Friday, October 31, 2014

Isn't It About Time You Get More Out Of Your Business?

Hi.  Thom Fox here.  Blending science and experience, I work with businesses and entrepreneurs to strategize, connect with resources, and launch ideas.  With encouragement from community leaders and friends, I founded my independent consultancy focused on helping entrepreneurs gain control of their businesses.  As a coach, mentor, and consultant with two-decades experience in the fields of economic development and individual empowerment, I understand the necessity of driving results. Even when confronted with the most modest of circumstances, I’ve designed and implemented marketing and growth strategies generating tens of millions of dollars in revenue.

On a personal level, I believe it takes a community to build an economy.  I’m always happy to introduce good people to explore mutually beneficial opportunities, council young entrepreneurs, and give back to society.  Currently, I serve on the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (Fmr. Chairman), Suit Up Springfield, and as a Facilitator and Mentor for Valley Venture Mentors.

I also Host The Engine: Entrepreneur Radio and The Engine: Sunday Edition airing on Clear Channel (WHYN-AM, WHYN-FM and WRNX-FM). Acknowledged as an expert resource, I’ve has been interviewed by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Consumers Digest, The Huffington Post, Reuters, Fox Business, and

On the Movers and Shakers blog I’ll be discussing some of the most common challenges businesses face when scaling their services.  In particular, I’ll focus on employee engagement, increasing revenue and profitability, and how to infuse innovation into your business. 

Learn more about me at 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Preparing for the Dream!

As I write these blogs, I am sharing what I have seen throughout my life, to be the five steps needed to make each of your dreams come true. Again and again I have seen these steps lived out through my patients, my students, and my audiences. Before you begin the walk however you need to realize you can’t get complacent. You have many dreams, not just one. Each dream builds on the past calling you to become more and more of who you are meant to be.

The most important attitude to begin with is the joy and delight (even if there is fear) at being willing to live out of the box, to take risks, and to jump off more than one bridge. It makes it fun and an adventure and to me that is what life is about.

Dreams do not come from your head; they come solely from your heart and your soul. Your head is the support system that allows you to understand the steps needed to make your heart and soul’s dream come true so find your dream but then magnify it. Dream bigger than you first imagined since if it is your purpose you are supported in more ways than you realize. Remember this comes from your heart and your soul. It is defining you.

With all this, the greatest cost, as I have seen repeatedly, is rarely financial, the greatest cost in following your dreams is the willingness to change your sense of self. You will never see the world the same, you will never see your life the same, and most importantly, you will never see you the same. It is a huge cost yet in truth the greatest gift!!!   The end result is a life of passion, aliveness, and a clear understanding of your purpose. 

Dorothy A. MartinNeville, PhD, is a motivational speaker, author, coach, and psychotherapist who's career has been spent, with humor and faith, calling others to avoid self-sabotage, claim their dreams, find their purpose, and become everything they are meant to be. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

To Publish Traditionally, or to Self-Publish? That is the Question.

There seems to be a lot of opinions when it comes to self-publishing. The most notable one being that if a traditional publishing house isn’t interested in your work, then nobody else will be either. There may have been a point in time when that idea held some validity, but how many books have been picked up by big publishing houses that never made it to print, or earned one dime for their authors? It’s not like they publish a report every year disclosing this information.

But suppose you want to try the traditional publishing route. Are you ready to write a book proposal? Most “how to get published” books and articles suggest that if you want to write a non-fiction book, you should write a non-fiction book proposal first. If you do decide to take this route, the upside is that it will help you understand your book a lot better. The downside is that it takes a lot of time and effort to write a proposal, and it still boils down to giving someone else permission to decide the validity and value of your idea.

Some people have dreams of big advances for their books, but publishers are a lot less likely to take a leap of faith with new authors these days. Before they make a decision, they’ll want to know how many followers you have. They’ll look at your “platform” to determine if it’s big enough to generate sales because they aren’t likely to spend a lot of money helping you market your book. In fact, they expect you to have a strong enough platform to create your own marketing buzz. Even if they do decide to give you an advance, it’s an advance against royalties, so those will most likely have to be paid back first. 

Some people believe that only a traditional publisher can produce a quality book, but nothing could be further from the truth. With sites like Create Space, anyone can get a book into print that looks every bit like it’s been published by a traditional publisher.

So, if all this is true, then why do people still look down on self-publishing? Because too many people self-publish just so they can say they’ve published a book. They don’t care about typos, format, or even the quality or validity of their content. They just want the book.

If you’re thinking about writing a book and are still on the fence between seeking out a traditional publisher and going the self-publishing route, don’t let the idea that people will only take you seriously if you go through a traditional publishing house influence your decision. If you produce a quality book filled with content that’s interesting and informative, reads well, and isn’t riddled with typos or formatting errors, it won't matter who published it. When you've written a good book, it’s your name they’ll make sure to remember, not the publishers.

If you have questions, or are trying to figure out how to get started fulfilling your publishing dreams, I'd be happy to help. You can email me at

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Have You "Earned Your Way" Through the Front Door?

Have You "Earned Your Way" Through the Front Door?

Dale Carnegie knew a lot about sales. He understood that confidence is one of the hallmarks of presenting oneself, and further defined how mastering the three E’s can lead to a confident expression of one’s knowledge and expertise.

·     Earning the Right to speak about a subject. This is reflected in our effort to learn as much as we can about our topic. We've “Earned the Right” to speak when we know we can confidently answer questions about our product, service, or area of expertise.
·     Excitement about the Topic:  Very few people are excited about every aspect of what they’re selling, but every product solves a problem for someone. Focusing on how our product solves problems and benefits others will allow our enthusiasm to come through when speaking to potential clients. 
·     Eagerness to Share:  When we know enough about a prospective client to be able to speak knowledgeable and confidently about how our product or service will address their situation.

Together, these three E’s will give you a true understanding of how Value Added Selling will place you light years ahead of most of your competition. It will also provide you with an edge in today’s competitive market and help you build strong business relationships that will stand the test of time.

The key to successfully employing all three E’s is to begin with an honest assessment of where you are right now. I’ve made hundreds of sales calls with sales people who haven’t properly prepared. When I began my selling career, I was guilty of "winging it" sometimes too, but soon realized the importance of thoroughly researching a company beforehand.

If you want decision makers to carve time out of their busy schedule to hear what you have to say, don’t waste the meeting by sharing information and ideas that have no relevance to them, their needs, or their problems. Prepare yourself ahead of time so they will be willing to carve time out for you again and again. 

Here are ten questions to help you “Earn Your Way” through the front door: 

1.   Do you have a thorough understanding of your product or service so you can answer your prospect’s questions?
2.   Have you practiced your presentation and reviewed anticipated objections before the sales presentation?
3.   Will your presentation still work even if your laptop doesn't?
4.   Will you and your presentation both survive interruptions?
5.   Have you fully qualified the customer or prospect beforehand?
6.   Have you identified the prospect’s business needs, wants, and vision for their future?
7.   Is this a preliminary visit or will the decision maker be attending the meeting?
8.   Are you prepared to list the benefits of your offering? Remember—buyers may like features, but they buy benefits.
9.   Do you know and understand who your competition is and how your position in the marketplace compares to theirs?
10. Do you have solid examples of other customers as proof statements for the meeting?

Your commitment to preparation today will build your confidence and pay off in the long run. 
Alan Luoma is a Sales Coach and Speaker with extensive experience in industrial sales, sales management, and sales and product training. He holds key accounts with a national sustainable packaging company, is a motivational speaker, and provides sales training to individuals and groups. He is a member of the Hartford Springfield Speakers Network, Toastmasters, The National Speakers Association, and The New England Speakers Association. You can view his profile on LinkedIn, or contact him at .

Monday, October 27, 2014

Laughter: The New Bottom Line in the Workplace

We live in increasingly stressful times.  The terms “Stress Related Illness”  and “Burnout” are becoming common words in describing the workplace experience.   An epidemic  of workplace stress has been blamed  for high absenteeism and an increase in sick days by employees.  The Health and Safety Commission reports that 33 million days were lost in the past due to illnesses, compared to 18 million in surveys from 1995 and the number is even higher, 64 million days per year in some of the latest surveys. Furthermore, The Centers For Disease Control reports that up to 90% of all doctors’ visits may be a result of stress related illness.  As a result of these findings, organizations are increasingly looking for innovative strategies to keep their employees healthy, happy and productive.
        Up until recently, organizations frowned upon the idea of laughter at work, seeing it as a distraction from “Not taking their work seriously to not getting the real work done.” There is a misconception that we all have to be serious in the work environment and it is unprofessional to laugh and have fun at work.  However, they are finding that all of this seriousness and stress is negatively impacting the bottom line results, which are so sought after in this time of change and downsizing.  Research has proven that the most productive people are those who take their jobs seriously, while taking themselves lightly.  As a result of this, companies around the world are finding that laughter wellness programs can have an immediate and positive impact  on their business, including making their organization  more profitable.
      Organizations  that  that have  adopted regular laughter wellness sessions into their work routine report a happier workplace, with more efficient teamwork, better job performance, improved communication,  increases in sales and productivity and increased creativity.  A good example of this was a study performed at Canadian financial firms found that managers who scored the highest in overall employee performance, used laughter and humor the most often.
      The scientific research is proving that laughter is an integral part of physical and emotional well-being.  Dr. William Fry of Stanford University found that laughing 200 times burns off the same amount of calories as ten minutes on a rowing machine.  Further studies indicate that laughing reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, increases heart rate and oxygen flow, strengthens the immune system and triggers the release of endorphins--- natural painkillers.  It is also important to mention that laughter is much more beneficial in groups than doing it alone. In a group, you have laughter, you have happiness and you have that social connection with the other people. Laughter is the social glue that brings people together which builds a real sense of community.
       As noted earlier, more and more organizations are seeing the benefits of laughter, as they are incorporating it into their wellness initiatives. What I have found in working with groups over the years is that they are filled with very creative people who just need to be given permission to laugh and find their “Inner Child.”  “ Our Inner Child” is now our sense of stability during times of change and uncertainty.  Allowing people to Let their hair down not only results in a healthier workplace, but creates positive working relationships that benefit everyone.   Remember, work Smarter, not harder!
Trevor Smith
Blue Sky Consulting
1127 Worthington St.
Springfield, Ma 01109
(413) 204-8308

Sunday, October 26, 2014

For the Love of Helping Others Shine

Hello and happy day to you.

Today is a great day to step out and be seen. To let the world know you are here, what you stand for, and what gifts you will be sharing to help others along their journey.

Today is a great day for me to do the same; and so I will.

Chana Monahan, Owner of Greenhouse Graphics, LLC.
Hi. I’m Chana Monahan. I’m a quirky, sometimes shy, people-loving person who thrives in a team environment and who thoroughly enjoys helping others by way of motivation, education and evaluation. I am here because I love building fun, adventurous and rewarding relationships. I am here to share. I am here to help expand your business toolbox. I am here as a resource. I am here to listen. I am here to learn. I am here on the 26th of each month. I look forward to seeing you, here, too!

The day I became an entrepreneur, and opened Greenhouse Graphics, llc twelve years ago, I did so because I knew I had the gift of being able to listen to someone’s story, to walk into his/her business, feel the energy of the space and then, seemingly by magic, create visual pieces that embody the essence of the business. I have often been rewarded by the clients’ relief-filled exhilaration, as they realized they now have foundational marketing materials to be proud of. I knew I was on to something positive for all involved.

Today, Greenhouse Graphics, llc is a team of kickin’ creative personalities, each tackling a different branch of the marketing tree. We are the marketing department for many business owners; relieving them of the daunting and often frustrating, time-consuming tasks of all-things-marketing. 

Imagine reaping the rewards of all-out marketing efforts, when your only responsibility is to make one decision and provide feedback on a weekly basis. 

Yes, many others like that idea too.

We stand for individuality, transparency and the implementation of what is right for the client, without imposing trends on them. We stand for building relationships; between our clients and ourselves, between our client and his/her customers, and with our business partners and local community overall. Relationships build trust and growth; we like that. We stand for giving back and paying-it-forward; we all need a helpful, friendly hand sometimes. We stand for environmentally friendly practices; we employ them every chance we get! We stand for assisting our clients with expressing what they stand for too.

As the months roll forward I will be writing on a variety of business, marketing and networking topics; which may include trends, pros-n-cons, testing the waters of something new, sustainability or shaking off a fear. I’m honestly, not really sure exactly what the articles will consist of, yet. However, I do know that whatever it is, it will be just what you needed (and hopefully wanted) to read on the twenty-sixth day of the month.

Chana Monahan
Greenhouse Graphics, llc. where ideas grow

(860) 379-2974

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sharks, Surf Boards and Riding Waves! Take the Risk!

Welcome Success Team Speakers and Entrepreneurs, 

When I was younger my parents would take my brother and I on vacation to York Beach, Me. There are two beaches there one is Short Sands and the other is Long Sands. Long Sands is where I learned how to surf. The waves reached 4 to 7 feet high. When your a kid waiting to catch a wave they seemed as tall as a skyscraper. I love the challenge of riding those waves. I started surfing around the age of 13, I bought my own surf board, wet suit and a huge supply of wax. By the time I was 15 years of age I became quite a surfer and started surfing with guys a bit older than me. The more experienced surfers would urge me to head out further and further into the ocean(against Mom's wishes). The curiosity and mystique of finding "The Big Wave" was what lured me out as far as 60-80 yards from shore. The older surfers were right I caught some of the biggest waves that I have ever ridden. This is when I learned that going after what you want in life comes with some RISK. In July, the waters in Maine reach their warmest of the season. This will bring in Tiger Sharks closer than ever to shore. One time I was sitting approximately 80 yards from shore with two other surfers watching the roll and cadence of the waves so I could catch the next big one.......when looking over my shoulder  .....I caught glimpse of 3 fins quickly approaching the three of us 30 to 40 yards out. There is no time for fear! I yelled: "sharks!!" dropped to the surf board and started paddling towards shore like you wouldn't believe. There was plenty of people on the shore including at least three capable Life Guards. I knew one thing was for sure, we were on our own and we didn't have a second to spare. There was no possible chance for help. I remember paddling and thinking which foot is going to get it first. Seconds seemed like minutes.Thankfully, All three of us caught waves and we surfed to shore safely. A few weeks later I had  the opportunity to see a new movie called "JAWS". That is when I hung up the surf board in the garage for good.

 "Golden Nugget #2": "What are you willing to RISK so you can achieve your life's dream? What your dream? Is it to do your first paid speech? If it is walking away from your job and opening or starting that business or career that you have wanted for years, WILL YOU DO IT? What is that VISION that keeps you up at night? WILL YOU PURSUE IT? Yes, there is RISK in everything we do. There is risk in driving our cars everyday. I have always found that you need to push the limits to achieve something special, to be different and to live different. Too many dreams and goals in get eaten by the two legged negative sharks in life. They could be your friends, family or co-workers. If personal change was easy everyone would be doing and achieving it. The near shark attack I had was a true story. There were plenty of other surfers in the water that day. They were close to shore and playing it safe. They were betting on catching the small waves and they achieved what they set out for. My advice: Go for the extra yardage of effort in your pursuit. Work harder, study harder, prospect harder, look better, sell better and always DREAM BIGGER. If you always strive to stay away from AVERAGE you will leave the AVERAGE thinkers close to shore playing in the small waves while you go out and catch the BIG ONES!

 I look forward communicating with you on the 25th next month.

John P. Slosek, Jr. 
30 years as a Sales Professional and Insurance Agency Owner. He is currently an Exclusive Agency Owner for Allstate in Chicopee, Massachusetts. (413-331-3900)

He is also the host of the "Insurance Coach Radio Show" which has been continuously running for 13 years. His efforts are directed to promote personal change. The show steers towards personal growth and common sense education for his listeners.His personal email:                                        
The show can be heard every Saturday morning at 8 am on 
WARE 1250 AM or 
John is also a Certified Speaker in the area of Sales, Personal Growth, Marketing, Leadership Skills, and Entrepreneurship. He is available by direct contact (413) 246-5037(text). Just in case the speaker you hired cancels, he will make himself available for last minute cancellations for your company or event. John is also licensed to teach John Maxwell material and multi-level marketing concepts.

Friday, October 24, 2014

How you can protect you, and your family, from financial ruin if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident?

Imagine if you were seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by the fault of another. Then imagine that you discover that the responsible driver either did not have any motor vehicle insurance or had minimum limits of insurance coverage that would not properly compensate you for your injuries and damages. Further imagine that the person responsible for causing your accident did not have any assets to satisfy any judgment that might be obtained. What can you do to protect yourself from financial ruin?

In Connecticut, motor vehicle owners are required to carry minimum limits of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage of 20/40. This means that if one person is injured in an accident caused by the fault of another then the most that person can collect from the insurance carrier is $20,000. If multiple parties are involved in one accident, then the most that all of those parties could collect is $40,000.

Unfortunately, when people look to obtain motor vehicle insurance they tend to look no further than the cost to acquire this coverage. As a result, many people purchase the minimum limits of liability coverage. Far worse, many people choose to operate a motor vehicle when they do not have any type of motor vehicle liability insurance.

There is a way that you can protect yourself and your family if you are involved in an accident caused by someone who either does not have any insurance or who has insufficient limits of liability coverage to properly compensate you for your injuries and damages through your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your own motor vehicle insurance policy.

This coverage, UM/UIM, as it is frequently referred to, pays for injuries to you, your passengers, and certain family members who were injured by another driver who is at fault but does not carry any liability insurance coverage (an uninsured motorist or UM claim) or does not have sufficient insurance coverage to properly compensate you for your losses and damages (an underinsured motorist, or UIM claim).

UM/UIM coverage is one of the most important types of insurance you can have under your motor vehicle insurance policy. Buying uninsured/underinsured motorist protection is like buying a liability insurance coverage policy for every driver on the road. The premium for this type of insurance coverage is relatively modest in comparison to the protection it can provide.

There are two types of UM/UIM coverage you can purchase: straight coverage; and conversion coverage. Straight UM/UIM coverage allows your carrier to obtain a deduction from your policy limits for the amount paid by the at fault driver. Conversion coverage does allow your carrier a deduction for any amounts paid by the responsible party's insurance coverage. 

By way of example, let's assume that you have UIM limits of $50,000, and the at fault party has $20,000 in bodily injury coverage, and your case is worth $60,000. If you had straight UIM coverage, you would receive $20,000 from the responsible party's insurance company and $30,000 from your carrier-that is, $50,000 (your UIM limits) less $20,000 (the at fault party's limits), for a total of $50,000. If you had conversion coverage, you would receive $20,000 from the responsible party and $40,000 from your carrier for a total of $60,000.

It is strongly recommended that you carry at least $500,000 of UM/UIM conversion coverage, if not more. You should also have UM/UIM limits equal to your liability insurance coverage and you should never reduce your UM/UIM limits below your liability limits. Again, you may be very surprised to learn how little this additional coverage will cost you. You should also obtain an umbrella policy of at least $1,000,000, or more.

It is important that you contact your insurance agent immediately to discuss your insurance coverage and the options available to you to determine how much it will cost you to augment your current coverage. Unfortunately, we represent far too many accident victims or persons who are seriously injured and there is not enough insurance coverage to properly compensate those victims for their injuries and damages. You can protect yourself from this occurrence, by purchasing sufficient limits of UM/UIM conversion coverage and an umbrella policy.

You should always consult with an experienced Connecticut personal injury lawyer before making any decisions regarding any important legal matters.
Richard P. Hastings, Esq.
Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP
440 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT 06877
(888) 842-8466

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Activating The Power Of Strategic Business Planning

Activating The Power Of Strategic Business Planning
by Rick Forgay,  Founder and CEO, Business Leadership Mastery, LLC.

Why in the world would any Business Owner consider building a company without a Strategic Business Plan necessary to achieve goals, acquire talent, amaze customers, increase revenues   and navigate economies?

When considering the many Corporations and Small Businesses I’ve worked with over decades, only an estimated 3% are dedicated to consistently investing the time, effort, guidance and collaborative communications vital to creating, measuring and monitoring their Strategic Business Plans to insure adherence to their short and long term mission. Only 1% rally empowering company-wide cultures and unifying teamwork in alignment with their Strategic Business Plan and set higher standards for their industry.

Deciding to establish a clearly understood Strategic Business Plan is a sound barometer in identifying the level of disciplined commitment of any chief executive or entrepreneurial leader.          Such a plan should be well defined, yet flexible enough to withstand any economic conditions, marketplace challenges and even natural disasters. I have been asked to help several companies for the very reason that the plan they formerly believed could withstand any adverse situation, failed in actual execution during times of crisis. When a Strategic Business Plan is developed, shared and applied correctly, profits multiply and the empowering culture embraces continuous improvement.

“Excuse-Free”  Leadership

No one I know ever built a home without clearly mapped out blue print with attention to every single detail, including specific timelines, goals, team accountability and budget expectations. We plan for vacations, analyze our favorite sports team’s game plan, create flight plans and plan for major life events. So how can any responsible leader justify starting, building or expanding any company without a Strategic Business Plan?

The two most common excuses I get from leaders invited to join the BLM Academy for Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners is, “I’m too busy to have time to plan” or “Something always has to happen first before I plan.” Unfortunately, they have decided to take a fire, ready, aim approach to business leadership. Among the 97% who make excuses in place of proper planning rarely if ever establish performance standards for their company, nor do they dare to compare their company against other industry standards of excellence. Sustainably successful companies, organizations, institutions, highly accountable leaders and teams are “Excuse-Free” when             Strategic Business Plans that are clearly defined, shared, applied and modified.

Engaging The Power Of Planning

I am emphatic about the value of Strategic Business Planning and Implementation because experiencing the power in clarity of direction and unifying teamwork results in multiplying profits, attracting desired talent and consistently amazing your customers. Everyone wants to be on a winning team. So the next time your favorite team wins big or you experience a symphony perform in perfect precision with every note, take heart they are aligned with a leader who knows the power of planning.

If you’re ready to create your own Strategic Business Plan to achieve your highest goals and ideals, BLM can help.  Please feel free to contact Rick at 413-262-4906 or
Rick Forgay
Founder & CEO
Business Leadership Mastery, LLC.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

100% Focused!

As I rounded the street corner, I could see my house in the distance. Almost home, I thought. I had been running for 45 minutes and the muscles in my mind and body were balanced. Pure bliss. If you are a runner, you can relate to that mind/body balance. That feeling of being in tune with the present – 100% focused.

In business, as in life, it can be a challenge hitting that 100% focused mark, while many other “urgent” pressing matters may be filling up our mind, body and calendar. This accumulation of thoughts saying “finish me now” creates that all too familiar stressful mood, which throws you out of balance. This uneasy mood decreases our focus, as we feel the need to do all the priorities on our to do list – at the same time.

Not. Going. To. Happen.

How can we get grounded, when we feel we may be spiraling out of control?

Try to focus more.

Today it is so easy to be rattled with everyday distractions such as texting, email, phone calls, visitors, meetings, and other pressing matters that seem to be hitting you all at once. The trick is to do…

One. Thing. At. A. Time.

I know what you’re thinking, “That’s impossible!”

Don’t believe me?

Try it for 3 days this week.

What are your priorities?

Make a quick list. Rank them, and start working on one task at a time. If you are working on a month long project, devote one full 100% focused hour to that project today with zero distractions. When that hour is up, go onto your next task. It may be a smaller task or the next phase of another project, but give that 100% focus as well. This will be tough at first, but you must curb the desire to check that smart phone every 5 minutes. You are working on new thought "muscles", so a little "soreness" is normal.

Upon completion of your 3 day challenge, you’ll see the amount of work you accomplished in just 3 days. And you will feel great, like when I rounded the street corner. If you decide to continue past 3 days, great things will begin to happen. Colleagues in your company will begin to take notice in the quality of work you’re presenting on a regular basis, increasing your reliability and integrity. This will lead to more confidence, which in turn can lead to a possible promotion and eventually more money in your pocket. All because you decided to make the commitment of being 100% focused at work.

As a Professional Organizer, Speaker, Author, Podcast Producer & Host, Rick Woods helps residents and businesses make room for clarity, by getting rid of the clutter that gets in their way.

Listen to Rick's free weekly podcast "Make Room For Clarity", which focuses on interviewing business & health experts by visiting

Inquire about Rick's professional organizing business, "The Functional Organizer, LLC.", which focuses on decluttering, organizing, paper filing and time management by visiting