Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bonjour Y'all!

For more than 85 years, great things have been happening at our Harbor Playhouse.  But while the show went on, the building fell into serious disrepair, development efforts became unfocused, and our beloved theatre came in serious danger of closing its doors forever.

In March, I became part of a team of professionals led by Brucie Moore, Carla Gardiner, and myself.  We were planning a party to promote the upcoming run of Les Misérables.  However, priorities quickly shifted.

Soon, we were managing operations.  Brucie oversaw efforts and a renovation project, seeking donors to help fund replacement of rundown and overused doors, flooring, the roof, and other parts of the Playhouse building.  Carla took on the role of Interim Executive Director, like Brucie, eating, sleeping, and breathing all things theatre.  I primarily worked on marketing and development odds and ends.  

We worked through much sweat and many tears with Bonnie Rodda, Connie Cone, Becky Gardner, and many others.  A few weeks ago, when The Crucible was opening, all the Playhouse A/C units went out, right in the middle of lobby renovations and just before youth theatre camp.  A plea to supporters and the general public resulted in those bills getting paid.  The renovation could continue!  Our amazing community and their support had saved us!

Bonjour Y'all, the party our group was initially tasked with planning, will be held this Monday, June 24th at 5:30pm at Brewster Street Icehouse.  Harbor Playhouse and its patrons will give a BIG Texas Howdy to all things French in honor of Les Misérables, which opens July 19th. We'll have Champagne and Shiner Bock, Croissants and BBQ, and delicate French pastries served with Blue Bell ice-cream.  Of course, you can also count on a great deal of Ooh la la and Boot Scootin'!

Please plan to join us, Honorary Chairs, Kathy and Joe Adame, and the many community leaders, local business, and volunteers who are working hard to ensure the Harbor Playhouse will enter into its second act.  Tickets are $100 and available by calling the Harbor Playhouse (882-5500) or purchasing at the door the night of the event.
We look forward to seeing y'all there!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Thank you, Chumbawamba

I've always wanted to make a good impression.  I worry about what other people think.  But one time, as a child, I went out on a limb and asked my very conservative aunt for a music CD that was unconventional, weird, and a little scary looking.  I wanted Chumbawamba's catchy new song, "Tubthumping".  And as uncomfortable as it was for me to ask for it, I was really glad I did when  I received my new CD that Christmas.

I've been working on a lot of projects lately, and with a lot of teams.  I have also had the opportunity to run face first into politics that were much more prevalent and convoluted than I ever could have imagined.

I know politics are commonplace.  But lately, I've gotten a close look at the deceit and dysfunction they can create.  It's unfortunate, and I am frustrated.  Often I feel defeated, as if there is no way out, and nothing left to do.  But sincere supporters who believe in me and what I am doing have come to surface.  To me, they have meant the world, especially as I try to navigate these tricky new waters.

Last night, I was working late, inspired by my mission, my friends, and their encouragement.  I starting getting excited about new ideas.  I had renewed energy.  And then, it came back from my childhood.  "Tubthumping" was playing in my head.

Right now, I find the idea of getting knocked down and getting up again all too familiar.  Lately, it seems half my time is spent on the floor, wondering if I ought to just stay there.  But no matter how discouraging our circumstances, we must always get up and keep trying.  We must keep working hard and moving forward.

Thank you, friends, for your inspiration and encouragement.  And thank you, Chumbawamba, for sticking with me, even after all these years.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dusting Off the Blog-Webs

I have fallen into the trap I warn my clients about.  Worse than cobwebs, my blog has started to grow blog-webs.

The last month has been especially busy.  In addition to being swamped, I've been amazed to see that so many growing and learning opportunities can be packed into such a short window of time.  There have been highs, lows, challenges, and opportunities.  Perfect plans have fallen apart.  I leaned on friends and they leaned on me.  We picked up pieces and developed new plans for moving forward. 

Looking back, it's surprising to see there were more disappointments than I'd realized, a true testament to the impact high functioning teams and a positive attitude can have on challenging situations. 

I'm thankful for the opportunity to put things in perspective and see small setbacks for what they are, merely stepping stones that teach us and provide opportunities for us to dig in our heels and find a better way of working things out.  Rather thank licking wounds, I've learned to move quickly in working towards converting disappointments into something greater.

Take time to identify and learn from friends, mentors, and people you trust.  Then, when we need their lessons most, we will find them in ourselves and have the ability to share what we've learned with others.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cat Love

I was asked to do a presentation on target markets for a group of local veterans who wanted to become small business owners.  I started the session with a video:

I knew the group I was speaking to would find my choice weird.  I knew they would probably think I was weird too.  But that's why this video was so purr-fect.

Knowing your target market means knowing what makes them tick.  It means relating to them and establishing a connection with them, allowing them to see that you understand their needs, beliefs, and concerns as if they were your own.

Although my class full of veterans wasn't nearly so amused with this video as I am, Whiskas helped them understand the importance of making marketing-related decisions that appeal and relate to the niche you are trying to attract.  This ad wasn't meant to appeal to everyone, but is a home run to people who are obsessed with their cats.

In our businesses, it's easy to fall into the trap of believing that everyone wants or needs our product or service.  However, our resources are limited, so it makes sense to focus efforts on select groups, or target markets, who are more likely to want and need us.

Has your small business identified its target market?  Help your target market see that you understand them and can meet their needs.  When we reach and relate to our target market, success is sure to follow.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


This week I took my car to Champion Honda for scheduled maintenance.  I was looking forward to downtime, clearing my head, and reading a new book on employee engagement.

In the quiet and spacious lobby, I picked a seat and threw my nose into my book.

Soon, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an older woman walk in.  She was thin and petite.  She carried several bags.  As she entered, a staff member gave the woman a hug.  She dropped her belongings near mine and walked away.

I was uncomfortable the woman set up so close while twenty other seats open. (Yes, I counted.)  But I was still determined to avoid conversation and read my book.  The woman shuffled her feet as she paced the waiting room floor, back and forth, back and forth.  She came uncomfortably close and walked away, only to return again.

Now and then, another staff member would come in, greet the woman, and exchanged genuine pleasantries.  Employees even acknowledged the woman's latest knitting project.  Unintentionally, I lifted my gaze and made eye contact.  The woman, surprisingly kind looking, smiled, and I smiled back, quickly returning to my book.

When my husband arrived to give me a ride, we exchanged a quick hug and kiss.  "We don't allow that in here," the woman teased.  I joked that we promised to stop.  She had been looking for an opportunity to chat and had found an open window.

The woman I saw at Honda and the respect the team members there showed her perfectly aligned with the principles in the latest book I am reading, Carrots and Sticks Don't Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT, by Paul L. Marciano.

As I reflect on my experience, I remain impressed with the respect the staff members at Champion Honda showed this woman.  Clearly, she was there often and wanted company and conversation in addition to whatever else she was waiting for.  But instead of being annoyed or curt, staff members were respectful.  They further cultivated and developed the relationship they had with the woman.

Respect is a basic and primal craving.  All of us need it.  All of us want it.  And though I started reading Carrots and Sticks to learn about employee engagement, I was thankful for the reminder that respect must be integrated, not only in the workplace, but in all other areas of life as well.  Without respect, relationships crumble. Everything falls apart.

I do believe Aretha Franklin was on to something...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Walt Disney and the Coffee Bean

I started listening to the Catholic Channel on SiriusXM.  I know, I know.  It sounds lame.  But their programming is engaging.  Ironically, every day they have me belly laughing in my car and getting funny looks from other drivers.

This past weekend, I turned on the Catholic Channel and the program host was talking about Walt Disney.  My ears perked up.  My attention was his.

The show host told a funny story about his daughters begging to watch the movie Bambi.  He fought hard but eventually gave in.  During the viewing, he was surprised to learn that Bambi, was in fact, a boy deer, not a girl.


When Walt Disney and his brother, Roy started making a lot of money, they bought their parents a nice new home in Burbank, CA.  Tragically, a furnace had problems and the Disney brothers' mother died of asphyxiation in 1938.  Walt Disney never spoke of this event, even to his children.  It was worse than tragic.  It changed his life forever.

In 1942, Walt Disney produced Bambi, the popular story of the little boy dear who lost his mother and had to learn to navigate the world alone.

The host of the talk show went on to talk about how bad things happen, but they can be used as a catalyst for something great.  If we turn things over to God and work hard, we can persevere.  Good things can come from bad.

The talk show host went on to discuss coffee beans.  Coffee beans aren't very useful independently.  However, hot water (perhaps unpleasant for coffee beans) helps them realize their true purpose.  The hot water allows the coffee bean to become something greater.

Life and business present challenges.  Bad things happen.  Sometimes things don't go our way.  But even when things don't seem right, good can come. 

Remember Walt Disney.  Let your coffee inspire you.  Keep the faith and never give up.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Little Effort. Big Impression.

My husband has been working hard.  Really hard.  So I agreed to attend a career fair this weekend in hopes of recruiting some relief.  In preparation for this career fair, I created a full bleed tri-fold brochure. 

Since my background is corporate, I've never had to worry about getting things printed.  They just were.  So on Friday, I dropped off my first full-bleed brochure to a print company.  I let Michael, the man behind the counter, know I needed 500 copies no later than close of business Friday. 

Michael could get 100 brochures done for $500.
His quote was high, but Michael was willing to help.  He admitted what I needed wasn't their speciality.  Their equipment was meant to copy, not trim and fold.

Michael could have said he couldn't help.  He could have told me to take it or leave it.  Instead, he suggested I look into alternatives with other print shops.  He said he would still be glad to help if I couldn't find a better deal.
I’m grateful to Michael.  The effort was small on his part, and although he didn't win my work, he was honest.  He was patient.  He impressed me by giving me the opportunity to evaluate other options, knowing full well I would probably do business elsewhere.

I did find a print shop that could print 500 brochures for a reasonable price.  I saved money, but also learned a bit about print and copy shops.  More importantly, I learned to keep Michael in mind the next time I need something his business can help me with. 

Kudos, Michael!  It's nice having someone look out for your best interest.

Let customer service help solidify your client relationships.  Putting customers first always makes a great impression.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Be Inspired

While participating in a yoga teacher training, my friend, Michelle, who brought the class to Corpus Christi, gave some great advice.  She wisely suggested we take a trip, attend a workshop, and learn from teachers who inspire us most when we need new ideas and motivation.

As a new yoga teacher, I have kept this in mind.  I continue to study, read, and learn so I can stay motivated, and in turn, better help my students.

Recently, I realized that Michelle's advice transfers to other areas of life as well.  This is especially so in business.

Near the end of last year, I found myself burning out from taking on too much and trying to support too many causes.  I stepped back and tried to do less.  Surprisingly, I found myself becoming lazy and unmotivated.  I had difficulty gearing up and being ready for the opportunities and challenges of a new year.

All this quickly changed as I affiliated with new causes, such as the South Texas Council of the Boy Scouts.  I became inspired and rejuvenated by passionate staff members and volunteers.  I attended a professional workshop where I reignited my passion for learning and small business.

During my yoga teacher training, our teacher, Christina, commented to me that "if your class is boring, it is because you are boring."  There is much wisdom in these words, which also transfer easily to business.

As leaders, we must remain energized.  We must stay motivated and informed so we can inspire our team, our subordinates, and our clients to do the same.

My challenge to you (and myself): Keep motivated.  Inspire yourself.  In so doing, encourage those around you.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


When I was in college, one of my favorite business professors reminded us, "Today is a gift. That's why it's called the present."

A few days ago, the news reported that a Corpus Christi woman was killed in a three-car collision.  The news was tragic, but I later learned that victim wasn't just a Corpus Christi woman.  She was a former co-worker and friend.

Lauren passed away at only 29 years of age.  Her death is especially sad and tragic, as it happened just after Christmas.  Her fiancee was driving in front of her at the time of the accident.

Lauren was engaged to be married.  She had recently become a professional engineer.  She had worked hard, and it had paid off.  Everything seemed to be coming together perfectly.

I've been thinking a lot about Lauren, although I hadn't seen her in a while.  I can't believe she's gone.  I don't understand what gives some of us the opportunity to experience a new year, while others of us don't get that chance.

2013 is a time for starting over.  It's a time for hope and reaching towards unmet goals. 

I know, that I, personally, took the new year for granted.  I assumed I'd be here and have the chance to try again, improve, and take on new things.  Not all of us were so fortunate.

The reality is that "now" is the only thing we're guaranteed.  If you've been meaning to do something, if you've been reassessing priorities, now is the time to take action.

I'm so sad that Lauren is gone.  My heart breaks for her fiancee, her family, and her loved ones.  I can't make sense of her tragedy.  I can only be reminded to give thanks for the new year and new start I and so many of us were given.

May God bless you and forever keep you, Lauren.