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Integrity & Awareness by Paul Burnstein

Friday, March 30, 2007

Reconnecting with the Past

Today has been a great day for reconnecting with people from my past. It is great to catch up with people (past business associates or friends) and learn what is presently going on with them. I also have found it beneficial to myself to share what I am up to; I pay attention to how I explain my life and get to hear how others respond to it. All in all it has been fun and encouraging to hear from others regardless of whether we are discussing successes or failures. I recognized a long time ago that I learn from every experience I am in; whether good or bad, I learn what works and what doesn't.

Today's awareness is to remember people from your past and try to catch up once in a while and see where their lives' have taken them. Sometimes the timing is perfect and you may both have needed what the other has to offer.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Linking Up with LinkedIn

If you haven't already, I recommend checking out and joining LinkedIn. It is sort of like Myspace for adults. You can see my LinkedIn profile here or click the button under my profile on this page that says, "View my profile on LinkedIn." You can essentially put an online biography and resume on your profile and then connect to others. People can give recommendations on your profile as well. It is a great way to stay in touch and share your current information with many people at once.

I have been a member for a while, but I only recently have been using it to connect with others. I read a couple of posts on Guy Kawasaki's blog on using LinkedIn and that pushed me to put some more time in with it. You can read the posts that I mention: Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn and LinkedIn Extreme Profile Makeover.

Once you have connections, if you do a search for a specific person or company, you will see how closely you are connected through your own contacts. You will be surprised how many connections you have that are already connected with someone you are looking to meet. The site shows how many degrees away you are, but many that I have seen are within 3 degrees: I am connected to someone who is connected to someone else who is connected directly to the person I am looking for. Make sense?

For me it has been great to connect with college friends, former coworkers and associates.

I look forward to getting some invitations to connect from some of my readers and I will share my thoughts on the system as I have used it more.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

When You Really Want to be Heard

Quick raise of hands, how many of you out there use a headset for your office phone? I am glad to see that some of you do.

Did you realize that only 7% of communication is verbal? 93% is non-verbal; 38% is tone and 55% is body language including facial expressions.

When we speak on the phone, we are obviously verbal and intonation is accounted for, but 55% of our communication is not present! Now, when you use a headset with your business phone and stand up (maybe walk around a bit), some of your body language comes across in the way you speak. Give it a try. Use your hands when you speak, act the way you would if you were standing directly in front of the person. If you do that, your message will be understood much more clearly and people will feel your emotion and excitement (or lack thereof) in the conversation.

The awareness for today is to pay attention to how you speak to people in person and then notice any differences when you are on the phone. Please comment and let me know what you found (if you do not want to comment on the blog, you can send me a personal note through the "Contact Paul" link under my picture).

Monday, March 26, 2007

Choices in Business

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
- Peter F. Drucker

I know a lot of people that are still new in their businesses. Sometimes it is hard to see them struggle. Other times it is great to see them succeed. The best part is that they are following their dreams (hopefully) and trying to make it happen for themselves. Sometimes the difference between success and failure is a simple choice that must be made. Sometimes it is the wrong choice. One can fail courageously as well as succeed, but one must take that chance. If one sits on a choice and does not make a decision, but rather lets the world work it out for them, there is a much greater chance of failure than if one makes a choice, right or wrong, but follows through with his actions and is not simply along for the ride.

I commend those of you who have the courage to make a decision and lead your own businesses! ~Paul

Connecting to Other Bloggers

While working on my own blog, I have come across others who are also trying to build up their own readership base and help other bloggers in the process. When I can, I am happy to help. Ja Kel Daily Dot Com eventually wants to make money and is offering to link to your blog if you review his blog.

I checked out his site and definitely enjoyed the read. On his site he not only discusses tips for building a better blog, but he also mixes in personal experiences and pictures. He even has a fun post on Kissing Seduction!

All in all, Ja Kel Daily Dot Com is a informative, fun read that illustrates how a blogger can integrate his own life seamlessly into his blog.

More from me soon. ~Paul

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Contact Paul

Friday, March 23, 2007

Working to Live

I just had a networking lunch with a friend and we were discussing a concept that an early employer of mine had taught me: "One should work to live and not the other way around."

I know many workaholics. I also understand that there are times in our lives and careers when we need to focus on our work. I however do not want to live to work, but rather the other way around.

I believe it is important to create boundaries around our work. For most of us, the reason we work is to provide the lifestyle we desire; children, vacations, dining out, houses, cars, financial freedom, education, etc. I am not implying that most people work hard simply for material possessions, but many people do. I am not here to judge why one works, only to raise awareness to the fact that it is important to remember that our careers are not our lives.

Remember to take time for yourself, then take time for your family, friends, etc. Be aware of why you are working so hard and remember to enjoy your life! Have a great weekend and take some time for yourself!


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Make Money Online

Today's blog is a bit different as I am following a promotion to get myself linked with a top blogger. John Chow is one of "those bloggers" you hear about who actually makes a living by blogging. John Chow dot Com is a blog that helps you make money online. He is offering to link to your blog if you review his blog. That being said, I am reviewing his blog.

John Chow dot Com is a blog about, well, blogging. He provides tips, tricks and resources to help others improve their blogs and in doing so has a readership of 3870 registered users; this does not include those who simply go to his site to read it. His ranking at Technorati, a blog ranking and tracking service, is 101 (my blog happens to be around 1.3 million! In all fairness to my blog's feelings, there are 72.1 million blogs being tracked by Technorati.) and as of today he has 62,953 links from 3,897 blogs!

While some of his posts may be a bit too long, he provides useful, practical information including direct links and step-by-step guides to help those of us who are learning about blogging as we go. There are a lot of advertisements on his site, but they do not distract from the content and, in my opinion, make it appear more professional. It is worth checking out. I will post a new blog with original material soon, but please check out John Chow dot Com.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Customer Service Handled the Right Way

I was recently at the movies seeing 300. The movie was much better than I expected it to be, but that is not the point of my story. During a scene that appeared to be one of the last in the movie, the screen went black, lights came on and background music filled the theater. Everyone sat for a moment and as nothing happened, people began to leave.

I decided to give it a few minutes and during that time came up with my plan of action:

1. If the movie did not resume, I would speak with the manager and request a refund for our tickets since we were not shown the entire movie.

2. If the movie did resume, I would still speak with the manager, but ask for tickets for a future show since we had to sit and wait for the screen.

Management came into the theater and told us they were working on getting the movie back up; the film had twisted in the projector. We ended up waiting somewhere around fifteen minutes, but we got to see the end of the film; there was actually about fifteen minutes left in the film, which was more than expected.

I was now considering my option 2 above, but before the movie had ended, a staff person came around and personally gave each patron a coupon for free admission in the future. I didn't even have to ask ,they handled it exactly as I had hoped. The fact that they came around and gave out the coupons before being asked was great customer service. The group I was with was all very happy to come back another time and visit the same theater.

Just an example of good customer service. It is often better to go that extra mile before being asked, rather than after.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Networking 101 Basics

I read a great post from an associate of mine, Carole, at Tips from the Biz World of Alliance Advisors, Inc. called "Why Do We Network?" I got Carole's permission to reprint it so that I could share it with you. Enjoy!

"Why Do We Network?"

I'm beginning to feel like everyday is a constant motion of eating out, whether it be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or meeting for committee discussions of a group I belong, collecting monies for fundraisers I committed to, etc. I attend just about any networking function or event I believe will benefit myself or my business. Why do I do this? Because networking and referrals are the source of livelihood in my business. The more people start to recognize me and we have built a relationship, the more they have confidence in me being able to help their businesses.

I am not the best networker in the world and am constantly working on this but I would like to share some tips on effective networking:

1. Always have a business card. I attended a luncheon yesterday and a young lady was new to venue (as I was) and when it came time to exchange cards she didn't have any. So she writes it on a slip of paper (but she had to ask for my pen because she didn't have one of those either!).

2. Practice your elevator speech! I am working on all of my marketing techniques frequently so I am constantly updating my elevator speech or changing it. Sometimes I get mixed up due to this and not enough practice. Practice, practice, practice!

3. Pay close attention to whom you are speaking. Show an interest. Ask resourceful questions to find out if they are a possible client (find out what they do).

4. Proper attire. I have seen so many new people show up at networking events totally unprepared or unprofessional looking. First impressions are very important!

5. First impressions. Be careful not to over rate yourself when speaking with people. Your credibility is on line here and if you become known for talking about yourself too much, or you think you know everything, etc., it is hard to change the initial impression.

6. Be aware when the conversation is dwindling and excuse yourself and move on to someone else. Do not take up too much of any one's time. They are there for the same purpose as you, to meet people.

7. Do not be afraid to attend alone. When I first ventured out, it was very hard for me because I was not used to attending functions alone. Once you get through the door, you will find out you are not the only person. Step out, be bold, and meet new people.

8. Follow up after the event. If you made a connection at an event, follow up with a note letting them know you enjoyed meeting them. Personal touch means so much more and you will have become unforgettable in that persons mind.

I hope some of these tips help you in your search for your next client or you next sale. I am on an every day learning curve, so perhaps in the future I will add more tips about networking. You never know who you may meet or what may happen at a networking event.

I'd better go get ready for my Chamber luncheon. . . . . . .

Alliance Advisors, Inc.

I am back on the road, but I will check back with you in a couple of days. ~Paul

Friday, March 16, 2007

Don't Force the Issue

So I really wanted to blog today. It has been a couple of days since my last post and I wanted to add fresh content for you faithful readers. The problem is that I can't concentrate or focus on anything to write today. It is a very frustrating feeling. I guess it is writer's block (sounds a bit silly to call it that for a short blog).

My awareness for today is to try and recognize when you are forcing something. If you, or your body, are quite aware that you are trying to force an issue, whether it be writing, returning a specific call, eating or even exercising, maybe you should respect your natural intuition and take a step back. Please do not misunderstand me; I am not advocating procrastination or avoidance. You have to be the one to check yourself and see if you are really avoiding something or just need some time away from it.

I know myself (most of the time) and I know that I will have other topics to write about in the future, but I guess today I have other work I need to do and my blog is just not where I consciously or subconsciously want to be putting my energy. No offense meant to you readers out there.

Listen to your body and mind and respect them. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Middle of Nowhere Kansas

I am currently traveling (a bit for business, a bit for pleasure) and we are doing it as a road trip. Last night, shortly after eleven, we decided it was time to stop for the evening. We stopped in a small town in Kansas, looked at our choices of two hotels and went to the name we recognized. The lady working the front desk immediately shared that she was new there and didn't even live in the town we were in. She then recommended that we drive another thirty miles to a bigger town that has better hotels and better prices. We thanked her profusely and quickly left her hotel.

Perhaps she didn't want to deal with checking us in, but the her warmth definitely made me feel as though she was simply helping us to be nice. I found that incredibly refreshing!

We drove another thirty miles and in no time we were at a much nicer hotel for a better price. It is such a nice feeling when you meet someone who genuinely wants to help you.

Think about it and when you can, help family, friends and even strangers.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Night Not Out at the Theater

This weekend I had planned to see a musical at the Dairy Center for the Arts here in Boulder. A friend of mine had written it and also starred in it. Saturday was closing night and the group I was with was excited to see it. My buddy had bought the tickets online a few weeks earlier and we met up for dinner before the show.

When we arrived at the theater, there was a sign saying the show was sold out. Bummer, but luckily we had purchased tickets in advance. My buddy went to will call to pick up the tickets, but they had no record of his purchase. The show was sold out and since we had no proof of purchase, we were out of luck. The box office staff was not trying very hard to help us either.

People may think I plan too much when I print out receipts, but if we had a copy of the confirmation for the tickets, we would have gotten in before the wait list folks. I would print out one extra sheet of paper that may get wasted and recycled because it is not needed rather than miss a last chance to see a show or whatever else I may have purchased in advance.

The awareness for today is to keep your backup documentation for proof of purchases. You may never know when you need it.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Customer Servi--Huh? What?

So CompUSA is closing over half of its 225 stores throughout the US. To see a list of the stores, click here. I am more surprised that they have lasted as long as they have.

When it comes to technology, a major reason to purchase at a brick and mortar store rather than over the Internet is the customer service and knowledge that comes from the employees. On a recent trip to CompUSA, I saw a great deal on a CD/DVD storage case in one of their bargain bins. It appeared to be a great price and I didn't look into it any further. As I was checking out, I asked the employee if the case I was purchasing was the best priced one. He looked at me as though he couldn't care less and said, "I don't know." He didn't offer to check for me, he didn't see if someone else knew, he just didn't know and didn't care.

For the most part, when I go into one of their stores, I work with the business salespeople who are generally quite knowledgeable and helpful. But when they are not around, I notice all of the other employees standing around and talking to each other, too busy to help a customer. When I "bug" them and directly ask for help, the responses I often get are, "I think" or "I am pretty sure." Their unwillingness to find me the answers makes me not want to take any of my business to CompUSA.

I feel that, "I don't know" is an acceptable answer, but only when coupled with, "but I will find out for you." Making that extra effort makes a real difference in providing good customer service. It shows that you are willing to put in the time to really help someone. Please, please think about how you treat your customers, clients, patients, etc. If you can help more than you currently are, it will help you in the long run to be the one who goes the extra mile for those you are working with.

Have great weekend!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

NBC Comedy as a Great Example

The other night, on my return from Los Angeles, I watched an episode of The Office. I very much enjoy the show even though it is sometimes painful to watch due to the cluelessness of some of the characters.

The specific episode was an old one that my DVR had recorded. One branch of the fictional paper company, Dundler Mifflin, was being closed. Part of the closing was to involve a merger of two branches.

The manager who was going to absorb some of the staff from the closing branch into his own branch was to receive a salary increase for his additional responsibilities and assistance during the restructuring. Surprisingly, he used his impending position as leverage to get a better offer from a competitor, real-life Staples. The corporate manager was furious with him for doing this as she stated the entire plan was specifically centered around him and his branch absorbing the other branch.

Even other characters in the show expressed how little integrity the manager had in order to jump ship as the company was ready to invest in him based on his word that he would be there for the company. I understand the need to have more responsibility or make more money, but to do it behind the backs of those who are investing in you shows a lack of integrity.

Think about your actions and what they say about you. And, if you get a chance, watch The Office.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Enticing Lenders

I have been communicating with an associate who is looking for funding for a pre-revenue start-up. The business sounds very interesting and they have some great people assembled.

Being pre-revenue, the revenue on their financial statements (which I have not seen) is all estimates. They do not have any assets. The principals will not provide personal guarantees or any personal financial information.

They would like lenders to loan them money, but based on what?

From everything I have seen, they need equity investors who are interested in their product to bring in the substantial sum they are looking for.

Obviously not all of my readers are looking for debt financing (if you are, let me know), but realize that if you are, you have to be able to offer some form of security for a lender: assets, including real estate, the existing business track record, personal guarantees, etc. The lenders need to see that they are not the only ones taking on any risk. Now if you are looking for equity investors, it is a different story. They may invest more in the people and the concept of a pre-revenue venture, but even along those lines, there are no guarantees.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Late Night Food Service

I am still in Los Angeles. Last night I was at a symphonic band concert and enjoyed a fun performance. Afterwards, we decided to grab a bite to eat, but it was already after ten. We went to a local restaurant that was still open. There was a very large table set up for fourteen in the center of the restaurant; there were also at least three empty tables. The hostess assured us that there was room, but we would have to wait until they could clear the other tables and already seat the large group. What we couldn't understand was why the staff couldn't do both at the same time. There was plenty of staff available to get us seated and the other party. After a few minutes we decided it was a better idea to leave since it was obvious to us that our orders would go into the kitchen after the big group and it was not a large kitchen.

After trying to paint that picture for you, my point is that customer service cannot be taken for granted. Obviously the large group was going to bring in more money than our table for three, but does that mean we should not have been catered to as well? Most definitely not. The management of the restaurant should treat all customers with importance and they very easily could have made our experience more pleasant by simply acknowledging us.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, March 2, 2007

People in Airports

I am currently in Los Angeles; I flew in yesterday for some business and pleasure. I love to travel. There is something exciting about being in different cities or countries. I find it very interesting to observe others in this process as well; parents travelling with small children, elders, college age kids, business people and more.

It is funny to see how unconscious many people are. Directly after getting off of my plane, a family stopped, blocking the entire walkway simply to tie their shoes. They didn't care that the rest of the plane was getting off behind them. They could have moved to the side or waited another ten feet for the pathway to open up, but in their world, that was the right spot to stop.

Think about the last time you were on a flight. How did people act waiting to check in, through security, waiting to board, boarding, putting on carry-on luggage, getting in their seats, sharing armrests, reclining seats, etc.? How did you act?

I find that I often stand my ground on the armrest situation. I know it is silly, but I need the space. I will, however, happily share the armrest and compromise with one elbow in front or behind the other person's elbow.

Not very business related today, but hey, that is what was on my mind. Back to my day. Have a great weekend!