Monthly Archives: May 2014


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,, 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:

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