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Integrity & Awareness by Paul Burnstein

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!!!

Reflecting on the past year, I am amazed with how much has occurred. Looking back, the changes that have taken place were both planned and unexpected. Looking forward, I can plan my goals and intentions for the future, but I also am aware that there will be unexpected changes and events in the future, just as there have been in the past. I go into 2008 with the intention to make myself a better person and to do my part in helping the world around me.

The awareness for this New Year's Eve is to set goals and intentions for the future, but to be conscious of the reality of change and impermanence.

Wishing you and yours a fantastic end to 2007 and a prosperous and healthy 2008!


Friday, December 21, 2007

What Type of Business to Start?

I recently read on a forum, someone sharing that they would like to write a business plan and start a business, but did not know what type of business to start. They then went on to ask what type of business is most profitable.

First off you need to know the type of business you want to be in before writing a business plan. Otherwise, it is like fueling up the car and packing your bags and saying you want to go on a road trip, but need to know the best place to go. Many more factors need to be taken into consideration: budget, timing, necessary clothes, what sort of activities or accommodations you are looking for and on and on.

There is no point in researching and writing a business plan unless you know what the business is. Now that is not to say that it cannot evolve over time, but the basic business idea should remain the same. I highly recommend talking to friends and family about the businesses they are involved with and doing informational interviews to speak with other business people; when doing informational interviews, always ask for a few more contacts from each person you speak with. Do your research and make a decisions based on the information you have gathered.

The awareness for today is to not jump into anything blindly, but rather take your likes and dislikes into consideration and find the right fit for yourself.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Retro Season's Greeting

Today I wanted to share a fun holiday card that a company I am working with created. The company is Engaging Media, Inc. ( Enjoy the video!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bah, Humbug!

This has been a very busy week as I am trying to wrap things up for the year and there seems to be quite a few loose ends. I will be more consistent in my blogging next year, but for today, I have a bit of a rant to share.

It has been raining in Portland; no big surprise. I was at the post office this morning and once I reached the door, there were two women five to ten feet behind me, both holding multiple packages. I happily stopped to hold the door for them so that they could get out of the rain with their packages. I had a quick envelope to mail, but because I let the women walk in the door in front of me, they both took their place in line in front of me as well. It would have taken me less than a minute to be out of there, but because I was courteous and attempting to be helpful, I had to wait in line for over fifteen minutes for the two in front of me to take care of their business. For what it is worth, I never even received a thank you from either of the woman.

I know that during the holiday season we should be generous and giving, but I was pretty frustrated by this.

The awareness for today is to be tougher than me and just smile during the holiday season!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Consistency is Powerful

I was told the other day that I was sure tough on specifics. Yes, it is true, I believe that consistency is extremely important in a business setting for staff. It is not fair to allow one employee a free sick day while charging another for missing the day. Therefore, rules and policies need to be set in place and followed. The more that is left up to interpretation, the higher the chances of creating problems.

I do not like that I fall into the role of the stickler, but I do it for the bigger picture in looking out for every one's interests.

The awareness for today is to appreciate those defined rules that create consistency and to recognize that while they may not always be in our favor, over time they create less confusion and a more stable environment.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Business Intuition

Intuition is defined at here. The first listing is "direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension." (Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.)

Recently, I have been working on listening to and trusting my intuition. I have found that if a person rubs me the wrong way upon my first impression, even if they have done nothing overtly to cause it, I should listen to my gut...much more than often it is right. I have noticed my reaction to business ideas, potential employee interviews and even involvement with a board of directors. I cannot always explain it, but when I have not listened to my intuition, or a client has not listened, a lot more damage is done than if Paul's gut had been adhered to.

I have been working on finding a way to incorporate intuition into my business practice. While I believe we also listen to our guts, I don't believe that I do enough and would like to change that. I am going to experiment with this a bit.

The awareness for today is to trust your intuition and find a balance to see how that helps improve your business (and other) decisions.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This Blog, like Life, is a Work in Progress

I try to keep up with blogging technology, but I am aware that I am a novice in this arena. I am consistent with maintaining fresh content throughout the week, but I do not have all the bells and whistles set up, nor do I even know what they are.

Funny enough, some of the most popular blogs out there are on blogging and how to make money doing so. I read some of them and I pick up tips here and there. Everyone once in a while you (the reader) may notice some formatting changes on my blog; I just added video at the bottom today. Please let me know if you do or do not like a particular element of my blog as I want it to appeal to my readers.

The awareness for today is that life is always a work in progress. While being as present as possible, we are always moving into the future and need to adjust our present accordingly as we go.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Picking and Choosing Websites to Join

It is difficult to keep up with the Internet. There are always new blogs to read, websites to join, articles to read, etc. I wrote about some of the networking sites a few months ago here. Recently, I have been receiving invitations to join new social/business networking sites from people I am already in contact with. Many of these sites are still in beta or simply do not have many registered users yet. Personally, I just do not want to join every site and every group that is out there. I am happy to register for proven sites that I believe my business will benefit from.

Today I even learned that a site I was debating joining (I had been sent an invite from a colleague) has closed. Everyone I know has a great idea. Generally, that is all they are...great ideas. It is actually executing the idea into a sustainable business that is the trick part.

The awareness for today is remain focused on our goals and not spread ourselves too thin by "needing" to be connected with every website out there (obviously that is not even possible). Take some time to choose where you want to participate and be active with your time.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Billing Like Mechanics

What if management/business consultants charged prices like mechanics? I thought about this as I took my car in for some minor work and more and more problems were found.

If a consultant's time were billed like a mechanic's, I imagine it would go something like this, Mr Consultant, "Well, Bob, I can't give you an exact price until I really get a chance to look at your financial statements and get a sense of how your business operates, but we are looking at anywhere from $300 to $5000 depending on the shape of your business. What year was it founded? Oh, 1984...that was a tough year and I am sure there is quite a lot of build up that has occurred over the last twenty-three years that we will have to work with. I wouldn't recommend staying in business without getting the work done that I have to offer. I'll tell you what, I will charge only $1000 to look for problem areas and if I need to work on your income statement, I will throw in the balance sheet for free."

Not very likely that this would happen, but it sure was fun to think about. For what it is worth, the mechanic I went to was very trustworthy, but could not give me an accurate estimate.

The awareness for today is to look at yourself and see what stereotypes you are filling and how you can shift them.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Today I returned a call from a colleague in London and I felt that I left a curt message; I was swamped and running in many different directions and I believed that that had come across in my message to him. About ten minutes later, I called him back to apologize for being short on my message to him. He answered the call and had had no issue with my message. He had understood that I was busy and felt that I had conveyed that appropriately to him.

I learned that I am more sensitive to how I treat others than they may be themselves. Interesting thought.

The awareness for today is that while we may at times rub people the wrong way, when we are conscious of it our true intentions can shine through.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Calling in the Rain

Yesterday was a very rainy day here in Portland. I had a meeting in the evening and when I returned to my car, the battery was dead. I was able to get a jump from someone, but it took me standing in the rain for a short bit. That short bit was enough to soak me. Once I was back in the car, I had some calls to make and I guess my hair was wetter than I realized because it shorted out my phone.

This is the second time my phone has shorted due to the rain since I have been in Portland. I guess I am not used the rain and the ramifications of it to my electronics. I better start being more conscious around it.

The awareness for today is to notice when we have the same problems occurring over and over again and to put measures in place to prevent those cycles.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Funding Deal on the Edge

I may have already written about this and if I have, forgive the repetition, but I did want to vent a bit and this is a great medium for me to do so. About two years ago I met a very nice, sharp business consultant, I will call him Frank. He was very interested in the connecting that I do for debt financing and we have tried to work together several times.

Frank sent me a deal to look at in April of 2006. The deal was not strong enough for my sources, but the seed was planted. Frank and I kept in touch over the years and just checked in with each other every so often. After some major modifications to the business model and plan, Frank came back to me in August with a very solid business plan. I shared it with a few of my connections and there was interest immediately.

By the middle of October, one of my contacts had provided Frank and his client with a loan package and simply needed the client to submit the application. Nothing has happened yet. I check in every other week with Frank and he keeps trying to push his client, but the client has just sat on the paperwork.

Today, the lender contacted Frank to see if there was still interest and I sent over my own e-mail to Frank. Frank is as frustrated as I am. He put in a lot of time and effort, yet he cannot get his client to follow through with the application. To add to the situation, Frank has shared that the client needs the money at this stage to stay alive, yet he isn't doing everything he can.

All I can do is keep in touch with Frank and hope that his client will submit the paperwork so we can get this deal closed.

The awareness for today is that sometimes it eases frustration to write out the situation...just as I have done here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Take Advantage of the Slower Pace

The end of the year is rapidly approaching. For me, 2007 went by in a flash. With holidays and vacations, this can be a frustrating time of year to try to finish up projects as we are often waiting on others. Strategic planning now can save you time next year. Set goals, timelines and get the research you need started while other things may be slow.

Some of you may not be experiencing the lull in activity due to the need to have projects completed before the end of the year. If that is the case, wrap up the year and take time at the beginning of next year to do your planning.

The awareness for today is to take advantage of the slower pace (if it exists for you) and put in some time to plan for next year.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


People use excuses all the time. They are used to blame others or to explain why someone did not do what was promised. I am sure that have all had an excuse at one time or another. I have no problem with acceptable excuses. I understand that people cannot always fulfill their promises.

Where I do have an issue is with people who use excuses to get out of doing things. As I said, excuses can be acceptable at certain times and in certain situations, but they cannot become the norm.

If you are one always coming up with excuses, stop promising more than you can provide. If you are the one receiving excuses, look at what is creating the holdup.

The awareness for today is understand that some times an excuse is acceptable, but not always and you need to find that balance for yourself.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Action Items

I just left an almost five hour finance/budget meeting. One would think I would be exhausted, and I am, but I am also quite energized. Quite a few things came up in the meeting that require follow up or research. Some of those items will be handled by myself and others I will delegate as needed. I feel like I have a lot on my plate, but they are good action items that I know will benefit the company.

The awareness for today is to recognize when we take the time to create task lists and action items, we create more efficiency and consistency in our work day because we have a basic idea of the expectations from our days, weeks and months.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Glitch in Communication

I must have some wires crossed internally today as I do not seem to be communicating well with others. I am not arguing with people, but somehow what I am saying or writing (in e-mail) is not being heard. I have answered others questions and yet I am asked the same question again by the same person. I have also had a few e-mail responses where the person replying did not even read my notes or questions.

I guess it is just an off day for me; they happen. Perhaps I am the problem, perhaps it is others; maybe too much turkey, weather shifts, Monday, whatever it is. This too shall pass.

The awareness for today is to recognize that we cannot always have the best day ever. Tomorrow will be better!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

For those of you who celebrate the holiday, I wish you a very, very happy Thanksgiving! For those of you who don't celebrate it, I wish you a fantastic Thursday!

The awareness for today is to appreciate family, friends and loved ones and to be grateful for that which we have.

Cheers to all!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cultural Tolerance

Thanksgiving Day is Thursday here in the US. With that being said, many of my US associates are traveling this week or simply taking time off to be with their families or friends; I myself will take a half day on Wednesday and take off work on Thursday and Friday. Because of this, the weeks pacing is quite off. I have received very few calls thus far this week, but I have been very busy with e-mail, mostly the e-mail is international.

While thinking about this, I realized that there have been times when I have contacted associates of mine who were unavailable due to their own traditions even though I needed to get work completed. I am okay with this.

The awareness for today is simply to be tolerant of other cultures' and countries' traditions and holidays.

Monday, November 19, 2007


We always strive to work with the best people. We want to hire employees that impress us and who have fantastic recommendations. The problem is that even the "best" people have off days and situations that arise which are out of their control.

A company that I am working with is struggling with one specific department. The department was launched with the best of intentions and a fantastic action plan. Partially due to outside events, the department has not performed as well as expected; I believe that the department was not as well staffed as believed to begin with. At this stage, it is a rush to remedy the situation and possibly hire replacement staff.

The awareness for today is that every business can have unforeseen situations pop up even when strategic planning has been done from the onset. Go with it and do the best that you can when you are put in a situation you cannot control (which really is most situations; you can help shape a situation, but you can't really control it).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Business Integrity

I was contacted this morning by a man looking for funding to assist his company in the buyout of another company; we will call him Franklin. I had been introduced to Franklin by an associate of mine at the Institute for Independent Business International. After originally being introduced to Franklin a couple of months ago, he never provided the information promised to me and after he did not respond to a couple calls or e-mails, I simply let it go.

Upon receiving the message from Franklin today, I immediately let the associate who made the introduction know that Franklin had contacted me. I asked if he was still in contact with Franklin, but the main reason I checked in is that I did not want him to feel that I have circumvented him. I will still plan on sharing fees (if there are any earned on this!) with the associate who made the introduction, even though Franklin came to me directly. This is how I would want someone I made an introduction for to treat me.

The awareness for today is to remember to give credit where credit is due...especially if that credit involves any sharing of fees.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Deal Back on the Table

Let me see if I can explain this so it makes sense...I had been working on a funding deal with a consultant that I connected to one of my funding sources. They had chatted and my funding source had passed on the deal. Today, to my surprise, I found out that they began discussions again yesterday.

I am just baffled by how this even came about. The last conversation I had with my funding source was that if I got the client to provide more historical financial data, I asked if they would be willing to look at the deal again. The answer was yes, but that information was never provided. I am not at all upset that discussions have begun again, just surprised.

The awareness for today is to appreciate those things which we have no control over, but still benefit from.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Busy Day, Good Day

I know there is an old saying out there that is along the lines of "if you have something that needs to get done, give it to the busiest person." Logically, that doesn't make would think that you would give it to the least busy person. However, once someone is busy working and they have found their groove, they can generally accomplish quite a bit more than they normally do.

I am having a day where I feel swamped, but I know that I am accomplishing quite a bit. The work keeps getting piled on and I keep completing it. It is definitely satisfying.

The awareness for today is to first remember to breath when you get overloaded with work. Then focus and complete what you need to accomplish. It is that simple.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Great Blog Comments

A friend of mine from Boulder, "Jennie," is a regular reader of my blog and is also great at providing comments. Her comments generally illustrate the timeliness of my posts in relation to her life and she shares her own experiences related to the posts. Thank you "Jennie!" Please check back and read some of her comments if you have not done so.

I know that I have quite a bit more readers out there (I can actually track how man people read my blog). I would love to hear from you. Please share your experiences with me and let me know if you would like me to discuss a specific subject.

The awareness for today is to give. We often get stuck on taking, but giving is equally important. Look for areas in your life where you feel you can give more.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Communicating Responsibilities

Working with a start-up company can be fun as well as frustrating. One thing to think about is that staff often wear many hats. When this happens, there may be different staff members who have responsibility or authority over the same or similar areas.

We recently came across a situation with a fulfillment house we are working with. The fulfillment house wanted clarification as to who could approve orders and who they should be confirming with. There was a simple solution; I created a memo outlining staff roles and responsibilities around the fulfillment house. The memo was shared with all staff and even with the fulfillment house (I know, memos are for internal, not external, communication). The fulfillment house was quite appreciative of the memo as they then knew who to contact and who had authority over different areas.

The awareness for today is that not all solutions need to be complicated, sometimes all we need to do is write out some basic parameters and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Good Intentions

I really appreciate good intentions. However, they must be taken with a grain of salt, as good follow-through is more important than good intentions.

I know many people who want to do good, but they set goals and make promises that they cannot keep. Everyone is allowed a certain amount of leeway, but after a few missed deadlines or broken promises, it is difficult to take someone at their word regardless of their intentions.

The awareness for today is to be someone who follows through with his or her promises. Strive to do that which you commit to doing.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Personal Ethics

I was recently asked by a client, who was traveling, to forge his signature for a software beta test we were applying to. I said that I was unwilling to forge his signature and when asked, "why?", I said that I had problems with it ethically.

The solution was simple, I signed his name on the documents and added "by PBB" (my initials). Additionally, I had the client send me an e-mail sharing that he had read the documents, was travelling and was authorizing me to sign on his behalf. I then printed and included the e-mail when I sent in the signed documents.

We should never be ethically uncomfortable with any business acts we are performing. Sometimes they are not so unusual (I know that it is not uncommon for an assistant to sign a document on behalf of his or her boss) and sometimes they may seem quite inappropriate. Gray is always a difficult area to operate in.

The awareness for today is to remember to remain true to yourself and to look at the big is not always difficult to tell right from wrong.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Daylight Saving Time Ends on Sunday in the US

Just a reminder that Sunday morning Daylight Saving Time ends and our clocks go back one hour if you are in a location that observes it. There is some great information on Daylight Saving Time, the changes that are occurring in 2007 and how it all works here; I took a lot of information from the second page of the article.

Sunday morning we can take an extra hour of sleep and still get up at our customary time since this is the fall and in fall, time falls back (as opposed to the spring when time springs forward).

The awareness for today is appreciation for that extra hour on Sunday morning!

Have a great weekend and enjoy that extra hour!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Problem with Problems

"The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem." - Theodore Isaac Rubin, 1923-

I read this quote and was wowed by it. It is very simple, yet it says quite a bit. There will always be issues, or problems, in business. Even when things are going quite smoothly, little issues pop up. Let the above quote resonate a bit with you; problems occur and we need to be aware of that fact.

A little over a week ago, I blogged on "The Certainty of Change." We cannot expect everything to remain the same and therefore within change we will have problems come up that must be dealt with. If we can remain flexible, we will be more prepared to deal with these changes.

The awareness for today is to recognize that we will all face problems, but if we are open to them, we will be able to deal with them much more effectively.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Work Interruptions

I am currently working in an office that has been dropping it's Internet connection a few times an hour (not purposely). We do have someone coming out to check it, but it is frustrating nonetheless to have our work interrupted.

What I have noticed is that it takes away from my rhythm when all of a sudden I cannot load the page I need or get the information I am after. One staff member here jokingly remarked that he was going to appreciate it more when the Internet is up since it is sill running a majority of the time.

The awareness for today is to appreciate when we can work without interruptions and to be patient with ourselves and others we cannot avoid interruptions.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Different Personalities

This weekend I was at a holiday party hosted by some Intel employees. Everyone was very nice, but I did notice it was a social event filled with introverts. That is not a complaint as I am often quite introverted myself.

What this made me realize is that it really does take all different kinds of people to shape our world. I have been interviewing sales candidates over the last couple of weeks and I have noticed there as well that different personalities are needed for different reasons.

The awareness for today is to step back from judgement and appreciate that there are many different personality types out there and we each have our own roles to play in the grand scheme of things.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Example of Poor Customer Service

I tried out a new networking group yesterday. I don't think I will go again, but the experience was worth sharing. I had contacted the executive director of the group and she invited me to come and attend their (at the time) upcoming event as a guest and even registered me for the event. I looked at all of the information on their website and even read through the additional information she had shown me.

When I showed up for the luncheon, she said that it was $20. What?!?! It was not about the dollar amount, but rather the fact that there had never once been a mention of me having to pay just to explore this group. I have attended MANY different networking groups and have never had to pay to explore a group for a single attendance. This rubbed me the wrong way, but the executive director did not care in the least. The event was fair at best.

Upon my return to the office, I looked over all of the information I had seen previously to see if there was ever any mention of cost of attendance and there was not.

I decided to write her to share my feelings and findings. This is my complete e-mail to her without the headers or signature block (and event name and web addresses removed):

Hi Pat~

Thank you for having me as a guest today at the XXX luncheon event. I wanted to readdress the cost issue that I was shocked by when I arrived.

Looking back at your website, there are no prices/costs to attend listed on any of the event pages I looked at which included:

[web address removed]
[web address removed]

Perhaps if I had registered myself there would have been mention of a cost during the registration process, but you registered me so I did not go through that process.

Twenty dollars is not the end of the world, but as I said there was never mention of it before actually showing up at the event and that definitely rubbed me the wrong way.



Here is her response with headers and signature block removed (nothing else has been altered):

I am not sure why it got left off as I entered the price when I put the information on the website. It is on their for other monthly meetings.

She did not even want to address that I was bothered by this. She did not address the e-mail to me, nor even sign off. I don't believe that she even cares whether I join or not.

This is a great example of someone simply not caring nor standing behind their work. I find it quite unprofessional and off putting.

The awareness for today is to listen to your customers/clients/patients when they are put off by something and do your best to resolve it while addressing their concerns.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Back Pain

Ouch. I am still dealing with a lot of back pain that came from a car accident I had in 2001. I go through periods where it is fine and periods where it is definitely not fine...right now is one of those not fine periods.

The awareness for today is to make sure and take care of yourself physically.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Professional E-Mail Addresses

I have many (too many) different e-mail addresses; ones for business, personal, posting items for sale, from different organizations, etc. I do not recommend getting an e-mail for every occasion, however, I do believe people should have a professional e-mail address to use as needed.

When someone applies for a job using his or her personal e-mail address, it can look quite unprofessional (i.e.; I have seen this and I know people who still do it. I am not saying one should not have that address, but when you are sending e-mails related to business, get a professional address if you don't have one (i.e.; you do not have to use it for anything else.

The awareness for today is to have plenty of fun coming up with a creative e-mail address for personal use, but remember that when it comes time for business use, a professional e-mail address is appropriate.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Certainty of Change

Looking out the window, I can see that autumn is truly here. Trees have leaves of many colors or no leaves at all. It is a beautiful time of year. It is important to recognize that with change comes, well, change. While we can struggle against it as much as we would like, change is inevitable.

The awareness for today is to pay attention to the one thing we know for certain in this world: things will change; impermanence is real.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Cold, Rainy Friday

Today will not be a late day in the office. It is rainy and cold outside and I had a large lunch, so I am just dragging this afternoon. I am not a coffee drinker, so that is not an option. I think, no, I know that I will not be working late today and that is okay. For me it is about completing my tasks, not the hours it takes to do them.

The awareness for today is let go and take it easy if we need to. Obviously, we cannot always take it easy, but when we can, let's take advantage of it.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Responsibility for Our Actions

I have recently connected some consultants with funding sources of mine. I always feel that is a good thing as it leads to the potential of me receiving referral or finder's fees for successful deals. The frustrating part is that I have been getting two completely different stories when I check in with both sides.

The consultants say they were told one thing, while the funding sources explain they were saying something else. I then try to interpret it and share it back with the consultants, hoping to keep them from being too discouraged. I do whatever I can to keep both sides communicating. Sometimes there is nothing I can do.

The awareness for today is that we can only control our own actions (and even then control is an illusion); let's say we can only be responsible for our own actions. In saying that, let us do our best to improve any situation we are in rather than bog it down.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Productive Long Meetings

I had a finance meeting this morning that went for over three hours! It was a long meeting, but very productive. The small group of us worked on the financial plan for a start up company. It was a drastic change from the plan we had before and it really helped to tie up the business model in a much more succinct package.

Short and simple...the awareness for today is that not all business meetings are a waste of time. Meetings should not occur simply to meet up, there needs to be a purpose for the meeting. With a purpose and an end goal, meetings can be quite productive.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Back Pain and a Short(er) Fuse

Since travelling last weekend, my back has been causing me a lot of pain. I spent most the weekend relaxing, keeping my feet up, hoping that would help, but it is still hurting me today, so I know that I need to get some help; I am trying to get in to see a chiropractor.

The reason I bring up my back pain is because I notice that because of the pain, I am less patient and quicker to be aggressive with others. This is definitely not my intention and being aware of it has helped. I wrote about this not too long ago, saying that we never know what the person on the other side of the table/other end of the phone is going through.

The awareness for today is patience with ourselves and others. We need to pay attention to our bodies and help ourselves if we can, but we also need to be considerate of others and their issues.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Volunteer Boards

This morning I met with a fantastic organization that would like to open up discussions with me about joining their board of directors. I definitely take this as a compliment and if everything is in alignment for both the organization and myself, I will do it. I have been on boards before and one thing to take into consideration is that it can be quite a drain as far as time involved.

The boards that I have generally been involved with are entirely volunteer boards. As board members, we are giving our time to help organizations that we believe in. It is very important to pick our volunteer activities carefully so that we do not spread ourselves too thin and provide a lousy job to many organizations rather than the ideal, which is to provide a fantastic job (most likely to a limited number of organizations).

If I could be a full time philanthropist, I would. I would sit on many boards and create my work week around those volunteer activities. However, that is not where I am and I therefore need to ensure that I pick organizations that I truly want to stand behind.

The awareness for today is to pick our volunteer activities carefully so that they do not drain us and we are not a drain on them, but instead we help add to the organizations we choose to help.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bargaining Power

If you were to buy a house, you would not wait until the day of closing to negotiate the price. At that point you have very little bargaining power because you have put in a lot of time, energy and interest in getting to that point and the seller knows it. At the closing you could say I want [a specific low price], but the seller could easily say no, knowing that you already want the house or you would not have been involved in the process up until closing; it is obvious that you have invested in the house whether financially or not.

So with that example in place, it does not make sense to me to see people negotiate referral fees, salaries or stock participation in companies after they have already been involved in them. Now one can always walk away from any deal, but the further along we are, the more expensive it is to do so.

The awareness for today (and this is very important for myself as well) is to not get ourselves stuck in the place of little leverage. We need to look at our situations and ensure that we are getting the deal we want from the beginning, not pushing it off to deal with when we have no bargaining power.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Lost Luggage? No Worries.

I just returned late last night from my brother's wedding in luggage returned this morning. I read once that there are two types of luggage: carry-on and lost.

We were going to carry everything on, but one of our bags busted and we decided we did not want to have to deal with it, so we tied up the bag and checked it in at Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. We then went to check in at North West Airlines and confirmed that our bags would go all the way through to Portland (we did not book the flights at the same time, so we had a flight to Los Angeles and then from Los Angeles to Portland.

Our flight from Los Angeles to Portland was booked online through American Airlines. I tried checking in online and found that there was some error and I could not do it. While in Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport, we went to the American Airlines ticketing counter and could not check in there either; we were told that it was an affiliate flight for Alaska Airlines and we would have to wait and check in once we were at Los Angeles International Airport.

To begin with, we only had an hour between flights and knew that we did not want to have to leave the secure area or we would most likely be late catching our flight to Portland. The airplane departed an hour late, but made up some of that time. When we landed in LA, we had about forty-five minutes to check in and come back through security and we actually made it in minutes. The North West Airlines crew made an announcement asking passengers to let us off first so we could make our flight and most people were quite courteous.

Well, we made our flight, but our luggage didn't. Alaska Airlines delivered our luggage this morning and it really was not that big of a deal; a little frustrating, but no skin off my back.

The awareness for today is that worrying does not help in the least. There was nothing that we could do last night to remedy the situation, so we let it be and went with the flow. Everything worked out fine.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Getting Out the Door

There is always one last thing to do. I am trying to get out of town (I have a plane that I need to catch) and one thing after another keeps coming up. As much as possible, I do not want to have a pile to deal with upon my return. I also need to set a cut off time so that I do not miss my flight. I have never missed a flight and I am always quick to return calls and e-mails.

If I can help my deals move forward by getting agreements in place or providing introductions before I leave, then I will. However, I cannot and will not let it hold me up when I have other deadlines.

The awareness for today is to be, well, aware. By that I mean aware of our time constraints, our commitments, our goals and our needs. We can only do as much as we can do, but that is where we can put our focus. As I have written before, we each need to set our own boundaries.

I am traveling for a bit. I will write more when I can.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Meeting Confirmations

When I set up meetings via e-mail and there is discussion to the date and time, I always end the e-mail asking for a confirmation back or if I am responding, I make sure and write, "confirmed." I find this helps, when there is confusion, to go back and look at what was agreed upon.

I do not fault people (not that much at least) for making a mistake when it comes to time and date. Mistakes do happen. The problem I have is when someone tries to blame me...that is when it is incredibly helpful to have the confirmation via e-mail.

The awareness for today is to get confirmations and to provide them. Keep your e-mail as records for this; this does not mean you should keep all of your can read about that here.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Last Minute Project Frustrations

I am currently working with a client that often comes up with last minute projects. It is quite understandable that there is a need for specific information that could not be planned for. The flip side of this is that last minute information is not always immediately available.

When one needs something immediately, we can only do our best to get it as quickly as possible. The way to alleviate this is to plan our needs out in advance or not make promises to others based on information not yet in hand. Planning will save a lot of time and frustration later on.

The awareness for today is to avoid last minute urgency in our work whenever possible. Plan out your needs in advance and schedule enough time to complete necessary research. This will alleviate pressure on your employees as well; I know firsthand that it can be quite frustrating to be told something is needed immediately only to learn it is not immediately available.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Breakthrough Moment

This morning I was working with a client who had a breakthrough moment. She had been struggling with the same issue for quite a while and today it all of a sudden made sense. I have to admit that this was a relief for me as well because she finally "got it."

We all process information in our own way and I know personally, that I get frustrated at times when I understand specific logic that others don't, OR I can't get my head around something that seems so simple to someone else. What a relief it is when it finally clicks that we have our "aha moment."

The awareness for today is to be patient with ourselves and others and to do our best to make sure that we are giving AND taking the space we need to function at our best.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Common Sense Professionalism

I recently met someone at a networking event who was starting a web design company. This person did not have any business cards nor a working website to show any examples of the sites she had done. She did not make a very good first impression with me. We cannot always provide immediate examples of our work, but being prepared shows those we are speaking with that we are serious ourselves.

When I go to networking events, I always make sure I have plenty of business cards. These days there are many inexpensive options to getting quick business cards so that you can share your contact information. Not everyone needs to have a website up and running, but a web designer should. If I were to open a restaurant, I wouldn't invite people to come to my location and then tell them that the food/kitchen won't be ready for another couple of weeks.

The awareness for today is to be prepared when you are working on your business. If you are going to a networking event, take business cards, flyers, etc. If you position yourself as a professional, you will get treated as such.

Monday, September 24, 2007


I know that I am not alone in disliking Mondays. For most of us, it is the day of the week where we need to return to work after having time off over the weekend. For many it is not so much a dislike of work that makes it difficult, but rather the shift from personal time over the weekend to work during the week.

I love to have time off. Let me write that again, I LOVE TO HAVE TIME OFF. However, it is my time working that allows me to have my time off.

There will be some of my readers who just don't like their jobs and that is what makes Mondays difficult for them. For those people, I suggest looking for a new job or career. For those of us who just don't like the shift from weekend to work week, I would like to encourage us to embrace the fact that we go back to work to enable the enjoyment of our time off.

The awareness for today is to work beyond the dread of Monday and focus on what the work week enables us to do.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Smile with the Simple Things

I am currently helping watch a beautiful, sweet dog, Bella. Bella has been so excited to see me recently and has been acting playful like a puppy (she is 7 years old).

I was noticing how happy she was and how simple her life is and realized I should appreciate those same things.

The awareness for today is to appreciate the basics in our lives; warm weather, a beautiful sunset, our families, our friends, a good meal or even a satisfying work out. People often focus on what they do not have and instead, let's pay attention to the things we do have and try recognize those moments of happiness no matter how small they may be.

Good Yontif! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Maintenance Along the Way Instead of Massive Triage

I just spoke with someone this morning about hiring a bookkeeper to help with his books. A bookkeeper is not necessarily an accountant, but they can be an excellent resource for financial accounting maintenance. By using a bookkeeper regularly, it can decrease the amount of time needed (and costs involved) for an accountant to look over your books and file your taxes annually or quarterly.

The person debating hiring the bookkeeper thought it would be easier to just have his accountant look over his books once a year. That can be quite expensive and time consuming as it is more difficult to clean up a mess after the fact rather than perform routine maintenance along the way.

The awareness for today is to keep your affairs in order through regular maintenance and to use professional resources on a periodic basis to ensure that your maintenance is appropriate and effective.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Excellent Comment to Share

I received a very well thought out comment to my post from yesterday, Integrity Issues in Others.

energygirl wrote:
Interesting quandary. My first sense of awareness, is to question when I go into judgement of others/myself. The awareness around my judgements generally--not always--leads to compassion at the end of my journey. I question perfection.

My next awareness came when I realized I had compassion for the quandary. It's hard to watch others out of integrity (assuming they care about that sort of thing). Especially when they're in a leadership role or we're being "called out" to be courageous in our leadership role.

I know for me, integrity follows me wherever I go. I expect to fail in order to grow and learn and succeed (read: I know my top values--I don't throw stones; I try to walk in another's shoes; and I definitely live by gold and platinum rules--treating others like I want to be treated--unconditionally).

I also expect to stay in integrity to the best of my ability in each moment of my very precious, impermanent life--knowing that moments pile up on occasion and leave us with a big mess.

Part of staying in integrity, for me, is trusting my deepest truth to make solid decisions and challenge my beliefs even when my environment (internal and external) proves itself dynamic at best.

All the best to you! Thanks for the awareness.

Thank you energygirl for sharing your comments.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Integrity Issues in Others

Some questions to think about today.

When you are working with someone who you see to be acting without integrity, do you continue to work with them?

What if that person is your employee? Your supervisor?

Please share your thoughts on this. I would like to hear/read how others would handle the above situations.

The awareness for today is to think about the questions I posed above.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Call Me Back Immediately and I Might Even Return Your Call...

Have you ever gotten that frantic message from a client or contact that they need to speak with you as soon as possible, only to call them back and receive their own voicemail and then they don't call back? Well I sure have.

If your call is that urgent, explain what the issue is in your message. Then, recognize when your call is returned that it is probably best to let the return caller know that there is no longer a situation if that is the case.

The awareness for today is that it really helps to explain our urgency to others if we want them to appreciate that urgency. And, then, once the situation is resolved, let the other party know that.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

USC vs. UCLA - Not What You Think

While completing my bachelor's degree at the University of Southern California (USC), one of my economics professors compared the costs associated with attending USC (a private school) and its major rival, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA, a public school). USC is quite a bit more expensive than UCLA. However, it is difficult to complete a bachelor's degree in four years at UCLA, so for that fifth year at UCLA, one is still paying tuition and fees whereas the USC graduate is done paying for school and is instead out in the world making a living.

My professor illustrated this in dollars and it made a lot of sense at the time to look at the situations opportunity cost. Opportunity costs are the different costs (and potential earnings) associated with different choices; what you gain or lose based on different routes. I really appreciated that this exercise was a big picture approach rather than just taking into consideration the costs in that moment.

The awareness for today is to look at the big picture and examine your opportunity costs when making decisions.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Waiting Game

Part of my work for a current client involves me speaking with executive coaches and consultants. Today I am quite aware of the fact that I am waiting to hear back from quite a few of them.

I am not going to going to make an issue that all calls should be returned in a timely manner nor will I mention that I have left multiple messages with these contacts.

The awareness for today is that it can be very frustrating waiting on others. I cannot control this situation other than to use the time that I am waiting productively for other projects.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Portland Ice Storm - Everyone has the Same Problem

So today I wanted to share one of my favorite videos from YouTube. It is of a terrible snow/ice storm in Portland, Maine. What I find fascinating is the number of people who see that no one else has been able to make it through the ice, but it is going to be different for them. It is pretty funny as everyone who tries, ends up doing more damage to themselves and others.

The awareness for today is to recognize that when you notice others are massively struggling on something it is not necessarily going to be easy for you either. Don't keep trying to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Be innovative and try your own thing (hopefully more calculated than the video!).

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Matter of Perspective

I was recently looking over an employee review and read both the employee and supervisor's comments. It was like looking at two very different situations that had absolutely nothing to do with each other.

It really is a matter of perspective and beyond that, communication. The employee believed that he was working above and beyond the call of duty, while the supervisor did not feel that his work was above average. When two parties are that far apart in their thinking, it can make discussions around the situation difficult. Having a third party involved, in this case a human resources manager, allows both parties to express their points of view and receive feedback from the other. This is never an easy situation, but it is one that must be dealt with. By bringing in a third-party moderator, both sides are protected while speaking and the moderator can make sure the discussion stays on track. The result of this discussion should be clear expectations from and for both sides.

The awareness for today is to recognize that your perspective is based on the information available to you and may be very different from someone else's perspective.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Dealing with Difficult People

It is a fact that we will not like all people we need to deal with for business. That is okay, throughout our lives, there have been and always will be people that we just cannot connect with; such is life. How do we deal with these people in business?

It is important to remember that we cannot control external factors. We can adapt to them, but not control them. We can, however, control ourselves. When dealing with a difficult person, it is best to be yourself. Do not expect them to be difficult, but rather simply be at your best and do not antagonize the situation.

I highly recommend, and just bought for someone, People Skills by Robert Bolton. The book helps one learn different communication styles and how to work well with others.

The awareness for today is to keep ourselves in check even though we cannot control others. Let us be responsible for ourselves and work from that place.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Returning to Work Catch Up

To those of you who had a long weekend, I welcome you back. I love taking a long weekend, but there is always the stress of catching up upon my return. By missing time "in the office" (I use this term loosely as it does not have to mean a physical space/destination), there are items that need to be dealt with when we return. That doesn't sound so bad, except that our regular duties and agenda items must be dealt with as well.

It is important to remember that after a three day weekend like this one due to Labor Day, we are not the only ones returning to the office to play catch up. Most people we deal with here in the States will be catching up (granted, when it is a federal holiday and EVERYONE is off, there is not as much catch up to do).

The awareness for today is to take our time and not rush through in trying to catch up; don't just get the work done, get the work done right. The secondary part of our awareness today is to recognize that those around us are catching up today as well; be patient with others and they will be patient with you.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Explain Yourself

Yesterday, a colleague sent me some attachments for a new deal with a blank e-mail; I later learned that she had written an introduction, but for some reason, that had not made it with the e-mail. I responded yesterday asking for more narrative on the deal to get a better understanding of what was being requested and she replied with the information that I needed.

It is much more effective when e-mailing someone for information or services to provide an introduction of what one is looking for and why. The recipient should not have to respond to an e-mail and ask, "why was this sent to me?"

The awareness for today is to be thorough in our business practices and clear about what we are asking for and offering.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Benefits to Online Networking

I would like to respond to a comment yesterday from energygirl. Her comment was, "Words of wisdom for this dinosaur. What has been your experience of the value in networking online/having an online networking presence? I'd like to learn more."

I have been using LinkedIn for a about seven months. My profile is here. I contacted former colleagues and college friends and linked up with them. I was also contacted by quite a few of them on their own. It is great to be able to see what people are up to, follow their careers and see who they are connected with.

I have asked for introductions from my connections to their contacts that I would like to meet and have made new contacts this way. I have seen very little business come through this effort, but I am still looking at the long term possibilities that can come of it.

I have also used MySpace, but that has been purely for social networking; catching up with college friends, friends who have moved away and even friends from high school. It is fun, but not at all business related.

The awareness for today is to try something new. Set up an account on LinkedIn (it is free), post your work and education history and begin catching up with old colleagues. It cannot hurt and maybe one of those old colleagues happens to have a need that you can fill and the timing may work out perfectly. Let me know how it goes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Keeping Up with Social Networks

I am pretty tech-savvy and while definitely not an IT professional, I can get around hardware and software pretty well. I enjoy technology and use it to simplify my life whenever I can. These days there are loads of social networking sites that allow you to share your information with the world and to connect to people while doing so.

There is MySpace for social networking, LinkedIn for business networking, and Facebook for a little of both with a lot of pictures. I do like LinkedIn and have my profile here; I have reconnected with people from my past and connected with current colleagues. I recommend checking out these sites if you would like to have an online presence to connect with others; many people will have no interest in doing this.

The awareness for today is to establish yourself online if you want to connect with people from throughout your life. If you do not want to do online networking, then stick to your website for people to find you, that is fine, but it is a bit behind in the times.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Entrepreneurial Thinking

I am currently working on a fantastic project with an entrepreneur. The potential for this to be an innovative new business is great. The hard part is that the entrepreneur holds a lot of the information in his head.

My goal this week is to get that information onto paper and shared with his staff. Everyone needs to be aware of the big picture that he is working on. Once everyone is on the same page, it will be more clear to see the goal that is being worked towards.

The awareness for today is get the full story from those you may work with. Communicate openly and honestly and allow others to work with you.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Excitement of a New City

I have been in Portland, Oregon for almost three weeks now. I have been networking to get to know businesses and business people in the area. I have to admit that it is very exciting and fun to get to know the city. Portland is a great city and the people here have been incredibly welcoming. Everyone that I have spoken with has given me more names to speak with, so my circle of contacts is growing quite rapidly.

I had a meeting on Thursday evening where the people I met with were quite impressed with the number of contacts that I had already made and who those contacts were. It always feels good to be validated by others, but we should not expect it.

The awareness for today is that while our cocoon can be very comfortable, sometimes shaking things up a bit can add new energy into our lives.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Changing It Up

Sometimes, when I am stressed or aggravated, I find it helpful to shake up my schedule. Today I got up early and went for a walk before sitting down at the computer to deal with e-mail. What a change that walk made! I got to stretch out and breathe in the fresh air. I came back feeling energized and ready to go.

The awareness for today is to recognize when you are stressed, aggravated or frustrated and to work on creating a change from your patterns in order to bring new energy into your routine.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Time Management

I find that I know many people who just can't seem to get everything done during the day that they would like. I definitely hit those frustrating days when I just have too much to do. However, I generally keep myself on track by creating a task list and giving priority to specific items that MUST be completed that day. I accomplish as much as I can and then items that do not have to be completed that day can be pushed.

Now we must be careful not to keep pushing items too far off, but we all know there are non-essential items that sometimes get in the way of priority items; if you say you will get back to someone, that should be a priority.

The awareness for today is to look at what must be completed on a daily, weekly and even monthly basis and arrange your schedule to make it happen. I am always available to help clients create more efficiency in their organizations.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Following Up After a Request for Information

I am an accredited executive associate of the Institute for Independent Business International. The Institute is an international accreditation body for senior executives. We are on a closed e-mail system and can therefore send mass e-mails to all accredited associates. I often use this to share my sources with associates, but also to receive continuous requests for funding.

Once I receive a mass e-mail that requests funding, I check with my various sources and if there is interest, I reply with a request for the additional information I will need to assist; I try to do this within 24 hours, but I am sometimes held up by my funding sources. If I do not receive a response from an associate that sent the request, I send a follow up e-mail one week later. 80% of the time I receive a response, but I do not understand why the other 20% don't even respond or acknowledge my offer of assistance.

To me it is common courtesy to reply even if the need has been filled. I find it very helpful to be notified that a deal no longer needs funding and then I close it out of my pending projects.

The awareness for today is to be conscious and courteous if you are looking for information. If someone replies back to you after you have already received the information you were looking for, simply express that and thank them for their time; it will definitely keep the relationship open for the future.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Work/Life Balance

I was talking with an entrepreneur the other day and he brought up the fact that with owning his own businesses, he is always working. His cell phone keeps him connected even when he is not in the office; I actually know that he accomplishes quite a bit of work on his commutes as well.

I agree that when you own your own business, you need to be more available than if you were an employee. However, it is important to maintain a life outside of your work as well. Obviously it depends on the type of business you are in, but for me I love working for myself and being able to take time when I need it. There are times when I need to be on a conference call on a weekend, return e-mails or work on projects, but there are the other times when I can take a three day weekend, start my day early or end my day late.

I like to work for myself in order to create the lifestyle that I want to live. We each need to find that for ourselves.

The awareness for today is to make sure that we are comfortable with our work/life balance. If you are not, then look at boundaries you can create for yourself around work and make time for yourself and those you care about.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Our Best Work at All Times

There are so many times throughout our days when we just want to get a task out off the way. Sometimes, it is easier to do the bare minimum and then let someone else deal with it. That is not working with integrity and I know I have been guilty of this as well.

The attitude that I try to take on is that I want to feel proud of the work I accomplish. If I am working with others and the project will be passed on to someone else, I want to ensure that it leaves my hands as complete and professional as possible. I do not want someone else to have to clean up my mess, but rather I want to feel confident that I did all that I could before letting someone else complete their portion of a project.

The awareness for today is to stand behind our work and do our best to accomplish that which we set out to do. I know that I do not want to give other people work that I should be doing myself and hope that you will endeavor to do the same.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Availability of Information

Yesterday I began working with a client on a marketing plan. It is amazing how easy it is to find annual corporate reports and quick facts and figures on other companies or even demographics in general.

The Internet has made research much easier; it takes a lot longer to track down and call companies for corporate reports without using the Internet.

The awareness for today is that there is loads of research available at our fingertips. Sometimes we have to wade through junk to get to it, but it is there and easily accessible.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Conference Calls

Today I am dealing with the frustration of setting up a conference call between London and both the East and West coasts. I think it will work out fine, but trying to get every one's schedule to work together is a bit tricky.

The awareness for today is that we need to take the needs and schedules of others into consideration if we do not want to work alone. Beyond that, even if we want to work alone, there are times that we need to work with others.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Building Trust

As I meet with more and more people, it appears that over time, every one has been burned by someone else. I know some people do not want to work with large banks because of their bureaucracy or some do not want to work with investment banks because they have been charged upfront fees and promises were never delivered. Whatever the case may be, building trust is important.

What we say and what we do need to match up. I do not make promises that I cannot keep. It is important for me to build trust with my clients and colleagues, so if I do not have an answer to a question I am asked, I feel quite comfortable saying, "I do not know, but I will find out." This is a much better approach than trying to provide a response that may not be accurate and then trying to clean that up later.

The awareness for today is to not make idle promises, but instead to do our best to offer our services with integrity.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Networking in Foreign Locations

While I am in Portland, Oregon (or if I were in any other foreign location to me, domestic or abroad) I am quite aware of the fact that I do not know the area. When it comes time to set up networking meetings, I am more than open to letting the other party set the location and then finding my way there (with my GPS of course, as I mentioned here).

I do not have my favorite spots to meet, nor can I generally even choose the location because of my lack of knowledge of the area. Luckily, I have always been fortunate to meet people who are willing to be the "hosts" of their city.

The awareness for today is to simply appreciate our familiarity with our own surroundings and be grateful for those who help us when we are out of our normal regions.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

When Seeking Funding

I often receive requests for funding, as debt financing is what I focus on. Sometimes the request I receive is along these lines, "I have a client that needs $X to grow their business. Can you help?" I often can, but I definitely need more information. I request a one-sheet summary and a business plan including past and projected financials just to really see if the deal is something that my funding sources would be interested in. If I am not interested in the deal or do not believe in it, then my sources do not want to see it; they want me to act as their first line of defense against deals that may waste their time.

The next step is the interesting one. Sometimes I receive a reply with more basic information, but no business plan. If someone is looking for money, they need to know what they are asking for and be able to support why they are asking for the money/how it will be used as well as show how they will have the resources to pay it back (to cover their debt service).

The one-sheet summary (often an executive summary will cover this) is incredibly helpful for me to share with my funding sources to simply see whether there is interest or not. If the business plan is not too technical, I can create the one-sheet summary to share. However, if the business plan is very technical, I am quick to acknowledge that I am not an expert on their business and I request that they create the summary for me to share so that all of the pertinent information is included.

I like to point out that I do not charge any fees, but instead take a success fee only if the funding is successful, so there is no cost to using my help for their funding needs; this is all arranged in advance.

The awareness for today is if you are looking for any form of financing, it will take work on your end. You cannot just say you need money (from less than $50K to more than $500M) without supporting your case. Put in the time to "make your case."

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Benefits of Technology

I am currently in Portland, Oregon checking out new potential home base locations. While I am here, I am going to networking meetings and new business meetings. I would not be able to get around Portland without my GPS (Global Positioning System). My GPS (with an English woman's voice directions) tells me when to turn and even how long until my arrival at my destination.

I think the biggest help is when I try to not use the GPS and get lost. The GPS will tell me how to get back on track (even if I make a wrong turn, it will reprogram the trip from my new location). It really has been a lifesaver.

The awareness for today is that, while technology may complicate life at times, there are numerous times where the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Great Comments on Retaining E-Mail!

I received this comment from a reader (and friend), "Jennie" on my blog Retaining E-Mail. She wrote:

I save all mine too. I know it is pack-ratty, but I found that there have been times when I needed to go back and track something down and I've got it.

I find that it is also helpful when I do have phone conversations or face-to-face meetings where decisions are made to follow up with an email "I enjoyed speaking with you earlier where we decided xyz." or "In the meeting today I understood that the new policy is abc. If this is not correct, please let me know." This has been very helpful, particularly when working with people who only communicate orally and won't put things in writing.

Thank you Jennie for your comments. You are right, using e-mail to confirm conversation and agreements is a great follow-up activity. We are given the opportunity to receive confirmation as to the way we understood the meeting or conversation.

The awareness for today is to learn from others and do our best to pick up little tricks that can benefit us.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Acting with Integrity

I do my best to always make sure my that anyone who I may work with is happy. I believe that people on both sides of any deal should always walk away satisfied from a closed deal.

The problem is that you cannot please everyone. Sometimes it is personality conflicts, other times people just do not want to be content.

The awareness for today is to recognize that not all people will be happy with you. It is your job to act with integrity and do all that you can, but not everyone will be receptive...that is okay.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Defining Your Own Level of Professionalism

As I have discussed before, I can be a bit rigid in my thought process. I like to make sure everything is in order and I pride myself on my professionalism and efficiency. I recently did a deal with a new contact who expressed how much she thoroughly appreciated my professionalism and keeping on her to complete her end of the agreement.

Not everyone will appreciate it. Last week I stopped working with a recent connection because he wanted to be, what I would consider, sloppy; he did not care about faxes that were not readable nor having agreements signed in advance.

The awareness for today is to find the your own boundaries and learn where you are flexible and where you are rigid. Sometimes you may have to learn by simply trying and there could be costs involved, but, hey, that is part of the learning curve we all go through.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Retaining E-Mail

I love communicating via e-mail. Sure it is not as personal as via phone or [gasp] meeting in person, but I very much enjoy it nonetheless. The real kicker for me is that I can track my conversations and then have a record of what I wrote, what someone else wrote or even specific terms that were agreed to.

I know people who purge their old e-mail; if they have already responded, they delete it from their computer (or online e-mail account). Not me. I save my e-mail and have found it useful to pull up a past discussion to verify information. I have found this to be handy when confirming fee sharing situations on funding deals and even to confirm that one party or the other was waiting on specific information before replying.

The awareness for today is to at least think about saving all of your e-mail for future reference. Some of you will and some will not. There is no reason to save the reply from your friend who simply wrote, "thanks for the call."; there is no reason to save those...but I do.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Secret

I have been discussing "The Secret" recently with others. I have seen the movie a few times, but never read the book. I have read a book that it is based upon which is "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill; originally published in 1937, although I didn't read it then. The movie, even more so, goes into the Law of Attraction which basically says that you get what you ask for. If you worry all the time that you are going to lose your job, there is a good chance that you will bring that upon yourself.

I think the movie seems to get quite repetitive, but the basic principle is great...ask for and put your energy into that which you want. Instead of repeating a mantra that says, "I don't want to be late," one should put her energy into believing, "I want to arrive early."

The awareness for today is to see if you can turn around some of your thoughts so that they are positive and beneficial rather than negative and harmful.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Get it in Writing

I have previously blogged about getting agreements in writing here. It is very important to have any financial arrangements worked out in advance of a deal closing as opposed to after the fact when you no longer have any bargaining power.

I take it as a big red flag if someone is not willing to complete non-disclosure or fee agreements in advance. This is the only way I have of protecting myself on a deal. If an agreement is faxed back to me and it is not legible due to the electronic transmission, then I simply ask to have a hard copy mailed to me as well. This is not a big deal and has never been a problem when I work with professionals.

There have been the occasions when someone does not want to fax AND mail me a copy; it is just too much work for them. Those people are jokers. When we are talking about seven to eight figure deals with referral fees in the five to six figure range, the professionals make sure that everything is spelled out.

The awareness for today is to be a professional and not a joker. Ensure that any business dealings you have are done with integrity.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Shaking Things Up

Sometimes we just hit that wall where we cannot be creative or productive. It happens to all of us and I am sure that many of us find it frustrating. What I have found to work is that I simply shake things up a bit; I go for a walk or hike, go out and grab tea or lunch, make some phone calls or read for a bit.

By taking on some other activity and distracting myself for a while, I am able to come back refreshed and with new ideas and approaches to the situation at hand.

The awareness for today is to be gentle with yourself and step away when you need to so that you can return with the energy you need.

Monday, July 23, 2007

You Have to Start Somewhere

I often speak with people who have great ideas for a business or product. The difficult part is when they keep talking about it for years. They say that they do not know where to start or that it is just too overwhelming to begin on their new project.

Just jump in! You have to start somewhere and I recommend breaking it down into small pieces and going from there. Do some research to find out if anyone else is already doing it. Get a better idea of the financial costs (i.e. start up costs, rent, inventory, etc.). Simply write your idea down on paper and play with the wording.

I do not recommend jumping in by starting your business and accumulating expenses while researching. I do, however, recommend moving beyond the "talking" stage and figuring out the feasibility of one's idea.

Contact me if you need help, otherwise create an outline and fill in any lines you already know. Begin working on those items and that should begin opening up other necessary steps as you go.

The awareness for today is to make things happen. If you have a great idea, start taking it to the next level.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Increasing Revenue Rather Than Reducing Expenses

I was recently working with a client who was feeling a crunch in his sales. His plan was to cut back his expenses so that he could cover his monthly crunch. I told him that this made sense for his net outcome, but that his energy should go towards increasing his revenue rather than decreasing his expenses.

After further discussion, he agreed to work harder on his marketing, networking and sales. There wasn't much for him to cut back on as far as expenses anyway, but it is a negative approach to cut expenses and a positive approach to increase revenues.

The awareness for today is to put your energy towards the positives in your life and not the negatives. Pay attention to what you want to do, not to what you don't want to do.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Discontinuing Membership

I previously wrote about my decision not to continue my membership with the Boulder Chamber of Commerce on my blog here. May came and went and I did not pay my dues. The Chamber sent me another notice in June that was just a duplicate of my first notice and again in July...the dates never changed on the invoice nor indicated that my membership was overdue.

I am still receiving all of the benefits of Chamber membership such as the newsletter and invitations to events. Plus I am still be invited as an ambassador to attend special events. I am not attending any events.

I am quite surprised that I have not received a phone call from the Chamber. They do not seem interested in learning why I have not renewed or if I intend to renew my membership. I am disappointed that they have not tried harder or really put in any effort. Unfortunately, many members and former members that I have spoken with feel the same way.

The awareness for today is to let your customers/clients/patients know you appreciate them. If you have not heard from one in quite some time, check in with them and make them feel valuable.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Personal Writing Style

I notice when working with others that we each have our own writing style. There are definite rules such as grammar that we all follow, but we do not all write using textbook English. I believe it is important to embrace your own voice in writing. As I have been writing this blog, I have come to understand my style even more so than before.

I have found that in business briefs versus e-mails, I may vary my wording, but the style tends to remain. Once you are comfortable with your writing, accept it as your own and use it as one of your many tools in your arsenal.

The awareness for today is to embrace your writing style and create your own voice.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Forwarding E-Mail

Yesterday I received an e-mail from an attorney that I have worked with. It was a forward that had been sent on many times and still included all of the e-mail headers from previous forwardings. The e-mail was a hoax that has been going around for about ten years that says Bill Gates will pay you money to forward this e-mail...blah, blah, blah.

I am guilty of sending on some jokes if they are worthwhile. However, if I do forward e-mails, I send them to myself and and put the recipients' addresses in the BCC field so I am not sharing my contacts' e-mail addresses with the rest of the world.

If you receive an e-mail that sounds questionable (come on, why would Bill Gates be paying people to forward an e-mail?), then check out You can search and most likely your e-mail will show up as a hoax.

We all receive enough e-mail on a regular basis to not junk up our inbox with hoaxes.

The awareness for today is to work on being aware and not creating unnecessary distractions in our own lives.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Business Phone Line to Go

I have been doing some phone switching and I moved my business line to Vonage a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service. It is not active yet (ten days to move my phone line), but I cannot believe how helpful they were in setting everything up; excellent customer service!

The major benefit is that I can travel and connect my router to any broadband connection and receive calls from my business line in a hotel or anywhere else as long as I can connect to a broadband Internet connection. The customer service guy helping me get set up told me that he knows of people who buy a local number here in the States and then send the router over to relatives in the Middle East and it is still a local phone call when calling them.

Technology is truly amazing. When I am in Los Angeles, I visit a woman that I know who is 108 years old (yes, she was born in 1898!). She saw the invention of radio and television and cannot even grasp the Internet. She once told me that her great granddaughter had met her husband through cable TV and it took me a minute to realize that she meant the Internet, but had no idea what the Internet was.

The awareness for today is to appreciate the technology that we have even if it does complicate our lives at times.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hit or Miss Customer Service

I was trying to figure out how to move some of my phone lines around today and I called my local phone company. The first woman I spoke with had no idea what she was talking about and gave me conflicting answers. I then tried to get my questions answered online. After getting four "Thank you for your patience, I will be right with you"-s and waiting fifteen minutes, when I finally chatted with the guy he said I would have to call the phone company again. Then....I called the phone company again and got a woman who was incredibly helpful and even admitted that she was aware that there are employees who cannot actually assist customers with basic questions and information.

Too much time dealing with customer services today! Sometimes you can get great service immediately and sometimes you cannot. Such is life.

The awareness for today is to not give up when you need answers. If the customer service representative cannot help, then just call back later and speak with someone another representative.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Connecting Internationally

I am fascinated when reading my blog's statistics that I have readers from all over the world. I can see that my blog has been translated and read in different languages; today I saw Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. I think that is great!

I enjoy international work, bridging the world together. While we have our local economies to focus on, there is also a global economy that deserves some attention. Over the last thirty years there have been tremendous changes and opportunities to work on a global scale. Faxes, international calling rates, VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) and e-mail have made it simple to communicate with someone on the other side of the world. I find it exciting to work on a financing deal with a company based in Switzerland, the investment bank in Great Britain, the funding bank in South Africa and myself still here in the States.

Unfortunately, this technology has kept me from needing to do much international traveling for business. Perhaps that has saved me a lot of time, but I do miss out on actually experiencing new cultures firsthand. I guess I better get more pleasure traveling planned.

The awareness for today is to recognize that we are all part of a global economy even while we are focusing on our local economies.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Blogging to Make Money

I began my blog believing that I would be able to subsidize my income with it. There are bloggers out there making a living on their blogs; I am not one of them.

What I have learned over time is that I enjoy writing and getting some of my thoughts out of my head and out there/here for sharing with others. I have even received great feedback via comments on my blog, being contacted through my blog and even directly via e-mail.

I am going to keep writing regardless, but while you are reading my blog, please check out some of the ads on the right or underneath. You can also click through some of the words with double blue underlines as well. Most of the advertisements are content specific, so there should be some relevance to my blog.

I know this will not take over as my primary income earner, but it sure would be nice to make something extra for this.

For the awareness today, I ask that you look at my blog differently than you have in the past and see if there are any links of interest to you.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Thrown off from the Holiday

This has been a slow moving week. With the holiday on Wednesday, everything has been thrown off. Some people took off Monday and Tuesday and then had the mid-week holiday, while others took off Thursday and Friday (today) after the holiday.

I am just noticing that not a lot of work seems to be happening and everyone is waiting on everyone else.


The awareness for today is to wrap up your work week if you are working and enjoy the weekend. Next week we can all get back to work.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Game Face

I had tea with an associate of mine recently and he was shocked when I mentioned that I am an introvert. He and I know each other through the Boulder Chamber of Commerce where I attend many events and network with lots of people.

I explained that networking is part of my business and if I want to be successful at it, I need to put on my game face, get into character and be the extrovert that I want to be. Afterwards I generally need some down time to recharge and reset my energy.

I do not fake interest in speaking with people, but I do push myself to go out of my way to not be an introvert.

The awareness for today is to be the person you need to be for your business. It may not always be comfortable or easy, but like any professional, one must put in the work for the desired results.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Fouth of July!

I wish a very happy Independence Day to my American readers, friends and colleagues.

Enjoy the day off if you have it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Verfiy Charges!!!

I was looking over some financial statements of one of my clients and saw a large and unusual debit charge on their checking account. I questioned it and learned that my client was not even aware of it. Upon further investigation, I learned that it was for design work that was supposed to have been done, but never was completed; the work was started, then the account manager dropped the ball (and then left the company) and then nothing was ever completed. I made some calls and the charge should be reversed.

Often people laugh, or think that I am being anal, when I save ALL of my receipts. Yes, I can be anal, but with good reason. I always verify all charges to my credit cards and checking accounts against receipts. If I do not have a receipt, that definitely brings up a red flag and requires more research.

The awareness for today is to pay attention to any charges on your accounts. Verify that you have a receipt and that the charge is for the same amount as the receipt. If you do this on a monthly basis, it will not take very long to do. Trust me, it is worth it.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Loss of Internet Access

I was quite frustrated today as my Internet access was unavailable for large chunks of the day. I went out and worked from a coffee shop for a bit, but that is definitely not the same as working in MY space.

It amazes me how dependent I have become on the Internet. I need to stay current with my e-mails and do research and if I do not have Internet access, a lot of my work simply cannot happen.

The awareness for today is to appreciate how the Internet has helped, but also to be aware of the dependency it has created. Hopefully you are not as bad as me!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Write it Down!

I met with a client this morning who is looking to purchase a new building. He has done a lot of research on the building and location and has even done a bit of negotiation with the building owner. I asked to look over the financial figures that he is working on and he pulled out a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket. He didn't even remember what some of the numbers referred to.

I worked with him on putting the information into a spreadsheet. We then were able to look at costs, expenses and rental income to give him a better idea of what the actual expenses and income would be for the building. This exercise was incredibly helpful to him. Not only did he get a much better sense of the scope of the deal, but he also has a much better starting point for talking to the building owner, mortgage broker, accountant and his silent partner.

The awareness for today is to take the time to put information down on paper (ideally typed into a computer so that it is easier for editing) so that you can provide yourself with a starting point to begin any project. Whether you are writing down conceptual ideas, financial data or strategic ideas, having them down on paper/computer gives you a much stronger foundation to work from.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Consistency with Employees - Increase Efficiency & Effectiveness

I was recently working with a client where the two owners would give different instructions to their employees. This was very difficult on the employees as they were asked by one boss to do X and disregard Y, while the other boss would say Y is important and to hold off on X.

It is important to keep everyone on the same page, working towards the same goal. If there are mixed messages, employees can become confused and lose momentum because they are constantly shifting their focus based on the varying instructions they are given. This does not make for happy, productive employees.

The awareness for today is to make sure that you, your partners and managers are all on the same page and communicating productive helpful information to your employees that is consistent from all owners and managers. Your employees will appreciate it and you will see increased efficiency and effectiveness.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Running in Circles

Do you ever get so frustrated with a project that you get yourself stuck in a rut? I know that I have done that to myself. I push and struggle so much that I lose my footing and then just begin spinning my wheels without accomplishing anything.

When this happens, it is best to step away. Don't even think about the project. Go for a walk, go to the gym, it is a good time to have lunch, etc. Just step away. When you come back, hopefully refreshed, there is the opportunity to look at the project from a fresh perspective. This has often helped me to get out of that place of aggravation and move forward with my goals.

The awareness for today is to recognize when you are stuck and to allow yourself to step away and recharge before getting back to it. Don't continue hammering something in if it doesn't fit.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Important Reminder

I often blog about customer service or the lack of it. Yesterday, I was given a gentle reminder that there may be external factors affecting the way customers are treated.

In general I have back issues (relating back to my back being broken in a car accident in 2001). Yesterday was a tough day for my back and, therefore, for me. In the past five days, I have flown twice and been in two three-hour plus car rides; my back can only handle so much. The point is that while I was in pain, I noticed that my mood suffered. I was grumpy, annoyed and frustrated by people I was working with. Just recognizing what was going on with me helped me mellow myself out, but it definitely was a stressful day for me because of the pain.

Because of this, I need to remember that the times I am receiving poor customer service may not be a normal reflection on the one giving it to me. This is not an excuse or a reason for someone not to try hard, but it helps me to remember to cut people a little slack.

The awareness for today is to simply recognize how our moods affect those around us and to be conscious enough to recognize that others may be taking things out on us that have nothing to do with us.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Waiting Game

I am currently stuck in a bit of business limbo. I have been asked by two different associates if I can help with funding on two different deals. One looks quite interesting, whereas the other would be more of a favor to create a relationship for the future. On both of the deals, I am waiting on my funding sources to see if they are interested and would like more information beyond the initial information provided.

It has been about a week for both, but I do not like to keep people waiting. I have left messages and sent follow up e-mails and I do expect to hear back by the beginning of this week. There is nothing I can do at this point other than to wait for the responses. I have shared with my associates that I am doing all that I can and will contact them as soon as I hear back. No one has complained, so I am not in a bad situation in that sense.

The awareness for today is to recognize that we cannot do everything. Even if we do all that we can, there may be times when we have to wait on others.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Listening to Your Gut

I am learning more and more to listen to my gut, intuition, whatever name you want to give it. There are often red flags that come up while I am working with others. Red flags are just warnings and not necessarily a reason to step away from a deal, but definitely a notice to pay attention and make sure I am not allowing a situation to get out of control.

The awareness for today is to pay attention to the signs around you. Perhaps you notice your mood change or really feel it, literally, in your stomach. Our brains give us signals and it is up to us to pay attention to them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Helping the Little Guy

I took my car in for an oil change today. Not very exciting, but I spoke with the owner about his shop a bit. He asked me what I did for a living and I told him that I was a business advisor/connector and he asked me if I wanted to buy his business. I was surprised because I knew that his son worked with him and I had assumed that when he was ready to retire (not too far off) that his son would take over.

He told me that his son has some major back problems and that it was best for him to get out of the business. I thought about it for a second as I knew that there was not much I could help him with, but I realized that even though his is a very small business, I may still be able to connect him with either potential buyers or at least some business brokers to assist him in the sale. He was quite appreciative and I know that it will take me very little time to help him.

The awareness for today is to pay attention to activities that are outside of our normal businesses and still help when we can. Do not let it interfere with your priorities, but if it is no skin off of your back, then help someone else.