Thursday, February 24, 2011

Take some time to think!

I recently read the book "The Way We are Working, Isn't Working! by Tony Schwartz and it reconfirmed my whole theory about living without balance and loving it. Although Tony goes into much more detail about health, exercise and diet, he does say that the most productive people work in high energy bursts of time for shorter periods and then step away to think, relax and re-charge.

Every time I am speaking to sales professionals and their leaders I always emphasize how critical it is to jump on the phone for one hour of prospecting and then off again to return calls, check email and even take a quick walk outside to get a breath of fresh air. It is not about locking yourself in a room and pounding out hours of prospecting calls.

This also relates to the theory "work hard, play hard." I have often been critized that I am a work alcoholic because of my tough travel schedule. Again, I would argue that I have more balance in my life than the executives that are sitting in their offices for hours upon hours getting home after their family has had dinner and there is no time left except to fall asleep and start all over again.

My travel schedule has allowed me to spend more time with my family. Even when my daughter was young I took her out of school and allowed her to travel for a week with me. She had my full attention and we saw the world together. Now that she is out of college and working for me, she still gets to spend time on the road with me. My husband, Lefty has been traveling with me extensively for many years, thus giving us more time to talk about both work and our lives.

Even the most successful musicians, artists, and athletes practice in short bursts of time, giving them the ability to keep going and practice more than the ones who take hours upon hours of practice but don't step away to clear their minds and re-energize.

I am currently spending a week in Breckenridge skiing and clearing my mind. I do this every February for that same reason. The rush of the holidays are over, January is always a busy kick off month with a lot of travel and prep meetings for the year. It can seem overwhelming unless you take time to step out of the race and focus on what is important and what isn't.

I challenge you to step out of the race for at least a few hours - put that Blackberry or iPhone down and really think - think about your goals, what is important to you that you have ignored, your diet, your health and your future.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sine Metu ~ Without Fear!

The history of John Jameson and Irish whiskey is a great story as it relates to tough times today! If you have never traveled to Dublin that is ok, as I will take you on a journey of what it takes to succeed during tough times and what you can learn from this historic entrepreneur. So relax with a shot of Jameson (neat –no ice or mix) and relate my thoughts to the future of your business.
October 5, 1740 on a bright sunny day, a legend was born and the history of whiskey making began. Many people think that John was born in Ireland (after all it is Irish Whiskey), but he was born in Scotland and became more Irish than the locals in his quest to make the best whiskey in the world.
Although Jack Daniels is the most sold whiskey in the world, Jameson Irish whiskey is by far some of the best whiskey in the world.
Sine Metu – Without Fear is the family motto and the crest of John Jameson Irish Whiskey. His bravery of battling pirates on the high seas as he sailed to Ireland in search of his quest to make his mark on Irish Whiskey was a test of strength. Remember the Irish already had become known as the leaders in Whiskey making before John Jameson ever was heard of. Then he comes with a vision to make it better – Sine Metu!
Just like business today, the most important part of building and leading a successful business is about quality, best ingredients, best people and commitment. He worked with farmers to grow the finest barley and bought the finest wood barrels to mature his whiskey. He was competing with Guinness who also was buying up all the barley, so John gave farmers the best seeds to grow the finest barley for him and purchased it in advance to beat Guinness to the harvest so he wouldn’t lose out to the big beer maker.
Keep in mind that he went against the norm, fought the average and challenged status quo ~ not very popular with the competition. – Sine Metu!
Again, if you are not familiar with whiskey making, it is fun to know that in the late 18th century, whiskey was distilled twice like it was in Scotland. That is ok, if you are fine with just a double distilled whiskey, but John Jameson was not happy with that. He decided to go for a third distillation, as he found it made the whiskey that much smoother. He even kept trying, four and five times but could never perfect the taste past 3 times.
He created all this in a single distillery on Bow Street in Dublin. Stored all the barley, triple distilled and hosted all the best parties in Dublin at the distillery. Today, even in Cork The Irish Distillers Group (Jameson joined forces with rivals Powers to distill the best whiskey in the world) work this same way. Although there is much more technology, much of how the original whiskey was made is still the foundation of today’s whiskey making is the same.
It was great to work for John Jameson. He paid the best wage for the best talent, gave them great working conditions and even sat down for a nice drink of whiskey at the end of the day with the employees. If you think about our world today, we have to watch reality television about under cover bosses, read books about employee engagement and if you treat your employees right, they will treat your customers and business better. John Jameson was way ahead of his time. I am a firm believer that we can learn so much from history on how to create our future. To this day you will notice on a bottle of Jameson next to John Jameson’s signature 2 men balancing a barrel, just another tribute to his employees, symbolizing the passionate and committed ladies and gentlemen that made Jameson Whiskey the best! The men that worked on the barrels were called Coopers and each of them were given nicknames that have gone down in history. It is said that John Jameson’s nickname was “Glorious John” because he threw such great parties that when he would walk into the room, he would ask his guests how they were enjoying their evening and the response was always “Glorious John Glorious!”
My visit to the Brazen Head in Dublin (the oldest pub in Dublin) gave me another look at how smart John was. He would take his whiskey to the Brazen Head and ask customers to try it (market research of yesterday). He would get feedback and continued to perfect his whiskey – everyone would know to ask for a “jimmie” because it was Irish and the best.
Success does not come easily, and John and his sons kept the tradition of quality, commitment and loyalty alive just as “Glorious John Jameson” envisioned his future.
What are you doing to drive success in your business? How do you engage with your employees and customers? Yes, it has been a tough 18 months, but history has shown us that if you work hard (really work), strive to be the best and take a risk – you will not only survive but thrive ~ – Sine Metu!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A True Gem of The South - Van Michael Salons

It all started 27 years ago with 2 brothers in Georgia trying to make it out in the big city. Through hard work, perseverance, and a dynamic goal setting ability, Van & Michael successfully opened their first hair salon with only 7 chairs and now, have made a name for themselves – one that will go down in history. With locations from Tokyo to Miami, they have a simple philosophy – no matter how much you pay for a service there, VMS gives their clients a $500 experience. They value customer service and want every single one of their employees to take ownership of the salon. Their training is a key part of the company and investing in your best is a strong mentality of theirs. Being a client of Master Connection Associates, we take pride in knowing they strive on creating such a valuable experience. These salons are of a different caliber. World class salons should equal world class service, and that is what they strive for. Like Michael has always said, “To keep the doors open, we would cater to the client.” This hasn’t changed. Maybe it was the 70’s flick, ‘Shampoo’ that motivated Van to set a goal and drive for his dream; whatever is was, I can say that they’re doing something right!

i call heathrow my second home!

Life on the road is not too bad at Heathrow when you get bacon rolls in the BA Lounge! MMMMM

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Functional" Design

As much as I travel, I see a wide variety of design in hotels, restaurants – you name it. I think the word innovation has been taken to another level. Believe me, I love new & cool design in the right kind of hotel, with vibrant colors and the latest gadgets – but sometimes having the neon yellow blinding you when you wake up for your business meeting is just not that appealing. Design for your customer. Everyone is trying to be “cool” today and when thinking about these shops, websites, hotels & restaurants, the word “cool” or innovative, still needs to be functional. Bottom line. I can’t tell you how many times I go into a hotel, and I take my cosmetic bag out and there isn’t even a ledge for you to put it on. It is so sleek with touch screens and a TV built in the mirror, but no place to lay your mascara or cologne. Another thing – hey, I’m 5 feet tall, and when the sink juts out a good 3 ½ feet, I can’t even lean that far into the mirror to my put my makeup, NOT functional. So the next time you are deciding on the new, cool, and innovative design for whatever the case may be, remember if the lighting in the room is too dim, your customers won’t know whether they’re dressed for the disco or a board meeting…