Thursday, June 24, 2010

Perspective on business

It is important for all of us to get out of our own heads to see perspective on our life and our business. When working in our small businesses or non-profit, we forget to take stock of the 360 degree viewpoints around what we do.

Look to mentors, peers, family, friends and other community members to give us an unbiased view (when possible) on the work we do. Realize that the way you see yourself is often quite different from the way others see you.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Growth & Viewpoints

“Growth, in some curious way, I suspect, depends on being always in motion just a little bit, one way or another.” Norman Mailer’s words seem particularly relevant to our community of Seal Beach. No matter what happens in the larger community, there is steady motion, sometimes forward, other times backwards, perhaps even sideways.

As we enter the heart of the “visitor season,” the summer months, what is in and what is out? What has been happening with the business community? Change has happened in the Shops at Rossmoor as Panera Bread, Subway and Yogurtland all have indicated they will be coming to the center. Main Street has said goodbye to the AT&T store and welcomed another clothing shop, along with Ensemble, the new boutique, next to the Crema CafĂ©. These new businesses will definitely serve both visitors and residents.

Our restaurants and hotels seem to be doing quite well with high occupancy and solid sales. If you are having out of town visitors, be sure to check them into the Pacific Inn, Hampton Inn or Ayres Hotel – they all have great rates and are perfect for visiting family. Make a commitment to dine out in one or more of our restaurants. Try something new and if you like it, write a Yelp or other online review to help bring more visitors to our town.

With this in mind, the Chamber marketing committee has developed a vistor’s rack card which will be strategically located at airports, hotels and visitor centers in our region. We hope to continue to drive new customers to our centers of shopping. D on’t forget to use a Seal Beach City map to help navigate our town or to share with visitors. Also, be on the look out for our new 2010-11 Community and Visitor’s Guide, which is being produced by the Chamber again. Full of resources, information, business and content, it will be the official guide to our business community for the next two years.

On the governmental front, we were hoping for some closure to the Title 11, the comprehensive zoning code. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as it was sent back to the Planning Commission for further consideration. It should be of concern that there seems to be resistance to merchants advertising and marketing their businesses with A-frame signs. Further, there seems to be growing discontent with our City Manager, David Carmany from at least one councilman. From the Chamber perspective, Mr. Carmany has been one of the best things that has happened to City Hall. He has consistently been focused on improving our community and moving city staff to a greater degree of customer service to everyone.

With the Car Show and EDGE (Educate, Develop & Grow the Economy) Seal Beach Seminar series, over, the Chamber is ready for the annual Summer Concert Series. It is going to be a wonderful series and as other communities are wondering how they can afford to provide this kind of free summer entertainment, our Chamber and town is producing ten concerts this year.

Look out for bands like Sligo Rags, Nobody Cares, Emperor, the Elm Street Band and locals like Eddie Montana and Robbie Armstrong. Previews of some of the bands will be in the Sun’s “Hot Ticket.” New this year will be our vendor village, in the concrete slab area next to Eisenhower Park. This should give residents and visitors more access and seating in the grass of the park. Look also for a Main Street sidewalk sale kick off on July 7th, the first of the Summer Concert Series concerts. Be sure to shop local and have friends come to town on those Wednesdays. Use the beach lots at 8th and 10th to reduce parking impacts for residents too!

Part of the mission of the Chamber is to “enhance the quality of life in Seal Beach.” As Mailer states, movement is critical. The Chamber is proud of the movement we produce in the community. Major events and partnerships are what give part of the magic to our city. It is always a great time to look for events like the LIONS annual Fish Fry in July and the Rotary’s Fishing Derby and new Chili Cook Off in August.

Finally, remember that the Chamber, our members and volunteers, produces the Summer Concert series. It is through sponsorship, vendors and our member dues that the event is provided as a free benefit to all. Your connection to our merchants helps us keep all of it happening! Enjoy your summer and we look forward to seeing you at our events all season long. As always, shop local!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Memorial Day weekend

So here are some photos from my trip to Rehoboth. My best friend Christopher and I on the dance floor along with my client Ross, 'topher and his boyfriend Michael (my new Boo!) Such a good time.

Reminds me that we have to all celebrate friendships, particularly those which are like family. Christopher in particular and I have been through a great deal - far to much to share here, but suffice it to say, if you could go through it, we have. LOL! Doesn't he look amazing? If only you knew his diet...

What was also great was to work with my client Ross on his vision of changing iPhone applications and technology development. With some work together, we have outlined a draft business plan - certainly enough to clarify his vision. It was such a pleasure to work in my area of core competency.

Technologies & false economies

Do you wonder about the nature of technology as it affects our lifestyle in work? Much ado is made of the labor saving devices like cars, cell phones, computers and other tools which allow us to connect, create and manage not only our lives, but those of others as well. Is it really all that great?

"U.S. labor statistics show that while aggregate output in the banking industry increased from $281,105 to $408,218 million, or by 45%, in real terms between 1992 and 2002, banking employment remained within the range of 3,151 to 3,313 million labor hours in the same period. In other words, the average number of labor hours per dollar of banking output fell by more than 30% within this period (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2005). A similar phenomenon happened in the UK: whereas total outstanding consumer loans increased by 195% between 1992 and 2002, total employment in the banking and finance industry increased by only 39% in the same period (Office for National Statistics 2005). There are two commonly cited explanations for the contraction in banking employment: banking consolidation caused by the deregulation of interstate expansion and the emergence of labor-saving technologies." - (excerpted from AllBusiness a D&B division)

So we have more work being done by fewer people. On the surface, a good thing. Yet, I doubt those people were being paid huge premiums for the quantity of work. Seth Godin, in his book Linchpin, writes a great deal about the change of the human workforce in the factory economy. Many of the things we now own make it easier simply for us to work. At the same time, one of the leading leisure activities is shopping - the acquisition of more "stuff."

Do we need more? Shouldn't we look more to create both greater art / creativity in our work product and be tied down to the "factory" of a process less?

The car lets us run errands, it also obligates us to a variety of departures from our home and office. Our phone has become a tether - no longer simply a device to send or receive calls, it has become a social lifeline. With the advent of the Facebook & Twitter era, our most mundane behavior has become an exhibitionist impulse which must be satisfied. We foursquare, post and tweet about the greatest inane mundanities of life. Has this technology made us more effective or simply more dependent on it and the other "stuff" of our lives?