Thursday, October 8, 2015

Top 5 Easiest Ways to Say Thank You in Business

What a dumb blog post, right?

Every 3 year old knows how to say, "Thank you." Pfffftt! We're all as polite as Emily Post.

Let's get right down to where the rubber meets the road on this topic. Everyone knows how to say those two magic words, but does everyone actually do it? Nah, especially in business relationships. I also miss opportunities sometimes. Showing gratitude is not just for best friends and family. It's a business thing too. 

Everyone is super busy with little time for creative thinking and planning, especially at work. In fact, we get so busy we forget that businesses and careers are built on relationships. 

As I list the 5 easiest ways to say thank you, for convenience I'm going to refer to your business friend as "someone". I like simplicity, don't you?

I'll start with the hardest one first. Ahem. 

  1. Look someone in the eyes, and say, "Thank you." Go ahead and laugh, but do you do it? Or, do you avoid it because it feels uncomfortable? The trick is to be specific and timely. For example, "Jeremy, thank you for helping me get all those tables set up for the auction dinner. You're the best!"
  2. Call someone on your handy dandy cell phone, which is in your hand 24/7, and say, "Thank you." Not everyone likes gushy. Again, be specific and keep it short and simple. "Kelly, thank you for the introduction to Mrs. Smithwick. I've wanted to meet her for a long time, and you made it happen." That's all.
  3. When you're buying groceries, select one extra something delish and take that yummy thing to someone. Is it a pie, a candy bar, a flower, a bag of biscuits with butter? Why not? "Thank you, Jonathan. You made my day when you handled that angry customer../
  4. Write a thank you note to someone. If you send a pre-printed card and only sign your name, I am calling the Police. It's not necessary to write a 500 word article. 
  5. Give someone $10,000. (just kiddin') Unless, of course, you want to send that to me. Alternatively, give someone a $10 gift card to anywhere. Anywhere is a great place when it's free.
In the business world, people are still people. People like to be appreciated. So, there. I bet I can say, "Thank you" to more people than you. Go!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

There's just something about 250 Magic Road

Back in the day the old New Hope Church practically shook with joyous singing every Sunday for hours on end. Inside the modest building, handmade pews of solid pine were lined up in rows and ragged hymnals were passed around, shared by steady hands when the crowd outnumbered the hymnals. 

The congregation grew until the old church could no longer hold all of Sunday's best, and a new church was built a few miles away. I don't know when the last sermon was preached here, but I've imagined it was a proud and happy day as the pastor looked forward to a bigger sanctuary. I know the church was abandoned in the late 70's because I became a tiny bit obsessed with it. At that time I lived a couple of miles away from this property and would often turn down the shady, dirt road just to ride by the church and let my imagination run wild on the potential of the property.

I was fairly convinced of what a lovely and perfect little cottage it could be if renovated. I remember that in my imagination I built a sleeping loft toward the back and installed beautiful, shiny pine floors. But, it was not to be at that time.

In the meantime the one acre parcel, including the church, was purchased by Jay and Dorothy Harwood, and in 1984 they built their forever home there near the church. Jay was a 20 year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and was smart, witty and kind. He spent many hours in the former church, having converted it to a spacious workshop and garage where he tinkered with trucks, motorcycles and other things that caught his interest. Many times I saw Dot sitting in the yard to watch Jay work on his projects. 

Jay and Dot lived at 250 Magic  Road the rest of their lives and were dear friends to everyone in our rural neighborhood.  We had purchased a farm and built a home further down Magic Road, so we were were neighbors. Eventually, the property was put on the market, and we bought it. We didn't need it, but as it had so many years before, the old church called my name. 

Here's the home Jay and Dot built. It's 3 S's: solid, simple and sweet. We've added a new roof, new flooring, fresh paint and a few other things. It's cute as a button and located just a few hundred feet off a paved highway on quiet Magic Road. Country living at it's best.

After owning for several years, we have put the property up for sale because we know there is a family looking for just such a place. We've rented out the house, and it's been well maintained. I've enjoyed using the church for storage, working on projects and occasional sales of vintage pieces I hunt and gather. That sweet old church deserves more, don't you think?

So, here she is, 250 Magic Road. There's just something about it, and I think it's calling someone's name. If it's you, here's where you can learn more about it:
 250 Magic Road, Boston, GA

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

It's a good lesson for these hurried times

Recently I was reminded how easy it is to ignore an opportunity to have a generous spirit.

I was checking out in a home improvement store, and my transaction was a little complex. I needed to arrange to pay for merchandise that was located in another store in a nearby town + arrange to have my contractor approved to pick it up.

Christina was my cashier. Here's how good she is: She smiled and told me it would be no trouble at all as she took all the information. Other customers began to line up behind me, and she was the only cashier in that area at that moment. She immediately acknowledged the other customers, telling them it would take just a few minutes, she called in assistance to open another register and proceeded with helping me. And, she smiled.  I made sure to thank her for her great service. I left the store feeling good.

Well, maybe not that good! Ha!

After I loaded my purchases in my car I remembered something else I was supposed to buy, so I went back inside, quickly found what I needed and got in line in another area with a different cashier. As I approached I spoke to her and barely got a glance. She looked unhappy. To he honest she looked downright miserable. I began to feel that little angst of frustration bubbling within me, especially since I had just enjoyed wonderful service at the same store.

Suddenly I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. I decided to see what she would do with another chance. I said, "Are you feeling badly today?" She said, "Yes, I've just called my doctor because I'm having severe leg pains and it hasn't been long since I was in the hospital with blood clots. I know I have another one. I'm waiting to hear back from the doctor's office."

Here she was, working while standing on a concrete floor and worried sick about having a blood clot. Of course I expressed concern, wished her well and told her I would say a prayer that all will be well.

I wanted to kick myself for so quickly becoming frustrated about her attitude! Although I'm a raving fan of great service where I shop, I am reminded that unfriendly service does not always mean what it appears. People we encounter are sometimes carrying a heavy burden, and they are understandably distracted.

It's a good lesson to be learned. Choosing a generous spirit when at all possible is a mighty good thing. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Control freaks on the loose!

My friend, Eliza, is full of creative inspiration and just the right dose of sarcasm to keep a conversation lively. Last week she shared an article with me that I loved. She knew I would, of course, because the article featured 11 of the best customer service stories, and customer service is a real big deal to me.

I have come to believe that one reason we receive poor customer service is we encounter control freaks where we spend our money. Think about it. How many times have you been given one or more of these responses from a business employee?
"We don't have anymore of those."
"I'm just going by the rules."
"That's the way we've always done it."

 Or, to simply be ignored.

Have you encountered the most miserable person on the planet who cannot acknowledge you, much less smile and speak? And, all this while you are handing over your money for a purchase? Please.

Sometimes this terrible service happens because the sales person is a control freak and wants to make sure you don't get what you want. Or, the sales person has a goal that you cannot come close to feeling good that day.  The nasty control freak is miserable in her/his own skin and wants you to be miserable also. Have you seen the movie, Misery? I wouldn't want Kathy Bates to have it in for me.

Oh, you should read these best customer service stories. It'll do your heart good.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ashton Kucher said it best

When I was 15 my first real job was working in a retail store; then, when I was 16 I got a job working in a medical office, then waiting tables in a restaurant my mother operated for awhile. My next job was in the office of a fish processing plant, then I worked for a hardware store. After that I worked in the field of child support enforcement, then at a furniture distribution center, and after that at a technical/community college, then I wound up my "job" career in economic development, then immediately started my consulting business. 

All along the way I took college classes, paying my own way til I graduated, taught college classes part-time or ran a little business of some kind. Every job was a step upward, and I always felt thankful for the opportunities given me; therefore, I worked very hard and expected others to do the same. Like Ashton, I was always busy working away at something and trying to improve along the way. 

When I started my consulting business, I simply turned to all my experience, figured out which talents brought me the most joy + seemed to solve problems in the business world and, here I am enjoying the benefits of those many years of plugging away.

I didn't say every job was always thrilling or happy. Most of the time I worked with and for wonderful people, and sometimes I worked with the devil's little helpers. But, I didn't give up, and I didn't quit. It never occurred to me that I could depend on someone else to support me.

What's your story?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Worn out? Heeere's you sign!

Do you ever think, "I wish I could get away for a couple of days and decompress."

Although I thoroughly enjoy being with people, and that energizes me, there comes a time when my brain and body are in overload...too much stimulation and busy-ness.  Did I make up that word?

Now that I manage my own time I schedule an annual retreat for myself. 

This year I'm spending a few days at my daughter's home on the Gulf coast while they are on vacation. Ahhh.....I love their vacations! She and her family are moving real soon, so this is my last shot at this free VRBO.

As difficult as it may seem, we should all take better care of ourselves. The constant hum and buzz of life can cause stress, and when that happens we have to find a way to turn it down a little. This is one way I handle it. You may have other methods, so, just do whatever it takes to reclaim your calmness.

My consulting projects await me, and I've had great quality time to do some creative thinking and planning on those projects and the future. It's all good. See that image up top? Turn right, and plan a retreat for yourself. 


Monday, August 10, 2015

4 Tips for a positive attitude + mashed potatoes

I'm not joking. I have observed the effects of a positive attitude for years among people with whom I've worked and socialized. When I'm around a positive person, they make me more positive, so I always want to be that person who starts the feel good ripple effect too!

It may be asking too much to be positive 100% of the time. There are times we all must handle difficult circumstances or discuss troublesome topics. Even then, finding something positive as quickly as possible afterward provides a cushion. Maybe that something positive is a glass of Merlot or mashed potatoes. It's our choice, right?

Since it's Monday I'm going to give you a few tips on staying positive. I've learned these the hard way, so take notes:

  1. Look hard for the silver lining in the negative situation. Look  hard. It's hiding like peanuts under the couch cushion.
  2. Choose to spend most of your time around fun, positive people. Laugh at them, and let them laugh at you. Sometimes you gotta take one for the team.
  3. Learn to counter the negative with a positive spin. Once you hear or think the negative thing, immediately craft a response (even if you're talking to yourself) that points out something positive. For example, if your competitor gossips about you, be grateful he's helping create buzz about your business. I doubt anyone will notice when he trips over your shoe at the next networking event.
  4. Recall the things for which you are thankful! If you're bummed and feeling a negative slump, don't waste more than 2 minutes in that hell hole of misery. The way out is to start counting your blessings, one by one. By the time you get to 10, you're out of the hole and running. Toward ice cream.

Have a goal of keeping a positive attitude and sharing it with others. You never know when someone else might need it.