A St. Patrick’s Day Legacy

Today is St. Patrick’s Day! I’m excited as always, it’s one of my favorite holidays each year. Over the last day or so I’ve been checking out some Irish companies and looking at products made in Ireland and was struck by the care, consideration and effort that’s put into each product. No, no company is perfect, but when you think about truly Irish products and companies many of them have stood the test of time and consistently offer fantastic products. I’m not one to spend tons of money on things like jewelry or clothing, but I’m willing to spend those extra dollars to get such a quality product and support the families who are behind them.

No, this post isn’t really about running a business or offering a quality product, it’s about the quality and character of the people behind them. As parents and those in charge of the next generation we have a choice in what we want to teach the next generation, and hopefully what they’ll learn from us. Do we want to teach them to value the world, put their best foot forward, take pride in their work, leave a legacy that can be appreciated for a long time, and make a positive impact on the world? I know that’s what I want to teach the next generation and encourage them to value life and their talents.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with buying a sweater or piece of jewelry from your local big box store, I’ve got some of them that I absolutely enjoy very much and were on low clearance prices even (prices that couldn’t get me anywhere near something from Ireland). So there’s nothing wrong with finding shortcuts and doing a quick job of something (as long as it gets the job done), but there’s value to be found in being a person who does more than just meets the status quo.

No one else can be who you are, no one else can be who your kids are or will grow up to be, no one else can be the neighborhood kids or who they will grow up to be, each and every one of us are unique and have the ability to bring something awesome to the table. In the case of the many families in Ireland who craft gorgeous products those families are teaching their next generations about leaving a legacy, honoring your heritage and sharing who they are with the world. What are you teaching your kids?


Building a 4 Leaf Clover Business

With St. Patrick’s Day this weekend I thought today we’d talk about 4 aspects of business success in honor of the 4 leaf clover. We’ll first take a look at the 3 things that appear on all clovers (in all businesses) and then we’ll look at one that only appears on the 4 leaf clovers:

However you want to look at what you offer, without someone to buy what you offer, there’s really no point to being in business. It’s essential that you take care of all your people if you want to stay in business, let alone become one of the few beloved companies who lasts the tests of time.

Every business needs at least one product or service that has value, addresses a need or solves a problem for people. Once you’ve got the concept for your product(s) and/or service(s) you have to decide what type of quality you will provide, and whether to differentiate yourself by price, or serve only a specific location or try and reach the masses among other things.

Once you’ve got a product and/or service you’ve got to tell people about it! There are tons of ways that you can market your business and what you’re offering from social media to blogs to newsletters to TV ads to radio ads to joint ventures to affilates. Marketing today has evolved from just product/service awareness to creating experiences, educating potential customers, and interacting with them in real time all in addition to product/service/brand awareness.

As I said, most businesses do their best to attend to the first 3, like any clover, but some business go the extra mile and give the extra effort to do things on purpose and with purpose. I had a business owner ask me recently if they really needed to have a purpose/vision/mission because they were “just selling a shirt.” Yes, you can differentiate on the exact product you sell, price and marketing you do and the people that fit your niche, but if you really want a tribe, if you want people to come back again and again and have a passionate investment in your business you need to have and follow a purpose/mission/vision.

So what about you? Are you just working to sell a product or service, or are you working to create an experience for your customers, one that they want to invest in, be part of and share with others?

Time for Changes

In thinking about Daylight Savings Time that the US adjusted to this past weekend I thought we might talk about the idea of it being time to make changes. I never can quite remember which way the clocks are supposed to go when they switch, I’m very thankful for technology that does it by and large for us now. Sometimes change is like that: we just feel the need to make changes but we’re not really sure which changes to make. So today I thought we’d take a look at some changes you can make if you’re not sure what changes you’re in need of, and until you’re certain of what changes need to be made in your life.

Clean and organize: many of us are blessed to have lots of stuff and lead busy lives, but with lots of stuff and busy lives it doesn’t always leave a lot of time to clean and get organized. Many of us just do the minimal to get by each week and end up one day with a big pile of stuff that needs to be gone through and more dust bunnies than real ones hopping around. Cleaning and organizing is one way to clear out some of the old and make room for the new, a symbolic welcoming of whatever changes your life is bringing.

What you eat: there’s never a bad time to make a decision to eat healthier, and today is no exception. But you don’t just have to change to healthier food, you can choose to change and try new foods and recipes too. There’s nothing wrong with having some go-to foods that you love, but it’s often fun to try new foods and recipes and mix things up a bit. Maybe it will give you the chance to learn a new cooking technique or try an ingredient you’ve always wondered about but never really knew how to put it in a dish, and this would be the chance to do either or both.

Consideration for others: one of the biggest areas of our lives that could use some changes for most of us are the relationships we have and ways that we interact with others. Maybe you’ve gotten in the habit of being on your phone at the dinner table, you think or say really nasty things about the other drivers on the road, you talk with your mouth full, you don’t give your significant other much of your attention, you ignore employees under you or belittle them, or you haven’t made time for making new friends and relationships or learning about other cultures. It’s not about being best friends with everyone but about respect, learning to listen, being open to others being different than you, and doing better at sharing the space we all live in.

What changes are you feeling inspired to make in your life?


Weathering the Storm of Success

Just a few days ago the Northeast experienced a snowstorm like I haven’t seen in some time. We had more snow than I’ve seen (and shoveled) in quite a few years (we had about 2.5 feet), and as beautiful as it was it made for some big issues. Yes, I grew up with some bigger storms and I know that some people deal with way more snow than what I did on Wednesday and Thursday morning on a regular basis, but whether you’re used to lots of snow or not, when mother nature takes control things in our human world often go wrong. So today based on some of the issues that I saw, I thought I’d share a few lessons that business owners could learn from for the next time they’re faced with a crisis or the unknown.

First, weather is tricky because even with all the technology we’ve got the end result is still really a guess. Add to that the variable of humans and their interpretations, and you’ve got some serious questions and unknowns. It’s frequently said that the weather industry is the one that you can make mistakes in and not lose your job over it. While it’s probably not OK for you to be frequently wrong and give your customers a less-than-perfect product or advice that’s not helpful or accurate, there has to be some margin of error considered and understood. The weather people have good enough technology that they can tell us when something is likely on the way, but they can’t totally provide how much or what everyone is going to get or exactly how a storm will play out.

How does this apply for other businesses and industries? It starts with something as simple as being honest with your customers and letting them know that you’ll always have them and their needs and their best interests at the forefront of what you do, and always strive to bring them the best experience and products/services possible.  But also that you’re not perfect and sometimes things are outside of your control, and when those things happen you’ll be up front with them and let them know what’s going on, and do your very best to rectify the issue as soon as possible. Which brings us to the second point.

The second thing to consider is with regards to communication. Sometimes I feel that things are very well communicated, and other times I wonder what people were thinking! The issue that business owners really need to consider is the fact that there are so many free resources (and other resources) they could tap into to provide the very necessary information to the general public and the specific people who need those updates, yet they weren’t being used. There were lots of electric road signs on the highways that could have shared updated information about the roads ahead yet all they did was warn of winter weather and to drive safe. There are free social media accounts, emails/newsletters, blogs and websites that could have been used to post updates about power failures, garbage/recycle pickup, blocked roads, detours and openings/closings, providing information in a timely manner and all in one place, but they weren’t. These updates don’t take a long time to do, and don’t have to be extremely detailed, but they can be invaluable to people.

For businesses, yes, you should post that you’re open or closed or if there are weather related issues, and you should be in communication with your team so that they know what’s going on. You should also communicate with your team when it comes to serious weather about the policies that you’ve got for whether you’re open or not and if there are people who are specifically willing to work in serious weather if need be. Weather challenges also provide a reason to have an online presence and to sell something online if possible. With countless people stuck inside instead of out doing their usual activities, they’ve got time to read emails, peruse websites or apps and shop.

While I don’t think you need to be perfect or communicate every little detail about your businesses (although sometimes that can be fun!), especially when things are challenging or dangerous for people it’s important to be on top of your communication and not only give specific instructions regarding what to do now and during the danger/challenge/storm, but also be in communication about what comes next. What have you learned for your business from weather challenges?


Secrets to Success: Change

The path to success isn’t always an easy one, and sometimes there are things that conspire against people in becoming successful. One of those things for some people is gender. While women have made great strides over the years, many women still struggle to be successful and have difficulty growing into positions that have been traditionally held by men. With this Thursday being International Women’s Day I thought we’d talk about one of the steps that has been key to women having more success: change.

Off and on over the past two months we’ve taken a look at some important steps that can help anyone get to success, and in many cases if you want to be successful there has to be changes made. In many cases what got you to point “A” won’t get you to point “B” let alone point “M.” And the only way that women can lead more companies or be paid better or be more respected or not feel so much pressure based around their gender is change.

There are many reasons why we shy away from change including that it can be difficult, in many ways we like what we’ve got, we’re not sure the changes will really be worth it, and we’re not sure we have the capabilities to change. Change can also be challenging because even if someone wants to change, the changes they want to make will affect others and others don’t necessarily agree with those changes. A prime example is politics, one group wants certain changes to happen because they think they would be very helpful, while the other group definitely doesn’t want to see those changes put into action. What’s one to do?

In the case of personal change the first person to think about is you. As long as the changes you plan to make won’t hurt yourself, your kids or partner or immediate family and friends, then you should go ahead and work on those changes. If the changes you want to make will have an affect others beyond your immediate scope of influence then you have to think about if there will be more wins as a result of the changes or if the future won’t be a better place as a result. In the case of women being able to gain positions of power in companies or getting paid better or being more successful, I would say that in most situations it’s a good thing, especially with regard to the pay aspect because there are more single moms than there are single dads who are trying to care for a family on only one income.  As far as success goes, I think anyone should be able to reach whatever level of success they dream of and are capable of achieving. I don’t think we should limit someone’s success based on their culture or gender or if they have a family or not.

Are you so focused on seeing things in only one way that you can’t see the benefits of change, especially when it comes to success? If so I encourage you to open your mind and do some research about the people, both men and women, who are achieving success today throughout the world. You may even learn something that can help you be more successful.


Looking at the Good Things

Every relationship, every family, and every person has things they can work on. No one is perfect and that’s just the way it is, we’re all works in progress. It’s important to work on those issues because the issues and imperfections we’ve got can get in our way to achieving success and becoming the best person we can be for ourselves and others.

I love my partner but if I wanted I could find quite a few things to complain about regarding him, he’s not perfect, and if you asked him he would tell you I’m not perfect either. But I’m not with him because I think he’s going to become perfect or to fix him. He’s much more than the issues and imperfections, he’s a thoughtful, caring, smart, funny and loving guy.

Perfection isn’t possible, but what if we took more time to focus on what’s right than what’s wrong? I’m not saying we should ignore the bad or not good stuff, in fact something that my partner and I do ask each other from time to time is if we can do anything better or be better in some way for the other. So it’s not that we’re ignoring the issues that each other have, my partner and I are always trying to do and be better for each other, but we choose to celebrate the fact that we’re together and each day we’re able to share our lives together.

Yes, your kid may have gotten an F on a math test, but they did well on the other projects that they just wrapped up, and they’re excited about a chapter coming up in history. Yes, you may have made a less-than-perfect dinner tonight but you cleaned the house, changed the sheets, organized the toys, washed the clothes, caught up on the paperwork and bills and helped your sister pick out colors for their soon-to-arrive baby’s room. It’s not about getting everything right or being perfect, but taking the time to celebrate the good stuff. Just because your kid isn’t great at a subject in school doesn’t mean they’re destined to fail at life. Just because you can’t cook doesn’t mean you aren’t a good parent or partner. You don’t have to be good at everything, but you are good at many things.

What are you good at that you can celebrate today?


Write for Success

The first Thursday in March is World Book Day, so today I thought we’d talk about books and the lessons we as business owners can learn from books, and the people behind them. Let’s take a look at 3 March-born book guys and what they can teach us.

Dr. Seuss, born Theodor Geisel, wrote over 60 children’s books, and was also a political cartoonist, poet and artist. Many of his books seem strange and have made-up words and beings. Part of their appeal is the wild and crazy creativity that he showcases. Many of his stories are more than just funny words and creatures though, they tell an important story, or share an important concept with people, one of the most well-known being How the Grinch Stole Christmas. What’s the lesson for business owners? Sometimes the creative and the crazy just works. I don’t know any other authors whose works are as creative and they’ve had as much success and have become as much of a household name for several generations as Dr. Seuss’ books.

L. Ron Hubbard was the founder of the Church of Scientology, but was first known as a science fiction and fantasy writer. Using his writing background and doctrines he developed, he wrote the texts that are the “Bible” of the Church of Scientology. Whether you agree with the church/doctrines or not, I think there are two things we can learn from L Ron Hubbard. First, writing is an excellent launching point. Writing books is one way that many successful business owners, leaders and authority figures have gotten their start. Second, some things just sell, and one of those things is religion. Religious texts are some of the most recognizable literary materials in the world, bought in many forms and formats by people, and are really tied hand-in-hand with the success or notoriety of many religions.

Finally we’re looking at Randolph Caldecott who was an illustrator, but is best known for being the namesake of the Caldecott Medal, an honor given every year to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. Caldecott was successful as an illustrator, his illustrations/books were well known in his time (pre-1900). Some 40 years after Caldecott died the award and medal were created and named in his honor. One of the things we can learn from Caldecott as business owners is that sometimes you can be exceptionally successful if you do what you’re good at. Caldecott may have thought about writing books, after all lots of people are successful writing books, but pursued his gift for illustration and as a result not only had an excellent career, but has a prestigious medal named after him that continues to recognize and honor him over 100 years after his death. Writers are great and very important, but without illustrators children’s books would lose the majority of their appeal for children.

What have you learned from authors and illustrators that you’ve applied to your business?


Love for 2018

Today I was inspired to share a quote from Maya Angelou:

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it destination full of hope.”

This is what I want for the rest of 2018. I want a year that’s filled with hope, where we all encourage and love each other, and aren’t driven by fear of the world ending or massive destruction. Of course, as long as we’re all still human the best we can do is strive for that goal, since none of us can be loving all the time. We’ve certainly hit our fair share of walls in 2017, so it’s my hope that 2018 can be the year that we bring down or challenge many of those walls.

So what can we do to make the rest of 2018 great?

First, it starts with an attitude adjustment for many of us. Our attitudes determine the thoughts we think, words we say and can even influence the actions we take. Our attitude is one of the most important things to work on, yet it’s often the hardest because we’ve had these beliefs drilled into us since we were kids, and now they’re part of who we are. But if we truly want to live in a better world, we have to learn to release prejudices, hatred, anger and even apathy.

Second, we have to start showing people we care and they matter. If we all acted a little more responsibly for ourselves, those who rely on us (like kids, partners and parents), and towards the world as a whole, there would be less tragedy and fewer situations which tear at our social fabric. If we were even 10% more responsible with our actions than we are now, not only would our neighborhoods be happy places to live, we’d all enjoy life more.

Finally, we have to choose to live with love and hope. Love doesn’t overlook the bad stuff, it helps find solutions to fix the bad stuff, or figures out the role bad stuff plays in life. Love gives all of us second and third chances, and helps us make good decisions about how we treat others and the world around us. Hope helps us stand again when the bad stuff gets overwhelming and makes us willing to work through the changes, even when they seem to take forever.

I hope that you’ll join me as we discover what it means to live with love and hope, and how many more victories can be achieved in each of our lives when we choose to love that way.


The Support of Sleep

Something most of us don’t talk about but is vitally important to being healthy mentally, physically and relationally healthy is sleep. This past week in NJ we had an unseasonably warm couple of days and after those couple of days I was talking with friends and we were all discussing how exhausted we were after the warm spell. Winter/rainy seasons can be really annoying and frustrating because you can’t do as much, but I think they’re also really important for giving our bodies time to recover from all the activity during the other times of the year.

Sleep is something you need whether you’re 3 or 93, it’s not something you can really skip. Yes, some of us do skip it or postpone because of work or commitments, and sometimes for periods of time we can exist with limited amounts of sleep, but if you really want to be healthy mentally and physically sleep should be an important and regular part of your routine. Without sufficient sleep kids don’t do as well at school, there are more disagreements between partners, you’re not as focused at work (regardless of how much coffee you drink), your body actually breaks down and you’re more irritable.

Yes, everyone needs different amounts of sleep but what’s universally agreed upon is that everyone needs sleep, you simply can’t live without it. There’s something that’s so important and rejuvenating about rest in general and about sleep. Being active is important but so is taking the time to recover and have down time. Have you taken time to rest with your partner and your family or are you always on the go? There’s nothing wrong with not having a fully scheduled and booked week or weekend, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to rest.  Do you guard your rest time as strongly as you do some other aspects of your life or is it more of an afterthought? If it’s more of an afterthought I encourage you to make sleep a regular part of your life for the next month and see what a difference it makes in your life.


Time for Transition?

This week I’ve been seeing some limos on the roads and talked with a friend who was looking into limos for her daughter’s prom and it got me thinking about the taxi/limo/Uber/Lyft etc. debate. I do support public transportaion, I think it’s great if we can travel in a way that looks out for the world that we all share. I do personally own a car and like driving. I have taken people to the airport or train station, but really appreciate when they find a ride back from there. I definitly think there are some benefits to having someone else do the driving, especially when you’re not familiar with the area. We’ve talked about the people side of this topic, let’s talk about the business side. Do all of these vehicle businesses provide a service? Yes. Historically is this a financially successful industry? Yes. Has there been competition ever since the wheel was developed and people started giving/getting rides to/from each other? Yes. OK, so we’ve established that this is not only a business category, but really an industry that has been around for quite some time.

Let’s talk about the debate. Yes, I can see the frustration from the side of the taxi/limo businesses because now the competition has greatly increased and they’ve lost a good portion of the control over the employees and the services that are provided. However, and here’s the reason that I don’t really side with the taxi/limo businesses in this discussion, there really hasn’t been anything different done in the industry. The premise is still exactly the same: people are contacting car/van drivers for rides to and from places. The two things that have really changed is that people can now order a ride through an app on their phone and there are a lot more drivers available.

If we look at it from an overall business perspective I would say that the industry as a whole is better off financially and there are more people than ever requesting rides. What the taxi/limo businesses really have to be mad about is the fact that they refused to advance like the world was asking them to and needed them to, and now they’re trying to catch up. I don’t know if they ever will but it’s a good warning to the rest of the industries (and businesses) that haven’t caught up with the advances of technology or the networking that’s available or the way people want more freedom and flexibility in their lives. If you’ve been avoiding some changes or next steps in your business, I encourage you to review those changes or steps over the last few days of this month and be ready to start March strong.