Say Yes

March 30, 2016

I am often amazed at the turns my life takes. If you had told me ten years ago that I’d help someone write a book, be helping with two more books, help start a ministry, and work occasionally for an assisted living facility, I’d have thought you were crazy.

Years ago I learned to look for opportunities, pray about them, then say yes if I knew that God had opened the door. All it takes is a willing spirit. Say yes, even if you’re scared. Say yes, even if you aren’t sure you can do it. Say yes, and see where it takes you.

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Proud of His Integrity

January 6, 2016

I am a big believer in integrity. I am a woman of faith who knows that words are important. It’s important that you know that before I relate the following story.

Several years ago I worked in what was essentially the unemployment office through a temp agency. I worked there for about a year and a half, and enjoyed much of the job. I did encounter some interesting people during my time there. One in particular has been on my mind this morning.

A man came in to apply for some openings in a security agency. As part of the application process for these positions you had to answer some what-if scenarios. They were fairly standard questions along the lines of: You notice someone carrying something bulky out of a plant. What do you do? This particular man came to me and told me he couldn’t answer the question. I asked him why. He told me he was a pastor. I told him I respected that, but I didn’t understand why he couldn’t answer the question. His answer was that he wouldn’t lie, and if that’s what it took he was fine with not getting the job.

I tried to explain that they weren’t asking him to lie; they were asking him to think about what he might do if he found himself in that situation. He told me that he wasn’t in that situation and wouldn’t lie. I tried several different ways to explain this to him. He just kept arguing that he wouldn’t lie, even if that meant he wouldn’t get the job. He got more and more stiff-necked, until I finally told him that if he couldn’t bring himself to answer the questions it didn’t make any sense to turn in the application. He left with a rather smug nod of his head.

This man was so focused on his “I won’t lie” line that he was incapable of listening to anyone else. He had dug in his heels. It cost him a job that, from his story when he arrived, he really needed.

I’m not suggesting that anyone should compromise their morals or values. What I am saying is that it’s important not to get so caught up in your own line of discourse that you miss the point someone else is making. It might just help you out.


You Didn’t Really Try

June 15, 2015

I am amused/frustrated by the number of people who will tell me that something didn’t work. They’ve tried that. When I ask how long they tried or how many attempts they gave it, the answer is almost always once or twice. Well, then you didn’t really try.

Seriously, if you are attempting something new, whether for your business, with your parenting, in your marriage, you need to give it an honest try. Commit to the new thing for a length of time. Give it 100% for a while.

In parenting, things usually get worse before they get better. Why? Because the temper tantrum (or whatever behavior you’re trying to stop) used to work. The thought process of your child will be “I just need to do it harder/longer/louder.” Don’t give up.

In business, it often takes weeks or months for results to show up. And, if it’s a new marketing strategy, remember that it takes 3-7 touches for most people to respond.

If you want real change in your life, you need to give new behaviors a chance to work. Give it an honest try. It might just change your life.


I’m Raggedy Ann

August 1, 2014

I have a little framed card in my closet* that says “I’m a Raggedy Ann girl in a Barbie Doll world.” I thought it was cute. I also find it accurate.

I was thinking about it recently. There are quite a few differences between Raggedy Ann and Barbie. Raggedy Ann is soft and squishy. Barbie is stiff and plastic.

I have slimmed down a bit, and I’m feeling good about how I look. However, I will never be the sophisticated, willow-thin woman we’re told we should be. I’m okay with that. I have some cushiony padding for those times when little ones climb into my lap, and I encourage them frequently to do just that. I like to think of myself as resilient like the machine-washable Raggedy Ann instead of impervious to the elements like Barbie.

Don’t get me wrong; there is room in this world for both Barbies and Raggedy Anns. Barbies are cool and sophisticated. Raggedy Anns are colorful and ordinary. I know a few Barbies, and I value their friendship. I’m just saying that I’m comfortable with exactly who I am.

*That’s not as weird as it sounds. I have a wonderful walk-in closet thanks to my amazing husband.


Where’s YOUR Business Card?

July 28, 2014

I collect quite a few business cards in any given month. I attend several networking groups regularly in three different towns/cities, and I get to events when I can. I put the business cards I want to have handy for referrals in a binder. Those are my referral partners. You are probably picturing that binder as huge and overflowing. It’s not. Want to know what happens to that huge stack of cards I collect? I’ll tell you.

Step 1

When I bring home cards from new contacts they go into my holding spot. You see, someone has to earn a spot in my binder. So, the first time I meet you, unless we had a huge connection or your business is absolutely unique, you haven’t earned that spot.

Come to a networking event once, and I’ll be happy I met you. Come a couple of times, and I’ll consider you a business acquaintance. But, you won’t make it into my binder.

Step 2

Every couple of months I go through those cards in the holding spot. If you’ve become a part of that networking group and we’ve gotten to know one another, you move into the binder. If I haven’t seen you since that first meeting, but we’ve been corresponding or connected through social media, you move on to the binder. That binder goes in my van almost every time it’s on the road. I keep a few copies of each business card in there, and they’re categorized by location. That way I’m all set when someone asks if I know someone who does ___________.

If I’ve haven’t seen you since that first meeting, but I’ve only had your card for a couple of months, it goes back into the holding spot. If I’ve had it for several months and haven’t seen you, or I’ve only seen you a couple of times, you go into the recycle bin.

Step 3

If we’ve become true referral partners, if I’ve gotten to know you in a way that makes me comfortable not just referring you but recommending you to the people who trust me, then you move into my purse. This is prime real estate. I have fewer than 10 business cards that I carry with me.

You see, in order to earn a referral, I have to know, like, and trust you. People trust me to send them to people who are good at what they do and run an ethical business. It’s nothing against you, but if I’ve only met you once I can’t honestly tell them that you’ll treat them well.

Step 4

Every year I go through the binder. If I’ve lost contact with someone in the binder, their card is removed. If I’ve had a bad experience with that person’s business and it wasn’t handled well, the card is removed. Only current good referrals stay in the binder.

 

Oh, and if you walk up to my table at an event and toss your business card on it without asking me if I want or need it, it won’t even make it to the holding spot. It goes directly into the recycling bin. If you don’t take the time to find out if I want your business card before tossing it my way, I can’t imagine that you’ll listen to a prospective customer to truly find out his/her wants or needs either.


Referrals

July 25, 2014

I love referrals. They are a boon to my business. The problem with referrals is that many people don’t understand them.

Is It Really a Referral?

When someone hands me a business card or a note with a name and number, that’s a lead. It’s not a referral. A referral is, essentially, an introduction.

When someone tells their friend via call, text, social media, or conversation that they should contact me, and then let me know they’ve done that (along with that friend’s contact info), that’s a referral. When someone sends their friend a link to my website or FB Page, that’s a referral. If someone suggests that I meet up with them and their friend, that’s a fantastic referral!

What Now?
Once I have a true referral, it’s up to me to follow up. And, it’s my job to continue to follow up until the other person clearly breaks off the contact or moves from contact to customer. (The follow-up doesn’t stop there, it just changes in tone.)

It’s also my job to keep the person who gave me that referral in the loop. Whether that’s “I’m trying to connect with [referred name]” or “Thanks so much for the great referral; [referred name] is meeting with me on Tuesday.” Keeping the person who referred someone to you informed has two purposes. First, if you’re having trouble connecting with the person they referred, they might give you an alternate, better way of contacting that person. Second, it makes them more likely to refer others to you. And, don’t we all want more referrals?

Finally, consider rewarding those whose referrals lead to business for you. It doesn’t take much to make someone feel appreciated.

A Final Note
I think the biggest reason business people don’t get referrals is that they don’t ask for them. Ask your satisfied customers to introduce you to people who might also enjoy your services or products. After all, you rarely get what you don’t ask for.


Crucifixion Saturday

April 19, 2014

As Christians we often talk about the day of Jesus’ crucifixion and the day of his resurrection. But, we really don’t spend a lot of time discussing the time in between. That’s what came to my mind this morning during my prayer time. What about Crucifixion Saturday? Can you imagine what His disciples were going through? How scared and confused they must have been? Imagine the disappointment. They thought Jesus was going to lead a revolution. Of course, we know He did; it just wasn’t the type of revolution they were expecting.

So, here they sat. Their leader had been executed in probably the most humiliating way possible. Add to that the strange things that happened–the sky turned dark, the earth trembled. What would they do now? How were they supposed to handle all of this that had happened? And, poor Peter was further burdened with the knowledge that he’d denied even knowing this man who had meant so much to him.

As I thought about this, it brought to mind the times when I didn’t understand what God was allowing in my life. I’ve felt confused and disappointed. The prayed-for outcome didn’t happen like I wanted…like I expected. Those aren’t fun times, but they’re times that happen in every Christian’s life.

After the resurrection the disciples understood. God’s plan was made clear. Usually as time goes by I can see that God’s plan was better than mine. Sometimes I remain in the dark about why my prayer was answered with a “no” or in some other way that didn’t meet my expectations.

When you find yourself in a Crucifixion Saturday situation, just hold on and pray. God has not deserted you. He is working on your behalf. The fact that you can’t see it right now doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Remember the promise of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”