Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Work Life Balance - How do YOU do it?

I'm a workaholic. I admit it. I even blogged about workaholism last month (http://bit.ly/guJEv6). In the past, I've found finding a balance between my work and personal lives difficult.

I'm facing and overcoming that challenge at the moment--but your suggestions and advice are certainly welcome.

You know the old adage When it rains it pours? Well, that's my life right now: it's pouring. Mostly good stuff, but a deluge is still a deluge, right?

Part of my problem is my love for all the "work" things I do: insurance, writing, insurance writing, speaking, insurance seminars, etc. How can I say "no" when someone wants to hire me for a project when I'll absolutely LOVE doing it? Keep in mind that the hiring part involves the forking over over $$ - it's tough to say "no" to that, too.

On the other hand, how can I keep saying "yes" to these wonderful jobs that involve work I love, when the adorable faces of my granddaughters pop into my head--along with the realization that I can to see them whenever I want? Or that I have a handful of friends who would all like to add my name to their dance card? Or that the weather's terrific for walking the dog, or exploring Boston with my daughter, or hanging out with my son, or shopping with my other daughter, or having dinner with Dad, or ...

You get the picture.

How do YOU find a work-life balance?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thank you to Deirdra Eden Coppell for awarding the Taking the Mystery Out blog with the Creative Blog Award.

You can find her blog at: http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/

You can find her website at: http://www.knightess.com/

Saturday, March 19, 2011


photo courtesy of SlocumStudio.com
 I can't emphasize enough how important it is to be generous in the business world.

None of us achieves success operating from within a bubble despite the belief of some people that it's possible. A professional in an online group of which I'm a member insists he's achieved success by NOT being a team player. All I can say is: guess how much more successful he'd be if he played nice, made helpful comments online instead of being demeaning and critical, and worked with others instead of competing against them all the time?

I visited with Matt Medeiros recently, who's a web professional and co-owner of Slocum Studio in Dartmouth, MA. I haven't seem in him about 7 years (although we've "chatted" online and befriended each other on Facebook, Linked In, etc.). When he was in college, he started his own business and I was his first client: the computer he built me lasted for 7 years!

We've been linking to each other's blog posts and websites, retweeting each other, and simply singing each other's praises (sincerely, folks, sincerely). Anyway, we met last week, shared details about our businesses, our plans, and our goals and we decided to partner in our efforts to promote ourselves and our businesses. We will probably also work together to present career development workshops in the future.

LESSON: Never overlook an opportunity to be generous or to help someone out. Cliches are so popular because they are true:  "What goes around comes around."

In what ways can YOU help other people promote themselves? How can promoting other people help you?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What's Your Take on Leadership?


Webster defines leader as a person who has commanding authority or influence. Webster's definition of lead has multiple components but the one most of us accept is to guide along the way.

Clear as mud, like many definitions. Guide, or lead, implies being at the head of a line composed of people who follow. I get that. But who picks the leader? What's the way? Is there only one way? Who gets to determine the way?

Are leaders simply born, knowing intuitively they are chosen to guide the line of followers? Are leaders built, created, developed? And what about followers? Are they born with the follower gene? Can someone be a leader without positioning himself or herself at the front of the line, on the stage, or at the top of the mountain?

When I think of the leaders I've known personally, they seem to step naturally into leadership roles. They're the people who don't hesitate to offer up suggestions or answer questions. They're the people with vision and passion. They're also the people who seldom hesitate to stick their necks out and take risks. Most of the leaders I know elicit three specific emotions from other people: trust, awe, and envy.
Jeffrey Gitomer posted an article on his website recently (http://bit.ly/fp50Mp) and he discusses his take on leadership--which prompted my little rant. He goes into a bit more detail than I do, and has a longer lists of the characteristics of an effective leader.

What's YOUR take on leadership? What qualities do you think define an effective leader? What type of person do you want to follow ... or NOT follow?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What's the Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Attention?

I've always had an issue with business people and businesses that believe customer service is something you provide AFTER a sale, AFTER receiving a complaint, or AFTER a drop in revenues. In fact, I dislike the phrase customer service because it doesn't have a universally accepted meaning--not any more.

What's service anyway? Webster says it's the act of serving. Yep. Clear as mud. Webster then goes on to say that the verb serve means: to be of use, to prove adequate or satisfactory, to wait on customers, to furnish or supply with something needed or desired, to answer the needs of, and several other things.

Kind of milquetoasty, eh? Sure, customer service representatives are of use--some to a greater (or lesser) degree than others. What are the standards? I really hate the description, to prove adequate or satisfactory. I don't know about you, but I don't want to just squeak by in life. I want to excel, be special, make a difference, and stand out. Ordinary is not an adjective I'd like appearing before my name in a sentence. To wait on customers--that's a good one. Some people think that if they smile when a customer walks in the door, their face will break in half. Or that if they answer the phone with a cheery tone of voice the caller will be more inclined to chat or make a request.The remaining examples (to furnish or supply with something needed or desired and to answer the needs of) are more in line with my personal definition simply because they focus on the customer.

As a customer, when I walk into a place of business, I want someone to acknowledge my arrival. If I call on the phone, I'd like a human being to answer. Of course, most businesses and professionals don't care what you or I want or, if they do, they care more about conducting business in a fashion that generates income and is convenient for them. After all, business is business, it's not philanthropy, right? Businesses exist to earn $$ for the people who have ownership interest in them.

I can't help but believe, however, that not a single business (or occupation) would exist if it weren't for the customers and clients who provide the $$ coming in. Shouldn't the people responsible for the INFLUX of money be more important than anyone else? Shouldn't they be appreciated/ Don't the people providing the influx of money deserve ATTENTION instead of SERVICE? And don't they deserve the type of attention they want how and when they want it?

Sure, some customers are a pain in the neck. But you don't have to begin or continue a relationship with any customer (or vendor or supplier, for that matter) if you don't want to. If you want to KEEP a customer, however, you have to treat him or her fairly, kindly, and as if you care. Translation: providing them with attention how and when they want it.

Here's a link to a terrific online article about folks who provide the pinnacle of customer attention--it's called The Secret to Great Customer Service.

What are your thoughts on the subject?