“Don‘t Squat with Your Spurs On and Other Things we do to Sabotage Our Success”

08 August 2014 Categories: Blog, Success


Sometimes we do stupid things even when we know they’re stupid!

I love  “Old Cowboy Wisdom,” even though I’m not a cowboy. How many times have you done something so stupid you wondered why you were doing it?

These day’s businesses still think they are in control of what the consumers think and do. It’s just not so.

Consumers are in control and more empowered  than ever.  They  are creating their own experiences wherever they go and are demanding something unique no matter what the venue.  They expect every  retailer, not just major ones,  to create an emotional experience for them every time they show up. Consumers want to be cool according to their standards of “cool.”

Last night, I went to our new  Whole Foods Supermarket. It’s only been open for a month, and it’s still nicknamed “Whole Paycheck” by some of the locals. To compete as a supermarket you really have to work hard. Not only do you have to have great food and prices, but you have to come up with things no one has thought of. (I think I mentioned that Hannaford Brothers Supermarket had a gym within the store.) I wasn’t very impressed except for the produce department. The vegetables were arranged as if they were smiling from the shelves. That alone made them look like they should be more expensive. As I was checking out the clerk noticed there was no price on my candy bar. I explained I would go back and get one with the price on it. She said it wasn’t necessary I could have it for free! I told her I didn’t want it for free, but she insisted. Just because they made a mistake (or had they?) it should be free? To me this wasn’t terribly smart.  

  1. Think you’re not  allowed to make mistakes; if you give it away to the customer, you must have high enough margins to let it go by. Smart customers get that. If you’re dumb, how long will you stay in business? This isn’t Whole Foods.
  2. Finish your sales presentation telling the  customer “To have a nice day.” Really, this is another overused expression.
  3. Think that you shouldn’t have amazing events that make customers want to come back “again and again.” I was surprised to see they had Rip Esselstyn author of “Engine 2 Diet” talking about how to eat healthy by eating green and was signing books. There wasn’t a seat in the house, and he must have sold 100 books at $27.00 a book. He was also hawking his two-day  seminars. Don’t think there’re many vegetarians, think again.
  4. Greet each customer the same way with some canned presentation. You and I both know that customers are very distinct  and want to be treated like they’re special. Spend time talking about different ways to greet your customers. Treat everyone as if you’re dying to get to know them.
  5. Never follow-up with your customers. If you believe once they’re gone,   they’re gone,  and then  you’ll be left with few customers. The customer in front of you night be linked to your next customer.
  6. Don’t update your technology.  Do you think that paying for high-speed internet  is something you don’t need? Not having it is just frustrating.
  7. Don’t think you need to train your new staff? If you’re still pairing them with your  old geezers, you’re ruining your business. Infuse new staff with wonderful ideas and a glowing picture of where your company is going.
  8. Are you throwing away your customer surveys? These should be taken seriously, and random customer should be called for more information. My dentist receptionist made me wait 45 minutes to pay my bill. Instead of paying the bill I left them a note that said my time was as important as theirs. They called me at least four times before I spoke with them.
  9. Let all your calls go into your voice mail. I called the continuing education division of the schools today to find out about a particular class. I called at nine this morning and never got any kind of return message.   I actually called two departments. Isn’t this how they make money? Doesn’t anyone answer their phone?

There’s no such thing as business as usual; only business the way the customer wants it.

Lisbeth has been a coach and business consultant for over 20 years. To schedule a call with her or have her speak with your staff, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. http://blog.timesunion.com/success/author/lisbethcalandrino/.

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Want to be Successful? You’ll have to do your own Pushups

20 June 2014 Categories: Blog, Success

“You can’t hire someone else to do your push-ups for you.” Amen. Like your physical training program, you must take responsibility for your own mentoring program if you expect to gain anything from it.

Nobody wants to hear this but becoming a success takes work—lots of it. It also takes a lot of follow through which most people don’t like to hear either. If you pay attention to both, it’s likely you will be able to accomplish what you want.

These are really simple rules, so why don’t we “just do it?”

Many people talk about being rich but when you look at what they’re doing, you know it won’t make them any money. Most likely, they know that too. To get rich you have to invest your money before you spend it.  According to what I’ve read, most people have habits that cause them to fail financially. My mom used to say it’s a simple formula: you need to spend less than you make. Then you will have some left over to invest. I know this is a tough one; there are so many things to spend your money on with new things coming out every day.

If you want to be successful, you will have to spend lots of extra hours working at your trade. You need to ask yourself, do I have the gumption to keep at it and give up other things? It seems that both success and financial freedom require giving up something in the present to get what you want in the future. You will have to endure names like “workaholic, cheapskate and other unflattering descriptions. You must be willing to take consistent action and get out of your comfort zone. Dreaming will not get you much except maybe a good night’s sleep. You must take your dreams and turn them into actionable items.

I was listening to a friend of mine talk about her illnesses; most of which are fictional. Yes, she has a bad back but who doesn’t? She has been told to take Yoga and water aerobics to stretch her tight muscles.  She continues to go from doctor to doctor to get some sympathy and the magic pill. Why doesn’t she just do the work? She won’t because effort is out of her comfort zone. Her middle name should be “the easy way out.”

We’re all guilty of looking for short cuts. I have a friend who won’t train his dog to learn simple commands. He doesn’t care if the dog jumps on you, nips at your hand (he taught the dog to play rough) or doesn’t come when his name is called. (Of course he doesn’t know his name, why should he come?).  His owner is unwilling to do the work to socialize or make his dog successful.   Maybe it sounds silly when I say “successful” when talking about the dog, but he needs certain skills to live in society. One wrong move and he will be back in a shelter and considered not adoptable.

If you want results, you will have to take action. You can’t let things happen to you or say, “I’m not lucky.”

The sad thing about all of this is that we are all destined to become successful but only a small portion of us will make it.

Some of you are cuter, richer and smarter but not of this guarantees success.

You need to do the right things to get the results you’re after. How will you find out what you should be doing? The best thing is to learn from someone who is successful. Once you know how they did it, just apply the same strategies. At l least, it will put you on the right road. You may not get it exact the first time, but few successful people do. Just get a plan and keep at it.

I hate the expression “no pain, no gain” but it’s probably so. Be willing to sacrifice and you will get the rewards.

And like I said, you’ll have to do your own pushups.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been doing training and  mentoring for over 30 years. Join her in Panama City, FL for two days of workshops: sign up at http://www.mohawkuniversity.com/2DayPanamaCitySeminar2014.aspx

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Success Happens One Bite At A Time

29 September 2013 Categories: Blog, Success

One bite at a time.

I recently joined Weight Watchers. Those of you that know me are laughing—where is the weight? Well, I’ve put on 5 pounds and when you’re 4’11” every  ounce makes a difference. I figured, why not; I’ll learn something and lose the weight. I enlisted my running pal Molly, who also attends. (I don’t know why she goes , but she says she’s over her legal weight limit too!)

It was a very big group, and no one laughed when I got on the scale. “I said I’m here to get rid of those 5 pounds before they turn into 20.”

“Good idea said the woman behind the counter.” I knew this was serious.

I have always been weight conscious since my beloved grandmother died weighing well over 200 pounds, and she was also 4’11” tall. She used to treat me to hot fudge sundaes after we went to the movies. I remember she used to get on the scale and weigh herself. I asked her what she was doing, (I was too short to see the numbers.) She kindly said, “It’s none of your business.” That was Grandma Christina; always nice to me unless I mentioned her weight.

The history of Weight Watchers goes back to Jean Nidetch, a 41-year-old 214 housewife who decided to start her own support groups.


In 1963, Weight Watchers incorporated and had their first public meeting in Queens. There were 50 people standing in the wings because Jean had only rented 40 chairs! In 1978, it was sold to HJ Heinz and has continued to support health initiatives in this country.

The cheerful group leader was an 85-year-old dynamo that had lost 150 pounds 20 years ago. Actually, she was more like a drill sergeant; I liked her immediately. I thought, what a great job; helping people succeed.

After some niceties, the meeting began.

The first question was, why should we journal our food intake? She liked my answer, “It shows accountability; I yelled.”

You know I was always one of those kids who needed to be first and yell out the answers, and this was the place to do it. The takeaways were right on target. If you need some “pumping up” check yourself into Weight Watchers.

  1. You didn’t get fat in one day so don’t expect to get thin in one day. I love this! I would say, success is a process not an event so stay with it.
  2. If you fall off the wagon, get back on. One day off won’t kill you. I love the expression: Neither success nor failure is permanent. How much you can eat is determined by how much you weigh and is on a point system. They give you extra points weekly in case you fall off the wagon!
  3. Hold yourself responsible and keep track of your goals. Holding yourself accountable,  means you’re serious; if you want it, make it happen.
  4. Remind yourself of what you have done, not what you haven’t done. Making yourself a victim never helps other than to provide an excuse for yourself.


I couldn’t eat all my food points—you are told that you must. I was also told I probably not eating enough of the right foods and then overeating. (In my case, treating vegetables as my major food group.) Vegetables are free, eat as much as you like, but you need other foods other than pasta.

Not hungry yet and I had corn-on-the Cobb and olives with  my oatmeal this morning. So far, so good.


Rome also wasn’t built in a day either.


Lisbeth Calandrino helps businesses build loyal relationships with their customers through customer service and powerful communication training. To hire Lisbeth for your next event, she can be reached at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.



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Is Success What You Really Want? 11 Top Reads to Keep You Motivated in 2013

22 December 2012 Categories: Blog, Success

With the New Year around the corner, I start thinking, how will I continue to motivate myself to take on the tasks ahead.  The next statement is always, what are the tasks?

My friend, The Growth Coach,  John Stahl,  l told me not to let work get in the way.

Interesting thought.Work that really doesn’t make a difference?

I find that having a yearly plan helps me stay focused and show results. If you don’t do some soul searching, life will just drag you along, and you’ll become part of someone else’s success plan.

With the New Year around the corner, “we can all use a little prodding” to get us to success and more out of life. And who doesn’t want more out of life? Here’s my list of what I call “the read and re-read.” I’m also addicted to pod casts, listening to them every night before I go to sleep. Of course, I fall asleep in the middle but maybe my subconscious is getting it.


  1.  Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting, by Lynn Grabhorn. She calls her life journey “the physics of thought.”  The book is easy to read and gives us another link on how to get more out of life. Her theory is that we get what we want through feelings, not necessarily because of planning and sweating. The book helps you understand how your feelings can help or hurt you. Personally, I think it’s worth owning, underlining and reading it again
  2. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Miguel Ruiz This is an old book, but it too is super—easy read and it makes you want to call Miguel up and have a conversation. His best advice,  “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally. Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”  How many times a day do we take things personally? You can sign up for his Academy of Awareness which is very cool.
  3. Are you Ready to Succeed, by Srikumar S. Rao. This is another personal favorite. The book has readings, , exercises and lessons to help you reconstruct and improve your professional world. This has lots of ideas on “getting unstuck.”
  4. 212, The Extra Degree, by Sam Parker. The premise: at 211 degrees water is just hot. At 212 degrees, it becomes steam and is powerful enough to move a locomotive. Who can argue with this? The tiny book will keep you captivated and wanting to read it over again. Tapes are also available.  Read it out loud to anyone who will listen.
  5. Outliers,” by Malcolm Gladwell. This has to be one of the best books I’ve read. Based on the premise of when you were born, where you were born and what was going on in society had a huge effect on you. It made me look deeper into  my own life and how lucky I was to miss attending the first grade by one year! You’ll love this. If you can’t  get enough of Malcolm, I can’t,  start listening to Malcolm’s pod casts. Freakonomics.
  6. The Myth of the Entrepreneur by Michael Gerber. This is a quick with great insight. If you haven’t read it and own a business, go get it. This is definitely a reread.
  7. The Great Wing, by Dr.Louis Tartaglia. I just ordered 21 of these for a customer service class I’ve been teaching; it’s the kind of book you can’t’ put down. Gomer is a baby goose in the midst of learning how to survive the great yearly migration. Somewhere  in our lives, all of us have “bellied up to the bar” and done something we haven’t wanted to do. Fellow trainers Lou, Sam and I created a workshop for the board of directors at the Toledo Opera Company. It was a blast with everyone yelling, “flock yes.” A great parable and you will feel for Gomer’s struggle.
  8. Build from Scratch,  How a Couple of Regular Guys Grew The Home Depot from Nothing to $30 Billion, by Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank. A true life story about never giving up and those that believed.  Will there ever be another story like this?
  9. The Thank You Economy, by Gary Vaynerchuk. Who will win the customers? Not the rich guy but the guy who can show the customer how much he’s loved. A little longer read but really good.
  10.  What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekends: A Short Guild to Making the Most of  Your Days, by  Laura Vanderkam. No,  they’re probably not watching television but they’re staying away from their inbox and have a plan. Check this out.
  11. Abundance, by Peter Diamandis. The world is better than it looks and has plenty of opportunities. Get to this book fast.

What are you reading? I know Dan Alcorn must have a couple of good suggestions. Let us know your ‘good reads.’ Happy New Year.

Lisbeth Calandrino helps businesses build loyal customer relationships through customer service and sales training. she can be reached at redhotcusotmerservice@nycap.rr.com.

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Do You Know Where You’re Going?

09 November 2010 Categories: Blog, Blogging, Building a Brand, Change, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service, Economy, fun, Reaching the Consumer, Sales, Success

Take a riskI hope this article is timely for you; it is for me.  For many of us the  economy is still moping along and we’re trying to figure out what to do next. Consumers are changing their buying habits, myself included. Friends are downsizing their lifestyles and examining their life choices. The recession may be over, but the landscape has changed.  In many ways it’s unfamiliar; at least it is to me.   I’m in a different place too. It’s not a bad place, it’s just a different place and different doesn’t always feel right–especially in the beginning.

Change is good. Well, change is interesting but it’s more interesting if it’s happening to you rather than me. In my case, I find when it’s time  for a change I put more hours in at the health club! Somehow I know it’s a safe place for my mind and my body. I feel less stressed after my workout and  feel I’ve done something good for me.

Each of us is building new roads, repairing our highways and hopefully avoiding serious pitfalls.  I’m convinced that sharing this journey with positive friends who have good intentions will make our journey more pleasant and safe. It’s time to re-cultivate your the garden and  get rid of the weeds that might be choking you from making new decisions. Sometimes, these weeds come in surprising forms–forms we call “friends.”

Just as I’m writing this article, I received this from Kevin Clancey a Realtor in Albany, New York from his Monday Morning Mojo:

The biggest obstacle to creating a wonderful life is self-limiting beliefs. A self-limiting belief is an idea you have that you are limited in some way, in terms of time, talent, intelligence, money, ability, or opportunity. - Brian Tracy

At times we all have limiting beliefs, and there’s nothing to fear except fear itself and fear can be defined with the acronym “false evidence appearing real”. So, now what, where do you begin? It’s time for you to become your own coach, a good coach.

Speaking of coaches, one of my guests on Red Hot Customer Service Show was John Stahl from The Growth Coach of New York  serving business owners throughout the Northeast. John talks about limiting beliefs. Of course, beliefs simplify our lives but limiting beleifs dis-empower and hold us back. John talks about “getting comfortable with being uncomfortable” while making changes. If you’re talking about business challenges, Johns says the biggest challenge is between the ears of the business owner. I think this is a problem that many of us share.

Coach Vincent Lombardi once said that the difference between a good coach and a bad coach is the good coach always knew what the end would look like. If you don’t know where your want to go, how will you get there? If you get wherever “there” is, how will you know it’s the right place? In Warren Bennis’s book, “View from the Top“, he examines ninety leaders and found that one of key strategies was “attention through vision.”

What’s vision you ask? Vision can be a simple act or a thought; what do I really want out of life?

What makes me happy?

What are my dreams, my goals or my purpose? What would I like more of in my life?

I know I want more time at the lake.

Sometimes visions are statement for the future, a destination that you want to achieve. Last year I joined Toastmasters. I have competed in several events and recently joined the advanced Toastmasters Group. My goal is to continue to advance my speaking craft–I love speaking. The club gives me the opportunity to test new topics, get feedback and make changes. It’s a way to continually focus on something that’s important in my life.

Your vision may be simple. If you are invested in the outcome and feel ownership over your vision, then the happiness is in the journey– the appreciation of the uniqueness of the components it takes to get there.

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Miracle on the Hudson River: One Passenger’s Experience

09 September 2009 Categories: Blog, Success

Jorge-sully “No time to blink, no time to think.”

That’s how Jorge Morgado describes the experience and the day that would change his thoughts and his life forever. What started out as a normal day for Jorge didn’t end that way. He had his breakfast, coffee and a kiss goodbye. While most of us don’t think: will this be the last kiss?, for some reason Jorge did think about it on his way out the door.

This is how Jorge calmly describes to me what happened on January 15, 2009, the day that US Air flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River with 155 passengers aboard.

It was a nasty, snowy day as the five golfers headed out on the Merritt Parkway to pick up their friends and cousins for the drive to LaGuardia Airport in NYC to catch their Spirit Air flight to Myrtle Beach, SC. The usually 1½ hour ride to the airport turns into a 3½ hour fiasco. The snowstorm on the Merritt, bumper-to-bumper traffic and a series of airport “mishaps” — missed flights, cancelled flights and an eventual rebooking on US Air’s flight 1549. As luck has it, the six golfers from Mass get the last six seats on this historic flight. Not only did they get the last six seats, but since it was only a one way (they were still on Spirit Air for the return home) they qualified for a one-on-one special screening by TSA. Weather delays, special screening, plane changes turned a group of strangers into fast friends. Little did they know how important this would prove to be. As it is often said, “things happen for a reason.”

Us-air Finally, the six board the plane, taking the last six seats and separating them during the flight. The six find themselves not sitting next to old friends, but next to — what would be — their “new and lifelong friends.”

Things seemed pretty normal. Snow, delays but finally a take off. “One of the last things I noticed was Trump’s plane while he was on the runway,” Jorge remembers. Take off, the booming sound of something in the engines, a funny smell (cooked geese in the engines, Jorge supposes). “I heard the Captain yell prepare for impact. I just saw everyone else with their heads down and I just followed. It was a hard landing, luggage flying all over, people praying and darkness. I felt the water coming up over my ankles.”

What followed next was not ordinary, but extraordinary. 155 passengers got out of the plane in one piece, without injury to each other.

Us-air2 “I yelled and looked for my brother in law and I found him,” says Jorge. “And then there were the children. People yelling, get the children out. There were three kids on board that were separated from their parents that we instinctively knew we had to get them and their parents off the plane. Then started the craziness, people wanting to swim from the plane, pushing out the door, and jumping into the water. I just knew this was wrong. It was about 20 degrees out. All of a sudden someone yelled, stop, don’t jump and let’s get organized. A passenger on board suddenly took charge.”

“In my mind,” Jorge continues, “this was the turning point. It was all about leadership. Someone who was willing to take charge and make it happen. Preparing us to work together for our survival. Slowly and methodically we grabbed our seat cushions, it seemed like a smart thing until we realized how cold the water was, and we filed out of the plane. As we got out of the plane we realized that getting us off the plane was a lot harder than we thought. Ferry boats with huge wakes making it impossible to board, helicopters causing more havoc and most of us freezing. We pulled the ‘swimmers’ out of the water and shared our dry clothing. We knew it would be a long day.”

“Eventually help was on the way and there was a briefing from law enforcement: were we terrorists? Then a hotel, food, dry clothes and calls to/from our families. We no sooner got in touch with them and we were on national TV and everyone’s Twitter.”

Who are all of these 155 passengers? About 100 are now best friends forever. “Many of us call each other daily, we will be in each other’s lives forever,” says Jorge. “Lots of kind people. An investment banker friend of Nick Faldo said he was sure Nick would want to help, and soon enough we were invited to his golf course and got autographed photos. Of course we lost our clubs and Titleist called and invited us down to their manufacturing plant to fit us all for custom clubs.”

I also met Rob, Jorge’s uncle-in-law who was also on the flight. Another person with memories and thoughts about going forward. “Living life every day has never been more true,” says Rob.

Here’s what Jorge’s keeps in mind these days — for both life and business:

  • “How important life is, friends, family, even strangers.  If I didn’t know before of their importance, I really know now.”
  • “Working together, how important team work can be. It saved our lives and prevented serious injury.”
  • “Live each day with zest and excitement. Yes, it may be your last.”
  • “Prepare for your future with today in mind. Make each day count for something.”
  • “Everyone you meet and in your life matters—period.”
  • “Don’t be afraid to ‘just do it.’ Sometimes you don’t know if it’s right or wrong; you just have to put yourself out there.
  • “Give thanks daily, to those you love and make a difference. In a blink it can be over.”
  • “Live life as if it matters. It does.”
  • “Look for the humor in life. As we stood on the boat looking back at the plane, a fellow golfer  turned to me and said, ‘We can still drive [to Myrtle Beach], you know.'”

“Of course, we didn’t realize then that our golf clubs were in the Hudson!” Jorge says.

The group have since reunited for the golf outing, which took place in April. Photos here.

Thank you Jorge for sharing your memories and experience with us. If you haven’t seen it yet, this animated sequence shows what happened with Flight 1549 that day. The timing has been condensed so it’s more of a ‘fast-forward’ dramatization rather than a minute-by-minute one.

(photo at top: Jorge Morgado and Captain Chesley ‘Sully‘ Sullenberger)


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You Never Know Where the Next Best Idea is Going to Come From

27 June 2009 Categories: Networking, Success

Dollarbillorigami2 In Search of New Sources of Revenue

Like many of you, I am working harder than ever to maintain the level of business this year versus last. As I work on the core of my business – consulting, training, writing books, etc. – I am always searching for new revenue streams.  Who isn’t looking to make more money?  

My search led me to look into the field of direct selling. I know what you’re thinking: "What’s Lis gone off and done now?"  Hear me out.  

Direct selling, also known as multilevel marketing (MLM), is sometimes confused with what people call "pyramid schemes." According to my research, although seemingly the same, direct selling and pyramid schemes are very different.  By definition pyramid schemes rarely involve a product of value. The income from a pyramid scheme comes primarily from the recruiting of other associates.   On the other hand, multi-level marketing is a marketing strategy that compensates promoters not only for product sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of others they introduced to the company. With multilevel marketing, you can continue to make money by selling the product even if you never recruit another person.

The products and company are usually marketed directly to consumers and potential business partners by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing, basically another form of retail marketing. In a 2007 Wall Street Journal interview, economist Peter Vander Nat stated, "If people are buying because they want to use a company’s products, those sales can count as retail. So now I'm wondering is, could network marketing simply be another retail business without a store?

The most recognized MLM businesses have been Amway, Avon Products and Tupperware, to name a few.  These days, you see MLM businesses for all kinds of products and services.  Health and wellness is a huge MLM segment (think Herbalife, Melaleuca, etc.).  The majority of direct sales companies use a compensation plan where the seller is paid not only for their own sales, but also a percentage of the sales of other representatives they introduced into the organization and helped train.  The key to success in any MLM business is in duplicating a system and then leveraging that system through the work of other associates on your team.  You do not need to be successful sales professional to be successful in direct selling. 

The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations reports that its 59 regional member associations accounted for more than US $114 billion in retail sales in 2007, through the activities of more than 62 million independent sales representative. The United Sates Direct Selling Association reported that in 2000, 55% of adult Americans had at some time purchased goods or services from a direct selling representative and 20% reported that they were currently (6%) or had been in the past (14%) a direct selling representative.

You can see why the multi-level marketing industry has experienced growth in each of the last 20 years.  I can’t think of any other industry that can say the same.

The second part of this recipe for success involves the explosion of the Internet.  Every day over 100 million videos are viewed on YouTube.  In the last 5 seconds, 10 million emails have been sent! According to a New York Times article, overall, 57 percent of Internet use was devoted to communications like e-mail, instant messaging and chat rooms, and 43 percent for other activities including Web browsing, shopping and game playing. Users reported that they spent 8.7 percent of their Internet time playing online games. I guess what it says is that people are online.

Direct selling has seen entrance into the world of email, video and the video email business.

What’s next? Stay tuned for my experience with direct selling  and new technology. 
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A Homecoming Can Be All That You Make It and More

16 June 2009 Categories: Networking, Reaching the Consumer, Success

CN-liz1 Several weeks ago I was invited to speak at Carpet Network’s Homecoming 2009 in San Antonio, TX. Carpet Network is a shop-at-home franchise founded in the early 90s by Christine and Lenny Rankin. At the time they had a very successful floor covering store and decided to take their concept to the next level. It was obvious to Chris that it was often difficult for customers to make decisions in the store. It was much easier when the customer looked at the products in their own home. "With that," says Chris, "the shop-at-home concept that was to be Carpet Network was born."

CN-liz2 Chris continues. "At the time, when retail stores are struggling to survive, our mobile concept is booming. Our state-of-the art Unicell vans allow our customers to view thousands of carpet, floor and window covering selections from the comfort of their homes or business."

Just a note about franchised business, they are successful for one main reason: they have a proven system in place. There is no question McDonalds and Dunkin’ Donuts have survived because of their systems.  Franchise businesses have a failure rate of only 25% within the first five years, and traditional businesses have a failure rate of about 80%. It’s the system that works. By buying a franchise you are buying into a set system of rules and regulations that have been tested and work.

Fiesta Time!

CN-liz3 So, what better place to hold a “homecoming” but in San Antonio during Fiesta time. A local nonprofit group or military organization sponsors every one of the 107 official Fiesta events of 2009. Fiesta is one of America’s truly great festivals. It began as a way to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. For over 100 years Fiesta has celebrated the diversity and culture of San Antonio.

The theme of Homecoming 2009 for Carpet Network was all about how franchisee members could take advantage of new ways to build their business. Social networking with Facebook and Blogging spurred much great discussion. Facebook seems to be a way of communicating for everyone these days — including the Fiesta — with their page hosting hundreds of comments as well as information on events.  With golf events, carnival, great food and music, San Antonio at Fiesta is a wonderful place for a convention. 

CN-liz4 Speaking of social networking, Lenny Rankin, CEO of Carpet Network, gave some interesting facts on social media*.

  • 85% of Americans believe a company should not only be present via social media but also interact with its consumers.
  • 60% of Americans interact with companies on a social medial web site, and one in four interacts more than once a week.
  • 56% of American consumers feel both a strong connection with and better serviced by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment.

Of course no business event is compete without its stars. Dave Fitzwater was chosen for the President’s Award, Carpet Network’s highest achievement.  I had the opportunity to talk with Dave and get his thoughts about Carpet Network’s mobile business and why they are so effective. Here's what he said:

  • The ability to go to the customer is key. You don’t have to wait for the customer to come to your place; you have been invited to theirs. It’s important to be professional and organized.
  • Without a storefront your overhead is greatly reduced. Having a well-equipped mobile showroom is just as effective as a brick and mortar business.
  • People get connected to the person with the products. Not the products or the storefront—but the person. Often times this gets misinterpreted by salespeople. They push their products instead of building their own credibility.
  • You must have good training and support from your home office. Having a good franchise behind you keeping up with trends and providing good back up is key.  

Great weather, wonderful town and great people; what could be better?


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Who Are the Sherpas in Your Life?

06 March 2009 Categories: Success

Sir Edmund Hillary was a New Zealand mountaineer and explorer. On May 29, 1953, at the age of 33, he and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers known to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. As part of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition he reached the South Pole overland in 1958. He would later also travel to the North Pole.

It is interesting to note that in light of this ascent, all the photos that existed of the mountaineers on the top showed only Tenzing. When asked why there were no photos featuring Hillary, Sir Edmund replied, "Tenzing did not know how to operate the camera and the top of Everest was no place to start teaching him how to use it." Hillary and Tenzing remained friends throughout their lives. It’s a good thing Sir Edmund did not have to prove he was on the top of the mountain.

In 1998, on July 20th, I was heading for Anchorage to do some training and was quite surprised when the flight attendant said we had a celebrity on board who was having a birthday. Of course I looked around for Madonna and then a tall elderly slender man stood up and was announced as Sir Edmund Hillary. I lined up to shake hands with him, which I did, but of course I didn’t  have my camera. How could I have known?

Which leads me to why I wrote this. Why do people climb mountains or do anything like that?

Why excel? Why not just be comfortable and let others break their necks?

Why? Because life comes just once, just this time (or so we think), and I know you know that but how much time do you spend thinking about things and not doing them?

I had a call from a friend of mine, asking if I thought she should go out with so-and-so and what would people think and should she share that with so-and-so? She has known the man for about 40 years. I think that passes the statue of limitations, doesn’t it? All names have been hidden to protect the innocent if there are any. So I suggested she get on the plane, meet him in Paris and have a great time and don’t share it with anyone. I mean, who really cares?

We make everyone else in charge of our happiness except ourselves. That’s why I wrote my little book, "Even Goldfish Get Measles," which talks about how we focus so much on our unhappiness. It will soon be available on this site for you to read. Just know: I’m no different than anyone. I worry plenty about what I think others are thinking. The thing is, most of us are way too self-absorbed to worry about anyone other than ourselves.

The Beatles wrote a song called "Happiness is a Warm Gun."  Of course this is open to all kinds of interpretation. Maybe a gun is warm after it is fired–happiness (release) is achieved when you escape misery. Or perhaps the song describes a state of grief in which one is willing to take drastic measures in order to alleviate the condition. But why be miserable  even if you have a good reason?

So what is happiness? Does it mean getting ahead of the Jones or being the Jones? Some of the research on happiness has shown that though more money above a certain level does not correlate much with more happiness, having more money than your neighbor does. After the “R” thing is over, we might not have many rich people. They are saying that happiness will look very different.

Pam Danziger, from Unity Marketing,  predicts that even when the recession is ended and the luxury market comes back, it won't be the same as it was before this crisis. Changes are taking place among luxury consumers that will require new strategies and new approaches for luxury marketers post-recession. She says, "The luxury consumer market is shifting away from conspicuous consumption where 'he who dies with the most toys wins' to a new enlightened mindset of caring and sharing and where enhancing the quality of life is the goal. After 10-20 years of an extended spending spree, the luxury consumers have discovered that the pursuit of material wealth isn't the answer." A new and different kind of happiness!

If you envy your neighbor, you will begin to hate him — but who will shovel your walk when it gets really snowy around here or pick up your newspaper and throw it on your porch before it gets rained on? Your neigbor might start curbing his dog on your flower bed; happens a lot where I live!

If you feel envy, it sort of implies you can’t get out of your own way and get what you want. Bad excuse for not living  up to your own potential. Being envious separates you from yourself and whatever life force you might have. It also means the rest of the world (here it comes again) is in charge of your life.

Okay so we are all human and sometimes we have strong feelings about what we don’t have. How about some strong feelings about what you do have. There are lots of people who have lost lots; if that’s not you, rejoice. 

When I start getting into negative mentality I think of those sherpas who help others achieve their dreams, never requesting acknowledgment or glory in return, but without whom most people would probably fail on their journey. I think of those sherpas in my life, helping me move along and not asking for anything in return. How about you? Are there any sherpas in your life?

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Looking to Keep Your Job? Keep Yourself Employable

04 February 2009 Categories: Success

Today I got an email from Job Market Weekly. I don’t know what it means but I figure it means something — in this case a big something. Are you prepared for the future?

I get at least one email a week from someone who has lost a job. Rarely do I get emails saying, "What should I do to update my career or my resume?"

With unemployment statistics what they are, it’s frightening. The key is to keep yourself employable. How do you do this then? Ask yourself if the skills you have today will keep you relevant in your job in 2, 5, 10 years. Take a look at your resume and ask whether you would want to hire you. What have you been doing  with your schooling since high school or college?

Maybe you love your job, and you’re doing great and you’re not worried. But business is a partnership; just as you want the owner to keep on top of trends, products and the bottom line, it’s your responsibility to keep up your end. Suppose the business gets sold; would you look as good to the next owner? Or do you look good now because you're related to the present owner?

A good friend of mine just lost her job. It  started me thinking about someone I know named Janice. Ten years ago, I volunteered with Vocation and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID), a New York State agency dedicated to helping people with physical problems get back into the work force. Having been an employer, I thought this would be a good place for me to use my skills and help others.

Although the agency gave me some guidelines for reporting and a budget for incidentals and transportation, they didn’t prepare me for Janice — a 38 year-old, 6-foot tall woman with a master’s degree in criminal justice and arthritis so bad that some days she couldn’t hold a glass of water or a wash cloth. She had no family, was living on welfare, had not held a job since struggling and graduating from grad school five years prior. She had pretty much given up, was depressed, and some days could barely stand up straight. And did I mention her anger?

Long story short, it took us one year to get Janice a job. The thing is, nothing conventional really worked for Janice. We got plenty of job interviews because of her schooling, but some how nothing clicked.

Here's what we did to change things though. We got Janice some new clothes. Where? At the Salvation Army, Goodwill and other places that supplied clothing for those returning to the workplace. We looked for marked-down stuff, bought it on sale, went to churches and yard sales, etc. It was a great start, and Janice started to look better.

We went to Macy’s and the cosmetic counters, told them Janice was returning to the workplace and got lots of freebees. Shiseido offered makeup and other work tips. At first Janice was uncomfortable with the charity. But then it became fun and she realized she was a valuable member of society. Everyone we met wished her luck and knew someone who knew someone. If you can believe it, we found there was even free plastic surgery available!

We looked for free classes on computer skills, sales skills and more job training. Janice was smart, but we decided to make her smarter and well rounded. She knew police work, but those skills were getting old.

We went to not-for profits, Planned Parenthood socials, the library, the health clubs, the jails, the local prison, the state police academy, the city police — no jobs! It got pretty depressing for me too. Although looking and feeling better than she had in a long time, Janice had to work very hard at keeping her spirits up.

Okay, so what worked? Interestingly, it was her desire to volunteer with the city police. It wasn’t easy getting them to take her in — even for one day a week — but they finally agreed. Eventually she worked her way up to three days a week. And she was good! She knew the police stuff backwards and forwards, she was from Brooklyn and had worked with the police there for several years. She knew the “customers” — she was both tender and tough. After six months she had made herself indispensible, so they created a job for her.

I saw Janice six years later. She yelled to me from across the street and I hardly recognized her. She stood straighter, even with her cane. Her hair was braided and pulled back. She had on lovely makeup and was getting into her car. She said it was the first car she had ever owned, which went along with her first  driver’s license.

I smile when I think of Janice.

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