The Tough Stuff
Any time you’re involved in an entrepreneurial effort, there are some challenging days. I mean, days when the panic sets in and you question if what you are doing will ever be viable enough to fulfill your dreams. Days when you realize you have already leaped and though you can’t see below, you trust that there is a soft place to land somewhere, somehow. 
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Say What?
Expressions, colloquialisms, sayings, whatever you call them, they do abound. My Granny used to say, “You can’t get blood from a turnip.” Over the years, I think I have learned what she meant by that. It means when you’re tapped out, you’re tapped out, whether it’s financially or physically, or whatever. After all, turnips don’t yield blood, right? 
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A Masterpiece Takes Time
It reportedly took Leonardo Da Vinci 12 years to finish the painting of the lips on the Mona Lisa. As one who lacks artistic ability as it relates to painting, it’s difficult for me to comprehend what took him so long. I admire people who are skilled in the arts, such as painting, drawing and sculpting. It truly amazes me. It’s not a gift I possess.
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Land of the Living
I received some sobering news recently. Another childhood friend of mine had died. He was 50 years old. I took pause for a while to reflect on some of the times we had shared growing up: Playing baseball, swinging on vines over ravines in the woods, building a tree house, just enjoying the carefree activities of childhood. It also struck me that several of my close childhood friends from when I was 10-12 years old are no longer here. 
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What's the Score?
I’ve coached a lot of kids in soccer over the years. My commitment to my three daughters was if they played, I would coach the team. I spent a lot of time on soccer fields when they were young and had a blast. When I played sports as a kid, the score was always part of the game. 
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Don't Worry - Be Happy

“Here’s a little song I wrote. You might want to sing it note for note. Don’t worry - be happy.”

 You can take it from there! I hope the song is in your head and that you whistle/sing that awesome tune all day long – whatever mode is less unmelodious to your colleagues, family members, or pets.
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What's Up With Your Attitude?

What’s your mindset right now? Right now in this moment as you read this, what’s your disposition? What kind of energy are you radiating? Does the smile on your face match what’s really going on inside of you? Or have you decided to not muster up the strength for a smile and your flat affect or frown tells the people around you everything they need to know about how this day’s interaction with you will go? Are you waiting for a positive external circumstance to come along and bring you some temporary happiness? Why not take charge of your own perspective and determine to have a positive attitude?


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Wide Open
What do you do to cope when circumstances in your life are not going as well as you had hoped? What soothes your discomfort? Retail therapy? Chocolate? A glass (or more) of an adult beverage? Prayer? A long walk by yourself? We all have our “go-tos” when we have struggles... 
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Complaint or Observation?
I do my best to have a complaint-free approach to life. Admittedly, I know I am not 100% successful in that endeavor and I realize that I occasionally complain. However, chronic complaining is the hallmark of a dissatisfied soul. Complaining requires a lot of energy and gets us nowhere. It’s like being on a treadmill grinding out the miles, yet wondering why the scenery never changes...
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Hey Stranger
I guess it can be counterintuitive for us to be open to positive interactions with strangers because it’s drilled into our minds as children – “Don’t talk to strangers.” I’ve embarrassed my children on many occasions because I am not afraid to talk to people I don’t know. Whether I am at a ballgame, or the grocery store, or randomly meeting someone throughout the day, my goal is to deliver a smile and some words of encouragement to a fellow human being. We never know what others are dealing with in their lives, and that quick smile and word of greeting, or encouragement from us can be a difference maker. I love the spiritual reference that tell us to “Be sure to welcome strangers into your home. By doing this, some people have welcomed angels as guest, without even knowing it” (Hebrews 13:1)...
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Dealing With Defeat
Over the years I have heard interviews with prominent coaches in both basketball and football being asked - What sticks with you longer? Is it the joy of winning games or the toughness of the losses? Almost every time, the coach has acknowledged that it has been the agonizing losses that haunt their minds, more than them dwelling on the euphoria of winning. Some of these coaches had won national championships, and yet it was the sting of certain defeats that fueled their competitive fire more so than the wins...
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Customer Recovery
We have all had times when we were let down as customers. Something we ordered online didn’t arrive on time or at all. That steak we spent $30 on was as tough as leather. We waited well past our appointment time before being acknowledged. Whatever it is, the ball has occasionally been dropped and left us feeling unappreciated as a customer. We live in an era where it seems that sometimes the “service is so bad, that if it’s not horrible, we are relieved” (John DiJulius). However, even with our lowered customer service expectations; there are ways that companies can keep us coming back. It’s pretty simple really - when we complain as customers, if they will fix it, we will likely keep coming back...
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I'm Not OK...With Being OK
Who among us enjoys being average at something? We each have different skill sets, interests, strengths and weaknesses. I know I do not excel at every endeavor I pursue. However, anything less than giving my best to what I am attempting is unacceptable to me. Customer service perception is an interesting dynamic. Studies have shown that managers tend to rank their organization’s customer service a level higher than the front-line employees do. If the managers rate their organization’s customer service as above average, the front-line employees will typically rate it as average...
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Time and Opportunity
What do you think when someone says, “I don’t have time”? Time is a constant and is the great equalizer. We may not all have the same amount of talent or money, or any number of things, yet we all have the same amount of time. I am far from being a Greek scholar, yet enjoy doing word studies involving the amazing layers that the Greek language employs that is often missing in the English language. For example, the Greek word chronos has to do with the tick-tock of the clock. It’s easy to see that we get our Anglicized word “chronology” from that word and that it just has to do with time in a linear fashion. There is another word in the Greek language that is transliterated into the English word “time” and it is kairos. This usage has to do with time as “opportunity” and not just the passage of the second, minutes and hours in our lives.
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Perseverance
Those of us who enjoy running for exercise know that it can get ugly sometimes out there on the road. You don’t always feel 100%. Some days you may have sore muscles or joints. You might have a stomach ache or cramp, or any number of physical challenges to run through. Anything can happen out there on the road. In one of the competitive 5K races I ran awhile back, I had finished my race and went back to the finish line to cheer on the other finishers. As I looked back about 200 yards from the finish line, heading towards the finish line was a lady in a wheelchair. This lady appeared to be in her 70’s. Her wheelchair was not a racing wheelchair, but looked like standard issue that you might see in a hospital or nursing home.
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The Easy Button
About ten years ago, national office supply store Staples launched a television advertising campaign with the slogan, “That was easy.” Not long after the ad campaign, the slogan became an actual product and the ubiquitous large red “easy” buttons started making their appearances on the desks of employees around the country. You push the button and a voice says, “That was easy.” Perhaps that is a good psychological reminder that sometimes we make things far more difficult than they need to be. When you think about it, providing first class customer service is easy. Establish a service vision in the organization where nothing less than first class customer service will be accepted. Hire customer service champions. Empower the team to acknowledge that customers are always right, and that our job is to make our customers feel like they are the most valued commodity we have as a company. Sounds easy enough, right?
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How Customers Feel They Are Treated
Two customers can have the same needs and receive the same product or service, yet can have two totally different customer service experiences, based on their perception of how they were treated by the one delivering the service. For example, two patrons of a restaurant can have an identical experience regarding quality of food and timeliness of its delivery. Yet, if only one of them gets a server who is affable and engaging who makes the experience more fun by connecting with the customer, the perception of that patron will likely be more favorable than the other.
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Defining The Day
We all have those days from time to time, when challenges arise and not everything goes our way. It amazes me the number of times I have heard people say, “Well I know this day is going to be terrible because ______________ happened.” Oh really? You’re willing to concede the entire day to negativity because one (or maybe even more than one) thing didn’t go right? That is some scary thinking! None of us own the power to control circumstances. We do have the option of owning our own power to control our response to whatever happens around us...
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Making Amends
Our humanity prevents perfection. We each have our own set of strengths and weaknesses, character attributes and flaws, solid decision making and other times when in retrospect, we realize we could have made better decisions. Since we know we are not impeccable in every facet of our lives, that reality is all the more reason to be as transparent as possible and not live behind a façade. Customer service allows us to celebrate our humanity and realize that we will not always get it right, or make everyone happy...
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How to Be a Great Team Member From A- Z

A-  allow yourself to ask for help when you need it

B-  believe in yourself and your teammates

C-  celebrate your successes as a team

D-  dedicate yourself to being the best you can be...

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Encouraging a Discouraged Team
Maintaining a high level of team morale is one of the biggest challenges that a leader faces. Sometimes leaders get so caught up in their own whirlwind of responsibilities that they get out of touch with what is happening on the team. Team morale is an intangible condition that can be felt when you walk in the office – is the atmosphere in the office strained and tense, or open and energetic? Pay attention when you walk in and you can tell because everything/everybody holds and emits energy. Here’s a simple three step process I suggest when a team is feeling deflated, unappreciated and disconnected....
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Successful People Leave Clues

The only two times I ever received unsolicited advice in the gym about how to have a better workout was from two people who were overweight. I just smiled and continued on with my activity. I had a workout buddy in the gym who was in great shape and an excellent weightlifter. He was the one I sought out for advice on how to advance in my exercise regimen. Whatever it is that you are pursuing, whether a new hobby, athletic interest, business opportunity, etc., seek out those who are doing it and doing it well for input on how to be successful in this endeavor. If I want to learn how to run faster 5K races, I’m not going to ask the couch potato how to do that...

 

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The Weakest Link

We’ve all heard the old adage, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” It’s true in a technical sense regarding an actual chain; however, the phrase is typically used in regard to people. In a company whose goal it is to provide stellar customer service, the proverb is also true. It is incumbent upon leaders to pay close attention to the customer service habits of the team members to insure that the strong stay strong and the weak are not allowed to stay weak. There are three quick principles that leaders can apply when a weak customer service link is identified:

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Can't Get any Worse

I was talking with a friend recently and she was telling me about a work situation and how the onsite leader at her company was leaving the organization. This was a leader who rarely thanked the team for their efforts, led from a position of fear not trust, browbeat her team, rarely smiled, and even in her final staff meeting spoke words of negativity about the team while in the presence of the team.


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The Best Team Wins
Since the key differentiator for competing companies in the same arena is the customer experience, hiring the right people is crucial to your success. You need customer service champions – those who are friendly and talented, with a strong skill set, accompanied by a positive attitude with a solid track record of success. 
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Director of First Impressions
We’ve all heard the saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” While as fallible human beings, I think we should be patient with each other, and maybe not be so quick to dismiss a person whose first impression was not the best - the saying does have some merit to it. It was several years ago that I first saw the title “Director of First Impressions..."

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