Tatonka

I love a good day off.

Doesn’t everybody?

For me, a “good day off” is when I can relax every part of my being. My breathing feels deeper, the sky seems bluer … you get the idea.

We made a point of getting out of the house early one morning to take a day trip to the ocean. Before we left, I asked:

“What intention would you like to set for our trip today?”

He thought for a few seconds and with a mischievous look on his face, he replied:

“Buffalo.”

I laughed and thought…buffalo?  OK. Buffalo. What the heck! That’s so like him. A good challenge. Innocent fun.

I was game (so to speak).

It doesn’t matter that we are on the mid-Atlantic coast, where the buffalo are famous for not roaming.

We drove over two hours to the beach. Our conversation was light and fun. I kept my eyes open for buffalo. He kept his eyes on the GPS.

The ride was beautiful. We found a rather crowded beach for a Tuesday. Both of us prefer a less crowded venue, so we found a good lunch spot and thought about how we’d spend the rest of the day.

After lunch, we headed north for the state park. We walked on the uncrowded beach, examining shells and rocks and the many horseshoe crabs. We talked to the fisher folk. Spot was the popular catch of the day.

We asked passers by if they could tell us what kind of seagull we were seeing. He is from the Pacific Northwest and he had never seen the black-headed gull.

We learned that most people just group all gulls together. They had no idea what kind of gull we were seeing.

Just when we were about to call it quits on the survey, we asked one more person and bingo!

The Napoleon Gull.

Our day on the beach was winding down.  We walked back to the car, deciding to take a slightly different route back. We felt feeling confident we couldn’t go far wrong with the GPS.

Once we got through the commercial beach roads and their outlet stores, our ride home was just as scenic as before.  We saw lots of thriving green fields, produce stands, beautiful clouds, and old farm houses.

We drove by a large field that had a giant irrigation system on wheels. It nearly spanned the length of the field and was made of metal. When you approach one from behind (which I had never done), and you use your imagination, it looks like a dinosaur skeleton at the Smithsonian. Kind of. When I saw that, I (ever the optimist) thought…Well, if we don’t see a buffalo, at least we have seen a ” dinosaur”.

And it was just after that thought that we rounded the corner only to see… a bison farm.

In the background beyond the fence stood not one, but several buffalo large and small. Who knew?

Ah, intentions…

You put them out there and “hold a space” for them without any expectation or forcing or figuring.

It’s always a good idea to go about your day with a your antennae up.

Have you seen your buffalo today?

Buffalo In The Snow by John Nieto


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Messages: The grocery line

There’s the grocery store….and then there’s the specialty grocery store where the food is organic and healthy.  I try to shop in the latter as much as possible.  I believe that nourishing yourself with healthy foods is like practicing preventative medicine. It’s a worthwhile investment.  (I feel the same way about massages)

Not only are the offerings good…the people seem genuinely happy.  You can just feel it.

On a recent visit, I was on a mission: shopping for good tasting sauces with low to no sodium to add to stir fry vegies. When I found what I was looking for, I headed for the check out lane. I was third in  line at the two register  store.

Before I knew it, the second register was opened.

The gentleman in front of me with two items was ushered over.

I followed.

The person who opened the second register was an employee who worked in a different department.   When it was my turn in line, I had an item from my visit earlier in the week that I needed to return.  I was hoping this wouldn’t be a problem.

I mentioned that I was returning the item because the sodium content was too high (34%….in noodles! Who knew?).  Kathi, the “supplement manager” (it was on her name tag) smiled and asked if I would be using the same credit card today that I used to purchase the noodles.  I said yes and she said….

“no problem.”

Just as everything was put into my bag, Kathi shared that her uncle was on a strict low sodium diet and that her aunt buys a few good items that fit the bill. She offered to show them to me.  I took her up on her offer.  At that moment, one of the other employees came up in line and put a few items on the conveyor belt and said, “Since you’re here and finished (ringing me up), I thought you could ring these up for me.”

Kathi’s response: “I am going to show this customer a few things that I told her about first and then I’ll be back to ring you up.”

I followed Kathi and she pointed out some foods I may want to consider for other low sodium options.

All of her suggestions were good and related to my situation.

Not only did I thank her for her recommendations, I acknowledged her for putting me first.

~:: ::~

What were this business’s messages ?

When is the last time you acknowledged your team,

in the moment,

for doing something “right”?

I like giving credit where credit is due.  Thank you Kathi.

I like giving credit where credit is due, for great customer service.  The organic market link is:

http://www.naturalretail.com/htm/railway.htm

Two doors down

This was a store that had a smorgasbord of items…so many, in fact, I stayed for a good 30 to 40 minutes just trying to take it all in.  The items ranged from refreshing, fun summer table linens, trays, candles and  high-end clothing to colorful quilted bags.  There was even a small room in the back dedicated to everything baby.

If you were claustrophobic, you might have bolted out the minute you stepped one foot in the door….but, not me.

I was pulled in, intrigued with the “chaos”

and wanted to see more.

The  woman I assumed was the shop owner was behind the counter ringing up a customer.  I  made my way to the back of the store in turtle like fashion, looking at all the items she offered as if I was a child in a candy shop trying to decide how to spend my dollar.  In fact, I was trying to deduce if she carried anything I might be able to purchase for two of my sisters who had birthdays approaching.

I was not acknowledged as I walked in and browsed.

Another customer walked in the door.  The shop owner warmly greeted her with: “How are you??”  What ensued was a brief conversation about the woman’s health.  They knew each other.  I tried not to eaves drop. However, not doing so would have been a challenge in that store. The next part of the conversation I heard  (after I held up a linen dish towel to examine it closer) was the customer claiming responsibility for sending 5 to 6 people to the owner’s store to shop for a bridal shower.

I thought….Wow! How nice!

I bet the customer is a business woman  herself. That is very cool that she did that.

The next thing I heard was the shop owner telling the woman that there was a baby shower for the daughter of a woman they both knew and not ONE person bought from her shop.  Instead, they purchased everything from Target!  The  friend/woman tried to show her support of the shop owner by whispering loudly: “What a slap in the face!”

By this time, I was two-thirds of the way back through the store and and gasping at the price of of the robin’s egg blue stretch jeans ($165).  At that moment, I noticed to my left there was a young woman  arranging a new display of quilted colorful paisley and flowered purses and bags of all sizes and shapes.

I hadn’t noticed her when I first walked in….and she didn’t notice me.

She was busy busy busy going back and forth from the stock room to the display area.

I continued looking at the jeans and tank tops along with the “spendy”  price tags.

Then I spotted the Asian style silk pajamas with the mandarin collar and contrast piping.

They were displayed showing all of the yummy colors in which they were available. Immediately, I imagined myself in either the classic navy blue or maybe the white for summer.

Just my cup of green tea!

The tag indicated: 100% silk…an important feature for me (natural fabrics).  I lifted the hanger, put the PJs up to me as I looked  for a mirror amidst the chaos.  I looked all over for a price tag but could not find one anywhere on any of the 7 pairs of pajamas hanging on display.  The young woman who was busy busy busy whisked by me as she was coming from the stock room.

I timidly asked (even though I knew the answer):

Do you work here?

She said she did and looked me in the eye and smiled, as if it was the first time she noticed me. I asked her for the price of the pajamas.  She couldn’t find the price either (that made me feel a little better about my eye sight) and then she spotted it on a shelf WAY up above my line of sight, hanging from a teeny tiny tag …. $49.

$49…not as bad as I thought it would be. The words I said were: “That’s not so bad.  I have two sisters who might each love a pair of these pajamas.  Their birthdays are coming up.  That’s a reasonable amount to spend on a birthday present, don’t you think?”

She nodded in agreement and went on to let me know the larger sizes came in the more colorful choices … went back to her display.

I wandered farther into the other pajama and night gown displays to see what else the store carried and then ventured back toward the front of the store.  The shop owner was alone and had stepped out from behind the counter.  As I approached her I said, “You have a very nice store….quite a smorgasbord of things!”   She looked me in the eye (for the first time) and said: “Yes! That’s the perfect word for this shop!”

I then said: “I think you have what may be perfect gifts for two of my sisters who have birthdays coming up.  Do you ship?”

She said: “Yes, we do!  Just bring in their addresses and we’ll take care of the shipping for you.”      “Okay”…. I said.

silence…..

I started to walk toward the door and noticed the fun and brightly colored aprons.  I commented on how pretty they were and how reasonable the price was ($12)….and followed up with:

“I am always getting something on me when I cook….do you have the aprons that tie around your neck?”

She pointed them out to me….and went back to her perch.

I walked out and went on to the next shop….

thinking about the pajamas…

~:: ::~What are the messages this shop is sending? What went well? Where were the opportunities?If this were your shop, what would you have done different?
How many buying signals did I give (verbally and non-verbally)?
I invite you to participate!

Have a taste

We have moved to the most quaint town. It is very “walker friendly” with  scenery pleasing to the eye.  After waiting for the summer heat to subside in the early evening, we took a stroll in the “down town” area where the trees offer shade and breeze around the businesses.

Most all of the restaurants have their menus posted outside.  We would stop and see what the fare was for the evening.  We stopped outside of Darnell’s Grill. You had to go up their 3 stairs to get to the framed menu. We walked up and noticed their door was open. I noticed they had crab bisque on their menu.  My friend is from the northwest and not familiar with the famous blue crabs of the Chesapeake Bay.  I, on the other hand, am very familiar with the blue crabs and know what a treat they are.

Just as I was telling him how delicious crab bisque is, a smiling Clara walked to the door and greeted us.  She overheard us talking about the bisque and asked where we were from.  She invited us to come in and have dinner. We were not really dressed for dinner and had on our “walking clothes”, so we politely declined.  Clara kept smiling and motioned for us to come in and said, “Well, at least let me give you a taste. We have shrimp and crab bisque and you have to try it!”

How could we resist?!

We couldn’t.

Clara has that kind of unassuming personality. You know the kind….a person  who makes you feel like you’ve known each other for years. We felt completely comfortable following Clara. It felt like she was sneaking us into the kitchen. And who wouldn’t like that?

We felt special.

After a healthy “taste” of bisque, we promised Clara we would be back another day for a “proper” dinner.  We have returned several times since we have lived here and have met every member of Darnell’s “family.”

And by the way, if you think Clara was wonderful,

you should meet Darnell.

~::  ::~

What do you think Darnell’s business philosophy is?

How does it compare to yours?

Do you have any “Claras” on your team?

Share a positive customer service experience.

Words to live by

A few months ago, I had to take my little VW beetle in for a check up before making a trip cross country. I was in a new town and was not familiar with the service department. When I walked in, I was greeted immediately by a woman behind the counter. After telling her my name, she politely excused herself to go get the service manager for me. While waiting, I noticed a very large sign at my eye level just behind the counter. It read as follows:

OUR PROMISE

The 5 Customer (Guest) Wants:

  1. Quality in Every Detail
  2. Fast Response
  3. Solution to the Problem
  4. Personal Assistance
  5. Sincere Cheer

I had to smile as I read them. They were simply common sense and the fact that they posted them was brilliant in my humble opinion. What does having this list do for the “guests” that walk in?  And how about the employees?  What does this say about the company?

I enjoyed a long career with a company that had their Shared Values posted in every store. This was a company that believed in empowering every member of their team to make good decisions based on the company’s  values, vision and mission. As a new team member, the first day of training was just about these shared values with the thought that if you found yourself in a position where you weren’t sure what to do, you could follow the values and make the “right” decisions…every time.

It worked like a charm.

What words does your business have to live by?

What is your business’s customer service philosophy?

Would you post them?

Common-sense mission statement

Recently, I asked an entrepreneur what her vision was for her business.

Her reply was perfect…

and what I would term a Common Sense Mission Statement:

” I want every person who walks in to feel glad that they did! “

Wow!

What is YOURS?

Simply common sense

Scan of cover of Common Sense, the pamphlet. N...

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It is my belief that good old fashioned common sense is always the way to go with….well….life, but for the purposes of this blog site, I’ll say that common sense is a good point of reference for great customer service and entrepreneurs who want to their businesses to thrive.  The challenge however, is that common sense appears to be less and less common.  What happened? Where did it go?  How can we get it back?

I am a sales and management consultant as well as a business & life coach. My business clients include individuals and groups who are frustrated with the status quo and would like to improve their businesses by way of exceptional customer care with a common sense approach. They have found that by focusing on customer care, their  sales and repeat business are maximized, their team members thrive and every aspect of their own lives improves as a result.  They have figured out how to connect the dots.

A large part of my experience  (over 25 years) has been in the retail furniture sales and management world.  I have been fortunate to work with companies who have had the common sense to develop, understand and act upon values  such as happy customers, teamwork and honest communication, just to name an important  few.  These companies had the wherewithal to realize that retaining good team members wasn’t just about money. It’s about making your team feel included and engaged.    Not only was it about including the staff…inclusion was also about the customers.

Makes sense to me.

This common sense approach, in fact, enabled them to thrive  during difficult economic times.

You can too.

In this blog site, I include real life customer experiences giving you the scenario…just the facts … and give you the opportunity to point out where common sense was used or perhaps, the opportunities for common sense to be applied.  They will be featured on the home post page under the title: Messages. Feel free to use this blog site as a complimentary interactive training/coaching tool for your business. And….feel free to let me know the challenges you may be encountering today.  I’d love to look at them with you and develop a strategy that WORKS for YOU!

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Messages

It was the Saturday before Mother’s Day. The weather was cooperating (after what seemed  like 2 weeks of non stop rain) with a slight breeze and plenty of sunshine.  The Farmers’ Markets were in full swing (I went to two!) and casually dressed folks just seemed genuinely happy to be out and about enjoying it all and each other.

I decided to drop in to some of the independently owned boutiques in the quaint small town where I just moved.  I have seen these shops on my early morning walks and have been curious about them…specifically in how they are surviving during this particularly challenging economic time.

The first shop I walked into was a women’s clothing boutique. The door was fun…painted in a bright solid color and the window was decorated to show the variety of items inside from unique jewelry and dresses to fun cards that mentioned something about being more cool than your daughter thinks you are to t-shirts sporting martini or wine glasses as the design.   I noticed a woman (who I assumed was the shop owner)  standing behind the counter chatting with whom, I assumed, was a local customer.

There were about 5 women of ALL ages (early 20s to mid 70s) in this very hip and pricey store. I saw a variety of several items that caught my attention. I lifted them off their racks/displays and walked over to the mirror to put them up to me.  I was probably in the store for 20 to 30 minutes.  The shop owner did not acknowledge me. I walked out and went inside the boutique two doors down.

If you are a business owner, manager or team member who is looking for ways to increase your customer base, I invite you to critique this shop and honestly assess your own business from your objective view of this shopping experience.
What are the messages this shop is sending?
If this were your shop, what would you have done different?
What would good customer service have looked like?

Positive nods & messages from the universe


Been exploring a lot lately. Not  the typical adventurous Indiana Jones-type explorations…like exploring a cave on the side of a mountain in Peru or diving in the coral reefs just off the coast of Australia. Nope.  These are the “road less traveled” kind.

I have a ritual that I strive to honor every morning.

I consciously set a daily intention.  Examples: I set my intention to be open to the possibilities around _________ (fill in the blank).  I intend to stay in a joyful state of mind all day and see what effect it has on my day.  Thing is, I used to forget to listen and look for the positive nods and messages from the universe in response to the daily intention. This all changed one day.

I was just about finished with the foundational education I have chosen for my Life and Business Coaching certification. I wondered, “What’s next? How will I make the leaps into the next levels of  my business?  How will I keep the level of joy that is so important to me as I increase my responsibilities? What if it doesn’t go as I am envisioning?”  …. yadda, yadda, yadda.  Babble, babble, babble.

Any of this negative self doubt monkey mind talk sound familiar?

A saying came back to me:  “It is always darkest before the dawn.”

That may be a tad  dramatic, but for grins, indulge me a moment and you will see the brightness that comes with the “dark side.” By dark side, I mean:

  • Fear
  • Doubt
  • Confidence
  • Impatience
  • Assumptions

I decided to get closer to my dark side. Was it real? Or just the smoke and mirrors that my ego likes to play with from time to time?

Armed with my daily intention of getting to the truth of these matters, a new awareness came over me.  I realized that a recent series of events were the positive nods and messages in response to my intention.

Event #1

My mentor coach asked me:

“If money were not an issue, would you still be coaching?”

This got me to thinking about all of the things that I enjoy in life…

Event #2

One of my sisters read an article to me about a man who has patchworked several part-time jobs to keep his income level in a happy place and found an inner happiness that took him by surprise.

I found that taking a part-time job that brought me in closer contact with people on a day-to-day basis made me happy. It wasn’t so much the extra cash, but the feeling of community that did that for me.

Event #3

A friend, an entrepreneur, sent me a blog post that she was thinking about publishing and wanted another set of impartial eyes to review it.  It was basically about reinventing oneself. More specifically, it was about how to set yourself apart from the others, who may offer something similar business-wise. You set yourself apart by offering a unique value.

:: A positive nod ::

Event #4

I very unexpectedly ran into two former co-workers …who are now successful  entrepreneurs. I stumbled into one of their shops. I had coached  them a few years ago while we worked for the same company. They took the time to thank me for the lessons learned, which they are now applying to their businesses.

:: a positive nod ::

These “events” are all around us.  It’s actually amazing (and quite fun) to see what what you get when you pay attention…because when you do, the universe will happily dance with you and your explorations.

You just have to tap into your awareness.

These nods and messages have been what I needed to help me move forward into the brightness and away from the dark side.

And back to the question my mentor coach asked me, in case you were wondering …. the answer is yes.

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Who’s your coach?

“Coach” is a title I used to avoid.

I am not a fan of fads, and I worried that “coaching” was trendy. So, I’ve been tangling with the coach title since 1999 when someone told me that there was a name for what I was already doing.

“Life Coach”

Truth be told, I have been a coach since the early 80s, only we didn’t give it that title. We called it “sales trainer.”

I was lucky to work for This End Up Furniture Co., a business whose values matched mine. One of the core aspects I loved about TEU in the early days was the philosophy that we are all just human beings.  So,  rather than have a customer/salesperson relationship, why not have a human-to-human relationship?

What a concept!

I found that the title “coach” implies such a human-to-human relationship. One individual collaborating with another to realize success.

I have since collaborated with individuals, entrepreneurs, and companies who have a desire to grow, shift, and even dance toward their life vision.

I am immensely grateful and proud to be a part of this pioneering effort, which provides a gentle guide to usher you to your inner strengths and talents. Some call this your “inner guru,” others simply “finding yourself.”

I am proud to be such a guide.

am a coach.

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Testimonials

For many years I have been searching for something. I felt stuck with the same repeating patterns, habits and beliefs. These patterns were ones that I did not desire. I had the urge to break free from them but felt powerless. I have read numerous inspirational books, changed my diet and even worked with an energy healer for several months. While these methods elevated my energy it was not the key towards the shift I desired. I am normally a DIY type of person but realized that this was an area that I could use help with. So in perfect timing I had the opportunity to begin coaching sessions with Lee. Each session is perfectly aligned to exactly what I need in that moment. She is very flexible, supportive and works from her heart. These qualities allowed me to be myself and to be open to receive guidance and move forward. I consider it a miracle what has manifested in the last several months since we have been working together. I moved out of a 14 year job that I was attached to but did not serve me. Simultaneously I received a new job opportunity which is exactly what I desire right now. We sold our first investment property which we had worked on for 3 years. Another investment opportunity manifested effortlessly. These manifestations were something in the past I thought would be difficult and time consuming to achieve. I now have the realization of living a life of my own creation and I chose which direction feels good. Lee is like my tuning fork. She helps me to stay focused on this wonderful path that she helped me to re-discover. Old habits still creep in and Lee helps me to realize them and continue to move past them. Lee is a precious wise soul that puts her heart into helping other’s remember their creative potential. Endless appreciation to you Lee! Norlen Linn Lempster, NH June 2015
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