Category Archives: Image & Identity

Online Reputation Protection: 4 Reasons to Care What Google Says About Your Business

Productivity takes a hit if you have to spend time cleaning up a mess.  The bigger the mess, the more time gets wasted on clean-up.  Needless to say, preventing or containing messes can boost productivity and give you peace of mind, which enables you to keep your focus on your top priorities.

That’s why it’s so important to know what’s being said about you and your company online, and who’s saying it.  “Reputation management” refers to being aware of what is being said about you online so that you can work to remove inaccurate or defamatory content, respond to legitimate complaints, and capture positive comments and testimonials.  The term can also refer to techniques to reduce the impact of unfavorable content via search engine optimization techniques.

Let’s be clear: If you’ve done something unethical or have shoddy business practices, you’re better off cleaning up your act and making restitution than trying to suppress legitimate negative comments.  And as discussed in the chapter on online directories, other people have a right to their opinions and to speaking those opinions online. They aren’t required to like your products and they may say so publicly.  Reputation management should never be seen as a way to cover up bad business practices.

That said, it is important to understand how you and your company are viewed in the marketplace so that you can make course corrections as needed or reap the benefits of glowing reviews.  And, inevitably, incorrect information will make its way online, so it’s also important to have a way to become aware of erroneous content and straighten out misunderstandings.  We perform all of these tasks daily in the real world, without really thinking about it.  Reputation management is just the online equivalent of staying plugged into the grapevine to see what others are saying.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Z. Martin

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Filed under Coaching, Gail Z. Martin, Image & Identity

Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan

Today’s guest post is an excerpt from the bestselling business book by Marilyn Suttle and Lori Jo Vest, “Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan” To celebrate the release of the paperback version, the authors are giving away free gifts with purchase here:

This excerpt from chapter 1 is based on interviews with Professional Movers, a world-class moving company located in Walled Lake, Michigan.

Eighty-seven-year-old Gladys has a reputation among her fellow retirement community members. She’s known as a cranky complainer who is impossible to please. But to her surprise, when she called Andrew Androff’s company, Professional Movers, to move her into her new apartment, she was treated with warmth and respect. When her sales rep, Chris, visited her home to quote the job, he noticed her prickly personality and made a conscious decision to focus on her spunk and tenacity. By the end of his visit, Gladys had bonded with Chris and booked the move.

On moving day, there was a mishap. One of the movers accidentally cracked Gladys’s marble tabletop. Andrew knew that she would be furious. Determined to set things right, he prepared himself to let her vent before she could even think about possible solutions. As predicted, Gladys had steam shooting out her ears.

Andrew felt compassion for her while she vented and assured her that his company would have the table repaired, and that if she wasn’t satisfied with the results, he would replace it. Although he continued to reassure her that things would be set right, she was still spitting mad. Gladys wanted to talk to Chris, who had sold her on the company in the first place, and Andrew promised to have Chris call her as soon as he came into the office.

Chris arrived dead tired after a long day filled with meetings with potential new customers. When Andrew told him about Gladys and asked if he’d be willing to call her, Chris responded, ‘‘No way. She’s going to need more than a phone call. I’ll stop by her house on my way home.’’ Chris arrived at Gladys’s house ready to comfort her through her anger and outrage. Then he assured her that he would personally oversee the repair of her table. This calmed her down, and she thanked him for coming over.

Unfortunately, the repair was less than perfect. Andrew knew that he had to set things right, even though doing so would be expensive. He called Gladys and promised that she could meet Chris at the marble store and personally pick out her new marble tabletop. Since Chris knew that Gladys didn’t drive, he called and arranged to pick her up and take her to the store himself.

Gladys is now living at one of metropolitan Detroit’s premier retirement communities with her new marble table. While it cost Andrew and his employee Chris extra time and extra money to make things right, the payoff was outstanding. Gladys tells everyone moving into or out of her assisted living complex that they have to hire Professional Movers if they want to work with the best movers in town. High and persistent praise from such a hard-to-please person attracts attention. As a result, Andrew’s company is now the number one choice of movers for Gladys’s retirement complex. By creating a culture that values compassionate connection with his customers, Andrew has built a referral base that has helped his sales grow by over 40 percent in two years.

This culture of connection has been particularly effective in building a strong business with senior citizens. Seniors often move from their homes to be nearer to their children or to retire to a senior community. Professional Movers has found this population to be a good fit for its particular style of customer service, so it put a great deal of effort into developing the market segment. Everyone at Professional Movers makes a practice of creating a human connection with her clients. The staff members show respect for their clients’ wisdom, experience, and opinions.  They also know how moving affects their clients, both physically and emotionally. It isn’t easy leaving behind the security of their homes, their friendships with neighbors, and the familiarity of their routines. Andrew’s employees are trained to be sensitive to the unique issues of downsizing. They are sensitive to the emotional connection to their precious family heirlooms that senior citizens feel as they leave behind the past. Professional Movers strives to give seniors the sort of service they would receive if their own family were doing the job.

‘‘It’s like we’re their sons,’’ Andrew said with a laugh. ‘‘We get very close with their families. We interview their caregivers and their social workers. It really helps us develop a customized process to address their concerns.’’ This needs-based approach to both customer service and sales has helped the company become the top provider of moving services in metropolitan Detroit’s retirement market.

Enjoy  “Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan” – available at most online booksellers.

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Filed under Business Planning, Guest Blogger, Image & Identity

It’s Difficult to Change

Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

A group of scientists and researchers put five monkeys in a cage, in the middle of the cage was a ladder.  On top of the ladder was a bunch of bananas. When a monkey climbed the ladder to catch the bananas and reached the top, a jet of cold water was thrown on the others who were on the ground.

After a certain time, when a monkey climbed to catch the bananas, the others took him off the lader and spanked him. Later on, no one climbed the ladder anymore, in spite of the temptation of the sweet treat at the top.

Next, one of them was replaced by a new monkey. The first thing he tried to do was to climb the ladder, but he was taken off by the others who spanked him. As he was not able to reach the top, the others did not receive the jet of cold water. After some spanking, the new member of the group stopped trying to reach the bananas anymore.

A second monkey was replaced in the cage and the same thing happened to him. The first one took part, with enthusiasm in the spanking of the new one. A third was replaced and the same thing happened. A fourth, and finally the last one of the members of the group was replaced.

The researchers, then, had in the cage a group of five monkeys who had never received a cold bath through were still spanking the one who tried to reach the bananas. If it were possible to ask any of them why they spanked the one who tried to climb the ladder, surely, among the answers the most frequent one would be:
“I don’t know, but things have always been like this around here.”

Are there actions that you are taking in your business or your life that originally had a life affirming reason for being part of you, but no longer serves you? For example:

  • What did you have for breakfast;
  • How you respond to survey calls;
  • How your respond to solicitation visits;
  • How you respond to requests for help;
  • How you ask for help.

During this week of transition, check out what is on auto-pilot, and why is the banana in your life still hanging there above the ladder?

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Filed under Image & Identity, Intentions, Intuition, Motivation, Personal Transitions, Social Media

Got Your Big Girl Panties Game On?

Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

Put on your Big Girl panties and go for the gold. Women often do business “politics” with pull-up diapers and wonder why they aren’t achieving the goals they set out.
I’ve been wondering what the difference is between how men operate in the workplace and how women operate. In my corporate career, the most challenging job I had was managing a group of data entry employees, which were all women. [Of course, they were all women, it was one of the lowest paying jobs at the company!! – but that’s entirely an different discussion.]  The cat fighting for status was brutal and for years I’ve been trying to perceive what makes a team of men different than a team of women. Yes, it can be partly that we’re from Venus and we’ve been trained to listen to our emotions more than those Martians.

One thing I’ve understood from Games your Mother never Taught You, a book I read in the ‘70’s is that men, more often than women have been able to play team sports – football, basketball, soccer, although that that is gradually changing. They learn from that experience to rely on team-mates, that the team wins or the whole team loses and there is praise for the individual that made a game point for the team. They also learn that a single skirmish is just a single skirmish. It is an opportunity to learn more about how this specific game is played – about the opponents strengths and weaknesses. Without that bedrock perspective, a skirmish takes on an entirely new meaning.

For many women, losing a skirmish is devastating, shameful and cause for revenge or escape. When you lose a bid for a position, especially to another woman, or lose a contract to another firm, even one that played “dirty”, or are assigned to work under an incompetent, annoying boss, what do you do? It seems to be a girl’s response to attempt to sabotage the person who got the job you wanted, post nasty stories about the dirty company on your facebook page or blog, and mean gossip talk your new boss. All those responses are responses of a victim acting from a place of powerlessness. Yes, we live in a male dominated society where the male way of doing things and being in the world is the standard, but what is the female standard that we want to create – that acknowledges our access to feelings and visions and proceeds from knowing that we are powerful business women?

What skirmishes in your life have you allowed to derail you and take you out of the game? If those skirmishes were a long time ago, you might be able to see a bigger picture by now. That’s what those Martian boys have that helps them get a different perspective on each skirmish – they are in the game to win, and losing a skirmish can, if you let it, teach you how to play with more skill, more resources, and more power —if we can remember not to sweat the small stuff, and on the journey to our vision, it’s all small stuff, just minor course corrections as we stay on track toward our life passion to those Big Dreams of yours.  (Check out for more ideas on how women do and can play the business game.)

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Filed under Business Planning, Image & Identity, Inner Coach, Motivation, Sheryl Eldene, Uncategorized

The Wrong Thing Well -OR- the Right Thing Poorly?

Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

I’ve learned an important lesson this quarter, and it’s about the “Hard Work” part of the Big Dreams and Hard Work we talk about here. I’ve always been a focused, hard worker – you know that “Protestant Work Ethic” idea?  And I have a strong confidence in my own ability to do anything I set my mind to, and I pretty much always have done that (except for my forray into raising rabbits – I’ll talk about that next week).

The curse of being able to do a lot of stuff, like code web sites, sew clothing, can beans, grind wheat, make bread from scratch, clean house, create gardens, train dogs… that it just isn’t possible to enjoy all those things. I’m not a professional seamstress or a skilled web designer, but I often get myself caught in a “should” of since-I-know-how-to-do-that, I SHOULDN’T pay-someone-else syndrome. I know one thing:

“Many high performers would rather do the wrong thing well than do the right thing poorly. And when they do find themselves in over their head, they’re often unwilling to admit it, even to themselves, and refuse to ask for the help they need.”

I’ve been stuck for the last several weeks, trying to do some wrong things, and struggling to do the right things poorly.  Last week, I hired a professional to do some things that I know how to do, albeit poorly, and it’s an enormous relief to my schedule, to my creativity, and to my day.

What on earth have I been ‘thinking’ all these years? What are you able to do, albeit poorly that you could ask an expert to help you with?

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Filed under Balance, Image & Identity, Sheryl Eldene, Strategy

Flash your · · · — — — · · ·

By Sheryl Eldene, MBA, MA

Before the era of 911, everyone knew the Morse Code for SOS, (· · · — — — · · ·).  Since we don’t use that anymore, I’m giving SOS a new meaning:


Master these 7 Signs of Strength and the help can come in the form of improved relationships, greater joy and connection with yourself, better self-care, enhanced communication, and greater success toward your goal.  Over there on the left under “Author Audios” you’ll find an exercise to help you identify your own unique character strengths, be sure to give that a listen today.

  1. Respond instead of react. When we react, we are usually acting from defense and from weakness.  If you respond from your strength, the response is very different.  For example, one of my character strengths is curiosity.  When my husband lands on my for leaving dirty dishes in the sink, my reaction is to recount all the time he leaves hairs in the shower AND junk in the garage, I’ve pretty much launched WWIII and have no idea what any sign of strength might be.  However, if I can respond from my strength of curiosity, wondering why this particular afternoon, those dishes where a difficulty, then I have launched a discussion that might not be all lovey-dovey, but can result in my putting those dishes on the counter on Monday’s so he has space to prepare for his evening with his buddies with the munchies he promised to bring.
  2. Identify and learn from your judgemnts. Judgments are often a reflection or our own inner needs and values. Really, when I judge you as negligent and rude when you use the merge lane to jump in from on ME, I’m acting from my own value of patience, of order, and of structure.  It’s a lot easier to talk to myself as you try to cut in front of the line by saying that “Yes, structure and order are important to me – not so much to you, and I see that fast and me-first is more important to you.  I wonder what part of my life would benefit from more order – my kitchen counters, probably”.
  3. Reach out when you need it. Asking for help is not a weakness.  Although our country is build on independence, and that is a strength, you can also use the strength of community, sharing, and mutual support.  That support must go both ways for each party to feel strong.
  4. Keep your word – especially to yourself. Any strength put on like a coat just for company isn’t really a strength, it’s a show.  If you have a value to keeping your word to others, but fail to exercise, avoid sugar, go to bed early, whatever, because when you cheat on you no one knows, then your word is just for show, and your heart suffers.
  5. Take time for yourself. This isn’t narcissistic or indulgent – it’s absolutely necessary.  The airlines got it right when they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before putting on your child’s – because if you don’t, the child and you might not make it.  Caring for yourself helps you care for others better, and models for those around you what a healthy lifestyle looks like.
  6. Know what you want. While meandering through life is fun, without knowing what you want, you’ll just get more of what you have today, which might be just fine.  Take time to figure out what floats your boat, not what should float your boat, but what really does.
  7. Don’t take things personally, even if it sounds personal, it usually isn’t.  As a matter of fact, I believe that we are simply not capable of judging others.  If I tell you you’re beautiful, I’m really saying that you have a feature, or a manner, or a style of dressing that I’d like – which is about me, not you.  If I tell you that you’re fat, I’m really saying that I have a value of slim-ness that I haven’t achieved and I’m afraid that I won’t achieve that – otherwise your shape wouldn’t even get my attention, let alone get energy for me to say something.

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Filed under Balance, Image & Identity, Inner Coach, Personal Transitions, Sheryl Eldene, Uncategorized

The Golden Rule

by Tish Times

I have lots of meetings. I meet with prospective Corporate Members, I meet with job seekers, I engage with vendors, I talk to entrepreneurs. I make it a point to learn something from each interaction that I have.

Recently I met with a company who was trying to sell me on their product. I had some additional appointments in the vicinity of their location, so I asked to meet at their office. The meeting was scheduled for 8:00 a.m., I arrived about ten minutes early. The lobby was open so I took a seat to await the arrival of the prospective vendor. Around 8:10 the gentleman that I was anticipating rushed through the door, papers spilling out of his briefcase, tie untied, obviously very discombobulated. I understand that things happen, and people run late occasionally, so I didn’t comment. He greeted me and we proceeded into his office and sat down. He began shuffling papers around on his desk, attempting to make room for us to conduct our business. As he continued his housekeeping, I examined the surroundings. I noticed that the man’s suit was wrinkled, as though he had grabbed it from a hamper on his way out of the door. There were piles and stacks of “stuff” surrounding the small office sitting on the floor or atop file cabinets that were either unused or overfull. When we began our conversation, it was evident that he hadn’t prepared for our meeting. I found myself answering questions that had been asked at our last encounter; in addition, it was as though he hadn’t acted on any of the information that I had previously provided. Quite obviously I had wasted my morning and there was a horrible impression left from that interaction.

My first inclination was to make a quick judgment based on my experience, however I decided to make this a learning opportunity instead. I pondered how I felt when I was early, but my prospective vendor did not respect my time. It caused me to consider the importance of making my clients feel valued. I then thought about the negative sensation that I had in the office. Instead of having a sense of calm, I felt very uncomfortable. Had this person known me at all, he would have been aware of the great appreciation I have for a neat office! My thoughts immediately went to the type of atmosphere I want to create for my customers. If I felt uneasy in those surroundings, I am sure others have had the same experience. I wonder how much business is lost because of the experience we provide (or fail to provide) for our potential clients. What are you doing to create an environment conducive for great experiences in your business? Even in a virtual environment, you create the ambiance that may inspire your prospective clients to buy, your potential employees to accept your offer, or your interviewer to select you. The time you take to prepare for a meeting and obtain knowledge of the person you will be connecting with will speak volumes to them concerning your desire to meet their needs.

I may not do business with the individual to met with last week, but I will never forget the experience. I gained a whole new appreciation for the Golden Rule. I will create the environment for my clients that I hope companies will create for me. Find out what your clients, want and need then give it to them; otherwise be willing to refer them to a company who will. They will respect you more and will come back when they have a need you are able to meet. Although I may not do business with my “teacher” from last week, I will provide feedback (to them – not to the world) as to why I made a decision to go elsewhere. When you receive criticism, don’t take it personally, but use it as an opportunity for growth and to repair areas of your business or life that might need attention. Use each encounter as an opportunity to get better; and don’t let the negative feedback that might come periodically make you bitter. As my mentor says, ‘When you know better, you can do better”. Make a decision today to be a lifelong learner.

Tish Times is the owner and Chief Executive Officer of HireTimes Career Group. Tish is an expert on career and business redesign. To receive her articles on Working Your Passion, confidence building for career and business strategies, and mindset change, visit and join the mailing list. For coaching or speaking engagements; contact 877-546-7408 or

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Filed under Guest Blogger, Image & Identity

Your Calling Card

by Jacqueline Wales

If you’re an author, why build a website? Well simply put, it’s your calling card. The place you want people to come to read your excerpts, to interact with you, and to build your credibility. But not just any website. You want it to reflect you. Your voice, your spirit, your message.

You’ve just spent months, maybe even years, to write and develop your book. Bookstores unfortunately, are turning into Dodos, and Amazon rules the waves! That means it’s up to you to drive traffic to your book. But it’s not enough just to have a website, you have to do what you can to make sure people visit. You need to start connecting to other blogs and websites to raise your visibility. Write articles, discuss your book, share the content, comment on other people’s books, blogs and build your network of other writers and readers.

Selling books is a business. Your business is to make sure you reach out to as many people as possible so they know you exist. When people come to your site, get them to opt-in and subscribe to your list, and in return give them an excerpt from your book, or some other content that is perceived as value.

There are millions of online resources and websites dedicated to writers. Seek them out and emulate the author websites you admire. Successful authors carefully and strategically build their campaign for exposure. That’s why having a website is essential to success.

Jacqueline Wales is the author of The Fearless Factor and When The Crow Sings. Both available on Amazon, and from the author at She invites you to visit and download an excerpt from The Fearless Factor.

You can listen to the audio from when Jacqueline was a guest of Blog Host, Gail Z. Martin’s Shared Dreams podcast here:

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Filed under Guest Blogger, Image & Identity, Marketing

Building trust through C’s

By Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

As we all prepare our plans for second quarter, I thought this might be a good time to think about the essence of personal marketing.  Since marketing is about relationship, here are eight key areas to think about as you build trust into those relationships:
What are the top three character traits you look for to build trust in business relationships?

  • Clarity (People trust the clear and mistrust the ambiguous)
  • Compassion (People put faith in those who care beyond themselves)
  • Character (People notice those who do what is right over what is easy)
  • Competency (People have confidence in those who stay fresh, relevant and capable)
  • Commitment (People believe in those who stand through adversity)
  • Connection (People want to follow, buy from, and be around friends)
  • Contribution (People immediately respond to results)
  • Consistency (People love to see the little things done consistently)

Happy Spring to you all as you set those intentions for Spring.  Let us know what characteristics are important to you….

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Filed under Image & Identity, Intentions, Marketing, Sheryl Eldene

An Awesome Attitude Can Make a BIG Difference

by Deborah Shane

How important is attitude?

There is an expression that “when you look at challenge differently, it starts looking different to you”. There are a few people lately that are amazing examples to me of “attitude in action” in dealing with their own life altering situations. They are going through personal and professional crisis that really can try a person’s faith and belief, but they persevere with grace and poise. Some days they are just not ok and good, but they share that with their support team anyway.

All around us there are people we know in crisis and change, from jobs to homes, to health, family and finances.Which people in your sphere’s have that “awesome attitude” and how can that make a BIG difference not only to them but to others?

I know for me, the past four years has been a relentless series of changes on all the areas I mentioned above and yet I am choosing to stay positive, keep evolving, growing and moving forward. There are many things that are NOT the same, but I still have love, health, family, friends, opportunity and fun in my life.

So what is attitude?

T-time management

What defines your attitude? Never underestimate how it can help someone you don’t know or haven’t met yet!

Coming Early 2011-

Career Transition-make the shift
The 5 Steps for Successful Career Reinvention

Deborah Shane, is an author, entrepreneur, speaker and expert. She is the founder and Chief Motivator, Educator and Catalyst at Train With Shane, which delivers business education and professional development through speaking, events and training in the career, sales, social marketing, and motivation fields. Deborah is also founder of the Women’s Empowerment Series Conferences and The Career Transition Series Intensives. Her new book Career Transition Make the Shift-The 5 Steps to Successful Career Transition comes out early in 2011. Reach Deborah through,, her blog on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn at Deborah Shane, and at

You can listen to the audio from when Deborah was a guest of Blog Host, Gail Z. Martin’s Shared Dreams podcast here:

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Filed under Guest Blogger, Image & Identity, Inspiration