Tag Archives: Cindi’s thoughts

Planning – 3 Business Rules for 2017 and Beyond

Normally, once Saturday Night Live is over, I’m busy doing something. As a night owl, I’m often off the sofa and into my office to work on my lengthy to-do list. But, a few weeks ago, I was a bit tired and didn’t get up before the next program began. And, I’m very glad!

Immediately following SNL, at least in this market (Las Vegas), is Your Move with Andy Stanley. Now, I’d only seen the program a couple of times, but that night’s talk really hit home, with one slight twist. Stanley was addressing viewers to make changes in their personal lives. However, I had my business hat on that day and before he spoke a word, once I saw the bullet points on the screen, I immediately went into entrepreneur mode.

Stanley wanted you to look deep inside you to make the changes necessary to become the person you’re desiring to sit across the table from you, the perfect mate. If viewed from the other’s perspective with your checklist, do you match up? I’d heard this advice before, but my business brain was running a mile a minute on his bullet points. So let’s take a look.

Here are Andy Stanley’s Three Rules:

  1. Get out of debt
  2. Stay out of bed
  3. Clean out your closet

Now, aside from the first one, you may be wondering how the next two apply to business. Let’s take them one by one.

Get out of debt. Some people advise you to leverage, leverage, leverage. When it comes to debt, I’m advising to be debt-free. The less debt you have, the more control you have over your company. As a solopreneur or small business owner, if you don’t owe anyone money, then you have more money to keep the doors of your business open longer. You’ll make wiser decisions because if you’re spending your money and not someone else’s, you are apt to be very cautious when signing on the dotted line. If you’re debt-free with savings in the bank, you have a more solid foundation on which to grow your business.

If you have a type of business that requires a large capital outlay and it will be a few years to get those loans down to zero, at least pay off your personal debt. Your individual credit score might be required in order to secure financing for your business. And, if you’re looking to woo a potential partner, investor or company to acquire your business, the prettier the balance sheet, the better chance you have of finding that perfect one that checks off all the boxes on your list.

Stay out of bed. Here, Stanley was suggesting you not sleep around, and while that’s good advice for the business environment as well, I immediately thought in different terms. If I were to use this bullet, I would say Get out of bed.

So many people start a business not knowing the immense amount of time and effort required just to get it off the ground, let alone maintain. If you’re lying in bed instead of working on your to-do list and reviewing your goals to see where you can move forward, your business is doomed.

You don’t even have to own a business to make sense of this advice. Taking the time to improve your skills, get a better education, network with people in your desired industry, research requirements for the job you want – they all require that you spend some time in the full upright position.

I’m not advocating you never take time off. On the contrary, rest is essential to having the endurance to be a successful business owner. Lazing around and complaining that nothing ever goes your way will have quite the opposite effect.

Clean out your closet. Dealing with past emotional baggage was the point Stanley was making here, and that’s not bad advice for a business owner. However, I took it literally. Clean out your closet. And your basement. And your garage. And any other place that’s cluttered! Clean!

Why clean? First of all, a clean environment is healthy and conducive to inspiring thought. If you only see clutter around you, your brain has a hard time slogging through the mess before it can focus on creativity. If you’re looking at a clean and organized interior landscape, surrounded by things that make you happy, your starting point for work is significantly better.

Some people say they can’t find the money to start their business. Well, it might be sitting in your garage or the back of your hall closet. Clean out and sell items you’re not using. You might fetch a few thousand, or at least a few hundred, which could be enough to get your website going and business cards designed and printed. Accomplishing a whole house cleanout will also boost your confidence to accomplish those sometimes-scary business tasks. Just don’t waste the money you gain. It can dribble in as things may sell one by one and take a period of time for everything to sell. Set the money aside so you have all the dollars ready to work for your new business.

As you can see, the same words can mean different things to different people, depending on your perspective and state of mind at the time. Andy Stanley was working on your spiritual self while I saw the words from a business perspective. Still, good advice whichever side you’re on!

What are your thoughts? Can you relate to any of these three scenarios? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Enjoy!

Cindi

Cindi’s Thoughts – How do you handle confidential information?

Confidential Information

How do you handle confidential information?

There’s been a lot of talk in the press lately about how confidential matters have been handled, and I was just curious where people stood on this subject. Let’s view it from a business perspective.

I worked in Silicon Valley for many years where I was given a lot of confidential information regarding product development, product launches and any number of other projects in order to properly do my job. I also observed early on in my career that even at the same company, not everyone was read into a project. So, if employees within a company aren’t allowed to know about the subject, why would someone think they can share that material with anyone outside?

To me, confidential is confidential. Whether obligated by a formal written agreement or a verbal acknowledgement, confidential data should not be shared with anyone who is not directly involved in the matter at hand.

Some confidentiality agreements (also known as non-disclosure agreements or NDAs) allow you to share the data with those you contract with to help execute the project. However, the agreements typically state that you are responsible for all those you share that knowledge with to keep the information confidential until such time as it’s made public by the company. So, don’t share unless you must.

When you share confidential information, you do a number of things. First, you potentially undermine the success of the project. If information is released too soon from a source other than a corporate announcement, a lot of bad things can happen including the complete failure of the project or business. In some cases, the information is never to be made public and is strictly for use within the company.

Second, you put the person you told at risk of releasing the information accidentally. It’s a small world and you never know who knows whom or what data might be valuable to them. Making an off-the-cuff remark while waiting for your Pumpkin Spice Latte at the Starbucks counter at Target could be overheard by a potential competitor even though it was a seemingly innocent location.

Third, you risk your own reputation. If people can’t count on you to keep your mouth shut, they won’t tell you anything. You’ll be deemed untrustworthy and may lose your job, your clients or even relationships with friends or family, depending on the circumstances. Why risk it?

Confidential means everyone is not privy to the information. In this age of social media, some people feel they need to share everything. Sharing confidential information on social media can get you fired before your next paycheck. Don’t do it!

I’ve had people hit me with the spouse or significant other excuse, that spouses tell each other everything. Really? EVERYTHING? And, when I do raise that argument with others, I’m often told of stories of couples who were married for decades and never quite knew what their spouses did for a living because they were required to keep their work life confidential.

If I look back to my Silicon Valley days, it wasn’t unusual for people who worked for different companies to wed. With all the secretive product development going on, I’m sure they didn’t sit around the dinner table sharing design specs.

Keeping your mouth shut and doing the right thing can have a negative effect as well. At one point, I had been working with a client for about a year when another company contacted me to consult with them. I was really excited until I discovered that their products would compete with those that my current client had in their long range plan. I had to turn down the new client inquiry. Unfortunately, my existing client eventually chose not to pursue that market so I lost the opportunity to work with a great company on a long term contract, impacting my bottom line. Still, it was the right thing to do.

So, now that I’ve rambled a bit about my observations regarding the sharing of confidential material, where do you stand?

CIndi

Cindi’s Thoughts – Where to find me in 2016

binoculars

I like to think that everything we do somehow sets a foundation for our future life. We might not always see an immediate correlation, but somewhere along the line, our decisions today will affect our future tomorrow.

in 2015, I decided to consolidate my websites and to be more active on social media. The websites were easy; social media I’m still working on, although I have improved.

Previously, I had a separate website for each project under my creative hand. It just got too unwieldy to maintain an ever-growing list of projects and their accompanying sites. I finally got things down to what I hope will be a manageable four.

I’ve also tied my blog posts to Facebook and Twitter, so every time I have a new post, you’ll be alerted if you follow me on either one. So, I wanted to provide a breakdown of what you can find on each site.

www.CindiMaciolek.com – This is my main blog site. Here, you’ll find out things about me, my KonMari journey notes, recipes, favorite things and so on. It’s an all-encompassing Cindi Maciolek overview.

www.GrandArborPress.com – This is my business site. Anything related to my books, CDs or products can be found here.

www.Divatiel.com – Anyone who knows me knows I loved my little birdie so much I wrote a book about her. I have plans to do a few things with this down the line, so I’ve decided to keep it a separate site. That may change in the future, but for now, blog posts will be updated on my Facebook page but on a different Twitter account.

www.AuntiCindiPresents.com – This site is dedicated to my latest non-fiction book series. You’ll find blog posts here related to topics in my Aunti Cindi Presents books including business, caregiving and emergency preparedness tips. Emergency Preparedness was originally on my CindiMaciolek.com site, but I’ll be transferring  the content here. As other books are added to the series either by myself or other authors, the subject matter will grow.

You can also join my email list. I currently do not send regular updates via email, but I welcome you to add your name to my list.

Social Media

As I said, I’m not a social media expert while I understand its significance. All my blog posts will also post on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, in the last year I’ve opened Pinterest and Instagram accounts, both of which I hope to build on during 2016. I’m also toying with the idea of YouTube. Maybe somewhere down the line.

So, there you have it! If you’re looking for me, I’ll be on my laptop, fingers traveling a mile a minute, keeping you posted on random thoughts and somewhat useful information while I continue to focus on my books and other outlets for my writing.

See you in cyberspace!

Cindi

 

Cindi’s Thoughts – A Cautionary Tale of Online Shopping

Online Shopping

We’re heading into the frantic holiday shopping season, and no matter how intelligent we are, we’re still human and we make mistakes. There, I said it, I made a mistake!

Before you dig out the credit cards and start doing major purchases online, I wanted to share with you something that happened to me last year. Luckily, the outcome was fine but it could have been terrible if circumstances were different.

Last December, on a late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, exhausted, i was getting ready to shut down my laptop for the night when I received an email from a favorite retailer that an item I wanted was on sale at a very good price. Now, as tired as I was, the smart thing to do would have been to turn off my computer, get some sleep and order the item in the morning. However, we know how quickly things sell out during the holidays and I didn’t want to miss such a good opportunity.

Black-Friday-Cyber-Monday-2015-578x372

Yes, I could have gone into the store for the item, but I knew I only wanted that one thing and I thought if I quickly ordered online I could go to sleep happy. Then I could avoid the crowds in the store and spend my time doing more exciting things. As it turns out, that was not the case.

The item was just shy of the free shipping minimum, so I stayed up a bit longer to find something else to add to my order. Now, besides being exhausted, my eyes were spinning circles looking at items trying to decide what small thing to purchase to get my free shipping.

I finally placed my order then decided to catch up on Facebook while I waited for my email confirmation to come through. It did. Yikes!

Yikes!

You see, this particular retailer’s site had two quirks that threw me off my game. First off, it listed the billing address, then the shipping address. This is completely opposite most other retail checkouts. Usually, your shipping information comes first, then when you add your payment info, the site will ask for your billing address.

I’d purchased from this site before so all the address and payment information was saved in my account; I’m just saying I didn’t catch that I was looking at my billing address when I hit the submit order button. I thought it was my shipping address.

Then, this site, for some reason, kept the last address I shipped to as my default. Now, I’d ordered many times over the years from this retailer, but only once did I ship to another address and it suddenly decided that should be my default.

I received my order confirmation and was surprised to see that my order was not shipping to me but to a family member across the country, the last address I had shipped to. I immediately logged into my account, but I was not offered the option to make changes or cancel the order. This was all within a matter of about 30 minutes or so from the time I placed the order.

I located the telephone number for web order support and the representative informed me that it clearly states in their online order policies that no changes can be made once an online order had been placed. I was shocked! Zero changes? Yep, zero changes. The minute the order is placed it goes directly into processing. The only way around that is if you ship to the store because you can choose not to pick up your order.

We as consumers are partly to blame here. We want to receive everything within hours from the time we order it. That means that we lose our freedom to make changes or cancel orders as well.

drone delivery

I went to several online sites that I frequent and each one has a completely different order policy. Several do not allow changes or cancellation once an order has been placed. Others will allow changes until it ships. The rest fall somewhere in between. These policies are in effect year round, not just during the holidays.

My advice to you before you hit the Submit Order button is to review absolutely everything in detail and know the policies for that particular merchant. You don’t want to get stuck in the middle of a bad situation.

I was lucky. My order went to a family member. I told him he could either keep the items or return them and keep the money. It was a small cost, so I just reordered.

However, can you imagine if I had spent a large amount of money and sent the order accidentally to an ex, someone I’m no longer in touch with or even the person I want to gift it to? If it’s the gift recipient, well, not such a big deal, but if it’s someone else, they are under no obligation to return the items to me. What’s to keep them from taking the shipment to the store and getting a refund? After all, I had clearly ordered the items and shipped the order to them. I would be out the money and the items as well.

Happy Shopping!

We’re always so busy and it’s so easy to click, tap or enter to complete a transaction. Before you do, take a deep breath, review everything with a clear head, then order. You’ll be glad you did!

Happy Shopping!

Cindi

May 4th – May the Force Be with You

For Star Wars fans, May 4th is a very special day. You can Google all the reasons, so I won’t go into them here, but as a Star Wars fan, I hold the day in high esteem.

There always seem to be two camps: Star Wars vs. Star Trek. I have to admit, I’ve used that as a dating quiz at times. I just know that if my date answers, Star Trek, I have to look elsewhere. Long term, he and I wouldn’t get along.

Now, I admit, I do love that signature line from Star Trek: Live Long and Prosper. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to do that? That’s exactly what all this Law of Attraction stuff is all about. Trekkies not only wish it for themselves, they wish it for others as well. Not being a Trekkie, I can’t really say if there ever was any evidence of the cast living long and prospering during the show, but I have borrowed the line on occasion.

However, May the Force Be with You from Star Wars, resonates with me on many levels. First off, a guy I used to work with always reminded me to “Come from a place of power” whenever we faced obstacles in our projects. I’ve referred to that often during my life and remind myself that when I need it, I have an inner strength, a force, that will help me to overcome obstacles.

The Star Wars characters repeatedly showed how the Force played a role in their lives. The Force is greater than an individual: it unites us all. There are numerous analyses of the spiritual aspects of Star Wars, so again, I won’t go into them here, but perhaps the beautiful and fun way those points are expressed is what draws us Star Wars fans to keep coming back.

To celebrate the day, I want to share with you two music videos that Phil Maq introduced me to. The Force is everywhere! Enjoy!

Weird Al Yankovic: The Saga Begins

And, the Lego version: