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;

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, 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 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!