Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Price of Friendship

September 26, 2014

Over the years, I have been approached by family and friends to loan money.  Being generous in nature, I usually have made the loan.  Typically there was a signed legal document. In rare circumstances, I relied solely on the personal integrity of the borrower.  To date, not a single one of those people has ever repaid the loan made.  

Most recently, and the prompt of this post, is the story of J’Amy Owens.  If you Google her name, you will find countless hits noting her as a “retail guru”, a “Diva of Retail” and currently a “Meat Activist” and the CEO of a publicly traded company, Bill the Butcher.  She once graced the cover of Inc. Magazine under the headline “Sales Guru to the Stars”.  Even such illustrious credentials does not preclude one from being a deadbeat.

With the same Google search you will also find numerous mentions of her name in association with lawsuits between business partners, former business partners and former spouses.  There is even a lengthy report on RipoffReport from a retail consulting customer who describes being “ripped off” by J’Amy Owens.

The fact that past and ongoing relationships with J’Amy Owens seem to result in some sort of legal action being taken against her should have been a warning to me.  However, my relationship and loan to J’Amy predates her string of legal troubles.  In fact, it was at the start of these many legal battles that she called me pleading for a loan to pay her attorneys.  I viewed her as both a friend and someone who has always managed to earn a good living and therefore likely to be able to repay the debt.  So I foolishly wrote 2 checks, each in the amount of $25,000 to her law firm for her benefit.

To be fair, she did repay a total of $10,000 of the $50,000 loaned.  She has never failed to acknowledge the debt, in fact, I have dozens of effusive emails with expressions of gratitude and indebtedness such as these:

Everyone got paid (783k!) before you, my gracious highness of patience.

I want you to make money on this loan, and not feel bad, so please do NOT think I am going to do anyrhing but pay you WHATEVER YOU WANT.”

“I am seriously past due with you on all accounts and would like to meet over a bottle of something wonderful (my treat) and give you an update.

Your investment (loan of grace and mercy) is ridiculously embarrassingly- in- the- rears at this point but you should know that even though it is diliquent, it is NOT something needing writng off…….as I am occassionally pitiful but NOT a diliquent.”

Yes, she lives in a lovely apartment according to this Jolkona article.  Yes, she is proudly the CEO of a publicly traded company, Bill the Butcher, as you can see in this YouTube video– yet despite these emails and many more in the same vein, she still owes me $40,000 plus reasonable interest totally about $66,000.  When I actively began contacting her to set up a repayment plan, her silence has been deafening.  Emails ignored.  Facebook messages ignored.  LinkedIn message ignored.  Phone calls to her cell phone ignored.  Snail mail letter ignored.  Letter hand delivered via a process server from my attorney also ignored.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy reason for sharing this is to serve as a warning to others – NEVER loan money to family or friends.  You are not doing them a favor, no matter how much it seems true in the immediate.  No matter how grateful they seem at the time, repaying a debt is never a high priority and from my experience – it doesn’t happen.  Even if you have a signed, legal agreement; do you want to be in the position of suing a loved one?  Even a good job and a so called ethical reputation are no guarantee of repayment.  If you feel moved to “loan” money to those you love and value, consider it a gift.  Make it clear up front that it is a gift and never mention it again.  That’s the only hope of preserving a relationship.

As for me, I’ve learned all too well the high price of friendship. 

Lowering the Flag

April 18, 2012

Flying the Flag at half-staff is a recognized way of showing respect for the loss of life of those serving the public.  In March, Governor Gregoire of Washington State ordered flags to be flown at half mast on the day of the memorial service for slain Washington State Patrol trooper Tony Radulescu.

One of my friends, a businessman on his way to the service at the Kent ShoWare Center drove past a popular fast-food restaurant and noticed the flag was not lowered.  The outlet was directly on the route of the service and only a couple of blocks from the memorial.

When my friend called, it became clear no one in the restaurant had any clue that they SHOULD have lowered the flag, didn’t know HOW to lower it and weren’t empowered to do so.

Obviously this was a corporate issue so my friend contacted the headquarters of this national fast-food chain.  Another frustrating conversation ensued with more “clueless” employees.

My friend has now written a letter to the President of this fast-food chain and has personally boycotted the restaurant from that moment.  He told the story at the Easter Brunch we shared with a group of friends and we are all waiting to hear the outcome of his correspondence with the top executive.

I applaud and encourage every business in the United States to proudly fly the flag at your place of business.  I’ve not named the fast-food chain because I don’t want to discourage them from flying the flag.

However, this should serve as a reminder that it’s important to have a simple policy regarding the flag.  It should include replacement when the flag becomes worn, proper disposal of the tattered flag along with guidelines for lowering the flag.  Certainly a national chain can’t stay on top of the mandates of every municipality but local management can and should.   In Washington State, you can sign up to receive an email when the Governor orders flags to be flown at half-staff using this link.

In those situations where an edict or occasion is missed, please train all your supervisors and managers how to lower the Flag and when you get NOT ONE, but SEVERAL calls from customers pointing out the need to lower it – DO IT!  It’s a simple way to show your commitment to the community, honor those who make it possible for you to be in business and bond with your customers.

Cost of Bad Publicity

June 29, 2011

One of my friends posted on Facebook and Twitter this link to a blog post from the LA Times.  In case you don’t read the post, in essence a famous customer (Victoria Beckham) went into a Venice, California restaurant (Gjelina) and asked for the dressing on the side of a salad and was told no – the menu states “No Substitutions”.

I’m not asking you to weigh in on whether the restaurant is right or wrong, whether the celebrity is high-maintenance or not.  Rather, I would ask you to follow the link for another reason.  At the time I am typing this, 106 people had sent the link via Twitter to no one knows how many people who are following them.  104 people actually took the time to post a comment to the blog – most of them NOT positive to the restaurant and 1046 people posted a link to the article on their Facebook page.  Do we want to try to estimate the amount of exposure from those 1046 people alone?

The same article gets over 11,000 Google hits and has appeared countless other places from “Weird News” on the AOL site to a sports news website to this business blog!

The internet is a wonderful tool.  It can give you great exposure for your small business for little or no cost.  It an also cost you a fortune.

Given the largely negative comments generated over the past 3 weeks and the fact it is still getting passed around you have to ask yourself whether or not this is in the best interest of the business.

Then ask yourself that same question regarding YOUR policies and practices.  We all want to make our businesses more efficient, cost-effective and/or reflections of our “vision” – but at what cost?

Flying Solo

August 18, 2010

Are you “flying solo”? I have a lot of friends who work in a company of one.  They are consultants,  professional speakers, trainers, coaches, event coordinators, photographers, videographers, web designers and more.  My husband and I both fall into this category.

Others are in similar fields but have one or two staff members.  In either scenario, working alone or having one or two employees often leave the “business owner” without a trusted circle for support and inspiration.

Some seek out resources and camaraderie through professional associations and trade groups.  These are wonderful options and can provide a wealth of information, best practices, benefits and education.  I regularly recommend such groups to solo practitioners and am a member of a couple personally.

However, with rare exception, these groups do not offer opportunities for you to discuss your specific question or issue and gain targeted insights to help you move forward.  Some sophisticated (and expensive) groups have tried to address this need with small numbers of business owners who share all their information including financials.

Personally, I’ve opted for a less formal group we call our “Creativity Circle”.  About 6 times a year, I get together with 3 other professional women who I admire.  We are similar in that we are all authors and speakers, but we differ in subject matter and delivery methods. Together we share issues, ideas, leads and referrals.  We brainstorm on names for new programs we’ve developed, suggested new groups and avenues to share our information and we cheer good news and positive steps.  All this in 2 1/2 hours with scones, fruit and coffee.

Lorraine Howell‘s specialty is media training.  She works one on one with executives and business owners to craft and present their message effectively.   Marcia Brixey, Money Wise Women, holds low cost seminars and webinars to help women learn to make friends with money.  Dr. Julie Miller has held webinars and on-site training to teach effective business writing – and email writing – to some of the largest companies.  She is now about to launch her newest book “Secrets of Self-Starters” in October.  I speak to business groups of all types on  Improving the Customer Experience, Motivating your Team and other topics related to building successful businesses and careers.

How do you find a good group for you? Look in your association or trade group.  It’s helpful if your group shares an industry foundation.  It’s best if you are not directly competitors but perhaps share some synergy.   Be selective, make sure the personality fits work for you.  Share the hosting duty.  Don’t try to meet too often – you all have work to do and businesses to build!

Lastly, be prepared to go into most of the meetings thinking “I don’t have anything to offer today” and don’t be surprised when you leave  inspired, renewed, bursting with ideas.

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