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 ( 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:

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
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, (, 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)