Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Forbes article discusses my personal trifecta

Photo by Renjith Krishnan

I read an article on the Forbes.com blog today that involves three of my passions:  business, writing, and insurance claims.  I'm thinking Apple isn't so happy about my personal windfall, however.

According to the article, Apple was hit by two lawsuits last week alleging that they help advertisers create profiles of their iPhone and iPad users.  The article's author claims that the lawsuits are "essentially copy and paste jobs of a recent Wall Street Journal article" that claimed  approximately one-half of popular smartphone applications transmitted the phone's unique device ID to other companies without users' awareness or consent."  A number of companies that own the involved applications (including Pandora, The Weather Channel, and Dictionary.com) are said to also be named in the lawsuit against Apple, which claims violations of consumer and computer laws.

What, you're wondering, does all this have to do with insurance and writing?  Although you get the connection to business, you think I'm really pushing it with the other two topics.

Well, don't you think that if a business is sued, it's going to notify its insurance company?  Of course it is! And if it doesn't, it definitely should:  insurance policies usually include the cost of defense and attorney fees in coverage for covered losses and claims.  That's one of the major aspects of wonderfulness contained in insurance policies!

Now, as far as writing goes, can't you just see it?  Single women.  Smart.  Attractive.  Being stalked and killed by a sociopathic serial-killer who knows their whereabouts because he's monitoring them via their iPads, iPhones, Smartphones, or Androids?

Okay.  I'll get serious.  (Although I think my story idea is very fine...)

Federal legislation providing consumer protection abounds.  As a business person, it behooves you to know precisely what types of information you are, and are not, permitted to share.  Off the top of my head, I can think of the following legislation that affects most business people:
If you are aware of other legislation we should be aware of, please feel free to share it.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

TIME MANAGEMENT - by guest blogger, Lilliam Brummet

Time Management
Time management is a real biggie for me. There is always so much to do. There is always a new banner ad to design, another radio show needs a promo ad, there’s guests to book on the radio show and outlines for their interviews to create… writing articles for newsletters or blogs… emails popping in every few minutes with a request to provide articles, an interview or networking opportunity. Keeping records of all of this and making sure that everyone has been followed up on, while finding new contacts, new opportunities to reach an audience that has not yet heard of our work – this can eat up a lot of time. I find it can be difficult to let some opportunities pass by, since I would love to do them all but of course, reality sets in and I do realize I cannot do it all.
Part of the struggle with time management is keeping up with the new technologies, each of these takes a little time to become accustomed to. New book releases are the most time constraining tasks that a writer will experience. We need to find patience through this busy time and know that there will be time for writing again soon enough. Besides being patient, keeping good records is essential to ensuring nothing is left behind along the way.
Let me walk you through my day: As soon as my coffee is poured in the morning after breakfast, I am ready for the office. So my day can start at 7 AM and can go to long into the evening. However, I also help my husband run Drum-it’s other endeavors, look after our yard and garden and do most of the household duties. On top of this I have 2 dogs to maintain – so I find myself doing a few hours here, a few hours there … kind of intertwining everything, finding a way to balance it all.

Recordkeeping is the best thing that ever happened to me. Whenever I have queried a media contact, for instance, I'll head over to the Excel file where I'll record brief information on name of the media, the contact, the email/web address and then brief notes to myself in the Notes column - such how we connected and what was said. I use color-coding for easy referral so that I can see at a glance who needs a follow-up, whether a project is completed but not yet published, and so on. Every 3 months or so I go through this file and eliminate all the rows that have no colors (this means that if I have not assigned a color code, there was no response to my query) because I no longer have a need to keep a record of those contacts. At the same time, I'll do any follow-ups that I can. 

Research is key for efficiency in my writing process. I do tons of research, glean the best from it, add my own personal twist and then tweak it to suit the audience the project is intended for. Everything is researched… the content itself, the audience, the publication – their departments – and their staff… then comes the promotion aspects. This way, I have a brief plan of action for each project.

It sounds complicated, but the whole thing takes just a little effort; the outline and record-keeping aspects of a writer's career can make all the difference when it comes to doing things efficiently, effectively, and at a comfortable pace.

~ Written by Lillian Brummet; co-author of Trash Talk, author of Towards Understanding and co-author of Purple Snowflake Marketing (a book promotion guide); host of the Conscious Discussions talk radio show and owner of the Brummet’s Conscious Blog: www.brummet.ca

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Continuing Education for Professionals and Business Owners

  For years, successful businesses have been offering or paying for continuing education as a way to attract and retain employees.  Certain professionals--including those providing health care, real estate brokers, securities brokers, insurance agents, CPAs, and attorneys--are required by law to complete continuing education in order to renew their professional licenses.

Because of the proliferation of senior abuse, most states have enacted legislation that requires professionals who work with seniors to have completed approved programs before claiming to be a senior advisor or professional with expertise in providing advise to seniors.

MBA programs are available online, as are other programs.  If you're thinking about offering or paying for continuing education (CE) for your employees, or if you want to pursue continuing education on your own to advance your career, Business Week posted a good article on September 17th.

One of the best ways to stay ahead of your competition is to outperform them.  There's no better way to do precisely that than to know your business inside and out ... and to keep up with your marketplace, new technology, and the specific details of your industry.  Taking advantage of all the continuing education programs and courses that are offered--in classroom settings, through correspondence courses, and online--is one of the best investments you can make in your career and business.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Taking the Mystery Out of Business is OUT!

Shipping began yesterday for books pre-ordered directly from the publisher.  We expect Taking the Mystery Out of Business to be available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders very soon, however, it is available now at my publisher's website:  http://bit.ly/fKumBJ

Check back here to learn when Taking the Mystery Out of Business is available on the Kindle and iPad.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

TMoB is available for pre-order!

Taking the Mystery Out of Business is now available for pre-order and has its own personal page on my publisher's website!

Like a good mystery novel, the world of business involves drama and suspense, not to mention a never-ending supply of red herrings.  Taking the Mystery out of Business simplifies a complex subject, showing readers how to identify the killer aspects of the business world and dodge bullets that could inflict fatal wounds.

Starting with attitude and covering everything from money management to customer attention, Taking the Mystery Out of Business is a resource for entrepreneurs, employees, and anyone who has questions about the often mysterious world of business.

For more information, to read the first chapter, or to pre-order, CLICK HERE!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

3 Online Business Resources

Have you checked out the business resources on the Internet?  They're all over the place.  Here are three examples.
Entrepreneur.com tackles a variety of subjects, including:
  • Business,
  • Small business,
  • Home-based business,
  • Online business,
  • Starting a business,
  • Money,
  • Sales,
  • Sales & Marketing,
  • Management,
  • Human Resources, and
  • Technology.
It offers business opportunities, entrepreneurial assistance, and a blog.  It gives advice about how to grow your business, offers a variety of videos, and answers questions.

For example, on its Tools and Services page, it offers the following:
  • Find vendors,
  • Business and legal forms,
  • Information about incorporating,
  • Colleges and business schools,
  • Franchises and opportunities, and
  • Business plan tools.

Businesweek is an online magazine that talks about Home, Finance, Technology, Innovation, Management, Small Business, and global business issues.

Its Innovation page has links to blogs about several topics, including branding and media.  Its Management page includes links to jobs, a management IQ blog, and includes pages devoted to business schools, career management, and actual case studies.

WomanOwned.com focuses on women-owned businesses.  It offers a newsletter, provides a variety of information on starting and growing businesses, offers advertising and marketing opportunities to members, and offers a variety of tools on subjects such as Business and Health Insurance, Loans and Federal Money, Websites and E-Commerce, Travel Discounts, etc.

There's a lot of advertising on this site, and you have to sign up to receive a membership, but it includes a lot of links to various resources.

Monday, November 29, 2010

What NOT to do to succeed in business...or professional football

This is an amazing story ... no matter what angle you look at it from.  Your thoughts and comments about 1) the rescued and redeemed dogs, AND 2) why someone might jeopardize his entire future, in addition to his career.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Stress. We all talk about it. We all experience it.

Some of us dwell on it, blaming it for the things we’d like to do but can’t--or the things we don’t want to do but must. Others of us avoid it, refusing to admit it exists, steamrolling through our lives as if we didn’t have a care in the world.

Here’s a clue: neither of those options works well in the long run.

As the owner of three businesses, a person who travels out-of-town at least once a month to either speak or teach, a wife, a mother, a friend, an employer, and a writer--I’m an authority on stress. I’ve learned, however, that no matter how busy a person is, she can always manage her stress. The key is to recognize what causes it.

I can’t tell you what causes your stress; none of us has the same personality and our stress triggers are as different as we are. Sometimes it’s easier to expose our triggers by the symptoms they cause than by the triggers themselves.

Here are a few symptoms:
  • insomnia,
  • crankiness,
  • increase/decrease in appetite,
  • binge eating,
  • weight gain or loss (even just 5 pounds),
  • sleeping and/or napping more than usual,
  • getting caught up in computer games, reading, or other hobbies that allow us to escape our normal lives and activities,
  • being late for work or other appointments,
  • crying easily, and
  • emotional detachment.
If you notice yourself indulging in one or more of these behaviors, evaluate your situation: I’ll bet you’re stressed.

If you're handling excessive stress, find a way to relax--even if for a short time. Go for a walk. Spend a comforting hour with a friend. Visit the gym. Take a day off. Read a good book. Do something that takes you away from the cause of your stress, completely, even if for a short time.

The more stressed you are, the less effective you’ll be on the job and in your personal life. Unfortunately, stress feeds on itself. When things aren’t going the way we think they should, we demand more of ourselves and, as a result, wind up handicapping ourselves. None of us can prevent death, illness, relationship woes, job layoffs, natural disasters, or even bad hair days.

What we can prevent is allowing these situations to consume us to the point that we exhaust our energy and coping mechanisms. The American Institute of Stress (http://www.stress.org/) offers a multitude of information from Job Stress to Stress Scoops and Bulletins. If stress sometimes interferes in your life, check it out!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Publisher NorLightsPress MAKES the Press

The publisher of Taking the Mystery Out of Business made the press today!

For all the details, visit my blog post over at Author Exchange Blog:  http://lindamfaulknertips.blogspot.com/2010/11/looking-for-nonfiction-publisher.html

You can also visit NorLightsPress's website and blog for more information.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Release Date Moved Forward

Just received word that Taking the Mystery Out of Business will be available in December 2010 instead of January 2011!

It's included in my publisher's catalog and now appears on their website.  If you'd like to pre-order via their website rather than waiting until later in December to purchase it from your favorite bookstore or on Amazon or Smashwords, click here.

The Kindle and iPad versions will be available a few weeks after the print and eBooks.

Five Tips About Office Hours

Photo by FreePixels.com
Don't you just hate it when you arrive at the office and a customer's waiting outside the locked door?  You don't even get the chance to visit the restroom or make a pot of coffee!

How about at the end of the day ... don't you just hate it when a customer arrives two minutes before closing?

Well, kids, get used to it.  When your customers see that your office or business hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., they believe you really mean it when you say you're available between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

They also believe the following:
  • You're in business because you want to provide them with a product or service,
  • You'll do your best to help them, and
  • You care.
You know what?  They have a right to believe those things.  How long do businesses and business people last if they don't care about their customers?  What kind of reputations do businesses and business people earn when they're unfriendly, provide lousy service, and care more about themselves than their customers?

Here are 5 tips to help you take care of yourself while also taking care of your customers and meeting their needs:
  1. Under promise and over deliver.  For example, if you're willing to work from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., advertise your office or business hours as being from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Yes, you'll be there from 8 to 5:30, but you don't have to worry about the customers who are waiting outside the door or showing up as you're closing the door.  Saves you frustration AND makes your customer VERY HAPPY when you're not watching the clock or frustrated by his arrival.  Makes him even happier when you announce he's important enough that you don't mind staying past closing.
  2. Schedule your lunch hour so that it doesn't coincide with your customers' lunch hours.  Have you ever gone to the bank during the noon hour?  Isn't it odd that, at the busiest time of the day, you see fewer tellers working than you would if you visited at 9:30 a.m.?  Yes, everyone wants to eat lunch.  If you want your customers to have a more convenient and timely visit during their lunch hours, don't eat lunch when they do.  Be available!
  3. Don't keep changing your office or business hours.  If your current schedule isn't working, do your research.  Ask your clients their preferences.  Ask your employees their preferences.  Figure out what you prefer.  Then figure out what type of schedule will be most beneficial to everyone.  Yes, you and your employees need to make some sacrifices or compromises.  But aren't your customers the reason you're in business?  Aren't they the people paying your salaries?  Don't lose sight of the fact that your customers--and their happiness--is essential to your business success.
  4. Don't take phone calls during client meetings.  If you're meeting with a customer, either during a scheduled appointment or a surprise visit, do not answer the telephone.  Customers want to know you care about them and, when you answer the telephone in the middle of a conversation or meeting, you communicate that someone else is more important.  Always remember that the customer who shows up in person has expended prior thought, time, and money to visit.  The person on the other end of the phone has expended only time.  Besides, it's downright disrespectful.
  5. Be there.  This may seem pretty basic but, if you have posted office or business hours, be there!  Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than arriving at your office between the 9 and 4 you say you're open and finding you gone.  If you absolutely must leave the office/shop/store unattended during regular hours, be respectful enough to post a sign indicating a) when you'll return, and b) an emergency phone number.
Truly caring about your customers, and showing you care, is what sets you apart from your competition.  Of course, if you want to be lumped in with your competition, do the same things they're doing!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Are You Protecting the Personal Data of Your Clients and Customers?

Federal legislation protects certain types of personal data.  The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) - which is also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 - does a number of things.  One of the things it does is require protection of the nonpublic personal information of customers per its Privacy Rule.  Its Safeguards Rule requires businesses meeting the definition of a "financial institution" to write and follow a written security plan to safeguard the nonpublic personal information of customers.  (The definition of "financial institution" in the GLBA includes banks, credit unions, mortgage companies and lenders, insurance companies and agencies, and a host of other businesses you wouldn't normally consider to be financial institutions.  Click here for the definition of "financial institution" in the GLBA.)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), among other things, protects the personal health information of consumers--both in paper and electronic form.  Its Privacy and Security Rules address these issues.

According to an article in TheStar.com, (http://www.thestar.com/business/smartmoney/article/882616--personal-data-at-risk-study-found), a Toronto, Canada publication, many professionals--including doctors, lawyers, employment agencies, and mortgage brokers--were found to have disposed of protected personal information in appropriate ways.  Like in the trash!

Are you respecting, protecting, safeguarding, and disposing of your customers' protected personal information in appropriate ways?

(Photo by Michelle Meiklejohn)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tips for Getting Your Point Across

Whether you're making a PowerPoint presentation or writing a bid, knowing how to get you're point across quickly and succinctly is an absolute must--especially when using bullet points in your written materials.

Copyblogger is one of my favorite blogs and Brian Clark wrote a terrific article titled  Little Known Ways to Write Fascinating Bullet Points.

This is a great blog for business people, bloggers, and writers because it contains a variety of information about sales, marketing, networking, writing, and an endless variety of other topics.

After you've checked it out - let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Why Backing Up Your Computer Files is So Important

Once upon a time, computers lasted for years and years.  Nowadays, they last about five minutes before a newer version is released or...the computer dies.  I've had the most horrible luck with laptops:  two hard drives have crashed in two separate laptops since July 2009.  If it weren't for the fact that I back up my important files on a daily basis, I'd have lost the following information:
  • My current book (yes, the entire manuscript), all publisher's edits, book cover, media kit, and all correspondence between me and the folks at my publishing house.
  • All files related to my other published works, which include a book, hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, and dozens of insurance texts.
  • All my photos (including those of my kids when they were little--I scanned them into the laptop several months ago).
  • My e-mail files and contacts.
  • My mailing lists.
  • All the insurance seminars, courses, and workshops I've written for my education business.
  • All the record keeping files for my education business.
What types of information would YOU lose if the hard drive of your computer or laptop crashed?  Client files?  Bookkeeping files?  Published and unpublished works?  Marketing and advertising graphics?

Do YOU have a backup of your important files?  If not, why not?  It's incredibly easy to back up your files:
  • External hard drives are inexpensive; you can copy important files from your PC or laptop and paste them into an external hard drive.
  • You can purchase software specifically designed to automatically backup files you specify, at times you specify.
  • You can purchase services from vendors who will allow you to automatically backup your files to their online servers.
Here are a few links about the subject:
Yes, sitting here (at this very moment) using my husband's computer while he is replacing the hard drive in my laptop is a pain in the neck.  (And in the eyeballs, too, because the print on his computer is MUCH smaller than I'd like it to be.)  But I've got my external hard drive plugged into his PC and I'm able to do precisely what I need to do, with the files I backed up, until tomorrow when I can use my laptop again.

What would I be doing if I hadn't backed up my files?  What would YOU be doing if you lost all your files?

(photo by BillyFoto)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Remaining Professional in the Face of Rudeness

Our customers may not always be right...but they are the source of our income.

So, what do you do when your customers make appointments with you and then stand you up, arrive early, or arrive late?  How can you prevent other customers from being inconvenienced when your schedule changes because of the whims of a select few?

Here are a few tips:
  • Allow 90 minutes between appointments.
  • If someone is late, call him to confirm if he's on his way or if he'd like to reschedule.
  • If someone is early and you're free--see him and get ahead of your game.
  • If someone is early and you're not free--tell him  you're not free and ask if he'd prefer to wait or reschedule.
In ALL cases where Customer A's tardiness, earliness, or forgetfulness messes with your schedule to the point  it will negatively affect Customer B, be sure to explain to Customer A that:
  1. You'd like to accommodate his new time frame but you can't because...
  2. Customer B has an appointment with you and it wouldn't be fair to Customer B to infringe upon time that he has scheduled with you but that you...
  3. Are happy to reschedule.
Most people, when they are tactfully reminded that they are infringing on the rights and time of other people, tend to either wait or reschedule.  That not only prevents you from harming your relationships your customers it also keeps you sane!

What tips do YOU have to share?

(Photo by Salvatore Vuono)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What are the 3 Most Frustrating Things?

Some of us love our jobs, some of us hate our jobs, and the rest of us just accept them.  Each of us, however, faces challenges and irritations on the job.

What frustrates you?  What makes you grind your teeth?  What makes you wish you could be king or queen for a day and simply CHANGE things?

Go on...now that you're thinking about it, why don't you share the 3 most frustrating things about the business world.

If you make a comment, your name will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of Taking the Mystery Out of Business.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Book Cover Underway

Saw the mockup of the book cover today.  It's going to be AWESOME!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Free Business Tips

You'll notice in the sidebar on the right side of the blog that I'm offering free business tips and advice to individuals who provde me with their e-mail addresses.

These articles will not only provide you with valuable information, they'll give you a glimpse of the kind of information that will be contained in Taking the Mystery Out of Business.

I hope you'll find my tips and advice beneficial.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Taking the Mystery Out of Business

My new non-fiction book, Taking the Mystery Out of Business, is currently in production and should be released--depending upon format and channel--between December 30, 2010 and January 10, 2011.

Taking the Mystery Out of Business will be available as a trade paperback from my publisher, NorLightsPress.com, at several online retailers including Amazon, and in bookstores.  If you'd like to purchase your copy of Taking the Mystery Out of Business from your favorite bookstore, they will be able to order it from Ingram Books.

Check back for more details, which will be appearing soon and on a regular basis:
  • Book blurb
  • Reviews
  • Book cover
  • Book signings
  • Appearances
  • Workshops
If you are interested in scheduling a book signing, workshop, or other appearance, please e-mail me directly at linda@lindafaulkner.com.

Best wishes,