Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

Be Thankful

I came across this little ditty on one of those placemat flyers you find in various greasy spoons… you know, the kind that have funny quips and crosswords to amuse yourself with as you wait for your food.

I’m not usually a fan of platitudes as they tend to be too cheesy or nauseatingly saccharine. Uck.

But this one is very simple and plainspoken—just my style–so it naturally resonated with me.

Be Thankful

author unknown

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made a difference.

It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those
who are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

How to Follow Your Own Act

One of the attorneys I’ve worked with over the years is a wonderful fellow.

Family man. Very personable. Knows his stuff. Gets done what he’s hired to get done. A real credit to his profession.

So what was always so disconcerting after he’d finish a matter for me was this utterly abrupt end to our communication.

And I mean A-brupt. Every time.

It’s crazy, because whenever I’d contact him again on something new, we’d pick up as if we’d just spoken yesterday.

Yet, at the end of each project, I couldn’t help feel as if I’d done something wrong.

Was I a horrible client? I don’t tend to think so because being an independent service provider myself, I’m always very conscious about how I treat other service professionals.

I know what I don’t care for in clients and I make sure I am the kind of client I would want for myself.

I clearly communicated my needs, made sure I understood what to expect and I always paid on time (and as you know, attorneys are not inexpensive).

But I’d never get so much as a thank you for my payment.

All communication would just end completely until the next time I had need to call on him.

And then it would be, “Hey, Danielle! How’s it going?” as it nothing was amiss and we were long-lost buddies.

So I got to thinking:

  • How many of you business owners out there are failing in your end game?
  • What are you doing to nurture your relationships?
  • Are you making sure clients and customers feel welcome to contact you again?
  • How are you helping them in between services?

In answer to these questions, here’s a list I drew up that I think will be very helpful to you if you are neglecting your all-important follow-up act. Clients want to know you like and appreciate them — before, during and after your interactions.

1. Thank your customers and clients. It seems simple enough, right? I mean, it’s just good manners. But as I shared in my story above, sometimes it’s the most obvious things that fall through the cracks. So be sure and thank your clients and customers. And I mean something beyond simply typing a line on your invoice template. Automate it or delegate it if you have to, but do go to the extra effort to thank people in a more deliberate way for their business at the conclusion of your interactions. Each and every time.

2. Ask them what’s next. Find out what projects or goals they’re thinking about currently or that are on the horizon. Not only is this good relationship-building, but it’s also a great way to find out where there are more opportunities to business together.

3. Be a knowledge center and resource. When you make the effort to know a bit more about your clients and target market, and where their interests are, you can pass on information that you think will be useful and of interest to them. You can do this individually and/or use the information to come up with relevant topics for your blog and/or ezine. “The list is the thing!” as they say, and I can’t stress enough how perfect an ezine and blog are for this task. As long as you are providing content that is of value to your clients/target market, this is a fantastic way to keep in touch, maintain connection and rapport, and create your own marketing pipeline. While you’re delivering all this great, helpful information to subscribers, it also gives you a platform to keep them informed about the goings-on in your business and remind them about services you provide that they might not know or remember (hint: refer back to #2).

4. Invite them into your networks. Hey, you’re not the only one looking to make connections. Inviting your clients and customers into your social/business networks is a nice gesture, gives them opportunities to make new contacts, and keeps them in your pipeline as well. They might even extend the favor back.

5. Be a referral source. Know what your customers do. Ask your clients what makes a good referral for them. And then spread the word. One good turn tends to result in another.

6. Get their feedback. Clients appreciate the opportunity to be heard. It shows them you care. Of course you want to know what you’re doing a good job, but don’t be afraid to look in the mirror if clients point out areas where you can stand to improve. This is pure gold to your business and you should be grateful for having those blindspots illuminated. Let them know how much their input means to you and that it will be used to make improvements whenever, wherever needed.

7. Let clients know how to refer business to you. Clients are people and most people like to help others. Clients who love their service providers enjoy spreading the word on their behalf. Tell them what makes a great referral for you and exactly who you are looking to work with. The more clear and specific you are, the easier you make it for them to send others your way and the more frequently they will do so.

RESOURCE: If you’re looking for a fantastic, comprehensive feedback form that can be adapted to any business, get our Client Feedback Form the ACA Success Store.

© Copyright by Danielle Keister for the Administrative Consultants Association. You are granted permission to republish this article only if used without alteration in its entirety with this copyright notice, title, article content, resource, and links left intact.

Thank You to Our Members!

What a fantastic experience our first teleseminar was!

Everything went smoothly and there was such great energy on the call.

I want to thank all the wonderful colleagues who attended. You really made my day!

Such smart people with smart questions. You were a fabulous audience!

And congrats, Tracy Carson, on winning the drawing for the free Activity & Time Analysis Tool. Let me know how you end up using it in your practice.

Thanks again for attending, and if you ever have any questions about the administrative support business and marketing, feel free to submit those here.

See you next time!

Are You a Giver or a Taker?

Couple quick thoughts to share…

I can’t count the number of times I’ve extended myself to help someone out, both strangers and those I know, and never once received a thank you.

Some would say, when you give, you should be giving without any expectations in return.

And I wholeheartedly agree with that on one level.

At the same time, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with expecting a simple thank-you.

Everyone wants a little acknowledgement, even if they try to fool themselves into thinking they don’t.

It’s part of “being in this together” and building relationships. It’s about giving back to those who have given to you. And it’s just good breeding.

If we are all trying to be better people, I think it’s good to do take a personal audit every now and then and ask ourselves, Am I a giver or a taker?

Do you sign up for things just to mine other people’s stuff?

Do you join forums and then lurk around… making active, contributing members  feel uncomfortable, like there is a stranger in their midst who is eavesdropping on their conversations and whose intentions are unknown… who is just taking and benefiting from their input without contributing anything in return?

Do you use people to get what you want, but don’t consider what those who have helped you might need or appreciate in return?

When someone goes out of their way to help you when they don’t have to, do you acknowledge that? Do you remember to say “thank you?”

Those two simple little words go a long way.

Do you publicly acknowledge their help so others know?

This extends to your client relationships as well. You never want to take their business for granted.

One small little gesture I make that clients of mine have told me means so much to them is that when I receive their payment (even if I’m the one processing it to pay myself), I always, ALWAYS, email them and tell them ”thank you.”

Every single time.

Some might think after the first few times you wouldn’t need to bother. But it’s the small things and paying attention to seemingly insignificant details that are often make the most meaningful, memorable impact.

So don’t be a user. Don’t be a taker.

Give back as good as you get.

Remember to say thank you to your clients for their business (and payments) and to all the colleagues, mentors and others along your journey who help you, each and every time.

A New Day

I had a chance to watch some of the inauguration clips and most especially Obama’s inauguration speech, and I just feel such a great swell of American pride that I’ve never felt before.

Oh, sure, I appreciate how lucky I am to have been born in America. It’s a gratitude I consciously think about and appreciate constantly. But I’ve never felt it in this way, a way that I can’t quite describe.

I’ve watched inaugurations and the changing of the guard before. Sometimes with great happiness. Other times with extreme disappointment.

I don’t know if it’s being in Europe. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older and maturing in my understanding and interest in politics or what.

But it just feels so different this time.

Maybe I’m simply getting caught up in the group think. But I don’t think so.

I think there is something truly different and special about Obama’s presidency, and I am so looking forward to watching things unfold, being part of those things.

I think we are in store for lots of good and goodness!

One thing I really loved about his speech was not just the inspiration of it. Hope and optimism are ingredients that we all need. But they aren’t the only nutrients we need.

Nothing is healthy without balance and wholeness, and that includes not only allowing hope and optimism to buoy us, butalso being open to taking a good hard look in the mirror and acknowledging not-so-pretty realities.

Inspiration can become like candy to children. And people can be easily fed and led into unconsciousness by the sugarcoating and BS of “inspirational” things; by telling folks what they want to hear instead of the truth; by only looking at the “pretty” things, the “positive” things and not the whole, real picture.

They abdicate then both their responsibility for the way things are and their freedom to change those things. They are lulled into complacency, a childishness where someone else makes the decisions, calls the shots and takes care of things.

So, what I also loved about his speech is that not only was it hopeful and inclusive of all races, all creeds, all religions (including non-believers, which in itself is remarkable)–and we need that after these past eight years–but it also reminds us of the opportunity to take back ownership of our country in its fullness, with all its warts AND all its goodness and promise, by asking each and every one of us to take responsibility.

It’s not someone else’s job, someone else’s responsibility.

It’s OURS. Each and every one of us.

That is a gift, my friends, one we should never take for granted.

Grateful Mondays: New Adventures

I have some news to share and it’s all happened so fast, I don’t even know where to start. You wouldn’t believe the turn of events in my life that have transpired over the last several weeks.

If you are a reader of my blog, you may remember my post not too long ago that talked about my guy’s retirement (yeah right… I was naive to think my workaholic would really retire for good). He’d been pretty burnt out with all the travel and hard work of his old job (ME, TOO!).

However, after only being “retired” a brief moment in time, he ended up taking on an engineering job with an international fishing corporation because the money was just too good to pass up and he only had to work three months on and then have three or more months off.

We went through a lot of fighting about that. He actually had been offered this opportunity about a year previously. I’d been saying “no” to the idea from day one. I wasn’t happy about it because I don’t care how good the money is, it’s just too much time apart.

But my guy is stubborn. He is money-making mo-chine and when he sets his mind to something, although my womanly wiles work on lot of things (okay, most things, LOL), there are just other things he absolutely digs his heels in about. So I had to relent and just let him have this experience and make the best of it. He ended up being gone April through mid July and it was really hard on me.

Well, he got home and he had absolutely hated that job–much to my happiness!!! We’ve been having such a blast travelling and doing fun things since he got back. I was really getting used to him being home all the time and not having to work.

Well, the company he used to work for is an international outfit and they contacted him to see if he’d be interested in a shop job for one or two years in Germany (he is from Germany). They work a regular work week, the money is amazing and there’s no travel involved (maybe once or twice during the entire year, if at all). So it’s a really cush job in terms of the work he does.

Long story short, we have bought a condo in Mannheim. My guy left today and I’m leaving December 5 to join him and stay through January (possibly February). However, I’m not a citizen so I can only stay for three months and then have to leave for a certain amount of time before I can return for another three months.

Anyway, it’s all been hustle and bustle over here these past few weeks getting the cabin prepared for winter. We’ll have a housesitter (a good friend who has lived here on the beach before) and, of couse, my daugher will be checking in on things and continuing to work for me while we live abroad.

I’m definitely going to be learning how to truly make the business portable. I’ve only done this in the states where it’s been nothing to login remotely onto my computer or our intranet and work on the road, so it’s going to be a learning experience to see how I can make this work away from the office internationally for long periods of time.

I’m looking forward to sharing my adventures and experiences (and pix) with you. I’m going to be putting my Vonage V-Phone to work (it plugs into any computer and allows you to talk anywhere within your service area for free as if you were still here in the US) and I’m thinking about getting an Earth Class Mail account, too.

If you have any tips and tricks for preparing and travelling internationally as well as practical ideas for running the business from a different time zone while all my work and clients are in the US, I’d love to hear from you. Just post your comments here as I’m sure the conversation will be helpful to anyone reading.

Grateful Mondays: Being a Non-Conformist

I had to run an errand last week that took me along Marine View Drive which runs alongside the water on the northeast side of the bay. It’s a lovely stretch of road that goes uphill with marinas dotting the waterline and cliffside homes overlooking breathtaking views.

In a few pockets of the drive, lately, have been springing up these homogenized McMansions… fantastically ugly nouveau rich-in-a-box designs exactly the same, three or more right next to each other in a row.

These are no inexpensive pieces of development either. Each one has an assessed value of at least a couple cool million.

It really made me think… has our society become so homogenized in its thinking and personality that even when we have that kind of money to spend, all we can come up with are these hideously uninspired commercial monstrosities devoid of all artisty, individuality and style?

So in a roundabout way, these thoughts made me realize how grateful I am to be a free-wheeling, independent-thinking non-conformist.

Halle-freaking-lujah!!!

Grateful Mondays: Following My Own Clock

Today I’m grateful that I’ve engineered a business and lifestyle that allows me to follow my own timetable. I wake up according to my own internal clock, and I follow my natural energy rhythms.

I used to be somewhat of a night owl, but lately (in the last year or more) I seem to be a bit of a morning person. As soon as I’m up, I love to get right on the computer and get things going. I have a lot of energy and concentration at that time of day. I’ve already sorted the previous days work requests and have them qeued up and ready to go so I can dive right in.

The afternoons is when I take time out to go on my jaunts, hikes and bike rides. If I have errands to run, I usually do these before or after. When I return, I like to go through my email box, sorting things and handing others off.

Between 3 and 5 pm, my energy usually wanes. I love that I’m able to take a little catnap and simply wake up when I wake up.

We like to take walks in the evening after dinner. Depending on what else we might have going on, I often am back at the computer in the evening.

Of course, with my guy semi-retired, there’s been a bit of disruption to my routines, LOL, but it’s all good!

Grateful Mondays: Happy Labor Day

I have a lot to be grateful for, I surely do.

I constantly marvel at what a blessed life I live. I literally am happy every single day.

I love my work and find so much meaning and purpose and fun in what I do… for myself, for my clients and for the world at large.

I am personally and intellectually stimulated every day.

I’ve created a business that is easy and uncomplicated to operate, that has a huge margin of profit, and at the same time gives me great freedom and flexibility (these last two are due to smart business practices and operations, as well as devising and sticking to my standards and policies).

I make fantastic money and work with some smart, witty, fun, cool-ass clients who challenge and motivate me.

I wake up according to my natural clock.

I can take a nap when my energy tells me to.

I get to take off for long weekends and vacations when we feel like it.

My business and lifestyle allow me to take great care of myself and go on a walk, hike or bike ride every day.

These things and more are what I’m celebrating today! How about you?