Tag Archive | value

History is about to change. Are you ready?

While waiting in a doctor’s office, I picked up a copy of the local newspaper. I’m always interested in people and their viewpoints, so I headed to the “Opinion” column. One person wrote in about a TV ad that obviously went against his candidate. Perhaps you’ve seen it also. This person opined the depiction of a young mom running to vent her frustration at her 2008 vote for Obama’s slogan of “Change.”

Rather than listen to the content of the message, the writer criticized the quality of this mom’s jogging stroller and the clothing of both her running attire and that of her little girl. Has this man never heard of grandparents or eBay? He also noted that he’d watched the ad several times to see if the woman was actually wearing a wedding ring. He carefully noted that he did not detect one meaning that he could not see it, but he did not offer a reason why. Were his eyes too dim? Did she not have one on? And if that was the case was it because she had just finished washing dishes and forgot, she needed to hock it for cash, the financial pressures of her husband being out of work caused a riff in their marriage resulting in divorce; etc.? Were her hands hidden? Was the picture too small to see it even if it were there? We don’t know and neither did he, but you can guess his implication.

Here’s my point. If you have nothing better to do than rip campaign ads to shreds, and you have an analytical or critical spirit, go for it. Right now you’ve got plenty to look at on both sides of the spectrum. But if you’re trying to persuade voters to choose your candidate, you have certainly lost my vote.

Let’s deal with the real issues facing us today and determine if we’re better off before or after the Obama administration.

  • How about our economy?
  • Are you doing better or worse, are you richer or poorer? (Sounds like wedding vows, but we’re not married to Obama.)
  • What do you think about the increase in the national debt?
  • Why are many medical professionals throwing in the towel because of Obamacare?
  • How do the candidates stand on issues that impact your personal values?

Do you know?

I heard about a young man who was not sure if he would vote in this election. This would be his first opportunity. He said he wanted to be an informed voter, and as of the Sunday prior to the election, he did not know where the candidates stood. Fair enough. As we saw from the above comments on TV ads, the sound bites may not be clear. If that’s your stand, then check out FRC Action’s (Family Research Council) voter’s guide. It’s downloadable so that you can share it or carry it with you on Election Day.

History is about to change, but we all need to do our part and vote. Are you ready?

My Summer Vacation

When I was a kid, the first essay of the school year always had the same title: My Summer Vacation. I hated that assignment because our family never did all that much worthy of report. Money was always tight, so rather than spending a week at the shore or traveling to an exotic place, my vacation away from home meant hopping into the car to spend a few days at my aunt’s house or a day trip to the park to swim.

My dad often spent his vacation painting houses (ours or someone else’s), but on really hot days, he’d quit work early and drive an hour away so that we could swim and play in the sand on the beach by the lake. No cone-shaped piles of moistened sand for us. Dad made the best sand castles in the whole world. Using a bucket, discarded paper cup and beach shovel, he could fashion turrets and steps with a moat surrounding the exterior. Sometimes he even added a draw bridge. You could almost see Cinderella waving from the window. Passers-by would always stop to admire his handiwork. Now as I look back, I know he was spending quality time with me, and though I enjoyed it back then, today I recognize his efforts and really appreciate his building these lasting memories.

My parents, aunts and uncles have since passed away, and I would give anything to spend time today listening to their stories and learning more about them and their values. Money is still tight (some things never change), but because of my dad’s influence and his impact on me, the last few summers, I have made a concerted effort to spend quality time with my grandchildren. I did not build sand castles, – the trait must have been recessive – but we walked in the woods, worked on projects, visited some interesting places and played a lot of games. While we did these things, I listened and intentionally shared with them my values and perspectives.

I hope when my grandkids get older, they’ll understand that a gift of time is the best part of any vacation.

Perception or deception?



I enjoy watching the birds at the feeders outside my window and often observe life’s lessons as I see how they interact with one another. Though the titmice would not eat with the pineskin finches or the cardinal with the purple finches, they did share. They actually appeared to take turns, though sometimes reluctantly. I observed their pattern of orderly coexistence until a raucous call disturbed their meal. All of them scattered to distant points. None challenged the loud newcomer.


The blue jay in all of his blue and white splendor landed on the deck rail, and with one more call seemed to shout, “I’m here now. Out of my way.” His beauty far surpassed those of the smaller more common avian species, and he appeared to know it, and played it to his advantage. Taking his time, he picked at the seed and took his fill. He seemed oblivious to the line of birds on the house roof fearfully hoping for another opportunity. It was all about him.


Don’t you know people just like that jay? Everything revolves around them. It’s all about what they want and how it suits them. They don’t even consider others exist. I confess, loud people like that who push their way in and take over, annoy me. I decided there might be a lesson here, so I researched a little about blue jays in hopes of finding some applicable example to follow in dealing with such aggravations so this type of people could change.


Interestingly, I discovered that the cyanocitta cristata, more commonly known as the blue jay actually displays a high level of intelligence as he can solve problems, gather a cache of food rather than just consume it, and communicate more than many of his feathered friends. His hawk-like scream that scatters the birds at the feeders also sounds an alarm of danger in the forest when intruders approach. He does add value apart from his good looks.


Oh, and the lesson I learned for myself? Annoyance with jay-like people is not necessarily an indication of right and wrong in a situation, but it might be a gauge showing my perception filter is clogged.  Rather than seeing the negatives, the obstruction prevented me from looking deeper and focusing on the good to be affirmed and encouraged. Instead of pointing the finger, I had to look in the mirror. Don’t you hate when that happens?


Do testimonials influence readers?

I heard an interesting conversation today. Someone mentioned he found testimonials distasteful and did not pay any attention to those offered to promote products or services. Rather, this person felt that the company’s reputation, brand name and price were the only important factors. Do you think he is right?

We’ve all seen ads making magnanimous claims like the ones about losing 30 pounds in a ridiculously short stretch of time. Seriously, we know it can’t be for real. But here’s the real question. Do we throw the baby out with the bath water? In other words, are all testimonials fraudulent?

Actually, we’re bombarded by testimonials and are influenced by them all the time. Yes, we’re talking those promoting products or services that we might buy, and we think nothing of it. Have you ever gone to a new restaurant based on a recommendation of a friend of a friend. You know, “My friend, Sam, said it was really a great place to go and the meal was …” Well, you get the idea. What about the TV commercials featuring prominent athletes endorsing a certain athletic shoe or cereal? If Roy Halladay (Philadelphia Phillies) likes it, you want it too. Speaking of likes, what about Facebook? If Aunt Sally from Seattle likes Walmart, you might too, especially if she’s your favorite relative. And what about product ratings based on reviewers we’ve never met? Don’t we appreciate knowing the number of stars a product has garnered especially when shopping online?

Marketers understand that an endorsement from a reliable source may bring a buyer to the tipping point. It may be a way of answering those frequently asked questions without the pain of wading through a lengthy list. There’s no doubt about it, stories sell. Just look at the evening news along with their commercials. The issue likely has less to do with marketers using testimonials, and if we’re honest, more to do with our not wanting to take the time to do our due diligence and evaluate the facts on our own. Isn’t that why we continually buy our favorite brands? We’ve tried them and like them, so now we don’t have to think when we go to the store to restock.

We are influenced everyday by what others recommend. Testimonials do add value, so don’t be turned off. Instead read and evaluate the message. Then come to your own conclusion.

4 S’s Tell It All

What do you do?

This question offers the perfect opening for you to provide a 30 second response that could open or close the doors of your future. Are you looking for a new job, a business supporter, a product sale or a change? Believe it or not, your answer is not all about you. Zig Ziglar says it best: “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”  

Often referred to as the elevator speech, the term evolved because you really have only a short time – similar to the time it takes to travel between floors – to engage the person with your message. Within 15 to 30 seconds, your questioner will determine whether or not they want to hear more. Your response will, of course, be truthful and deal with your background, experience and goals, but the key is to determine how your chance to share can be of benefit or add value to either the listener or someone in their network. 

Practice in front of the mirror so you’ll be comfortable enough with your message to be able to customize it on the fly. Try these 4 S’ to tell it all: 

  • Start with the benefit you provide
  • Sandwich your capabilities and background around this benefit
  • Show how your strengths and goals add value
  • Stop talking and begin listening 

Although you may be nervous to share your information, don’t strive for perfection. (More on technique and content later.) Keep in mind it’s more about matching your desires with theirs. Smile and do the best you can, but more importantly, pay attention to what they’re saying with their eyes and body language as well as with their words. 

Even if you’re not trying to land a new job, etc., it’s good to have an elevator speech ready. Who knows, you might just make a new friend. 

So tell me, what do you do?