Sunday, July 14, 2019

Customer Service


This is a quote from Leon Gorman, who was the president and Chairman of the Board for L.L.Bean. His grandfather founded the company in 1912. He took it upon himself to learn every aspect of the business. The one very important thing that Mr. Gorman knew was that customer service had to come first, along with quality products.

Whether the consumer is shopping in a store or online or by phone, the consumer must feel that they are important. This comes about through quality training of any employee that comes in contact with customers. Every way that employees interact with the customers can make or break a deal. 

Briefly, let me say that there are stores that I just do not go inside due to the fact that there is no one there to assist me. There are times when I may need help finding something. If I receive an attitude, as if to say that they do not have time for me, then I know my business is not needed there. It is a simple thing to just leave. 

The days of "the customer is always right" is most definitely not the case many times in retail stores or on the phone. If the employees are trained well in handling an irrate customer then all will work out. If my job is in customer service then I must expect some rude customers. It is my job to try to appease them. Employees must know the store policies and ways to convey this to customers in a quiet and professional manner. 

With all of the social media today, one person's report of being undervalued or not treated fairly can go viral. Smart business owners know that it is much easier to keep customers happy instead of having to go out to bring in more. More customers are eventually not going to be coming if they hear too many negative reviews.

The face to face, in the store, is just one kind of customer service to work on. This past week I found myself having to deal with a few problems that needed the attention of a live human being on the phone. I called the customer service number that I found for them and had to go through 10 - 15 minutes of pushing buttons that a recorded message was giving me. Questions about the reason that I was calling and giving me examples and which button to press. Except none of the examples were the reason that I was calling. I felt helpless each an every time. 



What did I do? I just picked something close to what I needed. This led me to another prompt of questions from an automated recorded message. It seemed as if I were in a spiral of automated recorded messages. Now, mind you, in between these spirals of going through pressing buttons, I always would get the message of, "All of our representatives are busy. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered in the order that it was received." Next, comes some of the most annoying music that is known to mankind.

After the spiraling through the never ending recordings, a real live human being comes on the line. Most of the time, they are courteous and helpful. Unless, you need to be transferred to some other department. Then, all I can say is that I am now hoping that my call is not disconnected and that I have to start the process all over again. This actually did happen to me twice this week.

If I am dealing with a company that I can stop giving my business to and switch to someone else...then I take that option. There are times when it is not a choice. I would say more often then not, this is where the attitudes come in and the longer customers are left in limbo on the phone line.

Providing exceptional service should not be rocket science. It must start from the top down, which means attitudes and employee training. Employees who are specifically trained in the art of quality customer service will keep your company alive and well. Employees will remain loyal because as the leader, you have empowered them on how to deal with difficult customers.

Surveying customers is a fabulous way to get the information that you need to help you adjust any under performance that should be worked on in your company. Rewarding those staffers who go above and beyond in their efforts will always pay dividends.



Sunday, July 7, 2019

Is There a RIght or Wrong Way?









 If you had asked this question of me a few months ago, I would have said that there is no absolute right or wrong way to practice gratitudes. Ahh, I was so wrong. It wasn't until I was talking with someone about this very subject: practicing gratitudes. 

It is already a proven fact in thousands of scientific studies that developing a grateful mindset is one of the best ways to live a happier and healthier and longer life. It helps each of us be more creative and productive. 



While talking with others about this topic, I started noticing that what they said they wrote or thought about what they were grateful for was so very general. Examples such as, "I am grateful for my family, I am grateful for having a job, I am grateful for my children." All are great things to be grateful for but we need to hone in on more specifics. 

To begin and end our days with specific things that made us grateful or even expressing your authentic gratitude towards another person is what gets your mindset in place for positivity. We need to focus on the small gratitudes. Some things that I can share that I am grateful for on a smaller level are:

  • I am grateful for our newest puppy who greets me with happiness, even it if is 5:30 in the morning.
  • I am grateful for our older puppy who needs protecting from his younger sister at times. (He is such a gentleman.)
  • I am grateful that my husband makes a cup of coffee and brings it to me while I am fixing my hair and makeup in the morning.
  • I am grateful that we have a daughter who calls daily just to say hi and how are you doing. And a son who calls when he is in town and not flying to meet up for lunch or just to check in on us.
  • I am grateful for a son and daughter-in-law who sends us pics and videos of our twin granddaughters who are 6 hours away.

It becomes too overpowering just to say that I am grateful for all of our children. What specifically that day did they do to make you feel that way?

We really don't realize just how powerful our minds are. What we think can turn our world around in a positive way. It helps us to see the good in the world when we focus on the beautiful things around us such as the green, green grass, the gorgeous blooming flowers, the blue sky, the rain that makes the flowers grow.


On the other hand, think about it. If all you focus on is the ugly and bad that is what you will see. It is a negative cycle that becomes very difficult to get yourself out of. Concentrating on what we have, instead of what we don't have helps the two of us feel good of the directions that we are headed.

Actions from the words in our minds become our characters, our very own individuality. 

 



Sunday, June 30, 2019

Humility







 The most important thing that I came away with while researching the topic of humility is the actual definition from the dictionary. It is a noun that means a modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness. An example given was, "He needs the humility to accept that their way may be better."

My decision to write on this topic came up through my thinking while reading the news and hearing of current events that seemed to give the impression that humility was a weakness. It actually is the exact opposite.





It is a way of behaving that shows others that you don't think that you are better or more important than other people. In our culture today, we need more people who practice the art of humility. It means letting go of our egos. If our ego is in charge then it becomes impossible to be humble.

Another false misconception is that people confuse having a humbling experience with being humiliated. It is not the same thing. Humble is something that we are. Humiliation is something we feel. Sports give perfect examples of the difference between these two words. Many times it is the luck of the draw that decides the winning goal or point. How the winning team responds to the losing team can be interesting to watch. Sometimes both teams made mistakes and could have made a humiliating error. Yet if they pick themselves up and get back in the race, so to speak, then they have shown exactly how humble they are. 



Humility matters because it has the power to change many aspects of our lives. The more humble that we are, the more likely that help finds a way to us. Life, after all, is a team sport. Having a team is never enough if the team does not have feelings towards one another's strengths and accepting weaknesses without humiliation. Life is all about people and relationships. Ask yourself if you would rather spend time with an egomaniac or someone who puts your needs first? The answer seems easy enough, yet what I read, see and hear in the news is giving me a reason to question this theory. Our society as a whole could do with more humility.

A wonderful example of a leader with humility is Gandhi. Great things can be accomplished and society benefits from this kind of governance. When one gains control of their ego they become less likely to act aggressively, or to manipulate others or to express dishonesty. 

It starts with embracing our humanness. Learn from our mistakes. Practice mindfulness and self-compassion. Know what our own strengths are and accept what we need to work on and ask for help to learn more. Definitely we must let go of judging ourselves and painting a distorted view. 




Practicing gratitude can make us less self-focused and more focused on those around us which is the ultimate definition of a humble person. The journey toward cultivating humility is not just for the average person. It is something that we all should be aware of and practice daily. Steven Tyler wrote about it:




Without mentioning any specific leaders, because there are plenty, my wish would be that they would all practice humility. Some of our greatest leaders have worked toward this goal. One example is Nelson Mandela.



Sunday, June 23, 2019

Self-Care

This past week I have heard so many times from individuals just how stressed they are feeling; whether it is from their job, their home life, their children, their fitness or lack of fitness, and the list goes on and on.

It is called LIFE. I love just remembering to keep my plan in place about self-care. Please let me explain my take on self-care. You can buy in to it or throw it out the window. It is what works for me. The very definition of self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. It is important to let go of what you can't control and one of the best ways is to stay away from drama and negativity.

Really, it is very simple but is overlooked many times so the stress grows. Good self-care is the one way to improve moods and reduce anxieties. It also is the essential key to a good relationship with oneself and with others. Self-care means that you treat yourself with the same love and compassion as you would a friend. It is not being selfish if you want to be there to give help to your loved ones. It is a key ingredient to living a balanced life. No one can be Little Miss Sunshine all of the time. What is important is to know what kind of self-care you may need to pick yourself back up again.



Knowing what self-care is not may help to explain it in a better way. It is not something that we force on ourselves, nor is it something that we do not enjoy doing. It must refuel our tanks rather than drain us dry. It is not a luxury. It is a necessity. 

My version of self-care is to have a quiet moment and breathe. Thinking of what can I do for ten minutes that will help me feel refreshed. It is like hitting the reset button on your IPad. I actually try to find little ten minute time frames throughout my day to practice a reset.

Taking a ten minute moment with our dogs, whether it be cuddling or playing fetch is a great way to reset my outlook. Ten minutes of reading, doodling, writing in my journal is another great reset for me. Even taking a drawer apart to declutter it helps my frame of mind. My fitbit reminds me to get up and take a 250 step walk now and then. Everyone has their own little things that can be a reset button. I even have my lists of what will not reset my happy button such as checking in on e mails at night, attending gatherings that I really don't want to be at, answering robo calls, and saying yes when I mean to say no.



On a larger scale of self-care it may be hard, yet I find it very rewarding to eek out time each day to be creative, whether it be cooking, writing, painting or drawing. Even a manicure, pedicure, massage, bubble bath or a facial will be self-care on a larger scale. Reflecting on my day of what happened that made me feel grateful and writing this in my journal always reminds me of just how good of a day I had. Maybe it was the fact that our new puppy let us sleep in and my sleep quality improved. Using positive language when I am talking to myself, and yes, I talk to myself and I usually have fairly good conversations.



Always make time for family and friends is something that I must admit, I had to breathe and take a deep breath sometimes. If I am in the middle of something, like paying bills or on a roll with my writing, or cooking and I get a call from someone, I now always ask myself can what I am doing wait? Here is someone reaching out to me, even if it is just a brief phone call from my darling daughter or granddaughter. How special is it that she calls me daily? I get to hear about her day, and then both granddaughters want to tell me something important to them. This just brings tears to my eyes that they love including me in their everyday life. They are an hour away, so we don't get to see them often. Our other two granddaughters are 6 hours away and except for pictures or little video clips we are not quite as in tune with them. Maybe, I am hoping, when they are older.

The basics of self-care are really rather easy. Start with keeping it simple. Somethings just happen, but when it comes to planning your self-care, it is important to actively plan and be aware of what you do and know why you are doing it. For example: I despise vacuuming. So I automated it. A robot vacuum is perfect for me and gives me time to take care of me. 

Pacing myself has always been a struggle. I tend to want everything done now or yesterday. Setting realistic goals so that I don't feel overwhelmed is important. I must actively work on pacing myself to achieve the results that I want to accomplish.

Jump starting my day is with a quiet (when the newest puppy isn't yapping to go outside) moment after the alarm goes off to just stretch while still in bed and feel myself come alive. I actually love to have the bed made as one of my simple tasks to complete. Checking the few plants in the bedroom to see if they need water and then working on getting into my day. 

Finding my mantra for the day and sharing it is one thing that I love to do. It sets my own mental outlook for the day. There are times that I must continue to refer back to that mantra or even make a new one. It seems like our two dogs are making it easy to look for opportunities to laugh. They are quite amusing together. 


Here is a quote that I came across which was attributed to at least five different people. To me, it explains my concept of self-care perfectly.

Happiness is the new rich.
Inner Peace is the new success.
Health is the new wealth.
Kindness is the new cool.

Monday, June 17, 2019

To Quit or Not to Quit?

The question of 'to quit or not to quit,' I suppose determines on what it is I want to quit. Growing up, I always tried to persevere. It was rather drilled in to my head by my Mom. Never have I considered myself a quitter. 

Vince Lombardi

Give it a chance! That was my motto and still is. Without going into details, an example would be when a bump in the road came into my life toward the end of my freshman year in college, I did not quit. Instead, I promised my Mom that I would continue on with my education. I not only did this but managed to graduate a semester early. 

Somehow, I have always considered quitters as being weak and this was never something that I wished to be called. Determination and stubbornness won out for me. 

Then one day, I read an article about how quitting can be a very positive thing. How? Let me go into some real-world examples. The founder of Whole Foods dropped out of college several times over a six year period. When it dawned on him that all along what he wanted more than anything was to open his very own grocery store. And so he did...

Billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg quit Harvard to build his goal of Facebook. 

'The Rock,' aka Dwayne Johnson was originally a football player with the Canadian Football League. He quit to join the World Wrestling Federation. His success with wrestling led him into acting. He is one of the highest paid actors in the world. 

The difference with quitting in these examples and what I try to do for myself is ask this question: Is quitting better than just carrying on? Delving in deeper by doing some heavy duty thinking about what I am doing now...  is it helping me get to what I want to achieve.

Each individual must ask and answer this question honestly. "Quitting is not giving up. It is choosing to focus your attention on something more important." Osayi Osar-Emokpae put a whole new spin on quitting with this quote. 


Asking myself about why I am doing this and is this adding value to my life are important questions. 




Definitely not something to take lightly. To me, the biggest take away that I learned from researching quitting was that no one should feel bad about quitting if they did some soul searching first. All winners have quit many times and many of these times it was an important part of the journey in finding true happiness. 

Epilogue:  What made me research this subject was in writing my novel. I have had so many interruptions that I wondered if I should just put this goal aside. By asking myself why I started and would I accomplish what I wanted to if I kept going, I knew the answer! DO NOT QUIT! It will happen, step by step.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Real Story From the Two Dogs

Lola and Smiley may have their version of the Tale of the Two Dogs, but we are both here to tell you our version; the REAL Story as told by me, Davis, the black goldendoodle and by my little sister, Maggie Mae. 

Because I am the oldest, I get to go first. Everything was going along fine with me being the only dog in my house. I had all the love and attention that any dog could ever hope for. Was I spoiled? Totally! Who could resist my curly fluffy fur and my big brown eyes that I learned early exactly how to use, especially when I did something naughty, wanted a treat or was really in need of a back scratching.

The one thing that I must admit was just how much I love, love, love playing with other dogs. The only time that I get to do this is when Lola and Smiley take me to WGAC Doggie Day Care. This usually happens twice a week. It is so much fun and it made me start to think about how nice it would be to have a brother or sister at home to play with all the time.

And so the search began. My Lola and Smiley took me for a drive to see about getting a brother or sister. I loved going to this special place called Goldendoodles by Kim's Design because it is where I came from. Kim seemed to really love seeing me all grown up and gave me lots of love and hugs. 

We went into the kennel and as she brought out puppies one at a time, I must say that I was not that impressed. Until this one little female came out and both of our tails were wagging in unison. It was like an instant connection between us. She nestled into me and actually even pulled on my tail. She wanted to play. Somehow, I knew she was the one that we should take home. 

Lola and Smiley called her Maggie Mae. By the way both of our names are related to music, which is almost always playing in our home. Davis Miles (just switched around) is a play on their last name and then Maggie Mae is a favorite Rod Stewart song that they both like and came up with the idea together.

We are still in the puppy stage, but it is getting better. Maggie did not make it all through the night the first two nights. But by the third night? She did it. I kept telling her that someone would be out to get her early and to just hang on quietly instead of waking the whole house up in the wee hours of the morning.

I can remember like it was yesterday of the soft little whining that I would do and out one of them would come. Usually it would be Smiley. It takes Lola so long to dress. Geez! We only are going out in our private backyard.

I think that I made a good choice for a little sister. It is rather nice to have a constant playmate.



There is one thing though. When I am ready to nap and she is not? Well, she wins out because she is relentless. She even had my ear one day while I was resting on the hardwood floor and started pulling me across the floor like a dust mop. She can be a little hellion. And let me tell you, I have not taught her the benefits of tip-toeing. I can jump on on the kitchen counter silently but Maggie bangs into the cabinets and jumps up and down. She is only about 20 pounds but she sounds like a tyrannosaurus rex wherever she goes.



Even when I let her have the bully stick and lay on top of me while she is chewing it, sometimes she is like a worrisome gnat that just won't go away. But there are those times that just snuggling with her makes it all worthwhile. Plus once she finishes all of her puppy shots, she will be able to join me at Day Care and see how much fun it is to romp and roam freely. Then she will come home wanting to rest some too. 



I have taught her so much. Things like how to guard the front door, how to bark at any one who may be a threat like the UPS delivery person. I have tried to teach her that the FedEx delivery person is just fine because that is where Smiley worked. Even some of the workers that come to our house are okay. The way to tell is by listening to Smiley's voice when he talks to them. Plus, it doesn't hurt when they talk to us and tell us how cute we are.

We are very lucky, in that Lola and Smiley take us out for rides to run errands often. The drive-thru tellers at the bank and at the pharmacy always give us treats. When we go inside to Hollywood Feed, we end up getting several treats. I love that store and I can tell that Maggie does too. Starbucks give dogs a free puppuchino. They are soooooooooo good. 



I think this is one of her favorite treats. (Mine too!) Other things that I have taught her is how to counter surf. She can't quite reach but she is getting there. She and are play tag with tea towels or dirty laundry and run through the house passing it off to one another while Smiley is telling us to drop it. Maggie likes that game. 

There was a time that the back of the sofa looking out in our front yard and cove was only for me.



No longer! I am learning to share. Maggie makes sure of that.



There are times that she gives me my space. Especially after I have been playing hard at Day Care and just need to rest. She is a fast learner. I will hand over the story for Maggie Mae to tell now.




Maggie Mae here. Yes, I am laying out on the coffee table in the screened porch area. Lola can't resist this face that I think I am getting better and better at giving to her and to Smiley. You must put a little sadness and tilt your head a bit and POOF! Magic happens. They let me stay here. It is outdoor furniture after all. 



When she is trying to work on her blog or novel, I know that she really is wanting to take a break and talk to me and I have just the answer on how to make that happen. Resting my head on the keyboard will do it every time, along with giving a pitiful kind of lonely look. I am getting the hang of this.

In the morning, after Davis and I go outside for our business, Smiley always takes a coffee back to Lola while she is dressing. The best part of it? He lets us come too. I get so excited to go back and tell her good morning. As soon as the gate is opened, I go full speed ahead, bust through the door and slide across the hard wood floor and land on the side of the chest of drawers, get my balance and go flying into the dressing room ready to give her kisses. 

This seems to make her laugh and Davis just walks in silently. I heard Lola tell Smiley that she can remember the days when she never knew Davis had walked in the room. What fun is that? I say that we should make our presence known. 

The one thing that I don't quite have the hang of would be two little girls that come over now and then. The older one is like the boss lady. She tells Davis what to do and when to do it and he does it.



Bailey Grace actually had Davis stand on the stool and she got him to wrap around her. Then there is her little sister, Skylar. She cries whenever she sees Davis. She is still young and does not yet have the authority in her voice like her sister does. I don't seem to scare her so much.



Bailey held me so that Skylar could try to give me a toy. It would work better if I were on the floor but Bailey thought maybe I would not be so scary if she held me. Please take note of my brother in the background in his crate for this moment. Sometimes, Skylar will get some of his nuggets to feed to him through the crate. We will work it out sooner or later.
In a few weeks, we will have two more girls coming to visit. I have not met the twins just yet. Davis has and hopefully we will not scare them too much. I know all of the grownups will help. 




Kids and goldendoodles belong together.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Fountain of Youth

There seems to always have been a desire to have the fountain of youth at our disposal. No one seems to have the desire to age, or at the very least to feel the aches and pains of growing older. Let's not even talk about the wrinkles and such. 

Stories of just such a fountain, one that would restore the youth of anyone who drank or bathed in the waters have been told for thousands of years. As early as the 5th century B.C. by Herodotus, then more stories from the 3rd century A.D., the Crusades through the 11th and 12th century A.D. and waters were also claimed to be a fountain of youth by the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean during the Age of Exploration in the early 16th century.

Most of us have heard of The Fountain of Youth associated with the name Juan Ponce de Leon. He traveled to what is now Florida in 1513. Legend has it that he was told by the Native Americans that the Fountain of Youth was in Bimini and it could restore youth to anyone.



Many others tried to find these waters and some claimed to have found them, mainly to get in good favor with the people they ruled. POLITICS most definitely were involved. Eventually, a tribute to the spot where Ponce de Leon was supposedly to have landed, (although there is no historical or archaeological evidence to support this claim) was St. Augustine, Florida. There is proof that as early as the 1860's, there was a tourist attraction. Luella Day McConnell had The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park created in 1904. She abandoned her practice as a physician in Chicago and headed to the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush of the 1890's. She purchased the Park property from a British horticulturalist with cash and diamonds, for which she  became known in St. Augustine as "Diamond Lil."



She began advertising this attraction, charging admission and selling post cards and water from a well dug that was to have come from the fountain. She even claimed to have discovered a large cross made of coquina rock, stating that it was placed there by Ponce de Leon himself. She continued to concoct tales that kept some amused and appalled others until her death in a car accident in 1927.

The manager of this tourist attraction bought the property and made it one of the state's most successful tourist attractions. There have been archaeologist digs, even by The Smithsonian Institution. They produced many burials and it was discovered that this Archaeological Park was in fact the first Christian mission in the United States. It is called the Mission Nombre de Dios. Also discovered, was that in 1565, it most definitely was the settlement of St. Augustine, making it the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement. 

Fascinating as all of this history can be for those of us who always want to know the rest of the story, I am not naive enough to believe that there is a for real Fountain of Youth. What I do believe in is Sophia Loren's description of the Fountain of Youth and I quote:  "There is a fountain of youth: It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age."