Great Outdoors-Historic Places

Today we’re finishing up our look at some of the USA’s best national treasures and historic parks with a look at four of the most historical sites.  Each and every site that has been placed into the National Park Service has it’s own, very important history and has played an important role in the development of the USA.  You may have parks that stand out to you historically more than the group I’ll be mentioning today, and I’d love to hear your stories and memories about those parks.

New Orleans Jazz

We start our tour today off in Louisiana at the birthplace of Jazz.  Music is sacred and central to many cultures and countries, including the USA.  Jazz brought new life to many aspects of American culture, and helped transform some of the older cultural aspects into ones that embrace that America is a land of the free.  If you’d like to experience live concerts and step back in time to the late 1800’s, New Orleans is the place for you.

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

These two American treasures are located right next to NYC and represent hope, friendship and a new life that many have found in the USA since it’s beginnings in the 1400’s.  I think there’s something about this location and all the people that came through here, lived here and even died here that has added to the interest and history of this place.  It isn’t just the location of a president or one individual, but rather millions of stories and lives.  You can check out the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and be part of the story too.

Gettysburg

This location is known as the turning point of the Civil War, and a point that was the beginning of reuniting a country.  Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is a location of soldiers, stories, death, war, sadness and hope.  It was pivotal in bringing back together the “United” States of America.  It’s a place that represents leaving the past behind and moving on to the future, something we’re doing as a world currently.  You can visit Gettysburg with it’s historical battlefields, ghost legends and discover for yourself why Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address.

Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell

“All men created equal” this historic spot proclaims.   Visiting Independence and the Liberty Bell are a great reminder of the foundation of a country and the impressive ideals that men set up for her.  At times we’ve failed, as do people in their own lives, and we have much work to do if we’re to attain those goals.  But Philidephia, Pennsylvania is a reminder of the hopes and dreams that the Founding Fathers had for our country, and the example they hoped they, and we, could set for the rest of the world.  They should serve as a reminder and inspiration for us today as we chart our own course for the future.

We’ve been all across the USA this month, to places of beauty, romance, water and history.  Now it’s your turn, what are your favorite places across the US?

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Service with a Smile

One of the biggest trends and issues in business is customer service.  Not all customer service is alike, as I’m sure you’ve discovered.  Sometimes you have a really good experience, and other times you make mental notes not to visit that store or cashier again.  And if the experience is that bad, you go and tell friends or the online community about your bad experience.  So what does this mean to us business owners?  It means that your customer service, and not your actual product, is often what will cause a customer to become a client for life or a hater for life.  Let’s take a look at a couple of aspects of the experience.

1-every interaction with you or your employees is an experience.  When people are involved in the transaction (which is every transaction), whether online or offline, with you or your business they have an experience.  If your website isn’t working right or isn’t helpful to them, or if your employee was having an off day, they have a not so good experience.  It’s not easy, but can be done, to turn that bad experience into a good one.

2-always serve with a smile.  Having a smile on your face whether on the phone or in person shows your customers that you’re happy to have them and serve them.  Everyone likes being smiled at and you instantly feel welcomed and appreciated for shopping there.  While it’s not appropriate to smile when a customer is sharing a serious complaint with you, you can still have a positive attitude and approach the situation with maturity and openness.

3-the experience determines what the customer spends.  If your customer is having a great experience, they’ll likely spend more.  And if they can’t spend more with you, they’ll at least tell their friends to spend money with you.

The lesson here is that every individual is having experiences on a daily basis.  The way they regard those experiences can be changed or determined by the guidelines and standards you set up in your business.  You may not be able to fix all the issues in other businesses, but you can do something about yours.  What do you do to create an amazing customer experience in your business?  Share your tips below.

Great Outdoors-Wet and Wild

Happy Friday! Today’s our third look at some great destinations around the USA.  We’re taking some time, in this hot heat wave that the Eastern states are experiencing, to look at some cool, wet and wild stops.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

This fabulous sea shore located in North Carolina has many different fun things you can do as a family and keep cool.  Besides the usual dipping your toes (and more) in the water, you can also go kayaking or climb the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  Spend your time building sand castles, swimming, crabbing, surf fishing, surfing, shell collecting, bird and wildlife watching, and sightseeing.  Located on the Outer Banks region and close to other National Parks, Cape Hatteras seashore is more than just a day at the beach. You can learn more here.

Isle Royale

This stretch of Michigan land may not be one you’ve heard of before.  But, to those willing to venture into Michigan, you can experience great backpacking and hiking trails, as well as spent time boating, kayaking, canoeing and even scuba diving!  It may be a little rugged, but it’s a great place to experience nature the way it used to be.  You can plan your trip here.

Pictured Rocks

Traveling relatively close to Isle Royale, we’ve got the Pictured Rocks lakeshore in Michigan. With beautiful sandstone cliffs surrounding beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls, lakes and even a forest, not only is the beauty abundant here, so are the fun things you can do!  Of course there are the regular beach activities, as well as hiking and exploring the park as it changes in each season.  Wet and beautiful, learn more about the experience here.

Channel Islands

Our tour ends today with Channel Islands National Park in California.  This huge park has 5 islands and lots of natural animals and plants that you won’t find anywhere else. Not one of the more popular locations, you’ll be required to take a boat or fly in to the islands to experience the wonders.  If you’re adventurous you can even stay overnight and camp on these remote islands.  Start your adventure here.

I have to admit that I could go on and on about all of the great beachy locations around the USA!  From Maine to NJ, Florida to California, we’re certainly fortunate to have an abundance of cool locations to visit.  What’s your favorite wet and wild destination?

Get it Done!

Today we’re going to spend some time talking about leadership and the importance of getting things done as a leader.  Leaders don’t just show people how to do things or lead them, they ultimately help to accomplish things.  To get things done you need 3 things:

A compelling purpose.  If you don’t have a purpose that really motivates you, you won’t be motivated to get it done.  And if you’re not motivated to accomplish it, neither will anyone who follows you.

A clear perspective.  Conquering big goals can be scary.  But leaders don’t let the fear stand in their way of accomplishing things.  Even when the fear is great they continue to focus on the future and what they’re working to accomplish.view of the future.

Courageous persistence.  No matter what happens leaders keep going.  They keep going until their goal becomes a reality.  They keep going until they get the right task and purpose, no matter how many times they fail.  They don’t let the obstacles become goal-killers, instead they learn how to work around, through and over them.

What has stopped you as a leader?  Are there things holding you back from accomplishing your goals and the goals you’ve put before those you’re leading?

What Do You Want?

Summer is a great time to refocus and re-energize your business.  I’m working on setting aside some time to do this as we speak.  Why?  Simply because if you don’t take the time to make sure your business is on course, you could end up running the business into the ground and never know what happened. Here are some questions to help you get started making sure your business (and life) are going in the directions you it want to.

1-What do you want?

This is the biggest step to knowing if your business is on track.  Write down what you really want in life, business and your future, with as much detail as possible.  The more detail you write, the easier it should be to make a plan to reach those goals.  Unless you know what you want you can’t accomplish it!

2-What are you doing?

Second, write down what you’re currently doing.  This will help you determine how far off you are from your desires.

3-Compare!

Now take your two lists and compare them.  Do you see what you’re currently doing becoming or turning into what you want?

4-Make changes or goals.

Last you want to make a list of changes if your two lists are very different.  If you’re right on track, congratulations!  Make some new goals that will help you continue to move in the right direction.

How does your business stack up?  Are you in major need of making changes or are you happy with the direction you’re going in?

Great Outdoors-Ready for Romance

Last week we started our USA National Parks tour with some super scenic ideas.  This week we’re stopping at some of the most romantic national parks throughout the USA.

Rocky Mountain National Park:
If you’re looking for romance and fun, the beautiful vistas of the Colorado Rocky Mountain will certainly inspire some special moments. Take long walks, hike to quiet places, and take in the stars.  You can learn more at the national park website.

Virgin Islands National Park
What’s better than an island for romance?  This group of islands boasts beaches, hills and reefs, fun for all types!  Action, tranquility, seclusion, shopping and beaches, what more could you want?  Learn more about your next island getaway here.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
If you’re up for a little adventure, there are camping, horseback riding and other fun activities to do in the California Santa Monica Mountains.  There are also some great little historic spots and ranches you can tour.   It’s also recommended to watch the sunset here. Start to plan your trip here.

Oxon Cove Park, Maryland
It may not be your first thought, but try taking a scenic wagon ride.  It’s an opportunity to not just see the sights, and relax while seeing them, it’s also a chance for you to talk together.  You can also get the inside scoop on a farm or take a short walk through the woods.  Learn more about the romantic, and family fun, activities here.

Padre Island National Seashore
Try something new and go birding at Padre Island.  It’s a beautiful stretch of beach where you can see turtles, relax and take long romantic walks.  This Texas hotspot is definitely one I want to check out.  You can learn more here.

Haleakala National Park
Last but not least, our romantic tour takes us to one of the most romantic locations in the world-Hawaii.  Haleakala is slightly less well known than other Hawaiian spots, so you might be able to beat the crowds.  Here you can visit volcanoes or the 7 sacred pools with beautiful waterfalls.  A cabin to stay in completes the experience.

What are your favorite and most romantic USA park spots?  Share your memories below.

Strength in Weaknesses

One thing that’s really important in business and in life is knowing both your strengths and weaknesses.  Some people are really good at coming up with a list of what they’re good at, and some are good at listing what they’re definitely not good at.   As a business owner it’s important for you to know both.

Just about everyone at some point in time or another asks the question “What’s my purpose?”  The answer to this is related to knowing your strengths.  If you know what your strengths are you can usually connect the dots and figure out your purpose from there.  Your purpose always includes your greatest strengths, and usually also includes a couple of areas for you to work on.

Your weaknesses are opportunities for you to hand the reins over to someone else who can do the work quicker or better than you.

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses shows you not just what you could work on, but what you shouldn’t focus on.  If you’re terrible with math and numbers, it’s important that you do get some basic training so you’re not flailing.  This doesn’t mean that you should get a masters degree and be doing all your own tax and finance work (unless you discover you’re actually really good at it).

In your business your success and failure depends on the team of people you bring in or work with.  You can’t do everything, nor should you. What areas of your business (or life) should you stop trying to do and get some real help?

Great Outdoors-Looking Good!

This month we’re going to be spending most Fridays taking a tour of the USA and a couple of dream destinations and celebrating Great Outdoors Month.  Today, we’re going to take a look at some places those of you who enjoy taking tons of pictures would like.

Joshua Tree

This beautiful park nestled in California has 12 trails you can hike to get lots of great pictures, view the desert plants and get to know this Dr. Seuss like tree.  If you want more Joshua Tree, you can even camp overnight in the park.  You can learn more, and plan your trip, here.

Acadia

This park on the coastal edge of Maine is filled with amazing plants, animals and scenery.  While you’re here taking pictures you can also do some hiking and biking along the trails.  Don’t forget to visit the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse while you’re there!  You can learn more, and see alerts about closed areas, here.

Everglades

This wild and crazy park found throughout Florida  is home to mangrove trees, alligators and lots of birds. While you can do boating, there are plenty of trails for those who are suspicious of those living in the water.  You can learn more here.

Arches

Arches National Park is found in Utah, and is a crazy collection of rocks that has been created into arches by nature.  You can hike around the arches, see Wolfe cabin, and capture the sunset as it colors the arches.  You can learn more here.

Olympic

This park is more like 3 parks in one.  There is an ocean coast, mountains and lush forest for you to explore and capture on video or film. Located in Washington, this park’s ancient forests, cool tidepools and wildflowers will have you busy for hours!  You can plan your trip here.

Redwoods

I think one of the most fascinating parks is Redwood simply for the size of nature here.  This park in California is the only place we can view these enormous trees.  Don’t worry, there are also streams, woodlands, prairies and animals to check out here too!   If you’d like to learn more, visit here.

Yellowstone

Last but not least today we look at Yellowstone.  This park has parts in 3 states, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, and is filled with geysers, animals, trees, and luscious landscapes. It’s rich heritage and history are evident throughout the park’s lodges and cabins as well as on the trails.  Start planning your trip here.

Have you visited any of these locations?  Which was your favorite?