Sunday, March 22, 2009

Manage your Magazines!

I love magazines. I truly believe magazine subscriptions are great, because, knowing I will buy them anyway, I actually save money when subscribing! This thought pattern has led me to create a magazine "library" at home, where you can find some great publications, such as Fortune, Conde Nast Portfolio, Business Week, Working Mother, InStyle, Money, Parenting, Golf, American Baby, Tea Time, Southern Lady, Health, BEe and my beloved Pink.

You are probably wondering how in the world I would have time to read all of these magazines. I understand what you mean, as I often wonder about the same thing.

I decided to create a "scan and file" process, where I tear out my favorite articles and file them in a folder. The folder has different tabs and organizes my articles into different categories.
I use the articles in the folders as references, as a past-time, I give it to friends and family, sharing as much as I can.

Now, I have 4 heavy piles of magazines already scanned and filed, waiting to be placed into the recylcing box. I would probably need 4 boxes, at least.

I enjoy reading quality magazines so much because of different reasons:
  • They relax me (easy reading)
  • I can carry them around with me
  • Many times, they add value to my life
  • Many times, they inspire my work
  • I truly enjoy reading about successful people and companies

...and accompanied by a cup of coffee, even better! Talking about coffee, have you read the post below on Dunkin' & Starbucks?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Hear it and live it" in order to judge it!

My husband, always having others' needs and likes in mind, was kind enough to record a short news piece on Nightline for me. The feature was on Dunkin' Donuts boom versus Starbucks' "stagnation", so to say.

I've always admired Starbucks' as a company. I particularly like the fact that, while being in the coffee business, they are actually selling something quite less tangible: the "have coffee in a living-room experience", which happens to be accompanied by lattes and frapuccinos. I first entered a Starbucks in 1999, and immediately was sold on the concept and the coffee. Years went by and I still remember how a friend of mine and I developed a market analysis to take Starbucks abroad to Montevideo, Uruguay. The project was for college, and we excelled in it. It was a fun project. I was thrilled when my sister proudly announced "Starbucks arrived in Brazil!!!" (last year!), and during my time at the Marriott, there was hardly a day on which I did not get something from our Starbucks lobby cafe. (sigh!...)

It took me by surprise that Dunkin' Donuts opened 800 stores last year and is expecting growth of 5% this year. Starbucks does not seem to be experiencing the same boom. In fact, many stores are closing and baristas are losing their jobs. Given the current economic and financial situation, this taught me a good lesson in customer loyalty and effective marketing. You see, I took the time to visit a Dunkin' Donuts store today, and was pleasently surprised by the variety of drinks, food (including healthy options!), good customer service and employee knowledge. It was great to see an "anytime breakfast" menu and impressive to learn the store is open 24/7! I sat there for a moment and analyzed the environment: the dining room does not compare to Starbucks. The ambience is totally different. The product is different. I briefly thought that Nighltine was a bit off when comparing Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, simply focusing on the fact that both serve coffee products. But that's the only thing they have in common.

The product they are marketing is different. It is two different things, like apples and oranges. Both are good. But not comparable, really. I believe it's actually not fair to compare both. I am happy to have taken the time to watch it on TiVo, and to have gone to Dunkin' Donuts today. I will be back. I was pleased with everything. I will not leave Starbucks behind, though. I go to Starbucks to experience the atmosphere, the "we share something unique" type of community feeling when you spend some time in there, and the coffee drinks.

The fact that Dunkin' Donuts is experiencing success is because they are marketing correctly. Starbucks' "we sell you an experience" might not be enough in these times, and its momentum has been lost a little. Dunkin' has competitive prices, fast service, appealing marketing campaigns and strong celebrity endorsements. It has created a menu that satifies our hunger and that works well for various age groups, tastes and needs. Loyal tenants don't give it up for anything, and newcomers like what they see. It is accessible, efficient and basic.

Simply put, it efficiently fits the time and circumstance we are living in today.

This was my "hear it and live it experience" of the day. I'm looking forward to reading/hearing your comments!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My newest project, coming soon!

Be Kind.
Feel Good.

(c) 2009 International Etiquette Solutions, Inc.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gift giving "corporate style"

Gift giving is an art. The main goal behing the act of giving someone a gift is to make the other person feel special. It takes a few steps to achieve this goal and affect the other person on an emotional level. Visually, we are naturally attracted to beautiful things (hint: nice gift wrap). Emotionally, we enjoy personalized things (hint: a handwritten card, a frame with a real picture of both of you). Practically, we like things that will add value to our lives (hint: something we can use!).

You can imagine how I was silently in shock when I once received a gift from a person about a year later after I had given that person that exact gift. Basically, she gave me back my gift!

If you take time to choose a gift, it will show. Also, know at least a few things about the person's likes and dislikes. When handing a gift to someone, never, and I repeat, never comment in a way that will make the other person uncomfortable. This includes saying "Do you like it? Oh, I don't think you like it... You can exchange it! ....Yeah, I don't think she liked it..". This is one of the worst things someone can do when giving a gift.

In the corporate world, gift giving is common, yet sometimes misunderstood. Remember to keep it professional. You may want to buy something that can be actually used in the office/business environment. Depending on what the person does or where she/he works, you may also want to keep it more conservative, or less.

Whether you have a large or small budget, creativity is key.
I have a few personal favorites, for $ and $$$ that I would like to share with you:

  • For the Sweet Tooth: delicious Champagne Truffels from Teuscher (Switzerland)
  • For the tea Lover: the blooming teapot, tea for one and blooming green tea from TupperLiving (Tupperware)
  • For the coffee Lover: a magnificent Nespresso machine
  • To complement someone's Stationary: Fine greeting cards with the person's initial(s) - don't forget the envelopes!
  • To add a bit more elegance to someone's Stationary: a classic Lamy fountain pen
  • For news and magazine Lovers: a subscription to a nice magazine ("Pink", for business ladies, "Portfolio", for both business men and women)
  • For the Mom who is also your Coworker: a subscription to "Working Mother" magazine (great!)
  • Car TLC: In addition to a gas card (minimum US$25,-), arrange for the person's car to be cleaned inside and out, and if you want to impress even more, arrange for it to be detailed!
  • To add a bit of Fun and Laughter: The Hallmark "Hoops&Yoyo" collection has a great variety of fun (and funny!) gifts (to be given to someone you know a bit more)
  • To add Motivation: there are great motivational and inspirational cards, posters, frames, even coffee mugs and agendas/calendars. Check out!
Gifts to avoid:
- Perfume or cologne
- Pets of any kind
- Clothes, especially undergarments
- Shoes
- Jewelry
- BIG things, like a funny 2 gallon coffee mug (?..), a 1yard long pencil or a 20 pounds chocolate bar

To succeed in the art of gift giving, take your time, find out a bit more about the person, be creative, make it pretty, personalize it and be sincere, always!

Kindness is a wonderful thing. Use it wisely!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

If I could only remember his name!...

Please know, it is quite common for us to easily forget a person's name, especially if we are meeting many new people at a party, networking event, social gathering or even before a large business meeting. Oftentimes, we feel embarassed to have forgotten someone's name. This may even lead some of us to avoid interacting with the new person we just met, simply because we feel uncomfortable asking for their name again. Morever, the situation may become slightly tighter if the "new person" remembers OUR name...

To ease your pain and help you cross that rough path, there are various methods that help you develop a mindset and capacity to easliy remember names.

One technique that I use and teach my clients is a technique that I developed over time, after reading and trying out many methods. It is called "L-CAR":

LOOK: Look the person in the eyes. Look for specific facial traits. Look at the person's eye color.

CLICK: Take a mental picture of the person's face. Tell yoursefl "click" and tell yourself you want to memorize this face.

ASSOCIATE: Think fast, and mentally associate the new person and her/his name with someone or something that immediately reminds you of him/her. Example: I meet Kate. Kate has a cute nose like my sister's. I will associate Kate with my sister and will place them side by side in my mind.

REPEAT: One of the most important steps: Continuously repeat the person's name during the introduction and short conversation you start with the person. Example: It is a pleasure meeting you, Kate! If you don't mind, I would like to introduce to you my friend John. It is so interesting that both of you come from the same small town, Kate! In a few seconds, you have used her name twice. Now, when introducing John and Kate, you will use it again, and will have more chances of using it immediately after. Repetition and eye contact really will emphasize the mental picture you took and the association you made.

I hope you take the "L-CAR" with you on your business and social gatherings, trips and outings!

Have a wonderful weekend!