Tag Archives: Connection

Peace, Love and Joy

Once upon a time there was a four-year-old little girl being raised with five older siblings by a single mother in a farming community in Iowa.

This little girl’s first memory of Christmas was of her mom and all the unique styles of the 1960s—like the small silver tinsel tabletop tree on the record player, on top of a lace doily embroidered with mistletoe. Under this tree sat a plush (and actually sort of scary-looking) Santa Claus that her mom proudly saved her money to buy. For some reason, this little girl loved that Santa, so for two weeks a year, he became her security blanket; she felt safe and loved when cuddling that scary ol’ Santa because, to a four-year-old, no bad things can happen when you’re cuddling a Santa.

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Since money was scarce, her mom had a no-cost tradition on Christmas Eve, and that was to get all six kids in the car (without fighting over who gets to lay in the back window, or yelling that someone touched someone else) and go into to town to drive around and look at Christmas lights. The little girl brought the scary, freaky-looking Santa along, and this Santa was her constant companion for several Christmases to come.

Today, that plush Santa sits in my living room and is never put away. It’s still my constant companion, reminding me of peace, love, and joy.

To me, the true meaning of Christmas—and the holidays in general—isn’t the money we spend, or how many parties we attend. It’s the prayers we say from our lips and from our hearts; it’s the smile we give to strangers and our friends; our kindness towards one another; and the forgiveness we give to others who for some reason we feel have done us wrong. It’s telling someone you love them unconditionally—no strings attached.

And it’s looking ahead to the new year, remembering our cherished memories and traditions… and looking forward to making new ones during the fresh beginning that this time of year always brings.

Happy Holidays!

Reviews vs Cyber Bullying

roseI saw a great quote on Facebook the other day, one that really stuck with me. It said “No matter how educated, talented, rich, or cool you believe you are, how you treat people ultimately tells all. Integrity is everything.”

It was perfect timing for me to see it, because it’s something I was just thinking about—I am absolutely outraged about how some people use social media to bully businesses. There’s a big difference between a “review” and what is actually “cyber bullying,”. It takes a lot of courage, money, and time to put yourself out there to risk everything you have to start a small, locally owned business, so the last thing business owners need is to be “set up” for a bad so-called review. Constructive criticism should be welcomed by business owners when it’s brought to their attention, but it shouldn’t be plastered all over the Internet by people without integrity.

When I go into a business—let’s say it’s a restaurant—and the wait staff happens to forget about me, I will gently remind them that I haven’t been waited on. For example, last weekend, my husband and I went to one of the most popular breakfast places around, and they were packed. We were seated in the corner and I ordered a cup of hot tea and he ordered a cappuccino. It took more than 10 minutes to receive our drinks, and in the meantime, they sat a lady in her mid-50s next to us. The host handed her a menu and walked away. We finally got our drinks, and then we were both surprised at how quickly our food came after that. We were happy.

However, while I was enjoying my yummy breakfast and sipping on my tea, I looked over and noticed the lady next to me trying hard to get the attention of the wait staff. I realized that this poor lady hadn’t even been asked for her order yet! I couldn’t take it anymore; I got up and flagged down the server and told her that the lady next to me had been there for more than 10 minutes and no one had waited on her. The server felt bad that no one was taking care of this customer, and when I got back to my table, the customer thanked me for helping her. (I have a new friend, too; we made small talk about how things happen and you have to speak up, and she joked that it was her fault for not speaking up.)

The point is, the staff thought they were on top of everything on this busy weekend morning, and they certainly didn’t ignore this sweet lady on purpose. She was also confident that she would get the level of service and quality of product that she deserved. But no one jumped right on the Internet and bashed the restaurant for having bad service. Everyone involved took responsibility for their own actions (or lack thereof).

When I go into a place of business, I want (and get) quality customer service because I’m nice and I treat the staff as humans and not as the hired help. They deserve respect from their customers. If you are not receiving the service you feel you deserve, ask yourself, did you talk down to them? Did you treat them like hired help?  Did you walk in with a chip on your shoulder? Yes, there are times when the staff is rude and it’s nothing you did or can do, I will give you that. But that’s when you should address your concerns with the owner or manager… not jump on the Internet the first chance you get.

And that brings me to why I’m writing about this topic. What is it about the Internet that makes us feel “brave” enough to trash, smash, and criticize a business for one small mistake that they would have been more than happy to rectify? What has happened to our community? We’ve lost our kindness and compassion if we are so quick to judge, especially if we are judging a business based on one isolated interaction. It must be exhausting pointing out everyone’s flaws and using the Internet for cyber-bullying. And I can’t believe that some people actually fall for this online bashing.

Let’s bring back the kindness and compassion in our community and support, inspire, and enhance each other. Let’s use the Internet for good things! Here’s another inspiring quote: “Do good and good things will happen.”

Don’t Sell what you do; Tell who you are

“Don’t sell what you do; tell who you are.”

This is something I was told at one of my first networking meetings, and it’s why I now ask a different question at every Coffee & Connections meeting. I encourage you to tell your story of who you are and why you do what you do. It’s so we can get to know each other, and find out if we trust and like each other—our hobbies, political views, religion, careers, and values are all different, and in Coffee and Connections we respect each other’s differences (although you may have noticed that we do not discuss politics or religion).

Some of the questions are business/networking related—like “What persuaded you to start your business?” “Who would make a good business marketing partner for you?” “What business tool are you in need of?” and “Who is your perfect client?”

But many questions are also simply fun to answer—such as “Where is your favorite vacation spot?” “What was your first job?” “What is your favorite color?” and “Do you have a hobby you really enjoy?”

Whether they’re personal or business-related, all the questions are important. Why? Because they all get you talking about the one subject you know the best—YOU!

I have grown to truly love and respect this group of ladies, and I admire the risk you all take by putting yourselves out there when you share a little of who you are at the meetings. If it weren’t for the questions, I wouldn’t have gotten to know all of you on a deeper level, and I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing business with you. I’m not saying you have to be besties with everyone; what I suggest is that we should at least hear each other’s story and see who they are, not just what they do. You may not be in need of the services of everyone who attends the meetings, but I’m sure you will come in contact with someone who may need their services or products. And doesn’t it feel great to refer each other and help each other succeed in business? It’s a little like paying it forward. (Actually, it’s a lot like that.)

At Coffee & Connections, we all love sharing who we are and what drives us, and we want each other to succeed. As you stand in front of the room telling us a little bit about yourself—whether it’s your very first visit or your hundredth—we’ll always do our best to support you, inspire you, and enhance your life.