My Coffee Connection

My Coffee Connection

Yes, the title sounds like the name of a networking group and I think I have even been to one with that name. I have made some incredible connections over coffee, but that is not where I am headed.

This is about a hospital experience and a brand of coffee, Barnie’s Santa’s White Christmas. The flavor was introduced during the holiday season in 1995 and soon became a year-round favorite.

The label lists it as a comfort brand, and I concur. Nuts, coconut, caramel, and vanilla waft slowly out of my cup, the aroma soothing, and warm.

I first discovered Santa’s White Christmas in the Florida Hospital cafeteria during the many months I visited my mom after her open-heart surgery in 2004.

The escalator from the parking garage exits right by the cafeteria. It became a routine to pop in for my morning cup of coffee on the way to ICU where Mom spent many weeks due to complications. That is another story for another time.

When Keurig first entered the market, Barnie’s was not yet in the game. I often saw packages of ground SWC in the stores. I no longer had a traditional drip coffee pot and there wasn’t a Barnie’s store near me.

Then finally it happened! Barnie’s K-Cups hit the shelves and I stocked up on my favorite brew.

Drinking it makes me smile. It is a hug in the morning. Even though my mom was in dire straights during those months, I have good memories. It was my break from ICU; a rehabilitative walk to the cafeteria to clear my head, the coffee pots in the familiar corner beckoning me.

This week, I visited with a friend who was at the same hospital, her father having just had surgery. I headed down the familiar escalator and felt the pull, turning right and heading back to the area I remembered the coffee pots were located.

I sighed with relief. In the back corner, lined up on the wall was the coffee section, and center stage my beloved Santa’s White Christmas!

Memories flooded back and I stood there for a moment before I reached for a cup and filled it with the warm brew. Even though it’s the same product I enjoy every morning in my kitchen, I think this cup had something a little extra in it. Thanks for the hug!

No Problem is a Problem!

No Problem is a Problem!

Are you starting a new business and need to hire employees? No Problem!

Do you need to fill a customer order? No Problem!

Perhaps source out the right technology? No Problem!

How many times have you asked a question of a business, inquiring if something could be done and the response you received was “No Problem?”

Whether you are asking a waitress for a beverage, a retail clerk for help with a product or a technical support representative to solve your IT dilemma, “No Problem” is a phrase that should be eliminated from business vocabulary.

Take a closer look at the phrase and notice that it is comprised of two negative words, No and Problem. And that is a problem. Mindset experts will tell you that we integrate the words we hear, and although this phrase is commonplace, it tells us that something that should be a positive response actually has negative undertones.

No Problem? I would hope as the customer, that it is NOT a problem. I never imagined it would be. Why would you even suggest that? Any student of positive thinking, (often referred to as The Law of Attraction), believes that what you think is what you attract, and would argue that No Problem attracts, well, problems.

Try this exercise. Visualize saying “Thank You” to someone for a service and hearing them say “No Problem.” Now visualize the same person responding to your appreciating them by saying “My Pleasure.” Doesn’t that feel better? Say the words yourself. Don’t you feel a little more joyful expressing a higher positive response?

Our customers can sense attitudes in business. Organizations with a positive mindset attract and keep far more customers than those that believe in helping themselves before helping others. Connecting with your customers, establishing a friendly atmosphere and creating relationships are the key to successful business endeavors.

The Ritz Carlton Hotel chain requires its employees to say “My pleasure” in response to customer requests. Their culture strongly affirms that they are in business to WOW the customers.

I have had employees tell me they feel uncomfortable using the words, ‘My Pleasure.’ One said it sounded cheesy to her. I challenged her to find other phrases, that were positive, encouraging and put the customer first. She came up with several acceptable phrases, including, “Of course” – “I would be happy to” – “Absolutely” and “You’re welcome” to be used when appropriate.

Without our customers, we wouldn’t have a business. How well we serve them determines if they will come back. Therefore, we need to create a culture of loyal customers that will return again and again.How we treat our customers and our employees matter. It should never be ‘No Problem’ to get something done.

Instead, let the customer know you appreciate their business and you don’t take it for granted.

Because there really are No Problems – Only Situations and Opportunities!

Originally published Pakwired.com

Photo:Flicker / Ulrich Massier

Something I Never Told You – Sharing Family Memories

Something I Never Told You – Sharing Family Memories

I recently conducted a workshop for a non-profit that organizes monthly activities for its member families. It is one of my favorite events to facilitate because the stories that are shared cover a wide span of ages and experiences. I always marvel at the giggles and affectionate glances that are exchanged as the family members uncover layers of memories that deepen their family bonds.

It doesn’t really matter if a family event is comprised of  seniors and their adult children, or younger parents and their kids. The experiences they share are what connects them to each other in meaningful ways. Often, they both chip in their version and memories of the same event and if you pay close attention, you will see smiles and nods around the room as the rest of the participants relate to some of the stories.

Occasionally, the parent or child will share something the other has never heard before and that turns into a very special moment. A recent experience with my son in Washington, DC reminded me of those family workshops.

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Part of the antenna recovered from the second tower. In the background, front pages of newspapers from around the world reporting the events of 911

Because of my background working for media, both in print and online, Joel arranged for us to visit the Newseum (News Museum), and together we touched the Berlin Wall, viewed the 911 exhibit as well as the history of comics and Newspaper Syndicates.

Joel knew this would be a home run activity that I would love. But I had no idea that one of the displays, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photos that wrapped around a curved wall and filled a room with images of joy, sadness, horror and adventure  would hold a memory from his childhood I had never shared with him before.

This feeling in the room was equally reverent and emotional. Every Pulitzer Prize photo both in News and Feature categories were on display, along with descriptions and the story behind the photo from the photographer; how he or she got the shot. Some of the photos were stunningly beautiful, others horrific scenes of war or disaster.

The picture that stopped me in my tracks was taken in 1987 of Baby Jessica McClure, the little girl who fell down a well in Midland, Texas.

Scott Shaw's Pulitzer Prize Winning Photo taken as Baby Jessica McClure was pulled from the well in Midland, Texas

Scott Shaw’s Pulitzer Prize Winning Photo was taken as Baby Jessica McClure was pulled from the well in Midland, Texas. Originally published: Odessa (TX) American

Only a few months older than Joel, the incident happened just before his first birthday in October. I remember so clearly sitting up all night watching and praying with the nation for her rescue. And 58 hours later as she was pulled from the well, I was picking up my little boy out of his crib and holding him while he slept, grateful that he was safe and sound in my arms as she was once again in her mother’s. As I shared that story with Joel, I felt the tears again rolling down my cheeks.

Maybe Joel understands now why I always wanted to make sure he was safe growing up, by knowing who he was hanging out with and where he was. Even today, I appreciate his updates when he travels and arrives at his destination.

We experienced some amazing memories that weekend. It is something we will always have to talk about and as with the workshops, makes our family connection even stronger.

Photo:Flickr

Love Yourself – Father’s Anti-Bullying Song For His Daughter Goes Viral

Love Yourself – Father’s Anti-Bullying Song For His Daughter Goes Viral

Truth be told, we probably all know someone who has been bullied. This dad taught his daughters how to “Love Yourself” no matter what! More than advice, he provided them with tools to make a difference.

I’M BEAUTIFUL – I’M WORTHY –

THOSE MEAN WORDS CAN’T HURT ME!

I’M PRICELESS – I’M SMART – I LOVE MYSELF –

I’M FOCUSSED ON MY HEALTH!

Read my article on The Good Men Project and Check out the video here!

Photo: Youtube/ Khari Toure

Three Ways Team Building Will Improve Your Relationships

Three Ways Team Building Will Improve Your Relationships

When was the last time you tried something new? Something adventurous? Something completely out of your comfort zone and, you did it with someone else?

I conduct team-building workshops for companies to help them build stronger relationships, but recently I focused on a much smaller team. There were only two people and I was lucky to be one of the participants!

I flew to Washington D.C. to visit my son Joel, while he was there for a Fellowship program. We had already been to all the historical sights and monuments, both together and separately. We wanted to try something new!

About 90 minutes outside of D.C. in Maryland is a quaint area called Harper’s Ferry. Locals and tourists can get their adventure on and a few thrills too. From zip lines, to kayaks to white-water rafting and tubing, there are several companies that offer half-day and full-day outings.

Neither Joel nor I had ever been on a zip line and we were both a bit nervous. But outside of the personal accomplishment that would come with the achievement, was the bonding that comes from experiencing it together. Mother and son, a team of two, sharing in the same adventure at the same time.

He insisted I go first. I felt my “mom” instincts kick in just a little bit to forge the path and it was a blast. He was proud of me and I of him as I watched him zip over to the platform I was waiting at. And then we did it again. This time he went first and waited for me. What a sense of exhilaration we both felt! zipziphoorayWhite-water tubing was fun too and the rapids were not that extreme. But the current was enough to separate us a few times. I found that a little frustrating since our goal was to do this together. I also realized that my arms were not long enough to paddle effectively over the tube. Joel to the rescue! He tied our tubes together with a piece of cord that he took off my hat. Anyone remember the show MacGyver? Joel also paddled for the most part for both of us.

It doesn’t matter how big or how small the team is, there are benefits for groups of all sizes.

Here Are Three Nuggets You Can Take Away From a Team-Building Activity

Common Ground -When two or more people share experiences and create memories, it bonds them in a unique way. It will always be an event that has special meaning for them, one that they can reference back to.

Values – Most people knowingly or unknowingly judge others based on their personal values. It is the reference of our previous experiences that gives us our perspective. Knowing the base of another’s experience helps us to understand their perspective. Sharing in an event together allows you each to take your past and create a new paradigm together.

Trust – Our past experiences with others also shape our relationships with everyone else we meet. It is another point of reference. Sometimes we are rooted in those feelings, and if we are lucky, can remain open to new circumstances and form new beliefs. Experiences shared help create trust because you have gone through it together.

Discovering an aha moment from an event and sharing your favorite part of the experience creates a positive anchor and memory. Here is what I discovered on my day of adventure with my son.

Part of a being on team is learning what each of us brings to the table and lending our strengths to each other. I stepped up to go first on the zip line; Joel helped me navigate the white water. It made the day even better for both of us knowing we could rely on each other.

My favorite part – I absolutely love experiencing the world through my son’s eyes. But mostly, it was the joy of spending the day with him and deepening our connection through a shared memory we will always remember.