Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Last Minute Change

I hosted our SPD Parent Support Group last night. On Friday night, the speaker who was booked called me to cancel due to a family emergency. I was booked all day Saturday and Sunday and didn’t think most people wanted to do business then anyway, so I decided to wait until Monday morning.

I called the local Whole Foods and local Chamberlains and didn’t have any luck there. I even called the corporate office at Chamberlains and didn’t have any luck. I contacted a neighbor who is a nutritionist but she wasn’t available. So I finally decided whatever was supposed to be would be, and that if I found a speaker that came knocking, then I’d book them. So finally, my mom called and told me about Ken Blake, the owner of Curves. I called him and he accepted!

What a treat! Ken was such a delight and so dead on with his message. Although we had a small crowd, he gave the exact message that each of us needed. He was able to hear all of the stories of struggles that each of us have endured with finding the right therapies for our kids and add some advice and lots of empathy and encouragement for all of us.

What an amazing night. It wasn’t what I had expected but it was exactly what was perfect. The right speaker gave the right message for the people who were there, and anyone else wouldn’t have been as perfect as the substitute who came.

So, I’ve learned, when things don’t go your way, when someone cancels on you or changes the plans and you weren’t expecting it, I’ve learned just to go with the flow and know that it’s exactly as it should be.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

In Cyber Space and in Business… The NEW Sales and Marketing Models!

Oh my goodness. Things are changing so fast.. it’s like WARPED speed. I just shared with a client that if you taught marketing a year ago.. you’re OUTDATED. Yep! It’s true. Things are happening so fast in cyber space that networking and marketing have turned the corner.

Now.. it’s all about Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, Linked In and Classmates.com. When my clients ask, isn’t that for younger kids? Yes.. and it’s also for ANYONE who wants to stay current! And.. are people getting business out of them? YES! I spoke with a friend today who got his job because the boss found him and was introduced on Linked In.

I’ve also talked with the POWER players and they are annoyed by the many people who are trying to meet with them and get linked up with them. My advice to them is to NOT accept people they don’t want to get connected to, but DEFINITELY to link to those people in their industries who they’d normally hang with at conferences. You WILL miss fun and important conversations if you’re not doing the social networking on line. Even my 70+ year old mom feels she needs to be on Facebook because she’s missing out on fun stuff with her family out West.

The other advise I give to “power players” (people who everyone wants to sell to or a piece of their action) is that they want to think about WHAT THEY WANT. For instance, one of my best friends has a son who plays soccer. His absolute DREAM is to go to Notre Dame. So yesterday in a lunch meeting, I was told about a local Notre Dame Alumni club and that she can have her son join this club. I think it’s actually just a club for fans of ND. Anyway, these are people that she wants to get to know, so she can connect to these people on Facebook and Linked in and Twitter so they can know about her and her son! This is how the new way of business is being done!

So out with the OLD and IN with the NEW!!! Don’t be making an excuse that you’re over the age of 40 and this doesn’t apply to you. I KNOW you don’t have time.. no one does.. so guess what? You have to just do it, and fit it in, and it just becomes a part of your regular day. You’re going to have to choose not to be a dinosaur .. and invest a little time in becoming HIP in the marketing scene once again.

Trust me, it’s worth it. I’ve found several people already who are able to help me with the products I’m selling and with the book that I hope will be published soon. These will have a direct impact on my business.. so YES, I am doing business on social networking sites! And I’m developing relationships and friendships!

Not to mention Second Life, where you create an avatar of yourself and show up for meetings and webinars and conferences as an avatar and listen to speakers who are avatars and meet with individuals all over the world… as AVATARS! It takes a few hours to master this one and to build your perfect Avatar, but get the money out because soon you’ll be doing a lot of business there.. and visiting stores there virtually, and conducting meetings there. It’s fun and takes time to get the hang of it. My first “real time conversation” I went over to two people talking and introduced myself and said, “You are my first people I’m talking to here.” And their answer? “Se habla Espanol?” Nope! So I scampered away!

It’s all good!

So jump on board.. and get with the program.. and when you do.. I’d love to invite you to follow my interesting, personal, professional and cause oriented updates at www.twitter.com/marygardner !

I’ll see you in Cyber Space!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Going Back to my Roots of Sales and Promotion!

I finally admitted it a few weeks ago. I knew it all along. I tried to stuff it down deep and bury it and learn all sorts of other things. I took classes, certifications, studied, taught, coached, owned businesses and ran as far as possible from it… but it’s back… because I finally realized.. after 15 solid years of trying NOT to do it.. but doing it all along.. the simple truth is.. is that I’m … I’m … I’m a promoter.

Yep! I’m a sales person!

OK! Before you run the other way … I’ll explain!!! It’s actually a good thing to be a natural promoter. And I’m learning how GREAT it is to have a skill like this! Because as it turns out now.. I’m able to help a TON of people!

My first job out of college was an administrative job which I was not suited for and horrible at. I was a secretary on Capital Hill. All I wanted to do was to hang out and meet the celebrities who would eye me across the room during big Judiciary meetings but would ultimately be chased down by the politicians who were more important than some cute 20 something young girl who just loved the excitement of it all. I was the one who would type up letters and my eyes would miss 2 or 3 sentences and the letters wouldn’t end up making any sense. The Attorney on Staff, Beverly, was very gracious and never made me feel bad, but I just never felt like I quite cut it and I ultimately quit a few weeks before the Senator I worked for retired.

Then, I landed the job that would ultimately change the direction of my life..booking celebrity speakers through Keppler Speakers in DC. I loved that job, loved the people I worked with and did it well for 7 years. I came up from nothing and ended up making a name for myself, jamming on the phones every day to colleges all over the US.

My goal was simple. Find out WHO the person was, and coach them to find it.. to do it or to achieve it! And oh, yah, by the way.. book some speakers with them.. which I always did. I truly loved the people I met and am STILL friends with some of them to this very day. One guy I spoke with was the brother of one of my clients. He’s now a big wig with the Major Baseball Leagues in London. Clive Russell is still a good buddy.. and that’s from about 16-17 years ago!

I finally decided to get out of sales when I moved to NC and started a PR business. Little did I realize, that EVERYTHING is sales, and everything NEEDS to be sold. From the napkins you eat with to the clothes you wear, someone is using their talent to show it, demonstrate it and present it to the right people. It’s all about the connections.

So, I’ve gone BACK to my roots, of selling, and I feel so blessed that I can go BACK to such a fun career as booking entertainment. Oh, I”ll still coach and speak and do marketing consulting, but I’ll be promoting and selling and helping whoever I can during this time where everyone seems to need an extra push to get out there and let their services be known!

I’m finding now that it’s like getting back in some old jeans that fit just right, or an old shoe that your feet just slides in comfortably. I’m able to see the GOOD and the HIP parts of whoever I meet and can shine the light on them in a fun way so everyone enjoys it. If it’s not a fit for someone else.. no problem.. “have a great day and we’ll catch up again later”. But if it is, then I’ll make sure they’re incredibly happy with their choice!

Going back… it’s not so bad. I’ve had some great experiences in between.. on TV, with PR, with branding, coaching, training, management and with entrepreneurship. But I’ve never quite felt like it fit like a glove. I had to work at it a little, and had to gear up and practice and learn. Not with sales. Not with promotion. It came as natural as any instinct can.

So, I’m back. I’m not boxing myself into just speakers or performers. My skills are here to help whoever needs it and who I can really serve … so I can make us both money.

Going back to stuff from the past. Not always a bad thing… and sometimes its just the EXACT right thing.. that you need .. to move ahead!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Are you bored while others are Talking?

Recently in one of my corporate seminars, a very attractive man was in attendance. He was young, muscular in build and dressed well. He looked as if he had everything in the world going for him. When it came to his turn to share what he would like to get out of that day’s session, he said he’d like to be able to close more sales. I thought to myself, “interesting! He seems like the type of person anyone would buy from based on his appearance.” Then, an interesting thing happened. I started the seminar, and he got out his blackberry and started typing.

Within minutes of him doing his own thing, I took a break and went back to the fellow to see if everything was okay. He said yes and that he was just answering emails. I asked him if he felt he was going to get the best out of the seminar without spending time IN the seminar listening, he said he would take time to listen. After the break, he had put away his Blackberry, but now, he was writing in his notebook. Nothing I did seemed to bring his attention back around to the seminar. So, I changed my tactic. I asked everyone buddy up and work together in threes, to practice pitching their company after engaging in small talk as people do.

I watched from the side and noticed that he was electric when it was his time to pitch. He was animated. He was engaging. But when it was time to listen, he became completely distracted, bored and somewhat disengaged from his conversation partners.

When I spoke with his group about their exchange with one another, I encouraged them all to discuss how it was engaging with each other. I specifically asked the other two how it was when they were talking with the young, attractive man. They both sheepishly admitted that they felt like he was disinterested, bored and only cared about his own message and not about theirs.
I asked if he felt if any of this behavior might impact his sales and his closing ratio? He said that he had ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and that he had been told that he wasn’t a good listener. He knew that it was impacting his relationships and his work but he still didn’t know how to change or improve that. Knowing that a person has difficulty with staying focused in conversations is the first part to correcting it. I shared with him one way to stay focused is to focus on the person to make sure they’re comfortable in conversation. Making sure that you’re physically mirroring them is one way to make them comfortable, and remaining good eye contact is another. Asking questions to further the conversation will allow them to feel like you’re engaged in the conversation and finally remaining eye ball to eye ball eye contact is essential. I shared with them that there is and eye “glare” which tells the person, “hurry up so I can talk” or there is the soft eye, that says, “I’m interested in you.” Practicing these skills in the mirror at home will help in the real world. But yet, he does have a point. I have worked with clients whose mind wanders off so quick that it is really uncomfortable. So, I called a friend of mine, Dr. Rex Birkmire of Birkmire Behavioral Health in Winter Park to ask him if ADD can cause a person to lose focus in a conversation and here is what he said: “The answer is yes. ADD does cause people to lose focus and often interrupt . The entry to the ADD mind is often an unfiltered mind with numerous distractions from inside and out. As a result their consciousness is flooded with information and distractions that result in poor focus, poor concentration, poor listening skills, poor memory and finally interrupting . Medications often help the brain to focus better so one is able to listen as well as remember conversations, and finally allows the listener to have enough focus and concentration to remember what they want to say with out having to interrupt the other person.” In today’s world with daily information overload, it seems like everyone suffers from a little ADD. Taking care of kids, a house, a job, maintenance on the cars, career growth, vacations, pets, etc.. its overwhelming for most people! But for a person who does have a different brain chemistry which interferes with every day life, then they just can’t keep up. There are many alternatives to curing or managing ADD including homeopathic health remedies, supplements, and exercise. If its getting in the way of your every day life, then it’s time to take charge and investigate it to see what you can do to ensure that you’re able to engage in relationships at full capacity. Here are a few quotes from some great Communicators
When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen. Ernest Hemingway
"It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much." --Yogi Berra "Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery."
-- Joyce Brothers "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."
--- Winston Churchill Amen to that!!! So lets shut those mouths and give others their fair share! After all, they deserve to have some fun too!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Meeting a Gubernatorial Candidate from the Great State of Virginia!

Yesterday, my friend Angie Haddock told me she was going to a democratic fundraiser that her father in law Ed Haddock, the owner/founder of Full Sail in Winter Park, FL, John Morgan, the founder of Morgan & Morgan, and a few others, were putting on for Terry McAuliffe, the former DNC chair and best friend of Bill Clinton. I wasn’t going because it was democratic, because I usually tend to vote for the person who I feel will be most effective leading.

I went primarily to support my friend Angie and to meet people in my home town. And meet I did! I met so many amazingly nice people who were so interesting and fun!

When Ed Haddock got up to introduce his old friend Terry was when I knew we were in for a treat. Ed is an incredibly charming distinguished. speaker and person, with a quick wit and fun story or two, told about his long time relationship Terry and with Virginia. His own father was Mayor of Richmond so he grew up with southern roots.

When Terry took the floor, he was like an electric charger that brings the electricity up in the room about 10x. . He’s a go getter, ambitious and says what he feels. He’s passionate about Virginia and about creating jobs for the people who are suffering there. He shared stories of some communities that actually have big and great jobs available but they’re unable to find anyone who can actually pass the drug test! So, we heard many stories of the traffic congestion on the beltway around Virginia, about the difficulties of commerce and how he’s gotten the support of big named Republicans because he’s Pro business!

There is hardly any way to resist the message the Terry is espousing! He’s dynamic, passionate and as John Morgan calls him, a “force of nature”. That’s absolutely true. Listening to him, it’s easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm and you just absolutely believe that Terry CAN and WILL fix the problems! Then, you start thinking, wow.. I’d really like to work on that campaign.. because he really stands for something great! This was honestly the first and only time that I ever thought about going back to Virginia after leaving in 1993!

I felt great to get to be in the presence of what I felt was a really strong leader and I enjoyed hearing his ideas and his passion for helping people all over his state. I was curious and gathered, that he’d probably be open to a higher office in the future, if the opportunity arose.

Terry McAuliffe, a moderate democratic candidate for Governor is the real deal. I won’t be voting because I don’t live there.. but if I did, I’d be voting for him!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Plugging into Positive Stuff

Oh my gosh.. I just wrote a whole blog and then my BATTERY Died! Yep.. right before I was SAVING it! So… now it’s 10 34, and way past my bed time so in a nut shell.. here it is!!!

Great call today with the BTS gals. On weight and health.. check us out.. you’ll totally learn and get pumped!!!

I’m keeping things positive and cool things are happening. People are asking me who I’m reading (www.beyondthestuff.com!!!) and what they can do to stay the same way. Very cool.

Another gal who is in the hospital shared that my message was the ONLY positive thing she’d heard all week long.. and she thanked me.. that was really a great experience for sure!

I’m twittering lots of positive stuff, and taking OFF anyone who is reporting on the news. I don’t want to know about companies closings and lay offs. I’d rather talk about NEW opportunities for those people and how their lives are about to change.. ultimately for good!

Many “services” have been offered to me to help me with my upcoming book on our journey with SPD, ADHD and Atypical Autism. So when I mentioned last week I’m praying for financial abundance, I’m getting it, although not in cash at this point, but definitely lots of value!

Kelly reengineered my “talk” from “I need to pay bills” to “my bills will be paid on time and will get paid!” It’s much more empowering to claim with all certainty that the bills WILL get paid!! “My bills WILL get paid. My bills WILL get paid. My bills WILL Get paid”. I don’t have to know how or when or where, but they WILL get paid! Kelly is certain of it!

I’m starting a 30 day test of faith for a healing from ADHD in our home. My son is still having challenges so for the next 30 days, we’re reading healing scriptures and applying the same talk to Jeremy that is about him being a FOCUSED, OBEDIENT, compliant and an outstanding student with great behavior. We’ll start those affirmations in the morning and I will be recording the outcome.

So that’s what’s going on in a nutshell. I’ve been getting to bed earlier and waking up earlier which has been nice. I’m still plugging away at the gym and am still doing pretty well there. I’m grateful for the peace that I feel and have had in my home and am grateful that I’m so abundantly blessed with friends!!!

I will report next week on the updates of what I hope will be miracles that have taken place!!! Please send me your positive energy, and your prayers.. and I’ll send you mine!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chose what Messages You Listen to!

I have had it! I have made my home a NO NEWS ZONE! I’m not going down that path any more. I’ve also decided NOT to read the front of YAHOO anymore because it’s all of the news of doom and gloom and I have CUT MYSELF OFF from all that is negative. As a matter of fact, if you’re a friend or family in my life and start to talk about the economy and anything related to that, then I will politely say, “it’s not for me” and I’ll change the topic and move on.

I feel like I’m putting on an armor every day. I’m gearing up for battle. Every single day going into the world is like getting attacked by vicious bad energy and negativity, so I am now spending more and more time reading positive things and spending more time with my journal and in the quiet space of my home.

I’ve now announced on through TWITTER that I will no longer follow any bloggers/ or twitter users who are not espousing goodness and positive energy and stories. One guy whose name has something about making BIG money, is only reporting how many companies are closing and how many people are out of work. So I announced to all of the 75 people who are now following me.. most of who I don’t know, that if they don’t stand UP and be a leader now, then I will STOP following them! I’ve blocked a few people whose name indicates they’re big $ makers when in reality they’re following everyone else and not a leader at all.

I’m also finding some really great people who are staying positive and moving forward in spite of what else is going on around them. This is the person who will excel in this environment.. the one who knows where they’re going and has the ability to get others along with them.
This morning, my son and I were riding our bikes to school. He’s in second grade and when we got nearer to school I heard a girl call his name over and over. He told me who it was and said she’s always chasing him. HE didn’t even STOP to take a look around to see who it was. He noticed it but didn’t change HIS course of action which was to zoom as fast as he could to the school, park his bike, and get inside so he could see his buddies. No girl was going to distract HIM from doing what he wanted to do. Once he parked his bike he RAN inside, where I found him stomping on the feet of one of his buddies and messing with the boys. So for HIM, it was important to be with the kids and having HIS kind of fun. Nothing else, not even a cute blonde girl, would distract him!

Then, I saw a mom sitting on the ground with the kids, basically just having fun with the kids.. and she was pointing to every child who had Velcro on their shoes instead of laces. She was calling them CHEATER, CHEATER, CHEATER! When she called out MY SON and called him a CHEATER, I quickly responded… NOPE! In our house.. it’s called AN ANSWER TO PRAYER! She laughed!

But.. why should we succumb to HER labels? Just because SHE feels that wearing Velcro isn’t a wise choice, doesn’t mean that we have to accept that negative label she tried to put on my SON. I deflected her comment and turned it around to a joke but let her know.. NOT EVERYONE IS THE SAME.

I see how important it is to chose what filters we allow in our brains. I see how important it is to keep the RIGHT messages coming in so we don’t start altering our behavior to match everyone else who seems to be just looking at WHAT they’re seeing instead of WHERE they want to go.

Make a choice, and then set up your army around you. Get good music, positive friends and plug into people who are excited about the opportunities we have right now.

It’s your choice. Make it count!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Get Under the Current to find your Miracle

Can you hear it? Can you feel it? Can you sense that there is an electrical current running through our brains? I sense it on the news, I sense it at the stores and wherever people gather, their brains are racing, full of anxiety and strife.

It makes sense. Our news people are feeding us current statistics over and over and over, and on top of the lay offs are the presidential mistakes of selecting “leaders” who have chosen to not BE leaders and do unethical things with their money.. by not paying taxes. Just hearing that story of how they think they’re privileged and can get away with something that the rest of us would be investigated for is enough to anger anyone with common sense. Even President Obama was angered and felt taken advantage of by this scenario. Blah blah blah blah.... ENOUGH!

So how can we live in a place of harmony and where everything is fine and flowing as it should and how can we get that money flowing back in the economy again?

We need to be refueled by something greater than the people on the news, and by someone greater than ourselves. We need to all stop and take some time every morning, to plug into the universal divine one who is able to see what we can not, is able to create miracles when we see no way, and is able to mastermind events without our knowledge. From the beginning of time, people have used their prayer, thought and belief to determine great outcomes and the great leaders of our world have called upon the people to have faith.

How can we develop that faith for our business though when the well is dry? How can we believe things can get better when everyone everywhere is talking like we’re going down the tubes and people are holding on so tight to their money that it’s making their fingers bleed?

By letting go! If you just put your computer down, and go sit on your couch and get quiet and tap into your spiritual mind for a few minutes, you’ll see what I mean. Ask to hear something! Ask for answers! Believe that God will provide you with a source of strength greater than your own!

When you sit and get quiet and just breathe and then let God speak to you. I’ve done this and what comes is that ALL that is important, and I mean ALL that is important… is that you remain in LOVE. That means, love your family, love your friends, love your job and love what you’re doing. You’ll soon find that the bills don’t matter as much, that the cars and the fancy clothes aren’t the priority, and even without them, or with them, you’re still the same person.

I believe that we can and should all take some time to connect with that amazing universal force that I know as God and to ask Him for wisdom and guidance.. for our family, for our kids and marriages, and for our businesses.

Our country needs a miracle right now. And we’ve all witnessed miracles. As one that knew many people who should have been in the World Trade Center on 9/11/01 and just HAPPENENED to be late or not go that day.. was simply a miracle! All of us have witnessed the many miracle pictures that swarm the internet like the car that jumped the curb and ended up on the other side of the median. The two pictures told the story. The car was resting peacefully on the other side of the median so the driver and passengers could get out. The other picture told the real story and was taken from a helicopter that showed the several thousand feet drop that the car could have taken had it rested 1 more foot away on the cliff than it did.

Miracles surround us every day. And the more faith we build as a society, the closer we can get to the miracles we need.

I’m spending some quiet time today and I hope that you will consider doing the same. I believe that our miracles.. are on their way!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Branding the New You- To Fit the New Economy!

Times have changed.. and so must you! We all have to evolve to move to the next level, and the new recession has brought us to a whole new place that we must adjust to, and then move beyond.

Adjusting our expectations may be a part of doing business now, but also, there are many things that we can do that can help us adjust. We just need to have a strategy and get and stay prepared for what may or may not come.

Keep focused on moving forward. You need a plan that will keep you in a good mental place every day… for instance, turning off the TV and stop listening to the doom and gloom, and create a future for you and your business that will be of immense value to the market place. You probably need to spend some creative time thinking about your new plan, and you might need to meet with new people to help you create this plan, but be for sure, you need to have a new plan that will keep you motivated to moving forward.

Decide to be a LEADER in your life, business, industry and community. What does that mean to you and how do you do it? It takes effort and practice, but at this time in our economy, people NEED to stand up and decide to be a leader. Don’t live with others’ expectations on you. Be assertive and create answers, and create solutions to the problems that now plaque us. Turn into an investigator, learn the new ropes, study and evolve, so you can pass along this information to others and they can see you as the shining star that you are.

Practice Strength. How do we do that? Well, in the gym, you work out every day to increase your muscle strength, and over time your muscles start to emerge and show up where fat used to take place. So evaluate yourself- mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Where is the fat? Where can you start building strength that will balance your whole life so you can emerge as a stronger individual that will be a leader for others.

Get Current! Get on the social networking sites. If you don’t, you’ll be looking like a complete dinosaur in the next year. Jump on the technical bandwagon and stop saying you’re not technical.. just do it and learn it! Talk about it, spend time doing it. It’s not going away, so engage with it and have fun with it!

Have FUN. If you’re having fun, then other people will have fun around you. Spend time getting out of the box, and getting creative and learning new things. The new economy is forcing people to go in new directions so be excited about it, and create new opportunities for yourselves and others. Think about new ideas that will draw people to you and your organization, offer fun times and offer sources of learning. People will engage with you personally and professionally, if you’re offering to take their mind off of things for a while

This new economy is really an exciting time! But you have to decide to do it, and then keep focused on a path that will allow yourself to grow and change and show yourself as a leader. It can end up being, the best time of your life if you let it, and not your worst, as so many people are seeing it now.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Being a Leader in Difficult Times

This morning I was at the YMCA and admiring some cute work out gear that a couple of the gals were selling. I stopped to talk with them and asked how they got into this work. They told me they were selling the clothes for another gal who imports the line from Isreal, Brazil and all over the world. Then I told them that the clothes were so cute, but they just weren’t in the “budget” right now!

Did that strike up a conversation! One of the women started complaining about being on a budget… I think for the first time in her life. Her husband keeps asking her where the money is going and she said, “groceries”. She didn’t have a budget before so she hasn’t curbed her spending.. and it was frustrating to the husband.

At that moment, she and I both said that everyone is having to cut down now.. and that everyone is having to change their habits. It was also a moment that I could have chimed in some inspirational quote, a piece of faith or cast a vision for the future, that isn’t the doom and gloom that the TV personalities are sharing, but a vision of hope, that we will be fine and we will survive the hard work we will put in to get us out of this recession.

So this morning, I’m searching for the perfect quote to memorize and share with those who I come in contact with throughout my days. And here are a few:

"It is time for us all to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever - the one who recognizes the challenge and does something about it." Vince Lombardi

Tony Dorsett said:To succeed... you need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you.
Henry Kaiser said: “Trouble is only opportunity in work clothes.”
Then after I say the quote.. I’ll listen to my own words, and then go put it to action! This is how we stay a leader, in difficult times!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Blog from Jamie Miles on FACEBOOK

“Do I look old?”
Planning to venture into today’s media world, I remembered a high school friend, vivacious, fun-loving Mary Gardner. Television, radio, author; she’s a mass communication maven. Wanting to tap her vast knowledge, we sat down for coffee. A lot has changed about communicating since I’ve been in the business world, but now there is one undeniable common denominator. The Internet. I needed help wading into the vast waters of the Net without becoming tangled. As Mary talked, I took notes, sighed and scratched my head. Web sites, blogs, LinkedIn, EzineArticles, Twitter, change my bio. Did I even have a bio?
“And of course, “Facebook,” Mary mentioned, almost as an afterthought. At this point, my head was spinning and when my head spins I tend to say really stupid things, such as, “Facebook. I hear lots about it, but won’t there be something else in six months?”
Mary stared. “You’re not on Facebook?” No, I whispered, suddenly feeling very, very – I don’t know like a dog taking the most pleasant nap in the sunshine — on his master’s $11,000 Chippendale chair. A very happy hound was he, until his master came through the door cloaked by super-stealth capabilities. Busted; the master staring down upon his beloved dog with such disappointment. Mary had that look. “Jamie, if you’re not on Facebook, people will think you are old?” Think that I’m old? This was bad.
For to be thought old is much worse than to be called old. If someone calls you old to your face, either they are jesting, a cranky sort or believe you are merely acting old and can surely snap out of it. But to be silently considered old; the thinker believes you are beyond the reaches of Botox, boot camp workouts and biofeedback.
I procrastinated. Well, I started working on some of her suggestions. A Web site, a blog, tried to Twitter. It was just the Facebook thing.
Then a friend’s email invited me to join. Now to turn down an invitation would be rude, and though I might be thought old, it would be far worse to be thought rude. So I signed on with the Facebook Nation.
WOW. How long has this party been going on? Within 24 hours, I’d become “friends” with long lost elementary school chums, sorority sisters, missionary friends in Africa, the girl (now woman) who braved cheerleading tryouts by my side and dragged me on my first head-over-heels steel roller coaster; along with the 14 year-old daughter of my dearest college friend.
Who said you can’t teach a slightly-aging dog new tricks? Am I old? Just look at my face…book. (That was just a rhetorical question, not to prompt any posts on such.)

Checkout Mary’s Web site; http://marygardner.com/

Try Marketing from your Compassionate Side

I just spent a great branding consulting session with an attorney I coach in NYC. He works in the financial industry and told me that his clients have been hit with the recession. One of his clients, a woman who lives in a 5 million dollar house, is lamenting over the fact that she’s having to alter her lifestyle and it’s become depressing for her. She’s having a difficult time keeping up and things seem to be crashing in on her.

We discussed that as an attorney, he has the privilege of hearing about people’s personal lives, and is able to be a comfort to them. My client is a father, a husband, and went through 9/11 in NYC years ago, and has seen the ebbs and flows of life. At that point, I pointed out to him, that THIS is the new way of marketing his services!

We discussed him writing a LETTER to his clients, that will share his understanding of the stresses that we, as a society are under. Additionally, he will share that he’s been through many difficult things in life, such as 9/11 and has been able to experience, that challenges can sometimes trip us for a while, but that things always come back. Maybe not immediately, but eventually, they do come back.

I encouraged him to step up now and to be a strength to his clients, and to share with him that they WILL be fine and they will make it. Then, on a personalized marketing letter, he’ll share the things that he can do for them that will prepare them to go through this recession with the comfort of knowing they are doing all they can to protect their current assets. We listed them – things like readjusting the budget, reallocating funds, refinancing their house, and that he can and will work with their financial advisors, accountants and the banks if necessary.

By coming from a place of strength, and offering to be a source of comfort to his clients now, he’s giving them something other than excellent customer service. He’s giving them peace of mind during a very turbulent time.

Marketing yourself now means that you HAVE to come across as a LEADER. You must share your belief in our country, in your industry and in your service to your customers. People NEED someone to cling to now, someone who is going to tell them that things WILL be alright and that they will survive and thrive.

Try sharing your heart and be compassionate. More than likely, your clients, will open up, and share theirs with you as well. And probably, will trust enough, to open their wallets too!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Marketing The NEW Way!

News Flash! Things are NOT business as usual!

My friends who go to networking events are sharing with me that their networking groups are up by a ton! My friend Tim who started COFFEEVENT on meetup.com, a networking group around Orlando told me that the numbers are up 55% since December. Wow! Way to go Tim! It’s a great service you’re providing.

People have obviously jumped in and are not taking the recession sitting down. They realize that their long time customers aren’t buying the volume that they were or have cut down entirely, and are now out looking for new customers. Many are adding new services or adding something new and unique to their offerings, and are putting in longer hours and offering better customer service than ever.

I read recently that if you want to be noticed, that your product or service really has to be something out of the ordinary, and do what others won’t. Businesses that are growing, are answering a need in the marketplace and not requiring their customers to buy in large quantities, and the old rules aren’t necessarily applying to today. Just take a trip to the mall and realize that so many businesses are going out of business so the ones that are surviving are doing something unique, new or different.

No one can afford to be the same as usual anymore.

Still, people are buying. If you take a trip out to Disney World or Universal, people are still partying and enjoying life. Perhaps many of the people pre-purchased these vacations like a lot of the experts said, or maybe they just needed a break from the constant stress that now surrounds each of us with the financial woes of our country.

Businesses are now spending more money on marketing and that’s where we are able to help. We’re now sending out mailings for numerous businesses and helping them be seen over all of the others.

Bartering is also a great new avenue that people are tapping into. Ask yourself, what services can you barter? This is the time to FIND something, because if things continue, it might come in handy to have something valuable to barter. Check out Craigs list to see the many people who are bartering services and products.

For those of you who are finding business in new and unique places.. way to go. Drop a note and let me know where you’re finding it and what you’re doing that’s new and unique.

Don’t take this recession sitting down. Don’t roll over and play dead! Get in the game, be seen and get excited. Our creativity can flow when we absolutely HAVE to come up with a new solution!

If you need a jump start on your creativity, a great book is Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Or check ezinearticles.com on how to jump start your creativity!

Get those juices flowing…and who knows.. you might strike gold!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Expressing a Positive Attitude When the Well is Dry

Every where I turn, people are talking about the recession… and comparing this to the Great Depression of the 30s. There is talk about the price of gas returning this summer to an all time high and the news continues to report lay offs by major companies. One peak at the front of Yahoo and there are announcements of numerous stores that are in the process of filing Chapter 11 and going down the tubes. Several people I know are hunting drastically for a job and finding nothing because of all of the hiring freezes, and people that I know where beautiful stay at home moms are now working 3 jobs.

While I’m no different, I’m a bit fortunate in a way, that I’m an entrepreneur and don’t own a store front. That means, I don’t have to be committed to selling pools because I can quickly hang up a new “sign” on my website, and print up new free cards at VISTA PRINT, and transform into something new every day if I wanted. Of course the whole process of sales and marketing takes time, so that wouldn’t be wise, but I have definitely added to my services over the past few months. We’ve added newsletter services, direct mailings and marketing pieces, and are helping people get up to speed on social networking sites. Wherever there is a need, we’ll fill it. I have an arsenal of professionals just waiting to get to work.. and I’m out there promoting them.

Meanwhile, that process in between the marketing time and the sale, can be a bit frustrating. You throw a ton of stuff out there and promote, promote, promote, hoping to get a sale. And part of why a person will start work with someone new, is because they like their tenacity, their confidence in their product and they feel like they’re the “best man for the job”. They also pick up on their attitude, and if that attitude suggests that the well is dry, and that there is an air of desperation in the air, the buyer WILL go elsewhere.

So how does a person do it? When they’re marketing their law service or their accounting service and need and want to attract customers, how do they stay fresh and positive and confident that they ARE the best person for the job.

There are several tips that I have been following and am encouraging those that I speak with to follow as well.

1. Turn off the news. You don’t need to know it to promote your products and services.
2. Hang around positive people! Seek them out and make a coffee date with them.
3. Drag out the motivational books. There were tons of people who became millionaires during the depression, because they did what others were not willing to do. By doing a bit of research, I found that there were lots of people who did make money during the depression, through investments, and liquefying companies etc.
4. Prepare for the worst. Just like families in California have a plan in the event of an earth quake and those of us in hurricane states have a plan in the event of a hurricane, have a plan for what could happen.
A. Save some Cash- at least a few thousand $ and keep it hidden.
B. Have some skill that people will want to barter… just in case we get to the point where you barter for everything.
C. Keep learning, because there just might be the BIG idea lurking right around the corner that might make you your million!
5. Expect the best! Live in gratitude every day. Be thankful for what you have – your health, your friends, your home, and the little things. Our perspective needs to change a bit, and our expectations, but we can adjust and find the good in all of it.

We’re going to be fine! We’re a strong country! We’re survivors and we’re pioneers! Let’s get out there and make it happen!!

Keeping it real.. every day!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Old Man and the Dog
By Catherine Moore

"Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!" My father yelled at me. "Can't you do anything right?"

Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn't prepared for another battle. "I saw the car, Dad. Please don't yell at me when I'm driving."

My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt. Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts. Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil.

What could I do about him? Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon. He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his prowess. The years marched on relentlessly.

The first time he couldn't lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn't do something he had done as a younger man.

Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing. At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived. But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately refused to follow doctor's orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.

My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust. Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue. Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad's troubled mind.

But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it. The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered in vain. Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, "I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article."

I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog. I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world's aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed. Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hipbones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly. I pointed to the dog. "Can you tell me about him?" The officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement. "He's a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him. That was two weeks ago and we've heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow." He gestured helplessly. As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. "You mean you're going to kill him?" "Ma'am," he said gently, "that's our policy. We don't have room for every unclaimed dog." I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. "I'll take him," I said.

I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch. "Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!" I said excitedly. Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. "If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don't want it" Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house. Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples. "You'd better get used to him, Dad. He's staying!" Dad ignored me. "Did you hear me, Dad?" I screamed. At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate. We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw. Dad's lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal. It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship.

Dad named the pointer Cheyenne. Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet. Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad's bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne made many friends.

Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne's cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into my father's room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night. Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad's bed. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad's peace of mind.

The morning of Dad's funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.""I've often thanked God for sending that angel," he said.

For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article... Cheyenne 's unexpected appearance at the animal shelter. . ..his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father. . and the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all. Life is too short for drama & petty things, so laugh hard, love truly and forgive quickly. Live While You Are Alive. Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second time. Share this with someone.

Lost time can never be found.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day 2009

I just finished watching President Barak Obama being sworn in. It was an exciting and thrilling thing to see so many people turn out and be so genuinely happy.

What I took away, is that he is going to lead us, and the countries who watch us to really start the movement of being more compassionate, more helpful and less egotistical. He encouraged us to keep moving, to keep fighting and that we will triumph!

I’m really grateful to live in a country where we are free to vote for who we want to lead us. My mother in law is from Cuba, and she’s only been back once in 60 years… because of the tyrant Castro. It’s wonderful to know that here in America we are free to make our own choices and create our own path.

God Bless America… today and always!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Transitioning Work to Fit the Current Need

It used to be when you’d bump into friends and associates and ask how they were, the answer would always be a predictable “Great! How are you?” These days however, the return answer is more likely to be, “well, we’re surviving, or I haven’t sold anything in the past 6 months, or we’re really hurting, or even the worst, I lost my job!”

Today’s environment is rough, but there are things that a person can do differently to meet the new business environment with excitement and anticipation instead of with dread.

First of all, if you already serve a niche market and sell something like my friend Fred who sells pools, possibly think smaller. What other services or additions can you offer to the people who already HAVE pools? If people aren’t going to purchase that big ticket item for another year and you have to survive, what are you going to do to adjust… instead of going down with the ship like so many others? In order to get out of the box, try collaborating with former clients or customers who know you well and can offer a sound piece of advice. In addition to that, jump start this collaborative process by getting together with other companies you currently work with and share business. Between the bulk of you, there are likely to be some services that are not now available that jointly you can offer. Even if this is a short term solution, by getting out of the box and offering a service or product that is needed is a way to save the company from going down completely.

I am currently working with a large scale developer. His name is huge around town and he’s won all sorts of awards for the projects he’s developed. He has an eye towards sophistication and his projects have increased the value of the neighborhoods where they were built. This gentleman was a friend of mine from high school, and it’s been fun to work with him over the past few weeks and see how he has transformed his company because he’s not selling the condos that he built. He shared with me that the banks aren’t lending and current homeowners in his projects are underselling the new condos, so he’s losing money fast. I loved his quote that he shared with me, “that everyone these days is broke on different levels”.

My friend has taken an aggressive move to go back into remodeling and renovation. His new motto is no project is too small. We quickly created a “team” of professionals for him.. of kitchen and bath, insurance adjusters and of architects. He’s now set up to do emails and newsletters along with direct mail to reach the community at large. He’s got to let people know about his services and keep in their minds, just in case an opportunity becomes available.

Another “friend” is an architect… and yes I’ve gotten the two of them together! But because she’s not busy with drawing specs and plans now, she’s returned to pottery! She’ll more than likely do art shows and sell pieces to friends and wherever possible.

Another client is an insurance appraiser. He’s currently doing work, but not making as much $ as he could if he was on his own. So, he’s pursuing going out on his own and has a plan to launch by May.

Another client offers therapy services to customers and has a wide range of clients on a weekly. She’s created a resource chart for them to have at home, and we’re about to launch it nationally. It’s a chart that will tell parents how to deal with the kids at the moment they have a problem. What a brilliant idea, and for about $20 and the ability to get the word out nationally, she’s sure to create a new stream of income and to bring value to so many people in the process.

Most of my clients have gotten off their duffs and are networking like crazy! They’re making their mission known in the world of being available and hope to serve their customers with pleasure.

This new work environment has humbled us a bit. But perhaps we needed it. Were we too big for our britches? Were we getting complacent as a country?

As we move into 2009, the prospect for change and growth looks good. We have to do what we can to keep moving, keep active and keep hungry!

I love this quote by the Dr. Martin Luther King, an appropriate person today, MLK day, and quote during these challenging days: “ The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Lets get out there and show the world what American’s are made of… by surviving one challenge at a time!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Working with a Sense of Calm Today....

Today is the first workday of the year. We had a wonderful and peaceful and relaxing vacation which we spent with family and friends and even got away to the beach for a week. It was incredible to be with good friends, working out and walking along the beach. I couldn’t have asked for a better time.

So our minds were at rest when we got home on Friday and so we felt rejuvenated to attack the house and clean up the Christmas stuff along with cleaning out closets and drawers and clothes. We’ll be taking a trip to the Good Will this week to make a huge deposit!

My mind now feels fresh with no anxiety to hit the work week. I have administrative things to do, marketing things to do along with sales and customer support, but I am excited to get through these things and have a sense of calm and peace about myself and my work day.

I will keep this in mind when things get overwhelming… and this will be a new habit to integrate this year.

Stop, rest and renew… then get back to work!