Take Time for a Cup of Coffee

For what should we be thankful? For the amazing prosperity that we enjoy in this country? For the legacy of liberty that has been handed to these generations by those who have gone before? For electricity or indoor plumbing or modern appliances or for any number of important inventions and developments that have contributed to our wonderful American way of life? How about all of the above?

A man, having worked and planned for success all of his adult life is on the cusp of attaining it all. He has worked hard and saved to buy the business he wanted, in the city he loved. He built the new building that would help him to deliver all of the services he knows his customers want and he is poised, finally poised, to be able to enjoy the fruits of his labors. His later years stretch out in front of him in a shining vision of exactly the life he wants to live.

Yes, he has sacrificed a great deal of his youth working towards his goal. He may have not been able to spend all of the time he might have wanted with his family. However, now he can pay it all back. Now that he has attained his goals and secured his and his families’ futures, now he can be everything he has always wanted to be to them. Now, he has time… Except, now he doesn’t. A diagnosis of cancer, a bad one, has suddenly brought his future into a monthly chemotherapy frame of focus. Hope no longer means hoping one can get a reservation at the trendy tropical resort, hope now means being around for Easter.

For what should we be thankful? How about our friends, our family, our lives?  How about the simple, everyday things like a good cup of coffee and the time to enjoy it?

Thank God every day for the morning and the challenges of each day as they come.


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The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick-maker

Small businesses are the backbone of small towns and cities throughout the United States. It is the small, local, independent store owner, service provider and professional who are usually the movers and shakers in these communities. Take a look at any positive activity or progress happening in your local area and chances are a small business person is behind it or actively involved in moving the effort forward.

It is in everyone’s best interest that these small enterprises not only survive, but thrive. That is the guiding principle of a new on-line effort being driven by The 3/50 Project. This website explains their focus in detail, but the basic principle of the 3/50 Project is this: Pick 3 local businesses you would miss if they were gone, spend $50.00 per month in those businesses. Simple as that.

The 3/50 Project points out that for every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures. If you spend that money in a national chain store (big box store) only $43 stays home. If you spend it online, $0 dollars stays in your community. That’s right ZERO dollars, the big nothing, the old donut hole…

Kind of easy to make the decision to support 3/50 when you ponder those numbers, isn’t it?

I want to thank The Supply Chick, Becky Flansburg for bringing the 3/50 Project to my attention. Becky is one of “those” people, you know the type: exhaustively positive, constantly chipper and always doing something to move herself (and those around her) forward.

Take 15 minutes today to visit The 3/50 Project and sign up. Then, next time you are out and about in your town, visit one of those small businesses that make your community unique. Take out your wallet and live a little.

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Filed under Leadership, Responsibility, Shop locally

Wish I Had Thought of This

barcodesHow do they think of such things? Take a look at a new idea for barcodes coming out of Japan. You know barcodes, those ubiquitous little black & white stripes on every consumer product package (and then some). Someone had the glorious idea that since they had to print them anyway, why not have them make a statement. Take a look at this gallery of fine artwork they’ve developed.

Here’s more from the Fast Company blog.

“Since 2005, D-Barcode has been creating custom barcodes for a mostly Japanese clientele. They’ve even begun selling their wares to anyone who wants to license them, starting at $1,500 for the design, and $200 a year for licensing. A custom or exclusive use code will run upwards of $4,000–but given that companies spend millions on designing a single package, why don’t we see more detailed thinking like this?”

Bottom line – another great way to set your company apart from all the rest and another example of innovation creating opportunity where others saw nothing special.

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Becoming Better

What are you doing today to become better tomorrow? Input Your Brain

Last evening, I had the opportunity to speak to the Brainerd Chapter of the IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals) about networking. The presentation is called “Work the Pond” and is based upon the book of the same title by Darcy Rezac. It is a great resource for anyone wanting to update or improve their networking efforts.

These individual members of IAAP came together as a small group with the purpose of learning something new. Today, they know more about how to network (and improve their businesses and personal lives) than they did yesterday. How many will use this new knowledge and put it into practice? Hopefully all of them, but even if they never use the knowledge gained, they are better for having heard it.

The neat thing about this group is that they have meetings every month at which they have an education program. That shows a true commitment to improving themselves and their profession through exposing themselves to new ideas and information on a regular basis. How many of us are guaranteed to learn something new on a regular basis?

I respect and appreciate other professionals who are willing to sacrifice their time (after regular work hours) to gather together to improve themselves, learn something new and become more valuable to their organizations.

My hats off to you IAAP and thanks for the opportunity to share.

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Planning for Uncertain Times

2010The old axiom “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail” seems to have a bit of a hollow ring to it after the events of the past 18 months. After all, many making plans based on the predictions from the national media and economists in 2008 were blind-sided by the economic collapse caused by the crisis in the financial sector of our economy. However, it is true that in order to move forward confidently, we must have SOME sort of plan for the future.

However, based upon the recent record of national economists, how confident are you in the recent predictions of growth for 2010? How does one plan confidently in such an uncertain scenario?

In a great column in Business Week, Steve McKee (of McKee Wallwork Cleveland Advertising) gives good advice for small businesses looking to prepare their marketing plans for 2010. For McKee, the answer is: you prepare multiple plans based upon three scenarios:

The economy in 2010 will look the same as 2009.  In this scenario, the key is to focus on share. Prepare your marketing budget to be able to quickly take advantage as your competition goes out of business or cuts back on their marketing.

The economy will get worse in 2010. In this scenario, your main focus will be to keep your business as a viable concern going forward. However, keep in mind that recessions and bad times can have some of the greatest opportunities for those who continue to market and position themselves for when times get better. In this scenario, cut back, but don’t cut out your marketing.

The economy will grow in 2010. During recovery, the temptation will be to grab all you can. Just remember that there can be danger in growing too fast and having your receivables exceed your cash, causing service and/or inventory problems. In this scenario, moderate demand through pricing and payment terms.

For greater insight, I suggest you read the entire article. It is a quick read and will provide you with valuable insight as you prepare your plans for 2010.

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You Owe It to the Rest of the World

Former Hheadvicearvard President Abbott Lawrence Lowell once said to his students: “Imagination without hard work is usually barren. What is more, the brighter the imagination, the greater the amount of work required to its full fruition.”

Are you a slacker? Are you wasting your talent? Do you have brilliant ideas that come to you that you let slip away? Well, its time to “work it baby, work it”!

The new economy is going to be built by those willing to work hard on developing their innovation quotient, not necessarily their intelligence quotient. The old economy was all about developing skills and manipulating facts to engineer and build “things”.  The next century, especially in the United States, the economy is going to be about innovative ways to use what we have, designing new products to make us more efficient and productive. Successful companies are going to be the ones who can deliver new ways to help us work, relax and raise our families.

It is up to you to work hard to develop your innovation and imagination. You need to wring the most out of the creative talent that you possess in your noggin, because it is the imaginative ones around us that will pull us through and get this economy moving once again. If you have an imagination, you owe it to yourself and the rest of us to “make those dreams come true.”

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In Their Kitchen

Promotional ProdKitchenucts Association International (PPAI) recently asked 1,005 average American consumers how many promotional products they had in their kitchen. The response? Overwhelming …

More than three-quarters of the group (828 people) had at least one promotional product in their kitchen, while the bulk reported having anywhere between two and 11 or more. But, here’s the part you can really sink your teeth into: The product/advertiser recall was through the roof! A whopping 86% could name not one, but two promotional products in their kitchen, while 50% of those could name the corresponding advertisers.

So, what’s the takeaway? If you are looking for a low-cost way to say “thank you” this holiday season, think “kitchen.”

This time of the year, the kitchen becomes the center of the home for family meals and friendly gatherings. Put your company name or logo on centerstage during the holidays.  Something as simple as a hot pad or as elegant as long stem wine flutes, there are many great ways to express your appreciation to those who are important to your business. The bonus factor in kitchen promotions is that these same customers will interact with your brand for years to come.

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