All of the REALTOR® LinkedIn students were great and one had 4 legs!

All of the REALTOR® LinkedIn students were great and one had 4 legs!

More and more, LinkedIn is the online connecting place for business professionals. It’s the modern day Chamber of Commerce breakfast on a virtual scale.  As I shared with the Northeast Tennessee Association of REALTORS (NETAR) during our highly interactive presentation, making connections and updating profiles now may lead to business in the future. The SlideShare deck is below. What are some ways you’ve built your business using LinkedIn?

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Azaleas and the Master's Golf Tournament: True Signs of Spring

Azaleas and the Master’s Golf Tournament: True Signs of Spring

Ever since I was a little girl, tuning in for the back nine at Augusta National Golf Club was an annual family ritual and rite of spring. Back then I watched the azalea-covered Master’s golf course on television with my grandfather. He would always cheer for “the young guys.” Each year he taught me to encourage the up and coming generation of golf champions. “It’s time for the new, young guys to win,” my grandfather would say. “The other guys have had their time in the spotlight.”

Grampa must have been smiling from heaven Sunday as my 12-year-old son and I watched a new, young Master’s champion, 21-year-old Jordan Spieth, make his way up #18 and into the history books. Spieth tied Tiger Woods’ record of 18- under-par for 72 holes and did it by winning round after round, keeping himself atop the leader board. As Spieth said later, he “put a target” on his back for the other pro’s to take aim. They didn’t come close.

Tuesday morning I watched Spieth, garbed in his freshly tailored green jacket, interviewed on the CBS Morning News. I thought the comments he made were applicable not only to winning at golf, but to business as well.

1 – Visualize Your Goals: Spieth said he visualized winning the Masters and walking up to the 18th green as a winner, particularly for the past year. That’s because one year ago he tied for second after losing to Bubba Watson. His new dream had a different winner this time around. For more short term goals, he visualizes each shot and where it will land before he ever takes it.

2 – Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing: Spieth stayed focused on his goal for each day, namely winning that day. He wasn’t concerned with outside influences like tying or even for a brief time in the final round, beating, Tiger Woods’ record. He just focused on what he had to do to win the tournament.

3 – Never Let Them See You Sweat: When asked about his “cool as a cucumber” persona, Spieth said even if he’s worried on the inside he doesn’t let his competitors know it. “They’ll seize on the weakness” he says. “They’re the best in the world.”

4 – Stay Humble, Even in Greatness: The new champion’s humility is refreshing. When asked about his name (his father named him for basketball legend Michael Jordan) the question was asked, why golf and not basketball? Spieth laughed, “Have you ever seen my basketball game?” Frankly, that kind of self-effacing humor and likeability will earn him more in the long run than any amount of bragging could possibly bring his way.

Thanks for the business and life lessons Jordan Spieth. You are definitely a champion.

In case you missed the interview with the 2015 Master’s Champion here it is. Even if you don’t play golf it’s worth it to watch. What can you learn from this champion?

photo credit: DSC_0425 via photopin (license)

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Be sure the CEO has media training.

Be sure the CEO has media training.

Human Resources Directors can suddenly find themselves on the front line of a crisis battlefield during the course of a routine workday. Just take a look at any newscast or twitter feed and you will find companies in crisis from cyber attacks to corporate takeovers and workplace violence.

This week a client invited me to speak with her regional Human Resources Directors group about the steps to take in a crisis. Here is the presentation that I gave. The HR Directors particularly enjoyed the interactive scenario at the end in which three teams created their own crisis communications plans within a short time period.

Do you have additions, questions or comments about what you would do in a crisis? I would love to hear from you before I present this again to our Chamber of Commerce leaders later this month.

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Sometimes we just want to erase crises.

Sometimes we wish we could erase a crisis.

Recently I had the distinct honor of spending one hour on the phone with “America’s crisis guru”™, Jim Lukaszewski. I had recently wrapped up some crisis communications work for a client and eagerly wanted to do more. After listening to Jim on a recent webinar about the Brian Williams scandal, I decided to “learn from the master.”

Here’s what Jim shared about crisis communications (which he defined as “people stopping, reputational stopping, show stopping, product stopping, victim creating and sometimes high profile work.”)

1. Call it Readiness Review. No boss every wants to believe they will have a crisis. Generally speaking they are correct. As Jim says, true crises, such as violence in the workplace or an executive caught in an untruth are few in number. So ask the boss “What are you ready to handle? What are you not ready for?” Make a list of things that can be done better.

2. Tell a Story. Jim said that stories are the second most powerful way of learning. What’s the lesson in the story? Boil down the lesson into teachable elements like numbered lists.

3. Put Yourself in Their Shoes. Say something that matters to the other person from their perspective. Remember, it’s less and less about “me.” Focus on the person. Be interested in them and their perspective.

4. All Problems are Management Issues. Is it a management/leadership problem or a followership problem?  No one knows the business like the boss – it’s their business. What are the options? Communicators are really option providers as opposed to solution providers as some professionals call themselves.

5. Ask Good Questions. What would the boss tell his/her mother? Jim said most great leaders have a close relationship with their mothers. That’s why this question is one of Jim’s favorites. No doubt it brings any matter to a simple truth. It’s certainly one question we could all use in business more often.

What are some actions you would add in a “readiness review?”

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Beautiful Christmas decorations adorned the Martha Washington Inn weekend when we were there in early January.

Beautiful Christmas decorations adorned the Martha Washington Inn.

The first month of the new year is a fresh start for everyone. We all begin at the January starting line together. Many of us work on our company’s strategic plans over the holidays and prepare for what lies ahead. But how many take the time to create a strategic plan  with their spouses and families?

Four years ago my husband and I sat down for the first time in our then 16-year old marriage and wrote down a plan for the future. We have literally checked off the “action items” we created in that meeting one by one over the ensuing years.

This year over the first weekend of 2015  we took an overnight trip  to the Martha Washington Inn in Abingdon, Virginia (one of our favorite getaway locations and location of our honeymoon night!) The Inn’s General Manager Chris Lowe gave us a wonderful meeting room space, complete with a roaring fire, to work on our family’s plan. The idea of being in a neutral, quiet location with the chance to talk is one I highly recommend. Also, by spending the night at “The Martha” we had an opportunity for some fun together time (like swimming in the indoor salt water pool) and it wasn’t “all work.”

Here are our tips for your family’s planning:

1- “Begin with the End in Mind.” That famous Stephen Covey statement is a great place to start. Decide on a family mission statement and work backward from there OR work until you come up with your family mission statement as we did during our first meeting several years ago. That gave us a starting point for this meeting.

2- Get away! Go to a neutral and preferably “get away” location where you and your spouse can have some fun too. Do not try this at home or at either person’s office. (We know we’ve tried!)

3- Ditch the Devices: Take calendars, notepads (the kind with paper) and pens or pencils. We turned off our mobile devices during our meeting and just focused on one another. We manually wrote down the tasks and goals for 2015 and beyond. We wanted to focus on each other and not on our screens.

4- Follow up: Be sure to turn the notes into an easy to reference “action item” list to refer to throughout the year. Post that list in a prominent place in the kitchen where you’re bound to see it. Then check-off items as you complete them.

5- Share with your children: Include your children in some portion of the planning process if they are old enough. Our “tween” has great insights and unique points of view (particularly about family vacation planning). When we returned from our “getaway” we shared some of our discussions with our son to get both his input and his ideas to make the 2015 Miller family plan even better.

Have you created a strategic plan for your family? If so what tips would you add?


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The following is a guest blog post by Curt Henry, an executive coach and friend who’s supported me in my business since I started MarketingMel over five years ago.

As business owners, we often fall into the trap of doing tasks ourselves rather than delegating to our team. What I hear most often from my clients is “I can do it faster myself” or “no one can do it as well as I can.” Though perhaps both may be true, you are missing an opportunity to grow your business and empower your team members.

CurtHenryReview the pie chart above which shows an average work week for a sample business owner or manager. Now fill in your own information. Most owners for example would be working much more than the 54 hour work week shown. If this is your life today what would it look like if you had a 20% increase in sales? What would that do to your pie chart of activities? You may not have to increase all items in proportion to the increase in sales but let’s say you go from 54 to 60 hours.(less than a 20% increase)

Add hours to our pie chart. (OK, but how long can you keep this up?)We really have three choices when faced with the enviable increase in our business:

  1. Don’t add hours but continue to “do it” ourselves. This means we will short change our customers, employees or others. (Also not a good idea.)
  2. Take a section of your pie chart and give it to someone else. (Put it into their pie chart of responsibilities.)

This really gets back to the question from Mr. Stanley’s wife but which I will rephrase;

As you increase your business what will you NOT do?

The business will have to do more; more invoicing, more shipping/delivering, more lots of things. But, what will you now delegate to others? At what point in the growth of the business will you recognize the need to get help from the folks you hired to provide services?

Consider the impact of rebalancing your role in the business. Planning or working “on” vs. “in” the business will multiply how quickly the business expands and improves. Sean Covey in his book The Four Disciplines of Execution talks about the conflict between the “whirlwind” and the “Wildly Important Goals (WIGs)”. He defines the whirlwind as those many urgent activities that demand our immediate attention. All things being equal, the whirlwind will win against the goals every time. As the business owner, we need to maintain our focus on the goals which move the business to new and higher levels or we stagnate. Even worse, if we are so focused on the immediate we may be passed by our competition and end up losing market share or profit potential. (More on goal setting and execution in a future BSF Update.)

I was the Vice President and General Manager for a manufacturing firm. While understanding the need to delegate, I always tried to make myself available for the workers on the production floor. My willingness to “get my hands dirty” by getting in and helping them made them feel more important. It was not that I was doing their job, but rather that I was willing to do what was needed to help them.

You may be able to do whatever “it” is faster and better than team members now. However, with a little training, the team may be able to do it just as well and allow you to focus on expanding the business or even getting to take a day off with the family every now and then. Do you remember back when you were able to take a vacation and really enjoy it?

Curt Henry Curt Henry is a seasoned business executive with seven years general management       experience and over 20 years in domestic and international marketing and sales. In 2000, Curt was chosen to lead the turnaround of a local manufacturing company with struggling product lines. Over the next six years, Curt and his team increased revenues from $9.3 to $16.2 million, improved both profit margins and cashflow significantly, and increased both productivity and product quality. Curt’s leadership resulted in improved employee morale and a significant reduction in personnel turnover.


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It was great to chat with Sue Painter, The Confident Marketer, on her podcast about staying in business 5 years.

It was great to chat with Sue Painter, The Confident Marketer, on her podcast about staying in business 5 years.

A huge shout out of thanks to Sue Painter, the Confident Marketer, for interviewing me this week on the occasion of MarketingMel’s fifth year in business. Sue is a marketing and business coach and business coach for women whom I have known for several years. We have shared a couple of social media tribes together and have been reading each others blogs for quite awhile. Sue asked me for tips that have kept me going as well as some of the “big mistakes” I’ve learned from along the way in order for us to help her listeners including other entrepreneurs. One of my main tips for Sue: the importance of creating a business plan, an annual strategic plan and goal setting.

Here is the link to the podcast along with a special gift of the first four (brief) chapters of my upcoming e-book “88 Tips from a Marketing and PR Pro.”  Enjoy!


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By Sarah Kinsler and Mary Ellen Miller

The end of winter is in sight! Flowers are springing up in the South.

The end of winter is in sight! Flowers are springing up in the South.

Now that we’ve all moved our clocks ahead an hour and we’re enjoying the long evening hours, Spring is on it’s way.  We think we can speak for everyone who’s endured a harsh winter and say “Bring on the warm weather.” Here are a few tips to say goodbye to the wintertime blues:

1. Read a Good Book

Leadership guru John Maxwell says, “You are most like the books you read and people you associate with.” Head to your local bookstore and find a hidden treasure. Instead of reading or watching negative news before bed, indulge in something positive.

2. Try Something New

What better way to inspire yourself than stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new? You just might discover a new hidden talent. Skydiving perhaps? Find yourself in the car a lot? Listen to more audio books.

3. Get Outside

The cold weather has kept us inside all winter. Take advantage of this sunshine and go on a picnic, hike a local trail or invite a long lost neighbor to go for a walk. Everyone benefits from vitamin D!

4. Say “Bye” to Negatives

Think happy, be happy. By eliminating the negative aspects in your life, you will find it easier to simply enjoy. This means everything from your thoughts to gossip to the friends you choose. Surround yourself with positive energy.

5. Set a Goal

January isn’t the only time for setting goals. Spring is the perfect time to review your 2014 strategic plan, correct course if needed, cross off the action items you’ve taken and maybe add a few goals if needed.

6. Spruce Up Your House (whether you plan to sell or not)

Check out MarketingMel’s client, award winning Buffalo Realtor Kim Addelman’s “Prepping for the Spring Marketing” Home Staging Tips on the StagedHomes.com blog. (We helped Kim land this great blog post and can do the same for your business!)

7. Keep Hydrated and Exercise Each Day

Now’s the time to get outside and ride a bike or go for a run. Remember to drink plenty of water (we’re even giving up some of our Diet Cokes in favor of H2O!)

Sarah Kinsler is a 2012 Public Relations graduate of ETSU. She loves vine, instagram, Pinterest and Diet Coke. She is an associate with MarketingMel. Mary Ellen Miller is the Founder and president of MarketingMel, an award winning public relations firm serving business professionals. 

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