Sunday, April 26, 2009

You need your customers more than they need you

While vacationing in St. John, my husband and I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Meyer, the proprietor for "The Lime Inn". We discussed the economy and inquired how the recession had affected his restaurant. Without hesitation he replied, “Business has been slow.”

Vacationers are traveling to St John, especially now that it is spring, but they are spending all of their time at the beach. Retail sales, restaurant activity and chartered excursions are suffering. I understood spending your entire vacation at the beach, but couldn’t comprehend why tourists were not eating at the restaurants. Groceries on the island are quite expensive (about double what I pay in Milwaukee); since food is expensive anyway, why go to all the extra trouble of shopping, cooking and cleaning up?

Upon further investigation, we discovered travelers are not buying food on the island; they are bringing it with them. They pack steaks, chicken, and sandwich fixings all in an ice chest then check it as one of their checked bags.

A couple of days later, we visited Richard's restaurant, The Lime Inn, which surprisingly was filled to capacity. The group ahead of us was told there would be an hour wait ‘til they could be seated. They left. Richard spotted us, apologized for the lack of tables then offered to have us sit at the server bar or the customer bar saying, "I need you more than you need me." We choose the server bar. This ended up being one of our favorite vacation experiences. Katy, the bartender, not only served us our food, but acted as a quasi tour guide recommending vacation hotspots and giving us insight into what it’s like living in St. John. Plus, the food was excellent. I highly recommend the Shay’s seafood sausage appetizer.

With discount chains such as Wal-Mart, Costco, and McDonalds pushing out businesses in every major city and small town, it is important in a down economy to distinguish your business through customer service. Take note of Richard’s sage observation "I need your more than they need me.”

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"How to rob a bank"

Willie Porter has the banking crisis figured out. Click Here. Go to media player. Listen to song 01.

Enough said.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tips on maintaining a stress free life

Since returning from vacation, I’ve been contemplating what I can do to minimize the stress in my life on a day-to-day basis. I came up with the following list of items I currently try to employ:

1. Get enough sleep; I need at least 7 hours of solid sleep to feel rested, not edgy the next day

2. Live below my means; I sleep better when I’m not worried about paying the bills

3. Exercise – I try to workout at least 3 times a week; exercise helps me sleep better

4. Spend at least a half hour each night unwinding with a good book (even DH has noticed I get cranky when I don’t have a good book to read)

5. Take a sick day when I’m sick – I’m not very good at this one

6. Cut back on caffeine; drink more water – I used to drink coffee in the morning, soda in the afternoon. Now I skip the soda and drink water, I’ve noticed I’m not nearly as jittery

7. Cook on the weekends – eat the leftovers during the week. I rarely take the time to cook during the week; if I don’t have something already made I usually end up eating junk food.

8. Keep a couple of safety pins in my purse in case of a wardrobe malfunction

9. Don’t drink coffee while driving unless I want to wear the coffee all day

10. To minimize scheduling conflicts use only one calendar

11. If a home repair job is out of my or DH’s area of expertise (plumbing comes to mind) hire a professional

12. Think thru an invitation before saying yes; especially events that occur during the work day; for me it’s stressful getting out of work on time, finding the event (directions are not my forte), and searching for a parking spot

13. I stopped using computerized photo software and bought a photo reader

14. Use mapquest; if going to a job interview, drive by the interview site the night before

15. Admit mistakes right away; I heard this one at a seminar years ago. I have since found it is much better to admit a mistake right away rather than worrying about it for days. I’ve also found many times what I think is a huge deal is either not the big deal I thought it was or is something that can easily be fixed.

I also came up with three things I could or should do in the future:

1. Take a computer trouble shooting class. Nothing gets my blood boiling faster, that when something goes wrong with my computer.

2. Cut back on sugar

3. Buy a GPS system (I really am terrible with directions)

What are your tips for maintaining a stress free life?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A one word explanation

DH posed the following question to our financial planner?

If you could explain what has happened to the economic and financial markets over the past 6 months in one word, what would that word be?

His answer:


Definition from

Main Entry
: recalibrate
Part of Speech: v
Definition: to correct a measuring process by checking or adjusting again in comparison with a standard
Example: The archaeologist recalibrated radiocarbon dates to adjust them to calendar years, using results gained from dendrochronology

Note: He did not choose the word "crisis", even though what occurred is, or at least was, a crisis. He feels the media overuse the word; calling everything a crisis, so he avoids using it.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Stress-Free Zone

Last week, while vacationing on the Caribbean island of St. John, I experienced what may have been the most relaxing day of my life; I guess you could say I was in a stress-free zone. What factors contributed to this state of bliss?

- The mental clarity achieved hiking to the beach

- The meditating lull of the sea

- The beauty of the blue sky

- Nothing more taxing to do than watch the palms of the palm trees sway in the wind

- The poetry of the novel I was reading; The Blind Assassinwhich is Margaret Atwood at her best

- The ability to finally shut off the nagging voice that’s constantly reminding me of all the things I need to do

As my vacation came to a close, I couldn’t help but contemplate why it took ‘til day five of my vacation to achieve this stress-free zone. Here are a few things I could have done differently to help my vacation get off on a stress free note:

- Don’t over-promise. We were scheduled to spend our first night of travel in Chicago. I had promised my husband I'd leave work early, so we could get an early start, knowing my boss always keeps me ‘til the last possible minute the day before I leave for vacation. Sure enough, I was given a last minute project that kept me working much later than anticipated. This set the tone for an impatient husband, a hurried exit and several forgotten last minute items.

- Don't multi-task. The night before our vacation, I packed my bags while talking on the phone. Can you see what's coming – yes, more forgotten items. I recently read that multitasking never works. I think this is a true statement; at least it never seems to work for me.

- Take advantage of technology. Before leaving, I had decided not to add cell phone coverage for the Virgin Islands to my cell phone plan; I was unhappy with the projected extra fees and roaming charges. This was a mistake. Pay phones don't really exist anymore and if they do they are in disrepair. This caused all sorts of complications with our car rental company, our villa caretaker and our airline. We returned home to find messages from all parties on our home phone providing valuable information about flight changes and meeting arrangements. I'm sure the parties above assumed they were leaving messages on our cell phone. Also, it would have been easier to book excursions and make restaurant reservations with a cell phone rather than having to rush back to our villa for confirmation messages.

- Simplify your routine. After a full day of travel, arrange for an easy meal the night of arrival; either eat in or go to a restaurant within walking distance. Also, on what was the most relaxing day of my life we had planned a late afternoon hike, but not wanting to leave the beach decided to forego it. We had finally learned if we wanted to truly relax we had to simplify our routine.

- Be more organized. Make a list of items that need to be packed and then actually use the list. Once home, add any forgotten or neglected items to the list. Save the list to use when packing for the next vacation.

- Vacation at a familiar destination. I never used to understand why someone would want to vacation at the same place every year. Now I get it. It took us two full days to become acclimated with St. John. If you are truly looking for relaxation, familiarity is a key factor. Also, we discovered many ways we could cut costs if we were to return to St. John. If you travel to the same destination each year, you are more likely to pack the right items and are less likely to encounter unforeseen surprises.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

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