Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Organized, at last!

I've done it. I've organized my blog, but splitting it into two different ones. I'll no longer be a schizophrenic writer, bashing away at the keyboard, wondering if I'm a filmmaking Mama of a premature child, or if I'm a Relationship Gardener, showing others how to plant and nurture client relationships to increase their business sales, referrals and their personal relationships too, along the way. Sooooo, Pearls of Wisdom remains my personal blog, about my child and other creative projects! The Connecting Point (www.freyasnestegg.blogspot.com) is my new blog about relationship gardening, for clients and curious alike. What a relief!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Is Your Account in Overdraft?

How are your relationships doing in this economy? Have you "over-spent" in the good times, cashing in on too many favours but not returning them when it was clearly needed? Did you make deposits steadily into your relationships while the economy was good or did you try to buy your way out of debt, because your business did well in the bull market without having to spend time on an activity without a clearly-defined ROI?

Well, my friend, these are the days of reckoning. The result of those actions will now become clear. If you are struggling in your business; if your business is floundering in these rough, economic times; if your client base has diminished; if you now need to re-invent the marketing wheel in order to find new ways to increase your client base.... then, you are overdrawn my friend.

If referrals are flowing in more than ever, because friends and colleagues want to ensure your business does well, then you have secured solid relationships, your 'savings' account is healthy and you have an excellent cash position.

What can you do today, to solidify relationships with those around you? It's not just what you know, and it's not just who you know, it's who you have given to and who you have served, that will make the world go around.

Think about it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


When in doubt, Robert Fulghum's classic list, "All I Ever Really Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten", is a pretty good rule of thumb. And I think everyone struggles with each one of those items from time to time.

There is one gem that has not made it to the list, however, and that's LISTEN. In order to get along with others, in order to create a Win Win situation in all levels of our life, we need to listen to what the other kids in the sandbox are trying to say. Only then, may we work together to build sandcastles that benefit everyone involved.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Relationship Marketing 101 ~ TIP #3


I was listening to The Black-eyed Peas' song, "Where is the Love?" this afternoon, and couldn't help but think of the connection to doing business. "What?", you say. "How can a song about war, terrorism, racial discrimination, the effect of war on children and so many more heavy topics have anything to do with me?"

Well, my friend, it has everything to do with you.

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I'm gettin' older, y'all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin'
Selfishness got us followin' our wrong direction

Think to your own actions and how you conduct yourself during a sale. And don't get me wrong. If you are a parent, a teacher, a student, an employer, work on an assembly line, a supervisor, a human being ~ you are in sales. We all have opinions and ways of operating. We want others to follow our way of thinking and doing. How we conduct ourselves affects everyone else around us, whether we are an entrepreneur, a parent, or the newest entry-level employee in a company.

Having gotten the fact you are in sales out of the way, let's talk about what it is that you do.

How do you approach sales? Are you going to 'get' the sale, come hell or high water? Are you determined you are right about the issue? Do you have an agenda (x sales in x weeks or else)?

Now don't get me wrong. If you want a new sofa, you need to calculate how many sales (weeks of work) you need in order to afford it. That's one thing. But my question is if the money or the sale is the top issue on your mind? Or do you start your relationship with the client (child, student, teacher, employer, employee, etc.), developing rapport with them as your top priority?

Stats show (read the book, "Go for No") most sales are not made until the 5th time you contact the client.
Selling is not a war, in which one side wins and the other side loses. Selling is a relationship-building exercise, not a drive-by, one-time event. So what are you doing during those initial contacts to nurture the relationship with your prospects? Our actions, our gestures speak louder than words.

Let me leave you with this last thought:

When the economy is bad and times are tough, people’s true colours come out. What will your clients say about yours?

Monday, March 2, 2009

CHRONICLES OF ISLA - I don't love you

Last night, Isla decided to test me. I'm not sure if I passed or failed. She tells me, spontaneously, 10 times a day at least, "I love you, Mommy". Last night, she looked at me with a glint in her eye, and a long up-and-down stare. Then, she quietly said, "I don't love you". I thought my heart would break. It was out of the blue, while we were playing together.

Dumbfounded, I said, "Pardon? What did you say?". No answer. My heart skipped a beat. "Did you say you DON'T love me?". Small smile and a quick nod. I put my best poker face on. I was not going show how devastated I was, even though I knew, deep down, she was toying with me. My sweet, loving, uber-polite, Mommy's girl, is also one of the smartest people I've met lately. She was trying something out, toying with me. This surpassed my shock when she started to call me, "Susan", if I didn't hear her call out "Mommy". Was this borne out of teething pain (when she tends to push my buttons) or some developmental step she was experimenting with?

She looked at me and asked, "Sad face or mad face, Mommy?". When I didn't respond, she asked, "Sad or mad??".

I smiled, "I love you, monkey" and she jumped into my arms, and kissed my neck, saying, "I love you, Mommy".

Whatever it was all about, I'm thankful the game is over!

Relationship Marketing 101 - TIP #2

How do you build better business or personal relationships? It's not rocket science: You need to provide VALUE.

What IS value?

TIP #2:
If watch your tv, computer, open a magazine, listen to your radio, or read a billboard, you may think that value correlates to having the biggest, brightest, shiniest, fastest widget there is.

Or, you may think a higher-priced item has more value.

In actual fact, value is based upon results. Your clients want a specific result. So, TRUE VALUE is being able to provide a result that no one else can.

If you can build trust by providing true value, you are on your way to building better client relationships.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Relationship Marketing 101 - TIP #1

How do you build better business or personal relationships? It's not rocket science, but in the flurry of life, facing deadlines and fighting fires, we forget the basic wisdom Mom taught us all those years ago.

Whether you want to establish a long-term relationship or sell knives door-to-door, you need to make a friend and build trust first.

How do you do that?

TIP # 1:
Listen and ask intelligent questions based on what they have told you. It's not hard, but most people as so busy thinking up the next thing they are going to say, they don't listen to what is being said directly and between the lines.

(c) Susan James, All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Want to Feel better? Try Gratitude!

In these times of economic stress, fast-paced lifestyles, trying to accomplish more with less available time, we barely stop to eat with our families, let alone have time to ourselves to just think, to just 'be'.

The pressure is on to be, do and have more than ever. Just to get started about our modern lifestyle: we eat highly processed foods and sugars, drink gallons of caffeine (Statscan reported the average Canadian drinks 516 cups of coffee and 312 cups of tea yearly), are sleep-deprived, don't exercise enough or at all, spend too much time in front of the tv or computer, and not enough time outdoors. No wonder we are all exhausted and don't feel like getting out of bed in the morning.

There are so many things we can do to improve our lifestyles, if only we had the time or made it a priority. The key is to commit to making, small, easy changes over time.

One small thing we can do is to start our day, spending 60 seconds or more, thinking about what we have to be grateful for in our lives.

No matter what our challenges, there is always someone out there whose lot is worse than ours. Additionally, no matter what our situation, there is always something to be thankful for, even if it's for something simple like the sun shining outside. Recognizing these facts, on a regular basis, will increase our joy, and start our day with a positive outlook. When we start with that mindset, we are better able to cope with stress, accomplish more, and be happier then when we don't.

When I take time to meditate, or even just 3 minutes at the beginning of my day, no matter what ugly challenges I have to face, it always turns out better on the days I've stopped to count my blessings and just 'be' for a short while.

(c) Susan James, All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 16, 2009

Research vs. Action

Today I noticed someone having a conversation about research on Twitter. I only read one comment, and don't know what the chat was all about. The comment itself triggered my thinking about research versus action and when is enough research enough?

Today, with our lifestyle at a nose-bleed pace, it's easy to jump onto a blog, forum or begin a venture without researching. You don't have to look far to find someone spouting their opinion, or quoting another person without having looked far enough to see if that "expert" truly does know what they are talking about. People jump without looking all the time these days.

So there is a need for research.

At what point, however, does research become a hindrance? When does it slow down progress or become an excuse for not moving forward? I know I often feel I need to know more before stepping forward, but now I look at some of the best decisions I've made. They were when I made a leap of faith and "just did it". (See my post from Feb. 13, "Leaping Intuitively"). I stepped forward without a plan, and decided I was going forward. Sometimes it was nerve-wracking, and I wondered if my confidence was unfounded. Certainly in every case, I learned a lot more about myself, and about the laws of the universe. You have to be Rip van Winkle or hiding in a cave for the past 5 years to not have heard about the Laws of Abundance, and The Secret. Used properly, those laws WORK.

I guess what I'm saying is, while there needs to be a balance of research and action, is that the underlying issue? Once you've made a decision to act, you still have time to research. What stops us is not the need for research, but fear itself. We SAY we need to research, but when you look between the lines, it's fear and not research that gets in the way.

Sometimes, fear is masked by reasonable "objections", like "I'm going slowly to do this properly" or "I don't know enough yet to launch my project". And we buy into those objections, our own lies, because it's much harder to acknowledge to ourselves and to others that deep down, we are afraid: of failure, of success, that we are not worthy.

So, when that wee quiet voice in the back of your head says, "I can't do it" or any other negative comment, stop dead in your tracks and counter it. Say, "Yes, I can!" and change that destructive line of thinking. Your day, and your life will improve immeasurably!

(c) Susan James, All Rights Reserved


During our recent stay at a hotel:
"Mommy, every time people come in the door, they need money!"

(c) Susan James, All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 13, 2009

Leaping Intuitively

Sometimes we are faced with unavoidable decisions, decisions where we have to choose whether to open Door A or Door B. Weighing the pros and cons, it can be an exhausting process without any clear route to take. Other times, we make the leap, knowing intuitively it is the journey we must take. We don't know HOW to get there, but get there we must. We dig in our heels, and start to figure out how to make our way.

When I think back to those times: taking on choreographing my first fashion show, producing my first live tv show, moving to Toronto with no job and no place to stay.... those were the best decisions of my life. I had no idea what the next step was. I simply put my faith in my abilities and that life is abundant with enough to go around for everyone. You just have to ask clearly and concisely. And at each step of the way, what I needed presented itself when the time came. And each venture was a success!

I hope this is the case for young Alfie Patten, a young new father at age 13 (link to the news story at the bottom). Luckily, he and his 15 year old girlfriend did not have a premature baby (higher risk for moms under 18); they will have enough to cope with right now. Young Alfie has no idea what he is getting into; he is scared. But he made his choice, knowing deep down he wants to be a good father. And he is walking his talk. What more could you ask from this young man? He has a lot of choices to make, and perhaps each decision along the way won't be so clear cut. Time will tell. He has a tough road to hoe and I wish him all the best.


(c) Susan James, All Rights Reserved

Monday, January 5, 2009

Illness is a Gift

Illness, like any crisis, narrows down your priorities to what's essential. Important is tossed to the wayside, not even making it to the list of priorities. It is a gift.

Until a crisis hits, I may forget my loved ones, and what's most important to me. I am so busy fighting fires, doing what's urgent, but not important, I forget to be and do and say what's essential.

When illness strikes, I am forced to stop, re-evaluate, rest. Whatever it is, and whoever I have neglected has their turn to come to my attention. So often, I don't allow myself the luxury of rest. Illness is our body's way of saying, "You didn't listen to me. It's over until you rest".

When I'm too ill to do things around the house, I'm forced to mull things over. What else can you do with that time? Certainly, on a cellular level and a soul level, it is a choice.

A choice, you ask, outraged? Yes, a choice. Germs are everywhere, and if germs only determined illness, we'd all be ill. We become ill when immune systems are compromised and on a very basic level, we realise we cannot continue down that same path. The way we are doing things no longer works. If our ego ignores this, our subconscious and our bodies take over.

The gift of illness may be different each time. This time around, I realise if I don't take better care of my myself first, how on earth can I care for my daughter, whose every need relies on me? The gift is the sharp reminder things could have been much worse and I need a financial Plan B to what I'm doing now. Without an alternate plan, my loved ones would be left swinging in the wind. Morbid, you may say, but I'm going to receive, embrace and open this gift.

(c) Susan James, All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 2, 2009

For Torran

Well, my little man, you astound me. You have come through so much and little by little you are overcoming your obstacles. I just read you are a whopping 20.5 lbs. Soon, you'll be bigger than Isla, who was 22 lbs at age 20 months corrected and now, one year later, is only 25lbs. Of course, she has stretched upwards, balancing out everything. Never give up, my little man. Blessings and love to you, and all the best to you and your parents this year.