Reverberations of Praise

Praise has a way of reverberating off any sentient being it touches:  family, friends, employees, colleagues, clients, employers, networks, pets, the guy at the store where you get your coffee.

We don’t always get to see the after effects of our praise. But when you get praised, how does it feel?  Good, right?  Who doesn’t like to feel good?  This feeling is one that is easily spread to someone else, doubling, quadrupling your one praise.

Even if they don’t pay it forward, their improved mood will increase efficiency and enjoyment. Who doesn’t work better after someone compliments them?  Who doesn’t want to give more to a boss who appreciates them?  From well-placed praise comes more attention to detail and care given. Who wouldn’t want employees or colleagues who worked more like that?

Praise can take different forms.  Compliments is another way to think of it   Appreciation is praise for a specific act.  Encouragement is offering praise for a future action.  It says I believe you can do this thing.  You have what it takes. Don’t we all feel better if we’re acknowledged and believed in?

The reverberations go the other way too. How good does it feel to say something kind to someone and receive those good feelings shining back at you?  Even better to do it in person so you can see it.  Doesn’t a well-received compliment make you want to give more? This creates a new dimension for the praise reverberations to travel.

Praise and its sisters are long-lasting, too. Like chimes, their ringing lingers in the air.  If your praise is very specific and honest, coming from the right person, the receiver can cruise on it for quite some time.

Perhaps long after work, at home that night, its effects can be felt. You never know how far a good word can travel through a teenager onto the Internet. Days later, when the going gets rough, simple words of praise can come back and offer a boost.

It’s an easy thing to do in social media, too.  LinkedIn lets you congratulate people.  My suggestion is to give a little more than the standard, “Congrats!”  Take another minute or two to add a little praise or encouragement. Show that you really do acknowledge what they’ve done, specifically, and from the heart. Not just using a quick ploy to reach out.

When you read a colleague has done something special, send a quick email.  You know this person, you don’t have to go into too much detail. Just let them know you’re listening and you appreciate what they’re doing. Doesn’t take long at all.  So simple and yet it carries such profound effects.

Putting good energy into the world always has multiplying reverberating effects.

Networking Pledge: I commit to praising at least 3 people this week.

* I am taking every opportunity I can to praise those around me every day.

* In searching for something to praise, I am always coming up with wonderful things!

* I’m a praise-making machine and I’m making a lot today!  –Chellie Campbell

Stay tuned for the next Positive Slant On Business Profile about a spiritual entrepreneur who’s giving his authentic self to everything he does!

 

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Spreading Love Through Business

Many would balk at even the notion of love in business.  Love is for the bedroom, not the boardroom.  Much like church and state do not belong together.

I disagree.  I believe that love is an essential ingredient in business.  If you don’t “love” your customers in some way, you may find yourself with none. The language of love may be different in business, but it is still all about love.

Praise and encouragement are ways to show your love. Laid lavishly on employees, they can be worth more than gold.  People will feed a long time on well-placed encouraging words.

Appreciation is a powerful and loving business word. Appreciation, given genuinely and consistently can actually put money in your pocket.  I doubt there are statistics on this, but it seems evident to me.  If someone appreciates my business, I am more likely to come back to them (or send others their way).  Gratitude always works magic.  No matter where you use it.

Love means paying attention to the details of your beloved’s life. Love in business can be remembering to ask about a sick loved one or acknowledging a spouse’s promotion. Wishing happy birthday, offering congratulations, sending regards are wonderful and loving ways to show how you do business.  There is nothing unbusinesslike about caring about the people you work with or for.

When you love someone, you respect them.  Isn’t it wise to treat business associates with respect?  Look for the good in them.  Notice and point out talents you see.  What a wonderful way to help those qualities grow!  If that’s not love, I’m not sure what is.

Offer honest feedback as you would to someone you love, with an awareness of their feelings.  And an eye for propriety.  You wouldn’t want to chew out your child in front of  others.  Why would you speak to one of your employees like that?  Your opinion is important – especially if you’re the boss.  But in the end, the customer is the real boss.  Show respect for everyone you do business with.

What if you said you didn’t have to love the delivery person who brings your sandwich?  After all, what has he got to do with business success?  What goes around comes around.  You never know where this person may end up in your life.  He could be the son of the client you’ve been wanting to land a contract with. Treat everyone with love and respect and watch your goodwill blossom, along with your bottom line.

Chellie Campbell, in her landmark book, The Wealthy Spirit said this about love in business, “Take time to understand the human being behind the transaction, the spiritual being behind the contract. The goal of business doesn’t have to be just more profit.  The possibilities are bigger than that.  Business can spread light, love and peace in the world.”

Amen!

Asking for It

I’ve been told a lot lately to “ask for the business.”  I guess a lot of us have trouble doing that.  But it makes sense to ask for what you want.  How are others going to know if you don’t ask for it?

In Business, as well as in writing and in life asking questions opens new pathways. Asking for work is just one place.

Ask vendors for special terms. Either they’ll say no, they can’t do that. Or they’ll say, yes, we’d be happy to!  But you never know until you ask.

To improve your business, ask questions. If you’re struggling somewhere, ask for help.  There are so many organizations, just through the Small Business Administration. I love the Small Business Development Center.  Asking questions helps to find solutions.  In some cases, that could mean asking your significant other for more time to work on your business.

Ask your customers what they would like to see you do.  Danny Inny at Firepole Marketing, suggests that you go to your audience or customers first, before you make any moves at all. They are your biggest fans, after all.  See what they think.

Employees can be a wealth of information, if you but ask them. Pointed questions can reveal vital data on how to keep this crucial asset in good working order. If you have a management staff, ask them lots of questions, too.  All the time.  Keep finding out more about what’s going on by continuing to ask questions like How can I make this better?  How can I improve my service?  As you do this, answers will come, ideas will sprout.

Don’t forget the powerful question: How can this be done?  If you choose, instead to say, “It can’t be done,” you’ll get nowhere.  How much more exciting it is to ask how!

Can you think of other places where it would be helpful to ask?  Please leave a comment with your suggestions.

Profile: The Family Thread

Every February, Diane Lemonides works a service project she created called “Warming Hearts.” With the help of her local Rotary Club and her son’s hockey team, each week she brings a cooler to gather gallons of soups from eager participants. Then delivers them to Safe Harbor, a homeless shelter near where she lives in West Chester, PA. The following week, she returns empty containers to be filled up again. Her program grows each year. When asked where the idea came from she said, “In my family we always made soup. I love making it and knowing I’m doing something for others.” It’s like that for her: giving is just another thread in her busy day.

Diane is a self-proclaimed “Big-Time Environmentalist.” She supports all kinds of environmental causes, including The Natural Lands Trust, Appalachian Mountain Club and The National Parks program. She has been composting and working an organic garden for years. Since she was a little girl, she’s had an affinity for nature. She recalls as a teen, telling her parents she was going to clean up the town creek. Off she went with a rake, shovel and bag, clearing away all the trash. These days Diane’s often seen participating in her township’s neighborhood clean-up program.

She grew up in a family business. From those strong roots she gained a set of values that carries over into her own business. Values, rooted in an appreciation of the environment, spring forth in her giving nature. She was taught that caring for the land and for others can be blended into everything she does. Family is, for her, “The thread that ties it all together.”

When she isn’t cleaning up parks, she runs Verve Marketing and Design. A marketing company that supports hard-working and caring companies that have unique products and services to offer. Diane and her company provide strategic planning, along with graphics and content. Many of her clients create bespoke items. “I love when people are producing things that are just exceptional that they put their heart and soul into!”

Each year, she and members of her Verve family, as well as other family members and friends, cycle in The Multiple Sclerosis 150 City to Shore ride. The course is a 150-mile ride over two days from the city to the shore line. In the past her company has raised over $7,000 for the local chapter.

In lieu of gifts to her clients, Verve sponsored three children through Children International. This program allowed her to extend family even further. It began when the children were just two years of age and continued until they came of age.

The values she learned growing up thread through Verve Marketing and Design. For Heifer International, Verve handled the entire book packaging for a project called “Dreaming Cows.” It was a series of illustrated books, used as educational tools for children, filling them with an environmental and global perspective. “That was a really meaningful project. I was so glad to be able to do it,” Diane said.

Everyone who works for Diane is part of the family. She actually pays interns and has hosted many of them over the years. “I love to watch them graduate and see where the world takes them,” she said, with pride. One of her past interns, Guy, called one day, unexpectedly. He was on the train back from New York City where he had interviewed for and been offered a great job. If it wasn’t for her, he told her, he wouldn’t have the experience he needed to land that position. “It feels really good to be giving kids a break,” Diane echoed.

Diane likes to work with clients who share her family-based principles. 60% of her business is with Amish craftsmen. Diane understands the challenges they face in balancing family and work, and the need to preserve the business for future generations. Like Diane, her clients have the thread of family through their work.

With a background in arts, working as a designer and art director for many publishing houses across the planet, Diane brings a sharp eye to her work. Not only does that influence her ability to envision and evaluate the visuals to market her clients, it also fuels her appreciation of the bespoke items they create. Her appreciation of art and nature work hand-in-hand in her business.

The thread of family continues throughout her whole life. It keeps her giving wherever it’s needed. Deep-rooted values make her a beneficial member of her community as well as a successful business owner.

To contact Diane, click here.

For more information on the Dreaming Cows series, click here.

 

Praise-ability

I read an post recently about how some businesses use fear to motivate employees. As the piece states, it can only go so far. What a lousy way to do business!

Praise works so much better.  Don’t we want people we work with to feel good, motivated and appreciated?  Appreciation appreciates.

See what you can do for employees, colleagues, customers or connections when you praise them.  Isn’t that what we all want?

If we are to do business with soul and heart, we must keep this in mind.  Encouragement, acknowledgment, and congratulation all help to strengthen others.  What a small effort for such a great return!  Use every opportunity you can to offer good words to others.

I like that LinkedIn offers us opportunities to do this. (Though I have found it’s not always correct.)  There are tons of great ideas on the Internet for how you can praise and appreciate your business associates.  Try one soon.

Stay tuned next week for a Positive Slant Profile on Diane Lemonides of Verve Marketing and Design, threading family values into her work.

Profile: The Blessing of Faith

Ahmed Irfan Khan runs Barkaat Foods, a food company in the Chicago area. Barkaat means blessing and they are surely a blessing to their customers and their Islamic community. At the core of Barkaat Foods is the principle that Doing What’s Right is Good Business. They harvest livestock adhering to the highest Zabiha Halal hand slaughtered standards. Ahmed knows about business. He is not just a faithful man, he also holds an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. It was there he was urged to find a niche. He did so by following his heart and his faith.

As well as preparing meat in the prescribed Halal fashion, they also offer delivery. Their company, Taaza2u.com, does a bustling trade. Taaza means fresh. They deliver fresh, custom cuts of meat and ready- to-cook products like marinated meats, patties, and various delicacies. In this way Barkaat handles the entire supply chain assuring that the meat is authentic Zabiha Halal from “farm to fork.”

Ahmed and his family believe in giving exceptional service. Ahmed says that it’s not the mistake that matters, but what is done after to make it right. Taaza2u has a call center that reaches out after each delivery to be sure the customer is happy. Ahmed agrees that it takes extra resources of time and money, but it has been well worth the investment. The business is on a growth spurt thanks to word-of-mouth alone. Factor in the savings in marketing, brand awareness and promotion from this kind gesture to their customers and it’s easy to see it’s paying off. Everyone’s talking about their service. Naazish Yarkhan, a local writer, had this to say about Taaza2u, “Their customer service goes above and beyond and patrons can even visit the pastures where the animals graze, for a company sponsored BBQ, at least once a year. Their delivery trucks are as commonly spotted in this area as are FedEx or UPS deliveries and that’s not an exaggeration.”

Ahmed believes that “You see the benefits one way or another when you do the right thing.” He does the right thing by his faith, too. At the heart of their work is Purpose: to make sure Muslims get Zabiha Halal quality meat. It’s not easy to find. This has to do with how the livestock is handled throughout the process: that the animals are killed humanely, with respect, and in the proper Islamic way. Their meats are all natural and hormone-free. This Blessing supports every Muslim in the community.

Ahmed and his team work their beliefs as well by offering a place where the faithful can participate in the rituals of the festival of Eid al‑Adha. “It’s right for people to see and connect with the sacrifice of the animal,” Ahmed said. Barkaat provides a gathering where everyone can come and participate.

The Qur’an states, “We made you to be a community of the middle way, so that (with the example of your lives) you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind.” Barkaat supports their community by giving time and the blessing of fresh food where they can. Feeding school children, assisting college-bound students, advancing American Muslim integration, helping schools to provide higher quality education, including advocating for leadership training and youth programs are just some of the causes they champion. Guided by a strong set of principles, their magnanimous gestures extend to international charity, as well as participation in societies that embrace the Islamic faith.

Ahmed and his team are living their faith through a successful business that allows them to give back to their community and beyond. “Giving in large doses can bring large rewards,” he said. Below is a list of some of the organizations they support through their bounty:

You can contact Barkaat Foods at:

Taaza2u.com

Barkaat Foods

Barkaat Holdings

 

The Email Flood

There seems to be a trend today to stay in constant contact with our networks.  That might work well if we only had one interest.  But most of our are multi-faceted.

Susan Jeffers warned us not to be know-it-alls.  In this age it’s so easy to access information on anything you might have a whim for.  But the truth is, we can’t know it all. If we had no responsibilities, no work and only the Internet, maybe we could indulge all our desires for more information. Most of us have other things that occupy our time.

I have been struggling with an overload of emails.  Friends and loved ones, business, causes, information a-plenty fill every nook and cranny of my Internet life.  It felt like I was drowning.  I didn’t know where to turn next.  Do you experience the same thing?

I had to do something!

The first step was to take a good look at everything I had coming in.  Was all of this really serving me?  As Derek Sivers says, I wanted to keep only what makes me say, “Hell Yeah!”  I may enjoy keeping up to date on political issues, but that’s not where I’m focusing my energy these days.  It’s not what I do.  They had to go – especially since I could get 20 or more political emails a day.  I asked myself what the most important things were for my progress right now. Everything else would have to go.

Next, I made some choices about my various email accounts.  Email accounts, for the most part, are free. They can come with website hosting, as well as the highly functioning gmail.  Yahoo, too, is free.  I decided that I wanted all my networking emails that I wish to “get to” reading, in one place. Things like Facebook and Twitter updates, job listings, marketing advice, etc.  I unsubscribed to all my political emails and changed my address at all the social networking sites.  (I do admit that it wasn’t always easy to change my address, especially when they have multiple people emailing.)

I am interested in personal and spiritual growth.  So I used one of my other email accounts for all of those.  This left my main email box for work and friends – emails that I want to keep on top of and that require a response.  I also left those emails pertaining to my writing interests – which applies to my work.

The final step was to go through and tend to the backlog.  I haven’t quite finished that, but I can definitely feel the difference!  I no longer have the sense that I’m being pulled under water and unable to catch my breath.

Networking Pledge: I pledge to only subscribe to those feeds that I really, truly want!

    I have time to tend to all my emails.

    I only let in my scope that which I have chosen for my own good.        

    I am free to focus on life outside the Internet.

Tell me about your experience with emails.  Are you drowning too?  Or have you found a way out?  Please share your ideas so those who are still under water can find some relief.

Next week: A profile of a meat packing company in the Chicago area that conducts business according to their principles and beliefs.

Profile: Recycling Beauty

Blank Verse Jewelry can be seen worn by stars. It’s shown up on runways, been featured in major magazines, and photographed in all the right places.  You can find Blank Verse Jewelry from New York to San Francisco.

This small, eco-friendly jewelry line is lovingly created by Laamsha Young.  One has to call her successful.  She does work she loves, paying attention to the environment, as she expresses her creativity through transforming old items into modern pieces of wearable art. She is making the world a more beautiful place. And at the same time helping to support and nurture her growing family.

Her work entails taking found objects and infusing them with the inspiration she receives from the Santa Cruz Mountains where she lives, from music and from poetry.  Blank Verse is a poetry term meaning no rhyme, but rhythm.  Laamie starts with a blank canvas and adds her own rhythm to build unique pieces.  She was born a painter and now scours flea markets and thrift shops for materials that tantalize her eye and stir her soul. “I find vintage clothes smell like old perfume.  They remind me of my grandmother’s jewelry box, full of treasures,” she said.

Laamie chooses from among the previously-loved bounty of beads and gems, material and metal. In her studio she works her alchemy recycling old items into glamorous and one-of-a-kind wearables. From otherwise cast-off items, the designer restores beauty with a fresh take. Lauren Phillips, Assistant Wardrobe Stylist from the Pretty Little Liars television show said, “Blank Verse’s unique, hand-crafted jewelry became such an asset for us in this photo shoot. The attention to detail is so obvious it shows through the camera lens. With a piece of Blank Verse an outfit becomes that much more chic, funky or even flirty. It works with any occasion. We were lucky to have Blank Verse Jewelry with us for this shoot!”

What brings Laamie the most joy is making jewelry for special people. She made a gift of a piece to Kathryn Budig, a yoga teacher in Los Angeles. It so moved Kathryn that she shared her find with some of the stars who now wear and adore Blank Verse Jewelry. All from a simple and joy-filled gift given to another soul.

Ms. Young follows her muse and passion every day, filling everything she does with art. For her local elementary school’s annual fundraiser, a $100 a plate affair, Laamie handled everything from volunteer coordination to service to clean up. She’s always on hand to add her art for decorations at school concerts and events. Recently, she took on a stint as an assistant in the school’s art program. She also enjoys giving talks to high school children. “I love seeing the amazing potential and creativity in young kids. It is a special treat for me to be a part of something that nurtures the creative spirit.”

She wishes other mothers of young children to know that they can have creative expression and work, as well as a family.  She does it with the help of her husband, Matt and her two children, Bryn, 10 and Henry, 7.  Finding a studio outside her home gave her space for quiet time, when needed. She credits a sense of discipline that keeps her at the work table. Mostly it’s been the support of her family and friends.  And her deeply-felt gratitude for the life she has and the ways in which she can give back.

Some places where you can find Blank Verse Jewelry:

Blank Verse Jewelry

Etsy Shop

Synergy Organic Clothing

The Penny Rose Blog

 

Changing the World One Business at a Time

I have a Vision of a world where we are aware that we are all made of the same elements and live in a state of gratitude to be on this unlikely beauty of a planet. Where everyone understands that what we give to another, we give to ourselves. Whatever we can do to make things better for someone else, the more our own lives prosper.

There is a Universal Law of Cause and Effect.  All who have tried it have seen that when you give, you get back a whole lot more. As creatures of energy, in an energetic world, we can have impact in a positive or a negative way.

I believe there are many businesses out there who are doing the best they can to work from a set of values, that speak to a concern for others and a respect for the Earth on which we stand. They have a sense of Service, Meaning and Purpose which overlays their ongoing commercial endeavors.

When small business combines resources with community, there’s not much that can’t be done. I envision a movement, spreading from business to business, person to person, community by community.  If we could all work from a spirit of cooperation, I believe, we could solve our global issues of Environment, Energy and Economics easily and move on from there.

My Mission in this cause is to shine a light on the good work small business owners are doing. To acknowledge all acts of charity, even those which can fade into the background behind a readiness to step in and help. I will be posting a series of profiles on these businesses.  Showing, I hope, how commerce rooted in service to others, can build a stronger, more loving society. And ultimately a better world for all of us.

There seem to be a lot of businesses ready to step forward and claim a Positive Slant on Business. So stay tuned! The first post will be on Laamsha Young, owner of Blank Verse Jewelry, designer to the stars. As the mother of two school-aged children, she is living her art and her service in one smooth motion.  Radiating her passion for things previously-owned and expressing that inspiration in one-of-a-kind, made-beautiful-again pieces of jewelry.  Catch Recycling Beauty later this week.

Put a System On It

Portlandia, in its fourth season, did a skit where the punch line keeps repeating, whatever the item, “put a bird on it!”  I agree.  Anytime you can add a little something you’ve improved your product.

But what about behind the scenes?  What if we thought instead to “put a system on it!”  While I admit, I am not a professional organizer like Organize SB, I have had some experience along these lines.

If you’re not getting to work on time, put a system on it.  If you constantly find yourself stressed out or missing important meetings or ingredients, put a system on it.  A good system can get you out of a lot of repetitive and frustrating situations.

I can’t give any guarantees that it will work for you, since the very best system in the world will not work if you don’t work it.  And many people who have these kinds of problems are not ones to use systems.  So, the simpler, the better for you!

Basically, a system gives you a framework to work within.  Many times when we forget important pieces of equipment or fall short of our expectations, it’s only because we haven’t taken the time to figure it out ahead of time.

Here are a couple of ideas that have worked for me:
*  Make a list and use check boxes
*  Outline or mind map the situation to look for patterns indicating places where changes can be made
*  Get some professional help
*  Use reminders  – visual and audible clues can be a big help
*  Get a book on time management (or whatever the issue)

The trick is to try different systems until you find one that works for you.  Don’t give up and don’t be afraid of taking it down and trying something different. If it’s not working, if it’s adding more stress, it’s not worth it.  Start again!

After you’ve tried the system, analyze it for what worked. (Just because it didn’t work overall, doesn’t mean some of it didn’t.) Take note of the parts you didn’t like, too.  The more aware you are, the better detective and the more detailed you are at figuring out these two things, the quicker you‘ll get to Your System.

It largely comes down to how we function best. And that’s a very good thing to know about yourself.  Keep an eye out.  Watch how you do things, what works for you in other places.  See how the system feels to you. Is it hard to do?  Or easy?  Do you forget?  Did you have fun with it?  Did it lighten your load or add to it?  What ways did it work for you?  These are all vital signs to note. Use the pieces that worked and feel free to cobble a new system together. There are no rules except that it works for you.

Systems need to change over time. You are not the same, circumstances are not the same – jobs change, relationships shift, work styles alter.  You have to be ready and willing to move with it. Build flexibility into your system and it will last you for a long time.

Keep an eye out for what feels good and easy. Do what you can to get rid of the rest. When you find something that works for you, acknowledge and use it.  Try adapting it in other areas you discover need a system on it.