Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wagging Tails Make Me Happy

There's nothing quite like seeing your dog's tail wag enthusiastically to realize how much they love and appreciate you. This first video is of Duncan.

This second video is of both Duncan and Sheldon trying to get my attention.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Are You More of a Glass Half Full or Empty Person?

image from
I've long considered myself to be an optimist. By nature I tend to focus on the positive side of things. My 25 years of business experience has trained me to assess and understand all scenarios, but in the end I'm wired to see the proverbial glass of life as "half full" versus "half empty". To me, it all comes down to choices we make in how we want to think. It is the difference between deciding to be happy with what one has, versus deciding to be unhappy because of what one doesn't have. Which do you choose for yourself? British Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Isn't it better to spend your precious time on this planet talking what you are happy about, versus complaining about what you don't like? Numerous studies have shown that people who are more positive minded also tend to self report as being more satisfied, fulfilled, and generally happy. The same studies also show those positive minded people as usually being more successful.

It is the power of the mind at work. Even people with rather unfortunate life circumstances can choose to be happy. They can choose to see the glass as half full. I'm not suggesting that life is always easy or happy every day, but generally, you can choose your attitude. Here are two cases in point:

A woman I know lost her husband to an illness. She and her two young kids struggled financially and even lost their home in a foreclosure situation. They moved into a small apartment, and are barely making ends meet. Yet she finds time every Sunday to help poor families at her church. She told me she decided that if she focused on what had gone wrong in her life, she would "short-change" her kids the opportunity for a happy childhood. She feels that while she has had some tough things happen to her, she is grateful to have two healthy kids, her own health, and a job. She even told me that she is happy.  Amazing? Not to me. She made up her mind that she wanted to focus on the positive aspects of her life.

Another person I know very well recently lost his job.  He had a difficult situation at work and the company he worked for let him go for performance issues. He has a new home mortgage, a baby on the way and some credit card debt to repay. He had been earning a very good living and now faces the prospect of finding a job in a difficult economy. He told me last week he decided not to be bitter about having been fired at work. He came to terms with his situation and is grateful to have his health, a wife he loves and a family who are a great support network for him while he decides what to do next. I asked him how he remains so positive-minded. His response was: "What good would it do for me to focus on what has gone wrong? What will it get me to spend my time blaming my old boss or someone else? I've let that go from my mind and now am thinking about better things". 

My view is that we all must take responsibility for our own lives. That means not expecting someone else to fix everything for us. Not the government, the boss, a business, or a clergyman. We alone must take action, work hard, made decisions and accept consequences of our own actions.  We alone must decide whether we want to be happy or not. And I assure you this decision has nothing to do with money, or material possessions.

Before I was preparing for this subject, I stumbled on something in Men's Health magazine this month. Someone had written in asking how to make themselves more of a "glass half full guy". The column responded by referencing the book: "The How of Happiness" by Sonja Lyubomirsky with these tips:
  1. Keep a best-possible self journal. spend 15 minutes a week thinking about the life you desire.
  2. Set sub-goals. break down big goals into small, manageable chunks
  3. Overcome dark moods. think about past challenges where you overcame. Save things that are offer encouragement: an email from someone else, a photo of a race you completed, etc and revisit them.
The key is that you can influence the way you think in life. Don't let anyone else influence how you feel. When a person accepts responsibility for one's own thoughts, and how one can influence others then one can influence the direction life can take.

So the question is: Are You More of a Glass Half Full or Empty Person? The good news is, the choice is all yours.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Whoop Whoop, It's My Birthday!

Ah September 8th, how I love thee. Not that birthdays really matter but I'm still a kid at heart I guess. You see birthdays mean chocolate cake. Did someone say cake? Say no more-- I'm there. That pretty much sums it up. I'm not looking to celebrate the fact that I'm now middle aged, or looking to wear party hats and receive gifts but I do plan to have chocolate cake. Oh and by the way, I like to celebrate my birthday for as long as I feel necessary. So if you see me having chocolate cake next week, that could very well be why.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Brooks Brothers...a model for excellence

It's the little things that make a difference
Admittedly, I'm a fiercely loyal consumer. When I find a brand or store that I like, they usually earn an out-sized share of my disposable income. Favorite restaurants, retailers, airlines, hotels, it goes on. It isn't easy to earn my loyalty...I'm a tough customer and have very high expectations and standards. I'm more than happy to pay a little more for things I value but of course I don't want to be ripped off. Let me feel special. Make me feel valued. Every so often make me feel like I got a special value or discount. But moreover, you'd better have high quality and great service. Never, ever take me for granted. If you can rise to these challenges, I've be forgiving when you fall down from time to time. I'll understand when you have to raise prices modestly. I'll even accept having to wait a bit longer for service if you have to cut back on staff to remain profitable during tough times. But never take me for granted. Ever. One of my favorite brands and retailers, hands down is Brooks Brothers. When I say that "pretty much all of my clothes are from Brooks Brothers" I'm not exaggerating. With the exception of custom made garments my tailor has made for me, everything else I own came from Brooks Brothers. Even some of my beloved trademark ascots came from Brooks Brothers. My closet is a mini Brooks Brothers store. Why? Because I like their style, and their quality is excellent. Their wrinkle-free dress shirts are the absolute best in the business. They make clothes that not only last, but are timeless and rarely go out of style. Their clothing has helped me maintain a professional image throughout my career, from an aspiring manager twenty years ago to senior executive positions today.

Brooks Brothers offers tremendous customer service, consistently from city to city, even through international locations. Do you know what I like even more? Their amazing customer loyalty program. I get rewarded for buying products I love. Their program has encouraged me to skip other retailers and consolidate my purchases to them over many years. It is such an exhilarating feeling when those little $20 gift cards that magically appear in the mail. I've worked in the retail and marketing side of business for over 25 years, so I understand how CRM loyalty programs work. I understand that they get shoppers to spend a little more just to earn what amounts to an 8% discount. But I don't care. I love Brooks Brothers. Even when I receive a nice hand written note from the local Brooks Brothers store, to inform me of a sale, it brightens my day. But you know what makes me grin even more? The simple birthday card they remember to send me every year, along with a $20 gift card. It reminds me of when I was a kid and those cards I'd get from grandma and aunts on my birthday, with a perfectly folded $20 bill inside. Nobody sends me $20 anymore in the mail, except Brooks Brothers, that is. Even their social media team are top drawer. They nurture their followers and post interesting content on Twitter. They ENGAGE with their followers. 

So yes I do love Brooks Brothers and I'm proud to say so. I'm proud that there are retail brands here in the USA who still get it. They know how to build and maintain relationships with their customers. Whether you are a small business owner, or an executive at a major company...consider my remarks above, particularly the first paragraph. In my opinion, Brooks Brothers is a model for excellence in business. I hope someone at Brooks Brothers reads this post someday and can smile broadly, knowing that their efforts have been worth it and have not gone unnoticed by the Palm Springs Savant.


This blog is about life experiences & observations and stuff I am interested in. It is simply a side hobby and creative outlet; generally, with a tongue-in-cheek tone. I don't take it too seriously, nor should you. I do not profess to represent every point of view. Nothing on this site is a paid post.

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