Preserving Our Past For The Future

Monthly Archives: October 2010

What a busy week! We secured several new customers and somehow took care of the existing customers, even though we were short-handed due to some unexpected setbacks in staffing. Over the last several months, I have been formulating some CORE Values for my company. Today was their debut to the managers, and tomorrow’s staff meeting will see them introduced to the rest of the staff.

So many things in business and personal lives are so darned wishy-washy. What someone says they believe and adhere to today may be a total opposite of what they proclaim tomorrow. Situational ethics seems to be the norm and so many life decisions are based on whatever predicament someone may find themselves in at any given time. I remember a story in my teen years and the basic principle holds true even today.

A counselor at one of our church camp retreats was talking about peer pressure and how easy it is to make the wrong decision if you make a decision in a moment, rather than making a decision in your mind first. She talked about teen sex and it gave way to a lively, but actually interesting conversation between the teens. One was bold enough to ask the counselor if she had indeed made the decision ahead of time to save herself for marriage. The counselor had responded, “Yes but I also had a back up plan to assure my own abstinence and secure my decision.” Then she was asked by a second teen what that plan was. “Well, I carried a quarter in my pocket at all times on all dates.” Puzzled, the teen asked how a quarter was capable of keeping a teen abstinent when the boyfriend put pressure on the young girl in the heat of the moment. “When I started getting pressured, and felt myself starting to doubt my decision, I pulled out my quarter and handed it to my date. I said ‘Here’s a quarter…you call my Daddy and if he says it’s alright with him, then it’s alright with me.’ ”

You have to plan ahead to be successful at anything in this life and not let situational ethics prevail and make life-changing decisions for you. Putting down CORE Values on paper, whether in business or in personal life, puts some “be” in the beliefs you hold. Here are my company’s CORE Values. Hopefully they are what my company strives to live…and pretty much, with a slight change in wording here and there, what I can pull out of my pocket in my own life as I learn to “be” what I was created to be:

1.Deliver WOW Customer Service (or live with integrity)

2. Embrace Change and Practice Empowerment

3. Make it Fun and Spread Happiness

4. Be Creative, and Open-Minded

5. Pursue Growth and Learning

6.Promote Open and Honest Relationships

7.Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

8.Respect Others and Their Ideas

9. Do More With Less

10. Be Humble and Display a Servant’s Heart

11. Be Passionate and Determined

12. Believe It is Always About Them, and Never About Us (me)

I had an ex-boyfriend once. When we began dating, things were nice and we got along and he gave me the attention and interest that I wanted and also deserved in a relationship. Once things got a little more serious, something kinda of “snapped” in his brain. He became overbearing and obsessive and the attention became something of a monitoring device, which didn’t go over really big with me. What was great, became rotten pretty fast, and needless to say that relationship went bye-bye. I remember one day toward the demise of the situation, I had gotten so fed up, I turned to him and said “You know, I cannot possibly miss you if you won’t GO AWAY.” Clever statement, I thought, in the moment. But it is an axiom that holds pretty true, kind of like the more common “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” This week my opps manager was out of the office on her last vacation of the year. And she was definitely missed.

I always appreciate her work, and the work of my other staff members, but I am pointedly reminded of their contribution when one of them is out of the office for any reason. I get to be them, (I do my best anyway), but this is a good thing for more reasons than appreciation. I am brought back in close touch with my customers and staff. It’s a good time to do their work, and maybe evaluate how certain programs or policies or procedures are working or no longer working for them and the company, and make plans to replace the things that are slowing us down. Sometimes a business owner and a company may look as if they are moving forward exactly right, when in fact they are headed down the wrong road, or headed at least in the wrong way toward a goal that is not their real goal at all. Many a complacent business owner wakes up one day and says ” how in the heck did I get here” and then they have to backtrack all the decisions and try and fix things, rather than keeping short accounts and changing things to support the ultimate goal and path as they go along.

Things did go well this week, and we were very busy. My young office manager displayed stellar performance although she was dealing with a sudden death in her family. Sad situation…her young cousin lost control of his car and lost his life. Odd thing, his flip flop was caught under the accelerator while his foot remained on top and continued to accelerate the car. He reached down to free the shoe, lost control, and the vehicle went off the road and hit a very small tree. He had no seat belt on, so he had nothing to stop him from bending down, from trying to free his shoe, from placing himself in the way of the tree that came crashing through the passenger’s side of the vehicle. I have thought about this several times this week. What if he had chosen a different type shoe? Did he forget that he had an emergency brake on the car? What if the seat belt had engaged and not allowed him to bend down? What if he had not been alone? Would the other person had been injured, or worse, because he had lost control? Or would the other person had been able to free his shoe for him… and the car…and the passengers…go home safely, with only stories of their misadventure? In relationships, business, and personal decisions, I realize a great need to wear the right “shoes”, wear a “seatbelt”, and have a “friend” along for the ride for my own safety and the safety of others. I must prepare to do the right things with the right methods (wear the right shoes), have self-discipline ( a seatbelt) in place to keep me in check, and have someone ( a friend or business associate) who holds me accountable but will go away from time to time to let me know the value of their friendship, advice, and relationship. We all need that, now don’t we?

What a great Saturday! It was brisk and cool when I got up, but the sun was shining on HeartWalk Day. Our company participates each year, raising money and walking together as we honor survivors and remember those family members and friends who succumbed to the disease. It is always moving to see the turnout, but even more so to watch as the survivors make the first lap in their red shirts and matching ball caps.

There was only a small group of our company members, all managers, that turned out to walk. My 2 year old granddaughter, Lorelai, was dressed out in Help Me Rhonda attire, in multi-colored sunglasses, her stroller bearing a sign letting the world know she is “new hire in training”.

Once the walk was over, Lorelai hopped in my car and we began a wonderful day together. We went “junkin'” as she calls it. Yard sales are some of our best fun. She always finds a treasure and GiGi doesn’t spend much to make her smile. She got a stuffed dalmation we named Spot and he even rode in the place of honor in the basket when we made a quick stop at Walmart. But by the time we started home, she was one tired chickie. I heard her ragged snoring in the carseat as we pulled into the driveway and laughed to myself. Watching her as she took the rest of her nap on a floor pallet, her little hand resting on her cheek and her breathing soft and kind of fluttery, I thought  how nice it might be if she could just stay this small and innocent.  It’s sad how quickly we lose our innocence and wonder. Relationships sour, jobs go south and we lose our quest for real contentment. Circumstances somehow convince us that happiness and wellbeing are elusive dreams and we stop trying to find ways to beat back the bully of our own misdirected thinking. Maybe more simplicity is the answer…an afternoon catnap…junkin’….cookies and juice…homemade rose-petal perfume…or maybe even an afternoon of making daisy chains. Sounds like an outline for happiness to me.

Wow…June at Gould’s Salon is my new best friend. I got a massage today and she is really great. I spent a good portion of the day trying to figure out how I could convince her that she needs to live with me. It was supposed to be an “in office” day, but once I left Gould’s…and June boohoo…I swung by Goodwill to see if I could find some shelving or cabinets or something to use in the TLC room , but nothing turned up so I wandered on to a few other errands including a run by the library for a book I had on hold, Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh ( pronounced Shay), former young CEO of Zappos.

I was already fascinated with the company and its mild-mannered leader, so when the book came out it was a must read for me. Imagine the excitement when I found out it was the next Book Club pick for the cleaning industry group I am a member of.

I can hardly wait to read it then pick the brains of those who have read it also to see how we can bring to life the same customer service phenomenon that he has helped create in his companies in our own businesses. After my errands were complete, I made the last stop one of my faves, Nagoya Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar near my office. I reveled in the clean atmosphere and clean food, as I began to turn the pages of the book for the next hour, while I ate a solo lunch. I don’t get to do so often, but today seemed, well, right for it. Upon returning to the office, we received a call from a lady wanting to get a cleaning bid, and I could tell by the conversation my office manager had with her on the phone, it was a sad situation that drove her to call us. As it turned out, the young woman’s husband had been ill for about 18 months, and the house had been a far second priority to her spouse’s care. The husband unfortunately had passed away 6 weeks before, and now she needed a great deal of help to get her surroundings, and life, back together. I hadn’t planned on doing any more bids this week, but the sadness struck a chord, and I went to meet her and view her home. The whole property inside and out was pretty much a totally neglected mess. It reminded me of Miss Havisham’s home as described in Great Expectations, almost as if the clock had stopped on this family 18 months ago when the husband and father fell ill. The woman was pleasant, but as we went through the home she became quite tearful, and so did I, as I saw the pain she was obviously going through just thinking about having to get things moving around her home again; this time alone. We set her up to get cleaned on Monday, and she looked relieved to know we could fit her in quickly. And, she looked a little hopeful as I left. That really made me reflect on the name of the book I was reading, Delivering Happiness. You know, it just doesn’t take much to make someone happy. Sometimes it just takes a Special Delivery.

Today was my first day in the office for the week. The last two days were spent touring the zoo with my mom, daughter and granddaughter, and then a second day at home reading. Wonder if I could find a way to get paid and do that every week! The weather has been incredible and it was so good to get away from the office a bit and rejuvenate. There’s nothing like fresh air and sunshine to calm the soul and put all things into perspective again. Today at the office went well and a lot of forward movement was made with decorating the TLC Room, The Learning Center, which is our brand new staff room.

We are decorating it with posters and memorabilia from the World War II era. Everywhere you look are pics of women working on airplanes or in factories, Rosie the Riveteer, and patriotic symbols in red, white and blue. We want a place where we can learn, and still be reminded that the sacrifice of women when they enter the workforce now is not so much different than it was then.

It is just as difficult to leave the family now, as it was for the men to leave their wives when the war front beckoned. The phones were ringing off the wall today with new business and we got great feedback from a new cleaning we did at the first of the week, and then secured her for a regular cleaning each month. Woohoohoo!  Funny Facebook posting today from my daughter ended the day with a giggle. Two year old Lorelai has been learning all kinds of songs and rhymes for months now. She brings her mom a Kleenex tonight and sings to her “Dinah won’t you blow, Dinah won’t you blow, Dinah won’t you blow your NOSE”. Ha…gotta love it.

Today is the first entry into my blog. Interesting feeling that… never thought I would see myself become a “blogger”, although I was a journalism major and even write business articles and newsletter pieces from time to time. Not owning a computer until about 11 years ago, I am still trying to find my way around all the technology.

So to state, just by even beginning a blog, that I am dedicated to whatever blogging might require of me is pretty foreign thinking. Blogging…what is it anyway? Well, originally a blog was meant to be a web log of activity. (Ok, I’m a busy person, I will have activity, and I can document that frenetic movement.) Then blogging became a way of informing and involving your customers, friends, mere acquaintances and those few folks that fall upon your site accidentally in the major and minor happenings in your life. (OK, I will have plenty of content since there is always a lot going on around here and some of it is mildly interesting). Blog…from reading a few myself, maybe that word now translates into “Big Load Of Gossip”. (Ok, I can be random). So, to the reader, I say “Welcome”. Hopefully you will learn a little, live a little and laugh a little with me, as I share my big load of gossip with you.