Friday, January 31, 2014

Go Ahead, Sell Me Something

When was the last time you were “sold” something? As soon as I hear a sales pitch winding up, I start looking for the nearest emergency exit. On the flip side, if I have a problem, I will beg someone to “sell” me a solution.

Several years ago, I saw this situation from another perspective. One of my clients is an importer of Mexican home furnishings. They invited me to travel through the mountains of Mexico to visit with their suppliers. We drove the curvy back roads from one small home-based workshop to another as my friends shared the artisan’s incredible life stories. Many of the people looked like photos in National Geographic Magazine. Their faces were chiseled from years of exposure to the sun. Their hands were tanned and calloused from carving wooden furniture.

My client sold the furniture in the United States in a retail store. The two-year-old store initially had strong sales, but had recently declined. They asked me to be a mystery shopper in the store to diagnose the problem.

First, I stopped a block away at the recently opened competition. It was a warehouse stacked to the ceiling with inexpensive, low quality Mexican imports. Next, I went in my client’s store. It was a small boutique with pottery, picture frames, tables, chairs and benches beautifully displayed with a handwritten price tag on each item. The sales people were friendly enough. There was room for improvement in their customer service, but overall it wasn’t horrible. I didn’t think it was enough to cause sales to dramatically drop off. I left the store wondering why customers were opting for the store down the street.

We took a survey of customers and found that most of them didn’t really “need” to buy Mexican furniture. They just wanted something unique. That suggested we should showcase the distinctive features of each piece. My client reworked the displays to include photos and stories of the craftsmen and women. Sales immediately went up.

Today’s gift was a conversation allowing someone to “sell” to me. I agreed to listen even though I didn’t want the service that the company was selling. I survived the sales pitch and preserved a friendship. And it really wasn’t too bad. Who knows, I may even need their service in the future and actually beg them to sell to me again.

In Giving,


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hero’s Among Us

Derrick, a 25-year-old front desk clerk at a Fairfield Inn & Suites in Atlanta, Georgia, is social media’s hero of the week. 

This past week, a snowstorm crippled Atlanta. An older guest approached the front desk of the hotel in tears. Her husband had just endured heart surgery. They had gotten stuck in gridlock and never made it home.

The couple was thankful to have a warm bed in the hotel, but he needed medication. She tried to walk to a pharmacy, but it was too slick. She wasn’t dressed for the frigid temperature either. Desperately, she asked if Derrick could help her.

His first phone call was to the hospital to see if they would deliver the prescription, but their staff was stranded. Then, he called every pharmacy in the region. He found one a mile and a half away that was open and could fill the prescription. At 4 a.m. when his second shift ended, he pulled on his not-warm-enough-coat and walked the distance. Although it was bitterly cold, he said “I was younger than she was and I could handle it. I felt like I had to be an example of hospitality. A part of hospitality is morality.”

A guest who witnessed his actions shared Derrick’s story on social media. It spread quickly because people found inspiration in his selflessness.

Today’s gift was to walk a friend’s dogs while she was out of town. I didn’t walk a mile and a half in the bitter cold, ice and snow to help an elderly couple get needed medication. All I did was walk around the neighborhood in the cold rain. I thought about Derrick and how it must have warmed his heart when he delivered the medication to the elderly couple. Thinking about it gave me a warm feeling, too.

In Giving,


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dreams Written Down

If you want to reach a goal, you must 'see the reaching' in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.                        Zig Ziglar                                                                                         

People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.    Brian Tracy                                                                               

 In my handwriting on the top of the piece of paper it says, “mid 1990’s.” Underneath were written the words, “Dream List.” It was buried deep within a file folder in my desk drawer.
  • Travel to Hawaii and surrounding islands
  • Travel to Europe—Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy
  • Tour the country in a Winnebago for a whole summer
  • Rent a beach house for the summer
  • Travel back to Banff, Canada
  • Explore Alaska
  • Horseback ride into the mountains and camp for several days
  • Learn another language
  • Fly without a motor like hang gliding, hot air balloon ride, glider, etc.
  • To have work that I love that makes enough income to live comfortably

Three years ago I had achieved all but two of them. Actually my priorities changed and even though I had opportunities, I chose not to pursue the final two. I believe that it is important to focus on what we want, but I didn’t know the power of writing it down, until I found this.

Today’s gift was to give a friend a “dream journal” that I had bought several years ago. I intended to use it for writing down my dreams, but had never taken it out of the clear plastic wrapper. I knew she needed a way to focus on the positive and towards the future. I hope she will also realize the power of writing down her dreams so that one day she will be a believer like I am.

In Giving and Dreaming,


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Live Dangerously

Years ago a friend sent this poster to me. It is still hanging on my wall today.

How to be an Artist
By Sark

Stay Loose.
Learn to watch snails.
Plant impossible gardens.
Invite someone dangerous to tea.
Make little signs that say Yes! and post them all over your house.
Make friends with freedom and uncertainty.
Look forward to dreams.
Cry during movies.
Swing as high as you can on a swing set, by moonlight.
Cultivate moods.
Refuse to “be responsible."
Do it for love.
Take lots of naps.
Give money away. Do it now. The money will follow.
Believe in magic.
Laugh a lot.
Celebrate every gorgeous moment.
Take moon baths.
Have wild imaginings, transformative dreams and perfect calm.
Draw on the walls.
Read every day.
Imagine yourself magic.
Giggle with children.
Listen to old people.
Open up.
Dive in.
Be free. Bless yourself. Drive away fear.
Play with everything. Entertain your inner child.
You are innocent. Build a fort with blankets.
Get Wet.
Hug trees.
Write love letters.

Today’s gift was to “invite someone dangerous to tea.” Well, it was actually coffee. And this person wasn’t really dangerous, but very influential. Ahhh! This is positive reinforcement for living dangerously and maybe inviting another important person to coffee or even to lunch.

In Giving and Living Dangerously,


Monday, January 27, 2014

The Gift with the Best of Intentions

Remember how you felt last time you got a parking ticket? Or maybe you remember that feeling when the police stopped you for a traffic violation. It is that feeling of flight or fight. Although when you get pulled over by Johnny Law, you can’t fight and you certainly can’t take flight.

I’ve only been pulled over by a policeman two times in almost 40 years since I got my license. The first time was in the mountains of Arizona. We were depressed as we returned home to Colorado after the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe in 1989 where our Mountaineers had taken a beating in the game. When the policeman stopped me he said that I was doing 55 mph on the straight section of road, but when I passed him I took the curve at 62 mph. This West Virginia girl knows how to drive those curvy roads. After he wrote the ticket, he saw a WV football hanging from the rearview mirror and asked if we were from there. Then he went on to say that he wouldn’t have given me a ticket if he’d known that!

The second time I got pulled over was just recently. I had turned onto the highway and was accelerating up the hill when I saw the red and blue lights. When the cop approached the car I remembered a friend, who gets pulled over often but rarely gets a ticket, said she always apologized profusely.

I said, “I am so sorry. I had just started speeding up and didn’t realize how fast I was going.” He said, “You may have been speeding, but that wasn’t why I stopped you. Back there where you turned right, the light was red and you didn’t stop. Although a lot of people think there is a green turn arrow, but there isn’t.” Now, I felt really stupid because I just confessed to something else for him to give me a ticket. So, I apologized again. He said he wouldn’t give me a ticket only a verbal warning. Whew! I thought to myself, I really need to pay-it-forward for not having gotten a ticket at all.

Today’s gift was to give someone money to help pay for their parking ticket. After I saw it, I wrote a short note saying that I wanted to help pay for their ticket, put money in an envelope and sealed it. Just as I got out of my car, I saw her pull out of the parking spot and drive away. I missed my chance. So, this random act of kindness turned out to be a gift that had the best of intentions, but didn’t get delivered.

In Giving,