Thursday, February 28, 2008


Report from the hinderland!

I have been using my new hearing aides for about two weeks now and on a scale of 1 - 10, they are an 8.5. There are still situations where I don't hear as well as I would like, but the audiologist told me to keep track of the situations and when I see her for my check-up she would be able to program for those situations.

One challenge I have had is using my cell phone in the car, which I have always done hands-free in the past by using an ear bud. Of course, that won't work now. Evidently, there is Bluetooth equipment that will transmit the phone directly to my hearing aides. NEAT!

My phone, a Blackberry, needed to be replaced anyway but now the motivation was there to replace it because it is not Bluetooth-enabled. My new phone was shipped to me today. I have now spent almost 2 hours on the phone trying to activate my phone. I have been put on hold numerous times, and was cut off once. During the hold time, this pleasant recording warmly told me how easy it is to pay bills "in a flash." Just hang up and start again.

I am not impressed with Sprint's customer service, but somehow I don't think they care. I went to a brick and mortar store to purchase my phone, only to be told it would be shipped to me and that it's easy to get it up and running.


I'm giving them ten more minutes, whoops, she just came back on and told me to punch in some numbers and then asked if I have a Samsung phone, when I have been telling her that it is a Blackberry from the start of this call.


Okay, the phone is working, but even though I asked the lady if email would start too, and she said, "yes," that doesn't seem to be the truth.

Okay, thanks for reading. I just had to get this off my chest.

PS Total time, 2 hours, 10 minutes

Helping Children and Education

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you've read the letters BNI quite a few times. It stands for Business Network International, the world's largest, oldest and most successful referral organization. Ivan Misner started this company over 20 years ago, when he needed to add to his client base. And the rest is history.

About nine years ago, Ivan and his wife, Beth (second from right in photo at the right), decided that they wanted to share some of their success. They formed the Misner Foundation, which supplies grants to schools and programs that benefit children and education.

What's really neat about this foundation is that it is right in line with BNI's referral philosophy. A grant application can only be submitted if it is referred by a BNI member. Now, if there is an organization that surfaces through some other way, Beth will put them in touch with a BNI member in their area, so that a relationship might develop that will lead to a referral.

The grants are $1000 each and Beth's goal is to give as much of the money away as possible. If you'd like to hear more about this you can listen to a podcast here.

If you would develop a foundation, what cause would it support?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

You Mean, You Think I Can Help?????

Yesterday, my day was wonderful!

After launching a new Certified Networker class in spite of the snow, I met with a couple people from the Findlay chamber (or GreaterFindlayInc. as it is now called.) It was such a refreshing meeting.

I felt like Sally Field at the Oscars several years ago when she was amazed that they like her!

Jeremiah Gracia,VP Business Development and Dionne Neubauer, Vice President, asked how I thought we might partner to help the members of the chamber succeed even more. They had some ideas, I had some ideas and we're going to collaborate to determine what works.

Their open-minded welcome was very different from what I've experienced in the past with other similar organizations.

As I said....a breath of fresh air.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Are You a Pusher?

I think the weather had a bead on Certified Networker classes! Again today, we're having a winter storm, with already 8 inches of snow on the ground, more to come later with drifting and blowing to accompany it. But I am going to do all I can to get to Findlay to start another class of CNers! I'm sure glad I got new front tires over the weekend.

I have to comment on a networking situation yesterday. At the lunch time WEN meeting the format is that each person gets a chance to give a short introduction to the big group. Then, at each round table, we get two minutes to tell our other table mates more detailed information. WEN is an organization that is dedicated to the development of relationships.
Here's what happened at my table yesterday. Each person at the table would take her time to speak and during that time would send a pile of business cards, and sometimes extra literature too, around for each person to take.

Now, I'm sorry, but I didn't ask for those people's cards. For some of them, I already have their information. But I must admit that I felt funny not taking cards or info because it looked like I wasn't interested. (In some cases, I probably wasn't!) But to take a card and then just throw it away later, seemed wasteful. If, in fact, the two minute spiel interested me, I would have connected with the person later to schedule an appointment to find out more.

So here's my deal:
  • Don't give me your business card unless I ask for it.
  • I promise I won't give you mine, either, unless you request it.
  • Be interesting enough that I'll want more info.
  • Don't try to tell me everything in the two minutes.
  • Think from my shoes. WFIM.
What's your feeling on all this?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Just a Quickie

Whew, those last three posts were really long! But Leadership Toledo rocks and so I wanted to let the rest of the world know how great the program is!

Some networking thoughts from today.

I met with a new business acquaintance who is also new to the networking scene.

She kept "getting it" as we talked.

It was kind of funny, but still nice funny. Ever so often during the conversation about how to create more business for herself, she'd ask, "but how do I get them interested in me????" Then I'd see the ole' slap the forehead signal, meaning "Oh, yeah, I forgot, it's got to be about them! WIFM."

Another person, who shall remain anonymous, said that she wants more business, but she doesn't want to do anything differently than what she's doing now. And NOW isn't working for her. Hmmmm.

And finally I met with a new prospect for the Board of Action for the Certified Networker community. She was the ultimate in putting off taking the CN class, because she was positive it wouldn't work -- or actually she wanted proof that it would work. She will now step into the shoes of helping people just like her to join the CN community! Thanks Allison.

Tidbits, that's all you get today.

So what's up with you?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Leadership Toledo, Media Day, Part C

As I mentioned in two previous posts here and here, Leadership Toledo Media Day, was packed full!

Today, I'm going to share a few of my observations about our visit to the one daily paper we have in Toledo, The Blade.

We were first met by Kevin Cesarz, who oversees the online presence of The Blade. Kevin feels that this is the way newspapers of the future will exist -- that most of us will read our news online. He asked for a show of hands from our group as to how we read our news. Overwhelmingly, I would say 90% are online readers.

Kevin explained that the online group both leads and follows the "paper" news. They can give later-developing details on a story after the printing deadline and overnight, they can add breaking news to the website, so that early readers get news up to the minute.

One Leadership Toledo classmate asked Kevin what would happen to The Blade if it did indeed become a paperless paper. Kevin smiled and said, "Well, there is a whole production crew that would not be needed. Paper delivery people would also lose their jobs. At this union-based paper, I am sure that there would be a huge howl of protest when and if that happens in the future.

Our next speaker, Dave Murray has been at the paper for 28 years, half of that time in the union and half in management. He gets a call daily from John Robinson Block, the publisher, asking him to give John the news of the day. Dave reads the highlights from a handwritten scrap of paper.

Dave regaled us with stories of his work demonstrating his no b/s personality. He shared that he's only been fired twice by Mr. Block. Obviously, I guess the firings were soon rescinded, but that shows that Dave is willing to stand up to Mr. Block, something not many people do.

Block may be the reason many people don't like the Blade. His news seems to always shine a negative light on Toledo. Dave Murray would argue that the statistics would prove that they have just as much (or more) positive news, but the perception out there is that John Block is not a nice man.

Dave did go to Block's defense by telling us that we would not have The Medical College of Ohio, now part of the University of Toledo, if it hadn't been for Block. Block's mother died when he was five. Years later he read a statistic that people with a teaching hospital nearby were healthier. Knowing how his mother's death had affected him as a child, that one small statistic launched him into action. That year, Ohio was electing a new governor. The two candidates were DiSalle and Rhodes. DiSalle was from Toledo. Even so, Block told Rhodes that the paper would come out in support of his campaign if Rhodes would promise funding for the teaching hospital. The Blade did come out in support of Rhodes and Toledo has a teaching hospital.

The above story is a wonderful report of how Block has done good for the community. But I had to admit that as I was sitting there, I wondered how many times Block has used that power in a less than savory way.

If you had the power of John Block, how would you use it?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Leadertship Toledo, Media Day, Part B

As I mentioned in part A, the Leadership Toledo Media Day, started at WGTE Public Broadcasting station.

I was amazed at all they do. I just thought they were a TV station.

Not only do they have several TV and radio stations, but they also provide a huge educational component to the community. They do this in several ways.

Of course, their programming is focused on the gathering and producing of local history, especially in relation to larger events. A program that is already produced and ready to broadcast on Feb 28 is about how World War II affected the Toledo population at the local level. Many citizens were interviewed of which a smattering will make it to the screen. Even so, the history has been documented for future citizens to refer to.

Another educational component is how the station supports the professional development of teachers, especially with the use of technology. Not only do teachers gain skills in how to use technology in their classrooms (Smartboards, class websites, digital photography, Internet safety) but they can also access a whole library of topics to use for lessons with their students. There is a 75 page printed media guide that lists just about any topic known to man. Subject headings include everything from African American Studies to Women's Studies with Art, Science, Careers and Health just a few in-between. Some listings are just the video and others are "kits" including student activity books, books and something called manipulatives!

And this is all free!

Another initiative is the reading program that they are working on. They are one of five stations nationwide chosen for this grant. They have produced a children's program called Word World (say that fast five times!) and also have a program for early childhood reading development and the parents of these children. Their statistics show that the children they are reaching in this program have been read to a TOTAL of 24 hours when they begin school. You say, "24 hours, that sounds like a lot?" Think about it. That's over a minimum of five years, probably closer to six for most children. Do the math. That is somewhere between 4 - 4.8 hours PER YEAR. ONLY ONE HOUR EVERY THREE MONTHS. (Advantaged children usually have been read to in the range of 1500 - 1700 hours when they start school.)

Of course, much of the funding for a public broadcasting station comes viewers just like you and me. Little did I know how far those dollars stretch.

My year in Leadership Toledo is certainly helping to know where stuff is in Toledo. What I didn't realize that I'd find out was the depth of what each entity offers.

By the way, Leadership Toledo is having their annual breakfast on March 7. It would be a super opportunity for you to find out more about this wonderful organization. You do need to have a reservation to attend. If you are in the NW Ohio area and would like to attend email me at

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Leadership Toledo, Media Day, Part A

Media Day!

That was today. Another fun-fill, fact-fill and interesting Leadership Toledo day!

Have you ever wondered what news you get to read or hear and what articles get buried?

We all met at WGTE Public Broadcasting Station to begin our day. After a very interesting presentation of ALL that WGTE does, we became news editors. We were given short intros of stories that had been pulled off various news feed lines. In small groups we had to decide which ten articles we would include in our newspaper, which six would make a TV newscast and then finally which three would make our radio newscast.

As we were trying to decide which articles we would choose, I said, "Now wait, what reasons or criteria are we using to choose the articles?" In other words, are we trying to gain reader/listenership or do we have another agenda? One person in our group commented that we didn't have time to do that, as we only had two minutes left to finish our task.

After completing our choices, a panel of three (one from newspaper, one from tv and one from radio) helped us to better understand what goes on every day when such decisions are being made.

Brian Trauring, WTVG 13 ABC, shared that yesterday, right about the time when they needed to have a lead story designated for the five o'clock news, there were rumors swirling around town about the firing of a certain city employee. (Our mayor is prone to lopping heads off at the drop of a hat.) He said that everyone at the station pounded the phones trying to get the "real skinny" on the story/rumor. While trying to get to the bottom of the story, Brian was also trying to decide if the rumor about this high profile person, made the rumor a news story anyway. He said that cooler heads than his convinced him not to run the story. It was interesting to hear because the time constraint he described was exactly what our group had just experienced in theory. Only he had really lived through it just 12 hours before. And he probably does it every day.

Tom Watkins, Cumulus Broadcasting, shared that at one point during his radio career, his boss came back from company meetings and shared that some higher-ups wanted Tom to "lean more to the right" in his show. His boss also said that he was not telling Tom to do this. Tom did not. But that brought forth a lot of questions from the Leadership gang about how the news might be slanted or altered. All three on the panel including Kim Bates, The Toledo Blade, city editor, agreed that their job is to produce an unbiased as possible report. They did admit that all reporters or news people do have opinions (after all they are human, too!) but they do try to stay as neutral as possible.

Tomorrow, I will tell you a little bit more about all the good works of WGTE and then in the next couple days I will tell you about our afternoon at the Toledo Blade - the paper everyone loves to hate.

On the way home I got to thinking -- what would happen if all national political candidate's stories were banned from the media? Instead there would only be a special website run by neutral observers, where candidates filed white papers on their platforms. (I know, I know, websites are considered media, but you know what I mean.)

What do ya' think?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sock It To Me!

Ya' just never know.

I met with Bryon Traynoff last week. He is a new member of my BNI chapter and owns BT Home Revitalizing. We spent some time chatting, getting to know each other. As a result, Bryon, asked what other things I was involved with.

I told him about Leadership Toledo and how my sub group is working on helping Hannah's Socks become a better and larger non-profit. Hannah's Socks accepts donations of socks and then gives them to the various shelters for those who might not have socks, or at least dry socks.

Bryon said, "You want more socks?"

That was Thursday.

Today is only Monday, but in that time, I have talked with Bryon's dad, George Traynoff, who had talked with his friend, David York, who manages American Knitting in North Carolina. George told me to call Candy, who works for David. With that one phone call, 30 dozen pairs of socks are going to come Hannah's Socks way. That's 360 pairs of socks. And Candy said that we can ask for more.

All because Bryon was interested enough to ask questions.

Thanks Bryon!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What's Important?

I hafta' tell you how proud I am.

Today I talked with my second son, Andy. He lives north of Detroit about two hours from here, so we don't see each other that often. Because of that, I don't always know what's happening in his life. You know, I get the big picture, but not the details.

Today he called just to chat. We were talking about all the snow days his kids have already had this year. Last week they again had a lot of snow, but his older daughter, Kaitlyn, surprisingly had school. He had the day off, so he kept his younger daughter, Lauren, home from daycare with him.

I asked what they did.

The made the usual rounds; work to pick up his check, the bank to deposit it, Home Depot for a hot dog and someplace else for another food item. But here is the part that just melted my heart.

After all those stops they drove over to Mr. Barnes. This is a 90 year old man that Andy keeps an eye on. Mr. Barnes is a customer of the tire store Andy manages. But Andy knows that Mr. Barnes has no one to watch over him. So on Andy's day off, he spends an hour or two chatting it up with Mr Barnes. Andy says that Mr Barnes always has a "project" for Andy -- something that pleases Andy to do. Recently he put some tar on the roof of one of the old barns.

My parents did the same thing. When we moved to Lyndonville, NY, our next door neighbor, Mrs. Smith, was in her late 80's and even though she had children in town, they didn't seem to be around much or at all. My parents took on the job of watching over Mrs. Smith. She didn't even have a phone, so they went over every day just to make sure everything was okay. On Sundays they sent over a plate of our dinner, because Mrs. Smith didn't like to leave her house. I mowed her lawn for her, although she did pay me 35 cents to do it. It was fun to sit and talk with her about her childhood.

I am so proud of my son that he will spend his valuable time helping someone else. I'm sure that he has a thousand projects around the house that need his attention, but he gives to Mr. Barnes first. Andy knows what's important.

Really I am speechless. I don't think I even begin to give half so much of myself.

Friday, February 15, 2008

On Point!

While I was away, I missed a Leadership Toledo day -- this being culture day. I was disappointed to not be here, but have gotten a report on the day from both Erika Harris and Brad Augustyniak.

Brad told me that he appreciated the time they spent with the young ballerina in the morning. "Now, don't get me, wrong, it didn't make me want to be a part of the ballet scene, but I did come away with a greater appreciation for what it takes to be a ballerina." He was amazed at all the time it took to get to the proficiency that this dancer exhibited and he was totally taken aback about the dancing shoes.

Brad said, "Did you know that professional ballerina's change their ballet slippers every three days or so whereas the students can use theirs for three or four weeks? And each pair costs $80!"

I am sorry that I was not able to see the dancers, view the art at the art museum and listen to the symphony practice, but through Brad's ears and eyes, I did get a little bit of culture day.

Thanks, Brad!

P.S. And speaking of culture the Dale Chihuly glass exhibit at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh has been extended to Feb 24. If you have any chance at all to get to Pittsburgh to see this exhibit, you will thank your lucky stars you did. It will take your breath away over and over and over as you step into each new room.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Stupidity vs. the Liar

This past weekend the mayor of Toledo, Carty "the mouth" Finkbeiner again made Toledo look really stupid. You see the marines from Grand Rapids, MI, had planned an urban exercise for the weekend in Toledo. They had all their advance permissions to do this, as they have done before. Or so they thought. As they were arriving, a representative of the mayor met their first bus and basically told them that the welcome mat had been withdrawn. You can read about this here.

But I guess we have to put stupidity in relation to lying and cheating. Here's why.

On the 27th of January when we were in the Detroit airport, waiting for our flight to Costa Rica, the big story was that the mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, had lied under oath about whether he had an intimate relationship with a top aide. This was during a whistle blower trial a couple years ago where two police officers were saying that they were fired because of their investigation of his security detail having covered up such a relationship. The case was settled out of court and cost the city 8.2 million dollars, paid for by tax dollars. Detroit, like any major city is cash-strapped at best.

Fast forward to now. The Detroit Free Press got their hands on some records of text messages that Kwame and his aide sent to each other on city-owned phones. The graphic messages left nothing to be imagined. It was obvious that there had been an intimate relationship. Kilpatrick's studly response is, "No, I'm not going to resign. After all, I'm a guy, I'm a dude, I'm a man, I'm a person, I've got a wife and children. There are things I don't want out on the street."

So there you have it folks. You have to put it in perspective.

Carty = stupid
Kwame = cheat
Carty = $10,000 loss to the Marines for expenses
Kwame = $8.6 million loss to the citizens of Detroit

This in no way lets Carty off the hook. Please Carty, get someone to talk for you and stop making us look stupid. I don't care if you want to personally look like you didn't get past second grade, but I am tired of getting swept into your little forays.

But this is not the end of this whole story.

You see, buried in the Detroit article about good ole' boy Kwame, is the fact that his aide resigned the day after this all hit the papers. Yep, you got it.

The woman took the fall.

For that I am livid. Kwame struts around like a little Banty rooster, while the woman slinks off to lick her wounds.

What's wrong with this picture?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Who'd of Thunk?

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, at the jungle Super Bowl party I met an author, Michael Cruit. Mike has been in Costa Rica for a long time now, living at the the place where the Sierpe River empties in the Pacific. That's even farther out there than Tracy's house. Michael has to come to town to get Internet.

Anyway, Michael has self-published his first book via

Big deal, ya' say?

Well, you're right, there are a lot of self-published authors out there.

Michael had a copy of his book at Tracy's house. Fastball Fari is a fictional account of the first female, professional baseball pitcher. Now I think just the premise of the book makes me want to read it. But even better is Michael's style. His sentence are short -- real short. The read is fast. I could have really gotten into the book that night, but realized that good author etiquette was to purchase the book to read it! If this sounds good to you, you can also do the same, either as a paperback or a download.

When Michael gets his load of books, who do you think he should send marketing copies to? I will forward your suggestions on to him.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cultural Divide

One highlight of our trip to Costa Rica this year was the Super Bowl Party in the jungle. You see, Bradd, the owner of the lodge, is originally from Providence, Rhode Island and of course is a fan of the Patriots.

Tracy, a young American who has lived in CR for a decade or so, built a home in the middle of nowhere several years ago. It is truly is a palace, a simple palace. Actually, she rents this place out now, having built herself another home nearby. Anyway, we hiked the hot, sweaty 30 minutes to her house carrying all the bottles of beer, booze, ice and mixer. I must admit that when one of the guys offered to carry my backpack, I allowed him to do that!

What was really funny about the game in the jungle, (the tv was powered by the generator) was that the audio feed was in Spanish. And the announcer sounded like he was calling a soccer game. I hope you know what I mean -- the lengthening of the excited voice. "And he's over the Lin-n-n-n-n-e (only in Spanish)" which the tone going up and then down. Listen to a soccer game and you'll understand. Also, none of the commercials were the new ones.

I met an author at the party. I'll write about him soon. It's an interesting story.

The walk back in the dark was challenging. I made it back without falling on the slippery mud until I stepped onto a stump that had a hole in it. Luckily, no injury!

So what's the most unusual Super Bowl party you've ever attended?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Book Report from Paradise

As you all know, my job on vacation is to read up a storm.

Here are this year's results:

Citizen Vince by Jess Walter- I picked this up from the bargain table at Barnes & Noble. Not the type I'd usually read - intrigue and murder, but I was trying to diversify my choices this year. OK, story. Probably a reason it was on the less than $5 table.

Sellevision by Augusten Burroughs - I have now read all his books. Hurry up and write some more Augusten! He is so bad that he's good. I don't mean bad, as in a bad writer, but in all his stories. He makes me laugh out loud, cause he does the things that I wish I had the guts to do. This book is more fiction than his others, which are memoirs, but I'm sure this book came from bits and pieces of his life. This book has no redeeming qualities. But I would read anything Augustine writes.

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger - I actually listened to this on the plane. It got me through the seven hours of flying so that I wasn't grumpy when I arrived. It was sort of like People Magazine for my ears. I have heard that this is based a real life. H-m-m-m, I would have lasted about two seconds at that job.

Atonement by Ian McEwan - Whew! I almost threw this down more times than not. And I only continued cause I had several more days of vacation and only one more book yet to read after it. Finally after 148 pages it got good. But good grief, Ian likes to string out lots of flowery phrases and repeat himself. Sometimes I wondered if I'd fallen asleep and was reading the same paragraph over again, but no, it was a new paragraph, just rehashing a previous paragraph. I don't usually like reading about war stories, but the writing of the time where the Brits were retreating to Dunkirk (during WWII) was skillfully done. I'm glad I didn't let this book get the best of me, but I must admit that I'm a little hesitant to read anything else by this man.

Sixteen Pleasures by Robert Hellenga - Well, it was okay. I liked the whole premise around the story; antique book conservation with a sub-plot of religious political in-fighting, but the story was too tidy. I kept expecting some twist or turn or surprise to happen, but it was pretty straight and narrow.

What's this all have to do with networking. Well, any good networker shares knowledge with others. But in addition, I thought about how an author through his or her writing can establish a relationship with the reader...or not!

In the case of Augusten Burroughs, I want long term and conversely, Ian McEwan, I am leaning towards no relationship at all.

Who is your favorite author and why does that person engage you?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

One Person Makes the Difference

People ask us why we always go to the same place in Costa Rica every year.

Bradd Johnson is a big reason.

Bradd is the owner of Aguila de Osa, an American from Rhode Island, who has been committed to this lodge and this small community for over a decade. He is the largest employer in the community. Now you have to realize that he only has 13 rooms, so we're not talking about a high-rise. (Thank goodness for that!)

He is a fair man and gives people a chance to prove themselves before they even know they can do something. He is a mentor to many. He will be the first to admit that he makes mistakes and so when others do, he just wants them to learn and grow.

Bradd knows the names of all his guests even though they usually only stay three maybe four days. (Bradd does have a bumper sticker saying that he has CRS - Can't remember shit.) We are the exception, staying in one place as long as we do. He takes the time to find out about each guest and see the interesting ways each one has.

Just put yourself in his place. You run the joint worrying about cash flow and making sure that you can set aside a little cushion for the unexpected. You develop talent to manage the place and support their continued professional growth. And then with some you have to let them fly away, because it is time for them to go it alone. You have to make the day-long run (really a crawl) into San Jose several times a month to bring supplies needed to keep the place going.

You do all this and then at night you have to be the charming host during cocktail hour and dinner. Bradd is the ultimate networker, because his conversations are always centered on that guest.

Could you do that with a smile 365 days a year?