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Integrity & Awareness by Paul Burnstein

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!