Tag Archives: bode

Surviving A Week Without Water

My front yard is being re-landscaped so I can have running water!

My front yard is being re-landscaped so I can have running water!

After more than a week without running water, I appreciate even more the privilege of living in a first world country.  I never expected to be without running water for such a long period, but the unusually low temps in our area have prevented outside repairs.  We’re lucky though, even though our water main is broken, it has just enough pressure to allow us to turn it on for a few minutes each day to “restock” our water supply.

All this time without working faucets has got me to thinking about disasters in much greater detail.  I also have a much better understanding of how much water you HAVE to have each day to get by.

It turns out that the recommended 1 gal per person per day is actually a bare minimum.  We have found that, even if you aren’t taking showers or flushing toilets, you will need closer to 2-3 gallons per person per day.  Add toilets and basic personal hygiene (but still no showers) into the equation and you need more like 5-10 gallons per person.

Wow, what an eye opener.  Think about it, do you even have enough room or containers in your house to store 10 gallons of water per person for one day, let alone a week?  Puts things into perspective doesn’t it?

Of course, not all water is created equal.  The quality of the water coming through our broken pipe in not drinkable, so we’ve had to use a purification system to make sure we don’t create a “secondary emergency” by getting sick.  We’re fortunate to already own a system that will make our water potable, but it certainly isn’t something I would have thought about having in place for this type of situation.

My Red Cross disaster training has been really helpful in coping with this situation; it gave me some basic guidelines to follow and some ideas of how to be creative with our resources.  But nothing short of going through a situation can really make you challenge your underlying assumptions—many you may not even realize you have.

I had never considered how much water it takes to brush my teeth or how to wash my hands one at a time with one hand pouring from the pitcher and the other trying to wash itself. These are only two small things, but there are dozens of small challenges to be overcome without running water, everything from laundry to cooking.  I have always thought I would do OK during a zombie apocalypse, but I have definitely reconsidered some of my bravado after this past week.

While we’ve done great, we’ve also not been 100% without access to water or other resources.  At any time we can get in our car (which has plenty of gas) and drive to the store or go to a friend’s house for water.  We have more than enough food and haven’t lost power or heat, all things that can become scarce or nonexistent for weeks on end during disasters (think Hurricanes Sandy or Katrina).

So my message to all of you who are enjoying a cozy snow day, is to take a few minutes today to consider what you might do if you lost even one of these precious utilities that we take for granted.

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Filed under Disaster, Life Hacks

How to Use an Online Review

With online searching becoming so much of a standard in looking for everything from a new doctor to a plumber or a great restaurant or book, it is important to know how to decipher reviews to ensure you are able to make the very best choices for you and your family.  So whether you check out Google, Amazon or Yelp reviews, ask yourself these questions before making a decision.

  1. Is it relevant?Gold star

Make sure that the review speaks to the issue or needs that you have.  It’s nice to know that a repairman has a great smile, but that doesn’t tell you anything about his repair skills.

  1. Is it specific?

Another issue I’ve encountered is people telling you someone is “really good” but not telling you WHY they think so.  I want to know exactly what service the company performed for you and what the positive (or negative) outcomes were.

  1. Is it dated?

I always read the most recent reviews first.  I’ve found that organizations can change (just like people, imagine that!) so I tend to give more weight to the most recent reviews and will generally not look at anything much over a year old.

  1. Does it include credentials?

I’m looking for information on years in business, training, certifications or excellent end results so that when I pick a company I am confident that they have the resources to do a good job for me.

  1. Is it rational?

Unfortunately, for some reason there are some individuals that will decide to “flame” a company.  I have learned to filter out multiple negative rants that appear to come from the same person or group of people.  If the reviews seem a little too over the top, then I generally try to do some additional research.  A good clue is name calling or profanity.

  1. Is it too good to be true?

Occasionally I will come across a set of reviews that swing wildly from bad to good and back again. That is my clue that the company is having someone write good reviews (usually a family member or employee) to try to cover up the bad ones and push them further down the list.  I consider this  an act of bad faith.  I don’t mind having companies answer the accusations in a bad review and I usually even give them extra credit if their answer is polite and even-handed, but I will completely eliminate reviews that try to bolster a company’s rankings.

Reading reviews is a great way to find your next fabulous pet sitter or lawn care company, just be sure to apply your critical thinking skills to the process so you can have an awesome outcome!

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December 13, 2013 · 2:35 pm

Selling to Women Isn’t About Telling Them What They Want

Many marketers think if they put bling on an item or advertise to the “harried soccer Mom” that they will cut a large swath through the female purchasing demographic.  In this day and age, that’s marketing at your own peril.  Women make up the majority of the consumer purchasers and marketers should look for ways to focus on specific segments and their needs instead of lumping all women into the “Mommy-sphere.”  Some of this marketing trend is the result of the influx of influential Mommy Bloggers, but while they are a legitimate and vocal part of the female demographic, they do not represent the majority of all women. Marketers need to remember that.

Women value relationships.

What do women want?

Quite simply, women value relationships.  They want to be treated like adults with brains.  They prefer to engage in a conversation instead of being lectured.  They like to create relationships with people they do business with and they want to feel like they can recommend the businesses they use to their friends and colleagues.

This is a paradigm shift for many men who are typically more transactional.  A good example of this is frequently seen at business networking events.  It is not unusual to be introduced to a businessman and have him hand you his card within the first 15 seconds of meeting you.  From his perspective he is simply being efficient and courteous.  If he happens to hand out his business card to people who have no interest in his goods or services, he thinks, “maybe they’ll hand it someone else.”

Conversely, you may stand and have a conversation with a businesswoman for 15 minutes before she asks if she can give you her card.  From her perspective, she doesn’t want to hand out her card to someone unless she wants to continue to build a relationship.  She’s being efficient and only handing her card to those with whom she wants to consider doing business.

For many salespeople this is an uncomfortable place to be.  They are trained to meet, greet and ask for the sale, all within 5 minutes.   Taking any longer means you might be missing out on the next sale.

A simple example comes from a client I was meeting with one day.  We were discussing the sales process he used when meeting with women and he said, “And then at the end I overcome all their objections.”  If you are a woman reading that, you just took a mental step backwards.  As a man, you may not have even noticed his faux pas.

Most women are looking for someone who will “answer their questions” not “overcome their objections”. They want to be an equal partner in the conversation, not be subjected to a sales pitch.  They also value sincerity and don’t like to be rushed.

The next time you are at a business networking event, take a few minutes to eavesdrop on some of the conversations going on around you. Listen to both same-sex groups and mixed sex groups talking and note how they behave differently.  And if you really want to market to women, spend some time actively listening to what they are saying before you ever open your mouth.

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Why Marketing to Women Pays Big

Here’s the thing.  Marketing to women isn’t complicated; it’s just different from marketing to men.  You can’t just slap the color pink on something and wait for women to come rushing in to buy it.  You actually have to understand how women want to be treated and then treat them that way.

Since it’s inception marketing has been heavily dominated by male-centric thinking and messaging. That may have been ok into the nineties, but in ensuing decades it has only served to alienate women from many brands.

Why does marketing directly to women matter?

“Women make 85% of all consumer purchases.”

From a purely financial perspective, it makes sense to listen carefully.  Women as a demographic are the largest group of decision makers in our economy.  According to She-conomy.com, women make 85 percent of all consumer purchases and over the next decade they will control two-thirds of consumer wealth in the United States.  If you weren’t paying attention to women before, you should be now!

This isn’t about men versus women; it’s about understanding both sexes in order to better deliver the value they both need.  Clearly if women are making 85 percent of the purchases, they are purchasing for men as well as themselves. That’s a lot of money to leave sitting on any table.

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Filed under Marketing, Women

The World’s Easiest Marketing Tactic-Part II

Six Simple Steps to Writing Perfect Thank You Notes

Like many things in life, we’ve become adept at creating excuses for not doing things.  With Thank You notes, it’s been elevated to an art form. Even though they are a proven marketing tool, I have heard everything from, “I don’t know what to write” to “I don’t have time.” Blame it on our Mothers for forcing us to write painful notes to relatives or on our proclivity to text instead of talk, whatever the case, there is no denying the effectiveness of a great Thank You note.

Here are Six Simple Steps to writing the perfect Thank You note every time:

Just do it! Writing thank you notes can take minutes but be worth thousands of dollars in marketing good will.

  1. Start with the correct spelling of a person’s first name.  Sounds simple, but no matter how good your message is, after a misspelled name it won’t be heard.
  2. State the occasion for which you are writing the note—“It was a pleasure meeting you at the Chamber mixer.” Or “I was in your store last week shopping for a gift.”
  3. Then state the reason for which you are writing the note—“I appreciated the information you shared with me.” Or perhaps “I was pleased to hear your feedback on my ideas.”
  4. Actually say “Thank you”, “I can’t thank you enough.” Or maybe “Thank you so much.”
  5. End with an appropriate closing. I prefer “Sincerely” but “Best regards” and “Respectfully yours” are also pleasant ways to end a note. I can’t think of a business situation where the closing “Love” is appropriate, save that for your family.
  6. If you are a close or long-time business associate of your thankee, sign just your first name and do not enclose a business card (but do make sure your full name is on the return address section of the envelope). If you are sending a note to a new acquaintance or contact, sign your full name and include a business card to help jog their memory.

Following these simple steps will help you quickly craft the perfect Thank You note every time and take some of the stress out of coming up with the right thing to say. Notes don’t have to be long, just three sentences can do the trick, but they do need to be heartfelt and sincere.  If you need extra motivation to begin writing Thank You notes, read last week’s Reasons to Write and get started today, your results will be worth it!


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The World’s Easiest Marketing Tactic-Part I

Reasons to Write

We know we should write them, we love getting them and they cost next to nothing, so why don’t more of us send out Thank You notes? I have heard everything from, “I don’t know what to write” to “My handwriting isn’t legible.”  But this simple little note could be the key to your referral success and be worth thousands of dollars a year, if not a month. Why would you leave that kind of money on the table?

Thank you notes come in all shapes and sizes. What matters is what you write on the inside.

Here are a few reasons I use Thank You notes:

  • Clients keep Thank You notes for years, often prominently displaying them on their desk or bulletin board—can you be any more top-of-mind than that?
  • For the cost of postage, a note card and five minutes of time I can cement a referral relationship that will generate income for months or years—referral partners know that I will treat their referrals with the same care and attention I give them.
  • Current customers who pay in a timely manner also receive thank you notes—this encourages them to pay quickly and improves our company’s cash flow.

If these reasons have motivated you to begin writing Thank You notes, congratulations!  Schedule an hour once a week and start capturing some of that money that’s been sitting on the table.  For those who need a little extra help getting started, stay tuned for next week’s Six Simple Steps to Writing Perfect Thank You Notes.

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Investing in Yourself for a Better Bottom Line

I often hear colleagues lament that they can’t spare the time to attend training or learning event.  These same business people will then spend three hours on the phone cold calling prospects instead of three hours at a conference.  Most people who participate in networking groups do so because they understand that there is a better way to do business, through word-of-mouth referrals.  If you are one of them, congratulations, you are among the top 20%!

Participating in weekly networking meetings is not enough. Growth requires commitment and dedication to you, your business associates and your network.  Let’s examine what attention to your own learning and training can yield for you and your referral partners:

  • New Referral Sources &Partners—When you participate in workshops you come into contact with people you might not ordinarily meet.
  • New Customers—You get to exchange ideas and find like-minded individuals who will be more inclined to do business with you.
  • New Energy—Your enthusiasm and excitement increase as you learn new things and that radiates into everything you do.
  • New Resources—Even one new piece of information or knowledge—from the conference, the attendees or even the vendors—can save you hours of work.
  • New Ideas—Last but not least, the next time you drive home from a training opportunity take that time to brainstorm a couple of ideas of how you will be able to apply what you have learned that day, then write them down.

The key to working smarter instead of harder is regularly seeking out new ideas, people and systems that can save you time and effort.  Benjamin Franklin said it best, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

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Filed under BNI, Life Hacks