Re-Gifting : Just Do It

We all tend to go overboard at the holidays. Christmas brings out this need to impress and surpass the Joneses’. Most people seem to covet all the newest and snazziest stuff, often doing irreparable harm to their wallets.

What did we do in days of yore when necessity over-ruled glitzy? In the first half of the 20th century, gifts were homemade and from the heart. Often they were more practical than anything else. The jars of fruit, vegetables, and preserves from the basement became special gifts for special people. Help with building a barn or fixing a fence were greatly appreciated and not reserved for a holiday. In the cities more people did shop, but they tended toward the useful; the dreaded slippers, a scarf or new gloves were anticipated and prized. We had not yet been bombarded with technology so the big ticket items may have been a trip or a special piece of furniture, original artwork or photographs were treasured.

Maybe you and I should consider going back to those old ways. People really like getting gift that are homemade. Brainless gifts that don’t really match the recipient end up being re-gifted or thrown in the back of the closet.

Speaking of re-gifting; just do it.  It takes a lot of thought to match your gift to your friend.  Something that you can’t use may be just the thing your friend wants; if you have taken the time to really match the gift and the beneficiary. Shopping at thrift stores is also a good thing. It will present the opportunity to find that “something special”.  Flea markets and garage or tag sales may also yield unbelievable treasures.

All this boils down to being mindful when choosing your holiday, or other special occasion, gifts. Dollar signs should not be your guide; think hard about what makes your gift distinctive and how will it make your friend feel.  If you choose the most appropriate gift that matches your friend’s needs or wants they will be truly pleased and you will be warm and fuzzy knowing you have done a very good thing.

Where Do I Start?

Do you find yourself stuck because your “in basket” is overflowing and you don’t know where to start?  You can control this chaos with a little bit of organization.  A small investment in time it takes to create a system to get organized will help you plan to get to get everything done with less stress.Cluttered computer

There are as many systems available as there are people who need organizing. Different people have different styles of organization.  The challenge is to find one that works for you.  The first place to start is with a list.  List all of your projects, their time requirements, and date due.  Add new ones as they come in and cross off those that are finished.  Knowing what needs attention keeps things from falling through the cracks; crossing things off your list gives you a great feeling of accomplishment.

I prefer to use a visual system; maybe it will work for you, too. Transfer your list to a wall calendar where you can easily see it.  Mark the due dates with red outlines.  You may even want to break big projects into smaller segments with progress deadlines.  Mark these with another color so you know you are on track.  Now, whenever you look at your wall you can see at a glance your work flow and its progress. A woman I know also marks her datebook with colors too, to indicate business vs. personal commitments.  This gives her the visual clues she needs to get organized and not miss any deadlines.

Life is much more comfortable when you are organized and can see at a glance where you stand with your work load.  This gives you more control over your life, and a powerful feeling of accomplishment.


Embrace Soft Skills

You are the model for the behavior of your workforce, and their attitude is a barometer for your business.

Embrace soft skills like patience, kindness, support, and adaptability in yourself and your employees.  Soft skills are the collection of attitudes, habits, and actions that guide us in how to live our lives vs. hard skills which come from the training we need to get the job done.  You do need both in equal amounts to become successful.

Your attitude will be reflected in the attitude and enthusiasm of your employees. You will know if you are grouchy or lazy by looking at your employees or other people around you. If you are creative and adaptable they will be, too, making them more valuable to your business.

If you embrace flexibility and an open mind great thoughts will come to you; if you are stern and standoffish they probably won’t.  If you treat your staff the same way they are likely to become creative and more productive, too.  Being adaptable and taking advantage of new ideas may lead you in new directions that hadn’t even crossed your mind and open a whole new world of opportunities.

Consider a new idea every day and adapt the ones that may show some potential. A new twist on an old system may be the key to unimaginable success.

Live Your Ideal Life

We have written often about important it is for your business to have a vision statement, but it is just important for you to have a personal vision statement for a guide.

vision board - wordsOften personal statements are done in the form of Vision Boards.  As you read through magazines, or the mail, cut out pictures of the things you really want for your life.  Continue reading

After the Sale

Is your sincere thank you the end of the sale?  NO.  How you treat your customer after the sale is crucial to the success of your business.  People do business with people who they know and trust.  Encouraging them to be repeat customers is much easier, and less expensive, than cultivating new customers.

Absolutely essential is a Thank You note, within three days.  If you only do business on the internet you might get away with email.  Hopefully it is not an auto responder that is cold and generic.  Someone in your Organization should be in charge of making sure this is done properly.

Smaller Organization s can easily add this activity to their work flow.  They also have more of an opportunity for personalization.  The people who actually interacted with the client should be sending out the thank you notes or gifts where appropriate; that’s all part of relationship building.

The really smart salesperson will take the time to hand write (horrors!) and personalize their Thank You notes.  Include a comment that indicates that you were really paying attention. Send it by snail mail; your message will stand out because hand written mail is so rare today in our electronic age.

Then, depending on the lifespan of your product, you should contact your customer again.  I don’t however recommend a Christmas/Holiday card; your message will get lost in the pile.  Try any other holiday or regular event, like daylight savings time or the change of the seasons. And, of course, don’t miss their birthday.  That gives you at least two contacts per year, three if you send holiday cards.

Seasoned, successful salesmen/women also pick up the phone occasionally.  “Just thinking of you”, “this reminded me of you”, or congratulations on your new position/baby/whatever.

These professionals have worked with these same customers/clients for several years and sometimes even multiple generations.  Think of the security of knowing that half your income is already made for the year because of this business that you have cultivated, tended, and watched grow. You can now spend your time planting the seeds for new customers to grow your business.



No Place on the Bus

I just met the most fascinating woman.  Although she is a senior citizen now, she was about seven or eight when this happened.  She had just arrived with her family in Alabama, from Japan.

After doing their weekly shopping she and her mother decided to ride the bus home; home was about five miles away and they had a lot to carry.  After boarding the bus she made a disturbing discovery.

Although this was the mid sixties and the civil rights act had been passed ten years before the bus was divided into two distinct sections, one for whites and one for coloreds.  She noticed that there was no section for Asians. There was no place on the bus for her; they didn’t fit in anywhere.

It took her a long time to get over this sense of invisibility; in the eyes of the bus company she didn’t exist.  Her welcome to America was tainted.

Since they couldn’t find a seat on the bus they walked all the way home. Five miles was a long way for a seven year old, with packages. This was their only choice because there was no place on the bus.