Your Business Ethics Can Make or Break You!

It is so very important, and now even more than ever, to assure that your business focuses on how you treat and serve your customers.  Working with people is never easy, in any line of business you deal with people and people can be pretty hard to please.  It can be daunting if you feel you have to please every single person as this is a near impossible task, but you need to at the very least show that you genuinely care about them.  When people feel that you care and you give them their deserved attention, they will most likely return again to you in their time of need.

Some businesses and even tourist spots, due to either their “budget deals” or great geographical positions can tend to over look this important element when dealing with people and adopt the wrong attitude of “lose some gain others”.  Some examples of this attitude are what we recently experienced with UK-based budget airlines EasyJet that uses certain policies they have to then take advantage of their customers by having them pay a second ticket when there is the slightest “mistake”.  Some budget deals are simply too expensive of a bargain to afford, but their overall attitude is that once you have gone another one will step up. When contacting their customer service we were shocked to see how, rather than attempting to solve our problem they went to great lengths to justify how their personnel responded, and this is without knowing what had happened to us at all. You can read the complete story here.

Another example of what I am talking about is Venice, Italy.  I live in Italy and when friends come to visit they of course want to go and see Venice.  I cringe with the thought of going there as it has become one of the most exhausting and negative tourist experiences ever. Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful city and it has its majestic touch, but it just happens to be full of Venetians!  The residents there see people come and go all year round and know that people will just keep on passing through to take in the sights and art, and so they tend to treat people very rudely without a second thought.  You get the feeling right away that they could truly care less about you.

Most of us don’t like the feeling of being considered of little importance when making a purchasing decision.  It is more like that if you are treated poorly that you will not go back to be mistreated a second time.  It is so important that you make it a point as a business to have a customer service that acts as a back up for those who have to deal with people on the front lines day in and day out which is never an easy job.  Customer care has to have the best interest of the customer at heart regardless of how difficult they may be to please in order to assure a return.

There are a number of online businesses that are very good at this as I mentioned, Zapos, The Apple Store and will bend over backwards to assist you when you have a question.  This treatment makes you want to go back and buy again and again.  I recently came across a wonderful and easy to use online travel site that is UK-based called Thomson.  If you are traveling out of the UK you can find some of the most amazing travel and holiday deals and the service is well-rounded and upfront and honest.  Such sites that give you, not only great savings, but a good and friendly service as well as the assurance that you will not be taken advantage of by hidden fees and dishonest business practices.

If you are planning on beginning any business at all, the most important element you must have is integrity and honesty to make every customer feel as though they are the most important person on earth, because they are.  Without customers you will never make it, so treat them with the respect that they need and deserve.


New Beginnings-Starting up!

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” –Joe Sabah

Sorry for disappearing for a few days this past week!  I have been pretty tied up with a new and exciting adventure that I hope to be sharing with you as it progresses.  I have been presented, along with my wife, with the opportunity to run a business which has been in operation for quite a few years.  Things have been going pretty well for these many years, however there is a lot of room for improvement with a potential to grow which presents a wonderful challenge for the both of us.  It is sort fun to be faced with such a challenge and we are pretty excited and nervous as we are beginning to make the initial plans and will soon be operational.

In order to make the necessary progress there are a few changes that must take place.  For one, the personnel must be the right personnel and not just someone who is in need of a job.  They must be willing to make adjustments in order to go along with the standards that we are setting for the business, as well as be team players ready to make a few adjustments in order to turn things around.  So this means that some of the existing personnel will need to move on in order for the new to take hold.  It is never a pleasant matter when you have to let people go, but when you have people who have been there for many years and have “always done it that way”, they find it near impossible to accept a new way to operate and will become an obstacle to progress.

Choosing your team is one of the most important jobs that you have, as if your team is weak, you will be setting yourself up for failure. It really is not important the type of work you do, if your team members are not willing to work together, or they gossip and pull down the team spirit, they will be more of a problem than an asset and it is best to decide to part ways sooner rather than later.

So as you can see, I have been a bit busy lately and in need of making some important decisions.  I will keep you posted and look forward to having you back!

Umption, Gumption Get Up And Go!

“When you discover your mission, you will feel its demand. It will fill you with enthusiasm and a burning desire to get to work on it.”–W. Clement Stone

Are you excited about what you do?  Do you wake up in the morning with a burning desire to get out of bed and get started with the day because you just can’t wait to see what the day may bring? Well, you might not feel this way every day if you are human, because as the saying goes “every dog has it’s day”, however if you have a goal, a plan then most likely you will have an enthusiasm that will give you the rocket fuel you need to get through the “down days”!

We are all subject to discouragement, there will always be set-backs and times when things just don’t go as planned!  You have to remain focused so as not to allow these times to become a distraction from reaching the goals that you have set  for yourself!  Excitement and enthusiasm are very contagious, almost as much as are gloom, doom and discouragement!  It all starts up there in your noggin!  It is important that you keep your eyes on the positive outcome that you are shooting for rather than to get down and in the dumps once you hit a problem or difficulty!

People like excitement and so they enjoy being around others that are going somewhere and are able to emulate that enthusiasm which can be contagious!  Not everyone possesses this gift of enthusiasm as it comes more “natural” to be “realistic” and accept defeat, but it takes a real visionary to remain positive even in the midst of a storm!  I work with a fellow in Italy who has this gift and charisma! If you know Italy and just how difficult the government makes it to be successful through its tangled web of bureaucracy, then you would be amazed at anyone who can stay positive, especially in today’s economic climate!

My dear friend and entrepreneur surprises me with his upbeat attitude and umption and gumption, even in the face of what most of us would see as a disaster and  be tempted to turn tail and run!  But, let me tell you, this fellow despite the difficulties, the lack of formal education in his realm of business, he has been very successful and this is  thanks, in large part, to his positive and enthusiastic disposition!  I know for a fact that he doesn’t always feel like being positive, but the fact that he is able to turn a negative situation into a positive outcome has been proof to me that staying positive is very important and can mean the difference between success and failure!

Do you have umption and gumption and get up and go?

Are You A Funnel Or A Cork?

“A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.” David R. Gergen

Many people have the misconception that a leader is a person that knows everything, tells everything, and is someone who is always at minimum tens steps ahead of everyone else, and for this reason they are the leader!  But leaders are those who first of all are capable (and smart enough) to assemble a winning combination of people who are suited for the job and can teach them the joys of teamwork.

Anyone can run around and boss everyone around and tell others what to do, but who wants to do that when if you could develop the inner talent of those you work with and inspire in them to reach decisions within their realm of expertise!  If you want to always “call the shots” and be the “big cheese” and make sure everyone knows who the boss is, what you will eventually realize, if not sooner, then later is that you are becoming a cork and the bottleneck to progress!

In every business, be it large or small, there are so many things that need to be taken care of.  Surely at the beginning stages as you are forming a team, you will need to get more involved, but if you do not begin early on to use the art of delegation and teaching others to make those petty decisions, you will find yourself with a big problem.  Everything is waiting on you, and nothing is getting done because you have not taken the time to inspire in others how to make wise decisions.

If you have carefully selected your team members and are happy with who you have chosen, then it is time to become a funnel.  What is a funnel?  Someone who can take in a large amount of ideas and suggestions and begin the process to bring it down to a workable solution. It is important to be open to others observations and ideas and to encourage them to think things out and make the right questions in order to arrive to the proper solutions! You are simply there to give the thumbs up when they have reached the right decision.

You don’t have to have all of the answers, you just need to know where the ship is heading, work together with your team to find the best way to guide the ship in the right direction.  That to me is sign of real leadership!

Are you a funnel or a cork?

How To Stay Alive…Keep The Vision!

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he. Proverbs 29:18  The Bible

So much can be said for the person who has a plan and is able to stay on track with their plan as they usually end up getting to their destination!  If you were to just set out on a trip not knowing where you were going, you would have no idea if you ever got there!  This may sound silly, but it is the sad reality of a great many people, they have no idea where they are going!  There is a quote that goes, “if you shoot at nothing, you are sure to hit it!”  But there is no satisfaction in that at all!

It may sound “too predictable” to some and even “boring”, but the fact is, if you have a goal, a vision or plan, it can actually add a lot of excitement to your life.  It is always best to have short-term and long-term plans so that you can see if you are making progress towards arriving at the completion of your goal or not.  If you plan out your day by making a “to do” list, and you check off this list as the days goes on, it can be a source of inspiration!  I know that for myself, as I get things taken care of  throughout the day, I feel alive and as though I am accomplishing something!  Especially when I can check off the things on my “to do” list that are particularly unpleasant!  In fact, it is usually those things that are unpleasant that are best to take care of right off the bat, as they tend to be the what leads to procrastination!

When I get those difficult things tackled at the beginning of the day, the other things that remain on the list, that are not as difficult, are so easy to tend to!  I feel really good after I get things done and don’t feel so guilty at the end of the day to get that much-needed “chill time”!  I even feel as though I deserve it!  There is just something stimulating about getting things taken care of, but the trick is usually the getting started part. But once you get started you are pretty much half done and you begin to feel more alive and on top of the world!

It is a daily fight to keep the vision since there are so many distractions in the course of the day.  Things will come up that seem to be so important, and you can get side-tracked by them and… boom, once again you end up off track and behind on your plan!  It takes a concerted effort to stay focused, but it is absolutely necessary if you want to make it to your destination.  Not only is it reinvigorating, it will also be financially rewarding as you will see that by doing so it will lead to greater success!

Do you plan your work and work your plan?


Social Media and Marketing Takes Commitment

I was talking with my sister the other day who is an MD and now specializes in diet, nutrition and helps people take care of themselves to avoid taking unnecessary medication.  She has so much to offer people and has a practice and clinic that is pretty successful, but I feel that she could do so much more and reach so many more people if she were to move towards an online business, blog and consultancy.  She is really not so into the Internet and is in fact a bit resistant when it comes to going online and “putting herself out there”, in her words.

Although I can understand her concern with the “dangers” of the internet and social media I have to say it is just as dangerous and perhaps even more so to drive to work and back!  She can’t see herself sitting at a desk in front of a computer hour after hour as she prefers the face to face approach.  I can see that, I too prefer the personal touch, however my view on this subject is that regardless of what you decide to do, whatever way you perform your work, your duties, it will take hours and a great amount of your time… it takes a commitment.

In order to become successful it takes a great deal of time, and the more people who you come in contact with, the higher the percentage of success there is! If you have something valuable to offer people, such as my sister has, I feel that you can’t afford to ignore social media, the Internet, and cyber marketing.  If you don’t jump in and commit your time and attention to this powerful tool that has been opened up literally to any and everybody then you are likely to be left behind. I agree that the personal touch is still very important and should not be ignored, however in order to set the height of potential for your influence all together, social media is very important.  I would say a good balance between the two is important, and neither should be neglected.

Many people are afraid of the “big brother” all-seeing eye that is obviously there with online work.  But believe me, big brother has been watching you anyway, even while not online!  Just having a cell phone, turned on or turned off, will transmit your presence at every minute every day! And if you have a credit card, for decades, you have been followed! The social media revolution is here to stay, so you might want to get on board before you get run over!

The Benefits of a Schedule

A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.–Anne Dillard

Boy lately I have been seeing how beneficial it is to have schedule and in a sense for a routine!  I have been traveling lately and visiting relatives and it has been absolutely wonderful! However, as far as getting any work done it has proven to be problematic! Of course, I am on a vacation and that is what a vacation is all about, getting away from the normal grind and changing things up and God knows how important that this is.  It is important to get away from time to time so that once you do get back to work you are refreshed, renewed and ready to take on things better and more efficiently as you would, should you have never taken a break!

I was thinking about schedules and following routine and how it can seem to be a bit boring on one hand, but it can also be very beneficial in that by planning things out in a predictable way you are better able to manage your time in order to accomplish more.  You can get tired of following a certain pattern after a while, but it is really the only way to progress in your life.  Whilst in our youth, follow a routine is like death incarnate!  Young people like excitement and constant change otherwise they go crazy, but then you see that this i usually why they are unable to make substantial progress with investments and earning their way until they have grown out of the unsettling age.

It takes a bit of that boring, scheduled discipline in order to get things done!  A lot of patience goes into accomplishment, some real stick-to-itiveness to bring our work to being a real masterpiece.  As we grow older our priorities tend to change, we no longer feel that just “having fun” is as important as it was when we were young, footloose and fancy-free.  I have seen my nieces and nephews on this trip and they have made significant changes in their priorities as well as their progress towards reaching their goals.

But having a schedule can actually be real fun, especially when you have the satisfaction of getting things done! What are your thoughts?


Mr. Nice Guy

“We’re living proof that nice guys always finish last.” —Matthew Cooper

Who doesn’t like to be liked?  Life seems to be a lot better when you believe that everyone really likes you and you are seen as to be a very nice person!  It is important to be nice, but there are moments in which you have to get it in your head that being nice will get you absolutely nowhere!

I started out with managing a company and was determined to be nice to everyone making the work environment a positive place to be and to instil in everyone the vision of maintaining a good standard of cleanliness and organization.  This is all a wonderful plan, only one little problem, not everyone has the company at heart, many are just present in body from the time they clock in until they clock out, and the only real interest they have is to fulfill the bare minimum in order to get their pay check at the end of the month.

Wishing to make it clear what standard was expected I would make sure that everything was done to perfection and so I would spend time to leave a good example to the next shift of employees so that they could witness, through my example, what should be expected of them once they took on their slot.  Well I soon found out that people will be people and most of them truly do love work… they would watch it all day long!  The message that I was hoping to portray was strangely misread, the others were happy that I was willing to go the extra mile so that they could take it a bit easier!  I was simply trying to lead by example and be a nice guy to show my willingness to do the work that they too were expected to do.

I am not saying that you need to be mean in order to be a good manager and that being nice is not something to be as a person, but there are moments and positions and places where you have to not have the illusion that others will appreciate your kind acts.  The fact of the matter is, at your work place, you will be talked about in a negative way regardless of how nice you are.  If you want to get things accomplished you need to be pleasantly firm otherwise you will find that the roles will be inadvertently reversed, you will be dancing to the tune of your co-workers.

By being too easy-going you will be doing no one a favor, not yourself nor those you need to oversee.  They will never grow into more responsible individuals and you will never be a good manager or entrepreneur by trying to be “Mr. Nice Guy”.  Be nice, yes, but don’t forget the reason you were hired or why you are in the position that you are in!  The boss is always looked at through crossed eyes no matter how “nice” he might be, unless you happen to have some amazingly mature employees who have their work truly at heart.

Have you ever tried to be nice and ended up confused why it didn’t quite work out?

The Virtue of Integrity

“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man”.  ~William Shakespeare, Hamlet

One of the most important values, if not THE most important value or virtue that you want is integrity.  We have all fallen victim to ourselves at times when we are faced with the choice of being honest or dishonest when we have fallen to the side of dishonesty.  It becomes too difficult to admit to a mistake that we have made, or in thinking that we might gain credibility we will tell the proverbial “white lie” which has a few half-truths.  But the fact of the matter is, eventually at some point or the other, the truth will always surface, and once it does we lose whatever ground we may have made up till this point.

When you are honest about your mistakes, believe it or not, by admitting them you are more respected and trusted than you are when you try to hide them.  It is the same as if you were in the court of law, once you have been found to have lied about one point under oath, your entire testimony is then thrown out or placed in doubt, even if you were telling the truth.

At your workplace, integrity is what will help you to progress if there is room for advancement or promotion, and if not it will be what will help you to keep your job.  Too many people think that by trying to “look good” even by deception that this will help them to stay employed, whereas employers are looking for and are in need of honest individuals who they can count on and trust to carry on the business.

On many an occasion I have been tempted to tell those I have worked with that I had completed a task when in reality I had still not done so.  It was just so hard on my pride to admit that I had failed to comply with something and so for fear of others thinking negatively about me I would want to hide the fact.  I have since found out that, even when I fail, when I am able to “man up” to my mistakes, that the end result is not less but greater trust towards me.  It is much more valuable to have someone who admits to being human and who will admit a mistake, rather than one you know will try to cover their tracks.  Those who do try to smudge the truth will make you feel that if they are able to lie about one simple thing, then what they are really telling the truth about!

The thing about telling lies and dishonesty is, once you have told one, then you have to tell others to support your original lie. Then you end up getting all tangled up in your story that eventually you get yourself in a real mess.  There is an interesting little saying that I had learned years ago and it goes like this:  “What a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive”  And that is just what it is like, a sticky, icky spiders web that, unlike the spider who is able to walk around on it, you then eventually get stuck in your own web of deceit.  So, honesty is the best policy, if you want to be truly successful!

Have you been tempted with dishonesty? Did it really pay or did YOU end up paying the consequences?

Harnessing Inspiration

“Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force”.–Irving Berlin

I have a problem, well it is sort of blessing but it can be a problem if not used properly and if I am unable to learn to use it properly!  I am a person who goes largely by inspiration.  Don’t get me wrong, I really believe in the importance of inspiration as it can cause you to move on to greater things in life, to be inventive and creative.  However if you are  led solely by the inspiration of the moment, it can lead to trouble at times, such as in my case.

Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in the moment through inspiration that things can go missing that you should be taking care of and this is how it can lead to problems.  I get all excited about a project and jump in head-long only to discover that, due to my excitement, I leave behind other important matters that don’t get properly addressed or tended to!  Inspiration is important, as it can be the very fire that will bring about new ways of doing things, besides the fact that it inflames the desire to keep going. If everything is too methodical, it can grow boring and become a real chore and eventually you can lose interest.

You need both in the end, you need a “method to your madness”, if you are able to harness the inspiration in such a way that you don’t lose it, yet at the same time keep everything going so as  to not lose the progress that you have made then this would be the best balance!  But since none of us are perfect, the fact that we need one another becomes more evident!  There are some people who are gifted in being organized and methodical, they do great in bringing order out of chaos, and a certain rhythm to everything. Others of us who run more on inspiration, like I mentioned about myself, we get a new thought or idea, and off we go!  We need people to help us keep our feet on the ground!

One weakness we can have though as inspirationalists is, we can be overly protective of our new and “wonderful” idea that it makes it extremely difficult to take criticism or suggestions on how our idea could be modified to be even better. So, at times it is necessary to learn to harness our inspiration, not to forsake it as without it there would never be any change, and to learn to be thankful that not all of us all the same!

What do you think? Are you driven largely by inspiration or are you more methodical? If you have found a wonderful balance and have some tips to share, please feel free to do so!