Monthly Archives: November 2010

Lessons for All Relationships from the Business World

I found an interesting item on the Fox Small Business Center website, written by Teri Evans.  She wrote an essay titled “Leveraging Loyalty: How to Keep CustomersHooked.”

In this economic environment, and with Wal-Mart announcing free shipping for its online sales, competition for consumer dollars is getting tougher for mom-and-pop businesses.  So, I decided to read Teri’s ideas, and while I was doing so, I realized these concepts were wonderful for relationships of all kinds:

Rule 1:  Don’t Wait for Complaints Before You Step Up the Charm

Calls and handwritten notes to customers to share your appreciation for their business (without trying to up-sell them) makes people feel great about your company or service.
Heck, wouldn’t your spouse, friends, kids, or neighbors just love opening their mailbox and finding a cute, sweet, warm note – handwritten by you – expressing how appreciative you are about something they’ve done?

Rule 2:  Start From the Inside

Experts say you must consider the trickle-down effect your employees have on the customer experience.  Happy employees treat customers better.

Well, imagine how wonderful life would be in your home and life if you struck first, giving the people you deal with the most positive vibes and strokes, and watch how kids getting good vibes and strokes then treat their siblings and friends!

Rule 3:  Personalize Your Connection

Look for ways to celebrate your customers’ successes that have nothing to do with you.  Subscribe to customers’ newsletters or set up Google alerts about them.  Check out their Facebook site.  Support your customers in other aspects of their lives.

Hey, how about keeping abreast of what your friends, family and neighbors are doing with births, graduations, motorcycle rides for charity, new jobs, and on and on.  A call or handwritten note will go a long way to breeding peace, harmony, and appreciation.

Rule 4:  Create an Inner Circle

If you’re developing a new product or program, consider bringing in your most loyal customers to serve as a focus group and give their opinions.  That will increase their interest and loyalty and probably give you good ideas.

Okay, so have weekly family meetings over low fat popcorn to discuss everyone’s situations, concerns, complaints, and satisfactions, and let everyone’s voice be heard AND always find some one thing from each person’s comments to use.  It makes for more family harmony when everyone feels heard and feels they have some “say.”

Rule 5:  Pay Attention

Stay alert to potential problems and ask for feedback; do it early and often.

Whoa!  I can’t tell you how often callers tell me their spouse is having an affair or a friend dumped them, and when I ask is that spouse or friend felt important to them, got attention, affection, support or else felt they were neglected, I hear “neglected.”  Oops – they made everything but those important folks a priority, starving them into looking elsewhere for emotional sustenance.
Every day should be “Appreciation Day” for those who matter in your life.  No “I’m tired,” or “I was irritated,” or any other self-serving excuse.

If you want happiness in your life:  plant it, water it, prune it, and love it.

Quote of the Week

Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men.
               – George S. Patton
                  Leading American general in World War II
                  1885 – 1945

The Misguided Standards of YouTube

In the election last week, Missy Reilly Smith ran for Washington DC delegate to the United States House of Representatives (she lost to Eleanor Holmes Norton).  Smith ran largely as an anti-abortion candidate.

She ran 30 second ads which aired 24 times on local broadcast network affiliates across the greater Washington, DC metropolitan area, preceded by a 15 second warning (added by the station management) due to the shocking content.

What was the ad?
It was 30 seconds of still photos of aborted babies.  Dead babies ripped apart and sucked out of a mother’s womb aren’t very pretty, but they are real and should be shocking to a civilized society.  We can have daily abortions by the thousands, but we can’t look at exactly what is happening?
If you can’t look at it, perhaps you shouldn’t do it.

Ms. Smith’s 30 second ad was pulled from YouTube, which posted a notice that the video amounted to “a violation of YouTube’s policy on shocking and disgusting content.”

Ahhh.  Well, you should know what, for years, YouTube has not found shocking and/or disgusting content.

YouTube has been the long-term home for videos featuring calls to jihad by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born, Yemen-based cleric, who has played an increasingly public role in inspiring violence directly at….YOU.
 He has literally hundreds of videos preaching and urging Muslims everywhere to join in a worldwide holy war against…YOU.  And his videos have had millions of views.

So, let’s get this right.  Actually seeing the results of an abortion are unacceptable on YouTube, but years of videos calling for the deliberate murder of Westerners is….what, free speech?  Terrorist recruitment videos featuring Islamic fighters with guns and rockets is free speech?

A YouTube spokesperson said they are trying to distinguish videos that are merely offensive from those that cross the line of their rules prohibiting “dangerous or illegal activities such as bomb-making, hate speech and incitement to commit violent acts” or that come from accounts “registered by a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization” or used to promote such a group’s interest.  That rule seems clear enough.  So why did it take years and years of international begging for YouTube to remove last week some – some – of the hundreds of videos featuring calls to jihad by a creep playing an increasingly public role in inspiring violence directed toward….YOU?

I wish I knew the answer.  I wish I understood why a video of aborted babies got axed immediately, while several governments and individuals have struggled for years to get these jihad videos off YouTube.  I wish I knew why there is so much tolerance for this jihadist hate and violence, and so little for the fate of aborted babies.
I wish I knew.

Problems With Two-Income Marriages

Many of you in two-income families don’t have to be living on two incomes – you are choosing to do so.

According to the New York-based Families and Work Institute, 79% of today’s married couples have both people in the workforce.  In 1977, that percentage was 66%.

There are problems with two-income marriages and families:

  1. Where children are involved, it’s a given that there’s a certain amount of neglect, lack of bonding time, and lack of energy.
  2. A couple’s sex life often suffers because both “gave at the office” (and I don’t mean sex).  I mean energy.
  3. Getting home ends up as a frenetic dash to do grocery shopping, make dinner, deal with children and pets, and very little family time.
  4. No one is at home setting the atmosphere and transforming a house into a home.
  5. A tremendous amount of income is spent on the “mechanics” of having a second job in the family, such as gasoline, food, and clothing.
  6. Job requirements of both partners very often get in the way of relationship necessities and family togetherness.
  7. And there’s always precious little time for yourself.

I remember many years ago, when I briefly had a television program, I did a piece on a couple (both of whom were mail deliverers) who found the motivation to become a one-income family, because they wanted to plan for children.  There was no “cold turkey” behavior here – they both continued to work for a year, putting her salary in the bank.  They lived on one income while both were working!  This served as a test, and it also gave them a chance to build up their savings.

They budgeted, and then they budgeted some more.  It’s amazing how much money goes out the window on things that either aren’t truly necessary or are desired, but not more desired than a mom wanting to stay home with the kids.

This couple discovered how little they really needed.  They made adjustments and pulled back on some things, while they kept the things that were most important to them. 
Here are some ideas you can use:

  1. Ride a bicycle to most places close to home.  That gives you needed exercise that two jobs doesn’t permit and it saves money on gas.
  2. Rent from Netflix instead of spending ridiculous amounts going to local movie theaters and wasting money on sodas and popcorn.
  3. Shop discount stores for clothes, and don’t buy new wardrobes each season.
  4. Take vacations close to home that are filled with togetherness rather than filled with expenses.
  5. Plan meals and plan your grocery shopping so you aren’t paying extra for  last-minute purchases.
  6. Don’t buy sugary, fatty, unhealthy foods.  That saves a LOT of money!
  7. Sit down with your checkbook for a month and see where the money is going.  You’ll realize quickly where you can cut back that might even improve the quality of life in your home.

I really do believe that marriages and families do better with a division of labor, unification of purpose, priority on attitude and atmosphere, and a joint effort to make “money in/money out” be more sensible and marriage/family-friendly.

Proposed Ban on Fast Food Toys in San Francisco

To tempt or not to tempt….that is the question.  Whether ’tis nobler to seduce already or ready-to-be overweight children with pop toys to get them to eat more fat and salt than a horse would tolerate OR find a way to combine good business sense and family-friendly nutrition?

Apparently, McDonald’s would rather just seduce your kids – it makes good profits.

Well, that could no longer be the case in San Francisco.

Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors gave preliminary approval to banning toy giveaways in Happy Meals and similar fast-food offerings aimed at kids, unless they have reduced sodium, fat, and sugar content AND include fruit and vegetables.  The legislation is intended to promote healthy eating and help combat childhood (and ultimately adult) obesity, and was passed by an 8 – 3 vote, the bare minimum needed to overturn Mayor Gavin Newsome’s promised veto.

McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain, is fighting the proposal.  The Board is scheduled to take a final vote sometime this week.  The proposed restrictions wouldn’t go into effect until December, 2011. 
Under the proposed ordinance, restaurants may give away a free toy or other incentive item ONLY if the meal contains less than 600 calories, has less than 640 milligrams of sodium, and if less than 35% of the calories are derived from fat (less than 10% from saturated fat), except for the fat contained in nuts, seeds, eggs or low-fat cheese.  In addition, the meals must contain a half-cup or more of fruit and three-quarters of a cup or more of vegetables.

Parents ultimately decide what their kids eat – that is understood.  But all you parents are aware of how pressured you are when your kids have been pumped up by the media to want those toys.  When you try to steer them to the healthier foods, they make a fuss – “No Shrek???????”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2006 found that fast food chains spent $360 million to purchase toys to distribute with their more than 1.2 billion children’s meals sold that one year.

McDonald’s has given toys as an incentive to buy the unhealthy meals.  Now, San Francisco is giving McDonald’s the incentive to give out toys with veggies and healthier combinations of foods.

My feeling about parents feeling pressured once they’re in a fast-food place is NOT TO GO INTO FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS WITH KIDS!

Make sandwiches at home and have a picnic out on some grass with fruit juices and an apple for dessert.  Ultimately, it’s the parents’ fault that 1.2 billion unhealthy children’s meals went into the arteries of innocent children.  Fast food places like McDonald’s count on your weaknesses, laziness, and lack of commitment to health and fitness.  That’s how they make a profit!  So, take responsibility!

Quote of the Week

It gets late early out there
               – Yogi Berra
                  American Major League Baseball player and manager
                  Member, National Baseball Hall of Fame

Don’t forget to change your clocks BACK one hour before you go to bed on Saturday if your state is returning to Standard Time from Daylight Saving Time.

Clock - Standard Time