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.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Can a solo entrepreneur generate $1 MIL + with no employees?


I've read articles recently that speak of little companies who break the $1 million sales mark and more. One of the best writers I've found covering this topic is Elaine Pofeldt, a contributing writer to Forbes, who says she "covers the growing wave of one-person businesses and their ecosystem." And, she does a good job.

I'm obviously interested in this topic because I am a solo entrepreneur. I occasionally hire contractors or sub out parts and pieces of projects, but I don't have an employee, nor do I plan to have any employees. Is that going to hold me back from making more money?

The US  Census Bureau reports there were over 30,000 non-employer firms in 2013 that reported earnings of between $1 million and $2.4 million. If they can do it, can't you and I do it also?

Ms. Pofeldt has covered entrepreneurs in the businesses of PR, subscription gift boxes, fitness, babysitting, speaking, and, well, I'll lead you straight to Ms. Pofeldt's work, and you can read for yourself. It's fascinating and inspiring stuff!

So, don't be disheartened if you think you will never make any real money working alone. Follow Ms. Pofeldt, and learn, learn, learn. Every entrepreneur story I've ever heard involved lots of learning and digging for gems of wisdom on a topic. I experience that myself, and I bet you do also.

My favorite stories are non fiction, the true stories of how one person had an idea and built upon that idea until a business took hold. Then, that business grew and grew until it was a household name. Reading those stories inspires me because I know every one of those successful entrepreneurs started out just like you and me. One try at a time, and one day at a time.

We aren't reinventing the wheel by being an entrepreneur, but we do have to work smart to get on top in our field. Find some writers and speakers who are aligned with your passion, and follow them. It might be the best tool you ever used.

Now, as I promised, here's where to find Elaine Pofeldt:
Elaine Pofeldt at Forbes