Archive for the ‘Add new tag’ Tag

August moon

Tomorrow’s full moon will have an eclipse.  The August moon is fat with the harvest and the promise of autumn’s decay.  Pay it your full respects, lest its whispers escape you and you wind up clueless.

Speak out!

It’s fairly common for me to make promises and then find myself shocked that I so boldly put myself out there. Committing, yesterday, to being more entertaining in this blog was a rash move. I’m a normal person, with my share of friends. They see me as a thoughtful and educated individual, but hardly an entertaining one. Back in another life, I was a member of an improvisational theater company, and they put me on the dark side of the footlights because that’s where those who lack the funny gene belong.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to laugh. Humor is a saving grace of awesome magnitude. It’s just that fabricating the amusing story or telling the well-balanced joke is not my forte. It seems to me (from my admittedly biased outlook) that the reason I have any friends, the reason I can attract and keep the loyalty of good people is that I love to ask questions. And people love to answer them.

We get so little opportunity to tell our stories. Oh yes, there are millions of blogs manifesting the daily quirks of individual lives; but how often does anyone look us in the eye and ask about our experiences, or our opinions, beliefs, fears, loves? 99.9% of the time, though we may ache to speak, society prefers that we cork it. We have little interest in the lives of others, unless we can profit from such knowledge. A person who unceasingly talks about himself is universally disliked. And people who are genuinely interested in your individual viewpoint, for its own sake, are just about non-existent.

But the reward in asking questions, for me, is allowing that experience of speaking their lives to the people with whom I come in contact. The relief they feel is palpable, and I assure you it is an immeasurable joy to provide the opportunity. Human nature very badly needs to express, and this – I believe – is THE major challenge of our time. After the de-humanization of industrialism, healing lies in finding ways to know and express our individual truth; and figuring out how to live peaceably on a globe heavily populated with others who have as much right as we to this healing.

Oh brother, here I go getting all deep and serious again. Let it rest. Only let me ask you a question, dear Reader (I think there’s one or two of you out there). This blog generally addresses small business concerns, leadership issues, and how to use creativity in practical ways to bring you better success in life. I would like to know: In what ways are you creative on a daily basis? (This means things you practice all the time, not your Sunday painting or the ad you designed last week.) It’s my interest to give real solutions to real problems, so I can definitely use your help here. Subsequent posts will report your responses, and celebrate and enlarge them.

Old lettuce

Do you know what this picture is showing?  It’s lettuce, that staple of our nutrition, after it has gone to seed.  No good to munch on anymore, but isn’t it lovely nonetheless?  So rich and curly.  Because of recent experiences, it puts me in mind of the typically long life we Americans enjoy these days.  We’re outliving our usefulness, much like the greenery shown here, but we humans scarcely know how to deal with it.

My hope is that we can learn to live and work in such a way that when we’re no longer active, when our skills are no longer useful and we bolt heavenwards like the lettuce, then our true beauty will still shine, even more glorious for its mysterious uselessness, its divine impracticality.

Specificity in business

There’s an old fashioned notion still strongly prevalent in small business circles, one that works against success in today’s economy. But people cling to it like a right and priviledge of which they’re proud. And the issue relates directly to all my previous blather about specificity.

Newly established as a small business, and needing to make my presence and services known, I joined a couple business networking/referral groups. It’s been useful and fun so far, and I’m happy to contribute. But there’s a dyed-in-the-wool rule these networking groups abide by that deeply turns me off: no two businesses of the same type can be members simultaneously. So the group has one realtor, for example, and all others in town are barred. The thinking is that in referring business to one another, there will be no conflicts.

It used to be that one realtor in town could cover the needs, and if another set up practice, that meant dividing the spoils. But any aware person nowadays knows no one organization can answer the needs of our mushrooming population. There is plenty of room for the energies and innovations of all of us, and the more we open up channels of communications, the better off we all are.

A small business distinguishes itself through specificity. An individual business becomes successful through careful identification and cultivation of individual strengths, always unique, always useful in some way, to some people. Realtor A is not inherently better than Realtor B. If they have both precisely identified and defined the specifics of their services, they’ll each find more-than-sufficient markets. And in the meantime, they can help one another to self-define, if only they’ll open up communications!

I would love it if other virtual assistants were in my networking groups. I prefer to see other people in my field as friends, not competitors. In a global economy, competition retards growth, while cooperation makes clear the specific offerings of each.

So far, however, I see no cracks in their armor, and raising this issue with the groups to which I belong is not likely to happen anytime soon. The pride and paranoia are impenetrable! But I’ll chip away behind the scenes, perhaps, because change is inevitable eventually.

Back at ya, Naomi

Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz tossed out a challenge last week to her readers. She generally addresses small businesses (IttyBiz, get it?) in her posts, and Naomi’s humor and candor make her an instantly lovable daily read. Though often gut-bustingly funny, she also delivers great insights into issues and resources for the small biz scene.

This particular post comments on how easy it is to chat merrily along in your blog, only to realize many of your readers don’t realize what you do for a living. So Naomi listed the following ‘interview’ questions, suggesting we all post clarification. Last Wednesday was National Administrative Professionals Day, so I figure I’ll join the chorus. Here are your queries, Naomi, and thanks for asking!

What’s your game? What do you do?
I help businesses and professionals stay on top of communications and administrative tasks, thereby increasing their time available for planning and growth.

Why do you do it? Do you love it, or do you just have one of those creepy knacks?
I love working hard and turning out a quality product; I love teamwork with enthusiastic people; I love variety and being truly helpful to many people. Mostly, though, I do it because of a creepy knack, which is writing the English language, a fast fading skill.

Who are your customers? What kind of people would need or want what you offer?
Small businesses, web businesses, real estate agents, lawyers, executives, authors, publishers, anyone who’s not too deft with words and needs something written well.

What’s your marketing USP? Why should I buy from you instead of the other losers?
Sigh. Gotta go back to that creepy knack. I’m a writing machine. Input your keywords, and I’ll turn out commanding text. May as well capitalize on it while I can, before it goes completely out of style. Even if you just need me for database work, you’ll appreciate my clear and thorough communications.

What’s next for you? What’s the big plan?
Ummmm. Find some clients? Get better at blogging! Add php programming to services list …