Change in the Palm of My Hand

I had another one of my ‘ah-ha’ moments yesterday morning … while bouncing some change around in my hand before I put it away in my wallet.

Change in the palm of my hand. Pennies, nickels and maybe a quarter or two.

Change low resOr CHANGE in the palm of my hand. Change as a change-agent. As in I have the power within me to change darn near whatever I want. (Okay, some things I can’t change on my own like curing cancer or solving world peace.)

It’s a powerful thought and worth remembering.

I have the power to change my circumstance. I have the power to change my life. Ultimately, I am in control.

I can make excuses all day long, but at the end of the day the excuses are my way of staying put. Staying in my comfort zone. Staying in whatever place I’m at because pushing myself beyond my comfort zone is scary. Staying because I’m afraid of failure.

I’m way to busy. I don’t know the right people. I live in a small town. I live in a big unfriendly city. My dog ate the car keys. I have Christmas cards to send. It’s all so much easier when I have excuses to lean on.

I make excuses just like most of us do, and to me they’re very, very valid. But when I hear others make the same excuses, it’s like the V-8 konk on the forehead. Oops … sounds an awful lot like my excuses.

I just put a quarter (25¢) on my desk – right where I can see it every day. It’s my reminder that change in the palm of my hand is also CHANGE in the palm of my hand. If I want my life to be better, or more meaningful, or less stressful, or financially more stable, I can change my circumstances if it’s important enough.

CHANGE happens when I give up the excuses that are so darn easy to lean on.

 

3 Tips for Creating Stellar Customer Service

customerservicequotesThis morning I had reason to call Constant Contact – an email marketing company that many of my clients use. I had a fairly complicated billing issue that I figured was going to take some time to resolve.

How awesome to be reminded why I have such high regard for this company: Constant Contact is a PRO when it comes to customer service. We should all take some lessons from them.

Here are 3 things that I was reminded of today … that will keep me a Constant Contact raving fan.

1. The first voice you hear (granted, it’s an automated phone system) is mellow, friendly, and super engaging. I might be ticked off about something, but that voice subtly says to me, “Stay calm. We’re going to fix it. No worries.” I have no idea who is actually on the other end of the line but someday I want to meet her. I’ll bet she’s as cool as her voice is. If you have an automated phone system, your company ‘voice’ should be THIS good.

2. The customer service reps know their stuff. Jeff (my rep this morning) listened carefully to my issue, confirmed that he understood my question and problem, and then walked me through a series of checkpoints in their billing system to make sure I knew (and could actually see) that he was making the necessary changes. Changes that I couldn’t figure out how to make on my own. If you have an online customer/client portal, use customer service calls as a quick and easy training opportunity.

3. They don’t push to close the call before you’re ready to hang up. We got my problem solved and instead of rushing to close the call because there were umpteen-thousand other callers waiting, Jeff actually visited for a minute – without trying to sell me any upgrades or asking me to take a survey. Brilliant! I started my call with the company ‘voice’ who subtly assured me my problem would be solved. Then I ended the call with a nice, 60-second chat with my customer service rep. I don’t even remember what we talked about but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I hung up a happy camper. Thirty seconds of extra engagement says volumes about how much you care about your customers/clients and their business.  

Regardless of your role at your company, be a pro at customer service. It’s not really all that hard. Sure it takes an extra minute or two of your time – but people really, really do notice.

Constant Contact didn’t ask me to write any of this. They just deserve a nod today because of any company I go to for support, they get the prize for truly stellar customer service.

 

 

 

14 Days and counting

I just realized that it’s September 25th. I lost track about the first of August. The one date in the past 60 days that is etched in my brain is September 11. Yes, it’s an important date to all of us. But it’s also important to me because that’s the date that my wonderful, amazing, terrific Dad who was 92 years and 356 days of age passed away.

14 days ago and counting.

I find myself trying to think of something to write that is insightful or engaging or funny, and I am at a loss. My brain is on overload and it’s hard to concentrate. Heck, it’s hard to focus on anything for very long.

14 days ago and counting.

He was my rock. He was my go-to-guy for so many many things. He was a brilliant physician, a life-long student of science, a hilarious story-teller and a very humble man. He was pragmatic to a fault; on my very very darkest day as I told him my son, his grandson, has died and I didn’t know what I was going to do, he said simply, “You only have two choices. It will either pull you down into a black hole that you might never climb out of, or you can rise above it.” He was right.

He was my Pops and I can’t believe how much I miss him.

Tomorrow is day 15 and it will be better. So will days 16 and 17 and 18. And so on.

Instead of counting the days since he passed away, I will listen to his words again. No black hole for me. I’m his daughter – I’m strong as they come – and I can rise above anything. Even losing my Pops.

Outside My Window This Morning

As I sit at my desk this morning:

  • Cat with mouse in mouthThe neighbor’s cat has wandered by twice – once on the way out to his Monday hunting expedition – and once coming back with a mouse in his mouth. His route is under the fence between his house and ours, down along our yard and our patio (where I see him as he goes by my office glass door), then off into his jungle full of who knows what excitement. I think he’s had a run-in with either one of the local raccoons or coyotes because he’s missing part of his tail and much of the fur on his backside. He’s not a particularly good-looking cat as cats go. But he’s clearly a good hunter and he’s even better at staying alive.
  • The local doe and her fawn have sauntered through the yard, down the driveway, across the street and into the green belt. This year, I’ve gotten smart and used something called Deer Out to keep her (and that darn cute child of hers) from cleaning every last piece of vegetation off of my one remaining rose (she obliterated the other ones) and biting the leaves off three-quarters of the rest of my garden plants … while leaving the stems intact. While I like seeing Mama and fawn, they are my arch nemesis when it comes to my garden.
  • The guy painting our house has come by twice and waved to me as I sit here at my desk … he doesn’t exactly know what I do for a living; he only sees me sitting at my desk with my hands on a keyboard, or sitting in my chair talking to myself. (What he doesn’t see is my Bluetooth in my ear that indicates I am, actually, talking to someone other than myself.

I’m not sure what these all have to do with each other. Perhaps nothing. But then again – the fact that I am sitting at my desk watching cats and deer and house painters go about their morning, as I go about mine, brings a smile to my face.

When you get right down to it, I think we’re often so busy chasing our tails (sorry neighbor cat with less tail … no offense intended) that we forget to stop for just a minute, and take pleasure in what’s going on outside our window. Everyday normal stuff. Like the morning errand-run of cats and deer.

Finding Balance Without Giving Up Income

I was watching the news last night and saw a piece on NBC Nightly News about Dads in the workforce. The piece featured a high-tech CEO who, just like many of us, struggles with how to balance his demanding career and the need to also be more present in his family life.

This morning I’m still thinking about this topic. While most of us know many (many!!) Moms struggling with work/family balance – hardly ever does anyone talk about the toll a lack of work/family balance takes on Dads. Married Dads. Single Dads. Or Granddads.

never get so busyWe all deserve to find a balance that works for us. But we all also need to earn a living – which most often trumps everything else. I don’t think it matters one ounce whether someone has a career they love, or knows they’re in a dead-end job with no options. If there’s no chance to find balance without giving up income, balance will lose every single time.

Which is why I am so excited about the consumer-direct business model, otherwise known as Network Marketing or Direct Sales. And specifically within the context of folks (including Dads!) who need a better work/family/life balance.

The consumer-direct business model is the perfect fit for anyone who craves more balance in their lives … without the loss of income that often comes from scaling back on time or position. It provides the flexibility to work either part-time or full-time, from wherever you happen to be at the moment, including the little league bleachers, soccer field, park, beach or family room. For someone who is motivated, a self-starter, loves to network, and knows what they want and need out of their life, this business model is a game-changer!

Listen up Dads (and Moms) who crave more balance: There are options. You don’t have to sacrifice the things that are most important to you because you’ve structured a family budget solely around your monthly wages. The consumer-direct business model was built by people like you who wanted income without the constraints of the employer-employee relationship. People who wanted to have control over their lives rather than have their lives controlled by a time-clock and company expectations.

Bottom line: If any of this rings true for you, and you’re searching for a way to get the balance you need, why not at least look at the consumer-direct business model. I’d be happy to give you my take on how it works and whyI find it so incredibly compelling.

p.s. In the list of consumer-direct companies, I happen to think the company I represent – Rodan+Fields – is by far the best company to come along in at least 50 years. I’d be more than happy to tell you why.

 

 

 

 

 

Ice Cream and Multitasking

mul·ti·task·ing

noun, often attributive \-ˌtas-kiŋ\: the ability to do several things at the same time.

Picture this. I’m driving home after a dinner date with a very dear friend. We’ve had a marvelous time catching up and I’m in a great mood. Dinner was in Seattle – an hour’s drive for me – so I have another hour’s drive home. Halfway home I start thinking about ice cream.

It’s summer. You’re supposed to think about ice cream (unless, of course, you have a problem with dairy products). You’re supposed to ENJOY ice cream in summer!

DQ BlizzardAnd then, I see it. The Dairy Queen listed on the ‘restaurant list’ on the exit sign. Ice cream in summer, here I come. My favorite Dairy Queen treat? A Heath Bar Blizzard.

By the time I’m back on the freeway, I’m balancing a rather large cup of wonderfulness in my left hand, while also resting said hand on the steering wheel so I can steer, and using the spoon in my right hand to eat my ice cream treat. Going 70 mph down the freeway.

I live in Washington state, where driving while using a cell phone is illegal. Eating a Heath Bar Blizzard while driving is not illegal. I may not be smart, but I’m within the law.

So … I’m driving along, eating my Blizzard, keeping control of my car, and singing along to the radio song, and I think to myself … ‘Man, I’m crazy good at multitasking.’

Which is a good thing because today (the day after my Heath Bar Blizzard extravaganza) I’m writing blog posts for clients, writing a post of my own (which you are reading), listening to the hammering and sawing of the construction guys working on our house exterior, and networking for my other gig as a brand expansion leader for Drs. Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields (of Proactiv Solution fame) – who are expanding their new dermatological-based skincare company Rodan+Fields into the Pacific Northwest.

Someday I may not be quite as good at multitasking. But at this point in my life I’m darn good at it. Especially when it comes to eating ice cream and driving. At the same time.

 

 

Sunday Night Blues; Monday Morning Blahs

Monday on psychiatrist couchIt’s Monday. Time for the ‘go-back-to-work’ blahs.

Ya, I know – I used to have them, too. I’d have a nice weekend, would do some fun things, hang out with my kids and family, cook good food, probably run errands as well. But it was nice to not have work-week pressure hanging over my head.

Then the Sunday night blues would set in. Which lead to the Monday morning blahs. A scenario that played out every. single. week.

Sunday night: Think about work. Organize everyone for the rush of Monday morning. Make notes of the important-don’t-forget variety. Ugh.

Monday morning: Brain engaged and firing on all cylinders! Realize Sunday night’s organizational flow-chart forgot 3 critical things. Dog ate the homework. You promised cupcakes for 24 … and you’re just now telling me? Hurry up – I can NOT be late for my 9am meeting.

Sound familiar?

It doesn’t have to be like that. YOU CAN DECIDE to make a change. You can have Monday back. And Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Getting to the point where you’re ready to look for alternatives is hard. Finding alternatives that actually do work is harder. And scarier. But I looked long and hard and I found the perfect alternative. And if I can do it, anyone can do it.

I’m nothing special. I just decided I needed to find a new way to look at my work week. I needed to find a way to control my life, my schedule, my income, and my benefit package.

Sunday night/Monday morning, I’d like you to meet entrepreneurship. You’re going to LOVE what it has to offer you!

 

Travel. Work. Travel. Work. Fun…!!

One of the reasons (and there are many!) why I truly love being my OWN BOSS is that having a flexible work schedule is so important to me. Like everybody else I know, I have a very busy life. Having flexibility means I can carve out time for everything I want to do in a day, a week, a month; the best part is I can work when I want, from wherever I want.

Take the past 10 days for instance. I took a fun vacation but I also was able to work when I needed to (or wanted to!). And the boss was FINE with it, because I asked nicely and promised to do some work.

Which I did.

With my notebook and my Mobile Hotspot I was able to:

  • Work on projects for my Writeology clients
  • Manage my Rodan + Fields skincare business including doing some prospecting for new business partners and picking up some new product customers.

Which lead to:

  • Some really great dinners
  • Meeting up with old friends and making new ones
  • Creating business even while I was, um, uh, playing.

Travel. Work. Fun. It’s all rolled into one for me. Can’t get much better than that!

 

 

Do as I say … Not as I do.

Well hello there- it’s been a while since you and I have visited with each other. One year and 6 days, to be exact.

While I’m good at giving advice to my clients, I’ve obviously let the ball drop here. Between aging parents (and the very sad loss of a great one), traveling for work, and a new exciting side-gig … I’m not taking my ‘If you’re going to have a blog, remember to post often’ advice very well, eh?

Tomorrow is a new day – I’m refreshed and excited about writing again – and I’m getting back into sync with my keyboard.

It was just a little break. Okay. It was a big break.

But I have lots of things to say after all that’s happened since my last post on June, um, 4th, of, uh, 2013! LOTS of THINGS!

A couple days to get my mojo back is all I need. I’m pretty darned excited … and so is my keyboard!

Customer/Client Complaints: A Good Thing

Help buttonThe phone rings and there is a frustrated person on the other end of the line. Someone stops by your office, or business, or customer service desk, with a question or a complaint. In either case something is not working for them and they need help.

What do we do? For most of us, we try to solve the problem the best we can and then go back to whatever we were doing. Fix and move on.

But … how many of us look at that person’s problem (or frustration) as a clue to something deeper? Is our system failing them? Are we asking them to figure out the rules, without giving them the rules? Are we only giving them part of the information they need?

I was reading Seth Godin’s post this morning titled Self service requires information, which requires design, and I had another epiphany. (Seth is often my epiphany go-to guy.) His message is about our interest in and need for (and I would add dependence on) self-service information. But in his usual very clever way he writes about one little piece of a puzzle, which is actually a huge puzzle in need of a much bigger table.

Instead of just fixing the current problem in front of us … because that’s easier … we need to dig deeper. What are WE doing that creates the problem in the first place?

It’s easier to blame the client or customer with the problem: clearly they don’t get it; rather than to recognize that we very well may be the problem in the first place.