Dad’s Birthday

My Dad is on my mind. A lot. My Dad is in my dreams. A lot.

 I look at the calendar and find the answer to why he is continually in my head this week – his birthday is this weekend. The hole left in my life when he passed is never filled. But his influence holds on. Everyday.

Today it is worth a repost of a blog I wrote years ago – – about my Dad:

I was one of those lucky ones. The little girl who was always ‘Daddy’s little girl’ and even as an adult remained in daily contact with and loved being with, her Dad. I looked to him for advice, approval and most of all acceptance and love.

My Dad was not a pushover with his girls. He expected much from his daughters and we tried to prove we deserved his praise by delivering much. Good grades, good grooming, good manners. Responsibility and a high work ethic. It was expected and we tried our best to make our Father proud.

In business females often want the same things from those around them. Acceptance, approval, praise. For us I feel it’s most important as we are making decisions that will never please the masses. Decisions that are based on what is best for our businesses, keeping the doors open, keeping the cash register ringing. We are often wounded warriors, coming back from a battle others do not want, however all have an opinion about. Hmmmm…

Fathers. Business leaders. Females.

When I have those overwhelming feelings of being beaten up by others, I think about my Dad and imagine he were here. Did my decision, my action, my appearance make him proud? Did he approve? Would he praise me? And then I move in that direction. And whether I fall short – or not – I know he would have loved me. And that reminds me of the direction I should be moving in.

Happy Birthday, Dad – I’m still here. I’m still yours – I’m still trying. And the beating up of the world is now resting elsewhere.      I’m resting on you.

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Professionalism and Social Media

Professions of all kinds are now examining their relationships with clients and social media. It is very easy to find your medical practitioner, your mental health therapist etc on social media sites. This includes Interpreters finding Interpreters and/or consumers finding us. It is often awkward for any professional when those friend requests come in. Not because we don’t want to be ‘friends’ with the people we serve, but that it can blur professional boundaries – at the least – and breech professional ethics at it’s worst.

Social media is often where we post our most personal moments, our opinions, our religious and/or political stances and our family. Without knowing it we could easily offend others with differing views or let people too far into our personal lives when it might not be safe (emotionally or physically). I remember many years ago when interpreting a court case for a violent felon the Judge taking my business cards and chastising me for having my home address on them (this was years before I started my business). He took me into chambers and explained the reasons this could endanger myself and/or my family – from that day on my business cards had a PO Box listed…

….Fast forward today people are ‘friending’ consumers and often making it difficult for themselves and for the consumer when they are meeting up again in an interpreting situation. A good example is an Interpreter that posted she was at a playground with her children and a consumer showed up after seeing her post (wanting to ‘hang out’).  The Interpreter felt her privacy violated!  Well…not really – if you’re posting that on line it is for public consumption and privacy is really not or should not be an expectation.

I have found the easiest way around this is to have differing social media – one for business and one for family/close personal friends. This keeps me connected to Interpreters, consumers and customers and keeps it ‘business’  – and I also have another venue in which to connect to family and close friends via my private social media sites.

It’s an interesting discussion – something to really think about. How does our action on social media presents us as professionals to the industries in which we serve. A topic worth reflection……Social Media Online Network Technology Graphic Concept

 

Authenticate

Prove Yourself Words Hurdles Face Challenge Obstacle    ‘Authenticate’ …to verify – validate – substantiate – prove.

I’ve been watching as a local business woman makes her run for congress.  She is well known, respected by many and leads many groups of people – her business, groups of colleagues and groups of successful women business owners here in NY and across the country. However this dipping of her toe into the political arena has been fascinating to watch – as she has to ‘authenticate’ herself to those that do not know her. And as I’ve read and watched people’s reactions – I realized something fascinating…In life as in business we repeatedly are asked to authenticate who we are and/or what we do. Especially to those who do not yet know us…

So how does a company authenticate who we are to our customers, our staff, our Interpreters and our consumers? As each new customer utilizes our service, as each new Interpreter signs on with us – we are being scrutinized and need to substantiate and prove who we are.

So I asked – customers, Interpreters, staff and consumers – how do you feel we validate ourselves in your eyes. And the answers were varied ..some predictable, some surprising….and all I learned from.  Below are the top three answers… in order of importance to those polled.

First, customer service. This came from all groups – being responsive to needs of others. Sounds simple, however is critical in others opinions of us. Responding quickly to our customer, Interpreters and consumers and not ignoring their needs. This was their number one answer to how we prove ourselves.

Second, we have a track record. We have been providing services for over a decade, myself personally for a quarter century – people know us through our reputation.  They want to work for and with a company that has proven themselves.

Third was professionalism – they trust us because we follow high standards. Set forth by ourselves and our professional code of ethics – people will only ‘authenticate’ you if they trust you. They trust us to be on time – to be prepared – to deliver services in a competent and timely manner.

Authenticate – like it or not – we are authenticating, validating, proving ourselves in our professional and often personal lives. Being scrutinized is often unpleasant – but a learning process and from the candidate running for office to the company competing for business – it is and always will be a part of the process.

 

 

Business lessons learned….in the gym

Personal fitness trainer with his client in gym.I  have had numerous personal trainers since a surgery years ago. A surgery that left me with side effects that need to be addressed daily. Consequently I have been a member of numerous gyms – and the client of numerous trainers.  And through the years I have found a huge variation in workouts.  Some have approached me with unrealistic sessions – having me solely and repeatedly only  ‘pump iron’ – and on the other end of the spectrum I have been approached like a fragile flower that should never do anything too strenuous … for fear I’d break? …I have no idea…. but results were as varied and unsatisfying as the approaches.

The truth is that I really need the guidance of a trainer to keep me on track, to maintain optimum health and to keep my body in working order. I really needed to keep searching. A  search for a good match that seemed unending…

And then I struck gold. Within my current fitness club I found the consummate professional whose approach has given me results….Why?

To him it is business. To him it is personal. To him it is reputation and results. His approach is a lesson to any business – whether you are a solo practitioner or you have 1,000 employees. Here is a small amount of what I have gleaned in sessions over the last several months…

– First and foremost, all clients are intrinsically different. My needs are completely different from his other clients. In order to serve my needs well he makes sure he understands completely my needs and how to get the results I desire. (*note to self – know each customer’s particular needs…)

– Consistency is key – I do not mean each workout session is the same. I mean ‘he’ is consistent. On time – prepared with my file in hand – changing my workout every time I meet with him. His attention is 100% on me and my needs – this is uniform at every meeting. (*note – every customer should receive the same consistent service every time they use our service…)

– Results – I am constantly being re-evaluated for strength, weight, measurements, flexibility. There is no end result – there is only consistent improvement. (*note to self – put a plan in place to measure customer’s satisfaction and make changes where necessary to obtain the results we want them to see…)

– Professionalism – which is my favorite and what my agency was built on. When I am in the presence of my trainer it’s friendly but always professional. He’s not distracted by a cell phone or chatting with others in the gym. He’s not ‘working out’ while I’m training – he’s not gossiping about others in the gym. When he is ‘on’ as a trainer, he is ‘on’ as a professional. There is no contact via social media or cute Instagram pics – he’s my trainer.  Period.  (*note to self – stay in your role as business owner, practitioner, etc – all of the time…any time you are in the presence of a customer)

The bottom line is he keeps me motivated to remain his client. To keep each appointment. To tell others of the excellent service I receive and of the trust he’s build in me to have him as my trainer.  Business lessons learned……in the gym…..

The art of teams

 

Telesales manager

In our business Interpreters often team assignments of long duration in order to support and spell each other. As you can imagine, the mechanics behind taking information into your brain in one language and then expressing it simultaneously in another is extremely taxing. Research shows the message begins to break down after approximately 20 minutes due to this process – hence, our need for teams.

Since teaming is a norm in our business, we are always looking for those Interpreters who can effectively team together. This brings me to today’s blog post – what we have collectively gleaned makes a great team. Our observations can be applicable to almost any team situation…and is interesting how it applies across the board….

We look for the following:

–  Flexibility – there is no place for rigidity when working in teams. By virtue of working with another human being you will need to be flexible in terms of teaming. Who takes the lead, when and even ‘where’ – the physical space in the room…

–  Respect – you cannot be an effective team without respect for your colleagues. Respect that everyone does things differently, applies language differently and have different affects. The goal for any team is effective communication and literally for us – remember getting there may take different paths.

– Ego – putting ego aside and realizing that you are not the best nor the worst in the field and neither is your team. Everyone is on a path to learning and support is what’s needed during teaming, not critique. Those who put their egos aside and support their teammates are the most successful team.

Three simple items that we look for in a team that can be used in any team situation whether it’s with co-workers, on a sports team or even parenting. Thanks to my staff and my consumers for their input over the years on what make a great team!

 

 

Family Friendly

Mother Father and their little daughterOne of my biggest regrets as a mother was not being able to be a stay-at-home Mom. I craved that time. For me, the best thing ever was to be in the house, cooking and cleaning, taking my boys to the park, chasing worms and butterflies. I lived for those moments.

Clearly I found, that was not in the cards. I had to work to survive – as with many Moms – and the dream of being a full time, stay at home Mom was not to be. I did, however, have a couple of glimpses into being with my babies more. I had one employer who let me bring my newborn to work with me – until he was wanting to crawl and escape the playpen in my office. It was an epic fail – trying to work and care for an infant was not successful – either for the baby or my boss. So that quickly ended. And then the inevitable – handing him over to a day care provider – which was truly heartbreaking for me.

I later tried doing home day care so that I could be home with my boys. I quickly found that I was spending more time with other people’s children than with my own. My 3 year old actually asked to go back to his day care center – pointing out to me this just wasn’t working either. My attempts to be at home were a huge bust. And asking for flexibility in the workforce was met with a resounding ‘no’…

So here I am, many decades later, with staff having children of their own. Growing and raising families and now ‘on the other side of the table’ I see that my old employers were not being mean, they just hadn’t any ideas of how to make this work. Luckily today we have technology to allow people to work at home and to be more present with their families while still being ‘present’ at work.

For example one staff who’s been a ‘stay-at-home’ Dad, raising his son and working simultaneously. Is he able to sit at his desk 8 hours/day and still raise a toddler? Of course not, but by working flex hours and rearranging his duties, it’s been possible. And the benefits to his child are unending. We now have another staff who just had a baby and will need flex time as well – and while we are not a big enough company to have day care centers and paid maternity time – we can give the priceless – flexible time to be a more present parent.

We cannot all be home with our children – I wish everyone could. However as a business owner I can now offer as much flexibility as possible to help bridge that gap – be creative – and encourage other small business owners to do the same for their staffs – for Moms and for Dads – and leave a lasting legacy of closer families.

The Rock Steady

Reliable Name Tag Sticker Dependable Worker Team Member Person    All too often the people in our personal lives who are our ‘Rock Steady’ are the ones that get the least amount of attention, praise or recognition. This holds true in businesses as well and this week I’ve thought a lot about who those people are for us.

Yesterday I opened an email from a customer reporting that “things go well everyday – the Interpreter brings professionalism and skill to our environment and works well with all our staff”… I smiled, nodded to myself and thought ‘this is no surprise.’ She is a ‘rock steady’…no drama, no demands, independent thinker, no complaints. She shows up early to every job – brings her skill set that she still works hard to develop – checks her ego at the door and has emotional intelligence to maneuver any adversity brought into the process. She’s professional, from dress to interactions on site and off site and draws professional lines in kind and appropriate ways.

Being a ‘Rock Steady’ is a double edge sword. They receive the most requests without asking to be requested – their calendars are full and our staff love working with them. They respond quickly – they are dependable and they are flexible. Their skill and appearance tell everyone that the agency they represent is professional.

I have a lot of these people. They take up the least amount of my time. They should receive the most ..of my time – my praise – my thanks – my recognition. That’s the other side of the sword – they do their job so well they often are overlooked. They don’t NEED attention. They don’t NEED a pat on the head. They are not NEEDY people – but they should be appreciated people.

I plan on letting more of my Rock Steady know how much they are appreciated. It’s not a good leader who lets them go on being ignored because they do their jobs so well. I depend on them – they change the world by bridging communication invisibly. AND they keep our business flourishing….

So to all of you working with someone that you don’t have to pay attention to – take time to give some thanks and recognition  – to your ‘Rock Steady’…………