Thursday, July 30, 2009


"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." - Robert Frost
When considering options in your business and your life, realize that it is not the "big" decisions that make the difference, but all the accumulated smaller decisions. Make sure you evaluate not only the choice of the moment, but the impact of the choice down the road. What will clients, employees and competitors think of your choice? How will it impact the way you deliver your products or services? So take a moment and reflect.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Community in Change - Article for Sun Newsapapers

“The best political community is formed by citizens of the middle class.” So said Aristotle, and this is particularly relevant to our community in Seal Beach. It seems as though we are at a crossroads with many things in our town: business growth and type, how we participate with other communities and what we find most important about our town’s character. Our community in many ways is solid middle class; retirees, working families and entrepreneurs make up a core of our town.
Most of us would likely agree that Seal Beach is “Mayberry by the Sea” – quaint, small town, conservative to change, a bit older than the median, relatively well heeled and beachy. Or is it? When we look more closely, Seal Beach has some major industry players present – Boeing, Clean Energy, Energy Tubulars, Affliction Clothing, shopping centers and major destination restaurants. It also has a new younger crowd of entrepreneurial business owners – just look at our Main Street and other centers of shopping. The City and community in College Park East has concerns about composting at the Joint Forces Training Base, parks and getting their children more programming. They aren’t just an afterthought in our community; they are a dynamic part of it. There is a new energy in town. The Chamber and the City are even redoing the official City map because it hasn’t been redone since 1986!
Sunset Beach has made it clear that they want to be part of Seal Beach rather than Huntington Beach, because we match their vision of independence, creativity, community involvement and nature. I for one am thrilled with the idea that our town would become more diverse and expand to encompass Sunset when our state and our nation is in a phase of recession. The Chamber of Commerce is very interested in bringing more businesses into our sphere of influence and hopefully that will happen. By the same token, do we want to restrict business in the Main Street Specific Plan area? Maybe not. We are just beginning to see vacancies on Main Street get filled in. Perhaps we should talk about what we want in our town rather than what we don’t. The Sun even requested for weeks information from the community on what is needed. We seem to want to have that discussion because we are interested in staying in Seal Beach.
Our City is in the process of major public works projects like the new Fire Station, paving, water and sewer projects when the State can’t seem to find two pennies to rub together and are slashing programs in every service area. That doesn’t seem so “small town” to me. We are a region preparing for the next 40 years of continued high quality of life. It certainly makes me want to invest in our town by building business and buying property here.
Why is all of this true? Because the people of Seal Beach are engaged in a uniform action based on a simple premise: “Let’s make Seal Beach better!” Though people may disagree with how we make it better, at least we are engaged in the process. So whether you want more restaurants or less, more special events or fewer, more visitors to the beach or our parks, the thing about change is it is up to you. Let us all grow more together than apart as the character of our town develops into not just quaint, but vibrant as well. As always, please remember to shop local and enjoy the Summer Concert Series!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it. - Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Do you ever wonder about the timing of events? I know I do. Sometimes it seems so serendipitous a given event or connection.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Effort of Kindness

When I took a year to get my MBA, we went through an exercise where everyone in the class had to get across a wall. We couldn't help lift the person over and you could only help one person each. This is me helping the last person up and over by hanging off the wall and then ab crunching them up over the top. It was a powerful moment for me. It taught me something simple - we all need to act from kindness to others. I happened to have the physical strength to help the last person up and over. They in turn had to let me do so. Kindness is an effort to share the self with others without expecting any return result. It also is an action which precludes some degree of pride on both sides.
Just yesterday I was walking along the Pier in Seal Beach with one of my trainers, Vidal. I noticed a friend and fellow entrepreneur who was clearly not having the best day. Upon my return walk I sat down with her and we shared with each other some of the challenges we both were facing. It was a moment of kindness for both of us. We both were reminded that we need to just take a moment, be kind to one another and get back out there and keep "eating the elephant one bite at a time." We seem often seem remarkably pulled together on the outside, but we all have our problems and all have the "wall" at some point to get across. At other times, we are the one who can help another over. So expend some effort towards kindness.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Types of People

"The world is populated by three types of people: those who make thing happen, those who watch them happen and those who wonder what just happened." - Power & Influence: The Rules Have Changed.

I have often said something very similar with my family: "There are those who create events, those who attend and those who are simply not invited." Which one are you?


Is the art of intelligent dialogue gone? I wonder in meetings with clients or time spent with friends, that often meaningful dialogue is looked down upon. "Chatting" about the latest in trends, fashion, politics or views might be entertaining, but does not always provide something which nourishes us and our intellect. I have to say that I received an incredibly kind correspondence from a mentor today via email. Interestingly enough, our virtual conversation was one of the most positive and stimulating I have had in some time. Make a point to have your comments have meaning or at least be silent and listen - we should often consider more fully what we say prior to actually saying it. Take a moment, think, reflect and then share.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Success & Happy Birthday Dad!

Happy Birthday Dad! It is pretty amazing to think about my father Alan who stands here holding one of his trophies for his vineyard and winery. He is on the far left. He has attained levels of success in his winery and in art that I am proud of and deeply admire. A prostate cancer survivor and a man of deep indomitable will, he is truly the definition of an entrepreneur and artist. His story has been a one of creation, risk, adventure and ideas. He taught many lessons, one of which is demonstrated here - deserving success is worthy of celebration. He has never worked harder (though as I child I remember much multi-tasking: single parent/father, college professor, mentor, housekeeper, cook, chief bottle washer, artist, storyteller and master adventurer), so he says, than he does currently in his vineyard and tasting room, but as one of his octogenarian customers reminded him, "and aren't you lucky to be able to work like you do." It is with great love, affection, friendship and commitment that I dedicate this blog to him - his successes, his emotions, his insight, his lessons and the incredible journey which has been his life to date. Much love to you & again, happy birthday!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


When considering money, equity, time and sweat/effort - what is truly fair? It has been an interesting last two days as work has taken me to our friends/clients home in Palm Springs. Man is it HOT here! I can see how this is truly the desert. What does come to mind is the issue of fairness and "even-handedness" in all relationships.

Not only do most of us work, many of us are in relationships with significant life partners. Over the course of our lives we both create and destroy capital and resources. How much do we each participate in each other's successes & failures? How can this be categorized? One thing is clear, if you have it in writing before you needed it, it likely will proceed most smoothly. If you are currently in a business relationship with someone - make sure you have a clear operating agreement or at least a outline of responsibilities and equity. Don't leave things to chance, or chance will tear you apart!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Balance of Power

It is always questionable in community and small business where the power lies. Is it with government? Residents? Business? Clearly not business, at least not in Seal Beach. Voters control the local politics and those who are most interested in what is happening tend to begin to steer the discussion. All components of community must act with some harmony in order for the societal contract and effective interaction of all of the triad to work. What does this mean? Any one of the three can cause harm to the other two, but only through cooperation are optimal results made. A perfect example of harmony was made last night about solar power. All speakers and council felt that solar was the way to go - by zeroing out fees for small residential systems. Thus, all benefit - small business, residents and even the government (in the form of positive press). In an example of disharmony, government is trying to control the types of businesses within the Main Street specific plan area. This governmental interference in free market does not benefit the community equally. It harms business growth and does not address the critical issues of noise and alcohol consumption that bothers some residents. Balance was not achieved and as a result, less than optimal results were achieved - poor staff direction and an uncertain community. Balance, harmony, results.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Social Networking - Web 3.0

What is the next step of the web? What social networking do you use to help keep your business afloat? Let me know!

The photo to the left represents a trap many of us look to - how to get the $ without being "snapped" - how do you keep ahead? I know I am always looking. . .

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Luxury of Space

This is from my friend & client - David Jefferys' email and it seemed very apropos. If you need a brand check up, let me know, I will put you in touch with him!

One of my favorite stores is Barnes & Noble.

Yes, they have lots of books, music and movies. But what I love most is that it feels like I've been invited to hang out - big comfortable chairs, coffee and snacks.

Did I mention the big comfortable chairs?

Well it turns out, I love Barnes & Noble because they've created a "Being Space."
Sociologist Ray Oldenburg first conceived of the "Being Space" in his 1990 book The Great Good Place and described it as a place where people hang out, take it easy and "commune with friends, neighbors, and whoever else shows up." A place where you can enjoy a cup of coffee with friends, people watch, read a book or play a computer game.

Think about it. Starbucks, The Apple Store, the Laundromat where you can watch a movie while you wash. It seems like the retailers have caught on.

But what about the service industry?

Imagine this - what if clients or business friends and vendors were invited to stop by your office. Maybe they're in between meetings or just need a place to catch their breath.

They could grab a cup of coffee, hop on your wireless high speed internet (or use the computer in your open work station), make some phone calls or grab a book off your bookshelf.

Do you think they'd take you up on your offer? Does it say something about your brand that you've created a space where they could? Would it alter or intensify their opinion of you and what working with you might be like?

What do you think - could you create a being space?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Birthday - Papa

My stepfather, Jim is an amazing man. He has been in real estate for 40+ years, a proud father of two (three if you count me!) and grandfather of two. I am lucky to have had him in my life for 32 years. Always ready with a smile, a professional demeanor and good cheer - he has known great success and also some great losses. It is strange to think of him as a stepfather anymore, he is simply one of my parents as he has been there really my whole life. Happy birthday to him! Plus, he has hardly changed in the last 32 years. Maybe a bit more "hitch in his getup and go" and a bit more salt than pepper in his hair, but his mind is just as agile and sharp. Quick with a turn of phrase and always such a giver, we are all lucky to have him in our lives. Can't wait to have dinner with him on Sunday!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ancillary Jobs & Supporting Roles

When looking to their own business, entrepreneurs often make the mistake of thinking they are the sole reason for its success. This is often wrong.
What provides a level of freshness and resilience to a venture is differing perspective and diversity. Make sure in your operational team you have diversity - not just in ethnic categories but things like age, gender, sexual orientation and spiritual views. These provide insights not simply for the business but also the customers.
Remember as well that many of these jobs are not the flash of energy that brings a lot of attention to your "store" but rather communicates the competency and excellence. These "ancillary" or supporting roles are key times when you have the ability to differentiate from your competition.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Reflecting - the day after

What is our independence? Why do we as a country celebrate it? Should we reflect on what it means to be free? Are we really free in our society?

I chose this image not only because it is provocative, but because it has an intriguing duality - sensual & sexual vs. artistic & composition. We take for granted that we have the right to free speech, the right to assemble and the right to choose many things in our country. Other nations, like Iran, are in the midst of redefining what their independence means to them. This image could not be published in that society without consequence - for that matter, I couldn't live with my partner in an open way. Yet, our government would control what I put into my body (and thus what I do to it) and who I can marry. When does control interfere with freedom? Who decides this? When is too much freedom dangerous? I find our country moving in an odd lurching step - both looking for more equality (equal healthcare for all), yet denying equality (no, I can't marry my partner). Strange that we should be so concerned about the "rights" when really aren't we talking about "privileges?" I am not sure that everyone deserves the right to health care. I am equally unsure that everyone deserves the right to have children - yet there is no limit on having children. Are we in society protecting the right things? Or are we simply trying to appease the masses?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

A funny conversation with my partner:
"Happy July 4th honey - you lost." - American
"We let you win and we didn't really want you anyway!" - British
Ah, couplehood. :-)

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Day before

The day before the 4th of July (the 3rd - obviously) was busy in retail food and bikes for sure! Really moved through the customers. It is interesting to see the focus on value rather than price. Those who are looking for price may be disappointed, but true value comes from quality. For small business, we need to constantly strive for the value not just the price point. I would pay $4 for a great cup of coffee, but not $2 for a lousy one (or at least I would never be back.) What is your value proposition? Are you capitalizing on the holiday?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Holiday Rush - Open or Close?

Holidays provide ample opportunity to make sales when you are in business. Many people may be off, but they may also be looking for an opportunity to spend their money! Make sure that if you have goods or services which may be in demand during a holiday - be available to take it. Re-evaluate if you should be open or closed. If you are closed, could you do something which would advance your business? Take an extra bit of time with your team or your key customers. Have a BBQ, host an open house or incorporate the celebrations into your business life. Happy early Independence Day for those who are reading from the US!