What Are You Wearing? A Fashion-Forward Approach to Safer-At-Home

We’ll be experiencing this new normal for a while it appears and if we aren’t careful, we will have a new kind of Great Depression on our hands. When I started my home-based business in 1994, I found that I had to get dressed–make that “dressed-up in business attire”– to take my work time seriously. Home-based was a new sector and there were adjustments to be made both from my personal work habits to the outsiders’ perspective of what it meant to not go into an office. If I chose to stay in the sweatpants and old t-shirt I wore to walk the dog, then I found myself reticent to run necessary errands for fear that another businessperson would see me. “Are you off today?” they’d ask. “Are you home sick?” they’d assume from my lack of make-up. If I was sporting a pencil skirt and a blouse and saw a fellow Chamber of Commerce member, they’d say, “Busy today?” even if I was in line at the grocery store buying food for dinner. Things have changed a great deal. I can fully complete my business tasks in yoga pants and a family reunion tee, but I won’t get on a video chat in that get-up for the most part. That is increasingly problematic in our current situation. In addition, I find that if I am sporting my Fabletics collection too many days in a row I can feel myself becoming increasingly turtle-like. A meeting to facilitate, a Zoom call, or even a lunch with my dad gets me out of my comfy shell.   Mentally Healthy is in Fashion Depression affects a person’s choice in clothing. They choose baggy, comfortable clothes as the emotion affects the behavior. Before you become depressed as your habits change to hibernating and consuming Netflix like the last Girl Scout cookies in the cupboard, turn it around and let your behavior aid your emotions. Set some rules for yourself. Sticking to habits and routines are good for your mental health, as explained here in this article from Dr. Danielle Forshee. She says, “Routine helps us cope with change, it helps to create healthy habits, and more importantly, it helps to reduce stress levels.” Here are my Wear You’ve Been® suggestions for some house arrest wardrobe rules that you can institute to keep your clothing in rotation and make yourself feel better as you...
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What Chris Harrison Doesn’t Know About Facilitation

If you watch “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette,” even as a guilty pleasure, and have any inkling of what a facilitator does, then you know that Chris Harrison is not a facilitator. “Ladies, Bachelor, this is the final rose, whenever you’re ready,” Harrison announces at every rose ceremony as if the evening-gown-clad harem isn’t painfully aware of that fact in this outrageous competition to vie for a partner. He’s just announcing what comes next.     What’s missing?   Safety A facilitator protects everyone. Being on the “The Bachelor” is about the most emotionally unsafe place a young woman can put herself. One tool to keep everyone shielded is to set communication guidelines. These rules set the protocol for how dialogue will flow and sets an expectation for using respectful language. Level Playing Field Though each contestant starts out as just that—one contestant in a pool of 30 gorgeous 20-somethings, they quickly start pecking away at each other to elevate their chances with the featured male suitor. As the group quickly moves into a storming stage, a facilitator would implement tools to mitigate conflict. A facilitator would keep the participants on a level playing field to ensure everyone was honoring the communication guidelines. A facilitator would gently advise anyone out-of-control to collect her thoughts and speak only after she felt she was ready to calmly express herself using “I” statements. Obviously, this would ruin the entertainment value that attracts its huge viewership. Empowerment Toward Solutions A facilitator values the group as a whole and helps the group members address and solve problems. Conversely, Chris Harrison’s job is merely to avoid the camera’s view when a girl has a meltdown. There’s not a lot of attention given to whether conflict is resolved so that the group can move forward on The Bachelor. It’s the opposite on the show, they want the group to shrink. Though elimination is the only way to reach to a single answer on the show, in a facilitation, the group goes through several exercises to arrive at the best answer based on all of the data available. Consensus reached!   It’s Hard Not to Watch Reality shows like this are un-scripted soap operas for prime-time viewership that can quickly lure even the most reluctant viewer. Chris Harrison is simply a master of ceremonies to let it all happen. He’s great at it, don’t get me wrong!...
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The Belief Factor – Believe In Your Business or Else

Do you believe in your business? I ask this because I think it is the most important element determining your success. Do you believe in your business? Do you believe it will succeed? That it will supply a needed product or service to the marketplace? Do you believe it will support you financially (even if it won’t at first)? When you believe in your business If you think this is a silly question, that it’s obvious that every business owner must believe in his or her business, then you are lucky! Steer clear of business owners who hold expectations that others owe them. When you believe in your business, you will nurture it and guide it like it’s your child. You will pay attention to its growth and get some help when it isn’t meeting the prescribed milestones. Think about a successful business that you know. Likely the owner is passionate about its success and cares very much that it survives and thrives. This applies to founders of nonprofit organizations too—the business model is beside the point. The owner who believes does not hesitate to invest their time, effort, and money to give buoyancy to their business. These owners take responsibility for their success or failure. They figure out why something isn’t working—where’s the disconnect? The misconception? The opportunity?—then they fix it. They are clear, intentional, and deliberate. Believers ask for help from experts and then they listen and follow the advice with an objective detachment. Successful businesspeople are open for business, literally.   Believe you can and you’re halfway there.     – Theodore Roosevelt   When you don’t believe in your business I’ve encountered and even worked with people who flat out don’t believe in their businesses. I didn’t realize this fact when I agreed to work with or for them, but after 25 years as a consultant I can identify the very clear red flags. Their attitude is “never enough,” and they treat everyone like that. They say things like, “If only you would have/could have [fill in the blank].” They complain about customers, they complain about the vendors, they complain about their foiled efforts. One bad review and they explode with reasons that the criticism is not warranted! It’s self-centered and it comes across as rigid and closed off. It’s not attractive and the customers repel them instead of coming to them. They search for a...
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Creating the Perfect Business Name for Your Market

When speaking casually with business people about creating the perfect business name, more than once I have heard people say,  “Your name should say what you do.” To which I say, “Really? Let me go Comet my bathtub before I Kleenex my nose and Oreo my mouth.” Market the Name The job of marketing is to make your product name a household name. It’s not to take a household word and brand it as a product. When someone says, “No one knows what that product is,” that means it needs more advertising and public relations, it doesn’t mean the product is a failure or that you need to dumb down the name. Before you comment with your favorite generic brand, I acknowledge that those can work too as a gimmick of its own. Wine Warehouse, The Container Store, Goo Gone are all straightforward and to the point, but they do not represent the only successful brands. It’s just not necessary! When I counter with examples like Apple that does not sell any Granny Smiths or Galas, or Target that doesn’t specialize in dartboards, or In-N-Out that doesn’t sell revolving doors, Amazon, GoDaddy, TaylorMade, Mike, Samsung, and so on … the response is usually, “Well they have a huge marketing budget.” That may be true at this point in the game but not always. Like your business, they started with an idea. The idea might have taken shape in a garage like Apple Computers and Amazon, or being sold out of the back of a truck as did Nike. Here’s more on big businesses with meager beginnings. The Perfect Business Name There are many companies who specialize in naming. If you have the budget for that, go for it! It may be worth someone researching and testing names that help you become as profitable as you can. In summary, you can be creative as long as you are consistent (and not offensive) when using your name. Don’t be afraid to use your own name either. Ralph, Carl Jr., and Ashley will all welcome you to the club. Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit her website today to see how she can help you....
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7 Deadly Sins of Media Relations

Media relations can be so fun and rewarding, and also daunting. To gain successful buzz, you have to avoid the pitfalls–the seven deadly sins of media relations. Have you ever sent out a press release promoting an exciting and important event with high hopes of extensive coverage? Did you imagine a pre-event story, a reporter committing to attend and cover it, broadcast coverage, and a feature on a blog or two? Of course it’s possible to garner all that coverage, but that doesn’t happen all the time. If that did not happen, were you horribly demoralized and ready to quit? Then you probably need to re-evaluate your habits and expectations and make sure the substance of your pitch is as meaty as you think it is. The Good Book lists the seven deadly sins as the unflattering, nasty qualities: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. Rather than a new list, I have taken each sin and shown how it applies to media relations. Pride Maybe your press release had too much bragging. It’s great that you are proud of your organization or company and the upcoming event, but bragging is not a news story, it’s an advertisement. If you are truly and verifiably the first, only, largest, then state that with the facts that support that claim. If you are using descriptive words that are muddy and subjective (cutting edge, breakthrough, crowd-pleaser, favorite), you have some editing to do. Greed Of course you want all the stories and the buzz to be about you at all times—and so does your boss/client! Expecting a disproportionate amount of earned media to be about you and your business is greedy. These are news sources and if you are not announcing something that changes life on this planet, then it is extremely unrealistic to expect that much attention from media you don’t control yourself (your website, social media content). This attitude, which often leads to issuing useless, flat press releases too frequently, is a turn off to reporters and editors. Lust Lust is basically an intense desire for something. In media relations, lust leads you to measuring success by the number of news clippings instead of measuring by the objective of the event. Let me assure you, the coverage of your event is not as important as the outcomes of the event. Don’t worry that you don’t have a media entry...
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