Saturday, September 17, 2011

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Monday, September 5, 2011

A Fire Red Fire of Reality

My little green car and I drove the hour and a half to the office this morning as the sun was showing up. The sky streaked with a haze that reminded me of my youth in Southern California when fires would burn out of control in the canyons: ominous smoky new fire red laying like a thick pillow over the ocean. The drive today was exceptionally long promoting plenty of time for windshield thoughts and reflection. Been a long time, yet just yesterday, since I have seen that kind of nauseous sky.

Right now people are not only losing their homes but all of their possessions. Right here, very close to where I live. Fire is raging in our city and it is not just a fire of flames, it is a fire of reality.

Did you have goals and plans in place when you started your business? What were you working for? Money? Stuff? What did you miss while working so hard to make the money and acquire the stuff? Did you miss ball games? Did you lose your health? Did you lose your marriage? Did you lose friendships? Did you say ‘no’ to family vacations? Did you vacation with your cell phone and computer? Did you have to have a bigger house? Or two?

I don’t know what the people who are losing everything right now are thinking. I can’t imagine watching my home burn to the ground. I know how I felt when I lost my home to a Hurricane. I know that the ‘stuff’ just really doesn’t matter anymore. Last time I went on vacation I didn’t take my computer and put an away message on my phone. Took losing everything to have that reality check.

My little green car now has 197,000 miles on her and we plan on going 50,000 more. I can fit into her just about everything I need. The stuff doesn’t matter anymore. Heartfelt prayers for the people who are fixing to learn this gut wrenching unprovoked lesson is all that is needed.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dear Annmarie, I finished your book...

With nearly 40 years in business, I have never read a book that was so inspiring, and a book that I needed, so much.

I am married to my wife, Sharon, I have a son, Clint, and a daughter, Grace. I run several businesses, and I continually start new businesses for clients. I am going to school working on my MBA, and I am doing a reality show where I help people start the business of their dreams.

Honestly, my life is kind of a mess. Although I appear to clients and friends and the network, that I am in complete control, the truth is that most of the time my head is spinning. Once or twice a month, I spend the day in my office cleaning up the mess. I would like to think that I'm organized, but that only lasts for a few minutes until my next meeting.

I have owned and operated many businesses in my life. My co-producer and the network calls me the "Business Master". But after reading your book, I can see that I have so much work to do on myself and on my businesses.

When I began reading your book, I took a piece of paper and started making notes as I read. I wanted to soak it all in, and make sure I followed your directions to the "T". I read and re-read each page, and made my notes. I cried when I read parts in your book where you struggled. It made me think of the Friday afternoon, when I paid my large crew. Most of them didn't have bank accounts, so I would meet them at the bank and hand out checks. Then I went inside the bank with them, and verified for them so they could cash their checks. When I got home that Friday evening, I sat down to relax and watch a little TV. Suddenly the power went off. I was startled, and asked my wife what happened. She was afraid to tell me, but she finally said, "We didn't have enough money to pay the electric bill". Friday evening, and they just turned off the power! Our 16 yr. old son, stood up, and said, "I'm going to grandma's!"

But after reading a few pages in your book, I soon realized that just tweaking my business would not be enough. I will have to re-build my business. I want you to know that you have given me the best plan.

I have implemented several of your ideas into my daily routine already, but soon I will take a good break from work and spend some time revamping my entire business. This will take some time, because I have such a large structure with several businesses, and the reality show. But over that past 3 years things have really gotten out of control.

I just wanted to tell you that your book, your stories and your suggestions, business tips and ideas have already really helped me. What you put in your book is invaluable to me. And I know over the years many people will feel the same way.

We never know how we will touch people. I know that sometimes I think that the work that I do, doesn't mean much. Many times I feel like giving up on something because I am so overwhelmed.

But I think of President Abraham Lincoln, and how he had 10 major failures and setbacks in 29 years. And then he was elected President Of The United States. What if he had given up somewhere along the line? And even what if he had been successful at any one of the endeavors that he attempted? What if he had won the Senate? What if he had become a Congressmen? He may have stayed there, and made that his career, and we may have never had one of the best Presidents our country has ever had.

I'm not a quitter, and I don't give up. But I do get tired, and I become discouraged.

Annmarie, I want to thank you for taking the time to write your book. For taking the time to write your stories. For taking the time to share your business tips, and thank you for giving me your secrets. I know in time my business...businesses will mean more to me, and will be more valuable because you took the time.

Thank you Annmarie.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lost Satelitte Signal - My Vacationing GPS

LOST SATELITTE SIGNAL. My GPS has been telling me this for two days. The sky is crystal clear, not a puffy white cloud in site and my GPS is LOST. Bad timing for it to be lost as I am on the road. No telling it that however. My GPS is obviously taking a break. It must be tired of figuring out how to send me to wherever it is I demand it to direct me to every day. It is tired of blazing new trails through the middle of the nowhere that can be the vastness of Texas. Or it is just too damn hot.

I haven’t lost my mind, surprisingly. I’ve calmly gone back to paying attention to my surroundings, taking my time, reading road signs, breathing deeply and chatting with God and anyone else who will take my roaming phone calls. I’ve referred back to my dearly departed friend, Mapquest, a couple of times and that has worked out just fine.

In the past I would have lost my mind. Wanted to be frustrated and to see how high I could get my blood pressure. Not anymore. In my past life, I remember chasing delivery trucks down the street while still in a hairnet and apron. I remember being angry at suppliers for events out of their control. I remember passionately yelling at an ex-husband. Or two.

Not anymore. I am no longer that person. When did the switch flip? For the life of me I can’t remember the last time I yelled and thought I was going to spontaneously combust. I like this new person and am glad the old one is long gone. I don’t intend on seeing her again.

Not raising our voices is a good thing. Being calm in the moment is a good thing. Wish I had been brave enough to tell this to the woman at the gas station pump next to me this morning as she was screeching at her three small children from the top of her lungs. She would have reached them on a much deeper level if she had talked to them calmly.

Stop the yelling. It won’t get you anywhere. Neither will my vacationing GPS.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Get the Guts Back!

I was living in a glorious ‘over the garage/pool house’ apartment in Belmont Shores, CA, the coast of Long Beach, with my fun friend Lori. Our home was amazing; full of light, life, great music and great times. Lots of laughter and as much dancing as we could fit in. Lipstick notes plastering the bathroom mirror demanding each other to take care of #1.

Then I vacationed in Tulsa and had a blast in a new place with new people exploring new places. A week after my vacation a man I met there called, “When are you moving to Tulsa?” My perky and energetic 20+ self responded, ‘When are you coming to get me?” This man wasn’t relationship material and I wasn’t interested in him. He was a friend of a fabulous friend.

“Next weekend.”

I had a garage sale. Told my Southern California friends and family I was moving, had a good bye party and left. Moved from the most amazing Southern California coast to God’s Green Country. Within 10 days. Without a second thought or a backward glance and with plenty of spunk. I loved our ‘over the garage/pool house apartment’ and wasn’t running away from anything. In hindsight, it just must have been time.

When do we lose the guts that I had when I dared to let a semi-stranger come to drive me cross country to a new home? When I sold everything until what was left fit in my little car. I couldn’t have been happier at the prospect of a new place, new friends, and new experiences. My energy and enthusiasm, unparalleled, I moved without a place to live, without a job and without any plan B or C. Never occurred to me at the time that I might have needed a backup plan. I don’t even remember if I had any money in the bank.

I just went. The result? Spectacular! Time of my life meeting friends I still have to this day. Not one regret.

Get the guts back. Do something daring with yourself, with your business. Hire someone. Fire someone. Tear down a wall. Open another location. Buy a new company car. Buy a new, huge, fabulous and fresh sign for the front door. Design yourself a new logo and give yourself a new look. Paint something wild.

Be daring. Be grand. Be full of chutzpah. Don’t think. Don’t over analyze. Just get out of your comfort zone. Pretend you are 20+ again and just DO!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Success in the YES

You are challenged this week to walk through your business and look at from your customer’s perspective. How welcoming is your entrance area? How friendly are your employees? What do your floors and walls look like? How much dust is there on your point of sale? How much dust is on the person answering your phones? How fresh and clean is your restroom?

Look objectively and ask yourself if you would use your business.

My current strategy is firmly embedded in ‘no’. ‘No’ to one of my favorite hotels, finally, because I just can’t handle walking through the cloud of cigarette smoke that surrounds the front door. Who decided that was the perfect place to put their smoking area? A strong ‘no’ to the dry cleaner that to is always harried, sloppy and unorganized. No wonder they have repeatedly lost my clothes. Should have said ‘no’ to them a long time ago.

I am saying ‘no’ to what was one of my favorite restaurants. While their food is spectacular, they just can’t bring it to the table with any personality or sincerity. Why am I paying a premium price for food and no service? There are plenty of restaurants with amazing food that I am sure will appreciate my business and they probably have clean restrooms unlike my old favorite.

I am saying ‘yes’ to Nordstrom’s who rocks it with their customer service. I am saying ‘yes’ to the hair dresser who is always on time, offers wine and makes me not only look but feel fabulous; All in a clean, updated and friendly atmosphere. I am saying ‘yes’ to Sprouts because their store is neither a never ending uncomfortable maze nor is it a big, bright and loud box. I am saying ‘yes’ to their simplicity and freshness.

What do you need to do so your customers will continue to say ‘yes’ to you?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Powerful Sweaty Hug

I heard recently that Asians don’t shake hands because they believe it is giving away their power. They politely bow to each other in acknowledgement in deference to respect and admiration.

You’ve got to love the idea of keeping our power for ourselves.

A sweaty friend of mine recently told me of an encounter where he gave his power away. His sweat has never bothered me. He is clean. He doesn’t smell. Hugging him has never been a problem and seriously, we are in Texas, Mother Nature’s oven.

Recently, my friend, in greeting shook someone’s hand. That person, in a position superior to him, immediately wiped their hand on their pants. Oblivious or obvious, unacceptable. The man I know was giving a piece of himself to this other man in kindness, gratitude and acknowledgement. That piece will never come back to him.

My question is how much power do we give away without thinking? In our busy lives, our time and energy is wildly valuable. How many times have you blown off the salesperson the first time they popped in your door with a quick handshake? You could politely say, “I already have the service you offer. Thank you for coming in but you are not needed at this time. ”

Powerful! You CAN say all of that. Just think about how that salesperson isn’t going to be coming in your door once a week to interrupt you now. They aren’t going to have you on their prospect list and be telling their boss they are going to ‘close’ your account in ‘x’ period of time. They aren’t going to be calling you on the phone when you are already talking on one line and have another on hold. You aren’t going to be irritated by the sight of them.

They may ask your permission to come back and visit and in an effort to stay in control you still are required to be honest. Say, “no, please don’t, let me call you if needed” if you mean it or say, “yes, you may come back to visit but I am not going to give you any promises.” They are doing their job and you are running your business.

No one wants to go where they are not wanted. By telling that salesperson what your needs are, up front, like the respectful business owner you are, you are saving your power for your real needs and you are letting your potential vendor save their power for their other customers or for when you do need them.

My friend won’t be giving his power away any more to anyone that might brush him off. He is going to save his handshakes for his customers who adore him and for me who digs his sweaty hugs.