so we tend to not get organized; it is critical that we do. Even if we don’t think we have any heirs there is a still a need to take care of this stuff. It is very hard on whoever has to go through all your papers and stuff to find all the pieces of the puzzle.

In my Brother’s case he didn’t have children or exes and his estate is not very big, but he had a lot invested in collectibles and there is no indication of how he wanted to share it. Unfortunately, there is also no inventory to go along with the collections. This oversight leaves someone with a big project of evaluating and sorting and purging. A simple list or even the original purchase receipts shoved in an envelope somewhere would lessen the stress of this challenge. Not only will this be a monumental chore, it will keep the loss up front and interfere with a healthy mourning process.

Although a legally executed will would be the best choice of documentation, simple lists or notes can serve well to take some of the strain out of the project. The lists can assure that you are able to share with your friends after you have gone in the same ways you would if you were still around. Sharing your wishes with others is the extra special gift you can leave for the ones you love.

And keep in mind that not leaving a valid will forces heirs to have to deal with probate and courts. The government gets lots of money and the family gets lots af anxiety and heartache. Do you really want to leave this legacy? Acting now is much easier than having your family re-act later.